All posts by imerd13

How to Buy a Domain Name For a Website

Now that we have explained the importance of having a domain name in our previous article on Why Should Buy a Domain Name, it is time to learn how to buy a domain name for a website. You will find, in your search, that there are hundreds of platforms where you can purchase a domain name, but lets see what exact steps you need to consider when doing so, and what registers offer the most bang for the buck.

So before we get into the steps on how to buy a domain name for a website, let us give you a quick refresher on some of the key reasons for having one!

      1. Control over your information:

      Having a domain name puts you in charge of what personal information is shared online. No matter what other details are out there, when you have a domain name, your website always shows first in the search engine.

       2. Brand and Credibility:

      Having a domain name gives you an outlet upon which to build your brand and credibility, which is essential in the business world.

      3. Professionalism:

     From a new e-mail address to the place where you can neatly organize and keep all of your data, having a domain name puts your professionalism on another level.

      4. Money making:

    Advertising revenue, product sale and affiliate marketing, among others, help you monetize your blog/website, so buying a domain name is the first step in actually making money blogging.

      5. Cost efficiency:

     As we are about to discover, buying a domain name is very cost-effective and low-risk, so why not give it a try?

When it comes to buying a domain name, our favorite places, or the so-called registers, are  uniregistry.com, hostgator.com and namecheap.com. All three websites offer excellent service and customer support, but before you make your way there, here is how to buy a domain name for a website.

According to Christophere Heng, a blogger from The Site Wizard, buying a domain name requires registering the preferred name of your domain with The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Lets say you want to register your domain as “vortex.com.” Your next step is to go to a register like https://uniregistry.com, hostgator.com and namecheap.com, pick your name and pay a registration fee.  

Note, however, that domain names are under a high demand, so the name that you wish to purchase may not be available. This is why it is important to not procrastinate on buying one— there are thousands of people who purchase a domain name every minute and it is your job to act fast and get the best one you can get.

Christopher Heng provides here a personal insight on how to buy a domain name for a website.

“My personal preference is to register the name directly with a domain name registrar rather than through my web host. I’ve heard stories, in the past, of less-than-reputable web hosts that registered the domain under their own name, making them the owner of the domain rather than you (although I don’t know if such web hosts still exist today). Registering direct with a domain name registrar allows me to make sure that I am registered as the owner, the administrative and technical contacts. Being the owner is vital — if someone else places himself as the owner (such as your web host), he can always decide to charge you some exorbitant fee for the use of the name later, and there is little you can do. The various other contacts are less vital, but may still play important roles, depending on your registrar. For example, for some registrars, the administrative contact’s approval is required before a domain name is transferred out of a web host (or at least, it used to be). If he/she cannot be contacted, the technical contact is used.”

So follow these steps as you  buy a domain name for a website:

  1. Come up with an interesting, relevant domain name. If you are an individual starting a blog, you might want to go with a version of your name. If you are buying a domain for an organization, you should make the name of the organization clear in your domain.
  2. Heng strongly advices on making sure to obtain from your previous host (if you have one) the names of their primary and secondary name servers. This is used to guide your domain name to your website once you buy the domain.
  3. In terms of having your domain pointed to your website, Heng says here, “If you do not have a web host, you can always allow the registrar to park your domain name at a temporary website specially set up for you. This way you can quickly secure your domain name before it’s too late and still take your time to set up the other aspects of your site. As far as I can tell, most registrars (or probably all) automatically park your domain by default whether you ask them to or not, so if this is your situation, you probably don’t have to do anything special to get it done.”
  4. Finally, go to   https://uniregistry.com, hostgator.com or namecheap.com and purchase your desired domain name.

And voila! You have just learned how to buy a domain name and are all set for your next adventure! With a new domain name, you now have the opportunity to create a stellar platform upon which to build your own business. Remember, nothing comes over night, so it will definitely take some time before you can brag about the success of your blog to your peers. Treat blogging like a job and show dedication. Only then will you attract traffic to your website and eventually find means with which to monetize it.

To learn how to monetize a blog, please refer to our post on How To Make Money With Online Blogging- Doing What You Love.

Happy writing!

Referrences:

Heng, Christopher. The Site Wizard, http://www.thesitewizard.com/

Photo, Namerific Blog via https://www.namerific.com/blog/why-a-dot-com-domain-name-is-important-for-any-business/

How to Add an Image to a WordPress Post

Now that you have decided to start writing a blog, it is time to learn how to add an image to a WordPress post. Having images not only makes your blog visually more appealing, but also boosts the number of viewers per post. Think about it, visual tools aid to the overall understanding of a matter and are the easiest way for you to grab a reader’s attention. Whether you are presenting a tutorial, like the one bellow,  or showcasing your products and services,  being able to visually address your key points will make your blog even more engaging.

Original images generally work best in posts where personal experience, products and services are being discussed. However, if you are looking for more generic, royalty- free images, your best go to are stock photo websites. Shutterstock, Bigstock and Adobe Stock are some of the websites where you can find images on  any topic imaginable.

So here is a step-by-step tutorial of how to add an image to a WordPress Post!

Step 1: Decide where in the post you want to add an image, then click on ‘ADD MEDIA’ as shown bellow.

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Step 2: Next, click on ‘upload files’ and select the image you would like to upload from your computer.

You can simply drop it anywhere inside of the window, or manually select the file’s location. Then click ‘insert into post’ in the bottom right corner.

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Step 3: Write the Caption .

Your selected image will appear with a check mark. Write the title and caption of your assigned image, then click ‘insert into post.’

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Step 4: Align the image.

Hover over the image to select the alignment. You have an option between left, right and center alignment.

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This what a left-aligned image looks like:
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And this is what a centered image looks like:

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Step 5: Another option is to insert an image directly from the Web using the ‘INSERT FROM URL’ feature 

Select ‘insert from URL,’ paste the link and proceed with the above steps.

step-8 Paste your link in the boxes provided:step-9

Step 6: Select Featured Image.

