Allow Me To Introduce Myself…

Meghan Bowman circa 2010
Most days I can be found with a room-temperature coffee in one hand and a textbook in the other, while somehow managing a four-year-old crawling all over me. This is my life now. My name is Meghan Bowman, and I was born in St. Petersburg not too long ago (wink wink). At sixteen years old, I moved to Texas which led to a successful career in the world of dance, dancing professionally for the last twenty years. After getting married and having two children, my husband and I decided to be closer to family and moved back to Florida from Austin in 2019. When Covid-19 shut down my industry, I knew it was time to re-enroll into school and began taking classes at Hillsborough Community College. I still consider myself a dancer, but I am much more than that now, and many hours of therapy helped me get to that place. I love being an advocate and speaking my mind, and that is exactly what I intend to do on this blog. You may consider me funny, you may even consider me weird, but I just want to share my truth, however that looks.
 
Until we meet again.

Let’s be an Advocate

A story was released today by the Associated Press that I was interviewed for. A story that dives into the toxic culture surrounding dance competitions, and in this particular instance, the entire umbrella of Break The Floor Productions.

Instead of discussing the many problems within the dance world, and there are many, I believe it is time to use my voice to advocate for those who are not able to, advocate for marginalized groups and advocate for what is right.

As a sexual abuse survivor myself, I know what power comes with the opportunity to speak. I know what freedom comes from letting go of the past. For me, telling my story was an important first step in coping with 20-year-old trauma.

Please comment if you know of something happening that shouldn’t be. I’ll dive into it. With research, interviews, and lots of background work, I want to create a podcast that will bring these stories to life and allow survivors a platform to tell their stories.

It’s Tax Day

It’s Tax Day in the U.S. today. Tax professionals have come out and said if you haven’t filed your taxes by now, you should file an extension. Great advice to many Americans, but also somewhat bewildering to me. Why do people wait until the last minute? As someone who has paid taxes each year since 2003 or 2004, I’ve never waited until the last minute to get them done. I’d have all my tax documents from employers by mid-February, and then I’d file online. Each year I plan for my refund in March. Full transparency, I never had investment accounts or anything, just checking and savings accounts.

I’ve only ever been in a situation where I get money back on my taxes, so I’ve never had to “pay taxes.” I’ve filed them, but never paid into the system at tax time. Also, I always claim the lowest amount of deductions for the sole purpose of paying enough so I don’t owe anything. I am sure a lot of people are in different situations, and I think maybe those who get a refund probably file earlier (like me, and of course there are always exceptions). I also think maybe those who don’t get a refund, probably file later (like I would absolutely do if I owed anything) because they owe money.

All in all, there is no real proof of my theory. But it makes sense to me. Good luck with your taxes this year if you haven’t already filed. And if you have, huzzah!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

My Heart is in Radio

So many people say the medium of radio is dying. And it’s a shame. Because for the first time, I finally feel like I found exactly where I am supposed to be. For the first time, I have a sense of peace when getting ready for work. Although I love my music show, The Dorm Room (on Thursdays evenings from 6 to 8, 88.5 FM or wmnf.org), doing the news headlines has been exhilarating. I feel a fair amount of pressure to make sure the truth is told and proper attribution is given in each story, but mostly I feel an excitement gathering all the local stories to share in the mornings and one afternoon. One thing I am not accustomed to yet is the constant flow of news on my phone. I thought I read the news a lot before, but now, every single news release, police or fire report is sent to my phone immediately. It has been slightly difficult to compartmentalize the constant flow of news because sadly it is usually not good news. One thing I want to try to do as I make my way in this broadcast career is to continue this blog, or maybe start another, where I share positive news stories. Unfortunately, things are not always this cut and dry, but uplifting stories could make a huge difference in the mental psyche of many people.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The Slap of the Century

When Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face, the entire world stopped and said “what the…?” Well, more and more information is being released on the slap in question, that was filmed from multiple angles, and one particular Will Smith story is one I’d like to cover in my Newsy story.

According to this Newsy article, Will Smith was asked to leave the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood after slapping Chris Rock during the Oscars. He refused and went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. I’d like to reference multiple stories related to this event with Smith and Rock, and will probably embed a video to the slap as well (if it is still available).

I’d like to write this as a news feature. Finding all relevant news, I will do a summary of sorts of the whole event. Including comments, responses, apologies, and more. I may also add a timeline graphic as well to the story. I’ll mention that the award Smith won was for playing Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus Williams, who saw the slap in person. There is plenty of audio and video to use for this story.

Because it is considered a “pop culture” event, and because it is so recent, I think it is still relevant and will be entertaining to read.

NEWSY

When I hear the word “newsy,” the first thing I think of is a young Christian Bale in the Disney movie “Newsies.” But this website is no musical.

The website has anything and everything news you could find for free, 24/7. When I checked to see what the media bias is of the website, I was pleased to see AllSides reported that Newsy doesn’t “utilize the common types of media bias in its coverage.”

A news company that wants to offer “straightforward, opinion-free news options”… Who would have thought it possible??

Newsy’s mission is “to deliver context-driven, fact-based reporting at a time when America needs it most. To bring that mission to life, we’re building one of the largest newsgathering operations in the U.S. with journalists in 14 news bureaus spanning the country, strong partnerships with dozens of local and reporting from around the globe. Newsy’s reporters live in the communities they cover so we can tell the whole story and elevate voices from all across America.”

