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October 2005 Archives

October 1, 2005

Undefeated Team

arty soccer pic.jpg
Seton Hill Women's Soccer Team 12-0
I took this picture and I thought it was really cool and artsy.

October 3, 2005

Chapter 5: Elements of Journalism

Chapter 5: Independence from Faction

I liked this chapter especially because I feel like I can learn a lot from this topic. Ok…so I have very strong opinions about certain issues in my head but, I can’t write what I think because that is opinionated journalism. I get that. I know that when I start having to actually write about political or heated topics that I may have to refer back to this chapter. When I was younger (maybe 9th grade) I was really ignorant to other people’s view. I made sure that everyone knew my opinion on issues like abortion, separation of church and state as well as gay marriage.

I thought that the louder I tooted my horn of opinion, the louder it would recoil in the ears of my peers, eventually leading them to believe what I did. This clearly was not the way to go. I have matured greatly since then and find that now I do not have to associate myself with one group or another. The person who is best at arguing is the one that can argue both sides equally. Journalism kind of works in the same way…you can’t associate with one idea/group/opinion. Independence from faction simply implies that you are taking yourself out of a certain category in order to write an objective and fair story about it.

October 6, 2005

Morgan Spurlock Speaks at SHU...

Spurlock Montage.JPG

More Pictures Morgan Spurlock 10/06/05 at SHU

Note: After you click on the above link, right click and save the pop up image to your desktop. This will allow you to view the last picture(s) that may not be visible in all browser windows.

October 7, 2005

Spurlock Article

Morgan Spurlock Speaks at Seton Hill University
By: Leslie Rodriguez

Seton Hill University (SHU) began their annual “An Inspiring Perspective” lecture series Thursday Oct., 6 with speaker Morgan Spurlock. Spurlock is best known for his role in the documentary-style Oscar nominated film “Super Size Me” but was also at SHU to talk about his novel Don’t Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America. Professor of communication, Frank Klapak gave Spurlock’s introduction, relating the two men’s similar lives and highlighting Spurlock’s achievements in a comical manner.

“Morgan Spurlock may be the intellectual’s jackass,” said Klapak, relating Spurlock’s unique way of proving points to the actions of those on the popular MTV show “Jackass”.

Spurlock, who has been lecturing at colleges across the country since the release of his book in May 2005 warns his audiences of big business and the corporate agenda running such fast food restaurants as McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s. He also referred to the targeting of children by these restaurants from such a young age and the use of movie tie-ins to sell more Happy Meals.

“McDonalds appeals to children. The entire purpose of a Happy Meal is to draw them in. They nag their parents until they take them (the kids) there because they want the toy inside the box,” said Spurlock.

Throughout the course of the thirty day filming of “Super Size Me” Spurlock gained a whopping 25lbs and developed a fatty liver along with other heath problems. Critics bashed Spurlock’s movie “Super Size Me” as being unrealistic and untrue to the actual eating habits of average Americans he refutes this claim.

“This movie is so realistic and that’s what’s scary,” Spurlock continued, “I have a friend that goes to McDonalds for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch and then order’s Dominos pizza for dinner and he thinks he’s eating from different food groups.”

The lecture, located in Seton Hill’s Cecilian Hall was sold out and filled with a mixture of students, faculty, alumnae and people from the community. Laura Lemoine, a cross-country runner and dietetics major at SHU was very impressed with Spurlock’s presentation and delivery.

Lemoine said, “I did read the book before coming here tonight but seeing him talk about all these things in person was better than anything I could have read. He was incredibly funny but offered a serious message.”

Spurlock is currently working on several new productions that include his FX television show “30 Days” which is an unscripted, documentary-style show where an individual is inserted into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion or profession for 30 days. Also Spurlock is directing “Class Act” another documentary that sports the tagline “Prepare for the role of your lifetime.”

Spurlock will continue to travel and lecture at colleges across the country through December.

