Friday, November 18, 2005

Musical Rebirth

The sound of music is coming back to New Orleans as musicians, whose lives were uprooted by Katrina, bring jazz back to the city's streets and clubs. Jeffrey Brown of PBS' The News Hour with Jim Lehrer brings us these sounds of hope mixed with frustration in his lively "Music Returns to New Orleans."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Abandoning the Elderly

The Los Angeles Times has been running a terrific series this week on how the institutions that are supposed to protect California's aged and infirm are failing miserably. In "Guardians for Profit," Robin Fields, Evelyn Larrubia and Jack Leonard trace how conservators, public guardians and the courts have neglected some of our most vulnerable citizens. In one stunning example, they show how the Los Angeles Public Guardian's Office turns away more than four of five aged citizens referred for help and how at least "660 seniors have died since 1998 waiting for the public guardian to decide whether to assist them.",0,7048390.special

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

After the Flood

I'm glad so many reporters are still telling the stories of people whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This morning NPR's Morning Edition ran an excellent story by Kathy Lohr about families who are stuck in the D'Iberville, Miss., civic center because they have nowhere else to go. Lohr's "Rebuilding Lives from a Mississippi Shelter" captures the frustration in the voices of these people who desperately want to return to their own homes.
Another great story appeared a few weeks back in the San Diego Union-Tribune. In "Unsettled in San Diego," Jenifer Goodwin tells of Trent Lowe, a New Orleans teen born without arms or legs, who is learning how to survive in a strange city without the motorized wheelchair, lost to Katrina, that gave him his independence.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Uncharitable Deeds

Many groups that claim to be raising money to give food, clothing and shelter to veterans are giving the bulk of their money to professional fund-raisers and the so-called charities' officers, Matthew Kauffman of the Hartford Courant reports. In his detailed investigation, "Charities' Costs Sap Aid For Vets," Kauffman gives the example of one entrepreneur whose four "charities" for veterans raised nearly $1 million in one year but used none of it to help actual veterans. Kauffman offers example after example to show how inefficiently some of these groups spend their money. The shame of it all is that so many veterans actually do need help, and these groups take advantage of Americans patriotic desire to help them.,0,2361826.story?coll=hc-headlines-home.

Monday, November 14, 2005


It's rare that any media outlets give journalists a full year to work on a story. Congratulations to the Rocky Mountain News for allowing reporter Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler to spend a year with the Marines stationed at Colorado's Buckley Air Force Base who must notify families of the deaths of their loved ones in Iraq. The resulting story, "Final Salute," is stunning. By following Maj. Steve Beck as he helps grieving families, Sheeler and Heisler create a portrait of courage, sensitivity, patriotism and friendship.
Note: John Temple, the Rocky Mountain News' editor, publisher and president tells me that Sheeler and Heisler worked on other stories during the year they worked on "Final Salute." But it is still impressive that Temple and the other editors made such a long-term commitment to this worthy story.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Success at any Cost

Families are willing to spend thousands of dollars to give their children an extra advantage in competitive sports, Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer has found. In "Paying for That Edge: No Guarantees Come with Pressure to Spend," Russell asked 30 families to figure how much they spent last year on "club teams, personalized training, camps, clinics, tours and other year-round athletic services for their kids." The families averaged $6,100 per child. Along with the numbers, Russell's story provides telling anecdotes about a troubling trend in American society.

The Great Home Divide

Here's another Gem from my very own Windy City (which is living up to its name today as the fall leaves blow down the street). Cheryl L. Reed and Monifa Thomas of the Chicago Sun-Times report that home values in African-American neighborhoods don't appreciate as quickly as those in white neighborhoods, even when the homes are of comparable quality. In "Blacks Hurt by Gap in Home Values, " Reed and Thomas use U.S. Census and Realtor data to show that this disparity in home values makes it harder for blacks to accumulate wealth. One startling fact from this story: While black workers make 78 cents for every dollar that white workers make, black assets total 10 cents for every dollar of assets owned by whites. Today's story is the first in a three-part series the Sun-Times is running called "The Middle Class Divide." I'll confess that I'm partial toward Thomas' work because she's a former student of mine -- way to go Monifa!
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