Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's Broken in the Newsroom?

It wasn't until I sat down and began this assignment, that I realized just how much I enjoyed the HBO hit series, "The Wire." Although I did only watch the 5th season (because that was the assignment), I know for a fact that I will watch the remaining four seasons in my spare time. The show itself is brilliant in my opinion. Although there are many "cop shows" out there, this clearly sets itself apart from any of the others. This is my own personal opinion, and it very well may be that I enjoyed it so much because I could easily relate. I myself live near the Baltimore area, where the show takes place, and have actually interned for the Baltimore Sun until recently. Therefore, to see a newspaper on television that I worked for was beyond intrigueing.

While each of the seasons had a different concentration, the fifth season mainly concentrated on the flaws of the media and how they affect society. This made the question given very easy to answer. I could tell in each episode a new flaw was focused on. One particular episode in the season, episode 52, "Unconfirmed Reports" was among my personal favorites that I watched. The name itself shares with the viewing audience some of the major flaws in our media. These include making money over the product you produce, lack of validity in reporting and lack of publishing important issues to the readers.

In this particular episode, there are many instances that you see these particular flaws. They don't necessarily occur in the newsroom, more so in the police aspect of the show but ultimately get reported back to the newsroom. One instance where this occurs may not seem like such a flaw, but does show the greed of particular characters in the show, and that they care more about their own money than the well-being of others, and doing their jobs. When McNulty arrives at a crime scene on a bus in the very beginning of the show, after his cop car got a flat tire. his reasoning for doing so is that he didn't think he would be reimbursed for a cab ride that would actually be quicker. He would rather save money rather than arrive to the crime scene promptly to do his job.

Fabrication, or lack of validity is another flaw seen in the not just the newsroom but in media in general. At the very end of the story, McNulty becomes guilty of altering a crime scene so as to make it look like the death of a homeless man is in fact the work of a supposed serial killer. His failure to report the truth shows that reporters and investigators will go to any lengths to get themselves a news story even if it means going as far as altering the murder of a human being.

Lastly, of the many flaws in the newsroom that were presented in this season, one of the scenes that interested me the most was also in episode 52. When the reporters showed up to the Orioles game to try and find their biggest fan. The topic for the story itself shows a flaw. While the show portrays plenty of other important news stories that are worth reporting, Templeton is told to report about the Orioles' biggest fan? This seems odd and leads the audience to believe that there is a lack of newsworthy stories being reported these days. This may be because reporters are getting lazy and simply writing simple stories just to "slip by" and get paid.

Watching this TV show was a a great experience for me. It really opened my eyes up and made me realize that with the decrease of the newspaper industry, the newsroom seems to have more and more flaws. What I thought was a "perfect" industry actually has many problems. I cannot wait to be a professional writer one day (Hopefully!) and hope that by that time the newsroom can try and fix some of these imperfections because although it may only be portrayed in television show, they do in fact occur in the "real world."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Ethical Principles and Legal Principles Should be Most Important to a Journalist??

Can a journalist write anything they want? Not necessarily. There are certain boundaries to a journalist's writing and responsibilities that they must have in order to not emotionally harm anyone, protect their own well being, and to report the truth. What do I mean by this?
The explanation for this can be found in the SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) CODE OF ETHICS. This Code of Ethics describes the many guidelines that a writer must follow while writing their stories in order to gain a good reputation and credibility from their readers. The many ethics are divided into four categories, Minimize Harm, Seek Truth and Report It, Act Independently, and Be Accountable. A writer must follow each and every one of these ethics and legal responsibilities in order to be successful and accurate in their stories.
Among all of these guidelines, there are certain that I feel are of more importance than others, although all are important. The most important of all, I feel is "Never Plagiarize." Taking someone's work and calling it your own is never acceptable and can result in serious repercussions. Not to mention, who wants to read about something they have already read?? Be creative!
Another ethic that I believe is extremely important to follow is under the Minimize Harm category. It states that the writer should always show compassion for those who may read the article and be unfavorably affected by the news in one way or another. It also says to be careful when reporting to a source that may have children as their audience. An example that we saw in class where the reporter clearly didn't follow this guideline was the incident where the little boy (in Texas?) was hit as he was crossing the street on his bike by a police officer. In this instance, the reporter showed the boy getting hit and clearly if any family member saw this they would be emotionally distraught from it.
Another example where the reporter didn't follow this particular guideline was the picture of the man jumping out of the window of one of the towers on September 11th. In instances such as these, that affected our nation so negatively, it is best to show less graphic material and be more compassionate towards you audience.
The last ethic that I feel is very important is to admit to your own mistakes, own up to them, and fix them in a timely fashion. Especially, if the mistake is a big deal, the public cannot be so misinformed. They need to know the truth, and so it is the responsibility of the writer to report that. Owning up to one's mistakes also helps with the writer's credibility in that if the audience sees that the writer is working to be 100 percent honest, they will be inclined to read that person's works.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Towson's Efforts to "Go Green"

In my second multimedia story, I will be covering one group on campus that is putting an effort towards "Go Green," and promoting it all over campus. University Residence Government (URG) is one group that is actively participating in the "Go Green" efforts. This group is the main group in charge of all residence life on campus. Throughout the year, this group is in charge of hosting a variety of activities to get residence life involved on campus. By doing these activities, students can become more inclined to voice their opinions about certain issues as well.
I have already been in contact with the President and Vice President of URG to get a greater look at their specific efforts to "going green" with the residents on campus, and what they have planned for the future. I want to know their personal opinions of the growing popularity of "Go Green" and if they think it will continue to grow and be successful. I hope to use their responses when I interview them to base my entire story around.
As far as my audio and photos for this story, I still have some thinking to do. I hope that there is some kind of picture I can get in one of the residence halls of like a poster or other advertisement of going green, or if there is an activity coming up that works with the "go green" initiative, that I can photograph. I will continue to think about my audio opportunities.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My first experience taking photos!

