Reflecting on my fieldwork for Comm 440

The fieldwork for this assignment takes a very similar format to the work I’ve done professionally for years, especially the writing and photography aspects of the feature story project.

The form of New Communication Technology I’ve chosen to focus on is activity and health trackers like Fitbit, the Apple Watch and apps like My Fitness Pal. I’ve personally been a Fitbit customer for almost four years, joining because as I was set to start my college career just days later and I wanted to be able to avoid the Freshman 15 I’d been told horror stories about. (Spoiler alert: You can wear your Fitbit as much as you’d like, but if you eat a sandwich from the Erbert’s and Gerbert’s sandwich shop on campus every day, it’ll still come for you.) That being said, I’m incredibly familiar with Fitbit, using it every day and seeing varying results based on how I decide to use the product.

I’ve also witnessed a myriad of Facebook friends, friends and family members start to wear fitness trackers for countless different reasons – wanting to see how many steps they can get while milking cows, in the case of my younger brother, or wanting to drop a few pounds, like many of my friends have done.

It’s become a way to communicate because users can share posts about their successes, post healthy recipes or ask for advice on how to not fall off of the bandwagon. Users are also encouraged to “challenge” one another on the number of steps racked up per day, week or over the weekend.

My personal experience with Fitbit parallels to how I research for my articles that are written in a professional setting. Instead of compiling a clip file or putting together a timeline of events, I am able to pull from my personal experiences.

The other processes in this project have been fairly straightforward. I have written my feature story in a similar style that I’ve written feature stories as a member of the Royal Purple staff or an employee for Unified Newspaper Group. I’m the same photojournalist when taking photos for this story that I am in other situations – I always look for the overarching story, while simultaneously looking for details and emotion. Same with the video and audio aspects – being an electronic media major, I look for the heart of the story for my video and have the interview skills to put together a compelling audio podcast.

What I’ve found – a find that I anticipated – is that the reason for using activity and health trackers varies for everyone because their needs and desired outcomes are different.

Is Google making me stupid?

When I read about New Communication Technologies, I can’t help but think about how they relate to my own habits. Two ideas that resonated with me more than any others were the multitasking and search engine stupidity articles.

I’ve always known I’m terrible at multitasking. I need to be able to focus on one thing at a time, and anything in the background fuzzes out to be insignificant. This doesn’t just involve New Communication Technologies; I cannot hold a conversation with someone while typing an email and I get lost and confused if I’m attempting to watch a Netflix drama and checking Twitter at the same time. (Although each and every time, my mind convinces itself that yes, I can perform both of those tasks simultaneously.) When it comes to Clay Shirky’s policy of having no electronic devices in the classroom, I understand his argument and am at the same time frustrated by it. Because my world as a newspaper editor requires me to be easily contactable if needed, I often despise the idea of having electronic devices turned off. However, I too tire of needing to be constantly connected all the time, and enjoy the excuse of class as a reason for not having to check text messages or Facebook chats that often leave me overwhelmed at the attention I’m expected to dedicate to them.

Where Nicholas Carr and his idea that Google is making us stupid and changing our brains, I can see some of his argument reflected in my own life. I too often scan through documents looking for keywords and have a difficult time reading long-form works such as books and documents. With that notion in mind, I always feel smarter after I take time away from social media and my electronics to read a book. It almost feels like reading off of paper instead of a back-light LED screen allows for me to set the “reset” button in my brain. Where Carr claimed that Google is making us stupid, I think his point has merit – we certainly don’t need to memorize the same way we used to – but I think that point could be made by any information organization system. I don’t remember Calculus equations, but if I really needed to relearn complex math, I could just as easily go to the library and rent a book, in the same way I could Google the quadratic formula. The only thing that changes is the immediacy of the information gathering.

Is Facebook and other social media making us lonely? Only if you let it.

A aspect of the human condition that has plagued us for centuries and quite possibly our entire existence is the idea of scapegoating, or blame-shifting as our methodology for solving our problems. With scapegoating, we are often quick to hand off the struggles in our lives to other external or third-party people or technologies, without taking a deeper look at what might be occurring within ourselves to explain our very personal phenomena. In a society that finds itself being reformed each September with the release of the newest generation of iPhone, we find ourselves often pointing a finger at social media when things in our lives are not matching up to expectations.

Published in the Atlantic, Stephen Marche makes his case for why Facebook is making us lonely, stating that often the social media app reduces our number of interpersonal, in-person interactions with one another and therefore increases loneliness and isolation. Marche says that within decades, the percentage of adults in the United States who feel like they are completely alone or have little to no confidants in which to confide in has increased, and its partially due to the rise of the internet.

Eric Klingenberg, who was cited in Marche’s article as a source to make his case for why social media has contributed to our overall loneliness, disputes Marche’s claims. He says there’s “zero evidence” that Facebook is a major contributor to our loneliness, stating that like other revolutionary forms of communication such as the printing press, the telephone and broadcast media like radio and television, social media is just a tool in which we amplify the realities of our own lives.

While I see Marche’s reasoning that social media has the ability to isolate us, I don’t think that social media is the reason for the isolation; rather, I side more with Klingenberg’s argument that online social media platforms provide us an outlet to unwittingly amplify our loneliness without anyone noticing otherwise.

While I often feel frustrated by the amount of my attention that social media often requires of me, I disagree that Facebook and other platforms are the reason for me being lonely. If I feel lonely, it is because I am personally feeling it already and social media is not working to improve that feeling. In these instances, social media only amplifies those feelings of loneliness.

I would also argue that social media does a better job of keeping me connected than I would normally have time for, given my hectic schedule full of running a newspaper and managing a full load of classes. Access to social media allows me to remain close with people who matter to me without having physical closeness. To me, that dispels the loneliness I feel, because I know they too are behind a screen feeling cared for because I’m taking the time out of my day to send a text message to them. So no, Facebook does not make me lonelier. It only serves as an outlet to either relieve or amplify my loneliness – in the end, it is my choice on what I feel.

“Twitter and Tear Gas” Chapter 1 Reflection

In the first chapter of the book “Twitter and Tear Gas,” author Zeynep Tufekci writes about how the digital revolution has changed our sense of community. She starts the chapter with a story of her grandmother, who, born in Turkey, who was exposed to a shift in community when she won a scholarship to a prestigious school for gifted girls. She had been pulled from school by her parents when she was 10 because her parents had decided she had received enough schooling, but with her attendance at the Istanbul boarding school, she was witness to an entirely new world.

This, Tufekci argues, happens as communication technology advances. A standardized, national language and access to communication – something Tufekci says we take for granted in nations with a democratic style of government – is created when our methods of communication expand to have the ability to reach greater, more populous networks outside of our immediate family and friends. Newspapers had this ability, as did the invention of the telephone, radio and television, but only to a limited population of people each time. With the rise of Facebook and Twitter as social media networks that are open to anyone and can be used with a connection to the Internet, our notions of what a community is has become more imaginary and can involve a large number of traits, like political affiliation or the attendance at the same school.

Tufekci turns to the Arab Spring protests in January 2011 as an example of how social media like Facebook and Twitter allow for changes in how social media has changed our idea of a community and bring freedom for people who are otherwise being restricted in their speech and their actions by an authoritarian regime. In creating a public sphere in the digital realm, the information about the protest, later named Arab Spring, was spread to an audience much larger and more diverse than the organizer’s own Facebook friends list. As a result, thousands of people showed up, eventually toppling the government. The prevalence of social media is a phenomenon the authoritarian government cannot tighten their grip on either, since a large number of the population uses it not for political action, but rather for contact with their loved ones who may not live within the country. For those who do use the social media sites as a vehicle for political mobilization, it gives people the ability to speak more freely online than they can in their physical communities. Pairing that with the potential for an increased audience, communication has once again transformed to bring people closer regardless of their physical location.

“It Takes a Village to Find a Phone” and “Love Online” responses

In “It Takes a Village To Find a Phone,” a woman named Ivanna loses her Sidekick cell phone in the back of a cab in New York City. She assumes it’s lost forever, until she and her friend Evan discovers that the person in possession of the device has been photographing herself and sending emails off of her phone after the information from the lost device had been transferred over to the new one. Using the internet and its ability to engage a mob mentality, the woman in possession of the phone, named Sasha, was eventually arrested for stealing the device when the public demanded justice for the theft.

In the article “Love Online” in the MIT Technology review, the author Henry Jenkins talks about his son (also named Henry) and his experience with having a girlfriend and how dating worked in an online communication format. His son Henry and his girlfriend Sarah met only after they began dating, but that didn’t prevent the feelings from being real, Jenkins writes. Jenkins also notes that the idea of long-distance relationships is not new, using his own lineage as an example. His grandparents wrote letters during war time as a way to stay in contact; Henry was doing the same thing as his grandparents, with the difference being the mode of communication used to facilitate that long-distance relationship. The only differences are the lack of paper and pen used to write the letter, and the immediacy of the message sent.

A concept I had never given much thought to before reading “It Takes a Village to Find a Phone,” group-formation is heavily integral to social media’s existence. I’d say we’ve always wanted to be categorized into groups as human beings – not only do we like being social, but we love stereotypes and common traits between people that shorten our thinking processes when it comes to knowing whether we can trust another person or not. Social media and internet usage amplifies that to where you can belong to any group, regardless of who you are or where you might be located. Group-formation can swing to be both positive and negative – in considering how Sasha felt, the group-formation against her must have been overwhelming. They definitely made her aware that she was not a part of their group. It can be positive as well, as we are better able to talk with others who are dealing with the same life pressures and issues as us, or are able to utilize better forms of communication to stay in tune with other people we already consider our “group.” This allows for not only group-forming, but “architecture if participation” – because of the diversity of the group, you likely have someone who is a professional or has the similar skill set as a professional doing the work for you, like investigating a person you find to be unsettling or discovering information on another person, as two examples.

Society has always had to adapt to changes in communication, because we are heavily social beings. Our culture changed from oral to written with the invention of the Gutenberg; as we continue to process with our technology and the modes of communication that accompany it, we will also change our own schemata around how we as a society communicate. It’s easy to say that our methods of communication changed rapidly after the first smartphone was debuted in June 2007. In reference to these two articles, communication was the leading factor in how they found the woman with the cell phone and what made it possible for Henry and Sarah to have a relationship with one another, despite being physically separated by thousands of miles. Because we have the ability to perform these kinds of communication, our society adapts to integrate them into our everyday lives.

Looking at what makes people take the risk of sharing information with the world that they can’t take back, I think the need to belong through sharing with others outweighs the idea that there is some information we wouldn’t shout to the world without the social media platform. From personal experience, I’ve tweeted a lot of jokes that I believe are funny that I would never say to a random person on the street, yet my Twitter feed is open for anyone with or without an account to view. I’ve shared photos on Instagram that I wouldn’t fame in my home, but yet want people to see so they can shape a mindset of me as a good photographer. As each of our reasons vary, I believe they all trail back to the idea of group-formation and developing relationships with other people. Like the two examples in the readings, we want to be seen as belonging to something or someone, whether it be a social movement to return a Sidekick phone or to a specific person.

I think the biggest takeaway I have from the articles, especially the one with the Sidekick phone, is that we often focus so heavily on the positives of social media interaction that often we don’t slow down and think about what negative impacts the person on the other end of the screen may be having. It especially struck a chord with me when I considered how Sasha felt in this ordeal – she had just found a phone in the back of a cab, which isn’t illegal, but she was demonized for not giving it back. While correspondence on her part could have been handled better, she also had an army of people dig into her life, which isn’t the greatest feeling. In the pursuit for the phone, there was the possibility for greater damage to be done in the name of justice that doesn’t really feel like justice at all.

One last blog post for J4TW

I’ve really enjoyed taking Journalism for the Web this past semester.

I’ll be honest, I started off with a nervous, gut-wrenching feeling about it. I’d attempted an online class last semester, and dropped out only a few days later. The thought of not having a class to sit in and a face-to-face teacher every day was enough to make me drop it. I told myself to keep an open mind with J4TW, knowing I was going to eventually need to pass this to graduate.

I learned how I should be managing a journalism website, when I should be using social media to benefit my job and how to handle online feedback. I found I gained a new perspective in each week’s instruction.

Thank you, Kyle, for sharing your knowledge and experiences within the field. It’ll serve as a great foundation to build upon during my summer internship.

Changes I made for the semester:

-I made a conscious effort to keep the blog consistent

We were told, in the beginning of the semester, to make the blog something we were passionate about. Luckily, the assignments we were given to write about (Scott Pelley, etc.) matched the content I cared about most. When I chose my topic for the week, I took into consideration what takeaways I’d received from the media industry this week, through my own experiences or listening to others. The writing I did for this blog assisted in my growth from the journalist I was in January to the one I am now.

-I learned how important it is to include art with my blog

Being a photographer, I knew how important having art in a newspaper was – running a blog made me realize how important it is to my online web presence, as well. It led me to consider what kind of web content I should not only be putting on my blog, but my professional Twitter feed as well.

I think my professional Twitter feed is infinitely better because of it.

-I worked to create content that was SEO

This involved me looking at how I could create tags and boost my blog posts on my own WordPress site, but I did this more so with the Royal Purple stories I had to post each week. I wouldn’t let the stories we wrote be published until I got a green light on our Yoast SEO – it was my blog and the rest of the class material that prompted me to do so.

-I added more of my own work to the blog

Layout-wise, my blog didn’t change much. I like the clean, one column design for it, with links on the side. I would have liked to improve it to look more like a news site, but my options for a layout like that were limited. I’ll use those skills I learned with web design to help choose a new layout for the Royal Purple’s website in future semesters.


Saying goodbye…?

We took a photo tonight as the RP editorial staff, minus a few people. This is the decent one. Photo by Amber Levenhagen.

We took a photo tonight as the RP editorial staff, minus a few people. This is the decent one. Photo by Amber Levenhagen.

I’m not a graduating senior, nor am I anywhere near close – I’ve got until December 2018 to figure out how to con a real-life news director into giving me a chance.

So why am I sitting here, on our last night of layouts for the Royal Purple for the semester, getting all sentimental?

A wave of nostalgia has hit me twice today – once this morning as I threw the last rounds of Internet News onto UWW-TV’s a-list for publication, and tonight, as I realized I was laying out the Royal Purple‘s news section in entirety for the last time.

It dawned on me this would be my last time sitting at the news computer, putting together a budget, stressing how I would find time to write my stories for the upcoming week.

It’s stressful, and even though I’ll hopefully receive confirmation of my promotion at the RP at the end of the semester, I’m going to miss it. I accepted the job of News Editor a year ago because as the Photo Editor, I ached to write something.

But as heartbroken as I feel to leave my job as News Editor behind, watching my Assistant News Editor proclaim herself as my successor, this is a fantastic feeling at the same time.

I know at point this makes me sound like a scratched record, or in this age, a corrupted .wav file, but if I’m going to write one last blog for this class, I’m going to use it to encourage you all to go out, join campus media and get your hearts broken.

Your memories will be your first-aid kit.

Keep celebrities out of journalism

Michael Strahan, Kelly Ripa

I can feel it as I type this: my opinion on this wouldn’t be popular with the general public.

All I really have going for me is the fact I’m not debating a heavily-contested issue, such as politics, the NFL Draft (that guy who is good with a football should have totally gone to another team last night) or the whether the dog filter on Snapchat is cute.

No, my opinion lies within the “national nightmare” that was Michael Strahan up and leaving his show with Kelly Ripa for Good Morning America, without even so much of a mention.

Rude? Maybe. From a rational person’s standards, I’d say its pretty likely, but I don’t know what kind of co-worker Ripa is.

My issue comes in when celebrities are given the job of a journalists, because they’re personable and have name-recognition. I believe there’s a part of the media industry where that kind of mentality belongs – it’s called advertising.

When it comes to the news, it should be reserved for people who worked as writers, reporters and producers for these shows for years, who deserve a promotion for their hard work. I think we need to be asking ourselves where the objectivity and reputation of being truthful has been during these celebrities’ whole professional career before we accept them onto our TV sets each day.

To drag advertising back into this, Strahan has done advertising, with Vaseline, GotMilk? and Subway.

Michael Strahan

You know for a fact that David Muir, Lester Holt and Scott Pelley would have never gotten where they are now, had they sold their image and likeness. It would have been considered a compromise and a betrayal of their objectivity.

It’s again that same song of ratings-driving-content that has come to bother me in the past year. I think it’s fine right now for celebrities to host entertainment shows, but the news needs to be off-limits.

I wouldn’t want to have Kim Kardashian moderating a political debate or Robert Downey, Jr. covering a catastrophe the size of 9/11 or the Boston bombing, and neither should the American public.

We all deserve better news, and better journalists. Celebrities are not the answer.

If you ain’t first, you’re … probably right

I titled this photo when I saved it after a Leslie Knope quote, "you rule-breaking moth." However, the irony lies in the idea that we need to stick to our journalistic principles of finishing the race to the story without mistakes, while not worrying if we're going to come in first with them. Photo courtesy of Yahoo (a little awkwardness here with Katie Couric)

I titled this photo when I saved it after a Leslie Knope quote, “you rule-breaking moth” because of how much I have admired Scott Pelley, even before he took over the CBS Evening News. However, the irony lies in the idea that we need to stick to our journalistic principles of finishing the race to the story without mistakes, while not worrying if we’re going to come in first with them. Photo courtesy of Yahoo (a little awkwardness here, when we consider Katie Couric…).

Oh, how perfectly this blog post assignment flows directly from last week’s post about “The Newsroom.” As I talk about journalistic integrity the show has taught me, I sometimes forget one thing: I can learn the same things by watching the news as well. I just need to listen a little closer, and consider the presentation a little bit more.

What I’m about to say is going to need a little bit of context, so here you go. Is the video a little pixelated to the point where I had to look away at times? Yes. But what’s really important here is the message about our current state of journalism ethics.

I agree with Pelley wholeheartedly on what he says about the current state of journalism, and how we rush to fan the flames of gossip and rumors, while our own house is burning, as he says.

We’re fighting fire with fire, and then wondering why the American public has lost trust in us. Some of it is because the American public wants to hear news commentary that reiterates and confirms their own opinions, instead of prompting them to think outside of what they’re being told. As frustrating as that is, we can’t change the minds of those who have closed them and buried the key deeply inside their own egos. There’s no fix to that.

What we are doing, when we forego confirming information and running with the first piece of information we get, is we are alienating the viewers with open minds who just want the facts of all sides of the story.

Pelley says the medium we publish our work on should not change the integrity we write it with. A couple things have led to this downfall, and it has to do with the need to be first to report a story, and the idea that social media is all we need as a first and second confirmation on our stories.

I agree with Pelley in saying these two ideas are wrong, and here’s why:

The need to be first

This is especially where my commentary from last week’s “The Newsroom” really comes into play.

In the episode “Fix You,” one of the graphics designers in the control room has Arizona Sen. Gabby Giffords declared dead, as corporate executives are begging the news team to report it first, despite NPR already declaring it.

Will refuses, saying a doctor pronounces someone dead, not the media – and they were right. You can feel the relieved look of the graphics designer as he removes the “2011” from alongside her birth year.

Pelley says the need to be right comes from our own egos and the competitive game news networks play with one another, which I agree with. On the other hand, I wonder if we would have that same need to be first to break a story all the time, should we not have the company executives, who are more concerned with ratings than our journalistic principles of being right, telling us that we need to be?

It’s a combination of both, in my opinion, because company executives threaten the jobs of journalists, editors, executive producers, anyone and everyone, through the ratings.

It’s ratings-driven content, versus the quality of your content driving ratings.

Because, as Pelley said, no one will remember if you were first, but they’re never going to forget that you were wrong. Journalists need to report the news, and forget about the ratings for those broadcasts – and their business execs at the top need to do the same.

Social media

I love my social media as much as anyone, and I love live-tweeting events I attend. But should I base my stories off of what I’m saying, without taking other perspectives into consideration to balance out the story? Absolutely not.

This is me, as an aspiring journalist, saying each and every journalist will always have the slightest trace of bias in their reporting, if we’re only using ourselves as a source through social media. It’s why we balance things out with multiple perspectives and verify/attribute every piece of information we get, or so we should.

Pelley says that in the rush to be first, we take what we find on social media and run it, with no verification or confirmation. It’s what makes the concept of citizen journalism so dangerous, on the flip-side of the coin of it being helpful.

It’s only helpful when we can confirm things, but who has time to do that when you’re rushing to be first?

I also find myself agreeing with Scott Pelley in the idea that social media is gossip, and has no place in a newsroom if there’s no trace of verification behind it.

I take it a step farther than Pelley by saying reporting anything trending on social media that doesn’t have a direct impact on a portion of your viewers doesn’t belong in the newsroom either. Does the trend of #BlackLivesMatter belong? Yes, since the riots are taking over Ferguson. Does a trending video of two twins laughing at one another have a right to be on the news, just because people think it’s cute?

I’ve told the station director at UWW-TV that I don’t want to see anything trending from Twitter or Facebook on that show anymore, for that reason. Those on the show already force their show to suffer from a lack of original reporting from the writers as it is, why add in a topic talking about a “possessed baby” standing on the edge of its crib?

There’s no integrity in that, and you know for a fact that Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite would have passed on it.

A final note, on watching Pelley speak

I’ve admired Pelley for a while – hell, I even wrote on my Facebook page that we would be “bros” when sharing a 60 Minutes Overtime video about how his first love was still photography.

I love listening to professionals speak, because they’ll dig deep into their roots, and it allows me a measuring stick to align my own beliefs up against.

So thanks for the knowledge, bro.

A few takeaways from “The Newsroom”


Photo courtesy of HBO. Hearts placed carefully by yours truly.

I know you’re not supposed to say this only five episodes in, but I love “The Newsroom.”

I live on a constant rule that I need to be working hard every day, but not all day – it’s mandatory to take a Netflix break when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

So, because “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” hasn’t come back for a second season yet and I finished off “30 Rock,” I had a hole in my heart I thought couldn’t be filled. I had such a connection with Liz Lemon, as we both worked long hours rewriting. Together, we dealt with sometimes-ridiculous staff who, if they’d have done their work as well as they’d pushed our buttons, they’d have been stellar.

I thought I would never find a connection with a fictional character like that again. But along came “The Newsroom’s” Will McAvoy, and Mac. They started to heal me – and made me consider what kind of journalist I strive to be, both in the now, and someday, in the real world.

1. What I should be reporting

I think this is what struck me the hardest, looking at what I write now, and what I’ve reported in the past. I haven’t done too bad, when we look at my track record with the Royal Purple. Knowing I write long, I pick only the most impactful stories and art for my section.

My track record with UWW-TV, however, isn’t quite so nice and polished.

I used to co-host a show referred to as “The 10,” because, well, we talked about our top 10 stories of the week. For the most part, I wrote about things I thought mattered – the latest terrorist attack or shooting, politics (which my co-anchors loved) and breaking news that I’d push back the script for.

But then there would be times I’d write about a new iPhone. The Kardashian family adding a prematurely canonized family member. A story about a birthday cake that went viral.

I wonder what the hell I was thinking when I thought a cake had any relevance to my life outside a glance on Facebook.

I still see things from my prior perspective. Yes, people think the news is too negative, so we should fill it with just enough feel-good stories about overly cute dog-shaming and babies to make the audience happy.

But we make the audience happy like the parent who lets their children get dessert without making them finish their vegetables. They’ll love you for it, but it’s not good for them – we have to give the broccoli of the truth before we appease them with the chocolate pudding of puppies and viral videos. It’s the concept of content driving ratings, not the other way around.

You can’t tell me you wouldn’t be able to replace the last puppy package of the night with another news story – be it national, local, community-based – that could be beneficial to someone.

Seeing Mac list out her rules for their News Night 2.0 made me feel guilty. As it should, since I was feeding into the hashtag trend, and ignoring the problems right in front of me.

So now, I’ve loosely interpreted Mac’s rules to my own journalism career. Is this story in historical context, is this the best possible form of the argument? “Is this information we need in the voting booth?” has translated into “Does this matter to anyone on Whitewater’s campus?”

I’ll follow these rules, to be a journalist I’m proud of.

2. How I should treat my staff

I know having worked with people at the Royal Purple and UWW-TV long enough, if you don’t treat people like they’re valuable to you, they leave, or at least they think about it.

Watching Will wire a quarter of a million dollars to Egypt for the freedom of a native correspondent on the ground only reaffirmed that thinking. You stand up for one of your own, and for others, even if they aren’t your own.

I don’t necessarily only want to show my staff I care through monetary form, however; I want to make time to help them learn, and learn from them. Take time or them, and no matter what, let them know they’re invaluable to you, even if they aren’t.

3. What my role is

Prior to going off at the sorority girl, Will didn’t want to bother anyone, so he ran what all of the other news orgs did. He wrote what was safe. He’d approve ratings-driven content, not content-driven ratings.

Watching him interrogate anyone and everyone has clued me in as to how I should be approaching my stories, especially when I take on my role as a political journalist.

He’s not afraid to call people out and make them defend their position, and works to expose corporations like the Koch Brothers. I won’t be looking at the Koch Brothers any time soon, most likely, but I can at least take a more aggressive, in-depth look into the topic so I can make people really own up to their words, like Will and his team do.

My role is to be the representative of the people watching and reading, not the people I talk to.

I think my biggest take-away, however, is I have to live with the fact that I’m a Will McAvoy, who’s tasked with explaining the world to a bunch of “Dumb and Dumber” Larry’s.