Capturing COVID-19 in a Digital World

In a time where only essential businesses are running and continually adapting, the internet is our entertainment essential. Scrolling through, we find mask selfies, virtual concerts and challenges. Social media have allowed many to stay connected with others and informed during this time, without the harm of spreading COVID-19. Even legally, social media are the only way to stay in contact with many.

Businesses have adapted to show influencers at home with their products and ways to incorporate new things into our routines. Other businesses are using the resource to pray for the well-being of their customers and keep them updated with information. Sports and celebrities have had to become innovative with their daily posts.

“I miss seeing sports posts the most from social media. Being a sports fan has definitely made this whole thing a lot tougher when sports were canceled,” Chad Eades said. Eades is an active social media user. Eades said many sports accounts are showing highlights from games years ago to stay active with followers. “At a time when all major sports are canceled, you would think a sports blogging and media site (Barstool) would be struggling. But the creativity of Barstool allowed them to find different forms of content, some of it not even sports related, to keep their fans engaged,” Eades said.

With everyone home, we all have the same base. Creativity is needed to generate content for posts. “At the beginning you started to see less posts with friends and more selfies. But now almost a month in, people are getting creative with what they are posting. A lot of people now are posting pictures with their friends or vacations captioning that they miss it,” Eades said. Throwbacks of old pictures, items and videos are currently popular on newsfeeds. People are taking this time to reflect on their freedom outside their homes and think maybe they took that time for granted. Apps such as Tik Tok have become increasingly popular with people at home. Creators such as the ones on Youtube and Tik Tok have time to produce memes. Developing memes from home can capture a realistic connection to viewers compared to television shows or movies right now.

A typical social media post during COVID-19.

Social media have been tools for these times. They have also created negativity. The media have turned to focus on the virus with not a lot else happening. “Everything I see online at this point that people post pretty much has to do with the coronavirus. There’s a sense of negativity and fear everywhere you look and the celebrities who do the stay-at-home PSAs are just obnoxious,” Kyle Teto, a college student, said. Updates on delivered supplies, new regulations or statistics updates may seem helpful. But they can cause others anxiety. “I honestly don’t blame anybody for how they’re dealing with this crisis. It’s hard to come to terms with,” said Teto.

Rants on social media shaming people, worry and fear for the future are extremely common. Users on social media attempt to show off their lifestyle or brag about certain things to their followers. Pictures of people hoarding supplies or breaking violations to visit with friends or grabbing fame by coughing on food in stores have been popular on newsfeeds. “It’s aggravating to see people not following guidelines and continuing to go outside and hang out with their friends posted online,” Eades said.

Many were forced to go online to stay connected and maintain their regular routines. “Social media can help fill the void of not being able to spend time with people in person. But at the same time, it also highlights how it’s not really a substitute,” Teto said.

Social media don’t show any signs of not adapting to our lifestyle. “It shows that no matter what’s going on in the world, people will still find stuff to post on social media,” Eades said.

The Investigation for the True Story of Watergate

All the President’s Men.

The Watergate Scandal is a part of history we may know. But we may not know how all the king’s horses and all the king’s men… helped the Washington Post put the story together for Ben. The 1976 movie, “All The President’s Men,” captures the importance of journalism that helped bring justice to the deep Watergate scandal.

The Watergate scandal started as five men broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward was assigned to cover the story as a rookie in the company. Woodward then discovers clues that turn the break-in into a larger story. Carl Bernstein then joins Woodward to work on the story. The duo would then risk their jobs, reputation and lives to cover a story for America.

As the story continues, Bernstein and Woodward piece together the larger story involving a scandal by the administration of US President Richard Nixon. Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post’s executive editor, needs sources to confirm the story to prevent liability for the paper. A member of the FBI, referred to as “Deep Throat,” becomes a secret informant for the investigation. Deep Throat was a source who helped guide the investigation. Intentionally, he did not give the reporters information, but only confirmed it. Deep Throat gave Woodward the advice of “follow the money.” That helped them discover the corruption. Deep Throat shows the power of a source to journalism.

