Cover of the Fine Print!

Share Button

Last semester, I started researching surveillance in Gainesville with a few other students for an applied fact finding class. Charlene Hewitt and I decided to keep digging, and our combined efforts were published in the cover story for the latest issue of the Fine Print.

Issues are available on the University of Florida campus, or various locations around town.

For a closer look at the research that led to the printing of this article, check out my other blog, in which surveillance is the focus:

The Horror of Human Trafficking

Share Button

Today concludes Justice Week in Gainesville, Fla. It was five days of events to increase awareness about human trafficking — both domestic and international.

I attended the “Human Trafficking Symposium: The Price of Sex” in the Rion Ballroom on UF campus on Thursday. Frank Williams, Sherry Kitchens, William Crews, and Mac Heavener spoke about the realities of human trafficking right here in Gainesville.

When people think of human trafficking, they think of “Taken.” Many don’t even acknowledge that it’s happening right in here in our little town.

U.S. Attorney Frank Williams called Gainesville out. It’s happening here, he said, because there’s a DEMAND for it here. (A DEMAND for SEX with YOUNG GIRLS.)

In case you aren’t well-versed in human trafficking, it is essentially this: A human being selling another human being.

He said runaways often get swept up by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home. If the pimp has other girls or women, he might threaten to beat one of them if she doesn’t do as he says. He explicitly used the words “malled or killed.”

They especially focused on men paying to have sex with young girls. Recently, a UF student was caught in a sex sting for trying to meet with a 14-year-old girl.

There are perpetrators in the audience, he said, “You need to get help.”
There are victims in the audience, he said, “You need to get help.”

Gainesville is right off I-75, and surrounded by agriculture. These could also factor in to the amount of human trafficking here.

Children don’t know the dangers of the world. But maybe they should. Maybe they shouldn’t be sheltered from the realities of the world and instead learn them and prepare for them.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mac Heavener spoke of the high rate of human trafficking in Jacksonville, Fla. He said some illegal immigrants will be brought here with promises of a waitress job and instead are manipulated into thinking they have all this debt to pay and only one way to do it. They are scared of authorities, of course, and don’t have anywhere to turn.

In one example Heavener gave, a woman had sex with 15 men a night for $20 each. A customer ended up calling because he felt bad for her.

Sherry Kitchens, who works with victims here in Gainesville, tried to explain why the victims don’t “just leave.” Aside from the threats, there’s a lot of manipulation involved. Girls have often run away from their families and now their pimp has created a sort of family-replacement. He’ll provide the food, shelter, everything they need and make them feel like they really can’t get on without him. Often, they’ve been so worn down that they feel worth nothing — he’s the only one who will see any value in them anymore.

Frank Williams even called out the porn industry. He said it objectifies women and it literally CHANGES THE WAY YOU PERCEIVE PEOPLE. Pornography has human consequences. He said, STOP. Stop watching porn. It’s disgusting. It creates a demand. It puts a price on sex.

A girl from the audience walked up to the podium. She wasn’t a scheduled event. Her name was Kelsey, and she felt she should share her story. She was abused for five years from when she was 7 to 12. She said no matter how much therapy she could go to or help she could get, there was nothing that could fill that hole. There was no day that she didn’t think about it. That’s why, she said, the focus needs to be prevention. So this doesn’t happen to more children.

Florida teachers disappointed in Supreme Court decision

Share Button


I started my first five-hour shift in Florida’s 89.1 WUFT-FM newsroom today as web producer in the Integrated News Facility at the University of Florida. This directly followed my editing lecture, so I skipped out on lunch to get to work.

I read the follow sheet as I awaited an assignment. This just in! The Florida Supreme Court rules to uphold a law which…just kidding, you’ll have to read the article linked above to get the full story.

So I had some vague details, a four graf article handed to me a little after 1 p.m. to get some hint at what was going on. I brainstormed with fellow INFers on whom I should contact as sources.

I called the Florida Education Association first, and was put in touch with spokesperson Mark Pudlow, who told me to call back a bit later, which was great ’cause that gave me time to actually figure out the recording studio.

I recorded my interview with him, and then called Janine Sikes to get UF’s take on the deal.

I talked with her, and then looked for a teacher to contact locally. I ended up with Karen McCann, president of Alachua County Education Association. I talked with her the longest, she was very passionate about the subject and wanted to make it clear what she thought and why, which made my job easier.

I left a message for the United Faculty of Florida, but didn’t hear back so I started. I emailed myself the recorded audio and began to form my story. Deadline of 6 p.m. was approaching, and my head was starting to feel the hunger. I had a meeting with the Fine Print in an hour, and still had to bike home and eat something. I didn’t want to let all this work go wasted, though.

So I closed up my laptop and took it home with me. Went to the meeting, returned home, pieced the rest of the story together, emailed Ethan that the draft was up, and viola! Now I can eat something.

Well, almost…the audio I recorded from the interviews may be used on the radio in the morning. How cool! I had such a productive day going from class, to the newsroom, to the Fine Print meeting, to finishing up a story. And then, to see it published on the WUFT website was quite refreshing and warmed me with such a sense of accomplishment that I almost forgot how tired and hungry I am.

Boxing Team to compete in Tallahassee! (article in the Alligator)

Share Button

Members of the University of Florida Boxing/Kickboxing Club will compete this weekend against six other Florida schools. See full article here:

Facebook Article in the Alligator

Share Button

Article published in the Independent Florida Alligator:

Original Article here:

If you haven’t already reposted the status update attempting to regain control of everything you’ve ever shared on Facebook – don’t. It won’t work. Accepting the terms of service upon signing up for the social networking site cannot be undone.

The status updates claim users’ copyright over the contents they’ve shared on Facebook and requires written consent from the individual user before Facebook can use the material. It has been copied and pasted so many times it’s like a newsfeed chain letter. But it is false.

The status update cites international law – the Berne Convention, though misspelled as ‘Berner,’ – and Uniform Commercial Code as protections against violating user’s privacy. But Clay Calvert, a University of Florida journalism professor and director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, and who holds a both a law degree and a doctorate in communication, said it’s not a matter of either of those, it’s a matter of contract law.

“This is much more of a symbolic protest than one that has any legal effect, despite what people would like to believe or think they know,” Calvert said.

When setting up an account with Facebook, soon-to-be users must accept the terms of service. If they actually read them, they’d know that Facebook has the right to use the information shared on the site. Facebook claims a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use any intellectual property content when the user chooses certain settings.

This doesn’t mean Facebook “owns” what’s shared – but it can disclose the information, which may include users’ GPS locations, to advertisers to more effectively direct ads their way. Information associated with an account may be kept even after it is deleted.

The Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities “is our terms of service that governs our relationship with users.” A status update cannot trump the terms of service that each user agreed to when signing up for site, Calvert said. It was a choice to sign up and it is a choice to continue to use Facebook – but only under their terms.

It’s like leasing a car, Calvert said, you can’t negotiate the terms by putting a sticker on it claiming your rights after you’ve signed the contract. You’re bound to that lease.

“The big picture is that Facebook users did not realize that they were giving away their rights,” Calvert said.

Now that they’re realizing this they’re trying to get them back. But the sheer number of people who repost that status doesn’t make it enforceable. Facebook also maintains the right to update their terms of service, and to continue using Facebook is to accept the changes, according to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. But who actually reads the terms of service?

“I know that I don’t read them, ever,” said Moriah Geier, an 18-year-old UF dance freshman, not only referring to Facebook’s terms, but iTunes and any other terms

and conditions one has to accept by ‘clicking the box’ on the internet. She reads them more on paper. She saw her friends posting the copied status, but didn’t believe her rights could be changed by a status update.

This wave of statuses followed a revision this month to the data use policy, which includes the information Facebook collects and how it may use that data. A similar message spread earlier this year following Facebook becoming a publicly traded company, but that has nothing to do with users’ privacy. Facebook can change the terms if notice is provided, which is done by posting the change on the Facebook Site Governance Page, and providing an opportunity to comment.

Adjusting your privacy and application settings controls how some content and information is shared, but some information like your name, profile picture and networks will always be public.

“It’s just become our everyday way of communicating,” said Kayla Marcus, 19-year-old UF dance freshman. “We don’t realize it’s so public.”

Navy-Marine Corps Classic

Share Button

The Navy-Marine Corps Classic held on the USS Bataan on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, made it to halftime before it was called.

 The condensation on the court caused concern for the University of Florida and Georgetown basketball players.

The condensation did not disrupt the sailors re-enlistment on the court with the secretary of the Navy during breaks in the first half, or the firework display at halftime.

First Photo Published Nationally!

Share Button

My first photo was published nationally on the Washington Times 24/7 website on Tuesday, from the Michelle Obama event that came to the University of Florida campus Monday. You can see my photo credit here:

I didn’t write the caption for it, or the story posted there, but I did write an article on the event:

Sept. 17, 2012

GAINESVILLE – First lady Michelle Obama traveled to the University of Florida campus to speak to grassroots supporters Monday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Tickets became available Thursday evening and grabbed the attention of students and other Gainesville residents. The event also drew people from out of town. It was free and open to the public.

Gainesville was the first destination of two Florida cities the first lady traveled to Monday to speak. After UF, she continued on to Tallahassee.

As the line to see the first lady queued outside, supporters of Republican nominee Mitt Romney gathered by the bull gator on the corner of Stadium Road and Gale Lemerand Drive.

They held signs and shouted, “Stop the spending! Decrease the debt!”

“This is why I don’t affiliate with any party,” Marlena Kaskonrobinson said, “Because there is insanity.”

Kaskonrobinson is a freshman industrial systems engineering major at UF. She said it’s a good idea to be educated on all points of view to make an educated decision in voting, and that’s why she had a ticket to the event. She will be voting in the upcoming election.

A.J. Avriett saw the Romney supporters at the corner by the bull gator and joined them when they moved north on Gale Lemerand Drive to stand across from the long line of ticket holders awaiting entry into the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

“I don’t want to raise my kids in a socialist America. With Obamacare and the rest of his policies that’s the direction we’re heading in,” said Avriett, a freshman psychology major at UF, “You can’t spend yourself out of debt.”

Across the street, people waited in line for hours. For Cynthia Yanez, this was the second time to hear Michelle Obama speak, the first time, she said, was in 2005. Yanez teaches special education at the School for Integrated Academics and Technologies.

Inside, the seats began to fill.
Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe stepped onto the podium and encouraged the audience to register to vote.

“The President has had our backs,” Lowe said, “Now’s the time to show that we have his.”

The pastor prayed and the national anthem was sung.

Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith took the stage to speak, “Four years ago it was about the changing of the guard. Now it’s about guarding the change.”

The audience chanted, “Four more years! Four more years!”

To much applause and waving, first lady Michelle Obama finally came out to speak. She said she loved her husband because of his character. She emphasized the significance Florida holds in the outcome of this election. She spoke of the importance of young people to get out there and vote, and to encourage others to do so as well.

She mentioned how her and her husband’s student loans cost more than their mortgage, and how they couldn’t do it without financial aid.

She said she believed in a strong middle class. But what it’s all about, she said, is hope for the future.

More than once, an attendee shouted, “I love you!”

The first lady responded, “I love you, too.”