Field to newsroom, cleats to words, growing pains

Ideas and teamwork fill the cold air of the newsroom. Sitting here, I’m in love with the atmosphere around me. Here we are, aspiring journalists mimicking what it’s like to actually be one.

Every day I become more inspired by the professionals I meet, the tasks we take on, and the information we learn. But there’s something that inspires me most: my fellow peers. It’s amazing how we interact like professionals using specialized terms as though we’ve been co-workers for years. I really do enjoy the Greene Team, the members, my friends. All of them are amazing people who have their quirks and talents; it truly makes this experience. It sparks my fire inside. I’m more inspired now than I was before I came here to RWG.

Yesterday in Professor Haddad’s writing analysis class we discussed how articles need dramatic suspense. In class, Chloe and I demonstrated asking the right questions to get the information we need for dramatic suspense. Chloe brought up the hardest decision of my life; walking away from soccer. She asked a very good question that lead to another and another. It became hard for me to hold back my emotions because again, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

My teammates came up with great questions. While I was up there being interrogated on a topic I wasn’t exactly ready to be questioned about (especially in an open forum), something hit me. I was finally experiencing something close to what I had when I played soccer. My team was my family. Unconditional love. We all shared a deep passion. A passion for the last five minutes of a tied game, the winning goal in the last second, the simple kicking of the ball on the field. That’s what I have here.

I have a group of people around me who feel how I do. They share the passion I have; all of us sharing the ultimate goal of making it in this business. I once dreamed of playing on a college team hearing the stands roar as I walked out onto a field full of memories, heartbreak, triumph, and passion. Is that not what I have here? Is that not what my future may hold? A newsroom full of yes, you guessed it, memories, heartbreak, triumph, and passion. And these peers of mine, my fellow Greene team members, they give me that. They give me a feeling I haven’t felt in a long long time. So thank you.

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(Top left: Massapequa Elite before our NY State Cup game. Top Right: After our victory over HBC Intense during the NY State Cup Game. Bottom: Greene Team visiting WLNY)

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Lights, camera, freeze

I have never been impressed with TV anchors.  Basically they need two qualifications: to look good and be able to read.  Today I found out there is much more to the job than that.  Even the set was intimidating.  It’s an odd thing seeing a table and chairs on a nice platform with the only thing surrounding it is wires.

I have a history of freezing up under pressure so I was relieved to find out my group was going last in our on-camera exercise.  But as more groups went the pressure grew. So many thoughts were going through my head: Remember to throw it back to the anchors, pick three questions and stare at the person. My mind went completely blank at soon as the camera turned on me.

Trying to act upbeat when you’re dying inside is a hard feat to conquer. I managed to mumble over my words but was not as lucky when it came to my interview. I tried to read notes on my hand but ended up looking more idiotic. I could feel my face getting redder by the second.  I collapsed in my chair when I was done.  I did get one thing out of this though: I can now permanently cross TV anchor off my list of career choices.

 

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What an opportunity

This has been the best week of my life! The first day I didn’t know how much I would enjoy the program. It winds up that I had an unbelievable time. I am blogging right now from a sad perspective because the week is almost over.

In seventh grade, I had a baseball tournament in Cooperstown and stayed in the dorm rooms for the week at SUNY Oneonta with all of my friends. Up to this point, that had been the best experience of my life. However, this was an entirely unique journey.

As Professor Haddad says, every good story has a struggle. Coming into the program and not knowing anyone was not difficult, and I didn’t know what to expect. One week later I have become friends with people who I plan on knowing for a long, long time.

Every moment of this program was awesome. I never found this much joy in education before in my life (maybe because there were no tests).

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Out and About

Today, we crossed the bridge. For the past couple of days, we worked in the land of print and today, we crossed into T.V . As we walked into Stony Brook’s T.V. studio, I couldn’t help but feel like Matt Lauer and Dan Rather.  As I interviewed William Stieglitz, I couldn’t help but feel like those anchors on T.V. It’s an amazing power to be able to tell people something new. It’s  a special responsibility, especially considering that your reporting shapes a person’s perception on a topic.  Failure to properly report not only misinforms the public but also hurts your reputation.

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Harder than it looks

I’ll admit it. I don’t think I’ve written a true news article since freshman year. My time as a member of my school’s Cover Times has been spent writing opinionated editorial, jam packed with ideas and bit of bias. So when I was given the job of writing an article on QuackerJack, The Long Island Ducks mascot, I didn’t exactly follow the typical format. I did it my way, filled with characteristic judgments that I don’t even realize are judgments at all.

