At last: the Next Scene*** YIKES!

So after looking up a lot more information--a lot of which is the same information viewed differently by other writers--I have gotten up the nerve to forge onward. Admittedly, I once again made lots of notes, post-its attached to those notes with (you guessed) other notes, and finally--as I am writing--even more notes that need to be inserted into the story as I (eventually) type it up. Then, after it is typed up I will proceed to rewrite most of those lines AGAIN and replace my first words with entirely different BETTER words; maybe I can finish this project by spring. More likely, I will be submitting a draft of my project as every time I look at this piece, I find some small change that simply must be made. I really hope it will be a funny piece yet contain some merit for the voice it hopes to create. At this point, I want to get my "dry run" down on paper and then bit by bit, try and make it stronger, funnier, and more meaningful--but without becoming preachy. I certainly hope I can achieve all I am setting out to do.
  The encouraging thing is that all my co-workers--the inspiration for this insanity--are thrilled to even have their persona or their name included in my piece for school. I believe they think I am eccentric as I like school and have chosen to go back--again and again--while working any kind of crazy schedule with them. But, I too am one of these people I am writing about as I too am employed there. Just like them, I consider myself inconvenienced and sorely affected by some of the sales incentives that are a regular part of being an employee today in this form of retail. Gone are the days of simply working one's schedule and leaving the job entirely when you punch out--I am as much a part of the cause I am fighting, with my adaptation, as I am the voice of opposition. This realization has become clearer with the ridiculously long days at work which feel like they accomplish nothing. Sadly, there are still many of my co-workers who are put upon in a similar fashion yet also remain on the fringe of these inner-business wars. The world of business holds a much different lifestyle and creativity level than the worlds of writing or theatre--the worlds where I thrive and am happy. So the work atmosphere is very draining for me as a person, never mind as an employee. The many co-workers and lifelong friends through my job, face the concern of their other half becoming too enmeshed in this fast-paced, all-consuming business. Often with little or no hope of escaping the lure of the money and prestige held so highly in esteem. And there actually are many good, bright, warm-hearted folk who cannot get a break in this business despite their best efforts, as they are perceived as having less to offer than the people in charge--the all-knowing moguls who are, in truth, no better than those they overlook. Stolen time from important family moments are as commonplace as unfair expectations of higher authorities with no regard for the people below them--holding the business together. Worse still is being placed in a position of authority over people whose positions cannot be changed or improved upon easily, but would instead need an investment the company does not want to provide. All of these situations occur concurrently in my business, and with a staff of almost three hundred employees in my store alone, there are a lot of concerns to realize, recognize, and attempt to convey simply through a rewrite of Aristophanes classic. In the hope of having those voices heard and respected for their daily struggle while also laughing at ourselves as we all try to get by with a smile. Just keep  praying that I can pull off this feat; with God's help only will this be accomplished!

Lit Review (in progress)

Pedagogy (also courses that are currently offered)

Fire in the Hole: Curricular Explosion, Fearless Journalism Pedagogy and Media Convergence. Michael Longinow. Fall 2011 Symposium.
This presentation explores what we know and don't know about how young people are consuming media and how it informs how educators need to teach journalism. What are people looking for in the "news" they consume and why?  Does imagery trump text? Where does context fit? Convergent media, meaning media that includes text video and sound, is ascendant. Also explored: how do you teach news judgment in an environment where context is in some cases non-existent.

Multimedia Journalism Professors on an Island: Resources, Support Lacking at Small Programs
Elia Powers & Jacqueline Soteropoulos Incollingo Vol. 6 no. 1 pp-1.17 Winter 2016
Calls are increasing to "blow up" journalism curriculum to more rapidly embrace the teaching of social media, web media skills. Research study reached out to multimedia journalism university professors to discuss their goals for their students, the challenges they face and the support and resources they receive from their institutions.

A Review and Model of Journalism in an Age of Mobile Media
Oscar Westlund
Explores systemic changes the mass media has gone through to try and embrace digital media and make it more accessible for people using mobile devices. Can be interesting to explore the way content is created and distributed as well as potential concerns about necessary context.

Citizen Journalism vs. Professional Journalism
News, Public Affairs and the Public Sphere in a Digital Nation
Edgar Simpson. Lexington Books. August 2014
Discusses many aspects of where the two types of journalism collide including the lanes they fill, the legal responsibilites of traditional journalists and citizen journalists.  Explores the legal protections for journalists as well and the holes in current law that don't cover the digital actor (p141)

Do Mainstream News Outlets have a Moral Obligation to Citizen Journalists?
Glenda Cooper. Nieman Lab. July 15, 2015
Explores what responsibility the mainstream or traditional media has toward supporting or compensating people who are not employed by them but create content that is then used in the mass media.Also whether mass media should actively try to restrain citizen journalists from putting themselves in harm's way.

