The Reporter's Corner
3 years ago
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The newscast, which I produce, 16 News, at Towson University is back this semester and it’s looking good  :)

If you want to keep up with the news go to wmjftv.com/16news for the latest!

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Homeless in Charm City: Part 2

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Homeless in Charm City: Part 1

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Homeless in Charm City from olivia obineme on Vimeo.

Video by Trent Jaklitsch
Editing by Olivia Obineme & Sam Buckley

September 24, 2010—I hosted a discussion on homelessness in Baltimore City. 14 students, including myself, and professor Stacy Spaulding explored the issue during the Spring ‘10 semester. We are journalists, so we created a website, which contained all the stories, photos and video we had of the city’s homeless population. Guests included Healthcare for the Homeless Adam Schneider, community activist and Union Square president Chris Taylor and former Baltimore City mayor Sheila Dixon. I will embed the discussion.

4 years ago
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Remembering the good times with Don Champion

By Olivia Obineme
Multimedia journalist | June 19, 2010

Many say (usually a year or two after graduation), “College is the best time of your life.”

And usually, those “best” times refer to the parties, the friends and the graduation.

To reporter and producer Don Champion at KMGH-TV 7News in Denver, Colo., it seems the only thing he can remember from Towson University is WMJF-TV, specifically the newscast, 16 News.

Read More»

4 years ago
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Community Transparency

Bill requires University to disclose construction projects

By Olivia Obineme

Published: Sunday, April 11, 2010 

 After some amendments, House Bill 348 now stands as law mandating Towson University to notify surrounding community neighbors of any construction occurring on campus.

The General Assembly was unanimous.

This bill also affects Salisbury University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and University of Maryland, College Park.

“We don’t feel it is necessary to legislate what any good neighbor should do,” assistant to the president for external relations and communications, Marina Cooper, said.

The bill came about due to many new developments on university campuses in the bill.

Cooper said the University already notifies communities of present and future plans of construction, as well as other University events.

“From fireworks to disaster drills, to construction projects to tree cleaning and landscape clean-up, we do our best to notify our neighbors with common boundaries –and when possible, work with them,” she said.

Prior to its amendments, the bill read, “… and generally relating to providing notice and consulting with communities before designing a new structure or substantially modifying the exterior of an existing structure regarding the new design or substantial exterior modification of structures at institutions of higher education.”

Kris Henry, editor of forgeflyer.com, a Web site for families in the Towson-North Baltimore area, lives with her family south of Dumbarton Rd., about half a mile from the construction of the new arena.

Though she lives far away from the construction, she said she has not been following this bill closely, but has noticed and blogged about those who have.

“At first they were thrilled that TU –and any other Maryland college would need to consult with surrounding communities before making modifications that could affect those communities, such as a new stadium right up against people’s back yards,” she said.

However, after the amendments, many of those once thrilled about the bill changed their minds.

“The amendments appear to water down what it is a college needs to do,” she said. “Instead of a university saying, ‘We’d like to put a 10-story building next to your house; let’s talk about that so we can see what you think and get your input before moving ahead,’ it seems this legislation says the University must simply say, ‘FYI, we’re putting a 10-story building next to your house –just wanted to let you know.’”

But to Rodgers Forge community vice president Lawrence Swoboda, just having strong communication from the University would benefit everyone.

“While there is no requirement to consult with communities, certainly having the University notify us can only help,” Swoboda said.

According to Swoboda, developer professionals, such as construction workers and engineers are already involved in University projects from the get-go.

“There are some of us who don’t understand what is going on in the projects. We don’t need to know the specific details, just need an understanding of what is happening, from the beginning,” he said.

Overall, Swoboda said he believes Towson is currently doing a good job with communication.

“In general, Towson University is a good neighbor. Could they be doing better? Of course –all of the communities have different concerns,” he said.

According to Cooper, West Village Commons and West Village housing Phase 2 is underway to add more on-campus housing.

Story: Courtesy of The Towerlight

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Coverage of the on campus electrical fire located across from Tower A,next to the Center for the Arts, on Cross Campus Drive.

16 News Reporter Olivia Obineme is at the scene.

Photography by Louis Vieira.

c. 2010 WMJF-TV 16 NEWS

4 years ago
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It took MFA Candidate Matt Voelker over the span of 4 years to create his work for his exhibit: Caffeinated Clay. 16 News reporter Olivia Obineme has more.

Edited by Olivia Obineme
Photograhpy by Louis Vieira
c. 2009, WMJF-TV 16 NEWS

4 years ago
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‘Talk’ debates smoking ban

By Olivia Obineme

Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010

The week of snow allowed students and faculty to cool down, but the first New York Times Talk Lunch of the semester began noon last Wednesday with the heated conversations of the University’s smoking ban.

Dowell Health Center Health Promotion and Education Services coordinator Kate Reeder hosted the discussion and shared three related articles, which touched on how smoking bans have improved the health of cities, how people are trying to stop others from smoking in apartment complexes and how two hospitals want to go further than their private grounds into the public with the ban.

