Media Writiing

The media: A different perspective

Media ‘agendas’ and ‘crappy’ reporting have been the topics of many Facebook rants and posts; even more so in the past couple of years. While valid points are often made, there is a lot more to the media than meets the eye. I know; because I was the media.

The Media From the Inside

I worked for a local news company for almost a year as both a reporter and a site administrator. This gave me a unique perspective on the news that I really hadn’t had before.

As a reporter, I saw all that goes into writing an article. As a site administrator I monitored comments and saw all the (very strong) opinions that readers had on how the reporting was done, what was being published, and why it was wrong or right.

There were a lot of things that I noticed readers consistently complaining about. Things such as updates weren’t coming fast enough, a certain photo shouldn’t have been used, not enough information was given, etc.

After spending a year sitting in a news room I saw all that goes into news production. I saw all the phone calls that had to be made to confirm one sentence. All the searches that had to be done to find one photo. I watched reporters work 60 hour weeks working on stories to then receive comments saying that it was ‘crappy reporting’.

Of course, there are sketchy sources, and reporters that don’t do their research; but what a lot of people don’t seem to realize is that the things that they complain about can, often, be easily explained.

WHy that photo?

Something that I see a lot of people get upset about is when a photo of a criminal that is shared with an article is a headshot or a Facebook profile picture rather than a mug shot.

While there are times when this is a conscious decision, there are also times when it is the only possible option.

Mug shots often have to be obtained from the police station. Sometimes the turnaround is quick, and other times it takes a couple of days. At that point most sources will opt to use a ‘nice’ photo of the criminal that they have found, or gotten permission to use, rather than having no photo at all.

This is just one example why a certain photo may be shown with an article.

When it comes to today’s news, a photo is necessary, people won’t give an article a second glance if there is no photo.

Sometimes a photo is easy to find or obtain permission to use, while other times it requires multiple searches and phone calls to make it happen.

Photos are often used because that is what is available, not because it fits the ‘agenda’.*

Lack of Information

In order to remain a credible source, reporters must use credible sources. This means that even if there are rumors about why an event happened, or details about that event, they cannot be published until they are confirmed.

If reporters included rumors heard from Joe down the street in their articles then they are no better than The Enquirer. A good reporter gets confirmation from the police department, Public Information Officers, witnesses, etc.

This means that when information is being withheld or updates are not given quickly, it is not necessarily an attempt to shape the publics’ opinion or hide something. The reason may simply be because the information has not been confirmed by the necessary sources.

In Conclusion

These are just a couple examples of misconceptions that I have seen from the other side.

I no longer work in the news business, but my time there taught me to give reporters the benefit of the doubt.

No, not all reporters deserve it. Sometimes there is an agenda, and reporting is biased. But there are a lot of people out there who truly are just trying to report the news.

It is important to remember that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in a news office and a lot of time and effort is put into what is released*. In the future, try to take a moment and see things from the reporters’ perspective before jumping to conclusions.

*DISCLAIMER: This does not apply to all reporters or all media sources. I am well aware that there are biased reporters, reporters that don’t put any time into what they publish, and certain sources that do have goals in mind other than informing the public of news. My explanations, obviously, do not apply to them. I am also aware that local media and national media are two different entities and that not all of my explanations may apply to national sources.

Travel

Making your ‘someday’ travel plans happen today

Everyone says they want to travel ‘someday’, but how does a struggling twenty-something with limited resources turn ‘someday’ into today?

Three friends and I recently booked a trip to the UK for this winter. None of us are super financially stable or have a ton of leave from work but we’re figuring it out as we go along. Below are a few ways that I have found to help me make my dreams of traveling ‘someday’ actually happen.

Don’t be afraid

Talking about traveling is easy. Booking the flight is a lot more nerve-wracking. I am an over-thinker and do not do well with big spontaneous trips (I can do day trips to the beach, 9 days in Europe is a little out of my spontaneity comfort zone). But if you have somewhere that you’ve always wanted to go, don’t let the fact that you don’t have it all figured out hold you back. Make the decision to go and you will figure out the rest as you go along.

Do your research

There is a lot to consider when traveling. If you do your research ahead of time you are likely to save a lot money and a lot of time that could be used for enjoying your time abroad.

Consider your different travel options (car, train, plane etc.) and choose the option that makes the most sense for you, both financially and time-wise.

Look into different housing options. If you are traveling in Europe there are hostels, AirBnBs, and hotels. Depending on the area you are staying in and how many people you are traveling with one may work better than another for your trip.

Look into the different costs that will come up while you are traveling. This includes public transportation, renting a car, food, activities, souvenirs, etc.

It is always better to do too much research than not enough. You do not want to get to another country and have no idea what you are doing.

PLan

Once you have done research on your trip you will have a better idea of what tourist activities you would like to do while traveling.

You (most likely) will not be able to do all that you want to do so you will need to prioritize what activities/sights are most important to you.

I am a planner so in order for me to fully enjoy my trip I need to have some kind of a schedule. This doesn’t mean having every second mapped out but it’s good to have a general idea of what activities you want to do each day and where you plan on going (if traveling to multiple areas). This gives you more time to enjoy yourself rather than worrying about what you will do next.

Budget

This is probably the hardest part of making travel actually happen. The cost of traveling can be daunting.

After doing your research and planning your trip you will have a better idea of the overall cost of your trip and what you need to do to prepare.

