The ugly truth about the conflict


On a recent PBS Frontline, the impending chaos of ISIS was shown. While the current situation is grim, a new longstanding threat is being made. Children as young as three years old are being taught jihad and the violence that comes with “defending the faith,” like how to shoot guns, throw grenades, and behead “infidels.” The documentary gave viewers a firsthand look at the crisis that is being passed onto another generation.

With the recent Paris attacks and the hinted threat to Washington D.C., ISIS has generated the momentum that they want in terms of media fame. They want to be recognized as a threat, and are proving just that with these terrorist attacks.

Journalists live dangerously, as Najibullah Quraishi risked his life to give us this story. Journalists must have a wide variety of adaptable skills, as shown by Najibullah’s determination to get this story to us. Camped out in an ISIS controlled community, he narrates the story of these young children being exposed to all of the violence so early on.

The news media have the power of unleashing the ugly truth, but it is what we need to see in order to realize what is going on. Many people may be unaware of the whole situation and only recently heard of this threat when the Paris attacks occurred. This is why the media needs to show the hard truth in order to illicit a response that can multiply into awareness and eventually bring on change.

The Frontline documentary, in which a journalist went on site into an ISIS dominated community and saw how jihadists were teaching young children how to use weapons and fight, provided a look into the future, as the passing of this ideology makes one think: will this terrorism ever stop?

Give us chance to make it right


Over the past few weeks, the longstanding built-up pressure for racial equality and justice at the University of Missouri came to an explosive point. Through protests, hunger strikes, and a boycott by the football team, students are unifying to end the hurtful racial slurs at their educational home. Their president and chancellor resigned. Students from campuses across the country are teaming up with them, posting messages with the hashtag: #ConcernedStudent1950.

The Washington Post sent Tim Tai, a photographer, on campus to photograph the students’ safe space event. However, Tai was sent away by the students and not allowed on site. The Post’s article about this offense to Tai’s journalistic right provides the story of a journalist who was unjustly shunned from Mizzou’s campus because of the past, where journalists have earned a reputation of unfairly covering racial issues.

This is completely understandable, as black students have been pushed to such a brink that they had to create a safe space and anyone who feels like an intruder probably should not be there. Also, some past coverage of race issues, such as that of Ferguson, were shown to have bias against blacks and the pain that they feel. Even though the media has a bad reputation for covering race and having a lack of empathy for black issues, the only way for there to be change is to give journalists a chance to make it right.

Denying Tai access is yet another setback in the issue of the First Amendment and free speech on campuses. The First Amendment is there for a reason, and is undeniably important. Students need to respect the law that allows Tai to cover this issue, and change their focus from punishing those who are uneducated in racial equality to one that will give these ignorant people the knowledge to realize how backwards their actions are is and how hurtful it can be.

While racial slurs and inequality of any kind should not be continued, anywhere, there has to be another way to tackle this. There will always be people who lack the knowledge to understand how detrimental racism is to society, but there will also always be people who have the knowledge to understand that racism is wrong and hurtful. Perhaps if there were more unbiased coverage of black issues and a greater understanding altogether of the well established pain that blacks feel, this issue with Tai would not have occurred.

We need to hear her story


The news media have a strong voice in publicizing atrocities and bringing awareness in order to end them. Recently, a woman was stoned to death for allegedly committing adultery in Afghanistan.

Nineteen-year-old Rokhshana was forced into an arranged marriage. Soon after, she fled her home with another man. They were caught after two days in Ghor, an Afghani province, which is controlled by the Taliban.

Rokhshana was captured by the Taliban and ordered to death by stoning. There was video footage taken on a cell phone, which then circulated on social media. The video shows Rokhshana in a dugout, with many men surrounding her and throwing stones. The grotesque scene is coupled with Rokhshana’s cacophonous cries.

A female governor in Afghanistan, Joyenda, claimed that there is not much that she can do but ask President Ashraf Ghani for more reinforcements and safety. Since the Taliban controls the province where the attack occurred, nothing else was done.

