“Hidden America: Children of the Plains” – New ABC Special

ABC's Hidden America: Children of the Plains

I know I’ve been M.I.A. for a while.  Please forgive me.  I’ve been working really hard and have been extremely busy with graduate school work and my internship at CNN/HLN’s “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.”

I have a lot of wonderful things in the works and so much to catch you up on.  But, I can’t do it at this moment.  lol

I’ve come out of hiding to let you all know about (what looks to be) an amazing special by Dianne Sawyer and ABC News.

According to their website, the program will introduce you to “the dreamers and survivors of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.”

Take a look!  And, check it out this Friday on “20/20!”


My first day at APTN!

APTN headquarters in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba

I landed in Winnipeg early this morning, about 10 hours after I was supposed to thanks to issues with United Airlines [groan].  As you may have seen in my tweets yesterday, United was canceling, rescheduling and even booting people off of flights left and right!  One flight was supposed to seat 50 passengers, but the gate agents made an announcement saying they could only take 22! 

So, as you can imagine, I was happy to have finally touched down in Canada, though it was the next day and I had only had 3hrs of sleep the night before!

Because I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked (none at all, actually), to check out the town and figure out the bus route to my internship, I called a cab. 

$20CAN later and I arrived at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network office in downtown Winnipeg.

Thus far things have been great!  Everyone is beyond friendly and equally excited about my being here (especially when they hear from my supervisor that I turned down 4 summer internship offers from CNN to work here…how did she find that out?!), which is nice.  🙂

I’m looking forward to giving you more updates and content as the summer goes on.  Keep checking back…or just subscribe!  🙂


CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Wins NABJ Journalist of the Year Award


NABJ Journalist of the Year and CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent, Soledad O’Brien, offers advice on how to be a successful journalist to CUNY Graduate School of Journalism students.

Amy Stretten with Soledad O’Brien

Last week I had the privilege of meeting CNN Journalist, Soledad O’Brien, whom the National Association of Black Journalists honored with the Journalist of the Year Award at their 35th annual convention and career fair in San Diego, California. O’Brien shared with me what has made her such a successful journalist. “Ultimately what you’re known for is just being solid and incredible. You want to stick out? Then you know what, put your head down and do your work. Be the person everyone can go to. Be solid and consistent.”

Who better to offer advice to incoming and returning J-School students than Soledad O’Brien? As a CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent, as well as a reporter for the CNN ‘In America’ unit, O’Brien has reported on the Black, Latino, and gay experience in America.

Maria de la Soledad Teresa O’Brien who is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists was raised by an Afro-Cuban mother and an Australian father of Irish and Scottish heritage and is the fifth of six children, all of whom graduated from Harvard University. She grew up on the affluent North Shore in the community of St. James on Long Island, New York. Now, a Manhattan resident, she is raising four children with her husband, Bradley Raymond who is an investment banker whom she met at Harvard.

One might say O’Brien has the market cornered, being a journalist who represents more than one community. Her advice on how to report in a growing multi-cultural world is to “Go and see for yourself…The problem when you’re talking about multiculturalism is that people like to sit at a desk and report about a community. Get on a plane and…figure it out! Walk among the people. See where there’s tension, see where there’s joy, see what the real situation is. Have some personal experience because that’s where you’re going to get your stories. Stories are not going to come from reading six articles – they never do. Stories come from saying, ‘Wow! There’s something really interesting going on in my neighborhood. What’s going on there?’ You’re not going to get it from reading. Anybody can tell a good story, but you have to be there to witness it with a recorder.”

In a news release published on the NABJ website, organization President Kathy Y. Times said, “Soledad’s work in the ‘Black in America’ series…was an example of great reporting, and through her work and platform she shared the stories in our communities that often go untold. She is truly worthy of NABJ’s Journalist of the Year honor.” In speaking about her award, O’Brien says, “It’s an incredible honor because I think when you are judged by your peers…it’s very significant. It was a complete shock to be told that I won it. I’m really proud of it. We’ve done some ground-breaking work.”

Ground-breaking work indeed. The second installment of the ‘Black in America’ series, for which O’Brien was primarily being honored, was CNN’s most-watched documentary series of 2009. In it, O’Brien explores the way in which people have gotten involved in their communities to make a significant impact and improve the Black American experience. Later that year CNN premiered ‘Latino in America’ which, in a similar vein, delves into the diverse experiences and obstacles facing the Latino community as well as the impact Latinos have on America.

Speaking about her award further, O’Brien says, “I hope it’s an honor that’s at the beginning of my career and not an end of career kind of honor.” I am most certain this is among many accolades O’Brien will receive for her work. We will be seeing much more of O’Brien this year when her upcoming CNN specials ‘New Orleans Rising’ and ‘Black in America: Churched’ air on August 21 and October 14, respectively.


Anderson Cooper is my hero.

Anderson Cooper

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI – I’ve taken a break from blogging while I work on my graduate school applications. I am just about done (finally!) and I plan to be back very soon! I wasn’t planning on posting anything until I was ready for my official return, but after seeing the following video I just couldn’t help myself. I love to write and I have missed it over the past couple of months, but the reason I felt so compelled to post a blog was to share this incredible video with you. It is because of journalists like Anderson Cooper that I have chosen to become a journalist. It is because of exceptional stories that need to be shared with the world that I blog. I want to change the world and make a difference in the lives of others. Journalists like Cooper are doing just that. If you’d like a simple reason as to why Anderson Cooper is my hero, please just check out the video below. Sometimes journalists who cover tragedies become numb to violence, suffering, and death and forget that the people they are filming are just that – people – not simply a news story. Anderson Cooper talks about this in his book Dispatches from the Edge : A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival. If you have yet to read his novel, I strongly suggest you do. It changed my life (as trite as that may sound). In the video below Cooper shows that he is not just a journalist, but a person – a person who really cares and wants to make a difference…and is.

Right now the people of Haiti are suffering and I wish there were some profound way that I could help. I’m afraid all I can do (or have been able to come up with) is to donate to various organizations working to directly help the Haitian people. I wish I were as courageous as Anderson Cooper (and had the honor of working for such an incredible news organization such as CNN!) and could be on the frontlines filming what is going on so that people back at home and around the world will be compelled to do something, too…even if it’s to simply donate money to the Red Cross, for example.

Please note that the video below is very disturbing and contains strong violence, but illustrates how badly Haiti needs our support…and that there are some journalists who are not afraid to risk their own lives to help others.

I will be keeping the people of Haiti in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you will do the same.