Tag: Journalism

Jason’s Ten-Dollar Word of the Day

I spent a lot of the day today doing work, copy editing for a number of different people mostly. While I could go on about why that made me late for getting this post out into the world, that would be boring.

Plus anyone reading this after tonight probably wouldn’t care in the first place. So I’m just going to not do that.

Instead I’m going to pull out an interesting tidbit from one of my jobs today and expand on it.

See, while doing a copy edit for a story coming out of Boom sometime soon regarding the current discussions about separating immigrant children from their parents at the border (a topic I don’t plan to delve too deeply into here, don’t worry) I found there were a few words I had to look up to see if they were being used correctly.

One such word stood out in particular because it gave me a more proper term to use for something which otherwise I’ve always treated in a casual manner.


Proselytize

Intransitive Verb form

  1. To induce someone to convert to one’s faith.
  2. To recruit someone to join one’s party, institution, or cause.

Transitive Verb form

  1. To recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution or cause.

via the Merriam-Webster dictionary


Basically, when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your house to talk with you about their faith, they are proselytizing.

The term extends further than just religious door-to-door salesmanship, however. It’s also a politician’s term, a social movement’s term, an industrialist’s term, so on and so forth.

Funny enough, the word actually reminded me of a story I wrote back in 2013 for the High Tide. Julian Stern, a kid who I’d known through being a school acquaintance for some time by then, was running for City Council while just 18 years old.

Very specifically I recall him spending some time in my house to do the interview because he happened to be going door-to-door campaigning in my neighborhood at the time. It was an interesting interview to be sure, and I actually wound up reflecting that in the lede to my article.

You can read the article here, by the way. Bottom right-hand corner of page three.

Looking back on it now I probably would have been laughed out of my high school newsroom for trying to use a term like “proselytize” in my story, but it would’ve fit quite well as a more specific, mature term.

Of course the average reader more easily understood that he was “selling himself rather than magazines,” and that’s why it was the better choice to go with, but still. I would like to see myself use proselytize in a sentence sometime soon.

Also, don’t read too much into my saying ‘selling himself.’ I know you internet, you’ll make anything dirty, but this is not the time.

Stop it.

Well that’s my ten-dollar word of the day. I actually enjoy seeing things like ‘words of the day’ on every online dictionary and goofy calendar ever made, so I might just try to do this again next time I find a new word that’s interesting. If you’d like to see more of it, or if you learned an interesting new word today yourself, let me know down in the comments!

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A Shining Blast from the Past

A Shining Blast from the Past

With the latest Tag Duel Tournament ending in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links soon, I wanted to take the chance to talk about something regarding the event I’ve been interested in since it started.

It has nothing to do with the event itself, as I quite like how Tag Duels work in balancing two duelists fighting on the same team.

No, what I’m interested in is the new reward cards that came from the event. Namely, this one:

Say hello to Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman.

This pretty cool looking card right here, for all intents and purposes, is kind of useless when you give it a critical eye. It’s attack and defense stats are okay, but underscored by the fact that it’s a fusion monster that requires a second fusion monster just to summon it.

That’s a fairly difficult summoning condition for the uninitiated, as it means you need three different monster cards and two copies of polymerization just to get him out. His inherent abilities do help him stand out, as he gains at least 1200 attack instantly from all of the HERO monsters in the graveyard just required to summon, then everything he beats over inflicts damage once sent to the grave…

But still. The summon is a tough sell when he has no real protection from any kind of destructive spells or traps.

I’m not here to discuss the merits of this card as a viable battle strategy, however. Even if seeing him added into Duel Links has inspired me to try building a deck around him.

I’m here to discuss the reason why seeing Shining Flare Wingman brought a huge wave of happiness and nostalgia running through my system. Check this out:

Welcome to 2006, where a young nine-year-old Jason vaguely interested in Yu-Gi-Oh! card collecting decided to buy this magazine because the monster on the front looked so god damn cool.

I mean that too, I don’t think I ever seriously read through this thing. I just loved looking at the cool monster pictures on it and inside of it.

To this day, the Shining Flare Wingman edition of Beckett’s Yu-Gi-Oh! magazine is still the only one I own, and seeing his arrival in Duel Links brought the memories of it flooding back. Luckily it just took a quick dig through my 2006-ish era comic books to find the thing.

But those are a story for another day.

Now that I’m older and actually interested in the world of media, I actually perused the magazine with a more analytical eye.

