Archive for the ‘washingtonpost.com’ Category

A few hours ago, The Washington Post published a story about a mother who died soon after giving birth to her first son.

A tremendously tragic story, no doubt. Everyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for babies, small children and expectant/new mothers, so these kinds of stories do hit me pretty hard.

What separates this particular story from other, previously-reported unexpected-death-after-a-happy-milestone stories is how it was told: The reporter, Ian Shapira, and his editor decided to use Facebook. That is, they used the mother’s own Facebook status updates.

Excerpts of how Shapira used Facebook to tell Shana's story.

Be sure to check out the story if you haven’t already, before you continue reading. Shapira explains in this blog post why he decided to use Facebook and Shana’s own updates.

The tragedy/newsworthiness/value of the story aside, let’s think about the storytelling method. I’m a little conflicted over this.

It’s a different approach to storytelling, for sure. We at 10,000 Words have discussed various storytelling tools and methods, but taking Facebook status updates and using Facebook’s code/language are something new. But so what if it’s different? Does that mean it’s effective? Does that mean it’s the best way to tell a story?

Shapira explains in the blog post: “Beyond showing readers the gripping dialogue between Shana and her friends, we thought such a story could capture and tell us something about the very modern way that we communicate these days.”

Here’s my response. (I submitted the below as a question/comment. You, too, can submit questions/comments about this story until the discussion goes live tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST.)

Did you ever feel like maybe you weren’t doing your job as a reporter/storyteller? On the one hand, we’re getting about as intimate as we can to Shana — we’re getting the raw data, the untouched facts, from her perspective in her status updates. On the other hand, we’re not getting anything deeper — nothing beyond what she posted on Facebook, nothing that a reporter would be expected to get.

As a photojournalist, I pressure myself to go the extra mile and try to get deeper. It doesn’t always work, but I do try. And I feel like, apart from a new — if gimmicky — storytelling format, nothing elevates this piece to go above and beyond the surface of a very tragic story.

What do you think?

  • ADDENDUM — Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. CST —

The live chat with Shapira happened while I was out and about today. Mine was his second response in the queue:

This is one of the challenges my editor Marc Fisher and I discussed before doing the story. And we felt that, ultimately, for the experimentation to be as true and organic as possible, we wanted to not intrude too much. We purposely avoided interfering too much. Yes, the reader needed some guidance, so we provided that with several annotations. And I do think those annotations, and our editing, transform what was once her Facebook page to an actual story. We  made decisions on what to cut, what to preserve, and what to annotate.  Perhaps we could have added more annotations, but then again, I wanted to show readers how Shana herself communicated her own story. If I helped the reader out too much I feared that it would take away from the experience and perspectives of her friends who had been following her ordeal in real time. It’s a good debate and maybe it would have more powerful if we had gone more heavy with annotations. But, based on what readers are writing me, I feel very satisfied.

The next question in the queue also addresses whether or not this storytelling method is a gimmick.

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Earlier this afternoon, Sara told us that there would be some important industry people in the Poynter Institute building later in the evening. I immediately perked up.

“Can we meet Katharine Weymouth?” I asked.

Sara laughed and said that, since it would be pretty crowded, some of us could sit in the back of the room. So we did.

Katharine Weymouth is the CEO of Washington Post Media and publisher of The Washington Post. She’s also the granddaughter of the venerable Katharine Graham, who steered The Washington Post through the Watergate investigations that elevated the paper’s reputation.

Tonight, Weymouth was the guest speaker at a town hall-like gathering of journalists — most of whom were female — to kick off a 1.5-day colloquium inspired by the book The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press. After answering some introductory questions from Poynter president Karen Dunlap, Weymouth fielded questions from the women journalists in attendance.

First things first: Weymouth is a lot younger than any of us students had thought. This should have come as no surprise, though, as Vogue published photos and a profile of Weymouth back in July 2009 — a report I’d skimmed.

Now, a summary of some of the things Weymouth said. Most of these are just single quotes of hers that I thought epitomized her whole train of thought about a subject. Please note that these may not be her words verbatim, but they’re pretty damn close.

