March 21, 2011

Social Networking Media Boosts Non-Profit Awareness

Posted in Media at 1:17 pm by brittanylschmidt

With the innumerable catastrophes and life altering news stories happening worldwide, it has been impossible to not see them blogged, tweeted, or face booked.  These media sources have helped provide a significant portal for individuals to fight for their rights as well as for celebrities to promote charities.

Due to the outrageous hoards of people who flock to twitter and other social networking sites, these non-profit groups are becoming mainstream as more people follow and support them.

According to Josh Catone, Mashup Feature Editor, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes stated that more than 75,000 reports of the Haiti earthquake in January 2010 were streamed across news sources and “the content was horrific, but ultimately galvanizing”. These news stories posted on Twitter and Facebook raised $1.3 billion dollars, eventually donating $31 million via text message.

This new outreach created new ways to use social networking in non-profit organizations.  Hughes is currently developing a Facebook-like sight, which will allow Internet goers, the ability to search for, follow, and support organizations, such as the one for the Haiti earthquake.

Hughes states “We feel that it’s imperative to make it easy for everyday people… to take action”.

More recently, social media has been at the center of the devastation that has happened in Japan. Specifically with twitter, celebrities and average citizens have been pushing for donations via the Red Cross.

Mark Hoppus, member of Twitter, tweets “horrible what’s happening in Japan.  You can text   REDCROSS to 90999 to send $10 to relief efforts.  Thoughts and prayers.”

It is clear that social networks have played a large role in relief efforts and celebrities on the Internet have seen even stronger efforts with the endorsement of non-profit organizations. Alicia Keys, who started Keep A Child Alive,” promotes AIDS awareness and suggests celebrities give up social media for a day to improve fundraising for this cause.  Several celebrities have agreed to raise one million dollars for HIV and AIDS research during this time.

Without social networks, it would be impossible for celebrities to fight for campaigns they are fervently involved with. TwitChange.com, a place for celebrities to hold auctions for personal phone calls or to be followed on twitter, has raised thousands of dollars for such charities as AHomeInHaiti and Operation Once in a Lifetime.

This auction site allows for these great causes to be supported by celebrities and fans alike, while celebrities get to give back to those fans who love and follow them. Celebrities auction themselves, offering a reTweet, follow or @Mention to those who give money. All the money is donated to a charity of the celebrities’ choice.

Ava Longoria was the spokesperson for the first auction and all of her proceeds went to AHomeInHaiti, which is a non-profit organization that provides safe shelters for those who lost their homes in Haiti.  Troy Polamalu quickly joined the fight donating his proceeds to Operation Once in a Lifetime, which helps to make the dreams of military personnel and their families come true.

TwitChange’s newest campaign is called Care, which is set up to help 12-year-old girls escape poverty by becoming educated instead of getting married by age 14.

Without public media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, there would be less awareness of important causes that urgently need donations.  Social networking has created a platform where people feel comfortable displaying the causes that are dear to them to increase public awareness.

The popularity of Twitter alone makes it a perfect place for celebrities to promote their favorite charity without much effort using only 140 keystrokes.

With the busy lives of celebrities, Twitter is an easy money-giving platform where celebrities can entice followers to donate and help organizations without having to be part of a large photo-shoot or add campaign.

Some other non-profit organizations have caught on to the Twitter phenomenon and have begun to create their own verified accounts to help spread their cause. Some of these include the NOH8 campaign, Save the Children and the JoinRed to fight AIDS.  These              organizations have benefited greatly from the social media that is Twitter.

Today people question the validity of social networking, suggesting that it is a waste of time and what could one possible gain from stalking a celebrity.  The use of these networks for non-profit and charity purposes make up for any negative publicity they have gotten.  Without Twitter, several great causes would fall to the way side and become endeavors of the past.  With Twitter and other social networking media growing, non-profit organizations prepare for a future of increased donations and awareness as more people step up to end disease, hunger, poverty, and disaster.

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Viral Videos: Good or Bad?

Posted in Media at 1:17 pm by brittanylschmidt

With the ease of uploading a video or piece of news within minutes, it is no wonder why the Internet has become a main source for information seekers.   As younger generations become savvy with technology and receive instant news updates, the day old newspaper stories are becoming obsolete.  Due to the size of the Internet and the amount of news outlets, the truth may become a bit lost.   People are starting to use viral videos, videos that become popular through internet sharing, as their main source of news, which can lead to misinterpretation of content.

Giordano Bruno, Neithercorp Press Journalist, said, “Nothing is perfect, including the web.  There will always be disinformation to sort through, regardless of any new technology or regulation.”

Journalists are described as flawless individuals who broadcast news with ease and grace.  When a journalist drops a line or fumbles words on air, most people will want to watch it over and over again because they enjoy laughing at someone else’s expense.  Because it is so rare to see media professionals mess up on-air, the video is often over-publicized and instantly posted online for anyone to access within minutes.

A viral video was quickly broadcasted on the Internet just minutes after Serene Branson, who works for a local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, stumbled over her words and slurred her speech.  People instantly started viewing this video, making comments about her being on drugs and laughing about her blooper on television.  The fact that this reporter’s disturbing video went viral with over a million hits demonstrates a high demand for Internet-based media.

According to Las Angeles Times,Branson was immediately compared to Caitlin Upton.  She was Miss South Carolina Teen USA in 2007 well-known for her rambling, illogical answer to a question posed by the pageant.  This video became viral, giving her a nervous rambling stigma.  Viewers thought Branson was just having the same problem and were quick to judge her incoherent words as incompetence.

Even though the video made for a good laugh, the reason for the reporter’s slurred speech is definitely not a laughing matter.  Medically trained professionals were concerned she had suffered a neurological episode, while others joked about her on national television.

It took awhile for the truth to influence the media because people were still focused on the humor in the video.

The viral video immediately gave Branson a stigma and labeled her as a flawed reporter.  She was seen as a nervous reporter who couldn’t handle being on national television.   Because the video was immediately put on the Internet with no context, it misinformed the audience and skewed their opinion of Branson.

Due to the fact viral videos are uploaded so quickly, not much time is allotted for the truth to surface.  The video showed Branson stumbling over words and looking a bit confused about what was happening. Because this information was not given with the video, it is easy to see how many people thought it was funny.

The Early Show interviewed Branson after her incident, where she admitted she didn’t know her video was on YouTube.

Branson said, ” I spoke with my friend, and I didn’t have any idea at that point because, obviously, work and my family were so concerned about my health at that point. But my friend said something about seeing it on the news. And I said, ‘the news?’ And even at that point I said, ‘Gosh, I hope it doesn’t make it on YouTube.’”

Without Branson realizing it was on YouTube, she was nervous of what people would think about what had happened to her on live television.

As this viral video misinformed the audience and skewed their opinion of Branson as a professional reporter, videos have been made to increase awareness of neurological diseases.  Advertisements have been created with a ‘Strokes No Joke’ message to show how serious and prevalent strokes are.  Strokes are the third leading cause of death in America and require immediate medical attention.

There is little evidence to show these new advertisements are related to Branson’s viral video, but it does show that viral videos are not always misleading and can be quite influential.  Many advertisers want to create a viral video to reach large amounts of people at one time and relay an important message.

Although viral videos are not always misleading, viewers need to be suspicious of the content they are being exposed to.

Viral videos may be popular because of the instant news available to viewers, but can be misleading without extra context given.  As previously mentioned, Branson’s television blooper was not due to drugs, but a neurological mishap.

Next time you read about a viral video with over one million hits, determine for yourself if that video is worth watching and has value beyond scope of a quick laugh.  With the amount of media sources now available it is up to the reader to ensure that the news and videos they are watching are accurately depicting the subject matter within them.  This in an important step in keeping viral videos relevant and helping the  growing media giants like YouTube to report important news and events quickly to the masses.

