The Perks of Positive Perception

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Englewood, Chicago, is a district with a written history that is discouraging and depressing. Most timelines and books about Englewood and West Englewood focus on the history of crime, racism, and poverty.

Students in Englewood today, working with Tonika Johnson, are working to change that perception by doing their own journalism, and choosing to focus on the positive advancements in their hometown.

Johnson, with two others, is providing the kids with a free, eight-week after school program in which they will work to deconstruct the negative images of Englewood put forth by the media.

The project calls attention to the ways that the media can both create and further the perceptions of an area, or a group of people. Of course, if the only media representations available to Englewood children are over-represented images of crime and impoverishment, the children won't have healthy role models in the media to look up to.

The article profiling Johnson and her students brings up a key example of how the media can create very flawed representations of reality just by leaving out one important, positive attribution.

Tatiana Hood, one of Johnson's eighth grade students, recalls an article describing a peer who was shot and killed outside of school. Leaving a vivid impression, she said, "Nobody ever said he was on the honor roll."
Photo courtesy of Flickr, via


Photo Taking Tips

Something that catches your eye when looking at a newspaper, magazine, book, etc. are pictures. It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words, but that is only if the picture has meaning and is of good quality.

Combined tips from Kodak and hp, listed below give photographers tips to make their photographs more appealing.

1. Use a plain background. You don't want your background to take over what the main focus of the picture is about.

2. Use a flash outdoors and know your flash's range. Along with your flash, be aware of the lighting around you. Too much lighting can overexpose photos, while too little can underexpose photos.

3. Move in close and lock in your focus. Whether it be with zoom or physically, you want your focus to be the majority of the photograph.

4. Take some vertical pictures. Remember, your camera is able to turn, allowing you to format your pictures and some variety.

5. Move it from the middle. Instead of the typical focus being in the middle, have it off center for a greater balance.

6. Get down to their level. Do not tower above your subject, unless that is the desired effect for the photo.

7. Hold the camera steady as you shoot the picture, this well reduce blur.

Hopefully, these basic tips can help you take better photos, but remember creativity is important to.

Photo credit: Via Creative Commons


I Have Presentation Skills. How About You?

You are in your calculus class, and the teacher says you have to present a presentation about the conceptual look at limits and how you are trying to get a grasp on just what they are and what they can tell us. Gulp. Awesome right?

Thou shall not fear, I am here to give you some tips on how to keep your nerves to yourself and how to present yourself to your clueless audience. You will be the kid known as, The Kid with the Professional Communication Skills.

When you look at an audience, the first thing you usually do is move your eyes rapidly to see everyone. This is called 'scanning', and scanning increases your butterflies in the pit of your stomach, which is not good.

The solution to this problem is simply talking to a person one at a time. By doing this, you are in control of your voice and you are not in visual overload.

Step one. Check.

Your audience will not only be paying attention to your awesome conceptual look at limits, but they will be focusing on you more.

Your audience receives your messages by how you look, how you sound, and what you say. They will be paying attention to your facial expressions, stance/posture, gestures, eye movement, volume and vocal tones.

Even if you don't know exactly what limits are, you need to look confident! First off, plant your feet in a balanced stance and make sure you move with a purpose. We don't want to see you shift your leg to the other. We also do not want to see you sway from side to side. We aren't in dance class.

Second, get your hands out of your pockets! Unless you have spare money to give, then go ahead. We want to see gestures from the shoulder, not the elbow. Emphasize what you mean with your hands. Make sure to use an open palm, and let your hands fall to your sides after using them.

Feeling pretty confident now, eh?

One last step.

Vocal Energy:
Have you ever been to class, and you couldn't hear your professor? Or you listened to a boring monotone voice? Yea, this isn't the way to go.

You want your audience to be able to hear you and be engaged at what you are saying. Even if it is about calculus and limits...

First off, you need to increase your volume to a 6-7 level on a 10 point scale. Then you need to use inflection to get rid of that monotone voice.

And of course, don't forget to breathe so you can project your soothing, non-monotone voice to your audience.

These presentation skills can be used in everyday life, not just when you are presenting power points about limits. You can use these skills when you are being interviewed for that once in a lifetime job, or even when you are interviewing someone else.

These are great tips for journalists because we can be calm when situations get hectic or we have to do a fly on the job. I hope you ace your presentation about the conceptual look at limits and you get the most wicked nickname ever, The Kid with the Professional Communication Skills.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


The Most Important Political Interview Ever

In 1977, the world will know the thruth about the Watergate scandal thanks to the work of a british journalist, Sir David Frost.

What we call the Nixon interviews is a series of interviews of former United States President Richard Nixon that were recorded on television in four programs in 1977.

Richard Nixon was away from public life for two years after his resignation in 1974 and the discovery of the Watergate scandal. Sir david frost will pay him to obtain these interviews. Unlike conventional political interviews, Nixon was not aware of the questions that would be ask to him and he appeared surprised and tensed.

For a journalist, the work of Sir David Frost is an example that demonstrates how to get the truth from a politician and how to run an interview that will have an impact on the audience.

A Gallup poll conducted after the interviews aired showed that 69 percent of the public thought that Nixon was still trying to cover up, 72 percentstill thought he was guilty of obstruction of justice, and 75 percent thought he deserved no further role in public life.

It is the role of a journalist to find the truth, to investigate, to ask questions that can lead to a great answer and in this case, Frost did a wonderful job.


What Happened to The Paperboy?

Not as many physical newspapers are being produced as they once were causing paperboy and girls to be a thing in the past.

The boy or girl riding their bike throwing news papers in peoples yards or bushes was 13% of how newspapers delivered their papers in 2008. It has declined 70% from 1990.

Newspaper companies are now more cost-conscious than they once were and are finding ways to save as much as possible. They have switched to distribution centers in order to deliver more papers in a wider area. The paperboys and girls have been replaced by adults who can drive.

Paperboys and girls use to collect subscribers money today few carriers do so. Today's carriers drive up and put the newspapers in mailboxes and drive away.

Culture is another factor of the near extinct paperboys and girls. Kids simply do not walk to places like they use to. The percentage of walkers was 50% in the 1960's and is now down to 16%.

Kids not walking to as many places could be a result of having the fear of being kidnapped. Another factor is more families are moving from suburbs to exurbs and live too far away from places to be able to walk to them.

The paperboys and girls are not completely gone, there is just not as many in today's society. We can thank The U.S. daily and the Times News for keeping the nearly extinct population of paperboys and girls in existence today.

The U.S. daily and the Times News have around 14,000 subscribers and they employ all youth carriers to deliver their papers. They pay the kids 12 to 15 cents per delivery depending on how close together the homes are on their routes.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Kelly B.


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