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A Reflection on Media Sensationalism


Many of us probably have similar experiences of Hurricane Florence’s four day trudge through the Carolinas. We spent days, maybe even weeks, watching the “cone of possibility,” obsessing over every shift westward or eastward, constantly calculating the chances of school canceling, offering our own takes. And then, as the hurricane came closer and dipped south of us, weakening earlier than expected, we settled in begrudgingly to a period of seemingly pointless house arrest. It was rainy, windy, and maybe our lights flickered a couple of times, but overall, this “hurricane” didn’t seem like much of a crisis here in Cary.

Hurricane Florence was a crisis, though, for many in eastern North Carolina and along the coast. Even though it wasn’t quite what forecasters expected, it still brought severe flooding and wind damage. It affected thousands–taking their electricity, their homes, and in some cases, their lives.

I spent most of this tropical storm in my room, fiddling around with the Common App, checking Instagram and Twitter, and thinking about getting things done. I also checked the weather every once in a while, gawking at the live stream of a shredded American flag in the middle of the ocean (at Frying Pan Tower) before venturing into mainstream news websites to see the national coverage of our storm.

Sometimes it’s hard, as we lounge about in our comfortably dry houses, to fully grasp the weight of a storm like this. We need reminders of the severity. But on sites like CNN or the Weather Channel, the storm becomes something beyond a natural disaster; it’s a spectacle, a source of entertainment. Dramatic all-caps fonts, menacing graphics, and buzz-words fill the pages. This hurricane is no joke, but it seems like large media corporations are less motivated by saving lives, and more motivated by generating buzz, clicks, and ultimately, money.

Media coverage is one of the best ways to warn people about an upcoming threat and urge them to prepare, to save lives. It’s a gift that we have the internet and Twitter and caring public figures that all spread the word. But once the storm starts, do we really need constant updates on something as sensitive and serious as a death toll?

Statistics like death tolls are important for measuring the effect of and response to a storm, but clickbait-y real-time updates trivialize the lives lost, making a hurricane scoreboard out of them. As I saw Florence’s toll start at four, jump to nine, and then to thirteen, I felt a disconnect between the numbers and the actual people. And while that’s true of nearly any statistic, perhaps we need time to grieve more fully for individuals before tacking them on to a growing count. At the very least, death toll numbers certainly don’t need to be eye-catching headlines.

But there’s hope yet. I stumbled upon a New Yorker dispatch on flooded hog lagoons in the wake of Hurricane Florence. An article like this exposes a reader to more than what’s at hand; it shows the connections between the environment, our farming policies, and natural disasters. It interviews farmers who provide first-hand accounts of the larger farming industry’s disregard for the environment. Ultimately, it educates the reader’s perspective of the world, rather than reinforcing short attention spans with dramatic sound bites.

Overly-sensational news is here to stay. But if we could just shift our focus, and readership, to publications that dig deeper, that provide more fully human stories, we’ll only be more empathetic, educated, and ready to take appropriate action.

Your Guide to the 2018 Local Elections


Listed below are profiles on candidates running for the North Carolina House and Senate in Cary High’s district. This is different from the election for the U.S House and Senate elections going on. If elected, the candidates below will work in our state government, not the national government, to create and pass laws. The NC Senate consists of 50 members and the NC House consists of 120 members, but other than this the two chambers have the same amount of power, unlike the U.S government where the senate is more powerful. On February 6th, the Supreme Court ordered the NC Senate and House districts to be changed through the case North Carolina v. Covington. The Supreme Court ordered this change because it found that the NC legislature had unfairly packed African-Americans into the same districts to weaken their influence, a violation of the fourteenth amendment.


NC Senate District 16

Wiley Nickel (D): Ever since graduating from Tulane University with a major in political science and from Pepperdine University with a law degree, Wiley Nickel has dedicated his time to public service. He served as a staffer under both Al Gore during the Clinton White House and Barack Obama, who has endorsed his current campaign. In Cary, Nickel works as a local attorney because he believes that those on trial in the North Carolina justice system should be treated “fairly and compassionately.” He has a wife and two children, whom he loves dearly. His campaign describes him as a “progressive candidate” who wants stronger gun control laws, better public schools, and expanded access to affordable healthcare. He believes it is crucial that he wins because he wants to end the Republican supermajority in our state senate. He beat Luis Toledo in the Democratic primaries 55% to 44%.

