No More Empty Cups: Coffee, Culture and Community

No More Empty Cups is a small coffee shop just south of downtown, located on 10th Street in historic Little Italy, Omaha. The coffee shop—which is celebrating their two year anniversary this month—is part of No More Empty Pots, which is a food security non-profit based out of North Omaha.

They work with local growers and students, teaching them how to grow and cook, in an effort to help decrease food deserts in North Omaha and hopefully grow to encompass the whole entire Omaha area.

John Jelinek is the marketing manager of No More Empty Pots and also frequents the coffee shop for a good cup of joe.

“Ah, so No More Empty Cups supports that mission of No More Empty Pots. So any money that we make goes towards supporting the mission of No More Empty Pots,” said Jelinek.

No More Empty Pots has a strong community outreach providing training in commercial kitchens for people interested in entering the food industry. No More Empty Cups is another way for the mission of No More Empty Pots to be introduced to Omaha.

“And we have a community space here for people to use to maybe learn more about cooking and participating in events that we have,” said Jelinek.

They have a walking club as well as a book club that meets at the shop. They also have a local foods meet up where people get to learn more about farm-to-table and sample items made in the area or by Nebraska producers.

“But it’s also a way to learn about, you know, really what our mission is,” said Jelinek. “Just being part of the community, we have a lot of regulars who come in. It’s also neat that all of our employees, all of our baristas, myself—we live in the neighborhood. So, you get to know people who are walking around, you see them in the shop and it’s a good way to just be apart of the community.”

“We’re working with three providers. One is Archetype Coffee, which is the best coffee in Omaha. They provide our coffee for us. Our teas mostly come from The Tea Smith, which is a local organization. And then we’re working with a local urban farm called Benson Bounty and we’re going to be having some of their items for sale. They do a lot of herbal teas, syrups, that type of thing. And then we’re also working to grow the foods that we provide will be made by local producers,” said Jelinek.

No More Empty Cups is more than just a coffee shop. It’s a welcoming and inclusive community engagement space. It’s a place where coffee, culture and community join together.



In Lieu of the Gorsuch Assignment (Recaps): What’s Up With Small, Local Papers?

In lieu of the Gorsuch assignment, here are recaps on two recent articles focused on the current situation and future of small newspapers: 

Recap #1 on Tiny Iowa newspaper’s Pulitzer win is a reminder: There are fewer family-owned papers than ever before

In Kristen Hare’s piece on family owned papers, published recently on April 13, 2017, we’re reminded about the rarity of family-owned newspapers. Many small papers struggle to flourish in the current conditions of journalism. In the article, we see a lot of numbers. Lukas Alpert from The Wall Street Journal reported the following figures provided by Dirks, Van Essen & Murray—a merger and acquisition firm:

  • In the first quarter of 2017, five of the six newspaper sales were from a family-owned newspaper to a media group.
  • Only 15 percent of daily newspapers in the U.S. are independently owned.
  • In 1975, that number was 75 percent, down from 90 percent in 1900.
  • Only 10 cities are left with competing newspapers.

What’s important though, is that small family-owned papers can still do well if they work hard enough and are great journalists. The Storm Lake Times won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. The Storm Lake Times is a small paper in Storm Lake, Iowa that’s been around since 1990. Art Cullen, of the Storm Lake Times, won the award for his editorials that confronted Iowa’s most powerful agricultural interests including the Koch Brothers, Cargill and Monsanto, and their secret funding of the government defense of a big environmental lawsuit.

This just goes to show the underdogs and good guys (in journalism) can win big too. It also shows that investigative journalism at the local level can gain national attention and any good journalist no matter where from, has the capability to expose the truth—and even win highly esteemed awards while they are at it!

Recap #2 on Warren Buffett’s newspapers deploy familiar playbook as fortunes dim

In Corey Hutchinson’s piece, published recently on April 13, 2017, we learn that in early April nearly 300 jobs were cut at several local newspapers run by Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group. How are the layoffs going down? It’s not up to Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet who gets the cut. BH Media is leaving it up to the papers to decide who stays and goes.

What do the layoffs mean? The layoffs are due to decline in daily circulation at each newspaper from 2012 to 2016. For one paper, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, they admitted their struggles and long-term declines in print revenue and low digital advertising results. They ended up having to fire 33 full time employees.

According to the article, the overall fates of the small papers under BH Media are unclear.

It comes down to declining print readership (and subscriptions) and lack of ad revenue. The Press of Atlantic City, a paper apart of Berkshire Hathaway, shrank their staff and evolved into a more digital-centric newsroom, according to Hutchinson. That focus on digital was a good choice in 2013. They launched mobile apps, created a digital news team, redesigned its website and grew its video offerings.

This created a multimedia editor position, live-streamed events, launched podcasts and they partnered with a local university to create a news TV show. By the end of 2013, total page views on the paper’s website were 48.8 million. By the end of last year, that number reached 75 million, editor Kris Worrell tells CJR.

The paper still ended up having to lay off 12 employees—showcasing having a digital presence doesn’t mean immunity.

