November 2009 Archives

The Cavalier Daily, similar to The Setonian Online?

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After looking at The Cavalier Daily, I have to say I'm not impressed. I'm really surprised that some of my peers think that it looks better than The Harvard Crimson. The Cavalier Daily just seems boring to me. And there's way too much scrolling. However, I do like that there is a lot more white space on this site...there isn't as much writing, which is good for online writing, because online readers get lost if there's too much text. This site reads a lot like our blogs, which has the same interface as The Setonian Online, so I'm wondering if they used Moveable Type as well. I guess it really doesn't matter, I'm just rambling.
Honestly though, I think this site is a little bland. Their stories don't even include any hyperlinks. I really shouldn't criticize too much, because it's not like the Setonian is the most spectacular online news site...and if you're reading this and you work for this paper, please understand that I'm just being honest.

I do, however, think that the Cavalier Daily is much more impressive than our site, mostly because of the inclusion of multimedia. It really makes the difference.

But there was one thing I REALLY liked about this website. They include a link to  a pdf copy of each daily newspaper issue. Although I like the idea, I wonder if it's not a little redundant. I mean, you have all the print stories online, right? So why even bother with the pdf file? Just thinking aloud...

Crimson Review

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So a lot of my peers had a lot of criticism for The Harvard Crimson. Josie and Angela thought it was pretty mediocre. Although I agree that it could probably be a lot more impressive for an Ivy League school, let's look at the facts. This paper--the literal newspaper publishes daily. So, on top of constant editing and production of the regular paper, the staff has to find time to create online-only content as well. I'm not sure how many people are familiar with The Setonian Online, but our website really isn't all that impressive. This is not a slap in the face to any of the staff members who have contributed to the website. Our media lab last fall was actually dedicated to improving the Setonian Online, but it''s really not all that easy. I'd agree that the Harvard Crimson has some poor areas, but they have a lot of strengths too--I liked the picture slideshows and the video presentations. There wasn't a lot of color, but it did read like a newspaper, which was nice.

I love you so much I just had to kill you.

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A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.

--Browning in Roberts pg. 367

What a way to go. I had to read this a twice before I actually realized what happened. What a way to go, strangled by the one person you adore more than all others. You can kind of read this poem like a confessional. The speaker has no one to tell his story to, so he writes it in a poem for the world to see--I'm sure Browning never committed murder. 

So I guess he just had to kill her because she loved him too much? or did he love her just as much and wanted to make sure she'd love him forever? Once she's dead, what can she do to change the way she feels about him? He has eternally preserved his favorite memory of her, even if it does mean he had to kill her.

What I don't understand is why this woman didn't put up a fight at all. Did she honestly just sit there content while her lover strangled her? Is this supposed to represent unconditional love? 

I don't know what's more messed up, killing the woman who "worships" you or playing with her dead body afterwards. He plays with her eyelids and finally releases her from the strangle. Can you say necrophilia? I gotta say, this was definitely not one of my favorite assigned readings this semester. Necrophilia. Gross.

Prosody Tutorial?

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As a goal, you might try to determine whether and how the prosody of a poem may be used as an organizational element. In an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, for example, the rhymes are important in tying together the development of ideas. In a Shakespearean sonnet there are three 4-line groups (quatrains), each containing the development of a particular idea or image or symbol, and the concluding two lines rhyme and at the same time create a "cap" or idea tying the previous ideas together.

Roberts, 199

First of all, not to be smart, but I honestly don't see myself writing an essay on the phonetics and graphics of a poem. However, I'm happy to say that I've actually learned something new. I never would've though to analyze a poem that thoroughly...but then again, that's probably because poetry isn't my favorite. Nevertheless, I thought this chapter was very helpful in breaking down prosody. A lot of this chapter was a review--especially the terms, such as alliteration and internal rhyme, etc. 

There was one thing that I really missed from this chapter...the Raise Questions to Discover Ideas. I guess there aren't many questions you can ask about the organization of a poem. It is what it is. And yet, that section has continued to be my favorite part of this book throughout.

Get over it.

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Mrs. Popov: I vowed to wear mourning to my grave and not to see the light of day...Do you hear me? May his departed spirit see how much I love him...Yes, I know, it's no mystery to you that he was often mean to me, cruew...and even unfaithful, but I shall remain true to the grave and show him I know how to love. There, beyond the grave, he will see me as I was before his death...

