The dress

Everyone is talking about the dress: on social media, at school, at my house, etc. The entire thing has gotten out of hand, but somehow I got sucked into it.

I was asked what I saw last night. I answered very calmly, “White and gold.” Everyone agreed with me, the dress of white and gold. I didn’t understand why people were talking about the dress yet. That would would come later in the night, when people began to argue about it on Facebook.

When I woke up this morning, I saw it on the news. It was blue and black, which I thought was weird. Was I seeing both colors at different times, or was this just Adobe Photoshop being misused again?

I concluded the former to be true after seeing it as white and gold again, and then as blue and gold that morning. I put the matter to rest and dealt with Spanish class and the newsmagazine at school. That’s when it came up again.

Most people on my newsmagazine staff had also seen it as both colors, although a few had only seen it as blue and black. I didn’t know what to think.

So, I read up on the university reports and did my own experiment. I took a screenshot of the dress and saved it. It was white and gold. Now, its blue and black. Ugh…perception.


This week in rock music – 1

I like writing about music, so I have decided to start a regular weekly feature called “This week in rock music.” Every week I will release a post about my thoughts on the new rock or metal music of the week, or the lack thereof. This is a great opportunity for me and for you, the reader, to discover new music that often goes unnoticed.

February 20 – February 27

Revolution Saints release their first album

Revolution Saints is a new band, but its members have had far-reaching effects on the music industry. Revolution Saints is Jack Blades on bass and occasional vocals (from Night Ranger, Damn Yankees), Deen Castronovo on drums and lead vocals (from Journey, Bad English, Hardline), and Doug Aldrich on guitar (from Whitesnake, Dio).

If you like Journey, you will like this band. They bring back the pop-oriented arena-rock of the early 1980s in force. The band also has a Night Ranger influence, thanks to the presence and song writing of Blades. Many will see this as a return of the ’80s sound they wished was dead forever, but I think this is just another piece in the struggle for the survival of good music.

Kid Rock – First Kiss

Kid Rock is back and better than ever with his new album. It sounds very Bob Seger, and very country-rock. It is straight-forward music that makes you feel good, and I will probably buy the album so that I can blast it during the summer.

Darlia – Petals

I have never heard of this band before, but I’m really digging the Oasis-sound they have. I actually enjoy Brit-pop and Grunge. They released “Stars Are Aligned” as a single in September, but their album just came out this week.

Scholastic Journalism Week

Its Scholastic Journalism Week (Feb. 22 – Feb. 28). I just want to take a moment to recognize the hard work of my newsmagazine staff and of other high school newspapers across the United States. Adults and lawmakers may look down upon us and view us as children incapable of making the right decisions, but we are professionals in the making.

Use this week to spread knowledge and love of the First Amendment and of the freedom of the press. Fight back against your prior reviews (peacefully, please) and help campaign for shield laws in your state legislature. Let them know that you will not have your voice silenced.

Hypocrites: why prior review is journalism hell

There is nothing as devastating to a high school journalist as seeing the quality work of other high school newspapers on tough topics like sex, drugs, self-harm, and porn that you can’t do. By quality work, I mean in-depth articles on real students and their experiences and well-placed photographs and graphics that bring the issue the correct light to get the point across. I am amazed by the gory photographs and the emotional stories other schools do.

JagWire used to have issues like that. It has published its share of sex issues, drug issues, and pornography issues, which may have ventured into questionable territory. Each time, however, the point came across clearly to those willing to see it: these issues are not as one sided as schools want you to believe.

We were known as a racy and edgy publication across the nation. We won countless awards, including the 2006 NSPA Pacemaker Award, the Pulitzer Prize for high school journalists. We were respected and the hard issues were taken to new levels unseen by high school students. We were mature on these issues.

That all changed in 2008, when JagWire’s infamous edition on oral sex was released and subsequently sued by the students who were interviewed. This issue cost JagWire its credibility to this day, and imposed tight restrictions on student work across the school district.

The cover of JagWire 8.5.
The cover of JagWire 8.5.

Students and staff were outraged by the content of the issue. They, for the most part, couldn’t get past the images and graphics on the cover and in the middle of the issue. Honestly, I don’t think the images were that bad, since more graphic displays are allowed on daytime television.

The topic was good. It revealed that high percentages of high schools were engaged in oral sex, including students at my school. The stories were of the utmost quality, but the student interviews were not. Four students sued because the issue revealed that they had oral sex and sex. They had AGREED to be interviewed and willingly gave up the information. Now, the staff at that time should have offered anonymity to these students and then had them review what they had said about the issue. They didn’t. That was the only falling point of the issue.

