Category Archives: Uncategorized

Start Spreading the News, I’m Moving Today…

Airport terminals seem to be one of the best places for reflecting, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. As I sit here waiting for my flight, I finally get to process the whirlwind that ended up with me moving from Hawaii to New York.  

The Backstory

Around a year ago, I came back home from a journalism-packed semester in D.C. After finally adapting to the huge learning curves that hit me through my internship and classes, my biggest fear was that I would lose momentum when I moved back home to finish my last year of college online. As a communications major, my classes weren’t specifically geared to journalism; so, I tried to find some local publications in Hawaii that I could intern at or do some freelance work for in order to gain more experience. Long story short, I ended up working at Starbucks (I know, that’s a random fact, but trust me, it plays a huge part later in this story). 

Besides an out-of-the-blue Q&A with Tamron Hall via Google Hangouts (another long story), I was pretty disconnected from the world of journalism, and I was all too aware of it. Getting a college degree is definitely a crucial part in this “journey to journalism,” but I felt that I should be doing more to build my portfolio, and my plans for post-grad life were getting dimmer and dimmer. That’s when New York entered the picture. 

New York or Bust

In December of last year, I got an email for a job opening in New York. It was an entry-level position and with all my school being online, I figured I could technically start working even before I graduated. After I sent that application in, I started to picture life in New York working at this place and once again being immersed in all things journalism. Another long story short, I didn’t get that job. Nor did I get a couple others I applied to after that. 

Now, I think it is important to note that I’ve never really pictured myself living in New York, but the more I applied, the more I realized that the jobs I was interested in were almost all located in New York. Little by little, the idea of living in New York grew from a possible option, to my ideal choice. But, in case you forgot, I still didn’t have a job.

Over 10 applications later, I had to make a decision. Am I going to wait for a journalism job to come to me? Or, should I just move to New York and continue my job search there? Still, I lacked two very important things: a place to live and a means of affording said “place to live.” Well, both of those things fell into place in a week.

Another long story a little shorter, I responded to a post on a public Facebook group inquiring about a place in New York that had openings for a couple roommates. Almost a week later, (still in Hawaii) I was emailing my copy of the signed lease to my future roommates and transferring to a Starbucks in New York. If it weren’t for my job at Starbucks in Hawaii, I don’t think I’d be moving to New York right now (told you it would come back into play in this story). After signing the lease, I had three weeks to pack and finish up my last undergrad semester, and now I’m here, sitting in LAX with two checked baggages, a carry-on and a backpack, about to make my move to New York. This “journey to journalism” sure has a lot of detours and unexpected twists, but I’m learning to take it one step at a time. Here’s to a new chapter in New York.

•  “It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.”  •

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A Journalism Student’s Thankful List (2015)

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Yes, I know, this year’s thankful list is a little late, and yes, it’s been a while since I posted anything here. Truth is, after a whirlwind of a semester in D.C., my journey to journalism hit a speedbump, so to speak. While I still want to be a journalist (now, more than ever), I’ve been spending most of my time finishing up my degree online and working part-time at Starbucks (more about that later).

Each year, my thankful list ends up having some sort of theme. This year, the theme revolves around all the “un-journalistic” experiences I’ve had this past semester.

Rest

Since I’m only taking a couple of classes, I have more down time. I’m also back home for now, so there’s no rent and grocery bills to worry about. I cannot wait to graduate and pursue journalism full-time; however, I’m thankful for a time of rest, where I can actually afford to be lazy without feeling too guilty.

Rejection

Yep, you read that right. This year, I’m thankful for “rejection.” Looking back, I see just how much closed doors have enabled me to pursue opportunities that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Hearing the dreaded word, “NO,” is not easy, but I’ve found that it has been necessary. For example, when I came back to Hawaii this summer, I knew I needed to get a part-time job. Since I didn’t have a car, I applied to a local lemonade store that is walking distance from my house. Unfortunately, they weren’t looking for anybody at the time I applied. In the mean time, I also sent in an application to Starbucks (I have always wanted to work there!).

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I got the job!

Starbucks

If I had a bucket list, working at Starbucks would be on it. So that in and of itself is something to be thankful for, but more than that, this job was exactly what I needed right now. The different demands of being a barista, from memorizing orders to connecting with customers, has developed fundamental skills that I know I will continue to rely on in the future. This job has stretched me and pulled me out of my comfort zone, and we all know, that is exactly where we learn the most. While being a barista might not directly contribute to my future in journalism, it has taught me life lessons that I know will come into play along this journey, and for that, I am very grateful.


