Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Women as Columnists

This piece was written in response to learning more about women in the field of journalism but more specifically as columnists.


A female columnist is just that – she’s a writer. And, she’s a woman. This generation is unlucky, they’ve always lived in "the world of opportunity" and never the world of having to work to have a voice.

As a woman, I have to say it’s nice to have a voice in today’s society. Before this century, women wrote but the overall tone of women as a whole was mute. This was, of course, a fault of unequal opportunity and the fact that women we’re thought to be not quite as smart as man.

It’s that difference though – that women are women and men are men – that makes a woman’s writing that much stronger.

Women see the world through a different lens. As much as we would all like to think that we are all just human and see things just about the same way, we don’t. That’s why women having a voice – both vocal and written – is imperative.

Perspective is a pesky little sneak. It finds its way into each piece of writing whether a man put it there or a woman did. But, no matter what, it always finds its way in.

Ruth Marcus, a columnist for the Washington Post, has a perspective. She’s a mother. She’s a writer. She lives in Washington, D.C. In her August 29th piece for the Post titled “A Heartbeat Away from Cynicism”, she goes as far as to say “I write this as someone who…” a couple times. But, what stands out in this piece in particular is her personality.

Marcus wrote: “About the woman thing: ‘We should all be proud,’ Hillary Clinton said in a statement, of this ‘historic nomination’ Sorry, but count me out. I found Palin's selection, and her calculated shout-out to unhappy Clinton supporters, insulting.”

Reader’s get two things from that chunk of writing – the perspective and the personality of a woman.

The recent announcement of Britol Palin’s pregnancy is also a situation that Marcus can shed light on. And, that’s mostly due to the fact that she is a mother and a woman. She can bare a child and she has raised children. That key difference between men and woman allow a certain elaboration of a point in an opinion piece.

“The Lessons of Bristol Palin”, released in the Post early this month, Marcus makes use of her role as a parent to shed light on the pregnancy situation. She writes her piece from the lens of a parent, which gives what she’s saying further credibility and validity. She even ends the piece by mentioning her two daughters and what she wants them to learn from their mother writing an article about the Palin pregnancy. It’s her perspective that people can relate to if they choose to read her column.

The voice of a woman is a thoughtful gem. It’s a vantage point that only half of the world’s population ever gets to see. It’s a lens that very few choose to use. But Ruth Marcus is among the group who does.

Whether she’s driving her kids to school and listening to a conservative talk radio show bash her for being a liberal journalist (see the Post’s September 10th column, “Palin Hits the Motherload”) or she’s just giving voice to those in the public who aren’t writers, she’s sharing thoughts that other people definitely share.

We’ve come a long way since the first books were printed and distributed. Women not only read them but write them too. The written word is the strongest entity a person can produce. Once something is put to paper, it’s as if it’s been set to stone. Anyone can read it. You just have to make sure it’s something worth saying.

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The End of Music on MTV

This piece will be published in an issue of the American University student-run-bi-weekly magazine AmWord. Stayed tuned for more details about this publication.


When you think of Times Square in New York, a few staples come to mind – the Naked Cowboy, the ball dropping on New Years Eve, bright lights and big ads – those are the pictures etched into your memory. But the one thing teenagers have all come to love for the past decade is nearing an end. Total Request Live has been canceled.

Tourists and teenagers started flocking to the sidewalks outside MTV’s Manhattan studios in the fall of 1998. Those sidewalks, once crammed daily with screaming teenagers will be empty soon.

When MTV debuted in 1981, it was a music station. It launched at 12:01 A.M. on August 1 with the words said by John Lack, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” And then, the first video aired.

“Video Killed the Radio Star” by British New Wave group, [the] Buggles, was aired that summer night in 1981. From then on, music videos became “it” thing and tool for future musicians to promote their music.

The show peaked in popularity in 1999 with 757,000 viewers tuning in daily, according to Nielsen Media Research. The artists who found the greatest success during the 1990s capitalized that on that. Pop music superstars Britney Spears, ‘N SYNC, and rapper Eminem were great at it.