I soon discovered that this was wrong. Articles are news, and news is fact. I can’t call something “The perfect night out” unless it’s being said by someone else. It was a challenge to accept this. I’m used to writing about my opinion, be it on an editorial or on an essay for English class. I fill my writing with my analyses, the things I’ve determined based on my evidence. My conclusions alone aren’t acceptable in the world of hard journalism, and that’s that. You need solid facts, true quotes.

Thankfully, I wasn’t taught this by some parading egomaniac. Professor Cathrine Duffy, one of our main professors in the program, was my editor today. She did not change my words for me like some editors might, she instead showed me where I was wrong and got me to fix it myself. I’m aware that this is a learning experience and it is her job, but some people in situations of authority like that often take the reins and forget the teaching aspect.

I know I will be going home with a greater knowledge of how to write a true article. Although it was tough to come to terms with the fact that the article may have been just plain bad, fixing it with Professor Duffy has taught me more in one hour than I’ve learned in a year of working for my school newspaper. I’m curious what humbling experiences my other Greene Team members have experienced this week? I’m sure we all have, as this is a major part of the program this week.

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On Camera: Did they really do that?

News broadcasters may seem to work effortlessly in front of the camera, but that’s just because I, along with everyone else, are simply distracted by their seeming appearance of confidence and flawlessness.  To my surprise, there are so many nerve-racking things to be considered on the job. My eyes were opened as I stepped into the shoes of a live reporter.

Not only did I have to look good and professional, but I also had to enthusiastically “tell a story” in front of the camera, even if I wasn’t familiar with that story. I was nervous and tried my best to at least not sound nervous. I knew that with every word that came out of my mouth there would be some one to criticize them. Surprisingly, I did not do as bad as I thought I would and was just happy to get the feedback from Professor Marcy McGinnis. Broadcasting happens live and we all know that anything can happen live on air or radio.

Broadcasters have actually pulled off a lot of stuff that viewers wouldn’t even imagine! People should definitely watch the 1987 film,  ”Broadcast News.” I have never seen it, but teachers and students have expressed how accurate it portrays the crucial job of a broadcaster.


There is much pressure to be absolutely perfect and not make any mistakes while on camera, but there have indeed been a multiple of slip ups that are actually quite awkward and humorous and have you thinking “Did they really do that?”

(Check out the YouTube video and have a laugh)

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Odd Fellow

Professor Haddad told us this quote on Tuesday during a lecture, and of course I forgot it so I looked it up. Turns out, my man William James said:

Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.”

The man that I really am is a young, mellow, slightly odd fellow. He lives in a room with glass walls but no doors. Just one window. And the people I let in to that window are like a cool breeze. And everyone needs to look out the window and feel the wind on the face.

I make an effort not to let unnecessary drama invade my thoughts or disrupt my journey toward zen* or samadhi*.

This week has been an awakening of some sorts. I’m now beginning to see how people truly see me. I was referred to as “mysterious”, “quiet”, and was known to disappear from time to time. I don’t usually talk a lot. I write more so I can talk less actually.  And that’s just a personal preference of mine because I feel that if you don’t have anything meaningful to say, why waste your breath. I don’t waste my breath because I mean every letter in the words in the sentence of my quotes (“Dr. Carter”).

Zen: a Buddhist doctrine that enlightenment can be attained through direct intuitive insight and meditation

Samadhi: A state of intense concentration achieved through meditation. In Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, this is regarded as the final stage, at which union with the divine is reached.

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My second German film

Last night, we of the Greene Team watched Westwind, an independent German movie, at the Stony Brook Film Festival. I don’t know about everyone else, but this is actually my second time watching a film from Germany.

The first time was not quite the same. I had still spent a lot of time reading words on the screen, but they weren’t subtitles for translation as they were in this movie. Rather, they were more like visual dialogue. You see, this movie had no sound. It was the 1927 science fiction classic Metropolis.

Whereas that movie was a two and a half long epic about a dystopian future, Westwind was a lighter film about twin sisters from East Germany training as rowers for the Berlin Olympics. It focused greatly on the personal struggles of the girls as well as the tensions that existed in the split Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Although I didn’t like it as much as Metropolis (that is one of my favorite movies), Westwind was still a pleasure to watch and a treat after a long day of work in the newsroom. Keep pumping out those movies Germany, they’re really good.

