Sort of a short, later upload today since I’ve had a bit of a busy morning with tests and interviews for future articles, so my apologies for that.
Not that I’m sure anyone out there is complaining about shorter posts. God knows I’m generally too wordy as is.
Last night I wrote a deadline piece of breaking news regarding a student who received some minor chemical burns while his class group was conducting an experiment in one of the outdoor labs of the Engineering building.
The story was brought to our attention by our advisor Bonnie, who had apparently sent us a link to other small coverage of the story over the weekend. An email which I missed because I was distracted with birthday stuff. (Sorry Bonnie!)
Once she let us know something had happened, at around 3 to 4 p.m. or so, it became a rush to try to pull anything together for our publication that night.
Initially it wasn’t such an easy process. Because of the President’s Day break, a number of the sources I reached out to weren’t available to talk. I seriously called at least 8 different places, including the CSUF chemistry department, the Fullerton Fire Department and the hospital that the student was apparently brought to for further examination.
To be fair, the hospital was available, but I wasn’t able to get a comment without knowing the student’s last name. And I wasn’t able to find that out because our University Police representative and the school’s Chief Communications Officer weren’t getting back to me.
Eventually the CCO Jeff Cook did get back to me over email and provided a little bit of information, and Scot Willey from the University Police Department was available later that night. Got a nice 10 minute interview with him at about 6:00 p.m., transcribed it and wrote a full story by 7:30 p.m. or so. Easy peasy.
It’s a brief story, about 350 words or so, and included basically all the information I could pull from my talk with Willey. It wound up being a pretty interesting little piece with potential for follow-ups, which I’m quite proud of considering it was originally going to be 100 words of copy+paste material if nobody was able to talk.
If you want to see the article in its entirety, you can read it here. You can also check out my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
For those of you who are somehow unaware, a total solar eclipse is happening in North America today, which NASA says will leave 14 states in the U.S. totally dark for two minutes in the middle of the day. Unfortunately California is not one of those totally dark states. We do get a partial eclipse at least, so with special glasses I’ve been able to see the sun look like a crescent moon.
Which by itself is pretty awesome to think about really.
However, I’m certainly not the expert in the subject, so for all of your cool space stuff needs I’d say go check out NASA’s website directly. They’ve got a bunch of cool information and photo galleries, so it’s definitely worth a look.
In the meantime, this cool astro-phenomenon happens to come on the same day as the first day of the Fall 2017 semester. Summer is officially over and classes are beginning, but nothing suggests that better than the 2:00 a.m. Daily Titan deadline we went through last night/this morning.
Yeah… Hell of a way to start off the semester. Good thing I have a fairly late starting class on Mondays this time around.
The reason we went so late more or less boils down to the special insert we had. On top of an 8 page normal paper we also put together a 20 page extra “welcome back” guide. That was the real time suck, adding in enough stories to fill an extra 20 pages when we only have enough staff available for the minimum amount of work. I feel especially bad for our two copy editors who had to read and re-read half a billion stories on their own.
Luckily this is a weeklong issue, so we only had to put up with it for one day this week. Now we’re free to deal with new classes and getting accustomed to a scheduled life again.
That said, even though I’m pretty exhausted as I get ready to make my way to school again for day 1, this issue was nice in that I actually wrote two articles for it.
First, I wrote an article about CSUF President Mildred Garcia’s annual Convocation Address. It’s sort of like a State of the Union-type deal where she’ll update the campus community on what’s been happening over the last year and what’s going to happen going forward into the next.
Though the content of the event sometimes tends to lean more toward fluff and school propaganda, in my opinion, there was definitely some newsworthy stuff in it. This year marks Cal State Fullerton’s 60th Anniversary, so there was a lot of talk about celebrating that and bringing in ex-Titans from when the school was brand new.
She also mentioned that she will be announcing a new overarching strategic plan for the University at next year’s Convocation Address, as they need to spend the rest of this year… Actually coming up with it. The fact that part of this speech was used to announce that an announcement will be happening in 2018 was certainly strange as a concept, but the current five-year strategic plan has affected the school quite a bit, so just knowing that they’ll be working on a new one is pretty newsworthy in itself.
If you want to check out that story in its entirety, you can see it here. There’s something about it that I’m actually going to be investigating for our next week-long issue, so stay tuned for some of that.
