Food, Family, Fashion: Why Lifestyle Journalism Is Necessary In Today’s Society

As a young and eager journalist ready to share her words with the world, it’s important that I figure out what I want to actually write about first.

I am not a serious person. I am a half glass full, look on the bright side type of gal so my writing topics need to reflect that. You will never catch me writing about the news or politics or some other serious topic and don’t even get me started on sports (LeBron James is a football player right?).

That is where I stumbled upon lifestyle journalism or what I like to call, the “lighthearted” side of journalism. Don’t get me wrong; news, politics, and yes, even sports, can be important and interesting topics to cover, but not for me. The latest restaurant opening, fashion trends, or even what happened in the latest episode of The Bachelor (that fence jump!?) — these are the topics in which I truly thrive and enjoy writing about.

My passion for lifestyle journalism stems from my genuine enjoyment reading lifestyle magazines as a child growing up. When I was younger, you could expect me in the magazine aisle of the grocery store reading the latest issues of Tiger Beat and Seventeen as my mother shopped around. As a child, I was a fashion and celebrity enthusiast. All I wanted to talk about was the latest news regarding One Direction or the best places to shop for school dances. I never asked for this life — maybe being named after Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills, 90210 meant I was born for this life.

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Even Kelly Taylor doesn’t like sports via: giphy.com

As I mentioned, this passion was not discovered recently. In high school, I was an avid blogger. From sharing tips and fashion advice to my readers (although they were mainly close friends and family) to discussing milestone moments (graduating high school, turning 18, prom, etc.), I have always thoroughly enjoyed writing about everyday events for the everyday person.

When I got the opportunity to intern for New York Family magazine last spring, this is where it actually hit me that I could make a living writing about what I truly enjoy — fashion, family, and most importantly, food. Being able to interview doulas, MET choreographers and more opened my eyes to a world I was ready to enter. People like reading stories about spring fashion trends or tasty 5-minute recipes as these can only make you feel better in the end. I want my words to put a smile on people’s faces.

Writing about lifestyle is more than who wore what or who just got married to who, it’s about sharing stories about topics that can actually influence people’s lives. For instance, it is very rare that someone is going to buy a neon green jacket just because they feel like it. It’s going to be because somewhere on the internet, they read how neon is coming back in fashion (it is) and that it is a necessary item to add to their wardrobe.

As someone who is constantly reading lifestyle material to change and improve my own life, I feel it only makes sense that I give back to all of those I have learned from over the years with the hopes that one day, my words can inspire and influence a young girl out there in a positive way as well.

So what now? How will I take this goal of becoming a lifestyle journalist and make it a reality? Well, that’s kind of the hard part at the moment. I know where I want to work and I know the type of content that I am well-suited to create, but I am just not sure what to do to actually get my foot in the door.

That is where this blog will hopefully come in. Starting now, I am going to push myself to write more content that I actually want to write about. From covering red carpet looks during award ceremonies to the top food trends to try this year, I am going to create more content with the intention that my words will be available for the world to see. Who knows — maybe the right person will come along and read one of my posts and I will be on my way in becoming the next Anna Wintour (although we can all agree I’m more of a Grace Coddington).

Opening image courtesy of rawpixel

 

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Social Media and Your Image: How It Can Help and Why It’s So Important

As an aspiring journalist, keeping a consistent image is important, especially on social media. The more clips you rack up and the more readers you get engaging with your content, the more of a following you will develop, and most importantly, the more important your “image” becomes.

What is your “image”? It is your brand. It is how you represent yourself on social media. Your photos, articles, posts, etc. all fall under your “image”. The more consistent it is, the easier it is for readers and followers to find you across platforms. From Instagram and Twitter, which show more behind-the-scenes content of your brand to LinkedIn, the professional side of your brand, all of these come together to showcase you. Although Facebook is commonly associated with personal connections, establishing a professional page allows your career to flourish outside of those baby pictures your mom continues to post of you. Even YouTube allows journalists to share their video packages, whether done in school or in the professional field.

Not only is sharing your content through various platforms important, but you need to create the content first. With so many applications out there, the possibilities are endless when making video content. You have Videolicious, iMovie, Adobe Spark Video, and so many more. To pull tweets for your article or even seeing trends amongst the public, Hootsuite allows you to do that and more. Plus, for those looking to make graphics, Adobe Spark Post is another great option.

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Gay-Male, Jewish, And Black: Most Targeted For New York Hate Crimes

Hate crimes can happen anywhere, but for those in New York who identify as Gay-male, Jewish, or Black, your chance of experiencing one increases exponentially. According to a 2016 study done by New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), these three categories of individuals experienced the highest number of hate crimes compared to the other biases.

In 2016, New York had a total of 280 hate crimes against persons, with the study breaking down these crimes into 38 biases, covering different races, religions, and sexual orientations.

