During this semester, I have taken the course Media Writing. From print journalism articles to broadcast journalism scripts to press releases, we have covered, and written, a lot of material. Here are my top five personal favorites from this semester:
5 – Muhammad Yunus Broadcast Script — I like this one mostly because I found that I really enjoy writing broadcast scripts and also the speech its self was very interesting and had great quotes to write to.
Key: Elon Goes Global with Speaker Muhammad Yunus
Reporter: Erin Valentine
Live, Anchor Toss, Studio: ELON UNIVERSITY TOOK A STEP OUTSIDE OF CAMPUS TODAY AT ITS SPRING COVOCATION FOR HONORS. GUEST SPEAKER MUHAMMAD YUNUS DISCUSSED WORLD POVERTY AND GLOBAL SOCIAL INJUSTICE THIS AFTERNOON. ERIN VALENTINE HAS THE STORY.
Live, CG: Erin Valentine, Elon News, Alumni Gym: NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER AND FOUNDER OF THE GRAMEEN BANK MUHAMMAD YUNUS EXPLORED POVERTY IN TODAY’S SOCIETY AND HOW STUDENTS CAN AFFECT CHANGE IN THE WORLD.
Roll SOT #1, Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank: POVERTY IS NOT CREATED BY THE POOR PEOPLE. POVERTY IS CREATED BY THE SYSTEM THAT WE’VE CREATED.
Live, CG: Erin Valentine, Elon News, Alumni Gym: YUNUS WORKED HIS WAY INTO THE MICRO-LENDING BUSINESS. HE TOUCHED UPON THE WAY HE WENT FROM TEACHING ECONOMICS TO USING HIS KNOWLEDGE TO HELP OTHERS IN THE REAL WORLD. HOWEVER… YUNUS COULDN’T WATCH HIS NEIGHBORS FALL INTO POVERTY. SO YUNUS TURNED THEORY INTO ACTION.
Roll SOT #2, Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank: I NEVER DREAMED IN MY LIFE EVER THAT I WOULD BECOME A BANKER.
Live, CG: Erin Valentine, Elon News, Alumni Gym: YUNUS BEGAN HIS ENTREPENEURIAL VENTURE BY GIVING PEOPLE SMALL LOANS. HE HAD FOUND THAT BANKS WERE UNWILLING TO LEND MONEY TO THE POOR … SO THEY WERE TURNING TO BRUTAL LOAN SHARKS FOR IMMEDIATE CASH. YUNUS FILLED WHAT HE SAW AS A NECESSARY VOID.
Roll SOT #3, Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank: IF YOU CAN MAKE SO MANY PEOPLE SO HAPPY WITH SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY, WHY SHOULDN’T YOU DO MORE OF IT?
Live, CG: Erin Valentine, Elon News, Alumni Gym: YUNUS FOUND THAT BANKERS DID NOT WANT TO AID THE POOR, IN CASE THEIR MONEY WAS LOST. YET… YUNUS FOUND A GAP. WITHOUR CREDIT… THE POOR COULD NOT BORROW MONEY. AND THE POOR COULD NOT BORROW MONEY WITHOUT CREDIT. YUNUS FOUND THIS CYCLE FRUSTRATING AND HE CRITICIZED BANKS.
Roll SOT #4, Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank: YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO LEND MONEY TO PEOPLE. BUT YOU LEND TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T EVEN NEED MONEY.
Live, CG: Erin Valentine, Elon News, Alumni Gym: YUNUS DECIDED TO GO PAST THE BANKS AND BEGIN CREATING THE SOCIAL BUSINESS MODEL… YUNUS’ CLAIM TO FAME, PER SAY. THE SOCIAL BUSINESS MODEL WORKS TO IMPROVE THE CONSUMER’S LIFE, AND ITS GOAL IS NOT TO MAKE MONEY… BUT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. WITH GRAMEEN BANK, YUNUS BUILT A BANK THAT WAS OWNED BY ITS BORROWERS … AND THAT WAS LAWYER-FREE. TO FIGURE OUT WHAT HE WAS DOING, YUNUS SAYS HE STUDIED WHAT OTHER BIG BANKS WERE DOING … AND HE DID THE OPPOSITE.
Roll SOT #5, Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank: THEY GO TO THE RICH, I GO TO THE POOR. THEY GO TO MAN, I GO TO WOMAN. THEY GO TO THE CITY CENTER, I GO TO POOR VILLAGES.
Live, CG: Erin Valentine, Elon News, Alumni Gym: YUNUS THEN ENCOURAGED PEOPLE TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE, TO USE TECHNOLOGY… AND TO BEGIN WORKING TOWARD GETTING RID OF POVERTY.