This is the background image that will display with your post (think cover photo). Select it using the same method. Note that once inserted into the post, you will not be able to see the image until you click ‘UPDATE’ on the upper right corner of your post.

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Your featured image will have a check mark. Next, click ‘insert into post.’step-11And voila, you’re done! This is what your featured image will display as- right above the title of your post. step-12

 

And that’s it! It’s as simple as that!

Remember that with images, your primary goal is to aid the overall understanding of the topic, so make sure that each image serves a purpose. All images must speak to the reader in some way, so spend some time researching your best fit and deciding where in the text you want your images to be. Short posts generally work best with images embedded between the first two paragraphs. With longer post, should strive to add multiple images to keep your reader engaged all throughout.

Lastly, do not forget to properly caption your images. Every caption should be in the form of [PHOTO TITLE]. Photo Credits, [AUTHOR’S NAME], via [INSERT URL]. Similarly, always include a reference list at the end of each post, with proper image citations. Remember, not doing so is plagiarism and subject to third-party web content removal.

Happy writing!

 

Internship: How to get it & what makes a successful intern

Internships have long been known as great opportunities for university students to put there theoretical knowledge into practice and get a hands-on experience in their field. While, often times, a successful internship may result in a job offer, the point of interning is not just that.

More often than not, internships giv students the opportunity to see whether their desired industry is really suitable for them. Besides, it looks great on the resume and you can always count on your mentors to write a stellar recommendation for your future employers, which obviously eases the process of applying for jobs.

I love writing, I love writing written on a chalkboard with a piece of white chalk
I love writing, I love writing written on a chalkboard with a piece of white chalk

American students, in particular, are encouraged to find an internship as early into their college career as possible. Internships can last anywhere between a few weeks to a full year, but most students do it over the summer. While most internships remain unpaid, it is not rare to see paid internship positions, which can often time replace regular student jobs. While interning, students are treated as regular employees and valued no less than any other staff member. 

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear students complaining that all they had to do in the office was make coffee and copies, but this too is  part of the experience. Having said that, small companies tend to be more dedicated to their interns than larger companies, which sometimes even employ a few hundreds of interns and do not have enough time to take care of every single one of them.

Most interns are allowed to design their own schedule and most internships run three to five days a week, about 30 hours per week. Upon the completion of an internship, a student should gain valuable knowledge in their field and some basic understanding of how the office is run, what is expected from that particular position and what makes a successful employee in the field, among others. Students also get used to working in a professional environment, which eases the transition later on when the student graduates and moves into the “real world.”

As someone who has interned four times for four completely different kind of companies, I can promise you that, yes, it is worth it and, yes, you will learn a lot. Some of my experiences were terrible; others were great, but they all taught me valuable lessons that I will be able to one day apply to my real job.

Here is my ultimate list of things you can do to 1) land an internship and 2) be the best intern they have ever had!

  • Network, network, network! Some of the best internships have happened through networking. Parents, friends, family members, acquaintances…somebody has to have something in store for you. Just ASK!
  • Be persistent! Nothing great has happened over night and finding an internship is no different. You will have to apply a hundred times. You will probably get rejected a hundred times (or maybe not!)  But the 101st shot will surely land you something amazing. Just keep trying.
  • Work on your resume. If you do not know where to start— google it! There are plenty of great templates that you can find online, then just go ahead and fill them up with your information. Remember, resume is the first thing your employer sees, so be sure to crash it.
  • Get great recommendations. Past employer, your favorite professor…anyone who knows you well will be able to write you a good one. Just make sure to build great relationships with people, so you can turn in once the right time comes.
  • Stand out from the crowd! Your cover letter should speak of you as a person, not you as a student. What motivates you? What are you passionate about? What makes you different from  hundreds of other candidates with perfect grades? Do you have a website or a blog? Maybe you have a Youtube channel? Impress them!
  • If you land an interview, make sure to follow up and send your employer a thank you e-mail. Little acts of kindness go a long way.

Now, issuing you have already nailed one, here are some tips on what you can do to leave a great impression (and maybe land a job):

  • Always show up on time. The intern should always be the first one at the office and the last one to leave at the end of the day. This shows your employer how much you care about the job, so do not leave as soon as the clock ticks.
  • Dress for success! Always be clean and presentable. Being a little too dressed up is much better than being dressed down.
  • Treat everyone with respect. Your coworkers remember you and will probably have a chat with your boss about you, so be nice to everyone.
  • Ask questions! This is your time to learn so make sure you ask questions. Use common sense though and do not go overboard with this or you will seriously piss everyone off.
  • Understand that making coffee is too part of the experience and if you are at any point given this task, do it with a smile on your face. It counts.
  • It is okay to make mistakes— learn from them. Your boss will appreciate you learning from whatever went wrong in the past and then improving in the future but will probably not tolerate you making the same mistake twice.
  • Be a great team player. Remember, this is not about your own success but about the success of the company, so team up and work together, not against anyone (not even other interns).
  • Do not talk badly about anyone to your coworkers. Word spreads— be smart.
  • You are the fresh cookie in the company and are somewhat expected to bring fresh, new ideas with you. So do not hesitate to be creative and thikg out of the box— a little creativity will sure impress everyone.
  • If you are sick, call in sick. Do not just ignore your work, even if al you do is make coffee.
  • At the end of your internship, thank your boss and your coworkers for the experience. You never know when/ you might need them again.

Good luck!