  • “It’s still the stars among us that make it.” — after noting that women in the industry often have to be doubly good to receive any raises or promotions
  • Newspapers have a bigger audience than ever before, thanks to the Web. The challenge is how to pay for it.
  • “You can’t get lazy; you can’t get complacent.” — after saying that competition makes The Washington Post better
  • “The worst thing you can do after making a mistake is to freeze.” — while explaining how she had to move on after last summer’s salons controversy
  • Young journalists should go to news outlets where they would grow to become the journalists they want to be, as well as where there’s enough resources to fund those opportunities.
  • “I love to see the presses run… I am a print person by training and habit.” — when asked what one thing she enjoys about newspapers
  • “There is no ‘print’ and ‘on-line.’ It’s journalism.” — regarding the convergence of the Post’s print and on-line newsrooms

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Being on winter break, I’ve had more time to patrol the Twittersphere than I do during the academic year. In the past day or so, I’ve noticed more tweets about unpaid internships and the dis/advantages thereof.

Earlier, @greglinch tweeted a link to a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece asking, “What if interns went on strike?” The author argues that hard-working interns are often not guaranteed or even tempted with employment with a company, despite their value in the workplace:

Interns are valuable. And as part of the workforce, they are expected to do many of the same tasks that professionals do (along with the menial jobs that no one cares to do).
Many people have, at some point in their lives, worked without pay. Some start businesses, others devote time to charities or nonprofits, and still more apprentice in lucrative mechanical fields. I am all for entrepreneurs, mechanics, and bleeding hearts.
However, conceiving of the unpaid internship as a means to secure paying jobs is as archaic as the corporate ladder model of employment itself. We no longer live in a society where hard work at one company ensures that we will someday reach the zenith of the American dream.

Greg also tweeted a link to a blog post with an internship opportunity offer from famed war photojournalist James Nachtwey‘s studio. Like so many other journalism internships out there, Nachtwey’s offer is unpaid. Unlike so many other journalism internships out there, Nachtwey is ultra-specific about what entry skills he wants his eventual intern to have. These include proficiency with particular scanning equipment and certain Photoshop tasks.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting a high standard for an incoming intern — but for those kinds of higher-end technical skills and know-how? For no pay? For at least three days a week for three months? In New York City?

Nachtwey is out of his mind.

But let’s back up and examine the general idea of unpaid internships altogether.

Many larger workplaces — such as big-name newspapers/magazines, law firms and more — don’t pay their interns for a variety of reasons. In many (or, I hope, in most) cases, these workplaces simply don’t have the budget for paid internships but still want to extend an offer so young people interested in that industry can still get good experience. In other cases, some workplaces justify not paying their interns by asserting that the internship experience is so valuable that the experience itself is payment.


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90ish days of summer

Today was my last day as a photo intern at washingtonpost.com.


Today, I fielded photo requests and built photo galleries, edited and submitted some photos I took for a real estate project, turned in my security badge and Metro card… and that’s that.

That’s the end of these 90ish days of summer and my first journalism internship.

This is my pouty face. In this photo by Jeff, I am pouting for probably no reason whatsoever at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Right now, Im not pouting so much as Im sad this summer and internship are over.

This is my pouty face. In this photo by Jeff, I am pouting for probably no reason whatsoever at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Right now, I'm not pouting so much as I'm sad this summer and internship are over.

As I’ve blogged before, much of what I involved prepping photos for on-line use — to accompany articles and WaPo blogs — and building the many photo galleries. In addition, I worked on a few longer-term projects and shot two assignments.

But the vast majority of the internship was definitely sitting in front of a Mac and a PC and doing a lot of editing. Which is something I’m used to, having been the photo editor of The Maneater student newspaper, but that doesn’t mean I learned nothing this summer.

What I learned:

  • As my fellow intern Channing put it, being an intern means you’re there to do what you’re told — which means you do what other people don’t want to do. I hadn’t been on the absolute bottom rung of the ladder in a long time, but being there was a good experience. I quickly realized that that’s just how real life works and that my experiences at The Maneater, Philmont Scout Ranch and The Columbia Missourian aren’t exactly  reflective of that kind of corporate reality. (That said, the photo editors at washingtonpost.com are so friendly and helpful.)
  • Being an intern also means you should have a fast learning curve.
  • Multitasking is key. I’d like to think I was already good at working on three or four to-do items simultaneously, but fielding photo requests, editing photos, building galleries and researching for projects definitely put a more extreme spin on the art of multitasking.
  • Correcting white balance in Photoshop used to be the photo editing task I hated the most — and I’d always thought that having a background in color film printing gave me an edge on speedy, accurate color-correction. But after having to correct white balance, constantly and every day, I am so much more confident at this task. And I don’t dread it as much.

