Juuling: Worse than a cigarette?


On Feb. 7, 2018, college students and active Juul users went crazy on social media. Rumors started circling around saying that kids were being diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 19 due to using their Juul excessively.

This statement is not true due to the fact that lung cancer takes years to develop.

The text message circulating said, ” Announcement: one of Chris friends from college has never smoked weed or cigs but for the past year he has been an addictive Juuler like constantly which is basically like all of us and he was just diagnosed with lung cancer and his lungs are completely black, and he’s 19 and he’s probably going to die. Scotty and a few of my guy friends have thrown their Juul away.”

Despite the chain mail nature of this story, students across the nation took action. This screenshot was posted on Twitter, which then proceeded to spread through college campuses such as our own. Twitter users started creating a Twitter thread by posting videos of throwing their Juul out into the street or smashing them with hammers.

A clinical professor from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine by the name of Dr. Kien Vuu stated that it is unlikely that Juuling has a short term carcinogenic effect. It usually takes a long time from an exposure of a carcinogen before cancer forms.

“The contents within Juul capsules are unknown in many cases, so it is possible for people to develop bronchitis, bronchiolitis, or forms of acute lung injury which can be severe. The carcinogenic effects of these additional substances long term are unknown at this point; so to say that the contents of Juul has no carcinogenic effects would be unjustified- we just don’t know” he said.

At this point, the route of the rumors are unclear but it is said it could have something to do with an New York University study released last month claiming that vaping can result in an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.

This story was portrayed in a great manner due to supplying screenshots of what was posted on Twitter including the original texts. Including scientists with the real answers also answers the question for readers when learning about this issue.

National signing day creates a new buzz


On Wednesday, high school athletes made decisions that would change their lives forever.

On national signing day, the top unsigned football recruits from across the country decide where they are going to attend college and play football for the foreseeable future. While this is a very important and usually personal decision for the athlete, it has evolved to a news media frenzy.

Whereas athletes would once “announce” their commitment by signing in the comfort of their own homes, ESPN and other sport networks have changed the game and created a full day special broadcasting top recruits’ announcements. This has resulted in some fairly humorous displays on live TV from athletes trying to outdo each other with their creative commitments.

To start off the day, four highly recruited members of American Heritage High School took to ESPN to announce their decisions. While it appeared like it would be a fairly normal segment, things took an odd turn when two of the recruits decided to announce their decisions using a “Chucky” doll as a prop. Yes, that “Chucky,” the one that probably gave you nightmares as a kid.

While Nesta Silvera, a four-star defensive tackle that committed to Miami, simply held the doll in his hand while making his announcement, his teammate did him one better.

Four-star linebacker Andrew Chatfield reached for a University of Miami hat sitting on the table, just to drop the hat and pull the “Chucky” doll from under the table, and the doll happened to be wearing a University of Florida hat, which Chatfield proceeded to put on his own head, cementing his commitment. While there have been props used before, none have been quite as odd as this.

Up next was probably one of the most memorable moments in recent memory of national signing day. Four-star outside linebacker Quay Walker picked up and put on a University of Tennessee hat during his announcement Wednesday. While Tennessee fans across the country were surely leaping from their seats with excitement, it was short-lived.

Walker than removed the hat, threw it into the crowd, and removed his jacket and pants to reveal a Georgia polo and khakis with the Bulldogs logo plastered all over them. To top it off, he threw on a Georgia sun hat as his family members behind him revealed Georgia apparel of their own. Tennessee fans certainly weren’t happy, but it proceeded to blow up on social media along with ESPN and other sport platforms.

With the amount of news media coverage this event gets, many are beginning to worry that national signing day is becoming more of a “who can outdo who,” in regards to the most memorable announcement.

Personally, I couldn’t care less. For a lot of these kids, it’s their first time in the national spotlight, so of course they’re going to ham it up. This will be remembered as one of the most important days of their lives, so they have every right to live in the moment, and I certainly don’t mind getting a good laugh out of it either. Sports are supposed to be fun, and the news media surrounding these announcements really lets the athletes enjoy their moments.

