Final Reflection Post

Digital Literacy

In her article, “At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times,” Glynda Hull, Professor of Language and Literacy, Society and Culture, calls for

"… [an] urgent need: to expand our conceptions of what it means to be fully literate in new times. Ours is an age in which technologies for multi-media, multi-modal authorship proliferate, challenging logo centric habits of mind… In these new times, I want to suggest, a familiarity with the full range of communicative tools, modes, and media, plus an awareness of and a sensitivity to the power and importance of representation of self and others, along with the space and support to communicate critically, aesthetically, lovingly, and agentively – these are paramount for literacy now (p. 230)."

I believe Professor Hull’s acknowledgment of the power of digital representation is key to understanding digital literacy. If we recognize that our new communicative tools have the power to influence people all over the world, we should also work to be digitally screen-shot-2014-01-01-at-10-32-14-pm1literate. Without this literacy, a journalist could find herself breaking the law, according to Brian Carroll’s discussion of libel in Writing for Digital Media. Similarly, if the digital consumer is illiterate, the content he or she is interacting with can never be properly stolen. In his work, Steal Like an ArtistAustin Kleon notes that stealing and plagiarizing are different. Literate digital artists steal the motivations behind content they love; illiterate digital consumers publish someone else’s content as their own.

In order to better understand Professor Hull, I’ve considered my multimedia project a lesson in digital literacy. My project helped me identify the important digital literacies we need in this digital age:

  • Honesty
  • Professionalism
  • Integrity
  • Identification of
    • Personal brand
    • Intended audience

Creating digital content requires a massive amount of respect for the digital medium. In order to be digitally literate, I’ve found that a great deal of time, energy, and passion must be present in each video clip, sound bite, blog post, and web page. Because I was involved in each part of digital production, I’ve begun to understand why digital communications is so important and marketable in this day in age. Digital content demands unwavering professionalism.

The Videos

decal-i-voted-oval-sticker-copyBefore I made Millennial Voter Participation, my individual video project, a number of my classmates and professors shared with me their frustrations with student voter turnout at Furman. As a political science major, I was inclined to create a video that spoke to the problem that is too often blamed on millennials alone. I wanted this video to tell the story of Furman’s students– their frustrations with the voting process and inability to register to vote in Greenville County until the 2016 lawsuit. Therefore, every part of the video’s production was grounded in honesty. For example, in her interview, Claudia Leslie said that she did not care about voting because it was too difficult to request an absentee ballot. I believe this statement honestly reflects the priorities of busy college students.

While trying to afford the ROTC cadets the same candidness, I encountered my first taste of what it could be like to be a real journalist with the group video I helped produce, ROTC: A Story of Three Women. Our production group received some negative feedback about parts of our video, and we honored a cadet’s request to edit our original video. In Digital Communications class we’ve discussed topics such as the First Amendment and the Freedom of Information Act; I knew that our group had every right to include the original content. However, we’ve also discussed journalistic integrity in class. I wanted our video to tell the stories of the females in ROTC, so I chose to be an advocate for the three cadets we interviewed. Although I learned an incredible amount about the functions of Premiere Elements software, I believe that my unexpected lesson from ROTC taught me something more valuable. I learned that honoring the subjects of a video is more important that disrespecting them to get a good sound bite.

Group Podcast: Furman Major Stereotypes

After spending so much time editing two videos, I found editing audio difficult. The
combination of audio and visual elements can bring a story to life. I discovered that a podcast can have a similar impact on a story, but the editing process requires much more attention to audio detail. I mistakenly thought that because I was skilled at video editing, I could also expertly navigate Audacity software. I was wrong. It took me longer than expected to edit the audio interviews, and the process tested my patience. For example, I found that editing the volume of music clips to balance with the interview audio takes a lot of time. It was through this assignment that I really developed my respect for digital creators.

