Publishing schedule

This blog was last updated during Summer 2013 semester.

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Edward Snowden

Written by Joe Lteif

Edward Snowden was a new name for me but when typed on the google search bar, his name was popularly the first that popped up. The face of his was one I had seen in the news for quite some time as welll relating to the NSA scandal that is going on.

Snowden is a former technical contractor for the National Security Agency and an employee for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The scandal in which surrounds this nororious name is in reference to him leaking highly classified United States and  Britain mass survaillence documents to the mass media.

Snowden currently has criminal charges of theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person. Snowden’s leaks are said to rank among the most significant breaches in the history of the NSA wikipedia noted.

The magazine Whistleblower published a quote by Snowden saying ” I cannot allow the U.S government to destroy privacy and basic liberties”.

Snowden is currently being located internationally to face the charges presented to him.

This is very similar to the Pentagon Papers where classified papers about the war were leaked out to the public and the government in turn tried to sue the newspaper who decided to publish it (New York times).

There are various opinions that can be concluded about Snowden. Personally, a person who is trusted with information, no matter how they personally feel about it should remain silent because that is just part of the job. The integrity aspect he does not have. But it can also be said that he is a man who stands up for what he believes in and for this reason took the stand in order to “better the American people”.


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Snowden’s Snowball

By Thierry Peters

Edward Snowden has violently rocked the dark and mysterious world of covert intelligence, exposing the government’s overreaching powers and catching the NSA in the act.  He has been called a narcissist, a loner, a traitor, and a coward, but why jump to conclusions as so many in the media have done?  

In Moscow, sympathy for the whistleblower has reached new heights, and European politicians are decrying the alleged snooping by US agencies on their respective governments.  But why do close to half of all Americans still support the government’s rather repetitious view that spying on their own citizens saved the nation from some mysterious threats?

The European Union headquarters in Brussels has been a key target for US intelligence organization, but to what extent information gathered was used or abused is still a question to be answered by US authorities.  The continuing Snowden saga just keeps steamrolling arguments in favor of snooping on Americans and foreign citizens.

Snowden’s fate hangs in the balance.  Many see him as a savior and advocate for universal privacy, away from the prying eyes of big government, but some, namely within the US government, are crying out over the fact that such intelligence gathering has proven to be rather useful in both preventing and dissuading security threats aimed at the US.  The United States has never been a great example for the protection of the public from the prying eyes of intelligence operatives.

In the 1950s, the conspicuous red scare, pushed and fed by the edgy Senator Joseph McCarthy, led the government to overstep its bounds on so countless occasions.  His perseverance ultimately led to his censuring by congress due to public backlash and his final downfall due to alcoholism.  The government could learn a lesson or two before it gets too drunk to recompose, but then again when are history’s repetitions ever considered in earnest?

The amount of times references to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four have appeared in reputable international news sources is staggering, but the accuracy of these comparisons is just as staggeringly believable to the public eye.

When, over the past two years, the state department felt that it had to throw away $630,000 simply to buy some ‘likes’ for one of its Facebook pages and was then criticized for it by the Inspector General,  how could we possibly assume that the government’s intelligence arms are acting with exemplary honesty and integrity?

It all comes down to overzealous, prying eyes.  Snowden has hopefully provided further inspiration for legitimate whistleblowers in the future and it must be recognized that snooping now could be a pretext for even worse abuses of our well-earned privacy.

This ever-growing snowball will engulf both the NSA and the government’s argument that maintaining a prying eye is both constitutional and necessary due to contrived clear and present dangers.

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Last Writing Assignment

The U.S. government spying on its own country has always been a recurring issue. Cartoonists and journalists have won Pulitzer awards for dramatizing this problem. The fact that Edward Snowden has proved that the American government has been spying on citizens does not surprise me. It is true that people should have the right to privacy and knowing that your own government is spying on your very emails and conversations, can sure make us all a little schizophrenic.

Regardless of the privacy invasion, we should take in mind that we constantly assume that it is the government’s job to protect us from criminal attacks or whatever other form of negative action. Having said this, in what ways can the government achieve this?

If we could imagine, for a few seconds, that America is just a big soiree party and that most citizens are happily asleep in their sleep bags, knowing that someone is on guard in case anything wrong happens.

Isn’t it the guard’s job to walk around the sleeping Americans to know what they are up to? And to make sure that no one is trying to pull the typical “hand-in-warm-water” joke on someone? Some might say that this guard shouldn’t be walking around seeing people sleep because, let’s face it, it’s pretty creepy! But how else are these people going to sleep peacefully and enjoy their party?

We can’t have it all. The moment we give the power to the government to look after us, we automatically sign an imaginary contract where we exchange part of our privacy for protection.

