Behind the Scenes: Walking with the Wolves of WHAR

I walked into our first project assignment day a little nervous. We were getting placed into the groups we’d spend our entire quarter working with and pitching story ideas for our first project.

We grouped up and Candice Kelchner and Lauren Pluim joined me in my corner. Alejandra Garcia was unavailable that day, but regardless, we jumped right in.

To be honest, I didn’t think any of my own ideas were that impressive, but after our group ice breaker and we went around pitching ideas to each other, my WHAR Wolf Rescue story stood out. I was a little concerned about Alejandra’s missing voice in the decision, but who wouldn’t want to hang out with wolves? Overall, the idea went over well with the entire group and the professor.

So  off we went, taking care of our initial tasks. Mine being reaching out to the owner of WHAR, Kristi Krutsinger to ask if we could do the story and establish a relationship with her.

She was very open to the idea and provided me with lots of tips and instructions as well as some preliminary information about the wolves and hybrids.

“Great!” I thought to myself. “I love it when things fall into place. This will go so smoothly.” And it did…for the most part.

I continued on with my background research, gaining the community’s perspective through face-to-face conversations and social media and stalking their facebook page’s comments. I came to the conclusion that most people have no idea this place exists, much less that it provides tours and opportunities to interact and feed the wolves and wolf/ dog hybrids. And if those I asked did know about it, it wasn’t much.

Four days into our project, on Friday,  we head up to the location. We had not been able to reach Kristi to let her know we were coming, so we were a little hesitant. As it turns out, the rescue was closed, but luckily Kristi came out to talk to us and rescheduled for Monday.

Another thing we were concerned about was the donation that Kristi had mentioned a few times prior. While we respect the rescue and all it’s doing and would love to do what we can to help them out, we knew that providing money to the subject of a working story is unethical. We were worried that if she did not understand our ethical restriction, it may harm our opportunity to talk with her.

I attempted to call Kristi to clarify this before we returned but never got a response, so we decided to wing it and hope for the best. Come Monday, we all pack our equipment, bought some raw chicken drumsticks and headed up to the rescue.

We walked up to the outer gate and were met with a large, beautiful white wolf who was staring at us contently from his large, grassy pin. We waited a while and no one came, so we opened the outer gate and walked in around the gated area that held the white wolf. There was another in there with him, but much smaller and a lot less wolf-like. We began documenting the animals while we waited for Kristi, who came out a few minutes later.

The tour was amazing. We went pin to pin of each of the nine wolf or wolf/ dog hybrid and got the overview of each. Watching the wolves interact with each other, react to us, and respond to Kristi was such a cool experience. Seeing wolves up close is such a rare opportunity, and WHAR provides the opportunity as well as the education that the public needs to better understand these creatures.

After meeting the wolves and hybrids, we were able to feed them the raw chicken legs we brought.  Garcia and I volunteered to do the feeding. Garcia went first, the brave soul. She fed the alpha, a hybrid named Shiloh. He was so well-behaved and received the food very politely.

Then I got to feed Chiefy, a full blood Timber wolf and man could he JUMP. I was able to step up on a little platform, raise my right hand up to the top of a 6 foot fence and Chiefy lept up and clung onto the fence, reaching his nose through the chain link and taking the chicken from my hand.

We continued feeding the rest of the pack while Pluim and Kelchner had their camera going the whole time. Pluim was recording video and audio, getting the whole tour and a stand up interview at the end. She was able to get great nat sounds and awesome shots of the wolves and wolf/dog hybrids.

“Going into this project, I wasn’t sure what angle I was going to take with the video,” said Pluim. “Kristi presented us with a lot of good material to work with so it was difficult but ultimately I decided to talk about how wolves are unique from dogs and the unique personalities of the wolves from the shelter. The editing process went smoothly, the only really challenging part was picking out and finding the quotes.”

Kelchner was taking shots for her interactive aspect of the project, documenting each wolf and hybrid as well as all of our interactions with them.

“When we visited WHAR, I knew going in that I wanted to capture the relationship between Kristi Krutsinger and the full blood and hybrid wolves that she cares for,” said Kelchner. “I tried depicting this through close up shots and wider framed angles to illustrate the love and dedication she has for her job. Additionally, each full blood and hybrid wolf has their own story and I knew that I wanted a picture of each of them to share it with others,”

Garcia was our written word role. She recorded the audio for the whole tour and asked some questions toward the end.

