BETH CORTEZ-NEAVEL multimedia journalist
I'm a freelance multimedia journalist living in Austin, Texas. I report on education, social welfare, reproductive health, food culture, religion and general tomfoolery.
In October, I covered the ONA 2013 Conference as part of the Student Newsroom. Over the summer I traveled to Germany and Poland as a FASPE 2013 Journalism fellow, where I and 13 other journalists discussed ethical issues in contemporary and Nazi-era journalism. And last spring, I survived reporting the raucous 83rd Texas legislative session for the Texas Observer.
Written for the 2013 Journalism program with the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.
On April 15 the Associated Press predicted participants in the 117th Boston Marathon would have the “perfect running weather” – cloudy and somewhere in the mid-50s – by the time most of them reached the finish line. The race began at 9 a.m. That afternoon, news media all over the country were scrambling to report on the deadly explosions near the end of the Marathon route at Copley Square. Most of the 23,000 marathon participants had already crossed the finish line before two bombs went off within seconds of each other just before 3 p.m. But thousands were still running and sideline supporters were waiting for them at the finish line. After the smoke cleared, three people were dead and more than 200 injured.
Two days later and almost 2,000 miles away, massive amounts of ammonium nitrate in a fertilizer plant in West, Texas caught fire and exploded into a confusion of smoke and flame. At least 15 people were killed and more than 180 people were injured from the evening explosion. Almost 80 homes and businesses, including a nearby apartment complex, a middle school and a nursing home were severely damaged. About half the town of West was evacuated.
Both tragic events involved immediate, up-to-the-minute breaking news reporting. Both required days of clean up and weeks of investigation into the people and science behind the explosions. With very little time and planning, editors at various media outlets had to judge, among other things, what the stories were, how much coverage each disaster and its aftermath would get each day, the number of words per story and where the stories would run. Would a story make it to the front page of the paper or the home page of the website?
Austin was abuzz with orange again Monday, but it wasn't for the usual University of Texas football game.
Thousands of people from across Texas convened at the south capitol steps on the first day of the second Special Legislative Session. Men and women of all ages dressed in orange to show their support for Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) and to "Stand with Texas Women."
Although there were a few pro-life protestors in the mix, the majority of the crown were protesting abortion legislation that had ben blocked by Davis' 11-hour filibuster last week on the last day of the first 83rd Legislative Special Session.
Determined to press the issue, Governor Rick Perry called a second special session to once again address abortion regulation, along with criminal justice legislation and transportation legislation that also did not get heard the first time around.
My paperwork had been evaluated. I'm a Master's Graduate. The evaluator let me choose a notecard with a quote on... http://t.co/sWOILMuprF
Got my first signature! Next step: second signature and then turn that mofo in.
Go in peace, Mandela.
RT @TxFOIFT: FOI Fact: If an agency requests />$40 for the release of public info, they're required by law to provide an itemized statement of costs.
Captain's Log. Stardate 91524.33. The hapless graduate student is still orbiting around a certain Master's... http://t.co/VtRJyCZYYD