Redskins acquire Alex Smith in trade


On Tuesday night, the Washington Redskins made a shocking trade less than a week before the Super Bowl, acquiring quarterback Alex Smith and sending their current quarterback Kirk Cousins into free agency. According to a report from the Kansas City Star‘s Terez A. Paylor, the Chiefs agreed to the deal on Tuesday afternoon.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Smith was traded for Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

At first glance, this deal may not make sense for either sides. But, for the Redskins it was needed more than fans and media expected. Cousins was set to be the highest paid quarterback this upcoming season and the Redskins were going have to pay him that money in order to keep him.

For the Chiefs, this allows them to start Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, their former first round pick last season, who was waiting behind Smith for his moment.

Many reporters took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the trade and to explain what was right and wrong for both teams. Reporters also compared Cousins and Smith as most agreed that they were essentially the same player and the Redskins didn’t get much better.

Adam Schefter, an NFL analyst, reported on Twitter that Cousins and the Redskins haven’t had any contact since the end of the regular season.

If the Redskins were to keep Cousins, they would have had to pay him $34 million. Instead, they’re paying Smith $23 million and for who many think is slightly better than Cousins.

Reporters felt that the Redskins did the right thing, overall, and now understand that Cousins is in the midst of a major pay day for another team.

Tree ceremony not well attended


Thursday, as part of the annual tradition which has been dated back almost 100 years, Donald Trump led the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

During his campaign in 2016, President Trump said that he was looking forward to saying in the National Christmas lighting “Merry Christmas” and made the promise that Americans will be able to say Merry Christmas again instead of “Happy Holidays.”

In fact during the ceremony President Trump said: “Today is a day that I’ve been looking very much forward to all year long, It’s one that we’ve heard and we speak about and we dream about and now, as the president of the United States, it’s my tremendous honor to now wish America and the world a very Merry Christmas.”

A photo shared by Steve Rudin, a journalist in Washington, went viral and showed the many empty seats during the event. The photo was shared on Twitter, Rudin tweeted with the photo that it was a “beautiful” ceremony but “hard not to notice the empty seats.”

Many reporters decided to compare this National Christmas Lighting Ceremony led by President Trump with the ones led by Obama in 2009 and 2013. Reporters added photos in their articles comparing the number of people who showed up in the ceremony with different presidents. The photos showed a packed crowd of people showing up for the traditional ceremony during the Obama era, with the clear intention of highlighting the greater amount of respect and support for the last president.

Teen has surgeries to look like Jolie


A young lady from Iran wanted to look like her muse, Angelina Jolie. She lost 90 pounds in four months and went under 50 different surgical procedures to do that.

Her name is Sahar Tabar, she transformed herself to look more like her favorite actress. However, her more than 400,000 followers in Instagram and they are struggling to see the change.

The photos posted to her Instagram serve to showcase her drastic new look. Tabar has undergone lip injections, cheek implants and a nose job, in addition to the weight she’d already lost prior to the surgeries.

However, the severity of Tabar’s new look have several people calling her out for using prosthetics and makeup to make her face appear more angular and enhance certain features.

People and her followers have pointed out that pictures on her Instagram account – which appears to be fairly new, since only about 30 photos have been posted – are inconsistent with nose and cheek placement. Frequently her nose is more upturned than others. Her jaw also appears to be more defined in certain photos than in others.

Her new look – whether real or fake – has been heavily criticized on social media, with many nicknaming the seemingly-malnourished teen “Corpse Bride,” after the 2005 animated Tim Burton film.

Pipeline leaks oil in South Dakota


Last year, thousands of people participated in the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline, in North Dakota. Protesters feared that the pipe would break, and leak oil into tribal territory. This Thursday, 210,000 gallons of oil leaked into South Dakota from the Keystone Pipeline.

This leak comes days before a decision to finalize permits needed to begin construction on Keystone XL, a sister pipeline to the Keystone Pipeline.