“This story has been both exciting and challenging to piece together,” said Garcia. “There is so much great and resourceful information and it’s difficult to pick through it all and decide what needs to be relayed to our readers.”

Overall, this story was an opportunity for us to go out of our element and spend some time with beautiful animals that sometimes get a really bad reputation. But that’s the whole points of WHAR, to educate the public and show just how intelligent, civil and respectful they are. But it’s important to remember that they are still wild animals.

“These animals are amazing if you put the time in with them,” Krutsinger said. “But they’re still wild animals, or part wild animals and they can do unpredictable things and you cannot blame them for that. They have to be able to be themselves or else they’ll be broken. And a broken animal becomes a dangerous animal.”

How has increased enrollment really affected students?

Here we are in Project 1, and we really just decided to go for it.  Bryce pitched a really interesting story idea that she mentioned Pat had previously brought up.  We’ve been seeing plenty of stories about how Cal Poly went way over the mark with admitting students.  There have been a couple stories about how the administration is accommodating this, but those have mostly been about on-campus housing.  However, we wanted to see how the increased student population is affecting not only the dorms but the quality of education on this campus.  This meant looking at things like infrastructure and class scheduling. In my opinion, this is such an important and often overlooked factor, and I think all of us were wondering why no one else has written about it.

It’s probably because it takes a lot of work to write a story like this.  I think all the work it takes to write a good story is often overlooked because it’s easy to forget how quickly it has to be done.  Journalism is not only about efficiency and accuracy, but it is about timeliness. The most obvious current example of this is everything surrounding the Lambda Chi Alpha incident.  Something new seems to be popping up every second, and Mustang News has been getting content out almost immediately after these incidents occur because that’s just how journalism is.  A story like this needs more than a day or two. Heck, it needs more than a week or two.

I think we all realized pretty soon after we began this project that if we were going to do it right, not only did we need to spend a lot of time looking into data and numbers and conduct proper research, but we needed to talk to a lot of people.  Finding students to talk to is one of the easier tasks because there are plenty of people who have trouble getting the classes they need, and they aren’t afraid to complain about it. Faculty is a bit harder because it’s clear they are hesitant; they’re concerned talking about this issue could potentially affect their employment.  

“Right now we are interviewing as many sources as we can. It’s important to be correct with facts as well as making sure to capture the emotions from all involved.”- Nate Edelman

By the beginning of our second week, Nate had scheduled an interview with James Maraviglia, who is the Vice Provost for Enrollment Development & Chief Marketing Officer.  All four of us decided to attend this interview so we could all get a better sense of direction for this story. After leaving the interview, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief because he gave us so much information to work with.  We got about 30 minutes of content, which was more than enough. As we were talking, we realized we all had the same aha moment when Maraviglia said this:

“Yes, Cal Poly, our applicant pool is significantly increased. What hasn’t changed is our space and our size. That hasn’t changed since I believe 2003, so are we planning on growing? No, not until … new facilities, faculty hired, and more money to support students. Because we’re over capacity. To be honest with you.”

It’s a really great feeling when you’re interviewing a source, and they say something you’re really hoping they’ll say.  It lets you know that you’re on the right track and aren’t wasting your time.

“As our team goes farther into this story, the more essential angles and perspectives seem to surface. It’s both exhausting and exhilarating because it makes me realize how important it is to get our questions answered.” – Mady Minas

This was only the beginning though.  After interviewing Maraviglia, Bryce interviewed a couple other people who not only provided a decent amount of information but expanded the story even more.  Because of this, we talked with Brady and decided to expand it into Project 2. So for now, this story is to be continued.

When I asked Bryce about how this process has been, she summed up the experience perfectly: “I’ve sent more emails every day for the past week than I have in my entire life. It’s really intense to feel like we’ve got such a vital story to tell. I’ve been talking to everyone in my life about this project, all the time, because it’s all I can think about. I love feeling like we’ve got our hands on something really important.”

Do you even Juul?

College students doing drugs. When we were brainstorming story ideas, that was the path we were going down. Adderall is the most abused drug on campus. Cocaine almost always makes an appearance at college house parties. But really–these aren’t new stories. Even though there are definitely students who aren’t doing drugs, it’s stereotypical for college students to party a little too hard and experiment with substances older adults would find irresponsible.

