Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Three Commandments

Thou shalt use accuracy.
Thou shalt practice transparency.
Thou shalt not plagiarize or fabricate.

I believe these three journalism "commandments" should be followed by all who seek becoming a professional in the journalism field. They will not only keep you out of jail, but they will also allow you opportunity to become a more credible source of information in the public eye.

Accuracy is the first point to ponder. If a story is not accurate, how can the readers trust the information from that source? Double checking names, dates, locations, quotes, facts, sources to contact, etc. MORE THAN ONCE is a necessity for any article. Besides grammatics, it is important to analyze the truth represented through a story. Do quotes portray what the speaker actually meant? Do photos misrepresent an event in any way? These are a few questions to ask.

Transparency is another important factor dealing with gaining and maintaining public trust. I think we see this in bloggers who have captured the attention of the public eye as credible, honest, and open to criticism. They just put out their opinions and the facts that they've found to be true, not holding back information they believe to be true, and in turn they gain public trust.

My media law teacher continues to remind us of this rule, despite the fact that we had our test on libel a couple weeks ago: Do not plagiarize or fabricate! It's self explanatory really. Using actual quotes you've heard with your own ears, writing stories based off of interviews YOU conducted as a journalist, and giving credit to any additional sources are just a few keys to sticking to this rule. "So stay out of jail and abide by these commandments," thus saith your future editors!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Towson U: Full of photo ops!

Greg Romano, senior Mass Communications major (left), and fellow "rocker" Bryan Patterson, senior Business Management major (right), promote Delta Sigma Phi's 48 hour see-saw to raise funds supporting testicular cancer research. Members of the fraternity had signed up for two hour time slots and braved the harsh weather for a cause.

Taking a superb photograph requires an eye for detail and a mind for creativity. There are great techniques that are often used when looking through the lens. When taking a portrait of someone, as shown above (thanks Claire), it is important to use natural lighting that softens and compliments our natural figures. Also, shooting the camera at eye level and making sure the background is simple (nothing sticking out of their head) work for a great photo.

Filling the frame is also effective when trying to draw a focus to the object in the photo. In the photo above, I used a different angle, slightly lower to the statue and filled my frame with the face of the tiger. I also used the rule of thirds because when you break down the frame, there is emphasis on the eyes at the top, and the gaping mouth of the tiger to the left instead of having the subject directly in the middle.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Predators, beware: girls WILL fight back!

In light of the recent rape that occurred near campus, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to attend the Girls Fight Back event on Tuesday, Oct. 28. During this event, Erin Weed will guide women on several aspects of self-defense that can be used in potentially threatening situations.

Info on event: I know it takes place Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Towson Center Arena. I also know the key points that Erin Weed will be touching base on through this event that are listed on the Daily Digest. Looking further for more information, I googled GFB and found their site which gave me background information on the formation of the group, contact information, how to set up seminars, etc. The sponsoring groups for this event are also mentioned as well as who to contact for further information.

Souces: Erin Weed will be my main source, but I will also try to get quotes/information from other women who attend the event and possibly a faculty member who took part in organizing the event or sponsored the event.

Questions: I will seek further information on the event, it's foundation, and possibly it's goals for the future and how it affects women in today's society. I will ask attendees their opinions of the event and how it influenced them. I may also ask faculty about past events similar to this one or with the same objective to relate to this event.

Photo Ops: Photo opportunities may include a profile of Erin Weed, audience members at the event, and possible demonstrations of self defense. It's going to be an interesting night!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Running, Racing, and Raising Awareness

Runners race for a cause at the Baltimore Marathon on Oct.11, 2008.

Many of the contestants shared their reasons for running: raising money for lost loved ones and raising money for a specific medical cause such as AIDS, cancer, or hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (don't ask how to pronounce because I have no idea!).

Beth O'Grady, who's brother, Stephen, was killed by a drunk driver, said, "Doing marathons [has] been a huge release for me and a way to raise money for the causes Stephen loved...Running isn't easy. Anything over 20 miles is pure hell and sends you digging deep into your gas tank. But my bother pushes me on."

Running a race like this seems to send a strong message to me about life. Sometimes it seems it is hard to press on and catch up because there is excess baggage that is weighing us down, slowing us down so much that we feel like giving up. Like these runners, we should press on, looking forward and staying focused on our goals, never looking back.

Proverbs 4:25,26 says, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established." This verse helps me remember that no matter what goals I am racing towards, if I keep my eyes towards the finish, I know I will be successful. I am already an overcomer through Christ.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pranks, jokes and all that fun stuff!

