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The Abridged Math Tools for Journalists: Wickham Briefing chpts. 5-8

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By Julia Sayers

Polls and Surveys

Journalists use polls and surveys as important supplemental elements to their work. Polls are the public’s opinions on a single question or topic while surveys are the public’s opinions on a series of questions. In order to do a survey, ideally researchers would like to interview every person in the population but that is not possible so they often rely on samples. There are many different ways to get a sampling. Cluster sampling involves surveying a specific group, such as students enrolled in a class. Systematic sampling involves choosing a number, such as seven, and then calling every 7th person in the phone book. Probability sampling involves putting all subjects into a hat and then drawing out a particular percentage. These are just a few ways sampling can be done. Two important terms to understand are margin of error and confidence level. Margin of error indicates the degree of accuracy of the research based on standard norms. It is expressed as a percentage based on the size of the sample. The more people polled, the smaller the margin of error. Confidence level is the level or percentage at which researchers have confidence in the results of their research. Confidence level is determined in advance and varies from field to field.
Journalists should also understand z scores and t scores. A z score shows how much a particular figure differs from the mean. It is used to compare figures that are hard to compare in raw form. The formula for a z score is: (raw score – mean) / standard deviation. The t score is used when the sample size is smaller than 100.


The business beat in reporting involves the most math of all beats. Sources come from things like press releases, financial statements, quarterly earnings reports and annual reports. Profit and loss reports are some of the most important documents for a company. They show if the company is making money. They do this basically by subtracting expenses from income. The difference between costs of goods sold and selling price is the gross margin.

Example 1

The cost of making a pair of jeans for a company is $30. However, they sell the jeans for $70. What is their gross margin?

Gross margin = selling price – costs of goods sold
70-30 = $40 gross margin

However, this is not the total profit for the company, since other things must be figured in like overhead and all the other expenses of the company.
Other important formulas:
Gross profit = gross margin x number of items sold
Net profit = gross margin – overhead
Assets = Liabilities + Equity
If you have the facts, the formulas are easy to fill in and figure out.
Ratios are also important for business reporting. The most popular is the current ratio, which is found by dividing current assets by current liabilities.

Example 2

A soda company has $205.3 million in current assets and $194.6 million in current liabilities. What is the current ratio?

205.3 million / 194.6 million = 1.05

A ratio of 1.05 means the soda company has $1.05 in assets for each dollar in liabilities.

Other ratios formulas:
Quick ratio = cash/ current liabilities
Debt-to-asset ratio = total debt / total assets
Debt-to-equity ratio = total debt / equity
Return on assets = net income / total assets
Return on equity = net income / equity
Price earnings ratio = market price or share / earnings or share

Stocks and Bonds

Stocks are an important part for all corporations, and sometimes individuals. Corporations make money by selling stocks and when an individual buys stock in a company, they become part owner in a company. The more popular a stock is, the higher the price is. Corporations also make money by selling bonds, which is similar to a loan from an investor to the government or other organization. They earn low-rate interest and are low-risk investments. Until the bond reaches maturity, the owner will annually get the interest. When the bond reaches maturity, the owner will often get the face value he paid for the bond. However bonds fluctuate on the market, so in turn the current yield (return on the bond) does too. Many reporters are interested in calculating the cost of a bond issued by a municipality. This can be done by the formula: Bond cost (interest) = amount x rate x years.

Example 3

The town of Hickory, NC decided to issue $7 million worth of 15 year bonds to pay for new parks. If the coupon is 5%, how much will Hickory have to pay in interest over the life of the bonds?

