Monday, October 10, 2016

Journalists in Danger: What Writers Face on the Front Lines

Field journalists are daring enough to face the reality of a situation in order to reveal the truth and get the real story. Many have fallen prey to risks that not only hinder their ability to produce a hard-hitting story, but create a situation that could threaten their very lives. It's crucial to learn what you can do to avoid these outcomes when reporting from the front lines. Here are three of the most common risks that apply to a broad base of field journalists.

Disease and Illness

When abroad, traveling journalists are at risk for mild to severe diseases after being exposed to a foreign environment. To avoid getting sick while in the field and thus jeopardizing your news story, be sure to be aware of the specific environmental risks of the location you're visiting. For intercontinental travel, this would mean researching water conditions and food quality. Even US-based journalists visiting a neighboring state must look into the local health hazards of a location. For example, that restaurant you visit for lunch could give you food poisoning, so check the Yelp reviews before putting anything in your body that may have harmed others before you.

Legal Troubles or Imprisonment

Even if you have a Master's in global affairs, there are undoubtedly some important laws you should be aware of in your new location. Do some research before risking becoming imprisoned in a foreign land. Though close to home, visiting a different state or province could be risky if you are unaware of regional laws such as speed limits, cell phone regulations, even eating while driving.

Culture Clashes

As a journalist, it's natural to want to push boundaries, but sometimes this could cause a situation that not only prevents you from getting your story, but from leaving the area safely. A lot can be avoided by respecting a region's local culture. This can come down to a question of altering your personality, such as keeping quiet when you disagree. Remember, your goal is to create a story worth sharing. Remain tactful and polite, so as not to spook the locals and spark suspicion. Before traveling, be sure you are up to speed with the local values and customs.

You may have noticed a common strain in avoiding field journalism pitfalls is research, research, and more research. Now that you've gotten some tips, it's your turn to prioritize and research the stigmas, taboos, and legal regulations of the place you're visiting. Remember, you have a greater purpose of spreading truth, so don't get in your own way.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and recent graduate of the University of New Mexico. She writes for many online publications and blogs about home improvements, family, and health. She is an avid hiker, biker and runner. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Off-The-Grid Food: How To Create Your Own At-Home Farm

More people are choosing to live “off-the-grid” because they feel that it gives them more freedom to live in an environment that has less government monitoring. There are no city utilities, such as water or electricity, and they even grow their own food to avoid having to purchase it from grocery stores. But while there are numerous individual residences of this style, a portion of off-the-grid establishments contain a much greater population of 20 people or more. This means that a larger number of resources are needed to provide for them all, especially when it comes to food. Because of this, a small garden plot of vegetables just won't do. Instead, an entire farm must be created.

Get Your Equipment Ready

It helps to have proper equipment and tractor care, from places like TractorTool, to help you prepare the land with if you will be farming quite a few acres. It simply takes too much manual labor to attempt to dig up so much soil by hand. Sometimes, off-the-grid communities put their money together to buy farm equipment, so they can all share it.

Prepare the Land

The soil can be tilled as soon as the last frost of the season has finished. If the ground is wet from spring rains, wait until it is dry though. Add manure from any cows or pigs that you are raising over the top of the soil beforehand. This way, it will be worked into the soil as you use the tractor.

Gather Your Seeds

It is too expensive to purchase pre-grown plant seedlings when growing several acres of crops. Seeds are a much more cost effective alternative. To determine how many seeds that will be needed, one must do some math. Calculate the amount of land that is available for growing. Then, determine how much space each type of plant will need and how many plants will fit in the area. Draw a grid out on a piece of paper that shows where each one must be planted. Add up all of the plant types too. All of this information will give you the seed volume for each type.

Plant Your Crops

Use the grid that you made to plant the seeds. Be sure to include some extra seeds in each spot in case some of them don't sprout. If space is an issue, and you are hoping for a large volume of crops, it might be tempting to overcrowd the plants. But this is actually detrimental to their health because they will not get enough sun if planted this way.

Overall, there are tons of great ways to create your own farm and grow your own crops. This is definitely a great way to have access to fresh and natural food every day.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.

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