Monday, May 18, 2009

every day, sun

On the way to New York City to see my girlfriend before working for the summer in Washington, DC. But right now I can't even think about work; I'm just excited to have three weeks off.

I'm actually at the airport now, way to early in the morning, watching the sun rise over Phoenix. It would be a beautiful—albeit hot—day, but they say you need some cloudy days to appreciated the sunny ones. In a very literal sense, I hope I get some cloudy days this summer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

court reporting, unfettered perspective

Just got back from covering a case at the Maricopa County Superior Court.

It's great to hang out in the courthouse as a reporter. The whole building has a sense of importance about it -- everything pomp and circumstance. I also find the proceedings fascinating. All the ritual, grandeur, and importance associated with law and justice in our society entices my longing for a meaningful career and even a well-earned sense of self-importance.

However, as a court reporter, you get your own sense of importance. A ghost in the midst of those affected, I can observe everything while withholding my own judgments -- there is enough judgment already. I feel a voyeuristic euphoria, jotting notes as the lives of those around me alter or come crashing down. This is the battlefield where academic pursuits of justice and ethics meet the concrete reality of human lives -- and myself, the ethereal observer floating above it all.

Or is that too poetic? It would be great to cover courts as a beat reporter. Yet, the environment also appears too formal, too planned, too...disingenuous. The high drama of the court contrasts with its lack of potential for description or inspiration. And in the courtroom, everyone has an agenda. It's hard to distinguish remorseful tears from calculated appeals for lenience -- one action, two very opposite interpretations.

Awash in interpretation, journalistic values become the confident armor of the reporter. The safety of facts lifts me above doubt, and the disaffection of my mission removes me from the emotional game. No matter the verdict, story in hand, I win.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama's commencement speech, -11 hours

So, I got assigned to do some reporting around Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium for The Arizona Republic. Too bad it was almost eleven hours before President Obama spoke.

I'm pretty pleased with my job, though. I spent about three hours wondering the stadium and campus, talking to anyone who looked remotely interesting, which turned into quite a few people. I would then call in to the newsroom with the gathered material and quotes. Not to be too self-congratulatory, but I feel it was a bit of an accomplishment to milk as much story out of the pre-Obama set up as I did. AND my name held on to the byline spot for most of the day. Of course, I was eventually bumped off by the full-time, staff reporters, but it was still good to contribute. My name is still at the end.

I've gotten pretty good at interviewing -- particularly impromptu, unanticipated interviews. The confidence and ability to walk up to someone on the street and politely interrogate them until I get the material I need has really boosted my reporting. Even my editor commented, "There was nothing going on, but Channing turned it into something."

I'm pretty satisfied with that one.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

finals week -> fabrication week

As predicted, finals have been relatively easy. Yet, I still find myself completely busy—how does this happen?

Websites. That's how this happens. I've been spending great amounts of time designing my two websites from scratch for my Online Media class, which apparently takes TONS of time. It would also help if my design ideas were more straightforward and easy, but these are the tribulations of aesthetic perfectionists.

I'm rather impressed by how our group site is developing—which is good, considering it's due Tuesday. I'll link to it as soon as it's complete and online.I also updated my personal site. I only tweaked it a bit, but it's a bit better looking and more functional now. I think the next step is buying a more SEO friendly domain name, but who wants to fork over 4 bucks a year plus hosting, right?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

last of the opinions!

I need to quickly link to my last column of the semester!

This one is based of a real news story I covered for The Arizona Republic. Since about 80% of the time I talk about journalism with my friends the conversation turns to how bias the media is, I thought it would be interesting to address the issue from a candid, experience-style narrative.

Being a columnist and journalist provides a great opportunity for public—and published—reflection on stories that most news organizations try zealously to stomp out. I even thought it might be risky to voice my opinions after covering the story, so I took care to make the column as balanced too. The point really isn't my opinion anyway (confusing, right?), it's the lets-talk-about-it approach to our beliefs, and how we confront adversity. Ultimately, it's just about setting it all aside and getting the job done.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

live on the Web

My personal website went online yesterday!

I've been working on it for a while and think it turned out pretty nicely, considering it's the first time I've ever worked on web-page design. The learning curve wasn't that bad; it just took a lot of time to assemble all the pieces. It also helped that my roommate is a computer wizard, able to swiftly conjure answers to all my problems.

Now I'm just working on my project website, which is a collaboration between myself and three other journalists from the Cronkite School. It's coming together nicely, but I just couldn't muster the will to work on it today—too much web design lately. Luckily, it's not due until next week, so we have plenty of time. It's pretty incredibly what you can create with the right software and an eye for creativity. Our site may be entered into some journalism contests, so we're giving it our all.

Friday, May 1, 2009

when you give a journalist design tools...

As part of my Online Media class for school, I've been designing websites from scratch and learning about web design. The whole thing is way more interesting than I thought -- and I thought it would be interesting.

I'm still not done, of course. But soon I should have a website promoting me as a professional journalist and a site I collaborated on with three other classmates to present a journalistic story/issue. It's the way of the future: cyber-self-publication, and I couldn't be more excited about it. I have uncompromising control over my content, from story to presentation. Yes, it's labor intensive, but the end product is completely mine -- exactly what I want it to be.

It's almost detrimental to my mental focus. I've spent hours tweaking simple aesthetics. Just when I think I've come to a breaking point, I notice something that should be fixed or improved upon. It's incredibly addictive, and I'm probably spending too much time on it. Luckily, I'm only marginally concerned about finals this semester or this could have been a problem.

It's been a lot of fun designing the website. It's thrilling in an unexpected way. Using Photoshop and Dreamweaver simplifies all the details and makes it way too easy to create a professional looking website. It has been a real eye-opener to the potential the web provides journalists, and a convincing reason not to lose hope in the face of crumbling media giants.

I will definitely be posting/linking to my site once it's complete.