Friday, May 9, 2008

About Image

We decided on the theme of image for our final issue of NYC24 because New York is obsessed with image—both personal and public.

We caught New Yorkers stealing glances at themselves in plate glass windows and half-empty subway cars. We watched them pluck the most healthful-looking products from grocery shelves and apply makeup before begging for a job. We listened to they way they cheered for presidential hopefuls and examined foreign lands and unfamiliar cultures.

In 11 stories, our reporters uncovered the places where perception and reality conflict. We probed the boundary between where a person's image ends and where his or her identity begins.

by Sydney Beveridge

As the issue unfolded over the last month, we began to see the world as a series of images cascading, one behind the other, layers of an infinitely complex onion that as reporters, we had pledged to peel.

Like anything worth doing, it wasn't easy. We canvassed Staten Island, lost tapes of DMC of Run DMC rapping against domestic violence and for NYC24, gawked at hot pants, flirted with getting a Mohawk, learned how to scrum and nearly fainted while filming eye surgery.

But all the sleepless nights were worth it, just to bring our readers this issue, which digs beneath the image of New York.

Here's a gloss of our issue...enjoy!

Lisa Biagiotti
Executive Editor

Lizzie Stark
Managing Editor

Photo: Yian Huang/NYC24

Commentary on Digital Images

Since is a pioneering online publication, I wanted to explore how technology has impacted images, specifically digital photography. I asked three image experts about the topic. They shared their perspectives on the creation and distribution of digital images.

Please click here to listen to the story.

(Or download the audio here.)

Find out what documentarian Clayton Patterson keeps in all these boxes.

Flip through photo albums with Martie McNabb of Memories out of the Box.

Learn what Barbara Taranto is digitizing at the New York Public Library.

An Imageless Overview of the Image Issue

For an aural taste of the image issue, check out our audio story guide.

Click here to listen to samples from each story.

(It is also downloadable here. )

In addition to listening to samples and reading about images, please visit the site to see the entire image issue.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Seeking Men to Fight Domestic Violence

I haven't posted much recently and that's because for the past few weeks I've been working full gear on this story. It's about how the images being put forward by people working against domestic violence have changed in recent years: now the effort is more inclusive of men. As fun as it is to do videos about Chinatown garbage tours and Scottish dancing, it is also incredibly rewarding to work on some more serious issues every once in a while.

I've met some amazing people - men like Daniel Jose Older, a paramedic who was so sick of bringing beat up women to the hospital that he decided to become an anti-violence educator, and singer Michael Bolton, who founded an organization that supports women and children at risk of poverty and abuse (photographic evidence below)... as well as many others who unfortunately didn't make it into the final story but certainly helped me understand the issues a lot better. Like Quentin Walcott, who runs a whole team of anti-violence educators at CONNECT, and Stephanie Davidson and Linnea Hincks, two very bright students at Columbia and Barnard who also helped me unpack some of the concepts behind feminist theory and gender violence.

I'd love to hear what you think about my story, so feel free to post comments below. I'm also probably going to be adding another blog post or two in the next few days about other interesting things that didn't make it into the story, so stay tuned for updates (and previous posts).

Israel remakes its image at 60

Israel remakes its image at 60 looks at the efforts underway in New York City to promote an image of Israel that is not related to the many conflicts in which Israel has been, or continues to be, involved.

As it turns 60, leaders in the Israeli and Jewish community have been involved in different projects to show Israel as modern and multicultural. The picture above shows one of the "Faces of Israel" banners being installed along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, between 47th to 96th Streets. The one below shows another of the banners. Other efforts include blogs, pages on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, lectures, film festivals and tourism ads.To see more faces of Israel, beyond those on the banners, visit "The Face of Israel Today" on the Israel21c site.

My project also includes the image of Israel that Esti Tsal sees, a volunteer with MachsomWatch (meaning Checkpoint Watch). Every week she visits the checkpoints in the West Bank to document the interactions among settlers, Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. She dreams, she said, of a day an Israeli leader will remove the soldiers back within the pre-1967 border, or the Green Line, and end what is called the occupation.

