I don’t exactly have a lot of filler to throw in before this post gets going because I frankly don’t exactly have a lot to say about the story itself.
So I’m just going to get right into the thick of things.
My article published in the Daily Titan today was a quick and easy piece regarding the student government elections going on at Cal State Fullerton this week.
Probably the most interesting thing about the build-up to my writing this one was the fact that it wound up being one of the quickest stories I’ve ever written. At about 10 p.m. last night, my editor shot me a message over slack asking if I could write something about the president and vice president candidates running in the ASI elections this semester.
But luckily all we were really looking for was a summary of the candidates based on the information they included in the Official Voter Guide. Sort of a quick and easy translation job, if anything.
By the time 12:30 a.m. hit yesterday morning, I’d already turned in the piece. It actually only took me about a half hour or so to write the thing, but I was also spending some time with family and struggled with some computer issues trying to upload a video… You know, usual stuff.
The video was actually important because I did end up using quotes from the Inter-Club Council meeting I attended to give the story more flavor without me having to directly copy the candidates’ jargon in my own words. Wound up having to just show people the video off of my hard drive the next day because I couldn’t get it onto gmail without hours of upload time (even for a 12 minute video!), but it all worked out in the end.
Even if the piece was one of the easier 500 word stories I’ve ever pulled together, it was an interesting exercise in a way. I tried to make sure each pair of candidates had equal time to one another in print, but doing so presented a separate challenge of trying not to make every line sound too repetitive with the last segment.
I think what I turned out sounds pretty good, with that consideration.
If you want to judge that for yourself, you can see the story here. You can also read my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
Normally I’d end things off there, but while I’ve got you all under my spell I just wanted to take a minute to promote work that isn’t my own.
While it’s great that I got a story in print today (especially for the cache of points I still need to complete for Comm 471), the big news of the day was undoubtedly what my editors Amy Wells and Brandon Pho pulled together on their continual investigation into the dismissal of former Pollak Library Dean Clement Guthro.
I personally cannot work on this story because I had personal ties with Clem (after all, you can’t avoid conflict of interest when you worked directly under the guy for a while), but frankly I wish I could.
So far this story is really feeling like the Canin striking/Milo visit of this semester. It’s big, heavy news with a lot of underlying political intrigue that they’re starting to dig up. Seriously, one of the interviews they did yesterday had such a hard-hitting question that the source was silent on recording for 15-20 seconds. It was nuts.
Sure I had to basically lay out all of the news desk pages again while they were busy running around getting this together… But I volunteered to do so because I knew how hard they were working on the thing.
While my conflict makes me unfortunately ineligible to help them out more than I have with providing sources and transcribing interviews, it also makes me all the more appreciative of the job they’re doing. Clem was a nice guy when I worked with him, and the more I find out about what happened with him the more I really get to feel the impact of local journalism at a personal level.
Plus, the stories are just really well written in their own rights! So if you want to read a nice piece of journalism today, check out their article here. It deserves way more views than my candidate round-up, it’s worth a read and it’s honestly worth following their work on it from here on out.
But that’s enough brown-nosing for one afternoon, it’s about time I ran off to class.
Here we are at last. This is the story that quite literally ran me ragged last week.
To get to why it was such an exhaustive one however, we should probably start from the beginning. So settle in for some storytelling.
The point of origin for this article came while I was at the Associated Collegiate Media convention (about two weeks ago now? Geez, time sure does fly…) and got a text from my honors program friend Mimi. She told me that during a meeting between campus sports clubs, everyone aired a ton of grievances against the Athletics Department about issues like field access for their games and practices.
As much as I was just chatting with her about it casually, my mind was working overtime thinking about the fact that angry students meant a great story opportunity. To be fair, I do think that was the point of her telling me, so I don’t feel that bad about work taking over from there.
To start investigating the issue, I set up an interview with the sports clubs coordinator Lydia Ayala. We talked for about an hour, and all was fine and good… But then she dropped a bombshell on me.
She let me know that she was planning on resigning because she hadn’t been able to make much of an impact on the kinds of issues we were talking about.
After talking with the Advisor, the Editor in Chief and Walt Baranger – our resident ex-Daily Titan and ex-New York Times expert – we kind of decided that we should try to put something out before Friday to preempt her announcement.
Now, for context, we came to that decision at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. To preempt her announcement, we would have to go to print (online) by the end of the day Thursday, since the Inter-Club Council meeting where she was going to make her announcement was at 1 p.m. Friday.
Considering offices on campus close at 5 p.m., I really did have my work cut out for me.
For the next two days, I spent literally all my time eating, drinking and living this story. I ran back-and-forth across campus like five times easily each day and only got about an hour of sleep in between days. Seriously, I was up until ~7 a.m. Thursday morning just to transcribe interviews and write.
Luckily I had some help with other assistant friends like Kat Padillo and Brian Alvarado, so the work wound up being manageable.
Unfortunately… Timing was not on my side. Basically our entire editorial staff was in New York for a conference, so I really wasn’t able to get much attention for section editing and publishing the story. It was a shame, especially given the insistence of the advisory team I had helping me out and the amount of work I put into getting everything (I had like five interviews by the end of Wednesday, eight by the end of Thursday).
But that’s just how the business works I suppose.
When the pre-event reporting plan went out the window, I instead focused on the Friday event itself. I went with my camera to record video, I live tweeted while I was there and I asked our Photo Editor Gabe to come help me out.
