A Poignant Picture Essay of My Year in J School

It’s the last week of classes and, as a grad student,  I am naturally experiencing the constant urge to pluck every hair from my head. Additonally, I only have ONE chocolate left in my rabbit-shaped box of delightful Fererro hazelnut chocolate balls. Serious times, y’all.

Anyway, I am procrastinating writing my several ridiculously long papers by writing this eloquent blog post. And since I don’t exactly feel like glazing your eyes over with the usual text overload I have decided to put up a fun picture post. Yay picture posts!

Katie’s Life in Grad School: Phase One

This is me in August stepping onto Alabama’s campus and preparing to start my epic journalism journey and the proud owner of my OWN bathroom.

girl

LET’S DO THIS!!!

This is me at the end of the fall term.

little boy

Oh Oh OH Stayin alive stayin alive

This is me at some undefined point during the spring semester.

Frustrated Business Woman

I picked Journalism?!! JOURNALISM??!!!!?

This is me whenever I get a blog post compliment.

Duh-Winning-51410878608

This is probably how I look and sound to my roommate when I walk into our apartment after class.

Chewbaccaheadshot

This is me when I check my bank account balance weekly.

bachelor-girls-9

This is me when someone asks me what am I planning to do when I graduate.

12148625-little-girl-shouting-in-anger-to-a-boy--raging-kids

This is me when a professor confirms I have a future as a writer.

elation

This is going to be me for the next 2 weeks before I move to Anniston, Alabama for the summer.

images (1)

And finally, where I imagine myself in 5 years, obviously.

vector-of-a-cartoon-author-signing-books-black-and-white-outline-outlined-coloring-page-by-ron-leishman-24289

Let The Food Trucks Roll

Courtesy of http://bhmstreetfoodcoalition.com/

Tacos. Hot Dogs. Grilled Cheeses. Pork Sliders. The boisterous call of “Order Up” echoes through the busy streets and sidewalks of Birmingham, a city in the deep south that has restaurants, bars, breweries and food trucks popping up around every avenue. Who says the Iron City can’t muscle up and stand beside it’s older brother Austin, TX? We may never be a 20-something mecca like Chicago but at least the city puts itself on the map of cool with joints overflowing with skinny tied professionals and PBR drinkin’ hipsters.

I was very close this weekend to shelling out $25 to sample some of Birmingham’s tastiest cuisine on wheels. Being a student whose bank account has dropped it like it’s hot, I opted out of the extravaganza but nevertheless, am still fascinated by this impressive and rapidly growing food revolution in the Magic City.

Birmingham Street Food Coalition hosted the Street Food Rally 2013 this past Sunday at Pepper Place. Food Trucks such as Off The Hook, Cantina On Wheels, and Dreamcakes Bakery gathered to serve tasty delicacies such as grilled mac-and- cheese sandwiches from Melt, a food truck with a menu that causes a mouthwatering Pavlov reaction. Brilliant idea, Paget Pizitz! We’re talking every kind of delicious ingredient from sourdough bread to gouda cheese to PULLED PORK and bacon. Sounds like heaven and I look forward to trying it.

However, this revolution is facing some serious resistance. The city is examining Food Truck laws and concerned about these tasty vehicles snatching money from the competitors with brick foundations. Who doesn’t love delicious, affordable, trendy meals that you consume walk-up style?

I say…let the food trucks rolls! Let’s keep Bham on the map of cool. Show Your Support Here

KT

Twitter Talk: Less Squawking, More Singing

twitter-thinks-it-may-know-your-friends-f7485ada28

Courtesy of mashable.com

When I first discovered Twitter’s existence in college I rolled my eyes at a website devoted entirely to people sharing their minute-by-minute thoughts in annoying 140 character bursts.  After I eventually gave in to the trend, I felt a rush of sensory overload from the thousands of people shouting at me from tiny megaphones inside my computer screen. Today, Twitter continues to buzz more than ever with tweets from companies, organizations, politicians, celebrities and even parody accounts (I follow @VeryGrumpyCat). Scrolling through the “live feed” one can find emergency pictures of cute puppies, Kim Kardashian’s inner thoughts and the latest White House updates all in about 15 seconds.

This new way of receiving and sharing information is causing many journalists to break a serious sweat as we struggle to reach an elusive public. However, I believe the key to using Twitter effectively as a journalist lies in sorting through all this madness and tapping into the site’s ample opportunities by tweeting efficiently, creatively and professionally.

A positive side to Twitter is the way it connects journalists directly to their sources and opens up the door for ongoing conversation between journalists and readers. For my In-Depth Reporting class, Don Brown suggested that one of the way best ways to contact a local politician for a story was to find him on Twitter because he is more likely to check that account than phone or email.  It may be a little strange but I think journalists should use Twitter as a launching pad to reach out to public figures and other possible sources. I agree with reporter Paul Farhi when he states in his article, “The Twitter Explosion,” that the site “can be a living, breathing tip sheet for facts, new sources and story ideas.”

The Twitter blog post directed at journalists has some excellent recommendations about squeezing the most juice out of the site through the use of hashtags to credit sources and give a context for topic discussions. Journalists should focus on maximum relevancy in the news atmosphere and stray away from 30 tweets in a day that are mostly silly and ill researched. Journalists should also assemble a diverse “followers” and “following” list, which will lead to a knowledge base that aids in story creation. As the website’s blog post emphasizes, that “retweet” button will send waves of good karma through the tweeting sphere and prevent Twitter from solely functioning as a personal soapbox.

On one hand, Twitter is rapidly sharing information and connecting millions of people across geographic constraints at zero cost. Journalists would deem themselves obsolete not to buckle up and join this exciting, fast-paced ride.  In “Twittering The News,” Alfred Hermida points out that Twitter can be positively viewed as an awareness system sending out ripples of opportunities for people to receive a plethora of information and cultivate that knowledge within individual contexts.

However, with great power comes great responsibility and one too many “just brushed my teeth” tweets can hinder Twitter’s effectiveness as a news service.  A journalist could make the career-damaging mistake of sending out a false tweet that grows like an amoeba as its retweeted, linked and shared throughout the tangled Internet labyrinth.

In conclusion, Twitter does not have to hurt the credibility and quality of journalism if reporters are smart tweeters who tap into the site’s abundance of resources. Ultimately, it is the journalist’s job to produce and decipher informative twitter gems that glow brightly among an abundance of useless Kardashian coals.

2013 Oscars Reflections/ Why Jennifer Lawrence is the New Emma Stone

wenn20163350

 I did not get the chance to watch the Oscars live with champagne and appetizers and besties. I do not have cable because Melody and I do nothing but watch Gilmore Girls on the tube. Additionally, I was in the normal Sunday night routine of frantically doing schoolwork last minute and hoping that Monday morning would decide to just chill out and not arrive.

However, like the Super Bowl, the Emmys, and the Pope giving everyone the “peace out” hand signal, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google were able to bring me up to date on everything noteworthy that happened. After scanning the videos, the headlines and the endless photos of bejewelled actresses cloaked in suggestive glitter I came up with some conclusions.

And it turns out conclusions= BLOG POST.  So. Here it goes.

Katie’s 2013 Oscar Conclusions (There’s only 4 so go ahead and read through em)

1) Jennifer Lawrence is the absolute bomb.com. She’s funny, she’s real, she’s effortlessly gorgeous and she knows  that a good shot of liquor can help ease the nerves of walking into a room full of probing journalists plotting your demise (because that’s what we do sometimes).  Watching the video of her falling on the way to her award and then watching the press hound her about it made me realize that’s who I would be if I happened to be the kind of person picked as Bradley Cooper’s love interest in an award-winning film.

“Yeah…I fell on purpose!” “Why did I fall? LOOK AT THIS DRESS!” “Sorry…I took a shot before this” *giggles* “Do I worry that I peaked too early? Well now I AM WORRIED!” Hollywood needs more Jennifer Lawrences. We are all human. Girls dressed as fluffy swans and flushed with shock and champagne are extremely likely to fall while vertically ascending a velvet staircase to receive a life-defining award. There’s no need for the globe to gasp in unison. Save that for Channing Tatum tossing his slacks in the air in Magic Mike.

2) If Seth Macfarlane is picked to host the Oscars, OF COURSE he is going to gleefully sing about Hollywood’s beautiful ladies doing the naked tango in a sleu of memorable movies. Did you see Ted? Have you watched an episode of Family Guy? This comedian was not going to use his televised spotlight moment to stand before the ritziest societal group in the world and make innocent Brady Brunch knee-slappers. He was out to receive some choice words. He’s a professional offender.

3)Tina and Amy should host absolutely everything anyway.

4) What is the point of the Oscars again?

oscars-seth-macfarlane_510x411

The New Networking: Eating Goldfish With Don Lemon

Today started out as as typical Thursday.  I woke up like a zombie at 10am after a late night of furiously attempting to be productive. I did homework on the computer while Gilmore Girls played comfortingly in the background. I drove around downtown a bit and took some pictures for a story, which included a random lady getting out of her car and yelling at me, “I GOT YOUR BACK GIRL!!” Ok, so not entirely my typical Thursday.

I then went to my Ethics in Journalism class where I had the distinct pleasure of listening to CNN anchor Don Lemon speak to our class about his career journey and share advice to a group of young people hungering for his success secrets and hopefully an Iphone snapshot. Additionally, I had the even greater honor of letting him greedily grab goldfish off my plate after I awkwardly rushed to the snack table immediately following his talk.

