Parenting Styles: The concept of Free-Range parenting across cultures and ethnicities

Parenting is often described as the most difficult and rewarding job. Countless books have been written, all seeking to simplify the equation of what is required to raise a happy, healthy and successful child.

These books, some of which span volumes explain various parenting styles and potential or existing outcomes that have come from them.

One thing is for certain though, not all parenting styles are looked upon equally, especially the one most recently responsible for creating a media firestorm.

Free-Range parenting is quite the simple concept and can be easily described as old age parenting with a new age name. Read along to find out how cultural background and ethnicity play a role in the free-range parenting style.

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A look to the future: The future of journalism, as I see it.

Upon my return to Advanced Multimedia Journalism, I was required to, shoot and edit a video of myself, essentially interviewing myself on what I foresaw the future of journalism to be.

In that self-interview I described how multimedia was the new wave of journalistic reporting, incorporating all aspects of every platform. This mulch-faceted approach seeks to gather all audiences, those who like to read news, see news, hear news and interact with news.

All of this is made possible through new and emerging media, such as Meerkat and Periscope, which allow an audience to tune in to a live stream of whatever event, occurrence or scenario is being live streamed. These apps and more have forged their way to the forefront of media platforms, allowing journalists to report in new and interactive ways, while also allowing for the direct connection and communication that much of the world has grown accustomed to.

I recently received an invite from Poynter’s University to partake in a webinar, in which a professional speaks to various ways journalists can take advantage of Snap Chat, a popular social app that allows its users to share 10-second or less videos and pictures of their daily lives and interactions.These pictures and videos expire within 24 hours or immediately after being opened, if sent privately.  Initially I was taken aback, as I was not expecting to see a medium in which I use for talking  to and with friends, being used by my colleagues.

Let’s for example, take the recent uprisings in Baltimore, Maryland, journalists can use Snap Chat as a tool to build a following, but also to share the a “day in the life” of a city in anguish and despair.

Aside from Snap Chat, journalists can also use the aforementioned live streaming services to allow an audience to see what is happening, without interruption of a time limit.

In order to share the stories of the people, it is likely that journalistic will continue to incorporate voices of the people in their multimedia pieces.

Let’s take the example of Baltimore again, Black Twitter (a community of twitter users who discuss topics of and related to the black community at large), and twitter users around the world chime in with introspective thoughts of the protesting, looting and other behavior occurring in the capital city of Maryland. Journalists can use platforms like Storify, to weave these voices together into one coherent narrative, narrating the story of the Baltimore uprisings.

As uprisings continue to occur, and events both natural and man made continue to plague the inhabitants of this world, there will be journalists there, on the scene, prepared to share the stories of the people there, on the ground, experiencing whatever situation that has unfolded. As journalists continue to share these stories, and citizens continue to share/raise their voices, new outlets and mediums will continue to emerge, to allow the world to understand the complexity of the nature at hand.

Where are all the Black students at UMass?

With a population of over 20,000 students enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a little over 800 of those undergraduate students identify as Black/African American.

With such a low turnout of black students on campus, representatives such as Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, are making an effort to increase the population of diversity on campus. By focusing on underrepresented, low income, and first generation students, Chancellor Subbaswamy, is increasing community scholarships for instate underrepresented students.

Subbaswamy’s announcement of the Diversity Strategic Planning Committee, which was enacted following several incidents in which racial hate slurs were scrawled on the dormitory doors of two students of color. After an emergency meeting was declared to discuss the slurs and its impact on the community, the Chancellor’s Diversity Advisory Council (CDAC) was formed, comprising of faculty, professional staff, department chairs and more.

Sid Ferreira, Director of Enrollment Services and Instructional Support, is a member of CDAC. Ferreira works hard to ensure that UMass is as diverse as possible. In addition to working with students on campus, his job is also to make their presence more evident.

“I am part of the group that tries to bring some information to the chancellor so that when we do the strategic plan, hopefully all of the voices from every aspect of campus are included,” said Ferreira.

Oscar Collins, Interim Co-Director at the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success, has similar responsibility, in which he seeks to ensure access to opportunity for the underrepresented students.

“The diversity of this campus, especially in underrepresented or marginalized populations has decreased historically,” said Collins.

But the lack of diversity does not end with students. Among staff, the numbers of Black/African American individuals is only in the double digits. On UMass’s faculty, which consists of “personnel with faculty rank, including faculty with administrative duties, and visiting and part-time faculty,” only 69 individuals identify as being Black or African American. Among the professional staff at UMass, which includes executive, administrative, managerial and professional personnel, as well as academic deans, only 71 individuals identify as Black or African American.

Amilicar Shabazz, a professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass, spoke on his own experience as a black student attending university and the impact that black faculty can have on black student’s success.

