Exploring One’s Roots

Alonso: Hello my name is Alonso Velasquez. I will be interviewing Tijana Blazevic.
Alonso: Where were you born?
Tijana: I was born in Hamburg, Germany.
Alonso: But what is your ethnicity?
Tijana: I’m Croatian, but I come from Bosnia originally.
Alonso: And what is the reason for your family moving here, to the United States.
Tijana: My parents had to get out of Bosnia because of the Bosnian and Serbian war that was going on at that time.
Alonso:What are some of the major differences between your family and American society.
Tijana:I feel that my family since they come from such a small town, they’re a lot more family orientated than people, say any American friends I have; they are family-orientated but not in the same way that I am, so I feel that we value things a lot differently.
Alonso: What language do you speak at home? English or do you speak a combination of English and Bosnian, or just Bosnian?
Tijana:I speak a combination of both English and Bosnian. Usually Bosnian with my parents and English with my siblings.
Alonso: How often do you go back to Bosnia?
Tijana: Either every other summer or every two summer.
Alonso:How do you feel about some of your experiences over there
Tijana: It’s really different because they all live on farmland and here everyone lives so much closer. Just like the things they do for fun compared to what we do for fun (is different).
Alonso: What are the names of your parent’s former dwellings?
Tijana: What do you mean?
Alonso: What are the name of the places where your parents used to live?
Tijana:My dad came from a town called, I believe Dragocaj, in Bosnia and then my mom came from Banjaluka in Bosnia, and its two very different things. Banjaluka is a city and Dragocaj, it’s farmland.
Alonso: You mentioned siblings, how many siblings do you have?
Tijana: I have two, I have an eleven year old brother and a fourteen year old sister.
Alonso: And both of them were born in the U.S.?
Tijana: Yeah, they’re both born here.
Alonso: Aside from your parents and siblings, do you have relatives living in the U.S.
Tijana: I have an aunt and uncle, and then 2 cousins, but besides that everyone else lives across seas.
Alonso:And they both live close to you, in Wethersfield/
Tijana:Yup, in Wethersfield.
Alonso: But you said that they might be planning on moving back to Bosnia, in the future.
Tijana:Yeah, after I graduate, and after both of my siblings graduate college too, and and when we’re stable on our own, they’re planning on going back.
Alonso:You think it’s because it’s because they have some difficulties in adjusting to the U.S.?
Tijana: I think it was an issue before, because I know when I was younger, my dad also talked of wanting to move back, but then as he realized, the older we got, he really can’t move us back, at such an older age, but I think it’s more wanting to to be with family and stuff, and missing out on family stuff that he can’t attend, and then the same with my mom.
Alonso: Now, Bosnia used to be part of the Soviet block.
Tijana: Yeah.
Alonso: So have your parents said anything about how much is changed over the past twenty years or so.
Tijana: oh yeah, my parents all the time talk about how it’s different, and how a lot of the usual people that used to live there, that they don’t live there. They all, they weren’t forced to move out but just with the moving in of people and the different presidents, and stuff, that served and everything it’s been very different. Everything’s been starting to go back to normal, but there’s still a lot of difference that they wish could see change.
Alonso: Can you explain more about the demographics. The changing demographics. For example, who used to live there before versus who lives there now.
Tijana: Before, it was a mix of Bosnian people and Croatian people, like Christian, Catholic and Muslims. But now, after the war, a lot of Serbians were forced to move in, so there’s a lot of Orthodox, there’s mostly Muslims, there’s not really a lot of Christians anymore.
Alonso: Do you think that overall, would you like to live in the U.S. for your whole life.
Tijana: Yeah, I think the economy here is a lot better, that my chances of getting a job is a lot better, because I’m sure, if I went to Croatia, or if I went back to Bosnia and attended a college, I feel like I would have a harder time there finding a job, raising a family, and be stable.
Alonso: Have you seen the people, your age in Bosnia, how their situation is similar or different to yours?
Tijana:In Bosnia, and in Croatia, the high school system sets you up for a job later on, or at least it tries to because, in high school, you basically have a major and it’s what you focus on all 4 years. And then a really small percentage of those people go to college later on.
Alonso: Alright, thank you very much.


Tools of the Trade

According to Melvin Mencher, in today’s rapidly expanding, technology-driven world, journalists need a host of tools, both physical and virtual, to maximize their reach. Many times, journalists should take matters into their own hands, such as when there is no database for something, they can create one themselves. The Charlotte Observer did a database for people who had died due to auto-racing incidents.

