Where to Go from Here

Terrified.

Sick to my stomach.

Fearful.

In shock.

These are not words to follow a presidential election. At least, not an American one.

Yet here I am as the ballots are being counted and it’s nearing the time when the candidate I didn’t vote for will likely be in the White House in two months, and I am deeply troubled.

As a former ‘news person’ I’ve had some ask me how this could’ve happened. There are lots of hypotheses: erroneous polling, overly confident headlines, and an intentional overlook of a demographic that is often looked down upon – the white low-income class. They don’t satisfy.

I have to wake up to my alarm tomorrow.

I want to look forward to walking down the aisle, cradling my first child in my arms, seeing a new country for the first time.

I dream of a world that isn’t so broken or hate-filled.

It seems bleakly impossible.

Tonight I prayed a prayer that only God could give me. I didn’t pray for understanding – I may never get that. Instead, that impossible prayer begged for trust, for comfort, for wisdom, and most importantly – for strength to know how to keep living the values and beliefs I have – when everything else turns inside out around me. Our call isn’t to flee. Our call is to be a part of the change we still believe in, no matter who is our President. 

Terrified.

Sick to my stomach.

Fearful.

In shock.

But now it is time to do/think/share/hope/love more than we did before.

#imwithher #imwithUS #Election2016

Eric Garner March

Being Silenced: Where Change Can Begin

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read, statements posted, comment threads and tweets resonating with anger and injustice. This has been a charged, painful, frantic few weeks, and while one would hope it is to come to an end, this is the beginning.

Eric Garner March

Funny. There is hope in that statement, isn’t there? We are entering another civil rights era, a time where men and women march to ensure equality. This time, people of all races and backgrounds will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, repeating the cry. Black Lives Matter.

 

I have wrestled with blogging about these current events because I did not want to simply fume on the internet until I had all the facts. Yet it wasn’t until I realized how uncurrent these events were that I began to type.

#CrimingWhileWhite has been a shameful testimony of how many times one’s appearance has provided a second chance. Granted, these are anecdotes. Here, however, are the numbers. In this ProPublica article, there is proof of the racial disparity when it comes to bullets fired and lives stolen in an instance. Just a few years ago, the federal data revealed that “blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” Essentially, the authors of the article estimate that young black men face a 21 times greater risk of being shot by an officer than a white male of the same age.

Image courtesy of ProPublica

And this is data that isn’t even fully complete.

 

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All this being said, this post isn’t just a rant about what is wrong.

 

We must recognize we have created an enemy too. Who is “the other side?” Do we condemn all uniformed men and women? I know many who have taken the oath who grasp the dignity of life and the delicacy of justice. There is no doubt that a medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, and the man last seen with his arms around the black man’s neck is not facing any repercussion. The days to come though, may be punishment enough. What we need to seek is a solution, not revenge.

 

A former mentor of mine urges us all to “lean in and listen” in his editorial in the Huffington Post. Call me old-fashioned, but respect garners further respect. I have no right to command that you silence your voices now. I just ask you to be aware of the potential prejudices spilling out of our hearts as we speak. At times, a listening ear will heal more powerfully than a spoken word, and a conversation more effective than a lecture.

——————————————-

Chaz Howard also wrote about the incongruity of Philadelphia’s protestors against the backdrop of the Christmas tree lighting at City Hall Wednesday night.

“A huge tree stood over all of us. Today shiny ornaments and lights hang on it. Not very long ago a black man would have hung on it.”

 

 

About 2000 years ago, a Middle Eastern man hung on it too. And He did have the right to say this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

All lives should matter. Let us strive to make them so.

Apparently not alone

A good friend of mine sent me this link (thanks Nancy and J!) of a news scrum.*

Whether you know what that is or not (I didn’t), the viewpoints of the contributors are insightful, varied and telling. Please read.

 

The point of this post is a self-realization: I am not the only journalist to be leaving my field. In fact, the article cites another USA Today reporter who’s left his post for a digital communications firm. Scott Martin’s primary reason is also concern for the direction of journalism. In his case, specifically technology news. Martin writes, “…Social media giants are becoming the new distribution powerhouses and gatekeepers of news as well as the place to put advertising dollars to work,” and as a result, he believes news is indirectly becoming corporate advertising.

 

My thoughts on journalism’s future are similar, though Martin addresses the introduction of advertising at a level deeper than my thinking.

