The dreaded knock


When covering a story, it is almost always necessary for a reporter to conduct interviews. These interviews are for experts, witnesses or any other person involved. It doesn’t take much, since most people like to talk and relate their knowledge or experiences. And for the reporter, he or she gets to meet people, gain insight, and learn new things.

But what happens when the story involves a mass shooting? And the people you have to interview are the friends and families of the victims?

In light of the recent Washington Navy Yard shooting, this issue comes to the surface.

I came across an article in the Huffington Post aptly named “The Worst Work of Journalism.” It delves into this topic, and explains how uncomfortable and devastating it is to be sent to cover stories of mass shootings and murder, charged with the task of interviewing the loved ones left behind the disasters.

In the article, its author Brian Rooney explains how as a journalist, he has had the unfortunate job of having to interview the family and friends of people who have passed.

He explains that when the injustice of murder occurs, the victims must be humanized. They must have faces, histories, voices and people who loved them in order for others to truly see the horror of a taken life.

This requires the miserable task of getting information from the loved ones of the victims. No reporter wants to be sent to cover a story where they’ll have to knock on the victim’s door, that dreaded knock.

Rooney describes the people who are open and friendly and give a lot of information. He recounts the story of a time he interviewed the boyfriend of a girl who had just been shot in the head by an ex-paramour. The boyfriend spoke of his girlfriend affectionately as he cleaned her brains out of a cookie jar.

Rooney also describes the people who don’t want to talk at all, and the dilemma of being told by your boss you must get the interview even after repeated declines.

Every reporter, like Rooney says, hopes that when they knock on the doors of the families  and stand outside the church services that it’ll be the last time. That society will see how horrible these massacres are. That things will change. All we can do is hope for no more dreaded knocks.

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What happened to real news?


Yesterday, I attended a presentation by Alina Falcon, Telemundo’s executive vice president of News and Alternative Programming, in the School of Communication. She spoke about the changing role of the media, and one comment particularly struck me. She said that today, there is increasingly less unscripted, serious news; it is being replaced with straight talk, interviews, and other filler that costs less to produce.

Falcon’s remark resonated with me because, when I watch news programs, I feel uncomfortable during certain segments that can’t really be classified as news.

Though whether entertainment news is news is a controversial topic among journalists, that’s not close to what I mean.  I’m not saying that entertainment stories shouldn’t be on the news.  Some people really are interested in celebrities, TV shows, and the like. At least these stories deliver information to which the average person isn’t already privy. But news programs often take this too far, as in shamelessly plugging their own networks’ shows.  You’ll find stories raving about the “must-see” season of The Voice (does anybody even watch this, anyway?) on NBC, but the show isn’t so much as mentioned on ABC or CBS.

Then there are the stories that can’t be labeled “newsworthy” by any standard.  The kind entitled “Six Places You May Have Misplaced Your Keys” or “Eight Things You Shouldn’t Say to Strangers.”  These types of stories have literally no new or valuable information.  I mean, if a cameraman from the news station came up to me right now, I could cover the same story off the top of my head.

The best is when the programs show you teasers from upcoming stories. “What was the unbelievable item a student found in her lunch?”  “Coming up: You’ll never believe what happens in this video!”  “Stay tuned for the shock a mother got when she opened her front door!”

You wait a half hour to find out.  Sometimes, the story really is surprising, like if the girl found a diamond ring in her sandwich. Still, it’s cruel that programs leave you hanging for so long to hear about it. Other times, the content is just short of being as engaging as a black screen: the video is of a guy failing to balance on one foot, or the mother was checking her mail until she realized it was Sunday.

This kind of programming is embarrassing to watch, and should be infinitely more embarrassing to air. I challenge networks to spend some money and give us real news or to remove this façade by at least transferring these filler clips to differently categorized programs.  Otherwise, networks would be better off showing sitcom reruns during the time slots these stories waste.

Where modern journalism stands …


Media is the new term we now use instead of press, said media critic Jay Rosen in his article “An Introduction,” explaining that the term is more of a “modern, abstract, inclusive, elastic, and of course more commercial” term.

Through this article Prof. Rosen tries to persuade readers that was he’s saying is true. He says “we need to keep the press from being absorbed into The Media.” This caught my attention because technology is definitely taking over and each day that goes by the Internet is more and more part of our lives.

The news we once had to sit and watch, or read in newspapers, are now available instantly in our computers, smartphones, or other portable devices.

This article, as a whole, is a way of saying we shouldn’t make that mistake of leaving press behind, since historically it’s what started it all, and for him the best “backward glancing term.”

Rosen defines it at the end as “Ghost of democracy in the media machine” and I believe it is the perfect way of expressing that press must not be forgotten and must always have a presence in this new modern journalism world we’ve seen grow and develop to these days.

