Final

What is a young journalist’s responsibility in the increasingly corporatized world of media conglomeration, info-tainment and opinion journalism that passes as news reporting?

How can journalists engage in meaningful work & remain independent from faction? What qualities should such a journalist bring to the job? Why does this matter?

In a world of instant updates and media conglomeration, journalists have more responsibility than ever. The “primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 12). In modern society, citizens are being power washed with information from all sides. Brooke Gladstone, in her Influincing Machine, views media as a delusional set of mirrors that aren’t well calibrated, fogged, and cracked. “The media landscape is so cluttered with mirrors facing mirrors that we can’t tell where an image begins or ends” (Gladstone, xxi). The Internet is a wonderful source of infinite knowledge, but also an overwhelmingly confusing and contradictory place with a danger for overload.  When citizens receive information from Facebook statuses, Twitter updates, Instagram, and sites they stumble upon, they risk the danger of information overload and confusion. Now, more than ever, young journalists hold responsibility for steering citizens away from unverified and faction-based information. Young journalists must now provide resource for the tainted citizens- information the citizens can trust and rely on. The major responsibilities of a journalist in the increasingly corporatized world of media conglomeration, infotainment, and opinion journalism that passes as news reporting are responsibility to the truth, loyalty to citizens, discipline of verification, and independence from faction.

According to Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in The Elements of Journalism, the first and most confusing principle for journalists is an obligation to the truth. While truth is unanimously recognized as a key principle of journalism, its definition can sometimes get lost. Truth is not an absolute, but a goal and something that “grows like a stalactite in a cave, drop by drop, over time” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 44). In the Information Age and a corporatized world of media conglomeration, there is a large growth in available news and almost infinite information. Ironically, finding truth in the Information Age takes more work than the ages without such technologies precisely because there is so much information available. The overload of information becomes increasingly challenging to sift through and “knowledge becomes more difficult to acquire, not easier” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 48). Citizens looking for truth browse the abundant array of often-contradictory information on the web and must reach their own conclusions. Reading about an issue can be taxing with bloggers and tweeters and Facebook users writing heated opinions. The responsibility of the young journalist is to “give citizens identifiable sources and verify the information, highlighting what is important to know and filtering out what is not” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 49). Gladstone notes “we expect cops to be honest and firefighters to be brave” but with journalists, “we expect it. And yet we don’t expect it” (Gladstone, 45). Citizens want the truth, but are skeptical of anything put in front of them. Journalists need to uphold the expectation of truth. With any Average Joe able to give information as fact on the web for all to see, young journalists must give the truth. They have a responsibility to be an outlet of information that doesn’t need questioning. With plenty of untruths in cyberspace, citizens are increasingly skeptical of any and all information. Journalists have a responsibility to rebuild trust and they can do this through truth. If journalists only report the truth, citizens can trust at least one facet of information they are bombarded with in the Information Age.  Journalists work for citizens and citizens need truth.

Journalists have employers, of course. But the loyalty of a journalist goes beyond a loyalty to his employer. Kovach and Rosenstiel argue, “journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 52).  With the primary purpose of journalism as providing citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing, Journalists must be loyal to the citizens they provide information to- at the stake of anything else. With most journalism available for free in this new media-based world, journalists have a very different relationship with their ‘consumers’ than other businesses. Instead of merely selling consumers content, journalists now have the responsibility of “building relationships with their audience based on their values, judgment, authority, courage, professionalism, and a commitment to the community” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 64). The business relationship of journalism is simply different from traditional consumer marketing especially now that ‘journalism’ is everywhere on blogs, in Facebook statuses, and floating all around the web. In our corporatized world, the relationship between news and business needs examining. In order for news businesses to remain successful, Kovach and Rosenstiel outline five key characteristics: the owner/corporation must be committed to citizens first, hire business managers who also put citizens first, set and communicate clear standards, journalists have final say over news, and communicate clear standards to the public. Citizens are skeptical, as previously mentioned, and in order to reconnect people with the news, “journalism must reestablish the allegiance to citizens that the news industry has mistakenly helped to subvert” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 75). Journalists must develop good rapport with their readers, building trust and an expectation of honesty. To uphold this expectation, journalists must maintain a discipline of verification.