October 8, 2005

Homecoming Article

S.H.U Cancels Family Day Game Show

Seton Hill University’s (SHU) homecoming began Thursday Sept., 29th with a bonfire and pep rally and ended Sunday Oct., 2nd. The much anticipated homecoming event, the Student Feud was cancelled late Saturday night around 11 p.m. after the head of Student Activities and Commuter Life, Jaimie Steel, was contacted by the feud’s booking agent. The show was cancelled due to the theft of Preferred Entertainment, (the feud company) laptop computer Friday night at another college campus. The computer featured the Student Feud software program.

Steel was told by the booking agent that the program the runs the game on this laptop costs $5,000 and will not be easy to replace right away. Steel speculates that the computer program may not have been insured because of constant travel from one school to another and the very prevalent risk of theft. She expressed her understanding for Preferred Entertainment’s predicament and eventual cancellation of the feud.

“It is sometimes hard to get insurance for those types of things. Plus it was short notice for them to just go out and get another program and computer the day before they were coming up to Seton Hill,” Steel said.

The Student Feud homecoming event was one that many faculty members, families, students and alumnae looked forward to attending. Sunday, was a day specifically designated as Family Day at SHU. On this day there were supposed to be various family oriented events including a carnival on Sullivan lawn as well as the Student Feud game show. The feud was to be located in front of the newly constructed McKenna Recreational Center at 1 p.m.

The Student Feud is a family feud style game show that places five players on each team. The teams respond to survey questions and compete against one another. There was to be a judge, an audience and a host for this event. According to Jaimie Steel, there was no pre-registry for the event even though Preferred Entertainment usually requires that participants sign up in advance. Instead, SHU requested not to require a pre-registry for the program because of the lack of success they have had in the past with turn outs dependent on pre-registered participants.

SHU anticipated that the turnout for the Student Feud would be composed largely of people that attended the Family Day carnival located near by on Sullivan lawn. People filtering out from the Family Day brunch were also expected to attend.

There was some discrepancy about the cancellation of the feud on Sunday at around 1 p.m., it’s scheduled start time. Several families were wandering on Sullivan lawn asking about where the feud was located and even investigated Sullivan gymnasium, the feud’s rain location. Beth Zapola, a participant in family day was shocked and disappointed when she and her family could not locate the feud.

“We all got ready early and wanted to play the feud game. When we arrived at Sullivan there was no one around. Not even in the gym upstairs. I never heard anything about it being cancelled and neither did my parents who were at school all weekend. It was a bummer,” said Zapola.

Parents registering for family day on Sunday were in fact notified at registration of the event’s cancellation and there were several signs posted down by the Lowe dining hall. Jaimie Steel claims she was also in the vicinity of the feud game at 1:00pm in order to direct lost or confused parents that may have been wondering what had happened to the event. George Brattina heard about the feud’s cancellation by chance in a passing conversation with Kathy Fajt of Student Services.

“I was on my way to the game and she (Kathy Fayt) told me it had been cancelled because their computer was stolen. I had been looking forward to playing the game,” said Brattina.

SHU has hosted other game shows on campus in the past and hopes that some day the feud can come to the campus. Though the game did not occur, Laura Stracko, who invited her family to school on Sunday didn’t feel disappointed about it’s cancellation at all.

Stracko said, “The game would have been fun, but the important thing is that I got to spend the day with my family.”

October 9, 2005

How cool of a banner would this make?

Just playing around with my blog this weekend. Trying to figure out a better way to put this banner up. I tried it in the main index/archives and then just straight through my Stylesheet. Works best the first way but I had this small annoying white line that bulged over to the left slightly. I resized it (the banner), tinkered with my CSS Container and still couldn't get rid of one bug.


Chapter 6: Elements of Journalism

Chapter 7: Monitor Power & Voice to the Voiceless

I am learning more and more each time that I read from this book. I mean ps, it was news to me that in 1964 Investigative Reporting really became popular. Here I was all this time thinking that it had just been around forever, which I believe is still somewhat of a true assumption. It just wasn't in it's current state. The role of the journalist is another thing that is constantly being defined for me throughout this book. We are around to serve as independent monitors of power.

I also never heard of the Watch Dog Role before and it's close link to the Freedom of Information Act which really allowed the press to be FREE.

