What I Learned This Semester

13 Dec

             This semester, not only did I learn to be a better journalist, but I learned valuable life lessons as well. I learned all about multimedia journalism and I learned how to interact with people better and that being yourself and talking to people will encourage them to tell their stories to make the writer’s story better. I learned that writing a story is a long, but rewarding process that makes effort and time to perfect. It is necessary to talk to sources multiple times to get the best possible information, and to make sure there are no loose ends in a story. When a source doesn’t answer you, it is important to keep trying because that person may be able to provide valuable information. The aspect of a narrative is important in telling a journalistic story, and the point through print, photos, video, etc is to continue telling a story and advancing the story. Using those types of media outlets in conjunction with each other can apply many angles to a story and inform the readers in multiple ways. It can appeal to many people, including people who would just want to view photos, video, or just read the print. I learned how to edit sound and how to strategically use audio for a story. I learned how to edit photos to only leave the important parts of the photo intact, and how to create captions that will tell a story through a slideshow. All this is necessary in journalism since it helps the viewers gain an understanding and learn new information about a particular story or topic.

                It is important to write and rewrite a story multiple times and to evaluate information to make sure all the facts are correct. The use of language is important and getting rid of unnecessary words to make sure the story is concise and gets to the point is what will engage readers. A good lead and kicker will draw readers in and leave them with a lasting impression about a story. It is important to forge relationships with the people you talk to for stories because they can help with stories later on and prove to be important sources of information for the future. Overall, I learned that journalism is a rewarding process, and the stories you learn to tell and the knowledge you gain through reporting is a once in a lifetime experience. It is a special experience to be able to learn about and tell a specific story to many people, and help deserving businesses and people gain exposure. 


Clay Shirky-Everyone is a Media Outlet

13 Dec

               For journalists, it was difficult to see the effects of the Internet and how people who weren’t trained in journalism could take over a media market and spread news exactly like professional journalists did via print. The Internet isn’t an organization or institution, yet it affects journalistic aspects and spreads news faster than print can. Thus, the Internet becoming such a large news outlet shows that amateur journalists can take over the field of professionals. Newspaper executives were slow to see the change and slow to react to the change after seeing the affects of technological media.

                A profession exists because it is scarce and only a certain group of people have knowledge to partake in such an occupation. In those cases, professionals are gatekeepers and provide and control access to information, entertainment, and communication. For newspapers, professional behavior is guided by the commercial aspect and what constitutes good journalism. The professional aspect is most important in showing the relations of its members. A profession becomes a way of understand the world, and thus differentiates the person learning the profession. The person learning the profession pays more attention to peer judgment rather than customer judgment to improve in the profession. However, with journalism, production, reproduction, and distribution are easier to do, and control over the media is less scarce and is less in the hands of the professionals.

                It is easier to publish stories on the Internet, because more stories can get published. In newspapers, the lack of space can be an issue and the amount of ads the newspaper sells determines how many stories make it into the paper. The costs of publishing stories online are much cheaper and can be produced faster and with more information. Then, the question is posed about the uniqueness of publishing stories since most users can do it for themselves, even without journalistic background.

                Even if stories do get printed in a publication, people can use websites to comment about their opinions and can editorialize a story. Thus, reactions and different story angles and be redistributed and produced online regardless if a story was in print. A group of editors can decide whether to publish a story or not, and the information can be of interest to the general public may not be published. This can be a result of the professional bias. However, mass amateurization undoes that process, and the stories that interest people will be published, and by the people themselves. This shows that there is a shift in the definition of news. The change goes from news as an institutional prerogative to news as part of a communications ecosystem occupied by a mix of formal organizations, informal collectives, and individuals. As a result, it is difficult to distinguish between who earns the title of journalist and publisher. However, now anyone can be a journalist, and anyone can publish information which can be accessed around the world. Since there is the lack of scarcity with journalism currently, it is important to realize that since there is no limit to those who can partake in journalism, and to question how to alter journalism to fit the new technological reality. Even a private email sent between a few coworkers is now seen as publishing and a public act, since all copies of the email can’t be destroyed, and can be readily and easily spread. In this instance, the scarcity is the information in the private email that could help out a story and wouldn’t be found elsewhere. This also shows that if everyone can do something, it is no longer rare enough to pay for, even if it is vital. 

