Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Thanks for your input and comments during discussion. We really delved into issues of ownership of the news, neighborhoods, civic engagement, the purpose of journalism, media consolidation, and shifts in print journalism. If you are still looking for more information on citizen journalism I encourage you to check out the readings in the right hand column. For the remaining three classes we will have a lesson and a workshop portion of the class. During the workshop you will bring what you have written and get feedback from other citizen journalists in the class.
Looking forward to see your stories next Wednesday!
Writing Assignment (Some people had some questions so I wanted to clarify)
--You will be writing an article for the Twin Cities Daily Planet. The length depends on the subject and the type of reporting you will be doing. Unless you are one of our neighborhood/community beat reporters (you know who you are), a good place to start is about 600-800 words.
--Depending on your article you should have attended an event, and/or researched your subject, and/or conducted interviews. You should have direct quotes that you can use in your article.
--At the bottom of your article list your sources along with their email addressed or phone numbers. This is standard procedure in all journalism so that editors can follow up to fact check or expand the article if needed.
--If you need examples of articles go to www.tcdailyplanet.net and take some time surfing the website.
--Please take this week to get started on an article for the Twin Cities Daily Planet and complete a first draft. IF YOU ONLY DO ONE ARTICLE FOR THIS CLASS, THAT’s OKAY. However, we will continue to improve it and work on strengthening that article throughout each workshop.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
• Research the subject. Know what you are talking about and what you are asking about. Unless you are interviewing a genuine expert, you should know more about the subject than the person you are interviewing. (examples: Rock Tenn, North End school)
• Know your interviewee. Get the name spelled right, know the position that s/he holds, know why they can contribute to the story.
• Be friendly. Yes—even if you are interviewing the "other side.
• Be polite. Always. No exceptions.
• Have a prepared list of questions.
• Don't ask the questions on your list. The list is for you, to remind you of what you want to know. Once you get started talking to someone, establish a conversational tone and get them comfortable talking to you. Use a question from your list to guide the conversation, but make it a conversation, not an interrogation.
• On the record is on the record. Be careful about going on and off the record. If you agree that something is off the record, then you set up problems in telling the difference.
• Say who you are and what the interview is for.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"Going green has never been so much fun! In an effort to encourage more reuse,
Hey, let me know if you're going to use this idea or not. If not, can I have it? -K-
Tonight I've set up an interview with Felicity Britton, Exec. Dir. of Linden Hills Power and Light. She's going to forward me to a couple of families participating in the Source Separated Organics Program, as well as Susan Young, who runs the facility where the stuff goes. AND, I've already developed my list of questions. I won't get to interview her until Monday or Tues.
Also have set up the next article - want to do a story on the relevance of art as a means of metabolizing cultural crises like the RNC. Have set up interview with Exec. Dir. of the St. Paul Art Crawl, & asked for a couple of references to artists doing work that reflects the RNC, or is otherwise topical for this political season. AND I've got my list of questions developed.
Also fishing for sources willing to talk, for article #3, on continuing investigation/harrassment of particpants in the RNC 08. I may have to post a shout out to tc.indymedia.org for sources willing and able to comment. Or maybe twitter for sources. Dunno yet.
G'night, all, it's been fun. -K-
And, for those of you interested in the post-RNC Bedlam Theater production, "Because We Still Live Here," check out Dwight Hobbes in the Daily Planet --
"Bedlam Theatre’s wizardry, blending avant-garde art with determined activism, is in effect once more—this time with the upcoming Because We Still Live Here, a mixed-medium evening about the aftermath of the Republican National Convention. Sarah Palin or no, it’s safe to say Bedlam will not be lauding the G.O.P. for including everybody—regardless of race, creed or gender—in the mythologically vaunted American Dream. It’s also a good guess Bedlam won’t be paying homage to how police forces protected and served the living hell out of the public. ... the rest of the story
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I just listened to a very interesting podcast by Christopher Lydon at Radio Open Source. He interviewed Ethan Zuckerman and Solana Larsen, two journalists/editors working to increase the amount of information we all get from the rest of the world.
Ethan is the founder of Global Voices Online, an edited blog aggregator for international voices. They have correspondents/bloggers from all over the world who report on events in their own countries. Check out this interesting example on ant-farmers protesting in Shenyng, China.
In the podcast Solana and Ethan talk about the distorted coverage of the large international news media, a la the cartograms posted a few days ago and this video by Alisa Miller. The interview has a lot of interesting material about different perspectives of Nigerian 419 scams from the people in Nigeria who think nobody would be stupid enough to fall for the scams versus the scam baiters who are trying to oneup the scammers. Then onto the ant-farm story mentioned above.
Some other good nuggets. Most of the audience comes from outside the United States, almost 80 percent. Three parts of the Global Voices audience are: academics who take the countries seriously, journalists who are writing on foreign countries, and intelligence agencies in Europe and the U.S.! In 10 years the best informed global citizens will be people in cybercafes in West Africa who are willing to spend 20% of their daily income to scan global headlines via the internet. We need to use our own machines to get as smart about international news as people in West Africa already are.
Solana was also an editor at OpenDemocracy, an interesting online opinion/analysis journal based out of London.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Mick and Kris Brogan have operated Papa’s Pizza and Pasta, (in the Victory Neighborhood at 42nd and Thomas Avenue North) for 3 years now. The other day I visited the Brogans at the restaurant and asked, why with all we hear about crime in the area, they decided on a north side location. Mick told me that crime in North Minneapolis is no worse than anyplace else.
“For two years, I was the night manager at Embers on 26th and Hennepin on the south side and I made more arrests than the police did!” He chased people who left without paying and grappled with intoxicated patrons almost nightly. He felt like he was doing law enforcement on a regular basis.
“Papa’s” has a small compact dining room with 16 tables and soft lighting from a lamp suspended over each table. In the background there is continuous music filled prominently with ballads from the 50’s and 60’s with the recognizable voices of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Dean Martin. They have a beer and wine license and a menu with a variety of pizza, pasta dishes and salads. The café is located on a corner, in a residential neighborhood. The walls are filled with album covers, posters and photographs memorializing the life of Frank Sinatra. I suspect it is reminiscent of cafes in Brogan’s home town of Trenton New Jersey.
