Guilty Pleasure

I feel the extreme need to share this with you guys. For the past several years, the community, Oh No They Didn’t has fulfilled my guilty pleasure celebrity gossip cravings.

Is this stuff news? Well, unfortunately, the answer to that is yes for many people. For me it really only is gossip. The community lets registered users post to it, but these posts are filtered by moderators who only let through what they see fit. (Maybe like editors, hmmmm?) I myself do post to it from time to time, and comment on posts, so if you see the username cinnamongirlxxx talking about how much Prince Caspian sucked, it’s me :D!

One interesting note is that all of the ‘news’ stories can’t be posted unless they have a source down at the bottom. Like other media, people want to know their stories about Brangelina’s babies came from somewhere credible, darn it!! Another thing I thought has been interesting to watch is how over the years, what people percieve as media news has evolved from Paris Hilton to lists on The Best Book Covers, etc…

Be careful, it can get addictive. So try to look at it only when you’ve done your daily world news readings that I know you all do 🙂

Hope everyone is having a good day :)!


Why I’m Not Gay For Huckabee – Seeking Successful Satire

For his inaugural “Better Know A Lobbyist: Gay Agenda” segment, Stephen Colbert brought out his faux-condescending inner pundit to interview HRC (Human Rights Campaign) president Joe Solomonese.

This is a two part series.

In the second installment of “Better Know A Lobbyist: Gay Agenda“, Stephen Colbert once more summons his inner pundit to further probe Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solomonese on the “fightin’ gays.”

Colbert, Better Know a Lobbyist, Part 2 from pica on Vimeo.


And of course, another popular bit of satire:

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Will Ruin Society

1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control.

2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can’t legally get married because the world needs more children.

3. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful, since Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.

5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are property, blacks can’t marry whites, and divorce is illegal.

6. Gay marriage should be decided by people not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.

7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

10. Children can never suceed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why single parents are forbidden to raise children.

11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven’t adapted to cars or longer lifespans.

12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a “seperate but equal” institution is always constitutional. Seperate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as seperate marriages for gays and lesbians will.


Where in the world can I get gay married?  Click here to find out.  And for the latest on this battle for civil rights, visit Marriage Equality.



Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality, who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. On her show, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination, according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as thought-provoking. 

Dear Dr. Laura:


Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.


I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.


1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?


2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?


3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.


4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?


5. I have neighbors who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?


6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?


7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?


8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?


9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?


10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16). Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)


I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.


Your adoring fan,


Natalie Vassilaka


And if you’re seeking a fair and balanced approach to understanding the bible on the topic of homosexuality, the BBC asks and explores, “What does the Bible actually say about being gay?


Moving Towards “So What?” Reporting

Harvesting the News – A Progression To Story!

News reporters gather information in three ways: by interviewing people, by researching the written record and by observation. The better you are at these, the better your stories will be. This news-gathering triad underlies all good reporting and good writing. In fact, good information, even poorly written, is better than soufflé writing, or writing with no substance.

1. The more ways you gather information, and the more information you gather, the better your story will be. You will move closer to the “actual reality” of the event. Remember your goal is to use any legal and ethical means to learn what’s really going on.

2. Let’s start with the simplest type of news gathering, the story gathered in only one of the three ways. It is based on what you are told, rather than what you discover for yourself. This is source-controlled, source-originated journalism. Let’s call it level 1 journalism.

3. Level 1 stories result from handouts, press releases, press conferences, speeches and statements. They result from what someone tells you. It is surface journalism. It is the work of a clerk, not a reporter. This type of reporting doesn’t have to be bad. It can be information from the city as to when the trash will be picked up, or when to register to vote.

4. But level 1 journalism has its problems. The material can be one-sided. It can be offered by the source for personal, political or economic gain. If the newspaper is filled with this kind of material, the reading public becomes apathetic and distrustful.

5. Worse than being one-sided, level 1 journalism can be wrong. Frequently, people don’t know what they are talking about, and sometimes they lie. So, what’s a reporter to do? Be skeptical. Good reporters question what they are told. They check and double check. They rely on what they are told, but they improve upon it by talking to more than one person, by searching the written record, by trying to see for themselves. As President Reagan said of the Russians, “Trust but verify.”

6. A word of caution: There is a difference between skepticism and cynicism. A skeptic is one who wants proof, but he or she is not prejudiced against face-value explanations. A cynic, on the other hand, refuses to believe face-value explanations and is ready to ascribe almost evil motives to those he or she covers. A good reporter is skeptical but not cynical.

7. When you take what someone tells you, and supplement it with information from your own research, your own observations, or with what others tells you, you move to level 2 journalism. You shed “air and light” on the subject, to use Lincoln Steffens’ phrase. You “climb the stairs,” according to A.J. Liebling. Remember the sign in the Los Angeles Times office: GOYA/KOD, Get off your ass, knock on doors.

