On the Hunt for Sources…..

Hey guyz!

So far, my sources have yet to respond to me….or they’re just ignoring me. I’m feeling a little like this poor being:

poor boy


Anywho, I plan on contacting some other potential sources but thought I would ask for some tips from my fellow classmates first. My project’s quest is to provide the journalists’ point of view on the risks that come along with the profession. Background knowledge I’m hoping to acquire consists of journalistic ethics in local and foreign reporting, a definition of journalism this day in age, and its inherent risks. I know several student reporters but thought that interviewing people who have actually reported abroad may provide insight I, as a student reporter, obviously lack. If anyone knows of someone who has attended school for journalism specifically or has adequate experience in the professional “real world,” it would be appreciated beaucoup.

So…calling all:

  • reporters/ journalists in general (obvi)
  • even online journalists/ bloggers
  • graduate students studying journalism
  • professors who have been foreign correspondents/ journalists
  • people familiar with the basics of journalistic ethics

Just throwing this out there— suggestions more than welcome! Thanks!



Habits worth breaking or NAH

So we’ve all realized how we’ve improved in our writing. But in that process, at least for me, there were some writing habits I became painfully aware of and I’m not sure whether I should be critical of them or embrace them. I’d like to address these on a couple of different levels:

1.) I ALWAYS want to incorporate music/lyrics in my writing or just straight up write about music. I’ve realized that for as much as I love to write about it, I don’t actually play instruments frequently enough. Sometimes I fear that yes, I’m faking it all. But the interest is there, I swear. It pops up in every piece of writing I actually value. Do you think that such recurring topics are ultimately a hindrance to exploration of other topics or further writing development? What’s up with being eternally caught up on one subject? Do you tend to incorporate a certain topic in much of your writing?

2.) I’ve realized that the quality of my writing depends on way too many external variables. How am I feeling today? Do I feel creative? Am I comfortable? Do I like the scenery? Can I work with background noise? What song should I play on repeat for the next five hours? And by the time I figure all of it out, an hour has gone by. Do any of you experience this? What’s your favorite writing environment/scenario/song? How much emphasis do you think should be put on creating the perfect writing environment?

And if you’re interested, here’s my current writing playlist (aka the biggest determinant of my writing environment) :

“Another Night,” Real McCoy

“If I Fell,” The Beatles

“Mr. Blue Sky,” ELO

“Tim I wish you were born a girl,” Of Montreal

Uncovering the “Scoop”

Admittedly, I did a lot of digging through past work. Sure, I’m proud of a lot of it, and yes, there are still those pieces I want to seal away in a cave. But the most complex idea I’ve slotted as #1 in project possibilities remains the subject I thought of right off the bat. So yeah, it was that obvious.


Currently I’m working on an honors thesis in political science and the fact that my previously wish-washy self was able to decide on a topic of interest among literally any possibility proved to myself that I have come a long way since being a Freshman. I mean that back then, I was oblivious to the interests I hold now. I wish it didn’t take me an honors thesis (still unfinished) to piece the progression together, but it did. And though I spend much of my time coding articles, reading about journalism in the Middle East, or writing my own pieces, I question the field every day. I question how much value the title “journalist” holds anymore. I question whether I should be pursuing different endeavors in writing. After all, journalism isn’t creative writing. But it does entail travel, adventures, investigation, and most of all, an incredibly active and dynamic perception of the world around us.

My thesis touches on a specific field of journalism in the Middle East but for the sake of conciseness and relevancy doesn’t allow me to explore the dangers journalists face on a worldwide level. Journalists have been imprisoned, beheaded, and scared into avoiding insult of power. Ideally, I would like to delve into the specific cases of violence against journalists that have occurred in the past year as well as the incredible unity and action they’ve provoked worldwide.  Because this is the field I wish to enter, I believe that studying this trend may help me to characterize my expectations of the career, as well as the value I hope to find in it.

