Journ Student Jess

Student journalist looking for feedback on assignments and journalism in general

What I’ve learned about elections, so far at least

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It was a long second day at the Saginaw News. I was supposed to work a night shift but showed up at the office bright and early. My editor figured since I was there, I might as well be writing so I got in on the latest action in Saginaw.

Turns out the Buena Vista Schools district shut down operations as of last night, letting go of all their employees and terminating all benefits. MLive’s education reporter (and fellow Chippewa) Lindsay Knake spent hours finding new angles and sources for the ongoing controversy before covering the school board’s community meeting later that night. It was also an election night for Hemlock, Swan Valley and my hometown of Midland so I was called in as reinforcements.

Thanks to Twitter, I learned Huffington Post had picked up the story about the Buena Vista schools closing and informed my editor. We quickly found other links to make an aggregation post, combining articles and sources from various publications across the nation. I was pretty pleased with the end result, which changed frequently throughout the process due to updates and more coverage. To read the full article, click here. 

Later that night, I talked with city and county clerks in Midland and began watching the election results page for any early precinct calculations. Yesterday I posted an article about a new technology bond initiative, introduced by the Midland Public Schools, that aimed to put an iPad in the hand of every student in the district. That proposal, along with a $54 million sinking fund renewal, was not passed by voters, with more information about the results here.

At the end of the day, I started to reflect on working Election Day in 2012. It was a very important and very hectic night working in Bay County; many precincts had trouble tallying votes and key sources were not picking up phones to comment. I remember leaving the county building around 4 a.m. with another reporter, walking back to the office to pound out a couple stories and being told to go home and get some rest by my editor. But only until 8 a.m., when the stories needed to be done to publish on MLive’s river of content.

Thankfully, I am working from home tonight and am able to make a quick getaway in order to sleep. Of all the things I have learned about working election nights, it is this: do not underestimate a good nap and an even better cup of coffee. Have a great night, readers!



Written by hayne2jr

May 8, 2013 at 3:51 am

Back To The Office: Part Two

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Today marked the start of my summer internship with The Saginaw News-MLive and I cannot be happier to be back in the newsroom. I recently finished my first semester at Central Michigan University and am ready to get back on the scene after completing a fall editorial internship in 2012.

Midland Northeast Middle School Science Teacher Anthony Bauer monitors his eighth grade students tests as the students take the test using his Apple iPad. Since the release of the tablet device last April, Bauer has tried to push it to its limits in the classroom, using it to give presentations, organize student data, along with basic web functions such as e-mail and surfing the Internet.

Midland Northeast Middle School Science Teacher Anthony Bauer monitors his eighth grade students tests as the students take the test using his Apple iPad.

Although my first day was pretty much spent resetting my accounts and editing my MLive profile, which you can view here, I was able to schedule stories to focus on over the next week and some assignments. I am attending the Dow Chemical Annual Stockholder’s Meeting, or “the Meeting,” on Thursday with fellow reporter Justin Engel, from The Bay City Times and covering the Everyday Hero award banquet for the Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority next week.

There was even enough time for a quick post. One of the things that drew me towards journalism when considering a career was the opportunity to learn and share that knowledge with others. I learned about a new technology initiative by Midland Public Schools is going before the voters, with the potential of putting an iPad in the hands of every student in the district and the cost of around $20.8 million. The full article is available here.

I am reporting on the results tomorrow and will have an update to share as soon as final tallies are completed. Class may be a memory soon but I am earning credits for this internship, hence the continuance of the JournStudent Jess blog. My hope is you will keep following and offer any feedback, advice or comments you might think of this summer. Thanks for reading!

Checking on Congress: A video diary by Jessica Haynes

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I recently found out the house my parents brought me home to was torn down. So I set out in Saginaw to find out what happened and to talk a walk around my old neighborhood. The following is a video diary I created using video and still photography from the bright Sunday afternoon I returned to Congress Street. Below the picture is a full-length article with additional information about the disappearing house phenomenon happening in Saginaw.

Here is a link to the video diary.


FULL ARTICLE: Checking on Congress by Jessica Haynes

It’s been 18 years since I visited my old neighborhood in Saginaw and when I heard the house I grew up in was gone, I knew I had to return and check on the state of Congress.

