Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Freedom of speech, it's such an important concept. Today my adviser at work was speaking about this specific news item, the Mesa Press publishing an article on a somewhat controversial topic, or is it really that controversial? Is the mainstream media making too much of what the student editors saw as an informative piece?
Personally, I thought it must have been a slow news day in order for the TV station to even bother reporting on this issue. At Mt. SAC for example, students have written about sex before, in different contexts, so I really see it as a non issue. You be the judge.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Yesterday, as is my Friday M.O., I made my way to cover a prep football game for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. It wasn't even a full write up, but one of our football capsules to let the readers know what went on with that particular school. Upon arrival, I noticed how different things were at PHS than at those other Orange County venues, for one thing there is no press box. Some districts have put more money and resources into their Athletic Departments, but I guess some other schools put the funding elsewhere.
This is not a knock against Pomona though, I just observed that they perhaps are not used to getting a lot of media coverage. The lady at the gate had to check with a coach before letting me in with my CIF press pass. Then during the game, I covered things from the vantage view of the sidelines, something I mostly only do in the 4th quarter and if there is no box. It was a great game, if not a competitive one, as Pomona tried to get back into it late. (Northview prevailed 20-10.)
Yet, it's way more fun to be down in the field than up in a stuffy press box because you get the pulse of the game, how the players are feeling, and how the coaches are reacting. You truly get an inside look at the schools and their players. Bonus, in the end I don't have to race down in the final minute to get past security to the field to interview the winning coach and players.
Even in digital age, it amazes me how mainstream media still clings to some old and less efficient ways of getting the job done. For example, at the Tribune, sports writers and correspondents are expected to call in scores quarter by quarter and to call in the final score of the game, so they can update the scoreboard on the website. However, I also tweet the final score of the game and halftime, because I know that even though I don't have a large audience hanging by my updates, (It's not like I am ESPN or some big name covering the NCAA) there are still some die hards that appreciate the information.
I tried calling in the final score of games the last few weeks, but it's a hit and miss, sometimes the phone lines get clogged up and we are expected to keep calling back. In the age of instant information, this process to me seems dated and unnecessary, especially if there are disconnects like we have had the last 3 weeks. If any editors are per chance reading this, if you are waiting on a final score, jump on twitter and check our tweets, chances are that some of us have posted them there.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
My car has been running sluggish so I took it in to the mechanic only to find out I had to overhaul the entire break system (pads, rotor, drums) and the tires had worn out, down to 10 percent, so I had to change all 4 of them. The joys of driving a used car kids. Set me back nearly $700 parts and labor!
I am on my way to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune newsroom to pick up my CIF pass for fall 2012. Even though I start classes at Fullerton in less than 2 weeks, and am moving into the area to be close to school starting this weekend, I can still drive back on weekends to visit the parents and family and to cover prep games.
Week zero is just around the corner and I have written a football preview of Baldwin Park and Sierra Vista HS for patch.com. Tomorrow I am heading over to the field to take some snapshots of their scrimmage to go along with my story.
I am still struggling with trying to write more creatively and with trying to come up with a writing schedule and regiment in order to produce some literary work, but truth be told when it has been so hot in the valley, all I ever want to do is sit in front of my fan or escape to the local coffee joint to read the paper, sip some lattes and/or partake of the A.C. So what of my summer bucket list I formulated around early June? How faithful was I to my goals/wants/plans? Glad you asked:
- movies- saw a few blockbusters, the Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Ted (yea I know it was funny)
- photography-I'd say 50/50 would have lot to have been further along by now, but I made quite a number of prints at the summer program @Tri Community and I also got more familiar with Adobe Light room.
- One trip to SD/Vegas/Portland- Comic con doesn't count, it was way too short, and most of these fell through because of the car situation and other financial demands. (books for school etc) Stupid car problems!
- study chess: Every time I crack a book open to study I get sidetracked by wanting to play an mmo, so I go play DAoC or DDO. At least I got to hang out last weekend and play all day with my Citrus buds.
- 3 months to mmorpg: still mmorpging, but I want to try to level up my mage again, wow is so time consuming, I won't have time to raid once school starts up
- beach and other miscellaneous fun: haven't been out to the beach once. Gas is pretty steep, but now that I will be in Fullerton, it's at least a bit closer.
- local freelancing assignments and internship: Calwatchdog allowed me to do the story I wanted to write, and working on one more before the season ends. I would say didn't work out quite as planned, especially this month because the Patch freelancing budget isn't what it once was, which is why I am glad:
football is back!
I am looking forward to the fall season and to settling into completing my masters. I will also be brushing up on some skills I did not get to work on as an undergrad at the local JC such as video editing and page design, if all goes as planned. May the force be with me!!
Thursday, July 19, 2012
This summer thus far has been a hectic whirlwind of activity, and it seems as I barely have taken a breather from working at Mt. SAC last fall, transitioning into a short-term assignment at the P.R. office at Citrus, to summer and into fall. Ever since I found out a few days ago that I had been admitted for grad school at CSU Fullerton, I have been running around making preparations, and now I have about a month's time to find a place to stay before I am immersed in academics again, becoming a semi professional student.
A week ago, I dropped everything and headed out with my brother to San Diego for a couple of days of sun and relaxation at the SDCC. I have an artist friend who was exhibiting at the convention, and he was able to get us professional passes for the con, but really before that little jaunt I had not even left the SGV for months, probably since my sister's wedding in Arizona.
