Audio Rough Draft

So for my rough draft I have conducted an interview with two people from The daily Evergreen. Nathan Howard, the Managing Editor and Zack Briggs, the Former ASWSU Reporter. I felt these two gentlemen were going to be the best to interview for my subject considering their long background at the paper.

Since one of the main focuses of this over-arching project is the day-to-day challenges student newspapers face, I wanted to discuss some of the ethical challenges that come up to editors as well as some of the challenges that deadline reporters face (getting their story in within a short amount of time after an event takes place).

One of the difficulties I ran into with this draft was interview time; I have close to 20 minutes of audio even after my editing. Another issue that I have, that I intend on resolving by the final draft is background music. I couldn’t find anything that was suitable so far that wasn’t completely cheesy but will find something fitting by the end of this section.

So far I have to say this is my favorite portion of class; I have an odd interest in scanning audio files for minor details such as overused “ums” or “like’s”. I plan on making the audio for these interview for my final draft more crisp and more colorful with music. Hopefully, I can figure out how to loop music so that I can have a more streamlined audio content for this section.


GOP failed outreach

By: Chanel Caulfield

When I first embarked upon the journey that became the reading of “The Growth and Opportunity Project” released by the GOP in March, I had hoped to find some understanding and perhaps, even some agreement in their policy making. I had no idea that I would find sour forms of humor and irony with their opinions regarding issues and groups of people that I closely relate to (i.e. women and youth.)

A deep part inside of me had hoped that after reading the “autopsy” of the failed efforts of the Republican presidential campaign, I would find a truth about a party I have long considered too distant from the reality of public opinion; a party that I have always associated with hot-blooded media pundits and extreme advocates for stopping social change. The “truth” that I had searched for was never found in the way I had expected it.

I discovered an assortment of patronizing tones and a repetitive attitude that minorities, women, and youth are enigmas—citizens that will never be fully understood but must nonetheless be listened to between elections. At last, I was stunned by the missing ideology of the entire report: The GOP must accept that policy, not outreach, is the way to gain public support where they need it most.

This is not the first time the Republican Party has tried to improve its minority outreach. According to The Atlantic Wire, Ronald Reagan spoke of a “New Republican Party” and said it’s “still going to be the party of Lincoln and that means we are going to have to come to grips with what I consider to be a major failing of the party: its failure to attract the majority of black voters.” Thirty-five years have passed and the Republican Party is once again forced to strategize their appeal to black voters, as well as other minority groups.
In the 2008 presidential election, Republicans nominated Sarah Palin as the Vice President elect in what seemed to be a last-ditch effort to counter act Hillary Clinton’s appeal.

While “The Growth and Opportunity Project” recommends hiring more women to work for and represent the GOP, the problem with this strategy was the lack of genuine appeal to the average woman, in exception to the fact Palin is a female. Apparently, women were not easily wooed by the attractive, soccer-mom identity Palin radiated so effectively; a persona that female Republican figures feel necessary to portray in such as Michelle Bachmann and Cindy McCain.

For now, “The Growth and Opportunity Project” insists that the most effective way to female voters’ hearts is…well, their hearts. In fact, the GOP repetitively urges Republicans that women, minorities, and youth all need to feel like the Republicans care for them or they will “not likely open their ears to [the Republican Party].” The Republican National Committee further emphasizes Republicans must be aggressive in calling out the plethora of “liberal policies that negatively impact women.”

Despite their mentality that the Grand Old Party is now the Growth and Opportunity Party, the GOP’s strategies to outreach are flawed in that they refuse to change anything about their policies and their treatment of the groups they desperately need as supporting voters. Whether it involves Rep. Don Young’s offensive use of the term “wetbacks” in reference to minorities on an Alaskan radio interview or the use of “vaginas” to refer to women by State Rep. Peter Hansen., the Republican party cannot attract voters if they do not prove to become an inclusive party.

If the GOP can recognize there needs to be youth outreach, because the younger generations are the ones who will have to deal with the poor economy in the future, why do they consistently talk economics with the older generation to secure votes? Appealing to the younger generation isn’t just about winning elections and making youth feel good about themselves.

There can be no hope for a Republican Party that still caters policy only to their beloved Reagan generation, if the government does not treat us like intelligent citizens who want to make the United States a better and more diverse nation that can be a force for positive, global change.