More Than Words: Reflections From the API-Poynter Digital Storytelling Summit

About a month ago, I saw the following tweet:

As a college student who came to Washington DC for the semester specifically to study journalism, how could I not apply for an opportunity such as this?! Not only was this an amazing opportunity to meet fellow journalism students and hear from experts in the field, but it proved to be a great source of inspiration, reassurance and a reminder of what I love about journalism. Here are a few takeaways:

Tech is king, but so is content: It is nearly impossible to list all of the apps, websites, technology, software and resources mentioned throughout the sessions. The job description of “reporter” seems to have grown to “coder,” “photographer,” “graphic designer,” “entrepreneur,” “social media guru” and, well, you get the point. I don’t know about you, but that definitely overwhelms me. However, after unloading all this information on us, the speakers frequently clarified that it’s not about becoming a professional web developer or tech expert; we learn these things to understand the process behind what we do and add to the way we deliver the content–it’s still about the content. The digital world has provided journalists with so many different tools to enrich the way we tell stories, but notice that even though this summit was about the digital age, it was also about storytelling which is at the heart of journalism.

It will always be about people: Similar to the way stories continue to drive journalism, at the core, journalism is about providing information to the public. The news industry is a service just as much as it is a business. It’s no secret that news organizations are faced with big issues surrounding what works best to make news profitable. Despite this business model crisis in journalism, the focus continues to be about how to best deliver the content to provide the public with both the information they want and need. It’s also about how to best engage with the audience, not just to get views but to provide a service. Journalism is both about having an audience to sustain the industry and being a source of information that the public can depend on. It’s really a symbiotic relationship.

One of the sessions we had on interviewing really highlighted treating people (especially sources) as more than just a means to an end. Baltimore Sun crime reporter, Justin George, talked about interviewing and the main tips he stressed revolved around empathy and treating each person like… a person. It always has and always will be about not losing sight of why we do what we do and what this whole industry exists for. Granted, there are journalists who cut corners and see sources as nothing more than a good quote that will make their article better. However, the interesting fact of the matter is, the best journalists and most profitable news organizations are the ones who put people first. When service is forsaken for profit, the business side almost always ends up suffering, too.

Problems + Journalists = Great discussions & innovation: Like most industries, journalists are challenged with keeping up with the fast pace of the digital age. Despite these challenges, many of the speakers throughout the session referred to this time as the “golden age of journalism.” Instead of all these recent changes in technology and society being a barrier to the industry, it is an opportunity for growth. In fact, there was a whole session led by OpenReporter CEO, Misha Vinokur, talking specifically about how to approach news like a startup. The current state of the news industry provides so much room for innovation. Journalists are already trained to examine both sides of a story or issue. So, when journalists face challenges within their own industry, they aren’t hesitant to critically examine what needs to be changed.

Over lunch, during the conference, I had a really great discussion with a few other students attending the event. We were talking about the challenges of integrating social media with journalism. In the midst of our discussion, we stopped and kind of laughed about how we were, in a sense, critiquing the very industry we were here to learn about. It’s all part of being a journalist–being so obsessed with what you do that you are willing to think deeply about what’s working and what can be improved. I really enjoyed that discussion and felt like I grew so much from not being afraid to think and talk about issues that need to be addressed in the industry that I love so much.

My journey to journalism is not over: Ever since I came to DC back in January, I’ve wrestled a lot with my “career path choice” as I was reminded over and over again how much I don’t know and can’t do. It was (and continues to be) a humbling experience. Sometimes those moments are necessary. Life is all about learning new things; that’s what makes it exciting. However, honestly, I was feeling discouraged. I knew I wanted to be a journalist (A LOT), but I doubted whether I actually have what it takes to be a journalist. Then, this opportunity came along and while it showed me that I have even more to learn and improve on, it also reminded me why I chose to pursue this career in the first place. This weekend, I realized that the reason why I want to be a journalist is not because it comes easily to me. It’s not because I have fully developed all the skills I need to succeed in this field. I want to be a journalist because I love the industry. Simply put, I love journalism.

While I tried my best, this post does not do the sessions justice. It’s funny because that was kind of the whole point of the summit. There are some things that words alone can’t fully capture. We still need those words and people who write skillfully, but now we have all these tools at are disposal that can help us improve the way we capture and share stories.

If you’re interested, all the sessions were recorded and will be available online soon. I highly recommend checking it out. When the sessions are uploaded, I’ll put a link here!

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Reflections from CPAC (Can’t Provide Any Credentials)

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 11.32.54 PMThrough a series of unexpected events, I found myself at CPAC with seven other journalism students from WJC… with no pass or registration. We were given a spur-of-the-moment opportunity to get a media pass on-site through providing proof that we wrote for the various publications we are interning at. When we arrived at the media registration table, we were told that we didn’t qualify because we were only interns. We tried repeatedly to get in (because journalists don’t back down after the first “no”), but apparently, due to the “shortage” of press passes they had, they were only giving the passes out to “senior journalists” from places like CNN or MSNBC.

