FAU students support guns on campus


I read a brief story on the NBC6 Miami website this morning that spiked a concern that has been resonating with American citizens for a long time, especially this past year. It relates back to the age-old issue of this nation’s gun laws.

Just last month, nine people were killed in a shooting at an Oregon community college. That incident was just one out of many tragic school shootings that have occurred in this country in the past decades, and it brought more attention to an already controversial issue.

This morning, I read that a bill is making its way through Florida state legislature that could legalize the carrying of guns on the campuses of public colleges. It is currently against the law, but the bill recently passed a Senate committee. I was shocked to see that Florida Atlantic University students are actually pushing in support of the bill, especially in the aftermath of the Oregon shooting.

Evidently, the mindset of those who are in support of legalizing the carrying of firearms is aligned with the idea that it will not impact the likelihood of another school shooting. Some students were saying that all the law would do is allow students who already have a concealed carry permit outside of campus to legally carry their guns on campus – and if one were to act violently with their weapons, it would happen regardless of the legality of the situation.

What I don’t understand is why it is necessary to have a firearm on campus in the first place. I do agree that the legality of having a gun on campus wouldn’t alone be a motivating cause for a school shooting – such incidents are completely and utterly senseless, and they occur regardless of what state legislature says.

My concern here can be reduced to one word: access. Having firearms present on a place like a college campus – in classroom buildings, dormitories, or fraternity and sorority houses – adds an immediate element of danger to the environment. We all know how easily things can be stolen or fall into the wrong hands and a college campus is a high-pressure environment. As unfortunate as it is, it’s not rare to see many students at any university struggle with mental health issues or develop violent behavior for whatever reason, and it can never be predicted what any one person is capable of.

Obviously, if a killer is set on shooting students or others on campus for whatever sick reason, they will find a way to make it happen regardless of whether or not guns may already be present on campus. I just think that it is completely unnecessary to approve a law that really has no benefits, yet has the potential to be extremely lethal.

Especially after the shooting in Oregon this year, and the shooting at FSU last year where three were shot, I find it absurd that students are pushing in favor of this law. I try not to be close-minded to anything, but I must say at this point in time I have a very firm position against the possibility of this bill being passed.

Chafee’s campaign comes to end


When I was going through the news this morning, I noticed that among the headlines regarding the primary race for the upcoming 2016 election was Lincoln Chafee’s announcement that he was ending his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Being that Chafee is the former governor of Rhode Island, my home state, I had been keeping up with his campaign since he announced his participation this past June. Since then, he hasn’t had an overwhelming amount of support behind him – Hillary Clinton has surely been stealing the spotlight lately, especially this past week where she did well in the debates and her competition, Virginia Senator Jim Webb as well as Vice President Joe Biden, both dropped out. The fact that he followed suit isn’t exactly groundbreaking news to many.

Regardless, seeing the announcement brought back a few memories of when he was actively governing my home state that made me think about all the pressures that politicians face when they constantly have the media watching their every move.

Chafee’s son, Caleb, was actually a high school classmate of mine when I attended Portsmouth Abbey School. He was in the graduating class above mine and we were good friends, as we both boarded on campus and it was a close-knit community. The week of his graduation, all the seniors ended their classes earlier than the rest of the students, and we had final exams while they were celebrating “grad week” – an annual week notorious for off-campus parties.

Caleb threw a party at his house while his parents were out of town and one girl who attended it ended up being hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. Everyone there was obviously under age, and the police inevitably got involved. Suffice to say, it stirred up a lot of publicity seeing as the party took place at the governor’s house and Rhode Island has a strict social host law which left Gov. Chafee responsible for the events that took place there. It was a bit of a local scandal in the weeks surrounding the incident.

Obviously what had happened was innocent enough, and there wasn’t that much damage done by the news media to Chafee’s reputation in the aftermath, but it did leave an impact on Caleb’s personal life (he ended up having to defer a year from Brown to do community service abroad in order to restore the University’s confidence in him as a freshman admit).

At the time, I didn’t really know much about the news media’s role in politics, but now that I’m a journalism major, it makes me more fully understand how critical that role is. Had the incident happened this past spring, Chafee may never have decided to even enter the race at all, considering it would have occurred in entirely different circumstances.

The incident would have been magnified under the lens of the news media and entire nation would have known about it — and it would have been used as a weapon against him by his competitors.  The things that occur to a person have an entirely different meaning when that person is a potential presidential candidate and it is the media that is single-handedly responsible for this fact.

Although the incident happened years ago and is water under the bridge at this point in time, especially since Chafee is no longer campaigning, it’s very interesting to me how I can look at the things that have happened in the past now with the eyes of a journalist, rather than just another on-looker.