The Washington Post exposed the Watergate scandal to the public to fight for freedom of speech and the press. Woodward and Bernstein investigated and wrote the story about the betrayal of their own government. “You know, there’s never been a story like this. You’re going to call the Attorney General of the United States a crook,” Bradlee said. The involvement in the scandal went all the way up to the president of the United States. This would then lead to the resignation of President Nixon.

The movie captures the true industry of journalism. Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting showed investigative journalism. They followed their journalism code of ethics and purpose to inform the public, even behind all the closed doors.

The story shines the light on the profession of journalism and its importance to the U.S. The film uses light and its absence effectively. The Post’s newsroom is brightly lit as the reporters bring forth the truth. The dark scenes are kept dark to show the shadiness and how the Washington Post brought attention to it.  The movie shows the inside of the industry in the ’70s with pay phones and notepads to put together a political thriller. The movie plays out like a documentary, as if a Go-Pro were put on to follow Woodward and Bernstein in the 1972 story.

In 2020, watching “All the President’s Men” is intriguing. At the time of the movie, Katharine Graham owned and operated the Washington Post: the newspaper that went all the way to the highest rank of the country, exposing the truth that brought down the president. Now Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post. The news company clearly has a rich history.

Understanding how investigative journalism helped end Nixon’s presidency is interesting, as we just saw President Trump acquitted after his impeachment. Nixon and Trump were both in the process of being impeached for abuse of power, yet both were not removed from office. Nixon resigned and Trump was acquitted by the senate. The Nixon and Trump presidencies have other similarities. Both campaigns had information stolen.

Many journalists were interested in Trump’s investigation. That was not the case for Nixon. The Washington Post was the only news company digging into the story of Nixon. This could be because Woodward and Bernstein brought the truth and power of the First Amendment against a President. The Washington Post’s brave move to follow the story and dig deeper showed the importance of the First Amendment. “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy,”  Ben Bradlee said.

The First Amendment grants the freedom of speech and a free press. A democracy works when people know about the government through the free flow of ideas. This is why the First Amendment was put into place for our democracy: so people can govern themselves. People need to be educated on their own government. This is where journalism takes a stand for the country. Bernstein and Woodward showed how vital the free press is to our society. Their journalism literally rewrote American history.

Bringing Truth to the Community and Then the World

As of 2020, the social media “#metoo” movement of women standing up to sexual assault, USA Gymnastics’ sex abuse scandal or the Penn State football Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal may be cases we’ve heard of. But do we know or remember the child sex abuse scandal involving the Roman Catholic Church? It’s the story that was swept under the carpet but needed justice. It happened close to home: Boston.

Scene from Spotlight.

The Boston Globe Spotlight team was assigned to investigate allegations against priest John Geoghan, accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Spotlight was an investigation team that dug to expose the truth of crimes by higher powers. “If we cover this story, everybody will hear about it,” reporter Michael Rezendes said. Compared to other pieces in the paper, the Spotlight staff needs months to investigate and publish.

The Spotlight team members saw a pattern of re-assigning Geoghan to different parishes. They then found this is a systematic cover-up of repeating the process of re-assigning abusive priests to work in other parishes. “Show me the church manipulated the system so that these guys wouldn’t have to face charges,” Boston Globe executive editor Marty Baron said.  Team members then revealed the scandal that began decades ago (1930s) with step-by-step procedures by the church governance. “We need to focus on the institution, not the individual priests,” Baron said. The team uncovered 87 priests who were guilty of this misconduct, being 6 percent of Boston’s priests.

The film demonstrates the journey journalists go through when reporting sensitive subjects.  Although the records in this case were supposed to be public, the Globe had to sue to gain access.  “These exhibits you’re after, Mr. Rezendes, they’re very sensitive records,” Judge Volterra said. Spotlight faced people not wanting to release information and having to dig for records. The church had some of the information hidden and lawyers were not able to speak on the matter.

