Category Archives: Columns

Editor’s Column: Veterans Day Is Everyday

By Kassondra Granata

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

On November 11, 1919 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Veterans Day and seven years later on June 4, 1986, the U.S. Congress issued a resolution that on this particular day, there would be appropriate ceremonies to honor those who fought to keep our country safe.

Veterans Day, also referred to Armistice Day, has been acclaimed since the end of World War I to honor those who lost their lives during the war. Ever since elementary school, I have attended different memorial ceremonies, parades, and other events such as salutes at military cemeteries to honor our soldiers.

On Sunday, different media feeds such as Facebook and Twitter were swarmed with different statuses commemorating veterans and current soldiers for their hard work and valor. After sifting through a dozen, I stumbled on a couple statements made from another journalist I met last year at a conference in Seattle.

He put: “Ummm why are we thanking Veteran’s today for their service? Shouldn’t we do that everyday? Come on peeps.”

Seeing this sprung a memory dated back to fourth grade. I was sitting in my classroom, and my teacher told the class that we would not have school because of Veterans Day. After she explained to one of my classmates what the significance of the holiday was, I rose my hand and asked why they aren’t remembered everyday, and only one specific day.

I proposed the argument, even at age eight, that soldiers don’t think of us only once a year. They think about us back at home and our safety every day. So it would only be fair to them if those back at home did the same.

According to the Reporter Times, while the east coast was still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard posted themselves nearly 3,000 miles to assist their fellow Americans. The Navy sent large-deck ships off the shores of New York and New Jersey, where Marines, soldiers and Coast Guardsmen were busy rescuing storm victims, rebuilding ravaged areas and providing food and fuel.

This example, aside from the obstruction that they face on a day-to-day basis overseas, is one of the main reasons as to why we should be thankful for their services. These soldiers, young and old, put their lives on hold to do what they deem honorable for their country.

Three weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Newport with my close friends from high school. In front of a restaurant, there were two men outside, in uniform, waiting for their table to be called. These two men claimed simple “hello,” and a “thank you for serving us” from our group made their night 100 percent better than it was before. They were appreciative.

I am not saying that veterans and current soldiers are not appreciative that there is a national holiday set to pay homage to their service. What I am pressing is that take some time throughout your day to think about how privileged you are to be able to walk the streets safely, to have the divine right to voice your opinion. Remember their sacrifice everyday. They are warriors and lionhearted and care for this country more than their own lives. They do not fight because they hate what is in front of them, but they fight because they love what is behind them.

Editor’s Column: Journalists Must Retain Valor In Story Coverage

By Kassondra Granata

Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl, is known throughout the world as a teenage education activist. Yousafazi is from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunhwa province.

In 2009, Yousafazi wrote a blog for the BBC describing her life under the Taliban rule, outlining their attempts to take over the valley, and also advocating education for young girls. The New York Times proceeded to film a documentary on her life, and soon she began to give interviews in print and on television to those who were influenced by her bravery.

On Oct 9, Yousafazi was on her way home on a school bus when she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen. Doctors said that the bullet grazed Yousafazi’s brain and struck her just above her left eye, according to an article by BBC.

The Pakistani Taliban said it shot Yousafazi because she “promoted secularism.” To be secular, one must denote attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis. Another reason why the Taliban shot Yousafazi is because she called President Barack Obama her idol.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where Yousafazi is currently located, has received more than 4,000 letters of support for Yousafazi. According to an article published by BBC news Monday night, the hospital released a statement:

“Malala continues to make steady progress and is in a stable condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. She has now been in the hospital for one week, under the care of a specialist team from both the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Children’s hospitals.”
Because of this event, media all across the world have committed their time to covering Yousafazi’s recovery. Print publications, and TV stations have shown pictures of Yousafazi in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital surrounded by doctors.

Alongside the Taliban aiming to silence this young activist, it is also striving to silence journalists criticizing the attack in Pakistan. According to CNN, the statements that the Taliban is releasing is making it even more frightening to be a journalist in Pakistan.

