Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

The New Face of American Poverty

A new documentary to be released next month highlights our nation’s poverty. Hear from a Chicago woman about how World Vision helped her family overcome a culture of violence and hopelessness.

(Sheila Howard – photo Midgett Productions)

When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney portrayed Democratic President Barack Obama’s supporters – as 47 percent of the electorate – who live off government handouts and do not “care for their lives, ” Chicago’s Sheila Howard took it personally.

“Poor people I know don’t feel entitled”, says 54-year old Sheila Howard from Chicago’s West Side. Howard says, “People forget that there but for the grace of God go I.”

Howard is one of those featured in the new Linda Midgett documentary, “The Line” about the “new face” of American poverty. http://thelinemovie.com/ The film premiers in Washington, D.C. October 2nd.

Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis says, “more and more of our friends are in poverty — in the pews, in our workplaces — through no fault of their own, and they are slipping below the poverty level.”

The film features a single father from suburban Chicago laid off from his bank and now a regular at the local food pantry, trying to make ends meet with three kids. Sheila Howard is in the documentary because she lives on Chicago’s tough West Side where deep poverty creates a culture of violence and hopelessness. Howard works with international Christian charity World Vision as a community Development Specialist.

Howard ‘s son, JaVe’e was also in the documentary because of his involvement as a delegate in World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP). In 2011, JaVe’e, his sister, Veesha and Sheila joined more than 130 others across the nation as they traveled to Washington, D.C. , advocating for federal youth violence prevention funding.

Sheila talked about her experience with Linda Midgett and the documentary filming. “It was my journey living below the poverty line.  I took them back to my old neighborhood to the house I grew up, and showed them where my sister was killed in 1974. ” Howard believes it was a robbery attempt though she says police have never confirmed that.

“The point of the movie is that many people are living below the poverty line through no fault of their own.  We are not all lazy, feeling entitled … wanting to live off the government, Things just happened beyond our control that caused us to fall below the line.,” says Howard.

Howard says the film gave her an opportunity to talk about her nonprofit, “Born To Be Light” www.born2blight.com. and how she was inspired by (YEP).  Howard says, “It’s working. People are understanding the significance of being a light in their home and community. Words not only carry empowering energy, they carry hope for a better tomorrow.”

Howard is going back to school to get her undergraduate degree in communications from Chicago State University.

  • A 2011 YouTube video features Howard  and her son JaVe’e, discussing how World Vision’s YEP changed their lives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y_3dN0nVR

  • Linda Midgett 2005 Daytime Emmy award-winner (Nominated 2006, 2007)

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1195584/

 

Worldwide Webcast: Approaching the StoryWebcast event to be held Thursday, September 20 from 1-2 p.m. PDT.Link to: http://n50.onetotheworld.net/health12Prepare yourself for a unique journey into the art of storytelling. World Vision presents a one hour worldwide webcast taking you behind-the-scenes of a magazine assignment in drought-stricken northern Kenya.

Join journalist Kari Costanza and photographer Jon Warren, who between them, have worked in over 70 countries. They’ll discuss how to put yourself in the right place at the right time to capture the narrative and images of a compelling story that honors the people who are its subjects. What makes a good photograph? How do you get someone to open up about themselves? The program will be live and interactive. Questions welcome 

Lazaro

What’s the health of a six-year-old child worth? How much would I be willing to pay?

Recently, I got a chance to meet 6 year-old Lazaro, who lives with his five brothers and sisters on a hilltop on the edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley in Central Kenya. I don’t know much about him other than that he herds goats for his family, that he likes games with a ball and that he is very, very, very shy.

But behind his shyness is a wisdom and a sadness I saw in his eyes that belies his age. What has he seen in those six years? How many nights did he go to bed without enough to eat? According to the latest UN statistics, more than 850 million people go to bed hungry each night. Has Lazaro been one of them? I’m eager to know more about him but what am I willing to give up to make sure he has access to the most basic of life’s needs: food security, basic nutrition, education and access to clean water?

