“Pandas Gone Wild” by Ami Vitale – WordPressphoto.org

The first piece that immediately caught my eye was this one, detailing China’s effort to train captive pandas to thrive in the wild.  Seeing as the animal was once severely endangered not too long ago, China has recently made it a top priority to restore the pandas’ habitats.  While they work at this, the pandas have been under the careful watch of scientists and trainers as they take care of them until their homes are fully restored.  This requires simulating the environment pandas usually thrive in and takes a lot of effort and creative thinking.  It also makes for a fantastic photo opportunity for a journalist.  Ami Vitale spent time in one of these panda communities and beautifully captured what it’s like for both the animals and the humans to coexist together towards a common good.

These photos are some of my favorites because they expertly capture the relationship between the scientists and the animals.  While their main goal is to train the pandas to live on their own in nature, even the scientists cannot help but become attached to the adorable fluffy panda.  The expression on the man’s face in both pictures as he snuggles with the cubs seems to say it all.  It’s easy to imagine that all of the conservationists, especially him, would have a difficult time when saying goodbye when the time finally comes for the pandas to be released out into the wild.  All of that can be garnered based solely on these two powerful photos, which speaks to the ability of the photographer.

These photos speak to the dedication of those trying to help out the formerly endangered species.  These trained zoologists dress up in panda costumes every day to work with the cubs, teaching them how to survive in the wild and how to interact with others of their kind.  In the last picture, a researcher even holds one of the panda’s natural predators to train the pandas to beware of cheetahs and other such dangerous carnivores out in the wild.  This kind of devotion to the pandas’ well-being may seem silly to some, but to these passionate scientists it’s just a part of the job.  These pictures effortlessly capture the love these researchers have for these animals and their unyielding commitment to helping the pandas.

Lastly, this photo shows the pandas finally being let back out into the wild after years of being under the scientists’ care.  The countless days spent in the simulated wilderness with the conservationists will be put to the test right now as the panda journeys out into its real habitat.  This is a historic milestone for China’s researchers and an emotional one as well.  They have watched these animals grow up before their eyes and now are watching them do what they have been trained to do: be free.  This is definitely a bittersweet moment for everyone involved because as much as they have been wanting to prepare the pandas for this exact moment, now that it has arrived it has to be both very uplifting yet also very sad.  They know deep down that they will most likely never see those pandas again and never know whether or not they thrive in their new environment or fail.  All they can do is hope that they have done their best in parenting these animals, then start all over again with the new batch tomorrow.

Class Agenda – Wednesday, Sept. 27

Upcoming due dates

Final draft of photo projects is due Monday, October 2.

Pitches for your radio piece will be due Wednesday, October 4.

Scripts for the radio piece will be due Wednesday, October 18.

Final produced radio story will be due Monday, October 30.

Guidelines for radio pitches:

Assignment #2 will be a 5-minute news radio feature (a “wrap”). A wrap is a scripted radio piece that weaves together natural sounds, interview clips (known as “actualities”), and reporter narration to tell a story. The trick is to choose your actualities carefully to get the most memorable, interesting, powerful, or colorful sound bites possible, leaving the bare facts and background info for your narration. In your narration, you’ll write in and out of the actualities and provide any context that is necessary to help the story make sense. The natural sounds evoke a sense of scene and place. It’s also the reporter’s responsibility to script an introduction for the host to read.

Examples of wraps:

Solar in West Virginia

Fusion restaurant in Brooklyn

Kenya’s fight against Islamic extremism

When brainstorming pitch ideas, ask yourself these questions:

Does this story have news value? Meaning, is it pegged to some big current news story? Does it involve a prominent person or event? Is there a strong human interest component that sheds light on a larger issue? Does it have some kind of novelty factor? Will it have an impact on a community? Is there conflict? Does it pass the “so what?” test?

Is there potential for scene-setting natural sounds? (If the whole thing takes place in an office, the sound will not be very compelling.)