My dad works for the National Security Agency and always has a story to tell. He takes his job serious, but he and other employees find it equally important to enjoy their job and have a little fun once in awhile. Today, he told me a story about one of his coworkers, Paul.

"So one day we went outside and filled Paul's hubcaps with stones and turned up his car radio to full blast. When Paul went to leave the (military) base, the guards started shouting at him and pointing to his car. He had no idea his radio was on full blast and all the world could hear it, except for him!" my dad chuckled. Reason being: Paul is deaf. "The next day he came to work and started beating on my friend accusing him of the prank when he wasn't even involved!" But Paul knows its all for fun, my dad explained. He doesn't mind the jokes .

I can not imagine all the other stories my dad would tell if he performed stand up comedy for a night! That is why I've decided to cover my first story on the Friday Night Live Series of Stand Up Dads. So far the only advance information I know is that its this Friday at 8pm in the Potomac Lounge at Towson University. The Daily Digest also mentions getting there early in case the seats fill up fast. Other that this info, I'm sure I will have a lot to gather at the event for my article.

My main sources will be those present at the event, including audience members, the "stand up dads" and any faculty that helped organize the event. I plan on asking various questions to gather my information. I will be asking audience members what they thought of the performances; the performers, where some of their inspirations derived from; faculty members, what their opinions were about the event. I also plan on recognizing the reactions of the audience to the performance taking note of changes in body language or any other signs of interest or dislike. I'm looking to just have fun and write a terrific article in the process! Can't wait to hear some comical stories!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Twitter, Twitter makes a hitter!

It comes as no surprise to me that our class is now entering the world of Twitter after just learning to manage blogs. Our generation's knowledge of technology is increasingly evolving as we find more ways to get information out to the public, whether it be on current events or just our daily thoughts and experiences. Three of the Twitter's I thought were worth mentioning as we take on this next challenge are Mikal, Alex and Mike's.

One of Mikal's examples for 1-2-3 filing related to Towson's Go Green Campaign. Her first tweet was a great use of alliteration to catch the reader's attention: "and her follow-up answers most of the 5 W's and H (the "when" isn't identified, but thats OK!) It was simple, clean and to the point.

Next was Alex, who's example about the hiring freeze at TU caught my attention. Her posts were short and informative. I also liked the sentence structure for the follow-up. The content made me want to read more just in case the budget cuts would affect anyone I knew.

Lastly was Mike's tweets on the Tiger's recent loss with Richmond. He used abbreviations in his first and second tweet, making the posts tighter and easy to read. If I read them, I would want to click the link to learn more about the game, how Towson struggled or what the resulting score was.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lead the Readers!

There are two important factors that can lead a reader to wanting to know more about a story. First is the short report consisting of about 1-2 sentences in the form of a Broadcast/Web bulletin, email alert, crawler, or newspaper brief. A good example I found of this was on relating to Hurrican Ike. It briefly stated: "Dolores Gabriles, 71, is helped from a rescue boat by police Capt. Walter Braun (left) and Officer Jeremy Smart after Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast at Galveston. It is estimated that as many as 140,000 of the nearly 1 million residents who were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas stayed." It is short, concise, and gave enough information to me as the reader to want to know more about how this affected others in Texas.

The second important factor is the summary lead, a declarative sentence that answers for the reader the 5 W's and an H. A great example I found, also on, was about Presidential candidate, Barack Obama. It answered all of the questions needed in a strong lead: "Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama asked his supporters yesterday to help with recovery from Hurricane Ike and canceled his plans to crack jokes on Saturday Night Live." It answers everything we need to know just to get us hooked into finding out more! I found this one particularly fascinating because all I've been hearing about lately in politics is how Obama was going on SNL. I'm not really into politics, but it just came as a little shocking that he would pass up SNL. I mean, who does that?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fires, hurricanes, and...what is 'fringe' science?

Tragedy, crime, business, entertainment-all of these can describe news headlines we may find in the morning paper. So what exactly is news and what makes an article worthy of that title? I think it lies in how the article makes a connection and communicates its message to the public within a few words. It grabs your attention in a way that, even if you're not into sports, you'll be interested in hearing about the latest news on Tom Brady.

When looking over the homepage of, a few articles drew me in for various reasons, which can all be linked to the traditional news values that we will be discussing soon. These values include impact, prominence,unusualness, currency, timeliness, proximity, affinity, and human interest. If it is to be considered a "great" article rather than just a "good" one, then I believe the more values the more successful the article will be.

