Thursday, October 3, 2013

Citizen Journalism: For Good or For Ill

When I was in journalism class, the subject of the affects of Citizen Journalism came up.  Citizen Journalism is everyday people reporting news.  One of the things we discussed was whether it was a positive or negative thing.

     If I recall properly (after all, it was a LONG time ago) the discussion was pretty evenly split with pros and cons.  With the recent government shutdown, I have started thinking about this discussion again.  What brought it up was thinking about how unbalanced the opinions have been about the whole mess, and how these opinions have been fed to readers.

     As a society, we have been groomed through the years to accept the news as fact.  If it was on the news, it was fact, as they had people who’s job was to check the facts of a story.  The only thing that was doubted was the weather.  At least some things never change…

     Now we live in the age of mass information.  Sharing news with people is now as easy as the click of a mouse button.  However, where is that “news” coming from?  One of the first things that my journalism instructor Rob Priewe made sure to press upon us, was to check your sources.  This is something that is more important now for more people, than ever before.

     In this current state of overabundance of information, where anyone with an email address can start a blog, it is now up to the consumers of this information to do the fact checking.  However, most of them have not been informed of this, or choose not to practice it.  With the advent of social media, the sharing of this misinformation becomes even more widespread.

     However, Citizen Journalism is not all bad.  For instance, often times a person with a cell phone and access to social media or their blog, are on the scene of an accident or other event, allowing them to share the news sooner than a mainstream media outlet.

     And then there are the travelogues.  This is where I feel Citizen Journalism really shines, especially since most of the travel journalism is in the form of  monthly publications.  However, with Citizen Journalism here, you have a wider variety of choices, whether you travel by motorcycle, do road trips with your family in a car or RV, or you prefer hoofing it, you can find a Citizen Journalist who caters to your taste.  Even though most travelogues are opinionated, as far as how the author feels about the particular road, vehicle, restaurant that they are writing about, the reader is expecting this.

     In the end, Citizen Journalism isn’t a bad thing.  It allows everyone to have a voice.  However, as with anything in this world, it is the responsibility of the person reading the story to make sure that the author is actually knowledgeable, or just stating an opinion.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stephen King's "On Writing"

I really enjoyed reading "On Writing" this term. I have read it before, and had learned a few things then. However, reading it another time through was definitely not a bad thing.

One of the most important things that I learned from the book that can be applied to both this class and my future career, is the use of the toolbox. How to organize it, by having your grammar and vocab on the top, and everything else following.

The second thing, and this is along the lines of the use of the toolbox, is to avoid adverbs. They pretend to be your friends, but they are not. I say this vehemently.

However, the most important thing that I learned from the book, and this applies more to my future career, but still to the class, is to just keep writing. Reading and writing are the only way that writers can keep their skills sharp.

A Boy's First Ride

When my son was younger, he liked riding around the parking lot on my motorcycle. He was too short to sit on the back, so I would have him sit in front of me on the seat, feet dangling in the air as we would do a few circles before he would want to get off. I figured that he would want to jump on the back and head out on the road with me as soon as he could reach the pegs.

However, as time went on, he started to become disinterested in the motorcycle in general. I was disappointed but didn’t push the issue, only asking on occasion if he would like to go for a ride, to be met with, “No thank you Papa.”

Recently he had been having some difficulties in school. He has Autism, and was acting out quite a bit at school, so my wife and I decided to give him a day off to regroup.

While trying to think of things that would help him to relax, I had started to get a little anxious and turned my thoughts to things that calm me down. The continuous cloud cover that marks the winter (and spring and fall) of Oregon had begun to break allowing some sunlight through.

There seemed to be a single sunbeam glowing on my bike, catching my attention through the window. Not expecting a positive answer, I threw out the idea of a ride to my son.

“Sure.” I had to check again and ask him to repeat it. He was already getting up to get his coat. I grabbed the helmets out of the closet, got him bundled up and called my wife to ask if she would mind a visit from us.

We didn’t have any gloves for him, but the ride wasn’t going to be too long. I even ran him around the block just to make sure that he wasn’t going to change his mind. With cries of, “Woohoo!!” and, “Yay!!” coming from the backseat, I figured that we were a go.

The ride to Mommy’s work was a little cold, but short. When we pulled up, he didn’t even want to take off his helmet. When she saw her son with his helmet on and the smile on his face, my wife was very proud of him.

After a short visit, my son was ready to get back out on the road, so we headed back home. Although his hands did get a little cold (I really wasn’t as prepared for this as I thought I was) he said that he was ready to travel longer distances with me. He was even willing to go to Klamath Falls, “as soon as you get me some gloves.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The New Face of Facebook

Facebook has changed again. It begins with a message welcoming you to the simpler version of Facebook. At least they are accurate about it being simpler, or as some call it, “dumbed down”.

