Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Ambition of Ali

By Michael Stewart

Ambition is a quality that many students at the University of South Carolina would say they possess.  But perhaps no student epitomizes that drive more than Ali Mullane.  Mullane is a senior from Bridgeport, New Jersey majoring in public relations.

While some public relations students are content just getting a job at an agency, Mullane has higher aspirations.  “I would love to work for Edelman, a public relations agency in New York, and maybe head the firm at some point,” says Mullane.

To really get the full story of Mullane’s ambitions, dive into her family’s history.  Her father has worked in marketing for her entire life meaning a lot of moving during childhood.  “We moved a ton, and people always think I’m an army brat for it,” Mullane says. Not only was her father in marketing and public relations, but her grandfather was as well.

In fact, Mullane’s grandfather was a big part of the AT&T and Bell company split of 1984.  Mullane’s grandfather’s biggest piece of advice in public relations was that you have to have writing skills to be successful, which is big reason why she is taking Journalism 540 this semester.

Mullane already has honed her writing as an intern for USA Today. She considers that to be one of her greatest successes.  “I had to work really hard to get it (USA Today internship) and submit a bunch of applications and it was a little nerve-wracking,” Mullane added.  She says her Journalism 291 and 436 professor, Dr. Webster, greatly influenced her writing, and she what she learned working for USA Today in New York City. Mullane also looks up to Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue as a strong feminist.

Never feeling settled was a large part of Mullane’s childhood.  That carried over into her college years.  She started college at the University of Indiana, then transferred to the University of Pittsburgh, until finally settling on the University of South Carolina. Though some would not be comfortable with this, Mullane is content.  She says travel is one of her main interests. Her life goal is to visit every country in the world.  She covered a good chunk of them studying abroad this past semester in Dublin, Ireland.  Mullane visited 14 countries while she was overseas.

Stewart is a multimedia journalism senior 

By Daniel McGinley

McKenna’s Rise to Fame

 

What if I were to tell you that Grace McKenna has dreamt about being a broadcast journalist since she was a little girl?  The Atlanta native is in her third year at the University of South Carolina Honors College as a broadcast journalism major.  McKenna said that the greatest success of her life was “completing her college applications and getting accepted into her dream school at the University of South Carolina.”  

In the near future, McKenna sees herself working many journalism jobs, shooting her own stories on politics, and hopefully living in a capital city.  She gained her best experience this past year interning with WIS-TV station shadowing reporters.

However, this future broadcast journalist has more to her life than the average college student.  How many people can say they accounted for thousands of girls rushing sororities and made a pledge class with over 300 girls?  McKenna took on being recruitment chair for Alpha Gamma Delta while simultaneously taking 6 honors college classes.

 How does she do it all? “I’ve always wanted to live my life with a purpose and to the fullest.”, she said.   She has always loved bonding with her peers since she was in theatre shows growing up.

McKenna says she is the person she is today because of her grandfather. “My grandfather is the most encouraging person I’ve ever met amongst other things.  He will give you the smartest advice and make you think about life from a totally different perspective.”, she said.  

McKenna and her grandfather were always together when she was growing up.  She says he built the confidence in her to be an aspiring journalist one day.  McKenna is such an outgoing person, that she will answer tough questions.  If she could switch lives with anyone in the world for a year, who would it be?  “I would want to be any actress, specifically Judi Dench or Julia Roberts.  I can’t imagine what an actress’s every day would be like but I would love to figure out.”

So if she could take credit for anything in this world, what would it be and why?  “I would love to have credit for the internet.  To be the reason how everyone is reading their news, watching their shows, playing their games etc., would be a dream come true.  There isn’t one person we can give credit to for the internet and I think it would be a neat thing to see my name get credit for it.”

McGinley is a public relations senior

Growing Up with an Incarcerated Parent

By Caroline Grigg

I was 12 years old. It was January, and the second semester of my seventh-grade career had begun. I answered a phone call from my sister with the words “urgent,” “arrested,” and “bankrupt” being all my brain could comprehend. I found out that my dad got arrested for committing a ponzi scheme.

