I currently write and edit The Lede, a news blog for home page of The New York Times Web site.
This just in - a blog post for City Room, on The New York Times site, combining text and video. The first question I got from a friend was whether I'd shot the video on my phone (inspired, I hope, by my experiments in moblogging with the Nokia N-series cameraphones) - but no, this was shot on my Sony HD camera. The fact that streaming video shot on a $5,000 camera does in fact look not much, if at all better than streaming video shot on a $500 cameraphone does give me pause though... Especially given that you can post video shot on the N95 phone directly to the Web from the phone itself - or even use it to stream live video online.
January 25, 2008 | Permalink
Here are some of the multimedia projects I've worked on since I became the Web producer on the Foreign desk at The New York Times:
December 01, 2007 | Permalink
TV Stardom on $20 a Day. The New York Times, Dec. 11, 2005.
The Global War on Terroir. GQ, December, 2005.
Robot Jockeys. The New York Times Magazine, Dec. 11, 2005.
Video Podcasts. The New York Times Magazine, Dec. 11, 2005.
The Phraselator. The New York Times Magazine, Dec. 12, 2004.
Talking to the Office Manager About Comedy. The New York Times, Oct. 12, 2003.
Questions for Arianna Huffington. The New York Times Magazine, Jan. 19, 2003.
Paint Into Pixels. The New York Times Magazine, May 12, 2002.
(Original Web version, where available.)
Questions for Michael Apted. The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 14, 2001.
Lives: Red Terror. The New York Times Magazine, July 1, 2001.
Lives: 'You don't have to take the bait'. The New York Times Magazine, May 21, 2000.
A Comedy in Error, Guardian Unlimited, February 27, 2007.
Football, But Not As We Know It, Guardian Unlimited, January 15, 2007.
Far Too Late For Surgery. Guardian Unlimited, December 21, 2006.
An American No-Flight Zone? The New York Times, Op-Ed, Dec. 7, 2002.
Drinking and Driving. Slate, May 14, 2001.
For the Love of the Game Show. The New York Times, Op-Ed, April 7, 2001.
The Serbo-Croatian Football War. Trans World Sport, September, 1999. 8 minutes.
Les Paul Live at the Iridium. The New York Times on the Web, July, 2003. 3 minutes.
Draga and Nada's Video Letters. United Nations Television, 1994. 10 minutes.
July 06, 2006 | Permalink
(Click on photo to enlarge.)
Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you! This image was sent directly from my Nokia N90 camera phone to this web page by e-mail - my first successful test of the moblog feature that will allow me to post text, images, and even sound and video created on the phone to the web. The first application, for me, will be posting images of fans of all nations watching the upcoming World Cup games at various points around New York to the World Cup '06 blog on the New York Times Web site. Moblogging means that I can post reports directly to the web from anywhere on the planet I can get a cell signal. Add in a small wireless keyboard and this really has the potential to be a revolutionary technology for journalists.
UPDATE: Here is the complete photo series New York Watches the World Cup I shot and posted on-line using just the phone. I used Flickr to send these images of fans in New York reacting to events in Germany directly to the blog on the New York Times web site during the games. This meant that we were able to illustrate our live descriptions of the games with images of fan reaction that appeared on the web within minutes of goals being scored or fouls being committed. This moblogging experiment was featured in this report by the video blog Rocketboom and in this article by the Argentine journalist and tech scholar Julián Gallo, whose article in La Nacion inspired me to figure out how to adapt the Times blog template to make this possible.
May 21, 2006 | Permalink
Lives: Red Terror
The New York Times Magazine, July 1, 2001
The story of an escape from Ethiopia
By Mekbib Gemeda as told to Robert Mackey
In 1979, in my homeland, Ethiopia, it was the time we call the Red Terror. The military government was killing people - there was a fight between the government and an opposition group - and there were bodies on the street every day. They left them out each morning for everybody to see, with slogans painted on them like, ''This Is an Enemy of the People.''
I was a theater student at the university. I had some great teachers, but there was no freedom of expression - you just had to say, blah, blah, blah, the usual propaganda. I was looking for a way out, so I applied for a government scholarship to study film in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
I wasn't really involved with the opposition. But if you had gone to a meeting or had read a pamphlet, you were already in trouble with the government. You had to be with one side or the other. The only thing to do was try to be invisible, but you can't be, not altogether. One day when I was visiting a friend at work, they came to pick him up and they took me too. I didn't ask any questions nor did I know who they were exactly.
At the district prison where we were taken, they beat us and tried to get us to admit that we were part of some conspiracy to overthrow the government. You would say, ''It's not true,'' and they would tell you, ''Yes, it is'' and beat you, and then you would go through the whole ordeal again. They had the power to kill you and not to inform anyone. And that was exactly what they were doing. The most terrifying time was around midnight, when they would call out the names of people they would take to kill that night. You would just lie there and wait for your name. One of those nights, I remember the person lying beside me suddenly got up, having heard his name. From the crowd of prisoners huddled together on the ground came a low voice of support saying, ''Courage, brother,'' as he reluctantly shuffled toward his assassins.
