Select Board Meeting – April 11, 2011

On Monday April 11, 2011 a few of my classmates and I attended the Amherst Select Board Meeting in town hall.  We gathered in the back and observed the sequence of events. With six members, three men and three women, many citizens got up and proposed their cause to the board in hopes to get it approved. As the items were met throughout the night, I was extremely intrigued by one particular event that was mentioned and furhter passed.

A UMass student, member of the Cannibas Coalition on campus, presented to the board the need for open spaces on certain streets for tour buses to be parked for the annual Extravaganja event in Amherst taken place on April 16 and 17.  Half of the lot on Spring St. and Boltwood Ave will be blocked off for the event.  Although it was approved, I found it quite surprising that none of the members questioned the event.  From my understanding,  Extravaganja is a music festival on the Amherst green that allows anyone who attends to openly smoke marijuana in any way they please.  I am not sure of the laws about smoking marijuana in Massachusetts, however I believe you only receive a fine if caught with it but I do not seem to understand how it is okay for this to occur for two days out in the open public.

I do think that it is an enjoyable event and I attended last year but I just found it quite comical that the event was not questioned at the meeting.  All members seemed to disregard the fact the marijuana is still illegal in the United States  and quickly accepted the proposal for the open lots.


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Ethical Decision-Making in Journalism

As Journalists we have the important obligation to provide the public with the news.  As we obtain information and write what we find, we must follow specific guidelines. Journalists must avoid being biased.  When documenting a story, our experiences and own opinions must be left out.  We must provide the facts and the facts only. Journalists must learn how to obtain accurate information to produce a valid story without offending anyone along the way, getting permission from those whom may be featured, and providing the public with the most credibility.

The rules above may seem easy to follow however when out in the field searching for a story these guidelines are extremely hard to follow but as respectable journalists we must challenge ourselves and do our best to obey them.  If one discovers an interesting story with controversial content, they must consider the following – Before publishing the story, ask yourself if your content will offend anyone – what consequences might I face?, have your peers review your information and see what they think, and choose other alternatives – what might be others ways I can produce this story?

With examples provided in the Ethical Decision-Making course, I understood how the guidelines could be ambiguous and somewhat difficult to follow.  I was confused as to whether or not the story broadcasted about a 4 year old child visiting her father on death row should have been published.  I understand why many disagreed with its broadcast.  Was it right for the reporter to feature a story that sensitizing with a criminal? Although it featured a family whose unconditional love aids them in their struggles, it may have romanticized the idea that the man featured was a murderer.  I believe that this specific was a great example as to whether good ethical decision-making practices were put into good use.  Did this reporter ask her colleagues for their input? Did she understand what consequences she might face for broadcasting a young child exposed to the horrible reality of her father’s future? Did she examine other alternatives in writing the story that may have differing consequences? Because people were offended by the story, it is evident that the reporter did not ask herself these questions. 

I think it is obvious that after investigating and producing a story several precautions must come into play before it is published to avoid any hurtful consequences that may affect the public or the writer themself.

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Freedom of Information

As citizens of the United States it is important to recognize and understand our rights. Under the Freedom of Information Act, as citizens, we have the right to know what our government is doing; where money is used, what policies are created etc… As Journalists, we can use this freedom to our advantage.

Because we have the right to know what our government does, we are allowed to access specific documents in the federal agency; any records such as letters, reports, papers, films, sound recordings, and photographs.  Any citizen can request to access a document.  No reason for access is necessary.  No fee is required and the government must respond within 20 days.

To make sure you receive your document and receive it quickly make sure you limit your request and be specific. Understand and request what you want to include and do not want to include. Identify any information you may already know about the document such as the date.

On a state level, as a Journalist, it may be important to understand the laws of the state you may be working in. Understand laws such as Sunshine laws that allow public access to governmental meetings and documents. Understand the policies for open meetings in your state.  They are important to know because you may be rejected from a meeting when you in fact had the right to be there.

With the advantage of the Freedom of Information Act, journalists can write better stories with more credibility and evidence. With governmental documents to prove a specific incident, a story can become increasingly more valid. It is important to understand what our rights are as citizens so as journalists we do not miss out on the town meetings offering a variety of information or miss out on specific documents providing proof that will complete our stories.





