Miller Charmaine

Charmaine's adventures in news writing and editing

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African-American songs

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Reading Rainbow

History of Jazz

Slaves were free– now what? African-Americans started to be noticed by whites for their artistic talents!

Harlem Renaissance

There was a burst of creative output flowing from African-Americans in Harlem, New York in the 1920s and 1930s.  Swing and Jazz!

But more than one type of music was being played at this time. Blues, which became popular in the 1950s, traces its roots back to slave plantations in the Deep South. It was a mixture of different types of music.

The Blues came from all of these genres: Gospel (mostly church songs from African American congregations), Jazz, Country (Guitars, banjos, fiddles and harmonicas) and Work Songs (songs people sang as they worked in the fields). Singing made the time go by quicker. It made them feel better. Bits and pieces of this music formed the Blues!

Robert Johnson

Bo Diddley, who was inspired by many Blues artists, helped connect the Blues to the  Rock ‘n’ Roll of the 1950s and 1960s. He is known for his famous Bo Diddley beat. 1 2 3 45. He lived in Archer, Fla. the last 13 years of his life and often played in the plaza now known as Bo Diddley Plaza to raise awareness of the homeless.

At this time, rock ‘n’ roll was being introduced and was seen as edgy and wild, listened to and enjoyed mostly by teenagers.

Here is Fats Domino in “Ain’t That a Shame”

But there was a kind of music everyone was seeming to enjoy in the 1950s: pop music in the form of Motown.

Motown was a record company that made many African-American artists famous. Their catchy tunes seemed to bridge the gap between white and black music as whites also tried their hand in this genre.

Motown + Rock ‘n’ Roll= Whites and Blacks coming together musically! This was all happening during the Civil Rights movement.

I got to meet a member of this group: Andy and the Marglows.

His name is Terry Huff. Here he was in 2012 when I interviewed him in Washington, D.C.

dc5 005

Written by charmainemiller

March 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm

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Diary Week 14

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Things are winding down. I sat in on the story idea meeting. Stories coming in from online reporting students were scarce because they were all finalizing their enterprise stories. I’m excited to see those.

Editing In the News, I just came across something that didn’t seem right:

Before: Police Chief Steve Holley says the camera has allowed officers to see a drug deal in progress, get to an intoxicated driver before he drove away, and witness a car crash.

After: High Springs Police Chief Steve Holley said the camera had allowed officers to witness, among other things, a drug deal and a car crash.

I changed says to said. And even though I knew what the writer meant at first, the sentence just didn’t seem parallel in all of the things it involved. I also added High Springs, because even though the dateline was in High Springs, I know it’s a small town and it could be likely that a police officer from another area could have been involved. I just felt safer including it.

Then I added the bullet points to Morning News in 90.

I also worked on an MMC2100 student’s story submission. It was good, but it was lacking timeliness. I tried to work with the writer to get this, but through slowness on the writer’s part to get back to me and my miscommunication with the editor coming in after me, the story kind of just got lost. By the time I received the information I needed, Christina and I determined the story irrelevant in the time aspect. It was frustrating, because I usually work hard with students to shape up their stories.

Written by charmainemiller

April 21, 2013 at 4:54 pm

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Final Essay

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Likes: I loved working across platforms. I loved accidently sitting at the super desk on my first day, being alerted by a radio student on a top story and cranking out a WUFT clip that same shift. I really enjoy sitting in on the story idea meetings with TV students. I watch as they interact and laugh, wondering what their four years in the college have been like. And of course, Web editors do interact with them too. We may not see eye to eye regarding what is newsworthy (“anecdotes do not a trend make” played like a broken record in my head all semester) or which sources are the best to get at, but it is fun to discuss news. It reminds me that being a part of presenting the news is being part of something big.

I liked the people I worked with. Many of them had refreshing personalities and were easy-going. I guess it helped that my job was one of the top tiers for the Web team. I never felt like I had to boss people around.

