Plagiarism is real

The press and people created a lot of hoopla over Melania Trump’s “reuse” of Michelle Obama’s speech eight years ago.

And rightly they should.

It was pretty obvious the speech was copied, whether it was accidental or not doesn’t matter. I guess we’re now in a period where only intent matters. “I didn’t mean to do it,” sounds like something a 10-year-old says. It’s not an excuse for adults and certainly not for speech writers.

I see plagiarism in my class almost every semester. Some of it is by accident, but I don’t find that’s an excuse. In the beginning of my writing courses, I outline this problem of attribution in a class and in a written memo to the class and I have them read Jimmy’s World to show what making up information can do to your journalism career. And yet, students each semester still make up information and steal stuff off the internet without attribution.

It’s ingrained in our society that everything on the Internet is for the taking. It’s free and clear and there for us to use, whether it is for a project in class or for watching or listening to.  I guess that idea has caught up to professionals in political campaigns too.

But it’s not free. People worked hard to write those words you use, to get that information you need, to take the picture you like, to make the music you want to listen to or to act in the shows you are watching. They should get credit for that work.

Plagiarism is wrong, regardless of who does it. It should be nipped in the bud immediately. If anything Melania Trump gave me a lesson to help explain plagiarism to my students next semester.


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Big, bad news media

With this Presidential election, the mistrust of the news media has reached an all-time high. This saddens me, because most people’s idea of what is news is so wrong these days.

Gone are the days of the 6:30 nightly news and the morning and afternoon newspapers. They’ve been replaced by social media, where a majority of people get their news, according to the Pew Research Center.

To be a good consumer of the news, you have to check to make sure your news source has done its job. Is the information on social media from legitimate news sites that do reporting, use sources and check their facts? Or is it from a site that promotes a certain point of view? Or even worse, did that news site steal someone else’s stories?

So when people say they hate the news media and are talking about getting rid of the first amendment rights for media, which media are they opposed to? Do they really want to get rid of the Fourth Estate as journalism was branded many years ago? The idea is that the media is the fourth part of our government, independent to keep an eye on the other three parts. Journalism is more important now than ever to keep track of what the government is doing. A good story will always be a good story, especially when it is about how the government spends its money.

Part of this is the media’s fault. Some of the networks (both cable and traditional) have blurred the lines between news and commentary on TV shows. Even the commentators on TV and radio don’t distinguish when referring to traditional media stories, by not specifying whether the story ran on the editorial pages or the front pages. There is a difference.

When you say journalism on TV and radio is biased, are you referring to  Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow ? They are not journalists. They are commentators.

Real journalists check their facts, cover all sides of the story, provide sources for the information they gather and will chomp at the bit at a good story, regardless which side of the political aisle might be impacted by it.

Some journalists are lazy and only cover the easy stories. But the ones I know are working hard to provide you with objective news. Maybe the public should look a little harder for those stories and news sources  — instead of just finding news on social media — before calling all of the media bad names.

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Busy, busy life and I wouldn’t have it any other way…

I just realized I haven’t posted since last year. That’s a long time. I’ve been busy…

That’s such a lame excuse that we all use, because somehow we still have time to play video games, watch those few shows on TV that we’ve followed for years and read books. We always have to have time to read books.

But in my case, I have a pretty full load. With one son a senior in high school, we are running to all of his lasts ..  band competitions, concerts, bowling matches. And after that, it will be tennis and before you know it, it will be time for banquets and graduation and all that fun stuff.

And in Alex’s case, the question of college is still up in the air. We still have more colleges to visit and we hope we get to take him to some more scholarship interviews.

Work has been busy. I’m working on developing a new class that focuses on helping students with the job or internship search. I’m prepping for a workshop I’ll present at a national conference in New York in March. I also still teach water aerobics at the YMCA.

I also carve out some time each week for mom. I generally visit her twice a week and take care of her groceries and bills.

So blogging and writing are falling to the wayside. But it’s important to reflect on all you have once in a while. I have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, I’m busy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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Keeping my eye on the prize

On Dec. 16, I underwent a left knee replacement. People tried to prepare me for it, but even with everyone’s best intentions — I could never have imagined what the last five weeks have been like. It’s been good and bad, ugly and beautiful, painful and uplifting.

I’ve known this surgery was coming for a year or more now and I scheduled it very carefully between the fall semester and spring semester so I wouldn’t miss work. I knew it would affect my holiday season, but I figured the payoff would be worth it.  I bought all Christmas presents before, I got a stack of books to read and projects to work on, and I cleaned up my house from clutter so I wouldn’t fall over it. I got all the aids to help me bathe, go to the bathroom and get around.

