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Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 2.35.52 PMA few days ago I watched the Frontline documentary ‘Chasing Heroin’. It was trending on my timeline, having been shared thousands of times and described as a searing film about an epidemic. That epidemic? Heroin.

It’s a well-made film, typical of Frontlines with a strong journalistic edge. It is in fact searing and worth the recognition. Scroll down past the praise and there is a string of commentary that arose– would there be the same reaction if this was a minority community?

Twitter user @TheRealJStan says ‘ Frustrating that the de-escalation of the War on Drugs has only come about due to the face of addiction becoming more white. @TacumaRoe remarks that it’s only when the heroin epidemic hits certain communities that ‘police go from being enforcers to social workers.’

This isn’t a mute point; the documentary itself addresses this issue.

Eric Holder, a former judge in Washington D.C and current Attorney General, talks about his change of heart regarding Drug Policy. Holder references the mandatory minimum sentences he was forced to enact because of the drug war – a practice he describes as problematic.  In Holder’s opinion, drug courts are more effective, and a non-violent petty drug user doesn’t constitute 5-10yr sentences.

Again, the crack epidemic of the 1990s is referenced. Frontlines points out that in the predominately white city of Seattle, the majority arrested were blacks (1:19:45) It wasn’t until a public defender, Lisa Daugaard, brought the disparities to light, that people began to take notice. Naturally, she was met with a great amount of backlash.

This is unfortunate, but it’s nothing new.

Just like in the Jim crow south politics are entangled with racism, this parallel is discussed in Michelle Alexander’s ‘The New Jim Crow’.Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 2.39.24 PM

Alexander argues that racism adapts and manipulates the system in favor of a racial hierarchy, ultimately reinventing a system that oppresses blacks.

The war on drugs directly targeted low income African Americans and as Alexander points out, it’s ‘regrettable but predictable’ (pg.21, The rebirth of caste)

The United States’ political system was never intended to protect black people. It was made to protect whites and their interests.  Pre-Reagan’s War on Drugs, there was this idea that blacks lacked work ethic.  This lead to legislators in the South adopting ‘black codes’.

“ We have the power to pass stringent police laws to govern the Negroes – this is a blessing – for they must be controlled in some way or white people cannot live among them. “

The codes were meant to keep blacks in place and oppressed. Fast forward a few decades, and history is repeating itself.

As the civil rights movement began to gain traction, it caused concern within the white communities. The fear of African American mobility was just as prevalent, if not slight when Reagan ran for president.

“ It is during this period of uncertainty that the backlash intensifies and a new form of racialized social control begins to take hold”

With Reagan in office, it turned from a war on poverty (which was inclusive of whites)  to a war on drugs (which specifically targeted blacks). Although only 2% of the American population  thought of drugs as a major issue, it didn’t deter Reagan from taking a militarized approach to drugs, specifically crack cocaine.

Via blueskytreatment.com

Via blueskytreatment.com

“By waging a war on drug users and dealers, Reagan made good on his promise to crack down on the racially defined “others”.This is just another example of how the system used blacks to protect the whites and their issues.

The amount of money given to the drug war programs went from 8 to 95 million.  In contrast, programs that supported treatment and education saw a slash in budget.

Crack users, abusers, and dealers where being taken of the street in droves and sent to jail. Meanwhile, the neighborhoods where still experiencing an economic collapse. There was a lack of jobs, lack of education, and lack of funding to address these issues. Money instead was being poured into the tough on crime, drug war.

Even though crack was referred to as an epidemic in the 1990s, there was no push for treatment

Incarceration was the answer. 

There wasn’t a political push from white house staff to offer help instead of jail. It took politician’s children dying and overdosing to realize, drugs isn’t just a ‘black issue’. Similar to how the civil rights movement became a ‘poor people’s movement’, the issue of drug use and abuse had to become an issue inclusive of whites to see systematic change.

The war on drugs didn’t stop with Reagan, it continued with George Bush Sr. and Clinton, who saw the power the fearful white vote holds.  Crack heads commit crime and to be soft on crime can’t be tolerated.

Now back to Heroin,

Now that heroin has become a ‘white issue’, seeping into to suburbs and the home of the powerful, it’s an epidemic, one that requires a light, corrective touch – a stark contrast to the War on drugs that  used harsh punishment and mandatory minimums, birthing the New Jim Crow.


under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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Vikings and Vinland

Posted by: | March 17, 2016 | No Comment |


Christopher Columbus was not the first explorer to discover North America. Let’s get that important tidbit of information out of the way. There is a lot of debate surrounding the issue of who “discovered” America; and it is a argument to have another day. There is something, however, that can and will be explored today and that is how sagas show the Viking’s voyage to Vinland.

