Obama’s newest threats: Sanger speaks on media, unrest in Middle East

"David E. Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, addresses an audience in the Hyman Forum of the Athenaeum at Goucher College Thursday, April 14, 2011."

I’m a little over three weeks away from my last day of classes at Goucher College, and about five weeks from graduation. I’ve certainly reached the point where everything that’s happening here seems all too familiar. As for photography, at least, I’ve shot every angle on this campus that there is to shoot. 

There’s still an undeniable feeling of nostalgia, though, as these final weeks rush by. I remind myself not to get caught up in those ‘I’m so over it’ thoughts, and to not lose sight of the things I’ve loved about this place. 

One of those is the speakers that come to this campus. It’s particularly helpful as a journalist, given the frequent visits we have by professional reporters and editors from the world’s leading media outlets. It’s a nice compliment to what we’re taught in class and what we live through in our actual journalistic experiences. 

I asked David E. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, my usual cliché question: “What’s your advice for a young journalist?”

His answer has stuck with me, particularly in these weeks which have seemed to revolve around nothing but internships, jobs, and careers. 

“If you go into the industry with an understanding that you are not there as a newspaper reporter, but as a processor and interpreter of data – writing about it, explaining it in front of a camera, doing it on audio, talking about it on television – it’s all of these technologies converging. If you go into it like that, then it’s incredibly satisfying. And what’s the most satisfying part? You get up every morning and you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s a pretty good thing. And the second thing is you get up every morning and you’re still excited about the work. I know more journalists who get up in the morning excited and thrilled to go into work than I do in almost any other field,” he said. 

‘Marley and Me’ and Goucher College


“John Grogan, author of ‘Marley and Me,’ fields a question after his lecture titled ‘Memoir & Me- The Art of First-Person Narrative’ at Goucher College on Monday, March 28, 2011.”

John Grogan, author of the 2006 New York Times bestseller, ‘Marley and Me’, was invited to speak at Goucher College last Monday.

I’ve haven’t read the book or watched the film, but it didn’t matter much for the purposes of this lecture. Grogan, a former reporter and columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, spoke about the differences and similarities between journalism and narrative nonfiction. It was interesting to hear his thoughts on how objectivity and balance play into both styles of writing.

I got to speak with him at dinner before the lecture. He saw me with my camera, and he told me that he used to love to shoot for his college newspaper, although he admitted it was never his forte.

Here’s another post that explains his talk in more detail.

Issue 10 – The Quindecim, The Independent Student Newspaper of Goucher College


"The Quindecim, The Independent Student Newspaper of Goucher College - Issue 10 - March 4, 2011 - Front Page"

Another two weeks, another complete issue of The Quindecim in the books. Layout went extremely quickly this time around. It’s a good lesson on the importance of deadlines. Everything came in early, so we were able to finish a whole day earlier.

I’ve also made it to the interviewing phase of my Senior Honors Thesis project about cases of censorship among student newspapers on College and University campuses, so I’ve had the chance to speak with some other current and former student editors. I’ve enjoyed speaking with them because it’s so easy to relate through the experience of working on a student newspaper.

It’s comforting to know that the good student journalists go through the same struggles and run into the same problems that we do, yet through it all still wouldn’t trade in the work that they do for anything.

Love for the paper is too strong.

Haitian journalist cites shortcomings of American media


"Mr. Joel Dreyfuss, Managing Editor of 'The Root,' collects his thoughts before delivering a lecture on media coverage of the crisis in Haiti at Goucher College Tuesday, March 1, 2011."

Mr. Joel Dreyfuss, Managing Editor of The Root, an online magazine published by The Washington Post providing news and commentary from varying black perspectives, spoke at Goucher College last week about media coverage following last year’s earthquake in Haiti.

He addressed several shortcomings of American media, most of which he said were exemplified through coverage of this crisis.

Dreyfuss’ main talking point was that reporters and large media outlets didn’t take enough into account the complex history and culture of Haiti and its people. He mentioned how most journalists who were sent to Haiti were briefed with ten-page packets merely containing the most important moments in Haitian history. Because of this limited knowledge of history, stories that touched on more deep-seated, longstanding issues were missed.

I had dinner with Mr. Dreyfuss before his lecture, and he asked us if we were sure that we wanted to go into the field of journalism. We all nodded our heads in assent, yet after listening to him speak about all the problems journalism has today, I was a bit confused. I reminded him of that question he asked at dinner, and I asked him what he would advise for a young person who wants to address those problems?

I appreciated his answer, which was simple, honest and realistic. He said that for the most part, those who have worked in the media for years are jaded, and that journalism needs youth and enthusiasm.

He summed his answer up in two words: “Do it.”

Journalism from Egypt: Inspiring against hostile odds


"Demonstrators create a human roadblock in front of a police van in Berlin, Germany's Potsdamer Platz, Thursday, July 20, 2009. A rally was held to protest German police and government involvement."

A few hours ago, I wrote some thoughts about this semester’s first issue of The Quindecim, our student newspaper at Goucher College. You can read the entire post here, but here’s what I had to say about our efforts to get that paper to press:

Three straight nights of layout, tough decision making, and early-morning coffee breaks made for a pretty tough week. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I do this in the first place.

Since then, I’ve read a few reports that immediately made me rethink what I wrote. Here is why.

This week, more than 100 journalists working in Egypt were attacked, according to a Baltimore Sun article. News crews have been assaulted, detained, threatened, and intimidated by thugs and looters. In some cases, they’ve had their equipment seized.

A tough week? While we sat in our nicely decorated office under strands of jovial, colorful Christmas lights, here is what photojournalists in Egypt were looking at. While we listened to some good music as we laid out our newspaper, here is how CNN’s Anderson Cooper had to broadcast his report.

