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Gender Lens Conference

By Nicole Dan

Despite the large number of women currently getting their degrees in journalism, the field is still largely male. I was grateful for the opportunity to attend the Pulitzer Center’s Gender Lens Conference last week.

Getting to rub elbows with people at the top of their field was an amazing experience. At the Women in Conflict Zones panel I got a sense of what it would be like as a woman reporting in a current or past warzone and the challenges of covering these issues.

Beyond the narrow scope of the classroom, I learned what it was actually like in the field – and how being a woman can be an advantage when it comes to earning the trust of other women. Journalism professors like a to enforce a strict standard of impartiality – which I find impossible to meet. People have opinions, and to dismiss that is almost more suspicious than acknowledging it. At the Diversity Panel, I learned that I wasn’t alone feeling this way and there were others in the field that feel that impartiality can be artificial. One quote by Daniella Zalcman stuck with me – “[Journalism] still looks at the world from a colonial gaze.”

On the second day I came back for a workshop on cyber security – which taught me how to securely communicate with sources through encrypted email and other methods. The most important stories of our day have come as a result of leaks, so it was important to me to learn about this technology.

The Gender Lens Conference was one of those unique DC experiences – having so many powerful people in a room at once.

Good Food, Better Friends

By David Jensen


Coming to D.C. was a big change of scenery for me, and I mean that literally. Growing up in a small town of less than five thousand people where the tallest building is probably the tip of a church steeple, doesn’t exactly prepare you to live on your own in a metropolitan area of over 600 thousand.

However, the size of the city was not what I was most nervous about while pondering what my semester in D.C. would be like. I had maneuvered my way around cities like Chicago and London before, and was fairly comfortable with my ability to do so here. What I was more concerned about was whether or not I would have cool roommates that I could spend time with.

While I knew that I would be extremely busy with my internship, classes, projects, and tours, I also knew there would be plenty of free time to explore the city and didn’t want to do so alone. I also knew that my best shot to make friends would initially be with my roommates. I really wanted to like the guys I would be living with because as anyone who’s ever had roommates knows, they can either make or break an experience.

Fortunately, they turned out to be better than I could’ve ever hoped for. Scott and Zack are both great, and we have plenty of good times together. Whether it’s going out for drinks and dinner on the weekends, exploring new places, or just chilling in our apartment after work farting around or binge watching Game of Thrones, we have a great time. All I was hoping for were people that I could get along with. But what I got, are two guys who I can genuinely say are good friends of mine, which is pretty special after just under two months together.

Something I wasn’t worried about before coming to D.C. but should have been is food. There are way too many good places to eat, and they are all within walking distance of my apartment and office. So of course and soon as I got to the city I was eager to try as many new places as possible (and maybe the fact that I didn’t want to grocery shop or cook played a factor as well…just maybe).

I’ve found that grocery shopping is much more of an inconvenience without a car. When you have to carry all your groceries back with you or pack them in the back seat of an Uber, it discourages you from buying in bulk. So needless to say, the first few weeks here I found out the hard way how quickly and seamlessly a bank account can plummet when you are spending $10 a day on lunch and going out to eat every weekend.

There was one bright spot in my restaurant excursions. Scott, Zack and I found this awesome seafood restaurant just down the street called Hot N Juicy Crawfish and it’s become our go-to favorite place. I even recommended it to my boss and he proceeded to thank me the following week after he went with some friends. I recommended it to everyone in the D.C./Woodley Park area. But the food wouldn’t taste as good if I didn’t have some awesome friends to share it with.
Moral of the story: friends are important, and so is food. Find a happy medium between eating out and grocery shopping, and your bank account will thank you. I also highly recommend Amazon Prime Pantry if you’re already a member. It’s clutch.

Life as a DC Student in WMI

By Merdie Nzanga

It was April 4, 2014 – the day I received my acceptance letter to American University. Oh yay me! I’m going to Washington, DC! Here I was leaving my home in Seattle, WA and going all the way across the nation’s capital. Although I later left AU, I transferred to Howard University (also in DC) because I still loved living in DC.

Living in Washington, DC is so special to me because it is our country’s capital. It is so historically and culturally rich, and there are so many sights to see – from museums to national monuments, to restaurants!