Roll SOT #6, Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank: IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN DO IT, IT WILL HAPPEN. EACH ONE OF YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. NOT AS A CLASS, NOT AS A GROUP OF YOUNG PEOPLE, AS INDIVIDUALS.
Live, Anchor Tag, Studio: THE CEREMONY ALSO HONORED THE STUDENTS OF THE CLASS OF 2012, AND STUDENTS WHO WERE ON THE DEAN’S AND PRESIDENT’S LISTS.
4 – Five-Part in-class article — This article was the product of an activity we did in class. We started off with the basic information to the fictional story, had a set amount of time to write something to that information and then we were given more information, which we then added on to the previous article. The fictional story provided great practice with writing under pressure, keeping the information correct and keeping the important details in.
Student killed while serving pies
By: Erin Valentine
A college student was fatally shot at 11:07 p.m. yesterday while working at Tom’s Pizza.
According to Sgt. Albert Wei of the Burlington police department, Thomas J. Alvarez, a 20-year-old Hispanic college student and part-time employee at Tom’s Pizza, was killed while taking a customer’s order at the carry-out pizzeria.
Two witnesses were present when a lone gunman entered the restaurant, demanded money from Alvarez at the counter and then proceeded to shot him.
Anne Capiello, a witness and Alvarez’s girlfriend, recalled the gunman placing his order and said, “When Thomas asked what he wanted on his pizza, he said ‘I really want all of your money.’”
Capiello had been studying in the back when the shots were fired. “I was concerned with him the whole time. I’m very sad,” Capiello said.
The gunman, William McDowell, shot Alvarez once, and then proceeded to shoot the cash register five or six times, before fleeing the establishment.
Bonnie Caspenwall, a new deliverywoman for Tom’s Pizza, also witnessed the scene. According to Caspenwall, McDowell fled the scene in a white Ford Mustang that was waiting outside the restaurant with a driver.
Caspenwall called the police and followed the suspects in her green Camry until the suspects got into an accident near Pauley Park. The suspects’ car took a hard turn to the left and the car flipped. McDowell was found unconscious, but unhurt, while the driver had fled the scene.
McDowell claims that he shot Alvarez because he thought Alvarez had been reaching for a weapon, after McDowell demanded the money. According to Wei, no weapons or alarms were found at the restaurant.
McDowell said he has no job and admits to having a crack problem.
According to Wei, McDowell has been charged with the murder of Alvarez. “We are continuing to look for the second suspect,” said Wei.
TWEET: Fatal shootings, car chases, and pizza pies: student killed while working at neighborhood pizza restaurant.
3 – Feature Article on Twitter — This feature was great because we had only a day to interview, write and edit the article. I was lucky enough to be assigned a topic that I already found interesting. I’m particularly proud of my interviews.
Revolutionizing social media, 140 characters at a time
Twitter is slowly changing the way people communicate
By: Erin Valentine
Before 2006, a tweet was just a sound a bird made. Now, it’s the 140-character update on a person’s hopes, dreams, thoughts and feelings.
As a fast way to communicate, Twitter has not only swept the nation, but also college campuses. With more than 300 million tweets being sent every day, Elon University has not been exempt from the trend. Students are slowly converting from being non-users to daily tweeters.
Grace Rubright, a student at Elon University and a frequent user of Twitter, tweets daily and twice on the weekends and checks Twitter seven times a day.
“It’s so quick that it’s very easy to see what’s up with friends, and it’s way faster than Facebook, I think,” Rubright said. “I’ve definitely shifted a little more towards Twitter.”
Twitter allows for users to follow friends, celebrities, such as Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, fake accounts, such as Beyoncé’s fetus or Voldemort, or news sources, such as USA Today or The Union. Any person, or at least someone pretending to be somebody else, can most likely be found on Twitter.
But for many Elon students, Twitter is a primary source for instant news updates.
“I found out that Steve Jobs died on Twitter. I found out that Muammar Gaddafi was captured and then killed over Twitter,” Rubright said. “And I think that’s amazing.”
As Twitter grows in popularity, many are rethinking their stance on the social media outlet.
“I thought it was the stupidest thing in high school,” Rubright said. “Then everyone had one here. I got one because if everyone was updating everything on Twitter rather than Facebook, I decided that Twitter should be used instead.”
Twitter grows as students recognize its popularity and open up to its possible personal potential.
“Everyone else had it and it has gained so much popularity, I felt like an idiot without having it,” student Kyle Koach said.
As a newer user, Koach has noticed the social media shift to Twitter, which would account for Twitter’s growing population.
