Categories
Journalism

A reporter is being forced to testify against his source

CIA Original Headquarters Building (CIA)
CIA Original Headquarters Building (CIA)

U.S. Circuit Court says reporter must testify against CIA leaker

A New York Times reporter who wrote a book on national security using an anonymous CIA agent who leaked him classified documents is being forced to testify in court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, in Virginia, said on Friday that reporter James Risen, who wrote the 2006 book “State of War,” must testify in court against his source, former CIA officer Jefrrey Sterling, since Sterling is being prosecuted in a criminal case.

Sterling has been charged under the Espionage Act.

In United States law, national security is placed at the pinnacle of law proceedings, making the stakes “higher” than in ordinary, civil cases.

As a result, a journalist’s normal “shields” are more heavily debated and can be broken in national security proceedings.

As the U.S. Appeals Court said, in its majority statement:

“There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify by the prosecution or the defense in criminal proceedings about criminal conduct … even though the reporter promised confidentiality to his source.”

While that may be true —and can also be debated— if taken at face value then what is the point of having a First Amendment freedom of speech and of the press?

It’s like saying, “You have freedom of the press for normal cases but for important cases, when you need freedom of the press the most since there is a larger impact on the public, you’re out of luck.”

As noted in the dissenting opinion written by Judge Roger Gregory, if Deepthroat was concerned that what he would tell Woodward and Bernstein would definitely incriminate him in court later on, he may not have leaked classified information.

Information that was of vital importance to the American public.

As Gregory said, “The freedom of the press is one of our Constitution’s most important and salutary contributions to human history.”

Gregory notes that a free press helps America keep public officials and elected representatives accountable.

Whistleblowers, if they want, should be free to talk to reporters if they see something off going on in government. And reporters should not be forced to give up what that anonymous source told them in confidence.

The court said that Risen, a full-time New York Times reporter, must testify with what the former CIA agent told him in confidence.

The court is not ashamed while they want Risen to talk: They do not have a fully persuasive case without his testimony.

In other words, they need him for his information.

The court says, “The government seeks to compel evidence that Risen alone possesses — evidence that goes to the heart of the prosecution.”

The court lays out a lot saying that since this is a criminal case of national security, it is beyond a journalist’s privilege. It even has granted Risen immunity for himself, to try to entice him.

Yawn. America was founded on perhaps the highest amount of personal freedom imaginable at its time, and still serves as a compass for personal freedom.

Journalists, who serve as a public watchdog to tell citizens what is happening, deserve the freedom to dig into “classified” documents, when the situation presents itself (aka a CIA agent who gives a New York Times reporter a document saying that the government is mismanaging itself, which is of the public interest).

As Judge Gregory wrote, dissenting against his fellow judges, “Common sense tells us the value of the reporter’s privilege to journalism is one of the highest order.”

Let’s hope it stays that way.

 


Further reading, from “U.S. vs. Jeffrey Sterling”:

http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/115028.P.pdf

“It is ‘obvious and unarguable’ that no governmental
interest is more compelling than the security of the Nation.”
Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280, 307 (1981).

GREGORY, Circuit Judge, dissenting as to Issue I:
“Today we consider the importance of a free press in
ensuring the informed public debate critical to citizens’
oversight of their democratically elected representatives.”

GREGORY: “A free and vigorous press is an indispensable part of a system of democratic government. Our country’s Founders established the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press as a recognition that a government unaccountable to public discourse renders that essential element of democracy – the vote – meaningless.”

Gregory: “The freedom of the press is one of our Constitution’s most
important and salutary contributions to human history.”

Gregory: “Such reporting is critical to the way our citizens obtain information about what is being done in their name by the government.”

Scott Armstrong, executive director of the Information Trust and former Washington Post reporter, “[m]any sources require such
guarantees of confidentiality before any extensive exchange of
information is permitted.” J.A. 350.

Categories
Journalism

Letter to a college journalist

Gov. Johnson answers mine (foreground right) and Chris' (background right) questions.
Gov. Gary Johnson (left), running for president on the Libertarian Party ticket, answers my question before his speech on campus in October.