Then, we thought of the Juul–a nicotine device that is new. Although it hit the shelves two years ago, in recent times its popularity has taken off among young people. We know this because we are college students; we’ve seen fellow students use Juuls at parties and bars and even on campus.

The rise in its popularity was fascinating to us. Vapes and e-cigs have been around for years but they’ve never been “cool”. Although they took off within some cliques, it seemed as if the popular opinion was that vapes were meme-worthy rather than something to participate in. The Juul is different.

Sleek, modern, and sexy, the Juul in silhouette is a far cry from the bulky cartridges of vapes. It looks cool. Beyond that, it’s small, easy to put in a purse, and subtle to use in public. “It’s breaking barriers”, Warren Fox, our written reporter said, “Guys, girls, young old–everyone is doing it”.

The fascinating thing about Juuls among our generation is that people don’t really smoke cigarettes. In fact, we guessed that there’s a large number of people who use a Juul but have never actually smoked a cigarette. Once we started doing social media research, we realized that even the people who use Juuls don’t understand what’s in a Juul.  More research told us that while the Juul eliminates tobacco and carcinogens, it actually has a heftier dose of nicotine than cigarettes.

Not only was this an interesting story, we realized it’s actually an important story to tell. Nicotine is an addictive substance. If kids don’t know what’s in their new favorite smoking device, they could get (accidentally) addicted, imposing potential health risks later in life. The story juxtaposes of something harmful yet trendy, cool and so mainstream–even in a generation raised on anti-drug Red Ribbon Weeks and “Just say no” campaigns.

So we set to work.

We were able to round up some Juuls and some Juul pods from some peers so we didn’t have to buy one to photograph. (They’re $50!)

We sought out quotes from the Cal Poly public health department, the SLO County public health department, students who use Juuls, and a representative from Cal Poly Health Center responsible for the Be Well anti-tobacco campaign.

“Nicotine has known health effects–it can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.” Christine Irish Nelson, the Cal Poly Be Well representative, said.

It was relatively easy to track down sources and statistics on the health effects of Juuls. Surprisingly, it was not easy to get a student Juul-er to speak to us. “It was a huge pain to find people to talk to. I guess people don’t want their smoking habits to be broadcasted in Mustang News” Joey De Anda, our video reporter, said. We had to resort to posting in a Facebook group and offering our sources a pack of Juul pods in exchange for their perspective. That’s how we found a guy.

From a multimedia perspective, we realized an infographic would help readers understand the makeup of a Juul and what’s actually in a Juul pod. Courtney Lucas, our multimedia reporter, compiled information and created an infographic using Adobe Illustrator. “It was interesting to learn about what’s in a Juul pod myself. I knew it involved nicotine, but I didn’t know exactly how” she said.

We hope providing awareness on this new trend as well as what it actually involves will help college students make informed decisions when constantly surrounded by Juuls. That’s what journalism is all about, after all–providing the facts to help readers live informed lives.

Behind the Story: What It was like stepping into an augmented reality

Think what it would be like if your entire world became a computer screen. For example, imagine you just woke up and are brushing your teeth in front of the mirror with one hand, while in the other, combing through your emails as they are being virtually transposed in front of you, being displayed as a 3-dimensional figure through your bathroom mirror. Walking back into your bedroom, still enjoying the lingering Listerine burn, you here the rain ceaselessly pounding against the roof. You open the blinds and see the rain isn’t letting up. So, you voice activate the weather app through your window, seeing a digitally transposed storm cloud appear, hovering over your bed shooting lightning bolts in the middle of your room. This is what it was like to cover a story on augmented reality (AR).

Saying that our team had very little knowledge on AR reality at the beginning of this project would be an understatement. But through this research experience, we learned so much.

“Before I started on this project, I didn’t even know what augmented reality really meant. Now that I interviewed a professional and researched more about AR, I realized that AR will play a huge roll in our lives in the future. This story is extremely important because it will change the way we interact with the world (much like social media did),” said our audio/video specialist Ariana Afshar.

As our team had a limited understanding of AR, it was inevitable that we would also have a lot of questions. More specifically, we wanted to know how AR will change our lifestyle, culture and society. We were seeking answers to the big questions. Questions like, why is AR projected to become a multibillion-dollar industry within the next few years?

Our goal was to seek out Cal Poly students and notable people in the community who are paving the way for AR technology to come to fruition.

As journalism students and storytellers, we were fascinated with what a couple Cal Poly students, who have knowledge in this technology and who have incorporated it into their own personally designed apps, had to say.

“Something valuable I learned from covering this story was interviewing Mathew and Anna who work at Innovation Sandbox. It was fun and I got to learn more about AR with students who were invested in it.” said Bailey Ellis, our team’s multimedia specialist.

Mathew, Innovation Sandbox staff
Innovation Sandbox bldg
3D images of people
Using IR interface for scanning people and 3D printing them

It greatly benefited our team in developing this story having access to so many sources at Cal Poly.

What originally triggered our team’s interest in writing about this topic was a professor at Cal Poly who teaches one of the only marketing classes in the country that integrates AR into the curriculum. AR marketing specialist, Dr. Joachim Scholz, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Orfalea College of Business is one of the first people to ever have a paper published on augmented reality marketing was a very insightful person for our team to speak with.

Dr. Scholz helped our team gain a firmer grasp on what AR is and how it will simplify our lives and make it more interesting.

“The biggest thing between AR and anything else is that AR happens in your life. So, right now we are glued to our screens and it takes us away from what we are effectively doing… It takes me out of the experience — versus AR is the experience. AR transforms every surface on our physical world into a canvas for digital augmentation.” Said by Dr. Scholz.

AR was a technical subject that took our team out of our comfort zone and pushed our journalistic boundaries. “I have grown as a journalist from covering this story by expanding my writing skills. I have always been all about sports writing, so writing a feature article on a topic as advanced as AR has really made me think outside the box and refresh my writing skills as a whole.” Said Kenny Campbell, our team’s senior writer.

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes: The Impact of ASI Student Government

We’re a team of three, so we function a little differently than your typical team of four. Each week, we have three platforms covered rather than four, so our first project does not have a video component. This sets an obstacle for choosing story ideas, as we want to make sure that we are telling the story in the most effective way through the platforms that we do have. We brainstormed ideas that would still be compelling without a video interview component, and settled on a well-known, yet not well understood organization: Associated Students, Inc.

ASI Student Government logo. | www.asi.calpoly.edu

Initially, our story was going to focus solely on the upcoming ASI elections and the candidates in those races. Mustang News usually does coverage of these elections, so after a conversation with the Mustang News editors, we opted to investigate more about voter turnout, why students have an overall apathy towards ASI and what impact ASI actually has on campus. I started asking around, trying to gauge what the Cal Poly community actually knows about ASI, as well as what impact ASI has had on campus.

“I really don’t know much about ASI. It seems like they have so much power to make change but I don’t know what they’re doing.” – 2nd year Sociology major Céline Bisson

I found that people (students, staff, faculty and community members) do not have a firm grasp of the purpose, function or impact of ASI. While most people immediately thought of student government when I mentioned ASI, some thought of the other branch of ASI.

Users on Reddit had a lot to say about ASI’s power over club’s funds.

A screenshot of a post about ASI on Cal Poly’s Reddit thread.

Our angle ended up focusing on the student government side of ASI, as it seemed to be the more newsworthy and interesting angle for readers. Our ideal sources were former members of ASI student government, as it would likely be hard for a current member to speak freely about the program’s impact while they are involved. Jacob, our writer for this project, reached out to past presidents, members of ASI Executive Cabinet and Board of Directors to get more information.

Jacob beginning to write.

Ilianna focused on creating multimedia components that would educate the readers on the structure of ASI. She contacted ten of the last ASI presidents and got information from them about their biggest accomplishments and what organizations they had been members of.

“It was really interesting working with the story writer and creating multimedia pieces that would best fit it. Collaboration is key in creating a successful project topic.” – Ilianna Salas

Since Ilianna’s graphics explained much of the structure and background information, Jacob had more ability to explore in-depth ideas about past presidents, voter turnout and the impact that ASI is having on campus. Since most past presidents have graduated and moved away from San Luis Obispo, we utilized LinkedIn and Facebook to make connections with our sources. 

Overall, we thought that this was a great first project topic since so many people that I talked to had no idea what ASI Student Government does, or the impact that they have on campus.  There is always coverage of other groups and how they are impacting campus and coverage on certain aspects of ASI, but not coverage of the impact and function of ASI. We hope that this will answer community member’s questions and show students how critical it is to engage with the organization and vote for the students who represent them.

“This story was especially rewarding because I got the chance to write about an important issue that affects every student at Cal Poly.” -Jacob Foerster

Trending Now: Bottomless Mimosa Sundays in San Luis Obispo

Deals for Bottomless Mimosas are on Sunday during brunch in San Luis Obispo

There has been an increasingly popular trend of Bottomless Mimosa Sundays at local restaurants and bars in San Luis Obispo, and we wanted to get to the bottom of why this trend is happening, and more specifically, how it effecting local businesses in SLO.

“I got really stoked on choosing this topic for our project because there is clearly a trend of students going to Bottomless, and we wanted to get to the bottom of it,” says JB Garcia.

One of our first interests in the project was to see if there was a correlation between the recent ban on two-for-ones downtown, and the new trend of Bottomless Mimosa Sundays. The ban took effect a few weeks ago, and was a unanimous decision among all bar owners downtown. Bottomless Sundays have yet to have any bans, but some  local restaurants such as Charlie’s Place have strict ‘Bottomless Mimosa’ rules that customers must follow.

Our first step was to collect data on which bars and restaurants offered deals on Sunday for Bottomless Mimosas. Five local business downtown partake in this bubbly event: Libertine, Charlie’s Place, Blast 825 Taproom, SLO Brew and Mother’s Tavern. We called up the managers of each business to get more insight into why this trend is really happening, who this trend targets and how it effects their businesses.

Charlie’s Place, Jeffrey Bloom Photography 

Charlie’s Place was the first restaurant to bring Bottomless Mimosas to San Luis Obispo in 2012, and noticed an increase in revenue immediately. “We’ve always been busy on Sundays for breakfast, but once we added bottomless, people came in giant groups with their friends to celebrate the deals,” says Charlie’s Place Manager Cecilia Gonzalez. Charlie’s Place offers $12 bottomless mimosas from 10am to 2pm.

Libertine’s Sunday Bottomless Menu

Next, we checked out Libertine Brewery, a new restaurant and bar in downtown SLO. Libertine has also noticed a direct increase in business on Sundays due to Bottomless Mimosas. They offer Bottomless Mimosas and brunch for $22 every Sunday. “Students seem to really like Bottomless Sundays so they can drink with their friends for cheaper,” says Libertine’s bartender Eli Perrett.

 

 

SLO Brew has noticed the recent trend among students, and added Bottomless to their event schedule on Sundays as a result. “It’s definitely a new trend, and Sundays are packed because of it,” said SLO Brew bartender Erin Kleeman.         .

Blast offers $18 Bottomless Mimosas with a burrito or scramble with tater tots

Blast 825 Taproom wanted in on the bubbly action as well. “Bottomless Sundays are so fun, we get a lot of people through the doors!” said Blast Manager.

Mother’s Tavern was the second restaurant to partake in the event, and has lines out the door every Sunday morning. “It starts at 10 and ends at 2 and is crazy in between,” says Mother’s Tavern bar manager.

Generated responses using Instagram story poll

After posting on various social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, our team gathered data on the target audience of who really participates in Bottomless Sundays: students.  “Students are looking for cheap and fun deals they can afford, while they can have fun with their friends drinking,” says Samantha Siegal.

This project was really fun to work on because we were able to work as a team and research the impact on local businesses. Our communication was fantastic and it made it much easier to get everything done. Brian Robbins says, “I enjoyed working on the project because I always assumed bottomless was growing in SLO, but to hear the employees at the various restaurants talk about how crowded bottomless gets now and all the things that happen behind the scenes was very cool.”

 

Behind the scenes look at CBD research in SLO

This product is currently being sold at Lincoln Deli in San Luis Obispo.

CBD is starting to pop up all over SLO and not just at dispensaries. Is this because of recent laws passed or has this always been the case?

Our main focus for this first entry on CBD integration in SLO was simply identifying what exactly CBD is and how it is being sold in local stores.

The manager of The Neighborhood Juicer said “We have been selling CBD products since back in October. CBD distribution is entirely different than other dispensary legislation.”

Apparently Lassen’s and Whole Foods have both been selling CBD products for close to two years so this actually has nothing to do with new marijuana legislation.

CBD and THC also have entirely different medical benefits which is something we wanted to touch on in this piece as well. So often we see “weed” or “dispensaries” or “legislation” topics over-reported but we never dive deep enough to cover different products being sold.

Something our group struggled with the most was narrowing down our topic into a manageable angle. The topic itself has really not been covered at all on a local or global scale which is why I felt it was so necessary to cover it.

Interactive coordinator Daniel Dempster said “From a multimedia perspective, I could take this in so many different directions. My main concern is that if we don’t narrow down a tight angle, it’s going to be too much for reader consumption.”

CBD is just now starting to become more widely accessible which is why this is the perfect time to get talking about it.

So many people use it as a part of their daily life for so many different purposes including but not limited to mental health disorders, cancer, migraines, and epilepsy.

The reason our group was so excited to report on this topic in particular is because of how unfamiliar it is to the majority of the population.

When we took a random poll, we found that almost half of the people responding did not know what the difference between CBD and THC were. Many people thought that CBD makes a person feel “high” also known as the psychoactive effects that people get from marijuana usage.

These polls really helped us alter our angle from strictly CBD integration to also what it is and why it is being used more and more.

 

This IG story poll altered our angle. We quickly realized we needed to explain these differences to the general public early on.

In this first portion of our project we wanted to really explain these differences and provide some new information that the general public might not be aware of.

“It’s fun because this is all new to us too. I’m learning everyday too about how CBD can improve my own life.” ~Leah Qiu

For instance, Elena Wasserman has been afraid of using CBD products for her severe back pain due to the fact that she gets drug tested at work. “I purchased my first CBD product from

This anti-inflammatory shot was Wasserman’s first CBD purchase.

The Neighborhood’ the other day. I totally noticed a difference,” Wasserman said.

 

Moving forward we want to focus on drug testing in athletes as well as employees. CBD is not tested for in drug tests while THC is.

A third of responses to this poll believed that CBD products got a person “high.” This belief can often push potential patients away from usage.

Wasserman reached out to the county police department and got in contact with an officer that focuses entirely on drug use.

As a group we felt that just drug testing alone with regards to CBD would be a good angle. It is interesting that CBD is used for more  physical effects while THC is more psychoactive, but then CBD is not tested for in athletes while THC is.

On that same wavelength, why can CBD be sold at health stores but THC products cannot be? Also, why have products containing CBD been sold at stores long before legislation changes?

The rules and regulations behind CBD usage are very unclear. Moving forward, our group wants to provide answers to the questions that the general public has but can’t find the answers to.

This was one of many responses we received from sources regularly using CBD products.

Our main problem this week was determining which interviews and content to use because we have so much. We were able to get in contact with a chemist that spoke to the differences between THC and CBD. We also got in contact with an active user who battled cancer as well as an athlete that uses CBD for injuries.

 

On the other end of the spectrum we interviewed owners of local shops selling CBD products. We are looking forward to continuing our research in the coming two weeks as we have more sources and information than we know what to do with.

 

 

Time, Dresses and Parents: A Behind the Scenes Look at Project Four

I’d like to start off the post by saying that my group has definitely had the hardest time getting sources or stories to come through fruition this quarter.

We had originally wanted to do a story on the TimesUp movement at Cal Poly, focusing on the new group that had been formed as a result of the #metoo campaign through social media.  The group was hosting a town hall style seminar that focused on what the university was doing to address the problem of sexual assault on campus and we thought that would be a great event to cover as a supplement to the larger focus of the group.

Unfortunately the issue with that was the group is made up of many survivors of sexual assault and they didn’t want to expose, inadvertently or not, the identities of those people in the group to the press.  It is also a newer group that is still getting started and they didnt want to mis-speak about the group to any reporters at the time.  That was Wednesday morning I was told this, so we were forced to find a new topic.

So we pitched ideas the following day, Thursday to Brendan and Brady and settled on a local prom dress drive run by a Cal Poly student.  We decided this because it seemed like it would be easier to get b-roll and make interactive elements than some of the other ideas we were pitching.  In addition, we thought it was a good story on its own.  A college student gathering dresses from other college students and the community, and donating them to local high schools for their upcoming proms.

Unfortunately the issue with that was the girl never got back to Rachel.  She said she was extremely busy but would be willing to meet with us “in the future” but then never responded after that so over the weekend, when we would otherwise be shooting video and getting interviews, we were sitting around awaiting a time to meet up with her.

So on Sunday we decided to go with our third and final option kind of propagated by Brendan of doing a little bit of an expose piece on a prominent member of the CP SLO Mustang Parents Facebook page.  I was kind of worried for this assignment, and I didn’t have to worry about creating any tangible material from the topic.  It still was another week in this class where something happens and we have to adapt to another story, quickly.

Luckily, the next week we were able to petition him to give us an extension.  He told us we would just restart and now this Monday was the start of the project and the due date is Friday, finals week.

We have adapted quite well, I think, despite my reluctance to do any form of correspondence with potential sources due to my social awkwardness.  To my group members, I apologize.  We have scheduled as couple more sources from different backgrounds and associations with the FB page and who give our story a bit more meat than just a report on one person.

I think I have to point out that my role this week was pretty void.  I may have extreme senioritis, but by the time we had decided to switch topics, we already had a good idea of the people we should have been interviewing.  Additionally, a story about a facebook page, moreover, a specific person linked to that page, it seemed kind of weird to ask around how people thought or wanted to know more about on Traci.  I contacted some people, but the social media report seemed out of place for this story.

We got there in the end.  Besides some issues with premiere and getting the video together I think the crew has completed their tasks to the best of their ability.   I hope I wasn’t “that guy” in the group this project and I’m glad we were able to make lemonade from nothing.

Some quotes from my group members:

“Traci might very well be a saint and it was fun to hear others genuinely give such warm praises about her.” -Divya Thirunagari

“We tried.” -Rachel Foote

“I hate technology.” -Shelby Dewberry

“Yes!! Yes!! Yes!! Yes!! I will climb to the tallest roof and scream her praises!” -Julie Farotte Irwin on Traci Libby

 

Behind the Cheese: A look into the Cal Poly Creamery

Well it’s about time I get to blog about what it’s really like to be a reporter. For the millions of people that look at journalism as a simple task- you’re wrong. This work is hard, innovative, and creative. What makes it so hard is the fact that PEOPLE HATE TALKING. I mean, it can go either way, people can either really hate talking or they just can’t shut up. But for those of you who freeze up at the sight of my camera and take at least five seconds to respond in fear of what I might do with your words, RELAX. People are the reason why we all want to work in journalism so we don’t want to scare anyone. They are the ones who hold the stories and we just want to be able to tell those stories. I have been lucky enough to be in an amazing group for senior project and couldn’t imagine this quarter going any better in our mission to tell four awesome stories. As if being in this group couldn’t be better our final project was covering my personal addiction, CHEESE.

It all started at pitches a week and a half ago when we absolutely had no idea what story to tell next. Ali, Tori, Riley and I started bouncing ideas off one another. What hasn’t been covered? What cool thing is happening on campus? (This is super broad cause there are a lot). What if we do something about the animal units? I immediately pointed out that the animal units have probably been overdone so I then posed the question of what specifically is unique and not well known out near the units. The answer, of course, was cheese. Knowing the reporter who just covered Cal Poly Chocolates we figured Cal Poly cheese deserved the same coverage and that’s how we got started. Getting in contact with anyone who works in agriculture is not the easiest thing. After many emails to multiple people that work at the Dairy Innovation Institution (where the Cal Poly creamery is located), we had to show up in order to schedule interviews. On the day of interviews we showed up and were given a tour of the whole facility. I was having a hard time thinking of anything else besides the fact that I wanted to eat the cheese! Addiction is hard. The innovation institution is crazy. We all had so much to accomplish and so many cool things to figure out.

Ali was working on her video and decided that she would focus on cheddar and how it’s made. In one of the rooms there was two bats full of cheese, one was orange and the other was white. This room was considered the “storage room”. For interactive, Riley wanted to make a map that would show all the locations that Cal Poly cheese is used and sold. For example, I never knew Cowgirl Cafe used our cheese! She also was getting footage of the cheeses and ingredients because she will be making a step-by-step of how it’s made and what is used to make it. Tori is writing our story and will be doing a background of the history of the innovation institute and where they are at right now in terms of progress.

The first woman we were able to interview was Baheeja Zaitoun, a research associate for the institution. She told us about cheese processes and walked us through the storage room where we got to see the buckets of cheeses. In the storage room the cheeses are separating from water so we were told to return in a few hours to see the result. I was that much closer to actual cheese, very exciting. When we returned later we met with the operations manager, Jennifer Pelayo. This included the best moment of my life in which we were shown the leftovers. The leftovers are the cheeses that aren’t presentable enough to be sold so we were able to sample them! Another interesting thing was the packaging portion of the cheese. After the cheese is wrapped it is then placed in hot water so it shrinks to fit the cheese perfectly- very cool. Also I forgot to mention that the entire time we had to be in a special outfit in order to tour the facility. Check out these lovely ladies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So going back to the whole journalism isn’t so simple thing. Although it may seem so, a lot goes into storytelling as you can see from our experience with Cal Poly cheese. What I can say is that this field of study is so fascinating because we get the job of learning so many things and then telling people about them. No story is ever boring and the fact that we got an inside look at such an awesome product really proves how important journalism is.

I’ll leave you with some of our own thoughts throughout this process:

“It was so cool to see the whole cheese making process happening right on cal poly’s campus. Cal poly has so much to offer that I feel like so many people don’t know about.” -Ali Heston

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to shed some light on a facility that many people at cal poly don’t know about.” -Riley Rhodes

“I loved seeing an area that isn’t widely accessible to the rest of campus. It’s cool to be able to share unique opportunities we have on campus that other students might not have ever known about.” -Tori Leets

 

Sustainable fisheries Behind the Story

It was the end of the line for the team. In fact, one might call them the dream team. Every project they’ve tackled had turned out relatively well, and everyone was pretty close with each other. They knew each other’s strengths, their weaknesses, stresses…it was a perfect recipe to crank out one more fantastic story.

But there was a problem. The team had no idea where to start.

“We just started clicking on random shit,” recalled Taylor Mohrhardt.

And she wasn’t wrong. After three great stories, the team felt drained. Tapped out. As if they had exhausted all of their sources, and were coming up empty. After coming up with one or two stories deemed a conflict of interest, the team started searching high and low for any sort of lead. Matthew scoured the Cal Poly club directory, looking for something interesting. Band, Hip hop, and Hawaiian culture all came up as possibilities, but alas, everything was turned down.

In a sheer stroke of brilliance, though, Alice (once again) came up with pure gold: sustainable regional fisheries research. And if I recall, this came out of a discussion of who the hottest professor at Cal Poly was with the rest of the class.

“He’s so cute!” was a common attribute given to this professor. That professors’ name was Grant Waltz, who was to become the first source. But during the team’s first interview with him, there was another problem. This was clearly a topic bigger than just one research center at Cal Poly. To add to that, Waltz said that no boats were going out to fish until April.

“I’m worried about the visual component,” Kayla said. “There just doesn’t seem to be much there”

And right she was. There really wasn’t going to be a big visual focus. As the days went by, the team started to get a little panicked. But then out of nowhere, Alice managed to score source after source, and the story really started to come together. In fact, we discovered that a lot of the research Cal Poly was doing was going towards NOAA, to come up with fisheries regulations and rules.  It also helped that she was genuinely having fun with this.

“This is a ton of work, and I’m running all over the place, but I’m also really excited! It’s a super cool story, and not a lot is written about research people do here”

From local fishermen to game wardens, Alice was on it. Calling people left and right, making treks every which way on and off campus…it was incredible.

One of her sources was a fisherman in Morro bay who had been commercially fishing for 47 years. And he agreed with the more specific, less wide-reaching regulations.

“It’s far reaching, there’s no doubt about it. Especially rockfish should be managed regionally, there’s no doubt about it”, said Mark Tognazzini.

It didn’t look like the group would get their story in on time, because the scope of this thing ended up being far bigger than anything they could have imagined. It went from being just about the Cal Poly research, to a larger story about the state of regional fisheries as a whole. And with the help of Taylor handling the video, this thing really started to take shape.

But if it weren’t for the stunningly thorough and hard work of Alice and Taylor, this story would not have been nearly what it is. They took a tough topic, tackled it head on, and produced something to be immensely proud of. Just like another source, Benjamin Ruttenberg put it: “It’s not all doom and gloom”.