By Caitlin Cavanaugh

Route 312 is China’s Route 66. The road, which is roughly 3,000 miles long and cuts China in half from Shanghai to the border of Kazakhstan, has many life lessons to learn along the way.

Rob Gifford shared his insights about China with a large crowd at Elon University Tuesday night. Gifford who lived in China from 1999 to 2005, worked as a National Public Radio correspondent in Beijing. During his time there, he traveled Route 312 and took time speaking to the locals that lived along the road. Gifford learned valuable lessons while traveling about the difference in cultures in China.

“Is it going to be greatness or implosion for China?” Gifford asked the students, faculty and community sitting in Alumni Gym. The students remained silent as he told the story of a man he met during his journey who was shaking with excitement about his job, yet only a few miles down the road he met another man who was merely enduring the harsh conditions of his life in a small town.

Gifford said the major fault line in China’s culture is the tension between hope and despair. The separation falls between the people who live in the booming cities and those who live in the country.

According to Gifford, the rise of consumerism in China is a salvation of the American economy. He said many things have changed in the five years since he originally lived in China because “five years

in Chinese terms is ancient history.” In recent years urban China has started trending toward being quite similar to urban America. A specific example he cited was the number of people who ate Subway sandwiches before he left and the number who lined up for them when he returned. The recession has caused the U.S. to decrease its consumption of goods, while China’s consumption is increasing.

The middle classes in the big cities of China are on the verge of taking over the world, but Gifford said the other part of the country sees things quite differently.

The dichotomy of the two cultures is growing wider as time goes on. Peasants who live in the country weren’t able to afford anything so the country began pouring money into the countryside, Gifford said, explaining that this keeps the peasants from getting angry enough to launch violent protests. The fault line is still widening to this day.

Cindy Benson, a member of the Elon community, said she enjoyed Gifford’s presentation. She said she read “China Road” slowly and carefully in order to fully understand the meaning. “It was fascinating and a little sad,” she said. “I felt sorry for the Chinese people. They were rushing into the modern era hell-bent to get technology while 300 million are staying in the medieval ages.” She also admitted to being embarrassed that the Chinese middle class is copying the superficial points of U.S. culture.

Gifford held the audience captive as he spoke about his experiences in China and his theories on what might happen in the future. “The history of China is reunite and collapse, reunite and collapse. Why should the future be any different?” Gifford said. “Maybe the answer is in the road.”

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By Caitlin Cavanaugh

Drink: Four Loko

The ingredients: Four beers and two cups of coffee

The size: 23.5 ounces

The cost: $3

A great debate has begun in the past few weeks, whether to allow Four Loko or to ban it. The FDA is currently discussing whether or not to ban this drink from stores. Recently, there have been many cases in which students have been hospitalized after drinking Four Loko. These hospitalizations have led to the ban of this beverage in Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma. The question that is causing many to wonder, is it the drink itself or students use of it?

“They are very dangerous,” Wendy Cox, a Burlington resident, said. “The alcohol content is high that’s why it’s dangerous for them to be mixing it with caffeine.”

She told the story of a man who came in to buy 25 cans at one time, “You can only buy five at one time because of the alcohol content. I hear that some people are also mixing vodka with it, as if it doesn’t already have enough alcohol in it?”

The alcoholic content in this drink is part of the problem. Even without the alcohol it is still a lot to have in one small can.

“I think they should ban it,” Jan Davis, a Burlington resident, said. “Sounds like kids are getting sick and hospitalized from it. I don’t think they would do it if they knew what it could do,” Davis said.

“Yes they would.” Rhett Davis, another Burlington resident, added. “They would experiment with it anyways.” This brings up the point of whether or not banning Four Lokos would stop people from drinking it.

“I think it should be banned,” Diana Hawkins, a Burlington resident, said. “I was a red bull and vodka girl once, but now I have a child.”

She also added that allowing people to mix it on their own is different because it is their own doing, but to allow it to be bought is another matter entirely. Although some adults are opposed to the drink, students have other views.

