Group Reporting

Through internships and countless journalism courses, I have developed the skills and independence necessary to complete quality work by deadline on my own. I have also, however, demonstrated the ability to work and coordinate with a team in order to accomplish complex assignments. In an intense senior-level multimedia course entitled Journalism Portfolio, I honed my teamwork skills.

The following are group reporting assignments from that course.

Farms, businesses, and homes trying to stay afloat during Austin drought

By: Kelly Eisebarger, Kelly Fine, Reihaneh Hajibeigi and Shawna Reding

Through droughts and flooding, Mother Nature has had her share of fun with Austin over the past months. Although Lake Travis water levels are on the rise with recent rains, the drought that has claimed plenty of businesses, affected Austin farming and lowered property values all around still keeps the city from staying afloat.

The Lower Colorado River Authority‘s worries have only increased since the drought began taking a serious impact on the region three years ago, and according to Public Information Officer Clara Tuma, the recent rains haven’t changed the unfortunate situation much.

“Don’t be fooled by the green lawns in Austin, the drought continues,” Tuma said. “This isn’t the worst we have seen, but without more rain, it could very well become the worst.”


LCRA Map of Highland Lakes

The rain came in downstream of the Highland Lakes and made its way to the Colorado River, which flows down to Matagorda Bay and on to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the rain did not fall upstream enough to reach the Central Texas reservoirs of Lakes Travis and Buchanan.“A variety of people depend on the lakes,” Tuma said. “More than one million people depend on the lakes for drinking water, which is essential for life, but there’s also industry power plants that depend on the lakes to make electricity to cool our homes and keep hospitals running.”

At the November board meeting, the LCRA requested the state to approve emergency plans to stop sending water downstream to rice farmers in the coming year if reservoir lakes are less than 55 percent capacity by the beginning of March. TheTexas Commission on Environmental Quality, LCRA’s regulator which approves how water from Lake Travis and Buchannan is used, will meet in December to make a final decision on the future of water distribution…

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Stiletto Stampede: Stomping out breast cancer one heel at a time

Austin Nonprofit holds 100-meter high-heeled dash to raise funds and awareness about breast cancer.

By Shawna Reding, Mary Ellen Knewston, Rachel Marino and Rebecca Wright 

Ladies walk the Stiletto Stampede like a catwalk. Photo by Rebecca Wright

Ladies walk the Stiletto Stampede like a catwalk. Photo by Rebecca Wright

Austin, TX —200 people in high-heeled shoes teetered through a 100-yard dash Oct. 26, making a point beyond the spikes on their stilettos: Austin’s fifth annual Stiletto Stampede, benefiting the Seton Breast Care Center, got young people and families talking about breast health and cancer awareness.

Aimed at generating breast health awareness among a younger demographic, the unconventional 100-yard dash held in Triangle Park included heats for women, men, pets, survivors, strollers and a “boot scoot”. Through its registration fees, the Stiletto Stampede organization raised about $8,000 for the Seton Breast Care Center, due to open in early 2014.

Stiletto Stampede Co-Founder Michelle Patterson said she created the event, and the organization by the same name, to engage 18-39 year-olds. She said the age group typically detects breast cancer in the later, more life-threatening stages.

“If we’re going to be doing something for young folks, it’s gotta be different, maybe a little bit harebrained,” Patterson said. “A 100-yard dash in heels is maybe right up a young person’s alley”…

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Interview with a Vampire: The Vampire Court of Austin

By Emily Alleman, Frances Bello, Rachel Perlmutter and Shawna Reding

Among the many activities Austinites partake in during their spare time, Vampirism is gaining popularity after the second annual Austin Vampire Ball.

In the last two decades, vampire books and movies have become extremely popular. With the popularity, vampire culture has exploded, inspiring everything from role playing games to varied stories exploring different facets of the vampire myth.

However, the part of vampire culture that is rarely explored is those who have embraced the vampire name to describe themselves and what they believe. Many have formed “vampire courts” all over the country, including in Austin. October 19, the Vampire Court of Austin celebrated their one-year anniversary of being an official vampire court at the 2nd Annual Austin Vampire Ball.

Austinites gather at the disco-lit Elysium on October 19 for their 2nd annual Vampire Ball.

Austinites gather at the disco-lit Elysium on October 19 for their 2nd annual Vampire Ball. Photo by Emily Alleman.

The Vampire Court of Austin became an official vampire court a year ago when they traveled to New Orleans and were accepted by the vampires of the world as a true vampire court. The court was first started over two years ago when Logan South was elected the first King in more than 10 years. In the past year, the vampire court has continued to grow and helped to bring in even more people the vampire ball…

Barkitecture 2013: House hunting for hounds

 By Mary Ellen Knewston, Shawna Reding, Rebecca Wright and Rachel Marino 

A dog and owner try out one of the custom doghouses. Photo by Rebecca Wright

A dog and owner try out one of the custom doghouses. Photo by Rebecca Wright

For 14 teams of Austin builders and architects, there are no small design jobs–only small, four-legged inhabitants.

Each team designed and constructed a unique dog house for Barkitecture, Animal Lovers of Austin’s eighth annual contest and auction to benefit local animal welfare groups. Roughly 400 people attended the Sept. 28 event at Triangle park, its best turnout yet according to Animal Lovers of Austin Board Member Caroline Daigle. She said the nonprofit began hosting the event in 2007 to give local designers a way to place to put their skills to work supporting the city’s animal rescue community.

“We have so many rescues and animals in Austin,” Daigle said. “This a fun way to bring people together, have their dog come out, test all these houses and do something to help the rescue community.”

Animal Lovers Austin is still finalizing this year’s total amount raised. Daigle said the group handed out $18,000 in grants at their 2012 Barkitecture auction, a total she expects to exceed this year. Grants are distributed to five rescue organizations each year, qualified by an application and voting process. This year’s beneficiaries were the Meals on Wheels and More PALS program, Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Lil’ Paws, Don’t Bully Me and Pug Rescue of Austin.

A silent auction, raffle and the doghouse auction itself funded the grants. Each house opened for bidding at $250, and many spurred bidding wars resulting in much higher final price tags.

“People want to be called to make sure they’re still the high bidder,” Daigle said. “It can get out of control pretty quickly. They get really excited about the houses”…

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Austin’s Strut Your Mutt

By Shawna Reding, Frances Bello, Emily Alleman and Rachel Perlmutter

Saturday morning, Austin dogs of all shapes and sizes and their companions walked, or in this case strutted, to a canine-friendly festival at Mueller Lake Park to benefit homeless pets in Austin.

September 28 Best Friends Animal Society’s nationwide event “Strut Your Mutt” came to Austin. The 18th annual fund raising dog walk and festival raises money for local animal rescues and shelters across the United States…

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