Elon, Burlington communities: ‘What we want to hear from Obama’

Posted December 11, 2008 by keegancalligar
Categories: Uncategorized

Elon University and Burlington, NC residents explain what they want to hear as the nation’s 44th president, Barack Obama, is sworn in on January 20. 

By Keegan Calligar

December 11, 2008

 

Throughout president-elect Barack Obama’s campaign, Americans were extremely vocal and arguably more involved in politics than ever before.  Next up for Obama is his January inauguration, and members of the Elon and Burlington communities continue to voice their opinions about what they want to hear as the 44th president is sworn into office.

 Tony Williams, a Burlington resident and Walmart employee, wants to see Obama talk about the economy and the war in Iraq. williams

 “I’d like him to talk about the economy, to continue to do that things that’s necessary to get the economy back on track,” said Williams, a 33-year Air Force veteran. “And at the same time, also concentrate on getting the military people out of Iraq. I don’t feel like they should have been there to start with.”

 Adam Short, a visiting instructor in political science at Elon University, also believes that Obama should talk about the current economic crisis.

“I would like to see him touch on his plans for the economy,” Short said. “He has stayed in the background in the past few weeks on the auto bailout and plans for an economic stimulus package, so I would like to know more on day one what his plans are.”

Harlen Makemson, an associate professor of communications at Elon, believes Obama should talk about the recession, as well as uniting Americans of different political parties.

“I definitely want to hear him talk about the specifics about what he’s going to do with the economy, what his plans are,” Makemson said. “I’m encouraged by the people he’s putting into place, but the problems are so many and so immense, I’d like to know where he’s going to go first to tackle these sorts of things.

“I would like to hear more about how he’s going to try to bridge the seemingly huge gap between left, right, red state, blue state. There seems to be some good things he’s done on that aspect as well, but I think there’s so much work to be done and I worry sometimes that perhaps its too big to be crossed. So certainly, his work’s cut out for him in addressing those two things,” he added.

Brian Collins, the associate director of residence life at Elon University, hopes that Obama will address the United States’ role in the global community.

 

 

Harlen Makemson hopes Obama will discuss the economy and how he plans to unite Americans of different political parties.

Harlen Makemson hopes Obama will discuss the economy and how he plans to unite Americans of different political parties.

“I think I’m hoping that he talks about improving the way America is viewed by the rest of the world, and [talks] about [how] we need to come together as a community, and that there is a world community, and that we all play a part in that,” he said.

 

 

“What the United States does has an affect on what everyone else does, and vice versa,” he added. “So our energy policies, for example, play a big role in how we are viewed in the world and how we work with other countries. I think those are the two biggest things I hope to hear.”

 

Burlington resident Joni Grooms said that while she did not vote for Barack Obama and is not happy that he is going to be president, she would like to hear how the president-elect plans to pay for new, government-funded programs.

 

“Mainly what I would like him to talk about is how he’s going to pay for all of the things he’s proposing, [such as] the new jobs and the changes for America,” she said. “[I’d like to know] how he’s going to pay for them, if he’s going to raise taxes or … if he’s going to cut other things out of the budget.”

Pauli Hawkins, a Burlington resident and Walmart employee, hopes Obama will address the increasing unemployment rate.

What’s he going to do to help people with jobs?” she asked. “He’s such a good man, anything he says I’ll be happy with.”

 

Hawkins worries came on the same day that an article on Bloomberg.com article said that the current unemployment rate has soared in the past weeks.

 

“Initial jobless claims increased 58,000 to 573,000 in the week ended Dec. 6, the highest level since November 1982, from a revised 515,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said today in Washington,” said the articles authors, journalists Timothy R. Homan and Shobhana Chandra. “The number of workers staying on benefit rolls reached 4.429 million, also the most since 1982.”

Pauli Hawkins wants to know how Obama plans to create jobs.

Pauli Hawkins wants to know how Obama plans to create jobs.

 

 

 

Mary Morrison, the director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning at Elon, explained that she wants Obama to inspire others to take part in community service.

“My hope is that Barack Obama will be able to inspire a whole new generation of people who are committed to public service, who can restore the next generation’s belief in government and the power of government, and also in their own efficacy for addressing issues on a local level,” she said.

Obama will be sworn in on Jan. 20, and tickets for the event are proving extremely hard to acquire. The event is free if a citizen’s request for tickets is granted by his or her congressman or senator. However, supply has rapidly outpaced demand for Obama’s inauguration, and online ticket-brokers are charging large amounts of money for tickets.

 

According to a November article on CNN’s website, one ticket-broker was already charging $20,095 per ticket.

Americas Best Newspaper Writing: Deadline Writing

Posted December 5, 2008 by keegancalligar
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by Keegan Calligar

Excellent journalists have the ability to research, investigate and report on breaking news in a diminutive amount of time while experiencing the pressure of a deadline. Journalists Ian Shapira and Tom Jackman of the Washington Post, David R. Anderson of the Oregonian, Bruce Nolan of The Times Times-Picayune, Jeff Whelan and John Hassell of The Star-Ledger and Janet Wilson, Lance Pugmire and Monte Morin of the Los Angeles Times all have won the Pulitzer prize for their breaking news reporting, and all exemplify the best in deadline-driven reporting.

 

Shapira and Jackman won the Pulitzer in 2008 for their reporting on the Virginia Tech shootings. Even before the article begins, the reader has a clear idea of what the story is on, as the headline is direct and succinct: “Gunman Kills 32 at Virginia Tech In Deadliest Shooting in U.S. History.”

 

The story’s lead also provides a great deal of information in a small amount of words, thereby providing a lot of details for readers who do not have the time to read the entire article: “An outburst of gunfire at a Virginia Tech dormitory, followed two hours later by a ruthless string of attacks at a classroom building, killed 32 students, faculty and staff and left about 30 others injured yesterday in the deadliest shooting rampage in the nation’s history.”

 

The writers use direct quotes from school officials, legitimizing the story for readers: “I’m really at a loss for words to explain or to understand the carnage that has visited our campus,” said Charles W. Steger, president of Virginia Tech, one of the state’s largest and most prestigious universities.”