The second story I published for this issue, and quite frankly the one I care about more personally, relates back to Project Rebound.
They’ve still got that first article pinned up on the wall of their office, in fact.
While I meant to go back and talk with them more last semester, Eric Canin kind of wound up being a bit too much of an overwhelming force in my life and I didn’t have the chance. This semester, however, I was made aware of an orientation-esque event being held for new and returning Rebound scholars on campus, so I went and covered it.
I got some great quotes from the event of course, but I also got plenty of fodder to take back to our Features editor for some potential profiles. Just about everyone in that group has a really inspiring story honestly, so I’m definitely going to have to work on getting him in touch with Romarilyn to try and do something to get those stories out there.
The event was also quite nice in that it was probably the only event I’ve covered where I wasn’t necessarily a “fly on the wall” as much as usual. After that first article went live I apparently made a good enough word for myself that Romarilyn and Brady introduced me to the group a number of times while I was there and even encouraged them to talk with me. While I didn’t wind up getting a lot of them to for this article in particular, the sentiment was quite nice by itself.
If you want to check out the Rebound story in its entirety, you can see it here. It’s super long, since I honestly just banged it out real fast and knew we needed extra content to fill the welcome back guide, but I’d say it’s worth the read.
You can also see all of my work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
Alright, gather around ladies and gents, it’s time for another edition of everyone’s favorite story, ‘Jason writes a story that’s far too long out of nowhere to save the news page from falling apart.’
Are you saying that’s not your favorite story? Well then, luckily for you obviously small sub-section of dissenters out there I don’t have a hell of a lot of time to write this out. It’s more of a quick update if anything, since I have a banquet for the University Honors Program to attend tonight. There might even be a bonus post on that later, we’ll have to see.
To make a long story short, production yesterday was a bit of a mess. All of our stories were on deadline, so it was stressful just waiting for things to come in. One of the stories was one I was working on about the Lobby Day event being put on by the California Faculty Association, in which a bunch of teachers and students from all 23 CSU campuses went to Sacramento to spend the day with our legislators in the Assembly and the Senate talking about whatever they felt was important.
Obviously a lot of the talking points revolved around the recent tuition increase, since a stipulation holds that if the CSU system gets fully funded by the legislature soon there won’t be a need to have it at all. And equally obviously, I’d hope, was the fact that we weren’t going to be able to actually send someone to Sacramento to cover the story since it’s on the other end of the state, so all our coverage had to be through the voices of people who were there.
It took just about all day, but I managed to get a hold of the communications director for the CFA who helped me end my game of phone-tag with the CFA’s Fullerton representative Michele Barr.
Though we’d been trying to get in touch with somebody for a couple of days, it wasn’t until the last minute that we pulled these sources together. Between that and some documentation from CFA press releases and Assembly Bills, what was planned to be a small 200 word evolved into an out-of-nowhere 800 word piece that filled in space for a lot of the smaller content we were trying to fit on two pages.
Honestly, I’m pretty proud I was able to get it out there, because I feel like it’s a really solid story for the time constraints I had to write it on. Plus, we didn’t even have to stay all that late for deadline night last night, which felt like a really sweet bonus.
Next week we’ll have to see if it’s a different story, since there’s a lot of big enterprise-level pieces we’re going to be publishing on multiple days. There will also be a couple of Canin updates (including one that yours truly has been working on most of the day), so it should be a really exciting week to pick up the Daily Titan.
If you want to see the article in its entirety, you can check it out here. If you want to see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan, you can look over at the list on the right!
Between late nights in the newsroom, last minute midterms and assignments before Spring Break comes and other draws on my time, it has been a hectic and busy week for me.
Seriously, Spring Break starts after my last class ends tomorrow and it really cannot come fast enough.
While I’m sure I’ll have plenty more time to write about more fun personal subjects and video game-related things once my week off begins, for now I’ll just have to stack on more work posts. Seriously, looking at my blog over the last few weeks has been a little strange, since it has just been article publishing posts for some time now. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different feeling productive sometimes.
Anyway, today’s article is all about the Fullerton City Council meeting that happened last night. Exciting stuff, I know, but a newsman’s job is to be a watchdog for government agencies in at least some capacity, so it’s never a bad thing to throw my hat into that ring once in a while.
