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Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

I miss our “kids”

In aging, behavior, education, journalism, life, Media, US, work on June 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

By Caitlin Kelly

NYTSI2013_2clowres

They’re not really kids, of course, and they’re not ours.

They were, briefly, ours to teach and mentor and work with.

A week ago, Jose, I, and other veteran journalists, working as editors and web specialists,  from Tucson, Boston and New York, said a reluctant farewell to the 24 young men and women starting to work in journalism — scattered this summer to internships at CNN in Atlanta, the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Oregonian in Portland to name a few — that we met during The New York Times Student Journalism Institute in Tucson.

The Times has been offering the Institute for a few years now, alternating between Hispanic and African-American students, in Tucson and in New Orleans. It’s a terrific chance for students to come and be mentored, one-on-one, by veterans of our business.

It’s also, for Jose and I — who don’t have kids, or even nieces or nephews close at hand — a lovely chance to meet, mentor and get to know the next generation of journalists. Their passion, energy, smarts and excitement are invigorating. It’s so fun to watch them jumping headlong into difficult and challenging projects, helping their skills develop and their confidence grow.

We’re also deeply touched when, as happens every year, we’re each pulled aside and asked some tough personal questions by young people we have barely met, but who are hungry for candid answers from veterans a few decades into their chosen field:

How do you define success? Can I be a good journalist and have a thriving marriage? How? What about kids?

Can I get ahead and not be a total jerk about it?

How will I be able to handle the pressure? What if I can’t?

We offer them our insights, and hope they’re helpful.

Jose and I admit, though, that we would have breezed right past one another in our gogogogogogogo 20s, even 30s, desperate to carve out our niches within this hyper-competitive industry.

We were lucky enough to meet in our early 40s, too late to have kids of our own, but have remained close with several Institute alumni and hope to do so with several of this year’s group as well. Marie de Jesus, an Institute alum now working at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, even shot our wedding in Toronto in 2011.

English: Star Tribune Assembly Process. Kiswah...

English: Star Tribune Assembly Process. Kiswahili: Star Tribune Mchakato wa uchapishaji. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But it’s hard to offer truly useful advice to newcomers to journalism these days, whether employed or not, intern or freelance. The euphemism used to describe our industry these days is “disrupted” — aka chaos, guessing and hoping for the best.

One of the Institute students, hired as a summer intern by the Sun-Times, was flabbergasted as we all learned that the paper had suddenly and abruptly fired all 28 of its staff shooters and is now teaching its reporters, instead, to take photos with their I-phones.

That seemed to suggest that Alex, our student, would be the only trained news photographer on staff, suddenly responsible for covering — you know — the entire city of Chicago single-handed.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Here’s what Fortune magazine had to say about that:

Reporters, it should be noted, are in general terrible at taking pictures. Photographs snapped on iPhones by photographically inept reporters who are also trying to gather information at an accident scene, for example, are not going to impress anyone, digitally savvy or not. Journalism schools (again, often working from the addled theories of certain tech pundits and consultants) have been pushing the idea of “multimedia journalism” — that is, having reporters take photos and shoot video. Many of them offer training in this area. Most often, this results in nothing more than one person doing three jobs poorly rather than doing one job well. It also tends to sabotage the notion that all of these are professional endeavors and to strengthen the false notion that anybody could perform any of them equally well. This reveals a shocking level of disrespect for both journalists and readers.

It’s as if your local hospital fired every staff surgeon — handing kitchen knives to the orderlies, with which to cut us all open.

Not.

What do we tell our “kids”, then, in the face of such naked greed and stupidity? That this is the quality of senior management of the profession they have chosen? Sometimes, sadly, yes it is.

Chicago Sun-Times Building

Chicago Sun-Times Building (Photo credit: MA1216)

So our “kids” — now connected to one another, and to some of us, through every possible iteration of social media — are off on their own. We’ve called our pals in every city they’ve landed to make sure someone local and helpful, usually a fellow journo or photographer, is offering them a meal and a welcome.

We look forward to seeing their photos and stories, to hearing their tales of woe and joy.

We miss them!

We won! Take the trivia test The New York Times team killed this week

In design, entertainment, journalism on May 20, 2012 at 2:58 am

So much fun!

