Mar 15

If you’re going to steal, go big

Back to it today. This, I tell myself every year, is the work week that demonstrates I’m not as young as I used to be. Because I’m young enough — and obtuse enough, I suppose — that it takes a particular week to get the point across. After getting home on Saturday night and doing laundry and a frozen pizza in time to be asleep by 9 p.m. and then Sunday of doing only what is required of a Sunday, it was time to return to the action this morning.

At least, this year, we only had to go to Atlanta. Last year I did this week after a trip to Lafayette, Louisiana. Next year we can look forward to going to Austin Peay, which means almost four hours back to campus on a Saturday before the most abbreviated of weekends and … I feel tired already.

In class today we discussed story ideas, and that is always magical. You ask a group “What makes you happy? What makes you angry?” and you get a half-dozen story ideas right away. What are people talking about? What part of that do they have wrong? What do they need to know? There are all kind of little tricks to help you create story ideas. I always tell classes that there are two kinds of people: those who can spout off a handful of ideas like they were reciting their address and those that can’t. If you can’t, you can learn. And I was in that latter category. But anyone can do it, and here are some ways how.

I sent them off with an assignment sheet, a come up with ideas based on these things, arrangement. Turn in a copy for a grade, keep a copy to start that new idea book you’re about to create. Story ideas are fun. I used to dread them, until I learned how to dream up four or five angles off of one simple idea. And if I can, anyone can.

I had vegetables for dinner. Comfort food of the healthiest order. Now this.

Entre Nous

Entre Nous is Samford’s yearbook and this is the 1979 pageant. The winner received the Hypalia Cup. I’m not sure of the origins of that. One of these ladies is a homemaker, I think. Another is an educator. No idea about the third. Also, this, from the accompanying story:

Entre Nous

Things to read … because we need something from this century to wrap this up.

You would think this would be a conspicuous choice … and that people wouldn’t do it. Travis Kvapil’s NASCAR racecar stolen from outside hotel, won’t race at Atlanta this weekend:

Getting your car stolen in a major American city is not that unusual an occurrence.

However, getting a professional racecar inside a trailer and attached to a heavy-duty hauling truck stolen is a new one. But that’s exactly what happened to NASCAR veteran Travis Kvapil and his No. 44 Chevrolet Sprint Cup car overnight Friday.

NASCAR comfirmed Friday afternoon that Kvapil had withdrawn from Sunday’s QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Oh. They were caught on tape. And the car has been found, sans trailer or truck, which was discovered later in the day. If LoJack isn’t sponsoring that guy by the end of the month there’s something wrong with America.

Following up on the earlier Bentley-Holtzclaw story, Gov. Robert Bentley says Holtzclaw billboard ‘irresponsible,’ projects will be resumed at some point:

The governor was asked this morning if Cooper’s move should serve as a warning to legislators as they consider whether to support the governor’s $541 million tax increase proposal announced today.

“I wouldn’t say a warning,” Bentley said. “I would say that it is irresponsible to act irresponsibly.”

Bentley said he did not know Cooper had stopped the projects until Cooper informed him, but that he had given Cooper “the green light” to do so.

Asked if there were other “green lights” coming, Bentley said, “It’s on yellow.”

So be careful what you say at the capitol, I guess.

I read this a few days ago and found myself full of wonder and awe and I want to share it with you now, a newspaper editor I know wrote this about a guy he knew once upon a time. It defies excerpting, but it is worth reading. The legacy we leave behind

And, finally, I don’t always link to all of the stuff the Crimson produces, because that would be a lot of links, but there are some good things in this week’s issue, including this look back to the 1930s, specifically, how the students felt about FDR in 1939:

Down with Roosevelt! Roosevelt for King! FDR should be shot! I love Roosevelt!

These are typical reactions to the question: are you in favor of Roosevelt for a third term as president of the United States. Delving further into complicated statistics and graphs collected by the Crimson staff, we find more than a dozen highly exciting opinions on the most exciting question of the day. (The war in Europe and the Cincinnati-St. Louis baseball feud are of course a great deal more interesting and important, but if a feature writer can’t claim exciting interest for his subject, he might as well not write the article.)

