Category Archives: Journalism Practicum

Some stories I have written for my Journalism Practicum class.

Raniero’s Pizzeria

To enter Raniero’s Pizzeria is to walk into a swirl of smells associated with a classic Italian kitchen. Family pictures adorn the walls, giving a sense of welcoming to this local establishment, and that’s how the owners strive to make you feel- welcome, and like family.

Raniero’s offers a stone-baked, New York-style pizza that can be bought by the pie or by the slice. It’s the recipe that appeals to Ali Hedges, a junior elementary education major at Northern Kentucky University.

“Raniero’s has some of the best local pizza compared to their competitors,” Hedges said.

Raniero’s appeals to a college student’s budget by offering $1 slices from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. The shop owners also offer a “Crunch Time Special” every day from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The special includes a beverage, one slice of pizza, and a side salad for $7.25, which is comparable to prices in the Student Union.

Also on the menu is the 24-inch pizza pie challenge.

“My brother is a huge fan of the show Man v. Food, so when he decided to open the restaurant he wanted to incorporate some type of eating challenge,” said business manager Natalie Howard Ramirez. “It’s a 24-inch pie that a team of two has to eat in ten minutes or less. Around 20 to 30 teams have attempted it, and only eight have succeeded in completing it. The record is seven minutes and 23 seconds.”

The eatery’s rise in popularity since it opened in December 2009 has promoted the decision to expand its current location into the empty space next door that once housed Blockbuster Video.

“We’ve had a booming business and we are very fortunate to get the space to expand,” Ramirez said. “WE weren’t sure if any spot would ever open up in this complex, so we’re lucky it did. We will be able to seat over 100 patrons.”

Ramirez said they plan to stay true to the family atmosphere, but with the expansion they also want to cater more to college students.

“We’re going to be a full-service restaurant and bar, so we’re most likely going to implement a college night one night of the week. It will be 18 years of age and up, and we will offer $1 beer and $1 slices of pizza. We’re also considering things like a karaoke night and live music,” Ramirez said. “There’s not much to do right by campus, so we definitely want to appeal to the college students as well as families.”

The goal is to open the doors of their new establishment by December 1, or by the beginning of January at the latest.


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A Vegan Friendly ‘Eclectic’ Deli

For almost six years, Melt Eclectic Deli of Northside, Cincinnati has been pursuing its mission to serve vegan-friendly, whole unprocessed foods to its steady stream of customers.

This deli is fashioned after its name- with eccentric table settings and artwork. . On colorfully embellished chalkboards, the menu lists more than 20 sandwiches, half a dozen salads, daily soups and a few meal-sized appetizers, made daily from scratch.

“I opened Melt to provide a healthy local eatery for my friends, family and neighborhood,” said owner Lisa Kagen. “While I am pleased that many people enjoy the atmosphere and service as much as the food, my top priority is always the quality and sourcing of the food. “

At Melt, meats are free of drugs and hormones and breads are free of preservatives. The dishes are made in-house without corn syrup, trans fats or processed foods. The owners buy from local markets and vendors, and the boxes they use for carry-out orders are biodegradable or recyclable.

One NKU graduate student calls Melt one of her favorite small businesses, and plans on visiting them for dinner on Small Business Saturday, which is October 11. “When it comes to small businesses, Melt is my favorite,” graduate student, Lauren Stieritz said. “I take friends there all the time, and I’ve never come across anyone who didn’t appreciate the locally grown products, the original menu, and the eccentric décor.”

While you wait for your cooked-to-order meal, you can observe the collection of current art, or converse with the word magnets in the front dining room. In sunny weather, the back patio provides a relaxing atmosphere compared to the eccentric inside dining.

Though you’ll see classic vegan items such as seitan, rinotta, tofu, plus many other vegetables, Melt also appeals to those who eat a meat friendly diet. The menu includes meats like chicken, roast beef, and turkey on their sandwiches.

