Up until this point, every journalism class I had taken at UIUC was easy. It all came naturally so I never felt much pressure to get my assignments done. However, this class challenged me from the start and by the end I think it truly humbled me.
In JOUR 200 and JOUR 210 writing was the main aspect of the course. We never had to actually put all the material together into a final product, but in this class we did. Even still I thought I was a step ahead of everyone since I already knew how to use Adobe Premiere Pro, but this class was still tough and I think I am a better journalist because of it.
From day one the first thing I noticed was that Professor Collins meant business. There were no excuses or extensions. It’s intimidating at first, but I learned to embrace her high expectations and ended up produced some pretty cool stuff.
Our first assignment was to get to know our camera. I used a similar camera over the summer at my internship so the assignment seemed pretty basic. It was easy to get a variety of shots and simply get the assignment done, but looking back on it I wish I would have used my tripod. I can’t stand those shaking shots!
The next assignment was to do a photo essay and I decided to do mine about the 3D-Printing at MakerLab. The idea stemmed from a quick visit to Beckman.illinois,edu. There was a story on the website about 3D-printed wheelchair racing gloves, and I thought it would be cool to find out how the technology works. I interviewed Dr. Vishal Sachdev about what goes on in his lab and was able to take a lot of great photos for the assignment. I tried to put colorful and detailed 3D-printed objects in my video and I think it really caught my classmates’ attention when I presented it. We also had to choose whether we wanted to present our project with or without sound. I chose the one with sound because I felt like it really added to the content of my video.
The third assignment was a video essay which I really had some fun with. It is always tougher to shoot video instead of take pictures, but the new assignment also gave me new creative freedom. I chose to make my video about Wassaja Hall and with the help of a few of my friends, it turned out well. It was lighthearted, but I felt like it definitely provided the class with a lot of information about Wassaja and why it was created. There was more editing required in the project, but I think that is what made this video fun.
An audio package was our next assignment and it was one of easiest assignments of the semester. I am also taking JOUR 335 (audio journalism) so I had already learned how to do an audio wrap. Since I covered the Illinois volleyball team for The Daily Illini, my sources for the story were very easy to get. I was also able to get some solid natural sound from the Illini’s matches as well. The final product turned out to be a simple recap of the team’s match against Rutgers and its seven-game win streak.
Next up was the full video package and I decided to do mine about domestic violence in the queer community. October is LGTBT history month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month so I felt like it was a timely and important topic. It was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone to try and do a project about something I didn’t know much about, but I did my research and was able to interview some amazing people. It took a long time to edit the video and get it just right, but it is very satisfying to watch the finished product.
The next assignment was the “How To” video and I love mine! It took such a long time to edit the video, but I really did not care because at the end I was so happy with the outcome. I chose to teach everyone how to shoot a basketball or rather, “How To Get Buckets,” and it was honestly such a nostalgic assignment. I played basketball all four years in high school and have always loved the game, so this project gave me the opportunity to share that love with my class. I posted it on Facebook afterwards and all of my family and friends loved it. I think that was my best work in this class.
Our last assignment was a group project. My group was given the topic of, “The Psychological Effects of Racism.” At first, I thought that it would be easy to produce a good project, especially with the help of others, but it was by far the hardest assignment of the class. My group did not collaborate well and it showed during our presentation. We should have definitely taken the assignment more serious from the start, and given ourselves more time to work on it. We were up all night trying to rush and finish it, but the assignment was just too dense to try and get done in one night. Personally speaking, I think my biggest thing I need to take into consideration after taking this course is how to improve my ability to work well with others. This final project taught me that I am only as strong as the people around me.
Seven projects later, and this class is finally over. It was definitely a challenge to get to the end, but I know I am a better journalist because of it. Professor Collins is one of the toughest teachers I have ever had, but one thing I can honestly say is that she is fair. She pushed us to be excellent journalists from day one and held everyone accountable for their assignments. I love that about her because I felt like she really gave us a taste of what the real world is like. The things I have learned in this class have given me a new perspective on journalism and have definitely reassured me of my decision to go into this field.