All posts by Courtney Taylor (Massapequa High School)

A day of writing and work

As the week nears a close, work on The Greene Gazette has been chugging right along. Yesterday was devoted to newsroom work: calling sources, working on videos and writing, writing, writing.

workin'
A screenshot of some of the work I’m doing.

I had the opportunity to go into the sound booth and record the tracks that will play over our broadcast piece on new campus cop cars. Being in there was both super cool and super weird—does anyone’s recorded voice actually sound that way in real life? I’m concerned.

(Funny enough, my family tried to FaceTime while I was in the booth and got a quick tour of the sound system and downstairs newsroom before I had to get back to work. So really, the day was filled with writing and a quick update on why my parents should not have bought a huge sound system for my brother.)

I also had the opportunity to get the profile I’d written on Reid, edited by Newsday copy editor Goodwin Anim. The experience was so valuable, since he really broke down what I did right in addition to what needed to be fixed.

It was a serious and authentic newsroom today—the clacking of keys sounding throughout.

cue "Getcha Head in the Game" from High School Musical
Cue “Getcha Head in the Game” from High School Musical

I actually managed to finish my written assignments relatively early in the evening and was able to leave the newsroom to get “man on the street” interviews with the help of Frank Posillico, an online photo editor for the New York Daily News.

That trip was definitely the highlight of the day. I got to explore the campus a bit and hear more about the field from Frank. That late in the evening, most students weren’t milling around the library and lounge, but we were able to get two pretty good interviews (though most people we asked turned us down…hmph).

photo 2
Featured Here: People Who Know How to Get Interviews from Randoms

(The last student interviewed gave such a perfect soundbite, it was like a hallelujah chorus started playing when he spoke.)

It was a great little trip around campus—which, as I’ve noted in nearly every blog post, is really so pretty—and I learned a lot talking to Frank.

The campus is literally so pretty -- I can't say that enough. (Also, I took this rather decent picture, thanks John Williams' class!)
The campus is literally so pretty—I can’t say that enough. (Also, I took this rather decent picture myself, thanks to John Williams’ class!)

Back in the newsroom, it was time for my piece to be edited in preparation for publication. Certainly a valuable experience in journalistic form and proper style, but I don’t think I have it in me to be a real-deal journalist, seeing as every time a sentence I liked was cut, I gave a little internal scream of “nooooooo!”

the workstation~
My work station with two screens, otherwise known as the coolest thing ever.

It’s been a learning experience all around. We’re back at it again today to pull it all together before the site goes live tomorrow, and then it’s off to Stony Brook’s film festival.

Fingers crossed!

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Workplace newsbreak

We’re still in the thick of it in the newsroom, as it is the last workday, but I’m enjoying blogging too much to move right on without some more posting. Sure, I could move right to the final post, but where’s the fun in that?

Waking up this morning was an absolute drag. (The Greene girls gathered last night for a game of Cards Against Humanity—I fell asleep around two in the morning. Oy.) The penultimate night was a ton of fun—we made friends with math camp kids in the lounge (and made a failed attempt to play a huge game of cards) and just generally hanging out with members of the Greene Team.

Despite the super-grogginess, the business and general busy-ness in the newsroom provided a quick jolt of energy—it was out of bed and back into the zone.

This post as a work in progress -- very meta~
This post as a work in progress. Very meta.

My article is all wrapped up after an editing session with professor Duffy and professor Dowdy. In our time at their desk, I learned a lot about journalistic parameters and exactly how a concise, professional article should be written. Now that’s indicative of the program—in just a short part of the day, I took in so much knowledge. With the week ending, I feel like I’ve learned an absolute ton.

After working all morning, we were treated to pizza—real, non-cafeteria pizza—and reflected on the program and our thoughts coming away from it. I’ll save those thoughts for my final sappy post—as I’ve said, my article is finalized.

The Greene Gazette: Visible Progress
The Greene Gazette in progress.

