Oh the things you can think, when you put them down with paper and ink!

I have read many well written news or journal articles, but I can’t say that I have a favorite feature writer that I always follow. I love reading and I have many favorite authors. While I have many favorites, when asked who my favorite author is, I always say Theodore Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss.

I remember reading his books as a little girl and they were some of my favorite books. They helped me learn to read and learn to love reading. The stories opened my eyes to new and unique ideas. The illustrations as well as the word usage was creative and inventive. Dr. Seuss wasn’t afraid of creating a new and almost fantastical world.

The Dr. Seuss books and the ideas presented in them have stuck with me throughout my entire life. Geisel was able to phrase ideas in a way that was easy for children to remember.

In the book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, Geisel is able to show the true meaning of Christmas. “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps… means a little bit more!” The line is simple, but the idea is powerful and clear.

One of my favorite, and most quoted phrases, come from the book “The Lorax”. In the book a traveler, known as the Onceler, finds a beautiful land with many coloful truffula trees. It is a beautiful place filled with many animals. As the Onceler creates thneeds, the surrounding landscape is destroyed and the animals are forced to leave their home. Despite warnings from the Lorax, the Onceler continues his business until there are no trees left. All that remains is one seed. The Onceler gives the seed to a young boy with the admonition that “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Not only did he write concisely and succinctly in an easy to understand manner, he also wrote with vivid imagery.

The first lines of “The Lorax” describe the current state of the town. Geisel writes “At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows and the wind smells slow and sour when it blows.” You can almost feel and taste the scene instead of just seeing it.

With the addition of rhymes it makes the ideas and phrases easy to remember. There is a clear and definite pattern to the way Geisel writes and the words and rhythms flow naturally and almost effortlessly.

Geisel worked within his own limits as well. Often working within specific limits of guidelines feels constricting, but in the case of “Green Eggs and Ham”, Geisel was able to create a best seller adhering to strict guidelines. Bennett Cerf, co-founder of Random House books, made a $50 bet that Geisel couldn’t write a book with fifty or fewer different words. Geisel won the bet using exactly fifty different words. “Green Eggs and Ham” became one of Geisel’s most well-known works.

“Cat in the Hat” was another successful book of Geisel’s that was created because of a bet. The challenge was to write a book that a first-grader couldn’t put down and was limited to using 225 words from a first grade spelling list. Geisel used 236 words, more than the amount specified in the bet. Despite not winning this bet, Geisel took on the challenge. He put his best effort forward and created a children’s story that has had a lasting impression on generations.

That is why Theodore Geisel, though he was a children’s writer, is still one of my favorite authors today.

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My Obituary (but not for real)

First, (to whom it may concern) this is not an actual obituary. Second, this is a creative assignment for my journalism class. The first part of the obituary is true, but after the study abroad during spring term everything is a creation of my imagination. (I am going on a study abroad and I will create a blog. The success of that blog is in no way factual or a prediction of what will happen, but if it was I think that would be pretty cool).

Obituary:

Cara Wade, a resident of Happy Valley medical center, was called to heaven last Wednesday afternoon and laid to rest early this morning in the cemetery next to her husband of 65 years.

Born in 1994 in Highland, UT to parents David and Donna Wade. Cara was an only child and learned at a young age how to entertain herself with a vivid imagination. It was not uncommon for her elementary school teachers to call her parents and explain some wild story Cara had told the class.

She continued to develop her creativity through writing and stories. Cara has always loved hearing, telling and creating her own stories. Though she had no siblings, she never felt alone and was capable of entertaining herself on her own. Her favorite playmates were her books, pen and paper, and her flute. She developed her talents and devoted herself to school work.

As a self-proclaimed true Ravenclaw, she loved learning and in turn loved school. Cara was curious about many different things and wanted to learn as much as she could. She excelled in English and History, though she loved learning about many different subjects.

Growing up Cara was quiet and often labeled as shy. While she was quiet, she was not shy. She was strong minded and determined to succeed at whatever she put her mind to.

Initially public speaking was not one of her talents. In high school Cara decided she didn’t want to fear public speaking and confronted her fear head on. After researching more of the benefits of speech and debate she decided to become a part of the high school debate team.

Very few people thought her capable of being successful in the academic sport. People’s underestimation of her abilities drove her to become the best.

Through Cara’s hard work and dedication she attended the National Speech and Debate tournament twice and was the only female to make it to the final round in her event at the Arizona Southwest Championship.

As a senior in high school Cara was chosen to represent the school as the speech and drama Sterling Scholar.

After graduating high school in May 2012 she attended Brigham Young University where she continued to succeed. Her participation in speech and debate helped her develop a love for the art of communication. Her love for the art of communicating, her curiosity and creative nature led her to pursue a degree in journalism.

As Cara learned more about people and cultures and customs she realized that stories are an important aspect of culture. This helped her decide to minor in Anthropology.

