Friday, February 20, 2009

This Will Not Be A Quick One: My Ode To New Journalism

Full disclosure: I have been a weekly blogger for NYU Local since last August, but am not an entirely active member. I do pithy posts about New York City and the occasional event coverage, but that is usually it. I was not informed about this sit-in or Charlie's embed; I learned about it the same way as the rest of NYU did- by reading NYU Local.

I don't have much of an audience here but the ones who do know me know that I love journalism and everything to do with it. Those who know me better know that I am an old man when it comes to it– I have always preferred print, even if I do enjoy blogging. So you can imagine my sadness when I read articles about the impending demise of print or how the greatest newspaper is strategizing on how to survive to recession.

But last night, something happened at New York University– or more specifically, at NYU Local– that has made me so excited about the future of journalism. Take Back NYU!, a student-run group, barricaded themselves into the Kimmel Center (for non-NYUers, that acts sort of like a resource center/cafeteria/study area/hangout spot) in order to get their demands met by NYU. They are conducting a sit-in, ladies and gents, like New School did last year to protest against their president. But that's not why I am excited.

Here's why I am excited: My editors at NYU Local heard about it on Tuesday so they planned to get Charlie Eisenhood, the National Editor, to be in Kimmel with his laptop, camera, and camcorder so that he could follow this entire thing. So since 9 pm on February 18, Charlie has been at Kimmel live-blogging his heart out for all the world to see (and criticize, if you check out some of the comments.) He has added pictures, conducted interviews with various members of TBNYU!, and put up videos of the barricades being barged by students wanting to join the protests. And yes, it's not a hundred percent objective, a la The New York Times, but it is so easy to read and follow everything that is going on with Charlie's easy wit and matter-of-fact observations.

Not only that, NYU Local has supplemented Charlie's live-blogging with other related posts, like the op-eds from each differing end, the surveys on whether or not kids or going to get arrested, student opinions of the TBNYU! sit-in! This is an entirely new and interactive way to experience news, and I am absolutely going crazy for it! There is so much to know and so much to read, and some might complain it's an information-overload, but I think that if you don't want to read it, just don't click it. It's so easy and yet so much fun.

The sit-in has entered its 30th hour, and Charlie has just signed off stating sleep as a reason (Sleep is for the weak!- I kid. Charlie might be my new hero.) But I have been absolutely exhilarated throughout this entire thing, refreshing and re-refreshing my page and the NYU Local Twitter page for new information like my life depends on that periodic click of my mouse.

Is it because I care about TBNYU!'s demands being answered, or even about Kimmel being taken over? Hell to the no: I think TBNYU! is wasting their time and NYU's resources; and I never go to Kimmel anyway. But I care so much about this production because it has finally shown me that there is hope for new journalism. It's not going to be all about snarkiness and super-biased opinions from some supposed expert. In the last day and a half, NYU Local has shown me that blogging the news can actually be productive, informative, and educational. And sure, there was some sarcasm from Charlie's end, but that's what made his posts so addicting. He was never either malicious or excitedly supportive (except when it came to the food being brought in for protesters) about TBNYU!'s agenda. I think Charlie steered a great middle between being newspaper-objective and omg-bloggzz-unobjective, and it just makes me so happy to be able to see this at work.

Is my optimism coming a little too soon? I don't know. And please, don't label me as a total convert to new journalism. The newspaper is irreplaceable in my heart and I will always love the feeling of getting the paper in the morning (before it gets stolen- YES!) But I think that whatever comes next could really add to the newspaper, not suffocate it.

That is, if newspapers don't choke themselves to debt before it happens.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pest Control Overkill

I was walking around Brooklyn last weekend, near the southwest end of Prospect Park, and I came upon this.

I must say, I thought it was a little out of control. But at least now if I ever need an exterminator, I know where to find one that takes its job (too) seriously. Or not seriously at all, however way you wish to look at it.

Singapore Over Winter Break– Long Overdue

Over winter break, I spent two weeks in Singapore, just hanging out with family and old friends. I spent 10 years of my childhood there, so I have very fond memories of it– one of my friends remarked that I probably have a very romanticized view of Singapore. Maybe, I don't know. Anyway, I think the country has changed so much in terms of the landscape. There are some buildings that I didn't recognize, which was rather sad for me because, in a strange way, it made me feel less Singaporean. I guess that's what happens when you leave a country for more than 8 years.

This was one of my favorite shots of Singapore. I find it really hard to shoot at night because I hate using flash but I don't have a tripod so everything usually comes out blurry. But I liked this shot alot because of how everything is dark and orange.

Chinatown is all decked out for Chinese New Year, which was so early this year. It was like in the end of January/beginning of February– Chinese New Year usually falls in mid February so this year was extremely unusual.

Singapore Supreme Court.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Piano In The Subway

I snapped this photo at the Union Square subway station. My first thought was, how in the world did he get the piano down here? Some guy asked him, and he simply gestured towards himself, but didn't say a word. Anyway, he rocked out at the piano- played some classical and some Coldplay.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pixelated New York City

I have been neglecting this blog and my news blog for the past three months, but I will try my best to be more diligent in my blogging since I have an audience now (Hi Cynthia! It's just you I am referring to, by the way.)

Anyway, these Lego depictions of New York City showed up on the Gothamist, and they made me so happy that I just need to share them. These are all done by Christoph Niemann, who is an artist who has previously designed covers for the New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. He is also the author of a fun Chinese children's book, The Pet Dragon, that teaches Chinese characters to children.

I used to work near this street, so the above image is quite accurate.

The waitress in me smiles at this.

Honestly, any person who tries to make learning Chinese easier for children is good in my book.