American’s second guess President Obama’s peace initiative for the Middle East

President Barack Obama shares his peace initiative for the Middle East and is met with skepticism by the American people.

By Patrick McCabe

Written May 18, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama urges leaders in Palestine, Israel and Egypt to take the necessary steps to achieve peace in the Middle East.

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas all visit Washington this month. The President will urge these nations to look for ways to strengthen their relationship with the United States and take the proper steps to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and Arab states.

Maryland schoolteacher Kim Chance is skeptical on how effective these meetings will be.

“I think he has good intentions but I think it is naïve to think that any resolution will last,” said Chance. “This is a war over the Holy Land, a religious war and as long as you have differing religions there will always be conflict.”

Elon University freshman Rachel Long also has an issue with Obama’s efforts.

“His efforts are good in theory but I feel like time could be spent better else where,” said Long. “Similar negotiations were attempted during the Clinton administration and while they seemed to go well at the time nothing came out of them. I think President Obama should be focusing on things that have potential to actually have a larger impact in the end.”

The Gaza Strip, central location of the Middle East conflict

The Gaza Strip, central location of the Middle East conflict

Obama and Clinton are not the only presidents to attempt to create peace in the Middle East. In July of 2007 President George Bush attempted to host a peace conference and gain economic support for Abbas and his government. Unfortunately Bush was unsuccessful and his efforts were seen as a way to make up for the damage the U.S. had done in Iraq by showing progress in solving the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

While Obama has turned his focus to peace efforts in the Middle East many Americans believe he should be focusing on the issues that plague the U.S..

“First and foremost Obama need to focus on the U.S. and our issues, said Elon junior Josh Tate. “How can he expect to help the Middle East when our own country is in shambles?”

Washington DC native Amy Farrar shares similar sentiments.

“Obama must take the necessary steps to salvage our economy before he focuses on international issues,” said Farrar. “We are the brink of a second depression and the economy should be America’s number one concern.”

President Obama inherited a terrible mess: a $1.3 trillion deficit, two wars, rising unemployment and unprecedented crises in our banking system. The Obama Administration has worked to address the immediate problems of rising unemployment, falling home prices and limping credit markets, while taking a longer view in laying a strong foundation for future economic growth that benefits all Americans.

Even though President Obama has attempted to address the economic issues and spent his first one hundred days in office focused solely on the economy little progress has been made. Some Americans believe international issues could be the solution to our economic crises.

“While domestic issues are important most of our problems seem to have sprung up because of international issues,” said Elon sophomore Erika Pescatore. “We need to start looking at the major issues that got us in this economic situation to get us back on our feet.”

Elon University employee Mallory Anderson thinks that both domestic and foreign issues are important.

“I don’t think you can ignore one issue,” said Anderson. “I think you need to pay attention to both issues. He can’t ignore international policies, he must find a way to work on both domestic and foreign affairs.”

While both domestic and foreign issues plague the U.S., President Obama will spend this month focusing on the Middle East. He kicks off these meetings today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will continue to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian National Authority President Abbas later in May.

See Rachel Long discuss Obama’s peace initiative:

See Mallory Anderson discuss the importance of domestic and foreign issues:


May 18, 2009 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

My future in journalism, revisited.

By Patrick McCabe

Written May 17, 2009

The future of journalism is unknown. Living in a digital world we have no idea what lies ahead for the field of journalism. We once lived in a time where everyone relied on the printed word for news and information but now we rely on the Internet and sites like Twitter to get our information.

Patrick McCabe, journalism student of the future

Patrick McCabe, journalism student of the future

I began my career as a journalist this year. Within my reporting class I have learned so much about how to be a journalist and especially how to be a journalist in this digital age. I have reported on all sorts of different topics and used different forms of media to do this reporting. The written word is no longer enough; we now use images, graphics and video to tell a story. In addition to that we write a lead of less then 140 words on Twitter to pull in readers. Journalism has changed from the printed press to the online press.

Many major news sources have written about the future of journalism. Emily Nussbaum wrote an article in the New York Times about the future of journalism and Sally Duros constantly twits about journalism’s future.

The Times created a way for the American people to post their emotions about President Obama’s inauguration anonymously on the Times website. This was a creative and interactive way for readers to express their emotions and it was a way for the New York Times to gain a lot of attention.

This once dominate newspaper has recently seen a heavy decline but through creative efforts like “Word Train” they may have a chance surviving and regaining their popularity and power. With our societies reliance on television and the Internet some believe that newspaper is no longer a useful resource. In order for newspaper to outshine other forms of media it will take a lot of creative development. New ideas like the “Word Train” is exactly what will help newspaper regain its once dominate power.  

As a student pursuing a career in communications I have attempted to familiarize myself with all different areas of communication. The various courses I have taken at Elon have taught me a lot about radio, television, the Internet, magazine and newspaper. All of these forms of communications are things we use today but are things that have gone through a lot of changes and continue to change as technology continues to develop.

The future of journalism is something that every journalist should be focused on. While it is unclear we can be certain that in order for journalism to survive it will have to conform to societies technological dependency.

An uncertain future gives me hope that I will be able to chart my own path in the field of journalism. I am excited for the new age of journalism and what lies ahead of me.

May 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

Helpful math tips for journalists: ‘Math Tools for Journalists’ chapters 9-12

By Patrick McCabe

Written May 12, 2009

Directional Measurements

Time, Rate and Distance

When working with time, rate and distance problems the most important thing is to keep the units of measurement the same.time_clock

If the rate is in miles per hour then the distance needs to be miles and the time needs to be hours. If anything is not the same it should be converted.


Distance= rate x time

Rate= distance/time

Time= distance/rate

Speed, velocity, acceleration, g-force and momentum

Speed and velocity are different. Speed measures how fast something is going while velocity indicates its direction. Acceleration measures how quickly something speeds and g-force is an acceleration measure. The “g” represents the normal force of gravity. Momentum is the force needed to stop an b=object in motion.


Acceleration=(ending velocity – starting velocity)/time

If a car accelerates from s=zero to 60 in 30 seconds what is the rate of acceleration?

(60 mph – 0 mph)/30 seconds = 2mph per second

Momentum= mass x velocity

What was the momentum of a race car weighing 132 kilograms when it crashed into a wall if it traveling 150 mph?

Convert mph to kilometers per hour (kph): 105 mph x 1.6= 168kph

132 kilograms x 168 kph= 22,176 kilogram kilometers per hour

Area Measurements

Journalists can use area measurements in all different types of stories. It is useful for a journalist to know how to calculate perimeter when writing articles about new developments or construction projects. Area is also important for real estate, technical, feature and sports reports. Square feet and square yards are useful when checking reports on size and circumference and radius are important for dealing with stories on circular area.


Perimeter = (2 x length) + (2 x width)

Area (squares and rectangles) = length x width

Area (triangles) = .5 base x height

Circumference = 2P x radius

Area (circles) = 2P x (radius)^2

Volume Measurements

In the business world terms like ton, barrel, box and cord take on a specific meaning. Goods are often sold in volumes. A goods measurement can vary based on the market, knowing how to measure volume is a key component to selling any good.

Liquid Volume

Liquid measurements apply to liquids in recipes, bodies of water and other fluids.


2 tablespoons = 1 fluid once

4 quarts = 1 gallon

1 U.S. standard barrel = 31.5 gallons

For finding the volume of a rectangular solid use this formula: Volume = length x width x height

Other measurements:

Cord: 128 cubic feet


            Short ton= 2,000 lbs

            Long ton= 2,240 lbs

            Metric ton= 2,204.62 lbs

The Metric System

Most Americans struggle to use the metric system yet the rest of the world uses it for every type of measurement. The metric system is an important tool for international commerce. It is based on the multiples of 10.metricchartL


Meter: basic unit for length

Mass: derived from meter and the unit for weight

Newton: unit of force


Because the metric system is based on the decimal system you can change from one unit to another simply by multiplying or dividing by any multiple of ten. Each unit is ten times as large as the next unit.

Prefixes can create larger or smaller factors when added to a unit name. The prefixes for numerical values are: 

micro (1 millionth) 0.000001
milli (1 thousandth) 0.001
centi (1 hundredth) 0.01
deci (1 tenth) 0.1
no prefix 10
deka 10
hecto 100
kilo 1,000
mega 1,000,000
giga 1,000,000,000
tera 1,000,000,000,000 

For a more in-depth explanation of the metric system click here.

May 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

A behind the scenes look at Elon’s presidential office with Lisa Keegan

By Patrick McCabe

Written May 2, 2009

Have you ever wondered who oversees all of Dr. Lambert’s appointments? Or who ensures that he is prepared for the daily grind of being a college president?

Lisa Keegan working in the president's office

Lisa Keegan working in the president's office

Meet Lisa Keegan, the senior assistant to the president and secretary to the board of trustees. Keegan received her bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in finance from Elon and than attended law school at Stetson University.

“I went to law school thinking that I wanted to do work for child advocacy in the legal field,” said Keegan. “But in my second year of law school I took a course called law and higher education policy and for me it was that moment where light

bulbs were going off where I thought this is what I want to do. I want to get back into higher education.”

Keegan returned to Elon with her soon to be husband John and fell into her current position.

 “For me to find a position where I could follow the career path I wanted and be at the school that I love, it was just a perfect match,” said Keegan.

Keegan’s duties as senior assistant to the president and secretary to the board of trustees include overseeing Dr. Lambert’s calendar, serving as the liaison between the president and the board of trustees, is responsible for setting and organizing the platform party for all major speakers that come to campus and other duties that vary on a daily basis.

“My job varies everyday and that is one thing I love about my job,” said Keegan. “We always have very nice to do list but we never get to it all day because new things come up everyday.”

Keegan’s job is constantly changing and she never knows what will await her when she arrives in the morning or returns from lunch.Lisa Keegan

“One thing that I do love about it is that it changes on a daily basis. There is something new everyday,” said Keegan. “I knew that this job was going to be something different within the first month when I returned from lunch and asked my colleague if anything happened while I was gone? She responded with ‘yes well we got a call from Hillary Clinton’s Campaign and Bill Clinton is going to be on campus next week’ and I thought okay well this is going to be a very different position.”

Keegan has limited direct interaction with students but that is something she wants to change.  In addition to the Elon 101 course she will be teaching next year she will be working very closely with junior Noelle Clemente. Noelle serves as the current office assistant for graduate admissions and will serve as the office assistant to the president’s office next fall. The two have already begun preparing for the busy fall that awaits Dr. Lambert.

“I’ve been helping her run errands and tried to assist her with any early preparation that I can,” said Clemente.

While she has only known her for a limited time Noelle has had many interactions with Keegan through her work in graduate admissions.

“Lisa’s presence provides that Elon spirit of a friendly, caring genuine person,” said Clemente. “Everything she does she does with the students interests in mind.”

Like students Keegan has also taken the opportunity to learn while here at Elon. Her position and the people around her have taught her a lot.

“Sometimes I feel guilty,” said Keegan. “I feel like I am getting more than I am giving to the position because I have been learning so much just through observation.”

While Keegan loves her current position she hopes that one day she will be working in a higher position within an upper education administration.

 “I see myself in a University setting and I truly hope it is still at Elon,” said Keegan. This place is ever changing and ever transforming and it is something that is amazing to be a part of. I hope I am in an administrative position but I can’t say where.”

Keegan continues to serve the president, the board of trustees and the students and offers them this piece of advice.

 “The best life advice I ever received is from my grandfather, I would always share with him everything I was involved in and everything I was doing and he would always say ‘none of it matters unless you’re having fun.’ I try to remember that on my most stressful days.”

See Lisa Keegan share the best piece of advice she has ever received: 

May 8, 2009 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

Math Tools for Journalists: Chapters 5-8

How a journalist should analyze polls, surveys, business, stocks and bonds and property taxes.

By Patrick McCabe

No one, not even journalists can escape the math world. Math is a great tool for a journalist to present cold hard facts using numbers and journalists use a variety of math tools in their pieces.

Polls and Surveys

 While both polls and surveys are based on representative samples of a population polls are an estimate of public opinion based on one question or topic that is being presented while surveys look at variety of questions.pie

When evaluating polls remember the following:

  • Name and background of polling organization
  • Who paid for the poll
  • How and when the poll was conducted
  • The exact wording of the question asked
  • The size of the sample and response rate
  • The sample method
  • The margin of error
  • The relationship recent events may have had on the poll results

Remember these tips will help any reporter who chooses to use polls when reporting on a story. These tips can also help a reporter using samples but they should remember that a sample looks to represent a population while a poll aims for approximately 400 participants.


The world of business often produces major news and is chalked full of math. Examples of business news include financial statements, profit and loss statements, balance sheets and ratio analysis. These documents provide a number of tools journalists can use when reporting on a businesses financial status or big financial endeavors.

Tips for dealing with financial statements:

  •  Numbers are often written in “thousands” or millions,” deleting the last zeros. Watch out for this because it can trick you.
  • Figures in parentheses are negative.
  • Compare net figures over time, it is more newsworthy to report changes over time than to report one years numbers.

These tips will help you analyze financial statements that are trying to trick a ill informed reporter.

Stocks and Bonds

Stocks and bonds are how most businesses make money. Bonds are also used by the government to raise funds. Understanding these money making tools is important for all journalists.investing-stocks-bonds-2

Stocks are sold by companies to share holders. Once a share holder is in possession of stock they become a part owner in the company but because there are so many stocks sold each year shareholders often represent a tiny portion of ownership.

