Long Island Opt-Out teaser

By Kayla Shults and Abby Del Vecchio

Across the nation, parents have been refusing standardized tests that they feel do more damage than good for their children. Long Island has been highly involved with this movement, with thousands of students opting out of the math and reading tests this year.  This, is the Long Island Opt-Out.

Data journalism is making a difference

Data journalism is a specific type of journalism that combines aspects of reporting, computer sciences and statistics in order to release data and numerical information that otherwise may be to confusing for people to read and understand.

Graphs, charts and other types of graphics are often used to depict numbers and other statistics to make them easier to decipher.

The New York Times recently published a piece entitled, ‘1.5 Million Missing Black Men,’ which reported on the number of “missing” African American men because they are either dead or behind bars. The article stated that 1.5 million African American men are missing in the United States, with nearly 120,000 men between the ages of 25 and 54 missing from everyday life in New York alone.

Data showing the percent of African American men in U.S. cities and the number of those missing across the United States. (Graphic Courtesy of the NY Times)
Data showing the percent of African American men in U.S. cities and the number of those missing across the United States. (Graphic Courtesy of the NY Times)

Numbers alone might not make an impact, but a graphic created by the New York Times shows the places across the United States where African American males are missing. This can make people see that there may be an astounding number people behind bars or even dead, in cities that readers call home.Map of the United States showing where in the nation African American men are "missing." (Graphic Courtesy of the NY Times)

Map of the United States showing where in the nation African American men are “missing.” (Graphic Courtesy of the NY Times)

Data journalism makes these large topics and brings them down to a level so they can be understood by the general population.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then data journalism must be worth 5,000. This type of journalism is vital and should be used much more to shed light on topics that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Getting social on social media

Photo Credit Flickr/Matt Hamm

I have been an avid user of social media since middle school or early high school. I created my Facebook account to post pictures with friends, and my first Twitter account to stay updated on my favorite celebrities.

14-year-old Kayla was unaware that social media could be used to get a point across or be used as a news source, (as seen by the numerous selfies on my Facebook account).

When I created a Twitter account to use for journalistic purposes, I had only a few followers, mostly classmates that had created accounts for the same purposes. The first time I used this account was August of 2013 in my News Literacy course. We tweeted news stories that we found interesting and by the end of the semester we were tweeting about newsworthy events we saw on campus and in our communities.

Fast forward to April 2015, my twitter account has nearly 60 followers and I regularly tweet stories I see along with projects and stories I have completed myself.

My current Twitter account has nearly 60 followers, and the number of times I have tweeted has increased as well.
My current Twitter account has nearly 60 followers, and the number of times I have tweeted has increased as well.

Besides that, I have interacted with other users and in turn, gotten more views on stories and publicity that probably would not have happened if it weren’t for social media.

I also use Twitter to live tweet award shows; events on campus and the weekly radio show that I have a weekly segment on.

The WUSB News at Noon twitter also uses their account to publicize their show, giving their followers a link to my account.

I did find it was important, however not to over share on social media. I don’s want all of my tweets to be links to my stories, so I often try to break it up with live tweeting or sharing other people’s stories.

Some may see social media as being a negative to the news industry, but if it is used in the right way, it can bring exposure to both a reporter and their work.


Not all freedoms are created equal

Chris Day is a 26-year-old Setauket, NY native and West Point graduate who is currently stationed on a military base in Georgia.

Day, who is one of six children, says one of the reasons he joined the army was to protect the freedoms in which this country was founded on over two hundred years ago. This freedom to disagree with the government is not one to be taken for granted, as it may be hard to come by in other places around the world.

Women’s rights and the ability to pursue higher education, let alone get an education at all are rare in Afghanistan, where Day spent nine months protecting its people and rebuilding after the fall of the Taliban.

Unlike in America, economic mobility is nearly impossible in Afghanistan. The lives of many of the nation’s people are determined for them, no matter how hard they work throughout their lifetime.

Serial Podcast tackles audio Journalism

Audio reporting is not something new. The mediums through which it happens, however have changed .

Since the 1930’s, people have gathered around radios to listen to stories, newscasts and entertainment shows. As much as technology has improved in the last century, there is now popularity in getting news in an old-fashioned way.

Serial is a weekly podcast that explores the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and if her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who is currently serving a life sentence for her murder, is truly guilty of the crime.

Journalist Sarah Koenig hosts the show and through interviews, old audio clips and her own investigation seeks to discover how Lee was killed.

Koenig is thorough with her reporting and seems to tell listeners everything she has learned about the case. She includes interviews conducted by police during their investigation, notes that she received and stories she discovered by speaking to those who were involved.

Although I am only five episodes into the podcast, I would like to hear more from the cops and Hae Min Lee’s family to hear their side of the story as well how they came to the conclusion that Syed was guilty.