Can I confirm that I will have access in order to do the story?

The Script

Radio scripts follow a format that looks like this:









Here’s the actual script from one of my stories:

INTRO: Last month, police raided a punk rock show in the conservative Islamic province of Aceh, Indonesia. Sixty-five concertgoers were arrested. Authorities shaved off their mohawks and threw them into a pond for a symbolic cleansing. They held them for ten days for what police called “moral rehabilitation.”

Aceh has been governed by sharia law since 2005. The crackdown was widely denounced as a human rights violation and cited as an example of a repressive Islamic government. But for the people of Aceh, what happened was not quite so simple. Emily Johnson has the story.


TRACK1: A dozen young people are having a jam session beneath the lights of a basketball court. Here in the capital city of Banda Aceh,unmarried men and women aren’t supposed to congregate after nine pm. but that hasn’t stopped a few girls from joining in. Like the boys, they favor Chuck Taylors, patched jeans and band T-shirts. A guy named Taufik says they may call themselves punks, but they’re not doing anything wrong.



“Masih banyak kesalahan…”
We’re sure we’re not breaking sharia by being punk. It’s just how we dress. We’re not whores, we’re not gay, and we’re not corruptors.
“…kami gak banci, kami gak pelacur, kami gak korupsi.”

TRACK2: Like Taufik, Yudi’s hair is starting to grow back. Both young men were among the dozens who were dunked and shaved in last month’s mass arrest.

The police punched us and stomped on us. We were treated like animals. It hurt a lot because we didn’t know what we did wrong.

TRACK3: The police deny using violence. Yudi, Taufik and the others were never actually charged with a crime. Still, many in Banda Aceh view them with suspicion. Many of the punks live on the streets. Some panhandle. Yudi concedes that some are involved in drugs, but says it’s unfair to paint them all the same.


TRACK4: At City Hall, Banda Aceh’s deputy Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal wears pink lipstick and a bejeweled headscarf. She says the punks are more than a nuisance. They’re a threat to Aceh’s Islamic values. She describes the arrests as a form of tough love.

“Dalam peraturan undang-undang kami, setiap anak…”
The law says every homeless child should be taken care of by the country. We can define the punks as homeless because they sleep everywhere and rarely take a bath. As a mother I will feel very bad if I see my child live like that.
“…kalau anak saya seperti itu, saya tidak rela-lah.”

TRACK5: This wasn’t the city’s first crackdown on punks, but it was the largest. In the past, only locals were arrested, which didn’t ruffle many feathers. But most of the people detained this time had come from more secular parts of Indonesia to see the concert. Illiza insists visitors have to abide by Aceh’s rules and norms.

Perhaps our freedom is different from other places. But we are in Banda Aceh.
“Mungkin kebebasan yang kami memiliki adalah berbeda.”

TRACK6: Meanwhile, the local detainees are expected to continue their rehabilitation now that they’ve been released. They will be taught professional skills in an effort to get them off the streets, and Illiza says they are all grateful and happy for the opportunity.


TRACK7: At the Solong Cafe, Reza Idria shakes his head at the idea that Aceh’s punks are embracing their re-education.

ACT5: REZA (English)
Every day the news is always supporting the government because they say all of punks are happy now. I met them as well and I asked them after this thing, what are you going to do? And they say “I’m always punk.”
TRACK8: Reza used to play guitar in a band. Now he teaches Islamic law at the state university. He rejects the idea that the punks are somehow anti-Islam. He says the Quran defines sharia as a personal relationship with God, not a legal system. He believes that government figures have interpreted it in a way that allows them to justify just about anything.

Maybe their dress looks weird, but how can you accuse them of violating sharia law? The way they treat punks, they never used any law, just put them in pool, shaved them. We don’t have a law like that, but they did it. This is the government. They create the law but didn’t obey the law.

TRACK9: The truth, Reza says, is that many Acehnese simply think the punks are unpleasant and annoying. And with regional elections coming up next month, the crackdown may have simply been an effort to score points on a winning issue.

