Monthly Archives: May 2012

Audio Report

Audio Report: Non-Profit Organization Promotes Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.

My audio report details a non-profit organization, known as the Virginia Council of Churches, in their efforts to help foreign refugees assimilate into the country as easily as possible. I interviewed a member of the organization who is interning for the group, and he shares with me the organization’s goals as well as his own future goals in helping others and how the non-profit has helped him grow as an individual.


Reporting for the Web

Multimedia Story: Damaging Pollution and Trash Litter Belle Isle’s Beauty 

My multimedia story desribes the environmental effects of trash and debris that is left by patrons along the James River and what is being done to combat such behavior and clean up the area.

Event Story: A Culinary Quest for Excellence

My event story follows the food truck court that was held in front of the Virginia Historical Society during the month of April and how small businesses in the area used to court to promote their products.

Beat Story: A Divided Voice

The beat story that I covered involved the controverial ultrasound bill that was passed by Gov. McDonnell that would require all women in Virginia to undergo an ultrasound before proceeding with an abortion procedure. Protestors outside the capitol building were arrested after days of angry defiance against the the bill.

Breaking News Story: To be or Newt to Be

My breaking news story details hopeful GOP candidate, Newt Gingrich, in his efforts to win the primary. Furthermore, the piece shows how the VCU community, both students and teachers alike, feel about Gingrich’s ideas, political philosophy, and overall ability to lead the nation.

Profile Story: Gregory Wise: The Road to Success

This profile story covers fellow classmate and Journalism major Gregory Wise and details what made him want to explore journalism as a career field, his previous accomplishments, and his future goals as a writer.

Audio Slideshow: VCU Expansion and the Effect on Local Businesses

The audio slideshow that I put together takes a look at how VCU expansion has affected locally owned businesses around campus, and whether the completion of the construction will positively or negatively impact the further economic success of those particular businesses. The audio shows the perspective of the head manager of Sahara Hookah Bar  & Restaurant and what he thinks about the expansion in regards to the future of the business.

Audio Report: Non-Profit Organization Promotes Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.

Damaging Pollution and Trash Litter Belle Isle’s Beauty

trash pic(Slug): Environmenttrash pic

Environmental impact on Belle Isle/James River abuse

Damaging pollution and trash litter Belle Isle’s beauty.

            An increased amount of trash and sewage at Belle Isle along the James River is contributing to a diminished sense of environmental concern.

By Michael Schuster

            Walking along the Belle Isle area of the James River on a warm spring day, it’s difficult to focus on the tranquility of a quaint outdoor spot as mounds of trash and sewage line the trails and banks of the river.

            For years, Richmond locals and Virginia Commonwealth University students have been flocking to Belle Isle en masse to enjoy the once peaceful serenity that the river symbolizes. Beer cans, bottles, food wrappers, and countless other items can be seen floating along the river and on the patron walking trails, indicating a strong sense of environmental apathy and a lack of respect for a Richmond landmark. A once family-oriented atmosphere now seems polluted and unattractive to a visitor who isn’t getting belligerently drunk and seamlessly disposing of trash in the water and on the historic park.

            “It’s really just a shame how some people treat Belle Isle. My family and I have been coming down to the river for more than 20 years, and it’s gradually become more intolerable and downright disgusting. There’s trash everywhere, sewage buildup, and countless homeless people that are completely taking away the beauty that I’m used to when I think of Belle Isle,” said Richmond local, David Price.

            As the environmental impact of these tragic occurrences continues to go unnoticed by Richmond city officials, the more susceptible the area is to remaining a den for trash and squalor. Some people just do not feel compelled to improve the conditions of Belle Isle and want to persist in treating this beautiful site with no regard to health, safety, and overall cleanliness.

            “It’s certainly become more of an issue over the last few years over the maintenance needed around the Belle Isle area. It’s a shame that people can’t throw away their trash in the designated trash cans down there and that people can’t enjoy the area like they used to. The Richmond Department of Health has been notified quite a few times about the issue and were strongly involved in trying to improve the damage being done at Belle Isle,” said Richmond Department of Health official, Corey Lewis.

            Although some health and safety agencies have recently become aware of the overwhelming environmental effects of a polluted Belle Isle and James River, there is most definitely a need for joint agency coercion to stifle the growing problem. Without a solemn dedication to improving the well-being of the park, littering, graffiti and other detrimental environmental and aesthetically unpleasing activities will continue to occur.

            “I’m really hopeful that there will be progress made in the upkeep of Belle Isle by Richmond officials in charge of environmental protection. It’s unfortunate that the trash build up has gotten so bad and people continue to turn a blind eye to the problem. I can only remain optimistic in a revamped environmental awareness surrounding the park and do my part to keep it clean,” said VCU student, Nicole Bayne.                                                                                        

With increased attention and a heightened concern over the environmental issues plaguing Belle Isle, students and locals alike need to do a better job respecting this historic Richmond attraction and picking up after themselves to help again make this area the scenic gem that it once was.

Reporter: Michael Schuster (703)-909-3513 e-mail:

Commonwealth Times:

David Price:, 804-338-0858   

Corey Lewis:, 804-864-2470

Nicole Bayne:, 703-600-9971

A Culinary Quest for Excellence

Slug: Food and Beverage Festival

Food Truck Court in Front of VA Historical Society

A Culinary Quest for Excellence

Througout the month of April, the VA Historical Society will host an array of food truck vendors to promote local vendors in the Richmond area.

By: Michael Schuster

The Virginia Historical Society of Richmond announced that they will host the first ever food truck court in front of the museum throughout the month of April, culminating a rich blend of traditional and multicultural cuisine for local residents in a unique culinary atmosphere.

             An unprecedented event of its kind here in the Richmond area, the food truck court will offer 10 individually operated vendors serving an array of both fine and casual dining options in the Museum District. Everything from clams and fried calamari to banana splits and funnel cakes will be served during the month long operation, combining a diverse multitude of food choices that anyone can enjoy as the spring months continue to roll in.

            “It’s such a great idea considering how great the weather has been lately! I think that the outdoor food court will encourage students and residents to experience a different eating experience and also be a good addition to people who are attending the museum. Their trying to mix that sort of Richmond local flavor with other cultural delicacies in a festive setting,” said local Fan District resident, Alexis Parker.

            In addition, history museum officials hope that this new food attraction will help to promote a higher number of visitors to the award winning museum. With an abundance of historic exhibits, films, and other interactive activities, the museum is aiming to use the food truck court as a source of marketing. However, many Richmonders have expressed enthusiasm over the prospect of enjoying authentic local and foreign dishes while engaging in an incredible educational experience.

            “My family and I just heard about this new food court and were planning on going to eat and check out the museum this weekend. It’s convenient, affordable, and definitely a great experience for our young kids. I just can’t wait to try some of these dishes I’ve been hearing about,” said Carol Farmer of Richmond.

            With food service vendor’s like Boka Truck serving an Asian-American-Mexican infusion of twisted tacos, to Dressed & Pressed serving gourmet salads, paninis, and other chef inspired delicacies, to Mister Softee’s Ice Cream that offers premium ice cream cones and sundaes, there is no wonder why local residents are intrigued and excited by the new outdoor food court.

            “I just can’t wait to get this thing started and help satisfy customers in the community. When I was approached about the idea of participating in the event, I knew it would be a great way to spread the word about my business and be a part of something uniquely special to the city,” said Executive Chef of Boka Truck, Patrick Harris.

            As the month long event kicks off on April 1st, there will undoubtedly be a sense of intrigue about the concept of the food truck court. “I’ve never heard of anything like this, in Richmond or anywhere else. It’s a really cool idea that I think is going to bring the community together,” said VCU student, Chris Hendricks.

            The event will run from noon to 6 p.m. throughout the month of April and will be held at 548 N. Boulevard St. in front of the Virginia Historical Society. Patrons are encouraged to make use of the picnic tables around the venue and also to participate in museum activities.

Reporter: Michael Schuster

Alexis Parker:, 757-289-4251

Patrick Harris:, 804-375-8543

Chris Hendricks: images for food truck story[1]


A Divided Voice

Slug: Social Issues

Social impact of the use of ultrasound before an abortion in Virginia.