When you entire the site, the latest story is at the top and then more recent top stories below. They have stories from Newsy reporters, as well as AP and other highly respected news organizations. The menu bar at the top of the main page has five choices: News, Investigations, Documentaries, Shows and Schedule. There is a button that says “where to watch” that shows you the multiple ways you can connect and listen to live news.

Current news, deep investigations, in-depth cultural analyses, and so much more are offered on this site. In the Tampa-St. Pete-Sarasota area, you can listen anytime over the air to Newsy on WXPX 66.7. You also have the option to watch news 24/7 through streaming devices, video platforms, smart TVs, or on your mobile devices.

This is a website I’ve already bookmarked and plan on using again in the future as I look for reputable news sources.

Hyperlocal News Sites

Hyperlocal news sites are important for the future of news reporting. Many websites exist globally since hyperlocal news sites cover news important to neighborhoods or communities. In the Tampa Bay area alone I found Axios.com, tbnweekly.com, and tampafp.com.

Axios is a larger website but is offered in multiple cities across the United States. Tampa Bay is one of them. When you choose Tampa, you’ll see articles from local journalists about Tampa-specific news. Axios is set up like a blog post, each article has a main photo and the first 3-4 sentences of the article underneath. Below that, there is a link that says “go deeper (x minute read),” x being however many minutes editors think it would take to read the story.

Some have said it is the shorter attention spans of younger generations causing the change in news reporting. However, a Reuters article says it is more likely the younger generations have “adapted to quickly sorting through the information overload they receive on a daily basis.”

Both Tampa Bay Newspapers and the Tampa Free Press offers Tampa news but is divided into multiple communities and news type. There are more advertisements for small and/or local businesses, along with more ads bought. The layout is not as “pretty” as a site like the Huffington Post but offers a lot of information.

All the hyperlocal sites I saw have an opinion column but what is unclear is if all the journalists are professionals or citizens. One thing is certain, hyperlocal news sources give you more news about your community and help citizens to get more engaged in their neighborhoods. As usual though, with whatever news you encounter, do your due diligence and fact-check everything you read.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…

Especially these next few weeks while students work on their photojournalism projects. I am going to do my photo project on the Tampa Pride parade in the Historic Ybor District. I am planning on taking a lot of pictures of the floats, attendees, grand marshalls, and the booths provided during the festival as well. I am not sure where this story will lead, but I am assuming it will end up being about the parade itself and will showcase some of the more colorful and intricate floats, costumes, and more. I am excited about this event, but there is quite a bit of research to be done prior. I’ll need to research the exact path of the parade, and I may go to the location beforehand to see where the best spots are for photos. I’ll also need to find out all the vendors who will be there and all of the businesses or people who have floats. I think this will be one of those stories that tells itself, as long as I am able to get enough pictures. Here is hoping that my pictures will be worth a thousand words or more.

Backgrounder of Gasparilla Music Festival 2022

Volunteering at the festival in the beer tent this year was exciting. I had the opportunity to see the festival get set up and talk to a few roadies about their experiences with GMF as well. With this next story, I want to describe the background of the festival and my first-hand experience as an attendee this year. Describe in detail some of the funny things I saw and heard, mishaps and mistakes, and the overall vibe of my experience.

Unbelievably, I was able to find street parking right next to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa on Friday afternoon. Walking down Ashley Street toward the festival, all you could see was the top of the main stage above the chainlink fences interlaced with green tarps surrounding the area. Unsure of where to check-in, I saw a large opening in the fence and meandered into the festival. No one asked for my ticket or credentials, all of the roadies were running around doing last-minute tasks, and some of the bands were still sound checking on the stage. There was an air of excitement and disorganization.

The festival this year housed 4 stages, over 40 bands, a plethora of vendor booths, and enough alcohol for a small army. Stretching past Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park into Kiley Gardens Park, the Gasparilla Music Festival’s large space allowed for social distancing, although no one seemed too concerned with Covid. The website stated Covid protocols, but not once was I asked for my identification, let alone my vaccination status. Tonight (Sunday) will mark the end of GMF’s 11th festival in Tampa. As bands come and go, one thing remains the same, people love seeing live music. For many, myself included, this was their first concert since Covid.

Grouplove playing Friday night on the J. W. Marriott Stage

Preparation is Key

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin said this well-known quote, and it is something I have tried my best to live by. Does it always work out? No. But in this case, it did.

Carrie West and I spoke last Monday about Tampa Pride. For over an hour we went through his history with the event, some current legislation making it harder on the LGBT, and about the Haus of Tampa! Starting with just a simple google search, I fell into a rabbit hole of all the amazing things West has done for the Tampa Bay area. I even got a wonderful anecdotal story about how he came to Tampa, but you’ll have to wait for the main story to hear about that.

The most obvious places to start were at the Tampa Pride website, and then I researched the history of Pride in Tampa (and in general) to give me some background on the event.

Overall, our time together went very well. However, I believe I came in with too many questions. I was almost over-prepared if you can believe it. West naturally led the conversation and I just took a deep breath when I was unsure where to go next. With anything, I believe the more interviews I do, the better they will get.