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!



Repurposing Post

It was a great idea to work with someone to assist me with some ideas for the repurposing assignment. My partner was very conscious of my interest and what each paper originally hoped to receive. They were also VERY creative and open-minded about all of the possibilities for my Project. It was refreshing to  have my work viewed through different eyes and from a different perspective.

I want to pursue, not one, but TWO topics from the list that my partner developed! They are both very interesting and powerful and deciding between the two seems almost impossible. I believe that my partner developed these topics by not only looking at what I want to accomplish but, by also keeping in mind the original subject of each piece and thinking of ways to stay true to those subjects and choosing ideas that are relevant to them.

In the future, when soliciting advice I will be sure to communicate what I hope to achieve. This experience has encouraged me to think outside of comfort zone when choosing a topic and to never eliminate the wildest possibilities… Because they can be really great!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I got lost in my library search. As I clicked links and side bars, I kept finding myself looking at photographs. I scoured through the Time Magazine covers, the New York Magazine, the National Geographic.  I pulled up images from pivotal moments in human history and was absorbed by the colors on the screen, the power of the images, at how they spoke for themselves with no writing or explanation. After some time, I took a step back, and realized I wasn’t hooked by what exactly I was looking at, but how I was looking at them.

There are millions of photographs and each one captures such a unique and brief moment of time. Photographs preserve moments, allowing them the chance to be seen and talked about later on, when the moment has passed, when the people are gone, or when the event is over. I am fascinated by pictures, by how much they say, without saying anything at all.

From another angle, I am even more fascinated by the pictures that aren’t taken. The moments in time that happen, but are never documented–where the only hope of preservation is through memory. In a way, the moments not captured are far more delicate, far more susceptible to being forgotten. There is something so deliberate about photographs.  They are meant to be seen again, to send some kind of message. I wonder what goes on in people’s lives that they don’t capture on purpose, that they want concealed from the world. There is something (probably a lot) to be said about the pictures not taken.

As tangential as this is, this library search got me thinking about Instagram. This picture-sharing media platform caters to the idea of showing the word the image you wish to share. Instagram lets you edit, filter, sharpen and crop photos so that by the time you share it with your followers, the photograph sends a tailored message, something far from the truth. What comes of this? Of branding yourself in such a “picture perfect” way? There is so much beauty in raw moments, the unedited moments of daily life. That is the beauty, and those are the photographs, worth talking about.

A Story Worth Telling

A few years ago I heard Anna Deavere Smith speak in my hometown, Asheville, North Carolina. Smith is an acclaimed actress, playwright and professor and is featured on television shows like The West Wing and Nurse Jackie. When I saw her perform, she chose monologues from two of her plays, Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, both of which received Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding One-Person Show. She switched seamlessly from one diverse character to another, performing monologues based entirely on interviews she conducted. The result was one of the most hilarious, infuriating, heart wrenching and beautiful pieces of theatre I’ve ever witnessed. Since then, I’ve had a desire to tell stories like she did, to sift through the words and memories of a few people in my community and brings their stories to the surface. Amid an overflowing college schedule, that dream has slowly been pushed further and further down. I think this Minor in Writing Capstone project is the perfect opportunity to bring it to life.

When I began searching the overwhelming University of Michigan databases, I expected to find a few interesting ideas or articles, but nothing particular compelling. Yet, what I found left me breathless. I chose to search through the American Culture database, since telling a community’s stories would explore just that. In that database, I searched for “storytelling” and found nothing. So, I went to the heart of what I want to do, the “interviews”. The first link that popped up was the Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, full of filmed interviews of survivors from everything from the Holocaust to Rwandan Tutsi Genocide. This foundation, founded by Steven Spielberg, tells the stories of survivors and witnesses. Today, they’ve gathered nearly 52,000 testimonies! As the interviewer asks questions to keep the dialogue moving, the survivors simply sit and tell their stories. Watching those interviews, I was covered in goose bumps and completely enraptured.

One particular interview stuck with me. A woman named Hanah Grinfild, a Holocaust survivor, spoke of starving in a concentration camp. Near death, she took a risk when she asked to leave the camp to use the restroom in the woods. She saw a small cabin with fire coming out of the chimney and decided to take the risk and knock on the door. A frightened older woman opened the door and asked quickly what she wanted. When she realized Grinfild was starving, she risked her and her husband’s life by bringing Grinfild in and quickly feeding her before she ran back to the camp. Grinfild returned to the home one more time. The older woman fed her again and gave her a pair of man’s shoes with brand new soles, which her husband had done just for Grinfild. Grinfild, whose feet were wrapped in newspaper and nearly frozen, ran back to camp with a pair of shoes that left her with hope that “there were still people in the world who were human beings”. She then said, “We never returned to that place. I could never thank them. But I will always remember the people, the kindness, the humanity”.

Her story, which I also found on Youtube, can be found here :

From the outside, she merely looked like a woman who had lived a full life, wrinkles etched into her paling skin and her gray hair pulled into a low bun. Yet, behind the everyday façade was a world of pain, unimaginable devastation and beautiful strength. There was a story that needed to be told.

How many people do I pass on the streets of Ann Arbor each day with a story that needs to be told? I don’t know the answer, but I know that it’s far too many people for me to not bring a few of their voices and stories to life.

My research solidified my topic for this project, but also raised several big questions. How will I find the right people to interview and will they want to tell me their stories? What do I do with their interviews? Do I compile a video series, write a series of poems inspired by them or turn them into dramatic monologues like Anna Deavere Smith? What story needs to be told in my community? After watching Hanah Grinfild’s story, these are questions I couldn’t be more excited, or obligated, to answer.



Down the Rabbit Hole I Go…

down_the_rabbit_hole_by_fit51391-d5m5uk0When I made it to the Research Guide page, I immediately clicked on the Humanities category. Some of the other sections interested me, but most of the courses I’ve taken in college are humanities-based and it’s become the field in which I feel most comfortable.

The Humanities category has a wide range of topics in it. I was turned off by the Communications and media links because I want to branch out and do something different in my project. I first looked at the Children’s Literature link. I think it would be fun to write a children’s book; it would be a new challenge for me, and compel me to approach writing in a way that I have not before. I’m not sure what I would write about that is applicable to my life or education and is accessible to children. Another hurdle is animation or art, which is almost always necessary to children’s books. My artistic talents do not go beyond the ability to draw a stick figure, so drawing pictures for an entire (albeit) short book would be very difficult.

As I was perusing the Humanities page, I found myself looking for a journalism link. I didn’t find one, but I think the fact that I wanted to says something about what I am interested in. On the first day of class, while speaking with my partner about potential project topics, I came up with the idea of a newspaper column. I –without any shame –am a big fan of Sex and the City, and was inspired by the protagonist’s fictional weekly column. The columns wouldn’t be quite as scandalous as those of Carrie Bradshaw, but I do think this project would allow me to incorporate humor into my project. As with the children’s book idea, I’m not sure what my topic or angle would be with the column, but the flexibility of such a project would enable me to come at it in different ways.

Overall, the rabbit hole activity was very helpful. The Research Guide didn’t necessarily point me to one specific topic, but helped me think about what I am interested, which is one of, if not the most important steps in choosing a project.