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!
Boy it has been a while since I’ve gotten anything up here, hasn’t it?
I could wax on for a while about how I’ve been really busy with school and haven’t had the time to blog anything… But I’ll probably be complaining about how busy I was yesterday when working on this story so I don’t want to bog things down too much.
Yesterday I was super busy.
Monday’s have been a massive time suck for me this semester thanks to having classes blocked from 11:00 a.m. (requiring my morning to begin at 9:00 a.m. at least due to my commute) to 5:00 p.m., but yesterday added an extra commitment.
After that last class of the day I also had to cover a story from 5:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. A story that was due on deadline that night, which left me also hanging out at the newsroom until 11:30 p.m. or so.
Hence why I slept in so late today and haven’t gotten to this blog post until now.
The late night event I covered started as a little bit of connective serendipity. Paolena, one of our writers on the paper from last semester and a friend I was in a few classes with before that, hit me up because an old source she had talk to pitched a story.
That student was Sara Salinas, the president of Cal State Fullerton’s Generation United Nations group. GenUN was hosting a resource fair with local school clubs and nonprofit organizations to bring attention to work on the homeless situation in Orange County in light of recent events at the Santa Ana riverbed.
The story of putting this article together was actually an interesting one. 99 percent of what I perceived the piece was going to be was written over the weekend using pre-reporting information. I didn’t want to be stuck too deep in the trap of boring, basic event coverage, so I tried to build up some background regarding the OC homeless situation.
Of course having that basic story drawn up was beneficial, but it discounted the fact that I got way more good stuff at the event itself than I had expected to.
One of the more disappointing things about how the piece turned out was that I think it got cut a little too trim in the editing process. I had a bunch of really nice conversations that didn’t wind up making it in the final version: With CSUF students interning at HIS House, with a representative of City Net, with a formerly homeless student and with the secretary of GenUN who brought everyone together.
I tried to remedy some of that with additional photos and embedded tweets in the online version of the story, and by passing some names along for potential future articles, but I still think this article could have been more substantial.
Despite that, I really like how it turned out given the wider focus of the issue adding onto the event coverage, so I’ll leave it at that and hope I at least did everything justice.
If you want to check out my story in its entirety, you can read it here. You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
Yes this is a silly sounding title, but I to distracted and missed a day so I have to catch up now.
Somehow I wound up publishing three articles this week. A breadth of articles for many different sections. It has admittedly been exhausting… But also fulfilling in a deeply personal kind of way.
But also ALSO good for the fact that it fills the coffers of points I need to pass Comm 471. So that’s a plus.
The first story I was working on is actually the second one that was published. Hopefully that won’t get too confusing as I try to lay things out in the order that it all happened.
My last 471 desk rotation was with opinion. Though I haven’t had the most time to work for that desk specifically, I did quite enjoy writing my surfing piece not too long ago.
Because of that I wanted to write another piece before getting switched over to the lifestyle desk. Unfortunately, it took me a while to come up with anything I actually had a serious opinion on that was worth writing… But eventually I came to the idea.
During the national walk-out high schools across the nation participated in to protest current gun control laws, something that happened which I found particularly interesting was multiple Viacom networks halting their programming during the time of the walk-out in support of the students.
One of those networks was famed Spongebob cash cow Nickelodeon. Now I love Nick. Or at least I have in the past, to be fair I haven’t exactly watched anything there in a while.
But I do love the fact that the children-centric network decided to support children in their political escapades.
Now, that’s not necessarily taking a stance for or against gun control. I do have my opinions on that, but to be frank I don’t feel like I’m knowledgable enough to be able to present a case one way or the other. I just happen to think that we should encourage everyone to be as active in our democracy as possible so it can continue to thrive.
If that encouragement happens to come from a television network, so be it. They certainly seemed to do everything amicably enough.
While I have been working on that opinion piece for some time, part of the reason it did not come out until today was because I got sidetracked doing a different story.
So I sat down with him this week to talk about it. And the information I got actually stood out enough that I jumped into high gear to get out a story that night.
That’s right, once again my sports clubs rabbit hole left me doing a rushed deadline night story. Gotta love the high pressure side of the job, am I right?
Following leads I got from my chat with Vigil in that he was overseeing the clubs and beginning the process to seek out her replacement, I started to reach out all over the school. Both over the phone AND on foot. I wandered around back and forth quite a bit that day.
Eventually I was able to get my hands on the Assistant Director of Student Life and Leadership, the financial chair of the Sports Clubs Inter-Club Council and the Director of C-real — an organization which handles things like external reviews that has a name I don’t really feel like writing out in full here. It’s in the story, don’t worry.
Oh, and did I mention, in the middle of doing these interviews I also got pushed off on a couple of others and got a call from the Cinema and Television Arts professor who I spoke to for some general background regarding my opinion piece.
Needless to say I was exhausted that night, and the exhaustion carried over to yesterday when I had a day packed with classes and Boom events.
So that should make the long story (relatively) short in explaining why I didn’t post about my news article yesterday, and am instead lumping it together with my opinion piece today.