And 7 tips to become a better reporter
_____________________

I have been a serious journalist for nearly a year now, beginning as a staff writer last spring then moving up to a copy editor this fall for my school newspaper at Cal State Fullerton.

Editing has given me an acute sense of how journalism works and I have begun to notice the same mistakes and poorly-reported stories beginning journalists write. But don’t get me wrong, I still suck and have a long way to go before becoming a great writer myself.

College journalists need to realize they are actually journalists. They must be on the prowl for news and take the initiative to call people and write a story. But they need to be properly trained, and unfortunately the beginning journalism classes at my school fail to train us.

This means it is up to the student to take the initiative in his or her journalism career.

Here are a few tips beginning reporters need:

1) Don’t be a public relations spokesman.

Repeat: Don’t do PR. This fault of journalism permeates the news world. I saw a press release by a local police department copied and pasted onto a local news station’s website just yesterday. Companies prey on news sites to give them this free unchecked publicity.

2) Ask the tough questions.

You are more likely to get the true answers. I’m normally a pretty shy and timid person, but in the past year I have argued with an ROTC army lieutenant colonel and California’s deputy attorney general (the second-highest lawyer in California government). I even spoke to a suicide victim’s mother for 11 minutes a day after her son’s suicide. It was a hard conversation. But remember, a journalist pledges to uphold the truth. Our thoughts and feelings come secondary.

3) Dig. Investigate.

I feel awkward saying this because I have not really done any investigative reporting, but I plan to this semester. Investigative reporting, I have recently learned, is the crown jewel of journalism. And it is what spokesmen and PR types loathe.

4) Relate the news to your readers.

This is important for college journalists since we have a specific niche. The lead and beginning must be relevant to a college student.

5) Take the hard stories.

I was hesitant to do this as a staff writer because I doubted my reporting abilities. I was probably right. But that means that I should have taken the big story. Because as I learned this semester, it is not for our professors to teach us journalism. It is our responsibility.

During our last newspaper editor meeting, someone (who will remain anonymous) said something interesting. It was us, students, who spent hours learning how to edit, cover controversial stories, get a good photo, design a good page, and teach our fellow students, they said. “You guys are so good because you taught each other. Your teachers didn’t have a damn thing to do with it,” they said.

6) Strive to find the perfect sources.

Not just the first people you talk to. Yes, it’s hard, but we’re journalists and a journalist’s life ain’t easy.

My early stories have a lot of random students inserting their thoughts on a subject that should be dwelt with experts. That is because I simply gave up in my reporting and just found a student lounging around the Quad and asked them. A problem journalists deal with is deadlines and time constraints. Unfortunately, there is nothing to be done about deadlines. So you need to know how to find sources quicker.

Know who to talk to, how to get a hold of someone, and contact all the businesses, nonprofits and government agencies involved in a story.

7) Pretend like you’re a professional journalist.

Because the more you imagine it, the more you realize that you actually are a professional journalist, just without the name recognition or fancy credentials.

A college journalist with some reporting experience can cover an event just as well as the reporter for the local newspaper. I saw it with one of our reporters, who covered a hookah lounge controversy. Complaints racked up against the joint, which sits next to a residential neighborhood and gets rambunctious at night. Our reporter covered the city council deliberations and we had three stories chronicling the month-long affair.

I myself wrote a pretty good story on the city mayor hosting a State of the City speech at our university in March. Sitting next to me at the press table, nestled in the back, was the local paper’s Fullerton correspondent. I should have had a business card handy. In fact, for a moment like this, I should have actually had businesses cards in the first place.

_________________________

Now for the fun stuff:

And a friend of mine, as we were running on empty right before finals:

Categories
Cal State Fullerton

Fourth CSUF lockdown suspect arrested

Police search the crash site in front of Mihaylo Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 12, soon after the suspects fled onto campus (Tim Worden)
Police search the crash site in front of Mihaylo Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 12 about 20 minutes after the suspects fled onto campus (Tim Worden)

Police arrested a fourth robbery suspect who caused a Cal State Fullerton lockdown as he and four other suspects fled onto campus after a pawn shop robbery, spurring a six-hour search in several buildings earlier this month.