A Divided Voice

Protests erupt outside the capitol building after Gov. Bob McDonnell passes the ultrasound bill.

By: Michael Schuster

         After protests erupted outside the state capital on Sunday afternoon in response to new legislative abortion laws, pro-choice advocates have elevated their concern over the moral legitimacy of the bill and how it will affect Virginians in the future.

            Virginia’s Republican Governor, Bob McDonnell, signed the proposed abortion bill into law on Wednesday that will require women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion. However, McDonnell and other lawmakers decided to leave out a previous mandatory provision of the bill that would have necessitated the use of a vaginal probe in some abortion cases, because of immense pressure and scrutiny from women’s groups and an array of pro-choice organizations. Subsequently, legislative officials also amended the bill to exempt the screening process mandate for women whose pregnancy was a direct result of rape or incest cases. The controversial bill introduced by the General Assembly reflects the ongoing debate over pre-natal rights and individual liberties, as well as the effectiveness of state abortion laws.

            “The new bill proposed in Virginia is just another conservative outcry to limit human liberties and choice. Women have the ultimate right to choose for themselves whether they want an abortion. It’s really just an intrusion tactic used by the government to oversee women’s private matters,” said Dr. William Fitzhugh of the Richmond Medical Center for Women.

            Pro-choice protesters gathered at the state capital in Richmond several times last week to combat the passing of the bill, resulting in the arrest of 30 protesters on Sunday for trespassing and unlawful assembly. Outraged proponents for women’s abortion rights expressed disdain for Governor McDonnell’s legislation and argued that his actions are an illustration of Republican lawmakers’ unwillingness to listen to thousands of women’s views across the state of Virginia. In addition, they disputed that the bill’s provisions were an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s personal life.

            “There’s no excuse for a bill that would require an ultrasound pre-abortion. Our society is under the discretion of political overreaching, and now it’s affecting Virginia women adversely in the way they live their lives,” said pro-choice supporter, Margaret Wilson.

            Advocates for the bill claim that the ultrasound requirements allow women the access to as much vital information as possible before finalizing an abortion decision. Furthermore, McDonnell noted that the legislation does not affect a woman’s ability to make a choice regarding her pregnancy, but rather gives women options in the child bearing process. Virginia becomes one of 23 states with a similar requirement for women to receive an ultrasound image before an abortion.

            “I think the bill is a justified and moral way for women to receive all the necessary information before going through with an abortion. The ultrasound procedure could potentially deter women from aborting fetuses and save innocent lives,” expressed pro-life activist, Allison Turner.

            As the debate over the legality and moral thoroughness of state abortion rights continue, both pro-life supporters and opponents of the legislative measures will resume to passionately speak their minds and fight diligently for their particular interests.

Reporter: Michael Schuster,, (703)-909-3513

William Fitzhugh, (804)-973-9976

Margaret Wilson,, (703)-445-9765

Allison Turner, abortion pic

To be or Newt to Be

       vcu pic 2Slug: Politics

       Newt Gingrich makes run for GOP Presidential candidate

       To be or Newt to Be

       Newt Ginrich attempts to win the GOP candidacy and VCU students react to his campagining and ideas.

     By: Michael Schuster

        With the Republican presidential nomination in full swing, the Virginia Commonwealth University community has been under immense pressure to align with one political ideology and select the candidate best fit to lead our nation.

            One Republican candidate who has been at the forefront of this political battle for popularity is former U.S. Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has had a storied career as a politician, which began in 1978 when he won a seat in the House of Representatives for Georgia’s sixth congressional district. He held this position for nearly 20 years, eventually becoming the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995, and followed by his appointment as the Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. Gingrich has certainly had an illustrious political relevance over the last several decades and is now looking to make the ultimate leap by taking control of the GOP and earning a selection as the next Republican presidential candidate in 2012. However, it’s important to gain a better perspective into how people really look at Gingrich here at VCU and how they believe he might fare as the next U.S. president.

