Posted by: Mark | May 11, 2009

Life After the New York Times

My students and I are in a front-page New York Times story in today’s edition.


Let me explain a bit. There’s this viral video out there called “The Story of Stuff,” put together by Annie Leonard. We watched it in my Global Issues class last fall, and made a youtube video response to her video. Annie Leonard saw the video response, contacted me, and ended up spending an hour in my apartment meeting my students and answering their questions.

So then, when Leslie Kaufman, a reporter for the New York Times, approached Annie Leonard about doing an article on the Story of Stuff, and how it has been used in schools, she gave Leslie my contact info. The rest can be read in Leslie’s article here.

It’s currently the #1 “Most Emailed” story at


So the question is, where do I go from here?

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I think I need to start. Because then I can go to Starbucks and very casually leaf through the paper and just happen to say aloud “oh wow, check it out, I’m in today’s New York Times.” And while that may only work today, I can still go back for the next few days in the hopes that the article generates some letters to the editor, or even just share a few laughs and maybe sign a few papers from people who have shown up in the hopes that I would return to the same coffee shop, same time. I can’t decide. Should I be a more hard-to-get celebrity, or just throw myself out there for public consumption? Maybe from there I can work out a deal with the Starbucks guys, you know, like an “I was in the New York Times” discount. It only seems fair.

I think a reasonable next step is that at my school, they should probably give me a premiere parking spot, reserved for me, with the placard saying “For the Teacher who was Most Recently in the New York Times, and not just that, but in a story that was on the Front Page and was Most Emailed.” It’d have to be a pretty big placard, but I think they can handle it.

I think that I have a good month of being able to use the saying “Sheesh, I can get in the New York Times, but I can’t……[fill in the blank], what is this world coming to?” For example, I can get in the New York Times but I can’t get a quality sandwich, I can get in the New York Times but I can’t get this stain out of these pants, I can get in the New York Times but I can’t push this baby out of the way, etc etc.

I think I’ll call up Thomas Friedman, I’m sure he’s eager to meet me and chat about our shared experiences of being in the New York Times. Ok, what the hell, I’ll invite Obama to the meeting as well. I think he’s been in a story that was the Most Emailed a few times. I’d have to check though: can’t be bringing the wrong crowd to the tea party, where we’ll eat scones. And since I’m currently ahead of Paul Krugman on the Most Emailed list, he doesn’t get to come. He can sit at home by himself and remember his Nobel Prize to feel better.

I’m anticipating a slew of emails and calls from other news networks now. I am hoping that CNN might be able to video my class and then when reporting on the story, they will go to a huge interactive touch-screen board and monitor student interest (off the charts) and the awesomeness of my teaching (also through the roof), that sort of thing. Maybe I’ll even find myself getting the Colbert Bump.

In all seriousness, I joke about this because I’m obviously very excited–this is definitely a first–but this turned out to be just a matter of good timing. I learned about “The Story of Stuff” within its first week of being released, so by the time we posted our video online, it was still a relatively small video. It hadn’t yet been translated into various languages or gotten millions of views. So when Annie Leonard saw our video response, it was sort of like the first time she heard from the outside world and wanted further engagement about her topic. She was fired up, contacted us, and then met us. If this had happened a few months later, when she was already being interviewed on NPR and her video was racking up the hits, she probably wouldn’t have even seen our video in the first place. We got in early, and now we ended up getting featured in the New York Times. I’ve got my print copy that I’ll keep forever, but otherwise today’s just another day in the classroom.



  1. Glad to have found your blod via the NYT article. I would like to show my students the youtube video that your class created and the responses to it, as companions to Story of Stuff. Can you post links?

    Thanks very much.

  2. I found the links! For anyone else who is looking:

    video response from the Woodside Priory School’s Global Issues Class:

    video reponse from School of Natural Resources at Mendocino High School (shows what YOU can do):

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: