Feature Story

December 7, 2009

Nov. 6, 2009

Parking Policies

By Emily Reichard

There is no free parking at American University.

That statement is all too true for American University’s almost 1,500 students who either have cars on campus or drive to campus each day, but they might be surprised to learn that it actually costs the same or less to park at AU than it does at comparable universities in Washington, D.C.

“We just want to make sure that this is a safe place to work and go to school, to drive and to walk across campus,” said Dan Krusemark, assistant coordinator of parking and records management in the Public Safety Office.

In fact, AU has parking closer to campus than most other area universities, including Georgetown and George Washington, according to parking web sites.

The university has calculated that there are more than enough actual parking spaces for the people who pay for them, and all of them are within a 4-minute walk of the center of campus, said Dale Booth, coordinator of parking and records management.

“The positives outweigh the negatives,” said an on-campus sophomore student who chose to remain anonymous.

And, according to Booth, almost nobody gets away without paying for parking, including university board members, parking coordinators and President Kerwin, himself.

“Part of it is enforcing the equity of it,” said Booth. “Everybody has to pay; I have to pay.”

Complementary parking is only extended to guests, while those who park on campus daily, such as faculty, staff and students, pay for monthly, semester and year-long permits, said Krusemark.

AU parking permits cost less than other comparable universities in Washington, D.C., said Booth and Krusemark.  A student at AU pays $468 each semester, or $936 a year for a parking pass whether he or she has a car on campus, or commutes, they said.

At Georgetown University, students who live far enough away from campus may enter a lottery to purchase a permit to keep their cars in a satellite lot off campus every day for a semester, according to the Georgetown Web site.  Only students who are chosen for a pass will pay $656.74 each semester to be shuttled to and from campus to lots in Rosselyn, Va., the web site says.  Students who live on campus, or near campus, are not permitted to purchase Georgetown parking passes, it specifies.

Students living on campus at George Washington University pay $850 per semester to keep their cars in on-campus lots, according to the university website.  Commuter students pay $750 a semester to park in the same lots, it says.

“Nobody gets their paycheck at the end of the week and says, “oh, great, finally that money I wanted to spend on parking,’” said Booth.

To keep parking prices as low as possible, the AU Board of Trustees and parking staff do an internal cost analysis every two years to verify the average cost of commercial parking in D.C., said Krusemark.

“We formulate what the average market price is, and then we meet it,” said Krusemark.  “And we have been very competitive with it.”

Despite that effort, there are plenty of complaints about parking from AU students.

“Just to park your car should not cost you $1,000 dollars a year,” said senior Kevin White, in the Kogod School of Business, and who does not have a daily parking pass.  “Especially in these times.”

“It’s expensive enough to come to this school,” said sophomore Lisa Strack, an on-campus resident who keeps her car in the Centennial Lot, underneath the south side dormitory complex.

Some students try to avoid paying for a daily permit by parking in nearby neighborhoods, but the Good Neighbor Policy was enacted to make sure that the growth of the university did not affect the citizens living in the neighborhoods around the school, said Booth.

Many people think that the school patrols the neighborhoods because it wants money, said Booth.  However, the school is required by law to monitor the neighborhoods, he said.

“I think they should just stick to the campus,” said White.

A lot of people do not realize that the surrounding neighborhood has a lot of influence on the university as well as the city, itself, said Booth.

“By being a good neighbor and parking on campus you are strengthening AU’s relationship with our community,” said Krusemark.

Any parking area on or around the campus is under the school’s jurisdiction, said officials.

“We stand on the fact that we check every space on campus every hour,” said Booth.

However, people do not enjoy being ticketed, and often times they will do things to avoid getting a ticket, said officials.  Sometimes they even verbally accost the student Public Safety Aids, they said.

“Usually people just want to vent and complain to someone and they take it out on us,” said Doug Pierce, administrative supervisor of parking enforcement.

However, these measures are unnecessary, especially in the case of a first offence.  First-time tickets on campus are given a first-citation warning void 99 percent of the time, said Booth.  Those citations are something that city police would not let go, he said.

“In a perfect world we would not have repeat offenders and then we wouldn’t ever have to fine or tow people,” said Krusemark. “Wouldn’t that be great!”

Most of the parking policies at AU have been in place for several years, said Booth.  They have been posted and are consistent, he said.

“Our actual goal is to work ourselves out of a job,” said Booth, jokingly. “The goal is to work ourselves out of a job to the point that we have gotten the word out, everyone understands what they are supposed to do [to pay for parking].”

