No longer a PRX virgin am I

click to visit my PRX page and hear my first piece

 It finally happened: I uploaded a piece of audio to my PRX account. It’s the first of many I hope to do about the occupy movement happening locally. I’m working on several short profiles at the moment, so check back! And I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that Corrie’s interview has been purchased and aired in Wisconsin and across the Northeast, thanks to WRST and WAMC. Woot!

Of course, being a noob at audio tracking, I welcome your feedback. Please add a comment below. I will dutifully take notes!

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Following an Intrepid Phoenix Reporter through Occupy Camps

Hmm…hoping to figure out soon why I can’t pick up embed code from my Storify account. Until then, the link:

View the story “On the Occupy Trail with Chris Faraone” on Storify

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Members of “Minority Majority” Gather to Discuss the State of Black Boston

Hundreds attend a town hall meeting focused on a new report from the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the NAACP Boston and the Trotter Institute at U-Mass Boston.

As a precursor to this week’s 2011 National Urban League conference, many gathered a day early for a town hall meeting prompted by a new report, The State of Black Boston.  

During breakout sessions devoted to sections of the report, panelists drilled down on topics such as the currently bleak outlook for Boston’s Black press, housing and economic development and civic disenfranchisement among the city’s minority majority. One panel was devoted to the exploration of Boston’s modern cultural scene, “since Boston is evolving demographically, and leaving behind, however slowly, the perception that it is a white-bread place wary of outsiders.”

Dr. James Jennings, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning at Tufts University, authored the report. It is based upon census and business data used to create a demographic profile of a city.The Urban League describes it as ” .. a tool to assess, measure, and understand the nature of racial inequality among Bostonians.”

“@titojackson: At the Hynes convention ctr with @MassGovernor and over 1000 others for the State of Black Boston. #mapoli #bospoli”
tonytjohnson
July 25, 2011
Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick kicked off the day with a morning address.
The following are comments are made by attendees at today’s pre-conference meetings.
Patrick on being 1st black MA governor: “Being the first doesn’t mean anything if there isn’t a second.” @massgovernor #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
Patrick says he was still in school in 1976 when Urban League conference last came to Boston #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
There is much discussion about Boston’s racist reputation (school busing and Charles Stuart) at #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
There are some concerns by some attendees that there aren’t many young adults here today. Who are the future leaders? #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
Lol…I love hearing grown black men say fashionista and quote lady gaga. #2011SOBB
KamilahKennedy
July 25, 2011
Dr. Ogletree says we do not talk enough about mental health in the black community #2011SOBB #NUL11
YPNULEM
July 25, 2011
#2011sobb executive summary is being discussed. Health care has improved for black residents #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011

Investigative reporter Soledad O’Brien gave the keynote luncheon address. O’Brien is known for hosting CNN’s In America series and is an acclaimed writer, covering topics from gay couples adopting children to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

@soledad_obrien is speaking about her “In America” series. “My goal is to move the needle in discussing diversity” #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
Obrien says she is “disappointed” about the lack of racial diversity on prime time cable. #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
RT @YPNULEM: “How are we attacking age old disparities in the high tech industry within the black community?” @Soledad_Obrien #2011SOBB #NUL11
Sifublack
July 25, 2011
Inspired by the words and life of Soledad O’Brien at the State of Black Boston at Hynes Convention Center. Her focus was on solving social issues in our community by economic empowerment and justice.
Tito Jackson
July 25, 2011
RT @YPNULEM: “I want to talk about Diversity in the Nation and where we are headed” @Soledad_Obrien #2011SOBB #NUL11
MissNance_NLP
July 25, 2011
Wrap up: Most #2011sobb discussion was on economic justice, entrepreneurship and why blacks need to take back their wealth #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
@Soledad_OBrien said “when people want something more, they will win”. Yes!!! #2011sobb
monicacost
July 25, 2011

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Once there were 30-min recipes for dinner; here’s one for social media

Amy Sample Ward, Membership Director of NTen and a co-author of Social by Social, kicked off a 4-part discussion of social media practice at this year’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC), with some advice for goal setting.

Identify the groups within your demographic, she said, and then ask “What do they want?” and “What do YOU want?”

Seems simple enough, but it does involve discovering where in the net universe your groups are hanging out. Add to that the burden of learning how to drive new online tools and figuring out useful analytics. Who has the time?

Amy claims you CAN carve 30 minutes out of a busy workday to engage with others. She says social media tools are just that–tools. They should exist along side other forms of communication you’ve become familiar with, like your email. Her recipe for doing social media daily without scrapping your to-do list: listen first, then engage.

