Coming Soon to BU: American Idiot

Director Sarah Gibson (COM ’18) looks on as her cast readies for a photoshoot.

For my most recent story, I covered the rehearsal process of BU On Broadway’s production of American Idiot. BU On Broadway is one of Boston University’s premier theater groups, which puts up three musicals per semester.

Whether you’re a first time actor, a huge theater fan, or simply love to sing and dance, there is something for everyone in BU On Broadway. If acting isn’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities behind the scenes as well, with stage-managing and tech options.

This semester I have had the pleasure of acting in BU’s production of American Idiot, straight from Broadway. The smash-hit musical tells the story of three lifelong friends as they struggle with pursuing their dreams and leaving the safety of their suburban town. Complete with smash-hits from the Green Day album, rockin’ dance numbers, and an outrageously talented cast, American Idiot is sure to be a show that you do not want to miss.

Check out my preview video to see what the rehearsal process has been like and hear from the director, Sarah Gibson (COM ’18) herself.

Rock on.

NewsTrack 5: Spotlight

On the heels of its “upset” win for Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, there is a lot of buzz surrounding “Spotlight.”

The new film “Spotlight” shines a light on the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal, and how, through the diligent work of some investigative journalists from the Boston Globe, this story was finally brought to light. This harrowing look into scandal in one of the world’s biggest institutions – the Church – leads some to beg the question, “why did it take so long for this story to come to light?”

The portrayal of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team earned the film Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards

However, the more appropriate response would be that of praise for the Spotlight team at the Globe who a spent a solid 18 months digging through Church records and interviewing countless victims. And a more appropriate question would be, “what does this mean for the future of journalism?”

Many journalists have been wondering what the future holds for their profession as multimedia platforms are becoming more prevalent and readership to newspapers is declining. That being said, the film should generate some buzz because it was the first film about journalism to win Best Picture since “Gentlemen’s Agreement” in 1947 and the likely the most influential since “All the President’s Men” made waves in 1976.

My NewsTrack site, CNN, touched on these points in a number of articles both recapping the film’s big win and looking toward the future of journalism.

One article focused on the celebration that ensued from actors and journalists alike following the Oscars, and noted that while it remains to be seen whether the success of the film will translate to more college students studying journalism, there is certainly an increased excitement surrounding the field.

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Another took a very different, but also informative approach. CNN sat down with the six real-life reporters portrayed in the film and presented the interview in conversation fashion, making it easily accessible to any audience. Topics ranged from the premiere felt like to the impact of the film.

Though it’s hard to predict what come next for journalism, I truly believe that it is an exciting time to be entering the field. There are loads of new opportunities and jobs that didn’t even exist yet 10 years ago, and if “Spotlight” taught us anything, it’s that there is always a need for good storytelling, reporting, and the truth.

NewsTrack 4: CNN and Video

After exploring CNN‘s site for over a month, I’ve come to find that video stories are some of their most effective. CNN’s around-the-clock coverage includes an extensive amount of written stories, but there is no shortage of videos on their site.

In fact, most articles on CNN will embed a related video. Often times this video will be taken straight from a recent CNN broadcast, but sometimes the videos are produced packages made exclusively for the website. My only gripe with this is that sometimes the video that is embedded with the article is unnecessary or off-topic. There are times when, as a reader, I’m just looking to read the news, not interact with it.

That being said, this recent post predicting the end of an era for political ads as we know it would have worked better as a video story in my opinion.

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CNN’s recent column about political ads would have been stronger as a video story

The column cites various instances recently where attack ads simply take too long to make their point, and notes that none of the ads can compete with Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Twitter.

A video story with some interviews from experts, past political ads to set the stage, and clips from recent ads would have made for a more immersive story.

This video, made exclusively for CNN Style, is a prime example of just how effective video stories can be. It explores the beauty of Italian car design, and includes interviews with those working in the field.

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The footage is brilliantly shot, the video is informative, and you also get to see some breathtaking views of Italy.

A can’t lose situation in my book. More like this, CNN.

NewsTrack 3: Coverage of Justice Scalia’s Death

Following the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, much has been said about what should be done with his seat moving forward. Should President Obama nominate a replacement for Scalia now? There has also been a great deal of coverage honoring the life of the first Italian-American justice., my NewsTrack site, is always on top of its game in terms of covering the major issues, and this case is no different. For many Americans who may not have been familiar with Scalia beyond the fact that he was a significant conservative judge, CNN has published a number of articles celebrating his life and explaining his many accomplishments within the Supreme Court.

CNN’s home page, almost a week after his death, still has a variety of articles on this important topic, its implications, and the next steps to find his replacement.

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Upon further review, one can see that CNN, realizing politics is one of its areas of expertise, has over 100 articles, videos, and interactive stories about Scalia in just this short time period. Unlike its coverage of the Super Bowl, which was minimal, CNN has hit this topic hard, and rightfully so.

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Immediately following his death CNN published news-type articles simply outlining the facts regarding his death. There were also column-type pieces like this one that explain what Scalia meant to this country. There are even articles and videos integrated into their coverage that explore the conspiracy theories about his passing.