In short, I’m happy with how my summer internship turned out, although I do hope that, in future endeavors, I’ll spend more time behind a camera than in front of a computer. But whatever happens, I’m grateful and glad I had the opportunity to intern at washingtonpost.com.

On Monday, Jeff and I are returning to Columbia, where I’ll begin my last year as a photojournalism major at MU. This semester, I’ll be a staff photographer for The Columbia Missourian, as well as taking two linguistics classes (that I’ve wanted since sophomore year) and working on a long-term investigative/reporting project with broadcast student Theo Keith. (More details on that in a future blog post!)

It’s going to be busy, and you can expect a lot more regular updates to this blog than have happened this summer.

With that, I formally conclude this 90ish days of summer series.

Although, true to form, I still have a ton of photos to edit. Jeff and I have seen and done a lot in the past two months, and I simply haven’t had the time yet to edit all the photos. Among those takes are…

In the next few weeks, I’ll be editing and blogging these photos. The 90ish days of summer title will headline those entries, but apart from these backlogged posts, the series is officially concluded.

And now, for a weekend of packing and editing!

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90ish days of summer

I assure you, this blog is not dead, despite the fact that I haven’t posted anything in about two weeks.

The fact of the matter is, my photo internship at washingtonpost.com consumes the working week, and I’ve kept myself busy during the weekends. The problem is not a shortage of material. I have, in fact, about six photo entries and five other entries in queue. The problem is, the majority of those photos are not yet edited (some of them date back to late June, eek). As for the other entries — well, I’ll get to them! Cross my heart. Some of them will happen this week.

In the meantime, I’ve been accumulating material for a big potpourri post — basically, items that aren’t substantial enough to merit their own blog entry but that I’d nevertheless like to share with you. (Some of these are pettier than others.)

So, here’s some potpourri!

  • Three weeks left, and lots still to do

I have about three weeks left in Washington, D.C. It’s amazing how quickly this summer has flown. Of course, there is still plenty of work to be done…

Namely, I have three somewhat large-scale projects I really need to complete. Two of them are in conjunction with the other photo-pod interns and other .com departments. Both require a lot of research, too. All I can say is, thank goodness for Google Docs.

The other project is more weather-dependent and not as urgent as the other two. It’s rather disconcerting to see that the weather forecast for the next two weeks involves some significant chance of thunderstorms — every single day.

  • Metro etiquette — and other Metro notes

The Metro is an amazing Washington, D.C., institution. Without venturing into the various frustrations and annoyances that have resulted from the fatal June 22 collision on the red line, here are my general observations and thoughts.


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90ish days of summer

Two days later, I can now show you the photos I took for The Washington Post!

My supervisor Dee gave me permission to post my photos on Flickr and this blog (with some provisions). So, here are a few of my photos from Takoma Park’s 120th annual Independence Day parade. All photos are copyright 2009 by The Washington Post.

Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams waves from the back of a 1903 Oldsmobile during Takoma Parks 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.

Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams waves from the back of a 1903 Oldsmobile during Takoma Park's 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.

Maryland Governor Martin OMalley shakes hands with a shy five-year-old Jacob Petruzzelli of Silver Spring during Takoma Parks 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley shakes hands with a shy five-year-old Jacob Petruzzelli of Silver Spring during Takoma Park's 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.


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90ish days of summer

Happy Fourth of July!

Fireworks over the National Mall on July 4, 2009. Taken from a downtown D.C. rooftop.

Fireworks over the National Mall on July 4, 2009. Taken from a downtown D.C. rooftop.

Although, technically now it’s the fifth of July…

Quite honestly, my memory of Fourths of July extends to the days of bicycle-and-firetruck parades around the neighborhood and then skips ahead to 2006. 2006 was my first year on staff at Philmont Scout Ranch, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the day off. For a few other staffers in the News & Photo Department, Independence Day was just another working day.

As for the next summer — also spent at Philmont — I’m not quite sure what I did during the day. But at night, some friends and I went to Eagle Nest to watch the fireworks show over Eagle Nest Lake. That night was also my first attempt to shoot fireworks.

