The Return of the Calorie Count and Censoring Sex Crimes

Hey, dudes/ladies, check out this adorable-as-all-hell travel mug I bought for myself at Newbury Comics on my birthday shopping trip.

I brought it with me on my grocery shopping trip this morning, and looked classy as a mofo.At the moment, I am drinking copious amounts of green tea out of it in an attempt to flush out the massive quantities of bloat I acquired in between yesterday and today; yep, I gained 3.4 pounds overnight, and am now 130.6. Peachy, no? Of course, yesterday, I was voluntarily going to count calories beginning today, but now that I actually have to, I am like, “NOOOOOO THIS IS SO UNNATURAL, LIKE TWIMOMS, SERIOUSLY THOSE WOMEN ARE WAY TOO OLD TO LOVE ON TAYLOR LAUTNER THAT IS BORDERLINE PEDOPHILIA AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

Blergh. Of course, I am sure it is just water retention and that it is nigh impossible to gain that much weight overnight. Regardless, I am sorry for the mad repetitive binge-oriented posts as of late; when I get stressed out about one thing, I tend to stress out about everything else in my life, too. It is like my stress is the common cold, and “fear of the return of binge eating”-thoughts are that kid in your class who has the really bad immune system and always gets sick, and all my other thoughts are like, “Ugh why does he come to class when he is sick, vacation is coming up I hope I don’t get sick,” but they do. And, when I do get stressed out about a thing, I tend to obsesses over it and basically repeat the same thoughts on it over and over like a broken record.

Anyway, yesterday definitely was a binge. I’m not sure why I seem to have intuitive eating down on most days of the week but not on celebratory days/holidays. Maybe it’s because while I was dieting, I gave myself a pass to binge on said days? Ah, well. I guess all I can do is chalk it up to a learning experience and just be better prepared as the next holiday rolls around.

“But, Elizabeth, you said you were stressed about a thing. TELL US.”

Oh, blog readers, you’re so thoughtful/concerned! Or just vile gossip mongers, you bastards. Whatever, I’ll tell you anyway.

As some of you may know/recall, I recently started working as a radio anchor/reporter. This is (was?) a pretty cool thing as it is what I went to school for, but something happened last Saturday that has me mild to moderately concerned: Long story short, I aired a news piece I had pulled off the AP wire* that was about a Massachusetts priest who had been arrested for soliciting sex. I got hell of chewed out by my boss (“We don’t air smut,” “That’s not what our audience wants to hear,” etc.), and was informed that the stations on which I broadcast news generally avoid stories on “sex scandals, rape, [and] child pornography.”

On the one hand, I understand the our news airs on entertainment/music stations and now dedicated news stations, but on the other hand I’m troubled that we’re a) censoring content and b) grouping together stories about sex scandals and rape. It just makes me uneasy, and my job feels trivial; are we only supposed to feed people fluff?

What are your thoughts regarding stories on sex crimes? Do you expect “softer” news when you’re listening to an entertainment station rather than a station dedicated to news/talk?

* For those who are unfamiliar with how news works, many media outlets (e.g., newspapers, radio stations, etc.) use stories by the Associated Press (i.e. the AP, an extensive news agency) in their broadcasts or publications, since most news sources don’t have the resources to send their journalists all across the country. For example, the company I work for would never send a reporter all the way to the G-20 summit in Toronto, so instead we’d use a story on it by the AP for our national news segment.

Change of Plans / Blogging Responsibly

I’ve been doing the one indulgence-a-day plan for about five days now, and in light of establishing that I am very much capable of eating one treat without entering a downward spiral, I think I’m going to go ahead and count calories for bit. The thing, I’m one of those people that the longer they don’t eat well for, the worse their eating habits get, if that makes sense. For example, on Tuesday I had Cookie Bars (no big deal), on Wednesday I had Jingles (also not a big deal), but Friday I had ice cream and yesterday I sat down an a quart of ice cream AND went out to dinner. Not because I was looking to binge (and I didn’t eat much else besides said ice cream and dinner), but I just thought nothing of sitting down and eating a quart of ice cream in light of my recent splurges. Just didn’t care. Today? Pie for a midmorning snack. And, I skipped my upper body workout, because I tend to get sluggish in every other part of my life when I don’t eat well. Peh. So, I guess I am capable of having one treat without going totally crazy, but I also know that I’m not a person who can eat a treat a day without seeing negative effects in other parts of my healthy living-lifestyle.  And, while people with normal eating habits may have periods of time where they can’t eat healthy 100% of the time (i.e., vacation), most “healthy” people don’t eat a treat a day, and follow a day with a treat with a day without one. Yep. Of course, in light of having pie, am I rushing out to the grocery store for treats? Nope! So, improvement noted. Weight gain also noted: 137 this morning. Yeesh.

