Special Report

September 26, 2008 - Leave a Response

Did you catch last night’s special report on the refugee family we profiled?

If so, you might enjoy reading my producer, Michael, notes.’

Here they are.

Existing almost completely under the radar in this, and most other major cities, refugees are largely misunderstood, if even acknowledged.


However, when I initially pitched this story that would later inspire the News 5 report, this premise was not the basis for the article. Nor was the lede which would connect the two reports: that while generations of people have come to the U.S. for better opportunities, these people — refugees — were coming because their lives seriously threatened by their own government.


In fact, the idea seemingly cultivated itself — as it often does — through a series of discussions with a local family who sponsors several Barundian (Africa) refugees, and a crime that came over the scanners while I was working the newsdesk one day here at the station: a man who had robbed at least one refugee in Cincinnati, having followed him home on the bus, was finally caught in Detroit for a different crime. An affiliated station from the Motor City called down here to let us know, in case we wanted to follow-up on the story. I happened to be here to recieve that call; the dots began to connect.


I began to piece together a possible story, making a few calls to Catholic Social Services. Perhaps this was common, people who had a rough grasp of the English language, and who came from a country where their police were more corrupt than anyone else… perhaps they were being terrorized — as this man had been — and were afraid to say anything to officials, though they were now in the states.


Happily, this turned out to be the exception, in the experience of the refugees I have since interviewed. At least the robbery part.


But what I began to see was a group of people, severely dedicated to hard work, family, and freedom — the brick and mortar of what Americans claim as somewhat of an underlying national ethos.


And of course, as Sandra Ali reports for News 5, we see the struggles that families and individuals like these have to go through in such a short amount of time. Though we weren’t able to get into it here because of time constraints, I was able to venture into the addition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the overall landscape of many refugees lives (many have been witness to gruesome violence and death first hand) which they have to essentially forget about as they establish themselves State side.


The Sapkota family came to us by chance. We had been with them over a month, from the moment they wandered off of the plane at CVG. We had a general background, but no clue how many families we would have to meet in order to find a story that was palatable for television, or who would even want to be recorded. Not only were they extraordinarily photogenic, but they were more than willing to unveil their experience, though it sometimes meant reliving trauma.


When Sandra and I got together to write the story, we led with an essencially timeless introduction. But this narrative could have started with various topical overtures had it been written or shot at any time in the last few years. If it were done over a year ago, it might have begun, “While an intense immigration debate rages on Capitol Hill…” or even locally juxtaposed with the Butler County bar sign declaring proprietors must speak English. But by chance, the final interview was shot on the heels of the most recent tri-state event that left millions without power. In an ironic twist, the 13 Sapkotas, fresh from a camp near Pakistan and India, having been Queen City residents for just over a few weeks, if for only a moment, were perhaps the most adept Cincinnatians.


— Michael D. Altman produced this News 5 special report


Michael D. Altman
Assignment Editor
WLWT-TV, News 5
1700 Young St.
Cincinnati, Ohio

Anniversary Surprise!

September 24, 2008 - One Response

Hi Everybody!  How are you?  Hope you’re doing well.

We celebrated our second anniversary Saturday!  It was a blast!

My hubby and I had two gift certificates for massages.  The massages were the BEST!  Ahhhh!  So relaxing.  In fact we were so relaxed afterwards that I almost fell asleep when we got home at 6:30 Saturday night.  Talk about an early night!

We enjoyed our massages and then went home to open gifts.  My husband bought us new bedsheets.  The sheets are so luxurious and soft.  He knew I wanted them and they fit perfectly with the cotton themed gifts you are supposed to buy for your second anniversary.

You know how much I talk about how I love to make things.  So I made my husband a cotton book for our anniversary.

We got married underneath this huge old oak tree and every year since our wedding day we go back to the same tree and snap a quick picture underneath it. 

So I made him a book, a cotton album,  with each picture of us underneath the tree starting in 2006, then 2007, then 2008.  We are standing in the exact same spot on the same day year after year.  It’s amazing to see how we’ve changed and how the tree has changed too! 

The front of the book is etched with the words “Our Tree.”  It’s very special.  He was so touched.  I love gifts from the heart that you can make with your own two hands like that.  It beats anything you can ever buy at the store.  