“I don’t think they should ban it,” Brian Oke, an Elon University senior said. “I think it comes down to personal responsibility how many drinks you have.” Other students around the country share his view. An Opposing View essay (www.opposingviews.com/i/a-ban-on-caffeinated-alcohol-drinks-won’t-work) are saying that it’s not the mix of caffeine that’s the problem, but instead the behavior that they engage in after drinking the Four Lokos.

A study done at Wake Forest University (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18439201) found that a total of 697 students reported drinking alcohol mixed with energy drinks. They found that younger, white students involved in fraternities or sororities were more likely to consume this beverage. It was also found that these students were involved in more alcohol related incidents.

The following website has more information about the caffeine and alcohol beverages. (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/ucm190366.htm)

By Caitlin Cavanaugh

Would more students live on campus if they were given the chance? Would it make a large difference to the college experience to have guaranteed housing for four years? The answer is yes. Studies show that the more students feel they are connected to a campus community they more prepared they are for life outside of college.

“Studies have shown that living on campus helps students in terms of achieving higher grades, higher attention rates, higher graduation rates,” Jeff Stein, special assistant to the president, said. “They report feeling more connected to students, faculty and staff. They are more engaged in their academics.”

Elon University’s Residential Campus Committee has currently established the $100 million Elon Commitment strategy, which will, in part, be a plan to build more residence halls on campus. “This is not just a plan about bricks and mortar and adding residence halls,” Stein said. This plan is not meant to be a building plan. This plan is meant to help enhance learning throughout campus.

“This is a plan to connect housing, not leave it on the fringe of campus disconnected, but to connect it to the mission, to the vision, to academics, to faculty and staff, to all members of campus life.” The plan will add new facilities and package old and new into “neighborhoods” on campus. Each neighborhood will have a theme, much like the learning communities that are in place now.

There will be demolition being done around Lake Mary Nell to build new dorms and allow for more housing.

The areas around the Alamance building will be transformed into one neighborhood targeted at housing freshmen that will be focused on Elon University’s history and traditions. “This is the most attractive part of campus,” Stein said. “This is a place that’s great for first-year students to be mentored, to be connected to other students, faculty and staff.”

This is where convocation and graduation take place, and the committee has recommended older dormitories here be remolded to include more common areas and other spaces for students to study and talk,

Renovation and upgrade is another main focus of this project. In this modern day and age students are expecting high-quality living conditions. The dorms by Lake Mary Nell are outdated and students don’t want to live there. By rebuilding this area Elon will be able to upgrade the dorms to reach student expectations for housing.

“Four houses of 150 students,” Stein said. “Each of those houses will have a classroom will have study space, will have gathering common space and a kitchen.” This is only one of the upsides to this part of campus. It is going to be named the Global Neighborhood and this is where international students will live. This is also going to be the new home of the Isabella Cannon International Studies Centre.

Other neighborhoods will include:

  • Colonnades
  • Loy Center for Greek Life
  • Senior Housing with townhouse-styled homes

This new residence life program is going to encourage students to stay on campus. “The idea primarily is to get more students living on campus,” Kevin O’Mara, professor of management said. “But not just physical living on campus, but being on campus in the evening, during the weekends.”

The Elon Commitment strategy is a 10-year plan, but phases are currently under construction now. The Loy Center and new Colonnades buildings will be finished by the fall of 2011 and the other buildings are soon to follow.

“I think the most important thing for this initiative to be successful is that it’s not thought of as a residential life project,” Connie Book, the associate provost for academic affairs, said. “This is not student life, this is a community project. It is going to take the commitment of student life and academic life.”

By Caitlin Cavanaugh

Twenty-two states. Three incinerators.

