Fresh Start – where to next?

FeaturedFresh Start – where to next?

Two. Two more classes. Two more summer classes separate me from completing my master’s degree in Emerging Media Studies. My program at Boston University began on Sept. 2, 2015 and it has been a whirlwind ever since. To think that I’m already graduating this Friday, May 13th, is both exciting and daunting! Have I learned everything I needed to learn to secure the kind of job placement I’m hoping for? The answer is no.20160508_234115

But the answer should be no. Why, you ask? Because I’m constantly learning new things every day. And that is precisely why I chose to study emerging media. The only constant in the media world is change…which is also daunting, but oh so very exciting.

Having worked for The Walt Disney Company, I have high expectations for my future workplace. I was and am very proud to have worked for the Mouse and it is still tough to think that I may not return to work there again anytime soon. BUT, for now, Boston is my home. I love it here and feel extremely lucky to call this my city. Soon, though, I will be a free agent, which means it’s time to really put myself out there and find my dream job. Or just a job. “Gotta start somewhere,” as they say, right? Well, kind of…

You see, after losing my Mom to pancreatic cancer and moving to MA to start anew, I decided that life is too short for mediocrity. I don’t want to just work anywhere. And, as corny as it sounds, I want to make a mark on this world we live in. I want to make an impact, a significant difference, wherever I do end up going.

I have more passion than I know what to do with. I love to know things and that will never change. I love to write, listen, create, think, brainstorm, fix things, problem-solve, tweet, snapchat, gram my life away and # EVERYTHING (but really, though). Most of all, I love to EXPLORE.

Before my graduate program, I considered myself a journalist. A writer. A social media enthusiast and a storyteller. But now, I know I’ve evolved way beyond that. I’m still far from an expert in big data analysis, manual coding, social strategy, SPSS, R, data science, HTML, CSS, Qualtrics, survey-making, etc., but I got my hands dirty in all of it. I’ve spent the better part of the last eight months doing a lot of things that once intimidated me. As someone who has never felt good with numbers (hey, how many communications majors actually do?), I never saw myself even touching most of this stuff. But I’m so glad I did.

Now, I just have to find my place — somewhere that I can put all of these skills to good use. I’ve worked for one of the largest, most well-known and respected brands in the world. I’ve also worked for small newspapers and magazine startups. I’ve been coordinating my program’s Facebook and Twitter since October and I love to dive into all things social. I may still be too young to have 10 years of experience in anything, but I am a hard worker.

So…the goal = stay in Boston. Find a job. But not just any job — find a new home. A place that I’m excited to go to day in and day out, because I do believe that exists and I won’t stop or give up until I find it.

If you’re reading this and you’re hiring in the Boston area, please connect with me (! Or even if you just have some advice to offer, leave or comment or let’s chat over coffee! I’m open to all opportunities, I’m excited and I’m ready to go!





On June 1, I moved to the city of Boston. After many months of searching for a place to call home, I finally found where I was meant to be. It’s only been three weeks, but I have definitely fallen for this city.

It’s taking some time to adjust to the many differences of living in a major city versus the small-ish rural-ish town of Lutz, Florida, but I’m embracing every moment of it. To put it simply, Boston is magical. And that’s a lot coming from a girl who spent the last few years living and working at the most magical place on Earth.

My master’s program at BU doesn’t begin until Sept. 2, and my goal is to try and accomplish as much as I can between now and then (on a twentysomething’s budget of course). So follow my journey using #BeccaTakesBoston and please let me know if you have any recommendations on must-see, must-do things in this town!


All that was me is gone

This time last year I was an ambassador for the 2013 IAAPA Convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. I was also finishing a year-long professional internship with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts in Kissimmee, Florida. I had a healthy Mom, a healthy Dad, a boyfriend I saw a future with and the world at my fingertips.

Today, I have no more Mom, a Dad in the process of finishing chemotherapy, no more boyfriend and still the world at my fingertips.

In fewer than 365 days, my life completely and utterly changed its course…which is difficult for someone who prides herself on usually having things fairly put together.


On March 21, my Mom had a procedure done that ended in a doctor telling me he was 99 percent sure she had pancreatic cancer…and unfortunately he was right. The moment he told me, in the middle of a busy hospital hallway, was the moment I began mourning the loss of the woman who brought me into this world.

Cancer is a beast. It affects every single human being in one way or another. But pancreatic cancer is different. It’s super aggressive. It took away Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and my Mother way too soon (she was only 54 years old). It has a 6% survival rate, which hasn’t risen in the last 40 years. And by the time someone experiences symptoms of this cancer, it is more often than not, way too late.

So by the time my mom had jaundice (when your skin turns yellow because bile isn’t being processed normally), the tumor in the head of her pancreas was nearing 1-inch in size. Most people do not even know where their pancreas is located, but it is responsible for many critical functions in the body.

My Mom’s first appointment to Moffitt Cancer Center was on April 1st. Three rounds of chemo and five days of radiation later, we were pushing towards a surgery date of Aug. 8. The Whipple surgery would potentially save my Mom’s life and give her at the least a 5-year survival rate.

The big day came and as soon as the surgeon placed her tiny, delicate hands into my Mom’s abdomen, she discovered several tiny tumors – peritoneal carcinomatosis – the cancer had metastasized. And it was on this day that I had to accept that my Mother would most likely not live long enough to see me get married or have children.

Fast forward to Sept. 11 – a day that is difficult enough to get through already – and we were back at the hospital because my Mom’s breathing was labored and we knew things weren’t right. In the back our minds, we figured the cancer had most likely spread to her lungs, but we continued to deny those thoughts and decided we would continue to think as positively as we could.

But cancer doesn’t care who you are or how positive your outlook is. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. And it had indeed spread to her lungs. Fluid began to fill up on one side and she ended up having it drained on a few different occasions. But we still refused to believe this was the end.

My Mom still had so much to do in her life. She had a good job, she was finishing her bachelor’s degree in business management…she also had goals to lose weight, but the cancer was already taking care of that and then some.

Having lost 85+ pounds in a matter of months, my mother no longer looked like the woman I knew. And even when she could eat, she still continued to lose weight. Seeing someone shrink away before your eyes is something I would never wish on anyone. By the end of September, I knew things had progressed too far. At this point, more chemo and pain management were the only options left. But, the pain was barely being managed and the chemo just caused more pain.


My Mom was never afraid of death. Don’t get me wrong – she gave 110 percent and then some…but by the end of the first week of October, I could tell she was ready to go. Her best friend had come down to visit her from Connecticut and she had all of her loved ones around her. She had made her peace and was ready to be done with it all. The chemo. The pain. The constant struggle. And how could I argue with her at this point?

My Mom lost her Mom at the tender age of 21. She knew what it was to lose a Mother way too soon and I think that played a huge role in how she raised me and we made sure that nothing would go unsaid by the time she could no longer speak.

And that time came by the second week of October. It was then that Hospice care was called to our house. But even with Hospice, my aunt and I were sharing the responsibility of administering liquid morphine every two hours by syringe. It was then that I decided in my heart that this was no way to live and I had to come to terms that it was time to let go.

Late at night on Oct. 15, my Mom took her last breath. It wasn’t until the Boston Bruins won in OT that she left us, though. One month later and it’s still so surreal.



Meanwhile, back in June, my Dad had an MRI for some stomach pain he had been experiencing. It was then that doctors decided he would have his gallbladder removed, which is a fairly common operation. We humans can survive without this organ.

But, during the surgery, a mass was discovered within the gallbladder that was cancerous. So the surgeon not only removed his gallbladder, but the surrounding lymph nodes and a small slice of his liver. And he’s had chemo once a week, almost every week since. And he might have to have radiation as well. But, thankfully, his journey has been no where near as life-changing as my mother’s.

Did I mention they’re divorced and I’m an only child? So, yeah, having both parents diagnosed with cancer in the same year, only to be treated in the same exact hospital that is located on your college campus is a very strange way to live. Perhaps I should play the lottery or something.


I’ll spare you the details of my break-up, especially since that happened first, but I’m sure I’ll feel the need to write down my thoughts on that tale at some point, too. But the purpose of this blog is this:

Last year, I saw life in one way and today I’ve been forced to see it completely differently. SO much has changed. I’m 26 years old and I have absolutely no idea what tomorrow holds. And while so much of my life is out of my control, I have learned the hard way that I am at least somewhat in control of where it is going. My hope and faith in people, my will to carry on my Mom’s legacy, and most importantly my perspective is what continues to get me through. I can only hope that reading some of my story can help you put your life into perspective as well.

And if anything, my dreams and aspirations are just that much more within reach. Why? Because I have hit bottom. And life can only go up from here.


Dreamer. Doer. Always moving forward.

Writer. Journalist. Social Media Enthusiast. Storyteller.

Welcome! My name is Rebecca Forman and if you’re reading this, you interest me. I study mass communications because people are my passion and my quest for knowledge about the world and the people in it is never-ending.

I currently work for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment Internal Communications.

I have many aspirations and I am always researching and striving to learn new things. I am extremely detail-oriented and I listen more than I speak. I embrace individuality and enjoy making a positive impact wherever I go.

Want to know more? Check out my contact page to add me on social media! I’d love to hear from you!


VIDEO: Voices of Liberty add ‘Let it Go’ to repertoire

Just recently the Voices of Liberty added some new songs to their repertoire, including “Let it Go” from that little movie, Frozen.