In the May 8, 2008 New York Times, Ethan Bronner reported, in his story, "At 60, Israel Redefines Roles for Itself and for Jews Elsewhere," that a conference next week in Israel involving 700 guests will look at a spectrum of issues that relate to Jews and Israel, including Israeli accomplishments, climate change, terrorism and Jerusalem's sovereignty. Israel is a melting pot of people, of ideas, history, accomplishments, failures, disillusionment and hope. And so, Israel has many images as it turns 60 today.

Gay homeless youth keep up appearances

The teenage years can be particularly rocky for young adults who wrestle with the images they want to project to the world. But when a young person struggling with sexual orientation or transgender issues has no family or community support, an already fragile self-image often shatters.

More than 3,800 homeless young people lived in New York City last year, according to a survey conducted in 2007 by the Empire State Coalition, an advocacy group devoted to the rights of homeless youth, runaways and street youth. Sixty-two percent of that group identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or unsure.

The multimedia story Gay homeless youth keep up appearances by Jay Corcoran appears in the Image issue of

From Shelter to Office on Staten Island

On Staten Island, homelessness now hides behind shelter doors, walks in designer clothes and carries cell phones. Many homeless people are working-class, college graduates, parents or the elderly, according to Project Hospitality, a private nonprofit organization that operates the borough's homeless shelters and many food assistance programs.

Homelessness has blended into Staten Island communities that still hold on to the image of the drunken or mentally ill nesting in the ferry terminal and don't "see" the new image.

Contrary to the worn image of chronic homeless people, today they are either close to finding a home, or on the verge of losing one. Almost 62,000 Staten Islanders eat at emergency food programs--up 300 percent since 2004, according to Hunger Safety Net 2007, a report produced by the Food Bank for New York City.

The multimedia story, From Shelter to Office, A New Class of Homeless Grows on Staten Island, by Lisa Biagiotti and Tom Davis appears in the Image issue of

Struggle on the street

As I reported for my project on Israel's image at 60, I looked for people unrelated to the conflict in the Middle East who would have something to say about the country's image. No members of the Jewish/Israeli or Muslim/Arab communities because their responses would be expected. I wanted to hear both critical and supportive comments from people on the streets of New York.

In a city whose Jewish population is almost as large as the entire Jewish population of Israel (the latter is 5.5 million), most don't feel comfortable criticizing Israel in front of a camera.

I came across two people who were not pleased with Israel's image, but they did not wish to be filmed. The individuals in this piece agreed to be interviewed on camera. I debated making this video because I lack a contrary voice. But I made the video to thank them for participating with their time and their comments.

Amal, who is from Beirut, became my exception to my rule above. Her comments were so inspirational I couldn't not include her. If someone from Lebanon can believe in peace and has hope for the future, then I can, too.

Broadening the Image of the Middle East Through Business

My story is about efforts to broaden the image of the Middle East in the United States and focuses on the Arab American Business Fellowship, a privately-financed program meant to promote respect and a better understanding among the Arab and American peoples.

The fellowship gives young Arab business people the chance to work with U.S. companies in New York, Iowa and D.C. for three weeks and, beginning this year, will also allow American fellows to work with Arab-owned businesses in the Middle East.

The story's multimedia elements explore the image that New Yorkers have of the Middle East and the ways in which the fellowship changed Americans' and Arabs' perceptions of each other.

Efforts to broaden the image of the Middle East in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles

My story for this issue focuses on a fellowship that gives young Arab business men and women the chance to work with American companies in New York, Iowa and Washington D.C. for three weeks with the idea to foster respect and understanding between Arab and American societies. During my research I have come across other efforts to reach a similar goal:

1) The first one was written about in today's New York Times. It is a story about young American Muslim performers and filmmakers who are trying to change the image of Islam through postings on and similar Web sites. "Why Islam," a YouTube video, was done by Ali Ardekani, a 33-year-old Muslim living in Los Angeles, and explains his reasons for converting to Islam. "I am a Muslim" is another example:

2) New Jersey's Arab American community, with the support of Governor Corzine, has been trying to establish the Arab-American Heritage Commission for a few years now. If approved, this effort within the state government would disseminate information about the community to state organizations, and public and private schools and corporations. Ahmed Soliman, an opinion writer for New Jersey's The Record, wrote a column about it recently. 

