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October 31, 2005

Chapters 6 & 7

"The lesson seems clear enough: don't trust a poll's answers unless you can examine the poll's questions. In particular, unless you see the poll's questions, don't trust a poll commmissioned by an organization that uses the poll to support its own predetermined position, since the questions may well have been rigged to reach the organization's desired conclusion."
*This makes perfect sense. Who would want information that may be false. The polls should always show what questions were asked. 1. This will help make the news program a more reliable source of information because readers/viewers aren't second guessing themselves. 2. Readers/viewers will be more aware of what the poll is really about.

"When you ask directly, you get more information."
*Wouldn't it make sense to always ask directly? That way, the asker is getting more CORRECT information rather then hinting to certain questions trying to get answers.

*I found that I would rather be interviewed in person rather then on the phone. I, as the interviewee, like to see how the interviewer looks and what facial expressions s/he may give after answering a question.

"Still, it's wise to be somewhat skeptical, both about fairy tales and about risk narratives. It's always important to know what we do (and don't) know about the extent of the risk, and the ways in which the risk can most prudently and expeditiously be reduced if not eliminated. Good reporting about risk addresses those issues; too often, bad reporting only encourages us to live fearfully ever after."

Posted by ElyseBranam at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2005

Chapter 5 -- It Ain't Necessarily So

This chapter was pretty cut and dry. "It's not that two bits of data can contradict one another; it's that the same bit of data can be read in (at least) two ways." This happens alot in the newspaper. However, I noticed it a couple of years ago when I was talking to some friends on AOL and was taking what they were saying in a totally wrong way. After realizing that we were on two different pages, I decided that AOL isn't the best way to have a conversation. Just as a newspaper isn't always the best way to report information.

"You draw one conculision if you emphasize the raw data and a substantially different conclusion if you emphasize the percentages."

"Again, it's a good idea to be skeptical of a news story that cites only percentages, or only raw numbers; stories that cite both are more likely to enable you to realize whether the glass is half empty or half full."

Posted by ElyseBranam at 7:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2005

TAKE PART IN THIS! (chapter 4)

"CBS misreported the FRAC study, which claimed that one out of eight children had gone hungry at some point in the previous year -- not that one out of eight was currently hungry."
*Obviously CBS made an inaccurate statement. Couldn't they have been fined because of their statement that was NOT made by the FRAC but published in a newspaper?

I related "hungry" and "being poor" to "being in love." For instance, how does one define "love." Love can be many different ideas to many different people. Love, itself, can be made into a proxy. What is love and how does one define it? Love could be the butterflies someone feels when they see their special someone. To others, love could be that "cant eat, cant sleep,reach for the stars, over the fence, world series" type of thing! I enjoyed reading this chapter because I could compare and contrast the subjects of matter. What do YOU think love is? (I think it would be cool to see everyone's feedback.) So, take part in the activity!!

Posted by ElyseBranam at 2:24 PM | Comments (0)

Chapters 2-3 It Ain't Necessarily So

After reading these two chapters, I noticed that the authors seem to only state articles from the New York Times. I was wondering if they (the authors) were doing this on purpose. Is it because New York Times is one of the most popular news papers?

On page 35, the author wrote, "If newsorthy stories are sometimes ignored by the media, it's also true that what's not very newsworthy sometimes makes headlines." I live in a small town and I found this to be true with the newspaper I read. Each week the paper will write an article about a local person and what they are doing with their lives. If an out of towner were to read the newspaper, the article would have very little importance. However, I think because of the close-knit community, the article, although it isn't very newsworthy, is newsworthy to those community members who do care and are interested in what someone else is doing to make a difference in someone's life.

"Don't confuse me with the facts." This quote brought back something that I mentioned in class last week. Too many times, journalists tend to write ALL the facts. Just like last weeks exercises, (where we were asked to remove all the un-necessary details) I feel that articles should not try to confuse the reader with ALL the worthless factual details. Who needs to know that a crime took place at 319th street on a rainy and foggy night?