--Chekov, in Roberts, pg 385

 

Really? I couldn't believe what I was reading. This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. She's gotta be insane. I can understand mourning for the loss of a loved one, but vowing to never see the light of day again? Come on, let's get serious now. I don't know of anyone who loves me who would actually condone this sort of behavior while they are still alive, so what makes it okay to do it after they die?

She needs a reality check. She's really hurting the image of her husband by vowing to never get over his death, because even though he was cruel to here, if he really loved her, he'd want her to be happy--he'd want her to move on.

 

EL 237

Theme--To each his own

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Because writers of poems, plays, and stories are usually not systematic philosophers, it is not appropriate to go "message hunting" as though their works contained nothing but ideas. Indeed, there is great benefit and pleasure to be derived from just savoring a work--following the patterns of narrative and conflict, getting to like the characters, understanding the work's implications and suggestions, and listening to the sounds of the author's words, to name only a few of the reasons for which literature is treasured.

--Roberst, pg.120

 

Thank you Roberts! Finally a text book that I agree with me. In high school, nothing drove me crazier than my teachers' incessant pestering over finding the theme of a story. I'm not saying that it's not important to find theme, but sometimes it's nice to just read the book as it is and enjoy the characters without digging too deeply. I guess this is why I'm a journalism major and not an English Lit major (Of course, I'm also a journalism major because I love writing articles and all that jazz, but you get what I mean). Like Roberts said, some writers don't write their stories with an ideal theme in mind. We, the readers, discover them later on. I can't remember who it was--I'll link to it later, but earlier in the semester, one of my peers talked about how once a piece of literature is released into the wild, it is now property of the readers, not the author. I feel like way too much emphasis is placed on finding the theme. I know that sometimes I end up really frustrated when I can't think up a theme within a reasonable amount of time. It makes me feel like I'm a failure as an English major because I can't figure out a theme that's staring at me, smacking me in the face. Or, sometimes, I'll feel like I'm making completely ridiculous and off-the-wall assumptions in order to form a theme.

 

EL237

 

Assassin's Creed Review

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You can't see me. I'm there in the shadows, crouched down on the roof above you, dangling on the ledge below you. Maybe you know I'm nearby. Maybe you're afraid for your life. You should be. Because by the time you realize where I am, you'll be dead.

 

 

On wired.com, I found myself drawn to the article about Assassin's Creed II. In this article, the author of the review blended links into the story. One was a previous review of the original Assassin's Creed. Another was a link to a character analysis of the protagonist of the original game, Altair. For a gamer like me, I really appreciate the links, especially because I'm familiar with the game. However, those who haven't played Assassin's Creed before, these links are also very useful. The first link shows why the first game failed. Maybe I'm just partial, because I love videogames, but I really enjoyed this article, and thought the use of links really added to the content of the review.

 

EL 227

Fairness...it's not as easy as you'd think

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Reporters should work on developing "fairness skills." The responsibility to take the lead falls to the editors. They should talk about fairness often, both in organized staff meetings and in informal conversations with staff members.

--Haiman pg.59

This section made a lot of sense to me. As I was reading, I did what I always do--I tried to apply this to an experience I've had in the past. When I was a junior in high school, a kid was accused of submitting a bomb threat. The school was wrong--because they didn't turn their clocks forward an hour--something like that. Anyway, the boy in this situation was arrested and put in Juvenile Detention. Long story short, after investigation, it came out that the kid was innocent. Local newspapers covered the story, and when our next issue of  The Royal rolled around, the staff was faced with the decision to cover the story. That was a mistake. The story never made it into our issue, because the girl who wrote the story was a family friend of Webb's and because of that, she had a biased story. But in the long run, I don't think it would've mattered if she'd been the one to write the story or if it had been someone else, because we were a student-run press, and we obviously had bias against Hempfield Administration. 

I'm not about to say that I am immune to being unfair...there have been plenty of occasions when I've written articles that only show one side of the story. It wasn't sloppy journalism skills, it was just that I didn't understand when I was younger why fairness is so important.

Educational, but hard to navigate...

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"180 tons of recyclables are picked up from Tuscon residents each day."