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make a Difference

Is Lazaro’s life worth a tall latte?

As a “Re-Purposed Journalist” I came to rely on that mid-morning, double-tall, non-fat latte every day of the week. It gave me the kick I needed. My local Starbucks charges $3.24 (tax included) for 8 ounces of ground espresso and steamed milk. A tall latte is something most of us in Seattle take for granted. You buy one a day it’ll run you $842.40 a year. However, if you cut your habit down to just two a week, you’ll save more than enough to sponsor a child like Lazaro for one year.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I want my creature comforts as much as the next guy but when I think about how a little sacrifice makes a big difference. Well, that’s something I can swallow.

Lazaro lives on a hilltop. The view is breathtaking. 

The Great Rift Valley
Kenya

I live in Seattle where a view like this would cost you millions. But Lazaro and his family look at the Great Rift Valley from a thatched hut with mud floors. So maybe here is a good place to help, and maybe find out just how much one child’s life is worth.

Two tall lattes a week? Sure.

http://www.worldvision.org/

Kari Costanza
On Assignment – Kenya

Kari Costanza’s Tips for the Re-purposed Journalist

1. It’s not about you.

2. Don’t do it if you don’t truly like people

3. Be prepared for a joy and a pain that you could never imagine when you were studying to become a journalist in school.

After graduating from the University of Washington, Kari held a job as news producer at KIRO 7 TV and at several stations on the East Coast. As a producer, Costanza says, “I shaped and wrote much of the newscast. I worked with anchors, reporters, photographers and production staff to condense the news of the day into a 30 minute broadcast.”

Costanza met that daily deadline for ten years. Then one day she remembers a KIRO 7 TV colleague, Tony Ventrella walking by her newsroom desk and whispering, “You’re not happy. You need to make a change.”  The words haunted her because they rang true.

It was spring, 1995.

Then her mother cut out a news article in her hometown paper, the  Tacoma News Tribune about how a Christian non-profit called World Vision was moving from Southern California to Federal Way. In June she was hired.

She has never looked back.

In the first five years after joining the World Vision video department, Kari produced 300 videos. She became Managing Editor of World Vision Magazine in 2000. In 2010, World Vision International asked her to be Global Editor. Today, Kari Costanza is Editor of Special Projects and Content Curation. In 17 years with World Vision, Kari Costanza has been to 40 countries.

Kari Costanza 
in Turkana, Kenya

“The hardest part is when you care about people and they die, ” says Costanza. “We did this story in Rwanda in August. We’d heard that 10 people had died in a refugee camp.”  As always, Costanza wanted to personalize the story. At a hospital near the camp, she met a woman named Solange who had lost a daughter since moving to the camp from the Congo. She and NPPA Photographer of the Year Lisa Berglund produced a video of Solange and her baby, Esther when they came back from Africa. “But then, after we left Rwanda, we found out that Esther died. We mourned. I just went into my cubicle and cried,” says Costanza.

“That doesn’t happen in TV news.”

On Thursday, September 20th, at 1pm (Pacific) Kari will join World Vision award-winning photographer Jon Warren for a presentation at Seattle Center as part of the Center’s “The Next Fifty” Celebration called “Approaching The Story.”

Links:

For the Solange story:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iciR3jGCiaA

For the One to the World Digital Classroom: http://n50.onetotheworld.net/health12#

This is what a humanitarian looks like.

Lopez Lomong (right) Rob Rogers (left)

 

This Saturday, December 1st,  former Lost Boy and U.S. Olympian Lopez Lomong will be awarded the Visa Humanitarian of the Year Award in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The last time I saw Lopez was a few weeks ago in Auburn, Washington when he spoke to more than a thousand in attendance at World Vision’s Day of Prayer. Lopez was recounting all that had happened this year. I remember one night in particular, the night before the biggest race of his life. And he was smiling.

