July 8, 2009

TNSTAFC: Relating & the Recession

Coffee isn't free in New York City.

I thought it was at NYU's Career Center, but it really isn't. It's just a way for the center to make us feel like we're being productive in the space dedicated to job seeking.

We pay for every drop of those Columbian beans. And then some.

I often come to the career center to check my e-mail before I go swimming. The Flavia coffee machine is a favorite stop where I put in my hazelnut coffee pack and get a strong brew of "free caffeine." Others smile at me when they get their chosen coffee and return to the clacking of keys at their work station. We act like we've figured out the secret to free coffee in the most expensive U.S. city, but it's really just denial.

The career center looks motivated, its room dividers stately and printers humming. And I look like I've stumbled from bed in a good suit.

I usually come to the center after work. And while job seekers are on the phone, talking about goals and potential with shopping employers, I'm dozing, hair askew, on the padded upright chairs no one ever sits on.

I hear them and remember unbidden what it felt like to see my bank account dwindle. I remember the worry of disappointing my family, friends and professors, if I didn't get something soon.

That was February.

But it's still February for many of my friends from graduate school. It's difficult meeting up with them for coffee. I try to say I understand. But it's becoming obvious that I'm drifting further and further from that knowledge.

But I do remember the vitality, the life-and-death of being jobless -- and how much I wanted to find stability again somewhere. Like living on financial adrenaline.

I imagine many of the people around me at the career center are looking for jobs in the same state. Their still looking in their field or maybe, or like I was, searching for any opening that would help pay the next rent check.

I wrote some stories today that highlighted the unemployment rate. It's growing. It's staggering.

I'm paying my bills and my loans and everything else. But my heart is with those who are searching and waiting for that phone call or mail.

I know coffee isn't free in New York City. I'll buy you a cup -- not a pity cup of joe -- and you tell me how you're doing. I want to know.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2009

If I weren't paid

I get paid to write now.

I find the fact that I get paid to write and my blog has fallen off the map very funny.

I've been thinking a lot lately about things I would always do, even if I were paid to do them.

Write is one of those things. I have missed my time blogging. This creative niche is a nice sanctuary from all things work-related.

Read is another activity. In this strange new adult world, I'm actually keeping up that thing most people find is a pseudo-pleasure during school. But I'm learning to appreciate books in a different way. I just finished "Little Bee" and "Under the Banner of Heaven" and I'm finding my fascination is really rooted in human nature and its darker side. I could and would read, I'm sure, even if I weren't paid.

I would also sleep, travel and eat for free, if given the chance.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:41 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2007

About Oranges in 1967

On my reading list for this fall is a book entitled, Oranges by John McPhee. The syllabus says "an excerpt", but I requested the entire book from the library, so I'm reading all of it, and loving it.

Though my mind sometimes gets boggled by the word "orange" written over 30 times on one page, I am compelled by the fruit these days.

Much of the book was printed in The New Yorker, but since I haven't read the the archives of that beloved publication this was all, strangely, new--old material.

I suppose, while reading, that my professor will ask the class to pull stylistic elements of the piece, rather than just content. And, in the stylistic realm, I was a bit overwhelmed by the first chapter, as the author intended.

Oranges, McPhee seems to say, are not simple fruits that just show up in the grocery store; they should not be imitated or concentrated; they should be revered and protected all around the world as a food resource, political and social force and, surprisingly enough, a cleaning agent.

Of course, I am paraphrasing, but McPhee's statements range similarly in one paragraph. It's all too much to take in, and then I finally reached the first chapter's end.

I've started the second chapter and it seems a bit more cohesive, but the chapter's title, "Orange Men" doesn't really fit yet. Perhaps as I read, the orange men will emerge and I will find the link. The author begins with an anecdote about his undergrad life. Maybe he is saying that his is, and always will be, an "orange man" himself. The piece seems to find itself as it goes along, rather than be itself from the very beginning. I'm sure that is some kind of fancy schmancy journalistic term that I learned and have forgotten or will learn and then forget, but I like it, nevertheless. That's the kind of technique I want to work on: long form journalism with undercurrents of exploration for the reader through the writer's guiding hand.

Oranges has me guessing. I never would have thought that a fruit could be such enriching material.

Pardon...that was awful, wasn't it? ;)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:38 PM | Comments (8)

May 8, 2007

Writing Exercise: Interesting things to happen in an elderly care home

For my book in-progress.

1.A kitchen worker chops off an old person's finger (or vice-versa).
2.An elderly woman stands up in the middle of an activity session and sings Aretha.
3.Two elderly people get caught having sex in an examination room.
4.Rules are heaped upon rules and the elderly stage a revolt.
5.The garden club ladies plant, grow and harvest the largest red tomato in the state.
6.A man gets locked in a closet, by whom no one is certain--the caregivers blame it on him.
7.An elderly man gets caught growing a marijuana garden for cancer patients in the home.
8.The elderly take a computer class.
9.The residents of the home find their personal files.
10.The main characters sneak out, get drunk and then try to sneak back into the home.

Yeah. I kind of like some of these ideas...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:50 PM | Comments (3)

May 2, 2007

Watching list

After years of reading lists, I've suddenly shifted to watching lists. I recently perused the syllabi for two of my classes for the fall semester at NYU, and it seems I'll be watching more than reading, as I probably should...in a news and documentary program.

The list is long and spans from mainstream films like Shattered Glass and Veronica Guerin to relatively unknown documentaries like Marcia Rock's McSorley's New York and Natural History of the Chicken.

I can't wait to get started. The libraries in Pa. have many of the titles, so I'm going to abuse the system that is Inter-Library Loan and get a head start.

And don't worry, my literary friends, I'm not going over to the dark side completely. Two Pulitzer winners lie in wait on my bedside table, clamoring for a good read.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:13 AM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2006

Enter Entrepreneur: Women in Business Conference reflection

Though it has been a while since the event, it is still very blog worthy. On Thursday, September 14, I attended the Pennsylvania Governor's Conference for Women at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

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Before the women came

In the wee morning hours, we loaded onto buses and put on our volunteer shirts. (Some put their shirts on while riding the bus--an interesting co-ed experience I'm sure, but I didn't see anything--I was riding in the front).

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Happy volunteers

After a short orientation, we received our volunteer badges and were sent to our duties. I was a human arrow. I really didn't know which way was which, but I had a marvelous time acting like I did.

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"I'd be happy to direct you." (laughs maniacally)

The day was not all volunteer direction, however. I attended most of the presentations, and attended two "breakout" sessions with a panel of speakers.

I particularly enjoyed the morning panel with Ann Crittenden, entitled "Striving for a Life of Balance". The insightful responses from women who are obviously successful as mothers, wives and business people (usually in that order), was encouraging for me.

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Balance panel with Ann Crittenden.

As I get closer to graduation, I'm realizing that a life of balance is something to be striven for, not necessarily attained to perfection. Perhaps the most valuable thing I took away from that session is the importance of having a set of standards that cannot change, no matter the position, the place or the time in your life. Some of these standards are, for example, that one will not compromise a pregnancy leave, taking time off once a year for vacation, or Sundays off for church.

This really spoke to me because I sometimes get caught up in work. I enjoy work and I enjoy time with friends at work, but I also enjoy time with family and friends outside of a work setting, and sometimes that gets the backseat, for example, during Setonian productions, when I have a freelance article due or I am working with a client on her logo. Time is fluid when I am working, and I admit I have in the past put work ahead of the priorities like family and friends that should mean more to me.

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Keynote speaker-Linda Ellerbee

Amid the mass of over 5,000 women who attended the conference, I didn't feel oddly or beneath them; I saw myself as one of them. E-Magnify was the propelling force behind my prescence at the conference. I was invited to not only volunteer, but to network as an equal.

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Five thousand women breaking bread

I appreciated the opportunity, not only to be there, but to pass out my resume at the various booths at center. I was an entrepreneur--of myself. This isn't the first time, however, I've worked experienced entrepreneurial intiative.

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Company Set-ups-Time to network!
en‧tre‧pre‧neur  /ˌɑntrəprəˈnɜr, -ˈnʊr; Fr. ɑ̃trəprəˈnœr/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ahn-truh-pruh-nur, -noor; Fr. ahn-truh-pruh-nœr] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, plural -neurs /-ˈnɜrz, -ˈnʊrz; Fr. -ˈnœr/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[-nurz, -noorz; Fr. -nœr] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation, verb –noun 1. a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, esp. a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

When I sit in a meeting with the Setonian staff of over 50 people and they are all looking at me for direction; I am an entrepreneur. When discussing website design with a board of directors and create signage, brochures and present to small children at the Mount Pleasant Library; I am an entrepreneur. When I put my heart on paper and solicit my work to Eye Contact; I am an entrepreneur. When I write on my blog in what spare time I have, risking my reputation; I am an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur in my book isn't someone who goes with the flow. This person has an attitude that reaches out and demands change, pushing the boundaries of the norm. I think I am an entrepreneur. I think being a student at Seton Hill demands this, and the profession(s) I have selected also require the same spirit.

Though risks of corrections in the newspaper, rounds with a board that pays my way through school and possibly screwing up children, criticism, and the possibility of even losing my job because of my blog, are all real, I am not dwelling on the risks--only the possibility that I can make a difference in my school, my hometown, my church, my loved ones, and the world through my actions for Good.

Someone once told me that anything worth doing has risks and a price. That is the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit. And as I step out into the world, I see that I have already risked much, begun paying my dues, and gained so much more than I deserve. I am an equal of those women at the conference. We are all just trying to make our way.

Oh, and a little p.s., not many men were there, and the ones who were, were either looking for a restroom (because most men's rooms had been turned into female restrooms), or putting up arrangements for the conference. Alternative universe, no?

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Flower men
Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2006

Consciousness of evil

There are at least four helicopters circling around my town. Since my bed is up against my window panes, the first thing I heard when I opened my eyes was the scary sweep of an aircraft unnaturally close to my head. I really don't know why they are there, but I made some quick and groggy connections.

Oliver Stone's World Trade Center film is coming out today, and after a mad dash to my computer for information on what was happening in the world, I discovered the foiled plot to blow up Britain. America's odd color-code system has been raised to its highest level ever.

I have no idea what the helicopters mean outside my window, but what I did and my train of thought speak of a new consciousness of terror in the United States--that maybe American minds are connected to world political events not only through a gas pump.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:10 AM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2006

Without Ann Coulter

Last night I had the pleasure of watching Larry King Live without Ann Coulter. They were talking about her. Talking about her without her there to flick her long blond locks and to interrupt the host after he or she delivered the first three words of a sentence.

It was great.

In recent weeks, I've followed the media circus around Ann Coulter's new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism. The main beef with the book is that she calls widows of 9-11 derogatory names like harpies and rails against the use of their misfortunes for political clout. I really don't have much to say about claims for or against the claim, uness you read into the things I've already written, but I do want to agree with one host's assertion that she is the right's Michael Moore.

I don't think I've ever seen so much publicity mongering in my life, that is, except for Branjolina's escape to Nimibia. She has made the rounds on practically every network. The television audience can't escape her mane-flicking clutches.

And the most ironic thing that everyone knows she has profit written all over her. The networks get the ratings, she gets more readers, and writing this blog, I'll probably get a spike in my counter because of Coulter name-searchers hitting this page. I expect negative feedback, and especially some four-letter words from either side, but that's the fun of it, right?

She's a golden calf that we all like to see and worship until the media commandments, namely no. 1: move on to a newer, fresher story, will deliver us from the Coulter insanity that has once more claimed the airwaves.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:07 AM | Comments (11)

April 17, 2006

Follow the Freelance Road...and Other Unbricked Paths

My trusty brown suit and I took a turn this morning. The shoes with hidden scuffs, the hair curled just so (not Farrah Fawcett-esque) and the sedate, yet feminine necklace, went along for the interview ride.

Each newspaper office I've entered seems to have one little room where they grill interviewees for knowing their stuff. It usually has a desk with profuse amounts of paper on it and a computer. In the office I was taken today, however, the desk was covered, but the computer-- the damn Mac--had a mesmerizing pink and blue screensaver that made my eyes stray more than once toward its swirls of color. Damn it, I thought. A Mac was going to ruin my chances of getting a job at the Daily Courier for summer freelancing. Ah, well, maybe not.

I was confident this time around. I talked about software programs like Quark and Lotus Notes without the ums and ahs in my past experience. I didn't gloss over my inability. I could firmly establish that I understood what features and news stories are. Between the anecdotes about my experience at the Trib and my work on the Setonian, I handed each of my two interviewers copies of my resumee and clips of my work. SCORE!

They said they wanted me as soon as I finished with finals. Good to hear.

Funny thing, when they start handing over tax forms and contracts, you know you're in.

