Category Archives: BU ComGrad

Zuckoff talks about the challenges he faced while writing NYT best-seller: 13 Hours

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

This September marks the second anniversary of the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya. Boston University’s School of Communication (COM) had the privilege of commemorating this courageous act with the release of COM Journalism Professor, Mitchell Zuckoff’s, new book 13 Hours.

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With only nine months to write about what really happened to the six American security operators who stopped a mass killing of other Americans stationed in Benghazi, Zuckoff had his reservations. The telling of this controversial, behind the scenes story was seen by some as a threat to Zuckoff’s career; for at one point, he was told the publication could end his career. The media had already tainted the public’s mind about the attacks in Benghazi as one thing, tainting the publics mind before knowing the truth.

“If I took on the story,” said Zuckoff, “I had to become an expert on something that I knew nothing about in a short time.” Like most journalists, Zuckoff struggled with his feelings on the subject and how the public would react to what the security operators had to say about what truly happened. Zuckoff said his only obligation was to the truth, and quickly gained the respect and trust of the American soldiers to write his book.

Zuckoff chose to write the story in “tick tock” style, a version of a chronology where the author recreates the events in a step-by-step manner. A “tick tock” approach adds an element of quickness and makes the reader feel as if they are part of the action, as if there was a running clock. Zuckoff starts his book with narrations of the Americans giving background information and context as to whom they are. The reader is able to connect with the soldiers through the first three chapters before jumping into action in the fourth chapter. At this point in the story, the time is 9:42 p.m. on September 11, 2012, which marks the start all the action.

13 Hours follows six soliders; one of which passes away later that night. Out of the remaining five soldiers, three decided to come out to the public and tell their stories using their real names, while two chose to remain anonymous, yet another challenge that Zuckoff faced when writing this book. Although their names are changed, Zuckoff made sure that everything written about them in his book was 100% real and accurate.

13 Hours not only tells the truth about Benghazi, but it also reiterates the life lesson we hear over and over again: don’t judge a book by its cover. It has taken two years since the attacks for the truth to come out, but Zuckoff has proven that with a little bit of patience and research the truth will surface. “In our 24 hours news cycle where each tweet has to break news it’s good to have patience,” says Zuckoff.

Zuckoff’s book, 13 Hours, which is also a #1 New York Times non-fiction bestseller, is sold at book stores nationwide, including BU’s Barnes and Noble, as well as on Amazon.

WANT TO WIN A COPY OF 13 HOURS?

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For the next 13 hours, we are giving you a chance to win a copy of Professor Zuckoff’s book. We’ll pick the top tweets we get starting Tuesday, September 30th. 

How to participate:

Step 1: Follow us @BUcomgrad

Step 2: What happens in 13 hours as a #COMgrad student? Give us an inside look at your day using #COMgrad and we will pick the top tweets on Wednesday.

 

 

Boston bucket list for grad students

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

It’s no secret that grad school is a pricey venture.  But here’s the thing about going to grad school in Boston: you’re in Boston.  And this sports-crazed, historical goldmine is full of numerous adventures that aren’t as expensive as you may think.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a car (or rather, unfortunate enough to have to worry about parking in the city), apple picking is a must-try.  I have to admit, apple picking was foreign to me when I was back home on the West Coast.  But after venturing out to Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro, Mass. (50 minute drive), I felt fully prepared for New England fall.  Pumpkins, flowers and over 20 kinds of apples are just some of the treats you can grab at Parlee, not to mention homemade pumpkin butter and fresh apple cider donuts that are to die for.  Oh, and did I mention there’s no entrance fee? Just don’t forget cash to buy yourself some delicious treats.

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However, if you don’t feel like sticking around and exploring the city we live before venturing out into the suburbs, hop on a Hubway bike and see Boston on your own terms. Unlike pricey guided tours, Hubway allows you to rent a bicycle from over 100 stations sprinkled throughout the city.  Any ride under 30 minutes is free, and a 24-hour pass is only $6.  Worried about Boston’s infamously scary drivers?  Stick to the Charles River Reservation Bike loop to avoid the honking and see the river.  And be sure to take advantage of the Hubway bikes soon, before Mother Nature gives Boston the cold shoulder.

Maybe you need a break from studying, and biking just isn’t your thing.  No worries. Just head to Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain (from BU: 20 minutes by car or 50 by train) to taste their OctoberFest.  The brewery holds free tours year-round.  For another beer option, check out the Harpoon Brewery (from BU: 15 minutes by car or 55 by train) where you can get a $5 beer tasting.

Aside from all these wonderful options, there is one place you simply must visit while living in Boston: the one and only Fenway Park.  Even if you aren’t able to catch a game, tours are offered daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Student tickets are just $12, and since Fenway is practically on BU’s campus (at just a 5 minute walk from the bookstore), there is really no excuse not to.

