Podcasts are a relatively new concept. Since its birth in 2009, the podcast medium has become important in our society. The format allows people to listen to educational or entertaining discussions about a topic of their choice. What most people often forget is that podcasts simply serve as the modern day radio. The ability to listen without watching benefits members of our modern society that is far too busy to give full attention to something for a full 30 minute episode. By only appealing to the auditory sense, podcasts have become perfect for those who commute, enjoy a long workout, or simply want to close their eyes and still engage in interesting material.

I myself listen to a few podcasts regularly. Lore, a podcast about “true life scary stories,” has worked into my weekly routine. I used to watch a show on the CW called Supernatural. Lore told the stories that Supernatural recreated, so the podcast just  added to something I was already passionate about. Now that I am busy with my schoolwork, I don’t carve out an hour a week to watch a Supernatural episode, but I will spend 30 minutes running and listening to Lore.

I also listen to Marvel NOW! which focuses on updates in the Marvel Comics. As a certified Marvel nerd, making time for these 12 minute episodes is a necessity, and I will often listen to them as I get ready in the mornings or clean my room on the weekends.

Occasionally I will indulge in a little pop culture celeb gossip. When I do this I usually look out for one of my favorite actors as a guest on a podcast. These are almost certainly a waste of time, but since I listen to these while I do something productive I give myself a free pass.


Protests and Riots and Rallies, Oh My!

Last Wednesday evening was the first in which Americans knew that there next president would be Donald Trump. To say emotions were high is an understatement. In attempt to forget the terrible news, I went on a date downtown. As I got to Columbus Circle, where we were to meet, I heard a roaring before I even fully emerged above ground. Once I gathered my bearings and put on my glasses I realized what I had walked in on: the first of many protests of the election.

It was 6 pm. The crowd was large but contained to the entrance of Central Park. About 400 people stood together screaming “NOT MY PRESIDENT!” There were about 20 NYPD officers huddled together glancing nervously at the protesters. Aside from the noise, it was all peaceful. There were a handful of signs being held up, sharing varying messages of dissent.

I ended up on the east side of Central Park around 7:30. I didn’t see any protesters other than a handful of drunk men shouting obscenities that had little relevance to the election. Every ten minutes or so a police vehicle would whiz by with its sirens blaring. I assumed that the protest was still going on and the police just wanted to match the numbers. I texted my parents about the protest. They were upset about it, as they are Trump supporters living in a swing state. They said that they “couldn’t imagine people pulling that sh*t here (in Ohio).”

Around 8:15 I sat down at a coffee place on W 49th. In the half hour spent there, I counted at least 6 WAVES of police vehicles with sirens. I pulled my phone out to check Twitter. Usually, if something big is happening I can find it in the news tab. Sure enough the first option read: PROTEST IN NYC SPANS FROM UNION SQUARE TO COLUMBUS CIRCLE. I was dumbfounded. I knew that I was outraged with the election, and I knew that others felt the same way. I never expected so many people to pour into the streets on a cold night to voice their dissent. Perhaps it is because I come from a politically powerful swing state that I cannot fathom an event like that. Moments later, I saw it with my own eyes.

My date walked me back to Columbus Circle. The whole way we talked about the election. We noticed that nearly every group of people passing us had chosen the same topic of conversation. As we crossed the street heading toward the actual center of Columbus Circle, I noticed something chilling. We were steps ahead of SEA of people walking perpendicular to us heading to the same spot. I ran ahead and climbed up the steps at the base of the statue. Pulling out my phone, I took two videos and posted them to my snapchat story. I finally realized how big this actually was.

Later that night when I got back to campus, I checked the twitter accounts of various news sources. Apparently New York was not alone in its protest. Chicago, Portland, LA, Orlando, Boston, and even Cleveland had similar protests. One of my friends texted me that she had been arrested in the Cleveland protest.

Now, days later, protests are still raging in the streets. Flags are burning, hate crimes are soaring, and Donald Trump is going to be the president.

My Experience With Citizen Journalism

For my citizen journalism assignment, I turned to a source that I am already familiar with. During my senior year of high school I worked on a large research project about the intersection of the LGBT community and the world of sports. Throughout the year I consulted The-Latest.com, a citizen journalism site. I specifically referred to the “Sport” or “Gay” news sections (http://www.the-latest.com/tags/gay or http://www.the-latest.com/topics/sport).

What I appreciated most about the website was the lack of bias. By this I do not mean that the articles themselves were free of bias. I mean that since the various articles came from a variety of different sources and writers, there is not a consistent slant.

In doing my research I of course looked at other news sources. I referred to an article from USA Today about Michael Sam leaving the NFL (http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/08/michael-sam-announces-he-is-stepping-away-from-football-montreal-alouettes). The main difference between these two sources is the style of writing. In citizen journalism, the writer is free to use his or her own diction and syntax. With an organized source like USA Today, the writer is adhering to the rules set forth by the editor of the paper. When reading from a newspaper with staff writers, the personalized touch on the story is harder to find.