Jeff Jarvis’ Blog

13 Dec

                  It is interesting to see how opinionated Jeff Jarvis is in his blog especially about political topics. He’s not afraid to say what he really thinks about politicians and doesn’t seem to be objective. However, he does disclose the fact that he’s opinionated in his many disclosures and reveals his political affiliation and all previous job positions. This is interesting and also invasive, since it can make the reader feel comfortable that he’s honest, but he reveals unnecessary information about himself.

                After reading “Dear Verizon,” it’s evident that Jarvis is sarcastic when he writes, but also uses anecdote and uses a narrative to describe the issue. He shows the situation through his words and doesn’t tell it, and allows the readers to imagine the situation as Jarvis went through it. He told his story about how Verizon was supposed to come fix his Internet but they were late in doing so, and offered suggestions to Verizon so the company can improve its services. Jarvis suggested for Verizon to display a monitor to show what place people are in line and when they will be able to get help. His purpose was for Verizon to be transparent and show how many appointments the company had that day so that the customers can know approximately how long they would need to wait for their appointment which many people may agree with and complain to Verizon about.

                His blog topics and his writing style are interesting and important because it can engage readers. With that, it not only allows the readers to learn the information that Jarvis is talking about, but if they agree with his opinion they can share the blog with other readers and can engage in civic journalism. The readers can then talk to Verizon or try to resolve the issue at large. Thus, Jarvis can persuade readers to make a change in society as well, and this style is effective. He is not masking his opinions and readers may appreciate that he is revealing his true beliefs. He also uses other references including companies, studies, and scholarly names to show that his opinion is based on factual information he has uncovered and inquired about. His blog posts show that he put thought into his posts, and didn’t just ramble without having facts to support his opinions.

                Jarvis writes about many issues in daily life that could be interesting to readers including the Occupy Wall Street issue, the digital age, privacy issues, and other topics that are pertinent to this era. This also shows that people in the media do have their own blogs and post information that is different than in the media they portray.  

Seattle Times Multimedia Project-Graffiti

13 Dec

                The “Graffiti” multimedia project was done well because it encompasses many journalistic aspects. This is done well since it is talking about the region and surrounding neighborhoods, and just like the title says, it provides views and angles from many different neighborhoods. Besides the topic of graffiti being an engaging topic, the project included text, video, and photos to engage any viewer in the topic. In the video “Graffiti removal,” it was interesting to see that there are designated graffiti rangers who work to clean graffiti. That is an interesting angle to approach the story with since people do not usually see how graffiti is cleaned up or what goes into the removal process. Thus, the videographer chose an interesting and informative topic to engage the viewers in. It was especially interesting that they respond to phone calls on a hotline to clean graffiti and that they do clean sweeps in neighborhoods to clean up the graffiti. The video provided images of the rangers cleaning the graffiti while having a speaker in the background explaining the process and alternatives, so it was done well.

                In the segment “Scenes from the neighborhoods,” these blogs of photo galleries were interesting to include as well because it was as if the viewers had a tour of Seattle with the angle of graffiti. Vast research was done to find the notable places with graffiti and photograph it and compile it together for the project. With each picture and blog there is information about the graffiti as well that people may not have known. The project provides views from different locales including a skate park, and surrounding areas. There’s a blog from an artist who helps teens get introduced to other forms of art to get them away from engaging in graffiti, and information on how neighbors can help manage graffiti in areas in which they live. There are also photos of the rangers cleaning up the graffiti in conjunction with the video providing that footage. Thus, this project encompasses the entirety of the situation, including a photo of a building owner who refuses to paint over the graffiti. There are captions for the pictures to inform the public and tell the broader story as well. This project also allows people to comment about graffiti and whether authorities are doing enough to stop the graffiti. This allows the citizens to participate in journalism which increases readership and makes viewers want to keep reading and viewing the project. They can contribute from their own experiences, which can prove valuable to the journalist as well, since the journalist can do more coverage and see what other areas are affected, or which other angles could be told.