"But new accounts, as we stated above, should aim for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth -- not the excitement, the whole excitement, and nothing but the excitement." I enjoyed this quote because although I like reading about exciting subjects, I find it more important to read about truthful subjects that I can relate to.

"Tomato statistics: cases in which news reports call attention to alarmingly high numbers of criminal incidents by obscuring the crucial differences that make a few of the incidents far worse than the vast majority of the others." I agree with this quote. Why is that, that news reporters try to make a mountain out of a molehill? If it's not important or newsworthy, then don't write about it! We, as readers, probably don't want to hear it and will end up flipping the page anyway!

""Broad Scope" definition "generally defines the problem the way the persons involved might define it. It includes more minor episodes that may nonehteless be alarming to the participants": to say this, of course, is also to say that the broad-scope definition may include episodes that did not alarm the participants."<--Just thought I'd put that in there incase anyone forget what that was!

Posted by ElyseBranam at 1:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2005

It Ain't Necessarily So (Prologue, Intro, Chapter 1)

Caveat Lector -- "Let the reader beware"

I now understand that in order to fully understand the news and its headings, one must learn the culture of media and the process by which news is made. What does that mean? Well, that is what we, as a class, are going to find out by reading this book. "The primary goal of this book is to reveal the inner workings -- the choices, judgements, arrangements, spinnings, deletions, and framings -- of the news process as it engages with research-based portraits of our world."

The first part of this book stressed about "gatekeepers." Gatekeepers are the third parties that intervene between the news consumer and the source. These parties monitor, condense, evaluate, and recast information for us, sparing us the trouble and guiding us past pitfalls.

"While we must attend to the "who, what, when, where, and why" that affect our daily lives, we must also remember not to treat them as self-evident "found objects" of our experience."

With this being said, the author leaps into another statement, "Everyone is familiar with the observation that the closer we are to event that makes the news, the less satisfied we are with the coverage."
*This poses as a true statement because when a news event hits home, that article would be valued as more of an emotional article because the people who are reading the news are going to feel a certain way about what they are reading and will have questions as to why something was or was not displayed in the article. I have seen this happen several times in my hometown newspaper.

Any feedback? :)

Posted by ElyseBranam at 6:33 PM | Comments (0)

AP Guide to News Writing -- Chapter 11

"If you feel the decorative impuse coming on, lie down until it goes away."
This quote was too cute NOT to put in. It brought a smile to my face because of how it was stated. I learned from this chapter that strong feature writing is simple and clear yet orderly and free of those mannerisms that we all have. (For instance, the writer should not be making a blueprint for his or her article. Instead, just let everything come natural and by itself.)

In features the point of the article may be postponed. However, in a straight news story there is never any doubt of the point that is trying to be played across.

"The news story starts from an event. The feature story starts from an idea."

"I find it helpful to copy down emotions, observations and passing thoughts on how I feel about what I'm witnessing or hearing, mainly because I may never feel that way again when I sit down to write," he has said. "I take endless notes on everything I hear and see and smell and think or moon about."
This statement reminds me of how the reporter acted as she asked the Katrina victem about where his wife was. (If anyone remembers, she got very emotional and almost broke down on camera.)

"Good feature writing proceeds from good reporting."

Posted by ElyseBranam at 4:17 PM | Comments (0)

Briefing On Media Law

"The news stories that generate the most claims of injury to reputaion -- the basis of libel -- are run-of-the-mill."

"The lesson is twofold: one, there is no substitute for accuracy, and, two, news organizations may face legal challenges to what they publish -- even when they have accurately reported statements made by someone else, as in the case of a phony engagement announcement."

I found the second sentence in quotations intriguing. The author is correct when he states that there is no substitute for accuracy. However I did not realize that news organizations could face legal claiims to what they publish, even if they accurately reported these statements! I am still not quite understanding this. Is it when a reporter hears something that someone said and takes it and publishes it without the "okay" from the person who said it? I thought this MAY be it, but didn't know.

The Chapters...
Ha. Just incase anyone happened to not pick this up, libel means "injury to reputation." :) The difference between libel and slander is that libel is written, or printed in this case, and slander is spoken. AND the term defamation includes both terms.

