Archive for 'News'

When Mrs. Ethel Kennedy called to tell me that the depth reporting class at University of Nebraska I was teaching along with my longtime friend and colleague Joe Starita had won a Robert F Kennedy Journalism award, we talked about several things. Most especially, we talked of the power of the work these young journalists had done, the situation in Pine Ridge, and a little about another young journalist and the impact of winning an RFK. From the RFK announcement of the 2017 awards: “The Wounds of Whiteclay: Nebraska’s Shameful Legacy,” Depth Reporting Class with Professor Bill Frakes and Professor Joe Starita, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For nine months, a dozen University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism students focused a bright light on Nebraska’s darkest spot. Whiteclay - a village of less than a dozen people with four liquor stores that in 2016 sold 3.5 million cans of beer, which flowed illegally into South Dakota’s nearby dry Pine Ridge Reservation. The students’ multimedia project used in-depth stories, haunting photographs and compelling video to expose the lawless environment, rampant fetal alcohol syndrome, human trafficking and unsolved murders that ultimately helped force the revocation of the beer store licenses by Nebraska’s courts on April 27." This is journalism that makes a difference. It's impact will continue to grow through the years as change happens through work done because of the information presented. Its' what we do. The award-winning project can be found at: The first time I visited the RFK awards I was young. I was on the staff of the Miami Herald. My winning entry then was about my friend Missy Koch, a University of Miami student who was diagnosed with cancer. For a year, I followed her journey, from leg amputation to recovery, and we published a 25-page story in the Miami Herald Sunday magazine on Christmas day 1984.     Missy and I share something unique, powerful. I was with her during a very intense year of her life. We were friends when we started, and that friendship got progressively deeper and stronger through the year.   We've stayed in touch through the years. I have incredible respect and appreciation for the way she sees the world. That hasn't changed in the four decades I've known her. She's a wonderful combination of smart, strong, sweet, feisty and tough. Missy and I talked long and hard before telling her story.  She had a tough painful road ahead of her, but knew she would prevail. She wanted others to be able to be empowered from what she was going through, I wanted to show her strength and how very intense and delicate it all was. Missy's done much for many in her life, and I need to call her today; to see how she’s and her husband Todd are doing and where their kids are in their journeys.  

Missy's husband Todd has written a fine book about Missy's story:
 "Run to Win: The Trials and Triumphs of Missy Koch Billingsley."

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? The new 2016 Nebraska Project calendar is now on our store. Support The Nebraska Project by checking out the calendar and the new prints for sale. If you don't see what you want just let us know and we will track it down for you. Shop today! Tractor_Meadow_Fade   Calendar_2016_01  

My friend Amine Khoury; a kind, thoughtful, gentle man of letters was telling me one fine fall morning that one of his greatest desires in life was to be able to fully share his love of his native Lebanon, especially Beirut, with the world. 


As we talked, I felt his sadness about the lack of international understanding for the city.  Sitting on his balcony far above the burgeoning populous, a gentle breeze carrying the aroma of the sea, the scents of thousands of flowers, and wafting smells of delicious cooking foods we spoke over strong coffee, wonderful Arabic bread and walnuts.  He explained that if people could just see the love, life and laughter the city contains through children’s perspectives, the world would view the city as the vibrant metropolis it is - full of life, culture, food, music, grace and style. 


Beirut is tucked tightly along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean—a city known for a long time  as the Paris of the Middle East.  As a man who made the first of at least  50 visits to Paris as a 15 year old, more than 40 years ago, I can tell you without question that the comparison fits—except I find the citizenry of Beirut far more affable and engaging than those of the French capital.

Beirut is a visually stunning place. The faces of the people are glorious.  The fashion diverse, yet consistently immaculate. From the apartments overlooking the coast, snow capped peaks are visible much of the year. It’s magic.   

There are of course the scars left by the conflict the place has endured.  Those wounds are slowly being eradicated by booming real estate construction. 

Lebanon itself is a small country, less than the size of Wales, but it’s people have had a massive impact on the history of civilization. From Byblos the ancient Phoenicians exported the alphabet making possible so many of the great literary joys and treasures the world enjoys. Perhaps the  DNA the modern Lebanese share with their ancestors  is the reason they venture far and wide sharing a marvelous sense of, well, simply embracing life with a joy, a fervor for education and the security of close companionship that is especially gained through a commonality of understanding.   

It’s clear that children have a unique perspective, one that is not clouded with bias, and they are excited to share their ideas with the world. It’s Amine’s vision, and passion, and the love for country, family—both personal and his students  that drove us to want to partner with the Eastwood College for the Beirut Through Our Eyes project. 


I’m pleased that this week, we are back in Beirut, helping nine hundred students make a film about their hometown.  Each level of the Eastwood College ranging from pre K to 12th grade will work together to document a different aspect of the city as only they can. The students will share their insights through words written and spoken, images still and moving, dance and drawing. The results of their work will be displayed in a short documentary film, and an iBook.     


Beirut Through Our Eyes is about digital citizenship. It is about teaching storytelling.  It’s about pride.  It’s about sharing. This film festival is a way for the students to spread the joys of creativity, filmmaking, and education.

I hope you‘ll have a chance to follow the progress of  the project on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags #BeirutThroughOurEyes #LiveLoveBeirut #EastwoodCollege #EastwoodSchools.


Iceland is the land of fire and ice; volcanoes and glaciers. iceland4 It is a land of extremes. Extreme weather. Extreme landscapes. Extreme beauty. iceland Last year we took a group of 12 friends to Iceland, starting and ending our trip in Reykjavik – one of the coziest capital cities in the world. iceland5 We trekked from the eastern city of Höfn, all the way down across the southern coast, inland to Geysir, then west to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Our driver, Solveig, seemed to never tire, always willing to keep going – to keep looking for photos. iceland2 Our trip brought us a lot of everything. We saw icebergs off the Vatnajökull, puffins on the coast, waterfalls coming out of canyons, black beaches. We watched the Strokkur explode at the Geysir Geothermal Park, we bathed in the blue lagoon outside of Keflavik, we ate local food and even crashed a wedding. The trip was one for the ages. And we’re going back. Iceland3 We’ve teamed back up with Solveig, our driver extraordinaire, and are trying something new. An even better itinerary than last year. This time heading north and west. This will mean fjords, glaciers, geothermal areas, whale watching and more. We leave August 12 from Reykjavik and stay until August 21. We can’t wait to start this new adventure and hope you will want to join us. If you’re interested, let us know. We’re always happy to have more of our friends share in these experiences.

This time of year brings us one of the most emotionally charged events in sport - March Madness. The NCAA Tournament. We covered the rounds of 64 and 32 with Sports Illustrated in Jacksonville, FL. Check out our story and some of our favorite images from those games. SI_Basketball

Georgia State’s coach Ron Hunter falls off his stool after his son, RJ, hit the game winning three point shot to advance the Panthers to the round of 32.

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