For the final project in Journalism III, I was on the web design team. Since I was working with a website/blog, I didn't really have to be too concerned with length or trimming. However, I did come across some problems with photos and artwork. Sometimes photos would be handed in to me and they would be of poor quality. I would have to resort to Photoshop, which is a pain to use. Photoshop is a great tool, but it can be really tricky if you don't know how to properly use it. Also, some stories came without photos or artwork. It was then up to me to try and find an appropriate photo or artwork for the story. Some advice to all future writers: PLEASE have a picture and PLEASE have the picture sourced. This saves a lot of time and pain for you editor. The majority of the stories I was given to edit were done by my peers, so they were pretty much well-written. Only a couple of AP and grammar/style usage edits were needed. 


Out of every journalism class I've taken at Cal U, Journalism III was my favorite. Journalism I was really tough because in addition to first learning about the craft, I had to come up with an article every week. Multimedia Journalism was also frustrating because of all the different technology I had to try and use. Journalism II and Newspaper Reporting I were fun because of all the different kinds of stories I got to write (feature, profile, court, etc.) But Journalism III I liked the most. In Journalism III, I got to really understand what makes a good story and a bad story. When editing, I feel like I'm helping the writer. And by this point I felt like I had finally gotten a decent grasp of AP Style. However, editing is extremely subjective. Sure, there are basic grammar/usage and AP rules, but a lot of it is up in the air. So it comes down to you or your group of fellows editors. Which can lead to much argument and debate. But I sort of like talking and debating about the different stories we were editing. It was a fun challenge. 
 
 
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman spoke last week at California University of Pennsylvania. He read and discussed some of his columns, and then opened the floor for questions. Eventually the discussion ended up at Rocco the police dog. Rocco was a police dog that was stabbed in the line of duty, and later died of his injuries. Norman found it incredulous that the most read stories this year in the Post-Gazette were about the death of this dog. Norman commented that this caused a huge spike in dog and pet stories in the paper. I find the whole situation kind of humorous. Norman is a pretty provocative guy, and their were some huge stories last year such as the Boston bombings, but the most read and talked about articles were about a dog. I think it just shows what Pittsburghers deem close to their hearts. They love their pets, so the story probably hit very close to home. Also it was a police dog. A few years back (2009), the biggest story in town was when 3 Pittsburgh officers were killed in a stand-off in Stanton Heights.  

 
 
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The Associated Press Style is the official writing style used by newspapers and journalists. As a student who grew up with MLA Style and the standard rules of English grammar and style, it can be at times very frustrating to adapt to AP Style.

For instance, I was formerly taught when abbreviating the names of the united states, you use the postal codes (ex: Connecticut = CT). However, the AP Style's rules for state abbreviation is all over the map. AP Style has its own unique abbreviations for the states (ex: Connecticut = Conn.), except for: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah which are never abbreviated. Memorizing which states are not abbreviating, let alone the individual abbreviations is extremely difficult.

I appreciate the AP Stylebook for being extensive and in-depth, yet since the style itself is so specific and unrelentingly unyielding, I find myself glued to book whenever writing or editing a story. Looking up every other word or phrase can make for a bothersome and slow process of publishing.

 
 
PictureJason Robards in All the President's Men
A good editor must first be a good reporter. The editor's primary job is reviewing the reporter's work, so the editor must have experience of being a reporter. A good editor should be a near expert in style. Reporters must look to them for answers and advice. A good editor should review and double-check for local and historical facts, math, and various legal and ethical issues.  A good editor must keep up with the current times and be update with the latest technology. For a good editor should know the  what is fit to publish between print or online. A good editor should know how to optimize the latest technology best to a story's advantage. A good editor must be strict, but fair and be able to make hard decisions. An AP stylebook has only a limited amount of information. A good editor can has a wealth of knowledge and experience.

 
 
PictureJudge Kanalis
BY MAX FREESEMarijuana was a constant theme Nov. 4 at the Magisterial District court in Brownsville.

Five individuals that morning were at court all because of marijuana related charges.

Bronson Waite, from Erie, Pa., was charged with manufacturing and intent to deliver Schedule 1 drugs. Schedule 1 drugs include cocaine and marijuana.

Cory Humphreys was charged with possession of marijuana.

Cody Sowers was charged with possession of marijuana and use of a controlled substance.

Andrew Panzera was also charged with possession of marijuana.