The multimedia presenation about recycling was pretty interesting. I liked that the arizona star blended different types of multimedia. They didn't rely solely on video--they offered literature as well. Furthermore, they gave a few links to read further into the subject if necessary. I'll admit that I don't normally recycle--I'm lazy I guess, but for people like me, who really don't pay much attention to recycling, these short videos were very useful. However, I as a little annoyed that they didn't have a link to return to the main menu where users origially chose to either follow the path of garbage or the path of recycled material. It makes me think back to EL236--Writing for the Internet. In that class, I learned the importance of giving my users all of the links necessary to successfully navigate through a website. Like I said, I thought this multimedia presentation was useful, but still lacked in its mobility.

 

EL227

Links for Investigative Article

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I plan to incorporate the following links into my story about how retailers plan to combat the economy this holiday season [more to follow!]:

 

Black Friday 2009 gives consumers an early start planning which stores they will hit first Friday morning.

BigNewsBiz has a story about seekwellness.com's plan to offer black friday specials all through the month of november.

ledger-enquirer.com has an interesting article about this holiday season.

National Retail Federation has statistics to back up my article.

Dick's Sporting Goods has all of their holiday commercials online for the public to view.


Click here for other links to other stories in EL 227



El 237 Portfolio #3

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Three down, one to go...my this semester is flying by...and look at how much blogging we've done over the past month!

Coverage:

Depth:

Interaction (on my blogs and my peers as well):
Discussion:

Timeliness:

Xenoblogging:
Wildcard:

The Unconclusion...

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So the book finally comes to a close, and it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. I can't decide on whether or not I like it that way, either. On one hand, I like the fact that I don't know if J. made it out alive and managed to beat the record for longest Junket or whatever, but on the other hand, part of me really hates the fact that I don't know what happened to all the characters. I understand why Whitehead put the climax at the beginning of the book, but I was really expecting a more dramatic ending--like maybe he could've shown the shooting from a bunch of different view points since that's how he portrayed the rest of the book. But, what's done is done, and we can't change the way the book was written. I mentioned in class that I'm not sure I even think John Henry is a martyr anymore, because he didn't really prove anything by defeating the machine. Sure he beat it, and that's great that he was able to stand up for himself, but what else did it do for him? It killed him, and the machine went on to live...okay, maybe that's just my cynical side owning up to natural journalist nature, but I can't help but agree with what those freelance journalists were saying. I still think John Henry should be recognized as a folk hero--he's a much better character than Paul Bunyon, but I have mixed emotions now. Regardless, I did enjoy reading this book for the most part--it made me think a lot, which is always nice, because it keeps me on my toes. I think I would've enjoyed it a lot more if I'd been able to take my time while reading it though, but I guess I could take the time to read it over winter break if I felt like it...

John Henry Days Presentation

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Initially, I wasn't sure what angle I wanted to pursue with this presentation. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to find an article about John Henry Days. I wanted to do something with either the point of view or the way in which journalists are portrayed in fiction...until I came across an article about the book. 

In An End of Southern History: The Down-home Quests of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead, the author, William Ramsey analyzes two books--I'll admit I skipped the entire section on Toni Morrison, because it had nothing to do with my topic, but he had a lot of interesting stuff to say about Colson Whitehead's theme of post-modernism in John Henry Days. Ramsey asks a lot of thought-provoking questions, which I plan to ask the class on Friday. Basically, my topic for my presentation is both Post-modernism in John Henry Days and how Colson Whitehead deals with the actual story of John Henry. How is he portrayed in this story? The two subjects neatly fit together, and I'm eager to see how discussion develops from my prompting questions.

Although we've touched on this subject a little during class in the past few days, I still think that further discussion will benefit the whole class in analyzing the book as a post-modern book.

I'm going to focus on the last part of the book, but that won't be the only part that I analyze in my presentation. I just want to make sure we answer any still-pending questions about the novel. I also plan to touch on whatever my peers have been saying about John Henry Days.
Aja already blogged about part five in J. and John, which I'm already confident will fit nicely with my presentation. In one of my earlier blogs about John Henry Days, Holding Out for a Hero, I touched briefly on the subject of how John Henry is portrayed in this book.

Holding out for a Hero

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Everyone here is gathered for the fair, she considers, all those ppeople below, and they all work from a different snapshot. All the people who have heard the song on the radio or had the story read to them from a children's book, they all have their own John Henry. You summon him up from verses and he swings his hammer down with the arms you give him. Thinkh e really ived and he's more human; deposit a smile on his face and beads of sweat or tears running down his cheek.