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Reflections

Here we are. An action-packed week gone by just like that. Coming into this week , I really didn’t know what to expect. Here I was , surrounded by strangers from all over Long Island. I knew that each had something special to them, considering that admission was competitive, but I was wary, nonetheless. As time went on, I got to know everyone and I can say truthfully that every single individual that was a part of this program is absolutely extraordinary. I think that everyone who was part of this program will agree that they have never experienced anything like this before and will never experience anything like it after. Thanks to Professors Duffy, Ahmad and Dowdy for an amazing experience.

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My play-by-play: Tracking every quack of the bat

Covering a game between the Long Island Ducks and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs was as challenging as some of the play on the field for both teams.

It helped to be prepared: there was plenty of homework to be done before the cameras could capture a the play-by-play recording of the game itself. Chris King, the Ducks’ announcer, said , shared his own winning formula: be prepared and have as much knowledge of the game and players as possible.

And Bud Harrelson,  former Ducks head coach and a 1969 World Series Mets player, stopped by and reminisced about his days playing on the championship Met team during that winning season.

The first-time filming experience also brought challenges:  filming and broadcast coach and professor, Rick Ricciopo, showed how a camera positioned at different angles during the game could capture different actions during the game.

The unexpected happens, however: Just as the Crabs hit a weak ground ball to shortstop,  a fan walked right in front of the camera, blocking the view just as the shortstop threw to first base. Rick’s advice: follow the base runner down the baseline to first base or film players crossing home plate along with their celebratory high-fives.

At one point, a batter from Southern Maryland hit a foul ball behind the batting cage, coming close to hitting our area; instead it bounced off the roof facing and landed in the stands. No one was injured.

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The baseball team worked hard for a dream, so can I

Today the Greene squad got to interview three of the Seawolves players that made it do the College World Series. The three of them told us how great coach Matt Senk is and how hard he pushed them this year. They also discussed the feeling of amazement they had after beating Louisiana State University in the Super Regionals and walking into the ballpark at Omaha. Just seeing their faces light up when speaking about it showed me that it must be amazing. On top of their great season, seven of the players are going on to either play in Major League Baseball or the MLB Rookie League. Seeing this team made me realize that a dream isn’t too far away, and if I work hard, I can become whatever I want.

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My first foreign film

At first I didn’t think I would like a foreign film but now I plan on watching more foreign films on Netflix.

German movies are just as good as American movies. The actresses and actors are so talented much more than I thought.

The film, Westwind, was so amazing at one point I felt like I was going to cry.

In a few words to summarize the movie was about twin sisters who learn to let go and grow apart when one of them falls in love with a guy who is from a whole different place and their was was in a way forbidden. It reminds me of how close my sisters and I are even though we aren’t twins but we do have a close bond. I saw how sad and mad the sister got when the other was all in love and becoming her own person. The quote that stuck out to me was when the sister asked the other to” act normal” because now that she was in love she was different and much more distanced. She learned to accept the fact that her sister was in love and that they would not be side by side through out their whole life.

It’s a life lesson to me because I know that sooner or later my three younger sisters will grow up and I won’t be their only protector or best friend – but hey that’s life.

I loved the romance in this film it reminds me of how beautiful love is and love truly does conquer all.

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A change of heart on sports journalism

Quackerjack

Children at Ducks Stadium enjoy an array of games, many involving the star of the team, QuackerJack.

I’ll admit it, before today I looked at sports writers as the jocks of the journalism world. All brawn, no brain. How could a Yankee game compare to something as incredibly important as a presidential election or a scandal on Wall Street? A visiting sports writer for Newsday and professor at Stony Brook, Bob Herzog, proved me wrong. As I told him and the other advisers of my teams plan for a story on the mascot of the ducks, QuackerJack, he came up with a brilliant final line to go along with the one word QuackerJack gave us: “Quack.”

Herzog said “You can finish it with the line, ‘And as always, QuackerJack had the last say’ with a cut to a shot of QuackerJack quacking.”

This, to me, seemed brilliant. Not only was it clever, it utilized the footage we had taken as well. Ultimately, this idea would have never occurred to me. And to top it all of, that little bit of genius came from a sports writer, someone who I had vastly underestimated. I immediately rescinded my opinion. I accepted that sports journalists, just like those who deal with science or politics, work just as hard and are just as talented, if not more. News is news, it pulls interest on that privilege alone. Sports writers need to convince the reader that this game wasn’t “just another game” every time.