As always, CNN’s coverage is accessible to the average reader, and incorporates a number of multimedia elements into their stories that keep the readers coming back.

A tough story, but CNN handled it just about as well as one could hope a major news outlet would.

NewsTrack 2: Super Bowl Coverage

Often referred to as America’s pastime, baseball has long occupied the number one spot for sports in this country. Although the concussion epidemic is a serious problem, baseball has been losing traction in the US, and football is on the rise. For evidence of this, look no further than viewership for this weekend’s Super Bowl 50.

Nearly 112 million people watched the Broncos defeat Cam Newton and the Panthers. Although last year’s Super Bowl did attract more overall viewers, Super Bowl 50 was still the third-most-watched television program in US history. Additionally, this game shattered streaming records, with a record 3.96 million people tuning in via laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and the like.

Because of the sheer popularity of football in the US, I thought there’d be more coverage of it on my NewsTrack site, CNN. Understanding that it’s not a typical sports site like ESPN, I realized that there wouldn’t be a great deal of recaps, siders, or features from the game, but I expected more coverage than I found.

After doing some digging on CNN’s site, I found that just going to will not allow you to access CNN’s sports content. A tab at the top of the home page says “sports,” but this link leads you directly to Bleacher Report’s home page. After some research, I realized that this is because Turner Sports, which also owns CNN, acquired Bleacher Report in August 2012 for $170 million.

This could be an attempt by CNN to get more traffic to Bleacher Report’s site. At first I thought of this as somewhat of a poor strategy, leading readers away from, but in a way it also continues to show commitment to their readers. CNN realizes that their primary focus and demographic is not avid sports fans, so they link those fans to the best coverage that they can find (Bleacher Report).

That being said, there is still sports and Super Bowl content to be found on CNN’s site – you just have to dig a little. If you switch to the from the US version of the site, as show below, you’ll be directed to content geared to a more international audience. On this new home page, the sports tab directs you CNN-driven sports content.

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One of these articles is a Super Bowl-related piece speculating whether or not this is the end of Peyton Manning’s famed career. It was a difficult season for the future Hall-of-Famer, as was injured for part of the year, lost his starting role upon his return, and still managed to propel his team through to the championship game amid HGH charges.

Although this post is not as in-depth as one you may see on ESPN, Bleacher Report, or even SB Nation, it still sheds some light on an important topic in the sports world. Borrowing some reports from ESPN, CNN again acknowledges that they are not the paramount sports network.

But with coverage like this, CNN again illustrates that they will not leave their readers in the dark on any topic, keeping them informed on almost anything they’re interested in… and some things they may not be interested in, like what Peyton’s mom thinks of her son’s potential retirement.


Exploring the Bean: Twitter Scavenger Hunt

Had a lot of fun with this assignment, spending some time exploring various parts of the city and talking to people about what makes Boston so special. Take a look at my finished product on Storify, complete with all the elements of multimedia journalism. Twitter and Storify are two strong examples of companies on the cutting-edge of innovation in this technological age.


NewsTrack: CNN’s Mission

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.25.33 PMFor my NewsTrack site, I have CNN. The Cable News Network, as it is officially called, was founded in 1980 by prominent media proprietor Ted Turner. The company has grown throughout the years, and has become of the world’s foremost leaders in online news and information deliver.

The company became the first to broadcast 24-hour news coverage, and was the nation’s first all-news channel. CNN launched its website in August of 1995, and has attracted growing readership each decade. It is now one of the most popular news websites in the world. works to provide readers with the up-to-date news in all categories, ranging from world, money, politics, entertainment, and sports. Staffed 24 hours by a dedicated staff at the company’s world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, relies heavily on a team of close to 4,000 journalists. Its mission is to make sure that readers are given the news in a fast and interactive manner.

Continuously updated throughout the day, and complete with breaking news headlines that scroll across the home page, is a fully immersive online experience to obtain news. takes multimedia journalism to the next level, showcasing everything from live video to streaming audio packages. There is also an option to watch CNN broadcasts live directly from the homepage.

In addition to great audio, visual, and video elements, the site also is full of great stories. The writing at remains the top priority, and it shows in their pieces. For anyone interested in the news, this site must be a go-to.

The following articles show the sheer versatility of CNN’s site.

Clinton Pushes for Tighter Gun Control Following Oregon Shooting

JO250 Breaking News Story Due 10/5

Clinton Pushes for Tighter Gun Control Following Oregon Shooting

By Nick Neville

Hillary Clinton plans to unveil new gun control measures on Monday aimed at strengthening background checks on gun buyers and eliminating legal immunity for sellers, just a few days after a deadly shooting in Oregon.

“What is wrong with us, that we cannot stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and the gun manufacturers they represent?” Clinton said on Friday.

The democratic presidential candidate plans to make the announcement on the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Monday, saying that if elected, she will propose a repeal of legislation that shields gun manufactures, distributors, and dealers from most liability suits. The move comes on the heels of a mass shooting that killed nine students and teachers at Umpqua Community College on Thursday.

Clinton has made stricter gun control a centerpiece of her campaign after several mass shootings like the one last week have ignited debate over the issue. Her stance shows an effort to stake out liberal ground against her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has struggled to defend a more mixed record on gun legislation.