Ethics & Best Practices
Online Journalism Ethics. Cecilia Friend and Jane Singer. Taylor & Francis. 2007.
Over eight chapters Friend and Singer attempt to summarise how journalism ethics are being changed by the ways new media technologies are being used. They begin by highlighting the culturally-specific and indeed technologically-influenced nature of ethics – how that the emergence of objectivity as an idea, for instance, was derived in part from the development of the telegraph, while new media technologies are reshaping these ethics once again

Media Literacy: Citizen Journalists
Susan Moeller. Report from the Center for International Media Assistance. Oct. 1, 2009
Argues that citizen journalists must be educated about "best practices in standards and ethics." as well as "how to use new technologies". Recognizing that this was created in 2009, it is interesting to juxtapose it with professors' insistence that they can barely keep up with changing technology and certainly it can be argued that the citizen journalists themselves are far more educated on available technologies than the mass media that Moeller argues should be providing instruction.

Creating Ethical Bridges From Journalism to Digital News
Nieman Reports Sept. 17, 2009
Explores ethical issues that arise including authentication of sources, assessing the reliability of information and dealing with conflicts of interest. Granted this is a little old, but I believe many of the concerns are still present.

We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age.  Scott Gant. New York. Free Press. 2007
I am concerned this source is a little old to draw relevant conclusions on where the law should fall when it comes to digital journalists. However, it provides a good overview of the questions raised by the unregulated flow of information that can end up informing our mainstream media.

Participatory Journalism Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers
Jane Singer (Book) Hoboken John Wiley & Sons.
Offers insights into how journalists in Western democracies are thinking about, and dealing with, the inclusion of content produced and published by the public. Interviews journalists to discuss how the news-making process.

Crowdsourcing in Investigative Journalism
Johanna Vehkoo (August 2013)
Includes a number of anecdotal examples of successful crowdsourcing from various countries. Points out incidents in Russia, Finland, the U.S. and references the work of NPR's Andy Carvin who used Twitter and crowdsourcing to separate fact from fiction during the Arab Spring.

This article looks at multiple cases of journalists using crowdsourcing to gather data, pointing out the pros and cons. Specifically, it explores the problem of what happens when so much information comes in from the web that the journalist is unable to independently verify it all.

Motivation Factors in Crowdsourced Journalism:Social Impact, Social Change, and Peer Learning
Tanja Aitamurto, Stanford University Vo..9 2015
Talks about the characteristics of crowdsourcing and differentiates it from other types of collaborative effort. Looks specifically at the motivations for the crowd participants, including recognition, enjoyment, acquiring news skills and knowledge, even financial motivations.

Hypertext, narrative and the future of news writing
Holly Cowart UTC Masters Thesis
Looks at how hypertext can be used as a narrative tool, how it plays with different audiences and whether or not hypertext compromises or supports text in which it is used. Also looks at the role it has in trying to support online newspapers and making them more relevant.

Future / Impact on Democracy????

Looking at Legal Issues for my Thesis

As part of this month's task for working on my thesis, I was trying to explore possible topics for the class I am proposing. One of those topics came to me in a most unexpected way last week. Following the revelations about women that say Donald Trump touched or kissed them inappropriately, I found myself in a conversation with Karen Desoto, an NBC News Analyst and defense attorney. Although not a pundit, she had an interesting take on the reports. In her opinion, they should have never been reported in the first place. Her argument was that the allegations coming out failed to meet what she believed should be the basic standard for reporting, which is whether the allegations would meet the legal standard for being admissible in court. In her opinion, allegations that were 20+ years old, that had not been verified or reported at the time, would never be admitted in court. Therefore, she thinks the New York Times (that is the case we were discussing) should have never reported it. In addition, she made the case that the editors of the paper should have known that the allegations would have a direct impact on the election less than a month off and that that should have played a role in them keeping the reports under wraps unless and until further verification came to light. I was intrigued?  Did she believe the writers at the New York Times failed to uphold their responsibilities as journalists? Yes, she said. Did we, at MSNBC, failed to uphold our responsibilities as journalists by reporting their reports?  Yes again, she believed. And she also felt that even citing the NYT didn't absolve us (a well-worn trick of journalists to pin the responsibility for stuff like this on someone else). Not only did the conversation pique my interest when it came to the legal and ethical responsibilities that come specifically with reporting events that we didn't actually see happen, but it raised questions to me about how those responsibilities should extend to citizen journalists - people blogging or posting things into the public. I asked Karen - do you believe they should have to adhere to the same standards?  Yes, she said - particularly since they have the potential to reach audiences at least as large as some TV networks.  Perhaps there should be some sort of threshold for the size of someone's online reach before opening the floodgates to potential libel litigation, but even those thresholds would be difficult to pin down. What if someone reports something when they have just a handful of followers, then the story picks up traction and they go over the arbitrary threshold set forth in our argument. Can they be sued or not? Essentially what we are asking here is: what are the standards for fact-checking and verification before its fair to report something about someone?  And once the "story" is in cyberspace, do we (either as journalists or citizen journalists or just citizens) take on legal or ethical responsibilities for the factual content of that story simply by retweeting it, or adding it to our blog?  Should we?  And should people who are putting original content online meet some sort of standard for their own content?  And if so, how should it be enforced? I think the legal/ethical questions about what Colbert used to call "truthiness" would be a key part of my thesis and an important topic that can be explored in my future class.

