Tag: Newspaper

Editorializing

Apparently I’m such a good Daily Titan employee that even after leaving the staff I’m still winning awards and getting copy filled in print.

Is something I would say if I were being self-serving and full of myself. Because yes, I am here to talk about how I technically have some sort of byline in the Daily Titan today.

It’s just a bit more complicated than that. So this post is going to be dedicated more to me figuring out exactly how I want to classify this than it is just talking about what it is in detail.

However I can’t just be vague and dance around things forever, so here’s some context.

The president of Cal State Fullerton’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter whipped up an editorial to run in the paper regarding President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric in the aftermath of events like the bomb threats last week.

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The editorial was meant to coincide with a statement put out by the national SPJ President Alex Tarquinio a few weeks back. Pretty much everyone on the board for our SPJ chapter got to read over the piece, comment our potential concerns and sign off on it in the end.

It’s hard not to argue that President Trump’s rhetoric has caused or at least perpetuated some issues for members of the press as well as the general public, so I was plenty willing to sign my name to the statement. Overall it actually made for a cool little coming together group moment that I haven’t gotten a lot of thanks to my asymmetrical schedule compared to the rest of the board people.

I’m just not entirely sure whether or not I can now take the statement and use it as an example of something I was involved with as an SPJ board member. Technically yes, my name is on it and it’s a statement by the board as a whole. But I didn’t really do a lot of work for it.

So if I put the editorial in my list of published stories, would that be weird? Should I make a separate category for things I’ve done as a part of SPJ and include this as a part of that page?

I’m not entirely sure what the proper etiquette would be.

Honestly I don’t think it matters all that much either, but these small issues always seem to be what stress me out the most. See my prior post where I talk about trying to come up with a ‘working title’ for my Honors project in spite of the fact that it literally didn’t matter.

I won’t bore you all much longer with my meaningless internal debate about whether I can credit myself for being part of a group that does a thing.

To end this short post off, I also wanted to give a quick shout out to this issue of the Daily Titan as a whole. While I’ve been reading their stories on my own time, I obviously haven’t put as much energy into promoting the paper as a whole since I’m not on staff this semester. That doesn’t mean the story quality is any worse however, and they’re still worth giving props where it’s due.

For instance, I really like the Midterm voter guide this semester.

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This first page has a great infographic map about voting locations around CSUF, and there’s more details within regarding the congressional races relevant to Fullerton and little blurbs on each of the California propositions.

It all looks really nice and is way more simple overall than some special issues I’ve been a part of in the past, which I would argue is really effective.

So… Yeah.

Support your local papers everyone. They’re important.

Reading on Writing Tools

It’s funny. After spending three-or-four hours locked away writing this ten-page paper for my Mass Media Ethics class, I looked outside and thought it was so late that I missed my window to write something substantial on my blog.

But then I realized it’s only 7:00 p.m. (as of the point where I started writing anyway) despite looking like 11:00 p.m.

Welcome back Winter. How’s it going? Persephone doing alright down with Hades right now?

That’s good, that’s good.

All joking aside, I am actually pretty tired of writing after banging out an extensive essay on ethical philosophies when publishing graphic images in newspapers.

Plus I’m having a pretty fun time watching my dad get real annoyed at the T.V. while the Dodgers seem to be choking out during seventh inning of game five in the World Series.

So I won’t write too much here today. I’ll save some energy for another small Evolution and Creation paper I have to do next probably.

Certainly I won’t bore you all with the particulars of applying concepts like Utilitarianism and Communitarianism to national news publications — go ahead and watch NBC’s “The Good Place” if you want any of that. The show does it in a far more entertaining way than I could.

Instead I think I’ll briefly talk about my next “for fun” reading project. If you want to consider supplemental materials to help with my novel a “fun” book.

Professor Rizzo suggested I take a look at Roy Peter Clark’s book here as a way to pick up on some extra skills for more literary writing.