For The World, I’m Emily Johnson.

What does it mean to write for the ear?




Writing into and out of acts

Finally, let’s look at some of your posts about exhibits at Photoville and other photo projects.

The Jerome Avenue Workers Project

The Jerome Avenue Workers Project was a 2015 exhibition by the Bronx Photo League in conjunction with the Bronx Documentary Center, exploring and documenting the workers, storefronts, and trades of Jerome Avenue, an area in the South Bronx that still depends largely on small, working class businesses and faced displacement due to rising rents and potential rezoning. The project was the first major exhibition of the Bronx Photo League, a team of 16 Bronx photographers (Ed Alvarez, Trevon Blondet, David “Dee” Delgado, Melissa Bunni Elian, Jesus Emmanuel, Giacomo Francia, Michael Kamber, Katie Khouri, Netza Moreno, Nina Robinson, Heriberto Sanchez, Jonathan Santiago, Rhynna M. Santos, Adi Talwar, Berthland Tekyi-Berto, Edwin Torres, Elias Williams, and Osaretin Ugiagbe). The photographers explored the avenue, photographing, filming, and interviewing the workers and residents participating in one of the few industry/manual labor based communities in the city.


The Bronx Photo League, and the Bronx Documentary Center, started by Michael Kamber in 2011, focuses on documenting social justice issues and giving voices to members of the city who are often overlooked, marginalized, or misrepresented in the art, photography, journalism and documentary work world. The Jerome Avenue Workers Project, funded by a grant with the Workforce Development Institute, photographed auto mechanics, cashiers, musicians, families, and community members, many of whom are immigrants who have lived, worked, and created businesses and families in the neighborhood for decades. The project is both a nod to the quickly fading tradition of small industry and manual labor, and an effort to give representation to a neighborhood that faces extreme change in the coming years. The photographs, black and white portraits, shot on Kodak Tri-X negative film with Hasselblad cameras and lenses, are high-contrast, sensitive images of people in their workplaces and on their streets. According to Kamber, subjects were allotted two or three frames each, rather than the dozens or hundreds that photographers may take when using digital cameras. The photographers all processed their rolls by hand, as a way to reference the manual-quality of the project. This adds to the sensitivity and authenticity of the project. Video footage was used at times to capture the sounds and movement of these workplaces, and most of the photographs are accompanied with quotes from the subjects. Focus was put on making the project accessible, as well—rather than the classic gallery setting, the photographs were installed at Vasquez Muffler, 1275 Jerome Avenue, so that subjects and residents could come by to see for themselves.


I think an important part of the process was the fact that all of the photographers involved are Bronx residents themselves, committed to accurate representation and the preservation of the community. Above all, it seems that the project was meant as a way to depict an increasingly rare kind of neighborhood in an honest and humanizing way.


“Youth Chess Stories” by Michael Hanke – WordPressphoto.org

When browsing  Wordpressphoto.org for a piece to write about I naturally went to the sports section. As someone who wishes to one day be a sports writer I figured I’d might as well get familiar with work that’s respected and praised by the photography community. This project, “Youth Chess Stories” by Czech photographer Michael Hanke, immediately stood out to me as unique because of its placement among the other pieces in the same category. We tend to associate sports photography with motion, dynamism, or any noun/adjective capable of communicating drama. When we think of sports photography we think of the action shot, or an image that caters to the idea of a recognizable hero in the midst of an unforgettable moment. Images that come to mind are Michael Jordan’s 1988 Slam Dunk or Muhammad Ali standing atop a beaten Sonny Liston. In this project Michael Hanke sought to capture this same element of theater and spectacle in documenting a sport that offers minimal movement, less “excitement” and no familiar heroes to speak of: chess. The project “Young Chess Tournaments” focuses on the emotion of the competitors and their families during, after and before their game of chess. Hanke chooses to make his photos black and white, giving his shots a sense of seriousness and heaviness.

