Reaping campaign donations from the faculty lounge

Click to download the full PDF version of the chart.

For my final story in The Chronicle, I dredged thousands of lines of data in Excel by hand, culling the useful information to discern where academics are putting their money in the 2012 presidential election. It’s no surprise that pointy-headed intellectuals are contributing decidedly more to President Obama’s re-election campaign — fully 81 percent — compared to Mitt Romney’s campaign.

What has changed since 2008, however, is the concurrent rise of the for-profit university and outside campaign spending through so-called Super PACs. The story is locked behind a paywall, but the link above should give access to the whole story for the next few days. You can find more of my clips from The Chronicle and elsewhere here.

To come: My summer to-do list for exploring D.C. and beyond, complete with a healthy dose of cynicism about adult kickball leagues.


Switchback turns and Shawn Colvin

Recipe for a road trip: Take 700 miles, one 14-foot UHAUL truck full of furniture, two twenty-somethings, and one very disgruntled tabby. Mix well.

This is how I spent the past four days. Some highlights: blasting middle school jams and listening to “The Art of Fielding” on audiobook; having an excuse to eat 1-2 fast food meals a day; and driving through the astoundingly scenic-yet-terrifying Allegheny Mountains.

Today I finally have a chance to catch up on email (at Qualia, per usual) and get back on my job search grind. I met the very talented Torie Partridge, whose Petworth poster adorns my living room wall and now the sidebar of this website. Check out her work here!

Now, time to re-up my caffeine dosage. Talk soon.

We have to stop meeting like this!

Why hello again! *blows dust off keyboard* After a not-so-brief hiatus, I will be posting on this little blog o’mine more regularly. Pinky swear.

Here’s the highlights reel from the past nine months or so: From September to December I wrote for ChicagoNow, the Chicago Tribune’s community blog, and did freelance work for Patch in Chicago’s south suburbs. In December I was accepted to an internship with The Chronicle of Higher Education, beating out more than 100 other applicants, so in January I jet-setted across the country to D.C. and here I have resided ever since. You can read more about my time at the Chronicle, which came to an end last Friday, in my updated clips section.

Tomorrow I fly home to Milwaukee on the eve of Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election, which, in case you haven’t heard much about it, is a pretty big deal. If I could, I would buy a case of New Glarus for each of the reporters in the Capitol Press Room tasked with covering the never-ending circus that has been this past year in Wisconsin.

I don’t know where my career will take me next, but today, I’m just trying to enjoy the breeze coming in the front door of Qualia Coffee and trying not to worry too much about the future. Talk soon.

One year ago today…

On September 28, 2010, I had the opportunity to go on CNN to talk about President Obama’s visit to the UW-Madison campus and “the youth vote.”

It was a surreal start to a surreal day — I would later sit 40 feet from the president and look out on Library Mall, transformed by masses of students and Army helicopters making circles over the crowd.

The night before I’d been working at the Cardinal office until 3 a.m. and had to wake up at 4:30 to get ready to Skype in to the interview. So, despite my best home-spun efforts at makeup and lighting, I looked like a zombie on air.

But, as Levar Burton says, you don’t have to take my word for it:

I still can’t force myself to watch the video.

Political ‘pork’ and the Milwaukee Bucks

When one of my editors at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel walked over to my desk two weeks ago and asked, “How would you like to do a Politifact?” of course I jumped at the opportunity.

But writing the thing was easier said than done — you can read it here. Politifact pieces follow a certain writing structure: First you introduce the claim that’s being examined, then provide background on it, making sure both sides give their case, then a panel of editors vote on the claim. In this case we’d originally ruled the claim “Mostly False,” but in the end editors decided the claim was all-the-way “False” because of the multiple inaccuracies in the group’s statement.

The experience made the last week of my internship a memorable one, and made me even more reluctant to have to leave. Services like Politifact are especially important these days, when news outlets are called out for their “bias” at the drop of a hat and public disillusionment is rampant. By confronting the facts on their face and evaluating the claims public figures are making, particularly during the run-up to an election, news outlets can provide readers (or viewers, or listeners) with the kind of accountability and civil service they expect. Showing your audience the process behind the reporting can strengthen their trust in ways that a regular news piece or even an editorial simply cannot.

Feedback much appreciated!

Hail fellow, well met!

Certainly a more interesting salutation than that dusty stand-in, “Hello, World!” — doncha think?

(Tea roses outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, August 2010)

I’m currently devouring “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Díaz, and in it the titular nerd greets the narrator with the painful, “Hail and well met, Yunior.”

Wikipedia tells me that variations on the phrase date back to the 16th century, and that James Joyce used it in “Ulysses” in reference to newspaper men. As I’m an (admittedly green) member of those ranks, I thought it’d be an appropriate introduction for my “professional” website. I put “professional” in scare quotes both because it so often gets equated with “stuffy,” and because I’m not a full-fledged “professional” journalist yet.

That’s where this freshly minted online presence comes in. I’ll be uploading my resume and clips in the very near future, along with (hopefully) entertaining tales of my quest for employment.

Thanks for reading!