Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pirates Jubilation

It was Pirates’ day, and mine too. It was their third consecutive victory and my first ever experience to watch a baseball game, and at a place not less than the Home of Pirates, PNC Park. It’s surely good luck for a new Pirates supporter, who is learning to love the city, to see the home team finish 3-1. The Pittsburgh Pirates were not ready to let any space to Cincinnati Reds, and simply kept the spectators dancing.
Mascots of the Pirates and the green bird added to audiences' amusement by dancing and shooting hot-dog and T-shirts to different corners. I was simply amazed to see people’s love for the game.
It reminded me how mad people of my country for cricket. Thanks Greg for taking me to the stadium. The fireworks after the match would make the match more memorable. It seemed the whole sky would catch fire any moment.
Watch my videos: * Home of Pirates celebration
* Pirates' victory
Photo: (L) My mentor, Greg Victor, and I posing as the Pirates were preparing to pitch, (R) a Pirates batter -- wearing Jackie Robinson's No. 42 in a show of respect to the baseball great -- hitting a Reds delivery.

being online

I sat with the breaking news section of our online section whole day Thursday to see how the how it functions in terms of collecting reports from reporters and wire services and uploading those. It is because one of my main goals is to learn how the online section functions because I think digital convergence of newspapers has no alternative.
Prior to sitting with the online section, I attended its morning meetings where the plan about days works to have an idea how the plans are implemented. I was very curious especially about uploading audio clips and blogs on the web page.
Besides observing how he receives inputs from reporters, edits and uploads their items, I also wrote two small stories Thursday and saw those being uploaded. I was amazed to see how fast he edits stories besides sorting dispatches from wire services and PR agencies. The news treatment is also a matter of great curiosity because a number of stories and dispatches are coming.
Another online staff was updating the home page continuously with the uploading of new stories; it’s a totally technical matter. Without understanding that much, I just saw her updating the page in moments and posting photographs as required.
I also saw the online function Friday. I sat beside Mike to see how he uploads interactive map to the web page.
It is very interesting to see how the whole section operates – coordinating with reporters covering different events to get their stories, photo slides, audios and blog inputs at the earliest and uploading those.
The online section is hell of team!
The whole operation is aimed at better serving the readers, the effort is tireless and always seeking innovative and interesting ways. That's why I am so much interested in it.

at the court, first time

For the first time in my life, I witnessed a jury trial Monday and Tuesday (Apr 23-24). Accused by a 25-year-old mother of two children of rape in August 2005, an around 55-year-old bartender appeared before the Allegheny County Courthouse with his wife and two children. Although I have seen earlier in movies, the expression of the 14-member jury during the testimony of the complainant and the accused as well as of other witnesses amazed me as they sat without making any reaction the whole time.
The testimony of the complainant, who, I think, failed to provide enough evidence for her claim that the man raped her, and the accused, who was quite furious to the investigating police officer and the prosecutor, was very interesting. Saying that they were mutually making advancement to have sex, the man said both of them, when either of them pointed out about his wife’s possible reaction to the matter, refrained from doing so.
Although the complainant was not consistent in her description and time, the man, for the first time, gave a detail description. He termed inexplicable why praised the woman that night, which ultimately led to the advancement, and repeatedly apologized for his betrayal with his wife. This was, definitely, a strong blow for his teenaged son and daughter sitting in the courtroom. Stepping down from the dock, the man apologized before his children, who were crying silently, repeatedly.
On Apr 25, I went to another court where a homicide case for the murder of 16-year-old Carrick High School student Keith Watts, Jr., on March 16, 2005 in which Howard Kelley, 22, and Jheri L. Matthews, 21, of Mount Oliver, and Shawn Wilmer, 24, of Beltzhoover, have been charged for homicide and conspiracy. It is also a jury trial and the jury comprised 14 members
As Mr. Watts was seated in a car with two others about a block from the school, a passenger in a passing vehicle took aim with a semi-automatic assault rifle, killing him and injuring one of his friends, in a hail of gunfire.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

county sheriff candidate interview

Acting Sheriff Bill Mullen, 60, of Banksville and Damon J. Brown, 44, of Greenfield turned up to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with their own visions to run the office of Sheriff Pete DeFazio, who was first elected in 1997 and resigned on Halloween before pleading guilty to shaking down employees for campaign contributions.
Mullen, who has been serving as acting sheriff since November 2006 reorganized the duties of supervisors and reduced annual budget by $500,000, mostly by cutting overtime besides introducing "Most Wanted" web sites featuring deadbeat parents and violent offenders.
Brown, a trainer of civilian police abroad countries for U.S. State Department, is for more specialized training for deputies, including for hostage, bomb and armed criminal situations. Besides reviewing and revamping emergency contingency plans, he hopes to improve police relations with youngsters through a police athletic league.
After democratic voters in the May 15 primary select from Mullen, Brown, and Anthony Costa, 55, of Swissvale, the winner will square off against lone Republican, Edward J. Kress, 35, of Shaler, in the November general election.

Monday, April 23, 2007

indiana jungle beauties

I had a great time with jungle beauties at Indianapolis Zoo on Apr 21, kept on clicking, especially of the dolphin show.

to speed and to strive

Minutes into my coming out of the Indianapolis airport Wednesday (Apr 18), Matt Fox of Indiana Council on World Affairs simply made me happy. “Let’s go to the speedtrack,” deserves no refusal, and I found myself gazing, mesmerized, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This is the track where the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, often shortened to Indianapolis 500 or Indy 500, and historically known simply as 'The 500,' is held annually over the Memorial Day weekend. 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' is one of the oldest and richest motorsport events in existence, having the largest attendance and one of the largest radio and television audiences of any single-day sporting event worldwide.
I had more to be surprised. never before we entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, he had told me that about 75 vehicles including many which won the race through years are on display. I just kept on clicking my camera as I encountered the beauty of the bygone ages. The museum is recognized as one of the most highly visible museums in the world devoted to automobiles and auto racing.

