Friday, August 31, 2007

All about my new home

Well I made it, I'm in New Mexico, day one of tomorrow and the next six months.

Albuquerque reminds me a lot of a Reno and San Jose hybrid.

It's kind of in a valley like San Jose, well not really, it just looks like that at night when you're seeing lights for the first time as you come off the hills into town. But it's like Reno because it's dry, hot, a desert, has a layout similar to Reno in sprawl and highways... and a casino is not too far from town.

About a week ago I said hello in person to the Albuquerque Journal.

Walking in the first day, the building was like a huge complex that reminds me more of the Intel, eBay and Google campuses than a newspaper.

It's big.

There are tons of security checks, a cafeteria (I know, but they made a big deal out of it), large elaborate forms to sign off on, many many departments with many sub-departments, a gas station, car garage, massage chairs in the lobby (seriously), a private jet (the Journal was the only paper in the air after Sept. 11 and one of the first in New Orleans after Katrina), an elaborate newspapers in education program, an auditorium with guest speakers, seminars and yoga classes and a library with the newest issues of National Geographic, The Columbia Journalism Review, Mother Jones and papers from all over the country that put other publications like People, Us, Maxim and those top sellers to shame.

The library also houses the archives and that's where I met my biggest disappointment of the day.

Natchwey, no way... One of the things I was looking forward to doing when I got here was scouring the archives for James Natchwey gold. Slice that dream up and call it spaghetti (yeah, I said that), it's nigh impossible to find anything before 1995 in the archive and the only option is to research what he shot and look it up by subject, or just run across it by a happy accident.

Still I thought I'd give it a shot, but as the guardians of the library informed me, many have tried, all have failed and there's nothing special to be found.

"He was just a daily shooter."

Maybe they aren't that good, or just the normal stuff, but still, who wouldn't want to look at the origins of their heroes? I don't care if all you have is a crayon drawing he made in kindergarten, I'm not going to pass up the chance to see it.

So it's hard, but still, maybe I'll give it another shot. Of course I wasn't the first to try, why'd I think I was?

The paper publishes four editions each day, with a fifth edition on Thursdays, and if you stay late enough you can even get a hot-off-the-presses copy of the state edition. There's also special sections each week and regional community papers as well.

With a circulation of 115 thousand daily and 160 thousand on Sundays, it's the biggest paper in New Mexico and the largest paper I've ever been involved with at this level.

As for stories, we cover everything. It's practically the state paper, so when news breaks they move on it. The governor, Bill Richardson is running for president so of course we'll be covering that (hopefully while I'm still here), there's a military base not to far, sports are always a big deal, immigration I'm sure will come up as we border Mexico, and then pretty much anything you can think of they touch on it.

Trips to foreign countries are not unheard of, they have a Washington D.C. bureau to cover national issues and all in all I think I'm in a good place to learn some new things and improve on some old things.

It's also the home of John Trever, the political cartoonist, I've been meaning to drop in on him and say hi.

The paper is still family owned and operates under a Joint Operating Agreement with the Albuquerque Tribune, a Scripps Howard paper. They've been this way since 1933, yup, they were the first ones ever to do this. It's even referred to as the "Albuquerque model" sometimes.

The way it works, both sides very strictly keep their editorial sides separate. Real strict, the photo archives for each paper sit in a locked cage.

But this JOA cuts costs by sharing sales, advertising, printing and all that other business stuff that saves both papers money... at least that's how it used to work, as of Tuesday morning the Tribune is up for sale. We'll see what happens.

On a side note, if newspapers are dying, what happens to the guys who make those huge 2000lb. rolls of paper?

In the photo department they've got a lot of experience. Photo editor Jaime Dispenza actually interned at the paper before coming back years later for his current role.

Jaelyn deMaria moved over from production to shooter a few years ago and seems to be right on the money with bringing multimedia to the Journal. Her recent piece is a bit long, but it's just as good as anything I've seen coming from the Times, Washington Post or Mercury News.

Roberto E. Rosales
has a very good eye, just the other day I grabbed one of his shots from President Bush's visit to ABQ out of a trash can because it was so visually striking.

Marla Brose has the enthusiasm and drive that you seldom see in the professional world, I can tell she's going to be an inspiration on those slow days.

