Category: Journalism

Networking Matters

It’s the cliché you’ve heard a million times when it comes to breaking into whatever industry you want to break into.

I know I’ve heard it more than my share of times, especially considering the extra emphasis journalism places on not just networking for jobs, but networking for sources.

Usually I’ll just roll my eyes when I hear someone say it. Because everyone says it, despite the fact that it’s intrinsically simple and somewhat obvious advice.

But that advice played a big hand in two things that were relevant for my work today.

So I figured I should throw my hat in the ring just this once and remind you all that if you aren’t networking often, you should be.

The first case comes out of an earlier adventure. Remember when I went with my friend Mimi to see the Blizzard employees speak at the Fullerton Public Library?

While I was there I passed my business card along to one of the presenters, who said he would get it to someone in the HR Department.

Lo and behold, just a few days later a Blizzard Entertainment/Activision employee had signed up to be a Gladeo interviewee. Not the same person, granted, but still. I was highly appreciative.

Thus in the not-so-distant future I will be doing a profile of someone at Blizzard. Which is pretty awesome not just in terms of someone being interested in the work I’ve been doing, but also because I love video games. So who knows, if that goes well perhaps I’ll get access to more Blizzard employees and I can say I’ve gotten a wider breadth of understanding about the company under my belt.

So yeah. Going to random events just to network was a successful strategy for me.

My other more recent example is a bit esoteric, so stay with me.

When I was in elementary school, I spent a lot of time playing chess. Which sounds like I’m just inviting my own eminent torment and bullying I know, but it’s true. I was part of the chess club and everything.

Wasn’t too bad at it either, considering I won a number of trophies in little competitions. #HumbleBrag

One of the reasons I was so good at it was because I learned from a guy named Chessmaster Steve. He was, needless to say, the best.

Though I haven’t really thought about or heard from him since all those years ago.

Until today, if the obvious build-up to a point wasn’t obvious enough.

See when Chessmaster Steve was not teaching elementary school kids chess (even if I had assumed at the time that was all he did), he was apparently a trained physical therapist. One who now works for the Office of Veterans Affairs.

As it turns out, one of the Gladeo League reporters has been having trouble finding a physical therapist to talk to for a profile they’re working on.

So, long story short, my mom has kept in touch with Steve for all these years, and I was able to make contact with him so we can try to have the reporter set-up an interview.

Apparently I was playing the long-game when it comes to networking as well, because that’s a connection that I never in a thousand years would have imagined might become relevant.

That’s essentially my elevator pitch. Like I said I’m usually the person who rolls his eyes when someone says it, but networking and making solid connections is super important.

So make sure you get on doing that ASAP for whatever job it is you might be after.

Lecture over. Hope you all took notes because this is 100 percent going to be on the exam.

Covering Barack Obama

Covering Barack Obama

 

Anyone else ever go to an event and then come home and pass out for four hours?

No? Just me?

Alright.

Well, that being said, I’m sure anyone who follows me on social media knows where I’m going with this blog post. I spent the day out covering former President Barack Obama’s visit to Anaheim, so I’m going to run through my experience real quick and log a couple of my more favorite live tweets from the Boom California Twitter account.

Consider this me attempting to just preserve that this happened today, since I’m still kind of in shock about it. But at he same time I feel like a pile of goo right now, so it’ll probably be a little sparse.

Just two days ago, I followed-up on a last-minute email that my professor and friend Dr. Sexton received about RSVPing to go to Obama’s event today. It was essentially a rally for a number of Democratic Congressional candidates in California.

Frankly it was a bit of a moonshot to apply for press credentials. Boom California is an online-only publication now that focuses on issues and life in California specifically, so it doesn’t necessarily fit the bill of who might be going to the event. You know, the LA Times and CNN-type publications.

But then we got the credentials.

So I was up at 4:30 a.m. or so this morning, showering and preparing to head off to the Anaheim Convention Center. Doors opened for press to get their stuff checked at 7 a.m. after all.

Luckily I found that the drive was infinitely quicker than it usually is when I’m heading to Orange County for school. So I managed to make it over before they had even finished setting up a table to check press in. Left me with some time to kill.

Then once it was all together, I got this:

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Talk about a souvenir, am I right?

