I don’t usually read the sports section

Don’t get me wrong. Sports writers can be amazing writers. I’m just not a big sports fan, and not a big sports news reader. Partly because I don’t have the faintest clue about how American football or baseball work. That perfectly coincides with the two most popular sports in the US–naturally most of the sports section is littered with articles about the very two sports I understand the least. Well, I guess golf goes on that list, too. But who cares about golf?

Ironically, I’ve been an athlete pretty much my whole life. Signed up for just about every sport that was available during elementary and high school, and even played with my town during the summer and winter breaks.

Swimming. Volleyball. Basketball. Soccer. Badminton. Cross-country. Track & Field. Gymnastics. Skiing.

I even did one season of tee-ball. Little kid’s version of baseball. It wasn’t fun– I got hit in the crotch the first time I played the pitcher’s position, and I wasn’t wearing my crotch pad. It’s awkward for an 8-year-old girl to wear one, especially when she’s one of three girls on the team.

I stuck with figure skating from September to April and soccer during the summer months. Quit both in high school. Picked up skating again in college.

Okay, went slightly off track there. But my point is even though I’ve loved playing sports, I don’t love reading about them. There’s just something about a live game, and playing in one, that is really really really hard to capture in writing.

So needless to say I found myself very surprised to be on page B13 of the NYTimes today.

I’m a dedicated front page news reader. I mean I make an effort to read every single article that appears on the front page.

Today, I didn’t realize I was reading a sports article until I got to the end of the bit that was on the front page telling me to continue reading on page B13.

Even more of  a shocker is that the article is about the upcoming Super Bowl.

“Super Sunday, and the Crowd Goes, Um, Silent”

Read it here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/sports/football/super-sunday-and-the-crowd-goesum-silent.html?_r=0

When I finished reading the article–I won’t hide it, I was very pleased with it– I flipped back to the front page to see who had written it. I burst into a laugh. Of course!

The author? John Branch.

Who else but a Pulitzer Prize winner could get me to read a sports article, in its entirety?

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A race to stop.

Why I’m running more miles than I ever thought I would.

I’ve registered for the 2014 Race to Stop MS NYC Half-Marathon because I want to do something for the people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For my mother.

(Help me help my mother. You can go to www.raceMSnyc.org and click “Donate” to search for my name.)

My mumma.

My mumma.

She is one of the strongest people I know–but her strength is hidden because the disease is an invisible one. People who do not have MS have no way of knowing what it feels like to have it, what its symptoms are like. My mother has dedicated her life to making mine and my siblings’ lives the best they can be. She has gone the distance and beyond, so now I want to go the distance for her. A tangible goal and a way of showing her that I care.

Most importantly, I want to spread knowledge about MS. Having MS doesn’t mean that my mother doesn’t live her life like anybody else. She is not invalid, but she is sometimes in pain and lives with uncertainty of how she will feel when she wakes up. Having MS doesn’t define how she lives her life or limit what she can and wants to do in life. She just has it, just like you might have brown hair. It’s a characteristic that she has no control over but it isn’t who she is.

Today, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. But with more research, there could be better drugs to ease the pain and slow its progression, more knowledge of the disease, how it develops in an individual and why. With this race and your help, I am helping fund that research to make it easier for my mom and many others who have MS to get through the day in a little less pain.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will use funds collected from Race to Stop MS to not only support research for a cure, but also to provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today. Because we choose to race for those who sometimes can’t, because we choose to donate to Race to Stop MS, we are getting closer to the hour when no one will have to hear the words, “You have MS.”

Having multiple sclerosis means that you may not be able to run when you wake up. Or that you may suddenly have impaired vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. The symptoms of MS are different for everyone – the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

My beautiful mother and I at my Boston College graduation. May 2013.

My beautiful mother and I at my Boston College graduation. May 2013.

(Help me help my mother. You can go to www.raceMSnyc.org and click “Donate” to search for my name.)

Day 36: Five Pointz

August 31st, 2013.

The graffiti painting mecca in Brooklyn, NYC. Now white paint painfully covers the art of many great and honored graffiti artists. A battleground lost.

 

De Blasio’s Inaugural Speech

“Analyzing De Blasio’s Inaugural Address” by the New York Times is an interesting way to read an inaugural speech. It has a video of it with time markers at different key points throughout it. They mark out different issues he addressed and provide an easy way for readers to skip to what is important to them.