Health Images on Food Packages Stretch the Truth

I was lucky to find a source that was as enthusiastic about reporting this topic as I was. His name is Joe Feigenbaum (check him out on video here) and he's a real mensch. (Speaking of mensches, Israel is 60.)

Joe invited me up to his advertising agency in Irvington, NY, where we spent a few hours in the local supermarket, pulling products off the shelves and comparing the claims on the packages against the reality of the ingredient listings.

We didn't really find anything super shocking. But Joe did a little reporting on his own and found this interesting little nugget about Kellogg's Smart Start cereal, which counts potassium chloride among its ingredients. He emailed this to me a couple weeks back.

"Potassium Chloride: Dr. Jack Kevorkian's thanatron machine injected a lethal dose of potassium chloride into the patient, which caused the heart to stop functioning, after a sodium thiopental-induced coma was achieved. A similar device, the German 'Perfusor', also uses potassium chloride as a suicide aid."

Obviously, Smart Start contains non-lethal doses of potassium chloride. And I'm no chemist so I can't come right out and condemn Kellogg's for putting the stuff in their cereal. Who knows? I'm sure a lot of common food items could be lethal if some nut were to isolate the properties correctly. (Put down that peanut butter sandwich....)

But the point is, if your a normal non-vegan, non-vegetarian everyday American carnivore like me, pretty much every packaged product you buy, even products that appear to be healthy, are going to have things in them that you probably shouldn't be ingesting. (Or, at least, don't need to be ingesting. Take it from Arnold.)

So if you are trying to be health conscious, don't rely on a "heart healthy" cereal or any other product that claims to provide a nutrition-related function. The body doesn't need much to function properly; you'll get your daily requirement of vitamins and such as long as you eat a couple veggies and fruit every day. Just watch your portions, reach for an apple instead of "apple-liscious fruit chips" and go for a run once in a while.

(Unless you're Dave Burdick, who can eat a whole pie without consequence.)

Roller skaters are leading double lives

The women of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league are smart, motivated and independent. They’re championing female empowerment while leading doubles lives.

By day, the skaters embrace their professional identities, whether they are teachers, architects or lawyers. By night, they slip into their alternate personas as easily as they slip on the kneepads and roller skates that signify a roller derby identity.

The highlight was going to see my first roller derby bout in Brooklyn. My video captures all the action – the hip checks, take-downs and super fast skating. Readers can also “meet” some of the women who I interviewed in the portrait gallery. Learn about roller derby’s long history from the timeline and read more here.

Asian Eyelid Surgery Sparks Debate

I spent some time last week walking around Manhattan's Koreatown, the heart of which is West 32nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Took a photo of this lovely lady as she took a break from her job in a bookstore. I was trying to highlight the poster behind her, to give an idea of what the prevailing beauty standard is. (My story's about Asian eyelid surgery, a popular cosmetic surgery procedure.)

Whether consciously or not, we're all influenced by beauty standards, which change according to time, place, culture and taste. One academic I spoke with, Beverly Yuen Thompson, noted the global reach of Western media in defining "beauty."

"Valuing one eye appearance over the other is not a natural condition, but is socially constructed," Thompson said. "There is no reason one appearance would be considered more attractive than others outside of the social value of that particular society."

Speaking of our society's values, check out this post on Jezebel, about a very nasty Maxim list of "the world's five unsexiest women alive" and then a list of "ultimate female hotties" from Entertainment Weekly that didn't include any Asian or black women. Now that's lame.

The multimedia story Popular Plastic Surgery Raises Questions About Ethnicity, Image & Identity by Karen Zraik appears in the Image issue of

Women Swap Heels for Cleats

Rugby is a popular club sport in the US with over 315 women's club teams and about 12,000 participants at the college level, according to USA Rugby.

But the sport is also played after college by women in their professional lives. Many women of the Brooklyn Women Rugby Football Club said the sport has changed their self-image. Rugby has empowered them, changed their view of femininity and broken the monotonous work grind.