--John Henry Days, 262

 

Everyone has a John Henry. I really liked this part of the book, because Pamela finally had an epiphany and understands why her father was so crazy about John Henry. He was more than a steel-driving man. I blogged earlier that I love folklore, but I have to say that Whitehead's discription here really was perfect. What separates John Henry from, say, Paul Bunyon is that a black man pounding steal is a lot more realistic than a giant man with a blue ox who endlessly chops down forests. 

Who would believe that a giant man and a giant blue ox existed? Children. But, the story of John Henry really could've happened. When I began reading this book, I asked my mom if she thought that John Henry really existed--she didn't give me much of an answer. But, I guess he's kind of like a Black version of King Arthur. There's no proof that Arthur existed either, but his legend has lasted for centuries.

 People do not have to be Black in order to identify with John Henry--everyone has a struggle in their lives at some point. Like Karyssa said in Resistance is Futile, John Henry does serve as a metaphor for mankind's fight with technology, but I think you could further this to say that he struggled with more than just that. He struggled with equality as well.

I'm not saying that John Henry has to be everyone's hero, but he serves as a great example of what people need to encourage themselves. People hear the story of a man, not larger than life, but large all the same who defeats the undefeatable. He does the impossible, and because of that, he gives everyone courage to take risks in life, to have determination.

For more on part 4 of John Henry Days, click here.

EL 227 Portfolio #3

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It's that time of the year again. Portfolio number 3 is ready to go. In this section of our class, we learned a lot about different types of journalism, including editorials and localized stories. Our blogs focused primarily around our readings in Haiman, which was very educational, because it shows us what problems journalists still face and how to rectify these mistakes and problems. Below is my blog portfolio to showcase all the work I've done over the past month or so.

Coverage: I wrote a blog entry for each assigned text.
  • Breaking News This was my following of several breaking news stories, and what the follow-up articles included.
  • One more trip down memory lane...destination? Editorials In this blog entry, I talked about a little about my high school paper and then launched into a discussion of what I learned from this reading--that we should include a lot of quotes in our editorials and that we should also include the opposing view.
  • Newspapers *always* seem unfair I talked about how people outside of the press do not understand how much work goes into an issue of a newspaper, and no matter what we do, we will *always* seem unfair.
  • Liberal Arts to the Rescue I talked about how much our liberal arts education will prepare me in the future to write a larger multitude of articles, because journalists are expected to write articles on a lot of stuff they've never heard of. Therefore, the liberal arts education should give me at least a little bit of a head start.
  • I'm not looking forward to this... was about my uneasiness with interviewing the families who were victims of tragedy. It's the one part of journalism really scares me, and I don't want to end up a stereotypical heartless journalist who cares more about getting the story than about being aware of someone's feelings.
  • New rules for Journalists? In this blog, I talked a little about the Kaiser-Wiggins Rule and questioned whether we can apply this rule to everything. I also mentioned that I want to try using this rule in class to see if it improves my writing.
  • Contacts = Necessity was a response to reading about Investigative reporting. I expressed my relief to see that I don't have to rely on expert witnesses for all of my sources. Sometimes the little guy gives the best feedback.


Depth: Blogs where I spent a little more time in my analysis than usual.

Interaction: My conversations with my peers on their blogs.
  • Sources make for a more credible argument--Kaitlin Monier. I participated in a discussion with Kaitlin and Jennifer in Kaitlin's entry about our assigned reading on Haiman.
  • News Essay--Aja Hannah. After Aja mentioned that the Setonian doesn't have a pro/con section in their opinions page, I asked her if she remembered their republican/democrat debates in the issues leading up to the 2008 Presidential election.
  • Columns do what?--Aja Hannah. We had a brief discussion about our confusion on columns.
  • Are You Serious?--Dianna Griffin. I contributed to Dianna's brief discussion with Angela on her entry about how hard it would be to interview the family of a crime's victim.


Discussion: My blog entries that sparked discussion on my blogs.

Timeliness: Blogs that were completed well before the due date

Xenoblogging:

Wildcard:

Contacts = Necessity

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Good investigative reporters have contacts in the places most likely to provide stories. Your contacts do not have to be people at the top of departments or companies. In fact, people down the ladder are often more practical use. Identify people in key positions within organisations. Good contacts are people like court clerks, council clerks, company clerks--in fact, clerks almost anywhere. There are the people who see all sorts of information you might find useful.