In this increasingly corporatized world of media conglomeration, infotainment and opinion journalism that passes as news reporting, “verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction, or art” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 79). With so much information available, journalists tend to spend more time looking for something novel than trying to independently verify news facts, leaving information unverified and likely untrue. Verification is the responsibility of modern journalists. With unverified information polluting the web and the minds and time of citizens, journalists must verify information to put them above the infotainment and opinion journalism. Journalists’ first commitment is to the truth and they must be loyal to citizens above all else, but in order to engage citizens in their pursuit of the truth, journalists must apply transparent and systematic methods of verification. Beyond verifying information, journalists must be able to refrain from revealing any opinion to discredit the truth they report.

Another key responsibility journalists hold in the modern world is an independence from those they cover. This independence is not to be mistaken with neutrality. Journalists often react to objectivity with hypersensitivity, ensuring that each side of every argument is balanced- even if balance is untrue. More important than balance is revealing any potential for conflict of interest. If there is a potential conflict, “it should be revealed, and if the revelation casts one in a clearly compromised position, don’t take the work” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 122). According to Gladstone, there are two issues with independence from faction, one is “the challenge reporters face in confronting a raft of data, confirming it, distilling it, writing it, and yet forming no opinions about it” (Gladstone, 110). The other is “what to do with these opinions, however fluid, once they form” (Gladstone, 110). Gladstone goes on to explain there are rules for these things. Most journalists and reporters are not allowed to participate in or contribute to campaigns. New technology reflects and reinforces political culture with entire cable news channels and websites reporting through and sharing with obvious political prisms. Journalists have a responsibility to remain independent from faction- now more than ever. If journalists are truly objective, “objectivity works to repel the attacks of critics, like a kind of ethical pepper spray” (Gladstone, 102). Kovach and Rosenstiel point out “the question of independence is not limited to ideology” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 131). It is important to remain independent from class, economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. There is a way to be a journalist “without either denying the influence of personal experience or being hostage to it” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 134). This is the ultimate goal with independence from faction- the responsibility of today’s modern journalist. Having an opinion is not a bad thing. Reporting an opinion without truth is.  To remain independent from faction, journalists must be independent in mind, spirit, and practice. This independence is invaluable and may save the journalism industry from being swallowed by modern technology and drown in opinions passing as news reporting.

Journalists today walk a fine line. They must be truthful, loyal, disciplined, and independent in a world filled with dishonesty, fleeting devotion, little self-control, and low levels of individuality. This is their responsibility. This is the way to save journalism and journalistic integrity from the directions it could go with modern technology. Keep journalism true, loyal to citizens first, disciplined to verification, and independent from faction- with these responsibilities upheld, there is hope for journalism’s future.

A Subculture of Foreign Background and Age

I think when I meet them I will understand. I think everything will completely fall together once we shake hands and exchange pleasantries. I think after all of the vague explanations of who they are and how our jobs and lives should cohesively function, something concrete will arise when they arrive to campus just a week before Colorado College begins class in August. They arrive on campus; we shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Simply put, I am wrong. It is now November and I’m only beginning to understand.

Amidst Resident Advisor (RA) training, I learned that, living in a Language House, I have an atypical situation. Every RA is responsible for community building in their respective areas. RAs are also responsible for some disciplinary actions.  We are the “student police” as some call us and the “loving parents” as others give us name. I am the RA of Colorado College’s Russian and German Language Houses, but I am not the only one in charge.

“You’ll work alongside your CPCs,” Residential Life Coordinator Emily Fogg says to me and the two other Language House RAs during RA training this summer.

