Center for Media Innovation & Research

The University of Florida’s Center for Media Innovation and Research offers students in the College of Journalism and Communications many valuable resources. As a Telecommunication major on the news track, I spent majority of the past three years in the school’s news center. Here, I have learned how to report, write and edit for real radio and television broadcasts. The professors and news directors at UF treat us as if we are actual reporters or producers, which forces us to learn quickly and gain confidence in our abilities. One of my favorite stories that I reported on for WUFT News was about veterans using video games as a coping mechanism. I was sent out into the field alone and actually pitched the story idea myself. It was a very satisfying feeling to do everything from start to finish.

As I enter my senior year, I feel privileged for all of the opportunities that UF and the CMIR offered me. Not many schools in Florida give students the chance to be published right away or to reach such a large audience without years of experience. When I was just a sophomore, my story about the Gators banning an infamous penalty chant reached over 30,000 people in just two days and was picked up by Sports Illustrated. Upon graduation in 2018, I will have extensive real-life experience as a reporter. I feel grateful for all of the challenges that I have taken on and for the inspirational people that I have met through this education.


The Tipping Point Review

Malcolm Gladwell’s, The Tipping Point, divulges some amazing information on trends. “Trending” is definitely a hot word right now in every industry. It especially holds weight in the journalism and communication fields in which social media and audience reaching is such a necessity.

The Tipping Point focuses on explaining why certain social trends spread so expansively. Gladwell illustrates how a single idea can spread to reach a massive group of people. As multimedia journalists, the whole goal is to have your content reach people. While reading, I found the most interesting example that Gladwell used to describe his “tipping point” theory is what seemed like the sudden drop in crime rate in New York City. He argued that the quick decrease in the number of crimes was not random at all. He concludes that there were two main factors. The first was the cleaning of graffiti in the subway system and the second was the stopping of toll skippers. While these may seem like minor offenses, they became a visible sign to the masses that even small crimes would not be tolerated. This snowballed into the effective lowering of violent crime rates because if such a small thing is being punished, then surely a major one will. This is all in line with Gladwell’s idea of the “power of context.” As reporters, we are taught that context is everything when writing a credible news story. Interestingly, Gladwell argues that in order to reach the tipping point, sometimes it is not about how many people you reach, but which people. Certain groups are just more apt to spark the newest trend. This made me realize how crucial it is for me to not only know my target audience before I post a new blog entry, but also to be aware of how influential they are. Will they be able to spread my name and ideas to a larger group? Considering context is crucial in every media endeavor.

Lastly, one of the most useful ideas for college students like myself is the “connector” portion of the book. Connectors do just that… they connect people to people. They know everyone. I can think of a handful of people whom I have become acquaintances with at the University of Florida that are exactly this way. You know this guy or gal! They have an “in” to every club, organization, and get stopped in public a million times during the day because people want to say hello to them. These people just have a way about them; a natural ability to make lasting connections with someone everywhere that they go. They are connectors. As an upperclassman in college, attempting to be a connector or at least becoming friendly with one is essential. As the job and internship search is in the all-too-real future, connectors are a major player in this arena. They may know someone who knows someone who is hiring in the exact field or position that you are dying to break into. My advice: work these connectors. If you can’t be one yourself, then get to know one very well. It could very well lead you to an incredible opportunity!

Spring Break Breakdowns

Now that Spring breaks are coming to a close, college kids around Gainesville are going into panic mode as all of their assignments, papers and exams are seemingly seconds away. Not to mention, the pressure of trying to figure out what you’re going to do this summer. But, Kayla James offers an escape from the college craziness. When it all becomes overwhelming, sit back and take a sip of Coffee at Kayla’s to rejuvenate your brain.

Instead of focusing on the mundane aspects of everyday life, focus on the things that inspire you. These will help motivate you to finish your other tasks in order to make time for the people and activities that feed your happiness. Jasmyne Howard offers a beautiful reminder on how to live a more meaningful life.

If you receive a good grade or finish your to-do list for the week, then treat yourself to a cheat meal with Brianda Villegas! Shoot, even if you failed the exam, food can be your friend for the day. Come up with a reward-system every week. For example, if I finish all of my assignments a day early this week, then I will reward myself with pizza on Friday night.

Even when school, work and life becomes overwhelming, remember to focus on what’s important and push through. Also, be sure to Treat Yo Self every once in awhile. You deserve it!

Wash Away the Winter-Bod

I know my blog is all about eating great food, but it’s also important to stay healthy! The Summer season is right around the corner and for many of us that comes with a bit of fear. Swimsuits. Shorts. Tanks. If you are feeling as unprepared as I am to slip into any of these, then give my friend Andrea Barrios’ fitness blog a try! This will help erase any guilt you have from eating too many sweets.

If you’re super out-of-shape and nervous to dive back into a workout routine, Katrina Boonzaier’s site offers helpful apps and tips for beginners! Trust me, it can be hard to get back at it, but having a little guidance offers great motivation.

Finally, to give yourself an extra spruce, Marielena Salazar has advice on how to be beautilicious! She highlights the newest and greatest beauty products that can give the boost you need to feel gorgeous. She also offers handy makeup tutorials for a night out!