Vinland is an area in North America, the eastern shore of Canada. First found, assuming that we are not discussing the Native population that was already present on said land, by the great Viking, Lief Errikson in 1000 ce. The voyage was recorded in both the Saga of the Greenlanders and Erik the Red’s SagaBoth of these sagas give a great description of the voyage to Vinland and of Vinland itself. The only problem is that these sagas were are not considered to be truthful of all the events that occurred.



The sagas about the great voyage to Vinland, or the land of wine, were considered to be fables, or folktales, that were written purely for entertainment until 1961. A viking settlement was found in L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. Many would say that the vikings discovered North America, however, that is also widely contested.

“What they did in America did not change their own or anybody else’s view of the world….There was practically no feedback from the Vinland voyages. What is most remarkable is not that the Vikings actually reached America, but that they reached America and even settled there for a while, without discovering America.” – Daniel Boorstin



under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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Inspiration from a true media star

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

As an undergraduate at George Mason University, nothing is more inspiring than learning from those who have achieved a life of success and fulfilled their career goals from an early age. More importantly, witnessing those we are working in a field that they have always aspired to work in. In all honesty, isn’t that what every college student tries to obtain? Our duties as students include working and studying for our chosen field in order to gain expertise and experience. Through the endless hours of practicing our studies, we all share a common fear in mind. Will all this hard work pay off? Out of my four years as a college student, I can confidently state that each of my classmates and peers want to be great. We want recognition for the sweat and tears that we put into our classes, assignments, and exams. More specifically, in the field of public relations and journalism, we want to be acknowledged for our creativity and strength of communication that we bring to the table.

From an early age, Ryan Seacrest was driven to work and excel in the field of media. He began his career as a DJ at a local radio station, which eventually motivated him to expand his horizons and move to Los Angeles, California. Seacrest states-

“And I think more than anything else, I know when I go to bed that no one’s working harder doing what I’m doing, and I think, quite frankly, simply that hard work at some point was gonna pay off.”



He was absolutely right as he received the title for the new host of the popular television series known as, American Idol in 2002. Not long after, he branched over into entertainment news where he received a position as a news anchor for E! Television network. His many other career paths include a host for On Air with Ryan Seacrest and American Top 40. As well as, a host for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, E! News, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and the NBC show- The Million Second Quiz. Furthermore, Seacrest can be credited for the overwhelming fame and success that has been given to the Kardashian family over the past several years. The Ryan Searcrest Productions developed the reality television show called- Keeping Up With the Kardashians while adding several spin- off series. His production for the show- Food Revolution resulted in an Emmy Award. Seacrest’s hard work and determination continue to influence young and aspiring individuals that hope to one day follow his foot steps as a true media star. 

To learn more about Ryan Seacrest, follow this link: Biography of a media star

Quote from: Ryan Seacrest quotes

under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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Ethics in the ethnic press

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

Journalism is a very interesting yet dangerous field. Journalists are among the most dedicated people to their profession and they fulfill their responsibilities with complete ambition. Journalists risk their lives daily to leak out information to the public that typical biased news corporations don’t. A prime example of a journalist putting her life on the line is the Lebanese Maronite journalist, May Chidiac. This phenomenal woman hosted a show on the Lebanese broadcasting corporation and she was very loved by the Lebanese population. She has always been the voice of the people in Lebanon, opposing the interference of the Syrian regime and supporting Lebanese freedom. After the Lebanese civil war, Syrian troops were stationed in parts of Lebanon and she was one of the few critics to be against this.



On February 14, 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car explosion. His assassination was set up in place after he consistently protested against the Syrian occupation in Lebanon and the widely spread corruption in the Lebanese government. May Chidiac felt very strongly about this topic and on September 25 2005, she voiced her opinion on her show Bikol Jora’a. She exposed underlying secrets that were never confirmed to the public as well as pointed fingers to the assassinators of Rafik Hariri. Later that day, there was an attempt on her life. Her car was parked near a truck loaded with 2,500 grams of TNT, a highly explosive chemical. She lost an arm, and a leg, and had to undergo many reconstructive surgeries to sustain her life. She risked her life for the love of her career and continued to fight. Once she was able to speak out again, she got back to doing her job and got back on the air to speak out to the public. This woman was very determined and ambitious.

Journalists such as May should be honored for their commitment and devotion. She eventually resigned on February 3, 2009 from her show on TV because her disabilities were too much to sustain a consistent show. She still to this day makes appearances on TV, despite her disabilities and the public look forward to her appearances due to her loyalty in journalism and to her country, Lebanon.

