Sources for Rolling Stone Article

An article from the Van Natta list that I really enjoyed was Rolling Stone’s piece on Leonardo Dicaprio and his fight for environmental sustainability. I think that a large population of people don’t know how passionate and involved DiCaprio is with global eco-issues and only see him for his acting talent, so I thought it was a really interesting read. Oh, and I shamelessly love him.

Of the sources, the most important was no shocker DiCaprio himself. Would an interview with an oscar-nominated star be difficult to land? Possibly. However with a name like Rolling Stone and their choice to write about his interest in sustainability, something he tries to heavily promote, I wouldn’t call this source a challenging interview. His immense passion is apparent as he talks about his all consuming fear for the earth after years of waste and pollution.

DiCaprio wasn’t the only big name in Hollywood that writer, Stephen Rodrick, interviewed for this article. He also spoke to film icon Martin Scorsese who has worked with DiCaprio for years, and actor Mark Ruffalo because of his involvement with the eco-group, the Solutions Project, which DiCaprio is also a member of. Both commented on DiCaprio’s dedication to the fight.

In the height of popularity for DiCaprio’s latest movie, Revenant, it was quite important for Rodrick to speak with director Alejandro G. Iñárritu about his leading man. Iñárritu had a really interesting perspective on DiCaprio after shooting the film in the wilderness of Alberta, Canada. In the time of their filming, Alberta experienced some of its warmest winter days in history. Iñárritu saw the effect this had on DiCaprio, and said the emotion of it all is paralleled in his acting.

While Rodrick didn’t speak with Al Gore directly, he did use quotes from a meeting with then-Vice President and DiCaprio in 1998, which kickstarted DiCaprio’s passion and action for saving the earth.

Actor and documentary producer, Fisher Stevens, is currently working on a piece with DiCaprio. This is the first source that is mainly centered around DiCaprio’s fight for sustainability. As Stevens travels to different locations of environmental doom, he sees DiCaprio firsthand wallowing the hopelessness of our planet.

Rodrick was able to tag along with Stevens and DiCaprio when they spoke with Miami Mayor Philip Levine. They speak mostly about new developments and rising prices of real estate.

Looking at this article, no one source stands out as a difficult interview. The fact that almost all of the sources are celebrities or popular in the film industry seems like access could be a problem. However, as stated before Rolling Stone interviews celebrities on a daily basis. I am curious who else he talked to and didn’t include seeing how DiCaprio runs in many social circles.

I would say the most important sources are Iñárritu and Stevens for their immediate interaction with DiCaprio in a natural setting. Without these two men, I think that Rodrick would have failed to interview the right people. I am curious why sources from his foundation or the environmental groups he supports were left out.

 

Beat Post 2

 

The idea of how student housing would change the face of downtown interested me from the moment the Standard moved into the spot at Prince and North Ave. However, I find the way that story has changed to rent increases and the impact on students and Athens residents more compelling. The story became the threat of studentification- a clever name for a certain type of gentrification. The NPR audio piece on this is what really started to draw my interest around last August. While the apartments come with a high price tag at around $850 dollars for a bed monthly, there is an allure to living downtown that could easily deter attention away from an increased rent. There are many fears in the short and long-term future that accompany an increase in student housing downtown. One being that a huge sea of students leaving residential areas, or contrarily, moving into lower priced units could cause a displacement of low income residents.

This is something that the majority of students don’t really pay attention to. I remember when I was trying to find a house to live in last year, it was such a stressful time because housing seemed so limited. I live in the historic Cobbham district, and didn’t even think about if my willingness to pay the increased rent on my house meant eliminated shelter for others. Starting at page 62, the 2o16 Athens-Clark County Workforce Study gives a really good look at the immediate and future housing problems for the average working resident in Athens.