The following is my experiences of growing up with an incarcerated parent. Not all situations are the same, but I can speak for most of the 2.7 million children with a parent incarcerated. It changes your version of “childhood.” According to Pew Research, 1-in-28 children in America know what this experience is like. So, this is my take for the other 27 children.

My dad spent seven months on house arrest. He wore a thick, heavy ankle bracelet that was impossible to take off. While on house arrest, he couldn’t go outside his set boundaries, which consisted of the route he took from home to his new construction job and back. Now, as a child this process was difficult to understand. This meant there was no time for him to do anything after his work hours, unless it was from home. These were the moments this lifestyle became obviously abnormal to me, but even more so to my friends.

The stigma that follows kids with incarcerated parents is known. I began to receive my daily dose of pity comments from teachers at school and all the kids who used to play at my house were no longer allowed to. The parents muttered words about my family, and as we all know, kids are sponges that soak up everything they hear.

My dad left the first day of my eighth-grade year for prison. His sentence was 10 years in the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp, which was intimidating and the barbed wire fence surrounding the whole property made matters worse. I saw my dad during visitation times only. This meant Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon. The hours went quickly when I was happy, and they moved like molasses when I hated him. My emotions for the visit depended on how many things he missed in my life that week.

The visitation process at most all facilities is exhausting too. We would drive hours and arrive at a cheap motel. Wake up time was 5:30 a.m. We made sure we were sitting outside the prison gates by 6:30 am. The guards opened the doors at 7:30 a.m., but the line of visitors hoping to be the first one in started quickly.

Some guards were friendly but most were rude. They had zero regard for the families walking through the fence gates and what this must be like for them. Especially the visitors with babies, most guards would tear them apart when search time began.

After filling out paperwork and showing IDs, they would call your inmate. Then the wait began. Sometimes they would get the inmates five minutes later. Other times the doors would finally open for inmates to come into the visiting room some 45 minutes later. Also, physical touch is not allowed, so my dad and I would always have to sneak a quick pick-me-up hug behind the opened door.

After five years, they released my dad due to a court case with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and good behavior. During these years, they transferred my dad to three different camps, because the system picks where they want inmates to be. He missed out on my eighth grade and high school graduations. Also, he missed prom and dances, the soccer State Championship games, and who I was becoming in my teen years. And to be blunt, it was the most painful experience I’ve had yet.

So, growing up with an incarcerated parent is nothing normal. We write letters instead of phone calls. We see each other twice a month instead of every day. We survive paycheck-to-paycheck. And we cry every visit from the emotional roller-coaster prison takes you on. But, I learned not to care what others thought of my family.  I became independent and strong. And I realized that “normalcy” in life doesn’t exist. For this I will forever be thankful.

Grigg is a public relations senior

Where It All Started

 

By Daniel McGinley

Where It All Started

 

A recent family reunion altered my life and my perspective on my family.  My mother’s research into our family history brought it all about making me realize past events do, indeed, shape the future.  

The man is responsible for my existence and of the entire McGinley side of my family tree was not even a blood relative.  James Kerr was married to my great grandmother and the only information rendered from ancestry.com was his year of death in 1914.  Spurred by the fact that he deserved recognition, she then sent away for his death certificate, which revealed drowning as cause of death.  Not satisfied with this limited detail, my mother spent hours combing New York newspaper archives until the luck of the Irish prevailed.  I am grateful she did, as Kerr’s tragic story has had a profound effect on my life.  

The newspaper story reads like a novel and gives harrowing details of the last moments of James Kerr’s life.  The headline reads, “Wife Sees Husband Drown in Bay” and this alone was enough to break my heart for the great grandmother I never knew.  The article goes on to explain that James Kerr, 31, decided to rent a pleasure boat with a friend and his spouse, captained by James Hart.  Mr. Kerr was respected for his character and was well known in New York.  

