What Have We Learned During Black History Month?

March 1, 2010
What have we learned during Black History Month?

We've just wrapped up twenty-eight days dedicated to celebrating black history. It was another opportunity for a month of teachable moments for people of all races and ethnic backgrounds, especially those willing to look beyond what some observers consider an overemphasis on retail opportunities for February.

For me, the highlight was the opportunity to report on the opening of Greensboro's National Civil Rights Museum. A huge crowd gathered outside the former Woolworth store where on February 1, 1960, four students from North Carolina A&T University sat down at a segregated lunch counter and asked to be served.

That demonstration was preceded by another sit-in at Durham's Royal Ice Cream store nearly three years earlier...but that action's not well known because news media of the day didn't cover it as extensively as the Greensboro story.

That sit-in and the Martin Luther King story are probably the most-discussed topics every February. But there are calls to dig deeper, to recognize those who played key roles in black history but were not black themselves, to take advantage of opportunities to learn more through online interactive multimedia and to watch when there are films about black history available at the multiplex or on the small screen.

Those who want to keep up with black history all year long can find facts anytime on Twitter. You also can follow me there and share your information about black history, or check my Facebook page for updates.

November 29, 2009
White House Gate Crashers Dominate Blogs and Headlines

File all stories about the Salahis, AKA The Uninvited Couple, under You Can't Make This Stuff Up. Now notorious for crashing the White House state dinner , these two now have the fame they've reportedly chased, along with the infamy that goes with blog posts questioning their motives and the competence of White House security personnel.

Professional and amateur pundits really started winding up once the White House released photographic confirmation that the Salahis managed to reach out and touch President Obama during what authorities insist was an uninvited visit.

Those of us who have covered stories on the White House grounds under the Obama and Bush administrations had to undergo thorough security screenings while in North Carolina, long before we arrived at the security gate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even after those background checks and receipt of badges authorizing entry, a glance around the grounds(where sharpshooters are on duty in places the alert visitor can see them) makes it clear that random wandering to restricted areas of the White House is not allowed, although the Secret Service won't discuss specifics.

And people who try to convince security staff at the gates that they have legitimate, journalism-related reasons to enter the White House grounds do get turned away.

Now several bloggers are mentioning the Salahis and the Heenes in the same dismissive posts, characterizing them as shallow wannabes who are angling for fame through reality TV stardom.

What do you think? Post your comments here or on my Facebook page.

November 02, 2009
Navigating Twitter: Now What?

I'm finally off the fence and on Twitter, just six months after weighing the pros and cons.

What made the difference? Frankly, I remained unconvinced of Twitter's potential for half a year because I kept getting those "[User name here] is having breakfast now" on my Facebook page from FB friends who also Tweet, and thought I'd get even more if I opened a Twitter account.

But then I saw this article, Twitter Makes Serious News, while mentoring student journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Tampa, and started considering practical possibilities. Still not ready to commit, I visited New Orleans on vacation in September with the intention of blogging about my first trip back there since Katrina. What I saw in some parts of that city was so disturbing that I'm still searching for the words to adequately tell that story here.

Now I realize that a Twitter account would have made it possible for me to describe what I felt seconds after seeing the still-devastated neighborhoods there in real time, without the need to take mental notes or review video shot there, months after my return. Some of that video's up now on my Facebook page, but Twitter followers would have read about the experience before I left town.

What sealed the Twitter deal for me, though, were the informative Tweets filed from the state elections board Easley hearings by our multimedia reporter Jennifer Kovalseski. She really proved that Twitter's the way to go when there's a big story and people want fast, accurate updates while away from a desktop or laptop. She and our other multimedia reporter Mat Mendez are helping me learn my way around Twitter, and now we're following each other. If you'd like to join us, you'll find me on Twitter as AWilsonWTVD, and remember you can also follow ABC11 Eyewitness News on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

I hope to see you there soon!

There is one more thing that Twitter and Facebook users need to know and I'm sure this is obvious to many of you, but always use protection and discretion while online with either service. Here's why.

August 30, 2009
Katrina'a Grim Anniversary

Judging by the phone calls from people who, after watching the story of expatriate New Orleans chef Brian Battistella wanted the address of his restaurant (3920 Arrow Drive in Raleigh, near Crabtree Valley Mall), there's a lot of interest in that angle of the Katrina survivor story.