After everyone got their badges, they were ushered up to the third floor (where Obama and the others would later speak). We were supposed to leave our stuff up there to be checked out by the Secret Service.

At this point I met Joshua Nehmeh, who I spent a bunch of time talking with as all the major news outlets set up their stuff. He’s the host of a political talk radio show who I bonded with pretty quick because we were both caught off-guard by how easily we managed to get into such a high-end event.

Plus his show’s tagline is ‘A shot of truth with your coffee’ and it’s great. So check him out.

Around that time I also ran into Briggetta and Caitlin from the Daily Titan, who also got credentialed in for the local Orange County event, and my original news desk mentor Spencer Custodio coming in for the Voice of OC.

Got to hang out with him for a while after we all got kicked out, and that was cool.

When we were heading back to the Convention Center from Starbucks, there were two protestors standing out in front heckling a bunch of Congressional candidate volunteers who were waiting in line.

Spent a decent amount of time standing outside watching the back-and-forth, because it was so over-the-top that it was just kind of ridiculous and fun.

While I tweeted about these guys a bunch during the waiting period from my personal account, some of my favorite parts had to be these two sound clips I managed to snag:

Particularly the second one where he offered to be an executioner? Like. Holy shit dude. It was 9:30 a.m. and he was going so hard.

Most of what I had gathered from other reporters at this point suggested that Obama’s visit to Anaheim was very last minute. Almost nobody was prepared for it and even the staff at the event seemed disheveled and caught off-guard. Hell, one guy basically told me it was going to be a shitshow when I asked how the whole thing was going to go down.

I’m theorizing that perhaps one of the reasons for that unexpected nature in this event was to try and mitigate protests. Like yeah two guys managed to show up to yell at everyone about every cliché in the book, but there was clearly no big organized response to Obama’s visit.

That’s all speculation, however.

Eventually I had to leave that fun time so I could go back to the ballroom to get my stuff before the doors opened at 10 a.m.

Now, I’ll admit, I kind of underwent a covert operation at this point. We were told ahead of time that most of the press corp. would be put into overflow rooms across from the main room. In fact, when I had shown up early that morning, I was told I’d be in the overflow as well.

But when I went in to pick up my stuff… I just kind of didn’t leave. All I needed was my cell phone, since I was just live tweeting the event for Boom, so I was able to stand off to the side of the press box with my head down. Nobody ever came and told me to leave.

So I think I wound up sneaking my way into seeing Obama’s speech live.

Take that people who sneak into concerts.

Once everything began I shifted over to Boom’s Twitter account full-time. However, I didn’t have too much to do for a while.

Other than Eric Bauman, the chair of the California Democratic Party, I wasn’t really able to get a good grasp on the individuals who opened the event. Most of them didn’t introduce themselves in any specific detail because it seemed like they were just figures who Democrats would know well walking in. It was clear we were leaning toward a specific kind of audience at this rally.

To be fair, my friends at the Daily Titan had just as much trouble with this part, though they did a better job retroactively figuring out who the speakers were.

Mostly with the help of an email that came out like 10 minutes after everyone was finished telling us who they were.

Have I mentioned that the event seemed put together last-minute?

Anyway, after four-or-five speeches from people pushing for veterans and keeping the Affordable Care Act alive, there was a really long intermission.

Probably an hour’s worth of an intermission. I don’t know if we were just waiting for Obama to actually arrive, or if he was upstairs somewhere letting us marinate, but boy was it a long wait.

I was pretty much standing around the whole time, not really wanting to leave to go to the bathroom or anything because… Well… I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get back in.

But then. Like an angel. Obama descended upon our humble congregation.

Which I only say because the tweet I put out about Obama’s arrival was the biggest ‘lightning in a bottle’ from this whole event.

As of my writing this blog post, the tweet has been seen over 7,000 times, has 400+ likes and nearly 200 retweets.

That’s actually insane to me. Watching all of this attention roll in throughout and after the event made me sit there and realize that I did that.

Truly the power of social media can be insanely captivating, for as much as I tend to avoid it.

Everything else I tweeted out got very minor attention comparatively, but there were still some great things I feel I captured at the event.

I also got this great three-part Tweet chain describing Obama’s Disneyland story that he opened with. Basically, he told the audience that the first time he went to Disneyland was his first time in the mainland United States, while the second time he was kicked out for smoking with his friends.