Stocks change worth overtime. The more people want a stock the higher its price will go and the higher the shareholders worth will be. Mutual funds are also an option for stock enthusiasts but mutual funds invest in a variety of companies with a “mutual” interest as opposed to one specific company.

A bond is simply a loan form an investor to the government or other selling organization that earns interest over a period of time. Bonds are generally low-risk investments.

The bond owner pays “face value” for a bond and receives an annual interest rate. At the completion of the bond the owner will also receive the face value.


A bond is purchased for $1,000 with a 5 percent interest rate and a maturity date of 30 years. The bond owner will receive $50 each year and after 30 years will receive the $1,000 face value.

Bonds can be tricky because their value fluctuates with supply and demand.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are the largest source of income for local government, school districts and other municipal organizations. A property tax rate is determined by taking the total amount of money the government needs and dividing that by the total number of property owners. How much each owner pays is based on the value of their property. While most districts only take into account real property like real estate, homes and buildings, some also tax valuable assets. 


May 5, 2009 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Elon students and faculty see the importance of World Press Freedom Day

By Patrick McCabe

Written April 30, 2009

World Press Freedom Day takes place tomorrow all across the world as a way to draw national attention to the role of independent news and information and how it is under attack.

News organizations all across the world help make this day possible and many communications students and faculty at Elon University see this as an important day for all journalists.

Journalism student Noelle Clemente understands the importance of this day and what role it plays for all journalists.

“This day is so important for recognizing professional journalists,” said Clemente. “It’s extremely important to remember how important it is to allow journalists to the freedom and opportunity to openly explain the news as it is.”

Clemente acts as a citizen journalist, reporting on local issues and using a wordpress site to talk about the news that surrounds her local community.

“I think that citizens do have the same rights but it depends on the forum,” said Clemente. “I have a problem when people confuse citizens opinions for fact but I think they deserve the same rights.”

Journalistic freedom has become an international issue and World Press Freedom Day is helping to raise awareness about journalistic oppression internationally.

According to 673 journalists were arrested, 125 journalists were imprisoned and 70 journalists were killed in 2008.

Of the journalists killed four were in Africa, 11 in the Americas, 31 in Asia, nine in Europe and Central Asia and 15 in the Middle East and North Africa. 

It appears that international freedom has put a heavy burden on journalists and journalistic rights are not being seen internationally.

Communications professor Tom Nelson sees an importance in international journalistic freedom.

“I think it’s important to realize that freedom of the press is not a western value it’s a universal value,” said Nelson. “I think it’s important for us to stand up straight ad say that to the entire world.”

This year the annual World Press Freedom Day campaign is sponsored by Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press, Russian Guild of Press Publishers, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Michel Cambon, Sanjeev Saikia and Tom Callaghan. 

For more information on how you can get involved click here.

See Noelle Clemente talk about World Press Freedom Day and citizen journalism:

See Tom Nelson talk about World Press Freedom Day internationally:

April 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm 1 comment

CELEBRATE! 2009 takes place at Elon University this week

By Patrick McCabe

Written April 27, 2009

All this week Elon University students, faculty and staff will take part in CELEBRATE! a weeklong celebration for students in academics and the arts. The week will include Programs seminars, art exhibitions, plays, a film festival, dance and music performance all presented by students and faculty.CELEBRATE!

Tuesday all classes will be cancelled to allow students to partake in the annual Student undergraduate Research Forum, also know as SURF day.

Students will present on a variety of topics and many of them have been researching these topics for months.

Senior Ben Smith will present on “The Difference in the Experiences of Male and Female Beginning Elementary School Teachers.” As an early education major Smith has had a lot of interest in this topic.

Senior presenter Ben Smith

Senior presenter Ben Smith

“I have put a lot of time into my research,” said Smith. “Many of my friends have been wondering where I have been all semester so I am hoping all my hard work pays off.”

Smith also presented his research this month at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. His findings are based on interviews with female and male beginning elementary school teachers, and from scouring existing research, which uncovered several major themes.

Students will present all day on Tuesday and topics range from “Dioxin and Dopamine Alter Swimming Behavior in Larval Zebra Fish” to “The Glamorization of Cyberbullying in Gossip Girl.” Faculty presentations will take place between nine and ten a.m. and student presentation will begin just after that, taking place all across campus.

For a complete schedule of CELEBRATE! events click here and for a list of all the presentations taking place on Tuesday  be sure to pick up a CELEBRATE! packet available in all academic buildings.

April 28, 2009 at 12:41 am Leave a comment

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