Tag: media

By Yael Turitz (BC ’19)

I have a confession to make. I’m an addict.

No, I don’t struggle from alcoholism, or drug addiction, or even the newly psychologically recognized video-game addiction. I’m addicted to television.

I don’t mean to delegitimize the mental illness that is addiction. Thank God, I have never suffered from drug addiction or anything of the like and do not begin to claim I know what it feels like. And yet, I believe I too am an addict.

Addiction: “An unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something” (Merriam-Webster).

It’s 1AM on a Tuesday night and the man is turning his back on the only person who’s ever cared about him. His friend catches on, and suddenly it’s a brawl through the abandoned warehouse in Manhattan. With one knockout punch, it’s over. The screen turns black. I look over at my clock. 1:06AM. ABC’s Castle is over. My body is exhausted, but my mind is just getting started.

“Television is the bane of this generation.”

“The problem with today’s teenage population is that they spend too much time with their eyes glued to the television and never do anything productive with their time.”

“Studies have shown that people spend more time watching television today than they do working, or exercising, or having personal interactions.”

I’ve heard it all before. Grumbles of the men in my synagogue, the professors in my history class, my grandfather. But it can’t stop me.

My imagination thrusts into action. I take each individual character, major or minor, and imagine her background, his family life, his career plans, her goals. I forge relationships between characters, and I create new characters, to establish new bonds or to wedge distances between old ones. I get lost in my own mind.

I want to be a writer. Not a journalist, not an editor—a bona fide fiction writer. I know it’s crazy, idealistic, naïve- but nothing gets me going like a well-crafted story. My idols include people like Jane Austen and Aaron Sorkin.

When I watch an episode of the West Wing, I’m not aimlessly watching a laptop; I’m actively engaging with Josh and Donna and imagining just how beautiful Sorkin’s banter looked on a page. When I watched Downton Abbey each week (oh boy, here comes the loss-of-Downton tears), it wasn’t a time-waster; it was a gateway into a world of characters and story-lines I could mold in my mind. Episodes inspire me to do what I love.

It’s an addiction because it’s a need. Once I get going, there’s no stopping me. I need to see how my imagination from last week measures up against The Good Wife’s professional writers’. There’s an incredible satisfaction when I get it exactly right, and I get a bit smug if I think my story was better. Of course, many times I’m awed when the plot takes a twist I never saw coming. But I am only fully content when I’ve resolved this creative discourse going on in my head. Only then can I peacefully fall asleep.

Am I wasting my time? Sure, I could exercise more. (Actually, I probably should exercise more, but that’s beside the point.) And sure, sometimes I watch TV while procrastinating from doing work. But you know what? I resent the bad rap television has gotten. There are definitely shows out there- think Keeping Up With the Kardashians- that are a mindless waste of time. But quality television is not pointless. An episode of Homeland is just as gripping as Stephen King’s latest novel. Gilmore Girls’ script is as smart and creative as any Oscar Wilde play. And you can learn from shows like The Big Bang Theory or The Newsroom. I know many will hound me for attributing such greatness to the medium of modern television—but honestly, TV writers are some of the greatest creative minds of our time. And it’s not fair to them when we blatantly characterize their work as a “waste of time.”

I’m addicted to fiction, to plot-lines, to characters, to twists and turns. I get a high, all in my own mind, off of stories. Stories spark the creativity inside of me, and my passion for stories is fueled by shows on television. One day, I dream of being the one sitting behind the scenes as the cameras roll and the actors speak the words I’ve written. And one day, when you insult the medium of television, you’ll be insulting my hard work. TV writers deserve better than that. Our openness to creativity deserves better than that.

Also, if you need any series suggestions—hit me up.

 

Left: an educated Black Man Right: The “thug” society sees

“Open the link. Let’s see the results.”

I sat in front of my computer with the dreaded email that read, “Admissions Decisions have been released. Please login for your decision.” My friends and family had been supporting me over the past four months as I worked to polish all of my college applications. Now it was finally time to see the fruits of this collective labor. Pushing my fears of rejection aside, I clicked the link and to my delight, the sounds of “Roar, Lion, Roar!” roared from my computer and I saw the digital letter that stated that I was accepted to Columbia University.

