Thursday, December 20, 2007

Worth a thousand words!

Photography plays a huge role in the world of journalism. Politicians, athletes, religious figures, celebrities, and everyday people grace the pages of our newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Their faces are often filled with emotion— whether it joy, pain, disgust, confusion, or otherwise. It may seem simple: take a picture, write a caption, and publish it! However, many photojournalists have made some seriously unethical decisions regarding photography. You may be wondering what I am talking about, let me explain. The creation of the computer program Photoshop has led many people to alter their photographs from their original state…to pretty much anything they want, without explaining that it has been altered. With a program like Photoshop, a person can change the exposure, colors, and insert or delete objects. Another unethical thing photojournalists do is set up shots. A photographer’s job is to capture life, people, and real situations—in order to show society things that are going on in the world. However, when a photographer says ‘stand there’ or ‘hold this’ or ‘cry’, they are altering the situation and creating a moment that did not in fact ever happen, but was set up! Over time, many photographers have made this unethical decision, and paid the price by losing their jobs. Pictures are worth a thousand words…something we have all heard a million times…photojournalists should just make sure the thousand words, are the right ones!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ethically Speaking: Celebrity Obsessions

Tabloids & Paparazzi: two things that A-list celebrities can’t seem to avoid and society can’t seem to get enough of! When ‘tabloids’ first started the term referred to the format not the content; however, magazines such as The Star, OK!, and The Enquirer have since changed the term ‘tabloid’ and everything that it entails. Today the “tabloids” are focused around celebrity news, gossip, sports stars—the stories emphasize and sensationalize these people and the things they do. The stories that headline these magazines are basically ridiculous and unethical to say the least, and the pictures that go along with them are no better. The stories and pictures cover every angle of these people’s personal and private life; the stories and pictures are more often than not, defamatory and libelous. Paparazzi are another huge ethical issue; these people’s lives are spent chasing celebrities around everywhere to snap candid shots of celebs. The celebrities are often caught off guard and doing things they probably do not want to be photographed doing. Paparazzi, however, are relentless and like journalists who will do anything to ‘get a story’; they will do anything to ‘get a photo.’ Whether it is climbing a tree, sitting outside of Tom Cruise’s house at 3 a.m., or chasing Paris Hilton in her Lambo down the 5 in L.A.—paparazzi will stop at nothing. If these stories and photographs are so unethical then why will writers risk being sued for libel and photographers will risk crashing into a wall or falling out of a tree? In short, these people will risk their own lives because society loves to see celebrities at their best and especially their worst. Stories about Lindsay Lohan’s drug problems and pictures of Britney Spears sans underwear makes these people normal, and I think it makes people feel better about themselves. Our society has come to envy celebrities and look up to them (unfortunately above almost any other job), and so these magazines will continue to fly off supermarket shelves regardless of their lack of ethics.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ethically Speaking

American Journalism Ethics (AJE)…wow, that is quite a mouthful. I have quickly learned in Dr. Robertson’s class that the ethics of journalism are insanely complex. Protecting sources, privacy, stereotyping, yellow/public/new journalism, Photoshop, Fox News (enough said)—the issues that encompass journalism are basically never-ending. Although I have not blogged in six months (my bad), I am back in full swing and ready to talk about many of these ethical issues. Stay tuned for the first installment of Ethically Speaking.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

"Is this your first time? You look nervous."

The first memory I have of being at church is amusing to say the least. I was about 2 ½ years old; in addition, for visual purposes (or laughs) I was pudgy with a pretty legit mullet and had my bag of Cheerios clenched tightly in my little hand. Neither the priest’s captivating sermon nor the choir’s angel-like voices hold any significance in my vivid memory. However, I distinctly remember the look of mortification on my mothers face when she finally snatched me off the floor, after I had crawled under 25 pews and was only feet from the alter (the final destination).

Apparently, she got over the embarrassment caused by her turbo-charged tubby toddler, because from that day on I attended church every Sunday with my mom and two sisters. For a solid 18 years, I woke up each week and headed to 10 o’clock mass; not necessarily, because I wanted to or was I forced—just because that is what I did. Religion quickly became a huge part of my life.