The article can actually present to the world a certain assessment of where journalism stands now and where it’s headed. Nowadays, the public that was once on the other side to only receive information, now participates actively. It has become a two-way thing, where opinions, comments, even information from citizens, are now part of it all.

“Armed with easy-to-use Web publishing tools, always-on connections and increasingly powerful mobile devices, the online audience has the means to become an active participant in the creation and dissemination of news and information.” In other words, Rosen explains, journalism of today is “threatened by not just new technology and competitors but, potentially, by the audience it serves.”

This conversion in journalism has been occurring during the last few years and is all about telling stories in new and different ways, like for example using Twitter or Facebook, as well as blogs and other social media.

Since this is happening so fast around the world, sometimes we professional journalists have to be careful which way is the correct and best way to present information to the public, while always making sure it is accurate, true and reliable.

Who are today’s reporters? All of us


Over the last decade, technology, especially cell phones, has become one of the most important devices in our day-to-day lives. During the last couple of years, however, technology has not only been one of our favorite devices for entertainment, but even for news reporting and the information it gives us.

Reporting? You ask.

Yes, even reporting. Every thing we do every day we publish onto the Internet. Whether it is what we wore to work today, what we did for our best friend’s birthday, or what we think about the latest iPhone update.

Either way, we have all become reporters.

One of these reporters living in South Miami, just blocks from the UM campus, reported something on his Facebook page that will change his life forever.

A Miami man fatally shot his wife and then posted a picture of her body on Facebook.

“I’m going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys, miss you guys take care Facebook people you will see me in the news,” Derek Medina, 31, wrote on his Facebook site just moments before adding the gruesome image.

The picture showed his 26-year-old wife, Jennifer Alfonso, slumped on the kitchen floor of the townhouse they shared.

She had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

According to police reports, he claimed that before he killed her, they were having an argument. During the course of the argument, Alfonso threatened him with a knife, but he was able to disarm her. But when she began punching him again Medina said he shot her.

 After the shooting, Medina posted the photo of his wife on his Facebook page with the caption saying “RIP Jennifer Alfonso.”

The photo shows Alonso on the floor, on her back with her legs bent backward and blood on her left arm and cheek.

Shortly after posting the picture he wrote,

“My wife punching me and I not going to stand anymore with the abuse, so I did what I did. I hope u understand me.”

Without calling 911, Medina changed his clothes and went to see his family to whom he confessed the crime, before turning himself into the police.

He has been charged with first-degree murder.

It is things like this that clearly show how much our world has changed over the years. This was not a story that news reporters found. This was not a story that the police formed. This is a story that the man who killed his wife wrote. He was the reporter.

When singer goes wild, so do media


Miley Cyrus’s striking new style drew public and news media attention when she cut off her long dirty-blonde hair and died it platinum blonde. It not only damaged her physical image, but it began the negative spiral of her reputation.

Miley’s performance on the MTV video music awards, startled viewers after she stripped down into a flesh-toned latex bra and matching underwear and “twerked” onstage. Across Twitter and social media networks there was a buzz of shock about Miley with people posting pictures of celebrity faces in response to this provocative performance.

After putting on quite the show at the video music awards, Miley’s new song “Wrecking Ball” came out with a bang. Not only was she in sheer clothing that fully exposed her, she actually got naked and began to swing on a wrecking ball. To top it off, she began intimately licking a sledgehammer.

Not only is Miley’s reputation as the innocent Hannah Montana Disney star destroyed, this morning Miley announced she was separating from her fiancé and Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth after he was seen out with Eiza González.

Miley’s behavior has placed her name all over social media. There were more than 4.5 million tweets about Miley during her performance at the  Music Video Awards, which is approximately 300,000 tweets per minute. Afterwards, her “wrecking ball” video created a record-breaking viewer count on Vevo.

Ever since her rebellious performance at the video music awards, people have been sharing their thoughts and opinions about her on TV, websites, in newspapers and almost everywhere else.  There are even parodies making fun of her behavior.

Students at a Michigan college reportedly had to remove a giant pendulum sculpture from campus after naked students were seen swinging on it imitating Miley in her “wrecking ball” video. Many pictures and videos have been released recently showing male and female students copying Miley’s actions. The dean of this school claimed it was a safety hazard for students.

There is such a strong reaction to Miley’s behavior that students actually rebelled and put their safety at risk. Miley’s behavior has caused controversy and a social media uproar. This is newsworthy and journalists should be and are documenting what is taking place because her behavior. It is not a serious matter in many people’s opinions, but it something that put students at risk. People are talking about her and people want to know more about what she is doing.

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