Finally, I see how the idea of rent increases for students connects with the idea of changing the face of downtown. Aside from the literal change, e.g.; a giant unit consuming one the most popular blocks at Lumpkin Street and W. Broad Street, thinking about the future population of downtown residents is where I see the main problem. There are many student housing residencies off campus that charge rents around $300-$450 monthly. Compare this to the now near $700-$1000 rent for luxury student apartments downtown. If students on their own payroll and alike residents are removed from downtown due to a rent problem, the void will be filled by students from affluent families. Not to say there is anything wrong with this population, but it would affect the attitude and appearance of downtown Athens. A recent Red & Black article shows that while Athens prices remain low compared to a Georgia wide survey, the price for apartments increased by 20 percent in the past year. That number is only predicted to rise and has students feeling the pressure of finding housing more than a year in advance. Imagine coming to graduate school and not knowing your certain plan until a few months before, and then failing to find housing close to campus within your price range.

I’m not sure what lies ahead for student housing downtown and it’s greater impact, but I do know I feel uneasy about it.

Sources:

http://news.wabe.org/post/athens-luxury-student-apartment-boom-fuels-housing-anxiety

https://www.athensclarkecounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/31989

http://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/despite-annual-rise-athens-rents-remain-below-georgia-us-averages/article_62df89be-d5cc-11e5-aefd-a7ed71d66a3d.html

Infographics

From the article on ProPublica, I can gather that a successful graphic is easy to interpret, suits the subject, and utilizes alignment and repetitive visuals.

The infographic that I have chosen to look at that relates to the downtown beat can be found here.

From my interest in local businesses, I thought it would be interesting to look at an infographic about the worldwide/larger community statistics on small business owners.While the infographic I chose is a few years outdated, I believe the actual visuals included are very strong.

Something I noticed about the infographic that is highlighted in the ProPublica article is the idea of repetition. By repeating the same image or type font, it allows even passive readers to recognize a change in numbers or words. This will idyllically bring viewers to see the main point of the infographic. Throughout the entire infographic, the use of repeated percentages and small graphs captures the readers attention. I also think that utilizing so many percentages wasn’t a flaw for this certain article because many people looking into small businesses would have the capacity to understand the numbers used in this infographic. A final aspect that I noticed was the infographic’s overall simplicity. At the end of the day, an infographic is primarily used to grab a readers attention through visuals, so complicating the message can only deter from the meaning.

I couldn’t grasp exactly how the “near” and “far” aspects of the ProPublica article related to the demographic I chose. I assume this means the graph succeeded in telling the story effectively.

Readings on Multimedia

 

Briggs, Blaine, and Clark differ in their teaching styles between the three textbooks. Each author offers advice and techniques on how to conquer the world of multimedia storytelling.

As a student of the visual journalism program, I’ve learned a lot about photojournalism. Capturing the perfect image to accompany a story, or to stand alone, is crucial. Nothing that any of the authors mentioned came as new information, but I found it interesting what each author choose to focus on. Clark’s book never specifically references multimedia journalism, instead it focuses on writing tools. However, I found that many of his writing lessons could translate to the multimedia world. He writes about seeking original images. In photojournalism you always want to produce work in a new and different manner. One of the tenants for National Geographic photographers on assignment is to portray their subject in a way that has never been done before. Blaine touches on framing your image in photojournalism. This is a little more technique driven advice, but it’s true that the composition of an image holds a ton of weight in the audience’s eyes, whether they are aware of that or not. Finally, Briggs reminds his reader to find the moments. This requires you to be a dilligent reporter and stick around to wait for the moments.

We worked with audio last year for a multimedia piece in Johnson’s class. I don’t think anyone in my class fully understood how complex producing and editing audio can be. While a simple iPhone recording may work for transcribing an interview, if I was looking to use audio in a multimedia piece I would need a proper recorder, specific interviewing technique, and a serious editing program. Clark focuses on how dialogue can act as a form of action. Sound bites bring a story to life. The conversation captured on audio needs to be interesting and draw an audience. That being said, Briggs writes about on how interviews can be extremely boring, yet they are the most common form of audio journalism out there. A successful audio piece depends on the reporters presence and dedication to find the story. As well as the emotion that comes through in the people’s voices and stories and the feel of the atmosphere. To portray the atmosphere, Blaine says that a journalist needs to include natural sound pops. Reporters often conduct an interview in another place to maintain control over their subjects voice, and then edit in natural sounds that they had recorded earlier. Depending on the story, natural sounds like a running river, car horns beeping, or coffee beans being ground can help the audience visualize the story.