In my general print-centric media ineptitude, I inevitably screwed up the multimedia aspect I had hoped to get. But I did some good live tweeting and Gabe got nice photos, so once I adjusted my story for the new time frame and added in the pictures and such it was all good to go.
I had also wanted a graphical element, and I had one of our Illustrators, Anita, working on that, but it was deemed to be “not visually appealing enough” so we cut it. I personally would have liked to have it there just as extra information for our readers, but I guess that’s just the price of not being at the top of the totem pole.
In the end, despite the heartache and exhaustion that came with this story, I think it turned out quite nice. After all, our job isn’t really about the struggle we go through to get the news out.
It’s about telling the news. Standing with the people when they have grievances and holding those they feel are against them accountable.
From that perspective, I would argue this is one of the most important stories I’ve written. It has plenty of opportunities for follow-up pieces as well, so long as the sports clubs feel comfortable working with me to get out their specific troubles.
With that said, if you want to read this article in its entirety, you can check it out here. You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
After a couple of days of hardcore convention-ing, it feels nice to settle in for a week of school with your name adorning the paper once again.
As I teased in my ACP post from yesterday, I’ve had an opinion piece worked up over the last week or so that made it to print in today’s weeklong. Only one paper this week — alongside our special Health Issue — because half our staff is going out to New York.
Honestly that’s a double whammy bonus for me. More time for my story to be out on the stands and more time for me to get some homework out-of-the-way that I’ve been desperate to catch up on. Guess I can count that as one more benefit to not making the cross-country trip.
Enough pussy-footing around though. You’re probably all here to see some of my behind-the-scenes looks at what goes into writing an article. Though if you aren’t and you really do prefer me to just ramble on… Just let me know. I’d love to hear why.
Though my second opinion piece for the Titan isn’t exactly as noteworthy as the first one I wrote last semester, I think I honestly had a little more fun putting this one together. It centers around California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, my hometown representative actually and a pretty nice guy at that, having put through a bill to the table that would make surfing the official state sport if passed.
Now, I’m not personally super into surfing. I love the beach and I used to surf a bit, but I got pretty traumatized after an incident where I got crushed between a couple of boards during a surfing lesson way back in the day and haven’t really done it since.
Even with that stipulation, I’m not looking to suggest that surfing would be an inherently bad choice for this position. If anything I agree that surfing would make the most sense as a singular sport associated with the state of California. However… I just don’t think it’s right to necessarily boil down an entire facet of a state’s culture into one legislative representative.
There’s a distinction I’m imagining between something like a sport and something like a tree or a flower. Obviously every state has its signature flower or tree, and in a lot of regards that makes sense. Either that flora is common in the area or has some significance for another reason, but it’s easy enough to just say “California has redwood trees. They’re cool. Let’s make that the state tree.”
For human-driven cultural pursuits, I think it’s a little more tricky to pick just one. While surfing is strongly associated with the Golden State, it’s not the only one that holds distinction amongst the people living there. That can go for any state or country really, but it’s especially true for California where (as I note in the story) Big Bear snowboarding and Hermosa Beach surfing are just three or so hours apart.
Essentially my article goes through a number of examples building on the original premise that surfing along doesn’t represent all of California. I talk about beach volleyball. I talk about snowboarding. I talk about basketball. I make a Beach Boys joke.
Because really how could you not with this premise?
Then, once I’ve made a case for why all of those sports could also represent facets of California, I came to the ultimate conclusion that maybe there should not be just ONE single state sport. You discount too much history and culture if you go that route.
After my article was finished, I also decided to get some pictures to accompany it. I live down by the beach after all, so that was an easy thing to get access to. Plus, I get extra points for having photo credits in print. So why not?
Well… If you’ve paid attention to my adventures these past couple of days, you’ll know why not.
Really though, outside of the rain this was a pretty fun and easy assignment. I enjoyed the topic and I talked with a source for some background on potential flaws with surfing as a concept who was quite nice.
She even gave me an arts and crafts project… For some reason.
Still not sure why, but it’s sweet all the same.
If you want to read my article in its entirety, you can check it out here. Or you can see my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
Or, you can always come down to Fullerton to pick it up in person. It’s going to be on racks all week, after all!
The last day of the Associated Collegiate Press 2018 Midwinter Convention was a long one. Not only did I do a bunch of stuff before heading to Long Beach, but I was there extra late for the California College Media Association awards that followed the closing keynote of the event.
That late awards ceremony was also the reason I didn’t manage to get this out the night of like with my first two posts, by the way. If you even noticed that weird discrepancy and were curious about it.
But if you did not notice that and don’t want to see my keep rambling on, I’ll just jump right in.
Even though there were a few early sessions I was potentially interested in attending during the last day of the convention, ultimately I decided not to go over there yesterday morning. Other pressing matters presented themselves that needed to be addressed from Redondo.
First and foremost, I needed to take some photos regarding a story I’ve been working on for the Titan. The article is an opinion piece about surfing being considered to become the official state sport of California through a bill introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi.
It’s getting published tomorrow, so if you want to know exactly what I’m thinking about regarding that issue, you’ll just have to wait and see. #Cliffhanger
In my desire to earn extra points for Comm 471, I decided to go take my own photos to accompany the surfing article. After all, I live literally five minutes away from the beach. So why not take my own photos?
Turns out, nature gave me a perfect reason why to not take my own photos.
Seriously, what were the odds that I went out to take photos on one of the rainiest, lousy days I’ve seen in this part of the world in months.
At least there was a nice pier to hide under so I didn’t completely ruin the camera I have rented from Bonnie.
Also, shout out to my Mom for taking this dope picture of me. Even if I look silly wearing a leather jacket out on the beach in hindsight.
On the bright side, we went and had a lovely breakfast together after escaping the torrential downpour.
We both look pretty lousy and waterlogged in this photo, but I think that adds to the charm. It was a fun adventure.
After our beach trip, I stayed home for a while longer to work on some homework. That’s the unfortunate thing about going to a dope conference: Having to keep up with your regular life responsibilities at the same time.
Especially when those real life responsibilities include a Psychology Research Methods paper to write in perfect American Psychological Association document style. That’s the funnest kind of assignment.
I did make some substantial progress on that during my morning time — though I didn’t finish it, and I theoretically could probably be working on it instead of this… But those are semantics we don’t need to get into right now.
Eventually, time dictated my necessity to go to Long Beach. I may not have gone to any other sessions, but there was one I absolutely had to go to.
Covering Milo Yiannopoulos
I think it’s probably no surprise at this point that our biggest story on the Daily Titan in 2017 (for the second half of it at least) was the Halloween visit of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
There’s no need for me to go into detail about every single story we wrote on the subject, so just check out the Daily Titan tag to get the gist of it if you’re behind.
For our purposes here, know that I was essentially the project lead on our Milo coverage since I broke the news that he would be appearing initially. That’s the magic of having connections with the club that was inviting him.
Because of the extensive work behind our Milo coverage, Bonnie got us a slot on the ACP convention schedule to talk about everything that went into it. Not only was that an awesome opportunity, but I had the honor of essentially leading the talk because I led most of our efforts!
That included everything, from the creation of a PowerPoint:
Of course I wasn’t the only one talking, if the pictures above didn’t make it obvious enough. I was joined by current Sports assistant Kathryne Padilla (left), Opinion editor Sophia Acevedo (middle) and News assistant Breanna Belken (right).
Our talk was pretty popular too, I’d say:
… I know it sort of looks like a half-empty room in this picture, but I took it toward the end of the session. There were more people there early on and a few trickled out throughout.
But there’s no need to try and overcompensate or whatever, as just the fact that we got to speak to anybody like an expert in the subject was an absolute joy!
Probably my favorite part of it was the fact that people stuck around after the talk ended to ask extra questions. Specifically from me! Seriously, they staked out the room and hit my up after I left to find out a bit more about how I was able to stay objective with my reporting on the guy.
It’s a pretty significant confidence booster to see people want your advice on how to handle something.
I may be wrong about this, but I believe it was UC Santa Barbara students that stayed around to talk with me after the talk. So shout out to them.
But if I’m wrong and you just so happen to be those guys and you’re reading this, just let me know and I’ll correct it. I feel bad about not being 100 percent sure, there was just a lot that happened after we talked.
The Ending Keynote: Dirty John
The Los Angeles Times took a chance in late 2017 by publishing one of their larger investigative stories in tandem with a series of podcast episodes. That podcast, called Dirty John, has been downloaded 10 million times since it was put out in October.
Christopher Goffard was the reporter and narrator for the print story and the podcast respectively. He was also the keynote speaker for the last day of the convention.
I was already pretty hyped up for his talk after Steve Padilla, an LA Times editor, advocated for the keynote and encouraged me to go see what he had to say. Luckily, I was not disappointed.
Goffard ran through the ten lessons he learned from working on a podcast:
The story always comes first.
You will eventually grapple with some kind of ethical issues.In his case, deciding whether or not to include certain sound clips to enhance the emotional connection of the story.
In a hyper competitive podcasting space, experience with prior reporting will offer an advantage.
Having the right equipment is important.
You will never know what words you have been mispronouncing your entire life until you have to say it in a professional space.
Even if your podcast can reach more people, use it to draw attention to print.
Always think about the cat (or whatever other noise obstructions there might be).
Your work shouldn’t be about you, as interesting as you may be.
Stop saying ‘uh huh’ during your interviews on tape. Learn to nod your head.
You will not be murdered if you fail. Only staying in your comfort zone will kill you.
After getting through his points in speed running fashion, he spent a long time just answering questions from anyone and everyone in the audience who wanted his advice. It was super cool and useful, and after it ended I was excited to start listening to the podcast on my daily drives to-and-from Fullerton.
Pardon my dumb late-night repetition of ‘excited’ too many times.
The rest of my time at the conference was spent at two different awards functions.
The first bled right into Goffard’s talk. A part of the ACP convention is a ‘Best of Show’ competition, where schools in attendance had the opportunity to enter what they considered to be their greatest work in various categories.
The Daily Titan entered one of the Homeless in OC-centric papers for ‘Best Daily Newspaper,’ the special Milo Yiannopoulos coverage reprint for ‘Best Special Issue’ and the Milo multimedia accompaniment for ‘Best Multimedia.’
We won first place, third place and fourth place respectively.
The banquet was pretty great for a number of reasons.
First and foremost: The food.
It was all as delicious as it looks.
Dinner was almost comically on-point by offering us the opportunity to have both the meat AND the fish course, alongside some salad, mashed potatoes and cauliflower.