FYI: One of the contracts I signed was that my work could be syndicated and published online without multiple payments. Tricky, tricky freelances of yesteryear. Good paper for covering their arses.

As for this freelancer deluxe (haha), I read through it the whole way, a la the instructions by Arnzen in my "Publications Workshop" course.

The newspaper has a lower circulation than the Trib does, but it serves a wide readership of all of Fayette County, and parts of Westmoreland and Somerset counties. I would be working in the daily news sections and the Fay-West Sunday sections. And I'll get clips for my lovely lil portfolio. Clips! Clips! Clips! What a fledgling journalist won't do for those thin pieces of wood pulp.

While I was disconcerted that this summer I will not be interning at the Trib, I understood why. The sad fact is that they could only take two interns this year, and, having already done the internship last summer, I suppose I was pushed to the bottom of the pile. No bitterness. I'm just happy that I got my internship when I did.

I think I want to do this, too. Freelancing is a different kind of writing reality; it isn't solid. I think it will teach me a little more about the sacrifices that some writers experience. Get my sea(writer's?) legs, or something. See how far I can push myself to write every day for my proverbial bread and butter.

I also want to submit my fiction work to some publications and see where that goes. Dun dun DUN! I already have a place to put my rejection slips...and a frame for my most recent acceptance letter.

I'm really happy that I took on an incredible amount of credits during the past three years at SHU. During the next year, I want to chill a bit, try to focus my voice, network with various publications and look into grad schools.

WHOA! Grad school?! Yeah, I've been thinking about it and I'm thinking that this is a good step and a good direction for me. Though journalists don't necessarily need a master's degree, or a doctorate for that matter, I think I need it. I think this is something I would regret not doing down the road in my life. I think I can do it...I just don't know where or in what field of study... Oh sheesh! What would I think about someone who just has a vague idea and some pipe dream? I think my jaded self would scoff, but this other side of me--this still-a-dreamer side of me that I thought had gone to pot in the past year or so--says, "Live it, Amanda. One life to live and all that."


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2006

Getting plugged into SHU culture

Funny. But true. Since I became the editor-in-chief of the Setonian this semester, people having been approaching me. Approaching me about what? you so respectfully inquire.

Lots of things. Several of these "things" end up in the paper. I get tips. People rant to me. People cry to me. People yell at me. People chase me down and ask me questions. I love it.

I love feeling like I am a part of something bigger than myself and more real than the essays that I'm writing or the world I'm creating in my fiction. It's a great feeling being connected to a world of non-fiction. People and their lives and SHU. I don't really know how to describe it, but I know I am working with a great crew who really makes an impact on this imposing Hill.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:10 PM | Comments (2)

January 31, 2006

Reaction to critiquing

I can't think of a good comparison for criticizing other's work. Sometimes the experience is easy because you know what needs fixed, others it is kind of messy because you are afraid you are stepping on someone's creative toes, and others, well, it downright sucks because you aren't really sure if you are missing some valuable component of the story, which could result in personal embarrassment. The embarassment is suposed to be for the person being critiqued, right? Right? :-D

Now, with a short story for Publication Workshop in hand, I reflect on these possible outcomes of critiquing, and in particular, your peers' work. It doesn't really matter if you critique someone dead or across an ocean or somewhere far away that doesn't have Internet access (ha!ha!). When that person is someone you know and interact with on a daily basis, that critique can go, I've discovered, two, no, maybe three ways.

1. They take the criticism and run with it, trying new things and fixing up the negative aspects that you found, and enjoying your comments about the positive work they've shown.
2. The crap can hit the fan, and the person will take it badly, believing that they are, in your eyes, worthless writers bent on the destruction of the literary world, and you are the only person who has ever told them so--damn you. Simply put, they believe that the person is bad, not the product.

When I critique, I rarely ever find everything all bad. A real writer, and editor, for that matter, can work with practically anything.
3. The critique gets through and changes are made, but the writer doubts their ability for a while. (I often fall into this category.) With so many people that will look over my work, I will probably doubt my abilities often, but I'm reminded that I am in a place to be critiqued. Not everyone gets feedback from writers with similar abilities. It's great to be critiqued, really. It helps you in the long run. It helps you in the long run. I should keep telling myself that...It isn't pretty when the crap hits the fan anyway.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:03 AM | Comments (2)

January 30, 2006

Denial is the name of the writing game

It's funny. This book I'm reading for Media Lab has an introduction and says some pretty profound things about the craft of journalism, and I was completely disinterested. Shouldn't I really care? Shouldn't I worry about this kind of thing? Maybe not. I skimmed sections I knew were probably profound, but it all seemed like superficial, hyperintense puff-up-my-book action. I'm not feeling too badly about it.

I guess I just wanted to get to the part where George Orwell steps in and starts describing his real experience as a writer. I think I've had a little too much theory. It was time for Georgie to step in with the facts of life.

It's a strange thing, reading a writer's work while he is working, but now he is dead and you know what lay ahead in his life. By the time he wrote "Why I Write", he's reached some celebrity, but he isn't jaded or pompous like the book's introduction. He is real to the point of describing writing a book as a "horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of asome painful illness".

I feel that, but it is something that I can't live happily without. I guess the feeling is infectious among writers: he writes, "So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style...and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information."

I think that last part of that quote really speaks. Writers take useless things, particularly dog and pony shows, in the journalist's experience, and make them work for a purpose. Quite unlike any other field. When I was chatting with a Trib reporter, he said he couldn't do any other business. I asked why. He said that journalists really do something different from any other profession and the skills do not usually translate to something "related" like PR. I'm starting to understand that. I'm already having difficulty with turning my journalistic mind over to fiction in my creative writing classes. It's real work to let go of certain beautiful things like "she said" or "Margaret Green, director of the Office of Public Information". Oh well, I'm learning versatility. It's going to make me think creatively...I need that.

One thing Orwell said in this piece is still making me think: "I have not written a novel for seven years, but I hope to write another fairly soon. It is bound to be a failure, every book is a failure." In truth, he is right. Books, writing, even articles for the journalist, are taken apart, savored occasionally, and inevitably thrown into the gutter to be, if it is "lucky", picked up for another round of picking and second-hand savoring. Like some pizza that is never fully eaten, just spat back out and retasted.

Okay, maybe I am being dramatic.

For me, the reason I write is to quench this nagging thirst. I agree that writing is an "exhausting struggle", but it is not always horrible. At times, writing can be like having your foot reset or a having papercuts all over your fingers, but not always. It can feel like you're standing at the top of the world and you see everything for a moment or you've just crossed the English Channel in less than 2 hours, breaking the world swimming record. Whatever the feeling, the memory of the passion writers expend on a certain work will always stay with them. These memories, in my experience, have helped me through the struggle and succeed on subsequent tries.

Orwell looks at writers as driven by a demon. I like the muse. Writing is unlike anything else, but the same ideas of positive outlook should apply. I don't think I'll ever drink to find my muse. I don't think I'll ever need a person to be my muse. My muse is illusive, but I always find it before the deadline.

As for why I write, I guess it is my "thing". I didn't collect stamps, though I tried. (The pretty stamps were all too expensive for my six-year old budget.) I wrote. I like stationery and I liked creating things. I wrote a book once about a pony who broke out of her stall and tried to find the wild. I even illustrated it. I reported the news weekly as Sally Wiggin with my sister on my church's altar (funny story). Until eleventh grade, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but looking back, that's exactly what I was supposed to do. Simply, writing is a good fit.

All the other things associated with being successful in the field, including the role of journalists as watchdogs, though important, I often skim. They cause worry and detract from my performance. A writer doesn't need that immense responsibility, in addition to creating a great article. I just know they're there in some drear bubble, and they sometimes intrude, but the tangibles, like Orwell said, are what writers should grasp most tightly in seeking coherent idea expression. The daily to-do lists are enough for now. I'll eventually look back and really read--with notes in the margins.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:24 PM | Comments (6)

December 17, 2005

Happy Holidays versus Everything Else

When I initially heard about the "new" debate over using "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" in businesses, my mind was split.

Happy Holidays is a non-specific greeting that can relate to anyone in any religious tradition.

However, living in America, where the predominant tradition is Christian, this was bound to tick a few people off.

From the article:

"We see this as just another attempt to remove our Judeo-Christian heritage," Gammons said. "Our country was founded by Christian people who came and built the nation on Christian principles."

Um, can I also point out that this is also what our nation is founded upon:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I am stepping out on a limb in saying that this practice is (at least ideally) a 1) smart thing for businesses to do and 2)a progressive step in realizing that not only Christians live in America. And, gosh darn it, all Americans, despite their religious affiliations want to buy cheap, foreign labor-made goods, but that's another thing altogether.

The other side of my mind was saying, "Amanda, you are a Christian, don't you want to see 'Merry Christmas' instead of 'Happy Holidays' everywhere? This is your faith. Why are you betraying it?"

And to that thought, I responded that I would not like to see Merry Christmas everywhere if I am alienating others from celebrating a season that all can enjoy. I am not betraying Christmas by including others, and isn't that one of the tenets of Christ's teachings to bring all together under one banner? The big problem, however, is that it is going against Christ's banner.

It seems as if this season isn't about making particular claims about particular faiths (although each does); it is about finding light amid an ever-encroaching darkness, both literally and figuratively. Many faiths do this (unless the faith is to celebrate darkness), shouldn't we celebrate this relative commonality, rather than douse icy water on it?

As for the money-making end of this matter, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, there is much at stake here. The retailing audience is everyone, and as much as Americans want to believe it, we are not the homogeneous mass, as seen in our own small environments.

As for me, it is Merry Christmas in my heart, and to everyone I meet. It is still a Christmas tree, and Christ still lives in this season for me, but I am willing to see the other side and the benefits of acknowledging everyone's understanding as tolerable--at least.

My faith is exclusivist, and I've been dealing with the nature of my religious understanding for years now. I still haven't made many concrete decisions; however, it is times like this and in issues like this, that our colors show. My banner is a bright red and green at the moment, with a few unfinished seams.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Stoke up a fire and stay warm. Love someone, find your light and live it. The titles should not matter.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

I love radio!

As Anna Marie Desmond in the Culture Wars drama, I acted. As a student in the class, I discovered America from a completely different perspective than any history book I've ever picked up.

We researched different views, various eras and political and social leaders. It was the most non-traditional course ever, but I learned so much.

The course was designed to show the stratification of upper-class and lower-class and every other factor that defines and separates America today. Throughout the course, we picked up the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson for debate. Did he kill himself because he was depressed about the state of his life and America and what it is becoming, or was he possibly murdered?

Our creation, a radio drama depicting his court case, attempts to fictionally answer that question.
The radio drama, which was produced live on Monday, is now available for easy media player listening here. I am Anna Desmond, a friend of the defendant, and the defense lawyer's voice.

I wrote the testimony for Anna. I loved performing it.

The Setonian covered the webcast. It was difficult to find a reporter for the webcast story and people to be interviewed because over half the class was Setonian staff.

Anyway, the production went amazingly well. I'm so proud of the class. This is a wonderful experience and a great thing to add to my portfolio. Woo hoo.

Today we had a milk and cookies (and popcorn ball? :-D) celebration to commemorate our kick ass-assination performance.

Dr. Klapak has aspirations for radio drama performances at least once a week next semester. Count me in!

Read on for Ashley Welker's pics of the broadcast.

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Pre-broadcast. I don't think Stephan had breakfast.

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Katie Aikins is getting "into it". Should I remind her that this is radio?

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I sat next to -the- Hunter S. Thompson...I mean S. Puff.

What an experience! Maybe newspapers aren't the end of my media horizons.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:54 PM | Comments (3)

December 3, 2005

'Bibbety bobbity boo':
Possible bogus interning with Disney

From Newsweek's "Disney internships draw students, criticism":

“None of them are paid properly,” Ed Chambers, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1625, said of the college interns. “They’re like indentured slaves ... They live on Disney property. They eat Disney food. They take Disney transportation.”

Seton Hill has permitted Disney to bring internship recruiters on campus several times, and I have friends that have participated in these internships. Their views are incredibly upbeat in comparison to this report's understanding.

I see both sides, and they both look a little dim. The students receive housing for a minimal fee and are paid to stay in a resort area. I see the perks...sort of.

It looks good, but it sounds like a Mickey Mouse Cult Club, with Donald holding the whip for first-time interns.

Disney is the great provider and the underlings serve and receive some minimal pay and the title of intern for something that may not even apply to their major or its requirements. And that is what gets me...it sounds a lot like a scam.

Even with quotes like this, the holes appear in their argument.

Joanna Gonzalez, a University of Florida graduate, said serving fast food in the Magic Kingdom helped her become quick on her feet and overcome shyness.

