Writing 220: The President and the Press

My final project considers the topic of misinformation in terms of the clash between the Presidency and the press over control of the truth. The concept sprouted directly from the verbal clash between President Trump and CNN Reporter Jim Acosta at the White House in November, as claims that President Trump’s behavior is unprecedented emerged. These claims and the clear despise President Trump has for the media made me wonder about past presidents’ relationships with the press corps that covered them. What I found both erases the notion that President Trump’s behavior is unprecedented while also revealing there is something different about President Trump which makes him more dangerous to the freedom of the press. The entire experience of researching, analyzing, and reflecting on this topic, which took me all the way through the history of the United States, has been the most challenging, thought-provoking, and rewarding piece of writing I have taken on.

I have grown substantially as a writer this semester. The focus Writing 220 places on the process of writing was its greatest gift to me. My largest challenge as a writer has always been getting the ideas in my mind onto the page. Writing 220 forced me to dissect the way I went about writing something, breaking up each experiment into sections. Reflection was also another aspect of this class which allowed me to grow as a writer. Reflecting became synonymous with learning in this class for me. Each experiment pushed me in unique ways and reflecting on each one made me more prepared for the next one. I will carry this habit of reflecting in my future writing.

As you go about reading my final project I ask you to consider the driving question behind it: who determines the truth and what forces impact our understanding of it? As I dissect, that question has only become more muddled over time, but it’s worth struggling over. The relationship between the president and the press has had concrete consequences on the lives of Americans for centuries, and it will continue to impact us and adapt with changing technologies in our lifetimes. I hope you reflect on and struggle with the concepts I flesh out as much as I did. Enjoy.

Dear Prospective Minor in Writing Applicants,

I was hesitant to apply to the Minor in Writing because, well, I didn’t really know what it was. It was introduced to me with an email forwarded from an older friend without any real explanation. As I searched the Sweetland Center’s website I understood the structure of the program, but I still had unanswered questions. How much freedom do I have to write what I want? Am I just going to be studying grammar and punctuation all day? What will the classes be like?

I wished I could have seen students’ work, their progression, their struggles. I wished that there was a glimpse into the program other than the descriptions of courses and historical syllabi.

Over the course my time in the Minor in Writing Gateway, I’ve developed an understanding for all of these questions. And so, I wanted to share my experiences to show you, the prospective applicants, my struggles and progression, my missteps and successes.

An accumulation of my experimentation can be found here, in my Gateway ePortfolio.

You’ll see a discovery of my writing process, how I learned to think again. You’ll see the progression of my voice and how I learned to highlight it throughout various genres. You’ll see how I developed a strong sense of different audiences, and how they might react to assorted techniques.

And hopefully, you’ll see how I plan on continuing to experiment and question my ideas from now, until my final Capstone course, and beyond.

Happy reading, prospective students. Send in that application; you won’t regret it.

Best,

Ashley

Analyzing Modes of Communication in Everyday Texts

While reading the Writer/Designer textbook I was challenged to pay particular attention to the unique ways in which information is been presented to me, in order to compare and contrast how different texts use modes to communicate ideas. Sitting in class, I looked at the different ways in which teachers display their lessons. Scrolling through Facebook, I looked at the different mediums in which I learned about the latest news from friends, family members, and even businesses. I even spent more time analyzing videos, fliers, and stickers on computers.

The first text that I noticed was chapter from my Writer/Designer that I had just finished reading. It is formatted as a textbook, with visual aids throughout the paragraphs. Throughout the chapter I noticed these modes being used:

  • Spatial
  • Linguistic
  • Visual

I’ve attached an example of a visual aid used within the chapter to describe the topic of multimodality. The spatial mode accounts for how the authors arranged the text, using a circular visual aid on the right, with accompanying text on the left. This decision makes me believe that the authors wanted to describe the aid first, giving insight on what it is depicting since a reader usually looks from the left to the right. The linguistic mode accounts for the author’s word choice that is relatively basic and informal, which is indicative of the broad audience of those attempting to better their writing skills in an educational manner. The visual mode accounts for the images chosen to represent information, which in this case is bright and colorful, looking to draw and retain the reader’s attention.

