The Digitization Impact of Photography: A Look at Past, Transitional and Future Roles
In a crunching economic time with an emphasis on instantaneous online consumption, it is a struggle for print media to compete and survive. One basic tactic newspapers and magazines have often used to propel their media is the physical appeal of their product, and that is often driven by photographic visuals and design. But in a society with a new demand on how information in presented, received and digested, photography has begun to adopt a different role in how it is captured, laid out and used in today’s print media. Culture is impacting the digital transition; the transition is not impacting the culture.
Digitalization has not only changed the types of cameras that are being used, but the types of photographs that are being taken and the types of photographers that are taking them. Page design has evolved to be consumed more easily and quickly to serve a public that is inundated with constant news to help them select the information they want. Because of this, a new type of journalist is being bred out of the technological changes and the shift in cultural expectations of instant media. Nonetheless, photography and design are still some of the overriding values that carry print today, since the value of these areas are what initially get readers interested and involved.
This paper will examine how photography is reacting to and shaping the change in the media consumption culture overall, including technology and design. It will also focus on how photography has become cheaper, quicker and easier, how a new photographer is emerging, how design and consumers are being impacted as well as struggles and potential drawbacks being fostered by digitization. This research can also be used as a practical application of photography in the print media from years past, the digital transition and an evaluation of how the field may morph in the future.
Digitization of media is clearly a topic that has been discussed before. But the unique role and struggles photography and design are coping with during the transition period is not as notable. The following are a few examples of research that have been compiled on similar topics of transitioning to digital technology:
Shahira Fahmy and C. Zoe Smith show how technology impacts news photography in the article “Photographers Note Digital’s Advantages, Disadvantages,” since technology directly and indirectly influences photographic results. This research specifically deals with digital replacing film and how it has become less time consuming, easier to share and cheaper to produce, but it also analyzes some of the drawbacks to the evolution.
The article “Access, Convergence and Print on Demand” by John Feather for the International Journal of the Book describes how the convergence of information was not only driven by the use of common digital technologies, but also how these technologies provide a simple, universal skill base for users to design, implement and use digital photography to break down the traditional barriers between different branches of the information professions and between public service providers and private sector suppliers.
The Economist printed an article called “Develop or die” that discusses Kodak’s financial situation “in the middle of the most important transition in its history.” The piece also covers other companies, such as Fuji Photo Film and Agfa. It delves into how Kodak struggled to cut its dependence on film and instead opted to embrace digital technology. Statistics from the company provide raw numbers that help to judge their success and failures and provides a frame of context when talking about the evolution digital technology has made. Both Kodak and Fuji’s digital strategies are outlined in this source to help understand the importance of tracking the move from analog to digital.
Financial and overall quality of current camera technology is compared in Dave Evensen’s Quill piece, “From Darkrooms to Digital.” This article is beyond a simple cost comparison and talks more about how photo use in newspapers has increased as well as how photo technology has shaped the final product of a newspaper. It also touches on financial aspects of the transition and takes a deep look at newspapers to analyze how digitization improves the news product, which was the main goal behind the transition.
Corey Dzenko’s article “Analog to digital: The indexical function of photographic images” covers the impact of new media by centering around the idea that “the medium is the message.” This means the medium is an extension of the human senses and changes culture because the message of any medium is the change, scale, pace or pattern it introduces into human affairs. It also discusses how the physical connection to reality allows photography to be an essential visual recorder.
The section “Digital Photography” in editor Lynne Warren’s Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photos surveys photographic history and practice for the past 100 years and was compiled by an international group of experts, scholars and historians. In addition to a glossary of photographic terms, the encyclopedia breaks downs processes and technical information about equipment and other photographic aspects.
A Background of Photography and Design in Print Media
The New York Daily Graphic was the first newspaper to publish a photograph on March 4, 1880. In 1927, the Associated Press started a news picture service. But it wasn’t until around 100 years later, in the early 1990s, that news photos became common in the industry. Until then, other visuals, such as maps, were the only option for print media yet were rarely utilized. The use of photographs greatly impacts design today, but photography was not always one of the governing elements to a page; even the notion of strong page design did not blossom until the mid 1900s.
Publick Occurrences, the first American newspaper, had deep, wide columns of text, no headlines and little art. There were absolutely no photographs. After the Revolutionary War, dailies began to emerge and introduced design elements such as thinner columns and headlines, but photography was still not prominent (Harrower, 4). Newspapers all looked relatively the same in the 19th century and around 1900 headlines were getting bigger and page design was departmentalized to various sections.
The 1920s permitted photography to boom in print media, since many tabloids were born and photography, aside from headlines, was a main way to draw consumers in.
By the 1960s, most of the curret design trends were in place, which includes more and bigger photos, refined headline type, a move to 6-column pages and white gutters between columns instead of rules (Harrower, 5). Full color printing presses were fairly common in the 1980s, so a new era of photography in print media began to unfold.
Tim Harrower, a professional page designer and creator of The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook, is the go-to informant on some of today’s basic design and layout principals. He said readers are no longer looking for gray columns of type and instead are seeking something “snappy” that is “easy to grasp and [is] instantly informative” (Harrower, 2). Layouts must be inviting, informative and easy to read, and can be created with the building blocks of design (headlines, text, photos and cutlines) with the addition of smaller pieces to make more complicated pages (logos, teasers and graphs).
Because American culture has become overwhelming visual, images are now viewed as strong and text as weak. “If you want to hook passing readers, photos are even more valuable than text. Photographs are essential for good design, and good design is essential for photos” (Harrower, 93). The transition of integrating more photography into the medium in the early 1990s played a large role in the design of newspapers. Basic design elements include full-color photographs for the front page, informational graphics to illustrate the news, packaging so that all themed content is easy to find and is already broken down for the reader and a modular layout so that all stories are presented in rectangular shapes (Harrower, 6).
But before the convenience of digital photography was common, newspapers used a lengthy darkroom process to produce their work. When a photographer would be out on the scene, they may have had several cameras with different lenses to shoot up to 36 shots of film with. Each roll of film cost several dollars and the photographers were greatly inhibited by their deadlines since it took several hours to process the photographs. Lee Warnick, a communications professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho, has worked in the media industry for decades, including a job as a newspaper photographer that used a darkroom, which placed great limits on his deadlines. “If a brawl breaks out or anything newsworthy, it’s not going in the paper except in print” (Warnick). He said it took between four and five hours to create a color image in the darkroom, which is why color was used on special occasions. Yam Tolan, an associate professor of photography at Austin Community College who has been the photo editor for Fox News Online, said photo assistants were common on larger assignments to help the photographer switch film and cameras between shots since there were excessive amounts of equipment.
The photographer would then have to come back to the darkroom to process their work, without even knowing if their shots came out as intended. After film is exposed there is still no visible image, but instead a “latent image” that needs to be chemically brought out (“Digital Photography”). The photographer has to process the film through a series of chemical bathes to do this, and then print the images on an enlarger before developing them in a similar fashion. Color photographs must have their colors separated during this state (Warnick). Bradley Wilson, editor of “Communication: Journalism Education Today” and a previous photographer for the National Press Association, said during this era most photos remained in black and white or were spot colored because color photography was not successful unless there was a decent press available.
Peggy O’Neal Elliott, a communications instructor at the University of South Carolina Aiken and previous bureau chief at the Florida Times-Union, said even past this stage in the process everything continued to be manual. This includes all of the cropping and enlarging, which is done in the dark room, and cutting the image with X-Acto knives so that is can be scanned to create a halftone, which is a printable version of a photograph that converts various tints or shades that make up the original image into very small dots. However, this greatly reduces the resolution of the image (Ayers). This would be placed on the press in the designated area that a designer has already left blank (O’Neal Elliott).
