Blackstone and Franklin Square

Although warm, sunny days are few and far between during the school year in Boston, on those days when it is nice enough to shed your winter gear most Northeastern students flock to the benches, quads and green spaces all over Northeastern’s campus. If you love to soak up the sun but want to avoid the crowd of Northeastern students, there are plenty of other green spaces to take advantage of in Boston.

One of those spaces is Blackstone & Franklin Square in the South End of Boston. Located at 380 Shawmut Avenue, just a mile from campus, this cute park is a great place to come, spread a blanket and relax with your friends, significant other or even just on your own.

The park doesn’t have any official hours as it’s not gated, but I’d suggest taking advantage of the sun in the mid to late afternoon, when lots of local South Enders bring their dogs or take walks in the area. The park, which is handicap accessible, is nestled right in the residential area of the neighborhood so it isn’t disturbed by too much outside noise or traffic.

March 28, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Jeans for sale!

So this is kind of shameless plugging, but I recently went through my denim collection and had a sad realization that I am no longer a size zero, meaning that half of my jeans no longer fit me. I’ve got a ton of great denim that I have to get rid of, but it seems a shame to dump it all in a goodwill bag. Instead, I’m hoping to try and sell some of the pairs! I’ve never sold clothing over the internet, so I’m curious as to how successful this will be. So far, I’ve listed 8 pairs on craigslist, and I’m hoping some interested girls will contact me!

I’ve got 4 pairs of AE jeans, two skinny styles & two bootcut/flare styles, all in size 0.

I have two pairs of Lucky Brand jeans, both bootcut styles, one in size 0/25 and another in size 4/27.

And the best for last, I have a pair of dark bootcut Hudson jeans & a pair of dark straight True Religion jeans, both in size 0/25.

Please email me if you are interested at kossman.r@gmail.com. I’d be happy to send you extra pictures of any detailing on the jeans, and have people come over and try some of the pairs on. Prices for each pair are listed on the ads, but I may be willing to knock down the cost if you say you’re a loyal blog reader 😉 Be sure to pass the word on if you know anybody who may be interested!

March 26, 2010. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Mapping as a journalism tool

As we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it’s no secret that journalism is changing drastically. With the internet playing a major role in how, and when, consumers get their news, newspapers, magazines and even tabloids are being forced to change the way they report the news.

Part of that change means incorporating visuals into our reporting, whether that be images, video, audio or in many cases, maps. Especially in the political relm, maps can play a huge role in helping readers understand stories.

In class this week, we took a look at some of the maps featured on websites today. My favorite was a set of maps reflecting the 2008 election results. As you can see, the creator plotted the electoral and popular votes on the maps. He then manipulated the maps based on population – showing readers that even though in traditional maps, most of the country looks like it voted Republican, in fact the majority of the population voted Democrat. The great thing about these maps is how unique they are, and the way they put a different spin on journalism mapping.

To me, maps like this one, put together by the AP, are virtually useless, and demonstrate the wrong way to use maps in journalism. Having a visual of where each story the AP is covering is based does absolutely nothing for me – if the location of the story is important, it should be well represented in the article.

Utilizing a map the way the Boston Globe did in plotting different Farmers Market locations, however, is incredibly useful. Being able to pull up a map and see where exactly the Farmers Markets are, getting directions and reading about each location is practical, helpful and a great way to include a visual in the story.

March 26, 2010. Tags: , . Class Posts. Leave a comment.

My prayers have been answered!

It looks like the Forever21 gods finally heard my prayers — rumor has it they’re opening a location on Newbury Street! Anybody who reads this blog knows of my Forever21 obsession, so this new location will definitely be horrible for my wallet and fabulous for my closet. I commented on the post to try and figure out if anybody has an idea as to when the store will be opening, but I may have to head down there myself and do some detective work!

March 24, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

J Crew interview update!

