The end of the semester is right around the corner (seriously it is in two weeks!) and so comes to an end my blogging for The Baltimore Sun. Here are my final thoughts on my beat for my semester in #loweclass. 

Going back to when I was first assigned The Sun, I was not sure what to expect. The first beat that I covered was for USA Today, so to go from world coverage to local was a bit of a change for me. My first thoughts on The Sun were positive.  I liked the layout, loved the usage of photos but I had a hard time getting used to a local news source and found myself comparing it to USA Today often. 

As major news events happened over the course of the semester including The Ravens Super Bowl win, the Presidential Inauguration and the Boston bombings I had a lot to blog and complain about.  The Sun provided news  in a way that I consider to be hit or miss. 

The use of photo was brilliant but as I continued on with my beat, I became dissatisfied with its video content. Of course, this is a local news source so almost every topic that was featured on the website had a local twist, meaning it included Baltimore into whatever story was being featured. This made the most absolute sense with the Super Bowl, they are the reigning champs but, I found it to be a bit inappropriate when the local twist was used for the tragedy that took place in Boston. 

One of my favorite blog post of this semester was during Super Bowl weekend. I love the Green Bay Packers with all of my heart but, it was nice to see how proud of a city Baltimore is when The Ravens took home the Vince Lombardi trophy. The website was covered with photo and video content (its best use of video) on the win, the halftime show (which was perfect!) and the events leading up to the actual game. Another favorite of mine to blog about was the Presidential Inauguration. The Sun found really creative ways to cover all parts of that day.

If I had my way, I would want The Sun to work more on their video content. I know that at first, I was impressed by it but, I felt that it left me wanting more in the end. Video was often not used in the topics that I blog about but only more so for major events. I also felt like sports were more important than anything else, that is where I found most of the video content.

I cannot say that I was completely in love with The Sun but, I am not totally disappointed. I learned more about the city of Baltimore, which is something that I knew nothing about beforehand. Overall, it was nice to cover a local news source. I will miss you, Sun. 


 
Last year I had the pleasure of attending my very first National Association of Black Journalists Midwest Summit at Northwestern University. This year, Marquette University hosted the summit for the very first time. Students from Marquette University, UW-Milwaukee, Northwestern, Bowling Green State and Northern Illinois University made the trek from their respective campus to join us for a two day event (April 12-13th). 

Since I had already been to a summit before, I knew what to expect but, since MU served as the host, the day was a bit more busy for the students involved in helping make sure the event ran smoothly. As students began to make their way to our campus, I was greeted to recognizable faces and students who I met for the first time. Just as I felt last year, it was great to be around students who were focused, bright and work hard to further themselves in the 
journalism field. 

During the opening day of the summit, all of the students were treated to a keynote speech from Mira Lowe, senior features editor for CNN Digital. If you recognize her name it is because I wrote a blog post about her a few weeks ago. Lowe's keynote speech was not quite like one that anyone would normally hear, she incorporated social media into it.  The theme for the summit was "Fearlessness" and with only 20 tweets, Lowe taught the audience how to be a fearless journalist. The was one of my favorite moments of the weekend because no one would ever think to use twitter while giving a speech at the same time. 

The next day, all of the students took part in different sessions, which ranged from lectures on social media to broadcasting. Everyone was encourage to live-tweet during the summit under the hashtag #nabjs13 so that we could all see what it is that everyone was learning and experiencing. The summit ended with a final keynote speech from James Causey, a writer for the  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Causey spoke to the students about his experiences working with the MJS, blogging and his first big break as a journalist which resulting in a very interesting story about his work during the Jeffrey Dahmer trial. Causey was relatable  and engaging. I think he really captivated  everyone with his advice and the humorous stories that he told. 

Speaking with the students at the summit, they all seemed to have taken away something form spending the weekend at Marquette University, as did I. I had a great time, learned a lot and was inspired by those who spoke to us and by the students around me. I am excited to see what the next summit will bring. 
 
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The Baltimore Sun's homepage features no news on the Boston Marathon bombings or the capturing of suspect number two.
This past week the city of Boston was faced with extreme tragedy when during the Boston Marathon, a bomb exploded and took the lives of three and injured more than one hundred people. Naturally my beat this Sunday will be focusing on The Baltimore Sun's coverage on these recent events. 

Sadly, once going to the homepage, there was nothing about teh recent events in Boston that is immediately visible. Most of the what is on the homepage is about sports and local events. Although I wished a bigger effort was made, once I began to search the page, I did begin to find information on this subject.