Dislikes: On that note, the way I interpreted the roles was a bit ambiguous. Until a few weeks in, when Grier mentioned it in class, I didn’t really consider my position as Web editor over the other Web positions, which helped keep me grounded and, I hope, humble. As I got more comfortable in the newsroom and talked with other Web editors, I assumed more of a leader-type role. Because I am such an introvert, this didn’t look like anything drastic. I suggested story ideas to people. I edited their work and would let them know if I cut anything out. They started coming to me with story ideas and AP Style questions. I believe now I have struck a good balance, but I think I would have been more productive knowing earlier that I had at least a little influence over the stories and ideas coming in.

Another problem I ran into was the shortage of communication and quick turnover of editors. This can be expected, of course, in this trial semester. But I am still a little bummed an MMC2100 student’s story did not get published because of a lack of communication between me the Web editor after me. We agreed to hold the story until we got a more timely aspect to it. We might have had that in time if we didn’t wait around to request information from UPD. That was my fault.

What it felt like to be a newsroom editor:

As you already know, I really grew into my role of Web editor. I liked that we were the ones that responded to Reporting and MMC2100 student submissions. We were the ones to decide if these stories were timely, newsworthy, and a good fit for our audience. I even liked to read through some of the replies to students from my fellow Web editors. Usually, the replies from the Web editors were explaining why we couldn’t publish their story. I was proud of such a kind and professional-sounding group. I think we remember that time, not too long ago, when we ourselves were Reporting students.

And when a story did have potential, I loved adopting it. These stories often missed a crucial piece of information, or the lede was buried significantly, or a fact needed to be verified. I took it upon myself to work with the writer in getting these, to give the story a chance. I fought for the publishing of these stories. And usually, the writers were excited to help. Those were the best moments of the gig— feeling like those editors who fight for their writers.

What I still need to master: I’d like for my heart rate not to go up when I open up a lengthy legislative or crime piece. I have gotten better at not being so overwhelmed by the task of editing these pieces, but I need more confidence. I want to understand the laws being discussed. I want to make sure the most relevant wording can be used without convicting a person, or getting us in legal trouble. Practice is really what I think will get me to these goals, because I’ve already experienced some increased confidence with these stories as the weeks have gone by. I’ve noticed that with these stories, fact-checking is not as easy as quickly reading off the first page that comes up in a Google search. I try to carefully look at three or four sources on what a law or term means before deciding what to do.

I also noticed that with all stories, I cannot simply go line by line. In a way, yes, I am going line by line to fact-check and look for grammar/AP Style/spelling errors. But at the same time, I need to get better at keeping the meaning of the story in mind while checking. I’ve noticed that both in the INF and the Alligator, I can get lazy or rushed and systematically go through each line while forgetting the lines before it. Before I know it, I’m at the end of the story, and I don’t know what the story is about. Editing, I’ve discovered, is not only about the mechanics. I also need to keep the meaning in mind. Is this story newsworthy? If so, what is the most newsworthy thing about it? Just asking this question can lead to uncovering buried ledes. And if I don’t understand the story after reading it through, most likely there are readers who won’t understand as well. I can call the writer at that point, to clarify.

On dealing with people: I thought just because I wasn’t reporting this semester I wouldn’t be dealing with people. Wrong. I have realized there are things that combine people and editing that bug me. I don’t like when I’m editing and a writer sidles up next to me and challenges me on the changes I make. I don’t like when writers get defensive over reconstructed sentences. If those are changes I feel are necessary, I need to stand firmly on my decision, accompanied by an attitude of grace. I should remember how I feel when editors change my carefully constructed words around on an article. I should remember the skepticism I have of the changes editors make because that piece is mine, and I’m proud of it. I have discovered I need to be gently firm, describing my reasoning and keeping in mind how I feel when my pieces are edited.