But still told to “come back anytime” by the officers. Because Disney.

His whole speech only went on about 15 minutes after that multi-hour build-up. When it was over, everyone started to trickle out and I split. After all, my whole job was to live-tweet Obama.

Dr. Sexton seemed really pleased with what I did, and honestly so am I.

It’s a little awkward live-tweeting events because you wind up having to focus more on the tweeting than the event itself. But even with that, I have to say… Obama is just a fantastic speaker.

Like all politics aside, it’s hard not to see why (most of) America fell in love with the guy and kept him in office for two terms. He’s just a charismatic guy.

That’s kind of the tone I think I want to leave this off with, because the rest of my story would just be going home and passing out for four hours.

I’m super grateful that I got to do this. Like yeah on a basic level it’s a great resumé builder to say I covered Barack Obama live. I’ll even be updating my blog here to reflect that I did this, archiving a couple of the best-attended tweets.

But even deeper than that, it led to me having a bit of an existentially reflective moment.

When I got home it really hit me that I got to be in the same room as a President of the United States. With press credentials.

That’s just crazy to me.

I’ve had some moments of doubt over the last couple months about my place in the world and the work that I’m doing, to be completely honest. But my promotion at Gladeo and the opportunity to attend this event really turned that around.

I’m excited to see what the next big thing I’ll be doing is!

 

I’m Ready, Promotion

I’m Ready, Promotion

Before I kick this off can I just say how happy I am to be able to use a random Spongebob quote for my post headline? Because I’m almost giddier about that then the actual news itself.

Except not really because the news of the day is pretty awesome.

I kind of teased it out on one of my posts the other day, but wanted to wait until I had my official meeting today to outwardly speak on it in any significant capacity.

Now that I have, I’m pleased to announce that I am officially Gladeo’s Managing Editor, the head of the nonprofit’s reporter division.

Turns out giving a year+ of your life somewhere can open up some pretty sweet opportunities, and I’m really excited to grow out of my internship capacity into a full-time employee.

The move actually comes at a pretty great time, as I won’t be working for the Daily Titan at CSUF this semester. I get to focus all my extra time outside of class on this job!

Well, when I’m not working on my Senior Honors Project I suppose. But that’s a different story.

With my new position comes a number of responsibilities, including editing written pieces and uploading them to the Gladeo site, running the bi-weekly meetings us reporters have to keep track of who’s doing what assignment, helping to hire and train new reporters and more.

My first big assignment is actually generating and running a small database of interested interviewees to disseminate amongst the reporters, which is getting a major launch early next week. Though I figure it’s worth mentioning in case anyone who’s reading this knows a career professional who may be interested in getting interviewed about their work.

Just putting it out there.

Over the next couple of days I’ll be updating all my social medias to reflect my new position, so if you see a bunch of random messages here or there for things like that, don’t be too alarmed. My blog here will actually need a pretty significant update to reflect the role under my Gladeo page… I’ll get to it eventually.

Honestly that’s about all I wanted to say. I’m just excited about this new opportunity and eager to humble brag get my name out there more and help the nonprofit.

Hopefully all of you have a great weekend full of some positive news, because I’ll be passing these good vibes around wherever I can!

Two-for-One Deal on Gladeo Spotlights

You like reading?

I sure hope so, because today I’ve got two brand new published Spotlight interviews to check out. That’s right, the editing and publishing pipeline has finally caught up with me.

There isn’t a lot of build-up I can think to add to this other than a vague “keep on the lookout” message for some interesting developments coming soon. Next week when everything is confirmed I should have more to say.

But until then, feel free to enjoy these nice little interviews:

The first is featuring Raymundo Vizcarra, the band director at Redondo Union High School. Though my sister is one of his students, I never really had the opportunity to talk with Ray that often before going to chat for this piece.

He’s got a lot of solid advice in regards to balancing school and work, considering he’s working toward a master’s degree, as well as a rather heartfelt history concerning his family moving to the U.S., his father being absent for a number of years and how life led him down the path of music.

You can check that Spotlight out here.

The second features Ismael Villarreal, a design engineer for the aerospace manufacturer AdelWiggins Group.

I found Ismael after being asked to look for some individuals working in STEM careers, particularly engineers. My friend Jonathan’s dad works for AdelWiggins and was able to help get me connected to Ismael, a fairly young buck in the field that got a lucky break into aerospace.

We mostly discussed how the competitive business of aerospace manufacturing works and how his past experiences with education proved both beneficial and lacking in preparing him for the work he was going into.

With some advice on good practices for aspiring engineers who want to go into that field, of course.

You can check that Spotlight out here.

But of course, if you want to see my continually growing body of work, you can always head over to that listing over on the right!

It occurs to me that one day my entire blog could get a re-design and my mainstay “check this out on the right” message may become obsolete… But I think that’s a bridge I’ll cross when I get to it.

Not super relevant for this conversation, however. For now, like I said, just be on the lookout for some things coming up in the near future.

A Short Essay on Short Essays

A Short Essay on Short Essays

I don’t know why I insist on writing these posts after going to the gym lately, because really it’s just detrimental for my ability to imagine and write coherent posts.

Though perhaps not as much as the insufferable heat wave yesterday.

I’ll count my blessings where I can.

Speaking of that heat killing all of my motivation, it seems I’ve been fluctuating between work-focused and not at all work-focused quite a bit the past few days. After doing next to nothing yesterday, today I actually got my stuff together enough to be productive. Notably with a job application I’ve been working on that is, admittedly, a far-flung idea for me to feel completely justified talking about in-depth.

Doing that job application has gotten me thinking a little bit about one part of this app, and many others for that matter, that feels somewhat strange to me at the moment.

The personal essay.

I don’t typically put a lot of thought into the idea of writing essays. Growing up I put myself through the wringer of the Advanced Placement course pathway in high school, which included AP Language and AP Literature. We had to write a lot of essays in those classes to prepare us for the AP exams, so I was used to the idea.

Essays also continued to be synonymous with college courses. Every undergraduate-level class has some kind of writing requirement and all of my Communications courses are all about writing.

As a result, you would think essay requirements showing up in job applications would just come in stride.

Which, to be fair, they do for the most part. Whenever I’ve applied for the Daily Titan an essay has always been required, for example.

But for some reason the essay that was asked of me in this current job application stuck out as… The worst, most stand-out part of it.

It took me a little while to figure out exactly why. But I think the conclusion I’ve come to says something about me and the way I tend to approach work.

For me essays make a lot more sense in a job application when they ask for some kind of very specific information. Using the Daily Titan application as an example, the essay portion of that involves answering a couple of questions pertaining to the potential job.

What does the paper do well? What does it not do well? What can you bring to the job you’re applying for that would make it better?

Things like that.

Sure it’s arguably formulaic to go down this route, but the sense of direction those questions bring do make for a straight-forward task. Answering the questions, while utilizing them as conduits for inserting stories of one’s experience as a means of showcasing that individual’s abilities.

The application I’ve been working on doesn’t really have any sort of driving questions like this to give potential employees a sense of direction.

As far as premise goes, this application simply asks for an autobiographical essay to tell the hiring staff something that cannot be garnered from the surrounding questions in the application. Given the fact that it already asks for degree-earning information, references and work samples outside of the essay, that leaves a vague opening for what can be written.

That somewhat vague nature exacerbates a potential pitfall in writing the essay. Or at least it does in my head where I’m more than likely over thinking things, but that’s another story.

If you have an essay for a fairly serious job application essentially asking you to write about anything you want outside of your direct work experience, where is the line in terms of being too casual or not casual enough?

Obviously the whole thing can’t just be the tale of how you won X reward or accomplished Y task, but it’s also probably not great form to do something jokey or entirely non-serious since the serious aspects might be in one’s resume off the bat. Looking like you take the job not at all seriously while applying to it seems like a quick way to lose a potential job.

Now all of this is more of a theoretical thought experiment, as the pragmatic side of me has already sorted out the balance of serious-versus-personal qualities to write about. But seeing my personal preference lean so heavily in the direction of a structured, serious or even academic paper versus one that lets me express myself in an open, even goofy way is interesting. Introspective even.

Perhaps all those years of AP classes really did screw me up for the rest of my life, just like I joke about.

This seems like the perfect opportunity to ask an actually interesting question at the end of one of these blog posts. Where do you feel you stand on the spectrum I described here?

Do you prefer if a job (or anything for that matter) asks structured, serious questions of you? Or more open, vague questions?