Despite all of the threats, journalists in the area are still going to cover the story to its full potential. They are not going to let the Taliban thwart them from doing their job.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a group in New York that promotes press freedom around the world, more journalists were killed in Pakistan than in any other country in both 2010 and 2011. Threats not only come from just violent groups, but government agencies as well.

As a journalist, it is difficult not to be shaken up by this particular statistic. It is not uncommon, however, that journalists have been harmed for reporting the truth by those who are against it in some way. It is completely rational that journalists should continue to cover Yousafazi’s story as well as others that may follow under the hands of the Taliban.

One has to be thick-skinned to be a journalist. Under the job description, it cried out the word, “fearless.” Being a journalist requires the audacity to cover a controversial event, whether it may hit home or not. It requires the courage to go on the scene of a horrific incident and make sure it hits the stands the next day.

I commend journalists in Pakistan and other dangerous areas covering events and stories as grave as Yousafazi’s. In all honesty, if Malala Yousafazi is valiant enough to stand against the Taliban, then those reporting her story should follow her footsteps.

Editor’s Column: Central Park Five Controversy Will Never Be Forgotten

By Kassondra Granata

On April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili, a white investment banker was chased down, raped, and brutally beaten during a night job in Central Park in New York City.

Five juvenile males, four being African American and one Hispanic, were tried and convicted in 1990 for the crime. These culprits were known for assaulting strangers that soon became known as “wilding.” Four out of the five suspects, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, and Korey Wise confessed to the crime, but Yusef Salaam refused, and all were sentenced.

Within weeks, the four had retracted their statements and said that they were intimidated to make false confessions. No DNA evidence tied the suspects to the crime, so the case solely relied on confessions. Analysis even indicated later that the DNA collected at the crime scene didn’t match the suspects, and the DNA that was extracted came from an unknown person.

In 2002, Matias Reyes, formed a friendship with one of the five suspects while they were serving their sentences. Feeling guilty that an innocent man was in prison for something that he had done, Reyes confessed that he raped and beaten Trisha Meili that night in 1989.

Naturally, the media diligently covered the case and the wrongful conviction throughout the whole process. When the victims were released, Ken Burns and his daughter Sarah Burns took action. Sarah Burns, the author of The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of City Wilding, investigates the case, and gives it a narrative. The book is a phenomenal example about the a flaw that can occur in journalism, and also discloses an account that the city has tried to conceal.

Following the novel by Sarah Burns, her father Ken Burns produced a documentary about the case outlining the glaring error that the city made to five innocent adolescents. The documentary depicts the themes of discrimination, as well as the abysmal performance by New York City in carrying out this case.

The documentary, recently shown at the Chicago International Film Festival on Sunday, has been said to reopen the wounds that the city has tried so hard to conceal. New York City lawyers are now demanding Burns to turn over the footage before it is released in Manhattan Nov. 23. According to the New York Daily News, the city is trying to keep composure, for it is already facing a $250 million lawsuit for their wrongful conviction.

This whole debacle is extremely unethical. Not only has the city publicly hindered the First Amendment, but they are openly defending themselves. The fact that the city is attempting to seize the documentary will only make it look even more guilty. They should let their mistake be known, and take the consequences that they will receive.

I am appalled that this city would do this. The five victims will never be able to compensate all of the time that was wasted on the city’s end, so why not let them get some sympathy from the public? The city can try to bury this case into the ground all they want, but with the media, and other advocates on the Central Park Five’s position, it will continue to revive as one of the most controversial cases in American history.

Editors Column: Baseball Is An American Tradition

By Kassondra Granata

Three, very large, brightly wrapped packages laid before me waiting to be unwrapped. It was my eighth birthday and I was anticipating receiving some spectacular present. My grandfather smiled and told me that he was very excited to see the look on my face when I opened these gifts.

In what seemed like three seconds, I stared at the piles of soccer equipment that sat before me. I had pink cleats, some athletic clothing, and a sparkly pink soccer ball. I gave my grandfather my million dollar smile as he told me he signed me up for soccer camp in the summer. There was not one ounce in my body that gave me any inclination to play soccer, but I went to the camp regardless.

I will openly admit that I have no athletic ability. I can throw a football and pass a soccer ball, but when it comes to any sort of physical exertion, my body repels it.
I lasted at soccer camp for two hours. I remember walking onto the field and getting a confused look from my gym teacher, who immediately knew that this was not something I signed up for.