After two interviews with the Brogans what emerges is a unique partnership that combines good food and charm with community activism. “We did this restaurant to prepare good food and provide a place for people to gather. That’s why we don’t deliver and we don’t sell by the slice,” said Kris. Mick added, “We want people to come in and sit down and enjoy good food and good talk.”
Mick and Kris Brogan moved to Minneapolis from Trenton 25 years ago in search of better schools for their young family. Mick found work in the restaurant business, while Kris became involved in community development and real estate. After a few years working for food service corporations as a restaurant manager, including several years running four restaurants in the IDS center, owned by Woolworths, Mick decided he would be happier owning his own place. The decision began a 10 year journey which finally ended when He and Kris opened “Papa’s”, in June of 2005.
While Mick built a track record and experience as a restaurateur, Kris, a commercial real estate broker, cultivated contacts in local politics and community development. She also built a strong knowledge of programs to empower people through economic development and affordable housing. She was the economic development policy aid to Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton from 1998-2000, working on historical preservation, zoning, and housing.
Often what comes to mind when people think of North Minneapolis are gang activity, a high crime area, and home foreclosures. I asked the Brogans if those perceptions influenced their decision to open “Papa’s”? “What we found,” said Mick, was a neighborhood that was changing. There are younger families moving into the area, because the housing prices are lower and the quality of housing is high."
Despite research that the neighborhood wanted a restaurant, particularly an Italian restaurant, getting started and building the business wasn’t easy. The process of getting zoning clearances and license approvals from the City of Minneapolis was slow. Once opened the neighborhood response was not as strong as they had hoped. “People in this area -because there hasn’t been much up here- have a mentality of driving to the suburbs for shopping. So when people eat out they go elsewhere,” said Mick. When they opened the restaurant people were suspicious because the Brogan’s lived in South Minneapolis. “Some people even believed that when a couple of businesses nearby closed (a barber who retired and an upholsterer who relocated) that I drove them out,” said Mick.
The Brogans also acknowledged higher then normal foreclosures and some crime and vandalism. “We don’t see crime as a big issue. We have some petty crime like all neighborhoods.” What they see is a neighborhood that is largely safe, stable, diverse and economical. “The houses are smaller, we have a mix of white, Asians and African Americans and it is an inexpensive place to live” said Mick. (According to the City of Minneapolis Neighborhood profile the neighborhood is 70% white, 15% Black, 5% Asian and 2% Hispanic)
So it seemed natural to Kris and Mick that one way to address neighborhood suspicion and concerns about crime and property issues was to get deeply involved with the community. Kris got involved by joining the board of the Victory Neighborhood Organization (ViNA). She also serves as chair of ViNA’s Community Livability Committee. They offered “Papa’s” as a place for the committee (meetings are open to all neighbors) to hold its meeting. Meetings are held on the second Saturday of the month and “Papa’s” provides complimentary coffee and pastries for 18- 25 neighbors who attend. “The meetings offer an opportunity to solve problems but also a place for neighbors to get acquainted and talk to one another,” said Kris. Most meetings have a speaker and the discussion focuses on issues like, graffiti, police responsiveness, housing, rental property, and general care of property. Kris’s experience with the Mayors office comes in handy in helping solve neighborhood problems; “but we found that things go better and faster if the neighbors solve the issues themselves,” said Kris.
One problem the Neighborhood Livability Committee has eliminated, at least for now, is graffiti. Volunteers came forward to supply paint and person power and developed a system for immediate response so that graffiti was removed within a few hours of when it appeared. Mick described the last graffiti attack. “The big test was when we had one big hit right here on the corner. We got the neighbors out and the paint and we had the stuff removed in a couple hours. Since then we haven’t had graffiti."
The Brogans are not only involved in the community they seem to be excited about the potential for the neighborhood. Kris expressed disappointment that City officials aren’t more excited and doing more to build the community: “It seems like there is a lack of vision and a lack of investment where North Minneapolis is concerned. We have 30 houses in foreclosure in the Victory Neighborhood. Where is the City? They could do a lot to promote this area as a great place for first time home buyers.” They are impressed with the Public schools in the neighborhood. Kris drives her 2 granddaughters to the North Minneapolis every day to attend Loring Elementary (Located at 44th and Thomas Avenue North). She also mentioned Patrick Henry High School (Located at 43th and Newton Avenue North, which was listed in the top 5% of high schools in America in 2007 by Newsweek. The neighborhood is near the Karl Kroenig Nature Preserve and North Regional Park, with bike and walking paths, on the Mississippi River.
The Brogans have had their challenges but perceptions of the Brogans as carpetbaggers are being quickly erased by their presence and their activism. They also told me that they recently began looking for a house in north Minneapolis.
There is another impressive list of community organizations and resources list on the Papa’s Pizza and Pasta Web site. http://www.papaspizzaandpasta.com/ “Papa’s” can also be reached by phone 612-521-7272 (PAPA).
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Minnesota women tackle Kenya’s water crisis
“Imagine giving your baby his first bath in water teeming with amoebas and parasites. EXAMPLE 2….EXAMPLE 3…” (Note: these will be filled in following the interview)
Have you ever thought about how many gallons of water you use each day? The average American consumes 100-176 gallons of water per day, between showering (20-50 gallons in just one 10-minute shower) or flushing the toilet (5-7 gallons per flush). In America, we can turn on the tap and clean water flows. But across the globe, the fact of water is not so simple for Kenyans, who average 5 gallons of water per day.
In August, 2007, two young women, part of a volunteer program sponsored by a religious group of women, set out for a remote village in Kenya. Their mission: to bring water to several villages facing water shortages and water polluted with amoebas and parasites. In order to accomplish this task, Anika Walz and Angie Van Den Hemel would spend a year working with local community leaders to establish wells and rainwater harvesting, not an easy task in a country faced with adversity.