So now that I have your attention, please take a look at what's online about how The Crescent City's coping, four years later.

It seems the tourism industry is making a comeback, but a lot of people are still struggling there.

Others carry on, and their detailed stories are surfacing primarily through public media.

But for heartbreaking persective, take a look at the city through the eyes of this New Orleans newspaper columnist, born and raised there.

We will, of course, keep bringing you the stories of people like Batistella who are now settled in the Triangle and doing well, relatively speaking. Coincidentally, I'm a few days away from my first visit to New Orleans since Katrina struck, and I'll let you know how things stand there when I return.

July 25, 2009
Some Much-Needed Context For Gates Arrest Debates

Based upon the thousands of articles, blog posts and reader comments published since the first story about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, a lot of people are choosing sides and, in some cases, dismissing the possibility that opposing viewpoints have any merit. The only two people who know what really happened before Sergeant James M. Crowley put handcuffs on Gates are those two men. Until the situation is resolved to everyone's satisfaction or cooler heads prevail, we’re left with lots of heat generated by virtual shouts online but not as much light, or context, to help people make some sense of why this story is so emotional for so many.

The man who brought Gates to Duke University, where he was a member of the English department before leaving for Harvard, wrote about some incidents that happened in Durham that could have influenced the tone of discussions between the Cambridge officer investigating a possible break in and the professor who apparently felt he was being disrespected inside his home.

Some readers still don’t know what each man was expected to do under Massachusetts law, before the already tense situation escalated and got really ugly. That’s spelled out here.

Others are having some difficulty understanding why an otherwise well-educated, law abiding citizen who happens to be a minority could worry about possible mistreatment from officers sworn to protect and serve the public. This perspective, written by someone working at one of the nation’s top newspapers, could be a real eye opener for those readers.

Now that President Obama’s backed away from his first comments about the case, called the officer “a good man” and invited both men to meet over a beer in the White House, there’s growing interest in seeing whether or not that will happen. One blogger, under the guise of asking which beer might be served then, suggests what each participant, including Mr. Obama, should bring to that meeting.

Still, while there will be no shortage of opinions about who was right and who was wrong, the men at the center of this controversy are really the only ones who can resolve it. A conflict resolution specialist from Harvard has some ideas here.

I’d like to hear what you think of all this, and its effect on the ongoing discussion of issues related to race in America. Post your views in the Comments section of this blog, or on my Facebook page.

July 18, 2009
Walter Cronkite-The Standard Bearer for Reporters
Some of you may recall the days when Walter Cronkite appeared nightly here on WTVD, back when the station was a CBS affiliate. Others, who moved here from other American cities and towns, feel a true sense of loss after relying on Cronkite to deliver news that shocked and saddened the nation during the pre-Internet days. But few of the tributes I'm reading about him hit home like this one.

The writer, Aaron Brown, used to anchor the overnight shift for ABC News and was considered one of the best writers in the business. The appreciation essay he composed about the impact Cronkite had on his career reminds me of Cronkite's on-air style. The man was direct and authoritative with a voice that commanded the viewer's attention, while maintaining an emotional connection with that viewer that is hard to put into words here.

There is one detail about his impact that is known to some journalists, especially those of us who are African-American. Cronkite, as managing editor of the CBS Evening News, hired Lee Thornton to cover the White House. Thornton, now a journalism professor at the University of Maryland, was one of the first African-American reporters assigned to that very competitive and prestigious beat.

I've never met her, or Cronkite, but I can tell you that together they planted a seed in the imagination of at least one Baltimore kid who watched them nightly and, inspired by their example, has a television journalism career today.

I, and many others, stand on their shoulders.

July 11, 2009
Michael Jackson Remains Topic A For Many
Michael Jackson, in death as in life, has people still talking about him..his talent, his relationships, his spending, his estate. There's also a growing number of columns and blogs discussing the cost of his Staples Center memorial service and the accusations that haunted him to the end .

Two more online presentations may fuel further conversations.

One debate that has endured for years concerns the reason for the changes in Jackson's complexion. That's explored in depth, inside an essay about the larger issue of prejudice based on skin tone, here.

