Monday, April 15, 2013

Chatting with Paul Heintz

Paul Heintz, a political columnist for Seven Days, came to speak to my social media class this morning. It was a really fun and informal Q&A session and we got to hear about his experiences and social media use in the workplace.

Before I dive into the information that Paul gave us, I'll share the mini-bio my Professor gave us before his visit:
Photo Credit: Dartmouth Life
"A flatlander from Connecticut and Massachusetts, Paul got his start in journalism writing for and editing his high school and college newspapers. While studying history and English at Dartmouth College, he took time off to intern for NPR's "On The Media." After graduating in 2006, he worked as a glorified intern, or "desk assistant," for PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" in Washington, D.C. In 2007, he returned to northern New England to write for the Brattleboro Reformer — covering politics, Vermont Yankee and five area towns. In 2008, Paul foolishly quit his job to paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and write about it for the Boston Globe Magazine, only to see the economy tank and journalism jobs dry up completely. So he turned to the Dark Side and became communications director for U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a job he managed to hold for two-and-a-half years. In 2011, our hero came to his senses and quit his job to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. After completing the trail, Paul spent some time in California trying to write the Great American Novel before conning the editors of Seven Days into hiring him in February 2012. He started out as a staff writer and then took over the "Fair Game" political blog that summer. Paul has never before written about himself in the third person and feels rather sheepish for doing so."

I suppose I'll begin by sharing some of the things that I took away from Paul's visit to my class.
  1. Not all reporters use social media. Paul has been active on Twitter for awhile and is not completely sure how to utilize it for journalistic purposes, but he has colleagues who don't use social media at all. Paul tweets bits of news and makes jokes to bring some of his personality into his social media use so that he can relate to people more. He told us that he wants to "be someone I'd want to follow." Although Paul uses Twitter for his work, not all reporters are required to participate. It's just a common expectation for most journalists to have Twitter and Facebook accounts. "I don't think it's necessary now, but we're getting to where it is necessary," Heintz said. He would like to think that it isn't a necessity but with the competitive nature of journalism it is becoming more and more useful. "I want to think that I can go home at night and read a book and actually think about things," Heintz said. For most journalists it's just another tool to stay connected to the community and that is an important part of the job description. Paul uses social media to stay connected and to self-promote his work.
  2. Tweeting can be dangerous. If you don't think before you tweet you might regret it later on. Journalists love to be the first to break news but if you're working for a weekly publication, like Seven Days, it might be spoiling your work too soon. Other journalists can see what you are putting out there and they might 'scoop' you or try to beat you to the punch. Tweeting is a great tool if you monitor what you're saying and don't give away too much. Some things are better kept quiet until all of the details are pieced together in a complete article.
  3. Break up text online with pictures, gifs, and other multimedia. This is really important because it can really draw in more readers. When there are just large blocks of text it can take a toll on the eyes. Pictures, cool graphics, and gifs that start moving as you scroll past them are really neat ways to tell a story and they add visual flare too.
Paul's visit reminded me of why I love being a journalism major. Even though the job description is changing quite a bit, there is something special about telling stories. When Professor Griffith asked Paul what he would be doing if he wasn't working as a journalist, he said, "I'd probably be unemployed trying to do this." He reminded us that journalism is essential, fun, and plays a role in moving important conversations forward. I'm so happy that I'm learning how to do that, and meeting talented people like Paul reaffirms my love for reporting.

That's all for now, but I'm sure I'll have some more exciting things to share after my visit to WCAX, a local news station, later this week!


(Here's a link to the blog that Paul contributes to often.)

The Countdown Begins

Hello and happy Monday everyone! The weather here in Vermont is pretty nice today which is definitely helping the mood on campus. It's getting close to the end of the semester now. Only 12 days of classes left! I feel like my sophomore year just flew by. Now I'm scurrying around trying to complete my study abroad application for London and start all of my final papers. I took the last few days to wind down after my huge Global Communications project was due. It feels so nice to be done with it! My classmates and I had to make websites on the media and culture of various countries. My website was about Japan. You can check them all out here.

Liz, Mikala, Juliana, Lauren, Me, and Cara at Free Cone Day.
Lauren, one of my best friends and an official SMC blogger, posted about some of the fun things we've been up to lately on her blog. I'll try not to be too repetitive but there are some things I'll fill you all in on.