“We’re not there to flip burgers, or to give people food. We’re there to create magic,” said Gonzalez, 23, who now works at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. “When I worked there, I opened up. The confidence it builds in you is huge.”

Confidence? How is Disney confidence any different than confidence that can come from learning skills in a professional environment that actually relate to your field of study?

The use of the word "internship" is unsettling. Why do Disney employees receive the title of "intern" for a summer scooping out garbage cans and dressing up as Goofy?

Though the article says that they learn about customer service and Disney's hospitality culture, I can't see that someone can't learn a similar thing at the Cogo's down the street. It's just packaged differently, and colleges and universities are buying it as credible intern experience for a future physician's assistants, journalists or music teachers.

"Creating magic" or "flipping burgers", whatever you call it, for a music teacher, it's not in relationship to your field.

Be wary, oh registrar's offices of the world, Mickey might pull a fast one.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:11 PM | Comments (2)

November 21, 2005

Religious Minor shout-out

Introduction to Catholic Visits assessment (A. Cochran):

On one white doorframe in my house, small black marks decorate a wooden panel. From a distance, it looks as if a carpenter made a mistake, but upon further investigation, the marks are accompanied by sister’s name and my own along with a date. Not only indicating our height, these small markers remind us of our development and incite memories of standing on tiptoe to look taller, as we pass through the door today. I think of this semester's Catholic visits in similar terms; mistakes, development, investigation and memories have each marked this ongoing experience of the "other" and myself.

This semester I visited four separate Catholic worship locales: St. Benedict the Moor, St. Mary's Byzantine, St. Emma's Monastery and St. Joseph's Chapel. In addition, I interviewed several Catholics and now I am interviewing for and writing an article on Catholic identity at SHU. Needless to say, I'm getting an interesting understanding of what it is like to be Catholic, and particularly, a Catholic at SHU. It's been an incredible study. I can't wait to work this into my Nicenet.org conversations with Egyptian Muslim students over Christmas break.

It's fascinating. Religious studies is a great minor to pick up at SHU (and no one has paid me to say that :-)). The staff is great and the classes take you places (spiritually, intellectually and physically [the visits]) that I'd probably not go if I hadn't taken it up.

You are asked to think outside yourself; and though it can create a horrible dissonance with your own beliefs, it is great to try on different coats for a while. Some are too small and others are a little baggy, but it's a great accompaniment to your education to try or at least critique another faith or faiths with an open mind. I've found with further study, I'm stronger in my own beliefs because of it, and now I know what I believe and why I believe it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:27 PM | Comments (1)

November 6, 2005

A journalist's lessons:
Newswriting presentation November 7, 2005

This entry is an outline for a talk I will give to Dennis Jerz's Newswriting (EL227) class on November 7, 2005.

I'd like to talk today about my employment experiences working as a journalist for different news organizations, particularly, the cool things I've gotten to do, how I've grown, how I've been jaded, where I, and most journalists need to develop, and some of the ways to develop in this reputed bad press press business.

About me...
My journalistic past, present and future:

  • Where I've been: high school intern (11th grade) at my hometown newspaper, The Mount Pleasant Journal.
  • Off to the Hill (Seton Hill, that is): I joined the Setonian as a freshman contributor, became a staff writer, then was promoted to news/online editor in the 2004-2005 year.
  • Summer 2005 (May-August): I applied and was accepted as an investigative reporting intern at the Greensburg Tribune-Review. My work is proudly on display.
  • Currently, I am the news editor of the Setonian.
  • Where am I going?: Um, trying to figure that out. I'm freelancing for the Trib...we'll see where that goes.

    There's a job fair on November 10, 2005. I'm attending. :-D I like NYC and where the Setonian has pointed me: The New York Times.

So today's about me--where I've been as a journalist. My experiences as a journalist on the job for various organizations. Here goes...

High points of Setonian reporting:

Internship tops:

As an investigative reporter, I didn't regularly cover the everyday newsroom stories (i.e. obituaries, fires, car crashes, etc.). I was, for the majority of the summer in an air-conditioned office with the senior writers on the staff.

It was a great position. My former editor pushed up the hierarchy for me to get some of the best stories, and I did get a great deal of them.

Learning landmarks:

  • First article: 'Truth in Music' stalls in committee
    -learning legal
    -Pennsylvania civics lesson: When is the PA session in? Why do legislators get paid so much for being in session only a few months per year? :-)

  • Court reporting: Three stories involving court coverage:
    Trial begins for parents accused in infant's death
    Coroner defends hypothermia finding in infant's death
    Children and vehicles: A tragedy in the making

    Court reporting is difficult for the novice. Defendants, lawyers, names, titles, issues, laws in question, evidence... It is mind-boggling; however, with practice, it can be formulaic.

    Recommendations:
    -Don't go it alone. Chances are, you won't get a chance to go alone as an intern. The Trib sent out my editor with me on my first assignment, and I paired up with David Hunt on the second article.
    -Take a recorder.
    -Don't write down everything--it's okay if you miss an amazing quote. The lawyers have enough rhetorical ammo; you'll get another one.

  • Ticking off the PA governor: Rail line reopens in Indiana County

    Asking the tough questions is your job as a reporter, but you have to keep those tough questions fair.

    Often, people can't separate you from your work, so you must assess your affiliations in order to keep yourself neutral. I've struggled with this over the past few years. In order to keep myself clear (to a certain degree) from conflict of interest issues, I don't join campus politically-affiliated or associated organizations. That's not only my decision, but also the guideline given by the Trib.

    Though you may be able to keep your affiliations separate in your mind (or think you can), your fairness in covering certain topics such as a political party, an issue such as abortion, or a sports team or university office, can be affected.

    Though you may think you don't have a bias, it still can exist. It's especially seen in the topics you approach and the questions you ask during interviews.

Feedback:

  • Sometimes it's great. (letters of praise, letters to the editor)
  • Sometimes it really hurts. (letters of disdain and calls for corrections)

Formulaic vs. Creativity:

Formulaic stories have a definite structure. They are usually constructed in strict inverted pyramid style or mimic the previous days' stories, for example, obituaries.

Creative journalism? To some people it sounds like an oxymoron, but to me it isn't. It's even more challenging than creative writing because you have to take someone's real story of extremes: pain or despair or elation, and make it comprehensible for a public who has not been through the same situation. Non-fiction is often more bizarre than that Kurt Vonnegut or Shakespeare drama on your bookcase. You are responsible as the conduit to make everyone who reads your work say, "I understand".

These stories have a definite formulaic or creative structure or a mix. Though I like to think I'm creative in everything I do, there are some stories that adhere to a certain structure, as set forth by the organization, tradition and the type of story it is.

So, what do you think these stories demonstrate: formula, creativity, a mix of both elements or something else?

Life's a beach

Well-drilling owner always put family first

Sony worker interprets when Japanese bicyclist hurt

Jerry Springer's (ahem) Amanda Cochran's final thought:
I've heard it said you either have ink flowing through your veins or not. I do, and there's no refuting it. You may not be interested in journalism, and that's fine, because if I get a paper cut, it's a lot harder for Shout to get it out for me.

But seriously, journalistic basics are foundational for a critical thinking about everything. By studying journalism, you carry with you tools for assessing arguments, and a dogged determination to find the truth in yourself and in others.

I love this work, but it is work. Living up to the standards of this difficult, competitive field is taxing. I have a long, long way to go.

Realize that not everyone's a good journalist, and that's okay, but everyone can benefit from the mindset of one.

Many thanks to Dennis Jerz and his class for the invitation to speak.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:37 PM | Comments (4)

October 22, 2005

Accountability for the incompetent

**This blog is not directed toward any Setonian reporter. You may read into it what you will, but none of the information listed below is directed toward any particular person or group. I am fulfilling a requirement for Media Lab and the references, if any are made, are rhetorical and should not be construed as pointing a finger at anyone.**

One of the most difficult things about working with new reporters is placing them where they will be most effective at getting the story and getting it right.

It's a balancing act between what you know the reporter knows, what the person in authority knows and especially, when the reporter knows what the authority figure knows, how they will interpret it.

In truth, reporters are, in some cases, translators, speaking the language of companies, politics and law when they have no previous training in any of these areas. That is why I rejoice in my liberal arts education. I know a little something about lots of things and can, when falling, land on my feet with minimal damage. This knowledge, as a Freedom Forum article notes, "compensates" for the inadequacies of the individual reporter.

Acting dumb is a valuable tool for a reporter, but actually being dumb is another thing all together. Before I interview anyone, I do my homework. I surf the web, find out opposing opinions from previous articles, talk to other reporters about their experiences, and stack the printouts on my desk for future use.

Then, when I have a working knowledge of my subject, I begin writing my questions for interviews.

In the interviews, I sometimes I act like I do not know something to get a good quote. Sometimes I pull facts from a binder and ask the subject about their feelings about my findings or, my favorite, ask about an opinion already stated by another interviewed person.

Reporting is work. Reporters have to be ready for that and also to guage themselves for many, many situations that are often out of their control; however, one must maintain the appearance of control for the self and the story's welfare.

Being "ignorant or incompetent reporters" is a choice. If reporters are called into a beat or even to a story out of the blue, they need to be ready, which may mean working beyond office hours.

That's one of things I love about journalism: the reporter is called into accountability, as well as the organization. The self becomes part of something bigger and is a symbol of that organization. I know that when I don't care, someone else will and vice-versa. In that way, someone or all involved parties benefit from the hard work of the individual, from byline to newspaper's title head.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:20 PM | Comments (8)

Coping with corrections

It's going to rain...whoops! I mean, sunny today with a high of 83 degrees and variably cloudy.

I've always poked fun at weather forecasters. They have one of the only professions in which they can provide incorrect information to an entire population on a daily basis and still get paid.

However, as I was reading from a Freedom Forum study, I realized that journalists are permitted the same occupational perk. And, in addition, this article demonstrates, the public relishes the moment when a reporter has the grace to say they are wrong and that is sorry for the erroneous info.

As I have said numerous time before, reporters have egos, and when a correction is placed with your story attached to it, it hurts. Literally hurts. Your story is your story, and, if you have been working on it for a long time, it becomes part of you--an echo of personal experience--despite all the objective bravado you may exhibit on the phone with a reader seeking a correction.

In fact, when my articles have been sent through the correction wringer, I have tried to stay objective, but it does hurt. I am proud to say that I haven't had any substantial corrections placed regarding my work, but I know corrections will be made with my name attached.

This article addresses more of the editorial staff's issues with correction fairness, rather than a reporter's, at least in my experience. If e-mailed responses to articles are received, they go directly to an editor, who decides to either a)address the issue with a correction b)talk with the contact about the problem or c)ignore the issue. C is usually not the case.

No one, especially the editors, want to admit a mistake that has passed their eyes. And, as both editor and writer, I know what that horrible sinking feeling of "bad" information is like, and plastering it up for everyone to see in a large box makes the editors look incompetent. The Tribune-Review, the Mt. Pleasant Journal and the Setonian, all employ small correction boxes, if at all. I can't say that I have ever seen a large correction in a paper before, but, surprisingly the public wants to see more of them.

I guess the only thing getting in the way is personal ego, professional ego and an organization's credibility. What incredible roadblocks! Because unlike weather forecasters, reporters--good ones--must face their mistakes with grace and humility and hold out for a sunny day, knowing that the rainy ones pour out in equal measure. I think all reporters, because of that reason, are secretly optimistists, waiting for that eternal sunshine.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:09 AM | Comments (2)

October 15, 2005

An insider's perspective: NYC at the NYT

Sitting with my legs crossed on a metal chair in Bryant Park, I tasted something sweeter than the fattening mocha cooling in my hand and felt something more uncomfortable than the dress shoes pinching my feet: a peek into what may come.

There's something about New York that gets me every time I visit. Is it the smell of burning hotdogs at the Times Square vendors? The slick suits and I-Pod carriers commuting to work? The honking of taxis? No, it's not really any of those things, but all of those things and many more that keep me coming back with enthusiasm. They aren't the taste of many from where I grow up, but me--I see a start there--a gritty beginning of something that may suit my taste. I really can't put it down, but it's there, nagging me with each turn of the now-familiar corners of Manhattan.

This trip, perhaps more than any of the previous trips, has shown me that maybe I do have a shot in NYC. Why? Because maybe there's real people there, not these mystical, impotent celebrity beings that they or we believe them to be.

Why the impression? In my case, it was several things times during my experience this time around.

My first downsizing of NYC happened the day of the conference, "Inside the Times", that Anne Stadler and I attended at the little publication on 38th Street: The New York Times.

We entered the building, which looked just like any other in New York, and were checked through security in a small area graced with NYT poster-size photography. No super-journalists with huge J's on their chests flying through the revolving doors. Damn--and at the same time--woo hoo.