Walz and Van Den Hemel got connected to this project, dubbed the Kenya Water Project, through their involvement with the Sisters of St. Joseph, a religious order that sponsors the St. Joseph Worker Program, an Americorps-affiliated year-long volunteer opportunity for young women to work in social justice and non-profit organizations. After spending the previous year volunteering at organizations in the Twin Cities, Walz and Van Den Hemel “renewed their commitment” and signed on for a second-year residency, this time taking their passion for social change internationally.
This project, initially started by the Sisters of St. Joseph, sparked out of their passion to serve citizens globally. According to Walz, “This evolved out of an idea and a partnership. Sister Irene O’Neill thought about how there are women religious throughout the world on the ground working to meet the needs and build networks of hope, and how Rotary is throughout the world funding and implementing projects for the common good.”
Walz and Van Den Hemel were joined by Sister Rosita Aranita and worked in Kenya from August through January, at which time they returned to the states when violence over political elections surmounted in the country. Now that the women have returned to Minnesota, their work continues. Though it is tough to be back, especially because it was months earlier than planned, but Van Den Hemel easily admits they have to continue their work knowing firsthand the people they met and worked with whom it will benefit. The project is currently working towards raising enough money to establish or complete projects in five locations in Kenya: Kanam A, Adiedo, Soko, Koyier/Kamuga, and Wadghone-Nyongo.
The Kenya Water Project works in collaboration with local communities in Kenya and their leaders to develop plans to secure clean water for each community. The communities assess their own needs and identify resources, also selecting leaders to form Community Based Organizations. Those leaders manage and implement all elements of the water project, which range from harvesting to wells. Their work routine in Kenya involved working with CBOs and meeting with community leaders that invited them the three workers in. They would listen to their needs, brainstorm solutions, and identify assets. It was important though, to focus on the Kenyans as leaders as Walz pointed out: “We let the community own and lead the process, and we were simply a resource if and when they needed us.”
Three methods exist for water collection in Kenya, including: rainwater harvesting, borehole wells, and spring preservation. Depending on the land, the last two options are not always feasible, such as villages located near the highly polluted Lake Victoria. If wells are drilled too closely, they can cave or be spoiled by other sources of pollution. Recently, Van Den Hemel cited that Kenya receives enough rain water annually for harvesting to become a viable solution to the water shortage, and it is the most cost-effective method.
For Walz and Van Den Hemel, this project goes beyond just water. As Walz explains, this work is essential, and she calls other people to action: “By partnering in this work they don’t just bring clean water to people in desperate need. They impact an inter-connected web of development; by bringing clean water they also free girls who would be fetching water for hours a day to attend school, free women who would be fetching water so they could participate in income-generating activities to elevate their families’ standard of living, and free the local population of water related disease.” It is clear that access to clean water can provide the path Kenyans need to survive and begin to thrive in their communities.
In order for the Kenya Water Project to continue to reach its goals and send proper funding to support the harvesting and well-digging, Walz and Van Den Hemel will continue to raise funds. If you would like more information, or like a monthly update on this project, send an e-mail to email@example.com. To send monetary donations, contact the Minnesota office at 1884 Randolph Avenue in St Paul, or call 651.690.7044.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Also: I revised my earlier story on the Minneapolis Center for Photography. I replaced the earlier version. Paul Bauer
Mick and Kris Brogan have operated their Italian restaurant in the Victory Neighborhood of North Minneapolis for 3 years now. The other day I visited Mick at the restaurant and asked him, why with all the bad news we hear about the area, they chose North Minneapolis to locate their restaurant. “It was an accident. Kris needed a new condenser for her car air conditioner and somebody recommended an auto repair shop on the north side. When we brought the car in we noticed the place across the street was available to lease.”
When Mick Brogan opened Papa’s Pizza in the Victory Neighborhood of North Minneapolis friends asked him why he would want to have a restaurant in a high crime area like north Minneapolis. When I visited Papa’s, earlier this week, he told me that crime in North Minneapolis is no worse then anyplace else. “For two years I was the night manager at the Embers on 26th and Hennepin on the south side and I made more arrests then the police did.”
Lead 3: When Mick and Kris Brogan opened their Italian restaurant in the Victory Neighborhood of north Minneapolis it culminated a 10 year search for the right place to fulfill a dream of Mick’s to own his own restaurant. When I asked Mick why they selected a site on the north side Mick said, “Because we couldn’t fine a good location on the south side.”
Papa’s has a small compact dining room with 16 tables and soft lighting from a lamp suspended over each table. As I visited with Brogan the sound system played ballads from the 50’s and 60’s with the recognizable voices of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Dean Martin. They have a beer and wine license and a menu with a variety of pizza, pasta dishes and salads. I suspect the café, located on a corner, in a residential neighborhood with walls covered by album covers, posters and photographs memorializing the life of Frank Sinatra is reminiscent of cafes in Brogan’s home town of Trenton New Jersey.
Mick and Kris Brogan moved to Minnesota from Trenton 25 years ago to find a better place to send their kids to school. Mick started to look for work in the restaurant business, while Kris became involved in community development and real estate. After a few years working for food service corporations as a restaurant manager, including several years running four restaurants in the IDS center owned by Woolworths, Mick decided he would be happier owning his own place. That started a 10 year journey which finally ended when He and Kris opened Papa’s Pizza on 44th and Thomas in North Minneapolis’ Victory Neighborhood in June of 2005. (The Victory neighborhood is located in the north Minneapolis west of Penn and Newton avenues, east of Xerxes Avenue, between Dowling Avenue on the south and the Humboldt Industrial Area on the north.) Even after they stumbled on to the North side site it still took two years before they were able to work out a lease and navigate City approvals and licensing processes.
Often what comes to mind when people think of North Minneapolis are dangerous gang activity, a high crime area, drive by shootings and home foreclosures. I asked Brogan if those perceptions influenced their decision to open Papa’s? “What we found,” said Brogan, was a neighborhood that was changing. There are younger families moving into the area, because the housing prices are lower and the quality of housing is high."
