Friday, February 01, 2013

Discovering Stories Waiting to be Told

Community residents gathered with CWRU students to hear Pulitzer Prize
winner Jim Sheeler talk about immersion journalism and the new media

Immersion Journalism at Eliza Bryant Village

Prof. Sheeler talks about journalists first
earning the right to hear a person's story
“She was a florist and a butcher,” was the one-line dispatch of a concluded life that came across the wire to then cub reporter Jim Sheeler.

The terse admixture set Sheeler on a path to discover and reveal the uncommon lives of ordinary people. Sheeler’s journey has taken him from his rookie reporter days writing obituaries in Colorado to a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, with adventures along the way like an unforgettable meal with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. 

Since 2010, when he became the Shirley Wormser Professor of Journalism and Media Writing in the Case Western Reserve University, he has been teaching students of all disciplines eager to learn how to catch and tell the amazing stories that all around us.

CWRU journalism student listens to
Eliza Bryant Village resident
Yesterday, Sheeler shared with a diverse audience of students and an engaged assortment of area residents and lifelong learners, how his immersion journalism/multimedia storytelling class has worked with seniors at Eliza Bryant Village, a Cleveland treasure and the nation’s oldest continually operating African American nursing home. He showed video clips and slides that revealed vibrant collaborations between Case undergraduates armed with video cameras, microphones and cellphones, and Eliza Bryant seniors armed with life stories and revealed wisdom.

Sheeler used the story of Eliza Bryant resident Andrew Bailey’s devotion to his wife Ethel, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, to illustrate how a reporter has to earn the right to tell a person’s story by a willingness to listen deeply and patiently. There was beauty in the details of the Bailey marriage, including the 220 steps Andrew took each way in his 10-12 daily visits to see and care for his wife [a mile a day!].

Screenshot from Sheeler's talk showing the Dalai Lama
at a meal with Desmond Tutu [not seen but sitting opposite].
Reporter Sheeler is shown kneeling.
There was lightness in Sheeler’s talk as well, as when he shared being present at an intimate dinner where the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu sat across from one another wisecracking about their health issues, including a prostate surgery one of them had recently undergone.

“They were joking as if they were in a coffee shop,” said Sheeler.

Tri-C student Rashe'd Watley asks a question
about senior citizen interaction
University Heights resident Amy Rosenfield
puts a question to Professor Sheeler

Many community residents were in attendance for this first Spring 2013 Baker-Nord series on the humanities. Next up in the series will be “A Conversation with Daniel Stashower”, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War on Monday, February 4 at 4:30.  The event is free; the public is invited. Details here.

For more information on the interaction between Professor Sheeler’s immersion journalism class and Eliza Bryant Village residents, click here.


Henry Ford said...

Interesting to read about, and I am sure it would have been even more interesting had I attended. I will try to follow more closely in the future.

Richard said...

Hi Henry,

There are stimulating and enlightening FREE offerings all over town at our local colleges and universities. We don't think of ourselves as a university town so our attendance at these kinds of events is generally sparse.
I am looking in the future to establish a process for giving a heads up for these kinds of things.
Thanks for being a reader and commenter!