Information overload is a fact of life today, and the tools we use to manage the flow are numerous. You’ll have to experiment to find what works for you, but here’s a short list of listening tools to get started. Most webpages have an RSS feed, and blogging sites are searchable. Set up alerts and readers to collect relevant data with services like Netvibes, People Browsr, Nutshell Mail, Radian6, Ice Rocket, Sysomos or Lithium. You can take a look at Amy’s RSS reader on her blog, to get a sense of how it works.

Some other great advice for making social media work for you: pay close attention to analytics you track to see when to change strategy, and be sure to include trends and insights you notice in your internal reports. Add external reporting to your to-do list as well. The people you engage with can also be encouraged by what’s working for you and learn from what isn’t. Once you start interacting with your real audience with the right tools, and at this level, you’ll find that they are as invested in your success as you are.

One last piece of advice: take it easy on the ROI worry. Providing good context for trends in your regular reports will help ease your anxiety and remind  your superiors of what they are really investing in. Share the qualitative side of the numbers by adding anecdotes and identifying your social media influencers, highlighting the ways they share news about you. Remember your people, program and mission and take the time to cultivate real social media relationships, even if only on your lunchbreak!

More resources and references to useful net tools are on Amy’s blog, AmySampleWard.org.

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Forget hyper-local. Think hyper-accessible.

The realization of why I think community news is important struck me full force as I watched a Youtube video on the 30th anniversary of the first HIV case in the US. I wiped tears from my eyes as the speaker ended his private session in the HIV Story Project booth, gazed at the camera and said, “Thank you for the opportunity to share this.” What occurred to me is obvious–that what matters in local news coverage isn’t the presence of billions of little news sites running school board minutes and local jeweler ads. Community news needs to build community and put to work the growing number of online / social media tools out there to to help people tell each other stories that challenge our assumptions, call each other to action or inform our understanding of how other people live.

In the introduction of Rosensteil & Kovach’s Elements of Journalism, I was surprised to learn that the pre-curser to newspapers was a news ledger, placed at the end of the bar in a public house. Travelers would take the time to add an entry and read what others had posted. Ingenious. That’s technology at work: it’s understood, utilized, accessible and durable. Those books became the journal of record for a community. There were implied guidelines too, such as context and limited space. I’ve never seen one, but I can imagine there were probably hacks or vandals who added noise to the journal, but the technology still proved to be useful. What the video booth and the ledgers have in common is that they are simply the vehicle for one person to get a story to another.

Perhaps as we rethink news models, the focus shouldn’t be so much on geographical, but on creating the kinds of community spaces that will bring people of similar interests together and draw out meaningful stories or inspire meaningful action.

Barb Palser says in the  “Hazards of Hyperlocal” in the American Journalism Review:

Other news organizations have launched and abandoned hyperlocal efforts over the years, some big like the Washington Post, others small and unknown. The managers of these projects tend to leave a common admonition to those who would follow: Hyperlocal is difficult, expensive and not for the faint of heart.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, only 20 percent of American adults reported using digital tools to communicate with their neighbors or stay informed about community issues at least once in the past year. Only one in 10 reported reading a community blog at least once in the past year.

Maybe there’s a larger appetite for neighborhood news than the data suggest. But for people who are accustomed to centering their social interactions and news consumption on their personal interests, the write-ups of town council meetings, local theater events and public works projects typically found on a hyperlocal site might not seem any more relevant than the offerings of a traditional news site.

Yet people are sharing news articles with each other on Twitter and Facebook. They are developing online communication skills, finding communities that appeal to them and exchanging information. News organizations must figure out how to be flexible and foster these new ecosystems while exerting journalistic values on the contributions made by members who claim a stake in the community spaces we create.

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My guest post for the PBS show American Experience

Help Tell the Ongoing Story of the Gay Rights Movement

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How to Grow NPR: Longer Roots

From the two decades I spent living in the Bronx, I know it to be true what Karen Everhart says in her article, “Study sees growth if NPR loosens up, sounds less elite” in Current.org:

The researchers found that barriers to entry for public radio listenership are rooted in what they called “accessibility”— listeners’ perceptions of the NPR brand, their ability to relate to the content…

I became an NPR listener at the young age of 23. I was just settling in to the Bronx from Seattle, and I had little in common with WNYC’s morning news host, Steve Post. Yet one early morning in July of 1992, at home with my 18 month old and surrounded by freshly opened moving boxes, I flipped on the radio to hear, “It’s already 85 degrees in disgusting New York City.” This struck a chord in me as I struggled to acclimate to my new home. I let out a laugh, glad to know someone in New York didn’t take things so seriously, and I became a public radio fan.