I’m trying to prevent this from sounding like a rant, but I left that registration table a bit discouraged and insulted. Granted, we just showed up the day of the event and yes, we are all still students working towards becoming journalists, but I think they could have said something more along the lines of, “It’s too late-notice.” Instead, they made sure we knew how unqualified we were as interns and suggested we purchase the student pass, write something for fun, and then maybe come back in a year. All that to say, as someone trying to work hard to determine whether or not I have what it takes to be a journalist, being written off as not good enough because I’m just an intern wasn’t the most encouraging thing to hear, and that set the tone for the rest of the day.

I ended up staying around the event for a little while longer because, even though I couldn’t necessarily get in, there were so many people walking around; it could still be a good networking opportunity, right?… Wrong. I left that day with zero business cards, and the reason why is my fault.

Being surrounded by a lot of well-qualified people at an event that I’ve never been to before with so much going on everywhere was overwhelming to say the least. That in and of itself is enough to make one feel unqualified, and that’s without having staffers remind you you’re not experienced enough. Feeling out of my element, yet hopeful, I pushed myself to stay there longer just in case something happened that could change the direction things were headed in and launch my career in journalism. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but I knew this was a great opportunity and I wanted to make sure I got everything out of it as I possibly could, and I did. Just, not in the way that I expected.

I was turned away. I didn’t get to network or take selfies with leading conservative politicians. BUT, I’m glad I went to CPAC today. This whole experience revealed the areas I need to work on as a journalist; most of it revolving around a need for confidence and an ability to dive into an event or situation whether I feel well equipped and prepared or not. CPAC knocked me off my high horse, reminded me that I’m just a lowly intern, but most importantly showed me where I can grow as an aspiring journalist.

Another plus side... the venue was gorgeous.

Another plus side… the venue was gorgeous.


The Walter Mitty Syndrome

11712079046_eb6e6bff9bIn continuing with my movie theme from my last post, I have officially diagnosed myself with what I like to refer to as “the Walter Mitty syndrome.” As I watched the movie in theaters earlier this year, I found myself identifying with the main character, played by Ben Stiller. The deeper I get into journalism, the more I am affected by this “syndrome.”

For those of you who haven’t read or watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, it revolves around a man who works for Life magazine (which already stuck out to me as an aspiring journalist). Working around so many stories and pictures of wild adventures and breathtaking sceneries feeds his bouts of daydreaming. Mitty will see something or think of something that triggers an action-packed adventure… in his head.

Well, with the constant brainstorming of possible news stories, I too drift off and, like Mitty, I often find myself tuning someone out in a conversation. I could be talking to a friend, eavesdropping…I mean, listening to those around me, or even sitting in class when someone will mention something that happened to them or something that’s coming up and immediately, my mind starts to go down the perilous path of “could that be a news story?” As I construct the whole story, thinking about possible sources, and trying to come up with a thought-provoking or innovative take on the story, I realize that I have completely phased out of reality. This is not good, especially when it happens in the middle of a professor reviewing for a test (sorry professors).

Just last week, I was going through lifeguard training and the instructor was talking about how water was considered a weapon, and that there were around 74 water related deaths in Texas in 2013. When he said that, I remembered that my school has a pool without a lifeguard on duty. I started to think of the possibility of doing a story on the amount of emergencies in the pool or maybe find out more about what the facility’s plan of action is in case of an emergency. Then I realized that the instructor had been continuing to talk the whole time… and I had no idea what he had said after the “74 water related deaths” part. Not a good thing to do when being trained on something like saving someone from drowning. I need a cure.

P.S. Yes, I wrote this post while listening to the Walter Mitty soundtrack the whole time. Just thought I’d let you know.


The ‘Non-Stop’ Flow of Information

Tonight, I went to see Non-Stop. That movie definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, but the reason why I’m putting this on a blog that’s supposed to be about journalism is because it actually revealed a lot about how the media works today. Before I go into the journalistic connection behind this suspenseful-thriller, I have to give a little background information (don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers). 

Non-Stop takes place on a plane en-route to London.The air marshal, Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), receives a text message saying that one passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred to a given bank account. Marks tries to identify the source of the texts among the 150 passengers on board.Initially, he conducts random searches and makes announcements that make the people on board confused and anxious while withholding as much information as possible since any one of them could be the culprit. Thanks to technology, the passengers initial source of news about their flight comes from none other than the national news streaming live on their individual television screens, and a lot of where those news stations are getting their information is coming from onboard footage taken by a teenage boy with a camera phone.

