Monthly Archives: December 2009

One-On-One With Tracy Jan

by Cassandra Martinez

When Tracy Jan was only seven, the seeds of her journalism career were being planted. Jan created her very own newspaper, filled with drawings, headlines and stories about events surrounding her life.

From then on, Jan became involved in the news whenever possible, writing for her high school paper and creating her own college newspaper.

During her time at Stanford University, Jan was awarded the Fulbright grant and allowed to travel to Taiwan to write human-interest stories for a local paper in Mandarin.

When I met Tracy at the Boston Globe a few days ago with Sam Mausner, she was nothing but cordial and informative cornering the past, present and future of her career.

While she admits the future of journalism is still a mystery, with the Boston Globe having a particularly hard financial year ending with most journalists taking a 10% pay cut as well as other benefits being slashed.

According to Tracy, hard financial times and the emergence of the Internet have made the Globe focus on their site and upgrading its features to make the site more user-friendly.

When asked what she thought was a negative aspect of this new virtual age of journalism, Tracy had a definite answer: the negative comments and citizen journalism.

“The hardest thing is just filtering comments,” Jan said. “People can and have just spouted off about one of my stories, not bothering to censor themselves.”

A possible reason for such brutal honesty and bullying on the web could be the fact that there are no consequences to bad behavior on the net. I, myself, have seen numerous stories with a multitude of comments that spawned from anger over someone who wrote something irresponsible.

Tracy’s beef with citizen journalism and blogging is with the thinking that a lot of people on the Internet are not able to properly discern quality journalism that has been checked for facts from opinion-tainted blogs calling themselves relevant sources of news.

But in the age where news and social media on the web have become outlets for one another with such sites like Facebook and Twitter, it seems like this is only the beginning.

Looking Back…

As my first semester at Emerson College comes to a close, I can’t wait to get off campus and fly those thousands of miles back to Texas the day before Christmas eve.

When I think about what I will be leaving behind here on campus, my journalism blog springs to mind as one of the most timely and innovative assignments I had to do.

In a world where pretty much everyone can have their opinion read by the world thanks to their blogs, journalists must learn the power of the internet and social media and use it to their advantage.

Following my reporter from The Boston Globe, Tracy Jan, was a blessing. Reading and critiquing stories about higher education and the multitude of colleges that surrounded my new home was both informative and entertaining.

I’ve actually had the experience of reading news about my own school that I had no idea was actually occuring through Tracy’s articles in The Globe, such as the tenure issue that Tracy said was actually inspired by an investigative article she read in the Berkley Beacon.

Looking through the statistics for my blog, I get about ten views a week, mostly from myself. So I may not be reaching a huge audience, but the point is that its here.

A search with just the right phrase and anyone can stumble onto my blog to read just what I have to say on the subject of higher education and Tracy Jan.

Fitzsimmons Fixing Admissions

by Cassandra Martinez

Now, as the admissions season kicks into high gear, the 65-year-old dean traverses the country on recruiting trips, sharing his tale of how a working-class youth managed to make the trip from the modest streets of Weymouth to Harvard Yard, just 15 miles away but seemingly a world apart. It’s a story line he imparts frequently to put Harvard on the radar of students who might have dismissed an Ivy League education as a pipe dream.

Even in today’s world of financial aid and grants for students applying to colleges across the country, when you picture a typical student gracing the halls of of a prestigious university such as Harvard you get a very clear image of a prep school kid with all the advantages in life.

Ask William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean, what the ideal prospective student looks like and he will give you a very different picture.

When Fitzsimmons took the position of dean he was unhappy with the “pipeline of students with prep school pedigrees” and was determined to change the way Harvard accepted students.

One of Fitzsimmons noteworthy changes to Harvard admissions procedures was back in 2006 when he influenced the change to dismantle early action because statistically early admission “tended to favor the most affluent, savvy students.”

Fitzsimmons relationship with Harvard started when he was in middle school living outside of the city, but in his eyes he was world’s away from the university “with its opulent dining halls and common rooms decorated with gilt-framed portraits, wood paneling, and leather furniture.”

According to Fitzsimmions’ collegues, he has been able to persuade Harvard alumni to fund scholarships for lower-income students even if it means the alum’s family might have a harder time getting into the school.

In a world where college education is becoming only more expensive with each passing year and financial aid is becoming a much more difficult process to obtain, Fitzsimmons is taking a stand and making changes that all other college’s can follow.