I have always been a bit partial to folk music, even as far back as my days as a child listening to Neil Young with my dad.
I find comfort in the power of simplicity that goes along with talking about such important issues. Folk music is undoubtably what got me into punk rock, since is fits the same idea of playing three chords and performing your music in the most passionate way you know how.
When I got assigned to cover the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, I had no idea how lucky I would be. Billy Bragg was Thursday night’s headlining performer. I have been listening to Billy Bragg for years. His music deals with political issues, including the rights of workers and the general well-being of all people. His music, as well as Woody Guthrie’s, has been a huge influence to me.
I was fortunate enough to have the best spot in the whole place.
Woody Guthrie would have turned 100-years-old this year, and his influence is still killing fascists.
I recently worked on a story about a little girl with cerebral palsy who uses a power wheelchair and really wants to learn how to walk on her own.
The story is about a study that looks at how increased mobility could also influence a child’s cognitive and emotional development. But beyond that, it’s about a little girl and her family – a young mother with a trendy haircut, and a little girl who cares more about her new dog, Charlie, than the fact that she can maneuver her pink-framed wheelchair.
TV cameras surrounded the three-year-old, her family, and the local researcher during a press conference Tuesday. These are the questions I snuck in during the meeting:
1. How is this study on infant wheelchair mobility different than other ones before it?
The answer: The researcher said it has more random selection, and the children can use their wheelchairs at home, away from the medical facility.
2. How does using a wheelchair at an early age affect her physical therapy and personal mobility?
The answer: Mom and professor both agree it makes her want to be more mobile when she’s not in the chair. She tries to crawl and walk on her own, even though she gets tired easily.
I shot my first video with this story, which I’m really excited about (at least part of the shots are mine). Like the TV reporters standing around me, we were looking for chances to show you who this little girl really is. I hope the research continues and they are able to make some headway. It seems like a good start to a good program.
What’s the best way to shoot photos of people swimming in 100 degree heat? Getting in with them, obviously.
When you are a photojournalist, sometimes swimming equals working, and that’s pretty cool.
In preparation for this year’s Mayborn, I’ve collected several of my favorite pieces of long-form journalism. Goodness, I love that genre with all that is left of me.
You’ll find essays, narrative nonfiction, generally awesome storytelling curated here. I dig storytelling, love writing and read because, for me, it’s as optional. Like breathing. There’s a solid week’s worth of transcendent stories hyperlinked below. Please enjoy them to the fullest measure.
By Frank Deford
“Robert Victor Sullivan, whom you’ve surely never heard of, was the toughest coach of them all. He was so tough he had to have two tough nicknames, Bull and Cyclone, and his name was usually recorded this way: coach Bob ‘Bull’ ‘Cyclone’ Sullivan or coach Bob (Bull) (Cyclone) Sullivan. Also, at times he was known as Big Bob or Shotgun. He was the most unique of men, and yet he remains utterly representative of a time that has vanished, from the gridiron and from these United States.”
By Chris Jones
“For the 281st time in the last ten months Roger Ebert is sitting down to watch a movie in the Lake Street Screening Room, on the sixteenth floor of what used to pass for a skyscraper in the Loop. Ebert’s been coming to it for nearly thirty years, along with the rest of Chicago’s increasingly venerable collection of movie critics. More than a dozen of them are here this afternoon, sitting together in the dark. Some of them look as though they plan on camping out, with their coats, blankets, lunches, and laptops spread out on the seats around them.”
By Chuck Phillips
“My name is Chuck Philips. I spent the last ten years of my professional life at the Los Angeles Times investigating the murders of the world’s most important rap artists: Tupac Shakur, and his nemesis, Biggie Smalls. My reporting kept bringing me back to a brutal 1994 ambush at Manhattan’s Quad Recording Studios — a pivotal moment in hip-hop history, a portent of violence to come: a bloody, bicoastal battle that would culminate in the killings of both Pac and Biggie.”
By Jon Day
“On his last day of work as a bicycle messenger, my brother organized a race. Messenger races, known as alleycats, usually consist of straightforward if anarchic runs across the city. A raggle-taggle peloton will gather at some anonymous starting point, then commence on a mad dash from checkpoint to checkpoint, a wave of rubber and steel crashing through the streets. But my brother’s race was different: an urban steeplechase with a fox-hunt theme. He strapped a huge bottle to his back containing a few gallons of paint, with a pipe running down the bike frame that terminated in a small tap. He attached a fox’s tail to one of his belt loops. At the start of the race he opened the tap; the paint started to flow as he pedaled off into the traffic, a line of white glistening on the tarmac in his wake. After a few minutes I released the racers, a pack of bicycle-hounds. With a blast of horns, the race was on.”
Tampa Bay Times
By Ben Montgomery
“Allie Mae Neal pushed through the screen door and found a shady spot on her porch where the summer sun didn’t bite. Kittens purred at her feet and wasps flitted in and out of holes in the roof. The few neighbors who passed by saw an old woman in a wheelchair, blue eyes lazy and unfocused behind thick glasses. She’d wave and they’d wave back. Black or white. She has never held a grudge.”
By Thomas Lake
“The most infamous roster decision in high school basketball history came down 33 years ago on the edge of tobacco country, between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, in an old town full of white wooden rocking chairs. The decision took physical form in two handwritten lists on a gymnasium door, simultaneously beautiful for the names they carried and crushing for the names they did not. A parade of fragile teenage boys passed by, stopping to read the lists, studying them like inscriptions in stone. Imagine these boys in the time of their sorting, their personal value distilled to a binary question, yes or no, and they breathe deeply, unseen storms gathering behind their ribs, below their hearts, in the hollows of fear and exhilaration.”
By Brian Phillips
“On December 10, 1810, in a muddy field around 25 miles from London, a fight took place that was so dramatic, controversial, and ferocious that it continues to haunt the imagination of boxing more than 200 years later. One of the fighters was the greatest champion of his age, a bareknuckle boxer so tough he reportedly trained by punching the bark off trees. The other was a freed slave, an illiterate African-American who had made the voyage across the Atlantic to seek glory in the ring. Rumors about the match had circulated for weeks, transfixing England. Thousands of fans braved a pounding rain to watch the bout. Some of the first professional sportswriters were on hand to record it.”
By Wright Thompson
“Jay Paterno parked his minivan on the side of Porter Road, looking at the solemn crowd gathered around the statue of his dad. It was Tuesday night, and a shrine had been forming near Joe’s feet for days. Someone left a war medal. There were dozens of flower arrangements, 30-year-old seat cushions and a houndstooth cap. For a moment, he took in the scene: the bronze statue, the flickering tea candles, the bright lights of the football stadium kept lit in memory since Joe Paterno died.”
By Dave Sheinin
“The first thing you do is, you go over and grab one of those iron rods — rebar, it’s called — from the pile. It may weigh 50 pounds, maybe 80, maybe more. You throw it over your shoulder and hump it over to your crew. If it’s 115 degrees in Vegas that day, it’s probably 135 in the hole where you’re laboring, clad in heavy work clothes, building the foundation of another casino, feeding the great beast of the desert. You lay the rebar down just so, tie its ends with 16-gauge wire, and now it’s ready to be encased in concrete, one more grain of rice down the beast’s gullet. They say Las Vegas is a town of phoniness and illusion. Fake pyramids. Fake Manhattan skylines. Fake Eiffel towers. But Ron Harper, for 27 years a union card-holder in Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 416 — a “rodbuster,” as they call themselves — can tell you one thing: For every gaudy, phony facade in this Godforsaken town, a couple hundred men, some of them his men, bent their backs to send it up into the sky. Watch him get one of those monthly shots in his neck to ease his pain, and then tell him everything in Vegas is fake.”
By Wesley Morris
“It couldn’t have just been you or me or the Magic. It had to be the Heat. Not simply because the Heat play in Miami, the home of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in late February after leaving a 7-Eleven, in Sanford, Florida, with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Not simply because LeBron James and Dwyane Wade understand the meaning of statement clothes. But because, suddenly, the Heat understand the power of statements. A team whose dominance in the last two seasons stems from one of the tackiest, most egotistical events in the history of sports media had now devised one of the classiest, most egoless.”
The New Yorker
By Malcolm Gladwell
“Five years ago, several executives at McKinsey & Company, America’s largest and most prestigious management-consulting firm, launched what they called the War for Talent. Thousands of questionnaires were sent to managers across the country. Eighteen companies were singled out for special attention, and the consultants spent up to three days at each firm, interviewing everyone from the C.E.O. down to the human-resources staff. McKinsey wanted to document how the top-performing companies in America differed from other firms in the way they handle matters like hiring and promotion. But, as the consultants sifted through the piles of reports and questionnaires and interview transcripts, they grew convinced that the difference between winners and losers was more profound than they had realized. “We looked at one another and suddenly the light bulb blinked on,” the three consultants who headed the project–Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod–write in their new book, also called “The War for Talent.” The very best companies, they concluded, had leaders who were obsessed with the talent issue. They recruited ceaselessly, finding and hiring as many top performers as possible. They singled out and segregated their stars, rewarding them disproportionately, and pushing them into ever more senior positions. “Bet on the natural athletes, the ones with the strongest intrinsic skills,” the authors approvingly quote one senior General Electric executive as saying. “Don’t be afraid to promote stars without specifically relevant experience, seemingly over their heads.” Success in the modern economy, according to Michaels, Handfield-Jones, and Axelrod, requires “the talent mind-set”: the “deep-seated belief that having better talent at all levels is how you outperform your competitors.”
By Spencer Hall
“Dan Mullen sits at his computer, surrounded by the habitat of an SEC head coach: wraparound desk, computers, phones, and bric-a-brac emblazoned with school iconography. Bulldogs pop out from every corner of his office. Balls from the past three Egg Bowls and the 52-14 nullification of Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl sit encased in glass. A Diet Coke is open on the table.”
By Chris Ballard
“When the first police car erupted in flames in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday, June 15, not long before the first pylon crashed through a department store window and shortly after the first bloody brawl broke out, photographer Rich Lam was perched above the ice of Rogers Arena, firing off as many as six frames a second during the third period of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. At the same time, mechanical engineer Josh Evans, wearing a Canucks jersey, was sipping a vodka and water at a packed sports bar a mile from the stadium; Vancouver police inspector Steve Rai was racing to don riot gear downtown as rocks whizzed through the air; Australian barista Scott Jones and his girlfriend, Alex Thomas, were preparing to leave a friend’s apartment to check out the commotion; sociology professor Robert Carrothers was at home in northern Ohio, calling up TV feeds on the internet; and Bruins winger Milan Lucic was on the bench during a penalty kill, trying to control his breathing.”
I want a dog so bad.
The problem is, I live in an apartment that charges a $500 deposit for pets. I also don’t have the time to have one.
I feel like I’m cursed though, because I see dogs on assignments ALL THE TIME.
Why won’t the cuteness stop?
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks interning at The Oklahoman. I’m always asked the same two burning questions by my friends or fellow student journalists: “What do you do at the Oklahoman?” and “How do you like working there?”
I currently work for as the online communities intern in the social media hub on the 9th floor. Online communities pertains to the “know it” topics and their expansive library. If you’re unfamiliar with the “know its,” they pool together information, resources and articles published in The Oklahoma and on NewsOK into an online library.
These topics are developed as a joint multimedia project, using all of the OPUBCO newsgathering sources, from reporters to photographers, videographers, data research personnel and archivists, as well as from wire services, syndicates and other sources.
If you ever wanted to know more about any of the “know it” topics, ranging from addiction to mental health, cultural awareness to finance, recreation to Sam Bradford, there is a “know it” section created for each and every one of them.
But there also are the online communities. Edmond, Midwest City, Norman, Oklahoma City and Yukon serve as the hub of each community, which also includes surrounding towns and areas. Not only are there stories, photos and resource material compiled by Oklahoman and NewsOK staff members, but there are contributions from readers.
If you want to contribute information, praise or promote events in your area, you can do so by adding the following emails to your mailing list.
firstname.lastname@example.org — email@example.com — firstname.lastname@example.org — email@example.com — firstname.lastname@example.org
Each community’s site has instructions on how to send in material. Just follow the directions.
Every morning, I come in armed with an AP Stylebook, cup of coffee and my own offbeat sense of humor as I sort through reader-submitted releases and news. I copy edit these releases and send them to Communities Editor Don Gammill or on occasion Metro Editor Kimberly Burk for the “News From You” page that runs each Saturday in The Oklahoman.
Occasionally, I will write about one of these topics featured in the “know it” library on our Know It blog and I’ll tweet out Don’s traffic column and “know it” related items on my personal twitter account.
What I love about journalism is investigative reporting, open records, entertainment writing and seeing language put to good use.
That’s “know its,” my internship and me. If you have questions, send me a note.
Foul balls usually make for pretty interesting photos.
A hard cork ball, wrapped in yarn and covered in leather headed toward a crowd of people will make even the strongest man weak in the knees.
Guitar virtuoso and MLB superstar, Samuel Regan, and I took a closer look at the crowd and noticed some interesting expressions.
Let’s take a closer look at the people affected.
I know it was sad to see the Thunder lose tonight. But for me, the evening was important for another reason.
I met a former Oklahoman reporter who now works with a government organization that encourages people to quit smoking.
I learned from our conversation that goals in life will change, and you should define yourself by what you love and maybe not what you do from day to day.