As it turns out, Beckett is an online marketplace for card games and their accessories. Primarily sports cards, but also other trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh!

That’s probably not a surprise to many of you, but I seriously never bothered to look it up before now. I just always thought of this magazine as “The Yu-Gi-Oh! monster thing.”

At its core, the magazine as a whole is just a conduit to show off what cards are available for what prices online.

In 2006 anyway.

Obviously that’s not all that useful for me anymore. So instead, the really fascinating thing about this magazine is what they fill the rest of this thing with.

It’s 88 pages long, and honestly a perfect feature-writer handbook for how to built an interested following with content related to what’s being sold.

Seriously it’s got everything. News about the card game:

Profiles on cards and decks, much like the Shining Flare Wingman deck that’s advertised on the cover:

But then there’s the more fun stuff that shows how interested whoever put these things together was in not only the card game, but the culture surrounding it.

There are articles all about things like the anime throughout the magazine, which I’m sure appealed to me because the anime was my route into Yu-Gi-Oh!

Top tens and episode reviews.

Seriously, this thing is like the perfect analog representation of exactly what you’d expect to see from fandom-driven sites online today.

It’s like Buzzfeed before Buzzfeed. Except all about Yu-Gi-Oh!

And much more my speed.

Of course there’s also other magazine mainstays, like this section all about reader-submitted fan art:

Shout out to Michael from Utah for truly capturing the anime mood.

Seeing this part of the magazine in particular reminds me a lot of the old Highlights magazines, those book-centric ones everyone would get from book fairs in elementary school.

All it needs is a few hidden object games and I would be 100 percent down.

On the bright side, in place of those kinds of games, this magazine also talked about Yu-Gi-Oh! video games.

So hey, it’s got my best interest at heart.

Most of the rest is just advertisements and and pages upon pages of sales figures for individual cards.

While those are interesting in their own right just to take a glimpse back at early 2006, as it seems these things came out bimonthly, I definitely think my biggest takeaway is how awesome all of the extra surrounding content is.

Seriously, looking through how much fun the creators must have had pulling together all of these feature-y articles kind of inspires me to be a bit more interested in the features side of the journalism spectrum.

And all because a mobile phone game dropped a somewhat useless monster that gave me a rush of nostalgia 12 years after a seminal moment in my youthful development.

Isn’t life just a crazy thing?

Am I Uncomfortable with Silence?

Am I Uncomfortable with Silence?

So this post comes in response to what I wrote the other day about the dichotomy of transcription, why it’s a terrible thing to do but also why it’s the best thing one can do when practicing journalism.

I know there was a gap where I talked about videa gaymes because of timely E3 business, but these extended thoughts kept nagging at me.

So consider this a part two of the discussion of transcription, and check out part one here if you haven’t already.

There was another ‘con’ to the act of transcribing that I considered going into while sitting in Starbucks with mom, working on the first post. But I decided not to include it because the more I thought about it, the more the problem felt like one example of a larger, personal idiosyncrasy of mine.

The idea of being subjected to total silence as something potentially uncomfortable to endure.

Now, to preface this discussion with myself, I’d like to say that I don’t actually feel like I’m the only person on the planet who might just be uncomfortable with silence. If anything, I think it’s an inherent part of being as social a creature as humans are.

There are likely hundreds of scientific studies out there on the matter, covering things like our tendencies to fill dead air in a conversation by changing topics or inserting speech fillers like “um” or “ah.”

But I’m going to be looking at the subject from an entirely personal perspective. None of those silly “empirical tests” and whatnot to murk up my subjective torrent of words.

I’ve always been a rather introverted person growing up. Ironic for someone going into a field where they need to constantly talk to people, I know.

My passions have always leaned toward personal activities like reading, writing and video games rather than group activities like partying and sports. I had my groups to do things like play video games with of course, but you get the idea.

Because of that I’ve generally considered myself the kind of person who enjoys, if not thrives in more silent environments. Sitting sheltered off in my room to do work, for example, which has in the past led to my parents deeming it “the cave.”

Yet the more I reflect on my past, the more I’ve come to realize that perhaps it’s more the isolation in which I thrive, rather than the quiet. I say that because more often than not I’ve always tried to fill the silence with other noises even when I’m not with other people.

Video games themselves are the perfect embodiment of this. I’ve been playing them my whole life, and the songs and sound bites from a number of titles are just as iconic to me as some images, just as likely to help recall certain events or moments from my life.