 

The story contains an impressive amount of information about the attacks in the short time afterwards, allowing readers to better understand what happened: “The shooter, whose name was not released last night, wore bluejeans, a blue jacket and a vest holding ammunition, witnesses said. He carried a 9mm semiautomatic and a .22-caliber handgun, both with the serial numbers obliterated, federal law enforcement officials said.”

           

Perhaps the two most powerful components of the story are its accompanying photographs and the use of eyewitness accounts. The photographs depict officers carrying wounded, bloodied students out of the buildings, as well as officers running to help students.

           

The eyewitness accounts also provide a look at the attacks that no statement would have been able to. When reading an eyewitness account, the reader truly feels the emotion and gravity of the situation: “”He knew exactly what he was doing,” said the witness, Trey Perkins, 20, of Yorktown, Va. He said he watched the man enter his classroom and shoot Perkins’s professor in the head. “I have no idea why he did what he decided to do. I just can’t say how lucky I am to have made it.”

 

Anderson won the Pulitzer in 2007 for his reporting on a family lost in the woods of Oregon. Anderson’s headline and subhead provide a general idea of the story, allowing the reader to gain a great deal of information without having to read the whole article: “Rescuers find mom, kids, but not dad-Southern Oregon | The search pushes on for James Kim, following tracks left after he went for help”

 

The article’s lead explains the situation in more detail than the headline and subhead, but is still succinct and clear: “A private rescue helicopter Monday plucked a California woman and her two young daughters from a snowy mountain road where they were stranded for nine days, spurring a frantic search into the night for her husband.”


Anderson provides many details about the family’s plight, including how they managed to survive in the wilderness for nine days. For the reader, the inclusion of many facts legitimizes the story and allows the reader to trust the author: “The family kept warm during freezing nights by running the car engine. When the gas tank went dry, they burned the car’s tires. Searchers said the family had little food and the mother nursed her daughters.”

 

The journalist also quotes officials, further developing the story: “Oregon State Police Lt. Doug Ladd said there was “a very reasonable chance” that Kim is alive and that the family said he had some outdoor experience.”

 

Anderson also describes what the missing man is wearing, proving that while remaining objective, journalism can help in missing people cases: “Kim is wearing blue jeans, a sweater, a light jacket and tennis shoes. He’s carrying two cigarette lighters, and his wife thinks he may have taken a camera strobe with him, Anderson said.”

 

Nolan won the Pulitzer in 2006 for his reporting on Hurricane Katrina. Like those of the previous writers, Nolan’s headline and subhead allow the reader to gain a great deal of information in seconds: “CATASTROPHIC- Storm surge swamps 9th ward, St. Bernard”

 

Throughout the article, Nolan compares Katrina to other well known natural disasters, in order for the reader to understand just how destructive the storm was. He first compares Katrina to Hurricane Betsy, which is appropriate, as the paper is local and local residents will best remember Betsy and her devastation: “Hurricane Katrina struck metropolitan New Orleans on Monday with a staggering blow, far surpassing Hurricane Betsy, the landmark disaster of an earlier generation.”

 

Nolan’s syntax also evokes emotion in the reader: “As with Betsy, people scrambled into their attics or atop their roofs, pleading for help from the few passers-by.”

 

He also provides many facts about the story, legitimizing the story for readers, as well as allowing them to best understand what happened: “The powerful Category 4 storm crossed the coast near the mouth of the Pearl River shortly after daybreak with winds of 135 mph. Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse reported an early morning gust of 105 mph.”

 

Nolan speculates about what will happen in the near future, allowing the reader to anticipate what will come next: “There were no confirmed reports of fatalities in New Orleans, although officials, including Gov. Kathleen Blanco, said they expected to find bodies in rescue efforts today.”

 

The journalist also explains the damage in straightforward language, making it easier for a reader to digest and understand: “The famous oaks along St. Charles Avenue and its Uptown side streets were shattered. The avenue was made impassable by thickets of downed trees, many entangled with downed utility poles and criss- crossing power lines. Parked cars were smashed; many trees fell onto houses they once shaded.”

 

Whelan and Hassel won the Pulitzer in 2005 for their reporting on New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey’s resignation following a homosexual affair. The article’s headline and subhead are straightforward and clear, and provide a lot of information: “McGreevey quits, admits gay affair – Governor plans to leave office Nov. 15 – Ex-aide expected to sue, claiming sexual harassment”

 

The writers use direct quotes from multiple sources, including McGreevey, legitimizing the story for readers and gaining their trust: “”Shamefully, I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony,” the governor said from the Statehouse as his wife Dina stood, expressionless, at his side. “It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable.”’

 

The story contains a lot of background information, allowing the reader to better understand the events leading up to the governor’s resignation: “McGreevey met Cipel four years ago at a reception near Tel Aviv on a visit to Israel sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of MetroWest. At the time, Cipel was working as a spokesman for the mayor of his hometown, Rishon Lezion, after a stint as chief information officer for the Israeli Consulate in New York.”

 

The writers explore the ramifications for the family by telling the reader about McGreevey’s family: “Among other things, he acknowledged the pain he has caused to his wife, Dina, his former wife, Kari Schutz, and his two daughters, 3-year-old Jacqueline and 11-year-old Morag.”

 

They also broadened the scope of the story by discussing the impact McGreevey’s resignation would have on New Jersey politics: “Republicans described the delay of McGreevey’s departure as a ploy to preserve Democratic control of state government. Former Gov. Christie Whitman, for one, called for McGreevey to step aside immediately, saying any postponement “smacks of politics.”’

 

Photographs accompanying the article provide a look at McGreevy that words cannot. In one photo, the governor is teary-eyed, allowing the reader to see just how emotional McGreevey was at the press conference announcing his resignation.