Lastly, video is a realm that I haven’t yet explored. This year in DOC Photo we will have the opportunity to learn and produce video, but having no experience in it right now I was a really eager to learn from the three books. Briggs includes data on how much video has influenced our society. Over 1 billion youtube users watch over 6 billion hours of videos a month. That’s an insane number of people tuning in to watch videos, so I can see why video has become such an important part of journalism. I really appreciate how Blaine incorporates the importance of details in the b-roll. While the main parts of a story are crucial to portray, the details can be telling as to who this character is and why do we need to know about them. Finally, Clark writes about how a journalist should work from a plan. This seems like a huge part of video storytelling, because with so many moving parts (visuals, nat sounds, dialogue, details, etc.) having an initial outline of how to conduct and produce the story will make the reporters job easier and result in a better organized video.

 

Interview with Russell Edwards

Russell Edwards, 33, works as an attorney in Athens. He also co-owns and operates Agora Vintage on Broad Street with his wife Airee.

On the phone before the interview, I explained to him my interest in local businesses and Katelyn’s interest in fashion. He thought the interview would be most effective if we walked around downtown Athens to physically see what stores and buildings he was referencing. The interview was really more of a dialogue to learn about the downtown.

Katelyn Umholtz and I introduced ourselves, and the interview didn’t really formally begin as much as he shook our hands and said, “I have a great story idea for you.”

We exited Agora and darted right towards College Avenue.

E- Edwards, A-Ansley, K-Katelyn

E: Something I find interesting, and that hasn’t been reported on is the story of property ownership downtown. Take Heery’s for example, owned by Rusty Heery. He owns many buildings downtown and is a local business owner. Now take this building (pointing at subway). Beautiful building masonry owned by Fred Moorman who owns very many properties downtown. So you got Rusty Heery, Fred Moorman, and Fred owns this building here. Do you know the Fred building?

A: Yes, I actually have a group of friends who occupy the entire 7th floor. Also, my grandfather was president of the board at Southern Mutual years ago

E: Yeah, that used the be the Southern Mutual building then Fred bought it and put the name “Fred” on it (laughs). So he owns that, he owns this (subway), and a few of those bars down there. You’ll see “Fred’s Historic Properties” everywhere. He’s got a lot of loft apartments.

Then you’ve got this business here [Masada]. Irvin Alhadeff is the current owner, and I believe it was begun by his father possibly. It dates back to the early 70s. Irvan is also a major property owner downtown. He’s a business owner and property owner just like Rusty Heery. He owns Étienne Brasserie, The Place, and several other major places downtown.

So the story here is that you’ve got these land owners who have owned these buildings for decades- some of them inherited them from their families. Now there’s not much space for local businesses. As all of the residential new developments come in, the property values go up, the property tax goes up, so rents go up. This makes it harder for the small guy.

This building here (corner of College and Clayton) is in terrible condition as you can see. It’s owned by a lawyer in Atlanta. He’s a younger guy who inherited it I believe from his family. It’s full of local businesses like Wuxtry and Native American Gallery, but just look at it. The appearance is just so poor. I mean, they’ve got windows boarded up. This is the center of the downtown commercial district and it’s rotting away. The College Avenue facade of the building almost collapsed. It’s really pitiful, like you can’t even put a coat of paint on it? So, that’s another aspect of this story. There are absentee landlords who don’t care about the upkeep of their properties, but they just want to collect the rent. That building is owned by Howard Scott who is probably the fourth major property owner in the downtown area. He owns that building and many other of these buildings and student apartments downtown.