Roosevelt Andrew Fernandez, 26, of Compton was arrested Wednesday, Dec. 26. and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in downtown Riverside for attempted murder, robbery, parole violation and using a firearm during the Dec. 12 robbery of a pawn shop, according to a press release by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

When the five suspects fled after a car crash in front of CSUF, two fled north onto campus and three fled south. One each of the suspects who fled north and south were quickly arrested, and a second who went south was arrested after a carjacking and a subsequent chase to Los Angeles.

Two suspects were remaining by that night, one who fled south into Fullerton and another who was last seen in Steven G. Mihaylo Hall, leading SWAT to clear the five-story building room-by-room, a procedure that took nearly five hours.

The first wave of nine SWAT officers entered the Mihaylo Hall at  5:23 p.m. that night, eight more came in at 5:30 p.m., and about 20 SWAT officers left the building at 10 p.m. Police confirmed the building had been cleared at 10:17 p.m. as students were allowed to go to a staging area to get their IDs checked.

The statement does not specify if Fernandez was the suspect believed to be have gone south or onto campus.

The investigation is ongoing, headed by Investigator Ed Rose of the Moreno Valley Police Department. Moreno Valley, which partners with Riverside County Sheriff’s, leads the investigation since the robbery occurred in the city.

The sheriff’s statement is here: Attempted Murder/Robbery.

I previously covered the lockdown for the Daily Titan here: Lockdown: Suspects still at large.

I blogged about how I used Twitter to live-tweet the lockdown here: Tweeting the CSUF Lockdown (Part I: Chaos).

Categories
Culture Journalism Politics

Social War: A ‘Like’ and a Prayer

Social media mingles with war in the 21st century, and social media and war are just beginning to realize just how bizarre that is. This is an account of the 8-day conflict between Israel and Palestine in November 2012 that saw more than 150 casualties. It is the first Social War, a war centered on followers and flashy pics.

Story and illustration by Tim Worden.

___________________________________________

A ‘Like’ and a Prayer

“We will destroy our enemies.” Like. “Our missile has assassinated their general.” Retweet. “Mission accomplished.” Share.

“Sirens in Jerusalem #IsraelUnderAttack” demands attention. “Scared. Bomb blasts shaking my windows #GazaUnderFire” gets 300 retweets.

Eyewitness Instagram pics spread like wildfire, death counts are updated to the minute and two opposing military forces chatted with each other via Twitter.

On Nov. 14, 2012, for the first time in world history, a war was declared via Twitter. The eight-day conflict between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas involved drone and missile strikes. Dubbed Operation Pillar of Cloud by Israel, the IDF began by targeting Hamas’ military commander.

Churchill had his “Get ‘em in the trenches!” speech, FDR had his fireside chats and now the Israeli and Hamas armies have their retweets. This is war, broadcast in real-time through tweets and grainy drone cams.

This is Social War.

And in Social War, armies don’t just fight with assault rifles and rockets; they launch viral hashtags and drop in flashy infographics. The IDF armors up with a YouTube, Facebook and blog. But Twitter, which lets a nation, from Haifa to Tel Aviv, collectively watch a war unfold, is the secret weapon.

“We were able to stay ahead of the game, allowing us to counter the onslaught of misinformation and rumors that are generally part of the arsenal of terrorist organizations we face,” said Eytan Buchman, head of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit North American Desk, the IDF’s communications arm dealing with North American press.

Twitter helps the IDF rapidly share accurate and reliable information through an ad-hoc movement, says Buchman, who has 3,500 followers.

“Twitter can create a dialogue, giving us a feel for what information is getting out there and how we can take steps to correct it,” Buchman says.

Social War comes from the top, too. On a Facebook post a few days into the war, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country is engaged on four fronts. The first three—the military, home and diplomatic fronts—are all obvious. But the fourth front, now that’s interesting: “the information front,” where citizens combat misinformation.

“What you are doing provides us with serious reinforcement on the information front, we have to battle for the truth,” Netanyahu stated in the 19,000-like post.

The IDF publicly began the war with a tweet. A press conference came later.