The race was the men’s 5,000 meters on Saturday at the Summer Games in London. He was surrounded by some of the most important people in the world to him, his girlfriend, Brittany Morreale and his mother and father, Barbara and Rob Rogers from Upstate New York. Barbara kept quietly repeating, “I’m so proud of him.”

In 2001, she and Rob brought Lopez over to America from a refugee camp in Kenya. At the age of six, Lopez was abducted by Sudanese rebels and taken to a holding facility where he was prepped as a child soldier. It was determined he was too small. Chances were that he would have been left to starve to death but three fellow captives, his “angels” as he describes them, helped him escape. After three days and nights Lopez was captured by Kenyan soldiers taken to that refugee camp where he lived for ten years, until the Rogers adopted him.

Soon they discovered he was the fastest kid in school, then the state and one of the fastest in the nation. He qualified for the US track and field team in 2008 and was the flag bearer for the Beijing Summer Games. Four years later, Lopez Lomong is at his second Olympics. Rob Rogers says in 2008, “It was like a dream.” But this time his dad says, “he’s here to win a gold medal.”

Michael Chitwood (Team World Vision) on left

That’s what his family and Team World Vision friends including Josh Cox prayed for.

Josh Cox (left) Michael Chitwood Team World Vision (right)

Cox is a long-distance runner, the American record-holder in the 50K and a four time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. Team World Vision is a fundraising program of international Christian charity World Vision that equips individuals to raise money for World Vision projects. Lomong’s 4South Sudan is a World Vision partner committed to finding clean water, health care, education and nutrition for kids back home in South Sudan.

http://lopezlomong.com/foundation/

me (on left) with Lopez

I was in London with Cox, Team World Vision National Director Michael Chitwood and Team World Vision’s Steve Spear. We were all there to cheer Lopez on. The next night he ended up finishing tenth in the race after leading as he headed into the last lap. A disappointing finish but not a demoralizing one. “I’ll be back,” he told me after the race. “I learned a lot this time around. I’ll be back.”

I thought about that response when I heard that Lomong had been honored as Visa’s 2012 Humanitarian of the Year. And I thought about the commitment Lomong has made to helping children back home and here in the States through his work with Team World Vision.

Something tells me he will be back. But then – something tells me he’s never left.

Thursday, December 6th, Lomong will travel to the Bay Area where he’ll run with at-risk youth in Oakland. That weekend, he’ll run in a half-marathon in Walnut Creek, California for Team World Vision.

Lomong’s new book is called “Running For My Life” (Thomas Nelson Publishing)

A Beautiful and Amazing Child

Marah Williams – Ethiopia – March, 2012

Her mother says 19 year-old Marah Williams took care of others in many ways unknown to most of us until her death on June 12, 2012. Marah’s mom is Penny LeGate, a former Seattle TV (KIRO 7) anchorwoman and (KING 5) Evening Magazine co-host. Penny says, “Marah was an extremely intuitive, loving person who shouldered everyone else’s burdens.” LeGate says, “They became part of Marah’s internal fabric, leaving her little energy for her own troubles.”

A few weeks after this March, 2012 photo was taken in Ethiopia, Penny lost her daughter who had battled chemical dependency and depression for years. Marah had accompanied her mom on a trip exploring Ethiopia’s remote Omo Valley. LeGate says, “It’s home to many colorful, indigenous tribes that are rapidly disappearing due to development. Marah’s striking blonde hair, tattoos, and gentle heart guaranteed a cloud of villagers gathered around her, especially the children.”  Mom and daughter had traveled together to other countries such as Vietnam and Nicaragua in years past.  Ethiopia would be the last trip the two would make together.

Penny says one of Marah’s lifelines was Northgate Middle College, an alternative high school which is part of the Seattle Public School system’s safety net program. LeGate says, “These struggling teens who don’t fit into a typical high school environment get individual guidance there so they can get the credits necessary to finish high school.”