Stericycle, according to Heather Bjork a resident of Alamance County, is importing from 22 different states to North Carolina to be burned. “We are needlessly being put at risk,” Bjork said. “This is something that is really concerning and we can do something about it.” Stericycle, a waste-incineration corporation, regulates the burning of medical waste and Bjork said new Environmental Protection Agency regulations set to go into effect in 2014 should be implemented by 2012.

Bjork explained the health ramifications of the medical waste incinerator in Graham County. Bjork said she has lived in Elon for 14 years and is afraid of the impact of the toxins on her children’s health.

Bjork said new EPA regulations set to go into effect in 2014 should be implemented by 2012. This wouldn’t be an option for another two to four years unless Leaders of North Carolina municipalities and counties vote otherwise.

According to statistics, Stericycle has only spent $2 million in 11 years on their local facilities. “They are pushing off the costs as long as possible,” Bjork said. She is part of a local group called the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League that is worried about the amount of toxins being pumped into the air by the incinerators, Bjork said. N.C. is known as the medical waste-incinerating capital of the world. “Only 2-3 percent of the waste needs to be burned,” she said. This means that up to 98 percent of the waste doesn’t have to be burned and she said it is pumping copious amounts of hazardous toxins, such as mercury, into the air. She said changing to the new standards could reduce the amount of toxins by 93-98 percent.

The Board of Aldermen were specifically interesting in how the other boards voted on this issue and why they voted the way they did.  “I would think the record of Graham’s meeting would be helpful,” Ron Klepcyk, a board member, said. “It would help us to understand the reasons they voted against it.”

“I have a problem with trumping Graham,” Mayor Jerry Tolley said. “The facility is in their jurisdiction.”

Bjork was adamant in her opinion. “Waiting two more years is not acceptable in this case,” she said. She asked the board to pass a resolution to support the implementation of the new stands in 2012. Board members said they will take it under consideration.

When the meeting ended the board offered their opinions of Bjork’s presentation. “It was a great presentation,” Tolley said. “She’s very passionate.” Tolley expressed his concern that the board in Graham didn’t adopt the resolution even though an incineration facility is located there. Tolley said to watch the paper because the facilities are in Graham’s town and it be known whether or not there are good reasons.

Angela Greene also presented the Board of Aldermen with the Green Challenge Award for the towns’ plan sustainable energy.

Topics that will be voted on Tuesday Oct. 12 include:

  • Acceptance of payment of town bills by VISA or Mastercard
  • Requiring account holders for the water and sewer to pay deposits

For more information about the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League’s petition to adopt stricter regulation of medical waste incineration by 2012 visit its website: http://www.bredl.org/stopincineration/index.htm

By Caitlin Cavanaugh

“Danger, Will Robinson, danger,” Charlie Cook quoted in his best imitation of the Robot from Lost in Space. Many people, in the audience, laughed along with him as he used the well-known quotation to describe the direction the country is currently going in today.

According to Cook, the majority of the Senate is about to turn over to the Republican Party once again. In the last couple months, it has become evident that the midterm elections are going to be different than they have been in the past. Throughout the last 40 years, the majority in Congress has flipped between the Republicans and the Democrats a few times. The turnover rate has increased in the past 10 years because of “very fickle voters with itchy trigger fingers,” Cook said.

Charlie Cook is well known for his political analysis and has been working in Washington, D.C. for 26 years. “I was born and raised in Louisiana, I went to Washington and never quite made it back home,” he said, during a brief interview before he spoke to the students and faculty of Elon University. In the past he has worked with networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS and was on The Colbert Report. He is specifically looking at the midterm

lections in hope of predicting what will happen. “I don’t know if President Obama is going to get re-elected,” Cook

said. “Midterm elections are terrible predictions of what will happen in two years.” Cook believes the election of

2012 is going to rely on three things, the unemployment rate at the time, what is going on in Afghanistan, and who the Republican candidate is going to be.

“Strange things are happening,” Cook said as he spoke about the consumers in America, “people are spending less, saving more, paying off debts, and investing in conservative means.”

Things are changing in this country. It’s evident when looking at the birth rate of last year; it was the lowest it has been in 100 years.

