Jour 203-BDP

Friday, October 27, 2006

Iran-Contra in Retrospect

Personal charm and traditional values allowed Ronald Reagan to win the hearts of millions of Americans. However nostalgia has a way of erasing blemishes and sometimes, even entire events. The Iran Contra affair during Reagan’s presidency temporarily marred the president’s reputation and permanently set a precedent of unchecked power becoming corrupt.

In 1985 Iran and Iraq were at war. Meanwhile the United States appeared helpless to secure the release of seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. When the opportunity for American intervention presented itself in the form of supplying weapons to Iran, National Secretary Robert McFarlane, CIA Director William Casey, and President Reagan supported the idea. An underlying motive for the deal was the release of hostages. This sale of weapons directly violated the embargo against selling arms to Iran and Reagan’s campaign promise of never negotiating with terrorists. Beginning October 20, 1985 Israel delivered 96 TOW missiles to Iran on behalf of the United States. Arm sales continued until October 1986, even though not all hostages had been released from the initial sale. These activities were made public by the Lebanese newspaper “Al-Shiraa” in November 1986. Reagan fervently denied the arms-for-hostages deal because “none of the arms we’d shipped to Iran had gone to terrorists who’d kidnapped our citizens.” The scandal escalated when the US was discovered to have overcharged for the weapons and profits diverted to anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. This violated the Boland Amendment which forbade US support and operations in Nicaragua. The Iran Contra dealings were investigated by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh for eight years and fourteen people were charged. The president’s suffering was short lived and by 1989, as he departed office, his approval rating was the highest of any president since Franklin Roosevelt.
The poor investigation of Iran Contra allowed culprits to survive and thrive in their corruption.

Byrne, Malcolm and Peter Kornbluh. “Iran-Contra: The Press Indicts the Prosecutor.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 1994. Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 27 October 2006. <>.
Donahue, Bruce. “Power and Personality: A Study of the Iran Arms-for-Hostages Deal.” National Defense University. 27 October 2006. <>.
Wolf, Julie. “The Iran-Contra Affair.” Public Broadcasting Service. 27 October 2006.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Read the following six news stories and identify each lead as ‘summary’ or ‘soft’ (in a new blog entry). After identifying them, change each lead to its opposite (summary to soft; soft to summary) using information from the article. DEADLINE: Wednesday (10/25/06) 5pm. Hard news lead. Five foot three Sarah Shoe stands in the loan office, holding tangible evidence of her success in obtaining a student loan. Shoe, a second year at Stanford University, is unable to afford the pricey tuition and has resorted taking out loans. However this may be the last time Shoe ever has to step foot in a loan office…
*I made up the article content because the New York Times article was inaccessible without registering! Soft news lead. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, white families are three times more likely than their black counterpart to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes. Soft news lead. Swedish businessman Bo Stefan Eriksson is facing charges for having crashed a red Ferrari while under the influence and embezzled a black Ferrari and Mercedes to the United States. Hard News lead. Snoop Dogg has been wowing teenage audiences with his flashy “bling” and controversial rap lyrics for over ten years. However airport employees were far from star struck when Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, was discovered with a 21-inch collapsible baton as he boarded a New York flight. Hard News lead. Freedom of the press is a luxury that many countries do not possess. According to the group Reporters Without Borders Mauritania and Haiti are less repressive than ever before and improved their record in global press freedom. Alarmingly, France, the United States, and Japan slipped further down on the scale of 168 countries rated. Soft news lead. Schools across the nation are expecting students to read textbooks a grade above their reading level and some required reading may be too difficult for even adults to read.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Contact one local business owner (can be a part-owner) and answer the following questions in a new blog entry. DEADLINE: Tuesday (10/17/06) 2pm. 1. Why did you decide to go into business?2. How long has your business existed?3. What is your average customer profile?4. One anectdote/story about your business (i.e. a memorable day, an order mix-up, a memorable customer, etc.).

Who is Albert? This question alone provoked me to walk into Albert’s Florist on Morro Street where the smell of fresh flowers showered my senses. Immediately the owner invited me behind the scenes to witness the building of their beautiful bouquets and centerpieces.
The name Albert is the last name of past owners, prior to Barkev and Tzolig Abadjian purchasing the flower shop in 1980. Barkev achieved a master’s degree from Cal Poly in botany and jumped on the opportunity to purchase the space when it became available during the couple’s first year of marriage. With six part time employees, Albert’s flower shop has been a great success and caters to all demographics of the San Luis Obispo community.
A memorable story was related to me by employee Barbara Clark. She recalled last year a man buying a flowers and balloons for his wife’s anniversary. At the shop the man took an hour designing a beautiful card complete with “love doodles” to accompany the gift. When the delivery man arrived at the customer’s home the balloon and card accidentally slipped into the air. Barbara received the bad news and dreaded telling her customer of his misfortune. Before she even had time to pick up the phone, a women came into the shop crying. Apparently the balloon and card had landed on the wife’s car while she was shopping in the grocery store. She discovered her husband’s surprise with tears of joy.
“Honestly everyday is a new story,” said Barbara Clark. “Working here you are part of people’s holidays and funerals. You share in their lives.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Journalists Gone Bad

