Saturday, November 15, 2008

REPORTER BLOG: Last Day, Lasting Impressions

By: Shana O'Malley

I’ve heard that occasionally as a reporter I might find stories that impact me on a personal level or hit close to home. In my four years as a journalism student I had never had that experience, until the very last day of MidDay this quarter. I was assigned the county commissioners meeting, which I thought would most likely be about local roads and businesses, I was wrong.

The Problem
As I was standing in the small room trying to stay focused and figure out what the commissioners were talking about, I suddenly heard a word that sparked my attention…puppies! Unfortunately, what they had to say following that wasn’t exactly what a dog lover like me wanted to hear.

Apparently, a few weeks ago, the dog shelter adopted out several puppies that had the parvo virus and some of them died. The virus is often deadly to puppies because they have no immunity to the virus and it attacks their systems very fast. The dog warden and a few volunteers were at the meeting and explained to the commissioners that the puppies were not vaccinated before they were adopted out because the shelter ran out of the shot.

A volunteer group called Friends of the Shelter supplies the shots when they can, but they pay for them through donations and there isn’t always enough money. The purpose of their meeting was to try and get the county to help pay for the shots so healthy puppies can be adopted into the community.

Too Close to Home
This really caught my attention for a few reasons. First, a few years ago, I adopted a puppy (Lucy) from a place back home, only to have her die 6 days later from parvo. It left me completely heartbroken and it left my parents with several hundred dollars in vet bills. The worst part of it all was how miserable it was to watch Lucy battle the virus.

The vet concluded that our puppy had caught the virus at the shelter before we adopted her. We had to bleach our entire home and throw all of her belongings away. We also had to wait six months before we could get another dog. Being at the commissioners meeting was like reliving my Lucy experience all over again.

The second reason this concerned me was because I adopted my own puppy from the shelter last year (luckily she received the shot). I feel like adopting is such a good way to save a dog in your local community and I think other adopters would agree that the last thing you expect when you try and do a good thing is to end up with a sad an disappointing experience.

The Happy Ending
At the end of the meeting the commissioners decided that they will help provide money for the shots either by raising dog license fees or raising puppy drop-off fees. Hopefully, the resolution will allow the shelter to continue to do a great job at finding healthy and happy homes for the local dogs. As for me, I have two healthy (and very spoiled mutts) at home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


By Amanda Fondriest

We have to write four blogs for this course. Well, we don’t have to, but it is a necessary requirement for those overachievers aspiring for nothing short of an A. So, here I sit, trying to figure out what to write about. Do I do the cliché goodbye message, the lessons I have learned, the heart felt thank you to my instructors and fellow classmates? Or do I do what I do best--write what I am thinking until the underlying theme of what I feel on this, my very last Athens MidDay broadcast as a reporter comes out? I believe the latter is the far better choice.

Sometimes Procrastination Pays Off
If I had listened to mom and dad all these years when they told me to quit procrastinating, I would not have been able to write this blog. You can’t write what you feel until you experience it.

You can’t anticipate an emotion, a feeling, a state of mind. If I know one thing for certain, it’s that anticipation always leads to let downs. It doesn’t matter if it ends up better or worse than you had expected, it’s never what you expected.

What Is
Life isn’t about what was or what will be, it’s only about what is. This point has become blatantly obvious to me as I approach the end of it all, the end of my college career. I can no longer rest on who I was, basing my future plans on the dreams I had as a freshman.

As a freshman, I changed my major from magazine journalism to broadcast—a decision I will never regret. To say I love this work is an understatement, but to say that I still want to do this for a living is a lie.

I have no idea what’s ahead of me, so I’m keeping my options open. Applying for graduate schools, law schools, and jobs, I should be able to figure it out once I know what is—and what is not—an option. I have always been a very spontaneous decision maker.

Accepted into Ohio Northern University, I decided after enrolling in courses and attending my orientation that it simply wasn’t for me. So, I came to Ohio University. See, spontaneity.

I don’t know who I will be come this spring. I don’t even know who I will be tomorrow. But, I do know who I am. I am someone who needs choices and options, and I am planning for my impulsive decisions. So, I guess what I am trying to say is that my life’s mantra—hope for the best, plan for the worst—not only applies in the field of journalism but to all of life’s big decisions.

REPORTER BLOG: Change of State, Change of Mind

Molly Smith

With all of the election coverage I have done as a reporter this quarter (and rhyming too apparently) I really have learned a lot about the process. This was the first election I was old enough to vote in so obviously I was beyond excited to do my part and pursue my rights as an American. I avidly followed the polls to see which candidate was winning what states especially in the month of October with all of the toss-up states.

I am originally from Vermont, a predictably blue state, so it was exciting being in a toss-up state and not having an obvious winner in August. Ohio is made up of such a huge mix of people. The candidates were here several times visiting different areas of the state speaking about their ideas and policies.

This state has a history of having heavy weight in the decision of Republican candidates. Both Obama and McCain and their VP candidates came and spoke about topics that hit home here in Ohio; creating jobs, healthcare, the energy crisis, and tax levies. Both had large crowds at their rallies, and wisely chose the areas they knew they had the greatest pull in.

One of the stories we talked about covering for MidDay, which I’m not sure if we did or not, was about people like me registering to vote in the state they are in. So instead of filling out an absentee ballot and sending it back to Vermont, I would have done an Ohio ballot and let my vote count in the battleground state of Ohio.
I think this is a great idea for students like me who are away from home and located in a more instrumental state in the presidential election. I’m proud to be a voter of the state of Vermont, but if I could do it again I would most definitely register in Ohio because of it’s almost 10x more electoral votes.

OU Alum Does a 360 at the Kennedy Museum of Art

Carlyn Lynch

Thomas R. Schiff graduated from Ohio University in 1970 with a business degree and a few photography and art classes. More than 30 years later, he is the chairman and CEO of John J. & Thomas R. Schiff & Co., Inc. as well as director of the Cincinnati Financial Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has found success in the business world as well as the time and vision to be a successful artist.

His work is now on display in the Kennedy Museum of Art. Schiff uses a Hulcherama 360 panoramic camera to photograph beautiful structures and completely redefine the notion of architectural space. Most of his work is extremely colorful and sharp, unless it's in motion. His photograph of Times Square is one of the liveliest photos on display. The hustling traffic is a blur of neon streaking along beautifully contoured lines, twisting their way around the focal point of the photo.

He began exploring panoramic photography in 1994 to find a fresh way of expressing his artistic, architecturally-inspired vision. His interest in photography began in childhood and his early photos featured black and white images of storefronts.

The panoramic camera has allowed him to take his work to the next level by offering something new and innovative to the world of photography. He sums up his philosophy on photography with these words, "Sometimes a picture's most critical factor is when it changes your relationship to what is familiar or thought to be understood."

Our brains want our eyes to immediately recognize what is in front of them so that we can clearly identify what we see and file it away. Schiff photographs beautiful places; from a church in Columbus, IN to the National Cathedral in Washington D.C all in an effort to frustrate your impatient mind and give your eyes time to study and soak in the beauty of his photos. His work allows the viewer to surround themselves with some of the most beautiful places in the country while standing in rural Ohio.

The Kennedy Museum of Art is the only art museum in Appalachian Ohio. Educational program assistant Nora Merecicky says, "We like to think of ourselves as a beacon of our region, a destination for the arts and cultural happenings."

The museum is in the process of building a higher profile in the community. Education curator Sally Delgado says the schools in the area are very aware of the museum's resources, but they would like more families and people in the community to be aware of the exhibitions and artist lectures that take place throughout the year.