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Skills and Competencies: My Blog and Personal Website

I’ve grouped these two sections of my multimedia project together because they taught me how to represent myself online. I’ve always been naturally good at interpersonal communication and public speaking, but the online platform works in an entirely different way. Instead, I had to develop my writing skills. I found it tricky to write for both an informational Politicollege blog post and an About Me blurb on my website. While both must be concise, they must also reflect the intended audience. Before this class, I never thought about how I could develop and market my personal brand online. I found that the key to doing so it to understand who you’re writing to. Personally, I’m writing to future law firms and/or policymakers in Washington D.C. I want my personal brand to be approachable yet professional. In my opinion, my blog reflects that I am passionate about my community and knowledgeable about my area of study. My website exemplifies my content design abilities and conveys that my skill set it versatile. I will regularly update my website and showcase my blog in interviews because I intend for the skills I’ve learned in this class to help carry my professional career.

 

Sources and Image Credit

FOIA.gov

Glynda Hull ~ “At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times,”

Heritage.org

Steal Like and Artist and Image ~ Austin Kleon

Brian Carroll ~ Writing for Digital Media

All other images ~ Shannon Cherney

Furman Majors and their Stereotypes

Are some majors easier than others? What kinds of workloads are associated with different majors? Does some majors require smarter students?

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To answer these questions Courtney Mettler, Allie Rockstroh and I interviewed some students and faculty at Furman University to discuss what they thought about Furman’s majors.

We found that students and even professors admit that a degree of bias exists about which majors are harder at Furman. One student even mentioned that an accounting major required more of a brain than a theater major. Overall, despite these stereotypes, there isn’t a very big gap between starting salaries of science and humanities majors. Even further, studies show that humanities graduates are starting to make more money than the average American worker.

To find out more, check out our podcast!

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Why Are Millennials Not Voting?

So we know that millennials tend to refrain from casting a vote on election day, but the 64 thousand dollar question remains: why? Why is it that only 8% of eligible students on my college campus voted in the 2014 election? Why is my generation not participating in politics? Based on a series of interviews with college students, I’ve narrowed it down to two (very different) reasons.

  1. External restrictions
  2. Apathy

External Restrictions

Part of the millennial voter participation problem isn’t due to millennials at all. Our local and state laws may play a large role in suppressing the youth vote.

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Image Credit: MySouthlakeNews.com

Alynna Knaub, a junior Biology and Religion major at Furman University, told me that she didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election. While she holds a number of political opinions and supported Hilary Clinton in the recent election, she attributes her inability to vote to the inconvienient absentee voter process. She says of her home state, “I wasn’t aware that Texas required absentee voters to apply for a ballot weeks in advance. I was disappointed when I found out I missed the deadline.” Knaub looks forward to voting in the 2018 midterm elections now that she is aware of the Texas absentee process.

Knaub is not alone in her frustrations. According to The No Vote By Mail Project, absentee voting can be problematic for reasons including:

  • privately owned absentee ballot counting machines
  • high costs associated with absentee voting system
  • a lengthy application process
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Outside the Greenville County Courtroom. From left to right: Myself, Luke Hoover (visitor), Benjamin Longnecker (Plaintiff), Sulaiman Ahmad (Plaintiff), Katherine West (Plaintiff).

Alongside of the grievances with the absentee voting requirements, Furman students have also been involved in a lawsuit against Greenville County on the basis of voter discrimination. Before the lawsuit, if you tried to register to vote in Greenville County with a student address, there were a number of hoops you had to jump through to eventually be able to vote. For example, students attempting to register were vetted with invasive questionnaires and interviews. Some students were simply turned away.  In October of 2016, the three student Plaintiffs were successful. A judge required the Greenville County Board of Voter Registration and Elections to treat college students the same as Greenville residents. Thanks to the initiative of my fellow students, I believe Furman students will find it easier to register to vote in South Carolina.

Apathy

As much as I would like to believe that it’s not my generation’s fault, I must acknowledge the fact that some people my age simply don’t care to vote.

Another student I spoke with believes that our generation is too apathetic toward voting.