                This is important for my project as well because I’m supposed to cover an interesting angle of a story that people wouldn’t necessarily know or think about. Besides just coming up with an interesting topic, I need to make it cohesive and use many different multimedia elements to make the project engaging and use many scopes for viewers. I need to be informative in text but also provide many interesting photos to bring the story to life, just as was done with this piece. 

Jay Rosen-The Journalists Formerly Known as the Media: My Advice to the Next Generation

12 Dec

                Journalism encompasses many aspects of daily life since journalism is the representation of the people. Journalists need to blog, understand search engines, know flash and HTMLs, understand Google, know how to edit and record video, and use mobile devices, along with basically have a firm grasp on the activities and information that people partake in everyday. However, it is also important to know that how a journalist sees society is how useful a journalist will be. Howard Beale did that masterfully when he used television to tell people not to watch television. This is interesting because he took a media in which people use avidly in their everyday lives and used it as a form of persuasion to tell them not to use it. It’s a genius method since the power of persuasion comes from the media and since people are so connected to television, a public service announcement like that can actually come across and affect people. People used to be connected “up” to big media such as television, but now people are connected to each other through other forms of media. They respond to the big media through Twitter, Facebook, mobile phones, etc. and people can now respond and continue spreading the news of the media.

                Back in 1764, the ideals that took place back then would not allow journalism to occur in present day. The king’s business was only the king’s knowledge, whereas today whatever a political leader is engaged in is spread in the media, and people feel that it is their right to know what their leader is doing. However, in 1781, the people realized that transparency was necessary and the people had the right to know about what was going on in the kingdom, especially since the business had to do with their money and their decisions.

                Journalism power and spread increased because of the growth and spread of printing, the rise of the periodical press, the emergence of international capitalism, the spread of enlightenment ideas, and the search and necessity for knowledge beyond what people were told about despotism. Curiosity fueled journalistic ideals. People began to wonder and wanted to know the truth, not just what they were told and journalism spread, with the search for knowledge and truth as focal points. In modern times, the mass media connects people to politicians, whereas before the politicians stayed away from the media completely. The media is a strong reason for the citizens’ knowledge of about what goes on in politics, and is a reason the media is so widely used as well.

                For journalism, it’s important to see people as a public. There may be many different receiving ends for which people receive their news, however, calling them users keeps it universal and keeps the readers, viewers, and listeners all equal receivers of news. It’s important to remember that the people who read the information from a newspaper know more than a journalist and that’s why journalists get ideas from readers to get more story ideas and angles about a particular subject. It’s important to use the information of the users and to capitalize on the knowledge and use it to generate other ideas, angles, and interesting stories that otherwise wouldn’t have been thought of. It is important to keep the news non-pretentious so that everyone can participate and make sure it is a direct reflection of the people. It is necessary to tell the news so that people are able to participate, not just read something and overlook it. The thing that makes journalists important isn’t their reputation or the company they work for, but the stories and reports they produce. A journalist who writes up a report was at the scene of an event or situation and can access information and retell what happened. That makes them stand out because their job is to be at that specific point in time, whereas other people may not know what happened. 

Sweet Culture and Community

8 Dec

             The rustic, brown, wooden floor came from an old house on the West Side. The sturdy, high-arching ceiling that forms the infrastructure was once a part of the Art Voice building on Main Street. The teal chairs used to belong to the Colored Musicians Club. Sweet_ness 7 Café has bits of Buffalo built in, and the people inside feel it.

            “It’s a feeling of community…you never know exactly who you’re going to see in these tight compact communities, and that’s what draws people and that’s what draws me,” said David Torke, who authors a blog about preservation and urban issues about the city’s East Side.