But digital cameras have no analogous relationship to what they represent. Instead, it codes each image with a series of ones and zeroes that must be converted back into an analogous form to be viewed as a recognizable “photograph.” This happens as the image is displayed on a computer or is being printed (“Digital Photography”). Digital cameras have been tweaked and built upon to get to today’s standard. In December 1975, Stephen J. Sasson invented the digital camera for the Eastman Kodak Company.
It weighed around eight pounds and was the size of a toaster with a resolution of .01 megapixels (Calcott). By 1982 the first commercial electronic camera, called the Sony Mavica, was developed by Sony and was not a digital camera but instead was a video camera that took freeze frames (Calcott). On Feb. 17, 1994, Apple released the QuickTake 100, the first consumer-priced digital camera that was also compatible with a personal computer, and by February 2006 it was estimated that 92 percent of all cameras sold were digital (Norman).
In the early 1990s the AP started a process using a satellite circuit to send a single high-quality color image in 15 seconds, allowing more transmissions of photographs (“History of the AP Photos”).
This is the same general time that pictures were starting to be viewed on computer screens and there were no more prints for newspapers’ operations departments. “Digitized pictures could be enhanced by newspaper editors to meet the exacting requirements of their individual publishing systems, and passed digitally into the prepress and press room” (“History of AP Photos”). On Jan. 28, 1996, AP photographers shot Super Bowl XXX entirely digital with the new NC 2000. The camera, which had been created by the AP and the Eastman Kodak Company, made digital pictures on electronic chips that were built directly into the camera. “The black magic of the classic film and chemical photo process has been replaced by the equally magical process of digital picture handling” (“History of AP Photos”).
The Digital Transition
Part I: Cheaper, Quicker, Easier Photography
Despite the promises of digital cameras, the industry was initially reluctant to switch their gear because the original digital cameras were not high enough quality to print images from, especially when converting from color to black and white images (O’Neal Elliott). But as the technology was developed, the trend to transition was backed by digital’s opportunity for economic savings over the long run and the ability to transfer content faster and more efficiently. In an industry driven by costs, this was very lucrative.
Today, the technical aspects of digital cameras eliminate the mechanical process and allow for photography to be completely automatic. Color has become the norm, especially because of better print press quality. Papers, like Brigham Young University-Idaho’s students newspaper, the Scroll, are being printed 250 miles away and human hands are only touching buttons until the pages actually come out with separate plates and negatives are made (Warnick). “Now, we’re 100 percent digital; it’s a pretty seamless process that takes minutes instead of hours. It allows for a lot more creativity in the design process, and takes a whole lot less time” (Warnick).
Tolan said in the past three years 35mm digital cameras have equaled their film counterparts in both quality and price. Digital can be more expensive than analog cameras, but there is no additional cost for film, chemicals and excessive labor (Tolan). Photographs can be processed and published in the field, which makes it cheaper to manage a photo department, especially in terms of chemicals, and saving money in the photo department means publications can allot more finances for writing (Koretzky).
Since digitization allows for instantaneous publishing, it impacts how the industry uses the medium and how consumers gather information. “Clients want it faster. They expect it at the end of the day rather than the end of the week” (Tolan). Convenience is also ushered in with digital cameras because shooters can see what they are doing. “At this point, anybody that isn’t embracing this technology is crazy. You have to embrace the instantaneous and have a system in place to deal with the hazards of it” (Wilson). Film tends to only be used for art making now, since the process is essential to the art and the focus is not just on the end result. The only aspect film doesn’t outperform digital in is with medium or large format cameras, which use big negatives to store more information to create a large print (Tolan). The technology has just not evolved yet.
Michael Koretzky, a freelancer, adviser of the student newspaper at the Florida Atlantic University and magazine creator, said there is a trend for trained photographers to shoot big assignments and reporters to shoot smaller assignments. He also thinks digital technology has turned photography into something he refers to as a third-world nation. Analog film permitted a class of average photographers and a class of high-end photographers. With digital technology, there is now a set of high-end photographers that can create images, but may just be shooting on auto focus. But top-level publications still want photographers who know the technical aspects to a camera and because technology hasn’t been able to replace high-level photography, the middle ground has been replaced. But top-of-the-line work is still there, so while the front page may look the same, the inside pages are housing work of lesser quality.
But this doesn’t mean the traditional method reigns supreme. “I think it’s been five years since you could remotely make the argument that analog photography is better than digital photography. I think you can make the argument now actually the other way. If you are an excellent photographer, you can express yourself better through the latest digital technology than you could than with the best darkroom. The only way is the way forward” (Koretzky).
The Digital Transition
Part II: Defining the Photographer
Traditionally, photojournalism was a professional degree with education and skills since it was a time-consuming process associated with pricey equipment. Digital cameras eliminated that skill set. Now everyone that has access to a camera can be a photographer, which has forced traditional photographers to become specialists. This also creates an odd juxtaposition since the public knows they are capable of taking photos and no longer place as much value in high-quality images and are unwilling to pay for them (Wilson). This is why the industry is struggling to strike a delicate balance between saving money yet maintaining quality with the photographers they send on assignments.
Wilson said training a photographer for today’s era is backward from years past, since one can successfully use a camera first before learning technical aspects. Current employers also don’t place as large of an emphasis on education or training, since many of the photographs they are seeking do not require a specialist. This has sprung many forms of citizen journalism, with one example stemming from the hundreds of users that submitted content, including videos and photographs, to CNN’s iReport after the Fort Hood shooting on Nov. 5, 2009 (“Fort Hood shooting iReport”).
In addition, cross-training journalists to be reporters, photographers and broadcasters in the field is a common practice. This was illustrated during the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, where journalists lived, traveled and reported alongside the military and many were required by their employers to produce multiplatform journalism (Vaina). Jobs, such as one Koretzky just took with JetBlue, require reporters to have their own SLR camera and other tools, an increasing trend. Even if the journalist was not formally trained to have these skills, they are expected to have the tools and know how to use them or are asked not to apply. “I don’t think anyone would want to go back to the way we were. It gives the reporter more tools to work with” (O’Neal Elliott).
But neglecting the quality of photographers can hinder the basic principals of journalism, which can impact niche publications especially. Shooting with bad quality cameras from far away is one way photojournalism is being negatively impacted by untrained photographers. “You just torpedoed the easiest way to separate readers from your publication. You have to put faces in the paper. You suck them in” (Koretzky). But Koretzky said even though there may be a lowered benchmark of photographic quality, the people using the technology correctly will prosper in ways that would have never been possible if the technology didn’t exist.
The Digital Transition
Part IIIA: Evolutions in Design
The following are examples of how to attractively design a page, according to Harrower.
Take a gray page and make it attention-grabbing by adding art and cutting or jumping stories to make it less text heavy (Harrower, 76). Even though the first page is well-ordered and packaged in a clean manner, it is not inviting and is lifeless. The designer needs something to grab the viewer’s interest to suck them into the page, and a main way to do that is through the use of art, maps, engravings, infographics or other components. “Remember, most readers browse around until something compels them to stop. By adding photos, maps or charts, you catch their interest–then deliver the information” (Harrower, 76).
Balance and scatter art in a non-confusing way. With small photo placement there is no confusion and the page is more balanced when art is spread (Harrower, 77). Be cautious with butting headlines since it can make a layout confusing. By separating stories it’s a much cleaner layout. The raw wrap on the second layout allows for readers to have an easier time reading stories that may be run side by side (Harrower, 77).
