November 2009 Archives

Too Much Freedom!?

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From Haiman’s Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists:


“In a 1999 survey sponsored by the First Amendment Center, 53% of Americans

said they believed the press has too much freedom,” (72).

Too much freedom?  How can one have too much freedom to say what’s on their minds?  If the government decided to take away some of our First Amendment rights, people would go nuts!  I guarantee at least 90% of the 53% would change their minds if this were to happen. 

It is the newspaper itself that should regulate what their reporters say.  If a reporter is unfair and the newspaper finds out about it, there should be harsh penalties.  The reporter should at least have to issue a public apology to whomever he/she deceived or represented unfairly.

When people start suggesting that our government take away rights it just shows that people don’t appreciate what they have.  I know I’m getting patriotic but we live in a country that permits us to write what we want.  Freedom isn’t free and we’ve had a lot of people pay the ultimate price to keep rights like freedom of the press.  What’s next?  Are these people going to start suggesting that we don’t write articles that critique the president?  Or that people can only write articles that are told from a republican point of view?  Or what if the government told people that they were going to take away our freedom to tell a lie?  I’d like to talk to this 53%.   I honestly don’t think these people thought this question over when they answered.

Is my anger justified?  Did anyone else get this feeling when they read this statistic?

Derek discusses freedom on his page as well.  Check it out!


I have a few issues/concerns about writing my investigative report.  I thought it might be helpful if I asked the questions online.

As part of my investigative report, I called one of the companies that distributes to Petland.  When I did this, I put my phone on speaker phone and had my friend listen to the answers as I asked the questions.

1) How do I talk about how I called the company in my article without referring to myself?  I can't say, "When I called Petland..."can I?

2) My friend, in some of her quotes, referred to we (as in her and I) and Angela, so I can't really avoid bringing myself into it if I use some of these quotes.  How should I deal with this?

3) Is it a problem that I was unable to get the name of the person I talked to when I called Mid America Pet?

4) Is it ethical to mention the name of the guy who I talked to from Petland in Monroeville since a person could actually track him down?


News writing page

This website gets a solid B

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      I am more impressed with the webpage for the University of Virginia’s online newspaper called The Cavalier Daily.  I like how there are a lot of pictures on the top of the page and then distinct sections going down the page.  There is still a lot to try to take in like The Harvard Crimson.  However, it looks a lot better than Harvard’s online paper.  I like how the masthead isn’t hidden at the top like Harvard’s paper.  It’s more in the middle and is aesthetically pleasing.  I do feel the page is lacking pictures when you scroll down.  Too much text there.  I’d like to see graphics to accompany the story headlines.  I’d be more prone to click on something with a picture.  Other than that, it’s pretty good.  See what I had to say about Harvard's newspaper website.



This is ok...I give it a C+

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Well apparently you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or go to Harvard to know how to do layout.  I think that the main page for The Harvard Crimson is an average-looking site.  I don’t want to say it looks bad, it doesn’t.  But there is nothing particularly eye-catching, nothing that really demands your attention.  I like the changing picture in the middle of the page.  It’s cool.  But really, it’s Harvard!  Shouldn’t there be blinking lights or awesome fonts or something to spice it up?  They could even lay it out to look like a printed paper.  Create a template of some sort as to catch the eye of the viewer.  I’m disappointed.  I do like the “featured galleries” at the bottom of the page, though.  It looks nice and is a little different from what I’ve seen before.  Too bad the rest of the layout isn’t as cool.


What do others think?

Petland and Puppy Mills

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As the Christmas season is fast approaching, many people are probably considering buying a dog for a loved one.  My article is aimed at educating people about where to get their dogs from.  Does Petland really get their dogs from puppy mills?  Here are some links that I plan on using for my research.

