Questions for Speaker

April 19, 2009

1. I know that you also applied to work at the Baltimore Sun. Did you apply to work at any other newspapers?

2. What is a typical day like for you working at the Smithsonian?

3. How did you find out about the job there?

4. What is the most useful thing that you learned in school that you can apply to your current job?

5. Do you see yourself working in news in any way in the future?

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Research-Spring Clean Up

April 19, 2009

For my research post this week I read an article about the citywide spring clean up  in the Baltimore Sun. The article focused on clean ups taking place in Reservoir Hill and Park Heights, but neighborhoods throughout the city participated in the clean up.

In one section of the story the author mentions that residents of Park Heights are replacing a former heavily littered area with a community garden. At the Towson University Environmental Conference last week, one presenter spoke about the various community gardens that Baltimoreans are creating all over the city. If I had more time in the class, or possibly wanted to create and additional text module I think the community gardens would be interesting. If I can find out the location of some of them I may include them on a google map.

The residents interviewed in the story all seem to believe that Baltimore is getting cleaner.  They compare the current year’s clean up to clean ups that have happened in the past years and all seem to agree that while the neighborhoods definitely still have trash and litter, there does seem to be some progress being made. I think the theme of my project is similar. While its is harder and often slower to go green in the city, it can be done.

Reaction-text and online reading

April 19, 2009

For the text portion I read Made for the Medium. This chapter focuses on photojournalism, and how to tell a story and make it interactive for readers with photos. This reading teaches the value of the slide show and how in many instances the slide show can be more practical and interactive than either reading the story in a newspaper or watching it on television. From this reading I was able to gain a little more insight into the value of a slide show and ways to make the slide show appear more interesting. One thing that I wonder about is the fact that the author kept tauting the benefits of the slide show because of the poorer quality of video online. I couldn’t see when this was written, but in my opinion, video online is pretty easy to watch. While I do think that there are many times when slides would work better than video, I wonder if slide shows will become less popular as online video progresses.

Although I don’t know that I would ever attempt anything of this caliber, The Crossing showed me a good example of how to make a long, complicated story into an interesting multimedia presentation. The story was divided into more than 30 chapters, but the ability to move from chapter to chapter, the pictures of those involved, and the compelling story itself kept my attention.

Research-Tree Plantings

April 12, 2009

This week, I read a story about a large scale tree planting in Harford County that appeared in the Baltimore Sun. Volunteers in Harford County planted 900 trees to recognize Arbor Day in Maryland in Harford County Park. This story seemed very typical of any story about tree planting other than the fact that it was tied to Arbor Day, which I knew nothing about. The story was also made more interesting by the facts that it included about the benefit that planting one tree offers to the environment.

I also found this story interesting because while at the environmental conference I learned more about the process of tree plantings. I learned that a certain number of the trees planted during projects such as this die after they are planted. Some of this would happen naturally, regardless of the circumstances. However, I also learned that the very young trees that are planted also need a lot of care to be able to mature and grow, and often the resources and staff are not there to maintain the trees after they are planted. It made me question why the trees are being planted if there is no one that is going to work to ensure their success. It is just interesting to me because it goes along with what I seem to be finding more and more throughout the course of this project. Green initiatives often seem to have good intentions, but have to rely on the right resources to back them up or they will fail.

Reporting-Information on Baltimore City Initiatives

April 12, 2009

This week I attended the Environmental Conference at Towson University to see if I could get some more information for my project. I was particularly interested in the information about environmental initiatives in Baltimore City. I spoke with two people who gave me very good information on where to look for upcoming stories.

I spoke with C. Ryan Patterson of the Parks and People Foundation who told me about various community gardens that residents have set up around Baltimore City. Parks and People itself has a city-wide initiative to plant trees in neighborhoods throughout the city. One of the ways that they are doing this is by providing free trees to Baltimore City residents.

I also spoke with Keith LoSoya, the Executive Director of the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance. During his presentation, Losoya spoke of Baltimore’s plans to design a trash system similar to that of the one in San Francisco where there would be landfill trash, recycling, and compost pick up each week. After his presentation I asked Losoya whether he had any information as to whether the single stream recycling program that was set up in the city last year had resulted in any increase in the number of people recycling. He said that it had not and basically said that there are two groups of people in the city; those who are very interested in sustainability and those who are not and the challenge is trying to get the message across to those that are not.

Questions for speaker

April 12, 2009

1. What is the most useful thing that you think that you’ve learned through your internship

2. Do you see yourself as having a future as an employee with the Post.

3. Have you made any connections that you think will be helpful to you if you don’t decide to pursue a job with the Post.