I posted last week about my job search with J Crew, and I realize now that I never updated about the interview! Since I’m supposed to hear back from them some time this week, I figured I’d let you in on the experience thus far.

I headed over to Copley in the pouring rain last Monday afternoon and managed to make it there only slightly soggy. I was wearing my grey leggings, a long, navy blue J Crew argyle cardigan & my newly found pearls (I raided my old jewelry when I was home over spring break & found three strands of pearls I’d gotten as a teen and totally forgot about – score!).  I was also rocking my bright yellow target rainboots. I was there incredibly early, so I spent some time checking out their spring collection and wandering the store. I immediately noticed how many sales associates they had working at one time – I counted at least seven or eight just in the front of the store, and it was a Monday!

I met with Erica, the hiring manager, who gave me lots of great information about the store, dress code, what it’s like to work for J Crew and we talked about me, my fashion sense, my availability and my past retail experience. I think the conversation went well, and she informed me that she’d be calling me in a week to ten days to let me know if I had been picked for a second interview. I’ve never interviewed for a retail job that did second interviews, and to be honest I was pretty shocked – I didn’t know the process was so selective! She said they had a lot of applications, which I definitely do not doubt, and that she’d be in touch.

I’m hoping I hear back soon – although I’d be pretty surprised if I didn’t get a second interview, I guess with that many applicants you really never know. If it doesn’t work out I won’t be heartbroken, although I think working there would be great experienced and I know I’d have tons of fun helping and dressing customers at the store.

Anyways, I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted when I do hear back!

March 23, 2010. Tags: , , . Fashion. Leave a comment.

Final project proposal

For my final multimedia project, I plan on profiling three Boston fashion bloggers who have used their blogs to explore their love for style and fashion.

I’d like to sit down with these bloggers and speak with them about how they got started blogging and what inspires them to write. I’d like to ask how long they’ve been blogging, how many hits their blogs receive a day, if they make any profit or  if their blog has led to other writing or fashion opportunities. I’d like to ask if they consider blogging part of their career or just their hobby, and what the most rewarding thing about keeping a their blog has been. I’d also like to ask if they utilize any social media, and if they feel it has helped get the word out about their blog.

So far, I have been in touch with Sarah MacManus (www.shopsarahmac.com) and she has agreed to let me interview her for my project. I have also emailed Kara Weymouth (www.thebostonista.com) and Martini (www.beyondbostonchic.com) in hopes that they will speak with me as well.

I’m hoping to interview all three women on camera, at the very least recording the audio of our conversations. In addition, I’d like to photograph them to profile their personal style, and how that reflects the writing on their blog.

March 21, 2010. Class Posts. Leave a comment.

Twitter coverage of St. Patrick’s Day

As part two of our Twitter lesson, we were asked to cover an event via Twitter. I chose to document my celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on Boylston Street in Boston last night, and sent a number of tweets about my experience.

The scene outside the Pour House last night

I left campus after class at around 8:30 pm, met up with friends and began the walk to Boylston from Northeastern’s campus. On the way I noticed the Prudential Center lit up in green for the holiday and snapped a quick photo. Upon arrival at Pour House I realized just how chaotic the scene actually was, and decided  to take a picture of all the people wearing green lined up outside trying to get into the bars. After about a 15 minute wait, we finally made it into the Pour House, where we somehow managed to snag a table in the back room. I decided to order a Magners and homemade mac & cheese for dinner, which I also documented with a photo. All my friends were drinking green beer, but I decided to skip the food coloring. In retrospect, I probably should have snagged a picture of that too! The front area of the bar was pretty full and there were people waiting in line to get downstairs but the back room where we were sitting wasn’t too packed. Other friends managed to brave the lines to get into the bar and meet us, but another friend reported that she was unsure she would get in because the line outside was so long, so I decided to share that fact as well.  At about midnight I decided to call it a night and catch the bus home – after all, I had to be at work bright & early the next morning.