"California is an example of a state that distinguishes substantively between libel and slander. In California, a slander, is also defined by statute, is a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered which: (1) charges a person with commiting a crime or with having been indicted, convicted or punished for a crim; (2) alleges that a person is infected with a contagious or lathsome disease; (3) imputes a person is generally unqualified to perform his job or tends to lessen the profits of someone's profession, trade, or business; (4) imputes impotence or want of chasity, or (5) by natural consequence charges actual damage."

*Could someone explain to me how 4 and 5 fit into the picture?

The author states in Chapter Two that "A common misconception regarding the law of libel is that the publisher of a true and accurate quote of a statement containing libelous allegations is immune from suit if the quoted statement was actually made and was accurately transcribed by the reporter."
Does this mean, if something is true and someone actually said it, it's okay to publish it and the publisher can't get in trouble? Meaning, you aren't libel for the information? Because if this is true, then why did the author state the exact opposite in the introduction?

"There is no such thing as a false idea..."

Posted by ElyseBranam at 3:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2005

What an activity!!!

I was extremely overwhelmed by our lab on Friday, October 21, 2005. Not only did I try to write down the WHOLE article at first, but obviously I didn't understand the directions! Therefore, the first reading for me was not of any use because during the ten minutes we actually had to write, I couldn't remember anything about the story because I was still stuck on the first paragraph! I can remember looking up and giving Prof. Jerz a blank stare for about two minutes wondering, "What in the world am I going to write about?" After rereading the article, I had a better understanding of the article. After writing my article and then listening to my classmates talk, I realized that I was only half correct. I know this is a learning experience but I was definately not ready for this one! I was ecstatic when Jerz announced that this was only a "lab" meaning "practice" and therefore the activity would be worth ZERO points!! Whew! This was a fun way to end my week. I enjoyed trying something new, even though (as I said before) it was difficult. However, I am sp glad we all were in the same boat. (Looking back now, I can remember looking at Denamarie and both of our eyes lit up and seemed to be saying, "Oh my gosh. This is yet another activity that will lower my grade...and I can not afford this!" ) Once again, I enjoyed the activity and it was definately a worthwhile experience!

Posted by ElyseBranam at 1:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005


Elyse Branam
October 13, 2005
News Writing

Should Cheerleading be called a “Sport?”
By Elyse Branam

Forget the American stereotype of the blonde-haired cheerleader in a tight sweater longing for the muscled quarterback. The world of cheerleading no longer means a group of girls dressed in their uniforms who stand on a sideline solely to support other teams.
Cheerleading has evolved over the past twenty years from being an activity where members were selected based on their popularity to an activity that now selects a squad through a mandatory tryout.
Jessica Davies, a freshman at Pittsburgh, said, “A tryout consists of a cheer or chant, dance, stunting, and tumbling. The tryout is judged on stiff-arm motions, correct dance movements, perfect tumbling passes, attitude, and facial expressions.”
Cheerleading is a sport that combines gymnastics, acrobatics and dance, strength, communication, trust, sportsmanship, pride, teamwork, athleticism, and competition.
The University of Kentucky cheerleading coach, Saleem Habash, states, “The gymnastics ability, power, and strength make cheerleaders some of the most well-grounded athletes on campus.”
The gymnastics and dance skills are very challenging. Other athletes in school are not able to perform the skills that cheerleaders are able to perform.
Ashley Rosman, a Pittsburgh cheerleader, said “Any able bodied person can throw, kick, or even hit a ball, though not as well as the varsity player. However, few top athletes can perform the gymnastic stunts that cheerleaders can.”
Cheerleading involves skills, which require excellent strength while possessing the grace of dance and the agility of gymnastics.
Because cheerleaders compete for national championships, colleges recruit these athletes for scholarships. Cheerleaders deserve respect for the spirit they present at school, throughout the community, and at the many different sporting events.
The primary purpose of being a cheerleader is not competition, but raising school unification and spirit through leading a crowd or team at athletic functions.
The AACCA states, “It is often assumed that competition is necessary to make an activity a sport. These competitors give their whole heart to the game these athletes play. Many of these sports stars sweat, use much of their strength, and even cry after a sporting event, which is due to the over-exertion of time and energy. These athletes give all they can on and off the field of play. The players learn that there is no “I” in team and must encourage each other to do well.”
What is it that qualifies an activity to be a sport? Is it the ball? No, because wrestling is a sport and it does not contain a ball. Could it be the audience? No, the audience at cheerleading outnumber competitions those at many athletic events.
Cheerleading, more than any other sport in the United States, teaches important skills such as cooperation. Cheerleaders, like other athletes practice, compete, have rules, go through training, sweat, fall, get hurt, but most importantly, dedicate their lives to the sport of cheerleading.