Kerr fell overboard when the boat was hit by a wave from a passing steamer and he did not know how to swim.  Hart, an expert swimmer, stopped the boat and jumped in to save Kerr when he rose to the surface.  With painstaking details, the story goes on to explain that Kerr clung to Hart, as drowning victims are known to do, rendering Hart helpless.  Both men disappeared under the waves and Hart almost drowned in his heroic efforts to save Kerr.  Hart was exhausted as he dragged the “insensible form” of  Kerr to the boat and lost his grip at the last moment.  The ladies on board watched breathlessly as Kerr fell beneath the water.  

My great grandmother had to be restrained from jumping in after him and fainted in despair.  The boat traveled around the area for quite some time in the hopes the body might come to the surface but it did not.  

According to the death certificate, his body was found two days later on a nearby beach.  The certificate is signed by the undertaker, Thomas McGinley.  According to family lore, my great grandmother was given special attention at her husband’s wake and funeral by my great grandfather, Thomas McGinley – and the rest is history.  

This is an incredible part of my family ancestry.  If not for that fateful day when Mr. Kerr drowned in New York Bay, I would never have been born.  It is an algorithm of life.  It was 103 years ago and every single thing that happened that day led to the fact that I exist today.  I consider that if the steamer that caused the wave was delayed or if James Kerr knew how to swim, I would not have been born.  

Life can change in an instant and every second of every day should be appreciated.  I am forever grateful to James Kerr who has taught me to seize the day.

 

McGinley is a public relations senior

Media Bias Reaching New Levels

By Calvin Mitchener

It is not difficult to encounter bias in the mainstream news media. Bias has in fact become a normality in the world we live in today. One simply needs to go online or turn on the television to any of the popular news outlets to find it. Depending on which source is chosen, you will receive a watered down, left wing or right wing take on whatever news has occurred that day. The bias in the news media is particularly alarming in political coverage. With the lack of unbiased media sources, it can be problematic to find an unfiltered and truthful take on the news.

Fox News is a popular channel among conservatives, mainly because it tells them what they want to hear. The Fox News website predictably features news spun to be positive about conservatives and the Republican Party. Meanwhile, those searching for a liberal take on the news can tune in to CNN or MSNBC.

CNN regularly features scathing takes on President Donald Trump. The anti-Trump rhetoric pumped out by CNN and other networks even prompted the president to declare war on what he calls “fake news”. Fake news or not, the bias against Trump is clear. A study by Harvard researchers showed that, during the 2016 election, CNN’s coverage of Trump was 93 percent negative. On several levels, those figures are cause for concern. Even if Trump is a controversial figure, the numbers tell that networks like CNN made a deliberate effort to portray him in a negative light.

The polarization of the news media reached its zenith during the 2016 election. News outlets took advantage of the historical levels of interest in the election by publishing whatever takes they could on Trump and his equally controversial opponent Hillary Clinton. It was hard not to open your internet browser or turn on your television without seeing news on how much of a sexist Trump was or how Hillary was a lying crook. How is it possible to learn the proper facts about the candidates when the media only provides news on one extreme or the other?

I found it frustrating to sit through last year’s election and the nonstop coverage around it. I felt misguided when after a debate, I checked CNN to see their declaration that Trump bombed and Hillary won the debate handedly. Meanwhile if I checked Fox News I would see a forthright account of how Trump dominated the debate and talked circles around Hillary. I was someone who was trying to learn the intricacies of public policy and the coverage around the 2016 election successfully alienated me from this process.

I imagine I am not the only one who is critical of the bias state of our mainstream news media. There must be others who feel the need for an ounce of journalistic integrity in the divisive era we live in today. I believe the fact that these media sources are only reporting one side of the story contributes to the culture divide that is becoming more apparent in 2017. Perhaps if these news outlets I have mentioned could focus more on reporting the truth and less about fitting their own agenda, the public might be a little better off.

Mitchener is a print journalism senior

A Love Supreme, New York

By Kaleb Partilla

Rebellion, drugs, sex, graffiti, self-inflicted skateboarding wounds and unrest.

These are the ingredients of the global streetwear brand Supreme.

It was created in 1994 by James Jebbia on Lafayette Street in SoHo, Manhattan. Its simple logo is modeled from Barbara Kruger’s postmodern agitprop artworks, and is the new language of many fresh cult inductees.

