By Joey Gelman
It is amazing how fast the semester has gone in Journalism 215, Multimedia Reporting. I came into the class with a very small background in multimedia projects and while it was a difficult learning curve, I feel as though I was able to make great strides as the semester went on. I will admit, that I still do not have a full grasp of everything Adobe Premiere has to offer, and in order to continue to succeed in multimedia, I have to continue to learn the ins and outs of the software itself. However, the base that this class has given me will be a great stepping stone to work on bigger projects that will come my way. This class has taught me how to better tell a story through multimedia. While the technical aspects may not be as professional as I would like them to be at this point, the majority of the project is to tell a clear and interesting story. I have been able to learn how to be a better storyteller, and that is a very important job for being a successful journalist.
When looking at my assignments, I will begin with Assignment 1.
Assignment 1 asked us to familiarize ourselves with the equipment. For me, working with cameras was a pretty new adventure, so it was great to have this assignment to test everything out. We were asked to take a variety of shots from wide, to tight, to panning and more. I decided to take my footage on the Illinois Quad. Because the Quad is a stable environment with not a lot of moving parts, I was able to get multiple shots from different angles and distances in order to truly see what my equipment was made of. This was a great stepping stone project to get our feet wet in the multimedia world.
In Assignment 2, we were asked to utilize the photography aspect of multimedia reporting by doing a photo essay. Due to our camera’s capabilities, this assignment was a little more difficult, as the cameras were primarily used for video shooting. However, once a few pictures were taken, a rhythm started to form. Even though we were asked to take 12 photos, I believe I ended up with over 100 to choose from. While this may have not been the most efficient way of doing things, it was great to get me acclimated with the photo side of story telling.
I decided to do Assignment 2 on the Illinois Football Game against Western Kentucky on September 6th. While I was able to get some great action shots in the wide, medium, tight variety, I wish I could have gotten more angles to shoot from, as many of my shots were from the same side of the stadium due to where I was sitting. However, because I was shooting the football game, it was a fun experience and I was able to capture some emotional moments in the game, which added to the full photo-essay story.
Assignment 3 is where we were able to add emotion to our original photo essay by adding natural sound from the game. By adding the sounds of a football game such as the band, on-field play, chants etc., I felt as though I was able to add an emotional element to the photo essay that is was missing and needed.
However, due to restraints based on where I was located per the paragraph above, many of my sights and sounds were from the crowd, and sometimes did not exactly match up with certain photos I chose. However, overall, I felt as though the environment of the football game was captured by adding the natural sound.
In Assignment 4, we were asked to do a video essay of our choosing. I decided to focus mine on a recycling initiative on campus sponsored by Coca-Cola and Campus Vending. This was my real first test at a true multimedia story. Due to the interactive nature of the event, I was able to get some great action shots of recycling in action, which was a great addition and great B roll for the project.
However, as many of us encounter everyday in journalism, it was difficult at times to get people to do interviews. Once they saw the camera, they were quick to shy away. However, I was luckily able to get the Coca-Cola Representative to walk me through the stations as well as a UIUC student who used the station to learn about recycling habits and charge his phone. The issues I had with this were shaky shots, and I have made it a priority to fix this going forward.
Assignment 5 was a really enjoyable experience and was the number was the #1 reason why people go to the Internet; to learn how to do something (according to Professor Collins). In my “How To” video, I was able to give a step-by-step video of how to make a Noodle Kugel.
While this was very fun video to shoot because it was with family, it had its issues that I needed to correct moving forward. Because the preparation and cooking process were pretty simple, I found myself searching for extra B Roll, as well as a variety of natural sound, as many cooking elements sounded the same. I also had issues with my audio mixing. This was the first time throughout the semester that we implemented narration, so mixing that in addition to natural sound and background music was a little difficult, and while it turned out alright, better audio –mixing will be something I will have to work on moving forward.
I felt as though Assignment 6 was one of my best assignments during the semester. This assignment was an audio package. I was able to focus mine in on a fun local Halloween story. A Champaign high schooler was going to pay tribute to Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Halloween night by re-enacting the fladge monk scene from the movie with friends and family in Downtown Champaign.
I have had a lot of experience with audio/radio stories, so the technical side of the story came much easier to me this time around. I was able to edit and mix my audio very well and present a clear and fun story. While the audio mixing in videos still needs some work, I was able to take advantage of my skills in radio editing for Assignment 6.
Due to our smaller number of audio stories in the semester, we were asked again in Assignment 7 to create an audio package. However, both this assignment and Assignment 8 were packaged together under the same theme and topic, and a link to the final website and story for these last two assignments can be found at the bottom of the reflection. I focused in on the topic of professional standards for university professors on social media.
This has been a hot-topic at the University of Illinois this year with the issues surrounding the case of Steven Salaita, so I wanted to continue researching this topic on a national level as it was of much interest. For Assignment 7, I focused in on the professional standards in Kansas for professors on social media. The Kansas Board of Regents passed a policy that allows a university to suspend or fire a professor on the grounds of their content on social media. I was able to focus in on student perspective as well as professional critique by former USA Today Editor and Chief Ken Paulson, on the topic and First Amendment rights. The Kansas case directly affected Kansas University professor David Guth, however he had declined to comment.
For Assignment 8, I continued to look at this field of study, but localized the issue back to the University of Illinois. I was able to attend the highly intense and media-crazed Steven Salaita press conference earlier this year, and got some great footage that I was excited to use for my final project since day 1 of class. Assignment 8 was a full video package that could include audio, photos, narration, A roll and B roll to tell our multimedia story. I was able to interview U of I journalism professor Ben Holden to get a legal perspective on academic freedom and social media at large, and then used my footage from the Salaita press conference. I was also able to continue my Kansas connection, as I spoke to Doug Bonney who is the legal director at the Kansas ACLU, who was able to provide even more insight on the topic. This was a great assignment to sum up the year because it encompassed a topic I was truly interested in, and I had been accumulating footage for since August.
I felt as though I was able to get a variety of perspectives in it, and this also allowed me one final chance to make sure my mixing, story telling and the new implementation of a stand-up, would all fit properly to tell the story. I felt as though it came together pretty well, and gave a great compliment to my audio package under the same thematic umbrella. However, the issues of professional standards for professors on social media is an extremely hot topic in the country right now, so many perspective interviewees were reluctant to share their opinions, as the demand was too high, or their research on the topic was not yet finished. However, I felt as though I was able to get great sound from the interviews that I got, and they were able to tell a good story.
For the full story on professional standards for professors and social media, please click here.
Overall, I enjoyed this class very much. I was able to learn great technical and story-telling skills that will be able to propel me to begin to take on bigger challenges in the multimedia world. While I still have a lot to learn, this class was an important and necessary step in the right direction.
And to go with the last two stories about social media, here is a fun video that perfectly describes social media clichés, but serves as a reminder to make sure you pay attention to what you post. It could be there forever!