A Schnitzel That Gave Me Ten New Best Friends

By Imman Merdanovic

I grew up in a beautiful city in Bosnia, yet wanderlust took me far from home at a very young age. I was sixteen when I moved to the Netherlands and faced culture shock for the first time. Two years later, after exploring all of Europe and having the time of my life in Africa and Dubai, I moved to Canton to only discover what a real culture shock was! “Here they dip pizza in ranch, wear baseball hats ALL THE TIME and eat Nutella with bacon,” I told my mom, who pretty-much made the story famous at home. And just when I thought I earned my P.h.d. in culture shock, it hit me once again— this time as I returned back to SLU from an off-campus program in New York City. Luckily, a CIIS Living-Learning Community came to rescue, blessing me with ten new best friends and a safe environment in which telling that good old Broadway story for the fifth time became completely normal.

Imman Merdanovic in NYC, Fall 2016

I remember walking into the class for the first time: ten students, equally as confused, talking about all the food they tasted abroad— schnitzel, waffles, crêpes, scones… words that bonded us immediately! Not only did we live on the same floor and learned about travel-writing in a two-hour class, but we also cooked foods from abroad at our professor’s house, and let me tell you— was it a feast! Living together and sharing those cool experiences with each other truly brought out gang together, so much so that by the end of the semester we attended each other’s games, plays and concerts, and became each other’s biggest fans.

Together, we helped each other get back into our normal campus routine. We overcame the famous ‘pub panic attack,’ which happens after the first time you try to order something from the pub after a long time. Most importantly— we developed mutual understanding and helped each other grow as global citizens. Our passports, American, Canadian and European, now all share inspiring stories of just how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world.Our passports, American, Canadian and European, now all share inspiring stories of just how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world.

Today, I am not only proud of the experiences I have had abroad, but also of the one I have had as part of the SLU ‘FYP for grown-ups,’ as we call it. Today, I proudly declare the Living- Learning Community my greatest experience at SLU. Today, I can safely say that P.h.d. in culture shock is not a thing— travel is about learning, about crossing boundaries and mastering the fear of strangers, about making the effort to understand other cultures and thereby empowering yourself. My CIIS community has empowered me as much as living in New York City, and just as life never stops teaching, I believe I will never stop learning. Perhaps, some of us will never get a chance to return to those wonderful places and continue their journeys, but together we have created a magical community in which tackling those memories has become a second nature.

How St. Lawrence Tackles Reverse Culture Shock

By Imman Merdanovic

With the new ranking as top 15 schools for study-abroad, St. Lawrence faces a new challenge: making sure that those returning back are just as prepared as those taking off. In addition to reverse culture shock, one of the challenges of re-entry is that students run out of venues for telling their abroad stories. After the second time you mention that sunset in Venice, the Red Light District in Amsterdam or the Eiffel Tower, your friends’ eyes start to glaze over. To ease the transition, St. Lawrence has launched an Intercultural Living-Learning Community in Kirk Douglass Hall.

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Brenda Winn spent her semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. “Coming back to SLU was definitely disorienting – I basically had a panic attack the first time I tried to order something in the pub,” said Winn. “The best part about this program, which we call ‘FYP for adults,’ was the community that was instantly formed when we got back to campus. We could talk about being abroad without boring other people or getting funny looks,” added Winn.

Students having dinner at professor Natalia Singer's house
Students having dinner at professor Natalia Singer’s house

Jacqui Ebeling, who studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, is grateful for the new insights that this program offered to her. “I love the little community that formed. We attend each others plays and club meetings, read each others articles, and get lunch together. Who knew that two years in I’d be exposed to so many new things on campus,” said Ebeling.

The students not only had a chance to reflect on their own experiences abroad, but also learned a lot about the places where their peers went. “Although I have never been to Australia, I feel like I have a good grasp of it now because of this class,” said Grace Bodkin, who studied abroad in London, England. Winn, much like the rest of the class agrees, “We shared stories of where we went, train rides, malfunctions, or plans that went awry. We also looked at how our host families and travels helped us change and grow and that meant a lot to me,” added Winn.

Caroline Seelen, who spent a semester in Prague says the program helped her become a global citizen, “I was also able to becomes even more of a global citizen than I had become while abroad because I could learn about the experiences of others,” said Seelen.
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Ebeling sees this class as the perfect opportunity to reflect on the self. “Something that resonated with me the most was an article we read, its take-away message was ‘you’re still youwhile abroad.’ I was expecting some major transformative period. Living in Prague for four months didn’t change me on the outside like I thought it would, but it did change my perspective. And that shouldn’t be taken for granted,” said Ebeling.

Being able to reflect on one’s abroad experience without the fear of judgement is invaluable. “I think the most important thing I learned was the solidarity that we all have after being abroad. No matter how bad or sad or messed up I thought something had been abroad, it turns out almost always, someone in the class had been through the same thing or something just like that,” said Winn.

Seelen shares the contempt, “The most valuable thing I learned was that no matter where you study abroad you will have struggles, but you will also grow as a person and learn about the world around you,” said Seelen.

Perhaps, some of us will never return to those places, but together we have created a community where, through the laughter and tears, tackling those memories has become a second nature.

Nature Up North: Sustainability Through The Use of Technology

By Imman Merdanovic

St. Lawrence University has long been known for promoting sustainability and environmental understanding. One of the newest additions to team sustainability is Nature Up North, a community-based organization that uses technology to encourage and enhance outdoor experiential learning. Through the use of popular social media tools and by organizing a variety activities in the area, Nature Up North seeks to foster connections between the North Country and its residents.

Nature Up North Encounter Photo Challenge. Photo Credits, Jacob Malcomb via natureupnorth.org
Nature Up North Encounter Photo Challenge. Photo Credits, Jacob Malcomb via natureupnorth.org

“I think a lot of people have a real desire to connect with the environment in the place where they live,” said Jacob Malcomb, the project manager. “Nature Up North has hosted a wide variety of public events since its founding in 2013, including guided hikes, canoeing and kayaking, introductory fishing, natural tie-dye, orienteering, and wild edible/medicinal plants,” added Malcomb. Nature Up North has so far built its brand on one premise— its online presence and the website that fosters citizen science in the North Country.

