February 2009 Archives

The death of field reporting = the death of news

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If field reporting dies out, the world will become a less known place. Vast areas will simply not be covered, and those that are will not be covered from multiple perspectives. Precisely because reporters are imperfect, because they by necessity capture only a fragment of reality, it is essential that numerous firsthand accounts exist.   --The Death of the News

I have to admit that the idea of newspapers dying out really scares me. But this has been happening for the majority of my lifetime, if not all of it. I remember in middle school having to sell our puny school paper for $.50 a copy, and it wasn't a big surprise that no one wanted to buy it... Then in high school, our publication was distributed for free, because our advertising paid for it. But, students threw the paper in the trash without taking much time to read the "news" section. Kids usually navigated straight to the features and entertainment sections. I'll even admit that before I actually worked on the staff for my high school paper, I rarely read the paper at all. And, I'm ashamed of that. But the fact remains that people don't care to read about something that they can just watch on tv. And, with the rising population of bloggers, people are spreading their own news without the need for the media's interpretation. 
If we lose field reporting, though, I feel like journalism as a whole will come to a halt. Sure bloggers can do a great job writing about topics, but what point does it serve without quotes? When I was in high school, my journalism teacher always enforced the use of as many quotes as possible. The point of being a journalist is not to share our own opinions (with the exception of columns and sometimes reviews), but to share with the public the opinions and thoughts of their peers. Even if we do not always see eye to eye, it is essential to provide the whole story. What kind of news story doesn't have any direct quotes from the eye witnesses? Without field reporting, without interviewing, what's the point in calling yourself a journalist?

EL 200 Portfolio #1

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(1)             Freshman Jessie Krehlik contributed to the February edition of The Setonian: The Student Voice of the Hill as part of her obligation for EL200, Media Lab. The objective of this course is to give students the opportunity to earn credit for working on the staff of The Setonian. Apart from writing the occasional article for The Setonian, students are also expected to donate some of their spare time to the production of the physical paper as well.  Depending on the amount of work available, students can do a variety of jobs to help the higher staff members with production. Although Krehlik has experience in copy editing from her days as a copy editor for The Royal, her high school publication, she did not have the opportunity to copy edit this issue of The Setonian. Fellow freshman, Aja Hannah, had the same problem, "Every time I went down to work on the paper, no one was there, or there were no articles to edit," she said.

            Krehlik currently aspires to learn layout design from the current Layout Editor, Maddie Gillespie; however, because many students turned their articles for this issue in late, Gillespie and Krehlik could not find a common time to work on the issue together. Thus, Krehlik only contributed to this paper in two ways: Krehlik wrote an article for the issue and helped with distribution on Thursday.

            For this issue, Krehlik wrote an article about the current state of several of Seton Hill's dormitories. In order to produce a well crafted article, Krehlik spent time interviewing several students as well as one member of the Seton Hill Faculty, Dr. Robin Anke, Director of Residence Life. Krehlik's contribution did not end with simply writing the article. According to Dr. Jerz, advisor for The Setonian, even Dr. JoAnne Boyle, President of Seton Hill University took the time to read Krehlik's article.

            Finally, to finish her contribution to this issue of The Setonian, Krehlik spent part of her morning last Thursday distributing copies of The Setonian throughout the University. Krehlik strategically placed newspapers in locations where she knew students would be likely to look. These locations include the two end tables at either side of the third floor of Administration, the table outside the dining hall where other fliers always sit and wait for students to pick up and one of the ledges in the commuter lounge. Krehlik finished her rounds by hand-delivering several copies of the paper to India, The Setonian's new Ad Manager, who had requested a few copies be placed in The Setonian office.


(2) I have great expectations for  The Setonian Online. As I stated in a previous blog entry, I think it would be great if we could incorporate more photographs to the site. At the same time, we could easily publish many more articles online that we usually don't have room for in the regular publication, such as more movie/book/music reviews and columns. We could update once or twice a week, which would allow us to have more timely articles.

(3) For my realistic agenda, I would like to find a way to write special articles for The Setonian Online more frequently than when the issues of the regular publication are released. I would love to have a special section to myself for writing reviews for music or books, or even movies, because I go to the movies almost every weekend. For my unrealistic agenda, I would like to contribute to the design of a new website for The Setonian Online, because our current site is rather boring...no offense to anyone. I have some experience with layout, but would love the opportunity to learn more about Adobe Dreamweaver and other programs like that.

