Thursday, September 30, 2004


Today I met my mentor.

I saw a flier in the Humanities Bldg. some weeks ago and contacted Women Student Services. The process was simple: I filled out a form that took five minutes and slapped down my interests and major information.

I couldn't be more excited. My new mentor is an older version of me. She has a Masters in Journalism from the University of Texas... While she has a similiar education as the one I'm working on, she doesn't really work in the field, which broadens my views on career possibilities. This isn't about a new friend or maternal figure. This is about networking.

My inner-nerd is on Cloud 9.

Washington reporting

I was marveling at the extensive coverage of the new D.C. baseball team in today's Washington Post, when the team hasn't been named and doesn't have a manager.
Meanwhile, the gay marriage amendment and the 9-11 legislation are rightfully hot topics in Congress. We've got a candidate debate tonight and an election in a little more than a month, and there was a blimp hovering over the Pentagon yesterday that could supposedly zoom down to street level and evaluate us all as potential terrorists.
But they want baseball, just like they wanted the new American Indian Smithsonian Museum. And that's because these stories aren't politics.
They really know how to overkill politics up here. In Washington everyone is chasing after the same story. There are stakeouts in the Capitol -- in front of the senators-only elevator and at the Ohio clock -- where reporters can nab senators in hopes of getting that one quote, that one reaction, for that one graf that will seal the deal on that one story. And so they cluster there between velvet ropes, while the guards keep an eye on them and the senators hurry past.
The journalists move around in a great network of press conferences and phone trees. They know one another, because they're at the same events. Sources know what to say to them, because they've already said it to plenty of their colleagues.
And in an effort to not overkill politics for the day, they end up overkilling stories like baseball and the Smithsonian when the opportunity arises. We interns are the ones who don't understand why newspapers are sending teams of reporters to cover these lighter pieces and only one reporter to watch people like John McCain and Hillary Clinton work on legislation, like they do every day. Facing a throng of reporters staking them out at elevators and clocks for that one quote for that same story, like they do every day.

As a side note, I went to my first White House press conference last week. I wrote about it on the J-School homepage, so I don't want to overkill it (haha). But here's a link to the brite that ran in a few of our papers:

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I say finally because this will be my first post ....not only as a "J-School Year" blogger, but as a blogger period! I've never done this before, so I don't really know if there is a "right way" to do it! Here goes nothing! I'm a sophomore in J-school, and I absolutely love it! See, when I truly enjoy something and my heart is really there, that's when I succeed! I think that's true for everyone! So, my heart is definitely in journalism, and I truly enjoy this field! So far, I've completed 3 official journalism courses, and am working on 2 more this semester. Right now I'm in media research (304), and media law (303). I had my first test in media research actually went well!!! I was nervous about it because I had to work Tuesday night and didn't get off until 11pm. I had studied previously, but I'm the type who always likes to have the night before to study hard. So, needless to say, Tuesday was a late study night for me! I think I did well, though, like I said...we'll see! I won't lie, media law is a difficult class. Professor Collins hasn't given us a test yet, but I know that it will take a lot of preparation and studying to get ready for his tests. I always describe that class to my friends as a "keeps-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat" class. I literally have to sit on the edge of my seat and lean foward so that I can catch every word that he says! I don't want to miss something important! It's a fun class! That's a little info on the journalism classes I'm in right now! One last thing and I'll close this one out...I just wanted to give those of you who are reading this a heads up on my college career plan. I am trying to graduate in 3 years rather than 4! I know, I know.... plenty of people have told me that it will be impossible, but don't worry...I 've got a plan laid out! It will definitely keep me on my toes, but I'm ready for the challenge! I'll keep you updated on my progress! So, did I do it? Am I an official blogger? I hope this is right! I'll write again soon!!!!

Changes coming soon

Since we're almost at the midpoint of the semester, I thought it was about time to post. School is going well, as well as it can. I'm just trying to get by right now. When I first got here this semester I did a lot of thinking about what I'm doing and why I'm here. I didn't really feel like I was doing what I wanted to do and I haven't been too happy here. I will be transferring next semester to pursue a commercial photography degree. That is my passion and I am looking forward to it. I do think that the journalism program here is wonderful. I know that my roommate and I were fortunate enough to get involved last year (our freshman year) with covering the Democratic Primaries for a moblog. I think there are many opportunities here and everyone should get involved when and where they can because any experience always helps.

Worldviews and fishbowls

Research suggests that many working journalists -- maybe because of their constant exposure to information and competing viewpoints -- consider themselves moderate to liberal, politically and socially. I suspect they appreciate the nuances of life. This isn't to say they don't have strong opinions; those I know do. They are probably less inclined than most to be rigid in their worldview, understanding that Truth is often elusive.
Young people (university students) too often insulate themselves in fishbowls of comfortable cliques and viewpoints even though their college years should be filled with explorations of new and challenging ideas. If your professors aren't offering these to you, we're doing you a disservice. We should be pushing you outside of your comfort zones, challenging you to try different paths and assuring you that discovery (especially for journalists) is the key to a rich and rewarding career and life.
College is the time to cut loose (intellectually) but I sense too few students do.
Do you feel free to make mistakes or misalliances? Do you fear being reproached or condemned by your instructors or peers, or veering off your career path? If so, then, once again, we're not getting the job done.
I'm reminded of the time a co-worker and I, both greenhorn newspaper reporters, were having one of our famously ill-informed arguments. The managing editor -- a blustery, profane and occasionally wise man -- sauntered up and said (I'm paraphrasing), "You're both full of it. You'll change your minds 10 times before you're 30. Relax. What's your rush?"

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

One of those always-debated ethics questions

The recent posts about bumper stickers raise an aspect of the frequently debated (at least every four years) question of can you be a journalist and a civilian, too.

This Sept. 25 article by John Temple, editor of the Rocky Mountain News lays out the debate pretty well with a lucid explanation of why Temple comes down on the restrictive side. The issue was whether staffers could go to concerts where the proceeds clearly were to benefit a candidate or party.

A short excerpt:

I believe our allegiance has to be to you, our readers. We should avoid doing anything that would raise a question in your mind about our ability to be fair. (We journalists already are fighting an uphill battle, as witness the Dan Rather apology this week.)

I believe we should err on the side of caution, that we should do everything we can to maintain and build your trust and should do nothing to damage it.

My approach doesn't necessarily sit well with everyone here, especially those who believe the only issue is whether our work is fair and accurate, not whether our actions outside the newsroom raise questions in a reasonable person's mind about our ability to be fair and accurate. Outside activities don't matter; the quality of our work does, the proponents of this view argue.

But I believe appearances matter. Journalists have to give up certain things for the sake of their job. Of course, normally they should be able to go to concerts or movies of their choosing. It's important for us to be curious and to be exposed to different ideas.

But journalists shouldn't become part of the story.

Came across this story later from the Daily Pennsylvanian (University of Pennsylvania) in which the writer argues that The Daily Show might well be one of the most honest and most informing shows, especially this election season, by abandoning the idea of balance. He uses what has become a more fashionable argument lately -- that not all truths are equally balanced and that the media must make judgements.

G.O.P. - Greek Ole' Party? Nah...

The recent coverage of the blog in The Gamecock was very close to the DHEC rating at Bates House - Poor. Although it did not make me suffer the same physical consequences as Bates food, it still made me mad that such an easy article was flubbed so badly. You would think that they would check out some information pertaining to the school of journalism, you know, being a paper and all. But moving on....

Political preference should not be as secretive as, oh let’s say, your medical history. I too am part of the Greek community, and I am a Bush supporter with a sticker on my car. I agree that we should have a secret ballot -- so every now and then I can vote for that Democratic Coroner -- but who you support tells a little bit about who you are. If we eliminated bumper stickers, go ahead and take down the lawn signs and you can forget billboards.

This may be a little broad and stereotypical, but stereotypes are partly true for a reason. Think about the community that inhabits the Greek Village -- and what those traditions and values usually encompass -- they are mostly Southern, mostly middle to upper class, mostly Republican. A recent S.K.Bowen survey conducted from the intimacy of my own vehicle of cars and their adhesive friends, yields that citizens of Greekland USA also support many other issues including state level Democratic and Republican candidates.

And I don't think anyone has been called cool becuase they have a school board sticker...

Aside from why Greeks may or may not be Republican, you should put whatever stickers on your car to try and influence anyone you can. If you look at my car, you know I support fishing, Bush, Costal Conservation Association, Half-Moon, and Yakima. I put my full trust and faith behind these organizations andproducts. By someone putting on a sticker, it’s just saying that I give them my stamp of approval. One thing that really can’t be argued -- Greeks are trendy, just not mainstream trendy.

How can USC students be original? By voting for the third party?

“Vote for a third party candidate? Go ahead, throw your vote away. “ - Kang The Simpsons

Press clippings

Well, we got a nice mention in a Gamecock story on blogging (reg may be req.). Unfortunately, the facts were close, but ...
To clarify: This blog's not just for seniors. As well-evidenced by the posts, it's for everyone. We even have someone lined up who's out in the real world but just has a couple credits to finish (if he'll post - hint, hint )

And the contributors are across all sequences, not just ad, PR and vis com.

