Google renovates its campus for future


Google has new ideas for renovations for its California campus. It has a sci-fi feel to it and plans to implement a lot of new technology. The plan is to display how far the company has come. There are plans for light-weight block structures that can be moved around as the company continues to grow. New inventions such as self driving cars, solar powered drones and robots.

The company is taking a huge step into the future, literally. It’s almost like a playground for the company research projects. Google is well known for the inspiration it provides for its employees. It is always moving forward and it keeps the employees in tune with their work. Sort of like a way to encourage workers to stay on top of their game.

“Different segments within the buildings’ canopies will ‘form small villages’ where employees can work or relax,” a Google representative stated. There will be a new parking lot and under used areas will be turned in to “native ecosystems” such as wetlands or re-integrated oak trees.

If the plans are approved Google will increase its square footage by millions.

Which came first — Chicken or the egg?


Anyone who has recently logged onto the Internet (or spoken to another human being who happens to use the Internet) has likely been bombarded with this question: What color is the dress?



Originally a post on Tumblr, the image of this controversial color-changing dress has circulated around the Internet overnight—and not just on social media. Major news organizations have entire articles discussing this optical illusion, including (but certainly not limited to) Fox News, CNN, Wired, The Independent, Daily Mail and The Guardian.

The outbreak of this controversy occurred only yesterday. No discussion is needed to know that an optical illusion is not normally headline news, particularly when a “murder spree” across multiple homes in Missouri leaving nine dead occurred on the same day. I repeat, there is no discussion. Yet news coverage of the story has already become pervasive.

So what makes this situation special?

Is it an indication of how deeply entrenched social media has become in our society, and so news organizations have an obligation to report this story because it now matters deeply to the public? Do news organizations need to reevaluate what is important to include “events” on social media?

Or was this specific event on social media so insanely widespread that it called for news coverage, based purely on its abnormal scope?

But would the event have become this widespread if news media chose not to cover it in the first place? Which came first — The chicken or the egg?

These are the inane questions that keep me up at night, ladies and gentlemen.

…Just for the record, the dress is blue.

What we should be reporting at Oscars


Last weekend, the media went crazy covering the Oscars. On almost every new media outlet, there was a section on the best and worst looks on the red carpet as well as the winners for each category, but is that what should have been focused on?

Instead of clothing being front page news, it should have been replaced by several aspects of the Oscars that have significant news and social value. For example, when Patricia Arquette won her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, she used her acceptance speech time to voice her opinions on wage inequality.

In her speech, Arquette declared, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women.The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make,” she said. “It is time for us. Equal means equal.”

Another example of a speech that touched an important subject was Best Documentary winner, Dana Perry. When accepting her award, Perry dedicated her speech to her son who had committed suicide.

“I lost my son,” Perry told reporters after the speech. “We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying sweep it under the rug.”

Despite the fact that wage inequality and suicide are still present issues in our society, there was not as much coverage on these particular speeches as there was about who was wearing what. It’s time that journalism, whether it is entertainment new or hard news, gets its act together and report what deserves to be reported.

Net neutrality and journalism


On Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to implement new rules regarding Internet neutrality. These rules make sure that Internet service providers allow open access to all legal content and applications.

What does this have to do with journalism you ask?

In the digital age that we live in, half of all Americans use the Internet as their main source for news. For the younger generations, up to 70 percent say it’s their main source for information.

Imagine if Fox News used Comcast as a service provider while CNN used AT&T. Depending on the amount of money either service provider could pay would determine the kinds of stories you are allowed read and block the ones they didn’t want you to see.

Big companies would be able to spend larger amounts of money for faster services while smaller, independent companies would be stuck with slower access because that’s all they could afford. People would prefer going to the larger company’s site because they would rather not have to wait longer for their videos, pictures or stories to load. In some ways that is a form of censorship. That is a clear violation of our First Amendment.

Thankfully, due to this recent ruling all information will still be available to everyone will any kind of Internet service.

Without research, there is no story


As I sit here working on an article for a sports website I write for, I’m realizing just how important it is in journalism to conduct thorough research. I often read articles that have only one source and/or very little information. What good does that do?

Research is vital.

The article I’m currently working on profiles an athlete and, if I wrote it only using my knowledge, I wouldn’t have much of an article at all. I’d have a few sentences at best. While gathering all of the information needed to write something like an athlete profile can be a long and tedious process, it’s imperative. So, I read information about the player on several Web sites and I conducted interviews with people who are very knowledgeable on the topic. By the time I was done with my research, I was ready to write. I finally had more than enough information to begin the actual writing process, which brings me to this current moment.

This process has made me wonder how a journalist could possibly write an article without first gathering relevant facts. And not just the basic facts that scratch the surface; I’m talking about the in-depth facts that have to be dug up from the depths of several resources. Every article needs some meat to it. Without it, the article is most likely going to be bland and ineffective in delivering the necessary information.

Therefore, an article isn’t actually an article until proper research is conducted. Journalism relies on research and without it, the industry would be practically useless.

Essay resonates in CNN forum


I recently happened upon an article written by a young girl in India on the CNN website, titled ‘My country’s problem with menstruation’ the article tackles taboos surrounding menstruation in India. Being a young Indian girl, this article resonated with me and there was a level of depth and understanding I derived from this that I do not normally experience with most news articles.

The essay by 18-year-old Anisha Bhavani was picked up from the iReport section of CNN, which essentially is a forum where you can share original essays exploring personal identity and the things that affect and eventually make up who we are.

For the first time, CNN picked up an essay from iReport and showcased it on its main website. This to me marked a major transition for online bloggers and young writers out there today. The fact that something written from the perspective of a young girl, still in college, showcasing an intimate and personal anecdote of what it means to be a young woman in India was taken seriously and posted on their main website speaks volumes.

It means that, in today’s world, young adults who have something to say, cannot only freely express themselves, but also be taken seriously.

Kick the media where it hurts


It is easy to point out the flaws in current media when there are women in bikinis eating burgers seductively.

But what if we spoke up? What if women (and men) would stop accepting these images to get better, more realistic content? One company has already imposed this idea. In 2004, Dove launched Campaign for Real Beauty to “provoke discussion and encourage debate.” Its first ad revealed women that were not frosted by makeup or stick thin; they represented a different definition of beauty.

 From then on, Dove has repeatedly produced ads such as this to continue to diminish the falsehood of beauty the media has engraved in us.

Speaking as a journalist, I know the power that can come from my words. I am aware of my ability to influence the minds of the public. However, as a consumer, I also have power. I have the capability to tell the media that their gender stereotypes are just no good.

Media have the power to mold us. Advertisers and producers will only feed us the content they know we will consume. As the audience, we can control this harsh media diet. If we stop accepting these false images of beauty and concepts of perfection, the media will have to get creative. If we demand for natural beauty, pro-feminism, and equality then we may finally start to receive it.

What’s trending? Ask Facebook


When you look up a particular news article, it is because you want to know more about what people are talking about today.

A couple of years ago, I would have gathered this information by what was on the front page of my local newspaper, by what my parents and friends were talking about or what I saw on television.

These days, however, I know what’s  “trending” thanks to my Facebook news feed. What’s best about the “trending” section on Facebook is that it combines news both in the entertainment area and world news.

For example, this week I was informed about Kim Jong Un’s new haircut from “Kim Jong-un Takes Cue From Fashion Week, Reveals Ambitious New Haircut” as well as the death of Harris Wittels from “Parks and Recreation’ Executive Producer Harris Wittels Found Dead.” My point is that you’re being told what you need to know in every aspect of your life now and, to some extent, it’s great. But there are some issues that come up.

Once again, Facebook makes it easier to avoid interacting directly with other people in order to make friends, connections and now get our daily news fix. We are being fed what we need to hear, need to know and need to see. It is removing our ability to make our own decisions, start our own interactions and discussions with others. In a world where everything is being handed to you, how do you step back, analyze and maintain your media literacy in order to take control of the information you take in today?

‘Public’ varies from place to place


There is a completely different understanding of public information of people’s private records in the U.S. and in Kuwait.

There is a different understanding of what privacy is in Kuwait. Kuwait is a conservative country that has a different idea of what information should be sent to the public and what is sent to designated parties: which include the private sector: ministry of the interior, lawyers, judges and police officers.

The law in Kuwait is French based and includes the Shareaa understanding. The American law is English-based but law of its own with separate ideals and beliefs.

It may be surprising to see and hear that, in the U.S., one can track and view any criminal reports about anyone online. Knowing this, it raised the question of whether or not this option and service is established in Kuwait.