God am I looking forward to Spring Break.
If you want to see my news piece in its entirety, you can check it out here. For my opinion piece on Nickelodeon, look no further than this link.
Or, in a radical twist, if you’re interested in seeing my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan, check it out over on the right!
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!
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!
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!
I had an interesting full-circle kind of experience today.
Way back when, during my time at Redondo Union High School working under the advisor Mitch Ziegler (who I will affectionately call Zeus since good habits are hard to kill), I participated in a number of write-off competitions.
The competitions essentially featured speakers standing in as important figures for an important story topic, where students had the chance to listen to a presentation before asking question through a press conference. All of the information gathered in a limited amount of time would then have to be written into a substantial article, also within a given time limit, to be judged by a panel of experts.
When I took part in then, the write-offs came in a number of forms. The main ones were full-scale competitions at state or national journalism conferences. I participated in a few of those in high school and actually got some awards:
However, the important kind of write-offs for this particular blog post were the practice, local-level competitions that Zeus would put together at Redondo Union using professors as speakers and alumni as judges.
If that weren’t enough of a hint, let’s get to the point.
As a now three-or-so-year alumni, I hopped on the opportunity to act as a judge at the practice write-off competition held this morning when Zeus asked who would be available in our alumni Facebook page.
The opportunity was actually offered a couple of weeks ago, but it was cancelled that day and pushed off until now. Luckily, I was still available to come in, so I wound up having the chance to give back to the place that gave me my start in journalism.
Now… Where to begin with my discussion of the day…
I suppose we can start with the place.
As my lovely (hopefully not too distorted) panoramic picture shows, the side of the competition I presided over was held in my alma mater’s lovely culinary arts room – which is stationed right next to the journalism room, I might add.
I’ll be honest, I never spent a lot of time in there despite that close proximity. The one time I did I was doing a write-off I participated in, if I recall correctly. So it was interesting to be sitting in there, listening to the presentation/press conference and just kind of taking everything in.
It really is a lovely set-up.
I probably should have taken some culinary classes during my time here, in hindsight.
But that’s a tangent I don’t really need to get into right now.
This write-off’s topic was an interesting one. The speakers were an imaginary school’s principal, journalism advisor and newspaper editor in chief speaking to the crowd about an issue of the school’s paper that was subject to prior restraint for addressing marijuana.
That was the news and opinion set-up at least, but since that was the one I sat in on as the news judge it was all I saw. I did hear the sports story was about an ultimate frisbee team and the features story was about a student entrepreneur, but I can’t offer much more past that.
After everyone had finished asking questions (with some key ones missing to be fair, as a couple of the other judges and I discussed amongst ourselves), the kids had an hour to put everything together.
During that time, the rest of us got to sit around, eat bagels and just talk about life. It was actually pretty interesting just in that one other person I used to work on the High Tide with, Zach Hatakeyama, was there as well. Pretty cool to get the chance to catch up with him a little.
Once that period of writing ended, it was up to us to start judging as all the kids went off to eat or… Do whatever they did.
As the news guy, I wound up with four news stories to edit and judge.
To be completely honest right off the bat… They varied in quality. At least one was really great, but the rest were all across the spectrum.
The thing that was great about it nonetheless, however, was the fact that no matter how good any one person’s story was, I was able to offer them advice on what to improve on for the future:
That was really the best part about this whole thing in my opinion. Like I mentioned earlier, these write-offs wound up meaning a lot to me personally, so being able to give back and help the next generation of journalists improve was awesome.
Plus… I got to put shiny stickers on certificates.
Then I got to watch everyone’s excited faces as they got handed those shiny sticker-adorned certificates:
But that’s not all. Everyone who participated in the write-off today will be moving on into the state level competition because of how many competed in each category, which is just great. I feel all the better about providing some of my multiple-years-removed expertise knowing that they’ll be able to apply it at a much larger venue soon.
And finally, as if that weren’t enough to explain why this was a great afternoon… Zeus took us out to lunch for helping him out.
Really you can’t go wrong with a good burger and catching up with some old friends.
I’d even say it made up for the fact that he forgot to tell me what time to show up this morning.
P.S. – I was smart enough to know what time the older version was, so I did still show up on time. Just in case anyone was concerned.
Well, the piece I wrote with Brandon about the address is officially live and in print as of today.
There was originally some confusion surrounding the article as I was expecting us to have something written the night of. However, apparently our plan was to go around and get some more reactions from various campus groups regarding what President Trump said.
It would have been nice if Brandon hadn’t forgotten to tell me that night so I didn’t show up to the newsroom, finding it empty… But that’s all water under the bridge now.
If anything, I do agree with the position now that we’re past it, since the story came out much better with some time to marinate.
Not only did we have plenty of reactions from the College Republicans (who had an interesting watch party that featured a number of extra guest appearances, such as Congressional District 39 candidate Andrew Sarega), I also talked with Romarilyn Ralston from Project Rebound about the comments made regarding prison reform and Brandon talked to a member of the Black Student Union to get a more generally left-leaning perspective.