Bond cost = 7 million x .05 x 15
Bond cost = 5.25 million

Journalists might want to explain to readers that this means $12.25 million will go to the new parks.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are the largest source of income for local government, school districts and other municipal organizations. The property tax rate is determined by taking the total amount of money the governing body needs and dividing that among the property owners in that taxing district. The amount each owner pays depends on the value of his property. Property taxes are expressed in mills, 1/10 of a cent. Key things to remember when writing about property taxes is the reappraisal value, taxes imposed by other governing bodies and the type of the property, as many are assessed differently. Appraisal value is based on the use of the property and the characteristics, such as location, square footage, age, quality, amenities, etc. To find the assessed value of a property, multiply the appraisal value by the rate. To calculate tax on a property, use the formula: tax owed = tax rate x (assessed value / $100). If the amount is assessed by amount per 1000, divide by 1000 instead of 100.

Example 4

Hickory is raising its local property tax from 65 cents per $100 to 77 per $100. How much more will the owner of a $350,000 house pay next year if the assessed value is based on 20% of the appraised value?

First you must find assessed value.

350,000 x .20 = 70,000

Then use the assessed value to find the taxes paid at the old rate and at the new rate.

Old rate taxes paid = .65 x (70,000/100)
Old tax = $455

New rate taxes paid= .77 x (70,000/100)
New tax = $539

To find out how much more the owner is paying, simply subtract the old rate from the new rate.

539 – 455= $84

So the homeowner will pay $84 more dollars in taxes next year.

[All credit goes to Kathleen Woodruff Wickham]


Written by juliasayers

April 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm

International Student Increase

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Why international students choose to study in the United States and the role they play in helping others to become global citizens

By Julia Sayers

A map in Bill Burress' office has red pins to represent where Elon University's international students are from.

Elon University has 49 different countries represented in its student population, with international students comprising three percent of the total enrollment.  In the past ten years, many schools, including Elon, have been seeking to diversify and globalize their campuses by recruiting more international students.

“We’re trying to be more representative of the world,” said Cheryl Borden, director of international admissions at Elon University. “It’s a lofty goal but it would benefit both students and faculty.”

Graphic courtesy of Open Doors

The number of international students in the United States has increased significantly since 1999.

In the past school year, 2009-2010, there was a 2.9 percent increase in international students in the U.S. over the previous year, from 671,616 to 690,923 students. This trend is expected to grow steadily. These increased numbers come as a result of U.S. colleges attempting to diversify their campuses and the students’ desire for higher education.

Lions on the back porch — Overcoming stereotypes

As part of the Elon University Commitment and 10-year strategic plan, Elon leaders say they hope to provide a global experience for all students, even while they are on campus.

“You hear the phrase ‘global citizenship’, and you can achieve this with study abroad, learning about new languages and religions, and having students go out in the world. But why not have that in day-to-day experiences?” Borden asked.

Toorialey Fazly, an Elon freshman from Kabul, Afghanistan, recognizes these day-to-day experiences are an important part of college life.

            “The international students are contributing a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill to the system,” Fazly said. “They do this in formal ways through research, in class and in organizations, and informally as promoting awareness, having discussions in dining halls, parties and the library.”

Borden says celebrating and understanding global diversity includes having people from various cultures, backgrounds and religions on campus.

“Not only does it make our students well prepared for the world, but it educates staff and makes people more tolerant and aware of differences,” Borden said.

François Masuka, director of international student services at Elon University, says it’s good that Elon is trying to increase the number of students, but this shouldn’t be the end goal.

“The goal is to take advantage of every encounter you have,” Masuka said. “To learn and teach what each country has to offer, culturally, politically and economically. When we interact, we open the doors for each other to see what the other culture has to offer, and you respect them for that.”

Bill Burress, international programs advisor at Elon, says seeing what other cultures have to offer will help students to see similarities between each other.

“The presence of students from foreign countries helps us to realize most people have the same goals and similar values, like hard work, family, good education,” Burress said. “It’s humanizing the other culture, making alien cultures have a face. It also helps the foreign students put a face to those in the United States, instead of knowing us only by our government policy.”

Many people have stereotypes of what different cultures are like, but when they actually meet someone from that culture, their views are changed.

“It’s funny to hear some of the questions the international students get asked,” Burress said. “People will ask the African students things like ‘Do you have lions on your back porch?’ They find out that their lives aren’t really that much different than their own.”