“I spend so much time on Facebook,” Koach said. “I was nervous that if I got a Twitter, I would have dueling social media overload and I wouldn’t be able to get anything done school-wise.”
But other students refuse to change their opinion on the microblogging social media source. Elon student Josh Kaufmann has no real use for Twitter.
“It’s not necessary to know every little thing about everyone’s life,” Kaufmann said. “I worry about my privacy.”
Kaufmann said he sees Twitter as the embodiment of the negative aspects of technological innovation.
“I hate where technology is going and how much we depend on it,” Kaufmann said. “There’s a fine line between it improving our lives and taking over our lives.”
Yet, Twitter continues to grow, as does social media as a whole, despite critics. With Twitter reaching a high of 7,196 tweets per second during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, the 140 characters could reshape the way, and length, of communication.
2 – Imagining the Internet Article — This was another article that we did in-class. I seem to really enjoy the time crunch feeling. Anyway, this article was fun to write because we were able to interview our subject and hold a mini-press conference.
Imagining the Internet: bringing the technological future, freedom into perspective
By: Erin Valentine
The year is 2050. A Mars colony is being built. Time travel is a foreseeable option. Brain downloading allows for digital immortality.
All those potential predictions may one day soon be the focus of research conducted by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, which provides a historical analysis and, more importantly, a future-oriented view of what will happen between the human race and technology in years to come.
Janna Anderson, the director of the Imagining the Internet Center and an associate professor in Elon’s School of Communications, has been spearheading the Center’s research for more than 10 years. And she said the experts she surveys have been foretelling the future of the Internet for two decades now.
“We try to document events where people are talking about the future of the Internet,” Anderson said. “We are there at the making of history.”
Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, planted the seed for the Center when he visited Elon University for a Parent’s Council meeting in the early ’90s. After talking to Anderson, the foundation for the Imagining the Internet Center was created.
These days, the Center sends out web-based surveys to a database of professionals that ask their opinions on different Internet issues and offer room for predictions about the future. One recurring worry from experts is that information may soon be restricted.
Companies, in particular, are worried about how they can monitor their products when people can currently share information freely.
“There are power structures being disrupted by the digital age,” Anderson said. “We’re in the middle of a giant power struggle over how we get and share information.”
According to Anderson, companies are trying to put up barriers and restrictions so they can track everything a person does on the Internet and take that information and use it for their monetary benefit.
Large companies, such as Facebook, Amazon and Comcast, are fighting to find out how they can retake control of their assets.
While some people believe that all information should be easily accessible and that the middleman should be excluded, Anderson said that others are focusing more on how to control people’s access to the Internet.
Some are “trying to stop people from being able to voice their beliefs and feelings anonymously,” Anderson said.
These restrictions would prevent events, such as the Arab Spring, from ever occurring, she said
Other advocates for Internet restrictions are “looking at people’s fears and capitalizing on those fears,” Anderson said, using examples such as cyber bullying, children’s online privacy and online pornography.
And so the battle for freedom of information will continue, Anderson said.
“It’s a fascinating thing to watch and a little scary,” she said. “Help the people in your communities—local, national, global—by identifying those issues and illuminating those issues and looking at how the future can evolve in a positive way. We’re trying to move forward in positive ways and evolve as well as we can. The Internet may be the best it will ever be right now.”
1 – Personality Profile Feature — This one is probably my favorite because I spent so much time either writing it or thinking about it. Also, I was able to talk to my Arabic professor in-depth about some questions I’ve had for her for a while. I really enjoyed writing more a feature-style story and I really liked getting to know someone through an article.
A professor with a passion for improving the present
Arabic professor Shereen Elgamal works for a better, united future
By: Erin Valentine
“Ahlan wasahlan,” is her greeting, as she sits in her office, decorated with homemade mugs, plates and other student memorabilia. Dr. Shereen Elgamal is surrounded by the results of her years dedicated to educating others.
Elgamal, an assistant professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at Elon University, has a distinct appearance on the southern school’s campus. Her hijab, or head covering, is not just a symbol of her devout Muslim religion, but also of her Egyptian descent.
Born and raised in Cairo in 1965, Elgamal was schooled, married and started raising a family in Egypt.
“I was very kind of situated and established within Egyptian culture and the Egyptian society,” Elgamal said.
Although her bachelor’s degree is in communications, Elgamal faced political barriers. Having graduated in 1986, in the midst of Honsi Mubarak’s presidential regime, Elgamal faced issues with corruption and increased government control.
“I graduated in ’86. That was Mubarak time. Elgamal said everything was so corrupt. You didn’t want to be part of the regime. So that limited my chances.”
