Brief Fox 29 appearance discussing e-waste

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That’s the beautiful twin I call home in Frankford, in lower Northeast Philadelphia, behind me, and, yes, that’s a screen shot of my ugly mug on the last night’s Fox 29 10 o’clock news.

I was interviewed by John Atwater of Fox 29 for their followup to a PBS Frontline documentary on e-waste in developing nations. To show the piles of outdated technology that are scrapped by Western nations and shipped to be dumped in places like West Africa’s Ghana, the documentary shot footage of one, and found a computer from the School District of Philadelphia.

A Technically Philly reader spotted it and sent it our way, and we ran with it. Writing the first local story on the matter and then pushing on the district to announce an investigation. That last larger story got a fair amount of buzz on Philly social media circuits, and Fox 29 picked up on it from Twitter.

Now it’s in big media’s hands — until TPhilly can begin monetization and become big media, of course… or something like that. See the take on it from running on Technically Philly.

After the jump, check the video and my take on the experience.

‘Recycled’ Computers Found In Africa

Atwater, who is boyish and polite, e-mailed another TPhilly reporter, who forwarded my contact information to him at 3:30 p.m. yesterday. By 4:15, Atwater and I were on the phone. He asked me some questions and then requested an interview.

It felt like a good opportunity to put Technically Philly in the mainstream media for a different audience, so it felt like an easy yes, though I was careful to warn him my only real experience and knowledge with e-waste was the brief week and a half I spent reporting the school district story.

Before 5:30 p.m., he pulled up with a camera man at my corner of Frankford, much to the interest of my neighbors. During a few minutes of small talk, the camera was plopped on a tripod and away we went.

He asked me about e-waste, the school district’s involvement, the Ghanaian connection, my involvement, what Technically Philly was and ended with one question I think any interviewer ought to ask: do you have anything to add?

I reiterated that because so many middlemen are involved in shadowy technology recycling, any large institution in Philadelphia could have had its computer end up in Ghana. It doesn’t make the school district less responsible than anyone else, but it should be made clear that it wasn’t their purposeful wrongdoing.

Of course, that’s just the soundbite that made it in.

Thanks to Fox 29, John Atwater and the rest. As silly as it sounds, it’s very often, I think, a growing surge of smaller, localized stories on a controversy that builds to bigger stories and then, if ever, action may happen.

I was proud Technically Philly could be a very small part of trying to expose the dirty side of technology use — and do it with Frankford on display!

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