Humphreys, Soweres, and Panzera were all Cal U students. Both of their cases were dismissed because the officer who originally filed the charges, failed to show up.

In regard to marijuana laws, Judge Joshua Kanalis called them a “pain in the ass.” The judge explained these laws only waste the court’s time and are frustrating the Justice Department. 

Monica Fullem, of Fredericktown, was charged with possession and manufacturing, of marijuana. She waived her case to the Washington County Court of Common Pleas.

Fullem, according the deputy who filed the charges, said she was growing marijuana to help with her arthritis.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Caroll was also not fond of the marijuana laws. At one point, Caroll was struggling to find the right words to describe marijuana laws.

“What’s the technical term? Chicken s---t.”

******

If careless, one can easily zoom pass the little trailer that sits alongside Route 40 in Brownsville.

That small trailer actually serves as the courthouse for Washington County’s Magisterial District Courts. The courtroom holds barely 10 seats for the audience and the two tables are mismatched. Boxes and boxes and stacked high and uneven all around. The assistant  district attorney swears under his breath as he tries to find the right paper under the pile sprawled across the table.

It is nothing like any courtroom you have seen on “Law and Order” or “Judge Judy.” The judge constantly is moving from his seat back to his private quarters. In one instance, after he fined a person for stealing from Dollar General, he ran out of the courtroom and said, “By the way, you’re banned from Dollar General.”






 
 
I have learned a lot this year about covering police, city council and school board meetings, courts, and reporting in general. In covering the police beat, I found that the best way to get started on a story or idea is to go through the public safety log at the police station. In those logs you can possibly find the beginnings of a great story. Going through records, I learned, is also incredibly useful when covering meetings. At the meeting it might be hard to follow along, so having a copy of the minutes with you can help understand what's going on and double-check facts and numbers. Like with meetings, courts can also be potentially confusing to follow along. A good understanding of the local law and legal terms can help greatly when writing a court story. Overall, I learned about reporting that while you don't have to be an expert on the subject your covering, having a basic understanding is essential. And that's what I would recommend to future reporting students: if you don't know what's going on, found out. And either found out by asking or investigating.
 
 
I, for one, greatly appreciate the concept of the Associated Press Style. Journalism is an international platform that crosses many different cultures and styles. With so many different kinds of writers and newspapers, there needs to be a standard. Overall, AP Style tries to emulate the basic tenants of journalism. When you write a news article, your style has to be simple and easy to understand. This is an overall theme of AP Style. Complicated words and phrases and situations have all been settled thanks to AP Style. However, AP Style is not without it's flaws. A lot of the capitalization, abbreviation, and punctuation rules  are complex and filled to the brim with exceptions. Almost every word or phrase has it's unique rule to AP Style, so trying to remember a blanket rule for the style is nearly impossible. This leads to constantly referring to the style book, which can get tiresome. But I'm fine with checking back and forth between book, as long as it means a standard style for writing journalism.  
 
 
PictureJudge Joshua Kanalis
Last week I sat in on the Washington County Court of Common Pleas. It was the first time I had ever been an audience member in a court. The experience was nothing what I expected. It was nothing like Judge Judy, Law and Order, or any popular/common image of a courtroom. How the judge, Joshua Kanalis, the district attorney, and lawyers carried out their businesses was very informal. The D.A. had his papers scattered all over the desks and the judge was constantly going back and forth from his desk to his private quarters. While from what I thought, most judges were strict and uncaring. However, Judge Kanalis was very reasonable and human when it came to dealing with the criminals that came before him. The judge and D.A. seemed to focus on helping out those who came to court and trying to find the best deal for them, rather than just coldly hashing out a sentence. Overall it was an insight experience that broke all of my preconceived notions of how a courtroom operated.

 
 
I believe a blog in journalism is the best way a writer, editor, publisher, ect. can connect with their audience. Imagine thirty years ago, when the only feedback news organization recieved feedback was from letters. And letters needed postage, which costs money. Also, letters took at least a day to reach their destination. Now, with blog that has a comment feature, reader feedback can be virtually instantaneous. Feedback is essential to writing because it helps the writer understand their audience. And with a better understanding of their audience, the writer can expand greatly in talent and experience. A blog is necessary to anyone journalist.
 
 
Here is the soundslide I made with Julian Sepesky.
 

    About the author

    Hello, my name is Max Freese. I'm an English major attending California University of Pennsylvania. On this blog, you will find different multimedia projects I've worked on. In my free time, I liked to read and watch movies.

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