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The Iron Pipeline: Investigative Reporting with Contently Dot Org

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I recently had the opportunity to work with Contently and StudioAtGawker on a long-form investigative story about gun trafficking on the so-called Iron Pipeline, a stretch of Interstate 95 that connects a number of major east coast cities. The reporting work was in conjunction with the launch of Contently Dot Org, a not-for-profit platform in support of investigative journalism.

For two months our team – editor Brad Hamilton, data journalist Sam Petulla, and Contently’s Sam Slaughter – conducted research, interviewed sources and experts, and crafted a story that attempts to humanize the realities of gun trafficking. I was the primary writer and reporter.

Angels of Death

Tiana never saw herself as a killer.
The daughter of a prostitute, she grew up in an inner city housing project surrounded by crack cocaine, day-time shootings and illicit money making. Hustling was in her family’s blood. Her grandmother ran an after-hours booze business from their apartment, selling bottles of beer and pints of liquor until three in the morning.

For Tiana, who was determined not to follow her mother into the sex trade, guns became the hustle.
Buying weapons for the men in her life—a practice that police call straw purchasing—was easy money.

“I hung out a lot with guys because I didn’t figure that women could teach me anything,” she told me. “Guys taught me … to deal with the street. And part of that was guns.”

Read the full story.

Learn more about Contently Dot Org.

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Hacking Explained: Jack Rice and Dan Patterson on Progressive AM 950


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Jack and Dan discuss a brief history of hacking, explain how the NSA captured personal user data from major internet providers, and provide a few essential security tips for the web and mobile on Minnesota’s progressive talk station, AM 950.

Learn more about about the NSA from expert James Bamford, and security from host Steve Gibson.

Thanks for listening to Jack and Dan.

Stay tuned.

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Sudan Stories with Jack Rice and Dan Patterson on Progressive AM 950

Recorded on AM 950 in Minneapolis as commentary on media training conducted by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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jack_rice_dan_patterson_am950In which I join talk radio host, former CIA agent, and public defender Jack Rice to share stories on 950 AM in Minneapolis about storytelling, reporting from Cairo, and digital journalism in conflict regions.

Learn more at AM 950 Progressive Radio and on Jack’s website.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

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Sudan Stories: Language, Guns, & Phones – Media Training In Cairo

Recorded in March 2014 as part of a media training by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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cairo_skylineFrom an ad-hoc classroom through the bustling streets of Cairo to the Pyramids of Giza, this is an audio journal of stories and  thoughts recorded while working with Small World News to train Sudanese media makers in March of 2014.

Our hotel was located down a busy, dusty ally in downtown Cairo. Each day our team scribbled on charts and whiteboards in a top-floor classroom with windows that opened to the noisy clanking of perpetual construction. For two weeks over coffee and sheesha with our Sudanese colleagues we used Android devices to review the techniques of telling stories that deeply resonate with people.

Our group was remarkable, and individually live fascinating lives in different regions of Sudan. Each day was an opportunity to learn more about family, music, language, and culture. With the help of great translators listened to personal stories, asked questions, and recorded audio. As with my prior trip to Sudan, I also occasionally recorded short audio journal entries of our activity. Far from an official report, this is a narrative that tries to capture the essence of the people of Sudan, as well as the sounds of Egypt.

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In this episode you’ll hear a number of captivating stories:

  • The story of a mother awake in a storm anxiously awaiting the return of her son.
  • The impact of the Egyptian revolution on tourism at the Giza Pyramids.
  • The impact of violence and systemic marginalization on language, music, and dance in Kordofan.
  • How mobile phones are empowering disenfranchised groups.
  • The pop music of Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

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Notes: 

The experiences shared in this story are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet these experiences are shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

The stories shared in this episode were conducted with a local, untrained translator and recorded on the fly with a Marantz PMD620. I speak Arabic poorly and did my best to keep up with the narrative, but surely much nuance and context was lost in translation. Arabic clarification and edits are welcome.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

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Sudan Stories:

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Sudan Stories: The Story of N – Imprisoned and Blinded

Recorded in March 2014 as part of a media training by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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cairo_sunsetN is from a city in Sudan. I met her during our training course in Cairo. N was a media student for two weeks and I had to opportunity to know her well. In Sudan, N has a reputation as a hard-working and warm-hearted activist. Her loud voice was heard and noted by the UN and the international community, but was largely ignored by the Sudanese government. Until she witnessed corruption and spoke too loudly.

For the crime of witnessing and reporting corruption, N was imprisoned and kept in solitary confinement. She placed in a stark cell and kept alone for months. Her only company was the bright light that shone perpetually, keeping her awake for days at a time. From time to time she was removed from her cell and forced by her captors to stare in to a blinding light during brutal interrogations. 

