July 1, 2010

Reporting "home" right

I should be packing. My apartment is littered with little piles that to the careful eye show off their unique purpose -- that's my way of saying it's messy. It's tricky to pack for an indefinite length of time while simultaneously moving everything out of my apartment. All I have is four doors and a dented trunk to get all my goods home next week. If it rains, I'm screwed. 

My closet went on a serious diet yesterday and I'm optimistic that I've got all my big things sold; which only means that I'll have a lackluster wardrobe and will have to spend some serious cash and time in Ikea once I return stateside... oh well, all these things are a small thing to sacrifice for the experience I'll be having once I leave- one month from right now.

In the meantime, I've been hired for an exciting gig. Back in high school I was interviewed by Al Jazeera (see me and my classmates in our graduating glory). A lot has changed at home since then, the oil industry is hot again; coupled with unfortunate economic times, northwest North Dakota is one of the few guaranteed bright spots for consistent paychecks in the entire country. The media has caught on to the high numbers of people living longterm in hotels, campers or pickup trucks in and around Williston and Al Jazeera wanted to see what sort of social and economic impact all of this is having on the communities in that part of the state.

After a few phone conversations, I was hired as the reporter for a Dateline-esque program for the Al Jazeera English channel. I'm very excited, but at the same time I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility. The past decade has brought countless unfavorable articles about my home, from National Geographic to the New York Times Magazine, written and photographed by talented journalists who got it wrong. In order for a story to happen, obviously a reporter needs to have an idea of the direction (s)he wants to go. Those reporters never got their preconceived notions out of their head and ended up forgoing necessary cultural and social context for their audience. My home was portrayed as a beautiful fossil of lost pioneer dreams. 

It's easy to portray northwest North Dakota like that; I want to switch things up though. I'm young, green and inexperienced in the field, but I'm a local -- here's to hoping I can portray that to the camera...At any rate, I'm grateful and thrilled for this opportunity that just kind of fell on my lap pre-China.

Alright... I probably should go do those dishes now....

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