For me being a Catholic was pretty much the inevitable: my mother was a devout Catholic, I was to be raised in a 100% Irish Catholic neighborhood, and I was baptized as an infant. At the budding age of four, I began preschool at a private catholic school and as you can see, things have not changed much. Ok, unfortunately that might be a bit of an exaggeration, a lot has changed since I was four. Two years ago I moved halfway across the country and was far far away from the conservative Midwest setting I was so used to. Because of my new self-ruling lifestyle, I found myself waking up at 3 p.m. and eating ice cream for breakfast. However, my sleeping and eating habits were not the only things that changed. I could have never expected this to happen but I stopped going to church—completely!

The last nine months of my life have been nothing short of a roller-coaster, sometime in August ‘06, everything began spiraling downward and I had totally lost control. The once comforting relationships with my parents, friends, and boyfriend were frustrating, I was struggling with school, I was constantly stressed with work, and even my health was suffering. I tried everything in my power to fix it, yet it seemed the harder I tried the worse it all got (such is life I suppose).

Last Thursday morning (May 3, 2007), as I sat on Lone Mountain watching the sunrise, the sun’s rays seemed to almost be pointing at USF’s St. Ignatius church. There it was—the light at the end of the dark tunnel, the dark tunnel that had become my life. At 12:05 p.m., I stood hesitantly in the doors of St. Ignatius, one of San Francisco’s most beautiful churches. A Christian church is a place of worship, a place where everyone is welcome, and most importantly where everyone is accepted—yet I was instantly overcome with feelings of guilt and regret, as though I had let someone down (God, my mom, myself).

The priest greeted the people and spoke the words I had heard a million times before “The Lord be with you,” as the congregation rose and replied, “And also with you.” My heart had slowed down and I apprehensively made my way to a pew in the back. Jim Thompson, an 81-year-old St.Ignatius regular, slid in next to me in a near empty church, which seemed odd, but I was glad he did. “This your first time or something? You look nervous,” said Thompson, as he winked at me then smirked. I was so caught of guard, my thoughts were all over the place—who does this guy think he is, oh no…he knows I’m a bad person. “Um…um…no,” I began stuttering, and then quickly interrupted my stammering self. “No, this is not my first time in church. Yes, this is my first mass at St.Ignatius,” I said in a firm tone.

Mass continued on as it always does: stand up, sit down, stand up, kneel…ect. The congregation recited the usual prayers (the Our Father and Nicene Creed), said their Prayers of the Faithful, and offered the sign of peace to one another. I followed along and participated as I had so many times before, and it felt good. However, because of my current state of life and the fragile old man’s comment, I sat consumed and distracted by the profusion of thoughts in my head. Mass had come and gone, and I was shocked when I read the time on my cell phone—it was 3:23 p.m. As I moseyed my way towards the door, I was mesmerized by my first experience at St. Ignatius almost as though a huge weight had been lifted.

Unfortunately, church & religion do not have magical powers so my life was not instantly made perfect. However, reintroducing the sense of faith and spirituality into my life and remembering that I am always welcome in the house of the Lord, I believe are lessons essential not only for me but for everyone.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Check This Out!

Most of the major cities in the United States or the world for that matter seem to have one thing they are famous for. Paris has the Eiffel Tower with its 1665 steps while Chicago’s Sears Tower stands strong as the tallest skyscraper in the world. The Taj Mahal in India was completed almost 400 years ago and it is impossible to make the guards laugh at London’s Buckingham Palace. San Francisco has so many amazing attractions it is hard to pick the one that stands out the most. However, the Golden Gate Bridge easily trumps candidates such as the Trans America building and Golden Gate Park.

The Golden Gate Bridge has become an international icon for San Francisco as well as the United States. It was painted orange vermilion which is known as "International Orange." As opposed to painting the bridge a more standard black or grey, it was painted orange to heighten visibility for sailors coming into the bay. The bridge opened to traffic on May 28, 1937, and as of June 2005, 1,779,032,891 vehicles had crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.

