Sunday, August 11, 2013

Journalism Fuel

Ashley Jones-Quaidoo (Hyattsville, MD)
Before I came to SJP, I didn’t understand the technical side of journalism. Over
the past nine days, I’ve learned a plethora of methods to journalism: conducting
interviews, creating data charts for information, verification, and attribution.
Being a journalist isn’t about the glamour and giving facts, it’s about telling a story
and informing the public. This is what I love. Journalism allows me to feed my
curiosity and hold people accountable. While at SJP, I’ve written several stories: ranging from A-Rod to the my generation’s self indulgence. Each article I’ve written has been different, but they have each allowed me to do one thing: Expand my base of knowledge. If you want a story, it’s
not about just talking to people and collecting information, it’s about RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. Let’s face it, we don’t know everything, but with a curious mind and the right resources you can educate yourself on any mind boggling topic. Through networking, creating stories, and meeting students from all of the country,

I have a greater appreciation for journalism. SJP has broaden my knowledge on various topics, but I will always be a life-long learner. SJP has given me greater confidence to pursue my career as a broadcast journalist. The directors and counselors believe in us and that means a lot to me.

College Gateway

Lesley Le Platte (Atlanta, GA)

As we near the end of SJP, college becomes more relevant. Yesterday, we were assigned our college counselors. Our college counselors  will help us with the process of filling out our college applications. They will help us with improving our standardize test scores, and they will recommend colleges that may be a good fit for their mentees. They are a very useful resource that will help us to maintain our motivation and inspire us to strive to do better.

The Portrait of A Journalist

Sara Solano (Manhattan, New York)

On the second day at SJP, Richard Just, one of the directors and founders of the program, gave us a lecture on the characteristics and mannerism of a genuine journalist. During the lecture we agreed that a Journalist should be bold, outspoken, persistent, dedicated, organized, honest, smart, and open-minded. 

Later that day, the coordinators at SJP showed us the film "The Insider." The film tells the story of Jeffrey Wigand, a research chemist of a tobacco company, and his decision to participate in an interview for 60 minutes to disclose the level of negligence demonstrated by the tobacco company he worked for. 

I really loved this movie because it demonstrated the level of ethic and passion that a journalist should have. Lowell Bergman, the producer of the show that decides to publish Wigand's story, is the representation of a true journalist that considers the truth as the first priority for a journalist. 

I think that this was a great introduction to the program because it showed all of us that no matter how passionate you feel about journalism, you'll always have to face ethical problems; but what really matters is the level of integrity you use to face those problems.    

Ending SJP

Navil Perez (Thorton. Colorado)

The Princeton University Summer Journalism Program ended as quickly as it started. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that this morning could have potentially been the last time I would be woken up by sleepy counselors knocking at the door (because ain’t nobody planning on sleeping tonight). 

I never expected call someone a “friend” after only 10 days; I much less expected to become as attached to a group of people as I have become. The frustrations of sleepless nights, stress of deadlines and sing-a-longs have built the strong bond which unites us.
Now that the program is coming to an end I am genuinely sad to leave. I am keeping this blog post short because I want to enjoy the last 24 hours I have with my amazing peers.

SJP Fo’ Lyf

Reliving the Memories

Ellen Pham (Tampa, Florida) 
I woke up today to a depressing realization; there is only one more day left of SJP. This past week and a half has been incredible. I had the chance to visit three new states, try different types of food, go to my first baseball game, watch my favorite football team play live (from the press box, no less), learn more about my passion, and meet some of the most interesting people I've ever met. 

I've grown attached to Princeton and to the wonderful counselors and to my SJP peers. I know that goodbyes are inevitable. I know that the trip to Newark Airport will be emotional. But I know that SJP is so much more than 10 days learning at one of the best universities in the world. It's a community of friendly, open-minded people who have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Remembering this makes leaving tomorrow a little more bearable. 

SJP has been filled with so many memorable moments.

