Extracurricular Writing Samples

In addition to the coursework I completed, I was involved in many roles on campus that provided me with practice in my field.

monetary donation letter: This was written while on the Up ‘Til Dawn account of ImPRessions, a student-run Public Relations firm at Ohio University. It was sent out to various businesses and organizations around Athens, Ohio; we then followed up the letter with a phone call or visit in a timely manner. This secured monetary and prize donations as well as food and beverage donations for the event.

OU Senate Press Release: As the Press Secretary of Ohio University’s Student Senate I wrote some press releases for events held by the senators. I then pitched the stories to campus media such as The Post, College Green Magazine, ACRN radio and Thread Magazine.

OU Senate Capoeira Release: A committee of the Student Senate hosted a Capoeira class, and since it was such a unique experience we deemed it worthy to pitch to campus media.

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My academic experience

As a Journalism student I was fortunate to work on a variety of projects throughout my collegiate career, some for real clients. Each project provided me with leadership and support skills as well as experience creating professional, meaningful work.

  • Social Media Plan and Analysis: This was created in a team for a real client, Blue Chip Consulting. Research was done on competitors and the client’s current social presence and a content calendar was created to assist the company.
  • Strategic Communication Plan: I served as the Account Executive, and therefore the primary liaison between my group, the client and the professor. We conducted our own research through cold calling and paper surveys, compiled results, and made suggestions for the client’s current Strategic Communication situation.
  • Media Kit: I created this Media Kit on behalf of the Ohio University Aquatic Center for a strategic writing assignment. It includes a pitch letter, fact sheet, news release and more.
  • Parties scramble for votes as election nears: This was an article written for a news writing assignment highlighting the Ohio University Student Senate race.

These, along with the other content on this blog, are just a few examples of the great education I received at Ohio University.

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Critique of nytimes.com: Does the amount of content matter more than managing clutter?

The New York Times, now along with its website, is a major source of news in the United States. While the content produced by nytimes.com is known for being reliable and accurate, the state of the website may not be as polished.

Spacing, font sizes and colors

The spacing on nytimes.com is very crowded. While this may be because they want their viewers to have immediate access to as many stories as possible, the links to stories start to blur together. This could also be due to the small font sizes and brighter (than the normal standard) text. There is only one large headline on the entire page–the featured story at the top. While it does draw more attention to that important story, it decreases the value of the other stories on the page. The blue text is not necessarily harmful, especially in the case of the large headline, but it may not be the best choice for the smaller fonts. In some cases the blue headlines are the same font size as the body text, and at that point it becomes hard to distinguish between the two. If nytimes.com wants to stick with blue headlines, it may be easier on the viewer if they were displayed in a larger font.

Tabs and categories

News websites commonly display the tabs of different news topics across the top of the page. I like that nytimes.com differentiated their site by placing the tabs along the side. However, the font size of the tabs is also very small and therefore they tend to blend together slightly. A nice feature incorporated into this section of the site is that the main tabs (World, U.S., Politics, etc.) are all typed in bold font and separated from the more minor tabs by a box with a light, thin stroke.

Art on the web

We have been taught that art is an integral part of appealing to viewers on the web. The New York Times has an element of art attached to almost all of the stories and sections that appear on the home page. Once again, because of the amount of art, most of the pictures are relatively small. While it may appeal to some readers, the smaller pictures may fail to catch the attention of those quickly scanning the website. It may be worthwhile to have bigger art on a story in a few more sections to entice readers.

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Ohio University adds transgender health care to student insurance policy

On May 14 the Graduate Student Senate at Ohio University passed a resolution adding four additional benefits to next year’s student health insurance policy. These new benefits include coverage for travel immunizations, the removal of exclusion for drug and alcohol-related injuries, the hiring of a student health insurance advocate on campus, and the addition of transgender health care.

New policy additions

Graduate Student Senate President Tracy Kelly explained that all of these benefits will combine to serve a larger population of the student body. Travel immunizations will now be covered for those students who want or are required to study abroad, students can seek help even if intoxicated at the time of their injury, and a professional will be on campus to explain the health insurance policy to students who need assistance.

But perhaps the most interesting addition is that of transgender health care. The new policy will allow for the coverage of hormones and surgeries, up to the premium, for transgender students.

