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The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

Student-loan reform tagged on health bill

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

Since President Obama signed the health care act into law on March 30, people have been expressing their opinions about the changes that are soon to take place.
Although the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 has been headlining the media, it seems the health care debate overshadows the student-loan reform, which now makes the federal government the primary distributor of student loans, according to an article on ABC News’ Web site.
Starting July 1, all new federal student loans will be delivered and collected by private companies, which are under performance-based contracts with the Department of Education.
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act is a student-lending program that will now replace the current program that subsidizes banks and other financial institutions for issuing loans, according to news reports. Instead, students will now be borrowing all loans directly from the federal government with interest rates that will be controlled and mandated by the government. Those rates change every year and are determined through voting.
“Basically, this cuts out the middle man,” said Vincent Tunstall, FDU’s director of financial aid.
Instead of having banks borrow money from the government to issue loans, the government will lend the funds directly.
For students, Tunstall added, there will be very little change. Students who have federal loans will simply have to re-sign their promissory note, which they can do electronically on FDU’s financial aid Web site starting May 15.
Simply put, the promissory note is a student’s contract and promise that he or she will repay the loan under the terms detailed within it, according to the Department of Education’s Web site.
“When students go to the Web site, there will be a box on the page that is hard to miss,” Tunstall said. “It will redirect them to the Department of Education Web site where they can sign the promissory note.”
The only change is that students, both graduate and undergraduate, who originally would only have to sign the note once when they first took out the loan, will have to re-sign it under the new law.
The interest rates for the federal loans will not change from what students previously had.
Tunstall also said that FDU hopes students sign the promissory note anytime after May 15, but before they return to school so their loans are ready for next semester.
The major revamping of federal student loan programs will eliminate fees paid to private banks to act as intermediaries, according a New York Times article.
Instead, the government will expand a direct lending program, and allow changes that are meant to revitalize community colleges and increase support for institutions that serve minorities and historically black colleges, according to ABC News.
The law will also put a cap on the loan payments for graduates, who have six months after their graduation date to begin repayment. The annual loan payments will not exceed 10 percent of their annual income.
The law also hopes to increase the number of Pell Grants, which provide need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post baccalaureate students, according to the U.S. Department of Education Web site.
Grant amounts are determined by students’ Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms.
“Ninety percent of our students get grants and loans. Our financial aid budget ends up being about $56 million a year,” Tunstall said. “The average grant/scholarship for a student is about $15,000.”
The law will not affect the private loans for students who have exhausted all federal loan options and still need to take out private loans with banks. Those loans, which are generally meant to cover the gap of what the federal loans issue and a student’s cost of attendance, will still be credit-based loans and deal directly with the bank that issues the loan.
Private banks, however, lobbied against the student loan changes, which eliminate a long-flowing source of revenue for them, according to a New York Times article.
Although the government will now lend the funds directly, eliminating the need for student loan lenders such as Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student loan distributor, the government will still use the companies to service the loans.
According to the New York Times article, the Congressional Budget Office said that by eliminating the middle man, the government will save taxpayers $61 billion over ten years.