Some players who hold jobs as teachers, consultants, librarians and attorneys have learned what it means to scrum, while others return the sport after a hiatus.

The multimedia story Women Swap Heels for Cleats by Matthew P. Moll
appears in the Image issue of

Far From Apathetic: Non-voters campaign for Clinton, Obama

While the image of the non-voter has traditionally been one of apathy and inaction regarding politics, in the 2008 presidential election, that image is changing. Jasmin Morales, 16, is too young to vote but is a Barack Obama supporter and is working to convince family members to vote for him. Will Straw is a British citizen and cannot vote but is active in campaigning for the Hillary Clinton campaign. In this election, a new kind of non-voter is emerging -- one who cannot vote but is nonetheless motivated to get involved in U.S. politics in support of a candidate.

The multimedia story Far From Apathetic: Non-voters campaign for Clinton, Obama by Channtal Fleischfresser appears in the Image issue of

Working Stiffs Get Cutting Edge

Ever wonder what it is like in a neighborhood barbershop? Want to know how funky haircuts are making their way into the workplace?

Haircuts are among the elements that define a person’s image. The straight, combed to the side haircut can evoke corporate America, but for Don Juan’s customers on the Lower East Side that look is too conservative. They want something that will make them stand out.

They are not artists or hip fashionistas. They work in the service industry, from a bellhop at a swanky midtown hotel to a ramp agent directing airplanes at JFK. Historically, the service industry has had rigid rules about appearance. In recent years however, more individuals have pushed the boundaries of what is considered an acceptable image, depending on their level of contact with customers

The multimedia story Working Stiffs Get Cutting Edge by Anthony Vanger appears in the Image issue of

Monday, May 5, 2008

A little R&R

What do you do when you've had three hours sleep in 72 hours?

Find your friends......hug your spouse/boyfriend/ with your kids.

Just hours after the soft launch, I took the stage for my kids' talent show Friday night....I felt like Keith Richards after a string of sold-out shows in South America. Nevertheless, I channeled my best Hamlet for our performance of a You Tube video sensation....LIVE!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Inside the digital image

While uploading pictures earlier this month from my digital camera, the program stalled. One of the files had downloaded, and it looked like this.

Thanks to a minor malfunction, I got to take a peek at the layers of a digital photo. I thought it might have been just strings of zeros and ones, but it's actually quite colorful.

He said his name was William...

I was out yesterday afternoon doing what felt like investigative journalism. It turns out that one of our "homeless next" characters, who we were profiling for an audio slide show isn't who he seems to be.

He gave us an elaborate story -- intricate and fascinating -- but when I went to meet him (as scheduled) at his job in Ozone Park, he and the address he gave me could not be found. He had mentioned his home address in a previous conversation, so I rushed over to East New York to an admittedly sketchy part of town -- desolate, abandoned warehouses and auto shops slapped against the above-ground subway.

Tom Davis was on the phone navigating me through the unfamiliar streets. But there was no apartment building for the address he gave me. Night was falling and I didn't feel safe wandering aimlessly through the neighborhood.

Tom and I knew he was not the most reliable source. He seldom answered his phone and didn't want his picture taken unless he was well-dressed. Something always seemed a bit off kilter, but I had several, long conversations with him, and asked him some of the same questions over and over again -- his story seemed consistent. Even the soup kitchen director mentioned that he came from Brooklyn to Staten Island twice a week to eat.

He hasn't returned my calls since Sunday. It just shows you that sometimes the best course of action is showing up in person. We could see his address on a Google map, we did a Lexis search and found he used one of the churches as his home address at one time.

But, his story doesn't seem to check out.

(Thank you, Shoe Leather. Love, Lisa)

Staten Island's hillside blues

Blending in to the wet, dank yet little-known underside of suburban Staten Island. Courtesy of ace photog MC Soft Focuz.

The Image of "Image"

So far, this is the best image that speaks to the theme of "image." Ironically, at the time, Sydney and I felt it was a failure as we did not manage to convince the subject, Cara Benedetto, to consent to having her photo taken. She did however, agree to pose with her image on her book, and we accepted it as a consolation.

