A SPECIAL REPORT TO HO CHI MINH CITY’S THANH NIEN WEEKLY
I am happy to report that the story I wrote for Thanh Nien Weekly is finally out! You can read it here. Located in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Thanh Nien is the flagship publication of the Vietnam National Youth Federation and launched its first issue on January 3, 1986. Since then, Thanh Nien has become one of the most prestigious and influential newspapers in Vietnam. I worked with editor Jon Dillingham on this piece. While I was in Vietnam Jon also took me on a tour of Than Nien’s offices and introduced me to the staff. From the introduction came the opportunity to write this piece. The photos are by Janet Horn whom I met while traveling with PeaceTrees Vietnam. More to coem soon!
And so goes the freelancing life …
BACK IN THE USA
I’ve now been home one week and I’m finally getting over jet lag. I’m house sitting near Seattle and working on my stories. Here is a link to my photos from my reporting trip and you can read my blogs here. I’ll post my stories as soon as I get them out!
And so goes the freelancing life …
LAST DAYS IN SAIGON
Wednesday I visited the War Remnants Museum. The museum is a memorial to the horrors suffered by the Vietnamese people during the American War. It has an impressive collection of relics including weapons, anti-war propaganda and photojournalism all geared toward educating visitors about Vietnam’s perspective on the war.
The most compelling photos chronicle the country’s struggle with the legacy of war, including deformities caused by exposure to Agent Orange and, the subject of my reporting project, the problem of leftover explosives from the war.
After the sobering tour of the horrors of war, I was left feeling amazed at the country’s recovery and at the buzzing metropolis I was now part of. Read more here.
HEADING TO THE BEACH
I like like it here so much that I changed my flight to leave from Ho Chi Minh City this Sunday night (instead of Hanoi) and I will be back in Seattle Monday, February 1. Meantime I’m heading to the beach. I have been reviewing tape and writing but I’m waiting on some key translations/transcriptions and I really can’t do much more until I get them. Plus I really couldn’t leave Vietnam without spending at least one day at the beach. Read more here.
I just got an email from PeaceTrees Vietnam announcing an explosion in Quang Tri Province, the area from which I’ve been reporting about land mine issues for the past few weeks. According to Project RENEW, another NGO working in the area, “At 02:30 p.m on Wednesday, 27 January 2010, an explosion of wartime ordnance in a middle school playground in Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province, shook walls and shattered windows, but the 550 students who were in class at the time escaped injury.” The RENEW Facebook Page explains more about what happened.
BY MOTORBIKE TO LOC NINH & THE SEARCH FOR ‘THE FRENCHMAN’S SWIMMING POOL’
I really didn’t have the last 10 days of my trip planned. I wanted to leave it open in case I needed to follow up on my stories, pursue new leads, and maybe to have a little bit of fun. It turns out that not having a plan was a good idea.
Jon Dillingham opened his home to me, which was just what I needed after two weeks on the road with an intense schedule. I told Jon about my interest in making a pilgrimage to Loc Ninh, the place where my dad was stationed during the war. He passed my story on to his friend Aaron who decided to make it his mission to take me there … by motorbike.
Yesterday at around 8am Aaron and I stuffed a few things into a backpack, strapped it to the back of Jon’s bike and headed north. Read more here.
HO CHI MINH CITY AND THE WISE OLD TURTLE
This morning I inhaled two pieces white toast slathered in French ‘President’ butter, made myself a cup of instant Starbucks coffee and stared out from the balcony,of the third story apartment where I’m staying, over corrugated metal rooftops, towering, white-washed apartment buildings and cranes in every direction. I have arrived in Hoh Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
I am staying with Jon Dillingham, a fellow journalist, working for the English language version of a Vietnamese weekly newspaper. USC Annenberg Professor, Michael Parks, put me in touch with Jon when he heard about my reporting trip.
After these past two weeks, interviewing victims of cluster munitions, traipsing through scrap metal yards in the rain, and staying in dingy hotels rooms, needless to say, I was happy to be in sunny Saigon where the temperature is in the 80’s and my host’s disposition is equally as warm.
Jon picked me up on his motorbike from Tan Son Nhat International airport around 8:30pm Saturday night. I strapped on my backpack, a helmet and a facemask and held on tight as we sped off into the dark and the flashing lights of Saigon. Read more here.