From The Metro editor’s desk

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

By the time I send The Metro’s second to last issue of the semester out to the printer, there will be 37 days left until graduation.
It’s hard to believe that the past four years have gone by so fast and my college experience will soon come to an end.
Looking back, I wonder if I accomplished all the goals I set for myself when I first entered college. Did I make the most of it? Should I have chosen a different major? Would I have done something different? Could I have had a better experience?
Shoulda, woulda, coulda…
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you can’t drone about the past and what you “shoulda, woulda, coulda” done instead. Regardless of the mistakes and failures I faced (and trust me there were plenty), those experiences were just as important, if not more important, than the successes I have also had.
Not only do the failures and mishaps make you stronger as an individual, they prepare you for the future. I have found that it’s inevitable for people to have regrets or to think, “I wish I did that instead,” but it is important for people to understand those experiences make them who they are today.
I recently held a program where five men from the Market Street Mission’s “Rehab and Recovery” program shared their life stories and how they got to where they are today.
Starting from when they were even too young to drive, these men battled addictions that eventually led them to a meaningless life filled with drugs and alcohol. They bravely shared their testimonies and how they felt lost and hopeless when all they looked forward to was feeding their addiction for the day.
One of the men shared that his addiction led him to a life a crime that in return sent him to prison from age 29 to 41. “Not a single day of my 30s was spent as a free man,” he said.
Even though he spent over a decade in the confines of prison, those experiences made him who he is today. For him, and the other four men, their life of crime and drug addiction was a part of the journey that led them to their now successful lives.
Should he have made better decisions? Maybe. Would those better decisions have changed his life? Probably. Could he be the strong, independent person he is today without them? No.
Everyone has regrets or wishes they made better decisions, but regret, I think, is a useless emotion. I always say that “I wish I knew what I know now when I was younger,” but that also is a useless wish.
Life and time will move forward, whether you want it to or not, and people simply need to embrace the past and learn from their mistakes. Had the Market Street Mission men given up during their all-time low, they would have never experienced a life of love and happiness.
So, should I have done more with my college experience? Would it have been better? Could it have made a difference? These are questions I’m done asking. I realized that it truly does not matter, nor should it. My regrets, failures and successes alike have made me who I am today.
As I walk through my life journey, I believe it is important to keep looking ahead because the moment I look behind me is the moment I’ll trip and lose sight of what’s to come.

FDU volunteers venture to Arizona and Louisiana

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

For FDU’s Alternative Spring Break teams, the opportunity to travel was just a small bonus to the work they were doing in Arizona and Louisiana.
“In college they say you experience the world and differences of life, but sadly not until Arizona have I experienced that difference,” said Anassa Tulloch. “Arizona revived a dormant emotion that was covered by exhaustion and worry about my direction.”
Sponsored by the Student Government Association, the Alternative Spring Break trips gave students opportunities to help and improve the communities of their respective destinations.
Kristen Lettenberger and Troy McClellan were in charge of planning and organizing a trip to New Orleans for 15 students. They traveled there to help rebuild the city, which still suffers from Hurricane Katrina, according to McClellan. Lettenberger and McClellan wanted to offer these students the same opportunity and experience that they had the year before.
This year “Team NOLA” set out to work at a charter school in the 7th Ward of New Orleans with the Relief Spark organization, McClellan said. The mission was school beautification, while working with the children at the school as well. The team also worked on a garden for the students and repainted interior walls throughout the school. Along with the physical labor, some students decided to help in the classrooms and tutor children.
The other destination for SGA’s Alternative Spring Break was Tuba City, Ariz., where students volunteered their time with the Navajo Reservation. There, they had the opportunity to participate in programs under the Amizade organization and worked with children from the local Boys and Girls Club.
For many students involved, the trips were unforgettable.
“This trip not only created a better understanding and relationship among the students with the people of the Navajo Nation, but also each other and ultimately with themselves,” said Ryan Elwood, one of the 22 students who volunteered in Arizona.

Theater course sends students abroad

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

FDU, which prides itself as being a leader in global education, offers many courses that allow students the opportunity to study abroad for short periods of time.
FDU has sent students abroad to Spain, Peru and Costa Rica, to name a few.
This Spring Break, ten students, led by Professor Stephen Hollis, had a unique opportunity to travel to London and study theater.
“The London Theater Experience” is a three-credit course offered to all students and all majors, according to Hollis, who is from London. Before traveling to London, students studied two plays that they then got to see performed live.
“Thanks to Stephen’s vast knowledge of London’s theatrics, we were able to experience a great deal more of personal contact than we would have with someone less aware,” said senior Alex Pepperman, who is in the course.
In London, the students saw seven live plays, including “Waiting for Godot,” “Enron” and “War Horse.”
Students also got the opportunity to attend an acting workshop at the famous Globe Theatre and got a backstage tour of the National Theatre, according to senior Heather Lonergan.
“Aside from the obvious theater-going, we went to a few museums such as the Victoria and Albert and The New Tate,” said Pepperman. “We [also] ate at wonderful pubs to get a feel for culture.”
This is the fourth year that Hollis has offered the course. For the first three years, Hollis said he partnered up with a colleague from Montclair State and students from both colleges went on the trip.
“This year we did it alone,” said Hollis. “I hope to continue doing it on a yearly basis.”
The only complaint Hollis had was the time span spent in London. “We were terribly rushed,” he said. “But in this economy, we just can’t afford to spend any longer. I try to keep the cost under $2,500.”
Despite the extremely structured one-week span, Hollis said he has gotten a lot of positive feedback from the students who have gone.
“Every museum, theater and notable area we visited was a learning experience unlike any other,” said Pepperman.
Lonergan, who is a psychology major, learned to look at theater in a new way.
“Personally, this course taught me to understand theater more and its many possibilities,” she said. “It was a truly wonderful experience to study and discuss the different plays, then to be able to see them live in one of the most theatrical cities in the world.”

