Stand For The Silent- The anti-bullying campaign

Stand for the Silent is a movement started in Oklahoma against bullying and its repercussions following the suicide of Ty Smalley who was suspended after retaliating against a bully that had incessantly picked on him for two years. Started by a small group of students and the program has now reached over 833,000 kids and Kirk and Laura Smalley, the parents of Ty Smalley, have travelled across America, flown to Australia to meet with a family of another victim of “bullycide”, and met with various influential characters including President Obama and Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga and collaborated with clothing group Sevenly to share their program and help children understand the effects of bullying.

The program, now four years old, has been a tough journey for Kirk and Laura, I recently interviewed them about Stand for the Silent and here is what they had to say; 

1.    What is the hardest thing about running this program?

K & L- Probably the hardest thing about running SFTS is the daily struggle to find funding to continue to do what we do, without charging for our presentations and being strictly donation based its very stressful to try and find ways daily to continue. The other hardest thing is being gone from home so much and not being with each other every day. In trying to keep costs down we very rarely get to travel together. <p>

 2.    Did you ever doubt your goals/vision for SFTS?

  K- I personally have doubt creep up on me almost every day honestly. I have learned that if we just keep trying though and refuse to give up that we can overcome any doubts. As long as we stick together we are strong enough to continue! 

 3.    Could you share the most satisfying moment you’ve had with SFTS?

K & L- There are so very many “satisfying moments” a few of them are: the hundreds of messages we get from kids that say we literally saved their lives, or the ones from bullies that say I never knew what I was doing could cause this and I’m done…I want to help make it stop. Being able to finally come to Australia and meet the DeVries family and spend time with them all was a great moment for us! 

 4.    Has anyone ever shown disdain at SFTS and been negative towards the program?

 K & L- We have had several people tell us that we will never stop bullying, and several more take the stance that bullying is just a rite of passage and something every child has to go through….our answer is always the same. NO it not! It’s this way because we allow it to be that way and it can be changed! 

5.    Running SFTS must take its toll on you emotionally, how do you cope with repeating your story?

 K- Doing presentations every single day is very hard on me not only emotionally but physically as well. I relive the day we lost Ty every time I speak, sometimes three and four times a day. To be able to continue I put myself in a place in my own heart and head that I have made and realize that by doing what we do it is saving another baby in this world from doing what ours did. It doesn’t make it better….but it does make it doable. 

 6.    Do you have any plans to extend your program beyond the USA?

K & L- We actually now have chapters in sixteen different countries and as you know even in Australia! I believe we can grow to have stand for the silent chapters in every country in this world. 

7.    When presenting at schools what is the most rewarding part of the day?

 K -The most rewarding part of the day when presenting at schools is usually right after our presentations, when kids pour down from the seats and just want to connect, hug, tell you they care….

 8.    Laura, for you what is the most rewarding part of Kirk travelling and visiting schools?

L- Knowing that what we do is helping save kids’ lives is wonderful, but I really wish we didn’t have to do this because we miss being together so much 

9.    You often get kids asking for your help with their depression and problems, do you find it overwhelming at all?

K & L- Being asked by so many children to help them and to solve their problems does get overwhelming at times. But you know the majority of them just want to know that someone does care about them, they don’t all even expect you to solve their issues, and they just want someone to listen! We have become great listeners. 

 10.  What is the one piece of advice or wisdom you would give to anyone that asks for it?

K & L- The one thing I want everyone to know and to always remember is this: You are somebody! You have the right to be here! You have the right to be who you are! And we love the somebody that you are….just exactly the way that you are! Believe in yourself above all! Because we believe in you! 

Recently an Australian chapter of Stand for the Silent has been introduced, working in collaboration with the Smalley family, to help spread awareness on the effects bullying can have on an individual’s welfare and the consequences that can occur. 

If you are interested in either starting a chapter or joining the anti-bullying revolution you can contact Kirk through his website: http://standforthesilent.org/
or via the facebook page “Stand for the Silent”.

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Kirk Smalley at a school presentation- taken from the SFTS facebook page.

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T-shirts made available in the Sevenly SFTS campaign with $7 of every shirt donated to SFTS

LINK TO MORGAN FRAZIER’s VIDEO, Hey Bully

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAgPvqzboUQ

Welcome back

So my first semester of my Journalism course is over, done and dusted! So far so good with my results too! Sitting on a distinction in my Journalism class and my Sound and Media class! Only need my photography results now!

I’ve decided that because I got a pretty good mark on this blog (90%) I’m going to keep it running. Hopefully I can start writing some things people are interested in and pick up some followers and start gaining some relevant experience.

I’ve done a few things over the past couple of days that I will probably write about- including the Townsville “In Hearts Wake” show and a trip to Magnetic Island for the first time. 

