blog

How digital convergence has changed us

Digital convergence is coming together of multiple media entities over time. This combination of media platforms allows us to view content in many ways. For example, we no longer get the news just from the newspaper or television; we can get it on social media and mobile applications, too. The way we read or listen to the news is a combination of the five eras of communication: oral, written, print, electronic and digital (Campbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos. Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (2016 Update), 10th ed.. Macmillan, 2016.). The way we define digital convergence focuses on one, some or all of these eras.

Along with the various ways we get our news, comes “fake news.” How do you know the difference between real and fake news? It can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes be hard to determine. People share articles without reading them (they just read the headline) and we may not know if they’re valid unless we do some investigating. Here are some ways I verify real news:

  • Check for grammatical errors.  Editing is key with breaking news! If there is an error, that means the person or organization is not paying close attention to how users will view the content.
  • Check other news-related websites to see if there is a similar story. If I don’t find another story that is related to the original article I saw, especially if it’s breaking news, I won’t believe it until multiple news channels push it out.
  • Check out the source who pushed out the news. With all the satire websites out there, it’s important to check where the news is coming from. I typically will trust the national organizations (CNN, Fox News, NBC, etc.) and some local channels.

The examples above were some of the verification procedures we discussed in my first “Introduction to Digital Communications” graduate class. While there are many other ways to determine fake news, I believe the three above are the most important. The way digital media has changed news, it’s more important than ever to fact check the article.

Digital media has completely changed the way we function in society – it truly amazes me how different the communications world is from when I was little and how it is now. My age group was probably the last group to experience childhood without cell phones and know what life without social media was like; however, I do see the advantages of social media and I embrace it! Social media has been very good to me. Here are some things that I was able to achieve with it:

  • My job. I was living in Columbus, Georgia and was trying so hard to find a job in Syracuse for when I knew my husband and I were moving back. I luckily was able to find my job, Web Specialist II at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, through a LinkedIn post.
  • Maintain relationships. Digital media has helped me stay in touch with family and friends all over the country. Not only am I able to share updates with my Facebook friends on my life, but it’s another way to communicate via messenger, photos, status updates, etc. One great example is when my husband was deployed overseas. He had no access to a phone, but with the magic of Facebook, we were able to talk almost every day. Back when my mom deployed in 2002, I unfortunately did not have this advantage. I’d have to wait days to get a phone call from her.
  • Save lives. I am a huge advocate for animal rescue. When I lived in North Carolina, I learned how harsh animals are treated in certain states. Through the power of social media, I was able to connect with others at numerous shelters, especially Harnett County Animal Shelter, and join groups to help save lives. I can honestly say my family was able to save many lives all because of social media!
  • My dream of doing a flash mob! It was always been a goal of mine to participate in a flash mob dance, and I was able to successfully do this on our wedding day! It sounds crazy to include this as an example, but it really is crazy how it all came together with a group of girls scattered across the country – thanks to private Facebook groups and other social media outlets. You can read more about the flash mob here.

With that said, I think my age group had the best of both worlds – life with and without social media. I can truly say that I benefited greatly from both times in my life. While digital media has been around for many years now, it still continues to change. I’m excited for what the future holds!

V-WISE San Antonio

Earlier this month I had the opportunity of a lifetime to embrace my social media skills. I was asked to take the lead on social media support for the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) Conference in San Antonio. V-WISE holds conferences in various locations across the U.S. where veteran women and military spouses come together to enhance their business ownership skills. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) has many programs for veterans, service members and military families – V-WISE being one of the most popular ones. The Whitman School of Management created V-WISE as part of their entrepreneurship projects.

My supervisor told me V-WISE is an amazing experience because the women are so passionate and emotional about their business ideas. He was right – this was a very touching and motivational event and I know I learned a lot from it.

On the very first night, I met Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, U.S. Navy Chief of Information – first woman to hold this position! She was acknowledged as the FIRST honoree for her outstanding accomplishments.