So far this kind of thing has been one of the early benefits of having a mentor for my Honors Project. Not only do I have an instructor to grade me in classes over the next year, someone who’s willing to read whatever I write and give me advice, but I have someone in my corner with a wealth of experience to be able to recommend books and connections that may help my writing in the long run.

It’s super cool, and I eagerly ran off to Amazon to pick this sucker up after she mentioned it last Tuesday.

Now that is has finally arrived, I’m excited to crack it open and see what I can learn. Thought that was worth sharing with the world, at the very least on the off-chance that you too are looking for some supplemental materials to help with whatever you might be writing.

However I’ll have to personally broach the subject another day, because for now I’m off to homework land once again.

Wish me luck.

A Short Essay on Short Essays

A Short Essay on Short Essays

I don’t know why I insist on writing these posts after going to the gym lately, because really it’s just detrimental for my ability to imagine and write coherent posts.

Though perhaps not as much as the insufferable heat wave yesterday.

I’ll count my blessings where I can.

Speaking of that heat killing all of my motivation, it seems I’ve been fluctuating between work-focused and not at all work-focused quite a bit the past few days. After doing next to nothing yesterday, today I actually got my stuff together enough to be productive. Notably with a job application I’ve been working on that is, admittedly, a far-flung idea for me to feel completely justified talking about in-depth.

Doing that job application has gotten me thinking a little bit about one part of this app, and many others for that matter, that feels somewhat strange to me at the moment.

The personal essay.

I don’t typically put a lot of thought into the idea of writing essays. Growing up I put myself through the wringer of the Advanced Placement course pathway in high school, which included AP Language and AP Literature. We had to write a lot of essays in those classes to prepare us for the AP exams, so I was used to the idea.

Essays also continued to be synonymous with college courses. Every undergraduate-level class has some kind of writing requirement and all of my Communications courses are all about writing.

As a result, you would think essay requirements showing up in job applications would just come in stride.

Which, to be fair, they do for the most part. Whenever I’ve applied for the Daily Titan an essay has always been required, for example.

But for some reason the essay that was asked of me in this current job application stuck out as… The worst, most stand-out part of it.

It took me a little while to figure out exactly why. But I think the conclusion I’ve come to says something about me and the way I tend to approach work.

For me essays make a lot more sense in a job application when they ask for some kind of very specific information. Using the Daily Titan application as an example, the essay portion of that involves answering a couple of questions pertaining to the potential job.

What does the paper do well? What does it not do well? What can you bring to the job you’re applying for that would make it better?

Things like that.

Sure it’s arguably formulaic to go down this route, but the sense of direction those questions bring do make for a straight-forward task. Answering the questions, while utilizing them as conduits for inserting stories of one’s experience as a means of showcasing that individual’s abilities.

The application I’ve been working on doesn’t really have any sort of driving questions like this to give potential employees a sense of direction.

As far as premise goes, this application simply asks for an autobiographical essay to tell the hiring staff something that cannot be garnered from the surrounding questions in the application. Given the fact that it already asks for degree-earning information, references and work samples outside of the essay, that leaves a vague opening for what can be written.

That somewhat vague nature exacerbates a potential pitfall in writing the essay. Or at least it does in my head where I’m more than likely over thinking things, but that’s another story.

If you have an essay for a fairly serious job application essentially asking you to write about anything you want outside of your direct work experience, where is the line in terms of being too casual or not casual enough?

Obviously the whole thing can’t just be the tale of how you won X reward or accomplished Y task, but it’s also probably not great form to do something jokey or entirely non-serious since the serious aspects might be in one’s resume off the bat. Looking like you take the job not at all seriously while applying to it seems like a quick way to lose a potential job.

Now all of this is more of a theoretical thought experiment, as the pragmatic side of me has already sorted out the balance of serious-versus-personal qualities to write about. But seeing my personal preference lean so heavily in the direction of a structured, serious or even academic paper versus one that lets me express myself in an open, even goofy way is interesting. Introspective even.