The first page really doesn’t have a dominate image since there are many competing interests. As a result, the page is very text heavy and is not that compelling to readers. The second page has a more prominent visual image that draws the reader in and gives them a main point to just off of. This allows the desisnger to dictate what information and where the viewers need to spend their attention and move to on the page (Harrower, 76). Every page needs to have a dominant image if it wants to be successful and gain readership or attention.
The image on the left is a 1966 sports page from The Oregon Journal and is a typical example of 1960s design. It was years before editors finally realized that taking page design seriously is an important aspect (Harrower, 5). The image on the right is the Dec. 1 front page of The Daily Courier, which embodies many of today’s typical design techniques. Instead of being jumbled like The Oregon Journal, The Daily Courier has a dominate image and very small chunks of stories, as well as a large array of stories. The reader can easily find what they are interested in and skip around the page in an organized fashion.
The Digital Transition
Part IIIB: Evolutions in Design
This is a 1865 edition accounting the assassination of President Lincoln. It has 15 headline decks and has a vertical text format, so when a story hits the bottom on a column it jumps to the top of the next one (Harrower, 4). This was typical of newspapers throughout the 19th century, since they all basically looked the same and involved little or no visuals. “During the Civil War, papers began devoting more space to headline display, stacking vertical layers of deckers or decks in a dizzying variety of typefaces” (Harrower, 4). Harrower gave the example of how The Chicago Tribune used 15 decks on the front page to report on teh great fire of 1871. The element of art remained space until the early 1900s, even though the first newspaper photo was published in 1880 (Harrower, 4).
The 1898 edition of the New York Journal tries to stir up emotions by using loud type and a horizontal approach (Harrower, 5). By around 1900 newspapers began to look more like publications we think of today. Headlines grew, in size and text, and the long decks with all different typefaces were scaled down to save space. As news became departmentalized throughout the paper into sections like crime, foreign and sports, page design began to gain greater variety. Photos really began to take off in the 1920s when tabloids were on the rise. They jammed photos with sensational headlines on the pages to attract readership (Harrower, 5). “As the years went by, papers kept increasing the traffic on each page, using ever more photos, stories and ads” (Harrower, 5).
The Nov. 29 issue of The Daily Courier showcases more current trends, which incorporates various points of entry on a page (The Daily Courier Staff). Today’s newspapers are more lively and sophisticated, which is in part due to the technology that has developed over the years. But people still tend to go toward the product that is aesthetically pleasing, so design and photography are still huge components of the media. “They simply won’t respect a product–or a newspaper–that looks old-fashioned” (Harrower, 6). To look modern, newspapers now use color, informational graphics, packaging and modular layout. Today’s readers are busy, picky and impatient, so editors have to attempt to make every page as user-friendly and easy to get into as possible. This can simply be done by creating more points of entry, like briefs, roundups, scoreboards, promos and specially themed packages (Harrower, 6).
The Digital Transition
Part IIIC: Evolutions in Design
Culture is impacting design, as layouts are now created for readers with very short attention spans. Writing is shorter and evolving more toward sound bites with extra elements, such as bio boxes, timelines and infographics, to break the mold of traditional design and convey more information in a visual way (Wilson). More and shorter stories are appearing on the front page and the traditional model of the inverted pyramid is no longer a necessity, since people are information hungry and will move on if they can’t find the information they are interested in fast enough (Wilson). Wilson said the Chicago Tribune has been following a lot of these patterns, which can be illustrated by the Nov. 22 edition that has six stories on the front page, a massive photograph, two smaller photographs, two infographics, three teasers and a large ad at the bottom, things that were not the norm 20 years ago.
This cultural change is driving designers to no longer be able to slap body copy on a page; they have to analyze the most important facts in the most important stories and convey them to the reader in a visual form, such as infographics (Wilson). This is also challenging because photography is not the same quality it used to be, which creates a cascading reaction in design, and photographers are communicating less with the designers since they can upload their content from outside of the office (Wilson).
Technological advances have allowed for a much quicker process to designing pages, but it also permits non-designers to create pages without training in that area. “The bad side of bad design is you are actually screwing up the easiest way to generate readership in your local publication” (Koretzky).
The Digital Transition
Part IV: Impact on Consumers
Presenting reliable and quick information in an attractive, simple package is now an expectation of consumers. They have also become selective of the information they receive, since they are inundated with news. “If you don’t want to know what’s going on in the world, you can just ignore it. We thought everyone was just going to be consuming, but now [they’re consuming] just the stuff that interests them” (Wilson).
The public wants to spend more time with pictures than text, and the immediacy and availability of photography makes that possible. O’Neal Elliott said consumers want a photo with every story they read, but that it can cause strong emotions or prejudices since a photograph cannot tell an entire story and may make complex situations look very simple. “I think what it’s doing to us as a society is it’s keeping us from thinking more deeply, which is what you do when you read. Reading every day, readying a variety of things and reading deeply into what a reporter has to give us to inform us is the basis of a democratic society, and if we’re just going to take a picture for the 1,000 words, then I think were going to be different because of it” (O’Neal Elliott).
Koretzky said people seek images of what they want to see and do not necessarily care about the quality so long as the basic photo principals, such as being in focus and seeing faces, are apparent. “I think they want Brangelina; they want it in focus, they want to know what’s going on, they want it tight enough and the photo to be big enough and know what’s going on — the expressions. That’s what they want” (Koretzky).
While there’s more information to be sifted through in order to find the most valuable pieces, technology has provided this option, which wasn’t around decades ago. Koretzky said he believes this digitization will continue to improve culture, since it provides more options to select a “culture” from.
The Digital Transition
Part V: Potential Hazards
Because of shrinking photo departments and the constant push for publishing content faster, the photographic editing process has been skewed and is changing the nature of the industry. Competing to publish information as quickly as possible, photographers have become lazier in the sense that there is no vetting, fact checking or editing of their work before it is submitted (Wilson).
Photographs are also being taken now to just illustrate a story, sometimes without conveying the most important aspects. This is in part due to publications requiring reporters to also be photographers, but the more positions a publisher asks for (reporter, photographer, editor, videographer), the less quality all of those roles will be. “There’s been a bunch of publications that have tired to cut corners by telling the writers to go out and shoot their own photos, but the result is bad on so many levels. It’s so funny that for that reason, in that whole sequence, the one thing they seem to care less about it the quality of the photography” (Koretzky).
The Digital Transition
Part VI: Visualizing the Future
The shelf life of stories that are put in front of people will continue to get shorter. Expectations of instant information will not subside. Page design will need to be consistent and information must continue to be easy to find and highlighted through typography (Warnick). But photography will not disappear. The basic fundamentals behind photography cannot be replaced. “You want to stop time, you want to capture it for posterity” (Tolan).
The industry will not die, it will change. An emphasis on local content, such as college publications, will increase since that information cannot be found elsewhere, but survival of the fittest will determine who endures. “So were winding up where everyone’s going to be a reporter, everyone’s going to have access and everyone’s going to be reporting on everybody. I think we’re going to lose a good bit of what we’ve always depended on journalists for to get us the complete story. I think we’re going to give away some of that in all of this new digital stuff” (O’Neal Elliott). But when technology reaches the point where just pushing button will take care of all the multimedia, then journalism will circle around to its beginning, which requires good writers, good reporters and good eyes (Koretzky).
Professionals will still need their specialized equipment, but typical content will be produced by reporters, who are also photographers and videographers, or consumers. As the telephone is likely to absorb all of the roles — video camera, still camera, computer, bank, GPS and more — it may be the newsroom, not the camera, that fades into the ethersphere (O’Neal Elliot).
Koretzky envisions all of a journalist’s tools being condensed into a higher-end phone model that can be used as a hand-held device to collect an entire story, including video and audio. By plugging it into a computer, one can transfer all of the recordings into text and upload all of the audio and video, so that the reporter can focus on writing, which will always be one of the most valuable aspects of reporting.