There are three forms of Investigative Reporting:
1.Original Investigative Reporting
2.Interpretive Investigative Reporting
3.Reporting On Investigations

The three forms defined:
a.Reporters discovering previously unknown things.
b.Taking a pre-established idea and interpreting it in the news. This form can be heavily torn apart by critics.
c.Basically investigating and investigation. Looking into a governemnt leak of information about a certain study is an example.

The Watch Dog role has weakened over the past few years because of the lack of real investigative reporting on television. Television producers ignore the facts and are only concerned with making good television. This actually reminds me of this funny Ellen DeGeneres bit when she is talking about local television stations and their pathetic investigative expose'(s). They suck you into the program but once it begins there is no useful content.

She sees a commercial that says, "Watch tonight at six-o'clock for the life threatening dangers of toxic mold in your household," and Ellen says, "Well let's hope my house doesn't have it because it's only 4pm and we've got some time to kill."

I agreed with Elyse Branam when she said in her blog that she found investigating investigations to be the most interesting of the three forms of reporting. But I do not necesarily agree with the statement that it would be very upbeat. You may uncover a lot of things that some find hard to follow and often shocking.

Chapter 7: Elements of Journalism

Ch 7: Journalism as a Public Forum
-Journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and comment.-

I could not believe the Cody Shearer and Chris Matthews’s story depicted in The Elements of Journalism, Chapter 7. It all goes back to the idea of fact checking and fairness to the public. Generally I am a fan of Hardball as well as Matthews but this incident was unbelievable coming from a professional on air journalist. It is understandable that he was trying to draw out and lead on Willey but he was only trying to get her to talk. He didn’t need to exclaim on national television that it was indeed Shearer that threatened her because that was what people came to believe. If someone says something on television and it is taken out of context it can be bad. Rush Limbaugh did not help matters either with his addition to the hype but then again look at where he has ended up.

Public opinion can be swayed in many ways and it is the job of the news media to act as a mediator or referee. I like that idea. Unless you are writing an opinion piece in a magazine or an editorial than this is the job you as a journalist are setting out to do. You are there to show both sides of a story even if you personally agree with one more than the other. I liked the example that Jerz brought up in class about the doubt that the man was committing self defense when he strangled a smaller woman in NY central park last week. The journalist doubted the story so he made a weight comparison between the man and woman to show she was non-threatening. He did not come out and say that this guy was a liar or a murderer but it was implied that he doubted the story.

I did not agree with the idea presented in this chapter about becoming a slave to technology. I think that more than ever before it is a tool for journalists but can get them into a lot of trouble if not used correctly. I personally hope to become part of an environment in my future vocation that is in fact technologically based journalism. I would love to be able to run an online newspaper page, edit, blog and even work on technical writing online for website design.

In regard to the ‘Argument Culture’ that is talked about in the latter part of the chapter I can totally see it’s appeal in more than these debate talk shows like Crossfire and Hardball. There has been such a mass response to Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones and Maury’s style of broadcasting that it is bound to find its way into the political and news media circle as well. The people get what they want. Apparently in this day and age conflict and ‘food fights’ (as mentioned in the book) are what the public wants to view. They would rather see squabbling and pseudo journalism than a real debate. But then again have you ever seen a serious political debate on television?

October 12, 2005

Tribune Review: Oct. 11th Edition

Ok first of all let me say that it was hell tracking down a copy of this paper on campus today. When I went down to the dining hall to check for the usual stack of papers the pile was non-existent. Apparently the paper was not delivered today, which is what I later found out from both Jay Pugh and Ashley Welker. It was not until 12:00am that I was lucky enough to get a copy of the paper from Katie Aikins.

The article entitled, "Missing man's body found in river" was one that I found interesting and informative. I chose to write a response about this article because it is referring to a Greensburg man. Local news is the news that a majority of people care about. I mean come on, everyone wants to know whats happening in their own backyards. I thought the layout of this article was very unique in the sense that it was placed on the lower right side of the paper and included two images with it.

One picture was a small head shot of the drowning victim and the other was a much larger picture shot from behind of two friends leaving the scene of his body. I wondered if the low placement of the article on the page had to deal with the subject matter or just the need of the paper to fit it into a particular space.

