Sunday, June 8, 2014

Alex Takes A Trip to... Atlanta (Week 1)

Hey, y'all!

This week has been a whirlwind of adventure, learning, socializing, and more broken Apple products (it never ends). Sorry for being so absent! I finally got my baby back (aka, my MacBook) on Wednesday, so I was waiting until the weekend to blog about the week's activities.

Ironically, I'm blogging from the Apple Store waiting on another repair. This time, it's my beautiful phone. Said damage can be seen here:

My other baby, in all her misery
Lesson learned: never cook and talk at the same time.

But, enough about the phone. This week was my first week at HLN, and it was pretty exciting! On day 1, I experimented with traveling by taking the train (aka MARTA) for the first time. It reminded me a lot of when I lived in New York as a kid and having to take the subway literally everywhere. However, when I was a kid, I never experienced a train breaking down in the middle of my commute... on the first day of work.

I was a mess.

I started calling my parents and boyfriend crying, checking the app to see if I would still make it to the CNN Center on time (I did, thank God).

After the mess that was my commute and after finally getting inside and through security (which is INTENSE, by the way), we had our intern orientation. We were all put into one giant conference room and went through the different company policies, human resources information, etc. I met a few people in orientation, seeing as I had to start making friends somewhere (there's over 60 of us this summer). After orientation, our hiring managers picked us up and escorted us to our respective offices.

The HLN offices look like your typical newsroom, only smaller. Everyone has a computer station with three screens, and everyone is working together, kind of like at school. On my left are the video editing and production people, to my right are the rest of the planning and programming crew (such as myself) as well as the online people, and behind and in front of me are the teams for the different programs, such as "Morning Express," "Weekend Express," and "Nancy Grace."

This week, I attended a LOT of meetings and got to sit in on and see the work that goes into planning a program or a specific event (this week included the CMA Festival in Nashville, Tennessee). I learned how to book guests for different programs and how to get them into hair and makeup and into the studio. I played with a lot of puppies this week, met a kid who publicly humiliated his ex-girlfriend, met the Georgia State Senator, and got to witness tons of live broadcasts. I also met a bunch of different anchors and made tons of new friends to do things with, including watching basketball games and going shopping (here's to you, Justin and Elisa).

Though this week has been kind of crazy with the commute and with things breaking down and with me also getting lost virtually everywhere, I'm looking forward to seeing what the next week is going to bring... including working with Kevin Hart this week :D

Until next time! :]

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Alex Takes A Trip To... Atlanta

Hello, everyone!

It's been a while since I've last posted anything, but it's summer, so everyone needs a vacation, including yours truly!

Things have been crazy since school ended. I ended up with good grades, a ton of work hours, and a new move!

Currently, I'm writing from Atlanta, Georgia on the eve of my first day of my internship with HLN. For those of you who may not know, I've received an opportunity to intern with HLN as an editorial planning intern. My main duties will be providing feedback and content to the network as they go through this whole revamping process. For those of you who don't know what HLN is, it used to be CNN's sister network, and is home to programs such as "Nancy Grace" and "Morning Express."

Atlanta has been a whirlwind of adventure so far. There's so many things to do and see, it's almost a little overwhelming. I came into the city really late on Friday night, leaving all of Saturday and Sunday to explore and get to know my surroundings. On Saturday, I visited the CNN Center, which will be my new work home come Monday. I also drove around and got to see the Atlanta Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Olympic Park, which was really cool. Sunday, I visited Piedmont Park and then traveled into Buckhead for some last-minute internship essentials. There's so much history and something going on on every little corner at all times. I definitely felt at home.

Afterwards, I did some exploring on the outskirts of town, going to different malls and shopping plazas while trying to gain my bearings (because, let's be real, what girl moves to a new city and doesn't find out where all of the places to shop are?). I dropped my computer off at an Apple Store since it crashed the day before I got here, so here's to hoping that from here on out I'll be able to write to y'all from there instead of from my new roommate's iPad.

Speaking of roommates, my host family is the most amazing group of people I've ever met. They're a Colombian family that are friends of a family friend, and I've never felt more at home. My host mom has a daughter who lives in the room next to mine, is a year older, and is finishing up grad school at Georgia State. Her best friend lives in the room opposite mine and is also close to me in age. This summer, not only will I be learning a lot in the newsroom, but I'll also be finally forced into speaking Spanish on a regular basis, so this should be interesting.

I also met a sorority sister up here, which is pretty exciting. It just goes to show how connected a group of people can be regardless of where you're all from.