Nora Merecicky on the Kennedy Museum's Educational Prominence

REPORTER BLOG: It's Over?!?!?!

Whitney Hare

It's hard to believe how fast 10 weeks flew by this quarter! This has by far been the best quarter I've experienced at OU so far. While I knew I would gain experience in this class, I never realized how much. We did everything this quarter. We all got the chance to see what our careers would be like in the real world.... for the most part!

Every TV station out in the real world might not have the same protective bubble as Athens, Ohio... but every station does have reporters, anchors, producers... etc, etc. We worked as a functioning newsroom. We had technical difficulties. We had some great shows, and some not so great shows. Regardless of what was going on in each of our individual lives we went on air at noon.

This class taught us what to do under pressure, what to do when there's no stories and what to do when things don't go quite according to plan. We were fortunate to not have to take any other classes this quarter. In life, you don't have class to interfere with work. Obviously, you'll have life that interferes, but life interferes with class too. Because MidDay was the only thing we had to focus on, we were able to give it the full attention it deserved.

I'm looking forward to next quarter in MidDay too, but it just won't be the same. I can't believe I'll only be in our newsroom two days a week instead of four. I can't believe I have to take other classes. I can't believe all my friends who anchor, producer, do sports and weather won't be in this class with me any longer.

All in all, I can't believe it's over. I'm anxious to go home for the six week break and spend time with my friends and family, but then once I get back, I'm six weeks closer to graduation and the real world. That is something I am NOT ready for. I just have to remind myself to enjoy what's left of college and take it all in. It's all going to be over before I know it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

REPORTER BLOG: Watching the Beer Garden Blossom

By: Shana O'Malley

When I was first assigned the beer garden story I was relieved that I wasn't going to have to lug the camera Uptown in full costume in the middle of the Halloween party because it was something I could cover during the day.

At the same time, I was wondering if what was in store for me was really going to be any less discomforting. Beer, plus costumes, plus thousands of out-of-towners, pretty much guarantees that any tipsy Batman or Little Bo Peep was going to accost me and my camera. Luckily, I had my partner Danielle and the two of us were determined to go Uptown and get the good story. We were totally ready to unveil the highly anticipaed beer garden, that is until the nice security guard asked for our ID’s...

Oh Yeah, Those
While Danielle ran back to grab her ID, I decided to try and get a few interviews out of the way. Let’s just say after a few drinks, the “Cowardly Lion” from the Wizard of OZ was more than outgoing for our Midday camera. Actually, all the patrons at the beer garden gave me really great interviews about what they thought about it, and why they thought it was a good idea for the city to host.

City Harvests Money from the Beer Garden
After our interviews with the patrons, Danielle and I decided to speak with city officials to find out if they thought the beer garden could cause more harm than good because it was another drinking outlet for partiers.

I think we were both surprised to see the great effort that the city put into securing the garden. There was one deputy sheriff when we were there but two were scheduled for the evening shift. They also had handfuls of volunteers who were checking ID’s at the front gate as well as at the beer stand. Besides being another “place to hit up on court street”, city officials told us that they decided to do the garden because it was a great way to help the city make up some of the money it spends on extra security and clean-up during the annual Halloween Party.

I think the garden was successful and apparently so did the city. The day after the Halloween party, city officials say they made about six-thousand-dollars from the beer garden. They also had no reports of any problems at the garden so hopefully we will see it return next year.

REPORTER BLOG: Honoring Local Heroes

By: Shana O'Malley

Getting into the Spirit
I have to admit, when I woke up on the crisp Veterans Day morning I was less than thrilled about going to cover the parade (after all, it was my day off school) but, when I got up to Court Street, my mood changed quickly. High school bands, veterans groups, elementary school kids with banners and floats designed by local businesses flooded the Uptown street. It was hard not to smile and have a good time. It wasn’'t the music and the candy throwing that made me grin, it was the people there who lined the street in freezing temperatures to honor their local vets.

Little Girl, Big Support
As the ceremony was about to begin, I noticed a little girl standing in front of me. She looked about four or five and she clung to her grandpa who was dressed in civil war looking garb. I watched her put her tiny hand over her heart and speak every word of the Pledge of Allegiance so passionately. It really made me wonder what the day meant to the little girl.

When I looked around at the crowd that had gathered by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument I realized that it wasn't just the girl, but it was everyone there who was passionate. Everyone there was there for an important reason, to salute their loved ones as well as strangers who have protected them.

Local Vets
While I was Uptown I spoke with a few local vets who made me realize that I really don’t know anything about the military! The guys were nice enough to explain to me what the American Legion was as well as why they think it is important for the city to commemorate the holiday.

One man I interviewed said something to me that really stuck, he said, "freedom doesn’t come cheap". I have heard similar lines like that before, but the way he said it, so matter of fact, really made me understand what he was talking about.

After it All
After the two hour event I was chilled to the bone (I actually think I am still thawing from it) but my heart felt a little warmer. It was really touching to see the city come together to support their heroes.

REPORTER BLOG: I Lugged that Camera for the Last Time

Carlyn Lynch

Athens MidDay is coming to a close. I think almost all of my classmates would back me in saying that it will be a relief not having to drag that heavy camera case and tripod all over Athens. I had broken blood vessels all over my shoulders after my camera and I followed a college tour all over campus. I am very thankful for my godsend of a roommate who got up with me at 8am some mornings to drive the camera case and me to the RTV building.

I feel better now that I've vented about the camera case, so I can say some nice things. MidDay is such great preparation for real world newsroom jobs. I have been able to report, write stories, produce graphics, edit video, work on the web; all under a daily deadline. Not many schools produce a live daily newscast, and although we've had our share of technical difficulties, we put on a pretty good show.

Everyone actually works together really well. The high pressure environment is great practice for learning how to work well with others when you're stressed out. Putting out a newscast is definitely a team effort and it's really rewarding when you put a good show together.

The things I value most in my life are my relationships with other people. I have been very fortunate to make some good friends in this class. Even the people I didn't really get close to I have a lot of respect for and have learned from almost everyone I work with.

I haven't had a single negative interaction with anyone. I am normally the kind of person who prefers to work by myself, but I have loved working in T.V./Web reporting teams. It was really nice having a second brain to come up with ideas for stand-ups or ask interview questions that I didn't think to ask.

Throughout the quarter I have been able to fine tune my reporting and editing skills. It wasn't until the last time that I worked as video editor that I felt completely comfortable matching video to the scripts, making sure I had enough pad and timing the SOTs and voice over exactly.

I am able to produce packages much quicker and my mind works much differently than it did at the beginning of the quarter. I am much better at writing to video, asking the right questions, and constructing my scripts. It has been a lot of work, but I feel like I have developed a skill set that is useful for a career in broadcast and life in general.

There is a lot about television news that I really love. I still get excited when I'm in the control room or getting ready for a live shot. I love telling peoples' stories and talking to them about the things they care about. I am a believer in good journalism in a time when a lot of the world has lost faith in the product.

The most frustrating thing for me about working in television is the rapid-fire package turnover. I would like to do more long form work. Sometimes you feel like you're telling stories that aren't really newsworthy or you don't have enough time to tell the really good stories thoroughly.

This class has made me realize that I need to find my niche. I would like to use the skills I've developed to work in a more creative or focused communications outlet. There are a lot of different ways I could go. I know that the communications/journalism field is where I belong but I'm not sure which avenue within the field I would find most fulfilling.

