How has increased enrollment really affected students? Part 2

Cali was on to something when she wrote in her blog two weeks ago, “A story like this needs more than a day or two. Heck, it needs more than a week or two.” This project was extended two more weeks. Because this project got extended, my group and I all had to tackle on an additional role for the story (audio/visual, word, etc.), but in reality, it felt like we all are doing everything together.

“This story has so much more depth to it than I think any of us initially realized,” said Cali. I’m really glad we were able to extend this into Project 2 because I think it is was able to get the proper coverage it deserved.” 

This mystery of over enrollment still exists. There are stories published about Cal Poly having too many students,  Cal Poly “packing in students”, and more data on the 2017 class of freshman.

The most difficult part due to this extension was how to divide up the “word” aka written portion. There is so much that can be said, but how will this be organized? After some discussion, it was decided that Mady was going to write one story and Bryce will follow up with her story the following week. This helped both Mady and Bryce pinpoint what they want to say.


“Our story evolved into a smaller scope than what we originally started with, which was challenging, but it helped make our focus more concise. This also made it easier to refine my direction in the word portion of this story.”-Mady Minas

The biggest reason why we needed this project extended was because we needed more interviews. Maraviglia provided us with a lot of useful information, but we needed more perspectives. So, we went on an interview spree. We interviewed Jefferey Dumars, Space and Facilities Utilization Manager, and Juanita Holler, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Development.

Dumars led us to a giant CSU database that has a lot of information that we will be using in our story. Fortunately for us, all of this information is not a secret and is in the public domain.

“Every CSU campus has undergone, and we’re just finishing ours if it’s not done, a study of each building, what condition it is, it’s a condition assessment.  We have that data, and so that will roll into plans to renovate buildings and is part of the capital outlay program.” Jeffrey Dumars 

We also had listed questions directly for admin and are waiting for a response.

We interviewed Christy McNeil Chand, a tenure track Theater & Dance Department professor. She told us that her office space was subpar (to say the least) when she came to Cal Poly in 2012.

 “When I was first arriving, back in summer of 2012, the office space I was assigned was the part-time office space next to the dance studio, which I found a live black widow, multiple cockroaches, it’s not really well insulated. It’s very cold or hot most of the time… I’ve seen mold in there…there were windows, but it faces the building next to it, so it let in a little bit of light. But I don’t even think I was able to open them, to be perfectly honest, because there was caging around them.” said Chand.

Some professors and faculty did not want to speak with us or said that they could only provide us with limited information, which was disappointing but expected.

“I feel like we made some breakthroughs in the past two weeks for this story, like finding that spreadsheet and talking to some passionate professors. It made me feel like a real journalist which is a really cool feeling.” – Bryce Aston

My group and I have made significant strides on this story and are looking to get this story published within the next few weeks.

What’s with this Fortnite craze?

After a tough time trying to figure out what to do for our second project we finally settled on the idea of doing a story about the Fortnite craze that is sweeping the nation.

Our collective knowledge on the topic was minimal. “I didn’t understand the hype surrounding Fortnite until I learned more about it for this project.” Candice Kelchner said.

“I knew the game was popular but I didn’t realize the extent to just how popular it is.”

Kelchner was in charge of the word portion of her story so she had to really delve in to understand the game and the hype surrounding it. Even though it was unfamiliar territory, she still enjoyed the learning process.

“Writing the article portion of this project was fun as it introduced me to a world that I am not very familiar with.” Kelchner said.

Alejandra Garcia was in charge of the audio and video aspect of things. I think that a very unique part of this project is that it is very visually oriented so the video portion was very important to this project.

Garcia found the story to be challenging, mostly because it doesn’t involve typical video elements and pushed the boundaries quite a bit. “This story ended up being a little more difficult to put together than I thought it would be. However, it helped to have sources who were passionate and dedicated to the game.” Garcia said. ” I could capture their excitement and competitiveness through their words and watching them play Fortnite.”

From what I observed of her interviews, the guys she interviewed have almost like a club. They get together and compete for hours on end. Their living room is set up to cater to the game.

The multimedia aspect was explored by Jessica Frantzides. This portion was quite interesting because it explored a bit more into the way Fortnite has influenced pop culture.

Fortnite has some preprogrammed dances that the characters do to gloat or as celebrations. These dances originate from existing dance moves in pop culture and have take social media by storm.

This is an example of what inspired the multimedia portion of our project:

“Doing the man on the street to collect video clips of people mimicking the emotes from Fortnite was so fun.” Frantzides said. “Getting to interact with people and laughs with them as they react to our request for them to dance was the best part.”

As the person in charge of strategy and engagement I found it interesting that when I polled people on Instagram asking if they play Fortnite that only 30 percent of people actively play. What was even more interesting is that of that 30 percent, over 80 percent were Cal Poly students. I know my follower demographic is a bit skewed but I think that I have a pretty decent mix of followers.

We had a lot of great and willing sources, especially from the eSports club on campus.

“I think Fortnite did really well engaging on Twitter, because that’s where they have gotten most of their inspiration for most of their emotes. Just from people submitting clips… Just recently they had Snoop Dogs emote on there.” Ryan Blair, Cal Poly eSports president said. “It really engages their audience.”

All in all this project was a fantastic learning experience for all of us. More than that it provided us with insight into a new community that exists here at Cal Poly.

SLO Tiny Homes Solution

This tiny house could be the solution to SLO’s big housing problem

Tiny Home Of SLO Blog Post

By Joey De Anda

San Luis Obispo is a beautiful coastal town located on the 101 fwy in the heart of California’s Central Coast. The town boasts beautiful scenery and no shortage of amazing outdoor activities. The great school system and safe neighborhoods make San Luis Obispo an ideal place to raise a family… that is if you can afford it. The central coast also has one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country where the median home price is nearly half a million dollars.

Social Media Posts for the SLO Tiny Hopes solution

Some people are looking to change the fact that only a few can afford to live and stay in a community they have grown to love. The idea of building a tiny home community is the possible solution to a problem that is plaguing the area where homes are hard to come by. While tiny homes are not traditional dwellings that have the standard amenities but they give people the opportunity to have ownership over property that they can call their own.

The local non-profit Hopes Village of SLO is one of those groups trying to make a change. The organizers say they are attempting to find a piece of land that is approximately five acres in size that could be the site of the future tiny home village. The organizers are looking for the funding for such a venture and hope to end the homeless problem in San Luis Obispo with such a project. The concept would not be like a traditional mobile home park because tiny homes have a character and feel all of their own.

A social media survey we completed about the idea of a tiny home solution to the big problem of homelessness in SLO did not have the feedback that was expected. Most people really don’t see the tiny homes as a solution to the homeless problem and a facebook forum really confirmed that as there are deeper seated issues like lack of healthcare and mental health care for those who are struggling. In addition the comments were made that the ability to get people back on their feet was the most important.

What was valuable was the fact that we were able to find someone who owns a tiny home and get a tour while talking with her about the life adjustments she has made in making the transition all while having a great experience and how she recommends it.



 “The project was at times difficult to link in all of the different dynamics but we worked well together as a group and all pulled our weight making it to the different events”-Joey De Anda

“I think our topic ended up working very well for us. I think us going together for most interviews definitely helped us succeed. We found good sources and I think we have a great story about tiny homes in SLO” – Courtney Lucas

“This is a great project and video, we were able to show what it is like to live in a tiny home and the impact that it could make.” – Warren Fox

“It was fun to be able to see really different ways people live. Julie’s place might be small, but you can’t beat her view” – Danika Shultz


Behind the Scenes Blog: San Luis Obispo’s Hidden Chinatown

Walking into class on monday was a little nerve wrecking. We had just finished up our last project on augmented reality and I had personally hit a lot of roadblocks finishing up the main components for that story. Kenny Campbell, Bailey Ellis, Eric Wagner and I all sat in a circle trying to figure out what the best story could be for the next two week.

We first figured we could do a story on alternatives to getting drunk in San Luis Obispo, but then we realized after a few days that we really don’t have a story there. All of the alternatives are pretty well known between the students and the “so what?” component of the story just wasn’t there. At this point it was wednesday, and we really needed to start on our projects in order to meet the deadline.

We then came across the idea of San Luis Obispo’s long lost Chinatown and the remains of it tucked near downtown San Luis Obispo. We decided to change our topic and go in depth with the history of what the remanence of today’s Chinatown  used to be and how it became what it is now.

The Chinatown that we were about to do an extensive story on was all new information to us. No one on our team knew that Chinatown even existed. So we really had to start from ground zero to start this story. As the public relations person, I started to do my outreach and I also noticed that a lot of people of the community didn’t know there was a Chinatown in San Luis Obispo either. We all then noticed how crucial the story telling and information gathering of this story would be.

Now that we knew how much knowledge the community has on this topic and we had gathered a few sources, we all set out to uncover and tell the story. We interviewed Ethnic Studies professor Grace Yen, set out to find the last remaining elements of Chinatown and went to the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art to get some answers.

“Reporting on this story has helped me as a journalist by making me realize how important having good sources are to stories and how many different types of video can be used to tell a story.” Campbell said.

As we started to uncover the bits and pieces of what used to be Chinatown, we all realized what importance this story holds, not only to San Luis Obispo but to the Chinese community that essentially built this city from the railroads to the Chinese exclusion act. “I think this topic is important and relevant to the community of SLO because many people do not know how this community came to be and the Chinese immigrants helped build our community.” said Ellis.

Professor Yen, who was very informed in the topic told us how San Luis Obispo’s Chinatown came about and Ah Louis was an important part of the Chinese community. Ah Louis’s store, which is now owned by a different family, is open and running today. We walked through the street and took pictures of the remanence of what used to be a big, vibrant Chinatown.

“It was great to interview someone that was so passionate about the history of their town… after covering this story I’ve gained a deeper understanding of San Luis Obispo and the pioneers that built it.” Wagner said.

“As a journalist, it’s these stories that make me enjoy what I’m doing.” Wagner also added.

As we wrapped up our small journey through the hidden left jewels of the historic Chinese community, we all gained a new and profound respect for San Luis Obispo’s rich and once diverse community.  As we came to the end of the project and send all of our work in for publishment, we realized how valuable the work of being a journalist is.


Shining Light on Feelings After the Blackface Incident

Now what? A student covered his face in black paint, also known as blackface, at a school that  only has 166 students according to Cal Poly’s latest enrollment numbers.  We’re all studying at a ‘learn by doing’ school that seems to be doing nothing about their diversity problem. What seems to be the worst problem is that we’re now known nationally as the school where a student did blackface, but what’s even worse is that it’s referred to as our “latest racist dust-up,” by news outlets. How has this incident affected Cal Poly’s reputation? That’s what my group and I looked to find out.

We were all very passionate about this topic from the start, and knew how hard it would be to get sources. At least we thought we knew. From the second we decided on this topic my team and I started contacting everyone we possibly could so we could have every voice possible in our story. Only problem is not everyone wanted to talk. Matt Lazier in Lazier fashion dodged us as much as possible until finally giving a general cookie cutter statement on behalf of the school. That was no surprise. What was surprising was that people really thought they had said enough up to this point, or maybe, thought they would say too much and that’s why they all declined to comment. Black Student Union, College Republicans, ASI President, the list goes on and on for the people who didn’t want their voices heard. For a school that is looking for change, one would think more people would speak up.

Thankfully, the people who did speak up had a lot to say. There was good contrast among our sources. Some were livid, some sad and ashamed, and some thought this was the perfect point for change. To comment on what your school has done and where it is going next is not an easy task. Our sources did unanimously feel one thing together, that there needed to be change. Cal Poly’s reputation had been affected and if we wanted to stop something like this from happening again then we needed to do more. As cheesy as it sounds, what I mentioned earlier rings true. Our “learn by doing” school is not doing enough when it comes to their diversity problem. One of our sources, Mekai Sheffie, talked about how stuff like this has happened before. Colonial bros and nava-hoes, to the freedom of speech wall, all these racially insensitive events and actions that were only met with an open forum. Mustang News even wrote an article showing a timeline of the repeat offenses Cal Poly has had.

Our story is not only to reflect on what this most recent event had done to our campus and reputation, but to give a platform to the voices that seek change. As of now the campus is divided, and for us to unite once again we need to keep things like this in the light, not the dark, and look for solutions, not cover-ups.

Behind the Story: Rent Prices in SLO Lead to Creative Living Situations

We started by brainstorming topics that affect everyone in SLO, and decided to investigate how the increased student population affects housing availability here. It seemed like a simple enough topic. What we didn’t expect was how many layers we would find in the process of uncovering the problem.

The first hurdle we faced was narrowing the subject to focus on a specific angle, and ended up reworking our story a few times. What came out of this process was a story about unique living situations this problem of expensive rent in SLO has created.

We found students who have either crammed themselves into tiny houses to stay near school or have moved farther away the avoid the sky high prices of rent. In one case, a student was forced to commute two hours to get to class.

“I couldn’t afford to live anywhere else,” Allie Gutwein said. “Are you kidding me? I already work 15 hours a week on top of taking 21 to 22 units. Even with that, I can’t afford it.”

Cal Poly student Allie Gutwein

Click here to view photos of Allie’s unique living situation in the hills east of Cayucos.

Although we were able to find sources who shared their stories, some people were hesitant to tell us anything that might shed a negative light on them. Kassidy Clark, who was in charge of writing the story, found it difficult to get this sensitive information from the student sources.

“I think overall we told the story we wanted to tell. I found it hard to find people of low income, because people are embarrassed talking about it and don’t want people to view them as a low-income student,” Clark said.

Click here to read Kassidy’s story about the housing problem in SLO.

Ethan Roman, who was in charge of video for our project, struggled to get information from non-student sources.

“I found the most difficult part of making my contribution to the project was finding sources that wanted to be quoted on the issue of housing in SLO,” Roman said. “City employees and property developers alike were both hesitant to give up their true opinions in fear of it being used against them in future court cases that will inevitably happen.”

Because it was difficult to gather all the information from our sources, we were limited on visual content and smaller factual details. Julia Glick, who was in charge of the interactive aspects of our project, found herself constricted on what she could include in the final project.

photo courtesy of Julia Glick

“Overall we pulled our project together well, but we quickly realized that the story didn’t allow for as much visual data as we would have liked,” Glick said. “Construction dates were not confirmed and we couldn’t publish any specifics as to when these projects would be completed by. In the end, we did our very best with the visuals we ended up with, and I’m happy with the final product!”

The biggest take away from this project was to choose our topic more carefully next time. We are all happy with the way the first project turned out, but our future topics will definitely be things we are all interested in.

If you are interested in applying for affordable housing, click here.


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.