So, I know this blog is usually me boo-hooing about my weight and such, but since my current apathy regards my eating habits and my weight, today, I decided I wanted to talk about something else today: citizen journalism, i.e., blogging.

As a Journalism student and someone looking to enter the field professionally AND someone who is studying journalistic ethics, citizen journalism is something I have hell of strong sentiments about. Granted, most of you are probably fellow food bloggers, and thus anything you or I write isn’t exactly going to completely destroy the reputation of a public figure or potentially violate any journalistic ethics, but it is my view that bloggers still have certain responsibilities to their audiences, be they newsgatherers, food reviewers, casual film critics or otherwise.

Thus, here are a few suggestions for those of you looking to blog ethically or, at the very least, in a helpful manner.

1) Minimize Harm: Hey, I love linking to other blogs, don’t you? Sharing awesome blog finds is a cool thing, and a nice way to help a fellow blogger get traffic. But, whenever you link to another blog, please make sure you know who you’re sending your audience along to; they are a lot of people on the internet who are a) gullible and/or b) very desperate for solutions and take any kind of hope they find on the internet as gospel. So, when you find that Acai Berry blog author who is just OMG SO EXCITED SHE LOST 50 POUNDS IN 3 MINUTES WITH ACAI BERRY!, take a moment to determine whether this blog is a) a safe place to send your readers and b) legitimate. If you haven’t already heard, there has been a recent rash of weight loss-oriented companies creating fake blogs as a way to promote their products, so take the time to double check whether your new, potential blogosphere buddy is actually real.

2) Act Independently: Is anyone here familiar with Avenue Q? I am not really, because I am not a person who is cultured. I sit around on my ass and watch re-runs of The Office and scoff at the prospect of “musicals” in a “theater” filled with people who wear “monocles.” Anyway, there is a song in said musical, I think, that goes “Everyone is a little bit racist!” This is true. Everyone is also a little bit biased, and it’s YOUR job to disclose said biases, particularly when they involve conflicts of interest due to commerical influences. Did you get that tasty, tasty chocolate you’re reviewing for free from the company that makes said delicious product? Then, you are obligated to inform your readers because, like it or not, the fact that you got it for free may have influenced your opinion, whether you realize it or want to admit it or not. Also, this is now the law, so just do it.

3) Be Accountable: Everyone is a little bit biased, and everyone also makes mistakes (except me, as I am perfect and amazing). Did you promote a product that actually contains cyanide? It sucks to be you, but it’s your job to inform the public of the truth so as to prevent further harm. Did a person call you out on a factual error you made on your blog via a comment on a post? Don’t delete said comment; encourage dialogue. THIS IS THE INTERNET, NOT CHINA, and if you censor legitimate criticism (key word: legitimate; don’t feel as though you need to feed the trolls) then you’re not doing anyone any favors.

If you’re interested in the source of some of these rules/interested in more ethical guidelines pertaining to journalism, check out the Code of Ethics produced by the Society of Ethical Journalists. Also, I hope this did not come off as super pretentious; I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO BE A BETTER BLOGGER BLOO HOO HOO.

See No Evil

So, originally I had said I was going to have an official “weigh day” on Thursday, but I’ve been tracking my weight since my binge and found that I was back down to 129.6 this morning. Of course, I was very pleased, but over the day I started to become really anxious that some minor fluctuation in my weight would throw me back over 130 by Thursday, even if I continued to eat well. I’m not sure why I became so anxious—maybe because the day turned out to be full of some small mishaps and I was anxious about those things, and the anxiety just spread to my weight—but I just decided to “lock in” my weight, if you will, and have today be my weigh in day and not weigh myself again before I go home. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. It probably sounds foolish—I’m not going to change how I eat for the next two days (I’m still going to count calories just to make sure I don’t go overboard before going home), but I’m not going to weigh myself again before I leave for home. As far as I’m concerned, I will weigh 129.6 pounds when I go to the wedding, and I’m pleased as punch.

I just … don’t feel like worrying about the scale for the next few days. Sometimes you just need a break from the numbers. Besides, Tuesdays are going to be my weigh in day between now and December (it just works out well with Thanksgiving/the days I go home), so I needed to switch to Tuesday weigh ins sometime!

Anyway, I’m going to give myself five days of intuitive eating this week and, who knows—maybe if I eat like a normal person, I won’t gain that much weight this weekend. I certainly shouldn’t, but I’m used to using celebratory events as an excuse to binge, and this weekend will be my first big test with intuitive eating.