One guy in particular that I really want to talk to is Richard Pipes, this guy was in the president's motorcade during the Kennedy Assassination, has been embedded in Iraq (the sequel), and can cure cancer with a steely gaze. Ok, I made that last one up, but think about it, these are just the things I know, who knows what other gems of a story he has to tell. (I smell a podcast.)

Finally (I can't name everyone, there's 13 shooters, not including the editors and awesome lab techs), fellow intern Morgan Petroski is pretty good at this thing to (almost to good... makes me wonder how I got so lucky to be brought here.) Check out her stuff, she has a good eye for variety, I particularly like this one myself.

(If any of you happen to read this, I'm very sorry if I didn't mention you, there's just too many of you that are way to good at this.)

I think I'm going to like it here.

ABQ is a unique place. To the east are the mountains (yay! It's not all flat!). To the west are some ancient volcanoes (yes, volcanoes). To the south is Kirtland Air Force Base (and now I'm on a Homeland Security list for linking to them, way to go). And to the north are Indian reservations that keep the borders of El Burque in check. So the way it works out is there's a lot of people in a smaller space (about 800,000), which makes it feel more like a city.

By that same token, crime rates are very high here, and according to Lonely Planet at 20% of the state's population below the poverty line, it's the poorest state in the nation (that may have changed however).

It's a place with many stories to tell, hopefully we speak the same language.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blogopaloza, it's!

This is my pledge to you, I will post something new everyday for the next two weeks.

Why? I'm curious to see what happens.

Also, late last year I finally added my feed to SLR, you can find it in the column on the right, just scroll down a bit.

I've been posting a lot of items to it fairly regularly, using it for the stories and topics that I think are interesting but don't warrant a full blown post, plus it let's me make my smart @$$ one liners!

Check it out if you like what I write about, like how I think, have a similar sense of humor or are just curious to see what shapes my crazy thoughts.

That's that for now, I'm off onto another assignment.

Stay Tuned.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Save the earth+ Burning man… something doesn’t add up

Here’s my random thought of the day… Burning man is coming up quick and out of curiosity I thought I’d look into how to get there.

I found the usual tour bus stuff, trains to Reno and a couple of posts on Craigslist from folks looking to split the gas, but a few that caught my eye were the “green” options like bicycle co-ops and buses that ran on bio-fuel.

Bio-fuel is a pretty good “green” alternative I’m told but I started thinking about it. Why are festival goers so concerned about bio-fuel when they’re going to the desert to burn stuff and inject more carbon into the atmosphere?

The carbon cycle has been at the base of the global warming debate and I find it strange that some of the same people screaming about the carbon footprint and lowering personal emissions are also going to be traveling thousands of miles to place more of that stored carbon into the atmosphere.

It’s all a bit hypocritical, no?

The promotional material for the event describes itself as "tens of thousands of participants gather(ing) to create Black Rock City in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, dedicated to self-expression, self-reliance, and art as the center of community. They leave one week later, having left no trace."

Well perhaps no trace on the ground, does someone come and sweep the desert of footprints and Funyuns (no jab, that’s just a tasty chip… and a funny name, say it, it’s fun) bags up at the end?

Maybe they do, but what about the sky? What about all the dirt, soot, pollution and carbon generated from the power generators, transportation, lighting, instalations and fires?

I’m not saying don’t go, I’m just saying be honest. It’s fun. I get that, heck I’d go if I could. But come’ on, taking “green” transport to go and pollute the planet in some festival in the desert (which is quickly becoming commercialized, seriously, why are the tickets so expensive?) for a week, why are we lying to ourselves?

I get the allure of Burning Man. I’ve had friends go in the past and all have said it’s an experience, so I’ve wanted to go for some time.

I almost went last year, but then ticket prices priced me out (seriously, why does it cost so much to pitch your own tent in the desert?), but I learned that if you volunteer to help set up the week prior, you’d be let in for free.

So I made the plan to do just that this year and go. I told a few friends of my plans and suddenly we were all going as a group.

Things changed when I landed my current internship, and I won’t be going, but after a phone call from someone who was already on their way today I started thinking about it again, hence today’s Random Words. (Yeah baby, it’s back!)

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Friday, August 24, 2007

It's like clock work, Canon announces the 40D

Yeah it's basically an advertisement for Canon, but the 40D has finally been made official, that's awesome! (Time to pick up a 30D on the cheap?)

