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What former Star Tribune reporter Myron Medcalf wants to do with his newest gig: Star Tribune local columnist

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This Sunday, readers of the Star Tribune will see something the state’s largest newspaper has never had since its founding as the Minneapolis Tribune in 1867 — a Black face in the local news columnist space.

That face belongs to ESPN college basketball writer and radio personality Myron Medcalf, 37, a Strib alumnus who left the paper in 2011. Medcalf returns as a twice-a-month Sunday contributor, given what Strib Editor Rene Sanchez calls “a blank canvas” and no restrictions on topics.  

A combination of events, beginning with the death of George Floyd in police custody last May, finally moved Sanchez to address the paper’s most glaring blind spot — a lack of diversity among its leading voices. In an area with a growing immigrant population of color, opinion at the Strib has long been driven by faces as white as the paper it’s printed on. 

Other than retired gossip columnist Cheryl (C.J.) Johnson, who is Black, the Strib hasn’t had a person of color write a regular, several-times-a-week column in any section. That put the Strib decades behind other major metros, including the Pioneer Press, which made Puerto Rican-born Ruben Rosario a news-side columnist in 1997. Rosario, a New Yorker, wrote with distinction until retiring earlier this year. (For what it’s worth, MinnPost also has no Black columnists.)

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The Diversity Solutions Document presented to Strib management by non-white newsroom employees in July didn’t specifically demand a Black columnist, but it requested more diverse hiring. The Milwaukee Journal (now the Journal Sentinel) made the late Eugene Kane its first Black local columnist in 1994. What took the Strib so long?

“There’s no easy answer for that,” Sanchez said. “Let’s be frank: As an institution, it hasn’t been the absolute highest priority. We’ve had at times a revolving door of columnists.

“The factors that led to Myron hadn’t come together in prior years for lots of reasons — who’s on the radar, budget, things like that. But there’s no good excuse. It’s overdue. It’s bugged me for a while, and I was tired of it bugging me.”

Rene Sanchez

Star Tribune

Rene Sanchez

Sanchez brings a different philosophy on column writing than some news executives. He prefers thoughtful columns backed by real reporting, instead of lightly-researched opinions dashed off in 45 minutes on the way to the golf course. “We don’t want columnists to be just an extension of talk radio and people screaming at each other,” Sanchez said.

“We ask our columnists to get out there and tell a story, but tell a story with a point of view and report it. Show things, don’t just say things. That’s the heart of the kind of column that should, and credibly can, exist in a news section. Myron understands that. And, frankly, I want someone who knows this community well and can speak broadly to our readership, not just a narrow constituency of our readership.”

Medcalf returns with ESPN’s blessing; he’s still under contract to the Worldwide Leader. Born and raised in Milwaukee, where Kane became his journalism hero, Medcalf moved to Minnesota to attend Minnesota State in 2001 and never left. He interned at the Strib in the summer of 2005 before then-Editor Anders Gyllenhaal hired him full-time to cover night cops and general assignment. From there, Medcalf moved to the St. Paul bureau before shifting to sports in 2007, covering University of Minnesota basketball for four years until ESPN beckoned. He continued living in the Twin Cities, raising three daughters while jetting all over the country to cover games and write features. 

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But lately, with Floyd’s death, something nagged at Medcalf. He thought of his father, Melvin, who rose from the assembly line to plant manager at Ball Corp. in Milwaukee. Melvin Medcalf and his wife, Barbara, a schoolteacher for 40 years, raised seven kids, two adopted after the death of a relative. All seven graduated from college, five with advanced degrees. Medcalf said his parents represented what was possible. 

“The last six months have made me reevaluate kind of everything,” Medcalf said. “I think a lot of people are in the same boat. For me, I was disappointed in myself in what I had done to help, or what I hadn’t done. I’ve always felt this responsibility as an African-American male. 

“My dad was a pretty visible guy in our circles in Milwaukee. He was involved. I always thought that was important. My dad would sometimes remark, `I’m the only Black parent at those school board meetings and all these different things,’ but he always would talk about how important that was. It might only be you, but if it is you, it’s because you’re in a position to do that, and you need to do it. For me, I was like, I’m not doing enough.”

Then Sanchez called. He knew Medcalf from the Strib and respected his work. They started talking, multiple conversations over several months. 

