Invested Journalist Talks Coffee

A Seattle based chain of ‘Starbucks’ coffee underwent a financial struggle that had set the company’s plans for development back by five years. An Investigative reporter finds the truth on the matter based off early hunches.

Melissa Allison, journalist of the Seattle Times, was given permission by her newspaper to go investigate overseas in order to search for reasons why ‘Starbucks’  franchise had been unable to build new coffee shops in India. Local ‘Starbucks’ representatives had promised new coffee houses in 2006, but the first ‘Starbucks’ was not built until October of last year. “At the time, there was all this speculation that their application with the Indian government had fallen through,” Allison claimed, “or they had a partner they didn’t like.” Allison began her research in India by interviewing the local coffee growers and workers there. She asked them questions about their living conditions, in order to gain insight on farm production and the overall demand for coffee in India. Since the majority of American coffee comes from Latin America, Allison suspected that ‘Starbucks’ must have found difficulties while pursuing their project due to the Indian plantation’s poverty, and lack of coffee bean imports. Allison also made calls to Indian Plantation owners, and it was around that time that she realized the problem arrived not from the plantation’s poverty, but the poverty from the franchise itself. ” Now we know that it’s because they hit a financial speed bump and they pulled back on their US stores.” said Allison. Allison was also given a 15,000 grant from the International Foundation of Seattle for her story on the ‘Starbucks’ chain. which not only paid for Allison’s trip, but also allowed the ‘Times’ to add new columns such as “The Seattle Globalist”. Jim Simon, assistant managing editor for the Seattle Times, stated “This is the first time we ever received a grant for a broad area of coverage,” then added, “They give us very broad parameters for the types of stories we want to run.”

Allison’s story was a great achievement for her local newspaper as well as newpapers everywhere, but what if Allison never found her story? Would it be worth the risk for a journalist to make expenses in order to pursue international and better news? How far would you have gone compared to Allison’s investigative reporting, and would you have gone to the same places?


Bending Rules Can Lead to Deaths

Bands playing, drinks being poured, and couples dancing pretty much sums up The Nightlife.

The Nightlife allows young people to let loose and forget all their worries for just one night. They hit the clubs in search for an unforgettable night that would ignite laughable stories the next day. Unfortunately, Brazil’s lively city of Santa Maria will only be mourning and telling stories of how loved ones lived.

Exceeding the room capacity of 691 people, Kiss Nightclub was booming with over 2,000 people Saturday night, everyone trying to get in and listen to the band Gurizada Fandangueira play. What happened next was nowhere near cheering and applauses, but rather screams of horror and pushing and shoving.

The band ended one of their songs with pyrotechnic effects, causing the ceiling to catch on fire. The blazing fire spread quickly and over 2,000 people started running towards the only known exit. With the lights quickly burning out and the exit sign not clearly marked, people started running in all sorts of directions. To make things worse, some fire extinguishers were fake and had expired licenses.

As everyone tried to rush out Kiss nightclub, many stumbled and fell by the exit, causing people to either be trampled on or get stuck in the building with the fire quickly growing. Many ran towards the bathroom for safety, while others tried making holes in the walls, but there was no use.

The fire claimed the life of 234 people. Phones ringing, people searching for their loved ones, firefighters breaking down walls, the aftermath was difficult to see. As family members rushed to the scene to identify the bodies, they wanted explanations.

The investigation is still going on, trying to figure out what started the fire. The co-owner of Kiss nightclub, Mauro Hoffman was taken into custody for questioning.

This is not the first case people hear about fires at nightclubs. Many nightclubs have also been burned down all over the worlds mainly because of pyrotechnic effects. Not only that, but many die in these incidents because people bend the rules of safety. People need to be aware that there are safety guidelines for a reason and it can help save people’s lives. There has to be more safety check-ups on nightclubs, so these incidents stop claiming people’s lives.

People also need to be aware of their surroundings when they go to a packed event. We have to be aware of where the exit signs are and know that if we see something unsafe in a situation, to leave immediately.

But who is to blame for the Kiss nightclub fire?

Could it have been the guards, since they stopped people from leaving because they hadn’t paid yet? Could it have been the owner of Kiss Nightclub, who knew the room capacity and that the fire extinguishers were expired? Or could it have been the band Gurizada Fandangueira, who were aware that fireworks weren’t allowed in the club, yet used them anyway? People want answers and the current debate is, should everyone be responsible for the death of those people or should Hoffman take all the blame?

Syria: The most important and deadly place for journalists

To be a journalist in Syria means you are a target, not of public scrutiny but of President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces. Journalists devoted to reporting factual, sensory, and current events in Syria face the burden of fairly reporting in a highly restrictive and dangerous country and face the challenge of protecting their colleagues, informants, and themselves.

Syria has been dubbed ‘the most dangerous place in the world for journalists‘ because 26 media professionals have died covering the fighting, and five remain missing. For those journalists that survive under these stressful situations, every day of reporting brings new risks of trespassing, being caught, or their safe house becoming compromised.

Many media companies hesitate sending journalists to Syria because of the deadly implications, yet their journalistic presence is one of the few outlets for the world to know what is happening in Syria. The AP news wire and the New York Times are committed to having a strong presence in Syria, although some of their staff have been injured or killed .

Should assignment editors hesitate sending journalists to illegally enter and report in Syria? Or, should assignment editors take the risk in order to provide the public with factual and important reporting in Syria? As a journalist, would you hesitate or take the risk?

Prepackaged News

As local TV stations are struggling to fill more hours of air-time, syndicated news stories are appearing on local newscasts across the country.

TV Networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and CNN have pumped out syndicated stories to their affiliates across the nation for decades. However, today so many more stations receive and use the stories from such feeds now than they did in the past.

Syndicated feature stories used to run only when a local story ran late or fell through, according to Deborah Potter,  executive director of NewsLab. Today, fluffy fodder has become a staple rather than a fallback for local news operations as they are now forced to fill huge amounts of air time.

Is this a problem? Conan O’Brien highlighted the humor in this issue when he strung together 28  nearly identical clips of stone-faced local news anchors repeating the opening line “Is this the end of e-mail overload?” while introducing a syndicated story about a new software program. This story went out to CNN Newsource’s over 800 affiliates and aired on at least 225 stations.

A lapse of experience in local news rooms has also been cited as a contribution to the prevalence of prepackaged news. Average pay at local TV stations rose by just 2 percent in 2011, failing to keep up with inflation. “That’s likely the result of stations adding people who are mostly entry-level– or at least paid at a noticeably lower rate than existing staff,” says Bob Papper of Hofstra University. As pay has remained stagnant, air-time has increased by more than an hour since 2008.

Are media corporations more qualified than our local journalists to bring us the news? Is there any danger in relying heavily on network corporations to bring us the news? Is there any hope to improve local news stations?

Inauguration Day Doesn’t Bring in Diverse Crowd

African Americans, Latin Americans, women, and the gay community were among the most social minorities represented at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21.

It seems that  a mass of President Obama’s 93 percent of African American voters attended his inaugural ceremony this year than compared to last. The rising numbers of Blacks on this day can not only be attributed to another historic moment, but inauguration day was held on Martin Luther King Day as well. Latin Americans in support of a better immigration policy were full front and large in numbers on the president’s second inaugural but it leads many journalists to wonder why other social minorities of this county lacked in numbers on this day. Yes there was a Cuban inaugural poet, Hispanic Supreme Court justice, and an African-American activist who opened up that day with the invocation speech, but that really does not show the genetic makeup this country has to offer.

Women were among the masses out there that Monday morning to see provision from Obama on bridging the gap with discrimination and equal rights to their male counterparts, as were the gay and lesbian community who received public support by Obama backing for legal same-sex marriage.

There is strength in numbers and frankly those numbers were low when it came to other minority groups such as Asian Americans, Native Americans, or Pacific Islanders being present on inauguration day.  President Obama won the votes 73 percent of Asian Americans, yet their attendances in inauguration festivities were low. There were even comments from the Jewish community by readers on a blog post that expressed disappointment in the so called Jewish values that took place during inaugural week. It seems that mainstream media only acknowledged the diverse crowd that participated in the inaugural events and what actually reached only the surface of faces seen or religions touched.

This country is not made up of just 1 of everything: 1 ethnicity, 1 religion, or even 1 language; so when only 2 ethnicities are accounted for on one of the biggest days in American history, it contradicts the metaphorical nickname of the U.S. being considered a melting pot. Instead of how many faces you saw like yours on inauguration day in the crowd or even on the inaugural platform, how many faces actually stood? What did diversity look like to you on inauguration day and if there was any how did mainstream media portray it to be?

Is the Media to Blame?

With mass murder shootings becoming more frequent and real, some believe the media is to blame for the fame of the shooters.

With mass shootings like in Newtown, Connecticut or Aurora, Colorado there is always a “master mind” or plan behind it. Or at least that is what these shooters believe they are. And so do their copy cats. Executive VP, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA states that these shooters are now receiving the sense of identity they have been craving. Recently a petition has been filed to stop the printing of the shooters information, no names or faces. The signers believe, along with many others, the media’s hype of this person is the reason the shootings are still taking place. They have become some sort of an idol.

With that said, in order for the information to be withheld, which is so unheard of, there would have to be a complete vow of silence from every reporter or journalist and police officer. No details could be released, nothing to suggest this person is any different than another. No history or even the type of gun used.

If this vow of silence does work, how are reporters suppose to do their job? The public has a right to know what is going on in their town, yes? So what is the difference between this petition to stop mass murders names from being leaked and the petition Trayvon Martin’s parents have set up, trying to convict his killer? Would this just happen with mass murders or celebrities, or would it be the standard for every shooting and killing from now on?

Journalists under scrutiny for posting names of Sandy Hook shooters

Following the Sandy Hook tragedy, the question as to whether the names of the shooters of these sorts of incidents should be made public worked its way through social media.

The notion is that perpetrators of violent crimes such as the Sandy Hook shooting should not given any attention themselves, such as posting the name of the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza. It is believed that part of the motivation for mass killers such as Lanza comes from the wanting of attention and that by posting the names publicly, the media is catering to such killers. 

The Vice-President of the national Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, also said in a press conference how restraining the media from posting names would help prevent copy cat killers from being inspired by shooters such as Lanza.

Although the idea has been gaining some circulation, there are still those that oppose it because it violates the First Amendment. Other reasons are made by journalists such as Christopher Hanson at American Journalism Review, who said that it creating this form of censorship would making creating a coherent story incredibly difficult.

Without some form of media, we would never hear about these types of tragedies, but how much of the story does the public need to hear? Is it a threat to our own safety and the safety of others to post the names of killers because it might inspire someone else to commit a crime? Would censoring news media be a step in harming the free press in the long run?