(4) All that I can really ask from Dr. Jerz is access to Adobe CS3. I know I mentioned this in class, but our current programs for layout are a little outdated, and I feel like the whole production aspect of our paper would run much smoother if we did not have to worry about the program closing down in the middle of major revisions. I would also like to learn more about Flash and Dreamweaver.

(5) As I said in #4, the journalism program could definitely benefit from a software upgrade. A hardware upgrade might not be a bad idea, but I know that Mac computers are very expensive, so that might not be as realistic as upgrading our current software. It might even be beneficial to encourage the journalism students to take a class in InDesign and Photoshop so that everyone will know how to do the basics.

(6) As Dr. Jerz already suggested, I think we should focus our energy on improving The Setonian Online. For our class project, maybe we could all work on creating a new and improved website, with added features and a larger variety of articles than simply what is featured in the regular publication. But, at this point, I think our main priority should be making The Setonian Online look more professional. The current website looks very outdated.

EL 200 Portfolio #1

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(1)             Freshman Jessie Krehlik contributed to the February edition of The Setonian: The Student Voice of the Hill as part of her obligation for EL200, Media Lab. The objective of this course is to give students the opportunity to earn credit for working on the staff of The Setonian. Apart from writing the occasional article for The Setonian, students are also expected to donate some of their spare time to the production of the physical paper as well.  Depending on the amount of work available, students can do a variety of jobs to help the higher staff members with production. Although Krehlik has experience in copy editing from her days as a copy editor for The Royal, her high school publication, she did not have the opportunity to copy edit this issue of The Setonian. Fellow freshman, Aja Hannah, had the same problem, "Every time I went down to work on the paper, no one was there, or there were no articles to edit," she said.

            Krehlik currently aspires to learn layout design from the current Layout Editor, Maddie Gillespie; however, because many students turned their articles for this issue in late, Gillespie and Krehlik could not find a common time to work on the issue together. Thus, Krehlik only contributed to this paper in two ways: Krehlik wrote an article for the issue and helped with distribution on Thursday.

            For this issue, Krehlik wrote an article about the current state of several of Seton Hill's dormitories. In order to produce a well crafted article, Krehlik spent time interviewing several students as well as one member of the Seton Hill Faculty, Dr. Robin Anke, Director of Residence Life. Krehlik's contribution did not end with simply writing the article. According to Dr. Jerz, advisor for The Setonian, even Dr. JoAnne Boyle, President of Seton Hill University took the time to read Krehlik's article.

            Finally, to finish her contribution to this issue of The Setonian, Krehlik spent part of her morning last Thursday distributing copies of The Setonian throughout the University. Krehlik strategically placed newspapers in locations where she knew students would be likely to look. These locations include the two end tables at either side of the third floor of Administration, the table outside the dining hall where other fliers always sit and wait for students to pick up and one of the ledges in the commuter lounge. Krehlik finished her rounds by hand-delivering several copies of the paper to India, The Setonian's new Ad Manager, who had requested a few copies be placed in The Setonian office.


(2) I have great expectations for  The Setonian Online. As I stated in a previous blog entry, I think it would be great if we could incorporate more photographs to the site. At the same time, we could easily publish many more articles online that we usually don't have room for in the regular publication, such as more movie/book/music reviews and columns. We could update once or twice a week, which would allow us to have more timely articles.

(3) For my realistic agenda, I would like to find a way to write special articles for The Setonian Online more frequently than when the issues of the regular publication are released. I would love to have a special section to myself for writing reviews for music or books, or even movies, because I go to the movies almost every weekend. For my unrealistic agenda, I would like to contribute to the design of a new website for The Setonian Online, because our current site is rather boring...no offense to anyone. I have some experience with layout, but would love the opportunity to learn more about Adobe Dreamweaver and other programs like that.

(4) All that I can really ask from Dr. Jerz is access to Adobe CS3. I know I mentioned this in class, but our current programs for layout are a little outdated, and I feel like the whole production aspect of our paper would run much smoother if we did not have to worry about the program closing down in the middle of major revisions. I would also like to learn more about Flash and Dreamweaver.