Medcalf’s extensive sports background didn’t bother Sanchez, a former sportswriter. Sanchez listened to a podcast where Medcalf described taking his daughters to where Floyd was killed, at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis. It resonated with Sanchez like a spoken column from the perspective of a Black husband and father. (You can pick up Medcalf’s story at the 25:20 mark.)

“I would argue that sports reporters are some of the most versatile journalists in the country,” Sanchez said. “I have a lot of faith in Myron’s crossover ability. I don’t have an iota of concern about that.”

Medcalf plans his first column to explain why he accepted the role and why it matters to him. He feels some pressure, not only as the Strib’s first Black local columnist, but coming from sports to take it on.

He plans to start slowly, going out in the community, talking to people, establishing the credibility he needs to tell stories with a viewpoint people want to read. That’s how Eugene Kane earned the trust of readers in Milwaukee. Especially a certain impressionable kid who saw a Black face in the newspaper and aspired to be the next. 

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“Some of the early columns that you’ll see, honestly, will be what you might see from a brand-new columnist who didn’t live here, who’s coming into the city for the first time and getting to know people,” Medcalf said. “I think it’s important to establish that this is everyone else’s column, too. If it’s just me telling you my two cents, then it’s just a Facebook page. I think it has to be more than that.”

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Urban Meyer Landed the Perfect NFL Gig with the Jacksonville Jaguars | Bleacher Report

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FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 file photo, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer celebrates at the end of the team's 28-23 win over Washington during the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in Pasadena, Calif. Urban Meyer is headed back to television. Fox announced on Monday, March 11, 2019 that they have hired the former Ohio State coach as one of the analysts for its retooled college football pregame show. Fox also announced that it has hired Reggie Bush and will move Brady Quinn from the booth to the studio. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, especially if you’re a lifelong college coach taking a job with an organization that has experienced one winning season and five head coaches in a 13-year span.

That’s the case with Urban Meyer, who on Thursday became the seventh head coach in Jacksonville Jaguars history and in the process raised a lot of questions about his fit within the NFL environment.

There’s a risk Meyer could become a pro-level bust a la Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino or Chip Kelly.

He lost nine games in seven seasons at Ohio State, and there’s no telling how he might respond to adversity with the rebuilding Jaguars. Nobody can say for certain that his spread offense will translate to Jacksonville. And while it’s awkward and touchy, the Jags had to consider that Meyer has retired for health reasons twice in the last decade. 

In other words, there’s a lot up in the air about this exciting yet risky hire. 

That being said, the 56-year-old could not be entering a more ideal situation. If Meyer doesn’t succeed with the opportunities that exist for him in Jacksonville, he won’t likely excel anywhere in the NFL.  

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

That’s because the Jags gutted their roster and essentially tanked in 2020 to position themselves for a quick but comprehensive rebuild right now. They’re slated to enter the 2021 offseason with far more salary-cap space than any other team in the league, according to Spotrac, and soon after a potential free-agent spending spree, they’ll be widely expected to use the NFL draft’s No. 1 overall pick on generational quarterback talent Trevor Lawrence. 

The Jaguars own another first-round selection courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams (who sent two first-rounders to Jacksonville in 2019 in exchange for cornerback Jalen Ramsey), and they also have two second-rounders, a pair of fourth-rounders and an extra fifth-round selection. 

It’s easy to see how swiftly the Jags could leap from the NFL’s basement. There will be speculation that Meyer could prefer former Buckeye Justin Fields atop the draft because of Fields’ mobility, but Lawrence rushed for 17 touchdowns in his last two college seasons. He’s the complete package, and after three impressive campaigns at Clemson, he appears ready to take the NFL by storm. 

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

To support Lawrence (or Fields), Meyer and the Jags could essentially have carte blanche in March.

They can complement DJ Chark Jr. with a potential superstar receiver like Chris Godwin or Kenny Golladay, they can begin to revamp a formerly jacked secondary with Anthony Harris or Justin Simmons at safety or William Jackson III at cornerback. They can go get Hunter Henry to fill a need at tight end or Brandon Scherff to address the offensive line. Or both.

The point is, with more than $70 million in projected cap space, and with only four other teams projected to possess even half that amount following a tough year financially across the league, the Jaguars can accelerate their rebuild in a wide-open division by splurging now. 