On Friday night — in the same ABC TV studio on West 67th. where “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” was once shot — I joined The New York Times trivia team in the 16-team competition for Trivia Bowl, created in 1994 by the Los Angeles chapter of the Asian-American Journalists Association.

My husband, who works at the Times, told me they were seeking competitors and I had qualified for Jeopardy (a popular American quiz show), back in 2006, so what the hell?

Our team of 10 included a copy editor, a former page designer, a reporter and me, a 20-year Times freelancer. I knew only one person on the team, who I’d met a decade earlier at a picnic and hadn’t seen since.

This was the first time the contest was held in New York, and teams came out from CNN, ABC, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Time and others. It was fun to see colleagues…as I reached for a spring roll in the food line-up, a man reached in front of me — the former national editor at the New York Daily News, now at ABC. I hadn’t seen him since 2006.

We’d worked together on a bunch of stories, including one that the Times’ kicked our ass on, but we kicked back. (A helicopter had fallen off a mountain in Afghanistan and the Army refused to give the News access to the military base in NY where many of the soldiers’ families were from. There are few American cities as competitive for news than New York! I once did a stake-out for 12 hours in 80 degree heat outside a midtown hotel and it was crazy. The Times guy even followed me into the elevator to see where I was going.)

So you can imagine the geek-fueled adrenaline in the room on Friday. Of course, no tools or aids were allowed.

I loved that our judges were, in their daily life, professional judges — six men and women who adjudicate cases in housing court and even the Supreme Court of New York. Cool!

We competed in five rounds: Entertainment; Geography/Science/Literature; Current Events/Sports; History/Elections;Presidents; New York.

Yes, the questions are both North America-centric and New York-centric. Good luck!

So, (working from memory!) here are some of the 80 questions. The ones I knew are marked with a C:

What was the original name of New York City? C

Name two musicals that won both a Tony and a Pulitzer prize

Name the two men who won Oscars in successive years

What do you call someone who studies dinosaurs? C

In which state is the town of Truth or Consequences? C

Which president was born in New York City?

Of the city’s five boroughs, which is the smallest in area?

What is the name of Kate Middleton’s dog?

What is the title of JK Rowling’s newest book?

Which Presidents are on Mt. Rushmore?

Which magazine sparked the Occupy Wall Street movement? C

On the 1970s television show All in The Family, which Queens neighborhood did they live in?

Which Asian designer created Michelle Obama’s dress for the inauguration ball? C

Two First Ladies have graced the cover of American Vogue. Michelle Obama was the second — who was the first? C

Which two countries lie directly below Saudi Arabia? C

Which is the third most-spoken language in Canada?

Who first recorded the song “New York, New York?”

Which hockey team has won the most Stanley Cups? C

What is the chemical symbol for salt? C

Who were the Three Musketeers? C

No Googling allowed!

Your answers….?

Risk Is Not A Four-Letter Word

In behavior, books, business, culture, design, domestic life, education, family, journalism, life, love, Media, men, women, work on June 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm
Trapeze artists Kia and Lindsay at Circus Smirkus

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking about risk a lot these days.

My new book, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” was born of risk. It began as a personal essay I wrote for The New York Times, published in February 2009. I was absolutely certain that publishing it would kill my writing career, as in it I said that working retail was better than working as a journalist.

Wasn’t I torching all my bridges?

In fact, I was on CNN two days later discussing it; then on the Brian Lehrer Show and, within months, had found an agent and sold a book based on my oddest risk of all — taking a low-wage job and being willing to talk about it for publication.

I had no clear idea why I worked retail, other than — like many others — I needed steady cash. There was no Grand Plan, just needing and valuing a new job where I might re-build my shattered confidence after my Daily News debacle.

The irony?

Taking these risks has now brought me, and my work and ideas, far more attention than anything smaller and safer and more conventional I’ve also produced. I’ve spoken at a Marie-Claire staff event, keynoted a major retail conference (with another skedded this summer) and, if the stars truly align, may see my name on the small screen.

I recently took a few more risks, some big, some small:

– I cut my hair really short, not the prudent choice given my current weight. I feel so great and so liberated I also now feel a lot more motivated to shed the damn weight, instead of dutifully waiting until I am thinner to reward myself with a pretty cut.