(5) As I said in #4, the journalism program could definitely benefit from a software upgrade. A hardware upgrade might not be a bad idea, but I know that Mac computers are very expensive, so that might not be as realistic as upgrading our current software. It might even be beneficial to encourage the journalism students to take a class in InDesign and Photoshop so that everyone will know how to do the basics.

(6) As Dr. Jerz already suggested, I think we should focus our energy on improving The Setonian Online. For our class project, maybe we could all work on creating a new and improved website, with added features and a larger variety of articles than simply what is featured in the regular publication. But, at this point, I think our main priority should be making The Setonian Online look more professional. The current website looks very outdated.

Unfortunately...if it bleeds, it leads...

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"The obvious starting point -- and one that media analysts say weighs heavily on the minds of editors in all tragedies, not just school shootings -- tends to be the number of victims. Look at the math in the three recent college cases: Virginia Tech (33 dead, dozens injured). Northern Illinois (6 dead, 16 others injured). Louisiana Technical College (3 dead, no injuries)."

Campus shootings are probably one of the hardest things to cover for reporters. While they have to acknowledge that "if it bleeds, it leads," they still have to be sensitive to the victims and their friends and families. The problem with a campus shooting is that, even if there is not a large amount of casualties, many people will be affected regardless. That's just how it goes.

It's like the ultimate catch 22. We have to run the story, because it would almost be insulting to ignore it. But, at the same time, we have to walk on thin ice the entire time, because the last thing anyone wants to do is make anyone feel any worse than they already do. I really hate that the amount of coverage depends on how many victims there are. I don't think that's fair. A life is a life--it shouldn't matter how many lives are taken away. None are any more significant than the next. I know that journalists are always looking for the story to end all stories, but sometimes it's nice when they actually take their audience's opinions into account. This is one instance in which detail is very important. But, at the same time, they need to be careful about what they include in an article, because their worst mistake would obviously be being too graphic. Sure it might be nice to use vivid sensory details, but sometimes these just aren't a good idea.

On a side note, any death is tough to cover in a paper, especially in a scholarly publication. While I was in high school, my school lost at least one student per year. During my junior year of high school, a boy committed suicide, and our publication had to determine whether it would be wise or not to include a story. We ended up running a story, which included multiple quotes from not only the deceased's teenage sister, but also from his parents.In my opinion, this was a huge risk, because involving the victims in the story is almost pushing a little too hard. Although it is important to get the correct story, it never hurts to be considerate of your interview recipient.

Bright Future

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So here's my brainstorming for the Setonian Online...

I really liked the South of Here site. Even though I didn't really understand the whole sheep background, I liked the set up of the site. It's much more modern than our site...right now, our site looks way to basic. It almost looks like a template was used from dreamweaver or something...(no offense if it really was taken directly from a template...)

  • it could definitely use some more variety,not just with the way the articles appear on the page, but with the style of the site in general. 
  • We should really take advantage of flash too. What's the point in learning how to use flash media if we aren't going to apply it to our own product.
  • I hate that the exclusives tab is so far down on the page...shouldn't we be focusing on the exclusives, because they don't make appearances in the actual paper, do they? We should make this either the stories that show up first on the page or the top link, because we need to promote students reading the online-only stories.
  • It also kind of bothers me that the news stories on the main page don't have a date on them. We should fix this, because students have no idea of how old the news might be
  • As for innovation...we could really take advantage of youtube if you think about it. there's a lot we can do with the internet
  • We could even do a daily photo by aero or any of our other photographers...just something unique or unexpected. I noticed that griffin's lair has this feature, and it really intrigued me. Why shouldn't the paper take advantage of our photographers? It's a shame that we can't fit more pictures in our print, so why not take advantage of our open space online?
  • Although I like the set up for the website itself, it seems almost out dated. It's kinda boring, actually. Why not spruce it up? I'm not saying we need to make it magenta or anything, but it would definitely be nice to see something other than grey or a chance...although I don't think we should go with red and gold...just because we would be just as annoying as griffin gate and griffin's lair...
  • Our site really does have the potential for great things. We should take advantage of our assets...why shouldn't we write more articles to feature only online? I also think the idea of linking up podcasts and youtube videos will bring us a new fanbase. We need to find a way to catch our reader's attention though

I guess that's all i have for now...I'm gonna try to think of some more creative ideas, but my creative juices really aren't flowing tonight...

