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Archive for Local news

Execution in texas

Posted by: | April 11, 2016 | No Comment |

AR-304069945.jpg&updated=201604061907&MaxW=800&maxH=800&noborderPablo Lucio Vasquez was executed on Wednesday of last week for the slaying of a 12 year old boy in 1998. Not only did he slaughter this boy, but he drank his blood too! Vasquez told Texas police that he was drunk and high when it happened. He also said that there were voices in his head telling him to kill the boy and then to drink the blood as a sacrifice offering for Satan.

So what exactly happened?

Vasquez and his cousin were at a party the night of the murder (April 18, 1998), when he struck the victim in the head with a piece of pipe and a shovel. The 12 year old was buried behind a residence and Vasquez took a ring and a necklace from him.

When asked if he had a final statement, Vasquez told his relatives that were watching for the window that he loved them and then thanked them for being there. He then turned to the victim’s family and said, “I’m sorry to David’s family. This is the only way that I can be forgiven. You got your justice right here.”

After receiving a lethal dose of pentobarbital, he said “see you on the other side” and died 24 minutes later. 

under: Comm 455, Local news

In Peggy McIntosh’s article ‘White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ she uses a listicle to describe 50 ways she is privileged. From being able to talk with her mouth full (#17), nice neighbors (#4), and even being late ( #39) she matter-a-factly addresses the way she, as white woman, is privileged.  She didn’t write her piece for me, but for people who look like her.

McIntosh is a rarity; it’s refreshing.

When you tell a person they are privileged, the assume you’re talking about money. You hear the ‘ I worked for what I have’ and ‘I didn’t go to an Ivy’ argument a lot when you bring up privilege. The misconception is that privilege equates money, not that privilege is linked to a system, our system. That in itself, is privilege. Interestingly enough, this excerpt was written in the 90s. 16 years into the 2000s you would think we would have progressed and society would have gone through some type of ‘enlightenment’, realizing it’s systematically oppressive ways.


Think again.

The article works because she is pointing out daily situations that a privileged person takes for granted. Simply, but succinctly she breaks it down. The examples are simple, but the understanding where privilege comes from and how it manifests is more difficult.


A few days ago, Wendy Bell, a former anchor at Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV started trending. It wasn’t because she broke a news story, or made it into a Buzzfeed ‘best TV bloopers’, but because she was fired. She broke one of the cardinal rules of journalism —stick to the facts. Not only did she ignore a basic industry standard, she extrapolated on a situation to give her *personal* take on a tragic situation.

Often times, broadcast journalists forget that they are public figures. And as a public figure, anything and everything you say is scrutinized. With that being said, being a public figure isn’t an excuse for ignorance. What got her in trouble is a now deleted Facebook post. Surely, she was well-meaning and she’s not a ‘bad person’ but her rhetoric is exactly what McIntosh was inadvertently addressing in her piece.

Bell was referring to a shooting that left five people and an unborn child dead at a backyard cookout. An unknown shooter was still on the run when Bell posted this:

“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. … They are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”

Problematic is putting it nicely.

She ended her Facebook post by juxtaposing the above with a story of a “young, African American teen hustling like nobody’s business” referring to him as hope and ending with an encouraging ‘He’s going to Make it.’

She later redacted the post, until eventually taking it down and issuing an apology.

It read in part: ‘I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist. I regret offending anyone. I’m truly sorry.”

Here in part lies the problem, Bell and people like her don’t understand what racism or systematic oppression is. They don’t understand  #30 on McIntoshs list ( If I declare there is  a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.) and they don’t understand that even being able to discuss ‘race issues’ and not have repercussions is a privilege.

Bell inserted her opinion as the facts, she assumed that the gunman was black. She perpetuated every black stereotype by asserting that they have siblings from multiple fathers and their mother’s work multiple jobs.

Bell ignores her privilege, the privilege of only having to have one job.