“The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip, chief among them #Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets,” the IDF Spokeperson’s Unit (@IDFspokesperson) declared at 6:29 a.m. on Nov. 14, getting 418 retweets.

Hours later, the IDF tweeted: “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.”

Twitter sees some bizarre stuff, but nothing like what came next.

Alqassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing in Gaza, replied to the tweet, the first time warring enemies have conversed in a public fashion online.

“@idfspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves),” Hamas responded.

Professor Fania Oz-Salzberger, on the ground in northern Israel, was among the first to publicly note this as the first declared war on Twitter.

As a history professor at the University of Haifa who studies Israeli-German relations and political thought, she knows a thing or two about the development of war. She was amused at this, really.

“My first thought was: ‘Those young geeks in uniform at @IDFspokesperson are a step ahead of their slow, snail-paced commanders,’” she said.

Social media allows things to spread easily, from uninformed tweets to incorrect propaganda that is fact-checked in real time, she said.

“Governments and military spokespeople will have to become far more cautious and savvy when making any public statement,” Oz-Salzberger said.

Jon Mitchell, a writer for tech blog ReadWrite, sees social media fusing with war as inevitable thing, no more surprising than the use of any other propaganda channel historically. But that didn’t stop his initial reaction at watching the IDF tweet the war: “Wow. It’s a new world.”

By tightly controlling the message through tweets and live images, the Israeli army framed the military campaign just the way it wanted. As the first military social media use, it certainly set the bar high, he said.

“It’s brilliant in its way,” he blogged on ReadWrite.

Social War likes it fast and dirty.

A simple look at the IDF’s Twitter followers over time shows this. The account went from 52,000 to 61,000 followers from mid-August to Nov. 13, the day before the war began. This number more than tripled in only 10 days. They nabbed 20,000 new followers several days during the war and had 205,000 by Nov. 23, two days after the cease fire.

Hamas fared even better. The group’s account, @AlQassamBrigades, started the war with a measly 9,000 followers. By war’s end, it had 41,000—a full quadruple.

Social War grants the outside world access to the inner workings of a war-torn country.

In Israel’s last military operation in Gaza in 2008-2009, communications and Internet line were cut and journalists were barred from entering Gaza. This time, Palestinians maintained Internet access and journalists were allowed entry, resulting in an unprecedented amount of first hand accounts from citizens living in Gaza, according to Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which tracks human rights issues and civilian and journalist casualties in Gaza.

“The spreading of eyewitness accounts of ordinary citizens of the Gaza Strip has been especially valuable in countering the mainstream narrative of the conflict, which lacks a rights based approach and factual reporting,” said Sourani.

He sees this openness as a step in the right direction. The world watched as Anderson Cooper, reporting live in Gaza City, flinched and staggered as a rocket blast erupted behind him one night. “That was a rather large explosion,” he said.

Palestinian citizens and bloggers took the world stage, too. Some photographed the destruction of office buildings and others wrote poems seeking peace.

Shahd Abusalama, a Palestinian student and blogger in Gaza City, was exhausted after six days of continuous bombings on the city. She rested under her blankets, but at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, a missile zoomed into her neighborhood, she wrote on her blog.

“I remember exactly how I heard the missile falling, like a whistle,” she wrote.

The rocket hit meters away from her house and the neighborhood gathered together to investigate. A loudspeaker from the mosque advised the crowd to spread apart in case of another missile. The victim was torn to pieces, spread across the street. His blood stained the street, she wrote.

In addition to posting the news to Facebook and Twitter, she keeps an updated list of every Palestinian killed in the conflict on her blog.

Social media shares the good news, too.

In 2010, three former Israeli soldiers created a website to combat negative misconceptions of Israel and the army. Called Friend a Soldier, the program pairs users with an Israeli soldier. It promotes hasbara, the Hebrew word for public relations, since users see the soldier behind the uniform.

Hasbara has a bad rap, akin to propaganda in English. While some, like Oz-Salzberger and Mitchell, see Social War as incorporating propaganda, Lirut Nave, a Friend a Soldier member, said said hasbara informs the public and explains reasons behind actions taken.

