Mississippi and the “Anti-Bloomberg Bill”

Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill Tuesday that prevents any regulations from cities or counties that would control drink sizes and food portions in Mississippi.  Some have given the bill the nickname “the Anti-Bloomberg Bill” since it’s seen as the state’s response to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push for a sugared drink ban.  You can learn more about Bloomberg soda ban here.  Many point out the irony that Mississippi is the nation’s most obese state.  State Sen. Tony Smith, who is also a restaurant owner, defends the bill saying that more regulation is not the answer.  You can see his interview about the bill with FOX here.  Although Bloomberg’s soda ban was overturned by a judge, he vows to continue to push for it to become reality.  However, Mississippians won’t have to worry about their sugared beverages being taken away anytime soon.  You can read more about Mississippi’s “Anti-Bloomberg Bill” here.


What is the Bloomberg Soda Ban?

The Bloomberg soda ban proposed by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg restricts restaurants from selling sugared drinks (like soda and sweetened tea) in sizes larger than 16 oz.  However, the ban does not apply to grocery stores or convenience stores.  Bloomberg proposed the ban in hopes of combatting the problem of obesity in New York City.  Many doctors support the ban citing that nearly 50 percent of Americans could be obese by 2030.  You can read Dr. Barnard’s blog for his take on the ban.  The controversial soda ban has brought arguments from both sides.  Some contest that the government should not be able to regulate a person’s eating habits.  You can read more about the role of government in promoting healthy lifestyles here.  The ban was supposed to go into effect March 12, 2013 and restaurants would be given a span of several months to comply before being fined.  You can read more about the Bloomberg soda ban here.

What Works Assignment 3/18

In Mississippi, the Mysterious Murder of a Gay, Black Politician

The title combines all the words that people use to stereotype Mississippi. Most people would click on the title because they simply want to know more about the murder. However, the deck of the story made me want to read this story because it alluded that the author was going to really dig in to what might have happened and not gloss it over as a stereotypical “Mississippi story.”

The author starts the story with a quote lead. I really like that the author chose to lead with a quote from a pastor of a church in Clarksdale. It’s almost like the reader can hear the pastor in a Southern church preaching to the congregation. I think it’s really interesting that the author juxtaposes the church’s position on homosexuality and Marco McMillian’s sexuality. The author portrays a church and a community that only acknowledges the parts of McMillian’s life that fit in the version they want to remember.

I appreciate that the author tries to accurately describe the town, the situation and Marco McMillian instead of putting an opinionated spin on the story. The fifth paragraph can be considered the nutgraph. The nutgraph reveals that McMillian, a black, gay mayoral candidate, was murdered.

The author does a great job of tying in the historical background of Clarksdale and explaining why it’s relevant to the present condition of the town. I really like how the author uses the deaths of the legendary blues musicians to explain that sometimes the answers to a murder are never revealed.

Not only does the author highlight Clarksdale’s past but the poverty and crime rate. The author interviews local people to hear first-hand accounts about the problems plaguing Clarksdale. For several people, the murder of McMillian is devastating because they saw him as a figure of hope that had solutions to these problems.

However, I think it is important to note that the author does not glorify McMillian just because he was murdered. The author respectfully acknowledges that McMillian “didn’t have much of a track record” and that he might have become more popular because of his death.
I like how the author breaks up the story under different headings. This allows the reader to not get confused when the story refers to the past.

Seven people were interviewed for the story. Some were pastors, friends, classmates, Clarksdale citizens and political figures. Each source added a different angle to the story.

I really liked the picture at the beginning of the story and felt it was a powerful way to hook the reader. The picture had a fading image of McMillian in front of a cotton field and a dilapidated shack. I feel like it captured many of the factors in the story—McMillian’s murder, poverty, and the role of agriculture. The author uses audio clips of the blues music Clarksdale is famous for and the gospel choir at one of the local churches. Numerous pictures of local businesses, blues joints and a church sign are also used.

The author did a really good job of pulling in several multimedia elements that enhanced the story. I think video interviews with some of his sources would add to the story. Also, I think pulling in reactions of McMillian’s murder from social media would add value.

Overall, this story was really able to dig into several different angles of McMillian’s murder in a way that connected the past and the present.

What Works Assignment 3/4

The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

The headline definitely made me want to click on the story. The title suggests that the story is going to reveal details that make the Holocaust even more shocking. The Holocaust is already a word that instantly makes people cringe in remembrance of the atrocities that occurred during that time.  How could the story make it more shocking? The title hooks the reader, because the reader wants to find out.

The author uses a delayed lead by describing the years leading up to the researchers’ discovery of just how many concentration camps, ghettos and slave labor sites existed during the Holocaust.  It isn’t until the nutgraph in the third paragraph that the author reveals the data that researchers have found.

The fourth paragraph gives the reader more details about why this new research matters.  Since the Holocaust, historians have underestimated just how many death camps existed.  The research has proven that the number of camps is way higher than historians and scholars could have imagined.

