The end is nigh.

I’m not sure if this day warrants some kind of spiteful victory dance or a couple of nostalgic tears. Today, the challenge draws to a close.

To put it simply (and perhaps lamely), the challenge was most certainly a challenge. Surprisingly, I did not mind having so many deadlines. The difficult part did not lie in actually getting the writing done, but in coming up with things to write about. 

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the days of having stories assigned to me. Those days of moaning about how I’d just like to write what I want are nothing but a memory these days. It must take a certain special talent to come up with so many ideas in such quick succession, and I’ve yet to develop or stumble upon it. But I think it’s projects like this one that help writers become more receptive to inspiration and more familiar with their creative processes.

This project fulfilled its basic intention: to keep me fresh. In past summers, I’d take long breaks from writing and fall out of practice, making me write more slowly and clumsily the following fall when school would start. But this year I feel I’ve avoided that slump; I’m prepared to go into my internship (tomorrow!), pen and brain ready. But that’s not all I’ve learned.

Constantly looking for topics got me into the habit of looking at news stories critically. Over the course of the challenge I began checking npr.org and stltoday.com daily, learning how they cover different stories, attribute different sources and how their news bloggers blend their opinion with facts.

And by hearing other bloggers’ voices, I’ve continued to hone my own. My older posts sound completely different than my newer ones. Because I’m not writing for a news service, I can ease off my structured news voice and editorialize. I can even make (or attempt to make) jokes! It’s been a refreshing change.

The blog’s viewing statistics will always vex me. It seems that the more random, personal posts like Awkwards and Awesomes and Seven Stereotypes I’m Guilty of get more views the day I publish them. But then the more news-related ones like St. Louisans and Their Loaded Question and You Are Who You Are on the Internet get more views over time. In short, readers, I don’t really understand you.

I plan on keeping the blog going (knock on wood) for variety’s sake. While too much of both extremes tires out my brain, I suspect a little blogging amidst more structured assignments and projects will do it good.

And as I continue to exercise my thoughts, I hope that at least some of you will continue reading. When I imposed  the challenge upon myself I also imposed it upon you without asking.  Thank you for sticking with me through it all.

Here’s to the future of Filling Up and Pouring Out!

You are who you are on the Internet

You are who your social media profiles say you are. One veteran anchorman with St. Louis’ KMOV-TV has recently brought that fact to light.

Larry Connors, longtime anchorman with “News 4 St. Louis,” posted on his Facebook page May 13 claiming that the IRS had been targeting him following his April 2012 interview with President Barak Obama.

In the post, now removed from the page and quoted in an article on stltoday.com, Connors stated, “I don’t accept ‘conspiracy theories,’ but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me…What I don’t like to even consider … is that because of the Obama interview … the IRS put a target on me.

Can I prove it? At this time, no. But it is a fact that since that April 2012 interview … the IRS has been pressuring me.”

On Tuesday Connors backed off the comment during KMOV’s evening newscast, saying, “To be fair, I should disclose that my issues with the IRS preceded that interview (with Obama) by several years.”

And now Connors is facing the consequences. He is off the air until further notice and was scheduled to meet with KMOV executives today to discuss his future.

He is a reporter using a Facebook page with his name on it to report the news. His speculations, which Connors himself later admitted were inaccurate, hint at paranoia and bias against the Obama administration and the IRS. They have no place on that page or anywhere in Connors’ reporting. He should have kept them private instead of broadcasting them to his followers who rely on him for news coverage.

The fiasco is not only embarrassing for Connors and KMOV, but it provides keen insight into the ambiguity of the use of social media.

If Connors wasn’t a reporter, he could post those comments on the page without jeopardizing his professional reputation. But reporters take on the responsibility of being fair, unbiassed and accurate; therefore, as a reporter, Connors has forfeited the privilege of writing whatever he wants on social media.

Because our personal profiles are supposed to represent who we are to anyone viewing them, social media makes it easy for anyone, not just reporters, to embarrass or even incriminate themselves.

For instance, it would be unwise for a corrections officer to post photos of themselves participating in illegal activities online.  That officer would gain the reputation as an unprofessional representative of his profession, just as Larry Connors’ statement has led many to believe him an unprofessional journalist.

Our roles and responsibilities in society determine our roles and responsibilities on social media. Some professionals must forfeit certain privileges and keep certain aspects of their life private to preserve their professional reputations.

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