It is not enough to find young celebrity spokesmen or have an active twitter account to show how up to date the GOP party is with technology. As it stands, the younger generation, women, and minority groups “roll their eyes,” as the Growth and Opportunity Project explains, at the GOP because republicans cannot put their words to action.
In an interview, Republican Lenny McAllister sums up the GOP struggles simply: “We have a diversity issue and not just when it comes to racial background or when it comes to sexual orientation. It boils down to diversity of thought.”

The news that never truly was, get the facts straight

The Society of Professional Journalists ran a thread of tweets yesterday in regards to the incorrect reporting that was done yesterday on the supposed arrest/custody of a Boston Bombing suspect. 

After reports were actually confirmed that was in fact, no suspect or any arrests, this led to some backlash against many news agencies such as CNN and AP.

This prompted the SPJ to tweets quotes as well as links to their ethics code about breaking news reporting among other topics.


Testing Accuracy:

And my personal favorite:

The reporting was erroneous enough to prompt the FBI into treading the rare terrain of media criticism.

“Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”

Whoops. The AP explained that they had used a source who provided information under the condition of anonymity, which at times, can be a shot in the dark for reporters.

Apparently the anonymous official had stood by the information even after it was disputed which prompted the AP to report the details.

I’d have to say my favorite reaction was from the likes of Jon Stewart, who just tore into CNN.

These sort of mistakes have seem to become too common. I wrote before about this topic during the Sandy Hook tragedy. And like I said in the post before, you can delete or retract tweets and statuses all you want but when you put something on the internet, you should expect that it will stay out there. And it will be seen.

And it will be perpetuated. I made the mistake of doing this on Facebook yesterday by sharing this incorrect information with my 700 friends. Luckily I was able to quickly follow about the incorrect reporting and apologized.

Only hours after that, another tragedy happened. A fertilizer plant in Texas exploded– dealing incredible amounts of damage.

And almost immediately after the initial reports of the explosion, the conflicting reports of casualties unfolded on twitter.

Within maybe 20 minutes of those original tweets, CNN was getting on the scene coverage from affiliate saying there were at least 2 confirmed dead.

Hours later AP reported that between 5 and 15 people were killed in the blast:

And right now that’s where the reports stand. They aren’t precise and they aren’t exactly confirmed.

As SPJ puts it, journalists should show good taste… and shouldn’t

Continue reading

Boston Marathon blasts, what is known and not known

Two blasts tore through runners and bystanders Monday at the Boston Marathon leaving at least three people dead and more than 140 injured.

The two blasts only being seconds apart spewed smoke about 20 feet into the air. After the smoke cleared, dozens could be seen injured, some laying unconscious and some with dismembered limbs.

An 8 year-old boy was confirmed to be among one of the three dead.

The street was covered in debris and blood after the blasts occurred around 2:50 p.m. ET.

As it currently stands, there are no primary suspects. Although there was one “person of interest” questioned. They are not in  law enforcement custody.

The Associated Press recently reported police that are investigation the explosions are searching an apartment.

Journalists, politicians and law enforcement have been careful and cautious not to jump to conclusions on possible groups or individuals.

The FBI has taken charge of this incident as a criminal investigation. The agency has set up a phone line for members of the public to call with information about the explosions. The call-in number is 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt (hash)3.

Shortly after the explosions, reports started coming out stating that the JFK Library had also been hit with an explosion. It was later ruled out as a fire but wether it was related to the two explosions is not verifiable yet.

Major cities around the US had heightened security after news of the bombings had spread across the nation, including Seattle and New York.

Around 6:10 p.m., President Obama gave an address vowing, “We still do not know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts, but make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this.”

It has been confirmed that as many as two unexploded bombs have been found by law enforcement near the end of the course, but were safely disarmed.

UPDATE: Governor Patrick said at a press meeting this morning that there was 2 devices that exploded and no other bombs or devices were found.

The Boston Marathon is one of Massachusetts oldest and most prestigious events and is held on Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.

Sequestration and what it means for Washington

$85 billion is a lot of money. And if that much in cuts from the federal budget are taken out starting March 1, there will be a lot of Americans feeling the sting of the latter.

What is Sequestration?

— A little background: Sequestration was originally used as a legal term that meant the obtainment of valuable property by the court for safekeeping while the dispute of its ownership was being resolved.

