What Works : You Belong With Me; Taylor Swift Profile

I clicked on this headline because of who the profile was about. I’m a Taylor Swift fan and of course I would like to read about her life. I also though it was clever that they used a title of one of her hit songs, also as the title of the profile.

The profile was a huge hit I’m sure. First, it is timely. Although she came into the spotlight in 2006, Taylor Swift is still wildly popular among many demographics. It is natural that many people would want to read this story. Secondly there is the aspect of prominence. Taylor Swift is a huge star in both the pop and country world. Every one knows who she is and many people like to follow what’s going on in her life. Thirdly, there is somewhat of an oddity to the story. She broke through new ground and found a new demographic that enjoyed country music. She created a new market.

The author uses a narrative lead to capture the story. The profile starts off with Swift in the car, on the way to a Gala. This was a great option for a profile. Since the piece is so personal, and all about Swift, the author had to pull the reader in by speaking about a day in the life of Taylor. Also, the quotes the author uses are very personal and come from the heart, pulling the reader in.

The nut graph is the fourth paragraph in. The author speaks about how Swift is the typical girl next door. While the star was headlining her own tours, her proudest accomplishment was getting her CD to be sold in a Starbucks coffee. These facts show how the star really is full of opposites, almost always being in the middle of two characteristics. She’s sexy, but not too sexy, girlish, but not too girlish. The whole point of the profile is how Swift really created something new.

I think the biggest takeaway from the story was when the author described Swift as providing background music for slumber parties and Forever 21. Typically, many young girls, at least across the country, did not typically listen to country music. This detail shows how Taylor Swift changed the country music scene.

The profile does not use too many different sources. Swift is a huge source, giving various quotes and providing a lot of intimate detail to the piece. Another source used was a quote from the Washington Post calling swift “poet laureate of puberty.” This shows how relatable the star actually is. The last source is Forbes magazine, telling how much Swift has made.

I think a video interview would be great for this. Swift is known to be awkward and quirky and seeing it live would really bring the profile to life.

Tourism Keeps Moving Forward In Oxford

While Oxford, Mississippi may be a small town by national standards, the community is doing all it can to keep tourism alive.

For this tourism season, occupancy was 48.9%, a 3.9% increase from last year.  Board members were extremely happy about these numbers

“The business is shifting from one hotel to another…to have 85% growth in the slowest month of the year (December) would be, well, a Christmas miracle,” said board member Lance Reed.

During the March 19th meeting of the Oxford Tourism Council, the tourism report, led by council member Mary Allyn Hedges, revealed that Oxford has many plans for this Spring to draw tourists to Oxford.

One exciting project that Katie Kaiser, head of social media, is working on, is a new social media campaign.  She has been working vigorously to get information about the city out, on multiple social media platforms.

As reported by Kinney Ferris, board member, the Facebook page has 1,816 likes, as well as their website pulling in 10,609 visitors.

The website has been getting some updates, and trying to reach more viewers.  Recently, the pedicab service, Rebel Rickshaw, was added to the tour section on the  website.

As well as the social media factors for spreading the word about Oxford, a new monthly talk show, “Tourism Talk,” will start April 10th on station Q93 at nine o’clock.

The tourism council also is sticking to more traditional forms of media to get their story out.  Recently, Oxford was shown as a featured destination in Country Living.

“That’s a great publication, really targeted to people who want to visit Oxford,” said board member Nicole Boyd.

Oxford was also featured in the March/April addition of Triple A’s southern travel magazine.  That reached 200,000 members residing in the South.

The tourism council also got involved with “Taste of the South,” an event in D.C.  While the council will not be attending the event, one which sells 2,000 tickets annually, they were able to send a number of promotional items.

New additions have been brought to Oxford, such as free bus tours of the town.

The Double Decker Festival was also a large part of the meeting.  The event has gained a lot of buzz once again.  A press conference was just held, attracting 20 to 25 media stations.  Also, the use of Facebook and Twitter regarding the event was in the 90th percentile.  This possibly has to do with some changes that will be occurring for the festival this year.

This year, there should be many new faces regarding the food vendors.  Jensa Sushi is one of the new faces.  Most of the vendors are hoping to switch up their styles this year.

Yet, the festival is still in need of volunteers to run it.  The tourism council plans on going to the Ole Miss campus to find volunteers.  They will soon be talking to IMC and hospitality classes, hoping to gain some help.

Advertisement is still being worked on for the festival however.  Currently, there are only advertisements for the event in Delta Magazine.  Hedges said that she would look into doing an interview with WDBA radio.