WAMFest hosts famous artists

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

For the third year running, FDU’s own Words and Music Festival (Wamfest) continues with even bigger and better artists.
One major upcoming event will be a discussion and performance featuring Robert Pinsky, John Wesley Harding and New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.
Specific dates and details for the Springsteen/Pinsky event have not yet been announced. With the exception of that event, all Wamfest events are open to all students and the public, said David Daniel, director of FDU’s creative writing program and creator of Wamfest.
“We just don’t have the capacity to handle that with Bruce, as you can imagine,” Daniel said.
The first Wamfest event, “Fiction Fest,” is set for next week. On April 6, it will feature Thomas E. Kennedy, and on April 7, Peter Carey and Wesley Stace.
“The people who’ve come and are coming are exactly the people I had in mind to begin with, which is an amazing blessing,” Daniel said.
“In most cases, they are groundbreaking, radical thinkers and artists – people who have brought something very special into the world, usually fighting for those who are dispossessed or overlooked in our culture,” he said.
Over the years, the festival has grown and expanded beyond Daniel’s “wildest dreams.”
“At first, I thought the focus would be on just poetry and songwriting, but that quickly expanded to include fiction writers, critics and journalists, filmmakers and actors,” he said.
While the first official Wamfest event was two years ago, Daniel has wanted to create something like it for a long time.
“I first had the idea when I was driving back from New Jersey to Cambridge four years ago,” Daniel said. “The name came and the whole concept, as a kind of epiphany. I immediately and somewhat illegally, since I was driving, called two of my best friends – one a poet and the other a songwriter – and told them about it, and when they reacted enthusiastically, I knew I was on to something.”
Since then, Wamfest has hosted numerous events, including one last year that featured Rosanne Cash.
“We have had several of the world’s greatest living artists come to campus to talk with students and perform in an intimate setting,” Daniel said. “And they’re not doing it for money […] because they believe in the vision of Wamfest and in the great community that’s at FDU.”
For example, he mentioned that Cash said Wamfest was her favorite event of last year because the students were so wonderful and she felt inspired by them.
With the positive feedback, as well as help and support from all of his colleagues, Daniel believes FDU has been able to establish a truly wonderful program.
“When I was first hired by FDU to direct the new creative writing program, I wanted to make it the best in the country,” Daniel said.
“I really wanted to bring something unique to the students – something they could really be proud of – to give them a chance to be around these people, to get to know them a little, and to provide models for them.”
While Wamfest originated at FDU, it has been expanding to other institutions, including the Academy of American Poets, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Brookdale Community College, according to Daniel.
Upcoming events for this year’s Wamfest include a comedy program on May 4 featuring Eugene Mirman (“Flight of the Conchords”), Michael Showalter (MTV’s “The State” and “Michael and Michael Have Issues”), Leo Allen (“Comedy Central Presents” and former “Saturday Night Live” writer), and Kumail Nanjiani (“Colbert Report” and “The Late Show with David Letterman”).
The following day, there will be a performance and discussion featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon with John Wesley Harding, who is the Wamfest Artist in Residence, Daniel said.
The success of Wamfest so far couldn’t make Daniel happier. For the future, however, he said he wants to see more student awareness and involvement in the events.
“So far, it’s mostly been me dreaming things up, but the idea is that this becomes something where the students’ visions become more central to it,” he said. “I’m old and out of touch, you know, and I want the students to know, absolutely and primarily, this is for them. Also, I’d like to see Wamfest put FDU at the very center of the national arts and education scenes – and I’m very proud to say that we’re well on our way.”

