Tag Archives: final project

Five Months of Life-altering Change

Before the evidence of a global pandemic was undeniable in our country, my semester was already far different from all my others throughout college.

In January, I had to have my gallbladder removed after years of extreme stomach pain and increasingly distressing digestive issues. While some of these symptoms continue to persist post surgery and have affected my time as a student journalist prior to surgery, the recovery process made me anxious to start my last semester at the University of Illinois.

Returning to campus, I received a note from DRES saying that I could not carry anything over 10 pounds. For many other majors, this would not be an issue. For a broadcast journalism major, this had me concerned how I would manage to complete all assignments carrying heavy camera equipment. Luckily, I was able to assistant produce UI7 News Broadcast 1 and lead produce Broadcast 2.

In TV1, I had the opportunity to produce with Alex, leaving me with such a sense of accomplishment that I was eager to try again. As a producer for TV2, I was able to contribute organizational, editing and creative skills, along with leadership abilities, to design beautiful newscasts.

At the beginning of the semester, I remember staying up late one Wednesday night at Richmond Studio with Dan, Taylor and several other students to plan the first newscast. As the trailblazers, we were overly nervous how this production would go. That morning, we received an email saying the show should be an hour and see what we can do. At the time, I was about to walk into work, which is in a courthouse where I could not have my phone at the time. So with any little communication I could use, Dan, Taylor and I turned a half hour prepared show into a successful one hour newscast.

Though there are things we did not accomplish in our first broadcast and though it made me extremely anxious, this situation showed me my ability to perform under pressure. In the moments the newscast began, I realized an unrecognized passion for producing.

Besides the benefit of not having to carry equipment while recovering, the opportunity to produce was imperative to know what abilities I can bring to the table in the job market. Through work this semester, I have been able to fully recognize my love for writing, storytelling, editing and organizing.

The Rise of a Global Pandemic

It was around 8 p.m. in Urbana and more than half the TV2 class was at Richmond Studio working on packages or news updates for the last class before spring break. It was almost as if the United States recognized the severity of the coronavirus within a matter of hours. Colleges were going online after breaks, the NCAA cancelled games, the NBA suspended the season and Tom Hanks tested positive for COVID-19.

This would have been an incredible amount of information to process as a college student, but we had a job to complete. Many of us stayed late into the night to complete news updates as a team, which showed me the bond our class made even in the short two months we had together. In hindsight, I’d like to think we wanted to complete the assignment because we were all committed journalists. But more likely than not, we were also trying to escape reality — unable to accept how our lives were about to change.

Especially for myself, I’ve realized how much more I thrive in busy, stressful situations. I recognized this in college and, as a student, have become heavily involved in various organizations, worked several jobs and enroll in the maximum amount of credit hours each semester. Going from my naturally busy, organized self to suddenly being ordered to shelter-in-place has been a huge shift mentally.

To stay busy, I still make a schedule for myself to work on my schoolwork, read for a while each day, cook something new for my family to also go on my blog, workout or go for a walk, watch the news and work on a puzzle with my mom.

However, I’m sure educators and students alike can recognize the impact of technology during this time. Like what was mentioned at the start of the semester, cell phones are a monumental innovation for journalists. In this climate more than ever, we are able to take photos and video, record audio clips and compose written stories all from the palm of our hand. Breaking news can be more “breaking” as communication shifts to social media and instant calling and messaging. This became clear throughout the semester, but also enabled us to continue to do our job amidst national stay-in-place orders.

As the weeks have passed by, the more frightened I have become for the situation the country is in and the more it impacts my mental wellbeing. Though being home has been beneficial to my recovery process from gallbladder removal, it has also made me less motivated and actually less determined to accomplish projects to the best of my ability. As a journalist, though, I have realized the absolute need for the press and how crucial it is that we have honest and quality reporting in these times.

Reporting Amid COVID-19

Though I’m reminded each day of the negative effects of this virus, which I believe is invaluable to recognize, I have been trying to look for any positive to keep my spirits up. Staying active and keeping my food blog have been beneficial in keeping hope alive. Fortunately, I was also given an opportunity I wouldn’t have otherwise had if it not for this quarantine.

