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Behind the fatigue and into the life of an ROTC student

By Jay Greene

As he steps to the edge of the plane, high in the sky, Kyle is about to do something that is the result of tons of training and mental preparation.   He is in the first in his line to go and he can feel his heart pounding.

He closes his eyes and, in seconds that seem like moments of eternity, Kyle jumps into the blue abyss of the sky. Kyle Joyce is an ROTC student.

The 21-year-old criminal justice major and native of Urbana, Md., has always been a team-oriented individual.

“I have to stay active,” he said. “I can’t just be a ‘normal’ student…I was never just a student, I always had something going on.”

He played high school football at Urbana High and was planning on playing football at Towson while participating in the ROTC program. He had a change of heart and decided to focus on his career in the ROTC program.

“During your freshman and sophomore year [ROTC] is just an elective,” Joyce said. “Once you get to your junior year, you have to sign on the dotted line.”

Joyce signed his dotted line during his sophomore year. “I knew I was ready and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” he said.

During his senior of high school, Joyce had several interviews for nationwide scholarships. In  his freshman year at Towson,  he received a three-year scholarship.

Joyce is considered a cadet, according to Captain Joseph Mucci, the recruiting operations officer at Loyola University of Maryland.

“His determination is a great asset to our operation,” Mucci said.

A cadet is a rank in the Army, Joyce said. But a cadets are different from soldiers because they are not yet  fully affiliated with army. In order for cadets to become officers, they must graduate.

Joyce’s schedule is a fit to his active personality.

A typical day for Joyce begins at 5:30 with PT at either Loyola’s campus, or Unitas Stadium at Towson University.

“We do running, push-ups, sit-ups…they’re usually pretty tough workouts,” he said.

After the workouts there is a consolidation to discuss any announcements, and then the students are dismissed to their classes.

Classes tend to be one of the challenges, Joyce said.

“What people don’t realize is our classes are at Loyola…we’re cross between two campuses,” he said. “In the middle of our day, we have to drive to Loyola and get back [to Towson] in time for another class you might have.”

Joyce said that will be changing; ROTC students were cleared to receive early-registration benefits.

For students who are looking to get in to the ROTC program, Joyce said that it can’t be done unless students have the education.

“As hardcore and as high speed of a cadet you are,” Joyce said, “if you can’t pass your class, that other stuff doesn’t matter all.”

One of the things Joyce said he will miss the most are his buddies in the program, some of which he has known since day one.

He said it took a while to get to know the others in ROTC, but as time progressed he made friends by rooming with others and getting to know them.

“If you’re going to go into the program get to know those guys,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to a relationship…there are people that will do anything for you.”

Joyce said being part of the ROTC program is “totally worth it.”

“I wouldn’t give it up for the world,” he said.




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Are you using LinkedIn? You should be!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Paul Scott, the co-founder of the ADDO Institute in Atlanta for an article that focuses on how students should use their time over the summer.  Scott and the ADDO Institute work with students throughout the country in developing leadership abilities through a variety of ways.

As journalists, it’s crucial for us to get our names out there through strong networking and top-notch connections.

He was BIG on using the time off to intern rather than getting a job.

“It’s vitally important to intellectually invest in opportunities that provide a platform [for the future,]” Scott said.

And he said resumes will help but not as much as the experience will.

“They’re secondary to the story you have to tell,” he said. “The real life story is more attractive to the person interviewing you.”

He said the worst thing students can do is nothing and that they should be involved someway in order to develop that “story.”

One way to let others see your stories is to start using LinkedIn. (If you don’t have one yet, I strongly suggest creating a profile.)

I like to think of LinkedIn as a creative, professional, Facebook profile.  It lets others see your accomplishments, jobs, educational history and much, much more. It also showcases the profiles of businesses and their hiring managers…people with whom you should become very familiar.

There are some steps you can take to optimize your LinkedIn profile so that you’re getting that most out of it and impressing the right people.

Take a look at the headline. You have 120 characters at the top of your profile to describe to the world what you do. Many people just put their official job title. Again that’s many people.  OR you can REALLY use the system to your advantage.

Choose descriptive and compelling keywords make you as marketable as possible, help you get found by the right people. Remember, LinkedIn is a search engine.

Work on your summary. It could be a “copy & paste” of your resume’s summary section…but it could read more like your bio. You could list a few skills you bring to the table.

You could take an accomplishments approach and list the three or four big results you have achieved on behalf of your past experiences or employers

Make yourself searchable and marketable.  Employers want candidates who will fit the company culture, so you need to research the culture of your ideal companies and embody it in your profile. Take advantage of the opportunity to stand out and land the perfect job.

Finding a spot to tell your story will be a HUGE benefit. And with LinkedIn, you’re sure to get it out there.











