Long live your Facebook pages


Facebook has taken social media to a whole new level. There has been a new feature added that allows a dead, yes, i said dead, user to be able to continue to post.

As bizarre as it might seem, it’s really just a way for account users to pass on their pages to someone who will continue to update it on their behalf. The user will be able to add friend requests or pin a post to your timeline. However, they won’t be able to post as the deceased or see any of their messages.

This option is based on permission. Just as there is an option to make your profile a legacy, there is an option to have your page permanently deleted after death. The choice is yours.

Media need to stop talking about Kanye


Sure, journalists have to keep the public informed. But when does it become too much coverage? The media so often spend days covering the same topic, but it can quickly become uninteresting, at least in my opinion. My attention span is only so long. I don’t want to hear the same story, even with some variation, for weeks on end.

Cue the disaster that is Kanye West. Luckily, up until this past weekend when the Grammys took place, talk of Mr. West had been minimal. Then, he, of course, had to ruin this peaceful period of time by causing a scene at one of the biggest nights in music. And now, the media can’t stop talking about him.

It’s only been a few days since the awards show aired and I’m already sick of hearing about him. This just shows how fast the media need to move. When journalists linger on a topic for too long, interest diminishes. Sure, this mess of a human was interesting to read about at first, but now it’s time to move onto different news.

The media seem to be picking at anything they can to keep Kanye in the news. “Kanye West will simulcast the introduction of his new sneakers in movie theaters across the country;” “Kanye West blames Grammys stunt on ‘voices in my head’;” “See Kanye West perform for free this week” — the headlines go on and on. It makes sense — journalists are taking advantage of the Kanye hype. But there’s a point where it all becomes too much and that point is now.

Journalists need to keep the media moving; in my mind, there isn’t much that’s worse than a slow news day. And thanks to Kanye and the journalists that are seemingly infatuated with him, this week has been full of slow media days.

If you have bias, at least admit it


One of the primary tenets of journalism is impartiality. In an ideal world, all news sources would be perfectly objective and never speak a word out of turn. But this is the real world, with news sources run by real people, so remaining completely impartial is easier said than done.

Some news sources seemed to have abandoned this notion of impartiality. From what I’ve heard from most people, the first examples of this that come to mind are MSNBC and Fox News. These news organizations have been known to report news containing obvious biases.

But I don’t have a problem with them.

As stated, the biases are obvious. Although the company motto of Fox may be “fair and balanced”—granted—no one there is hiding anything when they publish and broadcast stories about the Benghazi panel when others have moved on. Similarly, no one at the Drudge Report is keeping any secrets when “IRS PAYS ILLEGALS FOR BABIES” is a teaser headline on their homepage.


Source: drudgereport.com

When you come to news sources like these, you should know what you’re getting. No one is trying to fool you; the bias is too open for that.

What I personally find more conniving is when bias is existent, but less apparent. This kind of bias is more sly, attempting to subconsciously sway readers without tipping them off about those intentions. This is underhanded, in my opinion, and thus more reprehensible.

Take CNN, for example. An informal survey of my friends will tell you that many people my age consider CNN to be a reliable source of unbiased information. At face value, I might agree with them — but a closer inspection of headlines reveals something different.

IMG_5406Consider this screenshot at the left from the CNN iPhone application.

That headline regarding vaccines technically says nothing wrong. No journalistic principles were violated.

But the request posed by CNN is worded in a way that psychologists would compare to a leading question. It draws readers’ attention to parents who do not vaccinate their children, pointing the finger at a group that has recently received a lot of flack and inviting messages from their opposition, because opponents of an issue are more likely to respond voluntarily to requests like these than sympathizers, who expect attack, and much more than those who are simply ambivalent.

To gauge an honest reflection of the public’s views, the website could impartially ask readers to state their opinion about the issue of vaccinations in general, very easily. But it did not.