Elon’s international students also recognize the role they play in helping other students to become global citizens.

“So far I have seen that international students are providing first hand information for most domestic students on issues that can not be found out through media or online resources,” Fazly said. “It definitely contributes to the knowledge of domestic students in being global citizens.”

Burress also says these first-hand accounts are vital to learning.

“Any time you have someone in class discussing something like the Arab conflict, it’s always better to have a first-hand source of information,” Burress said. “You can read in a book about it all you want, but having someone who has lived there all their life and can say ‘this is the way it is from my perspective’ is so much better.”

The nature of the current times is also an influential factor of the increase in international students, Masuka says.

“We’re living in an age that’s challenging any notion of boundaries, countries, economic, political, linguistic and social barriers,” he explained. “Technology changes things and the world is flatter than it has ever been, so it only makes sense that we have peoples from different countries and cultures.”

Draws of the United States education system

One of the reasons Fazly, age 26, came to the United States was because of the lack of institutional leadership in Afghanistan. He said many students come to the United States for school because of the richness of the education system.

“In Afghanistan, there is a lack of equipment and resources in the educational systems,” Fazly said. “There is a lot of information for research for students here. I can come up with any question and no matter what it is, the answer is easy to find. Back home it’s very different because of the lack of resources.”

            Many students say the reputation of the education system in the United States is the reason for the increase in international interest.

“The education system is obviously the best in the world,” said Marzia Faraz, also from Kabul, Afghanistan. “If you have a degree from a university in the United States, it means a lot when you go to get a job.”

Borden has similar views.

“For many years, the U.S. has been the premier destination to obtain a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree,” Borden said. “Other countries in the last few years have started to more actively recruit international students, but what helps the U.S. is the diversity of schools it has to offer students.”

This diversity refers to the size of the schools, the region and the majors and degrees offered. Beth Pryor, an employee of Student Recruitment Media in the United Kingdom, a company focused on international students and students interested in studying internationally, says that the broadness and diversity of the education system in the United States is one of the main draws for students.

“The U.S. is thought to be harder because you have to take so many more classes, whereas in the United Kingdom you literally take your degree subject and that’s it,” Pryor said. “People who want a broader education may choose the United States.”

            The options for a diverse and broad education also factor into students’ desire for new experiences. Chris Spalding, an Elon senior from Costa Rica, wanted to do something different than his friends.

“I always knew coming to the United States would be better than staying home and seeing the same friends and doing the same things,” Spalding said. “A lot more people are wanting to have a different experience than what they know and the United States seems like a great place to do it.”

Students can choose to go to schools in big cities such as New York or Los Angeles or schools in small towns, like Elon. Teri Horn, an Elon student from Bangkok, Thailand, explained that most international students only know of the big-name schools in the United States.

“The thing that’s hard about being international is that the schools we know about in the U.S. are like Yale, San Diego, the big name schools,” Horn said. “I had no idea about Duke or Chapel Hill. We only know of small schools through what comes to us. It’s really how the information gets to us, and Elon is great with that.”

The Recruitment Process

North Carolina is ranked number 17 out of all 50 states in the amount of international students enrolled. According to the Open Doors data report for 2010, North Carolina State University had the highest international population, with a total of 3,262 students out of a total enrollment of 34,376. The leading places of origin for foreign students in North Carolina are China (at 20.4 percent), India, South Korea, Canada and Taiwan. The institution with the highest number of international students in the United States is the University of Southern California.

Elon University’s number of international students has grown throughout the years. These numbers have increased from 37 students in the 1997-1998 school year to 120 students in 2009-2010, a 224 percent increase.

Elon admissions counselors focus their recruitment in specific regions of Asia, Europe, Central America, Latin American and the Middle East. To help choose which areas to focus on, they use Open Doors data reports, part of the Institute of International Education, to track where international students are coming from and what the top countries are regionally. Other strategies are to look at where students currently at Elon are from and where alumni are from.