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American Forum

October 15, 2009

14 October 2009

American Forum

By Emily Reichard

The communication tactics and transparency between President Obama and the young voting demographic have changed since Obama has been elected as president, said panelists at yesterdays American Forum.

The American Forum, “Change +1: Are Young Voters Talking to President Obama?” at American University’s Katzen Arts Center on October 13 discussed young people’s view of the president, among other pressing topics.

Young Americans played a large part in electing President Obama nearly one year ago because they were attracted to his unconventional candidacy aspects said David Corn, a panelist at the American forum yesterday.

“I think it’s not true that young people don’t care,” said Jane Hall, an associate professor at American University, and the moderator for the forum.

Young people voted for Obama because of his leadership and his appearance at a unique moment in their lives- they could identify with him generationally, said David Gregory, a veteran panelist from NBC’s Meet The Press. There was a lot of faith in Obama even though there was not a resounding faith in the government in general, he said.

However, President Obama has been “far more a conventional president” than young people expected him to be, said Corn.  Obama started to highlight a different sort of politics, but as he has become president, he has fallen back on more conventional maneuvers, said Corn.

The Whitehouse has done new things with transparency such as online town hall meetings and new technologies, but in terms of how much they engage the citizens, this presidency is not a lot different than past presidencies, said Corn.

For example, the way he is handling things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just follow the pattern of those who handled it before him, said Corn.  “From perspective he doesn’t look like he is a transformative president in the way he is conducting his presidency,” he said.

Obama has also been criticized about whether or not he can get his promises into action, said Gregory.   People are wondering if his presidency will be as transparent as was his candidacy, he said.

There has been a lot of interesting startups in the government this year online including posting bills for people to access, which has been an improvement in transparency, said Jose Vargas, a panelist from the Huffington Post.  “I don’t really want to give full credit to the Obama administration for that, because that’s technology,” said Vargas.

Even though the Obama candidacy has been given credit for writing the book on pioneering an online candidacy, once they reached the Whitehouse all of that online focus was placed on the backburner, said Vargas.

“Republicans are doing a lot better job on twitter than the democrats are,” said Vargas.

That is because the Republican Party cannot sustain without more support from the 18 to 29-year-old demographic said David Winston, republican strategist and American forum panelist.  Therefore they need to challenge themselves to communicate with this demographic, he said.

However, the current administration wants to deal with the media more, and deploy the president more than the previous administration, said Gregory.   Obama views the press secretary as a very important job, he said.

The issue is that the campaigns work and are efficient at communication, said Gregory.  People are drawn to the campaigns, he said.  The government is not as efficient, he said.

The media needs to do a better job at covering the young people, said Vargas. “I hope young people will lead a demand for better coverage,” he said.

A 21-year-old undergraduate student at AU, Kristin Bohgosian, had this to say for the young demographic.

“During his campaign, President Obama made a lot of promises to young generations such as making sure the cost of education and text books were lower to gain their support,” she said.  Maybe the young voters are falling out of love with Obama, she said.

“I think that there is a lot more love for Obama than there ever was for bush in that demographic,” said Erin McPike, a political reporter and American Forum panelist.

The young have faith in Obama, even if they do not yet have faith in the government, policies or congress, said Gregory.   And there is a way for people to be heard and new ways for people to express opinions due to new medias, he said.

However, technology cannot accomplish this communication on its own, said Vargas.

“Technology is not a panacea,” he said.  “At the end of the day this is about content, this is about message.”

To listen to a broadcast of the forum visit the WAMU website.

Reply to “7 Laws of Journalism”

September 28, 2009

Reply to “7 Laws of Journalism”

Learning in any classroom today is surely different than learning in a classroom a mere decade or two ago.  The advancements in technology add to the speed and efficiency with which information can be transmitted.  A journalism classroom is probably amongst the hardest hit in terms of adjusting to the speed of current technologies.  News sources are not defined in the same ways, and rightfully so. Often people don’t receive word through traditional sources such as newspapers or television reports.  Rather, many people receive news through more personal outlets, like a twitter post, or a quick text from a friend.

While we receive news more quickly in today’s society, the stories often have a longer route to take until the entire population is brought up to speed.   Stories have to be announced somewhere, somehow.  Some stories are announced by a reporter on the 11 o’clock news.  Other stories are written for the first time by a journalist in a national newspaper.  Still others have their first contact with media on a gossip website, the consequence of a leakage.  Once the story is relayed through these primary sources, the message takes a lightning fist trip through every other type of media.   People blog about the news, update their twitter posts/facebook statuses, and text their friends.  How did I learn about the death of Michael Jackson? Facebook statuses.  How did my friend Chris learn? I texted him.  The story is not over until every last media outlet has been touched by the story.  The message is literally relayed millions of times through print, video, audio, online and cellular outlets until everyone is notified some way or another.