I understand that the sly nature of the bias is strategic from a business standpoint; no currently respected news source wants to become the household name of bias like Fox News or MSNBC. But in that case, you might as well honor the journalistic code and remove your biases altogether.

Half research, half writing, all journalism


Reporting on current events seems very simple from an outside perspective. Ask some questions, write down the answers, and then post the article on a medium: BAM, journalism.

Au contraire, the process of creating a well-saturated news story requires far more work and effort from the journalist. The goal of journalism is to deliver the truth by any ethical means necessary, which may require more than a basic Q&A.

Before conducting an interview, a journalist will usually prepare a list of questions or topics to discuss with the interviewee. Journalists are researchers. These discussion tools are a condensed version of all the research and inquiry the journalist made about the news topic.

Take for instance the recent CNN article about a ‘Hunger Games’ tour in Atlanta. Before writing this article, the journalist probably had to research what the “Hunger Games” was and why they had a tour set in Atlanta. He or she probably had to look up the company that was producing the tour to contact. The journalist may have also had to go to Atlanta and experience the tour for themselves.

Journalistic research can be a simple keyword search on Google or an elaborate voyage to an unknown place just to get a better synopsis of the topic at hand. Perhaps this is part of the reason why journalists, such as myself, fall in love with this field of study. Journalism combines our thirst for knowledge and love of writing than can lead us to an ambiguous quest.

Humans of The White House


Humans of New York

If you have not heard of it before today, you will know about it soon. Brandon Stanton, the creator of the Facebook pages known as HONY, has forever changed the life of Vidal Chastanet, a young boy from a Brooklyn Middle School.

What was an extremely popular photo series blog created by Stanton, turned into a vehicle for change. Just by sharing a few kind words about a very important person in Vidal’s life, the lives of Vidal and those around him have changed forever.

Stanton’s blog shows ordinary people and gives insight into their extraordinary lives, and that is exactly what this story has become, extraordinary. After Vidal expressed his sentiments for his middle school principle Nadia Lopez on Stanton’s site, the photo went viral, and the viewers of HONY did what they do best which was to offer all they could to assist in the aims of Vidal’s principal, Lopez. With Stanton heading the fundraiser, the school managed to raise $1.2 million — far exceeding their initial aims.

One boy’s kind words helped raise $1.2 million, helped provide the additional support his principal needed to continue fighting for what she believed in and got him to where he was this past Thursday, The White House.

In perhaps the most important of Stanton’s photo stories, he captures President Barack Obama’s words “You don’t do things alone. Nobody does things alone. Everybody always needs support. For a young man like you, you should never be too afraid or too shy to look for people who can encourage you or mentor you,” Obama said. “There are a lot of people out there who want to provide advice and support to people who are trying to do the right thing. So you’ll have a lot of people helping you. Just always remember to be open to help. Never think that you know everything. And always be ready to listen.”

President Obama’s words could not be closer to the truth and Vidal’s story is proof of just that.

Coverage of ISIS crisis varies by nation


As I was browsing Tumblr, I came upon a post about ISIS and an argument about why the news media only focus on certain topics more than others. We only read what the media wants us to read.

Muath ALKaseasbeh was burned to death and no attention was given to that horrible news. This left me very irritated and astonished. Not enough coverage was made to report the story. No attention was given to this disgusting act of human torturing! Burning someone to death while they are still alive is brutal, cruel and inhumane. Why do so? Why? Do they want to prove a point? Do they have a certain goal? This is not proper Islam. And the act scene in a video does not represent me as a Muslim.

Terrorism is and will never be connected to Islam; Islam is a religion that is specifically known for its generosity and mercy amongst people. Islam was never set to be this way. No religion or belief strives to kill people and torture them brutally.

CNN only presented the main idea of the story but did not specify what really happened and why. Muath ALKaseasbeh is a Jordanian pilot in the Jordanian Air Force who was held hostage by the ISIS group and killed after his plane was crashed due to unknown reasons in Northern Syria.