Melt may be out of the way for a lot of NKU students, but if you’re a fan of fresh, homemade, unique eats, it is a worthwhile trip over to the Northside to experience this eclectic deli.

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Humanity, I Love You

After almost a year of planning, traveling, volunteering, video shooting, editing and producing, seniors Stephanie Mathena and Kelsey Robinson get to share their senior Capstone project and documentary Humanity, I Love You to the people of Northern Kentucky Univeristy.


In this documentary, viewers will witness the journey of eight volunteers as they travel to New Orleans to do volunteer work on a house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  The final cut depicts the struggles and achievements of the volunteers, as well as testimonies from families directly affected by this hurricane.


“I hope viewers get a real sense of the amount of devastation left by Katrina and how six years later, many are still without a home,” Robinson said. “I hope it also inspires viewers to find the courage to volunteer themselves, not only in their own community but in a different region, because many people are in need of help all over the globe.”


Mathena said that she wants people to feel motivated to make a difference.


“The goal of this film is not to guilt people into donating all of their money to Katrina relief funds,” Mathena said, “but to encourage people to reflect and ask themselves how they want to be remembered and what difference are they making in the world?”


Planning for the documentary began in January. For two semesters, Robinson and Mathena galvanized volunteers, raised funds, and arranged for transportation to New Orleans.


“Honestly, people don’t really think about what goes in to making a film,” Mathena said. “Beforehand there is the pre-production work of contacting organizations to partner with, outlining how the story structure should work, budgeting for the film, raising funding and obtaining volunteers to go on the trip.”


Their work and dedication will come to fruition when they share their documentary with the NKU community.


“It is a relief to finally have the finished product of Stephanie and I’s hard work to be able to show to the public,” Robinson said.


“I can’t even put in to words how it will feel to have the documentary shown in front of my peers, faculty, and most importantly those who were on the trip,” Mathena said. “I hope I have done justice to their stories and make them proud.”

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Antony and Cleopatra Review

Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Theater and Dance premiered their rendition of the Shakespearean play “Antony and Cleopatra” on Thursday, December 1st in the Fine Arts Center’s Stauss Theater.


“Antony and Cleopatra” captured my attention and interest from the start with its suspenseful, tragic, and even comedic display of betrayal, love and power.


Shakespearean language can sometimes be hard to follow, but the play’s stars, seniors Simon Powell, who portrayed Antony, and Robyn Novak, who portrayed Cleopatra, as well as the rest of the cast, succeeded in embodying all that Shakespeare wanted “Antony and Cleopatra” to be.


Senior BFA- Acting major Bradley Jennings Evans, who played Octavius Caesar, said that this cast has one of the best work ethics of any other cast he has worked with. “We have all put a lot of work in to understanding the script and creating strong characters for the audience and hopefully that shows in the performance,” said Evans.


Though I sometimes got lost in the language, the 29 actors succeeded in portraying strong characters that kept me, as well as the rest of the audience, absorbed throughout the entire play.


Though the lead roles were clearly standout actors, the supporting roles also played their part in added more depth and dimension to the story.


“Honestly, my favorite characters were the supporting roles, and the comic relief from Lepidus,” said senior electronic media and broadcasting major Rachel Mannning. “I had several friends in the cast, and their appearance and mannerisms were completely transformed for the roles, and I barely recognized them.”


Reading a summary of the play would be beneficial to anyone who wants to view the performance, because it is easy to get lost in translation between the battle scenes.


Manning agreed that it sometimes gets confusing who is battling whom and who was on whose side. “Luckily, this wasn’t a huge problem because the story was obviously supposed to be focused on the titular couple,” said Manning.


Around 80 people were in attendance at the show on Friday, December 3 and all seemed just as captivated by the performance as I was. The crowd laughed, gasped, held our breath and watched in anticipation to see what the how the story would unfold.