“Anti-Gay Male” hate crimes had the highest number of accounts, with 73 reports. Just in New York County (Manhattan), there were 35 crimes reported, including one in Chelsea, which left two men injured. The other two counties, which reported high numbers of similar offenses, included Kings County (Brooklyn) with 16 crimes and Bronx County with eight.

“Anti-Jewish” hate crimes ranked second with a total of 49 crimes. Kings County accounted for a majority of those crimes with 29 offenses. New York County experienced nine, with Westchester County at five reports. Two years later, anti-semitism is still a prevalent issue in New York, according to a New York Times article.

“Anti-Black” hate crimes were in third place, with 32 hate crimes recorded in 16 counties, making it the most prevalent bias of all. Of these 16, New York County reported the most crimes (6) with Erie County (5) and Kings County (5) close behind.

Although not in the top three, the number of “Anti-Islamic (Muslim)” hate crimes still had a relatively high number of accounts with a total of 29, including one against a female transit worker wearing a hijab. Kings County reported the greatest amount (9) with Bronx and Queens Counties both reporting six hate crimes in that same year.

2016 New York Hate Crimes by BiasIn today’s society where it seems there is no escape from hate, these numbers may not came as a surprise. Yet, when you stop to think of the number of unreported crimes that are out there, we will never truly know the level of hate these groups experience on a day-to-day basis.

Opening Image by Christopher Burns

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Students Fight Against Climate Change

With climate change being a hot button issue these days, there are many Hofstra University students who want to see change from their local and national politicians. Being that the United Nations released their 2018 report saying we only have a limited amount of time before climate change effects all of us, people need to take action, and one way to do that is by going out to cast your vote. In order for there to be any change there needs to be commitment and responsibility taken for how we treat our Earth. We only have one planet so we need to take care of it with the love it deserves.

Opening image by Jon Tyson

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Hurricane Sandy Impacts Voting As Midterms Near

A flooded basement, hundreds of pictures and possessions destroyed, a family heartbroken at the loss of their home. This is just a small aftermath of the storm, known as Hurricane Sandy, that struck Long Island and its surrounding areas six years ago. Over the years, families have had to pick themselves up, carrying with them the burden of rebuilding their homes as well as their lives.

“There was water everywhere,” says Rebecca Gonzalez, 20, a Staten Island resident. “My basement was completely flooded. Everything that was in the basement was lost and nothing was able to be recovered because there was too much damage.”

Gonzalez, a Hofstra University student, does remember the government helping out in some way, but she recalls many FEMA letters being rejected. She says, “It was a topic of conversation amongst our neighborhood. You would always ask for updates from each other and if they had a success, you would ask what they did [to see what] you didn’t do.”

“What would you want the government to do if you were in a tough situation?”

Today, Gonzalez lives with the memories of Superstorm Sandy, which have influenced her perspective on the environment. She says, “Now that I’ve experienced something like Sandy, the destruction and aftermath has taught me that there are a lot of precautions that could be done in order to weaken the damage if something were to happen again. For those that don’t think the environment is an important issue, they need to think about what if it happened to them – what would you want the government to do if you were in a tough situation?”

As polling day quickly approaches, Long Islanders now have the opportunity to vote for politicians that will speak up for the environment. Luckily, legislative voting records for Nassau and Suffolk county politicians are available for the public to see, which can help come November. Specifically, the elections for the House of Representatives in District 2 and District 4 are important to highlight, not only because they are local to this area, but the incumbents are not worried about the election. Yet, with their confidence so high and voting records public, individuals can decide whether they deserve to stay.

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Throughout my years in #Congress, I have been a strong advocate for the #conservation of Long Island’s land and water. I have made it a top priority to protect our coastal area's environmental assets including the South Shore and #LongIslandSound. I support legislation aimed to improve and restore #water quality in the #LongIsland Sound and conduct studies to strengthen the implementation of Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (Long Island Sound Improvement Act). This Act also helps to develop strategies to increase public education and awareness with respect to the ecological health and water quality of the Sound. I have remained committed to securing funding for the protection of the Long Island Sound. Superstorm Sandy was the second largest natural disaster in our nation’s history and the most devastating and costly to affect #NewYork and Long Island. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this damage is equivalent to 30 years of #erosion. The resulting exposure has left our #shoreline vulnerable to even moderate storms, and must be addressed immediately. The $61 billion Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, for which I fought in the House of Representatives, includes $5.3 billion in funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to undertake both emergency and long-term #beach restoration projects. I was proud to lead the fight to acquire funds to restore and fortify our shoreline. You can be certain that I will continue to work hard to ensure that our #environment is protected and safeguarded for future generations. (Photo courtesy of longisland.com)

A post shared by Congressman Peter King (@reppeteking) on

For instance, District 2 Representative, Peter “Pete” King, claims to be a man for the environment. In a statement on his political website, he says, “I support legislation [that] aims to improve and restore water quality in the Long Island Sound while conducting studies to strengthen the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.” Yet, his voting record begs to differ. Over the course of his political career, he has been three times more likely to approve legislation that is anti-environment than pro-environment. According to the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard, his lifetime score is 16%, showing his actions don’t align with his words.