So, OK, budding journos. React in your postings. How does it feel to be the subject of a story that sorta almost gets it right, but ...

Monday, September 27, 2004

Republican or Greek?

As Election Day is rapidly approaching, I am beginning to notice that being a George Bush fan has become very trendy around campus, especially in the Greek community. First off, I don't want anyone to think that I am against fraternities and sororities. I am very proud to be a member of one of the most elite greek organizations on campus. However, I feel that it is a tad unnecessary to broadcast political preference to the entire campus and to the whole world. My main example is the "W. The President" sticker that a large percentage of the Greek community has chosen to display on their cars.

Politcal preference is a private subject and I for one am a little uneasy about telling my closest friends who I vote for. If we were supposed to advertise our voting preference, then it wouldn't be such a secretive process. It seems as if to a be a Republican is almost as trendy as owning a Vera Bradley handbag. I would like to challenge people on the USC campus to be original this November.

Don't let the sticker choice of someone else influence the way our country is run for the next 4 years.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A Word From A Slacker

Well folks, I certainly haven't been the picture of responsibility when it comes to the blogs, so sor that I apologize. But, here we go....first words of advice - do not take Jour 364 and 438 at the same time! One is an introduction to the other, and although I knew and agreed to this, it can be a quite difficult transition from novice to advanced graphic design.
A point on our field today...I had an interesting talk with a man from our nation's capital yesterday concerning journalism and its ethics in today's society, and while I do not agree with all he had to say, I will give you a couple of his better points. He emphasized the fact that he 1) was an outside source who does not work in the business and 2) is a distinguished man who was an avid media follower. We were speaking of the recent Dan Rather / CBS fiasco, and the primary point we spoke of was whether rivalry (with no better word to use) was hurting the media's credibility. Now, with such pressure by the public and producers / editors to find and break important stories, how often are small stories being bulked up? Should we place our trust in certain networks, papers, or individuals? We even looked back to such instances as the Stone Philips episode of enhancing explosives to add more interest to a story concerning defective car parts around 1992 (Dateline?). It's actually a quite humorous story if you want to check it out.
All in all, this man wanted to point out the fact that, as tomorrow's media, we should establish a definitive sense of ethics before we allow a select few journalists to tread on all of our reputations. Trust is the key to reliability.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Week that Never Ends

Mid-September has arrived. It's that time of the semester I like to refer to as "the first wave," where every class you're taking has either a test or project of some sort planned, all within 2 days of the others. It's inevitable, yet somehow it always seems to sneak up on you. Actual work is tricky that way. You can't trust it, so be on the look out. One day you're obliviously coasting along wasting hours on end in front of the tv, and the next you're completely bombarded. There's no time for movies, friends, or even sleep. Your only care in the world suddenly shifts to that paper on Southwestern China that's due in 9 hours. Studying becomes your life. And just when you think it can't get any worse, something else happens. Either you oversleep for an exam worth 30% of your grade or you're late because you can't find a parking space. So after what seems like an infinite amount of time, you follow someone you think might be leaving. You put on your turn signal and wait patiently for the gleam of white lights coming from the back of the other person's car, only to find out they just came out to get a book. But, if your perseverence is somehow stronger than your desire to drop out of college and move to Hollywood, you'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief when the week finally ends. After you reintroduce yourself to your friends, you can resume your normal Tuesday night line-up of watching 5 episodes of The Real World on MTV...that is until next month comes around...

Friday, September 24, 2004

So what do we do in college?

Well, here's one example: the latest edition of Cyberhemia, the online publication by Professor Wiggins' writing class.

And another link -- this one to the online site for our senior semesters: the Carolina Reporter and the Carolina News.

College, internships, and sitcoms...

Reading over the past few blogs brings me to take a look at my collegiate life and where it may or may not be going. I woke up one morning and realized that I am a junior with a year or two left before I am released into the world to fend for myself not only in the journalist world but to live on my own as well. The latter doesn’t really bother me, I’m an only child and independence is my forte. The former however sort of scares me. I need an internship for this summer like USC needs a 20 floor centralized parking garage.

I’ve tried nothing and I’m all out of ideas. I don’t even know where to search for an internship. It can’t be that hard to find someone to let me work for free at their station. This kills the possibilities of living the summertime carefree high life in Charleston or Ponte Vedra, FL. Low internship stipends plus high costs of living kills the total profit margin.

Well, I’m starting to get on the right track for school work. The scales of school and fun have tipped in favor of school. Time management has become a big priority of mine which I have been working on for the past month. Wish me luck, I have a short attention span.