Answer the following in a new blog entry. DEADLINE: Wednesday (10/11/06), 5pm.Part I -- Identify the shamed journalists in the mugshots above, and describe why each was fired. Hint: they worked for (from left to right) The New Republic, The New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post. Part II -- The Mustang Daily even found itself embroiled in a plagiarism scandal last year. What were the details of the incident? (BONUS QUESTION: What ethical dilemma did local media (Mustang Daily, New Times and SLO Tribune) face when reporting this story)?Part III -- Identify the 'character' of each organization or individual listed below. Some questions to answer: What do they do? Who pays them? What is their agenda, if any? Who’s interest are they serving? 1. Corpwatch2. Globalwitness3. Laborstart4. Associated Press5. Reuters6. Electronic Authorization Partnership7. David Romero8. Jack T. O'Conell9. Julie Rodewald10. Deborah Linden

Part I
Picture 1 Stephen Glass: While working for The New Republic 25 year old Stephen Glass fabricated stories for numerous publications including Slate, Rolling Stone, Harper's, George, and of course The New Republic. In the New Republic alone 27 of Glass’ 41 pieces were partly or entirely fictional.
Picture 2 Jayson Blair: This line from the front page of the New York Times on 11 May 2003 outlines Blair’s offenses while working as a reporter for the Times. “The reporter, Jayson Blair, 27, misled readers and Times colleagues with dispatches that purported to be from Maryland , Texas and other states, when often he was far away, in New York . He fabricated comments. He concocted scenes. He lifted material from other newspapers and wire services. He selected details from photographs to create the impression he had been somewhere or seen someone, when he had not.” His lies were found in stories ranging from a sniper attack in suburban Washington to families grieving over loved ones lost in Iraq.
Picture 3 Jack Kelley: In the words of Blake Morrison, USA TODAY, “Jack Kelley fabricated substantial portions of at least eight major stories, lifted nearly two dozen quotes or other material from competing publications, lied in speeches he gave for the newspaper and conspired to mislead those investigating his work.” One of his most atrocious lies involved a story about a woman who died fleeing Cuba by boat.
Picture4 Janet Cooke: While working for the Washington Post Janet Cooke published a story titled “Jimmy’s World” about an 8 year old heroin addict in inner-city Washington D.C. She was awarded Pulitzer Prize for the piece, until it was discovered that the she made up Jimmy and his saga to satisfy editors at the Post.

Part 2
In summer 2005 a student was convicted of plagiarizing articles spring quarter for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s student run newspaper the Mustang Daily. The student copied entire paragraphs from other publications and used them as her own in three Mustang Daily articles. During the Mustang Daily’s summer edition, editors Dan Watson and Kristen Oato corrected the plagiarized articles and assured readers that the problem had been corrected. The name of the journalism student responsible was not published by the Mustang Daily. When reporting the story in August 2005, the SLO Tribune and New Times were faced with an ethical dilemma of whether or not to reveal the student’s name. The San Luis Obispo Tribune did publish Rebecca Laman as the culprit. Some argue that publicizing the Cal Poly student’s plagiarism was correct, but reporting the name was unnecessary.

Part 3
According to Common Dreams, a progressive newswire, “CorpWatch is a watchdog group that works to hold corporations accountable on human rights, labor rights and environmental justice”.
SourceWatch a project of the center for Media and Democracy states that, “Global Witness works to highlight the links between the exploitation of the natural resources and human rights abuses, particularly where the resources such as timber, diamonds and oil are used to fund conflict.”
According to AFSCME Council, LaborStart “Provides an international perspective on labor unions. Up-to-date news and alerts on major strikes and a searchable research archive.”
The Associated Press mission is “to be the essential global news network, providing distinctive news services of the highest quality, reliability and objectivity with reports that are accurate, balanced and informed.” It is a nonprofit cooperative.
The Reuters website describes itself as “the largest international multi-media news agency, reporting extensively from around the world on topics ranging from financial markets to general and political news.”
Government Computer news wrote in a recent article about PKI service vendors that, “FICC has established an industry working group, the Electronic Authorization Partnership, to develop processes for certifying digital-certificate providers. The providers will be certified to the four levels of assurance spelled out in OMB’s e-authentication guidelines, published earlier this year.
David Romero? A versatile musician in Las Vegas, NV or a Santa Fe Spring CHP killed by a drunk driver September 23, 2005.
Jack T. O’Conell is the current superintendant of public instruction in California, elected in 2002. He is currently running for reelection. During their four year term the supeintendant of public instruction oversees Ca’s public school system.
Julie Rodewald is the San Luis Obispo county Clerk-Recorder. She is responsible for maintaining the district court’s files and the county’s land records.
Deborah Linden is the CEO of Orlando-based Island One Resorts?

