Journalism a life of ups and downs


Nowadays, there are still many people that become journalists. However, there are a few that actually love the career, although only some succeed in the race to accomplish it.

Journalism has become a path to obtain fame and money. It’s a way to cultivate seeds that in the end would bring some type of profit.

Having a bachelor’s degree or a master’s does not make a journalist. The cold blood, the routine, the people and history make a real journalist. These professionals do not sit down waiting for a story to come their way. They search, write and report it without relying or depending on a producer. In other words, everything is based on a daily routine in which a lot of people get used to. That is when they stop being journalists and they become conformists.

Journalism should not be the same everyday; it should not have a place, style, conformity or forgiveness. It is a double face soul.

For instance, one door is closed today and two others are opened tomorrow. It is a tough career that not everyone is able to handle in two days because it takes many setbacks.

As a matter of fact, a journalist is someone who knows the entrance and exit doors. Speaks out the right words and no more than what is asked to not hurt anyone. It is someone who understands and accommodates a story before it is expected.

This career is like Mother Nature — it changes everyday. You have to search and don’t let go by the same things. Do not transform your career in a daily problem. Take it like the seasons of the year. Make it happen, take advantage of it and enjoy it.

If you have a dream fight for it and do not let anyone put you down. Never think of your future as a daily chore. Journalism is like a balance, it has ups and downs.

Photojournalism’s future uncertain


Cameras are everywhere.

They fit in our pockets, they’re installed in our computers and even attached to our phones. What was once an expensive hobby has now become an affordable necessity. Because of the affordability and the availability, everyone who owns a camera considers themselves a photographer.

A professional photographer is someone who has spent his or her entire career as a photographer and has earned a living by taking pictures. A freelance photographer is a person who sells services (in this case images) to employers without a long-term commitment to them. An amateur photographer is a person who engages in photography as a hobby versus as a profession. In other words, they take pictures for fun.

A photojournalist can be defined as someone who communicates news through photographs. Think National Geographic. Until recently, a photojournalist was a full-time, paid position involving being sent out on assignment to cover a story similar to a reporter in  broadcast.

Now-a-days though, many magazines and newspapers have laid off their photography departments and switched from using full-time salaried employees to using freelance and amateur photographers instead.

So what does this mean for the future of photojournalism?

Well, in order to have a future it must have a present. The day “digital” became useable and affordable marked the death of photojournalism as we know it. Why pay an employee to rush over to the scene of investigation when an amateur is already on site? Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to pay the amateur for the use of the images than the salary of the professional?

Photographers, like myself, who are looking to start a career in photography / photojournalism, see this as a terrible consequence of the digital age and social media.

However, others see this as liberating and evolutionary. They see the amateur photographer as liberating the professional from the role of documenting mundane, ordinary, and unexciting newsworthy events, thus allowing the professional to reiterate the true meaning behind being a photojournalist — to document and tell stories.

It is not the professional photojournalist who has died out, only the means of how they get their stories and where they publish them. Instead of reaching out to a magazine or newspaper for work, the professional photojournalist should instead become a freelance photographer and invest in a self-financed story that has not been covered in mainstream media. Then he or she can publish the work via social media outlets with the possibility of publication at a later date. Because mainstream media outlets chase provocative and sensational stories in order to drive in readership, the quality of the work has taken a backseat thus forcing professional photojournalists to self-publish.

The professional photojournalist should not cringe at the amateur photographer but should instead thank them for picking up tedious, unimportant news stories and allowing the professionals to instead, return to the art of their profession. The art of photojournalism is to document and tell stories, often hidden stories, ones mainstream media outlets tend to ignore.

For more information, visit

We’re a nation wired for negative news


Why does the media tend to focus only on negative news?

Why do we hear more about murders, war and corruption more than we do about friendly neighborhood festivities, peaceful revolutions, and acts of kindness?

In fact, continual bad news can stimulate depression, work people up emotionally, and even make people more likely to make bad decisions.

So why are we drawn to it?

One theory suggests that humans seek out dramatic and negative events. Since we evolved from a hunter-gatherer mind set, anything dramatic must be attended to immediately. Therefore, we are drawn to any negative, dramatic event because it requires our immediate attention.