It brings the Live View from the MarkIII, bumps up the pixels to 10 million, brings over the dust reducing sensor shake from the Rebel XTi and is just something new and cool to play with.

(Who needs a MarkIII anyway? It just makes you a lazy photog and takes a large chunk of your bank account.)

Take a look at the details. (P.S. Told ya Fang, suck it!)

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

How is news changing? Ask some experts!

I spend a lot of time talking about and thinking about new media and how it is going to change the news business and what we need to do to make sure we change with it. There's been more than a few posts here on SLR and talks in person to anyone willing to listen. But have no fear, this isn't a set up another such topic, this time I'm going to point you to some experts on the matter.

Found this event in my inbox and I thought I'd share.

The Silicon Valley Social Media Club is holding an event tonight at Yahoo! headquarters on just such a subject; and they're invited some of the most involved minds to chime in on how news aggregators have created a new model for news sources and a new conversation between comsumers and producers.

Look at that lineup, I think this might be more then the "we already know this stuff" discussion.

No longer is the news a static product which only reports, now it is a conversation between readers that shapes which stories rise to the top, which points of view prevail and provide on the fly feedback on what the public needs to know and wants to know.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
6:30 pm PT - 8:30 pm,
@ Yahoo! Sunnyvale, CA

I'd go, but I'm in New Mexico.

If you make it, let me know how it went. (Psst... podcast it!)


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Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm taking the left turn in Albuquerque

By the time many of you (hey, maybe both of you can compare notes!) read this I'll be on my way to ABQ, New Mexico.

I've not said much about it thus far on SLR, but back in June I was accepted for a six-month internship at the Albuquerque Journal and I start on Monday at 8 a.m.

I'm excited. The paper is the largest in the state, number 86 in U.S. newspaper circulation and continues to produce quality work year after year.

And the paper was the old stomping ground for James Nachtwey (1976), Mike Davis, current Photo Editor at the Oregonian, and Robert Browman, current Senior Producer with Media Storm. Not a bad pedigree, and those are just the names I'm aware of, I'm sure there are tons more out there.

Plus everyone I've talked to about the city has had nothing but good things to say about it. Some have gotten their start there, others have raved about the people and one close friend met his wife and changed his life there.

However the thing that has got me really excited is the hiring of a new multimedia editor. I'm not sure if they've filled the position yet, but it's a great gift for me to work with some like-minded folks.

Obviously it's an opportunity ripe for taking advantage of and I'm aiming to do just that.

Ok, so with that I'm off, 16 hours, over a 1000 miles, plans to see the Grand Canyon along the way (maybe... or the four corners) and a project that I've been tooling around with for a few weeks now.

It's time for me to take that left turn in Albuquerque.

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Ike bien en German spam

So it seems that my last post was converted to German and posted on a weird blog, which I can only assume is spam.

3 things come to mind:

1. WTF

2. How do you find these things Ryan?

3. What can I do to make sure this happens again.

It's a bold new frontier and I'm (apparently) blazing a trail.

*I realize I'm giving the site hits, but it's funny, so whatever.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Woo-hoo! SJSU is (back) in the house!

Just moments ago, SJSU PJ Department head Dr. D. Michael Cheers, and this summers fellow at National Geographic, sent me an e-mail that our project, formerly under wraps, had a new national backer. National Geographic.

He asked me to pass the word, so, here we go: National Geographic has joined The San Jose Mercury News as the national and local partners, respectively, for a series of summer multimedia workshops over the next couple years.

From Cheers' e-mail:
National Geographic Magazine just agreed to be the national media partner on the three-year round the world student documentary multimedia expedition! That means that they will supply us with a photographer or editor for one week during the summer school course(s)....for the next three years beginning summer 2008.
Each year a select group of students and professionals will travel abroad and spend a week to two weeks producing stories employing every form of media under the sun.

Excited? You should be.

More details and formal applications will be coming soon, but if you really want to know more about it, ask us in person at the west coast stop of this years NPPA Flying Short course.

We've been working on it behind the scenes for a while and couldn't really talk about it, but with the last issue of News Photographer, the cat was out of the bag, San Jose State University will be hosting the last leg of the one of NPPA's biggest events.

Oct 27, mark your calenders now! (If you have suggestions or ideas for things to do/ pitfalls to avoid, let me know. Please!)