This picture stood out to me the most because anger and frustration aren’t thing usually associated with chess. More often than not we’d think of chess players as calm, in control and focused given the intellectual dedication the game requires so to see this boy almost brought to tears is compelling. This photo allows the audience to identify with the boy and his frustration because we all know what it feels like to lose. It also shows that passion isn’t only reserved for sports celebrated by mainstream media such as football, soccer and basketball.

The photo does a terrific job of capturing the tension of the sport. Most people would probably say that chess is boring and doesn’t offer any drama but the posture, faces and hand positions of the parents captured in this photo tell a story of worry and uneasiness. Everyone is on edge and unable to take their eyes of their children, almost as if they’re fans of the game.

I enjoyed this last photo because it shows the spectacle of it all. The children are focused on the chess game just like we’d be focused on the World Cup or the Super Bowl. The way the photographer has focused on the face of the one child who’s frustrated is also integral to the shot. This seems to be the deciding moment of the game and he captured it perfectly. I think that Michael Hanke does an incredible job of legitimizing the emotion and reality of a sport that isn’t recognized or respected as having traits of other mainstream sports. Hanke has brought attention to the humanity of chess by incorporating black and white tones, maximizing his usage of focus and capturing the perfect moments.

Photoville assignment

At the photoville festival I was fascinated by the Body Talks exhibit presented by Refinary 29. Known for always pushing the envelop on women’s issues and engaging in the conversations concerning women, The body talks exhibit was filled with photography featuring transgender, gender fluid, and general LGBTQIA+ members. The photographers featured in this exhibit were several from Refinery29 and are known for their advocacy in the community.

The female photographers focused on Israel, Liberia, South Korea, Mexico, Russia and Iceland, particularly the bodies of water in these countries,  to discuss  body positivity and its cultural variations among women around the world. “To further explore this notion of how beaches can be both a source of empowerment and anxiety, “Body Talk” weaves in works by photographer Lia Clay, which illuminate the transgender experience during the summer and what ‘safe spaces’ mean to the community.” Said the bio at the exhibit in the Brooklyn site.


Rachel Turley – Photoville Assignment

The exhibit I chose to focus on at Photoville was one entitled “insider/outsider”. It was put on by Women Photograph. Women Photograph is a coalition that supports women and non-binary visual journalists. A representative from the initiative was there and was kind enough to speak with me about her time working with the organization and her work as an independent photographer. She also explained the exhibit to me, how the terminology of “insider” and “outsider” was completely objective and up to the photographer on how they saw themselves and their contribution to the project. The defintion on what exactly was an “insider” and an “outsider” was also one of the themes I saw a handful of the photographers play with. It was up to them to decide if they were the outsider, or their subject was, or what even was an outsider. There seemed to be an equal number of both insider and outsider photo contributions hanging on their separate walls. it was one of the most busy crates I came across at the event.

One of the most striking photos was a photograph of a mother and her daughter (above) wrapped in a blanket. I found it so appealing because of the juxtaposition of the mother’s confident, stare straight on into the camera, while she does something as inviting and comforting as cradle her daughter in a blanket.

CNBC’S Post-Maria: The Damage of Puerto Rico on a human scale

When I heard that Hurricane Maria–the last in a surprisingly long line of hurricanes to make the headlines this month–knocked out all power in Puerto Rico, with analysts estimating the damage to have quite literally set the country back “decades” (by some accounts) I had to see for myself. Now there are no shortage of pictures demonstrating this latest hurricane’s destructive capability; the writing is on the walls its reduced to rubble. But what the majority of these photographs have in common, and is wonderfully demonstrated by CNBC’s photo essay, “In Pictures: Puerto Rico pummeled by Hurricane Maria,” is the destruction on a universally human scale. It’s ultimately the comparison between the destruction and the people affected, standing alongside the wreckage, often in mourning, or merely coming to terms with the new reality of their homelessness, that speak for those affected.

