“Your hoodie may be fatal, according to the ever controversial, Geraldo Rivera.”

As if the Feb. 26 shooting death of Florida high school student Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, hasn’t sparked enough controversy, Geraldo Rivera fanned the flames just that much more when he chimed in Thursday evening tweeting, His hoodie killed Trayvon Martin as surely as George Zimmerman,” among other things.

Parks and Recreation‘sAziz Ansari among others responded quickly to the former talk show host’s comments, tweeting succinctly, “It’s really appropriate to tweet this any day, but seriously – F–k you Geraldo.”

It was recently reported that George Zimmerman who is now out of jail on bond has a website that has raised more than $200,000! The prosecution is currently seeking an increase on his bond.

How “trendy” social media makes injustice bothers me. People are easily distracted by the real issue & harbor on subsequent/ minor issues. The Martin case is a genuine injustice but before this tragedy did you know more about gun policies or Basketball Wives? …be honest.

 

AML

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With this likely being my last post here on A ‘J’ in the Life, I wanted to do a little bit of looking back and look toward the future a bit.

It’s something that happens every year at student newspapers across the country.

The current editor eventually become the former editors as they get ready to graduate and a new group comes in and starts to hold down the fort as we close the year out and get ready for next year.

I’m fortunate enough to say that I got to work with a lot of incredibly talented and hard-working people this year at The Daily Athenaeum. We lose a couple of editors next year and I can honestly say that I’m going to miss working with people like Ben Gaughan (my Associate Sports Editor, who will be likely moving down to a sports writer position before graduating next December), our Editor-in-Chief Erin Fitzwilliams and City Editor Mackenzie Mays.

And then there’s John Terry. Our (now former) Managing Editor who will be moving down to Campus Calendar Editor next fall as he begins grad school and a graduate assistantship in the Sport Management program here at WVU.

Everyone who I listed above has helped make this year one of the best of my life. I’ve had a ton of fun getting to work with everyone over the course of this year.

Yesterday was our first day of getting to work with our new group of editors without the other guys being there to help out too much. It was the first time we really got to see what the new editors woudl be able to do without the other people walking them through everything.

Heading into that first day, I was pretty excited to get started with the new group.

After yesterday I might be even more ready to get next year started.

There are a lot of people who really want to come in and do a great job for this newspaper and that’s the biggest thing. If people come in and show right away that they’re willing to work hard, I’m not going to be worried at all about what they’ll be able to do next year.

In my opinion, I think the staff next year, as a whole, can be even better than we were this year. I’m not saying we weren’t good this year – because I feel like we were better than we were last year – but I think that with the editors that are returning, plus the ideas that some of the new people have brought with them and have already started working on, we have a chance to make a lot of improvements this year.

And that’s what’s great about places like The Daily Athenaeum.

We’re students, working in a professional environment every day without having teachers or advisors stepping in and telling us what we should and shouldn’t do. If we have ideas that we want to do and put on the page, we have the independence to be able to do that.

If it works out, that’s great. If not, we know not to do that again.

But the fact that we get to use this opportunity to do these kind of things is extremely exciting and it’s something that I think this next editorial staff here at The DA will be able to accomplish very easily.

It’s going to be a fun ride next year with Cody Schuler and Lydia Nuzum at the helm, and I couldn’t be happier to spend my final year at The DA working for those two.

Tell me a little about yourself:

I was originally born in Basingstoke, Hampshire and left England when I was 18 months to move to Australia.  I lived there until 2000 and have lived in US since 2001; I became a citizen in 2011.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in journalism?

I’d always loved writing. I’ve always wanted to write a novel. The furthest I ever got was 40 pages, then I realized I hated every single character and what they had become. I’d always loved the BBC News website and their broadcasts and thought I could do that. Then, as a high schooler, I was able to write a few pieces for The Bannerin Braxton County, and the writing bug stuck with me.

The School of Journalism offer choices among print, TV/broadcast, PR, etc…How did you know print journalism was the emphasis you wanted to chase?
Print journalism allows you to grab people with your written words – what’s not to love about that? There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing someone discuss something you’ve written or catch someone looking at your content as you pass them in public.

Were you involved in any clubs or activities in the J school?

I was briefly in the Society of Professional Journalists, but dedicated most of my collegiate career (both in my News/Ed degree and my Professional Writing & Editing degree) to The Daily Athenaeum. After submitting a guest column in 2006 I quickly found myself becoming more entrenched in the almost 125 years of history the building has and contributing to one of the best student experiences on campus.

Iwas Opinion Editor for two years, Editor-in-Chief for one year and A&E editor for my final year, as well as being a writer. Applying for that job has paid me infinite dividends, giving me real-world experience on campus through an entirely student-run process. Making important editorial decisions as a staff without adult supervision or influence was always nerve-racking but absolutely essential groundwork training for this business.

What are you currently doing post-graduation?

I found gainful employment in journalism – it is possible! I am currently the Public Relations Specialist at WVU Arts & Entertainment. I’m loving every minute of it. In my final year at The DA I was Arts & Entertainment editor. Through some amazing luck a position opened up with a department I’d come to know very well through covering University events and I was lucky enough to be interviewed twice before finally getting the job.

Do you feel the School of Journalism adequately prepared you for this career?
The school of journalism definitely prepared me. I accredit much of my confidence as a journalist/public relations writer to Bonnie Stewart (former public affairs professor), John Temple and Cathy Bonstetter. All of those professors helped guide me into a narrative style and better understanding of journalism. Bonnie’s relentless passion for cold-hard facts scared me at first but quickly grew on me. Temple and Bonstetter also encouraged my enthusiasm and passion, and that was a great influence.

Of all the skills you learned as an undergraduate, what do you find yourself utilizing most frequently?

Being able to talk to the public. I think print journalists are inherently introverts – they’d rather let their work speak for them. Having Stephen Colbert mock my accent on a conference call was a genuine highlight for overcoming any nerves.

(laughs) Wait, can you elaborate on that?

 

I was able to interview Stephen Colbert as part of a conference call for the rally to restore sanity
The DA was a big proponent in that.
So how did the mocking come about?
I said “fearful” and it had my accent and he said “Feahful? Is that an accent I hear? Are you an American sir?”
That’s classic!  Thank you for your time today, David, and congratulations on your success!

Ever since my first days in the J School, I heard so many horror stories of equipment issues within the TVJ department. As you all know by now we produce a student WVU News cast, and we shoot our own stuff too. The equipent wasn’t alwasy the best but all of the past and current students have made due. WVU always tries to provide their students with the best of the best and they haven’t ceased.

Recently, Television Productions at the Waterfront and the TVJ department has invested in a multi-million dollar project to upgrade all of their equipment to HD to keep up with the times. Unfortunately, I was not able to take advantage of this investment just yet and I must admit, I’m a bit jealous.

I am super happy for the prospective WVU News students that will have to ability to work with the new equipment. I truly believe this will make all the difference once they enter the real world in a newsroom or reporting in the field. TVJ is one of those fields that is super hands-on and you really have to just do it to perfect it.

Waterfront Productions will also be updating the set of WVU News for a newer, fresher, look. The look we currently have is a bit dated and hasn’t been changed in the last five or six years. I can’t wait to come back and see all of the renovations.

Not only are the WVU News students getting a chance to work with new equipment, the TVJ 386 class will also be using new cameras with HD quality options. These cameras are the ones that my class used this past semester and are only a year and a half old! As a graduating senior, I don’t think that these prosppective students realize how grateful they should be. Everyone n the TVJ department, as well as the J School in general, works really hard and fronts a lot of money to provide their students with the best of the best.

This does pose a question that I must ask…
Do you think that it is worth it to spend millions of dollars for new eqipment and a new set? Or do you think the money could be used for “more important things?

-AML

 When you work for a student publication, you learn pretty quickly (especially in sports), that’s there’s a bit of a hierarchy when it comes to the media that covers the team.

As far as the regulars who cover the team, The Daily Athenaeum has been able to work its way up to where we are now a publication that is being treated just as well and gets just as much access with the teams we cover as every other publication that covers WVU sports. We’ve been able to continue gaining that respect over the last few year by providing the fair and unbiased coverage of these teams just like everyone else whose job it is to write and report on the Mountaineers.

This spring, we’ve gotten to learn firsthand about the hierarchy that also exists on the larger scale of national media vs. local media.

With the West Virginia football team looking like it has the ability to be one of the best teams in the nation, it has brought plenty of attention to Morgantown from national media outlets like ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated.

And they’ve been treated a little differently than us local guys have.

Following WVU’s football practice Tuesday (in which ESPN’s Joe Schad, Jesse Palmer, Chris Spielman and Joey Galloway, along with CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman were in attendance for) , WVIllustrated.com’s Geoff Coyle wrote this about what local beat writers have been experiencing this spring.

“We’ve been told the difference is that those folks are “invited guests,” yet their job is the same, to report on what they saw at practice. The rest of us, the uninvited guests as it seems, see so little that blog updates like this one get progressively thinner as the spring wears on,” Coyle wrote.

The way it is currently set up is that the media comes into practice (usually at 4:30 p.m., unless we’re told any differently) and we get to watch the first 30 minutes. Usually that entails getting to watch the team stretch and break off into drills. Most of the time they work on something involving kickoff or punt coverages, Oklahoma drills and position coaches work with their players on individual things.

But we see no actual football being played all spring.

The day of the first scrimmage, after 20 minutes they began playing and we had to leave. To be clear, I personally have no problem with the fact that we don’t get to watch anything. I understand that head coach Dana Holgorsen doesn’t want people to write about the things his team does in actual situations that they’re going to have in games.