Borden and her colleagues travel in groups with other schools to recruit students from foreign countries. They hold college fairs where they meet students and discuss their programs and contact schools in particular cities that they have had students from or schools known as good places at which to recruit students. Part of the reason Elon is successful in recruiting internationally is its active involvement with organizations that support international student recruitment such as NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling, which promotes international exchange.

Horn heard about Elon through one of the college fairs the school held and then was contacted afterward by an admissions counselor.

“I got a lot of personal attention, which was nice,” Horn said. “The counselor would e-mail me to see how things were going, and if I needed anything I would e-mail him specifically and he would e-mail me back right away.”

Duke University, ranked second highest in North Carolina for the number of international students, has a similar recruiting process to Elon in that counselors travel to international high schools and keep in contact with students. In 2010, Duke had 2,325 international students enrolled, according to the Open Doors data report for North Carolina. Anne Sjostrom, associate director of undergraduate admissions and director of international admissions at Duke, says one of best ways to recruit international students is to bring a personal aspect to the process.

“We try to give every applicant as much personal attention as possible by keeping up correspondence,” Sjostrom said. “Personalization is really important. It’s a human process, and without that contact the student could feel anonymous.”

Another resource for recruitment is the leaders from all over the world who travel to universities to speak.

“I was referred to Elon by our embassy in D.C. because our political counselor, Ashraf Haidari, had been invited to give a speech at Elon,” Fazly said. “He had been briefed by Elon’s president and had information on majors they offered and other information that was given to me when I contacted the embassy.”

Fazly says that schools could recruit even more students if they took advantage of the United States embassies in other countries.

“Prior to my arrival, it was hard to find anyone who knew about Elon,” Fazly said. “One of the easiest ways would be to go through the U.S. government. The U.S. has embassies in different countries, and those embassies have educational programs for citizens seeking information. If Elon has an information packet or campaign to share with them, that would help to put its name out there.”

However, not all schools are trying to increase their international population simply to have a higher percentage.

“We’re not necessarily trying to recruit more international students at Duke,” Sjostrom said. “We’re not led by a particular percentage. The number we’ll have in the future depends on compelling applications. We’re just eager to have the best and broadest selection of students we can have.”

The Duke international population is not evenly distributed, with more students in the freshman and sophomore classes. International students make up 12 percent of the class of 2014 at Duke.

“I’m really pleased with the size of our international class this year, and if we could stabilize at that level, I think it would be great,” Sjostrom said.

How do international students continue to affect Americans even after graduation?

            Attending a globally diverse school is not only effective in helping students to become global citizens but also in sparking a desire to see more of the world and learn about other cultures.

“If you have a friend from France, you are more likely to be interested in going to France,” Faraz said. “It makes you want to go there to see your friends and when they speak to each other, it makes you want to learn the language.”

Having students from all over the world interacting with American students can be a life changing experience.

“When you graduate you have a sense of what someone from Afghanistan thinks,” Masuka said. “You don’t go with the media and the stereotype it’s putting out there. You’ve met them, you’ve learned from them and you feel comfortable with them. Your life is changed forever.”

Written by juliasayers

April 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm

The Abridged Math Tools for Journalists: Wickham Briefing chpts. 1-4

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Math is something that most journalists tend to shy away from or avoid like the black plague. However, numbers are an important part of journalism and journalists must know how to figure out things like percents and statistics. There is a certain form to writing numbers in articles that must be learned. First of all, journalists should never use Roman numerals in place of Arabic numerals. When it comes to Arabic numbers, single digits (one through nine) should be spelled out but multiple digit numbers are kept in number form. When it comes to larger numbers, you should always round them off unless a specific number is needed. Never start a sentence with a numeral (spell it out), unless it is a date. Or just reword the sentence instead so a number doesn’t start it. Never include more than two or three numbers per paragraph. Be careful of which words to use for certain situations. For example, use over for spatial relationships and more than for amounts and figures.