That's it for now. Tomorrow is my first day, and I still haven't gotten a hang of how to take the MARTA transit to and from CNN. I'll keep y'all posted on how that goes. Let's hope this city doesn't swallow me whole in one day!

Until next time,
Alex :)

P.S., pictures to come when I get my MacBook back in my hands!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Life here as a CMIR journalism student at UF has been full of great opportunities and experiences. Every time I walk into the 21st Century News Lab to work on a project or to put together a news piece for the day, I'm constantly reminded of how privileged and blessed I am to be in a school where we have the opportunity to work hands-on with so many great and knowledgable people. I can easily say that I have friends studying journalism and working to get into the industry at other schools, and they don't have what we have at our fingertips.

Working in the INF has its benefits because it's all-encompassing and all-inclusive. In the newsroom, everyone from all different facets of the station are all working under one roof. Web, TV, and radio all come together and work with and for each other to have a better and finalized project.

Typically, I come in once a week for my news shift. The crew for that day will have a morning meeting at 9:30, where we'll all pitch our stories for the 5:00 and 6:00 shows to our producers and news directors. There will also be reporters sitting in the meeting from web, radio, and weather. The producers then assign us our stories based on whatever we discuss, and we're off either in pairs or on our own to tackle the news of the day.

I usually am done with my story and am back at the station around 2:00 or 2:30. I then begin to work on my script and edit my footage, whether I'm reporting, photographing, or both on the given day. I'm usually done with my stories a little before the show starts.

There will be times where it gets very stressful. Producers and directors are busy, so they're unable to edit your copy. Computers crash all of the time and packages get lost. ENPS will suddenly shut down and there goes your whole script. When there's a news break, you literally have to either drop or throw out whatever it was that you were were working on and start all over again on the developing story. A day in the life of a student journalist isn't all that easy.

What I mostly like to work on are my personal projects. You can view one of them here, and other student projects here. The newsroom is emptier and less crowded and chaotic, which allows me to think more freely and relax as I work. It also allows me to focus more on detail as opposed to working under a time constraint and making myself more prone to make mistakes.

I also like to study in the AHA! Lab. It's bright and colorful, so it brightens your mood as you work, there's coffee machines at your disposal (my favorite part), and I like to think of it like a miniature version of Library West's graduate floor, but accessible to everyone. There's study pods, interactive whiteboards, study booths, and more. It really is a great place to study, hide out, or hang out.

Working in CMIR facilities such as these has made me realize how truly fortunate I am to attend a university such as this. By working in both the INF and the AHA! Lab, I've learned how to work more effectively, more efficiently, and I've greatly expanded my talents beyond my wildest expectations.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point was, for me, a very long yet insightful read, and if you apply the context and different strategies to online and multimedia journalism, you can easily see how the text directly affects how we conduct ourselves in this sort of virtual, interactive, journalistic atmosphere.

The first part of the book mentions three different types of people: Connectors, Salesmen, and Mavens. We, as multimedia journalists, are Connectors. We connect different groups of people everyday through our stories and through our interactions with people, and that goes for in-person reporting and online reporting. Everyday when you walk into the newsroom, you never know who you're going to meet or which way your story is going to turn or who has some sort of contact or connection in relation to your pitch until you go out there and connect with people. That is literally the foundation of our occupation-- connectivity.

Another good thing that I thought the author brought up, especially in relation to connectivity and connectedness, is how the greatest of things always come from something small. For example, in the introduction, the author brought up the topic of infectious diseases and how they usually start out in a random, small group of people or from an area that isn't well-known or occupied, and yet these huge diseases that have affected us throughout the course of human history and that even continue to affect us today (ie: STDs) came out of these tiny places.

The same goes for ideas or basically anything else in life. If something were to grow big or if you want something to get bigger, you need to start small.

Lastly, and this is what I think stuck out to me the most, was that in life you have to work hard and put things out multiple times in order to make them stick. I think that this point was ironic because in today's world, especially in news, people complain about always seeing or hearing the same movie or song or news about the same accident, actress, disaster, person, etc., yet if we didn't put out multiples of something, how would someone remember it? How would it stick out in someone's mind?

(Also, shoutout to Sesame Street and Blue's Clues for making it into the book. Thank you for the childhood memories and helping me learn my ABCs and 123s)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One Step Closer to the Edge

In my previous post, I gave a shoutout to some of my friends and their awesomeness. Time for some more shoutouts!

Ashley is another fashionista in my life, whether she's rocking a power suit in the newsroom or really adorable (and affordable) finds from her thrift shop adventures. This post shows jsut how cute her clothes are... and also how badly I want them. Care to share closets, Ashley?