Though the print industry is struggling to find a balance between economics, shrinking staffs and is competing with online entities and fast-paced culture, traditional cameras will survive. It’s the configuration of how newspapers and photo departments were structured for decades past that will have to shift. Most likely, photo staffs will break into two groups: the reporters shooting the smaller assignments (as well as writing the story and creating other multimedia) and the specialist photographers tackling the larger assignments, since there will always be a place for the highest-end people. Koretzky’s third world theory will be clearly marked with this.
There will be causalities in the industry along the way, but those high-end photographers may be happier in the long run. Though fewer photographers, those that survive will get to shoot the really choice assignments, such as covers and photo stories, and expend their expertise and emphasis there instead of having to exert it on an assignment that does not merit their specialization. Consumers will still be able to find and generate all of the content they want to, as long as they continue to be satisfied with not having top-of-the-line content for every single picture. Up to this point, technology has shaped a great path for which photography can greatly enhance consumer’s lives and cultures. Now, the industry just needs to sort out how it plans to travel down it.
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Elon community wants economy, uniting America addressed at Obama’s inauguration
Delores Foster, an Elon resident who runs Coming Attractions Hair Salon, owns a large farmhouse off of Route 87 North in Alamance County. Built out of the lumber that is scattered around and found on the farm, the large building once housed five families during the Great Depression when everyone had or was close to losing everything.
After her father died last January, Foster said she didn’t think twice about selling neither the property nor the farmhouse.
“Five families lived there because it’s huge,” Foster said. “We’ll always have a place to go, because we have a big farmhouse.”
While she never thought her family would have to consider using the farmhouse again, Foster is keeping her options open and is looking toward President-elect Barack Obama to implement changes before American socio-economic situations become so dire again.
So come this Jan. 20, Foster said there is one specific thing she wants Obama to address in his inauguration speech.
“A. Economy. B. Economy. C. Economy,” she said.
Though she deems health care, insurance and social security as important issues she also wants addressed, Foster said the economy is rooted deeply in everything surrounding American communities.
While she hasn’t personally felt the tug of the economy at Coming Attractions, she said she can see it around her and that while she has “no clue” how to go about fixing it, she does know it is a problem that has to be tackled together.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re a democrat or a Republican. The most crucial thing the House of Representatives and the Senate can do right now is work together for the betterment of the economy and to help the middle class people,” Foster said. “I try to be optimistic. I don’t want to be on the right, I don’t want to be on the left. I want to be straight down the middle.”
While she agreed the economy is the most important issue facing Americans today, Elon University Political Science Professor Sharon Spray said she does not think Obama will address any specific topics during his speech.
“I think this is a time in which presidents can use an inauguration speech to try to give people hope, try to give them inspiration,” Spray said. “I think that [Obama] has an opportunity here to think about trying to bring people together and he’s going to have to do that because it was a campaign that sort of drew people apart.”
Though she suspects there will be an “monumental” turnout despite the way the event is being downplayed for security reasons, Spray said this is a great opportunity to do more than just unite Americans.
“He’s going to have to address — of course — the sort of the negative time we’re in, the problems that we have,” Spray said.
Foster said many of her clients speak to her about the negative times. One of her customs recently had her hours at a local grocery store cut from 40 to 25 per week, her spouse was recently laid off and they are trying to support a small child as well.
“That’s just one couple,” Foster said. “It’s not just one thing. It’s in every aspect of our lives. These are the facts.”
Elon University Senior Olivia Hubert-Allen, who is a political science major from North Carolina as well as the editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper, echoes Foster’s thoughts. She thinks Obama will address the economy, since the local and national community as a whole is troubled about this unstable time.
“It concerns people,” Hubert-Allen said. “The economic situation is top priority for people at this point. But the Iraq situation is also still lingering.”
Hubert-Allen said the paper is covering the event since this is such a dramatic time in American history.
“The Pendulum will try to record history by documenting as a student paper and bringing that side of the story of readers because this is a historical inauguration,” Hubert-Allen said. “I think they’ll be an enormous outturn, since Obama had so many really passionate supporters and I think they will make the journey and travel to be there on inauguration day.”
But even though many people are looking forward to what Obama has to say and how he plans to turn America around, Burlington resident Robert Hamilton, who works as a body and paint mechanic at Young’s Auto Body Shop on Haggard Avenue, said he doesn’t care what Obama has to say on Jan. 20.
“It doesn’t matter what he talks about, something’s always changing,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t matter what he says anymore. He says too much.”
But that isn’t stopping people like Foster, who also didn’t vote for Obama, from trying to make a difference.
Even though she feels helpless in the economic situation, she is trying to do her part and make an impact on a local level. She donates to Loaves & Fishes, a local food pantry in Alamance County, on a monthly basis since they are out of food and she feels responsible for looking after her local citizens.
Also invested in working with local citizens, Elon University Senior Mary Bomoman, a communications major from Pennsylvania, helps tutor children around the area. She expects educational standards to be addressed, since she doesn’t believe the No Child Left Behind program is sufficient.
But while this is an important topic for Bomoman and her children’s future, she said the economy takes top reign.
“I’m now searching for a job and it’s really not a good time to be doing so,” she said. “I don’t expect him to do all of these amazing changes right away, I do expect it to be a process.”
Foster said though it may be a long process, she is impressed with the cabinet Obama has appointed so far and their level of experience and expertise. She hopes they give him wisdom.
“You can’t walk into this situation without supporting him,” Foster said. “His backup is the most important thing. We’ve all got to look at this thing head on and figure out what we can do during this time and how we can help other people.”
Click the links to read more about Obama’s stance on the economy, Iraq and healthcare.
Watch why Delores Foster, an Elon resident who runs Coming Attractions Hair Salon, is worried most about the middle class, their loss of homes, no where to turn and inability to pay taxes.
See what Elon University Political Science Professor Sharon Spray has to say about what she thinks will be the main points President-elect Barack Obama will emphasize during his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 2009.
Family business ensures science comprehension
by Andie Diemer
Nov. 25, 2008
Eighty-one years ago Thomas Powell Jr., then a science professor at Elon College, would regularly collect natural specimens for his own use in the classroom. After picking up on the fact that other instructors were looking to do a similar thing, he noticed the niche of collecting and marketing these types of products to educators.
Today, Carolina Biological has been a dominate fixture on the Burlington scene. Employing around 450 central North Carolinians, the company creates curriculum science kits to assist teachers in their educational activities and endeavors, Product Safety Manager Keith Barker said.
Servicing a fair number of schools nationwide and internationally, the company supplies everything from balance kits for kindergarteners to gene kits for college students.
“We’re using a lot of living materials, like plants, insects and preserved materials,” Barker said. “We try to provide materials to help science educators do their job.”
Catering to various departments like physiology, math, geology, chemistry and physics, Barker works to ensure the company is aware of and complies with all federal and state regulations.
He works with a lot of companies and customers to answer questions and make sure the entire operation and each product works smoothly.
While the headquarters is located on York Road in Burlington, three additional warehouses — where the production actually takes place — have been located at the Rockcreek Center for the past nine years.
“This is where our fulfillment operation, kit making and purchasing takes place,” Barker said. “There are a lot of scientists and doctors on staff. There’s a variety of interesting people and all have diverse job responsibilities and diverse roles, but somehow it all fits together.”
Tim Dallas, director of logistics, oversees the kit-making operations, which can range from large kits to outfit an entire classroom to single-person AP biology kits.