Another theory suggests that we tend to care more about the threat of bad things than we do about the prospect of good things. Since we tend to be more fearful than happy, our negative brain tripwires are much more sensitive than our positive ones.

The last theory relates to probability. The probability of something bad happening in a small town is much smaller than something bad happening in a large town. This is why local news tends to have less bad news. But most people watch nationwide and worldwide news where the coverage is widespread thus making the news more negative.

All theories point to the same conclusion. We are internally wired to seek out negative and dramatic events, and when we find them, we share them.

So how do we fix this?

It seems the only way to fix the negativity of news is to change the negativity in our views. When we change our habits, and see through a “glass half full” lens, our brains develop a positive perspective that can spread to other people like a virus.

By applying a positive perspective to our attitudes and behaviors we can encourage our news media to present a balanced and multidimensional point of view rather than just reinforcing a negative one.

For more information visit

eBay founder starts digital news site


Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay and billionaire, announced that he is prepared to fund a new news organization that will promote what he calls “serious journalism.”

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar wants to fund a news organization designed strictly for "serious journalism" (Photo by Joi Ito, Flickr ).

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar wants to fund a news organization designed strictly for “serious journalism” (Photo by Joi Ito, Flickr ).

Omidyar says that he wants to create a place where journalists are able to “elevate” and are allowed to “pursue the truth.”

The goal is to make a new organization like CNN and The Washington Post, but to be founded on different principles. Investigative journalism is his main concern for this all-new, strictly digital site and he says he is ready to commit $250 million.

A journalist who is ready to jump on board is Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald is leaving Britain’s Guardian newspaper, where he became an important figure, so he can join this new online site.

Jay Rosen, professor at NYU, who has spoken to Omidyar about the project, seems supportive. He announced the news of the online site to his students and they were excited because most of them do plan on eventually getting jobs in journalism. This new site could provide many jobs for journalists looking for work and whom are interested strictly in serious journalism.

I think that this whole thing is a great idea. I’d love to see a new news organization rise, especially one that is strictly digital and that is steered towards investigative journalism, which I believe is some of the trickiest journalism.

I’d also like to see more jobs for students who are just getting their start in the journalism world. Mostly because I am a student myself and finding jobs nowadays is a nightmare.

But, I’m slightly skeptical on how well this new site will actually do. Since journalism has taken such a hit these past few years, I’m doubtful that it will become the next CNN or MSNBC. These big organizations have been around for so long and it’ll take time before this new one can catch the eye of the general public. Hopefully more important figures hop on to the production of this project and everything runs smoothly.

Here is a link to Jay Rosen’s blog with more information on the matter:

New Age reporting and getting it right


In today’s day and age, word travels fast. When a breaking news story is unfolding, journalists want to be the first on the scene and the first to receive information, causing false information to be shared with the public.

We have seen this occur many times when it comes to stories such as the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut. At first, the public was told there were multiple shooters, but later one we were to find out there was only one man.

The Boston Marathon bombings pointed the finger at a young male student without having hard evidence that he was the bomber, but proceeded to alert the public of this man; showing a photo and giving out his name. These mistakes are monumental and create confusion.

This is the major issue journalists face today. The pressure to present valuable information first has caused many to listen to bystanders rather than go straight to the source.

Scott Pelley, CBS Evening News anchor, openly blames the Internet for this issue journalists face, due to the fact that social media sites have caused information to spread like wildfire anytime something is shared, tweeted, or posted. Pelley stated that “we are getting big stories wrong, over and over again.”

He believes that people have too much access to the wrong information and to information in general. Pelley believes that social media sites are simply geared towards gossip, although the public does not seem to understand that concept.

These statements are true, but this trend can be reversed. As long as this toxic gossip stays out of the established newsrooms, we can prevent gossip to spread and focus on getting information straight from the source.

The life of a student journalist


It isn’t easy being a student journalist. At times, it can feel like no one takes you seriously.  No one except your professors, that is, meaning you have to turn in high quality work with often not-so-high quality resources.