We ended up winning the case, which is well documented in national student journalism archives, because the jury decided that because we were an open forum and no adult input was imposed, we were not liable.

The district should have stood behind the publication after the trial, but instead it punished the entire school district. The open forum policy that had existed for many decades was gone in an instant. To this day, every newspaper, yearbook, school play, assembly, poster, and art display must be reviewed and approved by the school administration.

This prior review policy is a violation of our rights of free speech. Even more important, it prevents us from  publishing the quality work and controversial topics of the old days, for the most part.

This is where I get to the district being hypocritical.

This year and for the last two years, former administrators and current school staff members have expressed that they miss the “edginess” of the old days. We primarily were publishing issues on video games and comic books and intelligence and nutrition, but nothing that really stood out. As a result, we stopped winning awards. Every wants to see the old paper return, but we just turn around and tell them “then stop censoring us.”

Every time we try to bring back the edginess, we are censored. In 2009 we want to cover the fact that we are being censored. The entire issue got SEIZED by the school district and never returned, resulting in a loss of ad revenue. In 2010 we wanted to cover the JagWire trial. Censored. In 2013 we did an issue on homophobic bullying. It wasn’t as good as it could have been because the school was worried it could “hurt someone.” In 2014 we did an issue on pornography. All student quotes were forced to be removed, even though we had their written consent this time and audio recordings, and all photographs were prohibited, resulting in the lamest JagWire cover ever.

If they really want to see us do good again, they need to stop censoring us completely. We may be high schoolers, but we know what is right and what is wrong.

This year, since I’ve been Co-Editor-in-Chief of JagWire, we have seen a bit of a rollback on prior review. Our website is only being reviewed by our adviser, not the administration, and our principal has not censored us yet on our issues on veteran mistreatment in the United States and on cancer. But, the policy still exists and it may get in the way of our next two issues, in which we shall attempt to focus editions on self-harm and sex-trafficking.

Perhaps the most dangerous consequence of prior review is self-censorship. We often throw out ideas or articles because we are afraid it will be censored. This shouldn’t be a thing, and this year, we are challenging the school. We want to show them that doing hard topics PROPERLY will result in edgy issues and no lawsuits.


Is doing an issue of a high school newsmagazine on self-harm bad? Is it such a terrible and unmoral thing to do?

I think that doing this topic is a chance for JagWire to reclaim its place as an edgy publication, something everyone at my school seemed to take great pride in until the fiasco in 2008. Unfortunately, because of the possible issues with the idea and the issue getting past prior review policies, we have to speak with the administration and see if we are ALLOWED to do this topic.

Plus, self-censorship sucks. I’m stopping this before it becomes an angry rant. I’ll save that for another time.

College entrance testing

I took the ACT Compass test today at Pierce College. The test measures a student’s readiness for college-level courses and helps the college advisers guide you through the classes you need to take while in college.

I had to take the test because Pierce, as a community college, doesn’t accept SAT scores. I lucked out, however, in that I was able to skip the math portion of the exam (the longest part.) I already have college credit for Pre-Calculus and Statistics through Everett Community College thanks to a program at my high school, so they will just put me in whatever math class I need for my degree (if any). I also have a few AP tests that the college will have to take a look at.

On the test itself, I did extremely well. Each section is out of 100 points and I received a 96 in reading and a 97 in writing. Typically a score in the 90s means that the freshman English courses will be waived, but I’m not sure if Pierce does that.

As a bonus, I walked around the campus for a few minutes and met up with a good friend of mine, who happens to work for the Office of Student Life. We only talked for a few minutes because she was busy, but it was still very nice to see her.

My only complaint is that the campus has no parking. I mean, the parking lots are huge, but with 3000 students I couldn’t find a parking spot for a few minutes. Dealing with that everyday will suck.

The best power ballads of all time

I was going to publish this on Valentine’s Day, but I never got around to it. This is my list (in no order) of the greatest power ballads of all time. Power ballads are love songs by rock bands that have been taken to the extreme.

