Monday, March 19, 2018

How to Deal with Lack of Coverage of Public Meetings

You could enlist citizens.

“There are hundreds of public government meetings, from the police board to local school councils, the education board, it goes on. A lot of these meetings are not reported on, and some of that’s through lack of [local reporters] — for example, DNAinfo,” said Darryl Holliday, City Bureau’s co-founder/editorial director and a former DNAinfo Chicago reporter, in explaining the existing setup in Chicago. “A lot of those meetings are not attended by the public. There will be meetings that go on where there’s literally no one there from the public present for these really big decisions that affect us in a lot of different ways. Documenters can be trained, and in our case paid, to go out and document these public meetings for the public.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Laberinto 1 (del Nordisk familjebok)
Laberinto 1 (del Nordisk familjebok) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Begin with a scene from the labyrinth, or at least the church. I want you to interview at least three other people who are there, either walking or observing. If the cathedral has not changed the way the walk is organized, a docent will take groups into a side chapel and explain the history of labyrinth walking. You will quote him or her.

* Of course, I want you to walk the labyrinth. This may become a very personal experience during which you think on your past life and philosophy, or on some current challenge. You may choose to write in detail about this or you may not. You may choose to be "objective," relying on observation and description, and on comments by others. But if you do choose to share your own experience, make it a separate story, a sidebar.   

* You have an option. One of these two stories may be longer than the other. You may choose to emphasize your personal experience or the news feature.

* Here are some leads from past stories from Arts Review classes. These approaches are fine for your personal story. But in any case, I want you to write a traditional news feature about the experience. I urge you to give this experience a try. This is extra credit, though it can substitute for a story you missed. No one gets a bad grade on this assignment:

- Driving east up the hill on California Street, Grace Cathedral’s size and ruddy color loom from the surrounded buildings, playground and opulent hotels and venues. Inside, I find the architecture and artistry astonishing, busying with myself with taking photographs I might share with my mother. It was also to stall in participating in the “meditative labyrinth," something which made me feel the opposite of the enthusiasm I had about playing photographer.

This “meditative labyrinth” and its accommodating choir was exactly what I wanted to avoid. My mother said, “You should try it and take it seriously,” but I had already done such things in elementary school all the way through high school, completely being negative to the whole experience or what they call, “closing yourself from God."

- I can not remember the last time that my Grandpa broke-wind in a church.  I actually can not remember the last time he was even in a church.  But there he was, crop-dusting his lunch gas across the Grace Cathedral's candle-lit corridors.  My Grandma was quite embarrassed, but I believe that it added to the experience.

There we were, at the top of Nob Hill inside the old stone place of worship, where pigeons and bums take refuge and all religions are welcome.  It wasn't the devotion service or the architecture that drew us in, but what was built into the nave's floor. 

- Many people seek to find themselves. I’ll admit, growing up in my teens, I did not know who or what kind of person I wanted to be. In the Jewish Community, a Bar Mitzvah signifies as a rite of passage to who a boy is to become but I wasn’t Jewish. For others, finding self can occur through hot-stone yoga, a run at Golden Gate Park, or at the Labyrinth in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. 

There it lay, the labyrinth at the center of the church. It wasn’t exactly what I expected to be there when I heard that I was visiting a labyrinth. My first thought was that we were going to be lab rats in a maze in search of the cheese.

- I was raised a Christian Scientist – no, not Scientology (though I do favor the notion that aliens exist) – a religious practice that puts the power of healing into God’s hands and not a physicians. I would go to Sunday school, draw some pictures of God (who apparently looks like a firefly...), and not pay any attention to the Bible stories being taught. As the members of our church steadily began to die from old age, untreated sicknesses and suicide, I began cementing my notion that religion is utter garbage. This is the view I had all throughout my adolescence: that religion is a bunch of trite fiction that gets renamed and recombined; subsequently spurring people of “different” faiths to annihilate one another through endless warfare. As we all recall, adolescence is a time full of angst, and these notions were certainly fueled by my anti-authoritarian fervor. 

Here's a recent San Francisco Chronicle story on the labyrinth.

 Only about half of the people who’d arrived at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral for a recent Candlelight Labyrinth Walk decided to attend the the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress’ pre-walk explanation of the labyrinth’s process and purpose. Artress gathered her small group out of the main cathedral and into the AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel, in a wing just off the front doors. A portion of the original AIDS quilt hung on a wall facing Artress as she cheerfully offered advice and history on walking the labyrinth.