While I’ve lived here, I’ve also had the chance to visit the Newseum several times.  The Newseum is a large, interactive museum that focuses on journalism and the media in our understanding of historical events, located right in the middle of the city. Every time I visit this museum it gets me excited about journalism.  My favorite place at the Newseum is the Vietnam War coverage presentation – the first televised war. It is amazing to me how much of an influence  Americans had on the war just by watching it on their television screens.

Because I could have a new experience and stay in DC for the semester, I decided to attend the Washington Media Institute. My experience at the Washington Media Institute has made my experience in DC even better. This semester I am interning at DC Witness where we track homicides in DC and write about them. I go to court everyday, and then I come back to our office and get to write . I like this internship because it has been helping my writing. During class, Amos, the director, and Jon, the associate director, give individual feedback to each student on their work. I’m being pushed more professionally than I ever have and it’s all thanks to WMI!

If you haven’t had a chance to visit DC, please come!

A Different Kind of WMI Student

By Kristina Orrego

Most days, I’m up by 5 a.m.

6:30 is nothing short of glorious.

Then, I hop in my car and make the 45-minute pilgrimage from Stafford, Virginia (I chose to live with my uncle there to save money on housing) to the Franconia-Springfield metro station, swerving on the EZ pass lanes past all the other cars like I’m in a Fast and Furious movie. It’s a miracle I haven’t gotten pulled over. 

The blue line at Franconia is the first of the two metros I get on before I get to my internship, making my commute total a little less than two hours.

Seriously, there’s nothing I hate more than being late. And being on time is the same as being late in my book. I signed up for this. There are no excuses.

I heard about the Washington Media Institute at UF’s College of Journalism Career Day they hold every semester. I was soon to graduate, and soon after, I proudly walked across that stage in December 2015. I had the textbook-typical freak out moment of realizing I was an unemployed college graduate and scoured Craigslist for anything I could do to at least put gas in my car and buy groceries on my own.

I took up as many freelancing gigs I could at three different publications and became a scribe at a business transcription service. All the while, I never forgot about the WMI I was so enthusiastic about as an undergrad. I got back in contact with the staff.

I’ll be 90 and still remember the first conversation Jon, the Associate Director, and I had about the program. He asked me where I wanted my journalism career to go and about some of my experiences so far. He told me Gainesville and Alachua County Today, the main paper I was writing for at the time, were simply too small. His exact words: I had to get out of Gainesville and in front of the right people.

Someone I respected enormously saw something in me, and my heart could’ve actually exploded. For just a short time, the voice of doubt I’ve wrestled with since I can remember was silenced. I knew if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I would always wonder what could’ve been or where it could’ve taken me.

That was a long time ago. After working as a receptionist and a road trip to D.C. with my parents so they could meet Amos, WMI’s Director, I’m here.

I would be lying if I said that it hasn’t been hard.

I sleep in longer than I’d like to admit on the weekends to make up for what I lose during the week. I’ve had to spend all night and the wee hours of the morning finishing video projects because my commute cuts severely into my work time.

But so far, it has been absolutely worth the blood, sweat and tears. It’s pushed me to the point that I truly feel like I can handle anything.

And the greatest outcome so far?

I’m starting to believe I can, too.

Top Ten Emojis and When to Use Them

By Scott Silberstein

Here is the definitive list of the 10 best emojis (in no particular order), what they mean, and when to use them.

 

2. Yikes – basically that face you make when your roommate asks what you’re doing this weekend but you already made plans without them. Use sparingly, this personal favorite of mine can get out of hand quickly.

 

2. Fire – a term used for when something is really good, or actually on fire.Use in above situations, especially when it’s “lit”.

 

3. Chicken Leg– can be used in the broader sense to represent any food, or chicken specifically. Best used at lunch or dinner.

 

4. 100 – popularized by the phrase “I keep it 100” this emoji symbolizes the best, the cream of the crop, a 100% effort.

 

5. The Sailboat – Everyone knows the best way to travel is by boat, the scenery is unmatched by any other. Use this whenever you want to escape a boring conversation.

 

6. The Disappointment – to express disappointment or shame of oneself or others. Use whenever your faith in humanity is dwindling.

 

7. The Flag – this is the flag of South Africa, you can use whatever flag you like, but this one is my personal favorite. Use to express patriotism, or to be difficult when telling friends where you are traveling.

 

8. Love Eyes – used to express significant feelings towards a person, place, or thing. Important to note this emoji has never been used in relation to the DC Metro.

 

9. Money on my Mind – show others your appreciation for money through this little guy. Best used on payday — make it rain emojis.

