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|| News Item: Posted 2000-04-27

Leading Off: Photojournalism is People...Pure and Simple
By Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro
It was almost a year ago that I wrote about the people of Oklahoma City and their determination and kindness in face of tragedy.

I just came back from spending a week in Oklahoma City where I worked on several assignments. (When I told a colleague that I was going to OK City for a week he wanted to know what I had done to receive a "sentence" like that.)

But as I tell people I rather enjoy my frequent visits to Oklahoma where I have been documenting the lives of one residential block that was wiped out in the May 3 tornado. It reminds me a lot of my home town of Fresno, a rural farming town where life isn't too complicated and people will still invite a near stranger into their homes for a home cooked dinner.

While in OK City I also spent two very amusing days with Shane Hamman, the USA's top weight lifter. From an early morning meeting with community leaders, to playing 9 holes of golf at the local par 3 golf course with a family friend to arm wrestling old men at a local lunch counter (and pretending to lose) Hamman showed what the name "Olympian" really means.

One of the few things Shane insisted on during my visit was that we had to go to the gym where he got his start so I could meet a former weight lifting partner who was back working out after battling cancer. He also wanted to make sure he had a chance to talk to youngsters at the gym as well.

I also spent an evening photographing 1996 gold medalist Shannon Miller preparing to make a comeback as she tries to make the 2000 Olympic Gymnastic Team. The candor in which her coach Steve Nunno spoke and the effort Miller put in while a couple of dozen kids ran loose in the Dynamo Gymnastics facility in north OC City was refreshing and entertaining to say the least.

But while I was in Oklahoma for that week, I read with interest (and disgust) several things about the profession we call journalism:

- Item:
Pen Attack Draws Humor From Television Station
A day after a New York Post reporter allegedly stabbed an NBC-6 cameraman with her pen in the media tent city in front of the Miami home of Elian's family, a new sign went up on the NBC-6 tent.

``WARNING,'' it says. ``No pens allowed. Subject to search.'' Police spokesman Delrish Moss joked with reporters: ``We're going to be taking all writing instruments away from you and issuing Crayola crayons.''

- Item:
The Making of a Media Event
The Columbine anniversary promises to be the biggest thing since...well, Columbine. In an effort to "manage" the coverage of the one-year anniversary, the DOP of the Denver Post suggests that his staff wear t-shirts with a large "Post" stenciled on it. Another local media member recommends that students wear large badges or signs that say "Yes" or "No" to let reporters know if they would like to be interviewed.

- Item:
Police Say Staffer Threw Rocks
Miami police charged Sunday that a Los Angeles Times photographer arrested during disturbances following the federal seizure of Elian Gonzalez, threw rocks and then photographed the aftermath.

As I reflect on my trip to Oklahoma and the conduct of the media in recent days I know what it is that attracted me to photojournalism ... people like Shane Hamman and the Raiden Family, survivors of the tornado and Bruce Johnson who is rebuilding his home on SW 128th Street with his own hands. Photojournalism is people.... pure and simple.

* * *

In a slight change of pace, this issue of Sports Shooter leads off with a reflective piece by Rod Mar of the Seattle Times on life after starting a family. Rick Rickman, The Count, Anne Ryan, Sam Mircovich and Tim Clayton are in this month's lineup with their continuing musings.

We also have a special contributions from Greg Cava on the imploding of the Kingdome and San Francisco Giants' team photographer Martha Jane Stanton gives a behind scenes look at the new Pacific Bell Park.

And of course we have, as we like to say here at Sports Shooter, "much, much more!" (Note: the popular "Road Warrior" column will return next issue after Mongo is released by U.S. Fish and Game marshals.)

So sit back, queue up a bunch of files for Napster to download, adjust the contrast on your monitor and enjoy Sports Shooter v.19.

Robert Hanashiro

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