Monday, July 24, 2006

Bee Season

News Gems readers have pointed me to a couple of outstanding series in the Sacramento Bee. "A Mother's Journey" by reporter Cynthia Hubert and photographer Renée C. Byer follows single mom Cyndie French as she struggles to care for her son Derek after he is diagnosed with cancer. Hubert's rich details and crisp sentences make her writing compelling, and Byer's photos grabbed my heart. I'm impressed with the trust they must have earned in order to spend so much time with French and her family during their medical and personal odyssey. Dan Nguyen of the Bee deserves credit for letting me know about his colleagues' great work.

The Bee launched another remarkable series in November describing the plight of migrant workers, known as pineros, who toil under a U.S. government program that takes care of our forests. "The Pineros: Men of the Pines" by reporter Tom Knudson and photographer Hector Amezcua exposes these guest workers' dangerous jobs, miserable conditions and low pay. To learn about the pineros, Amezcua and Knudson read 5,000 pages of records obtained using the Freedom of Information Act and conducted more than 150 interviews across the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala. The interactive Web package includes photos by Amezcua, snapshots of guest workers who have died on the job, video interviews with pineros, and links to documents that reveal government indifference to working conditions.

This series has already won a bunch of awards, and the Bee continues to update it as legislation dealing with the forestry program moves through Congress. Thanks to loyal friend Alysia Tate, publisher of The Chicago Reporter, for suggesting this series to me.


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