My parents brought me home the summer of 1990 to a little house with black shutters, at 1115 Congress Street. The house barely covers 900 square feet; I still remember sharing a bedroom with my sisters at the “little house” as we called it.

A bit of research revealed the house, estimated at $32,000 by the real estate company Trulia, was sold for $1 in 2005. After it was purchased by the Saginaw County Land Bank for $3,112, the property was selected for demolition.

While I was taking pictures of the empty place where my house once stood, Saginaw resident Donquavis Gibson approached to ask if I was turning the area into a parking lot. I told him that I was just trying to find out to the house that once stood there.

Gibson, 21, informed me the house I lived in was tore down just a few months ago and added other properties on Congress had been turned into parking lots by Covenant Healthcare. I asked him how he felt about the demolitions.

“It’s cool, money make money. I ain’t tripping,” Gibson replied.

He said many of the residents in the area were homeowners and that the hospital was trying to move them out of the neighborhood. Two houses on my old block are now boarded up, decorated with bright yellow arson signs to deter any potential troublemakers.

Saginaw resident Victor Colon Junior, 63, lives on Benjamin Street and said he wants to see something beneficial planned for the empty lots.

“If nobody is going to maintain them, might as well put the land to good use,” Colon said.

Just three blocks away, an ordinary house stands out from the others lining Bond Street. The body of 23-year-old Saginaw resident Angelica Olivarez was found inside the residence little over a week ago.

Her death brought hundreds together to not only mourn her loss but console each other as a community. Saginaw has been rated one of the most dangerous cities by the FBI as recently as 2011.

A sign on the corner of Congress and Benjamin reads that the Saginaw Neighborhood Stabilization program is at work in this area.

Housing Coordinator Miss Johnston said the organization acquires foreclosed or abandoned properties in order to rehabilitate or rebuild for future homeowners.

“People are interested in our program. This is a good market to buy and we have been very successful with the houses we have rehabbed and sold,” Johnston said.

The program is limited in what else it can do for my old neighborhood; it is nearing the end of its three-year run.

“As soon as we have acquired buyers for our last properties we are working on, the program will be over,” Johnston said.

Although I can visit the two other houses that have sheltered me, the little house on Congress Street is gone. Row of pine trees are left, and whether or not the property is used by hospital employees or left alone to silently nurture what is growing it its soil, the land is still there.

Written by hayne2jr

April 23, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Venture Out! Exploring the Chippewa Nature Center During Spring Migration

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As part of my video project, I visited the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland to talk to a naturalist about how the spring migration has gone so far. It was an early morning in April when I arrived and the weather was not working with me; it was cloudy, cold and a bit dismal.
During my time at the Visitor Center, I spoke with Central Michigan University graduate, 34-year-old Jenn Kirts, about what species have been seen this year and how the weather has affected any of their behaviors.
I have visited the Chippewa Nature Center many times before and was familiar with many of the trails we discussed. Kirts was friendly and easy to interview; we ended up chatting at the end of a long room that looks out over the Chippewa and Pine rivers.
The hardest part of this project for me was editing. After some initial “save project” problems with iMovie, I switched to a different program I had a bit more familiarity with, Adobe Premier Pro. Although I had most of the initial cutting, editing and figured out my cutaways with an original project, I did not have enough time to include most of the second version. It was a challenge adding in consistent transitions and trying to keep track of the lengths to keep them uniform but Adobe worked better in that aspect. Overall, I had a good time working on this project and was satisfied with the final project.

Written by hayne2jr

April 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Timeline of JRN 340 Blog Posts

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I created this Meograph for a class assignment in JRN 340: Intro to Online Journalism. Having used this medium before, I felt comfortable setting up a timeline with photos and links regarding my blog posts on WordPress.

The purpose of the website, Meograph, is to create not only a timeline but to make a visually appealing multimedia project in order to better explain a story. I would definitely continue to use this in the future because it incorporates many elements, like photographic stills, video, text, Google maps and even narration, to better connect to readers. This is a great tool when you have different mediums you want to merge into one without overpowering other parts.