1. Despite my interest in local news, its audience is diminishing.

2. The demand for viewers leads to efforts to engage the public.

3. Oftentimes these efforts focus on social media.

 

That timeline seems innocuous. New attitudes, approaches and mindsets are necessary to keep up with society’s changes.

 

Here’s the problem. With fewer people tuning into their local stations, those newsrooms are making decisions that tend to lean toward the more scandalous, the ones that will grab your attention. They’re also using social media in a way that gets people to tune in. Oftentimes it’s a simple copy/paste and putting the audience’s thoughts on the air.

 

Is this the right platform for random comments? Is this news? As stations become more desperate for viewers and engagement, I feel there will only be more changes that will not reflect the heart of journalism.

I will say that the current station I’m at does not compromise on many of these things, but I’m looking ahead.

 

It’s an unusual state-of-mind for me to be in. I generally plan in the short-term. But again, after much prayer, reflection and conversation, I’ve been able to take this leap of faith, leaving a job I love, to find out what else is in store. Stay tuned.

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*I had no idea what a “news scrum” was either. Fast Company describes it as a place where “senior reporters add crucial context and information to a mainstream technology story.”

A significant announcement

 

Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park

 

I took this photo at the end of January. Trees – in case you didn’t know – don’t grow sideways. Yet this one ended up parallel to the earth that gave it life, going against the direction of all the other trees.

 

I took this photo thinking of me.

 

This was a day spent in prayer and reflection, in praise and in apprehension. It’s when I decided I was going to run counter to what was expected of me and leave the field of journalism for now.

 

So there’s the announcement. After years of reporting, anchoring, producing and informing, I’ve decided it’s time to step away to see the people I love, explore other paths I may be passionate about and challenge myself in ways I haven’t in the past.

 

There are multiple reasons for this. Among them, the fact that I’ve said no to many opportunities, events and moments in an effort to say yes to a career. I’m also sensing a growing concern about the direction that local broadcast news is headed. If you’d like to chat more, feel free to ask.

 

Back to reality though. This means in June, I’ll be leaving Albany. For a few months, I will be roaming my home countries and a few others while searching for my next landing place.

 

For those of you who have been a part of this journey with me, I can’t thank you enough. You’ve been by my side at career fairs, stayed up with me until midnight or woken up at 3 a.m. with me, juggled my strange weekends, visited me in cities you never thought you’d be in.

 

oh, how I miss this

oh, how I miss this

fdsaf

my family, my rock

 

Most importantly, you’ve believed in me, especially in moments when I lacked faith in myself. Thanks to you, I’ve learned, grown, and become so much closer to the journalist I wanted to be.

WMDT in Salisbury, Md.

Salisbury, Md. [WMDT]

NYS Fair, YNN

NYS Fair, Syracuse [YNN]

Reporting, TWC News

Reporting [now TWC News]

 

Just as that wayward tree is being held up by the other upstanding ones, you carry me.

 

Your name is on my byline.

Becoming a Massachussettsian*

It’s funny how a town you’ve never been to can grow on you within a few days. Five, in fact.

Last Tuesday, I was startled to read that a hospital in North Adams, Mass., was abruptly closing in just three days.

Starting on Wednesday, I began to meet the hundreds of people who didn’t know what their future would look like. They told me their town of 13 and half thousand people would not survive without North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH). I met the daughter who moved within walking distance of the facility to ensure her mother, her children, and she would have immediate access to health care. And I joked with the Mayor who showed shock in his eyes but fearlessness in his words as he promised to do whatever he could to bring the hospital back.

 

And I kept at it for the next four (work)days.

 

Each day came with its own burdens, hurdles and stress. Daily, sometime in the mid-afternoon, there would be a late-breaking development. For a reporter who’s off the clock at 6 p.m., any news at 3 or 4 o’clock when it takes over an hour to travel is not welcome news. This led to late hours, extreme hustling to meet deadlines, and getting the necessary news out.

I was there a lot.

I was there a lot.

 

As exhausting as it was to make the drive daily (the trip from Albany to North Adams was at least an hour and 10 minutes), I came to welcome these views as I crossed the Taconic Mountains from the Empire State to the Bay one.

 

After a storm

 

Those mountain tops. Stunning.

 

It meant, that after all the winding, the bumps, the steep precipices, the curves beyond which I couldn’t see… there would be a city that I could try to help through my work.

It meant that I would soon start recognizing certain landmarks and towns.

It meant that I could give one of the recently unemployed leaders of the Massachusetts Nursing Union a hug.