“We reached a time where presence in social media is a must, and there is no better and more efficient way to inform the public of your actions and motives,” said Lirut, a retired IDF soldier who served in an operational command center in the Jordan Valley.

There is much incentive for militaries and governments to enlist social media. You tell the story, you frame it as you like and bam! the story bombards Twitter.

A popular Vietnam anti-war slogan was: “What if they gave a war and nobody came.” In Social War, they not only come; they “like” it.

___________________________________________

Categories
Cal State Fullerton News

Tweeting the CSUF lockdown (Part I: Chaos)

A SWAT team roamed the campus, a helicopter flooded a searchlight onto Mihaylo Hall and students barricaded entrances to classrooms at Cal State Fullerton Wednesday as the campus went into lockdown.

It was like Black Hawk Down.

I was at the sixth floor of College Park, the building in the background in the photo above. Our vantage point at the Daily Titan, the school’s newspaper, gave us the eyes and ears of campus. We used this to our advantage by tweeting. At one point, a dozen SWAT officers prowled Mihaylo Hall across from us, so we ducked from the windows because we had a very real fear that a firefight might start between SWAT and the suspect, who was believed to have a gun.

It all began as the police were searching for two suspects who made their way to Cal State Fullerton from a Moreno Valley jewelry store robbery at 3 p.m. They crashed in front of the Marriot Hotel next to CSUF at 3:47 p.m. Two of the suspects were caught, but the other two ran on foot onto the campus (another hijakced another vehicle and went to Watts in Los Angeles).

The student they crashed into was heading to CSUF to take a test. By 4 p.m. students were evacuating.

I was at the scene of the crime by 4:04 p.m., so about 17 minutes late. A few of our Daily Titan reporters and photographers had been there 10 minutes before me. At first we thought this was just some normal thing like a hit-and-run.

Then I saw a California Highway Patrol officer strutting down Nutwood Avenue, walking in the center of westbound’s three lanes, carrying an M16.

It’s a blur, but I am 95 percent sure I was 15 feet away from the police officers when they put one of the suspects into custody (not sure if the first or second suspect they caught). They pushed us back five feet or so to put up police tape over the sidewalk as they secured the area near Steven G. Mihaylo Hall.

I tweeted this at 4:09, a tweet that got picked up on Cal State Fullerton’s storify:

It became clear that this was something big, so the editor-in-chief for the Daily Titan told me to go back to the Daily Titan newsroom and write a brief on this and send some tweets from the Daily Titan. As soon as he told me this, I decked across Nutwood Avenue. It was brimming with traffic so I rushed through and dodged cars. My backpack must have been opened because on my way to College Park, I heard the sound of my illustration H pencil falling from my backpack. That’s a high-quality art pencil, but I did not even want to waste the five seconds it would take to pick it up.

By 4:20, the campus was in full lockdown.

I got into the newsroom and told everyone the gameplan: Tweet, write a brief and get photos up online. We knew something was going on, but most of us did not know what. We knew there was a suspect, but even at the time we did not know what or if he was armed. We tried to call our reporters that were out covering it.

Our web editor who has access to the newspaper’s Facebook and Twitter went out to report, then got locked up in Dan Black Hall, so I did not know what to do at first. We tried calling him, but his phone started buzzing at the computer next to me. He left his phone. I’m hazy about this part, but I think I thought what the password might be so I tried that and it worked. But we had already wasted valuable time. So I headed up our social media coverage.

This was the first Tweet I sent:

https://twitter.com/dtnewsdesk/status/279020419514765312

I tweeted that at 4:30, but I could have sent that at 4:09 if I had the Twitter access and if we had better organization. It was like a war and we were ambushed. The Daily Titan fared well that night, but scoring the spotlight 20 minutes earlier would have sealed the deal for us.

I had my mistakes, and I made them early.

I tweeted this at 4:36 p.m.:

https://twitter.com/dtnewsdesk/status/279022023102058496

We later realized that the suspects’ car was the Lexus and the student’s car was the Hyundai.