So, that brick building next to it is beautiful and is owned by two retired UGA professors who live in the loft. That used to have Flirt on the bottom floor, but now it’s moving out and it’s going to be a new store that’s a project of Red Dress Boutique. It’s gonna be called Fringe, so that’s an example of a very vibrant local business that’s branched out of Athens, but is still bringing money into the local economy.

A: (To Katelyn) That would be something really cool for you to look into for the fashion side of the downtown beat.

E: And that’s kinda what we did at Agora because we started at the location down at Clayton and Pulaski. We sold that local business to one of our longtime employees and opened the store we have now on Broad. So, you always have this sort of balance between new, younger local entrepreneurs trying to expand and then the already established local property owners who are just trying to collect rent from their assets. Those two businesses are constantly playing off each other.

The Red Zone that’s locally owned, it used to be across the street in the Urban Outfitters space. That’s sort of an interesting scenario- Encore was located on Clayton, but the rent increased and so they moved to the parking deck area. Then the Red Zone moved there and Urban Outfitters took the Red Zone’s old location. You can see how people kinda hopscotch around to try and find rent that they can pay.

A: Actually we were talking about this earlier. Even students are having to move out of downtown because of rising rents and into neighborhoods. Which of course makes the rent in the neighboorhoods rise and you have people there that struggle to find affordable housing as a result.

E: Right, it shows you how large of an effect that policies downtown can ripple all across the community with housing and business.

Well anyway, what other things are y’all interested in? I think that the property ownership is a really interesting story that hasn’t been reported on. People don’t really know who owns these buildings.

A: That’s something I was taking note of in my head as you were talking. This is such an untold story but all the focus today is with new local businesses coming in and how the community relationships are changing. Is there animosity with small business owners towards big chains? How’s the entire culture of the consumer changing?

E: Yeah and there’s a lot of different sides to that I can talk about. What else?

A: Your wife told me about the Walmart that was going to move downtown and how there was a coalition to stop that. Do people now feel that it was for nothing with big businesses still making their way into downtown?

E: Yeah well I think an important thing to note is with the influx of more residential units in town it means that it’s going to be able to support more businesses and the small guys in the market. In my opinion, it’s not necessarily the case that more local businesses will close because of new chains coming. There is more business sort of happening. With more people here the market is growing. So, the hope is that the growth will support everybody.

We were really concerned about Walmart because they don’t play well with other businesses. They seek to drive out other businesses. But Starbucks has been next door to Walker’s for how many years now? You know there’s some businesses that are chains that can coexist with local business and be fine and just sort of draw attention to the area. I’ve talked to some local business owners who thought that it was perfectly fine that Urban Outfitters was coming downtown, because with more people that like to shop there may stop into their store as well. But the concern that I express the most is that people come to Athens and visit Athens because of the local business. It’s something different, because it’s an existing historic downtown area that has unique places to shop. You know?

There’s only so much you can sell to local Athenians because it’s a fixed market. The more we can encourage tourists dollars because tourists are excellent they don’t burden our services they just inject money into the economy. So as a community we should be very conciencious of how we present the downtown area for tourism. Compare us to Asheville.  Somebody who comes to downtown Athens is not gonna look and say “Oh wow, they’ve got subway! Oh wow, they’ve got Urban Outfitters!” You know they can get that anywhere. So what’s so great about Athens.. oh we’ve got Tim Stamey at Native American Gallery. Come over here Tim!

A + K: Hi!

E: I’m doing an interview with these two about local businesses and the downtown district. Tim’s a local business owner with his wife, Jane. They own Native American Gallery. One thing about local business owners too, you’ll find that they’re much more invested in the community. They live here. They work here. It’s not like a corporate office somewhere else.

Passerby politely interrupts and asks for a good spot for lunch. Edwards recommends The Place.

E: So for example, I’m a local attorney downtown and there was a gentleman who lived on the street outside of Tim’s store.

S (Stamey): Actually it was more in the area outside the Red Zone.

E: Tim basically rescued this man and took him off the street. He got financial power of attorney, found him a home..

S: He got him a pro-bono attorney for me.

