CCTV: Coming to America

In February, China Central Television launched CCTV America, an hour-long daily program broadcast from brand new studios in Washington, D.C. CCTV America says that it is trying to provide American audiences with news from an Asian perspective. However, some critics are skeptical that the network will be able to distance itself from the propaganda broadcast by its Chinese relative. Milos Balac, Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver and Lesley Dong report.


Consumer Watch: Are Vibram Running Shoes Good for Your Health?

Imagine a glove for your toes. That’s what Vibram FiveFingers is all about. They’re made to mimic the barefoot running that Kenyans and other cultures have been doing for centuries. But, are they good for your health?

By: Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver and Leisha Majitan

A Year of Firsts

Published on Columbia Journalism’s Centennial website 

The day I received my acceptance letter from Columbia Journalism is forever etched in my memory.

I was at school in Toronto, Canada, reading my final thesis draft to my roommates. Up popped the email notification on my laptop and I screamed. I called my astonished parents who were momentarily seized with fear that I had been attacked. It took me fifteen minutes to summon up the courage to open the email. When I finally did, it was an apparent disappointment. Tantalizingly, the page only said a decision had been made but with no details. Five pages later, with just one word, my dream of attending this great Ivy League school had come true It said “Accepted”

This past year has been the best and worst time of my life. I thought that being a student-athlete at the University of Toronto with almost 60 hours of training and class each week was tough. I was wrong. Columbia has stretched my intellectual horizons and physical limits, each time edging that boundary one step further. I’ve improved my craft by becoming a better storyteller, learning to ask tougher and more relevant questions, and more importantly solidifying my passion for reporting.

It’s been a year of firsts. My first all-nighter was spent producing a six-minute crime and consequence video for RW1. I fell asleep at 4am with a video camera on my lap as it imported files. I created videos and radio pieces, some better than others, which were published and subsequently spread across various social media platforms by proud friends, family and even the odd viewer. I ventured alone into a New York City Housing Project against police advice, travelled to the heart of the Bronx at 2am for an RW1 story, and attended my first professional National Hockey League game as a sports reporter. I have met incredible New Yorkers with powerful stories and rich histories that I’ve been honored to tell.

I feel privileged to have been trained at a school that has given many of the best journalists in the world the beginnings of their careers. Walking into the J-school building, aptly renamed Pulitzer Hall this year after the muckraking American publisher, is incredibly humbling and inspiring.

Titanic Centennial

The Titanic sunk 100 years ago this Sunday. But the tale of the doomed ocean liner is far from forgotten. Olivia Smith reports on how New Yorkers are commemorating the centennial.

Titanic Centennial from Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver on Vimeo.

9/11 Past, Present And Future: A Woman’s Attempt To Connect People Through Art.

The bells chimed at Saint John the Divine Cathedral on September 11th 2001, but not for the reason visual artist and Upper West Side resident Andrea Arroyo had anticipated. Living eight miles from the atrocity’s epicenter and without a television or radio, Arroyo was unaware of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Arroyo says she thought the bells were commemorating the Chilean President’s murder in 1973.

Art is one of Arroyo’s passions, but like many New Yorkers, she found it emotionally difficult to return to work. Her paintings, using bright colors and smooth brush strokes, were traditionally figurative works that were celebratory and focused on the female body and space. The images and information gathered from September 11th coupled with her emotional state, however, made it hard for Arroyo to create work of the same style. “I had this word in my mind about how I felt, and it was unreal”, says Arroyo. She says the attacks were the catalyst of her extended creative block.

The terrorist attacks changed the subject matter of Arroyo’s work. It focused more on social and political issues after the attacks. Flor de Tierra, for example, a collection of paintings on gender injustice in Mexico, was created after the events of September 11th.

A month later, art broke Arroyo free from her creative block. Her emotions and artistic response to the event of 9/11 motivated her to produce artwork dedicated to the attacks. Arroyo was shocked by the reality that New York City was no longer the safe, welcoming, loving city she had come to love. She says “the diversity and cultural richness of the place was still there but shaken really badly”

Arroyo’s piece was a silk-screen image of the twin towers created by stacking up the word ‘UNREAL’. The location of the airplane’s impact was represented in the top third of the image by red, yellow and black clouds. The “piece spoke to what many other people were feeling at the time. It was just an unreal time and unreal events and unreal kind of a feel all around,” adds Arroyo.

The piece was eventually published in the New York Times and eventually placed in the Library of Congress. Reaction and response to the piece, however, played no motivating role in the creation of ‘UNREAL’ notes Arroyo.

Upon being published, Arroyo received countless emails, phone calls and letters from individuals who needed to find some connection and feel less isolated in a time of crisis. She says it was a rare occasion, in her career, to form a bridge with people all over the world. The most memorable and touching moment, recalls Arroyo, was a phone call from a woman whose relative, also named Andrea, perished in the Twin Towers.

Motivated by her past experience with September 11th and the responses received from ‘UNREAL’, Arroyo decided to curate a commemorative exhibit ten years later on 9/11. She also created the event because she “wanted to see what artists would create taking in consideration all these things: 9/11 event, to the loss, morning, to the terrorist attacks to this NYC. Reconstruction, what are your ideas, what will the future look like.” Featured artists, many of whom suffered from 9/11 in the same way as Arroyo, were thrilled to have an outlet to display their work. Much of their artwork reveals their personal memories, thoughts on terrorism, the World Trade Center, and the future of New York City.

Through their art, Arroyo hopes other artists will share her experience and connect to individuals affected by September 11th. She believes that after ten years of construction on the World Trade Center site, it is time for Americans to close the cycle and move forward.

Arroyo says her exhibit is an opportunity to witness a variety of artists with diverse reactions and emotions concerning the events and aftermath of September 11th. Regardless of the intense subject matter, the exhibit leaves viewers feeling hopeful for the future of New York.

Traditional oil paintings, abstract art, comics and photographs are featured in the exhibit. After a year of planning, her gallery entitled September 11th, Past, Present and Future, is now open and runs until October 10th at the El Taller Latino America

Tom’s Restaurant Tackles Hurricane Irene

Tom’s Restaurant on 112th street on Broadway is most famous for being the restaurant from the television show Seinfeld. Few people know that Tom’s is a family restaurant. It has been run by the same Greek family since opening in 1936. This audio slideshow looks at how various employees at Tom’s Restaurant felt about and dealt with Hurricane Irene.