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Students Get Second Chance At High School Graduation

17 Aug

For most high school students, graduation is a gateway into adulthood that can be shared with friends and family.  But for some young people like 18 year old Chris Denton, a high school graduation will never come.  After struggling semester after semester to maintain his grades, Chris made the decision to drop out of school.  “The teachers couldn’t maintain control of their classrooms and my grades weren’t that good, so I just didn’t see a reason to keep going.”

Chris also struggled at home and eventually found himself on the streets, doing what he could to make money.  He realized that without a high school diploma, his future wouldn’t be promising.  That is where he says Gateway Community Services stepped in.  A non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids like Chris get off the streets, get their education, and obtain employment.  “After I went in I studied, took the test and got my GED in like two weeks.  I definitely don’t regret my decision to leave school, because now I’m able to move on with my life.”

Tonight, Chris is being honored as one of Gateways many success stories.  He sits alongside several of his peers.  They will all have the opportunity to walk across the stage tonight in what Gateway participant Hazel Cooper considers her high school graduation.  “I honestly never thought I would finish school.  So for me, my boyfriend is here and I get to graduate.  It’s a really good feeling.”   

Although the graduating class only consists of 5 students, for Gateway Director Jennifer McMahon, these 5 students show what the program is all about.  “Many of these students never receive any sort of recognition in their lives.  This graduation tonight is our way of saying well done, and showing them that their achievements do matter.” 

With a hand shake and a smile, Gateway Education Specialist Ruben Watson presents every student with a small key, tied with ribbon around their necks.  “This key is not going to open up a new car or a new house.  But it is something you can keep with you to help you move on to new levels in life.”

And Chris says with his certificate and key in hand, he is excited to move on to the next step in his life.  “You know I appreciate the people at Gateway for helping me.  Ruben was a great guy to work with, and I know I can be really successful.  Got my GED in two weeks, who does that?  I really proved to myself I could do it.”

My Entry Into Knight Foundation Challenge

14 Aug

As a journalist I have always held aspirations that through my work I will one day change the world. Well through a very interesting class assignment, one of my professors has challenged us to think of an idea that will in fact change the world of journalism. For the past four years the Knight Foundation has held a contest awarding $5 million a year to individuals or organizations with innovative ideas to “transform community news, conversations and information distribution and visualization.”
After reading through the great ideas of winners past, I believe that an idea I’ve had for some time now would be a perfect inclusion into the contest. My proposed project is simple. Create a website that allows people to post broadcast news stories on subjects of their choosing, for the world to view. The site will hold everyone to maintain journalistic standards on their work, but it will ultimately be a one stop shop for all the global news any one may feel is worth learning about.
The goal of this project is to bring awareness to stories that perhaps may never get told. I have found that some of the best stories I have covered originated from ideas fed to me by people in the community. Many of these stories get passed upon by professional news organizations because they are either too time consuming or costly to cover. It would then be a great idea to equip the community with a platform to tell their stories in a professional environment that can be fact checked and held as journalistic work.
While the site will mostly attract the work of current working journalist, I also believe it will attract those individuals whom have been waiting to draw light upon important issues in their community. I especially hope it will draw out young people, to open up and tell stories that are important to them as well.
In the world of journalism, it often is assumed that we are the keepers of the information that must be told to the public. By breaking down that barrier of entitlement, much more stories will be told and shared, thus opening up the gateways of information.
While I of course think my idea is great, perhaps you have an idea you think could make a difference. If so, enter it! Visit this website to read up on the Knight Foundation Challenge, and how you can submit your entry!

You can check out my entry here!

Live Coverage…2010 Michigan Primary Elections

9 Aug

Tuesday was a very important day in the world of politics here in Michigan.  Voters around the state had an opportunity to step into the voting booth and cast their decisions for which candidates they would like to see on the ballot come November.  The numerous open positions in both the house and the senate could mean that this year’s election will be a game changer for state politics. 