4. Are you able to apply anything that you have learned as a student to your position as an intern.

5. Does the staff at the paper give you any advice on what they think the future will hold for those looking for a job in this field.

Reaction-10,000 words maps

April 12, 2009

The first interactive map that I viewed on the 10,000 words website accompanied the story of the 2007 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. The map is simply an aerial photo of the bridge with numbered points marked on the bridge where different incidents involving the collapse took place. By clicking on the numbers, you can see an enlarged picture of the section of the bridge and a caption describing what took place there. The map is simple. There are only six points on the map, but it is a useful addition to the story and helps me to really understand the horrific nature of what happened that day by plotting out the separate devastating events that took place over a relatively short stretch of land.

The second map was a map of the Binghamton shootings which maps out the various points in the building that the shooter went through and provides captions of what he did at each point. Maybe it is just my own personal preference or opinion, but I thought the map did more to sensationalize the violence of the story than to add to my understanding of it. In the previous map, the collapse of a bridge and how that bridge managed to collapse is somewhat hard to understand and visualize. However, when the story states that people were forced into a closet and killed I can understand that. Having a map, and especially having a map where at the end it shows the fake people turning red as they are shot with bullets, does nothing to help me understand the situation and makes the whole shooting almost look like a video game.

The third map, which maps the location of a bear attack, is simply a google map that shows the location of the attack and gives the option to click on points in the map like the site of the actual attack. This one is useful to a story like this because if bears are attacking I can imagine the most important thing would be to know the location.

Reporting-Eco-Festival

April 5, 2009

This week, instead of doing research for my next text module I focused on trying to put things in place for my slide show. I had one idea for a slide show initially which would be a grand opening celebration during earth week, but because that takes place so close to the time that our slide show is actually due, I wanted to try to have another slide show option that I would have more time to work on ahead of time. I may still attend the grand opening celebration and put together a slide show of that as well, but that would be in addition to this one.

I spoke with Christine Truett of the Living Classrooms Foundation about an environmental festival held each year with Baltimore City School children in Farring Baybrook park in Baltimore City. As part of their science curriculum, the students learn about the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Toward the end of the year the students, who are all fifth graders, take part in an environmental festival in the park where they plant trees and participate in clean ups. There are also booths at the festival from places like the National Aquarium, that bring animals or games for the students to see and particulate in. Christine also said that the students’ parents sign a waiver before they participate in the festival that authorizes photos of the students to be used, so the fact that they are minors should not be an issue when taking the photos.

Reaction-Spam Wars

April 5, 2009

For my critique I read “Spam Wars” on the MSNBC website. I thought that in general the story sections were well written and informative. The author took spam, a topic which doesn’t seem like it would be interesting at all, and turned it into a story that is informative and relevant. Anecdotes, such as the story of Mary Youngblood who calls people to let them know that their computer is being used for spam, are used in a way that keeps the story interesting. Although some of the sections are a bit long, the text portion of the piece works well.

I thought that the multimedia portion could have been better. I thought that the game on the first page was a cool idea because I don’t normally see a game used in a multimedia story. However the game itself was kind of difficult to understand. The top ten spammers link I could not get to load so I am not quite sure whether that added or did not add to the story. The Q&A section was a good addition because it gave a brief breakdown of the story, but the text in the Q&A was hard to read.

I did like this piece but I think that there was too much text and not enough multimedia. I think that if some of the text were removed and replaced with some other types of media this may have been a more interesting story.

Tree Deals

April 5, 2009

This week I read the Baltimore Sun article, “Tree Deals-Getting Green for Less”. This article was a brief news story about Baltimore’s plan to plant 1 million trees by 2011 with help in part by community groups. It highlights the environmental benefits of planting trees, including better storm water management and reductions in energy costs. The main purpose of the piece seems to be to draw attention to the benefits and to promote the deals offered by the state and the Parks and People Foundation designed to encourage people to purchase and plant trees.

Although the story itself reads more like an announcement than a news story, it does have interesting information that pertains to my project. While I obviously knew that trees were beneficial to the environment, I did not know about their role in storm water management or energy efficiency. I also didn’t know that there were so many groups in the Baltimore area that were working to plant trees. There is potential to possibly follow up with a few of these groups for a future feature story.

The one thing that I noticed about this article that I didn’t like was the picture. I know this may be a little “nit-picky”, but I saw the picture and realized that I had seen it before. Then I read the caption andrealized that it was the same picture that I saw when researching one of my stories and looking over information about an eco-festival that happens every year. While I think it is a really cute picture of a child planting a tree, I think that there could have been a better picture picked to accompany the story than one that happened at a festival two years ago.