Posted by ElyseBranam at 1:22 PM | Comments (2)

If they don't bleed, you don't read!--Crime Beat Issues

Lou had mentioned in class today, "In general, the media usually puts a negative spin on the story." However, is this true about crime articles? I cannot recall when I read an article about a crime and had noticed that the reporters had put a negative spin on that article. It doesn't normally happen, does it? Maybe I just haven't noticed it. I also realize that being involved in a crime investigation allows a reporter to "bring out his or her own creativity at the expense of others" but doesn't the community want to know what is going on? How do we, as readers, expect to be aware of a crime if reporters aren't going to report them? (Just a different way spin from in class.)

Posted by ElyseBranam at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

October 12, 2005

Homecoming Pitch

What Happened to the Homecoming Queen?
By Elyse Branam
“A tongue-in-cheek spoof of beauty pageants with couples from various campus organizations competing for the coveted King of the Hill and Queen of the Hill crowns. The audience is sure to be in stitches with these hilarious antics as we select our 2nd annual King and Queen of the Hill,” was a topic that was posted on the Seton Hill University’s website.
As students walked towards Cecilian Hall at 9:00 on Friday night, many were upset when they found an empty room. Obviously, word had not spread about the cancellation of the crowning of the King and Queen on the Hill.
“I was shocked when I realized that there wasn’t going to be a Queen of the Hill. At my high school, homecoming was such a huge event. I would have never thought of not having a Homecoming Queen…” a bystander said.
A Homecoming Court usually consists of seniors. In high school, 17- or 18-year-old students in their final year are represented while college students, who are completing the last year of study, are represented.
Local rules determine when and where the Homecoming Queen and King are crowned. Sometimes, the awaited announcement ends a pep rally or school assembly. Other schools crown their royalty at a Homecoming football game or dance.
“How can a University like Seton Hill have a whole weekend dedicated to Homecoming and Family Day with at least fifteen activities planned and not have a Homecoming Queen? Is this the way things are going to be in the upcoming years?” Rachel Grime, a freshman who lives in Brownlee, said.
Cory Bowser, a freshman from Somerset, Pennsylvania said, “In my high school, I found the crowning of the Homecoming Queen to be a fun and exciting experience. Seeing the court dressed up and walking down the track with their handsome dates in one hand and their five-year old escorts in the other always makes any student’s night a memorable one.”
Classmates traditionally nominate students who have gone above the call of duty to make their school seem like a worthwhile environment. Once the Homecoming Court candidates are announced over a loud speaker the entire student body votes for the Queen and King with a secret ballot.
“I wanted to run for Homecoming Queen with my friend, AJ, who lives upstairs. We had this amazing idea. I was going to wear a black suit and he was going to wear a dress that would be purchased from The Salvation Army. We were going to tell “your mom” jokes and hopefully win the contest. I was upset when I heard that the contest was canceled, but in the same note, I realize that college students have busy schedules and tend to be oblivious to what is going on around them.” Jill, a freshman from Brownlee, said.
The crowning method differentiates between schools. At some schools, the previous royalty will walk behind the nominated court before going up to the winner and placing a crown on her head. In another case, an emcee may read the name of the winner, again with the past royalty crowning her.
Many students at Seton Hill are beginning to wonder how the crowning method will come into play next year during Homecoming.
“If Seton Hill has a homecoming queen next year, who will crown her? I hope the University has a contest next year. It was something that was missed by the students who wanted to attend.” Lauren Hall, a resident of Seton Hill, said.