The point in all of this is that news and journalism cannot be defined the same way from year to year.  That is why the 7 laws of journalism are effective in teaching journalism.  A teacher can no longer say that there is one way to relay a message as a journalist.  Rather, they must teach an approach that can be used when evaluating the way that the message should be relayed.  Also, the laws can be applied when a student is deciding what kind of journalist they want to be.  There are so many options; it is good to be reminded of the facts that still hold true for any type of journalist- whether they be a New York Times staff reporter, or a self-employed blogger.

Class Blog For Thurs. Sept. 24

September 28, 2009

Class Blog

Thursday, September 24

Thursday’s class was quite unique and we explored some original learning tactics.

First, we received our speech covers back, and we listened to some good examples of leads from our classmates.  This was pretty normal, and everyone seemed to use different lead types to get their points across.

Then the class took an interesting turn.  We re-enacted a “revival” of sorts that was meant to beat the word “said’ into our heads.  There was a long list of terms that we all used improperly in place of the word said.  To each term we were all to exclaim “said!” as a more suitable alternative.  Some prominent examples, amongst many others, included:

Spoke About

Proclaimed

Explained

Emphasized that

Commented on

Addressed listeners

Assures

Asserted

Outlined his plans

After we had sufficiently learned our “said” lesson, we revisited the Roy Peter Clark pod casts.  These pod casts emphasized all of the major points that we had already learned in class including how to use adverbs, and how to use verbs at the beginnings of sentences.

To wrap up the class, we completed an exercise to practice using quotes in stories.  We were reminded to include attributions in every sentence, use active verbs, and to ALWAYS use the word said. Of course, we included the slug, date and byline when we printed our stories.  We had originally planned on talking about the reporter game, but unfortunately the game would not allow us to print out our stories.

A Trend Amongst Students

September 17, 2009

Rows of colorful books on shelves and small wooden study hutches trap the sounds of a small section in the Bender Library on the third floor.  There are five wooden tables taking up the majority of the remaining floor space in the corner. Every seat at each of these five tables is occupied on this Wednesday night.  Some library-goers are tapping pens while reading books, while others type away on their laptop computers.  Still others are whispering and talking at the farthest table while staring excitedly at a computer screen.  This group attracts glances from students at the adjoining tables while they carry on an audible conversation.   A student two tables down quickly pulls out a set of tiny white ear buds, and connects the long white cord to her computer’s headphone jack; she then turns her attention back to the word processer on her screen.  She is not the only person in the room with headphones in.  At least half of the people seated at the tables have some version of these little earpieces attached to their heads.  The faint hum of an unrecognizable song floats from one of the ear buds, and joins the rest of the noise in the room. 

This is a library, but it certainly is not quiet.  On a weekday, handfuls of students are in the library to study, read, and generally get work done.  However, the environment they work in is not always completely silent.  Most of the students in the room listen to music as they work, blocking out the irrelevant noises in exchange for some “noise” with a purpose.  “I like to listen to music because it helps me zone in on my internal thoughts, and it tunes out outside distractions and conversations,” commented Emily Stankiewicz, a sophomore student who often studies in this section of the library. “And it helps me focus on the task at hand.” 

Music being effective as a focusing tool is not merely speculation. On his blog, The Reading Workshop, Jim McGuire, an education experimentalist, posts about his students listening to music while they complete their in-class assignments.  He explains that music has a positive effect on a part of the brain called the corpus callosum; this effect increases learning efficiency by increasing the communication between the two halves of the brain.  He also adds that the music is beneficial for students because it can increase attention levels, memory, and focused learning time. 

The students may or may not know, or care, that the music helps their brains; they are just using it to get their work done while they are still in school.  “I might not need to [listen to music] when I am older because when I’m older, people won’t be fooling around and giggling in the background,” adds sophomore Bernadette Maher.  “But at college there are always people being rowdy.”

Post # 3!

