Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Social Media: The Veterans’ Saving Grace.

Now what?
You just return home from war and now what? I enrolled in college, got a job, and spent time with friends and family but something was missing. Where was my support? I needed to connect with other veterans. I needed to know while the world was moving around me; there was still someone out there like me. Instead of turning to the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, I went online. The veteran community sprawled from blogs, online organizations (VoteVets and IAVA), meeting people via Facebook, to connecting with the Department of Veterans Affairs through Twitter. All the comfort I needed was now at my fingertips, literally. At the beginning of this month, The Department of Veterans Affairs launched its first official blog called VAntage Point: Dispatches from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. I like to call it the intermediary of a very confusing system. In one corner is the veteran, unsure of how to navigate the brutal VA system and in the other corner is the VA, known for being intimidating and unwelcoming. What the new blog hopes to do is ease the tension between the veteran and the department. Not only will it provide a new line of communication but will also make the VA more obtainable. Social media was the missing link that has united veterans with other veterans and hopes to strengthen their relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Recent article regarding the use of social media by veterans by Lisa Waananen.

To Huber With Love (Episode 2)

Roy, Wes, Ali, and I interviewed students at The University At Albany on how they consume the news. We wanted to see what matters to the average student and where they go to get informed. The interest in news varied throughout the students polled. Some were only concerned about sports, some watched Fox News just to see hot reporters, some cared about gay rights, and some legitimately sought out local and international news. It was interesting to see that students do not solely rely on social media to obtain the news. Several students talked about reading the newspaper while back at home or watching the evening news. It was apparent that these students were passionate about certain issues but the issues varied between the students. Check out the clip and hear from the students themselves!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

To Huber With Love.

What do we have here? A podcast! Ali, Roy, and myself rambled for over ten minutes on a variety of topics. Kevin Marshall guided us and without his help we would’ve failed miserably. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back It Up!

Dave Winer, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, is on a mission to archive citizen journalism. Winer will be participating in a two-day meeting at the Library of Congress on the importance of backing up the underground rising voices of our country. Think about it, online media and blogging have captured our nation’s attention. However, what happens when someone passes away or gets tired of updating a blog and it drifts off into a sea of nothingness? Where does their content go? For years content deemed worth enough was printed into book form, bought and sold, set on a shelf, and stored. Does it seem fair that the current wave of thoughts and ideas expressed in non-conventional ways will be forgotten about if action is not taken now?

The Library of Congress has already attempted to embrace online media by archiving the collected works of Twitter. Seriously. All those ranting and raving tweets we feel the world needs to know will be archived. According to a New York Times piece, “users currently send a daily flood of 55 million messages…” Is this necessary? Do I want to read 50 Cent’s incoherent tweets 20 years from now? No. This could be an embarrassment for our country. Nevertheless, who is to say what content is worthy enough? For some reason the Library of Congress wants our tweets. Let’s hope Winer can convince them our rants over 140 characters are also worth archiving.

(Side note: How the eBook is taking over. This breaks my heart.)

Who Won the Election? Media Matters says Fox News.

After contemplating who “owns” the election coverage I went searching. However, in the midst of who owns what and how they dominated the coverage, I stumbled upon Media Matters, “During the 2010 election cycle, Fox News, its employees, and its parent company engaged in an unprecedented campaign in support of the Republican Party. The network served as the communications and fundraising wing of the GOP while fervently promoting -- and sometimes creating -- the party's candidates.”

They created the party’s candidates? Did Glenn Beck cry his way into enough homes across the United States and convince potential voters to support the Republican Party? And News Corporation donated $1.25 million to GOP-linked groups?

Jon Stewart breaks it down.

However, General Electric the parent company of the NBC television network has been under fire for donating $3 million to the Democratic Party. Open Secrets: Center for Responsive Politics lays out a few charts detailing the money flow. They also outline how GE donated $2 million to the Republican Party.

So, who really won the election? While the media secretly pulls strings behind the curtain, the winners are as follows...Key races across the United States.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Midterm Elections are Tiring.

We are a nation filled with candidates who smear one another, a nation of Americans who need to hear about witchcraft or a Nazi reenactment to become engage in a political conversation. We are seemingly more like a nation with Attention Deficient Disorder who cannot focus for too long on an issue, rather than a nation who is about to see significant change sweep our country.

I spoke with Allison Hibbs, 31, student and freelance writer from Albany, New York regarding this years midterm elections. It’s safe to say that I am not the only one who thinks negative campaigning is taking away from the issues at hand.

“Most obvious this season, I think, is the negative campaigning and general vitriol that has been spewed throughout the campaigns,” said Hibbs. “For example, I do think it's relevant to voters to know that one of their candidates occasionally enjoys dressing up as a Nazi with his son... but I don't think it matters one bit whether someone practiced Wicca years ago. Yet, O'Donnell has gotten FAR more negative attention for that than for her policies.”


