Anita McBride, former chief of staff to former First Lady Laura Bush, discussed the roles and challenges of being a first lady during a C-SPAN interview on April 14 with political editor Steve Scully and students from George Mason University, Purdue University and the University of Denver.

Being the first lady is the “most important, demanding and unpaid job,” according to McBride.

In the past, the American public expected the first lady to play a traditional role as a homemaker and caretaker to her husband, family and the White House. However, the American public now believes that first ladies have the responsibility to use their voice to make a stance on their platform thanks to first lady and activist Eleanor Roosevelt, according to McBride.

“Over time, we do expect our first lady to be deeply engaged with issues they care about and issues that the nation cares about,” McBride said. “First ladies are best when the choose policy decisions or policy issues that are important to the government at large.

A first lady much choose an issue that they deeply care about and bring their credibility to it, even when the issue is controversial.

Hilary Clinton, for example, took a lot of blows for being so upfront about health care. While she did not retreat from being engaged in issues that were important to her, she did shift her focus to a global landscape. Even though she tried her best to stand up for something, sometimes first ladies must shift their gears to other platforms.

Sometimes, it may be difficult for a first lady to get her platform out because the public is unfairly going after the president by going after his wife, according to McBride.

There has been a backlash on the number of staff First Lady Michelle Obama has in her offices. The number of staff usually varies for each first lady, according to McBride.

“I don’t remember this level of controversy,” McBride said.

While it sounds like life in the White House may be difficult for first ladies and their families, McBride said that it is absolutely possible  to lead normal lives.

“The White House is the one place where there is sanctuary,” McBride said. “You can make a good family life.”

McBride also mentioned that if she were able to choose to work for any first lady, she would choose either Dolly Madison or Abigail Adams.

Madison had a great personality and wonderful hostessing abilities, while Adams had extraordinary character and a strong belief in the possibilities of the nation, according to McBride.

Mandy Jenkins who is now D.C. Social News Editor at The Huffington Post wrote a very interesting post on her blog about the importance being the first person and/or news organization to get a story out first.

What was really interesting was that Jenkins said that many reporters and journalists feel that there is a lack of competition, which is why being timely and breaking a story as soon as possible is not as important.

Like Jenkins, I believe the claim above to be untrue. Even if newspapers are less widespread and are dying out, people still follow the news. Just because there is a lack of newspaper subscriptions does not mean that people are receiving news any less. It just means that people are using different methods in receiving their news.

If anything, people are following news more closely because the Internet allows them to seek information at anytime time. Almost everyone in my Comm 361 class has a smartphone or has 24/7 access to the Internet. I for one, am always receiving alerts and updates on breaking news — either through my phone or my laptop.

I think that reporters and journalists should feel like they have more competition then ever before because immediacy is so important in our technologically advanced society. People are always wanting something more right away — if a news site does not meet our needs then we will jump to another site until one catches our attention and satisfies that need.

The deadline should always be now — not this afternoon, tonight or tomorrow.

Andy Card, former chief of staff to George W. Bush, discussed his position at the White House, his views on the September 11 terrorist attacks and his relationship brotherly relationship with Bush during a C-SPAN interview on April 7 with political editor Steve Scully and students from George Mason University, Purdue University and the University of Denver.

The role of being a former chief is not easy, according to Card, whose typical day began at 5:30 a.m. and ended when he knew the president had gone to bed for the day. Like all other former chiefs of staff, Card was expected to serve for the sole pleasure of the president, which meant that his decisions of bringing certain issues to the president were very important.

“One of the tough issues is delivering information to the president,” Card said. “You need to get all the information that the president needs – not wants.”

Although Card’s goal was to make sure Bush had the “time to eat, sleep and be merry,” certain terrible news, such as the national attack on September 11, could not be withheld from the president.

Bush was reading to students at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida on the horrible day. He had learned about the first crash, and had thought that it had been an accident of some sort. However, after the second plane crashed into the second tower, Card had learned that Osama bin Laden was behind it all.

Card first asked himself if Bush needed to know about the second attack, and then decided to walk up to the president during his reading and said, “America is under attack.”

“I tried very hard on 9/11 not to allow emotion to get in the way of the challenge,” Card said. I tried to be objective that day… The day did change me, and today I will never forget.”

The next few days after the attacks were very emotional, and Card recalled one of the speeches to be very memorable. On September 14, Bush visited Ground Zero and reminded citizens that they were not alone, that he was able to hear them and the whole world was able to hear them.

“I think it was one of the best speeches the president gave of his tenure as president,” Card said.

The events of September eventually led to America’s war against Iraq, a war and decision that Card still supports today.

“His [Bush’s] obligation under the constitution to protect us gives him an awful lot of authority to do what he thinks is necessary to protect the people in the United States,” Card said. “… I am still comfortable with the president doing the right thing. President Bush made a great contribution to that part of the world by giving democracy real roots.”

Card expressed that he felt that Bush was “misunderstood” throughout his presidency, but he believed that he led with “great presidential courage.”

Card spoke with a lot of admiration toward Bush, and said that they were able to speak very candidly toward one another.

“I never felt afraid to talk to him about anything, even if we did not agree,” Card said.

Card shared many experiences with Bush, and watched him grow as an individual throughout his presidency. One of the most important personalities he noticed about Bush was his discipline.

George W. Bush is one of the most disciplined individuals I’ve ever met,” Card said.

Brad Kalbfeld, author of the Associated Press Broadcast Style Book and an Associated Press journalist for 31 years, visited our classroom on April 5 to talk about the evolution of journalism.

Kalbfeld started discussion by presenting the “laptop” that he first started with when he was a reporter overseas in 1982. The laptop was actually a large and bulky typewriter, which everyone considered convenient back in the 80s. The technologies journalists used in the past were heavy, expensive and slow — yet a very limited group of people had access to them as compared to today.

We now have smartphones and laptops at our fingertips, which makes it possible for anyone to have access to information. The ability to instantly connect with anyone around the world has drastically changed the realm of journalism.

During the “analogue world,” news information that readers and viewers received were getting filtered based on what reporters, copy editors, section editors and/or show producers and managing editors wanted to focus on reporting. Stories were filtered by at least four different people before they hit newspapers or television stations, and it was up to at least four different people to decide whether certain stories were deemed as important enough to present to the public.

Today, however, any “Joe Six-Pack,” as Kalbfeld likes to call an average person, has the ability to get whatever he or she wants to the public without other people’s approval. Joe Six-Pack is important in our society because he can make a video of a rollerskating squirrel that may interest a significant amount of people — Joe Six-Pack has therefore forced news organizations to get input from the audience about what is important to them. Nowadays, what matters most is user-participation and feedback from readers and/or viewers.

Readers how have the power,” Kalbfeld said. “The people in the newsroom cannot ignore what readers want, and now readers are now empowered with the information of what’s available.”

What’s great about user-participation is that there is now a range of choices in what stories are made available. Judgements were made by people who were very similar in the past, but because the audience is now in control of which types of news stories are published, news is now very diverse.

“A citizen journalist brings a tremendous advantage in our ability to consume news,” Kalbfeld said. “That advantage is their criticism.”

Although citizen journalists are helpful in bringing light to certain stories that news organizations would usually ignore, Kalbfeld noted that citizen journalists fail to understand that cameras can lie. Therefore, he encourages student journalists and the general public to carefully examine where their news is coming from. Credible sites have a lot of filters that provide a lot of reliable information, according to Kaldfeld.

BJ Koubaroulis, founder of Synthesis Media Productions, visited our class on March 31 to discuss the importance of video to enhance journalistic stories.

Koubaroulis graduated from George Mason University in 2004 and eventually became a sports writer for The Washington Post. He emphasized that he fell in love with following high school level sports as opposed to following college level or professional level sports.

“[High school level sports] is where you get the most access and get the most real people — people who really enjoy what they’re doing, and it’s not for the money,” Koubaroulis said.

He recommended that students first start working at a small newspaper organization so that they have the opportunity to learn what kind of stories they like and don’t like to cover, and so that they can learn to make mistakes. In Koubaroulis’s opinion, it is better to make mistakes at smaller organizations rather than larger ones.

Koubaroulis became a superstar at The Washington Post in 2010 when he posted a story about a student’s homeless odyssey.’ His story stood out amongst others because he added video to his text.

Video gave me the clout to demand more space for a story,” said Koubaroulis.

Nowadays, the use of video and other multimedia platforms have become very important for journalists, therefore young writers should start learning how to produce various multimedia platforms in order to catch readers’ and potential employers’ attention. Koubaroulis’ young interns at Synthesis Media Productions actually produce multimedia packages within 2 hours of covering a story!

“Media companies want to hire people that can do the job of 5 people,” Koubaroulis said. “Do radio, television, video and learn how to use the web — learn all if it!… If you’re not going to change, you’re just going to get left behind. Do all of it, and don’t limit yourself.”

Student journalists need to be able to multi-task and produce stories that contain video, audio and user-participation platforms in order to be valuable. Student journalists can no longer just be a writer because any other person out there can be a writer, but it is difficult to replace a writer when he or she can perform so many other functions.

Koubaroulis said that there are 4 things every student journalist needs, which are:

  1. A camera
  2. A computer
  3. A microphone
  4. The desire to work hard

While technology is very important these days, Koubaroulis warned students to not rely too heavily on media.

“Love it,” Koubaroulis said, “but don’t count on it.”

Mark Potts, journalist and digital pioneer, visited our class this afternoon to share his opinions about online journalism.

“We have not fully taken advantage of what the medium can give us on the Internet or Web,” Potts said.

One way we can take advantage of the Internet is by the use of “crowd-sourcing.” Crowd-sourcing is a way of interacting with audiences to learn about new stories so that journalists can cover them with a different angle.

Another way of taking advantage of the Internet is by turning to Wikipedia. Potts said that Wikipedia is a fantastic news site in which the general public can turn to to see amazing collections of stories that are compiled by journalist citizens.

Below are a few sites that Potts mentioned and expressed his feelings about.

Baristanet + other hyper local sites

  • “A very interesting model for trying to get news back into the neighborhood.”


  • “It’s so local that it’s only important to a couple thousand people… If you live there, then it’s going to be important to you.”


  • “Do what you do, and link to the best.”
  • “People blogging about the community generally do not do it for the money… It’s a very different motivation. It’s not about money, but they do it for the respect of their community.”

Five Thirty Eight Blog + Computational Journalism

  • Nate Silver, the creator of FiveThirtyEight, a blog about election forecasts for the New York Times, “went from zero to being a Top 20 news site in 6 months!”
  • Analyzing available data can turn into a great story


  • “What he [Julian Assange] is doing is very much journalistic… What he did and what the Pentagon Papers did in the 70s was almost exactly the same. You got a whole pile of documents and decided what to make public. You make not like what he decided to make public, but you might not like what the New York Times makes public either.”


  • Twitter is too much noise. It’s nothing but noise… There’s no business model for that at all. I tweet for publicity – that’s the only reason… You find that Twitter burnout is unbelievable… I want good signal, I don’t want a lot of noise.”


  • The most important tool in the last 5 years is not Twitter, but it’s a phone. No questions asked.”

Sites to Visit

  • Tubeify: a music program that uses the Billboards database – look at the Billboards charts and travel through time with music
  • Google Flu Trends: Google searches for flu-related words (cough, sneeze) and puts the data on a map of the world
  • Newsmap: kind of like a tag cloud; story titles are color-coded by type and size (depending on how important the story is)
  • Map of the Market: a map of how stocks are doing at a very quick glance

Kevin Anderson, a journalist for Al Jazeera-English, chatted with us via Skype today from Doha, Qatar.

Anderson started out as a newspaper journalist and gradually moved onto online journalism. He was BBC’s first online journalist outside of the U.K. and was also the Washington correspondent for the BBC website. In 2010, Anderson took what he calls a “leap of faith” and joined Al Jazeera-English.

“The work I‘m doing now is as exciting, if not more exciting, than the work I’ve done in the past,” Anderson said.

He believes that Al Jazeera-English is doing something that no other news organization has done before: covering the Middle East from the Middle East.

“In the past, the Middle East has been covered by the West, and the purpose [of Al Jazeera-English] is to cover the Middle East from the Middle East,” Anderson said. “It’s definitely coming with a radical point of view… and it’s a fascinating point of view. You’ll see things from Al Jazeera that you won’t see anywhere else.”

The current trend in journalism that Anderson is talking about allows people to be their own witnesses and tell their own stories. Anderson thinks that the trend in social media gives the voiceless a voice.

“We are just the beginning of a very fascinating, exciting time in history,” Anderson said. “We’re entering a fascinating time, and how we navigate that will be incredibly interesting, both as citizens and journalists.”

Aside from discussing his thoughts on journalism in the Middle East, Anderson provided tips for journalism students.

Advice #1: Take the initiative NOW.

Set up a blog, start writing, start taking pictures, start doing multimedia storytelling,” Anderson said. “If you’ve got a mobile phone, just take pictures and capture sounds… It’s going to make that first job or that first internship so much easier because you can walk through that door and show that  you didn’t wait to take the initiative.”

Advice #2: Audio is extremely important.

“It’s one of the things that people forget the most… people are pretty forgiving about shaky video these days… what they won’t forgive is sound.”

Remember, 70 % of video is audio.

Advice #3: Don’t forget to weave a story together.

Storify is amazing – it tells stories through pictures, Tweets and Facebook comments by the audience. However, journalists need to remember that they must help in making sense of the contributions from the audience.

“It is still important to have the narrative to weave the story together,” Anderson said.

Advice #4: Network journalism requires journalists to be social.

It is not enough to just build a website. Journalists must “make sure the content is available and take it to where people are congregating online,” according to Anderson.

Journalists are responsible for “using networks to find faces and add faces to journalism” and for “taking journalism to places where people are at online and engaging them on the sites.”

Advice #5: Look back and smile.

It is a tough time in journalism, but journalists must start somewhere, even if you end up at small papers, television stations and/or websites.

“You’ll look back on them [your past experiences] and think they were the best, most exciting times of your lives,” Anderson said. “Don’t work about where you start because it doesn’t determine where you’ll end up!”

Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at TBD visited our class on Tuesday, March 22. He showed us a lot of great interactive sites that can be used by electronic journalists. Check out some of the links below – the stories are interesting, but the way each story is told is even more amazing!

13 Seconds in August: The 35W Bridge Collapse

  • It’s one story, made up of dozens of personal stories!
  • What can you hear? News reports, 911 calls, interviews, ambulance sirens, press conferences, police radio traffic with dispatch
  • What can you see? A combination of graphics and photographs showing the whole bridge that collapsed August 2007
  • PRO: You can start the story wherever you want – it’s a self-guided tour

As a writer in traditional journalism, you have control. But in digital storytelling, we’re sharing more control.” – Steve Buttry

Parksburg Tornado: The Aftermath

  • It consists of before, after and present pictures of homes in Parksburg, Iowa
  • A story unfolds with simple mugshots of flattened homes and footages of surveillance video cameras when the tornado occurred

You can see how a simple map and a different way about thinking about storytelling can become a different vehicle for storytelling.” – Steve Buttry

The Rise and Disappearance of Southeast Louisiana

  • It’s a reporting about what has happened to Louisiana’s land in the past

I’m a good writer, but there is no way that I could write a paragraph about the way Louisiana’s land is disappear the way the map tells the story.” – Steve Buttry

Accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

  • An interactive map that unfolds the disaster Japan is currently facing
  • Viewers have full control of what they want to see on the map by sliding the screen back and forth

Again, you have to give up some control for the users.” – Steve Buttry

Obama’s Inaugural Address

  • An image of the inauguration
  • Can find and identify people

It’s not one picture, but thousands taken with a Gigapan camera.” – Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry’s Tips and Memorable Quotes

  • “Journalists should learn some of the tools (Flash, HTML) to make their stories better.”
  • “Shifting into the unfamiliar digital territory was a little scary, but it was also exciting as hell!”
  • “You’re not going to grown or develop new skills without being uncomfortable.”
  • “It [Twitter] made me get to the point faster… It made me a better writer.”
  • “Always be curious… If a question occurs to you, ask somebody – even if you don’t speak the same language. Someone around you will help you… Ask the question, no matter how difficult it may be.”
  • “My best rule in journalism is to never say ‘No’ for somebody else.”
  • “Don’t let obstacles become excuses.”
  • “I’d rather be beaten on something that is true than spread rumors.”

Jim Iovino, managing editor for NBC Washington, is visiting our COMM 361 class today.

Iovino graduated from Penn State with a major in Communications. He first started work in the newspaper industry, jumped to television, and is now doing online journalism.

He graduated from Penn State University with a major in communications. He started working in the newspaper industry, jumped to television and is now doing online journalism.

Online journalism is important because breaking news travels fast, according to Iovino.

“We break a lot of stories on websites now,” Invino said. “We want to be the first one out there with the story so that we can say, ‘we were the first ones with the story.'”

Being the first one to break a story is important, but Iovino also noted that finding an angle is critical.

“Finding an angle shows that you are not going out there and just repeating what someone else has said,” Iovino said. “Viewers will go back to you because they appreciate that.”

An example of a man who finds interesting angles is general assignment reporter Pat Collins, who also works for NBC Washington. Take a look at his Sandwich Girl story.

“Pat Collins is an incredible reporter because he can get people to say something interesting, say something fun, say something that they would never say to anyone else,” Iovino said. “Whatever story he goes on, he finds an interesting angle that no one else gets.”

Collins also interacts with viewers by making vYou videos. With vYou, Collins is able to talk one-on-one with his audience, which allows him to build a relationship with them. Forming a relationship with his audience is important, because when he goes out to gather information, people within the community feel more comfortable going up to him and giving him tips or leads on stories.

VYou has helped NBC Washington be part of the community because it lets the audience know that they are there for them, and that the audience can help them with news as well, according to Iovino.

Aside from journalistic tips, Iovino also showed us some of the newer projects NBC Washington has been working on and/or is part of. See below.

  • The Feast: focuses on restaurants, shopping, plays, music venues, bars
  • Capital Game Blog: stories and videos about athletes in the video
  • Partnership with American University: out-of-the-box stories/ideas created by American University students
  • The 20: finds the most influential people on Twitter in the Washington, D.C. area (allows people to have voice, give them a platform to speak to people

A lot of NBC Washington’s projects consist of short videos about a story. People love to see short, raw, compressive footage, according to Iovino.

“If the video is the best part of your story and that’s what you think people are going to want to see, then that’s what you should focus on and really give them,” Iovino said. “Just let them know what they are going to see, and then let the video run itself. Why would we spend our time to write a whole big thing about this video if it can speak for itself?”

Aside from videos, what’s next for online journalism within the next few years? Mobile, mobile, mobile, according to Iovino.

“Websites as they look today may not look the same as they will two years from now,” Iovino said. “People want their info wherever they are, and they’ll get it somehow, whether if they get it from you or someone else.”

Our project’s goal is to recover NAMI Northern Virginia history and present it interactively. We will conduct interviews with past board members, do research about the institution and gather information about its history. We will be using different online platforms to organize and present the information.

Our project will be constructed around an interactive timeline. We’ll be using dipity to create it. We’re planning to use YouTube to post our videos, but they also will be linked to the timelime. We will use batchgeo to create a Google map, and point the locations and programs offered by NAMI Northern Virginia. The map will be linked to the timeline. Slideshows, scanned documents and other images will also be linked. We will use social media to disseminate the information we produce, and to reach out to NAMI Northern Virginia’s already established audience on Facebook.

I will be interviewing prior and current NAMI NoVA employees, editing the Website and assisting Ryan and/or Keon with the timeline and/or video editing (time permitting).

I have very strong interviewing and AP Style editing skills, but hope to learn more technological skills by working with Ryan and/or Keon.

So far, I have found different media consent forms for the project, and am waiting for approval from Jeanne Comeau.

Click on the following link to see our story board: NAMI-_History_(Multimedia_Project)