Even though, livestock and drinking water sources were not threatened, Kim McIntosh, an environmental scientist with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources told The New York Times “…this is not a little spill from any perspective.”

According to TransCanada, The Keystone Pipeline system stretches from Alberta, Canada, to Manitoba, Canada. The pipeline then travels south into Texas, in hope to make transporting crude oil from Canada easier. Smaller sections of the pipeline would cut into Oklahoma and Illinois.

The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, would travel from Alberta to Nebraska, and cut through parts of Montana, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Illinois.

The leak is near Lake Traverse Reservation, but is not on Sioux property, said Dave Flute, tribal chairman for Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe.

In a statement, Flute said: “We are monitoring the situation as this leak is adjacent to our reservation…We do not know the impact this has on our environment at this time but we are aware of the leak.”

According to CNN, this is the largest Keystone oil spill to date in South Dakota, and the third this year.

Major articles from NPR, The Washington Post, CNN, and The New York Times circulated social media, after people took to Twitter to voice their thoughts on the leak. Many cited the Dakota Access Pipeline protest and urged officials to think before approving the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Basketball players detained in China


A lot of attention has been brought upon an international incident occurred this week in China. Three freshman UCLA basketball players were accused of shoplifting items from three different stores, including a pair of sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store, ranging from $435-$1,990.

The basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, returned to Los Angeles Tuesday, where they were Initially ignoring all questions asked by reporters.

Donald Trump was involved in resolving the issue, by bringing up the case with China’s President Xi Jinping, allowing the players to get out of China’s detention and back in the United States.

We seem to be more than familiar with Donald Trump’s tweeting habits. He uses Twitter as a way praising himself, demanding praise and judging others for not giving him approval. On Tuesday, when the basketball players returned from China after being detained for 10 days and did not express any gratitude towards Donald Trump, he decided to tweet:

First of all this tweet demonstrates the president’s lack of modesty and talking about himself in the third person, like the CNN reporter said, “that deserves a post all its own. This tweet was given a lot of attention by the news media as it is put the UCLA players in an awkward position, after already being in one.

Some reporters, such as CNN’s Chris Cillizza, suggested that people were interpreting this tweet as racially provocative, he wrote in his article “What Donald Trump’s UCLA tweet reveals about him.”

“That the three players are all young black men should also not be lost here. Trump’s history on racial issues — both as president and as a private citizen — shows some level of intentionality when it comes to using racially coded language and taking advantage of racial animus and stereotypes for his own political gain,” Cillizza wrote.
“The image of an older white man in a position of power demanding thanks from three young black men for saving them will set off a lot of alarm bells for people,” he added.

The players apologized for their actions in a press conference, in addition to thanking Donald Trump and the U.S. government for helping them out of the situation.   The three players have been suspended indefinitely from the UCLA, meaning that they won’t be able to practice or travel with the university’s team.

Donald Trump acknowledged the thanks shared by the basketball players and answered by tweeting

Most articles covering this story linked the video of the conference where the players apologized for their actions, giving the reader a clearer understanding of the events.

The story was covered in detail by the reporters, but there were no real comments made by UCLA students. It would be interesting to know how students at UCLA feel about the story and its effects on the name and reputation of the school and its basketball program.

When covering the story, Reporters were very harsh on Donald Trump’s tweets because they attacked some freshman students who did not even have the time to settle back in their home country after being detained in a foreign country.

Trump reverses elephant trophy ban


The Trump administration reversed an Obama era ban on importing elephant trophies acquired from hunting in Zambia and Zimbabwe this Wednesday.

A provision of the Endangered Species Act allows the hunting of these elephants so long as there is proof that it is beneficial to the species. A spokesperson from the Fish and Wildlife Service cited this act in defense of such hunting, saying it helps by “… providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much needed revenue back into conservation.”

Critics of the decision were not swayed: Animal-protection groups such as the Humane Society and the Elephant Project called the decision “venal and nefarious” and “reprehensible” respectively. Another ethical concern they raised was the hoarding of elephant hunting rights by rich Americans who want only the ivory tusks, in a region where many poor and hungry Africans are strictly prohibited from killing them and using the entire animal for food and profit.