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Thoughts From Room 1111

This was my first post from my tumblr. I forgot to post it here!
This is the first blog I have ever written and I am not going to lie but I am a bit intimidated. I am not too sure how this works so I am just going to write.  With earth, wind, and fire playing in the background I can’t help but think about how badly I want to dance. I recently have found myself playing disco nonstop.  I really enjoy all types of music and it is a major part of my life but I can not get enough of disco/funk.  I think its my mother’s influence. Driving down the shore every year, I listened to all of her favorites, disco being one of them. Music is not the only aspect that defines me although it is rather significant.  I guess I will write more about myself in my next posts.

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Columnist Fired After Her Column on Rape Victims?

Yevgeniya Lomakina, a Collegian columnist, was fired in early March after her opinion on rape victims was published in the University’s Collegian. Lomakina, in her article entitled Planned Parenthood Cant’t Treat a Sick Society, expressed that women who are raped can sometimes be the victim of their own choices.

Lomakina explains in her article that sex is no longer associated with marriage or any type of emotional commitment but is rather excessively abused. She explains the danger of this activity as diseases are transmitted and the risk of pregnancy increases.  Although I may agree with her statement that casual sex is socially accepted in today’s world, I do not agree with Lomakina when she explains that  women must be to blame when men may confront or get involved with women who get drunk and wear promiscuous clothing at a party.  Although they may look like they want some sort of sexual interaction, that does not give any man any right to do what they please with a woman without her consent.

Although I believe that sex should not be abused and should be used when two people are committed to one another, I do however believe that woman have the right to do what they want.  Woman are allowed to flirt, drink, and wear what they want however I agree with Lomakina; they must be careful and  be aware of actions that could occur when they are drunk and flirtatious.

Lomakina, although her article was rather insulting to many, I do not believe that she should have been fired. Her article was written in a column, a space for opinion. She has the right to express her ideas and opinions about sex in our society. I understand that many were outraged when Lomakina blamed woman for being raped. I do not agree with that statement whatsoever and find it extremely offensive. I do however think that the world is a frightening place and woman have to be careful in specific situations especially when alcohol or other substances are involved that may obstruct the vision of many.

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FBI Vault: The Doors?

As we learned in class last week, our rights to access public documents, I discovered in the FBI vault specific letters written to FBI detective Mr. Hoover regarding the band, The Doors.  Apparently the band in the late 60’s produced records, distributed across the country, containing  foul and  inappropriate content. The letters written by FBI officials described the need to end the distribution of naked album covers and  the airing of songs with  inappropriate sexual references. Documented in the vault are the charges of Lead singer, Jim Morrison; two counts of indecent exposure, one of open public profanity, and one of public drunkenness.

Attempting to find a controversial event, I searched The Doors because I knew that during the time of the 60’s their music and attitude was rather extreme.  FBI officials, evident in the documented letters, felt strongly about putting an end to the public profanities promoted by The Band. Although The Doors may have been rather inappropriate as musical icons of the 60’s, I wonder if their extremities compare to the musical icons today that also portray sexual inferences. Does the FBI vault contain documented letters expressing the need to end distribution of albums of the musical icons of today?



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Tomorrow  I will begin my new photojournalism project.  I plan to walk into Amherst center and interview some people at the new crepe place in town.  Asking the employees about the about the new business, I will snap 50-60 photos of the store in hopes to capture at least 12 enticing photos.  This experience similar to previous assignments will definitely help me in my future performances as a journalist.  Confronting strangers, asking pertinent questions, and keeping my eyes open for innovative stories are three major aspects I am working on that are extremely significant in the journalism field.  After my journey into town I will upload my photos to the imovie application on my mac laptop.  Creating a slideshow with fitting music, I will attempt to record a voiceover explaining the information I discovered on my trip to the crepe shop. I will then upload my final project to youtube for all to view.  Although a bit anxious about the outcome, I hope to capture the true essence of this new business in hopes to notify others of this shop through my short film.

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