Tag Archives: journalism

Free and Fierce

“In the dead of the night, the brilliant flames were alive with a seemingly insatiable hunger for fuel and fodder.” Photo from: http://forest.ambient-mixer.com/images_template/7/a/5/7a5f2da770d424198f5fe0e88b573b10_full.jpg

The night was alive with crackling light and shifting shadows. In the dead of the night, the brilliant flames were alive with a seemingly insatiable hunger for fuel and fodder, eating through the wood and the walls. The people outside on the ground stood in silent awe of the gold and orange flames that danced in the windows of what was once their home. They could do little else. They had been roused from the depths of sleep by the heat and the smoke, going from groggy to completely awake and alert in a second, only to have the adrenaline disappear from their bodies as they made it to the safety of the street. No one had seemed to be hurt much, and the fire had only just begun to roar in full force. As if it had waited for the last resident to leave before it feasted.

Free of any human chains to slow it down, the fire seemed to start anew, growing and blazing with a strange ferocity. It burned brightly and quickly, tearing and clawing its way through the apartment building. The entire building would be gone in seconds, but for the residents on the street, it seemed to take an eternity. Every flame slowed to a crawl, creeping up through the windows and along the walls. The flames seemed to gently brush against their prey before slipping into the wood to consume it from the inside out. Black spots of destruction blossomed forward, spreading out in a slow wave like a drop of ink in water. It would spread and spread, becoming wider and greater while it weakened itself, until it began to crumble away from its center to its very edge, the ash falling through the air like snowflakes and dancing in front of the viewer on the street.

Majors that allow you to be creative AND make money

We’ve all heard the story about the distant cousin who majored in Art and is now a starving painter living in a shoebox somewhere.

Choosing a major seems simple- choose something you can tolerate that will make you money. After all, how many people do you know that are truly passionate about finance? This doesn’t have to be the case, however. There are many careers out there that utilize creativity while also allowing you to live comfortably.

Here are just a few, offered here at Radford:

1. Media Studies: Advertising

Average salary for Creative Copywriters- $61,000 (with the ability to move up in the ranks and earn more)

Many people get Advertising confused with Marketing. While Marketing does require a certain amount of creativity, Advertising  works more with the nitty gritty aspects of introducing a product to the general public. While there are many jobs in the Advertising field, the most creative position is that of a Creative Copywriter (or Advertising Copywriter) . Creative Copywriters are in charge of designing the story-boards for marketing campaigns such as commercials. Every one of your favorite commercials started out as simply an idea in someone’s head. That person could be you one day!

Other careers for Advertising majors include Media Planning and Buying, Researching, and Account Managing. Senior positions in all areas can make well into the triple digits depending on the company and location.

2. Media Studies: Journalism

Average salary for Journalists: $49,000

Pinpointing the average salary for a journalist can be pretty tough considering how broad of a field journalism really is. As a journalist, you could work as an on-air reporter, a talk show host, a writer for a newspaper, or even just work freelance (sell your articles to newspapers, magazines, etc.) Because of this, pay obviously fluctuates. That being said, a career in journalism can be extremely rewarding both financially and otherwise.

3. Art: Graphic Design

Average salary for Graphic Designers: $53,000

The Graphic Design field has rapidly expanded over the past few years, causing it to become a pretty lucrative career path. Graphic Designers can work with any company from advertising agencies to magazine publications because so many businesses require their services nowadays. Graphic Designers may be asked to design logos, web page layouts, and book covers- the possibilities are endless!

4. Music: Music Business

Average salary: varied

If you love music, but don’t want to be the main act, this major may be the one for you. Careers in the music industry range from Managers to Booking Agents and Concert Promoters to Music Accountants. Depending on the success of either the record label you work for or the act you represent, you could either make peanuts or crazy good money. The job that pays the most consistently is that of an Entertainment (Music) Attorney. Entertainment Attorneys handle all the legal matters of the music business and can make anywhere from $70,000 to $150,000 a year. These jobs are pretty abundant considering the fact that every artist and record label needs lawyers. The one drawback would be that after completing the Music Business undergrad degree, law school would be a necessity. Other jobs such as Managers, who represent the musical talent, get their earnings solely from commission so they’re only as successful as their acts. Music Business Accountants handle musicians’ and labels’ financial needs and make salaries ranging from $40,370 to $113,740. While finding a job in the music industry might be a little harder than some other fields, working so close with something you love and having the opportunity to get rich doing it is something that you simply can’t pass up.

5. Design: Fashion Design

Average salary: $73,570

You may not get that dream job in Paris, however, every retail clothing store needs fashion designers. Most people shy away from this field because it seems so cut-throat. While competitive, it’s certainly not impossible to break into the fashion business as long as you’re willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. So if designing cute clothes is your passion and you’re willing to work hard to reach your goals, switch your major as soon as possible.

