Looking Back – Final Reflection by Tyler C. Soetaert

Tyler Soetaert hosting Jayhawk Newsbreak.

This has been an interesting semester for myself, to say the least. Between accounting lessons about contribution margins, to Professor John Broholm’s life lecture’s in ethics, it has been a roller coaster. It is hard to even find a place to begin. Finding the words to describe my Journalism 550 class is almost too difficult for me, even as a writer. To you, the class may sound like your typical upper-level class for a specific major, but for the 18 individuals who went through the process, it is an entirely different world. For the professor, who just got to Kansas for the first time all the way from Champaign, Illinois, it was an entirely different world. Whether I was sinking or swimming, this class is one that has engraved its place in my heart. Here is a look at my journey along the way.

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Video Essay

Video Essay: A Jayhawk Jumprope routine at the Rec Center in Lawrence, Kansas.

In the first class endeavor, my peers and I were assigned to a “video essay”, which would help serve as a smooth beginning for more things to come. This was considered a light assignment in which we only needed 12 total shots to tell a story. I shot a person I had met on spot at the gym. He was more than accommodating, as I documented a famous Jayhawk Jumprope routine that is said to have you losing serious weight in weeks. This routine is considered important for its impact on the body and how quick-paced the workout is. That being said, these factors gave me reason to go for more than just “a video essay”. Usually on your first class assignment, you may slack off some, but that wasn’t the case for me. I saw opportunities where I could catch the sweat dripping off his brow, or his hair moving vigorously to the thumping of the jumprope. I saw opportunities to grab every angle of his workout, including his hands that were constantly moving with the rope. Additionally, who could argue an element such as NAT sound when there is a jumprope slapping the ground every second. All in all, this was a great beginning project, the only issue was that my partner and classmate, Patrick Sullivan, decided to out-do me on this one.

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VOSOTVO #1

A new piece in the Spencer Art Museum for their African Art Exhibit, in Lawrence, Kansas.

Only a week would go by until the students of J550 would be exposed to some of the first real work they would put together in this class. Dr. Janice Collins introduced to us our first VO and VOSOTVO assignment. This assignment was an interesting journey to say the least. I remember vividly, walking into a music recital on Wednesday evening of that week, and being chased out being a full-time professor. Clearly, the music school felt no need for the recognition that I felt they deserved. Nonetheless, we must always have back-up plans. This is one of the many lessons Dr. Collins preached throughout the course fo this semester. So, plan B would have to prevail. I visited the Spencer Art Museum the next day to put together what was considered more of a rushed process. I was able to obtain fantastic footage of all the beauty that the museum holds. My story angle covered the new “African Art Exhibit”, which was considered the final centric piece to the international puzzle of art. My only complaint comes from the time frame I had to work with in creating this, and Dr. Collins was able to notice in my scripts how the process was a bit rushed.

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VOSOTVO #2

A cloudy day on campus at the University of Kansas, where students have been concerned for safety.

After a small water break, the class was back in action, ready for the next VOSOTVO. This time around, I took on a serious topic that would eventually carry into some of my later work in the semester. The topic of guns on campus is one that we can all discuss, but may not be one that we all agree on. The controversy that guns have caused on school grounds in 2018 alone are alarming enough to have students at KU on their toes. Dr. Collins saw the potential in this story and encouraged me every step of the way to really dig deep and find the source of the issues at hand. I was able to get some emotional soundbites and some creative shots. My only regret in this project is the in-depth shooting that I didn’t seek until later in the semester, when this topic would eventually become one of my final packages. All in all, the severity and emotional tone provided the project with some “head-turning” ability.

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VO & VOSOTVO #3

An Ad Astra sponsored running event for the Lawrence community.