Still another criticism surrounded President Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who are known to be fond of hunting from photos posted on social media. No formal accusations of bias have arisen, but the thought is there.

USA Today was quite adept at showing the story’s importance as well as it’s opposing sides. What to many might look like a straightforward ethical dilemma. USA Today presented as an issue with two sides with equally compelling evidence. Their references to previous related events, such as that of Cecil the line, also helped tremendously in showing that animal rights is an ongoing and relevant issue.

Houston Astros win World Series


Just nine weeks after one of the worst hurricanes and severe flooding hit Houston, the Astros prove that #houstonstrong is more than just a trending hashtag.

On Wednesday night, the Houston Astros made history by winning the World Series in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, making it the city’s first baseball championship. Never had the team even made it to the seventh game before.

“Earned History,” is what the Astros posted on their Twitter after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 during Game 7, making it the first win for World Series veterans Justin Verlander and Carlos Beltran. This was retweeted more than 50,000 times.

“No matter what, this Series is going down in the history books as one of the best Series of all time,” said Verlander after the Astros took a loss in Game 6. “I think tomorrow’s going to be nothing short of spectacular either way. I hope we blow them out, but the way these things have been going, I don’t see that being the case.”

This game did well in bringing Houston together after some games were forced to be played away from Houston, due to the flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“My mom lost her car & nearly our house to Harvey. It’s her birthday & she’s SO happy the Astros gave her a World Series win #HoustonStrong,” tweeted Leah Ware, a local fan.

Most players helped with relief efforts and even wore the words “H Strong” on their jerseys.

Three Astros players, including shortstop Carlos Correa, dedicated their win to those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Outfielder Carlos Beltran, a Puerto Rico native, donated more than $1 million to disaster relief for the island.

Man serenades dying wife in Puerto Rico


Among all the disheartening stories that have been covered about Puerto Rico since its devastating hurricanes in September, we find many personal experiences of people who suffered in their beloved land. This week, The Miami Herald featured one story about a Puerto Rican that was accompanying one of his family members on her last days. Many were sick from the contaminated water and mosquitoes that followed the hurricanes.

In the medical center, “generators hummed in the background, powering the ventilators and feeding tubes of patients who had fled nearby hospitals after Hurricane Maria knocked out power across the island.” But in the middle of this climate of nervousness and the preoccupied crowd, an old man took his guitar and started to play songs for his wife lying next to him.

Santos Candelaria also said he was playing songs to thanks the medical staff and volunteers that came to help his country in this crisis. This act from Candelaria reunited a small crowd of people singing proud to be Puerto Rican, but also people looking for support and hope.

There were a lot of things that impressed me about this particular story published by The Herald this past Thursday. First, is the fact that it focused on those little pieces that really change your perspective and make you smile. I realized that this could be one of the reasons why it is the center of the front page and essentially the day’s cover story. The second thing that called my attention was the use of multimedia in the article.

When you look the publication from the “front page” of The Herald it looks like a simple video and then you wonder why would they have that as one of the most important stories? Yes, it is a nice story but isn’t other news more controversial or shocking. The only thing that came to my mind was the fact that the video that was accompanying the piece was definitely a perfect video for social media. It was a short video, with images from the stories but titles that narrated what was happening. This is one of the formats that Facebook and many other websites have been using to advertise, promote a story and have a larger reach. It is a short story, with good visuals, that is appealing to the emotional, easy to understand and easy to instantly share.

I also noticed that although they had this self-explanatory video, the newspaper decided to also write a larger article with a more in-detail store for those who were looking for more information. It is also interesting because it makes us think of a balance between getting our news from social media and newspapers’ websites.

To see the original Miami Herald story, go to:

Halloween decorations draw police


Halloween is coming soon, meaning that American homes are decorated with pumpkins, ghosts and other original decorations, ready for trick-or-treaters to come on the night of Oct. 31.