            The café begins and ends with Prish Moran, its pioneer, owner, and muse. The blonde, blue-eyed entrepreneur has worked to create a destination spot of the café, with her always cheerful smile. With her hands being the main tool for design, she took a run-down, desolate building and transformed it into an eclectic art space covered in murals she painted. She encourages people from all over the city to come and experience the diversity that is present on the West Side. Ranging from artists and photographers, to politicians and musicians, the diversity of café-goers and popularity of the café continues to rise. The café has proven so popular that Moran has even opened a second location on Parkside as well.

            Although the café is a high-spirited locale now, the café was born out of sadness. Moran saw and purchased the building which looked like a haunted house looming over the corner of Grant and Lafayette, a month after her beloved son was killed in a car crash. He had just moved back to the U.S. from Florence, Italy and had bought a house on Parkdale Ave., a block from where the café now stands. Stunned by her loss, she wandered the streets near his house, and was given a sign.

            “My mind was able to just feel the sun and the spring,” said Moran. “And then the craziness of my mind that I’m able to still look at a building and say ‘Oh what an awesome building, why is that all boarded up in graffiti?’” 

            Moran saw the building as a reflection of hope, and a beacon of optimism to go on even after her loss. The building spoke to her and she bought it on a whim. She then turned the transformation into her own, and with her positive hope and dreams for the café, she also turned it into the transformation of Buffalo’s West Side.

            Moran, an artist and restorer, worked every week day starting in August 2008 to revamp the building. Enlisting the help of many local craftsmen, retired people, and high school interns, the city was scoured for objects to refurbish the café with. They refinished the floors, and scrapped off the thick black and orange paint that coated the ceilings and walls. The arduous process of removing 60 years of trash from the building helped uncover the beauty Moran saw intrinsically. The work was tedious, Moran said, but it was a cathartic adventure. The café was opened that December, with a fully inviting, lit up welcome sign.

            Almost immediately, the café supplanted a community vibe, and became a sensation as one of the hippest cafés in the city. As a result of the successful independent business, the real estate prices of buildings near the café tripled according to Moran, and realtors use the café as a model for new businesses. New businesses such as the Westside Stories bookstore have opened nearby in the past year because of the luminosity of the revamped area, and the increase in people who meander through the West Side as a result of Moran’s endeavor. 

            “You can’t and shouldn’t ever have to explain a dream to anybody, but the fact that other people got it immediately and that it’s turned into what it is now, I feel extremely blessed,” Moran said.   

            Moran’s dream for the café was to provide a Euro-style feel for the café. Moran realizes people want to go to Europe to experience history, and Moran wanted to give the café that European historical atmosphere. The café building has 100 years of history, and she wanted to make it feel its age. More people are turned on to Buffalo because of the café, and customers tell Moran that they feel like they’re in Europe.

            “People love this neighborhood because this was the most vibrant part of the city for decades, so many of those people still come in every weekend from the suburbs because they have a great memory of Grant. St.,” Moran said.  “I’m happy that I was able to create a space that they feel comfortable to come back to.”

            The café reflects the Euro-style Moran wants customers to realize, along with her eclectic personality, artistic flair, and dedication to her adopted city. On the wall inside the café, she painted a mural of the street outside the window. She also painted the decorated brick, and the colorful floral Tibetan design painted on the bar. Moran’s 14-year-old daughter designed the tables with different, colorful, fabric pattern-like decorations that make no two tables alike. Each table is its own mini-mural with a compilation of artistic ideas and colors. Newspaper bits, floral designs, and hearts on the round and square tables add the positivity that the café exudes. Moran also wants the café to feel like home and displays pots and pans in cabinets, kitchen supplies in wicker baskets, utensils in mugs, and plates matched with saucers as if one were in their own kitchen.    

            “I know [people] come here because this is what they believe in, in what makes a city rich and colorful and interesting is the arts,” Moran said.

            Courtney Imbert, a regular customer who used to work for Rich Products on the West Side, comes because it makes her feel part of the community.

 “My favorite part about it is the atmosphere because it’s a great gathering place; you can tell that there are always people who are either talking with each other or doing work on their laptops, or are just hanging out doing projects,” Imbert said.