I really thought the end of this article was playing in on that whole touching the human emotion kind of news writing. The final paragraph describes the victim's father visiting where the body was found and his state of shock. There is also mention of the death's effect on the community. If I had to label this article I would say that it is somewhat invesigative reporting on an investigation that took place. The police figured out what happened and now the reporter is feeding that back to the public.

Ch 5-7: AP Guide to News Writing

Chapter 5 focused on the term Journalese, which is basically "applying excitement to the already established facts." Journalists often write in this manner in order to enahce their bland or seemingly boring stories. It involves "mechanically hammering" together phrases that use a plethora of un-needed adjectives. For example: Explosions are always violent and earthquakes always rip the earth and create an endless rocking. When one general term of this chiche' jargon takes on so many meanings, the precision is lost.

When I was reading this section I began to think that the principles of journalese were very closely related to writing literature, which is very different from news writing. The implementation of such colorful and descriptive hyperbole reminded me of reading literature. I pose the question; can a news writer be completely into his news writing on minute and the next write a literary work without clashing the two styles?

Chapter 6 was titled Tone: The Inner Music of Words. Tone depends primarily on the word choice of the writer. Words may mean the same thing but the should not be used interchangably. Often times, misued words destroy the tone of an article. I am reminded of the Microsoft Word built in thesaurus. It seems like whenever we are searching for a substitute word to place in a story,paper, or news article, it is simplest to just look on the Word Thesaurus. This is not a good practice. I know I do it all the time when I am in a jam and need some new spice to a sentence. I bet I'm not the only one either...

Chapter 7 Pitfalls: Attributive Verbs and Loaded Words. In this section I am posting my comment on the chapter that I left on Jason Pugh's blog. It basically sums up what I took away from the reading.

"When I first began news writing, specifically in this class and for the paper I was very worried about my personal use of the word said. I thought I was over using it so I began substituting it with other words that seemed expressive like, "explained, exclaimed, declared, stated,according to...etc". PS this was where my cart jumped right off the news writing track and crashed far down at the bottom of a canyon. Cut to me reading the comments from Jerz on my first story (the peer profile) and learning that saying SAID is OK!

You can write Said Pugh, or Pugh said, two slightly different but highly accepted ways of writing someone's quotes. I am now elated that I don't have to think of all those substitute filler words. I can rely on good old said. Prior to reading this section of the AP guide to news writing I didn't know there were negative conotations associated with 'pointed out, declared, and the word proved.' Now I know and I'm rarin' to say SAID INSTEAD!! (I rhymed)"

October 13, 2005

Chapter 8: The Elements of Journalism

-Engagement and Relevance-
Journalists must make the signifigant facts seem interesting and relevant to the lives of the readers without implementing such tactics as Journalese. Many times there is a torn feeling for a reporter between writing an engaging story opposed to a relevant story. Theses two elements are supposed to go hand in hand but are often pitted against one another in a journalistic cage fight to the death. Our job as journalists is to find a happy medium between the two.

It is signifigantly noted in this chapter that good journalism is basically storytelling with a purpose. We must provide information in a way that makes the reader (average people) inclined to listen. Time is a luxury in journalism and that is a fact. The journalists don't have the time to write enough and the reader doesn't have the time to finish every article start to finish. Isn't that always the case that time is such an issue in our lives? There is never enough of it.

The last point that I would like to touch on from this chapter in 'Elements' is the idea of INFOTAIMENT. Clearly it is not a good practice for journalists because I highlighted it in that bold dark evil coloring. Basically it is almost like a tabloid approach to journalistic reporting. An example of this is the Barbra Walters interview with Monica Lewinsky...you know the one I'm talking about.

Chapter 9-10: The Elements of Journalism

-Make the news Comprehensive and Proportional-
Journalists should make the news in proportion and keep it comprehensive (understandable) for the masses. I enjoyed the analogy in this section that compared journalism to a modern day form of cartography because the news is like a map for the people. Another important part of this chapter was the idea of diversity in the news in order to appeal to the different members of your audience. As a reporter/writer we need to be able to reach all communities and not target one more than another. It was very interesting to learn that with every newspaper sold that is actually a loss of money for the paper and that most of the paper's profit comes from advertising. Newspapers are also constantly competing for people's precious time.

