Monday, September 28, 2009

Back To Basics

Last week I got schooled, but it was a good thing. I needed someone to show me how to cover a collision scene more thoroughly and that’s exactly what I got.

I was covering a one-car collision that killed one 16-year-old and left two other teenagers in serious condition with Las Vegas Sun reporter Jean Reid Norman. I learned a lot from Norman about how to work with information and listen carefully for what you might need. Even though neighbors nearby might ramble and have no useful information, they might slip up and say something beneficial.

I’ve covered crime before but never vehicle accidents. I felt like I grew as a journalist by working with her that day. She taught me things and I feel like I’m a better journalist because of it. So yes, I got schooled and it was totally worth it.

For the weekend, I covered a walk to raise awareness about child trafficking and prostitution. Even though I wasn’t covering breaking news, I still used some of the techniques that Jean taught me. I think the story turned out well because I was willing and able to dig a little deeper.

Here are the links for the stories I’m talking about.

Group rallies to bring attention to child prostitution

Teen dies after SUV hits block wall

Friends gather to mourn Del Sol High School student killed in crash

I also got to know my co-workers better this weekend. Videographer and former anchor Denise Spidle invited me to a potluck dinner at her house. The entire office team showed up, and I had a great time getting to know everyone better.

Denise is also helping me learn Final Cut Pro. I’m so excited about this! And the best part is I might be able to start shooting videos soon. I’m already getting to shoot pictures and post galleries, but video is my ultimate goal. Plus, videographers are using my dream camera that I wanted for Sidelines. That’s right. I will actually get to use an AG-DVX100B Panasonic camera! Did I mention I’m excited about this? Haha.

In addition to video training, I will be covering more court cases, which is pretty awesome in my book. I will also be writing a feature sports piece on BMX rider Nathan Berkheimer. It’s too bad I won’t actually get to meet him, but it’s still a story.

It’s only Monday and the week is filling up fast. Man, I love my job! ☺

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Holocaust survivor speaks to students about painful memories

Holocaust survivor Ben Lesser doesn’t need a serial number tattoo to remind him of his childhood spent in a concentration camp. He said he will have the experience etched in his mind forever.

During his time imprisoned by the Nazis, Lesser witnessed innumerable horrors. He was pistol whipped, starved and stabbed. He lost family members. But he never lost his faith, he said.

“Why was I so fortunate to live?” Lesser said. “God needed a witness.”

To cope with his memories, Lesser said, one of the most therapeutic exercises is sharing his story with younger generations. On Tuesday, he told his story to more than 300 students at the Las Vegas Academy, 315 South 7th St.

Lesser described the experience as “five years of living hell on earth.” He said he lost everyone in his family except for his sister Lola, who is an artist in New York. She has painted several pieces of her memories from a Jewish ghetto in Poland, he said.

In 1944, Lesser said he was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he lost the remaining members of his family. Lesser said he had to fall asleep at night to the sound of people screaming and burning in fire pits.

“Fire is one of the methods that [Adolf] Hilter used to almost completely annihilate the Jewish population of the earth,” Lesser said.

Lesser asked students to never forget the Holocaust. He handed out 300 “remembrance” pins from his Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation. Lesser said he received his first pin from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and has since given out 25,000 pins.

In conjunction with Lesser’s speech, the Las Vegas Academy Theatre is putting on a play called “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.”

Director Melissa Lilly said the play is based on the true story of an art teacher named Raja Englanderova, who was sent to a concentration camp and survived through art. She said lead actress Rebecca Carrol contacted Lesser and asked him to come speak to the cast.

Junior Sarah Niederman said she met Lesser after winning an essay contest in middle school. She said Lesser’s message and appearance is important to students because there aren’t many Holocaust survivors left.

“We are the last generation and soon there will only be newsreels and books,” Niederman said. She said that technology will not be able to replace the feeling everyone in the room felt during Lesser’s speech.

“I Never Saw Another Butterfly” will premiere on Oct. 8 at the Las Vegas Academy Black Box Theatre, 315 South 7th St., with an admission of $10.