Christine O’Donnell has been plastered all over the news for her comments regarding masturbation and witchcraft. I could not tell you a single policy this woman stands behind but I can tell you that she questioned the separation of church and state. Is this important? Of course, but I also need to hear about the issues.

When it comes to who owns the coverage of the elections I could not give you a straight answer. With the rise of social media election coverage is everywhere. My personal Twitter account if filled with tweets from news sources regarding the latest happenings in the political world. The New York Times recently posted an interactive graphic showing the latest tweets regarding the election from October 21 to November 1. As people post tweets related to the candidates running for governor or the Senate, their circles grow and shrink. Clever.

Where does a girl without a television go to for political news? Well, a hell of a lot of places. I frequent The New York Times (The Caucus Blog: The Politics and Government Blog of The Times), Politico, Times Union (Capitol Confidential), NPR, Drudge Report, Stars and Stripes (to get the military aspect), and I love Esquire Politics blog. I also follow Election Projection to see how things are playing out. Aside from that, I check out the candidates personal websites and watch debates.

Star and Stripes had a post today outlining what is at stake for the military in the upcoming elections. “What election night could mean for the troops” by Leo Shane III highlights several issues including the repel of DADT, troop withdrawals, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay. These issues hit especially close to home and if the GOP make major gains like some predict the military will be in flux.

Whether it is through her phone apps or RSS feed, Hibbs is also very connected to the election. “I really like MSNBC (and their new Lean Forward tag line), I have a CNN Election Center App on my Droid, I try to read the Times and the Post when I have the time, I occasionally check in with CNN.. and I have a whole host of political RSS feeds,” said Hibbs. “Also, I've been very involved in the state elections, so I watch and read YNN and the TU pretty regularly. I have certain blogs that come right to my phone and laptop.”

After tomorrow all speculation ends when the votes are tallied. There will be debates over coverage, campaign ads, what hurt or helped a candidate, and who reached out to the voters. Regardless of the ridiculous spectacle known as the campaign season, we will finally have the answers to what party has gained or lost, where the country is leaning, and what issues take precedence.
Don't forget to vote!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Because Mark S. Luckie Said So.

At the suggestion of my professor, I recently checked out 10,000 Words: Where Journalism and Technology Meet. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have never heard of this site before. Can you really blame me though? The internet is pilled high with crap and I stick to what I know. However, after browsing the site I am into Luckie.

Luckie put a list together of the “10 Journalists you should follow on Twitter” so I took his advice and starting following all of them. I am going to post their most recent tweets…ready?

Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu): As of 52 minutes ago posted, “Revised opinion. Normal Buzz. Enjoy it, if it entertains you. Ignore, if it doesn't. I will stick with: don't emulate.”

Chrys Wu (@MacDivaONA): As of 13 hours ago posted, “@seanjtaylor But then do you have those "Doh! I should have done that ... Doh! I should have done that ..." moments immediately after? I do.”

Suzanne Yada (@suzanneyada): As of 15 hours ago posted, “Use this Facebook widget to search what @jerrybrown2010 & @whitman2010 have said by topic, location, attacks & more:”

Robert Hernandez (@webjournalist): As of one hour ago posted, “Ha! RT @marksluckie: Hilarious Washington City Paper Staff Memo on Stewart/Colbert Rallies: (via @NABJDigital)”

Lauren M. Rabaino (@laurenmichell): As of 11 hours ago posted, “WTF? Ignore my last tweet. I wrote that like 9 hours ago and have no idea why it barely tweeted now.”

Amy Webb (@webbmedia): As of one hour ago posted, “StumbleUpon Video Gets More Personalized -”

McKenna Ewen (@McKennaEwen): As of 11 hours ago posted, “RT @drewvigal: Now that's pretty sweet | The ABC’S of Sport Logos -”

Vadim Lavrusik (@lavrusik): As of 30 minutes ago posted, “Newspapers now provide only 20 percent of Associated Press revenue: Revenues from papers have fallen by 1/3 since 2008.”

Ben LaMothe (@BenLaMothe): As of one hour ago posted, “Some interesting data: Nielsen estimates 362,000 Britons behind the Times paywall”

10,000 Words (@10000Words): As of 26 minutes ago posted, “Common copyright mistakes that can still get you sued:

Out of these ten journalists, I was hoping to find a story that I could write a blog post on. But only a few links were relevant. The search continues!

Vegetarian Paradise: Get Your Eat On!

I am a vegetarian and I love food. Here is a map of some of the best spots around! Don’t see your favorite restaurant? Send me an email or leave me a comment.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Photographs Everywhere!

It seems as though the internet is a breeding ground for stealing. Whether its music, movies, books, videos, or photographs we are all guilty in someway or another. On a number of occasions, I have turned to Google for images. It’s simple: search for an image, find exactly what you’re looking for, right click and save to your desktop, and add it to a blog post. Well, apparently this is a no-no.

Here is a list for legal sources of photography.

Flickr: The Commons or Flickr: Creative Commons.