While we were waiting in the lobby, I watched employees pass through the security checkpoint and noticed that they do the same thing I did every day at the Trib: pass their security badge over a scanner. Simple. Fast. Just on their way to work.

Later, when we--the 50 or so students from several private colleges from throughout the U.S.--were escorted to a ninth-floor auditorium, several editors introduced themselves on stage in their very normal-looking business attire. In my mind, I thought New York Times reporters wore Armani every day and carried a notebook around their neck...or something. How sweet it is to be proved wrong.

The second time was when I saw pics of Donald Trump plastered everywhere through the lobby of the Trump Tower. Why, oh why, that hair? How interesting that his wife looks like a model just down the street at Saks...or maybe Victoria's Secret. Ha.

But back to the conference. The day wasn't as intensive as I thought it would have been, primarily because I was expecting to be drilled on the Associated Press Stylebook or American journalistic ethics. Instead, the morning was surprisingly laid-back with some headline writing and copy-editing exercises.

My headlines weren't picked to be plastered on the overhead screen as "the best" or one of the comedic "bad" ones, so I was okay. A little humbled, but okay. ;) I would've liked one of the shirts or hats they were giving out, but no prob. I'll get one when I start working there. :-)

Later in the afternoon, several of the head journalists who produced the series, Class Matters, appeared at a panel discussion.

One of the presenters, Tamar Lewin, struck me. She talked about her experience with several interviews during her in-depth coverage of class, particularly in the context of one woman, Della Justice.

I felt a connection with the reporters when they talked about meeting with average Americans about everyday issues of income, education, occupation and wealth.

I did something similar this summer when I interviewed for a story on Clymer, Pa. The story isn't online, but I spoke with an elderly woman about her family's experiences in lieu of mine and brick company closings in the area.

I understood the importance that they placed on making several meetings so trust can be built, so that the reporter can understand the fullness of the life in context, and, essentially, so that the reporter can be touched, to impress upon others the importance of the subject.

Lewin also said that the issues that the reporter intends to take up are also important in the public's perception of the story. In the case of this series of stories, she said she knew nothing, so she had to choose carefully the issues of prevalence as the story's interviews developed her direction.

This is often the case: the interviews write the story.

The final component of the day's agenda was the advertising session. The manager of the ad department spoke awhile about ethical advertising, what is and is not allowed in the Times, and then distributed a packet of some ads not permitted in the paper. Nudity disguised as art lithographs, using company logos to bash a company through parody, and interestingly enough, homosexual advertisements--all no-no's for the NY Times.

I can't imagine having his job. One slip and he could have been gone--several times. However, maybe the perks outweigh the extra lines I didn't see on his face.

After the conference, Anne and I returned to our hideous hotel, The Manhattan Broadway, on 38th. We wanted to save money and still have a great location. Yeah, we got that, in addition to a room full of mirrors, hair on the sheets, a shower curtain with a duct-taped rod and some interesting caulked corners throughout the room. Thank God there weren't any bugs.

What an experience. But it wasn't as bad as Mexico lodgings and the front desk people were very nice when they weren't freaking us out about surveillance camera use in the hotel rooms.

One of my favorite about this trip was the train. The romance of a train track and the stations and the beauty of Pennsylvania and New York on a fall day captivated me. I didn't have to worry about filling my tank, parking, making a wrong turn or even if my car was going to die. The kind conductors took care of it all. Trains are roomier than planes or buses, and cheaper; I just don't get it why they aren't bigger in the U.S.

My mom and I are actually planning to take a trip to New York or Philadephia for a weekend train trip. She's adventurous. I like to think I have some of those genes.

I'll update with a photo gallery soon. I'm not off of my blog fast per se. This is sort of required fun blogging.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:35 AM | Comments (3)

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...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:38 PM | Comments (1)

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

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

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."

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:28 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:57 PM | Comments (0)

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.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:11 PM | Comments (2)

September 9, 2005

Gonzo guy's goodbye

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

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:01 AM | Comments (3)

August 30, 2005

Hunting Hunter

What an interesting character!

Journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, who died of an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, is a subject of study in my Culture Wars course.

His funeral was in the news this summer (for obvious reasons--his ashes were shot from a Depp-funded cannon). While I did note the oddity of his final wishes, an in-depth look at his life gives his life a little more color than I had previously supposed.

Gonzo journalism, Fear and Loathing, hating Nixon, despising Bush, articles about drug-induced experiences, anti-establishment. It's all there.

I can't wait to start weaving my fictional diary character's life in with Thompson's. Intertwining the two lives should somehow twist the story, I'm thinking.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My character is a Catholic Hispanic/Caucasian girl who was born on December 7, 1941--yes, the day of Pearl Harbor--completely intentional. Her mother died during childbirth. She has three brothers in their middle-class home in the suburbs of Canterbury Village, Ohio (a fictional town, but there is a Canterbury, Ohio).

The story, based on her life over ten year periods, will document how she changes as a result of the American experience of culture wars.

The final product, Professor Klapak said, will be a novella, of sorts.

Historical fiction is a favorite genre. This is exactly the kind of creative writing I like--laced with a little fiction, a lot of non-fiction impact, and a truth that maybe no one counts on. Forrest Gumpage.

It's living another life for the sake of writing of capturing it--sounds a little like gonzo journalism, eh? But maybe I'll skip Thompson's famous Hell's Angels beating. That sounds a little too in-depth to me.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:04 PM | Comments (2)

August 26, 2005

Second thoughts: Google

Google has stepped up again.

Not only can you pinpoint the entire globe, encase thousands of e-mails, and search your entire computer with a Google-like search, but you can also talk.

I must echo Guardian's point: does Google have plans for world domination?

They could possibly see our homes, read our mail, search our computers, and now, listen to our conversations. Am I the only one who has issues with the potential power of this online/offline conglomerate?

Or, maybe I'm just paranoid after recently reading 1984.

-Google- may be watching you.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:09 AM | Comments (4)

July 7, 2005

Ponder this

From Columbia Journalism Review:

Pham Xuan An argues that the only difference between being a spy and being a reporter is who reads your information.

--My Colleague, the Spy By Terence Smith

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:53 PM | Comments (1)

July 6, 2005

To know or not to know?
Journalist behind bars

It's a mess, but somebody has got to stand up for a free press these days.

All day at work, we kept tabs on this story. Sidebar: The best part about working at the Trib is the access to the wire where reporters are given first dibs on stories right after they are written--faster than Google News.

What kept us riveted is the fact that journalist rights are again being questioned, which means the public's right to know is, as well.
On the news tonight, the reporter said that several states have journalistic laws, but a federal law does not exist. Hmm. I guess the Bill of Rights doesn't count.

This story reminded me of the legal seminar I attended at Seton Hill in June. Speakers from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association outlined the state's laws concerning the press and the few cryptic laws that protect journalists (Right to Know and Shield Law).

Just an FYI, but Pennsylvania has some of the sketchiest media legislation in the country. The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association lecturer had to go through each piece of legislation line-by-line and tell us the implications and multiple meanings of each sentence. Then we went through individual cases that have addressed these laws, and it is bleak almost always for journalists.

One of the best parts of the seminar was when she addressed what pieces of information journalists are entitled to see and which ones we are not, specifically with private organizations and non-profits.

After attending this seminar and watching Miller walk away from the courthouse today, I realized this could happen to any journalist. However a journalist with tact and lots of feedback from other writers and editors may sidle away from something like this...hopefully.

Confidentiality for sources is a great method of finding the truth, but at the same time, reporters should evaluate the motives for a source's information. As one reporter on ABC News claimed tonight, she was digging up dirt, rather than being a whistle-blower, which he said is a more reasonable cause.

As a die-hard dirt-digger, I do understand, to as certain degree, the ambition and amazing payoff fueling her, especially while working for the New York Times. The pressure must be overwhelming to get the story right and as exclusive as possible with the people directly involved.

But I think she may have stuck her foot too deep in the dirt and now it's raining, sucking her into the mud of federal politics. Maybe the prosecutors, who have been investigating, well, nothing, will dig a tunnel out for her.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:16 PM | Comments (4)

June 4, 2005

Published second time, not losing luster

After a week of wondering where my article was going to be, I found it today.

This was probably the most enjoyable story I've done thus far. It's so much better when you have people that want to talk about the subject, rather than being coerced. The blessed quotes that you strive to get are right there.

The structure is much more newsy than the features I've been working on lately. Features require a little more creativity, but I'm working on that angle. I'm not completely dead inside creatively. Or at least I hope not.

In my last internship at the Mount Pleasant Journal, I did a story similar to this about a White Deer Run treatment center, just down the road from my house. I'm so happy I did. I knew what kind of questions to ask concerning the method and types of treatment given at these facilities. Also, what kind of contention, if any, is occurring in the community. In Mount Pleasant there were public debates about treatment centers coming in, specifically for young men. White Deer Run decided to make their facility a women's treatment center in an historical mansion. The last time I checked, a realtor's sign decorated the yard. I'm not sure what is going on with that.

Journalists have three payoffs: getting the quote, getting literally paid and, most rewarding, getting published. Is it natural to love your job this much?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:56 PM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2005

Publish-ed

Tee-hee!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:37 AM | Comments (7)

May 26, 2005

Ewww.

Too gross...

"I sold a morgue table for a couple hundred dollars to a guy who turned it into a bar," Stroyne said. "I recently sold one of the pedestal sinks that was in the tunnels. There were bathrooms down there."

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:36 PM | Comments (2)

May 17, 2005

Firsting it out: Trib internship day one

One day at the Greensburg Tribune-Review under my belt. "So--" you are all asking, "How did it go?"

Pretty well for all concerned parties, especially my stapler.

~~

I arrived at the Trib promptly at 10:00 a.m. in my brown suit and cream-colored shoes. Whoops, I went in the exit. Some back-ups and I was in a parking spot. After a few minutes in my car doing breathing exercises to Coldplay's mellow tunes, I stepped out and headed toward the main entrance.

After giving the receptionist my name, I surfed the Trib website in the lobby, but was quickly escorted in to fill out some financial stuff and have my photo taken for my press badge.

I think that is the first I.D. photo I've ever taken where I do not look like I have been sedated. I would show you it, but the I.D. isn't mine, but the Trib's. I don't want to be skating on thin ice my first day. Skating on normal ice is hard enough. :-D

After all of that, I went down into the newsroom to meet the reporters and the tech manager for training. The computer program they use is great. User-friendly.

During my tech training, the fire alarms went off, and I took a walk outside to the parking lot with the rest of the staff. I kept thinking, "Wow, I need to make some friends to stand with whenever this happens." I'm working on it, though.

After the conclusion of the fire drill and my computer training, I headed out with one of the reporters to get a look around the office. The printer is beautiful. I tried to "get" the idea of a four-color process printer during my Print Communication and Digital Imaging courses, but I just didn't understand it until I viewed the buckets of ink and the plates, and heard the whir of the machine first-hand. Oh, the wonder of CMYK!

And back to my desk. The placement of it is not exactly where I envisioned (in the newsroom), but I am honored by its location: in the middle of the in-depth news feature team office. I am working the best reporters on the staff. They do not take interns often, so I have a lot of work to do to prove that they made the right decision.

My desk is also adjacent to the photo department; it is partitioned off by a glass window and I can see everything that is happening inside their world...

I have received my first assignment and I am working hard on it, but only during work hours. I have been told NOT to take work home with me. What a change from the homework schedule I've been keeping for the past few months.

I also recieved a new Associated Press Style manual, a Trib Manual, a dictionary, phonebook, pens, notebooks, a black garbage can, and two bookends for my desk--exciting additions.

I was running on adrenaline for the past two days and it finally caught up on the drive home. Sapped.

After voting, I crumpled into a heap on my sister's bed. Maybe tomorrow I will do the lunch thing...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:18 PM | Comments (7)

April 18, 2005

Cheap [Expensive] Shot

If I decide to take a three-credit course (the internship at the Trib), I would have to dish out over $500 a credit, in addition to a part-time student fee.

I knew Seton Hill was an expensive school, but this is absurd. The only involvement I would be having is with my professor weekly over e-mail and in one, final paper. That's right, folks, $1500+ for a three-credit course for which I will not even have to enter Seton Hill's doors. Also, I have to register now; it is performed during the summer so the internship credits must be applied during the internship period.

Dr. Jerz is looking into making it a one-credit deal where I would be substituting the other two credits for something else, so maybe there is hope.

Sometimes, especially when I enter the little offices on the first floor of the Administration Building (i.e. Student Accounts, Financial Aid and now the Registrar's), I get the overwhelming urge to scream anything--everything that I feel. But I didn't today. I got on the elevator before I exploded and talked with SHU's archivist, Mr. Black.