Posted by ElyseBranam at 8:06 PM | Comments (1)

Blog Portfolio 2

This is the my second blog portfolio of my freshman Fall Semester of News Writing EL227. My name is Elyse Branam and I want to give you a warm welcome to my News Writing blog. I am a freshman at Seton Hill University where I am majoring in English Education and playing soccer as well as cheering.

The entries you are about to view are posted to the public. This entry is my introduction to the rest of blog portfolio which will include my selections that reflect on what I am learning in class and the homework assignments in which Dr. Jerz is assigning. The following areas of writing will be discussed in my portfolio:

Elyse's Collection:

For my coverage/depth entry, I chose a blog entry that reflected upon the reading I did in The Elements of Journalism on Chapters 6 and 7. I duscuss the three main forms of investigative journalism and express my own thoughts about them as well.

For another coverage and depth entry, I discuss how the news is being discussed and have an opposing view on what The Elements of Journalism is stating. I wrote about how newspapers do not cover just one specific area of interest, but rather an abundant amount of information throughout the newspaper.

The Comment Grande- I commented on Johanna's blog on how I had never seen Morgan Spurlock's movie "Super Size Me" and instatntly felt like I had the movie memorized like the back of my hand. I also explained how I had never seen a speaker like Morgan. He was entertaining, informative, and interesting...ALL AT ONCE!

Comment Informative- I commented on Denamarie's blog and noted my own personal experience from my perspective. I too had experienced what Dena is wanting to write about and thought I would bring it to her attention.

Comment Primo- I have commented in Rachel's blog about how I disliked the cafeteria's breakfast food. That was until I ate at the Midnight Breakfast. I made a comparison to the movie "Hook" and explained that I had an endless option when it came to choosing what to eat.

The Link Gracious- In this blog entry I discussed Morgan Spurlock. I liked how Michael added his own sense of humor and sarcasm to his reflection paper. I also agreed with Michael's statement when he wrote, "The fact is, "parents" are too damn lazy and whatever to deal with their kids. It's much easier to bring home a greasy bag of garbage for dinner than actually cook. If you have time issues, "Oh, we're sooo busy with work and everything else," surprise.. DONT HAVE KIDS." I couldn't agree more. Parents have a responsibility..and a BIG one at that! They need to act responsible and teach their children the correct ways of living!

Other Entries:
I really enjoy reflecting back on what I've read. Therefore, I have included all of my reflections...

Blogged Class Articles:
For the class' Homecoming Pitch, I wondered, What Happened to the Queen?
Morgan Spurlock Article Lecture

Posted by ElyseBranam at 4:40 PM | Comments (0)

Chapter 10

::Question about Truthfulness::
I realize that we, as citizens, have the right to expect that what we read in the newspaper is true and can be varified. However, isn't there a way to bend the truth or not give the whole truth? Is it possible if I said, "I can't stand my roommate because she is always playing loud music." to change the statement into, "I can't stand my roommate..." Readers could get the wrong idea, but in a way, the statement isn't entirely false. What are your thoughts about this?

Posted by ElyseBranam at 1:13 PM | Comments (3)

Ann Stadler...

What were your thoughts about class today? I thought it was nice to hear from an actual Setonian editor. I never even realized that there were handicapped parking spaces in Lot D. (This could be due to the fact that I don't drive, therefore, I have no reason to complain or find a problem about searching for a parking space.) Ann's idea was both creative and definately an eye-opener to most students on campus. I also liked how she explained that the writer needs to explain how the problem is going to be solved. (That way, the readers will see the problem and understand why the problem has happened.) Overall, class was very interesting and I enjoyed listening to everyone's comments about not only Ann's article but the Tribune Review as well.

