Monday, April 15, 2013

Belated Blog Posts

Because it inconveniently slipped my mind that I was supposed to do a blog post after every article, here is a compilation of my thoughts for the 4th, 5th, and 6th articles -- all wrapped up into one neat little package

Article Four: Banned4Life
For my fourth article, I decided to take a look at one nursing student's attempts to shine a little light on the FDA's ban on men who have sex with other men donating blood to blood drives and the Big Red Bus that camps out on the school grounds every now and then. You can read the article for all the details, but writing this article really just taught me a lot about using public resources such as Facebook for information and media. As it was, this article was written over Spring Break so setting up a time to meet with my professional source (Blake Lynch, founder of the website) proved to be a bit more difficult than I anticipated. The interview was conducted over the phone and even that wasn't much help---he basically told me to find everything I needed for the article online. Quotes and all: So that's what I did. He gave me permission, so much of my information came from his website. Media came from Facebook and I had to reach out to people who aren't students to get decent quotes, including a student from a school in Tennessee and a Gay Rights Activist I met at Publix. Overall, this article taught me how to use what's available when you don't have much else to go for and how starting an article early and allocating time for rewrites really is the best way to go about this writing thing.

Article Five: News At School
Article number five (why did I just think mambo number 5? Anyway) really stretched my interviewing skills. And I learned about something that all journalists must learn at one point or another: do not use leading interview questions. It all started out harmless enough, I was sitting at the Heathrow Campus when I over heard someone complaining about the news shown at school and went from there with my article, trying to work out if students wanted the news constantly playing or if they wanted something else. My interviewing led me around the Heathrow Campus, asking for various opinions and eventually I had to talk to Jay Davis, head of Media Relations at the college. I e-mailed him some questions and was unceremoniously reprimanded by Jennifer for asking leading questions. Still, the article was done in time and the questions were answered and I ended up with a great article. But I did learn how to ask questions and I learned that face to face interviews tend to be a little better than e-mail correspondence (Even if the recordings of the interviews accidentally end up on one or two music playlists on my phone)

Article Six: Connections on School Campus
My final article, I have to say, was one of my favorites. Because, at this point, I had figured out what my voice was: pissing people off and making them think. After my previous article, I got chewed out by a couple of students who thought the news being shown at school was great and that the higher ups do listen to the student voices. At first I was shaken, but then I laughed (manically? Possibly. But you weren't there, so maybe it was just a harmless little chuckle) and figured that my voice was questioning what was being said and making people think---Is this REALLY what they meant? Taking that into consideration, I tackled the next story with the angle of why is the school blocking the use of programs like Spotify and World of Warcraft. Only after a little research did my article change. I e-mailed the people in charge of the wireless connections at the Sanford Campus and received an interesting bit of information 'Budget Constraints'. And guys? After I heard that, I packed up and went to town and probably made an enemy or two along the way. I asked the questions people didn't think of, got some really nice quotes from some frustrated students and proved against my professional source why some of the things said were just a little bit...nonsense? Something to that effect. The end result was a great article that required no edits. None. (alright, I did have to change the lead a bit but I didn't get my draft back with 50 red marks on it). I definitely think this, along with the article that came before it, are my two favorites simply because I figured out exactly how to write.

- Ashley Collier

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