Getting to the source

By Alexis Frayton, J Camp Live! staff

The headlines at the supermarket rack scream at the shopper: “Angelina tells Brad: ‘I’m Leaving you and the kids!’” or “Lindsay Lohan, Back on Drugs!” Yet it only takes weeks, if not days, for those claims to be refuted and proven untrue.

The journalist’s role is to report accurate information and make sure that the news they are reporting comes from reliable sources. However, many writers at celebrity news magazines get much of their dubious information from the friends of celebrities or other “inside informants.”

One of the great debates among journalists is whether or not to release the names of sources. One side argues that by giving the name of a source, the source gains integrity because there is a tangible person connected to facts. The source is no longer veiled by a cloak of invisibility and is now forced to stand behind their statements.

“The best thing is to have a source on the record so that the reader can judge the integrity [of the source],” said Brian Ross, the News Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC.

Other journalists believe that releasing the name of a source makes them vulnerable to those who may be negatively affected by their statements. The latter side is an argument for sources involved in more important issues, including political scandals dealing with corruption where their testimony could put them at odds with the law.

But how about anonymous sources giving up information from such less weighty matters as celebrity pregnancies or divorces? Cynthia Wang, assistant editor for People magazine, believes some risk is still involved.

“In many cases, sources able to provide information on celebrities depend on them for their livelihood,” said Wang. “That would explain why so many are willing to talk about a subject but not want to be identified by name.”

Wang added that “public information databases and entertainment union records” are used to check up on sources. A story from In Touch magazine could have used this added scrutiny. The article claimed that musician John Mayer was hitting on another woman, Chaton Anderson, while dating Jennifer Aniston. Anderson considered legal action against the magazine because the story was “completely untrue.”

The story was completely based on information from an anonymous friend of Chaton. Once all this is considered one has to wonder if a magazines eagerness to get a breaking celebrity story overshadows their duty to conduct a proper background check on sources that like to remain anonymous.


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Peering into journalism’s crystal ball

By Kimberly Lee, J Camp Live! staff

Waking up to the “zooms” of hovercrafts flying outside a window, the 2050 citizen grabs a cup of freshly brewed coffee and sits at the kitchen table to read the morning news. But instead of the traditional 14” by 16” newspaper, the latest news and information from around the world is beamed from a compact computer box with multi-media coverage.

Could this be the future of journalism, a world without newspaper and magazines?

Students and professionals alike are asking this question as journalism advances on Internet.

“I think the internet will be the main media base,” said Jordan Hung, a J Camp student from California.  “Print journalism will be around but will not be as important as online media because the younger generation is brought up as already tech-savvy.”

Although the next generation is much more knowledgeable about the cyber world, more advancement has yet to come.  And that will require new skill sets for the journalists of the future, and the printed word won’t be enough to engage readers.

“All students need to be able to think visually,” said Jessica Brown, a visual journalist who teaches at Loyola University. “Writers now not only must focus on their written work, but must also find video, photos, and audio to accompany their story.”

But this multi-media newsroom of the future could lead to two different outcomes.

On one hand, the Internet could spawn a superior and collaborative form of journalism that interests more readers. Statistics gathered by Richard Lui, correspondent and anchor for CNN Headline News, shows a dramatic rise in online news readership (4.1 million viewers) compared to television broadcasts (1 million). 

The second outcome isn’t so rosy.

The consolidation of media companies, and difficulty of reaping profits from the Internet, is already shrinking newsrooms. In 2008, 4,494 journalists were laid off from work, according to the website Trends in Living Networks.  Some wonder what journalism jobs – if any – will be available in the future.

 Even if the platforms are changing, there will always be a demand for news. It just may come delivered on a computer instead of a TV, though many of the skill sets remain the same.

“I had to send out audition tapes to many television stations when I was starting out,” said Ana Belaval, WGN morning news anchor.  “But, you have something that we did not have: the Internet.  Now, you can just broadcast yourself by the way of the web.”

James Colton, Sports Illustrated photography editor, is also optimistic.