My gear included:

  • my Canon Digital Rebel XTi (which is now broken beyond repair… poor baby)
  • my friend Greg’s 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6
  • a teeny tripod with bendy legs (kinda like this one)
  • the wall of a truck bed as my steady surface for the tripod

I shot on the bulb exposure — meaning, the shutter is open for however long I depressed the shutter button (sans a remote shutter release, which I still don’t have). Given all those factors, I’m still surprised my photos came out without any camera blur.

Fireworks over Eagle Nest Lake on July 4, 2007.

Fireworks over Eagle Nest Lake on July 4, 2007. The mountain in the background is Wheeler, the highest in New Mexico.

In 2008, I finally got the Fourth of July off from work. So my friend Stephen and I shot the annual Maverick Club Rodeo in Cimarron, the small village three miles from Philmont.

I’d never shot a rodeo before. But based on my experience shooting the Maverick Club Rodeo, I’d gladly cover another one, as long as it’s outdoors.

Then, of course, at night we all went to Eagle Nest Lake to shoot fireworks. This time, I shot with an XTi, my 70-200/2.8 and a decent tripod.

Unfortunately, I seem not to have saved those photos on my hard drive. Because my XTi started giving me ceaseless Error 99’s in April 2007, I used Stephen’s XTi to shoot the rodeo and fireworks. I’m guessing I somehow didn’t save them on my hard drive before deleting them from my computer forever.

Oh well.

Now, for 2009. I still don’t know if I can post the photos I took of the Takoma Park parade today for The Washington Post, but you can check out two of those photos in this washingtonpost.com photo gallery. (My photos are now the 11th and 20th photos n the gallery.)

However, here are some National Mall fireworks photos I shot from a downtown D.C. rooftop! This time around, I shot with my 30D, a Manfrotto tripod (from the office) and every lens I own.

The fireworks are launched over the Reflection Pool in the National Mall. At left, you can see the Washington Monument. Taken with the 16-35/2.8.

The fireworks are launched over the Reflection Pool in the National Mall. At left, you can see the Washington Monument. Taken with the 16-35/2.8.

Taken with the 50/1.8.

Taken with the 50/1.8.

Taken with the 70-200/2.8.

As always, you can view more photos HERE.

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90ish days of summer

ARLINGTON, Va. — This morning, I shot my first photo assignment for The Washington Post.

Today is the Fourth of July, which means that 233 years ago, a group of colonial rebels signed a piece of parchment that confirmed their resolve to break from their parent country and create a new nation. This also means that today in the U.S. of A., people celebrate by eating as many German/Austrian hot dogs as they can stomach, setting off Chinese fireworks and watching (insert country of origin) parades.

So I shot Takoma Park’s 120th annual Independence Day parade for The Washington Post.

I originally thought about taking photos and recording sound so I could create an audio slideshow. Then I realized that maintaining consistent levels while recording a parade would be above my learning curve at this point. So instead, I asked my supervisor Dee if I could shoot the parade for a gallery. To ensure I wouldn’t be stepping on the Post‘s toes in doing so, she contacted the Post.

Before I knew it, I received an e-mail from one of the photo editors at the Post. Shooting the parade was a legitimate Post photo assignment.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out if posting photos (published and/or unpublished) on my Flickr and this blog would be within the Post‘s copyright and ownership policies, which is why you don’t see here any of the photos I took this morning.

But in the meantime, I can direct you to this washingtonpost.com photo gallery, which features my photos in the 9th and 18th spots (as of 8 p.m., at least — they’ll be adding more photos after the fireworks show tonight).

I hope I can share more photos with you on this blog and my Flickr! As it is, though, I’m so excited to have a photo byline again, and plan to pitch more photo ideas and hopefully get more opportunities and fieldwork this summer.

(Why the ARLINGTONG, Va. dateline? Because I’m in my last half-hour or so for the day in the washingtonpost.com newsroom.)

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90ish days of summer

I am home in Silver Spring, Md., safe and sound after almost three hours of transit. Had I left the washingtonpost.com office a half-hour earlier, I might not have been home yet.

At 5 p.m., when I was logging off my work computers and saying goodbye to my supervising editor, two trains collided on the Washington Metrorail’s red line, between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations.

A detail of part of the red line, where the two-train collision occurred at 5 p.m.

A detail of part of the red line, where the two-train collision occurred between Fort Totten and Takoma at 5 p.m. today.