This class and everything in between: Throughout the semester, I frequently called this class my “half job” because even if I’m in one day a week and don’t get paid, I feel a loyalty toward my newsroom and work hard to express that. The story pitch requirement kept me on my toes and gave me an insatiable hunger for news. I didn’t want to look completely stupid in front of the TV people. This drove me to consume news so naturally, I would open my laptop and my fingers would already be guiding me to my favorite news sites. It really was just a great way to get me energetically exploring the news. I used to think knowing as much news as possible about an area like Gainesville would cause me to run dry on ideas. But it helps to know exactly what is going on. Some story ideas build off of others. Or by knowing all the news reported, you can actively think about what news is slipping through the cracks unreported. I think this is the most valuable type of news anyway.

My only regret in this system is that students like myself are more motivated to give a story idea to WUFT than the Alligator. I will admit, I was a bit torn over one of my ideas I pitched to WUFT instead of the Alligator in the name of good grades. I hope both outlets will continue to thrive, and I believe they will, because of the different audiences they serve and unique offerings of each.

What it takes: I suppose I will form my answer to what it takes to be a good editor through my experience with good editors and things that have worked for myself in the role. A disciplined humility. An insane knowledge of news. An empathy for and personal investment in the coverage area. A forgiving spirit. A dedication to verification and conciseness. A love for good storytelling. A solidarity with writers. Over all, a dedication to the truth.

Written by charmainemiller

April 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm

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Diary Week 13

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It was a typical Monday morning. I went into the newsroom, had a chat with the online reporter about her story, searched the Web for a story idea of my own and went to the story pitch meeting with TV at 9:30.

I then edited a story by online reporter Stefanie Cainto. The story was on a Florida Senate ban on texting while driving. It was overall very clean, and I only made a few edits. In one sentence, “Results of the poll, led by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service in and the UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research…” I deleted the word “in.” I also included a brief definition of nonmoving violation, for those like me who didn’t know.

I also edited the In the News. I ran into some difficulty with a brief about a married couple. The original sentence is this: “Hakken and his wife lost custody of their two boys after his drug-possession arrest in Louisiana.” I changed it to this: “Hakken and his wife lost custody of their two boys after Joshua Hakken’s drug-possession arrest in Louisiana.” It’s more awkward, but I thought the distinction had to be made.

I also edited a story that came into our Gmail account from an MMC2100 student. I thought because of the time element (it was an advance for an event on April 20) it was not publishable immediately, but I went ahead and gave it an edit, making a note in our WordPress to hold it until we got closer to the date of the event. There were a few things I changed:

“The entry fee is based on a sliding donation scale from $10-20 and kids 12 and younger can participate for free.” I was wondering, is the money amount supposed to be from $10-$20? That is what I changed it to in order to be safe. I also changed “kids” to children.

A few befores and afters:
1. The festival will incorporate local businesses and the community in a celebration of the season. There will be local bands performing live, food from local food trucks, activities for kids such as face painting and garden planting, farm tours, and many other family-friendly events.
2. The festival will feature community businesses in a celebration of the season. Local bands will perform live music, and food will be provided by area food trucks. There will also be other family activities like farm tours, face painting and garden planting.

1. Some locally led workshops include demonstrations about composting led by Gainesville Compost and a beer-brewing workshop hosted by Tall Paul’s Brew House. There will also be several other country-living workshops such as homesteading, weaving, pottery and more. (Note: “and more” sounds like an ad or PR-speak to me)

2. Some locally led workshops include demonstrations on composting by representatives from Gainesville Compost and a beer-brewing workshop hosted by Tall Paul’s Brew House. Other country-living workshops will be offered on skills like homesteading, weaving and pottery.

1. Swallowtail Farm incorporates the community into the farming process in many ways, from providing food to local restaurants to offering events like the Spring Festival. (Still sounds like PR-speak. They do all of this amazing stuff!)

2. Swallowtail Farm aims to incorporate the community into the farming process by providing food to local restaurants and hosting events like the Spring Festival, among other initiatives.

1. Through having very open relationships with the community, Swallowtail Farm hopes to teach people about the value and importance of locally grown food. While locally grown food is more expensive than industrially produced food, the benefits outweigh the price. One aspect about locally grown food that Shitama finds important is the health benefit.