The brand’s controversial messages and desired fashion pieces still resonate with the original edginess it brought to Manhattan in 1994. The limited stock and hype surrounding each clothing item creates an intense desire for its clientele. Supreme releases its clothing installments every Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Lafayette Street turns into a wild Black Friday scene every Wednesday night during the shop’s open season.

It is clear why the New York Police Department must intervene every few weeks. People have been mugged and robbed, and store fronts and streets are mobbed weekly.

This is due to the underground economy within the brand. Each Supreme clothing item is seen as a piece, and its fans know exactly when each garment was released. People can wear the items and resell them years later because the desire for Supreme is so large in popular culture.

Five years ago I was a pioneer. Each week I would ask for a bathroom pass and would wait near the bathroom outside my class to buy Supreme online. Clothing and accessories sell out in seconds so it is a rush to make and complete an order. Next is Instagram. I always made a post at 5:00 p.m. EST to get the most traffic, and began flipping multiple packages weekly. Basic economics and mail company regimens are both things I learned during my personal Mary-Kay venture.

Online Supreme bots became widely popular in 2012. This means users pay a certain fee to check out on the high-tech website automatically. Two students attending a California college wrote a code for Supreme bots, and told Wired Magazine they made at least $25,000 on slow Thursdays.

Profiting off another brand is wrong, right? Yes and no in Supreme’s case. It is true James Jebbia stole Barbara Kruger’s concept for her iconic propaganda creations. James Jebbia did the only thing he knows how to do which is make streetwear. However, Jebbia actually took the idea for the Supreme logo from the brand Fuct. The brand was created in 1990 in Los Angeles, and released Barbara Kruger-style t-shirts before Supreme established themselves in 1994.

Streetwear can be difficult to govern when it comes to certain legal disputes. Supreme caught a few cease and desist orders over their 23 years of business, and even threatened their own lawsuit for a brand which was later dropped in 2013. The same year Supreme filed for a trademark for their coined and popularized box logo design.

Five years since my bathroom stakeouts and I am still talking about this brand. I’ve seen more people create their own streetwear spinoff of the box logo in the past year than I did during my entire time selling Supreme.

Barbara Kruger disapproves of Supreme and the brand’s logo but her, I shop therefore I am, piece from 1987 still speaks volumes about society today.

Partilla is a broadcast journalism senior

The Girl Who Cried Disease

By Ann Baldwin

Last month, WebMD recorded a total of 153.8 million website visits for the month of August and there’s a good chance I account for at least one million of them.  I would like to say that I haven’t always been this way but fear of the unknown has been one of the few constants in my life.

When I was 6, my irrational fear of the dark, exacerbated by my irrational fear of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” left me crying each night, begging my family members to let me sleep in their room.  I was determined to save myself from what might have been lurking in the darkness.  This fear continued until I was 8.  In middle school, an innocent biology lesson on Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) resulted in years of worry about the risk of potential infection.  Fast forward to my college genetics class, the holy grail of silent diseases, it was my own personal version of hell—ninth circle, with no Virgil in sight.

For hypochondriacs like me, knowledge is the opposite of power and internet websites like WebMD have only made matters worse by providing us with a self diagnosis dictionary, complete with diagrams and drop down menus.  Anxiety fuels the mind better than a carbohydrate and once you start searching for a diagnosis, it’s a downward spiral.  General symptoms turn into life threatening diseases in an instant—take it from someone who diagnosed herself with meningitis last week.

In April, my worst nightmare came true and I received my first real diagnosis.  The diagnosis was minor—very minor—but learning that something had been wrong without me knowing about it sent my “fear of the unknown” into overdrive.  WebMD turned into a bible that I studied religiously.  The byproduct wasn’t pretty and my doctor was far from impressed by the hysterical five-paragraph email I sent to him at 2 a.m. the following week.  He never answered any of my questions but he did advise that I stop Googling my symptoms.

Being dubbed “The Girl Who Cried Disease” isn’t easy to accept when your mind is busy convincing your body that something might actually be wrong.  And while I like to call my symptom searches “investigating,” I know habitual fear of the unknown has resulted in an unhealthy amount of medical anxiety.  The truth is, a wolf may eat you once but anxiety will eat you for a lifetime and it’s a hard cycle to break, especially for people like me.