E: Got his Medicaid and payments set up. Put a roof over his head. You know, that’s something that a local business owner would do. Somebody who’s here as a part of the community. Living and working here everyday.

S: Yeah he was a 70 or 72 year old teenager (laughs). You know, you just can’t be on the streets that old. It took a lot of us [local business owners] and it’s amazing how many people started helping out. People saw what me and Russell were doing more and more. And he had a lot of health issues. It kind of snowballed, it was a big, big undertaking, but he lived three years longer with his health issues. He had a roof over his head.

A: That’s really commendable.

S: Well, should I say his name?

E: Yeah…

S: Rusty Buford.

K: Yeah, were not publishing this.

S: I think we called him our “Champion of Hope.” (laughs)

K: Now would you say that local business owners such as you guys tend to come together in a moment like that?

S: Absolutely. I went up and down the street and everybody seemed to know him. I asked that they help and provide like a character letter about him. How he was harmless out here. Local businesses wrote letters for me and Russell, so when we went before the housing authority to get him housing there was 12 people I think in that meeting. People went down there and showed up on his behalf. They were all from downtown, well, a couple of them were students I believe.

E: Yeah, right.

S: Everybody knew him and another key part of it was Horton’s pharmacy. They had all his prescriptions because of his health issues. I got to know them very well, and they were very helpful. It was not easy. I could have never done it by myself. There were so many people who helped.

K: Now, my side of the story is more on the trend of vintage, and I didn’t know if you could talk to me about that or if I should wait for Airee.

E: Yeah, sure.

(Tim briefly talks to Russell about fixing up the building referenced before)

A + K: (to Tim) Thank you so much. It was nice to meet you.

E: See Tim, is a tenant in this building who’s doing all of the work to get it refurbished, because the owner is…  you know. Tim’s the one that’s taking time out of his day to go to the Historic Preservation Commission and get approval to replace windows. Which really, the owner of the building should be doing that, but anyway.

But yeah, what did you want to ask me about that?
Katelyn questions Tim about Agora and vintage fashions.

Notes to take away from their dialogue:

Started Agora in 2002, sold it a year ago last December. Original store was a co-op. Always a great market for secondhand goods. People are smart and want to make their dollar go further. Trend of secondhand shopping has increased in the past couple years. People want to buy American made- it feels better. Sustainable to shop secondhand.

Most of the vintage shops downtown are locally owned. Shopping at local businesses keeps the money in the local economy. The owner will want to share with local charities or eat at local restaurants. It’s a self sustaining economy.

 

They finish.

A: I quickly just wanted to ask about you and about your specific relationship to Athens. How long have you lived here or worked here?

E:  I’ve lived here since 2007. I moved here to go to law school and graduated in 2010. Been here ever since. Got married to Airee in 2011.

Trucks start roaring, so we decide to move spots. Ask if he wants coffee, but we all have had some. Start walking back to Agora.

A: You found yourself quickly consumed with the community of Athens and the local businesses. Was that because of Airee?

E: Yeah, I got to know Airee. I just enjoyed supporting local businesses, I don’t know what it was. I went to school in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s hard to put into words; the feel you get shopping at a place where you get to know the owner. I started shopping at Agora and I got to know Airee. We became close and started dating. I ran for U.S. congress to represent this district, and I got to know a lot of people that way. At the same time, I was active in the local democratic party, and have been active ever since. I have a radio show every week on Thursdays- today 3 o’clock. I’ve helped a friend of mine get elected to the state house and he’s my radio co-host. Spencer Fry, he’s the executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity. So yeah, I’ve found it very fulfilling to just become a part of the local businesses and local charities. There’s a lot of opportunity in Athens for young people to take a stake in the community. You’ve got these older establishments forces at work, and there’s a lot of opportunity for a young person to come in an just say, “I wanna do this.”

A: What’s your radio show called?