But I wasn’t prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride I was going on.

Some notes about my recovery:

* The hospital stay was even worse than I feared. I had to wait six hours for a room after surgery and got stuck in the cardiac cath lab recovery room where they had no bathrooms and I had to pee in a bed pan — humiliating.  The nurse never realized my ice machine didn’t work and I had no ice on my knee the first four hours after surgery. After I got into a room that night, it got a little better. I couldn’t wait to go home after two days.

* Home felt great after that. The boys and Tom fussed over me and took great care of me. But to be honest, the next few days are a blur. Just going through the motions in a fog left over from anesthesia. The only thing I remember is desperately trying to find a way to get comfortable. The recliner I had hoped to use broke a leg one of the first time I sat in it,  Another chair was too low, so Tom bought risers to make it sit higher. After a day or so, one of the plastic risers broke, sending me to the floor. Thankfully, I didn’t hurt my knee again, but it was a challenge to get me up from that floor. I finally convinced Tom to buy me a new recliner, which has been my safe haven since.

*Therapy has been as expected — tough and painful at times — but rewarding as I regained more strength and movement. I really pushed myself and it has paid off so far.

* I didn’t get to read that stack of books. I have read two books in the last six weeks. I have been working one for two weeks now. Normally, I can read a book a day with ease. But I just can’t concentrate — anesthesia fog and pain pills? A project I promised a colleague I would read was a struggle and finally I had to give up. Then once Jan. 2 hit, I dove into my online photography class that I would teach from home in three weeks, which took up all my non-nap time.

* Christmas was kind of a blur too. The highlights were the visit from my mom (who Tom and Brett picked up and brought to our house) and the dinner at Mary’s house. My mother missed me desperately and really was so worried about me until she saw me.  She called me almost every day and got upset when she couldn’t find my number. Even now I’ve gone to see her a few times, she clings to me and almost doesn’t want to let me go.

* I discovered the world out there sucks for disabled people. I used a walker the first four weeks and you won’t believe how hard it is to open doors and get in some places. Those great grocery riding carts for the disabled and elderly are terrible for people who had knee replacements because you can’t stretch out your leg on them.  And there are not enough handicapped parking spaces at most restaurants.

*But most of all, I’ll remember all the blessings. Friends who came to see me, one even came to cut my hair at my house! Cards and phone calls were nice the first few weeks as well. My friend Dan was my cheerleader as he had the same surgery three weeks before me. He called to check on me and encourage me to do the PT. Others who had the surgery in the past also wrote notes of encouragement and that meant a lot.

*I’ve been keeping my eye on the prize. That’s been my phrase in the past when things were tough. My prize this year is a Caribbean cruise the family is planning to go on in June. My goal is to walk pain-free on the beaches of St. Maarten, to walk steps up to the pool on the top deck of the ship and to enjoy time with family without getting left behind.

This surgery has taught me a lot. I can do whatever I set my mind to, I have lots of friends that care about me and I’m lucky to have such a great husband and two sons. And it reminded me and will continue to remind me to keep my eye on the prize.

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A new path at Miami

10303872_10152300430428519_4656791019493953113_n-1As I prepare for the new school year at Miami, I also start on a new path. Instead of gearing up the machine for a new year of publishing The Miami Student (starting with the new student issue next week), I am going through CMS training to work on the MJF department website.

I’m sad to leave the students of The Miami Student behind. We’ve been through ups and downs together. I got to relive some of my college years as a student journalist from the other side of the equation. We won a few awards and I got to see some amazing people grow from scared young writers to confident editors.

But opportunities present itself. After receiving my master’s degree in technical and scientific communication in 2013, I wanted to use those tech writing skills to use as well as my journalistic skills. Starting this fall, I will be the “communications writer” for the department of Media, Journalism & Film. The title is a little hokey, but basically I’m in charge of the communications — the website, social media and alumni newsletter. I will get to use some of the skills I learned in grad school. Along with that came full-time status, a raise and no time to advise The Miami Student.

I will continue to teach journalism courses. This fall, I teach two sections of “Advanced Storytelling.” I will also continue to be adviser of the Recensio, Miami’s yearbook. And part of my new job is to work with student interns who will write for the websites and newsletters.  It’s a bittersweet change, but  I’m hoping it’s a good change.

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Photo stories

For the first Miami winter term or J-term, I’m teaching a news photography class.  Below, see a photo story on my mom’s assisted living facility, Colonial Gardens in Florence, Ky.


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Check out my youtube channel

As I have started doing more video pieces, I’ve created my own youtube channel. Here is the link.

Check out my latest piece: a preview of the La Salle Bowling team’s GCL quad matches.

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