“We team up with the Smithsonian, who basically write books of experiments on topics of assignments,” Dallas said. “They work with us to turn the book into reality. We start with the books and build the kits around those.”
Carolina Biological performs field testing to ensure each purchase is complete and processing is safe and top of the line.
They offer 700 different titles of kits, most of which are different variations of similar products, Dallas said.
“It’s not uncommon for an entire state, county, school district, specific teacher to adopt these kits,” Dallas said.
He said the state of North Carolina recently purchased $5 million worth of Science and Technology for Children kits, which are used in North Carolina elementary schools.
Barker said students who learn through hands-on means, such as science kits, consistently outperform students who learn through textbooks on tests.
While many kits are ordered, it is not uncommon for Carolina Biological to sell hundreds of thousands of individual products, such as Petri dishes or test tubes, every year.
“We sell just about anything you can think of for science education from outfitting entire labs to individual microscope slides,” Dallas said.
The busiest times of the year are at the beginning of each semester, when orders flood the company for educational materials.
From Warehouse to Classroom
The warehouses receive the materials, store them — and as they are requested — bring them down, count, package, process and ship them.
While they serve specialties, such as certain cultures that can take weeks to grow, they also provide common, everyday things needed for science experiments such as plastic cups with hole punches in the bottom.
Dallas said the kits are unique because they come with every single component of an experiment, meaning teachers don’t have to track down small items like sharpies or paper clips.
They ship out brand new kits, as well as refills for bulky and often pricy kits. It is not uncommon for 50 or 100 kits to be ordered at one time, Dallas said.
A high tech conveyor and barcode system was completely installed in 2005, which drives the entire company. It automatically logs and calculates inventory, routes and spits specific materials off the belts that run throughout the entire warehouse.
It also creates algorithms to know when certain kits are in demand and to estimate how many need to be created.
Technology also plays a large role in the support department. It does everything from recording logs to increasing job performance to calculating calls to telling a support technician when the best time to take their lunch break is.
“It didn’t reduce jobs, but we are doing more now with the same amount of people,” Dallas said.
Barker said they strive for 100 percent on-time performance and are working to reduce their error rate.
Over the past two years, they have cut it by 45 percent.
It’s All In The Family
Barker said the entire staff is a great group of people that all care about each other.
“Many people have worked their whole lives, and their parents worked here too,” Dallas said. “I’ve been here for nine years and I’m still considered new. Most people have been here for 30, 40 or more years.”
Carolina Biological is still a family-owned business today and the family still plays a prominent role in the community, such as annually donating to United Way, Barker said.
“It’s a good, stable company that’s been here for 81 years, pays their taxes and provides employment,” Barker said. “We produce a product we’re rightfully proud of and we’re proud of our association with education.”
‘Poor Earl:’ Elon’s living history book
by Andie Diemer
Dec. 5, 2008
He remembers the day crystal clear, even 51 years later.
It was February 1957 and Earl Danieley, then a graduate and professor at Elon who was living in Baltimore completing his doctoral research in chemistry, received a call from George Colclough, who was on the Elon Board of Trustees.
A personal friend, Colclough’s call came as a surprise since the telephone was normally only used for urgent matters. But when the phone rang after dinner one night, Danieley was informed that the Board had chosen a new president.
“I said who’s that?” Danieley said. “And he said, ‘You.’ Now what they had done — without my being consulted — they had just up and elected me president. I was not an applicant. I did not know I had been nominated or considered.”
Danieley said his response was simple and honest: “George, you’re crazy.”
He was given instructions to seriously consider the proposition, discuss it with his wife, Verona, and report back to the executive committee.
Verona, who was in the kitchen washing dishes, immediately asked Danieley what was wrong, since the news had been delivered via phone.
“I said, ‘Well, they elected a new president today,’ and she said, ‘Who’s that?’” Danieley said. “There was a little moment of silence before I could get myself together, and I said, ‘Me.’ And she said — and I remember exactly what she said — ‘Poor Earl.’”
Another Surprise Around The Corner
Verona had acted as secretary to Elon’s current president, Leon Smith, for six years and was in tune with the stresses, problems and difficulties the president encountered on a daily basis, he said.
“She really didn’t want to have to see me do that and wasn’t looking forward to going through it herself,” he said.
But despite the drawbacks, Danieley became Elon College’s sixth president on July 1, 1957 at the age of 32.
While he reined for 16 years and one month, his relationship with the university began quite some time earlier, when he started down his path at Elon in 1941 as a freshman.
After graduating as chemistry major in May of 1946 with the intention of becoming a high school teacher, his plans were cut short when he realized the state of North Carolina was only paying teachers $1,438 a year.
While Danieley “always liked the idea of having a family,” he knew he wouldn’t be able to support one on such a minimal amount, so he enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the next month to begin chipping away at a master’s degree in education.
His dream was to one day be a high school principal, but little did he know much more was in store for him.
Student Today, Dean Tomorrow
On Aug. 1, 1941, Danieley received a phone call from Smith, asking him to return to Elon to teach chemistry.
“So, I was here on the faculty teaching three months after I graduated,” he said.
After he started teaching he realized he needed to complete graduate work in chemistry, so he began summer school at UNC. After completing four education classes, he received a master’s degree in education in 1949 but knew he needed to work towards a doctorate in organic chemistry.
In June of 1950 he moved his family to Chapel Hill to start working full time towards his doctorate. It was during this time he was named dean of the college, after Smith came to visit him at home on a Sunday morning after church.
“He said ‘Earl, I want you to be dean.’ I said I haven’t even finished my doctorate!” Danieley said. “[Smith] said I understand that, but the dean is leaving and I’ve talked with some of the senior faculty and they’re in agreement that you should be dean.”
So in the fall of 1953 — at the age of 29 — Danieley began to serve as acting dean.
He held the position for three years and was under an “unbelievably heavy workload,” which included being dean, teaching chemistry and raising two small boys at home.
“It was a tough time and I knew that it was not for me,” he said.
He moved his family to Baltimore in May of 1956 so he could study at Johns Hopkins. While he planned to eventually return to Elon, he only wanted to do so purely as a professor.
But it was just a few months later the fateful call from Colclough arrived.
“About the first 12 years were pleasant, enjoyable, challenging,” Danieley said about his time spent as president. “We did a lot of things that I wanted to see done, but I was ready to retire. It is an all-consuming job. You are never free. I mean really never free.”
After a long, tedious 16 years as president, Danieley finally handed the reigns over to James Young in 1973 and was “liberated.”
“I went home and for the first time in 16 years I didn’t have anything to do,” he said. “It was such a different feeling.”
While he wanted to take a year off between his presidency and returning to teach, he only spent a month out of the office before he began to teach chemistry full time.
But his previous responsibilities followed him around campus, especially when Young asked him to notify him when he made a mistake.
“I said, ‘Whoa, hold it. I will be here, if you need me you call me, if I can help you in any way I will, but I will not volunteer advice,’” he told Young.
It was the first time since receiving his doctorate that Danieley finally became what he was most passionate about: being a full-time chemistry teacher.
While the staff gossiped and questioned some of Young’s moves, Danieley said he always stayed out of it.
“The former president, if he’s smart, will stay out of what’s going on with the current president,” he said. “I have enjoyed immensely seeing all the progress that’s been made as Elon has climbed from where to were to where we are. It’s been amazing, the transformation that’s taken place. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously.”
Danieley grew up just four miles away from today’s campus on a tobacco farm, where his family was greatly connected to the region. His father was a chairman of the Alamance County Republican Party, his grandfather was the mayor of Elon and his great-great grandfather was a minister in the Christian Church that originally founded Elon.