E: It’s called Reppin’ Georgia. It’s on every Thursday from 3:00-4:00 p.m. on 14.70 AM, a local urban station with mostly black radio. 95% of our listenership is black. A lot of gospel music. It’s current events, local and state politics. Right now the Georgia state legislature is in session. We talk a lot about what is happening down in the capital. Mostly with public education right now because there’s so many new laws and education policy. That’s a huge part of the state budget. The state budget is about $46 billion. Half of that comes from the federal government, half of it comes from state taxes, and about $20 billion of the budget goes towards education. About $13 billion going to K-12 and $7 billion going to higher education.

K: So have you always had a strong, activist spirit even before you fought for Walmart to not move in?

E: Yeah I think so. The Walmart fight came after the fight for congress. Airee and I became close campaigning for President Obama. We canvased together and went door to door. I would do little things when I was in law school. I was in this group called the Equal Justice Foundation that raised money for law students. In the law school rotunda, well there’s like three founders. One of them is Thomas Cobb who was a confederate general that helped found the law school after the Civil War. He wrote the only legal treatise that defends slavery. There was a portrait of him in the rotunda wearing full confederate regalia, and me and three of my fellow law students met with the dean one day and said, “You know, there’s another portrait of Thomas Cobb on the third floor where he’s just wearing a suit. He looks like a lawyer. Let’s just switch those portraits. You don’t have to remove it or take it down, let’s just switch them.” So she moved them. Things like that I think matter. If you’re a black person looking to go to law school and the main entrance to the law school you see a confederate general, it doesn’t send the right message.

So yeah to answer your question, I’ve always been conscious of what people could do to make the community a better place.

A: I have no more questions. Is there anything we missed or should have asked that we haven’t?

K: Yeah, were still learning.

E: I don’t think so. Y’all did good. We covered a lot of information.

 

Go back over the idea of ownership downtown and all of the public records about property owners.

We thank him and part ways.

 

 

Beat Report Questions

How do you come at this beat?

  • For me, the most important thing I need to do when coming at the downtown beat is to keep an unbiased eye. I am seriously passionate about this town and am known to root for the local shop owner and band, so I need keep impartial when reporting. I also think a huge part of covering the downtown beat will be interviewing a variety of sources from shop owners, to clients, and competitors, etc.

    In the past couple years there is this new movement of portraying how cool Athens is through groups like My_Athens and Explore Athens, which I completely support. Seeing how I share many views with them and interests for story, I want to insure I find a fresh way to tell the stories of downtown.

What parts of it have you experienced, and in what contexts?

  • Downtown is place I spend a lot of my time in Athens. From dining at various eateries every week to simply walking my Hancock to Clayton route to class, I seem to experience downtown Athens almost everyday. The aspects of the town that I’ve involved myself in the most would be the music scene at the Georgia Theatre and 40 Watt Club, trying out restaurants, and exploring the local shops. I’ve photographed the music scene before, but most of my experience downtown comes from the perspective of a patron.

What makes your perspective different from anyone else’s?

  • I’m someone who really loves the specifics. No matter how small a story or profile may seem, the specifics make the story rich. So, while a huge headline telling you everything you need to know is extremely helpful when skimming the news, the stories I write are about people and what makes that story unique and notable.

And what do you need to learn to orient yourself to this beat?

  • I definitely want to familiarize myself with the shop owners downtown and the workers at local theaters. But also, a story that no one seems to be chasing is how are the new shop owners responding to entering to a predominantly small-business minded town. It’s important to see all sides of the story, including that of the customer. I want to examine how my generation, teachers, and local residents are all responding to these changes downtown and if their opinions differ, why?

What questions do you have and where do you need to go for the answers?

  • Sure, local businesses are in trouble and there’s a new Zaxby’s, but what’s the real story? What are the shop owners opinions and their stories? Who are they? What makes their business or craft special? How do they differentiate themselves from other small businesses or artists?

    Also as said above, new stores come and go here but some have managed to stay. What are the keys to success here? Is it a specific market that’s staying alive or just individual stores?

I need to go straight to the source for some of these questions by speaking with artists, business owners, customers, and competitors to create a well rounded report.