8. By operating on the information you have been told, you move from level 1 journalism closer to the “actual reality.” You provide background, details, reaction from others, and your own observations as verification for what has been provided.

9. Suppose you were sent to cover a speech by the director of a university writing center on the subject of student writing. If you went to the speech and reported strictly what the speaker said, that’s level 1 reporting. If you talked with tutors, students, professors, other writing centers, if you visited there yourself, if you provided a history of the center, then that’s level 2 reporting.

10. If you take it one step further, if you attempt to answer the so what? question, if you provide some information on the causes and consequences of the issue, then that is level 3 reporting. Level 3 reporting tells the reader why things are as they are, why they work or don’t work.

–From Beginning Reporting


From PBS:

Some key elements when considering “newsworthiness” are:

    • Timing: if it happened today, it’s news, if it happened last week, it’s not; with 24-hour news access, “breaking” news is important
    • Significance: how many people are affected
    • Proximity: the closer a story hits to home, the more newsworthy it is
    • Prominence: when famous people are affected, the story matters (i.e. car accident involving your family vs. a car accident involving the President)
    • Human Interest: because these stories are based on emotional appeal, they are meant to be amusing or to generate empathy or other emotions. They often appear in special sections of the newspaper or at the end of the newscast as a “feel good” story or to draw attention to something particularly amusing, quirky, or offbeat

Students know good news stories when they see and hear them. Key components of good news stories include:

  • Attention getting headline
  • A strong lead containing 5 W’s and H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) and an answer for relevance or a response “So What?”
  • Use of quotes (we like to hear what others have to say about the topic of the story)
  • Real facts (the truth and accuracy matter)
  • A strong summary
  • Arrangement of the story (presenting information from most to least important)

For your topic, ask:

  • As you read and learned more about the topic of this news story, did it make you want to learn more or take action in any way? Explain.
  • In your opinion, why it is important to be informed about news that impacts you and/or your community/world both directly and indirectly?


More Important Tips

  • It’s About People
    News stories are all about how people are affected. In your sports story, you might spend some time focusing on one or more individuals, or on how the team morale is doing, or how the supporters are feeling.
  • Have an Angle!
    Most stories can be presented using a particular angle or “slant”. This is a standard technique and isn’t necessarily bad – it can help make the purpose of the story clear and give it focus. Examples of angles you could use for your sports story: “Seeking Savvy Satire: Where We Get Our News’ Fix” — “Citizen Journalism, Blogging, and Corporate ‘Unbiased’ Journalism: Will the Real Reporters Please Stand Up?” — “Gay Marriage, Straight Marriage: What Are the Alternatives?”
    “Team Tackles National Competition”
    “Big Ask for First-Year Coach”
    “Local Team in Need of Funds”
  • Keep it Objective
    You are completely impartial. Cite your sources. If there is more than one side to the story, cover them all. Don’t use “I” and “me” unless you are quoting someone. Speaking of quoting…
  • Quote People
    For example: “We’re really excited about this competition,” says coach Bob Dobalina, “It’s the highest target we’ve ever set ourselves”.
  • Don’t Get Flowery
    Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Don’t use lots of heavily descriptive language. When you’ve finished, go through the entire story and try to remove any words which aren’t completely necessary.
  • Reporting often involves research — going to libraries, reading about an idea, thinking about where to get more information and who to talk to (all things that Internet can help with). Most of all, reporting involves meeting and interviewing people who either know about the story or who are part of it. Those people are called sources.
  • Reporting is at the heart of a news story. Interviewing real people provides the meat of a good story — quotes of what they said. Talking to people often leads to unexpected information that can take a story in a whole different direction. And people often tell wonderful stories, called anecdotes, to illustrate what they are talking about.It is reporting that makes a news story so different from other forms of writing. And it is meeting people and learning surprising, unexpected — and sometimes amazing — things that makes reporting so rewarding. And any of those ingredients will make your news story interesting.


Read here about finding your Angle and Whammy!


Just the Facts, Ma’am?

Your hard news story lead answers the five W’s, yes, but without answering the “So what?” aspect, your story will read just like an item from the police blotter. What makes a news item go beyond just reporting the facts to become an actual news story?

You must find and focus on the angle that makes your crime, accident, or fire relevant to your readers. Otherwise, we could just read the police blotter to find out about the latest accidents at our local gas station or the fires that took place in the next town over.

Ask your news item to meet several of the following criteria to determine its newsworthiness:

a) Impact—How many people does the event affect? How seriously does it affect them?

b) Proximity—An event will be more important if is closer to the readers. An earthquake in a far-off land is not as interesting as one that is close to home.

c) Timeliness—Is the event fresh? Is it new? The news must be timely to be of use to readers.

d) Prominence—Names make news, and big names make big news. Ordinary people are intrigued by the doings of the rich and famous.

e) Novelty—This is the new in news, the unusual. The “firsts,” “lasts” and “onlys” have been the staples of the news business for many years.

f) Conflict—Conflict has been the currency of great literature, drama and movies for all time. From the stories of Shakespeare to those of Disney, conflict has played a crucial role. Newspapers are no different.

g) Audience—Who is the audience? The answer to that question helps determine whether an event is news at all, and if it is, where it will be played in the paper.