After enrolling in Elon, he met Verona on campus in the fall of 1946 when she was working in the president’s office and they regularly ate in the dining hall together. After marrying in September of 1948, they had two sons and a daughter.
He also has seven grandchildren scattered across North Carolina, one of which is currently enrolled at Elon.
Senior Daniel Shutt said since he was a child he has had a very close relationship with Danieley.
“I’ve become closer to [my grandfather] by trying to understand how he sees the world,” Shutt said.
Shutt considers his grandfather one of his “favorite people” and considers himself lucky to have such a strong relationship with him.
“He’s like my idol,” Shutt said. “There’s no person who I would rather spend time with. People often can’t understand how we can even talk to each other, but it’s never been an issue.”
Still A Familiar Elon Sight
Despite his many roles at Elon, teaching has always been Danieley’s favorite. Aside from his concentration in chemistry, he has taught public speaking, algebra, debate, trigonometry, biochemistry, physical science, physics, problematic procedure — which he taught for 61 years — as well as coaching the debate team.
Today, Danieley teaches chemistry part time in the fall and spring as well as a class on the history of Elon during January.
He keeps a book with the signatures of every student he taught during his first year as a faculty member at Elon on the bookshelf next to his desk. Going down the list, he names the individuals, their background, personal details and what they are doing today, since staying in close connection to his former students is one of his passions.
“The relationships are something that I treasure highly,” he said.
But even though he has truly lived Elon through and through, Danieley said he isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
At 84-years-old, he doesn’t plan to retire until teaching becomes work.
“I have so much fun coming to school. I have some unbelievably interesting students and seeing them and working with them is such a pleasure,” Danieley said. “I know how old I am and I had few relatives to live this long but I don’t spend any time thinking about how old I am. It’s wonderful to have so much to do that I don’t have time to think about being an old man.”
Instead, what he focuses on is that next chemistry lesson coming up, what story he is going to share with his Elon 101 class and when he is going to see his grandson at East Carolina next.
Cultivating Elon From The Ground Up
Danieley has seen outstanding national figures appear at Elon, including Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton — twice — and Al Gore. But one of his favorite things to do is watch Elon grow and unfold before his eyes.
His response to each national recognition Elon receives is “just joy and satisfaction.”
“It’s so fantastic that you really have to say this is real, this is for real, this is not a joke were playing,” he said in regards to two national top ten ranking Elon recently received. “When I was in high school there were people that were ugly enough to say ‘If you can’t go to college, go to Elon.’ I’d like to find every one of those guys and make ‘em eat this without ketchup.”
Campus today is neither the Elon Danieley presided over nor the one he dreamed about.
“I never had a dream this big. You can’t really dream something you can’t imagine,” he said. “I could never see us at this point with this recognition. They say Elon is really doing things and I just grin real big and say, ‘You’re right, we are. We surely are.’”
Watch to see the best advice Danieley has ever received:
University research trip canceled after terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India
by Andie Diemer
Dec. 3, 2008
A five-member research group from Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center should have been in New York boarding a plane to Hyderabad, India, on Saturday night, to attend the third annual United-Nations facilitated Internet Governance Forum. But when terrorist attacks broke out about 450 miles from Hyderabad in Mumbai, India on the previous Wednesday, it became questionable whether the group would be able to make the trip because of security concerns. And Elon officials canceled the Dec. 1-6 trip, despite reassurance from the Government of India.
Trip organizers began to monitor the violent attacks in Mumbai, through which the research group’s was scheduled to travel, since the terrorists were targeting Americans and Britons.
The attacks on Mumbai, India’s largest city and financial capital, began on Nov. 26 in what became 10 coordinated terrorist attacks.
Indian security forces were able to regain control on Nov. 29, but not before at least 172 people — 34 of whom were foreign nationals — were killed, with at least another 293 injured. Attacks occured at a railway station, café, popular tourist restaurant, hospital and Mumbai Police Headquarters.
“One member of the five-person Imagining the Internet research group was extremely concerned about the Mumbai terror, and one student’s family was concerned about the group’s safety,” said Janna Anderson, head of the Imagining the Internet Center. “Because there was not 100 percent agreement by all participants that the research expedition should go ahead as planned, Elon administrators advised it was best to cancel.”
Three of the four students were upset the journey was canceled, but understood the concerns expressed by others in the research group.
After consulting with Larry Basirico, dean of international programs, and Nancy Midgette, associate provost, during Thanksgiving break and given the information on hand at the time, School of Communications Dean Paul Parsons made a recommendation to Anderson to cancel the trip.
“A decision like this always involves a comparison of risk versus reward,” Parsons said. “The reward in having Elon students attend the Internet Governance Forum would have been substantial for the students and for our Imagining the Internet Center.”
But since the terrorist attack introduced risk into the equation, a decision to forgo the trip had to be made before it could be asserted if the risk was minimal or not, Parsons said.
“The students and I were excited for the trip to India. It would’ve been a wonderful research and working experience for everyone involved,”said Colin Donohue, coordinator of student media and instructor in communications who was scheduled to travel with the students. “It was a shame that the trip had to end, but the terrorist attacks that lasted three days were tragic and worrisome.”
Other people who were supposed to attend the IGF canceled their reservations and several businesses with headquarters in Mumbai and Hyderabad canceled their travel plans in wake of the terrorist attacks, he said.
“In the end, I wanted to make sure we erred heavily on the side of caution, and that feeling was taken into consideration before the trip was canceled,” Donohue said. “It was a deciding factor.”
Student researcher sophomore Drew Smith said the trip had been in the works for about a month now and that he had been conducting weekly meetings with Anderson to discuss the research being planned to conduct.
“I got my visa in the mail two weeks ago and I was all set to go until we got news about the attacks,” Smith said.
While the trip would have provided him with research opportunity and a different cultural experience, he said he did fell uneasy about flying through Mumbai since the attacks were ongoing and targeted at someone like himself.
“It was a let down for it to get canceled the day before we were supposed to leave, after all the preparation,” Smith said. “But it’s understandable that the school decided not to send us because the attacks happened days before we were set to arrive.”
Smith said it affects the Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center the most.
“The center had documented all of the previous Internet Governance Forums, and now the piece of Internet history that is happening in Hyderabad will not receive the same depth of coverage,” he said.
The group was set to produce a series of documentary video reports on the forum, which would have been added to Imagining the Internet, an online resource with more than 6,000 pages of content illuminating the past, present and future of the Internet.
‘Civilization’ breaks mold
Iraqi visitor bounces back after statue vandalism incident
by Andie Diemer
Dec. 3, 2008
Scholar-in-Residence Ahmed Fadaam finally released “Civilization from the mold” on Monday morning, when the Iraqi artist and journalist began the stages of taking the plaster off of his masterpiece, which had been brutally disfigured by a vandal just weeks before.
Fadaam freed Civilization, the sculpture of a Middle Eastern woman with dozens of hands sprouting from the ground surrounding her, in a four-hour process. As a waste mold, Fadaam had to break away the mold piece by piece, all while hoping his sculpture underneath had not suffered any damages through the process.
“I’m only worried about one place — here — where I think that we have an air gap,” Fadaam said, pointing to Civilization’s arm. “But if we can open the mold safely then it’s not going to be a big deal. We can fix it later. But for the rest, I’m quite confident that it went on well.”
Project Pericles Director Tom Arcaro, who worked to bring Fadaam to campus, said the releasing agent that kept the plaster from bonding to the concrete underneath didn’t work as well as they had hoped and that there was some slight damage to the arm that Fadaam was concerned about.
“The chipping off process is more tedious and painstaking than he had planned, but he said that’s to be expected that any project is going to have any repairs when you take off the mold,” Arcaro said.
The next step is to repair the places where the mold didn’t work perfectly.