After our delicious-perfect-wonderful lunch—did I mention the pizza was good?  Because the pizza was really, really good—the Greene Team met with Robert Pertusati, senior associate dean of Admissions at Stony Brook. He discussed not only admission to Stony Brook, but things to keep in mind when applying to any college.

It was informative, useful and anxiety-inducing—essentially my thoughts on all college chats—but to talk to a professional on the subject was all the more meaningful.

Gifts to the Greene Program, courtesy of Stony Brook!
Gifts to the Greene Program, courtesy of Stony Brook University!

It’s only three and the newsroom is buzzing—journalism students and Frank Posilico are back to help in the Gazette’s production. My work is done and it’s exciting to watch the process from afar. It’s almost a little nerve-wracking to view and observe, but I can’t wait to see the final product.

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A great Greene ending

The lectures are over, the articles posted, and the week-long Greene program will officially close in less than 24 hours.

And wow, what a week it’s been.

A first day photograph featuring John Wiliams' back (clearly, I had no idea what I was doing -- yet).
A first day photograph featuring John Wiliams‘ back (clearly, I had no idea what I was doing — yet).

As is said in the bio Reid wrote of me, journalism is not my primary passion – the reading and writing I’ve always loved has been fiction and flowery language. The creative writing class in my high school was linked to a journalism one, but, even then, my interest in journalism was rather secondary.

A glimpse of the campus.
A glimpse of the campus.

This week, however—holding a microphone and interviewing randoms in “man on the street” segments, researching and writing, asking questions in a press conference setting, working the tech board in a television studio—has been enlightening.

A view from the back of Studio B.
A view from the back of Studio B.

It’s hard, even, to pick highlights to reflect on here. From all the special guests and unique opportunities of the week, so many stand out. (And, additionally, writing this blog has really been a blast).

Moment of silence for the computer I'm going to miss so much when I return to a tiny laptop.
Moment of silence for the computer I’m going to miss so badly when I return to my little laptop.

Reporting at the Ducks game and in all formats throughout the week (at the Emergency Operations Center, the Shawn Heilbron press conference, last night’s “man on the street” segments) has been my favorite. It’s not so much of a stretch from what I already love—as president of Massapequa’s Drama Club, I’m no stranger to improv, which is what the interviews mostly came to be. Still, holding the mic and asking questions was a rush each time.

SBU!
SBU! (Photo Credit: Courtney Taylor~)

The aspects of journalism I had been unfamiliar with also ended up being intriguing and enjoyable—photography and film, for example—and the teachers of those lectures really made them easy to understand (professor Ricioppo for film and John Williams for photography).

Dual-screen photography action.
Dual-screen journalist action.

The week has been jam-packed with special guests from the field: Bob Herzog, who brought sports journalism to life; Matt Clark, the investigative journalist who truly piqued my interest (I’ve always wanted to write, of course, but after seeing the movie “Agent Cody Banks” when I was a kid, I became crazy about the idea of being a spy—this seems to be the perfect blend of the two); Sandra Peddie, another investigative reporter, busting crimes and getting to the bottom of things (while also being an engaging speaker and intriguing professional).

Just around the corner from where the news magic really happens. (Photo by me!)
Just around the corner from where the news magic really happens. (Photo by me!)

Speaking to people pursuing journalism in the real world has been enlightening, and hearing their stories furthered my interest in journalism from secondary to, perhaps, a bit higher.

Madison Flotteron and Courtney Taylor anchoring at the Stony Brook University School of Journalism broadcast studio on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.
(Photo Credit: Wasim Ahmad)

While the special guests of the week were exciting and interesting for the bits they were here, the professionals I was with for the entirety of the week—Professor Ahmad, Professor Duffy and Professor Dowdy—were incredibly informative and interesting in their own rights, teaching us the business that they themselves are passionate about.

Sitting down this morning to edit my piece with professor Duffy and professor Dowdy was an extremely valuable journalistic experience, as their classes on writing have been throughout the week.

Team Wasumsauce!
a little late for #tbt, but throwback to earlier in the week!

And, of course, as member of Team Wasumsauce, I’ve really enjoyed professor Ahmad’s courses on blogging (three blog posts in one day, so, clearly) and the photo side of journalism, as well as his guidance on our group’s stories. Outside of his intriguing courses, I’ve had a great time as a member of his team: working at the Ducks game, going on an impromptu tour of campus after we all missed the bus and hearing about his experiences in the field.

(Photo Credit: Wasim Ahmad)
(Photo Credit: Wasim Ahmad)

Outside of class altogether, I’ve met a ton of interesting, intelligent and all-around cool people in this program, and being on a real college campus has been an eye-opening experience as well.

So, with the week coming to its finale (finishing off with a movie and tomorrow’s closing ceremonies), I’d be amiss if I left out my thoughts on journalism altogether after this week.

photo(4)

I don’t know where to begin—it’s exciting, it’s thought-provoking, and I know now that I would find my life lacking without pursuing journalism in some avenue—a minor, a double major, who knows?

a final newsroom selfie to tie it all together -- a journalist with a press pass.
a final blurry newsroom selfie to tie it all together — a journalist with a press pass~

Nevertheless, the Greene Program has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I learned to use a camera from a Pulitzer prize winner on the first day, amongst all the other extraordinary opportunities the program has given me—that certainly doesn’t happen every day!

I come away from the program with skill, interest and a heightened love for written word—the Greene legacy, fulfilled.

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Steven Wong, the program analyst for the Stony Brook Police department at work at the new command center. (Jacqueline Napolitano)

SBU’s new, high-tech hub ready for emergencies

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and with stories of school violence in the news regularly, Stony Brook University is taking steps to be prepared.

Stony Brook’s Chief of Police and Assistant Vice President of Campus Safety, Robert Lenahan said he viewed the events of Superstorm Sandy as a learning experience for the school’s emergency management team.

“We saw that we had some limitations with our existing spaces,” Lenahan said. “We could see that we needed to improve with our technology within the Emergency Operations Center.”

Chief of Police, Robert Lenahan talking about the televisions in the command center that show different maps and security cameras around campus. (Jacqueline Napolitano)
Chief of Police Robert Lenahan discusses monitors in the command center that show different maps and security cameras around campus. (Jacqueline Napolitano)

The new $240,000 facility has been equipped with the latest technology to help Stony Brook get “a little better in terms of enhancing technologies,” Lenahan said. Among the upgrades from the previous Emergency Operations Center, all security cameras on campus have been integrated into the new system.

“We have over a thousand cameras on our campus,” he said. “That’s a lot of IP addresses to remember.”

Integrating the cameras allows not only for a simpler, unified system, but for advanced capabilities as well.

These security cameras can be mapped, as GPS technology has been installed. “We can basically track our campus buses,” Lenahan said. Cameras outside of the campus’ system – even throughout Suffolk County – can also be accessed through the Emergency Operations Center.

Technology related to utilities on campus has also been installed, Lenahan said.

“If there’s a power outage, blackout, HVAC issues, we can pull up existing buildings on this site here, and look to see where the outages are so we can address it.”

 

The system has the capabilities to respond to a variety of threats, both natural and manmade, from hurricanes to terrorist activity. “When you’re talking campus, you’re talking an active shooter scenario,” Lenahan said. “It’s highly unlikely, but you have to be prepared.”

The center, fully funded by the university, can also serve as a secondary location for the Town of Brookhaven’s emergency responders.

“We’ve had a long relationship with the Town of Brookhaven,” Lenahan said. “If something happens to their primary location, they always can come over here, use our facilities.”

While the town has no plans to use the campus’ center at this time, according Brookhaven Communication Director Jack Krieger, Lenahan said the invitation’s open.

