Think before you…

18 11 2010

…challenge responsible journalism and ignore the real issues.

From Latin verbō (“word”) + -phobia: Ancient Greek φόβος (phobos, “fear”). 1. A fear of words.

This definition was recently one of 90 million daily tweets a few days ago. So what, right? Well, here’s the so in the what…

Actually, first, a few points up front:

  • Anyone who goes on the defensive before there’s anything to be defensive about looks guilty, or suspicious at the least. Automatic red flag.
  • Scrutiny against responsible and good journalists is usually considered a compliment to said journalists. Scrutinizing journalists who suck is a civic duty.
  • Stories written by responsible journalists are often spurred by what we call “news.” That’s n-e-w-s…

While some media outlets have lost all sense of news judgment, such as airing a lengthy package on how Oklahoma bars are cheating beer lovers by not filling their mugs to the brim, some journalists* actually take their jobs and seriously.

Image courtesy report from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education.

But whether news judgment is sound, some news can hurt when it hits too close to home.

News item: for-profit colleges have been facing investigation, and as a result, will be facing stricter regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Education. Congress has longtime criticized some for-profit colleges for delivering less-than-quality educations and oh-crap-how-will-I-pay-these debts. And now our government is (trying) to take action.

This is actual news, especially when considering what a hot issue education was before, during and after the 2008 presidential election. Education is important. Duh.

Even NPR did a story on all of this. (Sorry, but by my book, if NPR considers it news, so do I.) Oh yea, so did the New York Times, the LA Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, I could seriously be listing these all night long…

Just to pause for a moment — I’m not hating on for-profit or community colleges. Like in all aspects of life (and the education system as a whole), there is the good, there is the bad, and there is the ugly.

I don’t think this reporter was “out to get” for-profit and community colleges, either. (How can I be so sure, you ask? Oh, read on to find out!) It’s simple — there’s a government-issued regulation forthcoming on education, and this article is an exploration of why, and more importantly, it provides a local perspective and the concerns of real people.

So, as an interviewee selected for this story in the Tulsa World, the founder and CEO of Community Care College, Clary Sage College and Oklahoma Technical College has depicted the saga (in not one, not two, but three parts) of her journey being interviewed for and quoted in a published story about this educational issue.

But, there’s always more to the story, right? Right. Oh … sooooo much more.

1. One of this interviewee’s colleges, Community Care College, was actually audited by the U.S. Department of State, which documented misreporting, mistakes and fault by the college. Yet, the reporter didn’t include this piece of the puzzle in the article (hence, this is likely not an “attack” on anyone by any means).

2. If you want to tweet about lies and leaving out facts, then you might want to consider disclosing to the journalist that the person you recommended talking to for an alternative point of view is actually in fact your soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Especially before that recommended person goes on a tweeting-scarlet-letter-rampage for the sake of defending her future mom-in-law.

3. We are all entitled by the goodness and wholeness of our country to have a voice and use it, but if you want to blog about “pre-conceived agendas” or undisclosed “relationships,” or submit comments on articles that claim an article has “mistruths, half-truths or items that require clarification from the article,” make sure you do not have any pre-conceived agendas, undisclosed relationships, nor have uttered any mistruths, half-truths or items that require clarification from your end. Such as not disclosing that the people to whom you refer a journalist in order to gain a more balanced perspective is your son’s honey. (Just for example.)

4. “Interviews by PHONE” are not considered tragedies. The real tragedy is that newsrooms can’t afford to keep people on their staff, and they end up retaining only the best journalists whose reporting gets not one, but two stories slated for the front page of the newspaper … on the same day. Seriously, phone calls are about meeting deadlines when you are relying on your cat to be your assistant and copy editor  (and personal pianist at times). Besides, the story had multiple sources quoted. Get. Real.

5. As a side note, readers of the Tulsa World can also be the same readers of the Tulsa Beacon. It’s not an either/or thing. Just sayin’…

6. I could go on with more sad details, but I’ll stop.

In conclusion:

This woman is entitled to her opinions. This reporter is entitled to write this story. For-profit and community colleges are entitled to operate as businesses.

Most of all, Americans are entitled to a good education that opens the door to successes and financially stable careers, and if our government wants to help see this reality come true, it is entitled to do so. After all, the government is represented by the people.

So, think before you rant, and do your research first (even and especially if it means using social networks as investigative tools).

And, hey, I’m not against challenging the media; just choose your challenges wisely, and you might not want to be verbophobic, especially when some words (printed, blogged, tweeted) don’t have an expiration date.