Need more ideas? Check out this article for more inexpensive ways to explore Boston: http://www.boston.com/travel/things-around-boston-for-under/k7CCC0L1GXcfsnPvVDvMiM/gallery.html

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A lot going on at this year’s Sustainability Festival at BU

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

“I’m just a fancy trash man”, says Adam Mitchell of Save That Stuff, a sustainable waste and recycling service based in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Taken at face value, this might seem an eccentric statement, but at BU’s Sustainability Festival, Mitchell was in good company.

Adam Mitchell, Major Account Representative & Partner of Save That Stuff, delves into the composting process at last Thursday's BU Sustainability Festival.

Adam Mitchell, Major Account Representative & Partner of Save That Stuff, delves into the composting process at last Thursday’s BU Sustainability Festival.

The event, which took place last Thursday, was presented by Sustainability@BU in conjunction with BU’s Bike Safety and Dining Services organizations.  Located at Marsh Plaza, the area was filled with tables, tented booths, students and staff. A generally placid walk past Marsh Chapel was thoroughly reinvented into a vibrant and lively festival, zeroed in on promoting university sustainability. Even our boys in blue, the Boston Police Department, were compelled to make an appearance.

There was something for everyone at the Festival, from bike tune-up’s to local meal kits, oyster shell recycling to fresh farm berries. But let’s just pretend for a minute you needed a bit more of an incentive to attend such an event. Not a problem – the promise of chicken fingers at the Raisin’ Cane’s booth, the thrill of the spin at the bike-inspired prize wheel, or seeing a fleet of Boston PD officers with bikes in tow had you covered. I’m also a sucker for a free water bottle, which were handed out in abundance from Sustainability@BU.

Surprisingly, the largest line of all seemed to be concentrated at the LED challenge station in the middle of the event. In exchange for an incandescent or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulb, you received a free LED bulb in replacement. This is part of a series of ongoing “Join the Challenge” initiatives put on by Sustainability@BU in partnership with an organization called Carbonrally. Each month a different sustainability challenge is highlighted, and Carbonrally provides the platform to keep track of your challenges and progress.

Bike and pedestrian safety was a major component of the event, as was the farmers market and representation of 18 clubs comprising the BU Environmental Coalition. Members of groups such as BU Beekeeping, BU Energy Club and the BU Vegetarian Society were all present. In a discussion with a member of the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, I learned about BU’s balanced “Sargent Choice” meals, the option to take a one-credit nutrition class, as well as cooking classes and one hour of free counseling available at the Center.

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I also spoke with MassBike, a coalition advocating “Better Bicycling for Massachusetts,” partnering with numerous stakeholders to educate schools and other groups about biking safety. My favorite part of the event came in at the food (shocker). The farmers market boasted an abundance of different offerings and produce, the most impressive of which I found to be Ward’s Berry Farm out of Sharon. Apples, carrots, squash, cauliflower, raspberries and cherry tomatoes all on display in the middle of an urban campus reminded me we’re not all that far from locally sourced food.

The event had a solid turnout, and I learned a few things about sustainability as well as the countless related organizations BU offers. I’m pleased the farmers market will continue to run throughout September and October as well, on Thursdays at the GSU Plaza from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To find out more about Sustainability@BU, follow them on Facebook at: BUsustainability, or on Twitter: @sustainableBU.

BU COM celebrates its 100th Anniversary with COM Talks

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

It’s been a great past week for Boston University’s College of Communication (COM). With the celebration of the program’s 100th anniversary, COM hosted a number events that honored its alumni, students, staff and faculty. This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend COM Talks, an event not too different from the ever so influential TED Talks, which have been making such a huge difference in people’s lives. These talks reach millions nationwide, informing them of ideas worth sharing, ranging from “Why a good book is a secret door,” to the controversies of gender violence. At BU, we’ve developed our own, unique style of a Talk event but with the same idea in mind: connecting and communicating the ideas worth sharing.

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At the event, COM featured a superstar panel of experts in their respective fields of mass communication and journalism. Each speaker shared their personal experiences, what their roles in this industry mean to them and how every story we report leaves a mark everywhere and affects the way society functions. Each speaker reminded us of what roles we take on as both the reader and the reporter.  As each speaker shared his/her message, one message remained consistent: Storytelling is the heart of what COM does and it gives every individual an opportunity to connect with audiences. This event brought the best alumni and faculty to demonstrate the craft of true storytelling.

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This is a candid photo that my friend and fellow blogger Keiko Talley took while I was waiting in line to meet the Senior Vice President of HBO, Jay Roewe, a BU alumnus and producer of many major hit shows such as “The Newsroom” and the show that’s taken the entire world by force, “Game of Thrones”. Needless to say, I was absolutely stoked. Not to mention, absolutely star struck. I don’t usually get too fangirly but, GAME OF THRONES?! Come ON!