October 14, 2005

Cover Entry 2...

This is the second installment of my Blog Portfolio for 2005 Fall Semester: EL277 News Writing. For those of you that did not follow my Blog the prior to now I will give you a brief exposition about me. My name is Leslie Rodriguez and welcome to my weblog sponsored by Movable Type. I am a sophomore at Seton Hill University and as part of my EL 227 class and the New Media Journalism program I write and respond with blog entries on various topics.

These entries are then posted for public view on my blog. This entry acts as an introduction to my blog portfolio which includes selected entries that reflect on our in class discussions, published news articles and various texts that Dr.Jerz has assigned. The following topics will be examined and discussed in my blog portfolio:

The Collection
My best blog entries that demonstrate intellectual growth.
Entries are categorized accordingly.

Class Required Blog Topics (including the texts):
Coverage & Depth-For a coverage/depth entry I chose a blog entry that relfected back upon the reading I did for Ch 7 in The Elements of Journalism. I discuss the public forum and the weight the people's opinion has on the coverage of the news.

Depth #2-In this entry I discuss in depth,the October 11th issue of the Tribune Review newspaper. I wrote about a man that was missing for a week and found dead in a river. He had accidentally drowned. I also wrote about the layout of the article on the page of the Local section. Johanna Dreyfuss commented on this entry and the difficulty in obtaining a copy of the paper for this day.

Interaction & Discussion
-For this blog portfolio requirement I felt that my entry on the Oct.11th Tribune Review fit quite nicely. There was a great discussion carried on amongst me and several of my coursemated regarding the most important part of the newpaper and whether it was the local section or not.

Timeliness-In this entry I blogged about the AP Guide to News Writing chapters 5-7. I took a close look at the practice of Journalese, as well as the tone behind selected words used in news writing. I referenced Jay Pugh's entry on the word SAID, when responding to Chapter 7.

1099856782_753434461.gifThe Comment Primo-I was the first person to leave a comment on the blog entry of Ashley Welker that was the actual post of her Morgan Spurlock article. She wrote a very well put together article and instead of just commenting on it, I compared her style and methods of reporting to my own.

The Comment Grande
-I commented on Jason Pugh's blog and noted my own lengthy observations about the use of the word SAID by journalists. I listed my own preconceptions about this golden rule and elaborated on how I feel about using it now. I also went through a list of connotations associated with words like 'declared and pointed out'.

The Comment Informative
-I commented on Valerie Masciarelli's blog and noted my own experience from last year in EL 236: Writing for the Internet. I commented about the use of brevity when writing news articles both in print and online. I also wrote briefly about the attention span of the American people.

The Link Gracious-In this blog entry I discussed CH 6 from The Elements of Journalism the idea of investigative reporting and the three categories that it breaks down into. At the end of the entry I included a link to Elyse Branam's entry on a similar topic and made reference to it. I also disagreed with a statement Elyse made in her entry about the upbeat nature of reporting on investigations.

Other Entries:
1098291343_813882850.gifWildcard-I decided to include this very short blog entry under this category for submission. The entry is no more than two lines but I really feel like the picture makes the entry. It is a nice way to say a lot without using a bunch of words that the reader may forget later.

Chapter 8: The Elements of Journalism
Chapters 9-10: The Elements of Journalism

Blogged Class Articles:
Homecoming Article on Student Feud Cancellation
Morgan Spurlock Lecture Article

October 17, 2005

The Old College Try...

I was online looking up some journals for a project that I am doing for my Western Cultural Tradition (WCT) class when I came across this article that related strongly to what we talked about in my EL227 class regarding women's colleges. I laughed after I thought to post it on here because that is such a Jerz thing to do. Anyway, it is a really interesting article and it mentions the closing of Marymount College which is particularly of interest to me.

I had a friend in high school that I played soccer with and she was very close to going to the school, but then chose Towson instead and didn't play any sport. I began to speculate what she would have had to go through now that the school closed. The article link is posted below.

The Old College Try...(The Journal News)

October 19, 2005

Millet and Jerz...a similar look about them.