To learn more about May Chidiac, follow this link: Courage in Journalism

under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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More issues than Vogue

Posted by: | February 26, 2016 | No Comment |

“Sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more.”

–Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)



Arthur Baldwin Turnure, the creator of Vogue, would have been pleased to witness the success that has evolved from his magazine. In 1892, Turnure constructed the influential fashion and lifestyle magazine in hopes of capturing the hearts of high-class individuals living in New York City. At the time, Vogue’s purpose was to inform its readers about trendy hang out spots as well as traditions and beliefs that were cherished amongst those with luxurious lifestyles. Not long after, the vision and content was transformed as it focused solely on women’s fashion. Conde Montrose Nast, the founder of Conde Nast Publications, made the revolutionary decision as he purchased the magazine in 1909. Nast’s perspective for the magazine will always remain legendary, as he demanded unique photographs and high editorial content.

With a solid platform to play off of, Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief since 1988, continued to uphold the magazine’s reputation of high fashion while adding in her own personal touch. She made several alterations to the magazine as well as new additions for the better of the company. Wintour is perceived as a vital source within the fashion world due to her sensational contributions within the industry. Not only does she recognize up and coming designers, but she also helped discover the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund in order for emerging fashion designers to receive finical aid.


For more than 100 years, Vogue magazine keeps the title as the ultimate fashion guide for all women. The magazine has created international forms as well as a teen edition called- Teen Vogue. The magazine remains true to their target market of women who feel the need to be inspired. When you are analyzing each page, you are taken into a world of pure sophistication and glamour. With every new edition that is released, you become eager to witness the art and dedication that has been put into each booklet. Whether you are looking forward to the top of the line clothing from famous designers, discovering new models, or learning about beauty, one thing is certain- you are apart of something monumental.

Interested to know more? Check out: Newsstand: 1925: Vogue America



under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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During the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther became widely known as one of the most powerful and forceful leaders in the 16th century. Within the PBS film, “Martin Luther: The Reluctant Revolutionary,” the plot captures the journey of a man that truly changed the course of history. Throughout this time, the Catholic Church was recognized as a more authoritative and influential source over the king and his rulings. At the beginning of Luther’s studies and career, he obeyed this strict concept in order to prevent God’s disapproval. The Catholic Church manipulated the idea of heaven and hell so that the people of Europe would follow their lead and donate unnecessary funds when asked. As a servant of God, Luther believed he would enter the gates of heaven through a life within the monastery. Luther was unable to find the enlightenment that he searched and deserved for as a monk. After several years passed, he agreed to become a professor of theology at a university. Through this act, Luther developed the idea that salvation can be reached by simply believing in God and having faith



“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say,”

Martin Luther preached. The purpose of this statement is to exemplify the determination that he possessed to take down the controlling behavior of the Catholic Church. Upon the church’s doors, his Ninety-Five Theses were nailed for the public to read. The Ninety-Five Theses listed the many reasons as to why his theory of salvation was accurate. The chaos that occurred after his construction was enormous as it spread like wildfire thanks to Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. This piece of technology allowed his information to travel with distance and speed throughout Europe.

The PBS film documented Luther’s announcement as one of Europe’s most successful authors. The readers of his work praised his ruthless tone against authority. In addition, the film highlighted many important pieces that contributed to Luther’s success. There were several facts that stood out to me however, I captured and documented the ones that related to how Martin Luther’s acts and the printing press changed history. First, after the madness and violence simmered down, there was no longer one Christian Europe. This eventually turned over globally as the rest of the world watched and shadowed this type of revolution. Second, Luther is known as the first propagandist as he protested against authoritative figures by nailing his theses on the doors. Lastly, I was inspired by his motivation to help end dishonest corruption through the quote, “You can kill a person, not an idea.” This statement proves that his idea of salvation stuck in the minds of millions with the efficiency of the printing press. Whether the church, king or anti-followers sought out violence to be noticed or heard, the central idea was undoubtedly the leading force of it all.

Watch the PBS film now: Martin Luther: The Reluctant Revolutionary

Quote source: “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say”

under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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The Impact of Media; particularly on children

By Joshua Aaron Karber

Any scholar, academic, philosopher and even politician can tell you that in our society today we are literally bombarded with images and information, and at a level that is unparalleled throughout documented history. Essentially, we are all jacked in to a system of words, pictures, sounds, videos and symbols that create a representational world, one where we are not only socialized but raised by society to understand and obey them. The truth is that we can’t escape it.

From birth, we are taught that the golden arches mean McDonalds, that Calvin Klein is cool, and that the American flag stands for freedom. Strictly speaking, the Wachovski brothers’ movie The Matrix  is not too distant a vision from the world we live in today.

