Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Your Important Choice

There will be hundreds or even thousands of different sources people will get their news from today as the day goes on .  Certain sources may have more important information than others, but most users will choose what they find appealing and not what's "important" for them to see.  Many users would rather find out why their friend said no to going out with them last night instead of why 37 children died in Libya last week.  Both of those situations are important in different ways, but one of them has a bigger impact on more people than the other.  Then there is this kind of news on the front page of TMZ, "Paris Hilton Getting Orgasmic in Vegas" was what TMZ considered the most important news for you to see today.  News have gone so far from the original intention of it that it has produced websites like TMZ.  This information is extremely unimportant, so I'm going to leave it out of the conversation.

You can define important news two different ways.  Important information could be information that will affect the reader's life, if you go by this definition kids dying in another county could easily be considered unimportant.  If it wont affect your life why would you need to be informed of it?  You could also define important news as information that affects all humans on a moral level.  For this interpretation of important news, kids dying would be high up on your list of things the public needs to know.  Tim Berry of the Huffington Post wrote an article about how choices have changed how readers consume news.  Editors used to decide what was to be put on the front page of the newspaper, they would chose what was important for the reader to see.  While there were times where certain stories ended up on the front page that weren't necessarily important, it was impossible to read the front page and not get import information.  While today, you can ignore what is "important" completely.

The problem with all the choices we have for news is that we now have the choice to click on the important information that is relevant to us, rather than the important information that is effecting us as humans.  While you should get to know what's going on that is relevant to you, we can't ignore what is affecting us on a moral level if we want to solve those issues.  You can take the big issue humans have been trying to solve for a long time for example, violence.  Most would agree that eliminating the killing that is happening in our world today would be a great thing.  But ignoring the bad is not the first step to make the world good.  We have to address the bad in order to realize how to make the human race a little bit better.

I think I can say that almost everyone starts to ignore all the bad headlines you see while on a website or reading the paper after you see them day after day.  Take this story about a man in Japan stabbing five of his neighbors for example.  You don't know those neighbors, you don't know that man.  Those people are basically objects to you, just names and ages that have no meaning behind them.  I'm not saying that those people getting stabbed is an enormous problem us as humans have, it would be ridiculous to try and prevent all violence and crime in the world.  But these individual stories add up to create the problem.

The first step to solving these huge problems is to be informed on them, and all the choices of sources we have is letting people be able to be not informed on things that they should be informed on, and many may not realize that they are doing this.  Choices are good to an extent, but sites like TMZ have become so far away from what news originally was meant to be, that the choice of going to CNN or TMZ becomes the choice of getting news, or getting none at all.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

No Time for the News

With the world we live in today, news is accessible at almost anytime and place.  This movement of accessibility is changing how news is distributed to the public.  While people used to hear about the news days after it happened, you can now see the story being updated as it's happening.  Twitter pages like PzFeed are dedicated to posting tweets about stories that are happening at the moment, or updating stories that have happened throughout the day. These tweets aren't stories though, they are pieces of the story in just 140 characters.  Sometimes they will link an article in the tweet, but it's easy to pass up the article and just read the tweet.  This is the new direction we are headed in, no one wants to read a seven page story let alone a two page story. So we are now living in a world that doesn't get the full story, but instead gets parts of the story and leaves the other pieces to be made up in our minds.

There are people who will still read the whole newspaper, but the majority are wanting to get their news as fast as possible.  Our society is developing a need to do activities quickly so we can move on to the next activity.  We are so worried about doing everything that we want to do, that we aren't enjoying what we do.  Journalism could be facing a big problem in the future.  With society's need for speed, newspapers have to adapt to survive.  The challenge for them now is to make sure they can report all the news the public needs to know in a small period of time.

With this being said, our project focuses on the future of Journalism when self driving cars will be publicly available for use.  We wanted to keep in mind that people want the news fast, but we also wanted to make sure that full stories were still available to be read.  We also could have gone more in depth on how Journalism is changing and why we chose to keep stories available along with the tweets and short posts everyone is used to.  While it's alright to have change, we need to make sure the news is still being reported in a way so the public gets all the information we need.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The New Landscape of Journalism

Journalism is changing for either the better or the worse, depending on how you look at it.  Many people feel that the internet has changed journalism for the worse, anyone can see news on social media or their internet homepage. Since it's so easy to access news on the internet, people would rather do that than watch a 30 minute news show on TV or buy a newspaper.