Yet despite being confronted with such disturbing attempts to stop the world from being informed, these journalists, cooped up in their tiny rooms and underground posts, are still finding ways to get their information out.

I took the above photograph on the outskirts of a somewhat violent protest I stumbled into in Berlin several years ago. I included it with this post because I still remember the rush I had trying to use pictures as information to make some sense out of an otherwise  chaotic situation.

That’s what journalists are doing in Egypt right now. It’s a humbling reminder and a heroic collective effort. Your thoughts?

Judy Woodruff speaks during Family Weekend

"Judy Woodruff, co-anchor and senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour, receives a gift after discussing the 2010 midterm elections in the Hyman Forum at Goucher College Friday, October 8, 2010."

I always look forward to Family Weekend at Goucher because the college is always sure to bring in an amazing speaker for families to listen to.

This year was particularly exciting for us newspaper staffers because that speaker was Judy Woodruff, a very prominent news figure. She discussed the 2010 Midterm Election.

I stepped up to the microphone after the conversation was opened up to the audience to ask her a question: what skills should the young generation of journalists be learning, and what frame of mind should we have as the media changes so quickly?

She told me that it’s not just about writing, or not just about photography, anymore. Rather, one should know how to interview, write, take pictures and video, and use online media. She also said that we should stay curious and passionate, work hard, and read copious amounts of articles and books.

Issue 1 – The Quindecim, The Independent Student Newspaper of Goucher College

"The Quindecim, The Independent Student Newspaper of Goucher College - Issue 1 - September 10, 2010 - Front Page"

The first issue of the revitalized student newspaper at Goucher College was published on Friday, September 10, 2010. I’ll be posting our front page designs as an opportunity to reflect on each of the 14 issues we will publish this academic year. Below is the Editor’s Letter I wrote explaining all the changes we made to improve The Quindecim as it appeared in this first issue.

‘Quindecim redecorates, revitalizes’

Billie Weiss


Student journalism is a tradition that has endured at Goucher College for nearly a century. Founded in 1913, The Quindecim has served as a voice of the students during the most important moments in the college’s rich history.

Last year, however, The Q, as it is more commonly referred to, nearly disappeared. For almost the entire Fall semester, we failed to publish a single issue of the newspaper.

The grand opening of the Athenaeum, the addition of multiple new athletic facilities, and Karl Rove’s memorable visit to campus were among the numerous newsworthy occasions marking Goucher’s 125th anniversary that we did not cover.

A small group of persistent and loyal editors, short on resources and staff, managed to publish a first issue. We spent countless late nights throughout the year picking the publication up off its feet.

I’ve been a part of this newspaper for three years. I’ve seen it at its best and at its worst. Now, as Editor-In-Chief, it is my duty to inspire others in revitalizing our publication. The other editors and I share a common vision: the reestablishment of The Quindecim as Goucher’s reliable source of student news.

Our mission is to provide Goucher College with transparent, trustworthy, verified information. We seek to give all aspects of life on campus equal coverage. Through engaging but unbiased, factual reporting, we aim to spark lively conversation throughout the Goucher community.

My priority is to restore and renew the fairness and accuracy many believe The Quindecim has lacked over the past several years. With help from countless individuals and offices on campus, we’ve made big changes over the summer to ensure that this happens.

We have a new, extremely talented, diverse, and enthusiastic board of editors. The leaders of this publication are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. We had a huge turnout to our informational meeting last week. Over 40 students interested in journalism, reporting, writing, blogging, website design, video, multimedia, newspaper layout, social media, cartooning, advertising, and business management filled our office.

We’ve added a new Global Section to each edition of the newspaper to ensure regular coverage of one of Goucher’s most unique characteristics: the study abroad requirement. We’ll gather reactions to the requirement as well as articles, notes, memoirs, and photographs from students who have studied and who are currently studying in foreign countries. We’ll also provide coverage for stories that reach beyond Goucher’s campus.

Changes in style accompany our changes in substance. With the help of the Office of Communications, The Q has been completely redesigned with a crisp, clean, and updated layout. Our paper now has a fresh, professional, and attractive new look.

In addition to an aesthetic redesign of our website, we’ve also incorporated multimedia, including photos, videos, podcasts, and blogs. With presence on Facebook and Twitter, the Goucher community can join the conversation and share its thoughts by utilizing the expansive world of social media.

Our previously cockroach infested, cluttered, and chaotic office has been given a makeover. The walls are now covered with items one would find in a professional newsroom: past editions of our publication, maps, clocks, white boards, bulletin boards, and calendars. We’ve added new, high quality computer equipment and workspaces as well. It’s one of the most impressive student club spaces on campus, a sacred space where we can hold weekly staff meetings and produce new content on a daily basis.

It’s important to note that these improvements are useless, however, without engagement from you, the Goucher community.

I encourage you to pick up the paper. Read it. Share your thoughts on campus issues. Connect with us online. Give us ideas. Let us know how we can improve. Join our staff.

I’m confident that this type of interaction, combined with the fresh enthusiasm that has taken over this publication, will make for a truly special year. I’m excited for what’s to come.

The Q is back!

Graduate School

"The sun sets behind Alma Mater, a statue of the goddess Minerva, at Columbia University in New York City Sunday, August 8, 2010."

It’s hard to believe how quickly these four years have passed by.

I went to New York City this weekend to look at some Graduate programs for Journalism. I haven’t yet decided that Graduate School will be my next step, but I want to keep my options open for life after Goucher College.

I learned a lot this weekend and looked at some truly impressive programs. New York City was equally impressive, and Baltimore seemed like a bit of a ghost town when I drove in this morning.

This was one of the many good-looking statues on the campus of Columbia University in Morningside Heights. This shot turned out nicely: a Greek goddess silhouetted against a sky made of fire and ice.