Shy Writers, Loud Reporters

Response to today’s CNN Newsroom broadcast…

Getting ready this morning, I turned on CNN for a little background commentary as the informed citizen should do. They were talking about the GOP primaries and how Florida’s polls will likely reflect the nation’s overall opinion, because Florida’s demographics are quite diverse and very representative of the entire US population. So today is kind of a big deal. And as far it looks, Romney is looking like the front-runner in this election.

The next topic of discussion was “What will it take for America to lose weight?!” I continued listening as health and nutrition often interest me… I can’t help it, I grew up eating organic cereals, dessert-less-dinners, and fruit leather instead of fruit roll-ups.  Anyway, I looked online at CNN’s website hoping to follow up on this story. I looked for a few minutes and found nothing. I’m sure there is an article somewhere linking to the morning broadcast, but I didn’t have time to super-search the web something like this.

This sort of practice is expected in our emerging multimedia society.

Shouldn’t a leading media outlet with a highly skilled staff know well enough to provide easy-to-find web articles that follow up with their broadcast material directly after it is televised? This sort of practice is expected in our emerging multimedia society. The audience wants to access the same story on television, the internet, and other social media sites — which ever medium is the most convenient for them. At the campus radio station, if we report a story on-air, we are also required to at least transfer the story word-for-word to our website and then provide additional information for those who missed the live broadcast or simply want to know more.

The last topic discussed this morning that sparked my interest was a study done on introverts: Why introverts can be great leaders. When I looked this one up online, I saw that it was published a year ago. So, I guess CNN recycles their material… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Why not bring up old topics as long as people still find them timely and interesting! CNN related this study to the primaries, adding another angle of discussion to the topic of the Florida primaries and presidential elections. They compared Romney (an introvert) to Gingrich (an extrovert) and Bush (an introvert) to Clinton (an extrovert). So contrary to common assumptions, men and women who are naturally outgoing, popular, communicative, and confident in social situations are not always the best leaders.

This got me thinking… do introverts or extroverts make better journalists?

Why extroverts? — Because journalists need to be comfortable approaching strangers and presenting themselves confidently in front of an audience.  Why introverts? — Because journalists need to be insightful and to observe carefully as they detach themselves from the situation.

What do you think? (See poll)

I also took this quiz by TIME magazine to find out if I am an introvert or extrovert.  The diagnosis? I am likely an EXTROVERT.

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Side Effects May Include…

Studies show social media is ruining our minds.

I came across a slightly disturbing article on blogsessive.com entitled “Social Media Mind Control — say what?” Yes, please. Explain. As a social media journalist, where social media is quickly becoming my LIFE, I would like to know the side effects of my chosen career path.

I found this great infographic by Assisted Living Today which highlights the main concerns.

If you got to this point and actually read through the entire info-graphic — good job. The serious side effects of social media have not completely destroyed your attention span.

So what are we supposed to take from this?  First of all, I think that there is a lot to be said about face-to-face interactions, however, it takes more effort these days to have a conversation with someone in person. But in journalism especially, your best method for gathering information is by talking to someone 1) in person, 2) over the phone, and 3) over email.  In person, you can gather information from the tone of someone’s voice, from the expression on their face, from the way they react to their surroundings … none of which you can get from social media interactions.

I’m not trying to put down social media completely… but it’s fun to play the devil’s advocate when your life as a 21st century journalism student is often surrounded by the praising of social media. If you accuse Twitter, you get the “How dare you insult the future of journalism!” glare. So it’s fun being enlightened; seeing the dark side of social media and reading about those ugly side effects your professor will never bring up.

Here’s another thing that shocked me… 7% of people occasionally forget their birthdays. REALLY?! I’m thinking that’s not caused by the use of social media, but rather some catastrophic memory impairment, like amnesia. I mean, Facebook tells you when it’s your birthday. So these social media addicts check Facebook at least once every day but somehow miss the endless number of birthday posts on their wall? Oh, the irony of it. For more statistics about Facebook, click here!

But really, what would you do without social media today? Try going a week without Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Email, YouTube, Pintrist, LinkedIn, etc. It’s nearly impossible. Not only because it’s probably an addiction, but we rely on social media for so much nowadays. I get breaking news from Twitter, I post my journalism assignments on WordPress, I keep in touch with my family through Facebook … of course there’s beauty in the ability of social media, but let’s calm it down a little. I think everyone is excited because it’s new and it really is changing our way of life. Let’s just hope we don’t get so caught up in the craze that we FRY OUR BRAINS and later regret losing the ability to focus or retain information. All in moderation.

What’s in your pockets?

Assignment:

Go into the outside world – find a person who allows you to photograph him/her holding the contents of one of their pockets in a hand.

I was a little nervous for this assignment. Catching a stranger off guard and asking to take their photo is slightly intimidating. The fear of rejection or creating that awkward moment is really the worst of it. After the first person turns you down, you say ‘no problem’ and walk on, you get over that fear and walk right up to the next person.

The first person that let me take his photo was Sam, the guy in the denim shirt.  He is a construction worker in Columbia and was just coming back from Regency hotel, which is being torn down for some fancier place. I got a thrill out of meeting a stranger, trying to figure out his story, and creating a piece of art around him. I think the graffiti wall complimented his casual and rugged look nicely. Notice in his hand the larger silver coin — if you can read what it says, go look up what the significance of the coin means. I’ll just say I learned a lot about one man just by asking him what was in his pockets.

The second person that I photographed was Jihyuk, an MU student from South Korea. As you can see, he was pretty excited to have him picture taken! I found it ironic that as Jihyuk struggled to understand my English when I asked him what he was studying, his friend explained that Jihyuk is here for the intensive English program. In Jihuk’s pocket was nothing too unique. I really like how the red and orange colors pop in the photo of his two hands.

Seeing Red

Experimenting with my camera

I learned about shutter speed and aperture yesterday in my photojournalism class…AND in my multimedia journalism class.  Lucky for me, I needed the reinforcement.

When I got back to my dorm room, I couldn’t wait to experiment with my camera. It was too cold outside to go on a photo shoot adventure, so I worked with what I had around me.

It’s fun to fool around with different angles…standing on chairs, lying on the floor. I love the artistic aspect of photography; you can’t take a right or wrong photo…well, not really. As long as you have an intention for it looking the way it does, or as long as it looks really cool, you’ve got yourself a keeper!

Still, without the right technique, you’ll have less luck capturing a great photo. Anyone can grab a camera and shoot, but if those who call themselves photographers are the ones who know how to balance an image, capture expression, prevent overexposure, or create just the right amount of blurriness behind a sharp looking object.

There’s definitely more to photography than I thought!

Multimedia Project Evaluation: The Ninth Floor

Multimedia Project Evaluation: The Ninth Floor

Warning: this video includes nudity and explicit images of drug use.

This was an assignment for my fundamentals of photojournalism class.  We were told to identify an online multimedia photojournalism project that we admire (or abhor) … to examine it from its photography, audio, design aspects … and to articulate our observations and insights.

I watched a project by photojournalist Jessica Dimmock entitled “The Ninth Floor.”  I did not expect to see the degree of exposure of such personal stories.  I was shocked and slightly disturbed by the content of her photos. While this raw and incredibly personal story of heroin addicts made me cringe at times, I truly admired Dimmock’s work.  It was honest.  I was impressed with her ability to photograph and interview individuals at some of their most vulnerable moments.  There were photos of one woman topless in the shower, of a couple having sex, of a woman in a hospital bed, of a couple fighting, and of a man injecting his scarred arms with drugs. Somehow, she gained the trust of these addicts enough to photograph such private aspects of their lives.

Looking at the project from the technical side, Dimmock let the story tell itself and presented the images in a simple way.  Without any video photography or extensive graphic design, the intensity of the photography alone grabs the audience’s attention.  A simple presentation of the photographs was appropriate in order to not distract from the emotional images and overwhelm the audience.  Audio from interviews of three of the heroin addicts was embedded into the slideshow of photos along with an instrumental piece of music.  At times, the photos were shown just with the music.  The narration was also minimal, yet straightforward, as it appeared in white text across the dark screen.

The photos, audio clips and music truly captured the darkness in these individuals’ lives.  Several photos were blurred, possibly representing the confusion and lost emotions felt by the addicts.  Dimmock used a lot of shadows and dull colors to create a sinister feel.  Her candid photography captured the personalities of each character, exposing their passionate emotions and their casual expressions.  The audio also added depth to the project, tugging at the audiences’ feelings more subtly.  The interviews were genuine; you could hear the anxiety, the hopelessness and the desperation in their raspy voices.  The music, too, was simple as it moved between jarring chords and a distressing piano melody.

Dimmock pays close attention to detail – the look in someone’s eye, the tattoo on their bottom lip, the type of shoes they’re wearing, the plastic rosary around their neck – she draws your attention to the things one often looks over.  Her photography is uncensored.  It captures the harsh reality of life.

The story follows the lives of three different individuals over almost three years, yet it succeeds in maintaining a flow and focus.  Some photos are shown in moving sequence, almost like a video.  Others show one scene and then skip months ahead, with narration in between providing context when the photos alone could not tell the story.  There are several stories within the overall project, but they all relate back to the ways in which heroin affects these people.  For example, Dimmock documents each stage of Rachel and Johnn’s relationship, from the fighting and the romance to the birth of their first child, all while showing how their addictions control these parts of their lives.

I also noticed the contrast in photography between the first photos and the last.  The video opened with very dark and mysterious shots of a window and explicit images of the addicts injecting themselves.  The music and photos reflected the feelings of disparity.  The video concluded with audio clips of baby laughter, images with more color and a more promising tone in the voice of the individual being interviewed.  The combination of these changes provides an uplifting ending to the story.

Choosing Multimedia Journalism

When I hear multimedia journalism, I believe this is another way of defining convergence journalism, which is my chosen emphasis are. So, let me just say that I am STOKED for my J2150 class.

I started college motivated by dreams of being a television broadcaster, a reporter live on the scenes, a glamorous anchor woman. Then, I realized there’s a lot more to journalism that I enjoy. I love working at the radio station. I love taking photographs. I am always writing. I make short documentary-like videos in my free time. When I learned what strategic communications meant, I thought advertising may be a new and exciting way to turn my creativity into a more business-like approach.

Clearly, I wanted it all. So here I am, a convergence student, ready to learn how to put all of these aspects of journalism into one great story packed with information, graphics, photography, video, audio clips, written articles and more!

A teacher introduced me to the website MediaStorm, born at our very own Mizzou J-School. Websites like this continue to inspire changes in the methods of journalistic storytelling in a way that I think is brilliantly entertaining as well as informative.

As a multimedia journalist (something, it sounds like, we all must become) we’ve been told to embrace social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs in order to create an online profile for ourselves. While I understand the need for this, I’ve never been much of a “tweeter” or blogger. I’m not one to publicize my personal thoughts on a regular basis.  So, this semester I shall, indeed, be pushed outside my comfort zone. I accept the challenge.