Looking back, this a good depiction of an artist who calls herself the (name TK: something like non-image)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Foto Friday — Tips #5, #6, and #7

By MC Soft Focuz (Illustration credit: Dave Burdick)

Tip #5 — Shoot a lot

Most people think that good photographers just go out and take good pictures. As the famous French photographer Robert Doisneau once said, "If I knew how to take a good photograph, I'd do it every time."

The usage ratio is very low, especially for action. Taking the roller derby photos as an example, to take the three photos you see on this post, I shot over a thousand photos over six hours in total over two sessions.

Step one: Take lots of shots to find the best place to shoot (best background, where the action happens, etc.)
Step two: Take lots of photos in the same place as people roll past.
Step three: Pan with the action.

I showed my contact sheets in class, which one should never do, as it gives away the magic. Ask me to show you sometime if you missed it.

Tip #6 — Don't Chimp

Definition: Chimping is a term originating from sports shooters. After each play, all the photographers on the sidelines look at their LCD screens simultaneously, and make the noise, "Ooh, ooh, look I got the photo."

Don't chimp. Ever.

When you next go out shooting, notice when other photographers chimp. If you look in front of them, there is almost always something interesting happening, when subjects let their guard down after the photographer stops looking at them through the camera.

Tip #7 — Becoming Invisible

I first watched Alex Majoli, one of the most famous photographers in the world, become invisible. It was the most amazing sight. It took me four years to replicate that, but when I photographed a man at the Puerto Rican day parade flashing women passers-by, I knew I had achieved the power of invisibility.

Step one: Get in close. If you were actually invisible, you would go and photograph anywhere you wanted. You wouldn't hide. Hiding is not invisibility. You need to get this attitude into your head.

Step two: Be small; not arrogant. Don't portray yourself as the famous photographer from the big newspaper, otherwise you'll get photos of what people want to show you and what they think they want on the front page. Be a nobody, "just a photographer." Then they'll ignore you. That's the beginning of invisibility.

Step three: As Sig Gissler said, project a sense of "joyful entitlement." If you truly believe that you have a right to take photos, and you know that you are performing a benefit for your subjects, then you will subconsciously project that level of comfort to your subjects, and they will take those clues from you and fell comfortable too.

Working Hard

MuJo Mathilde (disembodied head holding zoom recorder 4th from Left) hard at work.

Taking a Break

MuJo (MUltimedia JOurnalist) Sandra takes a break at the Marrakesh Hotel on 103rd in between interviewing.

The Sound of Light

The far more important question most often neglected by physicists when exploring the speed of light is: What is the sound of light?

Multimedia journalist Sydney finds out by collecting rich audio.


Multimedia journalist Phil trudges to the supermarket to get the story.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dude, just chill...image isn't everything

Back when he had Bon Jovi hair, Andre Agassi used to appear in Canon camera ads and make millions of television viewers cringe by telling them: "Image.... is everything."

It was one of those forgettable pop-culture slogans that you hoped would have the life span of mosquito. But, dammit, there he was, every night for what seemed like years, exposing his God-awful Jersey hair in between innings of a baseball game or in the middle of an episode of the Simpsons. "Image.... is everything," he'd say. "Image is everything." It was like some kind of twisted Bohemian chant that was as intellectually bankrupt as a Lionel Richie song.

"Aaaarrgh!" you'd scream, though not necessarily in public.

Now retired, and bald, we thought we were rid of him and his corny words forever. Gone for good, Andre. A successful tennis career, yes. But that slogan...... somewhere buried in the trash heap of 1980s pop culture history, underneath Lionel Richie, Falco and "Baby-on-Board" signs.

Alas, it's back - the slogan, that is - but only in spirit. For, in our little corner of the world, the mere mention of the word "image" has been, at times, too much to handle.

This week, image has been everything. It has consumed us. We are reminded of it while we sleep (sleep?) and eat. We telegraph it through telephone calls and emails. We type stories that we're convinced have a connection to "image." But, perhaps, the connection is not quite there. Yet, in our heads is that Agassian chant: "Image... is everything." "Image.... is everything."