I continued to look at texts other than my textbook in the same manner. On a Facebook page called Jewlish, a media source for both modern and traditional Jewish recipes and food-related news, I watched a video on how to make Apple Challah because of the recent High Holiday, Rosh Hashanah. While watching the video, found at https://www.facebook.com/sojewlish/videos/856792114478285/ , I noticed these modes being used:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic
  • Aural
  • Gestural

The spatial mode accounts for how the bowls, spoons, and ingredients are arranged throughout the video, in a visually appealing and neat manner. The visual mode accounts for the black background, gray table, and clear bowls that are used in order to not distract the viewer from the actual food. The linguistic mode is less prevalent with this medium and is only used to allow the viewer to read the ingredients and amount being used for the recipe. The aural mode accounts for the background music that is light and fun, as well as the exclusion of sounds that would be made if someone were actually cooking. The gestural mode, in this case, is the hand motions of the actor making the food uses throughout his cooking, that are precise and professional.

In an online flier for the Mass Meeting for an entrepreneurial club on campus, called InnovateUM, I noticed several modes being used, despite its simplicity:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic

The spatial mode is seen with the arrangement of the words in order to draw attention to the club name and the reason for the flier, the mass meeting. I think this decision of arrangement is used because if the reader is interested in the club and going to the mass meeting, then they will read on to see the date, time, and place of the event. The visual mode accounts for the color choice, using maize and blue as a homage to the University of Michigan, and the choice of using a gear and lightbulb in order to represent innovation, the basis of the club. Although there are only a few words on the online flier, they fit into the linguistic mode and show a precise use of language.

Over the weekend I read a review article for a product, called SafeSound Personal Alarm, I was looking into buying. The alarm acts as a substitution for pepper spray in states that it is illegal to carry. The article gives a personal account from a user as well as facts on the product and can be read here. I noticed these modes throughout the reading:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic

The author of the article, in my opinion, had little consideration for the spatial arrangement of the information. Text and pictures, as well as hyperlinks to other pages were crowded throughout the webpage, making it hard to read as there were many distractions. This was a problem for me with the visuals on the page too, which were important to include because they showed the product, but too large which also distracted me from other information. The linguistic aspect was a series of choices that led to a more informal tone, even when presenting facts, which I thought was important in order to appeal to the audience of mostly women looking to purchase a product to put their minds at ease from attackers.

While scrolling through Facebook and stalking friends of friends this weekend, I came across my a picture my sister’s friend from high school posted. It was of her and her husband on their wedding day. In the picture I noticed these modes at work:

  • Visual
  • Spatial
  • Gestural
  • Linguistic

As a picture, the visual mode is indicative of most of the information being presented. Even though she did not write, “I just got married,” that is the news that is brought to light. From a spatial and gestural perspectives, the arrangement of them as a couple and how they are interacting with each other, shows their love for each other. At first glance, I didn’t notice a linguistic aspect to the picture, but after further examination, I realized that the signage in the background gives key information of the place, Buffalo. In addition, the watermark in the bottom right corner shows the viewer who the photographer is.

Looking comparatively at each mode used to convey information, I noticed that there was much crossover between what the perceived genres are and the modes used. For example, every text includes visual, spatial, and linguistic modes regardless if it is a video, photograph, textbook, article, or flier. It was just the extent of the use of the mode that differed. The only modes that were unique were aural, that was only included in the video from Jewlish, and gestural, that was seen whenever people were physically involved such as the cook from Jewlish and the man and woman in their wedding photos. However often each mode appeared, they all gave further insight on the subject they were attempting to explain.

Fashionably late: The road home

While creating my ePortfolio I spent a lot of time going through the archives, looking at the things that past students had done. This would be where my portfolio would end up after all, like all the others. What could I do to make it truly my own?

I was never the one to present myself on such a public platform, so it was odd creating something about myself, something everyone would look at. It was difficult gaging what was too much information and what was too little, but I think in the end I found a happy medium. It’s cool to see everything I’ve written in class turned into something so visual and interactive. I strove to create a portfolio that would be beautiful to look at and I’m proud of coming as close as I could to that vision.

My portfolio is like an adventure. You can visit and explore, discovering many things. Most people won’t discover much, I’m sure we’re all just browsing casually through each others, looking just to look. Well go on and look as you please.