Jenny Ceccorulli is playing in the fall foliage outside of Stephen's Hall. She always enjoys this time of year!

The Towson Tiger sits in the middle of the field in front of Stephen's Hall. The statue was given as a present to Towson as a gift from the alumnae association.

Jenny Ceccorulli is standing outside of Smith Hall. This was not the best picture of her, but it will do!
I think for my first time taking semi- professional photos like this, i did a farely good job. My favorite one that I took was the tiger picture. It really captures the entirety of the tiger and also shows how dominating the statue really appears to be. I also like how I incorporated the flowers in there as well. Becuase the two objects clash, it makes the tiger appear more easily to the audience. You can't really go wrong with a mugshot, so this picture was good as well. Lastly, I enjoy the fall photo because it incorporates the one thing that fall entails, and that is leaves. It is also a fun photo and really shows my personality.
On the other hand, there is definitely a lot of room for improvement when I take pictures. The only experience I have had taking pictures is with my family or friends, not professional looking ones so I did experience a little bit of difficulty with this asisgnment. Although, I think a did a farely good job with the "thirds rule" I need to work on that for my fall photo. Lastly, for the mugshot, I shouldn't have rushed it so much because it is not the most attractive photo of me. I need to always make sure that the quality of my photos turns out better.
I have to say that I got a little bit confused and put the pictures of me instead of the pictures I took! Woops!

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Light the Night" Towson, MD

For my second article this semester, I have already covered the "Light the Night" walk that took place Saturday evening on Burdick Field here at Towson. This is my second year in a row doing this walk, and it is such a moving experience to see the hundreds of people that have come out each time to support the cause. The cause I am referring benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society which raises money for patients with blood cancer.
Since I did the walk last year, I am already informed a lot about the back ground information as far as where the money raised goes and who benefits. Before I write the article, I do want to do more research in to the history of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as more research in to the cancer and any cures that may exist. I feel as though the readers of my article should be informed of this so they better understand what I am writing about.
I got two interviews from two different walkers and their own personal opinions, but I may try and e-mail the national spokesperson for "Light the Night" to get advanced information. My camera wasn't working at the time, so I wasn't able to take any pictures. I'm not sure how I am going to work that out but you'll just have to wait until the article is written to see!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gas the lowest its been in almost a year!

Gas fell below $3 for the first time in almost a year yesterday all over the state of Maryland.,0,1533743.story (full article)

Bel Air, Maryland is one of the cities seeing the most dramatic decrease in gas prices recently. Prices fell 23 cents just last week and are continuing to drop each day bringing the state average to $3.20 as of earlier today. This decrease seems very drastic as gas prices peaked in the state of Maryland on June 17th at a price of $4.05 for regular grade gasoline.
Crude oil prices are the main component and reason for this rapid decrease in gasoline prices nationwide. On friday, the price of oil fell to its lowest in awhile to $78 a barrel. Since then its increased a little, but not too much. Many motorists believe that the presidential election right around the corner has a lot to do with the decrease, and once the election is over in November, gas prices will be on the rise again.
I, myself visited the states cheapest gas station over the weekend, not knowing that it in fact was the cheapest. According to the cheapest gas stations are located in the northeastern parts of the state in the Cecil County area, right before you enter Delaware. On Saturday, I paid a cheap $2.69 for a gallon of regular gasoline. Who would have thought that the day would come when we actually thought this was a reasonable price for gas? I remember when there was commotion over gas reaching above a dollar!
You can see what other people think about this sudden decrease in gas prices and by the newspaper article in general by going to:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is it "Inverted Pyramid Style" or not?

While searching through the NY Times on September 30th, I came across numerous styles of the inverted pyramid style of writing articles, which is a style typically used by journalists. This style consists of:

1. First, a conclusion of the entire story.
2. Next, supporting information of the topic.
3. Last, background and technical details.

The particular article that I found that supports this inverted pyramid style and consistently uses it, was found in the Arts and Music section of today's New York Times. The article itself is about the deal that Walmart recently signed to be the only store nationwide, along with Sam's Club (owned by Walkmart), to sell the new AC/DC version of the popular videogame "Rock Band."
This uses the inverted pyramid style because, it begins with the main idea, or rather the conclusion, that Walmart has agreed to be the only store nationwide to sell the videogame. Later, the article supports this main idea, when the author expands on the idea to explain it more to the reader. He does so by including information about how MTV is also involved in this deal by helping to actually create the game. The article also explains Walmart's part in this whole process, in that they will create a seperate section of all their stores to devote to promoting the new game.
Lastly, the author shows the last part of the inverted pyramid style by, using more supporting details, but also including any history behind this particular topic. Robert Levine, the author, discusses just how successful the first "Rock Band" video game was. He also explains some history behind the popularity of the band AC/DC and how popular they have been recently, by including surprising facts that they have sold more CD's than any other band in the past few years, except for the Beatles! I can't imagine what the hype is going to be with this video game! I know the first "Rock Band" was a huge success!

**I tried to get pictures, but there were none with this article! The link is: