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.

The Tenth Street Market: Where Little Italy Meets Little Bohemia

The Tenth Street Market is a public market set to open by fall 2018. Located on historic 10th Street, it’s “where Little Italy meets Little Bohemia.”

Laura Hall is a marketing and development specialist at Vic Gutman & Associates, the development company behind the new public market. She’s also the project coordinator for the Tenth Street Market.

The market will be open year-round and offer spaces for local entrepreneurs to grow their food businesses. The community can look forward to a variety of affordable, healthy food options.

“The types of vendors that you can expect to see are things like are bread bakeries and sweet bakeries, small scale butcher, a seafood market, produce. We’ll have vendors that sell herbs and spices, dairy and cheese products, and prepared foods focusing on different kinds of ethnic foods,” said Hall.

Hall said they will also have vendors including coffee roasters, a honey vendor, a florist and other prepared foods such as granola, jerky and popcorn customers can enjoy while perusing the market.

“There’s a local brewery that we’ve been talking with that’s interested in doing their production on site. We would have the opportunity to do tours of their production space. We do plan on having a liquor license throughout the whole building too, so people will be able to get a glass of wine or a beer and kind of walk around and do their shopping,” said Hall.

Hall said not only will this help fill the need for a food market in the area, but will also be a great gathering space and place for meeting new people—benefiting both the community and market entrepreneurs.

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

Instagram Assignment Recap

The five Instagram accounts I followed for the Instagram assignment were:

KETV NewsWatch 7 has 15.3k followers and 153 posts that mainly focus on holidays, sports, weather, some newsroom photos, a few photos of what’s happening in the community, photos of guests on the show, and a few photos stating to check out their website for an article related to the posted photo. The early posts didn’t get much feedback. One of the first posts that had a lot of likes, 72 likes, was regarding fallen officer Kerrie Orozco—a very serious post and something that really impacted the community. #tbt posts of the reporters got a decent amount of likes showing the community is interested in the reporters working at the station. Their most liked photo, at 373 likes, was one on the M’s pub explosion/fire that happened last winter. That was a huge story. I’m wondering if their Instagram began to pick up more followers during that time. They aren’t very active and posts are sporadic. The last five recent posts were on Valentine’s Day (5 weeks ago), Carrie Fisher’s death (12 weeks ago), Veterans Day post (19 weeks ago), voting day (19 weeks ago), and a Nebraska-Wisconsin football post (21 weeks ago). It’s clear they aren’t really using Instagram often or to increase their storytelling. The last post asked what people thought about Valentine’s Day, which really isn’t news related. I didn’t find anything they posted inappropriate. Even the comments (which weren’t often) to be positive, i.e. not many trolls like on Facebook.

Chinh Doan, reporter at KETV NewsWatch 7, has 3,272 followers and 1,692 posts showing just how active she is on social media. Her posts really aren’t related to the news. It just seems like a personal account of her life outside of work (family, friends, events, food, pets, hobbies, etc.). I didn’t go that far back but found one news related post about her climbing into a “38-foot-deep hole in high heels for TV.” She’s obviously more active and posts more frequently so had more comments and likes compared to KETV’s Instagram.

NPR has 742k followers and 1,083 posts. They had typically 2,000 or more likes on their photos/videos and comments ranging from 20 to 200. A series of 4 photos was (posted 4 weeks ago) regarding shutting down the Oceti Sakowin camp, ending the months-long protest against completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. So many broken heart and crying emojis were posted regarding the sad, raw and emotional series of photos of the police and water protectors. One comment that caught my eye was “The silver lining is in these comments. Our hearts are heavy but we will resist.” This post really enhanced their storytelling and their caption said, “Follow the link in our bio for the full story and more photos.” I’m sure reaching audiences through Instagram helps bring traffic to their website. As far as content, their Instagram feed reflects their news, everything from national, worldwide, arts, culture, music, etc.

Ari Shapiro of NPR has 57.5k followers and 1,779 posts. His feed includes everything to what up-and-coming stories he’s working on, newsroom related posts, funny posts and personal posts like family, friends, his travels and his hobbies like singing. He gets lots of comments and traffic on his feed. One thing I noticed is how active he is responding to commenters when they have questions. I thought that was neat. It’s clear Ari is an amazing storyteller, whether on All Things Considered or through his Instagram photos and captions. He has a good eye and his photos/videos capture the moment/story well.

Washington Post has 592k followers and 1,053 posts. Their posts are pretty much the explanation provided in the bio up top: “Photos and videos from our reporters and photographers from D.C. to around the world.” Their feed reflects their news site. Users are commenting and liking the photos. There’s notably a lot of trolling in the comments section.

St. Frances Cabrini: From 1857 to Now

St. Frances Cabrini is home to Little Italy on the corner of 10th and Williams Street. Although it isn’t the first Catholic church to build in Omaha, it is the first Catholic parish in Omaha. The church’s history dates all the way back to 1857. It’s a historic site and on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Father Damian Zuerlein is the current priest at St. Frances Cabrini. After his term limit was up at St. Columbkille, he was sent by the archbishop to reinvigorate the parish. It will be Fr. Damian’s two-year anniversary at the parish come this July.

“When the archbishop asked me to help, I snuck in on a Sunday. There were around 30 people at mass, which is not very many,” said Fr. Damian. “Now we probably have around 120-150 people at each mass.”

It has been Fr. Damian’s mission to draw in more families, youth and millennials. He loves the new parish, the area and feels blessed with the job he has.

“I love working with people and the issues they present—their struggles and their joys. Walking with people in the journey of life, I always think, I have a great job,” said Fr. Damian. “I get to be with people, form community, and form relationships. I get to bring people together and engage them in their spiritual journey.”


St. Frances Cabrini church draws in people from Little Italy, the Old Market, northern downtown Omaha, South Omaha and some “old time” Italians who live all over town who grew up in the area, according to Fr. Damian. Those who committed their time here growing up in the neighborhood continue to come back here and bring their families every Sunday.

1 church sign

Fr. Damian’s favorite crowd of church-goers attend the 11 a.m. mass. It’s a very diverse bunch.

4 church view from organs

At full capacity the church fits about 300 people. Here is a view of the church from above, where the pipe organs are.


One of the most colorful and intricate stained glass windows faces the front of the church. The organs, some of which are the originals from 1857 (and unfortunately no longer work), are in close proximity to the window.


Only a few original Tiffany-style stained glass windows from 1857 are left in the church. At the bottom of these dated windows, each said “In memory of…”

6 original alter from 1857

The altar at St. Francis Cabrini is from the original 1857 church. It’s made from black and white marble, imported from Italy.

7 mural above alter

A breathtakingly beautiful mural is painted above the altar. The gold cross at the bottom of the image is part of the altar.

9 st patrick, lucia, frances

As you enter the church to the right is a glass case. Behind the glass case (from left to right) sits Saint Patrick, Saint Lucia, and Saint Frances of Rome. The church has ties to both Irish and Roman Catholicism.

11 lucia floor view

Fr. Damian stated how Saint Lucia was one of the world’s first radical feminists. She was a Roman Catholic martyr. She refused to be treated like property and disagreed with arranged marriages. For that, it is said, according to Fr. Damian, her eyes were gouged out, hence why she’s holding a chalice of two eyeballs.


In the sacristy room (where the priest and altar boys prepare for service), Fr. Damian gets inspiration from the photo of Pope Francis, which hangs to the right of the door. “Yep, that’s my boss,” joked Fr. Damian.