He has a way to make even the stressful situation okay. By the time I got to the Publications Office, I was smiling again. This isn't the first time, though. He is always putting out Amanda-Bonfires in the office when things are going roughly during production. Werther's and Godiva chocolates are his extinguishers, and they do the trick.

Anyway, whatever happens with the internship, I realize that I am going to be incredibly poor after college. But that doesn't mean that I need more tacked onto that loan bill; I am NOT giving this up without a fight.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:38 PM | Comments (7)

April 9, 2005

Double Scoop!

That's right. We got it to you first. Wireless and increased bandwidth. Take a look.

I'd like to thank the SHU CIT Department for the opportunity to speak with them and Hobnob, Inc.'s CEO and founder, Aron Hall (yes, he spells his name with only one "A") for the interview.

How sweet it is.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:59 AM | Comments (2)

April 6, 2005

The GOOD news

Yesterday, around 11:00 p.m., lo and behold, I had four missed calls on my phone. Did someone die?

Two from home. One from a cousin. One from an unrecognizable number.

Hm. Greensburg number.

Dialing...."Hello, this is Robin Acton of the Tribune-Review." Holy crap. Internship opportunity. This could be the call from the newspaper gods.

Luckily, it was a voicemail. I hurriedly hung up.

After a night of tossing and turning, I called this morning and met Miss Voicmail once more.

The next time, on two rings, I met Miss Acton herself. I wasn't expecting this. The voice wasn't digitized. After speaking briefly with her, I felt the urgent need to jump and scream, but I was in Lynch Hall...I did it anyway. :-D

Yes, I have an internship with the Tribune-Review for this summer for 13 weeks. And I get paid. woohoo!

I did not want to post about my interview because I did not want to have bloggers asking me if I got it yet, and I would have to reply in the negative.

Oh yeah, the extra calls were from my sister. She wanted to tell me the "lady from the Trib called" and my cousin...well, I haven't followed up on that one yet. Let's hope someone didn't die. I don't know if I could smear this smile off of my face for a funeral.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:29 PM | Comments (6)

April 2, 2005

Stopped clock: Schiavo

It is very difficult to be unbiased when you read lines like this (ABC News):

"The court has already determined that (Michael Schiavo) will control the burial decisions," Gibbs said.

Outside the Pinellas Park hospice where Terri Schiavo lived for five years, just a few protesters returned Friday for a brief mass as city workers took down barricades used to control the crowd. Media crews from around the country packed up their gear.

These last lines are really depressing, and sort of show the humanity behind all of this, with both sides consequently failing. It is ending and there is nothing that anyone can do now, except wait for another death. It's all very morbid, isn't it?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:00 AM | Comments (5)

April 1, 2005

G-Mail, a praise rises from the choir

No one needs to worry about filling an e-mail account with G-Mail. Big attachments of photos, PowerPoint presentations, PDF files, whatever, need not worry your pretty little head.

So far, I am enchanted by G-Mail. When I was invited to G-Mail by Julie Young, I began with 1000 MB of space for files, and they have, just today, increased my account size to 1326 MB.

While I have heard various negative feedback concerning the privacy issues of G-Mail, I haven't had any problems with it so far, and I don't usually say things over e-mail that I would have problems with people reading anyway. But people aren't reading G-Mail. Computer scripts are. The advertising on the righthand side, for example, changes according to your message's content, indicating a computer script, rather than a real person looking at your message.

It is a lopsided tradeoff, as far as I'm concerned: absolute privacy (yeah right--like you get that anywhere on the internet) for a huge account, friendly interface, lossless compression of messages, easy categorization, and conversation storage. For me, the answer is easy, and the rest is disillusioned privacy hype.

By the way, if you want G-Mail, leave a comment with your e-mail listed in the body of the e-mail; I have invitations to spare. It's too good not to share.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:03 AM | Comments (2)

February 16, 2005

Getting the primary source:
Interview with an Iraqi

Head coverings was the trend. Arabesque calligraphy decorated the entry. I took my shoes off when I entered. This evening I visited the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

I am taking a class on Islamic culture this semester with an Egyptian professor, Abdul Marjoud Dardery. He is visiting for about ten weeks, and my class is shortened to accomodate his stay. However, I should say lengthened because of the 4.5 hours I spend on Wednesday nights.

Four and a half hours? Boring right? Nope. Though I sometimes have issues with body parts falling to sleep, I am enamored by what I am learning, and becoming more aware of the misconceptions in our own culture about Muslims and the faith tradition of Islam.

When we arrived, I was expected to take off my shoes, and it was a great experience. I mean, everyone had something in common: we had clean socks. :-)

After introductions and the evening prayer, which was called in the traditional manner by a Seton Hill student, the students in my class, and the Faith, Religion and Society course (which I took last year) were introduced to the people of various countries represented at the center.

Saudi Arabia. Egypt. Yemen. Turkey. And Iraq...

I chose Iraq as my country to research. After all, I am a journalism major, I should know something about the country that is on the news every day.

Hearing about the country straight from an Iraqi was indeed enlightening. His views on the American habitation of Iraq were perhaps the most surprising. He wanted America there for a time to establish order and borders, but then eventually move on. I thought that he would want the Americans out.

I perceive this constant friction between "us" and "them", but the more I learn, I find that the conflict is in certain specific groups, rather than the majority of the country that voted in the first election.

He would not directly answer my questions concerning the influence of the west on the east, such as the decline of polygamy, but he did point me in the right direction for my research.

The influence of the west! Exactly. We are there, why not?

One especially funny thing we talked about was marriage and the contract that it is to Muslims. As a contract, a male and female may outline what they would like in their marriage. He did not intimate the conditions of his own marriage, but he did say how expensive the gold was that he purchased for his wife, which she requested. Amazing! 24-carat. He said he had to buy it in Turkey because the U.S. does not have it of that quality.

I have his e-mail, so I think we will keep in contact. He said I could perhaps stay with his family sometime to see what life would be like as a Muslim for a day. Sounds interesting. This religious studies minor keeps getting better and better.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:21 PM | Comments (5)

January 27, 2005

Update: Trib Internship

Yesterday I called the Trib about the supposed internship. The managing editor answered and me, going rather wild at not getting a voicemail, began speaking--not always a good thing--but thankfully, this time, the babbling was minimal. I shut my mouth and let her speak.

As for my prospects, I think I am in the running for an interview. She mentioned it on the phone, and asked me to call in a couple of weeks, giving me a new number to call. As I was scribbling all over Tiffany's phonebook, my hand shaking, I realized that she may just want me to stop calling her...

I will not focus my energies on negative options. Besides, I only called her twice: for information and to check if she received my resume and samples.

The internship will be over the summer, and I would learn so much from this experience. I would also get paid, which is uncommon in this area. I am looking into getting SHU credit for this internship too.

I don't want to get my hopes up, but the opportunity is tantalizing. Working with reporters, photographers, layout editors...This is what I was meant to do.

If it doesn't happen this time, I will find another alternative. If it does...well, we all know how I am when I am excited (screaming, crying and laughing absolutely included).

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:59 PM | Comments (4)

January 22, 2005

Firefox creator: "A scrawny [kid]"

With all the talk on my blog about Firefox, imagine my surprise reading this today:

Blake Ross is 19 -- the same age Bill Gates was when he founded Microsoft -- but the surprising success of the free Internet browser Ross helped create doesn't yet have him dreaming about a Gates-sized fortune.

"That's not really my concern right now. I just want to make a good product," Ross said recently from the bedroom of his parents' condo as he the watched the Mozilla Firefox browser quietly chip away at Microsoft Corp.'s stranglehold on Web surfing....

Ross started learning about computer programming at 10, designing Web pages on AOL. That hooked him, and he bought programming books to learn complex languages like C++ on his own.

When he was 14, the precocious teen began fixing bugs in Netscape's Web browser from his home computer. A few months later, Ross told his parents he had a job offer.

"What, at the local store or something?" David Ross remembered thinking when his son told him.

No, at Netscape.

Sheesh. Let's hope he keeps his momentum.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:31 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2005

And the nerves set in.

With the ink drying on the pages, I scan and probe for mistakes one last time. Fonts. Size. Everything seems to be in order.

My coverletter and resume are put together, located rather precariously near my bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. Maybe I should move them...

Sometime today I will be dropping the precious pages in the blue box that seems to eat and never deliver mail. The reason for my discontent? Textbooks. I sent a check--yes I still use them--for books, and they have to receive the check before they start bundling my books. I am about to crawl up a wall when I visit Amazon and all I see is "we must receive your check first."

I know it is going to Washington state. I should really have some patience. I try to stay clear of the debit card numbers when working online. I just don't trust companies with that information.

Let's hope Greensburg mail moves a bit more quickly.

(I can't believe how professional and feminine this looks, especially on Firefox (that I downloaded with Karissa's recommendation).)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:29 AM | Comments (7)

January 10, 2005

Too pretty for her?

This proves that Brad Pitt was just too pretty for Jennifer Aniston.

I can just imagine their last conversation as a couple.

Jenn: How does your hair stay so light and fluffy. So...windswept.
Brad: I don't know. I got this amazing mousse from George Clooney on the set of Ocean's Twelve, but it was like that before...(mumbles on about his co-stars and how Angelina Jolie has amazing hair)
Jenn: Shut up or I swear *she glowers* I have friends.
Brad: What? Don't you agree that I am the epitome of a pretty man?
Jenn: I think I need to go get a treatment.
Brad: Botox? I think so. Your eyebrows are starting to sag.
Jenn: No--spa. I wanted something with seaweed--*She stomps off*

And with this, she went her way, and he, his, though they are still "committed and caring friends. Ain't love grand?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:53 PM | Comments (2)

December 13, 2004

Done

I am tired. Here it is.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:26 AM | Comments (8)

December 4, 2004

Blogs: the superior online teaching tool

Writing for the Internet. What fun. The class I have been mentoring throughout the fall semester is about to end, and my job as mentor also. I will abstain from tears--my keyboard is cheap. :-)

But how do I end this semester in Writing for the Internet? Not with the fun website that I can put in my blog links (by the way, that site is more popular on Google than the original "real" library site woo hoo!)...no, but rather a research paper. Yes, another one.

However, this one might be published--somewhere. I am doing something that may have never been seen before: a hypertext research document.

If you are interested in my toils, please continue.


The idea is that I will put together my paper in paper format and then post it online with links throughout. I am doing my paper--as of now--on the development of the SHU blogosphere in relationship to forums and chatrooms, and I will be linking to the exact blog that I cite in my paper document.

I plan on constructing my research document online in chunks. While I will write the research paper first, I will construct the online document from that research, but with an entirely different format.

After discussing Leslie's research directory page on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I decided I would take a few tips for my own project. Each new page, for example, will have a different purpose: the thesis/introductory page, supporting point pages, and conclusion/more information page.

The point I want to make is how we are, in the blogging community, using a superior form of online communication. While this may seem indisputable, I have found some silly people who think otherwise. Woo hoo for opposing opinions.

As for the development of this research paper, I have been traveling a rocky road. I started out with ideas about how I could address weblogs in general. BIG mistake. It is getting harder and harder to define what a weblog is, as much as we try to.

Thesis:
In comparison to chatrooms, forums, groups, and other forms of interaction presently offered online, the weblog is the best learning online environment for students. The discussion format, flexibility of content, and networking possible in a blogosphere, provides students with an environment that offers extensive interaction between peers, professors, and the "outside" world, which is "essential aspect of any educational experience" (Maor 128). Seton Hill University's blogosphere, specifically, is the exemplification of this learning atmosphere, nuturing both the academic and real world experience.
Supporting Points
Discussion format: Weblog-comments window, whereas in a forums do not, permitting everyone to see the interaction whether or not they want to.

In relationship to forums: "Most of these discourses involve using the web as an information resource and a platform to exchange information between the members of the community, rather than promoting reflective and more complex thinking" (Maor 128).

However, as the Seton Hill blogosphere demonstrates, academic discussions can occur; we are not just information exchange.

As an example of a forum's nature, in the APA Education Forum, the forum's description first indicates that the purpose is to "come together at a national forum to share information" and then

Flexibility of Content:

While students can blog in a personal fashion or in a purely academic manner, blogs offer a flexibility in content that forums or chatrooms cannot offer the student, because many are, in a classroom setting, only between teachers and students (Wallace 241).

In Tiffany Brattina's blog on The Death of a Salesman, for instance, a mix of her experiences with her father, in addition to a reflection on the academic work.

Networking:

Seton Hill has a great network of blogs, but I may be biased. I want to show in this point how different bloggers cite from other bloggers and make in-depth conversations about what they have said.