As you can see in the above map, the Silver Spring station is two stops past Fort Totten on the red line. According to the broadcast news, the two trains were headed toward D.C. — the opposite direction from which the train I would have been on would have been coming.

So even if I had left the office early, I wouldn’t have been on the trains that collided. But I would still have had to evacuate whatever train I were on, since according to the radio news reports, the entire red line is shut down.

Nevertheless, when I first heard about the collision — at 5:45 p.m. when I left a very congested Metro Center out of frustration — I didn’t know which direction the trains had been heading. So my first thought was, “I could have been on either of those trains.”

My second thought was, “I wish I’d been on or near either of those trains, and uninjured and with a camera.”

I read once that while most humans run from a crisis, only three kinds of people run toward it: the police, medical workers and journalists. I can’t honestly say I’m proud of the way tragedy and disaster attract journalists like bees to honey, but really, it’s a knee-jerk reaction. And if journalists can’t be at the scene, they often feel some dredge of guilt or regret that they couldn’t make it there.

That’s kind of what I’m feeling now, and every other time I’ve been close to a breaking news scene.

What else am I feeling? A lot of frustration with the Metro’s inability to communicate with commuters in the stations. It wasn’t until I emerged from the Metro Center station and called Jeff that I found out a major accident with multiple fatalities had occurred. I’m not saying that Metro station managers should have told commuters exactly what happened — but commuters should have been informed that the entire red line was shut down.

As it is, we were instead told to expect “major delays” and that a “turning incident” had occurred.

But I’m by no means educated enough on the D.C. Metro system and its history to say anything else about its failure to communicate and coordinate.

That said, I’m glad I’m safe and home, and my thoughts and prayers go out toward all the families affected by a tragedy that should never have happened.

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90ish days of summer

Later this morning, Jeff and I will be leaving the greater D.C. area and going to Tennessee.

Because that’s where Bonnaroo is.

This means I’ll have no Web access — no blogging, no photo updates, no Twitter — until Monday evening, by which point we’ll have returned to Silver Spring, running water, electrical outlets and that great vast thing called the Internet.

I’ll have a full report of the festival by mid-week next week (but don’t hold me to that deadline), as well as photos (don’t hold me to that deadline, either). I briefly toyed with the idea of lugging my digital equipment and some audio gear so I could create an audio slideshow or some other multimedia project out of this four-day music festival… but nixed the idea, mostly because I’d have no way to keep that expensive equipment secure except in a very hot car.

So I’m just shooting film instead. I need to finish up a roll of Fuji Superia 100, and then I can start on some Ilford FB4 125 Plus and Fuji Superia Reala (ASA 100).

Since I haven’t been very good about updating this blog in the past week or so, here’s some more potpourri:

ON SATURDAY, Jeff and I went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Regional Park. Among other things, they have a butterfly garden/greenhouse, a huge playground and a train.

I just took my 50mm lens with me. It was a good choice.

These butterflies were the prize to catch on camera. For one thing, theyre amazingly beautiful because the upper side of their wings is a wonderfully iridescent blue. For another, their flight path is completely unpredictable (unlike that of the other butterflies in the greenhouse), so actually getting them in a frame was a huge challenge. This photo was pure luck.

These butterflies were the prize to catch on camera. For one thing, they're amazingly beautiful because the upper side of their wings is a wonderfully iridescent blue. For another, their flight path is completely unpredictable (unlike that of the other butterflies in the greenhouse), so actually getting them in a frame was a huge challenge. This photo was pure luck.

Jeff and I also rode the miniature train, which Jeff hadnt been on in probably 10 years.

Jeff and I also rode the miniature train, which Jeff hadn't been on in probably 10 years.

As always, you can view more photos by clicking HERE.

TODAY, I went on my first actual photo assignment for my washingtonpost.com internship! Or, I shadowed and ended up being very necessary when Megan and I discovered that a tripod mount screw wasn’t the correct size. Once the work we produced is completed and published, I will disclose the full story.

Needless to say, we returned to the office just before a big fat storm let loose over the greater D.C. area. Steve — another full-time photo editor — and Megan handed me a camera and told me to take a weather photo. At first, I went out on the balcony, with the intent of getting a wide cityscape shot and then hopefully capturing some lightning on a few frames. Then I was going to go street-level.

But the full-time staff were concerned about liability should lightning strike, so I had to stay indoors.

