First Amendment through our youth’s eyes

Eric Garner, Baltimore, Ferguson… What do all these cases have in common?

I will tell you what, all these cases put into questioning our public’s knowledge of our first amendment rights and freedom.

The First Amendment of the United States was established in 1791 by the founding fathers to give the people of this nation tools to protect themselves. However, it has been over two centuries since we adopted it, and with the recent controversies, we tend to question our rights and freedoms.

I embarked on an experiment to find out what are the thoughts of Stony Brook University students on the First Amendment of the United States today? in this way I was looking to find a possibly root to our increasing social problems.

During an experiment, I interviewed a diverse group of students around campus to find out what they know or not about the most important amendment on  the Bill of Rights, and whether they care about this or not.

The results of my research clearly reflect why our nation stands where it does today.

Special thanks to Stony Brook students participating in the experiment:

Alan Hong

Yunjiao Dong

Douth Pijush

Boreum Lee

Elizabeth Eunsong

Sound Credits:

Opening/ending song: Jimi Hendrix – The Star Spangled Banner

First Amendment: Keith Hughes – First Amendment for Dummies – The Basics of the 1st Amendment Explained

Twitter follower count is your job security

This past weekend, April 17 and 18, was the Society of Professional Journalists Region One Conference held at the Hofstra University Student Center in Hempstead.


The panels that I found most intriguing and beneficial were “How to Brand Yourself” and “Emerging Trends in Photography.” The photography panel allowed guests to witness drone photography in action right there in the Student Center Theater.

While this was amazing to see in person and learn about (helicopter rides for aerial shots go for about $200-750+ an hour), I found the panel on branding oneself a little more valuable.

Bill Corbett, of Corbett Public Relations, Hilary Topper, of HJMT Public Relations, Rob Basso, of Advantage Payroll Services, and Giovanna Drpic, of FiOS1 News were the panelists. It was held in a small room, which kept things intimate.

The panelists explained various ways to market oneself based off of personal talents and interests. One student journalist in the audience asked how to narrow down her focus as a person interested in many topics, to which they responded that it is necessary to pick a single focus and hone.

Corbett, who refers to a cell phones as a “personal marketing device,” displayed his acronym BRAND in a digital presentation that he created. It stands for “believe in yourself and others will follow,” “reputation is your most valuable asset,” “authenticity builds trust,” “name recognition comes from personal marketing” and “determination is required for continued success.”

Corbett then followed this by saying that one’s follower count on Twitter is “job security.”


Drpic then explained that she was once asked in an interview, very bluntly, how many Twitter followers she had.

If that number isn’t high, and you haven’t marketed yourself and gained popularity yourself, a potential employer might reject you. Basso backed this up by agreeing that journalists these days have to build a following themselves that they can bring to the company, rather than rely on the company for an audience.

Gaming by the Numbers

eSports–or competitive video gaming–has been on the rise as a legitimate sports event for many years now. But exactly how large has this rise been, both socially and economically? To find out, one simply needs to look at the numbers. does well to display eSports’ increasing popularity through various statistics. Of course, it’s easy to say that games are more popular just by looking around at how many people are desperate to beat their high scores on “Candy Crush” or “Fruit Ninja” on the train, but writer John Gaudiosi uses data journalist tactics to delve into the expansive eSports environment and calculate its growth.

Gaudiosi uses results from Newzoo and Repucom, sources dedicated to the games industry and sports, to support the growth of gaming. According to his research, eSports has a global audience of at least 335 million fans, with 145 million fans being active participants themselves. With this audience, the eSports scene is projected to generate over $451 million in revenue in 2017. These numbers make the popularity of eSports comparable to the popularity of regular sports.

This story wouldn’t have nearly as much depth without this kind of data. A simple and otherwise bland story is reinvigorated and contextualized by statistical information, literally measuring the subject matter and calculating exactly how much impact it can, has, and will make in the future.

The New York Times’ “Snow Fall” is still stellar.

Though I read it when it was initially published, I chose to revisit Snow Fall, as it was one of the first instances of interactive data journalism that I’d seen and recognized as something distinct from just a numbers-driven story. This distinction comes primarily from its unique layout and interactivity, as well as the fact that while data-driven, it did not rely wholly on numbers and statistics, but also on facts and details about the geographic area the story takes place in..Reported by The New York Times’ John Branch, the Pulitzer-winning article recounts the struggles of 16 men and women after they fell victim to an avalanche while on a skiing and snowboarding trip at Tunnel Creek in Washington State. The event left some injured and three dead.

Another aspect of the story which really rang out to me the first time I read it and again this time, was how Branch manages to intersperse concrete numbers and statistics into the story while still providing a — narrative. One might think that any emphasis on numbers in a piece of narrative storytelling like this might detract from the strength of the narrative, but in this case it does just the opposite by doubling the impact by incorporating the numbers in sentences like: “Within seconds, the avalanche was the size of more than a thousand cas barreling down the mountain and weighed millions of pounds. Moving 70 miles per hour, it crashed through the sturdy old-growth trees, snapping their limbs and shedding bark from their trunks.”

Screen capture of one of Snow Fall's visual components
Screen capture of one of Snow Fall’s visual components

Neither do the animated infographics and backgrounds detract from the piece. They once again do the opposite by giving readers a very firm image of the ambience and tone intended by the narrative. They also provide valuable visualizations of what it’s like to be on the mountainside, and where the group’s travels up and down the mountain took them.