While on a study abroad to Western Europe in spring of 2015, Cara developed her skills as a photojournalist. As she traveled she did photojournalism and captured the world and people around her. She started a blog chronicling her adventures. The blog received national attention and she spent the rest of her life traveling and writing about the people she met.

After graduating from Brigham Young University, Cara did freelance writing for National Geographic and Good magazine along with several others. She also produced several world report articles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During an expedition to the Peruvian jungle she became reacquainted with a former college co-worker. The two later got married and had 4 children and 2 dogs. Cara continued to travel and write freelance with her family by her side to share in the adventure.

Cara published several books in addition to her freelance articles. The books ranged from life stories to some of the vivid stories she had created when she was young.

After her husband passed away she had a tendency to lose her sense of reality, but she never forgot who she was or what made her unique.

While she was able to tame her imagination growing up, her imagination became more vivid with age and experience. She returned to her old habit of creating wild stories and telling them as fact. While many of her stories were elaborated or even fictional, the fanciful stories she told brought joy to those who heard them.

Cara refused to accept the fact that she was growing older. She insisted on competing on the local bowling team, the Highland Heartbreakers, until her early 80s.

After a hip injury during a bowling tournament she was admitted to the Happy Valley medical center. During her time there she helped the residents to keep active and continue to enjoy life. One day Cara decided to hold a wheelchair derby. Cara acted as the referee at the finish line to determine which contestant won.

In a freak accident the two leading wheelchairs and their riders collided and crashed near the finish line, taking the finishing line and Cara with them. Hospital staff moved her to a private room for further observations. After a few days it became clear that Cara’s condition was becoming worse.

Cara passed away surrounded by her friends and family. She is survived by her four children and 15 grandchildren.

She lived a wonderful life and brought joy and beauty to many. She will forever be remembered as a woman who continuously pushed the boundaries of her mind and capabilities and will now settle down to enjoy a life of pushing daisies and continue to bring beauty to the world.

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Britt Lesser: Guest Speaker

Britt Lesser, a Brigham Young University Communications graduate, came to address current Communications students. “The world is run by those who show up” Lesser said. She emphasized the importance of showing up and attending meetings and conferences no matter how boring they may be at times. While Lesser was an intern in Washington D.C. she attended every meeting even though the meetings were sometimes boring. This established her as a reliable worker to her employers and allowed her to pursue many fun and exciting job opportunities in the future.

Lesser advised students to develop their passions and learn what interests them while here at BYU. “Take your passions and make them work for you” Lesser said. In a world where communications jobs are ever changing it is important to learn more about yourself and know what you want to do and then make goals to achieve your desired career path. Find someone who can help you achieve these goals. She advised finding someone who works in the student’s desired field and then finding out all about their job and what they do for a living.

She also emphasized that it is hard to prepare for every situation you face in the workplace. Developing marketable skills now will help students’ better face obstacles and challenges in the workplace. Students will face a lot of criticism in the work place. Lesser advised students to learn how to take constructive criticism in stride while here at BYU.

Lesser had to make a lot of tough choices and she took some calculated risks that helped her along her current career path. Her move to Washington D.C. was one of the toughest decisions she’s made, but she doesn’t regret her decision at all. It gave her experience and helped her develop leadership skills.

Lesser ended by reminding students that they not only represent themselves, but they also represent BYU. “Be consistent and do whatever is asked of you” Lesser said. Students’ future employers will notice their consistency in the jobs they are assigned and this will open many new doors for students to learn and grow.

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Faith and Media

With Romney’s campaign for President an increased awareness was brought to the LDS church or Mormons. This was termed the Mormon Moment. Whether or not Romney’s being a Mormon played into why he lost the election, Romney’s religion was a main highlight of main stream news stations. While this is the first time that Mormonism has been highlighted in a Presidential election, it is not the first time that religion has been a main focus of a Presidential election. When John F. Kennedy ran for president his Roman Catholic faith was highlighted by the media.

Some people think that religion and journalism shouldn’t mix, but there are a lot of similarities between the two. They both share similar values within their separate spheres and they both seek a form of truth. Religion seeks truth about spiritual matters, while journalism seeks truth in the world and facts.

Though some media outlets shy away from highlighting religious topics the Dallas Morning News has expanded coverage of religious topics. Whether we like it or not religion plays a major role in our countries makeup. Religion is a factor in almost every moral debate in our country. Church and state may be separate but not completely. Religion affects how we see and write about the world. It’s a fact that the things we consume become a part of us and affect how we see and react to things.

Reporting on religion can be a tricky arena to navigate though. It is good to interact with other faiths and get to know other people and learn new things. These interactions can give us new experiences and help form new friendships. But journalists need to be careful to keep boundaries. Stay neutral and don’t play to cultural stereotypes. Don’t assume that a people or culture is anything like the stereotypes make them seem like. Remember when you assume things it makes an ass out of u and me. Also make sure you don’t get too involved. Don’t import your own thoughts and feelings on a religion. There are many times that writing a story about religion helps others learn more about and understand people better.

