Tag: LA Times

Art vs. The Artist

Art vs. The Artist

A few weeks ago, I quoted the YouTuber ProJared in my Gaming in American Culture essay.

The crux of my research has been the effects of Japanese Role-Playing Games on the West. In his Final Fantasy Mystic Quest video, ProJared argues that Japanese developers questioned the competence of the outside world, which led to fewer localizations.

It was a valuable insight for my piece, and I was proud to include his video alongside The Geek Critique in my research material.

YouTube has been a huge part of my life, and I try to promote creators. They don’t have near the notoriety of television and movie stars, yet there is great content worth sharing.

After The Completionist, ProJared has been my favorite part of the “NormalBoots crew” for some time. I enjoyed his style, as well as his opinions on video and tabletop games.

I even recently talked about him pulling me back to the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

It’s a parasocial interaction at heart. I wouldn’t say I idolized him or any other YouTuber in an unhealthy way, but the respect and support I show toward those pseudo-celebrities help inspire me to create, and keep the often dreary day-to-day bearable.

This is all to say that I started from an inherently biased position in this conversation.

If you’ve been on Twitter, you already know about how ProJared’s life imploded in a matter of hours. It’s been the #1 trending topic for almost a full day.

If you’re reading this in the future, you can catch up with this Kotaku article.

In spite of how public the issue has become thanks to the people involved, it’s a very private affair that I honestly have no right involving myself with.

The only place I can speak from is that of a former fan whose respect for an online figure has evaporated in an unexpected instant.

A philosophical concern has been weighing heavy on me since late last night:

How much joy are you able to retain from a figure you used to respect — and followed for years — in the time before their skeletons were out of the closet?

This issues with parasocial interactions aren’t new. Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson are two relatively recent examples of celebrities whose actions have begged the question, “how much we should separate the artist from their art?”

But YouTubers are more prominent for me, and tend to be “famous” in smaller communities that they interact with more to create relationships.

I’ve grappled with the recent downfalls of a few people I followed actively.

Just a month before ProJared, TheKingNappy (a Pokémon YouTuber of some acclaim) also received accusations that dampened my enthusiastic support and led to his disappearance from the Internet.

In each of those cases, I’m plenty willing to move on and continue supporting other wonderful creators. But that doesn’t mean their removal is painless.

My immediate reaction to each scandal was almost exactly the same:

  • “What will happen to Nappy’s current Soul Link with ShadyPenguinn?”

Followed by…

  • “There goes the rest of Jared’s Super Metroid/Link to the Past randomizer.”

The thoughts of a spurred fan seem uncalled for, even selfish considering the people who have been genuinely hurt in real life.

And I by no means hope to disparage the victims in these stories because “they took my favorite YouTubers away.”

Yet I believe the reason these thoughts spring to mind are important.

I have given years to some of these personalities, and their current endeavors thrive because of the respect and trust they’ve engendered in this parasocial interaction.

ProJared’s videos have meant enough to me that I thought to quote him in an academic capacity. Plus, he’s also one of the main reasons I started playing Monster Hunter.

TheKingNappy, in a similar vein, introduced me to a community that has foster further love for my favorite series of video games. He’s why I’ve played Pokémon Conquest and the GameBoy TCG title.

All of the times I’ve enjoyed their work and respected their opinions are still there. But now, they seem tainted — it’s hard to come to terms with that.

How much can I still appreciate the time invested in retrospect?

How much can one separate the art from the artist in light of new, changed opinions?

I don’t have an answer to this question. But I think it’s worth posing, because my mindset has honestly contributed to the stressful situation of my last semester at college.

If anyone out there has any insight into this dilemma, I’d love to field some ideas.

Strange Associations: Irvine band competition edition

Strange Associations: Irvine band competition edition

Tonight my family and I braved the smoke-ridden California atmosphere to head out to Irvine for the California State Band Championship semi-finals, where Alyson and the RUHS band performed.

I’m not sure whether it’s wrong of me to talk about that while people in areas actually ablaze right now are surviving a horrible tragedy? But the fires have been so intense that the South Bay has seen huge clouds of dust, and we were treated to a bright red sun on the way into Orange County.

Full credit to my mom for snagging this one out the window.

So we might not have it as bad as somewhere like Malibu, to get images like this one I’ve seen circulating out of the LA Times:

But I still felt like it was worth mentioning.

Now let’s get into the meat of this post, shall we?

… Or at least, that’s what I would say. If there was some to get into.

I’m caught in a bit of an awkward position when it comes to talking about this competition. It’s all about a number of marching bands from across the state coming together to perform musical and visual shows so they can earn a spot in the finals.

I don’t think there’s a monetary benefit involved? Unless you consider a school’s potentially increased willingness to fund an award-winning program.

The problem comes when that musical and visual performance is best captured on video, but we’re not allow personal video recording of the performances because the organization is doing “professional recordings” and wants you to buy their video.

I’m not sure I could feasible argue this is a professional venue, and I’d rather not deal with a headache if it turns out they’re the kind of organization that sues if you break the rules.

So brief pictures will unfortunately have to do.

Like this one I got out of the performance by Troy High School:

The drum major actually did something unique by wearing that cloak and performing the prologue ballet for their show on that guitar there.

It was a bit goofy because the whole thing was leading up to a fantasy love story. But it was different and I appreciated that.

Of course I also tried to get Aly’s band performing their show Imagine, which is a somewhat bizarre blend of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Ironically relevant to me this semester if I hadn’t made that obvious enough already.

However, that’s about as exciting as I can get with this whole experience.

So I figured I would harken back to an older post I did and talk about more strangely specific video game-related associations I’ve had thanks to this competition.

The drive out brought back a memory from over two years ago. Way back to those days when instead of trying to do daily posts, I just wrote about a few things of interest whenever they came up.

Like brand new details about the as-of-yet released Pokémon Sun and Moon.

Boy those were the days, weren’t they? Everyone was so eager to eat up each and every little detail they could about the much anticipated Generation 7.

I miss that kind of game hype.

But now I’m getting sidetracked. All I wanted to say was that the drive reminded me of writing this blog post, specifically the Type: Null portions, in the car.

Which in turn drudged up the chunk about Tsareena and Bounsweet that I wrote in the stands that night.

That’s not where my gaming-centric connections end, though.

The competition is taking place at Irvine High School, where we’ve been here for a different band event in the past.

When we were here last it must have been a few years ago as well, because I distinctly remember playing Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright at the time. In fact I can do you one better and pinpoint the exact mission I was struggling through.

Mitama’s unlocking mission: Paralogue 12, as I looked up.

However… Just talking about that reminds me that I keep putting off that Fire Emblem Heroes post, which is focused on Fates characters.

So I’m going to try and cut my losses by wrapping things up here.

Would only be right to do so with the results. Aly and the RUHS band got fifth place, so they are going on to the finals. Because the top six teams make it through.

I guess here’s to next week when I’ll be doing this all over again!

Receiving the Carl Greenberg Scholarship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The rest, as they say, is history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Three

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Three

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.

For those of you who are just tuning in now for some reason, you can read my reflections on the first two days here [ Day One ] and here [ Day Two ].


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.

img_2013

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.

img_7564

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.

My session.


Covering Milo Yiannopoulos

img_7586

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:

To running through everything going on for our attendees:

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:

img_7571

… 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.

Speaking of…


The Ending Keynote: Dirty John

img_7572

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:

  1. The story always comes first.
  2. 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.
  3. In a hyper competitive podcasting space, experience with prior reporting will offer an advantage.
  4. Having the right equipment is important.
  5. You will never know what words you have been mispronouncing your entire life until you have to say it in a professional space.
  6. Even if your podcast can reach more people, use it to draw attention to print.
  7. Always think about the cat (or whatever other noise obstructions there might be).
  8. Your work shouldn’t be about you, as interesting as you may be.
  9. Stop saying ‘uh huh’ during your interviews on tape. Learn to nod your head.
  10. 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.

In fact, I’ve already downloaded it.

Pardon my dumb late-night repetition of ‘excited’ too many times.


Awards Galore

img_7584
The Daily Titan squad, present and past.

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.

Shout out to Tusk Magazine as well, which won sixth place in the feature magazine category.

Double shout out to the ACP organization, which gave us a first place trophy with the handle broken that they promised they would send a replacement for.

Triple shout out to everyone who was there with us, which in the picture above boils down to (from left to right) our advisor Bonnie, prior Tusk advisor and my old Comm 201 professor Frank Russell, assistant journalism professor Chelsea Reynolds, Spring 2017 Daily Titan EIC Hayley M. Slye and CSUF College of Communications department chair Jason Shepard.

That’s a mouthful.

Once those awards were over, there was really no rest.

Just across the foyer from that main pavilion of the convention was a ballroom where the California College Media Association 2018 awards banquet was held.

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.

img_7583

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!

Other Daily Titan stories that were awarded included Kaleb’s “IT” movie review, the initial Canin striking a student story from Sarah and Brandon Pho and a group award for Hannah Miller, Tracy Hoang, Brandon, Megan, Gabe Gandara and Bailey Carpenter for the multimedia package around Brandon’s Milo night-of story.

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.

Really, who can complain about that?

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day One

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day One

Today has been one of those days.

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.

 

Fun stuff.

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.



img_7524

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:

img_7526

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

img_7528
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.

These tools included:

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.

img_7531

The only serious downside to this whole presentation was… Well…

The internet was really bad.

img_7529

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

img_7534
The opening keynote of this convention was particularly interesting to me.

Back when I first started working for the Daily Titan, my very first front page dominant article tied into the shooting in San Bernardino in late 2015. I wrote about how police on campus were stepping up their training following the shooting, and it got linked to the more important revelation that a former CSUF student was one of the shooters.

I still have a copy of that story hanging up on the wall in my room.

So, when I found out that the keynote’s panel was going to be four LA Times reporters who covered the shooting and received a Pulitzer Prize for their work, I was very interested.

I wasn’t the only one.

img_7535

I was also joined by our current Opinion editor Briggetta at this part of the afternoon, which was nice because she was the only other Fullerton representative I saw all day.

Also because she’s cool. Go follow her stuff.

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.”


South American Newspaper Design

My 4:30 p.m. session with Cal State Long Beach professor Danny Paskins was a nice change of pace after the downer that was the San Bernardino panel.

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:

  • Cut-out pictures
  • Colors
  • Overlapping images
  • Sports coverage

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

img_7543

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:

  1. End a feature story not with a quote, but with your own words.
  2. Get a writing buddy to share stories and teach one another interesting stuff.
  3. 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.


The Afterparty

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:

img_7547

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.

img_7546

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.

img_7549

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!