Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breaking out our "Summer Scrapbook"

Summertime, and the livin' is easy... well, we can daydream, right?

Our photographers are hard at work to find the summer hotspots in our newest photo gallery collection, "Summer Scrapbook" in Bradenton & Manatee County. We think you'll want to bookmark this link:

Here's the intro Web Developer William Winter posted today:

School is out, the Gulf is calm and warm and the roads are a bit less crowded… it must be summertime in Bradenton!

Each week this summer the Bradenton Herald’s photographers will showcase a new view into the unique people and places that is summer in Manatee County.

So grab a tall glass of freshly brewed iced tea and enjoy the summer through images from around Bradenton and Manatee County!

For our first entry, Herald photographer Grant Jefferies chose ArtCenter Manatee: KidsArt Summer Camp 2011. These kiddos are priceless -- and definitely enjoying summer.

In coming weeks, photographers Tiffany Tompkins-Condie and Paul Videla will join the rotation with their summer best. And we'll be looking for your scrapbook offerings soon, too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

See if these 'ledes' grab you

In our "best-of" recognition each week in the newsroom, we often single out good story leads: that first impression meant to grab the reader with cleverness or intrigue and not let go. (I typically label them "ledes" for my rather phonetic brain...)

We had three favorites in the kudos posted today. If you haven't read these stories, maybe the ledes will grab you, too:

Vin Mannix’s lede on this story about a vet from the invasion of Normandy:
Calvin Post is in the winter of his years.
He needs a walker to get around and he doesn’t hear so well anymore, eit
Yet his memory works fine.
Especially on June 6.

And Vin again on his report about an honor bestowed John Vita (and if you know John...)
For a change John Vita’s got nothing going on after work this week. No coaching, No mentoring, No digging post holes. Nothing.

And sports writer John Lembo's lede on “Marauder soaks in near no-no”, his follow-up interview with the Bradenton Marauders pitcher who nearly threw a no-hitter.

His phone started to squawk at around 7 a.m.
“Real early,” Kyle McPherson said. “I told them, ‘Thank you very much.’ I kept it real short and sweet, and that was about it.”
Such are the spoils of nearly making history.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Words inspire at Just for Girls graduation

Talk about empowering.

When you have a roomful of middle-schoolers about to walk across the stage in front of family and friends, it's tough to grab their attention. But that's just what keynote speaker Digna Alvarez managed to accomplish at this year's Just for Girls graduation ceremony.

Alvarez, regional director for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, talked directly to "all these beautiful girls" as she reminded all of us that our friends make us whole. She recalled her mom's Cuban saying, then gave us the rough translation:

"Tell me who you hang out with, and I'll tell you who you are."

The girls looked at each other, and knew exactly what Alvarez meant. And when she wrapped up her challenges for them to stay on a better path, the girls applauded -- and shouted out in unison,

"Thank you!"

The Just for Girls' graduating class of 2011 will be friends for life, if the tears and hugs shared yesterday are any indication. As Herald columnist Vin Mannix wrote in his story today, they have already been through so much -- gangs, scarring fights, juvenile detention.

But the graduation was all about the good stuff, and hopes for a brighter future. Share a few of those moments captured in Grant Jefferies' photo gallery .

Friday, June 3, 2011

Herald reporter uncovered Piney Point gusher

Kudos to Herald urban affairs reporter Toni Whitt for breaking the Piney Point story early this week. As she first reported in this story, the protective lining in a phosphogypsum stack at the old Piney Point facility has torn, allowing potentially contaminated seawater to gush from the site at up to 2,700 gallons a minute -- creating an “imminent threat,” state environmental officials acknowledge.

What they didn't acknowledge until Toni uncovered the news was that anything was even wrong. Officials apparently knew for weeks that there was a leak while dredge from Port Manatee was continually dumped there. As the Herald's editorial noted Thursday, had Toni not discovered the problem, we still might not know -- even though the state agency fears for human health and safety. (Although, as you can see from Tiffany Tompkins-Condie's photo above, it now is hard to miss.)

And that’s wrong.

The state DEP is testing the discharge for nitrogen, phosphorus, conductivity and chloride, and investigating how the tear happened and how to repair it. We will continue to dig for independent answers as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Macohi students grill Herald journalists

Throughout the year, the Bradenton Herald's newsroom has worked with the Manatee High students who produce The Macohi and their adviser, Erica Weiffenbach. Erica was awarded the Student/Newspaper Partnership Grant from the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, as mentioned earlier in this blog, and one stipulation was our dedicated support for her high school newspaper staff.

Editors, reporters and photographers visited her class each month, and we helped critique their stories. They recently had their last assignment: Pick a Herald staffer, shadow them, interview them and write up a report.

Kara Inglis, a junior and The Macohi's managing editor, tagged me. Her goal: to become an editor. Somehow, I didn't manage to talk her out of it. In fact, it proved quite a thrill to talk with a young person determined to make journalism her career. As she grilled me that afternoon, I recalled my first tour of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the smell of ink, the tough-looking reporters -- and not realizing that I'd just gotten hooked.

Kara sent me a copy of her report -- she got an A! -- and I felt a flash of pride for our career choice. (OK, and I admit -- I also felt a bit old after digesting Kara's lede:)
Joan Krauter is the Executive Editor of The Bradenton Herald. She has been passionate about journalism since before college and to this day, many years into her career, she is as passionate as she was when she started.

In her email, Kara announced the next step in her promising career: She's been name Editor-in-Chief for next year's Macohi:
"I thought you might like to know that I am officially the new EIC of the Macohi! I am very excited to work with my existing staff members as well as meet Ms. Weiffenbach's incoming Journalism 1 kids to make the paper even better and more school involved than it is now."

Grant or no grant, my staff is looking forward to working with more journalism students next year.