A sure fire way to win a Pulitzer Prize

In our journalism class, our professor asked an ethical question:

If you were a journalist and saw a man set himself on fire, would you help him or would you record the story?

WHAT?!!  Is this even a question?

Apparently it is.  Some journalists will capture a story without helping a victim and do so without the slightest regret.  Based on the discussion that ensued after the question was posed, it seems that this practice is quite common.  The examples of these horrific acts were numerous.

Are these people human?  Is this what it has come to?  If I want to be successful journalist and win a prestigious award, I would not interfere with a person who needs immediate help.  I would stand by, record the suffering, watch the death while cold blood pumps through my heart in my empty tin chest just so I can further my career. 

There should be a human cruelty law against this practice.  It’s sickening.

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The walk of an angry, premenstrual psychopath

Last week I became a published journalist!  Woot, woot!  An article I wrote ended up on the Times Union website.  Very exciting.  It was no easy task.

A story I had read really got me irritated.  Here is the article. It seems that my fellow Saint Rose students are suspected of repeatedly damaging school property to keep a shortcut intact.

I was annoyed that my fellow classmates would destruct property just so they could create a short cut.  The more I thought of it, it just didn’t seem right.  There just had to be more to it.

Then I read the sentence where the student said that the short cut saved her a “solo walk down Partridge” street.  Hmmm…

I go to school at night when it is dark.  I park right next to the school.  I pump myself up before I get out of the car the way that Rocky Balboa does before a fight.  I listen to work-out music to psyche myself up for the well-lit walk of oh about 50 feet into the building.  When I get out, I put my angry face on, shoulders back and walk into class like an angry, premenstrual psychopath.  This is my way to ward off any potential predators.  I stare down strangers with a psychotic gaze that dares them to mess with me.

If I had to take an evening stroll longer than my 50 foot maximum I would probably drop out of school.

So this fence cutting sport had me intrigued and I decided to scratch a little deeper.

The roads around our campus have had a history of crime.  I wondered if anyone was using this shortcut as a way to get on to school grounds as quickly as possible and to avoid a walk on the street.

Seems I was right.  That is what motivated me to write this article.  Here is the article.

I wonder if the students will take action and what the school will do in response.  It would make for a great follow-up story.

What do you think?  Who is being irresponsible here, the students or the school?

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Ode to the laundry

I have so much going on now that things are starting to slip.  Some days it is so challenging to balance it all.  For example yesterday, I was looking for my favorite wool sweater and I just couldn’t find it.  Last night, I found it in the washing machine.

Look how cute it is.  It is so small it is absurd.  As a frame of comparison, I have a normal sized sweater on the left.  I am actually quite impressed with how small wool gets when water hits it. What would have happened if I wore it during a rain storm?

All of this inspired me to write a ballad to my arch-enemy… the laundry.  I have several evil villains in the domestic category, so I suspect that the “Ode’s” will be a recurring theme in this blog.

Ode to the laundry

This arranged marriage of necessity
Is not really working out for me
Your incessant demand for attention creates quite a calamity

The wash… the fold
It is all getting really old

You rebel with missing socks
And wool sweaters that shrink… A LOT

An unwanted wrinkle if kept waiting too long
Forces me to resort to the dreaded iron

A hidden red in a load of whites
Oh, I am on to you alright

I fantasize of having an affair
With the Wash N’ Fold in the market square

The clean smell, the happy faces
Of the patrons leaving these places

One day I’ll poke in and inquire
To free myself of this burdensome mire

The daydream of something new
Sure beats the misery of tending to you

Oh the temptation… the desire
Makes my pulse quicken, my heart afire

Yet since my wallet is thin,
I’ll find myself content with you again.

With my ball and chain I will keep my wishes at bay,
I shall toil and fold and put away
All while dreaming of a better day

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Online Journalism may just be the death of me

This class is wiping me out.  It is just such an odd fit for my personality.  I have to force it each week. 

And I feel so guilty about that.  Here I have a wonderful professor who LOVES Journalism.  She is so excited about it.  The fact that I do not share her passion for the profession makes me feel as though I have a dirty little secret. 

Her passion does at least give me an appreciation for it.  That is the best she can probably do with me.    

The trouble is that this class is consuming my life.  If am not doing work for it, then I am stressed because I am not.  We have 3 books for this class and I am always behind in the reading.  I had this idea that we were going to be passively learning about the profession of journalism.  I don’t know why I would think that.  Saint Rose is nothing if they are not hands on. 

We have to actually write interesting stories to publish.  It is an insane amount of work.  Writing an article for a news story is inherently different than regular coursework where you read a book, and write a paper.  For a news story, you have to research your subject, research it some more, interview people, get annoyed when they don’t call you back, call some other people, change your story because the people you wanted to speak to either weren’t available or they didn’t give you the angle you were hoping for and then write and re-write. 