Covering the Trenton Thunder game was exhilarating. We had to walk up to strangers and ask them about their feelings about performance enhancing drugs. I'm naturally very introverted, so this experience forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I loved it. I felt like I was witnessing history take place as I watched Alex Rodriguez prepare to bat. I would later find out that my inklings were right. A few days after the game, the infamous man donning 13 on his jersey was controversially suspended by Major League Baseball. 

One of my favorite parts about the program was breaking up into newspaper teams. I would always look forward to our poignant discussions about government, the value of privacy and the future of journalism. Even though we could have talked about superficial topics, we always somehow gravitated towards serious, weighty subjects. I didn't mind at all. In fact, I was glad. At the beginning of the program, Richard Just, one of the program directors, said that "journalists are intellectuals." I didn't truly understand what he meant when he said that. Why is it important to be interested in everything? Why is it worth it to question our own opinions? Thanks to my amazing newspaper team (Go Wall Street Journal!) and our mentally stimulating conversations, I understand what Richard means now. 

All of the speakers were fantastic. SJP takes a liberal arts approach when inviting speakers so in addition to learning how to write an accurate news story, I also learned about subjects such as anthropology, statistics, history and sociology. I have a strong interest in politics so I loved hearing from Alec MacGillis about his experience writing about campaigns. His honest, vivid descriptions about working with Al Gore were absolutely hilarious! 

It's easy to feel alone pursuing journalism in my high school. My newspaper staff is smaller than I would like and the majority of students don't care about the news. To make matters worse, most of the people I'm surrounded by think journalism is a dying career. Frankly, it's not exactly the most conducive environment for a budding journalist. But here at SJP I don't feel so alone. It gives me hope that I can succeed in this transforming industry.

I feel so unbelievably blessed and grateful to be a part of this wonderful program. 

For the Love of SJP

Jasmine White (Birmingham, Alabama)
There was moment in the program where I thought: Ah! This it what SJP is. I think it happened right in the heat of investigating and reporting, but also had the exhaustion of getting only five hours of sleep each night started to set in. Learning so much in so little time, is both exhilarating and exhausting.
The past few days have been a blur. The friends I’ve made I feel like I’ve known for years. The way we gravitated towards each other and became so amicable so quickly really makes it feel like there’s a sort of destiny within our group. I can’t imagine it being any different.
 We’re now starting to put our newspaper together. It’ll be good to see our long hours of hard work produce results; however it’s a bit of a sad thing as well, as it marks the end of SJP.
 Though I miss my family, I also sort of feel myself dreading the day when we all return to our respective homes, not knowing when (or if) we’ll see each other again. Nothing is truer in this instance than the saying that we should even cherish the shortest moments of our lives, as they often have the greatest impact on us.

Turf Wars

By Xavier Husser (New York, New York)

On Aug. 9, at Lincoln Financial Field, the crowd roared in both excitement and contempt. Smoke billowed out of the home team’s entrance. Football is not just a game or a form of entertainment; it is an ever-changing battle between two well-equipped armies. Football is also like chess: pawns fiercely fight to gain even a single yard. 

The Philadelphia Eagles waged war against the New England Patriots in the Eagles’ and Patriots’ first preseason game. The Eagles, who have not been able to beat the Patriots since 1999, have never won the Super Bowl. The Patriots have won three Super Bowls and are one of the best teams in the NFL. Even though all can change in football with a good coach or just one great player, the Eagles were the undisputed underdogs.

Michael Vick, the once-disgraced Atlanta Falcon, is a possible starting quarterback for the Eagles. After 12 years on the field, Vick knows his way around this artificial battleground. At 33 years old, Vick does not have a ring. With time running out in his career, he only has a couple more years to win the most sought-after prize in football.
Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks playing in the NFL, is also a veteran. Brady aided the Patriots in their defeat of the Eagles in the 2005 Super Bowl, and is considered an aerial threat with close to 45,000 career passing yards and more than 330 touchdowns. Not only does Brady throw red-hot Hail Marys, but he advances to the end zone in the blink of an eye. A rival team’s worst nightmare, Brady is not undefeatable, but is comparable to a football demigod.