This year, just as every year, some homes seemed to have crossed the line using controversial decorations that terrified and profoundly offended viewers. Making us question when do we know when we cross a line? How objective is this issue?

This year, in New Jersey, Kevin and Krysten Negrotto displayed in their front yard a white Toyota all covered in blood. The car was pinning a body against a tree, surrounded with police tape showing a bloody crime scene.

The neighbors of this couple find the display so disturbing that they think it should be considered a crime. The cops showed up at the Negrotto house, with complaints received about the set up from the neighbors who requested its removal.

Kyrsten Negrotto, 27, posted on Facebook saying the officers “LOVED” the display and encouraged them to add more to it. Kyrsten wrote “It’s a free country! … stop wasting these officers’ time on stupid complaints over our HALLOWEEN decor when they could be out saving real lives! It’s all about zombies. It’s about HALLOWEEN.”

The couple has a 5-year-old son, and claimed that it is just for fun and they didn’t mean any harm. Kyrsten Negrotto told a news source “We don’t mean to offend anyone. We do it for the love of Halloween. We just want kids to enjoy like we did as kids.”

Just as the Negrotto family, numerous other homes around the country received criticism, where the police had to intervene by receiving complaints on neighbors for having insulting displays. Many “offensive” decorations went viral and shared on social media. Numerous  decorations targeted by angry viewers were not just the ones considered gory, but also displays considered racially and culturally insulting.

In Parishville, N.Y., Michelle Cross displayed a figure forming a circle made from white bedsheets, surrounding a dark-face gorilla hung with a rope around his neck. A passenger took a photo of Cross’s yard and posted it on social media. By the next day, the photo was shared numerous times and had many comments. The comments suggested that the arrangement had racial connotations, as the circle of ghosts was perceived to represent the gathering of the Ku Klux Klan.

Michelle Cross took the gorilla down and just left the ghosts, out of respect to her community. Cross said, “I took it down because a few people in the neighborhood thought it was offensive for some reason,” and added, just like Kyrsten Negrotto “It is simply Halloween.”

The news media covered the stories on Halloween displays well, by including social media comments on the opinion of viewers and the displayers of the decor. One important area the reporters did not cover in the articles is the opinion of political public figures on the issue, which should also be present to address people on their freedom of expression.

The issue of offensive Halloween decorations is a very controversial topic. Displays, such as Michelle Cross’s, are open to interpretation and the fact that some people viewed it as a racial overturn is demonstrating their own subjective truth and negative view of the world. I do feel like people have the right to display whatever they think is appropriate for Halloween. If the neighbors or passersby have an issue with the display, then they can simply not look at it instead of calling the police.

Fake stories, enemies of news media


Since Oct. 15, Spain has suffered a wave of fires affecting Galicia’s region. These fires have calcined 35,000 hectares just in Galicia and have killed four people.

The victims were two old women, 80 and 88 years old, who died when they were trying to flee in a van, and two men that were trying to extinguish the fire. The number of deaths in Portugal has risen to 30 people.

Most of the fires were arson attacks. Two people have been arrested as the alleged originators of the fires. The first one, Miguel Angel, accused of setting fire to his farm when he was cooking with a barbecue. The second one, Maria Luisa, who was burning weed in her house.

But the government of Galicia, the Xunta, has qualified these fires as forest terrorism. The Xunta has suspicion that some of the other 146 fires have been started by an organized gang.

In that situation, when a whole country is focused on the issue, there are a large number of impressive photos with more impressive backstories. One of the most popular photos, in this case, has been the photo of a dog carrying a carbonized puppy. It was taken by the photojournalist Salvador Sas for the EFE agency.

The picture flooded social networks and accompanied many of the news media articles about the fire. Everybody knew about this mum dog, Jacki, carrying her own dead puppy. That was the story that many people are sharing. Everything right, so far. The problem occurred when a journalist discovered that the story attached to this photo was fake.

Jacki wasn’t a female and the dead puppy wasn’t his.

This is the article that uncovered the truth.