I had no clue then, as a young mom lost in a concrete jungle, that I would someday sit in a producer seat in a public radio station. In fact, at first a lot about public radio annoyed me. I never listened to pledge drives. I became angry and embarrassed once when a DJ on my local college/NPR station, WFUV, called their early folk/singer-songwriter music programming (which would later become their bread and butter) the “indigenous music of white people.” I didn’t have the patience to focus on mid-day news shows, as I was often interrupted by toddler demands for apple juice and attention. But I never missed Steve’s  morning satire, which went perfectly with my coffee.

My kids were a little older when Starbucks, another business that had to deal with perceptions of elitism, came to New York. It was a breath of espresso-infused air for my husband and I, who had grown accustomed to good coffee in Seattle. No, really. That’s not a cliche. Quickly the green siren signs popped up everywhere in Manhattan, and finally, one appeared on Fordham Road in the Bronx. What a treat. Now we could enjoy good coffee near home. But that shop didn’t last long on Fordham Road, despite the morning Manhattan-bound traffic and the youth Bible study that took over one corner. The reality of economics–the Bustelo drinkers were not gonna drop $3.50 on a cup of coffee–won out and another affordable fashion store filled the gap.

Quoted in a presentation on the study is a young adult Latino user of new media: “NPR, I feel, is mostly for educated adults from middle class and up. That is my impression.”

Pay attention here, all of you NPR peeps who so badly want diversity among your audience. This Latino young adult, if he’s like any I know, wouldn’t have had a problem slipping in the adjective “white” if that’s what was really going through his head. Rather, he chose “educated” and “middle class”.  If I were to interpret this comment, based upon my experience living in the Bronx for almost two decades, what I think he’s saying is: “Why should we pay attention to what you think is news or culture when we don’t have access to your schools, your housing, your jobs or your government?  We don’t matter when it comes to affecting change.”

I had a chance once to talk to a group of young adults who represented many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I wasn’t giving a lecture. I was sitting among them as a fellow student, a returning adult student, defending my comment that they should vote. Not one of them believed they had any political influence, yet when I told them a story of state and local government officials choosing our district as a site for the creation of a water filtering plant, in part because it was an area of such poor voter turnout, I got their attention. For the first time, they realized that their action and their inaction would affect them directly.

I’ve watched people who don’t believe they have a voice–my neighbors and friends–create their own spheres of influence in order to cope with the belief that they are powerless. Where there was little education or opportunity to be creative, time and money were devoted to creating status, through pure white sneakers, immaculate Timberlands, pagers, cellphones, 2″nails, knock-off handbags, bandannas, guns. Not coffee. Not a subscription to the New York Times. For God’s sake, not a public radio tote bag.

The study — shaped in part by Station Resource Group’s Grow the Audience project — sought to define the best prospects for expanding public radio’s news audiences.

Ok, it’s understandable that the study would frame the task at hand this way, given the economic climate we’re in, but what if we flipped it? Instead of figuring out how to make a public radio listenership larger and more colorful, what if we sought growth by expanding our news coverage? What if more producers of public media began by believing people like my neighbors in the Bronx are the public and we already work for them? What if we actually visualized them mailing in their tax checks, or paying that sales tax, and understood that they already support us? Would we then notice new ways in which our work could empower those who don’t believe they have a voice? Could we report to a larger public, earn their trust and then look for growth?

I agree with Margaret Low Smith, VP of NPRs programming, when she acknowledges, “it’s critical that people at the editorial table reflect a range of economic positions in life, a range of political views and a range of color.”  It’s why I keep trying to sit at that table. Yes, I’m white, but diversity comes in many, many flavors. I also appreciate her stating that, “Now NPR seeks to diversify its audience base not only as a means to expand listenership but to also fulfill its editorial responsibility to reflect all of America.” I understand Public Media’s mission to be giving the public the information they need to act and to make a difference in their lives. That requires the people involved in public media to not only employ more people of color and varying background, but to cultivate sources and invest in relationships with people outside the well educated and affluent sphere of influence.

My suggestion for NPRs action plan: throw your resources farther afield. Renew reporting beats in neighborhoods with low donor ratings. Help broadcast the unique coverage of independent producers. Look beyond the wall that separates many artists from the inner circle. Don’t forget Public Media owes something to the Strugglers as much as it does the Dutiful Aggregators and Voracious Voyagers.

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Filed under journalism, more about me, my preferences, race