EXHAUSTED, SICK & EDITING
We finished up in Khe Sanh yesterday and headed West down highway 9 toward Dong Ha, eating at a roadside restaurant along the road running from the Laotian border to the Pacific ocean. After several intense days of trapsing through the rain to watch UXO’s detonated and hanging around scrap metal yards to find metal hunters, I was exhausted. On the van ride back to Dong Ha I started feeling queezy. By the time I got to the hotel I was starting to feel ill. Read more here.
VISITING ETHNIC MINORITY VILLAGES NEAR KHE SANH
The past few days have been a whirlwind. Before we left Dong Ha, the group travelled to the Truong Son Cemetery, the Vietnamese equivalent of Arlington National Cemetary. I lit incense and placed it before the towering monument at the entrance then proceeded to walk around the grounds. The scene was stunning and the monuments beautiful, but the reality of where I was set in as I read the names and dates of the fallen soldiers from a list on one of the walls. Read more here.
COOKING & DANCING IN DONG HA
I spent the past two days interviewing victims of cluster munitions in Dong Ha, Vietnam. The interviews were heartbreaking and inspiring. I’ll use them in radio pieces I’m working on for several outlets.
Now that I’m into on my stories, you may not see as many photos taken by me, but luckily, I’m with three great photographers. And this way, I’ll actually get a few photos of myself!
After two days of intense interviews, I was happy to join a cooking class at the Women’s Union in the center of Dong Ha … read more here.
HUE & ON TO DONG HA
After two days in Hanoi, I left for Hue by plane with the PeaceTrees group, arriving in the former imperial capital by afternoon. Hue is a huge tourist destination for returning Vietnam Veterans and their families. Our flight was packed with them, including, according to Carl the Foreign Serviceman who is traveling with us, Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
In Hue we trecked along the Perfume River under gray skies and fine mist … read more here.
CHECK OUT MY NEW PHOTOS HERE
DAY 2 IN HANOI & ON TO HUE
Day 2 in Hanoi was spent doing lots of little errands. I found a bookstore where I could buy notebooks and pens. On the way there I met up with a couple of young men who were already familiar to me after one day in the city, a pair of shoe repairmen.
Coming to Vietnam with a hole in the seam of my sneaker was a bad idea … continue reading here.
DAY 1 IN HANOI
VIEW MY PHOTOS – DAY 1 began with a Pho for breakfast at my hotel along with a baguette and one of the strongest coffees ever. My spoon nearly stood up in the cup. And you know, I like strong coffee. In the afternoon I met Blair, who runs PeaceTrees Vietnam, the non-profit with which we’re working. He introduced us to Carl, a former Foreign Serviceman whose first post was in Vietnam during the war. He will travel with us to Quang TrI … Continue Reading HERE
After four months of planning, two days at the ‘Journalism That Matters’ Conference at Seattle’s University of Washington and about 20 hours up in the air, it is nice to have my feet on the gritty ground that is Hanoi. Arriving in the dark, I have no real idea yet of what the city looks like. All I know is that I’m happy to be here and to be beginning the real work … READ MORE here.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
6:00pm – 8:00pm
2395 Glendale Blvd
NICE SHOUT OUT FROM MY HOMETOWN NEWSPAPER
Daysha Eaton’s fascination with Vietnam started in the living room of her house on Lawrence Street in Port Townsend …
CMC SPONSORS MY REPORTING TRIP!
I am happy to announce that the Cluster Munition Coalition has sponsored the remaining cost of my reporting trip with SalaamGarage & Peacetrees Vietnam! Now I just need to finish raising the funds to cover my flight, insurance and additional equipment. You can contribute through Paypal.
Cartagena Summit for a Mine-Free World
This week, the Cartagena Summit for a Mine-Free World kicked off in Columbia. The United States sent a delegation to the U.N. event. You can read what they had to say about the U.S. government’s position HERE
TO READ ABOUT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS CONCERNING LAND MINE POLICY GO TO MY BLOG
I spent this Thanksgiving reflecting on how much I have to be grateful for. At work, sitting behind the turkey table at Whole Foods and later, at home, helping Linda, my adopted mom, prepare the feast, I felt my heart bursting with the generosity that so many people have shown me this year, as I made the transition from student to freelancer.
Fellow USC student, Emilie Mutert, designed the original superstringer.com website, allowing me to begin blogging. My former roommate, film maker and closet web designer, Chris Besounian helped me improve the site and designed beautiful promotional materials for the project. My old friend, Jennifer Tracer, from Port Townsend, donated 100% of the profits from a sale through her home business toward my travel insurance. My yoga teacher, Linda Eifer, gave me a room in her Beverly Hills home this fall in exchange for dog sitting. It is from her zen-filled backyard and home office that I’ve developed the project over these past months. Paul Rockower generously shared his home with me this summer. It was from my seat at the desk in his second story room near USC that I sat staring out over the Los Angeles skyline and began dreaming about this project.There are many others who have contributed monetarily and in other ways. I can’t begin to list them all here.