Imagine this team with Lawrence, Godwin, Harris, Henry, Scherff and, say, Miami star pass-rusher Gregory Rousseau as its second first-round pick. Consider the young talent already on the roster with recent first-rounders CJ Henderson, Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson and Taven Bryan all still possessing upside on defense. 

The talent is there in some spots, and it will inevitably soon arrive in others. 

On top of all that, the Jaguars have a foothold in London, where they’ve essentially become England’s team. Meyer and his quarterback can be the faces of that high-profile, lucrative, growing football market. It’s a new avenue that wouldn’t have been available to Meyer with any other job in American football. 

And frankly, in Jacksonville (and to a lesser extent in London), the stakes are lower than they would have been if Meyer had become the head coach at Texas. He has everything to lose in the college ranks, where he’s a legend. But will anybody blame him if he can’t quickly fix the Jaguars

There’s a big difference between the Jaguars job and an Atlanta Falcons gig that comes with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, or a Philadelphia Eagles opportunity that is wrapped in pressure because the team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender in 2020. 

Meyer and a rookie No. 1 overall pick will bring plenty of fresh hype to Jacksonville this summer and fall, but nobody expects a 1-15 team to suddenly make a Super Bowl run next season. He’ll have time to settle in along with a new, yet-to-be-named general manager. 

There will, in fact, be very little to lose early. But with the Indianapolis Colts likely to experience changes following a one-and-done playoff experience and the Houston Texans mired in tumult, the Jags could surprise with the 14-team playoff field again in place in 2021.  

So, could this whole endeavor blow up on both Meyer and the Jags? Could we one day list his name alongside Spurrier’s, Petrino’s and Kelly’s? Sure. But if there were ever a perfect pro gig for a college coaching legend with celebrated Florida roots, it’s this one. 

     

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.



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NCIS: New Orleans season 7 episode 7 video: Rita’s new gig

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Pride and RitaNCIS: New Orleans season 7 episode 7 is poised to arrive on CBS this Sunday, and it’s feeling more and more like Rita is settled in the city. Based on the sneak peek below, she’s busier than she’s ever been, even if she doesn’t have a full-time position with a law firm as of yet.

This sneak preview features Pride and Rita together in the morning, and it’s clear that the latter isn’t exactly running on a ton of sleep. She went to bed late, she got up early, and she is actively working alongside the ACLU. It’s clearly time-consuming, and Pride does wonder why in the world she isn’t getting enough official offers yet. We do think that this is coming, but there is something intriguing about the position Rita has at present. She has a real opportunity here to dive head-first into some important, timely cases featuring clients that wouldn’t be able to find help in any other way. She loves it, and that is perhaps the most important thing.

While we know that Pride would love to spend as much time as possible with Rita within this episode, we know that he is going to have his hands full. Over the course of this hour, we’ll be seeing him work with his team to determine what happened to a Navy therapist, someone who was murdered under strange circumstances. She was also someone who was “working around the system” in order to get justice for victims of sexual assault. Will NCIS learn about this case through Rita? Because of the exploration of the justice system, we wouldn’t be surprised if this storyline links what she’s doing with Pride and the rest of the team.

Oh, and here’s a reminder that this episode is going to be a two-parter. No matter what happens, it’s going to carry over to whenever the show returns with new episodes.

Related News Be sure to get some more news on NCIS: New Orleans and what’s ahead tomorrow

What do you want to see on NCIS: New Orleans season 7 episode 7?

Be sure to let us know right now in the attached comments! Meanwhile, remember to stick around in the event you want some other news when it comes to the series. (Photo: CBS.)


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How to Build a Photo Scanning and Digitizing Side Gig | Pennyhoarder

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As simple as it sounds — and actually is — most people are overwhelmed by the thought of taking hundreds or even thousands of photos and organizing them into searchable, digital files.

Then there are the videos filmed on various versions of clunky cameras over the decades.

Perhaps the most daunting version of unorganized photographic memories are slides. Once the butt of so many jokes about boring dinner parties, now they are covered in dust with no hope of ever seeing the light of a projector again.

Well, anyone armed with a $229 scanner and a computer can make searchable digital files of photos and slides. To turn videos into digital files, it takes the original camera they were filmed with or a VCR, an $87 adapter and a computer.

Here’s how to make photo scanning and digitizing your new side hustle.