Yet Elgamal had an interest in teaching that she could fall back on. She taught English as a second language and also worked as a private tutor for children who struggled in school.
“I was always interested in teaching,” Elgamal said. “Even outside of school, most of my volunteer work rotated around a language.”
Having volunteered at a mosque to help kids with their education, Elgamal always had a knack for teaching.
“It’s kind of personal inclination or personal deep interest in teaching or trying to communicate information,” Elgamal said. “Teaching always inspired me. It always put me in a good mood.”
At Elon University, Elgamal has left her mark, teaching classes such as Elementary Arabic I, Elementary Arabic II and Intermediate Arabic I.
“Shereen always makes the class and I smile,” Sara Boike said, a freshman at Elon University, who takes Elgamal’s Elementary Arabic I course. “She has an amazing teaching method and makes sure everyone in the class understands things before moving on.”
One of her Elementary Arabic II students, Kate Schafer, said, “Shereen is a teacher who is passionate about both her students and the subject. She has even equated us with a ‘second set of children.’ Her ultimate goal is for us to learn Arabic as well as possible and to have a comfortable and supportive classroom environment.”
But Elgamal has met barriers because of her religion and background. Since her faith is apparent from her hijab, prejudices have been placed against her and some people’s negative assumptions of Muslims have directly affected her.
In one instance after she had finished college, while trying to apply for a job as a journalist with the Middle East News Agency, Elgamal experienced the unfairness and ignorance of society. As she prepared to leave the interview, she was convinced that she had the job in her grasp.
“The gentleman was very impressed with my skills, my writing samples, all of it. And then he said, ‘Let me ask you one question. Are you going to come to work every day dressed like this?’” said Elgamal, while gesturing at her hijab. “But there was this surprise element on his face. So I said, ‘Yes.’ And I was never called back.”
With recent events, such as the Arab Spring in the Middle East, Elgamal has felt a growing sense of pride for her country. Before the Egyptian revolution and the uprisings in the Middle East, there was very little nationalism. Egyptians, having lost respect for their government and country, would throw their trash on the ground, toss wrappers from their cars as they drove and generally not care about the cleanliness and appearance of their home.
Cairo, in particular, gained a reputation for its unsanitary environment. Yet the Arab uprisings have changed Egypt for the better, according to Elgamal.
“After the Revolution, I notice in the media, or when my friends would tell me, there is the sense of ‘This is our place,’ Elgamal said. “You feel a different sense of ‘our country.’”
Caught up in the post-revolution attitude, and in an effort to be involved with the current events in the Middle East, Elgamal has begun to look for ways to help, even though she is far from home.
“I would love an opportunity to participate, to take part. And in this day and age I don’t have to be physically there to do it,” Elgamal said. “I actually have been contacting different organizations, different political parties, to say ‘Is there anything I can do? Can I help with your translations?”
Elgamal has been volunteering as a translator for a human rights group called the Free Speech Debate.
“It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like I’m still a part of the country,” Elgamal said. “Although it’s at a very humble, simple level, it’s still something. I’m contributing to where I come from.”
Having moved to America in 1993, Elgamal has seen the American attitude toward Muslims change after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and how people have shaped their beliefs from warped and incorrect information.
“Before 9/11, it was more of curiosity I would see in people’s eyes,” Elgamal said. “People would say, ‘What is this? Why is she like this? Is this Halloween for her?’ One time, since I always like light-colored head covers, one child said, ‘Are you dressed up as a ghost?’ It’s just friendly, simple, kind of curious remarks ” Elgamal said with a smile that quickly turned to a more serious expression. “After 9/11, some of the remarks are curious and some of the remarks are very presumptuous. I get the ‘Oh, you’re one of them?’ or ‘Here comes the terrorist.’”
But misunderstanding can come in many forms, even humorous ones. According to Elgamal, people mean no harm in their ignorance of her religion, and she finds their reactions more comedic than offensive.
“The funny thing is when people assume I am so different, so I don’t know much English. So they start raising their voices and using a lot of hand gestures,” Elgamal said. “One time I went into K-Mart to buy a spatula. And I said, ‘Where can I find a rubber spatula?’ and my ‘r’ is very strong. So the women goes, “YOU GO ALL THE WAY IN THIS DIRECTION AND YOU MAKE A RIGHT, AND THEN THE THIRD AISLE, 1, 2, 3, counting out the aisles on her fingers. Sometimes it just comes across in a funny, interesting way.”
Elgamal has found that the best way to handle negative people is to have a positive attitude.
“Once you do that,” Elgamal said, “the person across from you figures, ‘Ok, she’s from them. She’s one of them. But she’s not like them’.”