Twitter Changes Advertising

Posted in Media at 2:43 am by brittanylschmidt

For the average person, tweeting seems like a normal past time. A place where you can share specific details about what you are doing and where you are at any time of the day. Well for some lucky people, tweeting has earned them access to V.I.P parties, free trips, and shopping sprees.  Companies are contacting specific individuals who tweet positive things about their organization and offering them prizes because they are seen as influential advertisers for the company.

Over 106 million people are accessing Twitter on a daily basis to tweet about personal feelings, local events, and places traveled.  Twitter is quickly gaining popularity, adding around 300,000 new users every day.  When people tweet about great restaurants, they are not only sharing with their friends and family, but are also advertising for that specific restaurant. Because the clients use their tweets for positive recommendations, companies are quickly realizing that twitter can improve business and be used as a new means of advertisement.

For many companies, advertising is an expensive but necessary aspect of an organization.  Companies spend a large amount of money advertising on multiple mediums, such as television, online and newspapers.

A company can spend up to $1,800 a month for advertising online.

According to Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, online advertising provides marketers with a false sense of security and may be costing them more than they think.

Due to the cost of advertising, companies have been relying on the average person to do some of their online advertising.  Twitter allows anyone to express their feelings and viewpoints about anything.  Many people use Twitter to comment on restaurants they have visited, organizations they use, or places they have traveled. In 140 characters, they tweet a specific message about how the company has benefited them or their true thoughts about the services offered.

Although the tweeters don’t think they are doing anything important, marketers see it as a new way of free advertising.

Marketers are starting to see the impact and influence that Twitter has on society.  When people tweet something online, the message can be instantaneously  viewed by thousands of people for free.  Twitter is a fast and free advertising platform that can be highly influential if used correctly.  The influence of a message depends on the reliability of the person who creates the tweet.  Many people who tweet have followers that trust their judgment and are more likely to follow in their footsteps.

For example, if a famous person tweets about a fabulous latte they just bought at Starbucks, their followers are more likely to buy that same latte to test it out.  Because marketers are taking advantage of specific people based on their followers and influence on others, the company’s attributes are being delivered to a larger audience by a more reliable source.

Friends will trust their friend’s judgment more than anyone else.

Although advertisers are using specific people on Twitter to help increase awareness of their company, the people are receiving major compensation for their work on Twitter.  Many people are being rewarded with shopping sprees and an invitation to elite V.I.P. parties.  Through these prizes, the companies are showing their gratitude and respect for those who help them.

For most companies it is much more cost-effective to reward the average person for their support than to create advertisements themselves.

Based on the large community on Twitter, the rewards that companies offer to those who are advertising on Twitter are encouraging others to do the same.  “Their efforts have ignited a race among social-media junkies who, eager for perks and bragging rights, are working hard to game the system and boost their scores,” said Jessica E. Vascellar, New York Times Journalist.  “So much for wealth, looks or talent.  Today, a new generation of VIPs is cultivating coolness through the world of social media.  Here, ordinary folks can become “influential” overnight depending on the number and kinds of people who follow them on Twitter.”

The game has only begun for most influential tweeters.  As the companies continue to offer prizes to those who tweet about them, the competition is only going to get better and better.

This new competition will lead to better content being created, more participants and better prizes.

If the content is better, than the information people are getting is more influential.  Companies have found a new creative way to take advantage of Twitter.  It is a win-win situation for the companies and the tweeters.  The tweeters gain new followers and prizes, while the companies increase their advertisement for free.

schmkm latest tweet:  Check out the amazing restaurant Kavarna in Green Bay, WI! I suggest the cheesy artichoke wrap. Here is the website:http://www.kavarna.com

March 20, 2011

New York Times Charges for Content

Posted in Media at 7:19 pm by brittanylschmidt

Since 1704, the American Newspaper has been a staple in society, informing generation after generation at a low price.  Although the newspaper is more likely to be read online now, the low-cost continues to be expected.

News can be accessed from a multitude of mediums, including smart phones, internet, and television, which is leading to a decline in Newspapers.  According to Joseph Plambeck, a New York Times Journalist, “In the last year, circulation at The New York Times dropped 5.2 percent on Sunday, to 1.4 million copies, and 8.5 percent on weekdays, to 950,000.”