Lambe, in her research is noting computer conferencing which offers a group atmosphere that one can comment on at any time. However, blogging, I will note, offers individuals that option of when and how often they will post. Forums, also offer one line of communication down a page; on a blog, though, the discussions can branch out into other blogs.

Some useful quotes I have not placed yet:

"Text-based communications can promote 'thoughtful and reflective commentary...because the act of writing demands greater reflection than speaking" (Schrum quoted in Lambe 353).

"Technological tools for learning are becoming increasingly interactive...these new technologies provide a challenge to make learning an interactive and collaborative experience that is guided by a social constructivist approach to teaching and learning" (Maor 128).

"The role of the teacher in the online environment becomes a significant element in creating quality learning; a task that has required a change in pedagogies for the higher education lecturer" (Maor 128).

Conclusion:
Restatement of thesis and thoughtful conclusion (which never works out for me :-()

I am getting things together. WORK IN PROGRESS.

I am kind of miffed because electricity at SHU went out when I did this the first time through. Oh well, I have them highlighted for when I post my paper online, which will, I hope be soon.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:52 PM | Comments (6)

November 10, 2004

Interactive Fiction

I really stink at interactive fiction, but I rock at making web pages in short amounts of time. Yay! Check out my work for EL 236.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:41 PM | Comments (2)

November 3, 2004

Feeling like a newbie

I don't have all the fun software the guys in EL236 have, but who says Moveable Type is obsolete. Check out my work--

Style-Test page
Blog-Style

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)

October 27, 2004

Setonian in media spotlight

Learning the art of multi-tasking and double-dipping hehe...

I am doing a project for my Media Production Skills class on how The Setonian is produced. I mean, I spend enough time there, why not profit from that experience and implement it into my class work. As for how The Setonian benefits, I plan on burning my presentation/ad/promo thingy to disk and handing it out to newbies in the spring. Hopefully I will be enlightening and professional. :-)

I am doing sort of doing a voiceover type-thing with shots of the staff working. The voiceovers will provide explanations describing what is happening within each photo.

However, I am faced with some difficulty, I don't know what type of background music I should play. I know that current music would be appreciated, but I want this presentation to look professional, and not dated like the geography books I had in high school with the current president being Roosevelt.

Suggestions always appreciated. Your music faves? Any help on where I could go for free, legal MP3 music downloads? I am constructing the presentation on Microsoft Movie Maker, and that is the only audio format the program recognizes, as far as I know.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 7, 2004

Story Scooping Sweetness

This weekend I felt the competitive juices flowing. My mission should I so choose it, was to scoop another paper, which will remained unnamed (it starts with a "Comm" and ends with an "unicator") by Monday when the print version of their publication was to be on the stands.

Mission accomplished.

Though I was a bit miffed on Saturday finding the Seton Hill homepage with my story, I pressed onward.

While I am not sure how many people have seen the story, I have been promoting the blogs in conversation and in sparsely decorating a bulletin board outside the Setonian office on campus. Let's hope it gains more popularity as the year progresses, and with shameless plugs such as this blog.

Though it is incredibly fulfilling for me to get my work published, it is even more rewarding to get a story out first and accurately.

I questioned my major this summer (that's right, folks--Amanda was insecure about her future). But this weekend, with all of its pressures and deadlines, I was reminded in some small way, what I love about being a reporter, competitive, and even more, the uncertainty of the next minute.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:28 PM | Comments (3)

September 2, 2004

Repair, Reinforce, Recycle...a Speech

Today *insert excitement and nervousness here*, I will be presenting to Writing for the Web, the class I mentor, about "Getting the Most Out of Your Academic Weblog".

While Julie Young did a stunning job last semester, I plan on creating a more up-to-date presentation that perhaps, fixes some of the flaws in her presentation that surfaced in her comments section--or create more...Hopefully not.

So, instead of creating everything from scratch, I am going to borrow Julie's material and post it once more, intermingled with additional links and some new material. Just a little, but important tip for newbies: ask permission.

Julie's Entry:

    Private vs. Public
  • Anyone can read this: professors, classmates
  • Don’t write about your love life or last weekend’s activities unless you want your professors (or the academic dean) to read about it
  • Take caution when complaining about classes or classmates
  • Also, watch what you write – don’t link to pictures of you doing anything illegal while at school. Someone will invariably turn you in. Pictures are tricky. ANYONE can see them, including those that are "outside" the SHU blogosphere.
    The Upside
  • Your own weblog not only gives you a handy personal publishing outlet, but it also is much better than jweb's forums.
  • You get to know your classmates better. Make friends through your blog.
  • Future employers might read your blog, and might want to hire you because of it.
  • Well-thought-out weblogs aren’t born every day – just look at the recently updated lists of Blogger.com and LiveJournal. You’ll stand out in a crowd.
  • You can publish your works in progress in your blogroll or in an entry. This illustrates, perhaps to perspective employers, that you work progressively, and also that you are passionate--so much so that you blog about it.
Helpful hint: before you click “save,” highlight and copy it should MT (Moveable Type) foul-up.

Also, thanks to all of you who provided examples for this educational purpose... ;)

Ditto from me. Thanks again to Julie for her beautiful blueprint.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:17 PM | Comments (11)

August 31, 2004

Calling all SHU photographers!

The Setonian online editor (that's me) is looking for a photo that embodies the first few weeks of Seton Hill student life. If you have that pic, or think you can get one within the week, you will have the honor of being the first published contributor of The Setonian 2004-2005 year--on the online site.

I know you probably aren't jumping up and down at the prospect, but this would be a sweet addition: newspaper/online Setonian contributor, to your co-curricular transcript that SHU requires. I will accept most e-mails with pic attachments. You can contact me at writerone01@hotmail.com if you are interested.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2004

Fall Down a Flight of Stairs...

...laughing. Come on you know you want to do it.

It's about time these guys get some publicity. I have been laughing at them all summer, seemingly alone.

If you don't know what I am talking about, the Cellar Dwellars are an improv group that performs regularly in Beaver County. Through their blog, however, anyone can enjoy their antics without wasting money on gas, which should be spent on over-priced textbooks.

I am digressing...Consistently humorous with a cynical, yet lovable, wit, the Cellar Dwellars' blog is a laugh every time--even if it is hosted by Blogger.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:01 PM

August 12, 2004

Future Promos for Class Blogs

After the last orientation, I have a definite impression of polar sympathies from SHU students on blogging. Those that love it--love it forever, those that hate it--always will, and those that are in the middle, well, they'll blog, but will villify it in public and will downplay their own role in the blogosphere.

The 2008 blog has had minimal freshman-to-freshman success, and I don't know if it is because of those promoting it (the term "bloginator" does denote a psychotic tendency) or if we haven't given it enough press within the orientation sessions. I think the latter.

This year, we tried to tell our groups what blogging is in a five minute span during the introductions/icebreaker period, but not every group had a leader familiar with blogging. The handout did help, but the newbies die under the paperwork they give on the first day; why would they want to figure out something else?

As I commented, we need a session devoted to blogging next year. With a hands-on introduction in a computer lab, the students may become more comfortable coming back to the site and posting. I do understand their insecurities; blogging is a big step--you reveal much about yourself, sometimes with the smallest phrase, but we need to let them know that blogging is not evil. We would not even have to make it an hour long like some of the other sessions--five minutes of a well-organized speech and ten minutes of log-on would be sufficient for the freshmen to get a better grasp on what blogging is.

As for past orientations and blogging press, it really hasn't been pretty. I don't want people to lie and say that they love it, but I would ask that they cast blogging in a positive light, despite their own inhibitions about the software/community/style that blogging entails. As OAs we are required to display this type of behavior, and as such, we should do it for everything that Seton Hill offers--including the blogging community.

The Class of 2008 blog can offer a positive environment for those who are really trying to meet people; I hope we don't let our personal biases interfere with great opportunities for others.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:52 AM | Comments (10)

August 4, 2004

Ms. Liberty meets Security:
A match made in terrorism

Though I didn't get to visit the interior of the Statue of Liberty on my recent trip to NYC, I am happy to see that this beautiful monument's pedastal has reopened.

While watching the reopening news coverage a couple days ago, a reporter mentioned that the statue, one day, may be open to the public as well. What a shame that "one day" will probably the park service's response until the color-coded terror alert system is abolished.

But I won't dwell on the negative; instead, I will thank all things electronic and internetish for the opportunity to see the interior of the statue without breaking federal laws or climbing any steps. The NYC skyline does look a bit different in these pictures, but in turn, they remind us why the monument was closed.

According to this BBC article, the public can look upon the interior structure through a glass ceiling, which does make me want to visit the statue again.

_39914898_statue_liberty_inf416.gifBBC News

However, I must ask: Is this a bold move toward freeing ourselves from the effect on terrorism or just another way to inhibit America by subjecting visitors to several security screenings?

The thought of Lady Liberty's head being blown off does make me in favor of the security precautions. However, the more we "secure" ourselves, the more we box ourselves in--in this case, at Liberty's feet.

Familiar, very familiar. I felt the same way when airline officials searched my bag for nail clippers.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:34 PM | Comments (3)

July 19, 2004

BEWARE: Toe Sucker

There is a strange man sucking toes in Greensburg.

Though this man has been apprehended, I now fear for my flip flopped ones. Let's hope copycats do not surface.

I can just imagine what the victims said to the police.

Maybe I could join a self-defense class. Or wear more socks.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:34 AM | Comments (7)

July 1, 2004

Movie Tech Decision

I have a combination DVD/VHS recorder, but I don't know which I like better. Let's try a little pro-con analysis.

dvd.jpg VS. vhs.jpg

DVD Pros
1. Digital
2. Neat menus
3. Will not break
4. Does not need rewound
5. Sound capabilities
6. Extra features
7. Easy storage

DVD Cons
1. Scratch very easily
2. Loading time
3. Expensive

VHS Pros
1. Inexpensive
2. Old movies are usually in this format
3. No loading time
4. My rewinder doesn't feel obsolete.

VHS Cons
1. Can break
2. Crackly sound, if old
3. Cabinet space sucking

While I love DVDs, VHS are more cost effective. DVD to rent, VHS to buy. My home entertainment quandary is solved.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:43 PM | Comments (4)

June 26, 2004

"Babydoll, What's with that t-shirt?"

Shopping with your best pal is bliss, especially when you have money, time, and that friend is a fashion goddess. (Thanks Kiz--everyone liked the Orient-inspired dress at work).

Karissa came over to stay for a couple of days and we shopped on Friday. While I will not fill this space with the intracacies of reunited friends, as important as they are, I will mention one very disturbing element of our shopping experience.

Babydoll T-shirts.

Everywhere tees, small enough to fit preschoolers, proclaimed sexual innuendos. "Young, willing and eager" was especially offensive. Do young women actually view themselves this way?

I know they want to look cute in these smaller versions of their Hanes and Fruit of the Loom cousins, but the lettering on their new pink tee has a message--one they may not understand.

Pre-teen girls, in that odd stage when one is between sizes, will buy from both the ladies' and girls' sections. If shopping alone, a ten year-old, hypothetically speaking, could pick a pretty rainbow-colored tee that fits perfectly; but what they don't know is that the number portrayed, quite beautifully in ROYGBIV, has significance beyond mathematical equations.

While I do think that clothing is a great way of expressing yourself, I also feel that the women wearing these clothes don't know the effect of wearing these messages, strewn, I might add, across the chest.

I really didn't want his entry to become a rant about the degredation of America's female youth, but that is what this has turned into. I do think that women are getting smarter about what they wear. I just fear for the girls that don't buy clothes with their mom's supervision. Gosh, that is sad.

FYI: I am going to get a blogger tee, and I want all of my blogging buddies to sign it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:07 PM | Comments (8)

June 3, 2004

Girls gone wonderful (librarians included)

As an advocate of the T-length dress, the turtle neck, and pretty, modest clothing, I am happy to hear that someone feels the same way.

Ella Gunderson, god bless her fabric-loving heart, wants a more modest wardrobe; however, she did not find anything to suit her tastes at Nordstrom, so she wrote a letter to the store.

However, I didn't know how to take this statement:

"It's kind of like a sexy take on a librarian," she said. "I think people are tired of seeing so much skin and want to leave a little more to the imagination."

I was, as an aide at the wonderful Mt. Pleasant Library, disgruntled. Why do people always stereotype the librarian? Can't librarians be sexy too? I mean, we don't all wear long black skirts, tightly pinned buns, and horn-rimmed glasses. After all, if we did we wouldn't be able to crawl after children at story hour, climb behind the shelves for hiding paperbacks, or carry chairs from presentations. This Gigi Solif Schanen, fashion editor at Seventeen magazine, quoted in the article does not know anything about the nextgen librarian.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:03 PM | Comments (3)

May 26, 2004

Too old for Hollywood?