This experience not only lead me to change my mind, it also got me thinking about my future. With the training in journalism like “Coach” Herzog had had, would I one day be able to come up with someone as clever as he did? While did say “I like to think I’m pretty clever” he also contributed some of his wit to his many years in the lighthearted sports industry, where a clever headline is the key to a great story. So far, it seems I’m learning much more than journalism here at the Robert Greene Institute, I’m learning to be open to changing myself and the way I look at the world.

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I’ve never licked my own elbow

In response to Josh’s “I’ve never seen my own face.

It is well past dinner time, yet still I’m not hungry. Maggie’s munching on cereal, I’m on an adrenaline high, and in a room not too far away, the Greene Team is eating pizza. It’s funny. There are plenty of times when I’m at home and I get hungry at this time. But there’s always food around to create that hunger. Ritz Bits, potato chips, yogurt. Not here. We can’t even get food without an escort.

The reason for this rant is to show that everything we taste is based on perspective. But how can you have perspective on something you’ve never truly tasted? Today on the Greene Gazette, I spent the majority of five minutes reading Josh Odam’s post. And that made me realize that I’ve never tasted my elbow. As a matter of fact, no one has ever tasted their elbow. Every time I try to lick my elbow, I just miss. By that logic, I will never truly know what my elbow tastes like. Others, maybe, but never my own.

(I don’t know if you’ll post this. I just like satire.)

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The art of attraction and my profile story

In psychology, we learned that over time, when we are constantly exposed to a certain person or thing, we tend to become more attached and attracted to that object.

This is not true of our profile assignment. The longer those 500 words appeared on my computer screen, the more frustrating I got. For hours it seemed the only progress I made was through the backspace button.

On the brink of a mental breakdown, Professor Ahmad came over to help me find my lead. He shared a story about how his editor sent him out to photograph his story, even though he was a writer and had no experience with a camera.

This story was meant to exemplify the type of story that made a good news hook. But to me, this represented much more. I hope in the next days I can follow his lead. Instead of second guessing myself and worrying so much about not being good enough, I need to make an effort to take more risks and try out new things. A motivational text message from my mother reads, “You’re not expected to know everything. You’re here to learn!”

And by the way, the feeling of pressing the “submit for review” button on my profile story was a great relief.

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Making dad proud (or maybe just jealous)

My family is crazy.

Baseball crazy to be exact. Odds are if there is no answer at the Neal family door it is because it is baseball season (though for us that is summer, spring AND fall). My dad and brother are the worst (or the best, depending how you look at it). Both Anthonys are very involved in our town’s travel team: The Cyclones. Dear ol’ dad is the team’s manager and the little brother is a master of pitching, hitting, fielding and all things in between.

So, naturally, my first time away from home two of my days have revolved around baseball. Did you guys in charge plot with my mom to formulate the perfect way to get me to miss home?

Yesterday sparked the slight homesickness.

Hearing stories of big leaguers straight from ‘Coach’ Bob Herzog was just the beginning, and was certainly something the boys back home would be jealous of.

The Ducks game distinctly reminded me of a game that the entire Cyclones “family” had attended of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones. After the game, there were fireworks and we all rode the cyclone at Coney Island.

This morning when we were given our assignment to interview the Stony Brook baseball team, I was instantly reminded of Father’s Day this year.

My family was gathered at a local restaurant to eat as a celebration. As we waited, we were standing in view of the television behind the bar. And wouldn’t you know that it was tuned into a SBU baseball game. Needless to say, a portion of our night was dedicated to discussing how SBU was helping bring baseball recognition to the Northeast.

While were interviewing the players and exploring the athletic facilities it was impossible to keep the boys off my mind!

P.S: Hey, Ant, if you are reading this it is never too early to start thinking about college and SBU sure has a lot to offer, especially to someone as dedicated to the sport of baseball as you.

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A picture is worth 1/1000 shutter speed

I own a camera which I use to take pictures of nature and special events, but other than one course at a library I have never taken lessons. My time on the Greene Team has provided me with another opportunity.

At the beginning of a photography class taught by Professor John Williams, we were given cameras, went outside, and told to take pictures. The teacher wouldn’t answer any questions; we had to figure out what to do on our own.