September 3, 2009

MY Thoughts on Objectivity vs. Bias

Everyone has a bias.  See- By writing that statement, I have already added a bias to this piece.  Our biases come from our own original beliefs, opinions, experiences, morals, values, etc… If everyone is biased, then all human-created pieces of writing are, or have the potential to be, viewed as opinion.  Consequently, hard-news stories are not usually completely fair or objective.  This is a problem. Why?  Because opinions don’t belong in the news, they belong in opinion columns and movie reviews.  Think about it.  A reader knows that a movie review is opinion, and therefore they can easily dismiss that review as irrelevant once they see the movie.  However, we can’t have people thinking that they can dismiss a hard-news story because the news is the only source of information that the majority of the population has access to.  The average Joe can’t just read a news story about President Obama’s plan to carry out his Health Care goals and then go hang out with him to verify the facts.  No.  We as a population need to be able to trust the news as the truth.  However, I’m not sure we can do that so easily without a few changes.  Like I said, biases are unavoidable, and sometimes they are hard to recognize and define.  The web allows for such a wealth of information that sometimes we don’t even know where the information is coming from.  Out of context, a story could seem completely objective when actually it doesn’t even contain all of the facts.  Just because an author does not come out right away and state a bias does no mean it is not there.  So we as readers, and the media as providers, need to have a few simple guidelines.  First, we as readers need to be able to recognize where are news is coming from.  Dr. Andrew Cline of the media ethics and rhetoric journal, Rhetorica, provides a good checklist, if you will, of things to keep in mind when picking up and article.  Dr. Cline’s important examples in his “Rhetorica Critical Meter” include determining where the article was published, who financially supports the source, and where the author might stand on the political spectrum.  If a reader first acknowledges these inquire, amongst others, then they will be able to successfully recognize a possible bias, and take it with a grain of salt.  Perhaps a true news seeker might look for their news from multiple sources before finally assuming they have the full story. 

In an attempt to help readers, it might beseech media sources to outwardly claim their political affiliation.  The inclusion of this type of information would not sway most readers, because the knowledge can be found elsewhere if needed.  However, it would build trust and credibility between the news source and its consumer.  I believe that consumers have the right to know not only the truth about the news they are reading, but also the truth about the people who are delivering their news.

Post # 2!

August 31, 2009

Reading this book is like eating Chef Boyardee.  Let me explain… Chef Boyardee now comes with a full serving of vegetables in every bowl.  BUT, the kids don’t know that.  So, in essence, Chef Boyardee is health disguised as delicious kid-friendly junk food.  Inside Reporting is just the same; Educational information disguised with fun-to-read news stories and colorful diagrams.  Seriously though, it is easy to read, and I feel like it keeps my ADD at bay. 

The most helpful part of this book is the astounding amounts of examples.  Already I know what to look for in a lead for any type of news story: Opinion, Hard-news, sports, Internationals etc… Writing some leads will be another story, however.  I hope that I can train myself to find the most important information from any story.  That is something I have an issue with.  The most tiny, insignificant details always find their way into the stories I tell; I just don’t like to leave out anything!   I’m excited to practice my writing skills, although writing with the AP style is going to take some getting used to after I have been using MLA for the past, say, 10 years of my life.

Post #1!

August 27, 2009

My First Blog Ever!- 8/26/09

I am not going to lie, I thought reading Inside Reporting was really hard at first.  There was so much color and text on one page I really did not know where to start and finish reading.  I would start reading one passage and then be distracted by another and start on that one before finishing the first passage.  However, once I got into the book a little bit I found that focusing was easier because each passage was short and to the point.  I also really enjoyed the incorporation of so many pictures and diagrams, it really helped keep my attention and I didn’t start to fall asleep as I read.  As far as the content of reading, I appreciated the brief history overview.  I definitely was not looking for a long history lesson in the first chapter, as we already reviewed this in the last class.  My favorite part of the reading was the description of how the news comes together, and the newsroom jargon.  This was the biggest wealth of information, besides the introverted pyramid, that I hadn’t already heard referenced at least at one time or another.  I sort of feel like I could be comfortable writing a newspaper article now.

The introverted pyramid was also a new term for me, however when I continued reading about it I found that it seemed like an obvious tactic that I have seen many times while reading the news.  I guess to me it seems like the most useful form of writing and communicating the news.

After reading the first few chapters I have a deep expectation that I will learn a lot of new information during this course about the structure of news and the people who report it.  Using this information I hope to be able to at least attempt to replicate the style of writing used in journalism.  I think knowing this style of writing will broaden my horizons not only in my communication classes, but also across the spectrum.  I like adding writing styles to my repertoire because it makes writing much more interesting for me and for my audience.  I hope that the very least I can gain from this course is the ability to captivate an audience when I write in my future classes and in my career.

Hello world!

August 26, 2009

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