July 10, 2016 (Week 2)
After the group settled on our topic (the Bridge Outreach Shelter’s closing), I researched as many secondary articles as I could find. My team members subsequently found more articles, and I read them all. Thus, I not only have an informed understanding of the subject but also know of the usual angles taken by Saint Louis reporters.
On July 6, Nick Borella and I conducted a pre-interview with Tom Burnham, Program Director of Peter and Paul’s Community Services and founding member of the Bridge. I wrote a log of this interview and highlighted important points that we should expand upon during the formal interview, which I will attend along with my other group members tomorrow evening.
I contacted Mo Costello (owner of Mokabe’s coffee shop and prominent homeless rights advocate) who may not have time to be interviewed, but she placed me in contact with Teka Childress (founder of Winter Outreach). Teka Childress has agreed to be interviewed (date pending). I also sent an email to Chad Rulio (former interim Executive Director of the Bridge) and Eddie Roth (Director of Human Services) asking to schedule an interview. I will follow up on this request next week if I don’t hear anything back.
Overall, I still have a lot of work to do scheduling key interviews, but I think we will have some good audio to work with shortly.
July 17, 2016 (Week 3)
On Monday, July 7, I helped conduct an interview with Tom Burnham at the Peter and Paul Community Center, because the group agreed he is an informed and engaging source of background knowledge regarding Saint Louis’s homeless population. To prep for this interview, I compiled a list of basic facts related to our story and drafted a set of general talking points. Under each general point, I included specific questions. I shared this document with the rest of my team and received their input, which gave us a general plan for gathering useful actualities.
Because Tom wanted to hold the interview in an echoey room with a large fan in the background, I wanted to make sure this tape was usable. I spent a few hours the next day experimenting with Audacity’s effects to successfully normalize the audio and reduce the noise of the fan.
During our storyboard workshop, the group agreed that we could not proceed much further without gathering some stories from individuals who are homeless in Saint Louis. We currently see a number of ways to frame the closing of Bridge Outreach, so our final direction will be determined by whatever happen to be the most interesting stories we get on tape. Thus, I called the owner of Bridge Bread (a local bakery recently affiliated with the Bridge) at Amelie’s suggestion. The owner, Fred Domke, confirmed that three of his bakers have recently stayed at the Bridge and invited us to bake with them. We think this will give us some unique audio, but we may need to schedule another one-on-one interview if someone’s story seems especially moving.
Finally, on Saturday morning, I helped conduct an interview with Teka Childress and her associates from Winter Outreach. We held this interview because Winter Outreach works in the downtown area, and we wanted their perspective on how the closing of Bridge has impacted people’s access to services.
I believe that I will spend next week tracking down more interviews and audio, but we should be ready to jump into the editing process the following week.
July 24, 2016 (Week 4)
On Wednesday, I visited the Compton Missionary Baptist Church. Men who stayed at Bridge Outreach during the day are transported to this temporary shelter each morning. I attempted to schedule a tour of this facility over the phone, but I never received a response. Thus, I spoke with Sarge (the man running the shelter) in person. He asked me to follow up with his supervisor, Angela Morris. She agreed to schedule interviews with the shelter’s clients, but I have yet to hear an update. I will follow up with her on Monday morning.
On Thursday, I attended a meeting held by the Reverend Larry Rice regarding Board Bill 66 and the future of New Life Evangelistic Center. Our goal was to collect some potentially usable audio (which we did) and to schedule an interview with Larry Rice. We scheduled the interview for 11:30 on Monday. We will record our tour of New Life facilities and ask Larry about the effect of the city’s policies on the downtown homeless population. We will also interview people who stay at the shelter.
Nick and I planned to walk from Christ Cathedral to New Life on Saturday to interview those who are staying on the streets. We planned to record ambient street music, and we hoped to collect audio from the park on 14th and Olive because this location has come up during multiple interviews. We planned to interview residents of the nearby condos, the homeless who frequent the park, and even the police officers who monitor the area. However, this seemed like a bad day to collect street interviews because of the heat index. We will have to push this to week 5, which will make this next week especially busy and crucial if we are to stay on schedule.
July 31, 2016 (Week 5)
On Monday, I helped record interviews with Larry Rice, Larry Rice’s assistant (Dulce), and a case worker at New Life Evangelistic Center. This was the most important day of interviews because NLEC is the last remaining emergency shelter in downtown Saint Louis, and Larry’s tense history with the city may soon lead to its closing. I also wrote the first draft of the group’s production plan so we could maximize our efforts during week 5. Finally, I spoke with the Secretary of the Board of Public Services to request a copy of the neighbors’ petition against New Life Evangelistic Center.
On Tuesday, I listened to the interviews and pulled important actualities. Larry Rice’s interview was so compelling that the group decided to frame the entire podcast around NLEC. Thus, I helped the group rewrite our storyboard, which is now about one organization’s efforts to stay downtown as the neighborhood’s last remaining emergency shelter in the face of opposition from neighbors and city leaders.
On Wednesday, I drafted a script of the story’s lede. The group recorded this script on Thursday. On Friday, I conducted more research and found a copy of the BPS summary of “Fact, Conclusions of Law, Decisions, and Order,” from December 2004, regarding the decision to enforce New Life’s permit. On Saturday, I edited Nick Borella’s script for the following section of the story (i.e., the history of homeless services in Saint Louis up to the Bridge’s closing), recorded the audio, and began editing this material together in Audacity.
Today, I found a recording of the Board of Public Service’s decision to enforce New Life Evangelistic Center’s permit. This recording will provide valuable audio (for example, protesters chanting “homeless lives matter.”) I pulled additional audio to fill out our storyboard, including audio from New Life’s television network: Channel 24.
After a very productive week, our group expects to have a full, recorded draft of the story by next Tuesday.