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Posts Tagged ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’

The writer’s week: two conferences, new headshot, juggling five stories at once

In behavior, blogging, books, business, entertainment, journalism, life, Media, work on April 28, 2013 at 12:10 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Time Selector

Time Selector. Never enough!!! (Photo credit: Telstar Logistics)

This was the week I thought my head — like the watermelon in The Day of The Jackal — would simply explode.

Too many people needed too many things from me, all done without delay and without error, handled with grace and aplomb, all at once.

Last Saturday, Jose and I attended a fantastic day-long conference in Manhattan, oddly enough in the same building he works in daily, at the New York Times’ Center, a bright, airy auditorium that faces an inner courtyard filled with tall birch trees. It was a social media summit, and included speakers from BBC, the Times, ad agencies and even reporters from Russia and Iran.

I found the whole day fascinating — rare for any conference.

It was also the perfect time to chew over the ethics and issues of crowd-sourced reporting after the bombing in Boston. A young student, Sunil Trapathi, had been mistakenly identified on social media as a possible culprit — his body was found in the Providence, RI Harbor last week.

The conference audience was a mix of students, working journalists from such legacy media outlets as The Atlantic and the popular NPR radio show Fresh Air, think-tank types and social media experts. There was much hand-wringing about how to do better reporting faster and better. Is social media helping or hurting?

Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian with the Reddit ...

Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian with the Reddit Alien (Photo credit: Anirudh Koul)

Here’s an analysis of why this went so terribly wrong so quickly, from the atlantic.com:

the names that went out over first social networks and then news blogs and websites were not Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation released early this morning. Instead, two other people wholly unconnected to the case, became, for a while, two of America’s most notorious alleged criminals.

This is the story, as best as I can puzzle it out, about how such bad information about this case became widely shared and accepted within the space of a couple of hours before NBC’s Pete Williams’ sources began telling the real story about the alleged bombers’ identities.

The story begins with speculation on Twitter and Reddit that a missing Brown student, Sunil Tripathi, was one of the bombers. One person who went to high school with him thought she recognized him in the surveillance photographs. People compared photos they could findof him to the surveillance photos released by the FBI. It was a leading theory on the subreddit devoted to investigating the bombing that Tripathi was one of the terrorists responsible for the crime.

I spent all week fine-tuning this story in today’s New York Times’ business section, the fifth published there in a year, my best run anywhere, ever. It’s a story I proposed many months ago, reported in the frigid depths of February in Montreal, followed up with many phone and email interviews along the way.

English: The New York Times building in New Yo...

English: The New York Times building in New York, NY across from the Port Authority. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a profile of Ubisoft, the fourth-largest video game maker in the world, with 7,540 employees worldwide and 2,500 in their Montreal studio — 82 percent of them male.

I had never played a video game when I pitched the story, really more interested in a French company operating in 26 countries and how they manage creativity.

Tuesday, my editor at Ladies Home Journal rejected six of the 12 (!) sources I’d found for my story. I had no time to handle this, and she’s quitting next week. I threw it to my poor overloaded assistant, with an email whose subject line started with the sincere word URGENT.

Wednesday evening at 6:30, an editor I’d pitched a day earlier said yes to a story — as long as it was delivered by Monday. Sure, no problem.

Jose, my husband who is a photo editor there, met me at the Times and took this new headshot. (Thanks, honey!)

caiti blog image 2

I went down to Bizday and said hello to the people I’ve worked with there.

Thursday was an entire day at the ASJA annual conference, listening to a wide array of editors, (hoping to find new markets), and catching up with friends from all over the country, many with new books to promote and one waiting to hear if he’s won a big fellowship, with only 12 awards to be made among 36 applicants.

The young man sitting at the next table during one session was a winner of the fellowship for which, last December, I was one of 14 finalists (of 278 applicants.) Gah.

Friday morning was an almost impossible juggling act of incoming and out-going emails and phone interviews, (with a lobbyist in D.C., then a Kentucky senator, then an interior designer), while the Times’ copy desk and my editor pelted me with last-minute questions, (necessitating more fact-checking calls and emails to sources in Montreal and Los Angeles.)

In an oddly fortunate coincidence, two of my current assignments focus on aging, so I learned a lot, some of it immensely helpful for my own future, and my readers. In conversation with the Kentucky senator, I learned of a possibly really interesting feature story, which is often where I get my ideas.

I emailed Stacy Zoern, about whom I wrote for the Times last week, and asked if I can come out to Austin, Texas to do a much longer and more detailed story about her. She said yes.

Now I just need to find another editor with a travel budget and some serious money to spend!

Petraeus and Broadwell — and the moral is?

In beauty, behavior, domestic life, family, life, love, news, the military, US, women on November 11, 2012 at 1:54 am
Portrait photo

Portrait photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here we go again.

A high-ranking alpha male, CIA director David Petraeus — considered “the most respected and decorated soldier of his generation”, according to the front page of the Financial Times — has resigned after having an affair. Not just any affair, but one with a jock/soldier/Harvard grad/author/hottie with whom he was doing six-minute runs in Afghanistan.