Knowing how to figure out percentages is an incredibly important skill. To figure out percent increase or decrease, use the formula: (new figure – old figure) divided by old figure. Then with that number, you move the decimal two places to the right to turn it into a percent.

Example 1:

Elon University’s number of international students grew from 37 in 1997 to 120 in 2009. What is the percent increase?

120 – 37 = 83

83 / 37 = 2.24 = 224%

The number of students went up 224% percent.

Percentage of a whole is used to determine what part a specific group takes up of a whole group. Use the formula: subgroup / whole group. Move the decimal two places to the right. Percentage points can be figured out by subtracting the old figure from the new figure. Interest can be figured out by using: principal x rate x time (in years). Figuring out payments on loans gets a little more complicated. There are three things needed to calculate monthly payments: original loan amount (represented by P), interest rate (R) and term of the loan (N). The formula is: Monthly payment = [P x (1 =R)^N x R] / [(1 + R)^N -1]


Often times journalists will need to interpret studies and surveys, and being able to understand statistics is an important part of this. Finding the mean, median and mode are some of the most simple things to figure out. Mean is the average of all the figures, meaning you just add them up and divide by the total number of figures. The median is the number in the middle of a list of figures, lowest to highest. If there are an equal number of figures, take the two middles ones, add them, and divide by 2. Mode is the most frequent number that occurs in the set. Percentiles are also easy to figure out. A percentile score is based on a relationship with all other scores. To figure it out, take the number of people at or below a certain score and divide it by the number of test takers.

Example 2:

A student gets his media law midterm back and finds out that he received a score of 89. There are 35 students in the class who took the test, and his scores were higher than 20 of them. What is his percentile rank?

20 / 35 = 57th percentile

Standard deviation is something you will often come across in scientific reports, investment documents and other statistical reports. Standard deviation is how much a group of figures differs from the norm. Most journalists won’t have to compute standard deviation but there is a four step formula for doing so: 1. Subtract the mean from each score in the distribution. 2. Square the resulting number for each score. 3. Compute the mean for these numbers. This figure is called the variance. 4. Find the square root of the variance.

Probability is a common thing to figure, especially when it comes to lotto numbers, fatal illnesses and accidents. To show odds, you can divide total deaths by population or show deaths per 100,000 people. Formula = (Total deaths / total population) x 100,000.

Federal Statistics

Federal statistics are numbers from the government on things like unemployment, inflation, GDP, etc. Unemployment rate is the number of those in the labor force unemployed and currently looking for jobs. The labor force is anyone over the age of 16 who has had a job or has recently looked for one. To find unemployment rate, you take the number of unemployed people divided by the labor force, and then multiply that number by 100.

Example 3:

In a small town of 10,000 people, 300 are unemployed of a labor force of 7,000 people. What is the unemployment rate?

300 / 7000 = .0428

.0428 x 100 = 4.28% unemployment

Inflation is based on Consumer Price Index, which shows the amount of inflation per month for eight major product groups including food/beverages, housing, apparel, transportation and recreation. So to find inflation, use: (current CPI – prior month CPI) / prior month CPI x 100.

Example 4:

The CPI of October 2004 was 190.5. November CPI was 191.2. What is the inflation rate for November?

(191.2 – 190.5) / 190.5 x 100 = .367%

Gross Domestic Product is the value of goods and services produced by the nation’s economy. It can gauge the country’s economic situation. For example, when GDP is increasing, the economy is good. If it is decreasing, it often means the country is in a recession. Four things are added to calculate GDP: consumer spending on goods and services, investment spending, government spending, and next exports. Trade balance is simple and is calculated by exported goods minus imported goods.

[All credit goes to Kathleen Woodruff Wickham]

Written by juliasayers

April 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Media coverage of the royal wedding fuels America’s fairytale fascination

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Prince William and Kate Middleton will wed on April 29. Photo courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.

