Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bayou LaBatre, Ala.-- More than Mobile

MOBILE, Ala.-- After a l--o--n---g drive from the northernmost point of Alabama down I-65 to the southernmost point-- Mobile, to Interstate 10-- we are now in City #3 on our "Seven Cities, Six Weeks" tour.

Specifically, I was going to Alma Bryant High School where students there have received a grant from the Radio-Television News Directors Association to bring podcasting to their broadcasting program.

As the author of a soon-to-be-releaesd "Teaching with Podcasting" DVD, I wanted to use Alma Bryant as a place to pilot-test some of ideas for the DVD. Well, I got an eyeful.

First of all, I didn't realize how big the Mobile area really is.

On Sunday, I stayed in Saraland, Ala. before venturing down to Bayou LaBatre (I just learned how to spell that word)

Because of its distance from Tuscaloosa (about 3-4 hours), Mobile is one of the few cities I have only visited a couple of times-- both before I moved to Alabama.

On each of my previous visits, I was enroute to either New Orleans or Tallahassee (long story, I'll explain that one another time).

This time, I ventured well off Interstate 10 down to an area that is right in the "line of fire" so to speak (how's that for a cliche) when hurricanes come ashore.

Alma Bryant is a beautiful high school and folks there were S--O nice. I plan to make a return visit in the fall semester.

As for the rest of the Mobile area, well my second stop of the day was at the Mobile Register, where the Business Editor, K.A. Turner, gave me a quick tour of one of the nicest newspaper facilitiss in Alabama.

My photos are really bad. But, I did get an ok shot of the distribution room where all the Press-Register newspapers are assembled.

All in all, this first visit to downtown Mobile was a quick, but good one.

Later this summer-- in July-- I will go back to the area-- to Orange Beach, Ala. for the Alabama Press Association's Summer Convention. I plan to get some better shots of the newspaper building then.

City #2- Nashville, TN

NASHVILLE-- Even though Nashville is listed as one of those datelines that does not require a state abbreviation, I thought it was important to remind you that I'm in Music City.

I few years ago when I visited Indiana University, I learned there is also a Nasvhille, Indiana There is a Nashville, Indiana located in Brown County just miles from the IU main campus.

On May 5, I made the three-and-a-half hour drive from Tuscaloosa to Nashville for the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards program. It's one of several opportunities we have to see some of the BEST journalism being produced.

The Green Eyeshade program is a regional competition that involves states in the Southeast.

I'll have to make a separate posting on the ceremony itself. For now, I'll share some of the sites.

The Tennessee State Capitol is one of the first sites I'll share. I didn't get a chance to go inside. But, before leaving town on Sunday, I drove downtown to see the building located on a high hill. This area was a federal fort during the period of Union occupation. The building was completed in 1859.

Also on Sunday, I attended church at Mt. Zion Baptist where Bishop Joseph Walker is the senior pastor. I've been blessed before by Bishop Walker's teaching via the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

It was a totally differenr thing to be in worship with the thousands who are members of his church, which three locations in the Nashville metropolitan area.

You can see from the sign on the church's marquee that it's a church that ministers to all of the needs of its congregants.. even those who are divorced.

After church, I briefly drove through the Vanderbilt Campus, which one of the only two SEC (Southeastern Conference) schools I had not previously visited (the other is in Oxford, Mississippi). Well, actually, I had been to Nashville closeby before-- but it was not as extensive as my trip this time.

Jackson, Miss- The Starting Point

JACKSON, Miss.-- How appropriate to begin my "Seven Cities, Six Weeks" Tour in the Mississippi State Capital. It's the place where a high-profile civil rights case is going to trial.

James Seale is being tried on federal kidnapping and conspiracy charts in the 1964 deaths of two black teens. It is refreshing to see the Clarion-Ledger taking a position on the importance of the trials on its editorial pages.

Not related to the trial, however, my experience making this journey on May 1 was to visit the campus of Jackson State University.

I am fortunate to be serving on a doctoral dissertation committee for a student at Jackson State. It's not only a chance for to see this colleague complete her terminal degree, but also a chance to visit another historically black college or university.

As a product of an HBCU (Howard U.), I have a special place in my heart for these schools that educate more African-Americans than any other institution for careers in journalism and mass communication. Today, Jackson State University has the nation's only E-Ph.D. or Executive Ph.D. program in urban higher education.

That's where I visited on May 1.

I didn't walk the grounds of the main campus. Instead, I spent most of the day at the Jake Ayers Institute for Urban Higher Education, which is in the same building as the University's TV station, TV 23.

I got to tour the facility and speak with one of the production assistants who shoots and edits local content for the station, which up until recently aired programming from the Black Family Channel.