The Democrats love Obama, but the Independent voters feel as if “it’s not the cruise they signed up for,” Cook said. The people of this country are going through a tough patch that could last for many years. Current college students need to prepare themselves for a tougher job market. The Democrats’ reign is coming to an end as Obama is struggling with the economy, Afghanistan, and the increasing unemployment rate. The Democrats have begun to lose their fire and have quickly begun to burn out.

Charlie Cook finished his talk on his predictions of the upcoming midterm election with a quick joke: “I’m thinking of a way to cheer you up, but if you’re a Republican, you’re already cheered up.”  The audience seemed to relax and utter a chuckle even though prospects of what could happen to the country in the following months hovered in the air.

Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | November 15, 2010

Helpful websites for journalism students

There are many websites out there that are helpful for journalists and students studying journalism. Many of these sites are visited based on preference. I have looked through many of these websites and have found several that have the capability to aid in research and learning.

The most helpful of all the websites I found had to do with the specifics of journalism. Websites such as the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors (www.aasfe.org) give insight into the specific information that would be helpful in writing an article. It also explains different ways to cover media. An example is how to use iMovie. A few other websites that can help are ones specified for newspaper editors, newspaper columnists and news designers. Each of these websites help distinguished what is needed for each of the jobs. Each website has information on upcoming events and tips. The sites:             www.asne.org, www.columnists.com and www.snd.org.

There are also websites used specifically for public relations. The Public Relations Society of America is useful in learning the ins-and-outs of public relations. By starting to learn what is going on in the world of public relations it would help students find internships and jobs. (www.prsa.org)

Another few websites that I find extremely helpful are useful for reporters. The Journalist’s Toolbox and the Reporter’s Desktop are useful because are easy to read and helpful. The Toolbox has a compilation of links that will lead to other sites that will give journalists the information they need to write stories. Some of the most recent links are for the holidays or politics. The Desktop is useful when needing to find information. It has a compilation of different tools that a reporter would need all in one place. These include Google maps, search engines (like Yahoo or Google) and a dictionary with a thesaurus. (www.journaliststoolbox.org, www.reporter.org/desktop)

The last couple websites are for newswriting workshops and tips for writing for television. (www.mervinblock.com). Newser (www.newser.com) is an interesting way to view news that’s not very common. Can be used as research to see other ways to write news instead of using just print stories. Shows what the future could hold when it comes to news.

The way news is being written and viewed is changing. These various websites, plus many others will help journalists learn more about how to adapt.

Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | November 15, 2010

The news in 2025 will be extremely different

In 15 years it will be 2025 and things will probably be a lot different than they are today. What we wear, what we eat, what we watch on television and how we get our news.

Today most news is still spread by newspaper, although that is changing. The shift from print to digital news is coming closer and eventually it will be permanent. I think in 15 years all print media will cease to exist.

Eventually people will realize we need to conserve natural resources, like trees (or they will all disappear) and digital means will become more popular. By the year 2025 it is probable that everyone will have some sort of smart phone. We are almost to that point today, so give the world another 15 years and I’m sure that change will be complete.

Due to the invention of iPads and other digital readers I think all newspapers will turn into digital files that can be downloaded and read whenever, wherever. I think this will also change the timeliness of news. It will become more immediate for the reader because the stories won’t need to be printed.

I don’t think there will be anyone that will be able to read standard newspapers and that all news will be digital. We are heading towards the paperless age so in 15 years we should be there.

It will be delivered through updates via iPhone or iPad. Although give apple another 15 years and it will probably be a small ear piece that will tell us the news and we won’t even have to read anything. Who knows where the news is headed because all I know is that it is going to be much different than it is today. The biggest change is that somehow it will be delivered shorter, digitally and more immediately than the news today.

Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | November 1, 2010

News releases are more difficult than one would expect

Strategic writing is a lot harder than I expected. I thought writing press releases would be easy because it’s more objective than news articles, but that’s not the case. It’s a lot harder because I have to be writing for a client opposed to writing for news. This class is going to teach me the difference between objective and non-objective writing.

I was thinking about going into strategic communications because it seemed like something I would be good at. But after having to write a news release I’m beginning to think back to graphic media because that’s something I really understand.

I’m glad that I have the opportunity to write strategic communications pieces because it will definitely come in handy in the future. It has opened my eyes to the other opportunities around me in this class.

This weeks Harrower assignment has given me a lot of information about the world of public relations. It’s not something I knew a lot about before I started reading this chapter. It gave me a lot of insights into how much work the people in the strategic communications field have to do in order to do their job well.

This class has showed me how much effort goes into the communication field that a lot of people take for granted. It’s not a simple career to get into because of all the work that goes into learning how to write the different news pieces.

Writing the news release was more difficult than writing articles because it’s two different ways of writing. I’m glad we did broadcast writing between articles and press releases because it was an easier transition. I’m excited to write more press releases and learn more about how it works.

I also want to mention that in this chapter more than others I noticed the names for the first time. My favorite of the three interviewees was Chris P. Bacon. I never noticed them before now. After all the names and topics of the assignments makes it more entertaining to write about.

Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | October 25, 2010

Broadcast journalism is a stepping stone on the path to success

I wasn’t expecting the leap from writing articles to writing broadcasts to be as dramatic as it was. The jargon, the way of writing and the amount of information needed to write a broadcast script is much different than writing articles. It’s interesting how two different media outlets can produce such similar results.

When I first started to look at the process of writing something for television and radio versus an article I thought it was going to be much easier because there wasn’t as much writing. But as I began working through the jargon I found that it was difficult to pack all the information into a short time block because I didn’t have as much room to explain what had happened.

As I move from writing articles to writing broadcast I think I will enjoy writing the scripts because they are shorter and in a way they are more informative. They also bring together a lot of different media which is interesting to piece together.

Through out this section of the class I am excited to see how my broadcast scripts improve, like my articles did. After reading this weeks Harrower I think I am going to find myself listening and watching the news differently. Having to write broadcast scripts has made me interested to see how the professionals do it, much like I wanted to read articles written in papers after having to write articles of my own.

The next outside assignments that will be written as news reports instead of articles is going to be interesting because I’m not used to it. I will be ready to sit down and write an article and instead I will have to bring a new format to mind and figure out how I can make it sound like me. It’ll be starting from scratch and I’m excited to have this new experience under my belt.

Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | October 4, 2010

Mistakes can be the death of a journalist

Harrower would have gotten an F this week for his accident brief exercise. As a student that has been taught that a mistake in information or spelling will learn us a failing grade on the assignment I was surprised to see an exercise in the text book make that mistake.

Harrower has typed up a few details from a real news story that ran a few years ago, but during the What Happened section he said “Sans attempted to climb down to the creek but fell, injuring her leg.” For those who read everything previous to that they would know that Sans was one of the teenagers on the creek bed and that Sans was a male, not a female.

This mistake in one of the book assignments has taught me how important spelling and accuracy is when writing a news story. As soon as I saw the jarring mistake I couldn’t help but start to discount the rest of the story, even though it was just an exercise in the book.

In all reality it’s the credibility of the journalist that makes them a good writer and keeps the readers well informed. Without the trust of the readers a journalist has no power.

For the past month I have been told this over and over again and although I knew it was important before, I now have an extra incentive to keep everything I saw accurate.

I would hate for my readers to see something like that and then discount everything I had written, especially when it’s a mistake that is so easily fixed. It makes me wonder if Harrower did it on purpose to see if the students doing the exercises would pick up on it or if it really was a mistake that I’ve been trained to find.

Either way it forced me think about mistakes that are made in journalism and I am going to work hard to keep my stories accurate and to spell everything correctly. Credibility is important in journalism and without it readers would never trust what was in newspapers.

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