The Patriots’ touchdown in the first three minutes of the game set a tone of dominance. Vick quickly answered back with a touchdown of his own, but by the end of the second quarter, it was clear that the Patriots were in charge, at 24-14. The Patriots have a tendency to capitalize on a team’s mistakes and break through even the best teams’ defenses.

In this real-life David versus Goliath, David’s stone could not find a flaw in Goliath’s armor. After the smoke settled, the Patriots stood victorious, 31-22. The Eagles fought with all their might, but could not stop Brady and his army. Preseason games may only show a small glimpse of the regular season, but first impressions are important. Brady is still a dangerous player, but Vick also showed signs of becoming a threat this season.

Making the Most of the Last Two Days

By Bianca Uribe (New York, NY)

It has been a very hectic eight days. I never thought that I would actually get this far into the program. I seriously thought I would collapse or just simply explode somewhere halfway through. Fortunately, I am still here and I'm stronger than ever. It is so hard to believe that in just two days we will be going home back to our ordinary lives. I have done things that I would have never done before such as going to a football game, eating Greek food for lunch, and deciding to trade in my few hours of sleep in spend some time with the girls on my floor.  

Also, I will never forget the amazing speakers who came to enlighten us with their passion. The most influencing speaker for me in the past couple of days has been English professor Jeff Nunokawa. As soon as he spoke all eyes were on him and you could just tell by the way that he spoke and moved that he was completely in love with his profession. I cannot wait to tackle these last two days and to live them to the fullest. The last thing I want to do is go back home, but at least I know that I am going back as a better version of who I was when I first walked in. 

Rich Cultural Community in SJP

By Allyson Chavez (Brooklyn, NY)

When I first arrived to SJP, I did not know what to expect. I knew to expect a rigid schedule but I did not expect to be surrounded by so many different cultures. SJP is very rich in culture but also very rich in acceptance. Looking around the newsroom, one can see that many states and countries are represented. The most beautiful part is the fact that every one here is truly interested in learning about every single culture that is represented here. My friends Shemaiah and Mofida and the lovely counselor Asmaa gave me an insight into their religion, Islam.

During SJP, they were fasting because they were observing Ramadan. While everyone else was eating, they would maintain commitment to their religion. Their steadfastness was truly beautiful to me and it showed me how tenacious some people are to things that are important to their lives. One night I asked Shemaiah and Mofida the significance behind wearing a hijab. Their response was that their hair represented their beauty and a man should fall in love with their personality first and then after marriage he would have the privilege of perceiving their true beauty. That really touched me and I thought it was a beautiful reason. SJP has exposed me to so many cultures!

Revenge of the Snack Monsters

By Lauren Smith (Los Angeles, CA)

Chip bags, boxes, and containers are all over the place. Wrappers and plates fill the trash can. Almost everyone has a bottle or cup near him or her. By the look of the place, you would have thought you were in a war zone. Actually, if you were seeing this, you would be in the SJP Newsroom. 

Everyone knows that teenagers are snack fiends and the SJP crew is no exception. When we are sitting in front of our computers, Typing away into the wee hours of the night, we just need a snack fix; a small pick me up. In come our counselors to the rescue, lugging bags of goodies to rally the troops. In a matter of moments, we devour almost every morsel. The cookies are completed; the chips are no more, just casualties of the midnight snacking war. After a long day of hard work, we trek back to the dorms, our minds pushed to the limit, our eyes heavy, and our stomachs full and happy.

But that’s just us. We are hungry for knowledge and snacks. Welcome to the SJP life.

The Seven Wonders of Food

By Ashley Jones-Quiadoo (Hyattsville, MD)

As a lover of food, I’ll eat just about anything—burgers, spaghetti, pizza, tacos, steak… I'm sure you get where I am going with this.

The food experience here at SJP has been amazing! I’ve tried things I’ve never imagined tasting. I’ve literally eaten just about everything under the sun.

