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Culture

Journalism, the Trading Card Game

Journalists trade stories rather than cards. (Creative Commons photo by Oliver Hallmann via Flickr)
Journalists trade stories rather than cards. (Creative Commons photo by Oliver Hallmann via Flickr)

As journalists, our trade is stories.

Listen in on a gathering of journalists out to dinner – or more likely out for drinks – and you’re likely to hear sophisticated talk about the advances in data journalism or high-minded conversation about ethical considerations of publication, wedged in between the gallows humor that describes the state of the industry, and how we’ll end up broke and on the streets with only our humanities degrees to keep us warm.

But stay long enough and you’ll get to the real meat.

Here’s an observation for you: In any discussion between journalists given enough time, you’ll start to hear other people’s stories exchanged like Pokémon cards on the third grade open market.

Do you have the one with the lady with quite obvious mental health issues who regularly barnstorms city council meetings? How about the one about the professor publicly ridiculed for his race at a professional event? The one about the recovering Catholic with an autistic son and a gay best friend?

We’re not doctors or lawyers and we don’t have the same sort of rules governing interactions with our sources. The relationship between a subject and a reporter is somewhat more tenuous under the Obama administration, and without thesame privileges. But in any case, how could we not gleefully blab? It’s only a natural qualification of our jobs.

I don’t know when I first realized the profession that I fully intend to pursue in post-collegiate life is inherently immoral.

It might have been when I first talked to a woman who opened up about discrimination she experienced throughout her career. I turned around and made it a lede.

Or it could have been when I had a conversation with a homeless guy from Alaska, snatched a few quotes from him and left him in line at the shelter.

Or maybe it was when I first read Janet Malcolm’s indispensable work on journalism ethics, “The Journalist and the Murderer.” In the first paragraph of the book, she lays it out quite bare and beautifully. “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible,” she writes.

I was talking to a fellow young aspiring journalist a few weeks ago and asked her why she got into the profession. She answered that she “wanted to tell the stories of people who couldn’t do it themselves.”

It’s a sentiment I might have spouted off a few years ago if you asked me the same question, but I’ve discarded it for the incredibly patronizing reasoning. I believe I’ve come to terms with the fact that I love journalism for the baser reasons of my personality, along with my better angels.

The gossiper that digs up mud on celebrities on TMZ? There but for the grace of God (or Harvey Levin) go I.

The big ego who needs to know things before other people and make sure everyone else knows it. Well there’s a reason why Twitter is mainly popular with celebrities and journalists.

Even the quiet, but relentless ambition. Which I would contend makes me a hungry reporter, but others have chalked up as just being nosy.

The thing is I think I’ve done good work even with this realization, or maybe in small part because of it. I’ve looked into the tamping down of free speech on college campuses, the plight of street-food vendors on Los Angeles sidewalks and even the occasional missing tortoise.

So much for my short-lived efforts to steer clear of shameless self-promotion.

All this is not to say that journalism is a bad field and I hope no one thinks I’m discouraging anyone to get into it – far from it. Being all those things doesn’t preclude you from being honest, brave and, most importantly, compassionate. While the practice of journalism may sometimes be distasteful, its fruits can be quite nourishing.

We need the gossipers, the ambitious and the talented with enormous egos. These are the ones who write brilliantly about the state of healthcare in America using the example of the veteran who can’t get his medication, the ones who risk their lives trying to get the real story out from war zones and the ones who help lead the charge in taking down a corrupt team owner caught with his pants down.

I’m just letting you in on a secret: Journalism – even (or especially) if performed with good intentions – is still just journalism.

But all of this comes from one. So take that with a grain of salt, or better yet, a shot of whiskey.

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News

Throwback Thursday, Week 1: Parking Woes

A Daily Bruin Viewpoint columnist writes about parking issues in 1990. (Daily Bruin file photo)
A Daily Bruin Viewpoint columnist writes about parking issues in 1990. (Daily Bruin file photo)

This Thursday, we’re throwing it back to 25 years ago when Opinion – formerly known as Viewpoint – columnist Rebecca Stone listed parking options of varying inconvenience for her readers and explained UCLA’s complicated history with parking. From UCLA’s first parking lot in 1933 to a Daily Bruin article earlier that year claiming the university was growing at a rate that would soon require shuttles to herd students from their cars to class, Stone described UCLA’s inability to address its parking problem as demand exponentially grew.

“Before we can get on with the daily business of dealing with priority concerns, we must first find a place to park,” she concluded.

While the relationship between the university’s limited parking options and limited scope of priorities is tenuous at best, parking remains an obstacle in ensuring UCLA is an accessible public university. Parking is consistently difficult, if not impossible, to find, even for commuters, who make up a little over 25 percent of UCLA’s student body and are its biggest money-savers; after all, they can save thousands in rent, despite the hours lost traveling back and forth.

And while UCLA Transportation has developed options over the years, like the BruinBus and the UCLA Vanpool, and the Los Angeles City Council recently approved a citywide mobility plan, both promising to make your car less necessary, the battle for parking between faculty, staff, emeriti, volunteers, patients, visitors and, last of all – in both esteem and priority – students continues.