Which is why my first photo published on washingtonpost.com was taken from inside a window and looks almost like a cell phone photo.

Click on the image to go to a larger view of this screen capture of my first photo published on washingtonpost.com!

Click on the image to go to a larger view of this screen capture of my first photo published on washingtonpost.com!


That’s it for now.

You won’t be hearing from me until Monday or Tuesday.

Let’s just hope I survive the heat, humidity and intensity that is Bonnaroo.


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90ish days of summer

Just a big ol’ dish of D.C. potpourri:

TODAY is my first sick day this summer. I’m not sure where I caught this minor bug, but I have a slight fever, my eyes hurt, my nose is runny, the back of my throat is tickly and I feel generally fatigued.

I think part of it has to do with the nature of my internship at washingtonpost.com: I spend almost entirely eight hours on the computer every day I’m in the office. Now, I am accustomed to spending inordinate numbers of hours on my laptop every day, but not eight hours at a time and day after day. So even though my monitor’s backlight is dimmed as I type this post, my eyes hurt just looking at it.

TODAY is also roughly the 20th anniversary of the crackdown in Tienanmen Square. I say “roughly” because the crackdown began on the evening of June 3 and ended sometime on June 5.

So much has already been said about how the Chinese government has deleted the crackdown out of its history books and shut down foreign news Web sites and other sites such as Flickr and Twitter, so I won’t add redundant noise to that conversation. Suffice it to say that of course, as a journalist in the Western hemisphere and a fan of the First Amendment, I think it’s despicable that the flow of information and the people’s inherent right to protest and free press are being disrupted and restricted.

Some interesting links relating to Tienanmen Square:

TOMORROW, I will be at the office at 8:30 a.m. to do a special gallery, but I’ll be getting out early. Some other interns — from the Post and other news outlets — and I will be going to the Sculpture Garden for wine and jazz during tomorrow’s happy hour!

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90ish days of summer

I’ve just completed my first week as a photo/multimedia intern at washingtonpost.com!

As I previously blogged, the .com newsroom is going to take some getting used to because it’s unlike any other I’ve worked in before. But I am definitely getting there and now am a lot more comfortable working with the different programs and processes the way the actual photo editors do.

On a somewhat related note, the whole eight-hours-a-day/40-hours-a-week, being-in-the-city-all-summer thing will also take some getting used to.

You’d think big cities wouldn’t be an issue. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where I spent the first 18 years of my life — but ever since I graduated from high school three years ago, I haven’t been in Houston for more than three weeks at a time. The schoolyear is spent in Columbia, Mo. (population: 100,000ish, which to me is tiny), and the summers were spent in the New Mexico mountains… until now.

So for three summers, my office was 137,500 acres of rugged mountains, and in every job I’ve held except one, I was generally in charge of my own schedule and could determine what tasks I needed to accomplish on a day-by-day or week-by-week basis.

Now, the real world strikes, and I’m doing my best to keep up. I can’t lie — I’m a little homesick for mountains and trees. Those kinds of surroundings can’t be replaced by tall buildings or even the White House and Capitol Building. But I am learning a lot and slowly-but-surely getting used to working in an office for eight hours a day. And don’t get me wrong: I’m definitely glad I have this internship!

And now, TGIF!

I think Jeff and I are going to make strawberry shortcake tonight. Tomorrow, we’re going to hit up the Newseum. When we return from that, I will certainly be sure to qualify it as a failure or non-failure.

(That’s a joke. Laugh! Ha ha ha!)

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90ish days of summer

Today was my first day as a photo/multimedia intern at washingtonpost.com.

After the intern orientation wherein all 20-something interns for WP.com, Express and the Slate Group learned some basic facts about the company, etc., we split up and spent the rest of the day with our departments and supervisors.

I have worked in two newsrooms before — at the Maneater student newspaper and at the Missouri statehouse bureau for The Columbia Missourian — but was in for a surprise today when I got to know the WP.com newsroom a little more. For one thing, it’s very quiet, and only about half the chairs in the multimedia and metro sections of the newsroom were occupied.

For another, I learned pretty quickly that, as far as photo at the .com goes, they take what’s given to them (by other .com people or the print Post) and work to put it on-line. In the other newsrooms in which I’ve worked, the pace was almost always frenetic and frantic. Reporters and photographers alike were shuffling or rushing in and out: in to produce, submit or edit content and out to get that content. Unless it was a slow news day, the newsrooms were always a little loud and fast-paced.