“The greatest outlet for photography in the future is going to be the web,” Colton said.

As an example, Colton presented a multi-media slide show to J Camp students.  Flashes of photography were seamlessly integrated with audio recording and live video for a dazzling final product.

Many print journalists are unfortunately having a harder time with the shifting situation.  Re-organization has been the main word to describe newspapers today, such as the Chicago tribune.  When a panel of Chicago Tribune reporters was asked if they knew what the future would hold for print media, they replied with remarks of uncertainty and anxiety.

For the time being, the Chicago Tribune staff is trying to cover all of the possibilities.  From putting the newspaper online to writers blogging about their articles in the daily newspaper, the Chicago Tribune is doing its best to adapt to the Internet age and changing appetites for news.

So how will this all resolve itself? The only ones that truly know the future are the journalism gods and right now, they are not willing to share this information.

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Blog: White man’s burden

By Dan Hill, J Camp Live! Staff

Sunday night. Three of the best-known television reporters in the nation’s third largest media market sit on the stage of Loyola University’s Baumhart Hall. They are powerful people, highly accomplished, and they command attention from the audience of “budding” young journalists. As the reporters share their stories, the awe and wonder of the audience only grows.

Before this week, I would have presumed that those three authoritative figures on stage would be whites. And that maybe in that attentive audience of teens, a couple of minority kids would sit restlessly, sticking out like a sore thumb because of their ethnicity.

In reality, Sunday night’s speakers were Hispanic women. The audience was an incredible mix of students from around the nation — a mix of talents, of cultures. And there I was, restlessly sitting in my web of insecurity, playing the role of the sore thumb, the odd man out, the black sheep.

The white guy.

J Camp has effectively thrown my understanding of the color wheel of life out of balance.

The Asian American Journalists Association has done such a good job at promoting diversity and giving opportunities to minorities that they have succeeded making the white male the minority – at least at J Camp.

That was something for which I did not prepare, but something I needed to experience. I come from a whitewashed high school in El Dorado Hills, a hardly diverse suburb of Sacramento. When I’ve met students at my school who suffered because of their minority status, I’ve had little help to offer. But after my J Camp experience, I think I can empathize.

This week, I’ve felt the power of diversity. I’ve listened to speakers talk about how they’ve had to overcome obstacles because of race and, in some cases, gender.

I’ve questioned myself as Joie Chen spoke out against the injustices of a business far too long run by white males. I’ve learned from the likes of CBS News anchor Russ Mitchell and others that reporting overseas may actually be more difficult for those who “look American,” presumably meaning people like me. I’ve recognized that incredibly talented and funny and friendly and hardworking high school journalists really do come from all over the country and from all ethnic backgrounds. And I’ve been thankful that at least I don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes.

As this camp’s “token white guy,” as instructor Chris Macias jokingly called me yesterday, I feel grateful to have received the same kindness and encouragement and respect as my campmates. While there have been times when I’ve questioned my right to attend the camp — not only because of my skills, but also my skin – I’ve been able to go through the experience of being a minority with the comfort of having J Campers at my side.

I will close with an apology to my new friends: I regret that for many of you, gender and color and culture may present barriers between you and your dreams. I am sorry that tomorrow, some of you will be returning to places where you are “different,” where the majority – regrettably, people like me – sometimes fails to see past our differences and recognize how talented you are. I will not forget your stories and will always cherish my own: How, for one week, I saw life through the eyes of a minority.

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Blog: Stories, blisters and cell phone receptions

By Katie Chen, J Camp Live! staff

Journalists tell the best stories because after all, it is a part of their job. This is something I realized during my first few days at J Camp in Chicago. No matter how many people we listened to from the industry, all of them had unique tales to share.

We’ve listened to several speakers from around the journalism industry: reporters, photographers, broadcasters.  I feel like all of the speakers have given us a better view of the industry. I particularly enjoyed hearing from three women in broadcast journalism, which had never interested me before.

