Sunday, April 05, 2009
Unconventional Journalism Gathering Provides Encounter, Reporting Experience
HOLLYWOOD, Fla.-- When most people think of Hollywood, Florida, they probably don’t think of being homeless or mentally disabled.
Tonight I came face-to-face with both types of Hollywood, Fla. Residents working as a journalist on assignment—an assignment that I won’t soon forget.
For a mere six hours, I and nearly two dozen fellow journalists, mostly from the state of Florida became the staff of The Homeless Voice, one of the nation’s largest newspapers focused on those who are without a place to live.
As the culminating event of our Society of Professional Journalists Southeastern Regional Conference, we decided to do journalism instead of just talking about. In the process, we believe did a public service by increasing public affairness of the good things that are happening even among those who might have fallen on hard times.
Thanks to Sean Cononie, the man behind the publication and the Cosac Foundation's Homeless Assistance Center, we were able to quickly integrate into the environment of his operation while learning a great deal about what it means to be homeless.
My role in all of this was to complete a feature on a new art gallery featuring works of arts of those Cosac's clients and those donated by the general public here.
The founder/director of the Cosac Homeless Assistance Center, Sean Cononie, actually did much of the art as an outlet to help him deal with stress.
He has already posted many of the pieces on a Web site promoting the gallery.
After a spaghetti dinner with some of the center’s clients and a brief tour of the facility, I settled into the task of gathering information, conducting interviews and producing the audio for an Audio slide show of some of the art.
As it turns out, another Florida newspaper had already published an article on the gallery. So, the first thing I had to determine was what would I report NEW on the gallery.
I decided to focus my attention on the preparations for an art auction that is later this month.
Thanks to the great work of photojournalist and Gulf Coast University student Carlos Calente, I got most of my work done by midnight.