That’s when it struck me, the very people involved in the situation find their information from a secondhand source. Obviously, Marks doesn’t tell the passengers all the information due to security and safety precautions as he doesn’t want everyone to panic and he doesn’t want to agitate the terrorist behind the threatening text messages. However, the whole situation brings me to ask two questions: 

  1. With the advancement of technology, is it really possible to control when and how information gets out? 
  2. Was it really safer and more desirable that the passengers had to eventually find out from the newscast rather than hear directly from the authorities on board?

News spreads. That’s a fact that has been true in every time period, but in the 21st century where we have all types of information at the end of our fingertips, the dynamics have changed a lot. 

Whether in big corporations or governments, certain information is withheld because of the danger or negative effects it could have on those connected to the situation, but today, anybody with a camera and access to the internet can release news no matter how accurate or useful the content is. It is weird how today, in the name of safety, security and confidentiality those who are directly involved in a situation sometimes get updates and news about their predicament from those who aren’t even in a 25 mile radius from them and have no connection or involvement in the crises at hand. Who gets to know? Those involved or those searching for news? And who tells them? Someone on the scene or is news developed from rumors and speculation? 

Sorry to throw a bunch of questions at you, I might be rambling at this point but it just really stood out to me. I want to clarify however, that I’m not saying that people should not get their information from the news media, that would most likely put me out of a future job. However, many times, especially when it comes to sensitive situations, the information is gathered from tweets and word of mouth instead of given directly from the authorities or people who know first hand what is going on and can give the right information for the media to disperse. While some information does need to be guarded, sometimes, we get a little too protective of our information, until it finds another, usually messier, way to get out to the public. When it comes to releasing news, transparency not only makes it easier for us (journalists) to collect the right information, but it can be more beneficial than trying to keep everything under wraps. What do you think? 

And as for the question about national security the movie brings up, we’ll leave that to someone else to blog about.

 

1. Side note: Someone behind this movie seems to like the number 150.


Nothing But the… Lessons.

ImageLast week was tough. To sum up the major things: my opinion editor/executive managing editor told me she wouldn’t be able to continue working for the paper after spring break, the company that prints my school’s newspapers is shutting down next month, the shipment of the right paper wasn’t in on time for publication so we had to use a mix of two different papers for this issue, I found out my school is not going to continue the journalism major, and I stayed in the office working until 2 a.m. on deadline for our first 16 page issue of the semester. Okay, so that wasn’t summing it up, and in the end, all those things worked themselves out (and I’m still alive). Although I wouldn’t willingly relive that week, I gained a lot of valuable lessons through those experiences. Here are a few. 

Censorship = A Journalist’s Worst Nightmare: I kind of hinted at this in my last post, but I ran into an issue at my university that taught me that I am not exactly free to publish everything. It was a bit frustrating trying to understand and work with people who are above me who say they have the school’s best in mind but inadvertently make it more difficult for the editor in chief of the school paper  (*cough* me *cough*) to keep students updated. That whole experience though will be something that I will never forget and it made me see that reporting news is a lot more complicated than what it seems on the surface. There are obviously those things that you can’t publish due to legal reasons, but there are also stories that may do more harm than good, so do you still publish it? 

Don’t Report When You’re Angry: Thankfully, I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way, but going off of the previous lesson, there were a lot of things that I said in the heat of the moment that I am thankful I did not publish. Especially when there’s an issue that is close to you, give it some time before deciding if and how you’re going to write about it. Notice this blog post didn’t come until a full week later, I don’t even want to think about what I would’ve posted if I wrote this last week.

Focus. Focus. Focus!: There is way too much to cover to get so caught up in the little issues. I learned that I not only have to be intentional with my time, but also with my thoughts. There are so many times when I spend a ridiculous amount of time just brainstorming a bunch of different story ideas, but never have the time to see them through. Brainstorming is good, but there comes a time where you just have to pick one thing, cut your losses, and run with it. 

Expect the Unexpected:  Going into last week, I did not expect that I would need to consider finding a new printer and an executive managing editor (and I don’t know if you understand how much my executive managing editor means to me…she keeps me sane during deadlines!). I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before, and I assure you, I will mention this again, but the job description of editor in chief/journalism student grows bigger and bigger every day. I did not expect to have to deal with so much budget, financial, crises management, business issues, but it’s teaching me a lot.

News Goes On…and So Does Life: Despite whatever unexpected event or crises comes up, new news to report is being made every second. Even if I miss one opportunity or breaking story, there is always going to be another story to cover. That does not take away the disappointment that comes with a lost story, but it does give you what it takes to move on to the next story.