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Civil Rights in the Media

While journalists generally try to present truth in an unbiased fashion that is not always the case. In the 1960’s when the Civil Rights movement was in full swing many newspapers had different views and opinions about it. If you compare the headlines of major newspapers from August 28, 1963, the day thousands marched on Washington for equality, the response is shocking. Some newspapers didn’t have the march on Washington as a main story, but a side story. Other newspapers, mainly from the South, gave scathing reports about the event. One newspaper even referred to the demonstrators as black trash littering the streets of Washington. Some newspapers didn’t even realize that they were missing one of the greatest historical moments in the Civil Rights movement and focused on other news that they viewed as more important.

Even in the Washington Post, one of the newspapers that had the march on Washington as a main headline, missed a key historical event. The story focused on the march and the crowded streets and completely overlooked Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech. One of the most famous speeches in our nation’s history.

Everyone has different views and opinions which is why it is important to check multiple news sources to get the most accurate news. If we rely solely upon one news source for news then we may be missing out on some key pieces of news.

Media plays a key role in shaping news and framing it. Many reporters expected to see violence; however no fights or violence was displayed. The media coverage helped the country at large to see the protests as peaceful exercises of rights, helping progress the movement peacefully.

There is a great power in how we frame issues and present news to the public. While blacks now have many rights and freedoms the issue of race is still a problem in our nation. In the Zimmerman and Martin case a lot of the coverage was based around the issue of race. Many citizens felt that race played a significant factor in the case, while others felt the issue of race was irrelevant. No matter what our views may be on the case it is clear to see that issues of race are still prevalent. What up and coming journalists need to focus on now is how we will shape the stories we report and how we will utilize our influence for better or for worse. 

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Boston Marathon Bombings

None of us can easily forget the terror that the Boston Marathon bombings brought during April 2013. This event showed the power that social media has in our world today. News of the bombings spread like wild fire because of social media, tweets, and Facebook posts. The speed that social media brought awareness to the subject was good and bad.

Because everyone wanted to have the most current and up to date information lots of news stations published false facts and accusations without checking up on them. In our world of media we have forgotten that it is better to be late and right than to be early and wrong. This killed the reliability of some of these news organizations. Even in a world with media outlets all around us journalists need to make sure they get the truth and check facts.

While social media may not have always been correct this event showed the impact social media can have and showed us that we need to treat it with more respect. There is a great power in social media and being able to share and connect instantly. Many people were able to connect with friends and family instantly and find out if they were alright or not.

Like always there are those who don’t understand the seriousness of the subject. Multiple scams appeared; people pretending to be bombing victims to get monetary compensation, Facebook pages asking for money, and tweets asking to share a post to donate money to victims. While some pages and donations online were legitimate there were many that were not. This past Halloween there was also a girl who stupidly enough dressed up as a Boston Marathon bombing victim. She was fired from her job and has received some very severe threats through social media. (While I don’t think what she did was right I don’t support the severe criticism and threats she received.)

This event showed the importance of being more media literate. Knowing what information to believe and what information needs to be researched and checked. It also placed a greater check on information placed on social media. Journalists and citizens need to be faster and more accurate in the information they post. 

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The Future of Journalism

When I chose to go into journalism many people told me it was a dead end. They saw journalism as a dying profession because of the Internet. The internet has had a profound impact upon journalism and how journalists work. However, this does not mean that journalism is dying; it simply means that journalism must evolve and find a way to make journalism through the internet profitable. Jobs aren’t shrinking, they are just changing.

Throughout the next few years the new phase of journalism will be created and we are the creators. It is up to us to innovate and create our future. Technology is rapidly advancing and journalists need to find a way to advance right along with it. This is the challenge to journalism, but it is not an end to it.

Journalists need to learn about and know how to work different forms of technology and different social media sites. With a greater knowledge of technology and what it can do journalists will have a better chance of finding and creating jobs for themselves. The more we know the more we are empowered to make a difference.

Social media sites are huge and when used properly can be a great help to journalism. Within two years Instagram had grown larger and become worth more than the New York Times, the largest and most nationally recognized newspaper. If journalists can effectively tap into these social media sites the growth that journalism could have would be unprecedented.

The key to success is to be creative and innovative. Think of a need that society has and fill it or take an existing technology and advance it. Find something that you are passionate about and find a way to make it profitable. While this might be a daunting task at times the possibilities that can be found are limitless. No one can stop you from succeeding and doing what you love if you have the drive and determination to do the impossible and seek out opportunities. There is a lot of potential for journalism to grow and expand with the right now how and determination.

So what will you create? It’s up to you. Now go do something.

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