Rachel E McLean

JO304 Portfolio

The Life Saving Power of Man’s Best Friend

Cara Toland goes to bed at night having to worry about the possibility of not waking up the next morning. Along with her school work, Cara has type 1 diabetes and is hypoglycemic unaware—a condition where diabetics are unable to tell when they have low blood sugar because their body stops giving them the normal warning signs, such as shaking or sweating, that signal the need for attention.

Rather than relying on her body’s natural alerts, Cara has enlisted the help of Ava, a black lab who she is training as a medical alert service dog, to let her know when her blood sugar is low. If a type 1 diabetic experiences an extreme low and doesn’t treat it in time, it can be life threatening, so Ava’s job is extremely important.

“I was getting closer and closer to not feeling when I was having a low, which is when it
becomes dangerous,” said Cara. “You may not even realize that you’re disoriented or about to pass out. You’re trying to go about your day, and then suddenly you’re about to hit the floor.”

If a type 1 diabetic experiences a low and doesn’t treat it in time, it can be life threatening. That’s why many people decide to enlist the help of a service dog. Dogs can be trained to deliver medical alerts for low blood sugar to their owner with a specific cue learned through official service dog training.

“What we look for is a dog with a good temperament and easy disposition,” said Alice Smith,  Client Services Coordinator for PAWS Training Centers, a service and good canine citizen training center.”One that is willing to please and learns quickly.”

In Cara’s case, she decided to primarily self train her dog, Ava. Cara received Ava new-piktochart_20678121_93fce2aeba5991545e69a332ea9fc60ce13b0e09partially trained at 6 months old. At that point, Ava was beginning her scent training (to detect low blood sugar) and was public access ready, which means she responded to basic commands, such as heal and stay, and would not be a disruption in public spaces. A year and a half later, Ava is still perfecting her training.

“A lot of other owner trainers probably understand the sentiment of: you will mess up,” said Cara. “You will accidentally set yourself back a couple months in training, but it’s going to be okay. You’ll get there.”

Ava’s primary job is to detect when Cara has low blood sugar. Training for low blood sugar is called scent training. Ava is also learning to detect and alert Cara’s other medical needs, such as when she is going to faint from a heart rate and blood pressure related condition. When she is two years old, Ava will begin to do light mobility training, which will involve wearing a guide harness in order to assist Cara with mobility when she experiences fatigue. Training a service dog like Ava can be time consuming, but one of the major obstacles in training is other people. For Cara, training can be particularly challenging because she is on a college campus.

“Many of us love dogs, and, particularly students on campus, respond to dogs and want to come up and talk to it and pet it,” said Lorrie Wolf, Director of Disability Services at Boston University. “When someone interferes with a service dog, they’re interfering with its job, and its ability to perform a task that could save somebody’s life.”



Five Shot Assignment

This is a video of Megan Barnard, COM ’19, as she works as an Office Assistant in COM Undergraduate Affairs. Her position requires her to take appointments for students meeting with advisors, answering the phones, pulling file folders and greeting prospective students.

News track: Podcast on ‘La La Land’ Is Going to Win a Lot of Oscars, and That’s O.K. and the NYT Twitter

In the New York Times article ‘La La Land’ Is Going to Win a Lot of Oscars, and That’a O.K., the main component of the article is a podcast from Still Processing hosted by Wesley Morris, the critic at large for The New York Times and a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, and  Jenna Wortham, a staff writer for the magazine. They cover the Oscars, Black History Month, politics and a whole lot more.

The introduction to the podcast is a short set of paragraphs mostly about the Oscars; however, the first 15 minutes of the podcast is about their personal experience, Black

Photo Credit: ltenney1225

History Month and politics.

I didn’t mind that they covered a lot of Black History Month, but I feel they could have included it in the introduction of the written portion or even made it into its own podcast because it is a relevant and interesting topic of conversation.

The rest of the podcast is them discussing the nominated movies, contemplating who will win and talking about possible surprises. They also talk about the people color who are nominated and their chances to win, also relevant.