            “[Newt] Gingrich seems to only be concerned about private sector economics and big business enterprise. He doesn’t really seem that alarmed with overwhelming domestic issues and social programs to better progress our nation. When he speaks, it seems like he’s just saying what people want to hear. I want more in a president than someone who just babbles,” said VCU business major, Alex Ross.

            With the presidential election just under nine months away, there has been a string of media attention surrounding Gingrich’s ability to facilitate the needs of the entire nation in a productive and meaningful manner.  There is an overwhelming sense of skepticism surrounding his political takes on foreign affairs as well as domestic issues, such as environmental concerns, economic undertakings, and social development programs for much of the student body here at VCU. “He [Gingrich] puts a lot of emphasis on his previous political positions and his ability to balance the federal budget. But most of the young voters today are more concerned with social reforms in education, the health care system, and the environment. If he’s elected, I think that it’s going to be a lot like the Bush era of politics, which is something that our country needs to move away from,” said VCU graduate student, David Williams.

            On the contrary, some of the older voters in Virginia are more open-minded about Gingrich’s capability for leading our country.

VCU Academic Advisor, Claire McMullen, said: “It’s important to recognize that every candidate is going to have flaws. Newt Gingrich is someone with a lot of experience in economic development and financial stability. Compared to Mitt [Romney], he has the political prowess and strength to rebuild the effectiveness of the federal government.”

As the primary nomination continues to heat up and the presidential election creeps closer, the VCU community and the country are going to have to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate responsibly. The executive is the leader of our government body and in taking on that honorable position must exhibit a strong degree of moral fiber, character, and makeup. Avoiding apathy and embracing the political structure of our government and the many issues facing us today will ultimately be the determining factor in how people vote in 2012.

Reporter: Michael Schuster,, (703)-909-3513

Alex Ross:, (703)-501-2477

David Williams:

Claire McMullen,

Gregory Wise: The Road to Success

For second-year Journalism major, Gregory Wise, writing and reporting news is something that has always been a natural gift and a convenient outlet.

“Ever since I could remember, the news has always played an important role in my life. I was immediately drawn to the whole process of dissecting news and being informed about important current events from a young age. From then on, I knew that I wanted to be a journalist,” Wise said.

Growing up in Alexandria, VA, a suburb of Washington D.C., Wise was instantaneously engulfed in the constant flood of news and media coverage based around our nation’s capital.  He attended local Mount Vernon High School, where he was widely known for his goal scoring abilities on the soccer field and less recognized for his journalistic goals. However, that realization would change on one spring afternoon, after the then 15 year old Wise suffered a season-ending knee injury that kept him off the field.

Instead of hanging his head, Wise decided to use his passion for sports as a motivator to start covering the local high school soccer games. He began writing for the sports section for his school publication, Em Vee Hi, and quickly became one of the best contributing writer’s on the staff. Shortly thereafter, he was offered a job for a Northern VA high school sports website called “Digital Sports”, where he would write feature stories and game summaries for local high school sporting events.

“He [Wise] always maintained a professional attitude when covering the sports section. His love for sports is so evident, but his character is often overshadowed. Outgoing, passionate, and good-hearted are the adjectives that come to mind when I think of him,” said his former high school editor-in-chief, Alex Reyes.

Looking forward, Wise is hopeful that he can use his undying love for sports as a basis to fuel a career in sports writing. He possesses an innate ability to remain unbiased in his analysis and coverage of a wide range of sporting events, yet also maintains the professionalism and sincerity that is necessary to become a great journalist. Although, he’s still very young and continues to develop as a writer and a reporter, it’s very obvious that he has the drive and commitment to bettering himself and those around him.

“Whenever you’re in need of advice on how to improve a story, he [Wise] has always been there to lend support and provide positive feedback. He has great patience and kindness and has helped me a lot to become a better writer and peer-editor,” said friend and English major, Chris Williams.

No matter what path Wise decides to take in relation to potential career choices, it goes a long way to see how valuable his presence has been in improving the lives’ of others around him. He will continue to make strides to pursue his journalistic endeavors using the character traits that he’s so widely respected for. For Wise, the future is bright and the sky is truly the limit.