Well thanks to the keen observation skills of Chris Ulicne I am proud to bring my blogging buddies the newest Jerz Jest. If you have seen the Seton Hill University (SHU) production of Fuddy Meers then you know what I am talking about. Dr.Jerz and the character of Millet look oddly similar in a very creepy way. I can honestly say that he is just one of those people that has a lot of look a-likes out there. First Napoleon, then Bill Gates and now a crazed character in a play.


October 21, 2005

Crime Article Lab Reflection...

Today in the scheduled Friday News Writing lab we were given a very difficult and challenging assignment. I do think that it was helpful in writing on the spot news stories, but I felt like the premise for why we were writing the article was very juvenile. "Imagine that one of your fellow reporters went crazy and you have been asked to read through his notes in order to finish writing a story that he began." Well first of all I am thinking, 'ok Jerz is going to give us a copy of these notes and then let us write for the 2hrs we have this lab.'

It turned out to be him reading through the notes once and us taking notes. Then ten minutes later he read through them again for the class at a more than rapid pace. I felt as if he was almost trying to make it more difficult than it needed to be. Then he says 'you now have the next 30 minutes to write a crime report.'By this point I had enough information to write a very basic article that addressed the main facts and only those. I did not include any quotations in my article and I wish I would have done that part differently. I worked my ass off writing what I thought was my best work considering the context of the situation and then at the end of the class Jerz tells us all that it is worth 0 (zero,cero,nill) points.

Initially I was kind of pissed off about the entire thing. I was thinking that I had worked so hard at trying to make this article worth while that I deserved a good grade on it. Then I began to think about what if Jerz had graded it and not liked the way I wrote it. So in retrospect I think it was a pretty dirty trick, but I am greatful that I don't need to worry about a low letter grade on the assignment. I wonder what Jerz's expectations were for the article? And how many of us in the class were really close to meeting them?

October 22, 2005

AP Guide to Newswriting Chapter 11...

Chapter 11 - Features: A View from the Poets' Corner

This section in the AP Guide to News Writing focused on the writing of feature articles opposed to hard news stories. Features are supposed to supply the reader with entertainment as well as information. I felt like this section was good to read in preparation for writing our December feature news articles. There was an interesting point in this section made about the amount of time a writer/reporter has to develop a feature opposed to a regular news story. There is generally more time allowed by the editor to compile information and for this reason features are usually relatively long pieces.

The feature is also pretty much a 'free floating' means of writing. There is no specific pattern to follow when writing featurues like with hard news stories and they can come in many variations depending on the writer's individual style. The straight news story has a lead to guide the reader where as in the feature (dehydrated lead) you need to read a little bit in order to fully understand the direction the article is taking. In features the point of the article is somtimes postponed until a little later in the reading, but not too far because the reader may loose interest before reaching it.

I enjoyed reading Jason Pugh's response to this chapter and agree with him that the feature still has to be a news story. The reporter can truly only create so much. They are just supposed to write in a manner that is breath taking and catching for the general public. I understand that features are generally human interest pieces that need to reach out and touch the reader...in the heart. I am not quite sure what type of article I can write about SHU that will do such a thing. I would love to write a feature expose' that revealed some deep dark secret.

I found it particularly interesting that even though the feature is supposed to play off emotion, the writer cannot show too much of their own in the article. Suprisingly I enjoy reading sections from the AP Guide to News Writing because it gives you such great examples of what to do and what not to do.

October 23, 2005

It Ain't Necessarily So...Prologue & Ch 1...

The book began in a really awkward way. You, the reader, were placed in the scenario of being a typical (average,every day) person reading the paper. And well frankly, it caused me to get a headache thinking about all the horrible things that there are to worry about in the world that we read about in the paper daily. The suggestion is then made that perhaps these newspapers were very inaccurate or at least partially biased. It is very possible that these cautionary news stories were/are severly blown out of proportion in order to gain readership.

People are more likely to read a news report in a feature article that tells about the risks of skin cancer from tanning beds than they are to read about the construction of a new golf course unless they are perhaps golfers. The skin cancer story reaches more people directly. Any kind of story that features a topic relating to the immediate danger of the individual becomes very newsworthy in the eyes of the audience. Newspapers and journalists alike have the ability to skew the news in order for the reader to come away from a story with a new and possbily distorted perception of reality.