As a quick example, I’ll never be able to disassociate the opening theme to Pokémon White 2 from the specific Target (right across the street from the South Bay Galleria) where I started to play the game for the first time after having put it down unfinished when it first came out.

The idea of making sound ever-present in my life goes much deeper than that, however.

As much as I love driving as an activity, I find my commutes to-and-from Cal State Fullerton nearly unbearable when I can’t listen to a podcast or a video as I go.

When I’m falling asleep, I can never just lay back and go to sleep. I have to do what I consider pre-dreaming, where I start to imagine some sort of scene in my head – a scene that includes some sort of dialogue or musical score – in order to really lull myself into unconsciousness.

While reading tends to be one of the exceptions to this rule, as sometimes ill sit silently just imagining the pages play out in my head, sometimes particularly boring novels for class can get so unbearable that I need something else running in the background to help me get through it.

More often than not I have my computer somewhere in the bathroom as I shower, that way I can continue to listen to whatever video series I have running while standing under the relaxing spray for arguably way too long.

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The laundry basket makes for a convenient pedestal.

The list, as I’m sure you can assume, goes on-and-on.

Having gotten far off-track with that background information, let me tie everything back to why I believe feeling uncomfortable with silence is one of the reasons transcribing audio is such a terrible thing for me. As counter-intuitive as that must sound.

Sound. Audio puns. You know the drill.

When I imagine audio that fills all of the dead space in a moment, it’ll often be the sort of things I’ve discussed already. Podcasts. YouTube videos. Music.

Hell, more often than not my family has the TV on, but it’ll be on a mindless channel like the Food Network just to create background noise while we do other things.

However, I don’t consider work audio, something I’m transcribing, to be in the same category of unencumbered noise to distract from the uncomfortable void.

Part of that could be distilled down to the psychological difference between doing something for pleasure versus doing something for work, I suppose. But I think it goes deeper than that.

When transcribing an interview, you aren’t simply jamming out or getting engaged with an adventure someone else is describing. Unless of course your interviewee is describing an adventure… But again, semantics.

Rather than having the chance to just mindlessly enjoy something and absorb what’s happening, transcription is a much more heavy-duty job. You’re listening to someone talk in the same way, but instead of just absorbing it passively you’re very actively listening to that audio, translating it and jotting it down before going back to make sure what you’ve jot down is accurate.

You become more like a wall or a mirror than a sponge, bouncing that information off to a different place rather than just taking it in. The activity is much more taxing, and it becomes easier to lose your interest.

But on top of that, the requirement to constantly repeat things for accuracy leads to a whole host of other internal issues inherent to the process. While transcribing is a “listening” activity, large portions are spent in total silence. Silence is needed to finish copying down the sentence you just heard before the subject moves into their next thought. Silence is needed as you go back in time to listen to something again, and one can’t even have any other sorts of sounds going on the side because the copying needs to be as accurate as possible.

Then let’s not forget the fact that when one is transcribing audio, they can’t necessarily think about anything else other than that audio, either.

While a mind can wander while going to sleep and fill empty space with memorized sounds, transcribing requires a person to repeat what they’ve heard over-and-over again in their head to make sure they don’t forget what they’re writing so they have to go back and hear it again.

That reminder of the sentence is noise to break up the silence, yes, but again it plays back to the mundane, repetitive nature of transcribing that makes it somewhat unbearable as an activity.

Imagine constant switching between total silence and hearing the same sentences on repeat for a few hours. That’s what transcription is at its core.

Whether or not everyone else in the world feels the same way about silence and how it effects things like transcribing is hard to judge since I’m just going off of my own thoughts.

But if nothing else, simply reflecting on those thoughts and trying to imagine why certain things make me feel the way they do, even if I don’t come to any sort of substantial conclusion, is something else that’s inherently characteristic of being human.

The ability to reflect on one’s own situations, and even reflect on the ability to reflect in the first place. That’s the kind of meta that I find fascinating.

Especially when it comes off of an essentially pointless “deep thought” that winds up boiling down to me complaining about my job, if you think about it hard enough.

The Trouble with Transcription

The Trouble with Transcription

After spending large chunks of the day working on transcribing an hour-long Gladeo interview (arguably procrastinating a lot but that’s a different story), I find myself reflecting on the art of transcription as a whole.

… And the fact that it is simultaneously the most helpful but also the worst, least enjoyable part of my job as an aspiring journalist.

It might seem like hyperbole to use such radical opposites to describe the dichotomy of such an important part of the job, but I can almost guarantee that anyone who works in the field will likely agree.

