All posts by craigduff

Video journalist, filmmaker and professor of journalism at The Medill School at Northwestern University

Medill reporters celebrate #BourdainDay with video stories from Buenos Aires

A reporting trip to Argentina results in stories inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s television work

By Craig Duff
Medill Journalism Professor

Every year, graduate journalism students at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University pause their regular studies for a mid-winter trip. In a program called Medill Explores, students spent a week in February visiting sites and networking in U.S. cities and practiced global reporting and experiential learning in locations like Tokyo, Johannesburg, San Juan and Buenos Aires.

When planning the Buenos Aires trip for our video journalism cohort, I wanted to find a way to jolt students into a more creative storytelling mode, to challenge them to think outside of the conventional broadcast reporting they were studying in their foundational courses. As I researched options, I re-watched the Buenos Aires episode of the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown series on CNN. Bourdain’s death by his own hand last June was on the minds of many of us who were fans of his and the aesthetically rich series he hosted.

Miley Sun (L) and Valerie Chen record video in Buenos Aires for a Medill Explores class assignment. (Photo by Sally Ryan)

Parts Unknown found a way to discuss culture, politics and the reality on the ground by Bourdain breaking bread and chatting with real people at dinner tables around the globe. The writing had a unique voice; the production of the series was simply exquisite;  the cinematography often evoked an auteur’s vision (for the Buenos Aires episode, the look and feel was an homage to visionary Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s “Happy Together,” most of which takes place in the Argentinian capital).

My co-instructor, photographer Sally Ryan, and I urged students to think cinematically as they reported, seeking the most interesting people who could help us see the issues confronting Porteños (as the people of Buenos Aires are called) in vivid and lively ways. Much like the producers at Zero Point Zero — the team behind every Bourdain series since his first, A Cook’s Tour, in the early 2000s — sought to do in each episode of Parts Unknown. (To see a video about our student’s efforts click the video player above.) Continue reading

Food offers a bridge between distant cultures in Buenos Aires’ Chinatown

By Valerie Shuang Chen, Shijia (Miley) Sun and Tianqi Gou
Medill Reports


Argentina is the furthest country in the world away from China, and the differences are immediately noticeable to a Chinese reporter. From vibrant street murals, to stifling heat, the city combines faded European architecture with Latin passion.

But we found home here in Chinatown.

Chinese immigrants first moved to this part of the city in the 1980s. It’s kind of hard to imagine how they first settled down, in a faraway country where meat is the only meal, dinner starts at nine, and everyone around you is speaking Spanish. But they found their way to tantalize the Argentine’s taste buds with supermarkets and restaurants.

In this video story, Tianqi Gou meets Karina Gao, who immigrated to Argentina at the age of nine. She runs her own blog called Palitos de Bambu, or bamboo shoots.  It features Argentinian and Chinese recipes.

Gao is known to many here for her appearances on a cooking reality show. Her background and expertise help her demonstrate and write about the cuisines of both cultures.

Tianqi also visits Todos Contentos, one of the oldest restaurants in Buenos Aires’ Chinatown. It opened in 1986 and restaurateur Yie Pi Sia is an institution in the neighborhood.

In the conversations, we see how food, carrying the flavor of our memories and the taste of home, is the best pill to cure homesickness and a great way to build culinary connections between divergent cultures.

Photo at top: Blogger, food writer and television personality Karina Gao shops at one of the oldest supermarkets in Chinatown in Buenos Aires on February 13, 2019 (Valerie Chen and Miley Sun/MEDILL)

Organizers prepare, but won’t predict turnout for Women’s March Chicago

By Cade Shultice

After last year’s unprecedented turnout, organizers for Women’s March Chicago will not put an estimate on the number of attendees expected at this year’s march on Saturday. The 2017 march, held a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, exceeded expectations when an estimated 250,000 people showed up, compared to the expected 50,000.

Organizers say that based on last year’s experience, there is no good way to predict attendance with accuracy. Despite uncertainty regarding crowd size, Women’s March Chicago is still optimistic for  healthy attendance based on support through social media.

Photo at top: Fawzia Mirza, women’s rights activist and supporter of Women’s March Chicago, speaks at the organization’s press conference that was held Tuesday at City Hall. (Cade Shultice/MEDILL)

Oak Park Democrats host Women’s March prep party

By Hannah Wiley
Medill Reports

The Democratic Party of Oak Park hosted a sign-making party on Wednesday in preparation for Women’s March Chicago.

Photo at top: Diana Lauber, Myrna Lovejoy, Doreen Sterba-Dezur and Peggy McGrath wear hats knitted by Sterba-Dezur (Hannah Wiley/MEDILL)

Election Update: What happens after Election Day?

Reporter Carolyn Cakir talks with political reporter and Medill professor Peter Slevin about what the candidates do while they wait for the polls to close, and what is likely to happen tomorrow.

We will continue to file regular video updates throughout the evening.

Published at 7:50 p.m.

Election Update: The economy is a top issue for voters in Chicago’s western suburbs

In the second of our video updates on this Election Day, our reporters cover the working class voters in the western suburbs of Chicago, where the economy is on the top of their minds.

More updates will be posted throughout the day.

Published at 5:30 p.m. CT

How Chicago became the top “fair trade” city in the United States

By Megan Kramer

Rich Troche, manager of Everybody’s Coffee in Uptown, knows everything about the shop’s medium-roast “Coffee of the Month” – who roasted it, where it was grown, how it was processed and even what different processes do to the beans.

In March the featured coffee came from the San Ignacio farm in Peru and was roasted by the Metropolis Coffee Company in Chicago. The coffee has a tangy lemon undertone and is served in purple ceramic mugs.

Alternative rock plays unobtrusively throughout the large, open space at the cafe. Baristas serve specialty drinks to customers who are chatting or working on laptops amid stacks of books. To care for both its patrons and the farmers who grow the beans, Everybody’s Coffee serves fair trade and direct trade coffee from around the world.

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Of Coca-Cola, apples and freedom

As U.S.-Cuba relations undergo historic change, Cubans in Chicago tell their stories

By Patrícia Gomes

On a recent Friday night of single-digit temperatures in Chicago, the 90 Miles Cuban Café in Logan Square is in full swing. The waiters’ movement between the two dining rooms and kitchen seems like an uninterrupted dance: full trays in, empty trays out. The walls are filled with photos of Cuba and front pages of Cuban newspapers – both from a time before relations with the U.S. ground to a halt after revolution swept Communists into power on the island nation in 1959.

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