News reporting philosophy: Charles Jurries is more of the “journalism is a mirror” school of reporting. While the mirror can only reflect so much, it is the job of the journalist to try to accurately portray what is there and what has happened, and fit as much in as possible into an accessible package.

– WGVU: Republican Lori Wiersma Enters Michigan State Senate Race

– WGVU: $10,000 To Be Awarded At GVSU Business Plan Competition

– WGVU: Public Hearing Set For Hudsonville Nature Center

– WGVU: GRPS Votes On School Closings

– WGVU: Grand Rapids Talks Asian Carp In Town Hall

– WGVU: Senator Levin Talks Economy In Grand Rapids

WGVU: Allegiant Air To Make Big Announcement At Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Onward, Armed Christian Soldiers

‘Vegas Night’ heats up GVSU (VIDEO)

From Hashtag to Turkey: Using Web To Feed a Community (VIDEO) (Broadcast script available)

Giving food, thanks to Grand Rapids

GVSU coat drive to help kids (VIDEO)

Grandville mall’s past remembered

Opinion: Do Local Elections Matter?

GVSU testing program to streamline internship forms online

Michigan Promise almost broken

Local newspaper makes ‘Advance’ in design

Kayaking for a monster of a cause

Annual Race for the Cure goes green

Prison art arrives at a Crossroads


Select stories from my earlier college days:

Channels make a move
By Charles Jurries
Web Design Editor

Television is going to change.

Starting on Feb. 17, 2009, all local stations will be switch over from analog transition to digital. With that switch will come better picture, better audio, and new terminology to learn.

The change is to free up airwaves for use by public safety communications (first responders, police, etc.) and also for companies who provide wireless Internet and phone services.

Janet Mason, President and General Manager at WZZM Channel 13, said digital television will benefi t the regular person.

“Consumers will have access to high definition television, dramatically better television picture, more channels, and better audio,” she said.

Each station will also be able to broadcast multiple channels of programming at once, which is known as“multicasting.”

According to Mason, the switch also allows stations to provide data services, such as “significantly enhanced closed captioning, that are not possible with analog technology.”

The Federal Communications Commission assigned TV stations their digital channels. In the Grand Rapids area, that meant different numbers than they use for their traditional signal.

Diane Kniowski, General Manager of WOOD-TV, WOTV, and WXSP, said“Consumers will now get even more channels for more voices and more information. The picture will be cleaner and clearer. The community will benefit as it will take less power to send the digital signal.”

“I think most people don’t know that if they subscribe to a cable or satellite service, they will not have to do anything. They will still receive their television signal,” Kniowski said. “The service will translate the signal for them.”

According to Kniowski, the transition to digital started 10 years ago.

Each station had to build a digital channel, while maintaining their analog signal. Next February, the analog channel will be shut down and each television station will broadcast exclusively on digital.

According to Mason, the digital channel numbers should not matter, because a technology called “PSIP” allows stations to assign their current channel position to TV sets.

Mason said they are currently broadcasting their digital signal on assigned channel 39. But if you have a high defi nition television set attached to an external antenna, the HD channel comes up as 13-1, because that is how the channel is assigned with PSIP.

Each channel can also split signals to broadcast another channel. WZZM has a subchannel with their 13 On Target Weather Network channel, which broadcasts on channel 13-2.

The move does not mean stations will change their position.

“The channel positions will remain the same,” Kniowski said. “And WOOD TV will still be known as WOOD TV8.” All analog televisions that receive transmissions from either rabbit ears or an outdoor antenna will see their channels go dark on Feb. 17, 2009.

“This represents about 600,000 households in Michigan or 18 percent of the population of West Michigan,” Mason said.

The Federal Government has set up a coupon program to buy converter boxes for television sets, which will allow televisions to receive the digital signal.

Rosemary Kimball, a spokesperson from the Federal Communications Commission, said the FCC is taking steps to educate people about the switch.

According to Kimball, the FCC is using news media, consumer groups, workshops, and other mediums to educate consumers about the switchover.

Kimball said target groups include “senior citizens; non-English speaking and minority communities; people with disabilities; low-income individuals; and people living in rural and tribal areas.”


Environmental justice prioneer speaks to GRCC
By Charles Jurries
Web Design Editor

Dr. Robert Bullard is a busy man.

Not only is he the director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center, he is also an accomplished author, instructor, and public speaker. He spoke to GRCC students and the general public at the Diversity Lecture Series recently.

