journalism as a struggle

As an undergraduate student at Brandeis interested in journalism, it is extremely difficult with my schedule to attend events that interest me. This has been a constant struggle throughout the semester due to the limited amount of time I have to partake in something that I enjoy and is beneficial to my journalistic ways.

Being a hopeful major in Biology, I spend a majority of my time studying for the sciences that I take at Brandeis which are anything but easy. I am also on the varsity softball team, which is a huge time commitment in itself. These time constraints make it nearly impossible for me to go out and attend a hearing at a court, appear at a speech, or attend a protest. Another thing that is harmful to my ability to go out and cover events away from the university is the fact that sophomores are not allowed to have cars on campus. If I had a car, I would be able to at least find some slot of time to venture off and witness things that are newsworthy.

Taking a journalism class at Brandeis, the expectations are that as a student you need to go out and experience events and then write about them from a journalists perspective. Writing blogs about news are simple since you need to blog about something that is currently in the news and use links from other blogs or news stories about the topic. However, when it comes to the written news and written issues stories, that is when it gets difficult.

A written news story was due a few weeks back in the class, and I struggled for a long time in trying to decide what I was going to write about. I decided that it was going to be impossible for me to go outside of Brandeis, so I started looking into what was happening on campus. I came across a speaker that was coming to talk about improving the teaching of math and science courses in college due to the decrease in scores on math and science related standardized tests. After attending, I realized that to be a good journalist, it’s not so much covering things that are really popular news, it is more about writing an event that is going to catch people’s eyes and make them want to read more of what you have to say.

For the written issues story, I decided to really stay close to what I am familiar with and try to give people a different mindset on the topic. I interviewed one of my friends about her college drinking habits and how it affects her. I then interviewed another one of my friends who is a psychology major and she explained to me her thoughts on why people drink in college and whether or not they take into consideration the dangers of excessive drinking. I myself engage in social activities where alcohol is involved, but I never really looked past the fact that it was something that people do in college and does not really have any terrible consequences other than the typical hangover or sickness. After writing the issues story however and learning all of the statistics on binge drinking and how many people die from it, I rethought about my actions over the past year and realized that there is no need to be harming my body as much as I am. The story that I wrote was based off of my friend who drinks even though she has a sickness that gets incredibly affected by alcohol, however she does it for the social aspects of it.

My written issues story made me realize that journalism is not just about going outside in the world and engaging in a popular discussion or expressing your opinion about a certain subject, it is also about going into something with one mindset and coming out of it learning more than expected and changing your mind about it. As a journalist, I hope to not only affect people that are reading my blogs or stories, but I also hope that I will continue learning how to better myself and my actions. I learned that you can find something to write about anywhere, whether it is in class or hanging out with your friends.

Potential “news” is all around you.

1 comment November 10th, 2011

#occupywallstreet: the ease of social media

Over the past few weeks, the phrase “Occupy Wallstreet” has been heard, read, and seen all over the world thanks to the ease of the social media world. Occupy Wallstreet began when Adbusters, which is an anticorporate magazine, sent an e-mail to around 90,000 supporters and asked them to join the movement for the occupation of Wall Street. They used Twitter as one of their main social media resources, with the hash tag #occupywallstreet located in every “tweet” so that the supporters on Twitter could follow what was going on in the protest in real time. By having Twitter as the main source of reaching out to people, it allowed for the development of the protest on a global level. With the advantages of Twitter allowing users to upload pictures, it allowed for an actual view of what was happening, so that people around the world could witness the protests at a seemingly first-hand rate.

Kalle Lasn, the editor in chief of Adbusters spoke of how initially the magazine sparked the issue, but in regards to the protesters he says:

“What they’ve done up until now – with a leaderless movement that is all-inclusive – that’s given them a kind of mystique that has launched a national conversation.”

Nearly 1,500 cities worldwide have been represented in this movement, tens of thousands walking down the streets of Time Square, NY alone. Writer and health care equity research analyst David Maris attended the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York, and interviewed many of the people attending. What he found was that although the movement has been critiqued as being aimless, the interviews he conducted showed that over-all there was a common concern amongst the protesters.

“It is clear that although many might seek to marginalize their ideas and concerns, or disagree with the solutions such as taxing the rich or forgiving student loans or free cell phones for everyone, the protester’s over-arching concerns of corporate greed, the poor jobs picture, and health care costs mirror that of many other people across the country.”

He also gave the interviewed a survey with the option of rating 1-10 some major organizations in the country. The highest rating was of WikiLeaks with a 7.1 out of 10.