In the middle of the team members’ investigation, 9/11 happened. This put a stop to their work. “Look, I get it. No one wants to read about kids getting raped by priests, especially now. But you asked a lot of people to relive some very painful experiences,” a victim, Phil Saviano, said. The team members then faced challenges of completing the story, racing to publish before competing papers and being a voice for their victims.

Victims felt that the church had failed in its role to protect. They had nowhere to go after the abuse. “See, it is important to understand that this is not just physical abuse, it’s spiritual abuse, too. And when a priest does this to you, he robs you of your faith. So you reach for the bottle or the needle. Or if those don’t work, you jump off a bridge. That’s why we call ourselves survivors,” Saviano said.

The film powerfully showed the courage and struggle of the victims who came forward to relive their past. As the victims felt their power was taken from them, Spotlight gave a voice to help other victims and save others. This was many of the victims’ first time speaking about this experience to anyone. Prior to the peak of the internet, this story brought forth more victims from around the world after release.

The team then faced other challenges that became more personal. Marty Baron, who assigned Spotlight, is accused of not being sensitive to the Catholic community in Boston as a newbie to Boston and being Jewish. Head of Spotlight, Robby Robinson, felt pressure as an alum of B.C. High that had an administration that allowed pedophilia against some of his classmates. Mike Rezendes loses hope of returning to church and questions his youth of attending church. “They knew and they let it happen! It could’ve been you, it could’ve been me, it could’ve been any of us!” Rezendes said. Reporter Sacha Pfeiffer stopped attending church with her grandmother. Reporter Matt Carroll realized a priest treatment center was across the road from his home as the investigation became personal with his need to protect his own children. “I got one of those treatment centers a block from my house. We got neighbors with kids. I know that the work we do is confidential, but I’m feeling like…I should tell ’em,” Carroll said.

As journalists, the Spotlight team members faced the responsibility to publish this story despite their challenges. As they became aware, they needed to pursue the story. “I also know that there’s a story here. And I think it’s an important story,” Rezendes said. The team had a passion to bring forth the truth. The journalists even created a database document to organize their information. (This was during a time before databases were widespread.). Their tireless research uncovered a truth that many preferred to stay hidden.

Spotlight’s impact of bringing forth the truth affected Boston and then the world. The actual Spotlight team won the Pulitzer Prize for public service. Spotlight showed the power of investigative journalism that made a genuine change in the world.

 

 

The Bling and the Beautiful: Paparazzi Jewelry

     As Marilyn Monroe said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Now they can be for an affordable price. Paparazzi Jewelry is an accessories company that offers trendy costume jewelry at an affordable price: $5. Paparazzi has accessory pieces from earrings, rings and bracelets, to necklaces and hair pieces. There is a large variety of different styles to meet different customers’ preferences. The company even offers men’s jewelry. Paparazzi also has children’s products that are only a dollar a piece. 

      Angie Theriault started selling Paparazzi at the end of January. Angie was first a customer of Paparazzi Jewelry from a local friend. “I was buying about $100 worth of jewelry a week,” she said, laughing. Angie noted people at work would compliment her jewelry. “I loved it so much. It was always in the back of my head to join,” Angie said. She is currently recovering from her second knee surgery and growing her Paparazzi business in Fort Kent, Maine. “What I truly love is helping people and making them happy. That is a reason I joined the Paparazzi team. When I was buying Paparazzi from a consultant, it gave me so much joy. That is what I want everyone to feel,” Angie said. 

     To join Paparazzi, Angie bought a starter kit. The company offers three different starter kits, from a range of $100 to $500. The biggest difference within the packages is the amount of jewelry included. To purchase more jewelry, she then uses her consultant ID. Being a consultant, she purchases her pieces for $2.75 each plus tax. This gives Angie about $2 per sale for her profit. Currently her income is from commission of selling Paparazzi. She also earns free pieces of jewelry, known as “hostess rewards,” after purchasing 10 pieces. Angie uses her hostess rewards as a marketing technique to give away free jewelry to her customers. 