One of the things that I like the most about The Sun is the use of photographs. A photo gallery showing pictures of Bostonian's celebrating the capture of the second suspect, early Friday night. People flooded the streets holding American flags while police officers smile after the madness was over were some of the photos that are shown. There were also photos of the second suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as he was caught hiding in a Boston suburb. Also featured, were photos of Maryland residents at the marathon. I'm not sure how I feel about those selection of photos, I feel like it takes away from what happened and tries to place focus back to Maryland. Overall, I am always impressed with The Sun and how they manage to show different perspectives of a story through photos. 

As impressed as I always seem to be about photos, I always am left with a bit of disappointment when it comes to video. The Sun managed to place video of President Barack Obama's speech after the suspect was caught. Another video is feature showing the hiding place of Tsarnaev before he was taken into custody. Video of the suspects family members, coverage of the  event as it was happening is also available. I was much more impressed with The Sun's video selection. It felt like more attention was being paid to this area of the website and I appreciate that. 

There were not many articles about Boston and the events that happened over the past week, which was disappointing. I always feel like The Sun focuses more on photos than any other medium on its website. I was impressed with the fact that there were more videos, which is never the case but, I would love for The Sun to step it up in all arenas versus paying attention to one more than another. When it comes top big news items like the Boston Marathon, I would like to see The Sun add more than what they have been giving. 
 
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CNN's homepage which features the five channels Mira Lowe is the editor of. They include Tech, Health and Living.
This past week in #loweclass we all had the pleasure of meeting Mira Lowe , CNN senior editor for features at CNN.com. In my last blog post, I gave my first thoughts on the website and the channels that Lowe is in charge of. Overall, I was very impressed with the work she does with CNN Digital and had hopes that one day, the beat I cover, The Baltimore Sun would take note and make innovative changes to their website.

Lowe spoke with our class about her work day at CNN and what she looks for in a journalist. We also learned that she read the class blog posts which we were to give critiques on the five channels she is in charge of. She began with the layout of the website, which was one thing that I was a huge fan of. Lowe called the homepage the "door to the house," which I thought was an interesting way of looking at a website. She told the class that CNN Digital came into its own five years ago and that it is, surprisingly more male dominated that female. 

One of the most interesting parts was learning about a typical day working for CNN. Lowe said starts everyday by checking her email. She has two meetings at CNN all before 10 a.m. and then begins working on content and stories for the website. Her work days seem very busy but, she seems to enjoy it. 

Lowe then went over the different blogs that are featured on CNN's website because blogging plays a big part in our class. On first though, CNN can seem like a place suited just for serious news but, there are blogs dedicated to entertainment as well as religion and a special place for citizen journalism. Lowe encouraged us all to contribute and pitch stories.

Lowe gave us all advice on how to be better journalists. Lowe emphasized that having a passion for what you do is crucial in order to work in this field. Out of the many things that I learned that afternoon is that Lowe says is important to be passionate about journalism, and she is. That is what makes her advice so powerful, she is exactly what her advice is all about. When it comes to what she looks for in an intern, someone with personality, who stands out and wants to be there is what she looks for. 

Overall, I got the feeling that Lowe has a genuine interest and love for her job. I appreciate her taking the time out to speak to the class and give us all great advice on how to better ourselves as journalists. I felt very lucky to have someone who has accomplish so much to speak with us, especially being a woman journalist. It really gave me hope and confidence that I can accomplish a career for myself too. She is someone that I believe all of #loweclass should aspire to be like. 
 
My beat assignment  will not be focusing completely on The Baltimore Sun but rather, CNN's wesbite. This coming Wednesday in #loweclass we will be have a guest speaker by the name of Mira Lowe, who is the senior editor for features for CNN Digital.  After reviewing the five main channels that Lowe is responsible of, here are my thoughts.

One of my favorite sections of any news source is entertainment. In comparison to The Sun, CNN's entertainment section is more sophisticated. There  is more information, content and innovative ways of coverage. One thing that I often complain about with The Sun is the lack of video content for stories, CNN utilizes video more in this section. Photos are used often, which is great because that is what an entertainment section should feature. In this section so much was covered, television, music (check out this timeline of Justin Timberlake's career, sorry he's one of my favorites) and movies. I was really impressed. 

I'm not big on tech sections, it's not really my thing. The Sun believe it or not, does not even have a tech section to compare with CNN's, which I found to be interesting and a bit disappointing. I'm sure Maryland natives are tech-savvy too. But, back to CNN. There is a nice touch that can filter out what you want to see such as, social media, gaming and gadgets to name a few. Once again, CNN has a great amount of video content to go along with text stories. If I had one suggestion, I would like to see more photos within this section.