The other, surprising revelation appeared when a local blogger wrote about a fairly obscure song, recorded by Jackson twelve years ago, that some fans believe was a cry for help. The song, "Morphine," makes overt references to drug usage not unlike similar performances by past and present star vocalists. But in the middle of this song Jackson heard sounding alternately seduced and shocked by the effects of taking Demerol, one of the drugs suspected of a possible role in his death after reports surfaced that he may have had an injection of it hours earlier. You'll find that blog here.

What's your opinion of all this? Leave comments here, or on my Facebook page.

June 28, 2009
King of Pop Also Rules Online

Michael Jackson. Two words, four syllables responsible for millions of Internet hits since his death on Thursday. There are sites providing one stop access to a variety of celebratory links, others that lead to stories about bizarre reactions from people who aren't fans, and guides to communal tributes that could attract big crowds.

You can also see his video performances with the click of a mouse.

But those links only tell part of a story that seems to have the whole world talking now. There are critics questioning the objectivity of journalists covering Jackson's many problems, others raising ethical questions about the man and his strange behavior.

As one blogger asks, "At what point do you suppose Michael Jackson, the real person, died, and 'Michael Jackson' came to inhabit his body? I'm serious."

Why so much fuss over an entertainer? Other bloggers who remember the beginning of his career provide some insight.

As one writes:

    It was 1970, and I was a little brown girl living in Staten Island, N.Y., an integration baby struggling with a boatload of identity issues. I was a lone raisin in a sea of oatmeal. Until, that is, my parents brought home a record for me: The Jackson 5's "ABC." I held the album cover, staring at those cute brown boys with the fabulous 'fros. I might even have kissed Michael's picture, I loved him that much. And then I put "ABC" on the turntable, and shook, shook, shook my body down to the ground.

Another takes us back to a cold snowy day, when he begged his mother to make sure he could see the young Michael Jackson in action with his four brothers.

    For the next two hours within the walls of Radio City we experienced a musical dream, and nobody wanted to wake up. With their calculated innocence, complex choreography, and fierce flashes of electrifying elegance, The Jackson 5 performed with a ferocity that hinted to our young minds that tomorrow wasn't promised.

Links to blogs and video posted on my Facebook page are generating similar emotional responses, so many that it appears Jackson, like Elvis, is not only a bigger star now than he was at the tragic end of his life. Beyond the money he'll make for many people after his death, beyond the tabloid headlines and seemingly endless media coverage he's driving right now, he will continue to inspire conversations about the true cost of fame and its effects on relationships.

Another blogger concludes, "He was hurled into the public eye, managed and manufactured into an entity that changed the music world for the better, but left him with an apparent void. A lack."

What's your take on Michael Jackson, our coverage and his impact as an artist as well as a lightning rod for controversy? Let us know at the end of this blog, or on Facebook.

May 30, 2009
Better Watch Your Back On Facebook! Here's Why:
Facebook, now five years old has some annoying growing pains that could affect your online security. Users who trust apparent Facebook messages they believe were sent by legitimate friends learn too late that those accounts have been hijacked.

That can lead to real problems for people who use one password for Facebook and other online activities, such as access to e-mail providers. At best, a hijacked account can lead to embarrassment; at worst, the hijacking victim could have his or her identity stolen.

While Facebook's been working for more than a month to block the hijackers, the problem persists. There are telltale signs that e-mail or a Facebook message could be suspicious. Unfortunately, you can't always trust messages about the problem that appear to be sent from Facebook administrators, either.

Bottom line: Be extra careful about opening any message that appears to be from someone you know if it has a cryptic subject line, and especially if it asks you to "check this out!" by clicking a strange looking link.

Don't assume that complete strangers attempting to "friend" you are harmless. And remember to keep your passwords secure (not just the one you use for Facebook access) by changing them frequently. You don't want to get posts from your upset friends or family, asking why you sent them an infected message.

May 9, 2009
To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet?
By now, you've heard of Twitter, the social network that helps you stay in touch with people by answering the question "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. The messages are delivered instantly, via text messages, and millions of people Tweet each other 24/7.

Some of you (like me) are on the fence about Twitter, after hearing that some Tweet about trivial things that can interrupt an already busy day. Then there are the occasional reports of bad behavior by some Twitter users.