Paul Smith (R): Paul Smith is a North Carolina native who received his BA in Political Science from NC State. He married his highschool sweetheart and has three children and eight grandchildren. He was raised to learn and respect the bible and taught his children to do the same, and today one of his sons serves as a missionary overseas. Although Paul has never worked in politics, he owns a small business with several employees. He is a self described “Christian Conservative” who has worked as a baptist deacon since 1972. He supports fewer restrictions on gun ownership, school choice, and strong borders. He ran unopposed in the primaries.

Brian Irving (L): Brian Irving received his BA from the University of the Philippines and his graduate degrees from Webster University and Loyola University. He served in the United States Air Force from 1967 to 1992. After retiring, Irving and his wife moved to North Carolina, which he grew to love when he was stationed here. He has two children and six grandchildren. Although he has never won a race, Irving has run as a Libertarian candidate in District 16 before. He believes that in order to achieve greater liberty in North Carolina, citizens need to have more choices when it comes to healthcare and schooling. He also believes that there should be less regulations on our economy, especially in regards to licensing, which he claims hurts competition.


NC House of Representatives District 11

Allison Dahle (D): Allison Dahle is a Raleigh native who received her BA in Theatre and Music from the University of South Carolina. She has dedicated most of her adult life to helping people with disabilities find jobs by working with the ARC and Columbus industries. In 2003, she settled down at a local law firm, married, and adopted two dogs. She is running for office because she believes that medicaid should be expanded, HB2 should be fully repealed, and common sense gun laws should be passed. In the primary election she beat incumbent Duane Hall, who faced sexual harassment allegations, 68% to 26%.

Tyler Brooks (R): Tyler Brooks received his BA in Latin from Wake Forest University, and then went on to receive his law degree from Vanderbilt University. In Raleigh, he worked as an associate for a law firm and moved up the ranks to partner. Today, he works with the Thomas Moore Law Center and has made a distinguished career for himself and is now a fellow of the American Bar Association. Tyler Brooks believes in increasing funding for teacher pay and school supplies, increasing funding for infrastructure, low taxes, religious liberty, and is pro-life. In the primary election he beat Shawn Hamilton 64% to 35%.

Travis Groo (L): Travis Groo received his BA in Communication Arts from the University of West Florida. Although raised in Texas, he has found a home in North Carolina, where he lives with his two children. He believes in less government restrictions, more choices for children’s education, lower taxes, and more choices for healthcare.

Ballot Measures– a bill that must be voted on by the citizens in order to be enacted

  1. North Carolina Income Tax Cap Amendment: If passed, this amendment will reduce the maximum income tax the state is allowed to take in from 10 percent to 7 percent. The current income tax rate is below 6 percent.
  2. North Carolina Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment: If passed, this amendment will enshrine the right to hunt and fish within our state’s constitution.
  3. North Carolina Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment: If passed, this amendment will give victims the right to know what is happening to the defendant who is accused of committing crimes against that victim.
  4. North Carolina Legislative Appointments to Elections Board and Commissions Amendment: If passed, this amendment will change the way the State Elections board is appointed by preventing the governor from appointing a member. Instead, four members will be chosen by the majority party and four by the minority party.
  5. North Carolina Judicial Selection for Midterm Vacancies Amendment: If passed, this amendment will change how judges are replaced if they vacate their seat early by installing a committee of people chosen by the legislature. The committee will nominate two people to fill the position and the governor will appoint one.
  6. North Carolina Voter ID Amendment: If passed, voters will be required to present a voter ID before voting.

Cells, Planets: A Reflection about the Fine Arts at GSE


Editor’s Note: Over the summer, Jake Bryant attended the Governor’s School of North Carolina  (a publicly funded residential program for intellectually and artistically gifted high school students) for Choral Music.

“Celestial” is one of the few words that can accurately describe the delicious harmony present when the Governor’s School East Chorus of 2018 sang the first few notes of “Cells, Planets,” during our closing assembly. We, the choir, were firmly planted on the stage, rooted in our desire to step out of ourselves and deliver this one last performance—his one, final, fleeting gift. The notes we sang were cast into the thick, swampy, air; soaked in regret and heartache, they drifted out to the crowd slowly, as if they were trudging through molasses. Our chests were heavy and sore, and the tears we shed that day could have filled pondsupon rivers upon oceans. During those five minutes and forty-something seconds, we were an amalgam of love and warmth. For a moment, the stage lights turned into stars, the audience into planets, and it felt as if we were exploring the Milky Way. For a second or two, we were perfectly positioned between present and future, and those five minutes and forty-something seconds were millennia and fractions of milliseconds at the same time.