I personally enjoy reading from both of these types of sources. I regularly read The New York Times on my phone and I like to google additional information on the stories that fascinate me. I try to use citizen journalism sources to fact check the corporate media which tends to have bias.

Alumni Panel Event

The PRSSA alumni panel was an enlightening experience for me as someone aspiring to work in the field of communications. While the information was not entirely relevant to the specific focus I am looking to work in, but much of the panel pertained to finding a job in New York City as a young professional fresh out of college. I also picked up on the point that you need to be willing to compromise when finding that first job. It may not be exactly what you wanted or studied, but ultimately a paying full time job offer is a privilege in this competitive market. My other key takeaway was that I need to make a LinkedIn profile as soon as possible and begin networking with my peers early.

While the panel was centered around a different concentration than the one I plan to study, I was able to draw some important information from it that I was keep in mind as I proceed through my college and into the working world.

Up Close With My Dream Job

Last Wednesday was the final presidential debate of 2016. I had one of the best seats in the house to watch the fiasco. No, I was not in Las Vegas to watch it in person, but I did get to sit with the studio audience for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and view it from the many screens on set. Following the debate, Trevor Noah went live to talk about it. I was in the second row up from the set, so I got the experience of watching the making of a television show up close.

This experience was incredible for me. Since I was young I knew I wanted to work for a television show. Around my early high school years I started watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I instantly became hooked by the format of it. The mix of humor with “journalism” allured me. I knew I wanted to work for a show like that.

In 2014 a new show hit television that would completely convince me that I needed to work in television– Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The former Daily Show writer got his own series on HBO. It was the Daily Show but funnier, more informative, and more adult (Oliver loves to point out that he can say whatever he wants on HBO). I had never wanted to personally be on camera because the news bored me and I had no acting chops whatsoever. The idea of having a candid and passionate conversation laced with humor about current events sounded like my dream journal come to life.

This past week I had the privilege to glimpse this type of job without a screen in the way. Instead of watching Trevor Noah, the host, I focused on all the people working the production elements of the show. The camera operators, audio crew members, makeup artists, stage manager, etc. It amazes me how many people are required to produce such a simplistic episode. On tv it appears that Trevor Noah is the only one doing work, but from the studio you see that he is one of many many professionals producing the episode.

I cannot wait to begin my internships and start figuring out which aspect of television I want to do in my career, and in the meantime I will try to get tickets to the Daily Show and Last Week Tonight.

ASMR- The “Weird” Corner of the Internet

Ever since I was 4 years old I have truly loved the sound of typing on a computer. As a child I loved to go to the library just to listen to grown ups clack on the keys. The sound would tickle my brain– that’s the only way I could describe it.

Thanks to YouTube, I discovered that there was a name and reason for my strange affliction with keyboards. Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, is the occurrence of a tingling sensation traveling from the scalp down the spine as a result of a triggering sound or touch. In simple terms, ASMR feels like someone is massaging your brain and pouring cool liquid down your spine. It has been described by researchers as a “brain orgasm,” although that term is disputed for accuracy by many. It can result from a variety of triggers. Common ones include nails tapping on wooden surfaces, keyboard typing, whispering, and page turning. When I was 12 I looked up “people typing” on YouTube. The results would genuinely change my life.

Within seconds I was exposed to the entire online ASMR community. Turns out millions of people feel this same phenomenon and several YouTubers have channels dedicated to making videos that will trigger it. I bookmarked more than I could watch in a week and started getting lost in the sounds.

Years later ASMR was still relatively unknown despite its massive presence on YouTube. The New York Times wrote an article about this in 2014 (link: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/rustle-tingle-relax-the-compelling-world-of-a-s-m-r/?_r=0), but still most people were unaware of ASMR. The community continued to grow and gain more producers and consumers of these videos.

In 2016 ASMR was brought to the mainstream via a YouTube video of a different genre. Comedy Shorts Gamer, a YouTuber who talks about video games and internet memes and happenings, made a reaction video after discovering ASMR videos (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFFCacFYERE). Following this video, mainstream media began looking at ASMR as the “weird corner of the internet.” Those who are not in the ASMR community are often disgusted by it because they don’t  understand the effects it can have. The research on ASMR is continuing, and hopefully soon scientists can explain why the sound of whispering can be so magical.

While the ASMR community continues to grow on YouTube, the rest of the world becomes more aware of it. In the near future I expect this to become a business. Currently, a handful of ASMR YouTubers actually make money from the website for producing videos.I expect money to infiltrate the ASMR world as it grows on the internet. In the meantime I will continue to listen to my favorite ASMRtist, Gentle Whispering (link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6gLlIAnzg7eJ8VuXDCZ_vg), whisper in Russian while typing on a laptop.

Recording vs Watching

In the world of concerts, there are unspoken rules that all must obey. For example, throwing a bra onstage can only occur during a fast song. If you’re going to hold up a poster you should only do so for the duration of two songs at most. One should never judge others for how they sing or dance in the crowd.

One area tends to lack standard regulation. It is the topic of discussion amongst concert-goers in this day and age: the great debate of the cell phone.