I'm not ready to commit to broadcast news and I want to keep learning new skills while I'm still in college and have the ability to continue my education. Because of this, I have decided to do the Carr Van Anda program in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, which will allow me to graduate with a more comprehensive journalism degree including broadcasting, online journalism, and public relations. I'm hoping that this will make me more versatile and allow me to find my place in this career field.

REPORTER BLOG: Proud to Be An American

Carlyn Lynch

For so long I have been painfully aware of the resentment most of the world has felt toward America. It was never so clear to me as it was when I went abroad last winter. I definitely felt marginalized because of my citizenship. Europeans are especially critical of George W. Bush and unfortunately, because Americans elected him for two terms, they view the people of the United States in the same harsh light.

Everyone I met over there wanted to talk politics and it was always interesting to hear the international perspective on American foreign and domestic policy. People in other countries are so much more informed about us than we are about them.

One man I met said to me, "There are two worlds, America and the rest of the world," so it makes sense that the other world was extremely vigilant during our world's presidential election.

Every time I would have one of those overseas political conversations, inevitably the person I was talking to would ask me what I thought about Barack Obama and almost every time they asked there was a glimmer of hope in their eyes. It was my experience that Obama was overwhelmingly favored by the international community. This theory was further validated by the fervor following Obama's election to the white house.

The most exciting part of the election for me was the outpouring emotion felt around the world. World leaders were falling all over themselves to praise the new president-elect and videos of crowds around the world bursting into applause were all over the internet. In one day, America's image was restored.

I was still riding this wave of emotion the day after the election when I was assigned to cover the international reaction to Obama. Ohio University is a great place to uncover international students and faculty, and fellow reporter Danielle Sills and I were able to interview four people from four different countries about their thoughts on Obama.

Only one interviewee said that her country may have benefitted more from a Republican president, but she personally favored Obama's ideals. The other three could not have been more excited about the president-elect. I actually cried after interviewing Ismail Elmahdi, an African faculty member, who was quite emotional discussing what an Obama presidency would mean for the world.

Abdul Warsame, a Somalian student, said something about the election that I have never heard an international person say, "It made me want to be an American so I could have some part in making the change." It feels good to have people around the world be proud of us again.

The hope that Americans have given the world is so powerful, it's difficult not to get emotional when you think about what the new White House means to everybody everywhere.

It is a huge victory for America's ideal of equality to have a biracial man elected president. It is proof of how far our country has come in the last century. The only thing that concerns me is hateful words and actions by racially motivated groups. I hope that this huge step our country has taken is not marred by hatefulness or violence.

One of the most concerning things for me following the election was the reaction of some of my peers on Facebook. There was a lot of excitement or gracious acceptance surrounding Obama's election, but there was also a surprising amount of hateful or divisive messages.

One "girl next door" who I went to high school with had a digitally altered image of Obama titled "Obama Bin Laden" as her Facebook picture with an accompanying message reading, "Forgive them Lord, they know not what they've done."

That kind of thinking is very scary to me. There is going to be a segment of the population waiting for Obama to fall on his face. He is inheriting a lot of really difficult problems from the current administration and I hope the country can come together behind our new president to fix those problems and look to the future, not cling to past prejudice.

REPORTER BLOG: Veterans Day Personal Memories

By Amanda Fondriest

At the beginning of each news day, the day’s reporters meet with the News Director, Producer, and Assignment Editor to determine not only what gets covered but also who covers what. During Monday’s meeting, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to cover the Veterans Day festivities. Was I excited to stand outside for three hours in the freezing cold? Not so much—I forgot my gloves at home and am far too cheap to invest in another pair. But covering the event meant having Monday night with my friends. It also meant fulfilling what I viewed to be my obligation as the granddaughter of a veteran.

Glad I Went
Waking up at 7AM wasn’t really the highlight of my day, and neither was the thirty degree weather. However, when I got to Court Street, grabbed a hot chocolate and a bagel, and settled into the parade audience, I realized that attending this parade was going to be about more than getting the grade.

I hadn’t celebrated Veterans Day or Memorial Day since my grandfather’s passing in 2002. And as I stood there freezing, I couldn’t help but remember my last Memorial Day with my grandpa.

Memorial Day 2002
Each year, my middle school back home chooses two eighth grade students to read at the Memorial Day ceremony. I was selected to recite the poem ‘In Flander’s Field’ by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD when I was in the eighth grade. While I can still remember the poem word for word from hours of recital at home, the thing I remember most about that Memorial Day was my grandfather’s face.

When I arrived at the VFW to ride in the ‘limousine’ (aka hearse), the members kept asking if I was Pops’ granddaughter. Upon replying ‘yes’, they would tell me stories about my grandfather. As long as I had known him, he was Granddad: the fisherman with a passion for gardening and grilling out. But to them, he was Pops—the Vietnam War vet and the VFW's resident ‘Mr. Fix-It’ and comedian.

As I stood on the stage reciting my poem, knees knocking (I had a terrible case of stage fright until my freshman public speaking class here at OU), I only saw Granddad, standing by the big pine tree, camcorder in hand, smiling. You see, Granddad had one of those smiles that you couldn’t help but return, and he knew it. So while I stood up there, nervous as hell, he smiled: he knew I would have to stop thinking about my nerves and return it.

Granddad passed away unexpectedly that year—just a few months after Memorial Day. We had a military funeral for him. The taps played. The guns fired. Then they gave Grandma the folded flag. That was it, that was all we got. Granddad had been laid to rest.

Tuesday’s Coverage
I automatically thought of him Tuesday. Is it possible to honor the nation’s veterans without thinking of those you know personally? Before the event, I had only thought of him in passing--just that he was a veteran, just that he gave twenty years of service to our country. It wasn’t until those guns fired, the taps played, and the colors retired that I remembered him like this.

And when the essay winner stood nervously reciting her work, somewhere in my memory Granddad smiled from across the green, knowing I would have to return it, that it would replace my tears with a smile and the sad memories with the good.

REPORTER BLOG Election Night Coverage

Molly Smith

Lucky for me on election Tuesday my fellow reporter Alex and I were assigned to cover the Democratic Party at Skippers Bar and Grille. I had never been to anything like this before so I was really looking forward to it. I mean how better to celebrate your candidate's win than with other supporters!

But being the professional reporters we are, we weren’t there to participate in the drinking and carrying on, we were there to cover all of this. Everyone was posted up at the bar or at tables in the restaurant, glued to the television screens listening to the CNN anchors and reporters with their updates on who was winning what state.

Alex and I got there at around 7:30p.m. when the polls closed because you never knew when news is going to break and just like Aerosmith we did not want to miss a thing. We were there for the first states to report their results, and then there was a break until around 9:00p.m. when the polls that closed at 7:30p.m. were ready to report their winners. It was very exciting, but the states in the beginning were going pretty much as planned in the polls.

When it came time for Pennsylvania things started to get interesting. Around this time the restaurant started filling up. The College Democrats were there along with campaign volunteers for State House candidate Debbie Philips. She arrived and the room exploded with energy. The local election results wouldn’t come until much later in the night and early morning, but updates were coming in about every half-hour.

Philips was leading the vote early in the evening. The college democrats gave out funny awards for every individual’s personal effort in the campaigning, and Debbie thanked them for all of their volunteered time. I was really surprised at how good she was with names. She knew every one of these volunteers and I remember thinking “wow talk about thanking all of the little people.”

I don’t remember the exact order, but when Obama won Ohio and Florida the place exploded! Tears and screaming and shouting and drinking were the most common reaction. This was my first election so I was super excited that the candidate I voted for did win, but I wasn’t about to break out in tears about it.

