Friday, April 22, 2016

Jon Dwyer’s Impact on the Students of Saint Martin’s

Jon Dwyer is the current director of Campus Ministry at Saint Martin’s University. But what makes him unique is not his job title, but his personality and his interactions with students. Jon has had an impact on many students at Saint Martin’s, but isn’t often seen in the spotlight. I wanted to show an insight into his personality and hear from other students how Jon has impacted their life.

Jon Dwyer - Saint Martin's staff photo
I had the opportunity to meet Jon Dwyer in my first few days at Saint Martin’s University. Jon Dwyer was an advisor for the Benedictine Scholars and I met him initially through the program. I’ve also worked with him through Campus Ministry and on the Obsculta retreat. I realized just how much Jon gave to the students and how much of an impact he had on their lives and so I wanted to talk with him and other students to learn more about Jon.

When I interviewed Jon, I initially asked him about his work. I had done some research on the position from Saint Martin’s website and Pacific Lutheran University’s, but they weren’t really clear on what exactly the director of Campus Ministry did. Jon said a lot of his responsibilities as director is fluid and that it “grows and adapts, depending on what’s going on.”

The office of Campus Ministry is charged with providing “sacramental and spiritual opportunities” to the student body, regardless of their faith. Jon’s job is greatly tied into the university through the portrayal of the value of Faith, one of the four core themes of Saint Martin’s. He works closely with students in both the student mass, student led liturgies, and through the Benedictine Leaders and Benedictine Scholar’s Program.

When asked what drew him to the job, Jon explained how his entire adult life has been dedicated to ministry. He previously worked for ten years in social justice ministries before getting involved with Catholic secondary education, where he first worked with Campus Ministry. Jon was excited when the opportunity appeared to work in higher education and “leapt at it,” looking forward to being able to work with students as they transition into their adult life through university. Upon his arrival at Saint Martin’s, he told me he felt an “immediate sense of comfort and opportunities to meet students and be with students, regardless of their religious faith.”

Jon explained to me how his “whole life and his understanding of himself and the work … is completely driven by [his] faith.” He feels motivated and informed by what he feels called by God to do – and when asked how his faith plays a role in his interactions with students, it was clear that Jon’s disposition is that of an educator. The kind who not only helps you learn, but pushes you forward to carry the torch yourself. Jon explained how his experience as a parent has given him a lot of insight to the “developmental process of students and an appreciation of the richness and complexity of their lives.” Jon told me he feels a sense of awe given the “privilege of being able to interact with the students that God has put in [his] life.”
Obsculta 4 group photo
And that privilege feels shared among the students who interact with Jon Dwyer. There are significant ways in which Jon has impacted lives at Saint Martin’s, one of which is through the Obsculta retreat. Jon said that Obsculta “grows out of a retreat that came from Spain in the 1960s and was adapted to high school and university Campus Ministry programs.” Jon’s most specific experience with retreats was the 4-day Jesuit Kairos retreat. When Jon arrived at Saint Martin’s, he was very interested in adapting that retreat to fit the university.

He wanted to be able to have “a significant retreat experience that would bring the students, and faculty and staff into an opportunity to build community and to have a spiritual experience, that’s not necessarily defined by the Catholic faith, but broader than that … it needed to be specifically and consciously Benedictine.”
From that, the idea of Obsculta came to fruition. Jon described how being open and listening to ourselves, each other, and God, as we understand God is an important part of how Benedictine spirituality works.

One of the students I spoke with, Amy Pollard, a senior at Saint Martin’s University, spoke about how her Obsculta experience had a huge impact on her. “Obsculta was a really meaningful interaction with [Jon Dwyer].” Amy had been on the Obsculta retreat as a junior and was a student leader this past year. Amy mentioned how “I got to work with him and see him in a totally different light than what I was used to.”

Jon’s trust in students shines through all the little interactions he has with them, too. He said, “my absolute favorite part of my job is the retreat program, and this year we began a program for freshmen students called the Vigil’s Retreat. And so, the opportunity to work with students in this capacity is my favorite thing.” Beyond that, Jon described working and interacting with students as the most important thing to him. It shows when you talk to him, he is speaking from his heart and focusing his whole attention on you.

