Mayor of Ashkelon, Israel visits Baltimore!

"Benny Vaknin, Mayor of Ashkelon, Israel, awaits his introduction at a reception promoting the Baltimore-Ashkelon partnership Wednesday, June 15, 2011."

Tonight I was invited to a dinner reception honoring the Mayor of Ashkelon, who is currently visiting Baltimore from Israel to continue growing the already strong partnership between the two cities. 

It was a nice gathering that brought me right back to my time in Israel and has me thinking of my friends from Ashkelon. Benny seemed to have a warm and calming personality, which made it easy to get some cheerful portraits like this one. He also happened to choose the seat right next to me, so I enjoyed listening to his Hebrew chatter over salmon and hummus. 

This dinner also reminded of my “camera as an extension of me” philosophy. It’s funny how people you haven’t seen in awhile recognize you simply because you’ve got your camera over your shoulder. 

Haitian journalist cites shortcomings of American media


"Mr. Joel Dreyfuss, Managing Editor of 'The Root,' collects his thoughts before delivering a lecture on media coverage of the crisis in Haiti at Goucher College Tuesday, March 1, 2011."

Mr. Joel Dreyfuss, Managing Editor of The Root, an online magazine published by The Washington Post providing news and commentary from varying black perspectives, spoke at Goucher College last week about media coverage following last year’s earthquake in Haiti.

He addressed several shortcomings of American media, most of which he said were exemplified through coverage of this crisis.

Dreyfuss’ main talking point was that reporters and large media outlets didn’t take enough into account the complex history and culture of Haiti and its people. He mentioned how most journalists who were sent to Haiti were briefed with ten-page packets merely containing the most important moments in Haitian history. Because of this limited knowledge of history, stories that touched on more deep-seated, longstanding issues were missed.

I had dinner with Mr. Dreyfuss before his lecture, and he asked us if we were sure that we wanted to go into the field of journalism. We all nodded our heads in assent, yet after listening to him speak about all the problems journalism has today, I was a bit confused. I reminded him of that question he asked at dinner, and I asked him what he would advise for a young person who wants to address those problems?

I appreciated his answer, which was simple, honest and realistic. He said that for the most part, those who have worked in the media for years are jaded, and that journalism needs youth and enthusiasm.

He summed his answer up in two words: “Do it.”