Weekly update

This week I’ve been doing less reading and more revising and writing. Just adding here and deleting there. I think the way I’ve set up the chapters I have so far are good but there is still more developing I need to do.
Having done so much research about my topic along with reading pieces that talk about my topic, has been really helpful. I admire the way these authors have set up their stories and the way their stories flow through is very impressive. I enjoyed reading the dialogues in their stories, like I normally do when I read fiction, and hope my novel comes out as engaging as theirs. One of the main goals I have for my novel is to actually have it published so reading published work has been an inspiration when developing my novel.

As I revise, I’ve tried to put myself in my readers’ shoes and I’ve tried to analyze and see if what I think I am saying is truly what I am showing in my story. Not every part of the process so far has been fun but all has been helpful to what I have so far for my project. The readings I’ve enjoyed the most thus far has been reading the creative work, I’ve been engaged and even laughed at times with certain lines of the stories and I’m hopeful my reader will feel the same way once my novel is done and one day published.  

This Masters Program is Showing Up at Work

     As I continue trucking on towards November 3rd and my next meeting with my group, I keep plugging away at my lit review. As many of you know, it isn't glamorous work. I've been trying to imagine an appropriate soundtrack that could play in the background like an 80's movie where the hero trains for a boxing match. Unfortunately, reading off a computer screen isn't too exciting.
Instead of trying to find clever ways to describe scrolling on a trackpad, I wanted to take a moment to discuss how this masters program has impacted me professionally.

     When I started the program last September, I immediately put a lot of what we were learning into practice. How I commented on student papers, how I approached individuals students, even my expectations of myself; all of it was changed.

     I started challenging the ideas in the paper, not just the grammar. I stopped trying to shoehorn every student into the same expectations and started setting realistic goals that I thought each student could achieve. I started to view myself as a writer who was helping younger writers find themselves.

     I was concerned when I found out that I would have another teacher in the room to provide support for struggling students this year. I've never been too confident with my peers, often following what they plan and defaulting to them. Now I'm much more confident and my co-teacher has extremely positive feedback about how I run the class.

     The biggest indication that the masters program has had a positive impact on my teaching came today at a workshop. My district has adopted Lucy Calkins' Writer's Workshop. Even though it only goes up through grade 8, my administrators feel that it can be adapted for my 9th graders who perform at lower levels. As we started getting in depth with the program and examining how we will implement each unit, my co-teacher turned to me and said, "You already do all this."

     This is the start of my thirteenth year teaching. I honestly don't know what I was doing for the first ten years or so. This program is definitely helping me become a better teacher and it ranks right up there among one of best decisions.

Week 6

Despite a lot of external setbacks (extra shifts at work, doctor's appointments, recent death of a family friend), I am on track for the 15 page limit I have set for myself. To my team and Dr. Zamora: I apologize for not getting my draft out sooner and for not returning any feedback on drafts I have recieved. It has been a very busy few weeks for me. Just when I thought things were slowing down, returning to normal, something else would come up. I am hoping November and December are do not follow suit, but at this point, I really couldn't say. I will also be sending out my draft through Google docs tonight. I am trekking along as best as I can, and I will definitely be at our conference tomorrow!