On Thursday after our Global Comm class was let out a bunch of us went to Ben and Jerry's for Free Cone Day. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the completion of a huge project than with some delicious, free, ice cream with friends. It was a beautiful day and the new Candy Bar Pie flavor is to die for.

This past weekend we all played Quelf on North Campus.
A bunch of my friends and I had game nights the past two weekends. It was really fun to unwind and play games like Cards Against Humanity and Quelf. If you haven't heard of these two games, I'd strongly recommend looking them up. They're really fun for older crowds because they take elements from kids games like Apples to Apples and Cranium and add hilarious twists that involve a lot of adult humor. It felt good to laugh for a few hours and pig out on chips and dip. My roommate, Liz, got an awesome card in Quelf and everyone had to go around and compliment her until someone couldn't think of anything else to say. She definitely enjoyed that!
Macklemore performed at the MTV Movie Awards.
Last night I made some popcorn and cracked open a bag of pretzel M&M's to snack on during the MTV Movie Awards. Lauren and Liz watched it with me and we were excited to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Can't Hold Us," because they'll be here at St. Mike's in less than two weeks to play our sold out spring concert. This is one of the biggest spring concerts that St. Mike's has had in a long time so the campus is really excited to have them here. I plan on getting there as early as possible so I can get close to the stage.

Anyway, there have been some fun things going on to break up the end-of-the-semester workload. I'm looking forward to warmer (and drier) weather in the coming weeks. It'll be nice to get away from snow flurries and rain almost every week. Especially because the second Accepted Students Day is coming up next Saturday and my younger sister, Maggie, is coming to visit with my dad. Maggie recently sent in her deposit and is definitely coming to St. Mike's next year. Her name was recently on the marquee at our high school and she had a photo shoot with my dad in front of it. I'm so proud of her!
Yay Maggie! SMCVT Class of 2017!
I better get back to homework now. I will be posting again in a little while about my social media class's visit from Seven Day's Political Columnist, Paul Heintz. It was a great Q&A session and I'll be reflecting on it in my next post if you want to check it out. Have a wonderful Monday everyone!


Oh! I almost forgot that my multimedia piece about the lovely Green Mountain Derby Dames was published in last week's Defender. Check it out here!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Zombie Prom

 Hello again! I remembered that I never got around to sharing some exciting news. Over spring break in March, my sister got asked to prom by her friend, Cody. Cody is a great guy and he put quite a lot of thought into the prom-posal. My sister, Maggie, absolutely adores AMC's The Walking Dead. She is crazy for Daryl Dixon, one of the show's most popular characters. Not only does she love Daryl, but she is a huge fan of Norman Reedus (the actor who plays Daryl). Cody drew inspiration from Daryl and got a toy crossbow off of the internet. He placed a bouquet of flowers where the arrows would go, and added a little teddy bear and a sign that said 'Prom?'

Cody let me know when he was on his way to the house, so when the doorbell rang I was ready to film the whole thing. I posted the video on YouTube, and decided to tweet it to Norman Reedus as well. I tweeted about three times and the next day I received a text from Cody. Norman tweeted the link to the video! It got a lot of views in a short period of time and my sister was ecstatic. She's his biggest fan and not only supports his role in The Walking Dead, but avidly watches all of his other films and interviews on YouTube as well. She has watched The Boondock Saints too many times to count! Anyway, it was an awesome experience and I'm really glad that I used social media tools to get it out there. If you have something worth sharing, access to social media, and a little bit of luck, you could get noticed by your favorite celebrity as well! :)

Hopefully Maggie can survive the next 6 months until season four premieres. I'm already getting antsy about it myself!


The SMC Film Series

The SMC Film Series is an awesome weekly event on campus. The movies are shown in Cheray 101 on Thursdays at 8PM, with a ten minute introduction by different professors for each film. This semester they have shown movies such as Fargo, On the Waterfront, Red Tails, Annie Hall, and Caramel.

On Thursday, April 4th, the film was Caramel and there was a small crowd there to watch. Usually Cheray 101 gets pretty full for the films, but it's a busy time in the semester now and people are finding it harder to make time for leisure activities.

I love the film series because it's a great way to wind down and enjoy some of the best films with great introductions by some of the best professors at SMC. The free popcorn and soda provided by Res Life doesn't hurt either! Next week they are showing Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes. It's perfect timing because the real Temple Grandin is coming to speak at St. Mike's on April 17th. How cool is that?

Maybe I'll see some of you at the next few movies. I can't wait for Lincoln on May 2nd. Hold tight because it's almost the weekend!