Journalists have been referred to as “an organization of people broadly curious about the world and eager to collect facts about it, trying to address the common good.” [USA Today]

But is that still the case? How has the dangerous circumstances faced by journalists affected the motivation to be investigative? Does the public sympathize more with journalists today because of the potential consequences they face? How has the “journalist” demographic as well as our culture’s depiction of the “journalist” changed over the decades? Is persistence and doggedness more admired today?  What can we expect to happen to the value of journalism in the future and how has the definition already evolved? And in that case, what is the value of journalism in the world of online self publishing and blogging?

This is a lot of questions packed into one topic, but what do you guys think?! Thanks!

All Done!

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 2.29.53 AMI’ve realized, low and behold, that I actually really enjoy blogging. Creating my e-portfolio became a slight obsession of mine. I would plan to spend an hour here and there tweaking things, but one hour often turned into four…or six. I fully intend to maintain this blog of mine after this course is over. I’ve realized that it is the perfect outlet for whatever I may want to express at any given moment.

Although WordPress was incredibly tedious (I had no background experience), I’ve come to find out how much it really offers. Although I am not totally satisfied with some of the visual aspects of my blog, I have come to terms with it. I think that the blog itself has become that essay I spend forever on and am constantly wanting to revise. It’s never perfect. But the beautiful thing about blogs is their dynamic nature — they’re meant to be constantly changed and improved upon.

So getting to the point here, my E-Portfolio is themed around documentation and the nostalgia that comes along with it. Much of Writing 220 required me to look back into my past to find inspiration I did not know existed. For me, documentation (whether it’s through video, photography, or writing) helps me make sense of my past, the path I’ve chosen to take, and I will choose to take it in the future. The tangible nature of these forms of documentation juxtaposes a more figurative and abstract style of writing that I have chosen to use for most of the blog. Also, I have to mention that I really enjoyed bringing in these forms of documentation. It allowed me to incorporate topics such as film, photography, and music, all of which I am extremely enthusiastic about.

The title “Out of the Blue,” along with the subtitle, which is a quote from my current journal (yes I write in a journal sometimes, NOT A DIARY) are explained in the two posts that are included in the slideshow on the homepage. I wanted to include a lot of visuals, and the slideshow allowed me to do so dynamically.

Overall, my blog is the embodiment of my realization that the decisions we have made in the past (whether they led us astray or not) have formed a path that is individual to us in a beautiful way, no matter how non-linear this path may be. We don’t have to make all of the right decisions to pave the “right” path. We have to make mistakes along the way and leave room to just explore for the sake of exploring. We have to want to solve the mystery behind our own path and documentation helps us translate these abstract concepts into more attainable and coherent realities.

Enough with all of that. Here is my E-Portfolio/Blog! Hope you find it interesting!




Blogging World, Here I Come

Up until this point, I thought I had my blog all figured out- well it looks as though there’s probably some major thematic work to do. Here’s the story: I’ve become enthusiastic lately about the prospect of adding fun tabs (that aren’t directly related to academic writing) that reveal different aspects of myself that I sadly don’t usually get to talk about. Needless to say, I want to bring a lot of components into my portfolio BUT most importantly- and this sums up my dilemma- I want to stick to a more figurative tone/style of writing.

One of the biggest weaknesses in my writing is being too wordy (yeah this blog post is approaching that point already) and not straightforward enough. I think that a lot of this stems from the fact that I love being figurative, that I love reading figurative pieces that make me think outside of the box. Although I cannot necessarily channel this style in its entirety, because that would be rather obnoxious, I want to make my own abstract phrases and metaphors more tangible for the reader, so that they more clearly convey the ideas I want them to. Mostly, I am thinking presently about the contextual introduction.

Ideally, the portfolio will highlight

1.)  A style of writing that channels these figurative, metaphorical, abstract (okay you get it) tendencies, but also improves/builds upon them by making them more accessible. I want to imply facts about myself, not state them explicitly.

2.)  In less broad terms/ Let’s tone it down- I want to bring in other forms of media to add contrast to my writing. I plan on associating each piece of my writing with a picture from my past – after all, my contextual intro focuses partially on the importance of documentation and nostalgia (at least for me). It allows me to think about my past in comparison to where I am now in a clearer way. It helps me to realize that I am on my own path, even if that path isn’t a straight shot. Sometimes we need these tangible aids to guide us, when our minds are too clouded to pick out what’s important and what’s not. Simultaneously, this allows me to bring in those outside interests, such as photography.