New signage is also being added to various highways, hoping to attract for visitors to Oxford.  Oxford is partnering with New Albany, and MDot, to put a new sign on Faulkner scenic highway.

The tourism council went into a fifteen minute executive session, then the meeting was adjourned.

What Works : Detection of Waves in Space Buttresses Landmark Theory of Big Bang

Once again, Twitter has been a great platform for finding articles like this, by the New York Times.  The tweet read, “Detection of Waves in Space Buttresses Landmark Theory of Big Bang.”  Science always seems to be an interesting topic for readers, as they like to think about the unknown.  I clicked on the article immediately, instantly drawn in by the mention of the big bang theory, one that most children learn in middle school.  The article did take a bit of concentration to understand, since there is a great deal of scientific information, but with the addition of some cheat sheets, it was quite an interesting read.

This article is of course very timely.  The radio astronomers said that they saw the beginning of the big bang on Monday, March 17th.  It also certainly has impact, maybe not on everybody, but for the scientific community, this is a huge discovery.  This story also had an oddity factor to it.  It is not every day that a discovery like this is made.

This story uses a narrative lead.  It opens in 1979, talking about how Dr. Guth started his theory.  It progresses on to speak about the new information that has been found out about the big bang.  This is definitely a great way to ease into the hard news in this story.  Dr. Guth has been working on this for decades, and his work has hypothesis has finally been able to seem correct.

The fifth paragraph down is the nut graph of this story.  While it is a rather short paragraph it tells exactly what the news in this article is; that Dr. Guth’s hypothesis is indeed plausible.  The rest of the article then goes on to expand on how this hypothesis is right.

This story absolutely provides enough detail.  There are so many comments from scientists from all over, as well as a huge amount of scientific facts.  The article goes into great detail to explain to the reader what this finding means in general, as well as what it means to the scientific community.  I think the most astounding part of the story was, “Dr. Kovac said the chance that the results were a fluke was only one in 3.5 million — a gold standard of discovery called five-sigma.”  It really proves to the reader that indeed this hypothesis is right and this is a huge find.

This article had a vast number of sources.  They talked to Dr. Guth of course, as well as countless scientists of all kinds from various universities, such as John Hopkins, University of Chicago, Stanford and many more.  These scientists were also both team and non-team members on the project.

The story used a great graphic showing the different theories of inflation.  This was amazingly helpful to the reader.  This article is very heavy in scientific facts so having this information really breaks it down and makes the article more understandable.  I think if you needed to add another source of media to this article a soundbite would be good.  Having Dr. Guth talk about such a huge part of his life would be beneficial for the reader.

Ole Miss Barnes & Noble : Keeping the Business Afloat

While the age of print may be declining as a whole, Barnes and Noble is staying relevant as a company due to their college bookstores.

According to a press release from the company, their college revenue suffered a -.6 percent decrease from the third quarter of 2013, to the third quarter of 2014.  But, the company’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) has increased by 3.9 percent.

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(http://www.barnesandnobleinc.com/press_releases/2_26_14_bn_fy2014_3q_results.htm)

The third quarter felt the increase with the approaching of Spring semester for college kids.  “With students returning to class for the spring semester, higher margins helped college earnings rise 3.9 percent to $35 million dollars,” said Forbes.com on their website.

According to the Ole Miss branch of the store, they are still going strong.  “…unfortunately I can not speak of the business aspect of it [sales] other than we have had a good year and we hope that we, Barnes and Noble on the Ole Miss campus, continue to be able to serve the faculty, students, and the community as the number one bookstore,” said Laurie Woo, manager at the Barnes and Noble on Campus.

So why do college campus Barnes and Noble do so well?  With the rise of tablets, you would think that students would be switching over to digital editions.  Here at Ole Miss, that proves to not be the case, and students seem to always be purchasing their texts for class.

“I’ve never bought an e-edition of a book, it just doesn’t work for me, I need a book I can physically highlight and touch, basically something I can destroy,” said senior Sam Johnson

Destroying these books may not be an economical decision for these students.  Barnes and Noble makes a great deal on these books, adding hugely to the company’s profit.  For example, look at “Biology : The Essentials.”  This is a highly purchased book with non-biology majors.  At the Ole Miss Bookstore, the book can be purchased for $107.40 -143.20.  At an online booksellers, such as Amazon.com, the book can be purchased used for as little as $85.00.

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Yet, many professors give students the opportunity to buy an e-edition of a book.