Let’s begin with the cafĂ©: If you’re looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy eating style, tust me, you would want to stay far away from ginger sauteed fish to coconut cake, it’s unbelievable! A buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner you would think that we would be modest, but no. Everyone packed their plates several times a day—with bacon, crispy french fries, grilled/marinated chicken, and salad (to feel less guilty about all the food we ate)—even if they weren’t hungry!

The take-out was even better. From grape leafs—a sour wrap with rice stuffed inside—to ddukbokki—a Korean dish—the diversity doesn’t just lie within the students of SJP, but in the food, too. Today, I tried Indian food. When I walked into the room, I smelled the aroma of what I thought was curry chicken. Immediately, I thought we were going to indulge in a great carribean feast. However, it turned out to be chicken masala, and I wasn’t disappointed. The masala was delicious with white rice and warm naan.

Not only is SJP opening me up to new experiences and people of different ethnicites and backgrounds, but it’s expanding my taste buds as well.

Thank goodness we walk fifteen times a day! I think we can all feel less guilty about the food we have consumed over the past week.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New York

By Lorena Alvarez (Tustin, CA)

The day we went to New York was a cultural experience I will cherish forever. My group consisted of great counselors and awesome peers. I honestly wouldn't have picked a better group. 

We got the opportunity to interview pharmacists in Chinatown for the program's Plan B investigative story. Finding the first pharmacy was easy, but the maps we were giving were confusing. It got so confusing to the point where we circled the same block twice trying to find the rest of the pharmacies.

Eventually, we found our way thanks to some helpful New Yorkers and smart phones. The road bump did not stop us from completing our mission as we attempted to interview the pharmacists. When they were unwilling to answer any question, I was sent undercover as I attempted to buy Plan B myself and asked questions in order to figure out what they knew about the new laws. 

Many of the pharmacists were actually unaware of the new laws and proving it with evidence made the investigative story even more hard hitting. After we finished, we actually had extra time to walk around and enter shops which was rather astonishing. I did however, make a fool of myself as my tourist ways were displayed by my constant stopping and picture taking at random buildings throughout the city. 

I would have never thought I would visit New York being my age, and not being the only who was visiting for the first time made it more exciting. The journalistic publications we visited also increased my desire to pursue journalism, and being in Times Square was just unbelievable. I just want to thank SJP for all the great events they planned because they are an experience that I will carry with me forever.

Almost Goodbyes

Imani Ford (Chicago, IL)

Writing the Staff Editorial piece was so sad. It was like we were already saying goodbye. Honestly I don’t like goodbyes. I mean, I literally hate it when a movie ends, so you know I teared up when I was reading the end of the piece and I realized the program was almost over. Too bad it hasn’t been edited for a second time yet, I hope Richard likes it. I think the ending was just golden. I told Lauren that I wanted to look back at the 2013 Princeton Summer Journal in ten years and cry when I read it. I legitimately did almost cry in the newsroom just reading the rough draft; the final draft will be really good. I hope everyone likes it because I want it to accurately encompass all of our experiences together. Only two days left! It feels like I was just getting off the train on the first day. Time just flies; but then again I know by now nothing this good lasts forever. Now I hate almost-goodbyes, too! I love you guys. Bye.

New York Adventure

By Kathy Kang (Camarillo, CA)

My first visit to New York was amazing! Being in places I always wished to go was fascinating. We visited the New York Times, New York magazine, Newsweek and the Daily Beast. I was assigned to walk around The Bronx to investigate the Plan B regulations, which was very interesting. Despite how controversial and critical this issue was, it was shocking to find out that the new regulations weren't enforced. Kudos to Andrew, the only pharmacist who knew about the new regulation with his little cute chart. We finished the investigation early so we went to Manhattan and visited Columbia University. New York trip was amazing!

Crunch Time!