Bullard spoke on environmental justice, a topic near and dear to his heart. He has been working in the field since 1978 and is considered a pioneer on the topic.

His book “Dumping in Dixie” is highly regarded in academic circles and considered the first book to really explain the concept of environmental justice.

“Having access to a safe and clean environment is a basic human right,” Bullard said. “Achieving environmental justice will make us a much healthier and secure nation.”

Bullard said the fastest growing part of the environmental movement is environmental justice, which he describes as a “grassroots, bottomup movement,” encouraging people to volunteer and make a positive change in the environment.

“It is important that we educate our young people about the environment and get them involved in solving the problem,” Bullard said.

With the Martin Luther King holiday not too long ago, Bullard had a few thoughts about how his organization tied in with King’s.

“The (Environmental Justice) Movement is an extension of the civil rights and human rights movement that Dr. King played such a pivotal role. We have made great strides, but all communities are still not created equal when it comes to environmental protection,” Bullard said.

“We must do a better job in protecting the must vulnerable in our society, namely children, if we are to achieve Dr. King’s dream,” Bullard said.

Bullard also mentioned that the environmental justice movement’s leadership includes a large share of women of color, which is “different form the mainstream environmental and conservation movement led by white men.”

In addition to speaking an author and speaker, Bullard previously served on the Environmental Justice Executive Order, appointed by then president Bill Clinton.

Beverly Weathersby, member of the advocacy group Our Kitchen Table, was in attendance for Bullard’s lecture.

“It’s long overdue,” Weathersby said about the environmental justice movement.

Weathersby said it is important for people to become more educated on environmental issues, even locally. “You don’t hear about (US- 131) polluting the city,” she said.

The conference was originally scheduled for February, but was postponed to late March due to inclement weather.

Faculty contract finally reached
By Charles Jurries
Web Design Editor

After a year of negotiations, instructors at Grand Rapids Community College have come to an agreement with administration on a new contract.

The 2007-2010 contract, ratified Sunday night, replaces one that expired last August. Negotiations for a new contract have been in place for months, with a state mediator working with both sides to narrow a list of disputed issues.

Early Monday, the faculty union met to ratify the contract. Per union policy, the number of votes for this or any issue is not released to the public.

Later, the Board of Trustees approved the contract by a unanimous vote.

Juan Olivarez, GRCC President, thanks the negotiators and said he was “very proud of the faculty.” Fred van Hartesveldt, an English professor and president of the GRCC Faculty Association, said faculty is happy there is a new contract in place.

“Faculty is happy that it’s done with, and were not getting any sort of hand wringing about it,” he said.

Keith St. Clair, a Social Science instructor, told the board that while he was happy a new contract was agreed upon, he was dissatisfied with the administration, saying he felt faculty were not defended well. St. Clair said he hopes the board will “renew commitment to defend and support each other.”

Gary Schenk, Chairperson of the board, later said the board always defends faculty and they are always welcome to attend meetings.

Over holiday break, a state negotiator recommended a small list of issues from both sides to a state Fact Finding process.

While paperwork has been filed with the state to start a Fact Finding process, which could take months to make non-binding recommendations for how to settle, neither side wanted to spend more months without a contract in place, van Hartesveldt said.

Because the contract was passed, Fact Finding will not look into the matter.

Another motivating force, according to van Hartesveldt, was having faculty members fill up the room at the December meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Facing increased pressure and the prospect of months in Fact Finding, both sides agreed to try something different and work with a smaller group of people during negotiations.

Van Hartesveldt said it was easier for a smaller group of people to agree on issues, as opposed to a larger group of people.

“It wouldn’t make it any worse,” he said about working with a smaller group.

Both sides were then able to come to a table agreement on a new contract.

One of the main sticking points for a new contract was faculty salary. In late November, administration proposed salary increases of 2 percent, 1.5 percent, and 1 percent over the three years of the contract.

Faculty was seeking salary increases of 2.6 percent, 3 percent, and 3 percent over the next three years. The new contract has increases of 2.5 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent over the next three years.

Cynthia Springer, Vice President of Organizational Development and GRCC spokesperson for personal affairs, said that both sides were looking for a resolution with “the goal of reaching an agreement as quickly as possible.”

“Both negotiating teams ultimately sought to reach as realistic balance between providing deserved raises to our faculty and being responsible stewards over our limited financial resources,” Springer said.