December 2009 Archives

Honors Capstone Proposal

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Comparison of Mine Drainage Systems (or lack of) in Somerset, Cambria, and Westmoreland Counties

For my Honors’ Capstone project, I plan to study and compare methods of mine drainage systems. Through the process of studying the mine drainage systems and as a final product of my project, I will also be creating a writing portfolio. This project will require me to incorporate three academic fields: chemistry, biology, and English/journalism.

            The main focus of my project will be to compare the mine drainage systems of Somerset, Cambria, and Westmoreland counties. I will be comparing the different methods and strategies used in each system as well as comparing the cost and efficiency of each system. Also, I will be researching areas with untreated mine drainage to see how the environment around this drainage is affected as well as to determine why there is a lack of a cleanup system. To make my observations, I will be visiting several mine drainage sites and mining areas throughout Somerset, Cambria, and Westmoreland counties. I plan on using the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at St. Vincent College (it utilizes a natural system for cleaning up mine drainage that is highly effective) as a source of comparison. I will compare it others located throughout these three counties. I will also compare this system to areas lacking any effort to clean up mine drainage and compare the results of each situation’s affects on the environment.

            The part of my project that will be related to biology will be the comparison and contrast of the systems as well as studying the consequences from lack of a system. The chemistry aspect of my project will be learning how the different systems are created, how they chemically change the substances draining from mines, and also learning how to test and determine if a water source is being negatively affected from untreated mine drainage. I am also going to include how untreated mine drainage areas/water sources impacts the health of those in the surrounding communities.

            For the English/journalism part of my project, I will first be creating an online web blog journal to keep track of the progress of my project. In this journal, I will discuss my research and observations of my visits to the cleanup sites/untreated areas. Blogging will also permit my project to become invisible to an online audience which allows opportunity for feedback from others interested or possibly involved with these systems. I plan on using this blogging journal as a means to start discussion on the blogs of researchers and others more involved with the topic who have posted their work online. Along with this journal, I will be performing interviews with those working at the St. Vincent site, water authority figures and personal connected to other sites/untreated areas, and residents living in communities surrounding a mine drainage cleanup site or untreated area. To explore further into what the possible human health benefits a mine drainage system can provide to a community, I plan on interviewing health professionals at local hospitals. When visiting cleanup sites, I will be taking pictures (and video when permitted) to add extra media and visual information for my portfolio.

            My main goal for this project is to create a portfolio based off of solid research and investigative reporting that would be presentable and useful in the creation of a proposal for a mine drainage cleanup system in an area where one has not been established. I also would like to use this portfolio as support for proposals I plan on writing to help improve systems that are inefficient or have the potential to become more advanced. Although this is my overall goal, I realize that depending on the information I find, creating a proposal for a system may not be possible (my research on the cost of a system verses the benefits it would bring to a community will be key in determining this). My portfolio will include several sections including: an area discussing the researching I have used, pictures video I have taken, interviews I have conducted, reflections for each of my visits to cleanup sites, reflections for each visit to an untreated site, information on human health effects from systems of lack of, and a section on the methods for determining if a water source is being negatively impacted by mine drainage. Depending on how my project progresses, more categories may be added as needed. My online journal will also be included in this portfolio.

            Through this project, I plan to gain experience with an area in my academic discipline as well as explore two other academic areas out of what I am studying. I hope the combination of the three disciplines will help me to create a final product that will aide in helping to clean up and maintain the environment in mining areas.


Portfolio 4 - A Final Look

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For those unfamiliar with EL227: This is the fourth and final portfolio I have created for my EL227 Newswriting class at Seton Hill University. Throughout the semester, we explored some basics of journalism as well as had the opportunity to practice writing some of our own articles. The blogging portfolios that we created contain collections of individual blogs on certain topics that our class discussed online prior to attending classes.

It feels like December arrived in a hurry this year. Although I am glad to have the semester end (as most of us are by the time finals week rolls around), I still can't believe how quickly the semester passed. In the amount of time spent in Newswriting, I have gained alot of experience with studying and producing different types of journalism. From TV news to physical newspapers to web pages, our class seemed to have covered a good bit of ground. Before getting into my final relfection of the class, take a look at some of my recent, and final, blog posts for the class.


Here are a few blogs to start out with.

 Might Be a Little Too Much - Investigate reporting deals with searching for something someone is trying to hide. I'm trying to do a little bit of this with my Capstone project, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm in over my head with the whole idea.

A Tough Situation - Minority groups in journalism need to be included, both in what is written as well as in the faculty of the newspapers. This topic causes some touchy debates.



These are blogs I managed to get posted on time.