But the WP.com newsroom — again — is quiet. And the photo editors wait to receive requests and content before they process anything. It’s unlike any newsroom I’ve encountered (to be fair, I haven’t encountered that many).

The bottom line is, unless I take my own initiative on projects and stories I want to pursue, my responsibilities would consist mostly of working on Faces of the Fallen, putting photo galleries together and fielding photo requests.

My plan for the summer? Get as much work and experience in the field as possible, but get some more experience at the desk and in the newsroom, as well.

My supervisor Dee seems very open to my both spending time in the newsroom and taking initiative with stories (as long as I don’t tread on the print Post‘s toes), which I definitely appreciate and am excited about.

Now I just need to figure out what I want to do!

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90ish days of summer

Tomorrow at 11 a.m., I begin my photo/multimedia internship at washingtonpost.com.

I can’t lie: I am excited, nervous and thrilled as all hell out.

At 10 a.m., I’m meeting Kourtney for coffee. Kourtney is also an MU journalism student interning in the Post‘s digital newsroom. We’ve never met, but it is nice knowing there will be another Tiger nearby, and hopefully having coffee and arriving together at the newsroom office will help calm our nerves!

Today — Memorial Day — Jeff’s family and I are going to Baltimore to visit the cemetery there and then eat crabs. (One of Jeff’s goals for the summer is to get me to eat soft-shelled crab — I’m squeamish about crustaceans still in their shells!) I’ll have photos and everything up tonight from that, and then get a good night’s sleep and be ready for my first day in the morning.

In the meantime, here are some photos from Friday!

A man jogs in front of the U.S. Capitol Building. As you can read in the post before the previous post, we didnt get to tour the building.

A man jogs in front of the U.S. Capitol Building. As you can read in the post before the previous post, we didn't get to tour the building.

We then went to the Library of Congress, where we also were unable to get a tour and see the rest of the building.

We then went to the Library of Congress, where we also were unable to get a tour and see the rest of the building.

The Library of Congress does not allow photography of the Gutenberg Bible or the Great Bible of Mainz. So, being sly, I took this photo instead.

The Library of Congress does not allow photography of the Gutenberg Bible or the Great Bible of Mainz. So, being sly, I took this photo instead.

After leaving the Library of Congress and briefly photographing the Supreme Court building, we ate dinner on the Hill and then walked to Nationals Stadium. This is on the way to the stadium.

After leaving the Library of Congress and briefly photographing the Supreme Court building, we ate dinner on the Hill and then walked to Nationals Stadium. This is on the way to the stadium.

At the Nationals game vs. the Orioles. This is some wonderful evening light over the stadium.

At the Nationals game vs. the Orioles. This is some wonderful evening light over the stadium.

As always, you can click HERE to view more photos from Friday and my stay in D.C. thus far.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — On Saturday noon, I will be in Washington, D.C., with ten days to spare before my internship at washingtonpost.com begins.

This means I have four-ish days to write two articles, do an audio slideshow, complete the final group project for Advanced Techniques in Photojournalism, take my sociology final exam and pack up everything in my room/kitchen. In addition, I’ve scheduled coffee and meetings with about four or five different people throughout the week.

But in five days, I’ll be in Washington, D.C., where I’ll begin 92-96 days of summer (depending on my end date). Hence, “90ish days of summer” will be the running title/motif.

I haven’t had time yet to determine specific goals for this summer. Right now, I’m waiting for the Missouri Senate to adjourn so I can report on a 6 p.m. Senate committee hearing. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t started thinking and daydreaming about Washington.

Things to look forward to on this blog in the next few days:

  • Reflection on the 95th Missouri General Assembly’s first regular session
  • Reflection on reporting on abovementioned legislative session
  • Goals for the summer

In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to keep my head above water in this final week in Missouri.

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I first heard that word being slung around in mass use when I arrived at MU and started doing activities with my Freshman Interest Group (FIG — wherein you live in the same dorm and take at least three classes with about 15 other freshmen in your major). The faculty adviser for my “Women in Journalism” FIG was Lynda Kraxberger, who chairs the MU Journalism School’s convergence sequence.

And almost every journalism professor I’ve had since has gravely informed us journalism students how vital multimedia is as a dynamic informational and/or visual tool that we all must learn.

