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Because everyone has a story

Global Post: A Field Trip!

Last week, I had the great pleasure to go to visit GlobalPost, an international Web-based news service based in Boston. During our visit we were shown quite a bit of the features the website offers by editor Charles Sennott.

Anyone who has seen the website can easily admit that it has quite a bit of impressive coverage from all over the world. Many of the stories that exist on the site are not stories that one would normally hear about in the United States. For the most part, I like the layout. There are quite a few pictures and it’s pretty neat, easy to read, and comprehensive.

I normally get my international news from CNN, but as I said before there are many stories that I would never know about without a website like Globalpost.  I find the work on this website very important and interesting because it gives readers insight on different cultures and allows us to understand the differences that exist throughout our world.

One section in particular struck me, “Life, Death in the Taliban”. This section gives an in-depth look into the War on Terror, but allows us to see it from a different angle. The reason this is so interesting is that it shows us what is actually going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many people forget that we are in a war and do not understand the terrors that occur within a war torn nation. With the use of multimedia we are brought to the center of the war and shown what horrors people in these countries face everyday.

The use of multimedia is impressive, I was particularly struck by the many photographs. The work is extensive, thorough and interesting.

The site also has a Study Abroad section. This section allows students who are studying abroad to report on the culture that they are being immersed into. This summer I will have the opportunity to go overseas to France and a small country in west Africa, Benin. If I were doing a story I might do one of these three options:

1. It is no secret that Africa has a problem with their food and water. They are not allowed to eat fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled and they are not allowed to drink the water. In this case I would probably write a story about it.

2. Benin only became independent from France between 1960 and 1972. In this sense, Benin is still a developing nation. I might write about Benin’s struggles in gaining independence and the influence France still has.

3. In France I will be doing a human services project. I will be working with one of four organizations to help the people of Benin. I could easily photograph and document what occurs while I’m there. In this I could also show the effect of international aid on a developing nation.

The only thing that I really had a problem with while looking at the website is the pop up ads. Though, I understand why they are there.

Filed under: Uncategorized

John May(you stop saying offensive comments and just sing)er

Alright, alright–I know, it’s been entirely too long since I last updated. What can I say, except that I’m terribly sorry for not being more on top of this whole blogging thing. I’ll be better! I swear!

Anyway, down to business. 2 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing John Mayer in concert. Screaming girls filled the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Mass. on February 24 to watch the young musician perform.

As most of us know, John Mayer has not been short of controversy lately, making waves all over the nation with his tell all interview in Playboy magazine a few weeks ago.

For those of you who haven’t read it, Mayer admits that his relationship with actress Jennifer Aniston was “pretty intense” and that he did in fact love her.

However, pop sensation Jessica Simpson wasn’t so lucky. Mayer goes into heavy detail about his relationship with Simpson. He confesses he was never in love with her, but describes her as “sexual napalm”. Mayer explained “That girl, for me, is a drug. And drugs aren’t good for you if you do lots of them. Yeah, that girl is like crack cocaine to me… Sexually it was crazy.”

Believe it or not, these gems are the high points of the interview. He later makes racial comments and goes on to describe his genital area as a “white supremacist”.

Though these comments are obviously offensive, it doesn’t change the fact that he is an extremely talented and popular  musician. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem that his comments have hurt him among his fans, as he continues to sell out large venues across the United States for his Battle Studies tour.

Filed under: Celebs, , , , , , ,

Ab……Not So Original

It’s pretty safe to say that you can’t have an event like the Olympics without a little controversy. With such a group of diverse people, you never know what is going to happen.

On Sunday, the Russian Ice Dancing Duo, Dominia and Shalbalin turned heads with their cultural interpretation of an Aboriginal Dance. The pair wore red loin cloths, leaves planted all over their bodies, and dark-skinned body suits with tribal war paint on them and everyone took notice. Many Australians were offended, especially those who work and advocate for the rights of Aboriginal peoples.

According to NBC, Austrailian natives deemed the performance as “inaccurate, inauthentic, and insensitive.”