By Miguel Diaz (The Bronx, NY)

It's crunch time! SJP students are finalizing their chosen articles for the Summer Journal, and all of our stories are coming along pretty well! On Friday, the group traveled to Philadelphia to cover an Eagles vs. Patriots football game live from the press box! All of us students were very excited as we took our seats in our designated spots and took in the amazing view of the football field before us. 
We watched the game and enjoyed the complementary refreshments and foods that were available to us.

It was such an amazing experience and opportunity to be able to sit in the press box and look at the game from a different perspective.
Today, we transitioned into actual "crunch time." We started the day with different workshops and guest speakers, including a workshop where we were able to play the role of Supreme Court justices and play a deciding role in two critical cases in United States history. We also had a very diverse choice of foods, from Indian foods to Korean food. The rest of the day consisted of writing and editing our chosen stories for the journal. I can't wait to see the finished product of our journal and see all our hard work pay off!

Dream Job: New York Times

By Jhazalyn Prince (Brooklyn, NY)

Being from New York, it may not have been as exciting for me to take a trip to the sleepless city, but I did enjoy the tours/discussions we received in New York Times, Newsweek and New York Magazine. Ever since I began to consider journalism as a career option. working at the New York Times has become my dream job. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, newspaper publishers in the world. I personally turn to New York Times for any assignments I have, or if I simply want to read a great quality article. Although this is my view, my favorite had to be Newsweek. The workplace is small but comfortable and quiet, the building has an eccentric but modern building, and everything seemed very high-tech as if in preparation for the new media age. New York Magazine seemed to also be very high-tech and had a beautiful large building. It was also exciting to visit the publications were Richard and Katie work.

Near the Far

Mofida Abdelmageed (Brooklyn, NY)


As the Princeton Summer Journalism Program comes to an end, I want to reflect on my adventure. This program was incredible, and I learned so much throughout the days from both counselors and fellow students. The experience was simply terrific. With our busy schedule, I was always occupied. I did things and went places I normally would not go. I went to a baseball game, a football game, and watched a great movie ("The Way Way Back") with my friends. I tried a lot of cultural food, including Korean and Greek. I also enjoyed the sing alongs we had on the bus from our trips.

I learned to adapt to the hectic schedule of a true journalist. For instance, we were still writing articles at 12:40 am. The friendships I gained are unbelievable. I met people from all over the country with different backgrounds. Everyone has a different personality. The counselors understood when I needed help with getting something done for school. I remember Erica asking me about it the next morning. Everyone cared for each other. 

The opportunities this program gave us were endless. The guests speakers that I met influenced me to stand up for what I believe in and to explore the world. I went to the New York Times building and the Journalists impressed me a lot. I will dearly miss everyone. I would have never imagined the story of my adventure to end like this, but one should always "expect the unexpected".        

This is not a goodbye, but an "Until we meet again."

Newsroom Energy

By Allyson Chavez (Brooklyn, NY)

Students running around, counselors editing the last pieces of work: the SJP computer room is a real news room. With only two days before the paper is to be done, expectations are high. After ten days of extreme learning and exposure, there are only two lefts day. The lack of sleep and trying to cram as much information as possible has not been easy but it is rewarding and everything will be worth it when we all see the final piece; our talent will be tangible. The newspaper will be a confluence of a small part of each of us, it will be what makes these twelve days worth it. As the hours, minutes, and seconds pass by one can feel the intensify increase. If one was to look into the newsroom from the outside, one would think that it is a real news room. To be honest, it actually is.

Back to the City

By Jeanne Li (New York, NY)

Perhaps I don't want to leave New York City forever. It’s been less than a week, and our trip back to my hometown made me realize that there are so many things that I miss there.  I missed my favorite daily cup of cold milk tea and the way the first sip leaked into my mouth going through every crack in my teeth.  It tasted like home. I especially miss that familiar sweet and strong scent of tea and pastries from the local bakery.  I had taken these parts of NYC for granted.  

With these things in my system, I was more energized than ever to take up my favorite part of journalism, which is writing. Once I begin, I am unwilling to pause until I have poured and squeezed every word I could into a piece of writing.