The cringe-feeling has returned. But, this time, it's not caused by shame or embarrassment. Rather, it's the creation of tension that's as thick as smog. "Image" is the name of our last homework assignment - and for those of you ready to graduate, it could be your last one ever. And, perhaps, that's caused even more tension.

"Aaaaarrrgh!" you're thinking.

I'm reminded of another 1980s icon: Jeff Spicoli, the surfer-dude from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." To me, a guy wearing a flashy red cruise-ship shirt that's hanging wide-open - while he's sitting in a classroom with a pizza on his desk, sassing his teacher - was much cooler than a then-underachieving tennis player wearing a Miami Vice suit jacket and Ray-Ban shades.

Spicoli had a one-word solution for every problem - well, he had other solutions, too - that could prove to be useful advice for every one of us once we discover that Dreamweaver doesn't work, the lips are out-of-sinc with the voices on Final Cut Pro or that Flash upload gets stuck on "12 percent" when we try to call up that web page on Internet Explorer (who made that rule?):


Just chill.

The ability to chill is inside us. But it's locked up behind a wall of tension that has stunted our creativity and slowed our potential to imagine "Image."

We are a class of high-achieving, high-I.Q., high-SAT-scoring people. Virtually every one in this class has performed work that is the envy of journalism schools - and perhaps good enough to rival anything produced by the national news media. The "Image" issue is going to kick ass. Face it - you know it. Kenan and Dave are already kicking ass on the designs. You will, too.

Yet, some of the work produced for the "Image" issue shows - at this point, at least - there has been a need for more imagination and confidence and less tension, pain, suffering and feelings of "Aaaargh."

Just chill.

How do you chill?

Back when I used to surf (poorly), we discovered ways of chilling. We didn't think hard. In fact, we never really ever thought hard about anything. But we discovered methods that were simple enough to follow, and effective enough to rival popular solutions produced by intense sessions of psychotherapy:

1. Work hard, yeah, but, you know, have a beer. Have two. OK, if beer's not your thing, have a glass of wine. OK, fine, make it a shot of Jack Daniels. But, please, chill.

2. Watch an episode of "House." Tape it, too, or put it on TiVo, because, with House, you've gotta be quick. Watch it a second time so you can pay close attention to every little obnoxious remark House makes. Once you process each little snide statement, you'll laugh your ass off.

3. While you're at it, watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Yeah, I know. You've seen it 20 times. Get the 25th anniversary edition, however, and watch the outtakes. Before they produced this work of art, they were a mess. But they got through it because, well, there was a lot of chilling going on (at times, they accomplished this through artificial means, but that's not the point).

4. Read that earlier paragraph about "kicking ass." Read it again. Know it. Learn it. Love it.

5. Use the style guide as a rule book, yes. But use it as a guide, too. Remember that each story should have a voice - get to know these voices. Enjoy these voices. Go out for a cup of coffee with the people who produce these voices. If you chill, they'll chill. Then you'll find more voices and, from there, a theme. Then you'll feel the Zen, and you'll find your nut graph that answers the question: What is this story about?

6. If you're stuck, tense, etc., call an editor. I'm at 732-546-1531.

7. If chanting is your thing, as a way of psyching yourself up, forget Andre and consider the words of another American cultural icon, Bill Murray:

"It just doesn't matter."
"It just doesn't matter."
"It just doesn't matter."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Filming Asian eyelid surgery

I'm doing a story on Asian eyelid surgery. It's a cosmetic surgery that's commonly performed in northeast Asia, especially in South Korea. It makes the eye opening bigger and adds a crease to the eyelid. (If you or someone you know has had it done and would be willing to talk about it with me, please get in touch ASAP!)

I went to film a surgery performed by Dr. Edmund Kwan. I donned my scrubs and joined the team in the operating room in Kwan's Upper East Side office. He does a few such surgeries a week, so he seemed quite relaxed.

I, on the other hand, was in full-on freakout mode. I got about four minutes past the first cut before I started feeling light-headed. I'm not particularly sensitive about this stuff, but the smell of the topical anesthetic and the sight of the fatty tissue in the eyelid bobbing around was too much for me.