The owner of Jacki, recognized to the newspaper La Voz de Galicia, that her dog didn’t have descendants and that he was carrying a rabbit to eat, far from the story that was spread.

It is maybe an insignificant story and nothing will change after knowing the gender and the story of this dog. But once again, it is an example that news media publish and broadcast news without verifying. They seem to be following emotional criteria or mirroring everything that leads to success on social networks to attract the attention of an audience. Then, they correct the news en bloc. But it’s too late, the bad practice has been done.

If this has happened at this time, it could happen with other more relevant stories and the consequences affecting the reputation of the news organizations and society’s reliance on them would be far worse.

Italian schools teach about fake news


Fake news has been around for a while, but with the existence of the Internet and ingraining of social media in people, this notion has been increasingly addressed and recognized as a critical issue. Italy has decided to create classes to teach high school students how to recognize fake news and the importance of not sharing false information, in addition to a new set of ethical commandments.

No generation has it ever been so easy and so fast to gain insight on what is happening around the world. Accessing information can be done with just a few taps on our phones. Laura Boldrini, the president of the Italian lower house of Parliament, told The New York Times “Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it. It’s only right to give these kids the possibility to defend themselves from lies.”

Students will receive a list of commandments. One of them is: “Thou shalt not share unverified news; thou shall ask for sources and evidence; thou shall remember that the internet and social networks can be manipulated.”

There are so many sources where we can access our information and the velocity with which we can acquire it doesn’t allow people to constantly check the reliability.

People’s perception is manipulated and not accessing the truth affects people’s actions, as seen in the 2016 elections. In fact, one of the main reasons this program was created is for the upcoming elections in Italy, which are scheduled on May 20, 2018. The Web is already full of conspiracy theories against all parties and it is essential that the political view, especially of a generation ingrained on their phones, is based on the truth.

The Italian government has been working with companies, such as Facebook and Google, to build a program that focuses on training students on how to recognize fake news and conspiracy theories online. The program seeks the creation of “Fake News Hunters” and is expected to begin later this month. It will be launched in approximately 8,000 high schools around all of Italy.

Students will be taught the ethics of not publishing or sharing fake news and how important the impact of everything they share on social media can be. Facebook will be contributing that specific aspect, addressing to students how “likes” on the platform are “monetized and politicized.”

It is of value that a social media giant, such as Facebook has been collaborating with this program. Especially, because of the pressure, social networks and search engines have been given on finding a solution to filter fake news and conspiracy theories. In fact, a few weeks ago, on Oct. 6, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wrote in a  post:

“We will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections. We’ll keep working to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, and to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and force for good in a democracy.”

Mark Zuckerberg was never one to approve of the impact of social media, for years he would argue as seeing social media as just a method of communication. His complete change in opinion really brings to surface the importance of doing something about this issue. Facebook reported that if the program is successful, it will create similar programs for other countries in Europe.

Many of the reports on this story are written in detail and seem to deliver a lot of useful information. I am from Italy and this makes me proud especially because I study journalism in the United States, which has a big issue on fake news. I would be really interested in knowing more on who will be teaching these classes and the opinion of students on this new subject.

UF hosts Richard Spencer appearance


On Oct. 19, the University of Florida Gainesville campus hosted self-proclaimed alt-right white nationalist, Richard Spencer – the first college appearance for Spencer since the violent events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va., in August.

This comes after the university originally tried to block Spencer from speaking on its campus but the decision was later appealed because UF is a public institution. Therefore, the university could not prevent someone from speaking because of his or her specific topic or beliefs.

The decision, however, was not met without great controversy. In the days leading to the event, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency for the county where UF’s main campus is located. Law enforcement officials from across the state have been on high-alert since Monday, Oct. 16 and Scott said he was also going to have the National Guard on standby for the event.

Once Spencer arrived on campus, there was almost immediate protest among the UF community, with many students showing their opposition to the infamous speaker. During his speech, many students stood and began shouting “black lives matter,” and “go home Spencer.”