Or just buy a camera and start shooting.

Jay Rosen, I Love You.

In the ever-changing world of journalism Jay Rosen gives me hope. I stumbled upon a lecture he gave to the incoming class at Sciences Po école du journalisme in Paris, September 2, 2010. It is my belief that Rosen is not disenchanted with the current climate of the journalism world but rather, eager to grab a hold of it and prepare future journalists for the road ahead. Here a few highlights from the lecture.

“Seeing people as masses is the art in which the mass media, and professional media people, specialized during their profitable 150-year run (1850 to 2000). But now we can see that this was actually an interval, a phase, during which the tools for reaching the public were placed in increasingly concentrated hands. Professional journalism, which dates from the 1920s, has lived its entire life during this phase, but let me say it again: this is what your generation has a chance to break free from. The journalists formerly known as the media can make the break by learning to specialize in a different art: seeing people as a public, empowered to make media themselves.”

“Seeing people as a public, empowered to make media themselves.” The public can make media themselves? I can guarantee this statement would give a few of my journalism professors a heart attack. I’ve been taught that the media is only reserved for journalists; those who endured classes like Media Ethics, Journalism 101, Media Law, Magazine Writing, and who have eventually graduated with a degree in Journalism. What’s the big deal? Bloggers (a portion of the public who has evoked their right to make media themselves) are seen as uniformed, untrained, and not really journalists because???… Nevertheless, they are capable of creating news, drawing an audience, and swaying opinions. It cannot be us versus them anymore. If you have done the research, interviews, experienced something firsthand…you own that piece of media regardless if you work for The New York Times or run a blog.

“Students of social media and behavior on the Net are highly aware of the one percent rule, which has been observed in a wide variety of online settings:

It's an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will 'interact' with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it... So what's the conclusion? Only that you shouldn't expect too much online. Certainly, to echo Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. The trouble, as in real life, is finding the builders.”

Last week I was in New Jersey and had the chance to speak with Helen Benedict, author of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq and professor of journalism at Columbia University. I asked her about the state of journalism, death of the newspaper, and about jobs. Benedict stated that 22 recent graduates obtained jobs at a newspaper and 23 obtained jobs in the social media field. We were both surprised. She also reassured me that the “newspaper is not dead yet.” The one percent rule seems to be echoing her opinion.

“In your bid to be trusted, don’t take the View From Nowhere; instead, tell people where you’re coming from. Treating people as a public means refusing to float "above" them. Instead of claiming that you have no view, no stake, no perspective, no (sorry for the academic term) situated self, try to level with the users and let them know where you are coming from. As David Weinberger puts it. "transparency is the new objectivity." You may find that trust is easier to negotiate if you don't claim the View from Nowhere, but instead tell them where you're coming from…”

We can have an opinion?! Thank you, Jay! Now I’m going to show several of my previous journalism professors this statement and watch them cry. In the spirit of Jay Rosen and as an aspiring journalist, here goes nothing…

The Rent is Too Damn High! I'm with Jimmy McMillan.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Five Followers?

This is so exciting! What should we talk about?

I ran into Don Forst, former editor-in-chief of The Village Voice, and asked him what I should do after I graduate...

"Find a rich husband." No thank you.

"Buy a bus ticket and go across the country. Get off at every major city and walk into a newsroom. Tell them they need to hire you because you’re good.”

If you go to UAlbany, take a class with Forst.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Love The New York Times? Pay Up!

On Wednesday, The New York Times announced it would charge some frequent readers for access to its Web site beginning January 2011. While it sounds horrible at first, it’s actually not so bad.

According to a piece by Richard Perez-Pena, “…a visitor will be allowed to view a certain number of articles free each month; to read more, the reader must pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the print newspaper, even those who subscribe only to the Sunday paper, will receive full access to the site without any additional charge.”

I don’t see what the problem is. Those who have a subscription to the newspaper have nothing to worry about. Those who get to an individual New York Times article via Google, Yahoo, or another server will be allowed to read that piece. And the home page will be accessible to all visitors.

During a months time, the attracts over 17 million readers in the United States alone. It is sited as the countries most popular newspaper site. Imagine if one million of those online readers decided to subscribe to the Sunday paper. Not only would that mean full access to the site for the reader but it would help the struggling newspaper industry. Why is it acceptable to subscribe and pay for a newspaper to be delivered to your house but subscribing to the same material online is considered outrageous? Is it because now you'll be paying for blog content?

Kachingle offers an alternative, “…support the New York Times blogs you love directly, with a voluntary contribution of just $5/month.” The service “is about new thinking for online content, a new business model where users like you voluntarily support the online content you love.” Here is how it works: You install a Firefox or Chrome browser (cannot be used with other browsers) extension, and this puts a small Kachingle bar medallion at the top of each NYT blog. Then you click on “Join Kachingle to support this blog” from the Leaderboard, and now you are instantly providing financial support to your favorite blog.

