Category Archives: Journalism

Designed to Fail: Pokemon Fandom Produces Culture

[This article was originally published on March 25, 2014 at Hidden Baltimore. It is co-written by Mary Metelski.]

Chris Betts, 21, and his roommates walked around Towson’s CVS Pharmacy late on a Sunday night, not seeking out a pack of cigarettes, but a pack of children’s sidewalk chalk.

They headed to Towson University’s Freedom Square, hoping to create a work of art capable of viral Internet distribution.

After hearing about “Twitch Plays Pokemon Red,” an Internet-based live stream that allowed a massive number of players to simultaneously control one character, Betts was enthralled by the potential inherent in the platform.

“It was more than just this novelty of a bunch of people fervently mashing commands into a game from my childhood,” Betts said. “There was this whole culture behind it. It was exciting, hilarious and altogether just this fascinating thing to me from that point onward.” Continue reading Designed to Fail: Pokemon Fandom Produces Culture

The Crossroads of Science, Art and Storytelling

So I came across this article in my Facebook Newsfeed and was intrigued by the headline. I wasn’t expecting much, but was quickly blown away.

It wasn’t till after reading it that I went back saw that it was written by Robert Krulwich, the gentleman who inspired me to practice journalism. There is a beautiful and engaging crossroads of art, science, storytelling and journalism that he taps into.

In my sophomore year, my Towson professor Dr. Peter Lev introduced my class to NPR’s Radiolab, which Krulwich co-hosts. The strength of his storytelling ability inspired an audio documentary project on Sleep Paralysis that I co-wrote with James Ficklin, seen below.

My hope is that come graduation, I’ll have some free time to continue merging my interests in the sciences and arts, whether that be in documentary, journalism, or otherwise. I’m forever indebted to Krulwich’s awesome examples and I hope that you find his writing as unique as I do!

A Brotherhood of Boards

(Featured image courtesy of Katie Simmons-Barth).

Where most people saw a paved road on a steep hill, Towson’s longboarding community saw an opportunity.

“3 am, when the sun goes down and there is no one on Cross Campus, we own that street,” said Kevin Abelmann, 20, a psychology major.

Abelmann brought a group of friends together one evening to longboard down Cross Campus Drive, and he invited spectators to watch and cheer them on. The response to their downhill venture was immediate.

“I mean the other day, my goodness. We had people texting us,” Abelmann said. He pointed at his enthusiastic grin and laughed.

“This was our reaction for like an hour long.”

Abelmann is the vice president of Towson University’s Glider Alliance, a group of students united in their love for longboards.

Continue reading A Brotherhood of Boards

Hampden is “Hipster Central for Baltimore”

As soon as you step into any restaurant or bar in Hampden, Baltimore, the first thing you will notice is the amount of beards.

Take Holy Frijoles for example.

One of the definitive markers of “hipsterdom,” the grizzly man beard growth adorns both the greeters at the door and the bartenders behind the counter, smiling back at you.

Local art hangs on the walls, affixed with price tags and contact information for the artists.

The animated bar discussion is focused on the performance of the  Olympic ice skaters. No one appears over 35 years old.

Frijoles, as the locals call it, is a microcosm of Hampden as a whole. This trendy weeknight spot for young professionals to hang out while drinking cheap Tecate and eating even cheaper tacos, works well to define Hampden as the Williamsburg, Brooklyn of Baltimore.

Continue reading Hampden is “Hipster Central for Baltimore”

Film Union Lobbies For 12-Hour Day

[Originally posted on Feb. 18, 2014 at Hidden Baltimore by Mark Burchick and Sarah LaCorte]

Editorial Note: On Feb. 22, this article was taken offline briefly and edited. The story had received over 5,000 page views causing Brendan Cathcart, a key source, to express concerns about the job security of unnamed sources who could be identified based on his comments. That section of the narrative has been rewritten to focus solely on Cathcart’s perspective and protect those who are incidental to the story.

Bracing himself for another long day on the set of the Netflix Original Series “House of Cards,” Brendan Cathcart pulled on waterproof mud boots and poured himself the day’s first cup of coffee. It was 8 a.m. in his Bolton Hill apartment.

Cathcart, 24, arrived at Patapsco State Park at 10 a.m., the location of the day’s shoot. He walked through the Civil War style encampment alive with crowded tents and burning fires. The air was muggy and clouded with swarms of bugs.  Horses used for the scene trotted in the background as crew members started rigging lights.

“This first scene was this person on this horse and they kind of did this re-enactment thing. While we were shooting the first day scene the gaffer had us go over to the first night scene which was at the tents and get everything ready, rigging the set because we were hours away from shooting it,” he said.

Coffee number two.

Cathcart is one among many film set workers that combat long working days and occasionally harsh conditions, all in the name of their literal labor of love.

Continue reading Film Union Lobbies For 12-Hour Day

New Social Media Allow for Online Dating, Collaboration

[Originally posted on Dec. 12, 2013 at my Journalism II Blog]

As she attempts to negotiate the rules of online relationships, Towson University student Katie Palmer, 22, prepares for an entirely different kind of dating game.

“One guy I was talking to I thought was 23, who was really 46. I found that out by cyberstalking,” Palmer said.

The recently divorced father was using his son’s Facebook account to talk to younger women, Palmer said. That was when she realized that online dating was something you couldn’t just “jump into.”

Palmer said that she spent time googling what someone should do when they meet someone online for the first time. She has since had two successful relationships develop from social media networks.

Palmer said that the perceived shame surrounding online dating is beginning to fall away as more and more people use social networks to meet and communicate online.

Continue reading New Social Media Allow for Online Dating, Collaboration

Towson EMF alumnus premieres latest film

[Originally posted on Oct. 22, 2013 at my Journalism II Blog]
Between rushing to premiere his found footage horror film and slaving at the editing bay on his most recent productions, Towson University Electronic Media and Film alumnus Chris LaMartina, 28, is tired.

On top of his 40 hour workweek at 15four Video Strategy, LaMartina has committed an additional 20 to 30 hours per week on his own productions. It’s 9 p.m., and sitting alone in the dark at 15four’s office, he reviews footage that a colleague edited earlier that day.

LaMartina works as a editor and producer for 15four. But on his own feature films, he wears many hats, including writer, director, producer, composer and editor.

“I’ve always sort of joked and called editing the dark night of the soul, because you’re forced to look at your mistakes and you regret some of the decisions you’ve made and you only see the negative because it’s a very judgmental phase,” LaMartina said.

Chris LaMartina
Chris LaMartina reviews a colleague’s edited footage at 15four Video Strategy. (Photo By: Mark Burchick/TU Student).

As a 2007 graduate of Towson University, LaMartina and his producing partner Jimmy George, 33, have produced seven feature length horror films, all of which have received DVD and Video On Demand distribution.

With the premiere of WNUF Halloween Special, his latest found footage work, LaMartina will once again share with the world one of the few things that makes him happy. Continue reading Towson EMF alumnus premieres latest film