My knee felt a little wonky today, and I’m worried I might have overdone it with my mileage this week. But, I only did some Yoga today, so I’m hoping I’ll be OK to go for my “Endurance” run tomorrow (every week, I have one running session where I do intervals and one where I just run for as long as I can). I’m looking forward to my run for a change; after today, I have some steam to blow off. The day started off well enough, but as the day progressed …

1. Some dude took issue with a lead in an article I wrote for the Justice. Whatevs. Everyone is a critic.

2. The girl who I wrote the article about claimed via an online comment that I misquoted her, even though I referenced a recorded interview whenever I quoted her. This really bothers me, because any future employers may Google me and see the comment and be all, “Oh hai this chick cant be trusted to quote ppl proprly.” That, and I would never quote someone unless I were 100% sure the quote was correct. Grr! My journalistic dignity!

3. The Brandeis library contacted me and told me I owed them $6 in overdue charges … for a recorder I returned on Saturday. WTF? They better not try to make me replace it: I do NOT have the money to pay for their inability to put things away.

4. The girl using the one operational dryer in our dorm decided to run her clothes through the dryer a SECOND TIME when I was waiting to dry my clothes. So, rather than let my clothes sit in the washing machine for an hour, I just decided to hang them up in my room. There are now undergarments everywhere. Thanks, rude person.

Aggravating day, begone! Is it time for bed yet?

Brandeis Lecturers: Hank Klibanoff

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a journalism related thang up in here, so I decided to put up a piece I wrote for class on a lecturer that came to Brandeis. Hank Klibanoff—who came to Brandeis on Oct. 8th—is the author of The Race Beat, a book that won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History. The book primarily concerns the evolution of the press’ coverage of race-related news, and Klibanoff’s lecture had a similiar focus.

I’ve been trying to attend events like these as frequently as possible this year; I’ve come to realize that not everyone has the opportunities I do to hear such influential people speak, and also that after I graduate I’ll rarely have the opportunity to attend academic events like this. Anyway, here’s the article. I’m not so keen on the introduction, but I wanted a soft lead rather than a generic hard one.*

*A “soft lead” is generally an introduction to an article that takes a narrative or anecdotal approach, whereas a “hard lead” is composed of basic information like who, where, when and what; you’ll see it used in the vast majority of serious news pieces (i.e., those concerning tragedy)/breaking news.

The racially diverse group of students, community members and faculty packed into the seats and aisles of Pollack Auditorium last Thursday would not have been allowed to mingle during the era talked about by the evening’s lecturer, Hank Klibanoff; rather, the crowd’s attempt to convene would have led to heckling at the very least and possibly even an unfortunate part in one of the cold cases mentioned by Klibanoff during his talk.

Over the course of the evening, Klibanoff—author of The Race Beat, which won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History—discussed the unsolved murders of racial minorities during World War II and the 1960s, as it is these cases that have become the focus of Klibanoff’s new documentary: The Cold Case: The Truth and Justice Project.

The goal of project, said Klibanoff, is “not to win fresh prosecutions. … Our [the reporters’] goal is to get right with history, to fill in all the gaps,” and to bring to light those killers who escaped prosecution and the “judgment of history.”

These untried criminals number more than many would like to think; during the civil rights era, the federal presence in the South gathered evidence against many murderers and generated reports that were in turn given to local authorities for the purpose of prosecuting the aforementioned offenders. However, once this evidence was turned over, the authorities would claim that the evidence provided was insufficient. Essentially, people were rarely prosecuted for the death of an African-American.

“It is hard to overstate how dangerous a time it was for blacks,” said Klibanoff.

One such victim of the age was Wharlest Jackson, an African-American man killed for having received a promotion over two white men in 1967. The case remains unsolved, and in the four minute Cold Case clip shown by Klibanoff at the conclusion of his lecture, the need for resolution is made clear when Jackson’s son asks his interviewer, “Wouldn’t you want to know who killed your father?”

Klibanoff prefaced his introduction of the film with a brief history of significant moments in the civil rights movement and the coverage they received from the press. However, the “race beat,” said Klibanoff, began “far outside the outside the south, and nowhere near a newsroom;” an initial examination of race was launched by a board of white men employed at the Carnegie Corporation in New York who were intrigued by the way in which America was “beating back the devil of the Depression” but still struggling with the “Negro Problem.”

The group launched a “full scale, full tilt study of race” in the South, which was led by Swedish politician Gunnar Myrdal. And, it was Myrdal’s 1944 book on the subject, An American Dilemma, that later provided the inspiration for Klibanoff’s own investigation. On page 48 of his work, Myrdal states “to get publicity is of the highest strategic importance to the Negro people,” and it is this line that sparked Klibanoff’s own study.

It wasn’t until Rosa Parks refused to get off of a bus that the race beat began to even vaguely resemble the news coverage that many people associate with the civil rights movement. And while the press flocked to see Autherine Lucy ascend the steps of the University of Alabama, Martin Luther King, Jr., struggled to receive coverage by the press.