The Brogans did some research and found that the neighborhood wanted a restaurant, particularly and Italian restaurant. “I’m Irish, but my step grandmother was Italian,” Brogan said.
Brogan acknowledged higher then normal foreclosures and some crime and vandalism. “We don’t see crime as a big issue. We have some petty crime like all neighborhoods. A few years ago we had big problems with graffiti but after one big hit we organized a group a started to remove the graffiti within a few hours of discovering it. Since then we haven’t had graffiti."
What Brogan sees is a neighborhood that is largely safe, stable and diverse and economical. “The houses are smaller, we have a mix of white, Asians and African Americans and it is an inexpensive place to live.” (According to the City of Minneapolis Neighborhood profile the neighborhood is 70% white, 15% Black, 5% Asian and 2% Hispanic)
Yet even with their positive research, actions and attitude the Brogan’s have been disappointed with patronage from the immediate neighborhood. “People in this area -because there hasn’t been much up here- have a mentality of driving to the suburbs for shopping. So when people eat out they go elsewhere.” Said Brogan. But they are doing things to generate more neighborhood awareness and business. The Papa’s Pizza Web site has links to arts and education, businesses, local publications and community organizations representing all the neighborhoods in North Minneapolis. Kris Brogan chairs the Community Livability Committee that meets monthly at Papa’s. They have come along way with the neighborhood. When they opened the restaurant people were suspicious because the Brogan’s lived in South Minneapolis. Some people even believed that when a couple of businesses nearby closed –a barber who retired and an upholsterer who relocated- that Brogan had driven them out of the neighborhood.
Since opening in June of 2005 the business has grown steadily. “I still haven’t generated a salary for myself” said Brogan, “My wife supports me and all extra cash from the restaurant goes back into the business.” Last summer Brogans expanded by leasing the store front next door where they added a deli bar. Was opening a restaurant in North Minneapolis worth the effort? “It was hard to get started but it's growing and Kris and I have started looking for a house in north Minneapolis.”
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I have not spent as much time on this as intended, so it could use some reordering and basic editing, so feel free to offer comments. Thanks!
Minnesota women tackle the water crisis in Kenya
LEAD 1: In August, 2007, two young women, part of a volunteer program sponsored by a religious group of women, set out for a remote village in Kenya. Their mission: to bring water to several villages facing water shortages and water polluted with amoebas and parasites. In order to accomplish this task, Anika Walz and Angie Van den Hemel would spend a year working with local community leaders to establish wells and rainwater harvesting, not an easy task in a country faced with adversity.
LEAD 2: Have you ever thought about how many gallons of water you use each day? The average American consumes 100-176 gallons of water per day between showering (20-50 gallons in just one 10 minute shower) or flushing the toilet (5-7 gallons per flush). In America, we turn on the tap and clean water flows. But across the globe, the fact of water is not so simple for Kenyans, who average 5 gallons of water per day.
**LEAD 3: “Imagine giving your baby his first bath in water teeming with amoebas and parasites. EXAMPLE 2….EXAMPLE 3…” (Note: these will be filled in following the interview)
According to the Millennium Goals set forth by the United Nations, Kenya is at serious risk of not meeting its goal concerning water by the 2015 deadline, meaning the 60-70 percent of Kenya’s rural population without access to clean water will continue to struggle for survival.
These people and their lives trace back and are rooted right here in Minnesota. Anika Walz and Angie Van den Hemel, two young volunteers with the St. Joseph Worker Program, are spending a year working to alleviate water poverty in the rural villages of Kenya. Walz and Van den Hemel got connected to this project, dubbed the Kenya Water Project, through their involvement with the Sisters of St. Joseph, a religious order that sponsors the St. Joseph Worker Program, an Americorps-affiliated year-long volunteer opportunity for young women to work in social justice and non-profit organizations. After spending the previous year volunteering at an organization in the Twin Cities, Walz and Van den Hemel “renewed their commitment” and signed on for a second-year residency, this time taking their passion for social change internationally.
This project, initially started by the Sisters of St. Joseph, who are devoted to a charism of love for dear neighbor, truly believe their dear neighbors are global. Their interest in this water project sparked with money donated through a local Rotary Club. Sister Rosita Aranita, a member of the Hawaii province of sisters took on this project and was joined in August by the two St. Joseph Workers.
The three worked in Kenya from August through January, at which time they returned to the states when violence over political elections surmounted in the country. Now that Walz and Van den Hemel have returned to Minnesota, their work continues. Though it is tough to be back, especially because it was months earlier than planned, the two admit they have to continue on with the work because they know firsthand the people they are working for. The Kenya Water Project is working towards raising enough money to establish or complete projects in five locations in Kenya: Kanam A, Adiedo, Soko, Koyier/Kamuga, and Wadghone-Nyongo.
The Kenya Water Project works in collaboration with local communities in Kenya and their leaders to develop plans to secure clean water for each community. The communities assess their own needs and identify resources, also selecting leaders to form Community Based Organizations. Those leaders manage and implement all elements of the water project, which range from harvesting to wells.
Three methods exist for water collection in Kenya, including: rainwater harvesting, borehole wells, and spring preservation. Depending on the land, the last two options are not always feasible, such as villages located near the highly polluted Lake Victoria. If wells are drilled too closely, they can cave or be spoiled by other sources of pollution. Walz and Van den Hemel cite that Kenya receives enough rain water annually for harvesting to be a solution to the water shortage, and it is the most cost-effective method.
For Walz and Van den Hemel, this project goes beyond just water. To the people of Kenya, clean and accessible water can provide the means for girls to attend school and not have to walk 10 miles every day in search of water. It means children and adults can drink clean water and not have to bathe or wash clothes in water contaminated by pollutants and sewage with amoebas floating freely. Access to clean water can provide the path Kenyans needs to survive and begin to thrive in their communities.