 

10. The Dude – sunglasses make anything cooler – fact. Best used when accompanying an impressive feat, like scoring courtside Wizard tickets.

 

Now let’s use them in a sample conversation:

David: “Hey Scott, want to get KFC for dinner tonight?”

Scott:      

Translation: “Yikes. It disappoints me that you like that restaurant. Let’s go to Nando’s Peri Peri instead. They have delicious flame grilled chicken with a South African flair. Every time you eat there they give you coupons, so you can save money (which is cool). Nando’s keeps it 100, I love it there. Every time I eat Nando’s Peri Peri chicken feels like sailing off into the sunset.”

*This is not a paid promotion of Nando’s Peri Peri

Budgeting Done Right in the District

By Molly Farrell   

When I first moved into my apartment at WISH, I knew I was going to be doing a lot of cooking because going out to eat all the time was going to get expensive. In my opinion, cooking is so much more fun and healthier because you can make anything you want in the comfort of your own home. All you need is the right cooking tools and the right ingredients, then you’re set to make a delicious meal.

When I grocery shop in the city, I always come prepared with a shopping list so I don’t forget anything. It’s important to bring any coupons as well, so you can get the best deals. No matter which store I go to I look for the best prices, that way I am getting something for every penny I use. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned that going to the stores or markets in Woodley Park can be really expensive. Instead I go to Safeway or major grocery stores. But don’t get me wrong the stores near me are nice if I need two or three items to complete a meal I am making. Also, it’s walking distance, so I can get there quickly.

Another point to keep in mind: remember to keep your receipts, so you can reference back to them when you need to – even just to see how much you
spent for the next time you go to the store. I also found out that DC has a tax on plastic bags, so remember to bring reusable bags so you don’t get charged – that tax will add up really quickly.

Even though grocery shopping is a major element to budgeting, you also need to think about shopping and going to different places in the city. There are some great places to shop here, but you need to be cautious of what you buy because little by little it will add up. I suggest you go to different museums in the city instead. Most of them are free so take ad
vantage of them. Learning something might even be more fun than wasting money on another pointless shirt. “Think before you spend” is a line that people should remember while living in a city like DC.

In general, shopping or grocery shopping on a budget in DC is something that’s important and everyone should take note of. Keeping a budget is way more effective and enjoyable to do with friends. So the next time you are looking for a place to eat, or a clothing store to shop in, instead go be with your friends and live in the moment.

A Clown Wearing Heels to Work

By Makena Kelly

I look like such a buffoon in Washington. You might as well stick a clown nose on my face and give me unicycle to help me commute into work.

It’s not like anything horrible has happened. In fact, these past two weeks have been the most fun I have had in a long time. However, I’m a girl from Lincoln, NE. I travel frequently so it’s not like I’m incompetent, but there are a few things I have noticed about myself that make me go, “Oh, crap. I’m that girl.” – you know, that girl who obviously is not from here.

For one, I’m trying way too hard to look like I know what I’m doing. I’ll wear pretty heels into work and by the end of the day, I’ve tripped and scuffed my knees while going up the infamously steep Woodley Park Metro elevator. Heels that click on tile make me look like I know what I’m doing; when I fall in them, it
just looks like I need medical attention.

Walking around the city is the best means of getting anywhere. A fluorescent man means “go”, but apparently a flashing red hand also means “go” when it’s 5:30 pm and you’ve had a busy day and you don’t care whether or not you live or die. Let God decide whether or not you matrix your way out of traffic as other pedestrians watch you dodge cars like Morpheus dodges bullets.

Escalators are here to help—not here to haul. And, if you want to be hauled and herded, stay on the right hand side. Otherwise, I will grumpily huff at you from behind at a volume that doesn’t disturb you, but lets the people around me know that I hate you. I want everyone else around me to also recognize my escalator strife.

When I grabbed my credentials to get into the Capitol building with CQ Roll Call, I realized why they call them “Press Galleries”—they’re actual art galleries. George Washington on the Potomac? That painting is bigger than my apartment.

When I was headed down to the cafeteria in the Capitol, I saw Senator Tammy Duckworth and threw my hands to my face. The man who was pushing her wheelchair looked at me like I had just had a stroke.

I also thought it was a brilliant idea to leave for the presidential inauguration at 4 am. I emphasize idea, because I woke up at 5:30, threw on a pair of hole-y jeans and froze my butt off waiting for a parade of motorcycles and flag-twirlers to lead President Trump from one end of the street to the other.