 

Wilson, Pugmire and Morin won the Pulitzer in 2004 for their reporting on wildfires that devastated parts of California. Like the other articles, theirs had a clear, easy to understand headline and subhead: “Wildfires Destroy 200 Homes – Thousands Evacuate as Flames Scorch 50,000 Acres”’

 

The story’s lead is also short, but provides a more detailed summary of the events, allowing the reader to get more information without having to read the entire article: “Wildfires driven by winds and high temperatures burned out of control Saturday in the San Bernardino Mountains, triggering firestorms that destroyed more than 200 homes in foothill suburbs and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents from San Bernardino to Rancho Cucamonga.”

 

The authors also identify those known to have died, as well as information about how they died, allowing readers to best understand the gravity of losses: “Two San Bernardino men were reported dead, apparently from heart attacks, Saturday–one as he tried to evacuate and another as he watched his house burn. They were identified as James W. McDermith, 70, and Charles Cunnigham, 93.”

 

The story also contains detailed accounts about how events transpired, giving readers a clear idea of how the fires spread: “The blaze, 50 miles east of Los Angeles, spread rapidly along two fronts and late Saturday threatened to burn explosively dry forests devastated by drought and bark beetles. By 9:40 p.m., a separate fire in Crestline had prompted mandatory evacuations of Twin Peaks, Blue Jay and Crestline communities and closed Highway 330, the route to Big Bear, to all traffic.”

 

The journalists also explore how the fires started, thus explaining to readers how such devastation could occur: “The California Highway Patrol a short time later reported that passengers in a gray van were allegedly seen flicking burning matches out the window as they drove toward Lake Arrowhead.”

The journalists also quote victims, allowing readers to truly understand the emotional devastation felt by those displaced and made homeless: “”My house is already gone,” cried Sonia Sanchez as she stood amid a blizzard of ash and smoke at the corner of Del Rosa Avenue and Marshall Boulevard. “The fire moved so fast that all we got out was my family and our cars.”

 

Journalists Ian Shapira, Tom Jackman, David R. Anderson, Bruce Nolan, Jeff Whelan, John Hassell, Janet Wilson, Lance Pugmire and Monte Morin are all excellent journalists who prove that despite intense pressure, those working in deadline reporting can produce exemplary stories. 

Americas Best Newspaper Writing: Crimes and Courts

Posted December 5, 2008 by keegancalligar
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by Keegan Calligar

 

According to the book, America’s Best Newspaper Writing, articles on crimes “can be exaggerated and sensationalized, attracting readers in the quest for larger profits. They can fuel an irrational fear of crime, distorting the way governments use their resources. Jail cells suddenly become more important than schoolrooms.” Journalists Barry Siegel, Steve Friess, Marc Lacey, Andy Newman and Annie Correal avoid such pitfalls, and prove that excellent crime reporting includes a balance of drama and facts.

 

Siegel’s piece, “A Father’s Pain, a Judge’s Duty, and a Justice Beyond Their Reach,” follows the conviction and subsequent suicide of Paul Wayment, a Utah resident whose son wandered off and died after Wayment left him alone in a car while hunting. From the very beginning, Siegel’s writing is very suspenseful and leaves the reader wanting more: He sat in his chambers, unprepared for this. “Just giving you a heads up,” his court administrator was saying. “Paul Wayment hasn’t reported in yet. They can’t find him.” Judge Robert Hilder felt uneasy. Wayment was supposed to start his jail sentence this morning.

 

Much of the story focuses on Judge Hilder and the tough decisions he has to make when sentencing Wayment. Siegel establishes Hilder as both as a father and a judge, allowing the reader to see why the judge is torn: As always, his 6-year-old son’s drawings and broken Lego toys covered the floor of his Ford Taurus. At the courthouse, he walked down a hallway that took him past the administrator’s glass-walled office.

 

Before the reader knows what happened to Wayment’s son, Gage, Siegel includes a direct quote from the distraught father, thus showing the reader the magnitude of Wayment’s choice: “In one brief monumental moment,” he would later say of this instant, “I made the biggest and most painful mistake of my life.”

Siegel’s prose also reflects Wayment’s demeanor. When searching for his son immediately after discovering him missing, Wayment is panicked, and Siegel writes in a hurried, quick way, causing the reader to feel panicked as well: Wayment plunged into a nearby pond, fighting a rising panic. Gage loved the water. That’s where he’d go. For sure he’s in the pond.

Friess’ “Many Stark Contrasts as Simpson Is Convicted” explores the differences between OJ Simpson’s 1995 murder trial and his 2008 kidnapping and burglary trial. From the very beginning, the reader knows what the story is about, because Friess provides a detailed lead: By the time O. J. Simpson stood up in court late Friday to hear the spray of guilty verdicts on robbery and kidnapping charges that may send him to prison for the rest of his life, he was already so far removed from the heights of his fame and popularity that an entire generation of young Americans was barely aware that he had ever been a football star.

Friess provides examples of differences, thereby legitimizing his claims: Instead of millions of Americans obsessively stewing over the daily details in the case against him, a city block set aside for news media tents was largely empty for the four-week trial. Mr. Simpson’s comings and goings were barely noticed.

Friess also compares Simpson’s reactions when the verdicts were read: Mr. Simpson, 61, stood up older and noticeably less confident as guilty verdicts were read on all 12 charges than he did when he emphatically declared himself “absolutely, positively, 100 percent not guilty” in the 1994 killings.

This time, he sighed heavily as his sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed and fainted. He appeared resigned to the idea that the jury of nine women and three men had not believed his argument that he was trying to retrieve personal keepsakes that had been stolen from his home or that he was unaware that two of the five men had carried or displayed weapons.

The journalist also provides a juror’s account, allowing the reader to see why the jury decided to convict Simpson: “We never once referred to the past,” Ms. Sorge said. “We had so much information in front of us to consider. We had hours of detailed recordings, and we were comparing our notes on what the witnesses said. We watched what would clarify the information more. And remember, we watched and listened to everything in the courtroom a number of times.”

Friesss also consults an ‘expert’ to further highlight how Simpson changed: Mr. Simpson’s solitude was palpable to Dominick Dunne, the Vanity Fair columnist who made a name for himself during the 1995 trial for his forceful denunciations of Mr. Simpson.