At the end of March, the head of the digital department of NBC Chicago called me to explain they had a job opening available, but I would have to start in two weeks. Had I been in Champaign, I would have to deny the offer. But because I was already working remotely just outside the city of Chicago, I was eager to accept the offer.

This past summer I had interned for NBC Chicago Investigates and would email this woman I’m sure a much too excessive amount asking about potential job openings. Though in the interview I could speak about my time at NBC, I was also able to draw on experiences in TV2 such as the time of producing an hour newscast after originally thinking it would be only a half hour show. Incredibly grateful, I can now say I am a digital media producer for NBC and use what I have been taught in TV2 for each shift so far.

Having to keep up with news on a daily basis, I have seen how pivotal it is to be aware of what is happening across the world and strike a balance between necessary and hopeful content. As the head of NBC Digital and NBC News Chicago told me, it is more rewarding now than ever to give the news to people who hunger for knowledge and rely on journalists to give them essential information.

Being a citizen of the United States has gone hand in hand for me as being a journalist. There is a feeling of commitment to the the country to save lives, but also give hope so those on the front line don’t give up. Having the man we have leading our country terrifies me even more. Not only because there seems to be a denial of the seriousness of this pandemic and continual attacks on the media — the ones delivering truth to a country who needs it now more than ever, but also because he is making a global pandemic a partisan matter. Saving human lives from an unexpected pandemic should not be drawn down party lines and that mindset could heavily alter the public’s cooperation during an extremely crucial time. That scares me. That makes me want to be a better journalist.

Ever since starting this job and keeping busy again, I have felt more motivated to complete schoolwork, daily projects, keep a healthy lifestyle and become a quality journalist in such a crucial time. Though a tragic and difficult time, I have found my strengths and weaknesses and can, thus, find confidence in knowing my best abilities.

Looking Back and Moving Forward Post-Pandemic

As many I know would agree, I wish we had more time working together in TV2. However, moving forward, this class and this experience as a student journalist amid a global pandemic has taught me to never take a moment for granted. Even if at times it felt like simple schoolwork to complete, I would give anything to be back in the studio with our team or shooting a package on campus.

Looking back on this past semester on campus, I still believe I grew as a multimedia journalist. I learned to adapt. Because I produced the first two shows, I predicted the rest of my semester would be filmed with shooting and editing packages, VOs and VOSTOVOs. My first VO was for Hack Illinois (4:08), which is the largest Hack-a-thon in Illinois. I planned for this to be a package, but when I got there, my camera equipment would not turn on. For future, I planned to always triple check at home, but at the time this was out of my control. I shot what I could with my phone and made a VO for my News Update.

That same week I decided to film another VO, as another area of Champaign was being declared a “historic district.” (3:25) I planned to make this a VOSOTVO, but my interview audio was almost inaudible that I decided it would just be a VO. Needless to say, this taught me I need to work on shooting and how to best prep for these situations. I learned that the element of physically shooting content is my least favorite part of being a journalist, but I also strive to be better with practice.

The same week, February 21 – March 5, I also wanted to get at least one VOSOTVO done, so I did one on an IDOT town gathering (2:34) in Urbana as construction would soon begin. It was interesting to hear such a variety of perspectives from the town and I could sense the energy in the smaller-than-expected room.

Anchoring this news update was enjoyable for me, but I know I need to strike a balance of professionalism and personality when in front of the camera. For the past three years, I have anchored Good Morning Illini, where I think I have found a way to strike that balance as I am able to be more carefree, per se. If I have the opportunity to anchor or report in the future, I know I need to be aware of this and practice as much as I can even just in front of a mirror or my phone camera at home.

Before leaving for break, I was able to film my first and only package for TV2. The University was hosting an event for International Women’s Day (3:07), which was more speakers than they originally explained. Hence, it was a challenge to find interesting b-roll and I hope the package did not seem too “wallpapered.” On the other hand, I had the opportunity to interview the University Chancellor Robert Jones, which was an exciting opportunity for me.