At at 4:48 p.m. I sent this one:

https://twitter.com/dtnewsdesk/status/279024917993889793

Doh! It was a rumor, but I did not give attribution or anything. Police denied any gunshots throughout the entire night. Besides, at the time it was actually a rumored gunshot by undetermined person, either by police or a suspect.

This ends Part I: Chaos. I will post a narrative of the entire night, including one point where police officers with M16s came to our newsroom and we stood up and told them we are staying in the building, even though a full evacuation had been called for the building.

Categories
Life

Better Days

“And you asked me what I want this year,
And I try to make this kind and clear,
Just the chance that maybe we’ll find better days.

“I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

“So take these words and sing out loud
’cause everyone is forgiven now
’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again.” -Goo Goo Dolls

I just discovered this song, one of my favorites, is a Christmas song. I wish that peace would reign and our fears and stress would evaporate, as well. Christmas is the season to be thankful for all that we have been given. I stumbled around just trying to finish all my homework and work this semester, and hardly had time to be thankful. I want to take every step deliberately so those around me would follow. I want to live every moment knowing:

Maybe we’ll find better days.

Categories
Cal State Fullerton

Snow Day!

20121206-132315.jpg

Students enjoy the snow slide in the Quad. Associated Students Inc. sponsored the annual Snow Day event at Cal State Fullerton Thursday.

Categories
Cal State Fullerton Journalism Writing

Writing tip: Captivate readers with an interesting lead

Wells Fargo Orange County President Ben Alvarado presents a new car to a Cal State Fullerton student who won a contest. Here’s how I covered the story. Photos by Tim Worden.

Traditionally, creative leads are shunned from hard news stories. Those are for features, we think.

Absolutely not. Creative leads can be used in news stories. A lead is the first sentence or two in a story, around 30 words. The inverted pyramid style of journalism has become outdated with the Internet and 24-hour Cable news. We are barraged with news, so a writer needs a way to set his story away from the pack.

This is a realization that just came to me Wednesday in my Magazine Writing college class. My professor has challenged us all semester and I have learned more about journalism and writing from that class than from all my other journalism classes I’ve taken combined (okay, with the exception of the newspaper writing class last semester).

The traditional news lead is: Who, what, when, where, why and how. Blah blah bla. Those are “basic hack,” as my professor calls them, creating a lead that is “boring bull shit.”

My professor’s advice for leads is make them:

1. Clever
2. Creative
3. Cute
4. Have conflict
5. Compelling
6. Subtle

Bam! Our goal as writers is to get our reader to read the article. It is our responsibility to lure in the reader with something he or she can relate to or enjoy.

I used this strategy in an article I wrote for The Daily Titan, my college newspaper that I am a copy editor on. The article was about a student who won a new car and $6,300 in gift cards from Wells Fargo. In addition, Wells Fargo gave the school $5,000 in scholarships. They were given in a photo-op ceremony at a concert at the school’s amphitheater.

1. The “basic hack” writer would say:

“Wells Fargo gave one lucky freshman a new car and $6,300 in road trip spending money, as well as $5,000 in scholarships to Cal State Fullerton, for winning a national sweepstakes Wednesday at the weekly Becker Concert.”

Obviously, a reporter would have a better lead than that, but fundamentally the lead would not veer too far from that. (The nut graph, which explains the context of what happened, would add that the student won by being selected by opening up a checking account with the bank, and saying what kind of car it was.)

2. Wanting to skip the “basic hack” lead, I went with this:

“Wednesday’s Becker Amphitheater noon concert, to the tune of Los Angeles-based rock band State to State, had 80 people listening in, but one fashionably late concert-goer was a bit unusual. Rolling in at twenty past noon: A black 2012 Ford Fiesta.”

It’s a scene-setter. It starts boring. But it builds momentum: Tune>;Los Angeles-based>;rock band>;fashionably late>;concert-goer>;unsual>;rolling.

Then, protracted with a colon, the punchline: A black 2012 Ford Fiesta. It’s unexpected.

I’m not saying my lead was perfect or amazing, but I do think it is a good lead, and I can say that without any reservations since I accomplished my goal of making a “hard news article” into a “hard news story.” The difference is that this is a story about a girl who won a car plus $6,300 in gift cards as spending money, from Wells Fargo. After the lead, my story has a nut graph that explains what the car is there for and how the student won.