I’m bound to make mistakes while I’m here. I’ve been fortunate enough that my mistakes haven’t resulted in jail time, but just a couple bruises and confused looks from strangers. Washington is wonderful and it’s an absolutely crazy time to be here. It has only been two weeks, but I’m already certain that it will be an equally as enjoyable four months.

If you Hate the News, Go to the Newseum: A museum dedicated to all things news

By Prachi Parmar

Washington, D.C is a city that is rife with possible weekend excursions.

I have been here since the first week of September and somehow after 12 weekends of almost nonstop exploration, I still have a checklist of places that I want to see. There is history from before the beginning of the nation to be seen within the city limits. The best part lies in the fact that people are able to see this history for free for the most part.

But this blog post is not being written to tout the very well-known, well-supported idea that one should come to DC and take advantage of the free sights/history this city has to offer. Rather, it is here to argue that one of the most stunning things to do in the city is actually considered “new”, and in fact costs money – $24.27 after tax, to be exact.

While I understand that paying such a comparatively absorbent cost might be a hard sell, I argue that my visit to the Newseum located on 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW was unquestionably one of my favorite memories in DC.

The DC Newseum opened its doors in August of 2008 and is a seven floor, interactive modern-day tribute to anything and everything news – ranging from generations ago to the latest news.

I argue that one need not be a news fanatic to enter. In fact, I would say if you are skeptical about today’s media and potentially disgusted by modern day news partisanship, the Newseum is an honest, sometimes uncomfortable, review of how the news has done over the years. It showcases mistakes and rewards triumph.

From the front pages of newspapers around the world that are refreshed daily and run across the border of the building to the bathroom tiles that are inscribed with faulty headlines for a little lighthearted reading, this museum has something to offer the spectrum of news consumers.  

Beginning with a wide shot view of the Capitol from the seventh floor, visitors have the chance to walk down winding hallways while discovering the history of the news.

One of my favorite stops: An exhibit  that allows people to look at glass encasings of preserved newspapers, some dating all the way back to the 1600’s. Among these encasings lies a newspaper detailing the USA’s miraculous triumph against Russia. Next to that, the front page of a newspaper that detailed the hurt the US felt after the explosion of the Challenger.

Other notable exhibits include a curving glass memorial to slain journalists, a room filled with Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, and a wall mural dedicated to all of the First Dogs this nation has seen.

News has two different definitions: first, the people, programs, networks that report on the stories that occur in society and second, the stories themselves.

In one exhibit, on a widescreen TV, the stories from our lifetime continuously flash, causing people to stop and reflect on the good, the bad, the hurt, the saved. Even if you hate the news and no longer engage in it, news is still happening around you.  And being in this museum forces you to realize, its problems aside, how important the documentation of news is. More importantly, what things in our history that we can’t afford to forget.
It might not restore your faith in the system, but it will show you just how damn important the system is. And maybe, just maybe, it will inspire you to go fix it.

Spending My Last Semester of College in DC

By Tja Shorr

I never thought I would find myself in the middle of the election season in my last semester of college standing in the heart of Washington, DC.

But here I am. And I couldn’t be happier. 

The CU in DC Media Track program – that partners with the Washington Media Institute – has been one of my most fulfilling, enriching, extensive and exhausting semesters of my college career, and I have loved every moment of it.

I love how busy I am throughout the day, interning from 10-5pm and then walking home through the colorful leaves and cobblestone streets. I like to admire the brick and pillared houses, some with leftover Halloween decorations and some already decked out Christmas décor, while I head to class.

It’s a non-stop energy – and yet every part of the day is filled with something new, something challenging, something exciting, and something important.

I’ve toured most of the museums, seen the Gettysburg battlefield, and explored the Capitol. I’ve hosted exclusive events at Moncler, a Jill Kargman Book Signing Party, Bethesda Row, The Hepburn, CityCenterDC, and Room & Board through my internship at BrandlinkDC. I’ve met famous authors, fashion bloggers, painters, and news reporters through my classes and internship. And I can say I have done all I could to take it all in and soak up the sights and scenes so unique and special to Washington, DC.

This semester is so different because it packages and delivers so much in one program. I have learned tech skills and how to create video projects that, as a News Editorial major, I never thought I could learn to do. I’ve held responsibility at an elite public relations internship where I learned that I was capable and confident undertaking complex tasks with lots of pressure attached to it.