Hope you are having a great week!

Check back tomorrow, I’ll have an interesting post to share with you!


Newlywed No More

September 17, 2008 - 2 Responses

Say it ain’t so.  I looked it up and apparently after two years of marriage you are technically no longer considered a “newlywed” anymore.

So here I am at work on my second wedding anniversary and my newlywed status runs out tonight. 

It’s so crazy.  First you’re engaged and you’re a bride to be.  That is so much fun.  Then you’re a bride.  A blast!  Then you’re a newlywed and that’s wonderful!  Then the titles seem to just go away. 

My hubby and I decided to celebrate our anniversary Saturday since we are both working today. 

We don’t have any major plans, we are just going to treat ourselves to massages Saturday afternoon and then exchange our small gifts. 

We decided not to go overboard.  Second year anniversary gifts are supposed to be cotton.  I made my husband a little gift that I’m planning to give him Saturday. 

He broke the rules a little though.  Today as we were heading out the door to go to work, I found a wrapped present and a card on the kitchen table.  How sweet!

He bought me the cutest pajamas!  Adorable.  They are pink with little pinstripes. 

Then I got another card in my car when I got to work. 

I know you’ll think this is totally sappy.  We got married underneath this big maple tree at Ivy Hills.  That’s where our outdoor ceremony was.  Every year we have gone back on the same day, September 17th, and snapped a photo of ourselves underneath the tree.  So now it’s become a tradition.  We did that today and that was really wonderful.

So even though we had to work today we at least had that little sweet celebration all to ourselves. 

I’ll have to tell you next week what I ended up making for my husband for his gift —-because it’s a surprise!





September 17, 2008 - Leave a Response

If you think life is glamorous in local news, think again.

This is a little of how my day went yesterday…

I walked into the station when I got word that in twenty minutes I would be interviewing Senator Barack Obama.  Yep, twenty minutes.

How do you prepare to interview a presidential candidate in twenty minutes?

And honestly, I didn’t even have my TV face makeup on yet.  So I quickly prepared as best as I can.  It’s not easy to do that when you haven’t had your first cup of coffee yet and you’ve just spent your morning picking up tree limbs in your yard.


Honestly, for a second I thought my head was going to roll off my body. 

But I just reminded myself to take a deep breath, put my lipstick on and go. 

That’s exactly what I did.  I took many deep breaths in fact.

I find that helps me whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and have a lot on my plate. 

I just try to breath deep and take it hour by hour.  I just try to tell myself to accomplish one thing at a time.

The interview went perfectly fine.  In fact we spend most of our time talking about the storm damage and the blackout. 

In fact, after it was all said and done, I realized it wasn’t a big deal after all.


Hold Onto Your Hats!

September 15, 2008 - Leave a Response

Wow!  Hopefully, you and your families survived the storm okay.  Were you dealing with major cleanup and power outages?

My husband and I lost power for about 12 hours or so yesterday.  The wind was howling so loud I was even a bit shaken up.  Our house backs up to the woods so I just watched the trees sway back and forth and waited for one to come crashing down.

We had some minor damage but nothing too bad.  It took us about two hours today to clean up all the branches and leaves.  Thank Goodness no one in our neighborhood was hurt.

I think we’ll all feel so much better when this crisis is over.

By the way, my husband and I had a date night planned for last night.  We still went out and had a blast despite everything going on with this crazy storm!

We went to Oceanaire downtown and loved it!  Then walked to the Aronoff for the Alicia Keys concert.  I had to pull my hair into a little ponytail since I couldn’t get by blow dryer or flatiron to work!  Yep!  So much for trying to look beautiful for my husband.  Instead, I had a rubber band in my hair and had to aplly my makeup on sitting near a window so I could see.

Oh well!  We still had a blast!  The concert was fantastic and it was so much fun getting out and enjoying the city.  I love date night! 

Stay safe in this storm and I’ll see you tonight on the news.


I’m No Rachel Ray!

September 11, 2008 - Leave a Response

Trust me when I tell you I can’t cook.  I can’t bake either.  That’s why it was really funny when one of my recipes (for hash brown casserole) was picked for a new cookbook.

The folks who run a soup kitchen, Our Daily Bread,  in Over The Rhine put together a cookbook for charity and unveiled the book last night!