The prologue basically dispelled all the cautionary stories that it was reporting on in it's begining. There is a difference in reporting on one study done in a specific place opposed to a unanimous study done with a world wide conclusion. "It Ain't Nescesarily So" refers to the things we read in the reliable press. Though savy news readers can pick up on such things.

Chapter 1: The News That Isn't There
This chapter dealt with stories that are and aren't covered. I suppose that it all depends on the context of the article when adding certain statistics. Chris Ulicne's response to the readings triggered a lively explaination from Dr.Jerz who claimed that "While most of the time journalists get it right, when it comes to science, and statistics in particular, even the best journalists can learn something from the warnings in this book."

This just once again re-inforces the idea that journalists need more than a degree in journalism to call themselves well rounded reporters. I have always thought of journalism in these terms: you may be a journalist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have great knowledge of other areas besides English.

October 24, 2005

AP Stylebook: Media Law...

The AP Stylebook: Briefing on media law.
Generally I did not consider myself to be at all clear on the judicial system prior to workshopping and doing the readings in this unit of News Writing class. Honestly, the most that I knew about the legal system came from what I had picked up from television shows such as Law & Order and Judge Judy (jk). I never even thought about crime/accident reporting until now and how much it varied from hard/straight news writing.

I didn't even think thatI could possibly be writing a story of this nature when I get a job as a journalist. I mean you learn something new everyday. In the big picture I suppose you have to be a very versatile news writer in order to be hired by a noteworthy paper.

Regarding media law. You (as a journalist/reporter) really have to be very careful what you print in the paper regarding the character people featured in your articles. I mean someone can sue your newspaper in a heart beat for defamation of character. Both libel and slander are two words that a journalist never wants to come across.

Libel: 1. A false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person's reputation. OR 2. The act of presenting such material to the public.

Slander:1. Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation. OR 2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

In some places the terms are used synonmously. Other people believe that they are two different things. I am not sure if there is a visible and distinct difference between them when using the above definitions. A lot of the laws discussed in this section depended on the individual state legislatures and their rulings.

October 25, 2005

It Ain't Nescessarily So...Ch 2-3

Note: Apparently I am in a very scenario oriented mood tonight and therefore I have explained my feelings on these chapters in such a way.

Chapter 2 of It Ain't Nescessarily So had a main focus on the idea of creating a lengthy and 'informative' news story from a very small bit of research. This is often the case when a newspaper wants to report on the same stories that all the other papers are doing. They throw together a quick little something that they pull of google and then call it a day without really getting into the topic. These types of reporters often write without full comprehension of the topic themselves.

Ex: For me to write an article tonight on Nuclear Power and Effects on Power Plant Employees that was to appear in an on campus science news magazine/paper tomorrow would be completely impossible without substantial amounts of outside research. It is likely that I would not have the time to prepare a completely accurate and clear report in this short period. Hence, this is the same situation that many reporters fall into...though they seem to just roll with it, which is not the always the best thing. This type of, excuse my language...'Half-Ass' reporting simply isn't benefiting anyone and can often be inaccurate because of the lack of in depth research.

For instance; if I was to include a health survey from a power plant dated 2001, it is essentially outdated. But, because this is the first one that I came across in my research I used it. Come to find out that in 2004 the same health survey was handed out and the health of the workers had improved dramatically. I would be wrong on so many levels here.

I mean YES, there is this understood time crunch for reporters. I respect the fact that they have a very short time period in order to come up with good news stories. But the thing is that if you are truly a good journalists you don't need to rely on the bullshit research to get you by. You (the journalist) should be so good under pressure that this type of thing never comes up.

October 28, 2005

It Ain't Nescessarily So...Ch 4-5...

Ch 4: The Perils of Proxies...
One thing that I learned from this chapter is that research done by different organizations can often foster very diverse results. Ex: An activit group may have very different results from a study than a governement organization. This largely depends on the selection of the people interviewed. The activists may only interview people that they feel may have the same beliefs as them, where as the government may present a more well rounded account from various people.