I’ve come to realize that the more I think about what might be wrong, the worse I feel—a concept that may seem obvious to someone who isn’t a constant worrier but for me it was a revelation. Hypochondria is a vicious cycle, like an ex-boyfriend that you can’t shake off, it leaves you begging for affirmation that you know you don’t actually want. And while the concept of it all may seem like a funny joke to outsiders—I admit sometimes even I have to laugh—when fear of the unknown consumes your head the punchline isn’t as funny.  Ignorance may be bliss but information is my drug of choice and the only rehab option available is reminding myself that we are all dying, just not as quickly as the internet convinces us we are.

Baldwin is a public relations senior

Drowned in your laughter

By Michael Stewart

Feeling something meaningful is one of the most personal experiences in a person’s life.  It’s tough to truly express how fully meaningful something is.  No amount of talking, no matter the level of intoxication, can truly let someone else in on the individual intricacies that make us feel the way we do.

As any rabid Grateful Dead fan- née “Dead-Head”-will tell you, you cannot simply dip a toe into the water of Grateful Dead fandom.  I can attest to this point.  I did not grow up in a Grateful Dead loving household.  My dad is a huge fan of classic rock, but cannot stand Jerry Garcia or the Grateful Dead.  As a result, I was not indoctrinated into the church of Jerry until I got to the eighth grade.

There was no special moment that made me fall under the spell binding melodies that the Dead belt out.  No weird Uncle got me high and put on old 78 records of Wake of the Flood, while moaning, “This is the way music is supposed to be heard, man.”  I was simply surfing YouTube, as I did a lot of nights, and I happened upon a psychedelic mix.  Naturally, I clicked on it.

It was not the first time I had heard music by the Grateful Dead before.  I had heard songs, but never a full album all the way through.  The psychedelic mix took me to the full album video of American Beauty.  I am not and have never been a big sleeper, but I knew when I got to the end of the album that I would not be sleeping the rest of the night, for I had many more albums to listen to.

From that point on I was a Dead-Head.  I’ve listened to every album at least twice, and the music relaxes me more than maybe anything else on earth. While I was going through chemotherapy infusions for lymphoma, I would put my headphones in and listen to the Dead while pretending to be asleep so no one would talk to me.  That calmed me incredibly as I faced intense adversity.

I’ve been through a lot of stuff with the Grateful Dead pumping through my head all the while, but I’ve never had a desire to see them live.  In my opinion, the Grateful Dead will never be the Grateful Dead again without Jerry Garcia, and he died in 1995. I will never go see Dead & Company in concert, despite opportunities to do so.

I think the best way I can relate this is through anecdotal television.  In the most recent season of BoJack Horseman one of the characters, Diane Ngyuen, is given a large gift by her husband Mr. Peanutbutter; a dog. (Great show, trust me.) The gift is a “Belle Room” which is like Belle’s library in Beauty and the Beast.  Ngyuen had mentioned to Mr. Peanutbutter that she wanted this as a child, and he then surprises her by having one put in their new house.  She is upset at this because having this thing almost destroys her memory of its grandeur as a child because now she has to live in it every day.  I feel the same way about the Dead.  If I were to see them now, as old men singing out of key, it would shatter my love and connection to the music that I have had for so long.

Stewart is a multimedia journalism senior

Rising to Great Heights

By Michael Bauldrick

As the end of the semester draws closer so does the urgency of graduating students to search for and obtain a position in today’s competitive job market.  While most worry about the content or formatting in their resume, a rather LARGE minority of job seekers have the added pressure of being victims of HEIGHTISM.

This unspoken issue has limited job seekers and more specifically, public relations practitioners since the inception of the industry.  As we go further into detail, we will see how human resource departments around the country and the entire world unknowingly discriminate.

It is exactly like it sounds. While racism and sexism are similar in nature, heightism is discrimination against individuals based on their height.  As we all know, height is an uncontrollable factor based on our genes that cannot be altered or changed.