He was just one of the few amazing people we got to meet and listen at COM Talks. It was definitely a panel of rock stars in the industry; from New York Times best-selling authors, to legal prosecutors, to those who worked for Good Morning America and my very own Media Law professor Dick Lehr, whose investigative reporting on the case of Whitey Bulger for the Boston Globe got turned into a Hollywood movie starring Johnny Depp, Sienna Miller, and Benedict Cumberbatch. This group of superb individuals that came to speak at the event were so impressive, and they all reiterated the same message reminding us why we chose journalism, and what we can do to utilize it as an important facet of society.

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At the end of the event, we were given a small card that forced us to go up to any of these speakers and ask them the questions printed on the card. I had to go up to an alumni and ask what their favorite course was at COM. That part was easy…I was already given something to ask. However, being forced to jump out of my comfort zone and overcome my shyness to reach out to these amazing people was another story. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of being in their presence, but I mustered up all the courage possible and did it. In turn, I had the privilege of meeting with our first COM Talk speaker Travis Roy (COM ’00), author of “Eleven Seconds” and former hockey player for the BU Terriers.

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Besides speaking with Mr. Jay Roewe, meeting with Travis Roy was definitely a personal highlight of the event.  His speech stood out to me for so many reasons. He came to BU in the fall of 1995 with a hockey scholarship, but a few weeks later on October 20th,  his life changed forever. Roy suffered an injury that left him a quadriplegic. On Saturday, Roy said it was at that challenging time in his life when he realized that as often as we may choose our challenges, other times, the challenges choose us. It isn’t about how much gets taken away from us, but rather, how we choose to respond and find what drives us forward, despite our obstacles. The core of Roy’s personal story was definitely emotional; as much as he kept pointing out the simplicity of his message, it was definitely the most profound.

IMG_2475What COM Talks helped me realize that every day we are here, we get more and more inspired and motivated. Whether we find the inspiration in our classes, the lectures or even the events that are put together for students, they all push us forward. Not only are there a lot of impressive individuals at COM worth getting to know, but there is also such a large pool of successful alumni always willing to help current students out. The event reminded me why I’m here, and the endless opportunities that await all of us even long after we leave.

Most of the speakers are all alumni who, at one point in their lives, were in our very shoes, trying to get the word out and deciding on their career paths. They were students just like us, hoping to make a mark on the industry someday. At the end of the day, as COM Talks reminded us, it’s about serving the public’s needs, discussing the truth, and making a difference.

 

Winners of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award offer advice for success

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

If you walked around BU’s campus this past week, you probably noticed the numerous events being hosted for BU Alumni, faculty, staff and students. BU was smart in planning these events at a time when new grads were settling in and most likely thinking about where their degree might take them. These events were designed to provide networking opportunities, teach and inspire; after attending COM’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, I can personally say, BU’s mission was accomplished.

2014 Distinguished Alumni from L-R: Cleveland O’Neal III (COM ’78), Cynthia Cordes (COM ’01), Will Lautzenheiser (CAS ’96, COM ’07) and Bill Simmons (COM ’93). Photo, Katherine Taylor. — with Cleveland O’Neal, Cynthia Phillips Cordes, William Lautzenheiser and Bill Simmons at Boston University College of Communication (BU COM).

At the event, celebrated on Thursday at the School of Management, COM students and faculty were actively interacting with the alumni over tasty hors d’oeuvres and drinks. This year, COM honoured four of its alumni- – Cleveland O’Neal III, Cynthia Cordes, Bill Simmons and Will Lautzenheiser. Each of them had accomplished something from which we learned.

Cleveland O’Neal (COM ‘78), the first African American to produce a show on CBS, started out as an actor. While working on the CBS series, he built his own Emmy-nominated entertainment company, Connection III, from ground up. “Work hard” was his advice to students.
One step at a time.

Cynthia Cordes (COM ‘01) went from studying Journalism at COM to studying Law at Notre Dame. This year she featured on a national list of Top 250 Women in Litigation selected by Benchmark Litigation. She began her career with the U.S Department of of Justice where she led a task force on human trafficking. Now a partner at Husch Blackwell, she continues her anti-human trafficking efforts through the company’s Human Trafficking Legal Clinic, the first of its kind in the United States.
Be passionate about your work.

Bill Simmons (COM ‘97) is a name most American sports fans identify. He graduated with a degree in print journalism from COM but foresaw the potential of the internet even when his dad tried persuading him to stick to traditional print media. His blog The Sports Guy caught the attention of ESPN who hired him in 2001. Since then, he’s gone on to become the editor-in-chief of Grantland.com.
Trust your instincts.

Will Lautzenheiser (COM ‘07) was a student like one of us; he was fascinated by the Charles River and wanted to make a film about it. However, three years ago he lost his arms and legs to a deadly bacteria. At the event on Thursday, we watched his short documentary, Stumped, in which he featured and wrote. It tells the story of how he got used to his prosthetic legs and how he is now a stand-up, or sit-down comedian as he calls himself.
Life will give you lemons.

This BU alumni event was indeed a great way to begin the semester. It reminded us that hard work is the only way to success, and that we must make the most of networking opportunities.
Stay focused. Stay Inspired.