island life, a supplement.

there is nothing better than a ferry terminal, and the docks of Vashon Island when the lights from the boats are diffusing through the night. I am currently feasting on kale soup, olive bread, and great beer as my aunt’s twenty-two pound cat sits on my lap and she provides a running narration of her and my uncle’s recent ill-fated and accidental cruise through the Panama Canal. some gems:

“oh, he was delightful. until he started gambling. and drinking.”
“we stopped getting margaritas and solitary bottles of beer and started having entire bottles of gin delivered to our room nightly.”
“we had to fight our way through the omelet line.”
“there were wheelchairs. oh god, were there wheelchairs.”

downpour.

the man on my left smells like cheap wine, the boy on my left smells like bad fish and chips. the only coffee place in concourses A, B, or C of Midway was a Potbelly’s sandwich shop which “brews Starbucks.” but I’m having trouble caring about any of these less than ideal situations, because it has been raining in Portland for days and days and I am flying home into a flood. home to a turntable in my kitchen, to beautiful people and their respective fat cats, to Lebanese food until I die, to the glorious money suck that is Powell’s, to road trips and the ocean. simultaneously, I feel like I’m leaving some sense of home behind. I don’t seem to notice how attached I’ve become to Galesburg, to it’s brick streets and graffiti, to the window seats in the Beanhive, to Cherry Street, to the salsa at Quick Sam’s (in my defense, it’s really, really good, alright?), to the Midwestern sky when a storm is rolling in, until I’m watching it disappear into the horizon from a train window. as polar as the two cities are from one another, they share in common the beautiful quality of being unstuck in time, and I suppose that’s all that any sense of home really is.

pub nights

As I was signing up for classes last week, I needed to finish up some requirements for my creative writing major. My advisor asked my why I hadn’t taken workshops yet and I told him it was because they are generally offered on Wednesday evenings, which are pub nights. He got really quiet and at first I didn’t understand the judgmental look that flashed across his face. “Nooooo. No, no, no, no. Publication night. For TKS,” I added quickly realizing my mistake. Be careful where you abbreviate.

Stuffed animals

The union board’s stuffed animal event briefly broke the office. One by one, editors disappeared, returning 20 minutes later with stuffed animals and juice boxes jealously clutched in tight fists. Then the five year old high set in. Stuffed animals were named. Wars broke out. Giggles set in. Even Anna was brought to childlike glee by a stuffed turtle and a bowl of animal crackers.

The only editor who stayed immune, dignity unblemished, was Charlie. He sat on the office couch. His confusion and exasperated stare was magnified by his hipster glasses as he calculated how many hours our bout of childishness would be adding to his long night in the office and how many gray hairs he would have by the year’s end.

Allow me to explain to you the madness of a newsroom on Election Day

(Although that’s not entirely accurate, as we reported yesterday from the makeshift “news hub” in the Rog Lodge. But whatever.)

Being a reporter on Election Day is exhilarating. If you’ve ever live-tweeted anything, imagine that experience quintupled, and you’ll get an idea of the intensity that goes into covering the largest national event to happen in four years. For me, Election Day began at 9 a.m. pushing out our liveblog and ended at 10:30 p.m. with calling the election for Obama. And if we’re really getting technical, it wasn’t over until about 4 p.m. today, when I updated my story online to include info (or the lack thereof) on the race in Florida.

Marathon reporting is a high you ride while observing 150 students milling beneath you in the Rog Lodge, and you think absentmindedly, “That’s pretty cool.” Covering an election is watching your star graphic designer turn exit poll results into pictures in the blink of an eye. Gauging the student reaction is circulating amongst your friends, professors and fellow students, snatching them out of conversation for a quick soundbite. And being an active participant is grabbing the mic to ask a question of a professor nearby and then handing it back as quickly as possible so you can type up the answer and blog it. It’s darting in and out of both roles–journalist, student, journalist, student–until they blend inextricably and all you know is that you care about this election deeply, and you’re in a room of other people who feel the same way, and it’s you bringing them the information, the swing state results, the electoral college tally, and it is exhilarating.

My staff has told me today that I apparently feed off of stress. This may be true. I like for things to be moving forward; I like feeling a little bit rushed. Yesterday was horribly hectic, as covering a national election is something you’ll only do once as a college journalist, so you’re never quite sure if you’re doing it right. But I think it came together. I think it worked. And I loved yesterday. I really, really did.

Watching history

Everyone is the press box saw it coming.

