Hearst National Multimedia Championships

Added on by Carolyn Van Houten.

For the first week in June, I ran around Washington, D.C. answering the question, "Who or what runs D.C.?" for the Hearst Journalism Awards National Multimedia Championship.  We were given the prompt a week ahead of time, so that we could start brainstorming and trying to solidify our story ideas prior to landing in the city the next Monday. 

Upon arrival and orientation, we had 48 hours to finalize, shoot and edit a 2-5 minute video that answered our prompt in some creative way.  I had an idea to visualize the city through the voice of a spoken word poet.  After some research, I found out that Twain would be performing a comedic love poem to D.C. during Open Mic Night at Busboys and Poets.  Open Mic Night happened to be on the first full night in my 48 hour period, so when I contacted Twain, he sent me a link to a video of him performing the D.C. poem he was to do that Tuesday evening.  After making a list of all of the places and people that he referenced, I bought a map of the city and made a timetable of where the light would be, when certain types of people (tourists, commuters, etc.) would be where and where each place was in relation to each other.  I followed my shooting schedule up until Tuesday night, still completely unsure if this crazy idea would even remotely work.  As soon as I met Twain, he was incredibly helpful and wonderful.  It turned out that he was not only performing in, but also hosting Open Mic Night, so the sold out crowd got a taste of his fantastic personality. 

This is the finalized piece I turned in.  Although it was an honor to have won, the best parts of it for me were meeting all of the people who kindly let me shoot them for the piece and establishing friendships with all of the other contestants.  If you get the chance, you should definitely check out the other contestants' beautiful pieces.  Despite the brevity of the time period, every one of my friends made beautiful work. 


Twain Dooley performed “A Love Poem to D.C.” during Open Mic Night at Busboys and Poets on Tuesday evening.   Of the poem’s inspiration, Twain said, “When I wrote the poem, I was working in Fairfax, VA.  I was coming across the bridge and seeing the monuments and just thinking how I have a love/hate relationship with the place I grew up—how pretty it is, how dysfunctional parts of it are, and how wonderful it is—so all of those elements mashed together and I just wrote my love poem to D.C.  Parts of it are old, like the crack-smoking mayor, but the essence of it still holds true.”

The people of D.C.’s passion and love for the city shape the city’s character, urban landscape and atmosphere.  Through visualizing the people, places and experiences that Twain mentions in his poem, I hoped to show how that love for both the charming and frustrating parts of the city drive D.C. forward, while maintaining its sense of history and personality. 

Twain Dooley is a first generation American who was born and raised in Washington, DC.  After serving on active duty in Desert Storm, he returned home and began to perform his poetry for various audiences and in competitions.  He attributes his linguistic abilities to his experiences talking himself into and out of inner-city challenges growing up.