Their coach, Natalia Linichuk, responded to public outcry by saying, “Aboriginal, it translates from Latin language, it’s from the beginning. We try to represent a picture of this time when Aboriginal people start being in the world. It’s no customs, no country, nothing.” Linichuk also explained  that the dance moves and costumes were not meant to be offensive.

So what does everyone else think? Offensive or not offensive? Yay or Nay? It is also worth mentioning that the Russians took home the Bronze Medal in ice dancing, just one day after their offensive routine was aired.

Photo (cc) by paddynapper and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

Filed under: Celebs, , , , ,

Death of the “Pink Sheep”

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the death (probably sucicide) of, fashion designer and self proclaimed “pink sheep” of his family, Alexander McQueen. But many of us are wondering what actually happened.

There is much speculation floating around the interweb concering sucicide and some reports even go so far as to say he hung himself in his London apartment (though these accusations are still yet to be confirmed).

We know that McQueen was suffering from some emotional problems after his mother passed on February 2. McQueen was still dealing with the suicide of a close friend and mentor, Isabella Blow, who took her life after she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2007.

We also know through his now deleted Twitter account that he was questioning life and that his new line would encompass “prolific deamons”, a very dark subject matter.

McQueen was thought to be a creative genius, pushing the fashion envelope to new realms of possibility. In studies of genius, it may be important to note that such brilliant minds often suffer from a mental illness and his mother’s death may have sent McQueen over the edge.

We will never know the exact reason why such a talented and acclaimed person had to die at such a young age. Alexander McQueen, you and your designs were loved throughout the world and you will truly be missed. Rest in peace.

Photo (cc) by Damien Cugley and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

Filed under: Celebs, , ,

Another Famous Garfield

First there was Garfield the cat, then there was President Garfield, now there’s Steve Garfield, a well know video blogger who runs his own website and freelances for other sites. He is also the author of the new book Get Seen, a comprehensive “how-to” guide that gives you all the skills you need to create and share videos and media on the web.

Garfield began blogging in 1997, but it was not until 2004 when he started to Vlog (believe it or not Garfield came before YouTube, folks! Impressive!).

Now, with the creation of new media and phone video devices, Garfield is vlogging more than ever before.

“I can click a button and send a video to YouTube.” said an excited Garfield “We now have the ability to both record and share with a device from your pocket!”

So how can us common citizen-journalist folk make the moolah out of this? Well, Garfield suggests getting a job that pays you the green, and blogging on the side. Garfield himself started out as a computer distributor and now he is a highly regarded blogger. Garfield also makes it a point to not to count things out “because they are free.” Of course, not everyone is going to be as successful as Steve Garfield in the blog world, but there’s no harm in trying…right?

Filed under: class, Uncategorized, , ,

Interesting People: Ethel Weiss

Click for more photos

“What do you want?!” yelled a vivacious old woman from a chair inside of a crowded toy, card and candy shop in Brookline, Mass.

“Wow, I thought, she sure sized me up quickly.” I guess she knew I wasn’t your average customer with my Canon Rebel slung around my neck. It’s okay though, because Ethel Weiss isn’t your average woman. She’s 95 years old and has been in the toy, candy, card business for 71 years. She is the owner and sole employee of Irving’s Toy and Card Shop.

“This place is amazing.” I said looking around wide-eyed, as if I had gotten in a time machine and entered a much simpiler era. “It’s my life, come sit down and talk to me. You’re gonna interview me? I never say no, but you should know I just did one of these this morning.” Weiss then took out a whole binder of newspaper clippings, books, and awards she had been given over the years. She has been named such things as Brookline’s “Guardian Angel”, a “legend”, and an inspirational woman.

Irving’s Toy and Card Shop was started out as a grocery store. Weiss’s then husband, Irving Kravetz, bought the shop and turned it into a wonderous place selling beautiful cards and delicious treats for children. It debuted on January 13th, 1939.  When Kravetz died, Weiss decided to keep the shop. She would eventually marry Abe Weiss, who would help her run the shop until his death.