“There’s a loneliness, a sadness about O. J. that I never saw before,” said Mr. Dunne, who observed the first two weeks of the robbery trial. “I think he understands how wrecked his life is.”

Friess also contrasts arguably one of the most memorable components of Simpson’s 1995 trial – the ecstatic reactions from the black community – with today, to show how different the two trials were: In 1995, Mr. Simpson was a cause célèbre for many blacks who viewed him as suffering a raw deal from a racist judicial system. This time, not a single black activist in Las Vegas picketed, protested or even commented on the case.

Marc Lacey’s story, “Abuse Trails Central American Girls Into Gangs,” explores how many abused young Central American girls join gangs in order to feel loved and included. From the piece’s opening, Lacey shows the reader the awful things the girls must participate in to be in the gang: To join one of Central America’s fierce street gangs, Benky, a tiny young woman with heavy mascara and tattoos running up and down her arms, had to have sex with a dozen or so of her homeboys one night. She recalls sobbing uncontrollably when the last young man climbed off her and everyone gathered around to congratulate her on becoming a full-fledged member of the Mara Salvatrucha.

Lacey also shows the reader how hard it is for girls to get out of gangs, providing reason to readers who are likely frustrated by the story’s subjects: When she tried to leave the gang five years later, her fellow gang members shot her six times. The scars still visible on her body vouch for her story, as do social workers who visited her during the nine months she spent in a hospital.

In the beginning of the article, Lacey focuses on just one girl in a gang. As the article continues, he expands the scope of the story to show that it is a larger issue: Horrible as it is, Benky’s story is not unusual. Her lament is one heard from young women in gangs across the region, and in interviews many told similar tales of sexual initiation, beatings and being made to rob and kill to earn their place.

For many readers, gang violence may be frustrating to grasp. Why would someone willingly put themselves in that kind of danger? Why would someone ever join a gang? Lacey explains why many young girls join gangs so that the audience may better understand the subjects: It is abuse in their home lives that often propels them into the gangs in the first place, and those gangs often continue the abuse under the veil of protection. The gang is their adopted family, the women say, offering what proves to be an unpredictable mix of affection and aggression.

The writer also quotes a young girl in a gang talking about her boyfriend, and the reader is able to see just how distorted gang members’ views can become: “He was very kind,” she said. “Sometimes, he’d go out and rob buses just to get me what I wanted.”

Though many gang members do not leave the streets, Lacey does explore the option of leaving, giving readers some hope that the story’s subjects may lead better lives in the future: But another inmate, 25, who goes by the nickname Happy, said she intended to leave the gang when she finished her sentence for robbing buses. In her first years behind bars, members of the gang would come by to visit, she said. But that eventually faded. Nowadays, five years in, it is only her mother who brings her food and clothes.

Newman’s article, “Lawmaker Found Guilty of Corruption,” reports on State Assemblywoman Diane M. Gordon, who accepted a bribe to help a builder obtain city-owned land in exchange for a luxury home. Newman begins the article with a succinct lead, giving the reader a clear idea of the article without having to read the entire piece: State Assemblywoman Diane M. Gordon of Brooklyn was convicted on Tuesday of receiving a bribe for offering to help a developer acquire a parcel of city-owned land in her district if he would build her a free house in a gated community in Queens.

Newman explains the ramifications of Gordon’s actions, informing the reader of consequences early on: The conviction means that Ms. Gordon, 58, a four-term Democrat from East New York, immediately loses her Assembly seat, which will remain vacant until the general election in November.

The writer also provides background information and the series of events leading up to Gordon’s arrest, thus providing the reader with the greatest amount of relevant, clear information possible: In October 2004, Mr. Batheja and Ms. Gordon met at her office. On a tape of the meeting played at trial, the assemblywoman asks Mr. Batheja what happened to her doors, then says she would advocate for him to be named redeveloper of a vacant city-owned parcel in her district. She then asks Mr. Batheja if she would be able to get a house in a gated community he was building in Lindenwood. “Let’s work one hand work together,” she tells him. “One hand washes another.”

Newman also provides examples of other local politicians who accepted bribes, showing that Gordon is part of a larger problem: Ms. Gordon is the third state lawmaker from Brooklyn to be convicted of corruption in recent years. Former Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr., once the chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, is serving three to nine years in prison for extortion and campaign-finance violations. And former Assemblyman Roger L. Green pleaded guilty in 2004 to falsely billing the state for travel expenses.

“Stepfather Is Convicted of Manslaughter in Beating Death of 7-Year-Old Girl,” written by Andy Newman and Annie Correal, explains the conviction of Cesar Rodriguez, who killed his step-daughter, Nixzmary Brown. The reader knows what the story is about from the very beginning, as the writers provide a very informative lead:  A deeply divided jury in Brooklyn convicted the stepfather of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown of first-degree manslaughter for his role in her fatal 2006 beating, inflicted as punishment for stealing a snack from the refrigerator and jamming his computer printer with toys. But the jury acquitted the stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, of second-degree murder.

The writers also explain the broad ramifications of the case right away (in the second paragraph), so a reader who does not have the time to read the entire article is able to absorb the most important information: The verdict, reached on the fourth day of deliberations at State Supreme Court after eight weeks of testimony, brought an end to the first trial in one of the most horrific child deaths in recent New York history, one that caused an overhaul of the city’s child welfare system and a spurt in child-abuse reports and foster care placement.

The story is also accompanied by photographs of the little girl and her killer, allowing the reader to become more emotionally invested in the story, as well as have a clearer picture of what happened and the parties involved.

The journalists also explain the charges against Rodriguez in layman’s terms so that the audience can understand the crimes he committed: So the jury of 10 women and 2 men voted to convict him on the heaviest charge that all could agree on, first-degree manslaughter.

That crime is defined as causing death by recklessly engaging in conduct, with intent to cause physical injury, that creates “a grave risk of serious physical injury.”