They asked me to emcee their big launch party at Xavier and I was so happy to help them celebrate!

My recipe that’s in the book is actually really yummy.  I think I’ve made it twice.  Once for Mother’s Day brunch and then again for my friend’s Brunch party. 

It’s totally bad for you…loaded with calories and fat.  The casserole itself is loaded with different things like potatoes, onions, condensed chicken soup…but the best part is the topping which is a cornflake mixture.  It just makes the whole thing yummy and crunchy which is why I think people like it so much. 

If you want the recipe, email me sandraali@wlwt.com,  and I’d be happy to email it you!

For the longest time my family teased me that I didn’t know how to boil water or even find our kitchen.  They were right!  One year I tried to make Thanksgiving Dinner and it wasn’t ready until after midnight.  I totally forgot that I was supposed to thaw out the Turkey! 

I’ve gotten a little better since then. 

Oh, I almost forgot, here’s a picture from last night’s event when I helped Our Daily Bread as their emcee.

Have a great night!

Elbow Grease

September 9, 2008 - Leave a Response

I hope you all had a great weekend.  My husband and I enjoyed our first full weekend off together in almost two months this past weekend.  We had such a wonderful time with family.

On Saturday we drove to my husband’s parents lake house they have in Preble County.  It’s so quiet and so peaceful it’s almost impossible NOT to relax while you’re there.  My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, and both of my nieces came up!

My Father in law recently restored the family’s boat and we were able to take it around the lake.  You should have seen how much fun my nieces had!  They are two and three years old and they are at that stage where they have absolutely no fear.  You know what I’m talking about?

My God daughter Ellie in fact kept trying to jump off the boat and into the lake!  She’s a little pistol!  She starts swimming lessons here very soon and she kept talking about how much she can’t wait to swim like Michael Phelps.  I thought it was hysterical!

Anyway, my Father in Law with the help of a friend of his worked his fingers to the bone basically rebuilding this entire boat by hand!  Can you imagine?  He showed us the “before” pictures and its hard to believe that it’s even the same boat!  It’s taken him more than a month to work on it.  But if you ask me it was so well worth it!  

Even our two dogs Oliver and Lulu loved being on it.  

That’s how we spent all day Saturday.  I think it’s the first time I’ve gotten any sun this whole Summer.  

On Sunday we went to Mass then went back on the boat for a bit before heading back home.  The weekend was absolutely perfect.  The only downside to weekends like that one is that you can’t ever get anything done around the house.  By the time we got back home Sunday night it was time for bed.  That means we didn’t do any laundry or buy groceries.  

So tonight after the 6 o’clock news I ran home and threw in a couple of loads of laundry then raced back!  Sometimes you just have to find pockets of time to get things done.  I managed to unload and reload the dishwasher, walk the dogs, feed them, fold a load of laundry, throw in a load of laundry and clean the kitchen!  Now I just need to find a way to stay awake for the Eleven 0’clock news.  If I look tired tonight, you’ll know why.

Have a great night!



September 8, 2008 - Leave a Response

Do you ever feel this way about your house…

Like maybe you’ll never be able to really get it the exact way you want it to look?

I have lived in apartments ever since I’ve been out on my own. 

You know how that is…you’re young and single with no plans to settle down anywhere in particular so you rent apartments along the way.  But then one day it’s time to settle down and actually own a home and be a grown up!

My hubby and I just celebrated three years in our home this past Labor Day weekend.  Yes, I know if you do the math that means we lived together for a year before we actually got married.  Trust me our mothers weren’t too happy about it either. 

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve run into this situation before where you find a house that you love and figure it doesn’t need much attention because its move in ready.  But then once you get in there you realize there’s so much more you want to do to it and change around.  Yep.  Welcome to my world.  

My husband and I had both moved around so much too that we never even bought real furniture until now.  Earlier this year we declared 2008 the “Year of the House.”  We said no matter what we were going to finish making our “house” a “home.”  Well, so far we have a good start, but we are nowhere close to doing what we want to do to be finished in time.

As far as the construction chaos goes that will continue I think for many months to come. 

Our kitchen walls still have holes in them from late this summer when we finally finished our kitchen and every morning bright and early our lovely crew arrives to work on our back deck. 