With my thirst to know more growing, we got on a bus that took us around the the track.
I felt the track, gasoline stations, media station, drivers and visitors' parkway, and even the grasses of the speedway, as if, had something to tell us, as I was listening to a recorded description of the track and the events -- three of separate kind taking place around the year.
Besides there are pre- and post-race traditions that also attract a huge spectators from acorss the globe.

Photos: (L) Cover of Speed Age magazine, showing start of first Indianapolis 500; (R) the media complex

Friday, April 20, 2007

international presentation

For even a single moment I could not feel how one hour passed by as I was talking on the misdeeds of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats of my country. Mostly elderly persons, the audience at my presentation at Indiana Council on World Affairs wednesday took cues from my speech.
As i was attending their questions, I felt I did not fail to hold my audience's attention throughout the whole presentation. Besides asking about corruption, people's reaction to the rule of a military-backed interim government, the audience was also curious about women empowerment, natural calamities, environmental degradation, religious fanaticism and role of journalists.
While replying, I rediscovered the confidence that spurred me in my worst days to stride ahead. Didn't I bleed inside too when an elderly lady asked me where I got the leadership spirit that made me stand up for my fellow countrymen and clasp to an optimism to dream even under such a darkened sky? Yes, I am rediscovering how much I miss my country, and learning to love it more. I don't know why I get my eyes wet.

Monday, April 16, 2007

studying newspaper

Last week made me confident: the kind of hesitation and lack of confidence in talking with American people, interviewing them over phone and writing stories after verifying the information are not that hard task to me any more as I first feared and felt. I did not write any major story, only wrote obituaries, made stories from press releases and covered a hearing on Food Stamp program. But these were not at all insignificant.
I thank my mentor and editors here in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette very much because they did not ask me first to come up with big ideas and write major stories. It helped me a lot to get used to talking with people and learn how the newsroom works as they asked me to do these stories. In fact, it was a kickstart that I needed, and my office did not let me worry a little bit about it. I found the stage was already set for me.
I am now quite comfortable with the software the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uses, and reading our stylebook and getting to learn the newspaper policy. I had to struggle and literally run to escape the chill of cold as there was snowfall and rain last week. I've bought an umbrella but it's certainly of little help to save you from the chill -- either of cold or rain -- when you walk on the bridge and it takes about 10 minutes to cross the river.
Although I had earlier shared with my colleagues my experience as a journalist in Bangladesh and what are going on in Bangladesh now, I had a brown bag lunch Wednesday at my office where i made a presentation on the same topics and took questions from my colleagues. While I am abroad, I am learning more and more about my country.
As the weekend was approaching, i truly felt very good at the thought that I’ll not need to go out in the cold. And my mentor Greg was simply great. Half an hour before I would leave office Friday, he invited me to dinner with his family, and there was no reason for me to miss the chance. Greg, his wife Rekha are very nice me.
Although I had an invitation to newspaper guild dinner Saturday, I didn't feel like attending it as it was very cold. But Greg, his sons Nik and Peter would not let me stay alone. I had a very good time Sunday. Although it was raining, we drove to the downtown, had lunch out there, visited Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning, the largest roman catholic church in Pittsburgh and several beautiful places.
I was otherwise bogged down Saturday and Sunday preparing for my April 18 presentation at Indiana Council on World Affairs. Hope everything will be fine there; I feel a little bit tension because it is my first such presentation.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Thursday, April 5, 2007

got my first story published

I had a sigh of relief when i saw my first story in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It was the first task I was given and I made no mistake. Although it was just an obituary, you know, it is the first impression thing. The city editor just said we do not need to write anything about profession of the dead person's sons and daughters. Bingo, hail Rafael!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

first dayout

Shadowing a senior reporter, I went to Regent Square in the city at 3:30 p.m. today to cover the launch of an overhead pedestrian flasher. It may mean a little to many, but it's the first instance in Pittsburgh that private citizens offered to pay for a traffic safety improvement. And it has a tragic story. Evelyn Wei, 26-year-old scientific researcher at UPMC, was struck and killed by a car when she was crossing Braddock Avenue in the area in January 2004. Her parents, Donald and Yuling Wei represented by Pittsburgh attorney John P. Gismondi, filed a civil suit against city and had rule in their favor in September 2005. The parents and the attorney have even share in the donation of $20,000 for installing the overhead flasher, which the parents along with the city officials activated at 3:35 p.m. it will be dark until activated by a pedestrian wishing to cross the road.
And I feel a bit frustrated that I don't have any part in writing such a 'first ever incident' story. I saw the parents' choked eyes as they were crossing the road after activating the signal. No doubt they'll fail to hold the tears when they are home.

welcome misfortune

down i fly for the iron city
It’ll definitely be over two hours that my mentor and I had to observe what other people in front of us were doing as we were standing in the cue for getting our boarding passes. And we had our luggage checked before we found a space to let our legs have a refuge. We were, however, happy that we finally were going to get on board the aircraft scheduled to take off at 11:39 a.m. but why would it be so smooth? There was an announcement minutes before we were hoping to be in the air: "US Airways Flight 4635 has been cancelled." I truly felt I would fall on the ground anytime, but my mentor would not let me do so. He is smart enough to work out an alternative quickly, and succeeded: we decided to hire a car and drive all the way to Pittsburgh. After getting our luggages back half an hour later, we started for Pittsburgh, and had dinner with Greg's family in the downtown of the steel city. All the way to Pittsburgh, I just felt it is a beautiful country, and was never tired to mention it. I am sure you're not thinking that I forgot to click a few hundred times. It’s fun.