Due to the economy and reduced circulation of printed newspapers, The New York Times is planning on charging readers for online prescriptions.  They will be shifting their focus from advertisers to loyal readers, hoping they will pay for the news content.  It won’t affect those who subscribe to the print form only those who read their content specifically on the internet.   The average person will be able to read 20 articles a month for free, but beyond those articles they will have to pay. Publishers want to focus on the most loyal and profitable readers, rather than converting new readers.

Jeremy Peters, a New York Times Journalist, said many readers and bloggers were happy to finally pay for their frequent use of the New York Times Website while others said it was a dangerous step with the digital age and the approach would be doomed to fail.

The plummeting economy has caused a decrease in print advertising, leading to less ad revenue and new income sources.  To be successful with this new approach, executives studied other business models that require users to pay, including weight watchers and iTunes.  They have decided to make it a flexible plan, so that when breaking news is relevant, the content will be free for everyone.  According to Peters, Jill Abramson, managing editor for news, said,

“I believe that our journalism is very worth paying for.  In terms of ensuring our future success, it was important to put that to the test.”

Many executives believe they have to try this model out to test how many online subscribers they get, which they are hoping to be around 300,000.

Although New York Times thinks this is the right business move, other newspapers are showing their skepticism. According to Peters, Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, “At the moment, I can’t see any evidence of a general interest newspaper making a success of this.  I think financial journalism is the one exception to the rule because the information is of value, and it’s time-critical. If I can know something five minutes before you do because I have a subscription to The Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal and you don’t, that’s of value.”

Other newspapers are not the only ones who are worried about the shift.  According to Richard Perez-Pena, a New York Times Journalist,” Successful media companies go after audience first, and then watch revenues follow; failing ones alienate their audience in an attempt to maximize short-term revenues.”  He believes that this new pay model will make the readers feel taken advantage of and possibly look elsewhere for news.

In the past, the Times tried a paid subscription plan for readers called TimesSelect. It charged for access to popular opinion columnists and brought in around $10 million dollars of revenue.  The company executives thought TimesSelect restricted access to the site for more potential readers, so they decided to end it.

According to New York News & Features, the New York Times want to remain free because it is growing into an English global newspaper, with a large amount of international readers. Tom Friedman, a New York Times columnist who wrote during the time of TimesSelect, said,

“As we got into it, it was clear to me I was getting cut off from a lot of my readers in India and China where 50 dollars per year would be equal to a quarter of college tuition.  What was coming to me anecdotally from my travels was the five worst words that as a columnist you ever want to hear: ‘I used to read you before you went behind the wall.’”

There will be advantages and disadvantages to the New York Times subscription plan that will be issued later this month.  Those in favor of it believe they have found a new revenue source through loyal online readers paying for a subscription. Others are worried international readers will no longer read the New York Times online and reduce the number of readers all together.

It is hard to say what a paid subscription for the New York Times will do to the future of the newspaper.

Will the New York Times become an elitist type of paper, where only certain people are reading the content because others are not willing to pay?  Or will other newspapers follow in their footsteps and create an online subscription?  It is hard to say whether or not this business idea will work, but it is clear that the online charge has plenty of praise and opposition. There is a global understanding that access to news should be a right and not a privilege.   For several other sources of online news that remain without subscription fees, their articles may begin to mainstream as people shy away from purchasing online news.  Why pay for news when you can get it elsewhere for free?

March 18, 2011

Advertising Affects Children

Posted in Media at 5:50 am by brittanylschmidt

With an increased amount of advertising, due to a multitude of resources, girls are more influenced by media. Whether browsing the Internet, reading a magazine or watching Saturday morning cartoons, you are likely to be exposed to controversial and sexualized advertising.  The study Images of Female Children in TV Commercials’ indicates that in an hour of Saturday morning television there are 33 commercials.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), these ads have a negative affect on a girls’ self-image. Dr. Eileen L. Zurbriggen, APA Task Force Chair, said, “consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development.  We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”

People have questioned why advertisement even uses such sexualized women in commercials and ads and the answer is simply sex sells.  Roy D’Silva of buzzle.com said,

“A major percentage of advertisements for condoms, sexual objects and to an extent personal effects like deodorants, perfumes tip toe on the thin line between intelligent advertising and controversial advertising.”