The first article to catch my eye was the article about the fire that destroyed a community playground on 33rd street in Baltimore. Living so close to Baltimore, this makes the article one of proximity for me. It seems tragedies like these are a daily occurrence. As I continued to read on, more values seemed to apply including timeliness and human interest. The playground was built up by the surrounding community of volunteers marking a great accomplishment for those who worked so hard putting it together. When something like this happens, we become interested in it because we immediately feel a connection to want to help out in some way and make things right. That's what drew me in the most about this article, how it evoked emotion in me and sympathy for all who were hurt by this tragedy. It truly had an impact on me.

Following this article, I was drawn to read about Hurricane Ike and how it is affecting those in Texas. Timeliness first played a part to this interest because we recently had a tropical storm hit the east coast which affected some more than others. Many were taking precautions the same way those in Texas have began. Conflict also plays a role since many in Texas seem to be battling against nature itself, not really knowing how badly it will affect them and their lives. Affinity may also be considered for those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina because they can relate to the fear that many of those in Texas are feeling as they begin evacuations and precautions for the storm.

Lastly, I just HAD TO READ the article on J.J. Abrams new series, Fringe. I love all of his shows, including Lost! I must say I am a fanatic and have all of my little theories about the island and it's "mysteries," just in case anyone else watches :) Anyway, the article appealed to me mostly for human interest purposes, but it can link to prominence, timeliness and conflict as well when you read more about the plot of the show. It is very twisted and crazy, much like the others, and delves "into the world of fringe science: astral projection, mind control, re-animation, telepathy." This article fed my curiosity, making me want to learn more about the show and it managed not spoiling the premier, even though I'd already watched it.

I think these articles can be considered news worthy because they are what makes news interesting for everyone. They appeal to a variety rather than a select group of us. So no matter who you are, there is always news that pertains to you, even if you can't see it yet. Sometimes it takes more than a quick glimpse to make the connection.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blog 2 Response

Backpack journalists can also be referred to as solo journalists. They take it upon themselves to do everything they need to "get the scoop" all alone. This means doing the audio, visual, and putting everything together in the end using Dreamweaver or photoshop. Jared Silfies revealed everything he thought was important for a backpack journalist to carry in their backpack in order to be successful. Such items included a Smartphone, camera, voice/video recorders, USB, notepad, Mac, and The Elements of Style. Although I haven't read it, I have been told by another teacher that I should invest in owning it because as a journalist, it will come into handy:) I think that it would be a great tool in helping me write in a more professional manner and I would be taken more seriously in my career if my grammar is precise.

When viewing the variety of blogs and portfolios, Rachel Youens caught my eye of interest the most! I love watching shows like Project Runway and America's Next Top Model when I have the time, so I liked how she incorporated her interests in fashion with her career in journalism. The layout was very fluent and easy to manage my way through. I also took note of her resume and it's professional appearance because I need to work on my own. I found it interesting to see some of her "volunteer experience" that she listed on the resume. These type of things could be key to catching a prospective eye from a magazine that is looking for someone that doesn't just do their job for the money, but because they enjoy it and want to make a difference in people's lives. I'm sure that she would need several fashion related supplies in her area of journalism besides the usual technology. Not only would she need USB's, audio/visual recording equipment, but also current updates on fashion from such magazines as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle, etc. Working in Austin, TX must make her job particularly interesting because she's not in the "ideal" fashion locations such as LA or New York, so she must use other sources to get her information on what's hot and what's not.


Hello. Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs. I hope they provide a little insight to what my life is like and the experiences I face at Towson University this year. It is my junior year as a Mass Communications major/Women's Studies minor. School is fabulous, but I also enjoy other little joys in my life. Music is a big part of who I am. I love to sing and hope to build a career out of that someday, even if it's auditioning for American Idol, I'll do whatever it takes! I'm currently in a band, 28May (, that I enjoy being a part of. I write my own lyrics and have found that they voice my emotions as I've experienced the ups and downs of life, and who hasn't? Besides music, I am pursuing a career in journalism to some day have my own column in a magazine, or possibly my very own magazine. I enjoy traveling so if I could find a job that gives me that opportunity, you better believe I'll do whatever it takes to score that position! I've been to several countries among Europe already including Paris, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom (lived here for 3 years), and Scotland. I plan to add Ireland on my list when I travel there this summer for vacation :) Another important part of my life is my relationship with Christ. I believe I wouldn't have gotten where I am today if it wasn't for His masterful plans playing out in my life! I've been blessed with a wonderful, supportive family, great living arrangements for this year, an awesome new job, and I'm just enjoying life now more than ever. I am truly thankful and look forward to this school year to have a positive, life-changing impact on who I am!