On Monday, Clinton will vow to use executive power to expand background checks for gun sellers, back legislation banning domestic abusers from purchasing guns, and back congressional efforts to stop retailers from selling to people with incomplete background checks.

“This is not just tragic,” Clinton said. “We don’t just need to pray for people. We need to act and we need to build a movement. It’s infuriating.”

Floridian Alex Hilliard Finds New Home, Creative Outlet at Boston University

(Classmate Profile)/Neville


Floridian Alex Hilliard Finds New Home, Creative Outlet at Boston University

By Nick Neville

There’s an old adage that states if you want to be a good writer, you must read a lot. Alex Hilliard, Boston University sophomore and journalism major, hears this message loud and clear.

The Coral Springs, Florida native has always been passionate about writing, but has also never shied away from a good book – or magazine for that matter. In fact, when asked about her career goals, Hilliard says she aspires to someday work for an arts and culture magazine or potentially get into art criticism.

Why journalism? It may seem like somewhat of a surprise when both of her parents, Anthony and Genie, graduated from Boston College Law School, but she noted that her parents were critical in helping her decide a career path. Seeing that she took a special interest in writing, they encouraged her at every turn.

“They’re very supportive of me,” Hilliard said. “My parents don’t really push me because I think they were both kind of pushed to do things so they just are letting me do what I truly want.”

Although 19-year-old Hilliard was born and raised in Florida, her father is from Missouri and her mother is from one of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. Born Genie DeBarros, Hilliard’s mother spent the first part of her life in this Portuguese colony before moving to America when she was nine years old, becoming the first member of her family to attend college in the United States.

Her parents met at BC Law School, where they became “grad school sweethearts.” After graduation, they moved to Florida where they began a family, first having Alex and then her younger sister Arianna, currently a sophomore in high school.

Despite the fact that both her parents attended BC, Hilliard herself did not have much interest in the school.

“I was looking at it, but I thought it was a little too conservative,” she said. “I liked Boston and I really wanted to be in a city, but I thought New York was too much at the time so I felt that Boston was basically the next step.”

In addition to the city atmosphere that surrounds BU, Hilliard cited the school’s renowned College of Communication as one of the other deciding factors in her decision to come here. She has fit right in, making the most of the great programs BU has to offer journalism students.

She wrote for the blog section of the student newspaper, the Daily Free Press, last year, where she got to cover a myriad of exciting events. She wrote about everything from gallery openings at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to current events and politics. Additionally, she is a contributor to BU’s fashion magazine, Off the Cuff.

“I liked that a lot because it’s an actual magazine,” she said. “I did a dorm-style piece on two different people where I went and interviewed them on how their style affected the way they decorated their dorm, and then I did a few trendy things, like one on sneakerheads.”

Hilliard has a number of other outlets through which she showcases her abilities in addition to BU related extracurriculars. Over the summer she interned for New York Minute Magazine, writing two-three articles each week for their entertainment column. She is also a skilled photographer, and has a website dedicated to her collection (

Her talents don’t stop there, though. She was an elite soccer player in her youth, playing on a number of travel teams. She and her sister even named their dog Mia after US women’s national team star Mia Hamm.

Where does she see herself in ten years?

“Definitely in New York,” she said, smiling. “Job-wise I can’t really do anything in Florida, and the heat is too much for me… I’d love to be writing for something like Nylon or New York magazine where its like arts and culture and not one specific thing.”

New Data Proves Unsettling for First Marriages

JO250 Week 2 Homework: Ch. 12 Exercise 4

New Data Proves Unsettling for First Marriages

A recent study on marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the US provided statistics to show that the older a bride is, the longer the first marriage will be.

The main information discovered by the report, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated that 43 percent of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years.

Dr. Edward Sondik, director of CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, conducted the study. “First Marriage Dissolution, Divorce, and Remarriage: United States,” as the report is called, is based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth, a study of 10,847 women ages 15-44.

“These data offer an important glimpse into the social fabric of this country,” said Dr. Sondik. “The implications of divorce cut across a number of societal issues – socioeconomics, health, and the welfare of our children.”

Among the other findings:

  • One in three first marriages end within 10 years, while one in five end within five years.
  • Duration of marriage is linked to a women’s age at first marriage.
    • almost 2/3 of marriages to teenage brides end, compared to 36 percent of those married at 20 or older.
  • About 97 percent of separated non-Hispanic white women are divorced within five years of separation, compared with 77 percent of separated Hispanic women and only 67 percent of non-Hispanic black women.
  • Younger women who divorce are more likely to remarry.
    • 81 percent of those divorced before age 25 remarry within 10 years, compared with 68 percent of those divorced at age 25 or older.

These staggering divorce statistics have other implications, as CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan noted.

“Separation and divorce can have adverse effects on the health and well-being of children and adults,” he said. “Past research has shown that divorce is associated with higher rates of mortality, more health problems, and more risky behaviors such as increased alcohol use.”

What do you think has contributed to rising divorce rates in this country?

(Poll Question: Have you or someone in your immediate family gone through a divorce? Yes/No)