Journalism Portfolio

Cover Letter:

When I begin writing something I never know where it’s going to end up, much like right now. I haven’t identified yet whether that’s a strength or a weakness because it both helps and hurts all my writing, including the seven pieces in this portfolio. I know as a writer I have challenges transitioning between paragraphs, I seem to jump from idea to idea thinking that my audience will be able to follow. I think I’m good at more feature-type writing including profiles because I’m good at picking out details. However, I think the seven articles that I’ve included sum up some of my best writing in both print articles and more casual blog entries.

One of my first stories was “Merrimack Valley’s Taste of Sicily,” and I chose to include this because I thought I had a good handle on quoting, and I think it’s aesthetically a good article. “It’s Our BEEEP City,” I chose to include because I like the flow of the piece with it’s tight, quick sentences. Also, I think you can hear the excitement of a baseball fan, and I also chose it because it went through a lot of editing and it changed drastically for the better. “Hidden Jewell in Southern New Hampshire,” is one of my best short pieces because it covers a lot in a short time. I think I did a good job with creating a story while also handing my audience the information they needed without dragging it out. “UML Men’s Basketball 2013-2014” includes a four minute edited feature video on the men’s basketball team and head coach Pat Duquette, and so I included it to show that I’ve done video and audio work, and also that a much longer article can still have an effect with the video restating the main points. I focused a lot on my transitions in this article, and I think it was an overall good story. Howl Magazine’s Issue 1 featured two of my pieces, a short feature called “El Potro,” and a St. Patrick’s day run-down called, “ShamROCK Best Bars to Get Your Irish On.” I learned so much when I wrote these two articles that I thought they were a big part in the way that I write journalism today. I had the most difficulty with “ShamROCK,” because it needed to be in before print deadline, and a lot of venues didn’t have the information yet. I think it was important to provide a story that wasn’t a feature and couldn’t be printed at any time. Also, they both asked for a punchy tone, and condense writing, which was challenging and rewarding. Lastly, “Boylston, Back Bay, Back to Boylston: This Is Our City, Part Two,” is included because it’s a much more casual type of writing through blogging. I thought it was really honest, and fun. I know that I took a lot of liberty in my chose of italics and bold typeface, but I think it gives my audience an idea that I can write carefree, and give them a lot of my personality. I do think I could have done a lot better with organization and focus, it sounded too much like a journal entry.

Overall I think all the pieces show something different whether it’s that I can chose interesting quotes, a can write tightly, or that I can be creative while still providing a story.

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Resume:

Kristen Carraher Resume 2014

 

Stories:

Merrimack Valley’s Taste of Sicily

It’s Our BEEEP City

Hidden Jewell in Southern New Hampshire

UML Men’s Basketball 2013-2014

Howl Magazine Issue 1

Boylston, Back Bay, Back to Boylston: This Is Our City, Part Two

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UML Men’s Basketball 2013-2014

The UMass Lowell Men’s Basketball team’s recent move from Division II to Division I in the America East Conference isn’t the only thing that the team is getting used to — they’re also learning how to work together and find their rhythm with a new coach in a new program.

It’s been 10 years since the last Men’s Basketball Championships at UMass Lowell, where the 2003-2004 team soared into the Elite Eight in the NCAA’s Tournament Northeast Region Championships for their second year in a row, but that’s not holding down any of the players in the 2013-2014 season. Division I is a whole new playing field and each player knows that they need to work harder than ever.

“Even though we’re not playing the Dukes, and the Kentuckys on a regular basis, we’re in the same general league, we’re part of the same game, and it’s exciting,” said head coach Pat Duquette.

Division I Men’s Basketball is sometimes only thought of through the games of conferences like the ACC, Big Ten, or Big East. UMass Lowell’s boundless advancements indicates its ambition to be a top university with a top athletic program.

“Someday we’ll be in that tournament with all those other teams,” said Duquette.

The team strives to better their play-by-play instead of focusing on their 1-9 overall record, but it’s always in the back of their mind. Four out of five of their starting players are upperclassmen, and will leave the future of the team to the younger players at the end of the season.

Most of the players have had to make the switch from DII to DI, while some players have entered the program straight from high school. The mix of experience means that Duquette and his staff have a lot of work to get the team on the same track.

Going into the season with a lot of experience at the guard position meant that Duquette had to utilize his players the best he could, and teach them to use their knowledge to their advantage. He wants to highlight their skills, and teach them to play a better game.

“We’re not where we want to be yet, but I can assure you, we’re going to get there,” said senior center Parris Massey who transferred into the program after an injury at Sacred Heart University, also a DI program in the Northeast Conference.