It meant that I could stop by City Hall and get a heart-to-heart from Mayor Alcombright.

It meant that I would head down Main Street to pick up a muffin from Luma’s Muffin and Mug.

 

In less than five days, I found another home to love.

 

 

This is what I love about the news business.

—-

For some of the coverage I provided, check out these links:

Patients Respond

Adjusting to Health Provider Changes

Temporary Injunction Falls Through

The Unemployed Look to the Next Step

State Leaders Address NARH Crisis

 

*I don’t know if Massachussettsian is actually a word. I found it somewhere on the Interwebs and liked it.

 

A new day for a night noodle shop

Sometimes I like to call myself a foodie. Then there are times when I spend time with real foodies and I resign myself to being just a good eater. Nonetheless, thanks to some lovely Capital Region bloggers (Saratoga Food Fanatic and Chopsticks Optional), I was invited to check out a Vietnamese food tasting at Good Morning Cafe in Ballston Spa, an American brunch place.

Yes. Vietnamese pho at an American brunch place. You can say that out loud.

Here’s how the two incongruous meals come together:

A NIGHTTIME NOODLE CAFE!

A NIGHTTIME NOODLE CAFE!

You can peruse their Indiegogo campaign site, which has much more information than I will post here, but a quick recap: Good Morning Cafe owner Nancy Holzman and (hopefully) future Good Night Noodle operator Linh Sullins are coming together to transform Good Morning Cafe into a Vietnamese noodle bar. It will be open in the same space for three nights a week. Voila! Good Night Noodle.

With each bowl of pho sold, they will donate the funds to purchase a bag of rice for a family of 4 in Cambodia. You eat. They eat.

(If you don’t know what pho is, you REALLY need to push this campaign forward because you’re missing out. Or just click this useful link)

It’s an incredibly altruistic business model, and Holzman calls it “Direct Impact Giving,” or DIG. However, to get this new business off the ground, they are looking for YOUR help. There will hopefully be more on this on Time Warner Cable News in Albany next week, but until then, go BACK to their site. Wait, finish reading this first.

Back to the tasting!

There are again, other real foodies who will give commentary on the food better than me (check out Burnt My Fingers, featured on FussyLittleBlog, or Chopsticks Optional). My two cents?

These noodles, homemade chicken sausage, intensely rich broth (with low sodium!)…

Chicken meatball pho

Chicken meatball pho

and premium fish sauce you add in yourself…

Red Boat: high quality

Red Boat: high quality

all make this endeavor worth supporting.

Rooster!

Plus: a rooster!

Not to mention, it led to some great puns in the Twitterverse.

pho-ny ;)

pho-ny 😉

So support Good Night Noodle, especially on Wednesday evenings! What does that mean? Stay tuned.

Trust me, once you taste that broth, you won’t pho-get it.

When to stop

The interview by Christen Cooper of Bode Miller. Need I say more?

It’s likely you’ve already formed an opinion, and that opinion is one of outrage. How could someone push a grieving man? Personally, I’d love to hear from you, feel free to write your thoughts in the comment section!

However, since this is my blog, i suppose it’s time for me to pen a few thoughts. Also, disclaimer: I realize this is outdated. shhhh. I fell behind in my thought-penning.

So, being a reporter, I understand the pressure to land the “best” interview. Consider just how many people have watched the clip – and while they’ve expressed anger – they’re still tuning to NBC. Tears hit the top of the list when it comes to “good TV.”

Here’s a confession. This week, I asked a woman if I could interview her. She refused because “that other reporter already interviewed me and made me cry.” I learned that it was because a journalist from another news station touched on a sensitive and painful subject.

My thought was, “I want to talk to this woman.”

I realize that makes me sound calloused. However, that incident was almost three years ago, and the motive for wanting to speak to her was because I knew she had the ability to speak freely and comfortably.

Yet, she refused. And I walked away. I didn’t persist.

Back to Miller. I would have asked the first question Cooper asked.

I would have also asked the second question.

Whether or not I would’ve gotten to the third, I’m unsure. I feel I would’ve given Miller a reprieve. However, I understood why she kept up the questioning. You want to know who it is that’s in front of you.

What angers me most about this interview is that we continue to see Miller. How many cameras were there? How many lenses captured the man, knees buckled, sobbing? For several seconds, his grief fills the screen.

A woman asked a question that may have gone too far. And words can’t be taken back in the face of raw emotion. But don’t keep highlighting the hurt. Give the grieving their dignity.