This story received a lot of news media attention throughout the day, but some of the best coverage came from students who were right in the middle of the protests. Students began sharing short videos and photos on social media and news outlets such as CNN began sharing similar content.

For many college students, Twitter is a great tool for news coverage and this situation was no exception. Social media give people the opportunity to connect with other like-minded people, along with getting more diverse information in a timely matter.

But social media are not the only platform that was able to cover this story with a relatable point-of-view. In today’s social environment, people are quick to share their opinions, even in the news media.

Thankfully, this has paved the way for more “relatable” platforms and reporting for many. During the coverage of Spencer’s speech, the conversation in the news and online began to discuss the larger issues at hand than just Spencer’s speech, and the groups he represents.

Modern news media coverage has lead to a new dialogue for reporting and has allowed many to feel a personal connection to any given story – starting the conversation and sometimes leading to new inspirations for change.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ banned … again


The Biloxi School District of Mississippi has chosen to remove the controversial “To Kill a Mockingbird” novel from the eighth grade curriculum. The move was done after the county received complaints about the book’s language being uncomfortable and inappropriate for a classroom setting.

In response, several acclaimed writers and literature enthusiasts took to Twitter to express their disdain. They upheld that the book’s primary purpose was to make the reader uncomfortable: only then would the book’s setting and culture (1930s in the deep south of the United States) be significant and impactful. Quotes supporting this idea include:

“If to Kill a Mockingbird makes you uncomfortable you may want to contemplate your life & search your soul.” (@marybschneider)

“If To Kill a Mockingbird makes you uncomfortable, you are the target audience” (@WIBC_StanLehr)

“If we are going to solve the racial problems we have in our county now, we have to confront the truth of how we got to where we are.” (Barbara Shoup, novelist)

USA Today did well to cover both the event and the outcry over it on Twitter. Its coverage provided details of the event and the book’s controversial history, for those unaware that the book had been banned before. They also gave a basic synopsis of the book and why it was unsettling to some, which was a good transition to the public response to this kind of reaction.

The Twitter outcry provided good insight as to why many believe the book is important and should be taught in schools, so including a variety of tweets in the story was wise of the USA Today writer (Shari Rudavsky). It gave readers a decent understanding of the other side of the debate, providing them with plenty of room to form their own opinion on the complicated matter.

Berlin soccer teams kneel before match


NFL players have been kneeling during the national anthem before games to protest discrimination but now the movement has gone worldwide.

During Hertha Berlin’s home game against Schalke 04, the starting players on the field, coaches, officials and substitutes all took in a knee in unity with the NFL players.

The soccer club team took to Twitter with a picture of the players kneeling and the caption “Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility! For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore! #TakeAKnee #hahohe”

Sebastian Langkamp, Hertha defender, told a reporter during halftime, “We’re no longer living in the 18th century but in the 21st century. There are some people, however, who are not that far ideologically yet.”

Through the power of social media, this story has gone viral. Hertha’s tweet has received more than 13,000 retweets and counting. This shows how powerful Twitter is in distributing news and information, as well as all other social media platforms today.

Power comes from many voices


Hollywood scandals are nothing new. In today’s society, the attitude of people quickly calling anything “corrupt” is on the rise, and Hollywood has been the subject for conversation about corruption for years.

It seems that every few weeks, a new case of an alleged sexual harassment by news media executives seems to surface. As these stories develop, more people come forward to speak out about their alleged abusers – sometimes exposing misconduct from years in the past.

This has never been more relevant than recently. As seen through the Harvey Weinstein allegations, new platforms allow people to come forward without fear.

The news media have been following the Harvey Weinstein story almost nonstop since the initial announcement. Since the original claim of misconduct by the Hollywood film mogul, many people have come forward describing how they were abused by Weinstein, and many have condemned his actions.

But the media has done something else that wasn’t possible in the past that helps victims expose their abusers and hold them accountable – everyone is able to join the conversation. This open coverage gives people from all backgrounds, everyone from Hollywood A-listers to interns, the ability to enter a “safe-space” online and on-air to share their experiences and have a community to help them through their situation.