From ashes comes inspiration; Seton Hall graduate talks to students

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

For Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, Jan. 19, 2000 was not just another bitterly cold winter night. In the early-morning hours, arsonists set fire to a couch in the student lounge of the Boland Hall dormitory at Seton Hall University. The threatening blaze killed three people and injured 58 others. Simons and Llanos, who were freshman roommates at the time, were two of the most critically burned survivors.
On March 3, College at Florham students and staff had the unique opportunity to listen to Simons’ story. FDU’s Diversity Council, Office of Campus Life and Educational Opportunity Fund sponsored the event, which attracted over 50 audience members.
Everyone in attendance received Robin Gaby Fisher’s book, “After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival.”
Fisher, an award-winning news and feature writer for The Star-Ledger, along with staff photographer Matt Rainey, followed and witnessed every important step during Simons’ and Llanos’ treatment and recovery after the tragic event. Fisher and Rainey’s coverage of the men’s excruciating recovery ran in the Ledger as a seven-part series.
In 2001, Rainey won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography because of his photos covering their story.
In August of 2008, Fisher published “After the Fire,” which details the lives of Simons and Llanos. According to Fisher’s Web site, her writing is “[h]onest and intimate in her account of the stress of distraught parents, the intense strain upon marriages and relationships, the prolonged suffering and multiple surgeries of the survivors and the evolving friendship of the accidental roommates.”
During the March 3 discussion, Simons gave FDU students an inside look into his inspirational story and the lessons that can be learned.
Normally, Simons said he would have run out if the fire alarm had gone off, but students in the Boland dormitory had been pulling the alarm as a prank almost every week, so he assumed it was just another false alarm.
“We just went to sleep about an hour ago so we took our time,” Simons said. “When we reached the door, a big cloud of smoke came into the room.
“I can’t really remember anything during the fire. It was just complete silence,” Simons said. “I was yelling for help. It was like a dream, but no one was there.”
Simons immediately crawled out of his room toward the elevator he always took, but the lounge was where the fire was.
“Basically, I crawled right into the fire,” he said. “I didn’t actually get burned, but the heat was so intense my hands were burnt from touching the ground.”
Eventually he made it to another room and was able to scream out the window for help.
“A voice came and said ‘Get back down and crawl to your left, there will be a door on your right,’” Simons said. “No one ever came forward, but my mother always says it was my angel that said that.”
After exiting the fire, Simons and numerous other victims, were rushed to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.
“It was one of the worst pains in my life,” Simons said. “I remember the ride to Saint Barnabas, but then I blacked out and ended up in a coma for 13 days.”
Simons’ roommate, Llanos, was considered the most critical patient upon arriving at the Saint Barnabas burn unit.
“If 50 percent of your body or more is burned, they say you aren’t going to make it,” said Simons. “Al was 60 percent completely from his neck down.”
Llanos was given an almost zero percent chance of survival and ended up being in a coma for three months, Simons said. He added that because of all the bandaging, the only thing you could see on Llanos were his eyes and toes.
“It was a lot to go through,” Simons said. “But at the burn unit, I would see other people and thought it could be worse.
“Me and Al had been so cool that I thought when or if he wakes up, I could be there for him,” said Simons.
According to a 2006 New York Times article, more than three years after the fire had burned more than half his body, Llanos went back to school and had more than 30 operations. “Al stopped getting surgeries about two years ago and he was in the hospital for almost a year,” said Simons, who left the hospital after a month.
Although they were out of the hospital and moving on, their lives would be forever changed.
“It even got to the point when people were staring at me and I would ask, ‘Would you like to know what happened?’” Simons said. “I think that got to Al.”
One of the most powerful pictures in Rainey’s photo slideshow is an image of Llanos walking through a hall with a young girl staring at his scars.
“I figured we were going to be like this the rest of our lives, so I said ‘Al, you just have to be comfortable in your own skin,’” said Simons.
According to a May 2009 Star-Ledger article, the two arsonists, Sean Ryan and Joseph LePore, who lived across the hall from Simons and Llanos, were indicted in 2003 on charges of felony murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault and arson. The men entered a plea-deal that dismissed all of the homicidal and assault charges, leading them to receive a reduced arson sentence. In March of 2009, Ryan was granted parole and walked out after serving two years and four months of a five-year sentence, according to the Ledger.
“A lot of the victims were upset because we wanted justice,” Simons said. “I wanted justice for those parents that lost their children.”
Llanos went on to get married and have two kids. Simons graduated from Seton Hall, on time, in 2003.
“I’m glad it happened to us because we were strong enough to go through it,” Simons said. “I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone.”
Simons said that, after the fire, a law was enacted requiring that all dorm rooms have fire sprinklers in them. “We needed this tragedy to happen to make you guys safe,” he told the FDU crowd.
After the discussion, Simons took time to sign copies of the “After the Fire” and shook hands with everyone.