Online information about crimes in Kuwait is not really accessible for the general public, but why not? Privacy is taken into consideration and one can’t view what he or she desires to know about someone. You might be able to have access to some private information if you have “Wasta,” which is an Arabic word that basically means using connections to get what you want, although it may be morally corrupt, it exists in there.

Yahoo! News has a problem


If I’m feeling crotchety and in the mood to get myself all disgruntled about journalism, I know the first place I need to visit: the Yahoo! News homepage.

On the screenshot below, I invite you to marvel at the juxtaposition of headlines:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 6.46.34 AM

A story about what could possibly be the largest-ever human exodus — I repeat, the largest-ever human exodus, a staggering story with widespread societal and environmental implications for more than 13 million people—is sandwiched between stories about a celebrity and an infamous dictator marketed like a celebrity. Without discussing the merits of entertainment journalism as a whole, I think it’s safe to say that those headlines should not be grouped together in the same category, at the bare minimum.

What’s more, we need to keep in mind the way that a company like Yahoo! structures its homepage. Headlines are placed in a purposeful order of importance, based on which articles the company thinks its readers should see most. According to the above order, Iggy Azalea’s absence from social media deserves more exposure than human-inhabited islands’ absence from the face of the planet.

Call me remarkably crotchety for my 19 years of age … but by golly, what the devil is going on here?

‘Our Story’ offers news option


The Snapchat “Our Story” is nothing new to all social media buffs, but the use of it as a reporting device adds a different level when it comes to reporting.

Current events being placed on everyone’s feed brings a new dimension to finding out more about different events going on around the world because it allows real-time videos to be posted and a new point of view to be seen.

As an aspiring fashion writer, I loved seeing live coverage of New York Fashion Week right on my phone. It’s one thing to be able to read about the latest trends and who attended what show in articles online but it is another thing to be able to view behind the scenes from the point of view from supermodels or fashion magazine writers.

Snapchat story has been known to show other events ranging from concerts like the Electric Daisy Carnival to international news like the “Je suis Charlie” movement to holidays such as New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world.

Although much of this wouldn’t be considered hard-hitting news, I think it helps people learn more about things going on around the world and helps show a first person point of view instead of hearing it from a reporter.

Snapchat’s “Our Story” is just another medium that shows us a new dimension in news reporting. I think it will be interesting to see where the next level of reporting takes us.

Award shows need reporters, too


As many people probably know, the Oscars are this weekend.

This means plenty of gold statues, film talk and fancy red carpet looks. But what about the people on the other side of the red carpet? Reporters will flock to the ceremony, looking to land interviews with the year’s biggest stars.

While the focus will be on the actors and actresses gracing our screen that night,  film industry and entertainment reporters play an important role, despite what some may believe. It may not be “serious journalism,” but what these reporters do is still important. Millions of people tune in to these award shows every year, so there’s clearly interest in what these stars do and say. Who is going to deliver this information to those watching at home? These reporters.

The content of their reporting may not be all that critical, but that doesn’t make it completely useless. There’s an audience for this type of reporting, so while it may be less important than the serious news of the day, it’s useful nonetheless. These reporters are doing what reporters do: they’re delivering information about a certain subject to the public. Again, while many may consider the subject to be questionable, it’s necessary based on the high viewership of these award shows.

So, when you’re watching the Oscars Sunday evening and rolling your eyes at the reporters bombarding the stars with questions, remember that they’re your source of information for the night. They may seem unimportant and trivial, but you wouldn’t learn anything new without them.

Student assaulted at Lynn University


About a week ago, the Boca Raton, Fla., police reported that an intruder was somehow able to sneak into a freshman dorm at Lynn University and assaulted young women.

According to police, the man walked into rooms of female students and grabbed them in inappropriate ways while trying to kiss them. He also tried to force himself on top of another girl while pinning her down on her bed.

Though the victims were able to escape and were uninjured, the students are still on edge about the incident and as a result, many are beginning to question the security at Lynn University. If a man who lives close to campus was able to just ride his bike and enter the premises without question from dorm security, what would stop another intruder from coming in and causing a more serious incident?

Once the intruder was captured, he was issued a no trespassing warning, which means he is banned from entering the campus, and was charged with burglary, assault and battery.