I found this reading really useful for my preparation of investigative report on the retail season. Initially, I was planning to interview a few managers at local businesses, but now I feel like I can have a little more breathing room, because it might be useful to interview regular employees too.  
However, it seems like our investigative reports are going to be a little different, because a lot of us (including me) will need to actually research our topic. We really can't rely solely on interviewing people in this case, because we need to include more than simply a poll on a subject to uncover people's opinions. Facts are more important, because our investigative report could easily sway into a feature article if the right amount of facts are not included in the piece. Regardless, like this website says, contacts are of the essence. The more contacts we have, the easier it will be to write a story, because quotes really do write the stories for us.

New rules for Journalists?

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At a time when the public feels strongly that too much news is over-analyzed and over-commented-upon--including by journalists on talk shows--it almost certainly would applaud a newspaper that adopted the Kaiser-Wiggins Rule: One clean shot at the facts of what happened before the motive-seekers and opiners descend on the story.


I like this rule, but I feel like it should be applied more to articles like crime and accident reports.  There's a lot of value in adopting this rule as often as possible. I'm as guilty as the next journalist in including at least a little fluff in my articles. If we follow this rule, does that mean we can't include the public opinion in these articles? If we're only getting the facts, I'd take that as a "no." But that's okay, sometimes including the public's opinion isn't necessary, but what about expert opinion? Can we include that? I still feel like the answer is "no." I think the only quotes we could use are ones from the Police or eye-witnesses or something. Because, let's face it, what kind of a journalist doesn't include at least one quote?

I mentioned in class last week that I still have difficulty figuring out which facts are the most important ones to include in a story. Maybe if I try applying this Rule during our next exercise, I'll be more successful.

On a side note--when I was reading about the section on Diversity, it made me think back to my research paper in STW. I actually wrote it on the glass ceiling women and minorities still face in the world of journalism. However, this section of the book really opened my eyes to the other side. I never really paid attention to how much diversity is/isn't included in the news--mostly because I don't watch or read as much news as I should.



John Henry Song

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John Henry told his captain,
"Captain go to town
And bring me back two twenty-pound hammers,
And I'll sure beat your steam drill down. Lord, Lord,
And I'll sure beat your steam drill down."

John Henry told his people,
"You know that I'm a man.
I can beat all the traps that have ever been made,
Or I'll die with my hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord,
Or I'll die with my hammer in my hand."

The steam drill set on the right-hand side,
John Henry was on the left.
He said, "I will beat that steam drill down
Or hammer my fool self to death, Lord, Lord,
Or hammer my fool self to death."

-John Henry Days, pg. 76

I've always had a love for American folklore. It's just fascinating, especially because the stories always have slight variations depending on who tells/ sings them. When I came across the poem in this book, I recognized it immediately, because I've heard Bruce Springsteen do a rendition of the song.

 It really made me want to listen to that song again--it's on a cd produced by Bruce called "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions." In this cd, Bruce remade several folk songs, including "Jesse James," which is actually my favorite one.
 I wasn't near my computer at the time, so I couldn't listen to the song just then, but when I eventually did, I thought it might be a good idea to read the lyrics while I listened to the song. I was really surprised by just how much of the song had changed with Bruce singing it. A lot of it is just his diction, but then there are whole verses that are different. It really helps me to appreciate how spectacular American Folk is, because its all unique in its own way.

Click here to watch the video of Bruce Springsteen singing "John Henry."
And Click here for Bruce's lyrics to the song, so you can see the difference.

The Stamp Collector's Escape

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Rarely in his recent memory has he been as happy as when he unpacked his clothes. In any drawer he pleased. He had saved this task (extra-special treat) for after the banquet. In the top drawer Alphonse delicately placed his underwear and socks, in the second his shirts, and in the last his pants. One, two, three.

--John Henry Days, pg. 129

 

My first impression of Alphonse Miggs isn't that he's crazy (although one could easily argue that point); it's that he is OCD. I'm not saying that people who collect stamps or anything else like that are OCD, but the whole thing with placing his clothing just so seemed a little off to me. But, once I read a little further, I'm not sure I agree with my original assumption. He's much more complex than simply OCD. Because he and his wife split their house into *his* and *her* nooks and crannies, he probably has a difficult time expressing his OCD-ness. I chucked a little when he described his basement, because it reminds me of a man-cave--it's a place where Alphonse can do whatever he wants in his little underground sanctuary, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. He's obviously not in a very happy marriage, so this is his escape. So, it should be expected that he would be on a total high when he got to go on a trip without his wife. This really would be the ultimate escape for Alphonse. I thought the whole thing about his wife seeking revenge was slightly comical. It just goes to show that the couple has very weak communcation skills, and it's really a shame that his wife would stoop to such levels. But, at the same time, is she really? Or is he just Paranoid, on top of being OCD?

