Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Word of the day: yummy

When I read a blog on the NY Times Web site, I saw a comment that asked the author to refrain from using the word "yummy." They said, "Please, can the word 'yummy' be banned? It means nothing, and sounds sick-making." I thought that this was hilarious, and then I wondered if "yummy" was a real word. I found out that it is!


part of speech: adjective
origin: 1925-1930

1. very pleasing to the senses, esp. to the taste; delicious: The waiter brought out a tray of yummy desserts.
2. extremely attractive or appealing.

Colleen's sentence: The Thanksgiving dinner I ate yesterday was quite tasty.
Haha just kidding. The sentence really is: The Thanksgiving dinner I ate yesterday was quite yummy.

I think I am most entertained by the fact that it was invented in the 1920's/1930's. The roaring 20's gave the English language some interesting words and phrases, such as "the bees knees" and the "the cats pajamas," and now, possibly the word "yummy."

This word has been around for a while, and if it's going to stay in our lovely repertoires, the angry comment-leaver is just going to have to get used to it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When protecting a source goes too far

I just read an article in my favorite magazine, Allure, about narcissistic behavior and how it is becoming more prevalent in our celebrity obsessed society. The author, Judith Newman, wrote a fantastic article after she interviewed a woman who had risen quite quickly in the TV producing industry.

She described how this woman was very pretty and very smart, and as a result, believed that the world owed something to her. Overall, it was a well-written, well-researched article. There was just one huge problem. Judith Newman revealed that she had convinced the source not to use her real name because of the potential problems that she would face after the article came out.

Now, I think that because the source wanted to use her name in the article, Newman should have used it. As journalists, we are taught that we should always use a source's name if we can get it. Newman had the name.

I suppose that her reason for withholding the source's name was noble, but I don't think it was Newman's responsibility to make sure the woman knew what the consequences would be. If the source was a smart woman, as Newman says, than she would have been able to foresee the consequences of using her name.

Journalism stories should be informative and journalists should strive to be honest with their audiences. Journalists have more of a responsibility to their readers, not their sources. I'm not saying journalists have no responsibility to their sources, but they shouldn't protect a source that doesn't want or need protecting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blogging is a commitment

Blogs can be hard to do. In theory, they aren't at all because all you seemingly have to do is think of something to say, and then post it. However, sometimes you just don't have anything to say that you believe is worth other people reading. Plus, real life activities can take up all of your time, so even if you do have something to say, you may not have time to say it.

Well, I just want to apologize to all of my readers for not posting in several weeks. My problem was a combination of having nothing to say, as well as no time to post, which resulted in an empty blog. And I know it is hard to follow a blog when there aren't regular posts.

One of my all-time favorite blogs, Beauty Addict, went without any posts for several weeks. I became quite discouraged when I logged on repeatedly and found nothing new. As a result, I hadn't logged on until today, and the only reason I even did today was to find the link for the blog. I didn't even know if it had any new posts.

Here, the blog's author stated that pressures at work were causing her to slack off with posting. Pressures with work and school will always be there, and if you really love something and want it in your life, you have to work around those pressures and make time to do what you love.

That said, I also have to start making time for my own beauty blog on the Daily Illini Web site. Part of the reason I haven't been posting there is that I don't have money to spend on beauty products and makeup right now. So I guess I'll just have to think of creative ways to post about beauty without spending money. I'm sure anyone reading will appreciate that, too, especially with the state of the economy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What to do with life

I know I'm not the only person in college who has worried about what they are going to do with his or her life, but now, senior year has brought about intense worries about the future. I know I love journalism, but now I don't know what I want to do with it. I used to think that I wanted to be a reporter, but now I'm not so sure.

I think that design is really interesting, and it would be awesome to get a job as a designer at a fashion magazine. However, I don't think I want to ever design at a newspaper. I think a newspaper's design is a lot less interesting than a magazine's, and that is where I would want to design. Plus, I adore looking at magazines for the design and photos; I think a lot of people do too. I really don't like all of the graphs that have to be made for a newspaper, and I know I would not want to do it, especially after we had to design a graph for graphics. There was just so much room for error, and almost every graph we critiqued in the class was not good. Magazines never have graphs, plus they have more artistic photos and are visually more appealing. I also just like them better!