Graduation brings students home

MARISSA HYMAN AND KAYLA HASTRUP
Staff Writers

For FDU’s Class of 2010, and many soon-to-be graduates around the country, graduation may not lead to the “real world” right away. Instead, many students are making plans to move back home.
According to an article in New York Life, that trend seems to be cyclical, especially during economically unstable times.
About 40 percent of 2008 grads still live with their parents and 42 percent of the 2006 grads surveyed said they’re still living at home, according to Monster’s 2009 Annual Entry-Level Job Outlook.
Senior Fred Wied said, “I am planning on taking a year off. That is final for me. I just need some time off before I move on with the next phase of my life.”
Wied added that he plans on working during his year off while living at home. He hopes to gain valuable experience and apply what he learned over the past four years to the real world.
“I do intend to attend grad school at some point, but not right after graduation,” he said. “I will not be worrying about that yet.”
The New York Life article cited a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, which found that 13 percent of parents with grown children say one of their adult sons or daughters has moved back home in the past year.
With the economy in the shape it is and the job market more competitive than ever, especially for young adults just graduating, it seems almost inevitable that moving back home is the next step.
Many factors contribute to the high number of graduates moving back home, but the recession has been particularly hard on young adults. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October 2009, 15.6 percent of 20 to 24-year-olds were unemployed.
For many recent grads, it made smart economic sense to move back in with their parents, where rent tends to be either low or nonexistent. It allows them to stay comfortable while getting their finances in order.
Senior Stephanie Nunez feels that it’s the right choice, but not the smart choice, to live at home.
“At about the age of 22, graduates should try to branch out and stand on their own two feet by moving out of their parents’ home,” Nunez said. “But many graduates have paid for college with loans.”
Nunez, who has student loans to pay off, knows that she must start payments right after college, whether she has a job or not.
“These loans with their accrued interest are synonymous to the costs of paying a mortgage,” said Nunez. She also believes that because students are consuming too much, compared to what they can afford, they are, as a result, financially unstable.
Senior Vanessa Clark will be entering her fifth year at FDU as part of the QUEST program. Clark said, “I’m still undecided as to whether or not I will be staying at home or living on campus. But more than likely, I will be commuting.”
She also added that until she has a job and makes enough money to get her own place, she will be living at home.
Although it seems that the prospect of jobs and graduate school are on the horizon for the Class of 2010, housing is still uncertain. For many students, it’s not that they want to go home again, but that they have to.

