Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Blog

Consider this blog over, I'm going to be using www.andreafeedback.wordpress.com for the remainder of the semester. Blogger has been having too many problems.

Read the rest of my posts there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Letters to the Editor #2

I also don't write for the NYTimes, in case you didn't know, so I figured that I would give writing them a shot. I responded to “Citing Costs, States Consider Halting Death Penalty” by Ian Urbina.

To The Editor:

In the article “Citing Costs, States Consider Halting Death Penalty”, two issues near and dear to my heart were covered.
I have always thought that the death penalty was unjust because of the risk in taking an innocent person’s life. In the state of our economy, it makes perfect sense to stop spending on both an extremely costly and risky program.
The other proposal is letting out low-risk offenders up to 90 days early. Numerous low level, petty crimes like marijuana dealing are not worth taxpayers’ money at this time, we have a lot more than doobies to worry about.
I hope to see a lot more states considering these cost saving options in the near future.
Once again, I thought that this topic would be of high interest and it also prompted a response out of me so I went for it. I googled nytimes letters to the editor and found the email address and also the advice to keep letters to them shorter than 150 words, which I did. I think it has a moderate chance of being run because one, I said the word "doobie" in it, and two, the article wasn't the most popular so hopefully there aren't a lot of responses. I'll keep you guys updated.

Letters To the Editor #1

As I work for both the Daily Collegian and The Daily Hampshire Gazette, I decided that it's probably against policy for me to write letters to them. I thought local stories would be best to respond to so I chose The Republican stories.

The first story that I wrote a letter to was "Missing Holyoke teacher, Lisa Lavoie and fifteen-year-old boy found in W.Va. motel"

To the Editor:

Tonight I logged onto Masslive.com to find the article “Missing teen, Holyoke teacher Lisa Lavoie found in W.Va. motel”. Stories like this have been common for a long time. Although the school’s personnel and parents thought that it would “never happen to them”, it did.
It is a shame that an isolated incident such as this would make parents question their confidence in the school. It is hard for anyone to foresee these situations happening.
The harsh reality is that often times it seems like the student victims seek out these relationships, which doesn’t make them right, but it doesn’t make them a cold case of rape either. These situations are somewhat of a grey area.
Lavoie is definitely more at fault, and should have been the one to exercise the restraint, but the student probably had a pretty big part in it. He had to have put himself in the situation for this to happen, obviously outside of the school day or in an inappropriate place. This doesn’t happen in the middle of class or with other students around.
For the record, it really isn’t appropriate for teachers to have sex with students and vice versus, but I think hormones and mutual consent are never brought up in these situations. I hope what has transpired does not severely scar the victim.

Andrea Murray
Northampton, MA

This is bound to be a controversial topic in the area. Teacher/student rape is always a big story. I don't think that my opinion is right in all circumstances, surely there are teachers that completely control and take advantage of students. But my gut reaction in this case was that it seemed like the student went out of his way to have a lengthy tryst with the teacher. Numerous national cases like this prove that the students were just as responsible for what happened and just as interested. I think that students can avoid these situations... #1 not being alone with a teacher. I don't think that rape is ever OK, but these situations don't always seem like regular old rape to me, just not socially or professionally acceptable from a teacher.

Anyhow, I think that it could be run because my voice in this matter will probably be deemed somewhat controversial and because my reaction is timely.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chapters 1 & 2

Journalism and the Public - Newsroom Culture, Letter to the Editor and Democracy by Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

First off, this book is kinda dryyyyy. Not too fun.

Chapter 1 discussed the rise and fall of democratic participation, mostly blaming the concept of "liberal democracy" model for the public sphere. Instead Karin Whahl-Jorgensen suggested moving to the "deliberative democracy" model. Wahl-Jorgensen believes that letters to the editor already encompasses the deliberative model and that is the direction in which the public sphere should move. It all makes sense like she says, in order for society to truly be governed "by the people", the people must participate.

This also makes me think, in order for people to be satisfied with their government, they need to participate. Involvement with the government would breed a more careful eye and a more transparent vision of what actions they are taking and where the people's money is going.

It is mostly true that today there is far less participation in traditional political involvement. I can see my generation moving towards it though, it has taken time to realize the repercussions of being lazy about the political process. I can't claim to be heavily involved, though I wish I was. I do think the busy world and stress has a lot to do with the lack of it though. I often times feel too stressed about my potential journalism career and school to consider being involved in something else.

Chapter 2 discusses the historical significance of Letters to the Editor.
As we learned in the Silence Dogood letters, these letters brought about new modes of thinking and discussion, even downright insulting remarks. But through this discussion, haven't we overcome a lot of these issue? Women are seemingly accepted as well as men since that time.

Yes, it is not written by professionals, but it is a chance for the publication to represent voices of the public that would not otherwise get the chance to be heard. Although I haven't yet participated in this (soon I will for our first project), I can remember always reading the letters in teen magazines thanking or criticizing the editors for past articles. It was interesting to see how differently the pieces could be perceived.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

High Fives! Ayyyyyy!

Improveverywhere is a hysterical organization that orchestrates mass demonstrations of silliness and fun. High Five Escalator was one of their most recent endeavors; they garnered many happy smiles from their "victims', if you can even call them that. I think they perked up everyone they passed. Watch the video to see what happened.