Five years ago, professional photo curator Sabrina Hughes decided she could make a business out of helping people organize their photos, videos and slides. Her company, PhotoXO, has a compelling slogan: “Show your photos the love they deserve.”

Her years as a photographer, plus a graduate degree in art history and experience as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla., combine to make her an astute photo archivist. But all of this expertise and experience is not required.

“There’s a certain point when I’m not doing anything you can’t figure out on your own,” she said. “A college student or really anyone could do this to make extra money.”

Hughes offers a self-paced online class called Disaster to Done for $297, which includes lifetime access to course materials. But she’s also sharing her tips with The Penny Hoarder.

Get the Right Equipment

  • Scanner. There are hundreds of scanners out there, but she prefers the Epson v600, which sells for $229.
  • Video adapter. Hughes uses the Elgato Video Capture for digitizing VHS tapes. It can be bought online for $87.
  • Storage. “When I first started out, I was giving everything back on hard drives,” Hughes said. “I was trying to get away from DVDs, since most computers don’t even play those anymore.” She then offered flash drives filled with the photos. Though they are also becoming less common, this is still probably the best tool for beginners. Hughes now uploads everything to her website, which offers permanent storage.
  • Software. Hughes uses Adobe Lightroom ($119), which enables her to label photos so they can be searched and has photo editing functions. Software isn’t required to organize unlabeled photos into folders, however.

Develop and Perfect Your Process

The first step to starting your photo scanning business is setting aside a space in your home. It can be as small as a corner of your bedroom or a desktop if an actual office or spare room isn’t possible.

Next, create a storage system for clients’ photos and video tapes while your work is in progress. Of course clear boxes that stack are great, but they come with a cost. Cardboard shipping boxes work just as well. Place white adhesive labels on the ends with the name of the client and the date the work started. You can place new labels over these when one project is done and the next client’s photos go into the boxes.

To digitize photos and slides, scan each one with the scanner to upload it to your computer. Make files for certain years or topics such as “1970s beach trips” or “kids’ birthday parties.” Drag and drop the photos into the appropriate file.

For videos, they have to be played the whole way through on the camera that originally filmed them and the adapter will transport the movies to a computer. If you don’t have the camera, you can play them on a VCR connected to the computer with the adapter.

Warn your clients that digitized videos won’t look so great on a TV, especially if it’s high definition, because the videos were filmed with lower resolution. They look best viewed on a phone or a computer screen.

You may have to limit the number of photos to digitize if the client wants to save on time and your fee. If the photos are organized in albums, ask the client to mark which ones to exclude with sticky-notes. If they are loose in boxes, suggest you select which ones to use.

“Sometimes it’s easier for a third party to make the decisions in narrowing things down,” Hughes said. You can pick what you think is the best of the three or four repetitive photos.

To organize and select from loose photos overflowing shoe boxes or laundry baskets, Hughes hand sorts them into piles based on the clothes people are wearing, the backgrounds and the time of year.

You can offer photo editing if it’s something you can handle. Hughes uses a very simple process in Adobe Photoshop. “You can also do it as you are scanning them,” she said. Adding, that many scanners have color correction options.

Deciding What to Charge

It’s smart to charge by the hour when you start out, and give an estimate of how long the project will take.

Determine ahead of time how many photos you can scan in an hour. If you are sorting and scanning, that may be harder to estimate, but it probably adds another 30 minutes onto each hour of scanning. Say you can scan 40 photos an hour, then it would take you five hours to digitize 200 photos that don’t require sorting.

A high schooler or college student might charge $30 to $50 an hour, or approximately $150 to $250 for 200 photos. Allow an extra hour for computer glitches, labeling files and calling the client with questions.

Hughes started out charging by the hour, but found clients were spending so much time “pre-organizing” their photos themselves to save money, it would take them six months or more before they were finally ready for her to start archiving. So she switched to a flat fee of $2,222 for unlimited archiving of slides, photos or videos. To do all three formats, she charges $7,777. She also offers small projects a-la-carte based on the amount of work.

How to Attract Clients

You might have to offer to digitize photos for one or two friends at no cost first to get an idea of how long the process takes and what you will charge.

Then spread the word on social media. Give an estimated price of how many photos you can do for a certain price. Ask your early clients to share something about how wonderful it feels to finally have photos organized and saved forever.

Digitized photos make a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas gift. Promote your business online and in emails during these times and throughout the year.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.

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