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Image credit: The Odyssey Online

Emily Harris, a junior Political and Asian Studies major at Furman, mentioned that “people may not be willing to go out of their way to vote because they don’t care about politics.”

Katherine West, a Furman Political Science major and plaintiff in the lawsuit, shares the same sentiment about youth voter participation. As happy as she is with the outcome of the lawsuit, she believes that our generation lacks motivation to vote. West attributes millennial voter apathy to a lack of political efficacy. Of our generation, she says, “We like immediacy. It’s hard for people to see and feel the immediate effect of their vote. If young adults don’t feel like their vote matters, they won’t bother taking the time to vote.”

Gabriel Arce, a recent graduate from Coastal Carolina University, unapologetically exemplifies this phenomenon. Arce refused to vote in the 2016 election because of the candidates. He remarked, “They are all crooked in my opinion. Not much will change.”

When I asked Arce if he thinks his vote would matter, he curtly replied, “Hell no.”

 

Want to know more about millennial voter participation? Watch this video on student voter participation at Furman University.

 

Sources and Media Credit

BigThink.com

CASE NO.: 2016-CP-23 Lawsuit

Greenville Online September 22, 2016

Greenville Online October 7, 2016

Header Image Credit: Shannon Cherney

Huffington Post

Image of Plaintiffs: Shannon Cherney

Video: Shannon Cherney

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National and Local Politics in Action

The current political climate is writ with activism. President Trump and his administration have sparked a number of protests, marches, and rallies. Protests like The Women’s March, the Native Nations Rise March, and The Students for Solidarity Rally exemplify how we can advocate for ourselves with something as big as an international following or as local as a community rally. And both can make a profound impact.

The Women’s March

The largest single-day protest in United States history.

On January 21st, 2017, 673 marches took place worldwide, on all seven continents. In Washington D.C. alone, 500,000 people gathered to advocate for legislation reform on issues such as women’s rights, healthcare, and immigration. The protestors were concerned with newly inaugurated President Trump’s seemingly anti-women sentiment. Partisan issues aside, the best part of the Women’s Marches was the fact that each march in the United States was completely peaceful.

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Nearly 100,000 people attended The Women’s March in London, England on January 21st 2017– the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency. 

The Native Nations March

Spanned generations.

I had the pleasure of attending the Native Nations Rise March  on March 10th, 2017. Members of Native American tribes across the United States gathered in Washington D.C. to march down Pennsylvania Avenue, protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. The march was led in part by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which argues that the 1,172 mile pipeline threatens drinking water, crosses sacred lands, and was approved by the Trump administration without proper consent. The protestors demanded an audience with the Trump administration believe the United States should pay more respect to tribal rights.

On a cold and sleety Friday morning, the protestors met in Judiciary Square, marched to

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The route the Native Nations protestors walked in Washington D.C on March 10th 2017. 

the front of the Trump Hotel, the White House, and eventually ended their march at the Washington Monument. The atmosphere was lively; Many people were dressed in feathers and bright colors, others were singing or chanting with drums. Everything smelled like incense. And at the end they gave the protestors pizza! I was amazed at the march’s diversity– both young and old showed up to advocate for tribal rights.

The Students for Solidarity Rally

At Furman University.

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Furman students and community members standing outside the library, listening to students speak about the Muslim ban. 

Students may not have voted in large numbers at Furman University, but they are starting to speak out against President Trump’s recent executive order that banned Muslim and refugees from seven countries. On February 15th, 2017, Furman students and members of the Greenville community gathered on the steps of the James B. Duke library to protest the ban. Although the number of protestors at Furman pales in comparison to that of the Women’s March or even the Native Nations March, it’s encouraging to see my generation voicing political opinions.

Even some students supporting President Trump’s executive order came to the library steps on February 15th.

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The Trump Supporters at the February 15th rally. Used with permission.

So What?