In order for the Kenya Water Project to continue to reach its goals and send proper funding to support the harvesting and well-digging, Walz and Van den Hemel will continue to raise funds. If you would like more information, or like a monthly update on this project, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To send monetary donations, contact the Minnesota office at 1884 Randolph Avenue in St Paul, or call 651.690.7044.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
In April, a workshop for local government staff and elected officials will examine ways to implement city sustainability goals using model sustainability ordinances.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The audience in courtroom 880 in the Ramsey County Courthouse was quiet. Heads were bowed and some hands were clasped as they waited for the verdict to be read. The resolution would be the culmination of five months of testimony, preparation and hard work. The small slip of paper containing the name of the winner was handed to Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson who glanced at the words, refolded it, nodded and handed it to presiding Judge James Dehn to read to the crowd.
With his usual dramatic flair, Judge Dehn slowly opened the paper and reviewed its contents. He then looked up at the crowd of eager eyes and announced - “the winner is Lakeville North High School!”. Half the crowd erupted with cheers, high 5’s and back slaps while the other half sighed their disappointment. This was the finals of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s mock high school league as observed by Emily Reilly, the mock trial director. And for the first time in the twenty-two year history of the program, Lakeville North was crowned the champions. The team of high school students emerged victorious over the students from White Bear Lake North High School after a grueling two and half hour trial on March 12, 2008.
“Mock trial gives kids an inside look at America’s legal system”, stated Reilly. “It also helps kids develop teamwork and critical thinking skills”. High schools throughout the state are invited to participate in the program each year and to enter teams of 8-14 students. Volunteer attorneys develop a mock case that the students use to prepare arguments and witnesses. Mock trial teams then compete against each other throughout the season and teams are scored based on presentation, mastery of the facts and the ability to publicly speak and think on their feet. The merits of the case and whoever wins or loses the case itself is not a factor for the scoresheets.
The Minnesota mock trial program was taken on by the Minnesota State Bar Association in 1984. Only a handful of schools participated at that time and in that inaugural year, Cloquet High School won the state championship and went on to place second at the national championships. Since the 80s, the mock high school program has grown to include over 1,500 students in the state of Minnesota and over 135 teams. In addition to the student participants, over 600 attorneys volunteer their time as coaches and judges for the program and roughly 100 teachers volunteer to coach as well.
Although mock trial focuses on the legal system, most of the students who participate do not end up going to law school. “The great thing is, the skills they learn can be applied to almost any profession,” commented Reilly.
At the awards banquet for this year’s season, the keynote speaker was Minnesota’s First Lady Mary Pawlenty. Pawlenty encouraged the students to seek out their passion, whether it be a legal career or otherwise. In her speech, Pawlenty encouraged the students to take on one horrible summer job to provide a reference with which to gauge all other employment experiences. Pawlenty reminisced about her worst job in ninth grade at a fish plant in Massachusetts. She worked on a scallop line digging through fish goop to find scallops. Upon her return to school after the summer, she noted that she certainly “worked harder and got good grades” knowing that working on a fish plant was not something she wanted as a permanent career.
The winners from Lakeville North High School are now looking forward to representing Minnesota at the national championships in Wilmington, Delaware in May. With the skills they have developed through mock trial, the twelve young men and women on this team can certainly look forward to futures that probably do not involve fish plants.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tickets are FREE - but you need to get them ahead of time.
Minnesota Public Radio's Broadcast Journalist Series welcomes NPR's Bob Garfield, co-host of "On the Media," to Macalester College on Monday, March 24. (7-8:30pm)
Garfield will discuss the future of news media: the lens through which we see the world and the world sees us.
Spring not only marks the start of warm days but the end of some heavy competition in the state high school mock trial league. Over 135 Minnesota high school teams entered the competition this year but only one team could be named champion. The season culminated with a morning of semi-final rounds at the Ramsey County courthouse on March 12, 2008, followed by an award banquet at the Crown Royal Plaza Hotel in downtown St. Paul.
Unlike the solemn banquets that many in the adult legal world are used to attending, the high school mock trial banquet was more like a pep rally with regional championship teams encouraged to yell louder than others when their school was announced. The keynote speaker for the afternoon ceremony was First Lady and former judge Mary Pawlenty.
During her talk, Pawlenty noted the key traits of a good attorney to the eager young crowd. She pointed out that good lawyers can take a complicated case or situation and make it understandable to the audience. The group of over two hundred kids had spent the past two months learning to clarify their thinking and simplify their communication in order to eventually become good attorneys or to use in whatever profession they chose. Pawlenty’s words reinforced their training.
Compliments were also given to the adults who had worked hard with the kids to prepare them for their mock trial competition. Pawlenty advised the students to learn from the adults who care about them and who work with them. She even suggested they take at least one horrible summer job to help with character development. Her personal example was her summer after 9th grade when she had to work at a fish plant in Massachusetts. This experience helped her to appreciate her education and to want to better herself in life. Her past experience with bad bosses helped her to understand how to not to treat people and her experiences with good bosses taught her how to make others better.
Pawlenty closed by telling the students that each one of them can do something great with their lives whether it be as attorneys or in other professions. She suggested they pause and ask themselves “what is it I really want to do?” She pointed out that each student could “write [his or her] own future.” She reminded them that their world is beyond Minnesota and that each should strive to follow their passion.
Awards ranging from regional champions to All-State Attorneys were handed out after the keynote address. Regional champions were Apollo High School (Region 1), Minnewaska High School (Region 2), St. Cloud Christian School (Region 3), St. John’s Preparatory School (Region 4), Lakeview School (Region 5), New Ulm High School (Region 6), Owatonna High School (Region 7), St. Paul Central High School (Region 8), White Bear Lake North High School (Region 9), Lakeville North High School (Region 10), Meadow Creek Christian School (Region 11) and Lakeville South High School (Region 12). St. Cloud Cathedral High School won the team award for outstanding professional performance. They were nominated by opposing teams due to their courtesy and professionalism in the courtroom. The individual professionalism award was given to Katinka Kun of Nacel International School.
At the end of the ceremony, the two final teams who would face off for the state title were announced. Loud cheers came from the tables of Lakeville North High School and White Bear Lake North High School. The finalists left the banquet to prepare for the final showdown that would take place in the Ramsey County Courthouse at 2:30 p.m. the same afternoon.
