Friday, November 9, 2012

Final Blog Post

Since this is the final blog post for this class, I've decided to talk about my future. I only have one semester left here are University of the Sciences, after which I will have earned my BS in Bioinformatics with a minor in psychology. My career goal is to work in the public health department as a genetic counselor.

Pursuing a career in genetic counseling is the ultimate goal after graduation. I am currently applying to many graduate programs across the country in hopes of getting accepted to at least one of them. My fall back plan, if I end up not getting accepted to any genetic counseling graduate programs, is to continue my education in human genetics and epidemiology.

My biggest fear when thinking about the future is that I will go through all this schooling and get these degrees and not be able to get a job. While I have had significant financial aid through the government and the University, I still have a large amount of debt that I will need to start paying off after I complete all of my degree programs. I am extremely afraid that I am not going to find a job in my field, which will leave me unable to pay off my debt.

While this is a reasonable fear (to me at least) I believe that I have good employable qualities that will help me get my dream job. The field of genetic counseling is also growing at decent rate, which means as times goes on and new technology is produced this career will be more in-demand. The only thing that holds the field of genetics back is the lack of cost-effective technology. I'm sure this will come with time though!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Lesson In Ethics

The assignment for this post is to answer three questions, given by Professor Flanagan, about ethics. My answers to the questions will be in blue, the questions in black.

1. Is it ethical for a reporter to write a news piece on the same topic on which he or she has written an opinion piece in the same paper?
It is not ethical for a reporter to write a news story in this case. The job of a journalist is to report the news without bias. Writing an opinion column will contain bias and whether or not the reporter intended to include his or her opinion, there is a higher chance that it will happen due to the opinion column.

2. Freelance journalists and photographers accept cash to write about, or take photos of, events with the promise of attempting to get their work on the AP or other news outlets, from which they also will be paid. Is that ethical?
I don't think that it's ethical to accept cash from the person the story is being written about or what is being photographed unless it is stated and explained somewhere, if the reporter/photographer is also being paid by the company which will be publishing it. If he or she is doing it specifically for the company/person and will not be getting paid from another outside source, then it is ethical (again, as long is payment was noted somewhere).

3. Can a journalist reveal a source of information after guaranteeing confidentiality if the source proves to be unreliable?
No, I don't think they should out a source after guaranteeing confidentiality. For all they know, the source believed what they were saying to be true. The reporter should use that as a lesson to do further investigating onto the topic and should take full responsibility of the incorrect information.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Query Letter Draft

Jennifer Macfarlan
My Address Here
Philadelphia, PA12345

Name of Editor
Town, State Zip

November 1, 2012

Dear Mr. Paper Editor,

Your readers have spend a lot of time in the dark the past few days. Without the luxury of electronics, many have had to get creative with ways to entertain themselves and communicate with others.

According to the power companies, around 8 million people were left without electricity after Hurricane Sandy. Many were told once they lost power it could be out for as long as two weeks. With a society that has a large dependency on electronic devices, families had to come up with new ways of spending their time.

In "Article Title Goes Here" I will interview some families to investigate what new and creative ways they have of keeping everybody entertained during their days in the dark. I will also include topics such as:
  • How they communicated with distant friends and family without the use of cell phones.
  • How they dealt without daily necessities such as heat, water, and cooking devices.
  • What they learned about preparing for future power outages and any tips they have for others.
Your readers could benefit from hearing what other people did during the time the electricity was out to help them prepare; "Article Title Here" won't disappoint them. May I write this article for you?

Thanks for taking the time to consider my idea. I look forward to hearing from you.


Jennifer Macfarlan

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Statistics and Analogies

During class we were asked to find the answers to these questions:
  • How many people watched the 2nd presidential debate?
  • What is the US population?
  • How many people watched the 1st presidential debate?
  • How many viewers watch Dancing with the Stars?
  • How many viewers watch the Super Bowl?
To answer the first question, about 65.6 million people watched the 2nd presidential debate. The United State population, as reported by the public data section on, was 311.5919 in July 2011. About 67.2 million people watched the 1st presidential debate. Dancing with the Stars won the most-watched TV show in it's hour and had about 12.92 million viewers for it's last show. The last Super Bowl, February 5th 2012, had around 111.3 million viewers. As the game went on, it rose to 111.7 million viewers.

 Now here are some analogies:
Close to twice as many people watched last years Super Bowl than the 2nd presidential debate.
20% of Americans watched the 2nd presidential debate.
1 in 5 Americans watched the 2nd presidential debate.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Crime on College Campuses

This exercise is meant to teach us that numbers are our friends. The topic is crime on college campuses, which is available on each college or university's website. I looked up the crime rate at Moravian College and found that There was a total of 240 Part I and Part II crimes on their campus. They have about 1,700 students. There was also 43 liquor violations, and 8 drug violations.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How Reports Gather Information

This is a team blog, done with a partner. The topic is school shootings and we were asked to research articles and find how a writer gathers and verifies information, how the writer handles quotes and attributions, and how the writer obtains background information.