At my elementary school, I was known as the abnormally short girl who would constantly sit out during sports activities. I would give the gym teachers attitude if I was told to run a lap around the track, for I already ran around the track last week. Seemed logical at the time, but now I completely understand why my gym teacher laughed when he called my name on the roster.

The only vivid memory I have from soccer camp, besides my encounter with my gym teacher, was the incredible amount of complaints I made to my teammates and coach. I was extremely dehydrated, and it was too hot for me to run around, so I needed to rest every 10 minutes. Like I said, I lasted two hours before I cracked and had to be picked up.

Although I am incompetent when it comes to actually participating in sports, I am a fully committed spectator, especially during baseball season. Baseball is by far one of my favorite sports. Some may argue that baseball is too slow paced, and requires no form of vigorous effort, but I disagree to the highest extent. Watching baseball is entertaining; I never find myself in a dull moment.

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the oldest spectator team sport in the nation. History is made every season and a viewer is very likely to witness a player reaching a milestone in their career. With Baseball, there’s no time limit, which can be seen as an issue from those who deem the sport as too mundane. Because there is no time limit, the game is always unpredictable. Baseball players also aren’t always known for overstepping their boundaries if they make a great play or score. You usually don’t see an egotistical remark or gesture from the players. Sure, power and momentum is a big factor in the game of baseball, but the game is extremely egalitarian.

The New York Yankees have been my favorite team for as long as I can remember. Growing up with three uncles and my grandfather as Yankee fans, it was difficult not to find myself sitting in the living room watching a game. The Yankees are now playing in the post-season led by the Captain, shortstop Derek Jeter coming off from a 216-hit season, and powered by Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and newcomer Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees took the opener, 7-2 with the help of Sabathia and their five run rally in the ninth inning.

Baseball certainly has the most devoted fans. Baseball enthusiasts will pick their team and stick with their team no matter how many times they are let down. Just look at the Red Sox.

Editors Column: “Apple Picking” Sweeping The Nation

By Kassondra Granata 

Apple released their newest product the iPhone 5 on Sept. 21, selling up to 5 million units throughout the first three days of its availability. Just like the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 starts at $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 34GB model, and $399 for the 64GB prototype.

According to many different media outlets, the new product has created an app store “boom,” being the fastest selling iPhone in history.

Alongside the increase of sales of Apple products, the toll of theft, termed as “apple picking,” has skyrocketed in the past year. According to the Huffington Post, Apple thefts have soared to 40 percent. In The New York Post, an article estimated that that Apple crime has jumped 55 percent.

NYPD announced that more than 11,400 Apple gadgets have been stolen this year. Around New York City, stationed officers were placed outside 21 different stores to assist buyers in registering their devices when they purchased the iPhone 5. Paul Browne, a spokesman for the department, said that about 1,500 phones were registered on the first day.

According to Apple Insider, Apple-related thefts have succeeded other crimes in New York City such as murder, rape and robbery. Because of this, “Anti-Apple Picking” campaigns have spread across the nation to heighten the monitoring of these thefts.

Apple should deliberate on how expensive their products are as an underlying reason to why these “iCrimes” exist. Browne said that there has been a rise of 3,280 Apple thefts during 2011. There must be a pattern. As Apple products continue to expand, so does its price. More customers cannot afford it, so stealing is their next option.

The mania of consumers and Apple products has always been a fascination of mine. Every time a new product is put on the market, headlines of different news avenues have something to say about its popularity. What is hard to comprehend is why owning an Apple product is so prevalent?

As a disclaimer, I currently do use a MacBook Air for work-related purposes that was bought and paid for by The Recorder. I do agree that it is a high quality device with many different perks.

However, I would not waste my time standing outside of an Apple store rain or shine to be one of the first ones to purchase a product, nor do I deem it eminent enough to join in this latest trend.







Editors Column: Exhibitions Are The World’s Biggest Attractions

By Kassondra Granata

This weekend, a group of good friends and I took a trip to the Big E. After discovering that I have never been to the Big E, and my appreciation of the season, the group believed that it was a must that I experienced it.

