Meet the Hardworking Veterans Offering a Safe Passage to Chicago Youth

March 18, 2015

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This past year, I had the pleasure to spend time with veterans involved in a program to help students get to school safely. Leave No Veteran Behind is a non-profit that hires recent and long-time US veterans in various programs.  I had arranged to spend time with Aleia and Cedrik, two supervisors with LNVB who led patrols for a program called Safe Passage, an initiative where adults command the sidewalks on the routes to and between neighborhoods and schools. But it seemed each time we arranged to shoot was a day when there were few to no students. The first day I arranged to spend with them turned out to be a big testing day and only a handful of Juniors were at the high schools. We tried again close to the end of the school year, but the principal let the students out early.

But I did manage to get enough footage so that we could cut together a story worthy of the group and what it does for veterans and the communities they serve. My thanks to Jacob Templin at NationSwell, editor Thomas Shomaker and editing assistant Martine Granby. Have a look:

Photographer, filmmaker, digital cinema innovator and Medill alum Vincent Laforet coming to CPC March 7th

February 28, 2015

LaForetPoster_webThe Chicago Photography Center is hosting the magnificent Vincent Laforet at the Center on March 7th. Mr. Laforet comes to CPC as a Canon Explorer of Light, and will give a keynote talk at 4pm.

Vincent, a three-time winner at the prestigious 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, is a director and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who is known for his forward-thinking approach to image-making and storytelling. In addition to having been commissioned by just about every important international publication—including Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, and Life—Vincent is considered a pioneer both for his innovative tilt-shift and aerial photography and in the field of HD-capable DSLR cameras. In fact, his short film Reverie, Canon Explorer of Lightthe first 1080p video shot with a still camera, was seen by more than 2 million times on the first week of its release in 2009. 

He’s also an alumnus of the Medill School at Northwestern University.

The Chicago Photography Center is located on 621 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago, in the old Parish House of St. Peter’s Episcopal church.

More details on the CPC open house can be found on this flyer.


Chicago Election Night with the Medill News Service

February 25, 2015

Flooding the zone with reporters, cameras, tweets, vines, and everything that you might read, watch or hear, with the Medill News Service.

A Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death

December 29, 2014

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Please give your attention to an investigative piece New York Times reporter/video journalist Brent McDonald produced and reported (with Deborah Sontag). The 17(ish)-minute documentary piece accompanies an in-depth story, currently on the home page of The piece tells the story of the chairman of the tribes on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, who has profited from the oil boom that has taken North Dakota by storm. But the chairman had some business dealings that led to charges of corruption, and the murder of two men.

Brent reported and shot the story over several months. With a deadline moved up, Brent had only a week or so to make a film from the many hours of footage he had gathered. To help him meet the deadline, I spent a few days with Brent to help move the editing process along. I’m pleased to see how the documentary came out. It’s solid reporting, told well.


Ricochet Part Six debuts on Not Standing for Silence

December 13, 2014

When Stephen Franklin and I were working on the series that came to be called Ricochet for MSNBC Originals, he would tell people we were interviewing that it was a six-part series. I told people it was a five-part series, because that was what it was meant to be originally. But part of one of the segments made more sense to be a separate piece, so we created it as a standalone story. Because I hate to admit I was wrong, here is part six of the five part series.


Artist Jeff Abbey Maldonado supervises teen artists as they complete work on a mural in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago.

Kidding aside, this is released to coincide with the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders in Newtown, Connecticut, when the parents of 20 children — and six staffers — had their normal changed forever.

In reporting this series we met many families who are determined to turn their grief over a child lost to gun violence into a positive force. They are, as one parent said, part of an “unfortunate club.” In this story, we meet Jeff Maldonado, a father and artist who is using his creativity to build community in Pilsen in Chicago. And Rep. Robin Kelly meets with parents, and explains why she no longer stands when Congress holds moments of silence for the victims of mass shootings.Ricochet06_Still03

MSNBC series Ricochet screens at well-attended event

December 11, 2014

Photos courtesy the Illinois Humanities Council

The six-part video-documentary series Ricochet: Life in a City Under Siege from Guns, played to a large audience as part of an event called Reporting Back, the first of several events in a new initiative by the Illinois Humanities Council and the Community Media Workshop. It screened in the cinema at Columbia College, with an incredible projection system. Stephen Franklin, my partner on the project, and I introduced the piece, and a lively discussion followed with key figures in media, law enforcement, the city and social services.



Reporting Back: Perspectives on Violence in Chicago Communities

December 10, 2014

Please join me, the Illinois Humanities Council and the Community Media Workshop for a screening of our MSNBC series followed by a discussion on covering violence in Chicago, featuring key figures in Windy City media.

violence-solutions_jpegfrompdfHow can community issues be fairly represented in the media? What does the media do well when reporting on gun violence in Chicago, and what stories still need to be told? What roles should the media play in developing solutions to gun violence and other pressing issues facing Chicago communities? The IHC and the Community Media Workshop invite you to a conversation with top media leaders and stakeholders December 10, following a screening of “Ricochet,”the MSNBC miniseries on gun violence in Chicago directed by journalist Stephen Franklin and Medill School of Journalism Professor Craig Duff.

Panelists at the Columbia College event include Jim Kirk, Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief of Chicago Sun-Times; Alison Scholly, COO of Chicago Public Media; Janey Rountree, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s deputy chief of staff for public safety, Elena Quintana, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Institute on Public Safety & Social Justice at the Adler School of Professional Psychology and Susy Schultz, president and executive director of CMW. The evening kicks off a three-month reporting project partnering journalists with community residents to produce multimedia stories on key community issues in Chicago.

See more

6:00pm – 8:00pm
Columbia College Chicago, Film Row Cinema
1104 South Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL, 60605

Free, open to the public.

Registration is required


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