English and Writing Studies Thesis 2016-10-19 20:37:00

This week I was working on finding the rest of the sources I needed for my literature review. I was successful in finding some more but for some reason I still do not feel completely satisfied. Between now and tomorrow before our class time, I want to do a rough citation and brief summary of some of these new sources. I think I really want to find sources that say exactly what I am looking for and go in-depth, but I am realizing more and more a good portion of this project may consist of me putting the pieces together. I just need the right passages or quotes to help me draw conclusions and state what I really want to say.
This week I am grateful that I had the opportunity to have a long discussion with my father about my topic. I believe my father is very knowledgeable when it comes to our faith and knows a lot about verbal prayer. He really helped/made me think about my topic further. He gave me a passage in the Bible to refer to, which was Matthew chapter six beginning at verse five, and I think it will help me when addressing “prayer practices.”
 Right now, one of my concerns is being specific/clear. I realize I am doing a topic that some people may not know a lot about or could really interrogate. I want to be able to answer questions clearly when it comes to prayer and in the process of doing research gain more knowledge to be able to answer other questions too. I realize that I am not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to my faith, but I believe you do not have to be an expert to have a relationship with God, believe, or pray which is why discussing my topic with people who know very little is ideal.

In conclusion, my father also helped me to get out of myself. In the process of discussing my topic, I have to realize my strengths/weaknesses and realize other people’s strengths/weaknesses may be different. I have to take a critical eye and really examine everything I am trying to argue. 

Trudging Along (with a cranky computer…)

Well, after reading through the new pieces I acquired for my Lit review--and being grateful for the smart things I have unwittingly done so far--I find myself fighting with my computer which has decided I am not paying it enough attention (perhaps) or that I am spending too much time working on my phone. Either way, I do frequently research on my laptop or my phone and when something seems like material I would like to have handy, information that will greatly benefit my play as I move forward in this (dreadfully slow) process, my desktop and its printer tend to be uncooperative. My frustration level with work--that place I find myself spending twelve hours a day of late--and my inability to form verbal sentences by the time I get home much less create humorous dialogue for my next scene, is greatly enhanced by the computer joining forces with Shoprite, Wakefern and the less personal but equally annoying rush hour traffic (which I am now in the thick of, as I get out of work so much later than I am supposed to). But enough of my complaints--for now. I am finding, through my research, that my instincts and my initial research about adapting a play from so long ago, were spot on--thank God! I will not have copyright fees or family members looking for compensation--unless Aristophanes has a relative who can validate their connection to him, which is fairly unlikely. I had learned that in Theatre and also in my many Shakespeare classes; being such a big fan of the Bard I was curious. But these articles confirm my safety in this area. So ancient Greeks are by far even safer than sixteenth century works. I was also pleased to learn that the characterizations I have carefully chosen are also following the good advice of experts--so I have made some smart moves with that as well. What I find of concern is that all three papers I read on adapting a play, recommend taking a "B" play and improving on it. I have chosen an "A" play that is one of my favorites, which is most definitely not the suggestion of experts at all. However, I feel it can work if I stay true to Aristophanes style of humor and humanity while infusing this piece with my own--in regard to this new setting and what my version is hoping to convey. He sought peace and that point was grasped through the humor. I seek understanding of self, for the people caught in the middle of corporate bull*** every day. I also hope to attain both respect and appreciation for all the people who make the business work and keep it going "round and round" every single day. That includes not only women, but also marginalized workers of race, religion, and sex. Aristophanes was the voice through this woman Lysistrata that made everyone laugh at themselves and at the stupidity and futility of war. I need to be able to create that same sentiment regarding the monster we all go to day after day, the machine with which we pay our bills and stay societally acceptable. BUT, that same machine robs us of so many of the important things that really matter while it creates a competitive atmosphere which make some obsessed with success. And the rest either get left in the cold or try to keep it together, albeit feeling horribly slighted and/ or alienated. As they should. This Lysistrata wants to stop that war and will also use the only way she can. I'll stop rambling now, but I do hope you can see my goal and my concern that I do this well and make a strong--yet funny--case for all to see. And maybe help some to have a change of heart. Just like Aristophanes did.

Thesis Progression

     These past few days have been quite difficult. I had to really knuckle down and figure out where I'm headed. Sometimes, I think I'm headed in the right direction and I lose myself. I went back and took some time to figure out where I want to head and what really makes me excited about writing and reading. I took some time and left writing and just looked over some books that I love to read and watch some shows that inspire me and fill me with many ideas.
     Afterwards, I thought it might be better to make an outline of my ideas and try to setup one by one what is important and what I really want to say towards my writing. But I took some time and decided to just do chunking. I chunked one idea down and wrote that out. Then I went and chunked another idea that supports the previous idea and continued in that method until I came up with something concrete.
     Now, I have developed an idea that I believe is workable. And I was able to build up some great points that gave rise to even more material. Then I took that information and created more information that made the previous information more detailed and specific for the idea I'm trying to present. Moreover, I'm just trying to make sure that I'm presenting a workable idea and that I haven't done something that won't be understood or that just doesn't make sense.
     I truly gave it some thought and wrote up some material that is workable. I developed some themes that I believe are important and created a story that is readable. Furthermore, I made an outline and a ten point arc. I'm working on a character outline. And hopefully, all this information will be doable and worthwhile. I've also started my research and an annotated bibliography.  

