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Every story I tell is purposeful. Whether I’m in news, PR or marketing, I strive to educate, enlighten and inspire. If you need a little help developing a web presence and content strategy for your brand, let me help tell your story. Send me a message here.

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Poverty Doesn’t Equal Culture

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So many World Cup tourists will rent out homes in Rio’s slums hoping to save money and acquire an artificial adventure. I appreciate that people want to immerse themselves in Brazilian culture, but I’m not sure that poverty equals culture.

This CNN article mentions how various slums are still not clear of drug lords, gangs, and gun violence. I’ve personally seen what it’s like when foreign thrill-seekers face “danger” – in the case I witnessed, a camera was stolen, which is not that dangerous – and they freak out! I don’t want to imagine how these people would have reacted had the bad event been actually dangerous, life-threatening.

So if you want to learn about Brazilian culture and can afford to stay outside of a favela, visit a samba school, eat at local cafes (and not McDonald’s), talk to people, etc. But don’t expect that you will truly experience what it’s like for a Brazilian to live in a slum. Why? Because you get to leave. And assuming you don’t live in a favela, you won’t know what it’s like to receive visitors who find your lack of space quaint and lack of public services exciting-living.

For those who decide to go slumming in the favelas anyway, only go where you are invited. Try to recognize who is being genuine with you versus who just wants your money. And don’t assume you are happier than those who live there.

South Florida’s Media and Tech Start-up Landscape Changing Slowly but Surely

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South Florida’s media landscape at first glance may not seem diverse or thriving when the top news organizations consumed by local audiences are dwindling, the talent is leaving, and the tech community, which would support a media capital, is still developing, slowly.

But some say the solution is to bring more innovative minds together such as with meetups and conferences like Hispanicize and Social Media Club of South Florida and allow for ideas to naturally flourish.

Alex de Carvalho, organizer of Social Media Club’s South Florida chapter, cited Richard Florida in this slideshow on what this tropical landscape needs: “The key to economic growth lies not just in the ability to attract the creative class, but to translate that underlying advantage into creative economic outcomes in the form of new ideas, new high-tech businesses, and regional growth.”

“Miami has to be itself, we are never going to be a Silicon Valley,” said Steven McKeon, CEO of Acceller, in a forum about South Florida’s start-up culture. He also pointed out the advantages, “The weather is huge, the real estate crash resulting in lower housing prices has helped with recruiting, and the cross-cultural connections are a big plus.”

But in the last few years, South Florida’s unemployment rate has been swinging between seven and 10 percent and has made it difficult for talented youth to find jobs.

“I can’t think of one friend in South Florida who has a successful career,” said Lauren Hord, 31, through a Public Insight Network survey to The Miami Herald last year.

For those who want to be journalists, the environment feels grimm.

A 2007 market research study done by the Sun Sentinel shows the top news organizations visited online in South Florida are the two major papers, Sentinel and Herald, as well as local TV stations from the major networks NBC, CBS, and Telemundo.

The Sun Sentinel put together a research project of South Florida's audience to understand the top media websites visited by local residents.

The Sun Sentinel put together a research project of South Florida’s audience to understand the top media websites visited by local residents.


But these organizations are struggling to stay alive as the industry rapidly evolves faster than these companies can adapt. And it has resulted in various layoffs.

In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Daniel Lafuente, co-founder of new tech start-up The LAB Miami, shared his thoughts on why businesses hesitate to root themselves in South Florida.

“We felt Miami lacked the platform to retain its top talent and allow them a place to cultivate their businesses,” said Lafuente. “They need to be able to stay here and have access to the same type of community you might get in San Francisco or New York.”

However, there is hope.

Visionaries such as Alex de Carvalho (previously mentioned); Manny Ruiz, founder of Hispanicize; Brian Breslin, founder of Refresh Miami, and many others are changing this landscape. They are paving the way for forward-thinking professionals to come together, brainstorm, and share resources on how to make ideas come true.

Organizations such as The Knight Foundation are one of those resources, often providing grants for hyperlocal news projects. And now the city of Miami is joining the movement to make South Florida a media and tech hub by funding $1 million worth of grants for entrepreneurs.

South Florida has everything it needs to become as big as other American metropolitan cities. The ground is fertile, but the laborers are few. But a few forward-thinking leaders planting the seeds is all it takes for the growth of innovation and talent.

Producing Stories from the Historic West Grove on Election Day

James Massey, born in 1940, grew up in the West Grove witnessing the community's civic evolution.

James Massey, born in 1940, grew up in the West Grove witnessing the community’s civic evolution. Photo by Tatiana Cohen.

“It’s very important to live in a country where you can say almost anything you want to say and not have threats to your life,” said 68-year-old and West Grove resident James Massey. He was referring to having lived in fear of the KKK in Coconut Grove and feeling liberated to speak his voice when he became eligible to vote in 1961.

I found his story when I hit the streets of “West Grove”, a sub-section of Coconut Grove, historically comprised of Afro-Caribbean settlers, to find voices representative of this community for an online multimedia project called Witnessing History in the West Grove 2008.

It’s an area that often is overlooked by mainstream media in South Florida, but that is civically active. And the goal for my University of Miami class of journalists was to document and package on the 2008 Election Day the stories representing this community’s sentiments on having a black president.

Andrea Ballocchi (right) and Walyce Almeida working in the West Grove to produce Witnessing History in the West Grove 2008.

Andrea Ballocchi (right) and Walyce Almeida working in the West Grove to produce Witnessing History in the West Grove 2008.

My classmate Andrea Ballocchi and I were producers on this project. We coordinated and supervised the teams of students and what stories they would work on as well as came up with the website’s design concept and ensured the execution.

It was one of my favorite jobs and it inspired me to pursue becoming a producer – a role I’m currently seeking to fill. (Check out my resume.)

Massey’s story and many others on the site made the project so rich and meaningful. And my talented teams told those stories beautifully. (Thank you Tatiana Cohen for helping me find James Massey and taking those gorgeous pictures of him.) Take a look at the multimedia website and let me know what you think.

Witnessing History in the West Grove 2008 - screenshot

Witnessing History in the West Grove 2008 – screenshot

Hello world!

Mattress in empty bedroom

Starting a career is kind of like getting your first apartment. After all the trouble I went through just to find an actual place, the work wasn’t over and my accomplished goals were meek in comparison to what I had yet to achieve.

This blog will feature some of my past work but will also be a place where you can follow me establishing my career. And maybe I’ll show you how my apartment turned out. 😉