First. Just check him out.

lemon_8.8.11don-lemon

Buy his book Transparent here. Read my professor’s blog post about him here. Read an article about his good-looking-ness here.

Lemon is the kind of guy you went to get cocktails with after work and bash Jonah Hill. His quick wit, charming demeanor, and headstrong determination to simply never give up despite being told you don’t have “it” is inspiring and refreshing as I enter a field described to me by many as “dead,” “dying” or “What are you doing?”

The Baton Rouge native’s advice is simple but as lovely as his facial features: Be yourself. Be excellent. Don’t be perfect. That’s not how people are. Appreciate the journey instead of miserably scurrying to the TOP.

“The top is really not that great,” Handsome, baby faced Lemon remarked with a laugh. “Yeah, I get in limos, I get special tables at restaurants, but I don’t care about that…Once you get to the top, everybody’s trying to take you down because they want to be there too.”

Although I find it hard to believe that the limo rides and speedy service don’t put a sparkle in his already twinkling eyes, I do believe that Lemon is 100% on this one.  His advice came at a perfect time for me, a grad student wrapped in the chain links of deadlines with a question mark for a future. Neck deep in the “mental breakdown” phase of my Master’s program, I’ve been feeling not unlike a chicken that was recently beheaded.  All I can think about is getting there, graduating, finding a job, and MAKING IT. Not that I know what “making it” means but it sure has sounded nice…up until now.

Oh Don Lemon, my little CNN buddha in a skinny tie. I should just appreciate the freaking journey! And what is that journey you ask?

The journey is experiencing all the highs and lows with the grad girls that are in this program with me. All the late nights, the laughs, the tears, the jokes, the funny drawings. The journey is the feeling you get when Rick Bragg scrawls an A on your paper after once referring to your writing as “abstract pretentious bullshit.” The journey is singing “I Will Survive” for your kindred spirit of a roommate while she videotapes you on her Iphone. The journey is interviewing someone for a story and seeing their eyes light up as they talk about Tuscaloosa Civil War history or cooking locally grown peaches.

Lemon was asked how he kept his composure while reporting in Connecticut during the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. He replied, “In Newton, I wasn’t a reporter…I was a human being. I cried on camera. I said things I never would have said. I was there experiencing things people watching from their comfortable living rooms or fancy offices could never understand.” It gave me chill bumps and it made me realize that being a journalist means being a human being and telling stories about what makes us that way.

I think I can do that and not being perfect is definitely something I am excellent at. Here’s to the journey (raises large glass of wine)…and looking as handsome as Don Lemon is when I’m 46! No botox he claims. But a fierce love of goldfish.

KT

Resolve To Upstage Meat Loaf this Valentine’s Day

February is a month known for several things. It is Black History Month and a time to celebrate the heroes of the past as we look to the future. It is also National Bird-Feeding Month. So everyone get on that!

Perhaps it is best known for being the month contaning Valentine’s Day. An ooey goeey,: corporate holiday marked by candy, flowers, hearts, and a hell of a lot of pressure. As a 20 something, I think my generation is pretty burnt out on this holiday. Back in elementary school, it was fun to buy themed paper valentines and hand them out to classmates. The holiday meant a class party with cake. Who doesn’t want a class party with CAKE?

Somewhere around high school or college the holiday turned into “Singles Awareness Day.”  Vday lost its celebration of platonic friendship and family love that we were taught in our early years and turned into a very stressful real life musical chairs situation. If you were caught on the day without a boyfriend, you had to muscle it through feeling lonely and pathetic about yourself and ended up inevitably crying and eating an entire box of chocolate truffles by early evening. A depressing, bitter facebook status was also in order.

If you found yourself in a relationship, you stressed over what to get your significant other and what they were going to get you. And what if you haven’t been dating that long, did you still need to celebrate? And what if the whole day was a let down and your relationship crumbled to the ground, Walls of Jericho style? AWKWARD.

I recently decided to reinvent what Valentine’s Day stands for. Romantic comedies have partnered with Hallmark to impose this unspoken role that Valentine’s Day is all about mushy gushy, fairytale romance and singling out the rest of the world to die alone. But Valentine’s Day should just be about spreading love in general. Whether that’s calling your parents to say thanks for doing that whole raising me thing, messaging an old friend to let them know you are thinking about them, or even just putting a smile on your face and appreciating all the good people in your life.

Don’t let Valentine’s Day make you depressed or stress you out. Let it help you appreciate your life and the people in it.

Go out there and spread the love, my friends. You owe it yourself and others.

meat-loaf-love-flirt-marriage-valentines-day-ecards-someecards