But there's always two sides to a story, others believe that having the internet has made journalism more accessible and overall much better.  Depending on what you classify as journalism, the internet has not only made it more accessible to the public, but also has allowed the audience to become journalists.  Websites like this reddit news page allows people to share news stories from other sources such as CNN and Fox News and put them onto one easily accessible page for viewers.  But should this be considered journalism?

Journalism isn't going away, but it is dramatically changing.  This article from the New York Times describes how the way people are consuming journalism is changing because of Facebook and other social media sites.  It tells how Facebook adjusts your news feed to what you will be interested in based on your previous liked pages.  To me, this is more along the lines of gossip rather than journalism.  The first priority of journalism is to inform you of important news and events.  After you get important news, then you can look for stories that interest you.  The problem with people getting news from Facebook is that you are not necessarily getting all the important news, you are getting much more news about celebrities and gossip related articles.

This doesn't mean Facebook can't be journalism however.  If you are actively searching for important news from reliable sources on Facebook, it can become a form of journalism.  The same goes for reddit, as long as you are under a subreddit that is something along the lines of news, it can be considered journalism.  It is important to know if the article you are looking at is from a reliable source while on social media.  This Huffington Post article details how social media has changed the landscape of journalism.  It goes in depth on how social media has changed journalism in specific ways.

The days of news being read from a newspaper or being watched on your television is starting to fade away.  People have turned to social media to get their news.  You may think it's becoming better and more accessible, you may think it's becoming worse, but journalism isn't dead, it's just changing.

Monday, January 26, 2015


When I think about truth, I think of something that is real.  Something that I believe to be fact.  When I think of an opinion I imagine it as something not true, but an opinion is true to whoever thinks it.  If you think pizza is the best food, that is the truth to you, even though it's an opinion of yours.  It may not be true to someone else, who thinks ice cream is the best food, but it's your truth.

I think it's impossible for journalists to write a story that is 100% true.  If a journalist was going to write a story about an attack somewhere in the Middle East, he would have to interview people that were there to witness it.  The problem is that there are hundreds of people who witnessed it, and every single one of them has their own unique story about what happened.  It would be hard enough to interview every person, but even if you did interview all of them, you wouldn't know if they were telling what actually happened.  They might be trying to spice up their story, or maybe dull it down.  Even if people told you exactly what they saw happen, there is still a chance that they think they knew what happened, but they don't.To tell a story that is completely true, you would also have to capture the powerful feelings that people that were there felt.

To me, a true story is a story that you were there for.  Your story of what happened may be completely different than another persons, but both stories are true.  Everyone has their own true story on what happened.  Maybe you weren't there, maybe you just heard "facts" from someone else.  How you interpret those facts makes your true story.  You make your own true story.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hope and Fear

Hope and fear, they are two emotions that influence how we act.  If you have hope, you will continue to try and be positive.  Something bad could happen, and it probably will, but there is still that chance that everything will be ok.  That is hope, and then there is fear.  Fear is what keeps us from doing certain things.  You don't want anything bad to happen to you, so you don't take the risk.

These two strong emotions very closely related however.  Without fear, there is no hope.  What is hope?  Hope is you not wanting the thing you fear to happen.  You hope that your fear doesn't come true.  They are almost the same emotion.  Without fear there is no hope, without hope there is no fear.

For example, imagine you got a phone call, your parents were in a car crash and are in the hospital.  At that moment, you fear that they are going to die.  You fear something very bad is going to happen, but at the same time, you hope those fears don't come true.  You hope nothing bad will happen, you hope those fears don't happen.

These emotions are very strong feelings.  Without fear or hope, things would be very different.  Think about a world without fear.  Nothing would stop anyone from doing anything.  There would be many more deaths per day because people wouldn't have the fear of dying.  Do you know why you fear death?  Because you hope that you will wake up everyday and live.

Some people have depression, where they feel sad, lonely, and worthless.  If they have it bad, they won't hope to live anymore.  That is why suicide happens with depressed people.  They don't fear death anymore, the fear is gone.  It's gone because the hope to live isn't there anymore.  They don't want to live anymore, so there is no hope of living everyday.  Since there is no hope, there is no fear.

