“March For Our Lives” For All Ages

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On March 9th, while on a day trip to New York City sponsored CCSU’s Center for International Education, our arrival around noon turned out to be during the same time as the scheduled “March For our Live” protests for gun reform/ school safety. that were taking place in cities across the nation New York was home to the second largest demonstration, only behind the one held in DC.

Seemingly endless waves of protesters marched down 6th Avenue and its surroundings. What struck me the most however, was the variety of ages I saw among the demonstrators. While these rallies had been sparked by youth, and the speakers had in DC and other cities had featured many students, I saw a large turnout of post students, including many seniors in the crowd. With the constant images of youth in the media, you would think only young people are marching, but many older people are supportive and just enthusiastic. There were some members with the now famed ‘pussy hats’, symbol of the “Women’s March”, worn by both older females, as well as males.

“I know I’m here because we are at a point in the country where people’s voices have to be heard, and when people stand up and say violence being normal is unacceptable and I am moved to tears by the power of young people who are standing in the streets”, said Helen Churko, holding a sign that said “Ban Assault Weapons, Illegal Guns Across State Lines-Big Clips”.

There were, however, young people as well, of course. High Schooler Shale Dolan was in attendance with her mom, coming from New Jersey. “You’re seeing a lot more young people becoming activists and I think it’s going to show when they can vote in the midterm and presidential elections.”

Among the youngest members in the March was a 3rd grader, holding up a sign showing his aspirations and ending with “I am Marching for my future”.

In these times of polarization, it seems the gun debate is turning into a issue between age. In many mainstream media, high schoolers seem often pitted against older conservatives who cry out against “kids” telling adults what to do.  But through these different individuals in the march, it shows that these gun shootings have transcended those of all ages, not just adolescents. Whether its first graders in Newtown, country music followers in Las Vegas or club attendees in Orlando, gun violence doesn’t discriminate and can affect everyone, not just a few.

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Olympics of Peace? If Moon Gets Others to Play Nice

The 23rd Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea was supposed to be a good feel story. One of a country that has gone from being among the world’s poorest to one of the world’s most technologically advanced. Instead, like it so often is, it’s become overshadowed by its unique problem: North Korea.

Long ago has been forgotten on ho South Korea is the first country in the world to have 5G internet access as well as having the highest internet penetration in the world; everything has focused on their nuke armed neighbor, which nominated world headlines throughout 2017.

Yet, since the announcement of Kim Jong Un that the North would be open to sending a delegation to the games, much of the few has turned to hope. And perhaps no one has been as appeased as South Korea’s left of center President, Moon Jae In.

Moon’s election as president of the world’s 11th largest economy in 2017 might go down as the most underrated story of 2017. Since taking office in April of last year, South Korea has increasingly differentiated itself from both the polices of its main ally, the US, as well as its frenemy, Japan.

While both the conservative ruling governments of the US, led by Donald Trump of the Republican Party, and Japan’s, lead by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Party (Liberal as in free market, not socially), have taken a hardcore stance against the North, threatening sanctions and even military might. The highlight of both Trump’s and Abe’s speeches’ in the United Nations last September was North Korea, with Trump even treating to “destroy North Korea” if left with no other option. Moon, meanwhile gave a lighter speech, insisting how he wants the North’s leadership to come to the “right side of history”.

Even after the numerous missile launches, Moon reacted with less passion and urgency that his allies. Moon would be a top contender for the Nobel Prize.

After the last two Olympics were held in Russia and Brazil respectively, two countries were issues like corruption, crime and poverty often dominated the headlines, South Korea’s turn seemed like a positive one. Among the world’s safest countries and where income inequality is rather moderate, South Korea was seemingly going to avoid the controversies of overspending or building stadiums instead of helping the poor. Yet this nation has a unique problem and it was showcased all over the world last year in the form of North Korea. 2017 was the year of the highest nuclear tension since the Cold War. With that, gone from the spotlight were the successes of “The Miracle on the Hun”, of a country that in fifty years now has to worry more about video game addiction than it has for starvation.