Outside the chapel, many of the folks who had already begun to walk had no idea they were missing a free explanation by the godmother of the modern labyrinth movement.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

British Comedian Has Lessons for American Journalism

English: John Oliver, American Comedian Origin...
English: John Oliver, American Comedian Original description by Ted Kerwin: :Mitch and I were interviewed by John Oliver, lets see if we make the cut. :We made it at 1:30 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
John Oliver says he's not a journalist, but he has some good ideas.

But save the usual sarcasm and biting jokes at the state of the world that keeps everyone in the conference room belly-laughing, Oliver has a lot to say about how to report on President Donald Trump. Given the daily onslaughts on the media from the White House, the crusade against facts, and the labeling of any dissent or critique as "fake news," these lessons are critical and welcomed.

Friday, February 09, 2018

A Journalist at Work

The famous Michael Lewis

Before I go to bed I send him a note. I’d planned to go watch the State of the Union address at the Capitol. I now think I’d rather watch Bannon watch the State of the Union address. Bannon is understandably gun-shy after the Wolff saga. He’d agreed to meet me for lunch so long as we spoke on background, and he had the right to vet any quotes. So I suggest safe terms: I tell him I’d like to record his play-by-play thoughts about Trump’s big speech, on the record -- though if he says anything he regrets in the moment he can just tell me, and I won’t use it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bear Traps on the Final Exam (Watch Your Feet)

Big Bad Wolf
Big Bad Wolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. At least every other paragraph, source your material:

 * Police said... 
 * According to police...
 * According to the police report... 
 * xxxxx told police that...

2. Unless someone is arrested, do NOT include her/his name.

3. If someone IS arrested but that person is 17 or under, do NOT include his/her name.

4. Only include so-called racial identifiers - an Asian woman, a Hispanic or Latino man,  a black or African-American woman if:

* the incident might be considered a hate crime, that is, a crime in which the so-called race/ethnicity of one of those involved in some way precipitated the incident. In that case the race/ethnicity of a victim or of someone who was arrested might be included.

* the preceding not being true, someone is a suspect in a crime (i.e., has NOT been arrested/is still out there) AND

* the description is sufficiently detailed that it might aid in the apprehension of the person who committed the crime.

The Department of Public Safety received information from the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) on Saturday, July 4 that an attempted rape with force occurred on June 28 at approximately 12:30 pm at the French Quarter Laundromat at 2601 McAllister at Stanyan.

The suspect is described as a white male, possibly Hispanic, medium complexion, 20 to 23 years old, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds with a full trimmed beard.  He was last seen wearing a brown rock-band t-shirt, possibly a Metallica shirt, brown corduroy jean pants and a back pack.  He was accompanied by a mutt pit bull dog, tan and white in color on a brightly colored leash.

5. Don't announce as fact something that you don't know and that none of your sources actually said.  Example: According to the police report, the professor was waving a large stick and complaining in general terms - let us say about being late to class -about his students who were standing nearby. Several students told police they felt threatened.

Do NOT say that the professor was threatening his students. You can only describe what police said his actions were and what the police said the students felt about those actions: According to police, several of the professor's students who were standing nearby felt threatened when the professor waved a large stick while complaining about them.

Do you see the distinction?

6. If the person's age is available, give it.

7. Beware of writing in chronological order, that is, beginning with the first thing that happened and gradually working your way down to the most important thing that happened, that is, The News. Put the most important information at the top.

A local wolf was killed yesterday after falling into a pot of boiling water while attempting to crawl down the chimney of a house that he had tried but failed to blow down moments before.
  The water had been put in place by the homeowner, a local pig acting, he told police, to protect himself and his two brothers whose homes had been blown down by the wolf earlier, and who had then fled to their brother’s home.
    The pig told police his home is made of brick. His brothers' homes, he said, were made respectively of sticks and straw. (100 words)

For those who've forgotten the tale, here is a more benign version:


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Week of April 24

1) Your Big Story is not due until Friday at midnight.

2) With one exception,   I am not giving any extensions. Write your story as if the information you have at the moment of writing is all that you will have. If there are holes in the story because sources have not responded, acknowledge that in the text.

3) However, if a source comes through after deadline, add that source to the story and resubmit.

4) No AP style test until a week from Wednesday.

5) No class on Wednesday. I will be in my office 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. for consultation. I can be consulted at home by phone other days and times.

6) Some of you still owe me your beat memo. ASAP please.

7) You have all been invited to enroll in Videolicious. Do so.