In a couple weeks SJSU will also host Gordon Parks: Crossroads, a traveling exhibit of the late master's work.

A personal source of inspiration in my early development, I've long turned to his pictures, films and writing for that extra oomph when needed.

On display will be his work from Life magazine, personal projects and there are plans for a screening of "Shaft", his cop drama that introduced the blacksploitation sub-genre.

And if you think all we're doing is scoring events and putting on workshops, think again.

Of course Daniel, Lauren, Hanna, Fang, Felix, and Jordan (who am I forgetting?!) have or are just about ending their summer internships, but that's not all, the internship love continues as San Jose State University students continue to make new strides in the fall.

Lawrence has something cooking, Diana is in the midst of something big, Neal is going to Russia and Germany, and Kyle Hansen just scored himself the dream job with Rob Curley and company at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. (Yes, that Rob Curley.)

I was also up for it to for a while, I think I went through two, maybe three, rounds of interviews before I got the sad news (but it's cool, Curley still answers my calls).

I know what Kyle will be up to, having talked to so many people, but they always told me we can't talk about it (there's a lot of fear that other papers will catch wind of it), so all I'll say is, it's really really awesome, a lot simpler and useful then you might think, the thing that will prove newspapers will never die and I'm very very VERY jealous.

Kudos Kyle, it's going to be a great four months.

As for me, I've got a few things cooking, but more about that in another post, this one isn't about me.

Evening update: Well it appears the early bird gets the worm. I had started writing this post just before I forwarded Dr. Cheers' e-mail with the National Geographic news to the rest of the SJSU PJ crew, but had to cut and run when pre-internship errands proved more pressing. Well it looks like where I dropped the ball, Daniel and Ryan picked it up, I not so sure about the headline however... I almost doesn't make sense to post the same thing again, but well... I already started the post so... meh.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Day one in New York City

On Tuesday I got into New York City, it's my first time here and my first thought is, "wow, it's hot here, I should have packed my T-shirts."

My next thought is, "wow, this place is amazing." I can see why people love this place.

I hopped on a bus and rode out to Harlem. The neighborhood is full of color, from the personalities you run into, to the spray paint on the walls.

It reminds me a bit of Valencia Street in San Fransisco, well minus the bikes and dogs... hmm... actually it's not like Valencia at all then.

I'm not sure how the locals feel about the graffiti, but I was digging it. First, it's real New York graffiti, the place were it all began. Second, despite what others say, I think it's a work of art when you can spend ten minutes admiring the line and layering of a tag on 125th street, just as you could examine the light and brushwork on a Rembrandt.

I ended up walking up and down Harlem for a bit, saw the famous Apollo Theater, kept hopping to hear jazz music, but of course it was too early in the day for that.

After Harlem I decided to hop on the next bus that came by and see where it took me, ended up on Broadway near Columbia University.

There are a ton of restaurants here and it seems like a cool place, but it just didn't have the same character as Harlem.

As I walked around people watching and taking in the sites I found that people in New York were a lot nicer than they get credit for. From the way Lonely Planet made it sound, New Yorkers were angry, dishonest thieves, but it wasn't true.

On the subway, a woman I had asked for directions actually came looking for me two stops down the line to tell me I should move to an express train across the platform. I couldn't believe it, Lonely Planet had mislead me (unless the real surprise is still coming... *gulp).

I was on the One train headed downtown and that was a story in itself. First, if you haven't been to NYC, the subway is the cheapest treat you'll find. You can spend hours riding up and down just taking in the sights and colors as other trains come and go past a window, lights flicker in tunnels and people from all walks of life come and go.

On the 42nd and Broadway stop, "here come the business men (and woman)/like a heard of cattle rushing in" all dressed up and suddenly making everyone else on the train look like they've just shown up unprepared for an interview. It's interesting to see this dichotomy so isolated to certain stops on the line.

It's the best $2.00 you'll ever spend, and for me it got the creative juices flowing.

Plus on the train I also got a girl's phone number, almost without even trying.

I think I'm going to like New York City.

I'm not sure where today is going to take me.

I was formulating a list of places to go, but somehow running from the MET to Dodger Stadium to Conny Island for a Nathan's just doesn't seem like a relaxing day, and my finger is itching to press down on a shutter.

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