The author does a phenomenal job of pulling the reader into the story by making the data come alive.  Significant amounts of data in the story are intertwined with the personal story of a camp survivor.  Hard numbers and data can provide a structure, but I think bringing in a person who has experienced what the data is trying to tell makes it a good story.

Holocaust survivor, Henry Greenbaum, and his experience in the camps is described in a way that makes the reader see what Greenbaum saw.  Greenbaum lost most of his family and had to bear the unimaginable while at the camps.  He stresses the importance of recording the data and research about these camps so future generations will know.  The reader can sense the weight of this event in history and how future generations need to know about it, so it won’t be repeated.

The author delves into how this data is affecting Holocaust survivors today and that gives the story more of a “news” angle.  Many of the survivors have claims that can be resolved now that researchers have proved their camps (the smaller camps) existed.

Five people (researchers, survivors, lawyers and directors) can be considered sources for the story.  All are official sources.  The author uses a variety of sources that can each give a different take on the information that is being presented in the story.

The story uses maps of ghettos/camps and a picture of an entrance to a ghetto.  However, I do think additional multimedia elements could be used to enhance the story.  For example, I think more pictures of the camps and of Hitler would be good visuals to use.  I also think a video of the camp survivor (Greenbaum) speaking about his experience would really add to the story.  His testimony is so moving that I think adding a face to the words would make more of an impact.

The story does a phenomenal job of presenting the facts of the Holocaust as well as the emotion.  A good story makes the reader feel something and this story does.

Ad Pitch

Vine is a free app that is rapidly growing in popularity.  The app, owned by Twitter, allows users to shoot and edit six-second videos that can be shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Vine offers a platform to expand from words and pictures and use video/audio to actually show an experience. With only six seconds, Vine is making its platform a “micro-video” service, just like Twitter made itself a “micro-blogging” service.

My idea is for an Oxford based media outlet, like HottyToddy.com, to do a series of Vines that showcase a “typical day” in Oxford.  For example, one Vine might showcase the dining experience at Big Bad Breakfast.  The Vine could show clips of the restaurant sign, the menu, the food, the coffee being poured, friends laughing, etc.  HottyToddy.com could offer to highlight certain places in Oxford for a fixed fee.  This idea could be used to feature the shopping experiences, bars, restaurants, recreational activities, Ole Miss sporting events, etc. that Oxford has to offer.  The Vines would be real experiences by real people but it would also be a subliminal advertisement. 

The Vine app has so much potential and I think the advertising world will soon realize the opportunities it has to offer. 

What Works Assignment 2/25

Schemes of My Father

I would click on the title because it is intriguing.  The word “schemes” sounds mysterious, even more so when connected to the role of a father.  I enjoy reading personal stories, and the title made me understand this author would be writing about his family.

This story does not have any significant news value and I don’t know if there would be any certain paragraph is this story that would be considered the nut graph.

The author uses a soft lead and writes the story in first person.  The whole piece is very descriptive with the author using an abundance of adjectives.  The reader sees what the author is describing in each scene.  Not only does the author describe his surroundings but his feelings.  The reader is able to dig inside the relationship between the author and his father.

The father is obviously very caught up in spending money in order to achieve the portrayal of the perfect Californian family.  He lavishly spends on European cars, houses, tennis lessons, etc.  He gets caught up in such a fantasy of wealth and power that the reader can almost feel the tension of that bubble begin to burst.  The author uses the example of his father having to sell his Lotus Esprit car as way to make the reader understand their world was not as perfect as his father wanted it to be.  The author also spends time in the piece outlining the financial cloud that hung not only over his family but over others who were going bankrupt due to the S&L crisis.

The story also revolves around California as the setting.  Even if the reader has never been to California, the author makes the reader feel like they have.  Not only are the landscapes described, but the people who embody the “stereotypical Californian” the most are also brought to life.  The author uses great detail in describing the clothes and language of the average Californian.  The author creates an interesting juxtaposition of locations by describing where the family used to live (Baltimore, Maryland) to the experience of moving to California.

All of these descriptions from scenery to expensive purchases, leave crumbs to the trail of the real issue: a broken father/son relationship.  The author makes the reader feel his pain of his father’s disapproval when he messes up a game of beach volleyball and when the father is unimpressed by his son’s job teaching at a state university.  The feeling of abandonment is etched into the reader’s psyche as the author describes his father leaving his family to start a different one.

I think it’s important the author doesn’t try to make this story a fairytale with a happy ending.  Instead the author makes it a realistic ending.  The reader does not feel hatred for the father but instead pity because the man never understood he could never buy what the author wanted: a father’s love.

The author uses himself as a source since he is writing it from his point of view.  I like the picture at the beginning of the story showing the father holding his son in his lap.  It gives the reader a visual on what the characters described in the story look like.  However, that is the only multimedia element to the story.  I think a picture of the types of cars his father owned would add to the story since the author describes those cars in great detail.  If there was any type of video from a news broadcast explaining the S&L crisis, I think it would help the reader get a better understanding of why the crisis was such a big deal.  If the author wanted to share more of his personal family photos, I think an audio slideshow would give the story more of an edge.