Now there is just a little more than a month’s time left until I fly off to Vietnam to do the reporting. I’m eager to wrap up the fundraising and to begin focussing on the reporting project itself. Thanks everybody for helping me get this far. I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving!
BEST FREELANCING SITES
Send us links to your most valuable freelancing sites!
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an organization that promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. They also offer resources (such as fixer/translator/in country journalist recommendations) and guidance to journalists heading to dangerous parts of the world.
The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma is dedicated to informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. They offer a wide range of resources, training and support programs to help journalists cover bad news better.
GlobalPost The Global Post is a new online outlet/multimedia news wire with correspondents all over the world. They are open to freelance submissions from new journalists.
Brave New Traveler is an online travel magazine open to writing/photography and some multimedia submissions from new contributors.
Public Radio Exchange is an online marketplace for distribution, review, and licensing of public radio programming. PRX is a great place to get your audio work picked up by stations as well as to make connections with other journalists.
SalaamGarage is SalaamGarage is a citizen journalist organization that partners with International NGOs and local non-profits. Participants (amateur and professional photographers, writers, videographers, etc.) connect with international NGOs, create and share independent media projects that raise awareness and cause positive change in their online and offline social communities.
IT’S NOT THE STORY, IT’S HOW YOU TELL IT
Lessons From the Pacific Garbage Patch Story
‘Its not the story, its how you tell it.’ Wise words from my yoga teacher this morning. She was referring to our personal stories that make us who we are. But my ears perked up when I heard her message, because I think a lot about stories. And recently, I’ve been reflecting on how rapid changes in journalistic storytelling affect our macro-consciousness.
Earlier this month Spot.us, a Knight Foundation supported experiment in crowd-sourced funding, had their first story in The New York Times. The story was about the Pacific Garbage Patch, a growing pile of floating plastic in the Pacific. The reporter, Lindsey Hoshaw, raised $10,000 to support her month-long adventure floating around in the ocean, spending time with scientists, blogging and sending out photos for the world to see. Her project culminated with an article in the New York Times, every young reporter’s dream. But not everyone was enthusiastic about her story. Continue reading HERE
THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME REACH MY FUNDRAISING GOAL!
Supporters, friends and family helped me raise $1440!
I sent out a call to action to my community and you answered with a resounding YES. first you helped me raise $500 back in August. This went toward a deposit to hold my place on a diplomatic trip with the American non-profit, PeaceTrees Vietnam and the citizen journalism group, SalaamGarage. Then I had to raise $1,440 (40% of the total cost of this trip) by November 15. The donations flooded in from as far away as France and Sweden, from my hometown of Port Townsend, Washington, and from neighborhoods across my new home city of Los Angeles. You sent your money through The Point, wire transfers, e-checks, Paypal and good old-fashioned snail mail. As the deadline approached, some of you went to the bank and made deposits directly into my account. And then yesterday, one friend, a fellow Annenberg student, invited me over to her house and wrote me a personal check for the remaining amount.
I am truly grateful for your generosity. Whether you donated $10 or hundreds, each of your contributions helped me reach my goal, and more importantly,they will allow me to tell the story of the People of Quang Tri Province, Vietnam and to shine a light on the legacy of war and land mines.
And so goes the freelancing life …
An update on my reporting trip to Vietnam and fundraising tips for freelancers
Over the past few weeks I’ve been learning some lessons about fundraising, an important skill to have when you are freelancing. As many of you know, I have been raising money for a reporting trip to Vietnam to cover the legacy of war and land mines. I’ve had many generous donations from friends and colleagues, old and new, and I’ve learned a ton. So I thought I would share what I’ve learned here. TO READ MY LETTER CLICK HERE .
Back in August I began using an online fundraising system called The Point.
I set a goal of raising $500 toward a deposit on a trip with the American non profit PeaceTrees Vietnam. It worked great. I raise the money in 2 weeks. I highly recommend ‘The Point’ for anyone doing a SMALL fundraising campaign. One reason that I say small, is that ‘The Point’ takes a 5% cut of what you raise. So the more you raise, the more you pay.