These three marches echo the influential protests like the 1963 March on Washington or the Take Back the Night protests in the 1790s. The Women’s March, the Native Nations March, and the Students for Solidarity Rally were not the first time individuals have spoken up about important issues. And if we keep up the political spirit, they will not be the last. As citizens, we have the right and the privilege to have our voices heard. So speak up about the issues on your mind because the world is listening.

 

Sources and Image Credit

Image of Women’s March in London from DailyMail.com

All other images from Shannon Cherney

History.com

Native Nations Rise

NBC News

Standing with Standing Rock

The Hill

The White House

Time.com

Wikipedia List of 2017 Women’s Marches

 

Watch What you Write

The job of a journalist requires more than writing abilities, creativity, and good sources. Journalists must be careful; accurate reporting helps prevent journalists from being sued for libel.

libel
Image Credit: EULawAnalysis

What exactly is libel?

In his work Writing for Digital Media, Brian Carroll identifies libel as a written statement that damages the reputation of the subject about which the statement was written. Libel is usually a civil matter and must be printed or published, must be erroneous or false, and must be defamatory.

According to Carroll, of all the lawsuits filed against mass media, three-fourths are allegations of libel. In order for the plaintiff, the entity or individual suing, to win the lawsuit, it must meet a six-pronged burden. These elements include:

  • Defamation of the plantiff’s reputation or character
  • Identification of the plaintiff as the subject written about
  • Publication of the defamatory information
  • Fault on behalf of the media
  • Falsity of information written
  • Injury suffered by the plaintiff (for the purposes of awarding monetary damages)

 

What does libel have to do with defamation?

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Image Credit: Hariri Law Group

Defamatory, or derogatory, information must hold the plaintiff up to hatred, ridicule, or contempt, according to Carroll. This type of information can include accusing someone of a crime, of moral failings, or of serious business and/or professional shortcomings. Stories that suggest a pattern of this behavior are almost always found defamatory.

However, simply because information qualifies as defamation does not automatically

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Image  credit: World Magazine

make it libel. In order for the publication of defamatory information to be illegal, it must be false. When information is published about a public figure, like a governor or celebrity, the plaintiff must prove the journalist knew the information was false or wrote the information with a reckless disregard for the truth. This is called actual malice. On the other hand, if the defamatory information is published about a private citizen, the plaintiff need only prove that the journalist acted negligently, that he or she simply failed to exercise ordinary or reasonable care, according to Carroll. Because public figures have very little private and protected aspects of their lives, the plaintiff is held to a harder standard of falsity if he or she is a public figure suing for libel.

A good journalist can avoid a libel case altogether by conducting a thorough investigation, verifying information from official and reliable sources, and contacting the subject of a story for commentary.

 

Sources and Image Credit

Writing for Digital Media

Header Image from QuickandDirtyTips.com

 

 

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So you want to Conduct an Audio Interview?

Stop, look, and listen

Baby, that’s my philosophy. When it comes to interviewing a subject, it’s important to stop, take a pause. Allowing your subject time to recollect their thoughts is a valuable tool in an audio interview setting. Even though the interview will record only audio, an expert interviewer will also take time to look at their surroundings to ensure their subject is comfortable. Most importantly, listen to your creative process. Listen to radio you like, and listen to your own content.

Stop

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Source: DreamsTime

According to J. Carl Ganter and Eileen E. Ganter, the authors of Sound in the Story, silence
equals reflection. Because we’re afraid of silence, we often don’t let people speak. In an interview, if there is a pause, we have a tendency to jump in a fill it. If you feel the urge to do so, STOP. Let the subject reflect on what he or she was talking about. Sometimes there is a beauty in silence. Giving your subject time to recollect allows you to get a good sound bite for the audio recording. If needed, you can always edit the pause out later.