Eventually, they took us to a central prison. It was built for about 500 people, and there were thousands in there. They were mostly political prisoners, including the grandchildren of Haile Selassie, the emperor who had been deposed by the current government. But there were also armed robbers and murderers.
You had to make your own place to sleep. There was a shanty town made of cartons and plastic sheets. It was fantastic, like something out of science fiction. In some ways it was beautiful. It was a madhouse, but also the freest place in town. You could say what you wanted to. I met people there I hadn't seen in years. Everybody invited you for tea, and you would sit and talk.
While I was there, I found out that the Ministry of Education had called me at home. I had won the scholarship! But I thought: There is no way I'll get to go. Here, they keep people for years and years with no trial. Somehow, about three months later, for some crazy reason, my friend and I got out. It was very mysterious to me how it happened. There was no question that I was supposed to stick around. They were still doing some kind of investigation.
The next day, I went to the Ministry of Education and said, ''What's the situation?''
''Where were you?'' they said. ''We were looking for you.''
I lied and said I was in the countryside because of a death in the family, and they said: ''Well, now you'll have to hurry.'' By now the school year had started, and the other students had left for Yugoslavia. ''Where is your paperwork?'' they asked. They sent me off to get a kind of clearance from my neighborhood, from the political cadres, saying that I wasn't involved in any bad political activities. It was the same government, just another office. That's when I thought, Well, then, it won't work out.
I was in another district when they picked me up. I knew someone in my neighborhood's office, so it wasn't as if they looked closely at me. In the end I got the clearance. But I was still scared I would be blocked at some point, getting my passport or my visa. Everywhere I went I was thinking, This is the moment someone's going to say, ''Where do you think you're going?'' But nobody said anything. In a week, it was all done.
Going to the airport, I was miserable and dazed because I hadn't slept for days. I could see relief in my mother's eyes for getting what any mother in Ethiopia would have wished for at the time, her son's leaving the country. The whole way I was thinking, Somewhere, someone is going to stop me. My family dropped me off and said goodbye, and I was still thinking: Don't leave. I'll need a ride back. When I think of it now, it seems impossible. But they just stamped my passport, and that was it. I didn't really feel any relief until the plane took off and we were flying over the highlands in the north. I remember looking down and thinking: That's really it. I am never going to come back to this place again.
March 15, 2006 | Permalink
Interview with Arianna Huffington
The New York Times Magazine, Jan. 19, 2003
RM: How did your TV commercials connecting S.U.V.'s to terrorism get started?
AH: After watching the drug-war ads equating taking drugs to terrorism, I wrote a column making a link between driving gas-guzzling cars like S.U.V.'s and supporting countries that fund terrorists. And at the end of this column I had what I considered a rhetorical question: would anyone be willing to pay for a people's ad campaign to jolt our leaders into reality? The next morning I woke up to a flood of over 5,000 e-mails. So I called two great friends of mine who are sort of activists in their own ways. One is Laurie David, who is an environmental activist and married to Larry David, who put the first hybrid cars on his show, ''Curb Your Enthusiasm.''
RM: I've noticed he's driving a funny car on the show, what seems like a funny car for L.A.
AH: He's a complete believer in it - in fact, he came to our press conference yesterday in his Prius.
RM: Doesn't everyone in Hollywood drive an S.U.V.? Didn't you?
AH: Yes. Absolutely. That's really the nation-divided, the city-divided element that's going on. There are S.U.V.'s everywhere.
RM: What kind of car do you drive now?
AH: I drive a hybrid Prius.
RM: Since when?
AH: I've been driving it for six, seven months. I mean, I'm a new convert. And that's why I'm not here like a holier-than-thou person. I was driving a Lincoln Navigator until November 2001.
RM: You wrote a book about the Greek gods and goddesses and their lessons for modern life. They're not really famous for their self-restraint - wouldn't they all drive S.U.V.'s?
AH: I think Hermes would definitely be driving a hybrid car. He really understood complexity and could handle it. He was the god of the underworld and the god of commerce, just to give you an idea. Zeus would probably be flying.
RM: What would Maria Callas drive? You wrote a biography of her too.
AH: Maria Callas would not drive. Prima donnas do not drive. But the best thing going on here now, people who do not drive, but use drivers, now have chauffeur-driven Priuses.
RM: Do you know what Prius means?
AH: No, I'll have to find out. It sounds vaguely naughty. With my Greek accent a lot of things sound vaguely naughty.
RM: Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Patricia Arquette are some of the people driving hybrids. Don't you worry that since celebrities are always pitching something, your effort will seem like just another ad campaign for Toyota?