Let me know somewhere on the internet, I’d love to hear it!

Just another Quiet Day in the Neighborhood

Yesterday I was late on delivery with my blog post because I was busy all afternoon with my friends. Today, while I’m not on the cusp of midnight like before, I’m also a little later than I want to be.

But not because I was completely distracted. More because I found it a little hard to get my energy going.

That’s not to say I haven’t done anything at all today. I actually did get some serious work done interviewing an aerospace design engineer for Gladeo and transcribing that interview. For once it wasn’t a two-hour ordeal of a discussion to write out. Only a half hour.

It was actually very reasonable and easy to go through in comparison.

Even if, like I said, I wasn’t very motivated to get through it too quickly. So it still took me some time to transcribe out.

But I did get through the whole thing by the end of the day. I just have to go through what I got and decide how to lay out my Spotlight. It’s probably only going to be a Spotlight too, as a design engineer is sort of ambiguous to fit under one branch of engineering specifically.

You could be a designer for mechanical engineering, or environmental engineering, so on and so forth.

I don’t know exactly what category this interview might fit under, but that’s also not really for me to decide. I’m just the reporter, yo.

Doing that interview was about the only significant thing I did today, outside of helping clean the house where I could and playing some Enter the Gungeon on my Switch.

Another excellent Switch roguelike game, I might add.

Hopefully I’ll have more to discuss tomorrow, but for now I think I can essentially just leave this where it is.

The only other major thought I can think to expand upon right now is more of a simple housekeeping point. I think it’s about time I go through all of my social media and update it.

See I have a somewhat bad habit of just letting my Internet life exist in the void. Obviously my Twitter and Facebook are just megaphones for my blog posts here 90 percent of the time. Out of design mostly, as I prefer to let my thoughts fill a larger space than social media tends to allow.

As a result of that I don’t often go through and change my personal information. My Twitter Page still says I’m a news editor for the Daily Titan, for example, when I haven’t technically been in that position for close to a year.

Whoops.

Same problem on my Facebook page, where a lot of my interests listed are still things that haven’t been touched since like… Senior year. Of high school.

But probably the most egregious offense comes in my much more newly assembled LinkedIn page. That’s really the one that’s tripping me up right now because it’s the place people connect with me for more work-related endeavors — and it currently suffers the same problem as my Twitter page.

So over the next few days I think I’m going to go through and make them all perfect.

Then I’m going to do my best to update them more regularly. Because even if I don’t care about them THAT much, it’s important to remember that those are my forward-facing impressions to the world of 2018 more often than not.

Work. Social media. Fun, fun stuff, isn’t it?

This Gladeo Spotlight is Magic

This Gladeo Spotlight is Magic

Some of you are probably thinking this headline here is just a symptom of me being full of myself.

But it’s not.

It’s actually a sort of pun on the fact that the person I interviewed is named Magic.

Is it worse to abuse the obvious pun than it is to be full of myself? I suppose that’s the kind of semantic detail you as the audience should decide. I won’t dwell on it too long because I have a point to get to.

That point being my Gladeo piece on audio engineers is live right now! I just found out about it this morning during our bi-weekly meeting and got right on putting this together. As soon as I finished helping paint the girl’s room. But you can just look at yesterday’s post if you want more details on that.

My conversation with Magic was probably one of the coolest interviews I’ve had the opportunity to conduct. He’s a great guy with a storied history and plenty of things to say about finding work you enjoy doing that really spoke to me at a personal level even more than just my professional judgement of what makes good quotes. I spent plenty of time going into that when I first did the interview a few weeks back.

Unlike a daily news cycle, these kinds of longer-form database profiles and such don’t have a super quick turnaround, so I’ve been waiting to see everything get through the editing process for a while. In the meantime I’ve been working on some other pieces, but this is the one I’ve been really excited about.

I updated my Gladeo work listing in that tab over on the right, but if you want you can jump through this link here to check out the overall profile on being an Audio Engineer I put together. Through there is another point of access to the Spotlight I wrote about Magic specifically.

When I first started to work on this piece I mentioned an interest in posting the full interview transcript. After all, he said so much wonderful stuff that it was difficult to have o distill it down for proper publication. So I figured hey, I’ve got a personal blog. Why not put the full text here?