Bye for now!

Holidays? Woo!

Here we are, it’s the end of semester 1 and I’m stuck questioning if journalism is the path for me. I’m lazy, uninspired and journalism is a competitive field in which I have very little to offer. So I’m stuck, scrambling for alternative careers short of managing some retail store for the rest of my life.

Anyone reading this may think that those obstacles are nothing, they’re tiny hurdles and all I have to do is push myself that extra bit, but to me they are mountains. My anxiety is so crippling that the things I used to believe I was good at now seem as hard as learning another language would be.

Not to mention that for some stupid reason, I refuse to resign myself to writing the same typical bullshit that you see every day in the news. I want to be exciting and do exciting things, I want to travel and take photos and make documentaries and not be stuck working for some newspaper or channel in Australia.

I’ve also been considering “science journalism,” learning how to convert scientific reports into articles suitable for the general public to read. It seems interesting enough and different enough to appease my mind.

I’m just conflicted as to what I want. I’m 20 now, and I need to get my life in order, but I’m more confused than ever. Perhaps next semester will help me decide where I really want to go with journalism. My writing and my photography are much too lacking for what I really want to do. But given time perhaps I will become more confident in my abilities and journalism as a career choice.

For now, I’m questioning journalism as the right path for me. 

ONLINE & PRINT REPORTING

Sometimes I question whether journalism is the right choice for me. I’m not very good at keeping to rigid structures unless it’s for an essay. I have my own writing style and the format required for journalism may make me feel restricted and lacking in originality. But, practice makes perfect right?

Image retrieved from- http://blogs.agu.org/sciencecommunication/files/2011/03/Inverted_pyramid.jpg

The different ways stories can be presented for impact is quite intriguing. How does a story hold the most impact to the necessary audiences? How does an individual write a story that is appealing and straight to the point? The inverted pyramid is a simple way of remembering the layout of an article, the most important information first and then extra information after.

The words “a journalist is never off duty” has been sticking with me since they were first mentioned. How does one determine which events are newsworthy, I know it is a combination of things that have been discussed throughout this semester and most importantly the news values present. But how do you decide which lead and angle is the best, and which audience you want to present it to? The rest of writing an article seems pretty straightforward- keep it neutral and unbiased, no comments or opinions, source information appropriately and you have yourself a seemingly credible article. But it is the beginning of writing the article that stumps me.

This lecture covered so many basic points and fundamentals of journalism that seem vital to keep in mind when attempting to build a portfolio, such as basic writing techniques and journalistic terms when it comes to interviewing potential sources.

The internet offers a way to broaden the journalistic field and journalists are now expected to be experienced with multi-media platforms, and the way to write stories online varies from print stories. Online journalism is important as young people rely on the internet for social interaction outside of school and the workplace. I know personally, I receive most of my news online and I won’t bother with an article if I am not drawn to the title. 

INVESITAGTIVE JOURNALISM

The idea of investigative journalism sparks an image of spies and undercover operations into my mind. The types of things that may have drawn me to being an investigative journalist as a child. The reality of it, whilst still important, is rather bland in comparison to the imagination of 5 year old me. Now when I think of investigative journalism I think of political scandals and stealing money. Not as many car chases and definitely less threats. 

Reading the lecture notes on investigative journalism, I can’t help but liken in to the role the female protagonist in Zoolander plays. A journalist attempting to follow up on a tip and write an important and relevant investigative piece that highlights corruption and scandal. Zoolander also features the things I imagined when I was younger, but hey, anything to make a future career seem amazing.


I do like the idea of working on large projects with a group of people- the kind that inv. Journalism calls for- I feel as though it is something I would enjoy more than writing short articles with no real substance. I know that to write a decent piece of investigative work it needs to have public interest, and I know that the piece needs to be well thought out and provide the public with information that serves them some purpose. But I do feel like the only topics worth investigating are usually political stories- whether it be about corruption or money scandals.


I think the values of investigative journalism are worth noting and important to remember if ever deciding to partake in the investigative process: you are helping people make informed and good decisions, you identify threats to communities and people, and you reveal the truth to those who would otherwise be in the dark. One day when I am more motivated and interested in the stories I am writing I will partake in at least one investigative piece. For now, I am too lacking in those qualities to even consider such a path.
Perhaps I should pretend I am a child again, and investigative journalism is more akin to the work of spies. I’ve been watching Burn Notice lately, I could pick up a few things.

POLITICAL ECONOMY

Political economy is like a strict parent who doesn’t want you to watch the Simpson’s in case you pick up bad habits. In the media this censorship determines how information is provided to the audience. You may want to watch a program about the new-found conflict in Thailand, but that’s not what your cranky mum (a.k.a big business’s) are going to make money off, so forget it. Those big corporations, they run the show and I can’t stand it.