Perhaps all those years of AP classes really did screw me up for the rest of my life, just like I joke about.

This seems like the perfect opportunity to ask an actually interesting question at the end of one of these blog posts. Where do you feel you stand on the spectrum I described here?

Do you prefer if a job (or anything for that matter) asks structured, serious questions of you? Or more open, vague questions?

Let me know somewhere on the internet, I’d love to hear it!

Figuring out the Facebooks

Figuring out the Facebooks

It’s not very often that I can get meta about the inner workings of this blog I’ve got regarding subjects beyond the simple milestones like post numbers or followers. But today I wanted to do just that because of a somewhat more interesting development affecting the blog completely beyond my control.

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According to information put out by WordPress, the service, Facebook is restricting the ability of third-party tools to automatically publish material on people’s profile pages.

If I were to read between the obvious lines, this change is more than likely a push to fix some of the concerns regarding the social media site’s use by Russian hackers to messing with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Because whether or not you believe President Trump on the argument that Russia was not meddling at all, or they weren’t meddling on his behalf, or whatever the current story is, clearly some shady stuff was going down.

In fact, some shady stuff is still apparently going down. So it isn’t a concern we’re likely to see go away anytime soon.

Facebook has been trying to, at the very least, put its best face forward (pun only somewhat intended) about aiming to regain the trust of the service’s users. Anyone who spends nearly as much time on YouTube as I do, for example, will probably recognize this ad that suddenly started showing up before just about every video in existence a few weeks back:

The cynic in me rolls his eyes pretty hard seeing this ad, as it’s more than likely Facebook cares more about keeping itself alive as a juggernaut business than it does making sure every Joe Schmo out there can still talk with their friends and family like ‘the good old days.’

But there’s also something to be said about the fact that they’re trying to do something rather than just letting everything burn to the ground while pretending that nothing happened.

Even if that something just amounts to customer-facing BS.

I think that’s about as political as I’m willing to get on the subject right now, however. I haven’t done any of my own significant research or reporting and as a result can’t give you all a definitive ‘Facebook is doing it wrong/right’ verdict.

All I can really say is that based on stuff like the reporting out of Vox I linked to up above and the fact that Facebook is changing its third-party integration (the thing this post was supposed to be about, what a circle!), at least there seems to be an effort to improve. Something I’m hopeful isn’t just BS, as I previously mentioned.

Unfortunately that effort to improve does make my personal life a little more difficult.

See the non-political part of this post is here to address the fact that changing integration also changes the way I need to handle my social media with regards to WordPress stuff.

As must be obvious to most people out there, my social media accounts right now are primarily means of creating a wider viewership for my blog posts. Sure I still go through and post independent things on Facebook and Twitter on occasion, but for the most part I actually much prefer the freedom of being able to write as much as I desire here and spreading that to the world instead of dealing with some restriction like 280 characters.

Now that my WordPress posts will no longer automatically publish to Facebook, I’ve arrived at something of a crossroads.

Is it worth going about the extra step of posting my blog activity to Facebook directly?

Or should I just abandon that social media branch entirely?

The obvious choice for my lazy self is the latter. However, even if I don’t think too much of it in my head, there are some benefits to getting my words out on Facebook specifically.

Those benefits more or less boil down to the posts being seen by people who do, at least occasionally, pay attention that wouldn’t be able to continue doing so via Twitter. Family is the big chunk of that demographic, as I’ll see people like my grandparents liking posts out of the blue on occasion. But there’s also some high school friends I’ve got that occasionally like or comment on my posts. Which is pretty cool, to be completely honest. I like knowing that I’ve caught someone’s fancy with something I might not have expected to.

So with that said, I suppose I should thank you all for making it this far into what is ultimately a non-discussion. I pretty much knew from the get-go that my decision would ultimately be to figure out the best way to separately post these up on Facebook.