If you’re interested in reading the full (somewhat) unabridged hour-long talk I had with Magic, go ahead and click the read more button / scroll down. But if you’re not, I’d still appreciate it if you could check out the published piece over on the Gladeo website.

Thanks a billion everyone, looking forward to getting more out there soon!

Continue reading “This Gladeo Spotlight is Magic”

Figuring out the Facebooks

Figuring out the Facebooks

It’s not very often that I can get meta about the inner workings of this blog I’ve got regarding subjects beyond the simple milestones like post numbers or followers. But today I wanted to do just that because of a somewhat more interesting development affecting the blog completely beyond my control.

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 1.16.18 PM

According to information put out by WordPress, the service, Facebook is restricting the ability of third-party tools to automatically publish material on people’s profile pages.

If I were to read between the obvious lines, this change is more than likely a push to fix some of the concerns regarding the social media site’s use by Russian hackers to messing with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Because whether or not you believe President Trump on the argument that Russia was not meddling at all, or they weren’t meddling on his behalf, or whatever the current story is, clearly some shady stuff was going down.

In fact, some shady stuff is still apparently going down. So it isn’t a concern we’re likely to see go away anytime soon.

Facebook has been trying to, at the very least, put its best face forward (pun only somewhat intended) about aiming to regain the trust of the service’s users. Anyone who spends nearly as much time on YouTube as I do, for example, will probably recognize this ad that suddenly started showing up before just about every video in existence a few weeks back:

The cynic in me rolls his eyes pretty hard seeing this ad, as it’s more than likely Facebook cares more about keeping itself alive as a juggernaut business than it does making sure every Joe Schmo out there can still talk with their friends and family like ‘the good old days.’

But there’s also something to be said about the fact that they’re trying to do something rather than just letting everything burn to the ground while pretending that nothing happened.

Even if that something just amounts to customer-facing BS.

I think that’s about as political as I’m willing to get on the subject right now, however. I haven’t done any of my own significant research or reporting and as a result can’t give you all a definitive ‘Facebook is doing it wrong/right’ verdict.

All I can really say is that based on stuff like the reporting out of Vox I linked to up above and the fact that Facebook is changing its third-party integration (the thing this post was supposed to be about, what a circle!), at least there seems to be an effort to improve. Something I’m hopeful isn’t just BS, as I previously mentioned.

Unfortunately that effort to improve does make my personal life a little more difficult.

See the non-political part of this post is here to address the fact that changing integration also changes the way I need to handle my social media with regards to WordPress stuff.

As must be obvious to most people out there, my social media accounts right now are primarily means of creating a wider viewership for my blog posts. Sure I still go through and post independent things on Facebook and Twitter on occasion, but for the most part I actually much prefer the freedom of being able to write as much as I desire here and spreading that to the world instead of dealing with some restriction like 280 characters.

Now that my WordPress posts will no longer automatically publish to Facebook, I’ve arrived at something of a crossroads.

Is it worth going about the extra step of posting my blog activity to Facebook directly?

Or should I just abandon that social media branch entirely?

The obvious choice for my lazy self is the latter. However, even if I don’t think too much of it in my head, there are some benefits to getting my words out on Facebook specifically.

Those benefits more or less boil down to the posts being seen by people who do, at least occasionally, pay attention that wouldn’t be able to continue doing so via Twitter. Family is the big chunk of that demographic, as I’ll see people like my grandparents liking posts out of the blue on occasion. But there’s also some high school friends I’ve got that occasionally like or comment on my posts. Which is pretty cool, to be completely honest. I like knowing that I’ve caught someone’s fancy with something I might not have expected to.

So with that said, I suppose I should thank you all for making it this far into what is ultimately a non-discussion. I pretty much knew from the get-go that my decision would ultimately be to figure out the best way to separately post these up on Facebook.

I just figured it would be a more interesting post if I went into some of the mindset I had leading up to the decision. After breaking away from writing to hit the gym for an hour, I figure I’ve hit a place in the writing and in my energy level to end it here.

Though that said, I suppose this is going to be my first post separately uploaded to Facebook. Because of that please stand by if it takes some time for me to figure out exactly how I want that to work.

Receiving the Carl Greenberg Scholarship

At first, I figured today was going to be a day where I would talk all about the trailer that was dropped about the upcoming Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee games.

