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:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wanna find out what your vote really means?

This saturday, the 27th at 2p.m., the Towson Library on York Road will host political science professor, Dr. Toni Marzotto, in a lecture about why we should vote in the presidential election and what to think about while doing so. The sponsors for this particular event are the Osler Lifelong Learning Insitute of Towson University or OLLI as well as Extended Education and Online Learning or EEOL. If I needed background information on this event or even the speaker, I should contact either sponsor or both because they have a lot of experience in speeches similiar to this one.
At the actual speech, I will see if I can talk to Dr. Toni Marzotto afterwards to ask him a few questions to use for my article. I may ask questions such as, his own opinion on this election, will it be a successful election? Does he think there will be a greater youth turnout for this election than last presidential election? Along with this, I will see if I can get some background into his personal experience with political science and politics in general and why he finds it so interesting. What made him want to speak out to the youth to tell them that they need to vote? Does he think people such as himself speaking out about how important youth voting in the polls will change the statistics of younger voters in this election?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Analysis of classmate's twitter headlines

To begin this blog, I will first dicuss my classmate gilly415 and the three headlines that she posted to twitter. She did a very good job in doing her 50 word headlines on Twitter. She was very concise and to the point without leaving important information out. One thing that I woud fix would be in her headline about Towson football, she left out the when. She should add the date. I know it's hard to include all of the 5w's but she could have added the date somewhere in there.
Next, I will look at bwrigh5 and his headlines posted to twitter. Again, I think he did a very good job. He was very creative in his headlines. I especially liked "From black and gold to green?" It was very different from what a lot of people did yet he got the information across to the audience. The only thing he could've fixed was added he rest of the 5w's such as the who, because not everyone knows "black and gold" represents towson, especially people who aren't local.
Lastly, I will take a look at lmarti10. Her headlines were very good. They got all essential information to the reader in a clear manner. Again, though, some of the information is missing regarding the 5 w's. For example if someone was reading the headline, "Towson loses game to Richmond," how will they know if it was a football game instead of maybe a soccer game against Richmond. Also, she could have added a little more information to the headlines because it looks as if they may be a little bit short of 50 characters. Other than that, I thought she did a great job and definitely does a good job of picking out the essential information and making into a good quality headline.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All about press releases and news reporting!

So what exactly is a press release?

Well, a press release is basically a document that is issued to the media and consumers to introduce a particular product. The purpose of press releases is to increase sales and enhance the image of your particular business. An example of an article based off of a press release that was released at some point not too long ago was found in the New York Times online.

This particular article serves as a great example of an article based off of a recent press release. Recently, R. Preston McAfee, a professor at CalTech decided that enabling textbooks for college students to be viewed online would be a very effective idea. This idea would be very beneficial to college students, as it would cost about half the price of a normal textbook and still provide the exact same information.

This particular article isn't actually a press release, it is simply based off of a press release that came out recently introducing the idea to the public. The end of the article begs the question, would students actually give in to this idea? The majority of the article basically tells of the effects of this new idea and whether experts think it will actually be effective.

Moving on...what exactly does original reporting mean?

In order to give you a better idea of what original reporting is, I chose a very good example of a current event article to better explain it.

"On Peninsula in the Storm: No Way Out"

This particular story takes a closer look at the aftermath of Hurricane Ike and its effect on Texas. This story uses the Sherman couple who are Texas residents who experienced the horrific event as a basis for the story. Their stories are more emphasized than the hurrican itself becuase there have been numerous articles and news reports on Ike, but empasizing a particular couple accounts for the original reporting.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blog #4

Summary Lead:,0,3573541.story
"U.S. marks 7th anniversary of 9/11 attacks"

WASHINGTON - President Bush said today that history will look back at America's response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and conclude that "we did not tire, we did not falter and we did not fail."

Short Report/ Brief:
"New Season That's Rich in the Mix"

Diversity rules this season in the outstanding array of exhibitions at art museums in the suburbs of New York City.

What is a lead?

A lead is a short summary serving as an introduction to a news story or article. It is a brief and powerful statement that shares the stories most essential facts. A lead should contain the 5 W's and H although sometimes it is impossible to do so. The typical structure to a lead involves the subject coming first, followed by a verb as to what the subject did, and ends with an object. There are four guidelines to summary leads. You must first be specific as possible. Only include the most important and interesting aspects of the news story in order to really capture your audiences' attention. Next, you must avoid backing in, or rather placing an introductory clause or phrase before the subject. Another guideline is to be concise. Don't put too much information into one article's lead. A rule of thumb is that sentences that run not more that 30 words are good. Last, use active voice. This will increase the odds of the writer grabbing the readers' attention. In order to do this you must make sure that in your lead the subject is undertaking an action.

What is a short report?

A short report is different from a lead. A short report is sometimes referred to as a brief. They both bring readers summaries of interesting stories that don't deserve or really need to be full stories. They usually contain 1-3 sentences because there may not be enough details to construct a full news article. Tense is very important in short reports or briefs. You can use present tense, past perfect tense, or the future/ infinitive tense. In briefs and short stories no time element will appear because it can be assumed that the action or particular announcement has just recently taken place.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blog #3

Article 1:
"Alonso requests approval for nine middle/high schools"

Chief of schools, Andres Alonso has made the final decision to open nine more combined middle and highschools. This decision was made because of the poor education system in certain areas in and around Baltimore City. Alonso hopes that with the growth of these combined public schools, the education system will grow over the years and better prepare students for college.
This story is very newsworthy in my opinion. This is mostly because of the audience factor and proximity which can be definied as physical nearness. The Baltimore Sun is a newspaper read in not only Maryland, but bordering states, but most frequently in the Baltimore area. Education in Baltimore as always been an issue that needs to be dealt with and with the youth population on the rise and schools becoming more over crowded, the need for more public schools is great. Those in Baltimore who read this article will be glad to hear that the chief of schools in the area is succeeding in making an impact on the poor education system currently in place.