But from where does this dichotomy stem?

Transcription is an ever-present and somewhat unassuming part of the job. If you’re going to be interviewing and quoting a subject in print, you need to have their spoken words written out to be able to print them. It’s just what needs to be done.

On one side of the argument, transcription is mundane, boring and at times even seemingly superfluous. Many times in the past I’ve found myself working on transcribing an interview thinking “oh I’ve heard this before.” More often than not it’s because I have heard this before, as I heard it the first time when I conducted the interview.

However on top of that basic, unavoidable problem of just hearing repeat information, transcription is also a pain because it feels like busy work when going through the motions. You are quite literally copying down the words someone is saying onto a sheet of paper. There aren’t too many tools out there to assist with the job, either.

Because you want the most accurate wording possible so your piece comes out as accurately as possible, it behooves you not to rely on something like Siri to hear the audio and write it out for you because the computer can’t tell the difference between minutia when it comes to speech.

Ever tried to tell Siri to tell someone ‘you’re here for them’ and she instead tells them ‘you hear them’? Not the kind of mistranslation you want at any level of professional publication.

In recent semesters the Daily Titan staff has discovered a web browser-based app called oTranscribe which is honestly a godsend for the job. Not only does it allow you to slow down or speed up the audio you’re listening to, but it can be adjusted to do things like automatically time stamp, and there are other keyboard shortcuts that allow you to pause the sound while typing. Only it will go back about three seconds automatically so you can review the last sentence you transcribed.

oTranscribe is seriously awesome and has helped my job immensely. But… It doesn’t exactly address the problem of getting bored while listening to the same audio you’ve already listened to. That’s unfortunately an issue that will remain into the foreseeable future, up until some device that transcribes perfectly for you is invented.

In the real world, there are some factors that tend to alleviate the mundane boredom of the act. For example, it becomes much faster and more engaging to transcribe something when you’re, say, transcribing something live as a meeting’s secretary or rushing to get the words together for a deadline article that required a source who could only talk in the penultimate hour before publication.

I’ve done that before. Makes the process go way faster in my experience.

Without the “luxury” of a rapid turnaround to help enliven the process, transcribing can drag immensely.

Say, hypothetically, you have an hour-long interview to transcribe. An hour’s worth of the same person talking about the same thing you’ve already heard that you’re just writing down to help you later. Then add onto that the fact that there is no hard, set deadline to hit.

Someone could procrastinate forever on that kind of assignment. By doing things like writing an overly embellished blog post about the fact that you need to do it but can’t help getting distracted.

Hypothetically.

With all of that said, let’s look at the other side of the argument: Why it’s worth transcribing audio despite the heartache that comes with doing so.

I’ve had to handle stories in both ways I’m about to describe.

Some stories have been on such a last-minute deadline that I’ve had to rely solely on my brief written notes to find a time stamp for the quote I definitely need to throw in my story. It’s an effective system in that it’s fast — one of the more useful things it can be on deadline, but there are some problems.

More often than not, in the midst of an interview a reporter will be thinking about half a dozen things all at once. Not only is the necessity of the content their story requires and the deadline for which they have to get that information weighing heavy.

They’ll also be thinking about their next three follow-up questions that will give them the information needed. Except wait- the subject just said something really important an interesting. I better slot in another question to get more details about that.

Oh, and don’t forget to be checking the audio recorder to ensure it’s still taping. At the same time as you’re taking hand-written notes that are detailed enough to rely on in case the recorder breaks yet brief enough to make sure you don’t fall behind while the subject talks at a mile a minute.

See what I’m getting at?

Interviews are a serious juggling act, so much so that the overtaxed mind of the interviewer is likely to glaze over some details throughout the course of the talk. While those details may not necessarily be important, they could be. Hell there could be a perfect end quote for the story at minute 37 of one’s interview, but they were so busy jotting down notes from the previous statement that they forgot to mark down the fact that something good was just said.

In that first kind of deadline situation, the reporter might lose that quote forever because they’re in such a rush that they can only use things they’ve jotted down and know are necessary.

But let’s imagine a second situation. One in which the reporter has a few days or even weeks to work on a story. Be it a larger enterprise piece, a profile or even just an event story where they got a background interview in advance.

Should they suffer through the lengthy slog of transcribing that interview, suddenly a whole host of new doors open up.

When writing the article, now said reporter can have the transcription up in a window just to the side, allowing them to have all their information in one place that they can copy over without having to re-type everything or struggle to understand what’s being said on a pressured deadline.

Personally I’ve also found this method extremely helpful in that I can mark off what information I’ve already used by highlighting the transcript. It may seem like a small thing to remember what statement has been used versus which one hasn’t, but having the information laid out in a clear, concise way honestly frees up a lot of brain power to focus more on other thing, like where to go next or what statement jumps off the previous one best.

Then there are other benefits to having a written transcript, like being able to share it with an editor or fellow reporter who has offered their assistance in crafting/improving a piece. That way they can glance through the written words I just a few minutes versus having to listen to hours worth of audio just to catch up and know what’s happening.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. For as huge a pain in the ass transcription is, going out if your way to do so makes the entire writing process that follows monumentally easier. I can pinpoint specific stories where I wish I had transcripts of my audio, as they would have made those pieces leagues better.

The piece I had to do a few years ago on a presentation that was given entirely in Spanish comes to mind… But to be fair the issue there was arguably more about that language barrier than specifically the lack of transcripts themselves.

As unrelated an example as that may seem, it does actually highlight the chief reason I think transcriptions are essential for any and all journalists. You may think it’s mundane and worthless to listen to your interview twice-over, but the more you repeatedly look at something the more engrained that information becomes and the more you understand it.

In an industry where our job is to understand a person and what they’re doing intimately enough to convey that information to an audience presumably ignorant on that subject, the better you can understand the words you’re working with, the better you can convey the spirit of that subject through their words.

Minor musings on Robert F. Kennedy and the English language

On an otherwise lazy day where I basically did next to nothing of note worth talking about with any serious bravado around here, leave it to Dr. Jason Sexton and Boom to give me something interesting and intellectual to reflect on.

Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. It will officially be the 50th anniversary of that event in just three days.

The history of the Kennedy family isn’t exactly something I think about too often, despite the intriguing nature of the “Kennedy curse” as it were.

As a result, it was interesting doing a copy edit on the 17-page essay written by Joseph Palermo. The piece examines the death of Bobby Kennedy and what motives drove the assassination, both the actual motivations and whatever motivations were placed upon the assassin. He questions whether or not it was appropriate to frame the politician’s death using the Israeli-Palestinian crisis (as many tried to do) based on logs of interactions kept by L.A. County Sheriffs who watched Sirhan.

It’s a rather well done piece that I enjoyed reading, one that gave me a deeper understanding of a period of history I don’t often think about too seriously. Dr. Sexton is hoping to get the thing out on Tuesday, the actual 50th anniversary, and I’d recommend everyone read it once it’s out in the world.

However I didn’t just want to take this time to promote an essay that hasn’t yet been released.

I also wanted to spend some time reflecting on the English language, because copy editing writing does give one plenty of opportunities to think about how needlessly dumb and overcomplicated this great language can be.

For example, there are so many words that are spelled similarly but have vastly different meanings.

At one point in the piece, someone is described as being a ‘demur’ person. Thinking the intent had been to write that they were a ‘demure’ person, I looked up the two words to get a better grasp of exactly what the difference was.

According to dictionary.com:


Demur (verb) — To make objection, especially on the grounds of scruples.
also (noun) — The act of making objection; an objection raised.


Demure (adjective) — Characterized by shyness and modesty; reserved.


Amazing how much difference one silent vowel makes, isn’t it?

In one fell swoop, a person can go from having a descriptor for someone to having an action. Or a noun that’s technically the embodiment of what that verb creates.

No wonder English language learners need extra assistance, the whole construct is just chocked full of rules, exceptions and similar elements like homophones that make it a nightmare to truly master the damn thing.

But hey, that’s the world I’m looking to immerse myself in one of these days, so it’s just my lot in life to try and learn, understand and apply these kinds of specifics.

Guess it’s a good thing I’ve got opportunities like Boom, Gladeo and the Titan around to help me start to work on everything, huh?

Good Gladeo Housekeeping

Shout out to video games for making me push off this post for half a week.

Actually that isn’t totally fair. Yes, video games are a large culprit, but I have also been busy running around a bit doing chores and such. For instance I had a lovely time today going out with my mom and grandparents, Rhea and Joe, to get my Grandpa’s walker fixed before having lunch over in old town Torrance.

The walker couldn’t lock down, it had a screw loose, which is a bit of poetic writing in itself that is by no means lost on me. I love my grandparents, but they are getting up there.

Grandma does read my blog stuff on occasion though, and if this is one of those times when I just so happen to be vaguely making fun of them, then my apologies! You know I love you both a lot.

