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Archive for April, 2011

Making Steps Count

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Michael J. Fox at the 1988 Emmy Awards (Photo by Alan Light)

The first time I watched “Back to the Future” I fell in love with Michael J. Fox. He was cute, funny, and, of course, he had access to a rad car. What more could a girl want?

I made my parents put on “Back to the Future” over and over again when I was a kid to the point I knew nearly all of the lines. And when the two sequels came out, those too became favorites of mine. I wanted to travel with Fox everywhere he went.

As the years passed, I outgrew my childhood crush on Fox. While I still loved to watch the “Back to the Future” movies, I seemed to see less and less of him on the big and small screen. In 1998, I finally learned why.

Fox had been diagnosed in 1991 with young-onset Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disease affecting the central nervous system. But he didn’t go public with his diagnosis until 1998. Since then, Fox has used his celebrity status to champion for a better understanding of Parkinson’s, raising millions of dollars for research.

Until Fox went public with the disease, I knew little about it. I knew the great boxer Muhammad Ali had it, and I had seen footage of Ali shaking quite a bit. So, it was safe to say that Parkinson’s affected the brain. But that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge.

When Fox went public, though, I wanted find out more about the disease. To do that, I read articles and searched the Internet. What I found scared me. There was no cure for the degenerative disorder. Patients only had medication to mask the symptoms. This was unacceptable. I did not want to watch Fox get worse.

Fox didn’t want to watch that either.


Bringing Down a General

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

General Stanley McChrystal (Photo by ISAF Public Affairs)

One of the reasons I went into journalism was because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to write about topics that mattered, like education, social justice and corrupt politicians. I wanted to tell stories that could spark change.

My biggest inspiration was two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their articles on the Watergate scandal ultimately toppled a presidency, forcing Richard Nixon to resign.

Woodward and Bernstein had immense power, and I wanted in on it. But by the time I had started journalism school, more than 30 years after Watergate, the gung hoe, investigative reporting that I admired so much had seemed to all but vanish. Journalists no longer had the power they once had.

With the downturn in the economy, many newspapers and media outlets were in the red, and the investigative teams were one of the first to go, leaving papers with barebones staffs and reporting.