Animal Savagery, Student Hostility, Newest iPhone Leaked at Bar

Law Banning Videos of Animal Cruelty Revoked

In NewYorkTimes.com’s “Justices Void Law Banning Videos of Animal Cruelty,” it’s reported that the Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 20, quashed a law that would make it illegal to produce or vend animal cruelty videos, including footage in which dogs are seen fighting. The eight-to-one ruling would generate “a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth,” said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., since it violates the First Amendment and should not be added to the long list of unprotected free speech, like “obscenity, defamation, fraud,” etc. Although the law included special cases that would allow for theses videos (footage with “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value”), the Justices still revoked the law, saying it would have serious repercussions, as with “hunting videos, for example,” that “are not obviously instructional in nature,” said Justice Roberts. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the lone dissident, said the others’ decision was based on “fanciful hypotheticals” and would benefit “depraved entertainment.”

Policy stories usually plague an uninterested public with bureaucratic babble, but this policy issue is different, in that it covers an issue the public would be intrigued by: the unnecessary abuse of big-eyed pups (and other pets)! People with pets, not just members of PETA, must find this policy story compelling because just the thought of seeing their furry lovers tortured by some sadistic fiend is crushing. The article’s structure is well-organized, including a thorough summary of the law, as well as the positions of its opponents and proponents. However, it lacks quotes from non-Justice outsiders, which would vitalize the piece. Perchance the next story on a voided law will include the public’s vitriolic riposte or positive reaction.  That’s just my peasant opinion on one Old Gray Lady piece, though.

Find it HERE.

Student Officers Battle Over Letter at New Jersey University

“Student Officers Clash” by writer Joseph Sforza (me) in the latest online edition of The Gothic Times, the student paper of New Jersey City University, gives a detailed account of a scalding debate that occurred at a March 22nd student government council meeting over a controversial letter that asked SGO VP of Activities Carolina Garcia to “shape-up or step down.” It quotes Garcia, who felt “scrutinized” because of the letter, as well as student Asheenia Johnson, who raised the incendiary issue at the council meeting, arguing that the letter overstepped its creators’ authority (those being the Student Government Organization’s executive board, on which Garcia serves). Later the article quotes key NJCU faculty officials, who deemed the letter as unconstitutional and hasty. It also discloses the letter’s connection to NJCU’s March 4th protest against tuition hikes, along with the minimal power university officials have in student government affairs. Additionally, the article sharply incorporates a student’s reaction to the fiery dispute.

Federally, policy issues (as shown in the “Animal Savagery” above) are often rejected by a public who’s more concerned about lifestyle, celebrity and sports stories. Not that this phenomenon is damaging (the press must provide the public with relevant news that it prefers), but it places news gatherers in an awkward position: when and how should policy news be delivered? Only when a bill becomes a law? When a bill affects more than a certain number of people; if so, what number? When a bill is immensely contentious? To put it plainly, policy-makers make it easier to report their line of work when policies incite impassioned debate or threaten to impact an unsuspecting faction. My article is a policy story, yes, but it isn’t at the same time, since it deals with people, those student policy-makers, not documents or lengthy ordinances. It divulges the surreptitious realm of student officials carrying on a business important to students. I have two scruples about the story, and both have to do with grammar and usage. First, the title sucks. “Clash” over what? This isn’t some creative writing assignment; this is news. State clearly, but not redundantly, the central topic of the story in its headline. It’s that simple. Second. the second-to-last graph is full of grammatical errors. Whether this is the writer’s or the editor’s culpa is not for me to point out. I simply want readers to easily follow the story’s reportorial flow.

Find it HERE. Compare to the edited version on my other blog, Writing on Life.

Next iPhone Discovered in Bar

iPhone aficionados were delighted to hear over the April 16th weekend that Gizmodo.com, a gadget-guide website, obtained the prototype for the next generation of iPhone after someone (supposedly Gray Powell, an Apple Software Engineer) lost it in a bar in Redwood City, California. In a New York Times article, Apple blogger, John Gruber, asserts that the discovery is a real prototype: “I called around, and I now believe this is an actual unit from Apple — a unit Apple is very interested in getting back.” According to FOXnews.com, Apple ordered Gizmodo to return their product, making known that the rumored piece of wires, plastic and electronic force is indeed the company’s own model of the next iPhone. “Devices leak all the time. Devices get stolen all the time. But not Apple devices,” reasoned PCMag.com‘s head cellphone analyst Sascha Segan. “Apple has the best device control in all of the industry. It blows my mind that they let this thing go traveling on a road trip.” Apple spokespersons have yet to comment on the debacle.

I absolutely adore my iPhone (almost as much as I love my fiancée…almost). It does a whole schmear of tasks that assuage my hard-pressed, deadline-stuffed lifestyle: stores to-do lists categorically, reminds me to bestir myself early in the morn, provides stress-relieving games to play between daily activities, and sends an airborne signal directly to my espresso maker everyday at 7:45 am, liberating me from the hard work of doing it myself. That last task was hyperbole, yes, but that doesn’t mean the iPhone will not eventually do that. Actually, a new chapter in the evolution of iPhone is exactly what expectant iPhone users anxiously await. “What cutting-edge ameliorations will Apple bring to the coming iPhone?” an iPhone fanatic might ask (not that I am one; it’s simply rhetorical). That’s why this technological ooze of classified information must make the news! While droves of iPhone consumers (6.4 million in the U.S.) avidly put up with dying iPhones nearing the end of their lifespan, news about a possible revival is sensational and should be reported. And it was. Good work, bloggers. Sorry, Apple. By the way, please reformat the new iPhone’s look; it’s rather unappealing, but I can’t wait to use its front-side camera for mobile video chats!

All related articles are linked in the story’s summary section above.

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