From The Metro editor’s desk

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

On March 2, upon celebrating “Read Across America,” and Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I was reminded of my favorite quote by Dr. Seuss.
In the famous quote, he said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
There are many concepts a person can take away from such a simple, yet profound statement, but for me it runs deeper. When I was younger, I was painfully shy.
When I was headed to college and away from home for the first time, I did not know how I was going to be able to make it through, especially with community bathrooms and close-knit dorm living. My sister gave me advice that has stuck with me ever since and reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s quote. She told me that I shouldn’t be afraid of what anyone thinks because everyone is too concerned with themselves.
As I entered freshman year, I tried to live as though no one minded what I was doing because, like my sister said, they were thinking the same thing I was. The advice worked and I broke through my shell throughout the years.
Now, I am no longer shy and feel no reservations about the things I can accomplish. As I am growing emotionally, it seems the people watching my every move are increasing as well. I try to put them in the back of my mind and focus on myself, but living in a “fishbowl-type” atmosphere, as a leader on campus and as a resident assistant, I am constantly being judged and supervised.
I have nothing to hide in my academic and social life as a college student, but the idea of people caring about what I am doing is a new concept for me.
As I followed my sister’s advice and was growing out of my shyness, I tried to forget about certain people who will always judge and criticize others. Being supervised in both my academic and social life, I realized my sister’s advice can only be taken so far. Instead, I needed to lean toward Dr. Seuss’s philosophy. If someone does mind, and there will always be people who do, they don’t matter.
For this issue, I got a chance to look deeper into the story of two students who survived the Seton Hall fire in 2000. One part that stuck with me was the bravery and confidence the two men had after the fire. Despite being physically changed and scarred for the rest of their lives, they moved on and moved forward. It seems they were able to truly follow the Seuss philosophy. Their families, friends and anyone who truly matters do not mind.
This newspaper, particularly my editor’s column, has given me the opportunity to say what I feel. At first, I thought my ideas and opinions may be criticized or judged, but then I realized I shouldn’t censor myself because of that.
People are different and they need to express their opinions and be themselves. Without diversity, the world would be a very boring place.
When I run into people who do criticize or have judgmental opinions, I have learned to try and just brush them off. The way I think about it, and the way the Seton Hall students and Dr. Seuss think about it, is that those people simply don’t matter. They will not be the ones who stick around in your life and they will not provide the positive atmosphere people need.
Too often I am surrounded by people with negative attitudes, and what my friend likes to call “wet blankets.” What she means, I’ve gathered, is that certain people do not follow Seuss’s philosophy and have an attitude that weighs you down. If you are constantly around those “wet blankets,” their attitudes will eventually rub off on you. It’s inevitable that you will conform to the negativity.
I would consider myself a pretty optimistic person with a positive outlook on life, but in order to successfully continue that, I’ve realized I need surround myself with those who have similar outlooks.
It may seem overtly optimistic, but if the Grinch can change, I think everyone has a chance.

