Monday, April 27, 2009

This week in Journ 420...

This week's lecture topic was outsourcing.  This is generally something I associate with anything technology related.  While, I have heard that certain newspapers have considered outsourcing for editing, I never truly realized just how many papers have tried it, and how big of a problem this truly is.  Our economy isn't doing so well right now.  I am all for saving a couple of dollars here and there, but is outsourcing really the answer for all of our editing needs?  I am going to argue that no, it is not.  In fact, I do not think that newspapers should consider outsourcing for anything but advertisements.  

After reading the comment from one of the outsourced writers for the Pasadena Now, I couldn't understand why some editors feel as though outsourcing is a good idea.  The outsourced writer was assigned to cover city council meetings.  The meetings are taped and posted on the Internet.  The first question I had was a simple one.  How can these individuals evaluate what is truly important to the community/what certain things mean for the city when they are an ocean's length away?  The only answer I can come up with is that they can't.  I have a hard enough time judging what I think should be important to communities when I am a part of them, let alone when I am on another continent.  

Another issue I had with the outsourcing idea also arose after reading the comment from one of the outsourced writers for the Pasadena now.  Within the first few words, it was evident that the English language was not the writer's strong point.  Seeing as he was writing for an English-language newspaper, I see this as a bit of a problem.  To me, this gives the paper's editors unnecessary work.  Does that make it worth it?  No, not really.  In addition, this particular writer thought that the Rose Bowl was some sort of food dish.  Now, I'm not a sports buff nor do I pretend to be.  I cheer when others cheer, and immediately ask why we're cheering.  However, I do know what the Rose Bowl is.  Perhaps that is because it is something that has been put into our culture and is recognized by much of the population.  Huh...I wonder how many other things these outsourced writers misunderstand.  Actually, I don't want to know.  It will only make me hate this concept even more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I disagree...

Ever since my first journalism class, I have been told that print journalism is slowly dying out.  It's all going to be online soon, journalists say.  Not many people read newspapers anymore, computer nerds rant.  Up until our lecture on Monday, I began to believe it myself.  Now, I just believe that I was being brainwashed to believe what everyone else thinks.

I know better now.

My generation is obsessed with receiving information at lightening speed.  We cannot stand the unknown and, for some reason, having to wait longer than an hour for information is too hard to do.   Please note that this is my generation.  Considering my generation is not the only one that exists, I'm not quite sure why we are so panicky.  

Generations before ours have relied on newspapers forever.  People read them with their coffee, stuff them into briefcases and take them out on the train ride to the office.  Papers provide ample entertainment on the way to the office, during lunch and after someone gets home from work.  The generation of which I am speaking is not mine.  It is our parents' generation and the one before that...and, in some cases, the one before that.  Sure, my generation is going to take over all of those places, but it is not something that is going to happen any time soon.  

My advice to you is to stop freaking out.  It would be naive to say that the Internet has no effect upon print journalism, but it is also naive to believe that print journalism will die anytime soon.  The Internet obsessed era has yet to gain total control of the world, so until they do, take a breather, grab a paper, and actually flip through it.  Don't be afraid.  It is virus free and you might actually learn something new.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So here's the deal.  I just got into an argument with one of my friends.  He is a pre-med major.  He thinks science and math are the only things that matter.  He told me that writing is pointless and communication isn't very necessary.  Needless to say, I convinced more people that it was necessary than he did.  Funny how that works, isn't it?  

For the sake of embarassing him via the internet, I will not say his name...even though I really want to.  After the "argument," I had an epiphany myself.  Despite how awful the economy may be at this point in time, companies will always need someone that can communicate.  Words are extremely powerful tools for a myriad of things.  How do you think those medical books were written in a way to make you understand, oh powerful med student?  It takes writing and communication skills to be able to pull something like that off, even in the world of medicine.

This epiphany gave me hope.  I tend to stress out about things, and the whole bad economy/me not possibly getting a job after graduation thing took about ten years off of my life.  Not that I want to write medical journals, or take notes for doctors, but I realized that there are so many opportunities available to me as a journalism major.  I am able to go into public relations type things, advertising, and business.  As much as my opponent would like to disagree with me, many fields would not exist without communication.  Although he is too stubborn to realize that he may have lost this argument, I know who the real winner is.   

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I'm going to be honest.  When I first heard that we would be spending a week discussing cutlines, a little part of me shuddered.  "How boooring," I thought.  "Especially at 8:00 in the mooorning."  After being dismissed to do the assignment, my spirits hadn't lifted very much.  I sat down at the computer, headed to the AP website and became enthralled by all of the photographs that accompanied each story.  This particularly shocked me because, while I had heard about the earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy, I had yet to see actual photographs.  Hearing about the damage was nothing compared to seeing the sheer volume of destruction.  I heard about this story through Facebook.  I have friends (who remain unscathed) studying abroad in Italy this semester that were kind enough to let us know they were safe.  Also, despite the Irish front my red hair likes to put up, I am Italian, so this story hit particularly close to home because of my heritage and study-abroad friends.  
As it turns out, I truly enjoyed this assignment.  By using the AP website, I felt as though I was let in on a secret that others were not.  At the end of the day, I felt as though I was solving a puzzle rather than writing cutlines.  I had to chose a picture that best fit the story and my audience.  I needed to write a lead-in of 2-3 words to grab a reader's attention (which proved to be difficult...I'm a wordy person).  Finally, I had to write the cut-line and make it fit the word requirement.
This was fun to me.  I mean, I wouldn't want to do this on a Saturday night, but I would be much happier writing cutlines than obituaries or police reports for the rest of my life.  
After Monday's class, I wondered if we would spend another day working on cut-lines.  The board made it clear to me that we would.  This time, my attitude was different, and I was able to enjoy the assignment from start to finish.  Feel free to chalk up a journalism nerd point for me.  I'm ok with it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Online Reporting