But there are also benefits, such as the new ABC11 Eyewitness News Twitter feed that provides up to the minute updates of what we're covering. So if you're ready to take the plunge, here's a Readers' Digest-style guide to Twitter for beginners along with a more detailed breakdown of what Twitter's all about, and how to make it work for you while using your Tweet time effectively and efficiently.

I could have used Twitter to let you know how it felt covering the aftermath of the tornadoes that slammed a Wilson County community.

Now that I'm giving the Tweet idea some serious consideration, I see there are quite a few journalists on board already. Looks like I'll have lots of company by the time I start Tweeting, and I'll let you know when that happens.

In the meantime, remember you can follow our Eyewitness News Tweets here.

April 25, 2009
For $927, Steely Dan Should Play At Your House
That is not a typo, folks. Nine hundred and twenty seven bucks is the actual price posted online by at least one ticket broker for one orchestra seat eleven rows back from the stage.

That broker and others are also selling tickets to the June 9th Steely Dan concert for between $500 and about $800 as of Saturday morning, about 13 hours after the Durham Performing Arts Center made tickets available at its box office on Friday.

There are, of course, cheaper tickets available. For the lowest price per ticket listed on the DPAC website, $65 plus a $7.75 convenience charge, fans can buy seats on the right side of the upper balcony. The top ticket price on the DPAC site is $115, but several searches for the best seat available at that price kept sending me to Orchestra Right. While those aren't bad seats, at that price point I'd want to get a better view of the band from the floor, preferably near the middle of the house. But searches for best available center orchestra seat on the DPAC site found nothing.

So who is willing to pay a broker more than $900 ($1800 for a pair of tix) for an evening's musical entertainment? Would you?

More than a dozen people responding to a note about this posted on my Facebook page weighed in with comments like:

    "In this economy?"

    "Good grief! You just want to see the show, not rent them for the night."

    "Who do they think they are? Miley Cyrus?!?"

    "I love Steely Dan but that's ridiculous."
Ironically, the group's very first album (the one that featured hits like Do It Again and Reeling In The Years) was called "Can't Buy A Thrill."

March 28, 2009
John Hope Franklin, Fathers and Father Figures In The News

I never got to spend any quality time with John Hope Franklin.

Our paths frequently crossed, usually in the context of a story I reported that needed his unique perspective as a scholar and historian. But unfortunately, there never seemed to be enough available minutes for lengthy conversations between us away from the cameras. So the news of his death Wednesday filled me with regret, for a number of reasons.

Like Brent Staples of the New York Times, I wondered what it must have been like to be "a rising black intellectual in the Jim Crow South." My curiosity was fueled, in part, by the fact that my father fit that description. But we were not close, for reasons noted by my twin sister in this blog, and he died a year ago last week, before we had any conversations of substance.

So, from afar, I occasionally found myself wondering over the years what it must have been like to have a man like Dr. Franklin available while navigating the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood. Such thoughts are not unusual among the children of absent fathers, who rarely talk openly about the search for a strong male role model. Many of us who found that relationship elsewhere while we were young (mine was with an uncle just 21 years older than me) made it our business to be better than the men we missed and needed while growing up when we became fathers ourselves.

That's why when two of the stories I reported last week involved children, especially the one where a man stands accused of killing his stepdaughter, my thoughts turned again to the importance of a strong, positive relationship between a father or father figure and child.

Last Sunday's Times Magazine, in a cover story timed to capitalize on March Madness, featured a middle school hoops phenom who at 13 already has his own line of athletic gear, a closet full of free basketball shoes, practices his shots obsessively for several hours a day, and is considered by some the future of the NBA. Yet this same child is academically challenged, according to the article, and his mother is suspicious of the motives of the people now showering her son with praise, equipment, and promises of big time success.

"If his game falls off," she tells the reporter, "they will kick him to the curb. That's what makes me nervous, and I don't want that to happen."

I wonder if her son, who also has no relationship with his father, could have been inspired to include intellectual growth beside his pursuit of success on the court if he had a chance to meet, or just be encouraged to read about, Dr. Franklin's journey through life?