Nature Up North 7K Run. Photo Credits, Justin Dalaba
Nature Up North 7K Run. Photo Credits, Justin Dalaba

“One goal of Nature Up North is to make our website a virtual nature center for the North Country where users can share nature photos, download trail maps, participate in citizen science projects, learn about local species, and find local outdoor events,” said Malcomb.

Erika Barthelmess, founder of Nature Up North and Biology professor, believes their biggest asset is citizen science. “Doing something like an encounter has a broader purpose than just connecting people to nature and that is a citizen science initiative that helps us document the world that we live in,” said Barthelmess.

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However, using technology to foster environmental understanding is not particularly easy in the North Country, as Malcomb discovered. “People are busy, and there are lots of ways to get outside and engage with nature that don’t involve Nature Up North. There are an infinite number of media outlets competing for their time and attention. In an online space, it’s hard for Nature Up North to compete with Buzzfeed listicles and cat videos,” said Malcomb.

Besides offering a variety of resources for North Country residents, Nature Up North also attracts St. Lawrence students who seek to deep their environmental understanding. “We’re a small organization, so a student who is passionate about environmental communication, outdoor leadership, or digital media production can make a real impact and gain valuable experience learning what it’s like to work for a small environmental nonprofit,” said Malcomb.

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Anna Hughes, a junior Environmental Studies major interned with Nature Up North this fall. “This internship connected me to the North Country because it forced me to step out of my very small SLU bubble, and actually look at and interact with the community around me more,” said Hughes. “Through talking with these people and hearing their stories, I felt more connected to the North Country and this tight-knit community than ever before,” added Hughes.

Justin Dalaba, senior Conservation Biology major interned with Nature Up North twice. “Spending more time up here throughout the past two semesters, I’ve had the opportunity to explore new places that I did not know existed and meet a lot of  new people with interesting that I would not have heard otherwise,” said Dalaba.

It is important for us students to truly get to know the place that we all call home for four years. Only by breaking out of our SLU bubble and by engaging in conversations about environment with the North County residents, will we really promote sustainability.

SLU Musical: The Decameron Blues

By Imman Merdanovic

While theatre productions have been rather popular among diverse audiences on campus, it has been a while since St. Lawrence University hosted a musical. After a long time, sixteen aspiring actors and signers  are getting ready to present Hokum Poke ‘em Cabaret, or The Decameron Blues, adapted for the stage by Kirk W. Fuoss from a variety of blues songs and selected tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron.

 

Actors in the scene"The Oblivious Go Between." Photo Credits, Lizz Formann
Actors in the scene”The Oblivious Go Between.” Photo Credits, Lizz Formann

“The show introduces audiences to some wonderfully comedic stories that are decidedly bawdy and some great songs from a relatively obscure genre of the blues known as “hokum,”  said Kirk Fuoss, the director. “One of the hallmark of songs belonging to this genre is the use of metaphors and euphemisms to explore sexual content,” added Fuoss.

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Despite the sexual references, “the show essentially talks about culture, gender and society through humor,” said performer Christopher Lule.

While the cast believes that the music part is what makes the show, Randy Hill, the technical director, knows that incorporating music into the show was probably the hardest part. “The biggest challenge for the director was making a script and using songs for which there was no sheet music,” explained Hill.

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But music is not the only unusual part of the show. All of the props and costumes used in the production are stored in trunks onstage. “There is no backstage to this show.  And like the props and costumes, all sixteen of the show’s performers remain onstage throughout the entire performance,” said Fuoss.

Tess Lagor, a performer, likes the simplicity used in the show. “This show is definitely a simpler, more stripped down kind of show. The costuming and set invite the audience to use their imagination,” said Lagor.

Another very special thing about the show is that the entire music part was directed by the fellow students, Emily Goulet and Taylor Sudolak. “My favorite part is the one-on-one music rehearsals and seeing how much progress we’ve made,” said Emily Goulet. “It has been fantastic to work with talented singers and experiment with the blues genre,” added Goulet, who is also the accompanist in the show.

Those involved that the show is one of a kind, with something for everyone.“One of the things I most like about this production is its variety and its pacing,” said Fuoss. “It features 9 stories, 10 songs.  Most of the songs are about three minutes long.  Most of the stories are blasters, too, that last around six minutes.  If the story or song audience members are seeing right now isn’t to their liking or doesn’t suit the mood their in today, there’s another one just around the corner that probably does,” added Fuoss. 

As for expectations, “The audience can expect a good laugh and great entertainment for the evening.  Everyone has worked incredibly hard on this show, and we’re excited to show our hard work,” said Goulet. Taylor Sukdolak, co-vocal director is particularly excited, “expect to find some sort of enjoyment from a performance you have never seen in your life.”

The show will take place at Edson R. Miles Black Box between April 27-30,  from 8 p.m.-9:45 p.m.

News Travels: Homelessness in New York City

By Imman Merdanovic

Despite being a prominent issue in the United States, homelessness has been largely ignored by media outlets across the country. As a former student of the New York City off-campus program, I have had a chance to observe homelessness in, what is known as, the greatest city in the world. This article aims to uncover the city’s dark side— that which 60, 410 homeless New Yorkers know best. Addressing the issue of homelessness in New York City is important as the most vulnerable ones, that we now see in increasing numbers, have very few advocates and are offered limited resources in world’s most resourceful city.

Homelessness in New York City goes back to The Great Depression (1929-39), which, according to this website, was “the longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western world.” As noted on the website, “In the United States, the Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors.” One of the factors that contributed to the rise of homelessness in New York City is deinstitutialization— the process of moving mentally ill people out of public hospitals.

“The number of homeless families in city shelters each night has nearly doubled from an average of 3,947 families in the 1980’s to a mid-decade average of 7,640 families in 2005 to 14,699 families in 2014.”

 PBS reports, “The ideology rested on the objective of maintaining the greatest degree of freedom and integrity of body, mind, and spirit for the individual while he or she participates in treatment or receives services.” Deinstitutialization, as reported on PBS, “started in 1955 with the introduction of chlorpromazine, the first effective antipsychotic medication.” As stated on Salon, “One month before elections, President Carter signed the Mental Health Systems Act, which promised to continue the federal community mental health centers program.” However, Reagan soon abolished the act, giving all funds to the states. The New York Times even labeled deinstitutionalization “a cruel embarrassment, a reform gone terribly wrong.” 

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Additionally, lack of federal funding for homeless shelters across the United States, which began in 1981 under Ronald Reagan, caused homeless to now be greater than ever. According to Coalition For Homeless, “The number of homeless families in city shelters each night has nearly doubled from an average of 3,947 families in the 1980’s to a mid-decade average of 7,640 families in 2005 to 14,699 families in 2014.” The worst cut in spending was for low-income housing subsidies.

According to the  National Housing Institute, “In his first year in office Reagan halved the budget for public housing and Section 8 to about $17.5 billion, then sought to eliminate federal housing assistance to the poor altogether.” Moreover, the blog states, “ In 1970 there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units than low-income renter households. By 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million.” Similarly, National Housing Institute reports in the same article, “The number of homeless people had swollen to 600,000  by the late 1980s, with a yearly increase of 1.2 million.”

“At 10 homeless shelters, conditions were so bad building inspectors issued vacate or partial vacate orders.”

There are currently 11 homeless shelters in NYC, most located in the Bronx, that are neither safe nor resourceful enough to accommodate the homeless. In fact, as explained here, “At 10 sites, conditions were so bad building inspectors issued vacate or partial vacate orders.” The above reports further state, “Fifty-three percent of the shelter units we sampled were infested with rodents, roaches or other vermin, and 87% had serious safety violations like broken smoke detectors, blocked fire escapes or walls with holes.” Homeless shelters are mainly run by the volunteers and do not provide long-term help, which the city administration is yet to realize. They might offer emergency shelter, but will not reduce the number of the homeless and this is certainly something to worry about.

While The Huffington Post reports that 55% of interviewed New Yorkers think about homelessness in their city at least once a week, American media outlets continue to suppress this issue by overemphasizing the glories of the greatest city in the world instead. Raquel Rolnik, a United Nations special investigator, accuses the US in The Guardian of “shameful neglect of homeless.” In fact, Steve Rendall, senior analysts at FAIR, reported on Bill Moyers that this year “on average, just .2 percent of campaign stories discussed poverty in any substantive way. ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Newsweek ran no campaign stories substantively discussing poverty.”

“On average, just .2 percent of campaign stories discussed poverty in any substantive way.”

This filtered and mediated news coverage is a typical example of selective articulation and the way the news is mediated to fit “our needs” and our “desired perspectives”, and reveals interesting limitations of cross-cultural understanding of homelessness as a societal threat. To illustrate this, a website called News Map groups news from around the world into different categories. When filtered to only show NYC-related articles, it displays a great number of articles on Donald Trump, Ariana Grande, St. Patrick’s Day, the Brussels attacks and iPhone 7, with not a single coverage of homelessness, thus selectively articulating the news.

In addition, news coverage of poverty and homelessness in the United States vs. abroad is significantly different, with media outlets around the world speaking of the death of American dream because of poverty and homelessness. A Serbian news outlet reported  that with huge income disparities and four out of five Americans who face poverty at some point in their lives, “the American Dream is dead.” On the contrary, an article from The New York Times claims, “The American Dream exists all across the country, from the small businesses in every town to the energy entrepreneurs that have created so many jobs and driven down oil and gas prices.”

While the US media outlets focus on what is being done to reduce poverty and homelessness, foreign media focuses more on the issue of homelessness at its core, its causes and consequences. An Italian news outlet, which sarcastically titled the article “Paradise without homeless”, accused Americans of being “mean” and further reported, “The problem of the homeless is probably the biggest scandal in the United States. Nobody knows the exact number of the homeless in America, because they are basically invisible and embarrassed in their poverty, in their lack of success and in the society which has no mercy for losers.”

Furthermore, a popular Croatian portal notes, “In the city with so much money circulating around at all times, the fact that half of its residents live in poverty or near poverty is devastating, yet representative of a continuous trend in increase of economical disparities in the US.” Moreover, they report that poor people in NYC “work but are unable to survive off of that income” and that disparities in opportunities and resource distribution across the country is key factor that evokes poverty. In fact, as reported here, “The richest 20 Americans own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the country.”

You can enjoy yourself comfortably on the Upper East Side, but just a subway stop away, some of the poorest people in NYC are begging on the streets of East Harlem and you alone are unable to help. It is enough to spend a few minutes browsing foreign media outlets to see how heavily  filtered, that is selectively articulated, the news that is served to us is. Media glorifies the wonders of the city and sugarcoats even some of the most shocking issues, such as homelessness, promising that something is being done to solve it.

“The richest 20 Americans own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the country.”

Homelessness in New York City and the United States as a whole has gotten attention from international organizations such as the UN and Amnesty International. On their website, Amnesty International reports, “Housing is a basic human need and a fundamental human right. Yet every day in the United States, banks are foreclosing on more than 10,000 mortgages and ordering evictions of individuals and families residing in foreclosed homes,” while at the same time criticizing the government for its lack of efficiency in addressing this issue.

According to Our World, “Criminalization of homelessness in the US has been criticized by the United Nations.” As stated on the blog, “US homelessness has increased after the financial downturn, and with a disproportionate impact on minorities.” In fact, as written on City Limits, “Black persons in families make up 12.1 percent of the U.S. family population, but represented 38.8 percent of sheltered persons in families in 2010. In comparison, 65.8 percent of persons in families in the general population are white, while white family members only occupied 28.6 percent of family shelter beds in 2010.” These numbers are shocking.