 

 

 

 

 

Welles Village-Story

Tucked in the northern tip of affluent Glastonbury, lies a low-income community known as Welles Village. The Village is home to 199 single and double apartments residences for those who have incomes of less than $44,650*. According to City-Data.com, the average household income in Glastonbury in 2015 was $110,641. Each applicant needs an in person interview.* Each unit contains a refrigerator, a washer and a dryer hook ups.*  This project is administered by the Housing Authority of the Town of Glastonbury which was formed in 1943. The administrative offices are located in a long white building in 25 Risley Road, Glastonbury. Complete with a towering flag pole and small tower sticking out from its center, 25 Risley Road appears like a building wanting attention. The Village is surrounded by forest and is in close proximity to Naubuc Elementary School and the downtown area. Rents are income based.

Through the help of a family friend, Abel Periche, a long time resident of the community, I was able to get in contact with several of Welles Villages’ contacts.

Resident Mie Lao, mother to two sons, initially came to Welles Village after she was unable to find a job. She and her husband, who was employed, decided to stay in Welles Village so Mie could have more time to find employment. She said she planned to stay in her current residence for five more years so she can buy a house. She said there was a lot for residents to foster a sense of community, particularly among the young. Her youngest son, after ending his school day at Naubuc, goes to an after-school program on Wednesdays in the administrative building where he participates in activities such as making crafts or learning computer skills. Lao, a native speaker of Mandarin, goes to the administrative building as well to take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes which facilitates her interaction with others, as she said that was the language barrier was the largest obstacle preventing her from being hired.

Estefania Gonzalez was another mother in the neighborhood. Having two bustling kids, she described the neighborhood in positive light with “nice kids”. Living with her two children, her husband and mother, she also hopes to buy a house one day. She suggested more activities for the kids.

Gustavo Herrera, a father of three noted the strong sense of community. “We all try to protect each other, and when I’m out, I tell my neighbor to look out for my car, I feel secure”. Despite those statements, as well as stating that police regularly patrol the area, Herrera did note so small inconveniences, such as having objects left in the yard “disappear’ sometimes. Herrera suggested that installing video cameras would be a good idea. Herrera, who was born in Peru, loves the global feel of the community, saying he has friends from countries as diverse as China, India and Russia, making local barbeques feel like a mass gathering of cultures. Herrera, previously a resident of Hartford, first found out about the community after his landlord told him it was a good place for education.  “Out of  10 I heard this place was a 10″, Herrera said of education. With his oldest daughter being four at the time, Herrera decided to visit the administrative building to fill out the application. While they initially told him he was to be in the waiting list of one year, they called him after only 20 days, which he described as lucky. Now a decade later and with his eldest in high school, Herrera says he has no regrets in moving here. However, he stated that he hopes this isn’t his final residence.  “I don’t want to stay here forever, I want to buy a house!” However, he says he remains fond of the Housing Authority’s overall mission,“Welles Village is a great idea because it helps a lot of communities”.

Executive Director Neil Griffin said that Welles Village was originally designed to house returning veterans from World War Two. In the 1970s, the property ceased being owned solely the Housing Authority and was started being also administered by The US Department of Housing and Development (HUD). With many of the residents in Welles Village being immigrants, HUD requires people with limited English proficiency, to have such services such as a translator to help facilitate communication. Griffin also talked about the close relations between the Housing Authority with the separate Town of Glastonbury. The Town of Glastonbury frequently has programs in the Risley Road building, such as after school programs administered by Glastonbury Youth and Family Services. Griffin sees Welles Village as important as it gives an opportunity for many families to move to a great town. “A lot of people I’ve talked to in the community, that are perhaps a generation older than me, this is where they first lived with their children, and then they moved on to buy homes in the community.”

Old photographs stored inside the administrative building show Welles Village in its beginning in the 1940s. Much wider spaces separated the newly constructed dwellings along newly planted grass. 25 Risley Road had a slide at its backyard, now generators stand in its place. One thing that haven’t changed however, were bicycles. The only vehicle evident in any of the photos was a lone bicycle, even today, bicycles are a more common sight than cars as you walk past Welles Village.