When I try to contact sources, especially professionals, I know that I am not their first priority. Last year, when I was writing an article about Red Mango, I was lucky enough to be able to speak to the company’s founder via e-mail. After several correspondences, though, he stopped responding to my e-mails.  I already had sufficient information to write my article, so I didn’t press the issue, but I did feel like I had been forgotten about because I wasn’t writing for some high profile magazine. I completely understand this, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

At least I got to speak to him. As a student journalist, it is exponentially harder to contact anyone of importance.  These individuals cater to people who can boost their reputations, give them a business edge, or give them major publicity.  If you’re writing an article for only one set of eyes, you can count most of these sources out.

Sometimes, people won’t speak to you because you are merely a student.  However, the opposite can also be true. Many times, I have noticed that sources are more willing to comply because I am “only” a student journalist. Most people I talk to actually prefer not to be featured in a newspaper or on a website and often the selling point to quote them is that the only person reading an article is my teacher.

Then there are the people who are nice, the people who are probably nicer to you because you are a student journalist.  They understand your obstacles and limitations, and are eager to help you, for one reason or another.  Maybe they are just genuinely nice people, or perhaps they were student journalists themselves.

Being a student journalist has its ups and downs, but they are necessary lessons to fully prepare for the trials and experiences of being a professional journalist.

Should we use Twitter for our news?


Twitter is an interesting form of information source. According to the article, “The Twitter Explosion,” by Paul Farhi, “it all depends” on whether Twitter can be a useful news tool or not.

Why? Unknown

Because sometimes it is fast, newsworthy, and reachable for millions of people. But sometimes, it gives incorrect information, for example, immediately after the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing attack. Sometimes it can even give false information so damaging that it can actually destroy a person’s life.

Like the article says, Twitter is a “free social networking service that enables anyone to post pithy messages, known as tweets, to groups of self-designated followers. The tweets can be sent from and received by any kind of device — desktop, laptop, BlackBerry, cellphone.”

This is practical in one way but, in another, it also means that many people not only have fast access to the information, but also to the posting of it, even if sometimes what they post is not true. The problem with this service functioning as a news source is the fact that so many people use it nowadays and but some do not have the best intentions. 

Why is Twitter different from other sources? Because it is a type of media which is utilized not only for breaking news, but for many sorts of things such as giving news about events, stores, sports, and of course for individuals who want to share their own thoughts. Anyone can post and its content is neither filtered nor edited by professional journalists.

Twitter is capable of creating conversations between different sources, provides the ability to comment, as well as the opportunity to “retweet” someone else’s posts. WIth all of these possibilities, it is easy for a rumor to be formed and rapidly be delivered to millions of people around the world.

News reporters use Twitter from any event and ‘tweet’ what is going on around them.

“Twitter can be a serious aid in reporting. Reporters now routinely tweet from all kinds of events — speeches, meetings and conferences, sports events,” said Farhi, which I believe is true but, for that same reason, people should always make sure that what they are reading is true and that it has enough evidence to support the written facts.

The news media message about drugs


The news media make a big mistake when trying to communicate with our generation about the dangers of drugs.

They continue to say that X and Y drugs are horrible for you, but they do not face the reality that teenagers and college students are most likely going to experiment with drugs – regardless of what the media says.

It is as if the media have come to terms with the fact that teenagers are going to have sex, because they have modified their message by promoting safe sex instead of abstinence.  But they have yet to do so for teenagers with drugs.

Although most teenagers are too young to be sexually active, it is unrealistic to think all teenagers are abstinent. It is almost equally as unrealistic to think that our generation is not going to experiment with drugs.

Therefore, instead of slamming all drugs, the news media could try explain without bias what these drugs are actually doing instead of just saying they are bad. Because regardless of what the media says, kids are going to do them. So, in order to reach our generation about these drugs, they need to change their angle.

If the media takes a more realistic approach, kids might trust them more, which should be the ultimate goal of reporting the effects of drugs. If teenagers learn to rely on the media for information about the dangers of drugs instead of say, an older sibling, they will be in much better shape.

This is, of course, if kids and teens choose to do drugs at all.

Additionally, if the news media do not instinctively bash use of all drugs, when they do say that one is exceptionally horrid, teenagers might actually believe them instead of skipping the articles altogether.

