What You Need to Know

Hello journalists!

Let me start off by reminding you of how lucky you are. You are in one of, if not the best, journalism classes in the country. And that is a lot more important than being in the best chemistry class or the best pre-calc class.

And here is why: journalism is much more than a class.

Now you are probably saying, “Evan, didn’t you learn not to use clichés in high school?”

Yes critical reader, I did. But I have evidence for that claim, lots of it.

Let us first start with what skills are required for journalism. A good journalist needs critical thinking skills, people to people skills and the ability to write well and concisely.

Translate that to the real world and you already have some of the most important skills available. You can solve problems, converse with people and then summarize with writing; pretty much the core skills for the work place.

Now let me tell you, Mr. Alvarez teaches this as well as anyone, actually a lot better. I will admit, I am biased. Mr. Alvarez (though he likes to keep this a secret) has very similar views on the world as I do, so of course I was drawn in. He also is funny, and so gosh darn handsome.

But his greatest attribute (and no, it’s not the flat top) is getting you to think. What is the key to this story? What people do I need to talk to? What really should go in the nut graf?

Listen, I have spent my first three weeks of college working my ass off for the paper here. You think Mr. Alvarez asks a lot? You are about as wrong as Mitt Romney. Just one story for the Panther takes hours to get sources for, research, interview, write, edit, edit, edit, and edit.

You can’t just go talk to Mrs. Colborn then swing into Coop’s office for a chat about the subject. You can’t interview your friends, your significant other or your cat. You have to stick your neck out there and talk to strangers. Not just talk to them, harass them for information.

And you think that Mr. Alvarez asks for a lot of long stories and grades them too critically? The bare minimum for this college newspaper is 500 published words each week, so at least one published story. You are missing a comma: there goes 10% of the story grade. You misspell a name (and they do check): zero points. You miss your deadline by a minute (I turned my story in yesterday with 16 seconds to spare): zero points.

I’m not trying to tell you that college writing is hard and you young whippersnappers have it so easy; I am telling you what you need to know.

So here it is: journalism is hard. I have wanted to throw my laptop into the wall after receiving edits (although in college you have other ways to relax yourself), I have wanted to  pawn the story off on someone else, I have wanted to just give up.

But the reward of taking a class and writing for a school newspaper is you get insight on the world that no other class can teach you. You are in a job, you have responsibilities that cannot just be ignored. You learn lessons that can be applied everywhere. And best of all, you meet awesome, cool and groovy people like your journalism teacher (I hope you have been watching these videos, there will be a test).

Even though the late Mr. Walker will turn over in his grave because of this cliché; keep working, it pays off in the end.

P.S. The real key to success as a staff writer is to have the attitude of the honey badger.

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Get Out and Vote

This will be the first year that I can vote, and I am very excited for it.

Most of my friends don’t understand why I would be excited and why I care so much, which usually ends with me calling them ignorant.

To set the scene, I have gone over the ballots with my parents for as long as I can remember. They were not trying to brainwash me; they always asked me what I though of a proposition or a candidate before they spoke their mind.

I learned to read the laws and understand them in a greater sense. It was always something I enjoyed and became excited about. I was much more likely to be conversing with my teachers about politics than my peers.

And now I am able to actually vote. It feels like a freedom to me, something that is meant to be cherished. As much as my friends may go on about it not mattering if one person votes, it does. Especially in the primaries, one vote does matter.

I feel that if more children were exposed to politics and encouraged to be informed even though they could not vote, we would have much higher turn outs.

After all, a democracy does not work without voter participation. If we want to keep the freedoms that we hold dear, we must have a voice as a people. That starts, and ends, with have a politically educated youth system.

Supercar Sunday

I get excited by cars. Most of my friends would tell you I get too excited by them, like in a dangerous way.

So naturally it was only right for me to indulge myself by visiting this lovely event called Supercar Sunday in Woodland Hills.

Let me start off by saying that most car shows are lame. They are usually just trying to make money by showing off regular cars with some tuning or old relics that most people don’t care about.

Supercar Sunday is different. Supercar Sunday is a bunch of people with veryyyyyyy nice cars that show up and park their cars so dumb teenagers like me can go look at them and get sexually excited.

They don’t charge, they aren’t selling anything, there is actually parking. This is a pure viewing experience of some of the greatest cars ever made.

There was a Ford GT40 (the real one), a real AC Cobra, more Caterham 7’s than you could believe. There was a Lotus Esprit, a Countach, and some Martini Porsches.

Then there were new cars like (every) modern Ferrari (minus the Enzo), tons of lambos, Aston Martins, 911s, Lotus’ (or is it Loti?) and even two Mp4-12C’s.