The jury was also interviewed for the story, and jurors were able to provide their reasoning for why they convicted Rodriguez of most crimes, but not of the most serious one against him. By doing so, the writers ensure that the reader will have a clear idea of what transpired in deliberations: Jurors said afterward that most of them wanted to convict Mr. Rodriguez of second-degree murder but that several holdouts said prosecutors had not proved that Mr. Rodriguez acted with “depraved indifference to human life,” the standard for second-degree murder in this case.

The journalists also showed that there was a history of abuse in the home, and that city workers did not do their jobs, therefore acting as ‘watchdogs’: On Jan. 10, 2006, the welfare agency assigned case workers to visit the home after hours, but the case workers decided to wait till the morning.

Barry Siegel, Steve Friess, Marc Lacey, Andy Newman and Annie Correal are all excellent journalists who prove that great crime stories do not have to embellished, but can contain a balance of drama and facts and can completely captivate readers. 

Math Tools: Chapters 5-8

Posted December 5, 2008 by keegancalligar
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Math Tools: Chapters 5 – 8

By Keegan Calligar


Chapter 5 – Polls and Surveys

Populations and Samples

  • Aim for at least 400 interviews to ensure acceptable margin of error
  • Census, universe or population sampling – sampling everyone in the population
  • Cluster sampling – sampling one area or region, by zip code, county, etc.
  • Multistage sampling – national samples; selecting specific area, then random subgroups, then individual blocks within sub-group, then smaller block
  • Systematic random sampling – pick random number (n), then take phone book and calling every nth number
  • Quote sampling – sample based on demographics
  • Probability sampling – put all potential subjects in hat, draw out designated percentage

 

Margin of Error and Confidence Level

  • Margin of Error – degree of accuracy of research based on standard norms
  • Percentage, based on size of a randomly selected sample
  • As the number of people polled increases, the margin of error decreases
  • Confidence level – level / percentage at which researchers have in the results of their research
  • Formal definition – probability of obtaining a given result by chance
  • Predetermined
  • Usually 90, 95 or 98 percent
  • Should always be reported so that readers can analyze results for themselves

 

Census

  • 2000 U.S. Census sent out through mail and by going door-to-door
  • Results come in slowly and will continue for years
  • Return rate of 2000 = 67 percent
  • Adjusted figures – any figure that is statistically manipulated to compensate for missing data
  • Census used for creating different, equally populated congressional districts
  • Try to give smaller states slightly more representation

 

Z scores and t scores

  • Frequently used to report results of studies
  • Z score also called ‘standard score’ – shows how much a certain figure differs from the mean
    • Standard deviation used as this unit measure
    • Mean then becomes zero, first standard deviation is 1, second is 2, etc.
  • t score, also called ‘student’s t  distribution, closely related to z scores
    • used when sample size is less than 100
  • z score = (raw score – mean) / standard deviation

 

Chapter 6 – Business

 

Financial Statements

  • Found in company’s annual report
  • Include profit and loss report, balance sheet

 

Profit and Loss

  • AKA P&L
  • Shows if a company is making money
  • To find, subtract expenses from income
  • “Cost of goods sold” –  direct expenses a business incurs in making or buying products
  • Overhead – expenses the company would incur regardless of how many products it makes or sells … ex – insurance, employees, rent
  • Gross margin – difference between cost of goods sold and selling price
  • Net profit – how much a company makes after subtracting overhead from gross margin
  • EBITDA = earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization – used to see how a company is doing before certain expenses
    • can use to compare companies, because it shows how much cash each company is making before factoring in their different expenses
    • aka “operation cash flow” – measures how much cash a given business has to operate with
  • Formula: Gross Margin = Selling price – cost of goods sold
  • Formula: Gross Profit = gross margin x number of items sold
  • Formula: Net Profit = gross margin – overhead

 

Balance Sheet

  • Written record of a given company’s assets, liabilities and equity
  • Indicates company’s financial stability
  • Formula: Assets = Liabilities + Equity
  • Assets = resources owned by the company that are of some monetary value
    • Current assets = cash, investments, liquid items of value
    • Long-term assets = buildings, furniture, etc
  • Accounts Receivable = money owed the company by customers
  • Accumulated Depreciation = decline of the value of an asset
  • Inventory = record of good on hand
  • Intangible assets = copyrights, patents, and research with legal economic value
  • Investments in other corporations  = can be in stocks or influence in other company’s gain
  • Fixed assets = property, plants, equipment, deferred charges
  • Short-term investments = stocks, bonds
  • Pre-paid expenses = rent, insurance
  • Uncollectible accounts receivable = write-offs for bad debts, allowance for potential bad debts
  • Equity – value of the company, owner’s and/or shareholders investments, capital accounts and other related assets
  • Dividends – payments to shareholders that represent the distribution of the company’s assets
  • Retained earnings = earnings set aside for future business purposes
  • Liabilities – obligations that need to be paid later on
  • Accounts payable – bills that need to be paid
  • Accrued liabilities – liabilities that have occurred but are not yet paid
  • Current or short-term liabilities – money owed to suppliers, interest on debt, taxes and wages
  • Long-term liabilities  = debt, deferred taxes, leases

 

Ratio Analysis

  • Calculations used to analyze company’s cash, profitability, operating efficiency, and market value
  • Show trends in company’s life
  • Used to compare against similar companies
  • Current ratio – liquidity ratio, measures ability of company to meet its liabilities
    • Formula: Current ratio = current assets / current liabilities
  • Quick ratio – liquidity ratio, measures ability of a company to meet its current liabilities with cash on hand
    • Formula: Quick ratio = cash / current liabilities
  • Debt-to-asset ratio – like current ratio, but includes all assets and all liabilities; good indicator of long-term health of a company
    • Formula: Debt-to-asset ratio = total debt / total assets
  • Debt-to-equity ratio – tells how deeply company is leveraged by comparing what is owned and what is owed
    • Formula: Debt-to-equity = total debt / equity
  • Return on Assets – profitability ratio; measures return on the investment on all assets
    • Formula: return on assets = net income / total assets
  • Return on Equity – profitability ratio; measures return on investment made in equity
    • Formula: return on equity = net income / equity
  • Price-earning ratio – value ratio; measures return of the investment based on stock price
    • Formula: price-earnings = market price / share DIVIDED BY  earnings/share
    •  