When asked for a comment on how the school is dealing with this situation, a Lynn University spokeswoman released this statement:

“We are working closely with Boca Raton police, who responded quickly to our request for assistance. We immediately cited the individual with trespassing which bans him from campus.The university has and will continue to provide support services to anyone who was impacted. Resident Assistants are working with residents to provide training and information about intruder prevention measures.”

What is the buzz about?


Buzzfeed, a name I am sure you have heard of before, is a name I see everyday. As a journalism student I have always aimed of writing in a way that is both entertaining and informative and I feel that Buzzfeed encompasses just that.

If you have not heard of Buzzfeed, it is essentially an American Internet news media company, created and founded by CEO and co-founder Jonah Perreti. Although Buzzfeed originally seems just entertainment oriented, at the root of it, it is an extremely multi-faceted Website where you can either take fun quizzes like ‘Which “Which ‘SNL’ Icon Are You?,” look up articles based entirely on cats “17 Extremely Helpful Cats” alongside articles about ISIS “U.S. Condemns ‘Despicable’ And ‘Cowardly’ ISIS Beheading Of Egyptian Christians In Libya.”

What makes Buzzfeed so buzz worthy is that it is one of a kind, audiences can interact with the website by clicking buttons like “OMG” or “LOL” depending on the article. In addition comments by viewers are taken seriously and Buzzfeed take the extra step to acknowledge the readers for noticing these errors.

Recently, Buzzfeed uploaded a video involving President Obama “Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About, Featuring President Obama.” Buzzfeed managed to not only provide an entertaining video featuring the most powerful man in America but editors also managed to inform the public about ObamaCare.

In an age where media are merging, so are the aims of articles. In today’s world, you do not need to choose between CNN and ENews. Buzzfeed is a one-stop shop to newsworthy stories whether its entertainment or serious news.  It is all about latest the buzz.

The controversy over vaccinations


One of the most controversial topics in the past few weeks has been whether or not the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks in the eyes of parents.

Although there are countless medical findings reporting that there is less than a one in one million chance of a person getting a severe or even fatal reaction, there are an increasing number of parents who rather not take the risk and decide to not get their children vaccinated.

When the majority of Americans hear about this rising issue, most people can not believe that anyone would even question whether or not vaccinations are necessary for children, who are more susceptible to various illness, or adults; however, there are several individuals who not only refuse to get vaccines for them or their children, but also blame vaccinations for serious illness such as autism, despite the fact there is no support to make that kind of connection.

It is because of this that thousands of Americans have written articles, posted on blogs, and even commented on Facebook warning parents to ignore this uncommon and, in many views, wrong approach to vaccinations.

Double standards exist in coverage


Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammed Abu-Salha, Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha, are you familiar with these names? Or are they names of random strangers to you?

These three “random” names were victims in a very strange and cruel racist act. They are three American Muslims who have been shot dead near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By who and why? Their racist white neighbor shot these three Muslim students. The sister of one victim, Deah, stated that they have seen numerous acts of verbal harassment that have come from that very same neighbor. Sadly, the reason behind the shooting was a stupid parking spot.

It is even more depressing to know that the media did not give them the attention that was deserved. Being shot dead for no legitimate and lawful reason is not a merciful act. And what is even more disturbing is that this crime was not discussed. The social media platform, Twitter, had a famous hashtag that went viral in all of social media for #jesuisCharlie, which was a massacre in which 12 people were killed at the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo.

Media did not direct the attention to this vicious crime, a crime that is so pathetic and hateful that it revealed racism towards the Muslim society in America. Within two days of the Charlie Hebdo attack the #jesuisCharlie slogan had become one of the most popular news hashtags in Twitter history. Unlike the Chapel Hill shooting, which gained recognition throughout social media only, however not even close to the Charlie Hebdo shooting. This reveals the racism towards the Muslim community as opposed to what would happen if the victims were of another religion.

At some point, writer’s block strikes


Writer’s block. At some point in every journalist’s career, they will run into some kind of writer’s block.

Quite the agonizing experience, truthfully. We want to write but the words are just not presenting themselves onto the page. So where does this condition come from?

There are a few possible symptoms that come from this diagnosis. Sometimes a topic for the article is hard to find. Other times, we do not have enough information to write a thorough story. Or maybe the topic is so captivating, that we just cannot find the proper way to start the article. And then there are times when we just do not have the motivation to write, which leads to procrastination; but that is a different story.

