Welcome to J-News!

This is a training site and news outlet run by journalism students at the School of Communication, Illinois State University.

Covering a range of topics, from general news and heath to entertainment and sport, it aims to give readers a glimpse of the events  and personalities that make ISU a thriving campus, as well as reporting more widely on the Bloomington Normal area.

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Warming Centers Help Students Battle the Freezing Weather


IDHS office in McLean County is a warming center open due to the cold weather

The state opened warming centers Monday due to the freezing temperatures that have taken over the weather in the last couple of weeks. The people of Bloomington are encouraged to stop by and stay warm as they take on their daily activities.
The temperature highs in the upcoming days are below freezing, and the wind-chill makes it especially brutal. The weather is making it difficult for students at Illinois State University to get to and from their classes.
Davey Colcol, a 23-year-old ISU student, says “It is cold. I’m not a fan. I’m a summer guy. I don’t like to be cold. It’s bad. The wind-chill when you’re walking past Watterson and you get hit right in the face. It’s too cold. I could barely walk to class. I hate it. I want it to go back to 90 degrees. August.”
Colcol is strongly considering visiting an Illinois Department of Human Services office between classes to keep warm during his studies. He appreciates the state taking quick action to keep the people in the area warm.
The warming centers near the Bloomington area are located on Washington Street and Prospect Road. They are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Governor Pat Quinn has opened over 100 offices throughout the state.
Bloomington Public Works official Eric Jome had words of advice for people fighting the chill. “Make sure you bundle up. Pay attention to your friends and make sure you stay warm,” he says. Jome urges people to take advantage of the warming centers if they need assistance in the cold weather.
Seniors and children are the most vulnerable to sicknesses from the recent temperature plunges. Hypothermia is one of the fatal conditions that people should be aware of when they go outside. Other people who have increased risks of getting sick are those on medication or those who lack proper nutrition.
Officials are encouraging everyone to set their thermostats to 65 degrees or above, and they urge people to dress in multiple layers if they plan on going out. Additional factors that help people avoid sickness include staying physically active along with eating and drinking well.
Emma Vierck, a 20-year old ISU student and staff member at the recreational center for the university, agrees with the necessity to stay physically active in the harsh weather conditions. “You still need to hit the gym. Can’t slack because of the cold. Next thing you know, you’re either sick or you’re a couch potato. That’s not good,” she says. “The winter is the most important time to maintain your health, even though people like to hibernate.”
Vierck doesn’t have enough trouble with the weather to feel the need to visit a warming center, but she says they are a great idea. She plans to acknowledge her peers on the warming centers because she knows some of them are struggling to adjust to the change in weather.
The IDHS plans to keep the offices open for the remainder of the winter, or until the temperatures rise significantly. Officials recommend checking up on family members and friends who live alone. The state is showing good effort to keep its people safe through the rest of the season.

Advanced screening for “Dumb and Dumber To” gives more than a sneak preview


Article by: Michael Balzano, John Hummel, Falynn Lannert

The Normal Theater will be hosting a free, advanced screening of Universal Pictures “Dumb and Dumber To”for Illinois State University students.  However, the students are not the only ones benefitting from the showing.

Emily Stopka, Universal Pictures student representative explained how Universal gets a boost from letting ISU students see the movie for free.

“We’re having the showing to promote the release of the movie to get people talking about it to others so more people will go see it,” she said.”

The Normal Theater also benefits. The cinema has been looking for ways to increase the amount of ISU students attending their screenings, so when Universal Pictures approached the theater about hosting advance screenings, the offer was too good to pass up.

The opportunity to screen  ”Dumb and Dumber To”was a matter of ”good luck and good timing,” said Pete Moore, Normal’s theater and civic arts director.

Due to these advanced screenings the Normal Theater has seen a greater number of ISU students attending the other films.  Last month, on the weekend celebrating the 20th anniversary of the theater re-opening, the Normal Theater showed  ”Forrest Gump,”and “Singing in the Rain.”

Before the start of  “Singing in the Rain,” Moore asked the audience to raise their hands if it was their first time seeing a show at the Normal Theater.  About one third of the audience raised their hands, many of which were college aged.

Because of this, the Normal Theater may start to show some more well-known films.  ”We’d still like to show many of the classic and foreign films,” Moore said, “But we might start showing some more well-known films and pairing them on the same weekend as the others.””

“The Dumb and Dumber To” screening will be held Tuesday November  11 at 7 p.m.  Ticket information will be posted on the Facebook event page closer to the date.

For more information about “Dumb and Dumber To” click here.

The Normal Theatre has seen more student audience members due to advanced movie screenings.

The Normal Theatre has seen more student audience members due to advanced movie screenings.

Take Back the Night

October 30th, 2014

By: Kelsy Brewer, Tracy Conoboy, Shaunda Brooks


Students take part in the Take Back the Night march through campus. Photo by Tracy Conoboy

“It was incredibly moving seeing the women who went through something so horrible speak out and raise awareness,” said Maddy Reid. “After the walk and the entire event, I felt stronger and I think that’s important.”

Maddy was one of many ISU students who took part in the annual effort against sexual and domestic violence through an event called “Take Back the Night”. This is an international occasion held by different organizations that seeks to raise awareness about those aggressive occurrences and to promote change.

Studies show that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined (domesticviolenecestatistics.org).

The event typically includes a safe space for survivors to share their stories, followed by a march that empowers women to “take back” the night. It concludes with a candlelit vigil to honor those who suffered from domestic and sexual violence.

Take Back the Night began in the 1970s as a response to violent crimes against women during late hours. Today, it is most commonly put on by colleges around the world as a tool for education and empowerment.

ISU organization, the Feminist Lead Activist Movement to Empower (FLAME) held its own annual Take Back the Night event in Old Main Room of the Bone Student Center on Oct. 21.

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz addressed the importance of this event on ISU’s campus.

“You know, I’m in this room for various meetings and events all the time. I’ll be in here tomorrow for a meeting. However, I can say that no time spent in this room is as important as the time spent on this particular day and the topic we are discussing,” said Dietz.

Take Back the Night has been a staple affair on ISU’s campus since 2008 and has grown to become FLAME’s largest event.

People who attend each year receive information about resources related to sexual violence prevention in their community and on ISU’s campus. This year, partner organizations such as PRIDE and Stepping Stones had tables in the room to offer information.

Take Back the Night is just one of the ways ISU continues to address sexual violence. Additionally, the university now requires students to take a mandatory online Consent and Respect Course and has introduced a “Friendly Faces” campaign that offers assistance to those suffering from domestic violence from certified faculty, staff and students.


President Dietz and students light candles as part of the Take Back the Night vigil. Photo by Tracy Conoboy.

Combat Club does not Larp

By: Stephanie Fisher, T’Keya Hicks, Eileen Ehrlich

Medieval Combat Club members practice on the quad.

Medieval Combat Club members practice on the quad.

Battles between members of the ISU Medieval Combat Club are a common sight on campus. But when outsiders say participants are larping (Live Action Role Playing), it stings worse than the blow from a broadsword.

“It’s offensive, because we aren’t larping,” said club member Stephanie Schwartz. “We are grown adults, for the most part, hitting each other with foam sticks,”

“It looks like larp because most people get really into it by dressing up, but there are no characters.”

The Combat Club is associated with Belegarth, a medieval fighting society. It focuses on fighting and is split up into realms based on location, with each bearing a name given by the founding fathers and mothers. The realm at ISU is known as Wolf Pack.

Stephanie Schwartz has been a fighter in the Medieval Combat Club at ISU for two years. Her involvement, she says, is “just a fun way to break the ice and make new friends. It takes away the awkwardness of small talk and makes you insta-friends by hitting each other.”

Participants can choose to be character with a combat name but it is not necessary and there are no advantages or disadvantages in doing so. People take part in in for the combat, not the story line.

Schwartz cannot pick one over the other since she has not larped, but finds enjoyment participating in combat and playing RPG games. Before coming to ISU she had not participated in real life.

“It is a compilation between art, fighting and a work out because everything you want in IMG_0703just a little time,” experienced fighter Nathan Sigler, who goes by Aroodo      said. When it comes to Belegarth, “we do the full contact version, my fighting style against yours.”

In Live Action Role Play, each participant selects a character and plays as such throughout their experience. It can be anything from a scholarly dark elf to a temperamental half ogre. Each selection comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, participants can choose to be a magical character who can cast spells to do anything from forming a temporary river to healing themselves and even teleporting. “I saw a video where a guy said ‘fireball’ and that was my first introduction to larping.”

Combat Club can be found on the quad Tuesdays and Thursdays 4 p.m. until it gets dark and Sundays 2-5 p.m.

Milner Library Lets in the “Freaks”


By Bridget Truskey and Jon Pachura

Roll up, roll up…see a ring worn by a sideshow giant and the tiny shoes of of Tom Thumb’s diminutive bride, and all without setting a foot off campus. Milner Library is set to venture under the big top and into the unknown as they unveil an exhibit featuring circus sideshows. “One of Us: Sideshows, Freaks, and the Unexplained,” will take place in the library’s Special Collections section on the sixth floor from October 27th until December 12th. It features artifacts, collections, speakers, and other circus-related attractions.

While the exhibit is bound to attract those interested in the abnormal and taboo, the Special Collections section itself is one of Illinois State’s hidden treasures. “Not many people know about it,” said Megan Dowling, Milner Library employee. “It’s a shame because it’s so interesting. They have books in there that are hundreds of years old, exclusive to Milner.”

True to Dowling’s words, Milner’s Circus and Allied Arts section of Special Collections is interesting in and of itself, being one of the largest collections of its kind in existence. It holds 8,000 volumes of books, along with photographs, posters, programs, band scores, and so much more related to carnivals, sideshows, circuses, and vaudeville.

“They make you wash your hands before you go in,” said Emily Meadow, frequenter of the Special Collections section. “That’s how protective they are of the content.”

The exhibit couldn’t have come at a better time. With Halloween just days after the opening, students are already in the mood for the macabre. Not to mention the monstrous popularity of the television series American Horror Story with its current season about a 1950s freak show. “I really didn’t have any interest in freak shows before watching this season,” said Kevin Oboikovitz, avid American Horror Story fan. “They make it in a way that ties old history and superstitions into it. It’s pretty interesting. I’d be curious to see if the exhibit had any information to back those up.”

“One of Us” is set to explore the division between so-called “freaks of nature” and the “normal” people who viewed them as a form of entertainment. Highlighting this at 4 P.M. on November 4th will be Kate Browne, an Illinois State doctoral student who will be giving a talk at the exhibit titled “What You Can Tell By Looking: Disability, Language, and the Power of Description.”

Browne, who has studied disabled women’s life writing, circuses, and sideshows, will describe how shunning bodily differences affects more than just the person.

Browne is just one of many draws to the sixth floor of Milner over the next couple of months. Artifacts dating the 18th century to the present will be displayed, including a ring worn by a sideshow giant and the wedding shoes of Tom Thumb’s wife. The exhibit will undoubtedly unveil an interesting, controversial, and sometimes overlooked portion of history.