I don’t doubt it.

I’m glad that multimedia is going to be a large component of my summer internship at washingtonpost.com.

And on that note: For today’s 3:30 p.m. class in Advanced Techniques, we are to link to an audio slideshow that “you think are well done, or ones you think have some good points but could be improved,” according to the syllabus.

I saw this slideshow when it first came out on washingtonpost.com, back in October after the stocks plummeted and everyone — not just the insiders and reporters — realized that the housing bubble and credit bubbles had finally burst. I still like it. What can I say? I’m a dork about the economy.

Click HERE to view “Anatomy of a Crisis,” narrated by Frank Ahrens of The Washington Post.

I like this slideshow for a few reasons:

  • Unlike a lot of audio slideshows out there, it’s not simply a linear photo story about a singular subject.
  • It is a simple, highly informative piece dealing with noteworthy and newsworthy events and issues that affect the entire nation.
  • It integrates photos and infographics, often alongside each other.
  • It makes you wonder at the end how on earth the slideshow producer pulled so many different images of houses together and turn it into an engaging (and, again, highly informative) slideshow whose visuals work with the audio and never get boring.

Maybe this kind of economic stuff does bore people. But hey — this is the kind of audio slideshow I’m excited about: short, succinct, informative, visual and engaging. And hopefully that’s the kind of multimedia I’ll get to help produce this summer.

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I promise I’m a balanced reporter.

By that, I don’t mean I’m trying to reassure you that I report on all possible sides of an issue, etc. (But that said, I do my best to report on all sides of an issue!)

Rather, I’m trying to reassure you that even though this blog has gone severely photo-heavy in the past few weeks, I’m still trucking along as a political reporter in Jefferson City.

I’d prefer not to disclose details, but my editor Phill Brooks has had me working on a few features. Those are to be completed before the legislative session calendars truly become congested with hot bills and fast-paced action. There are only five and a half weeks left in session, so that doesn’t leave me much time.

One of those features is something Phill wants me to drop for now and instead pursue next semester, as an independent study project. It’d be a complete package: written story/ies, photos, audio, multimedia, everything. And, if I can get it right, it could be a very compelling story.

I already discussed this possibility with my Advanced Reporting instructor Tom Warhover. Here are the considerations and consequences we agreed I need to keep in mind when I make my decision:

  • I’m already registered for 12 credit hours (four courses) next semester. To complete this project, which would be fairly time-consuming, I would have to drop one of my photojournalism electives.
  • I need to make sure I’d have enough time to do Staff Photojournalism (one of my three-hour courses next semester, but it would require far more than three hours of work a week). That is a course I simply cannot put off any further.
  • Transportation? It’d really help to have a car.
  • If I did pursue this project, this would be my third semester with Phill as my editor. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, but my development as a reporter could benefit from working with a different editor.

That said, I haven’t made up my mind, at all. I don’t think I need to until May or so. But it’s certainly something I have to consider very carefully.


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I am going to Washington, D.C., this summer. Yesterday afternoon, Dee Swann — the multimedia deputy managing editor at washingtonpost.com — offered me the photo/multimedia internship for which I applied. After a quick chat with my mother, I accepted the internship.


I am going to Washington, D.C.!

Wow wow wow.

This year, I applied for internships in either photography or reporting at probably three or more dozen newspapers. As I noted in an earlier post, I’ve received three times as many notifications of cancelled internship programs as I have actual, outright rejections. This is a sad market for journalism students seeking internships, and let’s not even talk about jobs post-graduation.

So, I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have been offered this internship. I know it’s going to be a challenge and a lot of hard work, but I am so ready for it.

That said, it’s been about 18 hours since Dee called me, and I am still in a state of shock. In shock that I’ll be going East — and not West — this summer for the first time in four years. In shock that everything actually worked out and I actually landed an internship this summer. In shock that it’s at washingtonpost.com, of all places!

My starting date is May 26. That gives me a little under a week after my last final exam to pack and laze around before I start interning. I still need to figure out housing and the end date and a lot of other things. And I still need to work out a food allowance/etc. with my parents. But all those things will come along in time.

In the meantime, I am just so pizumped that I’m going to be interning in a profesional newsroom in Washington, D.C., this summer. And yes, I used “pizumped” — that’s how pizumped I am!

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