In addition to Welles Village, Griffin said the Housing Authority manages 460 units at 4 different sites across Glastonbury. While all of the Welles Village units are designed for families while another site, Center Village is focused on housing the elderly. There are currently 683 residents living among the 412 units across the four properties. The Housing Authority host a monthly meeting that’s open to the public on the third Wednesday of each month at 5:45.*

*From the Housing Authority of the Town of Glastonbury website

Mencher Chapter 27

Melvin Mencher’s last chapter was dedicated to the Morality of Journalism. News organizations and reporters have different codes of morality. When it comes to news organizations, its about laws, such as being against paralyzing and eliminating conflicts of interest. Reporters go by a moral code of rules that is unwritten, but important nevertheless. It is to look out for the weak and check any potential abuses by the powerful.

A powerful example of this is the case of Geidel, an inmate of 60 years. Despite wanting to remain invisible to the world, a reporter, Kevin Krajick who interviewed him decided to publish the story on him. Krajick saw the story as significant as it showed extradorinaiy abuse of power, as someone like Geidel would normally have been let off decades ago.

Krajick thought however, that for the story to stay morally justified, it couldn’t be flamboyant. In contrast to other past articles that focused on how Geidel was in the Guinness Book of World Records, Krajick wrote a heartfelt  article named “Forget Me”.

Of course, it’s difficult of journalists to point to something as being universally bad or good. Industrial plants for example, can be seen as evil due to their poisoning of the environment, but due to the jibs they provide, factory workers would venomously oppose their closure. A journalist could have communal life as a guide to what’s right, that stresses freedom, tolerance and fairness. Often times, journalists have to see whether an incident brings to light a bigger problem. For example, talking about a person’s death in graphic detail could raise awareness of that specific crime. However, if you are covering an election, and knows a candidate has done something bad, such as cheating on her wife, but not relating to his job, you could argue it shouldn’t be reported.

The so called muckrakers were those who serve as the nation’s voice of conscious.

News Literacy

We currently live in a world of media over-consumption. However, that fact is without benefit if we don’t know how to consume it. Journalism professor Howard Schneider, from Stoney Brook University, decided to create the nation’s first New Literacy course in 2009. A lot of this motivation came from the inaccurate information sprouting from the then current H1N1 crisis.

A survey at the beginning of the semester found most of the students seemed ill informed about the news, lacking severe knowledge in news–makers and how an event has a much larger impact as a whole. Therefore many professors thought the students needed more media. It would therefore seem that the students’ first assignment first assignment would be easy: a media blackout of 48 hours. was  to go 48 hours without any news. Students would be prohibited from looking at any news for two days, from political news to the weather. It was found that several students said that assignment was among the hardest things they ever had to do. Even people who never followed the news had developed a carving to flip open a newspaper. It seems the students ween’t exposed to too much media, but to an overload of it.

It also seemed that there was a major correlations among all adults in the U.S. is a lower trust of the media. It was also noted that many saw something as sloppy journalism when it didn’t correlate with their own views. This is a common occurrence I frequently encounter. People often call something ‘fake news’ not because of the quality of the journalism but if it agrees with their own views or not. Among a pro-Democrat or pro-Republican group for example, they each see many political stories as having an agenda to say one side is better. Unfortunately, it seemed the more educated someone was on an issue, the more likely they were to spot a ‘bias’. When taking an “Implicit Bias Test” created by the Harvard and a few other universities, many were shocked by their supposed bias, many rejecting the results. Some however, realized that many of of their bias were probably true, for example, how someone from a ethnic minority might favor whites over their own group if they’ve mostly grown up among whites.

Schneider tried to teach his students what ‘real’ journalism was and how to differentiate from other texts such as entertainment and propaganda. The many media outlets that often spread viral and scandalous information is often false, hurting the reputation or other journalists. He stated that the goal of journalism is to inform and empower its readers. The class also talked about VIA: verification, identification and accountability. It any article lack one or more o those, it wasn’t journalism.

The Courts

According to Mencher, there are two types of courts, a civil law that mostly concerns money ans criminal law which concerns arrest. The key difference is that while a civil court involves the likelihood of the defendant’s liability, criminal court is based off the guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. During the trial and pretrial, a journalist should have a checklist of what to write about, including some straightforward ones like the identification of person or organization filling action, to more in depth ones like could the suit lead to a landmark decision? Court decisions have unfortunately been impacted by suspicious circumstances, like whose in the jury. For example, in the O.J. Simpson case,  in which the suspect was found not guilty, the jury was made of mostly black woman after Simpson’s attorneys found that that demographic was the most likely to see him as innocent. Journalists show also take morality into account n identifying victims, as they are often from the most vulnerable groups, such as the young and the poor. Journalists should also be cautious as how circumstances drastically change within a few days. An example given in the book is how a story of a parent praying for her missing kid to be found could turn into a story of a parent being arrested for the murder of his or her own child. Colleague campuses are required by federal law to release data accessible to the public on crimes before or on October first of every year.

