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I've learned how to professionally use a camera, but I haven't practiced at all since I usually spend my time writing. I can take photographs, but I can't figure out how to use the technical adjustments on the cameras, so I usually let someone else do it.
After using this program, I quickly understood why this was the preferred design tool for the Talisman. I have learned a good deal about this program while using it, and I often troubleshoot it for other members of the staff.
This is, always has been, and always will be my forte. I have always had a natural understanding of language, even to a fault (I could not say with certainty what a propositional phrase is but I know what it is), and it has been refined greatly over the past few years.

Staff Improvements

  • Use Microsoft Word's spellchecker. Really, guys. I can only do so much. But on the serious side, if I'm spending all my time correcting typos, I don't have as much time to look at the larger, more serious problems of a piece. It just saves so much time and potential embarrassment.
  • Be more flexible when it comes to planning out an issue. Romney visited Delaware after we started designing pages, so we said, "Just get some pictures." We should've written a decent piece on the visit since it was probably one of the most important events in Delaware at the time, but we didn't because it would ruin our plans. We can't plan for news, so why do we immure ourselves in them and refuse to go anywhere else? I don't care if we have to use jump lines and cut stories - if news is breaking and it happens to be more important than the chairs in the lunchroom being replaced, then it's going to have to crowd that bit out.
  • Find news like Indiana Jones finds ancient artifacts. Exactly what it says on the tin - be adventurous, be persistent, and be prepared to put a significant amount of effort into simply finding the idea. Delaware is as interesting as one makes it, so make it interesting. Talk to people often, develop a working list of contacts, and generally spend vast quantities of time partying out in town for the sole purpose of finding a story to tell back home.

Goal for Second Semester

By the end of the year, I want to write what I call That One Article - that is, the article I will frame on my wall for the rest of my life. It doesn't necessarily matter what it's about or what type of article it is, because if it's this good, it won't matter. I'd like one article I can always look at to remind myself that I can write, something that comes as close to perfection as possible without transcending or bursting into flame or something like that.

My Highlight

After writing my political bias article, I was kind of nervous as to how people would react. It was, after all, a political piece published just after the election, and my face was next to it in case people wanted to know who to throw various rotten fruits at in the hallway. Much to my surprise, I got compliments from people passing by in the hallway. I was awarded a doughnut a few days after. To this day, I still regard it as the best article I've ever written, even though I'm still very hard on myself about it.


I do not participate in other extracurricular activities.

Personal Initiative

Our original ladder process was really simple and easy, and in my opinion, it didn't really have a way to filter out the ideas that would be impossible or just too boring to write about. People would get stuck writing stories that could only go so far as "not bad" because no one could see these problem ideas until it was two weeks before the deadline and therefore too late. I took it upon myself to create a new ladder sheet, which asked for the relevance and interest factor in addition to the topic. People hated it a little because it meant they had to do extra work - in other words, mission accomplished.

Best Work

Fair and Balanced and...(Issue 3)

I decided to write about a more serious topic than video games for this column, and looking back, I should have continued to write on topics like this one. Politics is one of those subjects that doesn't win too many friends, so I wasn't completely enthused with this assignment - I had to watch what I said. I could've walked on eggshells and given this sterile, impeccably politically-correct argument to the readers, or I could try to play it like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart and look very irresponsible while making a great argument. Going with the latter, I wrote in a "flip" voice and did everything in my power to avoid writing an essay (the essay voice in columns is something I despise greatly), and I got compliments in the hallways from people I didn't know. I pulled it off, and I give most of the credit for that to writing with "spice" (as Paul would say) and just having fun with it. I wish the other members of staff would do this, because they're great writers - if they really used their voice, we'd have a lot of color for a black-and-white page.

Hardware Updates Aren't Worth $200 (Issue 2)

I was really, really mad at tech companies when I wrote this because they kept releasing so many new incarnations of their products, so I decided to complain to as many people as possible. I don't think I changed the world or anything, but I did change how I looked at op-ed writing - it turns out it's more of an art than it might look at first. This could've been a dry article that talked about economics in economic terms, but I instead went for the plain-English approach and threw in a personal anecdote that I believe really made this piece. It added a certain verisimilitude (there's a vocabulary word for you) to a piece that would've seemed really empty without it. I could quote all the statistics I wanted, and I would never make a better point than that.