Sommer and Lindsey in Romania

Sommer and Lindsey are traveling to Romania for two weeks in summer 2009 to report on the status of orphanages, 20 years after the fall of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Their project is partially funded by a Meadows Exploration Award. Sommer ’08 graduated in December with degrees in journalism from Meadows School of the Arts and history from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Lindsey is a senior marketing major in Cox School of Business and a photojournalist.

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Making plans is like daring life

An update from Sommer:

Our destination remains the same. We’re going to Romania. The journey, however, involves a few more twists than anticipated.

For those who have been following along with the blog Sail Right Into the Storm, we’ve blogged about putting together this trip through one main contact. I have yet to blog about our story ideas, but some of our key stories are ‘Then and Now’ features that will chronicle the experiences of some of the children who grew up in the orphanage system. They are children that our non-profit contact has been in touch with and can get us in touch with for interviews and pictures. Last week that contact expressed some concern over her ability to take the trip in March. We were quick to discover that was just fancy talk for postpone.

So we were left with two options: fly solo or postpone until the summer. And out came the pros and cons lists.

Cons of Postponing: We wouldn’t be going now, and although Romania isn’t exactly a ‘Spring Break! Woohoo!’ kind of place, it was our plan for spring break. And we knew that changing our tickets would be a costly inconvenience. We didn’t realize HOW costly and HOW inconvenient until yesterday, but we knew it wouldn’t be a party to get that all sorted.

Pros: We’d be able to travel with someone who can get us access to places that were indispensable to our reporting (which was our biggest concern). We could spend the next few months building our network in Romania, learning more about Romania and writing several relevant preview stories, expand and update our blog (I’m going to buy a flip camera so we can have some fun with that and post videos), and search for more grants and seek more financing for the trip.

We mulled over our lists earlier this week in the convergent newsroom at SMU. Journalism Chair Tony Pederson saw us through the glass doors and popped in to say hello (or ask me to stop loitering around campus, one of the two). We laid it all out for him and got his opinion.

He told us to wait, which was the same thing we heard from other seasoned journalists, family and friends. Feeling a bit defeated, I turned to Lindsey and said next time we’ll be sure not to work with only one contact.

Pederson laughed.

I turned to him and said, ‘I guess we’re learning a pretty obvious lesson.’

With a knowing smile on his face, he said we’re learning to be journalists.

And I guess that’s the point of this whole thing. Yes, we’re passionate about the stories we’re covering and we’re dedicated to producing some really great quality work. But we also know this is going to be somewhat of a test run. The first adventure of many to come.

And although Perkins and I are supposed to be in the air right now, we will be come June, and we’ll keep updating the blog until then (with more pictures and more video, too). So keep reading. I plan on becoming increasingly interesting as time goes by.

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