And a little more to think about from Cerritos:

Timeliness — Something that just happened tends to be more newsworthy than something that happened some time ago. In today’s fast-paced communications environment you want to give the reader a sense that this is news NOW. In fact, when you write a news story you want to make sure it has a news peg. Think of a peg on the wall that you might hang a hat on. The news peg is the element that you hang your story on. It is the element that makes the story news NOW, as opposed to last week or next week. Timeliness is often the news peg.

Impact — How many people are impacted by the story. The more the merrier. This might also be called the “Who Cares?” element I talked about earlier. The greater the impact, even if it is an old story, the more likely that it is newsworthy.

Prominence — Like it or not, prominent people make more news. When spousal abuse leads to one partner injuring or killing the other, it is sad. When one of those partners is O.J. Simpson, you have an international news story. When a married man has an extra-marital sexual relationship with a woman half his age, it is bad for a marriage. But if the man is Bill Clinton, president of the United States, it can affect the world’s economy. If the who of a story is someone well known, you might have a story in the most common place of events.

Proximity — The closer to home a story takes place, the more newsworthy it is. The local politics of a small town in New York probably would not affect or interest our readers, but certainly the local politics of our hometown would. Even if you have a major story break half way around the world look for a local angle. For instance, if a plane crashes and kills 200 people, it certainly is news. But if one of the passengers was local, or used to be local, or has local relatives, you have a new story angle. Even if you don’t have that kind of connection to the story, you can ask, “How safe are planes that fly out of the local airport? Could what happened there happen here?” It will bring the story home for the reader, who is more likely to read it and say “Gee Whiz!”

Conflict — Sad to say, but bad news is often more newsworthy than good news. When war breaks out, it is more newsworthy than when neighbors get along. Even stories about peace are more stories about war, or a lack of it. A car driving down the street is not news until it comes into conflict with a telephone pole or a pedestrian.

The Unusual — Pulitzer, Dana and others had the right idea about news, too. Something that is out of the ordinary is news. A pumpkin is not news, unless it is as big as a small car. We are obsessed with records, too, that indicate, the biggest, longest, shortest, smallest, tallest, shortest, etc. something. There are thousands of news stories in the Guinness Book of World Records because of our obsession. A major league baseball player hitting a lot of homeruns is interesting, but is international news when a mark McGwire closes in on and surpasses a 37-year-old record for the most homeruns in a season.

Currency — News can create itself, too. Currency is similar to timeliness. But currency grows from other news elements. Something maintains newsworthiness over time because it first was deemed newsworthy for some other reason. While the fall of the stock market and its impact on world economy may have been newsworthy for several of the reasons listed above, its effects remain newsworthy over time because now they are current events.


So What? SO WHAT!

The main idea of a news story and lead is called the “angle.”

It is also referred to in newsrooms as the “hook” because the angle is used to grab, or hook, the reader’s attention to make them want to read the rest of the student’s story.

Simply, it is the main point a student learned from their reporting and that the rest of their story will try to support.

Finding the angle of a news story forces a newswriter to be critical of a story idea and the reporting. A news writer will discover if there’s no angle in an idea or the facts that have been gathered before an editor, teacher or reader will.

Writing the lead and angle involves making some difficult decisions. A news writer must sort through the facts that were gathered from the reporting and decide what the theme is. There may be several different themes, but the writer must decide what the central theme of the story will be in the lead.

Then students must consider what form their story will take.

In sorting through a mass of material, Carman Cumming and Catherine McKercher of Carleton University tell reporters to think about “S-I-N” — which stands for Significant, Interesting and New. Students should look for either of those three things from their research and interviews and they will be able to find a compelling angle for their lead.


The late Walter Steigleman, a journalism teacher in Iowa, told his students to look for the WHAMMY. He explained that the whammy is the single fact that makes your story unique.

Consider the following example, based on a radio interview with Vern Walters of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia with CBC’s As It Happens in early March 1996:

Vern Walters, a third-generation blacksmith from Lunenburg, has decided to retire and has put his shop up for sale, closing a 120-year-old family-owned business.

That lead has all the required elements. But a “whammy” is provided when it is learned that Mr. Walters is probably Canada’s only working maritime blacksmith — a blacksmith trained to do special blacksmithing to build and repair boats:

Vern Walters, one of Canada’s last remaining maritime blacksmiths, has put his shop in Lunenburg up for sale, closing a family- owned business begun 120 years ago by his grandfather.

That story also illustrates the human interest story, which focuses on an interesting or unique person.

The only way to really understand leads and angles is to try writing one. News writing is like learning to play a musical instrument — the more you practice, the easier it gets and the better you become.

“Angle” and “Whammy” taken from Journalism Toolbox.