We are building a deck onto the back of our house so that we can finally enjoy our backyard. 

Our home is built on a hill in a wooded area so the only way to walk out of our first story is to walk onto a deck. 

Our crew (Donnie, Bill, and Ryan) arrive faithfully every morning. 

So every morning I wake up to the melodious sounds of hammers, saws, and their boom box!  But its okay I think they might almost be finished.  At this point I don’t think I’m going to know what to do when they do leave?  They’ve become like family.  They have been working at our house for 5 weeks now. 

I don’t even know what it’s like anymore to have quiet mornings.  They’ve been around so long, even our dogs are getting used to them.  And that says a lot.  Hope you had a good weekend!  I’ll see you tonight on the news!      

Sarah Who?

September 4, 2008 - 4 Responses

Politics aside, seriously what do you think of Sarah Palin?

I know so many of you have an opinion.  What do you think?

I say regardless of whatever your party affiliation might be or who you might support, this has been a fascinating week and interesting turn of events.

Last Friday Sarah Palin was relatively unknown.  Now she’s been thrust into the national spotlight!  In just one week she has become both a national figure and a household name. 

I had only heard about Sarah Palin once before last Friday.  Many months ago I had read an article about her in Vogue magazine, but that’s about it.

We had a News 5 panel discussion here last night at the station and it was so fascinating to hear what people think of her!  I’m not sure if you caught that segment of our newscast but all the different opinions were so interesting.  We invited ten people into our discussion to watch her speech and tell us what they thought and they all had extremely different takes on her and what she had to say.

So what do you think?  I’d love to hear your comments and opinions and I know you have them so don’t be shy and speak up!  This is your chance.  I’ll post your comments here. 

By the way, I’m back to bloggin’ finally!  I have had so many technical problems with my computer here at my desk and I haven’t been getting my emails, comments from you, or been able to blog for the longest time!  Sorry. 

Now that I’ve made it through the Olympics and Fireworks I am SO ready to get my life back.  My husband and I are getting ready to celebrate our 2nd Wedding Anniversary.  I can’t believe how times flies. 

This anniversary is the “cotton” anniversary as far as gifts go and I have some tricks up my sleeve.  I am so excited I can’t wait.  I’ve been so busy here at News 5 for the last several weeks that it almost crept up on me and now it’s almost here.  since my gifts are surprises I can’t quite share them with you here (because then my hubby will know!) and so I’ll have to keep them quiet for now!

By the way as the date gets closer you’ll have to tell me if you want to see some of our wedding pictures.  I have some of them on my computer that I can share with you guys if you’d like.  Just let me know!


Everyday Heroes

August 19, 2008 - Leave a Response

How many times do you find yourself watching our news casts and feeling a little depressed afterwards?  It’s not a secret at all.  I hear that from you every single day.  Either I’ll get an email or phone call, or just when I meet you out at the grocery store or mall…people always stop and tell me how sad the news always is.  They say they stop tuning in or try to watch less because we never talk about anything positive. 

Well, a few months ago we came up with the idea of doing feature stories to introduce you to people in your community who are “everyday heroes.”  Women specifically who are making a difference in the lives of others!  I don’t know what you think, but I love it! 

I agree that we don’t always share positive stories with you only the negative.  And it’s a shame because there are so many wonderfully positive, inspiring, and uplifting stories out there.  You just don’t hear about them.  I’m actually very lucky that my bosses are letting me do these stories. 

Tonight (after the Olympics) you’ll see the story of Elyse Jarard.  She is so COOL!  She turned 40 last year and lost two friends to Ovarian Cancer.  She decided instead of celebrating her 40th with some big birthday party that she would do something to fight cancer.  She started a triathlon for women, “Fit To Fight Ovarian Cancer.”  And she was so successful!  How incredible is that?  How many times do you say you want to do something to help a certain cause or group and yet we never do.  Well she really rolled up her sleeves and did it!  They raised a ton of money too. 

This story is especially near and dear to my heart because my mother-in law is an ovarian cancer survivor.  I hope you like the series of positive stories and give me your feedback.  I am really excited to hear what you think.  By the way if you want more info about the triathlon or maybe you are thinking of signing up for next year, or volunteering, email me directly and I’ll get you all squared away!  sandraali@wlwt.com