Are YOU getting the most out of social media?

It’s pretty obvious that social media sites are things of the present and are most likely here to stay. CBS Philadelphia recently reported Facebook hit a new milestone of 1.28 billion active monthly users worldwide.

Social media is rapidly changing the world of journalism. And by that, not only do I mean it’s changing the world of journalism, but it’s be integrated with the world of journalism. That means every journalist, reporter, writer, MMJ, producer, anchor, weather guy/girl…even YOU…should be engaged in social media.

Even if there are social media sites you don’t use, you should still create one. It never hurts to have a Google+ account or an Instagram…JUST in case it might help you get a job. But it also puts your name out there. Along with branding, it’s your way of saying, “Yes, I’m here!”

If you want to get out there, you NEED to be on social media. Everyone is using social media, you should be, as well. It’s common practice.

Connecting with your audience is the primary reason you should be constantly involved with social media. Interacting with your audience is essential. In fact a high number of “followers” on Twitter or “Likes” on Facebook will aide you in landing a job at a news station or other media career.  If you have high numbers, those hiring will see that you can attract people, possibly to their network. Remember to stay active with them…no one “likes” to feel left out.

Postings need to be more informal and conversational, provide commentary or analysis on the news and invite people to participate. Ask them to answer a question or provide suggestions for stories. Perhaps you could find out what sort of angle you should take. I like to gear my writing so it “sticks up for the little guy.” It helps give others a voice of informs those who might be affected by an issue.

Here are a few other reasons you should think about social networking…if you aren’t already:

  • Social networks are great for generating conversations among people about stories…news outlets may find the volume of reader comments on a story posted on Facebook can exceed comments posted on the news organization’s actual website.
  • Reporters can join the networks, converse with people and showcase their stories. It’s yet another way for reporters to develop personal brands for their work. We can all use some self-promotion, right?
  • News sites can use apps like Storify to pull together postings to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites on a particular topic in the news, especially a breaking news story.
  • Journalists also can use social networks like Facebook to find sources for stories. See for example Facebook’s Graph Search that can be used to locate people who work at particular companies or organizations, live in specific towns or cities or have particular interests. You also can create Interest Lists in Facebook to create a custom feed of postings by people around specific topics.
  • Don’t forget chatting on Twitter is booming with the ever-popular hashtag (#). These handy little tools will help you connect with your audience about anything.

In  closing, you should always remember that once you click “post,” it’s out forever and ever. You aren’t the only reporter our there, it’ll have an outcome on all of us.

Reuters says it best.

“Before you tweet or post, consider how what you’re doing will reflect on your professionalism and our collective reputation.”




Music Major Reflects on First Year at Towson U

On any given day you can find Ariel Breidenbaugh, 20, of Jarrettsville,  practicing away in one of the practice rooms in the College of Fine Arts building. If you follow the sound of the clarinet, you’ll eventually find her.

After her first year at Towson, she’s done so much from marching to playing in the orchestra pit. And as she reflects on her first two semesters, she offers some advice to students who are thinking about going into music.  

“If you really love what you do, there’s a place for you,” Breidenbaugh said. “If you’re willing to learn and become savy in what you’re learning, employers look for that.  If you set up yourself as a valid candidate, it shouldn’t be too bad…Towson really prepares you, too.”

The clarinetists plans on going to a Master’s program after graduating from Towson University.

Jay Greene, reporting

What YOU need to know about Data Journalism…Behind the Numbers and Into a Story

Data journalism is becoming more and more common in the field of mass communications.  Take a look at The New York Times website; they have a WHOLE page dedicated to data journalism and multimedia publications.

When I first heard about ‘data journalism,’ my first question was “how is this different than other types of journalism?” And maybe you have the same question, as well.

What makes data journalism so different is the new possibilities that open up when you combine the traditional ‘nose for news’ and ability to tell a compelling story, with the sheer scale and range of digital information now available.

Data journalism is so important in the field because it requires that gathering, the filtering, and the visualization of data beyond what the eye can see.  Now, in this day of social media, anyone can be a ‘journalist.’ But it will really take a true journalist to be able to mine and sift through data to tell a compelling and dramatic story.

Journalists, including we, the up-and-coming journalists, should see data as an opportunity to help the public. They can, for example, reveal how some abstract threat such as unemployment affects people based on their age, gender, education.  Our goal is to make sure that we are making this data relatable, instead of thousands of numbers thrown together in a document.

In our field, we are constantly looking for trends in order to tell a story or to inform. Take crime as an example. We can pinpoint the certain spots that crimes happen and then report on a trend, perhaps with possible input from police agencies. This can all be displayed on a map, embedded into the online story. And there you have a great example of data journalism. The best part…it can all be done in a Google Doc along with a free add on of Google Fusion. It even spits out a link that you can embed into your site and/or article.

