Self-Reflection for Spring 2020

Danielle Williams

Self-Reflection 

   The third week of class I did my first News Update which stressed me out. The outline for TV1 and TV2 are entirely different so I didn’t feel like I was prepared for everything that needed to be done for a news update. I anchored almost every newscast in TV1, color-commentated and moderated a few Illini Hockey games and am an actress so talking in front of a camera wasn’t really a problem for me. That’s actually how I knew that everything that had to be done to create a news update stressed me out because my overall performance on camera was really bad. However after finishing everything and getting through the mental breakdowns of that week I learned better time-management. 

   My first news update I created a VO and VO SOT VO. For my first VO I decided to cover the re-opening of one of the Zhang Family Lawsuits. It was a little hard to find good footage that hadn’t already been used a million times when the original Yingying Zhang case was open. I went with a few photos taken during the first trial of both her family and Brendt Christensen. It occured to me that very few news outlets posted photos from her memorial, so I decided to get some footage of the memorials set up for her on Main and Goodwin.  My first Vosotvo was on the effects of the Australia fires on Australian students. I interviewed gymnast, Clay Stephens and soccer player, Ashleigh Lefevre. I worked in the sports department of the Daily Illini and still remain in contact with a lot of the athletes, coaches and Sports Information Directors that I talked to throughout the years which is why I was able to get an athlete that was currently in season. A funny thing about this is that I conducted my interview with Clay Stephens at around 7 AM so finding good lighting was a little difficult and I was forced to use a green camera since that was the only one that Ken allowed to be checked out overnight. I unfortunately wasn’t able to use the footage I captured with Ashleigh Lefevre because I didn’t have enough time to turn my vosotvo into a package. We live in Illinois so I obviously wasn’t able to get any of my own wildfire b-roll but CNN helped in that department. 

   The week after my first news update, I decided to take on the role as assignment manager. I felt that I would be more of an asset to the class that way because I could monitor everything that was going on while not worrying about submitting any assignments myself. It was also the smarter move for me because it was tech-week for the play that I was in and I also knew that I would be traveling to and from Chicago the weekend before the newscast. In my role as assignment manager, I reached out to each student in the class to ensure they were making progress on their work. I also helped the producer and assistant producer with the rundown. 

   The fifth/sixth week of class I decided to stick with making a package because I was a bit behind on the assignments that needed to be completed. Liam told us about a natural hair panel at BNAACC and I jumped on the opportunity to cover it. I really enjoyed covering this particular event because I am a black woman who loves rocking natural hair whenever I can. I managed to get shots of the speakers, the audience and the gift that was given to everyone who attended the event. I did a phone interview with Robin Collymore Henry who was the main speaker for the event. I also got a chance to interview Brittany Wright through facetime but for some reason couldn’t find the audio from the interview. Interestingly enough I found out later on that the majority of the panel were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, a sorority that my mother has been a part of for almost 30 years. This helped tremendously because I was able to have more in-depth conversations with both speakers over the phone. My third source was Nengi Obamanu, a senior at the University of Illinois. She talked about how important an event like this was because natural hair was at one point, and still kind of is, taboo in social and professional settings.

   The last week that we were allowed on campus I completed my second news update in a less traditional way. I struggled getting this last update done. I was sick the majority of the month. In fact, I had strep and a respiratory infection that made it harder to breathe (I have asthma so breathing is already more difficult than it would be for someone without it). I shot a VO on the Open Mic Night at the Illini Union. I focused on the guest poet, Katie Kramer. The quality wasn’t what I wanted it to be as I was stuck with the green camera. The night that I finished editing this was also when we found out that the campus would be shutting down after spring break which changed a lot of things. I was in the studio with a few other people when we received the news so we decided to pre-record our news updates, cameras, lights and all. Even though I struggled to produce the program that I envisioned, it was still a fun experience. We ordered food, read through each other’s scripts and just helped each other out overall to finish our assignments. 

The switch to remote learning has been challenging to say the very least. I was forced to go home because my parents didn’t want to risk my sister or I possibly being infected. This class has probably been the most accommodating for me and I am sure other people as well. A lot of the professors are taking the “everything is normal” approach which has done nothing but frustrate students. Between having to pack most of my apartment in a day, switching to all online classes, losing graduation, losing multiple job offers and trying to stay alive, this has been the craziest time of my life thus far. Writing this self-reflection blog was surprisingly therapeutic. There’s a lot going on and as weird as it might be we really don’t have time to sit down and process it. I completed my news article a few weeks after being told about the assignment. It didn’t take very long because so much is happening and all of the news outlets in the world are talking about the virus in one way or another. I decided to write on the 5 news articles that talked about how Trump is siding with the very small percentage of the population that are protesting these quarantines and attempting to re-open select states in response to these disruptions. 

   My advice to future TV2 students and even journalism students is to get used to adversity. I’m praying nothing like this happens again but things change at the drop of a dime all of the time. It is also best to have multiple plans when shooting any media work. Whether that be a package or a vosotvo, it’s better to have to have more than less. At the beginning of the school year, you should think of about 5-6 topics that interest you and do some research to find events or stories that you can cover throughout the semester. Always have one or two ideas for a package because, as said before, things do change quite often. Try to shoot for more interviews than what you will actually use. This will save you time in the long run when you are editing your package and realize that something doesn’t fit in with the rest of your shots. Even when the event is boring, find interesting things around it that you can capture for b-roll and possibly create your story around. You should give yourself at least two weeks to complete a package. The first week you should work on the physical aspect of it which is doing your research, getting interviews and capturing b-roll. The second week should be used for editing and filing. What I mean by filing is making sure everything is air ready which consists of clean videos, scripts being in the system and everything is in playback. Also, make sure that your file is saved on multiple devices. I always made sure that my assignments were both in the class folder and a storage drive. There is nothing worse for a producer/assignment manager than having to run around the newsroom the day of a newscast because there are missing files one place or another. Find time to relax in the midst of the craziness that is journalism. It is  really easy to get frustrated by the amount of stuff needed to have a successful show so it is smart to find time to get your mind straight. Overall, have fun and make most out of the assignments you are given. 

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