January 18, 2009
Catching Those Missed Digital TV Signals
Obama says push it back. The FCC's chairman says do it as currently scheduled. And in many homes that rely on rabbit ears for an analog TV signal, there's confusion about making the switch to digital. We'll try to clear that up between now and the scheduled transition on February 17, starting with this look at what may be affecting your over the air (OTA) digital picture even if you've using a converter box now.

As this blogger makes clear, the quality of your over the air digital picture may be affected by the type of antenna you attach to that converter box. Regular rabbit ears may be fine for some OTA viewers, but those of you living far away from a transmitter site or in an area surrounded by tall, foliage filled trees may need an antenna upgrade.

Go here to reach a website that will help you pick an antenna that's best for your specific neighborhood.

And don't be intimidated by the prospect of an antenna upgrade. I found the information below on the Twin Cities Public Television website. It's a well written, direct and easy to understand explanation of why you should double check your antenna now if you're not a cable or satellite TV subscriber:

Will I need a new antenna to receive digital TV? Probably not. In most cases, existing antennas that are getting decent analog reception will work for digital TV. However, digital TV signals are primarily on the UHF band, while most major analog TV stations broadcast on the VHF band. Some antennas being used for analog TV may not include good UHF elements. For rabbit ears, UHF elements are usually round ("hoop") pieces. Also, there are separate UHF antennas you can buy for set-top or attic installations. (To confuse matters, after February 17, 2009 some digital signals will move back to the VHF band, so you'll need an antenna that can handle both.)

Digital TV signals are also directional, so it helps to have your antenna pointed in the direction of a station's broadcast tower. The Antenna Web website allows you to enter your address and it will tell you which type of antenna will work best for digital TV in your area and how it should be positioned: http://antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx.

We'll have updates on ABC11.com and on the air as we get closer to the day when all TV signals are digital. In the meantime, here's a link to a series of questions and answers that should help you make the transition smoothly. Let me know if you still have problems after you connect your converter box. We're here to help you get and keep a strong TV signal coming OTA after the switch!

December 30, 2008
Freddie's Dead

Those two words caught my attention as I checked my Facebook page Monday. I knew the friend who used them to describe her mood was not referring to the Curtis Mayfield song of the same name from the “Superfly” soundtrack because like me, she is a fan of jazz. Then I realized that Freddie Hubbard was gone.

You may not recognize his name, but I’m sure you’ve heard him play on tunes that are now part of the great American songbook. That’s Freddie on the front line of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” for example, playing a melody many people hum without knowing what it’s called or who recorded it originally.

Once upon a time, any kid who considered trumpet lessons wanted to sound like certain players known for their signature sound: Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, or Miles Davis. For me, it was Freddie who ultimately made the case, once I really listened to him as a teenager, that I’d ultimately enjoy trumpet more as a fan.

I got to meet him backstage years ago, at a now-defunct jazz club in New Orleans called Rosy’s and saw his witty side as we chatted about the city, its people and the beautiful place where he played that night. So while I can’t say I really knew him personally, it still hurt to read of his death.

You can read his reflections on his career here and hear some of his best work here.

November 10, 2008

Tears shed on camera for Obama

It's something rarely seen on television, since broadcast journalists are trained to show little or no emotion while reporting stories.

That's why many bloggers are weighing in on election night moments like this one, when ABC News reporter Steve Osunsami choked up during a live shot from a college campus where students were very excited about Obama's win.

In fact, Steve himself blogged about it.

So did bloggers who wrote about how one news competitor reacted to what happened during that live shot.

There's more reaction online, from the left, and from the right where one blogger called reporters who showed emotion on election night "girly men."

Documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt has something to say about how other people reacted to Obama's victory at the polls. Here he writes about "what Obama's historic campaign meant to me as an African-American."

But Hurt goes one step further in a ten minute video released last month, before the election and the emotional on-air reaction of Osunsami and other African-American journalists or pundits. Hurt says his short film "Barack and Curtis" is intended to start "a powerful conversation about Barack Obama, 50 Cent (the "Curtis" in the film's title) and the range of Black masculinity in between."

So here's your chance to weigh in on all of this. Post your point of view about the tears shed on election night, any of the blogs referenced above, and Hurt's short film about African-American masculinity on the "Comments" section of this page, or send it to me at anthony.wilson@abc11mail.com

October 18, 2008

Locovore Alert: We've Got Food Blogs!