In particular, the impact media has on the psychosocial development of children is quite astonishing. It is becoming more and more important for doctors to discuss with parents what, when, and how much media their children are exposed to on a daily basis. This includes ALL media, spanning from television to music, and from video games to, of course, the internet.

For the sake of clarity, I am going to focus this blog on three main topics: learning, violence, and sexuality.


Media can be a powerful teacher. For instance, Sesame Street is a good example of how toddlers can become versed in valuable lessons on racial harmony, kindness, simple math, the alphabet, and cooperation through an education television format. This is a good illustration of how media can be of beneficial value to kids. Especially in some disadvantaged settings, healthy television habits can actually be a positive teaching tool.

However, watching TV can still do detrimental things to kids such as take time away from schoolwork and reading. Many researchers believe that a large number of daily, unsupervised television viewing by elementary school children can have severe and pernicious effects on academic performance, and particularly reading. Although the exact statistic is uncertain, it is estimated that most 8-10 year-olds know more about The Simpsons or South Park than they do about any of the U.S. presidents.  Is this a good thing?


Moving on…


Most researchers agree that the amount of violence on television is on the rise. According to reputable statistics, the average child sees more than 12,000 violent acts on television yearly, not excluding rape or murder, and more than 1000 studies confirm that exposure to heavy doses of television can increase aggressive behavior, most commonly in boys. These same studies also link newspaper or television publicity of suicides to an increase in suicide risk. Many sources conclude that minorities, emotionally disturbed children, children with learning disabilities, and children in distressed families are more vulnerable to acts of violence on television. Doesn’t that sound like a large portion of American kids?


Again, moving on…


Today, TV has become one of the leading sex educators in the United States. News sources report that between 1976 and 1996 there has been an almost 300% increase in sexual interactions during the family hour of 8 o’clock to 9 o’clock. The unavoidable fact of the matter is that television can expose children to sexual situations as common and risk-free, delivering and hammering home the message that these situations are okay because “everyone does it.”

Furthermore, studies show that sexual activities between unmarried partners are portrayed 24 times more than sex between spouses, while unwanted pregnancies and STD’s are rarely mentioned. Additionally, teens score the media as a leading source of info/knowledge on sex, a distant second to school sex education programs. Many people do believe that the media can influence sexual responsibility by promoting positive sexual content on topics such as birth control and monogamy. However, no empirical evidence supports this concept. So the final question we are lead to is: who (or what) is teaching our kids about sex?


And finally…


In a society that is so dependent and deep-rooted in media, one must ponder the consequences and ramifications that TV, radio, video games, and the internet can have on our kids, and on each other. Does watching violence provoke violence? Do sexual situations inspire sexuality? And does the portrayal of drug use/smoking/consumption of alcohol teach kids the wrong things? No one really knows. But, people should consider one last thing before making a decision: are our children’s mental, emotional and physical health really worth the risk?

I think so. Don’t you?

– Naked Raygun

under: Comm 455, social media, Uncategorized
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The Beltway sniper and the media

Posted by: | November 20, 2012 | No Comment |

I was only 10 when the DC sniper attacks began in the Washington D.C. area. John Allen Mohammad and Lee Boyd Malvo over the span of 20 days killed 10 people and injured three. Constant coverage of the shootings frightened many people, but did the media actually feed the fear?

Courtesy of wikipedia.org


Courtesy of wikipedia.or












Initially the task force to find the sniper put out word that they were looking for a white box truck.  There were eyewitness reports from people who had actually seen a dark Chevy Caprice after one of the shootings had occurred.  The police quickly dismissed those reports and the media followed up by reporting the white box van information to the public.

The snipers’ ninth attack occurred at a school after an announcement by the media that schools were safe.

Did the media provoke the sniper to do it?

At the school, a tarot card was found with ”For you mr. Police.” “Code: ‘Call me God’.” “Do not release to the press.” written on the back. Someone leaked this evidence to the media who broadcasted it to the public, infuriating Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose and the task force.

At one point Chief Moose said, ”I have not received any messages that citizens of Montgomery County want Channel 9 orThe Washington Post or any other media outlet to solve the case. If they do, then let me know. We will go ahead and do other police work, and we will turn the case over to the media, and you can solve it.”

The media was covering the aftermath of these attacks for hours and they decided to bring on criminal profilers.  Almost all the profilers suggested that the sniper was an white male who acted alone and was from the area.  This hurt the media’s credibility after the suspects were arrested were not what had been portrayed on the news.