You should be able to wake up every day and be excited to go to work. If a creative degree draws you in, don’t push it away simply because your family thinks you’d be more successful as a business student. There are ways to make a good salary in most fields, so choose what you love and not what you can merely tolerate.


Making money with your art degree. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Making money with your art degree. Graphic by Katie Gibson

7 Reasons you should drop what you’re doing and join Student Media

1.) It’s a resume-builder

Many students, especially journalism ones, seem to assume that the portfolio they made in class is sufficient when it comes time to search for a job after college. This is not true in any sense. Hiring Managers look for someone who has shown initiative and has real experience, not someone whose only writing samples were birthed in Newswriting 101. Working for Student Media can give you these greatly needed samples.

judging you


2.) You get real life experience.

The hierarchy of Student Media is set to mimic the hierarchy of a real newspaper. You’ll have an Editor-in-Chief and a few other Editors above you to bug if you have any questions. There are real-life scenarios reenacted on the daily too, like the one where some random person sets the dumpster on fire outside the student media building, forcing you to choose who to call … the Assistant Director for Student Media or the ghost busters?

to being alive

3.) Any and all majors are accepted.

Two of the best Editors-in-Chief I’ve ever met were a chemistry major and an education major. Everyone is welcome in Student Media. (Even Grad students!)

love me

4.) You have a guaranteed quiet place to work when the library is full.

Okay, so maybe it’s not guaranteed to be quiet at all hours, but it is an uncrowded space with a Mac lab and a printer.

win win

5.) You have nights you’ll never forget

If you haven’t been present while Highlander Rolls were accidently delivered to the Student Media office on your birthday, then you haven’t lived! The family atmosphere of Student Media fosters great relationships and a real sense of belonging.


6.) You have opportunities to advance.

When you start a job, are you the type of person who is constantly looking for advancement opportunities? Well look no further— Student Media is the right place for you! Within your college career, you can easily start from the bottom as a writer and end up here as Editor-in-Chief.

I know what i want

7.) You can write to tell the truth… Or just have fun

One thing that few people realize when they’re considering becoming involved with Student Media is the variety of jobs available. If you’re a good artist, we are always looking for artwork to showcase. If photography is more your shtick, we need photographers too. Each publication has its own writing style, too. Do you like writing short stories and/or poems? You belong with Exit 109, our literary magazine. Have you always wanted to write a listicle with the hope that it will go viral? Whim’s your oyster, my friend. Of course, for the Luke Danes of the world, seething articles about how dumb people can be are always accepted as well.

share hate with

Why COMS is the Best Major

I can say wholeheartedly my major is the best major around and I wouldn’t change it for the world. And no, it’s not because I get to write for Whim (anyone can do that–hint hint)!

Coming to Radford for music therapy, I thought I was set. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and what I wanted to do when I graduated. That changed very quickly. I was calling home every day; I was homesick and I no longer wanted anything to do with Radford. In my second semester, I decided music therapy was not for me (even though I still love everything it can accomplish). I was going home and never looking back.

Communication students. Graphic from Radford University website
Communication students. Graphic from Radford University website

After taking some regular gen ed courses, I knew what I wanted to do:journalism. I always had a knack for writing,  and I have no problem talking to people. My public speaking class really drove it home for me.

After coming into the School of Communication here at RU, I have to tell you, it’s one of the best. The professors are always available, willing to help no matter what it takes, and working together to make this experience what it should be for students. I had professors who wanted to see me succeed and helped me in every way possible, even if it didn’t have to do with a COMS class.

Although journalism isn’t necessarily a major for everyone who loves to write, it fit perfectly for me. I think there are some criteria that really work if you want to be a journalism major.

  1. You have to enjoy writing
  2. You need to work well with others
  3. You need to have a moral compass
  4. You have to have a passion for helping others or getting them the information they need or want
  5. You have to be good with time management (deadlines come faster than you think)

I know, that’s not the most detailed list but it’s a start.  I’ve had days where I just wanted to quit or  change my major. People have days like that all the time, but I am going to tell you that it’s so worth it. You push through all the deadlines and see your work published in The Tartan or here on Whim and it’s a great feeling.

I  love knowing that even if people don’t read what I have to say, I have a voice — and I can be that voice for other people as well. This semester we have talked a lot about how journalism is a service to help the community and I believe that 100 percent. I wouldn’t change anything about how these last 3 years have gone and I highly suggest looking into journalism or the School of Communication if you’re still undecided on a major!