I guess I am more cut out for sports and entertainment than for economic and political coverage. I know that I do understand the passion these people feel--I get that way about the MLB, NBA and NFL championships. So that’s what I kept telling myself. “Molly don’t judge them, this is their Super Bowl. This is their World Series.”

We didn’t hear the final results for Debbie’s State House race until the next day which she did end up winning, but I know that she enjoyed spending the night with her supporters even if it was an early celebration. Needless to say it was an exciting night. Witnessing the election of the president-elect and covering the people who cared most about it was definitely an experience I will never forget.

REPORTER BLOG: Speaking out in Style

by Alex Moorhead

Last weekend I had the opportunity to cover a very unique and interesting story. It was called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes." Men marching against sexual abuse, but the interesting part was they did it in high heels. I was surprised at how many men were willing to walk a mile in heels in the cold weather to make a point.

Coming to a Realization in "Her Shoes"
We had planned for a while to cover this event, and I was lucky to be the reporter who got to do it. When I was interviewing the men who participated I was so happy to hear what they had to say. Many of them were complaining about the pain of walking in "her shoes," but said it was so worth it to speak out against rape and sexual abuse. I admired each and every guy who was chanting to end this violence.

The Vice President of OU Student Affairs, Kent Smith, said he felt different after the march. He said that thinking about something that many men don't need to worry about from a woman's perspective made him realize this problem is bigger than he imagined.

Speaking out for the Scared
Watching the men speak out against something so underreported, something so serious, something that many women and even men are afraid of made me proud that they went to my college.

Serious Issue with a Fun Statement
Even though seeing men walking in high heels was funny--watching them wobble and have an awkwardness in their step--I think it was a great idea to have fun with a serious topic. These men were obviously serious about the issue though because you could hear it in the intensity of their chants.

No Better Place
They donated money and goods to the battered women's shelter My Sister's Place. I thought that was just putting the cherry on top of a great movement. These women deserve better than how they've been treated and they know now that they're being supported, that people are thinking about them and want to help them.

REPORTER BLOG: No 6:00 AM Snooze Button

Sara Shookman

My alarm rang at 6:40 a.m. this morning. Snooze was not an option. It was time to get up.

"Why so early?" screamed my cold toes as they hit the floor, outside of the warm bed.

Time for basketball practice.

The Student Athlete
Of course I'm complaining. Because at 7 a.m. this morning, I wasn't running or dribbling or working on my jump shot. And I hadn't already sat through a half-hour of game films.

I was just holding the camera. I was there for 20 minutes tops. And no offense to the lady Bobcats, but I probably won't be back anytime soon.

But everyday those college athletes wake up at 6 a.m. to get to practice on time. Then they go to class just like the rest of the full-time students here on campus. They are expected to perform -- in the classroom and on the court. No one cuts them a break.

I was never talented in the sports arena, so I can't imagine the dedication the college athlete must have for his or her sport not to hit the snooze at 6 a.m.

For many Ohio University athletes, no matter how hard they practice, their sporting careers will end in Athens. How do those students split their lives between their academic mission and their love of the game?

These student-slash-athletes are accountable to their coaches, their professors and their performance. They spend hours each day in training. They spend weeks each season on the road. How do they balance it all?

The Student Journalist
I stood on the sidelines of this morning's practice and thought about all of this. And just when I started to feel inadequate with my own accomplishments, I remembered.
I don't go to practice each day, but I do spend a lot of time with that camera. At sporting events. At parades. At news conferences. At city council meetings.

Sometimes I'm the one at work while others are enjoying themselves. Sometimes I'm the one charged with asking the tough questions that no one wants to hear out loud.

So is the life of the student slash. Student/Journalist. Student/Mother. Student/Father. Student/Part-time Waitress. Student/Athlete.

None of us has it easy -- well maybe a few stereotypical Animal House characters. But most students are working hard at their studies and their lives outside.

So students, enjoy your holiday breaks. Whether you spend them on the court or on the couch, it's time well-deserved.

REPORTER BLOG: Sacrificing Health for Work

Danielle Sills

We've all heard the term "workaholic." But what makes a person qualified to fit this title? Is it a certain amount of hours in overtime? An unwavering need for perfection? A will to keep going when it feels right to give up?

I don't know the answer to these questions. But I've personally seen people who fall under the category of "workaholic." These extra-hard workers I've seen aren't just in movies or on TV; they exist in real life. At times, it seems like these people will keep going and going... to no end.

So where do you draw the line and decide it's time to stop working?

My Neverending Dilemma
I woke up feeling awful Monday morning. Must have been the usual end-of-the-quarter blues. Every time finals week approaches, sniffly noses crop up all over campus, and boxes of Kleenex are in higher demand than blue books. I was having one of those days where my throat was dry and itchy, and I knew it would only get worse as the day went on. That seems to be how it works. Mornings are bad, nighttime is worse.

9:00am, Monday morning - time to decide story assignments for the day. Perseverance! "I will beat this sickness," I mumbled to myself. I hoped for a good story. And while some of my fellow classmates and reporters would die for a breaking story, I would rather cover personal reactions to a historic event , find out what goes into a charity event, or explore the music scene in Athens.

I just love the personal connection that these stories give me a chance to experience. I love when I get to learn about someone's life passion or love. I love getting learning about people. These are some of the best lessons Athens MidDay has taught me.

Cloudy Skies (and Sinuses) Ahead
I waited to hear what I would be covering for my last story of the quarter. When I learned it was a city council meeting, I temporarily felt my heart drop. City council? I have to wait until 7pm to start my homework? (That's prime itchy-throat time.) And can you get any less personal than a story about a meeting? But then, I suppose my job was to take a part of that meeting and make it personal.

The meeting was long. Very long. I sat through three hours of city budget discussion. The topic I was focusing on - the fire department - was covered in the first 10 minutes of the meeting. I knew I could go home after that. But... in snuck the workaholic in me. No! This was my last story of the quarter! I was determined to make it a good one.

I waited around until after the meeting so I could personally talk to the mayor and a council member. By that time, my head felt like a cannonball, my throat was swollen to the size of a melon, and my eyes were as dry as the desert sand. But I got those interviews, and I was on to something.

The Fog (In My Head) Clears
The next morning, I slept in. I knew I needed lots of sleep to feel well enough to finish my story successfully. I went through all my video and interviews, and arranged a skeleton story before trotting off to the fire department. My interview with the fire chief fell through, and I was groggy and upset.

Yet, when I got there, the nicest lieutenant ever answered the door. He followed me around as I got some great video of fire trucks and the station. All the while, we talked about what the department struggled with on a daily basis. We talked about how the firefighters do all their own maintenance. We talked about how their budget gets cut every year, and how every year their equipment falls apart a little more.

I learned what it was like to live a day in his life. And I think that's what is so incredible about my job. I seriously get to walk in someone else's shoes every day. How many people can say they do that? Even in a story that seems so far from personalization, there is always a way to find how people are being affected. I love that. Love it.

Workaholism vs. Health
Life's really just a big balancing act, isn't it? Maybe we can have both. Maybe I can work until my legs scream for me to stop, and maybe I can catch a few extra winks in between. Maybe I can eat a doughnut and then run a couple miles. Maybe I don't have to choose.

It's something I haven't quite figured out - where to draw the line. Because every day, that line is changing. And every day, I am making decisions. Maybe I work too hard sometimes. But what I do know is that I have to follow my passions because they are what make everything worthwhile. If that means putting in the extra effort, I'll do it.