Perhaps illegal drugs are an entirely different ballgame than underage sex, but if kids are going to do them regardless of the media, wouldn’t we rather them be safe?

Technology fuels public domain debate


Anyone who reads the 10 Commandments understands them quite clear: Thou shall not steal. And nowadays that can also mean: Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s computer files and text messages.

But one recent news story suggests it’s not quite that simple. New technology has hyped the debate over what should be in the public domain, but done nothing to clarify the answers.

One of the principal reasons is that the audience is participating and opposing, in real time, as journalists decide what subjects are fair game.

Many websites obtain information, verify its authenticity, and ask the right questions about what is of valid public interest.

One example is a website called TechCrunch, that did this through Twitter.

The site posted, instead, information that cut more to the nature of Twitter’s business: financial projections, product plans and notes from executive strategy meetings and “talked about the Facebook threat and when and how they might sell the company,” adding “that is immensely interesting from a news perspective.”

The TechCrunch crew correctly noted that the public seemed much less exercised about previous instances in which media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, published internal company documents from Yahoo and other firms.

In many other instances over the decades, as important as the Pentagon Papers, journalists have depended on internal documents to tell the real story.

In many of those cases, the documents were effectively “stolen,” pushed by employees who ignored confidentiality rules to put information into the public domain.

Protecting juveniles in the news media


In a small town in northeast Washington, an 11-year-old boy was convicted of attempting to murder his fellow fifth-grade classmate.

Stevens County Superior Court Judge Allen Nielson supported the statement that this elementary school student devised his murder plot earlier this year with another classmate.

On Feb. 7, the boys brought a knife and handgun to school. Another student spoke up after seeing the students weapons in one of the boys backpacks. Before the boys could carry out their plot the school staff seized both the weapons.

A school counselor named Debbie Rodgers interviewed the older of the two boys. He admitted that his plan was to stab the girl to death because she was “really annoying” and the second boy was going to point the gun at anyone who tried to intervene.

One of the boys also tried to justify their actions by stating, “she’s rude and always made fun of me and my friends.”

The two boys also told authorities they were going to “get,” or murder, six more students at their school, Fort Colville Elementary School.

The convicted juvenile criminal is due back in court on Nov. 8 for a sentence hearing. He was sentenced to three to five years in a juvenile detention facility.

Both of these Juveniles names were not mentioned on news reports and neither were their pictures or anything to give away their identity.

Juveniles have confidentiality protection that adults do not have. Many believe this is the case because the states have a strong desire to rehabilitate the lives of juvenile delinquents and protect their reputation by not reporting their names to the press.

This issue does not prevent newspapers from reporting the stories and certain distinctions are made to decide if releasing the name of a child criminal will defame his/her reputation.

I personally believe that a child who is positively guilty of murder shouldn’t have their identity protected or hidden from the media just because of their age. Anyone who is capable of such a crime should be recognized as a criminal and the public should be aware of his or her identity.

I understand that if your name is in the news mentioning that you are a murderer, your life weather in jail or out of jail is permanently damaged due to your reputation and records.

If you are under the age of 18 and committed a crime you will most likely have a longer life to live with this reputation. I understand the theory behind protecting these children from the media, but I do not agree with it.

For more information on the elementary school case visit:

Venezuelan press endures tough times


“In a public hearing before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, journalism organizations called 2011 the worst year for the Venezuelan press because of the rise in attacks against reporters and news media, reported the AFP,” according to the Journalism in the Americas Blog, under the article titled “Venezuelan journalists declare freedom of expression situation as “critical.”

Journalists in Venezuela are going through a difficult time. Freedom of expression and the citizen’s rights are being violated on a daily basis. Furthermore, television news shows are being shut down by the government. With little support and alarming things happening in the country, journalists have to be now more than ever careful in what they write about and who they address their stories to.

TV news show are being controlled by the government, because it wants to control the news they provide for the Venezuelan community, that way the information the government doesn’t want to share will stay in secret.

The article also states the fact that last year 203 violations of freedom of expression were recorded and of these, two-thirds were related to attacks and threats (many of which have gone unpunished, like it generally happens).

In The Media and the Citizen, by Boris Munoz, he let us know a little bit of the extreme situation in which Venezuela has been in: “In April, 2002, in the midst of the most intense period of confrontation between the opposition and the government, media barons actively supported a coup against Chávez by creating a media blackout. The screens of the most important private TV outlets would run only old cartoons; some of the national newspapers didn’t circulate, thus preventing the public from knowing what was going on in the country, or even about the president’s whereabouts.”

During the last three months, the government has taken programs off the air that had most manifestly criticized the government. Globovisión, the last remaining independent TV station in Venezuela was sold to government allies earlier this year. Like the article titled “Globovisión: The Latest Casualty in Venezuela’s Assault on Freedom of the Press” expresses:

“This unfortunate development shows that the threat to freedom of the press—and to all other civil liberties in Venezuela — will not go away with the death of Hugo Chávez.”

Isn’t news media supposed to be united?


Isn’t news media supposed to be united? At least, that’s what I usually like to believe.

Following Sunday’s epic showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys, wherein the Broncos squeaked by the ‘Boys 51-48, there was a showdown in and of itself among local Cowboys news media members.

Though not much is really known about the nature of the incident, apparently there was a little bit of a turf war between different local news reporters inside the Cowboys’ locker room. They were just jostling for position to interview a certain player. It actually prematurely shut down the Cowboys locker room.

Do these reporters have any semblance of discretion or compassion?

Sometimes it seems like the news media just wants the attention on itself in order to increase ratings or readership. Sometimes I don’t really have any idea what they are doing. This seems like a case of both the former and the latter.

If media members covering the same team can’t even get along with each other in a completely controlled environment, then I am not surprised in any way by the status of our country at the moment. The government shutdown seems to make a little more sense.

White House makes reporting harder


It has come to the attention of many that the Obama Administration has been much more strict when it comes the information that is released to reporters. Information about the government is under a strong lock and key.

It is even said that the Obama Administration has been more secretive than the Bush Administration.

Many people have been suspected of leaking classified information to journalists. The Insider Threat Program was implemented to watch for people like this. They have been subject to lie detecting tests, surveillance while at work, the retrieval of emails and other harsh forms of investigations.

It is argued that this is an invasion of privacy and that Obama Administration is taking it too far.

Public officials have been much more resistant to speaking to reporters. People in the journalism field have been complaining profusely and The Committee to Protect Journalists conducted an examination of the U.S. press freedoms. They decided to do this because of the rising number of prosecutions and seizures of journalists’ records.

I believe that there is a fine line that both journalists and the government shouldn’t cross on both ends of the spectrum.

Of course, national security is a serious topic that needs to be respected, especially after events like 9/11. But the government also cannot withhold too much information about the U.S. Citizens have a right to know what is going on in their country.

I think it is wrong that the Justice Department is secretly seizing phone calls from the Associated Press and then wrongly prosecuting many people, which includes many journalists.

It is a journalist’s job to report this information. They are only trying to do their job. Journalists need to continue to fight for their rights to know as much information as possible. I suppose the next step would be for journalists to push a revision of the investigation techniques that have been used to stop leaks.

Censoring freedom of expression


When we try to think in a country without freedom of expression, we normally think of dictatorial countries, such as Cuba and North Korea. However, these countries have been like this for many years.

Nowadays it is almost unimaginable to think that a democratic country will censor freedom of expression, and therefore freedom of the press just because some of the news organizations and journalists don’t share the same ideas as the government.

Unfortunately, Venezuela has been dealing with the censorship of freedom of the expression because of the political problems existing at the present time in the country.

When Hugo Chavez to office, he claimed to be a democratic president. But, during the time he has been in office, he created his own movement called the socialism of the 21st century. At this moment, people who were in favor of a democratic country became to realized that Chavez was leading the country to a dictatorship.

Suddenly the country separated in two sides. “Chavistas” who were in favor of Chavez, and the opposition who are against the government.

Chavez saw the opposition as a threat and he started closing private entities as well as the media that put in evidence the government acts.

Journalists have the important job of reporting information as it really happen, without being subjective or leaning to a preferential side. However, it is okay for a news organization especially in politics to be sympathizer with one political side, as long as they report accurate and truthful information.