Then there were a number of desserts served throughout the night, and I was able to get my hands on a tiny tiramisu and a small thing of custard with gold-colored chocolate shavings and a coffee-ground base.
Though the food was delicious, putting it as my ‘first and foremost’ choice is honestly a bit of a joke.
Really, the coolest thing about the banquet was getting to see a bunch of old friends from the Titan who swung around to get awards!
Namely, my ex-co-editors Sarah Wolstoncroft (Twitter not included) and Megan Maxey, Ashlyn Ramirez and Kaleb Stewart came back into the fold to pick up various accolades. Bryant Freese was also supposed to be there to pick up his first place award for the sports story that got a coach at CSUF fired, but unfortunately he blew a tire on the way over (poor guy…)
Our ads department also won a couple of awards alongside the writers who were in attendance, with the most striking award featuring an amazing typo.
I don’t think anyone got a picture of it, but essentially they gave the Daily Titan Ads Department staff an award for their advertising package, which was a “The Daily Californian” production from 2016.
So we technically got credit for something that UC Berkeley did I guess? I don’t know, either way it was pretty hilarious.
What’s most important for my purposes, however, is the award I received.
Megan, Ashlyn, Sarah, Bryant (who as I mentioned was not there) and I won third place in the News Series category for our work on the “Homeless in OC” stories that were produced as a part of Bonnie’s Investigative Journalism class last year. It’s a super huge honor, and I’m so proud that we were able to get that important work recognized!
Gotta give credit where it’s due, to all my hardworking peeps on the Daily Titan staff, past and present.
After the awards ended, we all stood around and took photos together, then made our way home.
After three days of fun and learning in Long Beach, the convention was over. By 11:00 p.m. when I got back to Redondo, I was ready to pass out.
And I did.
That’s why this is coming out so late into Sunday instead of Saturday night. Because I fell asleep, then had to get up early to take beach photos again (this time more successfully) and have been doing my Daily Titan shift for our weeklong issue before half of our staff goes to New York for yet another conference.
Still kinda wish I had the opportunity to go to New York with them, but after my experiences in Long Beach I suppose I really can’t complain. I had an amazing time with some of my friends, got to share my expertise with a national audience, learn from a number of professionals and won some awards.
Rarely is there ever a more poignant metaphor for how a day is going to go than waking up to a cloudy, rainy morning. Especially in Southern California, where rainy days are a dime a dozen at best.
The second day of my Associated Collegiate Press convention experience carried that unfortunate hurdle to overcome. Waking up was less than desirable with water drizzling down onto the windows, but there were early sessions I was interested in attending, so I dragged myself out of bed all the same.
Of course, Long Beach was not much sunnier than Redondo this morning. If anything, it was actually worse:
Luckily the conference is in a fancy hotel, so being out in the rain was not exactly a concern. Or that was the hope anyway.
My convention experience actually started out being more hectic than I had intended it to be. There was a 10:30 p.m. session I was interested in attending about covering geek culture, but as soon as I arrived that plan was subverted.
First, she handed out this semester’s business cards, which were delivered at the oh-so-inconvenient timing of late yesterday afternoon.
Seriously, these couldn’t have arrived when we were first starting the conference?
Whatever. I figured at least I would have the opportunity to hand them out at the geek session I was going to join in a few minutes late.
Instead Bonnie asked me to help out with picking our Best of Show submissions, which were due at 4 p.m. this afternoon. That task first entailed me having to circle back around to the parking lot where she wanted me to rummage through her trunk to find a specific copy of the paper we wanted to submit.
Long story short, that paper was not there. But there were a couple of others that I grabbed for her. Frankly the strangest thing about that was just getting a brief glimpse into the strange world of ‘how other people organize their car trunks,’ in this case with one of my mentors. It was actually about as messy as my trunk is, so I’m going to take that as a positive.
I brought those issues back to the main foyer, where Bonnie was sitting down to do paper critiques with other schools. I (somewhat awkwardly) joined them at that table because she asked me to pick out the best paper to turn in.
Here’s just a few of the papers I was deciding between. Ironically enough, none of them pictured above were the ones we decided to turn in. Guess that speaks wonders of my ability to plan ahead.
With the Best of Show paper chosen and a number of my friends at the Titan trickling in, it was time for the day’s keynote.
The Middle Keynote: Covering the Nassar Scandal
Two students from Michigan State University who run their school’s newspaper were the big speakers of the afternoon. They began simply localizing stories from the Indianapolis Star regarding the huge movement of women coming out against Larry Nassar, the former US Gymnastics physician who also worked at MSU, for his string of sexual assaults.
Then their coverage blossomed into a much larger ordeal.
The two student journalists, Rachel Fradette and McKenna Ross, went through the timeline of their year and a half covering the scandal. Everything from talking to the students Nassar abused to dealing with a stonewalling administration to eventually coming out for the University President’s resignation – which came a week after their editorial, the same day Nassar was convicted.
An element of dealing with a national controversy also permeated throughout their talk. One of the more striking details they discussed was being asked how they felt about the situation as two women on their campus. Not as journalists, not as students, but as women.
Rachel’s comment to that was reminding them that she had no biases as a journalist.
Their story did not end with Nassar’s conviction however. It continued on when an interim President was hired and they began dealing with a reigning in of the message coming from the overall university to try and recover from their PR nightmare.