The first article was from the Huffington Post titled "Oklahoma School Shooting: 1 Dead in Suicide at Stillwater Junior High School." The writer interviewed many people, mostly students, but also included the police captain and parents. There was also information from the superintendent. Much of the background information on what happened was from the child's friends and witnesses of what happened. Quotes were mainly used from the students. There was also a decent amount of background information from the police, explaining why this may have happened and how the weapon came to be in the hands of an eighth grader.

The second article we looked at was from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The writer interviewed many first hand witnesses and obtained much of his background information from medical records and police statements.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Profile Article

This post is an extension of the previous one. Writing an article on a deadline is tough, but doable. The profile piece was a little harder than the first one when writing it on a deadline. Choosing a person to write a profile on was one of the hardest parts because, while there are many interesting people out there, it's hard to make what they do news and relavent to other people. The other challenging aspect of this piece was finding people to interview. It needed to be someone that knew the person but was also tied in with what I am writing about. Doing those two things along with getting the interviews and writing the actual piece is what made the profile article much more challenging to write on a deadline than the first article.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writing on a Deadline

Writing on a deadline is nothing especially new to me. I've always had to write papers for this class or hand in a letter to this person. You could also consider taking the GREs analytical writing section writing on a deadline.

Unlike all of those above examples I have never been given a topic and told to write about whatever is news in that field and have it be sent in by the end of a class period, along with using two interviews to help support my content (which is the next article due in class). While at first I thought it was going to be like the GREs I soon realized that while that is both on a previously unknown topic and timed, it did not require (or even allow) an outside interview on the topic. This seems as though it's going to be about mastering time management more than anything.

Interviewing is also one of my weaknesses. I've noticed when writing the first two articles that I've needed to give myself plenty of time to come up with good questions and I am quite terrible at coming up with questions on the spot. That is going to be one of my biggest challenges with this in class article. As long as I manage my time wisely I should be able to come up with what is relevant about my topic, come up with useful questions to ask my interviewees, and write a well-structured and useful article. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Using Analogies

I haven't had to write an analogy in a very long time, so here goes my best attempt at one!

This weeks exercise is to write an analogy explaining the following numbers:
"The student council's budget is $350,000. The university has 19,000 students. The local city budget is $3 million. The city has 70,000 residents." This is from my textbook, News Reporting and Writing.

The student council's budget is to $350,000 as my loan amount is to $100,000.
The university's population is to minimal as a state school's population is to maximal.
The local city budget is to $3 million as TLC is to Discovery Channel.
The city is to 70,000 residents as a box of pencils is to 20.

I think I got the hang of it more towards the end, but those are what I came up with! It was a lot harder than I originally thought it was going to be.

Why Do I Want to Be a Genetic Counselor?

Ever since I started really thinking about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life I knew it was genetic counseling. Something hit home in my mind when one of my mother's friends lost a baby due to a genetic disease. I knew I wanted to help families get through that, help find options for them. So when I started my first year of undergraduate studies at University of the Sciences that was my dream job. Now, three years later and about to apply to graduate school, I know I've made the right choice for my future. I've always wanted to do something where I was working with people but I also loved science. When this option came to my attention I just knew it was for me. I get to help people deal with some of the most important parts of their lives and I also get to do it in a field that I am very passionate about. I just hope that I get accepted into a genetic counseling program at graduate school!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Profile Articles

The next article due for class is a profile piece. The assignment for this blog entry is to locate three profile articles and decide what techniques each writer uses to write a great profile article.

The first article I found was from the NPR website and its title is Poverty Informs JK Rowling's New Novel For Adults. This piece is mainly about her new book and how it's very different from the Harry Potter series, but it also talks a lot about the author, how she came up with the book idea, and her thoughts and feelings towards it. The author of this article focused his or her's questions around Rowling's life, mostly where she came from (poverty). He or she then found a way to get Rowling to relate what she went through in her past with the characters in the book. The only person interviewed was Rowling herself, but the article was mainly about how the book is a reflection of Rowling's life in poverty.

The web address for this article is:

The second article I found was Once Denied A Purple Heart, A Soldier Gets Her Medal. This author interviewed both the subject of the article and one of her fellow officers. Since the article is about how she is finally getting her purple heart for a concussion received years ago, the setting is the place where she was receiving the medal. The author also included information from the subjects fellow officer about how any other military person can go about getting his or her purple heart if they have been denied one before. While the article was about a soldier getting her purple heart, it's also informative for other soldiers.

The web address for this article is:

The third article I found was Mindy Kaling Loves Rom Com (and Being The Boss). This article is all about the actresses new TV series, which she writes, stars in, and produces. The authors technique is to only interview the subject, basing all opinions and facts straight from the source. Information about the show and what it is based off of comes from questions asked about the subjects past.