“If you’re expecting a ready-to-display sculpture, you’re going to be disappointed at this point,” Arcaro said. “But it’s a process. You’re stressing away the plaster and there’s going to be some repairs.”
Fadaam’s sculpture was vandalized Nov. 19 when an unknown vandal broke into the warehouse he was working it and smeared Civilization’s face, lopped off her breasts and smashed a hammer into the back of her head.
After working for several hours to repair the damages of the statue that he believes represents a noble cause about women in the Middle East and their fight for their future, Fadaam was then able to cast her.
He said many artists, some of whom he had never even met, who heard about the damage contacted him to express their condolences and support him.
“They rushed to send me e-mails to express their support and sympathy and I found it really great,” Fadaam said. “I was speechless when I was reading those.”
However, he told them not to worry or feel sorry for him, since it would make him feel weak.
Instead, he reminded them that art has survived history.
“We are stronger than time, and art has survived and will keep surviving because of us — the artists, because of you and because of me,” Fadaam said. “A bunch of people, like those who looted my school in 2003 or those who vandalized my statue now, are not going to stop us.”
The statue is expected to be unveiled in the spring and will be placed on campus as a gift from Fadaam.
The seed of the need for acceptance, security planted by blind eyes
Younger and younger Alamance County residents are weaving themselves a life to find a family the only place they can: gangs
by Andie Diemer
Dec. 1, 2008
By simply thumbing through a packet of extracurricular activities offered at Burlington’s Hillcrest Elementary School, Student Teacher Jenn Keldie sees normalcy dominate the list: science fair, spelling bee, D.A.R.E., a news show, tutoring. But one program offered generally doesn’t appear on a typical school agenda, but is one Keldie sees as essential to Hillcrest: Promises Energizing Progress Club.
The program, which acts as a support group for at-risk students who’ve demonstrated inappropriate behavior, has been instituted to curb problems at an early age before they blossom into more severe issues, namely gang involvement, according to the School Improvement Plan for Hillcrest Elementary.
“In fourth grade there’s a lot of verbal assault, in fifth grade it’s more physical,” Keldie said. “A lot of boys are getting immersed into gang culture, not into gang life. But you can tell they’re picking up on the language of gang life and you can hear the way they’re talking and starting to verbally assault each other.”
While Keldie hasn’t heard many students talk directly about gang relations and has been instructed to report anything she may overhear or witness, she said there also seems to be a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Some students, like one that threatened a Hillcrest teacher last year, are asked to join the all-boys club. Other boys, like one of Keldie’s current students, have requested to remain in the program after previously participating and realizing its value.
“They see [gang involvement] in their homes and neighborhoods and that’s what they know and think is the norm,” Keldie said. “They don’t know there are other approaches of handling situations and interacting with people.”
It evident there’s a community issue when thoughts and actions revolving around gangs can be found in a fourth grade classroom, Keldie said.
But with 65 identified gangs in North Carolina — and the youngest known member is 9-years-old — establishing programs like these is imperative to combating the problem, according to the Alamance City-County Gang Task Force. They estimate more than 400 individuals are involved in some form of gang activity across the state, with 56 percent being under 18.
A Young, Growing Problem
More than half of gang-related crimes were committed by juveniles under 18 between July 2006 and December 2007 alone, illustrating that the youth needs to be immersed in educational programs before they’re fully introduced to gang life, Randy Jones, director of public information for the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department, said.
Dwayne Harden, chairman of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, said he has seen court intake gradually increase with gang-related, juvenile offenses during the past four years.
Media glorification, area immigration, easy interstate access, racial disproportion, lack of parental involvement and a central North Carolina location make Alamance County an easy area to foster gangs, Harden said.
According to Harden, between 500 and 600 juveniles are referred to Alamance County’s Juvenile Justice System per year. Out of those cases, between 250 and 300 are put through the court system.
While graffiti, assault and arson are the most common gang-related crimes, Harden said it takes between six months and a year to fully complete a rehabilitation program before the offender is ensured their record will be expunged once they turn 18.
Those who violate the court order are brought back into court and given more consequences.
But since Alamance County has a higher average of juvenile crime than the state average, another effort instated to combat this rising problem is the North Carolina Metropolitan Coalition, which was created in 2001 by several North Carolina area mayors, including Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall.
After recognizing the impact gang activity was having on local communities, the coalition formed to prompt state legislators to pass anti-gang legislation that would be in affect across the state.
“The NCMC recognizes that a balanced approach of prevention, intervention and suppression is needed to address gangs and supports both bills,” a NCMC statement said. “[These laws] create stronger punishments for criminal actions and allocate funding for prevention and intervention programs.”
The Senate voted 47-0 to approve the legislation set and the Street Gang Suppression Act and the Street Gang Prevention and Intervention Act were created a few years ago and are currently being urged for consideration in the General Assembly.
“Not only will this legislation give cities and towns across North Carolina additional tools to prevent and suppress gang activity, but most importantly, they will help save our youth from the insidious nature of gangs,” Coalition Chairman and Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy said to WRAL.
Fraternizing With The Escalating Enemy
Jones saw the issue growing around the same time as the NCMC and helped to pen the grants that established the first gang unit in Alamance County in 2005. He eventually led the unit to become part of the regular budget.
But as intelligence information developed, Jones was shocked by the problem’s magnitude.
“I found out I didn’t know as much as I thought I did,” Jones said. “I thought we had a bad problem. It was about four times worse than I thought.”
While the task force has three full-time members, he said he could justify 10 in a grant after seeing the extent of the problem.
With a very fluid gang culture, the research being conducted is a “never-ending ordeal,” since it’s a major failure in previous investigations, he said. The team also does undercover work, specific investigations, makes community presentations since the school system is main recruiting grounds and gets school officials to participate in training and recognition sessions.
While there are a variety of gangs in a county of only 155,000 people, many are localized and take allegiance to the history or criteria practiced by other gangs, Jones said.
Many have also moved from major cities to rural areas, such as Alamance County, because there’s excessive anti-gang action and enforcement happening in metropolitan regions.
Bullying The County
Jones said gang officers have to develop their own street credibility, interact and constantly interview gang members. Most times, members come straight up to the officers because of bragging rights and wanting their information to be known, he said.
“It’s perpetuating because people get recognized and think it’s great,” Jones said. “It’s how intimidation works. If you’ve never heard of them, then you don’t know the name.”
He said one of the Task Force’s main goals is to give school officials a basis of what to look for, since part of their lack of knowledge feeds into the problem.
In one Alamance County high school, there was a school newsletter distributed with a photograph of seemingly innocent students gathered. But once trained officers looked at the picture, they realized the students were flashing gang signs and delivering gang messages through the image.
While training to identify the problem is one measure being taken, another is to educate non-gang participants on their safety.
Elon University Senior Libby Long, a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, said one of her advisers who works in the Alamance School System talked to her chapter about being cautious.
“I’ve never been exposed to gangs in my life. I didn’t expect there to be a gang issue here,” Long said.
Long and her sisters were instructed to be careful about shopping and being alone in parking lots at night, since it makes them easy targets as young females.
However, Elon University Senior Maggie Zimmerman said while she learned about the gang problem a year after enrolling in Elon, she normally feels safe and has not witnessed any gangs, gang-related crimes or graffiti around town. She said her feelings reflect the perspective of a majority of Elon students.
A Gang Does The Crime, A Gang Pays The Time
But even though everyone in the county doesn’t feel the gang presence, gangs are still prevalent and rehabilitation programs have been established to help stabilize juveniles once they are identified and taken through the court system.