~If you’re feeling the stress to look bikini-ready, try out these sites and put yourself a little at ease. ~

Wine Ot

After studying abroad in Europe, I often find myself craving authentic cuisine. Luckily, Gainesville has a hidden treasure downtown that takes me back to the European countryside for a moment. Alpin Bistro offers a wide variety of wine and cheese dishes. The presentation and servings are perfect for when I need to treat myself and feel fancy for the night!

The Alpin’s ingredients taste fresh and simple in the best possible way! The warm goat cheese salad pictured below is absolutely delectable. The goat cheese melts atop french bread and rests on a bed of lettuce from a local farm. You have to try it!

If you are feeling the need to get away after a stressful day, take a dip into my European oasis with some wine and cheese!


S’no Way!


On a hot Florida day, the best way to chill out is with a colorful snow cone. The perfectly shaved ice at Charlie’s Snow Shack is an excellent option. They provide over 30 flavor options and you can choose up to 3 for your cup. Customers can mix it up with a new combination each time. Add their popular marshmallow topping if you so desire! Charlie’s Snow Shack also has hefty serving choices, but I think that the regular is plenty for one person. The one downside of snow cones- you have to eat it fast because the ice will melt in the hot sun. But, don’t eat it so fast that you get a brain freeze (tip: if this does happen, then stick your thumb on the roof of your mouth). Shaved ice is a great alternative to cookies or any other dessert on a warmer day!


No Valentine? No Problem.

Valentine’s Day rolls around every year and many of us singles sit around watching others be adored. Well, I suggest that you treat yourself. What does this mean? Cookies, of course!

Midnight Cookies in Gainesville will deliver a pick-me-up in gooey chocolate form even in the wee hours of the night. There is no reason we can’t celebrate loving ourselves on this day. After all, isn’t Valentine’s Day just a made up holiday? Trust me, there’s nothing like a delicious dessert to make you forget about any past or future significant other.

Next Valentine’s Day, or any day you’re feeling down, call up Midnight Cookies for a chocolate chip bandaid. It may not solve your problems, but it definitely doesn’t make them worse either. So, after a movie night and pizza, polish it off with your cookie of choicefullsizerender-8


Eating Healthy Buffet-Style

Buffets tend to leave me with a food-baby big enough to fool people into thinking that I’m actually expecting. I made this video a couple of months ago using my iPhone to show that it is possible to eat at a buffet-style restaurant or at your sorority house without over-indulging. My sorority’s Health Chair shared tips on how to avoid feeling sluggish after every meal! Take a look…

One of my favorite tips that the video shared was replacing bad carbs with more protein-packed quinoa. So, the next time your friend suggests a buffet-style restaurant for dinner, there’s no need to pack the Tums. You can control yourself now!

thinkin’ about Don’t Make Me Think

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug offers advice and insight on how to make something more usable. The tips in this book can be applied by any website designer or blogger. Based on what I have learned from this reading, a good website minimizes any questions that could pop up in the user’s mind. If the user has to take a second to think about something, then the experience or information that the website was supposed to offer could be completely hindered. If thinking is necessary, then the creator should make sure it can be figured out as quickly as possible by making the applications self explanatory.

The part of the book that I found most useful was the idea that a webpage is a billboard. The author meant that a user does not read an entire webpage right away; he or she skims it first. Therefore, website creators should keep that in mind. For example, on my food blog, I should use appealing pictures and flashy titles to reel in readers. They are most likely going to scan these quickly and only stop to read the meal that most interests them. It’s also not a good idea to make everything on the page loud. This means that all of my posts shouldn’t be riddled with obnoxious capitalizations, links, highlights, and exclamations!!!

Another useful point that I plan to incorporate into my blog is to keep the word-count as low as possible. The author explained that a text-heavy website turns many people away because it seems too intimidating. As a frequent website user, I completely agree with this tip. By keeping my website posts short and engaging, I hope to increase the likelihood that someone will stay on my site when they open it.

A good website is set up with the user in mind. The creator should consider any question that they could come across during each step. This is so important because just as a frustrated customer storms out of a store, a confused web user will close out of the site. Everything should be obvious to users. In today’s web-world, there is a lot of competition out there. It’s simple to start your own website now, therefore, users have the power and will not think twice about switching to someone else’s site if yours isn’t designed to meet their needs. A good website has clear sections and the user’s desired area can be reached without he or she having to think about it. Furthermore, search and home capabilities are important aspects of a site. The search allows users to quickly get to their topic of interest. Many users look for the search application right away, so a good website should always have one. The option to go back to the home page is also crucial. The home page of a website needs to tell users why they should care enough to remain on the site.

I found Don’t Make Me Think to be an extremely useful tool and I plan to implement it in my future blog posts. Some of the book’s advice sounded so obvious, yet I had never stopped to consider it before. I hope that I can use what I learned to make my blog user-friendlier.



I Hate Bein’ Cheesy, but This Makes Me Melt

fullsizerender-7This picture is worth a thousand cheeses. Ordering the Wisconsin at Sweetberries is the closest I ever plan to get to the state, but if it wasn’t available down the street, then I just might have to take the trip!

Provolone, cheddar, muenster… what more does a gal need? Oh, maybe a loaded Wisconsin with avocado, tomato, and bacon. It is well worth the extra cents. All of the ingredients are glued together with gooey cheese and toasted sourdough.

This is definitely a healing food. So, if you’ve had a long day at work or failed an exam, then let yourself indulge. It may not solve your immediate problems, but it makes your tummy smile.

P.S. Get some frozen custard, too. You deserve it!