CPC… I think. Certified Professional Coders? Collaborative Punishment Coordinators? Child Protection Controlers? College Programing Chiefs? Crisis Pregnancy Centers?

Emily sees the gears rolling in my head, “Cultural Program Coordinators,” she clarifies.

Ah, Cultural Program Coordinators. Of course. While I can now stop blindly guessing acronym options, the title Cultural Program Coordinator still means nothing to me and unless you live in one of Colorado College’s six language houses, attend events put on by the language houses, or are heavily involved in a language department, the term Cultural Program Coordinator probably means nothing to you either.

“I didn’t know CPCs existed until I moved into the French House,” said Sophomore Annie Stimson. Many share this sentiment.

“A CP-what?” and “I have no idea what you’re talking about” are other common student responses to any mentions of a Cultural Program Coordinator. Few have heard of their existence, and even those who have cannot be entirely sure of their position.

According to the Colorado College Language department, Cultural Program Coordinators are “staff members who live in a language house with 12-25 students.  In addition to teaching adjunct language courses, CPCs strive to create a sense of community within their houses and provide an opportunity for the students living in the houses to be immersed in the language and culture.  The CPCs plan cultural as well as community-building programs.”

Colorado College has six Language Houses on campus, Russian (Mullett,) German (Max Kade,) French (Haskell,) Spanish (Windom,) Asian (Elf,) and Italian/Arabic (Elbert). Each of these houses is home to 12-25 students and a Cultural Program Coordinator, with the Exception of the Italian/Arabic house, which has both an Italian and Arabic CPC. Each CPC comes directly from the country the house they live in is affiliated with. Katharina Ruchel flew in from Germany to act as the German CPC. Natasha Khan is fresh out of St. Petersburg. Hélène Destouches is back from France for her third year as the French CPC. Priscilla Fernandez came from Spain, Saki Yamaguchi from Japan, Dario Sponchiado from Italy, and Faisal Albalushi from Muscat, Oman. They are Colorado College’s method of importing culture.

“CPCs are facilitators between student culture here and the culture we bring with us,” says Natasha, the Russian CPC.

Katharina, the German CPC, defines her role as “being a role model for students and also trying to act in a cultural way.” She says, “It’s important for me that people have respect- for me, for my job, and for my position in the house.” She wants respect, but not as an interference in friendship.

German house resident Kendall Rock ’15 sees the CPC’s role as “creating a house community.”

What the Language department, the residents and the CPCs themselves fail to include in the Cultural Program Coordinator description is the social grey-zone that accompanies the position. The CPCs range from Katharina at 24 years old to Dario at 34. This age group is otherwise nonexistent on our college campus. The CPCs not only represent a foreign culture, but also a foreign age group- too old to be students, but too young to be faculty. With a job description that doesn’t concretely define them as either, the grey-zone expands.

Katharina is a full-time student and takes a class every block, like every other student. “I see myself as a student with more responsibility, just like [the RAs] are students with more responsibility,” Katharina says. Being older and more mature than most students, professors treat Katharina differently. “They know I am considered as faculty, but I am also a student,” she says.

While Katharina takes classes, other CPCs teach classes. Natasha, 25, teaches three levels of Russian adjuncts (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced) in hour-long sessions twice a week for each level. She also has office hours in the language department.

Being teachers and students, authoritative figures and housemates, older than residents and younger than faculty- Cultural Program Coordinators fall in an awkward place socially. They’re a little too timeworn to be part of the student life on campus, but also too youthful to be entirely independent from it. If they want to interact with people their own age, they only have each other. Fortunately, they get along quite agreeably and spend most of their free time together.

“It is challenging for me to be around students all of the time,” Natasha says, explaining how her work and personal life both include constant student contact. She overcomes the challenge by occasionally getting off of campus and going to Yoga in Colorado Springs with people unaffiliated with Colorado College.