I say all this because I am anticipating taking a short vacation, probably once July is mercifully over and I have secured my living arrangements at Fullerton for the fall. Orientation looms near, so it would sure be nice to take a breather before that new and exciting phase of my life begins! I am beyond excited over becoming at Titan and finally getting on with my educational career.
So what of writing? It was on my summer bucket list to actually take a few hours a day and come up with some creative writing project in addition to blogging regularly again, but photography has taken a more prominent role, not that I have even shot a whole lot, with the exception of a few assignments including a 4th of July celebration, but I have taken some courses, trying to get proficient at Adobe Lightroom and learning to use my Canon.
I know soon enough summer 2012 will be in the metaphorical rear view mirror, and I will be left with a lot of papers to write, projects and research, and frankly I am concurrently elated and scared to death. LOL. May the force be with me!
Monday, July 16, 2012
According to information released by the chancellor's office last week, students planning to finish school will likely be allowed to register before others at California's 112 community colleges.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that a plan to give enrollment priority to students who have completed an orientation, taken English or Math skills tests, or filled out a plan for completing college has won preliminary approval.
The community college state board is expected to vote on the proposal in September, and the new rules would take effect in 2014, but under these new rules, colleges would penalize students who have completed far more units than they need to transfer to a four-year school.
It was not immediately clear how many of the state's 2.7 million or so students complete an educational plan, and it's also unknown at this time how educators who are grappling with an ongoing budget crunch, which has already slashed thousands of classes, can figure out how to help students plan their educational paths.
The Daily Democrat newspaper reports Paul Feist, in the California Community College's Chancellor's Office said the board also gave final approval to new regulations preventing students from repeating classes they have already passed.
KPGS news also reported that active-duty military, veterans and former foster children will still have priority standing. They will be followed by students who have completed education plans, are in good academic standing, and have fewer than 100 credits.
On the face of it, the proposed changes are good, theoretically getting rid of the professional student in favor of those who have clear ideas and are on track to graduate and join the professional ranks.
On further inspection, these are proposed regulations which bring up more questions than they answer and which appear to be contrary to the traditional mission of community colleges: To give students another viable educational option, other than more expensive state schools and private colleges.
For example: will the new regulations exempt students retroactively, those who have amassed a great number of units sampling various career options, or will it punish them right away by not allowing them to register into classes?
And what of a program such as a school's journalism program? At Mt. SAC for example, we relied on student editors repeating classes for practice because it was impossible them to learn their craft in one semester's time. These new regulation fail to address specialized programs like a school newspaper, which are very important to the campus community and the individual students.
There are many other activity, non-academic courses which require several semesters to achieve proficiency, but these new regulations would prevent students from repeating "activity" courses, such as art or music, starting in Fall 2013.
In the end, if the regulations work out similar to the U.S. government practice of making federal mandates, and then giving states the autonomy to implement and interpret their own laws, at least in theory, state colleges would have the same ability to regulate their curriculums to fit the system's requirements. Yet, this seems a messier process, and it could be an expensive one, if counseling departments, some already affected by budget cuts, have to beef up their manpower to help current and future generation of students.
It will be a "wait and see" game for those who are choosing community college as their primary educational institution, but one thing seems clear, if law makers get their way, the days of repeating courses and sampling various educational tracks are over.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I also have a couple of journalism related internships lined up for now and possibly fall through spring. The beat goes on!
Lately I have been thinking about the upcoming November ballot, specifically about the Governor's tax plan, which if it fails to pass, could have catastrophic results for our schools, especially on the community college side. I have detailed that sort of ad nasuseum in my previous blogs, including my most recent offering, but suffice it to say, it will have some serious repercussions and I am going to keep a close eye on it.
The hour grows late, I mostly checked in to say that I am alive and well, but rest assured, I will be back, so check back often.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Monday, April 09, 2012
by Ariel Carmona Jr
The privatization of higher education, at least at the community college level in the state of California has been averted - at least for the time being.
While a highly publicized incident at Santa Monica College recently, a protest which resulted in the pepper spraying of students, got most of the press, somewhat lost in the media storm was the underlying message: That students fear institutionalized privatization of state funded schools.
Last week the board of trustees at SMCC held off on its controversial plan to institute a two-tier fee structure for high-demand courses beginning in summer session 2012.
Outgoing California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott praised the trustees and college president Chui L. Tsang’s decision saying in a press release, “Although I disagreed with this proposal, I cannot fault college leaders for searching for new approaches to serve students hungry for the opportunity to receive a college education. Tragically, we as a state have failed to properly fund community colleges, and our economy will suffer as a result.”
Talk about understatement of the year. However, despite the Chancellor’s approving remarks, this is not the first state which has tried something like this, and it will probably not be the last time an alternative to the state’s dwindling educational resources will be sought. This was not a great solution and SMCC made the right call on putting a halt to its plan.
The initiative sought to have a nonprofit foundation offer some high-demand core classes such as math and English at a higher price during the summer and winter sessions alongside the same state-funded courses. The California Community Colleges system-wide fees, as established by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, will increase to $46 per unit this summer.
The Santa Monica two-tier plan would have offered a 3-unit class such as English 1A at the state funded amount of $138 while concurrently offering it at $540 as a student-subsidized price range, approximately four times the price.
Similar plans already occur at the Cal State University Level and at University of California Schools. Yet, there is one big difference, as pointed out by several critics of the plan, including a recent editorial which ran in the Modesto Bee: Community Colleges are supposed to offer equal access to all students, and a two-tiered plan would jeopardize this model, effectively making the community colleges less accessible to financially disadvantaged students.