Koenig is a great story teller. She keeps listeners interested and has a chronological order to the way she tells the story, which is crucial with such a complicated case. I like how she includes her own personality and thoughts throughout the episodes. It adds a personal touch without taking away from the facts of the story.

Her script also keeps the story in order and prevents rambling, which may defer or confuse listeners.

Good audio is crucial to a podcast, and even the old interviews that Koenig uses are good quality. In phone and in-person interviews I can tell that the reporter gets close to her subject in order to prevent background noise and get their stories as well as she can.

Serial is a great concept that is informing people who may not read the New York Times or watch CNN everyday. It takes an old medium and introduces it to an entirely new generation of people.

The best in my own backyard: Why I chose the SBU School of Journalism

I have always loved seeing new places and meeting new people. Journalism is the only profession I can think of that includes both of those things and would allow me to earn a living by doing it.

My mom has always watched the news, and therefore I watched it from a young age. I remember every morning growing up seeing Matt Lauer and Ann Curry’s travels on the Today Show.

The light in my head that made me want to go into journalism however, went off while I was watching my favorite television show, Gilmore Girls.

Rory Gilmore, one of the show’s main characters was on her high school paper and went on to study journalism at Yale University. Rory, like myself wanted to see the world and tell stories. Her inspiration was Christiane Amanpour. At one point, she got to meet the journalist on the show and referred to her as being “in a foxhole,” so from when I learned what that was at age 10, I have wanted nothing more than to do that for myself, even if my parents aren’t too fond of the idea.

My dream is to be a foreign correspondent, and I realized that was a true possibility when I heard Christiane Amanpour speak at Stony Brook University in 2013 when I was a senior in high school, at the opening lecture for the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting.

Living in Port Jefferson my entire life made Stony Brook familiar and a possibility, but I thought I wanted to get away from Long Island. Visiting the School of Journalism and seeing what they had to offer made my decision rather easy.

The visit helped me learn that I didn’t have to go to an Ivy League school to learn the skills that I would need to be successful in the journalism field. I would be getting hands on experience from established journalists at a school that was in my own backyard.

And if we’re being honest, I would miss my dog way too much if I went away to school, even though she bites.

Stony Brook Foodies

College students often face a dilemma when it comes to eating. They want to have something tasty and new that will not break the bank.

The photo story, “Fun and cheap eats around Stony Brook” may be a solution to that issue. By traveling around Stony Brook University, Kryssy Massa and Nicole Falletta were able to discover discounts and deals available to students that they otherwise may not have known about.

The pair not only took photos of the food, but also made sure to photograph the eatery’s atmosphere. The atmosphere is a huge aspect of a restaurant and gives the reader an idea of where they are eating instead of just what they are eating.

Something good about this photo story is that the pair spoke to chefs and workers at each place they visited. This gave background and further information, which could be useful to the reader and students. Being able to place a face to a name, as Kryssy and Nicole did with Latitude 121 and The Curry Club could make someone more likely to visit a restaurant.

Speaking to customers was also a great idea because it gave the opinion of someone not affiliated with the restaurant.

The only thing that could have improved the post would be getting a variety of shots. The pictures of food were all taken straight on at a similar distance. Getting pictures extremely close up or from a different angle could have shown the food from a different perspective.

A difficulty that I faced while shooting pictures for my own photo story was making sure I captured different aspects of people’s outfits. I wanted to find something that made a person’s outfit unique or captured their personality, and I think this assignment gave me the opportunity to work on just that.

SBU Frigid Fashion

By Kayla Shults and Abby Del Vecchio

March has begun, but the cold weather doesn’t look like it is going away anytime soon.  With a campus as large as Stony Brook University, and these brutal temperatures and wind chills, students have to bundle up in order to keep warm — even if it means sacrificing their fashion sense.