“There are students who are really students to [the CPCs]… but there are some students who are more friends,” Natasha says. She considers any student unaffiliated with the language houses as just a student, but has developed deeper relationships with residents and other foreign exchange students in the Language Houses. She can call these students friends.

You can find Natasha cooking Baklava with her students on any given afternoon, or Priscilla watching Spanish movies with a collection of residents, or Katharina playing pool with other house members. While the CPCs all seem to enjoy daytime activities with their residents and other students, the social divide emanates in the night.

“Parties on Weber… are not fun for me,” Katharina says, recalling her first few weeks in Colorado, finding her feet.  “Kids here have not had a chance to party hard,” she says referring to the high inebriation levels at house parties she and the other CPCs would rather not be involved with.

Instead of engaging in party culture, the CPCs often get together for dinner, drives, faculty concert series, or relaxed evenings with a bottle of wine: their own social niche, independent from the rest of the college world. While students and residents highly praise their CPCs, it’s largely atypical for a student to call a CPC to ‘hang out’ at night.

“Hélène is more of a friend and a fellow resident than an authoritative figure,” says French House resident Annie Stimson. Despite this statement, Annie has never spent casual free time with Hélène at night. Annie has college friends and peers for her college nights. But where does that leave Hélène? It leaves her with the remaining six CPCs in the same position. The CPCs are by no means socially shunned, but simply not socially included.

“You’ll work alongside your CPCs,” Emily Fogg says to me. I think I will understand. I think our roles will all fall together. As a new RA with a new Residential Life Coordinator, and two new Cultural Program Coordinators, no one quite understands the lay of this confusing and tumultuous land. I am an authority figure; Katharina and Natasha are also authority figures. I am a community builder; they are community builders as well. Where does my authority end and theirs begin? Where does my community building finish and theirs commence? How much of our responsibility is a collaborative effort? Our job descriptions are quite similar, with more emphasis on disciplinary actions in mine and more emphasis on cultural events in theirs. How can I, at 19 years of age, have more disciplinary authority than my co-workers at ages 24 and 25? How can we work together without stepping on toes? A foreign relationship to us all.

The position they play is unique, an anomaly among an otherwise homogenous group of 18-23 year old American students. Collectively, the CPCs represent seven different countries and span ten years in age. Seven different countries that may otherwise go unrepresented; ten years of age that may otherwise be absent from Colorado College’s campus. There is an overwhelming unfamiliarity of these Cultural program Coordinators on campus because they represent an unknown subculture of foreign background and age. Hard-pressed to find a social situation on campus that matches their double-edged role as faculty and students, the Cultural Program Coordinators remain an overlooked entity and cultural facet stagnant from student discovery and recognition.

Colorado College’s Seven Cultural Program Coordinators and Three Language House RAs after a successful fall BBQ.

 

Notes: Influencing Machine

Disclosure

  • Phoniness is far more damaging than bias
  • Columnists, talk show hosts, and bloggers have biased audiences (the biased communities they help create) so it’s okay they tend to be extremely opinionated
  • “Personal information about reporters is irrelevant, until they run afoul of those views, then it becomes ammunition”
  • Reporters should disclose potential conflicts of interest, sources, & methods
  • Journalists need to avoid encouraging the assumption of bias and distorted facts

The Matrix in Me

  • Conscious choice is an illusion
  • Raises questions about the existence of free will
  • Took the Implicit Association Test… apparently I’m slightly racist. I feel as though the test is inherently flawed in it’s ordering though, so I’m not totally buying it.
  • “If a statement is repeated often enough, people will believe it”
  • “Photosophistication” Anyone can manipulate or even fabricate a photo.
  • Rise in skepticism- a rise I am very much a part of

Hitched

I have it! Over the summer, I worked with a wedding photographer. I was an unattached observer to weekend after weekend of arguably the most important night of different people’s lives. I did a lot of observing at these events and wedding after wedding I wondered what marriage meant, why weddings are the phenomenon they’ve become. Why anyone paid to have a 19 year old aspiring photographer help capture their most precious moments. Why are they precious moments? What is a wedding but a means of vaguely related family members to drink and laugh and dance. I want to look at weddings, and marriage as an institution for my feature.

