September 30, 2005

Satire Friday

"A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us."--Jonathan Swift, 1729, from "A Modest Proposal"

When I read this the first time I approached this proposal as a serious thing (look at the serious format, for goodness sake), and wanted to smack Swift over the head, but upon reconsideration, I got the joke.

Can brunettes have blond moments, too? I know I do.

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September 27, 2005

Revamped Setonian Online!!!

I LOVE IT, Evan!!!!

And check out those top links! The listings--the beauty of everything there, but not taking up space. The long-beloved search bar.

I feel a swoon coming on...

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September 26, 2005

Feminism citation

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."--Rebecca West as cited in Communication Theories by Katherine Miller
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September 25, 2005

Brush with Facebook

I think I've found a new obsession in Facebook.

I spend inordinate amounts of time looking at old friends' profiles and finding new friends.

There's an entire study to be had here somewhere. How does this phenomenon compare to blogs? to other sites? to IM?

It's all so connected. I'm sure I'll have more on this subject when I move past the "whoa" stage.


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September 24, 2005

Setonian publicity: Hello Google.

Thanks Evan for getting the Setonian up so quickly.

Remember what I said in my last entry about all is vanity? Here comes some more...

Look! Google picked up my story.

I'm waiting for the backlash. Gosh, I love this.

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September 19, 2005

All is vanity in a reporter's world

Don't we all want to go out "with a bang"? Hunter S. did. And so did Michael Brenner.

I guess the bang is all in perception.

Brenner called himself a bad journalist for his own publication's story on the hoax involving Kodee, a little girl and her father, Dan Kennings, who supposedly was serving in Iraq. Kodee and her father, Dan Kennings didn't even exist.

How the mighty have fallen.

It's easy to get carried away with publicity over your work. Trust me. It's almost intoxicating for me, when I see my byline in the paper, attached to something thousands may read.

I think Brenner fed on that and disregarded the fact-checking that a seasoned editor would demand during an edit.

As editor, Brenner was probably concerned with topping himself and others. In fact, Brenner is cited in the article as being disappointed by the lack of response from journalistic organizations. I see a major ego at work there, which is common and almost unavoidable as a journalist.

I mean, you are a trusted resource of information. You are editing the facts for public consumption. That's an amazing feeling, but it's also an incredible responsibility that one should never take lightly.

Mistakes happen, but it's difficult to think that something this huge could happen without someone saying "Hey, what's going on?" Very unfortunate. That's why I depend on my editors so much to check and recheck my checked and rechecked work.

Gosh, I'm nervous about my articles all over again. Maybe I'll give my articles a once- or three-over before I assent to publication. :-D

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Faux or fact: "I point my finger in your general direction"

From the Chicago Tribune, "Hoax!":

"...eight days of reporting revealed elaborate fabrications and intricate lies. There is no soldier named Dan Kennings. The charming girl people came to know as Kodee Kennings is someone else entirely, a child from an out-of-state family led to believe that she was playing a part in a documentary about a soldier.

...the woman at the center of the hoax spun a remarkable wartime tale so compelling it grabbed the hearts of young journalists, university faculty members and readers, leaving them blind to the possibility it could be a ruse.

The reasons behind the lies remain unclear. There appears to have been no monetary motive, but the scope of the deception is staggering."

So who's to blame? Isn't that the question we all want to have answered and remedied, for every issue?

The blame game is becoming very tiresome for me as a reporter, but I guess a twisted trait found in most people dictates that the finger be pointed somewhere. Not that it ever really helps.

But aside from my philosophical wanderings, I turn to the he Tribune's reporters, who say it is Jaimie Reynolds, "the woman at the center of the hoax". However, the three reporters also introduce another player: a possible accomplice--a student journalist ,Daily Egyptian's reporter, Michael Brenner. The 25-year-old college student doesn't have the best reputation, as this article indicatates (but I'll talk about that in another blog).

Anyway, the sheer length of this article shows the care these reporters took in uncovering this hoax. Also, the fact that three Chicago Tribune reporters took on the story speaks of the story's need for accurate facts and a depth to break the story. Things like this don't come down the pike often; the Tribune wanted to do it right.

How a reporter could get so deep into a story and not know that his sources weren't real is beyond my comprehension. (Knocks on wood)

Reporters, at least the ones I know, walk a fine line between sanity and perfectionism/paranoia, which means facts are checked and rechecked. Though I have been wrong before and I anticipate being wrong again, I know it is part of the job, but it seems like this Brenner guy didn't even take an active role in meeting with the girl -several- times before validating the story. The other article says several phone calls were made between Kodee and the Daily Egyptian staff, but to avoid this maybe some more face to face contacts should have been made.

With big stories, I torture myself over whether I accurately paraphrased and quoted my source. Several calls. Several rewrites. It's tough.

To cover a story that long and not know...perhaps Reynolds shouldn't face the press firing squad alone.


It's just such an odd thing to happen. If Brenner did not know--for real--then I hope it can serve as a lesson to other reporters. This kind of thing can happen to anyone. Scary.

However, his rebuttal sounds a bit too readily available--like a courtroom drama.

"J**** C*****, that is completely not true," Brenner said when he heard about the allegations. "Obviously, she is making that up. I swear I'm telling the truth. The last two years of my life, I don't know what to believe. It's ridiculous. I feel stabbed in the back. They had an elaborate hoax. I'm telling the truth."

