December 18, 2005

100 Things About Me

This is fun. I've seen this done on other blogs, and I thought I'd give it a try.

I'd love to read yours...If you do write one, drop a comment so I can read. :-)

1. I scream Marroon 5 songs down the highway.
2. Sometimes when doing said no. 1 thing, I forget that I am also driving and swerve across my lane.
3. I haven't been pulled over for a sobriety test, but I have been for speeding. I beat the ticket.
4. I believe everything tastes better with cheese on it. Except candy.
5. When I write poetry, the best stuff isn't about profound things like love and sadness; it is more often in reference to things like laundry, cooking and squirrels.
6. After I watch a movie, I do my hair like the film's heroine.
7. Sometimes I talk like her too--especially when she has a British accent.
8. I despise dogs that jump on your legs and smell your crotch.
9. I am unlucky enough to have two of them.
10. Something tells me that God created electric blankets for people like me who despise wintery weather.
11. When I see squirrels scampering about, I think, "Yes, the world is good."
12. I love plants, but I usually under or over water them. My cactus is hanging on, though.
13. Sometimes I smile when I hear something witty because I have nothing witty with which to respond.
14. I like books. I really do, and I enjoy opening them under the Christmas tree. The paper-on-paper crackling is a blessed sound.
15. Hangers are evil. Something better, I've decided, should be made to put up the clothing that lines my closet.
16. I love to swim and dive and jump and go boating and do nearly anything that permits water as the focal point of activity.
17. My To-Do list has never beaten me.
18. I've been to nearly half the states in the U.S. and I am going to Scotland soon.
19. I'm not motivated enough to be a fiction writer and I'm too neurotic to be a daily news writer. Feature news and investigative stuff is right for me.
20. Fish and seafood is not on my menu--ever. Marine biology was a dream and I grew to love them very much. I don't want to eat Shamu-esque things.
21. I bite my nails.
22. I detest it when bleached-blond girls chew gum.
23. I am a walking hurricane. In all, I've broken 10 priceless pieces of my mother's family heirlooms, not to mention the other 15 pieces of junk (I mean decorative items) she leaves lying around the house.
24. I write in my diary only when I am sad.
25. I listen to country music and even once thought I would go to Nashville to get a record deal.
26. I want to fall in love again.
27. I love falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing.
28. When I dance with someone and ask their name, I immediately forget it.
29. I watch the Oscars for 2 reasons: Best Picture and the dresses.
30. Sometimes I am disappointed by both.
31. I never know when someone is lying.
32. Blogging is an obsession/habit.
33. I am organized.
34. I've named my stapler (Dorian Gray) and plant (Norbert), but not my car.
35. My nicknames include: Cheetah, Manda, Medusa, Dappen and Sassy.
36. The Mona Lisa speaks volumes to me. Her smile is an inspiration.
37. I heart coffee.
38. I heart chocolate.
39. Someday I want to write for Newsweek and have a beach house on the South Carolina shore.
40. I want to protest.
41. When I get my own place, I am going to buy the soap and shampoo I like.
42. I do whatever I can (that's legal) to not pay for music.
43. I will literally jump for joy when I get my own business card.
44. My favorite movie is sappy.
45. I don't clean under the rug. In fact, I push things underneath it.
46. When I am concerned about others, I usually screw up easing their pain because I get nervous.
47. I like blowing bubbles on the bank of a river.
48. I blow bubbles in my chocolate milk.
49. Long showers make my mornings worth the waking.
50. I believe in the power of dressing well.
51. I belive in living up to your own expectations--and raising them periodically for a new challenge.
52. Jane Austen and I are on the same wavelength.
53. I dislike being hunted, but I hate hunting.
54. A liberal education and my faith are constantly at odds with one another. I'm trying to settle them quietly.
55. Ribbons are my favorite accessory.
56. I hate purses--especially when you really need a big bag to do the job.
57. I like luggage, though; especially when it makes that rolling sound behind you when you're gliding through an airport.
58. G-Mail makes me happy.
59. My muse goes on vacation often. I flounder in her absence.
60. I adore using large words in small documents.
61. When I wake from a dream, I either forget them immediately or remember them for a lifetime.
62. I actually do choose a book by its cover.
63. I get lost when people start talking about their favorite alcohol.
64. I am afraid of jellyfish and snakes. Worms aren't too high on the list of most-beloved creatures, either.
65. New Years' is my favorite holiday.
66. I have a July birthday,
67. Which is fabulous because summer my favorite season.
68. I keep papers long after I need them, and throw away the ones I need.
69. When it rains on a summer afternoon, and a rainbow comes out, I think of Noah--and then Jonah, because I get their names screwed up.
70. I believe a lot of keys means a lot of responsibility. I am humbled by the janitor's wad of keys, in comparison to my puny one.
71. I get entirely too mad at my mother for not knowing how to use a computer.
72. I don't like to swear. So when I do, I hope it carries some weight.
73. I am not a natural leader. I have to work at it.
74. I don't know why New York is called "The Big Apple".
75. I color inside the lines.
76. My favorite song is sappy.
77. My car runs on "E" at least half the time.
78. The idea of sardines on pizza makes me want to know.
79. I like taking pictures, but I hate having them developed.
80. I wear contact lenses.
81. Cell phones are the bane of my existence.
82. Someday I want to intentionally collect something.
83. I can cook, but I hold off at all costs.
84. I though my home's oven was convectional.
85. I don't like to balance my checkbook.
86. I cry at fictional things, but not usually at non-fiction, even when it is worse.
87. I always order chicken parm at the Olive Garden.
88. I've learned to block people out when they are talking about things that do not work toward something I am doing.
89. I try to limit this practice, and I'm not entirely successful.
90. I've never liked baby dolls or Barbies. I preferred office supplies and stickers.
91. My sister liked to play weather lady and I liked to play Sally Wiggin in our play news broadcasts.
92. I love to run.
93. I don't fear death, but I want to stick around a while.
94. Every day I try to learn something new, and not forget what I learned yesterday.
95. My alarm clock plays music instead of beeps.
96. I like second-hand things. They have a history.
97. I smile sometimes when I don't feel like it.
98. I don't think there's anything like seeing your work in print.
99. I don't think there's anything like seeing children use their imaginations.
100. I'm a self-indulgent daydreamer with entirely too many ideas and too little time on her hands.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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.