Damon Young, in his article for ‘The Root’ and Wendy Bell’s firing, talks about the obliviousness that white people have towards their privilege. The same unawareness that lead McIntosh to write 50 ways that people experience privilege and largely are unaware of it.

What caught us both was the amount of people who thought Bell did nothing wrong. That was she said was right and honest and in no way constituted even a slight reprimand.

‘They don’t want to admit that this privilege is so ingrained in America’s zeitgeist, so specifically American, that challenging it feels insulting—threatening, even—to them. They don’t realize that the incredulousness felt when forced to acknowledge the presence of privilege is actually proof of its existence.’

This brings me back to the quote at the top of McIntosh’s article. It reads —

“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group”

Similarly, Bell sympathizers argue that because her ignorance wasn’t intentional, the ‘racism card’  becomes invalid. Because she wasn’t being ‘mean’ her hands are clean, she is able to be #30 with her whiteness as her credibility.

under: Comm 455, Local news
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… ok not really, but there are a few new technologies that have emergergered recently that automate news writing and delivery.


1- In China, a new channel is using Microsoft artificial intelligence to all to anchors and deliver weather forecasts.


This is interesting because in the future this could remove weather anchors like Al Roker.


2- Computer programs are writing some Associated Press stories

While the software was used to report on some business stories, this does not mean that repairs jobs will go away. Robots are not able to generate opinions or even formulate interview questions.


Both of these examples show that fact base news is very easy to cover. Subjects like weather and business are very easy to report on because they are just numbers. However, for a story where the reporter has to formulate and discuss opinions, like politics, are difficult for robots to report on.

under: Comm 455, Local news
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Backpack journalism

Posted by: | March 29, 2016 | No Comment |

With today’s technology, it is now possible to deliver breaking news stories with only using a phone ( and maybe a laptop.) This idea of backpack journalism means that a journalist can go into the field with only a few items, and deliver a news story to their bureau just as if they used expensive equipment.

I personally can say that backpack journalism is a great tool for journalists to have. For example, recently I made a video package using my phone as a camera.

There are a few things that one must consider before pursuing a story though

    1. Remember to charge your phone-This goes without saying, but if you don’t charge your phone, you have nothing to film with.
    2.  Don’t film sideways
    3. Make sure your shots are well lit. Phones do not have a powerful image señor compared to professional camcorders, so  you need to make sure your subject is not too dark or too bright.

With using small camcorders or phones it is now even easier to deliver breaking news, but there is still even more you can do with your phone. Check out my earlier blog post about how to use your phone to deliver video news live.


under: Comm 455, Local news, social media
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It’s no big deal?

Posted by: | March 28, 2016 | No Comment |

0322_rowlett_demolition02_1458707156491_1131272_ver1.0Imagine how you would feel after a tornado hits your town, but your home was untouched. You would feel amazing, blessed even. Now imagine coming home the next day, only to find a demolishing company demolishing your home before realizing their mistake! Now how would you feel? Not too happy.

Well this is what happened in Rowlett, Texas last week. Home owner Lindsay Diaz came home that Tuesday to find her home being mistakenly demolished.

“Boom. Just like the tornado came through again,” home owner Lindsay Diaz says.

The house that was meant to be demolished was the house on Cousteau Drive, which was a block over. To make matters worse, when Diaz called the president of the company that demolished her home, he started making excuses!

Nabors CEO George Gomez said the crew that was assigned to the project thought they 0322_rowlett_demolition01_1458707156531_1131273_ver1.0tore the correct home down until they realized otherwise. He later said the situation was “no big deal.” There seems to be no sympathy for their mistake or for the effects on the Diaz family because of this mistake.

Diaz says there hasn’t been an apology for their mistake since it happened. Now they have to look to rebuild their home.




under: Comm 455, Local news

Notice: this contains content that is NSFW.

On St. Patricks’s Day weekend, local ABC affiliate WJLA-TV was reporting on Arlington residents drinking at local pubs. Ironically, right as news anchor Kimberly Suiters asked reporter Jeff Goldberg about residents keeping their clothes on, a flasher walks in frame of the camera. Goldberg barely reacted and continued with the story.