Duquette realizes the struggles of putting together a new program, and says, “our players have been great, and they’ve made it a lot of fun for our coaches.”

Duquette was formerly an assistant coach for Northeastern University as well as Boston College, both Division I programs, which will be undeniably useful in coaching the Riverhawks towards future success.

The game plans are mostly focused on the current season and players rather than focusing on the long-term plans for recruits and championships.

“I know how important recruiting is, but I think it’s all about your current players first,” that’s not to say he doesn’t hope to play with the bigger DI teams in the future of UMass Lowell’s basketball program.

“This campus sells itself, and the Tsongas Center, our future home is a beautiful facility,” said Duquette.

The Riverhawks take the floor for the first time at Tsongas Center on December 21 at 2:00 p.m. against Duquense.

“He connects with us, he’s a good guy,” said Tyler Livingston, freshman starter for the Riverhawks about his new coach. “It takes some getting used to, but everyone likes the new coaches, everybody’s friends on the team,” said Massey.

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This new camaraderie bodes well for the future success of the team. Their home opener hosting Brown University at Costello Athletic Center brought in a record 851 fans as they fell 76-87 to the Bears. Riverhawk blue filled the stands.

“We’ve got 10 of our last 18 games at home, so that’s going to help us too,” said Duquette about the lack of home games so far this season, hoping for another loud crowd at their game on December 18 against University of Vermont.

Appearing on ESPN sure has helped the team as well. Livingston and Massey laughed when asked about if they ever thought they’d be on ESPN in coverage of UMass Lowell.

“I did think when I was younger of course, but I had no way of knowing for sure, but it happened, and I’m glad it does,” said Massey. “I kind of knew, playing Michigan, playing some of the big teams we we’re going to play we we’re going to get some TV coverage,” said Livingston.

UMass Lowell’s known for their DI hockey program, the men’s basketball program is looking to change that in the next couple seasons.

The 2013-2014 season is just one part of the new men’s basketball program, and all good things take time and hard work, and the team is doing their best to work on both as of now.

UMass Lowell players are proud to be a Riverhawks, and proud to wear Riverhawk blue, and so is Duquette.

“I love being a Riverhawk, still don’t know what it is, but I love it.”

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Units: Video (1000), Words (850), Photos (100)

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It’s Our BEEEP City

It was a historic night for the Red Sox as they became World Series champions at Fenway Park crushing the St. Louis Cardinals in game 6 with a 6-1 win, the first time since 1918 that they completed the series with home field advantage. Tingles as we all flashback to Fever Pitch with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon cheering for the epic reverse of the Bambino curse in 2004. This season was almost as good. The reverse of the Valentine curse.

When talking numbers, the 2013 Boston Red Sox have had one of their best regular seasons finishing with one of their top-five best seasons with 97 wins and 65 loses, behind their 1912, 1978 and 2004 seasons (105, 99, 98 wins). John Farrell must have brought back some World Series magic from their win in 2007 as he returned to the Red Sox organization after having been their pitching coach for the 2007-2010 seasons.

St. Louis’ Cardinals finished with the same regular season record as the sox, making the 109th World Series the first time two of the top American League and National League teams have competed for the title since 1999. I think you can see that in the way the team played together, the instinctive habits they developed and the brotherhood they shared as we watched these two winning teams throughout their seasons.

The Cardinals earned their spot as the top NL team in the league. Rookie Carlos Martinez threw a 3.55 ERA in his first post-season with the Cardinals. What a life this kid must be leading in a top NL team playing at Fenway Park in the World Series at the age of 22. Does that make anyone else feel like they don’t know what they’re doing with their lives?

Last year’s season gave the Red Sox, “a tremendous amount of embarrassment,” as John Farrell, field manager, said during one of his post-game conferences. The 100th anniversary of Fenway Park was overcast by the 90+ loses, which hadn’t happened in almost 50 years of Red Sox regular seasons. Former manager, Bobby Valentine created controversy his entire time in the organization, especially with veteran players, even more specifically his known feud with Kevin Youkilis, who ended up being traded to the other sox — Chicago White Sox because of his physical and emotional commitment to the game.

I’m not sure Valentine was watching the same games as everyone else when he believed that he’d return as coach in the next season after post-game conferences full of talkative self-bragging after losing yet another game.

To much of the fan’s approval Toronto Blue Jays’ John Farrell, the sox’s old pitching coach, was brought in as field manager. Pitching problems have plagued the Red Sox for years with constance trades, and that was known to him. I think the general comfort with the clubhouse allowed for a lot more beneficial changes a lot faster than if someone else have been brought in.