Marah (left) her mom (right)

Marah Williams – Ethiopia – March, 2012

In order to support other teens like Marah, Penny, Marah’s father Mike Williams, and sister Molly, want to direct memorial funds into a special account called The Marah Project. It’ll award paid internships to youth selected from the Middle College Program in Seattle. The fund will be managed by Teens in Public Service, an organization with a proven track record of 15 years.  Teens in Public Service provides paid internships to youth in community service jobs.  LeGate says, “The Marah Project will give underserved teens a life-changing opportunity to succeed and also provide support as these often forgotten kids work to achieve their life goals.”

It will also be the way one mom keeps her daughter’s legacy alive.

This link goes directly to The Marah Project:

http://www.teensinpublicservice.org/get-involved/the-marah-project/

Mary Pilon – New York Times

“We don’t like being the story.”

Mary Pilon was emphatic.  But it was a simple request from a humble reporter. Reporters like to tell stories not be stories. No problem. Ok, so this won’t be a post about Mary Pilon. It will however, be an example of how a journalist can re-purpose considerable talent.

Oregon native Mary Pilon has written about everything from the Wall Street to board games to track and field. In December, the New York Times hired her away from the Wall Street Journal. She would now be a sports reporter. At WSJ she’d been reporting on the financial crisis on Wall Street. I got a chance to meet Pilon last week in New York City when I was pitching her on Lopez Lomong, the former Sudanese Lost Boy and U.S. Olympic track star. I told her Lopez was a remarkable young man using the flame of his Olympic story to help the kids back home in South Sudan gain access to the basics like clean water, education and food. I’ve been telling as many people as I can about Lomong because he’s partnering with World Vision, the charity I work for.

Pilon knows the Lomong story.  You have to look hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of the Sudanese Lost Boy kidnapped from his village at the age of six, held captive by Sudanese rebels intent upon turning him into a child soldier. The six-year old was deemed too young and left to starve. But thanks to the help of three other boys (to this day Lopez considers them his “angels”) Lopez escaped the detention center. The boys ran three days and nights until they were captured by Kenyan soldiers and brought to the safety of a refugee camp. After ten years, Lopez was sponsored by an American couple and brought to the States. Soon he discovered he was the fastest kid in high school, then the fastest in the state, then one of the fastest in the nation. In 2008, he qualified for the mens 1,500 meter in the Beijing Summer Olympics. His teammates elected him the U.S. National Team flag bearer.

As you’re guessing by now, the story from here on out is about Lopez Lomong.

Here’s what Mary Pilon wrote about Lopez. It was a Q and A.

http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/q-and-a-with-the-u-s-runner-lopez-lomong/

Lopez Lomong, left, and Galen Rupp running in the finals of the 5,000 meters at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., last month.

Eric Gay/Associated PressLopez Lomong, left, and Galen Rupp running in the finals of the 5,000 meters at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., last month.

Lopez is running in the mens 5,000 meter qualifying heat on Wednesday, August 8th in London. He has his sights set on a gold medal but what makes Lomong unique is that fact that he wants to partner with Team World Vision to help the kids back home in South Sudan.

http://lopezlomong.com/foundation/

Or maybe it’s the new book he’s written, “Running for My Life” (Thomas Nelson Publisher).

http://apperson.blogspot.com/2012/07/running-for-my-life-by-lopez-lomong.html

One last thing: In December, Mary Pilon was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 for media. She is 26. Currently she is writing a book about the hidden history of the board game Monopoly.

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/mary_pilon/index.html

When Lisa Berglund, former National Press Photographers Association Photographer of the Year isn’t traveling the world and winning awards for her remarkable video (Gold Dog Media) for international charities like World Vision, she’s with two of her best friends: a Golden Retriever named Sugar and a Border Collie named Tai who lives “in the moment.”

Want proof of that? Lisa needed far less than two minutes to  make her case. Watch this.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpcuT0PPoj8&feature=youtu.be

Sunday’s Story: Memes

Posted: June 25, 2012 in journalism

When is a video meme an imitation? When is it an homage? And when is it just a rip off? Fast food for thought.