            The workers also add to the positive atmosphere with their jovial remarks and casual manner. They prepare food in an open bar area and talk and joke with customers, and each other. The workers don’t just give the food to customers, but they also address people by their names and ask how they’re doing. The customers also recognize and talk to each other when they walk in, and the café is the arena for fellowship and the spread of knowledge and news.  

            “I think it’s attracting people to linger in the neighborhood a little bit more and go to places that are within walking distance of the café where maybe they would have just not only have driven by those stores,” Imbert said.

            Phil Durgan who has worked at the café since August believes customers like the local, less commercial and old world feel of the place.

             “I think people really [enjoy] something that’s not pretentious. It’s not super popular but yet it is still popular; it’s got that underground kind of vibe to it,” said Durgan. “I think that a lot of people come here because of that.”

            The food also makes Sweet_ness 7 unique. Everything from the breads to the quiches to the pastries are organic, and all the meat comes from local, grain fed animals, with no chemicals used in any of the food. Moran wants customers to know what they eat and to know where their food comes from.

            Moran doesn’t just want others to buy local to help businesses prosper, but she also does it herself. Moran purchases locally grown and produced food to help local businesses such as her own, thrive. She purchases a good portion of food for the café from local grocery stores Guercio’s and Lorigo, which she considers as family businesses that have been anchors of the neighborhood for years.

            She also believes in community responsibility and is using the café as a meeting point and a way to help others. For instance, she wants to include immigrants who make up a large part of the West Side population. In 2008, the first Christmas the café was open, she started a “Share The Love” fund which asks café-goers to donate money for immigrants and other disenfranchised people who are trying to establish themselves in Buffalo. The café also collects coats and boots to give to immigrants and shares leftover food from the end of the day. The $12,000 check that is donated from the café does not bear its name. Rather it is signed “love, Buffalo,” as proof that the whole city contributes.           

            Owning multiple cafés, revitalizing neighborhoods, and charity work is not enough for the ever-dynamic Moran. She is also working on restoring a local church, right next door to the café, into an international food market and bazaar for local immigrants. Moran’s goal is for immigrants to gain a sense of hope and to have jobs through cooking their own cultural foods in Buffalo. She realizes it is a difficult plight for newcomers to leave their homelands and start new lives, and wants to give them the opportunity and venue to succeed. 

            Moran, ever humble, attributes her success to others, never herself. Her workers, she says, make the café a success. The immigrants and people who help others make giving easy. Her children and workers provide the inspiration, and she feels blessed and lucky.

            Take the mural on the outside of the café, which Moran deems as fate, and as the magic of art. She painted it before the café opened and almost immediately after the café opened, immigrants from Thailand and Burma started gathering around it as a welcoming aspect for immigrants. As an artist and traveler, Moran looks for inspiration in magazines and keeps many pictures from magazines to draw inspiration from when crafting new projects. However, when she chose a photograph from a magazine to paint the mural on the brick on the outside of the building, she did not realize that the photograph depicted the God of happiness, a divine deity, which is also displayed in a holy city in Thailand.

            As immigrants from Burma and Thailand noticed her mural, they were overcome with jubilation and tears, rubbing the wall every time they walk by. To Moran it seemed that the mural was a welcome mat for the immigrants’ new home, and, specifically for one woman, “she found a piece of her city in Buffalo and knew she was in the right place,” Moran said.    










A Foote Above the Rest

8 Dec

              As he stirs the ingredients to make the daily fresh chai, he uses his pleasant demeanor to joke around and keep the other workers and customers company. The 27-year-old Sweet_ness 7 Café barista, wearing his floppy hat and loose brown shirt, fits in with the band persona, and shows that his personality is as eclectic as the café he works for.

            Originally from Youngstown, in the Lewiston area, Alex Foote has been an adopted Buffalonian for the past five years. Since he began working at Sweet_ness 7 Café two years ago, the love he shows for his coworkers, his boss, and his customers has been an asset to the café, and embodies the ideals that his boss Prish Moran promotes. 