This season, the Red Sox have had exceptional outcomes. Both new comers and veterans have worked just as hard to make the red sox play as a team again instead of as a bitter clubhouse. Koji Uehara finished his regular season with a 74 game, 1.06ERA. John Lackey and Jon Lester both had ERAs in the 3.0s pitching over 100 more innings that Uehara in the 2013 regular season. And first year, first baseman Mike Napoli hit 23 home runs during the 2013 season, and has signed already signed a 2-year, $32 million deal.

Most impressively, veterans and long-time teammates Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury continued to put in as much work as possible to hold the team and teammates together.

After hearing about Pedroia’s thumb surgery to fix a torn ligament during the beginning of the post-season Ellsbury sent a text to his teammate saying, “Is there any way you can play through it? We need you.” These are the types of things that make the Red Sox seem like the 2004, and 2007 team. A clubhouse’s camaraderie that counts of each other. A flashback to earlier seasons with Terry Francona.

The 2013 season gave Red Sox fans a sense of the true meaning of Red Sox Nation. 

2013 Red Sox Parade from Kristen Carraher on Vimeo.

Writer’s Memo: I need an ending, and I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. I don’t feel like my transitions are done well, but I never think those are done well anyways. I need to add the video.

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Commuters Hope for More and Less at UMass Lowell

Most UMass Lowell commuter students have said that people see them as part-time members of the UML community who miss out on the college experience. Three commuting upperclassmen at UMass Lowell talk about why they opted for lower student loan bills, and maybe less college party stories. Mary Connelly, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs explains how the university has tried to do everything they could to help commuting students, whether that be the commuter down the street, twenty minutes away, the single parent, or the veteran, be as involved on campus as possible.

UMass Lowell’s urban campus is divided around the city of Lowell with a North Campus (mainly engineering, math and technology), South Campus (art/music, humanities and nursing), and East Campus (residential). Lowell is rising as a ‘college town’ with many UML-owned buildings dispersed through the city as well as recent media attention in 2013 from well-known business industries including forbes and Business Insider.

Commuter students have expressed the hassle of commuting, but the many benefits to being at home. Three full-time English majors Brittany Caldwell, Niki Roberge and Johnny Phauk talked about life as a commuter. All three expressed the trouble with time management, and the difficulty of contributing more to the UML community, but the advantage of saving money and being home with their family and friends.

Johnny Phauk, junior, lives down the street from south campus with his parents and five sisters. He said that it simply wouldn’t be feasible for him to live on campus.

“Yeah, you can walk to campus!” said Roberge while listening to Phauk speak about reasons he chose to commute.

Niki Roberge commutes from Dracut, MA, which is one town over from Lowell, and said that it’s not hard to get to campus, but she likes living at home. Brittany Caldwell used to live in Lowell, but decided to live at home for her senior year. The English major from Newburyport, MA says she didn’t like living in Lowell.

“I found myself always going home, so I decided to save money this year and just live at home,” Caldwell said, even though her commute can be anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours with traffic. “I’m also on the cheerleading squad, so I’m here six days a week, sometimes twice a day.”

“I think student’s need an anchor on campus,” said Mary Connelly, who has been working with UMass Lowell since September 1987, as well as with other universities since 1979. She said that the university raises a lot of money so that students can work on-campus and spend their time connecting with the university.

“Stay! See what’s going on! There’s a lot,” Connelly said, while speaking about how she feels nervous for the commuters that treat college like high school where they go to class, and leave campus once they’re finished, living their lives with mainly off-campus jobs and friends. She also talked about University Crossing going up next year to be somewhat of a “hub” for commuter students; lounges, food, student clubs, activities, and resources.

When asked if the commuter students felt they were part of the UMass Lowell community, or if they thought they would be more involved with extra-curricular or club activities if they lived on-campus they agreed that commuting makes it hard to be involved, but not impossible.

“I just feel like if I did live on campus, I’d have a lot more experiences here,” said Phauk. “Yeah, you don’t get to spend the whole day with your friends, or have a roommate,” said Roberge. While the two of them do participate in some of the English Department’s programs.

Connelly said, “I don’t think we’ve broken it down so much by, you know, commuters, as, what is it that our students need.” Daily announcements, and student activity posters are meant not only for residential students, but for all students, including commuters. She urges students to sign up for the FREE (to UML students, $30 to Non-UML), November 2nd Women’s Leadership Conference. She said, “this is going to be one of the best programs that we have for women at this school this year.”