Later, both Suiters and Goldberg referenced the incident on Twitter, however the tweets have since been deleted.


In the United States the majority of Americans own a DVR. In the context of this story, a Washingtonian could have “rewound” the broadcast to watch over the clip again. In my opinion, this makes content advisories on live TV all that more important. Mistakes in live TV can be re-uploaded online for the entire world to see not just the local audience. This means that one small flub or mistake could be seen by millions of people worldwide instead of the thousands locally. This could be damaging to an anchor or TV station’s credibility.



under: Comm 455, Local news

On a tragic Nov. 22 over 52 years ago, Americans were bombarded with the news of President John F. Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Texas. According to Reuters “the six seconds” that ended with the U.S. President’s life, transformed news coverage and the way people perceived the media.



The news spread very rapidly.  According to The Observer, Lee Oswald fired at the President at 12:30 pm, Dallas time. Four minutes later, the United Press International wire reported the attack. Within 30 minutes 68 percent of Americans heard the news of the attack and within 90 minutes 92 percent were aware of the news.

For the first time ever, news outlets of the time had to cover the unexpected developing events heavily and continuously to feed the need of information not only Americans were hungry for, but the whole world. Major news outlets went live using the primitive technology available at the time and silent footage, skipped commercials, and tried to bring the updates to an audience that has never relied on TV as much as it had on newspapers and radio.

The need for news was tremendous worldwide and outlets engaged in a new coverage style that paved the way news is brought to audiences today.

CBS veteran broadcaster Bob Schieffer told Reuters “The Kennedy assassination became the template for coverage”.

In addition to live coverage, correspondents were on the street asking citizens who witnessed the gunfire or were near the area where the president’s motorcade drove by, they were outside police stations and even at the hospital where the president was taken.


under: Comm 455, Local news, newspapers
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Handguns for children

Posted by: | February 29, 2016 | No Comment |

Glock-Constitution-998x666Why would anyone be okay with a child under the age of 14, to use a gun? Last week, the state of Iowa, sent a bill to the senate proposing changes to state laws relating to guns. Currently, the state does not allow children under the age of 14 to use guns, but this new bill is asking for the state to allow those children to use guns! Imagine a 10 year old, even a 7 year old using a gun!

This new proposal has stirred up quite a bit of commotion between those who are opposed and those who are in favor.

Brian Hood, head coach of the Central Iowa Scholastic Shooters, is in favor of the new bill and says, “This is not about giving our children the combo to the gun safe. This is about allowing them in a supervised scenario, to learn a great sport.”   His 16 year old daughter agrees with her father. She brings up the point that as long as the person is responsible and is supervised, then it would be okay. grace_screenshot1_de4b99e22f5d905763359552a0a8a563.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000How do we know who is responsible and who isn’t? Being responsible enough to use a gun is different than being responsible enough to go to school and turn in your homework every day.

On the other hand, Dan Gross, who is the president of a gun control advocacy group, states, “Almost every unintentional shooting of a child… happens with a parent’s gun. It’s not some hypothetical fear, it’s something that happens every day…”  

How safe can we be if children are allowed to use handguns? It’s bad enough that there are adults that create disaster with guns, can you imagine 10 year old and 4 year olds using hand guns? That’s a disaster waiting to happen!

under: Comm 455, Local news
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Posted by: | February 22, 2016 | No Comment |

by Robert Horan


( mature content advisory)


On August 26, 2015, a former WDBJ anchor shot and killed two co-workers as the they were live on air. Vester Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, shot reporter Allison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward as they were conducting a live interview for their morning newscast.

While extremely tragic, and hard for any journalist to report on, it is still and important moment in the history of journalism. I can imagine that the staff at WDBJ had answer the question, ” how do we cover a story like this.” They had to to their own research into the crime but had to be careful revealing too much to the public. For example, Flanigan posted videos of the shooting for his point of view. Since those videos were evidence of the crime, WDBJ had to decide if they were going to share them live on TV or not.