“I do give my students the option to buy the hard copy, an e-version, or even to buy NO copy because we have a hard copy on reserve at the library,” said professor of biology, Dr. Tiffany Bensen, via email.

Some teachers are not concerned about cost.  Most professors choose books solely on their needs, and they leave it up to students to find the best deals on their texts.

“In the biology for non-majors classes, there are several of us teaching the class and we all use the same book, so it’s a group decision which book to use.  In that sense, we choose the book that we all agree is best for the class, with little regard to the cost,” said Bensen.

For many editions of books, the e-edition of a book is much cheaper.  Also, e-editions may be more convenient.  But for many students, as Johnson mentioned above, the use of an e-edition can be distracting and not beneficial.

If students can get books cheaper in other locations, why do they pay the extra?  One reason is convenience.

“I’m from the east coast, and honestly trying to pack my stuff was enough of a hassle, I didn’t need to worry about books too.  I mean if you can buy them on campus, why wouldn’t you?” said freshman Mackenzie Hines.

It is no secret that the print industry has been struggling for the past few years.  During this time, Barnes and Noble in particular has been under scrutiny for their decrease in sales, and many believe that the the Nook is the only thing saving them.

This in fact is inaccurate.  According to an article by Bloomberg Business Week, “Device sales dropped more than 50 percent, to $157 million, in the quarter, and digital content sales dropped 27 percent.”

This statistic is proving to be accurate with the amount of Ole Miss students still purchasing the hard copies of books.

Barnes and Noble on campus also is able to make a profit off other products.  The store offers school merchandise, ranging from clothing to game day face stickers.  They also sell school supplies.  These include cheap items, such as pens and pencils, and more expensive items, like calculators.

(Clip from Alex Able, a freshman at Ole Miss)

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What Works : Andover autistic boy gets global birthday wishes

Recently, I have been finding many what works articles via, Twitter, which is where I again found this one.  The headline really grabbed me.  Being from Massachusetts, I liked to still keep up with local events.  Andover is a city down the road from me, so seeing it in a global perspective definitely interested me.  The headline made it seem like it would be a feel good story, and I really wanted to read it and see what it was all about.

There are a couple factors that make this story newsworthy.  For myself, proximity was one, as I live so close to the town and it is near where I grew up.  For being in a Boston newspaper, this story absolutely had proximity.  It also has impact for a great number of people.  There are many families that have children with disabilities.  For these people, this story definitely has impact, and will make them feel good about their situation.  Finally, this story is a bit of an oddity.  It is not every day you read a story like this.  It’s not an everyday thing for people all over the world to send a little kid birthday presents.

I’d say that this story has a narrative lead.  Although it starts with a sentence, the author goes on to expand on this sentence.  The first paragraph also does not really convey the message of the story, and we get to this further down.  By using a narrative lead, the author is able to slowly get into detail about just how much of a birthday fanfare this boy received.

I would say that the nut graph of this story is the fourth paragraph down.  Although a short paragraph, this really shows what the story is going to be about.  It describes how soon, the family started to receive gifts from not just the local community, but all over the world.  By saying this, the author is able to expand on this and go into detail about what the boy was receiving and where from.

I think the story is great because of the detail, which there is certainly enough of.  The whole second half of the story is based on the gifts and acts of kindness that the little boy got.  I think the last paragraph, and the quote,‘‘The fact that this many people that we’ve never met before would take the time, and the energy, and the money for postage, and send a kid they don’t know — in some cases across the world — a card for his birthday, to me, that’s inspiring,’’ James Pearson said. ‘‘It just amazes me that people will do that,” is the best takeaway of the story.  It really hits the reader hard.  This quote shows how much these acts of kindness meant to the family, as well as how much of an impact this created for them.  It gives the reader a sense of happiness.

This story provided a few different sources.  The first were the parents of the boy.  This provided an inside source, and they were able to express the feelings of the entire family.  Their mailman was also interviewed.  I think this was a really smart choice of a source to use.  He provided the impact of the story.  ‘‘After the first day, I was getting handfuls of cards,’’ O’Connell said. ‘‘I didn’t know who Logan was at the time and was curious who he was. I started getting envious. I don’t get half these greetings.’’  This was a great quote, and showed how people involved in creating a great birthday for the boy felt.

There was unfortunately no multi media used.  A video would have been a great addition to this story.  If there was a video that panned around and showed all the gifts received, it would have been a really great way to show the impact.  Also, seeing the happiness on the families’ face would have been great.