Banjo – with Josh Vernon

            Josh Vernon, a representative from the new site Banjo, visited the SPU campus and showed students a detailed description on what it was exactly that his company did and why they were formed. He began with several examples of what Banjo’s main function is: reporting by location various social media posts. The concept was rather ingenious, where there is a direct link to eyewitnesses or onlookers reporting and finding sources and information an any event or happening; however, some of the ideas felt a bit overreaching and personal. For example, Josh talked to the extent of the reach Banjo has, specifically the photo identification ability that has been added so that words, numbers, and street signs and symbols can be recognized by the computer technology and pin a location of a post on a virtual map.

            I personally had an unfair advantage in the class because I had been at the last class session where Josh came and spoke as a guest. What was bitter sweet about his first presentation that I attended was that the world had just experienced a tragic loss with terrorist activity in Paris, France and benefitted the purposes of the exercise; with the heartbreak came many posts and updates from all kinds of people at the locations of the crime. Had there been another large event, hopefully one more hopeful and upbeat, then there could have been a better example of the use of Banjo.

            Josh was very polite and kind to the class and gave everyone several examples for uses of Banjo (one being a local Seattle restaurant competition and finding venues) and gave everyone a year-long student access to the site. Banjo would be best used for journalists on the rise for a quick and simple option for finding news stories and information.

Bryan Stevenson Challenges Christians to Take Action

by Bud Williams

            In Bryan Stevenson’s Tuesday talk, entitled “American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity, and Making a Difference,” he makes his main theme clear by saying that he wants a call to action for Christians in changing the national narrative of African-American, or minorities in general, to be viewed not as a hopeless group of irreversible crime but rather as a group broken by said narrative. He gives many examples of things Christians should do to aid in reframing the narrative, including staying hopeful, being brave, and being willing to do uncomfortable things, ending with the realization that everyone is broken, not just those in need.

            For journalists, Stevenson’s message may prove useful in changing the flaws he sees in the national narrative. Journalists could bring this issue to the attention to the public eye through either interviewing people whom Stevenson has worked with or interviewing Stevenson himself to get his level of insight on the subject and relaying that to the public. Another thing they may be interested in doing in the field of journalism and the media would be to get an inside look on the extent of his work by reading his published work in Just Mercy.

            For a documentary, the first few opening shots would be a little emotional, which for me might look like a wide pan over a prison where a juvenile prisoner is being kept (either reenactment or real footage), and move to him being forced into an interrogation room where he is to meet Stevenson. This would be reimagining the story he told of the young boy who went to prison for shooting his stepfather and got beaten and raped in jail (or another similarly emotional case). They would talk and reveal what was going on and then it would move into the bult of the documentary narration and interviews.