  • Youtube video- This is a press conference where a man from the Humane Society talks about their investigation into Petland's use of puppy mills.  There are some visual of puppy mills to accompany this.
  • Humane Society: Massive Puppy Mill Raid is a youtube video that shows actual footage of the humane society going in and raiding a puppy mill.
  • This is the main page for the Humane Society's investigation on puppy mills.  On this page there are several links taking you to articles about the subject.
  • This is the Petland website.  On here it claims, "Our registerable pets come from professional and hobby breeders who have years of experience in raising quality family pets."  This is interesting because the Humane Society's site said that they often times don't know where the pets are coming from.  They often get them through a "middle man."
    • It is interesting that in their news archives it says that the above lawsuit was dismissed.  They never use the words "puppy mills" in their description which is rather vague.
    • This article is also in their archives.  It claims that the Humane Society turned down helping shelter dogs in order to prosecute Petland more.  I have two things to say about this.  1) It's terrible, if this is true, that the Humane Society would turn down the opportunity to help dogs.  2) If Petland had nothing to hide, why would they try to sidetrack the Humane Society with a different project.  Why not just open up their trade and show the Humane Society that they're wrong.  It you have nothing to hide, hide nothing.
  •  I called Petland.  The man I talked to immediately addressed that they do not get their dogs from puppy mills when I asked where they were from.  He said they get their dogs from Missouri.  The distributor was Mid America Pet.  The website won't work.  Here is a pdf file that claims that MidAm is the "middle man" who gets their dogs from the puppy mills and keeps the dogs in small cages.
  • I found out that the USDA has regualtions that animals need to be raised under.  One of the acts that is regualated by the USDA is the Animal Welfare Act.  Here is a link to a fact sheet and a pdf file to a document giving the exact regulations (in foggy legal terms).

See other's article links

I'm Gettin' Wired!

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When I first looked at the main page for I didn't know if I was in heaven or in chaos.  There were so many colors and letters everywhere, it seemed like so much to look at.  It was fun and overwhelming at the same time.  I was attracted to the article about the Nissan Leaf EV

I thought this article was cool but did find that it broke a main rule of journalism.  If you're going to abbreviate something, you say what it stands for the first time and then you use the abbreviation after that.  This article never tells you what EV is.  I don't know if they figured that their audience is mainly geeks so they'd either know or figure it out the abbreviation’s significance.  EV, I did figure out, stands for Electric Vehicle.  I would recommend reading the article.  The car seems cool but it has its definite downsides.  You need to charge it like a cell phone and we all know what happens when you forget to charge your cell're stuck with silence.  You can't forget or it can have bad consequences.  The same goes for this car.  It can only run so long without being charged.  Also, Nissan will own the battery and you lease it however you own the car...weird.

The little links within the article take you to related articles.  There are about nine links on this article.  There is one where the writers of the website get to test drive this car and one that takes you to an article discussing the loan Obama gave to Tesla Motors for researching and funding these kinds of cars.  All I know is that I want the car at the top of this's sweet!

I found these links to be highly informative and cool.  This topic interests me.  I think it's fun to see what kinds of technology is out there for EV cars as a possible future consumer.



This Is Garbage!

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     The first thing I have to say is that I found the videos while I was trying to read annoying.  I had to keep going over and stopping them so that I could concentrate on the information that I had to read.  Nonetheless, I like the idea of the video being beside the text.  It's a cute way to inform your audience about a process that so many know so little about.  The recycling process was extremely short.  I was a little disappointed that there was not more information about recycling on there.  I would actually like to see what happens to the recyclables in the factory and how the plastic comes to be reused.

     I thought the links were fun though because I felt like I was on a bit of an adventure.  I wondered where I would go next.  If I were the webmaster of this website I'd add more.  I think this seems like a good start to a very informative site but I would like to see more information, more links.  They have to have more statistics for those who are interested to look at.  Maybe they could have a little expose like "The Day in the Life of a Waste manager" (I believe that's the pc term). 

     I will say that the website is convenient because so many of the departmental links have numbers and hours conveniently listed for all to see.  I've had problems in the past scouring websites for the hours and even contact info.