This a cappella group is one my most favorite things to see while I’m at Epcot. They give my goosebumps goosebumps. They always nail their songs and they’re always mixing it up throughout the day so you’re never hearing the same song twice.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to be in the parks myself as of late, but thankfully Inside the Magic has posted video of them performing the new song:

If you’ve never seen this group, I highly recommend it. They can be found in the rotunda in the American Adventure pavilion. The rotunda is not only beautiful, but it enables the group to achieve the perfect sound.


Don’t miss out: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Muppets Most Wanted topiary.
Muppets Most Wanted topiary

Spring has officially sprung and one of the best places to enjoy the Florida sun is at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Now in its 21st year, the festival is better than ever because outdoor kitchens have been added, making it what I call—Food & Wine Festival with Plants.

All kidding aside, the park really is a sight to see. There are beautiful topiaries all around and everything is so vibrant.

Snow White outside of the Germany pavilion. Notice she even has a face this year!
Snow White outside of the Germany pavilion. Notice she even has a face this year!

There’s a butterfly garden and a Monsters University-inspired playground for the kids. There’s a festival center where talent from HGTV shows come and do talks and demos. There’s even special entertainment every weekend in what’s known as the Flower Power Concert Series…today through the weekend features The Lovin’ Spoonful, who you might know for such hits as “Summer in the City” and “Do You Believe in Magic.”

Now back to the FOOD. I’ve gone to the Festival a couple of times so far (I mean, I do work at Epcot right now after all) and I’ve been lucky enough to try out quite a few of the options.

Temaki chicken hand roll in Japan! Very yummy and quite the portion!
Temaki chicken hand roll in Japan! Very yummy and quite the portion!
Fruit sushi or Frushi in Japan.
Fruit sushi or Frushi in Japan.
Potato & cheddar cheese biscuit with salmon tartare from the Buttercup Cottage in the UK pavilion.
Potato & cheddar cheese biscuit with salmon tartare from the Buttercup Cottage in the UK pavilion.
Three cheese manicotti from Italy.
Three cheese manicotti from Italy.
This gnocchi from France is one of my favorites!
This gnocchi from France is one of my favorites!
Baghrir, a tasy pancake with almonds and honey, from Morocco.
Baghrir, a tasty pancake with almonds and honey, from Morocco.
Beijing-style candied strawberries from China.
Beijing-style candied strawberries from China.

And the award for most interesting offering goes to…

Piggylicious bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunchies on top. I dare you to try it!
Piggylicious bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunchies on top. I dare you to try it!

I obviously tried all of these on different days, and shared with friends, so by no means do you have to try all of it at once. In fact, that’s the best part of these festivals…they’re included in your admission and you can participate as much or as little as you want!

So go celebrate what spring has to offer and head on over to this fun event…you’ve got until May 18!

*All of these photos (and more) can be found on my Instagram page, @rebeccajforman!


ABC’s ‘The Middle’ films episode at EPCOT

One of the coolest things about being at Walt Disney World Resort is you never know what or who you’re going to see. With 47-squares miles, there is always something going on.

Today, ABC’s family comedy “The Middle” is filming an episode in Epcot. And even if you weren’t a Guest in the park, you can still check it all out thanks to social media.

Shared by @RamblingKite
Shared by @RamblingKite
Shared by @kaylaferris
Shared by @kaylaferris
Shared by @lizmclean14
Shared by @lizmclean14
Shared by @BazTastic77
Shared by @brihealy
Shared by @brihealy

As a Disney Cast Member, I had the chance to look over the production schedule. And while such information is confidential, I can say that it’s truly amazing that such a huge crew can film a television show without interrupting and interfering with the daily operation.

I’m not exactly sure when this episode will air, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for it!


Awwww: Firefighters sing ‘Let it Go’ while rescuing family from elevator

From WHDH News Boston:

READING, Mass. (WHDH) – Firefighters in Reading were called upon to rescue a family of three from an elevator, but more than the rescue it’s their singing that’s getting attention.

Four-year-old Kaelyn Kerr was stuck in the elevator with her mother and brother after a visit to the salon.

“As we approached the second floor the elevator stopped, we pressed every button known to man, nothing happened, we tried to push through the door and it was stopped,” Kaelyn’s mother Kristin Kerr said.

Firefighters lowered a ladder in, but Kaelyn was too scared to climb up, that’s when one firefighter asked what her favorite movie was and she said Frozen, the popular Disney movie.

They weren’t just familiar with the movie, but one of the firefighters actually had the Oscar winning song ‘Let it Go’ on his cell phone.

“He pulled out his phone and on his phone was the song ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen. He put it on and they all started singing to her,” Kerr said.

“I just started singing and grabbed my phone, because you know, I’m sure she didn’t want to hear me singing the entire time,” Scott Myette said.

After the song Kaelyn was more comfortable climbing up the ladder and out from the elevator.

“I don’t think it’s anything different than what anyone else would have done. Whether they sang or you know, distract with a little stuffed animal, I think it’s probably along those lines,” John Keough said.
The firefighters said they are glad everything worked out in the end.

Kerr said she was relieved they were out, entertained by the firefighters’ show and impressed with their singing voices.

Now I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a teeny tiny bit tired of Adele Nazeem’s hit, “Let it Go.” I’ve been listening to the song for months—the movie version, in live performance, parodies and so on. The song even plays multiple times a day on my office radio station. But when I saw this story, I just HAD to share.

I’m always amazed at how Disney and Disney movies can tie in to everyday life and touch so many different people. I was lucky enough to see the movie before it was released and I just knew the song would be a hit. It’s so powerful and Idina Menzel is just the perfect powerhouse artist for this now iconic song.

Do you have a favorite “Let it Go” rendition? Below are a few of my favorites:

Here it is in 25 different languages. I’m really hoping to learn the song in Mandarin!

I first watched this video when it only had a little more than 10,000 views. Now it has nearly nine million. (His Pooh Bear is my favorite part.)

And the African tribal version. I still can’t believe the girl is only 11 years old!


VIDEO: Disney Cruise Line announces new itineraries and ports for 2015

Today, Disney Cruise Line announced new itineraries and ports for 2015:

  • Norwegian Fjord sailings —a first for Disney Cruise Line—with stops in Norway’s fjord region, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Guests can experience the part of the world that inspired the Disney animated film Frozen
  • Northern Europe cruises, including Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland—as well as Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg
  • Mediterranean sailings that visit popular ports of call, like Naples
  • Alaskan
  • Eastern Caribbean destinations, featuring stops at tropical islands like St. Maarten, St Thomas and Castaway Cay—Disney’s private island
  • Western Caribbean cruises to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Castaway Cay
  • Bahamian itineraries departing from Port Canaveral, Fla. and Miami, Fla.
  • A Panama Canal crossing
  • A transatlantic sailing

Sooooo, I’ve never been on a cruise. But it’s definitely on my bucket list. And, if I had to guess, my first cruise will most likely be with Disney.

I mean, not only has Disney Cruise Line been ranked No. 1 for the past five consecutive years, but as a Disney Cast Member, I get a not too shabby discount. And I have a much better chance of not having to poop in a bag during my trip. Yes, I’m talking to you, Carnival.

I think if I had to choose from the list, I’d pick the Norway itinerary. Who wouldn’t want to see a fjord? I’ve always wanted to go to Norway, especially since I discovered a relative of mine emigrated from Norway in the late 1880s. AND the trip goes to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, which also look absolutely amazing. Not that the Bahamas don’t sound great and all, but this trips sounds much more interesting. Ahhh, let the daydreaming commence.

Have you been on a cruise? Any good stories or recommendations?


NBD: Disney buying Maker Studios for $500 million, could reach $950 million

From Bloomberg:

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) agreed to buy Maker Studios, a supplier of online video content to YouTube, for $500 million, gaining technology and experience with short-form entertainment.

Disney also agreed to pay as much as $450 million more if Maker Studios meets “strong” performance targets, the Burbank, California-based company said today in a statement. That could boost the total to $950 million.

With Maker Studios, Disney is following DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. into an online video business with expanding audiences and little profit. DreamWorks Animation, producer of the “Shrek” movies, bought AwesomenessTV, a smaller competitor of Maker Studios, for $33 million plus as much as $84 million in incentives last year. The online outlets could help media companies build awareness for films and TV shows.

“Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the center of this dynamic industry with an unmatched combination of advanced technology and programming expertise and capabilities,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

With more than 55,000 channels, 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views a month on Google Inc.’s YouTube, Culver City, California-based Maker has established itself as one of the top online video networks for young audiences, Disney said.

Buying Again

“There is a lot of good happening in digital video networks,” Mike Vorhaus, a technology consultant at Magid Advisors, said in an interview. “There are a ton of eyeballs and the content isn’t expensive to produce. There just hasn’t been a lot of meaningful profit yet.”

The acquisition is one of the biggest for Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, since the $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012. In the online space, Maker could potentially exceed the $563.2 million Disney spent in 2010 on mobile game maker Playdom. Disney paid $350 million in 2007 for Club Penguin online world.

Disney rose 0.6 percent to $79.98 in extended trading after the deal was announced. The stock fell 1.1 percent to $79.49 at the close in New York and gained 4 percent this year.

Maker Studios reports to Jay Rasulo, Disney’s chief financial officer, according to the statement. The online company was founded in 2009, according to a regulatory filing.

Disney had $4.4 billion in cash at the end of September, according to regulatory filings.