Similarly, the blog reports UN’s position on the issue, “The Committee is concerned at the high number of homeless persons, who are disproportionately from racial and ethnic minorities and at the criminalization of homelessness through laws that prohibit activities such as loitering, camping, begging, and lying in public spaces.” Sadly, I have to agree with the UN. We have become as segregated of a nation as we could possibly be.

We live in, what we think is, the greatest country in the world, yet remain oblivious to some of the most prominent issues in our society. After all, would you really bother thinking about a homeless stranger sitting on Times Square, while graciously sipping your fresh Starbucks Vanilla Frapuccino? I think it is time that you do. In fact, it is time that we all look beyond what media is telling us and start acting today. Only that way will our world become a better, safer place for everyone.

Bibliography

Biron, Carey. “Criminalization of Homelessness in US Criticized by United Nations.” Our World. Our World, 09 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/criminalization-of-homelessness-in-us-criticized-by-united-nations>.

Chung, Jen. “Number of Homeless in NYC At Highest Point Since 1980s.” Gothamist. Gothamist, 24 Jan. 2006. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://gothamist.com/2006/01/24/number_of_homel.php>.

Cohen, Steven. “Understanding Homelessness in New York City.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 May 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/understanding-homelessnes_b_608211.html>.

Collins, John. “More Selective Articulation.” Weave News. Weave News, 04 Sept. 2007. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://weavenews.org/node/793>.

Da Costa Nunez, Ralph. “Homelessness: It’s About Race, Not Just Poverty.” City Limits. City Limits, 05 Mar. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://citylimits.org/2012/03/05/homelessness-its-about-race-not-just-poverty/>.

Dreier, Peter. “Reagan’s Legacy: Homelessness in America.” National Housing Institute. NHI, 13 May 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://nhi.org/online/issues/135/reagan.html>.

Fuller, Torey. “Ronald Reagan’s Shameful Legacy: Violence, the Homeless, Mental Illness.” Salon. Salon, 29 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.salon.com/2013/09/29/ronald_reagans_shameful_legacy_violence_the_homeless_mental_illness/>.

History. com Staff. ”The Great Depression.” History. A+E Networks, 15 Sept. 2009. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.history.com%2Ftopics%2Fgreat-depression>.

Jankovic, Anto, and Antje Passenheim. “Siromaštvo U Najbogatijoj Zemlji Svijeta.” Deutche Welle. Deutche Welle, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.dw.com/hr/siroma%C5%A1tvo-u-najbogatijoj-zemlji-svijeta/a-17390312>.

Loha, Tanuka. “Housing: It’s a Wonderful Right.” Amnesty International USA. Amnesty International, 21 Dec. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://blog.amnestyusa.org/us/housing-its-a-wonderful-right/>

McGreal, Chris. “UN Investigator Accuses US of Shameful Neglect of Homeless.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 12 Nov. 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/nov/12/un-investigator-us-neglect-homeless>.

“Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FMental_Health_Systems_Act_of_1980>.

Mitchell, Daniel. “The American Dream Is Alive.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/01/01/is-the-modern-american-dream-attainable/the-american-dream-is-alive>.

Moiola, Paolo. “Paradiso Senza Fissa Dimora.” Paolo Moiola. Paolo Moiola, 04 June 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.paolomoiola.it/old/0/det.php?id=99>.

“NewsMap.” Newsmap.jp. Newsmap, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://newsmap.jp/>.

Palmer, Mark. “Sex And The City! Noisier Sirens, Bigger Portions, More Glamorous Stars … Why New York Truly Is the Greatest City on Earth.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. Accessed on April 10, 2016. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2756769/Mad-Manhattan-Noiser-sirens-bigger-portions-glamorous-stars-New-York-truly-greatest-city-Earth.html

PBS.com Staff. ”Deinstitutionalization: A Psychiatric Titanic.” PBS. WPBS Digital TV, 10 May 2005. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/asylums/special/excerpt.html>.

Photograph. Property of MTA. “Homeless people sleep at a subway station in New York City.” Accessed on April, 10, 2016 from http://obsidianthemystic.blogspot.com/2013/09/hobo-handbook-memoirs-of-homeless-poet_13.html

Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2756769/Mad-Manhattan-Noiser-sirens-bigger-portions-glamorous-stars-New-York-truly-greatest-city-Earth.html>.

Stangler, Cole. “Richest 20 Americans Own More Wealth Than The Entire Bottom Half Of The Country: Report.” International Business Times. International Business Times, 02 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.ibtimes.com/richest-20-americans-own-more-wealth-entire-bottom-half-country-report-2206865>

Stringer, Scott. “NYC Must Fix Homeless Shelters to Have People Use Them.” NY Daily News. NY Daily News, 06 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-fix-homeless-shelters-people-article-1.2486637>.

Telegraf Staff. ”AMERIČKI SAN JE UMRO: 46 Miliona Siromašnih U SAD!” Telegraf. Telegraf, 29 July 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/793085-americki-san-je-umro-cak-462-miliona-ljudi-siromasno>.

The New York Times Staff. ”Denying the Mentally Ill.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 June 1981. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/1981/06/05/opinion/denying-the-mentally-ill.html>.

Wharton, Rebecca. “How Big Media Ignores the Poor.” BillMoyers. BillMOyers, 11 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <http://billmoyers.com/2012/10/11/how-big-media-ignores-the-poor/>.

Maple Traditions in the North Country

By Imman Merdanovic

Maple Season is not considered to be one of the “four seasons,” but for those in the North Country, it is the sweetest. Little Lucy knows best, as she takes another bite of a freshly made maple donut at this year’s Maple Weekend. Lucy does not need her mother’s approval of all the sweet treats she indulges herself in – after all, maple syrup is an antioxidant, a superfood, and part of a much larger tradition of the North East.