Then, just prior to Ramadan for reasons still unknown, she was released. She’s worried about government surveillance, her family, and her safety. She wanted to learn to make media as a form of empowerment. Over coffee and cheap cigarettes N shared her story as we sat and looked at the Cairo sunset.

The experiences shared by N are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet N’s experience is shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

Notes:

The experiences shared by N are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet N’s experience is shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

This interview was conducted with a local, untrained translator and recorded on the fly with a Marantz PMD620. I speak Arabic poorly and did my best to keep up with the narrative, but surely much nuance and context was lost in translation. Arabic clarification and edits are welcome.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

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Sudan Stories:

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Sudan Stories: The Story of M – Sell a Kidney or Make Bombs

Recorded in March 2014 as part of a media training by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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sudan_thumbs_in_cairoM is a Sudanese activist living in Cairo. As a young man in Sudan M was kidnapped, forced to join the military, and punished for refusing to learn bomb-making tactics. Years later M was released and built a life in Sudan. Yet he was seized again and tortured by the government. He bribed his way to freedom, sold his house, and fled to Cairo. Now he’s running out of money. M faces a choice between selling a kidney and becoming a suicide bomber.

I was introduced to M by friends in our Sudanese training program. On the final day of training our translator tugged my sleeve while I was busy checking the encryption on a mobile device. M – shy, short, with a strong voice but sympathetic disposition and dressed in Western clothing – was was introduced as a Cairo resident friend of our group. M shared his story as we sat together on cracked brown couches in the bright, smoke-filled lobby of a small hotel in downtown Cairo.

Notes:

The experiences shared by M are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet M’s experience is shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

This interview was conducted with a local, untrained translator and recorded on the fly with a Marantz PMD620. I speak Arabic poorly and did my best to keep up with the narrative, but surely much nuance and context was lost in translation. Arabic clarification and edits are welcome.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

Learn More:

Sudan Stories:

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Interview: Illustrator David Lloyd at NYC Comic Con


Illustrator David Lloyd talks with Dan Patterson at the Hazarai booth at NYC Comic Con 2013 about the ideological origins of his classic V For Vendetta, devising the iconic Guy Fawkes mask, and his ongoing anthology of great stories, Aces Weekly.

Learn more at Hazarai.com, and find more interviews like this at http://SoundCloud.com/DanPatterson.

Audio Enclosure

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The Gabfest: An Interview with Slate’s Podcast Chief Andy Bowers

In which Andy Bowers reveals the history of Slate podcasting, how he grew a content empire, and the true origin of Slate’s anti-Panda agenda.

The New Oxford American Dictionary deemed ‘podcast’ the word of the year in 2005. During the early, hyped days of podcasting and ‘web 2.0′, tech companies raised money at crazy valuations, and were poised to break semi-famous hosts in to the mainstream, finally replacing a generation of cheeseball radio DJ’s.

And then nothing happened. A medium ahead of it’s time, early podcasting fizzled as quickly as it popped. Consumers were uninspired and confused, and traditional news organizations couldn’t successfully shoehorn old advertising models on to niche and deeply-vertical content. Podcasting was largely abandoned by many of it’s early evangelists and common wisdom stated that video and YouTube had won.

After a career covering politics for NPR, Andy Bowers moved to public radio’s cultural cousin Slate in 2003, and began work podcasting in 2005. Instead of getting lost in the hype, Bowers focused on creating shows that simply reflected Slate’s sparky editorial vibe.

An opinion-driven news magazine, Slate’s contributors follow the same ethical standards of traditional news organizations, but are also encouraged to form and fight for opinions. The initial impetus behind Slate podcasts was to capture this opinion-creation process on tape, and record this behind-the-scenes editorial chatter in a live discussion environment.

The format is simple: commentators from cultural verticals – Sports, Culture, and Politics – gather weekly in a round-table environment to discuss topical news. Slate hosts know the audience well, and programs often emphasize nuanced discussion over shocking clickbait. Success is derived from a balance of consistency, integrated live-read advertising, and informed banter.

Tight focus on smart conversation has helped Slate hosts develop intimate relationships with large audiences. During a recent live episode of the Political Gabfest in New York City  fan and subscriber Stephen Colbert remarked on the personal bond between listeners and content, stating, “I’m so excited to be the fourth person at this little table.”

Andy Bowers’ strategy has worked. Slate programs grew slowly and consistently during podcasting’s post-hype years. Over the past decade, podcasting has matured organically. Like Slate, personalities like Marc Maron, Jesse Thorn, Kevin Smith, and Leo Laporte all leverage the the medium’s inherent intimacy to talk with large audiences. And Slate  has become a cultural proving ground for ambitious personalities, professional athletes, politicos, and fellow podcasters.