I thrive on getting information fast.  I hate having to flip through the pages of a book or newspaper to find a jump.  I like being able to type in a keyword and have millions of articles/websites show up as a relavent search result.  However, the fact that newspapers are slowly starting to disappear is odd to me.
I talked to my dad about this during spring break.  Rather than spending my time on a beach, I spent my spring break searching for a summer internship.  I was interested in finding one that merged public relations and journalism.  This way, I would have experience in a field that wasn't becoming so hit or miss.  (Sad, I know.)
Anyway, the main thing my dad said was that he didn't quite understand why people were so fascinated with reading the news online.  I tried to explain how important speed is to everyone now, and he still thought it was pointless.  He brought up the fact that he is a commuter, and enjoys reading the paper on the train.  He feels bad for the people that have to squint at their Blackberry's and struggle with the small thumbpads.  
Those were good points.  I hadn't thought of many of those things.  He brought up the importance of the material object, holding it, flipping through it, running into articles you might not expect to, etc.  My need for speed slowly began to drift away after that conversation.  I can't imagine printing out pictures online and sending it to family members because they were pictured in some article.  Cutting it out of a paper gives you a totally different feeling.  To me, it makes it more meaningful.  Anyone can post pictures on the Internet, but not everyone can be pictured in a newspaper.  It's exciting when something like this happens.  
I'm crossing my fingers with hopes that the economy will turn and bring papers back, regardless of how important speed may be to the general population.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Last week's lecture

Swear words are interesting to me.  I tend to have my own rules as to what is considered acceptable, and who is allowed to say these certain words.  I don't swear.  Ever.  (Well, unless I'm extremely angry, but that rarely happens.)  I think my parents made it seem so taboo to me when I was younger that certain words just didn't enter my vocabulary.  I don't have a problem with it when other people do it; in fact, I usually laugh.  I guess that isn't a good thing, but I'm really only bothered by it when it is done excessively.  Being the age that most college students are, I have a feeling that most of us would shrug off an explicit word or two if our friends dropped them.  However, I tend to have standards when it comes to this type of speech.  It makes me laugh when one of my best guy friends drops the f-bomb all over the place for emphasis, but if a girl used that word to the extent that my friend Jack does, I think I would just stare at her.  My sentiments toward using swears in the news are pretty similar, actually.  To me, there are certain publications that act as "girls," and some that act as "boys."  (Sidenote: I'm starting to wonder if I should've lived in the 1950s...)  I don't think that adding a swear word to a written publication can be seen as a bad thing, so long as it is only used for emphasis and not dropped every other word.  Just like all other words, these words can help to convey emotion, just in a more attention grabbing way.  However, if I were to hear a reporter for CNN drop a swear word during a regular broadcast, I think my jaw would drop (unless he or she was reading something or quoting someone).  I can't seem to make sense of what I think is "ok" and what is "not ok."  All I can do is tell the difference between when I've been offended and when I haven't been.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Something to think about.

After hearing about the New York trip, I came to the semi-harsh realization that I am a total wimp.  I would NEVER be brave enough to drop everything, move to New York, sleep on couches and hope that I could find a job.  Why?  Because I would be afraid to fail.  How lame, right?  Half of that experience would be for the excitement, and all the while I would be wasting my time being practical.  I wish I could do something like that.  I wish I could just drop everything (and by everything I mean my inevitable time in the Chicago-land suburbs after graduation) and head to New York with hopes of getting a job at Rolling Stone Magazine.  I had a friend who did something like that....  After we graduated high school, he went to college for a couple of months and decided it wasn't for him.  He said that his time in a classroom made him realize that he wanted to pursue music.  So, he packed up and moved to L.A. with a friend.  He didn't make it in the music industry, so he came back home.  No harm, no foul.  He's fine with it.  He doesn't feel like a failure.  In fact, he lives in Seattle now because he decided that would be more fun than L.A.  I need gumption.  In other news, I actually enjoyed the story we read about the freezing cold day in New York.  Then again, I'm obsessed with descriptions.  I feel like I'm being cheated out of the whole story if I don't hear every last detail, no matter how minute it may be.  The writing made me think of The Catcher and the Rye.  The descriptions were wordy, but I could picture every single thing he was describing.  Interesting...I hated that book but I liked the article.  I did have to re-read some of the sentences to make sure I understood them completely, but I didn't mind because once I did, I was granted with a whole different picture.  As I said before, I think I'm just a sucker for descriptions, but you should know that by now; I just told you all about my friend from high school...