The destruction of Puerto Rico is largely inarticulable. It’s scope cannot be grasped without some sort of comparison–a means of relating the horror the majority of us are lucky enough to view through our screens to the hell on earth Puerto Rico’s residents must now live in–But it’s because of the scope that these pictures are so jaw dropping. An entire nation without power is only so impactful as its citizens are shown to be: there is, otherwise, the disconnect between what we see and feel that screens encapsulate all too objectively. And it’s because CNBC’s photos always include this human element that the destruction we see is never without its due comparison. There are people dwarfed by telephone polls and fallen branches, others surveying the waste, the ruins and landmarks they used to call home. It’s this perspective that packs a punch, that ultimately reminds the rest of the world that these are people living through what is likely the worst time of their lives, and are now utterly helpless.

It’s like the aftermath of a child’s tantrum exacted on their model train set; with its figurines rooted to the ground, in shock, at what remains.

The hardest part of effective photography, when documenting these sort of natural disasters, is in effect to remind the viewer why we should care; to help us rediscover our empathy.

And it’s through the diminutive scale that this is ultimately accomplished. The scale speaks for itself: when I constantly reminded myself that this territory was reduced, practically, to the stone age over night, I couldn’t believe it until I saw the extent of these damages–and only then (and once again) in comparison to people like myself.

Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/21/in-pictures-puerto-rico-pummeled-by-hurricane-maria.html

Photoville-Isle Landers


The photography festival known as Photoville in Brooklyn Bridge Park brought up controversial issues around the world such as immigration, climate change, gender identity and much more. In their many exhibits, one in particular that captured my interest was the Isle Landers by Darrin Zammit. This particular exhibit awakened me in seeing the decade of immigration crises of African refugees and migrants arriving in the country of Malta.

When speaking with Mr. Zammit he stated that this project was something that was important to him, due to the fact that Malta was his home country. He started off by shooting for a Non-government organization in Uganda and felt that he could show the crisis of immigration in Malta. Darrin Zammit took the first steps in his project by working on the Phoenix( A migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea) that was operated by a non-government organization called MOAS were Zammit was an eyewitness of the dramatics of migrant entering into Malta. Zammit worked on this project for more than 15 years and saw many tragic events but  the worse for him was watching the migrants slipping and going under the water. A specific time that Darrin Zammit recalled being on of his hardest experiences was on an Easter Sunday while he was out rescuing migrants, there was one migrant who slipped bring down bring down ten others with him. Zammit stated how he could see through his lenses the hands reaching out for him and he quickly threw down his camera and started to help pull the migrants aboard.

Photoville – Insider/Outsider

There were so many amazing and interesting exhibitions and Photoville. All of them told their own stories and the stories of others. However, the exhibition that really stood out to me was Insider/Outsider presented by Women Photograph. Women Photograph is unique and important to the photojournalism community because they aim to ensure the representation of women photographers in an industry that’s very male dominated.

Insider/Outsider focuses on the relationship between the photographer and the subject. Those who personally know the subject consider themselves insiders. Insiders are able to have more access and photograph their subjects in more intimate settings. Outsiders have more limited access and perhaps no actual relationship with the subject other than they are telling their story.

The photographer of this image above is Raphaela Rosella. Raphaela and her subject, Tricia, are both from the same town in Australia. They both grew up in the same area and have had similar life experiences. They met over 10 years ago at a community arts organization. What I found to be so interesting about this is that the photographer actually sat and breastfed her own child while with Tricia. Raphaela is an insider as she is able to share experiences with this young woman and capture this moment.

Katia Repina, the photographer of this image, is working on a project that depicts the lives of intersex people. The subject here is a 35 year old Dominican woman living in NYC. She had realized she was intersex well into adulthood and Katia was able to capture this moment of her cutting off all of her hair. Katia is also an insider. This woman is naked and vulnerable, but Katia is able to capture this experience on Rockaway Beach with her.

Both of these women are able to show the more intimate parts of their subjects lives through their photography as an insider.