Most job recruiters for companies will say that they are looking for the best applicant to fill the position. But does the best person tend to always be the tallest applicant?  The simple answer is yes.  This unconscious-thought is known as the Halo Effect.    This cognitive bias was developed by psychologist Edward Thorndike during the 1920’s.  The theory states that we tend to associate certain traits with other specific unrelated traits.     Our animal brain convinces us that people who are taller are more trustworthy, confident and believable.

A study developed by researchers at Ohio State University discovered that a person who is 6 feet tall is estimated to make $100,000 dollars more than a person who is 5 foot 4 inches, and this is accounting for gender and race.  This may also extend towards mental barriers as well.  A Princeton study showed that taller individuals tended to score higher on grade school tests.  This may be related to the fact that people who have maximized their genetic potential(height) received better nutrients in their diets that fostered proper brain growth.  It also should be known that in all United States presidential elections, only on four occasions has the shorter candidate won.

While it will be next to impossible to completely eliminate heightism, we can do our best to avoid it by learning about why we naturally think in a way that places people at a disadvantage when in fact they deserve a fair shake.

Bauldrick is a public relations senior

Don’t Cry Over Rotten Tomatoes

By John Wagoner

As story after story comes out on movie studio executives fearful of summer box office numbers, they all seem to have a common thread: Rotten Tomatoes. The movie review aggregation site has become the benchmark of movie quality for potential movie goers. Find your movie rated “Fresh” or even “Certified Fresh,” and you have the potential to exceed profit expectations; a la Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming this summer.

Both films rated “Certified Fresh” earning a 92 percent and 93 percent, respectively, and each film grossed over $100 million. Leave that tomato out in the sun too long and you’ll end with some truly “Rotten” produce the likes of Paramount’s Baywatch and Universal’s reboot The Mummy. Each film scored below 20 percent on the coveted “Tomatometer” and either hemorrhaged money ($95 million dollar loss for The Mummy) or underperformed in the case of Baywatch.

Studio executives are taking this site seriously. 20th Century Fox commissioned a study in 2015 entitled “Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office,” forewarning of the power of the internet and sites like Rotten Tomatoes. The report was much more reasonable than some have been. It read as more of a preparatory document for movie studios to handle the change in the way people decide on going to movies or not. Jon Penn of the National Research Group said of the way the site is disrupting the promotional formula: “Rotten Tomatoes is like the truth serum on the entire [promotional] campaign.”

This is an incredibly rational way to go about handling a new technology disrupting the industry. Instead of immediately denying its accuracy to blindly defend their movies, movie studios should utilize the data Rotten Tomatoes offers, and determine the type of movies the site’s users are interested in seeing. Analyze the characteristics of these films, the high points critics praise in these films and the low points they critique and adjust future plans accordingly.

As the 20th Century Fox report stated, “Many Millennials and even Gen Xers now vet every single purchase through the internet, whether it’s restaurants, video games, make-up, consumer electronics, or movies.” Movie studios should get ahead of the curve, instead of denying the curve is even valid.

The root of the frustration behind Rotten Tomatoes is born out of a fear for the end of an era for the film industries. Summer has long been an institution for movie studios to pump out Michael Bay-esque, CGI-packed, action movies devoid of a story, and rake in the profits. I am surely as guilty as anyone else of being sucked into going to see a summer movie, just based on the over-produced trailer featuring eight of the 25 explosions in the movie. Before sites like Rotten Tomatoes, I had no convenient way to vet the quality of the movie other than word of mouth or digging through critics’ reviews. This site brings both of those together in a great way, and this is clearly scaring Tinsel Town. No longer can it hide behind a flashy trailer or puff piece reviews by critics who just want their name and a blurb on the poster, Hollywood is being forced to put out quality movies that people want to see.

Rotten Tomatoes may not be perfect, and everything on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt, but this is a start. Moviegoers deserve a dependable way to validate the hype they see in promotional materials and Rotten Tomatoes is that way for the foreseeable future. Hollywood need focus on planting a garden of fresh tomatoes instead of convincing people they aren’t rotten.