I went through this process and handed in my “story” thinking it was a gem.  I had put so much of my heart and soul into it that it just had to be good, right? Ha ha ha. When I received the graded paper, it had so much red ink from the corrections the professor wrote that I am positive she used the entire pen grading my paper alone. 

Grade?  B+.  Yippee.

Despite all of that, the relief that I felt when I had the story published was overwhelming.  I spent 5 full minutes enjoying that reprieve before the panic/terror overcame my body when I realized that my next “story” is due… on Monday.  You know in four days.   The celebration time after you get a story published is practically nonexistent.

Welcome to my world of journalism.  Now you know what I have been doing with all of my “free” time.   

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Irons in the fire

I realize I have been somewhat spotty about my blogging in the past two weeks, but there are great reasons for that!  I have been working on some things that I am pretty jazzed about.  I had an article published on our local newspaper’s website, I have teamed up with with an exciting new business and I have been actually making some decent strides in what has turned out to be the most challenging semester of my grad school experience so far.  I also have a few guest bloggers lined up that will be writing in to give another perspective about life as a returning adult student. 

I plan to bring you up to speed this week. 

Thanks for hanging in!    

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Blogging is Beautiful

What is the point of blogs? 

Blogging is a great new way to vet ideas and have a conversation that connects people clear across the globe.   As a blogger, I am delighted to receive comments to my blog posts.  I crave for them and get so excited when I receive an e-mail that tells me that I have one.  It makes my whole day!

I moderate my comments.  That means if you are new to my blog and you make a comment, I must approve it before it is posted.  Only comments that I physically approve make it for all to see. 

I haven’t yet declined to post a comment.  Yet.  I’d like to think that I wouldn’t delete any comments. 

What if someone writes in a comment that I am a sniveling, frakin, retched, ugly wench?  Hey, that’s good stuff and may be even true some of the time. 

To approve or not approve, that is the question. 

If the comment was free from obscenities and took aim at me alone then I would probably put it out there.  That is the point of the blog – to let everyone have a say who would like one.  It is a conversation, with similarities to what you would have in person.  You don’t always agree with the person you are conversing with but you can’t simply delete what they are saying as they say it!

There is a distinction between journalism and blogging.  Journalism has an ethical obligation to report events of interest with credibility and honesty.  The ethical obligation of a blog is individualized to the morals of the blogger who hosts it.  Blogging is a form of entertainment.  It may rub elbows from time to time with journalism, but primarily it is forum for personal opinions and the dialogue that it inspires. 

In the case of my class where we use the blog for journalistic educational purposes, I respect that my professor reserves the right to delete comments.  This blog was the only medium that she was offered to post the journalistic work of her students in the local newspaper so she had to take what she got.  She is now using the blog in the same way that she would run a print newspaper.  Since it is a blog however, I think we should have a comment policy to refer to so that the reader has the expectation that their comment will be evaluated before publishing.

However, if a true blogger deletes comments because they don’t like the perspective then they only want one side of the issue to be viewed – their own.  That is quite boring indeed and defeats the point of a blog.

As Americans, we have this amazing right of freedom of speech.  Why would we willingly censor ourselves?

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Trashing comments on blogs: A form of censorship?

I need some feedback fellow bloggers.  In my journalism class, we use a blog hosted by a local newspaper to publish student produced journalism stories.  Our professor, who is a former journalist herself, is the mediator and administrator for this site.  As such, she uses in the same way she would if it were a print article being published in a newspaper.  Yet it is on a blog. So we receive comments.

Some are quite colorful. 

We received one this week that was more of a rant, and it was hardly constructive.  Likely it was also filled with half truths.

Our professor posed the question:  Should this comment be approved for the entire readership to see?

We debated this for most of the class period.  There are two schools of thought in this sharp divide:

One group feels we should approve the comment.  It is a blog after all and blogs are intended to foster open dialogue and everyone is allowed to their opinion.   Since the blog was free of obscenities or profanity – put it out there.  If you start deleting comments, then you are only publishing comments that share your perspective.  By doing so, you are shaping the topic in your own way and this a form of censorship.  Even though we use it for journalistic learning it is a blog and we should allow all perspectives to enter into the dialogue.  Even if we may think it the comment is absurd. 

The second group feels that we should maintain the integrity of our journalistic endeavors.  Since we will not be investing our time to investigate any of the accusations in the comment we cannot ethically publish them.  We should not give an audience to this type of authorship.  A newspaper does not publish every letter to the editor, and we shall run this blog in the same discriminating spirit.  This comment may invite another and it may run away from us in an acerbic dialogue that will take away the value and the good writing of the original piece.

Before I reveal my thoughts on the matter, tell me which side of the fence do you fall on?

 Image taken from:  Google Images, Censorship

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