WMNF's Future of Journalism Series

Fake journos O.K. too. With Rob Riggle in Largo, FL 2007 
Although I love talking to anyone about anything, my favorite people to interview are other journalists.

I want to know what they know, how they got started, what they're covering, what they'd rather be covering and when the book's coming out.

Maybe it's because I've always been a freelancer. I miss creative pow wows and staff meetings, opportunities to be a mentor & be mentored.

I'm still hungry for the knowledge and experience that will make my work better. So I live vicariously by asking the questioners lots of questions.

And as a media activist at heart, I'm also particularly fond of spreading my love of (good) media and journalism to those outside of the industry. I think everyone in any field should know how media works and how it can both bring benefits and do harm. 
Which brings me to my latest project: a Future of Journalism series on 88.5 WMNF. I started by making a list of all my journalism & media heroes, and then asked them for interviews.

©2007 NPR, by Stephen Voss
On Monday the first of these interviews aired. The premiere episode featured NPR's David Folkenflik, who talked about being editor of Page One, a book of essays on the New York Times and journalism, which he says picked up where the documentary of the same name left off

There's also an extended interview in which David talks about his early career in newspapers, making the switch to radio, and how after seven years at NPR he's still referred to as the "print guy".

It was exciting to hear how excited he is by the current state of journalism. While the news business has been gloomy since I entered it and suffered immensely this recession, Americans are consuming more news than ever.
Next week's interview is with Peter Osnos, who has my nomination for godfather of modern American journalism. He began his career as the lone assistant to independent journalist I.F. Stone (whom he calls one of the first bloggers), spent many years overseas with the Washington Post, gave my generation one of our finest journalists, founded PublicAffairs Books, and much more. 

Happy listening.


Why (Good) Media Makes Me a Better Person

Be honest: have you ever met or seen a person with some kind of disability and just stared? Or done the opposite - looked away so as not to be rude?

Five or so years ago while I was a shy (so not good for radio) co-host on the Saturday Asylum on WMNF, I briefly met a musician who brought up these insecure feelings in me.

Luckily I happened to have been recording the musician, Susie Ulrey, and her reunited 90's indie band Pogoh, with a video camera at the time of this occurrence.

That made it easy to look her right in the face without having to look her in the eyes. I admit I often hide behind media when real life is hard to handle.

Fast forward to this year, a few months ago, when Susie was playing a solo show at New World Brewery.
No one could really tell me much about her story. 

I knew that she's around my age (thanks Facebook!) and that when I first met her she used a walker. Now she uses a scooter to get around.  

The place was not crowded and I hid behind a digital camera. I left that evening without even saying hello.

And felt crappy because of that. Although what would I have said? Hi, we met a long time ago and I want to know what it's like to be you?

Actually there is a career path that's a bit hard to come by these days but if you're lucky enough to snag it, you get paid to ask strangers these very questions.

So I pitched the story to the St. Petersburg Times, which I've been writing for every few months or so for the past year and a half, and my editor accepted (and polished) my idea. 

I spent a few hours with Susie and a microphone, from a coffee shop to her physical therapist's office to her home, asking the lamest questions.
She was happy to have someone asking and was very open to all of it.

She used to hate the stares, now she hates the ladies who use handicapped stalls as their own personal dressing rooms. She had special business cards made up for the jerks who park in handicap-accessible parking spaces that thank them for making her day that much more difficult.

But the best story I found wasn't just hers, it was the story of her and her husband. A love story. You know, the good stuff.

The story is online today and, of course, in the paper. Go buy one. There's lots of other stories in there too, about this lively Tampa Bay community that you might be missing out on. It'll be the most valuable $.50 you've spent all week.


Hamell on Trial

The size of the crowd Sunday evening at Skipper's was modest, but the songs were the opposite. One-man band Hamell on Trial played three sets, rated G, R, and Triple X. 

This one, Halfway, was a part of the latter. (Thanks to my new YouTube pal Gordo73 for sharing this video, recorded in 2007 at the Etcetera Theatre in London.)


Yoga Babes (& Babies)

I can be a little hard on Tampa sometimes, wishing it were bigger, more cosmopolitan. Some place else. 

Though there's plenty of history, much of it has been paved over by fatter times. Luckily the future is all around and begs us to do right. 

Of course part of this city's appeal is that we who live here are busy making it what we want.

A couple of weekends ago I attended a yoga-themed baby shower (top that Seattle!). 

White sugar isn't bad if buried in a cupcake.
Jennifer Oppelt, the featured mommy-to-be (for the second time), is one of the most healthful and wellness-conscious ladies around. 

It helps that her mother is Denise O'Dunn, an Ayurvedic Practitioner and the owner of Balance & Bliss, a healing arts practice currently housed at the Lotus Pond

Denise led the all-ages group of gals in yoga and then the Motherhood Blessingway, a ceremony celebrating Jenn's new path.

We threw a ball of yarn (like girls) around the circle, gently wrapping the string around the wrist of one before sending it on to another. 
Finally we clipped the yarn and tied them into bracelets, to remind ourselves of Jenn and her journey.

Mine fell off a week later, but I no longer needed the reminder. 

Ties are often invisible and distant while still remaining strong.