It’s been a hard semester, but definitely worth it. It’s so different from being at CU Boulder – where I have attended the last 3 years – because it’s a completely different place, different schedule, different people – all with such a cool, upbeat energy here in Washington, DC.

I share a unit with 4 other girls who also attend CU Boulder, and together we’ve become great friends – sharing laughs, hanging out, and going on weekend explorations in the city. Nearing the end of the program, I can see how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learned here – maybe even more so than I have from a year at CU Boulder.

I graduate after this semester, so I feel like I’m halfway in between going to school and getting a full time job – and this program has been the perfect stepping stone. The Media Track program has given me a semester of challenges, adventures, and true friendships that have allowed me to graduate feeling especially accomplished and deserving.

No, this program is not easy – it’s not a stroll in the park, partying and clubbing every night like one might expect out of a semester abroad – but it’s an adventure and it’s challenging and it’s so, so much more interesting and relevant to thriving in the changing world of media. Through this program, I’ve learned skills and I’ve learned things about myself that will allow me to go out into the world and really make an impact and a career out of something I’m passionate about. Those are things not taught in school, but definitely accomplished through the Media Track program.

So if you’re up for a challenge and an adventure and something totally new and out of this world, I say go for it and do this program! I sure did and it made all the difference.

Originally posted December 8, 2016

The Election Night No One Expected

By Lauren Gantenbein

A few weeks ago during a Friday discussion centered around politics, a political journalist guest speaker told our class, “The election is over.” I think the majority of us, no matter what side you are on, thought the same thing. However, the election night took us all by surprise.

Election Tuesday was a day I had been looking forward to for a very long time. Instead of coming to Washington, D.C. during the summer, I decided on the fall so I could see what an election was like in our nation’s capital – especially after attending debates for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton back home in Wisconsin, hearing many guest speakers from news sources such as CNN talk about the election, and working for a communications firm focused on driving social change on progressive issues. With so much time and anticipation, I couldn’t believe election day was finally here.

I began the election day with lots of coffee. At my internship, most of my work was focused on the election, but by 5pm that evening, I headed to CQ/Roll Call where nine of us from WMI volunteered to help call the House and Senate races so they could get the news out and begin writing articles as soon as possible. Each of us were assigned about 9 states to call and some worked exclusively on finding race results via Twitter.

We were all anxious, working diligently and amped up on sugar and caffeine as the night began. Working in a newsroom during election night was fascinating, from people running around making sure that everything was running smoothly to the students feeling excited to be a part of this historic night. In the newsroom there is absolutely no bias. As the night continued, no matter how we felt about the results coming in, we had to stick to doing our job and getting the information right. Sometimes it was hard not to cheer or cry, but we had to keep a straight face. To me, working in the newsroom was the perfect way to spend election night because the main stress we had was making sure we were calling the results as soon as they came in. We were also the first to know who won the House/Senate races from our home states and around the entire country, which are often forgotten races for many in the wake of a presidential election.

We left CQ/Roll Call once the House/Senate races were called around 1:30am ET, but before Donald Trump was named President-elect. After we left our job for the evening, we decided to head to the White House to see how the people of Washington, D.C. felt on election night. Ninety two percent of voters in D.C. voted for Hillary Clinton, so it comes to no surprise that the majority of the action was protests against Trump – with a couple of “Make America Great Again” hats in the crowd and protesters climbing trees outside the White House. From Black Lives Matter chants to rainbow flags flying through the air, tears of joy, fear, and sadness filled the outside of the White House. As the journalism students that we are, we took in the history around us by taking pictures, taking videos, and just observing what was happening on this historic night.

The next day, the only thing heard throughout the city was talk of the election. There was shock over the results, many were fearful of our country, and some believed that this is the change the U.S. needed. People talked about this on the metro, on their walk to work, and even in the local CVS. Anywhere you went in D.C. it was a topic of conversation, and it still is two week later, with protests still taking place in front of the Trump Hotel.

The 2016 election was anything but ordinary and I could not be more thankful to have experienced it in our nation’s capital. While the results shocked the nation, it has been amazing and fascinating to see the reaction right here in D.C. Thank you to WMI for providing the opportunity to talk to many journalists involved in politics on both sides, and to encourage us all to fully embrace what D.C. has to offer during the presidential election.

Originally posted November 22, 2016