I also use a “River City transition,” a transition that is like a magic trick: It diverts the reader’s attention so they do not realize they are being tricked by the scene changing. It’s in red:

“Wednesday’s Becker Amphitheater noon concert, to the tune of Los Angeles-based rock band State to State, had 80 people listening in, but one fashionably late concert-goer was a bit unusual. Rolling in at twenty past noon: A black 2012 Ford Fiesta.

“The car was the grand prize for a national Wells Fargo student contest won by Cal State Fullerton student Tasia Moore. Moore, 18, an art major, also received $6,300 in gift cards as her prize.”

The transition makes the lead and the nut graph flow seamlessly. The reader did not even know that he was being transported from a rock concert at the Becker Amphitheater to something that resembles a press release that says a student won a car and gift cards from a bank contest.

The River City transition is something feature writer Jon Franklin perfected, which he writes about in Writing For Story, something every journalist should read.

Conclusion: Strive for creativity!

____________________________________

Here’s the full article, by Tim Worden and Chris Konte, in Thursday’s Daily Titan:

Presenting the prizes awarded from Wells Fargo’s swepstakes.

Wednesday’s Becker Amphitheater noon concert, to the tune of Los Angeles-based rock band State to State, had 80 people listening in, but one fashionably late concert-goer was a bit unusual. Rolling in at twenty past noon: A black 2012 Ford Fiesta.

The car was the grand prize for a national Wells Fargo student contest won by Cal State Fullerton student Tasia Moore. Moore, 18, an art major, also received $6,300 in gift cards as her prize.

Wells Fargo Orange County President Ben Alvarado, who runs the bank’s Orange County region, presented Moore the $6,300 oversized check at the Becker Amphitheater stage. He then pointed out her car, which came in behind the audience next to the Clayes Performing Arts Building.

“Today happens to be my birthday, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than to give a car away,” said Alvarado. “Tasia decided to start a financial journey with us, and we’re pretty sure she’s glad she did that, because she’s the winner of our sweepstakes.”

Students had the opportunity to join the contest, which ran from April 16 to Sept. 30, by opening a student checking account at Wells Fargo or by entering online without creating a checking account on Wells Fargo’s website.

“I opened a college (checking) account, and then they automatically entered me in, and then I got a call saying I won, and I didn’t quite know I was a part of the contest. It was a big surprise,” said Moore.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta has a starting price of $14,100, according to Ford’s website.

Moore, a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority at CSUF, said she will go on a road trip with her roommate or friends, but does not know where she will go.

“Maybe San Francisco. Not somewhere too far, I like to stay relatively close,” Moore said.

But her first use of the car was going to work Wednesday night at Victoria’s Secret in Orange.

While Moore won the contest, she will not be the only CSUF student who benefits.

As part of the prize, Wells Fargo gave CSUF’s Associated Students Inc. a $5,000 gift to be used for student scholarships, Alvarado said.

ASI Vice President Katie Ayala said the $5,000 will be split into five $1,000 ASI student scholarships available for the spring 2013 semester.

“Now what we need to do is decide the name of the scholarship and some of the writing questions… We don’t know any specifics yet,” said Ayala.

These five scholarships will join about 23 scholarships ASI offers students each semester. The scholarships have requirements, such as that the applicant have a 2.5 GPA and be enrolled as a full-time student, Ayala said.

“We’re really excited that we were able to get this from Wells Fargo, they’re a great partner corporation and we’re grateful that we have more money to give to students,” said ASI President Dwayne Mason, Jr.

Nationally, Wells Fargo has a large philanthropic presence. In 2011, according to Wells Fargo’s website, the company invested $213.5 million in 19,000 nonprofits nationwide, its fourth year surpassing $200 million.

Nearly $68 million of this was given to 8,000 educational programs and schools around the U.S., as well as $18.3 million in matched education donations.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a newspaper that covers the nonprofit world, Wells Fargo ranked fourth among companies in philanthropically giving the most cash in 2011.