What did you think about the site?  Were the videos a good addition, a distraction, or a little bit of both?


Pleasing the Eye

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I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about something we haven’t talked about much this semester: celebrity news.  This is the stuff more of magazines but in most newspapers there is a section dedicated to the most newsworthy of the rich and famous. 

On the main page for the New York Times towards the bottom there is/was a story featuring a relatively new star, Megan Fox.  Any time I see anything about Fox I can’t help but look.  First of all, she’s absolutely (I’m convinced) the most gorgeous star let alone person in the world.  She has a certain mystery about her that makes her 100% intriguing.  She, as the article says, got her big brake starring in Transformers but this article expresses a concern that her stardom may wear off because females may be unwilling to accept her oversexed publicity. 

Fox is also known for her quotability.  She says things that you would not expect such a pretty woman to say which I will not repeat on my blog.  Check out this link and you will see.  But the thing that I am primarily concerned with is the use of multimedia that accompanies this story.  It is especially important to the story because one of the most newsworthy things about Fox is the fact that she is beautiful.  She and a short list of other celebrities like Tom Welling and maybe Brad Pitt seem to be the epitome of near perfect human form.  To show the reader this there is a slide show to accompany the story.  If you didn’t know what she’s done in her career or what she looks like you’ll definitely see through this slide show of 18 pictures. 

There is also a video featuring Fox about half-way down the page.  The New York Times filmed her answering some interview questions.  It's nice to see her actually answer the questions as opposed to just reading her answers.  You get to hear her voice inflection and see her mannerisms.  You can also see the fact that she is very self-conscious in front of a camera, an interesting thing when you consider just how beautiful she is. 

The ability of web news stories to have videos and slide shows accompany the text is really where the internet eclipses the written word.  Where the newspaper would not have the room to dedicate to 18 photos of a starlet, online does.  And obviously a newspaper cannot feature videos.  It's all about giving the valuable information and pleasing the eye.  There is an element of choice about the online news that makes it appealing.  Being a person who is interested in people and psychology, I immediately gravitate to people like Fox who are beautiful yet seem shy because of self-consciousness.


Read more


English Paper vs Journalism Article

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From Haiman’s Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists:


“Moreover, once a reporter has framed a story in his or her head, facts that conflict with the frame, or that don’t fit its premise, can be discarded.” (58).


As an English major, I’m no stranger to being in love with my thesis.  It is only natural to love your own ideas.  This is why it’s important to listen to others.  However, in English papers and journalism alone it is important to address your opposition.  In both cases, you appear to be more informed if you show that another side does exist.  The difference lies in the fact that you don’t want to let your own opinion shine through in an article.  If you do, you’ll look biased and will be discredited because of it.  Showing all angles should never really cause a problem to your report (as I see it).  If your point is ruined as a result of a refuting fact, then your article is most likely biased.  In an English paper, you talk about the opposition in order to tear holes in it.  It makes you look well-read and helps you further prove your point if done right.


Portfolio 3: My Journey to Higher Learning

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   Believe it or not, it's time to present to you Portfolio 3.  These portfolios are a great way of documenting how the individual student has grown in a particular discipline.  When I look back on my portfolios from Literary Criticism to Introduction to Literary Study, I see how my writing and understanding of complex topics has changed over time.  Even if blogging is a pain, it's worth it in the end.  It's also a good way to express the opinions I have that I may not get to talk about in class!




  • You Don't Have to Be Perfect... explains the importance of admitting one's faults, even in the world of news.  I especially liked this reading because it applies to life (as I point out in the blog) and to journalism.
  • "I Wish to Remain Anonymous" demonstrates my ability to use the text to answer my own questions about journalism. 
  • Can Somebody Say Amen? is probably my favorite entry in this portfolio.  I used both the text and an actual newspaper to back up my claims.  I suggest you check it out.  


