Madison Keys, a player to watch on the women’s tennis circuit

Beijing — I took some time today to watch Madison Keys play. She’s practically an Iowan, born in Rock Island, Illinois. She’s currently ranked 32 on the women’s tour, is 19 years old and turned professional in 2009 — and beat Serena Williams . Today she was beaten by German Andrea Petkovic pretty handily. Keys didn’t play badly, Petkovic, ranked No. 17 and eight years older, played better.

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2014 China Open: Sharapova, Halep, Djokovic and Nadal

BEIJING — We’re off and running here in Beijing. The students have learned a ton — about tennis, about China, about major sporting events — and are cranking out good deadline stories. It’s hard to say exactly what the highlights are for the students (all males, so I’ll call them “the guys” a lot.) They were struck by the beauty of Kerber and Wozniacki, the friendliness of Bouchard and Djokovic and the awe of being around Nadal. They will certainly leave China with a new sense of what is possible for them as they pursue careers in sports journalism.

 

2014 China Open: We come for the swag, we stay for the tennis

This year's color scheme is much tamer than in years past. Last year's orange uniform was nearly unwearable.

This year’s color scheme is much tamer than in years past. Last year’s orange uniform was nearly unwearable.

The Missouri School of Journalism has an amazing relationship with journalists in China and maybe even more amazing is that it’s been a long-last relationship. I’m terrible at history, always have been, but this relationship is about as old as the 116 year-old J School.

Broadcast sports major Andrew Kauffman showing off his China Open gear.

Broadcast sports major Andrew Kauffman showing off his China Open gear.

One of the offshoots of that relationship is a class that covers the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing. This is my third trip as instructor for the class, leading the students as they write the English-language stories for the Open’s website (content will start appearing soon.)

As part of this arrangement we get SWAG!

We each received two shirts, warm-up pants, socks, a hat, jacket and fanny pack. Sure, you’re shaking your head now about that fanny pack but when we come back to the States rockin’ it, you’re gonna want one. You know you are.

The work begins tomorrow (we’re 13 hours ahead of the Central time zone) with a few games, a press conference with Novak Djokovic and a few other things.

We’re ready!

I will not be returning to Ferguson

Karen Mitchell:

Great piece from one of our journalism students. He has been covering the situation in Ferguson, Missouri for Al Jazeera America. Unfortunately, he’s seen way too much of the sad, pathetic sides of journalists.

Originally posted on Ryan L. Schuessler:

I had been on the ground helping Al Jazeera America** cover the protests and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since this all started last week. After what I saw last night, I will not be returning. The behavior and number of journalists there is so appalling, that I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of the spectacle.

**A clarification edit: I am not a full-time employee of any Al Jazeera branch or network. I am a freelance journalist who contributes to several media platforms.

Things I’ve seen:

-Cameramen yelling at residents in public meetings for standing in way of their cameras

-Cameramen yelling at community leaders for stepping away from podium microphones to better talk to residents

-TV crews making small talk and laughing at the spot where Mike Brown was killed, as residents prayed, mourned

-A TV crew of a to-be-left-unnamed major cable network taking pieces out of a Ferguson…

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Working with ThingLink

This is a project I’m working on for the NABJ Monitor. The work is by a sharp young photojournalist named Sophia Nahli Allison. More to come, this is just a test.

Homemade dog park chairs are a hit

In my last post I mentioned some little chairs I have been making and donating to on of Columbia’s dog parks. Columbia has two dog parks and Frankie and Alvie like one of them better, but that one doesn’t have a lot of seating. So I decided I could help with that.

Twin Lakes dog park is on the south side and is visited by a lot of young, healthy, able-to-stand-for-an-hour college students. And the park has a lovely hill, which is where I usually sit. Because it’s high I get a good view of most of the dog park. And after a rain it’s usually drier up there. So I set out to design and make some simple chairs to put on the hill. Here’s the result:

Two young women lounge in the chairs I made and gave to one of Columbia's dog parks. They said they headed right to the chairs when they saw them. They are intentionally simple and not real pretty, in hopes that people won't want to leave the park with one tucked under their arm. I have eight out there so fair, the park could easily handle another eight. Or more.

Two young women lounge in the chairs I made and gave to one of Columbia’s dog parks. They said they headed right to the chairs when they saw them. They are intentionally simple and not real pretty, in hopes that people won’t want to leave the park with one tucked under their arm. I have eight out there so far, the park could easily handle another eight. Or more.

I have made 10 chairs, but only eight of them are out there. My first two were rather quickly destroyed, not sure if it was by accident or mischief.

I made those two out of 1×2 furring strips, which I really thought would work and, since I was buying the wood, would be cheap for me. Well, I was wrong.

Fortunately something else has worked out: discarded construction lumber. It’s amazing how much waste there is on a construction site, and they are mostly unwilling to share it with people for second-hand use. I’ve been lucky, though, and have scored a number of good 2x4s. But that’s not the best find.

