Monday, April 14, 2008

Bye-Bye Blogger

Sadly, I've never become attached to this blog. At least this blog at this location with this layout and, well, everything about it. So often does it happen that I think of wonderful things to blog about, sit down at my computer and shrug my shoulders. My thoughts need a better vehicle to make their way from my brain to the blog, so here it is. It will serve as a central hub-de-Mallory with all my addictive posts, tweets,, etc. Mosey on over there and scope it out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wine bloggers head to Twitter

Dr. Vino, of Dr. Vino's Wine Blog (one of my favorite daily reads that doesn't have to do with journalism), had some chuckle-worthy commentary on his reluctance to join Twitter.

I can’t decide if this is a revolution in micro-blogging or a complete waste of time. So far I’ve learned various things such as: one woman was PMSing, another guy hates his job, another guy just finished 18 holes of golf, somebody else is at the farmers’ market (BREAKING!), and yet another guy is pinging his DNS server or some such. I have revealed trivialities as my confusion thinking New York State cider was different from mere apple juice...(read more)
And whether or not he actually wanted to read about the lovely monthly emotional tribulations of said woman, he did. I guess that's the point, stumbling across random ramblings and tweeting right back. The more people into the conversation, the better, I say! Follow me on Twitter.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Word Press or bust!

I've decided to migrate this blog to WordPress. Not an easy task, I know, but I've been too intimidated to make the move until now. I want more design control. If I'm not going to redesign my Web site just yet, I might as well step up to the plate and redesign my blog. I'll even go out on a limb and say that having a more "fun" design might get me to update more. But maybe not since I've finally succumbed to the Twitter revolution.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Updates, updates, updates...

It's been a while. Shame on me. What's been keeping me so busy, you ask?

1. Spring Break. Three girlfriends and I spent five fabulous nights on the Norwegian Jewel cruising around the Gulf of Mexico to the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. It was my first extravagant spring break with real plans, and I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing or more fun vacation. It was the last spring break we'll probably ever have, and we went out with a bang.

2. School. Well, sort of. More like me getting used to the fact that I only have 35 days left to be a college student. There isn't much actual schoolwork left to do, but the energy that is taken out of me from stress keeps me busy enough. For now, I'll continue to live in denial.

3. Post-school. It's been hitting me harder lately that I need to get my butt in gear with some post-college plans. I'm sick of being asked that question without having a decent answer. Of course like anyone who has spent the last 18 of their 22 years going to school everyday, I don't want to do much of anything but be lazy. Not for long, either, but at least a week of absolute nothingness as some kind of reward to myself for making it here. I deserve it, don't I?
However, doing nothing also results is making nothing. As in money. And I don't want to be broke. So, I've submitted resumes for two positions at Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive (I'm so excited about this) and one at the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. And now comes my least favorite part of the job hunt, which is coincidentally my least favorite part of fishing too -- the waiting part.

4. Side Projects. My Flash-iness is being used for bits and pieces on a project that a TA of mine (shout-out to Gary!) is working on for the UF College of Law. Project My Voice is a social-networking style Web site that he is developing that is geared toward tweens between 11- and 14-years-old to get them engaged in politics and law. So far, his sketches are pretty darn cool and I'm excited to be a member of the team. I'll be working on some Flashtastic navigation and some other odds and ends.

And that's about it. Other than that, I've been trying to soak up as much of Gainesville life as I possibly can in the past few weeks. Every time I'm walking around campus I'm reminded of how much I have become attached to this place, and I never really thought I would say that. Four years has felt like four minutes, but ya know what they say -- (insert predictable cliche here ->) Time flies when you're having fun!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A question of ethics with the New York Times -- a j-student's perspective

I've been thrown for a loop.

It was only a few short weeks ago that I decided to change my browser homepage from to, a move that was unquestionably overdue for someone like me who is fed up with entertainment and sensationalist headlines from what I no longer consider a credible news source. It makes little difference really, considering that the news I get comes from all over the Web through my RSS reader. I like the Times for the same reasons everyone else does (multimedia reporting, feature stories, etc.) despite its left-leaning rap sheet, but some of their recent news judgment decisions have left me, a journalism student whose brain is still being molded, confused.

By now everyone's either read or heard about the fuzzy article that was published last week about presidential hopeful John McCain's "troublesome" relationship with female lobbyist Vicki Iseman. The article, which made these claims using sources that would only dish the dirt on the condition on anonymity, prompted McCain to hold a press conference to handle questions and deny the allegations. So what? People use confidential sources all the time right? But I'm lost...

