I had the great pleasure of leading the video team at the extraordinary New York Times Student Journalism Institute, an annual event sponsored by the Times, the NABJ, the Boston Globe and Dillard University. The institute brings 24 minority student journalists (along with a couple dozen editors and teachers) to the Dillard campus in New Orleans’ Gentilly neighborhood to spend two weeks reporting stories in one of the storiest places on the planet. This year, students completed four video stories ranging from volunteerism and mentoring to issues surrounding adoption for same-sex couples and the continuing lure of tattoos (and those who wish to have the permanent marks removed). There might just be a fifth, if the student can muster up the energy to finish it. Have a look at stories by Patrice Peck, Kenneth Ware Jr., Stephon Dingle and Chiyenumugo Odigwe:
Not that I am anywhere near the legendary status of Edward R. Murrow, but I did have the privilege to be interviewed by Lawrence Pintak, the founding dean of the Murrow School at Washington State University. He does a regular series called the Murrow Interview, and invited me as a guest on the program recently. Larry and I chatted in front of a live audience of high school journalists in Seattle for a convention. We talked about covering the Arab Spring, the immediacy of citizen journalism, the angst in journalism over those same citizen journalists, and changes in the industry that point toward a video-friendly future.
I took students from the New York Times Student Journalism Institute to the Bayou Boogaloo today to shoot the Rubber Duck Derby – 15,000 rubber ducks dumped in the Bayou for a race for charity. People pay $5 for a duck in the race, and the winning number won a car. Unfortunately, the video camera wasn’t functioning, so I ended up shooting a few things with my 5D and only a 24-70mm lens, which wasn’t nearly long enough to get good shots of the race. But here are some duckies to look at. The national guard volunteered to retrieve the ducks (which were kept from floating away by a boom on the water’s surface) and put them in crates to use again next year.
Here are some photos of my new place in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. I have much of everything in place, but I’m still working on organizing the stuff you can’t see — like boxes of CDs and other things in closets. But it was together enough that I could host my first party – a housewarming gathering of 25 souls, 20% of whom were named Elizabeth (two Beths, a couple of Lizzes and a Zib).
In college, I performed in a dinner theater production of a play called Bad Habits by Terrence McNally. It’s a pair of one-act plays each taking place in a sanatorium. The facility in the second act is called Ravenswood, and I played a groundskeeper and helper named Bruno, described by a local reviewer as “grubby, leering and over-sexed.” The nurses were named Benson and Hedges. I chased one of them around the stage, exposing myself to her and saying “hubba-hubba Hedges!” I remember an elderly couple who were regular theater patrons pulled me aside at a later performance of a different play and asked “how could you play such a filthy character?” I told them I was just acting. I’m rarely that despicable.
Now I live in Ravenswood, and it’s not a sanatorium. And there are no nurses in my building. But I do live in a third floor penthouse with 14-foot ceilings in the living room/kitchen and a strikingly beautiful set of front windows looking out on the trees and the birds. A friend tonight called it an aerie. And I just adopted that as the name for my home. An aerie in the wood filled with ravens.