3.)  I want this portfolio to create its own nostalgia- visuals will be very important, as they will be used in unison with pieces of writing.  I guess in a way, writing is a form of documentation à so I guess that’s nostalgia too

So, if you couldn’t tell, I’m probably most excited about the fact that I finally get to showcase this more “figurative” style that I have never had the chance to build upon, outside of my own secret writing. As for concerns, there are many. Ugh. I think that I still have some streamlining/condensing to do, in order to establish one concrete theme. Also, I have to still figure out how I want to set up my 220 pieces- do I want to use tabs? Do I want creative names for the tabs? How do I incorporate the overall theme into these titles? Basically I am most concerned about being able to connect everything back to one coherent point. And of course, I have much to learn about WordPress and how I can customize it more. Hopefully I don’t get lost in the blogging world anytime soon.

And if you’re interested, here’s the link to my (so far) portfolio!  hilleliz.wordpress.com


So, really…what’s there to know?! I have to think about this question myself. I don’t claim to be a very secretive person, so this is kinda tough. Generally, I just kinda blurt out what I’m thinking (occasionally thinking before I speak).

Okay. If you read my essays from this class, you wouldn’t be able to pick out the fact that I’m a very nostalgic person. I know that’s pretty vague, so let me elaborate- I like to document everything significant (ehh, significant at least to me) that happens in my life. “Significant” could mean important events, or even just memorable moments.

I just want to be able to remember how it felt to be at certain points in my life. This sounds strange, I know- But I promise I’m not one of those hoarder people on TV. Even when I was little, I was the one taking home videos with my family, or what not, because even then, I knew I would want to look back at them. I also used to write a lot in a journal (NO not a diary). This has tapered lately, due to a general lack of time. However…writing in my journal is on my list of things to do. Yes, I like making lists. They keep me organized.

Anyway, in short (or not really), I want to remember how I used to be, so that I can track how I’ve changed and learned over the years. Documentation is my way of doing this, my way of making things last. In a lot of ways, the MIW has taught me to do this in a new way, in that for each essay I have written, I have had to look back. Although my essays may not be a snapshot of my life however many years ago, they represent the sum of everything that’s affected or inspired me over the years. Nostalgia1

A Collage of Ideas

Taken with a Holga in South Sinai
Taken with a Holga in South Sinai

I began my search for the “ideal” blog by simply typing in different tags in the search box of WordPress. Not so time efficient, but WordPress eventually showed me what I was looking for.

I saw a general trend in which types of blogs I was attracted to. Whether I was flipping through topics on film or photography, I realized that I was really amused with the idea of representing a piece of writing, or even an idea with an image. After all, they say a picture can represent a thousand words. Cheesy, I know…but still.

One blog called “The Colors That I Am” focuses primarily on lomography, which is something I have wanted to experiment with for a while now; I just haven’t bought the fancy film yet. I have an old 35 mm Pentax camera which I prefer over digital film, simply because it gives me a sense of individuality. I know that the way I adjust the lens and the imperfections that occur (yeah it’s a pretty old camera) cannot be reproduced. For me, film photography represents my own personal touch that technology cannot match.

The blog mentioned above describes different “photography challenges” the author took upon himself. Each description is represented by a title and a picture, which you can click on to read the actual story on a separate page.

As opposed to using titles, I would like to provide a picture and then maybe a defining quote underneath that gives the viewer a hint as to the tone of the underlying piece of writing.

Although there are multiple images on the main page of the blog, there are also headers at the top, one of which is titled “get random.” I thought this was super cool, because it takes you to a different piece of writing (paired with a photograph) every time you click it. I think this really allows the viewer to realize the continuity among seemingly unrelated topics.

