Two days before Valentine’s Day, the High Country received one of the old fashioned snow storms that people love to talk about. It started lightly enough with only two inches or so staying on the ground. Then it got worse, and worse and worse. Now Appalachian State is not known to cancel classes just because of snow as so many other universities in North Carolina are, but this was one exception. Calling off classes on February 13 students were overjoyed, but Journalism students were left with a conflict-how will we get our stories done with no school? I had already begun working on my story, and with the storm could not get to campus to interview my sources. Now I know that in the real world of Journalism, the chance of story deadlines being pushed back would be slim to none. Thankfully though, the snow was just deep enough to actually make this a reality. Instead of rushing around trying to track down my sources at the very last minute, I was given another week to talk to people, to get the facts right and to add more details. I am one of those writers that can write under pressure, but the end result will not be as good as it would have been if I had been given ample time. Now that the story has been written, I am proud to say I feel as if I was able to put all the story pieces together for the story, despite the weather. But the bigger question is, do the readers think the story is good enough?
It has been over 24 hours since the tragedy in Boston occurred. As much as I did not want to, I found myself glued to my computer most of the day reading most of the articles that had been released. Now we know some of the names of the people, like Martin Richard, the 8-year-old who was watching his father run the marathon. Or we have seen videos of those racing into the barricades to help those that were injured.
These videos also show what the media did, and even as a journalist, I was frustrated. In this one, which was clearly taken right after the blasts, you can hear people crying for help. While others rush to their aide, you see the media taking picture after picture of the gruesome site. In class, we say all the time that the job of the news and the media is to report the news to the people. With situations like this, however, I also feel like it is the job of the journalist to get the story but then help as much as possible if they can.
I have never been in a situation similar to that of the Boston bombings, and hope that I never am. Should I be, however, I feel as if I would be compelled to drop what I was doing and help anyone I possibly could. The most common photo or story coming out of yesterday’s incident is that of Jeff Bauman, the runner that is in many publications today seated in a wheelchair and being rushed to receive medical attention by a man wearing a cowboy hat. His story is also that of Carlos Arredondo,the man in the hat. Arredondo was not running the race but handing out flags in memory of the son he lost in Iraq. When the blasts went off, he immediately jumped over the barricades to get to Jeff, and it is because of him that he is alive today.
To a new journalist, getting the story and writing it well is possibly the most important task you have. In incidents like Boston, however, the story should take second precedence over helping someone who is right in front of you. I look at the videos of the photographers snapping pictures of the wounded and think, “How many more people could have received attention if they were not so focused on getting the picture?”
We journalists have a responsibility to people to tell the story of the day, but then we also have a responsibility to help our fellow man should they need us. This is when our jobs become more than just getting the story, it is about being a part of the story and doing whatever we can to help.
A few posts ago, I said “if the place where you currently are becomes the place to be, then you have a birds eye view and not to mention the inside scoop of a story.” When I said this, I was not thinking that I would ever be as close to a breaking news story as I was the day that Pope Francis was elected. I did not know, however, that such a story would LITERALLY fall into my lap today.
Since today was Easter Sunday, I was in the kitchen helping my mom make dinner around 1p.m. In the middle of making the au gratin potatoes, my family heard a loud boom accompanied by the ground around our neighborhood shaking. Immediately, I thought it was something in our basement, like our dryer breaking, or one of the pipes bursting.
Not wasting any time, my dad walked outside to see if a tree or something big had fallen. We knew we were not the only ones that had heard and felt something since we saw all of our other neighbors coming to their front doors as well. It took us awhile to figure out what had happened, and it did not hit us until we looked down our street, and saw that part of the woods in our neighborhood was on fire.
My dad and another group of our neighbors took off down the street to see if they could do anything to help. My mom stayed behind to call 911. Being a journalism student, I knew that I had to get to get footage of this, so I flew out the front door with phone in hand, but no shoes on.
At first, we had no idea what had caused the blaze. After further inspection of the fire, however, we soon realized that we were dealing with a plane crash after seeing the tail up in a tree. The plane had taken off from Wilkesboro earlier this afternoon, and had experienced engine trouble. We think the pilot was attempting to land the plane either in a nearby grassy, open area, or the nearby airport. Unfortunately, the engine completely failed before they arrived.
Thankfully the plane landed behind the row of houses across the street from me, narrowly missing several houses. One of our neighbors was actually home when the plane crashed, and caught a glance of it before it exploded. After the explosion, it was not even three minutes after the crash that the police and firefighters arrived, zooming down our street at 80mph.