The crash determined his fate. He was captured and held hostage at the ISIS headquarters till Tuesday where he was filmed to be inside a cage wearing an orange prisoner’s suit. Burned and tortured to death, Muath suffered a painful end and the American media did not do its job to show their interest and concern about this tragedy, as did the Arab world.

This is just one of many stories and news reports the American media kept quiet about and did not raise any concern and awareness. This should not be the case. All news reports should be vital no matter what the subject was. And since there are many Arabic and Middle Eastern tourists and students the media should also require and include Middle Eastern concerns. The media should also include the difference between actual Muslims and terrorists, because ISIS as an Islamic Organization does not represent me as a Muslim nor as an Arab.

Legislation strikes at LGBTQ community


As of this new year, many Florida conservatives were taken aback by the decision made by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. He has made it so each of the 67 Florida counties must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This is a huge step for gay rights, but as with most political happenings in Florida, we take one step forward and then someone decides to take two steps back.

Now a specific group of the LGBTQ community is being ostracized in a vindictive, hypocritical and very invasive way. The most intolerant and bigoted of our state’s legislators have proposed a bill that could have a trans-person charged with a first-degree misdemeanor by using a bathroom that the legislation determines is wrong based on their “biological sex.”

I would like to believe that by this day and age people are starting to be a little more accepting of others and understand that for the most part, gender is a social construct. Yes, you have a biological sex at birth, but what deems someone male or female has very little to do with their sex organs and much more to do with how they feel comfortable presenting themselves to the world.

Unfortunately, those in the state legislature do not see it the same way. This bill would basically put the power in the hands of the bully. If a trans-person is caught using a bathroom not matching their “biological sex” they can be sentenced up to one year in prison. If any non-trans-person finds a trans-person in a bathroom not matching their “biological sex” they can sue. If the business owner of where the bathroom is located does not actively prevent trans-people from using the “wrong” bathroom, they can be sued by customers as well and are liable for a civil suit.

It is as methodically spiteful and malicious as it is frustrating. The icing on the cake is that if sued successfully, the trans-person or the business owner, will have to pay the attorney fees of all parties involved.

This bill is a blatant discriminatory act against trans-people and those who support them. Not only does it condone the harassment of trans-people, but if also impedes on the rights of store owners to be non-discriminatory. The LGBTQ community faces constant violence, discrimination, humiliation and an overwhelming amount of hatred in this county, this bill takes a step even further and leaves them nowhere to hide.

It’s your Internet, use it without limits


The creation and development of the Internet has made many people’s lives so much easier. You can find literally anything that you are looking for, with the exception of some private documents held by the individuals or the government. Businesses, organizations and people alone use it for everything.

On Feb. 26, 2015, there will be a debate as to how fast the Internet can be for certain Web sites. It’s kind of like how a cellphone company promises you unlimited data but slows down after you have used a certain amount of LTE, or long term evolution. It basically determines the speed of how fast your phone processes information. Same goes for certain Web sites.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will meet to discuss whether the Internet will remain open, or net neutral, and continue to give all Web sites the same speed, or give the Internet providers the right to determine which Web sites are their priorities.

Some members of the FCC will be fighting for net neutrality, which is the open-ended Internet that we all now use and love. The others, including Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, will be arguing for an Internet that is overseen by the government. He wants an Internet that prioritizes Web sites. In other words, Web sites that are used by a lot of people will get the higher speed while others will be slowed down or won’t be able to be used at all.

This change could cause havoc for people around the world. The Internet is not only for business but also for entertainment. Let’s hope for the best and keep the Internet in the hands of the people.

Privacy: Where do we draw line?


By now, most people have probably heard the sad recent news regarding Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown. While she’s still fighting for her life, her situation brings to light a highly debated issue in journalism: Where do journalists draw the line between doing their job and respecting one’s privacy?

Brown’s family has been told by doctors that there isn’t much that can be done to help her. They’re obviously grieving and attempting to cope with the grim news, but they can only do so much when the whole world watches in wonder. This is where journalists come in. From the articles I’ve read thus far, they’ve gotten quotes from family members and the police, but I have a hard time deciding if even that is too much for a grieving family.

