Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marching for freedom, 50 years later

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. 50 years? Wow. For someone like me, who grew up in a time when racial equality has taken leaps and strides in the right direction, its really hard to believe that there was ever a time when there was such a divide over civil freedoms in our country.

I had the lucky (sometimes my job really is lucky like this) opportunity and assignment to live cut clips from today's commemoration events. As I sat in my desk at the Post, listening to greats like Rev. Bernice King, Rep. John Lewis, and even President Obama speak about the past and future growth of the civil rights movement, I couldn't help but feel inspired, humbled, and challenged to hold my generation to a higher standard of overall equality that my parents' and their parents' before never achieved.

You know, as a news person, my job is to be impartial, keep my opinions to myself (for the most part), and provide only the facts. But on something so simple as freedom and equality... I find it hard to not express at least a little bit of personal hope for my generation. A positive outlook that we will push a little further, dig a little deeper. And maybe, just maybe, we will learn truly what Dr. King's dream was really all about.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Panda-monium hits D.C.

I've always wanted to use that headline. Seriously. Since, like, last year, when Mei Xiang had her cub that passed away.  But hopefully this new panda, the National Zoo's latest cuddly creature, will have a bit more stamina and will live and long, happy life.

For being such a serious, wonk-filled epicenter, I've gotta say, I've heard more about the baby panda this weekend than I heard about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. But hey, the civil rights movement wasn't that important anyway, right?

(Side note: For those that didn't catch my sarcasm... I'm not being serious. The civil rights movement was obviously one of the most important historical events of the past two centuries. You should go to sarcasm school.)

Regardless, here's a charming video I helped put together about the little guy...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Filming Charles Bolden, learning about NASA

As a kid growing up in Houston, TX, trips to NASA were about as special to me as eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They were something that I did almost every year in school-- probably to fulfill a STEM-related field trip requirement I was too young to even know existed.

When I was was younger, the trips were all the same: a trip to the kids' flight simulator, a nice mid-day space-themed IMAX movie, and, to round the day off, some Dippin' Dots icecream (if you were lucky). But when I got older, the trips, along with my interest in science and how things worked in the world around me, grew into something I looked forward to.

I remember a trip in grade five in particular-- not to the Johnson Space Center proper, but to a mission-control like center near Brazos Bend-- where my classmates and I got to reenact a space mission. I, unsurprisingly, was chosen to help run the communication center between mission control and the "space crew." Besides remember that I made a complete fool out of myself via a short-wave radio system, I also remember the thrill of the "mission." The idea that we, the 5A class, were trying to accomplish something real, new and scientifically innovating.

Real astronauts, the lifeblood behind the great entity we call NASA must have felt something like this back during the space race. It must have been their driving force during those eager moments before landing on the moon, sending a rover to Mars. And now, looking forward, beyond the budget cuts and red tape... what is next in NASA's book?

I had the lucky opportunity, as part of my filming duties for the Post's On Leadership series, to be in the room while Lillian Cunningham, the On Leadership editor, and Joel Achenbach, one of the Post's reporters, interviewed NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and asked him all of these questions.

Joel, along with a team of awesome producers, produced this fantastic piece a few weeks ago about NASA's new deliemma.

My video is in there too.. but the whole story is really worth looking at:

"NASA is looking for a rock. It’s got to be out there somewhere — a small asteroid circling the sun and passing close to Earth. It can’t be too big or too small. Something 20 to 30 feet in diameter would work. It can’t be spinning too rapidly, or tumbling knees over elbows. It can’t be a speed demon. And it shouldn’t be a heap of loose material, like a rubble pile. (...)"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Windows and joysticks: the happy and the sad

One of the joys of being a video editor and producer at the Post is the opportunities I get to work with our fabulous reporters and photographers in the newsroom. This kind of collaboration not only makes me a better visual storyteller, but also helps me to understand the pulse of the newsroom in a better and more complex way.

This past week I had a couple of video pieces roll out that I'm quite enamored with. Not really because of the quality of the video or photos that went along with the stories, but rather the storytelling aspect of the pieces themselves.

This one, 'Painting windows of joy,' is a sad story about a woman who lost her daughter to cancer, and is now back at the same hospital her daughter was at, painting the windows for current patients. I think what struck me about this story (you really should read the print version by Michael E. Ruane) is the ablity of Michael to convey a sense of complex emotion. Sometimes, particularly in emotional stories, that's really difficult to do, especially via print.

The other story, 'The joy of the joystick,' is much more light-hearted and fun-- something John Kelly is known for. I always love reading John's columns about D.C. He makes this city, a city that some days a love, and some days I hate, come alive in a way that I never would have imagined.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adventures and mountians and sunburns... oh my!

Summer is for adventures, making new friends, and spending time outside. In the past few weeks, I've managed to do all of that and more. Oh, and of course, I took pictures along the way :)

A few weeks ago, a few friends and I headed to the Billy Goat Trail area to hike along the Potomac, which was pretty awesome.


The next week, I headed to Old Rag Mountain in the Shanandoah Valley... which was pretty amazing as well. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Well... where do you stand?

This is one of the more thought provoking stories I've worked on lately... where do you stand?


Meet Milton, a veteran Marine, who also was a greencard holder. He lived all except 3 years of his life in the U.S. But Milton committed a felony and was deported to Mexico-- all non U.S. citizens can be deported if they commit a felony, even ones with greencards.

Even veterans.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

News can be sad, very sad. And it can just get sadder. But then, there's hope.

You know, working in news, I often have to read headlines about death, destruction, peril, and all the other awful things that go on in our world. And yes, it is very sad. And yes, I try to tell myself that it is my job, that it is okay recognize the sadness, but I must not let it effect how I tell stories.

And yes, that self-information makes me, very, very scared that someday, when I'm older, and more experienced, and have been in the newsroom for awhile, that I will simply... be numb. To sadness. To happiness. To any emotion, really...

But then I get to work on stories like this. Where yes, the story is sad, but there is a hidden element that I have always believed can take even the most upsetting stories and turn them around. And that, my lovely readers, is hope.