This can be seen in the new Axe body wash and body spray commercials.  The most recent commercial shows Victoria Secret-like models dressed as sexy angels who decide to leave heaven to be with a man who has just sprayed Axe on.  Axe commercials have been banned from television because of their persuasive sexual nature.

These commercials can make girls feel self-conscious about their bodies and cause a lack of self-esteem, which commonly leads to depression and eating disorders.

In Girl Talk, Kelsey, a 16-year-old girl said,  “They have ads of how you should dress and what you should look like and this and that, and then they say, ‘but respect people for what they choose to be like.’ Okay, so which do we do first?”  These statistics, paired with the opinions of young girls wanting to be thinner and prettier, can be easily linked to what girls are exposed to by the media.

As advertising continues to become more seductive and sexual, anthropologist David Murray worries, “Our culture is to a large extent experimenting with eroticizing the child.”

Large companies are unlikely to tone down the sexuality in their advertisements, so other steps must be taken in other aspects of media to positively influence the youth of America.  Sociologist, Dr. Chineze J. Onyejekwe, said,

“Formulating and applying ethical codes for the communications media and for advertising might go a long way in promoting respect and common good.  However, confronting the negative effects of the new media on women requires focusing on the entire spectrum of media representations that limit, demean or degrade women.”

If the content broadcasted or printed is regulated, there is a good chance the media will start to encourage American teens to love their bodies.

If the advertising agencies don’t try to redirect the focus of their advertisements and make them more girl friendly, there will need to be additional resources that girls can look to for inspiration and role models.  “Schools should teach media literacy skills to all students and should include information on the negative effects of the sexualization of girls in media literacy and sex education programs,” said the American Psychological Association, according to Stefan Anitei.

“As a society, we need to replace all of these sexualized images with ones showing girls in positive settings-ones that show the uniqueness and competence of girls. The goal should be to deliver messages to all adolescents-boys and girls-that lead to healthy sexual development.”

If children were taught about the affects of advertisements and how unrealistic they can be, they would develop a tolerance and be able to decide what is real and what is fake.  Specifically in the media, younger girls don’t understand pictures of models are manipulated to make them look skinnier or prettier, making them think they should look that way.  If children were exposed to these advertising schemes in advance, they would not be as influenced or manipulated by them.  It is important for advertising companies in the media world to have a deep interest in the children of America because these children are going to become the faces of their advertising firms and C.E.O.’s of their profitable corporations.  Hopefully these companies want confident, healthy and well-rounded individuals to fill these positions.

March 6, 2011

Thank A Soldier!

Posted in News at 5:23 am by brittanylschmidt

While freedom of speech is a natural-born right for all citizens of America, many have been disappointed with those who take advantage of it in the wrong way.  On March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to Freedom of Speech, siding with a group of Westboro Baptist church members in Kansas who hold anti-gay protests at soldier funerals.  The Supreme Court will not allow the members of the church to be sued because they are protected under the First Amendment, which includes the right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly.

In 2006, Albert Snyder sued a Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas for disgracing his son’s funeral, who was an Iraq soldier killed at the age of 20. The Baptist church members held an anti-gay protest just outside the funeral area holding signs that read, “Thank God for dead soldiers.”  These protesters have been traveling around the U.S. protesting in multiple different states surrounding fallen soldier funerals.

Snyder was originally granted $5 million dollars, but was quickly reversed when the members of the church insisted they were practicing their First Amendment.  According to David Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. insisted that if the protests are conducted in a peaceful manner, they are protected and there is nothing they can do.

“Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro.  It is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible. But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner.”- Roberts

The members of Westboro Baptist church think soldiers are being killed because God is trying to get revenge on the ills of American society.  Fred Phelps and Margie Phelps are the leaders of the church and strongly believe this nation has crossed every line of God’s standards and are trying to uphold the standards of God through anti-gay protesting.