The news media have helped victims tell their stories and connect appropriate people to condemn abusers’ actions. A few major actions have influenced this change: social media, more focus on entertainment and opinion TV and the openness of society to engage with strangers.

This engagement can range anywhere from random arguments to a complete support system by a set of strangers. Because of this type of new media and focuses within the media, there are more opportunities to share and expose stories that may have traditionally been kept “behind closed doors.”

Anchor Jemele Hill suspended at ESPN


This past week ESPN suspended star anchor Jemele Hill for two weeks after she violated ESPN’s social media policy for the second time in a couple of weeks.

The second suspension stemmed from Hill commenting on the Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones requiring all players to stand for the national anthem. Hill tweeted, “Jerry Jones also has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.”

Hill was previously suspended when she called Trump a “white supremacist,” in a tweet.  John Skipper, president of ESPN, sent out a company wide memo shortly after Hill’s first suspension saying that “ESPN is about sports” and that it is “not a political organization.”

The White House eventually stepped in on the issue as Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that this was “a fireable offense.”

While I’m all for taking a side and standing for what you believe in, certain people need to be wary of what’s shared. The news media, in its truest form, is supposed to be as unbiased as possible. Hill is clearly unbiased when she attacks Trump and Jerry Jones.

In many situations reporters or people in the industry are fired for spreading their beliefs on social media or in press events. There is no issue with having a belief, but when you work in the news media, you can’t share it.

Social media content not regulated


Exhaustive research by The New York Times has evidenced Russian psychological strategies addressed to American citizens who shared the social media to broadcast their frustration during the 2016 presidential elections, but who lacked a well-informed vision of the matters in discussion. This manipulative dystopian weapon raises the subject of Russian agents’ intervention in United States domestic issues.

This brave Times initiative during difficult political times, which took several months of thorough investigation of thousands of posts, meets the goal of investigative journalism to discover and reveal to the public a critical hidden truth, one involving manipulation of  freedom of expression.

On the side, this report highlights another aspect of social media (Web sites like Baidu, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, Viel, Weibo, WhatsApp and YouTube have more than 100 million subscribers): while there is legislation for press and television content, there is lack of control of content of social media. You can say anything, criticize, influence, but since there are no parameters nor filters in the messages, you can also silently manipulate, distort and confuse information.

Las Vegas video raises questions


Competition in news is cut-throat with the increase of social media and electronic reporting. To compensate, news corporations across the globe have started incorporating multimedia to stories to engage a wider audience.

But one common question has blurred over the years, as organizations push to share the most newsworthy, unique and engaging content – what should be edited and how far is too far? The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has showed that this line is blurring even further, and news media companies will go to great lengths to gain business.

In the days following the shooting in Las Vegas, the largest in modern American history, photos and videos began emerging from the incident. Among them were point-of-view videos from people in the crowd sounding the shots raining down on the crowd, police response to the scene and the initial investigation of the shooter’s room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

But something not seen until recently stood out. Major news organizations began sharing gruesome photos of the shooter’s hotel room, including images of the weapons and ammunition the shooter had in the room, along with an image of his blood-covered body from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Before now, this type of content was not widely shared. Editing of content in mainstream news media previously protected viewers from this type of content, and if anyone wanted to view it, it would take a lot of digging around the Internet to find a not-so-reputable online source leaking the information.

So what has changed over the years? In short, social media.

Today, it is so easy for anyone to share content to a mass audience with very little regulation. The constant pressure felt by large news organizations to stay ahead and get the most viewers to their sites, requires content to be well-developed and have more stopping power on social media feeds than any other person or organization sharing the same information.

More often than not, that comes by pushing the envelope and sharing content that may not always have been widely acceptable in society. Modern news media and the use of raw, point-of-view video are some of the most important components of a story to engage users. Has this push to stay current desensitized Americans by experiencing more long-term exposure to difficult topics? The response to the Las Vegas shooting has proven that censorship is not what it used to be.