At this point in the semester, the class was beginning to feel a bit worn down. Between multiple current events and video assignments, the class was starting to struggle treading the water. This is just when Dr. Collins showed us we can swim. For our VOSOTVO three, I decided my topic would encompass a local business who gives back to their community. I gave the spotlight to Ad Astra Running in downtown Lawrence. This is a company that provides people of any income, race or gender opportunities to connect with the community, and commit to a healthy lifestyle. The company offers 5k’s, free programs and more that have been driving forces in bringing together a running community in Lawrence. Even people with disabilities are more than encouraged to join every endeavor, and I wanted to capture the man behind the madness. This project was very smooth process for me. I was able to obtain the shots I needed, plus the right interview. I was able to interview J, the man who started Ad Astra and his running programs. Additionally, I was able to obtain graphics from different events they have held in the past. The diversity of visuals accompanied by the best qualified interviewee made this a good project. My only issue came in some of my script writing, which was a little lengthy.

The one difference in this assignment was the VO and the VOSOTVO. Every project leading up to this had the same topic for both. This time, the topics would be different. My third VO stood as an announcement for the J-school’s big career fair on March 7.

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Package #1

David O’Hara, KU Lacrosse team captain.

The day would come where the class would have to step-up the production and workload in their projects. Bring on package number one. In this assignment, I was able to work with my partner, Patrick Sullivan, on a story regarding the KU lacrosse team and their expansions. Patrick and I both have friends who play for the team, so the boys were more than welcoming to our company. We conducted interviews, got a wide range of action shots and even added stand-ups, which turned out better than I had hoped The best part about working with Patrick is that he is able to see eye-to-eye with me on most occasions. Alternatively, he is not afraid to tell you what he wants. The package was an interesting story about and up and coming program, and working with Patrick made the process enjoyable and smooth.

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Package #2 and Final Newsbreak

A registered gun owner who conceals on campus shows his firearm in the package.

The end of the journey finally arrived. At some points in the semester, it felt like it may never come. In my second package, I was able to continue on the somber topic of guns on campus. Dr. Collins pushed and pushed me towards going further into this story, and I felt the want to trust her. This professor is one that finds a story in anything, so a topic like gun violence is something she believes should never be short in content. I was able to get more than one perspective in student interviews, I obtained raw footage of a concealed weapon and I was able to grab some of the most gut-wrenching NAT soundbites of the semester. I began my package with a loud gun cock and then began to tell a story of the dilemma that has every KU student on their toes. The one issue I ran into was the final interview. I originally had planned to interview staff at the office of Provost, however, plan C had to prevail as I interviewed a faculty member who is part of the student safety board. Finally, this package would be used as a part of our final news-break. The class had already pushed through their first agonizing news-break, now with hopes that the final would be better. I took the stage, with one chance only, at a live broadcast featuring my work. I was nervous, but the results show different, in my opinion. Take a look.

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Throughout this amazingly fast semester, I have learned more than I could have hoped to gain, not only through the Journalism 550 class, but even more so through a stranger, from the University of Illinois, who guided us along our journey. This stranger knew none of her 18 students in her first taught class at KU, nor had she met with the other 26,000 on campus. But, this stranger changed a group of students lives and made some of the closest companions in a matter of months. It’s safe to say, this person is a stranger no longer. Not only did Janice Collins show her students the value in professionalism but she preached the value of life. Dr. Collins chose to see the potential in all of her students — the good, the better and the best. I remember the first day like it was yesterday and when Dr. Collins began to spoke, everyone began to listen. “I will throw you all in the deep end, but I will not let you drown,” said Collins, “I will teach you to swim.”

Ever since that beginning day, I felt in my gut that I could instill some sort of trust with Dr. Collins. Over the semester, the “after-class” conversations only grew. The trust was slowly evolving into a beautiful relationship, and not just with me. She developed a certain connection with all 18 individuals in that room. Ever since the day Collins dropped me in the ocean, I’ve only gotten better and better at treading water. I just wanted to take this final part of my reflection to thank the wonderful teaching job done by Dr. Janice Collins. This semester has been a journey, but a journey I will not soon forget.

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