03/22 – 03/28 New Healthcare Reform

March 29, 2010

This last link shared regarding Dade county’s health rankings made me think of a recent conversation I had with regards to the new healthcare reform.

I spoke with an underwriter of Vista Health Insurance, John Cantillo.  He felt that the bill was positive because a lot more people will have access to healthcare, but he says it doesn’t take into account all the costs related with compliance.  According to him, the new bill will not solve all the administrative costs, which he foresees will only get worse once 2014 arrives.

 He also brought up two other interesting points.  The bill doesn’t address the lack of integration in the medical field between hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies.  He feels that the monopolies that hospitals are allowed to have, only add to the increase of medical costs.  There should be more competition and according to him they should operate under more transparency.   Another interesting point he brought up deals with the uninsured (according to this link in Miami Dade 30% of adults are uninsured).  Cantillo feels that unfortunately, a lot of the uninsured, because of their undocumented status will not benefit from the reform.



03/15 – 03/21 “The Counter-Plagiarism Handbook”

March 29, 2010

The Columbia Journalism Review offered some pretty good tips for writers on how to avoid accidental copying in their “Counter-Plagiarism Handbook”. First suggestion they give is to write your ideas before starting you research, and also in the middle of doing it, to exercise you own “self expression”.  The idea of using different colored fonts for your research and your writing is very practical, and it can really help not get the two mixed up.  Attributing immediately after you quote something will also help avoid forgetting to attribute, and this goes hand in hand with quoting immediately when you are quoting.  Linking everywhere applicable will also put the sources in front of your readers, so that people have access to the original material.  

 Paraphrasing needs to be done correctly so that it doesn’t read like the original. You must put yourself in check and be realistic with your own writing abilities.  Just like the handbook says,  if all of a sudden you write something that seems brilliant, it’s good to check it out, as we may have read it somewhere else and have forgotten that we did.  With so much information coming our way, an idea that may seem as ours may come from somewhere else. This is where Google kicks in.  The Columbia Journalism review suggests that if you have a doubt, put the sentences in Google, and check if what you wrote reads similar to what other’s may have written previously.  One thing that also caught my attention was transparency.  Creating a blog that trails your investigative research, encourages honesty because it will provide your reader with a map of your process.


03/08 – 03/14 “What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam” by John L. Esposito

March 29, 2010

John Esposito’s section regarding some of the challenges that Muslims face in America made me think of a chat given to about 80 Muslim teenagers, where the speaker’s focus was whether they felt Muslim or American first.  According to Esposito “Muslims have been challenged to define their place in American and European society. . . they struggle with the relationship of faith to national identity”  At first I saw it as a dichotomy, but then reading Esposito’s’ views, along with some exchanges that I have had with Muslims regarding this, have helped me understand it as a matter of assimilating to this country, no different than previous immigrants, and more than the two identities being in conflict, I guess the question to ask is, can other Americans recognize Muslims as American?

 To this, I can only answer with another Esposito quote which really helped bring balance to the issue “Muslims and non-Muslims in the west face a common challenge of pluralism and tolerance . . . To affirm the truth of one’s own religion or worldview does not exclude the ability to acknowledge principles and values shared with others.”

 Unfortunately, I think there is still a long way for the disappearance of a lot of the misconceptions about Muslims in the West.  Media coverage of Islamic extremists gives a bad image of the religion.  Aysha, a public school teacher shared with me how some of the kids have low self-esteem, and don’t want to be recognized as Muslims.   “Islam is the new religion to be attacked and demoralized.” According to her, kids with names like Mohammed or Osama want to change their names to Michael.  She feels just like Esposito’s quote above, that schools should focus on a multi-cultural approach so that the new generations can grow up understanding and respecting different backgrounds and religions.

A Minute with Aysha

March 21, 2010

 A Minute with Aysha Audio

Aysha is African American.  She was inspired to convert to Islam by Malcolm X in 1974, and describes this time as being of “great respect towards the religion”.  That now, “has changed,” she says. 

She has been a teacher in the public school system for more than twenty years, and also dedicates her weekends to teaching and counseling teenage Muslim girls at an Islamic center.

 In this minute, she shares with us how some Muslim children of Arabic descent don’t want to be recognized as such to avoid unfriendliness.  She also tells us the story of a Pakistani parent that was able to get her daughter’s public school to provide a suitable praying place for her.

A Minute with Vita

March 21, 2010

A Minute with Vita Audio

Vita is from Russia and converted to Islam 10 years ago.  She married a Palestine man, which prompted her curiosity for the religion. 

 Vita grew up in the secular Soviet Union, and for her, Islam has provided a deep meaning to her life.  She values customs like praying five times per day.  These moments give her an opportunity to reflect and thank God for her family.  Vita has two young children. 

 To realize that Vita is Muslim, one has to talk to her, as she does not wear the traditional Muslim veil. 

 In this minute, she shares with us some of the reactions from other parents when they find out she is Muslim, and her views on wearing the veil.

A Minute with Jodi

March 21, 2010

A Minute with Jodi Audio

Jodi is Muslim American and converted to Islam 12 years ago.  She was raised as a Lutheran Christian but was very drawn to Islam because she liked the idea of one God and one book, The Quran.  She also married a man from Jordan who is Muslim.  She makes it a point to clarify her conversion had nothing to do with her marriage.  She says Islam “came to her”; her husband didn’t influence the decision.

She started to wear the scarf and dress according to her religion six months after she converted.  At the beginning she would get a lot of respect. She also felt people would really look at her for who she was, not for her physical appearance. 

After September 11 this changed. 

She encounters hostile reactions for being recognized as a Muslim. 

In this short conversation, she shares with us an incident where another driver was shouting to her to “go back home”. 

The United States is Jodi’s home.  She was born in Syracuse New York and has lived in South Florida most of her life.  She now worries about the kind of environment her kids will have to deal with growing up.

03/01 – 03/07 BBC’s SUPERPOWER: Exploring the Extraordinary Power of the Internet

March 21, 2010

This was extremely interesting.  The series made me think on the focus of this class.  It was a great example on developing effective multi-media presentations. I really liked the interactive introduction page.  You can click and get a brief description on all the topics included in the series. The graphics are inviting and fun; they make you want to click and explore.   Each section combines videos, photographs, voice interviews, written stories.  Its’ all displayed in an easy to follow format.

BBC gets my praises for presenting creative sub-themes under its main subject.  I loved their experiment called On/Off where they compare a South Korean household with very high internet usage with a Nigerian family with no internet access. It was a great way to explore how internet changes or affects people’s lives, and in addition I learnt that South Koreans were the most “wired” people in the planet.   Tied to his concept on how internet changes people’s lives, is also their section on how the web helps disabled people become empowered by it.  Watching the story of the disabled physicist Stephen Hawkins was fascinating.  The video helps you really see and hear how the technology works. It is mind blowing how his speech can be recreated, enabling him to communicate and even e-mail.  Also the written story complements the video by going into details on how the technology was developed,  and uses Blackburn , his assistant, as a one of the main voices to tell Dr. Hawkins’ story.

A Last point observed is that BBC covered every angle: past, present, and future. An expert analyzes the last 20 years of Internet evolution, and “web innovators” are interviewed to contribute their ideas for what’s the next “big thing” coming.   The present is told with the stories of people, like the South Korean family, Dr. Hawkins’ story, and various blogs. 


02/22 – 02-28 Citizen News Network: INTERVIEWING & OTHER TUTORIALS

March 21, 2010

I found this overview on interviewing very helpful.  It points out why it’s so important to make it part of what you do.  They provide the experiences, or as the site calls it, they “breath life” into your story.  They also help you build credibility and balance when different points of view are explored.  Definitely doing your pre-work is crucial.  I like the suggestion of pre-interviewing yourself with regards to what you know, what your interviewee knows, and what it is that you are trying to accomplish. 

It was good to identify some issues that I have encountered when interviewing and putting my ideas together.  Maybe it’s my lack of experience, but as I interview, I always get the sense that it needs to be long and that somehow I am forgetting to ask something.  I think doing the pre-work and having a concise idea of what you are looking to get, while following the “natural flow” of the conversation, may help develop more confidence, or better intuition for the interview itself.  It was good to read that not all interviews have to be long.  Interviews can be short, long, formal, and informal.  In some of them you may be looking for a reaction, an expert opinion, or a confirmation. 

Another helpful point was the section on using quotes.  These should not be long.  Paraphrasing some of the information, and using a shorter more striking quote is more effective.  Their last tutorial dealt with ethics and being honest about how you intend to use the information gathered, so that people know how their lives may be affected if published.

Other tutorials that I think are going to be very helpful for our class project are the Photoshop, sound slides, web development, and tips on embedding . 



02/15 – 02/21 “What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam” By John Esposito

March 21, 2010

I found the book very easy to follow in its question-answer format and a great start for those looking to get general information regarding Islam.  You can simply open it up anywhere.  The book’s main subjects  deal with the faith and practice, customs and culture, society, politics, economy, Islamic extremists, and the issues of Muslims in America and Europe.   

One of things that caught my attention the most was Islam’s history of tolerance towards other religions.  As Esposito explains, the coverage of terrorism in the West has created this idea of a “clash of civilizations – Islam against the West”.  The Quran teaches that God created not one, but many nations; a world of diversity.  Esposito points out that for example Christianity has a much worse record when it comes to intolerance. I found this to be so true. 

Many Muslims live all over the world and coexist with other cultures and religions peacefully.   Actually, in turn, other cultures are now engaging in “attacking” their way of life.  Recent examples come to mind: France’s proposal to ban the Muslim veil in public places, and a report heard in NPR recently that dealt with a growing sentiment in Holland towards more control of Muslim migration.  

A few other points that interested me were Islam’s recognition of Virgin Mary.  I thought she was strictly a Catholic belief and Muslims as the creators of the modern banking system.

Entry 6: 02/08 – 02/14

February 18, 2010

 Ethics: Social Media & Blogging Guidelines

 Reading this page reinforced a lot of the concepts that we have been discussing in class.  Social Media and Blogs have revolutionized communicating, more than ever before individuals have a voice.  People with access to technology can creatively impact a situation.  This reminds me of the video shown in class of the gentleman who created his own YouTube video in protest for unfair treatment from United Airlines “United Breaks Guitars” (link attached).  His own success story over United becomes a story.  This is also seen in Sandra Crucianelli’s handbook “Digital Tools for Journalists”, as far as journalists finding stories out of governmental reports posted online that had miscalculated data.

 It also reminds us of the importance of keeping journalistic standards when using information found on the web.  Information should always be confirmed and corrected if necessary.  Crucianelli’s handbook warns of the same things.  Information of the web is so vast one must develop an ability to discern and do optimal searches.  I really liked her tips on the “advanced searches” that combine signs, dates, and formats. In addition she provides a tremendous amount of helpful links: directories, academic searches, format searches, free e-books, sound and video sites. Her handbook has so many resources; I was completely blown away with the first chapter only. I am attaching the link below.

 Lastly and going back to the ethics page on Social Media & Blogging, the paragraph regarding your own social media page, such as Facebook, and how those should be presented.  One thing that I hadn’t considered was to be careful of who you accept or request as a friend, as you will maybe have to “justify” the association.