Who is designing Kate’s wedding dress? How will William’s family accept Kate as the next queen? Who will be in attendance at the wedding? Ever since the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton, the media has been plagued with these types of questions. The Royal Wedding has gotten just about as much coverage in America as it has in England. But why is this? Are Americans obsessed with royalty? Are we lacking in interesting celebrity news in our own country?

“The American public has a taste for the sensational, for the event, the spectacular and so on. Americans can enjoy the royal event at that level,” said Michael Frontani, associate professor of cinema at Elon University.

But why do the American news outlets feel the need to focus so heavily on a British event when there is plenty of news going on in America? This might be due to the fact that we have a historical tie to England.

“The interest derives in part from our shared histories,” Frontani said. “Undoubtedly, over the years, many Americans have demonstrated a largely fond fascination with royalty, and with British royalty in particular.”

Hayley Moll, an Elon student currently studying abroad in London, had a similar opinion.

“I think America is obsessed with the wedding because we’re obsessed with the Royal Family,” Moll said. “We don’t have one of our own, so we’re excited to follow the triumphs and failures of our parent country’s royals.”

Americans also love the idea of a fairy tale, and the classic tale of a prince falling in love with a simple girl makes for a fascinating story.

“One could also note the fairy tale aspect to it all,” Frontani said. “American mass media and its public consistently demonstrate a preference for the mass spectacle such a fairy tale would require.”

However, the coverage of the wedding has different implications for Britain than it does for America.

“British people have to contend with an aspect that Americans don’t- how does one feel about this relic of the past, tainted as it is with notions of divine right?” Frontani said. “For Americans – who cares? It’s not our government and it makes for a good show and run of newspapers, magazines, 24-hour news, and so forth. For Brits, it is much more a political and ideological question.”

This is not to say that the British media isn’t covering the lighter stuff on the wedding.

“There’s not an overly crazy amount of coverage, but I’d say it’s pretty similar to the type of coverage Americans give to actors’ weddings,” Moll said. “There’s something in the paper every day about it. Nothing big, but little fun facts like what her dress is, who’s going, etc.”

With the wedding less than two weeks away, preparations in London have been in full swing. Moll said a stage viewing has been built near Buckingham Palace, parts of the palace have been roped off and Westminster Abbey and the area around it has been cleaned up.

“It seems that they’re generally doing a lot of stuff to make everything look good for the press and the public who won’t actually be able to make it the wedding,” Moll said.

So are Elon students studying in London going to the wedding?

“My flatmates have all been following the wedding pretty closely and are super excited. We’re all planning on going to the wedding, maybe even camping out so that we can get a good spot to see the procession,” Moll said. “If anything, I’d say we’re probably more excited than the Brits.”

Written by juliasayers

April 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Tips from Keren Rivas

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Keren Rivas, who previously worked as a reporter for the Burlington Times-News, gave tips on court and crime reporting to Janna Anderson’s class, Reporting for the Public Good.

Crime reporting is not something every reporter wants to do, but it can actually be quite exciting.

“If given the chance, this is a beat you want to do because it’s always different,” Rivas said. “There are murders, scandals, financial theft, etc.”

Rivas gave tips for both finding and writing stories.

Finding stories:

  • Police scanners are a good source of information but are not always accurate so make sure you fact check before publishing anything. Don’t publish names of suspects until they are confirmed. It could be very damaging to their reputation if it is false. Speak to officials to find out facts. You are more likely to get information if you can present what information you already have and ask if it is true.
  • Court records are a great resource to find civil filings (lawsuits, divorces, claims) and criminal files (arrest warrants, search warrants, motions, affidavits).
  • Property transactions can be found online.
  • Federal records can be found at a federal courthouse or sometimes online.
Writing stories:
  • Do not “convict” a person in your writing. This means not calling the suspect a murderer, rapist, robber, etc. Instead use terms like allegedly, accused of, police contend, etc.
  • Similarly, do not use the term “victim.” The person is not a victim until the suspect is convicted.
  • Avoid police jargon. For example, do not use “the car was black in color.” Say “a black car.” Police speak differently and do not use that type of speech in your writing.
  • Find patterns in data
  • Be compassionate. Build relationships with people and they will trust you.
Other things to remember:
  • Get to know officers, clerks, lawyers. They can be great sources of information and helpful when you need to find resources.
  • Develop sources.
  • Always go to the scene, be polite, ask questions but respect privacy.
  • Know police rank insignias.
  • Be thick skinned.