It also was not very long before every news station in the area was cramming for a spot to get footage of the crash. Due to police lines, however, the crews were not allowed anywhere near the immediate crash site. As close as they could get was down and across the street a bit, making it extremely difficult to get true footage of the crash.
Being a journalist, I was mystified as to why the news crews were not talking to anyone. I don’t know if people were just not thinking of talking, or they didn’t know what to say. I took the initiative, however, and talked to just one reporter, hoping that if the interview came from someone who was both a witness and a journalist, the story would not be spun out of proportion.
Being on the other side of the interview though was definitely a different experience. I can only count on one hand the number of times the tables have been turned on me for interviews, and because of the circumstances, the experience was even more interesting. The questions they asked were nowhere near specific because they had not released any information yet. Though generic, the news crew assured me that it was extremely helpful, especially since I gave them permission to use both my dad’s and my photo of smoke billowing over our house.
The rest of the afternoon was a series of finishing up Easter dinner, and going down the street to see if there was any new news. After my interview, quite a few more crews came, but none even asked to talk to anyone. There were also the people that just came by to look as you get with any situation like this. They still have not released much information on the crash, but just being on the inside scoop of this story has been enough for me.
After working for a number of publications, I know that I am nowhere near cut out for the breaking news world. I do not have the patience for it, or the concentration. Today’s drama, however, let me know that even in the most hectic of situations, it is totally possible to be both professional and a witness. I did not go all out and gather quotes and such as I should have, but I did know how to talk to people, and how to empathize with the media. This might not have been the most ideal of situations since I had a personal bias. This experience though has made me realize that whatever part of Journalism I go into, it is exactly what I want to do.
How many times a day do you log onto Facebook and Twitter? 3,6 or 9 times a day sound about right? 48% 18-34 year olds check Facebook as soon as they wake up, so those numbers wouldn’t be too unrealistic for most people. When the website started, it was just for socialization with friends on the internet. Now eight years later, it is so much more than that.
I can remember being in high school, and first getting a Facebook profile. The layout then looks absolutely amateurish compared to timeline, but back then, it was revolutionary. It wasn’t before long that the rest of the world caught on to what us teenagers were going crazy over, and now here we are. Instead of going to a publications website for stories, most of the time I just check their Twitter feed or Facebook page. They update both just as fast as the website, sometimes even faster. Also, I have always found it interesting what others are saying about a publication which both of these social media outlets show.
And to be honest, most people our age are more likely to put information on either their Facebook or Twitter page before actually telling anyone. I cannot count the number of times I have been asked by my parents how I heard a story before they did, and my reply was simply, “Facebook or Twitter.”
The big question now is, why do we put so much of our lives on social media pages? Now, because it is so popular, do we feel obligated to share EVERYTHING with the world? Personally, I think it is more an issue of convenience. If you put something either on Facebook or Twitter, you are absolutely guaranteed that someone will see it. This is how stories get spread, and why the news is now moving faster than ever before.
There is a downside to all of this, but I’m not too sure we even know what that is yet. I know people are saying that Facebook and Twitter will phase out in a few years, but I think the mindset we have will stick around for awhile. I just hope that if that should happen, we have not become too reliant on social media to the point where we do not know how to report the news without it.
If you are like me and my family, then you have been watching the NCAA basketball final four tonight. Everything was going fine in the first half (if you do not like Duke), until Kevin Ware jumped for the ball. If you’ve seen the footage already, then you know what happened. If you haven’t I won’t go into graphic detail, but just know that he won’t be playing basketball for the next year.
In our ever changing world, news happens in just a matter of seconds. And when something out of the ordinary happens on live television, there is absolutely nothing that will stop the cameras from catching it. In the case of Kevin Ware’s injury, however, how far is going to far for the media?
You hear stories all the time about paparazzi annoying celebrities who are just walking around town. But then, you have these breaking news stories that are happening as the world is watching and the media just happens to be there. It is all too easy for the media to run over to a celebrity or an athlete and start snapping away or asking questions. But then this gets in the way of either people living their lives, or in Kevin’s case, the paramedics.
I completely understand that people need to be informed of what is going on around them. It is just when the news crews get too close for comfort in some situations, and interfere with what is going on. That is where a boundary for the media needs to be set, and possibly even who they can talk to.
As soon-to-be journalists, we need to seriously consider how to approach these types of situations. In this field, there is no way you can sit and wait for the sources to come to you, but you also need to know how to handle these situations. Even as normal citizens, breaking news stories are not easily dealt with. Knowing just how far you can go with a story, however, will save you quite a bit of time, and your sources will thank you too.