– I met up again for the first time in decades with a few former beaux, a high school crush and the man I’d lived with in my 20s, now divorced. I wasn’t at all sure how these meetings would go, but am really glad I went to both. I’m happily partnered, and it was good to catch up with two men who meant a lot to me in earlier days, who are still funny and attractive and with whom I share some serious history, growth and memories.

– I asked a stranger on LinkedIn for help making some connections for Malled and he made a great introduction. Now I have to find the cojones to ask for the business!

– I’ll be going on a silent Buddhist retreat July 23-31, a gift from my partner. I can’t decide what freaks me out most: not working (tough for a full-time freelancer); no liquor; not talking; being surrounded by people who fervently believe in ideas different from my own. It’s all good. But a little scary!

In this relentlessly awful economy, it’s very tempting to avoid just about any risk — whether confronting a toxic friend or love relationship (I could end up alone!), dealing with a bully boss (I could get fired!) or ditching an annoying client (I could starve!)

I think it’s at times like these it’s even more essential to choose a few risks and take them.

Courage is a muscle — use it or lose it.

I like this blog post from a businesswoman who urges us all to use a little “creative chutzpah.”

As Seth Godin writes here, taking a risk can be the smartest choice we make.

Here’s a great story from the New Yorker about a Hollywood therapist who urges his patients to eat a “death cookie” — take a risk!

When did you last take a risk?

How did it turn out?

Do you regret it?

Or did it jump-start your life in some unexpected and lovely way?

Star-Struck!

In behavior, books, business, entertainment, journalism, Media, men, television, urban life, work on June 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm
Anderson Cooper marching on January 11, 2007 i...

Yup, that's the one! Image via Wikipedia

So, I just came out of a television studio in Toronto about 90 minutes ago, after a 30-minute live show hosted by business journalist Howard Green, where I talked about Malled, my new book, with two retail industry experts.

Winding down, I came down the stairs and headed for the exit. A slim handsome white-haired man in a very nice navy blue suit stood in the way.

No. Couldn’t be…here, in Toronto? Why?

Anderson Cooper.

Shriek!

I was hopelessly star-struck and introduced myself and the publicist for Penguin (why did I not have copy of my book to hand him?!) and said “Keep up the good work.”

Sigh. Doofus.

(What a thrill!)

Which Big Names have you encountered face to face like that?

What did you say or do?

Fear Of Shopping

In behavior, business, Fashion, life, Money, women, work on April 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm
Vintage Clothes Shops Camden London

Vintage clothing shops in Camden. Fun, but not this time! Image by iknow-uk via Flickr

I did it.

I went out and spent a gobsmacking amount of money last weekend buying new clothes.

It was not quick, simple or fun — at several junctures, like an infant needing a nap, I found myself trying not to cry with total frustration. Everything was ugly: too tight, too expensive, too baggy, too bright…

The poor sales associate, Frances, fearing my imminent meltdown, found the department manager, a lovely, calm, reassuring man named Dallas. He offered the necessary sangfroid of my admired sartorial tutors — Clinton and Stacy on my favorite television show, What Not To Wear.

(If you’ve never watched, and need female fashion help, WNTW is your new best friend, the kind whose style and panache are matched with compassion and kindness for your freakouts over body issues. We all have them!)

Only with the help of three gently-encouraging people, including my sweetie who — being a photo editor and a man who’s been my partner for 11 years has both a great eye and knows my taste — could I even find enough clothes to feel that, yes, I now have assembled the start of a stylish and professional wardrobe.

Big deal, right? Isn’t this pretty basic stuff?

Maybe if…

You make a lot of money, so spending it doesn’t freak you out and make you fear a penniless old age in a cardboard box

You work in an office surrounded by other people whose clothing and style help you figure out what to wear so you’ll fit in

You wear clothing in a one-digit size

Your mom/sister/best friend/auntie/Granny/gay male friend with fab taste took you shopping and helped you develop a clear idea what’s flattering on you. Which, of course, must change as you age. But how?! (My poor Mom and stepmom fled in fear after a few teenaged trips with me in search of a winter coat and a prom dress. I finally found both but not, literally, without visiting dozens of shops. I haven’t shopped with anyone female and stylish since then.)