With that said, it does seem a little unfair that they’ve gotten so much more access.

But I see where they’re coming from and why they do it. Honestly, I don’t blame them.

Letting The Daily Athenaeum stay for the whole practice and writing about what they see isn’t going to get nearly as many views as letting ESPN, CBS or Sports Illustrated do that. As a football program, WVU is trying to do whatever it can do to get as much buzz as possible coming into this season (and for good reason).

With these guys there getting the coverage they’ve gotten, it’s brought about a lot of really positive things about the program, the players and the coaching staff.

“It’s in the best interest of the program to let national media get a full view when they come, so they can shed a favorable light on WVU. That being said, there is no negative side effects of having local media get the same view,” one WVU beat writer said. “Trying to report from 30 minutes of practice is laughable.” 

It’s a unique situation where you can see both sides and understand why local media is mad about this, but also see why WVU is doing it.

It might be a little unfair to the local beat writers like us at The DA, but I guess that’s why everyone in this industry strives to get the chance to work at one of those big national publications. Who wouldn’t want to be treated like they’ve been by WVU at every single school they travel to?

Must be nice …

One such task our journalism ad class has so kindly deemed us to fulfill was to create a social media campaign that would incorporate the idea of deterring negative fan behavior.

The great thing about social media is that you can reach everybody. The bad thing about social media is that not everyone wants to be reached. It has to benefit the intended audience in some way, or it is winged out the door and never thought of again.

So we decided to beef up the concept. Why not design a ridiculous video clip and mention our social media outlets at the end of it? So we did. We made fools out of ourselves, and documented it on camera, all in the name of gathering a following on Facebook and Twitter. This will allow us to continually promote the necessity of positive fan behavior at WVU.

We hope that these video creations will spark some curiosity and have people start following @DIGWV for inspiration to act more respectful throughout WVU. Cause it’s DIGNITY! C’Mon!

Wait to see the commercials and footage floating around soon.

I’ve learned quite a bit in my time as a student reporter.

As I wrote in my last post on this blog, getting to write at a newspaper while you’re still in school (especially in sports), gives you a really cool opportunity to pick up a lot of things that you wouldn’t normally be able to learn. Every time I’m at a press conference or covering a game, I’m around a bunch of people who have earned their stripes in this industry over the years and, for the most part, are very good at what they do.

Just by sitting and watching them, you can learn a ton. But in my time that I’ve gotten to spend with other writer, I’ve learned that one of – if not THE – most important part of our job comes from the ability to make connections with people.

As a journalist, what we do in this field relies on the fact that we’re able to be personable enough to meet people, make a good enough impression on them that they’re going to want to talk to us and then continue that relationship on later down the road – whether it be a professional relationship as a fellow colleague in the industry or as a source later on down the road for stories.

And that’s just another thing that has been great about getting to work at The Daily Athenaeum for the last few years. I’ve gotten the chance to meet and talk with a lot of people who have helped me a lot recently. The obvious goal when you’re trying to make these connections is so that one day, if I can find a big boy job as a sports reporter, I am able to go back and see all of these connections that I have been able to form with people over the course

I’ve used people like Athletic Director Oliver Luck and Sports Marketing Director Matt Wells, as well as other administrators as sources for multiple stories and have been able to build up a relationship with them to where they have been able to help me with just about any story that I’m trying to cover. Also, once you get in with a program enough and build relationships with coaches that you’re working with just about on a daily basis, they become more comfortable with you and will sometimes tell you things they wouldn’t tell other reporters.

With that information, it lets you write better stories and maybe even break stories that other outlets might not be getting.

All of this has helped me as I’ve continued to grow as a writer. I remember the first time I interviewed anyone for a story was when I was in high school and I had to talk to my school’s football coach for a story for our local newspaper. That nervous kid who went into the interview and read each question straight from the list that he had and didn’t do anything else is completely different from the interviewer I am today.

A lot of that is thanks to the connections I’ve been able to make and advice I’ve learned from other writers that I’ve talked to and observed during my time at The DA.

When I first started, I would’ve never known what to do with myself at something like the AAU basketball tournaments that I cover over the summer where you literally just have to walk up to someone after they’re done playing and start talking to them with the hopes that they’ll answer a few of your questions. Now I’ve found out how to go about these situations that, if they’re not handled correctly, could be really awkward and I’ve been able to thrive in them.

By covering basketball and sports here at WVU, I’ve been able to build connections with some of the best high school basketball coaches and players in the nation that I’ve been able to keep contact with and track them as basketball recruits (which seems weird, I guess, but as a guy who wants to make a name as a basketball reporter, stuff like that is huge). I’ve also built relationships with coaches and student-athletes here at West Virginia and other schools.

I wouldn’t be able to do this without my work at WVU and the student newspaper here. It’s shown me what it’s going to take to be successful in the area of networking with people who want to use as sources and other people who you want to build relationships with.