Ana Belaval from WGN shared her story of going from being a Spanish speaking reporter and switching to English speaking networks. She proved to us that there is room for humor in reporting. Lourdes Duarte, also from WGN, talked to us about the danger that comes with being a reporter. Her story of how someone once put a gun to her head shocked me because I had never considered that risk before.

I found that I could easily relate to Dr. Mona Khana, a woman who practiced medicine before turning to journalism. Medicine and journalism have always been two of my interests so it was wonderful to hear her say that it was all well worth the extra wait and work.

One guest speaker inspired and moved everyone. John White, a photographer from the Chicago Sun-Times, made an impression on everyone and was able to do so not only with his photographs, but also with his words. He told us of his challenges in his career and how he had been able to move beyond these.

 “Never let them rest until your good is better and your better best,” White said.

They were simple words, but this only made him more captivating. Everyone was completely mesmerized by him and what he said really meant a lot to some people in the room.

We haven’t spent everyday inside. On Sunday we were given the difficult task of going to the New Maxwell Street Market to discover stories on our own. The time constraint, language barriers, and the blisters that were forming on my feet made this assignment easier said than done. Despite these problems, my partner, Jessica, and I managed to interview four different people at the market, get rejected by 6, and drink the best piña coladas ever (non-alcoholic, of course). Our story didn’t turn out too shabby either.

I think we’ve all come a long way from the people we were when we came here. I know I’ve gotten to know everyone better. And I’m happy to say that my roommate, Octaviar and I have moved past the epic question of, “Who’s better? Mariah Carey or Leona Lewis?” to now complaining about how poor cell service is on the 13th floor of the Loyola dorm. I’ve also learned a few lessons along the way (for one, not to go against what mom says and wear pretty shoes on long walks).

Although I can’t say that I’ve had a sudden epiphany and realized that journalism is the career for me, I know that J Camp has been an experience that I will never forget.

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Stories from the Sunday market

On Sunday, 28 J Camp students arrived at Chicago’s New Maxwell Street Market with their pens, notebooks and cameras. Their two-hour assignment: talk to people, take notes and prepare to write a story. Here’s some of what J Camp’s students found:

Tapping out a tradition

Tap dancer Annie Peacenik isn’t just randomly entertaining Maxwell Street Market shoppers as she stands om a bustling city corner — she’s considers her work to be the preservation of an American art forms.

Amid the jumbled strains of Mexican music blaring from boom-boxes and the mixed noises of a busy city, the 20-something Peacenik has found her stage on three-by-four piece of plywood laid next to a bus stop.

“In contemporary times, you don’t see tap dancing that much anymore, so it’s important for me to get a hint out there… to make the public more aware,” Peacenik said. “I think it’s not only important for the field but for American culture as well.”

After beginning to tap at the age of nine, Peacenik went on to study the history of tap dancing in college and has continued to study other forms of dance, such as modern dance, in more recent years. Recently, she’s been working on writing the biography of her mentor, Harold Cromer. Cromer, who began his 50-year dancing career as a tap dancer on roller skates at the Hudson Guild in the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City, went on to become a member of the dance and comedic duo Stump and Stumpy. Even though he’s over 90 now, he still dances every day, Peacenik said.

“He complains about his knees and grumbles that he’s shuffling and all that, but then he’ll turn around and joke ‘at my age of 47, what more can you expect?’ He never let’s on a hint that he’s so much older.” Peacenik said.

Despite the unusual location of her tiny dnacing stage, Peacenik has found other music teachers and friends in the crowds of Maxwell Street. One man, Melvin, comes to see her every week and brings an African instrument. As he plays and Peacenik dances, she says she’s been able to learn some of his history as well. However, she’s not always blessed with the ease of dancing to music. Often, when no musicians drop by or her music doesn’t work, she’s forced to dance a capella, with nothing but traffic noise as her metronome.

“It’s hard to keep a song in my head with all the noise and then try to also interact with the crowd and say hello to people,” she admits.