You’re blessed with total confidence about the shape and size of your body and which colors and shapes you’ll rock. (My late step-mother, 13 years my senior, had exquisite clothing and a teeny tiny body and made me feel like a heffalump. My mom, a former model living far away, saw me in March: “You’re fat!” she said. Accurate, perhaps, but not confidence building.)

You don’t live in a city where many women and/or their husbands are very high earners, work out daily and stride the streets with terrifying hauteur In New York, (as in some other punitively stylish spots), looking successful on a budget isn’t easy. And if you’re ambitious and don’t look the part, you’re toast.

I find buying clothes so overwhelming I avoid it and then — boom! — I really need to look great right now and what the hell am I going to wear?

In 2009, I appeared on CNN on two days’ notice, in 2010 on BBC within hours of getting an email from England and, quite likely, will be doing some television appearances when my new book is out in two weeks. Right now I have 12 public appearances scheduled, from a closing conference keynote in Minneapolis in August to a local library reading in two weeks.

So I need clothes that are: flattering, comfortable, stylish, age-appropriate, forgiving of the weight I haven’t lost yet and chic.

And semi-affordable.

And what do people expect an author to look like?

No pressure!

Luckily, I finally found some great things, including two Tahari dresses, a strong sea-blue cotton shift and another in black; a gray print sheath dress that works with my curves, and three pairs of trousers. That’s a ton for me to buy at once and everyone was worn out, hungry and cranky by the time we got out of the store.

But working alone at home, year after year on a tight budget, has meant I’ve slid by on a snoozy, safe, comfy diet of leggings and Ts , flats and cardigans. Time to up my game!

Do you enjoy shopping for clothes?

What are your favorite places to find great things?

10-Year-Old Boy Says Pledge Of Allegiance Unfair to Gays, Won't Stand For It

In education, news, parenting on November 18, 2009 at 11:16 am
Cnn.

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a CNN video clip of Will Phillips, a 10-year-old boy in Arkansas who thinks gays should be able to marry.

He’s a passionate and articulate guy who invoked his First Amendment rights to take the stand that he did  –(sheepishly admittedly suggesting, very politely, his teacher jump off a bridge for forcing him to conform.) He says he’s now the brunt of jokes at his school calling him a “gaywad.”

The Pledge of Allegiance, which every American schoolchild knows by heart, is something that gives those of us who grew up in other countries pause. Canadian schoolchildren don’t pledge allegiance to anyone or anything. They just start their school-day, whatever their feelings of patriotism.  We’re never asked to say them aloud, nor forced to do so by peer pressure and social custom. As an adult, you decide what you believe and vote (or withold your vote) accordingly. I’ve always wondered why young American children are compelled to do this.

Is Will Phillips crazy? Unpatriotic? Brave?

Ba-Boom! Free AK-47 with Truck Offered in Missouri

In business, politics on July 20, 2009 at 10:42 am
AK-47 Assault Rifle

Image by brian.ch via Flickr

Mark Muller is giving away a voucher for a $450 AK-47 to anyone who buys a truck from his car dealership in Butler, MO.

Muller even freaked out Robin Lustig, who’s been hosting BBC Newshour for 20 years, today, prompting a flood of “No, we’re not all like that” emails from horrified fellow Americans listening, as I was, from within the U.S.

“Americans love guns,”  Muller told Lustig. “All of them?” Lustig asked calmly. “Except for the Commies,” said Muller.

All terrific theater, except for those whose lives have been ripped apart by gun violence. Muller’s main argument, in a 4:56 minute (i.e. really long) CNN interview, was the need to defend your home against invasion by murderers. He lives on a 1,200-acre ranch in a part of the country now ravaged by meth dealers, a subject explored in a recent, raved-about book focusing on a small Iowa town.

Murderers will likely never burst through your door, so Muller just sounds like a paranoid freak to many people.

Except when it does happen, as it did in Beulah, FL last week to Melanie and Byrd Billings. Thus the enduring appeal, to one constituency whose faith in personal firearms deeply horrifies many others, of an AK-47 semi-automatic for home protection.

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