April 17, 2017 Lecture Recap: Writing, Reporting and Recording for KMTV

On Monday, April 17 Lindsey Theis and Mike Lucas visited our class to talk about what it is like in the field of reporting for local news. Theis is a reporter and fill-in anchor at KMTV. Lucas works with Theis as well. He’s a photojournalist (photo and video) and also a UNO grad.

Theis has been in the business for about 10 years. She graduated in 2007 from North Central College (in Illinois) with a major in broadcast communications and a minor in journalism and theatre.

She did a few internships in college including radio promotions, a radio producer, rock, and then news talk. She also got involved in TV documentaries (PBS style documentaries in Chicago). Her internship in Atlanta was for CNN as a radio producer and video journalist. With CNN, it was both international and domestic new. She learned a lot behind the scenes at CNN. She also took part in the video journalist program where she learned how to direct scripts and how to interview people. She also had a short stint as an intern with ABC in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Right now, she works during the 4 p.m. newscast. Her hours are pretty regular working from Monday through Friday. She also fills in on the anchor desk when they need her.

She gave some insight into what being a reporter is like. She said it’s not just sitting and reading a teleprompter. As a reporter, you write a lot of your own scripts for reporting and anchoring.

“Writing is a huge skill—even more important than how you look on camera or how comfortable you feel on camera,” said Theis.

Lucas graduated from UNO just two years ago. He found part time work at the station with Theis and within two months started working fulltime. Theis and Lucas are quite the duo at KMTV.

Lucas said the video work he did in college prepared him for where he is today. He went through the broadcast journalism program. While in college he rented gear in his spare time—outside of his TV classes—to get better at his craft.

“I wanted to find a job where I could play with a video camera and I did,” said Lucas.

With video, he said you learn through the process of doing. It’s a lot of trial and error. A lot of things story and video wise he has picked up over the years through experience.

Lucas and Theis put a lot of emphasis on getting internships while in college and networking as much as possible.

Celebrating Three Years of Yoga at Soul Elevations

Soul Elevations is a yoga studio located on historic 10th Street offering yoga, meditation, breath work classes, Reiki and more.

Before opening her studio, owner Tami Hoffman was always on the go. She was doing readings and Reiki out of her own home, and teaching classes at multiple rented spaces. She’s worked for Hyp-Yoga, taught yoga at elementary schools and after school programs, and volunteered her time instructing yoga at the Lydia House.

She’d also dabbled in corporate events, teaching a couple yoga classes at LinkedIn, some for a law firm, and lunch yoga sessions for an engineering company.

She was constantly traveling all over and decided it was time to give her practice a home. The studio just celebrated its three-year anniversary this March. She’s enjoyed her time since moving downtown in the Little Italy area.

“I think I’ve just been really surprised by the diversity and how warm people are—like they, they want to know—neighbors know each other. And I love the location and how close it is to everything,” said Hoffman.

The studio offers a variety of yoga classes for all learners, both young and old. Whether through her Little Mystics children’s yoga class, guided or crystal bowl meditation classes, gentle yoga, early morning yoga and tea class, or intermediate yoga, each class is small and intimate.

“I love all my classes. Maybe the one that my soul’s drawn to the most would be when I do my breath workshops. It’s integrated breath work and it’s an all day workshop. I think the reason it’s my favorite is because it really gets to the heart of things and it allows me to really get close to people,” said Hoffman.

For the UNO School of Communication, I’m Kaity Jankovich.


March 27, 2017 Lecture Recap: On Radio and MavRadio

On March 27, 2017, Jodeane Brownlee of the UNO School of Communication came and spoke to us about radio. Noah Sullinger, general manager of MavRadio, also attended the lecture and spoke with the class.

Sullinger said he has covered more than 200 sports games. He gained interest in MavRadio after taking Radio I and Radio II. He joined the program, moved up the ranks and is now the general manager.

Competing against schools like Arizona State University, UNO’s MavRadio has won 14 awards for their radio station.

Aside from play-by-play sports talk, the radio also plays a variety of music. They recently did a study on campus to see what students wanted. Results showed the audience wanted to hear top 40 (a mix of all genres), current music and hip-hop. They often have local bands, sometimes regional or national artists who they will cover.

Brownlee spoke about the future of radio and how the future of radio is streaming. It’s going to be listening to radio on demand and being able to listen to radio stations from around the world.

“We are an international radio station because we have some students in Turkey, Germany, and Norway,” said Brownlee.

For sports, they are exclusive for baseball, soccer and volleyball. They were also approached by the Omaha Beef (indoor football) to cover their games.

Brownlee also spoke about the importance of loving to communicate and write if you want to get into the field. Brownlee said she has always loved to write, and it’s not always the case that everyone enjoys writing.

“It’s never going to hurt you to be a good communicator,” said Brownlee. “The more you write, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the more opportunity for work.”

Brownlee mentioned how jobs in radio are harder to get into. And when you do land a job, the hours aren’t the best. There are a lot of working nights, overnights, weekends and holidays. Luckily, nowadays, many overnights are pre-recorded. Despite streaming and things like Facebook Live, YouTube Live, etc., Brownlee doesn’t think radio is ever going to die.

“Radio and music evokes emotion and memory. That’s why it’s so powerful and why I love it so much,” said Brownlee.