Thin line between Academic and Newswriting

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So this was also a review for me. It kinda surprises me that I remember so much from 11th grade when I first learned about writing news stories. The inverted triangle takes me back...

But now that I look at it in this chart, I didn't realize how much my news writing skills transfer over into my academic writing skills. Although the two are significantly different, some skills can and should be lent to each other. For one, wordiness should be avoided at all costs in a news story. The same thing applies to a good acadmeic piece. Even though it's important to meet the word or page quota, professors aren't all that impressed by starting a sentence with "However, the truth is, neverthe less, that unlike the something, the so-and-so is therefore much..." Okay, you get the point.

Passive voice is a big no-no too. Oops. I just used passive voice. That's probably one of the hardest habits to break as an academic or news writer. It's really difficult sometimes to write a sentence with no passive voice without sounding awkward.

As for staying unbiased, I admit that I end up writing a lot of my academic stuff without as much emotion as I used to. It's just easier to remain objective to get your point across than to throw in a bunch of "this made me feel like" nonsense...

 

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Newsworthiness

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In order for a subject to be worth of reporting, it must land in several of the following categories:

  • unusual event
  • extraordinary event
  • involves notable people
  • timeliness
  • proximity
  • scary/violent (IF IT BLEEDS, IT LEADS)

 

This podcast was really just a review for me. I learned all of this while in high school when I was copy editing for Hempfield's publication, The Royal. I think the most important category out of this list is probably proximity. Of course there can be some exceptions, but usually, it helps when we talk about stuff that's going on close to home. When I was a senior in high school, Jeannette was going nuts because Pryor was taking them to States, and blah blah blah. Anyway, my paper (remember that I went to Hempfield, not Jeannette) decided to cover a story about Pryor's success on the football field and basketball court. Needless to say, it was definately newsworthy. However, when the issue was distributed, our advisor recieved a ton of emails from coaches and teaching staff while some of the newspaper staff received complaints during classes. "Why would Hempfield write an article about Jeannette?" People were so mad! We explained to everyone that it was just something that was newsworthy, but in the end, people were still mad. It's not like it was The Royal's fault that Hempfield's sports teams suck beyond belief...

I guess part of the problem was that the Pryor article took up half of our sports section. Whoops. But anyway, this really shows how important proximity is. Would we still have printed the article knowing everyone's reaction? Probably.

So, at the end of the day, we kinda realized that sometimes it's more important to please your audience than to write an article that will most likely infuriate 2,500 students.

 

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Super Media Intro-Ch1

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Mobile phones are seen as the next platform after TVs and PCs. Mobile phone ownership is up to 3 billion around the world and it is expected that one billion handsets will be sold each year by 2009. The evidence is that the little hand-held screen has set to become a vital portal for Internet access. And while you have that mobile phone for just a few dollars a week, so the cost of delivering the services to it is falling as well. --Super Media, pg. 15

 

So I know that this little paragraph really isn't the whole point of this chapter, but I think it's a pretty important part. Media exchange really is evolving. I know I'm partial to the iPhone, because I have one, but there are tons of other electronic devices that allow you to have internet access wherever you can get a satalite reception. This is useful for both the reporter and the audience. Already we can see a difference in our media. I can snap a picture with my iPhone and zoom it across the World Wide Web onto my facebook profile. I probably don't even need to own a desktop anymore...I can email to myself from the phone, which has a full keyboard (even if it is a little cramped).

It really is convenient, though, to be able to look up anything I need whenever I need it. I don't have to write all over my hands to remind myself to look something up when I get home...I can just get it over with as soon as the little thought pops into my head.

Reporters should definately embrace today's technological advances. Mobile devices allow anyone to be a photographer these days. So even if a reporter arrives on a scene without his trust camera man, he'll be fine. He can at least snap a few shots with his phone so he can be the first to report on the latest bank robbery or whatever.

So I guess the real point of this whole chapter is just that journalism is evolving into something better, and that we all have to be ready for it if we want to make it out alive. When I picked journalism for my major, my dad kept giving me a hard time, saying that it was a waste because no one makes money in that field, but with the way things are progressing, I'm determined to prove him wrong. Just look at our generation. We clearly have the upper hand. I've been playing around on computers and surfing the web since I was six years old. You'd be surprised how many people don't even know that their cd drive only opens if your computer is on...(I learned that one from working at Staples....lol)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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