Sunday, June 08, 2008

Heart of America Press Award

Saturday night in Kansas City I was given a Gold Heart of America Press Award from the Kansas City Press Club. Journalists from Kansas and Missouri enter in various categories, and Gold, Silver and Bronze awards are given. I was not there, but Mark called to give me the details.

This was the top award given in the Business to Business category for a series of reports about the Greensburg Tornado done for the XM Satellite show, "Landline Now." The award was given to five of us who worked on the series. My contribution was doing the reporting, including interviews, writing and voice work, on site in Greensburg.

In the comments the judges wrote, "This moving and intense series captures the human experience of a terrible tornado that demolished Greensburg. This is the bar for in-depth radio reporting that matters. Bravo."

It's incredibly flattering to be chosen for this honor. It reminds me of how amazing it can be to work with other professionals who do incredible work.

I did interviews the first day on the ground and then wrote and voiced the first piece in a Pratt hotel room. I did one more day of interviews and finished those in my home office. I ftp'd the pieces to Landline Now, and their sound engineer, Barry, who is obviously a genius when it comes to sound, made it all flow together and added the music.

Thanks to Mark and Barry for seeing the potential in the series and submitting it for an award.

Click to hear:
Truck Driver Kenny Smith and his Tornado Experience
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JK Rowling on Failure

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”
J.K. Rowling during Harvard Commencement Address

When I ran across this quote today it really spoke to me. I'm at a place in my life where I feel like I've failed at many things. Most of those are things I feel don't really matter much, anyway, even though the world gives other indications. At the same time, there are some things I feel I'm very good at that I think are important. But, alas, the world doesn't seem to value those things.

It's curious to think about "failure" and what that means. I think it just means learning. I've learned that "failure" is something others want to attach to individuals, when the failure may actually have more to do with the environment in which you and others are working than it does with anything any one of you might do or not do.

It seems the world - at least in this country - values only money. Making money. Then making money from the money you made. So you have more money. The next step, it seems, is to spend that money on foolish things. I guess because you don't have time to do something interesting with the money, because you have to use your time to make more money, people squander it on $6000 sunglasses and other idiocy.

I like money, really I do, but I want to make it with my soul intact. Money is a wonderful thing. It buys me freedom, and that is what I want most desperately. I want enough money to buy my freedom to live, and once I have my freedom, the rest of the money can go to charity. But I need enough to buy my freedom. My sweet, sweet, sweet freedom.
The last few months I have been putting my energy into projects that feel "right" to me. This quote makes me feel that is the correct course. It's difficult to do that, sometimes, when the world is telling you you're making the wrong decision. Of course, the world hasn't done much to steer me right so far, so I'm not sure why I should pay any attention now.
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Bobby Kennedy Funeral Train June 8, 1968

It was on this day in 1968 that Bobby Kennedy's funeral train traveled from New York to DC to lay Bobby to rest next to JFK. On the train was photographer Paul Fusco, hired to do a story for the now defunct "Look" Magazine.

As the train traveled the route, Fusco saw people gathered along the way to watch it pass. The resulting photographs are part of an exhibit at Danziger Projects Gallery.  They also offer this link to a New York Times audio visual project.

Although I was far too young in 1968 to understand what was going on in the world, I'm all too aware of it today. Forty years later we're still fighting some of the same battles. We're embroiled in another war that seemingly has no end, just like we were in 1968. Although racial issues are better than in '68, racism is still alive in this country. On a bright note, we have a politician who offers hope. I hope Mr. Obama can deliver on the change we all want.
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