I also think I would be interested in becoming an editor. I really like our editing class, and so far, I have been surprised to learn that it is interesting. Yet, I would still want to be an editor at a magazine, rather than a newspaper.

Basically, I don't want to write for a newspaper, but I'm pretty sure I'll end up at one to get some much needed experience for the magazine world.

(Now watch a recruiter find this blog and refuse to hire me for a newspaper! Maybe I should just go to law school....)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Random thoughts on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I just read a fantastic editorial that was on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Web site about a dad who is starting to deal with his daughter becoming a teenager. It is well-written, funny and best of all, while it is a topic that has been done so many times before, the author brought his own voice to the story and made me want to keep reading.

I love how instead of using her real name, he used a fake name. But he didn't just use a random girl's name - he chose the name Gustavo. He clearly pokes fun at a journalist's tendency to use fake names in a hilarious way while still keeping his daughter unnamed, giving her some protection.

He also was able to take simple concepts about a teenage girl and write about them in creative, entertaining ways. For instance, instead of simply saying that his daughter loved to have her picture taken he said, "Gustavo normally never met a camera she wasn’t in the mood to mug for. About the only time she’d refused to smile for a camera in the past was when she was actively vomiting or asleep with her mouth open."

That wasn't the only clever thing that he wrote, and I did not want to stop reading. But his writing style wasn't the only thing that made me keep reading.

I love how the Post-Dispatch did not make me click on a "next page" button to keep reading the article. I absolutely hate doing that, and would much rather scroll down to read a story. I don't understand why papers use that format because I learned in my graphics class that people are less likely to keep reading if they can't scroll down to see the rest of the words. I also learned that there usually isn't a spatial reason that these papers can't have the text continue on the same page.

I really think that online newspapers would have a more readers if they kept all of the words on the same page. So if I'm ever involved in the web design of a paper, I would suggest that readers have the ability to scroll down.

To see the article:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

LOOK HERE! Quiz Question Answer

Q: Why do some people believe that a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing is better than a Chapter 7?

A: Some believe that filing a Chapter 7 allows many individuals to rack up as much debt as they can, and simply wipe it all out with a Chapter 7 filing. There are few consequences for their actions.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ethical Quandaries

Would you run these photos?
What criteria did you you use to make a
Under what circumstances would you run the
Would your decision be different if the events
were local?
Does where or how you play the photo have
any bearing on your decision?
With which photo did you struggle the most?

These are the questions that editors must ask themselves to determine whether or not they would run an ethically questionable photo. Below are my responses for the photos that we had to look at in class.

"Dead Dog" photo: This is one of the more tame photos that we have in the bunch. I
would not run this photo, unless it had a significant news element. Perhaps something like drunk
driving. There is no reason to run a picture of a broken-hearted child unless his dog was hit by a drunk driver, which would raise awareness for the problems of drunk driving. I think that a photo would really capture how drunk driving can hurt so many. Yet, I think that I would hesitate to run it, even if there was a drunk driver, if I worked at a smaller paper with a smaller circulation. I think it would be sufficient to talk about the dead dog in the article, and there wouldn't be a need for the picture. I think that in a smaller community you are more likely to know those in the photo, and it would be really hard to see someone you know completely torn up over his or her dead pet. So I would run this in a larger circulation paper, if there was a drunk driver involved. While making this decision I thought about what it would be like to be
the little boy in the picture who lost his dog, and then saw it in the paper, or
the parents of the little boy. Again, I think that makes a difference in a small town setting. I would also say this photo would have to run as a still shot, if was going to run at all.