Stoning is a horrific and uncivilized punishment that is too common in Third World countries. The lack of decency towards women is also all too common. When the news media share stories like that of Rokhshana’s, it brings awareness that this violence needs to come to an end. A few months ago, another woman was a victim of a brutal beating by a group of men who set her body ablaze before throwing her into a river. This violence should not be tolerated in any culture or for any reason.

This article gives Rokhshana, and all of the other women who are victims of violence, a voice around the world. The power of social media and technology allowed us to see Rokhshana’s horrendous ending, which can bring her eventual justice. Sharing this video united many people to stand against this and become more aware of violence towards women.

If these stories went unpublished, no one would know what was happening around the world, nor the vast need for progress and cries for help. The fight for women’s rights in Asia can only be won by a larger force of many people.

The weight on students’ shoulders


As students progress through school, a common complaint is that of the weight on their shoulders- both physically and metaphorically. School can be very difficult, but so is carrying a 15-pound book bag.

CNN recently published a health article about students from elementary to high school and the weight of their backpacks causing back problems and pain.

CNN asked students in Atlanta to open their book bags, revealing books, folders, binders, pens and pencils, gym clothes, and other items that are not always used, but there for “emergencies,” such as a flashlight.

Not every book bag was overtly heavy, but some were obscenely overweight. Such is the book bag of Allie Jeffay, an 11th grader, whose backpack weighs 23.5 pounds. However, heavy backpacks are not strictly tied to high schoolers, as one fourth-grader, Jaia Alli, carries an 11 pound book bag on the daily basis. The astounding weights hold students back, as they complain about headaches, shoulder aches and back pain. A doctor quoted in the article recommends that a book bag be no more than 10 percent of a child’s weight in order to avoid back pain.

The media holds a strong voice in public health awareness. Not only does the article provide real examples from actual students, but it also teaches the reader how to properly pack a backpack with the heaviest item against one’s back to avoid strain, and which one to buy to prevent back problems like one with fully padded back and shoulder straps to cushion the weight. With the actual weights and contents of children’s backpacks and their commentary, the support is relative enough to illicit parental action, or for schools to allow for more locker accessibility.

The bottom line is that children are suffering from an issue that many often overlook. With this article, CNN shared multiple children’s perspectives about a daily issue that their parents might otherwise not have known, thus helping children from unnecessary suffering and providing a solution.

Gun responsibility is also important


Coverage of certain events can create public opinion on social issues. As the debate over guns continues to hit a deadlock, real life happenings provide evidence for each side. The perfect example is the case of the 11-year-old boy who shot his 8-year-old neighbor over an argument about puppies.

The quandary began when the boy asked his across-the-street neighbor, MaKayla Dyer, if he could play with her puppies. Dyer refused and went back to her yard. The boy then obtained his father’s 12-gauge shotgun from an unlocked closet to shoot her. He fired from inside his house and hit her in the chest. He then threw the gun out of the window of his mobile home. The boy is being charged with first-degree murder in a juvenile court.

While gun control is an extremely important issue, gun responsibility is the equally important issue brought to light in this event. Where the gun owner keeps the gun, how he or she explains its use to other household members, and what degree of danger the gun holds must be taught, especially to young children.

As the boy’s father did not properly keep his gun from him, did not teach him the responsibilities of having a gun or what it can actually do, the boy is now facing murder charges. While the boy’s psychological state must also be taken into account, being responsible with deadly weapons is an absolute must. It is shocking when such a serious case occurs that could have most likely been prevented with some counseling and communication. The publication of this event not only gives justice to such a tragedy, but is also a reminder to gun owners to keep tabs on their weapons, especially when there is a child in the household.

One woman’s journey


The New York Times is well known for great journalism and captivating stories. The Well Blog, linked to its website, provides fresh health-based content with one woman’s journey in particular.

While Suleika Jaouad is not a journalist, she now writes a documentation of her life for the NYTimes about her post-leukemia recovery journey. Her stories are linked together with a title, “Life, Interrupted,” before the subject of her next post.