The web address for this article is:

Two out of the three authors only interviewed the subject they were writing out. This makes sense since the profile is centered around something the subjects have created. It seems like techniques can vary from author to author and subject to subject, but having a clear focus is always necessary.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Writing a Lead

My assignment for this post is to write a lead using the following information:

Who: A nuclear weapon with a yield equivalent to 150,000 tons of TNT
What: Detonated
Where: 40 miles from a meeting of pacifists and 2,000 fet beneath the surface of Pahute Mesa in the Nevada desert
When: Tuesday
Why: To test the weapon
How: Not applicable

So here is my best try: Nuclear Weapon Detonated Tuesday Beneath Pahute Mesa

Review of Article #1

My topic for the first article for this class was products that help students quit smoking. What I am most proud of after writing this is helping the one girl I interviewed realize how long she has been smoking. She didn't realize just how long she had been smoking for until she had to put a number in front of it. I think this happens to a lot of people who smoke because after a while it become part of his or her's daily life. We don't think, "how many years have I been reading for now" or anything like that. I'm happy that I was able to help her realize how long she has been hurting her body for.

The most challenging part of writing this article was following the pyramid. I was always taught to build up to the important information, but this style has it listed first with supporting information after. It was hard to reverse this thought process.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sources in the News

Since there have not been any accidents in my neck of the woods that requires extensive news coverage (thank goodness), I've decided to list the sources from an article on a police search for a vehicle that tried to abduct a young boy. The source listed by the writer was the Buckingham police. If I were writing this article I would have tried to interview the parents of the boy along with others living in the neighborhood.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Lesson on Gathering Information

I was presented with six questions and told to find the information being asked about. Presented here is my best shot at answering them all:
1. The census of Rhode Island in 2000: 1,048,319 people.
2. The size of Rwanda in land area: 10,169 square miles.
3. The latest grand awards by the U.S. Department of Education: The obligated amount for Pennsylvania is $18,593214.
4. The names of universities in Norway that provide outside access via the internet: Oslo University College, Bergen University, University of Tromsø, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, University of Stavanger, and University of Adger.
5. The name of a website that contains the complete works of Shakespeare: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
6. The name of a website that contains federal campaign contribution data: Federal Election Commission

Thursday, September 13, 2012

If I Were to Interview Dr. Helen Giles-Gee

Dr. Helen Giles-Gee is the new President of University of the Sciences. If I were to interview her I would ask her something like this:
1. Are you excited to return to Philadelphia as the president of a school you once took classes at?
2. Which classes did you take at USciences?
3. After being here for a couple of months, is the city how to remember it?
4. How does it feel to not only be the first African-American president of the University, but also the first female president?
5. Why did you decided to leave Keene State and come to USciences?
6. What are your plans for the University?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Interview with Irina Galchak

Irina Galchak is a fellow student of mine in my Intro to Journalism course. She was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States when she was 4 years old. Currently Galchak resides in Bensalem, PA, which has been her hometown since she arrived. Galchak has one older sister. Her major at University of the Sciences is biology and when asked why she decided USP Galchak responded, "partly because location and I like the smallness of school and how it's one little community of students." Her plans for after graduation include graduate school, either for cell biology, molecular biology, or to become a registered nutritionist. To help aid her in the decision Galchak would like to receive more exposure to each of the above-mentioned fields.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What if I Started a News Blog?

It would have to be about the latest and greatest movies. Enlightening readers of all ages, I would inform the public of movies coming out on the big screen along with those that are being released to DVD and Blu Ray. Video clips would not be included unless they are necessary to describe a film, but pictures will always be included. This site would purely describe movies without my or anyone else's personal opinions. The flow of the blog should have movies going into theaters first, then those that are being released for personal purchase. Does this sound like a news blog you would visit?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Census Information for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Do you remember filling out census forms? Although I've always participated, I never looked at any of the information released. Here's a look at some interesting facts:

Population of Pennsylvania: 12,742,886 people
Population of Philadelphia, PA: 1,536,471 people
Range of income levels and percentages of population that fall within income levels in Philadelphia: the closest I could find to this was the median income of Pennsylvania, which is estimated at $49,288
Demographic breakdown of Philadelphia by race:
     White - 696,866
     African American - 682,166
     American Indian and Alaskan Native - 12,127
     Asian - 99,418
     Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander - 1,999
     Two or more races - 33430

All information in this post was obtained from the United States Census Bureau at

Thursday, August 30, 2012

News of the 2012 Summer Olympics

For some Americans the Olympics have always been important news. For the 2012 summer Olympics many watched news broadcasts of the opening ceremonies straight through to the closing ceremonies. Information about which athlete won what and what country held the most metals could be found circulating many social networks. For me, social networks was the only way I ever heard news about the Olympics. I hadn't even heard of the controversies surrounding the timing of broadcasts until this morning (which are highlighted in this article). Maybe I should start paying more attention to the world around me?

Blog #2

This is my new blog, which may or may not be anything like my other one. Hopefully this one will go just as well!