While attending summer session at Cal Poly Pomona two years ago, I had to make a personal decision. The university had cut its state funded summer program in response to deep cuts in education and projected cuts for the following year, but still offered a limited amount of classes to students willing to pay to take them through the colllege’s extended university program.
I wanted to graduate, so I sacrificed a summer of frolic and fun, took the $800 I saved the previous spring, and instead of taking a trip, I took a couple of elective courses. I am sure that I was not the only one making these type of decisions, but I was fortunate to get the classes, others have not been as lucky.
State cuts have forced community college campuses to reduce course offerings by approximately 15 percent at a time when more students than ever are seeking admission.
Possible legal challenges and a possible violation of the California Educational Code may have put a stake through the heart of this recent proposal, but it seems unlikely we have heard the last of these types of “creative” solutions to a difficult budget crisis. It might be up to the voters in the upcoming November election to effectuate the type of tax policy revisions needed for real meaningful and equitable reform.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
What follows is a short academic essay I wrote for the Journalism Association of Community Colleges in defense of newspapers not long ago. Don't steal it you piracy bastards LOL!
by Ariel Carmona Jr.
"I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one," wrote Mark Twain for Galaxy Magazine in December of 1870. Twain's satirical sentiment can be transplanted to the modern era, where an editor of a newspaper could arguably hate his job during a point in history when a 24-hour news cycle and the advances of technology have eroded an industry and caused massive layoffs and enough consistent dissatisfaction with the profession to discourage anyone from entering. However, to argue that we should let newspapers die simply because they are already contracting as a result of declining advertising revenues and the crippling effects of a national recession, is not logically persuasive because it relies on numerous faulty assumptions.
First, proponents of alternative methods of dissemination of the news point to the rise in social media, blogs and other outlets for gathering information and relaying it back to the public. Although social media websites like Facebook and Twitter top the lineup of most popular social media networks with an estimated 750 million and 250 million monthly visitors, respectively, ("eBiz The eBusiness Knowledgbase") neither Facebook, nor Twitter, nor You Tube are reliable sources of information, despite their immediacy and popularity. You Tube in particular, is littered with cases illustrating news hoaxes and falsified reports.
Citizen journalism websites are often cited as another viable 21st century replacement for the moribund newspaper industry, but the problems associated with these websites are as prevalent as those with social media sites, perhaps even more so because practitioners of citizen journalism are not trained in journalism practices, libel law, or ethics, and they are not policed in any ways in matters of standards.
Erin Elizabeth, a journalism major at Ithica College in New York, cites examples of the pitfalls of citizen journalists, succinctly arguing, "They're cheap, they're willing and they're woefully untrained." In her impassioned diatribe against them she goes on to write, "Journalism is like teaching, a lot of people think they can teach elementary school. You only have to know how to write and take pictures, but the truth is it's so much more than that which his why my teacher parents say they could never be journalists because they aren't willing to do the work" (Elizabeth)
One can certainly take Elizabeth's post as an embittered rant, but this does not debunk some of the points raised in her argument. Though many newspapers currently exist who solicit and encourage contributions by citizen journalists, they don't see the bigger picture.
CJ Cornell, executive director of New York Institute of Technology's global Vanguard Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program recently spotlighted the problems of having to identify who exactly is a journalist in an age when "Just about anyone with a laptop or cell phone can use free technology to create quality media and reach audiences larger than any newspaper or television network." In his analysis, Cornell explains the recent case of Oregon Blogger Crystal Cox, whose blog was sued for defamation, to the tune of $10 million, for writing several blog posts that were highly critical of an investment firm.
Cornell persuasively uses the Cox verdict to argue against the drawbacks of citizen journalism. "The Crystal Cox case reminds us that journalists need special protections, as a part of their work, to ensure their sources remain confidential. Occupy Wall Street represents countless examples where journalists are granted special access.” (Cornell)
Moreover, those in favor of letting the newspapers perish due to the proliferation of blogs and a plethora of non-profits and news sites fail to consider that for every good blog like a Montanawatchdog.org, or California Watch, there is a sleazy counterpart like the Walnut Tattler. Getting back to the Cox verdict, Cox did not qualify for state shield law protection because she wasn't employed by an official media establishment.
So what is the solution for newspapers to stem the tide and how do we pay for them in light of the financial losses they have already suffered? Luca Shaw's assertion in a wrap.com article that newspaper pay walls like the ones recently adopted by the N.Y. Times and the L.A. Times are too late, may be a bit premature, given some encouraging stories in recent months. The New York Times, for example has had some success with their "Times Select" pay program and so has the Financial Times, which launched a pay wall back in 2010 and has reached 267,000 digital subscribers. (Shaw)
Those who work hard in the industry should be remunerated for their efforts. Traditional print outlets should cooperate with new media and embrace technology, rather than be encumbered or be afraid of it. Reporters should help each other out, after all, the fifth estate and the more mainstream media share the same mission. Perhaps a feasible compromise would be to have smaller newspapers under the aegis or sponsorship of more successful and bigger media conglomerates, similar to popular blogs who feature blogrolls that are alike in tone and topic.
In sum, the argument that newspapers should be discarded does not take into consideration the myriad problems associated with alternative methods of delivering news content. Newspapers are needed because they are still the best way to safeguard our freedoms, the fourth estate still functions as an excellent training ground for the nation's budding reporters and editors. The talent and mentoring combined with the newsroom experience, despite recent cuts, is still immense and valuable, compared to other media; some might even say indispensable.