“If I was prescribed estrogen it would be covered because I’m a woman. If a male changing to a female was prescribed estrogen it wouldn’t. We’re really just taking out language that prohibits the coverage of hormones and surgeries for the students who need it,” said Kelly.

Others who also support the addition maintain that the previous language of the policy was discriminatory toward transgender students. Kris Grey, a graduate student who identifies as gender queer, is a member of Graduate Student Senate as well as an advocate for the addition of transgender health care to the policy.

“In terms of my options, I had to purchase it [the student health insurance policy]. It was blatantly discriminatory toward me and other people I know. Once I saw it I couldn’t ‘unsee’ it,” said Grey.

Fellow students felt the same way. Holly Moody covered the Graduate Student Senate meetings and vote on the new additions for The Post and “kept tabs” with different members and their opinions.

“One student said if he knew they didn’t have trans health care coverage he wouldn’t have come here, so it was a huge issue,” said Moody. “A few international students spoke about how the policy would be too much for them.. the price may be too high and not really in their favor. But most of the attention on the issue was positive,” she added.

What is transgender health care?

The term “transgender” can be used to describe those who are male and identify as female, those who are female and identify as male, those who identify with both genders, and those who identify with neither gender. According to the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) website, transgender people could be undergoing health care for the body parts they have, hormone therapy to help their bodies appear as the gender they identify with, and surgical operations to do the same–all simultaneously.

It is important to note that not all transgender people elect to have hormone treatment or surgery to alter their bodies. It is a personal choice that is often made between a doctor and the patient. Because of the variety of medical necessities possible for a transgender patient, the importance of health insurance coverage is very high.

Transgender individuals also sometimes have a high risk of other health problems including HIV, physical or sexual violence, and some forms of cancer.

“I have not had any surgeries to remove my uterus or my ovaries, and because they’re in there and they’re no longer active–testosterone suppresses their normal cycle–they could very well develop things like cancers,” said Grey.

Other health issues that affect transgender people could include Gender Identity Disorder or other psychiatric problems. These health risks are not more prevalent in all transgender people and depend on each individual’s situation.

What is Gender Identity Disorder?

These statistics were found on gidreform.org, a website advocating for Gender Identity Disorder to be classified as a medical condition instead of a psychiatric disorder. These statistics were found in an article written by Kelley Winters, Ph.D. She presented a range for each time period; the lowest numbers were used in this graph. To view the full article, click here.

Gender Identity Disorder can be diagnosed by a doctor when a patient identifies as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth. According to a document found on the AMSA website, this cross-gender identification cannot be based on cultural benefits one gender may have over another. The patient also must be impaired in some way by functioning as the gender assigned at birth. This could include discomfort with stereotypical gender roles, occupational discrimination or social distress.

Read the full document referenced on Gender Identity Disorder.

Transgender awareness at Ohio University

Ohio University students have a few different options available to expose them to diversity, including different sexual orientations and gender identities. These opportunities can range from academic classes to student organizations.

Junior Emily McDonald is a student in the nursing program. She has been taught about Gender Identity Disorder in a Pathology class.

“My case might be special because I had a professor who had a relative with Gender Identity Disorder. She said her niece was born with both male and female parts and had surgery at a young age to become a female. Her family had to talk with her later so she understood exactly what she went through,” said McDonald.

This bulletin board hangs outside the LGBT Center to help inform students of upcoming events and programs.

The LGBT Center, located in Baker Center room 354, is another great resource for students on campus. The LGBT community is very active and hosts a variety of events throughout the school year. The LGBT activities cater to prospective students, current students and alumni. They offer multiple different programs such as SAFEZONE and SpeakOUT! as well as scholarships to members of the LGBT community.

“There are a lot of great really active folks on campus. There is a new activist group called Asterisk, which is an Athens area trans advocacy group. It’s not only an advocacy group for trans identified students but also allies. It’s a great way for people to get involved if they’re interested in learning more,” said Grey.

OU’s new policy: a big step forward

The new additions to the student health insurance policy will help serve the needs of more students than ever.

“The primary issue was people not wanting to pay an additional 10 dollars per year for something they may never use. The consensus of the body was that it is a worthwhile expenditure because it is a really significant benefit for those in the transgender community,” said Kelly.

According to Kelly, all the new additions will raise the price of the policy slightly more than fifty dollars per year, with the transgender benefit specifically accounting for ten dollars of that amount. Although the price will be higher, students such as Grey and Kelly feel that the benefits of the policy will far outweigh the costs.