Photo by Veronica Spann

Feature Progress.

Stumped. Like the remnants of a chopped down tree. Unable to grow, unable to move.

I’m having the hardest time deciding what to use for a feature story. It’s too late to not have an idea, but I’m forcing myself to think too hard about this. It’s amazing how all I can think about is thinking about an idea, but I can still come up with no luck. It’s been two days at the drawing board with nowhere for my pen to go.

Ideas I’ve played with:

  • CC Farm
  • The homeless man who spends all of his time in the library reading

Really, I’ve got nothing & I’m beginning to panic. The other article ideas really just fell in my lap. This one is tough. 

Notes: Tom Wolfe

The Feature Game

  • Historical Aspect
  • Feature writers tried to hone their skills in the newsroom to someday make a novel
  • Artificial competitiveness
  • Journalism was just a step in becoming a novelist

Like a Novel

  • Eclectic style
  • Takes it upon himself for people to read New York
  • Does weird things in hopes people will pay attention a little longer
  • Plays with point-of-view
  • With this style of writing, you need to be cemented in truth

Tom Wolfe’s Revenge

  • Creative Nonfiction – narrative form, heavy emphasis on dialogue, scene setting, slice-of-life detail
  • Renewed interest in narrative
  • concerns with accuracy and sourcing (potential for abuse)
  • Wolfe brought American studies outlook to Journalism
  • “flashy metaphors” vs. “verifiable facts & legitimate news”
  • Reporter, not creator- Journalist not story-teller
  • Can’t we be both?
  • Bring Ordinary to Life

Notes: Influencing Machine

Here’s some catch-up! I’ve been a bit too wrapped up in my profile piece & haven’t kept up with notes. Apologies.

Bias:

  • Commercial Bias- when news is made simply to be new
  • Bad News Bias- make the news worse than it is, people read that
  • Status-quo Bias- people want to stay the same
  • Access Bias- because someone gave you access to something
  • Visual Bias- Pictures make things more interesting
  • Narrative Bias- put endings on stories that don’t have endings

War

  • Censorship
  • People are fueled by patriotism
  • The government & press are against each other when the country is at war
  • “We see where the missiles are fired, but not where they land”
  • Government suppresses press
  • Objectivity disappears when you’re a part of war

Objectivity:

  • Objectivity is in the method, not in the result of the method
  • Donut: In the donut hole is the sphere of consensus, surrounded by controversy & anything outside of that is deviant
  • Two major challenges: trying not to form opinions & then deciding what to do with those opinions when they form

 

Raising Artist’s Block Immunity: Heather Oelklaus

So you’re creative. Or maybe you’re not. Either way, you do create things- pieces of writing; pieces of art, routes, plans, ideas, solutions- but you’re stumped. Writer’s block, artist’s block, any block. We’ve all experienced the feeling- the feeling of putting pen to paper without anywhere for it to go, the feeling of opening your mouth in hope words will fall out, the feeling of not knowing where to begin. You’re nodding, or at least understanding. This is normal.

What if you met someone who shook her head the other way? Someone who never, in her 25 years as an artist, experienced an artist’s block. What if you met Heather Oelklaus?

Heather is a practicing artist, Colorado College’s Print Workshop Supervisor, an Iowan, a wife, and a mother. She utilizes traditional black and white photography, cameraless photography, Daguerreotypes, wet plate collodion, and Polaroid manipulation. She has exhibited her work in New York, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, California, North Carolina, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Kansas, and South Dakota. How has this Iowa-raised, Kansas City Art Institute-taught artist gone her entire artistic career without a block, without taking a break, without getting burnt out?

After experiencing Heather in her home, her creative space, the answer is evident. A series of principles emerges from her words, her work, and her home. Heather found the perfect artistic recipe to ascribe to in order to keep a constant creative flow. The ingredients are as follows:

Take Everything as Raw Material: Hand any sane person leftover lunchmeat, stranger’s trophies, braille books teaching Industrial Arts, and a body bag and these items all go straight to the trash. The trash is where these things inherently belong. Throwing away old lunchmeat is normal. That is, unless you’re Heather Oelklaus. Instead of being tossed, under Heather’s jurisdiction this rubbish ends up framed and in galleries nation-wide. Heather has an entire ‘Leftover’ series comprised of Lumen prints, a cameraless process that dates back to the 1840’s. Organic material (like old spaghetti) is placed on light-sensitive black and white photographic paper and then exposed to UV light for an hour or as long as many months. The final image is an impression left behind by the material’s moisture. Artists often use different plants for this photogenic drawing process, but Heather twists the process to accommodate the rotting contents of her fridge. So look in your fridge, ignore the odor, and let the spaghetti turn to yarn and the ketchup to paint.  Everything is raw material. Heather treats it as such.

Two Lumen Prints from Heather’s ‘Leftover’ series.

If you have a sink full of dishes, photograph it: Heather held up a beautiful print of a dirty kitchen sink. She said “I had a sink full of dishes, so I photographed it.” Art is all about transformation, making something old new or something mundane glorious. Last Sunday, Heather made a successful print using a school bus-painted truck (“Little Miss Sunshine”) as a pinhole camera. She turns things into what they’re never supposed to be. That truck was never meant to be an enormous camera. But it could be. Daguerreotypes, the first commercially successful photographic process, only shoot civil war reenactments and old-time portraits. But they can shoot anything. Heather is shooting a new series titled “Beloved” with daguerreotypes. Because the method is very demanding, people historically shot beloved subjects. Heather brought the ancient process into the modern world and decided to shoot fast food signs- the modern beloved.

Collect- anything and everything that takes your fancy: You can find vintage science kits, stacks of paper dolls, ancient photo albums, and braille books teaching Industrial Arts on a single shelf of “Heather’s School of Modern Photography”.  Also known as her basement.

“I don’t know what to do with these, but I had to save them from the dumpster” Heather said, holding the books of braille.

Three feet to the right of this shelf lives another collection- Heather’s toy camera collection: a Barbie doll with a lens above her bust and a USB tail, a box of mac n’ cheese, McDonald’s French fries, a transformer- all functioning photo-makers.

Just one of many shelves of Heather’s toy cameras. (Photo by Veronica Spann)

“Cameras are like accessories, you’ve got to match the camera with the project you’re doing,” Heather said.

While Heather’s opportunistic nature allows her to use anything available, these frivolous collections certainly don’t hurt in remaining immune from the artist’s block.

Keep Your Resources Handy: You have the perfect idea, now if only you could find that thing. You know the thing I’m talking about- the one that is a crucial piece to the project, but just doesn’t seem to exist. The thing you know you have… somewhere. Keep that thing handy. Maybe your basement won’t have a name of it’s own, but you will need a space to work. A space filled with all the things you need to be the artist you are.

If you’re Heather, you’ll have already transformed the basement kitchen into a dark room and the bedroom into a studio. More importantly, you’ll have sense to all of the seemingly senseless items, collections, works, and tools. You’ll have an organization method where everything has a home. You’ll have an extensive labeling system where nothing can fall by the wayside. Each drawer titled “polaroid,” “in progress,” or “long and skinny.” Most importantly, you’ll have what Heather calls “the most beautiful sight in the world-“ an entire fridge full of film. Whatever your system, you’ll know where things are, removing one hindering factor, bringing you one step closer to a block-less career.