“If we fail [to] significantly reduce carbon pollution…we will experience…more intense weather events in the future.”

On the other hand, District 4 Representative, Kathleen Rice, has quite the opposite voting record in comparison to King. According to the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard, her lifetime score is 95%. From helping those who were affected by Sandy to expressing concern about the environment in general, Rice has emphasized the importance of being aggressive when it comes to protecting our world and the issue of climate change. She says in a political statement on her website, “There is no doubt that if we fail [to] significantly reduce carbon pollution, sea levels with keep rising and we will experience more frequent and more intense weather events in the future.”

With politicians in office that are on both sides of the spectrum, it is up to the public to go out and vote for the issues that they are concerned about. Yet, millennials have one of the lowest turnout rates when it comes to voting. According to a Newsweek article, “only 16 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 bothered” to show up to vote in the 2014 midterm election.

Craig Burnett, an assistant professor of political science at Hofstra University, says the reason why many people do not vote is because they have their eyes on the prize aka the presidency. He says, “Many people are only watching for the presidency. That’s [like only] watching the major sporting events, for example, the World Series or the Super Bowl.”

 

“Every individual action matters.”

Fortunately, that is where people like Adrienne Esposito come in, who, along with her team, help to educate those in making their own decisions when it comes to voting, especially when dealing with the environment.

Esposito, who is the executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment believes that it is the job of Long Islanders to understand what is happening in their hometowns and how they can institute change. She says, “Every individual action matters. Every person who makes a small change contributes to the overall change.”

As part of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Esposito educates society on the scientific issues relating to climate change. She also does not shy away from emphasizing the importance of contacting elected officials in your area to express concerns. Esposito says, “Elected officials respond to what the public is talking about. Younger people need to call their senate assembly offices and ask them what they are doing about climate change.”

For young individuals who are looking to make a change, especially in regards to the environment, Burnett has one piece of advice: show up to vote on election day. He says, “Younger people care about the environment; they tend to be more liberal on issues and they don’t [view] the current administration as pursuing policies they want them to pursue. It’s about taking this dissatisfaction and activating it in a way that turns up on election day.”

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Opening image: Great Kills Staten Island After Hurricane Sandy in 2012; Photo Credit: Neal Dubs

 

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If You Want People To Care About Your Writing, You Need A Good Story First

As a journalist, when you put your work out there for the world to see, you obviously want the world to care. Yet, in order for people to care about your story, you need to have one worth caring about to begin with.

This is what Mark Blaine discusses in the second chapter of his book, The Digital Reporter’s Notebook. With the chapter titled, ‘Why Do I Care?’, Blaine gets to the nitty gritty of writing stories that people will actually care to read. He ultimately says that stories need three things: Quality, Novelty, and Usefulness. Readers should be getting a story that is reliable with multiple trustworthy sources, contains new information, and this information could actually be used to help them.

Once a story has these three main components and the assembly of it has been decided, then it is time to develop the story further. You have the information — the facts, quotes, etc. — according to Blaine, this is where the story truly comes alive because you add context to bring everything together. The context of the story allows the reader to develop empathy for the “characters” in the story. This makes your story even richer and keeps the reader intrigued about the topic of your story.

Blaine ends his discussion by encouraging writers to reach out to their audience and get feedback in order to grow as a writer. He calls it an “on-the-fly focus group”, which is something all budding and veteran journalists can learn to do.

Opening Image: Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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Social Media Usage Is Up – Even Your Grandmother is on Board

There is no doubt that social media has taken the world by storm. With constant talk about who posted what on Instagram or that funny cat video your aunt shared on Facebook, it seems as though social media is everywhere now.

With the founding of Facebook in 2004, there has been a steady increase over the 12 years in social media users for all age groups, according to studies done by the Pew Research Center. As expected, when social media was in its early stages, the most common group of users were those in the 18-29 year old age group with a small, but mighty 12 percent of users.

Although overall social media use has increased, it is interesting to point out that the percentage of users in the 18-29 year old age group has plateaued since 2013 in comparison to the 65+ age group which has witnessed an increase in social media use: from 26 percent in 2013 to 34 percent in 2016.

 

Source: Pew Research Center

When looking strictly at the social media use of 2016, it is clear that Facebook has the greatest use in comparison to other platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. In addition, the social media platform, Instagram, has the greatest age gap with 59 percent of users belonging to the 18-29 year old age group and only 8 percent of users in the 65+ age group.

Source: Pew Research Center

Only time will tell if social media will continue to reign supreme. With more and more people going on the grid each day, it is obvious that these platforms will continue to change throughout the future. Until then, catch me sending out tweets to my favorite celebrities and of course, getting that aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed.

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