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Bring Out Your Inner Scientist With Week of the Young Child!

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Curious eyes glisten in the sunlight as tiny hands experiment with kinetic experiments and plan out a Mars Rover mission. Slimy reptiles and colorful fish glide within their bright exhibits, inviting those eyes into the world of exploration. If that doesn’t spark your inner scientist, then a visit to Ithaca’s very own Sciencenter sure will.

This week in particular is a special time to dust off those lab coats and dive into a world of inquiry and imagination as the Sciencenter helps celebrate the national Week of the Young Child. From April 13th-17th, kids across the country will join the initiative to provide learning opportunities for young scientists. The Week of the Young Child, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), gives “early childhood programs across the country an opportunity to bring awareness to the needs of young children” with a series of fun, creative and educational events and activities.

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Featured Topic: Solutions Grassroots Really Gives A Frack About The Environment

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What do banjo playing, slam poetry and solar energy all have in common? On their own, not a lot. But when you put them together, you get The Solutions Grassroots Tour.

Solutions Grassroots, created by Oscar-nominated director and environmental activist Josh Fox, is an educational workshop whose goal is to motivate people across the country to adopt renewable energy solutions. With the help of the International WOW Company, Fox and his team of environmentalists travel from town to town in order to produce an “interactive music, theater and film event” that helps “develop renewable energy through culture and grassroots democracy” and “campaign for pro-renewable energy legislation.” Previous guest hosts have included Mark Ruffalo and Phylicia Rashad.

The tour swung by Ithaca College this weekend, giving environmental activist groups from Tompkins county the opportunity to participate in the ongoing discussion of environmental safety.

One of the main groups present at the tour was GoGreenNY, the state’s leading organization working toward a sustainable future. The organization, which hosted the event, started out as an effort to protest against hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking“, but has since expanded to advocate for innovative strategies for renewable energy.

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Teaching Moment: The Benefits (And Setbacks) Of Citizen Journalism

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In January of 2009, a picture of the US Airways airplane that landed in the Hudson River went viral after Janis Krums posted it on his Twitter. It was the first shot of the incident recorded, and soon enough Krums was getting phone calls from news station after news station to ask him about his first hand experience witnessing the crash.

Later that same year, an Iranian philosophy student named Neda Agha-Soltan was fatally shot during the Iranian protests against the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. An anonymous video (WARNING: extremely graphic) recorded by a cell phone went viral online, eventually becoming one of the most-watched deaths in the world. Her death became iconic in the struggle of Iranian protesters of the opposition, and the video earned the George Polk award for videography.

Along with the prevalence of mobile devices that can record videos and pictures, the rise of social media sites have allowed for people to produce and share information at a remarkable rate. Now more than ever, citizen journalists are reporting their personal experiences and sharing it as hyperlocal news.

Revolutionary technology, especially, has changed the way we look at user generated content (UGC). Montreal television director Jean-Francois Desmarais captured the 2012 student tuition riots using a mobile Wi-Fi connection to broadcast the protests via Google Hangouts using Google Glass.

But when looking at UGC, it is important to be cautious of what’s really out there. For one, citizen journalists don’t have proper training. The ethics of the newsroom don’t apply when Harry from down the street decides to share a picture of a local car accident. What’s real, and what’s fabricated? Most importantly, what’s newsworthy?

News broadcasting companies have opened up citizen journalism sites that allow users to report hyperlocal news, such as the CNN iReport. This way, UGC can be used as a supplement to traditional news reporting in order to get all aspects of a story.

For more information on citizen journalism, check out this video by The Digital Journal.

Ithaca Celebrates Black History Month With Communal Events

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February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate and learn about the vast historical milestones of blacks around the world. From Jackie Robinson to Maya Angelou, this particular month celebrates both people and events that illustrate just how important it is to promote the education of significant black historical figures who have influenced today’s society.

From a more local point of view, February is a time for the people of Ithaca to commemorate the different cultures spread across the town, as well as within Ithaca College. Promoting both diversity and a communal education, “Ithacans” gathered to create a broad celebration of the different features of black culture.

Ithaca College’s African Latino Society (ALS) held a string of events throughout the month to promote said education on campus, each focusing on a different theme regarding black history and/or current political, social and cultural issues related to race and ethnicity. The events ranged from a screening and discussion of the film Brown Sugarto lectures on selected topics.

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Social Media & Journalism: A New World of Information

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The good ol’ days of traditional journalism seems a prehistoric practice for those who are in the business today. Social media has drastically changed the way we consume and provide news, blowing print journalism away with the dust. With the emergence of iPhones, iPads and wearable technology, the way journalists go about finding and reporting news has drastically changed since the days when the Sunday paper was the only way to get your weekly fix of information.

Nowadays information travels at lightning speed, reaching billions of viewers worldwide in a matter of seconds. Journalists can live tweet events, allowing their audiences to literally follow the news along with them. New technology, such as Google glass, provides a personal point-of-view perspective for video packages. Covering news has become personal, bridging the gap between the audience and the reporter.

Audiences are contributing more and more to the conversation, providing their own feedback and even reporting news on their own using blogs and other social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. As writer and columnist Dan Gillmor says within his book, We the Media, “We’re seeing the rise of the heavy-duty blogger, web site creator, mailing list owner, or SMS gadfly—the medium is less important than the intent and talent—who is becoming a key source of news for others, including professional journalists. In some cases, these people are becoming professional journalists themselves and are finding ways to make a business of their avocation”.

The line between media corporation and average citizen has blurred, creating new sources of information for journalists worldwide. No longer will journalists have to struggle to find resources; information is just around the corner!

How to be a Modern Journalist: A Discussion with Aaron Edwards

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For young aspiring journalists, taking the first steps into the fast-paced world of news reporting can be somewhat of a challenge. You’re young, fresh out of college, not very experienced but very eager to make a name for yourself within the industry…so how do you do it?

For Ithaca College alum and Buzzfeed‘s News app editor Aaron Edwards, it was all about keeping an open mind. Students in the Mobile and Media Journalism class at the college got a chance to chat with him via Skype to find out what it really takes to be successful in this business.

“Be more open to what your fist job might look like than what you anticipated it to be,” Edwards says. “Being open to things is better than being closed off by them.”

Sure, the first jobs a budding news reporter might apply for would be for newspapers and broadcasting channels. However, the way we consume and report media is constantly changing, which means that those just starting out in the business must be willing to adapt to the latest methods of news reporting. That may mean starting off with a job in a field that may not be ideal. There’s often a preconceived notion that to be a reporter you have to start off, well, as a reporter. Nowadays, the need for reporters isn’t as high as the demand for social media experts–but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forever stuck within a branch you didn’t want to be in.

“The technology industry keeps beating journalism, so people become really valuable when they know how to use all social media,” he says.

That isn’t to say that all the traditional techniques of old-school reporting should be tossed out the window. According to Edwards, it’s still very important to maintain a strong reporting and writing background. Although it might seem as if news reports may be getting shorter and more to the point, journalists should still have a grasp for traditional news formats. I mean, you wouldn’t stop teaching kids how to read just because there’s a text-to-speech app on almost every technological apparatus…at least, I’d hope you wouldn’t…

But the most important piece of advice Edwards gives is probably one that most of us overlook.

“When you start off, dedicate yourself to the work you’re doing,” he says. “Own the fact that you’re there. Throw yourself into your job; don’t start off by trying to impress other people.”

During his days as a young intern for The Associated Press, the best work Edwards did was a result of him sitting head-down at his desk, for hours on end, and focusing solely on his tasks at hand.

“Give people a reason to come to you. Don’t give them a reason to ignore you.”