The use of smart phones and other social media tools have led to a vast amount of accessibility to anyone wanting to know about the happenings of the protests, not just on a national level but a global scale. Jennifer Preston of The New York Times writes:

“According to Trendrr, a social media analysis company, the number of posts about Occupy Wall Street on Twitter outside of the United States grew to more than 25 percent of total posts on Friday, up from 15 percent during the same period the week before. Throughout the day on Saturday, overall volume on Twitter doubled, and the number of posts on Twitter from outside the United States increased to 47 percent from 25 percent, an analysis from Trendrr showed.”

With these facts alone, it is very clear that the Occupy Wall Street movement would not be as successful with reaching out to supporters around the world if it was not for the advantages of social media.  With the ease of access that Twitter offers allows for an advantage to the general group of people who are witnessing real life accounts of the protest, rather than waiting around for a nightly news report of just the facts of what is happening. With Twitter being such a personal way of expressing media, it allows for the actual happenings of the protest to be documented and spread across the world. Social media continues to make the Occupy Wall Street movement successful across the globe because it allows protesters to spread their experiences and ask for support from their followers.

1 comment October 17th, 2011

Don’t Get Tumbl’d Away

Over the past few years, being a journalist and getting your voice heard has become increasingly easier due to the vast growing popularity of micro-blogging. According to Anthony DeRosa of, the difference between traditional blogs and micro-blogs is that micro-blogs rely on short spurts of information including links, photos, videos, and very brief messages (see here). Unlike Twitter, Tumblr does not have a limit in how much you can write, so bloggers who use Tumblr are able to express themselves in more lengthier ways, if they choose to do so. In comparing Tumblr to Twitter, Mindy McAdams of WordPress describes:

Tumblr is not a replacement for a traditional blog, and it’s not a substitute for Twitter. Tumblr is something else – part bookmarking tool, part FriendFeed, part scrapbook, part serendipitous newsfeed.

Also in her article, she explains how “ridiculously easy” it is for people who use Tumblr to navigate throughout the website. She explains two prominent features of Tumblr being the “heart” and the reblog features. She goes on to describe that Tumblr is much more social than traditional blogs, meaning that it is easier to share with your followers what you are writing about because everything is located in one place.

Tumblr is an easy way in which amateur journalists (even people who won’t even consider themselves journalists) can express themselves amongst their peers and receive feedback. Tumblr is seemingly a much more personal blogging atmosphere, since you have the support of your “followers” and the chance to read other people’s blogs while trying to come up with your own.

Amateur journalists are not the only people taking advantage of Tumblr, however. ABC journalist Matthew Keys used Tumblr for the coverage of Japan’s earthquake, which was nominated by the Online News Association for the best breaking news for a small site (see here). While speaking of how micro-blogging websites have taken off over the past year, John Paul Titlow speaks of Tumblr:

The craze has caught on with traditional media outlets like NPR (National Public Radio), The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and a host of others, who have set up blogs on Tumblr as a way to help grow their audiences, engage readers and drive traffic back to their original content.

The way in which journalists use Tumblr as a resource is quite remarkable. It is a way to get to the audience who don’t necessarily check the news websites daily or who are not really aware of the amount of newsworthy blogs are out there on the internet. Tumblr has been nothing but a good improvement to the blogging world by allowing the general population to talk about their lives or their beliefs among their friends and in the public sphere.

Some people are concerned with what Tumblr and other blogging innovations will do to the traditional world of blogging. In an article comparing Tumblr to the popular blogging resource of WordPress, John Paul Titlow says:

Tumblr has scaled incredibly well and shows no signs of slowing down. hasn’t had the same exponential growth, but it’s certainly been no slouch either. Both services are enormously popular and many people use them side by side. (see graph below)

Tumblr vs., in visits per month.

The concern still remains, however. I do not think that traditional blogging will ever cease to exist. There has been so much progress in journalism coming from blogging alone, that I highly doubt that micro-blogging will be the end of traditional blogging as we know it. Having a Tumblr myself, I am fully aware of the satisfaction of posting a blog and knowing that my closest friends will read it and appreciate what I have to write. I don’t feel the need to put myself out there in “newsworthy” blogs, because frankly what I have to say I would rather just share among people that I am comfortable with.

Tumblr is a way that someone who is blogging from their bed or an ABC studio can express themselves and experience what it’s like to be part of a conversation.

2 comments September 15th, 2011

Hello world!

Welcome to Brandeis University. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

2 comments September 8th, 2011