#WhoRunsTheWorld (Or #NowWhat)

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“Who runs the world?” -Beyonce (Women do, duh.)

Saturday’s global Women’s Marches scattered expectations, supporting various causes that included women’s rights, immigration reform, health care reform, environment protection, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, workers’ rights and to give Donald Trump the finger. A reported 673 marches took place worldwide, and in my hometown of Reno, over 10,000 men women and children took to the main street with signs and chants, positivity and hope.

So,now what?

My biggest fear is this movement will slowly fade as the year progresses. Where do we go from here? Despite my admiration for the high turn out of this weekend’s protests, what will be most impressive is what we do by putting our words and feelings into actions. Movements are not just about dramatic marches- they’re everyday acts of resistance, creating the positive change and seeing growth with issues we marched for.

First off, VOTE! Vote in your upcoming city, county and state elections! That is the biggest way to have your voice be heard. Support who and what what you believe in. Call, write and email your city’s and state’s representatives about the issues that you are concerned about the most.

Start by donating to organizations like Planned Parenthood, PFLAG, the ACLU and the National Lawyer’s Guild. Also, support media outlets like NPR that provide the public with reliable journalism.

I also understand if you’re broke (you and I both!). One of the simplest thing you can do is not be a passive observer if you see someone being mistreated. Stand up when you see someone being teased or harassed. Tell the abuser that they are wrong. One of the best way to support women, people of color, the LGBTQ, etc, is to stand up for them and never be complacent on something you believe will advance their position in society, as well as their happiness and safety.

If you are more community orientated, volunteer at one your local non-profits. Organize a toiletry drive for a local women’s shelter (shelters often need sanitary napkins and tampons the most). Spend some time at your local animal shelter- kitties and puppies need love, too. Get involved with political and advocacy groups in your area. Get off your couch, step out of your comfort zone, meet some cool people and make plans to change the world!

Remember that the resistance doesn’t stop with the march- we need to keep the drumbeat going and the pressure on from all sides and state. There is no “right” way to get involved- you simply need to get out there. Figure out what works for you. Then do it. JUST DO IT. Fight on, dear reader!


A Slice of Courage: Peter Jennings

Ten years ago, a man that I loved since childhood died. I’ve been into Peter Jennings since I was a toddler. My mom tells me that I’d frantically ran around the living room, exclaiming “Petah Hennings! Petah Hennings!” when he appeared on the TV screen (I had a terrible lisp then). Other than being my very first celebrity crush, I think Peter is the reason I got into journalism. Many have their own opinion of who is the voice of our generation- for me, it’s Peter. When he died of lung cancer in 2005, I cried for two days. I lost a friend and trusted source.

Thanks to YouTube, I’m able to watch old clips of Peter. There is something about him that still moves me- his tone, his cadence, his reporting. Jennings existed in a time where journalists didn’t sensationalize, time where the only requirement to be a reporter wasn’t just to be a pretty blonde (looking to you, FOX). He was respected (and still is).

When I think about my own career, I hope to have one like Jennings (reporting from the war front and all). He too was a drop out (he dropped out of high school, while I left college) but he proved that hard work pays off. His integrity and determination to deliver the evening news each night is still incredibly admirable. With each time I write a piece, whether it’s for my blog or a serious story, I ask myself if Peter would approve of my story. Each I time, I think he will.

Thank you for always inspiring me, Peter. I hope you’re resting in peace.

20 Journalists Have Died This Year

I’m walking in Sub-Saharan Africa, sweating and carrying a reporter’s notebook in my hand and a large pack on my back. I have a digital camera around my neck and a tape recorder in my back pocket. I just interviewed a family who sent their little girls to school for the first time. I felt welcomed in their home, in their village. Welcomed and safe. That image I just described is the kind of journalist I want to be. Trekking through Africa is one thing, but being safe is another.

Journalism and safety have been on my mind this past week, thinking about the shooting at the French satirical, Charlie Hebdo. According to Reporters Without Borders, 20 journalists were killed this year, only 15 days into 2015. Last year, 61 journalists were killed around the globe. These journalists covered everything from politics and policies to war to human rights watches. The countries, Syria and the Ukraine, are the top two deadliest countries for reporters. In the United States, reporters may not be dying, but they are constantly harassed by police and other individuals. When the riots in Ferguson first began, and the media started to cover the protesting, many reporters were seriously injured and wrongfully arrested. “Just cuffed and searched as we said we were leaving,” tweeted out Niel Munshi of the Chicago Financial Times. Robert Klemko with Sports Illustrated tweeted, “About 25 minutes after the gas attack, with the smoke cleared and the area secure, we attempted to go back down the street to report. When they cut cuffs off minutes later, I held onto it. Missouri Highway State Patrol captain, Ron Johnson, tried to take it…”

Reporters get a lot of hate from the public. People don’t like what they read and see on the media. While I agree that a lot of reporting is sensationalized and filled with unwanted opinions, there are genuine reporters who want to get the truth out there and they work hard to do so. If we didn’t have good journalists like that, we would never know what is going on in the far corners of the world, or even in our own country. We wouldn’t know about the Ebola epidemic, who is dating who in Hollywood nor let alone, the shooting in Paris. We need to protect the writers, photographers and editors of the world and show them respect- or we will lose our sources of information and entertainment.

Hate and Free Speech

By Tome Toles, The Washington Post

By Tome Toles, The Washington Post

On Wednesday, gunmen entered the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and shot 12 dead. Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor-in-chief, were among those killed. Paris and the rest of the world are shocked and in mourning. The journalism community is completely flabbergasted- yes, plenty of newspapers and magazines have received death threats before but no one has stormed into a publication office with guns, killing people who are only expressing their right to free speech.

By Rob Tornoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Rob Tornoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer

A little less than a month ago, the film company, Sony, pulled the theatrical release of its movie, “The Interview” starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as a television crew assigned to kill the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. After the North Korean government threatened theatre goers who watched the film and hacked the movie company, Sony made the pull. Fans roared. Hollywood tweeted (my favorite tweet was written by Steve Carrell: Sad day for creative expression. #feareatsthesoul). Sony released the movie anyway, on YouTube (I paid for it and watched it- the movie is hilarious. That James Franco…), and has reported that it has nearly made all its money back (good job, Sony).

By Dave Brown, The Independent

By Dave Brown, The Independent

We, Americans (as well as the French), have the right of free speech. But what happened when that right is threatened? Are we supposed to keep our mouths closed? Online today, I’ve seen cartoonists from all over the world pay their respects to the staff of Charlie Hebdo. It’s comforting to see people who are giving their middle finger to the gunman- they are doing what they love to do and they’re not letting the negative bring them down. I hope that more cartoonists contribute their respects to Charlie Hebdo and the gunman will see that their hate is counteracted with messages of love and recognition.

Long live to Charlie Hebdo and I look forward to reading you in the future.

Thoughts from Your Local Journalist

Today was a hard day; not only as a journalist but as a human being. I went to Sparks Middle School to cover today’s shooting for the Sparks Tribune to talk with students and parents about the incident (for those who are unaware of today’s event- a student brought in a handgun to Sparks Middle School this morning and shot at several people. A math teacher and former Marine, Michael Landsberry, was shot and killed while protecting a student). As much as I tried to be stoic and professional, I wanted badly to drop my notepad and camera to hug these individuals. The amount of tears I saw this morning was overwhelming but at the same time, I was happy to tell these people’s stories.

A lot people criticize today’s journalism as being insensitive and callous. But my journalistic peers and I strive to tell and show the truth. After reading various media sites, where people commented on how terrible people we journalists are for reaching out at the scene for stories, I want to remind everyone that we are people, too, and we do feel for our story subjects. My heart breaks for the students and staff at Sparks Middle School. As thrilling of a news day it was for me today, I hope to never report on such a tragedy again.