Nowadays, the term is used by Congress as Budget-Sequestration to describe a fiscal policy procedure that was part of an effort to reform Congressional voting procedures in 1985 so that the size of the Federal Budget was a matter of conscious choice rather that an automatic arithmetical outcome.

Sequestration is a package of automatic spending cuts that takes place across the board of the federal budget. It happens appropriation bills passed by Congress exceed the limits that were laid down earlier in the budget resolution and if Congress cannot agree on a way to cut back the total.

Everything that is cut is done between domestic and defense programs. There are some exemptions though such as Medicaid, Social Security, welfare and the food stamps program.

The sequester arose out of the Budget Control Act of 2011. It was supposed to serve as a disincentive for the so called “Super-committee” tasked with coming up with a plan and to be activated only if the congressional committee did not pass a legislation that would cut $1.2 trillion over the next ten years.

It didn’t happen.

And it was actually supposed to happen January 1, 2013, but was delayed until March 1, 2013, under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

The looming cuts for 2013 total to $85.4 billion.

Credit: Washington Post

Credit: Washington Post

How will Washington State be affected?

Well, there’s going to be a lot of cuts if the sequestration goes through on March 1. This includes teachers and schools, military readiness, child care, vaccines for children, job-search assistance, etc.

Federal employees who work at places such as the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard may find themselves being furloughed-given one day a week-without pay. PSNS may even have to lay off some or all of its 921 seasonal workers.

Even their big employee-of the-year awards ceremony, one that has been attended with up to 800 people, has been postponed indefinitely.

Commanding officer Capt. Steve Williamson has been keeping employees up to date with facebook posts.

Washington is looking at approximately 29,000 civilian Department of Defense employees to be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $173.4 million in total.

Some advisors predict that the sequestration would raise the unemployment rate by 1/4 a percentage point up to 7.4%.

The Congressional Schism 

Both the Republicans and Democrats want to do what would almost expect them do to.

Republicans proposed a plan called the Spending Reduction Act of 2012. The plan would have replaced the 2013 defense sequester with a variety of spending cuts, including cuts to food stamps, the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank.

In summary: Republicans want no tax increases, no defense cuts and considerable domestic spending reductions.

Democrats introduced the American Family Economic Protection Act. This replaces the 2013 sequester with $110 billion in spending cuts and tax increases, spread out over the course of a decade. One of the policies includes what is known as a “Buffet Rule“-a minimum tax on income over $1 million.

In summary: The Democrats want to put higher taxes on the wealthy and cut military spending in excess of the sequester cuts.

Overview: The Death of Aaron Swartz and The Anonymous Vendetta

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

From a very young age it was not hard to tell that Aaron Swartz was a prodigy. By age 14 he was apart of a working group that wrote up RSS 1.0.

He eventually went to Stanford but  left after a year explaining in his blog, “It’s got some great professors and I certainly learned a bunch, but I didn’t find it a very intellectual atmosphere, since most of the other kids seemed profoundly unconcerned with their studies.”

Swartz then started his own wiki platform called Infogami that eventually merged with Reddit in 2005. All before he was 20 years old. In 2006, Reddit was purchased by the same publishing company that owns Wired magazine.

Also an activist, Swartz co-founded Demand Progress an organization that focuses on civil liberties, civil rights and government reform. The organization was originally created as his response to SOPA and played a vital role in stopping the bill. 

Back in 2011, Swartz downloaded over 4 million academic journal articles from JSTOR to his laptop at MIT. According to an expert witness on his case, Swartz did not “hack” JSTOR, but rather wrote a handful of basic python scripts that first discovered the URLs of journal articles and then used curl to request them.

Being a research fellow at Harvard, Swartz already had a JSTOR account and additionally, MIT has an “open campus” which allows JSTOR to be accessed from the campus network. Within a few weeks into the downloading, Swartz was arrested by police.

This led to a grand jury indictment, although JSTOR decided not pursue a civil litigation against him, MIT pushed forward. Swartz was unwilling to plead guilty in his case, he did not see himself a felon.

Apart of the controversy of this case was that the articles that were downloaded were already free to begin with. JSTOR called his access a “significant misuse”.