It’s a shame I will not be able to return to campus to practice the skills upon which I need to improve such as fixing shooting technicalities, using cleaner editing and maintaining energy as a reporter and anchor. However, this time quarantined at home in Chicago has taught me we can be journalists anywhere at any time if there is a story to be told. If we are creative and use critical thinking skills, we can tell still tell a story through written word, text or email messages, photos and videos shot on our phones and audio recordings also taken on a handheld digital device.

“Graduating” in mid-May seems even more surreal from our homes instead of on campus with close friends and life-changing professors, but I am taking away from Champaign much more than a degree. Thinking back on my experiences in college, I can truly say the University of Illinois built much of who I am today. My beliefs and skills have been challenged, along with my mental and physical strength. I have overcome more than I thought I ever could and can only thank the people who constantly challenged me to be better, who tend to be the same people who have shown me true appreciation and compassion.

Thank you, Professor Collins, for teaching us more than journalism this semester. You’ve shown us how to better our entire lives and how to be good, authentic, determined young men and women. Thank you to the entire TV2 class for constantly having each others backs and being the greatest support system I could have ever asked for these past four years. This semester has been far different than expected, but I am grateful for every minute of it.

A Semester Gone, A Lesson Learned: Williamson Semester Reflection

I started a new sports blog (here), I got another job with a sports blog (here)… Needless to say, the semester has come to an end. It’s been a very, very, very eventful semester in my life, and I have come through a lot, learned a lot, been stressed out a lot, and laughed a lot. Honestly, I’ve learned more and more about myself this semester than I ever thought I could have, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even the bad ones. Take a look at my semester in review!

Get to know your camera
Our first assignment was just a basic assignment to get to know the camera that we were given that was basically supposed to be our “best friend” throughout the rest of the semester. I quickly learned that this would indeed be my best friend, as since this point we have had several arguments, but also had some awesome times together taking cool pictures and videos, and getting the chance to interact with new people. I’ve had a lot of awesome experiences throughout this course, and my camera was always by my side (except maybe a certain audio package project I’ll talk about later). It was a really fun experience.

This project started with me procrastinating, which was a trend that I quickly lost when I got really inspired by Dr. Collins and started to really understand just how much work the course was going to be. I was motivated by the work of my friends and, at this point, colleagues, in the classroom with me, and started to aim higher than I could ever expect. I think that was what was most important about this project: it started me on the right path. You can view it HERE.

Photo Essay 

The photo essay may have been one of my favorite pieces that we got to make this semester. I really enjoy photography, and I like to make projects that can have a really deep meaning. This piece was more of an artsy piece for me, in that I took it to a deeper meaning than covering a news event or something like that. A lot of the reason for this falls upon me preferring to be a deep person, and also admittedly a lack of ideas for a news story (whoops!)

I took pictures of downtown Champaign-Urbana, in the older part of the area near where the police station is. I walked downtown and took pictures of what I saw. This action quickly pointed me to what my theme would eventually be: The contrast that comes from turning darkness, and emotions that go with that, to light, and happiness, and joy, even in the worst of times. I’m a strong believer in second chances, and I think with this area (being that I’m from close to here in Danville, Illinois) has been through a lot recently, and throughout history. I think the rebuilding process is still underway from when the area was hit hard in the early 2000’s in terms of the economy failing.

My pictures centered on graffiti, local art, and whatever else I could find in the area. I hoped through the project to create some sort of contrast, and to show how a community that has been through so much, can rebuild and redefine itself. I fully believe that every individual person can go through this change as well.

You can check it out, here.

Video Essay

The video essay project was really fun for me. I once again chose to do one more artsy video production, that would showcase yet again another contrast. I really enjoy doing artsy pieces, and attempting to tell a story through my work. (I am, after all, a creative writer at heart) I chose for this one, after reviewing some of the material that I took earlier in the week, I decided that the theme was going to be “stillness vs motion in champaign-urbana”. 