“We’re constantly doing scholarships and we’re one of the largest non-profit givers in the country, so we’re always doing things locally… We’re constantly contributing to the community through different programs,” Alvarado said.

Alvardo, who started at Wells Fargo as a teller and has been with the company for nearly 22 years, said the company invests in college students so they can be more financially literate.

“This is a time in your life when you are learning about credit… You’re learning how to prepare your finances so that you can go off and do the things you want to do from a financial perspective and put your education to work,” Alvarado said.

Categories
comic books Culture Politics

Captain America for President

Illustration by Peter Pham for the Daily Titan

Published in Tuesday’s Daily Titan.

It’s October and the presidential election is in full swing.

We watch as President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney debate, cheering our respective candidate while blotting out the other. And soon, perhaps during last night’s presidential debate, undecided voters must make their final decision with the election only 16 days away.

Not me. I’ve already made my choice. I was undecided until early October, but while watching the first presidential debate, it came to me in a spark of inspiration.

I’m voting for Captain America. Yes, the Marvel Comics superhero who wields an American flag shield.

Don’t get me wrong: I think both candidates are OK. I’ll even concede that Obama has a trustworthy face. I just have a complete lack of faith in the political system, that’s all.

Both candidates are, simply put, good alternative choices. They are more of the same bland crop of American politicians who are unwilling to think outside the box and are eager to spend America’s money. The debates have shown that Obama and Romney lack backbone, sticking in the shallow end with a “war of words.”

That’s boring.

If Captain America has a problem with you, he will tell you outright why you are lying. Some shield throwing and punching may be involved.

For example, in the mid-2000s Civil War storyline, the American government forces all superheroes to register to the government with the “Superhero Registration Act.” Seeing this as a tremendous overstepping of government authority, Captain America vehemently rejects this unjust law.

Since he is breaking a federal law, a group of U.S. special forces agents surround him with guns drawn. His response?

“Weapons down or I will not be responsible for what comes next,” he says.

Romney couldn’t even summon that amount of backbone in his dreams.

Captain America stays away from politics, but he knows when his country has its priorities in reverse. In s #128 (1970), he comes across a Vietnam-era university protest with students rioting against police officers and an “aloof” college dean.

“Here’s where I oughtta step in and make like a swingin’ hero! But how do I know whose side to take? What the heck—the cops don’t need any help—but these kids do!!” he says.

In 1974, months after the conclusion of Watergate, Captain America discovers that a high-ranking government official (assumed to be President Richard Nixon) is working for an evil terrorist group.

He promptly rejects the U.S. and calls himself the Nomad.

Captain America’s fans have always been attracted to his courage. Beyond his suit he is, after all, Steve Rogers, a scrawny young man who was not able to get drafted into the army during World War II. But his determination makes him the perfect candidate for the “Super-Serum.” He’s the target of bullies, the underdog, and he brings this into his role as Captain America, where he now has the strength to fight for the underdogs.

His selflessness and defensive nature are perfect presidential qualities. “Captain America is not here to lead this country. I’m here to serve it. If I’m a captain, then I’m a soldier,” he says in a 2003 issue, adding:

“I am not a ‘superhero’… I am a man of the people. Together, you and I will identify and confront America’s problems. Together, we will figure out what we are and what we can be. Together, we will define the American Dream and make it an American reality,” he said.

He’s an idealist who is not bogged down by a political party. He doesn’t campaign in swing states, he goes out and fights evil.

But these issues are all chump change compared to the real reason why Captain America deserves the leader of the free world honors.

On the cover of his first-ever comic book appearance, in March 1941, only months before  the attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain America is shown doing something extraordinary. He is decking Adolf Hitler in the jaw.

That’s bad-ass.

Categories
Cal State Fullerton News

Hispanic Heritage Week at CSUF

Students embrace the crowd after dancing to mariachi music in the front of the Humanities Building at Cal State Fullerton Thursday around 1 p.m. As part of Latino Heritage Week at CSUF (celebrating Latino Heritage Month), today was “El Mariachi Showcase.” The event continues tomorrow with a Chicano and Latino pep rally, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., also in front of the Humanities Building.