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's All In the Name

Story ideas surround you. All you have to do is observe your surroundings and you will find news stories to write about. A walk through your campus is a start. Answer the following questions about a couple buildings on campus (in a new blog entry). 1A. For whom were the buildings named? 1B. Are there plaques on benches, walls, doorways named for people who meant something to your university? 1C. Who were they? 1D. What did they do? 1E. When did they live, die or contribute something to your school? 2A. Are there signs around campus about construction? 2B. What is being built or renovated?

A name tells a lot about a person or on Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's campus a building. Each of the state university’s residence halls are "named after famous mountain peaks or state parks in California," said Suzanne Fritz, Associate Director of Residential Life and Education. The two first year connection halls Sierra Madre and Yosemite finished in 1968 are refer to the Sierra Madre Mountains and Yosemite state park. Similarly the names of the Living Learning South Mountain residence halls built in the 1960s (Trinity, Santa Lucia, Muir, Sequoia, Fremont, and Tenaya) originate from mountain ranges, national parks/forests, and famous lakes in California. Each of the Living Learning North Mountain halls Shasta, Diablo, Lassen, Palomar, and Whitney are famous mountain peaks around California. North Mountain is the oldest dorm complex on Cal Poly’s campus built during the 1950s. The newest addition to Cal Poly’s on campus housing, the Cerro Vista sophomore apartments completed in 2004, have six sections named after each of the “Cerros” (hills) that begin in Morro Bay and end just east of San Luis Obispo. Poly Canyon Village, Cal Poly’s next housing endeavor is set to begin construction in 2006.
One of Cal Poly’s newest marvels, the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center and adjoining Phillips hall, is named after a few generous individuals. Howard Gee, Technical Director for the Cal Poly Theatre and Dance department, has worked for the university for 28 years and knew the significance of each building’s name. According to Gee “a classroom can not be named after a private individual but can be named after a company”. The Performing Arts Center does not constitute a classroom and Chistopher Cohan is the source of the PAC’s name. Cohan, Cal Poly alumni who owns the Golden State Warriors, pledged money for the arts center in the form of stock. According to Gee, three entities contributed to the PAC; a private foundation, the city of San Luis Obispo, and the university itself. The exterior building is named after the largest donor, Christopher Cohan. Inside, Harman Hall required additional funding from Sidney Harman owner of the international company Harman Audio. The adjoining classroom Phillips Hall is named after the lighting and audiovisual company Phillips for their contributions.
Visual and performing art buildings on Cal Poly’s campus honor specific individuals that contributed financially or academically to the department. One captivating story involves Alex Spanos for whom the theatre is named. According to Gee, Spanos was a student pursuing music at Cal Poly during the late 1930s and early 40s. Spanos departed for WWII without finishing his degree and return from the war to start one of the largest construction service companies in the United States. A self made billionaire Spanos returned to Cal Poly to contribute to the music center. After Spanos’ large endowment Cal Poly offered to name the music building Spanos Music Center. Spanos declined the honor because the music building was already named after a past mentor of his, Herold Davidson. Davidson headed the music department during the 1930s and 40s and went on to become the head of the Liberal Arts department. Today the music center has retained the name HP Davidson. Outside a bench is dedicated to William Kwan, a violinist in Cal Poly’s symphony who passed away in 2003 in a fatal car accident. The theatre is named Alex and Faye Spanos, to thank Spanos and his wife Faye. Gee takes great pride in Cal Poly’s arts department and is excited for the Davidson Music Center’s projected growth in 2007/08.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Label the components of the above news story based on what you learned in today's lecture (click on image to view a larger version). Write your responses (1-8) as a new blog entry (titled: Assignment #2). DEADLINE: Tuesday (10/3/06) 5pm.