Image retrieved from-http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130519234549/simpsons/images/5/51/The_Simpsons_Movie_90.JPG

The dominance of financial propaganda leaves a bitter outlook on mass media and is a conflicting factor when I consider journalism as my future career. The idea of “selling out” my beliefs to appease to a higher body or currency has forever been the key factor in any distaste I have of journalism. I don’t want to pretend that the biggest issues are the ones I’m being told to write about.

Image retrieved from- http://pongrealize.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/media-spoonfeeding-cartoon.jpg?w=749

The high concentration of ownership in media allow a few individuals to control what the general public hear and see. My number one priority should not be worrying that I’m spitting out enough propaganda to keep the advertiser’s happy.

I just want to know what is happening in the world. I want to relay that information to people who need and deserve to know. I want to tell the truth in an industry where the truth should be the number one priority.

The quote, “I propose a new definition of quality journalism. Quality journalism is useful journalism. Not only narrowly useful – whether like trains will be running or the time of the local fete, although that kind of journalism will always have an important place – but useful to people in being engaged, knowledgeable, connected and powerful citizens. Much of what we now call quality journalism fails this test,” is a good example of the way political economy effects standard journalism  

It’s the end of semester one and I am really beginning to consider where I want journalism to take me and what path I want to leave. I know that I need to begin putting together a portfolio now, but I need to decide what medium I would like to present to and which audience I can best appeal to whilst keeping my personal morals and ideals intact.

Battle of the Ethics

Discussions about ethics are rather intriguing and can challenge the personal beliefs of individuals. The question that is raised most often is, how does someone know if they are acting in an ethically correct manner? Ethics are a matter of personal opinion. Sure there are widely socially acceptable ethics, but when does the line blur?

Discussing ethics in journalism is a very conflicting topic. As a journalist you are more than likely going to be in completely unfamiliar situations and as someone who would like to be a photojournalist and travel the world, being in unfamiliar situations will occur more often than not.

But when do I draw the line and stop doing my job to be human and help people in need? As a journalist I will be expected to document various events and occurrences. But if I can help someone in need and miss out on an opportune moment, should I?

The ethical conduct really ties in with my desire to do war coverage. If I see injured children will I really be able to put up an emotional blockade and continue to do my job? Or will I help?

The class discussion we had about Carter’s iconic vulture photo is really quite interesting. Discussing ethics with peers is a good way to gain an insight into your classmates thought processes and personal ethics. I think I came across as really harsh and unsympathetic in our class discussion because I feel as though Carter’s photo justified the means. He was there to do a job, and that photo caused enough outrage to draw attention to what was happening. Although, I must note that I do not feel like he did the right thing if he did not offer any help to the child whatsoever.

In reality I have very strong opinions but I am a sook. But ethics are such a touchy subject and opinions may vary so widely depending on someone’s age, background or personal experience.

But as I wish to become a photojournalist I have to try and be objective about Carter’s photo. I believe that the photo really demonstrates the severity of poverty in third world countries even if it does not convey the magnitude of the situation. The method may have been poorly executed, but the photo really invokes emotions in me and I believe that is the job of a photojournalist. They portray strong emotions in their photos.

War and Trauma Journalism.

This week’s lecture discussed war, famine and disaster journalism and what entails covering stories during these events.
I am highly interested in covering war and disaster. After learning about what entails war journalism I feel as though it is something I can do. Even if I only do it once. I would like to do war coverage because I believe that it is important to portray the stories of not just the political parties involved, but of what the citizens feel about the conflict and how war has affected them.  
My biggest worry is that I cannot build the emotional blockades that our lecturer told us were important when undertaking this type of journalism. However, I also believe that emotional attachment to the victims of war or disaster is not always a bad thing. I believe compassion may be a good trait to help you relate to the people you will be talking to and taking photos of.

The technicalities of war coverage and the entitlements of the journalist are also such a significant thing to consider when deciding whether you would like to go ahead with traveling to dangerous environments. The discussion in our lecture about the journalist’s rights when dealing with being offered these types of jobs is something that has me quite curious about other journalist’s experiences and the type of hardships that they encountered whilst overseas.

I keep asking myself harsh questions. Will certain countries have problems with female journalists? Will I have the emotional stability to pursue this career? How often are the rights of the journalist upheld? What sort of trouble might I face? Will I be ready for it?

I have experienced my own trauma on a different scale to what other people suffer on a daily basis, I need perspective.

This blog post sums up my feelings on war coverage better than I could hope to say:

http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/06/19/my-thoughts-on-war-photography-by-charlie-atkinson/