    • “More Than Words” – Extreme
    • “To Be With You” – Mr. Big
    • “Love is on the Way” – Saigon Kick
    • “Why Can’t You Trust Me” – Steel Panther
    • “When Love & Hate Collide” – Def Leppard
    • “Miss You In a Heartbeat” – Def Leppard
    • “Bed of Roses” – Bon Jovi
    • “Wasted Time” – Skid Row
    • “High Enough” – Damn Yankees
    • “I Remember You” – Skid Row
    • “18 and Life” – Skid Row
    • “Without You” – Motley Crue
    • “Forever” – KISS
    • “House of Pain” – Faster Pussycat
    • “Poison” – Alice Cooper
    • “What it Takes” – Aerosmith
    • “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Aerosmith
    • “Close My Eyes Forever” – Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne
    • “Don’t Close Your Eyes” – Kix
    • “Don’t Know What You Got” – Cinderella
    • “Is This Love” – Whitesnake
    • “You’re All I Need” – Motley Crue
    • “Alone” – Heart
    • “Save Your Love” – Great White
    • “Love Bites” – Def Leppard
    • “Angel” – Aerosmith
    • “I Won’t Forget You” – Poison
    • “Amanda” – Boston
    • “Turn On Your Light” – Judas Priest
    • “Sister Christian” – Night Ranger
  • “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” – Def Leppard
  • “Keep on Loving You” – REO Speedwagon

How my views on journalism have changed

Since joining the staff of the JagWire newsmagazine in 2012, I have seen everything that a journalist could see while in high school. I have seen articles get censored by the administration, seen an angry mob of students barge into our newsroom over an opinion article we published, and I’ve also seen what it is like to have success.

During my three years of being on staff, I have also gained valuable skills. I have become an expert at using Adobe In Design and I am experienced with general PhotoShop skills. I have learned how to manage a website through WordPress and SNO’s Sno Flex platform. I have learned how to write according to AP style guidelines and I have learned how to create appealing graphics.

I have grown in more ways than just in skill. My perception on what journalism is and how it should be organized has evolved from my previous two years on the paper.

I used to think that journalism, true journalism anyway, had to be completely serious and focused in on the facts. I preferred newspapers to newsmagazines and I favored the traditional news, sports, and opinion sections. Everything else was just an attempt at becoming a teen magazine.

I wanted JagWire to reestablish credibility as a straight-forward news service, something that was lost in 2008, and not a pop culture and entertainment driven machine that appeals to the majority of snobby suburbia. I liked traditional fonts like Times New Roman and Franklin Gothic, and I preferred big headlines and large articles.

Now, I have learned that journalism is about telling a story, no matter the way, shape, or form. I have grown to love newsmagazine covers and FOCUS sections. I find entertainment to be a valid form of journalism, if not the future of journalism itself.

Above all, I have learned that 21st century journalism isn’t about following a traditional in-print guideline. To survive in this new world, journalism programs have to embrace the technologies that are available.

A website needs to coincide with a print edition. They should feed off each other. Social media should be used to get the news out there immediately, and to drive readers to look at your print edition or website.

Newspapers and newsmagazines aren’t responsible for only print articles anymore. I have learned that important stories need good photographs and graphics to bring the reader in. Online articles should have accompanying videos and info-graphics, or podcasts.

I am glad that I have been able to bring this change into the JagWire program. Our print edition features the strongest visual aids the publication has seen in years, we have a website for the first time since 2008, and our social media presence is growing. Our Facebook page has gained likes by the week and our Twitter account, which I created in August, has already surpassed the 100 followers mark and is still climbing week by week.

Journalism is changing, and if newspaper staffs choose to not get on board with the 21st century, they will perish.

Sneak peek at my self-analytical essay for JOY

This is a little sneak peek at the essay I am writing for my Journalist of the Year portfolio.

I was lounging in my Ikea computer chair during a sweltering day in mid-summer. The sky was clear and giving off a vibrant blue as I glanced out the window to look at the massive Mount Rainier jutting out from the Cascades. The phone began to ring as I glanced quickly at the caller ID. The name was not recognizable. A few moments passed before my mom answered it and yelled out my name. It was for me. I took the phone from her hand and said “Hello.” I could never have foreseen that from the moment of the call, my life would forever be changed.

Brian Williams

As a frequent watcher of NBC News, it is sad to see Nightly News host Brian Williams faced with a six-month non-paid leave from the job because of his comments last week about his time in Iraq in 2003. Immediately after he made his remarks, people accused him of lying, including those he was supposedly on a helicopter with, who said he arrived well after the RPG hit a helicopter.

I found this particular article by PBS very interesting, because it supports Williams’ “trouble” with his memory, if that is the case. I know that I have experienced forms of this and I have seen others experience the exact phenomena that PBS has described.

I really enjoyed Williams as a newscaster, and I hope that he is able to return to this job. I hope that they find that he is not lying, but simply falling victim to forgetfulness.

As a journalist, it is sad to see someone who has built a news-media empire as great as Williams fall to the ground. That us, however, a price that comes with putting too much personal experience and anecdotes into news pieces, especially in television news soundbites. Anecdotes may help to add an emotional reaction from the viewers, but it isn’t always necessary.