Everybody's talking about food at the State Fair, but there are other places where you'll find fare that's not usually served at home.

For example, there's the little-known collard green sandwich, which you can see here:


There's also a virtual community of bloggers who write about restaurants, tasting and taking pictures of what's available inside some famous and not so famous local eateries:




And for those who prefer to cook at home, there's this blog:


Here's where you get recipes along with interviews conducted with local chefs:


Got any favorite food blogs that you'd like to share? Send them to me at anthony.wilson@abc11mail.com and we'll post them here…when I get back from a long trek along the American Tobacco Trail or Raleigh's Greenway. Gotta work off some of that state fair food…:)

October 15, 2008

Around the blogs

If you're like me, you have at least one relative who is struggling to make sense of a computer. My mother, who is comparatively tech savvy, is having some issues with her recently installed broadband service. While looking for ways to help her from here, I came across this timely blog: Tech Tips For The Basic Computer User. Check it out, and you might discover a useful shortcut or two: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/tech-tips-for-the-basic-computer-user/

Those of you considering the purchase of a new computer will want to read this blog post first: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/2008/10/dont_buy_a_mac_laptop.htm

If you've ever wondered why there's such a strong emotional attachment to Durham's original Hayti community, you'll understand after spending with the excellent Endangered Durham blog's series of posts, with archival photos and video of Hayti before urban renewal: http://endangereddurham.blogspot.com/

And finally, for time well spent reading about the ongoing struggle by people along the Gulf Coast to recover from Hurricane Katrina, there's exceptional interactive content up now on the Oxford American magazine's Website: http://www.oxfordamericanmag.com/content.cfm?ArticleID=393

Which blogs are you reading these days, and why? Send me a link at anthony.wilson@abc11mail.com and I'll post it here.

May 29, 2008

Too Young for Indy and Iron Man?

It's the season for so-called blockbuster films, those summertime staples designed to get us all into a dark, cool theater for a couple of hours.

But those of us with preteen kids face a challenge when choosing age-appropriate movies. This blog, comments written by a concerned dad, caught my eye since my daughter's now asking my permission to check out PG-13 flicks, particularly the ones that feature action heroes.

I nixed Iron Man, for the reasons mentioned inside the blog linked above. I also considered the new Narnia film a little too intense for her.

But we'll see the latest Indiana Jones movie together (I saw it without her earlier), since we've already screened the first and third films in that series at home on DVD and talked about some of the themes that director Steven Spielberg addresses within his lucrative franchise.

I thought "Temple of Doom" with its high gross out factor and forced child labor was a bad bet and left that DVD in the store.

But she watched it anyway during a recent Indy film marathon on cable, and slept soundly afterwards.

How do you feel about this year's movie options for kids too young to drive themselves to the multiplex? Share your opinion with us by clicking the "comments" link on this page…we're interested in what parents and their kids have to say about this!

April 14, 2008

HDTV Update and Chocolate That's Good For You!

Four months after buying my fat flat screen HDTV, I'm very happy with its performance. The picture quality's superb, the colors really pop, and the bigger, sharper image makes movies and sports a joy to watch. But now it appears I may not be getting the most out of the set, since I've never had it calibrated.

Who knew? It can't hurt to read more about it, then try some of the suggested adjustments. But you won't need HDTV to check out some nice video available on the Web, spotlighting a unique Triangle-based musical group that's giving North Carolina another blip on the nation's cultural radar.

If you've heard of the Carolina Chocolate Drops but haven't seen their show yet, here's your chance to see them in a live performance setting without leaving your home or office. They spend so much time on the road performing and getting great reviews that we haven't done a television story on them yet, but I've got one in the works. For now, I can tell you that this is the kind of chocolate treat that's good for you if you believe smiles and laughter are the best medicine!

February 26, 2008

"How I got that yoga story"

During my yoga studies at the Y, I'm usually one of the few men or minorities in the class. That's a trend that's been noted nationwide, and former LA Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar blogged about it here.

But months before reading that, I found my story idea inside a multicultural journal called Colorlines.

This article put me in touch with Triangle yoga instructor Michelle Berger, a member of the International Association of Black Yoga Teachers who appears in the story we aired on ABC 11.

