WATCHING HISTORY:History was made on Tuesday with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and The Independent was there to watch. One week ago, news reporter Ethan Stewart and his Big Sur buddy/photographer Kodiak Greenwood hopped on a train in Santa Barbara and rode it all the way to Washington, D.C., with a 30-hour stop in Chicago to see Obama’s hometown. They recorded their adventures on The Obama Express online at Independent.com/obama-express, and filed the story in this week’s edition of the printed paper.
Why so much effort to report on what most other newspaper folk just watched on TV? “An undeniable urge to be part of history,” said an emotionally and physically spent Stewart on Wednesday morning. “No matter what your politics are, you have to recognize the significance of what happened:.Rather than be cynical about it, I wanted to get swept up in it, at least for a few days. Only good can come from being around people who care.” Stewart explained that it can get to be “so tedious and frustrating” covering partisan politics here in Santa Barbara on the local level. “It’s really cool to see something sweep across our country,” he said. “To some degree, it really broke down those walls.”
The downside? Stewart and Greenwood were the “sacrificial lambs” for this past week’s surf swell.
But other than that, Stewart said it’s been a “pretty over the top experience. Everyone we met every step of the way was so supportive and so jazzed, and ready to share their feelings and their own reasons for going. It was some of the easiest work I’ve ever done-you just put yourself out there and the stories came to you.”