The health section has a simple layout with news on health issues. One thing that I was not expecting to see but was a nice touch was a section called "Health A-Z," which covers different popular health topics. The Sun's layout is set up with article after article, there isn't much of a structure. CNN's health section appears to be much more organized. The living section has a similar appearance. Many of the articles cover parent and children issues, culture and identity. For both of these sections, I would like to see more use of video.  

Just like the health and living, the travel section is set up with the same similar layout. Once again, The Sun does not have this section on their website. There is a fun story about some of the world's most entertaining airports, photos of travel destinations and the travel photo of the day. This section of the website made exceptional use of photos being featured in almost every post. The travel section is one of my favorites on the site.

I was really impressed with these five channels on CNN's website. I felt they all provided new and creative ways to present information and were completely different than my beat. The layouts are appropriate to the subject and are created in a way that makes information easy to find. In comparison to The Baltimore Sun, CNN is more innovative. It even had an advantage over The Sun, they feature both a tech and travel section, Baltimore does not. I really did enjoy what I saw, watched and read on CNN.com. 
 
In honor of Easter, today's beat assignment is to focus on how The Baltimore Sun covers faith, religion and of course today's holiday. The Baltimore Sun's homepage does not bring too much attention to the holiday, you'll have to do a bit of scrolling and looking around to find coverage on it.

The Baltimore Sun appeared to cover today in photos more than in print so, the photo section is where I'll begin. There is a great section that features retro Easter photos taken in Maryland. Children who were on Easter egg hunts, parents in bunny costumes and Easter day parades are some of the old school photos that The Sun shared. I think it was a nice way to bridge the past with present-day Maryland. There are also photos of Maryland's Easter egg hunt that was held Saturday, more than 500 children and parents were there.

After the numerous amounts of photos that were featured, that is where Easter and faith coverage became scarce. An article is featured about a Basilica reopening today, Easter day. Other than that, there was an weather article telling locals that their Easter could expect rain. I am a bit surprised on the lack of articles focusing on today.

Looking over to the video section, it's even worse. From my searching, I found no videos focusing on today's holiday. Interestingly enough, there are still videos up from St. Patrick's Day. But, no Easter. Once again, I see more coverage on local sports teams and nothing about faith and religion.

I was a bit disappointed in the lack of coverage that The Baltimore Sun produced. The use of photos were great but, the ball was dropped in all other arenas. I would have liked more text stories and video to commemorate today's holiday. I'm usually satisfied with what The Sun does but, today I was not impressed. 

 
 
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The Baltimore Sun's website features a section dedicated to the state of Maryland and the events that take place there.
For my beat assignment this week, I was given the opportunity to pick any part of The Baltimore Sun's website and blog about it. I searched around the website trying to find something that I would not normally cover and realized that I was having a hard time trying to find something that was interesting. 

In past blog posts I have talked about how The Baltimore Sun has a huge sense of  hometown pride, being that it is a local publication, so I figured that focusing on the Maryland section, the section that is exclusively about the state, would make sense. I hoped to learn a bit more about Maryland. 

This section of the website focuses on local news in different areas of the state like, Baltimore City and county,  Arundel, and Hartford County and other areas. It was interesting for me to learn about what is going on in another part of the country. Breaking news is featured, which is a great touch but, I noticed that national news was included which confused me seeing that this section is about Maryland.

There are articles featured in this section that talk about local events that take place, like a fundraiser helping to raise money for the homeless of Maryland. In this article, there is a photo to accompany the article, but I do believe that video would have been a nice addition to this story. When looking at specific articles in this section, The Sun also has a feature that directs readers to similar readings.

One thing that I noticed in the Maryland section of the website is a whole page dedicated to education. This part of the website seemed to be the most positive. One thing that I thought was very enjoyable was a video featuring Ravens football player Torrey Smith and his fiancé  encouraging students to study through a rap song.  Other sections of the website feature local politics and crime.

The Maryland section of the website could benefit from more video content. My biggest problem with the The Sun is how photos seem to be more important that videos when it comes to being placed in articles. Aside from that, I can say that I was satisfied with what this section had to offer, I also learned a lot too.
 
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The Baltimore Sun's video page features video about local and national news. Videos on the new Pope are also highlighted.
This blog post assignment focuses on The Baltimore Sun's usage of video. A few post back, I spoke about the Presidential Inauguration and how well I thought they used photographs but, I did not focus too much on The Sun's use of video. My first thought when beginning my post on their video display was "Will they have creative use of video like they did for photos?" I asked myself that because I was impressed with their creative photo ideas. 

