In Memorium: Helen Thomas

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Renowned journalist Helen Thomas reads a copy of The New York Times in her front row seat in the White House Briefing Room on August 2, 2006 (photo courtesy of Brenden Smalowski/Getty Images)

Helen Amelia Thomas, a pioneering American journalist whose career spanned eight decades and marked the inclusion of women into one of the country's most elite all-male organizations, died on Saturday at the age of 92.  Hired in 1943 by United Press, she remained with that press outlet (which eventually became United Press International) and served in a variety of capacities for the next 57 years.  In 1961, she was named the UPI's White House correspondent--the first woman given such a  position--and stayed there as bureau manager until she resigned and moved to Hearst Newspapers in 2000 to write a national affairs opinion column.  It was in that position that her controversial personal opinions on Middle Eastern affairs were recorded and posted online which resulted in her abrupt resignation in 2010.  She moved on to a suburban Washington weekly seven months later and remained on their staff until her passing.  In addition to her milestone in the White House Briefing Room, Thomas was also the first woman officer of the National Press Club, first female president of the White House Correspondents Association and first woman member of the Gridiron Club, the oldest and one of the most prestigious journalistic organizations in the nation's capital. 

Second Season of "The Newsroom" Starts Tomorrow Night

Saturday, July 13, 2013

One of the posts that I had sitting on the "back burner" was to be a critique of last year's premiere season of HBO's The Newsroom, a show that was supposed to give its viewers an inside glimpse into the personnel, logistics and purpose behind today's cable news programming.  Set at the fictional Atlantis Cable Network, we follow the lives of News Night's on- and off-air personnel in their complicated professional and personal lives.  I won't attempt to cover all of the season's highlights and plot lines but I'll let series creator Aaron Sorkin and others provide an overview.

I'm Certified!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Although it is not yet official (my grades for the recent public relations course I took have not been posted but I earned 97 out of a total of 100 available points), I have met the requirements of certification through the University of Massachusetts Amherst's journalism program and can cross it off of my "bucket list".  It's hard to believe that almost two years have transpired since I found their online offering and signed up for my first class back in the fall of 2011.  Looking back over that time, I've learned a lot about this profession and got a real taste of what its practitioners encounter on a daily basis.  In addition to the basics (overview/history and writing/reporting), I dabbled into today's online media trends and learned about the ethical constraints that must be adhered to in order to present an unbiased yet informative submission.  Once I see this most recent grade updated, I will contact the school to start the process of obtaining the actual certificate that will formally document my accomplishment.

While I have taken (and passed) their minimum requirements, I am planning on virtually attending more courses (if the VA is OK with that) to further expand my overall awareness and narrow my focus concerning a future career in journalism.  Next Monday, I am starting their abbreviated summer photojournalism course and I just saw that a class on opinion writing and columns is being offered in the fall.  I've become more comfortable with my camera over the months and I'm hoping to learn more about its capabilities over the next six weeks in order to improve my visual products.  If the truth be told, my "dream job" would be as a weekly/periodic columnist so I would enthusiastically welcome formal instruction and professional critiquing on my submissions in order to solidify my current writing skills.  Registration for that class doesn't open until July 17th so I'll have to set a personal reminder to do that as soon as possible.

Reflecting back on this accomplishment, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the instructors, fellow students, professional journalists and others that have inspired me and touched my life over the past 23 months.  Early on in my reporting class, I soon learned that restrained enthusiasm might get you to an event or a location; however, you also need to develop relationships and connections with others both inside and peripheral to the profession.  Such linkage facilitates access to the subjects and stories that need to be made available to a worldwide community of media consumers.  I could not have gotten into some of the places that I did last year without the benevolence of several people who took a chance on accrediting a college journalism student and blogger who wanted to cover presidential politics.  I hope that I can someday be in a position to repay that debt to another person in my same situation.