Just because some have turned away from consumption, does not invalidate their value. People can ignore the benefits of healthy foods, but that will never diminish their importance. Similarly, the analytical and investigative potential of the nation's print newspapers cannot be ignored. Newspapers can never die; their structure may be malleable and they may morph into other forms in the future, but their purpose and their mission can never be underestimated or questioned in a democratic society.
Cornell, CJ. "Media Shift." Idea Lab: Community News for the Digital Age. pbs.org,
31/1/2012. Web. 21 Mar 2012. <http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2012/01/after-crystal-cox-verdict-its-time-to-define-who-is-a-journalist026.html>.
Elizabeth, Erin. "The Case against Citizen Journalists." Independent Media Erin. blogger,
4 Dec 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <http://mediaerin.blogspot.com/2011/12/case-against-citizen-journalists.html>.
Shaw, Lucas. "Newspaper Paywalls: Too Little, Too Late for a Fallen Giant Industry?." Wrap. 24 Feb 2012: n. page. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.
"Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites." eBiz The eBusiness Knowledgebase
(2012): n.pag. eBiz. Database. 21 Mar 2012. <http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites>.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Citrus College has joined 61 community colleges throughout California that offer associate degrees for transfer to the California State University (CSU) system. System-wide, 133 associate degrees for transfer have been developed and approved since last summer, and are now available to students throughout the state.
The associate degrees are the byproduct of the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act (SB 1440) of 2010. SB 1440 guarantees admission to the CSU system with junior standing to any California community college student who completes an associate degree for transfer. If admitted to a similar major at the CSU, students will then have to complete 60 units to earn a bachelor’s degree.
According to information made public by the Office of State Senator Alex Padilla, who authored the bill, clarifying and streamlining the transfer process would result in students graduating more quickly, allowing community colleges and the CSU to serve more students.
Dr. Geraldine M. Perri, superintendent/president of Citrus College believes that SB 1440 will be instrumental in removing a key barrier students face in transferring to a CSU institution.
“California’s economy is directly dependent on an educated workforce with the skills set and training required to succeed in job sectors requiring advanced degrees,” she said. “The associate degrees for transfer empower our students with the knowledge they need to navigate what has traditionally been a rigorous path into the CSU. This pathway to baccalaureate degrees will be instrumental in producing the professional workforce California needs as more numbers of the baby boom generation retire.”
Citrus College has established Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T) degrees in seven areas: sociology, psychology, communication studies, English, administration of justice, mathematics, and early childhood education.
To earn an Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) or an Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T), students must complete 60 transferable units in an AA-T or AS-T major, with a minimum GPA of 2.0., complete specified courses required for transfer and a minimum of 18 units in their chosen major.
Justina Rivadeneyra, career/transfer center coordinator at Citrus College, said it is important to note that while students are not guaranteed admission to a specific campus, major or program, transfer degrees give students priority consideration over other transfer students in their local area.
Another advantage is that students obtain a GPA bonus for impacted majors.
“Any GPA bonus is a plus. Although a .10 or .20 GPA bump may not seem significant, it may help a borderline student gain admission.” said Rivadeneyra.
“The AA-S and AA-T degrees are most beneficial if students select majors that have been deemed ‘similar’ at the CSU campuses, she said, “Therefore, if students want to save time and money by streamlining the preparation for their majors, it is wise to pick from the ‘similar’ majors and non-similar majors that are not impacted at the CSU.”
According to Rivadeneyra, once students learn that their CSU of choice or their major is impacted, maintaining a good academic record is imperative.
“When the CSU campus or major is impacted, a competitive GPA is very important for admissions. When the major is impacted, specific major preparation, or supplemental criteria, is often required. If a student completes an AA-S or an AS-T, they do not need to complete additional supplemental criteria for the major. This is precisely how an associate degree for transfer can benefit students; they reduce time to complete a degree because the major preparation is the same for all the CSU campuses that deem the major similar” she said.
Mrs. Joanne Montgomery, president of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, said she was also happy to see the associate degrees for transfer removing the barriers students often encounter when transferring into the CSU system.
“Preparing our students to transfer to a four-year university has been a core function of the community college system, and that remains true today,” she said. “I am extremely glad that the pathway to transfer, which previously had been difficult for students to navigate, has been streamlined.”
For more information about the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, or general transfer question, call the Career/Transfer Center at (626) 914-8639 or email them at email@example.com or visit www.sb1440.org.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Still working at the Advancement (Public Relations) office at Citrus College.
I figured since I still get to write a feature or two, I will start posting my profiles and articles here.
Here's my latest on Sarah Gleason, Miss Covina 2012: (photo courtesy of Miss Covina Pageant)
Citrus Student Ambassador Takes Beauty Pageant Crown
By Ariel Carmona Jr.
It’s hard to think Sarah Gleason could be transfixed, frozen in place, unable to move. Yet, that’s what happened to the 23-year-old Citrus College hospitality management major while on stage at the Covina United Methodist Church when she heard her name announced as Miss Covina 2012.“I was more emotional than any other girl would be,” said Gleason recalling the moment. “For the first 10 seconds, as they were saying my name, I couldn’t move to the center of the stage to be crowned because I was crying so hard. But, that moment will forever be replaying in my mind, because of all the hard work I put in. It was what I was waiting for.”
The youngest of five children, all of whom attended Citrus College, this was Gleason’s 5th year running for the title, and each year she competed she found a different motivation for doing so. “I wanted to show other girls competing for local titles, and other people in general, that if you have your mind set on a goal, and if you have the passion and dedication to put in the hard work, it can come true.”