 

Chapter 7: Stocks and Bonds

Stocks

  • Sold to raise cash, buy to invest
  • Buy stock – become part owner of that company
  • Mutual fund companies sell shares of funds, use that money to buy stock in other companies
  • 52-Week Chart
    • High/Low – highest and lowest stock prices in past year
    • Stock – stock’s symbol
    • Div – most recent annual dividend company paid to share holders, per share
    • PE – Price/Earnings ratio
    • Last – price of one share at the end of the previous day
    • Change – how much stock value changed over one day

 

Bonds

  • Bond is a loan from an investor to the government or other organization selling bonds
  • Earn interest at a set rate, generally low-risk investments
  • ‘Face Value’ – amount the owner will receive at maturity
  • Current yield (return on investment) fluctuates because value of bond on open market flucates with supply and demand
  • Formula: current yield = (interest rate x face value) / price
  • Formula: Bond cost (interest) = amount x rate x years

 

Market Indexes

  • Track prices of ceratin groups of stocks
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average
    • total value of one share each of 30 select socks divided by divisor
    • divisor includes dividends, splits, spinoffs, etc
    • able to provide snapshot of entire stock market
    • thirty stocks represent about 1/5 of market value of all US stocks
  • National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ)
    • monitored by SEC
    • automated quotation system
    • reports on trading of domestic stocks and bonds not listed on the regular stock markets
    • lists more than 5,000 securities
    • member companies must be regiesterd with SEC, have at least two market makers, meet minimum requirements for assets, capital, public shares and stockholders

Chapter 8: Property Taxes

  • Largest single source of income for local governments
  • Determined by taking the total amount of money the governing body needs, and dividing that among the property owners in that taxing district
  • Purpose of reappraisal is to update real property values to reflect current market value of all taxable properties within a taxing district
  • Property is often taxed by more than one governing body

 

Mills

  • 1/10 of a cent, or $0.001
  • Formula: Mill levy = taxes to be collected by the government body / assessed valuation of all property in the taxing district

 

Appraisal Value

  • Based on:
    • Property’s use (residential, business, vacant, land, farm, commercial)
    • Property’s characteristics: location, square footage, number of stories, exterior wall type, age, quality of construction, amenities
    • Current market conditions – determined by sales in immediate area over given number of years
    • Visual inspection of property by appraiser

 

Assessed value

  • Percentage of market value
  • Mill levy applied to assessed valuations
  • Value depends on local policies
  • Formula: Assessed value = Appraisal value x rate

 

Calculating Tax

  • Formula: Tax owed = Tax rate x (assessed value of property / $100)
    • Note: divide the assessed value by $1,000, rather than $100, if the rate is based on an amount per $1,000 of assessed value

 

 

 

Examples

 

Chapter 5

2. The Graduate Research Methods class decided to find out how many students on campus read a newspaper at least five times a week. Select one of the five sampling methods. Justify your selection.

To do this, I would use quota sampling, because, according to the book, it “aims to select the sample based on known demographic characteristics.” If you were trying to find out how many college students read the school newspaper, there would be no need to poll professors, staff, and others who live in the area but are not students. By selecting those who are in the known demographic – college students – the individual completing the survey insures more true answers.

 

Chapter 6

  1. The Town of Tuckahoe buys 1,000 tons of gravel from PK Wholesale Inc. at $10 a ton. Tuckahoe uses 670 tons to pave streets. The city manager wants to get rid of the excess gravel. He offers it to Gadsen for $13 a ton. Gadsen buys the gravel because a road collapsed and the city needs to make emergency repairs. What was Tuckahoe’s gross margin on the sale?

Gross margin = Selling price – cost of goods sold

Gross margin = (330 x 13) – (330×10)

Gross margin = 4,290 – 3,300

Gross margin = 990

 

 

Chapter 7

  1. Examine the newspaper stock table on page 102. Which stock’s price has fluctuated the most in the past year? Which stock has the highest price to earnings ratio? Which stock went up the most that day? Which went down the most that day?
    1. Aon’s stock flucated the most in the past year. it began at 44.80 and ended at 13.30, thus fluctuating 31.50 points.
    2. Apache had the highest PE ratio.
    3. Aon went up the most that day; it was the only stock to go up that day.
    4. Apache went down most that day, as it went down .63 points.

 

Chapter 8

  1. Rockham pegs its tax rate to 75 percent of true value. If a house at 5382 Brice Creek Road is appraised for $210,000, what is the assessed value of the house?

Assessed value = appraisal value x rate

Assessed value = 210,000 x .75

Assessed value = $157,500

 

 

Math Tools: Chapters 1-4

Posted December 5, 2008 by keegancalligar
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Math Tools: Chapters 1- 4

Keegan Calligar

Though one may not realize it, journalists deal with math every single day. When reporting, a journalist must pay a great deal of attention to math, be it percentages, numerals, statistics, etc.

Chapter 1: The Language of Numbers

Some quick tips that all journalists must remember:

  • If using a number smaller than ten, write it out
  • Unless a specific number is needed (ex – 194 people died from a suicide bombing), it is ok to round large numbers
  • If it is possible to round to the nearest decimal point
  • When ranking things from one to nine, write out the number. Otherwise, use the numeral and its superscript (ex – 22nd)
  • Spell out fractions
  • Too many numbers in one paragraph can confuse a reader. Stick to less than two or three numbers in one paragraph (or only one if it is the lead)
  • Write out ‘minus,’ do not put a dash
  • Use the word ‘among’ when discussing a group; use ‘between’ when talking about two specific things
  • When talking about distance, say ‘farther’; when explain a degree, time or quantity, use ‘further’

 

 

Chapter 2: Percentages

Percentage Increase/ Decrease

  • When trying to find a percentage increase or decrease, subtract the original amount from the second number, and then divide that number by the original amount.

