In which I spent almost three weeks visiting the construction site of downtown Gainesville’s ice rink two or three times a day… In which I was hit on repeatedly by the people in Bo Diddley Community Plaza… In which I watched an old man who did not need the money from this project spend two weeks sleeping in his truck…
This story earned me another front pager for the Gainesville Sun.
Originally, this was going to be a video project for a class about the rink’s construction, with a final interview of someone excited about it and shots of people happily skating. That slowly fell apart. After visiting the construction site so often with my camera, the main subject started to tell me things in passing when I wasn’t filming. These details were the most fascinating and would have helped people truly understand his character and his situation. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t say them on the record. But the story was still about a guy who was struggling but not going to give up.
When the story came out, he called to thank me for doing a nice job. He said he had thought about quitting the project in the days after our last interview, but he decided against it because he said that’s not who he was. The rink should be done by the end of the next week, he said, and he mentioned hiring me to make a promotional video about it. Later, I found out he did decide to quit the project. The rink was so close to being done! But I understand his struggles, and I hope, on some level, Gainesville does, too.
In true fashion, I finished the final project for my photography lighting class about 30 minutes before it was due. Some people just work better under pressure…
The assignment was 10 photos with a unifying theme. I chose people involved in the food cycle, and I loved getting to go behind-the-scenes at places like UF’s meat processing center and one of my favorite restaurants, The Jones B-Side. I realize the lighting, especially the rim light, is way too hot in a lot of these photos. I’d love the chance to keep working on this series. Asking people to play with food for you is fun! And it’s been a long time since I laughed as hard as I did while shooting the “pooping” shot.
“People sometimes say to me, ‘I just want the facts.’ ‘Just the facts, please, just the facts.’… And these people are liars.”
—Michael Kruse, staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times
Tyler Jett worked on this story for nine months, and it shows!
His story gives personal accounts and also touches on the big-picture issues of how “rape is underreported, misrepresented in pop culture, difficult to prosecute and has a severe psychological impact on the victims.” Check out the interview with Tyler, published online to the left of the story, about his reporting and writing process and his thoughts on the problems involved with charging and convicting rapists.
The feature piece was a welcome edition to the student-run newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, and Tyler did a fantastic job on a topic that should be talked about more often.
“The price we pay for not being where news happens can be reckoned not only in less good journalism, but in less good policy. Because, make no mistake, some portion of the information governments call ‘intelligence’ is nothing more than an attentive reading of the news. ”
–Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times