I had the honor to cover Hurricane Katrina, and to fly with Gen. Russel Honore--who took military command of New Orleans--to Biloxi to see the damage there. My producer Teshima Walker and I saw starving dogs, and she saw the body of fallen resident.
Most of the time the team --- guest host-turned-fulltime host Tony Cox, plus all of our producers and staff -- did a studio-based show that had some serious fresh approaches to news.
We did our bloggers roundtables.....
Africa update.....like our interview with Zimbabwe's then-opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. (He's now Prime Minister in a power-sharing agreement with President Mugabe.)....
newsmaker interview (like this one with then-Senator Obama)....
At this critical time when diversity is too often considered an "extra," please give love to News and Notes just because... and also because it sets an expectation of what we need and want from public media... all media, really. Are we willing to support the hiring of people of color, women, and GLBT community members; people with disabilities too; not just in word but in deed? And what have we learned about how to train people and provide mentorship so folks can stay in the game and make it to to the top?
We know a lot. Just check this manifesto by former NPR staffer and Next Generation Radio Chair Doug Mitchell.
He writes about Finding them and Keeping Them: The Next Generation of [Public Radio] Talent.
I have one letter I will share with you now, with permission of the author. I will ask other folks who emailed me privately if they can repost or I can repost their words.
Please share your thoughts about how News and Notes impacted your life, and any good wishes for the folks who worked on it. Urge people to come here DIRECTLY to share. If you do it on Facebook or a proprietary system, not everyone can be a part..
In any case, Rob from Louisiana sent this:
I was hooked from the moment I heard your roundtable discussion. With a society inundated with perspectives of the majority (whites), it was sobering to have a show that provided excellent journalism from the black perspective. It is by far my favorite NPR show. When my local station dropped the show so did my contribution. I am not a minority- white middle class male talking to you here- and I cherish the show. I have been subscribing via itunes for months now. It is the best part of my mornings, finding a new show daily, uploading to ipod and off to work. I am deeply troubled at the disappearance of a great and needed show. I want to thank you and let you know how much the show (and everyone who contributed to it) has enriched my life.
There is a community that can support and wants to support diversification within public radio. News and Notes was anything but vanilla radio.
I saw from your twitter that letters from all over the world are showing the love, which is fantastic. I have learned so much about Africa and the African American perspective from the show that I know how little know. If I listed all the things I learned from the show this email would be longer. I am unaware of any show that provided a form for bloggers/journalist to share thoughts and ideas. For me there is now a void.
However, I am optimistic that the next evolution will be better.
PLEASE post your farewells to News and Notes here. Be specific and please stay positive in your remarks... I want to hear the fullness of critique and comment, but think of this as signing a high school year book. News and Notes and all of you who represent our community are graduating... and I'd love to stay in touch.