“When you have a public funeral and you broadcast to the nation that dead soldier is a hero and that God is blessing America, we will be there and tell you that God is cursing America.”- Margie Phelps

As an American, I understand that our freedom and liberties did not come at a low price.  Our history has shown that thousands of soldiers have given their lives to protect this country and preserve the rights of every American citizen, specifically Freedom of Speech.  The freedom to stand up and speak about what you believe in, but what happens when people use their freedom of speech to disgrace those who fought for it?

I cannot even begin to explain how disgusted I feel after reading about Westboro Baptist church members view of America.

I don’t understand how they can dishonor and disgrace soldiers who have given their lives for their freedom, so that they can have the right to speak and protest.

I urge you to watch this video about the protestors and develop your own opinion after hearing the hateful words directly from the Baptist church members mouth. It hurts the worst to see them smile while saying these negative things.  

It seems completely contradictory and ignorant of them to fight against those who gave them their rights in the first place.

It is really hard to justify the Supreme Court ruling on this lawsuit.  No one should have to go through what Albert Snyder’s family went through trying to give their son a peaceful burial.  I think the Freedom of Speech needs to be protected, but it seems immoral and  disrespectful to allow anti-gay protestors to speak their mind at a fallen soldiers funeral.  These soldiers should be held to the highest respect and thanked for serving our country and protecting our freedom.

Wisconsin, along with Indiana, Oklahoma, and Missouri, passed laws limiting protests at funerals.  Many other states are looking into passing laws but want to make sure they are compliant with the First Amendment.

These protesters have left a horrible imprint on the minds of family and friends after disgracing their loved one at  peaceful funeral services.  No ones funeral should ever be interrupted by angry, American hating soldiers, especially those who have fought to keep America safe.  I understand the Supreme Court was protecting the First Amendment of the Westboro Baptist church protestors, but I wish they could have done something else.

My father has taught me to thank and respect those who have fought for this country.

When he sees a soldier walking through a store, he makes it his job to thank them and tell them they are greatly appreciated.  I urge everyone to do the same!

February 27, 2011

Obama Fights for LGBT Equality

Posted in News at 5:18 am by brittanylschmidt

When President Obama took office in 2008, he created a gay-rights agenda that would fight for equal rights for the LGBT Community.  While the LGBT Community is starting to see Obama’s promises come true, such as repealing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell‘ policy and passing the Matthew Shepard’s Hate Crimes Act, his new decision to stop support of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 gains more support and hope from LGBT Community than ever before.

You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.-President Obama

Late this month, Obama declared the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which bans recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages, as unconstitutional and urges the Justice Department to stop defending it in court.

According to Charlie Savage and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times journalists, Obama favors civil unions and maintains a nuanced position on same-sex marriages.  Same-sex advocates suggest that Obama will soon embrace their cause due to his administrations new stance.  John Aravosis, founder of Americablog.com, said,

“I think the gay community got to him. I’m not convinced we got to his heart, but I think we got to his political head.”

I think John Aravosis is correct when he says the gay community has Obama’s political mind because Obama is continuing to support and aid the LGBT Community in many different ways. However, I don’t think it is correct to say they don’t have his heart.  Even if the LGBT Community doesn’t have his whole heart, they still have his unwavering support, which I think is much more important.

Yes, I do think Obama has a good heart and cares deeply for this country, but the important thing to remember is he believes in equal opportunity for all, no matter what your gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation happens to be.

Obama has gone above and beyond to promote the LGBT Community because he believes in this country and that discrimination against gays and lesbians needs to end.  Although he has not distinctly said he supports same-sex marriages, it is not something to dwell on because he has been more than willing to help the LGBT Community and end discrimination against them.

I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples.- President Obama

In October 2009, Obama gave a speech at Human Rights Campaign Dinner addressing the progress of equal opportunity for LGBT Community.  During this speech, he talked about the different opportunities and plans he wants to incorporate into his presidential term.  He plans to pass an inclusive employee non-discrimination bill, arguing that no one should be fired because they are gay.