  • Preachy Morons by Michelle Tantlinger is a great entry!  I am the first and only person to comment, which I find a little disappointing because it is such a good entry.  Michelle also responded to my comment.
  • Just Please Look It Up - Hint: AP Style Book is Derek's blog.  I was the first to comment and returned later to give my opinion on what was said.
  • Fixing Our Mistakes Before They Happen is Josie's blog.  As I said in her entry.  I wrote a long comment to add to Josie's entry.  Unfortunately, as it happens to me at least twice a semester, I forgot to copy the comment before trying to post it and it was lost.  The new comment is a lot shorter but still goes over the same points.


  • You Don't Have to Be Perfect... started a healthy conversation about journalism and life in general on my blog.  I also returned to respond to my classmates' comments.
  • "I Wish to Remain Anonymous" started another conversation between my coursemates.  In this one I related the information Haiman gave us in his book to the questions I had about real journalism.  My coursemates must have liked the topic.


  • How Do You Deal With This One as a Journalist? is a blog that I posted early in the morning (1:54 a.m. to be exact) because I wanted to make sure I met the deadline.  I take this very seriously because I don't like to procrastinate and because deadlines are very important to journalists so it is only fair that I hold myself to those standards.


  • How To...Be Human is also my wildcard entry that is in response to Matt Henderson's blog entry.  I really liked his topic and thought that I would promote his blog using my blog.
  • How Do You Deal With This One as a Journalist? is an entry where I promote Josie's blog.  I thought she did an excellent job on writing about sensitive journalism.


  • How To...Be Human is my promotion of Matt Henderson's blog.  I thought he did a great job and wanted to write and post my reflection about his entry.  His blog (and mine) discuss the importance of treating interviewees like people, like you'd want to be treated.


If you haven't had enough of me yet, check out my last portfolio or first portfolio for this class.


Can Somebody Say Amen?

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From Haiman’s Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists:


“Still, there was persuasive evidence that some newspapers have problems in

keeping opinion on the editorial page and out of news stories” (Haiman 50).

YES!  This is so true, especially of the newspapers in the Pittsburgh area, it is sad.  Our class has already explored the Republican bias of the Tribune Review, now it’s time to take a look at the Post-Gazette.  I was feverishly lying in my bed Sunday morning when I heard a ruckus coming from my parents’ room.  (Get your minds out of the gutter, not that kind of ruckus.)  My parents were reading the Post-Gazette in bed.  I heard my mom read out loud, “Republicans -claiming the bill’s tax increases would harm the middle class - reform medical malpractice lawsuits and break down state barriers to insurance sales” (A-5).  Then my Republican mom and Democrat dad began to bicker over the article.  Even in my semi-conscious and brain-fried state I heard the judgment word “claiming.”  The word “claim” implies that what was said could be true but it isn’t likely.  According to Merriam-Webster, claim means “to assert in the face of possible contradiction,” which, of course, adds a completely different level of meaning to the sentence.  To just “say” asserts that this is their stance, leaving the judging up to the reader.  To “claim” leads the reader a conclusion that the Republicans can be (and probably are) wrong.  Also, this statement is a generalization.  It’s a broad statement including all Republicans without putting a real face on it.  This would have been better if it was a quote.  It would sound a little less biased then.

Apparently this problem isn’t just a Pittsburgh thing.  Haiman said, “Thirty percent said bias was not being open-minded about facts, 29% said it was having an agenda and shaping news to fit it, and 29% said it was showing favoritism to particular social or political groups” (51).  Journalists really need to watch these kinds of problems if they really want to be taken seriously.  It is called the “NEWSpaper” if people wanted to read semi-true or completely biased judgments they would read something called the “OPINIONpaper.”


Is College Investigative Reporting Realistic or Romantic?

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From The News Manual:

“Never interview the person at the centre of the investigation first. Always start at the edge and work your way towards the middle. You must not warn the person under investigation too soon. Also, you need to gather as many facts as possible before you put your questions to the person at the centre.”