You may not recognize Maker Studios buy its name, but you most likely know the popular YouTubers behind this now very wealthy company. Maker Studios was founded by Ben Donovan, Danny Zappin, Scott Katz, Lisa Donovan, Shay Carl ButlerPhillip DeFrancoKassem Gharaibeh and Derek S. Jones.

Honestly, I didn’t even know about Maker Studios. As someone who has been a member of the YouTube community since 2006, I’m really excited for the people behind this deal. And I’m excited for Disney.

To give some kind of comparison to try to understand just how much money this is – Disney’s Frozen recently became a billion-dollar franchise. Any way you slice this deal, that’s a lot of zeroes.

As a Disney Cast Member, I can definitely understand the acquisition. I feel The Walt Disney Company really wants to keep up with the times and evolve alongside technology. The public may not always agree with this sentiment, which is understandable. But I think the loyal fans of this site can rest assured that Disney doesn’t want to change anything about Maker Studios. It’s obviously doing pretty well for itself already…

What do you think of this deal?


Beware of Referral Key

So when you’re in the process of looking for employment opportunities, you tend to pay a bit more attention to emails and your LinkedIn profile.

On Feb. 11, I received an odd email from one of my LinkedIn contacts about what sounded like a lead to possible work. Since it was from someone I knew on LinkedIn, I trusted the link and opened it.

Note: I removed the sender’s name and business.

To read the entire message, you need to join the site, Referral Key, which as we all know only takes a few seconds to do. The message itself included this YouTube video, which instructs the user on how to export their LinkedIn contacts to their profile.

However, the video does not inform you that completing the process will email ALL OF YOUR LINKEDIN CONTACTS.

For someone who has 730+ LinkedIn contacts, that created quite the mess. I’ve already had to email countless friends and colleagues who messaged me to see if I had been hacked. (Apologies if you were one of them…)

Mashable endorsement?
Mashable endorsement?

So was I hacked? Technically, no. Apparently this site is real. I’m still having difficulty figuring out what its exact uses are, though. All I know, is that a few clicks can easily damage your reputation, so I advise you NOT to join this site.

The same exact thing happened to poor Cathy Miller…”How Referral Key’s Spammy Practice Embarrassed Pollyanna.” AND this article is another one I wish I would’ve read before this happened – it would have saved me a ton of grief.

Needless to say, I have already emailed the site and deleted my account. I also messaged the contact who initially invited me to the site.

Have you heard of this website? Has the same thing happened to you? I’d love to hear about it. Definitely NOT how I intended to spend my Wednesday afternoon…

*Update (2/13/14)*

It appears the site has removed the “Contact Page,” which is where I sent my complaint. Instead, they now have a “Support” page, which gives a quasi-FAQ. It conveniently has buried the fine print that the user is “100% responsible” for how they use the site. However, none of this verbiage was even on the site before. And, not surprisingly, I haven’t heard anything back from them.


Help! My car is rotting: How Toyota failed me


10/11/2014 I am getting more and more comments and I continue to see these cars everywhere I go. Please LIKE this Facebook page I created and perhaps we can finally get this the attention it deserves!

Nov. 7, 2013 – 6 p.m.

Let me start off by saying that I should’ve written this more than a year ago…

My car: 2006 Blue Toyota Corolla

Mileage: Just hit 70,000 miles

Past issues: None – I’ve never missed a service.

I just got off the phone with Toyota. Again. Every single time I get off of the phone with them I’m left with the same story: “We’re sorry Ms. Forman, but your vehicle falls outside of the 3-year, 36,000 mile warranty. There is nothing we can do for you at this time.”

The problem I have with that statement, is that the issue I’m having didn’t start until long after the warranty ended.

See, a little over a year ago, I noticed an odd discoloration on the roof of my car. First it was just a patch. And then it was two patches. And then it spread. Like a disease. My car looks like it has a disease. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Note: I took these photos about an hour ago…



The disease is spreading…

So what do you do when you have a problem? You Google it. And when you google this problem, a plethora of results emerge:

Check it out:

  4. Look at poor Judy! (hers is a 2010) 
  5. And so on and so forth…

Naturally, I took my car in to my trusted dealership, Toyota of Tampa Bay, and they gave me a repair estimate of $1,200 (this was before it spread). I was told this wasn’t just a regular paint job and that they would need my car for up to four days. “Would this be something you would like to do?” they asked me.

I’m sorry. But at the time, I had final exams and obviously did not have an extra grand lying around that I could use to fix something that wasn’t even close to being my fault in the first place.

Several estimates and auto mechanics later, I’m being told the same thing: the paint on your vehicle was applied incorrectly. But Toyota doesn’t want to hear any of that.

The mechanic I saw in June (and just got off of the phone with) told me that I should just trade my car in. “At this point, just get rid of it,” he told me.

Really, Toyota? That’s it? Oh yeah, because I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of $$ for my trade-in with it looking like that. Even though, otherwise, my car is in better-than-great condition.

I know this site does not get a ton of views, and to Toyota, I’m just one person, with one car. But I know I’m not alone. I’ve walked up to strangers, probably 15+ as a matter of fact, who have the same problem with their Toyota. I saw one this very afternoon.

I know the easy thing to do is to just give up. Get a new car. Because that’s just so easy (my car is paid off and I like not having the expense of a monthly car payment).

So please. If you’re reading this, and have the same problem, or know someone who does…please leave a comment. Share this even. I’d like to not completely lose my faith in customer service.


When things fall into place: #EIJ13

Last September, I attended Excellence in Journalism 2012 #EIJ12 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I’m from Florida so it made sense to go. My SPJ chapter went as a group and made the four-hour trek south to the convention. It was definitely a new experience and certainly a rewarding one. I mean, how often do journalists from all across the nation come together for a weekend in the name of all things journalism?

But, as much fun as it was, I figured I probably wouldn’t get the chance to attend again anytime soon. I knew the location changed every year and I assumed next year’s event would probably be on the other side of the country. And I was right.

However, this past January I began working for The Walt Disney Company, which led to me having roommates. One of my roommates, the one I shared a room with, is from the Los Angeles area. This past April, said roomie invited me to go home with her to California — which ended up being my very first trip to Cali! Fast forward a few months later to find out that not only is this year’s convention IN California, but it’s being held across. the. street. from. DISNEYLAND. Really? What are the chances?

So, four months later and I am preparing for a journey out west once again. Isn’t it funny how life works out sometimes? It is truly remarkable how seemingly little choices and decisions can affect other aspects of your future. It’s fascinating to reflect on the little web that is your life and the zillion degrees of separation that form and intertwine from within it.

So, here is what I’m looking forward to:

  1. IN-N-OUT (Hey, at least I’m being honest here.)
  2. Yes, journalism. Of course. It’s always fun to be in a room with other crazy newsies.
  3. Being reunited with my roomie!
  4. Cali weather & landscape (a.k.a. me staring out of the window the entire flight with my jaw to the floor from seeing land that isn’t flat. I still love ya, Florida…)
  5. DISNEYLAND – #DUH. I mean, I’ve only spent one day out of my entire life in this resort, so there is SO much more for me to see and explore. Funny sidenote: the convention is giving each participant two free park hopper tickets. OF COURSE THEY ARE…now that I can get myself in no problem. See, life wins again.
  6. Seeing Jason Mraz in concert on Labor Day. That’ll be one off the bucket list.
  7. The culture & languages – I can practice my Mandarin AND my Spanish all in the same day!
  8. Being somewhere else.
  9. Not knowing what the day will bring.
  10. Making new life connections – who knows where these new stories and experiences may take me!
EIJ12 Welcome Reception: USF SPJ with our genius professor!
EIJ12 Welcome Reception: USF SPJ with our genius professor!

New Fantasyland Dress Rehearsal

10/27/12: Here’s a shot I took while at the Magic Kingdom during a dress rehearsal for the expansion of Fantasyland.

I was lucky enough to experience just about everything that was open (minus meeting Ariel in her grotto). However, I arrived during sunset, so most of my time there was in the dark. I was disappointed at first about this, but it will just give me more to look forward to!

What can I say? I was speechless when I walked up to the entrance. To say I was excited is beyond an understatement. I notice when a restroom on Disney property is changed, or when a new poster is put up, so seeing an entire new area of the Magic Kingdom is quite the milestone.

I don’t really want to give too much away – if you want spoilers, there are plenty of those blogs out there. I will say that it is Disney being Disney. I could easily spend hours roaming around in order to explore each little detail. Both Belle and Ariel were a big part of my childhood and it is so lovely to have an entire portion of the park dedicated to them.

Oh. And Be Our Guest restaurant. I only got to see the dining room from behind a rope, but my heart stopped for a moment when I first stepped inside. Can’t wait to try the grey stuff – I hear it’s delicious!😉

Have you seen New Fantasyland yet? Do you have plans to? What are you looking forward to most?


Presidential debates: the art of cherry-picking

cher·ry–pick: counting the hits and forgetting the misses; seeing only what you wish to see. Overlooking and ignoring evidence, while encouraging your audience to be equally blind.

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to presidential debates. I think debates are exciting and I enjoy watching them, especially while reading all of the reactions on Twitter. However, the theatrics and the need for constant fact-checking are ruining the excitement and overall potential of this race.

In a perfect world, debates would provide specific, factual information and would help undecided voters make up their minds. Instead we get half-truths, pants-on-fire lies and, in turn, apathetic voters.

One good thing about all of this is that it has encouraged me to be even more on point with what’s really going on. I’ve learned to be skeptical with what’s being said and I think it’s sad that so many Americans accept what they’re told at face value. Almost everything that was said in Tuesday’s debate could be challenged.

Clearly, we could go on and on and on. Which is why it is so much easier for the public to latch on to Big Bird, gang bangers and binders full of women.

I can only imagine what the final debate in Boca Raton will offer.


As I watch tonight’s Presidential Debate, I can’t help but think back to a story I posted on The Digital Bullpen back in April. Think you know everything about natural gas, coal and alternative energy options? Be informed…


On March 9, after 39 days of increases, the national average price of gasoline was $3.758 per gallon. Sixteen days later, it was $3.894 and climbing. Today, it teeters near $4.

Is it possible rising gas prices could actually be a good thing?

“What’s good about high gasoline prices is it sets in motion the market forces that will cause gasoline prices to fall,” said Christopher Thomas, an associate professor in the College of Business Administration who holds a doctorate in economics. “When it goes up, two valuable things happen: consumers will buy less gasoline and some of them; will make permanent changes in their consumption behavior. They will get rid of their gas-guzzling cars and switch to more gasoline efficient cars.”

Thomas said this will not just help today, but in the future in reducing the demand for gasoline, which creates a downward pressure on future prices.

And that’s just on the demand side of things.

“Producers, when they see higher gasoline prices, they want to add to their capacity to produce gasoline,” he said. “So rising prices cause both an increase in supply and a decrease in demand. That’s a good thing.”

Another good thing, Thomas said, is that rising prices of gasoline will force us from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, such as natural gas.

In fact, in March 2012, GM and Chrysler announced they will soon sell trucks that run on both natural gas and gasoline. Thomas said this wouldn’t be happening without the rising prices of gasoline and the falling prices of natural gas.

Thomas said the benefits to natural gas are that it is cleaner than the dirty coal that is used now, and is very abundant and cheap.

“We have a 100 to 200 year domestic supply,” he said. “All the natural gas we’ll ever burn, we don’t have to buy one bit of it from foreigners. Domestically produced, it is very cheap.”

Thomas said the gasoline equivalent is 75 cents to $1 a gallon. The reason we have not been accessing it already is the technology is just now being discovered and implemented.

“It’s going to change the nature of our energy markets substantially within the next few years,” he said. “We’ll be much less dependent on OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and much less dependent, I might add, on dirty coal.”

Thomas said when oil companies drill for crude oil they also find natural gas.

“As we say in economics, the marginal cost is zero,” he said. “The cost of taking the natural gas out is a big fat zero, so even if the price is low, it’s still above the cost.”

Thomas said it is also necessary to consider the potential of natural gas because of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East and the price of crude oil going up.

“You still need crude oil for some things,” he said. “But natural gas can replace crude oil for many things, and in time, and this is where the complexity comes in, the ability to substitute natural gas for crude oil grows increasingly easy to do. Two years from now this will be commonplace.”


Stop searching for perfect…*Hint* It doesn’t exist.

You. Are. Beautiful.

Your height. Your eye color. Your ears. Your teeth. You wouldn’t be YOU without them. There are some things we can change/alter about our physical appearance, but for the most part we are stuck with them. Why not embrace what you have?

Today I read that Pussycat Dolls and X-Factor judge, Nicole Scherzinger, struggled with Bulimia and self-harm…for eight years. And let’s face it – that kind of struggle never truly goes away. Personal battles shape us into who we become and I’m glad so many public figures are finally choosing to come forward with their REAL life issues.

We somehow have this notion that celebrities don’t get depressed and that they are immune to sadness. Little by little we are tearing down the idea that they are these perfect entities who don’t have stretch marks and never had acne. But we have so many examples to prove that it is pretty far from the reality, so why does the misconception continue?

And often the funniest people have struggled the most with depression. Ellen. Jim Carrey. Alec Baldwin. Owen Wilson. (The list is endless…) The people who have inspired you the most have been where you’ve been.

So Nicole, Demi LovatoLady Gaga and many other women in the spotlight have told their stories. Will we allow it to make a difference? Will bullies think twice before they make their next taunt?

How long will it take for these revelations to trickle down to our youth? I think we need more men to come forward and speak on their battles (men suffer from anorexia/bulimia, too).

And don’t think that just because you’re in college that you can’t still set an example for the next generation. Pay attention to the messages you are sending when you are in public. Kids DO pick up on what twenty-somethings do and even if you don’t think you are a role model, YOU ARE.

Perfect example: I went to grab a bite to eat the other day and the there was a young girl (probably no more than eight) sitting at the table next to me. She took a sip of her drink and proceeded to ask her mother/sister…

“You know that show with Snooki?” she asked.

“Yes, I do. JWoww..she was on that show with JWoww.”

“Yes! That show. I want to be JWoww,” the little girl said without laughing.

Wow, indeed. Is this what we’re teaching our little girls? I probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelash if a high-school-aged girl had said this, but an elementary schooler? Again – PAY ATTENTION.

Oh. And more thing. You know that stank eye some girls like to give other girls when they’re out and about? The one they do when they’ve seen someone pretty, someone who is wearing something they like or wish they had. Perhaps try smiling at them instead. Or complimenting them. Lead with kindness instead.

Another example: I was in the line at Chick-Fil-a once and I saw three girls behind the register looking me up and down and talking/laughing. My mind immediately went to a negative place and I started wondering what was wrong with me. However, when I stepped forward to place my order, one of the girls proceeded to compliment me on my laptop case. See, it’s a Walt Disney World case and she LOVES Disney World. I actually ended up sharing my info with her and learned myself a lesson.

And while this blog post is getting way longer than I intended, let me end with this.

We are human. We are all struggling with something. We are all trying to find our way in this crazy game called life. Let’s try leaning on each other more. Even if it feels unnatural or makes you uncomfortable, try it. Try smiling at someone instead of scowling. Try sharing something that makes you vulnerable with a friend.

It’s amazing the amount of doors it can open up.


Disney Professional Internships: Stage 1 Complete

I’m not very good at waiting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very patient person, but when it comes to things that I’m really excited about…I want to know NOW…or yesterday for that matter.

Just  a few minutes ago I had my first phone interview for a Disney Professional Internship. I was able to schedule the interview on Monday, so I did not have to wait very long for it, but I was told I might not get a response/official offer for a position until early December!

My interview was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. My phone rang at 3:29. Typical Disney and that is what I love about this company. You can count on what they tell you. They’re just dependable like that.

According to my phone, the interview lasted 15 minutes and 16 seconds (shorter than most wait times on property)! A lot was riding on those few minutes, so I spent a good amount of time preparing for my onstage moment. I know The Mouse like the back of my glove, so I didn’t want to over-think the entire process, but I did print out the application, take notes and ask friends and family for advice.

It’s been a few years since I was a Cast Member (although, once a CM, always a CM, I like to say) and I really miss it. I hope my answers grant me the opportunity to move on to the next step. I know the competition is fierce and the opportunities few, so I’ll be checking my status and keeping my fingers crossed.

I have found I can connect every one I meet to Disney (it’s a great ice-breaker if you’re ever in need of a conversation starter). The Disney name is global and every life has been touched by the brand in at least some form. So, what’s your favorite Disney memory? Do you have a favorite park? Character? Event? I’d love to hear it.

Faith, trust and pixie dust,


If you’re a Walt Disney World fan, follow my Disney Twitter account: @TweetsFromWDW


Saving a life

I’ve been meaning to blog about this since it happened. I mean, it’s not every day you save a life…

I’ll stop being vague and tell you that it was a dog’s life that was saved. So, no, it wasn’t a human life, but for most, pets are just as important and meaningful as their human counterparts.

So how did it all happen? Well, my boyfriend and I had gone to see the 11:15 p.m. showing of “Lawless.” [The movie was really well done, if you’re wondering. Tom Hardy can be in every movie from now on as far as I’m concerned. Shia LaBeouf did a really great job as well.]

Anyway, we were driving home from the movie theatre when we came to a stop at a red light. And out of the corner of my eye I see this little dog scurrying around the street.

It was after two in the morning at this point, so the traffic wasn’t too heavy, but there were enough cars going by to make me hold my breath. The idea of watching an animal get run over is about as devastating as any and sitting by and letting it happen was not an option for us. To make the situation at least a little comedic, the dog was following around an armadillo. He didn’t really look scared of anything.

We pulled over to the side of the road and I motioned to the furry guy to come over to me. And what were the chances that a cop car was coming around the corner at the same exact moment…

“Is that your dog?” the female cop asked.

Do people normally chase their dogs around main roads at two in the morning? I’ve never seen that happen, but I’m guessing this cop has seen lots of things I haven’t.

I thought it was a great stroke of luck having a police officer show up right when we needed one, as I thought she would take him off of our hands, but she quickly told us she had just ended a 12-hour shift and wouldn’t be able to take the dog anywhere.

Great. What now?


It was obvious that the doggy had been groomed recently, so I knew he wasn’t a stray. Someone loved this dog.

Oh. But I forgot to mention the worst part of the situation. This poor little guy smelled like DEATH. Who knows how long he had been running around. Tropical Storm Isaac had just left us, so perhaps he’d been lost since then. But the smell was  HORRIFIC. But what were we to do? Catch him only to release him back into the night?

The officer said there was a 24-hour emergency vet not too far down the road, so we resolved ourselves to at least try that option. My 2006 Toyota Corolla is by no means spotless, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious to let him roam all over it.

I Googled the nearest vet, only to be told that it’s ‘against their policy to hold any animals overnight.’ But, bringing him to my house was not an option, so we decided to take him to the emergency vet anyway.

To our surprise, the dog was very well-behaved on the drive over. He walked around from the backseat to my lap quite a few times, sniffing the air out of the rolled down windows. He was a white dog, but that was hard to see with all of the dirt and muck on his fur.

The emergency vet office was empty except for one distraught couple sitting with their pet, which was pretty difficult to see. However, it reminded me that perhaps we were saving another couple from the same predicament.

We pushed the front desk button and a young woman in scrubs, probably in her late 20’s, came out to greet us. She did a quick once over of the dog, checking his overall well-being and his teeth to guesstimate his age. She put a leash on him and took him behind the door to check for a microchip.

I paced around the office thinking of what to do if no one would take him. I’ve always wanted a dog but just don’t have the money or time a dog deserves. Plus, I wanted the potential owner to have a chance to have their family member back.

The woman returned to tell us that the dog we had was named “Cody.” So he DID have a microchip, after all! They did try to get in touch with the owner, but no one was answering. They left the owner a message, but who knows when he or she would return the call.

If my kitty, Kali, were missing, I would keep my phone next to me at all hours of the night, but who knows what their situation was. So, at this moment, the lady reminded us that they couldn’t keep him. So it was on to the next option.

I contacted another 24-hour emergency vet that was about a 15 minute drive away. The woman who answered sounded very tired and hesitant to even entertain my call, reminding me that it was Labor Day weekend and they needed to keep as much room as possible in their facility for pets who needed medical attention.

But, when I assured her that this dog was small and under 10 pounds, she told me to “bring him over.” Success.

The weirdest thing about the dog? He did not bark ONE TIME the entire time we had him.

By this point, I’m reminding myself to not get attached to this animal. I have that problem. I see any animal and I instantly want to bring them home. However, I was keeping the owner in mind and I knew deep down that I couldn’t keep him anyway.

We dropped him off at the other vet. Two women were on duty and both seemed so emotionally detached in comparison to how we felt in that moment. But, they see that kind of thing all the time, so I guess they’re used to it. One of the women took Cody behind the doors to give him a bath. YAY. Just what he needed.

We signed some papers, leaving our contact information. It was clear that we could leave by this point, but we felt the need to stay and make sure he was taken care of. It felt silly to ask, but I asked if we could see him one last time. We couldn’t pass up the chance to see him clean.

We went into the back, where all of the caged animals are kept and there sat little Cody. He was shivering from his bath, and this was the first time he actually looked scared. But, his fur was white again, so that made me happy. He sat up, looked at us with his big, dark eyes and we said goodbye.

“Thanks for the adventure, Cody,” I said. “Now you’re safe and you won’t get run over by a car.”

We slowly but surely left the building and got back into the car.

*Sniff* “Yup, there’s Cody.” He was gone, but his smell was still left behind. So we rolled the windows down and started to drive home.

Not quite what I expected for Friday date night.


The saddest part about the entire thing? We never heard anything after the whole ordeal. We had been told we would get a call when the owner picked Cody up, but we never did.

I ended up calling the next day, only to be told that, ‘he wasn’t in his cage when I got here this morning, so I guess he was picked up.’

No phone call. No message from the owner. Not even a thank you.

I realize that isn’t why you do good deeds. You don’t save an animal from being run over in hopes of a reward. But if some young couple had gone out of their way at THREE IN THE MORNING to save my pet, I would personally write a letter thanking them. I’d probably bake them cookies. And then send them a follow-up note. I guess I’m just weird like that.


So, Cody, I hope you’re snuggled up somewhere warm right now. It stormed last night and I wondered how many animals were lost out there in the rain. Hopefully Cody wasn’t one of them.


Exciting things on the horizon!

Hello there, world!

It’s truly amazing how quickly life changes. I have learned a lot about the media industry, and people, in a very short span of time. The saying is true: when one door closes, another opens. I’m feeling very happy and excited about the many opportunities out there and I don’t intend on wasting any of them!

The fall semester starts on Monday and I’m actually excited for it. I’m very near to graduation, so that might have something to do with it, ha ha. I’ll be taking Public Affairs Reporting, which I’m sure will only strengthen my fact-checking super powers. I also signed up to take Mandarin Chinese. The language has always fascinated me and it’s only spoken by like a billion people, so I figure it can’t hurt to try it out.

This will also be my first semester as vice president of SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists, for those not up to speed.) The executive board has come up with several ideas for the semester and I’m amped about our potential. Next month, we’ll be attending the Excellence in Journalism conference in Fort Lauderdale, which should also be a wonderful networking opportunity.

Another opportunity (I notice a theme going on in this blog post) I’m going to try for is a Disney Professional Internship. If you’ve read my “About Me” section, or taken a glance at my résumé, you already know that I’m a Disney College Program alumni (Fall 2007 represent!) Well, this internship is a step beyond that and is a very competitive position. So if the Mouse offers me a spot, I’ll be moving back to Orlando coming January 2013. Zip-ah-dee-doo-dah, indeed.

Other than that, I’m still tweeting, Pinning and Instagram-ing up a storm, watching copious amounts of The Newsroom, Storage Wars and True Blood, counting down the days until season 3 of The Walking Dead, missing Ireland, bracing for Hurricane Isaac (and the RNC), working on my fitness and…pretty much enjoying what life has to offer…which is a lot. Hope you’re doing the same.

P.S. I’ve finally posted a few photos under the Photography tab…so go check ’em out!

P.S.S. (lol) As I type this, I have 1,137 views on this here WordPress. So I know I’m getting some traffic…why not leave me a comment?


30 days in jail, probation for former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi

Have you been following this case? Are you feeling a little outraged at the outcome? I’m pretty shocked… and also conflicted.

For those not familiar: Back in 2010, Dharun Ravi  used his webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Ravi set up the webcam to capture Clementi’s sexual encounters, which happened to be with another male. Then, Ravi used Twitter to encourage other students to watch said encounters. Tyler Clementi killed himself shortly after. He jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010.

A couple months ago a jury convicted Ravi on 15 criminal counts including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and witness and evidence tampering.

The jail sentence is set to begin May 31. Ravi was also sentenced to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and counseling regarding cyber bullying and alternative lifestyles. Ravi must also pay a $10,000 fine, which will go to a facility dedicated to victims of bias crimes, The Star-Ledger reports.

I took a media law class this past semester and we talked about this case. It enraged me then and it enrages me still. Bullying isn’t limited to the playground and if anything I’m glad this case has forced people to pay attention to just how severe it can be.

Do you really think 30 days of jail is justice? I’m not sure it is. I mean, Ravi did not even speak in court when given the chance. Why not say sorry to the family? Why not take the stand and show how much the experience has taught you? Why not express interest in speaking to other young people about what happened and use it as a teaching tool?

Instead his crying mother took the stand and asked the judge to give her son a chance to live a normal life. But what about Tyler and his life?

It’s hard for me to feel for Ravi when he hasn’t expressed any remorse. However, the optimist in me wants to believe that the whole thing went way beyond his comprehension.

He’s still only 20 years old and would have been an impressionable 18-year-old when he committed the crimes.

And yes, crimes. Invading someone’s privacy is just that. But the Internet has blurred the lines of privacy. Facebook and Twitter make people, especially young people, feel entitled to know the intimate details of other people’s lives. Hell, people share nitty gritty details about themselves all the time – and willingly.

However, I knew better when I was 18. But I knew better before the webcam even existed. So should age even be an excuse?

I’ve never been to jail, so I’m not sure what those 30 days will be like for Ravi. He needs to be punished and live the consequences of his actions. But it’s the counseling that I think he really needs. Or a wake up call… some time to mature.

Is this type of thing preventable?

I really think we should have a class in middle school dedicated to embracing diversity. We need a class or seminar on bullying and how to use the Internet and teach how to respect someone’s privacy.

What do YOU think? Have you been bullied on the Internet? Does the sentence match the crimes?


Check out a recent story I did on a USF student who will soon embark on his first mission trip!

JOU 2100 Reporting

It’s a hot and sticky afternoon at USF’s Bull Market. David Guetta’s “Turn Me On” plays on loudly, while table representatives eagerly tout their goods and services. Farther down the line, two young men wearing white, button-down shirts, ties and dark slacks stand on the sidewalk, smiling at passers-by. Their nametags reveal they are elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are serving their mission in Florida.

The display table is for the USF Latter Day Saints Student Association and is covered with religious literature. Copies of The Book of Mormon, For the Strength of Youth – Fulfilling Our Duty to God and The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are ready for distribution.

Behind the table sits a young man wearing a black T-shirt and khaki shorts, and although he may not be dressed the part, he, too, will soon begin a mission…

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The 13 Most Useless Majors – My response

I have so many other things I need/should be doing, but I just HAD to get this off my chest. AHEM…

The Daily Beast recently posted an article about the 13 most useless majors. I’ve actually seen several articles lately on this very subject and I think these lists are just as USELESS.

Not to my surprise, most of these majors have a lot to do with my own field of study: Mass communications. Journalism actually placed number 8 on the list.

8. Journalism

Unemployment, recent grad: 7.7 percent
Unemployment, experienced grad: 
6.0 percent
Earnings, recent grad: 
Earnings, experienced grad: 
Projected growth, 2010–2020: 
-6 percent
Related occupations: 
Reporter, correspondent, broadcast news analyst

Obviously I do not care about these statistics or I would not have chosen this major when I entered college. What enrages me most is how much these skills of study are taken for granted.