I once again argue against John Aravosis’s claim that the LGBT Community has Obama’s political support, but not his heart.  I think this short passage from his speech reaffirms that Obama does care and completely understands the LGBT Community.  Obama talks about the Human Rights Campaign policy and how it is about more than any policy they can make into a law.

It’s about our common humanity and our willingness to walk in someone else’s shoes: to imagine losing a job not because of your performance at work but because of your relationship at home; to imagine worrying about a spouse in the hospital, with the added fear that you’ll have to produce a legal document just to comfort the person you love to imagine the pain of losing a partner of decades and then discovering that the law treats you like a stranger.- President Obama.

This passage shows more than President Obama believing in equal opportunities for all, but his understanding of the way these laws affect people.  He realizes how hard it would be to lose a job based on sexual orientation or not be able to comfort a sick spouse in the hospital.  I think this shows that Obama not only supports the LGBT Community, but also has the heart and determination to change it.

Although Obama has planned on helping the LGBT Community since his first day in office, some conservatives think he is trying to shift the attention from spending cuts to social causes.  This is a biased way to look at the progress that President Obama has made for this country.

A president should not focus on one problem, fix it, and then move onto the next one.  A good president should be working on multiple problems within society at one time.

Just because he is working on ending discrimination towards the LGBT Community, doesn’t mean he forgot about the economic issues.

I think Obama is a president who knows how to multi-task and realizes that many issues need to be handled all at once, rather than one at a time.

I believe President Obama is doing the right thing and I completely support him for  his fight against hate, discrimination, and intolerance.  I believe everyone deserves equal opportunity no matter what your sexual orientation might be.  There is no doubt in my mind that a world of acceptance will bring a better economic and political future.

February 21, 2011

Thanks Presidents’ Day, the protesting shall continue…

Posted in News at 2:55 am by brittanylschmidt

Protesting at the Capitol for a week straight, check.  Calling in sick to school to protest, check.   Classes getting canceled to march down State Street, check.  Camping out at the Capitol over night, check.  Democrats leaving the state, check.  Presidents’ Day as a school holiday equaling more protest….CHECK!

I thought the protest was supposed to last for three days and then a final vote on Friday.  The protest has lasted six days and no one knows how much further it will go.  We have found multiple ways to keep this protest going until we get what we want.

For the past week, we have been sleep deprived, uncomfortably squeezed in tight places,enduring cold rainy weather, and yet we are still here.

I am sure all the Republicans thought they would get their building back considering school is starting up again tomorrow.  Well, teachers may have found a way to beat the system again.

I can’t recall a time that Presidents’ Day was seen as a school holiday in which we all got school off.  Well, some school districts recognize Presidents’ Day as a school holiday and will be getting the day off.  Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, urges those who have off to come join the protest.

Over the past week, history has been in the making.  Protests up to 25,000 people have stormed the Capitol in protest of Governor Scott Walkers bill to limit union bargaining power.  Union workers have worked for these rights for a long time and what Scott Walker plans to do  is cruel and heartless.  I think everyone understands the state of the economy and the budget deficit Wisconsin is facing, but this is not the right way to go about it.

I attended the protests on Thursday, February 17th for a couple of hours.  Hearing about all the rallying and protesting in my classrooms got me pumped up to join the action.  After class, I rushed over to the Capitol.  Seeing the signs held high walking down State Street was a really neat sight to see.

But nothing compares to how I felt standing in the middle of thousands of people chanting, “Kill the Bill!”

It sent shivers all the way up my back.  It was so empowering to be with a large group of people fighting for the right cause.  To save unions and fight against Walker’s plan.

I think it is incredible that our protesting encouraged the Democrats  to leave the state  until Walker is willing to negotiate.  Apparently Walker thought otherwise and responded quite differently.  Walker said, “Democracy is not about hiding out in another state.  It’s about showing up here in the capital and making the case there, and for us, we’re willing to take this as long as it takes. Walker is taking away bargaining rights without letting people have a say, how is that a democracy?  Apparently he thinks the definition of Democracy doesn’t mean a government by the people.