I think it’s easier to just pay a few dollars a month for online content or subscribe to the newspaper.

Andrew Marr: Bloggers are the urine stain on the underpants of society. I stand by my words.

What got Marr’s undies in such a bunch? The British journalist and political commentator has pissed off many with a statement he tweeted to Jay Rosen, a strong supported of citizen journalism and professor at New York University.

As I looked more closely at what could’ve sparked this elitist little tweet from a self-important twit, I found Marr’s blog. Well, he likes to call it a diary…well, except for when he first referred to it via Twitter, “Follow my blog here Sue, and please RT! Shortly after that tweet he corrected himself, “I'm keeping a diary, not a blog.” I think he’s confused.  

Anyways, I checked out Marr’s blog and came across a post entitled “United Stares of America” where he reiterates his view on bloggers:

“I rise early today to a flood of correspondence from across the herring pond, challenging me on my views about bloggers. How I hate that word. One particularly angry journalist fellow accused me of being a “pot calling the kettle black”. I am still not exactly sure what he meant, but I replied “surely you mean pot calling the kettle African American”, which I thought rather witty. God, American bloggers – double jeopardy. Scum. I shall say it again. Bloggers are the wet fart in the express elevator of elite journalism. Those who "tweet" are even more risible. Losers, all of them. Except me.”

I laughed so hard at Marr’s attempt to be witty “pot calling the kettle African American” joke, I wet myself a little. Hmm urine? Blogger? He may be onto something.

A few Twitter losers did not appreciate Marr’s tweet…

Greytdog said, “@andrewmarrblog @jayrosen_nyu better urine than the brown skid marks left by the mass media”

Brijesh Kartha, “@andrewmarrblog in which case old gen big media are the crap in those very underpants! @jayrosen_nyu

At the end of the day, what matters is that Marr won’t kill the blogger. In fact, he’ll update his online diary, and all us Twitter losers will tweet about his not so witty jokes. We all win.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Now What?

For those graduating in December (like me), finding a journalism job is proving to be slightly difficult. Newspapers are cutting backing, getting a new media job is somewhat difficult, and let’s be honest…the state of journalism is in a flux. Who the hell is a real journalist anyways? We are all sneaky little reporters with our camera phones, Twitter accounts, blogs, and all the other crap I’m forgetting. So, what do we do?

Well, I’m not exactly sure. But here are some ideas…

Seven steps to get a journalism job in this wonderful economy. They are pretty obvious but check them out.

Visit, throw your resume up, and start searching. I was surprised to see 364 Newspapers/Wires jobs available but only 162 online media jobs open. Interesting. (POLITICO and AOL Inc has several positions available).

I would also check out Poynter Career Center. There are currently 149 jobs posted.

A handful of jobs for thousands of college graduates. If all else fails there is always graduate school! Good luck!

Howard Kurtz Leaves The Washington Post Behind.

Howard Kurtz, a fixture at The Washington Post for the past 29 years, is joining The Daily Beast. What does this mean? Some are screaming that print is surely dead or that new media is taking over and taking big talent with it. However, Kurtz sees through the bs and proclaims newspapers will be around for a “long time.”

In a piece Kurtz wrote for The Washington Post he states, “Reporters instinctively look for the larger angle, so several asked me what this meant for the death of print or the decline of The Post. I pushed back, as I happen to believe that newspapers are going to be around for a long time. Let's not get carried away here.”

Kurtz isn’t the only big name to ever leave print media. The Daily Beast was started just two years ago by Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. Aside from well-known journalist moving to new media, it seems college grads are left with the same option. Do we fight for that one open position at a local newspaper? Or do we take a chance and work for a new online media outlet?

Steve Myers points out, “Rather than being a story of how online media has taken something from legacy media, this is a story of how online media is now mature enough, editorially and financially, that people like Kurtz or

Exactly. Online media has snowballed over the past five years. It is now a place college grads look for jobs. It is now a place where “old school” journalists turn for work. With the help of big names like Howard Kurtz, the Daily Beast and other online media outlets may just become a household name.
Howard Fineman consider it a real option.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

To Squat or Not to Squat: A Look at Popular Lark Street Bars Bathrooms.

Public restrooms horrify me and for good reason. Think about it: Before it’s your turn to balance ever so carefully over a toilet and attempt not to pee all over the seat, someone else has graced the same bathroom. But before you can even get to the point of to squat or not, I suggest you do a three-point check.

Jess and Kate at Cafe Hollywood
Over the weekend, I scoped out bathrooms at some of the most popular bars on Lark Street with the help of my fiend Jess Duell, a 27 year-old Albany preschool teacher. I evaluated them on their cleanliness, appearance and smell. When it comes to cleanliness the bar cannot be completely responsible. Let’s face it, there are some dirty people out there. For example, if you accidentally pee on the seat wipe it up. I don’t want to walk into a stall and see dribbles of leftover urine all over the toilet seat. I don’t want the stench of urine to engulf my nostrils. I don’t want to look at urine and debate in my head whether the person before me needs more water in their diet. It’s simple: If you color outside of the lines clean it up.