Jones said he has a difficult time referring to some of the 14 and 15 year-olds he encounters as children, since they are “some of the most violent ones” the county is dealing with and they are committing “very adult crimes.” The maturity level of crimes being committed by 15- and 16-year-olds is now at the level of a typical 21-year-old from 35 years ago, when he first got involved in law enforcement.
Eric Thompson, a full-time ordained minister who works in the Burlington School System, has been connected with at-risk Hispanic youth in the area for more than 10 years. He created a rehabilitation program, In His Faith, four years ago in conjunction with juvenile justice after he noticed a need for the demographic when it came to gang offenses.
The group, which meets every Thursday, has three parts: a Biblical discussion, a karate potion to develop self discipline and respect for authority and adolescent fellowship to foster organizational relationships.
“I don’t like a lot of rules, but the rules we have are pretty solid. I’ve tried to make it very much non-confrontational, but very much try to make them think,” Thompson said about the all-male youth between 12- and 17-years-old. “It’s a gang-free environment for two hours.”
Here, those enrolled work on dealing with violence, building a reputation and more.
“Basically we just want to present to them there’s a different view out there,” Thompson said. “There’s a different view of life, there’s a different way to have those same needs met.”
The Dance of Denial
Thompson said most kids begin to drift into gangs while they are in upper-elementary school, so most of them have spent years perceiving gang life as “pretty much it.”
Since youth worldwide tend to get involved for identity and protection, they often view these destructive organizations as something they will always survive and will not be affected by in the long term, he said.
But Harden said it should not always have to come down to these rehabilitation programs to establish a sense of well-being in adolescents.
“It starts with the family,” Harden said. “Parents need to get more involved in their kids home situation.”
Jones said not recognizing, denying or turning a blind eye only perpetuates the issue.
“People say we don’t have gang members, we have wannabees. But the wannabes are gonna be,” Jones said. “If they’re going to do everything a gang member does, then they become a gang member.”
Jones said another problem gangs present is the destruction of family systems, since around 95 percent of those involved — from all ethnic backgrounds — are raised by a single parent or other relative and experience a lack of discipline in home and school.
Richard Ramos, president and CEO of The Latino Coalition for Faith and Community Leadership in Los Angeles, has developed a curriculum to educate parents about gang culture, since he believes prevention — not intervention or police enforcement — is the key to curbing the problem.
While Alamance County’s problem is not atypical, he said the community if focusing on the wrong problem.
There are 760,000 gang members across the county, but out of the entire population, only 5 percent of youth have ever joined a gang, Ramos said. In the prime ages between 10 and 17, when youth are most likely already in or to become involved in gangs, only between 1 and 2 percent of all of America’s youth falls into this category.
Investigating why children do not join gangs will reveal why those who are involved chose to do so, he said.
“The reason most kids do not join gangs is because of the home they’re raised in,” he said. “It seems very elementary, but we’re somehow overlooking it. When it comes to prevention, we’re leaving out the support of the families.”
Communities are usually not very educated about gangs, know any gang members, are scared and under political and social pressure, so they often demand to have action taken right away and believe law enforcement suppression and community standards are a necessity, he said.
He targets to educate young couples — with and without children — because while intervention is good, Ramos believes prevention is better.
“It’s getting into younger kids,” Jones said. “People are going to have to get the realization it’s here, it’s real. They’re going to have to deal with these people in a very stern manner.”
But he said the war will never be won until the problem is addressed and accepted by the community and heavy resources are poured into prevention and rehabilitation.
But don’t expect this anytime soon.
“Are we going to get rid of it? I’m afraid not,” Jones said. “And the reason we’re not going to eradicate it is because society’s not willing to.”
Obama churning out Cabinet members
by Andie Diemer
Dec. 1, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama is rounding out his national security team and appointed former campaign rival Hillary Clinton as secretary of state during a press conference Monday. He also announced he will keep the Bush administration’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates on in the same position and named former Justice Department official Eric Holder as attorney general.
“She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and toughness and a remarkable work ethic,” Obama said when he introduced Clinton. “She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world’s leaders, who will command respect in every capital and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.”
Retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones will fill in as national security adviser, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary and campaign foreign policy adviser Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.
Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle will step up as Secretary of Health and Human Services and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will act as commerce secretary.
“I assembled this team because I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions,” Obama said during the press conference.
These individuals will work as the top echelon of advising for Obama on foreign and national security issues during a global “war on terror.”
While Obama said he is going to welcome “a vigorous debate inside the White House,” he reconfirmed he will still be setting policy as the president.
“I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, and I will expect them to implement that vision once decisions are made,” he said.
With half of his 15-member Cabinet in place, Obama is continuing to rapidly name those who will accompany him in office only a month after Election Day.
The most important roles at State, Justice, Treasury and Defense have all been instated.
“[My appointees] share my pragmatism about the use of power and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world,” he said.
The national security appointments were made just a week after his economic team was named, which will be led by Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary.
Obama said this is all in an effort to be able to “hit the ground running” when he is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Turning on the light
by Andie Diemer
Nov. 19, 2008
Having the ability to walk into a public meeting or photocopy a public document is a freedom many Americans take for granted or may not even know exists. But some individuals have worked endlessly and devoted their life to ensure every citizen and reporter in America has the ability to access this type of information. In turn, the people using this information, attending meetings or other things may be harvesting information for their personal use or they may function as a watchdog.
Elon University has the privilege of being the headquarters for North Carolina’s Sunshine Center. Each year, the school celebrates with Sunshine Week, where panels, workshops and speakers focus on the gift of freedom of public information. This year, the North Carolina Open Government Coalition will host Sunshine Week at Elon from 16-21, 2009.
Connie Book, associate dean of Elon’s school of communications, said Sunshine Laws give way to an informed electorate and are essential for democracy to function correctly.
“Sunshine Week is a celebration of open government in our democracy, one week each year set aside to remember the importance of accountability of government to the people it serves,” she said in a statement.
Elon hasn’t held a closed city meeting since 1981 and a majority of public employees and elected officials correctly abide by the principles of open government, Book said. But even though the laws are merited with good intentions and seem to be clear, they still meet resistance today.
In the past 12 months, Elon’s Sunshine Center has received 187 calls and e-mails, varying from newly elected local government officials asking what constitutes a meeting to parents accessing information about schools.
“I’d like to say that North Carolina was leading the nation in these efforts, but we aren’t,” Book said in a statement. “Instead we are following and are the 39th state to launch an organization to promote open government and the First Amendment.”
According to the Star Online, several media groups, including the North Carolina Press Association, have filed suit against North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley for “alleged violations of state public records law.”
Since e-mail was not a main form of communication or considered public record when the laws were established, there is confusion over where to draw the line. But the controversy thickened when e-mails vanished from Easley’s official account and a handwritten note from former secretary of Health and Human Services about North Carolina’s efforts to reform the public mental health system was never released.
The changes in society have made legislators re-examine Sunshine Laws in regards to e-mail, but many people believe the e-mail accounts that come with being in public office — a tax-paid position — should be public record.
“These accusations don’t involve a few isolated slip-ups or omissions,” the Star Online said. “The pattern that emerges, based on sworn statements and other sources, suggests a top-down strategy to delete, destroy and conceal messages going into and out of the governor’s office.”
“Information that involves government business — printed documents, e-mails and otherwise — belongs to the public,” the Star Online said. “The North Carolina public records law makes that clear.”
Also, bear in mind that violations of public records and open government laws do not represent an offense against the news media, but against every person who calls this state home.
Because these forms of communication involve government business, they do belong to the public and it is not only a disservice to the news media but against every citizen when this type of information is not public.
“The information involved in the transaction of public business belongs to all of us,” the Star Online said.
Click HERE for more information about Sunshine Day at Elon.