Soon the room was swirling, and luckily I was able to set the camera on the tripod before fleeing for a breather. I forced myself to return a couple minutes later, and the anesthesiologist gave me a caramel and a chair so that I make it through the remaining half hour.

The photographer behind the camera

Our fearless Photo Editor fiercely at work on location.

Yian Huang hangs curbside in Staten Island with some snacks.

Who's behind the J-School graffiti?

There's another talk organized by the Dart Center at the J-School today (aside from the one on reporting on violence against women). It's about "Covering Trauma Victims" and it's at noon in the World Room. Someone overnight has gone around with big a red sharpie has crossed out all the "victims" and replaced with "survivors." This person obviously felt very strongly about this because he/she went and did this on most of the posters in the building.

The choice of words matters to many people. Survivor is meant to be more a more empowering term than victim, who has has things done to him/her rather than actively pulled through and been able to cope. Prof. Joe Cutbirth in class yesterday said he thought the term had been popularized in the 80s to refer to AIDS as well as domestic violence survivors.

A simple google search for survivor and victim doesn't yield much information about the history behind the linguistics. Anyone care to enlighten me?

UPDATE 10:15 am: a few emails later, the culprit has been found. It was Prof. Laura Muha who is organizing the event. She thought it would make people look at the poster again. Well, it worked for me!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sports are not easy to shoot

What you think you clicked in the frame and what you see in the end should jive. Here they do not. Catching the movement, getting close enough to the subject and composing the frame is multitasking at its journalistic-ly most awesome. Sadly these photos do not display this awesomeness.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reporting on violence against women

Mark your calendars: this Wednesday (April 23rd), the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma is having another great panel discussion. It's actually a reception with the winners 2008 Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, followed by a panel with them on reporting on violence against women.

From the Dart Center's press release:
"The Cleveland Plain Dealer received the Dart Award for “Johanna: Facing Forward” (Rachel Dissell, reporter; Gus Chan, photographer). This remarkable nine-day series traced events leading to the 2007 shooting of 18-year-old Johanna Orozco by her 17-year-old boyfriend. Exploring the roots of relationship violence through Johanna's eyes, the series – reported and photographed over six months - particularly struck a chord in Cleveland's Latino community and led to the creation of abuse-awareness programs for teens.

National Public Radio received the Dart Award for "Sexual Abuse of Native American Women" (Laura Sullivan, correspondent; Amy Walters, producer; Maria Godoy, Digital Media Producer), a startling two-part investigative series that opened a new window onto a national disgrace. The series exposed both the fate of women assaulted on reservations, and the web of impunity protecting their assailants."
I just read the story about Johanna. Wow. She'll be on the panel too.

It's at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism at 116th Street and Broadway (in the Joseph Pulitzer World Room), Wednesday, April 23, 2008, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Oh and it's free. Details here.

Staten Island's Music Scene

Tom Davis and I spent Sunday afternoon reporting on homelessness in Staten Island. Here is the result of our trip (watch video)

Don Juan's House of Styles - What does hair say about your image?

The vibe at Don Juan's, a barbershop on East 4th Street in the Lower East Side, is like a continuous party. There is always someone laughing, cracking a joke, or eating.

Olympia Shakespeare and her daughter, Sanaa, dropped by one afternoon last week. Olympia wanted to get her Mohawk trimmed up before her interview for a fashion shoot the next day.

I chatted to them both to see how they liked their hair and how it defined their image.

Click here to watch the slideshow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Healing trauma, one t-shirt at a time

As you may or may not know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (hence the Take Back the Night marches happening around the country). This past week was also Crime Victim Rights Week, which the Bronx District Attorney's office launched with the 12th annual Bronx Clothesline Project. The shirts are decorated by survivors of crime as art therapy.

The Clothesline Project originally started in Cape Cod in 1990 to raise awareness about domestic violence. The idea was that traditionally women would talk to each other over their backyard fences as they hung their laundry to dry. Because of the stigma surrounding domestic violence, the shirts were also meant to symbolize the airing out society's dirty laundry.

In the Bronx, it was expanded to include other crime types and genders: white shirts for homicide, yellow shirts for domestic violence, pink and blue for sexual abuse, and purple for hate crimes (although not everyone follows this color-coding).