As soon as the Prairie Fire got the ball into the redzone it was clear senior running back Derek Mortensen was going to get the ball. He already had scored five times in the game, which at that point had him tied for the school record, and with the way the game was going getting his record breaking sixth was inevitability.

On the next play Mortensen plowed through the line once again, continuing his onslaught on the Knox record books.

Prairie Fire fans you are watching history. Mortensen is the most prolific scorer in the history of the Knox football program (the six touchdowns against Lawrence gave him an all-time best 28 for his career) and has the benefit of running behind probably the best offensive line the school has had in the last two decades.

The best part: Mortensen is coming back for one more year, while tackles Jeremy Ransom and Jordan Willits as well as guard Austin Finley return up front. This should get fun.

Things Photographers Do…

Takes a photo of the sunset.

Sun moves a little bit.

Takes another shot of the sunset.

Sun moves a little bit.

Takes another shot of the sunset.

Sun moves a little bit.

Takes another shot of the sunset.

Sun moves a little bit.

Takes another shot of the sunset. “Okay, that was the last one.”

Sun moves a little bit.

Photographer twitches.

Sun moves a little bit.

Photographer starts to hyperventilate.

Sun moves a little bit.

Photographer cracks. CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK…. CLICK CLICK… CLICK CLICK CLICK… CLICK. “I’m done.”

CLICK.

…sun moves a little bit.

 

Election Day 2012

It’s almost here, folks. Get ready.

  • TKS will be live blogging all day on Election Day about what’s happening on campus.
  • TKS managing editor Charlie Gorney and your humble EIC (myself) will be live tweeting from the campus-wide election night party in the Rog Lodge (7-10 p.m. on Tuesday). We’ll give you the scoop on the results as they come in, the commentary from the professors at the party, and reactions and opinions from the student body. Follow @Charlie_Gorney and @anna_strophe.
  • Keep checking the TKS website during the day for quick stories on what’s happening at the polls. Don’t forget to bookmark our Election 2012 Special Topics page. (Apologies for the less-than-pristine layout; I am still learning how to build wireframes that translate well into full-fledged designs.)
  • If you see a TKS reporter out and about on Election Day (we’ll be wearing our snazzy purple TKS t-shirts), flag us down and talk to us! We want to know what you think about the election, so if you want to contribute to election day discourse, just flail wildly and we’ll come over. (Or just approach us. That works too.)

On the subject of hats

BREAKING: I’m a Democrat.

By saying this, I have committed a horrible journalistic crime. Due to the need to remain impartial, journalists don’t usually publicize their political views. They don’t volunteer for political campaigns. They don’t display candidate swag. Many register as nonpartisans. Admitting that you belong to one party or another is tantamount to heresy.

But should it be? I don’t think so. And perhaps, as a politically involved individual, I’m rather biased on this account. But that’s the point: everyone is biased, regardless of what they say. Show me a person devoid of opinions, and I’ll show you a liar. As journalists, we try to present the news in the most objective way possible, and that’s a good thing, because people need to know the facts without them being colored by campaign staffs and super PACs. But even the details that we choose to include in a story indicate what we personally believe to be important. The way we punctuate quotations adds emphasis where we want it to.

I do a lot of political reporting. I like political reporting. As a student of political science, I like to think I have a decent grasp on political issues and can thus help explain them to non-political science people. And every time I write an article, I check to make sure I’ve included praises and criticisms of both candidates that are based on their actions, not my viewpoints projected onto their actions. I check to make sure that the general flow of political discourse in the media and in academia would agree with me (although the two are sometimes not reconcilable). I don’t want to be biased; I want to tell the truth and not tell it slant–but the world is what we perceive it to be, and we can never completely remove our perceptions from the picture. I am certainly not exempt from this. And I believe it’s okay to have a bias as long as you work to minimize it and as long you make it clear upfront where you’re coming from.

So I’m a Democrat. I’m not going to hide it. When I go to cover the election night party next week, I’ll wear my TKS t-shirt rather than an Obama one, but I’m still going to cheer loudly when Obama wins (crossing my fingers, although most polls agree with me on this one; sorry, GOP). The minute I’m done reporting, I’m going to Cherry Street to celebrate with my fellow Dems. It’s like wearing different hats: you take them on and off as you please, but the ones you don’t wear remain in your closet, still a part of your wardrobe. Hiding them doesn’t change the fact that they’re there.

When you’re reading an article, know what hats the writer owns. Know, but don’t think that the presence of a political one inhibits the writer’s ability to convey useful information. As humans, we all have a perspective, a vantage point from which we see the world. And that cornucopia of perspectives is an excellent thing–not a skeleton in the closet.