The Message

Hard Corps

With these disappointments fresh in his mind, Chesnutt tried to make the Uganda journey as efficient as possible. He and Amman self-financed the trip to the tune of $10,000, and multi-tasked with abandon. "We're pretty lean and mean," Chesnutt says. "Two people ended up doing stills, video, reporting, writing, interviewing and extracting sound bites for radio from digital audiotape. We're the poor man's media, but with modern technology, you can do that." There wasn't a lot of competition for this information. During their travels, they bumped into just one reporter, from the BBC, although they heard that an NBC crew was due to arrive shortly after their departure.

The combination of good timing and some genuinely appalling happenings make Chesnutt optimistic that News Corps' latest findings will be widely disseminated. A few regional newspapers have agreed to print the story; CNN purchased some footage; BBC Radio snapped up photos to run on its website; and a 60 Minutes staffer made inquiries. Even better, an April 7 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., will focus on the Uganda tragedy. Confirmed speakers include representatives from Amnesty International and World Vision, as well as Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who last year joined Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo to decry the terrible conditions in the Darfur region of Sudan, a country that borders Uganda. Chesnutt, who plans to attend the press conference, notes that News Corps' photographs and video will be shown to the assembled journalists to help them get a handle on what most of them have been disregarding to date. In his view, "the story is getting some legs."

If he's right, more media outlets may find their way to Uganda. Chesnutt's sanguine about this possibility. "Of course, I wish they'd just buy everything from us," he says with a laugh, "but we have seen a trend towards other media covering some of the same stories we have. While I can't claim credit, it does make me happy to see -- because one of our goals is to affect coverage of events like this one."

Ugandan Wilborne, age thirteen, says he was forced 
to kill twenty people.
Ugandan Wilborne, age thirteen, says he was forced to kill twenty people.

Public assistance: Colorado Matters may finally fulfill its promise. The hour-long interview forum, heard weekdays on the news half of Colorado Public Radio's system, allows for in-depth discussions, but because of a chronic manpower shortage, some segments run longer than they should simply to fill space. Finally, though, CPR management is addressing this problem. Dan Meyers, a longtimer with the Denver Post (he most recently toiled as the broadsheet's national/foreign editor) has moved from print to sound; he's been named producer and backup host for the program. In addition, host Dan Drayer confirms that another producer will be hired soon, bringing the current contingent to five -- the largest number since the show's 2001 launch.

Meyers, who'll start work on April 13, is simultaneously excited and daunted by his new tasks: "I've changed jobs before, but never careers," he says. Drayer plans to draw on Meyers's more than thirty years of experience as a journalist and feels his presence will provide a much-needed morale boost. "Everyone has been overworked on this show," Drayer allows. "Additional staffing can only help."

The dividends should be obvious on the air, and off.

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