Newspaper reporter and videographer
After graduating from Stanford, I worked for a few years as a reporter and editor for several community newspapers in Baltimore, Maryland. Then a lecture on information theory turned me toward television just as the first portable video cameras hit the consumer market. I taught video workshops and produced closed-circuit TV shows in Baltimore prisons, schools and senior citizen centers. In the late seventies, lured by the call of the wild, I took a job as a cameraman at PBS station KTOO-TV in Juneau, Alaska. I later did TV field production and reporting for the statewide program of the Alaska State Legislature, at one point writing and producing a series on Native Alaskan subsistence rights.
I left Alaska several times to get an interdisciplinary M.A. in sociobiology and broadcast communication arts (TV) at San Francisco State University. I wrote my thesis on TV coverage of deforestation in the tropics, spending part of that time studying a World Wildlife Fund project that was helping communities in rural Mexico develop sustainable forestry practices. My articles and photographs about the project were published in Defenders of Wildlife magazine and a British literary journal. I also wrote feature articles on wildlife subjects for Audubon magazine and Alaska magazine. Here are some excerpts and photos from a few of those stories.
Working on the crew for a “World of Survival” (UK) film about Alaska coastal brown bears, I got interested in a famous Alaska pioneer and bear expert named Allen Hasselborg. I spent two years researching a biography of him on several grants, traveling to museums and libraries and interviewing sources in 12 states. While hawking the manuscript I read it in six installments over Alaska Public Radio. “Bear Man of Admiralty Island” was published in 1996 by the University of Alaska Press and has sold more than 5,000 copies. Learn more about it here and at Amazon.com.
I’ve been an avid photographer for years, occasionally selling photos with my magazine articles–and for “Bear Man of Admiralty Island” (see above). In Alaska I got hung up for a while on photographing dogs in pick-up trucks. I used infrared film, because I loved how its revelation of otherwise invisible radiation kept reminding me that the world is always and everywhere much stranger than it seems–many surreal images emerged from southeastern Alaska’s silvery light.
Media literacy teacher
As a videographer in the state of Alaska’s “Artists in Schools” program, I taught television production and critical viewing to high school students in remote rural villages statewide. I spent most of my time explaining the difference between commercials and programming and putting cameras in the hands of kids so they could make their own TV.
Grassroots environmental organizer
Soon after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, a Canadian company announced plans to bury a valley next to my home in Juneau, Alaska three-hundred feet deep in toxic mine tailings. With several neighbors I co-founded a non-profit organization that grew to more than 500 members (in a small town of 30,000 folks) in less than three years. We were instrumental in stopping the mine. As executive director, I wrote and produced a newsletter, wrote grant applications, led fundraising campaigns, testified at hearings, organized events, and managed our office and budget.