2. Through having very open relationships with the community, Swallowtail Farm hopes to teach people about the value and importance of locally grown food. One aspect about locally grown food that Shitama finds important is the health benefit.

I also deleted a quote that I thought didn’t contribute in a meaningful way. It was right before or after the line saying that the event would hold country-living workshops.

“We wanted to do country-living and -skills workshops,” said Emily Eckhardt, one of the farmers at Swallowtail.

I also edited Web producer Dana Edwards’ story on Bradford County’s classes offered for teen parents. I checked all of the statistics carefully. Everything checked out except the AP Style for day care. Two words.

 

 

Written by charmainemiller

April 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm

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Diary Week 12

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Slow news day. Unfortunately, there is not much to report here.

I made the bullet points and excerpt for the Morning News in 90.  I talked with the online reporter, Samantha, about story ideas. She wanted to do a story on Florida legislation being decided on “growlers,” which are 64-ounce beer containers. It was a good idea, but she couldn’t get in contact with anyone during her early morning shift. I opened the email account for freelance submissions, and lo and behold, there was a submission on the same story. The writer had contacted a legislator and several Gainesville brewery owners. I thought it was a good story. I regretted having to contact the online reporter, though, to explain the situation. She was a good sport about getting scooped.

I then edited In the News. Here are some excerpts:

Dove World Outreach Center is selling its property in Gainesville for relocation to Tampa. Pastor Terry Jones and 15 members of the congregation will move to Tampa as well. Jones claims the center needs to downsize and the ideas of the congregation do not complement those of the city. The Independent Florida Alligator

Dove World Outreach Center is selling its property in Gainesville for relocation to Tampa. Pastor Terry Jones and 15 members of the congregation will move to Tampa as well. Jones said the center needs to downsize and the ideas of the congregation do not complement those of the city. The Independent Florida Alligator I changed this to “said” instead of “claims” because claims seems to imply suspicion or editorializing.

Adopting the referendum would allow the residents to vote for City Commissioners who oversee the utilities of the precinct, while not adopting the referendum would allow residents to continue to not be affected by City Commission decisions.

Adopting the referendum would allow the residents to vote for city commissioners who oversee the utilities of the precinct, while not adopting the referendum would allow residents to continue to not be affected by City Commission decisions. I thought city commissioners was a general title, therefore lowercased. 

Authorities monitor several brushfires as reports of fires rage west of Orlando in the Kissimmee area and east of Oviedo. Rain is forecasted this week, though thunderstorms and lightning could cause spark fires. Orlando Sentinel

Authorities monitor several brushfires in Central Florida, including fires raging west of Orlando in the Kissimmee area and east of Oviedo. Rain is forecasted this week, though thunderstorms and lightning could cause spark fires. Orlando Sentinel The first version makes it sound like the reports were raging west, as opposed to the fires. 

I also edited a story on the mayoral runoff election. All I found was a use of “their” in reference to an alliance. I changed the pronoun to its.

I also suggested a story to the Web producer, Dana. We have fallen into a practice of doing “little-known facts” pieces on random holidays. But for this April Fools’ Day, I wanted to do something more original. I asked Dana to use Storify to round up social media tidbits about the day. Some of them were pretty funny. I was impressed with the result.

Written by charmainemiller

April 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm

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Diary Week 11

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I didn’t save any “befores” of my edits to show the results of my work, but next week I am hoping to remember, per your latest request, Dr. Rodgers. I do have notes on my changes, though.

I checked the Gmail account for Reporting student submissions. I replied to one of the submissions in the most polite way I could think of, but I basically did not accept the story for publishing. It seemed very PR-y and had no real news element, which I explained to the student to help her learn. I remember writing pieces like that.

Then Christina and I chatted with some online reporting students, brainstorming story ideas. We wanted to do a cool little story or at the very least, a listing, of the religious holidays occurring this week. One of the online reporting students set off to call pastors and rabbis to comment on Passover and Holy Week.