The new interface of Facebook is missing a few key components. For instance, they have taken away the option of only seeing status updates. All that is available is the “News Feed”. This shows you EVERYTHING that your friends are doing.

You can see what status they liked that day, or who they became friends with. Of course, the most important thing that you can see is what your friends are doing in Mafia Wars (or Farmville, or whatever game they play) and what gifts they accepted.

Holy cow! There is no way that I could make it through my day without knowing that!

Before this last abomination, you could choose how much information to receive about your friends. Now Facebook has taken that freedom away from you.

There is no doubt that social networking is a very important part of today’s society. Whether you use it for catching up with friends that you haven’t spoken to in years, or to promote your self for work, it can be a powerfully addictive habit.

Facebook knows this and also knows that they can change anything without fear of people deleting their accounts, even with cries of, “This new setup sucks!”

Perhaps Facebook should have offered the opportunity for people to choose. Instead of shoving this new setup down the throats of the users, have a way for them to decide how much information they get. This is a way of pleasing the masses and keeping people excited about your product, instead of enforcing the fact that you run the monopoly on this deal.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Five Questions

I am thinking about doing my profile on Leslie Gorgita, a manager at a group home for Home Life.

What path did you take that brought you to your current place in life?

How did you get into this line of work?

How long have you been working for this company?

Did you have to go into a lot of education to get into this position?

Why did you choose this line of work?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nearly Normal's: All the Flavor, Without the Meat

What: Nearly Normal's "Gonzo Cuisine" - hearty vegetarian cuisine

Where: 109 Northwest 15th Street Corvallis, Ore.

Who: Anyone who wants to try something different, tasty, and healthy

Hours: Hours differ from summer to winter

Why: To try something a little different that won't clog your arteries

If you are looking for a place to eat that is out of the ordinary but isn’t a heart attack on a plate, Nearly Normal’s Gonzo Cuisine should definitely go on your list. With hearty food that fills you up, and flavors that tease the taste buds, this place has filled a niche that few have been able to fill in Corvallis.

The cool, creamy avocado complimenting the spice of the chipotle sauce that the Arizona tempeh (a soy product that is similar to tofu) is covered with creates an explosion of flavor. The crispiness of the lightly toasted white corn tortillas mixing with the crunch of the shredded cabbage and carrots as you bite into the taco gives this meal a firm texture that belies it’s “missing” ingredient.

The only thing that could be considered missing from this beautiful Mexican concoction is meat, but as a raging meat lover, I couldn’t even tell.

Hiding behind the Circle K on Monroe in Corvallis is Nearly Normal’s, a restaurant specializing in “Gonzo Cuisine.” Nearly Normal’s has been serving up this specialty of original recipes, including fresh and organic (if available) ingredients since 1979. Although they started off with a limited number of items on the menu, and even more limited eating space, through the years the menu and dining area have expanded.

Jamie Winter, a student at LBCC, highly recommends Nearly Normal’s. One of the cooks was her roommate for a while. “She surprised me a lot with her delicious leftovers.” Jamie says that her favorite was the chipotle tacos.

If “meat-aterians” give it a chance, they can find something to enjoy at Nearly Normal’s. The food is hearty and filling, with real flavor. Winter says, “I think if you are a lover of food at all you should definitely try it out! It's a fun new experience and no doubt about it the best vegetarian cuisine I have ever had.”

Stephen King "On Writing"

I love this book, as I have read it before. One of my favorite parts is him telling the story of how the book "Carrie" came about. He didn't like the story, didn't like the characters, and originally threw it out not giving it another thought. If it had not been for his wife reading the original draft that he had thrown away, then he may still be another struggling writer.

If there is a feature story that you are struggling with, letting someone else read it may give you a fresh perspective on it. If you feel as though you are just plodding along and it isn't forming a point, someone else with "fresh eyes" can give you a hint of where a reader would like the story to go. This way you have a story that is a little more agreeable with readers.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is after the paperback version of "Carrie" sold, and his wife Tabitha had come back from her mom's house with the kids. Stephen said, "I took her by the shoulders. I told her about the paperback sale. She didn't appear to understand. I told her again. Tabby looked over my shoulder at our shitty little four-room apartment, just as I had, and began to cry." I like this quote because it shows the emotion that each one of them was feeling. Through all the struggling and trying to raise two kids with not much more than two pennies to rub together, they would never have to set foot in that little apartment again.