I’m not very superstitious, but it was truly an out-of-body experience. I have never felt so warmed by music as I did in that moment. If it was not already clear how free we felt to express our emotions and empty our hearts, our uncontrollable sobbing surely proved that; everyone, quite literally, everyone, opened their hearts without any fear, judgement, or weakness. We were all connected, and in my opinion, music was the vehicle that brought us to that destination. “Cells, Planets,” the GSE 2018 Chorus’ flagship song, was the gut-wrenching, heart-shattering “song of the summer” at Meredith College. The lyrics discuss how cells, planets, and every other part of our universe are connected in that they are (at the most basic level) made of the same things, and that human compassion is ultimately what really defines the world. This prose—combined with the lustrous, effervescent music—made for a song that was performed at the exact right time, by the exact right mix of singers and for the exact right audience, and was able to profoundly impact every single student.

This phenomenon of connectedness—of being unafraid to trust and open up to those we knew quite well, and those we didn’t know at all—was not only present during choral music performances. Every single artistic discipline managed to arouse passion and empathy within anyone who viewed or interacted with them. Never have I been more inspired by artists than I was by the musicians, dancers, actors, and artists of Governor’s School. Each and every student fully committed to their craft, day in and day out. The achievements of my peers are certainly nothing to scoff at, either. The GSE instrumental music students composed music about the intricacies of time and space that was performed at the end of the first week; the theatre students wrote, blocked, and published a play within four weeks. Of course, the students of academic disciplines were just as fearsome, wielding their pens, paper, and calculators to stir change in even the most stubborn of individuals. They were peerless in their determination to begin dialogues crucial to progress. While I did have a uniquely deep connection to the arts disciplines, I was still touched by the academia of GSE on every single day of the term.

The opportunity to attend Governor’s School was something I deeply, deeply wish was available to every student in North Carolina. The emotional and artistic attachments and freedom we discovered are unlike any that I have, and maybe ever will, experience. Never have I been in such a supportive, uplifting, hearty, compassionate environment. The experience was once-in-a-lifetime, like a blue moon, or catching a hummingbird in flight: rare, precious, and the most absolute form of beauty. My time at GSE was like a shooting star—fleeting, yes, but encapsulating and wondrous for the few moments I was able to experience it. During those magical seconds, where my fellow choir members and I joined hands and parted in the form of that final performance, we abandoned our problems in bittersweet bliss. Our hearts had swelled to planetary sizes, and, for a minute, we were threaded together, like the thread that connects cells, planets, and everything in between.

ICE: The Facts


There has been a lot of controversy surrounding ICE since the Trump administration introduced its “zero-tolerance” policy, which has led to the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents. In response to this, calls to abolish the agency have emerged.

What is ICE?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE, is responsible for many things, including investigating the illegal movement of people and goods, enforcing immigration laws, and helping to prevent terrorism. They enforce federal laws, both criminal and civil, that relate to immigration, trade, customs, and border control. ICE was created in 2003 as a branch inside the Department of Homeland Security in response to the September 11th attacks.

Why are there calls to abolish ICE?

As more stories of immigrants being deported surface in the news, the calls to abolish ICE have grown louder. The claims that ICE is separating families at the border have helped spark this movement, but according to the ICE chief, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is the agency that is separating the families. Although ICE may not be to blame for separating families, they have been accused of multiple accounts of abuse. In April, The Intercept published an article about 1,224 complaints of sexual and physical abuse. Many people have started to call for the complete reconstruction of this agency. In an interview by CNN on June 29, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York stated, “I believe that it has become a deportation force and I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues.” She goes on to say that the U.S. should reimagine ICE and replace it with something that works.  

Did ICE agents want to abolish the agency?

While it is true that 19 ICE agents wrote a letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, they did not call to dissolve ICE. In the letter they state, “We propose to restructure ICE into two separate independent entities of HSI [Homeland Security Investigations] and ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations].” They explain in the letter that the two sub-agencies, HSI and ERO, have evolved and become so separate that “ICE’s mission can no longer be described as a singular, synergistic mission.”

How is ICE helpful?