 Two Sides- Unidentified sources, how important are they for the readers? Would readers rather receive news later with identified sources or would they rather receive breaking news as quickly as possible even if some of the sources cannot be identified? There are perks and downsides to both.

The Press Should Protect the Kids - When it comes to interviewing, the press should take special care when interviewing minors. What is quoted could affect them for the rest of their lives. 


For some topics, I had a longer discussion. Check out what caught my interest and kept me typing.

 Daily American vs. Tribune Democrat - Comparing the two papers I receive at home.

Would I Want That to Happen to Me? - Sometimes reporters need to take a step back from their work and consider how they would feel if they were the ones being written about. This self reflection would provide a quick fairness check to their article.

Win-Lose - Freedom of the press: is it being taken advantage of? Where would the line be drawn if it were to become more limited?


This is a blog where I mentioned and linked to a few blogs that belonged to my other classmates.

 The Cavalier  -  A look at a student newspaper. For this particular paper, there were some issues with the way the website was designed.


Here are a couple of comments I left on my classmates' blogs.

Jessie's Blog - Here's  a comment I left on her blog on the discussion of the freedom of the press.

Jen's Blog - Another comment I left on a similar discussion topic.


For this portfolio, I had several blogs that had multiple links included (usually I only have a few). Since we were studying some online newspapers during this section, alot of links needed to be used in order to show what I was talking about.

 Series - An analysis of a slide show and related articles in the New York Times. The combination of the two allows readers to have options.

Comparing Sites - These are the links I used for some basic research for my Article 4, a practice exercise of investigative reporting. The Santa Monica link will probably be included in my final copy of the article, as an example of a link that would lead readers to more information about the topic covered.

Backup Needed - Our class was supposed to look at a website that provided information mainly through videos. I couldn't get any of the videos to work, causing me to miss out on the information. So, I decided to blog about how a website shouldn't have only one means of providing information, there should be a second option, or a back up plan, in case one method fails.

Addition or Distraction? - This blog takes a look at an article on and explores how the several links that are provided in Wired's articles tends to allow the reader to get a little distracted from what they were orignally reading. However, sometimes the distraction can lead to additional information about the topic that can be important for the reader.

Harvard News - A look at a student newspaper. This paper had an organized chaos look that worked well for catching readers' attention to articles as well as providing a lot of information at a glance.


For my wildcard, I chose a few different pieces. The first is my Honors Capstone Proposal, which is kind of the kickoff to online blog journal I have to create for it. The other three pieces are the three portfolios I created earlier in this class.

Honors Capstone Proposal

Portfolio 1: Learning the Basics

Portfolio 2: A Second Collection 

Portfolio 3: The Semester is Flying


~ Relfection on Class ~

    I felt like we covered alot of different topics in journalism and were able to learn a little bit about each. I also feel as if my writing as overall improved, even when not writng news articles because I have learned how to become more condensed with my writing and not use so many fillers. The in class activities, such as mock press conferences and guest speakers helped me to understand how prepared and quick thinking a journalist has to be. Getting to write different styles of articles for the class also helped me to understand how to write differently depending on the situation and the audience.

   I think the only suggestion I have is that there could have been more opportunities for peer reviews as more as more experience with writing some of the articles. However, I think alot of this depends on the time alotted for the class, in this case there was only fifity minutes to work with.


Thanks for checking my portfolio out, feel free to leave comments. Bye!

Back to class




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"Yet that faith in a free press was tempered over the decades by what he regarded as grossly unfair reporting" (Haiman 72).

As we have discussed before, news can do unrepairable damage. Some people may feel "attack" by news reporters while many feel that the right to privacy has been disregarded in trying to get good journalism.

However, if the freedom of the press was to become more restrained and forced to become more conservative, where would the line be drawn? In order to slow down and pull back on a press that is claimed to have taken advantage of their freedoms, limits would have to be set. But where would the limits end?

Public figures sometimes feel they are attacked by newsreporters, even when there isn't a story to be found. Even though they may complain, wouldn't they want the same reporters to questions other public figures who affect society if something could possibly be going on, even if the outcome was there was nothing to report? The same would apply to non-public figures as well. I think with this people too often only look at their own personal sitatuon, rather than looking how what they are proposing about what should be done with the freedom of the press would affect our nation in general. Yes, you may want limits to freedom of reporting when a reporter is trying to interrogate you, but I'm sure no one was complaining that the press had too much freedom when the Madoff situation first appeared. It would be a win-lose situation if limits were put on the press: it may prevent harm from happening in one story, but it may cause something important for the public to know to be lost in another.

Back to class.

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