"Drowned Boy" photo: I would not run this picture. I think it is very intrusive and it really invades the family's privacy. There is no reason to run a picture of the dead boy. I might see
the logic in running the picture with the boy cropped out of it, but I personally would not run it at all. My decision would not be any different if this was a picture of a national event or a local event. When deciding whether or not I would run this photo, I thought of the family members once again. If I was at all related to this family, or knew this little boy, I would be shocked and angered to see this photo run in the paper. Again, I don't think there is any need to run

"Bud Dwyer" photo: This was the most shocking and disturbing photo to me simply because of the information that they believe this is when the bullet is in his brain. I literally cannot get his facial expression out of my mind, and I refuse to look at this picture for a long period of time. I don't think anyone should ever see someone kill himself or herself. I would not run this as a clip on TV, either. There is a possibility that I would run it as a video online with explicit warnings
to the viewers. However, I am not entirely sure I would even do that. This is the picture that I
struggled the most with. I would be angered and appalled to see it if I was a family member or knew him in any way (these words can't even convey the extreme emotion I would most likely feel). Yet, I understand why there are video clips of the suicide. I also understand that there is a news element here because he is a public figure. That's why I would consider running it on a Web site, again, with many warnings. This way, viewers would have to seek out the information. But, I still don't know for sure if I would run it online, and hope I am never faced with this kind of decision.

"Dead Plant Worker" photo: I would not run this photo either. I don't think there is a reason to show the photo of the dead body to convey that people were killed. You can get that information from the text. Again, I asked myself how I would feel if I was the family of the victim, and I know I would not want to see my relation lying dead on the floor. The photo is really unnecessary. I would not run this photo if it was a local event or a national event. I was even speaking with Drake (the other class) about this issue and he said that he thinks showing photos of dead bodies is necessary only if the death is a result of war. I completely agree because while this is a tragic event, it is not necessarily a national issue. (I also don't have a problem with the New York Times running the photo on the front page of the dead bodies in the water in the aftermath of Katrina. I think that people needed to be made aware of how awful the situation was there so people would want to help.)

"Fence Climber" photo: This photo was a little trickier, but I don't think I would run it. I can kind of understand the logic of wanting to run a photo if children climbing fences was extremely prevalent, and obviously, dangerous, but I still don't think this graphic of a photo is necessary. I think it would probably do a better job of warning people of the dangers than text would, but I think a description of the fall could still get the message across. It seems as if the picture would be used merely for shock value. For this picture, I didn't really consider how his family would feel if they saw it because I think it makes a difference that the boy is still alive. I would consider the family only if the boy had some sort of irreparable damage because it would be horrible to see how your relation was brain damaged or whatever the case may be. If I were to run it, I would be more likely to do so if it was a local incident because it seems like it would not be a newsworthy event to anyone outside of a local community.

"Mardi Gras" photo: This is another photo I struggled with, but decided I would probably run it- with the woman's face blurred if I was going to run the photo as is. However, I can't decide if I would crop the photo to eliminate any of the surrounding men. I realize that the majority of them are violating her, but I would hesitate to run it with their faces because some of them could be trying to help, and then this photo would be basically accusing them of assaulting her.
Then the paper could be sued for libel. I'm not sure how that would pan out in court, but I don't know if I would want to chance it because I think a cropped photo of just the naked woman and all of the hands could convey the same thing. Obviously, I thought of how the woman would feel if she saw this photo in the paper, but I don't think there is a clear answer. It would be distressing to see, but at the same time, if it was me, I might want people to know the horrible experience I had had, in order for a similar incident to be prevented in the future. That said, I'm not sure what good could actually come out of running this photo, except that maybe women would be more hesitant to participate in Mardi Gras celebrations. I would treat this photo the same way if it was a national or local paper because it is about an event that everyone in America knows about. I also don't know how I would treat this photo if I were deciding to run it online,
in the paper, or on TV. I think the libel question is really the biggest factor, and I know I would discuss this with other people to see what they thought.

Which brings up the importance of speaking with different people when you are confronted with an ethical quandary. It is really helpful to get many opinions because I know I would be hesitant to run something that no one else would run. Also, perhaps you are too close or too far removed from something and a different opinion could put things into perspective for you.