 

EL 237

Yay for another book about a Journalist!

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The final event of John Henry Days was her first assignment, it turned out differently than expected, and she remembers instructions from last semester's Intro Journalism class....She approaches an older couple dressed in identical green and red jogging suits. She identifies herself as a writer for Charleston Daily Mail and asks them what they have seen. The witnesses point up to the bandstan. The witnesses point to the groups ministering to the dying. She canvasses the witnesses and tries to get the story.

--John Henry Days, pg. 25

I always get excited when I get the opportunity to read a fiction book about a journalist--let alone multiple journalists in one book. Last fall, in Dr. Wendland's Travel Literature, my class read Ride With Me Mariah Montana, which was also about a print journalist and a photo journalist. I know that these stories are fiction, but they really seem to grip me because they tell stories of everything I hope to experience some day as a reporter for a newspaper or magazine. 

In my News Writing class, we just finished learning about being sensitive to the victims of tragedies. When I first read about the disaster that Joan witnessed, I immedately thought of News Writing and wondered how she would approach the witnesses. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more detail, but I understand that this isn't what the book is mainly about, so I respect that. In News Writing, we also covered spot news, which is basically what Joan was assigned to do when she had to cover the postage stamp. Dr. Jerz reminded us to keep our eyes open for something to make the story truly newsworthy, and crime usually does that. We never know when a story is going to break open.

I felt myself cringe when Joan was searching for her pen, but at the same time, I thought to myself, what kind of journalist only carries ONE pen with her...I usually have half a dozen...but then again, I think I have an obsession with pens that is partly to blame from working at Staples for so long. 

So far, I'm really enjoying this book. Like I said earlier, I love reading fiction novels about journalists, because they always seem to go on some really great adventures. I'm realistic in acknowledging that not all journalism is this glorified, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

I'm not looking forward to this...

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"Send your most compassionate reporters to the homes of the victims. It's not always what they (reporters) say, it's how they say it. We're extremely sensitive and I realize that we often over-react to things, but if your reporters knew in advance a few things not to say and not to do, then they would be more comfortable, too. And you wouldn't be sending someone who's going to come back with things you can't or don't want to use. The training is really a key here."

--Haiman pg. 30

Out of all the aspects of journalism, I look forward to this part least of all. It's not that I hate interviewing people--I just hate that I always feel like I'm bothering people when I walk up to them and randomly ask them a question. I can't imagine being one of those reporters who hang outside the house of a victim's family waiting to question anyone who walks out that door. I'm not sure I ever want to experience this type of journalism. It's probably the only part I don't like.

Although a phone interview might be a little less effective, I might be more likely to use this method only because I would sincerely feel bad for the victim's family during the interviewing process. It really is a catch-22 though, isn't it? You either bombard the family with questions that might make everyone feel uncomfortable or you don't get a story. There's no happy medium. Someone's always gonna lose. This really frustrates me. :-(

What is true?

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It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear. Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me--we two--you, me talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me--who?

--Langston Hughes, "Theme for English B"

First let me say that I loved this poem, especially the stanza I quoted above. I know exactly what Hughes means when he says "It's not easy to know what is true for you or me/ at twenty-two..." I'm not sure people ever figure out what's really "true." We think we do, but there's a very fine line between what is true and what we believe to be true. 

"...But I guess I'm what/ I feel and see and hear..." This line's pretty strong for me too. I don't think we really understand just how much our surroundings influence us. Our environment--the people we grow up around, the things we hear as children, all of it has a major impact on who we become when we grow older. I remember reading somewhere in high school about what would happen if two identical twins were raised in entirely different environments. Even though they looked alike, would they have any other similarities? I doubt it. But I don't think that's a bad thing. It just shows how much individuality we really have in this world. 

Notecards save my life

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The principal advantage of cards is that you can see them all together when you lay them out on a desk or a other large surface. As a result, cards may be easily classified; numbered and renumbered; shuffled; tried out in one place, rejected, and then used in another place; and arranged in order when you start to write.

