Injured Syrians Treated in Israel? A Journey to Un-fool Myself

Coming from a country where Twitter has been blocked since its rollout, I must admit that I have missed an ocean of opportunities to hook up with the trending global networks.

My romance with journalism starts with a curious mind. Dubbed as a “walking encyclopedia” in elementary school, I have always been inquisitive to know more about the surroundings. However, the moment of truth has just came that I realized that my solicitous character has largely been squandered. Western social media was like a karate chop on me that revolutionized my old-school thinking about learning. Because this epiphany came so late in my life, I was playing like a fool last week when a news tip came on my Twitter page.

It all started with this feed.

As a Twitter starter, I have not developed an infatuation in reading the feed, but this one surely got me.

To understand this tweet, one does not have to possess professional knowledge on the Middle Eastern shadow diplomacy. With civil war in Syria raging its sledgehammer the third year now, its citizen has eaten the gall of bitterness when international humanitarian aids appeared to be operating in vacuum. To quickly recap the history, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was a royal descendant of the historical Ba’ath party which has dominated the country for half a century. At least three massive wars have broken out between Syria and Israel since 1948, with the latest being the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Ever since the foundation of Israel as a state, Syria has been consistently taken a hawkish stance on its very existence. Because of the dire relationship between these two states, Israeli has launched numerous offensives on Syria during the past two years, notably Israeli jets attack on Syrian arms convoy, Israeli airstrike on Syrian chemical weapon research site and Israeli preemptive assault on Syrian missile stockpiles. In the aftermath of Aug. 21 chemical attack on Syrian civilians, Israeli supported a limited strike in Damascus to curb Assad’s CWMDs(Conventional Weapons of Mass Destruction.)

So, what does this tweet say about the recent update about Israeli-Syrian relationship? I was almost baffled by what this information entails. Israeli have been helping Syrian civilians in the civil war! My bewilderment may sounds hypocritical to some, but nobody should forget that the relationship between these two states went so bad that there still sits the Golan Heights DMZ as a military buffer straddling across their borders.

All I did that day was a simple reply to the tweeter.

It was too hollow a question that the poster did not care to reply.

Having read the tip sheet by Steve Buttry, the third tip called crowdsourcing struck my temple. Should I really count on what people are posting on Twitter, even if the poster belongs to a well-regarded org with many followers?

Today, I decided to untangle this tweet. I hopped on the Twitter search box and typed the keywords “syrians;israel;hospital”. The result astonished me. I have almost misread Israel in its positive effort in salvaging lives of its neighbor!

I found tweets like these, overflowing with loving kindness:

Wait a minute! Does that mean these stories are true that Syrians were indeed getting help in Israel? I’ve spotted a commonality among all these tweets–they were all posted by pro-Israeli groups. Couldn’t all these be an Israeli left-wing propaganda that screams harmonious coexistence of these two states? Why there is no tweet from Syrians? Twitter is officially banned in Syria, but uncanny people could always bypass the Internet blockade with proxy software. This train of thinking gives rise to another advice I learned from Daniel Victor–“In breaking news, I default to the assumption that everything I see is full of crap.” Doesn’t this sound familiar in this situation–Injured Syrians treated in Israel when two states are still in an official state of ceasefire at the Golan Heights.

All these being said, I know that this journey leads me to investigate more if time permits, following the footprint of the rumor-debunker Andy Carvin.

Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear your comments and feedback below.


Andy’s Media Diet


Everyone needs some place they can escape to. One of my favorite things to do is just sit down with my guitar and get lost in it for hours upon hours. I like to play anything from The Beatles to random noise but it is the one thing that I can escape to from the stress of the world. But music isn’t the only thing that helps me escape me from reality once in a while.

Ever since I was a young boy, I have been a loyal subscriber to Sports Illustrated and NME. I have been reading these two magazines as long as I can remember, covering most of the entertainment news in my life. I remember being glued to the pages of Sports Illustrated as they described the triumph of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies and also being close to shedding a tear as I read the break up of Oasis in 2009 through NME.

I have always been a big activist in reading novels throughout my life. Starting from Dr. Seuss as a young boy, my favorite novels have evolved into books like the Fight Club, Lamb, and of course the Harry Potter Series. I’ll be honest, I’m not the most consistent reader. I can be perfectly content without picking up a book for months and manage to live a pretty satisfying lifestyle. But when I pick up a book like where it can just blow my hair back, I can’t help but appreciate what it has to offer. Whether it’s reading about Tyler Durden’s quest for a revoultion or Harry’s constant ability to put Hogwarts in danger, I can always find myself trying to finish one more page.

Most of my daily updates on news and information come straight from Twitter. It’s funny to think about how opposed I was to Twitter only just a couple years ago but how it’s my go to social media. Following pages such as NYTimes, CNN, and Onward State, I’m basically able to get all coverage on news to not only Penn State but from everything else around the world. Although mostly Twitter, pages such as Facebook also helps me keep on top of my activities such as The Lion 90.7fm and Comradio . Being a radio DJ and also a producer, I get comments, requests, and reviews weekly about my shows. Being so accessible, I am able to get these updates whenever and wherever I go.

Reading is not always a big part of my life but is an important part of my life. Getting my daily updates from Twitter, fantasy from J.K. Rowling, and news from NYTimes all contribute my enthusiasm for reading and look for a hopeful future of great novels, successful Eagles seasons, and an Oasis reunion and such…

On reflection of real-time journalism


We are living in an era with heavy information traffic. A prosaic example would be that Floppy Doe got off his shower and found out a snippet of breaking news glaring on his cellphone, Maybe not the type of news that his puppy was shot dead when fetching newspaper in the mailbox. Well, it could be breaking news if he is the head of a veterinarian association, just like what had happened to one of the swans belonging to the Queen Elizabeth of England.

A college student myself, I am aware of the pain to keep myself up to date with the news media at all times. Even during rapid transits on campus, an overheated atmosphere which teaches me a run-or-you-will-be-late mentality does little to honor a habit to check news consistently. However, I have cranked up a recipe that helps me better absorb clusters of information on the air.

First, no matter how wide it’s your reading spectrum, always take advantage of the breaking news feature available on an array of news sources. It has become a sensation in the past few years for news organizations to build this media superhighway to reach their audiences in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I regularly subscribe to the breaking news listserv of the New York Times and CNN. Throughout years of my experiences with these two news sources, I have found the importance of cross-examination across these media. Just like defendants in criminal courts had to stand for cross-examinations at times, news organizations par excellence are subjected to readers’ discretion as well. My rule of thumb is that if these two news media powerhouses are presenting disparate facts on the same subject, there are bound to be some clerical errors made by one, or even the worse, both organizations.

Second, information posted on social media is presumably unreliable until one makes further confirmation. “T.J.” Lane, 17, the perpetrator of recent a school shooting in Ohio who killed 3 and injured another 3, was said to have written a Facebook status that detailed a fictional story mirroring his murderous motive a few days before the commitment of crime. No independent source after his arrest, if ever attempted, had confirmed the authorship of that post. I read that status which was said to be allegedly written by Mr. Lane. The writing was evocative and not without a trickle of poignancy. The post could have, one may say, reflected the true feeling of Mr. Lane, but a deeper analysis would not erase the possibility of a post-processed machinery, which could have been done by either people he had known, or simply, a cyberspace aggressor.

Third, establishing a pyramid of news organizations in terms of their trustworthiness is the key to sounder judgments on readers’ side. Media History has told us that due primarily to the funding channels and ownership nature, news organizations are qualitatively highly variable.  Depending on how multi-taste a person you are, you may find local papers more appetizing than national ones. Media diet is just like food diet. Some are vegetarians favoring light topics, such as health and metropolitans; others are carnivores who rejoices in news that galvanizes peppery exchanges of readers’ opinions; yet others capitalizes almost on everything, those who may have learnt that impartial curiosity makes them more fitting for this diverse society.

The last book I read was a History of Israeli-Palestinians Conflict by Mark Tessler. A comprehensive tome on descriptions and analyses of this hot-potato issue in the Near East, it expanded my horizon undeniably on the understanding of the subject matter, and the content helped me build a more personalized modus operandi on this orphaned political conflict.

My leisure readings during the recent years have been tailored to cater my career interests. A ethnical minority by many standards, I have become emphatically interested in the lives of Jews since two years ago. My career goal is to become a news writer in Jerusalem for the New York Times. I also fostered a tender interest this year to get in touch with the bureau chief of Israel for the Times paper, Jodi Rudoren. According to her bio on the Times, she was elected one of the 50 most influential Jews in media in the “Forward 50” for her outstanding contribution for the Jewish community around the world. The media personality effect  has rekindled my interest and driven me to explore deeper.

I have come to believe, after years readings on international politics and foreign affairs, that names are selling points in the newspaper. The more I read about certain themes, the more likely I would recognize those who appeared in the paper. For example, it would be a overkill to ask me who was the supreme leader of Iran in charge of the religious affairs and diplomatic arm-wrestling a few years ago. But now, I would unmistakably visualize this weathered Muslim wearing an oversized zebibah(head bump) at all occasions of theocracy-based political speeches. The answer to this one, if you are wondering, is Sayyid Ali Khamenei,known in the West as Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. To many westerners, this name may sounds very outlandish. However, Mr. Khameini has been one of the most vocal, or some would say, transcendental religious enlighteners in this Shiite-dominated nation pro tempore. Maybe you would gripe in the back row about the purpose of knowing such trivial information, because it does not sound like a million-dollar question. However, being on-call journalists, it is a fair play for us to have some rudimental knowledge of these newsworthy personalities. To further complicating the task, the cast of big players in the media coverage on politics changes periodically at times of political transitions. Even as recent as eight years ago, people may barely have had any encounters with Barack Obama on the media, because he was a senator in Illinois back then, But now, he has become one of the best-known political leaders with a full-fledged career profile across the globe.

Have you ever thought about how important are quoted names in the newspaper? Without them, no attributions on file and no stories breathed into life. The media uses names so frequently that they became representatives of citizens’ voices. In this expanding news market, everyone who lives in an open society, perhaps not Ariel Castro in this case, stands for a equal chance to be quoted. Can you imagine a future time that your name appears on the Daily Collegian or something bigger, maybe the Philadelphia Inquirer?

To boil this down, your media diet is your personal preference. It is based on your hobbies, everyday interests and not the least of all, your set of complex personal identities(The Sikhs as a people were not well-known in the presence of American media until the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin over a year ago).If you happened to be one of those Sikhs living in the Great Lake area, you would have had this news, and you might have been eager to know more about the socio-economic standing of Sikhs in America after the occurrence of such a tragedy.

If you have made through your way to this point, congratulations. I don’t think much of I have talked were gibberish, and even if some were, you have to remember reading news could also be a humdrum task at occasions. The feeling of romance with reading news did not come at your birth but requires hell-bent patience to inch closer.

Where your romance lies?

Viola’s Media Diet

Viola smiling at The Universal Studio says: Orlando rocks.

Viola smiling at The Universal Studio says: Orlando rocks.

In my impression, my father is the perfect reader in our family: he subscribed some local newspapers and read them with his critical mind. As for me, I just skipped all the way to the entertainment page and read them with my afternoon cookies.

I’m now not so much an entertainment reader; facing this multi-media world, I’m more of an “absorber”: eager to get close to the world in different ways. I check my email when I wake up in the morning and I label the important ones. After that I will go on Facebook and Twitter to follow up some news around me. While eating breakfast, I read New York Times on my iPhone app, checking big issues; the bonus is—news make me chew more slowly, which is more healthy, I assume. I then read the Washington Post on the bus on my iPhone with music shuffling. Usually it’s a short way so I could just scan some of the big news lists ahead, but I enjoy the time with music and news. I get The Daily Collegian in the library after I get off the bus and I read it on the nearest sofa; it is a new habit I’m building.

One important thing I want to share is that I check my Instagram account very often and it is my favorite thing to do, especially with a cup of coffee. Yes, I am a picture people, obsessing with romantic pictures along with short words. Here is my list of “must follow” Instagram account; there are landscape poster like paulyvella, aditzt or cute food poster nao1223, and “beautiful life” theme poster monchouchou, emilieristevski, maghettastrenghetta.

That’s basically my daily reading list except there is one more thing worth mentioning: I chat with my father using Skype almost every night, talk news we read, share our opinions and make comments; It’s like a information exchange.

Before bedtime I will go over some Chinese Social Networks, which are similar to those in the states. (They are also worth knowing but it’s complicated to explain here)

Hunter’s Media Diet

My name is Hunter Maerz and I am a junior at Penn State University studying Broadcast Journalism. My morning ritual for attaining news starts with the television show, Sportscenter, which I put on while I get ready for the day, to get a quick recap of any and all sports news. Then, I have relatively early classes this semester, so while I am walking to class, I pick up a copy of the Daily Collegian. As soon as I get to the classroom, I sit down and look over the stories while I wait for class to begin. By doing this, I am able to catch up on all news relating to Penn State and the area. Then, once it becomes time for me to pull my laptop out, I have the New York Times website as my homepage so that right when I go on to the Internet, their news is the first thing I see. This strategy allows me to easily look through the top headlines of the day and if anything strikes my interest enough, I will click to view the whole story.

Now, going from class to class all day, with some time to eat and hit the gym, makes for a very busy day. So, I always check my Twitter feed on my cell phone throughout the entire day to catch any quick blurbs of news that may be happening in the world. I follow several news corporations such as CNN and Fox News, as well as a couple of sports analysts/agents, and a few public figureheads such as Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. Following a variety of different people and corporations allows me to get a lot of different opinions and news stories that I might otherwise not see. I also read Rolling Stone magazine and Sports Illustrated magazine from time to time, depending on if there are featured stories that I am interested in reading about. I am not a big fan of the radio so I will admit that I do not listen to any talk shows or get any of my news using that platform. The last book I read was The Great Gatsby, which I was re-reading for the second time. It has become quite a favorite of mine. I love the HBO original series Game of Thrones too, and would love to start reading those novels as well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read the books that led to a trailer like this?

This is me after almost getting swept away into the sea in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last spring

This is me after almost getting swept away into the sea in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last spring

In terms of my career, I would like to end up working in the entertainment world, whether it is music or film, because that is what I am most interested in and I would like to explore more into that field. Also, working for a sports magazine or a sports show would not be horrible either. I think of myself as pretty outgoing, so if I end up in one of those fields, I would like to have a job that involves communicating with other people or companies. I just want to make sure that if I am going to have a job, I want to be passionate about it and I want to work as hard as I possibly can to be the best at it.

Jordan’s Places To Get Information…..And Stuff

Was I ever interested in reading a newspaper?  No, not really.  I’d only take interest when I would see an interesting article about some of my favorite teams like the Phillies, Eagles, and Sixers, or maybe something about our local high school team.  My Dad always reads the local papers which are The Intelligencer Journal and The Lancaster New Era.  He used to leave articles he’d want me to read on the table and have a note with my name on it.

There are only a couple places I look for news today.  I follow CNN on Twitter as well as some of my favorite sports reporters and analysts like Ken Rosenthal and Jim Salisbury.  I check and every day for my baseball and Philly sports news.

I also get really interested in news around the music world.  It’s mostly news about rappers and the feuds between them tPicture of the movie cover.hat I find on 105.1’s YouTube channel.  The interviews on there aren’t the best and they like to ask really stupid questions about the artists’ personal lives but some of the stuff is really good.  One of the hosts, Charlamagne Tha God, has no censor whatsoever.  He asks whatever question he wants and tells everyone exactly what he is thinking.  If he thinks you have no alent, he’ll tell you.  One instance he actually told one of the women from “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta” that she had no talent.  It was great.

One thing that I feel that is anti-journalist of me is that I don’t really read books.  I just don’t.  It’s mostly because I don’t have the attention span to sit down and read a book.  My favorite book of all time is “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck.  I’m not really sure why it’s my favorite.  I had to read it in 9th grade and I just really like the characters and it’s a real tear jerker when you mix it with the movie.

So that’s just a brief summary of my media diet.  I follow other Me co-hosting "After Hours" on PSN-TVnews sources other than CNN on Twitter such as The New York Times and NBC as well as Anderson Cooper’s account.  I recently have been reading up a little bit on Syria.  I like to stay in the loop of what’s going on.  It helps me be able to write jokes on the comedy show I’m on if I know what current events are happening.

Reading is More Than Sports Updates, But They Seem to Rule My World

There is a part of me, somewhere buried deep down, where my 14 year old self is trying to get out and tell my current self to stop reading. “It’s stupid and a waste of time,” little me would say, and up until about two years ago, I would agree with these comments. I never saw the joy in reading as a kid. I would read a Sports Illustrated article every now and then, or a book that caught my attention, but I never could say I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Now, I can’t say enough about how much I love to read. Over the summer, I discovered possibly my two favorite books of all time in The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays With Morrie, two classic novels I must have read 3 times each. A good book can go a long way for me.

"The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball."

“The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball.”

On a more daily basis, there’s nothing I enjoy more than reading the  Inquirer’s sports section. Although I have to read it online at school, I make sure I take the time each day to read it “cover to cover”. I love being able to read not only Philadelphia sports news, but out of town scoreboards with a “Philly spin”.

Online articles have become somewhat of my forte, as I search the Internet daily to find the latest in sports updates, from the MLB to the NFL,  to all things college athletics.

I wouldn’t be anywhere in the world today without my Twitter. Funny, I used to be so against Twitter for so long. Now, not an hour goes by that I’m not checking and updating my feed. Twitter gives me the fastest and most up to date information when I need it, whether it be from my laptop in boring Stat class, or on my phone as a sit in the HUB and eat lunch. Now that the sport’s world is constantly changing, I need to stay on top of breaking stories dealing with injury, trade, retirement and more if I want Two Point Stance, my NFL talk show, to be successful.

Now, not a day goes by when I’m not reading, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Shame my 14 year old self wouldn’t approve.