The facts and data about the GG bridge go on and on, but numbers and dates are not whats important. Maybe it is because I am from Chicago that I get so excited about the bridge. However, regardless of whether I am heading to Stinson beach for a day of fun or Marin Country Day School to coach a volleyball team, every time I am on that bridge a wave of excitement comes over me. Rusty Smith, who has been a toll booth worker for eleven years, said “I don’t know what it is about that bridge but the smiles on the faces that drive through here everyday are what keep me going.”

The 6,450 foot suspension bridge is absolutely breathtaking, whether it is glimmering in the hot summer sun or the towers are poking through dense San Francisco fog. If you have never been to San Francisco or never driven on the bridge…I strongly suggest you do.

1. Eleven men died during the construction of the bridge.
2. The “Half-Way-to-Hell-Club” is a group of 19 men, whose lives were saved by a safety net,
which was used as a precaution during the construction.
3. The bridge cost $35,000,000.
4. The two towers stand 746 feet above the water.
5. The bridge was originally named "Chrysopylae," meaning "golden gate," by Captain John
C. Fremont in 1846. (Thank God they rethought that one!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Herb Haven

San Francisco became something of a safe haven for hippies, hemp, and herb almost forty years ago when the members of the Grateful Dead, who would ultimately become one of the greatest bands of all time, bought a house on Ashbury St. The Grateful Dead basically created the framework for what we call the ‘hippie counterculture’ of the late 1960’s. A lifestyle based on the ideology of “peace, love, and personal freedom.” To this very day one would not have to look far to find a hippie, whether they are 17 or 75, snacking on ‘special brownies’ in Golden Gate Park or the nearby neighborhood known as Haight Ashbury.

Glorious Golden Gate Park is known for a million different things: beautiful lakes and waterfalls, gardens, museums, endless trails, and even a herd of buffalo. However, if you know where to look, somewhere in the midst of the 1017 acres you can find your one-stop cannabis super shop—hippie hill. Hippie Hill earned its name during halcyon days in the 1960’s when George Harrison could be found playing his guitar and free-thinkers and drum circles called it home.

An unsuspecting tourist may be caught of guard by the cloud of smoke that lingers above the grassy rise or the man dressed-up like Darth Vader drinking a 40 at noon on a Monday afternoon. However, locals find hippie hill an “amazing place to get away from the city and there is never a shortage of ganja” said the man in the Vader get-up, who wished to remain anonymous.

The days of the Grateful Dead and deadheads are long past, so one might wonder what they would find if they stumbled upon hippie hill today?

An average day on hippie hill--On the sun-swept hillside there would be an abundance of people playing bongos, guitars, frisbee, and soccer. Free-spirited homeless people lay relaxing burning some fern along with long lost hippies and misplaced business men. Cowboy hats, skateboards, dread locks, and boom boxes are just a few of the odd things a person might see on this holy hill. Fresh baked ganja cookies and treats can be purchased from fifty year old men, who are missing their four front teeth and their left shoe. A homeless man rocking a Cubs batting helmet might be throwing tennis balls into the 'crowd', like a spirit squad at an NBA game. And a plethora of people can be found merely enjoying the sun and the contact high they can experience on this city-park hideaway!

Want to relax? Want to get high? Want to experience a day like you did back in the 60's? Want to see homeless people heckling each other? If you answered yes to any of these questions then hippie hill in Golden Gate Park is the place for you!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Hope Gala JDRF

Two years ago I moved from sweet home Chicago (chi-town) to beautiful foggy San Francisco. I was 18, moving to California and starting college, that meant no parents, no curfews, no rules…I was pretty certain I was on top of the world. Sooner than later I got a big reality check! I was lonely in a big city, I didn’t know anyone and had no where to go. Enter Philip Stapleton a.k.a. Phil, who has become something of a second dad to me over the last few years. Phil has been a very close friend and colleague of my father for over 30 years. As a result, he instantly gave me a job at his securities firm in the Ferry Building, Conifer Securities. Before I knew it I had a job working with amazing people who ‘took me under their wing’ so to speak. I was going on company trips to Lake Tahoe and Palm Springs and attending ritzy parties with San Francisco ‘A’ lister's.

Hence the reason I received an invite to the Hope Gala 2007, at the Fairmont Hotel atop beautiful Nob Hill where Pinot Grigio, Grey Goose, and money was flowing. More than 20 years ago Phil (and Conifer Securities) began donating an enormous amount of time and money to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) whose sole “mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications.” The Hope Gala is a huge fundraiser which includes a cocktail reception, silent/live auction, dinner, and dancing. All the proceeds from the gala benefit JDRF’s search for a cure.

