Hard Times

Not that I’m the first–or the only one for that matter– but I feel like the economy is kicking my ass especially hard.

I’m pretty much done with my master’s in journalism and my husband graduated from law school about 2 years ago.  And as much as I hate to say it, we both feel like idiots.  Both of these professions are always on the list of the worst career paths in this economy. 

When it comes to law, people are thinking twice when hiring lawyers.  They are opting to take care of a lot of little things themselves (i.e. speeding tickets) or just simply not venturing into things for which they might need counsel from somebody in the legal field.  Everybody is playing it safe.  The firms, on the other hand, are not looking to expand or just plain hire because of budget cuts, etc.

Journalists are in just as much of a grim situation.  Just last week, the Tribune company was all over the news.  I don’t think people have stopped reading.  They just don’t care for a hard copy of anything nowadays.  I’m probably one of the very few people who still supports the newspaper and magazine industry by going out and buying a copy every now and then (that is,whenever my wallet permits me to).  I know I can’t save them by myself.  But, I get nervous.  I get worried.  I love reading news off the paper then a screen.  Magazines, thank God, are still doing better then newspapers.  I find comfort in this since I’m a magazine journalism major.  But it’s not long before I start worrying about them too. 

But, you know what worries me the most?  People don’t even seem to care that newspapers (and maybe magazines) are going obsolete!  They’re completely okay with reading headlines on their blackberrys!  It’s only the people in the profession and a few students who are hoping to make a living in these industries some day, who give a damn.  Some of them aren’t even considering working in a newsroom.  Many of them simply want to publish their stories only online.  Just today I was at dinner with some friends, and they want to start their own online magazine.  One because it pretty much costs close to nothing.  And second, except for one of us, none of them have a job.

I’m not really sure what the solution is here.  But, I hope we can figure something out soon or we’re going to be in a lot more trouble.

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Airbrushing seen around the world…

So as it turns out, we here in the US aren’t the only ones who are starting to take notice of how misleading these manipulations are. 

Since last month, there have been talks of banning digital manipulations in the UK.  But, all manipulations have not stopped.  Some magazines are actually altering the photos to make the models look a little…healthier.

I have to say that I am a bit amazed by this.  I’ve interviewed some design/photo editors of fashion magazines and they all say that there can be no ban whatsoever.  Because, according to them, this is an industry that deals with “fantasy,” and how do you regulate fantasy?  Also, they say that real is boring and nobody wants to see it.  People don’t want to see “plain Jane.”  

Isn’t there something wrong here?  Is reality really that terrible that it is unpublishable in the magazine industry?  I don’t look at these magazines as a medium for providing me with an escape from reality.  In beauty and style magazines, I look to find advice or something interesting to read to relax and pass time.  I do expect them to be truthful though.  I do expect them to tell me what is real and what is not.  Why are the journalistic values not applied to the art and photos of these magazines?

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Thesis project

I would like to spend some time on this blog covering the topic of my thesis project.  I am currently reseraching digital manipulation and the fashion magazine industry.  The more I research, the more interesting this topic becomes.

I believe this is a very good time to pursue this topic for two main reasons from the public’s point of view.  First, the public has become more aware of the airbrushing and the digital alterations that have started gracing not only the magazine covers, but personal websites, and movie posters to name a few.  Software like Adobe’s Photoshop (one of my major foci in this project) have made it so easy for the public to not only perform the same tasks the retouchers for and somehow are able to make it seem normal. 

But, how normal is this?  How normal is it to completely disfigure a person just to make them appear so perfect, that they become almost inhuman?  I wish this is where the retouchers were stopping today.  Today, the retouchers take one person’s hands and attach it to somebody else’s body, take another’s feet, etc. etc. 

What let’s the people in charge do this?  I will (hopefully) be speaking to a few fashion magazine editors about their thoughts about digital manipulations.  Editors have been known to be quite tight-lipped about this subject, so I’m going to have to be very careful in how I approach them and how I get my information.

I will be keeping this blog updated starting today, since I will be working on this project throughout the summer.  If any of you know anything that can help me, feel free to drop a line and let me know. 🙂

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The Toolkit Experience

What did I learn in this class? Hmm…I think a better question would be what did I not learn. 

This has been, by far, one of the best graduate classes I have taken in my educational career so far.  Since starting graduate school last year, all my classes have definitely taught me something.  But, they have been strictly academic.  We’ve discussed theories, different literature and numerous studies.  But, they all felt incomplete.  This class was a complete learning experience from start to finish. 