            Foote’s humble personality and humorous attitude toward his coworkers is omnipresent, especially when Foote forgets to send food orders to the cooks. With his cheerful presence and ability to make his coworkers laugh, he redeems himself over the slight misstep.

            “This is why I love working here, because my fellow coworkers are so nice when I screw up like that,” said Foote.

            Coworkers take notice of Foote’s humility too, especially the ones who work closely with him.

            “As a coworker, he’s a lot of fun to work with; he’s got that real chill attitude,” said coworker Phil Durgan. 

            Not only does he bring joy to his coworkers, but he brings delight to others through music. As lead guitarist and vocalist in his band Free Henry!, Foote reveals his musical talents in his band. Free Henry! was started in 2002 with long time friends Derek Presti and Bob Buckley, both whom he met in high school. In 2009 when drummer Pat Mannella joined the band, the collective quartet became a staple for the Buffalo music scene. Playing at notable outdoor festivals and local venues, the band exudes the small town, friendly, humble values that Buffalo is known for. For Foote, although his band is successful in Buffalo, his future goal is for the band to tour, and he exemplifies music as a creative outlet which helps people get through tough circumstances in life. Foote helps make Free Henry! the unique and successfully independent band that it is. Foote’s contributions to the jam-band’s patented sound help set Free Henry! apart on Buffalo’s typical rock ‘n roll music scene.

            “Alex is one very creative and talented individual.  He brings great song writing and complex guitar solos to our songs that Free Henry! creates,” said Mannella.  He isn’t afraid to try risks when it comes to song structure, which is what I love. He has a very smart mind when it comes to the business and marketing side of things as well.  So when you combine his musical talents with his business sense, it’s a lethal combination.”

            Foote thoroughly enjoys performing, and writes lyrics and instrumentals for the songs the band produces. In Free Henry!’s new album Ethereal Gust, Foote’s talents culminate half the songs on the album, and his creative facets are illuminated.

            “I get to express myself through the higher part of music with three other guys who feel the same way, and I feel fortunate enough to be able to do that where people in Buffalo really appreciate and support us,” Foote said.  

            Besides being an ever-present musician, Foote is a fervent proponent of the arts in general, and he even decided to move to Buffalo because of its music and art scene. Just as Moran is revitalizing Buffalo’s West Side, Foote is helping to revitalize the local art scene. Foote noticed that over two years ago, the young, youthful, and creative scene which he loved was lacking in Buffalo, and there wasn’t a push or outlet for young artists to create and share art. Since then, he created WAM to promote the arts and allow the creative arena to spread. WAM, Writers/Artists/Musicians, is a monthly gathering event of artist networking, showcasing, and socializing between writers, artists, and musicians, and consists of featured visual and musical acts with an open microphone portion. WAM began when Foote attended a release party for Erica Eichelkraut’s NOMAD Art & Literary Magazine, a local art magazine which features visual artists, poets, and writers in the area. Eliciting the help of Eichelkraut and fellow band member Derek Presti, WAM was born. The efforts of the three individuals allowed the Buffalo art scene to flourish into a much stronger presence, and gave younger artists the outlet to assert themselves in the scene, according to Foote.   

            Besides spurring music and art scenes, Foote also attends the University at Buffalo to study speech language pathology. With communication being a large aspect of his life through music and art, being able to communicate at the basic human level and help others is the next step up for Foote. 

            “The underlining theme is the connection to people that the job and the band has and the schooling. It all works and deals with people and the connection you make with them through communication and inspiration,” Foote said.

            Communication remains his motivation to continue with school, work, and his band, and to maintain a positive attitude through the hard work.

            “I will accomplish [communication] but I don’t know [through] what means. I don’t know if that will be on a stage in front of thousands or millions, or if that will be in a classroom of 20 students,” Foote said.

            Although Foote doesn’t know his future plans, he plans to enjoy the journey through his life and what he is accomplishing. He realizes that he is lucky enough to be given the opportunities he’s been working towards, and wants to see where life leads him. To him, that’s what life is all about­­­­­­­­­—having goals but getting there with the journey—exuding the premise of the café he works for.