I just figured it would be a more interesting post if I went into some of the mindset I had leading up to the decision. After breaking away from writing to hit the gym for an hour, I figure I’ve hit a place in the writing and in my energy level to end it here.

Though that said, I suppose this is going to be my first post separately uploaded to Facebook. Because of that please stand by if it takes some time for me to figure out exactly how I want that to work.

A Novel Writing Tool

If there’s one thing I haven’t talked about nearly enough around here, it’s Fire Emblem.

Nah, just kidding. I talk about that way too much.

But I don’t talk about my Senior Honors Project as much as I probably should. Doing so would probably encourage me to make more progress than I have been.

Though that said, I’m here today to talk about the progress I have made, because I have honestly done a good bit outside of hunting for a mentor to approach once the semester kicks off. Like I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to ensure I had some sort of basic product to approach my future mentor with as a showing of faith.

That’s meant interacting with some writers to know exactly what a fictional novel’s book proposal might look like so I can emulate it.

But that’s also meant working on actually starting to lay out and write my novel. Characters were the most difficult hurdle for me to get over, as I had a general idea what kind of plot line I wanted to go with but no serious image for who would be going through it.

Since passing that hurdle I’ve made it a good chunk of the way through my book’s first chapter. I’m hoping to at have at least two done as an example of the eventual overall product.

Outlining has been rather important to me on this current venture. I’ve attempted to write books before you see, but most of them falter when I get less than a chapter in because I don’t actually have a clear idea where I’m going with it. Usually my outings have begun with a vague idea of something that sounds cool with no substance around it.

Also they’ve usually started with the amnesiac protagonist cliché.

I’ve come to see the error of my ways. This book does not start that way, I assure you.

To help avoid a faltering in my progress and keep my thoughts better organized, I’ve turned to a new tool that mom introduced me to after using it for her editing work.

She actually wrote her own blog post about this ‘Master Outlining and Tracking Tool,’ but I wanted to give it my own separate endorsement because it has been a really great thing for me personally and I figure it might be for some of you out there too.

The full, in-depth explanation of how the tool works (and a place to download it) is here on the creator’s website. It undoubtedly does a far better job explaining all the intricacies than I could right now in my Hollow Knight-ed daze, so it’s worth going right to the source.

But I figured I shouldn’t cop-out entirely on this blog post by just pointing to other blog posts. After all, there are many different things in this outlining tool, and I’ve primarily been using only a few of them.

Most notably, like I mentioned, is the story outlining stuff.

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Surprise, an actual sort of sneak peek of part of what I’m planning. Don’t tell nobody, though!

It’s honestly hard to explain how invaluable this kind of section is for someone like me. Out of all the words of advice that the Daily Titan’s advisor Bonnie has given out for improving writing in the three years I’ve known her, the one nailed into my head the hardest would have to be the idea that a story should be able to distill down into a sentence.

There are so many stories for the newspaper I’ve written that have been far better once I knew how I wanted to focus them down.

Thus I’ve been approaching my basic outline here with the same mindset. If I’m able to distill the story down into just a sentence, both for the overall product and the individual chunks of that product, then I can more easily stick to one idea and run with it.

Then there’s the characters, both keeping track of how many are floating throughout the story as a whole and accounting for individual details of the characters in question.

This tool offers both:

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I haven’t personally written out the details for my characters yet since I’ve been focused on the outline. Consider this a secret surprise for later!

There are lots of other things that are helpful in this tool as well.

Tabs to keep track of what different plots are intersecting when.

Tabs to track word count per chapter.

Tabs to organize what chapter hosts what information.

It’s just… Really good stuff. I don’t know what else to tell you guys.

Check it out, use it if you need help keeping organized like me, support the creator… And thank my mom. Because she’s great and finds some cool writing/editing stuff in her free time.

March 21 and 22, 2018 Articles Published

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.

On Tuesday, I sat down with Vincent Vigil, the Director of Student Life and Leadership at CSUF. When I covered Lydia Ayala’s resignation as sports clubs coordinator a few weeks back he was out-of-town, so I wasn’t able to sit down with him about it then.