In the end, one message in particular stuck with me from the keynote as a whole. It was the very end (fittingly), where Rachel commented on the fact that their 2017 Yearbook featured no reference to Nassar in the slightest despite it being the largest sports scandal story in decades.
The blame was placed on the fact that the Yearbook has closer connections to the school than their independent newspaper. “I’m glad every day that we only answer to the students,” she ended on.
Doesn’t seem like I’ve gone over enough for there to be a break in the action, does it?
Well, once the keynote was over the convention schedule had an hour’s worth of a break for lunch.
Everyone who was at the event from the Daily Titan had come to the keynote speech, which is where I got the picture I used as the featured image from.
With that hour break, a couple of us decided to go out and get some food together. It was still a little drizzly out, but it was much more fun to put up with that alongside friends.
The Islands in the shopping center nearby had a very long wait, so instead we wound up going to a Chili’s nearby. That visit was, of course, predicated on the fact that we all lost it remembering a meme from some years ago.
Anyway yeah, I don’t have a good transition, so here’s the picture we took:
All we had was fries, but it was super fun to just get to sit around and talk. We even finished with just enough time to get back to the convention so we could deal with our newspaper and website critiques.
Those critiques were an adventure in their own right, but I don’t know that I want to share a lot of it here. It’s mostly personal stuff to work on among our newsroom staff.
I will, however, share that the man critiquing our online presence was wearing a scarlet tuxedo jacket adorned with negative newsy terms like ‘libel,’ and when he read our stuff he always put on a monocle.
So that was a thing that happened.
Translating Print for Social Media Engagement
After we got through our critiques, everyone else decided to head home. But there were a few more sessions I was interested in attending, so I hung around.
The first one I went to revolved around social media. Admittedly, not the best thing to go to after feeling a little bit off following the online paper critique, but I managed to take some interesting stuff out of it all the same.
Granted I wasn’t able to get a lot because I didn’t feel like Jay Hartwell was a fantastic presenter, at least for how I enjoy to learn, but I did pull some things out of it. For instance, he talked about cropping photos in interesting and novel ways to make sure they catch the interest of people looking on their phone.
I frankly did not agree at all with some of the things he was pushing. Like more ‘clickbait-y’ headlines. I’m of the opinion that we need less of that sort of thing, but I suppose I am also somewhat in the minority of people willing to put up with text longer than 300 words in a shot.
If that wasn’t obvious enough.
I think the best part about this presentation was the fact that he sped through it so the latter half could be spent going through the social media accounts of different groups in attendance to judge how good their presence was.
My favorite part of that was an exchange that wound up happening between the presenter and a newspaper who only used their Instagram account to post memes as a way of drudging up more attention and interest. He was arguing that there were issues of fair use, they were arguing that memes are just memes…
It was kind of an unintentionally fascinating look into the difference between the mindsets of millennial versus the older generations.
Melding Artistic and Journalistic Skill Sets
I didn’t have to move very far to start my last session of the day, since it was literally in the same room as the social media one.
This session, hosted by Andrea Heiss, admittedly caught me off guard. See, from all of the promotional material in the conference’s schedule, I was under the impression that her talk was going to be about the ways covering music, theatre and movies helped to bolster a reporter’s skills when it comes to covering… Well everything else.
Instead, I got a much more interestingly philosophical conversation.
The talk was not about a case of artistic review skills leading to better general reporting, rather it was about the deeper structural connections between skills it takes to be an artist and skills it takes to be a journalist. In essence, the similarities between reporters relying on language in the same way artists rely on their craft to express themselves.
Relating journalism to theatre, she discussed how news stories should construct a scene and embrace the two-way nature of working with your sources while you draft the piece.
Relating journalism to music, she talked about how music is its own language that creates immense emotion without words to implore that our writing should do the same thing in a duet with the people we talk to.
Relating journalism to film, she recommended we adopt the language of film into our work to establish scenes in more detail without breaking into stereotyping our subjects.
There were more points than that, but those were probably the main things in my recollection. However, I also appreciated the way she pointed out that our work as journalists allows us to help readers take scary new steps into novel realities that are being created every day. She also talked about how we, the newest journalists, do that work by melding a classical focus on logic and order with a more modern focus on romanticism, emotional and local story telling.
I honestly really like the way she described us blending those traditions, so I’ll probably hang onto that.
Once that last session ended, I quickly made my way our and headed back to Redondo, tired and ready to collapse… And start writing this post. A real exciting life I’m living, I know.
While the sessions and critiques I attended weren’t the most uplifting things compared to all the fun I had yesterday, I still appreciated the chance to learn a lot.
Though honestly, I think I appreciated the chance to spend time with my friends on the paper more. Pretty sure I was the only person besides Briggetta at the convention yesterday, so having everyone together today was super cool!
With that said, tomorrow should be even more interesting from that point of view. Not only am I going to be giving my Milo Yiannopoulos presentation at 3:30 p.m., but I should be receiving an award at the ceremony that’s going to be closing out the conference.
Whatever I write for tomorrow should be much more fun and excitable as a result, so stay tuned for that!
See, the 2018 Associated Collegiate Press National Midwinter Convention started today, and as anyone who follows me on social media knows I’ve been trying to more actively post about it than I usually would.
But my day started well before the Convention did, so let me just run that down real fast before I get into the meat of this.
On top of the many things I’ve been juggling lately, one of the most attention grabbing activities has been putting together some College of Communications scholarship applications.