It wash pleasantly warm outside and the large campus provided many opportunities for photos. The only problem was how to use the camera. I easily found the on switch and the button which is used to take photos. When I tried shooting the camera, the images came out so bright a lot of them just looked like white squares. I had no idea how to adjust the light. Eventually either I hit a certain button or I got into a shadier area because I was able to take good photos. I took pictures of some flowers, trees, and a recycling bin.

When we got back inside Professor Williams taught us how to adjust shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. Shutter speed is the setting of how fast a camera will take a picture; it is useful for if you are trying to get a picture of a fast moving object without it being blurred. ISO and aperture both relate to adjusting the lighting for the camera (this came in handy A LOT). Using the new skills I learned, I went outside with the rest of the Greene Team and took photos which came out very well. The best ones I took were one of a person sitting on a bench taken from an angle that gives depth to the image, a close up photo of an insect on a flower, and a photo of a circular fountain in which the water springing up can be made out clearly throughout it.

I loved learning the new techniques and getting to go outside to take photos. There was large room for creativity, and there’s really nothing I enjoy more than that.

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Hitting the ground running

The Greene Team Newsroom

After our 6:50 a.m. wake up [: ( ], i wasn’t sure what to expect on my first day with the Greene team. After breakfast at the Student Activities Center, we made our way to the newsroom, the place where we’ll spend most of our time here at Stony Brook. As I walked into the newsroom, I was amazed. Having been at CNN in Atlanta, I saw their massive newsroom full of computers, news tickers and TV screens which adorned the walls.

Well, all that exists in our newsroom, in a much smaller quantity of course. It’s great to be using the same equipment as the pros. Our first lecture was on what, exactly, journalism is about. We learned how events and ideas become news stories and what it takes to report them properly. After that, we interviewed Dr. Tonjanita Johnson on her experiences in becoming a journalist and how she used her journalistic skills and applied those to other fields. We then had our first photography lesson with Professor John Williams, an award-winning photographer who’s covered events such as the Olympics, Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in Haiti (just to name a few). We took photos and learned the basic of operating a professional-grade camera. It was amazing to see the hassles photogs go through to take a single photo.

Taken in the Melville Library Central Reading Room – Matt Maron

We then learned the basics of taking video, which was also an enthralling experience. I can’t wait to begin learning how to use professional video editing software.

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Greene Team at work

The Greene Team at work

Photo taken by Matt Maron


The Greene Team gets interviews going at Bethpage Ballpark on Tuesday.

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Checking out Newsday and WLNY

Yesterday was exciting, long and productive. Like school, I and the other students had an early start to our much anticipated day. Not being a morning person, I surprisingly was quite energized at 6:15 am and got up rather easily as soon as my alarm clock went off. I was ready to explore the new things that awaited me in the program.

First off, were the tours of news outlets. The newsrooms of Newsday were filled with journalists busy at work with piles of papers stacked on each desk. I witnessed such hardworking attitudes in the couple of seconds that I was there. I also learned so much history behind the paper itself. It was interesting to see old photographs depicting the origination of Newsday and of course, photographs of the founder herself, Alicia Patterson.  The second news corporation that I and the other students visited was WLNY. There, we were greeted by a friendly anchor by the name of Richard Rose who told us about his experience.

Last but not least, was my most favorite part of the day: the Ducks game! My group and I had tons of fun covering a cute little story about the baseball experience for kids. All the children were as adorable and enthusiastic as ever. They were even willing enough to be goofy and give us their best quack!

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Flowers don’t judge

In this day and age, most people love themselves more than anything else. They would probably spend hours looking in the mirror if they could. I probably pass at least 12 people a day looking at their reflection in their phones. Having a good sense of confidence is healthy while others overdose on it.

Today we had to take self portraits, and let’s just say I wasn’t very happy. I like being behind the scenes more, hiding behind equipment. Laying down on the grass taking pictures of myself with a huge camera drew some odd looks from passing college kids. There is something about my face that doesn’t get along with the camera. One of my eyes get really small while the other one expands – I guess you could say I am not photogenic.

Videotaping was very interesting, though. I mostly liked it because flowers can’t criticize your work. I still don’t completely understand the different settings because my memory space is the size of a pea. Some days I am lucky if I can remember my phone number. As a future journalist I need to learn to deal with people and not only objects.

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