The homepage of The Sun has a video feature visible on their homepage broken down into different sections. Sports video, weather, viral and entertainment videos are under different sections. I do like how organized the video section is instead of placing all types under one page. It makes it easier for those who view the website to find exactly what type of video they are looking for. I also thought it was a nice touch to add viral videos to the site, it was unexpected but, an innovative move to make. One complaint, sports seems to be more important than other videos, but they did win the Super Bowl (and Baseball season is near), that could be the reason for the overload.

The biggest piece of news at the moment is the arrival of the new Pope and The Sun features video about Pope souvenirs flying out of stores and a tour of the Papal apartment.  Although these are interesting videos, it is not what I would immediately expect considering what big news this is. They are short videos, probably meant not to hold your attention for too long. When going onto the video section of the website, I feel like the most important videos should be  featured before how many trinkets are being sold in a store. 

The videos on the website often stand alone, there are no text stories to compliment every video. I thought that was an interesting move. As readers, if we see a video we will probably watch it before reading anything else but, I think that a lot of the videos could have benefited from text. Many of the websites and news sources that I frequently go to, often feature both video and text to support one another. I would have preferred to have both for every story so that any information that was not in or could not be featured in the video would be in the text. 

The pros when it comes to video is the organization. I like how every video falls under a specific topic. If I'm interested in music or movies, I know that I can click Entertainment and find what I am looking for. If I'm interested in sports, there is a special place for that too. The simplicity of the video section is a major plus for me. If I had to find one problem it would be to show the most important videos first and not what one would consider to be a "filler" video. I also enjoyed seeing so many local videos about Baltimore. All in all, I was satisfied.


 
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The Baltimore Sun's homepage after The Oscars featured a photo of one of the nights winners, Actress Jennifer Lawrence.
I happen to be an award show addict and I'm not ashamed of it. So, once I found out that I could blog about The Oscars, I was very excited and already began to plan out what I wanted to talk about. Then I realized I had a beat to cover and this isn't about my addiction to watching people win golden trophies. Here is what I thought about The Baltimore Sun's Oscar coverage.

Hours before the award show, The Sun had very few articles about the award show. One that was placed on the home page was about what they hoped to see during the telecast. Things like the James Bond tribute, hoping for a reboot of the Angelina Jolie leg debacle of 2012 and wanting Ted the bear to make an appearance made up this list.

As the show got going, there was a bit more content featured on the site. Red carpet looks were a fixture in the photo section of the website. The show's highlights were also captured like host Seth MacFarlane's opening monologue, supporting actor winner (and a personal favorite of mine) Christoph Waltz win for "Django Unchained" and the cast of The Avengers presenting an award.

Video of the night's winners acceptance speeches appeared on the website faster than I expected. One of my favorite performances of the past year was Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook." A video of her acceptance speech (and unfortunate slip on the stairs) was posted to The Sun's website. 

For those who are into throwing viewing parties, there was an article featured on recipes to consider making for it. If you are into crab cakes or cheese beignets, this article is a major plus for foodies. Although it's a bit too late to have a party now, consider the recipes for next year, if you're already anticipating the next award season like I may or may not be doing.  

I can't say that I was expecting too much of The Baltimore Sun when it came to Oscar coverage but, they were good with updating those who were interested. The photo section was good but, video could have been a bit better with post Oscar coverage and behind the scenes footage.  A for effort, Baltimore Sun.



 
 
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The Baltimore Sun's blog titled the Dark Room profiled famed photographer, Richard Stacks on their website.
This week my blog post focuses on The Baltimore Sun's profile on photographer Richard Stacks

Apart of my Jour 2100 class, we've been focusing a lot on profiles and how to correctly write them after having a visit from documentary maker, Marco Williams. I enjoy writing profiles because it allows me truly craft a story and make the reader feel as though they know the subject inside and out, even if they have never met them before. It was a bit difficult looking for any profiles on the website but, when I found this one, it was time to blog.

Richard Stacks, who is a Baltimore native did not have formal training as a photographer and learned more about the trade when attending college at City College. I had never heard of Stacks before so it was interesting to learn about him and his career. He began working for the Sun in 1951 and in 1955 began shooting photos for them.

My last beat covered national and world news, so this time around it was a great change to learn about Baltimore's hometown heroes. Seeing as journalism and photography go hand in hand, I thought it would interesting to learn more about Stacks.

But, that is where the problem comes in. The Sun made it incredibly difficult to even find a profile on anyone. I happened to stumble upon Stacks through chance, there was not that great of a selection on the website. Another problem that I had is that the profile is not too long. It focuses more on his photos, which to a degree is understandable, he is a photographer. But, there isn't much of a print story.  

I was not the happiest with what the Sun had to offer in terms of profiles but, it was interesting learning about Richard Stacks who is one of the many pride and joys of Baltimore.