I took some videos at the local art trail just outside of the boundaries of campus, as well as some inside of the local church, and a few new places I hadn’t ever explored yet! It was a really fun time, as I got to see some really awesome and pretty landscapes, as well as experience putting a video compilation together. It was really different putting it all together, but it was a fun one. I thought I kind of was struggling at this point in the semester with coming up with ideas, but I think from this point on I turned the “idea engine” on and picked up the slack.
The video essay came together pretty well, and I really enjoyed it!

You can check it out here.

 

Audio Package

For my fourth assignment, which was an audio package, I decided to take on a story that was close to home. I have several friends that live in the Private Certified Housing-ran fraternity, Koinonia Christian Cooperative House. I decided that since most people walked by the house all the time, and still didn’t know that it existed or what it’s purpose was, it’d be interesting to find out about the house, straight from them.

I interviewed three people living inside of the house, and went from there. I didn’t really enjoy making just an audio package. I think it is because I’m mostly a visual learner, and like to be able to see things, and not just hear them. However, I was pretty happy with the final outcome.
Something important that I learned from this assignment was that people actually liked my on-air voice. Since I was little, I haven’t liked hearing my voice on camera, or on recordings, and would often ask people never to show clips that had my voice in them (funnily enough). I think that stems from my self-confidence, which can sometimes be a problem. However, I feel that when my classmates and Professor Collins told me my voice would be great if I just acted more confident, I think that I slowly but surely started to think that I really had a semi-decent voice, and got confident with it.

I was really happy with the outcome of the project, but it was definitely a challenge for me, and I feel like I took it pretty well. Everyone I interviewed for the project seemed to like the final outcome.

You can see the audio package I made, featuring Koinonia Christian Cooperative House, here.

 

Video Package
Our fifth assignment, and last before we had an “easy project” (How-To was the theme, more on that next) was a video package. I really had to think hard about a subject for this, as it had to have a really good newsworthy element that would also end up looking good on film. I was really excited when I was sitting in my room about to go to bed one night and I was thinking “Good film ideas….hm…” and I realized that unofficial was coming up!

The theme of my video package ended up being “The Other Side of Unofficial” which I was really proud of. I wanted to showcase that, on Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, not everyone just went out and got incredibly drunk all day, and didn’t do anything productive. I decided to focus on the events of the frat house mentioned in my audio package, Koinonia Christian Cooperative House, and their volunteer efforts during the event that so often is harshly criticized by many on the outside of the campus event.

During Unofficial, Koin, as it is called by it’s residents, goes into full-overdrive on the volunteering. They hand out water and snacks during the day to people that pass by their house on the corner of Fourth and Daniel St. on campus, and then, at night, put effort into handing out hot dogs once again to people going out and enjoying the holiday. I really wanted to shed a good light on this holiday, rather than just do another typical article on how bad Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is (depending on who you talk to).

I was happy with the end product of this, as I felt my confidence was a little higher, and I was successful in putting the whole package together!

You can view it here!

The “How To”

My how-to assignment for Assignment 6 wasn’t one of my favorites. I thought that the idea was good, but due to a lot of things coming together I don’t feel that I did as well as I really could have. My idea was pretty interesting, I did “How To Perform a Basic Baseball Swing” and based it off of what I had learned in many years of practicing baseball, and from professional coaches I had been lucky enough to have in the past.

The video quality wasn’t great, but the one thing I think I’m really proud of from this project was that I was able to a) keep good NAT sound in it, of the balls being hit and b) keep good humor in it.

The loose nature of this project really allowed me to infuse some of my personality in it. So despite all of the difficulties I had with coming up with an idea for a How-To video, I really enjoyed getting to make this one as it involved something I loved: baseball.

You can check it out here!

Final Project *Que Dramatic Music*

The final project was awesome, simply. First, I want to shout out my awesome teammates, Emma Li, and Malec Caudell. I really enjoyed working with you guys, and couldn’t have asked for better partners for the final project.

We had some difficulties over the course of this assignment, but it all ended up working out really well. We worked great together as a team, and ended up coming together and making an awesome project, with some help along the way from everyone involved, Professor Collins, and all of our fantastic sources that we used. I really loved making this project, focused on Diversity.
The University of Illinois is hailed as being one of the most diverse countries in America, but we really wanted to investigate this claim and see if it was true or not. I think we reached a pretty good answer.