     Paparazzi releases new jewelry every weekday at 3 p.m. ET. About 10 new pieces are released a day that can range in any jewelry type. “The stuff sells out fast. Sometimes you get to the checkout and it’s not even available anymore,” Angie said. The company is adding new merchandise, but also products become discontinued to stay trendy. “I had a customer that her necklace broke. So I contacted another consultant, because the piece was no longer available. I bought it with my own money and then paid shipping. I lost money, but it meant a happy customer,” Angie said. 

     The public can buy Paparazzi Jewelry from the website for the same price of $5, plus a $5.95 shipping fee. Perks of buying from a consultant are being able to pick up directly from the consultant and supporting a local entrepreneur such as Angie. A consultant can ship to their customers as well at the consultant’s own cost, but some add a shipping cost. 

     Angie is primarily selling online through social media. Her most success comes from Facebook and Messenger. Angie is putting on an event every day of the week, sometimes even two a night. On Facebook, Angie posts pictures of the jewelry for customers to see and hosts Facebook live parties. Her Facebook page is public, so anyone can join, view or buy. She encourages word of mouth sharing through inviting others to her page or sharing the content. 

     To keep customers involved, Angie plays games and does drawings to win free jewelry with her rewards or own purchases. “At the start, it’s hard to give away free jewelry because the business is small. It’s hard to compete with other sellers because they give out a lot of free jewelry,” Angie said. 

     “She does a nice job. It seems like a lot of work to do but she makes it enjoyable and makes the customers feel they’re a part of it. She has a lot of different types of jewelry to make everyone happy. The variety is nice, because I can buy it for my mom, sister or girlfriend. My favorite part is the games because it’s so interactive,” Matthew Gagne said. 

     Selling on live allows Angie to focus on what her audience is interested in, displaying it and selling directly. Being a small business has allowed her to become more personal with her customers through her active engagement on live. Angie learns her customers very well, which helps her select her merchandise to know what will sell. Her best sellers are silver jewelry and long necklaces. 

     The process of creating Angie’s business has been a learning process. She is learning the best platforms to sell, hot merchandise and time to sell. “It’s a learning process of learning how to stay organized and the tips and tricks,” Angie said. She’s currently trying to increase her viewers in hopes of selling more jewelry. She is also making a website for her business. Angie’s merchandise is available on her Facebook public group: Gigi’s $5 Bling Paparazzi accessories.

Paparazzi consultant Angie Theriault, pictured in Paparazzi accessories.

Life Outside the Classroom

 

 

Sarah Coyer is pictured answering the phone and typing away as usual.

College is about learning and creating experiences. This year at UMPI, a position was created to bring those elements in. Meet Sarah Coyer: Sarah is director of student life at UMPI. Sarah’s office is located in the Emerson Annex and from her window she can see the pathways students are traveling to class, residential halls and other destinations on campus. Her view captures her position: students’ lives outside the classroom and helping set the right path for their success.

Sarah joined UMPI at the end of October, but is no stranger to college campuses. Sarah is from Wisconsin, where she earned her undergraduate degree in theater. During her time as a student, Sarah worked as a resident assistant in the halls. She explained that during her undergraduate years, the staff and faculty were her role models: she wanted to be them. Sarah had a deep desire to help people.

Sarah has experience from working in different types of colleges, from private, to a “Big 10” public university and now a smaller public university. Sarah’s decision to work at UMPI is based on wanting to go back to a small, public campus and UMPI fit that description perfectly. She also found the U Maine System interesting, with the system accreditation and strong connection among all the campuses.

Being new, Sarah has been learning about UMPI. Sarah currently lives on campus. “I loved being a student so much, I decided to be a student forever,” she said, laughing. As she learns the process, she wants to understand and ask questions. “She asks good questions, but also listens. I think that’s very important,” Dr. Jacqui Lowman said. Dr. Lowman is on different committees with Sarah and noted her: “can-do attitude” and ability to look at the big picture for UMPI. Sarah said she wants to “honor the traditions while bringing in new ideas.” Her ultimate question for students is: “How can we better serve you?”