Look

Look at where you’ve positioned the microphone. You  want the subject close to the microphone, ideally about four inches away. Do not let the subject hold the microphone. as it may make him or her uncomfortable or feel that they are controlling the interview. You direct the questions, so you should control the interview.

eye-contact1
Source: Erich Schmidt

Take time to build a rapport with your subject. If he or she balks at the microphone, make them feel more at ease by looking the him or her in the eye. When your subject is talking, eye contact helps to demonstrate your attentiveness to the subject. It’s important that your subject feels like you care about what he or she is telling you.

Listen

Listen to your voice, listen to your subject’s voice, listen to the environment around you,

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Source: Austin Kleon

even listen to other audio programs that you like. Once you get an ear for a type of sound you think is good, use it. In the words of Austin Kleon, steal like an artist. Nothing is original, we all use each other’s content to spark new interpretations of old ideas. Even the Ganters note that “it’s all been said before.” More often than not, journalists have to write on the same news events. A good journalist will report the same facts in a unique way.

For example, the Ganters write…

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Source: J. Carl Ganter and Eileen Ganter

 

As your subject talks, listen for both the content of what he or she is saying and for the quality of the sound. Is there distracting background noise? Did you subject complete his or her sentence or thought? If you find that you may have missed something important that your subject said, simply ask him or her to rephrase their thought.

Your most important job as an interviewer is to tell a story. You use your subject to help you paint beautiful pictures with the spoken word. So go out and start stopping, looking, and listening.

 

 

People who don’t vote: Furman University Case Study

I attend Furman University, a small, private liberal arts university in Greenville, South Carolina. Although the Politics and International Affairs department is quite large and includes an incredible faculty, politically involved students make up only a fraction of Furman’s campus.

You don’t have to take my word for it, there’s data.

The following graphic depicts Furman student’s voting statistics collected by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. The results show the percentage of Furman students who were eligible to vote and who actually voted int he 2012 and 2014 elections.

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Furman student voting rate data from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement shows that a very low percentage of students vote.

So what?

First of all, consider the first percentage: 24% of eligible voters on my campus voted in the presidential election. That means that three quarters of the campus– people with interests, needs, and opinions– were silent. Think about what that would mean for the entire country? In 2012, President Obama won against his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, and 57.5% of those eligible in the country voted, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. If entire eligible population voted like Furman students, we could have very well had a different president for the past four years.

Second, the 2014 Furman voting results aren’t even in the double digits. Granted, midterm
elections are not as popularized as the presidential elections, but we might expect a campus full of academically rigorous students reach a percentage higher than 8%. I get it, voting for local politicians isn’t as culturally sexy as tweeting at Kim Kardashian. The thing is, Kim K. cannot directly affect your life. Your local government officials can by advocating on your behalf before Congress, expediting governmental processes when you need help quickly, or even allocating you government money you deserve.

In an earlier post, I included a slideshow of the public officials relevant to Greenville and South Carolina voters.

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Congressman Trey Gowdy at a press conference to discuss House Benghazi Committee.

Yesterday I asked one of my peers about Trey Gowdy, a Republican member U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s fourth district.  She had no idea who I was talking about. Why is that bad? I’ll give you three reasons.

  1. Greenville is in the fourth district, so Trey Gowdy is our congressman.
  2. He was a chairman of the House Benghazi Committee (said to have uncovered the Hilary Clinton email scandal).
  3. He came to Furman last semester.
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Congressman Trey Gowdy at Furman University, 2016

Why should you listen to me?

Because I’ve been there. I’ve been bored or annoyed with politics. But I’ve also been there. I worked in a congressional office for the 7th district of South Carolina. I have worked with congresspersons, their staffers, and their constituents. I have witnesses local government helping hard family or medical situations. I can tell you that it is possible for the government to be a positive influence in your life. All you have to do is get involved.

Sources and Image Credit

Bipartisan Policy Center

Forbes

Header Image: Sources from Steve Limentani, Slate, Mix 108, National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement

National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement

Image: Furman Voting Data used from independent study from NSLVE

Image: Gowdy Press Conference used from Crooks and Liars

Image: Gowdy at Furman used from Furman News

The Select Committee on Benghazi

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