A constant state of motion and activity are the qualities most would associate with the young student. In addition to completing her final general education courses at Citrus College, Gleason is a member of the Student Ambassadors, a select group of students who lead college tours and help out with other activities.
Even though Gleason admits she first joined the program for personal reasons, such as getting over her fear of public speaking and maintaining a high GPA, as her year-long commitment to the program started, her reasons shifted.
“My passion to promote community colleges and the love I have for Citrus College grew tremendously,” explains Gleason, “I discovered programs such as the Writing Café, Tutoring Center, and the true benefits that the Learning Resource Center has to offer students.”
Ivon McCraven, coordinator of school relations, said Gleason has demonstrated an incredible initiative and a strong dedication to the college and the community. “Sarah is organized and motivated to serve others. She is always on time and always greets people with a smile.”
Gleason said that as she finishes her final semester at Citrus College, her goal is to continue to share not only the benefits of community colleges and higher education, but what the college has to offer to make other students’ educational journeys more successful.
For a lot of students, balancing the demands of being a full-time student, working at In-n-Out Burger, and taking on the added responsibilities of Miss Covina could prove too taxing, but Gleason said she still manages to squeeze in some fun whenever she can.
“I am a very active girl. In my free time I like to be outside, whether it is snowboarding, hiking, or rock climbing. I try to embrace nature as much as I can,” she said.
An accomplished performer, Gleason chose Performing Arts initially as a program of study, but she said as time went on, she began to feel incomplete.
“I have always loved food and would make custom cakes for friends and create new recipes for my family. I realized my true calling was with food, and I could still make others happy, by giving them great customer service instead of performing for them.”
The Miss Covina Scholarship Pageant is an organization independent of the City of Covina, but a preliminary to the Miss California Pageant in the Miss America system. As such, Gleason will represent her city in the Miss California Pageant this June, as well as at local functions throughout the year.
Gleason has already begun her nine-week training period for Miss California, while concurrently attending events such as opening day ceremonies for local youth baseball and softball leagues and the recently held “State of the City” luncheon.
According to Mrs. Joanne Montgomery, president of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, Gleason’s assertion that participation in the Student Ambassador program is a life changing experience is 100 percent correct. “The program helps the participants develop an appreciation for community colleges and education in general,” said Montgomery, “Sarah is right when she says the ambassador program will change a student’s journey through higher education.”
“I have no doubt that Sarah will be able to juggle it all,” said Dr. Geraldine Perri, superintendent/president of Citrus College. “She has shown tremendous dedication to her academics and to the Student Ambassador program. The Citrus College community is proud of Sarah’s accomplishments.”
Gleason will finish Citrus College with two associate degrees and multiple certificates and will be transferring to University of Nevada Las Vegas next spring, in hopes of achieving her ultimate goal of owning a gourmet food truck. “Being employed by In-n-Out Burger, becoming a student ambassador, and now Miss Covina, many people told me that I couldn’t do any of that,” she commented. “Not only did I prove them all wrong; I became successful and stronger while doing it all.”
Sunday, March 11, 2012
We all get a little discouraged by the news coming out of Sacramento in regards to higher education funding. Perhaps I should amend that to say, we get very discouraged.
The news hasn’t exactly been rosy for the past couple of years, and as we anticipate the release of the Governor’s state budget- last week’s announcement by the Legislature that the 112-college system would take another $149 million of unexpected cuts this year, was met with disapproval and protest.
The cuts were necessitated because of an unexpected higher demand this school year for student fee waivers, specifically the Board of Governor’s Grant, plus lower-than-projected property tax revenues, according to a system news release.
“This $149 million reduction is unexpected and even larger than the mid-year trigger cut that the community college system has already endured,” California Community College Chancellor Scott said in a prepared statement.
Protests at all the regional schools, including Mt. San Antonio College, Cal Poly Pomona, and a well publicized protest at the start of the new semester at Pasadena City College, where the college president had to address a throng of angry students, have sadly become the norm at the start of every new school semester.
While working at Citrus College in Glendora this week, a familiar sight for me has been students hanging outside of bungalows and classrooms, hoping to add to already full-to-the-brim class sections, while a professor addresses the crowds, like a ring leader mitigating the chaos.
Meanwhile, the Little Hoover’s Commission Report, an independent state oversight agency tasked with updating the community colleges to meet evolving demands, has made some eye opening recommendations to fix the ailing system’s wounds, or to at least try and stop some of the bleeding.
According to the commission’s executive summary, it recommends that community colleges refine their mission scope to prioritize preparation for transfer to four-year universities, career technical education and adult basic education, establish a credit unit cap, tie a portion of funding to student outcomes, and shift responsibility and funding for all adult basic skills education programs to the community colleges, among many others.
Yet the part of the commission’s report that stood out to me most, as a former student and a byproduct of the community college system, is the one that recommends the establishment of additional criteria for Board of Governors fee waivers.
According to a recent article in the New University, the student newspaper at UC Irvine, California gives billions of dollars to support higher education every year. During the 2009-2010 school year UC students received billions in financial aid from the federal and state governments as well as private sources. This totaled $2.1 billion dollars for undergraduate and $1.5 billion to graduate students.
These financial aid incentives may be a thing of the past and what’s troubling about the possible recommended restructuring of the BOG waivers, coupled with Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal that calls for cutting funding to the Cal Grant system (totaling $131.2 million, according to the California Department of Finance), is that a college student’s imperative to explore career options, majors, or even to enrich their skills seems like it may also fall by the wayside.
This comes in the wake of “graduation initiatives” pushed by CSU administrators which have turned the state schools into more like factory lines, churning out graduates by the hundreds, rather than offering a plethora of programs and options like they once did.
Think of it in these terms: A student who enrolls in a community college, even after already having graduated or having obtained a bachelor’s from a four year institution will be required to pay out of pocket for classes to enhance their skills set, such as courses in specialized software programs. Does this not seem a little contrary to the state’s goal to meet their future needs with a competent, well prepared work force? Considering the price of education has risen 498.3 percent from 1985 to 2011, and continues to rise, is this even a realistic expectation?
These are the questions facing the future of the Golden State’s higher education systems, as Gov. Jerry Brown pushes to place a temporary increase in income taxes on high earners with a half-cent rise in the sales tax on the November ballot. I shudder to think how much worse it will be if Brown’s tax initiatives go down in defeat.
Friday, March 02, 2012
So I came across this interesting article about patch.com today and plastered it all over my facebook wall.
Funny how something like this can seem very real and relevant when you have people that are friends affected by it. This piece does a very good job in my opinion of discussing the future of hyper local news in America, specifically given the fact AOL has banked its hopes on this venture being very profitable.
I don't know whether to believe Patch.com's president who said that the site is making progress because of its traffic, or the writer of this article who presents a very different perspective, all I know is that patch does seem to be stretched thin across the U.S. landscape, with nearly 1,000 websites, but still, some people have never even heard of the site.
When I mentioned it to a friend today, I still got the puzzled response, "never heard of it" which would seem indicative that the brand has not penetrated the local consciousness of its readers, even nearly 4 years after its inception. So what are the ad people doing? If you believe printed reports and leaked material, including web traffic reports, a. advertising staff turnover is very frequent, thus leading to instability on the online advertising, which is the very lifeblood of the venture, and b.the network is scrambling to find money streams beyond online advertising.
It would appear that AOL is not getting a return on its investment, if we are to believe the figure cited by the author. You do the math, if they have dumped $160 million, but have only seen a $20 million total profit, it doesn't take a genius to figure out something isn't right.
The article goes on to discuss traffic. Web traffic is hard to gauge, but if we are to believe that social media is as big as they say it is, (Everybody and their mother seems to be on Facebook after all) then we can use it as an indicator of sorts.
Consider the local patches. They all have "Facebook" like indicators.
Glendora patch has existed a little over a year now and has collected these many facebook likes: (click on image below to read)
Walnut has existed almost a long, perhaps only a few months apart and they have this many:
Finally, Baldwin park, which has only been around for a few months, less than a year for sure:
I am not sure if these are a fair basis for comparison, with say something like Hollywood patch (which presumably would have a big draw with 583 likes, versus say Bethlehem Pennsylvania, which is back east and boasts of only 100 fewer than Hollywood California.)
I know some blogs that far exceed these social media numbers. If we go by social media alone, or facebook specifically, then patch.com may be in real trouble! Or it may just be reaching its potential at some future date and hasn't yet peaked, but a $140 million deficit does not sound very promising. Stay tuned as they say!
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Two long-feuding kingdoms - Chubolia, a place where everyone is fat, and Thinsylvania, a country where everyone is thin - find themselves in the throes of battle when the prime minister of Thinsylvania, looking for someone to marry his prince, kidnaps the Chubolian princess. Hamilton Fatz, the charmingly romantic Chubolian captain of the guard, and Big Jim McBiggins, a roguish mountain man, set off to rescue her, and must overcome physical and psychological obstacles along the way.
It sounds ridiculous I know, but that is the description found in the web page for Phil Drake's book "Fat Chance."
A tongue in cheek story aimed at the tween audience, from master funny man Drake. Who is Phil Drake you may ask? If you live in the SGV and have done so for more than 15 years, you may recall Drake's funny columns appearing in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. He has long since left the paper and now lives in Montana, where he is the managing editor of the Montana Watchdog, a branch of the n independent newsgathering organization that shares its research and findings with the public and other media organizations. It is a branch of the Montana Policy Institute, a nonpartisan policy research center and an associate member of the Montana Newspaper Association.
Drake is an individual who has impacted a lot of people's lives, mostly in a positive manner either through imparting some humor into their lives with his columns, or by writing stories around the communities he served, writing features and stories about the SGV. I first met Mr. Drake around 7 years ago when I was taking journalism classes at Mt. SAC.
At the time, I knew I wanted to pursue journalism as a career choice, but I did know that much about the Tribune or its editors. Phil Drake changed all that. He came to speak to a class and spoke about his job. I distinctly remember sitting in the newsroom and fielding a call from him saying he was on his way to speak to one of the classes, but he was lost, he could not find the classroom. I don't blame him, at the time Mt. SAC had just reinstated its journalism program and was operating the student newspaper The Mountaineer, out of a bungalow adjacent to the tennis courts, making it almost impossible to find, unless you knew the campus.
Drake spoke about his job that day, about the people he interviewed while working as a beat reporter for the Tribune. I remember he was sweating profusely, (possibly due to his walking around campus on a hot summer day in a suit and maybe being a bit nervous speaking to a group of strangers) but he relaxed and gave the students glimpses of life as a journalist.
I have never forgotten Phil Drake, I read his columns every week after that and was saddened to read one day he was moving back to Montana and leaving California behind.
Apparently, he was well thought of by his peers, when the Tribune started a "Here and Now" page of Tribune staffers on Facebook, Drakes countenance was used as the profile pic.