“That’s what is really important about this week,” said Beth Ann Holzhay, director of Bronx County District Attorney’s Crime Victims Assistance Unit. “It’s the only week that all crime victims come together. People need to understand there are many types of victimization.”

“We wanted to include men because men are victims as well,” she added.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of incident happened,” agreed said Celeni Perez-Allen, of the Fordham-Tremont Mental Health Clinic.. “The common thread is that they are all survivors.”

Here were my favorite ones (click photo to enlarge):

Do you know of any other clothesline projects taking place in NYC?

As You Wish

Channtal submitted a very detailed shot list to the photo editor, specifics about what she kind of non-voters she wanted to find at the Obama rally. This allowed me to find her two non-voting (under-aged) Obama supporters.

The Woman Issue

Women's rugby, along with roller derby, is on its way to making this the "women's" issue. Or the "sports" issue.

Women's rugby league training in Prospect Park.

Detail shot.

Ingredients of a successful multimedia journnalist:

1. Video camera. Check.
2. Digital SLR. Check.
3. Legs everywhere. Check.

Matt "The Word" Moll in action.

More Roller Derby Action

— Are you trying to sneak by on the inside? Not on my watch!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gotham Girls get fierce

The Gotham Girls Roller Derby women have formed an extremely tight-knit community, mainly because they spend so much time together: practice is 4 nights a week and everyone must serve on one of the leagues committees.

Several women say most of their friends are other skaters. But don't let that kumbaya stuff fool you. It doesn't stop them from throwing a hip check at another skater that sends the girl crashing to the floor or flying into the padded walls.

Check out Yian's pics for a taste of the action--and this was just practice.

Not for Wimps

Action shots do not really fit Elsa's theme of the image of women who do roller derby, but I couldn't not blog this.

What happened just before this?
What happened just after?
To see those pictures, stay turned for Elsa's story.

What to do?
Four derby girls heading in my direction at high speed.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Taking back the night

A good article today in the Columbia Spectator about last night's Take Back the Night march in Morningside Heights. Apparently it was the first time men were allowed to take part in it.

According to Wikipedia, TBTN marches "are often deliberately women-only in order to symbolize women's individual walk through darkness and to demonstrate that women united can resist fear and violence. The women-only policies have caused controversy on some campuses for the way they exclude participation by men."

The Spectator article reads:
"Many say that since its controversial inception in 1988, the tone of the march has transformed from hostile to inclusive. [...] The march’s path through frat row was at one time confrontational, since, according to political theory Professor Dennis Dalton, a TBTN participant, the fraternities distributed sexist propaganda and made catcalls. Recent years have seen an attitude turnaround, as fraternities have taken to hanging signs and rallying by their windows in support of TBTN."
Here's a photo I snapped this afternoon of banners hanging on 114th, i.e. Greek Street.

Considering the story I'm working on for the Image issue of NYC24 is about how the domestic violence movement is trying to get more and more men involved in the cause, this would have been super cool to film. Unfortunately I was stuck in class critiquing the last issue of NYC24 while 500 or so people were yelling outside our windows. So please, if you have any photos, audio or video of the event, get in touch! Or better yet, post below how I can get in touch so we can get a little comments going on this blog.

This weekend I'll hopefully get around to blogging about the Bronx Clothesline Project that I went to on Tuesday, so stay tuned.

Some more on Foto Fridays

NYC24's intrepid reporters honed their photography skills under the tutelage of our photo editor, Yian Huang. I got a little carried away. Here are some samples:

That's Dave Burdick, multimedia editor extraordinaire.

Yian, doing his thing.

And Lisa Biagiotti, our exec editor.

Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon)

Spring swept Columbia's campus with the usual flurry of activity on the Low Library steps a few days ago. But on this sunny April day, red balloons were everywhere. A few Israel-focused undergrad groups put up enough balloons to represent the 7,000 rockets that have been fired into Israel from Gaza since 2000.

There are two sides to the conflict, and too many numbers to put here, but it was interesting to see this visual representation of the conflict and one that wasn't blood-ridden, except for the color of the balloons.