In a heated battle, it ended with Lakeville North High School emerging as the state champions. The students will now move on to represent Minnesota at the national mock trial championships in Wilmington, Delaware in May.
©2007 Doug McGill
The Four Boxes is a story structure that’s adaptable to almost any conceivable journalistic form – news story, feature piece, personality profile, issue analysis, trend story, investigative piece, and many more. It answers the need for every piece of journalism to be timely, relevant, useful, and aesthetically pleasing enough to attract a reader’s attention and to spend some quality time reading.
Learning it is a bit like a musician the musical scales. It takes only a little while to memorize, and a lifetime to master. But you can start producing credible, useful and readable journalism very quickly by simply following this paint-by-the-numbers method:
Box #1: The Anecdotal Lead
Box #2: The Cosmic Paragraph
Box #3: The Motley Middle
i) Statistics, Quotes, Anecdotes
iii) Paraphrase-quote, Paraphrase-quote, Paraphrase-quote.
iv) Bricks & Pillows
Box #4: The Kicker
Box #1: The Anecdotal Lead
Professional journalists call this the “anecdotal lead,” and it is the most common way to begin a piece of journalism. It can be used with many kinds of articles – profiles of individual people, trend stories, feature stories, analytical pieces, news events, and many other types. Generally it’s only a paragraph long, or two at the most. An anecdote is only a small story, a small event that in some way illustrates the larger story that you are writing about. It’s helping, in trying to find the best anecdote to start your piece, to ask yourself: “If I were at a dinner with friends and wanted to tell this story, instead of writing it, what’s the story I would start by telling?”
For example, in the case of the story about the migrant workers, I might start by telling the story of Maria, a migrant who lives in Mapleville:
“One morning, Maria phoned home during her coffee break and learned that her six-year-old son was running a fever of 103 degrees. She rushed to her boss for permission to drive her child to the hospital, but instead was coldly told: ‘Don’t bother coming back if you leave, because you won’t have a job waiting for you.’”
That little anecdote could be a good lead for an article about poor working conditions and lack of human rights for Mexican migrants working at the local vegetable canning plant in Mapleville.
Box #2: The Cosmic Paragraph
This section is what professional journalists call the “nut” or the “nut paragraph.” It is where the journalist explains the wider significance of the small anecdote that started the story for the whole community, state, nation, or whatever is the article’s full context. It’s usually a paragraph long, or two at the most. In addition to showing the lead anecdote’s larger significance, the nut paragraph also often includes brief allusions to important parts of the story ahead. For that reason, the nut paragraph is sometimes also called the “billboard paragraph,” because it gives readers quick highlights of the article to come.
For an investigative story about migrant workers at the local cannery, the two-paragraph story “nut’ might read something like this:
“Maria’s story is one of dozens of nearly identical tales told by seasonal workers at the Peppy Foods plant in Mapleville, and at the company’s sixteen other food-packing plants throughout the Midwest. In interviews with more than three dozen workers, a picture emerged of a company that routinely exposes its seasonal workers to hazardous working conditions even while it denies them access to medical care, affordable housing, and a minimum hourly wage.
“In the most egregious case of abuse, one Mexican worker, according to county health records obtained yesterday, died after complaining of headaches but was forced to continue working until he collapsed. State legislators say this case and dozens of others documented by Migrant Rights International, a human rights group, are certain to influence a controversial “illegal immigration” bill that is supported by Governor Tim Plenty and scheduled for a vote this week.”
Box #3: The Motley Middle
This is the most free-form and varied part of journalistic articles. Pick up a newspaper or news magazine and peruse a few pieces to see how many different ways writers develop their stories. Whatever their form, however, the middle section of stories always must support the statements and allegations made in the “lead” and “nut graf” sections.
In addition, when you boil it down, the middle section of nearly all journalistic stories are all built from three building blocks which are: 1) Anecdotes, 2) Quotes, and 3) Statistics. And the three most common ways to organize the middle sections are roughly as follows:
1. Anecdote, Quote, Statistic -- Tell an anecdote (one paragraph), give a quote (another paragraph), give just one or two carefully chosen statistics (a one-sentence paragraph). Repeat, repeat, repeat, all the way to the end.
2. Chronologies -- The most ancient and time-honored storytelling method, a succession of paragraphs based on the logic and suspense of the formula “and then … and then … and then.”
3. Paraphrase-Quote – Let’s say you have three quotes from a key interview that are colorful, each different from the another, and each of them making a key point. A good way to handle this is, in a one- or two-sentence section ahead of each quote, to paraphrase what your source said in your own words. Follow this paragraph-long paraphrase with a paragraph that contains the person’s quote. You have just created a two-paragraph block of text, the first being a paraphrase of the source’s quote, and the second being the quote itself. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
4. Bricks & Pillows – In this popular writer’s tip, “bricks” stand for statistics, numbers, or a paragraph of dense logical reasoning or dry-but-necessary description. “Pillows” meanwhile stands for a colorful quotation, a funny or compelling story, or something else that emotionally fun or rewarding and not intellectually taxing. The idea is to alternate -- a paragraph of brick, then a paragraph of pillow. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Box #4: The Kicker
A “kicker” is journalism lingo for the last paragraph or two of a story. It wraps up the story in an aesthetically and emotionally pleasing way.
The best way to learn to write kickers is to read lots of stories to see how other journalists do it. When you write a kicker, you have gotten to a point in writing the piece where you feel you’ve emptied your notebook and your mind. You’ve reported what you needed to report, and you’ve said what you needed to say. Now you can stop, clear your mind of everything, and just tell a last little anecdote.
Like the lead anecdote, this one should have some symbolic resonance with the whole story. Play around until you find one. A survey of successful kickers shows the following frequent characteristics in their writing:
1. Super quotes – The most common successful kicker is memorable quote, especially one that creates a strong mental picture that restates the story’s main theme in a fresh way.
2. Author’s language (as opposed to a quote) that restates the story’s main theme in a fresh way.
3. A question, in either a quote or the author’s language, that applies one last turn of the story’s main theme and opens it imaginatively to a new line of speculation or questioning.