In paper, Venezuela claims to be a democratic country, but in practice they are as close as possible to be a dictatorship like Cuba.

In 2007, the Chavez government closed RCTV. For the first time, one of the major national channel was closed for exposing horrible but truthful acts of his government.

After that, he used the channel for governmental matters where he will put programs that will taught the country about his socialism and will brutally attack the opposition.

More channels, radios and newspaper closed for not sharing the same ideas that the government has, and with this more protest in favor of the freedom of expression started to happen, however; it was useless.

Just two months ago, during Maduro’s term, Globovision, which was the last opposition channel standing, was forced to be sold to the government.

The only channel that was still fighting to speak the truth and freely express opinions was taken by the government.

This occasioned the resignation of the entire crew of journalists that were against the selling and the new morals of the channel.

The channel was practically empty, as empty as the country was of journalist that weren’t afraid to speak about the government in broadcast and print.

Thankfully, social media and Internet access isn’t prohibited yet. Now prominent Venezuelan journalist inform through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogs. Also there has been a rise of web programs that can be seen through any device with Internet access.

Nowadays, it is really hard to censor an entire country just by taking away channels, newspaper and radios. Social media has become the voice of a country and its almost unstoppable, even in countries like Venezuela where speaking the truth is a matter of life and death.

False news reporting has to stop


I’m having trouble understanding how reporters and journalists can keep putting out false information without any repercussions.

The most recent example of this was in a story about NFL All-Pro Running Back Adrian Peterson. Apparently, his two-year-old son was the victim of a disgusting, inhumane beating at the hands of a 27-year-old man. As reports surfaced, the infant was in critical condition.

The story was initially reported by TMZ on Oct. 11, where it said that Adrian Peterson Jr., the child that Peterson Sr. is always seen with, was hospitalized in critical condition.

With a bit of patience and fact-checking, several other news outlets soon disputed the TMZ report in that the child was, in fact, Peterson’s son, but not the one that he holds so dearly. Apparently, he has no contact with this child or with his mother. The boy might not even be Peterson’s son, as no paternity test was ever conducted.

Despite the weirdness and the murky details, I find it very distasteful that news outlets just throw out information to be first in line. This kind of false information hurts people, both emotionally and mentally.

It happened during the Boston Marathon bombing, where an innocent person was wrongly identified in the news as the bomber. And now it’s happening again.

At some point it will have to stop, though I’m not sure it will soon given the fast-paced, technologically advanced society we live in.

Malala and education in Pakistan


Just one year ago, the Taliban in Pakistan shot Malala Yousafzai after standing up for the education of women. At the time, Malala was 15 years old, but never failed to express her opinions and beliefs to the public, despite the danger she is constantly surrounded by.

Yousafzai is now 16 years old and was recently nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest recipient if she had been awarded said prize. Along with that, she is quite possibly one of the most inspirational and wise teenagers of this generation.

Yousafzai is an activist and continues to share her passion for education after being shot in the head by an Islamist militant. Her efforts have received worldwide news media attention and has been a major story in the U.S. national news media this week with her visit to New York.

On the bus ride home from school one day, a militant stepped onto the bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” Shortly after he opened fire in front of the children on the bus, as she gripped her best friend’s hand. Many did not believe that Malala would survive, but she came back stronger than ever.

In a recent interview with Jon Stewart during her New York trip, Yousafzai discussed how she has been a target since the age of 11, but still does not believe in hating the Taliban. She believes that the daughters of the men in the Taliban also deserve a quality education and hopes that one day they will be able to receive that.

Yousafzai’s true dream is to become Prime Minister of Pakistan and she promises to make sure that tax dollars are used for schools rather than “cronies or pork barrel projects.”

Although she did not win the Nobel Peace Prize this week, she did receive the Andrei Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament for standing up to an oppressive power. Despite this, I am sure she will be nominated in the future and she already knows exactly what she would do with the prize money.

“A Nobel Peace Prize would help me to begin this campaign for girls’ education” (CNN).

Thankful for the freedom to press ‘Enter’


Nowadays, just about everyone has some sort of a blog. Whether it’s light and fluffy with details about fashion or sepia-toned shots of food, or a bit deeper and serious with commentary regarding controversial issues, everyone with access to the Internet reveals who they are and what they believe.