Will the characters in Harry Potter outgrow their roles? And if so, how will they mask their adult transformation (I sound like an episode of X-treme Makeover). Though the alterations to mask their growth probably won't be as obvious as Debra Messing's pregnancy on Will and Grace ("Let's give her a big purse"), I wonder how they will do it.

I have been amazed by the amount of child stars that have been welcomed into the American entertainment industry far beyond their tender years. Lindsay Lohan, Hillary Duff, Haley Joel Osment, and most notably, the Olsen twins.

Why the shift? When Shirley Temple outgrew the curls and tap dancing, she was thrown into child star obscurity. What is it that makes these child stars die, and others remain?

Is it the star as a person or actress that makes the difference (looks, charisma)? Or does it have to do with the films they do? Harry Potter, for example, has an incredible cult following. I have a theory. With some projects, such as The Lord of the Rings, the characters go on to other films and have great success. Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen have each had success after LOTR. Not all of their success can be attributed to the trilogy. Perhaps they do possess other skills besides looking broodingly into a camera.

But back to child stars--When talking film history, Shirley Temple was up for the role in The Wizard of Oz, but Judy Garland was cast.

Executives at Loewes, Inc., owner of MGM, were nervous about having Judy in the lead of such an expensive film, since her box office popularity was -- as yet -- not well established. So they insisted that Mayer test Shirley Temple for the part. Roger Edens, Judy's vocal coach and greatest supporter was sent to Twentieth Century-Fox to test Shirley's singing voice, and of course he reported back to MGM-boss Louis B. Mayer that there was no way Shirley could play the part.

I think in this case, America was introduced to Garland as an adolescent, rather than child, and her growth into adulthood wasn't a shock. For Temple, however, her Wizard of Oz knockoff: The Blue Bird, was her first failure; some say because she was growing up.

Instead it was Temple's biggest flop and the beginning of the end of her career. The bluebird, it seems, doesn't bring happiness to everyone.

I guess the biggest question I entertain (excuse the pun, of course) is: "Do we like the child star for their ability, looks, or age they embody?" I really do not know, but I have to say that the Olsen twins, Lindsay Lohan, and Hillary Duff cannot act. I think it has something to do with how easily puberty has been on their skin.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:58 AM | Comments (4)

May 19, 2004

Colonial?

Advertisements. Better than television shows. FYI: Adrants is a great place to view the latest campaigns.

Anyway, I noticed a new campaign for Colonial House, a new reality series by PBS, in Time magazine. The best full page spread was of a pig. Above it: SPAM 1628.

I loved the clever ad, but I couldn't believe that PBS had gone over to the "dark side". Reality series Hell. What ever happened to Bert, Ernie, Big Bird and Mr. Rodgers?

Before I hyperventilated on the extinction of all things puppet and red cardiganish, I decided to give the show a try. I watched it last evening and was surprised, but not impressed.

The show started out well. They all obeyed the rules. However, as the night progressed, the "colonists" began disobeying them; restrictions, such as attending the Sabbath and covering their heads (women), were quickly thrown aside, in rebellion against the governor--the leader of the colony, and the 1628 lifestyle. And then they all got drunk. Instead of offering a harsher punishment the voiceover said what the "would have happened" in a real situation. Isn't this supposed to be real?

I mean, you can't burn someone at the stake for heresy on television when they do not attend church; but you can suspend them from the show. They got away with everything. The big question is "Can 21st century Americans live the 17th century colonist life?" Apparently we cannot.

With this series, there isn't a winner or elimination rounds. If the colonists decide to disagree with their governor, they do it with some small penalty, such as a scarlet letter or standing at a post for a couple of hours. Give me a break. How can this work? It takes them away from work--and they do not experience the same shame colonists in 1628 would have endured. They just laugh it off. "I said the F-word. hehe."

Then the dramatics began. I will not waste the space.

Reasserting my opinion of reality television, this is a fall from grace for public television. My Reading Rainbow heart is weeping.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:46 PM | Comments (6)

April 27, 2004

Worst Corporate Website

For my communications course, I am presenting a corporate communications plan for my employer, JK's County Market.

To get the goods on the overall company I went to the corporate site. Have you ever seen a site as hideous as this?! And it represents the entire company! Though individual stores have better pages, this is a definite no-no in attracting a younger audience to your store.

Number 1 on my list of bad websites: County Market.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:02 PM | Comments (4)

April 24, 2004

Framing Five

5. Finished Setonian edits--considerably less than last time. Go writers!!! Though we generally have a problem with punctuation, the content of the articles is solid.

4. I have developed a thesis for my Lit paper. It is on The Awakening and "The Yellow Wallpaper." What do you think?

Though both pieces depict feminist issues relative to the era, "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a better representation of the historical reality at the turn of the century; the protagonist’s character development (her submissiveness to her husband), internal struggles (facing the battle of duty to her children and family), and descriptions (real, tinged with cynicism) in Gilman’s piece indicates an environment closer to actuality, an element Chopin's novel lacks.

3. Preparing my stomach for my cousin Amy's wedding shower (the one who leaves comments on the blogs). I am sooo ready for the treats they have planned for us. However, I am kind of scared. My church's hall is known for mice. They are leaving the food up there over night. If only they had bushy tails. Speaking of which, I almost ran over a squirrel today. He was a quick one though. I took it as a good omen for the next week.

2. Attended a leadership conference with Tom Seager. OAs, new RA's and old ones, as well as people that just wanted to become a better leader attended. I loved it. Totalling interactive, and not cheesy at all, which they usually are. (*cough* Connections *cough*). We had a great time playing with play doh, doing icebreakers, and other group activities. My mom did yell at me though for not calling. I didn't bring my cell to school. I sort of got the heat off me when my sis came home late. Pretty pathetic, huh? My younger sister has a better life than me. I am writing this on a Friday night. No. Sat. morning. Gotta get some sleep.

1. Seeing the end and realizing that I am going to make it. I am going to be fine. Really. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't be writing this blog. I am not afraid or overstressed anymore. I am beginning to think again. And find myself. I saw a squirrel today. I haven't been looking for them in weeks. I saw one, really saw it. I let my hair down on my way home from SHU. I hurt my vocal chords mimicking Five for Fighting. Summer is calling me--

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:09 AM | Comments (7)

April 22, 2004

Englishy me

The blessing of being an English major is that I can write. The curse is that I love writing so much that in every facet of my academic life, I must apply what I have learned, usually going beyond what the assignment calls for, which can be very time consuming.

In my corporate communications class, for instance; instead of just addressing a well-known company for my crisis analysis, I chose to report on County Market, which involved personal interviews, several online searches and the creation of a website. These are things that I associate with reporters and web writers, both of which I am familiar.

In addition to doing more than the assignment asks, I have to edit, revise, and generally drive myself nuts striving for English excellence within that project. I am not surprised by my craziness at the end of the semester. I have wasted so much time being an English major perfectionist.

However, my English background has been very beneficial. In that same class: Principles of Corporate Communication, I was the only one who knew how to cite sources correctly in MLA style (thanks Dr. Jerz). I was even asked to give a short presentation on the subject, teaching them MLA with the assistance of the Bib Builder.

I have also been a more analytical when it comes to statistical evidence; for instance, one woman in my communications class today gave a statistic from Rosie O'Donnell that said that 20% of American women and 21% of men are gay. She was citing an unreliable source: O'Donnell on a statistic that was substantiated by a Gallup poll. The presenter made it look like a fact, when in reality, the poll was based upon "Americans...best estimate of the American gay and lesbian population." I wanted to get up and scream: "THAT'S NOT RIGHT." Of course I didn't, but I now know to be more critical in what people feed me.

Overall being an English major has called me to rise above being an "ok" SHU student. As Barbara Miller, my librarian pal and novelist said, "You can't give yourself permission to write badly." I think I suffer and excel with that mentality, but right now I think the suffering is more acute. Perhaps I will feel differently in a few weeks when grades are distributed.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:56 PM | Comments (12)

April 10, 2004

Atkins Dieting: A cashier's response

Though exiting the County Market cashier scene for a while, I think I may have something to add to Karissa's piece on dieting:

In January, I checked out mountains of meat and products with ATKINS APPROVED on the shrinkwrapped packages in colorful letters. I can understand why the bread companies have lost money.

In February, I answered about a trillion questions concerning the low-carb aisle. Apparently the store thought that the dieting craze was so lucrative that they decided to develop an entire line of the products specializing in Atkinsian Theory. I wonder if it will go bust by the end of the year.

In March, I noticed people going back to their old habits. They would fill up their buggy first with the "healthy" low carb stuff and then peruse the shelves for the missing elements of their diet, rationalizing those potato chips, bread and the three boxes of Little Debbie cakes they throw into their cart. "Its just one time," they think, "just once."

In April, everything is pretty much back to normal. Easter brings ham with sugar glaze, bread, and butter, as usual; though an occasional Atkins bar does pass my scanner.

My friend Karisa, a fellow cashier (not to be mistaken for Karissa) is on the diet and I don't understand why a large container of her antipasta: meat and cheese slathered in some oily dressing is better than a couple of gummi worms, which she insists is.

Is she even on the diet? She seems to think so. And she thinks she has lost weight. Maybe she has, but it may not be attributed to Atkins--it may just be her efforts to control what she is eating, especially the quantity (that is, with the exception of the antipasta). I think it may be the same with lots of people. They think they have lost so much weight because of the diet itself, but it may really be the meticulous attention they spend on the amount of what they consume.

My verdict: Many customers are returning to their habits of chips, bread, and pop. The low carb aisle will eventually get dusty and Atkins will enter the fad annals, filed closely with "The Macarena", snap bracelets, and parachute pants.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:48 AM | Comments (4)

April 9, 2004

Fire Safety and SHU

Fire Drill Procedure Sign 2nd Maura computer lab
When alarm sounds
1. Step into corridor
2. Keep silence
3. Leave building by the nearest exit
4. Walk-single file-DO NOT RUN
5. Report immediately for roll call to location assigned
6.Remain at assigned location until signal ins given for return
7.Do not use elevators during actual fire or fire drill
Seton Hill College 1972 $25 fine for removal of this sign.

I can't help but laugh at this sign. While printing out my research in this lab, I looked up, and this dusty, rusty-stapled sign greeted my tired eyes. Over 30 years old, the sign is more fitting for high school kids. Amibiguous? I think so...it doesn't even give exact instructions on where the closest exit is.

And how about the procedures? College students in single-file lines--don't think so. Silence? Roll call? Have I missed something?

I remember a conversation in which my pyrophobic pal and firefighter chica were talking about fire prevention and SHU. They weren't happy with the current situations. Any suggestion for fire safety at SHU?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:26 PM | Comments (4)

April 8, 2004

Seated Eternity

Football seats mark man's grave via USA Today

MOUNT LEBANON, Pa. — Paul Wellener's family found the perfect marker for his grave: two blue plastic seats from the Three Rivers Stadium auction. Wellener, a lifelong football fan and a Pittsburgh Steelers season ticket holder for 42 years, died unexpectedly on March 16. Wellener's son, Paul, and widow, Mary Ann, bought three pairs of stadium seats for $2,100 at an auction — and knew they had found the perfect gravestone.

How do you want to be remembered? By old, plastic seats. I guess it is fitting--I mean he did spend 42 years of his life sitting in Three Rivers. Those seats are kind of small though--I would go for a couch or something. You could get a really nice couch for $2,100. I mean, we are talking about eternal bliss aren't we? (No, not really.)

And what about theft? $2,100 seats sitting unprotected in a graveyard doesn't sound practical. I mean, they sound like a pretty lucrative black market E-Bay-esque item.

Then I reflect upon my own grave marker--What do I want? Hmmm. This is getting morbid. But really, whomever is alive when I am gone--please don't buy Carmike Cinema seats for my soul to languish away on post mortem. I'd prefer a couch--a pink one...or one of those butterfly chairs that people keep stealing from SHU. That would be heavenly.

*FYI-on that page: Slightly off center..., there are three other stories on western PA--could this be a one day thing, or is PA just odd? Hmmm.

Conscience: Stop it, Amanda! Save your brain power for your research papers. What are you doing on your blog anyway? You should be working!

Me: Ah, shut up. Will ya? I'll get everything done. I needed to update my blog...everyone will think that I got sick or something.

C: LAME! Procrastinator.

M: Na uh.

C: Yes huh.

The battle wages on...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:29 PM | Comments (3)

April 6, 2004

Anonymity & Blogs

On the SHU blogosphere, I have been noticing more and more aliases, such as Michael and ME. Though some names, such as Kiz and Miz are really nice, these "other" names do not permit the reader to know who is speaking. And the blogger feels like they are censoring their material when they delete those comments.

