All posts by kelbyvera

Planning Change with Dr. Lens

Michael Lens looks at every city with expert eyes. Lens is a professor of urban planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Policy. Lens sees himself as an advocate for change.

“I came to the field as somebody who’s always been interested in how public policy affects people in poverty and can help make it less frequent. For people who are in poverty, [I want to know] what can the government do to make lives better. ”

Lens is tall and distinguished. His face is framed with wire-rim glasses and hair is cropped close. Lens explains tedious zoning policies with an enthusiastic and conversational approach.

Lens completed his PhD in Public Administration at New York University in 2011. At NYU his doctoral research explored the effects of housing vouchers on New York City communities.

Lens’s research earned him academic clout, garnering awards and speaking invitations across the field. Last year, Lens’s report on job accessibility and housing subsidies won Best Paper of 2013-14 in Housing Policy Debate. Another 2013 piece investigating crime in low-income housing was distinguished in the Journal of  the American Planning Association.

Lens is dedicated to creating social change through influencing policy.

“We spend a lot of money on trying to help people afford housing and their’s a lot of things that housing affects beyond just the shelters. [Housing] is a big policy area for people who are interested in helping the lives of the poor”

The Luskin School supports Lens’s passion and commitment as a researcher. At UCLA, he’s the associate director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Study and a research fellow for the Ziman Center for Real Estate. 

In 2013, Lens and UCLA colleague Paavo Monkkonen received a substantial grant from the MacArthur Foundation. The expansive project examines local government behaviors during housing crises and is funded over several years.

“[The grant] is such an honor. They let you be very independent with how you get the work done, it’s really nice.”

Lens is private, a husband and father of two. He likes how academia complements his family commitments.

“I have a wife whose job is even busier than mine, she’s a lawyer, and we have two kids who are busy themselves! 

I find that a stable academic job is pretty conducive to that balance… It’s somewhere where you can be productive but also set your own hours. Today I’m picking up one of my kids and then coaching basketball. Not a lot of workplaces allow that. That’s a pretty special opportunity“

He tweets occasionally; mixing policy, news, professor gripes and some pop culture gems. He quotes hip hop lyrics, dripping with professorial snark.

Lens is a dedicated academic with the perspective and expertise to impact real change. His influence on the Los Angeles community and the field of urban planning will be lasting. Lens’s work funded through MacArthur Foundation is set for publication in 2016.

Olvera Street Snaps

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qrxvpek5j8k9naz/KelbyVera_Snapchat.mov?dl=0

For this project, I went off campus to historic Olvera Street. My goal was to create a portrait of an area that uses the lexicon of the medium. I chose an area that was visually rich and well-populated. I made an effort to balance my coverage between the colorful shops, history and interview snips. I also tried to capture an example of all five senses at Olvera Street, but had limited success with this element.

I was conscious of creating a more ‘conversational’ narrative with Snapchat because media often fails to use social media in the same ways their users do. Keeping this in mind, I made use of Snapchat’s emoji gallery and different text tools. I kept the tone of the collection funny, personable and self-reflexive. I also made an effort not to “editorialize”, keeping with the journalistic motto of “show, don’t tell”. I think I was able to strike a balance between these two realms.

I think Snapchat could be an effective tool to use alongside traditional storytelling. The Charleston, South Carolina collection is a great example of how Snapchat can add color or personal perspective to a story or event. It gave the viewer an intimate and immediate look into the city, but needs to be complimented with a fact and source driven to be called ‘journalism’.

Snapchat is especially limiting for interviews. Editing a standard interview is an art, it is near impossible to get a good soundbite in 10 seconds without edits.

For immediate, on-the-scene coverage Snapchat can offer a glimpse into the energy and action of breaking news. Because of this immediacy, I think that Snapchat is best suited to covering dramatic, visually compelling content. I think it should almost always be complimented with more traditional news content.

In my work, Snapchat could be a great way to capture performances or an audience’s reception to performance or exhibition. I learned that experimenting with new forms of storytelling is both fun and challenging. It was a great way to evaluate how our role as journalists is evolving as we speak.

Rise and Shine!

INTRO

Not everyone is a morning person, but these early birds at USC are making the most of their AM’s. Kelby Vera finds out what wakes these Trojans up.

uscstoryspace.com/kvera/KELBYVERAVOXPOP.wav

OUTRO

You just heard from Gloria Gamboa, Igor Papish, Marisa Alfaro, James Chambers, Luijun Cheung, and Gina Finch. So rise and shine everyone, you’ve got some catching up to do.

360 Degrees of Journalism

Whitney Ashton

Whitney Ashton is a California blond with a soft spot for hard news. Joining USC by way of Malibu, Ashton graduated from Pepperdine University in May with a degree in journalism and a clear passion for reporting. Her bright smile and confident voice give Ashton, 22, the camera-ready poise of a veteran reporter.

Time at Pepperdine was formative for Ashton, allowing her to develop skills across multiple platforms.

“You learn by doing in this job. You can sit in a classroom and read all day long, but the best training your going to have is outside of the classroom.”

Ashton was a cornerstone of the campus newsroom, Pepperdine Graphic Media, where she oversaw a 60 student staff as the first female president of the organization. She also anchored Pepperdine’s G-News for five seasons and created “Malibu After Dark” with the campus radio station KWVS.