Maple Donuts at Bryan Thompson's sugar shack in Canton. Photo Credits, Imman Merdanovic.
Maple Donuts at Bryan Thompson’s sugar shack in Canton. Photo Credits, Imman Merdanovic.

Maple Weekend, which took place on March 19-20 and April 2-3, has been around since 1995. Its goal is to educate the public of the process of making maple sugar. Nowadays, Maple Weekend includes approximately 160 farms that open their doors annually to welcome maple lovers from around the region.

Maple syrup is a natural sugar made by the evaporation of the sap from maple trees. The abundance of maple trees and a climate particular to the North East, allows for the harvest of our favorite pancake sweetener every Spring.

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According to the Northeastern Regional Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics, maple syrup production in 2015 reached 2.96 million gallons. Vermont remains the top maple syrup-producing state in the nation, producing 40.7 percent of the country’s syrup.

Tapped Maple Tree. Photo Credits, Imman Merdanovic.
Tapped Maple Tree. Photo Credits, Imman Merdanovic.

For residents of the North Country, producing maple syrup is a family tradition that has been carried on for generations. “I’ve been producing maple syrup for over 25 years,” said Jeff Jennes, owner of The Orebed Sugar Shack. “My dad did it when he was growing up, my wife and her family all did it, so there are five generations of us here on weekends that all do maple syrup. It’s a family thing, you can’t do it alone.” Each year, the Orebed’s put about 1,800 taps in 1,400 trees.

For BryanThompson, owner of Blue Heron Farm, maple sugaring was one of the first things he learned growing up. “I have been making maple syrup since I was about three years old,” he said. “My father made syrup until he was 85 and he learned to make maple syrup from his uncle who learned from my great-grand father. We have been making syrup since 1805, so it’s a long family tradition.”

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Just like Thompson, the owners of the Woody’s Maple have been producing maple since 1912 and are planning to continue the family tradition by passing the business onto their son-in-law, Josh Whitford.

Five Generations of Maple Producers at the Orebed Sugar Shack. Photo Credits, Imman Merdanovic.
Five Generations of Maple Producers at the Orebed Sugar Shack. Photo Credits, Justin Dalaba.

Andy Hurlbut, owner of Hurlbut’s Maple, sees maple sugaring as a way of staying active and connected to nature. “From my perspective, I enjoy being outside,” said Hurlbut. “It’s kind of like a winter sport. The season never really lasts long enough, so you never really get sick of it.”

Just as Hurlbut doesn’t get sick of maple season,  Lucy certainly did not get sick of her maple donut. “This was our first time coming to Maple Weekend,” said Lucy’s mom, Stephanie Rose. “Our favorite part was eating maple syrup, maple doughnuts, and learning. “It is important to keep educating people about maple production, because it is part of the North Country tradition. It’s all about families,” she said.

Work Cited

“About Maple Weekend.” NYS Maple Weekend. Accessed on April 3, 2016 from http://www.nysmaple.com/maple-weekend/About-Maple-Weekend/1

“Vermont still leads U.S. in maple syrup production.” Farm and Dairy. Accessed on April 3, 2016 from http://www.farmanddairy.com/top-stories/vermont-still-leads-u-s-in-maple-syrup-production/265545.html

Interviews https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSyJUgfQURA

Interviews, Speeches and Meetings Within the Framework of The New York Times

By Imman Merdanovic

Just having a good central point is often not enough to produce an outstanding news story. Facts, opinions and controversial points are what  what sparks a reader’s curiosity and what makes a story interesting. To write an engaging, credible story, journalist ought to interview individuals for which they believe are their best available sources.

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An interview can simply be defined as a meeting or an encounter of some sort for the purpose of obtaining additional information. According to Bender et al., many experienced interviewers think of an interview as a conversation. However, the point of this conversation is to collect information for an imaginary audience (Bender et al., 2012, p. 306).

Interviewing is considered an essential tool of the journalists and can be done in person, over the phone or via e-mail. According to Bender et al., while it may seem that conducting interviews is an easy task, successful interviews do not just happened and are a product of a lot of planning (Bender et al., 2012, p. 306).

The key in conducting a successful interview is preparation. Before identifying the sources, a journalist should identify the purpose for the interview (Bender et al., 2012, p. 306). Journalists also need to decide whether they are covering a news story, a feature story or an investigative story in order to be able to create an interview outline (Bender et al., 2012, p. 306). The journalists can then proceed onto collecting any necessary information: facts, dates, names, chronology showing the unfolding of events, context and perspective, opinions and anecdotes, among others (Bender et al., 2012, p. 306).

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In addition, journalists also have a choice to cover speeches and meetings, which may or may not include interviews. Reporters assigned to cover speeches and meeting usually write either an advance story or a follow story. The advance story sets the ground for an event which will occur soon, while the follow story reports on an event primarily for those who were unable to attend (Bender et al., 2012, p. 378).

To see how the reporters of The New York Times utilize interviews and cover speeches and meeting, I have analyzed three articles which the newspaper published on March 6, 2016. First, I look into the context of each story and the purpose with which the reporter interviewed his or her sources. I look into what information the reporters looked for at a particular interview. I also look at how many people the reporters interviewed and why.  Lastly, I look into the coverage of speeches and/or meetings. 

The featured articles are:

In her article on boar invasion in Italy, Pianigiani reports on the pressing issue of boar invasion in Italian wine yards. Thus, the context of the story is based on a rather dramatic series of events that pose a threat to numerous wine producers in Tuscany, Italy.