Article 2:
"Details Announced for Oct. 4 Phelps homecoming"

On Oct. 4 Baltimore and surrounding areas will celebrate the homecoming of Olympic gold medal winner, Michael Phelps in a parade to held in Towson. The parade will consist of fireworks and music in Phelp's hometown to celebrate his victories and acheivements.
This article is also very newsworthy for many reasons. One major reason has to do with prominence or the simple fact that famous people and celebrities are very newsworthy and audiences love to hear all about them. Michael Phelps, especially recently, has been a name all over the news because of his outstanding accomplished at this year's summer olympics. He has become incredibly famous over the past few years and news about him can have an incredible impact on the audience.
Another reason this article is so newsworthy is because of the proximity or physical nearness. Becuase Phelps is from the Baltimore area, people in the area are proud of that. The audience will be very excited to know that a "Baltimorian" just like them is a world-renowned athlete, and not only that will be coming back to his hometown in a few weeks to celebrate his accomplishments. I'm sure Towson University students will be even more excited to know that the parade will be held right outsdie their dorm rooms!

Article 3:
"As Hurricane Ike nears, Texas bolsters emergency plans"

Hurrican Ike is the next threat to the Gulf Coast, and as it nears Texas, evacuation took place today (Tuesday) to evacuate nearly 1 million people. Ike has already hit Cuba and did its fair share of destroying. It still hasn't been officially decided whether or not to make the evacuation mandatory of all people living in the southern areas of Texas.
This article can be newsworthy to anyone in any area of the United States. No matter where in the United States you live, natural disasters can occur, whether it be a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, monsoon, etc. Anyone can relate with those people being evacuated or even trying to clean up the mess from this past weekend's hurricane Hanna, and know that it can be very stressful and saddening. Human interest, or stories that have strong emotional content can describe how this particular article is newsworthy. Hearing about how people are being forced to leave their home behind, not knowing if it'll be there when they get back can inflict sadness on the reader especially if they can personally relate to that experience.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blog #2

Part One:
The outstanding profile that I personally chose was that of Miranda A. Watling who is an education reporter for the newspaper Journal and Courier. She focuses on all aspects of education in her articles whether it be on political viewpoints of our education system or religion in schools, she covers it all. From reading her profile, I can tell that she is a very honest person. She is not conceited by any means. She knows that she is a good writer and reporter but she doesn't flaunt it and even writes about how she still has a long way to come and even still has a lot to learn about journalism itself.
From her portfolio, I can predict a few items that may be in her mobile journalism kit. I got an "old school" vibe from Miranda in that she seems to not do so well with modern technology, especially when she says that she wouldn't want to deal with a so-called "smartphone" to do her organizing, she would rather use a planner. Therefore, I'm guessing that a "smartphone" like the one Jared Silfies uses would definitely not be in her mobile journalism kit. Other than this, I can see her using a lot of the same things that Jared Silfies uses such as a digital camera, note pad (just in case her laptop fails), a computer, and also an audio voice recorder. In comparison to Jared's kit, I feel as though her journalism supplies would be more dated.

A link to her profile is:
(Professor Atwater,
I couldn't find a picture on this particular portfolio. There weren't any that were really relevant to how I was describing her mobile journalism kit, or even a picture of her that I could find.)

Part Two:
In Jared Silfies mobile journalism kit, he has a copy of the book, "Elements of Style," by William Strunk Jr. I do actually own a copy of this book. My aunt and uncle got it for me two years ago on Christmas after I made the decision to major in journalism and college. I only skimmed through it upon recieving it but haven't picked it up since. It still sits at home but I will be sure to bring it back to Towson with me next time I go home to visit. I have heard from many people that it truely does help a novice writer better themselves.
Regarding Silfies as a writer, I believe the book says a lot about him. In "Elements of Style," the author stresses organization a lot. Also, how each paragraph should contain one topic and one topic only so the reader doesn't get confused. Along with this, the author also stresses introducing each paragraph with a topic sentence and ending with something to wrap up all ideas. Jared Silfies lacks this quality in the article I read by him. He tends to jumble his ideas together, and although it made fairly good sense to me, other readers may have problems understanding his ideas.
All in all, I think the author of "Elements of Style, would say that Silfies needs to put more organization into his work. Rather than jumbling his opinions all over the place, he should try to condense them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Who I Am!

Hi! My name is Jenny. I am a sophomore at Towson University where I am a mass communications major minoring in Journalism and Public Relations. I have always loved to write, all throughout all my years of school. It wasn't until my junior year in high school that i decided I wanted to major in the communications field and hopefully someday become a well known writer for a popular women's magazine.
Through taking this class, I hope to better my grammar skills because they are just not too good! I also hope to learn different styles of writing that may interest me. Pretty much, I just hope to overall better my writing skills so that I can become successful in the classes that I plan to take in the future!