Getting used to DC

I’m getting adjusted to how close so many attractions are to the convention center. NPR, one of my meccas of journalism, is literally across the street.

My initial accommodations are another example. I spent my first night in the International Hostel on 11th Street (where many young, frugal journalists are staying). The facility is relatively close to the Metro Center rail station — about four blocks. It’s a shame that I later realized that the main entrance to the “new” convention center is two-and-a-half blocks away.

The distance to the subway station would’ve been manageable had there not been a sudden cloudburst Wednesday night. Thankfully, nothing got soaked because of the refuge of the “old” convention center. As it turns out, the hostel is between both buildings.

The hostel was a nice, if old, place and I wish I got to spend more time getting to know the global trekkers that stayed there. However, I’m committed to stay at the Hyatt Hotel in Crystal City. I got a heckuva deal on rates, and I’m tickled pink that it’s near the Metro line (which goes right back to the convention center).

This post was originally created on Aug. 5, 2004. It was uploaded later.

Tapping into the future

WASHINGTON — What do drumsticks have to do with UNITY and promoting diversity in media? I was wondering that when the usher handed me a pair on entering UNITY’s opening ceremonies on a muggy, yet manageable Wednesday evening. Would there be performers like those in Broadway musicals like Stomp and Bring in da’ noise, Bring in da’ funk?

As it turns out, the audience used the sticks to applaud speakers and to keep the beat during the numerous dance interludes during the ceremonies. All the groups were extremely energetic and entertain, although I found the yellow jumpsuit/red bikini tops worn by the female members of the troupe representing the National Asssociation of Hispanic Journalists a little — bizarre.

The presidents of all four journalism organizations gave appropriately inspiring words about UNITY and promoting diversity. Their comments got me thinking about the meaning of “diversity” and what role it plays in the newsroom and in real life.

All the speakers were generally good, even the sponsors got a say. However, I think the mayor of Washington pushed his agenda for a true representative government in the district a little too hard after some positive opening remarks.

In the end, I was happy that one of my predictions came true. I thought it would be nice for all the dancing and performing groups to perform together. Sure enough, all the groups came on state at the end and started jamming. It looked a little awkward at first, but it came together when everyone started to get into the rhythm. Might their performance be an example for others trying to work together? We’ll see.

Later that night, I was awestruck by the beauty of the airy arches of Union Station. A great portion of the station was closed off for the UNITY opening reception.

The reception was huge — I got a real sense of what 7,500 people in the same room was like. The roar of the conversation in the cavernous room resembled the rumbling of the subway that the gathering was held over. It was easy to feel like a drop in a multicolored sea of people, but I thankfully met a few people toward the end.

One of the people I met — a PR guy from Philadelphia — described UNITY as a “Woodstock for ethnic journalists” albeit a more professional gathering. As the next three days approaches, it’ll be interesting to see events as they unfold.

This post was originally created on 4:49 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2004. It was uploaded later

It’s all in the bag

Just got into town, so here’s a few thoughts as the convention hall fills for the opening ceremonies.

One of the touted perks of convention going are the “goodies.” Since this is a journalism convention, I anticipate many pens, sample newspapers and brochures about media companies or certain causes.

Although I’ve only spent a limited time on the convention floor, many attendees are carrying around bags from several media chains. I don’t know if they’re handouts or if the attendees are actually from that company, but I’m interested in finding out.

One thing that I’m sure about is the handbag that’s included with the registration. The blue bag is emblazoned with the logos of UNITY and The New York Times. The bag appears to be very functional — with many pockets. If there’s one thing that’s true about me is that I like a lot of pockets — especially when I’m a mobile newsroom with notepad, recorder, camera, pen, etc. Although _everyone_ is carrying around these bags, they still look stylish.

Most of the pockets were empty, but the main section yielded some fruit. The pits and stems included most of the material from the sponsors, although the bottled water from the USA Today was nice. The guides to the career fair, visiting DC and the convention itself seemed handy.

This post was originally created on Aug. 4, 2004. It was uploaded later.

Linking up

My UNITY experience begins tomorrow although the convention has had events starting last Friday.

In preparation, here are some useful UNITY links that I’ve come across so far.

  • UNITY 2004 – It’s got almost everything you need know about the convention, including schedules, general information as well as links to tourism info around DC.
  • Knight Ridder at 2004 – A quick Google search turned up a couple of useful sites, including this one. Information about Knight Ridder’s presence at the convention. It also includes useful advice from recruiter Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Gannett at Unity – Information about Gannett and its UNITY effort.
  • Fun Patrol – This blog from Knight Ridder reporter Jon Fortt _should_ be useful in a few days when the convention gets into full swing.
  • AAJA UNITY Highlights – If you thought the UNITY schedule was daunting, the Asian American Journalists Association lists its events on a separate page. (So does the National Association of Black Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.) The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has a convention page

Lift off

I relaunched my professional Web site this morning. The site includes examples of my journalism work in writing, photography and design.

To accommodate the form and function of the new Web site, I’ve moved the professional Weblog to I will continue to post updates about my career and journalism-related information on this blog.

Speaking of journalism-related information: This week, I will be attending the UNITY 2004 convention in Washington DC. As the largest gathering of journalists of color in the United States, it’s a terrific opportunity to meet hundreds of media professionals from all over the country.

I’ve set up a special UNITY blog where I will be posting updates and information from the convention floor as time permits.

I encourage you to take a look around the entire site. Please contact me if you have comments or questions. Contact ryan -at-

Setting course for DC…

Hey. I’m going to head to DC Wednesday morning. I should be in DC in time for the first evening of the convention. There’s going to be a lot going on, and I’m eager to experience my first journalism convention and first visit to the nation’s capital.

Regional pasty to be Arnold’s humble pie photo

I wrote a fun, little story the other day about a pasty being shipped to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to fulfill a little bet between him and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The above photo shows Schwarzenegger fulfilling the bet, but you can read my original story here.

Latest photography

Smoke from the burning Gundlach Champion building casts a shadow over the Houghton waterfront on April 24. Ryan Olson-Daily Mining Gazette

Ryan Olson/Daily Mining Gazette

Smoke from the burning Gundlach Champion building casts a shadow over the Houghton waterfront on April 24. The smoke, visible from miles away, drew many on-lookers to the Portage Lake Shipping Canal to see firefighters battle the fire.

Firefighters atop the City of Houghton Volunteer Fire Department’s ladder truck spray a jet of water into the flames that engulfed the Gundlach Champion building on the Houghton waterfront April 24. Four departments worked for nine hours to extinguish the blaze, which gutted the 100-year-old building.
Ryan Olson/Daily Mining Gazette
Firefighters atop the City of Houghton Volunteer Fire Department’s ladder truck spray a jet of water into the flames that engulfed the Gundlach Champion building on the Houghton waterfront April 24. Four departments worked for nine hours to extinguish the blaze, which gutted the 100-year-old building.

My long-planned update for this Web site is moving forward. I have a tentative design in place, and I’m starting to work on graphics. In the meantime, I wanted to put these photos up because I’m happy with my effort and the photos received some praise when they published.

On the morning of April 24, I was heading in to WMTU to do my morning radio show. As I moved across the bridge, I realized that I wasn’t going to get to my show on time.

What looked like an early dawn cloud from a distance was actually the Herman Gundlach building ablaze. I called the radio station to let them know I was going to be late because of work. I hit the Gazette (which was a block from the fire).

As I’m about to leave work for the fire, my co-worker Garrett Nesse pops up. We decided to divide the labor — Garrett would write the story and I would shoot photos until a photographer could be contacted.

Given that I only had to shoot photos, I had time to work on shooting and getting the best photos. For the first time, I used up an entire card of memory for a story (about 64 photos). I really worked to capture the scene up close.

I moved across the bridge to the Quincy smelter site because I wanted to capture the fire from a different angle. I wasn’t certain that these photos would be used because typically the newspaper is focused on the action.

Ultimately the long shot of the fire casting a smoky cloud over the area was the shot that was used out of the hundreds of photos that were submitted.

Post edited on Aug. 3, 2004

Gazette staffers perform well in Michigan AP awards

Reporters and a photographer from The Daily Mining Gazette performed well in several categories in the Michigan AP Editorial Association awards announced Thursday. Competing in Division I with other newspapers having circulations up to 15,000, the Gazette won five shield-shaped plaques including four 1st place finishes, according to The Associated Press.

Former sports writer Kevin Colbert and I won first place in sports enterprise reporting. Our series of stories covered the death and resurrection of the Michigan Tech University football team in March 2003.

I’m very excited to win a first-place award to recognize all the effort Kevin and I put into the series. There was a lot of research combined with breaking news pressures in those 15 days last March.

This marks my first “number one” win in the AP awards. During the past three years, I’ve won a third-place and a second-place shield. By the way, all the award-winning stories will shortly be posted on

Other Gazette staffers received the following kudos:

— Former staff writer Zac Anderson won first place in enterprise reporting for The Final Bell looking at the final days of a small, rural high school.

— The paper’s sports staff earned first place mention in sustained coverage of a single sports event for covering the Professional Walleye Trail championship. Writers included Kevin Colbert, Jim Junttila, Garrett Neese and Erik Johns.

— Former Chief Photographer Michele Jokinen’s photo of a fire in Ripley won first place for news picture.

— Anderson and Neese received a third-place award in sustained coverage of a single news event for their series on the “school funding crisis.”

While the Gazette didn’t win the most awards in our division — that honor goes to the Petoskey News-Review and their eight plaques — we did win the most first-place mentions. The Luddington Daily News and the Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant won three apiece.

The Gazette’s sister papers in Iron Mountain and Alpena each picked up two awards. The sweepstakes winners in newswriting will be announced next week.

The awards will be presented at the annual banquet May 8 at the Lansing Sheraton. Of course, due to the distance between Houghton and Lansing, Gazette staffers don’t frequently attend. Instead, Gazette faithful flock to the paper’s annual Christmas party where the awards are handed out like tasty holiday treats.