Nancy Cook, a women who has battled with Diabetes for over 50 years, took the stage to tell her story and promote the 12th live auction item titled Find A Cure. “I think my blood sugar is low” said Cook, who then giggled nervously and leaned on the podium. A champagne glass of Orange Juice was instantly rushed to the stage as Cook went on with her speech. Although light laughter filled the room when Cook joked about her blood sugar level, there was a real sense of humanity brought out in the crowd almost like a wake up call. It wasn’t about the black-tie party at the four-star hotel anymore, it was about a real disease that real people are suffering from that everyone in the room had the chance to help (right there, right then). The Hope Gala 2007 raised nearly $500,000 in the live auction, and along with the price value on each of the 300+ seats and the money from the silent auction the night was nothing short of successful.

Philip C. Stapleton was this years recipient of the Living And Giving Award, as recognition for the dedication and generosity that Phil and Conifer Securities has given JDRF. Phil is an inspiration not only to me, but to anyone who knows him! From helping out an old friends daughter (a.k.a. me) to his commitment to the JDRF, Phil always seems to be searching for another way to ‘give back.’ Phil got involved with the JDRF when Will Wienstien, his partner and dear friend, daughter was diagnosed with the disease. Somewhere over the course of the night, between bidding, drinking, and dinner Phil told me about when Will first came to him and asked for his support regarding the foundation. “ I was a little confused…help the JDF (before it was the JDRF)…I am a good Irish Catholic kid from Brooklyn, why would I support the Jewish Defense Foundation?” explained Phil.

Dressing up, mingling with strangers, drinking and dancing till sunrise: that sounds like an amazing night. But that night becomes so much more special when the party is for a good cause, and you are surrounded by people who want to make a difference. The Hope Gala 2007 could easily be described in two words—Absolutely Fabulous!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Duke

This is ridiculous and pretty unnecessary, but I wanted to test out uploading YouTube to my blog!

John Wayne: The Duke

John Wayne Linzy...aka Jack, is my 1st nephew and my Godson! If you know anything about me I am obsessed with babies and little kids, probably because I still am one!

Jack is the most fantastically amazing baby and I am for sure the proudest Aunt & Godmother...Ever! Unfortunately my sister, her husband, and the Duke live across the country in Norfolk, Virginia but thanks to technology (webcams, camera phones, and the Internet) I can watch him grow from 2970.63 miles away!

Haha, this picture pretty much sums up my family! The Duke is only a week old and can hardly even open his eyes...but lets be honest, he is definitely getting his point across.

"F*@$ You...i'm trying to sleep!"
(Or something like that)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dave Matthews well...says it best!

Hey my friend
It seems your eyes are troubled
Care to share your time with me
Would you say you’re feeling low and so
A good idea would be to get it off your mind

See you and me
Have a better time than most can dream
Have it better than the best
So we can pull on through
Whatever tears at us
Whatever holds us down
And if nothing can be done
We’ll make the best of what’s around

Turns out not where but who you’re with
That really matters
And hurts not much when you’re around
And if you hold on tight
To what you think is your thing
You may find you’re missing all the rest

Well she ran up into the light surprised
Her arms are open
Her mind’s eye is

Seeing things from a
Better side than most can dream
On a clearer road I feel
Oh you could say she’s safe
Whatever tears at her
Whatever holds her down
And if nothing can be done
She’ll make the best of what’s around

Turns out not where but what you think
That really matters
We’ll make the best of what’s around

Best of What’s Around is my first personal blog and I could not be more excited! The name is song by the Dave Matthews Band (who I am obsessed with) and I thought it was perfect, because the song explains how sometimes there is stuff people need to talk about it and although it might be hard it is just better to get it out. My blog does not have a specific focus but I plan on discussing topics and issues that are important to me as a US Citizen, a student, a woman, a daughter, a friend, a music and fashion enthusiast, ect. I hope that my posts will be interesting and ultimately spark some awesome conversations!

Thanks, here goes….