Possibly one of the biggest discussions around the water cooler is who will be chosen as the Republican and Democratic nominee for governor.  The seat is now open, after being held for eight years by Michigan’s first female governor, Jennifer Granholm.  But this time around the boys have over taken the ballot, all bidding for the coveted seat.  I covered the whole thing live from the 12th precinct voting booth at All Saints Episcopal Church on Abbot Rd. in East Lansing, MI.  Check out the coverage here

For a recap of which candidates will be on the November ballot click here .

Queen of the Blogosphere: Arianna Huffington

31 Jul

Forbes magazine was on to something, when in 2009 they marked Arianna Huffington as the 12th Most Influential Woman in the Media.  And since then she has moved up the charts of Guardian’s Top 100 in the Media List, landing at a very impressive number 42.

And it comes with little surprise that the Greek-American author and syndicated columnist is being given so much acclaim, her current contribution to the online news blog The Huffington Post has made it one of the most read blogs in the world.  Now while I am quite sure I’m not alone in singing her praises for covering a vast array of political, entertainment, and foreign affair issues.   It is the classy and I might I even add intelligent manner in which she approaches her work that has made her a must read on my blog list.

One key reason I tend to migrate to the Huffington Post for info on what is happening in today’s world, is because she follows Jeff Jarvis’s rule for successful online writing, “cover what you do best, and link to the rest.”  Arianna spends little space in her stories discussing, who, what, and how she came across her sources.  Instead she tells you the info, of course gives her own personal opinion and links you to trustable news site, etc. that break down the facts of the story further.  As a television journalist, I appreciate the effectiveness of her approach.  I quickly become frustrated with the mundane and often repetitive nature online news organizations often take in re-telling the news in an online forum.  In my opinion, all I need are the bare facts of the story (ie: why should I care).  If I need further details, link me to where I can obtain them. 

Arianna’s method also, prevents her from having to be the eyes, and ears for the entire world.  No one journalist and/or blogger could possibly accurately cover all the news occurring across the globe.  They can however gather information from several news organizations and summarize for their audience, and in this regard The Huffington Post scores major points with me.

My final input on the Huffington is the simplicity in which the blog is composed.  If it has not yet been gathered, I absolutely despise wasting my time.  When online, I look for sites that keep me informed without confusing me with strange layouts and links.  Once again, gold star goes to the Huffington Post for keeping it simple.  The top of the homepage consist of list of topics from news to food to college and to travel.  I click, I read, I’m informed and entertained.  No scrolling through strange or old content.  And of course there is the beloved “search” button in the top right corner of the blog.  So if what I’m looking for doesn’t immediately jump out at me, I can find it myself!  Kudos Ms. Huffington on keeping it simple and thus keeping yourself #1 on my must read blog list.

Wikipedia Post- Gateway Communtiy Services

22 Jul

Very few people know much about the amazing resources available in the Lansing area.  While researching a news story, I was fortunate to learn about a great non-profit program in the community called Gateway Community Services.  They work to assist teens that are either at risk or from low income households obtain an education and find career and life paths that will help them grow and become valuable contributors to our society.  Their programs include a 24-hour crisis line, lodging for runaway youth, and career placement services. 

While much of what is discussed in the media tends to focus on the negative, programs like this are working to build strong communities and their efforts deserve recognition.  To my surprise, this program did not yet have a Wikipedia page, which means there may be quite a bit of individuals out there who can benefit from their resources but just have not heard about them yet.    Please visit their newly created Wikipedia page at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_Community_Services

Or visit their website at http://www.gatewayservices.org

For more information about their programs!

Toyota Brand Survives Latest Recalls

18 Jul

It is no secret that Toyota has had a rough year in 2009 after recalling more than 8 million vehicles worldwide due to faulty gas pedals.  Their most recent troubles came this July, when the automaker announced it was recalling 138,000 Lexus cars due to engine problems.  According to CNN the engines were prone to stall out in rare instances.  However, despite all of this, the motor giant has somehow managed to rise through the flames in 2010, posting in May a $2.2 billion annual profit for the fiscal year.

In its 72 year history, the automaker has managed to stay at the top of the market in the United States trumping out both Ford and General Motors in 2008, becoming the number one car maker in the world according to the New York Times.  But just how has the automaker managed to overcome these continuous recalls?

