Tag Archives: Journalism

Beyond history, ‘Hamilton’ offers lesson in dangers of ambition

By Raho Faraha

San Jose, CA

You have married an Icarus,” sings Phillipa Soo broken-heartedly in the hit Broadway musical ‘Hamilton.’ Soo plays Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, who is devastated after finding out her husband had an affair with another woman. She continues:  “He has flown too close to the sun.”

This show is known for using an unconventional medium—musical theater—to teach history, and also for exclusively casting people of color to play America’s white founding fathers. But ‘Hamilton’ is also a lesson on the danger of ambition mixed with arrogance.

In the musical, Hamilton is portrayed as a highly-intelligent, headstrong, and ambitious character at the forefront of America’s birth. His ambition was fueled by a need to escape his penniless past in the Caribbean. To join New England’s elite faction, Hamilton becomes a major general in the Revolutionary War and marries Eliza Schuyler, the daughter of a decorated war hero. Over the course of his life, his drive turns him into a power-hungry politician who becomes Secretary of the Treasury. But he still wants more.

His arrogant and overly sensitive nature stem from a place of immense insecurity. But ambition can only hide deep-seated insecurities for so long. 

Icarus fell from grace when he ignored his father’s warnings, while Hamilton fell from grace when he published the Reynolds Pamphlet, needlessly exposing the intricate details of his affair and ensuing extortion. Both Icarus and Hamilton allowed their ambition to get the better of them. Ambition can be an asset, but these stories should serve as a warning: Don’t fly too close to the sun.

Kipnis preaches moderation

By Ryan Morillo

Miami, FL

Daryl Kipnis, the Republican candidate for New Jersey’s 12th district congressional seat, has a surprising level of moderation for a Republican running in the age of Trump. At a recent press conference with student journalists from The Princeton Summer Journal, Kipnis called for reason and compromise on issues like immigration, abortion, and NFL players’ activism against racial injustice in America.

In a discussion about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal program started during the Obama administration to delay deportation of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Kipnis said it made no sense to remove immigrants who have been raised and educated in the United States. He said that DACA opponents are simply “pushing politics over people.” As an immigration lawyer, Kipnis stressed the importance of increasing the number of immigration judges to help facilitate due process for undocumented immigrants. If elected, Kipnis promised to make the process of citizenship more affordable and accessible. However, he also said it is important to distinguish immigrants associated with gangs and drugs from those who are seeking a better life.

With regard to abortion, Kipnis took a pro-choice stance. “As a champion of individual liberty it is not my place to tell people what to do,” he said, putting him at odds with the majority pro-life view among Republicans. While he would personally not endorse abortion, he said: “I don’t think Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned.”

Kipnis saw the recent protests against police brutality and institutional racism by NFL players like Colin Kaepernick as reflective of the misleading debate “about patriotism vs. non-patriotism.” The true debate, he said, should be about discrimination against the African-American community by police officers. To solve this issue, Kipnis proposed the creation of mediation sites between the two groups. While it might not be a complete solution to the ongoing issues, he said, it is a step in the right direction.

Alums thrive in journalism

By Mauricio Vazquez

Dallas, TX

Back in elementary school, Gabriel Debenedetti would race outside every morning to grab The New York Times. He started with the sports section, so he could discuss the previous night’s events with classmates. Soon, he started reading the other sections too. Eventually, that young reader would go on to cover politics for New York Magazine.

Though Debenedetti is busy covering national politics, he found time to return to Princeton University, from which he graduated in 2012, for a conversation with students from The Princeton Summer Journal. Debenedetti mostly writes articles that shed light on the less salacious and sensationalized side of politics. He aims to report on important political events across the country that might not be as widely covered.

Sure, other topics might generate more buzz, but he knows his job isn’t to write viral stories. Debenedetti writes to educate others. “There’s not really a world in which people will not continue to need the news, and to need to know what’s going on around them,” he said.

Megan Garber feels similarly. To Garber, a culture writer at The Atlantic and a Princeton alum from the class of 2002, staying informed is crucial to one’s sense of self. “How can anyone achieve their full potential if they don’t understand the world?” she asked. Like Debenedetti, Garber sees her role as a journalist as educating others on current events so they can navigate the world as informed and thoughtful individuals.

As a culture reporter, Garber covers a bit of everything. When asked about her latest story, she mentioned a review she was writing of the new romantic-comedy movie, Dog Days. This is something that many forget about journalism today: Though heavy political events dominate headlines, there are writers covering fun, lighter topics, and that’s just as important. Many people grow tired of reading about so much negativity every day, and sometimes a funny movie review adds some much needed levity.

It’s a strange time to be a journalist. In the current political climate, some Americans are skeptical of the media and like to discredit reporters. And the “fake news” phenomenon doesn’t make the job any easier. Though the incentives to go into journalism might seem slim, the hunger for credible and well-researched reporting is precisely why we need more journalists.  So why are journalists like Debenedetti and Garber important? Because they speak the truth—something we desperately need.

Leaving the nest and finding myself

By Angela Kim
Valencia, Calif. 

Growing up, I was encouraged by my parents to “leave the nest” and experience as much as I could, but I was always overwhelmed by how big the world was. I was overwhelmed by the entirety of people, places and experiences the world had to offer, but also nervous about being away from home. So when I was accepted into the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program this spring, I felt ambivalent.

I left Los Angeles with unease, but once I met other students from the program boarding my plane, my apprehension gradually disappeared. I was now shaking with anticipation: I wondered what kind of people I would meet and what the East Coast would be like. Continue reading

Daring to dream of a brighter future

studentsatthetimes-FullColor-2By the Staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

Ten days ago, we arrived at Princeton University for the start of the Summer Journalism Program. We came from all over the country with different backgrounds and cultures, but we shared a common interest in journalism.

Today, we leave Princeton as friends and as members of the broader SJP family. We have had a once-in-a-lifetime experience and formed long-lasting friendships cemented through long days of workshops and late nights in the newsroom. Continue reading

Unpaid journalism internships may serve as barrier to profession for low-income students

By Ashley Jones-Quaidoo, Lesley Le Platte, Jeanne Li and Ellen Pham
with the staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

Like many aspiring journalists, Harvard University student Michelle Hu went hunting for media internships this summer. But as a student on financial aid, Hu had to consider money when making her decision. Hu simply couldn’t afford to take an unpaid internship.

In the end, she got an internship with Al Jazeera in Washington, and was able to pull together money to cover basic expenses—a $1,000 stipend from Al Jazeera and a $1,000 scholarship from the Asian American Journalism Association. Even with this funding, however, budgeting for the summer still wasn’t easy.

“I had to find a place with cheap rent,” Hu said. “Every time I bought food it was a conscious decision.”

At least Hu was able to find funding. With the economy sluggish and the news industry struggling, unpaid journalism internships seem more common than ever. And that means students from low-income backgrounds are facing a major barrier to entry in the industry. Continue reading