I was blown away by how tightly constructed and well-planned this piece was the first time I read it in 2012, and it still has the same chilling impact nearly three years later. It’s not any surprise whatsoever that it won the 2013 Pulitzer for feature writing.

Data journalism portrays how education affects wages

Data journalism is an eye-opening tool to illustrate how people with less education are paid low wages in today’s economy.

The New York Times story, Why American Workers Without Much Education Are Being Hammered, uses data to drive this point home. From 1990 to 2013, there has been shift of male workers from once high paying manufacturing jobs to positions in food service, cleaning and groundskeeping. Thus, less-educated males are receiving wages that are far lower than those from decades ago.

The graph below, assembled by The New York Times, illustrates the low wages men without a college degree are earning in this economy.

Photo credit The New York Times. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 22, 2015).

Also, the Times points out how the median wages of 30 to 45-year-old men who didn’t graduate from high school fell by a massive 20 percent from 1990 to 2013 after adjusting for inflation. The graph below from the Hamilton Project portrays this change.

Photo credit the Hamilton Project. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 22, 2015).

Therefore, statistics add credibility to how less education correlates to lower-paying jobs in today’s economy. Therefore, data journalism can strongly support a story.

Data Journalism Changing the News

What is data journalism?

According to analytics for fun, data journalism is journalism done with data. Pretty simple right?

To help explain this more, Simon Rogers, the date editor at Twitter, broke dow the key aspects with data journalism. To define it, he suggests that data journalism is about three things: telling stories with numbers, finding the best way to tell the story, and the techniques with which you tell the story.

Examples are the best way to have data journalism explained, and one of the best examples out there is the full text visualization of the Iraq war logs.

AP, the media site that started the visual, said they wanted to go a step further, by designing a visualization based on the the richest part of each report: the free text summary. The problem was that AP then had to somehow visualize thousands of written documents of data points.

PC: Screen shot
PC: Screen shot  

Above is a picture of the 11,616 SIGACT (“significant action”) reports from December 2006. Each dot is report is a dot.

Screenshot 2015-04-21 23.41.08 Screenshot 2015-04-21 23.42.05

AP quoted making putting the data together in order to help their audience understand the information better than if it was just numbers on a page.

“Visualization is metaphor. Certain details are thrown away, other are emphasized. The algorithms used to produce the visualization have their own sensitivities and blind spots. Without understanding these, a viewer will make false inferences.”

Because data journalism is so hard to define and so broad in the definition it already has, data journalism doesn’t have to stop at charts like these. Data journalism could be a moving charts, re-adjusting pictures, anything that helps get the point of numbers across in a way that isn’t just with numbers.

SPJ Region Conference informs and entertains

This year, I was able to attend the first day of the Society of Professional Journalists Region 1 Conference. This opportunity allowed me to sit in on panels where industry experts shared their insight into what it takes to succeed in journalism from a variety of different angles.

Though my time at the convention was limited, I was able to sit in on panels like “Specialty Reporting,” which addressed those who prefer to specialize in what type of reporting they like to do and a lot of advice was thrown around, both from the professionals on the pulpit and from those who happened to be in the audience. This panel was very informative and inspiring. It gave me something of a good idea of how newsroom relationships between editors and reporters on a particular beat like science, technology or sports, is managed.

I also attended “Art Criticism in the Social Media Age,” which saw Newsday’s Rafer Guzman, amNewYork’s Scott Rosenberg and Sarah Montague, and veteran critic Peter Goodman talking about how the times have changed since their beginnings as culture reporters and critics. This panel, unfortunately was something of a waste. I discussed it with journalism students from other schools after leaving the talk, and we came to the consensus that those chosen to speak were unfortunately out of touch with the amount of effort that is now required to keep up a prominent social media presence. Though their personal anecdotes were actually pretty great, I didn’t take much away from this panel.

On the first day of the conference, we were given a tour of Hofstra’s radio station, WRHU, 88.7 FM, which is an impressive facility and makes it seem like radio might have a future.

Journalism of the future

The Texas Tribune has developed a website called “The Texas Tribune’s Government Salaries Explorer,” which they use in order to review how the United States public spends its money.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 6.05.17 PM

On this site, the paper publishes earnings of thousands of employees in the state of Texas. The tribune acquires this data – available for the public- through governmental agencies and organizes it in charts to make it visually appealing as well as to make the information easy to understand for the general public.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 6.09.34 PMThe layout of the website allows for the public to explore how things have changed in their areas. The information is clearly presented and easy to follow.

This shows that data journalism can make for better stories.

FiveThirtyEight: Doing data journalism the right way

As far as data journalism is concerned, there’s really one name that has shot up through the ranks in the past couple of years. That name, is FiveThirtyEight.

Whether it’s making their name with ESPN in sports, or politics, they’ve done a great job of creating compelling pieces of data journalism, like the one that I picked out for this week.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 5.42.22 PMEngland’s preliminary elections are coming up later this year, and FiveThirtyEight is being creative with their pieces of data journalism, by creating maps and discussing the demographics.

FiveThirtyEight is a great source for data journalism and a unique angle on different things, not just in sports. Everything in the world now is going to start revolving around numbers and data analysis, so people are going to want to go towards this website rather than other ones in the near future.

And they’ve got a head start.