I don’t know what drove Edward Snowden to leak this ultra secret information but I know that he shouldn’t have fled the country because that just makes him look like a coward…even if he might not be one.

He should have stayed in the country because after all, if he did this to help America, then he shouldn’t fear that America would turn against him. The moment he fled, he basically pleaded himself guilty and regretted his decision of leaking the information.

I think Snowden thought he was going to be considered a hero, maybe even win some kind of award for reporting the truth. Nevertheless, I don’t think what the government is doing is right because it certainty has the opposite desired effect: we don’t feel safe.

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Snowden: justified in his actions

By Elise Pattison

What Edward Snowden did was good for the country. What he leaked was vital information that the public deserved to know.

If what the government is doing is unconstitutional, then Snowden was surely right to let the people know.

One thing I have learned during Journalism 101 is that government records should be public. I believe that the government shouldn’t be allowed to get so big that the citizens lose control over it.

I think that there is enough proof that this information is important for Americans to know and object to it to allow Snowden to walk freely. His will for the government to stay within its bounds and for the people to know what they have the right to know should excuse him from the consequences of ‘espionage.’

Snowden’s intentions were not to threaten national security but to inform the people, so in my opinion, he is making history by risking his life for the truth.

Many are accusing Snowden of leaking the information in order to gain media attention, as well as hiding out in different countries to gain fame. I believe that he didn’t foresee the media attention and he assumed the media would find what he leaked to be much more important.

The media is wrong for putting so much focus on the leaker instead of on the leaked material. The media needs to flush out what the government is trying to do, which ironically for Snowden is in fact espionage on its own people and others.

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A day with Stephanie Hayes

By Elise Pattison

A young blonde woman sat at her desk on a bright Friday morning, holding a coffee cup proclaiming, “Write Like a Motherf—er” and avidly describing her job. Stephanie Hayes is a beat reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and she couldn’t love her job more.

Hayes recounted her experiences as a journalist, including both comical stories such as a faux college visit poster about Kim Kardashian and sober stories such as the 350 obituary features she wrote in one year.

Hayes reported that although journalism could be fun, it is also extremely challenging in a variety of areas. “You kind of have to know how to do everything, you need to be flexible,” she told a reporter Friday. “And the nerves never go away. Most days are really uncomfortable.”

The nerves are much more manageable now for Hayes than they were when she first began at age 19 in Carrollwood. She began working as an editorial assistant (getting stamps and giving out faxes, as she described it) while going to school at SPC. Here she encountered one of her most dangerous assignments, however.

A man in a gun range “either opened fire or was holding hostages,” recounts Hayes. After hearing the news on the police scanner, Hayes’ boss looked around for someone to send and found only her.

“Somehow I got in the middle of the cordoned-off zone,” she said, “and then I started running toward the shooting range like an idiot, thinking, there is no way Darwin asked to run toward a crazy man with a gun at a shooting range,” she laughed. “This police officer was chasing me yelling, “if you take another step I’m going to take you to jail!”” So Hayes sat at a carwash for the next 8 hours waiting to get the scoop.

After finishing two years at SPC, Hayes transferred to USF and entered the journalism program while working at the TBT St. Petersburg as a regional reporter.

Here she was assigned one obituary feature each day, making for one emotionally tolling year of talking to the loved ones of those who had passed away.

This work inspired her novel, Obitchuary, which is about a reporter who accidently kills her date and then has to write his obituary.

After graduating from USF in 2006, Hayes began working here in Tampa, where she powers through the stress of deadlines and lives to see her articles printed.

“It’s a fun job.” Hayes said.  “There’s a lot of stress…but when it comes down to it it’s a fun thing that keeps us coming back. You never get over that thrill of seeing your by-line in the paper.”


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A Young Journalist in an Old Building

If Stephanie Hayes were a color, she would be bold red, like her lipstick.

Hints of red are scattered around her cubicle. There is her white mug with red letters that reads, “Write like a motherf…” Certainly inspiring. And even the two boxes of cinnamon Coffee Mate under her desk, are red.

 An hour before meeting Hayes, Elise and I tried to calm our nerves by drinking some coffee and practiced saying our interview out loud.

Fifteen minutes prior to 11 am on Friday, we walked to the Tampa Bay Times building. The building looked deserted from the outside and most of the palm trees were dead. I wondered if we were in the right place.

We found our way into the building and summoning all the courage I had, I pressed the elevator button and once inside, Elise pressed the button to level 7.

As the elevator went up, my confidence went down.

I hate talking to strangers…especially interviewing strangers. That’s the whole reason Elise and I teamed up, because we are two shy, writing majors. We went to the reception desk, as told, and asked for Stephanie Hayes. After a few moments a short, blond woman wearing a red blouse and a black skirt came to greet us.