During the past semester, UMass Lowell has been moved to Division I in all sports, and become a member of the America East Conference replacing Boston University, who will move to the Patriot League after the academic year. The step up, however, includes a rise in prices for students. The most noticeable price jump was for the Fall 2013 mandatory commuter parking decals. Students say that UMass Lowell’s ambition to transform the city (20/20 Vision) has become a costly plan for current and future students of the university.

South Campus’ New Parking Garage finished in Summer 2013.

“I got a carpooling one [pass], so I paid for half and my sister paid for half, which is a little better, but you only have one so you can’t drive two cars,” Roberge said about the price of the parking decals.

When asked about the jump in prices for parking decals Connelly said, “they raised it on the admin and faculty too, there was an increase in all of these fees.”

UMass Lowell allows freshman to bring their cars to campus, something a lot of universities have banned, “we realize that so many of our students are working, we’re trying real hard to make sure that that doesn’t happen here,” Connelly said.

The choice between living at home, and living on-campus varies between feasibility, close proximity, as well as comfort, but students, as well as commuter students, have found their own ways to become involved in student life.

“Student’s time is like gold, and how you invest it is, you pick carefully,” said Connelly.

Writer’s Memo: the transitions are still a bit choppy and Mary Connelly gave me so much information and I wish I could have added it into the story better, so I hope that if I do end up submitting it to the paper I can make those adds-ins.

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Merrimack Valley’s Taste of Sicily

By Kristen Carraher

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LaRosa’s front counter with menu

Four years ago Barnard Street welcomed its new, and growingly popular café/bistro, LaRosa’s. Right off of Main St., the shop is “old school,” manager Melissa Gauthier says. Paul LaRosa is from a “straight off the boat” Sicilian family, who has always held onto their strong roots of home-style cooking where his stay-at-home mom made sure to always have a good meal for her family.

While preparing for their opening, LaRosa says he ate at all the places around town trying to figure out what he wanted to serve, which worked out for the best. Tiffany Vin, 21, junior at Harvard University in Boston, MA, said she enjoys bringing friends to LaRosa’s.

“The food is fresh and delicious! The portions are perfect, and the crew is awesome, and welcoming,” adding that it’s somewhere she feels comfortable and she would go on weekends. The menu ranges from ‘signature sandwiches’ as they call them, to classic Italian dishes, to soups and salads.

photo%203As a teenager, striving for cash, LaRosa started working at restaurants, finding that he actually enjoyed the work.

“It’s easy to get a job at a restaurant,” he said, “I just kind of fell into it.” From there on, he knew that it was something he loved, something that he was interested in, “a hobby as well as a passion.”

Why Andover, though? For a Sicilian-American family, who first began living in New York, later in Boston, it seems random to bring the business up to the New Hampshire border.

Salsalitto Turkey ‘Signature Sandwich’

“It’s where the opportunity came,” he said honestly, mentioning that there were issues of becoming just another café in Boston, where every block has one or two cafés. Picking a suburban spot, with a vibrant, growing downtown seemed like a great start-up idea.

Over the years there have been many different changes to the look of LaRosa’s, from displays to full reconstruction for add-ons. Its owner likes to call it “a face-lift,” closer to a “Euro-bistro café look.” Recently, they’ve taken out a dessert display and replaced it with a customer-accessible bathroom, as well as a bar serving beer and wine. LaRosa mentions the crowd drawn in.

“You can have a lawyer in a suit, a bride-to-be that just got back from David’s Bridal down the street, and an elderly couple who come in for their 6pm dinner all in the same day.” While Gautheir, a Central Catholic graduate, and brief UMass Lowell student adds, “It’s a good place to network,” urging students to come grab a spot on the back outdoor patio and have a drink and lunch with a classmate.

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Beer and Wine Menu

LaRosa’s is very much family-oriented and owner operated. The type of place that know their customers by name.

“It’s all about the love, baby,” LaRosa jokes when talking about the reason he does what he does. It is about love and passion for a business, but it also comes down to good cooking, and as he said, even his parents approve.

Writer’s Memo: I wanted to write a piece that highlighted places that I liked to go. I was having lunch at LaRosa’s at the time and got up and started taking pictures, and then asked for an interview with the people behind the counter, those people being Melissa Gautheir, manager, and Paul LaRosa, owner. I understand that it’s very editorialized, which isn’t a good approach to journalism, but because the assignment was so open-ended I didn’t think it would become a problem. I felt like I did a good job in organizing my thoughts, and giving an idea of the type of people that you’d meet as a customer at LaRosas. There weren’t many changes in the second draft, my interview with the co-owner (mainly an investor) fell through, but I didn’t think that it effected to outcome of the article.

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