*Disclaimer: I do know this reporter, and I respect her as a journalist; I assure you, she’s one of the good ones.


Listen to Trtl Tunes

12 11 2010

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Fortune teller?

22 07 2010

Here’s a modern-day look at a high school assignment I wrote, which was supposed to predict where I would be 20 years from my high school graduation. Much to my surprise — and amusement — a lot of my character and ambitions have remained in tact.

I’ve made a few notations on what has or hasn’t happened. As for the future, who knows…

Dear Journal,                                            10/15/2023

I can’t believe another year has passed since my last birthday – I also can’t believe I’m only one year away from forty. Although I think to myself where has the time gone, as I reach back into time, I realize how far I have come, having seen so many amazing things, and learning a multitude of knowledge. I remember my first job in the news just as a local news anchor working as a producer for the national TV news program “The McLaughlin Group” … and here I am now, an internationally recognized broadcaster and reporter from CNN. It’s so hard to believe that I made it.  I have been to so many places: Africa (check), France (check), Italy (check), China, Iraq and Korea. Here I am now in Iraq (well, it’s not even close to 2023, and I’m already semi-planning a trip to Afghanistan, does that count?), working on a story whose tale is of strife and sorrow (Afghanistan trip would be videotaping interview with Afghan women). It’s very difficult to interview the Iraqis as an American, because of the hostility that is felt toward the United States. After the war led by the United States against Iraq (2004-2007), the new government the US set up to rebuild Iraq has been nothing but a struggle and conflict. Interestingly enough, I have drawn so many parallels to the Iraqis and the South Koreans through many interviews. That is what I love most about my job as a broadcaster and journalist: the opportunity I have to seek all perspectives and to understand different opinions (still so very true). Politics can be very blinding, and I now first hand the tricks, we the media, have up our sleeves (even now more than ever). It is when I am one on one with the individuals from all these different countries I have traveled to, through my job and my time in the Peace Corps (definitely still on my radar at some point), when I truly believe I have gained knowledge that is truth. As the world has grown to be a more internationally dependent world, I believe trying to understand all angels of situations is such an important aspect for we, as the people of the world, to understand and strive for.

Back home in the United States, all you hear about on the news is all medical technology. The breakthrough discovery of a cure for AIDS in 2010 (oops, not quite there yet, unfortunately), the success stories in stem cell work (very true), and the new life expectancy of nearly 150 years. But what is so interesting is that yes, a cure for AIDS is wonderful, stem cell work is life-saving, and together these help to add years to our life expectancy, but sharing these miracles with the rest of the world – the ones who truly need it most – is so costly it’s seems hopeless. Travelling around the world has given me much insight into what seems to be the limitless opportunities Americans have access to, and when viewed through the eyes of the rest of the world it simply just doesn’t seem fair. I remember when America first received its wake up call on September 11, 2001. For once, we realized that we were part of this world, and we then truly felt the need for support and help from our neighboring world. Africans have battled AIDS longer than anyone else, and yet they are still the ones who are fighting that battle the hardest. Iraq has been fighting for freedom since, to some, time began, whereas America was born free. Rather than us still harboring anger from a war that ended sixteen years ago, let us learn from our past, and not be fearful to lend some sympathy to the Iraqis; sympathy will not suffer America’s pride. (I actually surprised myself with this statement: very bold, and very true.)

These are all issues that have been plaguing my mind for the past ten years, and upon returning home after the New Year (which is now the day after my wedding anniversary!), I plan to do something about them. Currently, I am planning to run for Senator in the upcoming election. Politics has always been calling my name, and now I believe is time to answer. My husband has already agreed to be my campaign manager (yea, right!), and it is through all my journal entries I have kept for the past twenty years (errr…better get on this project now) that I have slowly concocted my campaign issues.  I want to inspire and encourage my fellow Americans to open their eyes, and look around, and I believe the knowledge I have gained as a journalist and reporter will help me to point out key issues America should see. Perhaps I will go no further than senator, or perhaps I’ll go even further. Either way, I am always striving to learn about the world and people around me, always trying to make a difference, and no matter what I am doing, I will always make my mark.

I write like…

20 07 2010

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Compliment, no?

Protected: My so-called career

23 02 2010

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State of our Union: the ‘I win, you lose’ mentality

28 01 2010

2010 State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama

Nothing could summarize Washington better. And it’s too bad that such a description is closer to the truth than not, but distrust and lack of faith is just about all Americans have in our government these days. At least it feels that way.