Look at the plan for your trip and create a budget for spending while you are away (it is a good idea to leave yourself a little cushion in case something comes up, or you just really need to buy that mug).  You will have to make choices on what you are willing to splurge on and where you will make cuts (for example: we opted for the cheaper flight with no extras (including entertainment) so we can do more while in the UK).

If you are like me, your funds are somewhat limited and that means that saving up ahead of time is a must. Pay attention to your spending prior to traveling and create a plan to save a certain amount each month to go into your trip fund.

Budgeting is one of the most important things you will do when funding your own travel adventures; but don’t make so many cuts that you don’t truly enjoy yourself. It’s better to spend the extra $20.00 and make an incredible memory than sit at the hotel alone while your friends go have fun.

Just Do It

As Nike would say, Just Do It. If you want to travel, what better time to do so than in your early twenties? This is the time when you have the most opportunity with the least responsibility. Don’t just say you want to travel ‘someday’ because it may never happen. Book the flight, reserve the AirBnB, do your research, plan the trip, and make memories.

 

Best Friend

An open letter to my ‘High School Best Friend’

Calling you my ‘high school best friend’ doesn’t really feel right. It doesn’t really fit. It doesn’t sum everything up and I feel like it kind of discounts the friendship that we had. You were my high school best friend, my college best friend, my always there for me best friend. You are so much more to me than my ‘high school best friend’ but I can’t find a word that really sums up what you were.

I’m not exactly sure when things started changing, but they did. We are now in two different places in our lives. Not in a bad way; just different. But I don’t want to talk about that right now. I want to talk about the good times.

Thank you

I don’t think I ever thanked you for everything you did, and I want to. Thank you for coming over at any hour of the day or night when I needed a friend. Thank you for needing me as a friend too. Thank you for making me sandwiches and chocolate milk after school. For pretending to study with me.  For taking classes just so we would have them together. For listening to me complain. For listening to me cry. For always taking my phone calls. For (almost) always taking my side. For telling me when I was being stupid and why you wouldn’t take my side.  For writing me notes. For picking me up for school when my parents took my car. For buying me taco bell. For driving around with me blasting music. For going on adventures. For sharing your drama with me. For all the girls nights and best friend dates. For being there through college. For celebrating my accomplishments. For hating everyone I hated. For visiting me at school. For not judging me for eating an entire cake, but eating it with me. For bringing me to your house. For coming to mine. For watching movies with me. For dancing around the room (badly) with me. For laughing with me until we cried. For ugly crying with me. For knowing me. For taking a million pictures. For making a million memories. For being there.

It’s oKay

Things may be different now. We aren’t very close anymore. We grew up and grew apart. It happens to people all the time, and it’s okay. I don’t have any hard feelings, and I hope you don’t either; because that’s the last thing I want.

I will never forget all of the good times we had. My life would not be the same without having had you in it. I have so many great memories with you, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Always

We may not be best friends anymore but I will always care about you, I will always answer your texts, I will always come pick you up from a party that got a little too crazy and I will always love you. You were one of the most important people in my life and I wouldn’t be who I am without you.

Sincerely,

Your ‘high school best friend’

The soundtrack to my life

People always say that they wish they had a soundtrack to their lives. But, if you ask me, we do.

The beginning of most of our soundtracks probably sound pretty similar. Mine is full of almost every Disney song in existence and TV show theme songs like Sesame Street and Barney.

As we get older our soundtracks become more personalized and carry more meaning.

There are songs that will remind you of middle school and dancing around your room with a hair bush microphone. There will also be songs that will remind you of big things in your life like graduating from high school, or little things like driving around with the windows down when you first got your license.

The coolest part about having our own soundtracks is that, although we get to choose some of the songs, a lot of the songs choose us.

There are hundreds of songs on my soundtrack. Some remind me of happy times, some remind me of heartbreak, some remind me of adventures with my best friend and some remind me of friendships that no longer exist. Music has a way of making you feel things. Sad things, happy things, great things.

Your soundtrack is special. No one in the world has the same soundtrack, though they may have a few of the same songs. The unique combination of songs, and the way the same exact line in a song can mean something so drastically different to two different people is something that only music can do, and I think that’s pretty incredible.

If you put together the soundtrack of your life what would be on it?

See a few of the songs on my soundtrack below:

  1. A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Cinderella
  2.  Honey I’m Home – Shania Twain
  3. Bouncing off the Ceiling – A*Teens
  4. Hips Don’t Lie – Shakira
  5. Waldorf Worldwide – Good Charlotte
  6. Defying Gravity – Wicked
  7. Days Go By – Keith Urban
  8. Beautiful Soul – Jesse McCartney
  9. When You Look Me in the Eyes – Jonas Brothers
  10. Pocketful of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield
  11. True Friend – Hannah Montana
  12. Today was a Fairytale – Taylor Swift
  13. Before the Storm – Jonas Brothers feat. Miley Cyrus
  14. Love Like Woe – The Ready Set
  15. Come on Get Higher – Matt Nathanson
  16. We’re All In This Together – High School Musical
  17. Wherever I Go – Hannah Montana
  18. If it Means a lot to You – A Day to Remember
  19. Oh Darling – Plug in the Stereo feat.Cady Groves
  20. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
  21. All Too Well – Taylor Swift
  22. Day One – Matthew West