There are also categories on the top of the page which more coherently organize the photographs, along with personal pieces of the blogger’s own story that creatively connect back to the theme of imagery. He writes a poem expressing how ultra-traditional religious sanctity in Egypt hinders free expression and connects it to his own motivation to pursue photography, saying “I have nothing but these pixels. I want to screech and scream and howl.” I would also like to find a way of pulling different forms of expression together, into one collage that represents a main theme.


Yeah….I Like to Talk

So, I decided to make a podcast to explain the process of making a podcast (so self-reflexive, I know). I used the podcast program in GarageBand, and it took some time to learn where all of the controls were. Lucky for me, LYNDA EXISTS…and she explained it all, or mostly so anyway. I think that just playing around with the program’s different settings myself was just as important though. I’m familiar with sound mixing with music and creating voiceovers for videos, but this was a whole new world– resist the urge to break into song here btw.

I thought that making the introduction with the sound effects and music was actually the most fun part, but I also enjoy the fact that in a podcast, you can use a conversational tone and improvise all you like!

P.s. The music in it really has nothing to do with my project, I just like the song a lot! Click Below to Listen!

Podcast YAY!

New Media for New Songs

NPR: All Songs Considered

Okay, so let me explain this. In my free time, I enjoy searching for music reviews…from anywhere. It used to be Pitchfork, ObscureSound, or Stereogum, but recently, I came to the realization, embarrassingly late, that NPR does not just cover classical music, but is often the first to premier more indie rock/pop albums and songs. I always knew NPR was handy for getting in touch with the latest news…but music?!

In the podcast series, these two men basically review and assess songs from multiple up and coming new albums, all compacted into a single audio file  that the listener can easily download and play back. They play a clip of a song, and then provide feedback on it, giving their opinion, which is informal and improvised. In the meantime, they may fake a British accent to the listener’s delight. They speak their minds and do some more thoughtful work as they compare songs across different albums. Basically, they are creating their own radio show that blends different genres and compares them to each other. And I have to admit, and I am extremely serious when I say this, I kinda want to be a DJ as a “side” job, so this radio host vibe is really appealing to me. Anyway, the purpose of the series is to provide multiple perspectives on music, while prompting the listener to see the music world as a whole, encouraging them to compare different genres.

As my project, I would like to reflect the NPR quirky style music podcast, but instead of using just audio, I would like to incorporate video, HENCE I would like to create a “music review” style video blog. The podcasts, in particular, use audio recording of voices, mixed with recordings of the actual songs, all from different sources. This sound mixing, which would allow me to provide commentary intermittently, would definitely be important to learn for this for this project.

Face the Challenge!

Every time an essay is due, I plan out which day I will spend writing the draft. And I completely dread it. And then that fateful moment arrives. I am sitting, staring at my computer screen. I take the first step.

Taking this first step is always easier than I think it will be and there are a few strategies that explain this, at least for me.

First of all, I generally write my rough drafts in a coffee shop. I really like coffee and often wonder how I would function without it, and of course the atmosphere of Espresso Royale on State Street is a little cozier and less rigid than that of the Grad.

Now that we’ve established the setting, let’s proceed into the actual strategy. I like to write things by hand, and as I jot down bullet points that come to me, I can go back through my notebook with a fun colored pen and organize my thought points into a coherent progression of ideas, well, coherent enough for a shitty rough draft. I can highlight important ideas I want to use, underline what has potential to be supporting evidence, and comment on anything and everything. I don’t experience this effect while typing out my ideas because I can’t rearrange them in a tangible way. The physical act of writing small phrases, not even sentences, creates a “flow” that allows me to get lost inside of my own ideas. In fact, it almost makes it enjoyable. And I also want to make it clear that these bullet points do not constitute an outline of any sort, they are simply a stream of consciousness.

My next step is to go straight into the body paragraphs, in order to avoid restricting my writing to a thesis I wrote before discovering what direction my paper is going.

So, pick up a pen and notebook (no not a macbook pro) and jot down your ideas. Get lost in them. And listen to some good music while doing that. It’s a must. I prefer Sufjan Stevens (I like sharing music choices, if you couldn’t tell). Good luck!