Being in Stauss Theater, which is sometimes referred to as a black box theater, was the perfect performance space for this play. This theater is in a smaller room with the stage in the middle, surrounded by the audience, and black curtains drape each wall. This created a more intimate setting which allowed the audience to become completely engrossed in the performance.


When it comes to the set, lighting and design, the entire ambience was impressive. Manning said she loved it as well. “The suspended screens with the projected light patterns and the double-raked stage with contrasting floors brought a whole new level to the central clash between Rome and Egypt,” said Manning. “It juxtaposed the powers and set them physically higher, but it still brought the action down to the viewer’s level.”


With the stage in the middle being surrounded by the audience, there is really no bad seat in which to view the performance.


Evans also agrees that the technical elements of the show turned out beautifully, particularly the set, lights and costumes. “It helps add so much depth and finesse to the show, and it also helps paint the story for the audience as well,” said Evans.


Though I was disappointed that the show started a half hour late, I respected the decision to wait for family members of those in the cast to get there before beginning. The start time of the production was postponed due to traffic from an event at the Bank of Kentucky Center.


If you enjoy comedy, tragedy, suspense, betrayal, passion, and heartbreak, and most importantly, Shakespeare, then I recommend going to see director Mike King’s interpretation of “Antony and Cleopatra”.


The show will continue to run through December 11 in the Fine Art Center’s  Stauss Theater. Show times are Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students and can be purchased at the NKU box office.

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Fighting Human Trafficking in Our Own Backyard

An NKU student brings her idea and dream to life as she continues to try to raise awareness about sex trafficking through the campus organization Fighting Against Sex Trafficking.

Fighting Against Sex Trafficking is a relatively new special interest student organization on NKU’s campus created by Rebecca Potzner, a sophomore PR major. The main goal of this organization as a whole is to raise money for organizations that help victims, or future victims, of human trafficking. The other goal is to raise awareness about the fact that human trafficking is still a problem today, even in the United States.

Potzner had the idea to start this organization in high school after she attended a Christ in Youth conference where she first saw the movie ‘Baht.’ This movie is about a girl in Cambodia who was told she was being taken to a restaurant job, but instead was taken to a brothel and forced into prostitution.

“It’s hard to explain what I felt when I was watching the video, but at the end I knew I had to do something about it,” Potzner said. “Working against sex trafficking has become something dear to my heart.”

Potzner explained that in high school, she and a group of friends had the idea to start F.A.S.T, but they all went their separate ways. She didn’t want the idea to die, so she started the organization at NKU in the spring of 2010. She thought NKU would be a perfect place to start raising awareness.

“With NKU being so close to Ohio, there could be such a huge impact on people because Ohio is in the top 12 states with the largest trafficking problem,” said Potzner.

Dr. Sharlene Lassiter Boltz, a professor of law at NKU, and a member of Partnership Against Trafficking Humans, also believes that students need to be further educated about human trafficking. She explains getting more information out there to college students about why human trafficking is important because they need to become more observant, informed citizens.

P.A.T.H. of Northern Kentucky seeks to increase public and professional awareness of human trafficking and increase the number of traffic victims identified, rescued, protected and served in Kentucky. It is a synergy of various social service agencies, law enforcement, public and private attorneys, and non-governmental agencies committed to the anti-trafficking movement.

“Human trafficking is the second largest money maker world wide, second to drug trafficking.” Lassiter Boltz said. “The key components of human trafficking are force, fraud and coercion. That’s how victim’s get trapped.”

Lassiter Boltz and Potzner are both advocates for bringing knowledge about this topic to the students of NKU and the surrounding community. Both women have a passion and drive to fight against human trafficking.

F.A.S.T is holding an event on Thursday, Mar. 17 from noon to 2p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom for anyone at NKU to attend and learn what the organization is all about. There will be stations with facts, a documentary viewing, letter writing to survivors of sex trafficking and a sign-up table to join the organization. For students who can’t make it to the event and are interested in joining, they can contact Rebecca Potzner at, or they can join F.A.S.T on

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