According to the same blog by the expert witness, “at the time of Aaron’s actions, the JSTOR website allowed an unlimited number of downloads by anybody on MIT’s 18.x Class-A network. The JSTOR application lacked even the most basic controls to prevent what they might consider abusive behavior, such as CAPTCHAs triggered on multiple downloads, requiring accounts for bulk downloads, or even the ability to pop a box and warn a repeat downloader.”

Prosecutors such as Carmen Ortiz were persistent in pursuing Swartz and brought the case under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

“If convicted on these charges, Swartz faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million,” said Ortiz in a press release from 2011.

Swartz was found dead in his apartment January 11, 2013. It was reported that he hung himself and left no suicide note.

Shortly after his death , Ortiz defended her actions saying, that her office’s actions were “appropriate,” and that she had only been seeking a six-month sentence in “a low-security setting” rather than the 30 years’ jail that his actions might have attracted.

The prosecutors have received wide-spread criticism for their persecution of Swartz. The most dramatic response though, has been from hacking group Anonymous.

In a column for the Boston Globe, Swartz’s first lawyer expressed his frustration by saying,  “The thing that galls me is that I told Heymann the kid was a suicide risk, his reaction was a standard reaction in that office, not unique to Steve. He said, ‘Fine, we’ll lock him up.’ I’m not saying they made Aaron kill himself. Aaron might have done this anyway. I’m saying they were aware of the risk, and they were heedless.”

On January 26, Anonymous hacked the United States Sentencing Commission (known as Operation Last Resort) shutting down the website and leaving a youtube video explaining their intention and why they chose the USSC.

“This website was chosen due to the symbolic nature of its purpose — the federal sentencing guidelines which enable prosecutors to cheat citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial, by a jury of their peers — the federal sentencing guidelines which are in clear violation of the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishments.”

It was explained in the video that enough materials were obtained for multiple “warheads” that would be launched against the US Justice Department. The warheads apparently contain sensitive leaks.

After the site was restored, it was hacked again turning the website into an interactive game of Asteroids. Once everything was blown away, a Guy Fawkes face would be revealed.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

The over all goal of these hacks from Anonymous was to make their demands from legal reform known. And unless that happens, the faceless group is willing to cause “collateral damage” by releasing these “warheads.”

Integrity is what is at stake for journalism


Where does one begin to sort out the feelings of tragedy? Is it after they conceive the reality of it? Indeed it may be hard to conceive that a young man would go to an elementary school with the intent of killing children, shooting some of them as many as eleven times. Such senseless violence is unimaginable to me.

Yesterday, every inch of my body was filled with sadness, pain and disgust. But I also felt disappointment and a yearning for reliable reporting; something that none of us received until the day was just about over. Hard news has always been something that news outlets would race to get published first but nowadays it’s just who ever can get the first tweet out there without regard for fact checking, proper sourcing or ethical consideration.

That case alone is old news. I woke up to an update from ABC that there had been a mass shooting in Connecticut and I immediately found myself on twitter and facebook trying to follow all the sources I could. What I found almost as disturbing as the shooting itself was the reports of television reporters interviewing children that had just been evacuated from the school. Children who were asked to close their eyes by the police officers as they were escorted past the carnage of their deceased school-mates.

What I had also noticed was that the media had mixed up the identity of the shooters which was caused simply by hearsay and was not solid information. It also circulated online that the shooters mother was a teacher at the school, but that was devised by the media itself and was not true. Until yesterday I followed Slate magazine on twitter because I enjoyed their combination of humor with news and politics. But that quickly changed after I realized that they really suck at journalism, I mean, they are terrible. You can delete or retract tweets and statuses all you want but when you put something on the internet, you should expect that it will stay out there. And it will be seen.

The media displayed too many gaffes in one day. And no apology could make up for that. The coverage that was done yesterday completely defeated what journalism is supposed to do – provide the facts and make sense of a chaotic event in a form that is understandable. Not add to the chaos. Yesterday it seemed as if there was no such thing as solid fact and any bit of information that was crucial would suddenly change.

It’s obvious by this point to see that I am frustrated with how the media handled this tragedy yesterday. And it is because I felt helpless, at the mercy of a media that could not get its facts straight. I understand that that at times getting information that is necessary is difficult but journalists have an obligation to seek accuracy and to maintain honest and thoughtful integrity. It is a shame that social media -despite all it’s potential – has created a niche where organizations can report mistakes and think that they can fix them simply by deleting or retracting.

Journalism needs a higher standard than that.