One day I drove by one of the gazillion construction sites for student housing. (Don’t get me started on that topic.) They had just torn down a long (like 50-75 foot long) privacy fence, made from 6’ x 5” x ¾” boards. Bingo! A stockpile of wood that I could use for the seats and backs of my chairs. You can see these boards in the photo.

Being a good citizen, I actually called and got permission to take the boards: “as many as you’d like” they said. After all, it would lessen the pile, saving them money on disposal. I grabbed about 30 of the boards, each one cut down and making three usable pieces. I’d have taken more, but once I dug into the pile, others did, too.

I want the chairs to last more than one summer so I bought some exterior paint, one of those gallons that’s discounted because the customer didn’t like the color. It’s perfect for my use: if the chairs are too attractive then there might be temptation to steal them. So the first batch is that ugly gray you see in the photo. I’ve run out of that paint and someone donated the brown stain, seen on the two chairs on the right. Then someone else donated some bright orange spray paint, so the chair I put together today has orange supports and brown seat and back. It’s pretty darned ugly.

Building them is fun for me and my ego gets a little stroking whenever I see someone sitting in one. There’s apparently a group of women my age who go to the park in the mornings and are very happy to have some seating. I’m working up to making some nice (good wood, good paint) Adirondack chairs for my friend’s ranch. She wants some so people can sit around her pond and watch the geese.

And here’s another good thing: the wood I can’t build with is used in my fire pit.
I’m a happy camper.

My woodworking is more than just a hobby

This is just some of the wood and lumber I've gathered this year. I'll use it for firewood and to build about a dozen small chairs.

This is just some of the wood and lumber I’ve gathered this year. I’ll use it for firewood and to build about a dozen small chairs.

Woodworking. It’s a big part of who I am. I lost this part of me — well, I put it aside — for more than a dozen years as I bounced from Des Moines to New York to Chicago and now to Columbia. But finally I’m back at it. And now that I am, I’m remembering why it’s so important to me.

LeRoy Mitchell when he was about 30 or 35 years old.

My dad, LeRoy Mitchell when he was about 30 or 35 years old.

My current project is some very simple chairs that I’m donating to one of the city’s two fenced-in dog parks. I’m using discarded lumber from construction sites for the materials. The project combines my interest in woodworking with something I’m genetically disposed to do: scavenging for the materials.

My father, LeRoy Mitchell, was an art teacher and he found second and third purposes for everything from carpet samples to the paper that wrapped x-ray film. (Anyone out there have one of his yellow paper books?) Continue reading

A wonderful day with the Clydesdales at Warm Springs Ranch

This is one of the babies, running on of the Warm Springs pastures with his mom. He's about a month old.

This is one of the babies, running on of the Warm Springs pastures with his mom. He’s about a month old.

One of the things that makes journalism such a wonderful career path is the amazing things we get to experience. Tuesday was one of those special days in my career: I got to spend time at Warm Springs Ranch, one of the homes of the Budweiser Clydesdales. It’s just west of Columbia, in Boonville. Continue reading

Ben Garvin’s advice: Illustrate your tweets

Karen Mitchell:

Good tips. All of our journalism students should pay heed. Sending photos with your tweets is another good way of practicing your photography. Notice that I said photography, not photojournalism. Use the Twitter medium to express yourself in anyway you want. You’ve got the smart phone with you, you have the app. So when you see a moment you like capture it and send it.

Originally posted on The Buttry Diary:

When Jen Westphal shared the email below with me, I quickly asked Jen and Ben Garvin, who wrote the email, if I could use it as a guest post. Ben’s Twitter bio describes him as a “Multimedia producer, photographer, photo editor, blogger at St. Paul Pioneer Press.”

I did a little editing and added some links and embeds to make this part of my #twutorial series. So here’s Ben’s advice on using photos with tweets (with tweets from Ben interspersed between the paragraphs):

In late October Twitter changed the way it shows images within your stream–images now automatically appear if they are tweeted from Twitter itself, not a third-party app. This small change has allowed for images to have much more impact and is something…

View original 913 more words

Sharing the joy of photography, five Boy Scouts at a time

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From left: Ben, Brian, Noah, Shawn and Bentley, on the Mizzou campus.

There were more than 900 Boy Scouts on campus Saturday for Merit Badge University. By participating in one or two of the 50 or so different workshops to participate in today, they could earn a merit badge. My workshop, photography, was an all-day course. Even though I just returned this week from Beijing and really could have used my Saturday for sleeping, it felt very good to give back.

These are the boy scouts I worked with today (and the personalities you see in the photo are pretty true to who they were in class.) Having a small group like this was great. They were very smart and wonderfully attentive. They were from around mid-Missouri; the youngest was 12, the oldest 15. Unfortunately none of them are thinking of photography for a career, but most of them are serious hobbyists. Well, as serious as you can be at their age.

Check in your community to see if the Scouts do a similar thing. Do it for the kids, you’ll love working with them. And if they don’t, find another organization to give back to.