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!

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Two

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Two

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:

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Technically this was taken later in the day, but the point stands.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.


Breaktime

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.

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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.

Classics.

Anyway yeah, I don’t have a good transition, so here’s the picture we took:

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Shout out to our Opinion Editor Sophia (left), our other News Assistant Breanna (middle) and our Copy Assistant Caitlin (right) for putting up with me being lame for social media engagement.

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

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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

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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!

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.



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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:

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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

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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.

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

The internet was really bad.

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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

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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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

January 22, 2018 Articles Published

Just like that, the daily grind begins once again.

After our first official deadline night of the semester yesterday, I can definitely say that it was a strange experience to once again be sitting in the center of the room as an assistant. Probably the most off-putting thing about it is the fact that I feel more disconnected from the overall workings of the paper than I have in a long time.

Though I did personally get out at a reasonable hour.

Considering that’s going to be happening a lot more this semester, I suppose I can’t complain.

Plus, the usual positives of working at the Titan were at play as usual. Namely getting to spend time with my friends on staff, who for the most part carried over from last semester. In particular it was nice having lunch with our now Social Media Editor Lissete, who is at least one of the people on my list of those I’d like to spend more time with now that I actually have some free time available as an assistant.

I can also certainly never argue with the great feeling that comes with getting content out on that newsprint.

For this first weeklong issue of the semester, I wrote two pieces.

The first, published in the main paper, is an article about current president searches in the Cal State University system. The story idea was originally something I had been discussing with our advisor Bonnie toward the end of last semester when Mildred García announced she would be leaving. At that point, Bonnie had told me that there were four CSU campuses looking for new presidents all at once. I thought it was a really interesting story at the time, but unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to commit to it at that point.

So for our first issue this semester, I finally picked it up.

Granted, the first kick in the pants for me came thanks to a request from Dr. Sexton, who wanted to know the layout of presidents across the system for an article he’s putting together for the LA Times. Compiling that data for him offered me the perfect opportunity to take the work and use it for my own purposes.

After looking through that compiled data to sort out which schools were searching for presidents – CSU Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills and San Diego, for the record – I was also able to find a few other interesting details. For example, only three current CSU presidents started their tenure before 2012. That’s three out of 23, for those who don’t know.

This information is important because it effects CSUF directly. Our new president, Framroze Virjee (who also got a dedicated article in this issue that’s worth the read), is a temporary appointment until June 2019. One of the reasons why the search for the person coming after him doesn’t start until this fall is because the CSU wants to get the current three searches out of the way first.

With all that said, I don’t want to give away my entire article here and now, so go ahead and give it a look here if you want to see some more detail and my interview with a CSU representative. I sort of sat on the piece for a while, but I wound up really liking how it turned out – even if it was basically the sum of an hour’s worth of work particularly finished on the drive to Hof’s Hut on Saturday.

Don’t know why I felt the need to advertise Hof’s Hut, but there you go.

If I had to guess, I’ll probably be pursuing this topic (the president searches, not Hof’s Hut) more in the future.

The second article I wrote went in the special first issue insert, themed after technology this semester. The topic I chose means a lot to me personally: video games.

My article for the Tech Issue is more specifically about the fairly recent addition of gaming disorder onto the World Health Organization’s beta draft for the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Or the WHO’s ICD-11 in much easier, abbreviated terms.

This one is actually the longer of the two pieces I wrote, since it wound up being more like an interesting little passion project for me. I won’t delve too deep into it here since you can check out the article for yourselves, but essentially I laid out exactly what this disorder would entail if it’s added into the ICD-11’s finalized version, talked about some of the history of looking at video games in a critical manner through other organizations like the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 and addressed some of the potential consequences of putting out an official potential diagnosis.