4. A phrase that lightly strikes or echoes a phrase or theme from the story’s lead.
5. Phrases that evoke or directly mention endings, beginnings, continuity or finality, births, deaths, etc.
©2007 Doug McGill
The key to good citizen journalism is reporting – bringing to readers ever-more-accurate descriptions of the world around us. The basic building block of such reportage is facts, i.e. verified observations.
In this sense, journalism is fundamentally distinct not only from fictional writing but also from persuasive writing, which is increasingly the dominant mode of media communication today and includes political speeches, talk shows, press releases, advertisements, special-section newspaper articles (“Home,” “Style,” etc.), and most of the writing on personal web logs or “blogs” on the Internet.
The promise of real journalism therefore is that it gives readers and viewers not a fantasy, a vacation, a pitch, or an argument, but a factually-grounded report. A report should make the reader feel that he knows more about the world and how it works, and that he can therefore use that information to become a better citizen and person.
In this sense, a potential pitfall for beginning citizen journalists is precisely the pre-existing beliefs they have about the civic and personal issues that matter to them most. They will have a natural and precious desire to share their experience, their knowledge, and their passion for peace and justice and democracy with others.
But the very strength of these beliefs can be a problem if the citizen journalist doesn’t remember that it’s always her first job to report as opposed to argue or give opinions. Reporting means observing the world and listening to the views of others with an open mind, and then reporting those observations and views as accurately as possible.
This does not mean that a journalist – professional or citizen – should not have a point-of-view. To the contrary, a point-of-view is necessary in order to shape the facts gathered in your reporting. A point-of-view can include opinions but is always much larger than that, including everything about you that is relevant to the article you are writing. So depending on the article, the point-of-view you need to explain to your readers may include the neighborhood, city, or state where you live, the place you grew up, your economic status, your race, your professional affiliations, your gender, your hobbies, etc.
Your personal opinions, beliefs, and emotional feelings are often so strongly felt that they seem to be co-equal, or even larger than, your point-of-view. But from the reader’s perspective, they never are. From the reader’s perspective, your personal opinions and feelings are only a small part of the much larger perspective from which you write.
Therefore, no matter how strong your opinions and feelings, your first priority as a journalist is to subordinate them to point-of-view. Not to erase them, which would be impossible and undesirable, but simply to subordinate them to the much larger and more important needs of the reader and of the world. Reader want, expect, and deserve that.
F or every article you write, then, prepare yourself to go out into the world to observe and listen carefully, with an open heart and mind.
Subordinate your own emotions and beliefs to what you see and hear, then record your observations as accurately as you can. A kind of humility is needed. You and your readers both know that your point-of-view will shape everything you observe and report. So don’t pretend you are being “objective,” everyone knows you can’t be. Rather, divulge your point-of-view humbly – including your opinions if they are relevant -- as part of your best attempt to accurately record what you observe as a journalist. That’s the best you can do.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
When my friend Tom Arndt was a boy, growing up in south Minneapolis his bible study class visited a photography studio to learn how photographs were made. “So that’s how you got hooked on photography.” “Nah,” he said, “I didn’t get into that until art school.”
The other day I met Arndt at the Matchbox Coffee Shop in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s just around the corner from the Minnesota Center for Photography (MCP) where he volunteers his time to help create opportunities for photographers that are deeper and more continuous than a chance bible school field trip. Now an accomplished artist working on his second book and a show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art he was recruited originally to serve on the board of directors of the not-for-profit MCP. But over the years his mission at MCP has grown to what he described as “teaching, motivating, and asking people for money.”
The center is located in an old residential neighborhood, in Northeast Minneapolis, on a corner with buildings that - in the days before malls, supermarkets and ubiquitous automobiles- might have housed the centers of neighborhood commerce. Today there is the Match Box Coffee Shop, which is appropriately named and may have once been the local shoe repair shop. A group of architects, specializing in urban development, occupy the corner building that at one time could have housed a drug store with doctor and dentist offices on the upper floor. The MCP is located in a storefront that most recently was a neighborhood restaurant, but might in earlier years have housed the local grocer.
As Arndt walked me through the center what unfolded was an institute for photography that is accessible and easy to use. Upon entering, beyond a short corridor, are the current photography exhibits inviting patrons into a brightly lit gallery. There are no gates, uniformed ushers or ticket sellers at the door. The exhibits are free though a donation of $3 dollars is requested as evidenced by a large plastic container watched over by a smiling intern.
On the opposite wall, in the gallery, I could see a picture of a young woman that looked like an enlargement of a passport photo. I was curious about the rest of the exhibit but as I started toward the galleries Arndt took me by the arm and detoured me though a small bookshop into a digital photography lab with 12 work stations and a digital color printer. We left the digital lab and once again Arndt bypassed the galleries and led me through a fully equipped commercial kitchen, left over from the former restaurant, and into a spacious black and white photography lab and dark room. The labs are available to members for a reasonable rental fee and to students of the many classes the center sponsors in fulfilling a mission that Arndt described it as “a place for young photographers –of all ages- to learn the craft, show their work, and converse with other photographers.”
Finally, Arndt and I stood in the gallery and what earlier looked like a passport photo was the first in a group of self portraits by EJ Major that mirrored the fourteen year decline of a young woman through a progression of “mug shots”. As I looked over Arndt’s shoulder at the photographs, he described the MCP’s partnership with Free Arts Minnesota, a program dedicated to helping abused and neglected kids and their families express themselves artistically. In the exhibit the photographer used wigs and make-up to document the real life case of a young woman who tragically deteriorated from drugs, and the hard miles and choices that accompany survival on the streets; the very experience the Free Arts Minnesota works to prevent.
Next we moved to an exhibit by German photographer Bastienne Schmidt portraying photographs of contemporary life in Germany. Her photographs depict a world in transition from the cold war and a divided nation to a more peaceful, integrated world, with fewer walls and barriers. As I looked at Schmidt’s vision Arndt told me that since 2006 the MCP has partnered with the McKnight Foundation’s Artist Fellowships Program. It provides a one year artistic residency at the MCP and a $25,000 grant to the four photographers. MCP provides a venue to the Fellows to exhibit their work, make public presentations about their work and to participate and instruct in MCP’s educational programs.