She is a great writer. She knew she wanted to be a writer in 5th grade. After college, she joined the Associated Press, and she was a state desk reporter at the Oklahoman until just two years ago. That was right after her son was born, and she decided to take another job so she could spend more time with her family.
We talked about professors and the journalism program at Ball State, where we both graduated. We talked about why the Oklahoman has such a great internship program – because they take time to teach and encourage people who are spending the summer there.
And we talked about how Southern Indiana girls find their way to Oklahoma. She never thought she would stay here, but then she fell in love with the city and with the man who would become her husband. And I smiled, sitting across from her at the table, eating cotton candy and thinking about how things work out.
She said she misses the newsroom and the adrenaline rush of writing on deadline. But she’ll always be a writer. And I might be that way, too. I’ll be passionate about news but also about my future family. For now, I’m just thankful to be here.
I had never missed an assignment before today.
My whole morning, I was trying to play catchup. I was 45 minutes late to my 10 a.m. assignment, but still managed to get there in time to make a few decent photos. I was not so lucky with my 12 p.m. assignment.
I was supposed to be at the Edmond Senior Center to take photos of a senior tap dancing performance. I was running behind because I decided to go back the office after my last assignment to work photos. To top it all off, the directions I printed off led me down a dead-end dirt road.
When I arrived at the senior center, I found out that I was about 20 minutes too late.
I kind of panicked.
Immediately, I started asking what other activities would be going on throughout the day, and for a minute my Plan B was going to be a senior aerobics class. What a nightmare….
Luckily, a short walk through the building brought me to a game room where a few guys were playing pool. They were very welcoming and seemed like they enjoyed having me there, so I stayed and took a few photos.
After I had been there for about 30 minutes, I realized that there was enough joking and laughing to do a quick story about these two buddies.
I went out to my car and grabbed my audio recorder and started collecting audio clips. I ended up hanging out with them for about 5 games of pool and had a great time.
The moral of the story is to never come back empty-handed.
I knew that someone was going to be mad about me missing my assignment, so I went the extra mile with what I had and came out with something worth while.
[Click HERE to view the audio slideshow.]
It’s a crime against humanity to sit on wisdom. There are too many of us who want that knowledge — who need that knowledge. We’re all students, even those of us who are called teachers, presidents, revered leaders.
Many won’t read this post. Some won’t read it, because, in the ocean of ephemera and vitriol that is the Internet, this message — this clear coke bottle straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel — will never find them. Sad panda.
But there are a precious few of you who will read this wisdom culled from men and women who are smarter than I — more on this later — that will feel as I did when I first heard it spoken.
Maybe one of you is a Power That Be, and you have no need of New Age Confucianism. Or, and this is likelier, you’re just a guy or gal trying to make good, trying to get better, working day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute to fulfill a dream. To the latter, that’s where I live, too. I love you. I respect you. Keep busting hump.
Here’s that wisdom:
Listen more than you talk
Have no sense of entitlement
You have to fail to succeed
You have one chance to make a good impression
Storytelling will win the day
Great conversations will win the day
You have to be the exception to the rule
Don’t forsake the things you do well
Dress like you want people to take you seriously
Use Twitter as a news feed
Always say yes
If you lack passion for it, you’ll never be great at it
Read, write, edit. Read, write, edit. Read, write, edit.
You’re either the steamroller or the pavement
Question: Where did I receive these sacrosanct sound bites? Answer: The Sports Journalism Institute, where the following folks dropped intellect profound:
(In no particular order)
John A. Walsh
Executive Vice President and Executive Editor at ESPN
News Editor at ESPN
Executive Editor at ESPNewYork.com
Senior Assistant Sports Editor at Boston Globe
Sports Columnist at St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dan Le Batard
Miami Herald Sports Columnist and ESPN TVand radio personality
Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State University
Oklahoma City Thunder beat writer at The Oklahoman
Media Columnist at Sports Illustrated
Director of Community Outreach at Columbia Missourian and Associate Professor at the University of Missouri
Stephen A. Smith
ESPN.com Columnist and TV personality
Vice President and Executive Producer at MLB.com
Vice President and Executive Editor at MLB.com
Sports Editor at Columbia Missourian and Associate Professor at the University of Missouri
ESPN.com Big 12 blogger
A Managing Editor at the Salt Lake Tribune and President of the Associated Press Sports Editors
Staggering list, right? Well, it staggered the heck out of me. Now, don’t waste what they gave us for free. If you do, there WILL BE CONSEQUENCES. I’ll … I’ll do something. I don’t know what that something is, but it will be BAD — very, very BAD. (OK, I won’t really do anything. But you should — act on their wisdom.)
Peace and soul,