The last thing someone in that situation would want is the public poking their noses into their difficult situation. For this reason, I believe that journalists should give privacy when necessary and/or requested. If someone wants to speak to the media, all the power to them. But I believe that until it gets to that point, if it ever does, journalists should keep their distance and respect their privacy. After all, I’m sure that’s what they would want if the roles were reversed.

Is media coverage too free?


Although freedom of speech and personal expression are undoubtedly celebrated in the media by the wide range of topics covered, the recent execution of Japanese journalist and ISIS hostage Kenji Goto lead me to wonder whether certain topics should be covered?

The late Kenji Goto was a freelance video journalist who covered topics such as wars and conflicts, poverty, AIDS and child education around the world. Goto was captured by Islamic State militants only a day after entering Syria to try and rescue Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, despite being warned not to.

ISIL released a video on Jan. 20 demanding $200 million from the Japanese government for the release of Goto and Yukawa. A few days later, another video was released with Goto holding a photo of the decapitated Yukawa and audio saying they would exchange Goto’s life for the return of Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, a suicide bomber. When ISIL realized the exchange would not happen, a video was released of Goto’s beheading.

In another story of a journalist being held hostage, a New York Times journalist, David Rohde, and two of his associates were kidnapped by the Taliban while in Afghanistan doing research for a book in November 2008. Their kidnappers were quick to make contact with many American news outlets including The New York Times. Their ransom: the release of Taliban prisoners being held in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay and millions of dollars. The men were held captive for seven months before Rohde and Ludin made an escape.

The difference between the stories of Goto and Rohde were how much the media covered their capture. The capture of Goto was widely publicized on international news outlets all the way down to local station across the world. On the other hand, when Rohde was captured, the media barely covered it.

That is not to say one life was more important than the other. Rhode’s capture was not widely publicized because The New York Times requested a media blackout of the abduction in order to maximize Rhode’s chances of survival.

This difference in story coverage could lead to the question of whether it is ethical for journalist to hide a story when it is their obligation to report timely events. I personally think the difference in coverage really just shows the balancing act and difficult choices the media must sometimes make: informing the public or potentially further endangering the life of someone.

Although each hostage case is different and many factors must be taken in account, it is hard not to wonder whether Goto’s story could have ended differently.

Mexico resorts to torturing police


A few months ago, students from a local college called la Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa, were protesting government education reforms that would raise fees, therefore making it nearly impossible for many of the citizens to afford school. The police were asked to handle the situation, which resulted in six deaths and 43 missing students.

Although there is some evidence, such as gang member confessions and identified remains, the case is still open and under investigation. Although reports of the countless protests as well as the Mexican government’s methods of gathering evidence continue to surface, authorities are not much closer to finding those responsible.

It has even been reported by Mexican journalists that, in order to close the case, the government has resorted to torturing police officers in an attempt to gather confessions. In certain medical reports found by journalists, it was said that more than two dozen police officers have been beaten, given electric shocks and “psychologically tortured.”

According to officials, the police abducted these 43 students, then handed the victims to members of the Guerreros Unidos gang. It was suspected that the students were killed and burned at a nearby dump by three gang members and after burning the bodies, the gang members were supposedly ordered to place the remains in garbage bags and throw them in the San Juan River. When searching the river for evidence, one garbage bag was found intact with human remains inside.

Since the disappearance of the students on Sept. 26, protests have broken out all across Mexico. Not only have there been multiple acts of vandalism, but protestors have also blocked roads and tollbooths. The protests have even spread to the capital, where thousands of civilians are demanding that the missing students get the justice they deserve.

The general public has also criticized Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for not taking action immediately after the news of the students’ disappearances spread. As a result, Pena decided to take a leave of absence, but later returned stating that, “what happened in Iguala was a terrible event that has caused indignation and led us to an introspection because such things should never happen again.”