The Police Beat

According to Melvin Mencher, if your a reporter on the police beat, the the areas you cover are crime, accidents, fires, departmental activity, departmental integrity and other law enforcement agencies. In the U.S., there has been a decrease in crime overall, probably due to the implementation of the “Disorder Theory”. This means officers pay attention to crimes even if minor, like teenagers loitering or low music. Officers frequently find that these minor offenders often have arms and or are wanted for past offenses.

Diana Sugg of “The Sacramento Bee” describes a daily day in her job covering the police beat. She would start off by visiting the sheriff’s station followed by the police station. She would flip through up to 200 reports a day, focusing on the most interesting stories. For example, a 45 year old teacher murder often gets more attention than if the murder was a 45 year old unemployed man. She then goes to the newsroom to see her editor to determine which stories are worth pursuing. While she takes a break, if anything is to happen, she rushes to the scene of the incident. While on the scene, she finds that neighbors are often the best sources. Your especially lucky if you find a busybody who has the scope on all her neighbors. While the quotes would have to be checked over, there great to have.

Journalists should take cautions in many occurrences, such as identifying a suspect. There have been many cases when a eye witness is taken into custody to police to obtain information, only for a reporter to say that they are the probable perpetrator.

Reflection on Dr. V

The controversial 2014 Grantland story by Caleb Hannan on Dr. V. shows just how much a news piece can be life or death. The article discussed how the inventor of arguably the most voluntary golf putter ever was in fact a con who had lied about her credentials, and was transgender.  Dr. V., knowing of the paper’s imminent release, ended up committing suicide, a common tragedy among the trans community. Despite her death, Grantland’s chief editor Bill Simmons still decided to run a revised story, one complete with Dr. V’s death.

I felt I could really relate to the piece, concerning how being a journalists can easily lead to one being tangled in a mess of advisories and tragedy. It also connects to how a writer always has to think about the potential thoughts of it audience. I have now been in situations where something I’ve written has been denied publication because it has been seen as not been worth the potential backlash. While I’m personally against the decision, I understand where the editor is coming from.

A news organization always has to think of its audience, even if it causes a writer to rewrite their thoughts. For example, while Hannan did not want to portray people in the trans community in an adversarial manner, his wording of “a chill went down my spine”, was seriously seen as such offensive to many. However, a newspaper also have to accept backlash  if the issue is important enough, as with the Boston Globe uncovering the church sex scandal. Even though the majority of Globe readers were Catholic, the editors decided that the need for people to know what was going on overrode the potential anger  reader would have over their religious leaders being characterized as criminals.  Also, as with the McDonald’s coffee story, what a journalist reports can have dire consequences.  Stella Lieback endured years of torment and ridicule due to journalists giving an unfair account of how she burned herself with coffee.

We live in an age when anyone, thanks to the internet, can assess articles that aren’t targeted to them. While in the past, almost all the readers of the “Dr.V” would be older white men, many female and younger readers could also access it online and tell their own opinions.  The Grantland editors and writers did not contact any trans gender expert probably do to how rarely they felt they would deal with that issue. The sports world always deals with social issues, but not much has been written about the LGBT issues until recently. The backlash was a wake-up call to news organizations everywhere they they need to be more in touch with marginalized groups.

 

Superman and Spiderman

Daniel Synder of “The Atlantic” and Sam Kirkland of “Poynter” write on how both Super-Man and Spiderman undermine the profession of journalism. While both costumed characters are portrayed in positive light for their crime-fighting exploits, they’re common disrespect for journalist rules such as committing fraud are consistenly downplayed. While I believe that both supers are being unethical in their reporting, I believe both their creators had the intention of portraying journalists in positive light by equating journalists as the equivalent of crime fighting in the real world.