However I didn’t want to spend a huge chunk of this post, for as short as it’ll be, talking about my adventures with the old folks today. It’s just my excuse for waiting so long to finish writing the damn thing.

Instead I’d like to spend some time talking about Gladeo.

You all remember Gladeo, right? The internship I jumped into last summer that I’ve stuck with — despite an admittedly sizable chunk of time when I was dealing with medical issues and dropped the ball. But that’s beside the point.

Now that this summer is getting into full swing I’ve started to plan out more work that I’ll be doing for the nonprofit. Trying to find some industries to dig into, interesting representatives to interview, all that good stuff.

Part of that initiating work for me has been going through my blog/website here and fleshing out my ‘Gladeo work’ section. See, a few months back, Gladeo released a brand new, better optimized website. Before there was an awkward split with profiles on careers filling up one site while the highlights on people who work in that industry were on a different site.

Now everything is all together and it looks much more sleek.

Plus, there’s a better indication on the site showing who wrote what pieces, so it’s much easier to cite the profiles and such I’ve worked on if I decide to go out for more job interviews!

As a result, I revamped the Gladeo portion of my blog, like I said. Not only did I add in all of the pieces that I’ve worked on but haven’t had the chance to talk about because they were lost in the editing process as that new site was being finished, I also fixed the wording to reflect terms that we now use.

It isn’t ‘career profiles’ and ‘career highlights’ anymore. Now we’re calling them ‘career profiles’ and ‘spotlights,’ because even Michelle, the founder, realized that the similar nomenclature was a bit confusing from anyone looking in.

Really that’s about all I have to say on the matter, so if you’re interested in reading the work I’ve done for Gladeo you can now check out that page over on the right!

With some work already lining up, I’m hoping to update that page a good bit more over the next few months. I’ll be sure to keep everyone who’s interested in the loop.

In the meantime, if there’s anyone (preferably in the L.A. area) that’s well intertwined in a particular industry, be it entertainment, tech or anything honestly, that you think has an interesting story that could help the youth of the world determine whether they want to go into that kind of career, don’t be afraid to let me know.

I’d be very interested in talking with them!


P.S. In case anyone’s curious, the title of this post isn’t just me fellating myself for doing an amazing job changing a couple of minor details on my own website.

It’s actually a reference to this Yu-Gi-Oh! card name, which I thought had a nice ring to it.

What can I say, I have the game on the mind after discovering this amazing little thing earlier.

I hope Konami paid well for this little product placement.

The power of the pen(cil)

When I graduated from high school a few years back, my parents got me one of the most important, physical gifts with real-life practicality that I have ever received:

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That’s right, a pen and pencil set.

It seems a little bit strange to pick apart over 21 years of constant, loving support and choose something like this as an example of something I regard so fondly.

But it does make sense if you think about it!

As a writer by trade, there are few things more important than the right hardware. Notebooks, pencils, pens, audio recorders, etc. I quite literally live my life by these items through my college student/journalist career.

Add onto that a heaping dose of superstition by my allocating generous amount of credit for things like my grades into the old ‘lucky pencil’ cliché and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any of this stuff leave my side.

The thing that really stands out to me, however, is the dichotomy of the two writing utensils. Those differences are essentially what inspired me to write this silly little post.

Just a quick look up-close will show you why. This is the pen part of the set:

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Rather nice and clean, even arguably near-perfect for how long I’ve had it, as I mostly use this thing to mark dates on my calendar.

My dad is a fan of fountain pens, and I’ve seen him spend a lot of time keeping them pristine. This pen isn’t quite up to that standard, but I still feel a happy amount of pride seeing the thing look so nice.

Now compare that to the pencil:

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Talk about grungy and well-used. Pretty much the exact opposite of the pen.

It’s a perfect depiction of the difference in quality that comes from use, because I seriously use this sucker for everything. It’s worn down, with some of the metal finish scraping off throughout and the grip toward the tip starting to rust and smooth off.

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Even the back of the pencil is a shadow of its former self with an eraser that’s used completely down to the nub. I actually have to take the whole thing apart just to add extra lead into the thing.

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Compared to the pen, you might think that the pencil being in such a worn-down, kind of disgusting state would drive me crazy.

You’d be right, to an extent. There are moments where I get some raw spots on my fingers from the messy grip, which inevitably serves to leave my hand smelling like worn metal for a time.