Knowing a writer is a unique experience

People who read get a lot of credit as deep thinkers whose intelligence is unparalleled. They visit and visualize worlds inside their minds simply by looking at words and absorbing the information in front of them. There’s something beautiful about a person who can sit in complete silence and ponder the meaning of and visualize a world outside their own, or feel the feelings a first-person narrator describes. However, has anyone ever thought about the beauty in the person who can create those worlds?

Sure, authors make a lot of money for popular books, but in daily life and in movies, people who read are always these mysterious, deep characters with big hearts. No, this isn’t some ploy to get my friends here at Whim laid (sorry, guys). I think people who prefer to read and those who prefer writing are kindred spirits, but us writers deserve more credit than we get.

I think there’s something to be said about those who can observe things around them and use words to touch the souls of an audience. Reporters get a lot of negative coverage these days . Sometimes journalists are accused of being nosy and overbearing. Recently, Brian Williams was suspended for exaggerating details of his coverage of the war in Iraq.

It’s disappointing, as a student of journalism, to see someone who so many look to for news abuse his position. It also makes me worry that this incident will increase the distrust that many have towards media. But for those who approach their job honestly and creatively, there’s a world inside their mind which holds immense beauty.

In one of my classes, my professor stressed how the use of words and language in general can paint many different pictures. News stories that would be bland from one perspective can be deep and thought-provoking in another. It takes a lot of skill to write something that will truly stick in the reader’s or viewer’s mind.

If you come across the opportunity to befriend, date or simply know a writer, do it. We see things in many different perspectives because we have to. Being a good writer means being able to comprehend that your perspective isn’t the only one possible. Good writers have empathy and a desire to understand the feelings of others so that we can project them in our writing. Whether someone’s a creative writer, a news writer or someone who simply writes in a journal, there’s something beautiful and sane about someone who can take feelings and put them into words.

Law, order, and video game ISIS

Gaming has always been that one habit that people are hesitant to tell others about. It’s mostly because the default image that pops in a non-gamer’s head is that of a fat kid with an overabundance of Doritos and Mountain Dew raging at his TV screen. Whether they’re bragging about the things they’ve done with your mom, or tripping over themselves at the first girl who hops in a game lobby, gamers aren’t well liked by a great number of demographics.

It doesn’t help that every time a shooting happens, the news media tries to find which violent video game to point to as a possible motivator for such an act. In fact, the media as a whole doesn’t seem to understand gaming at all–and when it tries, it seems to miss the mark every single time.

A recent “Law & Order” episode aired, loosely based on the events of what has been dubbed Gamergate. It’s a scandal that involves accusations of both misogyny and journalistic ethics. It’s a topic that deserves further explanation, but I’ll do so after you watch the episode.



Putting aside the fact that they felt the need to use and explain just about every outdated and unused piece of gamer lingo, this episode tried to take on way too much. Granted,  Gamergate is a monster of an issue to tackle with multiple facets that someone from the outside would never understand.

To grossly oversimplify, the actual Gamergate started after evidence came out that a Kotaku reviewer had given a game good review because of an intimate relationship he had with the developer. It raised questions about corruption in gaming journalism, due to the fact that many large game developers have been known to give sponsorships and other gifts to entice positive reviews.

It then devolved into an issue of trading sex for coverage, after a writer put out a prolonged blog post about how his ex-girlfriend Zoe Quinn had cheated on him with another writer. As a natural internet reaction to this blog post, people began to question if this is true for all female game developers.It further descended into madness from there.

New characters started to spawn into the Gamergate battlefield after feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian took this opportunity to criticize the gaming community and the culture that surrounds it. She made the points that games often portray women in scantily-clad clothing or as supporting roles for the male protagonists. In doing so, she inadvertently generalized gamers as sexists, largely due to what they are exposed to in games.

As one could imagine, gamers didn’t like being labeled, and she became a vilified character among the community–but championed by many feminists who have long held the idea that video games aren’t a safe place for women. It got worse, however, when Sarkeesian began receiving death threats that prevented her from speaking at several events. This helped to serve her point that gamers are these monsters that want to silence women.

There’s plenty more that I’ve unfortunately had to leave out, but there’s a lot of bias and contradictory information that tends to muddy the water. The point is that it’s a big deal due to the fact that it hits on about four different issues at once. The media completely dropped the ball on the issue by siding against the gaming community, because it’s a community that’s already so misunderstood by the general public.

It’s almost too easy to get it wrong, because it won’t matter to the general public (who don’t care enough to make the effort to understand). It’s so much easier to write gamers off as sexist nerds than it is to understand that this is an issue of journalistic ethics. Yes, it’s wrong that a select few took it upon themselves to send death threats to any female who covered the issue from a feminist standpoint. Yes, it’s wrong that there aren’t more realistic female protagonists in games. However, it’s also wrong to use an entire demographic of gamers as the scapegoat any time anything goes wrong in society.