She was an early member of Pepperdine’s Society of Professional Journalists and continues to work with the national organization on ethics and representation issues in the field.

During her sophomore year Ashton met life coach Sherry Gaba and the pair instantly connected. Ashton started managing Gaba’s social media, writing about addiction in Hollywood for several health and wellness sites. She said her hard news approach focused on mental health rather than entertainment.

“It was very different doing that type of writing, but I also think those are some of the best articles I’ve written.”

Ashton joined the KNBC newsroom in 2014 as a digital news intern where her new media skills continued to blossom. In January 2015 she returned to the internship, racking up over 100 bylines and first-hand experience shadowing reporters in the field.

At KNBC, Ashton got to take a seat in the iconic NewsChopper 4 while investigation helicopter noise in La County. “It was the highlight of my life,” Ashton said, “My life is a completed checklist.”

Ashton embraces journalism with all of her energy and has a 360 degree philosophy to the craft.

“I like to see and do all aspects of journalism. So that if i’m behind the camera I know what the anchor needs from me. If I’m in front of it, I know what I expect from a producer. I like to sit in all the seats so I can do my job the best and other people can too.”

Whitney Ashton: 360 Degrees of Journalism

Whitney Ashton is a California girl with a soft spot for hard news. Joining the Trojan family by way of Malibu, Ashton is fresh from completing her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Pepperdine University. 

Boasting experience in radio, television, digital and print reporting, Ashton produces compelling stories with mechanical consistency and surgical attention to detail. The twenty two year old journalist is always on the clock. 

At Pepperdine Ashton was a cornerstone of the campus newsroom, The Graphic. In addition to overseeing a staff of 60 students as President and Online Managing Editor of The Graphic, Ashton anchored Pepperdine’s weekly broadcast G-News for five seasons and created “Malibu After Dark” with the campus radio station KWVS. She was integral to founding Pepperdine’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and continues to work with the organization on ethics and representation issues in journalism. 

During her sophomore year Ashton met celebrity life coach Sherry Gaba and the pair instantly connected. Ashton started managing Gaba’s social media and writing about addiction and the darker sides of fame for several health and wellness site. Her hard news approach to these stories elevated typical gossip-rag topics to portraits of mental illness & mental illness that were humanizing and relatable.

Ashton explains, “It was very different doing that type of writing but I also think those are some of the best articles I’ve written.”

In 2014 Ashton joined the NBC Los Angeles newsroom as a digital news intern where her new media skills continued to blossom. In January 2015 she returned to the prestigious internship, racking up nearly one hundred bylines and invaluable first-hand experience shadowing reporters in the field. 

One of Ashton’s most memorable moments at NBC LA grew from a small story. While investigating helicopter noise in LA County, Ashton visited two of NBC’s helipads and got to take a seat in the iconic NewsChopper 4. “It was the highlight of my life,” Ashton glows, “My life is a completed checklist.”

Ashton’s zeal for social media compliments her hands-on approach to journalism. Her online presence ranges from Vine to Vimeo and everything in between, constantly striving for new and unique ways to tell stories. A self-declared news junkie, Ashton’s Twitter feed is full of breaking stories spanning Southern California. Her Instagram shows a more personal side of Whitney, behind-the-scenes at NBC LA and indulging her sweet tooth while exploring LA with friends. 

Whitney Ashton’s relentless work ethic and passion for news is clear, but her 360 degree approach to journalism sets her apart. “I like to see and do all aspects of journalism. So that if i’m behind the camera I know what the anchor needs from me. If I’m in front of it, I know what I expect from a producer. I like to sit in all the seats so I can do my job the best and other people can too.”

In every medium and every role, Whitney Ashton shows us that her name will be gracing the bylines of page, screen and airwaves for many years to come.

A Rising Star in the Digital Landscape

Whitney Ashton is a California girl with a soft spot for hard news. Coming to the Trojan family by way of Malibu, Ashton is fresh from completing her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Pepperdine University. 

Ashton’s resume is robust; boasting experience in radio, television broadcast, digital and print reporting.  

At Pepperdine Ashton was a cornerstone of the campus newsroom, The Graphic. In addition to overseeing a staff of 60 students as President and Online Managing Editor of The Graphic, Ashton anchored Pepperdine’s weekly broadcast G-News for five seasons and created “Malibu After Dark” with KWVS, Pepperdine’s campus radio station. 

In 2014 Ashton joined the NBC Los Angeles newsroom as an digital news intern where her multimedia skills thrived. In January 2015, Ashton returned to the prestigious internship where she co-wrote an article with LA news veteran Gordon Tokumatsu and continued to demonstrate her digital prowess. 

Ashton’s professional experience is complimented by her strong digital footprint. As a self-declared news junkie, her Twitter feed is full of breaking news from throughout LA County. Ashton’s Instagram shows a more personal side of Whitney, behind-the-scenes at NBC LA and indulging her sweet tooth while exploring LA with friends.

Ashton’s relentless work ethic and passion for the news is clear, but her 360 degree approach to journalism sets her apart. In every medium, Ashton shows us that her name will be gracing the bylines of page, screen and airwaves for many years to come.