The applications have been sort of a long, involved process that I won’t bother going too deep into. It basically boils down to having some questions to answer, printing out my school records for all four of the scholarships I applied for (talk about a waste of paper there), selecting a couple of my articles for the Daily Titan and getting a letter of recommendation from Bonnie, our advisor.
Today was actually the deadline for applications, and that fact caused me undue amounts of stress when my late night media history class left me unable to drop the materials off yesterday because the office was closed.
For context, what that means is that this morning I had to drive ~45 minutes to Fullerton from Redondo Beach to make sure I could turn everything in before coming to the Conference this afternoon. Long Beach is actually closer to Redondo than Fullerton, so I basically drove a large crescent around Southern California.
But that’s all ancient history at this point. I made it where I needed to go on time in all accounts! I just felt like throwing that all out here because everything was a real headache while I went through it.
So with my complaining out of the way, let’s talk about this Journalism Convention.
I went to New York a couple of years ago to represent the Daily Titan, and though I did not get the opportunity to go again this year I have had the pleasure of a much shorter trip over to Long Beach for the ACP Convention.
I don’t get over to Long Beach too often, but it is a lovely town. I kind of wish I had a little more time to just wander the city proper, but the sessions I attended kept me rather busy.
Registration came first, and I got all the cool swag that comes along with that:
Nothing like another Convention name tag to add to my collection.
Once I was registered, then I got to go through the sessions I picked out.
Google News Tools
My first stop of the night was the longest, as it was a 3 hour hands-on introduction to various reporting tools that can be accessed through Google via their News Lab.
To be completely honest about it, I believe I’ve actually seen the talk before. There was something very similar not too long ago at CSUF at least, so I didn’t necessarily learn a lot that I wasn’t already aware of.
But that’s not to say I didn’t learn anything at all.
The presenter, Amara Aguilar from the University of Southern California and the Society of Professional Journalists (and apparently a CSUF alum who still works with the university), introduced a number of tools.
The last one was particularly cool because she also brought along some Google Cardboard VR headsets to try out while pitching the Cardboard Camera App software. Honestly, it’s something I can see myself potentially using.
The only serious downside to this whole presentation was… Well…
The internet was really bad.
As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s hard to give a hands-on presentation of online reporting tools when everyone at the session cannot get online to use them.
Luckily, all things ended on a high note when I won the small raffle at the end and got a Starbucks gift card.
The Opening Keynote: Covering San Bernardino
The opening keynote of this convention was particularly interesting to me.
But putting that aside, I think the only unfortunate thing about this keynote in its execution was the fact that… To put it bluntly, I didn’t get anything especially novel out of the panel.
Now don’t take that the wrong way, they were a fascinating panel to listen to, and I genuinely enjoyed everything they had to say. Apparently, they updated their day one story 22 separate times and were pointed to by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department as the main source of news on the subject.
There was also some good general advice, like keeping food, phone chargers, clothing and road maps in one’s car in case they ever have to go out and cover something. Or keeping things like masks and tools to charge tech through one’s car in case of a natural disaster.
But part of what they wound up emphasizing was the fact that shootings like San Bernardino aren’t exactly a rare thing anymore. As a result of that, advice when it comes to covering horrible tragedies unfortunately isn’t all that hard to come by.
One thing that Sarah Parvini said in particular that stood out on the subject was this: “I hate the fact that this has to be done, but I love getting to be the one that does it.”
As a Rio de Janeiro native, Dr. Paskins brought his bias (with open admission) to showing us the fact that newspapers in South America are way more creative and fun with their front page designs than North American papers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal that focus on fitting as much text as possible up front.
To do so, he showed us examples of papers from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and more with various other countries in the region that had qualities he valued.
These are just a few examples of the pieces he showed us that I was able to screen shot.
His pointers boiled down to this. In South America, newspapers use more:
All in typically fun, creative ways.
He pointed out specifically that “if nobody has tried something before, don’t let that be what stops you” because if something doesn’t go over well, there’s always a paper the next day to wipe the slate clean.
The pointers he gave were so nice and interesting actually that I’m planning on bringing a bunch of the specifics back to our Layout and Photo editors as possible things we can try out on the Titan.
I had a nice conversation with the professor after his talk where I expressed exactly that, and he was very happy to hear it. We exchanged business cards and I’m planning on hitting him up if we actually wind up doing some of those things.
Writing Tips from an LA Times Editor
So this session actually didn’t go quite as planned.
It was supposed to be a talk on “Covering the New Activism” by a representative from the Iowa State Daily. But apparently he couldn’t make it out.
Instead, Assistant National Editor Steve Padilla of the LA Times came out and gave us writing tips.
Not to sound inherently rude about it… But I think that turn of events was for the best. The talk we got felt way more fun and interesting than anything we would have gotten otherwise.
He took 30 years of experience at the LA Times and distilled it down into three major writing tips:
Read all of your work out loud
He even recommended composing stories out loud, that way they sound better.
End your sentences with a bang
With only a few exceptions, he recommended putting the best details at the end of a sentence. However, the ‘best details’ can vary depending on the context. Ending a sentence with a time detail, a place detail or a strange detail can each have different effects on the overall tone.
Always pay attention to verbs
A large part of his writing technique philosophy is focused on making impactful verbs showcase a sentence. Overall one of the most useful tips in the bunch, and he spent a lot of time on it.