It is a fine read.

Mar 15

Catching up

The weekly post that adds pictures that you haven’t seen here yet. I’m not sure why I explain that. According to this I’ve written this post for more than three years now … Anyway, to the photos.

My view of Atlanta from the ninth floor of the Ramada. This is actually by the elevators. The view from my room was more fitting: a parking lot and freeway.

These chairs didn’t look comfortable, and they weren’t comfortable. Until they were. This is hard to explain. But I’d had four hours of sleep the night before, so that may have something to do with it.

My rental van. I parallel parked this brick beast. Only because the space behind me was empty at the time.

Some of our Samford students listening in on a panel, about Ebola, I think.

No one has explained this to me yet …

This flatiron is the Hurt Building, built between 1913 and 1926 nation’s earliest skyscrapers. It was said to be the world’s 17th largest office building during construction.

Now this is a light fixture. This is in the student center at Georgia State.

So we go through all of the awards, there are about 30 of them, and finally there’s the College Journalist of the Year award. They start at number 10 and we work our way up. This was around number five, when Sydney was realizing she was still waiting to hear her name.

She placed third in the College Journalist of the Year. She’s a print person through and through and, happily, has an editorial job already lined up for after graduation. She’s going to be great. She also placed fourth in the multimedia journalist category and won the sports photojournalism onsite championship. It was, she said, her first basketball game.

Allie has been hanging out with me all day.

Feb 15

Home at last

We are back from the conference.


The above picture is from one of the three panels I sat in today. One was, basically, on student media troubleshooting. This one was about the difficulties student media are having at Tennessee State and Delta State. At TSU they’re getting stonewalled by their administration, at DSU, the entire program has been cut. These are bad scenes. I also sat in on a sports media panel, which was a lot of fun.

I’m exhausted. I ended up judging four categories, which cuts into your sleeping time. I think I’ve had 17 hours of sleep since Wednesday morning. So when I looked at the time and thought I’ll be asleep before 9 p.m. I was fine with that.

These guys are awesome:


That was the funny pose, of course, from Friday night. We left Atlanta this afternoon after receiving awards in the Onsite Journalism Championships:

Page Layout Championship: Honorable mention – Emily Featherston
Copy Editing Championship: 3rd place – Halley Smith
Sports Photojournalism Championship: 1st place – Sydney Cromwell

Hey, I’ve got the laundry started and I’ve had dinner. If you’re not exhausted, you’re doing it wrong.

Feb 15

Best of the South journalism awards


Full awards:

Best College Video News Program: 9th place – SNN
Best College Magazine: 3rd place — Exodus
Best TV Journalist: 9th place – Yvonne Gross
Best Newspaper Layout Designer: 7th place – Grace Miserocchi
Best News Graphic Design: 6th place – Amy Wilson
Best Magazine Layout Designer: 5th place – Kaitlyn Bouchillon
Best Sports Writer: 4th place – Sam Chandler
Best Arts & Entertainment Writer: 4th place — Jimmy Lichtenwalter
Best TV News Feature Reporter: 4th place – Cherie Olivier
Best Multimedia Journalist: 4th place – Sydney Cromwell
Best Magazine Writer: 3rd place – Jonathan Adams
Best News Writer: 2nd place — Emily Featherston
Journalist of the Year: 3rd place – Sydney Cromwell

Photo by Samantha Nelson.

Feb 15

To Atlanta! Travel on a non-snow day

We got snow. It started around me around 6 or 7 p.m. last night. It looked like this:


It didn’t snow very much on us, but to the north they had an actual snowfall event. The roads were dry by mid-morning. Campus opened at 11 a.m. today. The expectation was that the cold temps and melting snow could make for some dangerous roads for winter-weary travelers.