But something much more important came up after I started writing that which feels like a better conversation topic for the day. So sorry Pokémon, you’ve been sidelined.

Today I received word from the Scholarship Chair of the Society of Professional Journalist’s Los Angeles branch that I have been awarded the Carl Greenberg Scholarship for Political and Investigative Reporting.

Frankly, that’s pretty kick-ass and I’m excited about it!

According to the SPJLA website, the scholarship is “awarded to a college student pursuing investigative or political reporting,” named after a LA Times political reporter “famed for being singled out by Richard Nixon as the only reporter who covered him ‘fairly.'”

So not only am I excited about the fact that I won something I applied for kind of out of the blue — mostly as something to do early on in the summer when I was sitting around — but I’m also humbled at the fact that I’ve been recognized to sit in a pantheon which sounds so prestigious. Helps give some perspective to the work I’ve had the pleasure of doing, and all those other clichés that must be expected from an awards acceptance speech of sorts.

Though to be completely honest, the $1,000 that comes with it certainly helps pique my interest.

What can I say, prestige is nice and all, but so is food and gas when you’re a broke college student.

As are plenty of new video games coming soon, but don’t tell the nominating committee that.

In celebration of my award, I figured I would throw out this short post as both a way of logging the fact that I earned this recognition and as a way of slyly promoting myself.

You’ve all seen those articles out of major newspapers that showcase stories which received accolades. Hell, I even wrote an article in that vein for the Daily Titan at the end of the Spring 2018 semester.

So consider the bottom of this blog post one of those for me. I submitted three articles alongside my scholarship application, and I’m going to link out to each of them here.

Before I do, I just wanted to thank the SPJLA Scholarship Chair Richard Saxton, who helped let me know what I needed to do to apply, and all the other members of the Scholarship Committee for this awesome opportunity. Here’s to many more hopefully coming in the near future!


This article has arguably been one of my proudest achievements as a journalist thus far. That could be said for most of the stories in this small list alone, sure, but there’s so much history to my coverage of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to CSUF that I consider it a saga.

Kicking the whole thing off was an article that was weeks in the making. It began as simple rumors that supposedly there were plans in the work to bring the conservative provocateur to campus based on a petition online to keep controversial figures off campus. Based on that rumor I talked to a myriad of sources and eventually put out this fairly large piece covering the entire process of how one can bring a speaker to campus in light of the confirmation that Yiannopoulos’ visit was in the works.

And that isn’t even going into all of the coverage of the Canin scandal from the semester prior that helped build my relations with the College Republicans Club enough to help them trust my reporting.

Even during that initial coverage I knew the plan was to bring the man to campus on Halloween. At the point this initial piece was published, however, I kept that to myself in case the reporting of that information changed the plans at hand in any significant way.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Our semester was thus far filled with coverage of Yiannopoulos’ visit from any conceivable angle from myself and other members of the news desk staff. Eventually that culminated in a massive three-story package of a paper that went on to receive a special edition reprint, got me a talking head spot on NPR’s ‘Take Two’ and earned a number of accolades at the most recent LA Press Club Awards.

Plus Milo himself said on Facebook that he liked how balanced I was with the story on his speech. Never would have expected that, but it’s something I’ll take on as a badge of pride considering I didn’t get that praise while also upsetting the other side of the aisle.

I could talk about this article all day, but then we’d be here all day. Nobody really wants that.

So check it out if you haven’t, and see all of the reporting that emerged as a result while you’re at it.

My coverage of Project Rebound goes back a ways. Multiple semesters, in fact, unlike the one-semester shots of the other articles on this list.

I was the person who covered the story when the program, which helps offer previously incarcerated individuals an opportunity to earn their degrees and avoid recidivism, first came to campus. At that point I made friends with the program’s director, Brady Heiner, and its brand new coordinator, Romarilyn Ralston.

At least once a semester I try to go back and see the Project Rebound folks because, despite obviously being objective in my reporting, I do feel the cause is an important and righteous one.

The story I used for this scholarship application is my most recent piece about the program: A profile of its coordinator, Romarilyn.

It started as an assignment for my Multimedia Journalism class, and the actual meat of where it originated comes in the form of the video I produced alongside the written article. It’s embedded within the story if you haven’t seen it, and it’s probably my most proud achievement in a multimedia realm.