Twitter used to contact Oregon witness


Like the majority of the nation, I have been following the news about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, which occurred yesterday at 10:40 a.m. and killed 10 people. One thing that came across my feed was an article about a girl who had been on campus when the shooting happened and tweeted, in live time, about the incident. The user @KP_KaylaMarie, a student at the school, tweeted: “Omg there’s someone shooting on campus.” at 10:41, followed by another tweet the minute after: “Students are running everywhere. Holy God.”

The power and immediacy of social media sites like Twitter have been revealed to all of us by now and we’re reminded of it in situations like these. What I found so incredible about the situation was that within minutes of her tweet, her timeline was flooded with incoming tweets from news reporters all over the nation, requesting information and interviews. She was approached, via Twitter, by reporters from ABC News, CNN, New York Daily News, Al Jazeera, and BBC News among others, all requesting phone interviews.

Of course every station wants to be up-to-date on the latest news and they all want their exclusives from eyewitnesses. It’s how the media works. But this girl was basically struggling to stay alive amid the chaos of a mass shooting, and meanwhile, all of these stations are blowing up her Twitter feed trying to secure their interview and up their ratings. Obviously I don’t blame the news media for wanting they information — it’s their job. However, I think there’s a time and a place to get it and it looks pretty insensitive in this scenario.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that it’s actually been proved time and time again that bringing a lot of media attention to senseless tragedies like shootings heavily influences future shooters. Adding that factor into this situation definitely makes me more frustrated with the news stations that approached the girl, because instead of taking into consideration the part they play in preventing future shootings, they’re desperate to get a hot lead on the one happening currently.

The situation in general frustrates me, because obviously the shooting was completely senseless with nothing good coming from it. It’s hard to sugar-coat any way of approaching witnesses when it’s about this type of incident, but it’s these situations that remind why so many people are resentful of the media and the manner in which they cover the news.

Trump re-enters war with Fox News


It is no secret that Donald Trump has been extremely vocal when it comes to his experiences with the news media during his campaign for office these past few months. He has notoriously bashed not only individual reporters, but entire news networks themselves, and much of this has been documented through his Twitter posts and live interviews. His controversial presence on social media and verbal attacks on individual journalists as well as entire news networks has become a defining factor of his campaign – let’s review.

One of the most substantial of these feuds occurred in early August, after Trump stepped out onto the Fox News debate stage and was questioned by reporter Megyn Kelly about his sexist remarks in the past. Trump responded the next day through a twitter tantrum attacking Kelly, as well as a few other Fox News personalities. He also addressed the debacle in an interview with CNN, saying, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her … wherever.” Soon after the remark, he was disinvited to a Red State event by Erick Erickson, a Fox News contributor. It had appeared that Trump had started a war with one of the most influential networks, especially for Republicans.

Trump eventually mended his relationship with Fox News after clearing the air with Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes. But as of this past Wednesday, it appears that the “war” between Trump and Fox News is back on.

On Megyn Kelly’s Fox News talk show, conservative columnist Rich Lowry asserted that Carly Fiorina had castrated Trump during the CNN debate last week. Lowry referred to Trump’s private parts, saying that Fiorina had the “precision of a surgeon”.

Obviously, the statement created a lot of shock, prompting Trump to tweet that Lowry was “incompetent” and that “he should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him.” The conflict continued to heat up, leading to Trump’s declaration via Twitter that he would be boycotting Fox News because the network has treated him “very unfairly”.

Fox News addressed Trump’s boycott in its statement about the cancellation of his scheduled appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor”, but declined to specify what had canceled the appearance. However, according to CNN, an unidentified Fox News spokesperson said about the issue: “When coverage doesn’t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and hosts, which has grown stale and tiresome. He doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.”

Now, we’re all waiting to see how long Trump’s latest war with the news media will last. A boycott with Fox News means that he will miss out on access to the millions of viewers who are tuning into the network each night for coverage of the 2016 race. And what will the repercussions be? As of Thursday afternoon, Trump is already down 8 points in the latest CNN/ORC national poll. Only time will show how his campaign will continue to be affected by the turmoil with Fox.

It’s important to pay close attention to Trump’s controversial relationship with the news media throughout his participation in the race. All of these feuds have been made extremely public, and the drama surrounding Trump’s campaign is going to play a crucial role in an election that we will all be impacted by. If there’s anything we need to be keeping up with, it’s the news coverage of the 2016 race – and  as we watch these disputes unfold, we will be able to observe, firsthand, the role that the news media play in politics and the impact that it can have.

Buzzfeed: the news of social media


The young adults of today’s generation are the ones who have grown up with the Internet and have learned how to harness its unique powers – most notably in the forms of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Inevitably, the prominence of social media in every day life has impacted the way news is communicated and shared. While it seems to be a common trend for teenagers and other young people to ignore major online news hubs such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or The Washington Post among others, this young generation of Internet users are still getting exposure to the major stories of the moment.