As somebody who has been using Twitter for a while, I don’t usually send more than one or two tweets about a single event. In my coverage, I was just hoping to report what I was seeing since I knew lots of people were probably curious as to what the bar scene, specifically Boylston Street, looked like last night.

One huge benefit of covering a story on Twitter is how quickly updates & pictures are sent and received. Using Uber Twitter on my Blackberry is incredibly easy – all I need to do is open the application, snap a picture, type a few words and click send. The updates can then be received immediately – if I had Twitter friends who were on Boylston Street looking to get into the bars, they were able to read my posts about how long the lines were and head elsewhere instead.

One of the negatives of covering an event solely via Twitter is the limited character count. When you have lots to report on, you end up posting seven or eight tweets at a time, which can sometimes be obnoxious to your followers. I felt kind of silly posting numerous updates about my night, and wondered how many people were rolling their eyes at my tweets. Regardless, I had a good time and was glad I got to share it with the Twitter world!

March 18, 2010. Tags: , . Class Posts. Leave a comment.

Fashion in the twit-o-sphere

For class this week, we’re doing a unit on Twitter, and have been assigned to find and follow 10 twitter users related to our blog beat. Although I’ve been on twitter for quite some time, I realized in beginning this assignment that I don’t follow very many people or organizations that are fashion related.

In searching Listorious for “fashion” and “boston fashion” I stumbled across a list of Boston Fashion Bloggers put together by twitter user DameVintage. Lists on twitter are simple – they allow users to organize the people they follow into categories. For example, I have a “news” list, a “northeastern” list and now, a newly created “fashion” list.

I’ve chosen to follow a variety of fashion-related twitters.

I found Sarah McManus, aka BostonStylista, who was once assistant fashion editor for Boston Magazine and has since opened her own style consultation business. McManus tweets about a variety of things – she promotes her anyweargirl.com blog posts, tweets with other stylistas, including RobertVerdi, about their favorite spring trends, and retweets other interesting blog posts she comes across.

I discovered Kara thebostonista, who writes the fashion blog thebostonista.com. Kara is great to follow – her twitter is much more personal, and she makes comments and asks questions in addition to plugging her blog posts.

I’ve also chosen to follow cutblog, the fashion blog for New York Magazine. While cutblog mostly tweets about blog posts on their own site, they also engage in some conversation and will occasionally retweet. My favorite is the retweet of this great twitpic, posted originally twitter user fashionrat, of gingerbread men wearing outfits from Lady Gaga’s Telephone music video. The image later made it into a Huffington Post update!

I also found Forever21, fashionboston, shopsecret, and nytimesstyle.

After writing my post about oohilove, I’ve been following them on twitter. I had also been following GlobeFashion and nytimesfashion, but both simply post links to articles on their sites instead of engaging in any conversation, which isn’t very exciting.

March 16, 2010. Tags: , , . Class Posts, Fashion News. Leave a comment.

GlobalPost field trip

On Wednesday afternoon, our Reinventing the News class took a trip to the North End, where we visited the GlobalPost headquarters. Although it is based out of Boston, GlobalPost is a website dedicated entirely to international news. Once there, we met with Charles Sennott, executive editor of the site, and Rick Byrne, director of communications and marketing. They spent some time speaking with us about the site and some of its recent content.

Charles Sennott, speaking to our class at the GlobalPost headquarters in Boston

According to Sennott, the site has more than 70 correspondents in 50 countries around the world, in addition to a full time staff of 15 people in Boston, including 8 editors. The site makes money through online advertising, syndication and its subscription model, entitled “Passport“.

Overall, GlobalPost is an incredibly well put together site for international news. It is well organized, with drop down menus located at the top of the screen that list all of the countries and beats which the site covers. Further down, five boxes feature the biggest stories of the day. Other, more general sections such as “Women in Politics” and “Global Headlines” are listed below, followed by a multimedia section and a list of ongoing GlobalPost blogs.