Some call it perfectionism, some people call it crazy. I call it me. And I'll settle at that.

Funding For the Fire Department, False Alarm

Ryan Scarpino

City Council met last night to discuss its budget for the 2009 year. One of the biggest issues discussed dealt with the city of Athens fire department and fire safety in general. The Athens Fire Department needs a certain amount of money every year to pay for equipment. Right now, the city does not have enough money to help fund the fire department, which is in need of a new station and more firefighters, and the city does not expect enough funding for years to come.

Mayor Paul Wiehl said, “We don’t have enough money to increase staffing and we could use a better fire station in general, so how to do it, I don’t know. We’re keeping discussion of this.”

Mayor Wiehl is concerned about fire department funding

What We Need
The fire stations, the one on Richland Avenue in particular, have seen better days. Its equipment is out of date, the roofs leak and are caving in; pipes leak on a daily basis. And to make matters worse, the bricks holding the building together are slowly breaking and the driveway leading to and from the station is cracking.

Mayor Wiehl mentioned that building a new station would be a good idea but it would take at least five years to get enough money for a new ladder truck, new equipment, more firefighters and of course the station would need to be constructed. A possible site for the station is the property located on Stimson Avenue across from Mill Street Village apartments. However, the property is very close to the Hocking River and the possibility of flooding has delayed any projects in that area.

Fire Protection?
Besides the condition of the fire stations, firefighters are concerned the lack of funding has put a dent in fire safety and protection. And though most of the false alarms come from OU buildings, the majority of those coming from burning popcorn in microwaves, the university does not copntribute any funding to fire protection. The city has suggested that OU donate a certain amount of money each year to help get new equipment because the city learned that some universities across the country chip in money to their fire departments.

Member at Large, Elahu Gosney, wants the university to chip in

Elahu Gosney, a member at large, said, “I think that students are really the ones losing out here, the ones in the older homes that have less fire safety, more electrical issues that might cause fires, and the city doesn’t have the funds to shore up our fire protection right now…We’ll meet with the university to see if there are any ways to increase the amount of money the city can spend on fire protection.”

This Could Take Years
Mayor Wiehl said that it is going to be difficult to get the university to help with funding because the university, like the city, is looking for ways to save money during this economic crisis. He also said that at some point, the two sides have to come together to develop a plan that will help both sides. But until that time comes, the city has to keep looking for grants to help with fire safety and protection, and even that could take years.

Athens MidDay tried repeatedly to contact OU officials for comment, but with the university closed on Veterans Day, and emails or phone calls the following day were not answered.

Veterans Day in Athens: How American Veterans Have Shaped the World

By Amanda Fondriest

How American veterans have shaped the world. It was not just the theme of the floats and banners at the parade: it was also memorialized in the speeches provided at the post-parade ceremony.

Winning Veteran Essay
Emma Caldwell, an Athens Middle School student, read her winning essay at Tuesday's Veterans Day ceremony. Caldwell said that when she thinks of U.S. veterans, "four words come to my mind. These words tell how I feel about these unique individuals: honor, courage, strong, and responsibility". Caldwell then went on to discuss how each of these words described American veterans.

Athens Middle School student Emma Caldwell reads her winning Veterans Day essay.

Caldwell concluded her essay, saying, "I'm proud to be a part of this country. Our veterans are people that I can be proud of. Some of the people I love most of all are veterans, like my grandfather, my dad, and several of my uncles. They are good people."

Veterans Day Address
Ohio University graduate and Athens native Brigadier General Samuel C. (Curt) Heady was asked by city officials to deliver this year's Veterans Day Address, a request he joked many of his former classmates would be surprised by. Heady began his address by saying what Athens means to him. "It's really great to be back in Athens. From this spot, I can see clearly the spot where my dad graduated in 1953, over at Mem. Aud.; the spot--Old Baker Center--where I met my wife; Galbraith Chapel, where we were married; worked part time at Chubb Hall. It's just really good to be home."

In his address, Heady discussed how Veterans Day always brings three images to his mind--the beaches of Normandy, the southern Polish Nazi concentration camps, and a VA hospital room in Washington DC.

Brigadier General Samuel Heady delivers his Veterans Day Address.

During his station in Germany, Heady visited the beaches of Normandy. "We went over Memorial Day weekend 2003, and the day was a little bit warmer than this, but it was overcast and there was a rain and it was just gloomy. And I couldn't help but think that it was appropriate weather for our visit there. Words cannot convey what it's like to visit those areas where US and Canadian and British forces began to take back Europe from the Axis powers in 1944."

On a War College trip in 1998, Heady toured the concentration camps in southern Poland, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. "Save the death of members of my family, I don't think I have ever been as moved emotionally as I was going through the concentration camps. And one cannot help but have an overwhelming sense of being grateful and thankful to the veterans for sacrificing to the extent they did to make that liberation possible."

And finally during a community service project, he met an elderly man named John who had lost all feeling from the neck down from Multiple Sclerosis contracted most likely from war life. Heady said he never heard the man complain and he remained a patriot until his death in 2006. "Regardless of whether there's public support or not, veterans give their all for us. And it's important that we recognize them on days such as today, but its also important to realize that there are a lot of veterans out there--like John--who deserve our support day in and day out."

Athens MidDay reporter Shana O'Malley reported on the Veterans Day festivities November 12, 2008.

Heady's Biography
From the Veterans Day Program
Brigadier General Samuel C. Heady was appointed Director of Support, Headquarters, Ohio Air National Guard, Beightler Armory, Columbus, Ohio, on 17 September 2007. In that capacity, he assists in coordinating, policy, guidance, and strategic planning of the 5,000 plus member Ohio Air National Guard and its four flying wings and four geographically separated units.

General Heady's career in the Ohio Air Guard began in 1971 -- upon graduation from Ohio University -- when he enlisted with the 121st Tactical Fighter Wing as a weapons loader. He served 10 years in the enlisted ranks and attained the rank of Technical Sergeant. He received a direct commission to First Lieutenant in 1981 and served in a variety of maintenance officer assignments with the 121st until 1993.

For the next 14 years and until his present assignment, he served in the Air National Guard's full-time statutory tour program. His assignments included Commandment, Academy of Military Science at the ANG's Professional Military Education Center; Chief of Training at the National Guard Bureau's National Interagency Civil-Military Institute at San Luis Obispo, CA; Special Assistant for the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review for the Assistant to the Chairman, Joint chiefs of Staff for National Guard Affairs; State Partnership Program Coordinator and Political-Military Affairs Officer for the Policy and Plans Directorate, Headquarters, US European Command at Stuttgart, Germany; and Senior Military Planner for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense.

General Heady is a 1967 graduate of Athens High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism, a Master of Science Degree in Journalism, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration, all from Ohio University. He is an in-resident graduate of Air Command and Staff College, Air War College, and the US State Department's Senior Seminar.

REPORTER BLOG: Sick day realization

By Amanda Fondriest

When I went to choose a college, the first thing my parents told me was to pick a career—not a job. This little piece of advice seemed like a nuisance to a nerdy seventeen year old whose only concern was earning a college degree. Yet three years later, it has proven to be a resounding gong, echoing through my being each and every day.

Sick, sick, sick
I spent last Tuesday evening curled up in the fetal position in my bathroom, battling a severe 24-hour stomach flu. Yes, when my children ask me what I did the night the first African American president was elected, I will get to say, ‘using a bath towel for a blanket, the rug for a pillow, and the bottle of Maalox for a cuddle buddy.’ However, when my mother’s 7AM text message came in, I got up, showered, and came to MidDay. Did I want to be there? Not for one second: I would have much rather spent the day lounging on the couch watching The Tudors and whining to my roommates about how ill I was.

But, I got up.

The Difference Between a Job and a Career
Despite the flu that raged on well into Wednesday evening, I got up, delivered a solid day's work, and passed out on the couch when I got home.

The moral of the story: if journalism were just my job, I would not have come to class. I will not claim to have a pristine college record: I have skipped many a class in my day. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.) However, I have never skipped a course in my major or minor, and it's because I love what I do.

It’s a funny feeling: adulthood. I often wonder how I got here.

Maya Angelou said, "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." When did this quote become more than just something I have written on my dry-erase board? When did I get to the place where an upset stomach doesn’t necessarily mean a sick day? When did confidence replace self-consciousness? When did I grow up? When did I become an adult?

Where to go from here
I said that my parents told me to pick a career, and I have. Does that necessarily mean I will be the next Katie Couric? Probably not: I have plans to attend either law or graduate school upon my spring graduation. However, I will always be a journalist.

Journalists aren’t just the talking heads that enter your home each evening via the television. We aren’t just members of the common scapegoat ‘media’ so often referenced in sweeping and typically grammatically incorrect generalizations that make me cringe. And we surely aren’t those willing to sacrifice anything for a headline as we are also often stereotyped to be.

I Guess, There's only One Thing Left to Say
No matter where I go in life, no matter what title fills my business card, I am a journalist. By nature, I desire to learn. Through my upbringing, I know the value of a hard day’s work and have felt the love needed for such a demanding career. And my educators have taught me to apply all of life’s lessons in my work, not just those learned in their classrooms.

If it weren’t for this realization, my couch would have a large Amanda shaped dent from where I spent my Wednesday. If it weren’t for everyone, I would have skipped out on the possibility to do what was arguably my best work for a measly stomach flu. So, thank you.

The Result
Below, you will find my story as aired. We had a few technical difficulties with the audio levels during the show. I apologize for any inconvenience.

My report as aired.

REPORTER BLOG: The Art of a Stand-Up

Brianna Savoca

While viewers are familiar with the way a typical television newscast works, many viewers may not realize the agony and angst behind a reporter's stand-up.

The simplest definition for a stand-up is: The part of a reporter's story where the reporter is on-camera. Often, the stand-up is used as a bridge between two parts of the story to connect and link information together.

Stand-ups are the part of a news package where a great reporter will shine, and a bad reporter will look like they are just standing up and talking.

Outstanding reporters get in on the action for their stand-ups--a reporter will be involved in whatever news they are reporting on. For example, a reporter doing a story on road salt in the winter could do a stand up riding in a salt truck.

For complicated stories, great reporters use a stand-up to explain details in a clear way to the audience. Most importantly, great stand-ups take creativity.

Some reporters can feel a lot of pressure when it comes time to shoot a stand-up. Being in front of a large crowd can be a little nerve wracking.

Sometimes it can be difficult to just get the words out. Click here for an example.

Even the best reporters can't always escape from their surrounding. Click here for a reporter who gets attacked by kids with snowballs.

This reporter tried to be creative by holding a cat, but she must have been holding it for a little too long. Click here to see the clip.

Hopefully the next time you watch the news and a reporter's package, you'll understand the time and effort, and sometimes pain, that goes into a stand-up.

Monday, November 10, 2008

REPORTER BLOG: Technical Difficulties

Whitney Hare

Why is it that there always seems to be technical difficulties?? Not just in work, but in life. The DVR doesn’t record what it’s supposed to record. The batteries die and your alarm clock fails to wake you. Things break down, systems fail, and in life you have technical difficulties.

I got the chance to cover the City of Athens website launch this weekend. You expect something like a website launch to have issues, especially a brand new one. There were obviously small issues like a slow internet connection and pages not loading, but overall, it went off without a hitch. Lucky city, if only the same could have been said for me.

With all of our training and field experience, there are always things that are going to go wrong. We got to the meeting early, set up our camera, laid the microphone on the desk, and turned everything on.

Test, test… one, two….. nothing.

Our microphone appeared to not be working. Try as we might to get it to work, nothing. So we resorted to plan B. We got our sound, but not as clear and powerful as we had hoped. And then, out of nowhere, help arrived!

One of the WOUB Newswatch reporters showed up to cover the same story with a camera and microphone that worked together. We may have had technical difficulties, but we made it work. We shot our interviews together, shared a tape and got over our technical difficulties. I’m not sure what I would have done without my helper, but thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about it.

Life throws technical difficulties at you all the time. There’s not much we can do about it, unless you know someone who knows a thing or two about how to fix your problem, or some unexpected help shows up when you least suspect it. Isn’t technology great?

Athens City Launches New Website

Brianna Savoca

After a year of planning, Athens City launched its new website to better serve the community and city departments.

"It's the third revision of the city's website," Web Designer Ron Forrest says. "I think we've solved a lot of the issues that we've had."

Some of the issues include informing citizens of boil orders, road closings, and other emergencies.

"It's going to allow us to update information...and be a lot more timely in terms of our street closures," Ron Lucas, a Street Maintenance Specialist with the Athens City Street Department, says.

"This will allow us to do it right from our desk, immediately as soon as we find out," Lucas says.

Ron Lucas talks about how the Athens Street Department will use the new site.

With brand new features, community members will not have to stay logged on to the website 24/7 to receive notifications.

"You can register to receive an e-mail notification for a boil order or a city news release," Forrest says. "Or you can opt for a text message on your phone."

Click HERE to register for City of Athens newsletters, press releases, boil order notifications, and Athens City Council and commission agendas.

Plus, community members can send messages or questions directly to city officials on the new site.

For example, citizens can report potholes on the new website.

"We wanted to present information to the public in an easy way," Forrest says, "and for us to receive information from the public in an easy way."

Web Designer Ron Forrest explains why a new website was created and the new features.

"This one is going to be more interactive," Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl says. "Parts of the site just needed upgrading in general to make it more useful and user-friendly."

Mayor Wiehl says approximately $13,000 went into creating the new website, which was approved in spring 2008.

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl discusses the new city site.

The new site features a community calendar, an Athens City planner, and links to online government documents and the city code.

The website also has links to Athens City Council, the local media, businesses, arts, parks, and recreation, and guides for someone moving to Athens.

"I like this system because it gives me some control over what's going to be on the website," Lucas says.

"I think that's what the ultimate goal is, is to give each department their own piece to update and give it their own feel," Lucas says.

Lucas already has plans for the street department's new site.

"I want to start with a 'meet the street department' type of thing," Lucas says. "Maybe getting into some video work showing how we do some of the jobs we do."

Ron Lucas talks about his plans for the new site.

Web Designer Ron Forrest says anyone with questions, comments, or advice on improving the new Athens City website should contact him immediately at

Sunday, November 9, 2008

REPORTER BLOG: When Good Stories Go BAD

Ryan Scarpino

For the last few months, I have been reporting for Athens MidDay. For me and my fellow classmates, this was our first real experience with reporting. Yes, some of us have done internships, myself included, some of us have probably done Newswatch on WOUB and some of us have shadowed reporters. But when it comes down to it, this was the first time we could fail if we didn’t get the job done. If we didn’t get the interviews or failed to edit on time, our grades would suffer. But even more important than that, this was the first time we could experience a story that turned out nothing like we planned.