Since their creation, smartphones have been used for visually recording concerts. The evidence of this is ever-present in the depths of YouTube. Thousands of low quality, bass filled shaky videos have been uploaded to the website. People use this method to share the experience with those who could not attend the concert.

In the realm of concerts, many believe that it is disrespectful to spend the concert recording and poking commands into a phone. In the spring of 2016, Adele called out an audience member in one of her concerts in Italy for filming rather than paying attention to the show in front of her eyes. Immediately Twitter exploded with tweets for and against Adele’s stance. Those who supported her said that hiding behind a screen and recording something to watch later is a waste of time and money. Those who opposed her said that audience members who pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for a ticket can spend the concert enjoying it in a way that suits them.

I saw the The 1975 in concert in December of 2014 and I specifically remember one song of their set. The song, called “The City,” was one of the faster songs on the album. The band slowed it down and specifically asked all members of the audience to completely put their phones away. No recording, no photographing, no waving a flashlight in the air. The moment was so intimate and serene that some audience members started crying. It was probably the first time many of us had experienced a phone-free moment of a concert, and it was more memorable than a video would have been.

When I was a freshman in high school I went to see my favorite band of all time, Maroon 5. I recorded the entire first half of the show right up until my phone died. During the second half, the band preformed an acapella version of their hit “She Will Be Loved.” They orchestrated it so that the crowd harmonized with their voices. The result was chilling, and it was by far the best version of the song I had ever heard. To this day I regret not getting at least the audio saved so I could revisit that incredible moment.

I do not claim to know whether or not recording a concert on a phone is the “right way” to spend your time. All I know is that after spending my money on several concerts during my life, I have spent my time either with or without my phone, and I have had good experiences one way and the other. I would like to get the input of people from a span of generations, as well as people who like a range of musical genres and see how others weigh in on this topic.

My Engagement in Mass Comm

When participating in more personal activities on the internet, one is still very much involved in mass communication. The content created and posted by the individual is open to public viewing. This means there is potential for interaction, which is the root of mass communication.

As I sit in the library typing this blog post, I am only interacting with my laptop. By using keys and controls, I manipulate the post as I create it. I can change the font, the color, the length, and the diction used in this post. I am the only one with the power to control this original post. Once I share it with the world by hitting the post button, any user on WordPress.com has access to it.

With my post open for view on the internet, any user has the ability to read it. Simply by reading it, the user it not necessarily interacting with it. If the user reads it and shares it on a social media site, they have created a two-way connection that defines interaction. From their social media post, a second user could see it and post a comment on it. A third user could “like” the comment. If this third user has thousands of active followers, the original post would gain a larger audience. This web of action and reaction is what mass communication is all about.

Of course, this random post is not going to go viral in the way described above. I am not sharing any new or revolutionary ideas that are relevant enough to gain serious web traffic, but by posting this, I create an opportunity for interaction. Mass media is not a given result of personal internet uses, but it is certainly a possibility. This fact is how we coined the term “going viral.”

Usually, we use the phrase “go viral” to describe memes or Youtube videos. It is how we express that an element of media has gained wide and unexpected attention via the internet. In this day and age, anything can go viral.

Since the beginning of 2016, the internet has featured the following viral themes- Pokemon Go, Rio Olympics, deaths of famous figures (Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, etc), Hillary Clinton’s health, Melina Trump’s plagiarized speech, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the success of Hamilton, the release of several comic book movies (Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Captain America Civil War, X-Men Apocalypse), and countless other stories and scandals.

Thanks to social media and the internet, the potential for interaction is great, which causes these stories to spread and accumulate reactions, analyses, and comments.

9/11 Reflection

Today I went to Ground Zero to honor those who were personally affected by the terror attacks that took place 15 years ago. Upon arrival I realized that I was far from being the only person who had this idea. There were masses of people in the entire area. As I wove my way through the crowd, I scanned my eyes over the other visitors. I expected to see a majority of the people crying. Instead, most of the people had phones and cameras in front of their faces. Those who didn’t were busy posing for photos being taken by someone else.

(Now, I want to include a quick disclaimer; I do not agree with the culture of shaming people for using their technology. Typically I find that technology is made to be embraced. Skepticism of new tech is always laughed at when looked at retrospectively. There is no reason to be so repulsed by phones.)

Our culture needs to find a way to draw lines regarding photography around memorial sights. I personally find it disturbing to see people smiling and posing for pictures or selfies in front of these types of sights. For example, I went to the Charleston Church two weeks after an armed man killed 9 churchgoers during a religious service. I went to leave flowers and an encouraging note to the community. Directly in front of the church a group of girls were smiling and posing in a funny way. To reconnect this to my experience today, both instances filled me with similar feelings of disgust, confusion, and even anxiety.

Capturing photos is not a crime (in this scenario anyway), but it needs to be regulated. When people entered the Ground Zero memorial area, they immediately removed their hats. How did this ritual of respect become so widespread and commonplace in our culture? How can we standardize a code for determining what types of pictures are appropriate in certain places?

I do not claim to have the answers to these questions, but I feel it is a conversation that our society needs to start. Certainly I am not the only one offended by these practices, and I doubt I am the only one to ponder ways to change this.