Heather’s fridge full of film- “The most beautiful sight in the world.” (Photos by Veronica Spann)

Don’t Put Yourself in a Box: Heather is a fine art photographer, but to Heather, “A beautiful photograph can be with a camera, without a camera, with any kind of camera.”

She doesn’t place limits on what she can and cannot do. As soon as you place restraints on what you are and are not allowed to do as a photographer, an architect, a scientist, a teacher- you will inevitably hit those limits, creating a block. Heather Oelklaus is the only photographer I know who has to worry about PETA getting on her case. She made Lumen prints (the same camrealess process as her ‘Leftover’ series) of a dead raccoon. Something novel.

Heather’s Lumen Prints of a dead raccoon. (Photos by Veronica Spann)

Heather uses toy cameras, old cameras, new cameras, enormous truck cameras, and sometimes she uses no camera at all. She has not put herself or her practices in a box; anything is fair game.

Praise Yourself: Go ahead. Think of something you’ve made- a piece of art, a friendship-anything- think of it and be proud. The walls of Heather’s home are tastefully cluttered. Photographs in every place photographs could go, spaced out just enough to not feel cluttered. Instead of hanging the work of those she admires, Heather hangs her own work. Pieces of her ‘Long and Skinny’ series proudly line a main floor hallway. If you can be proud of your work, it will feel more worthwhile and you’ll be more likely to push through the blocks, or ignore them entirely.

Two pieces from Heather’s Long and Skinny series.

Get off the Couch:

When asked what advice she would give, Heather said, “You cannot make art sitting on the couch.”

Waiting for inspiration is a romantic idea Heather won’t buy. Be resourceful. Be opportunistic. Stop thinking, get up from the couch, and start making. Then never ever stop. Even if she wanted to, Heather couldn’t stop. If she stops, she might just go crazy.

“I used to tell people I have all these ideas in my head and if they don’t get out, it kind of drives you a little crazy- if you don’t get them out, you can’t make room for new ideas… I used to say that, but it just made me seem bizarre.”

Heather Oelklaus finds the perfect means of removing all constraints in the way of artistic flow. She takes everything as raw material; if she has a sink full of dishes, she photographs it; she collects anything and everything that takes her fancy; she keeps her resources handy; she refuses to put herself or her art in a box; she praises herself; she gets off the couch; most importantly, she gives.  As I left Heather’s home after taking hours of her weekend time and hospitality, Heather gave me a stunning print.

“Camera Karma” she said, and left it at that, subtly expecting something brilliant to show up on her doorstep. Something to continue her 25-year streak of artist block immunity.

 

 

Engagement & Relevance:

“Journalists must make the significant interesting and relevant” (187)

  • Storytelling and information are not contradictory
  • Journalism is storytelling with a purpose
    1. Finding information people need to live their lives
    2. Make the info meaningful, engaging & relative

    -       Why do people need to know about Heather Oelklaus to live their lives?

    -       How can I make her relative?

    -       This is exactly what I’m struggling with in my profile

  • Infotainment–> gives people what they want, but destroys news organization’s authority to deliver more serious news/ drives away people who want it
  • Avoid being on the nose
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Connect to larger themes
  • Find Metaphor
  • Use the Power of the Internet (slideshows, audio, video, etc.)

Movie Review: Shattered Glass

Shattered Glass is a brilliant portrayal of the ethics of fact-checking and verification in professional journalism- something Kovach and Rosensteil expand on extensively.

What was most amazing to me was how easily everyone bought into Glass’ fabrications. Because he seemed so innocent, and because his stories seemed too real, too bizzarre to fake- nobody second-guessed his lies. I don’t understand how there could have been such blatant mishaps in verification of dozens of stories. I see how one or two can slip through, but with truth at the utmost importance in journalism- how could so many lies pass? This revealing movie raises skepticism of any journalism. If the New Republic published fabrication after fabrication, why should anyone believe in any journalism? This kind of breech in journalism ethics creates the skepticism inherent in many and arguably most readers. Few people take news as an absolute truth.