There were also some tuners and some cool oldies (MGs, a cool old Sprite, and some lovely Datsuns) that were fun to see.

It was incredible to walk among these cars and get to talk to people who have a real passion for them.

Thanks to a good idea from my friend, we decided to go sit at the corner as the cars started to leave. Holy crap was this a good idea.

Despite there being numerous cops watching every street (the drivers waved at them and rev’d their engines to say hello) it was cool to be able to hear all the V8s and V12s (and a couple of V10’s (yay lambo!). I couldn’t help but quiver every time a Ferrari V8 was rev’d and the sounds of clutches slipping filled the air.

This is a great event because it is run by people who love cars, not by people looking to make money. I didn’t pay a dollar and yet I got to have the best car viewing experience of my life. A major hat tip to those people that throw Supercar Sunday!

P.S. The best Sunday to go is the last one of the month, that is when it is really big. If you are anywhere near Woodland Hills and have any interest in cars, go! you won’t regret it.

The Joys of Journalism

I joined the journalism class my junior year of high school, doing it more because I liked the teacher rather than the subject. I was good at writing, or so I believed, so I thought I might as well.

But what I have gained from the class has been immense.

Although I thought I was a good writer, I definitely had room for improvement. I have learned how to be more concise as well as deep in my writing.

I have learned to be less superficial in my writing, using fewer words and finding more meaning.

One of the most important things that I have gained is the ability to get people’s story in a quick and effective way. It is not just interviewing techniques but learning to talk to people in a way in which their story is told most effectively.

I have learned the importance of stories, not just as a form of entertainment or news, but the importance to those who tell them and who are involved with them. I have learned that people like to tell their stories to those who are willing to listen.

Journalism is an art and a science. It is a way to show the world the way you see the world, the way you interpret the things around you, but it can also require a formula of sorts, a strategy.

Journalism is not only a great class to take in high school, it is a great subject to be involved with at any point in life, whether it be reading, writing or participating in some other manner.

Journalism is a key way that we communicate and express ourselves, and I thank everyone that has taught me about it.

This is the End

You may see a few other posts from my fellow OVS bloggers regarding our impending graduation.

What a trip it has been. I have been at OVS for six years and they have been fantastic.

Like at any other school, we bitch and moan about the problems, and there have been many. But when I look at the growth I have experienced and seen within my friends I realize what I have been given.

Going to a private boarding school as a day student can be tricky, but I have learned to play the game.

I have dealt with having a relative has my headmaster as well as having family intertwined with the school history.

My first day, the headmaster told me “I failed with your father, I failed with my son and goddammit, I’m not going to fail with you.”

Although I loath to concede anything to him, I will admit he has not failed. He has given me “character”, although the integrity may still need some work.

I should have been kicked out many, many times. I have thought about leaving even more times.

But endings change the picture. They throw out the individual memories and give you and overall feeling. I can say that the feeling I have is a positive one.

Although I am ready to leave, I appreciate what I have been given and greatly value that gift.

Espionage

I just finished watching the fantastic movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It is a mind bending movie but one that works the brain in the best way possible.

I must say, I have a weakness for spy movies, the realistic type (not like Mission Impossible crap). They are just so scintillating and exciting.

Although I was a tad confused at the end of the movie, I still enjoyed it and its fun to have a movie that keeps you thinking even once it is over.

But beyond the world of spy movies, there is the world of actual “intelligence” work.

I think it is such an interesting field, one that holds so much power and importance. We have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors and yet we are all aware that it is extremely important.

The amount of work that goes into behind a step ahead of everyone else, from enemies to allies, is absolutely incredible, and yet we have no idea what it is, only that it exists.

I think the people that work for groups like the CIA should be saluted for doing such unselfish work that aims to always keep ‘Merica on top.

The Importance of Competition

It is often said that I am too competitive, and this may very well be the case. However, I make the argument, time and time again, about the importance of competition.

You see, competition is what drives us to greatness. Intrinsic motivation, though powerful, hardly ever has the motivating power of external motivation. This is evolutionary, and has served us well.

Think of all the great thing that have come about due to competition; space travel, new building techniques and all the technology that has come from war.

Competition fuels us, pushing us to work harder and faster. This is how we advance, how we build.

Many people think of competition only regarding sporting events and such, but I know that I am personally motivated by competition in the classroom. I want to be the best in whatever I do.

And there is the key: being the best.

I feel that too many people do not push themselves, they simply sit back and let the world push them around.

I know this is inevitable, that some people will be more motivated by others. Yet I also feel that we have culturally shifted to allow for many more people to act passively while a smaller group controls them.

This “movement” may very well have to do why things are changing so quickly with things like the Occupy Movement and such.

So lets stand up and get motivated, because winning is just so fun.