Cohort 2 of Benedictine Scholars at Mt. Angel, Oregon
I asked Jon what the most important thing was about his job and he said, “working with the students is the most important thing to me. It’s the part of my job that gives me life and it’s why I get out of bed in the morning.” He described his work with the Benedictine Scholar’s as a unique experience, being with a group of students as “they enter into the school until they leave, so that’s a real privilege,” Jon told me. He smiled and nodded his head when he finished talking about how he enjoys interacting and working with students, adding, “those are the areas where my heart soars.”

Dean Decker, a senior at Saint Martin’s University, recounted some of his interactions with Jon, mentioning how “he makes everything feel genuine in a carefree and loving way, and is probably one of the best examples of the values of Saint Benedict that has come through Saint Martin’s.”

Dean talked highly of Jon, stating that it seemed everything he did was with intention and the moments he shared with students weren’t downplayed or typical, but genuine and real. Dean described for me one of his most memorable interactions with Jon, talking about his experience at Father Alfred’s funeral, a member of the monastic community who passed away.

“I had never been to a Catholic funeral before … they do things a little bit differently, they hold a big mass,”Dean told me, “there was standing room only. I didn’t hardly know anybody there … Jon and I kind of stood in the back, and he explained to me why they were doing certain things at the funeral."

It was clear that having a friend by his side made Dean feel more comfortable being at a funeral of someone he had been close with. Dean continued saying as the funeral ended, he wasn’t sure why it was taking everyone so long to exit the church.

"Being the last people out of the church, I realized, with Jon, that there was an open casket, and people were saying their last goodbyes. That was the first time I saw a dead body, and Jon doesn’t necessarily know it, but I don’t know that I would have been able to exit that place as calmly as I did without having somebody like Jon by my side."

In moments where Jon Dwyer might not even have to say words, the relationships he has built with students is powerful for them – in ways as Dean described in his story, and even in small everyday interactions. Dean mentioned during our interview, “I know that Jon has impacted and influenced a lot of lives on campus. Especially mine. Jon, to me, has become like a second dad. I feel like I can go to him for any sort of reason.”

An aspect about Jon Dwyer’s character that makes him unique is the way he greets people. He doesn’t give the typical ‘hello’ or ‘how’s it going,’ but instead asks ‘are you ok?’ It’s something the students certainly noticed.

Sarah Moore, a senior at Saint Martin’s University mentioned “When he asks you that, it makes you stop and think, like, am I ok? What is good? What is bad? What is important?” As you pass by Jon, he greets you, first with your name and then asking you that question, “are you ok?”

Dean told me, “the first few times, I think it kind of took me aback. Like, what do you mean am I ok? Yes? I guess? What kind of question is that? Who asks that? Jon Dwyer asks that.”

I asked Jon about why he greets people that way and he laughed before responding to my question, saying, “I don’t know if I have an answer for that and I don’t even know how it happened. I only gradually became aware that that’s how I greet people.” It was brought to his attention over 10 years ago, he told me, and people would ask him why he did that, to which Jon said “it becomes a personality trait and so it just kind of sticks with me.”

Amy Pollard mentioned how, for her, it is a nice greeting, that “instead of just being like a broken record, like he actually cares about how I’m doing and what’s going on in my life.” Amy admitted that “sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, I’m not ready to just drop everything and share every little detail about the day … but it’s so nice knowing that he’s there to support me.”

Jon spoke further on his own interpretation of why he greets people asking if they are ok.
“It’s funny, I think in some way my assumption is that everybody is always carrying around a lot with them, and so the assumption ‘are you ok, are you doing ok,’ it’s not because I think that your life is falling apart, I have no idea what’s going on with your life, I’m just assuming that you’re carrying something around … so I don’t know, it’s just a quirk.” 
It may be a small thing for him to do, but to the students it does have significance, it reassures them he cares. Sarah said, “it makes you feel kind of special, because it’s not just the ‘hey how are you,’ ‘good,’ ‘good,’ ‘ok see you later.’ It’s not a yes or no question, it’s an open ended one.” Whether through the retreat work with Campus Ministry, working with students, or e
ven day to day interactions as simple as a greeting – it’s clear Jon Dwyer has impacted the lives of students on Saint Martin’s campus as the director of Campus Ministry. He brings his personality outside of the office and into student’s lives, finding ways to ensure they are getting through the struggles of transitioning through college.