13920978_10207107730596335_2016551247709311086_n.jpg

The instructors were all well-known across the country and really knew how to motivate the women and provide them with the proper knowledge needed to run a successful business. It is great that they all take time out of their busy schedules to set aside a weekend and spend time discussing entrepreneurship with these incredible women.

Not only were the instructors inspiring, but so were the participants. The journeys these women have that led them to attend V-WISE is remarkable. I interviewed three featured participants – Tia Copes, a military spouse who became a grief counselor after her husband was killed in action; Lila Holley, a veteran writing books to share stories of military women in their own voices; and Tara Hutchinson, a wounded veteran who began her own jewelry business. Read more about these inspirational women here.

The last night ended with keynote speaker Nicole Baldwin, a V-WISE graduate, who had to overcome many obstacles, including tragedies, in life to get to where she is today with her business. She reminds us all to never give up on our dreams no matter what comes our way!

The final day of the conference ended mid-afternoon, so my colleagues and I went out exploring. The San Antonio River Walk is impressive! It was also great visiting the Alamo and learning more about it.

It was so fun to be part of this conference and run the social media channels! You can learn more about V-WISE at San Antonio by reading this news post, or by following the program on Facebook and Twitter.

Waterspouts at Hilton Head

My friend Kevin lives in Hilton Head and sent me this picture of two waterspouts on Hilton Head Island Beach. He said there about 25 waterspouts throughout the day! It would be so cool to see one of these in person!

13820710_10206942097935622_803518102_n

 

VA Secretary visits SU campus

So this is not related to the weather at all, but I had to blog about this moment! U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visited the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) and other places on campus. We had a staff photo taken with him and I had to make sure I was in the front :)!

DSC_0377

I always geek out when well-known or famous people are around me. My friend Kellie, who I worked with at Fort Benning, always got excited about people visiting too. We got to meet Capt. Kristen Griest together. I definitely miss her being around for events like this!

Before he came to IVMF, he spent time and talked business with the IVMF’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities-SU 2016 cohort at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. He also received a “Real Veterans Wear Orange” shirt! (Side note: check out #EBVSU10 on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram – it was EBV’s 10-year anniversary this year and we celebrated by featuring some veterans in the program. Very inspiring stuff! Glad to work at a place where I know I am helping others. Read more about the 10-year anniversary celebration here – be sure to watch the tribute and thank you videos – they are amazing and show the impact EBV has had on veterans and their families!)

After McDonald met the leadership team and got a photo with us at the IVMF, he did a presentation on “Values Based Leadership” at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at SU. Watch the video below to learn more about his presentation and visit.

Storm over the State of Liberty

Check out these beautiful pictures of a storm brewing over the Hudson River and the Upper New York Bay last night. Thank you to my friend Samantha for sending these to me! I wish I could have witnessed this in person!

Tornado coverage: May 9, 2016

This last Monday brought lots of tornadoes and destructive storms to several states. The video below states more than 150 severe weather reports were issued in eight states, with more than 20 tornadoes that touched down. The video below is a must-see. My Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with tornado videos — I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Many, many prayers to all the families and pets who had to go through these tough times — especially to those who lost their lives and their families. Please take a moment to honor those lives lost, and to pray the places hit return to normal quickly.

Tornadoes are extremely dangerous. Many states are known for their intense tornado seasons, but sometimes tornadoes can occur in places that are not known for tornadoes as well. Make sure you are prepared for when severe weather strikes. Click here to read FEMA’s safety tips and how to prepare for upcoming tornadoes.

Fort Benning: Another chapter down

Earlier this week my husband, two dogs (Scrappy and Eli) and I closed in on another chapter in our lives at Fort Benning. Ryan was there for the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and I was working as a journalist at the Bayonet & Saber newspaper in the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office. Fortunately, I can say that I was lucky enough to end my time there with one of the biggest events and stories of the year: The Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

13043661_10206316113126393_1234665011640898495_n

The Best Ranger Competition was the most interesting event I have covered. The competition involves 50 teams of two, who compete in a rigorous three-day, 60-hour event. It was so cool to see the kick off and the final buddy run at the end, and everything in between. I also met Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first females to graduate Ranger School! I have now met both 🙂

I had the opportunity to embrace new adventures, too! I conquered my fear of heights and stairs and climbed the Ranger tower at Victory Pond. It was so worth it for the pictures and footage we got! (See below.)