When I tried raising a larger sum, about $1,500, I couldn’t seem to get the momentum going, I only raised about 20% of the funds, so I shut down my campaign and changed my strategy. I am not sure exactly why raising the larger sum was more difficult, but several people were uncomfortable donating larger amounts of money online. Instead, they chose to use snail mail to send me personal checks.
I cancelled my campaign on ‘The Point’ and set up a Paypal account. Paypal account where people can make donations directly into an checking account that I’ve set up especially for the project. Some people still were not comfortable typing their bank information into their computer and they chose to send a check. But many people seem very comfortable donating through Paypal. And the great thing about Paypal is that they don’t take a cut of my donations, which means everything that people donate goes toward my project.
When I was having trouble getting my recent fundraising campaign going I went to my friend Claire Goodwin, a born fundraiser with lots of experience. Last year she raised enough funds to spend a year in Kathmandu volunteering with Nepali orphans. She suggested doing it the old-fashioned way, by writing a letter. So, today, I sent out my very first formal fundraising letter through email. Some of Claire’s tips were:
*Make sure your letter fits on one page
*Tell them up front, in the first paragraph exactly what you are doing
*Make the letter personal and explain your motivation to do the project
*Tell your supporters exactly how much you have to raise and inform them of your deadline
*Let them know the big picture – let them know if you will be doing additional fundraising so that they are not surprised if they receive emails or letters asking for more support
*Use links to direct supporters to additional information about your project
*And last but not least, make sure to say thank you in advance for their generous support!
Claire also suggested going to organizations with which I already have a connection, like Churches & synagogues, gyms & yoga studios, and perhaps your place of work (talk with human resources, as many businesses have special funds to support charitable projects headed up by their employees and sometimes they’ll even let you set up a donation jar beside the cash register!).
I recently took a seasonal job at the Whole Foods in my neighborhood to save money for my reporting trip. I’m working in the marketing department. I told my boss about my project and she had several suggestions. One thing she recommended was creating slideshows or videos on u-tube about my reporting trip and then posting then using social networking tools to spread them around online. I have yet to find the time to try this, but it sounds like a good idea.
When I sent out my fundraising letter I was displeased with some things. I just did a mass email using all 500+ of my contacts. I’ve realized that my email list includes several business and craigslist contacts (woops. I’ve removed them now). I also was displeased with the way my email looked, with all the email addresses at the top of the page and my letter way down at the bottom (sorry guys, I’m still learning here). I need to find a solution. Maggie from Salaam Garage suggested that I Bcc (blind cc) next time. Live and learn.
And so goes the freelancing life …
3 WAYS YOU CAN MAKE MY REPORTING DREAMS COME TRUE
Donate through Paypal , Buy from Sensaria or Send me a check
Now that I’m in the final week of my fundraising campaign for my reporting trip to Vietnam, people are coming out of the woodwork with creative ideas to help me reach my goal. My old friend Jennifer Tracer is the latest to jump on board.
I need to raise $1,512 by November 10. This money goes toward funding a diplomatic visit to Quang Tri Province with non-profit organization Peacetrees Vietnam.
Check out 3 ways you can help make my reporting dreams come true here.SOMETIMES ITS SPOOKY BEING A FREELANCER The CLP team discusses the tricks and treats 21st freelancers can expect
Next week, my friends at The Common Language Project in Seattle are hosting a fantastic conference about freelancing in the 21st Century. Sarah Stuteville, Jessica Partnow and Alex Stonehill run the CLP. They recently teamed up with the University of Washington to present, 21st Century Freelancing: The Risks and Returns of Independent Reporting. As the CLP prepares for their workshop, they asked me to contribute. So I wrote about what I believe are the two most pressing issues for freelancers today, funding & lifestyle. To continue reading about 21st Century Freelancing go to my blog
SUPERSTRINGER TEAMS UP WITH FREELANCERS UNION TO BRING HEALTH INSURANCE TO CALIFORNIA’S INDEPENDENT WORKFORCE find out how you can help
Superstringer is partnering with Freelancers Union to bring them to California. Freelancers Union provides health insurance for independent workers, many of whom are journalists. Right now they’re only serving freelancers in New York, but they’re eager to expand to California. The group is aiming to reach a goal of 10,000 new members in the Golden State and they’re almost there. Once they hit their goal, they’ll start working for group rate health insurance for freelancers out West. They’ll also offer retirement plans and provide political advocacy for California’s independent workers. It’s free to join. Just click on their logo at the top right of this page if you want to improve your life as a freelancer in California.