After the story idea meeting, I read over Web producer Dana’s In the News. I really could not find anything to change. She did a great job.

Dana also gave me an update to a storm story that was written over the weekend. While looking over the update, I found some other changes to make. First, I downstyled the hed. I edited a typo in a photo caption, and in another I added a photo courtesy source. I replaced a normal dash with an em dash, used to separate ideas. I eliminated a serial comma. I made the excerpt. I also changed the much-used wording “causing damage” to “damaging.” I then changed “home-made barn” to AP’s “homemade,” and then decided on a better word: handbuilt barn. My thinking was that it’s a barn, not a pie.

Dana also wrote the bullet points for the Morning News in 90. I just changed “…expected to drop another three-to-five cents” to “…expected to drop another three to five cents.” I grappled over it, but eventually made that decision because the hyphens were connecting something that wasn’t really connected as one word. Those were my thoughts on that. If it’s wrong, punish me and not Dana.

For my last project of the day, I received a story submission written by a MMC2100 student. I can’t blame the writer for this, but I thought the story was a bit too UF-centric. The sources used were a representative from the UF Student Health Care Clinic and two UF students. Also, there was no sense of a time element or anything especially newsworthy. I knew the story was about the impacts of (tree) allergy season, but I wanted to know why we should publish this now, and why our audience would care now. So I took these suggestions to the writer, emailing her to get another source that was outside UF and more of a time frame or number of allergy sufferers compared to seasons and years past in Gainesville. The writer was very dutiful, taking all of my pointers with grace. For that, I am very appreciative. She emailed me today, three days from my original shift, with the new information. I added the quotes in the best I could and changed the story’s status to Second Edit. I was so happy we waited to get a better stor, rather than nuking it entirely.

Other, more technical changes I made: I switched around an anecdotal lede to further down in the story. It just wasn’t getting to the heart of the news until the last few grafs. I didn’t want it to give the impression that we were basing a trend off of an anecdote. I changed a few “says” to said. I deleted phrases that sniffed of editorializing, things like “even” such and such, “always” and “something really simple.” I also deleted a graf that seemed like a PR piece for Zyrtec. It was a good day.

 

Written by charmainemiller

March 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm

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Story Pitch 10

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The status of last week’s tax story is that it didn’t get completed. I assigned it to an online reporter, but she couldn’t get in touch with very many sources and kept getting routed to corporate numbers. Not what we wanted, but she tried very hard. UPDATE 4/19: I forgot to add this, but the story did get completed and published! The reporter simply waited to get in touch with solid sources before jumping the gun. Also, one of the sources shares my name, so that is pretty cool. Well done, Ashira, and just in time for tax day.

For this week, I thought it was newsworthy that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers wrapped up its 200-mile march on Sunday. My shift was Monday, making the story timely. Protesters walked from Immokalee to Publix headquarters in Lakeland, where they urged Publix to join the coalition is treating farmworkers fairly, according to an article by the Naples Daily News.  The only thing that was off was the proximity issue, which is the reason we decided to lay the story to rest. But we did include it in Monday’s In the News.

The march took protesters two weeks long. It included over a hundred farmworkers and their families, along with hundreds of members of the public. The walk was an effort of the Fair Food Program, which has been a four-year initiative to get major grocery chains on board with farmworker rights and fair wages.

Sources:

Richard MacMaster, rmacmast (at) ufl.edu, 352.371.6772

MacMaster is the Gainesville contact for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. He is also part of Gainesville’s Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, which has been a group involved with various protests for farmworker rights at Publix and Wendy’s.

Sheila  Payne 831.334.0117, Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice

Questions: What does this protest mean for Gainesville? What kind of progress was made for the Fair Food Program? Are there any programs/events for the coalition that are happening in Gainesville soon? What are some of the requests of farmworkers in the coalition? Are there any farmworkers in Gainesville? How do private-owned groceries like Ward’s stand up to the coalition’s standards of fair treatment?

Written by charmainemiller

March 24, 2013 at 12:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized