Nicole Lemon: A Profile

Nicole Lemon is a biology-chemistry double major studying at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She’s currently wrapping up her junior year and preparing for a research based internship this summer where she will be working closely with an associate professor of the biomedical department. She plans to go go to medical school post graduation to pursue ambitions to become a neurologist. She would consider herself liberal, and throughout the past few years I’ve watched her grow as an advocate for social justice issues on Facebook and Twitter. I believe the passion and strength of her beliefs causes her to be unable to remain silence on public social platforms.

What influences you to tweet something, or make a Facebook post?

My biggest influence as to why I post on Twitter and Facebook is transparency. This may seem backwards. In using social media you are hiding behind a computer. It isn’t real, some things aren’t clear. But I tweet and post a lot so that I am transparent- so that everyone KNOWS what I am thinking, and everyone knows what i am going through…not necessarily because i need everyone to know but because I am proud of who I am. I like to stand up for what I believe in and I like to be heard. The best way to get the attention of a vast majority these days is through posting on Facebook and tweeting.

What influences you to intervene in an already existing Facebook discussion or Twitter war?

I am influenced to intervene when I agree or disagree strongly. Politics have got me going recently. I also like to comment on things I really like and agree with and stick up for people whom are getting disagreed with. Again, I intervene when I feel like my opinion can contribute and because everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.

Do you believe people are careless with their words online?

I think that when people post dumb things, and don’t expect to be challenged- they deserve to be challenged.

Do you think you are a more established source of knowledge on certain topics via web because of your scientific and well informed background?

Am I a more established source of knowledge? Depends on the topic. I love learning from others just as much as posting on social media. I believe my opinions are important, as everyone’s are,but not always “the right” answer. Sometimes there is no right answer.
On certain topics, such as science topics I do consider myself a more established source at this point in my biochemistry career.

Do you think Facebook is an appropriate forum for people to discuss their beliefs?

I think that Facebook is an appropriate place for beliefs. If you post a belief on Facebook though you should expect to have people disagree with you- its up to the individual if they want to argue or if they simply want to ignore the person who disagrees. Social media is becoming a apart of society, it’s the way society interacts- freedom of religion, for example, should include all public places, including Facebook.

Do you believe Facebook supplies peoples’ ignorance?

Social media has become so huge I think sometimes it hurts us. Relationship problems, job problems, cyber bullying, a lot of things arise from social media. I’m not sure if it’s ignorance.

Cliff Kretkowski: A Profile in Forms of Writing

Cliff Kretkowski is a father of 3 boys, a salesman, pastor, and writer in his free time. More specifically, he is my dad and one of few people I actively follow and am intrigued by on social media that I can actually contact. His posts on Facebook are what I specifically dissect, as that is his primary form of social media communication. The subjects of the posts are varied, some dealing with music, others with prayer and religious concepts, and other areas of interest in my father’s life. I recently spoke with my dad over the phone and conducted a casual interview with him in regards to Cliff Kretkowski the writer. The purpose of our discussion was to identify the process through which Cliff creates his posts, and to see his thoughts on that writing as compared to the written word of literature, an area he has dabbled in throughout his adult life.

Who is the intended audience of your posts on Facebook, as based upon the videos and links you include it could be several different types of people.

Well that’s actually a really good question, because sometimes you’ll see if I see something about, ya know, Metallica, or something like that I’ll directly make the post out to you, but then the other day I posted that song about Nanny [Cliff’s mother] and made some comments, or then even the other day one about the Grateful Dead. Those, I think you see, are for a general audience, because it’s a sweeping kind of a comment or issue being made. I generally feel that’s how I post.

Whenever you post do you try to have some sort of media within the post, whether it be a video or a picture, or does it just kind of happen?

I think that’s the inspiration. You know, now that you say that I think I rarely post without an attachment. I don’t really ever just go ‘Hey, I’m having spaghetti for dinner’, I usually just hear a song or see something of interest and I’ll post that with a comment on it. It kinda broadens the picture, or the video, or the anecdote. The attachments branch my post out to the people who see it.

What is the difference in writing on the Internet as compared to writing for a book, in regards to when speaking on similar issues and different ones?

Now thinking back to your last question and reflecting on that, when I post something online it’s always commentary on something else. As a writer, or when I journal, it’s always about experiences in my life, not commenting on an anecdote or opinion of someone else.

Do you feel that’s in part due to the medium of conversational social media as compared to books, which have no interface?

Absolutely, When I put something on Facebook I want to share it and allow everyone to have their own reflections on it. But when I’m writing for a book I’m calculating, I’m writing thoughts, taking experiences, and formulating a comprehensive idea. I’m not necessarily sending out ideas when I’m on Facebook, so it’s very different to me.

Do you have a preference between the two?

I don’t prefer Facebook, because honestly don’t really think there’s a literary component to it aside from the actual act of writing. To me, it’s not a place to convey deep, significant thoughts, it’s more perfunctory. I don’t necessarily sit and ponder over what I’m writing online, I didn’t revise and research parts. To me it’s like having a conversation around the room just with a keyboard.

So would you not consider it then a ‘technical’ form of writing?

No, I don’t. And you’ve seen this, people will use the letter ‘u’ for ‘you’ on Facebook, so people aren’t even thinking of the full context of writing when on Facebook, and they don’t have to, I don’t judge that, it just doesn’t seem like something for someone involved in engaging writing.

 

Overall, my father uses Facebook quite often but doesn’t view it as an alternative or equal to his literary writing, just more so an outlet for thoughts and reflections t be shared amongst friends and family like text messaging. I conducted the interview with my father as I do whenever I call him, a very casual and conversational format. The interviews contents are quite interesting to me and a different perspective from most of the ideas that have been discussed throughout the English 397 course.

Profiling a Digital Writer

Patricia Cason is a junior English major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She writes for The Odyssey to gain experience as a published writer for her life after graduation. Her writing has always interested me, not only because she is a friend of mine, but because she doesn’t stick to just one topic. She has some articles that are in the popular list format, but she also writes about some more serious topics as well. My goal for this interview was to gain some insight about what motivates Patricia to write about what she does and to learn about what she takes from the overall experience of writing for The Odyssey.

How did you become involved in writing for the Odyssey? Was it strictly because you are an English major or was it more on your own personal interest?

Patricia: I started writing for The Odyssey because “being published” is important for anyone considering a career as a writer. Where you’re published doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re putting your work out into the world for people to see. The biggest reason I write for [The Odyssey] is to demonstrate interest in written communication for future employers. I chose The Odyssey because it’s a lot more relaxed than our student newspaper, The Breeze, and I didn’t want to deal with strict deadlines in addition to my academic course load.

 

How do you come up with topics for each one of your articles?

Patricia: A lot of the topics I write about come from personal experience, or are common themes I pick up on during conversation with my friends. I write down potential topics whenever they come to me, so I have a lot of article titles scrawled in my notebook and in my iPhone notes. One time I wrote almost an entire article while I was hosting during a slow day at TGI [Friday’s], which was definitely a better use of my time than actually working.

 

You seem to have a good range of topics varying from your “Society Killed the Liberal Arts Major” to a more controversial topic such as the article “All the Questions You Were Always Too Afraid to Ask” and a few light-hearted lists such as “8 Reality Checks for My Insane Expectations of Freshman Year”. Are there different approaches you take to each type of article and/or certain things you keep in mind when writing the more serious ones?

Patricia: Sometimes I choose topics because I think I’ll get a lot of social engagement, and other times I feel as if the topic itself is important, and needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, the audience I reach from Facebook and Twitter shares is primarily bored college students, so articles such as “All The Questions You Were Always Too Afraid To Ask” always get drastically more views. It’s kind of disappointing actually, because a lot of people say they care about deeper issues, but don’t engage with it in their free time when it’s offered to them.

 

After writing for an online publication, do you see any striking differences about writing online vs. for print?

Patricia: I’ve never written for a print publication, but the biggest difference that I see is the types of people you reach and the ability to measure your audience. I can see the exact number of people who read my articles, which isn’t possible for print sources. Additionally, since The Odyssey gives its creators the burden of sharing and marketing their piece for views, I really only originally reach the people I’m friends with on Twitter and Facebook. So, if I wrote an article that primarily 30 year-olds would be interested in, they’d probably never see it because my younger followers wouldn’t be interested enough to share it.

 

Overall, would you say that writing for The Odyssey has helped you grow as a writer and has prepared you for life outside school with an English degree (career wise)? If so, in what ways?

Patricia: It’s been interesting, because I have the freedom to explore pretty much anything I want and have it published. It’s also taught a bit about writing for the public vs. academic papers. Obviously, I probably shouldn’t use words like “ostensibly” in Odyssey articles, or my readers will disengage with the content. I’ve definitely learned that the general public heavily favors lighthearted “fluff” writing.

 

I found Patricia’s answers to #3 and #4 particularly interesting because they can be nicely tied to the Social Action assignment we just had. She points out how she wishes to have lots of public engagement about her posts but often gets her hopes up because of the limited audience had access to. She points out how her friends on Facebook and Twitter claim to have concern for the deeper issues but doesn’t engage with it in their free time. This is something that all of us have claimed to experience in our reflection of our social action. Additionally, this lack of sharing can impact what she chooses to write about since she must keep that audience in mind.

My Profile

For my profile, I interviewed my friend Katie. She currently writes for The Review as a Senior Reporter. She hopes to hone her writing skills in this position and apply them beyond UD in her journalism career. My goal for this interview is to probe Katie about some topics we’ve been churning about, plus her writing and where she wants to go with it. I picked Katie to interview because she’s an open person and has experience with different types of writing. I find her tone in her pieces to be exciting enough to keep people interested, but not explosive enough to turn people off.

First things first, I ask her to tell me about the pieces she’s written so far. I wanted to see if they were mostly in one genre, and I found quite the opposite.

“So far it’s been pretty diverse. I have a column, I recently wrote a satire piece for them. I’ve covered a few events, and I’m going to localize a global story for my next piece. I just got published in Delaware Today. It was a sports piece, which is pretty new for me.”

When Katie talks about being on the job as a reporter, her face lights up. I think that is a testament to someone who has found their calling; she is able to adapt in her chosen profession to produce a variety of pieces.

Next I wanted to tackle something we’ve been discussing in class. Being cog in the wheel of journalism, she has a unique perspective on the field and where it’s going. I was looking to see if she’s more Carrful or Boydish by nature.

How do you feel about physical newspapers vs. online publishing? Do you think the internet is destroying the authenticity of reporting or is it a tool for better circulation?

            “I always love seeing my work in the physical newspaper when it comes out-” I can imagine there is an added element excitement to see your words printed in such a form utilized so much powerful writers who came before us. “it makes it feel a lot more real to me. Would it be weird to say I like the smell of them?” I appeased her on this query, but I’m more a book sniffer myself. “That said, I think it would be naïve to say that the internet is singularly destroying or helping newspapers…[it’s] more of a grey area. I think that with the public’s ability to post anything they want, people are wary of the media nowadays and trust the real newspapers much less. But I also think that the internet allows people who may not otherwise read a physical newspaper to get their hands on good journalism. The model is definitely [undergoing] a transition, so I’m excited to see where it will go.”

            We’ve talked a lot about the impression society has of the journalist in our Journalism class. Because of recent events in the news, it is hard for the average person to feel like their news source is as unbiased as possible. Like Katie said, it is hard for the public to trust the media especially newspapers. She touched on something here that we haven’t a lot in class, which is the influx of new readers that have come on the scene because of its availability online. She gives us a good example of this…

            “Students using their UD emails can get a huge discount on The New York Times online. Being a broke college student that I am, I probably couldn’t or wouldn’t shell out the money of a full physical description.” Good to know.

Finally, I asked her about her ultimate goal for her time at The Review. I was looking to see where she wants to go UD and beyond.

“I definitely want to continue to sharpen my skills and begin to write more long form stories, and I also think editing or taking some sort of leadership role would be cool. Long term my dream job would be to have someone pay me to travel and write about it. I’m not sure that job actually exists, but in a perfect world that’s what I would do.”

            To wrap up, I asked her if she had any advice for writing online pieces.

“Try to make it so that every paragraph you’re writing either says something interesting or alludes to something interesting you are going to say later. Each sentence a reader reads should make them want to read more. This keeps your reader on your article. Doing this without being click baity or gimmicky is difficult and requires you to be conscious of each sentence you’re writing, it’s relevance, and how it fits and flows with the piece. Also: don’t use interactive tools. Unless they’re adding something to the story, they can be straight up annoying.”

 

 

Class, Wed, 4/26

Questions/Thoughts: Profiles and Remediations

Conferences

The Revision Process 

  • Fastwrite: Describe an experience in which receiving feedback to a piece really helped you develop it in satisfying ways. Or, describe a moment in which you feel that, as a reader or editor, you were really able to help another writer successfully develop a piece, Whichever tack you take, what practical lessons can you draw from this experience about how you might create a social network to support your work as a writer and editor? In what ways does your experience align (or not) with the advice offered by Fenton and Lee?

To Do

  1. Thurs, 4/27, 10:00 am: Post your profile of a digital writer to this site.
  2. Fri, 4/28: No class.
  3. Fri, 4/28, and Mon, 5/01: Conferences with Joe.
  4. Mon, 5/01, class: Scan the profiles posted to this site. Pick at least two that you feel differ in interesting ways from each other, and be ready to talk about what those differences suggest to you.
  5. Thurs, 5/04, 10:00 am: Post your remediated piece to this site.