The shop itself is one small room, followed by a hall of toys, but they’re not your average everyday toys. These are toys that I don’t even remember having as a child, but I do remember descriptions of toys like these from my mother.

In fact, mostly everything in Irving’s is old-fashioned, including the cash register. This thing is so old that it doesn’t even do sales tax on it, in fact Weiss told me that the man who sold to her has perished and the last time it broke, she had to have a mechanic order her a part from Texas. Refusing to buy a computer, Weiss keeps all her records in notebooks and calculates all of the money herself. She also refuses to take accept credit cards and places all of her orders by phone.

I approached my next question with caution. “Ethel?” I said, “how do you keep this place going?” She cocked her head and I readied myself for her response. With a sigh she exclaimed “It’s my life, and I love it. I’m not going to act like it’s not hard to get out of bed and force myself down here sometimes, it is, but I love every second of it. And anyway you’ve got to make your money somehow.”

With that the door swung open a Brookline crossing guard, came in and bought a chocolate bar. She looked at me “Wait til you see the kids, they’re gonna be lining up outside the door any second.” I smiled, not believing that there would actually be a line for this place.

“Oh! It’s 2:30″ said Weiss “the children will be coming!”

Moments later a lined formed outside the door. Kids were coming and going quicker than milk is bottled in a factory.

A worried parent came through the door, and eyed me.”Writing a story on Ethel?” “Yes sir, I am.” “She’s the absolute best, we love her around here.” And I could see that.

For the next half hour there was non-stop traffic and it was almost hard to breathe. Though, I must say these were the most well-behaved children, I’ve ever seen and Weiss made sure to point that out several times.

When the rush died down, Weiss looked at me. She knew I now understood why she had stayed open all these years. She loved it and the people, most importantly the children, loved her.

Filed under: Interesting People, , , , ,

Build It And They Will Come…

Jennifer Paluzzi worked as a newspaper reporter for The MetroWest Daily News. She was the reporter that excelled at “impossible” stories. The one co-workers looked to for direction when there wasn’t one.

Then one day everything changed. In October of 2008, Paluzzi was laid off from her coveted reporting job, handed a severance package, and told that her career as a journalist was basically over.

“Everyone expected me to go into PR” said Paluzzi, “But I had a Plan B.”

9 months before Paluzzi was laid off, she started a WordPress site called “Greater Grafton.” A blog dedicated to what was going on in her hometown.

When Paluzzi told her friends and neighbors about the loss of her job, they weren’t sorry. They said “great, now you have more time to dedicate to us.” Which is exactly what she did.

Paluzzi spent much of her time editing and writing for her blog. A few months later she would meet a business partner and her blog would expand to become dailygraftontimes.com.

She once made a joke about “exhausting her digital camera” and the grateful citizens of Grafton pulled together and sent her a gift card to buy a new one. Which just shows how much of an effect she has had on this area.

Paluzzi now runs several sites, under the domain name centralmassnews.com, for different towns in Mass. including Milbury and Northbridge. These small sites are town oriented and allow parents and citizens to know what is going on within their neighborhoods and school systems.

Dailygraftontimes.com is the fastest growing media business right now and is currently the only business in Mass. hiring reporters.

Glad that she didn’t go into public relations, Paluzzi is having a lot of fun with her work and she’s interested in seeing how it will expand in the future.

Filed under: class, , ,

And The Winner Is….Taylor Swift?!

Last night was the 52nd Annual showing of the Grammy’s. Now, normally I’m not too apt to watch these award shows or comment on them, but I have to talk about the holy grail of the Grammy awards; Album of the Year.

Who was up for this award? The Dave Matthews Band (Big Whiskey and the Groo-Grux King), Lady Gaga (The Fame Monster), Beyonce (I am….Sasha Fierce), The Black-Eyed Peas (The E.N.D.), and Taylor Swift (Fearless).