Whatever the reason may be, writer’s block can be caught by an innocent writer at any given time. However, there is hope.

To cure said writer’s block, a journalist can look at what is popular in the news or pop culture to get a topic idea. He or she could also re-interview their subjects or conduct more research to add to their article. If you are overzealous about writing your article, come up with an outline and brainstorm the skeleton of the article

Ironically enough, I experienced writer’s block creating this post. I have typed up and erased all of these sentences countless times, to the point that I reached a minor level of anxiety. My cure was simple: Get up, walk away and come back to it later. Once I returned, the hindering writer’s block disappeared … until next time.

NBC reveals much in Williams’ case


If I was reporting even a low-profile story in my town and fabricated a piece of information, I would be fired. For that matter, if I’m on the job under any circumstances and I fabricate information, I better start packing up my things. It’s a gross violation of the journalistic code, no questions asked.

But for some reason, when NBC anchor Brian Williams does it — with multiple instances of the crime, and in high-profile situations to boot — the network doesn’t know what to do with him.

He hasn’t been fired, yet. Instead, he’s been suspended for six months without pay, and that suspension was only announced once the popular anchor’s television ratings dropped following the outbreak of scandal.

The decisions made regarding Williams’ job, as well as the timeline of those decisions, are revealing. What separates me and Brian Williams (other than his wry smile, iconic silvery slicked-back hair and practically everything else) comes down to clout, and thus, money. Being the anchor of the number one evening news program, this even separates him from other big name anchors. And that appears to be why he’s receiving special, or lenient, treatment.

But there should be no room for special treatment regarding matters of journalistic integrity.

In this same vein, the coverage of the Williams scandal is also disproportionate. With article after article speculating the fate of his job, it is easy to forget that while in that helicopter in Iraq and while reporting on Hurricane Katrina, Williams was not alone. He was with a news team. People witnessed the truth, and their silence contributed to the cover-up for years until the scandal only recently broke.

Their crimes were just as severe as those of Williams, yet I’ve heard next to nothing about the state of those jobs. Since they aren’t the big name money-makers for NBC, it seems the media don’t regard their company-wide breach in integrity as too important, judging from the amount of media coverage they’ve received since the scandal.

As a journalist-hopeful, it’s troubling that our priorities are so out of line.

Journalism: Is it dying or evolving?


Today, I had a rather depressing conversation with an older neighbor. She was asking all the typical questions most 20-something-year-olds get: How’s school? What are you studying? What do you want to do? The conversation was light until I answered a question with “I’m a journalism major.” I was met with a passive aggressive, “Well … isn’t that a dying field, sweetie? Anyone can be a journalist now.”

My heart sank a little and every fiber of my being wanted to rip out the flowerbed that judgmental woman was watering. I held my breath.

Social media, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and other blogging sites are available to anyone who can afford the technology. While even I can admit that the prospect of iPhone-wielding teenagers becoming the majority of our news sources is fairly terrifying, the notion of journalism dying just because there are more means of “reporting” is, frankly, a cop out.

The way I see it is that journalism is not dying, but the playing field is getting increasingly larger and so is the number of players. The problem therein is competition. We need writers that can pull audiences away from what their sorority sister re-tweeted, what’s being shared on Facebook or re-posted on Instagram. I do believe that the challenge is not simply no one caring- its that everyone has media-induced attention deficit disorder.

The field of journalism is still alive and kicking-fighting actually. Fighting through the hoards of meaningless personality quizzes, “like if you agree” posts, and celebrity gossip to get to what is happening in the real world.

Ignorance about public records


This week, the topic of public records and the information people can gather by looking at these documents came up in not just one but two of my classes. By just logging in online, a person can find out if you own a house, if the house is paid off, what kind of car you have, your tag number, any criminal charges against you, whether you own a gun and much more.

The thought that so much of your personal information is available online for anyone to see can be a little daunting. I know I think it is, even though I know I have nothing to hide.

The uses of these tools for a journalist are invaluable to finding out basic background information before delving further into a story. Some people just fail to realize that this is all public information and become upset when certain information, such as a map of all the gun permits in their area, is published.

Despite the fact that it’s scary to think your information is open to anyone, I think the use of public records to gain more knowledge on a story is a great tool. It can lead to new information in a story that you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise and can give a great background toward any kind of story.