My two interviews, one with a Mihaylo College of Business and Economics professor who specializes in technological addiction, and the other with a School of Nursing professor who specializes in behavioral disorders and substance abuse. The prior wound up taking the most space in the story because I had a long, involved interview with him, while the latter was a little bit more specialized in individual places because we had some issues scheduling our time to talk. Her interview was shorter as a result, but I definitely got some interesting information all the same.

If you want to check out that story, you can here. I’d highly recommend that one actually, in part because I got to do a really fun photo illustration to go along with it.

Essentially, I just brought a lot of my video games and accompanying memorabilia to school so I could do a photo shoot.

The photos turned our phenomenally well thanks to one of our two photo editors this semester, Gabe Gandara, who I remember having a good time with when he came with me to the ASI Board of Directors meeting where they discussed the Milo Yiannopoulos resolution a few months back. Those photos in the story are so good, in fact, that I’m considering using them for my own personal ventures.

We’ll see if that pans out.

Of course, if you want to see any of my pieces for the Daily Titan, you can check out my archive over on the right. Since I’m a part of 471 this semester, you can probably expect me to be writing a bunch of articles to fill that up more than it already is. These two are just the beginning, and I have at least two more slated already for the next two weeks that I have to start working on.

However, for now my priority is getting some rest so I can be prepared for the first day of school tomorrow.

Or… Today technically, since this is coming out the morning of the 22nd. But hey, the human brain works in mysterious ways, so from a temporal standpoint I’m going to write how I feel like writing.

With all that said, good luck to anyone getting their school life going again this week. May we all survive the inevitable slog that is the spring 2018 semester.

Starting off the Spring 2018 Semester

Starting off the Spring 2018 Semester

Before I begin, I’d just like to take a moment to reflect on the fact that I told myself I would do a full week of blog posts to start off the new year and promptly dropped that burning ideation after one post talking about cleaning my room.

Nice going past Jason, your conviction astounds me endlessly.

That’s about enough self-flagellation for one day. This post is actually supposed to be at least somewhat congratulatory after all.

Today was the first day of training for the Spring 2018 semester of the Daily Titan, which means it’s time to begin the cycle anew.

This semester that phrase takes on a whole new meaning as I quite literally return to my DT roots. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m going to be taking Comm 471 this semester, and as a result I did not sign up to be an editor again. Instead I’m going to be an assistant because it offers me the opportunity to still be on the editorial board and cut down my work requirement for the class without being as big a time suck.

While I had been gunning for an assistant position at a desk like Lifestyle where I could get some more varied experience during my shortish break, we’re apparently somewhat short staffed this semester and as a result I was asked to help the news desk with my longtime expertise once again.

Though I’m admittedly a little disappointed at being pigeonholed to an extent, I really can’t complain about being well known enough for doing good work at my passion that I’m asked to go back and help out. The same thing actually happened last semester too when I was passed up for Managing Editor because of the lack of experience at news, so it’s at least nice to feel trustworthy.

On top of that, I am still going to be working with a great team, so it’s also hard to complain about that. I’m going to be an assistant alongside Breanna, who was one of my assistants last semester, and Brandon is coming back as the desk editor alongside Amy, who’s stepping up from being an assistant last semester.

Even though I’m apparently going to be on my own for part of every Tuesday shift thanks to certain scheduling conflicts, with that kind of team under the direction of Kyle and Sarah, it really does sound like it should be a good run of the paper.

I’d say the only thing I’m genuinely disparaged about is the fact that I’ll no longer get to experience that satisfying moment of switching the news desk email notifications off for the semester. Guess I’ll have to deal with incessant messages for just a little bit longer…

But that aside, I am ready to jump in again as we gear up for the semester starting in a couple weeks, and pretty soon I should update my archive here to reflect my different position. Today is only the first of three days of training I have this week (which compared to the five days editors have to go through is quite the blessing), so hopefully by the end I’ll be more prepared and back in a working mentality.

Which hopefully in the long run will encourage me to actually go back and finish more of these blog posts that I have sitting in my drafts.

#callback