Even if someone doesn’t have a specific blog per se, he or she is bound to have a Facebook profile, Twitter, Youtube, or Instagram account — all Web sites that let you share your opinions, personalities, thoughts, and just about anything else (yes, even the fact that you just worked out at the gym or that your niece does look pretty adorable with those bunny ears on.)

But what if you truly had to think before you pressed the Enter key?

Yesterday I came across an article on BBC about a journalist in China who was just arrested for posting about the alleged corruption of some government officials on his blog.

I immediately thought back to all the times I’ve been scrolling on my Facebook home feed and found countless posts criticizing the government. From “I wish the people in government could let go of their egos and come to an agreement” to “OBAMA SUCKS I’M MOVIN TOO CANADA.”

No matter the post, no matter the content, no matter the truth or the falsity, no matter the, ahem, spelling errors…everyone in the United States is allowed to speak their minds, provided they are not endangering anybody by doing so.

Unfortunately, the same does not go for the people in China.

After posting corruption details of some high-ranking officials onto his blog, Liu Hu, who works for the Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express, was taken by police from his home in August and was then formally arrested at the end of September. When Hu was detained by police, his posts were deleted.

Charged with defamation, analysts call the charge a speech crime, and say it is part of the government’s recent campaign to tighten control over the Internet.

The new Internet guidelines are meant to crack down on “rumor-mongering.” Many believe it is a tool being used by the ruling Communist Party to cut down criticism and control internet opinions and rumors.

In a separate case, four people were arrested for posting about government dissatisfaction on a social media forum. Several other journalists as well as a high-profile blogger have also been arrested for allegedly spreading rumors online.

Obama memeRemember when President Obama was elected and people wrote posts and made memes calling him an “Islamic terrorist”? And then all those people were arrested and charged for doing so?

Yeah, me either.

So keep posting my fellow Internet-users, because whether it’s regarding your criticism of the government or your cat wearing hipster glasses, you’re safe. You’re free.

Imagine going to jail for posting this on your Facebook page.

Instagram: I just don’t get it


I don’t understand Instagram.

I’m always the person who is skeptical about new technology and I’m always on the late side of adopting it. But, in this case, I’ve thoroughly racked my brain and I just don’t get the hype.

Instagram is basically a photo-sharing social media service. Facebook does the same thing but so much more; besides sharing photos, you can post statuses, send instant messages, and so on. Twitter lets users share photos as well.  In fact, you can even share Instagram photos on Facebook or Twitter, which makes even less sense to me than using Instagram as a separate entity.

Instagram does let you follow celebrities, but that’s what Twitter and official Facebook Pages are for.  Instagram users claim that “you get more likes on Instagram,” which may very well be true, but it’s not something that would be impossible on another social media outlet if users started the trend.

One of my friends is adamant that Instagram is great because it lets you put filters on photos. However, there are so many photo editing apps and programs out there that make having an Instagram unnecessary.

For example, I upload photos from my phone to my computer via iPhoto, which allows me to edit my photos.  If I want, I can make them look like they would if they were taken using an Instagram filter.  I don’t need another app to do something when a program that I need to use either way can do the same thing.

My friends keep pleading with me to get an Instagram. I admit, sometimes I feel out of the loop when everyone is talking about something and I can’t figure out what they mean, until I realize everybody is referencing a picture from Instagram. But this isn’t a compelling argument to get an Instagram. It still doesn’t make sense why people can’t just post all of their pictures to Facebook. If they don’t want to “bombard” their friends’ Facebook News Feeds with pictures, then why should they feel any different bombarding Instagram?

Another argument that I’ve gotten is that Instagram is better than Facebook or Twitter because it is only pictures. Okay, you got me there, right?  Well … kind of. Facebook used to have a tab you could click on to view only photos, but this feature seems to have been lost in one of Facebook’s infamous updates. (There’s still a tab called “Photos,” which I thought was the same thing until I tried clicking on it today.  Obviously I’m not mourning the loss of the old feature.)  In any event, I don’t see why it would be necessary to have a separate News Feed for photos.