His wife of 37 years? Toast.

Take it from someone whose arguably semi-alpha husband was poached: a clarinet-playing, tall, handsome, funny MD who now earns in a month what I make in a (lousy) year.

Like Petraeus, he was gone a lot, working long days and many “on call” overnight shifts at the hospital, long before cellphones, emails or texts could have given me a way to reach out easily. And medical culture, like military, can be damn hard to penetrate, highly protective of its members. When they say people “close ranks”, they mean it.

Petraeus was hotly pursued by Paula Broadwell, a fine-looking high-achieving woman with plenty of determinationdespite her own marriage and two children.

Let’s be clear. I’m not defending infidelity. Petraeus was a fool to throw away a stellar career.

His marriage? Who knows?

That’s the dirty secret of the adulterer.

For every shocked, stunned wife (or husband), there is one more honest with herself, who knew things were crappy in their marriage — or knows they chose to marry and have kids with and stay with someone with a weak ego, a man/woman who needs to cat around to feel strong and sexy and desirable.

And a husband physically distant from his wife for long periods of time, a man spending a lot of private time with  a woman whose behaviors push all the right buttons, let alone a wife who’s given up on her skills and/or appearance?

Sound the sirens!

The woman my ex-husband is now married to was clearly going to become his second wife. I met her twice, spoke to her once, and felt it. Many of the issues — a la Petraeus/Broadwell — were similar:

 — They worked together

 — She saw him every single day, well-dressed and well-spoken and high-earning and authoritative, all catnip

– She flattered him deeply

– She was intensely competitive

 –They spent a lot of time together away from work; she was a single mother

And, in my case

 — She makes three times my income

– She’s highly educated and flatters his intellectual ego

I was financially dependent on him, which left me essentially powerless to act decisively

My ex made clear to me from the start of our seven-year relationship he wanted to marry a high earner. Not only was I a journalist — a field in which $100K is a lot, (peanuts in medicine) — but I also had to re-boot my career when I left Canada and moved to the U.S., just in time for the 1990 recession, severely curtailing my earning power.

His second wife, with whom he had two more children, is fat, not pretty and dresses, apparently, in the dark. I saw her in my retail job three years ago and she still looked like hell. So it’s not all about looks.

Every marriage has its frayed, weakened bits. Every marriage hits rough spots, some of which last months, or longer.

Which is why, in my second marriage, (13 years together now), Jose and I are very aware that marriage is not forever, that people can and will lose interest, carry toxic secrets or private resentments and stray. Addressing the issues, whatever they are, can be messy and painful — and may well lead to divorce court if both people admit these are utterly un-resolvable.

I spent a lot of years examining which of my own behaviors had allowed my marriage to end so quickly. One of them was simply having married the wrong man, which I knew at the time. I also painfully examined what I might do if I re-married, and I do treat my second husband very differently. An affair, or divorce, is a miserable, frightening wake-up call.

A woman who loses her man to a poacher — and they are poached, as surely as a hunter sights his prey — needs to do a little self-examination as well. Who did she marry? What’s not working between them? Or in the rest of his life?

It’s too easy to call him names and cut his clothes into shreds and call a divorce lawyer.

No matter what happens after an affair comes to light, the cuckold has ask what their role in it was as well.

What say you?

The 10 Best Journalism Movies Ever Made

In entertainment, Media on April 17, 2010 at 9:13 am
Film poster for The Year of Living Dangerously...

Image via Wikipedia

Nostalgia smackdown!

This month one of Manhattan’s best indie cinemas, Film Forum, is running a 43-film series of movies about newspapering. Here are my picks:

1) “Deadline U.S.A“, starring Humphrey Bogart as Ed Hutcheson, an editor who has to tell his newsroom staff they’ve got two weeks before they’re all canned, Sound familiar?  This was in 1952. The owner, (Kay Graham? Alicia Patterson?)  is an elegant older woman who inherited the paper from her husband. The paper’s star female reporter sounds like plenty of career journo’s I’ve met: “I’ve got $81 in the bank, two dead husbands and two or three kids I never had.”

2) Absence of Malice, 1981, starring Paul Newman and Sally Field. From Wikipedia:

“tells the story of Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman), the son of a deceased Mafia boss who discovers that he has become a front-page story in the local Miami newspaper, indicating that he is being investigated for a murder of a local longshoreman Union official he may or may not have been involved in. Sally Field as Megan is the reporter who writes the story after being prodded by a former lover who is working on the investigation for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The worlds of Gallagher and Megan start to come closer and closer, and although she is a modern woman and as he says, he is “from the stone age”, her the ethics of journalism are tested, including how close a reporter should get to his or her source.”

3) The Paper, 1994. Starring Michael Keaton as a NYC tabloid paper editor Henry Hackett and Marisa Tomei as his weary wife. I love this movie. Sue me. I get a hoot out of crazy Glenn Close fist-fighting as the presses roll, I love Keaton’s absurd passion for his work, the tabloid nuttiness that’s totally true to form. Having survived my time at the Daily News, I know some of this stuff isn’t very far from fiction.

