Thanh Tan

Archive for November 2007

The Fact Checker

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This section of the Washington Post’s web site is the bomb. I think it should be daily reading for everyone as the presidential election heats up. A WaPost dude by the name of Michael Dobbs leads the charge to verify claims made by presidential candidates on the stump, in debates, and in the news. Get the facts– and find out how the candidates score in what they call the “Pinnochio Test.”



Written by Thanh Tan

November 30, 2007 at 6:31 pm

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This American Life

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I tracked my piece for This American Life today. It took well over two hours. My producer is quite the pro at coaching me to speak less TV news reporter-like. Indeed, it’s much harder to sound conversational… when you’re actually trying to be conversational.

So here’s a link to the preview. If you really don’t want to open up a new window, here’s the synopsis:

344: The Competition

Stories about the unintended consequences of market forces, including the story of a Tulsa businessman who tried to cut costs—not by outsourcing his operations to India, but by bringing workers from India to Tulsa. With decidedly mixed results. Also, a story about two competing TV news teams in Boise, Idaho, who begin with the exact same set of facts about a local sex offender, and end up with totally opposite conclusions.

My trusty producer said Ira Glass would probably be too busy to get involved in the editing of this story- a first since she’s been there. I was bummed. But alas, he came through and helped out with the final edits. There’s substance behind all the hype about him, and I think that’s rad. After telling hundreds of stories, he still cares about each and every one. In total, my story has been filtered through at least three producers, a senior producer, and Mr. Glass. Now that is quality control.

I’ve done my part. Now, it’s up to the TAL folks to finish editing the piece before it airs this weekend.

Look up your local public radio station. Find out when This American Life is airing. Enjoy the show.

I’m nervous as hell. But in a good way.

Written by Thanh Tan

November 29, 2007 at 9:32 pm

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Presents of mind.

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For the first time EVER I finished the majority of my Christmas shopping (about 95%) before Dec. 1. This has never happened before. I’m usually one of those consumers who dashes around on Christmas Eve- give or take a day or two- and ends up overspending out of desperation. For obvious reasons, I will refrain from listing off what I got for the most important folks in my life. I will say I tried to focus on things that have real meaning or a practical function.

I have been very wary of my consumer ways of late. I would love nothing more than to buy less. In fact, I plan to check out this new documentary from Morgan Spurlock (of “Super Size Me” fame). The main character is Reverend Billy of the “Church of Stop Shopping.” The guy appears to be on a satirical journey to warn Americans of the dangers of consumption!

Also, I gotta say holiday shoppers can be mean! I did several live shots in front of Best Buy and Clackamas Town Center last week. I saw old people get cussed out by young people waiting in line, others camping out overnight to buy themselves new electronics, etc. One of our live truck operators tried to help out a passing driver to tell her she could take our first-row parking stall. She rolled down her window- and swore at him to get out of the way.

Speaking of which, check out these crazy shoppers at Boise Towne Square a couple days ago. Paramedics were brought in to treat some unfortunate souls hoping to get first crack at a much-hyped “goody bag” I saw and heard one consumer describe as “crap, crap, crap… and more crap.” Yet another unflattering, headline-grabbing story to come out of my beloved Idaho. Please, stop the madness! Here’s the raw video from KTVB.

Written by Thanh Tan

November 26, 2007 at 4:00 am

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Hearsay and Heartbreak

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I report on Saturdays.

Today, I followed an ongoing story related to three separate shooting deaths in North Portland last weekend. They happened in the same area within a 48-hour period. Police haven’t confirmed whether they’re connected, but the latter two victims – Ricky and Pat Andrews- are siblings.

My day-long effort to talk to their family didn’t go so well. Contacts told me the family is upset with the media. ALL media. I’m still trying to pin down exactly why that is. Then, the race issue crept in. I was told local news outlets had lost the “trust” of the black community. I checked our scripts and I honestly didn’t notice anything that was blatantly wrong or inflammatory. I think their concerns had something to do with us identifying the two victims with their mug shots (supplied by Portland police). I can see why they’d be upset about this, but if the families won’t talk to us or give us photos– we have to air what we have. What do you think? Is that right?

With a deadline looming, I became incredibly frustrated. Not only was the victims’ family not talking to us, community leaders canceled or refused interviews with me out of fear they’d upset the family even more. This disappointed me because I felt our mission on this day was to help inform the public and to catch a suspect, not to divide the community even more and scare people into silence.

I despise getting grouped in with the big, bad Media. Who knows, maybe one of our competitors messed up somewhere. In any case, we certainly felt the fall-out. Still, I have to have some compassion for this family. They are planning two funerals simultaneously. If I were in their shoes, I would probably be an emotional wreck.

By mid-afternoon (considered late in TV news land), a tip led us to the corner of N. Williams and N. Beech. This is the scene of the third shooting last Sunday. There, a very select number of family members decided they would speak out since no one else would. The informal turnout included a cousin, a daughter, and an ex-girlfriend. They plead for the public’s help finding the killer(s). It was moving to hear them talk so lovingly about two individuals whose records obviously indicate they made some poor choices until the very end.

Everybody needs closure. Some people find that solace through sharing their loved one’s story with the local news. I hope they feel I was fair to them tonight. They were really brave to talk.

Written by Thanh Tan

November 25, 2007 at 8:24 am

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