I suppose I’ll just sit back and watch Seinfeld reruns.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

What? Me? Graduate in 2 Years?

Hello again to the world of "bloggers." Here I am again... about to begin my journal I should start referring to as my "Venting Corner." As I sit here, typing my blog, listening to "Hurricane Ivan" on 93.5 FM, only one thing crosses my mind....

Where am I going from here?

Allow me to be a little bit more specific: Where am I going with my college education? Where will I be working after I'm through (what? NO! I can't be through soon! college is my life!) with my schooling? Who is going to hire me? What major should I stick with? (pathetic... I'm a junior and I'm still doubting myself... anyone out there feel the same way I do? please email).

I'm so frustrated. I know I still have 2 years left... but man, the past 2 years flew by in a frenzy. I want to get my name out there. I want to do internships, but at the same time, I feel so unprepared for the "Real World." I love Journalism... and I know this is what I want to do. But then again, I'm terrified: Is this the right field for me? Am I making the right decision? Should I be a Journalism major? Or, should I be a field botany major? (random... I hate science.)

More posts to come. When anxiety levels are up, the writings come a'pouring.

I thought "narrative" journalism was in....

I was pretty excited when I got my first assignment for the Garnet and Black magazine. The next day I got started. I landed some interviews, pulled off two hour-and-a-half long sessions with gleaming professionalism and did a butt load of research plus I made deadline.

And all that enthusiasm has landed me right back in front of my laptop. My five page story was turned inside out and now I'm struggling to chop up my masterpiece to make the requested revisions.

I'm not griping about the editorial staff of the G&B... nah, they are just doing their job. Plus the story was not my best work... The only thing I did all summer remotely related to journalism was flip through Brazilian Elle on the beach.

But hold up: I was the journalism hotshot in high school and college is a big shocker. All of a sudden, everyone knows all the big words I do and they can use them correctly. The editor who critiqued my work knew what she was talking about. And worst of all, she told me to "show, not tell."

"Show, not tell." That was my mantra last year that I chirped to all my first year writers over and over again! And now this is being told to me! Oh god! My ego may never recover.

The culture of journalism

So many provocative thoughts have been posted about what journalists do and how they do it, and I'm delighted. This is part of the culture of journalism. Anyone who has been in a bull session with reporters, editors, producers, designers and shooters -- at every level and in every medium -- knows these folks spend a lot of time rethinking their interviews and stories, deconstructing the work of other journalists, plotting out new branches for a continuing story, evaluating the usefulness or credibility of sources, and so on. Some folks call this "shop talk." I often pass groups of students in the halls and hear similar kinds of conversations. The postings here are extending and expanding this culture of self-analysis, inquiry and criticism and the profession will be richer for it. As Randy Jackson would say when praising an American Idol contestant, "You got it goin' on, dawg!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I'll crumble my own cookies thank you!

It has been my experiences in my short life that have taught me you crumble your own cookies. You have choices, you make them; you have responsibilities, you do them. And if you don't perform those responsibilities pertinent to your well-being and don't make choices, you get left behind- and it's no one's fault but your own. It's incredibly easy to get lost or misinformed in a large shcool; however, it is very manageable to perform just fine assuming you take control and make an effort. I feel assured the same principles apply in journalism, where you will be expected to make an effort to find and report the story, for the story will not come to you! Any comments/thoughts/reactions?

Lessons learned in Senior Semester

Hello, sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. Senior Semester is absolutely crazy!! We are trying to make our daily 4 o’clock deadline so we can air our newscast on campus cable. Once we get that up and running we will hopefully go on Time Warner Digital Cable! Yikes!! So far, I had the opportunity to team produce a couple of newscast and direct a few show. I also anchored, and had a shot at being a sports anchor. What I love most is reporting. I love going out for that story BIG or small!!! Meeting different people daily is great!!! That is where the business cards come in. Recently I covered the Greek Festival, and I asked a few people “What’s going on in Columbia?” And wouldn’t you know it, I made some contacts I gave them my business card so that way they can call me if anything else was going on in Columbia. I walked away with a great story idea. (I’m not telling you guys what my story idea is.) In Senior Semester I’ve learned, don’t pitch a story that you REALLY want to do on a day that you are not a reporter. People tend to try to do your story and then you sit there and criticize on what a bad job they did or how you could have done better.
Other lessons I’ve in Senior Semester.
Everyone has an ego, some larger than others.
Communication, communication, communication
Listen to your professor
Just say “OK” don’t waste energy arguing with anyone. Just say “OK”

If there is something that you want to know about senior semester that I haven’t mention post the question or send me an email.