So almost as soon as campus opened I had to get ready to leave. Things must be printed and copies must be made. Department credit cards must be picked up, returned and then finding another one. The rental car people have to show up. I have to promise not to transport minors to Canada. (Seriously, there’s an Enterprise form for that.) Waivers from students must be signed. And then we get to the van. It is a giant white brick. The Enterprise people couldn’t find the gas tank. We walked around it three times before we accidentally stumbled upon it. We labored with loading the thing with luggage, which was more difficult than it needed to be.

And then we were on the road, bound for Atlanta and the Southeast Journalism Conference, hosted by Georgia State University. The trip was no problem, the roads were perfect. We checked into the hotel right on time. We checked into the conference with no problem. The Yankee came over and we all went out for dinner at Tin Lizzy’s Cantina. Some of the students brought us milkshakes. I got to see a student that was in my class a few years ago, but transferred to GSU, which made us all sad. It was a nice treat to see her and learn that she was doing very well. Also, milkshakes.

Things to read … because reading goes with your dessert.

Lessons from a 73-Year-Old World Champion:

Train and race hard. Treat your training like a job and always approach it with great focus.

Never quit. Don’t shortchange any of your workouts. Always finish what you set out to do because if you can’t accomplish goals on the micro-level, you won’t be able to shoot for those on the macro-level.

Always stay in the moment. Banish all negative thoughts from your mind and focus on the task at hand.

Here are a few local stories of note.

Undocumented immigrants: A boom or bust opportunity for Alabama economy?:

While charting the population totals for each state may be inconsistent, the amount already paid in tax dollars is not. Data from The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy , or ITEP, highlights that undocumented workers contributed $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010, but this money could slowly be leaving some states who continue to fight the inclusion of undocumented immigrants.

This population is also reportedly getting smaller for Alabama — a state faced with closing a $700 million budget gap and on the verge of a tax increase.

This story is going to be huge. ALDOT director says lawmaker’s billboard went too far, kills road projects:

Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper today said he has called off planned road projects in state Sen. Bill Holtzclaw’s district, which includes portions of Limestone and Madison County.

Holtzclaw, a Republican, this week put up a billboard in his district that read “Governor Bentley wants to raise your taxes. I will not let that happen.”

“I just thought the billboard was a step too far,” Cooper said today. “If Sen. Holtzclaw feels that strongly about taxes, he probably wouldn’t be comfortable with a significant amount of tax dollars being spent in his district as we had planned.”

Let’s continue with that story, where an appointee is trying to silence a representative of the governor’s own party. Alabama DOT director stops road projects because of senator’s billboard critical of Gov. Robert Bentley:

“If Sen. Holtzclaw is that concerned with taxes I think he probably would be uncomfortable with us spending tax money in his district, so I pulled the projects,” Cooper said.

Bentley announced last week that he would propose a $700 million tax increase to close a shortfall in the General Fund budget.

Bentley also said at that time, in response to questions about whether he would try to strong-arm legislators into supporting his plan by threatening to withhold project funds: “We will look more favorably on areas of the state that really do want to support our budget.”

Cooper said today that Bentley did not instruct him to stop the projects. He said he informed Bentley about his decision in a phone call but declined to say how the governor reacted.

We’re going to hear a lot about this story, I hope, in the near future.

I’ve written about this man here before. Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins shares his story with Opelika High students:

According to Army records, Adkins is estimated to have killed between 135 and 175 enemy soldiers and was wounded 18 times during the incident.

“What makes it so humbling is the fact that in that time period, 30 million men and women served in our military, and there are only 79 living Medal of Honor recipients,” Adkins said. “I wear this medal today for the other 16 American soldiers with me on those days. All 17 of us were wounded, most of us suffered multiple wounds, and five paid the ultimate price for this great country. The 18 wounds I suffered are very minor compared to that.”

I wrote about his truly unbelievable Medal of Honor notice, here.

Journalism links:

Six questions journalists should ask when evaluating a rumor
SPLC project strives to empower women in student media
Firing Joey Kennedy

Tomorrow the conference begins.