In short, parking problems at UCLA not only persist, but have only worsened since Stone wrote her column. The hustle of the students who left class early to avoid parking enforcement or made the hike from Westwood to campus in 1990 is nothing compared to the time and money students lose in the pursuit of parking today.

With week one in full swing, parked cars once again populate the space between the street and the sidewalk, even though their owners have risked and received $65 parking tickets in the past. In her column, Stone admitted that sometimes her $18 parking tickets – around $33 if you consider inflation – were a relief from constantly filling the meter with quarters.

Students with cars outnumber available parking spaces in and around campus and are engaged in bidding wars online for parking passes, street parking and even the dreaded tandem spaces. In Stone’s time, students shelled out $4 a day in Westwood’s lots or a quarter every eight minutes for metered parking spaces. But today, you can find quarterly parking permits going for up to $400 and rented residential parking spots for around $100 a month in UCLA’s Free & For Sale Facebook group.

Earlier this year, the Daily Bruin Editorial Board called for cheaper parking permits. Most recently, nearly 1,000 students who applied for parking passes on campus were waitlisted after UCLA cut the number of student parking permits by hundreds. Even commuter students who are fortunate enough to obtain a nearly $700 permit for the year from UCLA Transportation aren’t guaranteed to find a space once they make their way to campus.

Of course, there are only so many parking spaces UCLA can provide before it begins dominating the Westwood skyline or disrupting the Earth’s core, but the campus’ growth demands better planning, even retroactively.

Otherwise students might as well stay on the 405, catnap through the 9 a.m. traffic and crawl right past UCLA. No one goes to their morning classes anyway.

- Catherine Liberty Feliciano

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Culture

Kelly Yeo: On friendship and first week

As with public places, parties can be full of bodies but short on people to talk to.
As with public places, parties can be full of bodies but short on people to talk to.

For the first time after two years of party-going at UCLA, I went to a party and actually made friends with people I didn’t know.

The layout was the usual: beer pong, jungle juice, a Spotify playlist on someone’s phone with tiny speakers blaring. There was the never-ending din of conversations I don’t care about, complaints about classes I’ll never take and organizations I’ll probably never join. As you can tell, large apartment parties have never held any magic for me. Mostly, I felt obligated to pay a visit to see my friend, one of the hosts, and then leave.

I’m not sure if it was my mood, or the people who happened to be there, but several hours and tequila pulls later, I ended up in a very real conversation as a group of us attended to a girl vomiting over the side of the balcony. It was one of those glorious cinematic moments where you break through all the drunken awkwardness to really, truly talk.

People may go on and on about how UCLA has a place for everyone, but given the scale of campus and the hundreds of organizations, it can feel pretty hard trying to find your “people.” Your “people”: the friends with whom doing nothing feels like something. Hours fly by. Papers go unwritten and amino acids go unmemorized. And when you’re finally alone in your room, you know it was all worth it.

Some are lucky, hitting it off with their orientation or first-year dorm friends, the rock of their social lives solidifying early on. Others take longer, and some of us will leave UCLA without ever truly having a group of friends to call their “people,” even as we claim membership to fraternities, sororities, dance teams, service organizations and so on.

I’m not ashamed to say it hasn’t happened for me yet, although in this age of social media, there’s pressure to make everyone think you’re having the time of your life at UCLA. We live curated lives, posting photos and sharing only the news we want people to know about. People post about their besties and their squads, even if the scenario that these relationships are superficial and primarily based on affiliation is well within the realm of possibilities. The rest of the world may not be immune, but UCLA, and many other colleges, are diseased in that regard: Aren’t your years in college supposed to be the best years of your life?

Fake it until you make it, I suppose.

As a third-year student, I don’t expect a lot from folks in terms of making real platonic connections. The first-year social Rumspringa has petered out fully, and we identify ourselves by our majors and our organizations. We’re all busy people: studying, working, going to the gym, doing research, spending time with the friends we’ve already made, dating and engaged in extracurricular commitments and internships. I’ve made friends, though they’re spread out, involved in everything from Model United Nations to a cappella groups.

That night at the party, a group of strangers talked about break-ups and cats, holding back the hair of a girl we’d just met. Friend requests followed, and the next morning, I found myself joking around on Facebook Messenger with these people whom I am never going to encounter in my pre-med or major classes.

Whether these people end up being my “people” or just friends I’ll see every now and then, it’s nice to know that in a world of perpetually busy UCLA students who seem to have it all figured out, some of us are still open to new friendships, new connections, no longer closed for business on the friendship front, even as the more seasoned among us inch past second year and into our home stretch of college.

The at-times superficial social networks formed by extracurricular activities, social organizations and major aren’t the only thing you can find at UCLA. Sometimes, friendship happens when you’re at a party rubbing a random girl’s back, or maybe it happens when you share a table at Kerckhoff.

Whoever you are, I hope you know that it’s never too late to find real friendship. It’s week one of fall quarter, before our feet are held to the fire as midterms begin and our free time disappears into thin air, and anything seems possible.

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