The purpose of interviews was to  get more information on boar invasion and to get first-hand insights of the wine producers whose business is under a threat. For example, Pianigiani managed to get some valuable statistical data from quite a few influential individuals in their respective circles:

“We now live enclosed,” said Francesco Ricasoli, the owner of the Barone Ricasoli estate, which includes about 2,000 acres of oak and chestnut woods where the boar and deer live and hide, as well as more than 500 acres of vineyards, where they love to forage” (Pianigiani, G.).

Moreover, to provide more information and thus improve the credibility of her story, Pianigiani interviewed  Bettino Ricasoli, twice the prime minister of Italy and creator of the modern Chianti wine recipe in the 19th century:

“Our vineyards are rather protected,” Mr. Ricasoli explained, “but our fields are prey to wild boars and roe deer recurrent incursions and have holes that look like Ho Chi Minh trails” (Pianigiani, G.).

Furthermore, Pianigiani also interviewed the councilor for agriculture, another influential source: “This law is at least a first step,” said Marco Remaschi, the Tuscany region’s councilor for agriculture, who acknowledged that the proliferation of the species here had been “largely undervalued and not governed” (Pianigiani, G.).

To wrap up the story and ensure a balanced perspective for the readers, Pianigiani interviewed the hunters and the technical director whose words added quite a bit of melancholy to the story: “We had and are having enormous damage because of this uncontrolled phenomenon,” said Roberto Da Frassini, the technical director who joined the Tenuta di Nozzole estate in northern Chianti in 2011. “We don’t live off philosophy,” he added. “Tuscany’s landscape is beautiful because it’s human-shaped. I can’t preserve it if I don’t pay the salaries” (Pianigiani, G.).

Therefore, the information Pianigiani looked for is how the boar invasion is affecting the wine producers and how much of an issue it really is. In other words, the story is really trying to raise awareness of this rather unusual issue.

Lastly,  the number of sources that Pianigiani interviewed for this story is seven. This is seemingly a short story, thus the number of interviewees is more than sufficient. The reason for this particular number is to provide a balanced, well-researched perspective on the issue.

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Ted Cruz spoke Friday at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in National Harbor, Md. Photo Credit, Stephen Crowley via The New York Times

Moreover, Flegenheimer and Habermann’s story is a follow story on an event concerning presidential elections. The event itself was a debate, thus the story offers opinions of those who spoke during the event itself. The story can also be viewed as an advance story, since it introduces another similar event and provides a rather valuable speech coverage.

The reporters start the story by briefly outlining the event that they are covering and its outcomes: “Mr. Trump’s losses to Mr. Cruz in Kansas and Maine on Saturday, coupled with closer-than-expected victories in Louisiana and Kentucky, have heightened the prospects for a two-man race, though many Republican leaders eye Mr. Cruz warily” (Flegenheimer and Habermann).

The reporters then quote various individuals who stated their opinions during the event: “Trump has to worry about the consistent late-voter rejection of his candidacy,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and Republican presidential candidate (Flegenheimer and Habermann). “Some hope with Ted, no hope with Donald,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on “Meet the Press,” summarizing the party’s dim view of its remaining options.

Lastly, the reporters unofficially introduce another similar event in Michigan: “A moment of reckoning for Mr. Rubio will come Tuesday in Michigan, a state that has concentrations of the kinds of voters he performs well with: professional, younger, highly educated and upper-income”(Flegenheimer and Habermann).

Therefore, the context of this story is to inform the readers of the going-ons regarding presidential elections, and it appeals particularly to those who oppose Donald Trump. The reporters did not interview any of their sources, instead they quoted what the politicians said during the event itself. The information the reporters looked for in these quotes were opinions of Donald Trump and his campaign as well as alternative approaches for the election.

Finally, Coscarelli’s article on the music of Cuba is a classical example of a feature story, with a coherent interview of the musicians. The reporter interviewed the musicians who brought their brand of music to Cuba: “I know you’ve been waiting a long time for a party like this,” the D.J. and producer Diplo called out to a sea of pulsating young Cubans here on Sunday evening, during a free concert by his Caribbean-influenced electronic group, Major Lazer (Coscarelli, J.).

“The money D.J.s make is obnoxious and it’s not going to be around forever,” Diplo said in his room at Hotel Nacional, overlooking the growing crowd about an hour before he took the stage (Coscarelli, J.).

The context of this story is based on an emerging genre of music in Cuba, which relates to artists, residents, visitors and just about anyone who cares about music and Cuba. The purpose of interviewing the sources was to get first-hands insights on the emergence of new music in Cuba. The information that the reporter looked for from the interviews was more details on the music itself and the purpose for bringing the music Cuba.

In conclusion, two out of the three stories analyzed include interviews of some sort and only one is a follow story. While one story includes seven interviews, another story includes only two interview, thus showing that the number of sources is in direct correlation with the breadth and depth of an event/issue being covered. The more pressing, unresearched, controversial and dramatic the issue, the more likely it is to have a larger number of sources. As for event coverage, the reporters preserved most of the original quotes, thus allowing the readers to come to their own conclusion without giving away any bias. 

Work cited:

Coscarelli , J. “Diplo and Major Lazer Bring Their Brand of Music to Cuba.” March 7, 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/arts/music/diplo-and-major-lazer-bring-their-brand-of-music-to-cuba.html

Fedler, F., Bender, J. R., Davenport, L., & Drager, M. W. (2012). Reporting for the Media. Oxford University Press, USA.

Flegenheimer, M., and Habermann, M. “Money Pours In as Move to Stop Donald Trump Expands.” March 6, 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/us/politics/donald-trump.html?ref=politics

Photo Credits, Crowley, S. “Ted Cruz spoke Friday at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in National Harbor, Md.” via The New York Times

Pianigian, G. “Italy’s Famed Wine Region a War Zone, Invaded by Boars and Others.” March 7, 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/world/europe/italy-tuscany-chianti-wine.html?ref=world