Her posts began on May 2, 2013, up until her most recent post Oct. 15, 2015. At the age of 22, she was diagnosed with leukemia and describes her life as coming to a halt. After many months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, she overcame the odds and began recovering.

She believes that this was due in part by her 100 day challenge. Her family created this challenge, in which each member would do something different for 100 days. Jaouad’s mother, for instance, began painting a picture everyday for 100 days which she would show to Jaouad. Her closed-off father wrote 100 childhood memories in a book for her. Jaouad began writing in her journal, no matter how irritated or tired she was, she made sure to write everyday for those 100 days.

After her recovery, she wanted to make something of the “halt” in her life. Thus, she is embarking on a journey across America to find herself with her dog, Oscar.

Her heart-warming story and journey brings a beautiful chain of first person blog posts that change the way journalism can affect others.

This kind of journalism entails a good story, and the sole writer to be a person of that story. Jaouad, while not a journalist, has painted a picture of her story for all of her readers and in that way, she has shed new light on feature writing.

Her reporting on her personal journey inspires others and informs them of what really happens during cancer treatment, and of the struggles of catching up with life after.

This kind of journalism provides an interesting story, but written in the actual person’s point of view, which gives readers a different perspective and would not be the same if done differently.

Change of focus in shootings news?


While the news media are reporting on the horrific shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, CNN covered the topic with a feature on the man who tried to save his class. The story is CNN’s main coverage linked to the shooting, posted on their websites front page, boldly titled “Oregon shooting hero tells gunman, ‘It’s my son’s birthday today’,” which gives a new view on handling stories of this nature.

A complement article by CNN interviewed Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, who stated “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act. You will never hear me mention his name. We would encourage media to avoid using it, to not repeat it. We encourage you not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this. Focus your attention on the victims, on the families, helping them get through this difficult time.”

While I believe that the shooter’s name should be stated for investigative purposes, Sheriff Hanlin has a good point. Rather than emphasizing the shooter’s name, it was only mentioned once near the end of CNN’s article. Instead, CNN widely reported on the heroic actions of Chris Mintz, who took seven bullets trying to save his classmates. He held the door against the shooter who shot him three times until he gave in. Mintz then told the shooter “it’s my son’s birthday today,” which left the shooter unfazed and Mintz to take four more bullets. Despite these seven bullets, he survived and is expected to recover.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, nearly one school shooting has occurred per week according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. These astounding numbers show how an event can have a massive chain reaction. However, the news media’s new outlook brings hope. Since many school shooters’ motives include having their name known and their ideas spread to others like them, if their names are not emphasized, then they will not receive the infamous fame that they want. The news media should emphasize the heroes in these tragedies and what the victim’s families are doing to help.

Humanizing the numbers


Humans of New York is a blog led by one photographer, Brandon Stanton, who features pictures he took of people along with a few interview questions. In recent years, his site has become increasingly popular, having 15.2 million Facebook likes and 3.8 million followers on his Instagram. His posts became so popular that he compiled his first book of photographs and profiles published in 2013.

He began taking photos of people in New York, where the website’s name comes from, and writing short profiles based on questions he would ask them in a question and answer type format, or a big quote.

Stanton’s first goal was to catalog New York City’s inhabitants. However, as he began asking them questions, a great amount of character and human strife was captured with each individual story. He then began posting his profiles on different social media and as more people saw, it began to humanize the busy world that we see rushing around us.

In December 2012, Stanton traveled to Tehran, Iran, to capture stories there. His posts give people a chance to see another person’s intimate life from across the world and gives perspective to those who have more peninsular minds. His posts often feature innate emotional pain but with good reason and usually a lesson. The majority of his posts feature positive or funny stories, highlighting how people make the best of their situation.

Stanton’s blog has become much more than simple photo posts. He captures humanity and bolsters it to all who can access social media. He shows his followers human life in its rawest form.

On Sept. 25, Stanton posted on his website that he is currently working to share refugee stories. While we hear of the numbers of refugees around the world, the total being 19.5 million, Stanton humanizes these numbers and brings more awareness through a real connection with his photographs. His work should be adapted by media companies in order to paint the picture of what is really happening; of the true suffering that is occurring rather than sticking to numbers, each political move, and the economic toll.

