September 30, 2007

Contents of a care package

"Cochran-white box."

Box dumped on bed.

Scissors. Must find scissors.

Snip. Snip. Sliiiide.

COOOKIES.

CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES.

DVDs."—OH, I MISSED THAT ONE."

CANDYYYY.

MY JEANS!!!!!!!!

STAMPS.

My father's handwriting...

Tears with a brownie on a cloudy day with Lady Liberty.

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September 23, 2007

Great coverage of Jena Six

I'm currently writing a comprehensive analysis of a NY Times story on a Berkeley, Ca. protest, and finding the task interesting because some of the story was left out. My job is to see what was written and what was left out and discern if the story is an ethical representation of truth.

So when I stumbled upon this AP story about Jena Six, I was astonished to find a "consider this" section where facts of the story are deliberated further without the flounces of "color" that are so necessary, according to many journalists, in keeping a reader engaged. I am learning to abhor the narrative where everything has to fit in this little scheme of human experience that has come before and been so controversial. It's like we're saying, "Oh, yeah, it's just like back in the day."

No, no it's not. Sure, there are some similar factors like race, religion and gender in many of the stories we read, but that's the human condition, and there are nuances to each of those themes in each news item, but it's a good journalist's duty to make a break from the canned accounts to true experience at this time, and in a certain place. After all, reruns are just not as interesting and plain lazy. Why should we settle for reruns in our news, of all things?

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September 21, 2007

Reporting New York

My Dad had one request when he found out I was moving to New York: stay out of the Bronx.

I agreed, not really thinking about any place other than Brooklyn Heights, where my apartment is located. However, I've disobeyed him on many occasions, but for a good cause -- my education.

My beat for the next semester is Highbridge in the Bronx. Though Highbridge is sometimes rough around the edges, I'm finding connections and tons of potential stories among the lifelong residents, fresh immigrants and gentry moving into the area for less expensive, yet quickly skyrocketing rents.

I'm getting used to the stares and questioning glances again. Reporting in New York is like nothing I've experienced, though. I feel better when I'm doing print stories because there's only my notebook and purse to worry about, but when the camera equipment comes out on assignment, I'm constantly on red alert, watching everyone as intently as they're watching me. And while I'm trying to befriend subjects and earn their trust, I'm constantly aware that I am where I am and that I'm, technically, on my own.

The other day, for example, I headed out to Highbridge with the camera case, filled with cables, microphones, and a camera worth more than my debt from Seton Hill. A few people eyed me on the street, laying out the equipment for use, and I just sighed. If someone is going to rob me, then it's going to be in the line of duty, for goodness sake!

But I've been treated well in Highbridge. When I was filming last week, a man started asking me questions and introduced me to the Highbridge Community Life Center staff. I can't say enough about their kindness and willingness to share their stories.

My Dad, though hesitant to accept my neighborhood beat, is learning to understand. A journalist's journey is to face fears, not only their own, but those of the audience they serve.


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September 17, 2007

Sweet New York Times

The New York Times ranks up there with Gabriel Brothers, Goodwill and Coppula Hoagies. They're offering completely free content now!

This means that I don't have to log into the NYU Web site every time I used to get a "Times Select" notification. This means I can read and read and read! That is, if I have the time between documentary making, textbook reading and lots and lots of deadline writing. Oh frabjuous day!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 11, 2007

Fired up about faith texts

Few things incite anger more anger for me than withholding information that is legal and viable to human beings. I say "human beings" in this case because I am talking about prisoners--not the general public. These prisoners are being constricted to certain faith books that are decided by others. The rest of the books, according to the NY Times are taken from their collections.

I don't usually write things concerning current events because people usually misconstrue what I say, but this is disturbing.

Though I don't know what the history is of the correctional facility library system, I find it interesting that only faith books are being censored because of the chance of prisoners becoming extremists. Okay, so we have a few cases of that. There's Hitler writing Mein Kampf in prison. There's prisoners plotting escape and revenge in prison.

However, and I'm not a Polyanna in saying so, there's also the real chance for redemption in prison, and in another sense: "correction" (at least that's what we're supposed to be inciting).

I contend that there are many stories of people finding God or faith or some kind of spiritual system in prison; and no matter what the faith stance, a wide variety of books and perspectives is necessary to truly understand one's faith and the revelations of others, be they moderate or extremist views. The reader should judge and live accordingly to what is revealed to themselves by God (or the absence thereof) and themselves. The choices should not be based on what others have found the books to reveal.

And why faith books? There could be an argument down the road that all books should be censored, or maybe just computer technology books, or maybe books on survival skills? What about The Catcher in the Rye? Are these next to go?

The prison population is growing in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics from 2006, 2,245,189 people are in prison. A huge population in America are receiving censored book listings on one of the foundations of this country: freedom of faith.

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September 9, 2007

Grapes and New York

Grapes beckoned me to the fruit stand, finally. Instead of rushing it, as so many New Yorkers do, I rounded the corner--my corner--and found my money, so not to inconvenience the vendor. (I seem to anticipate anger here, but rarely find it.) But the grapes were round and shiny, surely sweet. I'd seen him other days on that very same corner with a spray bottle, preening them for other refrigerators and fruit bowls across town.

It was my turn, despite my silly reservations about fruit stands.

He greeted me with a smile. I eyed the grapes for a moment and he weighed a pound out with nimble fingers, frolicking for the perfect amount. It was a difficult task, too. The engorged grapes seemed to burst with weight, always too much for the needed pound.

Then he found it, bagged the fruit, and with more grace than Grace Kelly stepping out of a car, presented it to me with two hands and a smile.

This is when I love New York.

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September 3, 2007

Missing my comments

I'm actually quite happy my blog is changing its locale. I miss comments. I think I need them most right now. So, here is my test blog. I get the feeling that I'm starting over--again.

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