He has returned to the San Gabriel valley since then, mostly to promote his literary projects, and I for one hope he gets to write another book. I have not read "Fat Chance" yet, but it's on my to do list. Knowing the affable disposition of Mr. Drake, and his propensity to entertain with his writing, it should be a fun lighthearted romp.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
This is really not a review blog, but a blog about digital journalism and journalism and writing in general, but once in a while I have to do some movie reviews, especially those related to the profession that are extremely well done. Right now, I am in a bit of a journalism movie kick, ever since I started my Netflix trial account, and my queue is full of flicks related to this specific genre.
Last night I took a break from my GRE studies and watched "The Paper" starring Michael Keaton Glen Close and Marisa Tomei. In fact, this Ron Howard vehicle about a New York news reporter working at a small newspaper, in addition to being a great drama, also features a veritable who's who in 1990s TV and film actors.
There's Randy Quaid as the slightly eccentric and paranoid columnist, there's Robert Duvall as the ailing, aging alienated Editor in Chief, and there's even a whimsical performance by Jason Alexander of George Costanza Seinfeld fame.
There's also a cameo by that weird guy from the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer goes to L.A. and gets framed for a murder he didn't commit. Apparently this character actor was in demand at the time, as the killer in the TV show and as a bungling, wordsmith in this movie.
Yet the best thing about the movie is its frenzied, franatic pace. Even though it's somewhat dated now with ancient computers and references to beepers, director Ron Howard does a nice job of illustrating what it's like to live in the crazy world of deadline driven journalism, in a major metropolitan city like New York before the turn of the century.
Keaton really shines as the protagonist who has to choose between the profession he loves and the lifestyle he lives and between his pregnant, insecure wife (Tomei.)
If you ever worked in journalism you will appreciate some of the slice of life bits in this movie, like the rookie photographer who is sent out on a major assignment in search of the perfect page 1 shot, or the hustle and bustle of a hectic newsroom. However, you don't have to be in the industry to appreciate it.
If you're looking for a good Netflix recommendation to kick back with, you could do a whole lot worse than this 1994 drama. The funny thing is my teacher recommended this movie to me years ago and I didn't get to see it until now. Do you know of any other good journalism flicks I should watch? Go ahead and let me know!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
I would have to say that I am immensely enjoying the long President's day weekend. Thank you George and Abe for the much needed break in the work cycle.
While I don't consider my job to be too taxing, at least not until the semester gets rolling, it nevertheless has been good to get the much needed break and rest.
Friday night I attended a potluck mardi gras party thrown by one of the members in my writing group, and though I had visions of it just being an enjoyable night out meeting new people and making friends, while having some good food and drink, it turned out to be much more.
It turns out than when you get an intelligent group of adults together, their hobbies tend to be a little on the esoteric side, so while having a conversation with a member, the subject of gaming came up and this led to us discussing some D&D. As nerdy or geeky as it may sound to some, outside of full fledged LARPS (which I really have no interest in), I do enjoy both talking about and the occasional role playing.
This correlates with writing in the sense that RPGs and even table top games like D&D are rife with possibilities for inventive storytelling, which I believe also stimulate the imagination and the narrator in all of us writers. Some more than others, especially if they are accustomed to writing gaming campaigns and narratives for other players to enjoy, which is the prototypical job description for any GM.
So as a result of me venturing out and for the price of a velvet cake with cheese frosting and some beverages, which were my store bought contributions to the potluck (what can I say, cooking isn't one of my God given talents) I discovered our group is not only blessed with a number of great writers, but some of them share my passion for gaming.
In younger days, I was involved with Dungeons and Dragons, and I think this led to my interest in computer games, fantasy genres usually trumping most others (though I have enjoyed the occasional FPS like Doom and Quake) and in turn to my most recent love of mmorpgs.
Ironically one of the mmorpgs I enjoy playing most is DDO, which in turn led me back to D&D, funny how I have come full circle.
Some people love the community and virtual interactions in a mmorpg, while others prefer the personal touch of actually being in the room while playing a game like D&D. Whatever the case, both have a tremendous potential to both inspire and nurture the imagination, the latter probably more so than the former.
So just like Tobold, who recently shifted the focus of his blog from mmorpg discussions exclusively to his forays into DMing 4th edition D&D campaigns, my interest in such endeavors has been rekindled and it looks like now I will be part of not just one, (the Pasadena D&D group) but two pen and paper gaming groups in the still fairly new year.
OK, now back to enjoying my Sunday afternoon with some serious dungeon crawls in either EQ2, or world of warcraft, or both, before I return to the grind on Tuesday and have to think about deadlines, requisitions or anything else.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Sometimes we have to look back before we know where we are going. Other times, we are in neutral patterns, either because circumstances prevent us from forging ahead, or because we have internalized a problem or a situation to the point that we make it difficult on ourselves to move forwards.
Then there are times when we know where we need to go, and we have to make a detour, like when you are on a long road trip and you have to stop at one of those isolated rest stops.
I am not sure if my analogies make much sense, but right now I have been where I surmise a lot of reporters might be or where a lot seem to end up: I am doing what's essentially public relations work, but I am still basically a reporter by trade.
For me it's sort of means to an end, in this transforming journalistic landscape, I had to make a choice when an opportunity presented itself. Whereas at this same time last Spring I was putting my heart, body and soul into my freelancing work, this season I am working at the office of external relations for one of our areas major community colleges. I have a lot to learn!
When I was in college, I was a member of my school's PRSSA, Public Relations Society Student Association. My thought was that joining said organization, though I had no desire to go into a career in P.R., would be beneficial towards better understanding the symbiotic, and often adversarial relationship between PR practitioners and journalists. They co-exist in a media rich world and both work hand in hand in many occasions.