The human lives that are being affected triumph the numbers that are being drawn up. Creating a human connection brings knowledge and awareness of the pain of the refugees and can streamline a better force to help them.

The media are focusing too much on the big picture which does not accrue as much obligation to assistance as human connection. People need to connect with refugees in order to harbor a true sense of what is going on and hopefully pursue efforts of help them.

New report on antibiotics in meat


Fast food chains claim to be actively improving the quality of food through their suppliers. While some are actually progressing, many well known and loved restaurant chains scored low ratings in a new report on the use of antibiotics in meat and poultry supplies. Some of these chains are found on campus.

Friends of Earth’s new report on the largest 25 fast food chains’ use of antibiotics, called “Chain Reaction,” attributes grades based on a restaurant’s antibiotic use policies and its application to which types of meat, the implementation and transparency of these policies to the public, and the actual amount of meat produced without antibiotics.

The two chains that received A grades were Chipotle and Panera Bread. These restaurants serve a majority of their meat without regular antibiotic use and have been doing so for a while, hoping to establish a precedent for other restaurant chains.

Chick-fil-A received a grade of B, while Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s received Cs.

Subway, Wendy’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s and Starbucks all received Fs, earning one out of 36 possible points established in the report.

Olive Garden, Papa John’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Applebee’s Sonic, Chili’s, Dairy Queen, and IHOP received F’s with no points at all, among other fast food restaurants.

The report brings the question to light: what have these low-scoring restaurants actually done to improve meat quality compared to their claims of progress?

Papa Johns’ slogan, “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza,” seems false since their low grade was released. However, the company claims to eliminate artificial ingredients and additives and offer antibiotic-free chicken on their pizza by the first half of 2016.

Dunkin’ Donuts has a policy to improve meat quality, but no timeline for implementation, while Panera and Chipotle publicly affirm their meat standards without antibiotics.

The public holds a strong voice, being the sole consumers of these products. Since all of those restaurants hold Twitter and Facebook accounts in order to connect more with its customers, consumers have power to end harmful additives in our foods and raise awareness for our collective health.

By posting messages which not only contact the company, but can be seen by other social media users, ending the use of antibiotics starts with a direct approach towards these restaurant chains. Journalists can also use social media to attain commentary from the restaurants for their articles.

Social media change NYFW coverage


New York Fashion Week runs from Sept. 10 through 17, setting the style precedent for the upcoming season with international designer shows of Spring/Summer 2016 collections.

New York Fashion Week is one of the most coveted events to attend by young women and socialites alike. Celebrities like Jessica Alba, Steven Tyler, Julia Roberts and Kylie Jenner attend the star-studded event to watch famous models walk the runway, showcasing new trends from designers like Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Diane Von Furstenburg and Carolina Herrera.

NYFW’s website streams the fashion shows in real time, beginning at 11 a.m., while also providing links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. The great variety of social media coverage has revolutionized the way Fashion Week is covered. Hashtags #NYFW, #MBFW or “hashtag-ing” the designer’s name, provides a categorical expanse of fashion week happenings. Snapchat, a video messaging application, now has its own story attributed to Fashion Week, allowing those who access the app to conveniently view coverage. Celebrities and fashion icons tweet in real time what they see onstage and backstage.

The viewer stress to provide real time content is changing the way journalists report on fashion week. As social media are the easiest and most efficient platform for this raw coverage, it is now the norm. The emphasis on backstage and behind the scenes coverage is made possible by social media, as it is easier to report quickly by snapping a photo on a phone and uploading it straight to Twitter, along with a caption and appropriate hashtags.

In past years, The Wall Street Journal did not cover Fashion Week in real time, but instead wrote and published stories prior to Fashion Week; after Fashion Week, editors would publish articles around the time the collections would reach stores.

The growing demand to view raw visual content such as backstage production, has coupled with increased methods of social media coverage. Journalists are now obliged to use many forms of social media to make Fashion Week more viewable by all.