I have had three of those stories, and I happened to be paired up with fellow reporter, Amanda Fondriest, for all of them. Not only did we get to experience a good story turn into a 'drive across town five times to find interviews' disaster, we both got to know one another. And in the process, I learned she is a great reporter and a true friend.

We Got Burned
A few weeks ago, Amanda came up with a story idea about fire safety in Athens. Our goal was to interview the fire chief, interview one of the managers of Riverpark Towers because its fire alarms are pulled frequently and to get a resident and or student to talk about all the fire alarm issue. After calling the fire chief numerous times, being denied an interview by Riverpark and failing to get an interview with a resident, we realized we had nothing. Could we take the chance and wait for the fire chief, and then he could give us other people to interview, or could we find another story?

Well, we chose option two. We ended up going to Mayor Paul Wiehl’s news conference where he talked about an increase in the water rate. Bingo! Amanda and I already had the mayor interviewed, we called the head of the water department in Athens and we found a resident concerned about the hike in the water rate. In a matter of ten minutes, we went from having no story to having a great story that affected just as many people. Amanda’s quick thinking really saved us.

Where Are We?
About a week after the fire story gone wrong, we covered the construction being done to route 56, West Union Street. While we were on our way to an interview, we were detoured. Somehow we ended up a good ten miles off the path, which is a lot in Athens. And that detour might have been the funniest moment of my quarter. During that time, Amanda and I sang, Come on Eileen, by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and we talked about life. We vented about past relationships, we talked about possible future relationships and we shared some salt and vinegar potato chips and a can of ginger ale. We eventually made it to our interview but not before turning around in someone’s driveway. That’s a different story altogether.

Call Us Back, Please
And only a few short days ago, Amanda and I did a story on the road being built from Baker Center to Richland Avenue, sorry, to nowhere. Yes, there is truly a road to nowhere. OU cannot connect the road to Richland Avenue without city permission. Amanda and I were ready for a lot of good interviews, but no one ever called us back. We were lucky enough to get the mayor’s news conference and someone who goes to class by the construction zone, but once again, we thought we were going to have many interviews. And when we realized that we were going to be struggling to find interviews, we made sure we had great video and a great standup. And oh yes, we did.

When Life Hands You Lemons
These are just a few examples of good stories going bad. Every reporter has been there before, what sounds like a great story turns out to be the exact opposite. The one thing about our experiences is that we always got a great story out of our reporting. Yes, we might not have had the best interviews, but we made up for it with good video, good reporter stand-ups, good audio and great live performances. What we were given, we used. It’s like when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

But it’s not about the stories; it’s about the people that made the stories possible. And if it wasn’t for Amanda, I would have had a very difficult time getting anything on the air. Amanda is a great reporter; she is great at interviewing people, she is very comfortable in front of the camera and she does a great job of researching before she reports. She made reporting fun. Whether it was her singing in her Jeep or her making jokes about how I only have a three-shirt routine, she always made a story that much better. Her positive attitude always made the day go by smoother and that quality is hard to find nowadays. And I feel honored that I got a chance to work with her on more than one occasion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

REPORTER BLOG: College is the place to learn to live

Sara Shookman

Council member Nancy Bain struck a chord with me at last week's Athens City Council meeting. Because this is a college town, the solution to many problems is education.

Education. That's why the Council developed the landlord tenant agreement that has bogged down the last few weeks of City Council action.

Young adults move on from high school and come to places like Ohio University where they hope (or maybe their parents hope) to grow up and graduate in four or five years. It's accepted as a transitional time in a person's life. A time and place for mistakes made and lessons learned.

Learning to Life
But a lot of that learning seems to interfere with the lives of other college town residents.

Our Athens neighbors who have already passed through their college transition really don't want to deal with ours. Rightfully so. Many college students are rude, dirty neighbors. So Athens has city codes - like most cities - to prevent the abuse of students' bad habits.

These codes were more than words to the council members and city representatives that created them. But to students, they might be just more laws to break. So the solution? Education.

The Landlord Tenant Agreement
Council President Bill Bias said Monday that the forms were designed to educate residents so neighbors could rest assured that college students were aware of the code.

So the form was designed and passed along to landlords so they could be charged with educating their tenants about city rules. For whatever reason, lots of landlords did not comply - 334 to be exact, says Athens City Law Director Pat Lang.

Lang defended the position that the non-compliance was a sign the form was inadequate.

And if the city's action in the realm of code enforcement is any indication, it might be. Education hasn't been the simple solution to mounting problems with garbage. Instead the city has hired a Solid Waste Code enforcement officer, better known to students as the trash man.

Taking out the Trash 101
Now students who live in off-campus housing scattered about Athens wake up Sunday mornings to trash tickets and warnings on their front doors. No garbage in the front of the house, no beer cans in the yard. Clean it up.

And the city agreed Monday to begin filing almost 500 misdemeanor charges against those 300 plus landlords without the proper paperwork.

Time for some simple Athens city arithmatic:

Mad Athens Residents = Landlord Tenant Agreement
LTA No Compliance = Increasingly Mad Athens Residents
Increasingly Mad Athens Residents = Trash Man + 500 Criminal Charges

Now the city will collect fines from trashed houses and delinquent landlords, which equals double jeopardy.

Back to the Lesson
So what have we learned?

Living next door to college students isn't easy. Living next door to students in a college town is a fact of life.

Is the problem education? Maybe.

Is the problem inherent with immature young adult behavior? More likely.

I agree with Councilman Elahu Gosney, who said Monday, “I think that (the forms) are minimally effective if at all."

Whether a tenant signs off on the rules or not, they may not follow them. And it might be time for a solution that starts there -- at the root of the problem.

Links to previous Athens MidDay coverage on this topic:

Update: Fixing the Form or Pressing Charges

International Election Reaction, Athens Style

Carlyn Lynch

One of the only things on Ismail Elmahdi’s office walls is a picture of Nelson Mandela, an African political hero and worldwide symbol of peace. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years and when released, instead of going after his persecutors, he forgave and reunited his country.

Elmahdi told us that president-elect, Barack Obama, must reunite a divided nation as well and compared the significance of his election to the election of Nelson Mandela, who has joined many other world leaders in congratulating the president-elect. Elmahdi is from Sudan and says that his family there couldn’t be happier about the news.

Somali student Abdul Warsame says the people in his country were glued to CNN waiting for the election results. The whole world was watching.

Abdul Warsame talks about his family's reaction to the election results

During his acceptance speech Tuesday night, Obama acknowledged that he did not have the entire country’s support but that he hears the concerns of his doubters and will work with everyone to restore America.

John McCain delivered a gracious concession speech, offering his support to his rival. Elmahdi believes that these actions have inspired new faith in democracy, saying “by this election, people can witness the real America”. The world has seen a peaceful revolution where a divided United States can once again, after the dust settles, become one America.

Breaking news of Obama election prompts Australians to erupt in applause

Ghirmai Negash is an African-Dutch citizen who believes that Obama's multicultural background makes him relatable. People view him as an intellectual as opposed to a politician and they believe that he has the brains and the character to lead the world in the wake of economic crisis.

Ana Gicova, a student from Macedonia, says that her country would probably have a better relationship with the U.S. if more Republican policies were in place. She thinks that Macedonia would have a better chance of being accepted to NATO under an administration similar to Bush. Although personally, she agrees more with the ideals of Obama's campaign.

OU vs. Athens City: The Road to Nowhere

Ryan Scarpino

If you are walking around the West Green area, somewhere between Grover Center and the Baker Center, you might have noticed bulldozers, barriers and a lot of fluorescent orange fencing. For more than a year, construction crews have been remodeling Porter Hall, and just recently, OU decided to demolish the Anderson Labs, which would create more space for another road to Baker Center.

OU can build anything it wants on its campus including a road called Bobcat Lane; however, the road cannot attach to a city street. OU officials wanted Bobcat Lane to connect to Richland Avenue, but did not ask the city for permission. Athens MidDay made repeated attempts to contact the officials in charge of the project at OU, but none of our calls or emails were returned.

At his news conference Wednesday, Mayor Paul Wiehl said, “We have denied a curb cut. It's stuck right there. Nothing's going to happen right now. Again, I look at is as an unsafe entrance and intersection that is in the making. And therefore I have problems with it. So there's a lot of questions. As it stands now, I'm not into approving it.”

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl

Richland Avenue is one of the busiest roads in Athens. It connects major highways to the OU campus, it runs directly through West Green and it is constantly heavy with traffic of student walkers and drivers. There are multiple crosswalks for pedestrians, and just recently, a bike lane was added. And because of the city's uncertainty about safety, the construction of Bobcat Lane has been stalled.

Construction crews are still working on parking lots and are cleaning up all the renovations done to Porter Hall. But right now, they cannot do anything to Bobcat Lane. And all the construction is becoming an inconvenience. There is only one lane traffic on Oxbow Trail behind Baker Center, which affects those going to the Baker Center garage. And students walking to and from West Green have to find different ways to get to other parts of campus because of the construction barriers.

Matt Proctor, a Junior Engineering major, said, “Mostly I just took alternative routes. Went up, went back up Richland and cut across that way instead of going back past it.” Proctor, like many engineering students, spends most of his time in Stocker Hall located on West Green. Stocker Hall is a long walk for anyone not living on West Green, and that walk is now longer because of Bobcat Lane.

Junior Engineering Major Matt Prcotor

There is no timetable to when or if Bobcat Lane will be completed. Until Mayor Wiehl and the city find out all the details about traffic and are convinced the road could connect to Richland Ave. safely, Bobcat Lane will continue to be a road to nowhere.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election 2008: The Final Push

by Dante Brunetto

The stakes are high and the Republican and Democratic headquarters in Athens are working full speed ahead to give one last push for Election Day. The two parties have been campaigning tirelessly for months and the day before the election was no different.

The Democratic headquarters was packed with Obama supporters, most of whom are volunteers, picking up fliers and door hangers to post around town in a final effort to get people out to vote for their candidate. The Obama campaign has been around campus for months, registering, informing, and encouraging people to vote.

Obama volunteer Madeline Bassil talks about the
importance of the day before the election.

Meanwhile in the basement of the Republican headquarters, you will find a room full of volunteers making calls to Athens’ residents, encouraging them to vote for McCain. Also at the headquarters was Ohio House of Representatives candidate Jill Thompson, going over campaign strategies with the headquarters’ director. Their efforts have taken a more behind the scenes approach, compared to the Obama campaigners who were on Court Street Monday giving out free pizza.

One passing Ohio University student told Athens MidDay that his vote was still up for grabs. Jacob Wright-Piekarski says he originally was going to vote for Obama until his roommate, a McCain supporter, got him to rethink that decision. “I think I’m going to walk into my polling place and decide on the spot,” says Piekarski.

Despite most polls showing McCain trailing Obama in Ohio, Athens GOP campaign director Lanny Spaulding says they plan to fight until the end. “We are looking for a big finish in Ohio, we've had a strong effort all along and we don't want those efforts to be in vain,” says Spaulding.

Athens Republican Campaign Director Lanny Spaulding
talks about the hard working campaign volunteers in Athens

The Obama campaigners have no plans of letting up either. Obama volunteer Madeline Bassil says her daughter is flying from school in New York home to Ohio, just to cast her vote in the battleground state.

The efforts by both parties in the past months all come down to Election Day. A record number of early voters have already turned out to make their voices heard in this election. Piekarski says when Wednesday rolls around, he will be happy to see Court Street return to normal with the end of the election. “I’ve heard it all and to be honest, I’m starting to find it pretty annoying,” says Piekarski.

Ohio University student Jacob Wright-Piekarski says he
is undecided.

A Matter of Preference: Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Sara Shookman

The state of Ohio may ban discrimination based on sexual preference, and the city of Athens is behind the measure.

At Monday's Athens City Council meeting, Council voted unanimously to endorse two separate Ohio bills that would add sexual orientation to Ohio's anti-discrimination law. The law currently includes race, color, religion, gender, familial status, ancestry, disability and national origin. The Athens City resolution endorsed House Bill 502 and Senate Bill 305 which would add sexual orientation to that list.

Council's resolution lists 15 Ohio cities and 20 other states that have already adopted laws which prohibit this kind of discrimination. Many local businesses, Ohio University and the city of Athens all have their own bans against the sexual orientation bias.

What the Bills Would Do
The current bills would make it illegal statewide to fire someone, deny them housing or force them to leave a public place simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Mickey Hart is an Athens resident and a founding member of Equality Ohio, a gay rights group that supports the bills.

Hart said not only is this an issue for homosexual Ohioans, but heterosexual workers as well.

Equality Ohio founding member said the law would also apply to heterosexual workers.

If passed, these bills would change current Athens laws with the addition of language on gender identity. Hart said when Athens City Council enacted the local anti-discrimination law, gender identity was a relatively new concept.

According to the language of the bill, "Sexual orientation means actual or perceived, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender identity and expression."

Gender identity and expression is defined as "the gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual regardless of the individual's assigned sex at birth."

Passage of the two bills would give transgender or transitioning members of the gay community the right to dress according to their identity when in their workplace or other public arenas.

A violation of this bill could result in fines of up to $25,000 for a single offense.

Why the Bills are Necessary
Hart said Equality Ohio's campaigns are focused on one idea: Ohioans values don't match their laws. He said if you look at state laws, Ohio is one of the most unwelcoming states in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Although Hart isn't aware of specific cases of discrimination, he said a subtle undertone exists in the state.

"It's people not feeling they can be themselves fully in the workplace and just always wondering and worrying about being fired or having some kind of restrictions put on," Hart said.

Mickey Hart of Equality Ohio talks about the necessity of the bills.

"The sooner we do this, the better we make Ohio," he said.

Several rights activist groups have come together to back the idea. The Columbus City Council, as well as many other areas of the state, have already voiced their support of the statewide measure.

Opponents of the Bill
But not everyone is in favor of the legislation. Several Christian organizations, including the Ohio Christian Alliance have testified against the measures.

OCA President Chris Long provided written testimony to the House committee, stating, “This bill seeks to provide a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist."

The Christian Alliance has also suggested the bills could ultimately be used to challenge our state’s constitution - including laws against gay marriage.

The Next Step
Athens City Council members briefly discussed the possibility of expanding current city laws to include gender identity discrimination.

Council member Jim Sands, who introduced the resolution, said hopefully with the state's passage, that would be a mute point.

Ohio University graduate student Michael Evans said he hasn't experienced discrimination because he is gay. But regardless of his own experience, Evans said he supports the measure.

"If people aren't being accepting of other people, it's kinda nice to have the law on our side," Evans said. "And it's great that the state of Ohio wants to be on our side."

VIDEO: Athens City Council votes to endorse sexual orientation anti-discrimination bills.

Text of Senate Bill 305
Explanation of Senate Bill 305