Journalists need to have an array of equipment including a digital  camera, a laptop computer with “go-anywhere” wi-fi, a digital audio recorder, a GPS, a digital cell phone, a flash drive and a satellite telephone. Journalists should also have various texts and maps to help strengthen efficiency. These texts should include The World Almanac and Book of Facts, Barlett’s Familiar Quotation, National Five-Digit Zip Code, Post Office Directory, an encyclopedia, state and local history books and local maps.

University of North Carolina professor Philip Meyer says that in addition to a journalist being a wordsmith, they also need to be “a database manager, a data processor, and a data analyst.” Several  reliable websites have been formed for journalists to start off their research. These websites include PowerReporting.com and Reporter’s Desktop.  While journalists can search up topics in Google, it should be seen as a last resort, with reliable databases being used first. There are also several sites where journalists can find experts on a particular topic, like ProfNet and Yearbook of Experts. One should be warned however, that some people may fake their expertise. A web page’s doman name could say a lot about their reliability. According to Stephen Miller of the New York Times, sites that end in .gov are the most reliable, followed by .edu and .org.

Mencher states that a good reporter have a ‘virtual beat’, a hotbed of commonly used web sites. Journalists should also sign up to get the press releases of several groups and organizations to see an explosion of news in their inboxes. Reporters can also sign up for Google Alert to get alerts if a site writes about a key word.

Journslists can use a variety of Web 2.0 tools, like social media, Wikipedia, blogs and YouTube. Twitter in particular is useful when reporting breaking news.However, as anyone can edit and upload content in these sites, they often contain misinformation.Computers can are useful in organizing and formation, such as listing them alphabetically or by rank order. They are good for comparing two sets of lists and you can also place info on spreadsheets.

Journalists must also be able to do simple math, such as knowing that 2/3 is larger than 3/10.


Goal is the Heart

The main goal of Al Tompkin’s “Aim for the Heart”, is to teach readers how to tell great stories that will connect to viewer’s hearts. Tompkins writes that people naturally prefer storytelling as opposed to ‘just the facts’. Even in 20 second segment, there should be a main character, tension and resolution.

Tompkins notes that “Great writing is a process of selecting, not compressing, what goes into our stories.” In other words, we should only write what’s relevant to the story’s focus. Each story should be able to be summarized in 3 words (excluding words like ‘the’ or ‘an’). For example, when Tompkins was interviewing a woman, Marla, waiting, among many military officers families, for her husband to return from Somalia, Tompkins wrote the headline as “Marla awaits husbands”, as it gives the story a more personal feel instead of just saying that soldiers were returning home. He also wanted the report to be a mix of speech and visials, for example he didn’t talk about how the wife was kissing his returned husband.

For viewers to not lose interest, newscasters should use ‘gold coin moments’ to reward the viewers to staying tuned in. Tompkins writes of his experience when a well known newscaster told him to surprise him. Unless there are surprises, reporter Boyd Huppert once said viewers won’t “…walk all the way to the end of the trail.”

NBC’s news correspondent Bob Dotson says that every story should have the elements of ‘hey, you, see and so’. The ‘Hey’ is to get the viewer’s attention, the ‘you’ is so the viewer knows why they should care, the ‘see’ is presenting the 2 or 3 facts no body knows about the story and the ‘why’ confirms the main focus of the story. One of Dotson’s strategies is that he finds the ‘see’ and ‘so’ before moving onto the ‘hey and you’.

In terms of ending a story, avoid giving a quote as it gives whoever’s saying it an upper hand in an argument. It’s usually best to end with a narration. CBS’s Byron Pitts ended his newscast on 9/11 by talking about his own experience when the towers collapsed.

Kennedy’s “Mindless of Violence”

In a press conference following Martin Luther King’s assassination, senator Robert Kennedy spoke about the “Meaningless of Violence”. He stated that today was “not a day for politics”. He describes violence as being a menace to the U.S. for everyone, not just concerning any one race, age or gender. Kennedy claimed that no violence has never stopped any martyr cause or ever righted any civil disorders. He described a sniper as a coward instead of  a hero. He also called out mobs as being madness instead of representing the voice of the people.