‘When disaster strikes’ becomes latest Hot Topic

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

When disaster strikes, many people turn to the media for the latest news and updates. As people at home watch the story unfold, media professionals are forced to give constant updates and information, resulting in what some critics would consider sensationalized news.
“In moments like these, it is the media that takes advantage,” said Kathleen Haspel, professor of communication studies and moderator for the latest Hot Topics event.
On Feb. 19, about 30 students and some FDU faculty and administrators gathered in Lenfell Hall to listen to a panel discussion titled, “When Disaster Strikes: The Media Coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the Earthquake in Haiti.”
In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, scholars, including those who spoke on the panel, have begun to research and analyze the media coverage.
Some media critics would agree that the news coverage of Hurricane Katrina prevented society from seeing the true victims as victims, according to Haspel, who has researched the coverage. “New Orleans was depicted as a third world county,” she said. “This created an unsympathetic portrayal of victims.”
She also noted that rumors and exaggerations from bystanders were picked up by the media and published as fact, such as stories of children being raped that were later found to be untrue.
“The news stories shape our world views,” she said. “We were depicting our own people as ‘others,’ that act as violent criminals that do not deserve help.”
Gregory Adamo, a professor of communication studies at Morgan State University and another panelist, noted the criticism that the media received for Katrina coverage “may have slightly tempered the coverage for Haiti. It seems there have not been such ridiculous and outlandish statements.”
While that may be true, there are still flaws in media coverage of disasters. Haspel pointed out a story on “Nightline,” when a reporter said, “As you can see I’m surrounded by refugees.” But a refugee, by definition, is a person who flees his or her own country for safety. Calling people who stayed in their home country “refugees” was inaccurate and, many believe, offensive.
Katherine Dunsmore, professor of communication studies here at FDU, also spoke to the audience about the problematic coverage.
“The coverage depicts the worst possible kind of case,” she said. “The process gets left out and people don’t see the whole picture.”
Dunsmore went on to talk about the ten Americans who were arrested for trying to bring 33 Haitian children to the United States for adoption. But they were not orphans, just separated from their families.
That was just one story that captured headlines in recent weeks. Consumers of the news were anxious to learn more about the Haiti earthquake, and the U.S.-based media was forced to parachute into the story, according to Sarah Latson, lecturer in journalism at FDU.
“Many members of mainstream media did not have people on the ground,” said Latson, who cited a Columbia Journalism Review report that only one foreign correspondent from a U.S. media outlet was based in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. It wasn’t until the day after the earthquake hit that other correspondents arrived from the U.S.
Latson went on to talk about the impact social media played in the initial hours. Even The New York Times, she said, was asking for people in Haiti or people who knew someone in Haiti to post comments about what was going on.
Once news outlets were in Haiti, she pointed out, the images produced were seen as being more graphic than ever before.
“Some criticisms are that the graphic photos are considered offensive,” she said. “Others say these images are telling the stories.”
While the Hot Topic issue was that the media often fails to adequately report stories, it was not the only subject addressed. Instead of being concerned with the facts and history of Haiti, Adamo said, people are more concerned about Tiger Woods’ apology and baseball’s spring training in Florida.
“Criticism of media coverage still goes on today,” Adamo said. “But we also need to support the media that does correctly cover important stories.”

From The Metro editor’s desk

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-in-Chief

Does media reflect society or does society reflect the media? It’s the timeless question that scholars, critics and media professionals often ask.
As both a member and consumer of the media, I understand that the question can never truly be answered. The media puts on what people want to see. So despite major disasters around the world, such as the Haiti earthquake, the news lately has been more focused on Tiger Woods’ apology.
I recently attended and reported on a Hot Topics event which focused on media coverage of major disasters. While there was a lot to talk about in terms of coverage, the focus shifted toward criticism of the media. Sure, some reporters do not adequately report through the use of fact checking and journalism ethics, but I would hope that a good news journalist would strive for that impossible perfection of accurate reporting.
I have heard many times before by my peers that the media does not have enough coverage of major news stories, such as the war or the Haiti earthquake. But when I ask them if they even watch or read the news, they most likely say no. “It’s too depressing,” I’ve heard, or “I don’t have time.”
They do, however, seem to have time to hear in full length Woods’ apology and even what other “experts” have to say about it.
During the Hot Topics event, one of the panelists mentioned that we, consumers of the media, need to celebrate the good reporting. Instead of debating on whether Woods’ apology was sincere or not, people should change the channel to something that actually matters.
I think a major reason for the decline in newspapers is that people care more about entertainment, and newspapers are not the first place most go to find it. Instead of reading an in-depth analysis of war efforts in The New York Times, many people my age are going to Yahoo News and end up reading a sensationalized headline that gets ripped off an AP or Times article anyway.
It’s no wonder newspapers are dying and major reputable news outlets are going to slowly disappear. Where will Yahoo News, and others like it, get their information if the information gatherers don’t survive? In the future, as news media shrinks and international bureaus close down, will consumers only have access to the pointless celebrity news because it’s most popular?
I can’t imagine that it will ever get to that point, but it is important that we, as media consumers, don’t let it. Instead, we need to follow the panelist’s advice and celebrate the good reporting. We also can’t blame the media for showing the unimportant news, since that is what people want.
There needs to be a fair and balanced amount of news, and at the same time consumers need to be educated. If society is educated enough in the important matters, it is likely that the media will pay more attention to it. And while I don’t have an answer or a solution, I am hopeful that the media will continue striving for accurate stories that reflect what is truly important for society.