In conversation, Andy is as cool and consistent as his content strategy. He’s somehow managed to grow an innovative product by avoiding the hype  and hyperbole of technology. Listen, as we discuss his formula for success.

Audio Enclosure

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The Illusion of Change: A Conversation with Sean Howe About Marvel Comics

Dan Patterson:

Last week I sat down in the studio with Sean to discuss where the Marvel story began, and where it’s going.

On Medium

Audio Enclosure

“Comic books are about presenting the illusion of change,” once said Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, “without ever actually changing a thing.”

…Or maybe he didn’t. The origin story of attribution for this portentous quote has been as ambiguous as Wolverine’s.  And that’s kind of the point.

The illusion of perpetual change without ever actually changing reveals the contemporary state of the comic book industry, and of the institution that is Marvel Comics.

In his extensive history of the company, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story author Sean Howe reveals the story Marvel never could: of it’s own origin and the commercial weight of ideas.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is about the mechanics of myth-making. Packed with McFarlane-like detail, Howe reveals the joyous hyperbole of Marvel’s super-sausage-making process. While the human characters are sometimes as mundane as the Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods where they lived, the story of Marvel is as exciting as the comics themselves.

The House of Ideas has always been home to scrappy innovation. From the early Golden Age pulp days of Timely Comics, through the creation of historic character archetypes like the Fantastic Four in the 1960′s, Lee’s Marvel was a boisterous, break-neck bullpen that helped birth contemporary myth.

And, somewhere along the way, emerged the Marvel Comics story, a fascinating tale about a cast-off company comprised of forgotten geniuses, creative malcontents, and business bamboozlers.

By the 1970s, in an attempt to either escape or sell the characters he helped create, Lee escaped from New York City’s publishing industry to the film business in Los Angeles. In his wake Lee left a hole in Marvel filled by business innovation and a creative renaissance.  In a sage-like move that would make today’s Apple proud, Marvel embraced the burgeoning Direct Market, an innovative approach to fostering the independent retail stores across the country. The Direct Market allowed retailers to obtain non-returnable product at deeply discounted price. The deep discounts allowed comic book retail stores – and Marvel itself – to focus on more specific, target markets. Of target marketing attempts fell flat and lead to silly pulp stores.

While silly and cynical products failed, the Direct Market helped foster the burgeoning fandom industry, and lead to a creative boom by some of Marvel’s writers and artists. Creators, some famous, many now long-forgotten, were left to invent wildly imaginative stories, and to adapt characters from a previous generation. Creative muscle flexed on cast-offs like Wolverine and Daredevil lead to a commercial explosion that helped define the industry through the 80′s and 90′s.

Marvel’s true identity today is as a company trapped somewhere between blockbusters movies and the old retail Direct Market. As comic book store across the country shutter, the intellectual property of the characters and stories has never been more valuable. The Direct Market threatens to choke digital evolution, and young fans are just that: fans, not consumers, of the core product.

Last week I sat down in the studio with Sean to discuss where the Marvel story began, and where it’s going.

Originally posted on KoPoint:


“Comic books are about presenting the illusion of change,” once said Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, “without ever actually changing a a thing.” 

…Or maybe he didn’t. The origin story of attribution for this portentous quote has been as ambiguous as Wolverine’s.  And that’s kind of the point.

The illusion of perpetual change without ever actually changing reveals the contemporary state of the comic book industry, and of the institution that is Marvel Comics.

In his extensive history of the company, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story author Sean Howe reveals the story Marvel never could: of it’s own origin and the commercial weight of ideas. 

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is about the mechanics of myth-making. Packed with McFarlane-like detail, Howe reveals the joyous hyperbole of Marvel’s super-sausage-making process. While the human characters are sometimes as mundane as the Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods where they lived, the story of Marvel is…

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Conversational Passport: An Interview with App.Net Founder Dalton Caldwell

Dan Patterson:

An audio and video interview with App.Net founder Dalton Caldwell.

Originally posted on KoPoint:

In which I discuss social platforms and technology culture with entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell.

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Dalton cut his tech teeth by building streaming networking imeem. At imeem Dalton experienced great success, and tremendous setbacks. At it’s peak, imeem had close to 30 million users. After years of legal battles, the company folded in to Myspace.

Dalton was discouraged, but learned how to adapt in Silicone Valley. In addition to being a passionate evangelist  for transparent business, Dalton is the founder of App.Net, a developer and community-focused social platform. After observing Twitter’s shift from a developer model to an advertising model, Dalton launched App.Net as a for-pay platform. Today, App.Net supports a vibrant community, and more closely resembles a social app ecosystem than a Twitter clone.

In this interview, recorded initially as a Google+ Hangout video, Dalton and I discuss his evolution as a technologist and…

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