The MCP is truly The “Peoples” Photography Center. It is only appropriate and likely that Arndt, the official photographer of Lake Wobegon, would have a passion for the MCP. (It is Arndt’s images that inhabit the current Lake Wobegon Calendar that I found hanging on the wall at the MCP, on which he teamed with Garrison Keillor, to document in pictures and words everybody’s favorite Midwestern Burg.) If you would like to meet Tom Arndt he hosts a monthly session called the Camera Workers Group an informal discussion of contemporary photography, held at the MCP, where participants can review their work. It is open to all.
The center is located in Northeast Minneapolis at 165 13th Avenue NE. It is a place that is easy to take in on a lunch break, a stop while running errands or for a respite from a bike ride.
More about MCP can be found on their Website: http://www.mncp.org/ , or call 612.824.5500.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sibley Bike survives on donations: donated money, donated time, donated bikes. It is interesting in that their main goal is to provide a place to learn about bike repair, maintain your bike with their open-to-the-public tools and shop, and to help you ride more. If it weren't for a lot of passion and tenacity they wouldn't be around today. Sibley's history is sprinkled with failures and false starts, yet their members and all-volunteer board have a vision that is pretty strong. Making bicycles and biking more accessible in the Twin Cities. From a failed start with the yellow bike program to a transition to advocacy and involvment to the current form of a public, open to all, bike shop that is about empowerment and knowledge about bikes. Their journey started in 1989 and is, now, seemingly, on the right track, or trail you could say.
Their volunteers offer a number of services. The have a shop of good used bikes. They offer a free repair shop; they provide the space and tools, you do the work. Included in that is a opportunity for various classes on bike repair. Current classes are full for April and there is a need for teacher/mechanics for the April and May classes.
Sibley Bike has been looking for opportunities to partner with other organizations and groups that benefit both. Cynthia ____________ has been running a "side program" as a volunteer for the past few years. She has facilitiated the exchange of bikes donated but unusable to the Center for Victims of Torture. In return, about 30 people from the CVT have gotten working bikes or bikes with baskets for groceries each year. These people are often struggling for basic services and so this becomes their main transportation and is a source of pride, confidence and self-sufficiency.
The kids in the neighborhood benefit too. With an opportunity to learn bike maintenece in free classes to their earn-a-bike program. Sibley Bike survives by the thin thread of volunteer efforts and public donations. This is where their empowerment theme comes into play. If you're poor but have some time to work at the shop you can put in hours and literally earn yourself a set of wheels. Their goal is that by the time you've earned yourself wheels you'll also know how to take good care of your wheels and so have more independence and some confidence to care for your new wheels. The program isn't just for young kids, it was originally designed for the big kids among us, those in our 20's, 30's, or 80's that want or even need a bike.
Sometimes individuals will donate a used bike but more often the bikes Sibley recieves are from neighborhood clean-ups. These are volunteer intensive days and weeks in the spring and fall. Neighborhoods and cities alike are happy that there is less going directly to the landfill. But a very large percentage of bikes collected from clean-ups are rusted beyond repair or of very poor quality.
And regularily, on Saturdays, help is needed in the shop stripping bikes too far gone for repair and refurbishing. There is a small income stream from parts and materials from the stripped bikes. However, the effort is large in stripping bikes that are rusted beyond relief.
If you want to learn more about Sibley Bike or volunteer you can find them at www.bikeped.org or at 712 University Avenue in St. Paul.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Vuze to Comcast: It's not a fair race when you own the track
She says: They're one of the most balanced/throrough tech sites out there. (but they are jaded towards wanting an open net - it's their business ya know).
Friday, March 7, 2008
Here are a couple of journalism news sources that I find interesting when it comes to understanding the media and citizen journalism.
- PressThink by Jay Rosen, is a great site for media criticism from a professor at NYU. Also see his project for citizen journalism call NewAssignment. Especially topical are his recent musings about the press "vetting" political candidates, in particular the New York Times. Start here and then read the followup.
- Terry Heaton publishes The Pomo Blog. He's worked with a variety of television stations to update their sites to be more community based. Two recent entries worth looking at are Research is all about the source, on who watches local news, and a linklist to recent stories at Newsweek and NYT about citizen journalism.
- Columbia Journalism Review publishes a lot of pieces, everyday, and they're a bit long, so I never have the time to read all of them but it's good stuff.
- The Pew Research centers have two relevant projects: Excellence in Journalism and the People and the Press.
- Dan Gilmor is one of the authors we read for our first meeting. His weblog is at Dan Gilmor Blog.
- Finally there's Romensko, a daily blog at the Poynter institute. It's a firehose of updates to which I sometimes subscribe and then promptly remove from my feed reader because I don't have the time to read all of the gossip. So I end up waiting for the sources above to reference Romensko if there's something I'm interested in.
Here's a list of my favorite political weblogs that I read regularly. They're all on the left of the political spectrum, so if that doesn't float your boat then tread with caution. Minus Andrew Sullivan.Daily Kos: Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation Eschaton Hullabaloo MyDD :: Due Diligence of Politics, Election Forecast & the World Today pandagon.net - your fifth rental is free Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall TAPPED The Sideshow The Washington Monthly Think Progress TPMCafe || The Coffee House www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog Once Upon a Time... Lance Mannion Consortiumnews.com Beat the Press Glenn Greenwald - Salon Open Left
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
This is a blog for participants in citizen journalism workshops. You are invited to post assignments, articles, reactions to workshop sessions ... and pretty much anything else you want.
By posting on this blog, you give permission for your article to be published on the Twin Cities Daily Planet. All articles published on the TC Daily Planet will be made available for re-publication by community media partners of the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Except for the TC Daily Planet and its media partners, no one else has permission to publish articles submitted to this blog. Anyone else who wants permission has to specifically ask for it from the author.
Participants in the workshop are invited to read and comment on one another's blog posts. Have fun!