Though that being said, her story is also incredibly powerful, and certainly one of those stepping-stones that I would argue got me more invested in the idea that Features are a powerful tool for telling other people’s stories more than they are extra avenues of reporting.

Another piece stemming from my work with the Daily Titan’s advisor as a part of her Investigative Reporting class, the homeless coverage I was a part of is another ‘saga’ in my reporting experience thus far that I remember fondly.

Certain specific events, like our coverage of the Point-In-Time count toward the beginning of that semester, are things I’ll never forget.

However, the coverage of Mercy House I did alongside Roxana Paul is another thing I’ll always hold dear. It fits into a similar vein as the Romarilyn story I talked about above, as it gave a hard news-focused kid the opportunity to do slightly more Features-based coverage by actually going out and talking with some of the homeless population in Orange County.

Yet it was also a story steeped in hard news, covering the numbers with how much help is available in the County and talking to the people who provide the aid on the ground.

There are plenty of other elements I could dive into regarding this story. It was one of the first time I took pictures for my own article, it had graphics and other multimedia elements, it was part of a wonderful series put together by a group of really talented reporters. On top of that, it helped me out further last semester when I assisted with the coverage of Santa Ana clearing out whatever homeless population was living along the riverbed.

It’s another story I would consider one of my most in-depth and powerful. So read it if you haven’t, and check out the other Homeless in OC coverage the Titan did as well!

The Magic of Storytelling

The Magic of Storytelling

The longer I spend time doing work for Gladeo, the more I find myself loving the idea of writing features as much as hard news.

Mostly that comes out of a deep interest in the people and telling their stories, something that comes inherent to all aspects of news writing but takes an especially poignant angle for profiles. After all, a profile is taking the opportunity to tell someone’s story with the sole focus of telling it.

For some reason I always figured I was never very good at features writing just because I’ve always written hard news. But once I got it in my head that it’s all about telling someone’s story, I’ve found myself getting more confident in the idea of writing them.

As I said, Gladeo has helped. Even if it takes more of a Q&A approach to the idea, everything still ties back to finding interesting people and learning the interesting things they have to say.

Tonight, that hunt for interesting people brought me to Magic Moreno. His full pedigree is far too lengthy for me to possibly ever be able to grasp in just a few fleeting words, so I’ll let his website do most of the talking there, but in essence he was a child star musician at six years old and eventually became a music producer/performer with multiple gold and platinum records under his belt and a rolodex featuring such names as Aretha Franklin and Freddie Mercury.

Needless to say, a fascinating guy to get an hour-and-a-half with.


Editor’s Note:

Quick shout out to Aly for making friends with Magic’s son through band at RUHS. I knew you’d come in handy one of these days!


What wound up being even more fascinating about Magic than his accolades (though those alone are a great chat) was his spirituality, his philosophical outlook on the world and how both of those tie in so deeply with his career and how he looks at giving back through other branches of his work like teaching.

I’m only about an hour or so out from actually talking with Magic as of writing this post, So I’ll need a little more time to debrief, and transcribe out what I got to truly have any insights that stood out as especially bright gems.

If anything, I’m considering publishing the entire transcript here once it’s all out together and my Gladeo piece is out there. Because his words deserve an uncut treatment.

Seriously, this interview wasn’t only cool because I got a brief glimpse into a star-studded life, or even just because of the 10 minutes or so we spent listening to a song he just finished producing.

Though that was amazing in itself, seeing him able to distill out one of the 100+ audio tracks comprising the song just to explain how it was an exotic instrument out of Uganda and showcase the way it seamlessly blended into this copacetic composition up until you specifically know to listen for it.

Particularly interesting for me having dabbled slightly into similar audio mixing for broadcast classes, but there’s a vast difference between the three audio tracks there versus the 100+ for a song.

But overall, the stuff that stood out most to me were his philosophical approaches to the ideas of why we do the things we love, the drive we have for that.

I actually felt a pretty deep connection with what he was saying while thinking about the work that I’ve done in the past. After a week that felt like a spiritual lull for me, it was honestly a wonderful thing.

Like I said, it’ll probably be a while before I get to throw everything out into the world, but look forward to it.

I’m certainly looking forward to adding his name onto the list of people I’ve had the pleasure of telling their stories.