Category Archives: Editorials

Journalists Experience Trauma Too

There were many people who went to the 2014 Boston Marathon to heal. For runners and spectators alike, the race was a moment for the population to stand up for itself.

Along with the people who attend and participate in the event, there are those who are not commonly perceived as traumatized by incidents of this magnitude.

Journalists were among those who were on the finish line of last year’s marathon and near the subsequent explosion. Normally the Boston Marathon is a day of exciting photography and storytelling triumph.

Last year, it turned to one of tragedy, when two bombs exploded near the finish line. As the bombs detonated, a man who had just finished the race collapsed due to the shockwave from the blast.

One photo-journalist began snapping pictures as the chaos began. He then took what became an iconic photo: the collapsed older runner with three police officers above him moving swiftly into action.

This photojournalist, John Tlumacki, has been covering the Boston Marathon for 21 years and has been at the finish line for the last six of them.

Tlumacki took approximately 2,000 pictures that day and he regretted it as soon as it was over. About 200 of the photos he took were of the aftermath of the bombing.

“Then I felt horrible. I felt I took advantage of people when they were down. That night was the worst night of my life, just reliving that whole scene over and over and over again,” said Tlumacki in an interview with USA Today.

Tlumacki’s story is a stark reminder of the fact that the media is made up of individuals, or people just as human as those whose lives they document.

He felt horrendous about the photos he had made. Tlumacki said that in the days following the blast he didn’t know if the people had had made pictures of were dead or alive.

But Tlumacki was surprised with the response he received from those who he had photographed. Despite the fact that his photos portrayed these people in the most graphic manner possible, people wanted to meet him.

It was through connections like this that Tlumacki was able to heal from the mental trauma he had incurred during last year’s marathon. He, like the thousands of others who were affected that day, used this year’s marathon as a sort of final piece towards his recovery.

Tlumacki is not the only journalist who was haunted by the horrible events he has covered.

Coolumbia University runs a program called the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. There is also a center in Europe.

“”[They] stay on target, stay on mission and do wonderful, wonderful work and stay balanced for a long time. But you can’t carry on walking a tightrope forever. You need to take some rest and you need to get away from the job,” said Gavin Rees, director of the Dart Centre Europe for Journalism and Trauma, in an interview with Teresa Fitzherbert, a student in the Magazine MA journalism course.

She refers to the trend of journalists who cover stressful events and do not seek treatment or their own personal healing. While most emergency response professions have a system for dealing with trauma, journalism does not have this same safety net. Even though Tlumacki was able to heal on his own, his is a more rare example.   In what is considered the most stressful profession in the world, there needs to be a fall back for journalists who may be suffering from conditions as minor as a little anxiety to as severe as PTSD.

UCONN R.A. Tries to Calm a Crowd; Backfires

In the days leading up to the final match between the two UConn basketball teams, a resident assistant sent a sharply worded to those who live on his floor.

The email, simply signed Derek, informed residents on his floor that any celebration of the games would not be tolerated.

“I’m on duty tonight and it’s going to be stressful, so please don’t push it on our floor,” said Derek. This request was fair enough, but what followed turned from a simple request to downright insulting.

In the end, remember that the only reason you care about the game is:
a.) because they’re wearing a UConn uniform
b.) you want an excuse to go wild

It was getting worse, but it still wasn’t that bad. Then Derek typed this next line.

“If it’s the first one, you’re cheering for laundry,” said Derek in his email.

That is beyond disrespectful, not only to the students he is addressing, but to the university and the athletes.

Derek seems to have forgotten the hours of work these athletes have put into their sport. It’s not just “laundry” to these students. It’s more than a uniform. It is a lifestyle for them.

Whether or not you agree with the hype that surrounds “March Madness,” it is impossible to deny that these students have gone above and beyond simply being student athletes. It is not “laundry” that makes it to the final game of the most talked about college sporting event. It is the blood, sweat and tears of people inside those uniforms.

The RA, Derek, seems to have really had an unfortunate lapse in judgement when he hit the send button on that email sent to all students on his floor – dismissing the UConn team as inferior, compared to whatever status he may hold as an RA. Tonight, UConn men may once again become the national champion mens basketball team in the NCAA tournament. If you have the balls to say that a team of that status is equivalent to laundry, the smidgen of clothing they wear whilst performing, then I don’t even want to delve into what the equivalent of a Residence Hall Assistant is. Derek seems to have forgotten that the UConn team, and their collective of dedicated, hard-working players, who practice ruthlessly daily, are the very same people who have brought tons of attention to Connecticut athletics, championship rings, and much more. The money the team has helped generate for UConn could be some of the same money he receives in his measly RA paychecks. Not to mention the incredible number of players UConn has morphed into star professional NBA basketball players.