There is so much focus lately on STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and so much of the [little] funding universities have is going to them. Meanwhile, everything else is suffering.

My wish is for these majors to suspend what they do for ONE day. For example, ALL journalists would take a holiday. I wonder how much of what they do would be noticed then? Think about it. No newspapers. No stories. No photos to look at. No information obtained, none distributed.

What would it be like to be in the DARK for just one whole day? Maybe then people would take back just how ‘useless’ it is.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one severely annoyed by this. Here’s a follow-up article The Daily Beast posted today with responses.


Will the CDC’s $54-million anti-smoking campaign work?

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a campaign to encourage smokers to quit.

A new CDC national tobacco education campaign called “Tips From Former Smokers” features real people who are living with the complications of smoking-related diseases. This campaign encourages smokers to quit.

They anticipate the 12-week campaign will get 50,000 people to quit.

Here’s one of the graphic videos they’ve released as part of the effort:

You can find the other videos here.

But will it work?

I’ve never smoked a cigarette and I’m confident that I never will. I HATE smoking with a fiery passion. I loathe secondhand smoke. I think it’s the most unattractive habit a person can have and I’ve never understood the appeal. Nothing bothers me more than parents who smoke in the presence of their children.

Now, I’m not one to preach to others to quit. It’s your life and if you want to end it prematurely, that is your prerogative.  But I imagine people who smoke know how bad it is for them, right? Is it necessary to spend $54 million to show them just how detrimental it can be?

Do you smoke? What made you start smoking? Have you ever tried to quit? Would something like this campaign make you think twice about it? I’m curious…


The Bachelor finale: who did Ben Flajnik choose? *UPDATE*

Well, well, well… tonight is the big night. Bachelor Ben finally gets to conclude this nightmare he’s been living for the past year or so.

If you’re reading this, then you actually care about this show. And by care I mean you:

  • love to make fun of it & attempt to outwit & outTweet other shameless viewers
  • get ridiculously and dangerously drunk every Monday with the many versions of The Bachelor drinking game
  • are emotionally invested in every season and genuinely care for the well-being of these women (c’mon, really?)

I will admit, I have watched previous seasons & it’s one of my *very guilty* pleasures. It’s so obviously a hot mess, but for some reason so many of us keep going back for more.

The reason I wanted to ramble on about it in this blog is because I still cannot figure out for the life of me WHY ON EARTH Ben even signed up to be the Bachelor in the first place? I would LOVE to hear some of your theories.

I watched Ben get his heart broken on Ashley’s season & it appeared he could not get away from that situation fast enough. He was crushed. Embarrassed. PISSED. And then, BAM. He’s the next Bachelor.

What’s interesting is how he’s gone from being one of the most loved men in the show’s history to one of the most disliked and made fun of dudes yet. Nearly every comment I see as of late is negative.

I mean, I liked Ben during Ashley’s season and I still do. IMHO he’s the most real, down-to-earth bachelors yet. I just think he signed up for more than he bargained for. Ben strikes me as a guy who doesn’t have patience for drama and this show IS drama. So, what did those producers do to get him to say yes?

I’ve mulled it over in my head & I think he did it for the benefit of his company. See, Ben is a winemaker. Since I do like the guy, I’ll link to the website now. I imagine the sales & overall exposure of his company has quintupled since the season premiere. Would I blame the guy if this was his motivation for going on the show? No. Absolutely not. Do I think that was his main motivation? Also, no.

I feel like Ben did want to find love because he found something in himself in his first experience that made him respect the process. I think he was smart enough to know that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it did not all work out.

So. Courtney or Lindzi? I actually do not have a preference either way. I actually do not hate Courtney with a fiery passion like everyone else does. Sure, she said and did tons of mean and terrible things throughout the season. The way she scrunches up her face was extremely painful to watch at times. But I know how editing can be in the world of reality TV.

Also, she’s a model who has been part of the Hollywood scene before. I’m by no means excusing her actions, but I think she’s formed her hard exterior because women can be so awful to each other. Plus, women are different with their significant others than they are with girls – especially with ones they are competing against.

Lindzi on the other hand seems like an overall easy choice. And since I view her as an easy choice, I don’t think she and Ben could ever work. I don’t think Ben likes that Lindzi had only had one previous relationship. I don’t think Ben likes sitting on the super  high pedestal she placed him on.

Not sure how I will manage through all 3 hours of the finale tonight, but it will be interesting to see if he and the woman he chose are still engaged. Heck, I’m still sad about Ali & Roberdddo breaking up…

*UPDATE* I had already read the spoilers & I think it was obvious who he was going to choose…but now we have seen the proposal between Ben & Courtney.

The After the Final Rose was pretty intense – lots of tears from both sides. It turns out they have already broken up, but are now back together. Time for the final test – to see if things work when the show has ended.

OH! And then there’s US Magazine with pictures of Ben kissing other women… Curious…


Concert review: Celtic Woman wins hearts on Valentine’s Day at the Straz Center, downtown Tampa

Hey, YOU!

I’m so excited to share my first concert review on Creative Loafing!

I was privileged enough to go see Celtic Woman on Valentine’s Day. Hope you enjoy!

Concert review: Celtic Woman wins hearts on Valentine’s Day at the Straz Center, downtown Tampa | Concert Review | Creative Loafing Tampa.


Status update: Understanding Facebook’s IPO

Image courtesy of:

Last week Facebook announced an IPO valued at $5 billion, a record for Internet companies.

But what does it all mean?

Firstly, an IPO stands for Initial Public Offering. It essentially means Facebook is changing its profile from private to public and allowing the public to buy stock in the company and own a piece of the pie.

“When going public you need to produce profits,” said Mikael Bergbrant, Ph.D. candidate in the department of finance in the College of Business. “When you’re a private company, many times you can leave out the possibility of future profits. But once the stockholders start having an input, then they usually want to see the bottom line really start increasing.”

Bergbrant said the impact this will have on the individual user relies on the stockholders.

One benefit of these new developments is the release of Facebook’s once private financial information.

Facebook is said to hold a value between $75 and $100 billion and it generated $3.71 billion in revenue in 2011.

It may surprise you that Zynga (the company responsible for your growing addiction to Words with Friends and all of the games that end in ‘Ville’) made up 12 percent of that 2011 revenue.

So how does all of this affect the 845 million monthly active users?

“If you have new money, you can introduce new applications, new programs,” said Erdem Ucar, who is also a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Business. “There are good things and bad things, but basically they go public because they need to raise funds.”

In the short term, the site will most likely not see many changes. Facebook might implement new site tactics when there is pressure to keep the shareholders happy. They could develop new ways of advertising, like making money off of private user data.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this affects Mark Zuckerberg, who will now make one dollar every year, and whether he will give up his position as CEO.

(Also posted on The Digital Bullpen – the news site of the USF School of Mass Communications)


Obama: I’m going to Disney World!

Obama's audio-animatronic at Disney's Hall of Presidents - photo credit WDW

I guess I came up with the most obvi headline because the Orlando Sentinel (and now several others) decided on the same one. I’ll chalk it up to great minds thinking alike…

The news broke around noon today that the President will indeed visit The Mouse on Thursday to deliver a speech about tourism.

A White House aide stated:

On Thursday, the President will travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where he’ll unveil a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel, an important sector in the U.S. economy. The action will be taken as part of the President’s “We Can’t Wait” agenda of executive actions that will aid job growth and don’t require congressional approval.

Obama was last in Orlando last October for a fundraiser. He apparently hit up a downtown Orlando bar for a pint of Guinness. My man!

My first thought upon hearing the news was, “I wanna gooooooo.” But, alas, I’ll be in class. #collegestudentproblems

Many of the Disney sites and Twitter accounts are already buzzing about the news and the main topic of discussion is whether Obama will visit himself in the Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom.

Lou Mongello, host of WDW Radio, tweeted:

With Obama visiting Disney World on Thursday, did you know that no American President has ever seen himself in The Hall of Presidents? #Yet

NBD, right?

Well, for this Disney nerd it is.

More updates to follow…


According to my local news station:

Mr. Obama is expected to arrive in Orlando aboard Air Force One at 11:40 a.m. and leave at 2:15 p.m

He will speak at Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World at 12:35 p.m.

Watch it LIVE: HERE
 or HERE

Also, a Tweeter with the handle @easywdw is there right NOW and he’s posting lots of neat pictures.

I guess I should not be surprised that guests are not allowed anywhere near the Castle. However, I was not imagining as many barricades and blocked off areas…

Photo courtesy of @easywdw

Justin Bieber gets sizeable Jesus tattoo, claims he’s not religious

Say whaaaa? Never have I ever written a blog about the Biebs. Heck, I don’t even own any of his music. But, an article I just read makes me think he’s contracted a touch of that fever everyone is always talking about.

The Daily Mail UK posted an article with the highlights of JB’s interview in V Magazine and it talks about how he’s nearing his 18th birthday and how he’s not a kid anymore and yadda, yadda, yadda.

But can we just take a second to focus on the part where he talks about how he’s “not religious?”

DUDE. You just got Jesus’ mug permanently inked to the back of your calf?! THE ENTIRE CALF. FOREVER.

‘I don’t think I’m religious. I am spiritual,’ Bieber told the fashion magazine.

‘I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe that He put me in this position, and that I have to always give Him the glory He deserves for putting me here.

‘But I don’t consider myself religious. A lot of people who are religious, I think they get lost. They go to church just to go to church.

‘I’m not trying to disrespect them – you know, whatever works for you.