When asked if he is “ok” by Jon, Dean says,
“If you’re ok and you’re in a good place and you’re happy, then that’s all you can ask for. And that was, and is always Jon’s first concern, if we’re ok.”


Written by Josiah Dailey

Photos retrieved from:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Michael Massing's Articles on Digital Journalism

Questions for class...


Outline the various types of digital media discussed by Massing and summarize his evaluation and critique point by point. 

He talks about how digital technology is disrupting journalism and that “little attempt has been made to evaluate the quality of web-based journalism.” He looks at various websites that post journalistic content.

Starting at the Huffington Post he critiques how it takes itself as a journalistic website, and has posted in depth journalism content in the past but those stories get washed away among the gossip and other posts that the website does. He said that even well known print reporters who were hired for Huffington Post eventually left and said that they didn’t seem to have a system that was driven by original reporting, and that it was fueled by quick and click hungry posts.

He then talks about Andrew Sullivan and The Dish, and how Sullivan decided to not use ads because they incentivized clicks as opposed to quality content, and instead he charged a subscription fee. However, it became too much and he ended up quitting. Massing cites that many once bloggers now tweet their thoughts instead.

The Drudge Report was one of the highly influential examples of digital writing, but still looks and acts just about the same as it did when first put up, Massing states. He goes on to talk about Politico, which has become more like the Washington Post and has a large staff of investigative writers.


What shortcomings of the next generation of digital journalism does Massing discuss? What specific concerns does he raise about the state of journalism today?

Some of the biggest shortcomings that Massing covers is the incentive of clicks, being that the more ads on a page that are shown to more people, the more money a website will make. Therefore, it becomes less about the quality of the content and more about the quantity. The more that is there for people to possibly click on, the more money to be made.

As well, he talks about impact and that traditional news has the edge. It’s difficult to find web produced stories that have a big impact like written reports or other news stories. Print just holds a lot more power in regards to widespread impact. And that could be the dilution of so many digital journalism websites that produce so much of the same, it becomes less appealing over time.

Massing also talks about the issue of citizen journalism and how vital it has been for places in war and overseas, to be able to report on and share issues about what events are happening, where is dangerous or safe. However, it also can lead to promoting incorrect facts or languishing stories, such as the Kony 2012 story, Massing states. As well, the misinformation that permeated from citizen journalists during the Boston marathon bombing also shows the risks of citizen journalism.


Select two or three quotes that offer a perspective on digital journalism, which are especially compelling to you. Explain why you find each of those quotes important and what they tell us about digital journalism.

“Reporting, it turns out, is expensive and time-consuming and not something readily performed between shopping and the laundry.”

This quote reminds us that reporting isn’t something that can just casually happen. Investigative reporting takes time, commitment, and investment in a story – to follow it through from the initial lead into or as close to a resolution as possible. Prior to digital journalism, this was much easier to be the main focus: following the story. However, with the Internet and the high speed desire for information and demand of it, journalism has become much more consumerism in nature. Stories are written for brevity, skim-ability, and click-ability – that is to say, get more views in order to actually earn money. Whereas traditional news outlets paid the reports, when working with online websites, stories become a dime-a-dozen and it appears as if reporting, true investigative reporting, is something that’s as simple as creating a “listicle” about the top 10 ways to get more views on your website.

“What does seem undeniable is the effect that audience fragmentation has had on the ability of journalists to have an impact. With so many sites and outlets competing for attention, it becomes harder for stories to find a foothold.”

Relating to the quote above, as well, this quote shows how digital journalism has fragmented the audience of these news stories. Now it isn’t about having a big revealing investigative piece because as soon as a story breaks, every other site possible will be putting up whatever information (fact checked or not in some cases) they have available to try and be the first ones to report it. This competition is driven not for the quality and investigative nature of the story, but instead on the pure attention of the website and, in turn, the revenue generated from all those clicks. Now, the Internet is awash with so many stories and pieces on the same subject that you can find the same news piece on multiple different websites. This dilution of news then causes it to have less of an impact and makes it harder for truly investigative journalism to take root somewhere and deliver the story in the way it needs to be.