Thesis Progress Oct. 13 – Working on an Intro & looking at research

I'm exploring a couple of ideas for the start of my thesis.  One is to lay out kind of a historical sketch of how journalism and media have co-existed and how this is a different age than any other that came before.

Here's an idea....
Journalism in its traditional form had several roles:  it spoke truth to power, helping unmask corruption and fight for the rights of the common man and it helped bring news from disparate parts of the country and the world into the homes of average people to help them better understand the world around them and the events that would affect their lives. But the medium has always been important. It is clear that the capabilities of the medium play a critical role in how journalism has evolved. Newspapers provided lots of information, but was forced to keep up with the news cycle. Magazines could afford to be even slower (weekly or monthly) because their information and reporting was so much more in-depth. Radio was faster than newspapers but television was even faster than that and had pictures. Moving images were critical and it was obvious early on that the images themselves could strike a deeper chord with the public and reach a wider pool of them. It also sparked a renewed sense of journalistic mission - whereas the newspapers of the 1800's and 1900's fought for the end of slavery as well as women's and worker's rights, television had a key role in sparking the civil rights movement and bringing people the truth of what was happening in Vietnam. Context, in other words understanding what was happening, was in some ways secondary to the impact the pictures had all by themselves. The rise of the internet and digital media has done a few things: even before social media, the internet itself provided so many sources for news that the "context" of a piece of information could be manipulated, even subtly so, depending on where you got your news. The images themselves were still powerful enough to tell a story, but there was less weight given to understanding. Social/digital media has now allowed it so that the visual component of a piece of information may be all there is and the context may be zero. And disturbingly, the source of that information may be completely unknown to the consumer. The consumer is reliant almost completely on the provider's desire to display something accurately and with context in order for the consumer to correctly understand it. More traditional media had previously been a relied about source to at least check the boxes for showing something in an accurate light, but that notion has been so widely disputed that whatever context is provided by traditional media can =also= be dismissed as being unreliable. So where does that leave us? With sources that are unreliable and context that is unreliable.  Because of this, there is much more responsibility put upon news consumers than ever before: to seek out as many disparate news sources as possible, to try to reconcile their information to come up with what you believe to be a common truth and to use common sense to try and cut through white noise and spin.  Social/digital media has also added responsibility to those on the news creation side - journalists have to work harder to make transparent and even-handed and representative of all sides of a story. But those responsibilities now pass down to social media users who themselves have become part of a vanguard of new citizen journalists. They too, bear responsibility for not misrepresenting the images and information they provide, as to allow social and digital media to still function as some form of journalism....

As supporting text for this:
From an historical perspective, whenever a new medium reaches critical mass it threatens to, and does, displace existing media to some degree.   While specific types and segments have and will continue to be negatively affected by new media, as a whole, and over a lengthy period, old media have found ways to survive in the presence of new media.... new media can certainly displace existing media (as with television and the general interest magazines), but it can also have a complementary effect as well (computers, for example). 

This underscores the need for journalistic pedagogy to incorporate new digital/social media into lessons.  In fact, I would argue that an understanding of journalism needs to be made more widely available to students beyond our traditional sphere of education.   So-called traditional journalists are no longer the only ones contributing in the public sphere, and young people of all stripes have a responsibility (as discussed above) to understand the responsibilities they carry with them as civilian journalists.

(Using Google Scholar for my research)

This is discussed in this journal entry in which it discusses the need to rethink our traditional audience, arguing for a more "convergent" approach that takes into account the need to teach news judgment while still taking changing behaviors into account (including the fact that fewer consumers read or are interested in reading about news - they just want to see it). Convergent journalism is defined (by the Univ. of Missouri) as converging two or more mediums to create a stronger story. The challenge is to take into account citizen journalists who want to create, respond and interact with media. Those students need to understand the media options, storytelling, reporting, editing and managing information.  (My take on this is...) Those who want to be "serious journalists" have to also see this new group as resources.. resources to be culled, taught and when possible, used to help other news consumers have a broader understanding of the news. That doesn't mean co-opting these citizen journalists, it means working with them and not treating them as second-class journalists.

One question: where does writing fit in?  Is it still important to be a good writer?  Or do you just need to be a good communicator in some medium?
Longtime journalist William Zinsser says it's still important - even if it's just for a blog.
(The role of writing could be a very interesting part of this).