The Undesired-a Documentary

Don’t watch this expecting a light and funny piece. It is a serious and sober look at India’s struggle over traditions that devalue women, result in 7,000 female fetuses are aborted every DAY.   Why? Because they are girls. The story says women often have one function, to produce a boy.  Mediastorm explains:


India is a diverse country, separated by class and ethnicity. But all women confront the cultural pressure to bear a son. This preference cuts through every social divide, from geography to economy.

This preference originates from the belief that men make money while women, because of their expensive dowry costs, are a financial burden. As a result, there is a near constant disregard for the lives of women and girls. From birth until old age, women face a constant threat of violence and too frequently, death.

The numbers are staggering. Since 1980, an estimated 40 million women are ‘missing,’ by way of abortion, neglect or murder. 7,000 female fetuses are aborted every day according to the U.N., aborted solely because they are girls. One dowry death is reported every 77 minutes. Countless others are never known.

The government has tried to intervene. Dowry and sex selective abortions are illegal. Yet both practices still thrive, in large part because of deep-rooted cultural prejudices.

Today, eighty percent of Indian states are now facing a shortage of women. To compensate for this differential, young, unknowing women are bought from surrounding countries like Bangladesh and sold to young bachelors. Not knowing a word of the language, these trafficked women now face the same kinds of violence as other Indian women.

Listen to his inside story


If You are Going to Use Music In Your Video

In my workshops I tell journalists I almost never favor using “added” music in news stories. but there can be exceptions. It has to be totally obvious you added the music and the addition must be consistent with the true feelings that the sound is running under.  Don’t let the music tell the viewer how to feel.  How good does the production have to be to reach this high bar.  I would say this piece is a good example.  It is from Brad Houston when he was at KUSA in Denver. And yes he was working alone as a one-man-band.  Click on the image to watch.


Loaded with Gold Coins

In my storytelling workshops I often teach about the concept of “Gold Coins” meaning you should sprinkle the best moments you have all through the story.  It is like dropping gold coins on a trail to lure the viewer to keep walking down the path.  Here is a piece from KARE 11’s Boyd Huppert that does that so well.  The story never runs out of energy because it never runs out of gold coins.

Notice too how the lead does not give the story away.  Click on the image to watch.


A BIG Surprise

I won’t ruin it for you.  Just trust me when I tell you there is a big surprise in this piece, exactly where it should be.  Deep in the story just when you think the piece is about to run out of gas.

Inside Story on “Occupy” Pepper Spray Photos

This may well be the most iconic photo so far of the Occupy protests.  An 84 year old woman is hit by pepper spray.

She is hardly a frail innocent bystander.  She is a well-known activist who showed up to protest.

Here is the inside story of how photographer Seattle PI photographer Joshua Trujillo captured the image.

Changing Times for Photography

Take a look at this image I grabbed from one of the many crowd shots taken of the police shooting pepper spray at Occupy protestors at UC Davis Saturday. What do you notice about the photographers?

Photo by: Louise Macabitas

I count 13 cameras in the picture.  Only one appears to be a professional photographer. I also see an MP3 audio recorder and an iPad being used to capture video. This is an iconic image in itself.  It is testimony about how we now capture unfolding news events, not with SLRs or even point-and-shoots.  The cell phone is becoming a critical news gathering tool.  We should be offering specific training on cell phone video techniques in our college classes and professional training workshops.

Just look at how many videos of the incident are posted on YouTube:

How Journalists Uncovered Hundreds of Polluters-Now, Your Turn

NPR teamed up with CPI and together they uncovered a Watch List, a secret being kept by the EPA. The secret is a list of hundreds of industrial polluters, some of them chronic polluters who just keep sending toxic stuff into the soil, sky and water near you.
I interviewed the journalists to find out:

  • How the journalists uncovered the story
  • How to search the data and map to see the worst polluters near you
  • Turn the story into a local story