In order to keep warm during these brutal temperatures, 20-year-old biology student, Emily Fidilio says, "Infinity scarves are a must in this weather.  Also, big cozy stuff, like oversized sweaters, to keep warm."
In order to keep warm during these brutal temperatures, 20-year-old biology student, Emily Fidilio says, “Infinity scarves are a must in this weather. Also, big cozy stuff, like oversized sweaters, to keep warm.”
“Look at my boots,” said Fidilio. “They’re so dirty from the snow!”
“I wear cardigans and sometimes argyle sweaters to keep me warm,” said 21-year-old business major Erik Hoerner.
“When temperatures dip below 30 and it’s so windy I would rather be warm than fashionable,” said Hoerner.
“This pea coat keeps me warm,” said Hoerner. “And it’s fashionable, I mean look at it!”
Holly Vickers works for the non-profit organization, Bottom Line, which aims to help disadvantaged students, “get into college, graduate from college and go far in life.”
The 26-year-old was at Stony Brook University to meet with some students involved with her program. About her winter fashion, she said, “I don’t own any pants so I wear dresses all year. If it’s really cold I’ll wear up to three pairs of fleece or regular tights. Summer and winter clothes are the same for me, just with or without the tights.”
Lauren Reinertsen is a 21-year-old member of the Stony Brook Rugby squad. Her fashion is something she’s proud of, even if some people don’t like it as much as she does. “This is an over sized coat because it’s a men’s jacket,” said Reinertsen. “Most people laugh at it so I’m glad someone appreciates it!”
The sociology major credits her fashion skills to America’s Next Top Model and its host, Tyra Banks. “Everything I know about modelling I learned from Tyra,” said Reinertsen.
“Sweaters, leggings, mittens and scarves are the most important things to wear,” said Yelizaveta Lysakoea, a 19-year-old psychology major. “I always have coffee because it’s so cold.”
24-year-old sociology major and biology minor Oscar Icochea says he doesn’t let the cold weather affect his fashion. “I just make it work,” he said. “I try to buy fashionable winter clothes.”
Icochea’s motto when it comes to his fashion sense? “You gotta be a baller on a budget.”

No matter how cold it may be, it looks like the people at Stony Brook always know how to stay fashionable.  Even though it doesn’t look like the snow is melting away anytime soon, let’s hope March will bring slightly warmer temperatures so Seawolves can break out this spring’s hottest trends, whatever they may be.

Diversity and Fashion at SBU

One of the aspects of Stony Brook University that makes it different is the amount of diversity that we have right on the campus. The diversity influences many aspects of life, such as food, language and a visible difference in fashion.

With a total of 24,607 students enrolled at Stony Brook University for the Fall 2014 semester, according to the Stony Brook University Fast Facts page, students are bound to relate to a photo story about diversity on their own campus.

Because of the weather and extremely low temperatures, students may have to sacrifice their wardrobe for items that keep them warm. Approaching and taking pictures of students’ fashion around campus, much like Humans of New York, gives the opportunity to have a very interesting photo story.

Photo Credit: stonybrook.edu
Photo Credit: stonybrook.edu

Taking pictures that show diversity in fashion on campus would make for a much more interesting story that one that simply stated the facts. Putting images and faces to a topic like this one will most likely help it gain more popularity and views.

Diversity can be defined as, “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” or as, “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.”

In a photo story, this would mean that photos would go beyond taking pictures of students and members of the Stony Brook University community of different races, but could go into different religions, orientations, cultures and so much more.

This story would give an insight on how people dress in the winter and if it is at all affected by their culture or beliefs.

According to a report on collegefactual.com, Stony Brook University ranks 234 in the United States for ethnic diversity within their student population, which is above the national average.

These statistics would only make a photo story more doable and enjoyable to read. There would be true diversity throughout the photographs and the possibility to take pictures of not only people, but cultural groups and organizations on campus.

Photos Tell a Story

Photo stories when combined with a written story have the ability to tell a completed news story.

These stories often attract more readers because of the photos, which capture people’s attention and draw interest add to the written words.

Buzzfeed often posts news stories with photographs that make its readers really think about a story rather than just glance at it.

On Feb. 19, Buzzfeed posted a photo story, including photos from a project called Atlas of Beauty done by Romanian based photographer Noroc Mihaela.

Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/via theatlasofbeauty.com
Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/via theatlasofbeauty.com

Besides showing behind-the-scenes photos of Mihaela in work, the story includes pictures of the photographer’s work. Atlas of Beauty aimed to showcase beauty around the world and show what nations consider to be “beautiful.”

USA/Myanmar Photo Credit to: Nora Mihaela/theatlasofbeauty.com
Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/theatlasofbeauty.com

The photographer visited places such as Myanmar, Brazil, Romania and even throughout the United States. Noroc Mihaela says she hopes her project continues and plans to continue her travels.  “I want to publish the first edition of The Atlas of Beauty after I make another journey,” Misaid said. “I need more images and more diversity to show that we live in an amazing world.”

Brazil Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/via theatlasofbeauty.com
Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/via theatlasofbeauty.com

Stories like this one would not work without photos. Simply explaining what the project was would not be interesting or completely understandable without examples and photographs of what Mihaela was doing.

I think that photo stories are a great way to draw in readers and will one-day become essential to each story that is being told. They make a story relatable and have more of an impact. “Seeing is believing,” and that is absolutely true when it comes to using photos in journalism.

Latvia/Amazonian Rain Forest Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/theatlasofbeauty.com
Latvia/Amazonian Rain Forest
Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/theatlasofbeauty.com
Georgia Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/theatlasofbeauty.com
Photo Credit to: Noroc Mihaela/theatlasofbeauty.com