Listen to the full audio track here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vegas Diaries: Up To Speed

Hey everyone!
Sorry I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ve just been so busy with work and school that I haven’t had the chance to. I do have some good news, though.

Last Friday, I covered a majority of the Sept. 11 events happening in the area and my story actually made centerpiece on the Web site. I didn’t get to see it because I was running around all day, but my boss Tim took a screen shot for me.

The weekend went well, although I was a little bored. I have got to get out and make some friends in this place.

On Sunday I drove to Phoenix, Arizona to watch the Phoenix Mercury play the L.A. Sparks. It was amazing! When I moved to Las Vegas I knew I would be in between the two states that host my two favorite teams in the WNBA. I thought I was going to have to pick one of the other, but turns out I was lucky. Too bad Diana Taurasi didn’t play. Stupid playoffs. Anyway, I have pictures that I will be sure to post. ☺ Oh, did I mention I almost got an autograph from Candace Parker? If I had worn my orange and represented then maybe I would have an autograph right now. I blame Richard lol.

Monday was an OK day. I covered a court hearing and got lost in the Justice Center. I guess that’s bound to happen your first time, especially when there are 17 floors. Here is a link to my story for the Las Vegas Sun.

The day got better and by Monday night I had forgotten all about my troubles at the Justice Center. I covered an open forum at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada held by the Secretary of State Ross Miller. The forum was to educate same-sex and heterosexual couples about the new domestic partnership bill.

I learned a lot about Nevada last night. Certain companies refuse to give health insurance to domestic partners and adoption is still an issue. In Tennessee, being gay is still the biggest obstacle. I stood listening to all the panelists and political figures speak, and it saddened me to know that Tennessee has a long way to go before it ever reaches that point.

Here is the link to the story.

Tuesday was definitely a better day. I woke up this morning and traveled to the Henderson Justice Center to cover a preliminary hearing for a 19-year-old woman who is accused of suffocating her newborn son. The hearing was the last thing on the calendar, but I really didn’t mind waiting. In fact, I really like covering court cases.

After waiting three hours, the hearing was continued to Oct. 21 because the autopsy report was not completed. The continuance was a disappointment for some reporters but we eventually got all of our interviews with the prosecuting attorneys. I also spoke with the woman’s Public Defender Andrea Luem.

Here is a link to that story.

Tonight, I will go home and work on some homework before heading to bed. I have a sentencing court case in the morning for a man who shot four people in the New York-New York Casino. You never know what you’re going to get in Vegas. I love it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Covering Sept. 11 events in Las Vegas, Nev.

Las Vegas Remembers Sept. 11, 2001

Here is a link to my story for the Las Vegas Sun.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Road Trip Slideshow

I know the pictures may be blurry but keep in mind I took them on my phone. I am also going to try to find a way to fix the resolution so next time the photos will be more clear. Call it a test if you will.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Entry 1 of The Vegas Diaries

Sept. 5

After a long road trip through seven states, I finally arrived in Las Vegas last night. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but so far it’s pretty nice. The people are kind, the scenery is beautiful and the weather is bearable.

Last night, a friend and his family showed me around Henderson and Green Valley Parkway. We went to dinner at the Claim Jumper, took a look at the
Las Vegas Sun office building and drove around near the strip.

On television the strip seems like a huge tourist spot, actually the entire area of Las Vegas seems monstrous, but really Las Vegas is an average size city in a valley. The land is so flat that you can see the strip from miles away, especially at night when all the casinos are lit up.

The family also helped me look at a few apartment complexes. Luckily, I won’t be staying in an extended stay hotel the entire trip because I found a one-bedroom apartment today. It’s in a nice neighborhood and located off Boulder Highway, which is roughly 15-20 minutes from the Las Vegas Sun office.

I also learned a few things about Vegas that some people may not know. Everything is open 24/7 here, brothels and prostitution aren’t legal, despite what many people think and U-Turns are legal on many streets.

I move into the apartment tomorrow and start work on Tuesday. I’ll keep everyone updated after I get settled in more.

For more, check out