They are almost the same emotion, there is just a good side, and a bad side.  Hope is the good side, you are looking on the bright side and you want everything to be ok.  Fear is the bad side, you think negative and don't want that stuff to happen to you.  If you do want those fears to happen to you, something is wrong.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Ben Wagner
Quest English 9
October 29 2013
Music In The Classroom:
An observation of the Hanover Elementary School Music Class
I. Preface
I love music, it has always been a huge part of my life.  Of course, when your mom is a music teacher, you have to love it.  My mom, Kristi Wagner, teaches music at Hanover Elementary School, grades first through fifth.  She comes home in a different mood every day.  Sometimes she is very happy, other times she is just worn out and tired.  It’s never the same as the last day.  This interests me and I ask her almost every day how school went for her.  The main reason I do this is because I want to know, but I also think it’s funny that I’m asking my mom when normally the parent asks the kid.  She would respond, but all she would say was that it was good.  I didn’t like this answer because I could tell it wasn’t “good” all the time.
I started to get really anxious to see what was going on in the classroom.  I wanted to see how the kids act, and more specifically, how they act towards the music activities they are doing in class.  Then I had the opportunity to observe the class for this ethnography.  How do the elementary school kids react to the music material they are being taught?  This is the question I wanted to answer before observing the class.  It’s not about what they’re being taught, it’s about how they react to it.  

II. Background
Before I went to observe this class, I knew what I was going to look for.  When the kids got into the room and started doing what they do everyday, I wouldn’t just look at what they are doing, but look at how much they are getting involved in the activity.  I got to observe third and first grade at Hanover.   
I also wanted to see how Mrs. Wagner taught the class.  If she looked like she cared or not.  How she got the kids to stop talking or messing around and how effective that method was.  I chose to look at the teacher this way because the teacher makes the class.  A bad teacher makes the class you're taking not fun and not interesting.  Any class can be interesting if you have a good teacher.  So I wanted to see if those two things related to the music class.  
The first school in Hanover was created in 1892, this building no longer exists.  In 1958 a new school, that went under the name of Hanover Elementary School, was built.  Hanover is a small town.  So as you can guess, the school is also relatively small.  There are roughly 430 students enrolled in the school, about 20 per class.
III. Observations
When I got to the school, the first thing I noticed was that it looked very small.  I could easily touch the ceiling and I was only a foot off from touching both sides of the hallway when I was standing in the middle of it.  I got to the music room while a class of third graders were in class.  They were singing a song and doing actions along with it.  They seemed to be very happy while singing it.  Almost every one of the twenty kids in the classroom was smiling.  They look as if they were truly enjoying singing the song.  The teacher was also singing and playing the piano.  
My mom looked at me and pointed to her desk, so I went and sat in it.   Even though I walked into the room, the kids were still singing just like no one entered.  I was surprised by this.  I would expect a third grade class to just stare at me and barely sing when I entered.  I figured that the teacher had told them I was coming and that they should act very good.
The room was big.  It didn’t look it belonged in this small school.  The kids stood on colorful bleachers.  Behind them was a white wall with all kinds of music symbols drawn on it.  The walls were filled with posters and musical things.  There were also many instruments in one corner of the room.  It looked very friendly.
After this song, the teacher pulled out a parachute and said that as a reward for being good, they could do the parachute activity.  They kids seemed to be very happy with this.  One student was jumping with joy when she heard this.  I noticed her clothes were all bright and sparkly.  I could tell she was a very energetic person.
Each student grabbed part of the parachute and waited for the teacher.  She turned on a song.  All the kids did actions with the parachute along with the rhythm of the music.  One action they did was make a “mushroom” with the parachute.  They lifted it up and then got under it.  From the outside of it, it looked like a parachute.  As the kids were in the parachute, I heard a scream.  At first I didn’t know if someone got hurt or if someone was just scared.  The kids came out from under the parachute, and I still heard screaming.  Then I saw the energetic girl again, and sure enough, she was the one screaming with a big smile on her face.  
Mrs. Wagner was also doing the activity with them.  It seemed that she loved to do fun activities and did them whenever possible.  She understands that kids can get bored by worksheets and boring things like them.  She knows what they like and she relates it to music.  
After this activity it was time for the third graders to leave and time for the first graders to come.  As the third graders left with smiles on their faces, I saw that the first graders also had smiles on their faces when coming into the class.  They were excited for music class.
The first thing they did was clap rhythms.  The kids looked very bored by this.  I noticed  that Mrs. Wagner saw they were not participating as much as she would like.  She asked if they thought the activity was boring.  Most of them responded with a yes or a head nod.  Mrs. Wagner asked them what they wanted to do.  This seemed weird to me, I’ve never seen a teacher just change the activity if the kids didn’t seem to be liking it.
One boy said, “Lets do the snake song!”  All the students yelled, “Yes!” Mrs. Wagner said that it was ok and then all the students went and stood on the floor and waited.
This activity involved the kids singing a song while doing actions.  While doing this activity, I noticed a little boy.  He was jumping all around and bumping into people.  One of the actions in the song was to act like a bird.  The kids were all flapping their arms then the rough boy hit a girl right in the face.  I looked at Mrs. Wagner to see if she noticed, but she didn’t.  I looked back at the girl.  She seemed very angry at the boy but just walked to a different spot on the floor.  The boy just looked at the girl and shrugged.
After the “snake song”, the first graders sang different songs for the rest of the hour.  Everyone, except for the little girl who was hit, left with a smile on their face.  
IV. Conclusion
I noticed one thing the whole time I was at the music room in Hanover, happiness.  Almost every student was always smiling, the teacher was laughing while doing the activities with the kids.  Everyone was happy.  I believe that the teacher makes the class.  A good teacher makes any class enjoyable.  This is how the Hanover music class was.  The teacher made sure that what they were doing was fun for the kids. She cared about how much the kids liked music. She wanted them to like the class and like her.  
I wish my elementary music teacher was like this class.  In music class at my school, no one was involved.  Everyone thought it was stupid.  With Hanover however, it brought a smile to my face just watching the class.  I wasn’t doing any activities with them, I was just writing down notes.  But I was still smiling.  
After being in this class for a couple hours, I realized why my mom always came home saying the day was “good.”  Everyday was amazing but she got tired doing all these activities with the students.
The music room in Hanover is a great place to be.  It has a great atmosphere.  The kids love it, and so do I.  That is what all classes should be like.  Fun for everyone, including the teacher.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Things Fall Apart