I was beyond excited the whole ride up, anticipating the new experience. I was told about the attractions at the Big E, and that it is nothing that I have been exposed to before. Needless to say I had high expectations.

The Big E, also known as The Eastern States Exhibition, began in 1917 and is deemed to be New England’s greatest state fair. Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont are the states represented in the exhibition. In each state house, one can view the vendors and exhibits that portray each state. The apple crisp in the Vermont house is to die for.

While I was walking around, I noticed that the framework of the grounds reminded me a lot about the Chicago World’s Fair. Over the summer, I read a book titled, “The Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson.

In this novel, Larson intertwines two nonfictional stories of two very different characters into one narrative. Larson brings Chicago circa 1893 to life unfolding the story of the World’s Fair and recounting the two stories of Daniel Burnham, the architect behind the fair, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, a serial killer who used the fair as a ploy to bring in his victims.

The World’s Fair was one of the most admired events at that time, for the United States aimed to surpass the French Exhibition in Paris. They created the World’s Fair to commemorate Columbus and his discovery of the “new world.”

Chicago was chosen to hold the fair due to it’s developmental status. At the time, Chicago was known as one of the most industrialized states in the nation, and the team built up Jackson Park into the infamous fair.

The World’s Fair in Chicago introduced many different monumental products, such as Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit, the Ferris Wheel, and other events such as Columbus Day and the Pledge of Allegiance. Walt Disney’s father, Elias, also worked on the fair, and thus inspired Walt when he was constructing his own famous theme park.

At the end of October, a group of The Recorder staff and I will be visiting Chicago for the National College Media Convention. There, we will attend sessions to learn more about producing a high-quality publication and grow as journalists. I hope to have the opportunity to take a dive into history there and be able to visit Jackson Park and see where all of these events actually took place. It’s going to be a memorable trip.

The Big E was a beautiful sight. The different crowds, the delicious food, and the company made my experience unforgettable. It definitely started out my falltivities season with a bang.








Editor’s Column: Freedom Of Expression Is A Delicate Issue

By Kassondra Granata

On September 17, 1787, the delegates met at the Constitutional Convention for the last time to sign the document that would stand as the backbone of our nation.

Under the First Amendment, it states that congress is not allowed to make any laws regarding religion, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and so on. The First Amendment protects the freedom of individuals.

There have been violent protests this past week triggered by the anti-Islam film that was released. The California man that was believed to be the creator of the film brought chaos to the Muslim world, resulting in demonstrators attacking U.S Embassies in Yemen and Egypt. In Libya, our country lost an ambassador, Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The video, entitled, “Innocence of Muslims,” mocks the prophet Mohammed and also deems Muslims as violent, immoral individuals, according to a report by Fox News. One Internet regulator, Google, has blocked the video from Indonesia, Libya, India, Egypt, and other countries in the Western World.

The video has been blocked from all media outlets. Protestors are enraged by this film, and it has been reported that many are forming riots in response. In Indonesia, police fired tear gas and water cannons to scatter demonstrators who gathered outside of the U.S Embassy in Jakarta, the capitol of the most populated Muslim nation. Much of the uproar and blame is directed towards the United States. Muslims are blaming the U.S for what they consider an attack on the Muslim religion. People from Afghanistan and Indonesia are burning U.S flags and chanting, “Death to America.”

This event along with the backlash rises many questions. One is how limited should we be when it comes to posting our beliefs on religion and other religious practices? For years now, the Western World has dealt with incidents where religion and it’s flexibility of opinions come into play. There have been countless circumstances, such as this one, where the uncertainty of how a topic as fragile as this should be covered.

It is arduous to put a restraint on what individuals can post or voice on media outlets. Freedom of expression should be closely observed, as it was in this situation. If there is a citizen that wishes to post against a certain religion or background, they are entitled to that right. Significant Internet channels and other important forces can monitor those posts to inhibit judgments that could create a catastrophe.

It is extremely difficult to determine what can be censored, and what is protected under the First Amendment.

Everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint, and they have the right to voice it. If it is distasteful and will result in mayhem, then it needs to be removed from the public eye.