Arguably there’s something to be said about my right hand just being a greasy mess. That’s probably the only explanation as to why the pencil would get to this point, and it’s a clear symptom of my overuse.

Yet I think the dichotomy between the pencil and the pen are part of what I’ve come to love about these things so much in the years that I’ve had them. Not only are they great utensils, reminiscent of a nice time in my life given their association with my high school graduation, but they also represent two sides of my psyche at some deeper level:

The somewhat OCD side that prefers to keep things clean; and the hard-working side that will keep working away at the same thing over-and-over until its worn-down and well-remembered.

Or perhaps I’m just putting too much thought into something otherwise negligible.

Who am I to say?

May 9, 2018 Article Published

Welcome to the part of the semester where my stories are written on borrowed time.

Not because I’m dying, of course! Though with finals around the corner it certainly feels that way…

No, I would consider this piece written on borrowed time because, frankly, I was planning on being done writing for the paper this semester. More time to focus on the aforementioned finals along with projects and all that good stuff.

But when the call came over Slack to help cover an ASI meeting during a time I had available, I couldn’t resist the allure of extra points.

Okay that’s not true, I have more than enough points for the semester. It was mostly a feeling of obligation not to let the news desk fall apart without a story.

Despite the fact that I had to come in early for the two-and-a-half hour meeting, followed by another two straight hours of hardcore writing focus that really burned me out, I’d say it was pretty worth the ride.

This meeting was the last one for the 2017-18 academic year, so it was a huge housecleaning bonanza. Seriously, they passed 20 items ranging from resolutions supporting or denouncing things to bylaw changes.

Because of the huge range of topics covered at the meeting, there were a bunch of people there that made it more interesting than such a long event otherwise would have been.

I got to hand out a bunch of business cards for future sourcing and say goodbye to some members of the Board that I’ve talked before to who are graduating.

Plus, it does help that some important things went on at the meeting. In the story, I mainly focused on the fact that $12,000 were allocated to the Tuffy’s Basic Needs Center, a new firm was confirmed that will perform audits on ASI for the next three years, it was made easier to recall student government leaders and some policy statements were reformatted.

However way more happened at the meeting that I just didn’t have the space to focus on outside of a listicle at the end. For example, they supported my somewhat-consistent beat material Project Rebound through a resolution. That was pretty cool to see!

On top of that, they passed a resolution supporting victims of gun violence, approved the use of a consent calendar for future meetings and just so much more.

I also had a chunk of my article originally allocated to the graduating members passing the torch along to the upcoming leaders… But again, spacing required that be taken out.

It’s too bad, because I had a nice exchange where the current Board chair Nicholas Jakel reflected on lessons he’d learned, followed by the upcoming ASI President talking about lessons he’s taking from people who are leaving… But hey, that’s the business.

If you want to see my story in its entirety, check it out here. You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

May 3, 2018 Article Published

My piece out in the Daily Titan today is actually pretty serious, so I’m going to skip over the tomfoolery and get straight into talking about what has been happening.

As we approach the end of the Spring 2018 semester, a bunch of the reporters in Comm 471 have been working on a large-scale project about local and on-campus restaurants. It’s essentially a means of getting enterprise points for multiple members of the class, but it has also given us the opportunity to do some heavier reporting.

Given the fact that I’m the most experienced person in that class, our advisor has also made me essentially the project lead on this endeavor. So even though only one part of everything here technically has my byline, I’m going to talk about all of it.

The project has been split into two days, with everything in today’s paper focused specifically on restaurants surrounding CSUF, their health code violations and why those violations are in place to protect the safety of consumers. The on-campus stuff is coming sometime next week.

Three stories were published with the first part of the series:

First and foremost was the ‘headlining’ story, the one I wrote alongside Jennifer Garcia about restaurant violations.

Where do I even begin with this one.

I actually wasn’t even supposed to be credited on it at first. That’s probably as good a place to start the story as any. Originally, my job on the series was to be a de facto project lead next to Bonnie and create an interactive map based on the inspection reports of local restaurants surrounding CSUF.

The restaurant map wound up being pretty easy and fun to do all things considered, and I actually did most of it in one day when I was home sick a few weeks ago.

If you want to see where the 55 restaurants I looked at stand based on their inspection results out of the Orange County Health Care Agency, you’re in luck:

I enjoy how the map overall turned out, even if it has given me many reasons not to ever walk into a couple of places ever again. Plus I’m not very snobby when it comes to telling other people where not to go…

But that’s another story.