Paid Sick Leave, Stop-and -Frisk, Taxing the Wealthy, among other topics.

The video is accompanied by a transcript with the key sections highlighted. On the right hand side, NYTimes journalists give us commentary and context to understand the meaning of the comments made by De Blasio. The journalists also point out areas where he went off-script.

I’ll leave you with the top quote of the speech–De Blasio’s most firm campaign message.

“We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love.”

A story about Football

Mo Better Football: An Imperiled Pop Warner Program Still Draws Middle-Class Families to Brownsville” by Albert Samaha for the Village Voice is not really about middle-class families. And it’s not really about football. It’s about people, opportunity and the character of a neighborhood. It’s about community and the transition from innocence to adolescence. And sometimes doing that when surrounded by negative influences.

But the coaches made him, told him he had to be here, had to be part of the team. They’ve known him long enough to see the changes: innocent curiosity morphing into indifferent swagger. The eyerolls. The backtalk. Over Mo Better’s 17 years, they’ve seen it hundreds of times. “One foot on the turf, one foot in the streets, ” as Vick Davis, head coach of the seven-to-nine-year-old Mitey Mites, puts it.

“It’s a turning-point age,” adds Justin Cotton, who coached at Mo Better for 15 years. “The boys have a choice: They can go with the gangs, or they can come out on this field with us.”

It’s a long form piece–very long form–with exceptional photographs and one of the best efforts I’ve seen of presenting a magazine style story on the web.

How to win a Pulitzer Prize

Six Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists came to Columbia’s journalism school for an interview panel called “Waiting to Be Told” on how they used investigative techniques and reporting skills to dig up “stories waiting to be discovered.”

Here are the works they talked about:

Speeding off-duty cops imperil the public“- Sally Kestin and John Mains from the “Sun Sentinal” in Florida. They won the Public Service Prize.

The amount of shoe leather burned doing this story was amazing to hear about. The journalists actually drove the distances between almost all the tolls to gather mileage data that wasn’t recorded in data acquired from the police departments and other sources.

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek“- John Branch from the “New York Times”. A total of 16 people participated in this multimedia creation over a period of six months. John and his team won the Feature Writing Prize.

I was delighted to rediscover this piece after originally seeing it when  friend emailed it to me as an interesting read. It is the piece that inspired me to seriously pursue journalism. I found it inspiring as an innovative way of combining the increasingly accessible digital tools journalists have with more traditional story telling techniques. This, I think, is the future of journalism. It allowed me to dream of exploring the use of data and graphics as interesting tools to use in my story telling.

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And he retweeted me!

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The Dillbit Disaster:Inside TheBiggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of“- Lisa Song, Elizabeth McGowan and David Hasemyer from “InsideClimate News”. They received the National Reporting Prize.

Lately, I’ve become a lot more interested in environmental economics, environmental justice, and environmental journalism. It is an area in which I think we will see a lot more reporting as our world changes and undergoes climate change. And also as we discover more and more of our natural world–much of this earth remains to be explored! This grass roots news organization is doing amazing work despite its small staff that works together virtually with no physical newsroom.

Thank you to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism for hosting these amazing journalists for the benefit of its students. And thank you to these six journalists and all other journalists out there who’s moral compasses point right and inspire the field to remain strong despite uncertainty surrounding its future.

Online Marketing Knows More About Us Than We Think

“A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that the analytical skill of data handlers like [x+1] is transforming the Internet into a place where people are becoming anonymous in name only. The findings offer an early glimpse of a new, personalized Internet where sites have the ability to adjust many things—look, content, prices—based on the kind of person they think you are.”

I read it here: “On the Web’s Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only” on The Wall Street Journal.

Setting FB Privacy Settings to Max May Not Be Enough…

“In the era of social networks like Facebook and Google Inc. GOOG +0.37% ‘s Google+, companies that catalog people’s activities for a profit routinely share, store and broadcast everyday details of people’s lives. This creates a challenge for individuals navigating the personal-data economy: how to keep anything private in an era when it is difficult to predict where your information will end up.”

I read it here: “When the Most Personal Secrets Get Outed on Facebook” on The Wall Street Journal.