Job or hobby?

I realized yesterday that journalism isn't a job; it's a hobby. It's no 9-to-5 operation, and if you try to make it one, you end up spending company time Googling everything you've ever wondered about and then cutting into your own cocktail hour for "that last interview."
Granted, I'd make no qualms about making my hobby my job, but I don't think journalists should keep office hours like at normal jobs. I can understand why editors keep regular hours, and I can understand why writers have desks available, but coming to work should be completely voluntary.
I suppose my system would work in a perfect world, but we all know people wouldn't get the job done if they got paid without coming in. And to think these people are working journalists while the rest of us are just hoping to rub two journalism-earned nickels together after college. . .
These thoughts stem from a dull day at work and a dinner and symposium with NewsHour's Jim Lehrer the night before. There I sat next to a man who got his start at The New York Times.
I said, in disbelief, "The Times? Who starts at The Times?" He gave me a puzzled look, and I explained how nearly impossible it was to just sweep floors at The Times -- even if you were offering to pay them -- much less score an internship or a, dare I say, job. We really amused each other. So here's to the hobby.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The right intentions

I really don't have much time to post, since I have to get up before the sun to make it to Mr. Fisher's class, but I feel the need to post anyway.
I am a political science minor, and politics and journalism come up a lot in class. In one of my classes, I have learned that for every minute of clips of statements from politicians, there are about six minutes of commentary from journalists on what the polititian said.
If I have learned anything this semester, it is that journalists just leave a bad taste in many people's mouths. It doesn't matter what field you are reporting from, being a journalist carries a stigma, and right now it isn't really a good one.
I have known since 8th grade that I wanted to be a journalist. I don't think those that go into the field to meet famous people or to become famous themselves necessarily have the right intentions. But I know, as I have written before, as a journalist it is your responsibility to report the truth to the public. You have the opportunity to shake things up, hold leaders accountable and make changes possible.
Since I work for the scholastic press office, I recently went to my old high school to do some PR work for our upcoming convention. It amazed me that the newspaper only had two pages of hard news, the rest were features and sports. This is okay, but are you really doing your readers any justice by having a health and fitness spread when there are more serious issues going on in the school district? I know that this specific example doesn't apply everywhere, but as a journalist you should be aware of what affects your readers. Tell them why they need to know about issues in the community, how it could affect them and why they should take interest.
For softer news, though, the approach might be a little different. My roommate wants to be a music journalist. But it isn't so she can meet the bands and get free CDs. She really cares about music and its affect on people. I think letting the public know about music, books, movies and basically anything going on in our culture around us needs to be exposed to the public. For instance, the Nickelodeon theater in town is hosting a Latin film festival. Reporting about this exposes the community to different cultures while doing something they love. And if there isn't some entertainment mixed in with all the hard news, the audience will either get bored or uninterested. Everything can't always be in-your-face zoning meetings, school board elections and crime reports.
A newspaper or broadcast should be well-rounded, and yes, it will have entertainment and sports. It is this way because America is like this; they watch the news, catch up on what celebrity married their camera man, catch the sports scores and then fall aslep with the seven day forecast. If your publication isn't diverse, and you don't expect it to be diverse, then I think you miss out on the big picture, and you will lose your audience. I like politics and that is what I want to report on, but I don't expect everyone to do what I want to do. I think that is what makes journalism so great, you can specialize in something that really interests you and be able to write about those issues going on around you that pertain to your interests. It keeps you fresh and liking your job and it keeps your writing from getting stale so people won't quit reading.

I don't know if any of this really makes sense, and I feel like I am rambling. I just know that your intentions before going into the field should be in the right place, and if they are, then I think as a journalist you will do well.


Goodbye Summer!

It's official. Summer's over. It's been about a month now, and I'm finally starting to get back in the swing of things. I realize it's a little late to be saying that, but the adjustment from spending hours out by the pool to spending hours doing homework was a bit delayed. I blame the weather. Summer weather practically instigates procrastination. Now that the temperature's finally cooling down, it's definitely time to get to work. My most labor-intensive class this semester is probably reporting. With a story and a rewrite due every week, it's not beneficial to put off doing the me. Writer's block at 2am is not a very enjoyable feeling. Getting criticism about my writing was also kind of hard to take at first. Being a journalism major, however, I'm gonna have to deal with criticism for the rest of my life. Everything I put out there for the public to read will end up being judged. Hopefully I'll be able to accept the bad with the good and learn from it. In the end, I know this experience will make me a better writer, and I'm thankful for the opportunities I've been given.