Steve also emphasized another philosophy he follows rather closely: “If you know what you want to say, you’ll figure out how to say it.”
In other words, let your meaning create your words, not the other way around.
After that portion of the talk he went on to give us a bunch of tips about how to write better anecdotal ledes, how to use quotes more efficiently and how to end stories well.
Then, to end things off, he gave us three challenges:
End a feature story not with a quote, but with your own words.
Get a writing buddy to share stories and teach one another interesting stuff.
Become a careful reader who can discern WHY something is good or bad, not just that it is good or bad.
This was the one talk I attended where everyone who came stayed afterwards just to talk to the presenter. He was just that fun and charismatic the entire time.
Seriously, I just loved this guy. He was awesome to listen to and I got some one-on-one time with him to just chat afterwards. Totally the kind of networking these conventions are meant for.
As soon as Steve’s talk was over (and it was over about a half hour to an hour later than scheduled because everyone was talking with him), we all emerged to find food waiting.
Though there wasn’t a lot, what was available was much more delicious than it had any right to be for a small college journalism convention reception. Pasta with chicken and spinach, mac and cheese with caramelized onion strands and coconut-fried shrimp.
Plus, there was a truly terrific surprise:
I got to it kind of late, but Homer Simpson would be proud of this donut wall.
Even if I’m awkwardly over on the side taking a picture of it. Hi there Jason.
Fun fact, as a side note, I ran into Steve again at the dessert table and we wound up chatting even more. I just couldn’t get away from the guy, because later it turned out he was parked right behind me in the garage. Not that I’m complaining or anything, I just thought it was funny.
During this reception period, I also took the opportunity to take a look at all of the other school papers laid out.
It’s a bit of a tradition at the Daily Titan for us to collect up other school papers so we can look over what they do right and what they do wrong. In our opinions of course.
Once I gathered everything up, however, it was time to head home.
I ended the night where I began. But more than anything else, the experiences of the day just made me more excited for the next two.
Tomorrow, at 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., we’ll be receiving critiques for our newspaper and website designs.
Then on Saturday I’ll be on a panel alongside a couple of other Daily Titan staffers to talk about our Milo Yiannopoulos coverage last semester.
I’ll probably put out a late night update for my next two days of journalism-ing as well, so look forward to that!
Alright alright, here we go folks. I have about a half hour before my next class starts, so let’s see if I can squeeze this whole article post out fast.
Today’s circulation of the Daily Titan features a story written by yours truly regarding the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14. It was undoubtedly a tragedy, but as far as what my stances are on the solutions to the problem itself, I’m not sure I want to go too deeply into things here and now.
What I will go into is the tangential topic of specifically what I covered. Following the shooting, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin made comments on a morning radio show about how violence in media like video games, movies and songs are one of, if not the chief causes of events like mass shootings.
Don’t know if ‘events’ is too weak of a word to use there, but it’s the best I’ve got for right now.
As per the class requirements for the story, it had to be based on our specific beat (in my case, video games), 750 words minimum and have at least one live source.
I first tried reaching out to a psychology professor to hopefully discuss the way violent media effects the development of younger children. They did not feel they were an expert on the subject and asked not to talk, but from her feedback I was able to access and comb through an American Psychological Association report that detailed a bunch of basic information I used to build the rest of my piece off of.
To do so, I reached out to College of Communications professor Cynthia King, who has done research into the connection between exposure to violent media and aggressive behavior. The interview I had with her wound up being far more in-depth than I had expected (It was about 25 minutes long when I had imagined 5-to-10 or so) and gave me just about everything I needed.
From there I compiled the information from Professor King, the APA report, the recording of the Kentucky radio broadcast and more into one big examination of the fact that media does play a part in fostering aggressive behavior, but it’s far more of a rich tapestry of developments that ultimately lead to tragedies like we saw in Parkland.
I honestly really like the way this piece turned out, and our illustrator Anita made a great graphic timeline showing the largest mass shootings in modern American history based on a compilation by CNN. Plus, for the online version at least, I was able to link out to all of the documents and everything I used, so it’s nice and robust in my opinion.
You can check out the article I wrote in its entirety here. You can also see my full body of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
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!
There are a number of milestone ages a person hits as they grow older.
When a child turns one, their parents have the opportunity to gleefully celebrate helping their progeny survive a full rotation around the sun.
When a pre-teen turns 13, in the case of my heritage at least, they get to celebrate a religious coming of age with their bar or bat mitzvah.
When one on the edge of ‘true’ adolescence turns 16, the celebration is said to be sweet.
When that now teenager turns 18, they are endowed with the right to drive, to legally consent to sexual endeavors and to both fight and potentially die for their country.
Then, when 21 rolls around, that young adult rounds out their accumulation of privileges by gaining the ability to drink alcohol. Legally, at least.
There are many more from there on out, be it the exit from academia in the mid-20s, the ‘over the hump’ years of 50 plus or the retirement years starting in… Well, whenever people are able to retire in this day and age. But for all intents and purposes, the important milestone we’re here to discuss is 21.
Because today — February 17, 2018 — is the day that I become a 21-year-old man and receive all of the rights promised by that status. Namely, I’ll get my hands on a driver’s license that is facing the right way (and hopefully take a better photo at the DMV while I’m at it), and I’ll be able to go out drinking with my friends.