Bobby is another good friend of mine. We've actually known each other since high school! He's done some GREAT work for the ESPN affiliate on campus, even helping to host the radio shows. You can check out some of Bobby's work here.

Lastly, Missy and I have gotten closer this year in our TV2 class. As members of the Panhellenic Greek community here at UF, we're heavily involved in participating and being active in philanthropic events on campus throughout the year. One of those events is Dance Marathon, where over 800 Gators stand for 26.2 hours to raise money for sick children being treated in the Shands Pediatric Medical Facility here in Gainesville. Last year through DM, we raised over $1.1 million for the Children's Miracle Network, which is AMAZING. As a former participant in Dance Marathon and as a senior at UF, I encourage anyone who can to help Missy and I fundraise for this fantastic cause For the Kids!

If you'd like to make a contribution to Dance Marathon, you can visit my personal page here.

Two Steps Closer to the Edge

Throughout this entire journey in journalism, I've encountered a lot of different people and formed a bunch of friendships.

A fun fact about me: I was a swimmer for about six years, starting in middle school and "retiring" after my senior year of high school (I didn't really have a career out of it, but retiring sounds better than quitting or getting burned out). So, when I came to UF and ended up having a few classes with Elizabeth Beisel, you can probably guess that I freaked out just a bit.

Turns out, Liz is hands-down one of the sweetest people that I've ever met, and chances are if you've hung out with her, she's one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet, too. She's also a pretty great journalist, and I think it's kind of cool (and ironic) that she's in the industry when the media already plays such a huge role in her life as an athlete.

Still haven't caught on yet? She's an Olympian. You're welcome.

Another great person in my life is Jesse. He's the sassy friend that you've always wanted and more, and I've learned a lot about my work through what he does. He's the only person that I know that can say that they have a job for a news station in college. A JOURNALISM JOB IN COLLEGE. And here's everyone else freaking out about their future when this kid's already started his. Four for you Jesse, you go Jesse.

Lastly, Taylor is one of the most fashionable people I've ever met. Anytime I see one of her outfits, I take mental style notes. She's taken newsroom style to a whole new level. She even dedicated an entire blog post to newsroom fashion, which I think is a good go-to for any everyday fashion tips. My style is very simple and tasteful (at least I think so), and always consists of dressing up staple closet items, such as dark jeans, a casual blazer, ballet flats, or a simple boatneck top.

I shop at the likes of J.Crew and Gap, because although the style is constantly changing, everything revolves around those basic pieces, whether it's a pair of embellished chino shorts or dressing up an outfit with a statement necklace (such as this one, which I LOVE), and I think that Taylor's embraced that wholeheartedly and it shows.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Little Bit About Me...

Hey, all! It's been some time, but I'm back!

Earlier this semester, I posted an introductory post with a little bit of information about myself. I guess that this post won't be too formal or intensive, but will still have some more information about who I am, my hobbies, and my passions in life.

I'm from Deerfield Beach, Florida, which is a town about 15 minutes south of Boca Raton and about an hour north of Miami. I have one younger brother who's turning 17 next week, which is kind of scary to me seeing that in a year he'll be packing up and going to college (hopefully he'll be a Gator like his big sister). My parents are my heroes and best friends, especially with the journey that my family has gone through over the past nine months with my father's stroke. (UPDATE: Dad went back to work over spring break, which was AWESOME!!!)

I love shopping, music, going to the beach, watching sports (gotta love my Gators, Bucs, and Miami Heat) and food. I'm a self-proclaimed foodie. I might even become a travel/food journalist just so I can roam around the world and try new and different things. My friends like to consider me a localized Anthony Bourdain, just without the TV show. I also love photography, exploring through nature, and spending time with my friends, family, boyfriend, and our two pets, a cat named Smeagol (yes, after the Lord of the Rings character) and our brand-new puppy named Wrex (because he likes to be mischievous and break things).

I graduate in December, and I really have no idea what my plans are for graduation, especially since it's literally five days before Christmas. I plan on starting to apply for jobs in the fall and hopefully, with all of the hard work and prayers I've put in thus far and more, I'll land something somewhere decent and pursue my dream of becoming a journalist. If not, my backup plan (as of now) is to get my teaching certificate so I can teach high school english or journalism, then eventually get my master's in education or leadership.

This class has definitely taught me a lot about branding and marketing myself, and most importantly sharing my life and experiences with others, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for me.

Until next time, y'all :]