Those months of hard work had finally paid off. On May 1st, I entered my high school proudly wearing my Columbia sweatshirt for National College Signing Day. It felt as if nothing could ruin my day at that point until I heard someone whisper to a peer, “He only got into Columbia because he’s Black.” Upon hearing that, I was insulted that someone would want to belittle my achievements because of my skin color. Rather than be happy for my success, I was only viewed as another minority student given an easier chance of getting into a top college.

In addition to facing misperceptions such as this in regard to academic achievement, Black male students are faced with negative perceptions of their race and character in the media. During the protests in Baltimore over the murder of Freddie Gray (a young Black man killed by police officers), media outlets actively chose to depict Black youth as thugs and criminals, bent on looting and destroying their own city. Instead of portraying one of the numerous scenes in which Black youth peacefully protested for justice for the murder of another young person of color, media outlets like CNN chose to only show video footage of pharmacies on fire, Black mothers beating their children, and Black students creating chaos in the streets. Yet when primarily White groups start protests over issues such as their favorite sports team losing a game, media outlets label them as mere disruptions – even when they cause more damage. For our current time period that media outlets have touted as part of the “post-racial” era, America’s media coverage of Black youth harkens more to 1968 Civil Rights-era protests.

This misperception of Black youth as criminals rather than as academics has led to nationwide movements to dispel these derogatory stereotypes. One movement, the “I, Too, Am Harvard” photo campaign has explored these issues by showing a set of photos in which Black Harvard students hold whiteboards with notes describing their experiences. These experiences have ranged from being called White all the way to being told that being Black makes being admitted to college so much easier.

Now, you’re probably wondering: What do protests and media portrayals of Black youth in places like Baltimore have anything to do with perceptions of Black students in schools?

While these two ideas seem quiet disparate, they both are entwined with the underlying American issue of racism. Even as our nation espouses national unity under the auspices of patriotism and accessibility to higher education, we fail to ensure that everybody has an equal chance at these opportunities. In a 2015 report by the National Center for Education Statistics, only fifty-nine percent of Black males graduated high school on time in comparison to a whopping eighty percent of White male students. For a nation based on the premise of every person having a fair chance to succeed, it is clear that this is far from the reality. And even worse, with a subconscious public sentiment that Black people are dangerous, ratchet, and/or inept, these statistics do not do much to help improve the image of Black people in America.

By being subconsciously characterized in a negative light in the public eye, the system has become cyclical: pushing Black students into poverty and out of the realm of higher education. But even when a Black student is able to escape this vicious cycle, they are still belittled due to these preconceived notions of what it means to be Black. From off-hand comments such as “You’re so White,” to “Being black must be nice… especially for getting into college,” it is abundantly clear that this “new” America has yet to accept the Black community, but rather still looks down upon it. In our “post-racial” nation, people still do not accept people of color as talented students, but rather as simple objects to represent diversity.

So when I heard that classmate say that my acceptance to Columbia was a result of my race, they were subconsciously thinking that the color of my skin defines my intelligence, and that nothing I could do would ever be as great as that of a White student. Even though this nation has made great strides in trying to reduce racial dispairites, we still have a long way to go. And the first step towards a brighter tomorrow is recognizing these pejorative misperceptions.

The Lion is the only on-campus publication that pledges to accept all submissions (even anonymous). To respond to this op-ed or send in your own piece, email submissions@columbialion.com

Over break, CUIT updated it’s channel lineup adding several new channels along with the addition of increased HD availability. In order to view new channels, students will need to use their TV’s rescan feature to gain access to cable television. Along with this change, several channels have switched channel numbers.

From their website:

All televisions will need to be autoscanned on Thursday, January 14, 2016 after 8AM to pickup the new channel lineup being provided by CUtv.

New channel editions include the NFL Network (HD), France 24 (SD), and BBC America (HD).

The updated channel lineup can be found here.

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