This week I started a job where the skills set I already possess as a reporter come in handy on a daily basis. Moreover, it will prove to be a valuable networking experience since I will come into contact with media professionals on a routine basis.
As I sat at my desk yesterday, set up my new e-mail address, and familiarized myself more with the inner workings of the job, I also wondered, how many of us relocated, displaced journalists or those who have crossed over into the Public Relations arena are out there?
My current supervisor is a former journalist herself.
So this is but a detour, a pit stop if you will. I will be back filing stories and worrying about deadlines soon enough.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
DC Comis recently announced that they would be revisiting the world and characters created by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore in their seminal comic book masterpiece "Watchmen" with an all new prequel starting this summer.
Watchmen, in case you don't know, is one of the most important works in the history of comic books, perhaps the most important. It deconstructs the superhero genre so well, and it is an absolute joy to read from first panel to last.
The new series has polarized the comic book reading public.
More than 1,500 people voted in Digital Spy's exclusive poll, and a whopping 72.7% agreed that the original 12-parter is perfectly self-contained, worrying that the new seven interconnected series will ruin that.
Just 27.3% of the site's readers backed the new books, admitting that they would love to read anything new from the world of Watchmen.
Granted, while this is not a burning journalistic issue, this blog is also about the craft of writing and influences on my writing specifically, and influences on others, and it can be argued that while comic books were viewed by society with some derision during their long history, in recent years they have been mined by Hollywood as fodder for entertainment, some of the best superhero movies have comic books as their foundations, and comics themselves come from a literary genre dating back to the 1930s and 40s, mainly the pulps.
Back to the issue at hand, I tend to agree with those who think it will be a good idea for DC to crate new material based on Watchmen. While I did at first worry that a perfect series such as this should not be tampered, (If you haven't read it, shame on you, go out right now and pick up a copy, it's OK this post will be here when you get back, and no watching the movie does not count!) I am now convinced that we should allow contemporary artists try their hand at crafting some backstory for these wonderful characters, I know if I was a writer assigned to this project, I would be salivating at a shot of playing in this wonderful sandlot.
As an aside, I gave up buying new comics last July. I was a fervent collector, but Marvel has just inflated their prices on new comics so much, that it makes it financially prohibitive for me to dump money on new issues on a regular basis. I still occasionally purchase a series I find interesting, and I think that this might be the series which brings me back to my first literary love.
I mean some of the top talent in comics will be working on this project, the line up reads like a who's who in the industry:
BEFORE WATCHMEN includes:
- RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
- MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
- COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
- DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
- NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
- OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
- SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
Come Summer time, I for one, will be buying and reading these books and basking in the creative after glow of some of the most talented folks who still produce superhero fare. Success or failure, DC should be lauded for trying to take the genre in new creative paths, not condemned for trying to "mess" with a classic.
Monday, February 06, 2012
As someone who got his training in the field from a community college and beyond (I got an A.A. from Mt. SAC, but prior to that I did work and took classes at several area schools including East L.A. College where I took some public relations courses and Citrus College in Glendora where I contributed and photographed for the student newspaper The Clarion)
I am a journalist by trade, so whenever I hear about a newspaper going out of print, this always makes me a bit sad. Not just because newspapers are essential for disseminating information, but also because I would be nervous about attending an institution where there is no watchdog to keep an eye on the machinations and moves of entities such as the student government or the administration.
From the article, it does not sound as though the Lance was discontinued for nefarious reasons, it may have been simply a casualty of low enrollment, but this is disturbing in itself, considering community college enrollments have increased as a result of the recession. When there are fewer jobs out there, people tend to go back to school to improve themselves, so if enrollment is increasing, why is the converse true for journalism at Shasta College?
It seems this college is reducing their journalism courses, rather than maintaining their program. If it is simply a matter of supply and demand, i.e. fewer students are choosing journalism as a career path, it would be one thing, but it sounds as though there are students that are willing to take classes to pursue a certificate program in journalism (the college doesn't offer an A.A. in journalism) and it seems that these students now will have to wait until fall to take the classes, unless enrollment dooms the program another semester.
Some institutions are trying their best to roll with the punches of a changing working world and incorporating said changes into their curriculum, teaching their students new era techniques such as social media, video editing and other skills set now necessary in journalistic and media related careers.
I think that Shasta College is doing its college a great disservice by phasing out the newspaper production class, and administration should do everything in their power to bring the newspaper back because without the proper training ground for students to practice their craft, they have little options for preparing for future careers. Also, the school needs a newspaper to watch over the entities which run the school, otherwise there is no accountability for their actions, or no entity in place to hold them accountable, which is a very dangerous and undemocratic way to run a school.
Friday, January 06, 2012
Even more astonishing is I am done with my freelance assignments for the week, so I got a glorious weekend all to myself! Delightful!
My resolutions for the new year include doing a lot of the things I enjoy doing but I haven't made time for like playing chess, reading and writing and completing my novels.
I wrote close to 125 articles in calendar year 2011, so it was a busy time for me, though I don't know if that is a typical output for a weekly reporter, I suspect most write even more.
I have three web projects that I have programmed for this year and I will be updating this blog occasionally with the progress for each one, as much as life and time permits.
The digital divide between mainstream media and digital media continues to expand and the development of what is known as the "fifth estate" is still an ongoing process.
It's concurrently exciting and scary to be at the forefront.
Stay tuned as they say.