The reason gamers appear so defensive about what they do is because of negative media portrayals. After making the point that a shooter enjoyed playing violent video games , news anchors always seem to encourage family to talk to their loved ones. This often results in the taking-away of said violent video games. There’s an inherent distrust of the media every time they decide to cover gaming, because they always get it wrong.

What “Law & Order” did here was a prime example of why there was a need for gamers to speak out against the media in the first place. This hypothetical video game equivalent of ISIS will only further make the non-gaming community wary of gamers and what twisted ideas they have in their heads.

Maybe we need more gamers in the media, or maybe the media just needs to do more research before they try to cover topics like this. Gaming impacts such a large demographic that it’s impossible to generalize everyone to one collective hive-mind. We’re not all sexists, and we’re not a mean joke away from shooting up a school. We’re everyday people who happen to enjoy escaping this reality to one with less rules.

What makes a good journalist?

Journalists have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. We’re accused of lying and working for corporations or political figures in order to protect their name and cover up the truth. But what makes someone a “good” journalist?

Last year, I had to interview Gina Cavallaro, a journalist who had worked in Afghanistan and witnessed horrible and amazing things. One thing Gina told me was to, “always be a steward of the truth.” In other words, always make the truth the most important thing when you’re writing.

A lot of journalists have sold themselves out and try not to step on anyone’s toes. But stepping on toes is our job! People aren’t going to like us when we expose them, but it’s our right to. Although “freedom of the press” has been manipulated, as journalists, we need to step forward and present what we find to be true rather than holding back as we try not to piss anyone off.

“But what makes someone a “good” journalist?”

The truth can screw over a lot of people, and I can guarantee that some journalists have been paid to keep their mouths shut. I can understand why someone would do this, because a journalist’s pay isn’t enough to make dreams come true or miracles happen. But what I hope for, for not only myself, but for other future journalists is that we can all have the opportunity to reveal the truth, no matter the risk.

Cavallaro risked her life in order to cover the war in Afghanistan, and many other journalists and correspondents have as well. Why are so many journalists willing to put their lives on the line over seas, but not here? It’s our job to let Americans know what’s going on around the world, but most importantly what’s going on here on our own soil.

In the news, there are tons of vague segments that don’t tell the nitty-gritty details because people want quick snippets that aren’t going to take up too much time. But consumers need to also take it upon themselves to listen and be present when the truth does come out, so that they can be informed.

It can be impossible to define a “good” journalist. When analyzing journalists and their work, we need to put the truth as the forefront of our analysis. We must ask ourselves: what truths does a journalist expose, and how important are those truths in their reporting?

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Fox News

Looking back through several of my older articles, I always seem to use Fox News as the butt of my jokes. I’m unapologetic about my disgust towards their style of “reporting.” It’s about time I put it to rest once and for all.

Fox News pundit Anna Kooiman recently decided to take on a story about Obama funding a museum of Muslim culture with his own money. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? Actually, I would argue that’s rather noble of him, because that can’t be cheap. She asserts that the money would actually be paid by the RNC, but never went on to explain how or why. It seems like a bizarre story already, but preposterous enough to get the highly Republican fan base up in arms.

Continue reading Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Fox News

Journalism’s Justification

Journalism is defined as, “Writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, journalism is a collection of facts, “without an attempt at interpretation.” This means that a reporter should simply state the facts of a given situation or circumstance without assumption, opinion or any form of prejudice or partiality. Said reporter would merely read into a camera what news was written on the teleprompter, and the information written on the teleprompter would be utterly transparent.

USA Today is one of the more reliable news sources. Photo from Creative Commons.

For those of you thinking, “Well, duh, that’s how it’s always been,” I’m going to have to stop you right there. Journalism has traveled far from its initial presentation. It’s fallen into every hole, stumbled over every rock and tumbled down countless cliffs of ethical systems and professional dignity along the way. What was once considered a noble career has turned into a 24-hour gossip engine. Continue reading Journalism’s Justification

In memory of Brandon Brinkley

Former Radford University student Brandon Brinkley, 28, lost his fight with cancer on Jan. 14. He left behind his wife Lindsay and son Tristan.

Brinkley was diagnosed with Stage 4 testicular cancer in 2006, and rediagnosed in Nov. 2012. His three-month-long battle is detailed in his blog, which can be found here.

Photo from Creative Commons.
Photo from Creative Commons.

But what defines him was not his death, but the way he lived life. Continue reading In memory of Brandon Brinkley