What Okonkwo thinks is masculinity is basically the common bully.  He believes that in order to be masculine, you have to be aggressive and have anger.  That is why he beats his wife's all the time.  It shows that he is aggressive and that he gets very angry.  This is exactly what a stereotypical school bully does.  He picks on someone smaller than him and gets really angry at what the smaller kid says.  They show aggression to the kid and make them scared.  The bully believes that this makes him better and seem more masculine.  Okonkwo does this multiple times.  One time, one of his wife's didn't prepare a meal for the kids.  Okonkwo got very angry and beat her for it.  He is the bully and the wife is the smaller kid.  

I believe the reason he acts this way is because he doesn't want to be like his dad.  His was in debt to many people and couldn't pay them back.  Okonkwo thinks this makes his dad weak.  He thought his dad was weak in general.  He doesn't want to be his dad, he despises his dad.  The way of living he did was very wrong to Okonkwo.  So in order to not become like his dad, he wanted to be very masculine.  

“Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger.  To show affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength.”  

This brings me back to the point of only showing aggression and anger.  Okonkwo says that these two things make you strong and masculine.  He says there is no need for any other emotion.  The other emotions make you weak.  I disagree with Okonkwo.  If you are sleeping in your house, and you hear a loud noise that wakes you up, you will be scared.  You will have fear.  Some people would just hide under the covers, but others would get up and go see what made that noise.  Even though you have fear in you, you got up to see what it was.  You would look around and see nothing and then you would go back to sleep.  

Right now you’re thinking, how does this make you strong?  If you had no fear in the first place, you would be stronger than if you had fear.  Think of it this way, you have this fear inside of you, but you power through that feeling and get up.  That takes a lot of courage to do.  When you have no fear, however, you just get up and think nothing of it.  It takes more strength to get out of the bed with fear, then to not have fear and go see what the sound was.  Okonkwo thinks that masculinity is just being feared.  It isn't that.  It is about powering though feelings that make you not want to do certain things.