After meeting on the JSU campus, I ventured downtown to see the Mississippi State Capitol. Unfortunately, time did not permit me to go inside to see the hub of Mississippi's state government. But, at least I know where it is -- just off Interstate 55.

City #5- Atlanta, Ga.

ATLANTA-- Tonight we end the month of May as we began—on the road. I never posted my updates from City #1, City #2 or City #3 on the Seven Cities, Six Weeks Tour. (That’s coming, I promise) But, it all began May 1.

City #5 is Atlanta, Georgia.. another state capital. That makes THREE State Capitals I’ve visited (four if you include one I drove through) within the last 30 days.

The important components of these visits are the sites, sounds and the experiences. Since I’ve lived here before, Atlanta is not really a visit. Instead, it’s a reunion.

There aren’t many sites and sounds to take in from Interstate 20, which is about all I have seen today. (We’ll see how bad morning traffic is tomorrow)

The occasion: taking a flight on AirTran Airlines or is it AirTran Airways? I’ll have to check that out later.

I usually fly either Delta or Southwest Airlines. But, this trip to the Society of Professional Journalists Scripps Leadership Institute is being funded through the SPJ Headquarters, which uses a travel agency.

These days many of us have become accustomed to air travel with electronic tickets—the ones that are e-mailed to us and we check-in online printing our own boarding passes.

Well, when you use a travel agency, you have to get a paper ticket. So, I’ll have to go through the old-fashioned check-in with my paper ticket tomorrow morning at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport, which just celebrated the one-year anniversary (a term that is stylistically incorrect according to the latest Associated Press Stylebook) of its newest runway.

So, greetings from Georgia’s Capital City—the former Olympic City—Atlanta!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

City #4- Chicago- A Day At Navy Pier

CHICAGO- The 3:30 a.m. wake-up was necessary to visit the Windy City in a day and still come back to Tuscaloosa.

We landed at Midway Airport by just about 8:15 a.m.

The cab ride from Midway to Navy Pier was a not a short (or a cheap) one-- a $30 one at that.

And than, there's Navy Pier- HUGE- JUST HUGE! I made the mistake of coming in the wrong end of this attraction and we walked and we walked and we walked all the way to the other end of the Pier-- the more scenic end where 500+ people were already in place for the Adobe CS3 Creative License Conference.

This above photo was taken from the other side of the room where more than 500 people turned for the first in a series of one day conferences. The photographer, Terry White, wrote more about today's conference on his blog.

He was the main presenter at the conference, about which I'll write more later.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Summer Travel Log Begins

Even though it was TWO weeks ago today that I began a seven-city swing to places in the eastern United States, I am just getting around to starting my online journal of what I learned from each of these places.

As the rough artwork depicts-- I'm calling this "SEVEN CITIES, Six Weeks" as a way to tie together what I expect will be a long series of postings.

My goal is to present in a multimedia fashion, a series of reports, updates, lessons learned, reflections, etc on my experiences in the places to which I travel between May 1 and June 23, 2007. (Yes, technically that's a slight bit over six week-- but you get the picture).

Starting on Tuesday May 1, I visited the Westernmost city on the tour-- Jackson, Mississippi. That was followed on May 5 with a stop in Nashville, Tennessee. Then on Sunday May 6, I arrived in Mobile, Alabama.

Tomorrow, May 16, I will be back on the road again for a one-day excursion to the Windy City of Chicago, which will be followed roughly two weeks from now to the Indiana State Capital-- Indianapolis on June 1.

In between Chicago and Indianapolis, I will make a very brief stop in the Georgia capital city of Atlanta.

The Seventh and final city on the schedule is Columbia, South Carolina. Yes, there will be worthwhile points in between to mention. My datelines will let you know the places from which I was filing.

You'll notice in the list of stops are visit state capitals. I hope to visit the actual state capitol in the state capital while I am there.

The experience of blogging over this period of time is teaching me just how difficult it is to keep an online journal-- keep it up, update it and present different content that is interesting and compelling to read and enjoy.

Why do we do these travel logs? What is the benefit of multimedia journalism? And, what does providing this kind of insight do to the reporting experience? Those are some the questions I hope to answer as I go along this personal summer journey.

On some legs of this trip, I'll have postings with a timeline to share as I make the more interesting aspects of the trip real -- while on others it will be a traditional journalistic endeavor of writing a story that has an interesting hook or compelling lead or exciting quotation.

The dates of the postings may not necessarily correspond to the day the trip was taken. That's all a product of where I am and the nature of the computer access I have along the way.

Well we have an early start tomorrow-- with a 6:40 flight from Birmingham. So, we'll call it a night.