‘But for me, I focus more on praying and talking to Him. I don’t have to go to church.’

Maybe it’s just me. But that sounds pretty religious.

So is anyone else just a tad confused? I mean, sure, get whatever you want tattooed on your own body, but at least have a better explanation than that. Right?

I think what puzzles me most is the fact that celebrities never seem to want to fully own their religiousness. Or, it’s the media that brings the attention to the other extreme.

Example = Tim Tebow. Suddenly, his faith is a spectacle and Jesus is behind every play. John 3:16 and 316 yards. A halo appeared above the field. Twitter went a Twitter and every record was broken.

I digress.

But seriously. How many Beliebers (no, spellcheck, that’s how you spell it, I swear…) are going to go out and get Jesus tattoos now? Instead of hipster/scene kids, we’ll have  – NO, let’s not go there.

And how many people are going to substitute Jesus for the names on the back of their Broncos jerseys? Oh, wait. They’re already doing that.


Another site to OBSESS over (just what everyone needs)

So. Just like any other twenty-something, procrastinating female, I spend WAY too much time on Tumblr.  I even have two separate Tumblr pages. One is from when I blogged during my study abroad adventure in Ireland, and the other is just for reblogging eye candy.

This eye candy is anything I see on Tumblr that makes the happy neurons fire in my brain. Clothes, beautiful people, SHOES, stuff that makes me go awwwwwww and everything else over the {double} rainbow.

However, I always encounter a problem. I find so many things on Tumblr and have no way of keeping track of all the things I like (other than reblogging it or saving it to my computer).

Now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, my problems have been solved!


Pinterest is a black hole of everything good in the world and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Pinterest is full of drool-inspiring recipes, amazing outfits you just have to have, DIY (that you can actually do yourself) and landscapes/interior designs that anyone would die for.

The best part of the site is you can like and re-pin whatever you want onto a virtual board. The boards keep track of everything you like! AKA someone finally got smart and indulged my OCD mind.

You can also follow your friend’s pins and make comments on what you find. It is never-ending and therefore never gets old. (Some items are repeated…but if you notice this, it just means you’ve been at the computer for WAY too long and are addicted like everyone else.)

So what are you waiting for? Come join me and start pinning down all of your interests on PINTEREST!


Principles of Public Relations: A Reflection

This class has been one of the best in my college career. And, no,  I’m not just saying that for grading purposes. The reason I think this class was helpful was because of its application to the REAL WORLD.

Every class we discussed something relevant to what is going on today in PR. Whether it was talking about current crises and how they’ve been cleaned up (or not), or which Presidential candidate has the best overall website, it took us outside of the textbook and gave us tools to make us more marketable.

Our textbook!

I learned about social media campaigns and how social media is not just about keeping up (aka stalking) your friend’s lives, but rather looking at it as a business STRATEGY.

One of the best parts about this class was our personal branding project. I’ve known for a while that I needed to build my own website and craft my own brand, but I was always putting it on the back burner. This class made it a priority and look – if you’re reading this post, I will consider myself successful!

This class also required me to volunteer for a local event (see previous post). Volunteering is another thing I often think about but often do not feel I have a platform to give me the support and opportunity to make it all happen. This class also helped me look at the volunteering experience more critically and look at the process from a variety of perspectives.

I’ve found that most PR students do not wish to be labeled as journalists and vice versa, but I knew even before this class that I want to learn how to incorporate both worlds into my future career. I do not see a reason why we have to choose one side over the other and I intend on working for a company who finds merit in having skills from both arenas.


The world of Twitter chats!

So what exactly is a Twitter chat, you ask? Well, they are events that allow Twitter users to talk to each other about a specific topic by using hashtags to easily organize questions and answers!

They sound more complicated then they actually are and they are a great networking tool! Think about it – you can network in your Snuggie if you wanted to!

I’ve observed quite a few twitter chats but have actively participated in two. My very first Twitter chat was back on September 27 and it was through PR 2.0 Chat. At first I was a bit intimidated because most of the chatters appeared to be professionals in the field.

I felt like I wouldn’t have much to contribute since I’m still an undergrad, but I thought I’d give it a whirl anyway. I was quite surprised when people actually started replying and re-tweeting what I had to say!

The account asks questions and you can reply to anyone you want! The first few questions were about stunts and content.

The first few questions involved publicity stunts and questioned whether or not they work and if they should be considered tactics or strategy. I replied that they only work if they are clever and if the public does not feel like the stunt is desperate.

I received a tweet questioning my response, to which I replied but received no tweet back.

However, I did manage to have quite the Twitter feed going when one of the questions asked what to do when a client’s goals aren’t being realized. I applied things I’ve learned in class to common sense and I found the dialogue fascinating.

The hosts even re-tweeted me on their page! Not bad for my first try, eh?

The second Twitter chat was on October 19 and was through the handle PRStudChat. Two moderators facilitate the chat and stimulate a conversation between students, educators and professionals.

I really enjoyed this one because it asked questions like: what is your favorite assignment? This was an easy one for me because my favorite assignment was a social media campaign (see my portfolio) that I worked on just recently.

And GUESS WHAT?! My tweet was published in an article the following day!

It was published on:
See the last tweet!

My Volunteer Experience

On Monday, September 26, 2011, I volunteered for the University Lecture Series (ULS) when they presented Common:  One Day It’ll All Make Sense. This is also the title of his book, which you can find here.

I knew I wanted to volunteer for ULS when the schedule was posted at the beginning of the semester. Once I learned Lara Logan (which is now canceled) would be a guest I did whatever I could to be a part of the group.

Once I arrived I was given a volunteer lanyard and a staffing schedule letting me know what role I would be in charge of.  It was storming on this night and Common was running late.

My role was event greeter. My job was to stand at the entrance of the Marshall Student Center and inform attendees on where to go. This event was open to the public and it was really interesting to see how an event of that magnitude was executed.

During the Q&A portion of Common’s lecture, a student gave him a drawing they had done of him. After the lecture I went to gather my stuff out of the room and while I was leaning down I saw the drawing. I said, “Wow, that is really cool.” However, I had no idea the person holding the drawing was none other than Common himself. Lol. I would do something like that.

ULS gathered the volunteers at the end and thanked us for our help and Common said he thought we did a wonderful job. They also presented Common with a scrapbook of student letters, which I thought was a great touch.

Here is an article from USF’s newspaper about the event!

It was great night overall! Photo courtesy of Greg Bryon:

My favorite part of the lecture was the beginning when Common did a rap. This wasn’t just any rap – it was a rap specific to USF… GREATNESS right there!


The world of photojournalism

To continue with this blog’s theme of journalism and the effect technology has had on this industry, it’s only appropriate to talk about photojournalism. In today’s field, you aren’t just a writer, you’re a photographer too.

JPROF, a blog about teaching journalism, has this helpful post featuring rules for the student photojournalist.

Rule No. 1: Take lots of pictures.

Rule No. 2: A pen and notebook are as important as a camera.

Rule No. 3: Plan what you will shoot.

Rule No. 4: Get close to the action.

Rule No. 5: Shoot in the best light possible.

Rule No. 6: Equipment doesn’t matter – use what you have to the best of your ability.

Rule No. 7: Be creative!

Photojojo has a helpful post on nine tips for breaking into photojournalism. Their tips and suggestions are from Jason Geil, who is a successful photo editor for He worked as a staff photojournalist at The Cincinnati Post and his work has appeared in national publications.

PhotoRadar has this article about 14 inspiring and useful photojournalism tips. This post is helpful because it focuses on the approach photojournalists should take. For example, one should shoot from the heart, but must stay neutral at the same time.

Photoshop is a given when talking about photojournalism. Get to know it. Get comfortable with it. Here is a site with a complete list of Photoshop tips. There are of course plenty of YouTube tutorials also at your disposal.

Violence is often a part of photojournalism. The events in Egypt and Libya are a relevant example of this. talks about this reality.

Poynter chimes in with why photojournalism matters.

Kenneth Irby states, “Poynter’s Eyes on the News studies confirmed that people were emotionally affected by pictures and that they are a dominant entry point during the digestion of printed information.”

There is a reason for the popular quote, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A picture can often accomplish what words cannot. While journalism writing often takes away creativity, photojournalism is an outlet with countless opportunities.


Tips for recording and transcribing interviews

Recording and transcribing interviews can be a hassle, especially if you aren’t paying someone to do the job for you. Thankfully there are programs and resources out there to help make this process hurt a little less.

Programs such as Skype, Audacity and Express Scribe are just a few of these programs.

The benefit with Skype is that it is easy and very inexpensive. Purchasing a Skype Out number for $2.95 a month allows people to call you from a land or cell line and lets you call regular land and cell lines.

The calls in the US and Canada are free. Skype lets you pay as you go for international calls at reasonable rates. The call quality is great and the program is efficient. Google Voice is an alternative to this product.

Audacity is a free, open-source sound editor. Audacity allows you to edit out the parts of the interview you don’t want to keep. You can then change the tempo and slow down the interview. Slowing down the interview will make it easier to transcribe without having to push the pause button. gives this review of Audacity. This YouTube video tutorial is a great tool to learn the basics of Audacity.

Express Scribe is also a free program for Mac users. This program lets you set universal hot keys, slow down or speed up tempo on the fly and add in time stamps to your interview. For example, speed up the interview and then slow it down for quotes.

A foot pedal is a helpful addition to transcribing. This way you can start and stop quicker and easier.

A headset can also make a big difference and will free up your hands if you’re doing a phone interview or transcribing one.