Though many people who walk by seem not to notice her as they hurry on to purchase the fresh fruit, cooked Mexican meals, imitation designer bags, sunglasses, or any of a variety of garage sale-esque items, a fair number of people do stop and thank her for her work, tossing a few coins or a couple dollar bills her way. Peacenik admits she earns $20 or $30 an hour during the Market. Even on this austere level, without large crowds gathering to hear her, Peacenik said she works to spread understanding and appreciation of dance one person at a time.

“I love getting little kids to come dance with me – to make some motion and get them embodying the dance as well – that’s wonderful,” Peacenik describes.

Peacenik chose the market as her venue because it’s steeped in history, similar to her art form. She’s been in the same spot for three years. However, just a few minutes earlier, she had been imformed that someone “probably just one vendor,” she guessed, had complained and that she was being forced to either move or get a license in order to remain in her usual spot.

“I like it here,” she said, smiling, “So I’ll probably stick around.”
 — Laura Chernikoff, J Camp Live! staff


Singing the blues

There are statues of some of Chicago’s most famous musicians lining the sidewalks of Maxwell Street, but you’ll find the real musicians further down the road.

A few feet away from busy Maxwell Market Street, James Washington plays classic blues on his cherry red, electric bass guitar. The suffocating heat does not seem to bother him as he performs in the shade of a small tree.

Washington, 72, a slow-moving man with a peaceful face, has been playing the guitar since he was a little boy. He lacks a regular spot on the famous market street, so he plays on the sidewalk, or wherever he can find a couple feet of empty space to set up a stool and rest his small amplifier.

Streams of people flow through the marketplace, some trickling down from the crowd to pass by Washington and throw some spare change in his cardboard box. Every so often, sirens blare from the police cars that whiz by, but the noise doesn’t seem to affect Washington’s passion for playing the blues.

Some wonder why Washington, by day a construction worker, is isolated from the crowd. It’s because Washingotn and musicians like him are banned by law from playing on this famous street.

“Mr. Washington cannot play next to those statue musicians on Maxwell Street, or else he will be arrested,” said Professor Steve Balkin, a Roosevelt University economist. “On that street, there can not be any vendors or musicians because of its historical importance. I feel it’s all about class segregation because the Mayor has replaced the poor people with the rich,” Balkin said.

Balkin believes the government should not be so hard on musicians, especially kind-hearted souls like Washington.

Maxwell Street has played a big role in Chicago’s history and been famous for its melting pot of ethnicities. Aiding the origination of blues, Maxwell Street helped promote famous musicians like Muddy Waters, serving as the homeland to those segregated during the 1930s and40s. With the development of the Maxwell Street Market, many minorities in need of quick cash came here to perform in the street and earn a livelihood.

But in 1994, the original Market Street had to relocate. Due to construction of the University of Illinois, the city council decided “to raise the fee of the market 5000% so that poor vendors can not pay for it,” Balkin said.

Falling from 12,000 vendors to 4000 today, the Market Street that was once so gargantuan and diverse has become restricted.

Now one-third of its original size, the marketplace has excluded hopeful vendors as well as passionate musicians like Washington. Due to construction of strip malls, high taxes, and the agenda of city hall, the diverse community has suffered.

“City hall favors the rich and is the Stalin of Chicago,” Balkin states as he throws some change into the cardboard box in front of Washington’s feet. Washington just shrugs and continues playing the blues, content with his musical performances that bring him a couple of cents every Sunday.

— Christina Chao, J Camp Live! staff

Bite into this

It doesn’t take long to find the best taco at the famous Maxwell Street Market. Just ask around and one name always comes up: La Paz.

Bite into one of these tacos and it’s a mouthful of cheesy, meaty bliss. No wonder the line stretches a dozen deep during the hottest part of the day.

“We have customers that are here every Sunday,” said Evelyn Cruz, while taking a quick break from taking orders. “We are proud that we have a lot of customers that cheer for us, and say they’ll see us next Sunday.”

The La Paz taco stand has been operating for the past 17 years. The stand is owned by Pascuala Arroyo, a native of Guerrero, Mexico, who specializes in tacos that come slathered in melted cheese.

Eight busy workers hover behind the heat of the stoves dancing in a bee-line pattern that ends in a warm taco folded inside of a paper-thin plate. You see the tortilla dough mixed, flattened, and thrown onto a hot stovetop where it jumps straight over to get filled by your choice of sizzling steak, pork, or beef tongue. Add some lettuce, onion, and cilantro and you’re done. Pour on the home-made salsa and squeeze fresh-cut lime to add extra scorch those taste buds.

Gracias a Dios, I have many customers,” said Arroyo the owner, holding her hands to her heart.

But the crowd is hungry, the line is only getting longer, and the workers are bustling to fill the taco demand. It’s time to put the notebook down, place an order and savor one of those “peace tacos.”

— Genesis Barrera, J Camp Live! Staff

From the real estate market to the flea market

Five years ago, James Lolinde thought he was living the American dream.He owned a successful business, had a loving family and adored his occupation.

Lolinde says he lost it all, and now sells everything from welcome carpets to Dora the Explorer dolls at the New Maxwell Street Market. You’ll find him there every Sunday hoping to make some extra money to make ends meet.

“Because some buyers were investing in a quick rich system, people purchased houses they could not afford and the real estate market bubble bursted,” said Lolinde, while waiting for customers.

After escaping from his birth place in Colombia, Lolinde left his family to pursue his passion in real estate. All of his family put their hopes into his success.The oldest of 16 children, Lolinde felt burdened by the pressure of accomplishment.

“If I do well, my family does well and when I do bad, my family will suffer,” said Lolinde.

Lolinde moved to Chicago for its melting pot of culture, people, and opportunities. And over 16 years he did very well. Lolinde opened a real estate business to support his homemaker wife and two college daughters.But when the real estate market took a downturn, Lolinde was forced to seek alternative career paths.

Like many similar real estate agents, Lolinde must now work three times as hard to make ends meet.

“Now, I have to work three jobs to maintain my same lifestyle,” he said. “Some of my other colleagues even went out of business completely.”

As one of his new business ventures, he partnered up with friend Ruben Maza and opened an odds-and-ends business at the flee market. It’s a much different venture than real estate, but Lolinde insists that he enjoys running this flea market business. He’s happy to lend his expertise and see the concession grow.

But Lolinde is not giving up on his original dream.

“I love real estate,” said Lolinde.

For now you’ll find Lolinde underneath the shadow of the Maxwell Walgreens.Sandwiched between hundreds of entrepreneurs who want their first American dream to come true, he is waiting to retrieve it for the second time.

— Kimberly Lee, J Camp Live! staff

Hot doggin’

Photo by Anna Schickele, J Camp Live! staff

Photo by Anna Schickele, J Camp Live! staff

By the time Jorge Romo finishes work at his small, Chicago-based food stand, he has sold more than 270 hot dogs and made about $500 in cash. It’s an impressive feat, considering that Romo is a 14-year-old boy, and his meat peddling skills has earned him a position operating his own serious food business. Despite his age, Romo has taken on the responsibility of personally managing a hot dog stand, its profits and all its workers.

The New Maxwell Street Market rests in the shade of the city’s skyline and is filled with the foreign born murmurings of tired Hispanic vendors pushing their wares. Jorge Romo comes here every Sunday, selling hot dogs with all the trimmings to locals and tourists alike. He runs the stand with his mother, but it’s Jorge who handles the day-to-day business while his mother watches. His duties can be difficult at times since people aren’t used to such young entrepreneurs.

“A lot of times people don’t take me seriously,” said Romo, taking a quick break from selling hot dogs. “I ask them to pay me for their food, but they always try to give it to one of the other older workers. It can be frustrating.”

Romo’s mother got into the hot dog business after moving from Mexico to Illinois at the age of 28. Living in a small apartment, Romo’s mother sold hot dogs and other snacks around her neighborhood, eventually deciding to open her own business. When Romo turned 13, Romo’s mother passed the management duties onto her son. He had been helping her serve food since his toddler years.

“I made my first dollar when I was five, and opened a bank account that same year,” Romo said.

Romo’s duty as a de facto food manager doesn’t prevent him from having a fulfilling teenage life. He still skateboards with friends and hangs out with them. The stand is only open during the New Maxwell Street Market, which occurs only on Sundays, so Romo is still able to focus on school during the weekdays. While his friends are busy playing videogames, he’s earning a regular income, on the way to becoming as successful individual.

“Often, I pay for the phone and cable bills and other stuff like my shoes. Romo said. “Last time I checked, I had about $3,000 dollars in my bank account.”

He doesn’t plan on selling hot dogs forever. He hopes to finish school and find a new line of work. But in the meantime, he’s the guy to see on a Sunday if you’re craving a hot dog in Chicago.

–Pedro Villaruel, J Camp Live! staff

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Editorial: Sticking with journalism

By Sharan Shetty, J Camp Live! staff

The journalism industry seems to be on the steep decline. Newspaper readership is plummeting, advertising is down and layoffs are as common as home foreclosures. The news business seems to be dominated by the Internet.

 But all that doesn’t matter.

The sharing of knowledge, the eternal pursuit to educate and inspire the world around us, is an immortal ideal. And it’s one that can’t just be wadded up and trashed like the morning paper.

Journalism is not a profession. It’s something more. It’s a duty, a commitment, a calling. The men and women who wake up each day to explore and investigate the intricacies of life are among the most courageous and crucial people on our planet. To challenge the notions of the world, to discover and depict the deepest facets of our society, is to truly live. And that will never change.

There will always be journalists. Through good times and bad, through war and peace, love and hate, there will always be the need for a shining voice in the darkness, a familiar face in the shadows.

The apparent decline of the entire journalism industry is merely an external illusion; within the walls of the newspaper presses, the television studios, and the magazine offices remain the same people whose passion is to forever explore the world. The same people who would give their lives to their work.

Because to be a journalist is not only to be a writer, a fighter, a talker or a thinker. It’s something more. Those whose responsibility it is to inform in an unfettered, unbiased way, no matter what the medium, is akin to a higher calling. And it always will be.

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Sun-Times photographer shares his vision

By Alexandria Medellin, J Camp Live! staff

Photo by Logan Parrish-Lopez, J Camp Live! staff

Photo by Logan Parrish-Lopez, J Camp Live! staff

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John White wants aspiring photographers to be the lightning, not the thunder.

During a storm, the thunder makes loud sounds, but it does not do much else, White explains. But lightning is powerful, can be seen, and makes things to happen.

“Be the lightning,” White said to 42 high school students yesterday at AAJA’s J Camp, a week-long summer journalism seminar being held at Loyola University of Chicago’s downtown campus, during which high school students hear from a variety of veteran journalists.

The students sat wide-eyed and mostly silent in the presence of this soft-spoken yet surprisingly powerful speaker who has become an inspirational figure in the world of newspaper journalism.

“There’s always a story in every story,”White said.

The photographer shared many stories and experiences dealing with his photography, his journalism, and his life. White described how large and important occurrences always contain smaller stories that are just as important.

White, while pointing his camera at the ceiling and taking a quick shot, told the students he is always. He then replaced his camera on his shoulder, at the ready. Throughout his speech, White would occasionally snap a candid shot of the wall or an unexpecting student.

Throughout his short speaking time, White gave many words of wisdom. He spoke about the many things that he had learned from such respected figures as Muhammad Ali, a dear friend, and Nelson Mandela, a personal hero, White said.

Fumbling for the right words and trying desperately not to use profanity, White gives much advice to the future journalists.

“Be faithful to your dreams; life is short.” White said. “A hundred years from now you’ll be dead, you know it, I know it.”

Although White has had many accomplishments in his career, he is as humble as one can be. One student is so inspired by White’s wisdom and presence that she is lead to tears.
“I’m just an ordinary person.” White said. “It’s my work that is extraordinary.”

White used several metaphors as examples to further explain his thoughts and ideas to the students. His favorites were taken from nature.

“I want you to be the lighting, not the thunder,” White said.

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