Eminem, was asked how he felt about the station’s decision to cancel the show. He said, “I’m going to miss TRL. Where else will I be able to start feuds, defend my honor vigorously and act like an angry teenager on national TV?”

MTV has come a long way since its conception. A long, long time ago – if you can believe it – the station played music. But, those days are also coming to a close. There has been shift to reality based programming, leaving the television jukebox that once existed to be put on pause. The show’s cancellation just proves that the stop button has been pressed. The music has ceased.

Recent years have shown views that if you want music, you watch TRL. Once the final episode airs on November 8, it will be an end of an era. If teenagers aren’t being granted their daily dosage of their top ten favorite pop songs on an after school television, where are they going to get it?

The shows Executive Producer Dave Sirulnick told the Associated Press that MTV made the final decision because they, “…want to close this era of TRL in a big celebratory way, and 10 is a great number. This feels like the right time and let’s celebrate it and let’s reward it.”

So, is this the right time to celebrate and reward a show that’s brought the most popular songs to life through video for the past decade? If the reward is a lack of music on a station that was named “music television”, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

The future of music on MTV is up in the air now. Ex-MTV Video Jockey Dave Holmes still doesn’t see the point in the stations choice to cut the show from its programming. “I don't understand how it doesn't make sense to at least keep it on,” he said in an exclusive interview with Defamer.com. “I mean, it's MTV's last music show, it's like their little clubhouse.”

If MTV knows what’s good for them, they’ll put music back in the programming rotation. They got it right in 1981, so they can do it again. This is just one of those cases where people realize they miss what they have once they don’t have it anymore.

But for now, we have to face it – the MTV generation is over. The music is gone. They might as well just take away the “M”. It doesn’t stand for anything anymore.

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The War in Iraq

This piece was our take on what we thought about the war in Iraq. It isn't one of my stronger pieces, but I thought I would share it anyway.


We, as Americans, lost what was bonding us together after 9/11 to the war in Iraq. It’s as simple as that.

Thomas Friedman mentions this in his column, “Grapes of Wrath”. He said that, “It appears we are on the verge of going to war in a way that will burst all the national solidarity and goodwill that followed 9/11, within our own country and the world.”

Our chance at maintaining solidarity came crashing to a halt when we invaded Iraq. We don’t belong there. We never belonged there. We need to get out and go home.

Americans are lucky. 232 years ago, a group of unsatisfied citizens under British rule decided to say, “To hell with this! Let’s start over and do this thing we call life on our own terms.” Now, we live in a country where freedom is the number one priority. Not everyone else in this world shares that luck.

Surveys back in 2002 said that almost two-thirds of Americans supported President Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq. It’s after a statement like this that I’m tempted to wonder this: If we had realized that the war in Iraq was the poorest possible decision considering the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on 9/11, then could we have prevented the mess we’re in now? But, there’s no use in wondering about an “If … Then…” scenario.

This country has stood on its own ground and stood for what it’s believed in for over 200 years. And only now have we waged our first aggressive war (according to a Nick Clooney article from 2002)? Something is off here.

There are other ways to solve the Iraq conflict. The best one I can think of is packing up and leaving. We need to focus on America, not the rest of the world. We’ve got our own problems and we have to look out for ourselves first and foremost. Then, and only then, can we worry about fixing the rest of the world.

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On 9/11

This piece was written as a free (opinion based) response based on the cue, "On 9/11, ..." This is the take I took on it.


I’ve always been afraid of flying. The idea that a plane could crash tears me up inside like a piece of paper shredded to confetti. I can’t explain it any better than that. So, you can imagine my insecurity when two of our American airliners hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

It’s easy to say where you were at the time of the attacks – that is, if you’re old enough to remember. At this point, I’m an adult. I can even vote in the next Presidential election. But then, I was a freshman in high school. Learning Greek dances for my humanities course. No one believed our classmate when he told us the news, but minutes later – we were watching it all unfold on television.