While my piece here was finished early on, the other stories meant to go around it had some growing pains. Bonnie changed what the focus of the pieces were going to be and asked me to jump on this story so I could help the writer, Jennifer, incorporate information from my research that was needed to flesh out why certain restaurants were bad.

Eventually that took the form of a story in which we more deeply analyzed the five restaurants that all needed two reinspections following their initial inspections.

From there everything has a pretty straight forward through-line. Talked to the managers of a bunch of restaurants to give them the chance to talk about what we were writing, got in touch with the OC Health Care Agency to find out more about the inspection project, threw it all together and here we are.

Granted production night last night was a bit of a nightmare with me having to be off at class for part of it, only for people to think there were things wrong that weren’t actually wrong despite the fact that I wound up having to adjust the map anyway as we decided to add more into it at the last minute…

But it all worked out in the end, and I’m definitely not sick and tired of staring at any of this stuff.

I promise.

Second on the docket was a piece about food poisoning.

Written with the cooperative effort of four writers who each contributed various things,

I didn’t actually help to write this story or the next one, so i don’t exactly have as much to say about either as I did for my own piece, but in this case I can at least comment on the photo illustration that was included.

For anyone curious as to how the “Illnesses associated with raw or undercooked foods” illustration came about, it all started with our advisor actually bringing in a bunch of food to the newsroom. Along with our very artsy photo editor Gabe, we arranged the food on a picnic table cloth in the multimedia room.

There were also some goofier items like fake fish we considered throwing into it, but for this kind of serious project we decided against it.

Not all of the food on the image was actually there, however. I’m not sure how noticeable it is, but the raw chicken, sushi, eggs and milk were all added in after the fact. All-and-all I’d say it was done rather well.

Fun fact, originally when we had planned on running this series of stories during Comm Week, the food poisoning story was the only one that was finished enough to be ready to go.

I’m not sure who that fact would be fun for, but hey. In case someone out there was curious about the chronology of all this, there you go.

Finally, we also ran a story about vermin and why they’re a problem. Even if that subject seems fairly obvious from the outside.

Though to be fair I suppose you can say that about all of these stories, so I digress.

Again I don’t have all that much to add about this piece since I arguably had the least amount of involvement with it. We had originally planned on holding the vermin story for day two of the package, but quite literally the night before it was decided we were going to include it.

I gave the writers a list of restaurants that had violations cited for cockroaches based on the extensive research I had done, but otherwise the story was completely independent.

Kristine and Jacob did a nice job with it, so I’ve got to give them some credit alongside everyone else who has been working so hard with everything involved in this series.

I’m going to include each part of the food/restaurant series over in my archive on the right, as I figure at the very least I can argue I was an overseer of sorts on the project, but every story credit undoubtedly goes to the individual writers.

They’re all way up toward the top of the news search when you look up the Daily Titan on Google, which is always a nice feeling.

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Stay tuned for more coming up, and let me know if you have second thoughts about some of these restaurants based on the work we’ve done. God knows I do.

April 30, 2018 Article Published

So fair warning, this story feels like it’s probably the most self-serving thing I’ve ever written and I don’t have too much to say about it.

As I’m sure anyone who follows my exploits on this blog knows, I spent a good amount of time this weekend at awards banquets (the Comm Awards and SPJ for those who missed out). That time I spent was actually just the tip of the iceberg as far as what the Daily Titan has seen this year in terms of awards, however.

Despite the fact that I would argue the whole exercise of having someone write an article about awards who has been involved in said awards seems a bit conflict-of-interest laden, we were inspired by papers like the New York Times who always point out stories they’ve won awards for and decided to do it ourselves.

Naturally I was thrown the piece on deadline since I was the news assistant on shift.

Overall it wasn’t a difficult story to write. The really difficult part was compiling the list of every award we’ve won over the last year or so. Forty is the magic number, for anyone curious.

Yours truly is involved in a number of them.

However the stand-out award was easily the Hearst that our former Sports Editor Bryant Freese won for the story on a former women’s basketball coach that he essentially got fired for being bad. While you’re over on my article please check that out, it’s definitely worth the read.

I say that genuinely too. It’s probably one of the three sports stories I’ve read in the last… Seven years of doing journalism.

Anyway though, that’s enough plugging someone else. I’m here to plug me.

If you want to see me fellate our newspaper and talk about things I’ve won and things my colleagues have won, you can check it out here. It’s actually pretty worth it to see the list of everything, which my editor Amy and I used as an opportunity to link out to all of the stories involved.

You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!