“I owe a great deal of my having earned my BA, MA, and PhD to the presence of black faculty who looked like me and shared many common ethnically-rooted experiences. Not “presence” in the abstract, but to specific, real, and tangible connections some of these faculty made with me that was very beneficial.”

According to a March 2015 article in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the overall diversity of students of Asian and Hispanic descent has shown significant growth since 1974, whereas those of Black/African descent has shown a slow and almost stagnant growth.

The underwhelming presence of Black students on campus is quite obvious for many students, including Savanna Brown, a freshman Accounting major, from Brockton, MA.

“With how diverse my city is, it doesn’t make sense that a university like this would be represented like this,” Brown said.

Brockton is one of the many ethnically and culturally diverse cities in Massachusetts, however, Massachusetts as a whole is not very diverse, or representative of the Black population.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, which in 2013, reported that individuals that identify as Black/African-American represent 8 percent of the Massachusetts population and 13 percent of the United States population, whereas the students at UMass represent only 4 percent of the student body population.

“We don’t even represent the racial/ethnic diversity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and I think its the responsibility of the system to improve the experience of underrepresented students as well as the majority.” said Collins.
The topic of race is one that is quite complex, in definition and in understanding its construction. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin” report, which was issued in 2011, race and ethnicity are concepts, by which individuals are free to choose how they identify.

Though it is ultimately up to one’s interpretation of their identity, the bureau has provided standard guidelines to identify as Black or African-American, are as follows, “ refers to a person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. This includes people who indicated their race(s) as “Black, African Am., or Negro” or reported entries such as African American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian.”

Ferreira added the importance of not only recruiting students who identify as Black/African-American, but also, “retaining them, and then it’s graduating them,” he said.

“A happy student is a happy alumni. A happy alumni, not only can contribute back to the school, they can contribute in more ways than just financially.,” he added.

Ready.Set.Shoot: A response and reaction to “Gun Country.”

The New York Times’  multimedia “Gun Country” article was successful in fulfilling basic journalistic qualities, such as telling all (or a variation) sides of story, having a diverse representation of voices, cohesive storytelling and narration to name a few.

I am first going to speak about each individual story and what I liked or disliked about the photographs, narration, use of natural sound (or lack there of), the aid of music and its contribution to the narration of the story and the overall cohesive nature of the stories.

First up was “Between Heartbeats,” which made great use of music to narrate the piece emotionally, allowing the audience to really connect with the story. However, with the magnitude of emotions being shared, I think a different visual component would have evoked the visual and verbal tension that came as a result of the narrator’s feelings.

Next came “Father Language,” which in my opinion, did not open strongly. The story could have used more natural sound  in the beginning to engage the audience more. The later portion of the piece executed a perfect build up with natural sound to a very emotionally celebratory, which delightfully took me by surprise.

After came “Street Life,” which I found particularly captivating, in it’s presentation of the narrator’s story. My first observation was of the opening scene, which had a great verbal and visual connection. The musical narration was also executed quite well, as it added a physical sense of discomfort and eeriness. The photos used in the piece acted as a second narrator, giving the audience introspection into the narrator’s life, neighborhood, and living conditions.

“The Awakening” followed, which I found interesting for matters of courageousness on behalf of the narrator. This story had had a nice opening, making use of natural sound elements that really captured the audience’s attention. However, as much of a success as the opening was the remainder of the story, especially the photos, did not capture and maintain my attention.

Following “The Awakening,” was “Never Asleep,” which was quite the emotionally traumatizing piece. It had great opening photos that evoked a very dark and shadowy presence, which worked especially well with the verbal narration of the story.

Second to last was “The War Here,” which used visual imagery of the funeral, obituaries, “R.I.P.” signs and t-shirts to convey the narrator’s story. Also, the music worked exceptionally well with the emotional undertone of the story.

Lastly was, “Alone in the Middle,” which to be quite honest, did not capture my attention much. The story was visually underwhelming and the verbal narration did not capture my attention much more. I think the story could have benefited from stronger photos, which could have potentially sustained the audience’s attention for a bit longer.

The thing that I enjoyed the most of this multimedia piece was the variety of narratives being shared, the large, vivid and captivating images, and the simplicity in which the story could be changed.

I would really like to create a piece resembling the platform of this one, perhaps on a hot topic, like same-sex marriage, abortion, health care, and more.

Gender Perceptions, Roles and Assignments

In countries around the world, different cultures and societal rules tend to shape our definitions of ‘masculinity’, and ‘femininity’.

These definitions, which are often stereotypical, become the default definitions in which many people use to view, discuss and treat one another, based on gender. These social constructions of gender marginalize individuals who are gender non-conforming and reinforce the notion that certain traits, characteristics and behaviors belong to either male or female.