Check it out: http://rwhutch9.wix.com/rachelhutch

The Final Product

Well folks, here it is: My Final ePortfolio

I really enjoyed this project because I feel like I learned skills that I’ll be able to use for the rest of my life. I also know more about editing websites, which I think will be a very valuable skill to have in the career I plan on pursuing. I definitely appreciate how much work goes into websites now after struggling with applications on mine for hours on end.

I think I struggled most when formatting each page because I felt as if I had to make each page similar enough so the site would look cohesive, but I also didn’t want each page to look the same. It’s also somewhat difficult to lay out the pages in a way that makes sense to every visitor. I changed the format of my navigation bar after receiving some advice during peer review, so that was extremely helpful.

After this class is over, I might continue to use the website, but I’m not sure yet because it contains some things I wouldn’t necessarily want to show future employers. I think I did present myself very truthfully as a writer, however, so I’ll have to contemplate what to leave and take out if I decide to continue using it.

Thanks for a great semester, and I hope everyone is as happy with their new ePortfolio as I am with mine!

Tbh: Reflective Writing is Hard

I don’t like eportfolios. They’re too much. It’s so hard trying to reflect when you’re far away from the process. I wish we could’ve written reflectively and purposefully for the eportfolio right after we finished our projects.

That being said, I’m very happy with the photo on my site. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I designed the entire site around it. I’m happy with how most pages look, besides repurposing. if i could change anything I would make that page a slideshow of documents/screenshots with edits in the margin. I completely gave up on not having a lot of text. Hopefully I’ll master finding the right balance in the capstone course.

The process is odd because you have to build a consistent infrastructure before you do anything else, but at the same time have enough wiggle room for different things. And that infrastructure has to be aesthetically pleasing and be representative of who you are as a person. Well it doesn’t have to do any of those things, but I want it to! That was probably one of the most time consuming parts.

I achieved my purpose of presenting myself as a writer. Did I do it well, I’m not sure. It was hard to create a theme or guiding principle behind the site, because it’s not real. Like we’re inspired by things and we write about them and they are linked because of the topic. But incorporating why i write and outside work makes it very hard to thematically link everything together. So that took a lot of brainstorming. My theme came about when I was trying to create a cover page/home page. I didn’t have a photo that didn’t use text (because there would be too much text if I added my name underneath or on top or below, which I ended up not doing anyway). So I had to improvise. I got pretentious. I wanted to say something amusing like the profile that starts off  “stuff i wrote” or the life’s a bitch/beach one. So that’s where that stemmed from. And that awkwardness continued into my faq page. Which is embarrassing but very me, and very inspired by Baratunde Thurston’s How to Be Black site.

Overall I’m not happy with the reflective writing. I think I was just unable to grasp that part of the assignment. I want to work on reflective writing, because it’s kinda hard. We don’t learn to do that all the time. We learn to write the stuff we write the reflection on.

http://kcchanel.wix.com/portfolio

The final hoedown.

I have definitely come a long way in my eportfolio (click the link).

Weebly has overall done exactly what I’ve wanted it to…except for some weird color vs black and white back splash fiascos that I still need to sort out…which was help me display my work with little extravaganza on my part. It’s been very user friendly, and the simple site building techniques helped me stick to a professional lay out, which I know if I had more options I would have been tempted to overcrowd the design. #knowyourselfshowyourself

See? I’m already branding.

parks and recreation gif
Just to be clear, I’m “Larry/Gary/Jerry”.

So yeah, I’m pretty happy with the writing side of my eportfolio right now. The design side, however, needs a bit of work. But that’s more just me creating better content for my portfolio more than anything. -laughs sardonically-

Aside from that, I’m definitely pleased with what I was able to put together. Along with the repurposing, remediating, and why/how projects I’m showcasing 4 essays (3 and 1 other media project) that exhibit other genres I’m comfortable writing in. I think this will help develop a better rounded perspective with different topics–since the original source, repurpose, and remediate are all about the same thing. My remediation isn’t even technically writing (…OR IS IT?).

Anyway, something I wanted to achieve in this portfolio was a well-rounded showcasing of my relevant talents as a writer and designer. I think I’ve done an alright job. I’m excited to see how this process changes come Capstone.

