Empowerment in Multimedia Reporting

headshotOn the first day of multimedia reporting, Professor Collins went around the room and asked everyone to introduce themselves. From the back row, I told the class that I was a junior majoring in agricultural communications with an emphasis on journalism. Professor Collins’ response was, “So you have no experience with this?” It was true that I had very little experience with photo, video, and audio even though I had completed the prerequisite courses. I felt I had to prove myself, so from the start, I took this course seriously.

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staircase photo I took while practicing with my camera

When we received our bag of camera equipment before the first assignment, I felt intimidated. I spent just as much time watching videos about how to work the camera as I did taking photographs. Overthinking everything, I was afraid to photograph anything without permission and mixed up deadlines so that I finished early. Assignment 1, “Getting to Know Your Camera,” makes me very proud because it reminds of how much I taught myself by utilizing online and in-person resources and practicing with the camera.

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A shelf in Ariel Fang’s bedroom

The idea for my photo essay came from catching up with a friend who had tea with Ariel Fang, an MBA student at UIUC who aspires to have her own tea shop. I photographed her bedroom, which is quite unique. In talking to Ariel Fang, I realized that while journalists should stay fair and accountable, photojournalists especially have to be bold even when reporting feels intrusive.  My photo essay for assignment 2 is called Tea Enthusiast’s Bedroom.

 

At this point, I felt more sure of my place in this class. If nothing else, I was confident in my curiosity which helps me find stories. I saw assignment 3 as a challenge to tell a story in under 1:15 using video clips with clear sound. It was career fair season, and I got permission to film at the Business Career Fair at the ARC. This was a story where I expected to find anxiety and

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Entrance to the Business Career Fair at the ARC

tension, but instead saw a lot of confident, collected students ceasing opportunities. Looking back on this video, there are details like shot composition, sound quality, and lower thirds that I would change now. But for a first time shooting and editing a video on my own, my career fair video essay is fantastic.

My audio package is the assignment I am most proud of. I attended the Rally Against Rape culture, identified a timely issue, and did follow-up interviews with an organizer and two attendees. This was probably the point in the semester where I rediscovered what I love about the role of a journalist. I get to educate myself by going to live events and talking to real people, and I have this extra authority that I’m going to share this information with the public.

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Yousouff Koumbassa dancing at the Dundunba Party at Pizza M in Urbana

For the next assignment, I covered the C-U West African Drum & Dance Collective’s Midwest Mandeng in a video package. This project sticks out in my mind for being stressful because I didn’t get as much footage or as many interviews as I would have liked. I still laugh about how in my interview with Mara Thacker, she moved after I set up the camera so that the tiger poster on the wall was more in focus than she was. I am grateful for being a part of this event even in a small way because parts of it felt so special that I didn’t want to be behind a camera.

Next was the how-to project, which felt like a piece of cake with all the skills I had learned so far.img_4159 I put my countless hours of food television watching, blog surfing, cook book reading, and cooking to use in this assignment. I finally got wide, medium, and tight shots in one video. My narrating voice could have been stronger and my face happier in the video. I have new appreciation for the quick, top-down recipe videos that are so popular now because it takes creativity to convey a whole process in such a short amount of time.

I should say that with all these assignments, and in my life, meeting deadlines is an obstacle for me. As a student, I’ve heard the words, “Don’t procrastinate,” so many times that they’ve just about lost their meaning. However, for this last assignment, starting early was not an issue. My semester concluded with a group project on the psychology of racism, specifically colorism. My group had some trouble staying on the same page throughout the process, and I think our final product does not accurately or effectively present all the work that went into it. That being said, I learned so much in researching for this project that I would not change anything. I feel like a better person because I had conversations with a lot of my close friends about this major societal phenomenon. Although I did speak to some experts, I didn’t learn by sitting through a required lecture, and that’s empowerment.

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