Now, many of these artists have been on scene for years (DMB, The Peas, Beyonce) and some of them are new (Gaga and Swift) and don’t get me wrong just because you’re new doesn’t mean you don’t deserve album of the year. It’s purely about the quality of music, however I can’t get behind the Grammy’s decision to shaft Lady Gaga or Dave Matthews.  Their choice, Taylor Swift, just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Did she make a good album? Yes. Do I own it? Yes. But let’s get real for a second, musically her album doesn’t match up to Gaga or Matthews. She plays the same four chords in nearly every song, changing her strumming or the placement of her capo to make it sound different, which is great. I just feel like an album that is as complex as Big Whiskey and the Groo-Grux King deserves a little recognition (not to mention that Dave Matthews has been shafted at the grammy 13 times before this).

Anyway, congrats to last nights winners. Maybe next year will be better for both nominations and awards, but I’m not placing bets on it.

Photo (cc) by Bounce!!! and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

Filed under: Celebs, , , , ,

What makes you curious?

Stephanie Miller, director of digital media for CBS Boston Television spoke to my journalism class on Wednesday. She spoke a lot about the evolution of the news and getting the viewer engaged with their product.

Miller discussed how important it is in this day and age to get the readers, viewers, etc. involved with the news. The way CBS Boston does this is through a program called “Declare Your Curiosity.” This program asks people to declare what makes them curious, therefore challenging the news channel to get the scoop on what makes their viewers tick.

Miller made it a point to explain that the news is not as it used to be. People no longer want news fed to them, they want to have a part in creating it. They want to see that the stations they’re watching care about what they care about. “We’re listening to you” said Miller, ” and when you want to talk we’re going to talk back.”

WBZ uses many different outlets to allow their viewers to talk to them. They have a twitter page, a blog, and even an Iphone application describing their purpose. All of these things allow people to communicate with them.

It seems, that the only way to really keep someone interested in your product is to keep people engaged in your product at all times through different means. It’s strange to think that a few years ago these social media outlets did not exist, therefore making it impossible to keep people engaged 24/7.

So, WBZ wants to know what really gets you going. What makes you excited or crazy. So what are you waiting for? Declare your curiosity!

Filed under: class, , ,

A Platform of ‘Hope’ and ‘Change’

It has been a week since Scott Brown beat out Martha Coakley in the Senate Special election. Though, Brown won fair and square, there are some mixed emotions and many opinions flying around Boston on Brown, health care, and what this means for the country.

A Boston blogger who writes under the name Brian for The Sport of Boston Politics wrote that Coakley’s loss reminded him of John Kerry’s defeat against George Bush in 2004. He wrote:

It was easy to be upset after Martha Coakley lost the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. It reminds me of how I felt when John Kerry lost to George W. Bush in 2004. Not being a very skilled politician and speaker, Martha Coakley didn’t inspire or give reassurance to be hopefully. Her concession speech was bland.

A little over a year ago, Barack Obama beat John McCain in the presidential election. Obama ran on a platform of hope and most importantly change. John Kinsellagh a blogger for the Beacon Street Journal pointed out that Brown took a page from Obama’s handbook and ran under similar themes:

Through his insurgent candidacy, Brown rode the crest of what was initially a wave, that quickly became a national tsunami of disenchantment and disillusionment with the hard-left regal asbsolutism with which Congressional Democrats and President Obama have governed over the past year. As the Coakley campaign floundered and Brown started to surge, he became the vehicle of a national protest against the excesses of one-party rule personified in the crafting of a corrupt trillion dollar behemoth health care bill that the electorate fervently opposed. Brown took on the role of the outsider, the everyman against the condescending elitism of Obama and his radical left-wing congressional cohorts.

Health care is an extremely sensitive topic, not only among Democrats, but also Republicans and Independents. Joel Patterson, a blogger from the Blue Mass. Group, finds it hard to swallow that this healthcare bill, that has been talked about for the past year, is not supported by Brown.

It’s tough to say whether or not Brown will live up to his platform of change and we’re not sure Obama will either. However, it’s safe to say that Boston and the United States are looking to the future anxiously awaiting a different outcome.

Photo (cc) by David Reece and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

Filed under: Political, , , ,

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