Since 9/11, I’ve been less afraid to fly. But it wasn’t always that way. At first, I was scared beyond wits end. I believe Miriam Tucker captured my thoughts on that quite well in an article she wrote for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in December 2001. She asked, “So, why are so many people – myself included – more afraid to fly now?” And answered with, “Because of the news, that’s why.”

Her reasoning behind this is that from September 11th to December, the news ran some sort of scary story about airplanes or airports. There was no escaping it. Now, we don’t see much of the whole “horror story airport scenarios” crowded our news airwaves. I’m thankful for that.

I like to think that if we ever found ourselves in a similar situation to 9/11 that we’d find a way to get out of it. NPR released information in July 2004 regarding the increased aviation security methods imposed by our government. After more than $9 billion was spent on enhanced security measures, it’s up to us for the rest.

We must remain resilient.

Much like Harrison Ford in “Air Force One”, the people on United flight 93 fought the terrorists to the death – even though that meant everyone on the plane died. Every time I hear Ford say “Get off my plane,” I get what he’s saying. And, had I been in the situation, I would’ve done the same.

So, here’s my message to the terrorists 7 years later:

“Get off my plane. This is our ride. There will never be a day you can hijack our freedoms ever again.”

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2 Men, 2 Suicides, 1 Heart

This following piece was the first I wrote for Nick Clooney's class. I wrote the piece in response to reading an article from the AP about a particular heart transplant story (which you will read further about in the piece below -- I will also attach the link to the story if you're interested in reading that as well).


I can’t stand the sound of my own heart beat. It bothers me. It makes me uncomfortable. And, I place that blame on my father for having a heart transplant when I was a 7th grader. He was 44, I was 13.

New Years Eve 1999 was the day that my father was given the gift of life. His new heart was 15 – the donor passed away in a car accident. He was hit by a drunk driver.

The sound of a beating heart haunts me. I hear it when I go to bed at night. I hear it when I’m sitting in class. I hear it when I talk to new people. But, at least I hear it. Terry Cottle doesn’t hear his heart beat anymore. And neither does Sonny Graham.

After reading “2 men, 2 suicides”, I was struck with sadness. This one heart, for some time, brought immense happiness and love to so many people – and not only to the 2 men who held the heart in their chests. It also won over Cheryl, family, and friends. But now, that heart ceases to do so. It’s a shame.

The thing to remember here is that life is precious. Most people don’t get second chances. Thanks to transplantation, some do. It must be cherished, not wasted.

I’m glad Allen G. Breed decided to share this story. It opens up a vantage point that isn’t seen often. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not everyday that you meet someone who’s had a transplant. Lucky for me, I have one for a father.

Who knows, maybe “2 men, 2 suicides” opened more eyes toward transplantation. That’d be a plus.

The more the merrier, I say.

The story of Graham and Sonny’s shared heart is full of character and quirks. My father’s is too.

A couple years after his transplant, the parents of my father’s donor had dinner with my own. They ate at a Cuban-fusion restaurant across the street from our house. We were regulars there. It was like Cheers, everyone really did know our names.

Drinks were ordered first and dinner orders followed, it was time for the feast at hand. Much like Graham’s craving for beer and hot dogs – Cottle’s favorite foods – my father found himself in a similar situation. He ordered a pork chop – something he never would’ve ordered, seeing as we’re Jewish – which was his donor’s favorite home-cooked meal. Go figure.

If some men can have a second chance at life, then we all can. That’s where Breed laid his focus – on life, not on suicide.

It’s like when Graham shot down his doctor’s idea to see a counselor for post-transplant depression.

He said, "I'm sorry the other guy died, but this is my heart now."

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For the original article, please visit : http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=80&sid=1469562

Preface of What's to Come

Hello internet viewers!

My name is Rachel and I'm currently a student. Recently, I enrolled in a class that Nick Clooney (yes, that's Rosemary Clooney's brother and George Clooney's father) teaches. It is because of this class and his feedback that I feel strongly enough that I could post any of my work on the internet for reader consumption.

So, sit back and enjoy the musings. You'll be getting everything from real news, music news, CUBS news, album/concert reviews, etc. It'll be worth your time as long as I stay committed to updating. So, I'll let you know.