Conferences, Fri, 4/28, and Mon, 5/01

My plan is to cancel class on Fri, 4/28, to free up time to talk with each of you individually about your work for this course. Here’s my current schedule of conferences:

Conferences E397
E397 Conferences, Fri, 4.28, and Mon, 5/01

We will have 15 minutes to talk with each other. Here’s what I’ll do to prep for our meeting: (a) I’ll read your profile of a digital writer and have some thoughts to offer you about it; (b) I’ll quickly reread your previous posts for this course and be ready to talk about what I see as our strengths as a writer and also issues you may want to work more on; and (c) I’ll be happy to talk with you about the remediation assignment.

That’s a lot to talk about. So I will count on you to steer our conversation to the work and issues that matter most to you. Indeed, I can pretty much assure you that I will begin our meeting by first saying, Let me offer some thoughts about your profile, and then by asking, What do you want to talk about?  So please be ready to respond to that question. I look forward to talking with you!

Writer to Writer, Friend to Friend

The person I chose to profile and interview is both somebody who I consider good friend of mine, as well as someone who I deeply admire as a writer. Katherine [Katie] Nails is a Senior Reporter for UD’s newspaper, The Review, as well as a freelance contributor to DelawareToday Magazine.

Katie is not only an immensely talented writer, but she is informative and fun to read as well. As a journalist, Katie is charged with the daunting task of keeping her text concise; providing sufficient material while keeping the reader interested and engaged. While I am personally not very adept at getting points across succinctly, the way that Katie writes makes it appear effortless. Moreover, Katie’s terse style does not detract from personal voice or style to the point of banality. Something she does exceptionally well is add flare and creativity to journalistic pieces. One of my favorite lines that she has written comes from a recently published column in The Review about her journey to her birthplace of Chicago following the Cubs 2016 World Series victory. It is the very last line of the piece.

This line epitomizes what it means to be an effective writer: It incorporates voice and creativity without drowning the reader in a sea of words. When reading this quote, I can immediately visualize the atmosphere following a World Series victory, an over joyous crowd of millions forgoing their differences in the name of love for a baseball team and a city. That being said, as a reader I don’t have to bend over backwards to understand the meaning behind the text, and it feels as though I could be having a normal conversation with Katie.

I recently sat down with the author herself for a brief interview regarding her work and the trials and tribulations of being a writer. I started our conversation asking about what appeals to her about writing, and more particularly journalism: “The job itself is like a scavenger hunt for me”, she said.  “It’s like a puzzle that has to be put together. And then the actual writing part is kind of like…I’ve always enjoyed I guess [sic] the creativity of being able to express myself. I’ve always just liked words, but then journalism kind of allows me to use them to make a difference.” Katie enjoys both the hunt for clues and answers that comes with being a reporter, as well as the creative outlet and ability to evoke ideas and change that comes from being a writer in general.

I then proceeded to inquire about who her intended audience is when she writes: “…For the Review, it’s obviously the Review’s readers, who are mostly college students and professor but then I also do…I’m also a columnist, so with my columns…they’re pretty personal to me, but I also try to sort of widen them to get anybody who reads, you know anybody who happens to get their hands on it to see something in another way.” Katie writes to inform her community, which, seeing as she is a college student, happens to be comprised mostly of fellow college students. However, she writes her columns not so much for a specific audience, but for anyone who might enjoy reading a creative piece of writing.

I decided to transition to asking about how she incorporates voice and her own unique style into her writing: “…Well you know me pretty well, I’m fairly sarcastic, I…I don’t know I kind of have like short little quips I guess. And you can definitely see that in my writing…like I said journalism is pretty hard you’re not really allowed to insert your own voice, but…you apply your style through the structure of the story.” I believe we both happened to be a bit confused about terminology here. Personally, I can clearly hear Katie’s voice in her writing, and I definitely can spot where she likes to insert witticisms. However, I think that when she discusses an inability to insert voice in a journalistic piece, that this actually refers to tone. She definitely seeks to be objective in her reporting, but I can still get sense her style, which I think is synonymous with voice, in all of her pieces. Her tone, on the other hand, must not sway one way or another in order to remain unbiased.

Finally, I asked her one last question regarding what she felt to be the most difficult part of her job as a writer: “I mean the most difficult part I think would be…as a journalist your job is to be pushy and make people uncomfortable, but make them still want to talk to you. It’s kind of like finding that line and toeing it but not jumping over it. It’s like a very fine line that we’re constantly walking…” Although I have little journalism experience, I understand this concept: you want to divulge as much valuable information from someone as possible, but you don’t want to turn them off from talking to you. It’s as if you are walking a tightrope.

This interview was very casual, yet informative, and I am happy to have been able to gain new insights into journalism and Katie’s work.