I wasn’t comfortable with taking photos for a story.  I had no idea how to do soundslides.  I never thought I would be able to get comfortable with html.  I never even thought I would have a blog!  But, everyday Mindy gave us expert advice and pushed us to try something new.  And, I’m glad she did.  I really think the skills I learned in this class can help me become more marketable in the journalism field and have a better chance of getting the job that I really want. 

One of the more important things that I learned in class was that there is so much out there that journalists can use to provide information to the public.  Everybody always talks about how technology is changing the world we live in and that we should all try to keep up with it.  But, they can’t keep up without the journalists.  Who is going to tell me them how the world is changing, if we don’t learn a few things ourselves.  There is a lot of awesome things happening out there in the field of journalism.  And classes like these can open the eyes of aspiring journalists, like us.

I’m really sad to learn that this class might not be offered in the future.  I sincerely believe these classes should become more then just electives.  If we don’t learn about what’s new in the industry in school, then where are we going to learn it?  Thank you Mindy for everything and I know that I will use everything you have taught me this semester in the years to come as a professional.

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Land Conservation

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I’m so excited that my final package is complete. I think that land conservation in Alachua county is a very important topic. There is a lot of wildlife and plant life that needs to be protected. And I’m glad that I got to bring some light to this issue. With more and more people becoming aware of the constraints being put on the environment and matters like global warming, I think people are going to be more open to listening to these kinds of problems.

I had a difficult time collecting the data for this project, though. There is so much information available on the Alachua County Forever website that it was difficult to find something that hadn’t already been posted on the website for the public. I worked with Ramesh Buch, the program manager, and got a hold of some exclusive data. It shows the expenditure of not only 2006 and 2007 but, also, how they plan on using their funding for 2008 and 2009. The numbers that are shown on the chart are projections of 2008 and 2009. This information is not posted anywhere!

Either way, I’m glad that a got a chance to put this together. And, I hope I can make a difference with this story.

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Journalism in the form of data

I had no idea who Adrian Holovaty was before I read this article for class, but I have to admit he’s a very smart guy.  With so much changing in the world, it’s about time newspapers (and magazines, in my opinion) start changing themselves.  Everybody is in a rush to get somewhere.  And, nobody wants to get out of his/her car.  They want everything from a drive-thru, even news.  That’s what struck me about the article “A fundamental way newspaper sites need to change.”

The internet is faster then any medium we have used to provide news with in the past.  And we should take advantage of it.  By providing data in a quick and convenient (yet comprehensive) manner, we can provide so much of the story.  I do understand what the journalists mean when they say that this is not journalism.  Where is the article?  Where is the in-depth reportage?  Well, to counter that, who is reading that in-depth reportage nowadays?  Some people are, but it’s not like it used to be.  We, as journalists, have to learn to mold with the times.  We have to keep up with our audience and learn to look at the facts a little differently.

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Soundslides 3

My Soundslides 3 is complete!

It was really difficult finding an issue.  Most of the time when we hear about something that is compelling it’s usually coming from a journalist.  We either read it in the newspaper, in a magazine, or watch it on television.  Even then, our level of connection to it is not to a level of passion.  I remember when I was reading the Kobre text regarding finding and reporting issues, I felt like all the examples that were given were of journalists who felt something towards what they were reporting.  For example, there is a nursing home example in the book.  It is done by Judy Griesdieck and she pursues this project after hearing some alarming statistics about nursing homes in California.  And Kobre also mentioned that after the assignment was done, Griesdieck went back and visited her subjects.  I wanted to report on a subject that I felt was important and that I could do something about.

 The environment has always been very important to me.  Growing up, I was the kid that would spend hours outside and would not come in until my mother yelled at me.  And last fall, after I did a 45 to 50 minute presentation on global warming, I’ve been kind of hooked on the subject.  This wasn’t really my first topic though.  I wanted to do something aligned with my thesis project (eating disorders in college students) but, when that didn’t work out for me I decided to find a topic related to the environment. 

I started doing my research and found that Alachua county is facing two major problems.  The bigger problem is the lack of funding.  There isn’t enough money to acquire the land, to run the programs that deal with land conservation or for the equipment or manpower needed to actually preserve the land.  The smaller problem is the management of the land and how sometimes they get neglected after being acquired.  But, even for that, the state and the non-profits need money.  And so that is my focus.  The Alachua County Forever program got money when the public decided to tax itself to conserve land.  But, unfortunately they are running out of money soon and are in danger of losing all their resources. 

Paynes Prairie, a state park here in Alachua county, is a good proof of what can come out of preserving land.  It is a safe place for individuals and families to go and enjoy nature.  The land is thriving and the animal life is better then ever (they even have wild bison on the property!).  Land conservation is an important issue in Alachua county.  And, we as residents, should try to help preserve what makes it special.

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