Derek’s statements to his residence hall were likely well intended, yet once he deviated from his original request for students to simply not go too crazy over the game, he added a lot of insult to an already sensitive situation. Students wouldn’t take lightly to being demanded to abstain from enjoying the biggest game they may ever experience in their lifetimes, which is why Dereks plan will likely backfire, and bring him the opposite of the result he originally asked for.

Too Young to Stress College Debt

College is expensive; everyone knows that. And it isn’t getting any cheaper. Tuition all over the country is only increasing and so is the number of students stressed about it.

H&R Block recently put out a press release highlighting the amount of stress that teens have about finances. The survey that they conducted consisted of about 1,000 teenagers between 13 and 17 years old, focusing on the financial mind-set of young adults.

It was found that eight out of 10 teenagers are worried about finding a good job and 78 percent are already worried about their potential student loan debt.

These students are only in high school; some still in middle school. This means that the youngest of the students surveyed will not attend their first year of college until 2019, or five years from now.

Between the 2011-12 and 2014-15 school years – the length of an undergraduate bachelor’s degree – CCSU increased tuition by a total of 12.9 percent, a year-by-year average of just over three percent.

At that rate by 2019, when the youngest of those surveyed would be entering college, tuition would be increased by just over 16 percent and would potentially increase the four years they would be there.

There’s always the possibility that increases won’t be that much per year or even every year. And each college or university may handle the situation differently, maybe choosing to stop tuition increases.

Yet despite these possibilities, students are clearly still stressing about their future education that’s two to five years away. Though it is good for teens and young adults to learn about money and financial situations, this stress can be overwhelming. And since the youngest surveyed won’t even be working for a few more years, the stress they are facing is unhealthy.

H&R Block Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Collins believes that today’s economic realities are bringing not only stress but also pressure to people of such a young age. “Our survey shows 57 percent of teens use their own money on purchases, yet they often lack fundamental money management skills. The good news is, the research clearly illustrates a desire to learn.”

Managing money and planning financially is something that young teens should learn early on. However, the idea of being in debt over 10 years into the future shouldn’t be something a student just entering high school should have to be worrying about.

The survey showed that even though 97 percent of students still plan on going to college, a large majority (78 percent) worry about borrowing too much money in loans. Eighty-six percent of teens think it is more important than ever to choose a major that leads to a well-paying job.

From 2008-2012, national student debt at the time of college graduation had increased 6 percent, averaging at $27,000 per borrower. This will only increase as schools continue to increase their tuition on a nearly yearly basis.

Almost half of the older teens said that the determining factor of where, or if, they attend college will be the cost.

And even should they decide to make the commitment to higher education, the continued recession and general jobless climate in America, should it continue,  will make it increasingly difficult to find work after graduation.

The New York Times reported that college graduates have suffered the smallest unemployment rates of any section of the population. But those jobs often don’t require the college-level skills learned by the graduate. Oftentimes the jobs aren’t even related to what someone majored in.

What becomes clear is that something needs to be done about the rising cost of college tuition. As students are increasingly relying on these higher institution to land them future employment, it seems counterproductive to continue forcing them to saddle higher and higher levels of debt.

When Breaking News Becomes Broken

If anyone hasn’t heard there was a plane that disappeared in East Asia; that was sarcasm obviously. But unless you’ve been living under a rock or don’t watch the news, but you should because it’s good to be informed when certain events happen, there was a plane traveling from Malaysia to its intended destination of Beijing, China.

 

It was reported on March 8, 2014 that the plane, a Boeing 777-200ER, disappeared and as of March 24 the plane still has yet to be found, but according to the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak it is believed that the plane is somewhere in the South Indian Ocean.

 

Since the disappearance of the plane the news has been reporting on this story nonstop. Cable News Network (CNN) is an example, and they have been reporting this since the genesis of the story which ended being a boon to their ratings increasing 100% according to an article, written on March 17th, in the New York Times.

 

As good as that sounds, it’s not all what it is made out to be. CNN has been milking this story to no end. Between showing pictures of the open water, to having a toy model plane, to having many different people on the network with several different conspiracy theories, it has all been over reported.

 

It seems that CNN has its priorities in a twist because as tragic as this story is, there really isn’t anything that new to be developed to the point where it’s given top billing over other issues, such as the ongoing Ukraine crisis or how the planet is slowly melting to a point which it could mean disasters to extreme degree for certain parts of the world.

 

A senior CNN executive said that CNN President, Jeff Zucker, had been directing the network to report stories of “intense interest.” The executive also said, “One way to define ourselves is to go all-in on stories of human drama.”

 

What the executive fails to realize is that over reporting a story with only so much facts behind it turns it into a media freak show where everything is over hyped, especially when the story is a sad one, which is insulting the families of the victims.

 

This story has to be reported, yes, but if there is nothing else new to the story then why drag it out for so long? Why can’t CNN and any other news network doing this understand that when the story is dry move on to the next important story that’s actually worthy of the phrase “breaking news.”