Or rather, I don’t see why this type of website has become dominant among technology users. My problem with Instagram isn’t its existence as app, but rather its popularity.  In today’s fast-paced, convenience-obsessed culture, I am surprised that people would be interested in spending extra time on something as needless as Instagram. It’s not like Instagram users stop using Facebook or Twitter, so why are so many people active on Instagram at all? I still haven’t solved this mystery.

I can’t conceive how Instagram in itself can be used to benefit reporters because it provides no new tools or unique applications. Despite this, it is important that reporters use this social medium because the American public is using it.  After all, that is to whom journalists must cater.

Reporters can’t make everyone happy


Waiting to be served at the Rathskeller, I realized that the server I had was not pleased by my presence.

It didn’t take long to realize why. It was my most recent cover story in the The Miami Hurricane titled, “Loopholes allow for underage drinking at the Rat.”

Although every member of the Rathskeller staff willfully spoke to me, disclosing their encounters with underage drinkers, they were displeased with my story. Why?

Everything I said was factual and thoroughly researched. It is not my fault that these servers were exposed by the underage students they accidentally served.

However, as a journalist, I take the heat of their anger. They blame me, because that’s my job: to report the news as it is — even if people aren’t going to be happy about it.

Had I interviewed the dozens of Rathskeller-goers I did and found nothing but stories of a strictly enforced policy and failed attempts at underage drinking, I would have happily reported that. However, that is not what I found. Was I to report false cases of a strictly enforced policy? No.

Although these servers may be upset by story, it will benefit the entire student body, including them, in the long run, because the attention drawn to the poorly administered policy is to result in a wake-up call to servers.

In all honesty, I would likely shed a tear or two if the Rathskeller was closed, but it’s closing will not be the result of someone exposing the loopholes in the system. It would be a result of the policy continuing to go down the slippery slope it is currently on, because nobody had the guts to draw attention to it.

As a reporter, I am not a traitor to my community, but an investigator. A reporter’s job is to investigate polices, report the facts and expose what is really happening in any given community – regardless if it’s going to make people happy or not.

Journalism can damage the innocent


The Olympic games of 1996 that were held in Atlanta were bombed. One person was killed and more than 100 others were injured. News media outlets swarmed the scene, reporting false information that permanently damaged an innocent man’s life.

Richard Jewell was an innocent security guard who was accused by many media outlets as being the “Olympic bomber.” His name and identity were portrayed in the worst possible light.

A journalist by the name of Kevin Sack now reflects on his experience reporting the Richard Jewell case.

Sack was the national correspondent in the Atlanta bureau of The New York Times. On July 30, 1996, Sack was writing an “extra” edition for The Atlanta Journal trying to confirm that Jewell was the focus of the FBI’s search for the bomber.

As Sack approached the deadline for the article, he was informed  by the paper’s executive editor at the time, Joseph Lelyveld, that he was not to accuse Jewell for “fitting the profile of the bomber,” instead he was to write a modest article. Sack felt it was very hard not to compete against the other papers who were reporting the story on Jewell an with this he wrote a paragraph that might be considered one of Sack’s mistakes.

Sack ended up writing, “Coverage of the investigation of the bombing at the Olympics here was dominated for hours today by a report in The Atlanta Journal naming a local security guard as the leading suspect.”

He also wrote, “ Federal law enforcement sources had confirmed to The Times that Mr. Jewell was among the suspects in the bombing, but cautioned that there were others, and that there was not sufficient evidence to charge him.”

Looking back, Sack regrets writing this.

The article actually stood out for its restraint.

Today, Sack seems to have learned little from his mistakes and understands that the journalism business, through the Internet and social media, has made it more tempting to use unconfirmed information and rush to judgment.

The New York Post’s “Bag Men” cover story reporting the two innocent Boston Marathon spectators is one of the many examples of how the defaming of innocent people through journalism and social media has continued.

For an innocent man’s reputation to be destroyed by the media and for the media to not learn and change from this is mind-boggling. Jewell felt like the media jumped on him “like piranha on a bleeding cow.” He also stated in interviews that he could never get his name back.

It is a tough situation for journalists to be in when they have to do their jobs and inform the public, but also have to keep in mind that the reputation of a possibly innocent suspect is on the line.

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