Perhaps some have noticed that I have taken down the comments-without-valid-e-mail-addresses-will-be-deleted message at the top of my page; that has not changed--I will do that: I just thought it cluttered up my homepage. Though I haven't had a problem recently with this, the NMJ site has.

Though Dr. Jerz cannot trace these comments, maybe they should be deleted; perhaps this action would send the message that a valid name is as important as the comment itself. At the beginning of all the semesters, bloggers are urged to use their own name, or explain an alias; however, this rule has been relaxed this semester.

Aliases are fun little ways for friends to communicate (and that is okay as long as an explanation is there); however, they can also be a way to hide one's identity--an abuse of blogging. The entire idea of a weblog is to get your ideas out there--accountability for those views. I hope to see more of that in the future.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:51 AM | Comments (9)

April 5, 2004

A Building Consultant

I am on the "Steering Committee" for the Board of Trustees on the building plans (ie. the rec center, classrooms, dorms, etc) at SHU. I am also writing a story on The Setonian about this.

If anyone has any suggestions, gripes, whatever, please leave them here or speak with me in person (quotes for the paper). I need to know what to ask specifically about and get an idea of what many students want or believe.

The SHU administration seems really interested in what the students have to say; they have four reps--two main and two alternates. Though they may not agree or change anything, I am heartened by the communications effort. Maybe I should just give them a link to the blogs--that would save them a lot of time :-D

Your input will be much appreciated. Your school. Your tuition. Your world. Go ahead, speak out.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:12 PM | Comments (2)

April 1, 2004

Fishy fitness

From Newsday:

A 365-million-year-old arm bone fossil found in Pennsylvania came from one of the first creatures able to do push-ups, an evolutionary step that was necessary for animals to move from the sea to dry land.

I can see it now...fish pumping themselves to shore. Though I do not put much stock into the ideas of evolution, if true, this would be an incredible sight: a fish doing push-ups all from the beaches to Pennsylvania. They must have been pretty buff to go all that way from the Atlantic. Or was water everywhere? Did they come from the lakes? Not really sure. I guess I will let the Ross Gellars (palentologist on Friends) take care of the details.

And here you thought the only thing in PA was cold weather, colleges, and riled up students that hate or love athletics...

NO! In addition, we have fossilized fish (aren't they amphibians?) with pecs. What joy is mine. Ah, the Keystone State.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:22 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2004

Woe to Reuters

Reuters

The anti-abortion National Right to Life Committee strongly backs the legislation. But the American Civil Liberties Union has called it a "thinly veiled attempt to create fetal rights and further erode women's reproductive rights."

Notice the lack of quotes for the NRLC...Can someone say "biased"?

And what about the issue at hand? They are protecting unborn children and not fetuses. They are the same thing. So if the child is loved, such as in the Laci Peterson case, the child has a right to live and be called "unborn" while an unwanted child from a rape is called a "fetus"? There is something incredibly wrong with this reasoning.

I do understand the whole thing with Laci--that she would have had the child within a few weeks. But when does life begin?

"This issue is not as simple as it seems at first glance," Feinstein said. "Clearly there is a concerted effort to codify in law the legal recognition that life begins at conception."
DeWine's bill applies to an "unborn child" at "any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." The assailant does not have to know that the woman was pregnant.

Any stage in development--that means at one or two months. A woman could be on her way to have an abortion, get killed in a car accident and the person driving could be tried for a double vehicular homicide.

Or in the case of this bill, a woman could be riding down the road on her way to getting an abortion, be driven off the road, beaten to death and the murderer could be tried for a double slaying. Something is really wrong with this picture.

I digress. My original intent was to complain about Joanne Kenen's reporting skills; with a subject as complex as this, give all sides. Do not paraphrase one side's view. Come on.

Maybe I should try to take her job at Reuters someday. :-D But I did something a reporter should never do--give one's opinion. Oh, well. My blog.

*I would like to give credit to my wonderful RTA Michelle Farabaugh for bringing this subject to the surface today in my STW class. She has a way of making us think in our THINKING & Writing course. Great job today, girl. The political cartoons were such a nice change from parenthetical citations (:-() :-D!!!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2004

Making us look even worse

From Washington Post:

"We're all devastated by Jack's betrayal of the public trust and our trust," Editor Karen Jurgensen said yesterday. "It's unfair to the people involved in the stories, unfair to readers and unfair to all the honest journalists who worked for years to build USA Today. We're committed to making sure this never happens again and learning from this awful experience."

Celebrities hate journalists. Politicians hate reporters. And now, people like correspondent Jack Kelley give them more ammo.

Journalists are liars in the public's eye. And now real reporters must cover this because it is their job to do so, hacking off their own hand as they write it. Kelley has just made it a little harder for journalists to get the story: the interview, the quote that could perhaps change the course of history.

Why should people trust journalists? Why do they should they give us anything? Thanks J. Kelley for making them mad at us even more.

And I thought misspellings and punctuation mistakes would make the public mad!

Just a little note: The article states that this betrayal of journalistic integrity surpasses that of Jayson Blair. I think they are even in their creative writing skills.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:42 PM | Comments (3)

March 15, 2004

Misunderstood Mom or Mad Murderer?

3_21_031204_csectionwoman.jpg Fox News

AP--SALT LAKE CITY — The woman charged with murder for allegedly refusing a Caesarean section (search) that doctors say would have saved her twins pleaded not guilty Monday.

Since this story is just developing, I want to do a little experiment based upon the news coverage in this case.

After reading Sophie Treadwell's Machinal and the portrayal of reporters as biased story-creators (not reporters), I have decided to ask you, wonderful blogging pals, for a favor.

Which source, Fox News, Reuters, or KSL-online coverage, is the most sympathetic? Objective? Or can't you tell the difference?

If you can find an article that is completely one way or another, please post a link. I would love to talk about this.

What made the piece biased? The selection of quotes, the author's voice? How does the view of the organization or reporter intrude upon the facts of the case?

I urge everyone to participate, even if it is a few words.

I am not stating my opinion right now, but who knows? Maybe I will let something slip in my coverage. :) Or have I already. The woman looks so much like Charlize Theron in Monster it is creepy--put upon creepy.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:14 PM | Comments (3)

March 4, 2004

Bye! Bye!

HOLLYWOOD, March 4, 2004 -- After Wednesday's stunning 43 percent withhold board vote in Philadelphia for Disney chief Michael Eisner, the company's board named former Sen. George Mitchell, chairman of the entertainment giant.
Hollywood.com reports.

Let's hope George Mitchell will bring Disney back from the sequel madness. And what about Pixar? Will the new chairman bring back Nemos and Toy Storys for us to enjoy?

Hope so.

Or will they return to their roots with films like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Snow White? I hope so. They really need a hit. Lilo and Stitch just didn't cut it.

I propose a good fairy tale. Rapunzel or Rumpelstiltzkin would be a great change from the infantile aliens that plague the cinemas. Haunted Mansion...need I say more?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:49 PM | Comments (3)

February 28, 2004

Merged Illusions!

Kermit and Minnie? I don't know if I like the combination. I mean, what about Miss Piggy (she needs her Kermie), and poor Mickey without his lady fair?

kermit_mickey.jpg Muppet Central

Or could this all be some sort of integration within the cartoon world. Expanding horizons. None of them are married. I think.

Could this partnering be the spawn of the Barbie and Ken breakup>? I really don't know.

Muppets and Disney...As terrible as Cinderella 2? I hope not.

Eisner has more important things to worry about, I suppose.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:23 PM | Comments (8)

February 17, 2004

Setonian challenges

I have been a writer for The Setonian since this past fall. I have never gotten an assignment in on-time for various unmentioned reasons. I have to be the worst journalism major in the history of SHU.

Anyway, I have been faced in the last three assignments with several obstacles. First it was the Black History Month article. I felt, as a white writer, I would not do justice to the story, and my reporting would be a biased representation. Thankfully that story has gone to print without any retractions.

The second challenge occurred with the J-Term article I was to do for the Mexico trip. As it turns out, the Mexico trip was not a J-Term and I did not have an article.

Now I am working on an article that discusses the student athlete study halls. Do you like them? What are the drawbacks? Etc.

Yesterday, I stayed on-campus to interview some of the baseball players for the article. I went to Sullivan and waited for their practice at 3:30. When 3:00 rolled around, I went up to the gym level (smelling of man, sweat, and wet terrycloth) and approached one of the players, assuming he would have ONE minute to spare.

He said that he would talk to me some other time. RIGHT!

So I calmly excused myself, softly calling him a jerk repeatedly down the spiral staircase.

Then I got the wounded ones in the trainer's office. You would be surprised what you can get out of aching, incapacitated men who are already irritable about being laid up and still have to attend study halls :-)

Yes, these assignments have been a challenge, some stinky, but I am learning so much from this practicum.

In the past I have asked myself many questions about my journalistic future. When I have to report on a murder victim that has been decomposing for a month in the hot summer sun how will I react, or when I talk to an irresponsive politician or CEO how will I get my quote? Now I have a better idea: with nose plugs and a good dose of confidence from SHU news writing.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:36 PM | Comments (23)

February 12, 2004

How many in house?

160 people in an Arizona house!!! Can you believe it?

How many people could I fit in my home? At least 40 could fit in my closet. Hmmm. I think if they were "sitting shoulder to shoulder, back to back," I think at least 200, that is if they could stand my nasty basement. :-)Stranger things have happened.

**My lit class has been freed of iambic pentameter days. Prose is god! Poetry is of the angels. Iambic pentameter is evil.**

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 6, 2004

Kazaa Mates!

"This is a knee-jerk reaction by the recording industry to discredit Sharman Networks and the Kazaa software, following a number of recent court decisions around the world that have ruled against the entertainment industry's agenda to stamp out peer-to-peer technology," the company said in a prepared statement.

The Kazaa kingdom may be faltering. Though I haven't used this software (and will not), I have heard from many classmates that this is supposedly lawful.

Hmmm. Maybe not. In Australia, official are raiding the offices of Kazaa employees. No happy corporate kangaroos down under today.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:32 PM | Comments (5)

February 3, 2004

Never a fan

So I have never been a sports fan or a Sports section fan. I have never taken an interest in the Super Bowl. I love entertainment spectaculars, and people that make a difference in it, but this Jackson Super Bowl thing is definitely not one of those moments or one of those people.

Miss Jackson is placing more scandal on her own, already over-covered, surname. If I have to hear about MJ talking about his stay in prison one more time, or his case, or his lawyers, I think I am going to scream. Oh look, I have the Jacksons in my terminology: SCREAM: a duet between the breast princess and the alleged child molester.

I understand the importance of publicity, but does this really mean we are lowering ourselves to this level--to their level?

Needless to say, I didn't watch the Super Bowl--even for the commercials.

Televison! BAH! However, I will be fair: the movies they have on AMC, TCM, occasionally the networks, provide me with enough fun for an evening. But they aren't real television, are they? But I do believe they provide more reality than the supposed reality television so many people are hooked on.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:36 PM | Comments (3)

January 29, 2004

NOTE TO SELF

HONORS SEMINAR TOMORROW!!!!!! GO TO CLASS!!!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:18 PM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2004

Mikerowesoft goes down

No, not the big site, the little one run by 17-year old student, Mike Rowe.

It turns out the student/web designer named his site, well, after himself, and was shut down due to lost traffic and threatened legal action by the big guys. This is quite a story.

One thing sticks out in my mind, though, the motivation behind Microsoft's threatened action--

"The [legal] letter said customers of Microsoft could also be confused by his domain name..."

I can understand if Google makes a mistake and takes one to Rowe's site, but if an individual gets Microsoft mixed up with Mikerowesoft, I must say that that person shouldn't be near a computer...

And the best part is, when I looked up Mikerowesoft on Google, the little autocorrect tool came up and said, "Did you mean to search for Microsoft?"

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:50 PM | Comments (2)

The great convergence

Rusty Coats, director of new media at MORI Research, says the fact that so many different paths are being tried by organizations producing the same product shows that "this is definitely an industry in transition."

OJR reports that more news staffs are allowing online reporters into the main newsroom. Though we covered convergence in my fall class, "The Practice of Journalism", I did not know that online journalists have been sent to other buildings and even basements to report news. Somehow, I though that reporters worked side-by-side--print and online--to come up with the best stories, working cooperatively.

Thankfully that is all changing...

I suppose years ago an online staff must have seemed like a fad, but there really isn't an excuse now. CONVERGE! CONVERGE!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:41 AM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2004

Bush gone spacey

Bush has planned to go to Mars--some of us wish HE would. In any case, a 2015 trip (for NASA) is planned with a $12 billion price tag.

Though space exploration is the "final frontier", do we have to forget the little people on the big blue and green ball? What about the human piece of the pie? Just a little more for the people that we already know exist...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:35 PM | Comments (4)