I wrote two stories on the competition: Best Ranger Competition creates new challenges and National Guard team captures Best Ranger title.

Both stories were so fun to write. Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy came for the awards ceremony, so that was so cool to hear him speak! He even retweeted a few of my tweets — he’s very active on social media! 🙂

13064004_10206349099231025_949972653_o

Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy speaking at the Best Ranger Competition awards ceremony at Fort Benning.

I was also so excited to see Capt. Robert Killian win. His family spoke with me the first day of the competition and they knew it was his year. It was a perfect story.

Along with our team we have some amazing photographers! You can check out all their Ranger competition photos at www.fortbenningphotos.com. Some photos were featured in the ArmyTimes!

On that note, I was glad to end my time at Fort Benning writing such fun stories; however, I’m extremely sad to leave such a great team! All of my coworkers were so talented, smart and beyond funny! But I know we will all keep in touch!

Now on to the other exciting news in my life: I have officially accepted a position as a Web Specialist II with Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families. Working at SU was a dream of mine since I was young — it feels so surreal!

I’m so thankful to have had our wonderful and fun chapter at Fort Benning. I will miss all of our friends we have made — that is one of the hardest parts about being in the military community, you always have to leave your friends! 😦

But on a positive note,  I am also excited to start our new chapter in New York. It is bittersweet.

As my good friend Courtney said, “You may be going to New York, but you’ll always be a Georgia Peach!”

We are currently in Florida spending some time with family before we head up north. We are also going to New Orleans (my fourth time — it’s my favorite!) next week. I can’t wait!

 

Chattahoochee River flooding

April Fool’s Day brought a lot of rain to the Fort Benning and Columbus area. My friends from home flew in for a long weekend and planned to sit by the pool all day while I was at work, until it stormed all day. Needless to say, that did not happen.

After I got out of work, we decided to take advantage of the rainy day by going to the National Infantry Museum. We then went downtown to go to dinner, and that is when we saw the results of the storm.

The Chattahoochee River completely flooded the riverwalk and its surroundings. I quickly tweeted my video of the flood to The Weather Channel and other local news stations. My tweet was picked up by The Weather Channel, ABC News, storm chasers and a local news reporter. I was SO excited to get a “favorite” and mention from The Weather Channel on Twitter! You can see the video and tweet by clicking here.

Below are some pictures I took of the flooding from my phone. You can see how much rain fell if you look at the lamp posts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Prepare for upcoming intense heat

It’s the first day of spring! While some of us may be rejoicing that warmer weather will soon be here, the rest of us are not looking forward to it — especially Southerners.

After living in North Carolina and now Georgia, I’ve experienced the extreme heat and humidity. It is not fun, and it can be very dangerous.

Typically from March to September are the months to be weary. This is when you start to hear the sad news about people leaving their pets or children in their cars and they die of heat illness. You may also hear of people working outside and suffering from heat strokes. Soldiers, construction workers and many others are at a disadvantage with their uniforms and heavy gear.

I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing for the heat before it gets here. I just wrote an article for my job regarding heat safety (information provided by the Fort Benning safety office) for Soldiers and the heat mitigation tools they use: Soldiers urged to prepare for upcoming heat. This can also be put into life outside the military. Please read the article by clicking here and educate yourself on how to keep yourself and others safe.

I wrote a blog post last year about keeping pets safe in the heat: Keep pets safe in extreme heat. Again, please read this article to prepare yourself, your family and pets before the heat and humidity arrive.

NWS_heat-safety-children-pets-2014-960x720
Photo source: www.uab.edu

This is a crucial and scary time of the year, and I hope you take this blog post seriously.