Folding Back "Page One"

The New York Times' TV & digital media reporter Brian Stelter, 26, may be ahead of the online curve but he knows the value of newspaper subscribers and "old fashioned reporting."  

Earlier this month Brian sat down in Seattle with my pal Warren Etheredge (the Brian Lamb of movies) to chat about the Page One documentary, trusting major networks & local news gatherers, and the importance of Twitter, aka "crack for media junkies." 

The High Bar w/ Warren Etheredge & Brian Stelter from The High Bar on Vimeo.


Page One: Inside the New York Times

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
I was in my senior year of college in Dover, Delaware studying & learning how to produce media when September 11th happened. 

After three days glued to the tube, a friend had to pry me away. There was no new news. I was traumatized again and again watching the scenes replay. 

And that began my news blackout. I couldn't watch or read or consume anymore, didn't know who I could trust. Certainly not the New York Times

I was dismayed with media in general by graduation. After two commercial radio internships where I learned that most DJ's in America no longer produce or program but push buttons for minimum wage,  I was at a loss as to what to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to be a communicator, but there was no place for me in the media. 

So I made videos. In 2003-2004, I discovered the 911 Media Arts Center in Seattle where I volunteered in exchange for equipment rentals and classes. 

I found Warren Etheredge, who took it upon himself to make movie audiences smarter because, as he claims on his website, "Smarter audiences make a better world!"

I started learning, living, paying attention. I went out to public events, like a Howard Dean speech, and then read about it the next day in the paper. Sometimes what I saw didn't match what the reporter saw. Who was more right? 

Then I watched Control Room. Ever since I've been convinced that if you have something worth communicating, say it in a video. 

You can do it independent of corporate media, and it's the best way to get Americans to pay attention. A great video is almost as a good as experiencing life first hand. 

So by now I've mostly forgiven the New York Times. (Judith Miller, not so much.) It's a company, an institution, which I tend to think can lead to inherent wrong doing. But the individuals behind it are damn fine. And right now that institution facilitates them being at their best.  

Page One: Inside the New York Times is playing at Tampa Theatre through Thursday.  


New Job

This is the view I get from work every morning. 

This is the view I'd really like. 


For God, Country and Lunch

Trinity Cafe's Chef Alfred Astl and Program Director Cindy Davis.
"Kindness, love and compassion is the most important thing we do today," Program Director Cindy Davis told a circle of about 20 purple-aproned volunteers on Monday at the Trinity Cafe.
It was a few minutes before the 11:30 a.m. serving time at Trinity, where the homeless and hungry of downtown Tampa can go for lunch on most weekdays.

"Any time is a good time for pie."
The 4th of July special was double beef burgers and apple pie. A mix of pop and indie songs from Springsteen, the Eagles and Rhett Miller played in the background. 

A seasoned volunteer led a group prayer and then the doors opened for business. 

The volunteers worked two per table; one served while the other chatted up the guests. Cindy explained that because the homeless are among society's most shunned, acknowledging them is as important feeding them.

Several years ago Cindy was working for the Tampa Tribune when she read an article about the Trinity Cafe, no ordinary soup kitchen.

She envisioned volunteering there after retirement, which came earlier than expected when she was laid off on a Tuesday in 2009. 

"The following Monday I was down here volunteering," she said. Now she's one of two full-time employees, the other being Chef Alfred Astl.

Volunteer Rachel Coleman is the co-founder of High Hopes in High Heels, a networking and volunteering group for young professional women. 

Coleman said the group does five to seven charity events a year, including partnering up with the Shriners for their upcoming Glam Jam at the end of July. 

The group also does monthly community events, so Rachel and HHinHH member Andrea Balboa took this holiday to volunteer at Trinity. 

Rachel also recruited her fiance Frank Luis.

Orlando Gutierrez, 28, is an Air Force veteran who ran supply delivery convoys from post to post throughout Kuwait and Iraq during the current war. 

Orlando on volunteering: "Just paying it forward, as they say."
"I've been in this spot and needed help," he said when asked why he volunteered his time today.

"I got out of it and am doing well."

Orlando is currently a full-time student at USF majoring in social work. He's interested in volunteering with transitional housing programs and was told that the Trinity Cafe was a good way to get started. 

Trinity Cafe's Cindy Davis said the month of July is almost completely booked with volunteers. "Incredible," she adds, "It wasn't this way when I first started." 

They recently went to an online volunteer sign up, which Cindy said is more efficient, prevents overbooking and keeps volunteers coming back.