The bar bathroom needs a certain appearance. I enjoy a dash of color, artwork, writing on the walls, dimly lit lighting, at least one mirror, and a few forgotten drinks sporadically placed. The artwork and childish declarations of love, “Ashley luvs Brian 4-eva,” give me something to look at while my friend uses the bathroom. The dimly lit lighting is necessary. Do I really need to see what I look at like a three in the morning? No. All of these elements make a bar bathroom cozy and forgiving.

A foul smell can ruin a bathroom experience or should I say, make one puke in their mouth a little. Why is it so difficult for a bar to supply a spray? Glade: Relaxing Moments in Water Blossoms smells great. Look into it. I know bar employees are not the only ones responsible for the deadly fumes that inhabit the bathroom, so women need to start practicing courtesy flushes and even carrying a little spray with them.

Bombers Burrito Bar was the first stop on my list. After navigating through a sea of college kids and a Snooki wannabe, Jess and I finally made our way to the bathroom. For starters, the door was labeled with a “W” written on a piece of notebook paper. Really? A piece of notebook paper? The smell is what hit us first…puke and bbq sauce. There was no puke anywhere but the smell still lingered. The floor was littered with a few paper towels and a mixture of what looked like to be leafs, tomato peels, and paper resided in the sink. We made our way out the Bombers to a played out Lady Gaga song and to kids sipping enormous margaritas. Grade: C.


One Of Hollywood's Mens Bathrooms
I had been warned about Café Hollywood, “Last time I was at Hollywood there was a puddle of piss covering the entire bathroom floor,” said Jaime Malekoff of Albany, New York. Jess and I preceded with caution to the upstairs bathroom. I swung open the door and saw…nothing. The walls were a deep red color and once again paper towels were everywhere but the trash can. In one of the stalls, there was evidence that a woman had gotten into a fight with the toilet paper, as it was covering the tile floor. This woman and those who used the bathroom after her were obviously too lazy to discard of it. We decided we should also check out the downstairs bathroom. The bar was crowded and loud. People played pool, shot darts, and sang along to "Run-Around" by the Blues Traveler. As we waited in line for the ladies restroom, I asked Roger, a high school Spanish teacher, about the guys bathroom. “Oh, it’s gross!” said Roger, “There’s pee on the floor and it smells like ammonia. Why do you want to know about the bathroom?” He seemed perplexed by my interest in bathrooms until I told him it was for a story. “Will you go in there and take a photo for me?” I asked while handing him my camera. “Sure!” Urine was everywhere. The toilet was filled and there was piss soaked toilet paper all over the floor. “Eww!” said Jess. “Can you do a scratch and sniff photo for your story?” asked Roger. And on that note, we left. Grade: Women’s bathroom B-. Men’s bathroom G for gross. Get it together guys.

It's that simple!
After Jess and I left Hollywood we wanted to go somewhere we could actually get a drink. We ignored the bars that people were spilling out of and headed to Oh Bar. After ordering a Stoli Raspberry with Sprite and a splash of cranberry juice from Riley, the bartended, who informed me that’s what his ex-boyfriend used to drink, we watched In Living Color. I pulled out my notebook and started to look over my notes. “Are you a narc? I’m glad I carded you,” said Riley. “A narc? Ouch,” I said. “Just doing a story on bar bathrooms.” “Oh, don’t go in there!” Riley said while making a disgusted face. I put my notebook down and went into the bathroom. It was pleasantly clean and there was no overwhelming odor. In fact, Oh Bar gave instructions on how to dispose of used paper towels, “PLEASE…PLACE ALL PAPER TOWELS IN THE WASTEBASKET.” These simple instructions seemed to work; all the paper towels were in the trash can. Riley and another bartender named Josh, told me how during LarkFEST their bathrooms were so backed up they flooded out. “We had like four people with mops and it still wasn’t helping,” said Josh. Honestly, I’m glad I missed out on that. Grade: B+.

Susie's Womens Bathroom. Missing a shoe!
Susie’s was our last stop on Lark Street (alright, it's actually on Delaware Avenue) and it was packed with people who had just come from a hardcore show at Valentine's. A few minutes before Jess and I got there, there was a fist fight over a chick but now the bar was relatively calm. People were watching highlights of the Yankee vs. Boston game, playing music on the jukebox, and some were falling asleep on their barstools. This time Jess actually had to go to the bathroom so we made our way to the back of the bar. It was dimly lit, there as a full length mirror, and crappy artwork. Perfect. There wasn’t urine all over the seat or on the floor, and the majority of paper towels were in the trash can. It smelled slightly like stale pee but nothing unbearable. While Jess hovered over the toilet seat, I took advantage of the mirror and fixed my hair. Successful bathroom trip. Grade: B.

Our last stop of the evening was Fuze Box. We decided on this for a few reasons. Fuze Box is where you go to dance and at 2:30 in the morning, and we wanted to dance. And it might be the only place in Albany that you can dance to Billy Idol. Before we made the walk to the other end of Lark Street, we stopped at Dino’s for pizza. We each got a slice of cheese pizza and listened as a girl in short shorts, high heels, carrying a Coach bag, called one of her friends. “Ahhhhhh Ahhhhhhhhhh, call me the fuck back,” she yelled into the phone. “He said that if I called and made the Jersey Shore sound he’d never talk to me again…Yeah right,” said told her two friends. Her friends seemed to ignore her but she kept talking, “I know this is going to sound stupid but like ever eat a lot of sushi and you’re like totally full but it’s just all fish.” I looked at Jess, “Is she serious?” Jess and I shook our heads and walked to Fuze Box.

Womens bathrom at Fuze Box
Fuze Box is for the misfits. It’s where people go if they don’t want to go to a sports bar or a packed college bar or if they don’t care too much about appearance. Fuze Box is a judgment free zone. Straight, gay, black, white, old, and young flock this bar and it works. They are also know for having the dirtiest bathroom at 3:30 in the morning. Jess and I made our way onto the dance floor. Everyone was in their own world…carelessly moving their bodies to the 80’s music and smiling to themselves. We ventured into the bathroom and to our surprise it was clean for the Fuze Box. There were a few drinks on the counter, toilet paper on the floor, it smelled like alcohol, and someone decided not to wipe their urine off the toilet after using it. I’ll never get it. Anyways, we checked out the flyers that were hung up on the walls, applied lip-gloss, and danced the night away to “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. Grade: B.

Moral of the story: Public restrooms are gross and they are gross due to your poor bathroom etiquette. Clean up your urine, start practicing the courtesy flush halfway through taking a “number two”, and put paper towels and/or toilet paper in the trash can. All these simple steps will make public restroom experiences a little more pleasant.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happening Now: Barbie Reporting Live From Pinkville.

News Anchor Barbie
Last week Mattel released the newest edition to their Barbie collection: News Anchor Barbie and people were pissed. According to Joe Grimm, “People have called News Anchor Barbie a sign of the death of real journalism and a reflection of "certain airheads on network cable news."

Oh no! The death of real journalism?!

While I type this, there are little girls all across America pushing Barbie’s microphone into Ken’s face and demanding answers to questions like, “Ken, where is my notebook? Do you have an extra pen? Does the camera really add 20 pounds?” I don’t see the problem. But this is what I do have a problem with…

“According to the American Society of News Editors' annual newsroom census, "Women working full-time in daily newspapers total about 15,200 or 36.62 percent." An ASNE study found that the total for online-only newsrooms is about 40 percent.”

Well, the problem doesn’t seem to be with a silly little Barbie but rather with our society. Women are currently dominating journalism schools. “At the Kansas University School of Journalism, enrollment is currently 70 percent female, according to the school’s dean, Ann Brill.” Is there still sexism against the female journalists? Looks like it and it isn't Barbie’s fault.

The death of real journalism should not be attributed to a blonde Barbie decked out in pink with a permanent smile on her face. The death of real journalism is the failure to adapt in an ever-changing world and potentially the lack of hiring those most qualified for the job: the female journalist.

Is it Time to Mix Business with Pleasure?

The City University of New York recently unveiled the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. What could this be? Entrepreneurial Journalism? Mixing business and journalism? I have always been taught journalists should away from the dirty business side but now some believe to stay relevant we need to crossover.

“I have long believed that telling journalists to keep our distance from the business of news made us poor stewards of journalism, so I think it is good to teach journalists how their business works, especially now. Finally, we see the opportunity for journalism students to make their own jobs, to create their own journalistic companies,” said Jeff Jarvis, the center's leader and an associate professor and director of CUNY's interactive journalism program.
Good point, Jarvis.

However, before every journalism school and journalists decide to become business savvy we should revamp how journalism is taught in general. How long are we going to cry over the death of the newspaper? At least we’ll be saving some tress, right? How many times will I see a professor roll their eyes at the idea of blogging? Sorry, but it’s taking over. Why don’t we work on making the new journalism college graduate relevant, period. Make them tech savvy. Teach them how to interview properly. Teach them how to fight for a story. Make them tough. Give them the tools before they graduate to produce stories that the American public will deem important. Before business is applied to journalism, we need the public to start trusting journalists again (it's safe to say we are hated) and give them a reason to want to keep us around. This may just be the first step in keeping the journalist relevant.

Read the Poynter Institute piece here: New CUNY Program to Equip Students to Start Journalism-Based Businesses

Monday, September 27, 2010

Salty Stitches Roll into LarkFest

Eileen Clynes of Salty Stitches
Eileen Clynes had the motivation and Erin Dolin knew how to sew. Once they combined their ideas and love for crafts, the ladies crashed the shore of Boston, Massachusetts with Salty Stitches Design’s.

In February 2010, the nautical loving duo decided to start their own business. The status of the economy did not worry them or spending the money that was needed to get Salty Stitches off the ground.

“All we wanted to do was have fun with it,” said Clynes. 

Once Clynes learned how to sew, the two got down to business in Dolin’s kitchen. Pulling from their retro style, Clynes, a 29 year-old Albany, New York native and Sage College graduate and Dolin, a 28 year-old Connecticut native, began making a variety of hair accessories.

Most Popular piece: Skullerflies
“We started out making hair accessories mostly for financial reasons,” said Clynes “Hair flowers are cheap to make and are easy sales.”

The process is simplistic: They walk into Michaels The Arts and Crafts store or Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts and look for flowers that are on sale or for colors that coincide with the seasons. After finding the perfect deep red or robust orange Autumn flower they go back to their apartments and add their signature touch.

“Throughout the week we spend about 15 hours making accessories,” said Clynes. “It takes 15 minutes to make a standard flower and 40 minutes to hand paint a sugar skull.”

The pieces range from big, bright flowers with anchors in the middle with a double prong back to hair bows with spider webs and polka dot ribbons. Some are also decorated with sparkles, hand painted sugar skulls, and mini beer cans.

Over the past weekend, Clynes packed up their pieces and set out to embellish the women of LarkFEST. While I scooped out their tent, Clynes sporting two of her flowers in her hair, greeted everyone with a warm hello as they gushed over the pieces. Throughout the morning women swarmed Salty Stitches table and bought flowers for themselves or their daughters. Girls dragged their boyfriends over, grabbed a flower, held it against their hair, and waited for a sign of approval.

“It’s pretty cool to look out and see your design on someone,” Clynes said while pointing across the street. “Two people have my flowers in now!”

As I walked around LarkFEST I saw Salty Stitches $10 to $15 flowers grace the heads of many women.

Eileen Clynes at LarkFEST

“My daughter loved looking at all the different designs and I was happy to support a local business,” said Kara Rhode of Albany, New York, who purchased two flowers.

Salty Stitches designs have made their way into the Orchard skate shop and Horror Business in Boston. They also have an Esty shop that carries 24 of their products and they boost a 100% positive feed back.

“Etsy has been a great help,” said Clynes “There are thousands of people who sell hair accessories on there but we are getting a lot of sales…a lot of people from Texas are buying our products and we sold to someone in Guam!”

Salty Stitches has no plans of relocating in the near future. Clynes will be attending the New England School of Photography in October. She will be studying advertising and commercial.

Salty Stitches magnets

The ladies hope to expand Salty Stitches into a fulltime job and in the future add more clothes to their collection. They currently sell handmade gingham tops in a variety of colors. Their goal is to make dresses, skirts, aprons, and cardigans. Salty Stitches Fall/Winter line will be out the end of October.

“We just want girls to feel sassy while wearing Salty Stitches pieces,” said Clynes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"There's a bluebird in my heart that..." Wants a New Twitter!

As I’ve previously mentioned I’m addicted to Twitter and in the near future they will be rolling out a completely redesigned Twitter. Exciting! To discover what the new and improved Twitter would consist of I watched a video titled, “Meet the new” on their official website. The two minute video told me hardly anything about the new design. During the first minute of the video I watched as little blue birds popped up in random places (my favorite bird was on a powered sugared pancake. Yum!) When I realized I wasn’t going to learn a damn thing from watching this video, I headed over to The Huffington Post, where they had a comprehensive guide to the new Twitter.

The new Twitter features are amazing! Just to name a few: keyboard shortcuts, never-ending streams of tweets (no more hitting “more”), and you can view profiles alongside tweets. Finally, a Twitter that doesn’t seem so convoluted and much more easier to navigate. I may actually use Twitter from my computer now instead of just my iPhone. It seems with this new design Twitter is taking a step in the right direction and making itself more ideal for professionals, organizations, schools, and anyone trying to move information quickly in a world where the “need to know” is in a constant flux.

(Images from The Huffington Post)

What's the Point of Twitter? To Bitch, duh!

I came across a blog post regarding a complaining man from Syracuse, Twitter, and Price Chopper at All Over Albany. Long story short, Jonathan Hoster, a seemingly typical tweeter shared his thoughts regarding his discontent with the supermarket.

Hoster tweeted: “Every time I go to @PriceChopperNY I realize why they r not @wegmans. Tonight -bare produce areas & this sign 4 ex”

The sign:
Pie fillings and trash bags in the same aisle? What more could you ask for?

Well, Hoster does what a lot of people on Twitter do: complain. However, it seems like ultra sensitive Price Chopper couldn’t handle the critique and contacted Hoster’s employer! What! And it gets better, an employ who goes by the name AC took matters into their own hands, “I've worked in the public relations department at the company for the last two months and I saw the negative tweets and responded through my personal twitter account.” AC requested disciplinary action be taken against him because of the evil, evil tweet! Let’s all laugh out loud. And then remember what we are talking about here…a tweet from a normal dude who doesn’t really care for Price Chopper. Who gives a crap.

“Price Chopper labeled the individual as destructive and negative.” Whoa. Imagine if businesses went through every single tweet and responded to all the negative ones? The thought alone is absurd. The idea that we could be targeted for sharing our opinions via a social networking site seems like a cliché. And what happened to freedom of speech?

What a huge mess! And just as recently as Tuesday, Price Chopper still seems to be attempting to straighten all of this out. They tweeted, “We want to make sure you know we welcome all concerns, praise and suggestions. That is how we make our shopping experience even better.”

Just don’t compare them to Wegmans.

Monday, September 20, 2010

“Did instant coffee kill coffee?” No.

Will the Internet kill newspapers? Will online magazines kill real magazines? Will bloggers kill the respected journalist? No. No. No.

After reading Out of Print: The Death and Life of the American Newspaper by Eric Alterman, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for rarely ever sitting down on a Sunday morning, pouring a cup of tea, and slaving over a thick newspaper. Flipping it’s pages and watching the black ink build up on my finger tips isn’t something that particularly interests me. Why? It’s not because I hate the way the newspaper smells (I secretly love it), it’s not because I find opening, folding, and slapping a newspaper just right so I can read it to be a huge pain-in-the-ass, it’s not because I find the task too daunting, well, it’s just because whatever is in the newspaper I probably read about two or three days ago on the Internet.

“According to “Abandoning the News,” published by the Carnegie Corporation, thirty-nine per cent of respondents under the age of thirty-five told researchers that they expected to use the Internet in the future for news purposes; just eight per cent said that they would rely on a newspaper.”

Uh oh. And, “The average age of the American newspaper reader is fifty-five and rising.” It seems like the newspaper is already dead; clinched in the fists of all those old people who refuse to embrace new technologies. However, I still believe in the newspaper.

Why I Blog by Andrew Sullivan, explains the difference between the good ol’ fashion newspaper (and a traditional writer) and the literary liberation obtained from blogging. When I think of blogs, a few things come to mind: 1) Nonfiction commentary. Bloggers tend to give their perspectives. They can be bias. They engage the reader with a personal story. They latch onto a story that has been floating around in the traditional media world and give their take on it, “Here’s what CNN reported but I was there and this is what really happened…” Who are you going to believe? Who do you want to hear more from? Sure, I’ll read a news clip from CNN but I want to read a firsthand experience too. 2) Regurgitated news. Depending on what blogs I stumble across, there is a lot of dissected news with a bunch of opinions throughout it. While this entices some readers, it can cloud judgment. Then again, this is one of the reasons why blogs are so popular; people want someone they can agree with, someone who shares their same sentiments, someone to add fuel to their fire. 3) A newspapers best friend…if the newspaper will have it. The Internet, social media, and the blogosphere were all inevitable. How long did they think the population would be okay with slow moving news? Really. And if the population has little trust for it’s newspaper/reporters, it was only a matter of time until we found a way around them. Bloggers add to the story, they all engage the reader, they solicit for comments, and in my opinion keep the story alive.

The newspaper, the magazine, and the book are works of art. Millions of dollars are poured into them. They are held to a high standard and are expected to supply sound stories from which one can make informed decisions about their way of life and their community. These printed stories are the gateway into a world of commentaries, opinions, firsthand accounts, and comments that all ooze through the Internet.

Appetite for Destruction.

My 31 year-old boyfriend told me if it wasn’t for all the “crap” I read online we would be married and have kids. “Thank God for crap,” I thought. I will be the first one to admit I’m addicted to Twitter. I tweet while I’m walking to my car, while I’m at school, while I’m at work, while I’m supposed to be out somewhere enjoying myself, and while I’m lying in bed next to my snoring boyfriend. But here is the real reason why I love Twitter: I follow all the websites and media outlets I would frequent if I had four hours a day to play online and through their tweets they supply me with basically everything I want/need to know. When I wake up, I scroll effortlessly (I should clarify that 98% of the time I only use Twitter from my iPhone) through a sea of tweets from local and international news outlets, veterans websites, magazines, and some of my favorite commentators. By 7:15am, I am aware if there has been a drone attack in Pakistan, if a hurricane has made landfall, and I get to read a quote from one of my favorite authors. Can’t beat it. I love it.

Aside from Twitter, I frequent several blogs and news websites ranging from Stars and Stripes to Dear Golden (a sweet little blog on vintage clothing). My top five daily checks are:, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Drudge Report, and Stars and Stripes. When it comes to magazines, I always tend to check out: Vanity Fair, TIME, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Esquire, and Wired. And I still feel like I’m missing something…not reading enough. There is such an abundance of information coming at us on a daily basis that one can’t help but feel overwhelmed…and I guess that’s why Google Reader was invented.

“I can't keep up,
Can't keep up
Can't keep up
Out of step with the world,” Minor Threat