With today’s technology, many Americans have access to a DVR of some sort. The difficulty with this was that any person could rewind the “tape” and make their own accusations about what happened. This lead to a look of confusion on social media about what actually happened.

Finally, this was a hard story to report on for any journalist because they are reporting a job they they currently do.  Journalists are like family. 

Personally , I was upset while watching the news unfold because I want to pursue a career in broadcast media. However, while I admire how the journalists covered the crime. The were calm and collected on air, and I think they reported on the tragic situation well.


under: Comm 455, Local news
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Treasure in old town?

Posted by: | February 15, 2016 | No Comment |

Photo5Imagine going to work one day and discovering an ancient ship from many centuries ago! How would you react? What would you do?

Well that is exactly what happened last week in Old Town Alexandria. A group of construction workers were working at a hotel construction site, when they discovered an 18th century old ship, which is believed to have been some type of war ship or trading vessel. Archeologists and residents       of Alexandria have made a big deal of this find.

“… we will never see this again, probably, right?” says a woman admiring the 50 feet long old

ship. 010615_edge_ship_1280

Francine Bromberg, who is an archeologist in Alexandria said,

“It was a pretty good day… a remarkable archeological dream basically.” 

The area where it was found was discovered to be in the Potomac River, before it was expanded to Alexandria’s waterfront.

This ship has become quite the celebrity, with residents lining up eager to see this treasure.

What’s next for Alexandria’s history?

under: Comm 455, Local news

Victorian fashion saves a life

Posted by: | November 18, 2014 | No Comment |


Thomas Nelson Conrad of Fairfax Court House, Virginia was the third president of Virginia Tech. He played an active role in influencing Blacksburg as the location of choice for the new college, and was a Confederate spy during the American Civil War.

And fashion saved his life.

A troop of Union cavalry watched him enter a house in Northern Virginia. For weeks they had been hunting him, and if found, Captain Thomas Conrad would be hanged.

The lieutenant knocked on the door, and was greeted by an old colored woman and two Southern belles in the height of fashion. They wore heirloom jewelry, tight bodices, and hoop skirts.

The lieutenant looked everywhere until finally he said, “Unless you tell me where he is hiding, I will have to rip your house apart.” The older woman refused, and they ripped the floorboards, walls and ceilings, only to leave empty-handed.

Years after the Civil War, the lieutenant passed by the same house and was confronted by Conrad. Surprisingly, Conrad greeted him saying, “Thank you for doing me the greatest favor of my life.”

The lieutenant looked perplexed so he explained. Conrad had been courting the lady for a while when his men surprised him. In a fit of panic, the older woman motioned for Conrad to hide under her skirt.

After he came out, they were both embarrassed and Conrad convinced her there was only one thing to do: get married the next day.




under: Comm 455, Local news
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“What emerges from the 16th century is a reading public ready to invest in printed material from broadsheets to pamphlets to books that went beyond their trade or devotional lives.”



Over the 16th century, the publishing market was refined: news pamphlets recorded local news in addition to foreign sensationalized news, sensations were the stock and trade of publishers, and collections of serial events over time.

This shift opened up the market for business.

News of crime and sensationalized stories were the primary crop in the 16th century with presses spreading news further. Their output rose from an estimated 150 to 200 million copies.

The importance of printing was further enhanced by other inventions of the time, namely firearms and the nautical compass. In 1620, Francis Bacon wrote that these inventions “changed the whole face and state of the world”.

In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced mass communication, which altered the very fabric of society. The almost unrestricted circulation of information and revolutionary ideas captured the masses and threatened the power of authorities.

Additionally, the vast increase of literacy severed the division between the literate elite and the emerging middle class. Across Europe, increasing cultural self-awareness was accelerated by the advancement of the European vernacular languages.


under: Comm 455, Local news
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