Tag Archives: journalism

Closing time

6 May

Instead of saying something sappy—that’ll come later, I promise—I’m just going to narrate the most recent goings on. I know that I’m going to wish I kept a better record of my time here.

Graduation is in 14 days. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Yesterday, I handed in my thesis. It was my last English paper here. It was one of those ambivalent moments. I was glad to not have to worry about it anymore, but I’m going to miss belaboring over this long-term project.

Easy come, easy go.

  • Last week, Jake and I finished our very long profile of Lee Bollinger. Give it a read if you’re interested.
  • Another Spec-related note: I did my last copy shift with Betsy. That was kind of sad.
  • Also, I published my senior column, which was kind of surreal. I remember reading the senior columns of the people who brought me into the fold. I considered myself a senior column reader, and nothing more. Seeing my own column in print made the whole graduation thing seem very final. It was weird. Also, I’m used to writing sterile third-person accounts of the news, so I didn’t quite know what to say.
  • Last night was my last Spec Dinner. It was so lovely to see that bunch of really great people in the same room at once, perhaps for my very last time.
  • The Wall Street Journal’s Greater New York section launched. Woohoo! I can’t wait to start!
  • Right now, I’m working on what may be my last aesthetic/art/lit theory paper ever (assuming the future holds no Ph.D.’s for me!). Maybe my procrastination stems from the fact that this is kind of upsetting. Here’s what it looks like right now:

As you can see, I have it, um, all figured out.


Print’s after party

17 Nov

A great piece for an aspiring journalist, via Gawker:

An artist dolls up defunct news boxes with flashing disco scenes. Thank you Jason Eppink.

… No more words for this.

And speaking of the Forward … what I was up to

1 Sep

I don’t really like stuffing my articles in your faces, but I think this time, it’s worthwhile—I’d like as many people as possible to know about the subject. The pieces I worked on for the Forward were about Tay-Sachs disease.

Tay-Sachs is a rare fatal genetic disease that develops from an enzyme deficiency. But it’s less rare in Ashkenazi Jews (1/27 are carriers), Irish-Americans (1/50), and Cajuns (carrier status means carriers of the recessive gene. One in four children of two carriers will have Tay-Sachs). It’s notorious for taking infants away from new parents. Since it’s so rare, it’s often misdiagnosed–especially Late Onset Tay Sachs, the least common form of this disease. Late Onset Tay-Sachs (LOTS) is usually not fatal, but also results in neurological degeneration.

I started researching Tay-Sachs when my editor assigned me to the disease for the special genetics issue. But as I started speaking to interested parties, I discovered the struggles that are fought by family members and advocates who are tirelessly searching for a cure. For example, I spoke to Ken Bihn, an Ohio accountant-turned-foundation-starter whose daughter’s diagnosis with juvenile onset Tay-Sachs changed his life. He told me he’s promised her to fight for Tay-Sachs, an oft-neglected disease, even after he loses her.

Bihn family

Ken Bihn with his family. Daughter, Dakota, in the front. He says that though she's lost muscle mass, she lifts people with her strength, cheer, and spirits. His foundation is Cure Tay-Sachs.

I also spoke with Vera, a 36-year-old LOTS patients with two degrees from Wellesley and the determination of an army.

Most of the news, though, lay in a new clinical trial for a drug called pyrimethamine that would push the deficient enzyme back into the body. What impressed me, though, was after it had been pulled by a pharmaceutical company (after it had realized there was no financial gain to be had), parents rewrote the trial’s protocol and raised funds to revive it. Incredible.

But here’s the cool part: the day after my articles were published in the special genetics issue, the Tay-Sachs Gene Therapy Consortium received a huge $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health! (The articles/grant were in no way connected, obviously. The timing was purely coincidental, but neat). Anyway, I am so excited about the future of this research—scientists in different labs, in different countries, are working on different components of viral vector gene therapy. This may be the beginning of a new chapter for Tay-Sachs, one in which the diagnosis is not a death sentence.

Today was exciting because…

1 Sep

today the Online News Association announced that the the Forward and the St. Louis Beacon are finalists for Online Journalism Awards!!! This is exciting because I’ve worked at these two places. But even more exciting: I was with my boss at the Forward on my last day there when he heard the news. And less than a minute later, my phone buzzed with an e-mail from my boss from last summer at the Beacon, breaking the news of the nomination. Although I am unqualified to judge—and I am obviously biased—based on what I know, these two publications deserve the recognition and much more.

In other news: spent the morning working on Spec’s orientation issue, wrote a blog post for Spec, bumped into several administrators, and finished up work at the Forward. I’m going to miss the people there, and I already miss my job at the Daily News. School is coming soooooon… senior year. Oh boy.

And that’s the way it was

19 Jul

Last week was long, important, and fun. It included petonque, councilmen, Miss New York, Zip cars, editors, Harry Potter, Stendhal, Borders, birthdays, and poetry at Bryant Park.

But, more importantly: Walter Cronkite died on Friday night. He was 92. A huge loss, still. I had the privilege of seeing him in person when he spoke at Columbia’s J-School during my first year at Barnard.

I remember this clearly not only because of Cronkite himself, but because it was it was the first time I asked a professor to make a Spec exception for me. Cronkite was a formidable, self-deprecating man, who, unsurprisingly, attracted a huge crowd. I remember my mother flipping out with excitement when I told her about the assignment. Cronkite—this is a real man. He took to the podium, and, between sips of water—he apologized, as he usually drinks “not water” but he just recovered from surgery—and slapped the media on its behind for its screwy management.

Then he said:

“The young people I see entering the field of journalism today are no less intelligent or dedicated than in my generation. … They are indeed … brave to be entering a profession with far less job security and far greater economic uncertainty … out of a deep sense of commitment to public service.”

What an inspiration, to see a hero laud my choices, despite admitting to their drawbacks.

But as the Times notes, he’s leaving us in a world where “the television news business long ago lost that kind of prestige and importance; the audience for evening newscasts has so dwindled that this year there were more viewers on an average night for “American Idol” than for the programs on CBS, NBC and ABC combined.”


26 May

I tend to get nostalgic about everything.

I’m reminded of this because I was in a different place one year ago today, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m continuously left to consider whether the repetition of experiences is better than the acquisition of new ones. Of course, the latter is more logical and generally preferable. New experiences, obviously, make us well-rounded folk. Still, this is up for consideration only because old ones have been so good.

Perhaps nostalgia stems from the bounty of incredible experiences and opportunities, ones that are hard to forsake and move on from. Or maybe I’m just sentimental.

Anyway. Back to writing articles for Education Update. Finding it hard to get back in the zone now!

post-pdf reads: Obama, paper-boy?

10 May

Interesting piece by Frank Rich on … the future of the media.

I’m not sure if there’s anything new to glean from Rich on this topic that has been beaten to death, but he tells of how movies adapted when TV was the threat, known as “the monster:”

And yet in 2009, Hollywood movie studios, radio and the Broadway theater, though smaller and much changed, are not dead. They learned to adapt and to collaborate with the monster.

He argues that someone has to “foot the bill” for expensive news. I guess I’ve heard it all before. But it’s still a good read.

And here’s another journalism-related read, Dowd this time, referring to Barack Spock.

This was the part that really mattered to me, though:

Once, during his campaign trip to Europe, Mr. Obama told me that he had briefly sold subscriptions to The New York Times when he was at Columbia University to help pay for school, but confessed he wasn’t very good at it.

Sounds a bit like the story of PrezBo, the newspaper janitor?

Anyway. Done with year in review, back to papers tomorrow. ‘Night.