Social Media and Ethics

Just because journalists and civil journalists are so involved in social media, does not mean that ethical standards should be overlooked.

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She had awaited that moment for some time in her life.  She knew it would come but was never quite sure when.  On some days, though, she wasn’t sure if her stars would align.  She only guessed this was a normal thought.  Would that magical moment ever happen?  Would his smile be so big and nervous as the ones she had seen before?

As she turned the curve in the old, creaky church, she realized that not one ounce of saliva could pass through the boulder that had formed in her throat.  All eyes were on her and she could feel her nervous tendencies awaken and start to show.  She knew she had to hide them as best she could, remembering to smile, pick up her feet, and try to catch the eye of her awaiting lover.

The day she longed for was happening and would be over in a blink of an eye.  Her longing moment was in flight and would be landing before she knew it.

As she turned to face the congregation, she wore a brand new ring and last name.

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He had that infectious laugh that would make others, from across any room, turn around and at least crack a smile if not fall out from laughter.  He had an aura about him; he was just the type of person that one minute you were shaking his hand in introduction and the next, you were calling him for advice.  He was handsome, brilliant, cunning and a kind soul.  He had traveled all the way from Atlanta that day.  He was headed to see his first cousin and celebrate her engagement to a man he had never met.  It had been a while since he had seen that side of his family, but he wasn’t worried.  He knew that seeing them would seem like just yesterday they were together.  He knew life didn’t last forever, and he had always heard how important family was.

Her phone lit up with a frightening text message exclaiming an immediate response.  She didn’t like the feeling she had in the pit of her stomach as she dialed his number.  Her brother on the other end seemed frantic.  “Have you talked to mom and dad,” he said. 

By the sound of his voice and the shaking she could clearly hear through the reception, she knew something had happened.  “Jeff drowned in a lake last night,” her brother wailed. 

She felt the lump in her throat rise and she continued listening to her brother sob.  “Oh my…what?  Are you serious,” she said.  “Yes,” he said.  “Or at least that is what it sounds like.”

It always took her a couple of minutes before tragedy hit her hard.  She wore shock as if a gown for at least 30 minutes before her tear ducts finally connected to her brain and began to overflow with salty tears.

He went on to tell the story that Jeff’s brother had called him and said Jeff went missing from a boat at midnight last night. 

As family began pouring to Atlanta for answers, the story became more surreal.  She could not imagine this happening.  She had recently seen Jeff more times in the last year than she could ever remember.  She had shared so many memories with him. 

“Tess won’t release the clothes he had on that night and before his cell phone was returned, the SIM card was removed,” she heard through conversation. 

As facts, or the resemblance of facts began pouring in, the circumstances had already proven to be bizarre.  The three people on the boat with Jeff had waited some time before they called for help.  “Who in the hell wouldn’t jump in the water if their friend became distressed?” she thought.  Some friends they were.

Her mind and body felt numb.  Every waking moment, she replayed what might of happened and searched every inch of her mind to see his face.  Why was it after someone died, you couldn’t put together a picture of one’s face clearly? 

Was he it at peace?  Did he suffer?  Were his “friends” responsible for his death?  It was the sixth day of searching and still no body was found.  The water was deep, 140 feet at some points in that dreary lake.  The water must be satanic, she thought.  Eleven people had drowned in eight months and only five of them had been found. 


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At a Loss for Words

I am afraid today that I am fumbling with words, looking for a way to make sense of things.  Today, I am experiencing the utmost “what words cannot describe” day.  Something has occurred and nor words, photographs, video or anything else could ever explain the way I feel.

My family has suffered a loss.  An extreme loss.  One that cannot be replaced.  I look to my office wall and read, “Time heals almost everything.  Give time.”  When will the time come?

Time cannot come soon enough.  My dear 44-year-old cousin has drowned in a lake.  To make matters worse, it seems almost unclear as to what happened.  Those that he was with did not see him go underwater, only lost hearing of him.  His body has not been found.  He was swimming in a huge lake that has taken 11 lives so far.  Why him?

Let me tell you this story.  Jeff is a gift.  He has always been my cousin, and I have always loved him.  It was not until recently that we have spent time together, and we all have gotten pretty close.  He and Joey, his brother, have spent a lot of time with my brothers lately.  John especially loves Jeff and Joey.  I do too.  Saying this, all of Jeff’s siblings came to one of our wedding events.  I love them all dearly.

Things do happen for a reason.  I cannot explain why this happened to Jeff, but I can explain why we have recently gotten so close.  I guess God knew this would happen.  God knows we overlook things and people we shouldn’t.  Family should not be overlooked.  Family is the most important thing we have.  God knew I needed such a kind person in my life. 

I recently got married in April, and Jeff was there to celebrate.  He came to our engagement party in August and our wedding shower in November.  On one occasion, we found Jeff’s shaving kit, not knowing, and laughed about the Barbasol Shaving Cream saying, “we didn’t know anyone really used this stuff.”  He laughed right beside us and at the end of the harassment explained that it was indeed his shaving kit.  We laughed and laughed.  He had set his shaving kit outside of our door, and we had no idea whose it was.  He endured the laughing and joined in himself. 

He returned for our Grove shower.  I was ecstatic that he had come back after the Barbasol incident.  His presence that night was monumental.  I was glad he came.

And lastly, my husband cooks in BBQ competitions.  We have spent the last two years with Jeff and Joey in Memphis, and it is always a fun time.  Again, things happen for a reason.  BBQ was the reason my husband became close with Joey and Jeff.

I last saw Jeff in Memphis at BBQ Fest in May.  Joey woke him up to come downstairs to see us.  He immediately grabbed his “pimp goblet” and met us with his infectious smile. 

I have not a clue why God puts this type of suffering upon us.  I can only pray for strength and understanding.  We will never know why.  Words will never be able to explain it.

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Journalism as a Conversation

So it follows that we need to teach our students to become teachers of journalism. That is a new skill for them.

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Man’s best friend(s)


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Over prepare, then go with the flow.

It is time for a new academic year to begin.  Students begin to roll into my office with enthusiastic faces waiting for education to engulf their minds, compensating for their time and payment.  As I begin to prepare myself, I strive to teach the student everything that I can, everything that I know.  I want to teach  things that I should have learned at the same stage in life.  I remember being thrown into college with no idea what the future would bring.  A couple years later, I find myself teaching college-aged students to write, take photos, partially design and overall how to be a successful journalist.

So my advice to myself at this time is to do and learn as much as I can.  I do this so I can pass along the knowledge, pass along the torch.

As my boss addressed myself and colleagues, he pushed us to challenge ourselves.  We must learn to challenge ourselves professionally and personally to become successful teachers and citizens.ImagePreparing for the academic year with the downloading of Adobe 6.

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