On our way back to Princeton, my fellow SJP students and I were singing and cheering on the bus. I just wanted to get up and dance! At that moment, I did not look forward to leaving SJP, but I realized I will miss the little things here just like I missed the little things from my home. I will not forget my team and family here.  

Forming Bonds and Surpassing Expectations

By Xavier Husser (New York, NY)

The moment I was accepted to the Princeton Summer Journalism Program I knew that I was diving into an exotic, foreign world. My teachers, counselors, principal, family members, and even strangers were congratulating me nonstop for months after getting past the first round. Months before the program began I was worried about whom I would see at the program, if I could have fun with such a rigid schedule, and how people would react. Honestly I was not that interested in journalism and never thought about restarting the Cristo Rey school paper; however after getting through the first round and finishing the interview I told myself “Holy crap, I can do this.” 

When school ended, my job gave me an internship, and I had homework to do for English and History; I knew the time was drawing near but it still seemed a million miles away. Trying to preoccupy my time with work, Macbeth, exercise, and late nights writing a short story, I didn’t even pack my bag until the week before we left. I was preparing to venture into an unknown world of Ivy League schools and using my intelligence, charm, and award winning smile to win the hearts of everyone on campus. 

As soon as I got on the campus, the reality was better than the fantasy. Expecting to be surrounded by competitive journalists like it is on television, I was glad to meet minority students from not just different cities but different ethnic groups. The motley of African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Arab students resembled a reception at the United Nation; however, with less political infighting. Conversing with intellectual but “real” students, the promotion of debating with students and on occasions counselors (from different hip hop artists to national security), and interviewing strangers only the second night. The SJP challenges students to get out of their comfort zones, mentally challenges students to strive for the best, and spiritually forms bonds from all walks of life. 

After three days in the program I’ve formed bonds with students that’ll last far longer than after the program ends. The counselors, students, and excitement makes the program so engaging to the point I wish it was for an entire month. I’ve gained a stronger interested in history, journalism, and story telling and the confidence to apply to the most prestigious universities such as Princeton and Brown. As the program continues to sate my quest for knowledge and the truth I believe now that “Holy crap, I can do this.”

Frank Sinatra Had The Right Idea

By Lauren Smith (Los Angeles, CA)

“Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it. New York! New York!” -New York by Frank Sinatra

I seriously tried to suppress the urge to break out into song as we walked down the street into Times Square, and if it weren’t for a minor cold, I probably would have. We were in New York, for Pete’s sake! I was so excited! I’m from Los Angeles, which is a major city in itself, so some people would probably wonder why I was so thrilled to be in another big city. The best way I can explain it would probably be that I was just as excited to see the actual steps where they filmed Glee in New York and the Good Morning America studio as someone who would be to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Man’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (which is actually a train ride away from my neighborhood). 

The sites were not the only incredible part of this brief trip. It was also great to compare and contrast the different major news publications. We went to the New York Times, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, and New York magazine. After our visits I realized that if I were to be a part of the journalism industry, I would love to be a magazine journalist. The magazine industry seems to be, in all honesty, a lot more fun. The offices are open and lively and there seems to be a freedom to be really creative in all aspects of the publication process, from reporting to print.

We also went on an investigation that day. We split into groups and went to survey several local pharmacies about their knowledge of the new policies surrounding Plan B One Step. The FDA previously had regulations stating that anyone over 17 can get the Plan B pill with an ID, but anyone under the age had to have a prescription. Now, the new policies state that a woman of “child bearing age” can get the pill. My group was chosen to go to the Bronx. My group was awesome and dynamic (shout out to Bianca, Marin, and Shemaiah!). We put all our investigative knowledge to good use and the findings and reactions were really interesting.

Besides the hot muggy subway and its rather large rats (I actually saw a few), New York was a great experience. It was amazing to see the lights and the sights. I left the city that night wondering if I could visualize myself there, interning at Newsweek. But you never know, maybe Sinatra and I will be singing the same song someday.