A lot of the commenters were complaining about the potential for germs, which I thought was a bit ridiculous. I hate germaphobes. Recently a friend of mine said she read an article that said eating food that fell on the floor is actually good for you! Anyhow, here are some of the more negative comments.


Wow Rob,

Did you boil your hand in Listerine afterwards?

Then again, after brushing up against a couple dozen people without pants a few weeks ago, I really shouldn’t be so squeamish about meeting people on the subway.


I hate to say this, but there is no way one of the college guys wouldn’t think to touch either his “gluteal furrow” or scrotum before hi-fiving. It’s too tempting. Most of the people touched some kind of nether-sweat.

And here's mine.

Andrea M.

The looks on the people’s faces are amazing! I would love for this to happen to me.

Who cares about germs? They’re good for you, keeps your immune system strong.

Postal Service Woes

Today I was at the post office where I realized what the full effects of their potential cutbacks will be.

To the Huffington Post article about the Post Office problems, I replied:


Today I went to my local post office and with three postal tellers working, we had a a sizeable line of 8 people or so. One of the customers had been talking to the teller and he told her that all three of them were in danger of losing their jobs to lay-offs, in addition to the postage increase. I can't imagine the place operating without them!

Cutting down to 5 days of service wouldn't be so bad I guess. Everything is just becoming more automated and technological.

This article is a little old, but the subject is very interesting to me. The Postal Service may cut their service to 5 days per week, their increase in postage by 2 cents is happening May 11, and there is potential for even the local Northampton office to cut back on jobs.

I will be watching for replies to my comment but I don't expect much.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Silence Dogood

First of all, I am very happy to have learned the word "lucubration" from this. Reading through Benjamin Franklin's Silence Dogood's letters I was at first confused as to why we were reading them... they seemed to only be personal reflections. I thought that Letters to the Editor that I've seen have never been so personal.

Then I came to the first selection where Dogood received feedback of "her" own.

To Mrs. Dogood.


"My Design in troubling you with this Letter is, to desire you would begin with your own Sex first: Let the first Volley of your Resentments be directed against Female Vice; let Female Idleness, Ignorance and Folly, (which are Vices more peculiar to your Sex than to our's,) be the Subject of your Satyrs, but more especially Female Pride, which I think is intollerable.

I guess it became fairly obvious that at that time a great many men thought that when were an inferior sex. If Benjamin Franklin was being an honest defender of women, then that's pretty great. I didn't expect that he would have done this.

After Thanks to my Correspondent for his Kindness in cutting out Work for me, I must assure him, that I find it a very difficult Matter to reprove Women separate from the Men; for what Vice is there in which the Men have not as great a Share as the Women?

Knowing that Ben Franklin wrote these makes them quite comical. But at the time it was definitely a great way for him to get attention as well as to inspire discussion amongst the people of New England.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

S.P. Sullivan on Natty Light Vikings

Fellow UMasser and Collegian Staff member, S.P. Sullivan, keeps a blog called UMass 101 on masslive.com. He linked to his post about the Natty Light Vikings he encountered on Facebook so I checked it out.

Sullivan went to Amherst Community Television's Winterfest and captured the Amherst spirit in the process. He took a great video and pics of the event.

I commented on the post:

Posted by akmurray on 02/08/09 at 9:41PM

What an Amherst esque story. Great that you captured it.

Ummm. I'm not that good of a commenter. But I liked his post because no one else is going to have that story, it's so unique to the area and a very quirky thing to cover.

Here's his video:

Natty-Light Vikings put 30-racks to good use

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I came across this video through my new friend Shawn, from CA, who I met because we were connected on AIM through Project Upstream. His screen name came up as "poeticalcoho", mine supposedly was "Tryingcoho." At any rate, once we figured out that we had just been essentially rickroll'd via AIM, we actually talked, and he linked me to his livejournal where he had posted this great video!

Just some news anchors being goofy.

NY Times' Bill Keller

Reading through NY Times' executive editor, Bill Keller's, Q&A this portion really struck a cord with me.
"I've laid out my basic reasons for optimism on many occasions, and they still seem to hold water.First, there is a diminishing supply of quality journalism, and a growing demand. By quality journalism I mean the kind that involves experienced reporters going places, bearing witness, digging into records, developing sources, checking and double-checking, backed by editors who try to enforce high standards. I mean journalism that, however imperfect, labors hard to be trustworthy, to supply you with the information you need to be an engaged citizen. The supply of this kind of journalism is declining because it is hard, expensive, sometimes dangerous work. The traditional practitioners of this craft — mainly newspapers — have been downsizing or declaring bankruptcy. The wonderful florescence of communication ignited by the Internet contains countless voices riffing on the journalism of others but not so many that do serious reporting of their own."
This past week it really started to bother me how everyone, who isn't a journalist, criticizes journalists. So, I am mostly referring to where Keller says that quality journalism "is hard, expensive, and dangerous work." And criticism on the internet is boundless, criticizing these hard-working journalists but none of them are trying to do something better.

I think that journalism should be as honest as possible, truly. But I am also a believer that people are just people and often make mistakes. And journalists are people on deadline. I know from working at the Collegian and meeting fellow journalists, that we all do our best. It bothers me that the general public does not understand that. They don't understand how hard it is to get every little detail completely right. People can lie to journalists, and say misleading things. Much of our information comes directly from the people. The fact is that quality in-depth reporting is truly one of the hardest things to do, and I just wish that the general public would give us more credit. Or at least shut up and try doing it themselves.