And whether those feelings are justified, whether they were caused by one party or the other, cynicism toward our government seems untouched and unchanged.

Nearing his conclusion, the president showed a great deal of humility, when he admitted that some Americans are skeptical of the change he promised during his campaign, and of his ability to deliver that change.

But it was a one-two punch.

He quickly followed up with 1) he never said change would be easy and that 2) he won’t give up.

After outlining his vision for American over the next few years, President Obama also made it clear that while talk of reform (insert the word change here) is good, until Washington and legislators reform (insert again) the way they work with each other, nothing will get done. Until the issues outweigh the mentality of “I win, you lose,” and the strategy of “playing it safe” and letting polls and elections drive actions, real reform — real change — will not be possible.

Yet, as the president underscored the unity of America and the need for continued unity, the chamber remained divided; the ovations remained lop-sided.

The president declared that for so many Americans — specifically those who are unemployed — “Change hasn’t come fast enough.”

But can you really rush change? Did any major movement in our nation’s history reach miles overnight? Of course not. You especially can’t expect a large degree of change after only one year of switching gears … after eight years of going the opposite direction.

The topics du jour were no surprise — all of which are in desperate need of change:

1. Economy

2. Jobs

3. Education

4. Health care

It’s also no surprise that it took the president 45 minutes before he even touched on the hottest topic of all — health care. But one thing that drew a standing ovation from both sides — health care reform is a must. As for what develops in the end, we shall see.

Despite the real and somewhat grim picture President Obama painted during his address re: the Washington way and the political plays, he ended on a positive note, and another undeniable truth.

America is resilient. Her people continue to demonstrate “stubborn resilience in the face of adversity.”  Nothing could be better proof of that than the story of the little boy who enclosed his weekly allowance in a letter to the President. That money was not sent to support a political campaign. It wasn’t saved to buy off policy. No, that little boy only wanted that money to be given to the people of Haiti.

Such sweet innocence and sheer good will makes me wonder if our children have better sense than our politicians sometimes.

While I know we can’t have a Congress full of children (though sometimes it doesn’t seem so far from reality), it’s time to have a Congress full of common sense and productivity. It’s time to quit playing games and start producing results. It’s time to get real about change — in our economy, in our jobs, in our education, and in our health care.

Listening to my president describe my agonizing experience of sending out resume after resume with not even so much as a “Thank you for your interest,” only cemented my belief that change is imperative.

Today marks the 220nd time that an American president has addressed the Congress and the people of the United States. This is certainly not the first time change has been identified as an item on our nation’s agenda.

But, maybe it’s time we start making it a priority.

The Pat Down on Marriage & Friendships

22 01 2010

Let me preface this by saying that I love my husband, and I love being married.  I actually find myself loving him and our marriage more and more every day.

But, as a wife of one year and 22 days (who’s counting though, right?), I am learning … about myself, my husband, my marriage and all the dynamics between.

There are the obvious dynamics, of course: learning to live with another person, how to handle the finances, etc.

But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this one-liner from so many of my friends who are not yet hitched:

“My married friends are so boring…we never see them anymore.”

It’s a good point. I can’t count how many friends who basically shut down the lines of communication after they got married. But, my hubby and I made a promise to ourselves and to each other that we would do whatever it takes to NOT live up to that dreadful stereotype (and sometimes truth). I mean, being married doesn’t mean you vow to spend time with only each other and forget about your friends. Of course not!

But, there’s a catch. Actually several.

Like it not, as a married person, I have to face one fact: I am in a different place than many of my single friends. So, what does that mean? I don’t know exactly; I don’t even know how I feel about it, really. I have no definitive answers. Not yet.

Biblically speaking, spouses should cleave to one another. Do you know what that means really? That word is … intense.

v. cleft (klft) or cleaved or clove (klv), cleft or cleaved or clo·ven (klvn), cleav·ing, cleaves

1. To split with or as if with a sharp instrument.
2. To make or accomplish by or as if by cutting: cleave a path through the ice.
3. To pierce or penetrate: The wings cleaved the foggy air.
4. Chemistry To split (a complex molecule) into simpler molecules.
Like I said, intense.

I do know this:

  1. I love my husband
  2. I love being married
  3. I love my friends

And for the most part, there’s  no real “conflict” among those three truths.

But, there’s a balance to be found, and it’s not always easy.