After being in the Capitol for an exciting five hours, my friends and I decided to take our signs outside.  As soon as we got outside, a fireman parade was starting.  The streets immediately went silent as the fireman walked past.   I stood next to a man who said,

” I have been a teacher for 38 years and this is the proudest I have ever been.”

Scott Walker should be thanking us for being a relatively peaceful group of people. I don’t have any evidence of a fight or violence breaking out during these past few days of protests, other than angry word battles between supporters and protesters.  With a crowd mixed of children, students, parents, teachers, grandparents, and union workers, the protest has been for the most part respectable.

Scott Walker is not only hurting the teachers, but also their students.  Because teachers are not able to receive all their benefits, they may look for jobs at other universities.  This upsets me because I am paying to come here, to The University of Wisconsin for an outstanding education.  If my teachers are leaving, the reputation of this school will decline and lose its credibility.  Teachers have canceled classes in protest and 260 UW faculty members have signed a letter in support of collective bargaining rights.

I just can’t see any positive coming out of this bill passing.

I think professors are in a rough spot right now.  They are constantly being reminded to do their job.  Go to class, prepare a lecture, and proceed with daily appointments.  But how can you go about your day knowing that your job is in jeopardy?  Should I have class and act like my mind is all there or should I protest at the Capitol to fight for my rights to bargain as a Union member?  This question has been asked a lot lately and I am curious how the teachers are going to respond this week.

Head over to this link and check out this video from the Ed Schultz Show. It highlights the protest and what the people in Wisconsin stand for.  This is what Democracy looks like!

February 13, 2011

Hooray for V-Day!

Posted in News at 4:42 pm by brittanylschmidt

Although today is Valentine’s Day, many only celebrate with chocolate and cards from a loved one.  Well, V-Day can be celebrated for a multitude of reasons.  Today, is the celebration of V-Day, the global movement to stop violence against women.

According to V-day, their goal is to create dialogue and shatter taboos around violence against women and girls through thousands of events in over 140 countries.


In 1994, Eve Ensler wrote a play called, “The Vagina Monologues.”  It is a compilation of monologues that were gathered through interviews with women around the world.  They are true stories of women who have been affected positively and negatively from having a vagina and being a women.  Since 1998, Eve has allowed groups around the world to perform the Vagina Monologues in order to educate and get others involved.

The University of Wisconsin took advantage of this once-a-year opportunity and reproduced, “The Vagina Monologues,” by Eve Ensler at the Union this past weekend.  Here is a video created by the women who were involved in reproducing the show this year.

Jenny, an actress in the play, said, “I think there are a lot of things in here everybody secretly thinks about but never talk about, women especially, and then never talk about with men and I think it is time that people talk about these things out loud.”

Many women have been subjected to sexual assault through vaginal abuse.  Acccording to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, one in six women will be sexually assaulted as opposed to one in 33 men.

College women are four times more likely to be sexually abused.

Because the title has the word vagina in it, men may find it unnecessary to read the book.  Many assume it has a strong feminist attitude that bashes men.  It is important to note that the script doesn’t play favorites, it focuses on female empowerment — something that deserves encouragement from both men and women.

While this book has a feminist viewpoint behind it, the voice of the play is not the overwhelming feminist tone that most people think about.  To some, feminism accompanies the vision of a bra -burning, radical and butch woman who refuses to shave her legs.

Well for others, feminism refers to women who are confident in themselves.  Women who not only believe in women’s rights but are cognoscenti of what opportunities and privileges they have obtained over centuries.  Ideally, feminism doesn’t just mean women understanding the struggles and opportunities that have arisen in the past, but it also means men understanding and believing in women’s rights.

Women and men can both participate in celebrating V-Day tomorrow.  Many will continue to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the traditional sense with chocolate and roses, but it can be celebrated with putting an end to violence against women too.

I did an interview with the women who were involved with reproducing The Vagina Monologues this year at the UW and why they think it is so important.  Feel free to check it out.