If you are interested in paying for your interview to be transcribed, check out this article.

Go here to read up on your state’s recording policies if you haven’t already. Each state has different rules and regulations regarding consent, possession and publication and citations.

Perhaps one day we will have technology to do this all for us!


Issues in journalism: jealousy?

Unfortunately, even in the professional industry of journalism, jealousy and cattiness can be an issue. Sure, there is always room for healthy competition, but sometimes things get ugly and distract from our true goal of reporting the real news.

On March 10, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote a piece targeting The Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington. The article, entitled “All the Aggregation That’s Fit to Aggregate,” essentially called Huffington out.

Keller said the following: “The queen of aggregation is, of course, Arianna Huffington, who has discovered that if you take celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications, array them on your Web site and add a left-wing soundtrack, millions of people will come. How great is Huffington’s instinctive genius for aggregation?”

Keller began his article by noting that Forbes magazine lists him as the 50th most powerful person in the world. After reading this I had to question if this was a publicity stunt or if this 62-year-old man was really using his celebrity to whine.

Huffington promptly posted a rebuttal the evening Keller posted his article. Her post, entitled “Bill Keller Accuses Me of “Aggregating” an Idea He Had Actually “Aggregated” From Me,” had me envisioning two children chasing each other around a playground, while sticking their tongues out.

Last month, AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million. Did this event play a major role in ruffling Keller’s feathers? Is either party right in their argument? Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post believes Huffington won this battle.

Frankly, I feel this entire thing is trivial. However, is aggregating news such a bad thing?

Their articles go against the very thing that Keller is discriminating upon. Keller brings attention to Huffington making a living off of the drama of sharing outrageous links, which draw people to the site. However, Keller is making a spectacle of the very thing he is criticizing.

What I do know is spitting matches like this one are not worth the time and effort it takes to post and detracts from the real issues the world should be focusing on.

Sure, I believe in professional journalism. I believe in each company working hard for their stories and creating original work. However, in this digital age, where technology and speed rules all, the public wants to obtain their news quickly. They also want to be entertained while doing so.

I agree that blogs like The Huffington Post may compromise the integrity of journalism, but things have changed. Kudos to Huffington for maintaining a site that gets people wanting to read the news in the first place!

New York Magazine adds to the mix with this article.


MOJO: mobile journalism

In the field of journalism, timing is everything. In order to be successful in this career, one must have certain objects with them at all times. As technology changes, so do these items. There are a myriad of resources dedicated to updating the list of items, but there are a few basics.

Some of the essential items include:

  • A backpack large enough to carry everything without making movement cumbersome.
  • A notebook with multiple writing utensils to take notes. Yes, this is still essential. Technology is not always reliable.
  • A laptop, or smartphone, with a working Internet connection. Stories will break at any moment and may need to be sent to editors or posted on blogs immediately.
  • A digital recorder with backup batteries in order to obtain audio clips or notes for a story on the go.
  • A camera and/or video camera to capture footage and allow files to be uploaded to computer.

Websites like Mobile Journalism Tools and the Reynolds Journalism Institute are helpful because they provide in-depth coverage of the above listed items. For example, one can find useful information on camera lenses or tripods.

These sites feature what mobile applications are most useful to journalists. This includes audio editing, file transmission, geolocation, live streaming, microblogging, note-taking, photo editing and video editing applications.

Media Bistro has an article about iPhone applications that revolutionize mobile journalism. One of them is SpotCrime, which allows the user to see what crimes have occurred in certain locations. It also shows the type of crime committed.

The Kindle application can also come in handy. Whether one uses the Kindle, Nook, or iBooks, these apps makes hundreds of thousands of books available for on the go reading and research.

The next featured app is Howcast. This app offers how-to videos on a range of subjects. For example, if there is a social media platform that a journalist is unfamiliar with, they can use this program to learn it.

Next, is the iheart radio app which allows the user to listen to music and live radio broadcasts.

Lastly, the article suggests the HearPlanet app. This app provides information on thousands of landmarks around the world. If a journalist is unaware of a location’s history or purpose, this app remedies just that.

This article provides the Facebook pages every journalist should follow.

Mashable has their own page for what tools they think are essential for the mobile journalist. The article provides information on how Google Voice can substitute for a digital voice recorder. In fact, many of Google’s products can help journalist’s condense their list of items.

Ustream broadcaster allows journalists to upload audio and video in real-time. This can be helpful for breaking news stories.

Reeldirector is a video editing suite that can trim and join clips, add titles and embed sound. This can be helpful for creating montages of interview and key sound bites.

This video speaks to the journalists who use mobile phones to take their notes. It recommends ways to become faster at texting and how it is more efficient than traditional handwriting.

Although, mobile journalism is changing the way journalists report in positive ways, this article speaks of the challenges it creates.


Avoiding sloppy journalism

On Monday’s episode of “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg ripped into the New York Times for leaving her out of an article that focused on the lack of black nominees at this year’s Oscars. Goldberg spoke out to media outlets and referred to this blunder as ‘sloppy journalism.’ Goldberg’s co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, went as far as canceling her subscription to the newspaper in protest. Social media allows such gaffes to reach the public in record time. How do journalists avoid making such mistakes?

A spokesperson for the New York Times released a statement Tuesday. The statement, which should have been released the same day as Goldberg’s rebuttal, essentially blamed the reader for misinterpreting the point of the article.

Journalists should always make their purpose clear. After finishing a piece, journalists should walk away and return later to re-read their work. This ensures writers have a fresh perspective on the topic at hand.

Fact checking is crucial. Journalists must be wary of their sources and should triple check their facts. Be as fair and accurate as possible. Ted Diadiun, reader representative for, shares advice for avoiding bias.

This event falls under the category of entertainment news, but imagine the problems these mistakes create in politics. Ronda Hauben, of Global Times China, talks of the danger of making fraudulent claims. This is how falsehoods are spread and misconceptions turn into believed facts.

Greta Van Susteren spoke recently about fair journalism. She feels there is a ‘big difference between facts and imagination’ and speaks of reporting with an agenda. When reporting, journalists should never insert their own opinions.

Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but all of these things can be avoided. For those wondering, Goldberg apologized to the New York Times during today’s broadcast.

FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, which challenges media bias and censorship, provides the following tips for reporting:

  • Who are the sources? Count the number of corporate and government sources versus the number of progressive, public interest, female and minority voices. Demand mass media expand their rolodexes; better yet, give them lists of progressive and public interest experts in the community.
  • Is there a lack of diversity? Demand that the media you consume reflect the diversity of the public they serve.
  • From whose point of view is the news reported? Demand that those affected by the issue have a voice in coverage.
  • Do stereotypes skew coverage? Expose the double standard by coming up with a parallel example or citing similar stories that were covered differently.
  • Is the language loaded? Educate journalists about misconceptions involved in stereotypes, and about how stereotypes characterize individuals unfairly.
  • Is there a lack of context? Demonstrate how the language chosen gives people an inaccurate impression of the issue, program or community.
  • Do the headlines and stories match? Call or write the newspaper and point out the contradiction.

Twitter: a trend worth following

The web address of this blog is “fingermeetpulse” because, as journalists, it is our job to always keep our finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world. Our goal is to report news as it happens, while keeping communication lines open and engaging with the public. Twitter meets these goals and has changed journalism as we know it.

This microblogging phenomenon has made the world smaller. The 140 character limit format requires clean and to the point reporting. The site is easily accessible and allows the public to report along with the journalist. When a celebrity dies, a bill is passed or denied, a tornado has touched ground, or when a country revolts against its leader, Twitter is first to break the story.

A perfect example of why Twitter is crucial to journalists and the public alike lies in the recent events in Egypt. News of the events unfolding in the streets was nearly impossible to come by at first due to technology being compromised. Al Jazeera actually encouraged the community to use blogs, social media, eyewitness accounts and videos to show the world what their country was experiencing.

Through Tweeting and Twitpic, citizens were able to have their voices heard. With the use of the hashtag, #Egypt, anyone with a connection to Twitter could quickly access information.

The preamble of the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics speaks of public enlightenment, the foundation of democracy, seeking truth, integrity and credibility. Twitter most certainly enlightens by allowing a constant flow of information, pictures, audio and video.

The site showcases the first amendment right of free speech in full form and allows the public to take full of advantage of that right and privilege.

If any source attempts to spread falsehoods, Twitter allows for the truth to come out in record timing. For example, politicians like Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) may attempt to set the record straight when need be.

Lastly, Twitter verifies accounts, which allows the public to know whether certain Twitter accounts are indeed credible.

The possibilities for Twitter and its uses are endless. I’m certain the site will grow as we grow. Jason De Rusha (@derushaj),  a reporter at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis provides these tips for journalists:

• Do: Get engaged.

• Do: Read replies.

• Do: Respond.

• Don’t: Turn Twitter into a non-stop back-and-forth exchange. Take bigger discussions to e-mail or Direct Messages.

• Do: Start as a listener. It’s OK to start following people and just treat Twitter as something like the AP Wires. Don’t be discouraged because you only care about 1% of people’s tweets. You don’t cancel the AP Wires because you don’t care about the Lottery numbers from Kentucky.

• Do: Post a profile picture.

• Do: Talk to your boss about his/her philosophy about Twitter.

• Do: Ask permission before tweeting anything about internal information (new hires, fires, layoffs, etc.)

• Do: Treat your Tweets like a microblog. Consider whether your readers would care about something before you belch it out to the wider world.