The way the cookie crumbles

I have to admit that this is my first post and I just have to be honest. I feel as if I have missed the memo for the past couple of years with the J-School. By the way, I am a senior and expecting to graduate on schedule. I am not trying to totally condemn the school but I have to say that I have felt misinformed.
I met with my advisor today and I am still not sure if I am going to graduate in May. Everything is uncertain, I do not know if the classes I need will be offered in the spring. I have learned not to assume anything, to communicate with others when things are so uncertain. Although it stresses me out, I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Hello there.

I would first like to thank Mr. Fisher for inviting me to become a part of this blogspot. Without a television in my room for the first time ever, I have been forced to turn into a blogger; oddly enough, I truly enjoy it.
For those of you whom I do not know, I am a junior in broadcast journalism-at USC, of course. I am looking forward to some healthy debates and witty posts and the chance to learn a little from everyone.

What is journalism?

Jenni, in her comments to Professor Wigggins' post, raises some valid points, I think. Is journalism too focused on government and politics -- perhaps because it's "easy" (everything is, to an extent, self-contained; we know the rules; government does touch our daily lives; etc.)? Business news has exploded in the past 15 years, but access is much harder, the rules aren't as clear (except where government intersects), and we have a built-in conflict and bias -- journalism as currently practiced is largely a big business. Entertainment journalism, as noted in the response to Jenni, still leaves a bad taste in some mouths, perhaps because of the way it is practiced. So let me throw open the discussion to our bloggers: What is journalism to you?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Private life of journalists

Allyson's post about journalists giving to political campaigns raises important questions for student journalists. Will you be expected to be apolitical in your private life? How public can working journalists be in their support of political candidates or public issues?
News rooms vary in their approach to these questions. Some forbid working journalists from volunteering for political campaigns, posting political signs on their lawns, or plastering political bumber stickers on the vehicles. Others leave it to the individual's judgment and only consider the fairness and balance of his/her published work. Most would not allow a journalist to cover a group to which he or she belongs.
Student journalists might consider this. Regardless of whether you feel you can be unbiased in reporting on public affairs even though you actively and openly support political positions, would your public activities suggest to news makers that you favor one side over others. Would your public activities suggest that in your professional life you support or oppose their positions, that you are a potential ally or opponent rather than a neutral party?
If you work for the partisan press, then there is no problem, unless, of course, your politics don't match those of your employer. If you work for the mainstream press, however, perceived biases would hobble you as you interact with sources, compromise your newsgathering and render you less effective in delivering a full and accurate report to the public.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Meals, races and a question

OK, so I had breakfast with Nader, lunch with Rumsfeld and free taco dinner at the National Press Club last week. But this week hasn't been so full of celebrity and free meals, and instead I've been chasing the same story down dead ends and dark alleys. The New York Times beat me to the story today on their front page, which is never good news. Someone told me, "If you're in a position to be scooped by the Times, that's great."
Im not sure if it's great, but it's Washington journalism. We look at the same datebook and run with it in a race to see who gets to the story first.

Today I went to a seminar at the Federal Election Commission and learned how to use its resources to check campaign contribution information. The most interesting part of the seminar was when we were shown a list of contributors in this year's presidential election -- beginning with the primary -- who listed "journalist" as their occupation. Of the 13 pages, 12.5 contributed to the Kerry campaign; 10 individuals made contributions to Bush. Any thoughts on whether journalists, in their off time, should be so politically active as to make campaign contributions that can be accessed as public information by a public that trusts them to be unbiased?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Stress and how to live to talk about it

The worst three weeks of my college career are past. I never thought I'd live to see the other side. After a two-year period since my copy editing class, the refresher was a killer. For those whose lives have never gone without a computer, learning the info graphics portion cold in a matter of days might not even result in breaking a sweat. For someone who grew up with a manual typewriter, however, the experience has been far from pleasant. Those who say their final semester of college is the easiest are not journalism majors. I'm slightly more relaxed now that we're in actual production of the j-school newspaper. The work of the past three weeks, I would argue, must be harder than the job of writer or editor in the workplace. A restful night's sleep has been foreign to me until the past few evenings. Thank goodness--my gray hairs were going white.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Guts, not glory

Having just returned from the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists, I was happy to read Sam's post about our efforts to revive the campus chapter here at USC. As I said in last week's meeting, we need this organization now more than ever. The 1,000 professional and student journalists who met in New York City for the convention were reminded of the principles that have defined modern-era journalism -- commitment to accuracy and truth, independence and integrity. Broadcasting legend Walter Cronkite, NBC Nightly News's Brian Williams and independent journalist and PBS host Bill Moyers, among others, sounded cautionary notes about declining standards in the profession, marked by gross lapses in judgment and a reluctance to ask tough questions of those who hold the public trust. Why have journalists grown so timid? Maybe it's related to what Bill Moyers said Saturday: Too many journalists are more interested in getting close to powerful people than they are in getting close to the truth. Any thoughts?

Friday, September 10, 2004

An American

"I don't do it for the money, there's bills I can't pay"

I was frequenting a local bar and ran into one of my highschool buddies. He had just gotten back from Iraq; a Marine who had given his live to defend what we believe. When I asked him what he thought of the war, he said it was not worth it. I contemplated his view and his situation and gave it some serious thought. I have never been involved with the military directly but I know people who have served the armed forces including my cousin and friends. Tonight was evidence of how we all enter the real world at different points in our lives. He did not go to college, but instead defends what we as American citizens enjoy everyday. This was one of my friends who was defending what we take for granted.

The very fact that I can post this blog is evidence of the free society that we live in. I was listening to NPR today and they were covering a Pro-Democracy rally in Hong Kong. One of the men, who was from China on a business trip, was commentating on the fact that he would be incarcerated if he spoke out against such actions in his own country. I know we are coming up on an election. But please remember how America got here. Please remember the soldiers who died to gain this freedom.

Many of my friends ask me what is to gain from this war. I tell them what came of war against the Nazi's, the British, and other world conflicts. War made this great land free. Many are quick to make fun of the current administration. We are establishing democracy in places where such did not exist. This is what America is founded. If anyone wants to argue this, I will gladly meet them at the flagpole after school........

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Job Future

I didn't want to be the first one to tackle Mr. Fisher's question, but I guess I will because it is bothering me that no one has responded.
In reference to the J. Blair's of the world, I'm not so much scared of it hurting my job perspectives. I know I love journalism. And I also know that no matter how badly I want a story, it would be harder for me to lie than to tell the truth. I'm not saying that I might never get myself into trouble, but I would definitely never make up a story.
When I was an editor on my high school newspaper, one of my staff writers plagarized a story. I was so angry. But I calmly went to my adviser and told her what had happened, and we made a plan of action in how to repremand the student. Though that experience isn't quite on the same scale, I still learned though the easy way out might work, it will eventually catch up with you.
I'm not sure if you are new on the job that being repremanded won't set you straight, but I also know that this is a job where there is no room for error. I can't say that I will never screw up a headline, because it is highly likely, I did it this week in copy editing lab and earned 15 points. I do know that I don't want a person who will do anything for a story in my business. There is a fine line about what can get you fired today, and I don't want something like a crazy headline to cost me my job, but that is the chance I took when I decided this is what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that this was a cut throat industry, but to me, this is worth it. I will deal with having to be perfect.

Everything old is new again...

For me, this past Wednesday night was jammed full of meetings with various extracurricular activities. I attended two fraternity meetings and a general interest meeting for the revival of an old journalism society that died out almost a decade ago. Led by fellow blogger Professor Ernest Wiggins, the Society of Professional Journalists is going to be a great asset to the already fine USC J-School. With the help of students and faculty, this group can provide a further look into the ever-changing world that is journalism. Ethics education can prevent the corner-cutting and plagiarism that has marred our public image.

So a big thank you to the students and faculty who have revived this organization; it will provide as much as we put into it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

First work day in Washington

At 3 p.m. I found myself watching Joe Lieberman and John McCain speaking about the 9-11 Commission from the floor of the Senate, while my credentials for press access to the Capitol were being processed. Today I officially started the Politics & Journalism Semester, a program that gives 14 students in the world a chance to attend seminars with some of the biggest names in politics and journalism while working at a D.C. news bureau full time. At 20, I'm the youngest member of the fall class.
My assignment is Media General, which owns newspapers and television stations in the Southeast. My work here will feed to their newspapers, specifically to the smaller papers that would otherwise be less represented since they don't have their own Washington correspondents.
After getting a badge at the Capitol, one of my mentors at Media General took me to the National Press Club, the most prestigious press club in the world, where media people hobnob over dinners and drinks. My news bureau paid for my membership at the club, which is located in the National Press Building, one floor above my bureau. I met national political analyst Mark Shields in the library.
As for my bureau, I lucked out and got a corner office with a door, a couch and a window three blocks from the White House. I'm used to being the nomadic intern without a desk or a beat. Just working in Washington is amazing enough, but today has just been surreal. What a way to welcome a Folly Beach girl to the Washington rat race.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The Blair-Glass-Kelley et al. legacy

We've had some really good posts here, some very eye-opening ones. I hope you are enjoying the insights of our posters, and I encourage those visiting this blog to comment. (Eds. note: Rest assured, we are not editing the postings, though we might occasionally see a little grammar faux pas and tell the poster.)

I'd like to toss a question into the mix to get another thread going. With Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley, Stephen Glass and a host of other folks (such as the recent case of a Seattle Times business columnist) openly or inadvertently borrowing (without credit) or fabricating material -- and getting fired for it with limited chance at redemption -- have you thought about the climate this is producing in journalism and how it might affect your career and the way you practice your craft? Is it affecting your attitude as you go through school at a time when, by many estimates, significant numbers of students buy term papers and otherwise cheat?


Friday, September 03, 2004

Who Reads In College?

So... here we go again. Post #2. Week #2 now completed. Summer is now even more officially over...and I'm loving every minute of it, minus the whole, "Oh yeah, I gotta go to class," aspect of it all.

It's funny how you get assigned all sorts of readings and materials for your classes and pay out of this world prices for books you'll probably never pick up again after this semester and then, once you have purchased the $1000 "under"-priced books, you somehow manage to fail to pick it up and read it when you're supposed to. I can already vouche for myself in saying I have had an all-nighter, already, and it's what, the 2nd week of school? (my, my)

However, I have been able to pick up other books that have absolutely nothing to do with the classes I am taking... whatsoever. (figures) Actually, three books (one of which a friend purchased for me and highly recommends). So once again, reading for class has been put on the back-burner ... but I promise... I'll pick it up and read it later.

As for now, I'll be turning to page one of The Pillars of the Earth by one Mr. Ken Follett, and maybe, tomorrow (yeah.. tomorrow sounds good) I'll pick up that book... for that one class I really need to do all that reading for.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

My epiphany

Of all the things I have learned at the J-school, I never thought I would have to re-learn the reason why I decided to be a journalism major. Today I did that.
I took a trip to Mr. Fisher's office to look at my blogs for this site so I could see what I was doing wrong. (I know he is editing this now and it just kills me.) But while there, he looked at my latest article in The Gamecock. I was so upset about my lead being changed by the editors, that I didn't even look at what I had done wrong in the article myself.
I had completely lost sight of what the article meant to my audience. The worst thing I could ever do.
But, this is also a learning experience.
Though I have no clue what I want to do when I leave here, I have always known that I wanted to be a journalist because I wanted to report the news. I wanted to work with features in news to bring the personal side of news to my audience and be able to touch their feelings. Somewhere in the process of beginning to write again, interviewing and doing the million other things in my life, I lost my reasoning behind what I do.
I forgot my responsibility to my audience to tell them what they don't already know. If you just rehash what they already know, especially in newspapers, then they won't read your writing, and they definitley won't watch your newscast. Your audience also needs to feel like they were with you because you touched on all the senses to make them feel that way, super important in feature writing...and I missed the mark on it.
I am so glad that I stopped by his office. I have always known why I was here, I just didn't carry it out into my real world work. And this might be a ridiculous entry to some, but remember, while at the j-school, even though you get bogged down by classes, meetings and life, don't forget that you are being trusted to tell the world what they don't already know, not just get another byline...and it is your obligation to your audience to never lose sight of that.

A True Southern Republican

My status as a full Southern Republican was esatablished within the past twenty-four hours. With the acqusition of my second firearm, I am now a full-blooded Republican. Aside from that, the Convention is happening and as a truth seeking American (ie Journalist) I have been reading both "Lying Liars" by Al Franken and "Dude, Where's My Country" by Michael Moore to guage a greater Liberal scope on today's politics. Although Franken's book is quite entertaining, it does not really prove anything. His argument that supposedly discredits the mainstream liberal bias is based on one case, the 2000 election. Now I have taken STAT 201 and know that any broad statement, which Franken provides, should have more supporting information than one election. Gore was basically an incumbent that year and the media might focus more on the other cadidate. Franken needs to esablish more definitive arguments if he wants to disprove the "liberal bias" on the media.

On a different note, the University of South Carolina has confirmed itself as a money hungry Fortune 500 company. Charging double ($40) for a parking space that you are not guarenteed is rediculous. I have to pay $100 a semester to park in front of my fraternity house which we paid $2.1 milllion dollars to have built. And of course the university has oversold such spaces simply to make a buck. The state budget cuts certainly do not help, but charging me to park in front of my house is simply insane. I mean we only raised the money neccessary for our orgainization to stay afloat on campus and we are penalized.

I suppose I'll just have to sit back and cut checks and listen to Hootie.