But the most meaningful connection made while searching online for story leads happened when I came across , this, a blog posting by an African-American high school student who says yoga really changed her life. I contacted the creative writing teacher who put that blog on the Web, and she got approval for an interview with the student from her dad.

If you'd like more information about yoga from an African-American teacher, go here.

You'll find a list of yoga teacher bios, including Michele Berger's, here.

February 20, 2008

"YOU have a Facebook page?"

That's a question, with the emphasis on "you," that I often get from college students and recent graduates when they find out that I'm one of the journalists that does indeed have a place at the web address that's known for social networking.

In fact, I'm a member of the group Facebook for Journalists. This is a 30 minute webcast that explains why more people like me are migrating to Facebook these days. Click hereto view.

On the other hand, this article, by a veteran big city columnist, has a contrarian point of view regarding the adaptation of Facebook by journalists.

If you're curious about how Facebook's growing popularity could affect you or someone you know who may be thinking of getting a page there, you'll want to read this.

What's your take on Facebook and other social networking sites? Click the comments link on this page and share your opinions with us!

January 4, 2008

Okay, We've Got Our Shiny New HDTV, But What's Our Next Move?

I tried to fight it. I told myself I could wait until next Christmas, when the price of a brand name, big screen HDTV would surely plummet below what was offered in December. There was no way I'd bust the family budget with a four figure indulgence since we already have a great 27 inch set with a gorgeous analog picture.

But then I saw this, a discontinued model at a big box store, priced to tempt if not to sell. I'd walk past it whenever I was in that store, and it kept calling me. I did some online research, learned it was a highly regarded set among TV professionals but lacked the thin, flat screen technology that most consumers seem to prefer these days.

Long story short, I negotiated and got an excellent price far below what other bargain hunters paid for big plasma or LCD models. Once I got it home, I was blown away by what I was missing before taking the plunge! Those of you with HDTV know what I'm talking about, especially when you're watching widescreen sports of any kind. I'm also checking out more nature and travel shows than ever before, since they're shown 24-7 on public TV.

Now I'm looking for ways to maximize my recorded movie viewing pleasure. The DVD player we have connected to the HDTV looks great, but there are even slicker (and pricier) hi-def options available. So far, most consumers seem to be sitting on the sidelines while first adapters spend big bucks and help the market decide a winner.

That's still several months, if not years, away. In the meantime, with the conversion of America's current analog and digital available broadcast TV signals to digital about a year away, here's some information everyone can use to get ready for the switch. The Feds will help you purchase equipment to make your current TV compatible after the February 2009 change to digital. Read all about it here.

Got a new HDTV? Share your shopping, setup and viewing experiences with the rest of us by clicking the "Comments" link on this page. If you have technical questions, we'll consult our crack engineering staff here at the station and post answers here on the blog.

December 1, 2007

Football, A Neighborhood And A National Debate

Weekends and football. Both words sit side by side, front and center inside the true fan's frontal lobe during the season. But the murder of Sean Taylor in Miami has thousands of people weighing in on news and sports blogs, talking about issues of crime, class and race.

On ESPN.com, a single Page 2 column about Taylor by sportswriter Jemele Hill's generated more than 1,500 responses as I write this, and there's a passionate discussion about Taylor on a sports reporter roundtable at NPR.

Type his name into any blog search engine and you'll find even more people talking about the story.

But here at home, in Durham's McDougald Terrace community where Taylor probably has many fans, there's also lots of talk about another football-related story published last week in the local paper. North Carolina Central University needs to expand beyond its crowded campus and the newspaper story opened a window on expansion plans that could mean a relocated NCCU football stadium where McDougald Terrace stands today, or somewhere else in Durham.

I mention that because the woman I interviewed for my story was as passionate about the possible loss of her home to progress as some of the people who are posting comments about Taylor, a man most of them never met, across the blogosphere. Both stories are vivid reminders that the true impact of sports is felt beyond the field, the court, the ice or the diamond when we look past the uniforms to see the people who play the games as well as those who are asked to buy the tickets.

What's your opinion? We have a new way for you to share it, on this page. Just click the "comments" link

November 20, 2007

When the story really hits close to home

We've had a rash of stories lately about kids riding school or activity buses that get involved in traffic accidents. But one really got my attention, because my daughter was one of the passengers.