This was probably the most useful quote that I read because it applies to all sorts of journalism.  If you start on the outside and work your way in, by the time you meet with the person who really knows their stuff, you can ask them educated and pointed questions.  You won’t waste your time or theirs.

I have to admit, what we’ve read about investigative reporting sounds rather romantic.  For example, this website suggests that if you suspect one garage is not fixing cars but charging the owners for the repairs, you could write about it.  It said you should take the car there several times and then go to your trusted mechanic and see is the repairs were actually made.  The problem with this is:

1)    How are you getting the money?- Do newspapers reimburse you for your losses?  Would the exposed shop be required by law to give you your money back?  If I took my car somewhere to get it fixed and they didn’t do it but I got charged $1,000 (as car repairs are often pricey) for the time being I’m out $1,000. 

2)    Most normal college students don’t have a lot of money or the contacts that this site suggests you have.  We normally have a few teachers we can talk to and a number of students.  To actually start some investigative journalism on campus would mean that we would have to put our own reputations on the line.  This is not something to play around with.  If you choose to go the other route, though, and do something off campus, unless you conveniently know of something to investigate, you’re going to not have a clue about what to write about.

From what I’ve read, it seems as though investigative reporting is more for the big guns.  The people who have an established career, the contacts, and the knowledge to write such a story. 


How To...Be Human

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This entry is in response to Matthew Henderson's blog:

Good point, Matt.  I can't even believe that a newspaper published something about the finances of a family whose daughter just died.  That is sub-human.  Why would a journalist abuse a family like that?  What does reporting the finances of that family have to do with the story anyway?  Relevance.  Humanity should always come first.  If success means throwing innocent people under the bus, journalists should count themselves out.  The victims of crimes are off-limits. 

I would also venture to say that even the accused have the same rights.  If a man allegedly killed a child, it does not give a newspaper the right to tell people that last year he did not pay his taxes.  This information is unrelated, not to mention, should not be public.  And what if it turns out that the man was framed?  Not only did this not have anything to do with the story in the first place, but also people know his business on top of him being publically humiliated.  This, folks, is why we all need to think before we write.



How Do You Deal With This One as a Journalist?

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“Ric Nesbitt, a Texan whose 16-year-old daughter was murdered, described how it feels to the 1997 convention of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association: “Most victims and their families are average citizens — ill-prepared to deal with any of the variety of demands suddenly made upon them. At a time when their coping skills are at their lowest, society somehow expects that we be at our best. The media is inextricably involved in this” (30).


The one thing I really like about Haiman’s book is how he uses good journalism to describe journalism.  By that I mean he finds really good quotes from people who are qualified to have a specific opinion in order to get his point across.  This example of a man who lost his daughter sharing how he and many other victims of crime and the media responded to the media thrusting a mike in their faces is very real.  It’s well put, to the point, and very true.  If your daughter was murdered, of course you aren’t going to give the best quotes.  This is why the news is riddled with people giving quotes like “She was the nicest girl” and “I don’t understand why anyone would do this to our [fill in the blank].”  These feelings are natural, but they aren’t really good quotes because they don’t say anything thousands of other people haven’t said already.  It is the fact that broadcast journalists can get the victim’s parents to cry that really impresses the audience.  The minute you see that loved one cry, you don’t think about what they’re saying, you pity them and thank the news for alerting you to the story.  Print news works similarly.  Although you cannot see the tears, you can still picture them.

            You have to feel bad for journalists, though.  (Well sort of.  They know the job description.)  It is their job to ask the tough questions that in normal life, you’d feel awkward asking a person.  Nobody wants to ask a girl about her dying grandmother for fear you’d make the problem worse because grandma died last night and you didn’t know.  This is why so many of us just don’t ask or ask a different question like “How are you doing?” hoping to get a response that would allow you to at least make an inference.  Being sensitive and yet still getting the necessary information is an art form.  This is why Haiman suggests training.  Read about this on Josie’s blog.


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