Blank 1: Lead b/c 1st sentence/attention getting/creative/satisfies the "who", "what", and "why"
Blank 2: Background b/c the "where", "how" are answered
Blank 3: Elaboration b/c it describes the activists words and actions
Blank 4:Impact b/c it answers the "why/so what"
Blank 5:Lead quote b/c it is an articulate quote stating the mission of the march
Blank 6: Elaboration b/c the participants are described further
Blank 7: Elaboration b/c a differing opinion is presented
Blank 8: Ending b/c the future action that is planned is outlined

A Good Lead: Browse through a variety of print media (online or otherwise) and copy/paste three leads (must be in the first two sentences of story) that stand out to you as especially curious, engaging, humorous, off-the-wall, etc. Write a short paragraph under each lead describing why you chose it. IMPORTANT: When you're finished, post this assignment as a new blog entry (in your own blog) AND AS A
'COMMENT 'attached to this prompt (click on the 'comment' button below this prompt and sign-in under your account). DEADLINE: WEDNESDAY (10/4/06) 5pm.

"Henry Gale wasn't supposed to survive this long."
This hook is attention getting and to the point (thirty words or less). It is written in an active voice, not passive voice. The lead is somewhat elusive not specifying what Henry Gale has survived, whether it be a personal health battle or in this case a job cut. The lead's first verb expresses the main "who" and "what" of the story. This story will tell of Henry Gale's (the who) and his remarkable survival as a regular character on ABC's castaway drama "Lost" (what). Most importantly this lead makes me want to read furthur.
Source: Extended visit by Jaymes Song, Associated Press published in Cape Cod Times

"Joe Francis, the founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" empire, is humiliating me. He has my face pressed against the hood of a car, my arms twisted hard behind my back. He's pushing himself against me, shouting: "This is what they did to me in Panama City!"
This off-the-wall news lead is a single paragraph and summarizes the "who" (Joe Francis) and the "why" read about him ( he founded Girls Gone Wild). Here the active voice is very intriguing and throws the reader into this chaotic scene creating a distinct visual. In the next paragraph background information provides the what, when, and where of the story, which I take the time to read thanks to this juicy lead.
Source: Baby, Give Me a Kiss by Claire Hoffman, staff writer LA Times

U.S. scientists John C. Mather and George F. Smoot today won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their research helping to solidify the big bang theory of the origin of the universe.
Here a good straight news lead gets the job done. It is clear that the two scientists John Mather and George Smoot are the "who", their nobel prize in physics is the "what", 2006 satisfies "when", and the fact that it is the big bang theory of how the universe began provides a "so what". The unanswered questions of "where" is not especially applicable and how they achieved this feat will be answered later in the story. Creativity is not optimized, but readers interested in this subject matter may be more analytical and perhaps less appreciative of a "flowery" lead.
Source: Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to Two U.S. Cosmologists by Aalok Mehta, National Geographic News

Choose three story ideas for your final project. Attach as 'COMMENTS' to this post (by clicking the 'Comment' icon just below this prompt) as well as new blog entries in your own accounts. DEADLINE: Thursday (10/5/06) BEFORE CLASS.

*Homeless population in San Luis Obispo
*Local zoning rules for fraternities and sororities
*Bus Transportation

Multimedia news organizations have been popping up since the mid 1990s. However only recently have breaking stories such as the Amish school shooting, been available online in print, video, and audio formats. This horrifying story, which happened today October 3 2006, sparked my interest and I began researching the developing details. The media of three different news organizations offered very distinct perspectives on the subject.
My first inclination is to go to what is comfortable and for me that is print stories on the web. BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation, presented a in depth story of the fatal shooting at an Amish school with details divulging the killer’s name and motive, number of causalities, and quotes from people affected by the crime. Extremely thorough, especially for breaking news, I did not feel the need to research this story further. Other benefits of print media are the instant access and trustworthiness of a published story. However in today’s technological age is hard to hold the average American’s attention solely with words. Downsides to a print story are the lack of visuals and increased time required to get through a story. My next source of information combated those problems effectively.
Online CNN presents a video feature of the Amish school killing. Easily accessible this 2 minute and a half minute story gave me all the basic information. Seeing the killer’s face, scene of the shooting, and reporters/police live at the crime scene affected me far more than the print version. Benefits of a video edition of a story are the audio and visual aspects, conciseness, and immediate impact. Negative aspects of the video presentation were the Washington Mutual advertisement I was forced to watch prior, lack of detail, and delayed availability online. Surprisingly podcasts were another available resource about this tragedy.
Accustomed to listening to Morning Edition on NPR, I had no inhibitions about using an audio source to get my news. Online CBS had podcasts available of several breaking stories, with instructions on how to access them efficiently. I gained access to the Amish school killing through iTunes, but CBS recommends and makes available several other viewing formats. The time required to load the podcast is the obvious downside of this medium. Otherwise I found a nice balance of print and video attributes with the podcast. Print aspects were evident in the detailed analysis. Video features were apparent in the brevity and ability to hold my attention. All in all, which medium is most effective? In my opinion multimedia is a matter of preference and my preference is a little bit of everything. This is Brittany Davis Pulley signing off.