You may recall seeing the story about the bus that was hit in Durham while ferrying a dozen children to the YMCA's after school program. I got a call from the people who run the program moments after it happened, telling me that a van, apparently speeding, had run a stop sign and collided with the bus so hard that the bus, a larger vehicle, was knocked over on its side.

I've lost count of the number of stories I've covered about wrecks involving children, which may explain why I was able to remain relatively calm in the seconds it took the Y staffer to tell me about the accident, followed by his assurance that my child was not hurt. In fact, he said, all the children had walked the block between the accident scene and their after school center, where they were waiting for their parents to come get them.

My drive to the scene seemed to take forever, and when I got there and saw, up close, how the bus and van looked, the true gravity of my daughter's close call really hit me right between the eyes. I appreciate more than ever now how some of you feel when we have the grim assignment of covering a story about an accident involving someone you love.

I knew I'd have to say something to any reporters who asked me questions, but I didn't see any...and anyway, my first priority was reaching my child. She was very calm, considering what she had experienced, and was comforting a younger boy who was still crying by the time I got to the after school center. She told me she was wearing her seat belt at the moment of impact, and was secure in her seat on the high side of the toppled bus while the bus driver came through to help her and the other children get out safely.

My wife, parents and other relatives were happy to hear that she came through such a scary situation okay, especially after they watched the story about the wreck on the Internet. Needless to say, we're all big fans of seat belts on any bus that carries children now!

It's one more reminder of the importance of hugging your kids and telling them you love them whenever you go your separate ways for a few hours, since you never know what the day will bring. I hope you never have to experience a similar situation.

October 13, 2007

Conversations, Not Monologues, About Race

It's the proverbial elephant in the room for many multicultural professional settings, and let's face it, not many people feel comfortable talking about race face to face. By contrast, we can see lots of eye opening anonymous remarks posted throughout the blogosphere, including but certainly not limited to those about the Duke Lacrosse case and the lawsuit the exonerated athletes filed against the city of Durham.

There's also been plenty of online commentary about the new John Mellencamp single, "Jena." You can see and hear the song here:www.mellencamp.com.

That's why this column in Tuesday's Washington Post caught my eye: www.washingtonpost.com.

I'm very interested in your reaction to the Post column and the Mellencamp song, regardless of your racial or ethnic background. Here's our chance to start a conversation here, and I welcome your messages here.

September18, 2007

A Million Sold By Apple, But Some Feel Poked in the i

By now you've heard all about Apple's selling a million iPhones in just 74 days (www.broadcastingcable.com), then cutting the price by $200 while cutting the 4G model out of its lineup.

Would-be pioneers who paid up to $600 in order to be first on their block with the fancy phones were not amused (www.washingtonpost.com) and the company did some hasty damage control by offering people who complained $100 credit on a future purchase (weblogs.baltimoresun.com/business/appleaday/blog).

But there are apparently some conditions regarding that credit, noted within the link that ends the previous sentence, which could generate another blizzard of angry e-mail to Apple boss Steve Jobs. If you're one of the people with an iPhone who is feeling frustrated by the way the company's handling consumer reaction to the price cut, or if you think Jobs is a marketing genius who keeps turning PR lemons into lemonade, drop me a line at anthony.wilson@abc11mail.com. Your story could shed some light on how early adapters here in the Triangle really feel about all this!

Aug 28, 2007

Sick of Vick?

That's the title of one blog I've read about the ongoing Michael Vick saga. Some of them come down hard on Vick himself, but this ESPN column by former N&O sports writer Jemele Hill broadens the discussion with a warning to young men who might defend Vick's lifestyle choices. I've also read postings, some on this Web site which place blame for Vick on all black culture.

While some find that point of view extreme or misleading, there's more provocative criticism of the attitudes displayed by people who say they admire Vick's previously edgy image. Here's a discussion of one, produced as a satire, according to a story in the New York Times .

But while Vick and his troubles have dominated the headlines lately, another man whose life was devoted to artistic excellence and promoting another image of black men died, with little fanfare outside the world of jazz. Max Roach, born in North Carolina, lived for 83 years and spent most of them redefining the role of the drummer in music. Watch him here for a glimpse of someone who deserved much wider recognition, especially at a time when so many people are talking about how another talented African-American man's sidelined himself, over dogfighting.

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