“We continue to work with them on a long-lasting relationship,” he said. “It still continues to grow.”

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Madison Flotteron and Courtney Taylor anchoring at the Stony Brook University School of Journalism broadcast studio on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.

A visit to Newsday, followed by a Ducksday

The whirlwind day started in Stony Brook’s Studio B, where Prof. Conway showed us the ropes of TV news.

In a word: amazing.

a shot of Studio B!
a panorama shot of Studio B
I got to play at being an anchor, film a newsbreak, play on the soundboard and be tech director in the booth. Anchoring was a tad nerve-racking (despite my teleprompter blunders, I do know how to read, I swear), but the best job by far was tech director. Clicking buttons to switch cameras and move effects onscreen probably doesn’t sound all that fun, but you’ll have to take my word that it was a blast.

Pressing Buttons: Advanced Edition
Pressing Buttons: Advanced Edition
Next in the day’s long line-up was a talk on covering sports with Newsday Reporter and Editor Bob Herzog. While I’m certainly not a sports person, I found his to be one of the most interesting presentations of the week.

From there, it was off to Newsday to see what a real newsroom and other aspects of real-life journalism looked like. Seeing the timeline stretching around the halls was eye-opening as well – who knew that the paper on my dining room table each morning had such a rich history?

Gifts from Newsday to the Greene program
Gifts from Newsday to the Greene program
What was especially intriguing was the session after we walked the halls. In a special tour room, various Newsday professionals came in to tell about their jobs and answer questions. While each testimony was valuable, my favorite was that of Matt Clark, investigative reporter. The job sounds not only super-cool (he recounted a story he’d uncovered about a multi-state movie theater scam) but genuinely rewarding as well.

And next on the itinerary was a Ducks game at Bethpage Ballpark – Ducks v. Bluefish after the Ducks’ ten-game losing streak (pft, and I said I wasn’t a sports person). My team, Team Wasumesauce (as in “awesome sauce” with Prof. Ahmad’s name in front – I was pushing for “Wasim’s Dream Team,” but I digress) was covering the supposed rivalry between the two teams. The issue, however, was that Bluefish fans were nowhere to be found (that is, until the tail-end of the night, when a man in a Bluefish hat and shirt came to save the day).

As a reporter for that segment, my job involved asking random people if they’d like to be interviewed (or, for a large chunk of the beginning, if they were Bluefish fans – the answer a resounding “no”). Approaching people in the ballpark and asking them questions on camera ended up being a ton of fun. It felt like a real and serious job. (I even tried to speak in my best television voice, picturing the reporters on CNN.)

Behind the camera in Studio B
Behind the camera in Studio B

The team gathered useable material and some great soundbites about the rivalry between the teams (one man insisted he ate, slept, and breathed Ducks – even quacking at random).

I can’t tell much about the game itself, other than the fact that I had a great time (and got some great ballpark popcorn). I can’t wait to put the Ducks story together with my team and see how the final product comes out.

photo 5

On the ride home, after a night of reporting and laughing, Prof. Herzog regaled us with another talk on sports reporting, and the techniques he uses to tell a different story each time (even though, to a non-fan like myself, sports games don’t seem all that different from one another).

While I can’t say I plan on becoming a sports reporter, the stories about his career were incredibly interesting. Prior to his lecture, I would have written sports journalism off as something bland and monotonous. Bob Herzog’s stories, however, bring that field to life in a genuinely exciting light.

photo(4)

I’ve learned so much so fast – I feel like a real journalist at work!

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Reid Rubio

Reid Rubio: A track record of success in journalism

Reid Rubio comes to the 2014 Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists program with impressive skill. Only a sophomore, he was chosen to join Westhampton Beach High School’s broadcast journalism class—a seniors-only program.

Since then, his skill has only grown: as a part of the weekly “Hurricane Watch” program at his school, he has worked in editing, both as an anchor and as director of installments. The program was his first experience in journalism, and he instantly immersed himself and was surprisingly adept at each task given to him, he said.