 

Ex: (5,300 – 2,000) / 2000 = x percent change

3,300 / 2000 = 1.65

The amount increased 165%

 

Percentage of a whole

  • In order to best inform readers and to put numbers into perspective, journalists must make sure that they calculate percentages as a whole
  • Percentage of a whole  = subgroup  / whole group
    • Move the decimal points to points to the right

 

Percentage Points

  • There is a difference between a percent and a percentage point. A percentage is one one-hundredth of something; a percentage point is could be one one-hundredth of something, but it could also be a completely different number. For example, say a company’s stock fell from 18 percent to 15 percent – that company’s stock fell three percentage points.

 

Simple Interest

  • Principle = the amount of money borrowed
  • Interest = money paid for the use of money
  • Rate = percent charged for the use of money
  • The interest rate is determined by how long the the borrowed money is kept
  • Usually, interest rates are calculated by year

 

Compounding Interest

  • Interest is considered compounding when it is added on to the original principle, and later interest is added on to all of that, etc.
  • Loans are usually compounded more than annually (most of the time, they are compounded monthly)
  • Monthly compounded loans are ultimately more expensive for the borrower than annual loans
  • Customers usually pay off mortgages and car payments monthly

 

 

Chapter 3: Statistics

  • Used to report crimes, cost of food, in research, etc.

 

Mean

  • Sum of all computed numbers, divided by the total amount of figures
  • Frequently referred to as the “average”

 

Median

  • Midpoint in a group of numbers
  • To find: write numbers from lowest to highest; find the number that falls in the center. If there is not a certain number in the center, add the two middle numbers together and divide them by two to find the median

 

Mode

  • Figures that appear the most in a set of numbers
  • To find: count how many times figures appear in a group of numbers. The figure that appears the most is the mode

 

Percentile

  • Number that represents the percentage of scores that fall above or below a given score
  • If someone scored in the 88th percentile, they scored higher or equal to 88 percent of the test takers

 

Standard Deviation

  • Indicates how much a group of figures varies from the norm
  • Frequently appears in scientific reports, investment documents and other reports that utilize statistics
  • Small standard deviation means figures are concisely grouped around the mean
  • Statistical data often appears as a bell curve. In the middle of the curve is the mean, and the rest of the curve (“bell”) represents the spread of the rest of the numbers. If the bell is steep, the standard deviation is small. The less steep the bell, the larger the standard deviation
  • Written in the same units as original data
  • Standard deviation can be used to measure a bell curve. If the mean is 42, and the standard deviation is 4, 38 would be one negative standard deviation away
  • With usual distributions, 68% of scores will fall within one standard deviation (be it positive or negative), 95% will be within two standard deviations, and 99% will be within three

 

Probability

  • Simplified: are ratios
  • Example: 2,600 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day
    • There are 290 million people in the US, so what are the chances of one of those people dying from cardiovascular disease in a given day?
    • 2,600 / 290 milion = .0000089
    • To find “one out of”: 1 / .0000089 = 112,000
    • Odds of someone dying on any given day of cardiovascular disease is one out of 112,000
  • Odds with a series of events
    • Odds of a series of events = Odds of first event x odds of second event x odds of third event …. etc
    • If odds are the same for each individual event, you can simplify the equation
      • O = Odds
      • N = Number of Events
      • Odds of a series when each is the same = O^N

 

 

Chapter 4: Federal Statistics

 

Unemployment

  • Rate released each month by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Definition: Percentage of the labor foce that is unemployed and actively seeking work
  • Labor force: those who are 16 and older; has job or has looked for one for past four weeks; in 2000, about 141 million people
  • Employed: did at least one hour of work for pay in the week before survey or did at least 15 hours of unpaid work for family
  • Current Population Survey: survey 60,000 homes interviewed each month; asked about the last month’s working habits; used to create unemployment figures
  • Figures are created for nation and each state
  • Makes adjustments for certain events, like holiday employment (usually goes up)
  • Unemployment rate = (unemployed / labor force) x 100

 

Inflation and Consumer Price Index

  • Inflation measured by Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • Figure indicates amount of inflation in given month for eight predominate product groups – food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, recreation
  • Found by calling / visiting 23,000 retail and services businesses each month
  • Info on rent collected from approximately 50,000 landlords and tenants
  • CPI reported multiple ways
    • Index number – number more than 100 … shows how much CPI has increased since it was at 100 in 1984
    • Monthly or annual inflation rate
  • Formula: Monthly inflation rate = (Current CPI – Prior CPI) / Prior Month CPI x 100
  • Annual inflation rate reported each month by comparing current year CPI with CPI of same month the year prior
    • Formula: A = annual inflation rate; B = current month CPI; C = CPI from same month in previous year …. A = (B-C) / C x 100
  • Adjusting for inflation means past figure was changed to show how much it would be in current dollars
    • Formula: A = Target Year Value, in dollars; B = Starting year value, in dollars; AC = Target year CPI; BC = Starting year CPI ….

A = (B/BC) x AC

 

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP = Value of goods and services produced by a nation’s economy
  • Increasing – economy healthy; decreasing – moving towards recession
  • Change, rather than actual figure, is what is most closely watched
  • “Real GDP” – holds prices of measured items constant to prices they were in 1996
  • GDP reported quarterly; rate reported as annual rate
  • Formula: C = consumer spending on goods and services; I = investment spending; g = government spending; nx = net exports (exports minus imports) … GDP =  C + I + G + NX

Trade Balance

  • Difference between the goods and services a country exports to foreign countries and those it imports
  • Negative  = importing more good than exporting; positive = exporting more than importing
  • Formula: Trade balance = exports – imports
  •  

 

 

 

Examples

 

Chapter 1

(none)

 

Chapter 2

1.    Alpha police announced a record 8,294 arrests for driving under the influence (DUIs) last year. The previous year, records indicate there were 6,759 arrests. What is the percentage increase in DUI arrests?