Written by juliasayers

April 15, 2011 at 11:49 am

America’s Best Newspaper Writing – The Classics

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The classics of journalism are the stories that set the bar for the journalism we have today. Beginning in the late 19th century, journalism started change. People started writing exposes, advocating for changes and “muckraking.” The best journalists of this era were extremely ahead of their time. They had a passion for their craft and knew how to take their time on stories. Most of these reporters directly involved themselves in their stories. They went undercover, they marched with troops in a war, they formed connections with people. Reporters like Ernie Pyle became beloved reporter. Pyle marched with the American troops in World War II (and was eventually killed in Japan) and wrote about the small details that made the war real. He formed a connection with the soldiers around him and was able to provide heart-wrenching stories filled with details about the lives of the soldiers. Many writers of this time focused on the corruption of giant corporations and politicians. Dorothy Thompson was one of the many writers who believed that journalists  had a role to “nurture citizens in critical literacy, and keep them free, empowered and protected from the forces of tyranny and corruption.” Other writers like Richard Wright, Marvel Cooke and Gene Patterson advocated for racial changes. They encouraged people to reject racism and accept blacks into society. However, these weren’t the only great muckrakers, advocates, and investigative journalists.

One of my personal favorites was Nellie Bly, also known as Elizabeth “Pink” Cochran. She started as a journalist in Pittsburgh but then moved to New York City for more action. She wanted to work for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper The World, so he gave her a challenge to see if she was capable. She would have to go undercover as mentally insane and be admitted to Blackwell Island asylum for an investigative story. She took on the challenge and spent 10 days in the horrible conditions and wrote an amazing story about it. She became famous for her “stunt journalism,” which included a challenge to make it around the world in less than 80 days (which she succeeded in).

Another classic investigative journalist was Ida Tarbell, who wrote an 18 part expose on Standard Oil Company. She exposed John Rockefeller and his company for their corruption. She was part of S.S. McClure’s trio of investigative journalists for McClure’s magazine.

Ray Stannard Baker, also part of McClure’s trio did an expose series on corruption in the railroad industry.  He suggested that the nations privately owned public-service sector was employing promoters, high pressure tactics, and the press to make corrupt business practices acceptable to the public via the media. The railroads were using the media to influence public opinion.

A famous war journalist was Richard Harding Davis. He was involved in the yellow journalism movement and the war in Cuba. One of his most famous stories had the headline “Davis and Remington Tell of Spanish Cruelty” and gives a detailed description of the execution of a Cuban freedom fighter.  Davis describes everything from the march in to the man’s head snapping back “as he fell motionless to the ground.”

A good example of a class advocacy journalist is Ida B. Wells. She fought against racism by exposing the horrible treatment of blacks. She wrote an article entitled “The Truth about Lynching” which filled the entire first page of the largest African-American newspaper in the 1890s. In her article he says “Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning.” This article was also published in pamphlet form and distributed to the masses.

Written by juliasayers

April 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Student injured at Greek Week Dance

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The student was wheeled out to an ambulance on Haggard Ave.

Elon University student J.P. Saidnawey was injured around 9 p.m. April 13 during a dance routine at the annual Greek Week Dance.

Saidnawey, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, was thrown into the air as part of the routine but fell nearly ten feet.

EMS rushed to the scene and the student was wheeled out on a stretcher.

He has a fractured wrist but is recovering well.

More details to come.

Written by juliasayers

April 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm