You are currently browsing the monthly Archive for April, 2011.

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.