AH: Basically Washington is in the pocket of Detroit, so we need all the forces we can gather, and if those forces include celebrity, fabulous. Incidentally over the last few days I am finding out there are a lot of people driving hybrids who are not publicizing it - Kirk Douglas and Richard Dreyfuss, for instance.
RM: Are you worried that your movement will be swept out of sight if we go to war with Iraq and that's what the news is all about?
AH: I don't really think so. You know, in one day, yesterday, we got more than 400,000 hits on the Web site. We're already having people signing the pledge to give up their S.U.V.'s.
RM: You have a pledge?
AH: Yes, they don't have to put their hand on the Bible and swear, but so far 4,000 people have signed up in the first two days.
RM: Can 4,000 people really scare Washington and Detroit?
AH: First of all, this is just the beginning, but secondly a very small aroused minority is all that it takes in our democracy at the moment to scare Washington. They scare very easily.
RM: You're thought of as a conservative, and you serve on the board of the Points of Light Foundation, so what do you say to your conservative friends who drive S.U.V.'s?
AH: I have reregistered as an independent - but I don't think it's a left-right issue. A lot of Republicans share this concern. But I still have a lot of friends who drive S.U.V.'s, and my personal response is not to browbeat them but to help them connect the dots. And if they still choose to drive an S.U.V., that's their choice. You know, I have a lot of my friends making wrong choices all the time.
March 15, 2006 | Permalink
Lives: 'You Don't Have to Take the Bait'
The New York Times Magazine, May 21, 2000
India – that’s the name she goes by - works undercover for Check-a-Mate, a New York City company that investigates men and women on behalf of their romantic partners. Here she speaks to Robert Mackey about life as a sexual decoy.
I've done decoy work for about five years now. I started out doing it as a favor for my friends, to see if their boyfriends were worth their time. I would try to talk to them, just socialize. If I could get the guy's phone number, I would tell my friend: ''I don't think he's worth your time. I think he's really a player.'' Then I saw Jerry Palace on TV talking about Check-a-Mate. I said, ''Wow, I can get paid for this!''
How it works is, women who are suspicious of their husbands or boyfriends go to Jerry. He asks them what their story is -- are they married or engaged or dating? What kind of women is the guy attracted to? They might see a photo of me to see if I'm the right type. The wives tell us if there's a regular club he goes to; if she doesn't know, we'll follow him and see where he heads.
I just walk in there, I try to make myself visible, maybe smile, have eye contact, let him know that I'm interested. Physically, I have gone as far as kissing, but I don't think there's a need to go that far. I don't do it the way the other girls do -- I don't go in for the kill. I don't think that's fair, because a lot of these guys are in their 40's or 50's, they've been married for God knows how long and here's a woman who's attractive coming on to them. They're like: ''Man, I never got an opportunity like this. Let's go for it.'' It may just be a one-night thing, and he may really not be a cheater.
I have a recorder hidden in my purse. I put it right on top of the bar, or wherever I am, and we can record both of us talking. We go for different kinds of proof, that depends on the wife. We had one at a restaurant where the wife walked in while her husband and I were hugging and I had my head on his shoulder. She wanted to catch him right in the act. I remember looking in his eyes when he got up. You could tell that he felt bad for me, and I felt bad for him, but I knew it was the right thing to do. It's a very strange thing: you know you're doing the right thing, but it's an uncomfortable feeling.
You can definitely tell which man is just flirting and which man wants to get in your pants. And I can also distinguish between a sleazeball and the guy who took the opportunity because he never thought he'd get one again. Those are the ones I'm a little bit iffy about. I feel bad because I know it was just the moment; they didn't think of what the repercussions would be. But still, what's done is done.
I've had more than 100 cases, and I would say out of 100, about 98 fall for it. The main question that people ask me is, Don't you feel bad that you're ruining marriages? And I always say, Well, I didn't ruin it; he did. I don't think it's a trap. A trap takes you in whether you like it or not. I think I am bait. You don't have to take the bait; you have the freedom to walk away. So do I feel bad that he got caught? And his marriage is ruined? No, I don't. Not at all. I feel bad that this woman had to put her life into this man and then realize he's not at all what she thought he was. That's what I feel bad about. And I'm not knocking men -- this goes for both genders. If this person is misleading you, you should know, and get out, and go pursue your life with someone who can offer you a little bit more.
Do I believe in love? I think it's still out there somewhere -- I don't know, I'd like to think it is. But I'm not looking for it, because people play too many head games nowadays. And most people don't know who they are, so they're constantly being something they're not, trying to be everything you want them to be. And then you see the true colors too many years later, and then you've wasted all those years on someone. I can't do that. It's sad, it really is. If you think you're settling, you're better off alone.
March 14, 2006 | Permalink