Written by hayne2jr

April 3, 2013 at 12:31 am

Working with stats: How to not only make an info-graphic but also make it interesting

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In today’s class, my fellow journalism students and I learned about the power of info-graphics and how they can be used to tell a story, show statistics in a visual manner and attract readers who go after images rather than text. The professor then set us loose to make our own creations so here it goes!

Pie Chart Info-graphicchart

Above is a pie chart, created using Google ChartEditor. It depicts the percentage of minority students at Central Michigan University, based on the incoming freshman class of 2010. I found the data on CMU’s official website, from the Office of Diversity, and thought a chart would be the best way to illustrate the amount of diversity on campus. I would use Google ChartEditor in the newsroom in order to help readers understand basic data sets since it was relatively easy to figure out and appeals to readers who learn through visuals.

Getting to know a location with Google Maps

I then created a map of downtown Midland for new visitors, with pins to indicate favorite spots and businesses in the area. Google Maps was pretty simple to use but would not allow the map to be embedded as an image. Hence, it is now included as a hyperlink and you can get to it by clicking here.

More than likely, I will use this tool again as a journalist. Many readers are familiar with Google and the company is well-known and has a professional reputation. I would create maps with this to illustrate how numerous locations are connected or close to each other. Overall,  I think info-graphics are a great way to illustrate information if used with the right kind of data. Thanks for reading!

The New York Times presents “Iraq: 10 Years and Counting” (news video commentary)

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A destroyed Iraqi tank rests on the roadside, a reminder of the invasion of Baghdad and its ensuing chaos.The New York Times took a look at the country Iraq, 10 years after the invasion of Baghdad by American troops, in this news video available on their website, in the “Video” section. It begins with an address from President George Bush from 2003, followed by footage of civilians talking about their experiences in the capitol since then. It was produced by Channon Hodge, Tim Arango, Duraid Adnan, and Stephen Ferrell.

The story was short, to the point and posed the question of whether the war in Iraq was worth fighting for. The news team received a quick and overwhelmingly negative answer from local sources. I could see how this story would be told through video, since it is important to capture the environment and scenery of Baghdad. The city is still damaged and many of the residents are out of jobs or hope. Their faces and expressions of despair and worry are lasting images, meant to make viewers feel and focus on them as central characters in the story of Baghdad. There is human emotion, action involving video taken in the city and many informative sources in this story.

After re-watching the news video, I believe it did have a clear narrative and followed a timeline of events in Iraq, with a focus on the end results to cap off the story. The beginning set the scene for the first sparks in Iraq; Bush’s address and footage of air strikes served as reminders of how the invasion began. The middle is told through photos of the ensuing battles and responses from foreign reporters covering Baghdad. I thought the best part of this video was the end, when the residents of the city talked about how nothing has changed. The viewer is left with a profound feeling, hearing how people’s lives may not have worsened since Saddam Hussein was toppled but have not improved either.

The sound and visual you first see once you click “play,” is President George Bush, announcing then-leader of Iraq Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave the country within 48 hours, prompting the invasion of Baghdad. The story is told through a voice-over narration by a New York Times reporter, interviews with Baghdad residents and journalists who covered the invasion. A variety of shots and sequences were used, including close-ups or portraits of the sources, detail shots of carnage after a gun battle in Baghdad and wide-angle shots of the city. B-roll consisted of shots around the city, traffics and markets and people walking around and included natural sound, giving cultural and language cues to the viewer.

Sources were identified in the lower third and I felt that pacing was appropriate and I was able to identify who was speaking at the right time. The video is over three minutes long but goes fast because it covers such a wide span of time. It does go from a perspective of the military retreat from Baghdad right into how residents feel after the invasion which was a bit jarring.

What I liked about this video was that it captured the real emotions of Baghdad residents, along with military and media commentary. It was an excellent story package with all the elements necessary; a clear topic, authentic sources and powerful imagery. This video accomplished its goal of giving viewers the full force of how Baghdad is after the invasion. I would have put more live video of the city right after the invasion but I understand that for time’s sake it could have been edited out to save room for other elements.

Written by hayne2jr

March 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm

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