Granted… I don’t exactly have a huge desire to go out drinking. My close-knit high school friends don’t really either, though I’m sure my college journalism friends will be chomping at the bit looking to get me out to a bar in Downtown Fullerton to celebrate.
I’ll probably try it, in a controlled situation, just because it would seem like a waste not to take advantage of the opportunity. But like I said, I’m not wide-eyed and excited about drinking, nor do I imagine I’ll be doing it very often.
Beyond that, what else do I have to say about turning 21…
Honestly, it doesn’t feel very different from being 20. I know that’s a cliché that’s thrown around a lot, but it’s true. Really it’s just more of the same as far as my day-to-day life goes.
Still doing the semester grind, with an actually quite busy week ahead of me thanks to midterms. I’m working on a few pieces for the Titan, though they’re more on the back burner thanks to the aforementioned tests and such. Gladeo is still giving me work, though the subjects I’m working with are harder to get in touch with then I’d enjoy.
Oh, but in more positive news, the student-run publication California Connections that I’m head editor on finally got its first writing submission last night. Shows that all the work I’ve been doing to get the word out has paid off at least a little bit!
Plus, I’ve been working with our advisor Bonnie Stewart on preparing a presentation that a few of us are going to be giving with her at an upcoming journalism conference based on our work covering Milo Yiannopoulos. I’m also going to be getting an award at that conference, so it’s really exciting!
Though I don’t have much to say about them at this point. Just stay tuned for it, I suppose.
Pretty recently hit 200 posts here on this blog, right around the same time as we hit the second anniversary of this black hole for my thoughts existing. That’s pretty awesome, I think. Sure some of that content might have been a little same-y and formulaic over this last year in particular, but I think I’ve got some stuff working in my head to mix it up more, so we’ll see if things get more abundant from here on out.
To be completely honest, it might not get much more exciting than what I’ve had up to this point until I’m out of school and have less diverse responsibilities weighing my time down, but even then I’m going to keep working at it. I do enjoy having this repository for my thoughts, after all.
That said, I think I’m kind of out of thoughts to deposit for now. I don’t have much to say in this self-congratulatory twenty-first trip around the sun pat-on-the-back of sorts. I’m just excited to see where things go from here.
I’m hoping you’re just as excited to stick with me on the journey! Here’s to another 21, and then some.
I had another pair of articles published in the Daily Titan today, which is frankly a pattern I’m liking so far this semester. Based on the chart Harrison has been keeping, I’m at the top of the newsroom’s byline record so far, and I’m happy about that.
I’m a little bit busy at the moment between doing some homework and preparing to cover Academic Senate again, so I won’t spend an exorbitant amount of time writing about these recent articles.
For the most part, they should speak for themselves.
The first story holds the very special distinction of being my first ever piece of journalistic writing for a sports desk. Of any paper.
As I’ve mentioned before, part of my experience in Comm 471 will involve trying out different desks through a rotation. Given that sports has been my first stop of the semester, it makes sense that I’d have a story out for the desk eventually.
What I wrote isn’t necessarily anything flashy. It’s a preview for two men’s basketball games happening this weekend, only about 300 words or so and entirely based upon research into some team-related statistics. There aren’t any interviews for the story because it was originally supposed to have quotes siphoned from an interview someone on the sports desk was going to do, but that interview was cancelled.
So… No quotes.
It’s also a little more jargon-y than I had originally written. After all, I’m clearly not a sports writer, so there are bits of terminology I would not have picked up on by myself that our desk editors had to implement so it could be more natural for their regular audience.
Even so, my buddy Jared told me he was really impressed by the information I was able to pull together and said the edits were very minimal, which I’ll take as a big win for my first sports article.
If you want to check that out, you can see it here. For my fellow non-sporting persons out and about, I assure you it’s a short read.
My second article of the day is a little more involved.
At the Academic Senate meeting two weeks ago, one of the subjects brought up by the body’s Graduate Education Committee was their support for a new database being created to house the theses and dissertations written by graduate students.
I thought that sounded interesting, so I started to do some digging.
Very quickly I found myself a bit more over my head than expected. I first spoke with Mark Bilby from the Pollak Library (who, serendipitously, I met last semester at the Pollak Library’s holiday party). We had a 30 minute conversation about open source data repositories.
That was a joy to transcribe, let me tell you.
Perhaps that sounds a little harsh, as Mark was actually a pretty good communicator of technical issues. He’s one of those people that can make something complicated sound sensible for non-technical people, which is something I’ve found with others I talked to for Gladeo. But that’s a story for another day soon.
I then talked with two members of the Office of Graduate Studies, the current interim director (who started about three days before I spoke to him) and faculty mentor Sandra Perez, who is also the Director of the University Honors program.
Retrospectively, I was at fault trying to include information from Dr. Perez considering it’s a bit of a conflict of interest to talk to someone I know in that fairly personal sense. So everything I had included from our talk was cut out. While that’s a shame considering I liked some of the stuff she said, it’s something I can have someone return to in the future now that I know about some discussions she has been a part of.
Even with that said, I think the article turned out really great. It was re-arranged a bit to emphasize some points, but otherwise all of the stuff sans Dr. Perez that I had included was kept, so I feel good about how I was able to take a rather complicated subject and make it easier to understand for a wider audience.
If you want to see that article in it’s entirety, check it out here.
You can also find the full archive of my work for the Daily Titan over on the right!