Historically, men, especially in the western world, have held the highest positions of power and therefore, have been able to enforce and enact rules that are in accordance to what they believe to be true and virtuous. With men making the rules, women have come to be defined by their qualities, rather than their capabilities. For instance, Eric Beaudette, Junior Psychology major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst said, “When you think of women, you think of a housewife, someone that takes care of people.” But, as we know, women are far more than caretakers and housewives.

According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2015, about 20 percent of the members of our House of Representatives are women, and 20 percent of members in the Senate are women. Although these percentages are still very low, women are participating more in politics than ever before. And they’re not just entering the political sphere, women hold careers in occupations across the board,  from teachers to accountants, from custodians to construction workers.

Stereotypical occupations for men include fields that require more physical labor and less expression such as construction, or enrolling in the military. Women are stereotypically expected to take on occupations that require being more gentle or caring; such as being a teacher, a cosmetologist or a nurse. As we see in the Department of Labor’s, 30 Leading Occupations for Employed Women, while some women seek out more traditional fields, such as the aforementioned, there are an increasing number of women and girls entering the traditionally male dominated world of STEM. This can be attributed to the recruiting of women to enter these fields, as well as campaigns and initiatives by groups like GoldieBlox, which had a commercial featured in the Superbowl.

In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014, only 24 (about five percent) of the CEOs of the Fortune 500 Companies are women. With these leadership roles predominantly taken over by men, women are overshadowed socially; disassociating women from positions of power. The research study also points out that although 35 percent of survey volunteers said they prefer their boss to be a man, only 23 percent of those individuals said they prefer their boss to be a women. Forty-one percent of the participants said they had no preference to whether their boss was male or female.

Some people we interviewed said that they did not feel there was a difference between the genders, a notion that is gaining more support. In an article by Youth Radio, produced by outLoud, and published by NPR, we learn that students as young as third grade are feeling like they do not fit their biological gender or the role that society has imposed on them.

Brian Johnson, a senior communication and economics major at UMass understands how that feels.

“I feel like I exist within some sort of box that society has created. But in understanding the definitions, I try to go outside of the box and explore different options,” said Johnson.

Ultimately, what matters most is that an individual is comfortable with themselves and with the way they carry themselves. If that happens to be something that is different than what they were biologically assigned, that is nobody’s business but their own.

By Brianna Davis, Christian Yapor and Pio Romano

9/11: The Reckoning – A Reaction to The Sky Cowboys

The New York Times photo-documentary, “The Sky Cowboys,” is one that works well due to coordination on all levels of the piece to work together.

The images, black and white in color  evoke a tranquil duality, in contrast to the stories that the Sky Cowboys are sharing. The stillness of the photos allow for the audience to engage with the images being presented and  to really take on the full depth of what each Sky Cowboy describes.

For instance, one of the men describes what he does in the moments that he has an opportunity to rest. He talks about how he seizes that moment to look over and into the city and the Empire State Building. Making this a moment that the audience can really connect with, as the visual is a photo of the worker staring out into what seems like the boundless skyline of the big apple.

Alongside visuals, the audio quality is quite pristine and truly captures a sense of place. The listener is able to envision the day of the workers: the sound of walkie-talkie communication, hammers banging, tools falling to the ground, drills humming, shoes walking and workplace chatter.

While these elements are very simple and basic in nature, they add complexity and texture to the story and aid the listener in an auditory journey through the experiences of the Sky Cowboys, and what a day on the job is like for them.

Combining these auditory and visual aids into one piece allows for the audience to be captivated and engaged in the story that is going to be told. These tools leave the audience with a desire to learn more about these incredible people, whom essentially build New York City, from the ground up.

Gratitude and Empathy – How to make the winter a little less harsh

Most of us don’t really think about struggles that aren’t affiliated with our lifestyles, take for instance, not having a car in the dead of winter, in Western Massachusetts.

Now imagine that you have to go grocery shopping and rely on public transportation, even worse, add children into the equation and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

I’m fortunate enough to have a vehicle, but due to the high cost of on campus parking (and a handful of parking tickets), I park off campus, which on a day like today is pointless to try to access.

I decided to take the bus to the store to buy my dorm essential groceries for the next two and a half weeks. I had no clue of the harshness I would soon encounter upon leaving my room.

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Students celebrate Super Bowl victory in unprecedented manner

Super Bowl Sunday was celebrated in what has now become a traditional fashion at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, where students convene in the South West residential area to celebrate or “riot”, depending on whether or not the local favorite wins.

There was something a lot different about this post-game celebration though – new policies, new measures of crowd control and new student attitudes toward law enforcement.

Between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. students from all over campus rushed to the South West courtyard to gather, chant and converse about the miraculous victory the Patriots had just achieved. Local news outlets and student media were present on the scene and on social media.

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Hi there,

Welcome back to the official blog of B.Davis, multimedia reporter. I’ll be updating this blog frequently with information about campus, local and international events.