Although ICE has frequently been critiqued, the agency still has many responsibilities.  ICE’s only purpose is not just deporting illegal immigrants; they also help investigate human trafficking, financial crimes, and the smuggling of illegal goods such as firearms and drugs. In congressman Higgins’ speech on the House floor, he states, “Last year alone, ICE arrested more than 127,000 criminal aliens responsible for: 76,000 dangerous drug offenses; 48,000 assault offenses; 11,000 weapons offenses; 5,000 sexual assault offenses; 2,000 kidnapping offenses; 1,800 homicide offenses.” He continues to say that ICE rescued 518 victims of human trafficking and made more than 4,800 gang related arrests.  

Summer Music Roundup

This summer has been an exciting time for music, with big releases from pop stars (Ariana Grande, The Carters, Troye Sivan, Shawn Mendes, Kanye West) and indie stars (Father John Misty, Mitski) alike. Below I’ve compiled just a few of the noteworthy records from the summer months as my first reviews for The Page.


This summer has been an exciting time for music, with big releases from pop stars (Ariana Grande, The Carters, Troye Sivan, Shawn Mendes, Kanye West) and indie stars (Father John Misty, Mitski) alike. Below I’ve compiled just a few of the noteworthy records from the summer months as my first reviews for The Page.

Lush – Snail Mail

Snail mailOn her major-label debut, Lindsay Jordan, the nineteen year-old solo artist behind Snail Mail, rejects the notion that rock music has to be catchy. Not one of the songs on Lush will be stuck in your head after the first listen, but that’s part of what makes this record special. Jordan’s unpredictable—sometimes erratic—melodies leave room for the raw emotional power of her lyrics; a simple word like “Anyways” is a punch to the gut, a shift in tempo a knockout blow. When she sings “I’m feeling low/ I’m not into sometimes,” her every inflection is tired but desperate, recalling high school heartbreaks and summer ennui. Clearly, Jordan is a talented guitarist, and with her interesting rhythms she makes the most out of a guitar-bass-drum sound plenty-heard in indie rock music. Sure, the songs start to blur together by the end of the record, but so do the bittersweet summer days Lindsay Jordan sings of—days where it’s a “hard trip to the kitchen sink” and anxieties about friends and lovers abound. It may sound sad, but when Jordan sings, “And if you do find someone better/ I’ll still see you in everything/ for always, tomorrow and all the time,” she finds a silver lining in life’s ups and downs: the memories that last forever.

Grade: B+

God’s Favorite Customer – Father John Misty

FJMIt’s easy hate to Father John Misty. Once a drummer of the ultimate so-hipster-it’s-not-even-hipster-anymore band of the late 2000s (Fleet Foxes), Josh Tillman traded in his flannels and bandmates for sleeker suits and a project of his own. And ever since, it’s felt as though Tillman thinks he’s too brilliant to be spotted in the background of Fleet Foxes videos tapping boredly on a cowbell; his solo project under the name Father John Misty has been grand in every sense—at times overwhelmingly sarcastic, sincere, witty, and silly—to the point that many find him egotistical, even insufferable. But God’s Favorite Customer finds him at his most likable and accessible. His best attributes remain, but in smaller, more tasteful doses. There’s pleasing folk-pop in “Mr. Tillman,” wry balladry in “Please Don’t Die,” and dark humor in “Hangout at the Gallows.” It’s hard to believe that Misty put all that much time into these thirty-eight minutes of crowd-pleasers, but crowd-pleasers they are nonetheless.


Grade: B

Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes

Shawn MendesSometimes it feels like Shawn Mendes is simply a product of the popular music industry, a one-size-fits-all star for the masses. However, on his self-titled album, Mendes shows some promising signs of humanity. “In My Blood” soars above the rest of the tracks as a testament to Mendes’ own struggles with anxiety, offering glimpses of him “laying on the bathroom floor,” an image more vivid and intimate than anything he’s offered before. The production on this track is more mature than the acoustic Ed-Sheeran-and-Justin-Bieber-inspired style that dominates his earlier work and, unfortunately, the rest of the album. While a few other tracks have some bite, namely “Lost in Japan” and “Youth,” the rest feels bland, starting with the same rhythm guitar strums and building on familiar folk-pop melodies.

At times, Mendes’ “heartbreak” songs veer into awkward corners lyrically; on “Queen” his condemnation of a woman’s refusal sounds so overtly narcissistic (and sexist?) that it’s hard to believe anyone thought it was a good idea. But, alas, it is a very catchy, fun melody—my favorite, in fact—and while the lyrical and musical content may be lagging on Shawn Mendes’ third LP, there’s at least one moment for everyone that will make them sing along or smile.

