Hard day's night

Tuesday was another long day/night at the ASNE Reporter. Not as long as Monday, but it was close. Our work flow is getting a little smoother as students and editors get used to the routine of our temporary newspaper.

A little smoother. In the photos you can see editors (including my boss, Chris Beringer, top) hard at work. It was a big push at the end as late copy came in, photos were changed and headlines rewritten. Just like a real newspaper: hours of tedium followed by minutes of panic.

We're located deep in the heart of the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue. The sun doesn't penetrate here. I walked outside at lunch. It was about 80 degrees and people were enjoying lunch in the sun. Amazing. There is life outside the Marriott. How did that happen?

The bar was filled with editors last night, many in full convention mode. Think "Animal House" meets "Fight Club": lots of war stories and bragging about past exploits. The future for our industry (and this group) is tinged with uncertainty, however. What will this group look like in a few years? Will it even exist? Or will it save itself (and its industry) by radically reinventing itself?

All good questions with no quick answers.

The daily miracle

We made it.

Our first day/night of producing the ASNE Reporter was challenging, to say the least (we knew our original deadline was optimistic and we didn't make it but still had time to spare). The resulting publication looks pretty good. Click here to see the online version.

It didn't help that one of the fonts I brought had a problem. The italic font was corrupted and kept crashing when the pages arrived at the print site (Gannett's facility in Springfield, Virginia). We had to hunt down the bad fonts on several pages, reformatting whole stories at the last minute. Ick. My co-designers, Jay McDaniel and Tiffany Sakato, were great, learning new software and producing great-looking pages on a tight schedule.

Tomorrow looks to be a bit easier. Whew!

Celebrity moment: Exhausted, Chris Beringer, Sandra Long and I made our way to the Marriott bar for food and big drinks. Who should be sitting at the next table but Dick Gregory, the social activist, and his entourage (Google him, younger folks, he's important). We were cool and tried, very casually, to hear what they were talking about (Gregory had everyone laughing) but without luck.

Ah, the celebrity life of D.C.!


Washington, D.C.

Curious that the two most recent trips I've taken for work are to places that are warmer and more humid than Seattle. What's that all about?

In D.C. for the ASNE Convention, helping students produce the convention newspaper. The paper is a model newsroom meant to reflect the ethnic diversity of the United States. I worked on it last year and it's fun and challenging. It's amazing that a group of people, most of whom have never met before, can get together and, in a couple of days, organize a news operation and produce four daily papers.

Saturday morning we had a little free time. Chris, my boss, and I walked to the White House. Security there is pervasive. Lots of police and people in unmarked cars watching and listening. The Ellipse in front of the White House is surrounded by cyclone fences and closed. The streets in front of and behind the building are shut to traffic.

Tourists still gather on the Lafayette Park side of the building to take pictures and engage in some free speech (see the photo above). You hear languages from all over the world there. George and Laura Bush did not make an appearance.

The Corcoran Gallery had the terrific show on Modernism from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. We went to see it. Really fascinating with some great examples of modernist art, design and architecture. What started as a utopian movement to bring good art and design to the masses became ingrained in popular culture in surprising ways.

More photos on my Flickr feed.



Spring is peeking out in Seattle, despite the rain and cold temperatures of the last couple of days. This tree is next to my condo and has bravely decided to produce leaves. The sunset tonight was beautiful. Gives you hope after a long, gloomy winter.

Go Spring!


What's the matter with the theater?

Audiences are dwindling for live theater and British playwrite Anthony Neilson has a theory: most plays are boring. "Boring an audience is the one true sin in theatre," he writes in the latest issue of The Guardian. "We've been boring audiences for decades now, and they've responded by slowly withdrawing their patronage."

Neilson has a solution: Tell a good story.

"The way to circumvent ego (and thus reduces the risk of boring) is to make story our god. Find a story that interests you and tell it. Don't ask yourself why a story interests you; we can no more choose this than who we fall in love with. You may not be what you think you are – not as kind, as liberal, as original as you ought to be – and yes, the story (if you are true to it) will find that out. But while your attention is taken up with its mechanics, some truth may seep out, and that is the lifeblood of good, exciting art."

Amen! I've been saying for a long time that the problem with the movies is that directors (with few exceptions) don't know how to tell a good story. If people aren't asking "And then what happened?" you've failed on a very basic level. Directors are so enamored of special effects that the foundation of a film -- the story -- has been lost.

Neilson feels the same about theater. Read the rest of his piece here.



Ballard used to be known for it's Scandinavian population and the giant neon sign that marks where Ole Bardahl manufactures his oil additive. In the last few years, though, it's become a home to hip night spots and happening restaurants.

On a weekend night, like tonight, it can be almost impossible to find a parking spot.

In between the sleek new cafes and serene yoga studios you can still find traces of the less-slick Ballard of old. It's a place of contrasts.

My friend, Ti, had a show of dog photos last night as part of the Ballard Art Walk. Pictures are here.



Roseburg, Oregon, is located about 360 miles south of Portland. It's a blue-collar town in the heart of Oregon logging country and it's the place where I landed my first job on a daily newspaper.

I went back this past weekend to see a production of "Big Love" directed by my friend (we met at that Roseburg newspaper). I shot these photos while walking to the theater to see the show.


Bird banding video

Click the picture to see the video.

Every spring and fall I travel to Block Island, R.I., where my friend Penny Lapham's family owns a house. Block Island is a beautiful ink spot of land anchored 10 miles off the Rhode Island coast. Much of the island has been preserved (the Nature Conservancy named it one of its "Last Great Places"). There are miles of hiking trails, sandy beaches and lots of wildlife to see.

It's a treat and a joy to be there.

Over 40 years ago, Penny's mother, Elise, learned how to band birds from an island native. Elise started a bird banding station out of their house. She has banded hundreds of thousands of birds and compiled a unique and valuable record of the island's wildlife and ecology. For her work, she was named Rhode Island Distinguished Naturalist of the Year in 2006.

Kim Gaffett runs the banding station now. All of us who visit get to help out. Handling the birds is an inspiring and humbling experience. The tiniest weigh no more than a few grams. Birds that look so substantial in the air feel no heavier than a couple of cotton balls in your hand. Many of them fly thousands of miles annually to get to the island, a feat that seems impossible when you ponder how small and fragile they are.

The banding allows scientists to study the birds' migrations and monitor the health of each species. Many birds return several times. They are weighed and measured and their stats are recorded in the banding station's records. A map on the banding room wall shows where Block Island's birds have been captured, often thousands of miles away, by other banders.

The video shows you how the banding is done. You can see still images of the banding and other Block Island scenes here.

The Ocean View Foundation is dedicated to environmental education at Block Island. Check out their "Critter of the month" feature to learn more about birds and other animals on the island.