Courtesy of liveghana.tv

After police link Mohammed to a dark blue Chevy Caprice, similar to previous eyewitness statements, they do not tell reporters this information because they feared that if the information went public the sniper would go into hiding. However, the media is one step ahead.  Journalists hear a description of the suspect’s car while listening to police bands and broadcast this information to the public.

Several hours later, an eye witness spots the vehicle at a rest stop in Maryland where police find Mohammad and Malvo sleeping in the car.

I will say that broadcasting the vehicle’s description could have been disastrous.  At this point it was the clear that the killers were watching the news reports on the shootings.  If the suspects had been watching the news instead of sleeping in the car, they could have possible ditched the car and evaded police.

This case tested the relationship between law enforcement and the news media.  Each side wants to use the other for their benefit, but both sides made  mistakes in this case. I don’t believe the media fed the fear to the public, the sniper did that.  The news media was just the messenger, the watchdog of society.

under: Uncategorized

Election Day is Tuesday

Posted by: | November 5, 2012 | No Comment |

It’s finally here. Election Day is Tuesday.

The 2012 Election will commence this Tuesday in what may be our nation’s biggest decision. The campaign between Romney and Obama has been blazing for months now. It has seen some of the most important and largest issues in history, as well. Abortion, Obamacare, and the economy have all been huge factors this election season. It all leads up to Tuesday. The biggest story of the year, and maybe even the century.

Both candidates have been rallying, and will continue to rally until the very end. Romney will be in Fairfax on Monday for one last attempt at swinging Northern Virginia in the GOP’s favor. Obama will be in the midwest on Monday, rallying his way back to Chicago for election day.

Not only is this election probably the biggest in the history of the United States, but it may be one of the closest as well. Ohio — a top battleground state — is currently showing a tie between the candidates at 49% each. This is yet another reason why the election is such a big story. Tuesday is sure to change the course of American history forever.

under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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Sandy in Comparison

Posted by: | October 30, 2012 | No Comment |

Hurricane Sandy seems to have done nothing to the Northern Virginia area.

NOVA woke up on Tuesday to a low number of power outages, barely any flooding, and minimal structure damage. Compared to New York City we really got nothing. It was merely a day-long storm. For NOVA, ‘Frankenstorm’ was all hype. For New York, however, it fulfilled the drama of its daunting nickname.

New York City

Cars in a wading pool at the entrance to a parking garage in New York on Tuesday

Northern Virginia

Northern Virginians resume normal, everyday activities on Tuesday after the storm

According to Dominion Electric, the Northern Virginia region only suffered from about 43,000 power outages. In contrast to New York City’s 750,000 residents left without power, NOVA made out well.

Northern Virginia Power Outages

under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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Donald Trump recently released a public address in which he asked for Obama’s education records in exchange for a $5 million dollar charitable donation.

Can we really say we’re surprised? Donald Trump has yet again slithered himself into our countries’ political discourse. At one point last year he even flirted with the idea of running for president. 

Yet another example of the destructive ideology that if you have enough money you can buy a spot within our political sphere and even consider running for president! Sorry Trump, but this seats saved for someone who will look out for everyone, not just themselves.

Trump only has a voice because our mainstream media outlets plaster the front pages with this sensationalized ‘news.’ Thankfully, the only front pages you’ll see this story on are TMZ, E! and other celeb news outlets. Though these stunts give him entertainment headlines, also give him more time on The Daily Show.

This isn’t the first and it won’t be the last publicity stunt we’ll see from Trump but we can all rest assured knowing that he’s faded into a national joke.

under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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With all the media coverage telling us that Hurricane Sandy is going to reak havock on the East Coast there is one question to wonder about. Really?

Will Sandy really cause so much damage as the media says it will? There’s no way to tell but one thing is for sure. This hurricane is being sensationalized and blown out of proportion by our media. The same media that told us that our world was pretty much going to power down at the turn of the millineum — Y2K.

Sensationalized news reports may start of small, but for the most part they are big stories — stories that could potentially affect the masses, just as Hurricane Sandy could. Similarly, in medical reporting, sensationalism is frowned upon. This is due to the fact that it could desensitize the public through disappointment. The same goes for big stories that don’t ever come to fruition. Y2K was an utter bust.

Hurricane Sandy is beng reported on this week as if it were the November election, itself. In fact, at the present moment it may be on the news just as much or even more than the 2012 Presidential Election. If the people don’t witness what the media says will probably happen, they will ultimately be disappointed and become desensitized by such drastic reports.

People are preparing for the worst when Sandy comes ashore sometime within the next day. The water aisle in a local grocery store is almost empty, as seen in the above photo.

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