All UF j-students are required to take Problems and Ethics in Journalism. I did. I got an A, too, and after reading this article I pulled out some of my notes. For most journalism dilemmas we were given a checklist to determine if the decisions that are made can be ethically justified. Usually they are if at least a few of the conditions in the checklist are satisfied.
Here is the checklist we were given for using confidential sources:

  • All else being equal, identify all news sources fully.
  • The story should be of overriding public importance.
  • Always try to obtain the same information from sources who are willing to be quoted first.
  • Grand confidentiality only to someone who is relatively powerless or likely to lose the capacity to remain a solid information source.
  • Don't let anonymous sources use the cloak of anonymity to attack other individuals or organizations.
  • Make sure you are willing to tell readers how you got your information and why you're protecting the source's confidentiality.
And here is the attribution being called into question:
Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
First, it's tough to think that a paper as big as the Times sucked all their sources dry before having to publish this story based on anonymous sources. If there were "several people involved," couldn't they at least be more specific and say what positions they hold in the campaign? With this attribution, they might as well have gotten the information from McCain sign-waver Joe Schmoe on the corner at the voting precinct. Second, could a story about a questionable romantic relationship of a potential presidential candidate years ago be considered an "attack on an individual?" Of overriding public importance? To me, it's not so overriding that it needed to be rushed to publication before more attempts at obtaining open information could be made. In this case, I'd also say that the Times did not openly explain to their readers the "how" and "why" behind the information. I think they failed the checklist.

This only leads me to my next troubling thought: Has most of the American public been conditioned NOT to question their news sources? The answer to this must be a resounding "yes" if channels like FOX News can sustain so many viewers, and this is disheartening.

Whether or not the article is true, and whether or not the voters would actually care if it is or not, was it a responsible decision for a news icon like the Times to publish an ultimately unsubstantiated story like this one? Based on my novice knowledge, I'd have to say no.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A blessing in disguise: What I learned from a redesign

What began last week as a nightmare has ended in some lessons well learned. A while back I accepted the task of building a Flash site for a local company that specializes in customized school footwear fund raisers for high schools across the country. What the client wanted was very simple and fairly easy to build, but I will shamefully admit that my heart and soul was not fully into the design, and it wasn't my best. I even opted to leave it out of my portfolio.

When the time came recently for the client to want some changes and updates made, my computer decided to really ruin my day. No files to be found. And yes, I know, what the hell was I thinking without a backup? Of course, I thought I had made one but yet again, no files (I've had quite a few problems like this with my PC laptop - I think I see apples in my future). Long story short, a rebuild was unavoidable. I took those lemons that life tossed at me and squeezed them into a cleaner, more precise and MUCH more professional looking glass of lemona...I mean Web site.

BeforeAfter -- What do you think??

The rounded star in the left corner has been an adopted logo of sorts for the company, so I was excited to find this new header font that carried the theme. I spent most of today working through some PHP tutorials for building an automated e-mail form for the "contact" section, but I'm still ironing some kinks. On the upside, the client is happy and I've got a nice addition to my portfolio.

Morals of the story:
* It never hurts to make a backup of a backup of a backup.
* Upload backup files to your clients hosting server. (I realize this might be a "duh" for some people, but hey, I'm learning!)
* Before turning your laptop into a Frisbee and tossing it out the window during times of technological turmoil, step back, take a deep breath and make the best of the situation.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Short and Sweet Media Job Fair

I have to give a lot of credit to our department of journalism. Not a day goes by that I don't receive some nugget of information in my e-mail inbox. If it's from Charles Harris (all UF j-students know this mysterious man, the phantom e-mailer/Director of the Knight Division), I know that I'll read about the happenings of our college. To my detriment, I've become the kind of e-mail-skimming zombie who mindlessly deletes things just so my mailbox doesn't become overwhelmingly overflowed, and admittedly, some of those journalism e-mails just do not get read (we get a LOT!). But I digress. Miraculously, instincts told me not to be so hasty the other day and check out a few, and I found this little gem of information.

Now I've only been to one job/internship fair. It was last year in our student union, and I don't think I've ever been more intimidated in my life. The Grand Ballroom looked more like one of those big spread-out office rooms you see in movies with the endless desks and cubicles. Minus the cubicles. Then throw a stone-faced editor behind each desk, all facing the entrance as you walk in and you can imagine the size of the knot that took root in my gut. I was lucky enough to snag an awesome summer internship that day with the High Springs Herald, but not after releasing a few beads of sweat.

Which brings me to why I am so amped up about South Florida's out-of-the-box idea for a job fair. Who in their right mind wouldn't rather dress up and go to a jazz club to mingle with some industry bigwigs on a more relaxed level than the stiffness and anxiety-ridden experience of a traditional job fair? It's being hosted by the South Florida chapter of SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists for all you non-JOUs who stumble on this), The New Times of Broward and Palm Beach and by South Florida Media Jobs. Plus it's on a Saturday, about a 10-minute drive from my folks' house. You'll definitely see me at this one, but I plan on leaving that annoying stomach knot at the door.