To be honest, I hadn’t read the GlobalPost site until just before our trip to their offices on Wednesday. I am impressed with the selection of content throughout the site, and have already bookmarked the site with intentions of visiting it on a regular basis. The layout of the main site isn’t my favorite – I don’t necessarily like how all of the content is stacked one item on top of another. The international news that I read comes mostly from the New York Times or LA Times, and occasionally The Jerusalem Post, and in comparison to the NYT or LAT, I love the more in depth coverage GlobalPost provides.

During his presentation, Sennott highlighted a multimedia piece he worked on entitled “Life, death and the Taliban”. The piece, which features written articles, photo essays and video, is incredibly detailed and has dozens of different parts. Overall, I am impressed with the depth of reporting throughout the piece. The videos are well narrated, the photos are beautiful and the content well written.

I began by reading the “Blowback” piece, but the layout confused me a bit. The integration of the video is a good concept, but is choppy within the text. The additional bar with content options only a few paragraphs into the story is also confusing, and somewhat distracting. I do appreciate the quotes from people within the country – after reading dozens of articles about the complex situation of the Middle East, it’s refreshing to read an article that quotes a people from inside the effected area.

The home page of the article features a timeline of the Taliban, which I found incredibly informal. I like that you can click on different years and read about what happened at that point in time. I do wish that the timeline opened on its own, bigger page, where the text could be bigger and more in depth.

GlobalPost also has a Study Abroad page, which features content produced by college students studying abroad. My professor has asked us to come up with three story ideas for the page, and here are mine:

– If I were to write for this page, I’d love to do a feature on a typical weekend – comparing and contrasting how I would have spent my weekend in the states versus how I spent it abroad. The story could be mainly text, but also feature a media component with a voiceover and photos.

– I traveled to China two summers ago, and we had a lot of fun pointing out interesting signs throughout the country, many of which were translated incorrectly. A photo slideshow featuring some of these signs from across the world might be a fun, light feature for the page.

– On the same trip to China, I was lucky enough to interact with some local Chinese university students. Another great story might be a profile on a university student in another country – asking them questions about everything from their studies to their goals for the future. The piece would be text, in addition to some photos of the student’s daily life at school.

March 14, 2010. Tags: , , . Class Posts. Leave a comment.

Is spending on the rise?

According to this CNN article, retail sales rose in February, although only by a measly .3 percent. I guess I shouldn’t complain, as a rise in spending is certainly a good sign, and is of course better than the expected decrease in sales. According to the piece, consumer spending accounts for two thirds of America’s economy and “related reports such as retail sales are used to gauge whether a recovery is underway.” Are we slowly pulling out of the slump?

The article cites the change in seasons as an explanation, and a hope, that spending will increase as the temperatures rise and Americans look to refresh their wardrobe for spring and summer.

In looking at my own spending habits, I have to be honest and say they’ve certainly changed since December when I had a regular pay check. Now I’m on a much tighter budget, and rent & groceries have to take priority. My best friends motto is that designer jeans are a much better purchase than food for a week, but my parents probably wouldn’t be happy to hear I was starving myself and out buying Hudsons instead. I’ve definitely bought a few things here or there this semester – Erin and I went shopping when we were in Connecticut, but we had her 40% off coupon to use, and most of the other purchases I’ve made have been straight off the sales rack.

Of course you have to exclude my recent retail therapy binge when I was home last week – I spent way more than I should have and I should probably admit that only a few of the purchases were practical. What can I say, I’m good for the economy?

So here’s a question to you. Yes, you, the approximately 30 of you who somehow (probably accidentally) land on this blog every day. Are you spending less this winter on clothing than you normally do?  Are you buying things on sale instead of at full price? Are you going out shopping less than you were in years past? Are you planning on updating your wardrobe as it becomes warmer out, or will you just be pulling out your spring clothes from last year? Please, do share.

March 12, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Fashion News. 2 comments.

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