    -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.


  • 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) | TrackBack

October 4, 2004

More Tidbits

This is the proto-type for amazing things to prepared. :-)

While many of you already know me pretty well--perhaps more than you or I would like...

However, I thought for the new people on the SHU blogs would like to know a little bit about the first year SHU experience and about me.

*FYI: I write about the funny things (at least the events I think are humorous on my blog) Hope you have a good time clicking through my links. Some are old, some relatively new. Just giving you a full flavor of the variety of things I have written about and how I have grown as a writer, blogger and person.

In Past Times

Worst I-can-share experiences
Best I-can-share experiences
Combo Supremos I adore
  • Cappuchino/cookies
  • Cottage cheese and pineapple
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy (What's Atkins'?)
  • Garlic toast and meat sauce
  • Hot fudge and peanut butter ice cream
My Director's Cut
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Bridget Jones' Diary
  • LOTR: Return of the King
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Fight Club

This is kind of fun...HTML isn't the demon that I had previously thought...and bringing a lot of your work together in one place is like a scrapbook that won't go turn to acid ashes as the years pass.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:34 PM | Comments (5)

September 13, 2004

Categorismic: About Me

1. I read A LOT. Austen is a fave.
2. Movies are my passion--well, right next to journalism.
3. Journalism is my major at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania.
4. I have a sister, mom, dad, 2 dogs and a cat--all of which I live with.
5. My best pal is Karissa
6. I am beginning to not care so much. Perfectionism is getting really old.
7. I have burnt ramen on several occasions. Kitchens and I do not coalesce--we are not like sugar and Koolaid.
8. Editing for The Setonian as news/online head honcho. Woohoo.
9. Work is what I thrive on.
10. Settling down is something I would like to do when I am dead.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:38 PM | Comments (1)