Teacher Kirsten Philips, who selected Reid for the program, can attest to this.

“Reid is by far one of the best broadcast journalism students in my class this year,” she said. “I recommended him for this program because I believed that it would be a perfect match for him.”

A perfect match it was: In an installment of “Hurricane Watch,” Reid was able to create his favorite “package”—a piece on the Winter Olympics of 2014, in which he used a green screen and created his own virtual set.

In other packages as well, Reid has been able to develop new skills in all avenues of journalism, particularly digital news and other new media outlets. A valued member of “Hurricane Watch,” Reid is a talented student with a passion for well-told news stories.

Outside of his past experience, Reid, a rising junior, comes to the Greene program with an important task: he arrives at Stony Brook this summer to determine whether pursuing journalism in college is the right path for him.

“I am actually in this program to find that out for myself,” he said.

While he does enjoy journalism, he is conflicted about whether or not he would enjoy it as a lifelong career. This summer will not only be important in enhancing journalistic skill, but in paving the path to his future.

His mother, Stacy Rubio, said she can also see the value in Reid attending the Greene program: “I believe that this program will be a great decider for Reid to see whether or not he will pursue a career in this field in the future.”

His broadcast teacher, Mr. Philips, informed him that the Greene program would be “a blast,” as did peer Emma Galasso, a Greene Team alumna from Reid’s school.

“She said that I would shine out at this camp and believes I have a career inside of it.” Reid said, a smile on his face. After this summer’s program, his answer will be determined and, perhaps, a career in journalism pursued.

Reid had an answer at the ready when asked about his favorite journalist.

“Robin Roberts,” he said enthusiastically. “She is such an inspiration with her amazing stories of how she brought “Good Morning America” to being one of the most-watched morning news programs in the nation. My mom got to meet her last month, and [she] told me all about just how great of a person Robin really is.”

The written word is not his only passion, however—he has an athletic side as well. Reid is a year-round competitive swimmer for Westhampton Beach’s varsity swim team, as well as a swimmer for Islanders Aquatics.

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Cops and cotton candy ice cream on campus

Two blog posts in one day – and what a day it’s been!

a selfie with Mary Kate!
A selfie with Mary Kate!

Today was our last photography session with John Williams and, despite yesterday’s epic photo fail, I was pictured in and took pictures that were of semi-decent quality. Progress!

IMG_8544
A really neat photo by Mary Kate Guma — Facebook profile material for sure.

Afterwards, it was off to a film lesson that led into something of a frenzy – all of a sudden, it was time for my team to pursue the interview for our big story – subject not researched, questions unprepared, and bus across campus missed. Oops.

On our walk to the police station, Professor Ahmad filled us in on the story: in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Stony Brook created a high-tech Emergency Operations Center – definitely interesting, and not insanely stressful to cover, as I’d feared when we suddenly left the newsroom.

So, again, another interesting journalistic experience, this time with camera equipment and the on-camera interview process (another surprise was that an inspector at the police station was from Massapequa and knew my aunt; it’s a small world after all!) – with lots of useful video and pictures gathered for our piece.

And, again, we missed the bus.

While it was, again, a long and hot walk, it actually ended up being a really pleasant portion of the day. The glimpses of campus along the way were quite pretty, far exceeding what I’d expected from a college campus. Additionally, Professor Ahmad had some really interesting stories from the field to tell along the way (although his opinion of steak is waaaay wrong~).

My team arrived back to the Greene corner of campus just in time for dinner. In sweaty desperation and uncertainty on my choice of meal, the obvious decision was to stand in front of the open freezer for a good few chilly minutes, pretending to deliberate my dinner from the selection of ice cream – a ridiculous idea, until it came to me that it was actually perfect. Thus, that chunk of the day was capped off with cotton candy ice cream (sorry, Mom).

Jason enjoying a nutritious dinner.
Jason enjoying a nutritious dinner as well.