 

8, 294 – 6,759) / 8,294 = percent increase

1, 535 / 8,294 = .1850

There was an 18.5% increase in DUI arrests

 

2.    The Madison City Council Budgeted $5,283 for snow removal this year. Last year, Madison budgeted $14,700 for snow removal. What is the percentage decrease?

Percentage decrease = (new figure – old figure) / old figure

Percentage decrease = (5,283 – 14,700) / 14,700

Percentage decrease = -9417 / 14,700

Percentage decrease = – 0.64

Percentage decrease =  – 64 percent

 

Chapter 3

  1. The Chandler Police Department keeps a yearly record of the different number of arrests in various categories. Following are the reported arrests for DUI for the past 10 years. Calculate the mean:

2001: 7    2000: 92        1999:53         1998:81         1997:46         1996:19 1995:34     1994:51      1993:6           1992:25

 

Mean = (7+92+53+81+46+19+34+51+6+25) / 10

Mean = 414 / 10

Mean = 41.4

 

 

 

Chapter 4

  1. The CPI in July 1990 was 130.4. It increased to 131.6 by August 1990. What was the percentage increase in CPI for that month?

131.6  – 130.4 = 1.2

 

Think Pink! social raises funds for breast cancer research

Posted December 5, 2008 by keegancalligar
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Keegan Calligar

October 24, 2008

 

ELON – The Eta Zeta chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha held a successful Think Pink! social at Elon University on Oct. 15, raising both awareness of breast cancer and money toward breast cancer research.

The event featured a Yoplait yogurt-eating contest, desserts and live music by the band Three Day Weekend. As in previous years, nurses from Alamance Regional Medical Center were available to distribute information about breast cancer and answer any questions attendees had.

Allison Stanley, a breast cancer survivor who was featured on the NBC reality show “Starting Over,” gave a speech and highlighted the importance of self-breast exams and spreading awareness.

Zeta Tau Alpha’s national philanthropy is breast cancer education and awareness, and the organization works year round to raise money and support for the cause. The group serves as host for a Think Pink! social every October, during breast cancer awareness month.

Members of Elon University's greek life participate in a yogurt eating contest to benefit breast cancer at Zeta Tau Alpha's annual Think Pink! social.

Members of Elon University's greek life participate in a yogurt eating contest to benefit breast cancer at Zeta Tau Alpha's annual Think Pink! social.

Kaitlan Spedden, a senior at Elon and the chapter’s president, was pleased with this year’s turnout. She credited the yogurt-eating contest, co-sponsored by Kappa Sigma Fraternity, for attracting men to the event.

“We had a really successful event this year, even more so than last year because we got the men involved,” she said.

Breast cancer is a highly common disease in America. According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Web site, “(Approximately) 182,460 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2008 alone,” and one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life.

Spedden recognized the importance of spreading awareness about the disease. “Because the best defense we have against breast cancer is early detection, it’s so important to spread awareness,” she said.

Maggie Cooper, a senior and the chapter’s vice president, said that breast cancer awareness month is a vital to eradicating the disease, but thinks that people must pay attention to the disease when the month ends.

“It’s such a big issue, only one month dedicated to it isn’t enough,” she said. “But it certainly helps raise awareness.”
Scott O’Sullivan, a junior and member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, attended the social to show support for both Zeta Tau Alpha, the philanthropy and his fraternity brother.

“I think it’s important to raise awareness for the women in my life,” he said. “My pledge brother’s mom was diagnosed (with breast cancer), so I like to support my pledge brothers.”

Zeta Tau Alpha chose the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation as its national philanthropy in 1992. It subsequently expanded to include other educational and awareness initiatives, including the NFL, Yoplait and Courage Night, thus adopting breast cancer education and awareness. Think Pink! is a registered trademark of Zeta Tau Alpha’s international office.

 

Published in the Burlington Times-News

Elon introduces new Public Health Studies minor

Posted December 5, 2008 by keegancalligar
Categories: Uncategorized

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by Keegan Calligar
October 8, 2008
  

Photo courtesy of University Relations.

Photo courtesy of University Relations.

 

 

Elon students interested in public health can now expand their studies, as the university recently began offering a public health studies minor.

 

Public Health Studies coordinator Amanda Tapler. Image courtesy of University Relations.

Public Health Studies coordinator Amanda Tapler. Image courtesy of University Relations.

Amanda Tapler, a lecturer in the department of health and human performance and the coordinator of public health studies, said that she began developing the minor after the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) launched The Educated Citizen and Public Health Initiative in January 2007. 

 

“It’s my area of expertise, so naturally I was drawn to that,” she said.

Tapler met with about 12 professors from various departments to determine if there was interest in developing a new minor. 

Tapler found that professors were interested, and said that around the same time, writing boards were placed on campus and students were encouraged to write down any classes or curriculum they wanted offered at Elon.

“Public health came up several times on the boards,” she said. 

She then submitted a grant proposal, which was accepted. 

“That’s really what started the ball rolling,” Tapler said. 

Tapler said that the minor was always meant to be interdisciplinary and noted that students with varying majors are already exploring public health. 

She cited documentaries about Hurricane Katrina and hurricane-relief service work as examples of students’ interest in the area. 

Students interested in the minor must take two core classes: introduction to public health and introduction to epidemiology. 

Students must also take 12 semester hours of electives. 

Seniors Dana Wolff and Seanna Baird are among the students who have already declared a public health minor. 

“This minor has enabled me to explore different aspects of public health and helped me with my applications for graduate school,” Wolff said. “I intend to pursue a career in public health, so the more experience I gain now, the more prepared I will be.” 

Baird noted that her studies are relevant outside of the classroom. 

“The core public health class was really interesting because it forced me to think about all of the different everyday things, such as smoke detectors, floss and the [Food and Drug Administration], that have all come out of Public Health initiatives,” she said. 

In addition to Tapler, the public health studies committee members include Dr. Eric Hall, associate professor of exercise/sport science; Dr. Betty Morgan, associate professor of political science and public administration; and Kristen Sullivan, professor of human services.

Public Health Studies at Elon University