The answer to that question may be found at the heart of Toyota’s success, its customers.  For the past 72 years Toyota has built a brand that rest on dependability and reliance, and their loyal customers were not about to leave them in the dust during their recall crisis.

Andrea Tavernini of Galveston, Texas is one of those customers.  She told ABC news that after owning three Toyota vehicles in the past; she intends to buy a fourth car from them this year.  “I know they’ve gotten a bad rap lately, but they’re amazing products.”

Toyota driver Linda Abar of Lansing, Michigan still believes in the brand as well.  Stating, “Toyota is great.  My husband drives one, and that’s the reason why I decided to get one.  They are well made cars, and I don’t understand why everyone is so up in arms about this whole thing.”   

(Click video for more from Linda Abar)

ABC news reports that “some customers are actually more confident of the brand than ever.”  These reports taken from Edmunds.com showed that “49 percent of Toyota’s sales have come from consumers trading in other Toyota vehicles, up from 42 percent last year.” 

Toyota has also stepped up incentives for customers, ultimately costing them “$2,800   for every vehicle they sold in March,” according to ABC.

This month was however the first time Toyota stepped forward and acknowledged that “an internal review found sudden-acceleration complaints to be valid.”

For detailed locations relevant to the recalls check google map here.

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Sources

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/toyota-survived/story?id=11146496

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/toyota_motor_corporation/index.html?scp=1&sq=toyota%20recalls&st=cse

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/29/business/main6153710.shtml?tag=mncol;lst;6

http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/02/autos/lexus_engine_recall/index.htm

BP Removes Cap from Well

10 Jul

BP attempts to apply new cap to oil well

Today, BP removed the cap plugging the oil leak in the gulf, in an effort to gain full control over the leak.  The current cap has stopped the flow of oil considerably but has not been able to successfully close off the spill.  As an alternative, the New York Times reported that BP has developed an ambitious engineering plan.  Their new plan entails installing a new cap over the leak which would allow them to collect all the oil inside the well.  That’s an approximate 35,000 to 65,000 barrels a day.

 BP’s senior vice president who has been left in charge of the spill cleanup, announced at a press conference today that it would take 4 to 7 days for the newly designed cap to be placed back over the spill.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the previous containment cap had allowed some of the oil to be captured and funneled to a ship on the surface of the water.  After the cap was removed at about 12:30pm today however, more oil is leaking out temporarily.

The Obama administration which has voiced its dissatisfaction with BP’s speed in handling the situation in the past has now sent a letter to BP asking for details regarding BP’s plans to replace the seal.  USA Today reports that the letter from Obama administration point person Thad Allen, also request information on how the company plans to stop the spill completely.  Allen’s letter specifically stated, “I must have knowledge of the steps and decision points involved; mitigation efforts to be implemented; and contingency plans if these efforts are not successful.”

In their morning press conference today, BP has made it clear that they are not operating without a back-up plan.  Kent Wells stated, “We always have backups for our backups.  We do have other containment systems, we have another top hat that we’re prepared to put back on.”  In BP’s response to Allen’s letter, they also included plans to handle additional oil that will be released throughout the process of changing the caps.  The New York Times reports that their plan will include having more than 40 large or midsize skimmers near the well site and 14 teams ready to conduct controlled burns.

It is a good thing BP is planning ahead because the Obama administration would like to see them take care of the problem fast.  That is because weather reports aren’t looking favorable around the Gulf in the upcoming summer months, and there is the potential risk that the already spreading leak may cause more damage if hurricanes sweep through Mexico or the southern United States.

For right now, USA Today says that the Obama administration lawyers are working in a New Orleans appeals court, hoping to have the six-month moratorium on deep water oil drilling re-instated.

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The link below taken from The New York Times website shows a visual image of the current oil spill.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/05/01/us/20100501-oil-spill-tracker.html?ref=us

Sources:

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/us/11spill.html?_r=1&hp

USA Today: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/07/obama-team-asks-bp-to-step-up-plan-to-cap-oil-spill/1

The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704075604575357001470959526.html