Thinking about designing for data journalism should make us stop and think about how we write our stories and how we push them out to the audience. Are we drawing the audience in? Can we interact with them? That word ‘interact’ is HUGE these days.

The more we can interact with our audiences, the more effective our work will be.

Data journalism needs experienced journalists, who have the stamina to look at often confusing, often boring raw data… we need to be able to ‘see’ and ‘tell’ the story that lies behind the numbers

You, the World, and Digital Media

Last weekend, I attended a journalism conference that was primarily for those interested in broadcast media– it was hosted by one of the weekend anchors at Baltimore’s FOX affiliate.

One of the most common themes surrounding the conference, besides making connections and branding yourself, was that of digital media and discussing how we should use it and become familiar with it.

It’s very rare that we see newspapers that are solely in paper form—most newspapers have a 24/7 complementary website where we can get news within a few quick clicks. But there’s been even more added on to THAT component. More and more, we are seeing publications formatted for an online version.

Apps for mobile devices give us the ability to read the full edition right on our phones anytime, anywhere. And newsfeeds like Twitter have made it so that we don’t have to go to the actual website of the publication. We can bring stories from all sorts of publications right on to one screen.

One of my favorite features of news sites and blogs are RSS feeds, which allow us to have news articles and updates sent directly to us at any time…we don’t even need to go the site. (In fact, you can subscribe to my RSS feeds and get updates when I post something new!)

But WAIT! There’s more!

While I was my conference last weekend, web producer launched creating a whole new, fresh dimension to news in digital publication. Not only does Vox give you the news, but the site actually explains the news to you. With so many things happening around the world on a daily basis, it’s hard to remember exactly why things are happening. Vox fixes that so that we understand the news, rather than just hearing it.

So what does this mean for reporters-in-training?

Well, if we have this idea that we’re going to out and get jobs in the field of journalism, we need to understand that, eventually, the web will be the primary source of information. That means that even broadcast reporters will need to have strong, compelling writing abilities because they will be writing for the web.

I know a few students who come to class annoyed because they’re sitting in a journalism course which focuses on writing, when what they really want to do is stand in front of a camera and give a report.  Now if you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, “yea, that sounds like me,” I’ve got news (pun intended) for you: you WILL need those writing skills.

Wait, let me rephrase that…you will be EXPECTED to have those writing skills.

So remember, with this expansion of digital media, our jobs, especially when they come to news-related jobs, will demand more from us. While digital media creates easier access to news, it also means we need to be prepared.



Student publications see drop in funds, possible cuts

When did you know that you wanted to be a reporter? Were you the kid interviewing your family at the Thanksgiving table, asking your family what they’ve been up to lately?

I was that kid!

I knew I wanted to be a reporter when I was in elementary school and had the opportunity to give the morning announcements …I think the lunch menu was my favorite!

When I attended North Harford High School, I wrote for the Cry of the Hawk and  and anchored and produced for The Hawks Nest. When I graduated and moved to Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland, I held several different positions with Owl Magazine which won several awards at the College Media Association in NYC.20140405_191835_Richtone(HDR)

When I transferred to Towson University (just north of Baltimore), I immediately got in touch with The Towerlight newspaper and WMJF-TV.

It would be hard for me to imagine going to school that was without some sort of student-media publication. It’s difficult for me to think that there are some schools that, because of lack of funding, are on the verge of decreasing the funding of such publications. In worst-case scenarios, they sometimes are thrown away altogether.

In reality, there are student-produced publications that are funded by schools that will eventually be cut from the budget. Administrators don’t see them as a necessary part of the community.

But they’re wrong.

Campus-based, student-produced publications are extremely important at the collegiate level and especially for young, reporters-in-training, like you and I. I knew that when I joined the staff at Towerlight, I would be networking and gaining a valuable hands-on experience while building my portfolio.

Some might think that a campus newspaper is too critical in its reporting…that is, admin doesn’t want you reporting on certain things that they don’t want to see? But if they prevented us from reporting, wouldn’t they be putting up a barrier to our success, something they should be advocating?

Writing and reporting for a campus publication gives us the ability to develop our story telling skills so we can go out in to the world and become the next generation of news reporters.

My advice to you would be “get out there.” If this is the field you want to get into, you need to start as soon as possible.  By joining a campus publication staff, you’ll be able to start and in no time, you’ll have plenty of writing samples and a superior resume to hand to a news director.

Go to your student press editors and ask them what you can do get involved. If you’re writing skills aren’t too strong, they’ll be happy to add you as a copy editor. You might find that you have strengths as a photographer. (If you’re a writer, you should also be looking into photography to broaden your horizons.)

Our administrators think journalism is a dying art, therefore it needs to be cut. Get out there and prove them wrong!



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