Next, it was time for film editing and, lastly, blogging. So, here we are.

Tomorrow will be packed with field trips, crazy cool journalistic experience, and, of course, fun (and selfies).

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Photography + press conference + pretzels …

We hit the ground running on the first official day, instantly immersing ourselves in photography and film. While learning from Newsday Photo Editor and Pulitzer Prize winner John Williams was a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience, I highly doubt my blurry shots will be winning the prize next.

My previous experience in photography – the renowned selfie and occasional picture of my little sister doing something cute – were definitely lacking when compared to the technique and set-up needed to take the perfect “action shot.”

My attempt at an action shot of Leslie -- oops.
My attempt at an action shot of Leslie — oops.

Another new experience yesterday was the press conference with Stony Brook’s new athletic director, Shawn Heilbron. It was seriously cool – I felt like a real-deal journalist covering a beat with my notepad and voice recorder. Heilbron seemed like an ambitious professional.

Shawn Heilbron and SBU President Sam Stanley (photo credit: Stony Brook University)

The last class of the evening was about filming to “capture the moment” – the final segment of Prof. Ricioppo’s mantra. While it’s hard to pick a highlight in such a packed day, running around with a camera and tripod and taking ten-second clips of happenings on campus was definitely up there. It really was great – taking shots of fountains and wandering students at dusk, climbing and crouching to get the perfect angle, and holding back laughter while someone else in the group was filming was the perfect way to end the day.

One of the better shots of the day.
One of the better shots of the day.

While I was exhausted (and starving – in what world is 5 p.m. dinnertime???) on the walk back to the dorms, the fun wasn’t over yet. After a quick call from home (and some disdain from my mother as I ate M&M’s at 9:30), my roommate Mary Kate and I heard a knock at the door – the Greene Team girls were assembling in a dorm for Scattergories and snacks.

Scattergories!
Scattergories!
Of course, I was beyond sold on that idea (has there ever been an invention more brilliant than triple-stuffed golden Oreos?). We crowded into the room, sitting in a circle around a slew of snacks and game cards (huge thank you to Kayla’s mom) and joined the game. It was a great time, and a really neat game.

My roommate Mary Kate and I played as a team, scrambling to think of unique boys’ names and celebrities in accordance to the letter chosen for the round (in a stroke of brilliance, she used “Nancy Regan” for celebrities whose names started with “N,” and I got a point for “Octavius” in the category of boys’ names that started with “O.”).

Today looks like another full day, especially now that our teams have been selected and our stories will be pursued in the afternoon.

Fingers crossed for a good one!

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First Days at the Brook

I’d never stayed in a residence hall before, but with five siblings, I am no stranger to sharing a room. Thankfully, this time, my roommate has neither stolen my clothes nor gotten me grounded – although, to be fair, the week is still young.

In addition to a great kick-off barbecue and opening classes (I don’t think a blog about One Direction qualifies me as a pro in the “Art of Blogging,” but nevertheless, the course and subsequent lesson on photography were interesting), my roommate Mary Kate and I hit it off from the start. It was awesome to meet someone equally interested in Game of Thrones, writing (of course), and history – prompting a discussion of historical figures we wished we could meet (her list included Queen Elizabeth I and Alexander the Great, mine Robespierre and Abraham Lincoln) – definitely a conversation I don’t have every day.

Also on the subject of things not done, I was able to complete my profile of Reid Rubio last night (a thousand apologies for it being ridiculously late). A nasty and time-consuming sinus infection, a summer job, and general forgetfulness can never really be a good combination (again, my apologies).

Our press conference for Stony Brook Athletics Director Shawn Heilbron starts soon, which should be a really unique event. The press conferences I’ve seen on TV are always these super serious, tensions-running-high events, and while this certainly won’t be crafted along those lines, I’m excited to have the experience of working a real press conference.

It’s been a great start, and I look forward to the rest of the day and week!

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