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A few finds on fairness

From Freedom Forum.org (a PDF file):

"We have a free press in the United States because of constitutional protection. We should have a fair press because of personal and professional commitment. The better we journalists are at making the press fair, and perceived as fair, the better chance we have of keeping it free."

As a member of the Student Voice of the Hill, part of my job is to show the viewpoints of the Seton Hill community.

While working at the Trib, my job was very different. I reported on the story and all the sources seemed to fit logically with the facts.

More often than not while writing Setonian articles, however, I begin giving student opinions as a separate section with a sweeping statement of introduction like, "Students feel (insert blah blah blah)."

I'm going to work on that in future articles. The voices of the student body should fit in with the story and should demonstrate the alternate sides of an issue without interrupting the flow of the article.

In the future, I hope to build my story around all the sources I interview, rather than the administration, as I am apt to do. It is the students' concerns I should highlight, rather than the official position of the university.

Though I usually begin with an understanding of the official state of the story, I want to "dig deeper" by poking around a bit more for more information (usually unofficial stuff) that I am always hearing. I usually discount this stuff, but I am growing to understand the value of gossip. Some shred of truth is usually in there somewhere, and it is my job to track down those rumors and ask the administration to either dispel them or own up to something.

As indicated in the quote above, this issue of fairness, goes beyond the sources reporters include. It is the way the sources, the facts and the overall tone of a piece is perceived by the audience.

I continue to work on this, and I think I am getting better. I reread my stuff and try to include pertinent information as it would logically and fairly depict the story.

But I guess that's up to my readers to decide. My judgment is a bit biased about my own work, I suppose. :-)

As a side note, Professor Klapak, Neha and I are working on student/professional panel discussions for October, November and December.

I am coordinating a discussion based on federal and state guidelines of the press's right to know versus the government's right to know, specifically in the context of Pennsylvania's "Right to Know" law and the Patriot Act.

My panel is in November if anyone wants to help out. I'll be making neat-o signs in reporter-style Courier New fonts, and I need someone with a keen eye to help me design them, along with some large visuals for that night. If you're interested, drop a line.

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September 16, 2005

An interesting interview

Last night, Neha and I watched part of the confirmation session of Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts.

I was struck by several things.

  • He is a great evader of questions. The senators would ask for personal opinon and he would turn it around and say that he has a)already given an answer to that or b) that his personal opinion will not influence his rulings. Very smooth and smart.
  • His hair is literally glued to his head...and it shines. I kept wondering what kind of hair products he uses. Okay, so I get distracted easily.
  • He smiles between phrases. His teeth are semi-pristine. Okay, so I get really distracted. However, his mannerisms, such as this one, reminds me so much of President Bush.
  • The intensity of how much I wanted to be a senator and ask questions was overpowering.

    The interview gauntlet is quickly becoming an obsession.

    I love when people evade the question; it tests my abilities as a journalist to get the answer I think lies at the end of this maze. Most of the time, a journalist knows what is at the end of the maze and is waiting for the subject to take you there, but other times, the maze is beyond your grasp and even you are surprised by the moldy cheese waiting.

    Some of the senators' questions were sloppy, but instead of asking for clarifications or a correction of terms, Roberts forged ahead, so the telecast would not depict a confused child, asking for a repeat in a spelling bee. Compelling stuff.


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To the first

To the first boy I ever liked,
To the first boy I ever despised, yet liked anyway,
To the first boy who riled me up,

To the first young man who teased me relentlessly,
To the first young man I always thought I knew, and didn't,
To the first young man I knew had layers,

To the first man who left, but isn't gone,
To the first church playmate, friendly foe and childhood crush,

It's never good-bye, just see you soon. But we'll all be missing you just the same.

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September 9, 2005

Gonzo guy's goodbye

Hunter S. Thompson's suicide note--a bit short, but still his style.

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September 8, 2005

"Days of Our Pigskin"

From Thoughts of a Struggling Writer comments:

"I don't follow sports.

However, I've always thought that football in general would be much more interesting if all the players were in love with each other. Like a soap opera."
--Kayla Sawyer

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September 6, 2005

I'm blogging that....maybe not.

I can't write about my work.
Why?
Because it is coming out in tomorrow's edition.

I can't write about my personal life.
Why?
Because I've already given away -way- too much.

I can't give my opinion about current events.
Why?
Because I'm supposed to be this objective journalist.

I've reached a point in my blogger career where I'm not sure what to write about anymore. I'm either treading on my personal or professional life, either now or in the future.

Sheesh, it becomes something you have to justify.
"How?"
That was just me at that time in my life. Gosh, I was just stupid back then. How I've grown. haha.

So shall we take stock?

a)I'm a journalist.
b)I'm a person.
c)I'm a journalist/person with biases and beliefs of my own.
d)Anyone can read this thing.
e)My grandmama reads this thing.
f)I love my blog.
g)I love writing.
h)I love my audience.
i)I'm addicted.

Hmm. I have some issues.

I could write about some online trends or keep giving insights into my SHU life. But I'm bored with both of those at the moment.

Maybe I'll risk my entry-level reporter career and start tackling harder stuff. But I've been warned.

Suggestions? Aid? Topics? I'm tapped out of ideas.

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