Weather Feature Project: Winter Steals Second Base

As our group gathered to film for our weather feature project last week, during the final week of October, the leaves were at their peak and Fall was in the air. As we continued filming into the weekend, things took a drastic turn as Winter snuck up on New England (a difficult thing to do).

We then geared our project to document the sudden shift. We wanted to know about students both on and off campus who were affected by the calamity. We thought it was important to include the before and after effects of another example of New England’s crazy weather.

The early storm blasted previous snow levels out of the water as close to two feet of snow fell onto much of New England. The early storm produced heavy, wet snow that fell at rapid speeds onto trees that still had many of their leaves. The weight of both the leaves and snow was too much for trees to bear. Thousands of trees across from Pennsylvania to Maine fell, knocking over power lines and devastating the area.

The result was a Halloween without electricity which we will certainly remember.

As the snow fell on Saturday evening, group member Katie-Rose De Candia took out her camera at home to document the historic storm. We used this footage, Winter’s whiteness, as B roll for our video project. This is a stark contrast from the B roll we had filmed earlier in the week, a squirrel foraging for nuts amongst multi-covered leaves in the green grass.

And the shock of it all showed clearly in the interviews we obtained from Umass students. They told stories about downed trees and power lines, electrical light shows, Halloween festivities gone awry,  and multiple-day stretches without heat and electricity.

We weren’t ready for the snow, and usually snow preparation is what New Englanders do best. We put up snow fences and “winterize” our homes. We gather wood for fireplaces and prepare for Winter’s veracity. We hadn’t yet done any of those things.

“I didn’t even have my boots, yet,” as student Nate White pointed out.

And the lack of power made it difficult for us to actually film the storm. Luckily, De Candia’s home in the Berkshires maintained power throughout the storm, so she was able to utilize the technology at hand to capture the weather.

The timeliness of the project created a situation in which we found ourselves documenting historic weather amidst the most sudden shift between Fall and Winter New England has ever seen. Almost a week later, many remain without power. Slumber parties have become the norm this week on campus, as power-out off-campus student occupy the campus center and homes of students with restored power. The infrastructure has called out for reinforcements from all over the country. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and 13 counties in New York filed state of emergencies. The Red Cross has shown up to support the area by setting up a shelter in nearby Northampton. It is a storm that people will speak of for years to come.

Click here to view the project.


Images of Gaddafi

The markedly graphic images of the capture of Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, are all over the internet. We can see the wounded leader captured, sodomized, and beaten. We can see him dragged through the streets of Sirte with multiple gun shot wounds. And we can see his scarred and bloody corpse. We can see everything.

It certainly drives the point home. To see the rage of the rebel forces raw and uncut certainly makes you wonder what could make a nation of people so angry. To hear them screaming and see them pushing each other out of the way for a chance to injure him is disturbing. The blood is disturbing. It happened; it’s for real.

In theory, it is somewhat of a heroic story. In Gaddafi we find all of the necessary elements for evil. He overthrew a constitution and incited fear in his subjects. The Criminal Court in the Netherlands found him guilty of “crimes against humanity.” That is no small charge. And here you have rebel forces taking back the country and their freedom. It’s a glorious revolution. But all we see when we look for news about this revolution is Gaddafi’s abused corpse. That is certainly not a positive image, at least not for objective eyes.

The images surrounding the Libyan revolution certainly alters the American perspective. It can only mean good things when a tyrannical dictator is no longer in power, but the images surrounding the coverage leave us with an awful feeling in the pits of our stomachs. In the past, we could easily dismiss a disturbing statement in the news as a means to an end, but when we can actually see the end, it changes the story.

Online research: quality vs. junk

With the internet in full swing, the world is at your fingertips. You can pretty much find anything on the internet, and it’s not that difficult to find. This makes sifting through the junk sources ever more important.

The clue to quality that I always look for is transparency. How difficult is it to find the author? In order to use a site as a source you must be able to easily find out where the information came from.

And it always helps to stick with the sources you know. One can trust that the information provided in well-known, well-documented texts is about as good as it gets. Such sites have built a reputation and they are openly accountable for their work.

In the Peak Oil section of the Ithaca College Library web site evaluation assignment, there are 5 sites to evaluate. may promote education in their articles, but it is important to note that the site has a political agenda: save the environment. If we are looking for information on peak oil, we have to consider whether the information is biased or not.

The Oil Drum also seems to have a political agenda, but at least all the facts are right out in the open. The information is mostly data and graphs. However, I am still more likely to source the source of their information before I source their work.

Don’t Tread on Me is clearly far too biased to source. It may be good and motivating literature, but it is too subjective to cite for purposes of research. The headline of the page is: “Freak out America! Peak oil is here.”

The article on HuffPost cites all of its information and comes from a well-known source; it seems to be acceptable.

The information on the Information Clearing House is very questionable. It looks like it was copied and pasted from a propaganda brochure.



Troy Davis executed regardless of “doubts”

After 22 years of pleading his innocence, Troy Davis was executed late Wednesday for the murder of Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail, splaying open the debate over lethal injection.

In the weeks before his death, Davis rallied support from thousands of Americans. Protestors gathered across the country, even locally in Amherst, carrying signs that said “I am Troy Davis,” and “too much doubt.”

And doubt appears to be a prominent subject in the discussion. Many of the witnesses that originally testified against Davis have sine retracted their statements, claiming that they are pressured into claims against Davis. Some witnesses have also come forward to say that there was another man at the scene.

Since the eye-witness testimony was integral to Davis’ conviction, and it appears to have fallen apart, anti-death penalty groups (such as Amnesty International) have taken this flagship opportunity to show how people can be put to death with too little evidence.

The family of late officer MacPhail feel that finally, after two decades, they are on their way towards feeling a sense of peace. They have  stood by, watching appeal after appeal, waiting for this execution. They do not acknowledge Davis’ claim of innocence; they are sure of his guilt. And so is the prosecution.

Whether Davis was guilty or not, Americans are questioning the death penalty because of this case. To hear a man, doomed to die, maintaing his innocence, makes you think, “this could happen to me; I could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

I would like to briefly acknowledge the moral dilemma, here. If we are punishing alleged murderers by murdering them in turn, does that not make us hypocritical? Are we not then murderers ourselves?

Some would say say yes, others no. The death penalty has prevailed for centuries in one way or another, as a form of “justice.” The families of murder victims claim that it gives them a sense of peace to know that the person that killed their loved one has reached the same fate and is no longer walking the streets. Others stand by the death penalty for strictly economic reasons, claiming that there is no reason to pay for a murderer to live their life sentences in prison when we can put them to death.

Regardless of the perspective, all these questions have left a bad taste in America’s mouth.


Hi there,

Let’s help each other. As a senior-year journalism student, I am working on my professional voice. In order for me to get my practice in, I need serious readers like yourselves. Feedback helps.

Let’s have fun. With my work at, my serious tone is coming into play. And there will be some of that here, as well. However, I would like to use this blog to help me develop my more playful, yet analytic style. And let’s not forget about all the fun pictures and videos I will be posting.


Digitally yours,