Do you agree/disagree with Massing about the state of digital journalism? Give your own examples and explain your reasoning.

I agree with what Massing states about digital journalism. It has definitely diluted the pool of journalism and at the same time created its own circle of page view hungry articles, rife with click bait titles. Is there still true investigative reporting happening out there? Yes, I am sure of it, as well, however, amidst everything else that is going on and all the other gossip, lists, and pop culture pieces, it’s hard to tell anymore what is or what isn’t reporting. A lot of it is a rumor-filled as it can, because when things are a rumor, that’s the perfect time to get more clicks to your article. It seems a shame that journalism is becoming washed out by so much other content. And it’s not to say that other content shouldn’t exist, but because of the competitive nature of the internet and the vying for attention and revenue that takes place, it seems to be causing even reputable news sites to stoop to the level of click bait and rumor-mongering.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Multimedia in Serial Podcast

Questions for class...

What are the posts about?
For season 2, episode 5, there were three extra multimedia posts, one that was the artwork, another that was a video, and the third was an audio extra. The video was the father of Bowe Bergdahl's father talking to the Pakistani Military, who captured his son.

Who posts here?
I don't know specifically who posts there, it doesn't say, but I'm assuming that it would be the creators of serial adding supplemental content.
How do they add the audio podcast?
They don't directly add to the audio, but provide supplemental material. The extra audio was just a bit more of audio interview that they didn't seem to fit into the episode. The video was something that was an insight into the situation that was happening with Bowe's family, specifically his father addressing the Pakistani Military. The art is just what shows up in the background.
What materials are found here?
Video, extra audio and art.

What types of related media are included?
A video, an audio recording interview, and animated artwork.
What information do they add to the podcast?
The supplement the story, by providing the video which shows insight into Bergdahl's family, specifically his father and how he and the family have been dealing with the crisis of his sons capture.
What are the sources?
A YouTube Video from Robert Bergdahl's YouTube channel, an audio file uploaded, presumably by the creators of Serial, and art provided by Serial.
What types of material can be found through the sources?
As stated above, the video and audio information that supplements the main podcast.

What do others say about Serial's approach to journalism?
Some websites that claim there is questionable journalistic practices (such as all seem to reference season 1, talking about how the problems could arise that they were still researching and investigating the story, yet broadcasting parts of the story before. It'll greatly change how people react in future interviews (Jessica Goldstein talks about this in Part Two).
In relations to season 2, there was a summary by Kenna Griffin, describing the two sides of Serial and the journalism practices:
"Proponents of Serial say it’s proof that good journalism can still captivate online audiences, even for long stretches of time. Opponents say Koenig editorialized too much, was overly involved in the story and used journalistic tools to disrupt people’s lives for entertainment."
She even stated herself that, while she was in favor of the approach Serial takes, "There were times when I was listening to Serial that I was surprised Koenig was inserting so much of her own opinion." And although she feels that the journalism was separate from opinion, it seems that it isn't something everyone would be able to discern. Where is the line between entertainment and journalism in a multimedia form? That seems to be the area of great discussion revolving around Serial. It appears that in season 2, the personal insertion into the story has been lessened. According to Neil Verma, "We hear little about her own thinking, opinions, epistemological struggles ... In the Season 1 launch [Koenig] uses the object pronoun form “me” 14 times to refer to herself. In the launch of Season 2 she only uses it four times." This shows that Serial is pushing new grounds, and while there is criticism, the podcast isn't blind to it. As Koenig learns and grows in the multimedia journalistic venue, the message, too, adapts and becomes more journalistic in nature, responding to the criticism and comment, but still maintaining the integrity of the show.

For mine, I think avoiding assertion of my own opinion without having it directly tie into a statement is important. As well, it makes me want to try a narrative podcast, but use my narration not to create the story but to weave interviews together. I don't want to say what my own thought is on the matter, but instead want to use my narration to connect comments others have on things and tie them together to create a more cohesive story as opposed to in written form, it shows up as a lot of quotes and it becomes a bit difficult to follow the flow of the story.