At the same time, the part of the meeting I covered also relates to my Investigative Reporting class, where we’ve been investigating homelessness in Orange County (a subject for which stories showing the fruits of our labor should be showing up in print a little bit after Spring Break ends, at this rate). My partner and I have been looking into the nonprofit Mercy House, and the new shelter they’re building was one of the focal points of the meeting.
Orange County Community Services Director Dylan Wright gave a presentation at the beginning of the meeting to update the council on the progress of the Kraemer Year-Round Emergency Shelter & Multi-Service Center, which began construction in 2016 and is set to open phase one of its operations in April.
Phase one will be a scaled down version of what the shelter is planning to house, with 100 beds rather than 200 and only partially available services, but the earlier opening date will help to get some of the homeless population in Fullerton off the streets – provided they can get a reservation, that is. Phase two is planned to open in the summer of 2018.
Because we had some other big stories coming through the pipeline yesterday, such as day one of the California State University Board of Trustees meeting, neither I nor Sarah (who was covering the meeting alongside me) were able to go to City Council personally. Luckily they live stream the whole thing, and though we missed the action of being right there during angry public comments, we got more than enough to write.
Plus, our photo editor was able to go, so we were able to run plenty of pictures. She’s seriously the best.
Now, here’s hoping our deadline tonight doesn’t go super late, because I’m just about ready to check out for a couple days and catch up on some sleep.
If you want to read the article in its entirety, you can check it out here. For Sarah’s coverage of the rest of the meeting, where issues related to parking were addressed, you can look here. It’s pretty worth a read as well.
You can also feel the full archive of my work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
If you saw my last post about the article I had published today, you’ll know that the fall 2016 semester has started for me, the first semester that I’m serving as one of the editors for the News page for Cal State Fullerton’s Daily Titan newspaper.
Toward the end of the summer there was a little bit of stress building up at the thought of having new responsibilities on the paper, ones that would make me accountable for not only large amounts of content needing to be created, but also for the grades of students taking Comm 471 (The Daily Titan staff writing capstone class for Communications majors) and, more importantly, for making sure the issues present on campus get addressed.
I probably won’t be writing a long post about every issue we publish considering there’s going to be four issues a week starting in a couple of weeks, but the first deadline night we had was pretty special, so I figured I would ramble a bit and talk about the struggles of putting together a college paper.
This particular issue was special in that it was a week-long issue, so we only had our Sunday production and not our usual Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday productions. Just because we have a lower workload as a while this week doesn’t mean the deadline was easy, however.
We finished production on this issue at 2 A.M. this morning, the morning of our first day of class for the semester. The night ran that late – early? – despite the fact that a few of us on the editorial board arrived three hours early to get work done on the paper. If that doesn’t tell you about what kind of issue it was, I don’t know what else will.
While the work was long and tough, the end result is always sweet to see in print. Especially when I have friends living on campus who will message me about my name and work being on the front page before I even get up to get ready for school.
Now, there were a few overarching problems plaguing our deadline night from the offset that I would argue were the main contributors to the 14-15 hour runtime. For one thing, we got a little screwed over as far as advertisement space goes. Normally we get quite a few ads from the Ads department to fill up room on the admittedly large print space for the paper, but we got nearly nothing for this issue. As a result, it took far longer to figure out how to stretch our content into the space we had, a burden mainly on the Layout desk that clearly seemed to take it’s toll.
We also had a fairly sizable group of “new recruits” that had to learn the ropes of being on the paper, as actually working on the paper is a much different experience than talking about it through orientation. Finally, there were some technological updates done prior to the semester starting that caused problems with printing pages and opening things on certain computers in the newsroom, extending the wait time for finally sending the final paper to be printed by quite a bit.
While there were overarching problems affecting the paper as a whole, there were also some issues specific to stories in my own section. First and foremost, the stabbing story that fills the top banner on the front page. Out of all the exciting ways to start off the semester, two students getting stabbed the morning of the deadline is certainly pretty high up there. We obviously had to do some last minute coverage on what happened, and even with two reporters working on the story it wasn’t able to be completed until later on in the night thanks to some difficulty with sources and Fraternity politics.