For the University, the smoking ban has already been decided and will be in effect Aug. 1, 2010. According to the University’s Web site, the ban will “designate all property owned and operated by Towson University as smoke-free.”

Many of those who attended the talk had mixed feelings with the University and its decision to rid the entire campus of smoking and questioned the legal right of having the choice to smoke.

“I think Towson is forcing smokers and putting them in a predicament they don’t have to be in,” biology graduate student Stephanie Koontz said.

Koontz, a non-smoker, said she believed there should be designated areas for smokers instead, so students and faculty smokers do not have to go far away from campus to smoke.

Nevertheless, Reeder said that many people do not understand the University’s reasoning behind this ban.

“There is a misconception here. It is not a ban to tell smokers that they have to quit,” Reeder said. “We are getting on board with environmental factors and providing cleaner air on campus.”

Reeder also added that the University sees that there is a trend with businesses going smoke free and believed it is part of a culture shift.

“It started with bars and restaurants going smoke free and it is something that people are starting to accept,” she said.

Reeder and the University know that accepting the ban will take some time, but hope it will not take more than a couple months.

“We are not forcing any of the smokers. They have a choice to quit and we have free services and programs to help them if they want to quit,” Reeder said.

Although there were many who disliked the decision the University has made, others at the discussion, like secondary education professor Jeff Passe said people will just have to deal with it.

“All kinds of policies are set in this country, so this is just another one that I agree with,” Passe said.

The next NYT Talk is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9.

Story: Courtesy of The Towerlight

4 years ago
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Fighting to erase the ‘R word’

By Olivia Obineme

Published: Sunday, February 14, 2010Stokes siblings

Standing in line at a local McDonald’s, an individual called Towson junior Rianna Stokes’ 34-year-old brother, Daniel, a retard.

“That’s my brother’s all-time favorite restaurant and the adults behind me were slapping their wrists across their chests, acting like what they believe a ‘retard’ acts like,” Stokes said.

Daniel was born with Down syndrome and lives with the cognitive levels of a 3 to 4-year-old child. According to Stokes, the word “retard” and its various forms are not supposed to be used in a derogatory way.

“For someone to turn the word that was once used to describe someone with an intellectual disability and turn it into a way to describe things negatively is just wrong,” she said.

That is why Stokes, a special education major, said she makes sure that she stops people from misusing the ‘r’ word.

Stokes is doing her part to promote the pledge, “Spread the Word to End the Word” sponsored by Special Olympics and Best Buddies International.

“Spread the Word to End the Word” is a campaign “created by the youth to engage schools, organizations and communities by raising the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard[ed]” and encouraging everyone to stop using the R-word,” according to the Special Olympics Web site.

The specific day for “Spread the Word to End the Word” began in 2009 at the Special Olympics World Winter Games Global Youth Activation Summit.

“It’s a nationwide campaign that is basically a petition of sorts where people pledge to stop using the word in a derogatory fashion,” Stokes said.

Every chapter takes part in the campaign, including Special Olympics Maryland.

Vice president of public relations with Special Olympics Maryland Kelly Schniedwind said in 2009 the Maryland chapter did go to three or four schools where they made student committees that discussed the “r” word.

“We encouraged students to stop using the word and gave away T-shirts, having them pledge not to use the ‘r’ word,” Schniedwind said.

Schniedwind said the message is not to point fingers, but to have people, especially the youth, to stop and think before they use the word.

“Ninety percent of people who say the word most of the time don’t mean it and it’s just part of their vernacular,” she said.

Stokes said she agreed.

“I think society has made that word a part of our everyday culture, but I also believe it’s a choice for people to use that word,” Stokes said. “For instance people have the choice to use other words such as “fool” or “dummy,” words that were made to be used in a derogatory fashion, not words that were made to describe someone with an intellectual disability.”

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel used the word last month to describe a plan for liberal activist to buy ads criticizing Democrats on health care reform.

Republican and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin spoke out in anger, saying that he should be fired. At a later date, conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh used the word ‘retard’ during his radio show, but Palin did not call for his firing.

Stokes said it doesn’t matter who you are. Using the word in a derogatory way is wrong, but she is glad they said it.

“It’s raising awareness around the country about the use of the word and it’s hurtfulness toward others, but no one should be allowed to say this word, politically or not,” she said.

Nevertheless, Stokes said she will continue to stop the misuse of the ‘r’ word and hopes that people will be aware of the hurt it causes so many families and supporters like her and her brother Daniel.

One day, Daniel can go into his favorite restaurant and enjoy his meal respectfully, without being called names, Stokes said.

“I think now that it’s 2010, people need to open up their eyes a little bit and realize that they’re not perfect,” she said. “We all need to learn to accept and respect those around us.”

For more information about “Spread the Word to End the Word” visit: http://www.r-word.org/ .

Story: Courtesy of The Towerlight

Image: Courtesy of Rianna Stokes

This story also appears on The Huffington Post.

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