Posted by ElyseBranam at 1:00 PM | Comments (4)

October 10, 2005

Chapter 9 - The Elements of Journalism -

::The Pressure to Hype::

I thought this passage was humurous. "If you want to attract an audience, you could go down to a street corner, do a striptease, and get naked. You would probably attract a crowd in a hurry." ...How do newspapers and reporters keep their readers coming back for more? I have noticed however, after reading US Weekly for the millionth time, the editors only put well-known, dramatic people on the cover. Over the past several weeks Jessica Simpson has basically been on the cover of each and every US Weekly. Obviously, the editors method is working because people are buying the magazine and Simpson is repeatedly on the cover.

Posted by ElyseBranam at 12:40 PM | Comments (5)

Chapter 8

::Engaging versus Relevant::
The author asks the question, "Should we emphasize news that is fun and fascinating, and plays on our sensations? Or should we stick to the news that is the most important?" I realize that people of all ages read the newspaper. I feel this was a "going no-where" question because many times, a newspaper will have several different articles including opinions, facts, entertainment, and even sports. A single person will most likely not read a whole newspaper, however, he or she will most likely only read what interests him or her.

Posted by ElyseBranam at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

Morgan Spurlock Visits Seton Hill University

Before he received a standing ovation, Morgan Spurlock, director and actor in the movie Super Size Me, closed his humorous lecture by saying, “You can shift the world with one thought… It’s up to you! Find it! Believe in it! … Just as you guys want to be inspired, I want to be inspired every single day as well.”
Morgan Spurlock spoke at Seton Hill University to people of all ages on Thursday night in Cecilian Hall about his movie, the consequences of eating fast food every meal for thirty days straight, and how he became inspired to create such a “really good, bad movie!”
Spurlock became inspired after sitting down on the couch Thanksgiving Day, to watch television. After seeing a program on two girls who were suing McDonalds for “getting them fat” an idea clicked in his head. “There’s a basis here for an argument.” Spurlock said to himself.
“But why McDonalds?” a bystander asked.
Spurlock explained, “McDonalds feeds more than 46 million people a day. That restaurant is feeding more people than any other fast food restaurant…That’s almost 17 billion people per year.”
The audience mumbled while Spurlock continued, “…Then a friend came to me and asked me, is this movie realistic?”
Spurlock answered his question, “Many people I know eat McDonalds for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch, and order a Dominos’ pizza for dinner. These are all fast food restaurants. Therefore, yes, this movie is realistic.”
Another question was brought to Spurlock’s attention, “Well, don’t parents usually make dinner a couple times a week for their children?”
The audience laughed and clapped for Spurlock when he said, “I hate to tell you, if you’re eating McDonald’s five or six times a week, you’re eating shit all the time!”
After the first three weeks of filming the movie, Spurlock became worried when he noticed changes throughout his body such as massive chest pain, increase in cholesterol, and a liver that was compared to that of an alcoholic. When asking his brother what to do, his brother said, “Morgan, people eat this shit their whole lives. You really think it will kill you in nine more days?”
Since the making of the movie, Spurlock hasn’t been into the McDonalds restaurant. “I haven’t even been in McDonalds to pee!” said Spurlock.
Spurlock has been put on a nutrition program that was designed by his girlfriend to help him lose the weight he gained throughout the thirty days.

Posted by ElyseBranam at 1:36 AM | Comments (0)

Elements of Journalism (6-8)

Out of the three main forms of investigative journalism: original investigative reporitng, interpretative investigative reporting, and reporting on investigations, I personally would be most interested in "reporting on investigations." I feel reporting on investigations would be a very upbeat job. For one, the news reporter would always be covering a topic that atleast SOMEONE is interested in...whether it be a friend or relative...and secondly, this type of investigative journalism would keep the reporter extremely busy and on top of his or her work.

Just a comment on Chapter 7...
Although I do enjoy reading the news and the cold hard facts, I find an interest in readint the opinion columns in the newspaper. The opinion columns able a member of the community to share their thoughts about an upcoming community project or allow a journalist to express how he or she truly feels about a situation. There was a man by the name of Mike O'Brien who wrote for Somerset's Daily American. I loved reading his articles when they discussed his opinions. ...How do you feel?

Posted by ElyseBranam at 12:55 AM | Comments (0)