Megan Maxey’s story on the Poverty Simulation for Nursing Students suffered a similar last minute deadline story fate, and my own story about the TSU and Western State College was very, very long, requiring some last minute word cuts even with the extra space we had from a lack of advertisements. You also may have noticed that I wrote all three of the briefs on the inside edge of page 2, a symptom of a lack of people available to work. They’re not necessarily hard – just 100 words on a story we’ve found online – but still.
The last big challenge of the stories in the issue was the story Jillian Salas wrote about CSUF President Mildred Garcia’s Convocation Address. While her work was perfectly fine in its own right, I personally screwed up the coverage a little by forgetting to send a photographer to cover the event. Without our own photos, we were stuck either having to use courtesy photos (something we don’t use on the front page) or creating a graphic to address the four points of CSUF’s Strategic Plan – a major talking point in the President’s speech. Obviously we went with the former, but even then trying to fit it onto the page was a bit awkward and we needed a very large photo caption to help fill the space.
Finally, we came to the problem of story headlines. Now inherently, headlines aren’t such a terrible thing. They’re quick and meant to describe the content of the story it accompanies in some capacity. The problem comes when there isn’t a lot of room to write a headline in, making it harder to find the right words to use. That’s not all either, for stories on the front page that bleed into another page – such as Garcia’s speech and my buildings update – you need to make two headlines that have to be totally different in content. Add to that a third “deck” subheading that also has to be different than the other two and you wind up struggling to come up with a variety of things to say.
This issue also included a special insert, our New Student Orientation (NSO) guide.
Why the guide wasn’t passed out during the actual NSO over the summer that we created it for is beyond me, but here it is included along with our first major production for the semester.
While the creation of the guide is admittedly more of a way to sell a lot of ads to kick off the semester, it does have a few articles written by members of the Daily Titan Editorial Board. More fluff stories than hard news, but technically it was meant to come out well before the semester started, so there was understandably not all that much to cover.
A bit of pride I personally draw from the NSO guide comes from this page, which depicts a map of the places you can park on campus and a few advertisements.
Typically we have our Layout editor and his assistants put our page’s structures together, but for the NSO guide the ads department did most of the initial work. This page, however, was incredibly awkward in how it was first constructed. There was very little room for the map, and the way our illustrator made the image itself didn’t lend itself to the space we had. So, while our Layout editor was off doing other things, it was up to someone else to help try and put the page design together.
That someone, if the build-up didn’t make it obvious, was me. I was able to show off the skills I accumulated through my editorial years on RUHS’s High Tide newspaper by editing the page design so everything could work, and I greatly impressed the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor as a result. All and all not a bad thing to do.
If nothing else, probably the best thing I can say about our deadline night last night was that it was a wonderful bonding period. Now matter how frustrating and drawn out the work tended to become, at least I was suffering with friends who were all going through the same thing. On top of that, things like lunch/dinner and the inevitable delirium that snuck in once the witching hour came around made for wonderful chances to get to know the people I’m working with better, especially those who are going to be helping out at my desk. Even though CSUF is a commuter campus, lots of people still like to give me skeptical or disappointed looks when I mention that I’ve been a commuter since day one, having not decided to try the on-campus dorm experience for my undergraduate life. It’s mostly a monetary concern that led to the decision in the end, but most people cite the lack of connection to other people at school as reason why it was a poor choice. While I can understand the concern, I’d argue that my early and ongoing level of involvement in school institutions like the Daily Titan really offset them in a big, bad way. I am involved and making friends, and I probably spend more time on campus than a lot of other people who don’t live there – so who cares if I decide to save a little extra money in the meantime? Besides, having some extra quiet drive time is nice if you ask me.
However, there is one final thing of note about this particular production that I think is pretty amazing:
This semester’s run of the Daily Titan is the 100th volume. The paper has been around for 50 years and runs two volumes for the fall and spring semesters, thus we’ve reached 100 volumes. It’s a heck of a milestone for the paper as a whole, for sure… But what stands out about it most for me is that I get to be a part of the hundredth volume. My (admittedly very long) buildings update story is part of the front page for the first issue of this special milestone.
And that’s pretty amazing to me.
As another slightly unrelated note, one thing I learned from being at the CSUF campus late is that all the Team Instinct players like to take command of the gyms in Pokémon GO when they know nobody will be awake to overturn their rule.
Plus, it’s a really good place to find some real life Pokémon at 2:30 in the morning. Just saying.