Archive for July, 2009

Fortune

July 31, 2009

Celebrated Chineseness on Thursday.

Mom was concerned about selecting an auspicious wedding date, which is apparently important in Chinese tradition. So she checked our selected date against Chinese almanacs and the universe said it was acceptable. (Thank God, cause I already begged, stole and borrowed to nab photographer Channing away from other couples on the now-auspicious date.) somedudesmall

That night, a new banquet hall/dim sum restaurant opened in  North Austin and I made the trek to eat some fried tofu. And shrimp dumplings. And Peking duck. And BBQ pork buns. Stiles couldn’t make it so my friend J-Dehn stepped in (because who turns down fried tofu?). He even donned a Matt Stiles nametag.

That move wound up causing some, uh, confusion. Like when the Statesman entertainment writer saw us and got a picture for his blog. At first he captioned Justin as Matt, and when corrected he changed it to this awesome moniker… (Click to enlarge)

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Destination Confusion

July 29, 2009

We’re I’m beginning wedding planning for nuptials in Amsterdam next May, which is already proving to be a character test.

I’m only on the first task, which is finding a suitable wedding coordinator overseas and hiring him/her without meeting face-to-face. This means I must judge them by context clues, none of which has proven satisfying. There are the people called “Wedding Planners Amsterdam” (natch), only they commit the sin of having music on their website upon arrival.

Then, I spoke to a really nice lady via Skype who runs her wedding coordinating services out of Den Haag (The Hague). I thought things were moving along well until I received an email from her in Comic Sans typeface.*

Tried another place recommended by some people on a website, since I really have no guide but the internets. That place, called “WeddingIdeaz” (I don’t know why it’s one word), has yet to answer one of my phone calls.

At this rate, I know we’re going to wind up getting hitched at City Hall. Somewhere in America.

*I think I’m getting over this one. While this would be viewed as a huge infraction if committed by an American wedding planner,  I feel the cultural disdain for Comic Sans probably hasn’t reached across the Atlantic. Perhaps it hasn’t become a cliche in Europe yet?

Texas Tribune Startup Team Finalized

July 23, 2009

Finally, FINALLY, the whole founding team of the new Texas Tribune is official. Here’s the press release.

Ross Ramsey, a veteran capitol journalist who has headed political newsletter Texas Weekly, will join as our managing editor. Previously, Ramsey worked at the Houston Chronicle and Dallas Times-Herald.

Texas Weekly will be absorbed into Texas Tribune.

To review: Evan Smith is CEO, Ramsey is Managing Editor, reporters are Emily Ramshaw, Matt Stiles, Brandi Grissom, myself and Abby Rapaport is our junior reporter/editorial assistant.

We’re excited about everything ahead. The Austin Chronicle posted a quick blurb on it this morning.

“It’s really all about me,” says Evan Smith, explaining why after almost 18 years he is leaving Texas Monthly to helm a new media venture. Cutbacks at the magazine, forced by parent company Emmis Communications, “played no role,” said Smith, who was promoted to president last year. “It’s all about where I am and the fact that I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m ready to do something else.” That “something else” is the Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public issues journalism organization founded by Austin Ventures general partner John Thornton. Smith has been consulting with Thornton for the past year to help develop the project, which will “promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide interest,” according to a press release. Initial hires include KVUE reporter Elise Hu, former Houston Chronicle reporter Matt Stiles, and Emily Ramshaw of The Dallas Morning News. Texas Tribune is expected to formally launch later this year and plans to host events to help spur dialogue and revenue.

Also, I talked about the project this morning with Bryan Person for Media Bullseye. We’ll link to that video when it is up.

Onward

July 22, 2009

If you’re wondering what this blog space is about, some clarity.

In the spirit of social media, I thought it best to have a place to link to after I came out of the secret job closet yesterday. Down the road I imagine there will be plenty more personal adventures to chronicle.

I also take some random pictures on my iPhone nearly everyday. So I think I will start a series called, PhonePhoto, which I will post here.

So if you want to come back, I put a subscribe button on the bottom right corner of this page.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

July 21, 2009

I’m coming out of the secret job closet. This fall, I’ll be joining Evan Smith at the all-new Texas Tribune, a non-profit investigative journalism outfit that could launch as early as November.

The decision means leaving KVUE-TV in late August. I gave notice yesterday with a heavy heart.

In 2006, I leaped at the opportunity to come home to Texas and cover state politics for the leading television station in town. It married the two goals I laid out as a child — television news and political journalism. In my time at KVUE, I got the honor of witnessing moments of sheer brilliance and true degeneracy. And being here in Austin has led to the richest relationships, most fulfilling work and fondest memories of my adult life.

Like the time mutiny broke out in the Texas House. Or the time I interviewed Barack Obama in a bathroom. Or that one time a political consultant chewed me out for being racist against Asian-Americans. (True story).

I never imagined doing anything else besides television news. Countless friends and mentors helped me along the way. The stations that employed me also shaped me — taught me how to tell compelling stories, challenged me to be a better journalist.

But news as we know it is changing. Has changed. Will change more. I feel that those of us who trade in information; who work in a field where information is our currency, must lead in using new forms of media to continue our trade. To enliven it. To enhance it. To keep it from going away.

So I’m joining my great friends, mentors, former competitors and, (as a total coincidence) the man I’m going to marry, in pioneering the new landscape of civic-minded, investigative, multi-platform political journalism. Texas Monthly president/executive editor Evan ‘Almighty’ Smith made the resignation heard ’round the journoworld when he stepped down to lead this new venture last week. It will allow me to continue doing what I love, but in all kinds of new and interesting ways.

The most salient lesson I’ve learned during this time of true uncertainty is this: journalism is no longer a lecture from the vaunted few who get to be gatekeepers. Journalism today is a conversation. The best thing news organizations can do is moderate the ongoing conversation and maintain our highest calling — being stewards of the truth, acting as the people’s watchdog. I am confident the team assembled will loyally serve our first and most important purposes.

Taking this leap requires some risk and a paradigm shift. But times of great upheaval can come with even greater opportunity. And I’m proud to say I don’t have to abandon journalism.