--Roberts Ch 18, pg 264

I couldn't agree more with Roberts when it comes to using index cards for my notes. All through high school, my teachers mandated that we use index cards when preparing our research papers (I had to write four, one for each year in each of my English classes). The index cards are actually more useful for me than writing an outline. When I write an outline, it ends up being far too detailed, and thus it's really a waste of time, because all I'm doing is transferring my note cards into an outline. If I have the option, I try to skip that step. When I use index cards for my research papers, they basically write my paper for me. I hate to say this, but I think they're more effective for me than the presubmission papers we've been doing for class. It's not that the presubmission papers aren't useful--they definitely are--but I think I just have a preference to index cards, because the system works well for me. I like being able to spread my quotes out onto a large table  and order them exactly how I want them to appear in my paper. 

The only thing I really do differently than Roberts is I don't put the full source on every index card---because I usually have too much information for the index card. Instead, I make a different set of cards dedicated to my sources, which are then numbered. I place the number of the source in the corner of the index card so I know what source I'm pulling from. I also include a subject or keyword, because this helps me to organize my notes later. I never paraphrase when I'm taking notes if I can help it. I'd rather record all direct quotes and then paraphrase later than forget that I already paraphrased and make a second paraphrase that's too similar to the original. It's my own fool-proof system to avoid plagiarism. 

Word painting

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The old people sat on the bench, still as statues. Never mind, there was always the crowd to watch. To and fro, in front of the flower-beds and the band rotunda, the couples and groups paraded, stopped to talk, to greet to buy a handful of flowers from the old beggar who had his tray fixed to the railings. Little children ran among them, swooping and laughing; little boys with big white silk bows under their chins, little girls, little French dolls, dressed up in velvet and lace...

--"Miss Brill," Katherine Mansfield

I really like the imagery in this story. I know I say this all the time, but I love it when the author paints the picture with words. There's actually an art in "word painting." I learned about it in The Art of Travel, a book I read last fall for Travel Literature with Dr. Wendland. You just pick somewhere to sit and write what you see. You look for details. You literally try to paint a picture with your words.

I actually enjoy people watching too--not to the extent that Miss Brill does, but I do see the value in it. I always find myself people watching in public places. It's just fun to see what's going on in other people's lives--it's also fun to see how weird some people may be. I think my last people-watching excursion was at Kennywood Fright Nights. Now that was a treat, because I was able to not only laugh everytime someone was spooked by a ghoul, but I also was able to be disgusted by the amount of public displays of affection around me. Okay, I need to get back on topic again...

This short story inspires me to spend a day on a park bench and document everything I see. I actually think it could be a pretty useful experience. I could hone my writing skills while also working on my observational skills. Both of these skills are good for a journalist to have, so I really see no harm in wasting my day in the great outdoors--maybe at Twin Lakes or something. 

It's all inter-connected...

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Metaphors and similes are based in imagery, which is the means by which literature is made graphic and vivid....by using words that convey images the writer prompts us to recall memories of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, sensations, and visualization of motion. Metaphors and similes go beyond literal imagery to introduce perceptions and comparisons that can be unusual, unpredictable, and surprising...

--Roberts Ch. 9

I feel like I'm stuck in a time machine. Roberts just keeps going back to imagery in every chapter. I know that he's right, but at this point, it just feels a little redundant to me. I'm not criticizing Roberts, though, because it's the whole show vs. tell thing. But, I have just one question. Aren't similes "telling" instead of "showing?" Metaphors are much stronger in "showing." And yet, we still group the two together, because both compare something to an unrelated object.

I'm not saying that metaphors are better than similes. I'm just questioning why they are excused for "telling" instead of "showing."

Lost in Translation? Not anymore...

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Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
that deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne,
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold

--"On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" by Keats

I can absolutely identify with what Keats is saying in this poem. I lament that I've never had the opportunity to read the full version of Homer's The Odyssey, but I have read some of the short stories over the years in various English classes. I've always loved Greek mythology, but I've barely brushed the surface. 

Translation is a powerful tool. The language barrier is a tough one to conquer, but translation has given us so much, especially in the form of literature. I'll be the first to say that "Beowulf" was not my favorite poem to read, but at the same time, I can only imagine how awful it would have been if I hadn't read the modern version of the poem, I bet I would've been ever more miserable.

Nevertheless, Keats' poem does more than just remind his readers of the importance of translation. It's a very beautiful piece with so much imagery and metaphors. It's kind of ironic, because he tells his story through metaphors and similes just as Homer told the story of Ulysses. 

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