In the end I think the extra opinions definitely made the piece better. I just hope we don’t get a lot of pushback for this coming out so late after the State of the Union… We wrote the bulk of the thing last Wednesday, but wanted to make sure it went through the full wringer before we put it out in the world.
Oh, also it’s worth noting that I took pictures for this event. Not a lot of them wound up getting used for the story proper, but it’s just one recent example of me trying to practice my multimedia skills.
Between that and a few other events I’ve been taking pictures for, I’ve found that I actually kind of enjoy doing photography more than I expected to. It’s weird to say having always categorized myself as such a hardcore print writing specialist, but it’s nice to just zone out and take photos for a while.
I also have way more respect for our photo desk and how much they do now that I have a better grasp on what it’s like.
The watch party was an interesting thing to cover and take photos for in part because there was a photographer from TIME Magazine there as well, apparently doing a longer-form piece on Republican college-level activism in California.
While that’s probably something to leave for another day, I thought it was kinda cool all the same. Even if having two people walking around made the room feel much more cramped than it already was.
With all that said, if you’re interested in reading our article, you can check it out here. But of course, if you want to see my full archive of work, you can look at it over in the archive to the right.
For now I’ve got to go. There’s class in about a half hour and I have three or four other articles on my back burner that I need to finish, so expect to see some more coming out soon.
Seriously though, for just a momentary how the sausage is made, I’m starting to write this as I’m walking from my parking spot in Lot A to my first class of the day at the Humanities and Social Sciences building (which for those of you who have not been to Cal State Fullerton, is a literal cross-campus walk) because I was so awe-struck by the force of nature on display today.
The wind was so strong that not only was it making it hard for me to open my door, but it also slammed the door shut behind me. Like actually slammed it. Probably could have hurt me if I was in the path of the door!
Don’t know why that struck me so poignantly today, but I felt it was worth noting before I got into my articles.
That said… Let’s talk about my articles published today.
Once again we had a weeklong issue, our last one before we begin daily productions next week. So once again I took the extra time to write two stories.
The first was a much quicker project. It was a crime story based on a tip we received from our Layout Editor Tracy. I talked with University Police Captain Scot Willey about it, and though he did not know a lot about the actual incident, we did talk a bit about the procedure and recommendations surround it.
Essentially, the police got a suspicious person call regarding a non-student in the Pollak Library who was believed to be watching pornography on one of the library’s computers. The officers who responded did not find anything necessarily suspicious, but the call was enough that they asked the man to leave and he readily complied.
No super huge crime drama here, but it does include a good couple pieces of advice that I think could be applicable even outside of our own personal University Police jurisdiction. Plus, in some roundabout way, I got to write about pornography in the school newspaper. So that’s a pretty special occasion in its own right.
If you want to read that article, check it out here.
The second piece I wrote was far more involved and frankly became one of my favorite articles… Well, ever really. But probably more for the intrinsic reasonings behind it.
A mainstay of our coverage of Cal State Fullerton on the Daily Titan, as I would assume stands for all college newspapers, is attending and deep-diving into the Academic Senate. It’s essentially a governing body akin to a City Council after all, just with more of a direct impact on the campus proper.
In the past our Academic Senate writers have not been… Fantastic, in my experience. That’s not to say they’re at fault necessarily, it’s a touch subject to jump into for someone with little-to-know governmental reporting experience – or reporting experience in general for that matter. However, because it has such an impact on the campus, I’ve always felt bad that it never seems to get the care and attention it otherwise deserves.
So I put my money where my mouth was and covered a meeting of my own this last week.
It turned out that I picked a good meeting to cover at that, since the main decision of the meeting was plenty interesting. Easily passed on the consent calendar was a proposal requesting that the Asian American Studies program on campus undergo an administrative change to become a full-on department in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Now, just because it passed at the Academic Senate doesn’t mean we have a new department already. The decision actually acts as more of a recommendation to pass the proposal, with the president’s office receiving the documentation to make a final decision sometime about a week after the meeting according to Academic Senate Chair Stephen Stambough.
Luckily, I had preempted that this decision would be the most interesting part of the meeting judging by the agenda we received ahead of time, and I spent some time doing interviews with people like the coordinator of the program, Eliza Noh, to get a better understanding of its history and why the faculty hoped to move it up to department status.
In essence it was presented that shifting into a department would create no new burden on the school because Asian American Studies already operates so closely to a department. It would mostly effect things like the professors’ letterhead and allow them to be more widely recognized as an official mainstay at CSUF.
The coordinator and Thomas Fujita-Tony, the liaison between Asian American Studies and the Academic Senate, were quite happy about the development. As was most of the rest of the chamber given their cheer when the decision was made.
Also, just as an extra teaser, this article had probably one of my favorite little scene openers ever. So if you want to see that or are just generally interested in a small dive into a program meant to flesh out otherwise probably dull meeting coverage story, check out my article here.
I also quite liked this one because I went out of my way to get some extra visuals for online only, so I consider it an extended cut compared to the print version.
As always, you can also see the full archive of my work for the Daily Titan over on the right.