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Critique 8: CBS News tries using two videos in one article

CBS News features two different videos in a recent news article on their website. The article explores the idea of texting while driving with the new element of the sender of the text messages possibly being responsible as well. The videos could be a good use of multimedia, but how much is too much?

Video 1

The first video, which appears at the very beginning of the article, is an excerpt from the show “CBS This Morning” and includes interviews with one of the sources quoted in the article. It is the classic video package for television. It does slightly supplement the article with visuals and some information that was not written.

Video 2

The second video appears further down in the article and is also a clip from “CBS This Morning.” In this video journalists on the show discuss the issue at hand with trial attorney Rikki Klieman. This focuses not on reporting the issue but whether there should be legislation against senders of text messages when they know the recipient is driving. This video may even supplement the article more because it gives attributed opinion from someone in the field of law that does not appear in the article.

Both videos are helpful to consuming the story, but they are also both between 3 and 4 minutes long. The problem with having them both in the same article is that viewers may not have the time or desire to commit to watching both videos. In this case, still photos may have been more appropriate than the first video.

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OU’s campus safety threatened by rise in sex offenses

Ohio University has seen a significant jump in the number of forcible sex offenses reported. According to the Clery Report, 9 offenses were reported in both 2008 and 2009, but this figure rose to 15 in 2010.

What is the Clery Report?

According to higheredcenter.org, part of the U.S. Department of Education, every higher education institution that participates in the federal financial aid program is required to issue a yearly report, the Clery Report, to inform the public of crime occurring on campus and in surrounding areas.

The report is named after Jeanne Clery, a young woman who was raped and murdered in her residence hall at Lehigh University in 1986.

What is a forcible sex offense?

A forcible sex offense, as defined by the Clery Report, is “any sexual act directed against another person, forcible and/or against the person’s will; or not forcible or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent.”

The specific crimes under this category are forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling.

How has OU been affected?

This information was obtained through the Clery Report by Ohio University.

The number of forcible sex offenses rose from 9 to 15 between 2009 and 2010. The most commonly reported crime in this category is forcible rape. The change in 2010 is reflected in the report by the increased reports of forcible fondling.

“I witnessed a sexual assault in 2010 on the back part of South Green,” said Hayley Geiler, a sophomore at Ohio University. Her Resident Assistant found her after an incident of sexual assault and asked her to participate in the statement for the OU Police Department. “I was a lot more cautious walking around at night after that. I never realized how easy it would be for something like that to happen,” said Geiler.

While the number of reports is increasing on the Athens campus, the branch campuses of Ohio University have seen no change. In fact, they report only between 0 and 2 crimes per year.

“I attended the Southern campus of OU for a year,” said junior Kyle McCown. “I never really saw anything like that happen. We didn’t even have campus police, only local police who patrolled the campus every day,” said McCown.

The Clery Report, no matter the university, can help students stay aware of what is going on throughout campus and increase their safety.

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Critique 7: Polls and Info-graphics

The headline of the article being critiqued this week is “Poll: Romney has slight edge over Obama.” After reading the headline viewers expect to see lots of numbers and statistics throughout the article. However, the idea of info-graphics sometimes escapes the minds of journalists and readers. Graphs, charts and other devices that serve to visually present information can be considered info-graphics.

In this article

The image to the right shows the only info-graphic used to “show” readers the results of the poll the author wrote about. It is a pie chart depicting how people rate the economy. This is relevant to the material in the article, but not directly. The article says that, according to their poll, the economy is the most important issue in the upcoming election; other issues are the budget deficit, health care, same-sex marriage, foreign policy and immigration. It may have been more worthwhile for CBS to construct a chart of those issues rather than how good or bad people think the economy is doing.

Links and information

There are three links in the middle of the article that allow readers to view a poll of what Americans think of President Obama supporting same-sex marriage, a poll of how Americans themselves feel about the issue, and the full polling results of the current article. The first two links take viewers to separate CBS articles that were written about those polls, while the last one links to a PDF of the poll results. The last link is particularly helpful so interested readers can get a better idea of the information that was collected.

Lastly, something necessary that is not noticed right away is how they conducted the poll. At the bottom of the article in italics is a paragraph explaining how many people were polled, how they were contacted, etc. This is important so readers can have a grasp on how many people were used to represent the entire country and how accurate the results are.

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Critique 6: “60 Minutes” on the web

The show “60 Minutes” is one of the most popular broadcasts in the nation. However, there is more to it than you see on your television screen. The show’s website can be accessed through cbsnews.com and provides a new experience for those who may have been loyal followers for years.


The “60 Minutes” site stays consistent with the layout of the main CBS News page by maintaining the same tabs at the top showcasing all the different shows and tabs under the banner allowing access to the different categories of news the show has covered. The most popular stories are at the top, followed by “60 Minutes Overtime,” and then subsections of categories like sports and nature.

Text or video?

Since “60 Minutes” is a television show, many would expect the web content to consist of video from the show. CBS goes a step further and offers more. When the viewer clicks on a story, a written version comes on the screen along with the option to view the video segment. This gives the audience more control over the story. Extra links are also present to supplement the content.

“60 Minutes Overtime”

Along with the original show and a written article, the site also provides “60 Minutes Overtime.” This section provides additional information about stories that have been covered by “60 Minutes,” including interviews, video and supplemental articles. It expands on what is traditionally reported by mainstream media. It is a great resource for someone interested in a particular subject to gain even more knowledge.

Although the “60 Minutes” site is only a section of CBS News, it holds its own as a popular program on television as well as an online news resource.

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Korte brings experience to the classroom

Gregory Korte is an alumnus of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and currently works at USA Today as a journalist. He returned to Athens for a week and shared some of his knowledge with the industry’s upcoming professionals.

Print vs. The Internet

Gregory Korte gives advice to students in J314 about the constantly changing media industry.
Photo by Hillary Johns

Korte addressed the decline in newspaper circulation compared to online journalism. “Print still has its strengths,” said Korte. He explained this by citing that graphics, while not interactive, are sometimes more powerful in print and draw attention easily. Another difference he pointed out was the type of news in print compared to online. Newspapers are expected to print “hard news,” serious issues of interest to the public. On the internet, though, viewers sometimes learn toward what Korte called “fluffy stories.” Entertainment and novelty stories are often read the most. “One time Charlie Sheen took up our entire ‘Most Popular’ list on the USA Today website,” he said, while also explaining that there are less limitations when trying to balance the two different types online. “You publish so often that by the end of the day it all evens out,” he said.

Establishing a Web Presence

Another topic of interest was the importance of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook and how journalists should conduct themselves on the internet. He encouraged students to own a domain name on the web; he cautioned that if journalists don’t establish a clear, reliable identity their name can be easily tarnished by others.

When discussing social media he advised that it be kept professional with a little bit of personality. “I try to engage every once in a while, but it’s mostly stuff I don’t mind if complete strangers know about me,” he said. It is important to use and understand privacy settings so the information is viewed by the correct audience.

A recurring theme in the presentation was the idea of the audience. A journalist should understand what readers want, where they want it, and how to get it there.

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The Science Café explores obesity

The Science Café

Have you ever wondered about the origins of dinosaur fossils? Are you interested in ecology or environmental issues? The Science Café at Ohio University has provided students, faculty and community members with the opportunity to answer those questions and many more.

The purpose of The Science Café is to educate the Ohio University community about scientific issues and to foster an interest in different types of research. Professors and researchers from various departments deliver presentations to attendees in the Front Room in Baker Center a few times every quarter. The events are sponsored by Sigma Xi, a Scientific Research Society, and The 1804 Fund. Dates and presentation descriptions are posted on their website, and the first 50 people at each presentation receive a free cup of coffee. You can also follow The Science Café on Facebook for updates.

Big Fat Myths and Obesity

The Science Café is held at the Front Room in Baker Center and serves to educate students, staff and community members about science and research.

The last presentation of the quarter was given by Darlene Berryman, faculty in Nutrition, and focused on myths surrounding fats and obesity. Her research deals with how fat affects mice, and she explained how it is possible for fat mice to be healthy and thin mice to be unhealthy. This challenges human notions that fat is automatically bad and thin is good. Berryman helped explain the obesity issue by saying “We don’t have to move as much now in our environment. We have a lot of conveniences like fast food and always being in a comfortable temperature.”  Her hope was that people would understand how complex fats are both in animals and humans. Emily S., a graduate student at Ohio University, attended the presentation even though it did not involve her area of study, Meteorology. “I always thought fat was something you don’t want, but coming away from here I learned it can be really beneficial,” she said.

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