Grade: C+

Sweetener – Ariana Grande

Ariana GrandeAriana Grande’s Sweetener could be compared to a kiddie ride at an amusement park: bouncy, colorful, and light, but almost too easy. It’s more “experimental,” you may say, than typical pop albums, but there’s nothing risky about it. Grande knows what her audience wants and expects: her music matches perfectly with her pale-pink, bubblegum aesthetic. Every synth, every electric harp, every tinny drum beat on Sweetener sounds straight from a child’s toy set, and occasionally, the pop-diva whips out the Xylophone—in case you hadn’t caught on to her “I’m a little girl” vibe. Some songs make the most out of this style–songs like “sweetener,” a sped-up piano ballad with a fun trap twist, and my personal favorite, “successful,” a funk pop jaunt with frequent reminders of how…wait for it…successful Grande is. Of course, you’ve probably heard “no tears left to cry” on the radio a few hundred times by now, but it fits in well on the album and serves as a good sample of its sound, even if Grande’s vocals never quite reach the drama of “Right now I’m in a state of mind/ I wanna be in like all the time.” Ultimately, Sweetener is an escape, a celebration of pleasure that leaves you with a sugar high.

Grade: B

A Gross Overstepping of Boundaries


Following a closed door meeting between Trump and Putin during the recent Helsinki summit, many liberals are calling on Marina Gross, Trump’s interpreter, to reveal what occurred in that confidential meeting. Such demands are uncalled for and dangerous to the jobs of our interpreters and American diplomatic relations.

Interpreters are hired not only for their linguistic abilities, but also for their ability to keep important matters and discussions private. As Yuliya Tsaplina, a Russian interpreter, states, “We are only as valuable as we can interpret faithfully, accurately, and keep things in confidence.” Demands for information, such as a motion from Adam Schiff — head Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — to subpoena Ms. Gross, show a distinct lack of respect and consideration for the code of ethics and laws of labor by which interpreters function. We all are curious as to what was discussed between Putin and Trump, but liberals are targeting an innocent bystander, Ms. Gross, for simply doing her job; if information about this meeting is to be revealed, it should done by Trump himself, rather than dragging Marina Gross in front of a congressional committee and soiling the interpreting profession she has worked in for decades.

Subpoenaing Ms. Gross for information would also have unintended negative effects on our relationships with other countries. When discussing important matters and creating solutions, foreign leaders must be able to trust that ideas and discussions are kept private, and that interpreters will not disclose the content of these critical meetings America has with other foreign powers. If Ms. Gross is made to reveal the contents of Putin and Trump’s discussion, it will set a precedent for all American foreign discussions that we can not be trusted to keep things confidential. If, after every meeting a president has with another foreign leader, the discussion is blasted from the rooftops, why would other countries continue to discuss private and important matters with us? It is similar to how we Americans depend on our doctors to keep our medical ailments and confidential. If I, as a doctor, proclaimed your private personal health issues to the world, you would rightfully decide not to come to me with any other issues you might have in the future. In much the same way, foreign countries must be able to depend on the United States to keep private issues undisclosed, and if we demand information from our interpreters, this vow of privacy can not be maintained.

The pressure on Marina Gross to reveal confidential discussions reveals a dangerous precedent in the political search for information. As Trump’s presidency continues, the left continues to desperately search for evidence showing collusion between the Trump team and Russia. The pursuit of said evidence is not the problem: if information exists that shows undeniable collusion, it undoubtedly must be brought to light. The left chooses to pursue dirt on Trump recklessly, even at the cost of interpreters’ reputation and professional standing. The relentless search for scandal is not a partisan problem, however: during the 2016 presidential election, many Republicans did not care about the origins of leaks regarding Hillary Clinton, just so long as “Crooked Hillary” would appear corrupt. Did these Republicans care that these leaks came from Russian hackers and shady figures such as Julian Assange? Hardly.

In examining the lunacy of pressing Ms. Gross to divulge private foreign affairs, it becomes clear that America’s political divisions and quarrels continue without regard for how information is gathered. If we ever hope to have a country united in the pursuit of truth and facts, we must uncover conspiracies through bipartisan support and measured investigation. Trump may be wrong in keeping his Putin meeting confidential, but that does not make it right to betray the trust and ethics of others to reveal the information. If we as a country wish to reveal and remove corruption in our government and our president, we must do it together. Otherwise, our differences and disagreements are merely accentuated by the rash actions we take to bolster our own arguments.