So that whole Al Jazeera experiment didn’t work out. I did some work I’m very proud of and got to work with some really talented journalists who I’m proud to call my friends. But launching a broadcast-focused media brand is just a heavy lift in today’s market.
While I was sad to see the channel go, I was totally distracted by Sid’s birth and the first few months of his life. But by March, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with literally months of reporting on a controversial guest worker program.
Enter The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, which was looking for four people of color to help with their first long-term investigative project. I applied wondering if the legwork I’d done might give me a leg up on other candidates. And he we are a few weeks later, and I got the fellowship!
I’m excited and humbled by the opportunity. And I’m hoping to live up to the woman whom the fellowship is named after, a daring investigative reporter and newspaper publisher who exposed the use of lynching in the Deep South not as a tool to punish the crimes of black people but to intimidate them and keep the community as a whole down.
The middle week in January was a real roller coaster for me. On Wednesday, January 13, I found out the cable network where I’d been working for the past two years, Al Jazeera America, was shutting down in late-April.
That news was barely digested when, on Friday, my wife, Kiera, went into labor.
Siddhartha Reyes Swaminathan was born in the wee hours of Saturday, January 16, overshadowing any other event that took place early that week and more or less all of them before it (at least in my life).
His first few days have been intensely documented via several iPhone cameras and even a couple traditional ones. If you want to watch him as he grows, we took inspiration from friends and made him his own Instagram account, @sidsw4mi, you can follow him there.
Work stuff will sort its out, but I’m feeling totally consumed by this little guy right now—and have to imagine I will be for the foreseeable future.
A lot of people call into the Paul Finebaum Show daily to talk about SEC football, so it’s not necessarily that big a deal to be on it. But I was an invited guest this past Thursday.
Paul or one of his producers wanted me to discuss my Atlanta Magazine article on UGA Head Football Coach Mark Richt. It was pretty difficult trying to stay cogent and not ramble during the five to 10 minutes that I was on with Paul. But I was really excited to be featured, and I hope I one day get to do it (and other radio spots) again.
The highlights of the interview are here.
Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve spent an obscene amount of time thinking about Mark Richt. For the previous 14 seasons, he’s been the head coach of the University of Georgia football team, whose games I grew up watching with my parents.
Richt is a complex figure in an increasingly monied and cutthroat sport. He’s seen as a “molder of men,” who cares about the person under the helmet, as much as he cares about his team’s on-field results. It’s led many to question whether he’s too virtuous to win on the biggest stages college football has to offer—despite the fact that he’s paid $4 million per year to do just that. And that’s the premise of the feature I wrote for Atlanta Magazine about him.
Read: “Hail Mark.”
This past week, the first TV show that I helped produced aired on Al Jazeera America and Al Jazeera English. It was an episode of “Fault Lines” titled “The Death of Aging,” it explores the funneling of millions of dollars by technology billionaires towards several efforts at reversing aging and increasing human longevity.
It was an amazingly fun project to work on, especially thanks to the production team of Sweta Vohra, Josh Rushing, and Joel Van Haren. I was lucky enough to get a co-production credit and was able to help on a number of fronts, from researching, reporting, setting up shoots, holding light reflectors, writing interview questions, scripting, and perhaps most importantly, hounding J. Craig Venter’s wife (who is also his publicist) until she agreed to let us go behind the scenes of his new venture Human Longevity, Inc.
If you’re in the U.S., you can see the opening to the film, as well as a scene with Dr. Venter. If you’re outside the U.S., you can enjoy the whole piece.
In late-2010, I knew nothing about archaeology. After three-plus years as a senior editor at Archaeology, I consider myself knowledgeable on at least one arcane subject: the peopling of the Americas.
I just finished a large project that I spent a lot of the last year reporting for Archaeology. It included meeting a lot of great characters, as well as a trip to the Paleoamerican Odyssey conference in Santa Fe, NM, last October. It was an occasionally testy meeting with prominent archaeologists whose theories had been summarily dismissed for decades by their peers finally having their day in the sun.
I would have never guessed it, but I find this topic really exciting.
Read: “America, in the Beginning.”
Kiera and I met nearly a decade ago. We took the protracted route, but I couldn’t be more pleased that we finally got here. (Even if it took me having to leave my beloved NYC.)
Happily married. Officially.
Oh, and we just made Kiera a new website since she has a book coming out this fall. Check it out.