 

News networks like CNN have forgotten the journalistic integrity of reporting, especially in cases of tragedies, the news in either favor of stories like this one where the weight of the story is only so much compared to other news stories of great importance that get overlooked or go unreported all together.

 

Hopefully reporting in this fashion will not be the norm and the integrity of the news can be restored.

 

 

Interning: A Costly Experience

For years, students looking to get a summer credit-bearing internship have been forced to pay the high cost of interim session credits like any ordinary class. This may be changing; since prominent schools such as New York University and Columbia are changing their student internship rules that better comply with national labor laws.

According to the New York Times, NYU announced that they will now explicitly instruct employers that post internships on their job site to make sure that they follow the Labor Department’s guidelines and will delete posts that do not comply.

Columbia University is planning to stop offering college credit to students for internships. This being their method to take away the justification companies used to explain that they don’t need to pay their interns since they’re receiving credits for the work they do.

This is college credit that students pay for themselves. Students are essentially paying a minimum of $1000 to intern at a company for a summer. At Central Connecticut State University, students are charged $1,309 for three credits, which is the category most internships fall under.

A lot of the majors at CCSU require an internship for credit. These internships require students to work all day, all summer, in hopes of creating reliable contacts for future jobs. But students are not paid for all the hard work they do. Instead, the students have to pay for the work with no guarantees for employment when they leave.

An internship should benefit the intern. Not the company, not the university. It’s meant to be an experience for the student that benefits them with a skill set that the classroom cannot give them; something they can bring with them into the real world when they go out to find their first job.

This issue has arisen in the news before. In November of 2012, a class action law suit was filed against Hearst Corp., who owns several major magazines. Those former interns claimed that the company exploited their work over a period of six years.

In another high-profile case, Fox Searchlight Pictures was found guilty for violating New York labor laws with two of their interns, who essentially acted as employees. The judge also added that the interns weren’t placed in an educational environment and only the company benefited from their work.

Time Magazine claims that this lawsuit represents the end of unpaid internships as we know them. The Poynter Institute, which has done extensive research on the subject, said that one of the requirements of an unpaid internship is that it benefits the intern only, giving them experience. The company cannot use an intern to replace a normal paid employee.

Yet, this is exactly what many companies that employ interns do. They send the intern to do their dirty work or exploit them when they make mistakes, which give them no benefit.

CCSU should take into consideration what other universities like NYU and Columbia have, making internships available for students as something to do in their free time over a summer that would benefit the intern, and only the intern.  The steep price of paying for college classes can deter some students from ever pursuing a degree in which a credit-bearing internship is required.

Content or Cash?

The editors of the University of Massachusetts student newspaper, the Daily Collegian, made a difficult choice in one of their most recent issues.

Instead of a full front page of news content, complete with stories and pictures, the Collegian ran a full page advertisement in lieu of tradition.

When this topic was brought up amongst our editorial staff, there was a great deal of conflict over whether the Collegian’s Editor-in-Chief made the right decision.

We were divided. Was the ad an example of innovation or a blatant disregard for journalistic standard?

With a little more digging, we had decided. This was a destruction of traditional journalism.

“We’d be lying if we said times weren’t a bit tough and all is not so quiet on the financial front,” said Stephen Hewitt, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Collegian, in defense of his decision to run the ad.

The newspaper is certainly having funding issues; they have recently reduced daily circulation and eliminated the Friday edition of the paper. The front page advertisement is just one piece of the puzzle for solving their financial woes, according to Hewitt.

But not everyone sees it that way.  There is a public Facebook thread in which former members of the Daily Collegian had harsh words for the current editorial staff.

“A steep price to pay for a few extra bucks,” said Paul Bradley, who worked for the Daily Collegian in the past.

There then was a comment about the placement of the paper’s slogan.

“And the worst thing is the pain of seeing the paper’s slogan in the corner in this context: ‘A free and independent press,’ ” said Teresa Hanafin, another former staff member.

In Hewitt’s letter explaining the front page, he noted that the ad may raise red flags. But it truly raises them in the wider context of journalism.

Is it acceptable to compromise content for a few extra dollars?

The front page has long had a history as the face of the newspaper. So what does having an ad as the paper’s face say? Is the press as “free and independent” as the Collegian’s logo claims?

While the need to innovate is certainly understandable, the move was far too drastic, especially for a paper that “is in a rather uniquely fortunate position, with a community that remains vested in supporting collegiate journalism,” as Hewitt claims of the Collegian.

The Daily Collegian ultimately had nothing to gain from this ad other than revenue; an ad which offered nothing to the readers.

While the plight of print is well-documented, sacrificing the front page of the paper for a few dollars of ad revenue seems like a small splash in the pond. The world of journalism is constantly changing, but a move like this is a step in the wrong direction, no matter the price.