4) All The President’s Men. 1976. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who reported the Watergate scandal and brought down a President. One of the few movies that makes journalism look like something worth doing.

5) The Year of Living Dangerously. Hopelessly romantic, this 1982 film made me yearn endlessly to become a foreign correspondent. From Wikipedia:

The story is about a love affair set in Indonesia during the overthrow of President Sukarno. It follows a group of foreign correspondents in Jakarta on the eve of an attempted coup by the so-called 30 September Movement on 30 September 1965 and during the beginning of the violent reprisals by military-led vigilante groups who killed hundreds of thousands.

The film stars Mel Gibson as Guy Hamilton, an Australian journalist, and Sigourney Weaver as Jill Bryant, a British Embassy officer. It also stars Linda Hunt as the male dwarf Billy Kwan, Gibson’s local photographer contact, a role for which Hunt won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[1] The film was shot in both Australia and the Philippines and includes Australian actors Bill Kerr as Colonel Henderson and Noel Ferrier as Wally O’Sullivan.

It was banned from being shown in Indonesia until 1999.[2] The title The Year of Living Dangerously is a quote which refers to a famous Italian phrase used by Sukarno; vivere pericoloso, meaning “living dangerously”

The soundtrack, of Indonesian gamelan, is also beautiful and haunting.

6) The China Syndrome, 1979, starring Jane Fonda as a new, eager, totally dismissed television news reporter who discovers a leak at a local nuclear power reactor, as described to her by an employee there, played by Jack Lemmon. What life was like, (and still is) for some female reporters trying to get their producers’ attention for a serious story.

7) The Killing Fields, 1984. The true story of the relationship between an American reporter, Sydney Schanberg and his Cambodian fixer and interpreter, Dith Pran, who later came to work for The New York Times as a photographer.

From Dith’s Times‘ 2008 obituary:

The film, directed by Roland Joffé, showed Mr. Schanberg, played by Sam Waterston, arranging for Mr. Dith’s wife and children to be evacuated from Phnom Penh as danger mounted. Mr. Dith, portrayed by Dr. Haing S. Ngor (who won an Academy Award as best supporting actor), insisted on staying in Cambodia with Mr. Schanberg to keep reporting the news. He believed that his country could be saved only if other countries grasped the gathering tragedy and responded…

Mr. Schanberg returned to the United States and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Cambodia. He accepted it on behalf of Mr. Dith as well.

For years there was no news of Mr. Dith, except for a false rumor that he had been fed to alligators. His brother had been. After more than four years of beatings, backbreaking labor and a diet of a tablespoon of rice a day, Mr. Dith escaped over the Thai border on Oct. 3, 1979. An overjoyed Mr. Schanberg flew to greet him.

“To all of us who have worked as foreign reporters in frightening places,” Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said on Sunday, “Pran reminds us of a special category of journalistic heroism — the local partner, the stringer, the interpreter, the driver, the fixer, who knows the ropes, who makes your work possible, who often becomes your friend, who may save your life, who shares little of the glory, and who risks so much more than you do.”

Mr. Dith moved to New York and in 1980 became a photographer for The Times, where he was noted for his imaginative pictures of city scenes and news events

8) Almost Famous. Fun! Any eager young journo, let alone one who’s spent any time around the bizarreness of the music industry, will enjoy this 2000 film. Based on a true story of a young and ambitious music writer. The best scene? How Cameron Crowe “negotiates” his Rolling Stone story fee higher through stunned silence.

9) Capote. I loved this 2005 film. Dark, scary, filled with mutual manipulation of murderous sources and the ambitious writer of “In Cold Blood”, Truman Capote. Such dealings happen, it rarely gets talked about, rarely gets acknowledged and needs to. The images, music and Capote’s ruthless behavior haunt me still. Stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener.

10) Missing,1982. A powerful and searing film about an American journalist missing in Chile. Starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. I found this film almost unbearably painful to watch because, as an undergraduate college student in Toronto, I worked as a volunteer translator for Chilean refugees of torture who came to Canada for political refuge. I learned from them how many of the film’s gruesome details were real.

From Wikipedia:

It is based on the true story of American journalist Charles Horman, who disappeared in the bloody aftermath of the US-backed Chilean coup of 1973 that deposed Leftist President Salvador Allende.

The film was banned in Chile during Pinochet‘s regime, even though the nation is not mentioned by name in the film (although the Chilean cities of Viña del Mar and Santiago are).[1] Both the film and Thomas Hauser’s book The Execution of Charles Horman were removed from the market, following a lawsuit filed against Costa-Gavras and Universal’s parent company MCA by former Ambassador Nathaniel Davis, and two others. A lawsuit against Hauser himself was dismissed because the statute of limitations had passed. Davis and his compatriots lost the lawsuit. After the lawsuit, the film was again released by Universal in 2006.[citation needed]

Here are some others’ opinions on the best J-films ever…and here…and a British journo’s tight list of only five.

Will there be some legendary, can’t-miss future classic film made about….blogging? The thrumming and humming of all those…WordPresses firing up?

I think not.

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