The New York Times uses Twitter mostly as an additional platform for posting articles, but they also use it to post videos and repost articles from New York Times World. They don’t seem to interact with other Twitter users much unless they are affiliated with the New York Times.

Cheese Shops in Boston

I am a big foodie, and I really love cheese. I’m currently working for culture: the word on cheese, and they have a Cheese Library of product, which inspired me to create this map. Below is a map of cheese shops in Boston.

Do you trust what you read in the news?

Boston University students weigh in on if they trust what they read in the news.

Project Progress

I am doing my mid-term project on students training their own service dogs on campus. I have an interview scheduled with a student this weekend and the director of Disability Services for next Tuesday. I have a few quotes from my conversation with the student, but I don’t have her permission to share them because they were conversational. She is very excited about the interview because she hopes it will help educate students at BU on how to behave around service dogs.

Student: Cara Toland, Senior

Director of Disability Services: Lorraine Wolf

News track:The Ultimate Pursuit in Hunting: Sheep

The Ultimate Pursuit in Hunting: Sheep by John Branch is the best example of online journalism since I started my news tracks. I was attracted to this article because it was in the center of the home page and had a series of rotating images as it’s featured image. Then, when I clicked on the headline, the page I was brought to was one of the rotating images of a single man on top of a mountain overlooking a big, green, empty space. The image fills the whole page, and the title is in white above the man. It’s a different look from all their other online articles and makes this one attractive from the start.

Photo Credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie

There are more big beautiful images spaced throughout the article. They break up the text and are great images. The only thing I wish they would have done differently is kept the breaks for images limited to one image. There are some spots where it is two large images stacked on top of each other and even if it is relevant to the text, it feels like a bit much. What they could have done is either space the images with more text between them or done a split image of two, smaller side by side shots. This article also has images that would have been great for the New York Times Instagram, but they haven’t posted any yet.

I still have the same issue with the links they embed in their articles. Any link you click on in this article redirects you to a new page and pulls you away from the New York Times website. It’s getting to the point where I may email them to point this out because it doesn’t benefit them to draw their readers away from their content. Online journalism makes it harder to get people to pay for content. If you pull people away from your site, they are less likely to hit their article limit and even less likely to pay to access more of your content.



News track: Small Cheese Makers Invest in a Stinky Science

The New York Times published “Small Cheese Makers Invest in a Stinky Science” by Larissa Zimberoff on February 6th about Jasper Hill Farm, a cheese producer, and their recent investment in science. Cheese making usually begins with a starter culture to help the proper bacteria grow, and most farms buy starter cultures from the few providers that sell them in the U.S. Jasper Hill Farm is part of the new trend of dairy farmers partnering with scientists and creating their own starter cultures.

Photo Credit: Roxanne Ready

This is an entertaining article with multiple elements that make it more compatible with  multimedia journalism. First, it’s an entertaining subject: cheese. It’s also quite different from many of the articles published by major publications recently relating to politics.

The article also includes a number of visual elements. The first image is dynamic and
entertaining. It is of Jasper Hill cheese makers standing in front of their barn painted with cows flying in space. It is also a fairly long article, which is usually a negative for online posts because readers rarely make it to the end of long articles online before venturing to another page, but the article includes six images that break up the text and make it easier to read.

They include a link to the NYT Food Pinterest and the number of comments so far toward the bottom of the article. These are both smart choices by the New York Times because they are able to gain more social traction from those who are reading the article.

The one problem with this article is that they link to multiple different sites throughout (cheese companies, scientific mentions, etc.), but when you click on the link, it doesn’t open in a new page. It draws the reader away from the main site and makes them less likely to read more New York Times articles.

Social Media Scavenger Hunt

Here is the link to my storify for my Social Media Scavenger Hunt. This was an assignment I struggled with because I found that I don’t spend a lot of time with people. This made it tough for me to get photos with people in them. I also was turned down by a lot of professors when I asked for a photo of them, so I’m going to try to get a photo and tweet of one next week because I will be out of town this weekend.

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