However, while it took some time for the press to widen its scope of the race beat, it did eventually cover those issues that would “shock and shake” the necessary figures. For instance, said Klibanoff, after Attorney General Robert Kennedy encountered a story detailing transgressions against African-Americans by a Southern sheriff, Kennedy ensured that the man was faced with charges of suppression and intimidation.

The story certainly reinforced the idea presented by Professor Maura Jane Farrelly (JOUR) at the beginning of the lecture, that journalism can play a key role in democracy and forces us to reconcile ideals with realities.”

Use your stove; there are kitchen-less kids in college.

For the most part, Brandeis is a pretty rad place. But, whenever I look at other food blogs and see the authors’ delightful kitchen-made culinary masterpieces, I turn on my school like a small child denied candy.

“Everyone else has a kitchen! I WANT ONE!”

“No, you’ll burn down the whole goddamned building!”

And then I throw myself down on the ground and cry and cry and cry, because I want a kitchen in my dorm.

Wait, let me rephrase that; I have a kitchen, it’s just a really shitty one composed of a hot plate perched on a windowsill and a toaster. You see, at home, I’m actually a pretty big regular practitioner of the culinary arts. I love making healthy meals like stir fry, so when I initially started college it was a bit of a culture shock to not have a kitchen; indeed, probably half the reason I gained weight was just because I was so stressed out by the inability to make my own food/I didn’t know how to find nutritious meals at the dining halls. I’ve adjusted by now, but my meals are pretty boring and, occasionally, unsatisfactory as a result of not having a place to cook. So, when you get tired of hearing about my having had hotdogs for dinner the fifth night in a row, don’t blame me; blame Brandeis.

Granted, the school does have some redeeming qualities; tomorrow, I get to start my day with a Yoga class courtesy of the school’s Physical Education department. And, recently, the school began releasing the nutritional information for certain foods prepared in the dining halls. The school also provides students with a nutritionist, who I plan on going to see within the next two weeks about transitioning to intuitive eating. Still, the school could stand to take some more strides in the nutrition department.

Ugh, I need to get to the Justice office; for the paper’s editorial staff, today is our weekly “production day,” i.e., the day we put together the the latest issue. For some editors, this means being at the office from noon to 4 a.m. As the Arts Editor, though, I’ll hopefully be done by midnight. Fingers crossed!

Ye Olde Second Post: Or, the Aftermath of an Interview

So, as I’m sure you could tell from the introductory post, this blog is going to be somewhat about my issues with food. However, on those days when it’s not about my diet, it’s going to be about either a) my love of writing or b) my life as a college senior. Or, it’s going to be about a multitude of other things, like the succesful parts of my weight loss plan or my excercise regimen or ice cream, because ice cream is delicious. Today, however, this blog is going be about the first item on that list.

I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of a Jane of All Trades, and perhaps pride myself on this, too; over the years, I’ve dabbled in more extra curricular activities (violin, tap, Irish step, guitar, horse back riding …), languages (Indonesian, German, Italian, Spanish, French …) and clubs than I care to think about. Of course, the flip side of that personality trait is that while I may know a little about everything, I don’t know much about anything. But, my flaws aside, it’s this desire to know a little somethin’ somethin’ about 90% of our existence that initially drew me to journalism.

When I first joined the Justice—the independent student newspaper of Brandeis U., that place I live/work/take classes at—I viewed it as just as an outlet that might help polish my writing skills during the pursuit of a Creative Writing major. However, as I took assignments, I came to realize how much I loved exploring different areas of study and being able to switch topics of study on a regular basis. One day, I would attend a lecture on German-Jewish dialogue, and the next I would be reviewing films. Granted, in the real world of journalism I’m sure one’s writing career isn’t that diverse at first, but the underlying concept of there being diverse assignments persists.

As an editor for the Justice, I don’t have much time for writing, so I’d forgotten a bit about that particular aspect of my love for journalism. But, after my interview with Elizabeth B., I was reminded of this initial attraction to the field. B., a convert to Islam and the subject of choice for my next beat story,* gave me an incredibly interesting perspective on the life and challenges faced by Muslims when I was expecting only a rundown on the life of Islam’s Brandeisian practitioners. She told me not only about her conversion experience, but also of the general misconceptions other students bring to her regarding Islam and the political charge that exists at Brandeis between various religious groups. The interview lasted 30 minutes, which isn’t particularly long in the grand journalistic scheme of things, but it was a very educational 30 minutes.

In other news: Glee and So You Think You Can Dance are on tonight, whoot! Be social? Pah! There’s television to be seen!

*I should note that I’m currently enrolled in a journalism course called “The Contemporary World in Print,” which requires us to follow an on campus “beat” and write regular articles about said beat. My beat? The chaplaincy. How many times can I use beat in this footnote? Beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat. Beat THAT.