Is HU being taken back? About a week ago, a hashtag, #TakeBackHU, trended nationwide, as Howard students took to Twitter for an online movement. They expressed feeling unappreciated by Howard University administration and flooded the medium with their day-to-day issues as a student at the University. But as the hashtag gained popularity, alumni began to chime in with their thoughts. Many alumni expressed experiencing the same issues decades ago, when they were students, tweets including the above.
Over the past few weeks, the financial aid office was closed down due to an IT issue. The entire system went down. Several schools, including the School of Communications, had not received their budgets, meaning that several students are with out scholarships. Refund checks have still not been distributed, which several students use to purchase books and pay for housing expenses. This has become such a huge epidemic at the school, and many alumni attest to the fact that this is nothing new. Many alumni participated in the protest, saying that they encountered the same issues when they were students at Howard.
For this story, I would talk to alumni about the changes, and lack thereof, at Howard. I would ask questions regarding alumni giveback, reasons why alumni donations are so low, and what needs to be done to put Howard back on the its feet. Besides alumni, I would talk to a student who is currently experiencing the turmoil being expressed.
I have contacted Mr. Calvin Hadley, who serves as the Student Ombudsman (see email that sent to the Howard University community, below). His role is to be an advocate for the student body and address issues that many students are falling victim to. Following the Take Back HU Movement, Mr. Hadley’s position was created in President Frederick’s office. I emailed him and received a very quick response for my own personal concerns. We also scheduled a date and time to conduct an interview so that he can answer question regarding his new position and what this means for the student body. I will ask him question regarding how he plans to tackle many large issues of the student body, and why there have been such small changes over the years to pass. I want to know why he thinks alumni are not giving back and what he plans to do to change that for future graduating classes. Our interview is scheduled for Wednesday, September 23, at 1pm.
I am currently in the process of finding a Howard Alumni of over 10 years. Many of the alumni I have contact with have graduated within the last two or three years, which is not far enough to hold strong credibility, in my opinion.
Visually, I would stream tweets into my package. I would also get b-roll of financial aid interactions, people standing in line at the financial aid office, people walking in and out of the office, and students buying books at the book store. I would do my standup in front of the financial aid office after speaking with a representative.
I always say a good journalist makes his/her job look like a piece of cake. From a viewer’s perspective, it’s easier to spot a good journalist after you’ve witnessed poor journalism. Just like you can’t really tell if a movie is high quality until you watch an old faithful low-budget film like Black Coffee. I plead the fifth.
In the article, “Prewriting: To be a successful reporter,” several characteristics of a successful reporter are detailed. From smart, to quick, curious to honest, an amazing reporter must embody a least a little bit of each one. However, I think the most important trait a good journalist must exude is courage.
It’s nothing like seeing a wimpy, scared-looking reporter. I mean really, one day the job can make you report on a mom and pop ice cream parlor’s grand opening, and the next day they’re flying you out to cover a riot in Ferguson where tear gas is emitted and cars are blowing up in flames. Though the public doesn’t completely understand the dangers and risks of being a television journalist, reporters are constantly called to put their lives on the line, all to maintain the public’s right to know. That’s bravery right there.
But courage stretches far beyond being placed in dangerous settings, or interacting with crazies day-in and day-out. It takes courage to simply walk up to a complete stranger and start up a conversation, sometimes on the worst day of their lives.
Honestly, when I did my very first formal interview for Fox 2 News, I was scared out of my pants. It was a story about a Mexican group in Detroit who was protesting against the education standards in their community. They were all speaking Spanish, so I didn’t know the correct way to approach anyone for an interview. I was so nervous. It wasn’t that I wasn’t smart. It wasn’t that I couldn’t turn a story around quickly. Heck, it wasn’t even that I wasn’t curious because Lord knows I wanted to know what they were chanting. It was that I lacked courage. And when you lack courage, no one will know that you are smart, quick, and honest.
In the article, Jon Franklin is quoted in saying why he believes courage is the most important characteristic of a good journalist, and it really broadened my perspective on how much courage reporting truly takes. He says:
You do have to be intelligent but the big thing is courage. Courage to open your mind and let the whole damned confusing world in. Courage to always be the ignorant one, on somebody else’s turf. Courage to stand corrected. Courage to take criticism. Courage to grow with your experiences. Courage to accept what you don’t understand. Most of all, courage to see what is there and not what you want to think is there.
This quote is really profound. It’s something that will always be a nugget in my mind as I matriculate in my career. Being courageous is what makes you stand out. And even on the days where your courage is low, the days where you feel small, or your story isn’t going the way you wanted, your interviews suck, or you’re having a bad hair day, fake it till you make it. Your courage has the power to shine through.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.