Sarah noted that everyone at UMPI cares for the students. “The students are the best part,” she said, as she explained she gets to work with students at all different parts of their lives. She’s passionate about caring for the students. She said the staff has the same motivation of wanting to care for the students and it’s powerful. “Having an awesome group of people is the best way to find satisfaction in your work,” she said, with a gleaming smile as the passionate emotion came from her statement.

Sarah said in her position she would like to incorporate a residential curriculum: learning outside the classroom. She explained that learning outside the classrooms is just as important as inside. Students need to learn the material for their career, but need life skills and experiences from outside the classroom. The goal is to manage life, because life outside college doesn’t stop. Sarah’s position helps support students when life hits.

Sarah’s vision is that she wants all students to have an intense feeling of belonging and mattering to the campus community. She touched greatly on wanting to reach all students: on and off campus students, online, international, part-time, older students, new students and even the local community, too. She explained that everyone comes in at different levels but has the potential to grow and develop. The staff is here to help navigate.

The Work for Something More Than a Picture

To win the Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism is an honor for journalists. “It’s not a photography contest. It’s about telling some of the biggest stories of the year,” Pulitzer winning photojournalist William Snyder said. The award is given to a photo that captures a moment in time that touches people. The picture should make the viewer understand the story in a new light, with emotion. “Something about that still moment in time that does touch people,” Pulitzer winning photojournalist Carol Guzy said. The photo should bring emotion and awareness. The goal for photojournalists is to be invisible and be the eyes of the people who are not there.

In 1945, Joe Rosenthal’s photo of raising the flag on Iwo Jima won. The iconic photo holds the still moment of five American soldiers working together to raise the American flag. The photo gave hope to Americans. The photo fits the quote by John White: “It’s a front seat to history.” The picture is a perfect poster image for the war. The photo captures the emotion from the war and still shows hope for the audience.

Eddie Adams’ 1968 photo of the “Saigon Execution” won. The photo shows a South Vietnamese general firing his pistol at a Viet Cong officer/ prisoner. The photo shows another soldier in the back and the horror coming from the Viet Cong’s face. As this event was happening, Adams had to fire his camera as the general fired his pistol. The picture created controversy, but is a true view of war.

Jerry Gay captured a famous firefighter photograph from 1974. The photo shows four exhausted firefighters sitting on the side of a muddy hill, reflecting on what just happened. The photo captures the firefighters as soldiers with their helmets off. The picture captures the intense feelings as if the viewer is right there with the smoky haze, mud and emotion.

In 1982, John White captures a photograph of two children running in front of a Chicago housing project. The picture captures the innocence and fun of the happy children. As they play, their smiles make the shot a good-feeling picture for the viewer. The picture allows a light to shine through the element of children in these events.

Annie Wells captures a young girl being rescued from flooding waters in 1997. The photo shows the girl holding onto a branch as the muddy water around her swirls and a man rescuing her with a vibrant red lifejacket on. She looks into the shot for hope and survival. The picture shows the true moments of horror escaping fast to save the girl. For Wells to take this picture, she had to join the experience of the flood and follow the hope to help save the girl.

To capture these shots is a journey. Photojournalists truly go through an experience for a photo. They are the first responders to these events. “Everyone has a story. And we sing their song,” John White said. Photojournalists walk into these scenes that are often graphic. They go through the full experience of all the senses involved to capture these moments. The work is hard and they have to deal with the experience of the photo for the rest of their lives. Carol Guzy said, “ Someone once told me empathy was not imagining how you would feel in a particular situation, but actually feeling what the other person is feeling.”

This job is a calling because photojournalists go through the same experiences as captured in the pictures. Photojournalists have to hold onto that experience forever. Their profession is powerful. They can portray reality from their pictures, which can create change.

POW Returns From Vietnam, Photo by Slava Veder.