In 2012 I set out to teach myself how to build custom WordPress themes in order to finally launch a much talked about, but never realized photoblog at The News Journal. Right off the bat, we knew we wanted to shy away from a Big Picture-style photoblog. It’s already been done, and done well. Also, we don’t have a dedicated photo editor who would have time to curate images from the various wire services.
Instead, our first thought was to build a blog that would highlight the work being done by our staff, and have it fed automatically through their smartphones and photo services such as Flickr, Instagram and TwitPic. I wrote about the blog theme last year, but unfortunately, it never took off.
Fast forward a year and I decided to try and tackle a photo blog again. This time, with a community-centered blog that encouraged outside contributions, highlighted photo communities and events in the state and no longer relied on what is an already overworked staff for content. The new photoblog, now titled First State Focus, launched last week and is easily one of the projects I am most proud of here at The News Journal.
In between the grind of pumping out daily video at The News Journal, we also try and fit in special projects and a few video series. One such series if 50 Who Matter, which focuses on individuals throughout the state of Delaware who are working to improve their communities. The series can be hit or miss at times, depending on how soon/late they decide who they will feature. Recently though, we have had two that I think are worth sharing.
Mary Hampson was unique for many reasons, the most obvious being her age. Most of the people we feature in the 50 Who Matter series are middle-aged, but Hampson began volunteering with the Freedom Outreach program at 17, and became its director at 21. She is also unique because she works directly in areas that are often skeptical of people from outside the community. One such area is Southbridge, which we focused on during a project on poverty and crime. Mary has been more than welcomed into Southbridge and Riverside, she is practically a member of everyone’s family. She checks up on schoolwork, knows when family members are in the hospital, drives kids to and from basketball practice and bakes and delivers over 100 birthday cakes a year.
Dolores Finger Wright
Dolores Finger Wright is an associate professor of social work at Delaware State University. Back when Ms. Finger Wright was attending Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., she helped to plan and organize the Greensboro sit-ins which were a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights movement. In speaking with her she reminded me of how different life was for her growing up as compared to the youth today, and explained how she tries to instill the same passion for social change in her students today that she had as a college student.