Sunday, July 21, 2013

Guest Blogger Branches Out & Launches New Blog

TRENTON—Recently, as I was perusing through my email and Facebook messages, (please forgive me, I'm a work in progress, sometimes it takes me eons to check my messages and get back to everyone, but anyway I digress), I stumbled across a message from my friend and comrade, Delonte Harrod. Through reading his email, I found out that he has a new blog entitled Delonte J. Harrod.

On his blog, this Trenton-based journalism major/ photographer aims to share his "writing ability" and "engage the world through words" while sparking conversation. I applaud Herrod for his efforts. From reviewing his website, I see that Harrod also seeks to bring information to the public that they would not ordinarily have access to.

Indeed, Harrod does bring something new to the table by raising thought-provoking questions to his readers. As a case in point, in one of his blog entries, the Trenton-based blogger raises the question,  "how does [newspaper] content shape the perceptions of those who do not live or have never been to Trenton?” In other words: Is the local news of Trenton helping to frame people as only savages, immoral, and/or very hostile people?"

Here, I think Harrod raises an important question that highlights the power and impact of the media. Indeed, what media outlets report to the public, whether good or bad, sometimes gets taken as indisputable gospel, when in reality that information should be examined through a critical or skeptical lens. As a case in point, one day while I was at the library a few weeks ago, a gentleman next to me said that former South African president Nelson Mandela died, when in reality, he didn't. The young man based his conclusion on information received through Facebook. The point here being, with today's media and the saturation of the Internet, one has to take what one reads with a grain of salt and be critical consumers of information. Otherwise, if you don't, you may take what you're hearing or reading as the truth, when it is not.

As one looks at Trenton news, sure, there is bad news to report and I recognize where certain members of the media are coming from, but come on, let's be real. We're not living in Beirut, this is Trenton. Sadly enough, this city sometimes get painted as "Big Trouble" when in my humble opinion, it is not. These kinds of news reports do not paint a complete picture of the city of Trenton.

I think other people are beginning to see this trend in larger society as well. They are not satisfied. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, “nearly one-third—31% of people say they have deserted a particular news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they have grown accustomed to”. The study went on to report that 60.7 of the people polled find that the stories are less complete than they used to be". In other words, people are not satisfied with the media outlets currently available.

This is why I think that it is important to have bloggers like Harrod that present a counter-narrative to what the mainstream media offers. Indeed, reality is more nuanced than viewing Trentonians as mere scoundrels and hoodlums. Trentonians are doing great things everyday, this should not be glossed over or overlooked.

And with that said, I think we are in store for more thought-provoking commentary from Harrod, you can visit his website by clicking here.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Under Construction: Reflections on Change

TRENTON-- Just this past week, as I was doing my daily rounds, I noticed construction workers still digging in and digging up parts of North Warren Street. In the span of only a couple of days, these workers have turned this North Trenton street into a one lane pathway leaving neighborhood residents with one less place to park their vehicles and forcing pedestrians to walk around or circumvent the rubble.

Despite the current inconvenience that this new construction presents, I think something can be learned from it and I wanted to share with you my thoughts. First and foremost, I've learned that anytime something needs to be fixed or changed, sometimes you have to do some digging to uncover what the real problem is. Simply staying on the surface may not unearth the real problem. In other words, you don't want to just treat symptoms of an issue, when the problem may run much deeper than that. So you may have to dig deep and find some things you may not expect, but that's okay, because it's necessary to solve or fix your problem.

A concrete example of what I'm trying to say can come from my own experience. As a younger man, when I started college at Mercer County, my grades were terrible because quite frankly, I did not enjoy reading or writing, nor did I see their necessity at the time. When I was younger, I thought it was the teacher, or the books were boring, or something outside of me that was causing my poor grades, but as I dug deep and started to really look at the situation, I found that I was the culprit. I did not put in the time to read, pay attention in class, or do the work and I had to accept the reality that I did not like to read or write. By digging deep and looking at the facts objectively, I realized that I needed to change and quick if I didn't want to flunk out of school, and guess what, I changed, I began to love reading and writing to the point that I became a blogger or citizen journalist.

Another thing I have learned from the construction on Warren Street is that change or transformation takes time. The construction workers on Warren Street just started about two weeks ago and it doesn't look like they will be done any time soon. So, change doesn't happen overnight. All one needs to do is look at the process of losing weight ( a process I am presently going through, too much soda and one too many donuts, but I digress). If one looks at the process of losing weight or getting in shape, it takes significant effort and time. Sure, there may be fad diets out there that promise overnight results, but I tell you the truth, real change takes time. Rome was not built in a day, neither will your change effort. But if you're serious and have made a commitment to change, you will see yourself through it, no matter the setbacks and obstacles.

Lastly, the construction on North Warren Street has taught me that changing can be uncomfortable. In the case of the construction on Warren Street, I see that residents and visitors alike now have one less place to park their vehicles. In the case of pedestrians, they now have to travel around the rubble to get where they are going. Yet despite this discomfort or inconvenience, it doesn't alter the need for change. The street still needs work whether we like the inconvenience it brings or not. Indeed, change can be painful, but this pain or inconvenience does not impact its necessity.

So, all in all, the construction on North Warren Street, has shown me the importance of change and that with change comes the virtues of discovery, patience, and perseverance which can all lead to growth. I think this information can help anyone (myself included) that is wrestling with change in their life, their community, or in their workplace. I leave this with you to ponder and engage with. All responses are welcome.