The accessibility of such content stems from the new-age journalistic style that has established a major presence on social media – and no news company has made a bigger name for itself with the younger generation than BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti and Kenneth Lerer, and the site’s content has since reached a global audience of more than 200 million. According to the website, it is “re-defining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology” – and judging by its popularity and ubiquity across the world wide web, it is generally considered to be the face of future journalism.

When BuzzFeed first came onto my radar a year or two back, the site was best known for its “listicles” (list + articles), quizzes, clever GIFs (brief animated clips), and coverage of light-hearted material like celebrities and pop culture. I first discovered BuzzFeed through Facebook – I would constantly see my friends sharing links to funny or relatable articles with their friends, and due to the very public nature of Facebook’s stream, the same links would often be shared over and over again.

Users would acknowledge the articles on their news feed, and if feeling the same connection to it, be prompted to re-post it elsewhere. That’s how Buzzfeed has attracted so many viewers – it thrives off of traffic generated by third-party sites like Facebook and other social media outlets (Twitter), opening the floodgates to global exposure and allowing for its content to “go viral”.

What makes Buzzfeed such a successful new form of journalism is that the structure of the stories really work with social media. The pieces are often quirky, visually creative, and often take an angle that is relatable to younger generations. This obviously poses a major contrast to traditional style of news stories that you can find on the more serious news publications of today, like the ones I listed above. The types of stories that trend on Facebook aren’t wordy and academic; they’re short, fun pieces with headlines and pictures that immediately grab a user’s attention as they scroll down their newsfeed.

You might object, saying that a lot of the Buzzfeed content that goes viral isn’t really news – and yes, it’s true that a lot of it really is just silly speculation on trivial issues that are published for entertainment above anything. That may be how the site first took off, but it certainly isn’t how it’s operating today. Buzzfeed now covers all kinds of global news, whether it be on the economy, tech or politics. Scrolling down the site, one can find anything from “16 Magical Gifts All Unicorn Lovers Will Appreciate” to dispatches about the war in eastern Ukraine or terrorist attacks in Kenya.

Journalism is constantly evolving as new technologies reshape the way we communicate. I don’t know how the technological developments of the future will change the landscape of how news is shared in the coming decades, but the form of journalism that characterizes Buzzfeed is certainly redefining the kind of news we relied on in the past. In the world of print journalism, it is important to note how social media have become a platform for not just social contact between peers, but for the distribution of news as well. It will be interesting to see how this new style of journalism flourishes in the coming years and the ways in which it impacts the younger generations.

Sensationalism of 9/11 video coverage


Today marks the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, an event that changed America in so many ways – with news coverage being one of them.

The live coverage of the jets hitting the World Trade Center in New York City exposed millions of Americans to the horror that was happening, in real time, during the terrorist attack. News networks did not have time to plan a way to present the footage in any scripted manner; it didn’t matter if you were the anchorman of NBC or a stay-at-home mother watching the TV in her kitchen as she made her children breakfast. We were all faced with a crisis, and we were all able to see it unfold before our eyes – and that’s the kind of sensationalism that has impacted news coverage and shaped the way viewers react and commemorate certain events in the past 14 years.

Certainly the 9/11 attacks would still be a landmark event in American history, regardless if they had been caught on camera or not. However, the sensational – and horrifying — footage had so many immediate implications on the nation, both for the viewers and the media.

In the days after the attacks, David Westin, president of ABC News, ordered the the video not be repeated continuously so as not to disturb viewers, especially children. This type of decision raises the ethical question that journalists have been faced with time and time again, about where to draw the line in terms of how much we expose to the public. This applies to not only disturbing content, but content that threatens national security – which also became a major issue in the aftermath of 9/11, which I won’t get into here.

But where is that line? There is no definitive answer, but most would agree that even if coverage is shocking and violent, the viewer has the right to see it. In cases like 9/11, there really is no warning for such a catastrophe, and in live situations, there really is no opportunity for such a question to even be considered. In fact, in the past week or so, the nation has been abuzz about the live coverage of the shooting of two journalists by their former co-worker while broadcasting for WDBJ. The entire event was caught on camera and aired live without warning. And that coverage – that immediate visual access to the gruesome tragedy – completely changed the way the news was handled and perceived. The live video element of the story created a sensational wake following the incident that has sparked debate about the nation’s gun laws and other security issues. People are shot and killed every hour of the day throughout the world; but it was the live coverage of the event that made this one particular incident so sensational.

In this day and age, the landscape for journalism is constantly evolving with the developments of new technologies that give way to new platforms of communication. Video footage has been the leading form of journalism that has created lasting reaction in the past decades, and with technologies like smart phones and online platforms like social media, content has become immediately accessible to almost everyone. The footage of the 9/11 attacks that was recorded 14 years ago today is a landmark for broadcast journalism to show just how lasting the impact of visual news coverage can be.