I could tell we introduced ourselves awkwardly but she was nice enough to pretend that we did fine. She led us through a door and showed us around the floor. The working area looked like a small, organized neighborhood with quiet, empty streets and small cubicles for houses. The journalists were busy typing in silence.

To be honest I don’t remember everything she said but apparently the floor is divided into different sections, like the photography section and others sections I don’t recall. What I do remember is thinking, “There are many young people in this old building.”

She showed us the room they use to take pictures in and I asked if I could take a picture and she quickly said yes. I thought to myself “This is easy, I’m going to ask her if I can take a picture of the next thing she shows us!”

She walked us over to a board where they had pinned printed stories. Very excitedly I asked, “May I take a picture of the board?” her answer was “No.” My cheeks turned red and I put my phone away.

Stephanie Hayes’ career began when she asked herself, “Who would pay me to write?” she found her answer in journalism.

She began by writing editorials for the TBT in Carrolwood during her time in USF. Then she moved to St. Pete where she was an editor assistant. After that she wrote obituaries for one year and a half. She would write five obituaries a week and would be interviewing people over the phone daily.

“I learned a lot about interviewing and talking to people.” A skill I definitely lack.

From there she covered entertainment for two years and for the past six months her beat has been USF. “We move around a lot. You kind of have to know how to do everything. You need to be flexible.”

We moved to the break room so we could ask her more questions without disturbing the people around us. She microwaved some kind of frozen, diet meal.  It didn’t smell good.

We asked her what was the most challenging part of her job and she said that the nerves never really go away. To make matters worse, you are constantly outside your comfort zone.

“If you had your choice you probably wouldn’t go knock on the door of a murderer’s house,” she said laughing.

When she said this, I thought, “This is one of the many reasons I’d never be a journalist.” I think she read my mind because she quickly added, “There are not a million jobs in journalism, so if you don’t really love it, don’t do it.”

She also advised us to be brave and just ask people what you really want to know because from her experience, “it’s amazing what people will answer if you just ask them.” We need to ask for more pictures, I thought.

We asked her if she gets crazy emails from people who feel offended by her articles and she said that it has happened in the past but in order to be a journalist you need to build confidence and “a lot of thick skin.”

One of my favorite things she said about what being a journalist is like is that, “You kind of figure our who you are doing this.”

The thing she likes the most about her job is that you can plan what you’re going to do on a certain day, but then there is something that changes your plans.

“It’s exciting! You’re never going to be sitting in a cubicle every day.”

So that’s what the flats under her desk were for! In case of an emergency, she’d take off her heels, put on her black pair of flats and run to her next story.

We asked her if her job gets overwhelming from time to time and she said, “there is a lot of stress, there is a lot of problems, there is a lot of issues, but when it comes down to it, it’s just the fun thing that keeps us coming back.” Maybe over the years, journalists get addicted to deadlines and stress. Maybe they are adrenaline junkies who get a rush from running out of time to finish a story.

She told us about the first time she saw her name on the paper. “I was in a 7/11 gas station and then saw the paper sitting there on the rack and I flipped it over and there was my story on the bottom of the page and it was like ‘holy crap!’ you know? ‘Me?’

Hayes said that there are weeks when you’d write one big story or weeks when you’d write three or not even one. Fortunately there is not a quota that you must meet and editors will work with you to help you meet your deadlines.

“For the most part you decide what you want to write about.”

Elise came up with a very important question: if a topic is too close to your heart, do you avoid it? Stephanie Hayes took a time to think and answered, “No. Because it means that I care about it and it means that I’m going to write a better story.” She taught us that the key is to write about topics that are close to your heart but avoid writing about the people who are close to your heart.

I asked her about when she realized that she was a good writer. The answer was automatic, “always.” The three of us laughed and she told us that throughout high school she tried playwriting and poetry. “I was always good at it.”

For our last question we asked her what her goals for the future were and she said that she wants to be in the Feature staff and eventually be an editor because she likes editing. “There are a lot of opportunities here to keep growing and improving and you get better every time you write a story.”

She really surprised me when she said that she has written a fiction book and that she is currently trying to get it published. She told us that she enjoys writing in public because she gets her inspiration from people and from mundane situations.

Stephanie Hayes might not be certain of what her next big story might be because, as she said, in journalism everything is unexpected but she is certain of one thing: “I’ll always want to do journalism.”

Photography Room in the TBT building

Photography Room in the TBT building


The TBT bulding from Sharifa's apartment

The TBT bulding from Sharifa’s apartment


Stephanie Hayes' love for red.

Stephanie Hayes’ love for red.



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