Kennedy continued by saying the ways in how society allows and even supports violence. He critiqued people’s acceptance of violence, such as violence in movies and television which is passed off as violence, as well as our ignorance to violence aboard. Kennedy also stated how easy it easy for people “of any sanity” to obtain ammunition. He also mentioned how the many Americans who preach nonviolence aboard are often silent domestically.

Violence, according to Kennedy, is the destructive force that leaves scapegoats, whether it be children starving or schools without books.

Kennedy took a swipe at racism stating that “when you teach a man to hate his brother, you learn to confront them as enemies.” He argued that people, regardless of race seek the same goals and have more similarities than differences.

Kennedy ended on a positive note, saying that together, we can work to heal the world of the poison that is violence .

What is Journalism For?

Journalism is going through a watershed moment right now. The 2016 U.S. election made journalists see that they have to rethink their profession. Around the world, the profession of journalism is often threatened. While the U.S. offers a lot more support, journalists are still at the mercy of vicious attacks. With the President-elect going as far as stating he would change libel laws to counter agencies that attacked him, journalists must be courageous to protect our profession.

At the same time, journalists need to put accuracy instead of speed. The emergence of the internet has been it easier and faster to access information. To keep up, however, many organizations have been too focused on the entertainment part rather than the seriousness. The phenomenon of Trump, unlike anything American reporters had previously seen, made journalists fail to see him as a serious contender. They covered him like a circus show, failing to see that the blatant coverage was countering their numerous attacks.

Journalists also need to diversify the workplace, and not just in terms of  race. The journalist workplace also face a lack of representation from working class and military families, resulting in those groups being poorly underrepresented. Newsrooms are often ‘safe spaces’ of college educated middle class or higher  professionals. This results in reporters often knowing nothing of the world of the working class or lower whose priorities are vastly different. This lack of representation often leads the unheard angry. With each attack on Trump, his supporters grew more and more frustrated, lifting up their  urge to vote for Trump.

According to Melanchor, the eight news values of journalism are timelinessness, impact,prominence, proximity, conflict, unusual, currency and necessity. These values guide us in what exactly should be covered, though sometimes the most insignificant details can leads to much greater things. One of the biggest problems with journalism is perhaps how certain topics receive loads of coverage during a particular period (such as poverty during JFK’s presidency) and then goes back into oblivion shorty thereafter.


Hello, my name is Alonso Velasquez. This blog’s purpose is to serve my two journalism classes this spring semester, “News Writing and Reporting”, as well as “Multimedia Journalism”.

I am a transfer sophomore at Central Connecticut State University, known as CCSU. I spent my freshman year at American University in DC. I cam to Central for financial reasons and to be closer to home.

I’m a huge fan of international soccer and am very passionate about learning other world cultures. I could name almost every country if given a blank map. Being born in Peru, I’m fluent in both English and Spanish, and I hope my proficiency in dual languages will prove an asset in my journalism career.

I’m majoring in  journalism and also minoring in political science. I initially became interested in pursuing journalism after being a  writer and eventual co-editor of my school’s newspaper. This past sumer I did an internship at a Spanish speaking newspaper in Hartford. That experience opened up my eyes to what a typical day in the workplace is like.

In terms of media, while I consider myself very liberal minded, I try to read differing opinions. While CNN and The Hartford Courant are often my most common references, I note their common flaws in trying to pander to one side. I also occasionally switch to Fox News to get a different angle, despite knowing its also biased. I also check international sites such as the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio and the Qatari network Al-Jazeera to widen my worldview. Checking the media people share on Facebook I find interesting, as it reveals much of their interests and opinions, even if they personally don’t notice it.

As a journalist, and as a person in general, we must understand that everyone has had different experiences that brought them to be who they are and what beliefs they hold. People hold a certain view not because of malicious intent or necessarily ignorance but because it makes the most sense in their worldview. That is why both sides should be willing to listen to the other, without dismissing it from the start.

I’m convicted the election of Trump will have a profound impact in the journalism community and hope that I can learn to report in the fairest way possible, by judging his victories and failures both the same.

I want people to get passionate about the truth. I often find the overlaying trend of biased or fake news to be the passion behind who wrote or spoke it. It does well in convincing the viewer or reader of believing in it too, dropping him or her deeper into the ‘safe space’. I hope I can win them over with love of the truth.

I hope these classes develops my abilities to work with a variety of equipment and media. While the vast amount of experience I’ve had has been with journalism has been print, I’m think trying out different forms will open new doors for me.