Everyone has really done a fantastic job though!

parks and recreation leslie knope
Because all of the Parks and Rec.

ePortfolio and Goodbye :’)

This has been a truly great semester, summed up by my pride in the projects I’ve completed… summed up in how cool I think my eportfolio is. Mouth full! Writing220 was certainly back loaded with work to finish up, but I think it all came together really nicely. The eportfolio was really kind of meaningless to me until I finished up the other work in pieces. I realized just how this would all come together right as it did (and with a lot of thanks to peer work we did in the class). Just as I figured out the best structure to the website, the pieces just fell into place and the website looked and felt really representative of (1) the work I had completed this semester – both within and even outside of this class – and (2) who I am. That’s very cheesy, but it’s true. The eportfolio really represents my aspirations as a writer, so that feels like a job well done.

What would I like you to know about my eportfolio… Well, I think you should know that I did not take that big picture of New York. I got that from Google, as it was licensed online for reuse. Pretty exciting when you get a good picture online that’s licensed for reuse. You should also know that in my “Other Work” section, I have written up a policy recommendation for a policy in New York called “421a” that deals with housing developments and, subsequently, the developments of affordable housing within private housing developments. It’s pretty long, but if you’re interested in stuff like that, give it a skim! Maybe you’ll learn something new.

I also want to say thank you to Naomi and to everyone in this class for a great experience. I looked through some of last week’s blog posts and could see that many people advised the next class to really utilize peer review and get close to their peers. It takes open minded and honest people to really utilize peer review and I know I experienced nothing less than real commitment, good feedback, and support in my writing from my peers. Have a good break, everyone.

 

My eportfolio: wefrank.wix.com/eportfolio

ePortfolio Reflections

At the beginning of the semester I thought that the ePortfolio would be the easiest project of the course. I imagined myself uploading content with minimal formatting, all done in a day. I thought I could just drag in a few photos and upload a few documents and put my name on it and be done. But that was not the case at all.

This project was way more difficult than I expected, but not in a bad way. I struggled with design and layout and making the entire site cohesive despite the different content I put on the site. I felt like nothing was ever centered or looked exactly how I wanted. Most of that frustration was because of the differences depending on screen size. I didn’t know that was an issue until we started working on them in class. I probably spent half an hour in front of my lap top and a big desktop computer going make and forth by the millimeter trying to get the title of one page centered.

After doing all of that, I had to let go. I accepted that everything may not be centered, but it all the text boxes would be roughly how I wanted them to look. If I could, that is something I would keep working on but I think it would make me go cross-eyed. I also plan on working on my home page more. It opens on some recent information about me and a date and time it was updated. I am going to update that as it changes, although it hasn’t changed in a while. I have been too busy with the end of the semester and now finals to read or visit new places. I hope that changes over break and I can update my page soon.

Despite the little imperfections, I am happy with my ePortfolio. I think that it has a good balance of showing my personality and showing my work. I really like having a place to put all of my work that isn’t my documents folder. It is as personal or professional as I want to make it, and now that I have spent a good amount of time working with Wix, I feel like I could change that easily. If I wanted to make it more professional I could easily make those adjustments, and the same with making it more personal. Going forward, I want to add an internships tab where I include posts and pictures from internships past and present. This is taking it in a more professional direction but it is still personal depending on how I write the posts and what pictures I include.

http://shanvail.wix.com/miwportfolio

ePortfolio = Improving Self-Worth

Wow, I didn’t know throwing a bunch of words and pictures onto a webpage could increase my sense of self-worth. I have done a substantial amount of creative writing and visual artwork on my own, but have never really been able to express to people how important creativity is to my life. My ePortfolio allowed me to share the creative side of me with other people. Somehow, by writing my ideologies down, it all just became more real to me.

 

Of course, navigating through a new platform (Wix) also helped me to become more tech savvy–which happened to be one of major goals for undergrad. I’m really proud of myself for being able to learn how to dream a webpage and then build it. Although I most definitely had frustrating moments with Wix. The placement of things didn’t always seem super intuitive, but I powered through. And after about the seventh try, it was smooth coasting.

 

So more on the website itself.

Visual aesthetics has always always been very important to me. I’m very pleased with how I was able to format everything, add background images, and display my artwork on my Visual Arts page. Because this website served to paint an accurate portrayal of myself and the creative work I have done, I chose to present myself in a more casual and playful manner. This especially shows through on my About page.
Check it out: http://minna96.wix.com/eportfolio