Proxies, are unlike direct measurement. They are estimations or approximations that have been gathered from looking at research. Both social and natural sciences employ proxies and they are used when the true measuement of something can no be done. Though the implementation of proxies in social sciences can be rather problematic. A very large issue in this chapter was the problem of defining hunger and poverty. This came into question several times as I read.

Hunger proxies, as discussed by Lou and Erin are very much so subject to the opinion of the reader in the context of each given article. In all cases it is better to measure things as accurately as possible, but hunger is an especially heated topic. Proxies are only bad if they are fatally flawed which can happen when researchers measure the wrong thing or when reporters ask the wrong questions. In many hunger/poverty studies the proxies are inaccurate. I enjoyed the last sentence of the chapter that really defined the idea behind proxies and said something along the lines of 'the reporter shouldn't say how many, but rather explain proxies and how the researcher came to that conclusion'.

In regard to Lou's presentation about the Halloween proxy that asked whether children today were afraid of Halloween, I believe that this is another one of those issues that can be debated through out time. It all depends on the types of questions that the parents and children are asked. And more importantly it depends on each persons definition of being scared. If a child cries in the haunted house is it because he/she is scared or upset about something totally different.

Chapter 5: Is The Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
I can honestly say that after seeing Michael's presentation on colors I better understand the way in which people can apply statistics in order to show what they want people to see. I mean, its all relative when you think about it.

Here is a quote that reminded me a little bit about this unit. I am not sure why, but it stuck in my head over the years. It is from a television show. The scene is that a history teacher is telling this to his students and doing a little bit of revisionist history. I felt that it tied into the idea of journalists as well as scientists skewing facts and proxies and purposely trying to convey a personal belief to a larger group through news/reports.

"FACT: Fidel Castro dressed up as Marilyn Monroe and gave President Kennedy a case of syphilis so bad that it eventually blew off the back of his head!" -Stephen Colbert as Chuck Noblet on Strangers With Candy.

October 31, 2005

It Ain't Necessarily So...Ch 6-7...

Regarding the idea of surveys and polls. I was not surprised to read that in one suvey 60% of Americans opposed school choice (public to private and vise versa) and in another survey 75% of Americans supported it. I am reminded of the defense often used by politicians and other public officials about polls. They always seem to be saying, "according to the polls," and "the polls today say." Well hello, of course you are going to get different results everytime that you poll a group.

Presidential polls are often some of the most misleading polls of them all. In one instance John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith is winning in the polls and an hour later its Michael Jackson Moore taking over the lead. The truth is that opinions of people change like the wind (and in case you didn't know that is pretty fast). Another reason that polls can be inaccurat in their depictions of the public's opinion is through the use of poorly worded questions. Hence, ask a stupid question, expect a stupid answer, or even ask an invalid question recieve and invalid answer.

Examination of a poll's questions is crucial in understanding the true meaning and context in which the poll has been included. Organizations (government and otherwise) often use polls to prove points that they agree with and for that reason don't include the questions that were given when the poll was first taken. The natural human reaction is not to question the source from which the poll results came, but it is important to be concious enough to know that these questions play an integral roll in interpreting a poll.

Asking questions that are direct was another important issue brought up in chapter 6. As Elyse Branam said, "Wouldn't it make sense to always ask directly? That way, the interviewer is getting more CORRECT information rather then hinting to certain questions and trying to get answers." I agree completely with her point in this statememnt.

Chapter 7 back tracked to the prologue and the idea of America being overly afraid of risk. Fears are often magnified by the press through alarmist reporting. Meaning that the media focus primarily on events and the extent of harm they can cause. What makes news might not always constitute as the big health problem that it is made out to be...meaning that some reporters tend to make mountains out of mole hills. Hazard reporting talks about events rather than issues because there is a desire to tell a good story in order to capture reader attention. Often times drama is compelling and involves a hero and a villian.

There is mention of a breast cancer statistic in the begining of this chapter that I found very interesting. It said 1 in 8 women have the disease. The chapter went on to explain that this was a very controversial statistic because of the articles surrounding the disease. Apparently in order to seek out more government funding from the government activists put a bug in the ears of reporters in order to get them to write about breast cancer. The high-hype and media attention may be slight exaggeration.

About October 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Roamer's Zone in October 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2005 is the previous archive.

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