I especially hope you guys will check this one out: Check out our final project on diversity “Diverse Voices UIUC” here.

P.s. I was really proud of the picture I took of Emma interviewing Dr. Salo, you see it above!

The Semester, As A Whole

Overall, over the course of the semester I’m really excited with the things that I have done, and the things that I have learned. I got a new sense of myself, and all of the great things that I can do if given enough time and a small bit of guidance along the way. I really enjoyed working with everyone in the class, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do that again someday!

We all had struggles along the way, but with help from each other and fantastic leadership from Professor Collins (who I can honestly say is my favorite professor I’ve ever had), we all got through our issues, and ended up learning more about our skills, and each other.
Overall, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything else, and I’m so glad that I got to partake in this semester’s class.

Thanks for joining me on the journey.

I leave you with one piece of parting advice: Enjoy every moment of life that you can, even the bad ones. My favorite author, in his great book “Our Town” Thornton Wilder once wrote

“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”

Signing off, for the last time, for Off the Shelf and Online Illinois, I’ve been, am, and always will be, Nathaniel Williamson…

…and nothing will ever change that.

If you like the work, I’ll shamelessly plug my sports blogs to you. Follow them!

The Sports Guys Site

Cover 32 NFL Blog

 

Williamson Group Reflection

I think it’s appropriate for me to take a moment before I go into detail about our group’s projects to talk about how awesome it is how far we’ve all come together since the beginning of this semester. I personally know that I’ve made friends here that I’ll never forget, and have strengthened some friendships I’d already made! I’m really excited to see all the epic things we are 150% destined to do in the future, and the impact we will make as a whole.

Be The Power

First off: I really loved the entirety of this piece. From the mission, to the execution, you guys have it all done really well! I really like the website layout, color scheme, and how it starts off straight away hitting you with facts that both are interesting, and allow you to learn more about your project. I really think you guys killed it in all of your packages, and also really enjoy how your menu transitions from up to down from learning about and hearing the issue that you present, into what you can actually do about sexual assault, and how you can make an impact even just in your individual life. A little help for someone else can go a long way in the scheme of  things, I think you guys captured this really well!

 

The Accessible Experience

The first taste I ever got of wheelchair basketball was from a tv show called “Friday Night Lights.” A future-NFL quarterback gets sidelined and paralyzed from the waist down, and joins a wheelchair rugby team (Though it’s not actually wheelchair basketball, it showcases a lot of the same skills that prove that people in wheelchairs can continue to be top of the line athletes despite their “handicap”. I Think you guys did a fantastic job of putting this piece together. I really enjoyed that you guys branched out from the wheelchair basketball team and made the piece more about the struggle of accessibility on campus as a whole for people in wheelchairs. My friend Nae was actually in your video, she’s a caretaker! She’s a really interesting person, and her job is something she really cherishes, which is great! I really learned a lot about the issues with accessibility on campus, and what people are trying to do to fix them.

 

A-typical Is The New Typical

Really enjoyed this project. I think far too often people are left out of the main picture of what it is like to be a college student. I really enjoyed that you guys showcased the different quirks, differences, and cool things about students that people may otherwise have not known about! I really like the thought that even the most typical, or a-typical, student can be important to the university, and that everyone has their own pros, cons, faults, and advantages. I really like that you guys were able to successfully capture the wild world of the college student in the time restraints we were given. This was far and away some of the best work I’ve seen from the class, and I enjoyed it a lot.

 

It’s been a pleasure to get to work with everyone in this class, and once again I’m so excited to see what the futures hold for us!

 

Griffin Group Reflection

First off, I’d like to start by saying how honored I am to be in the same class as so many talented individuals. The work that I saw put on display in each group’s final presentation was tremendous, and I think we can all say we have come such a long way and progressed incredibly well from the beginning of the semester.

Continue reading

Group Reflection – Schmitt

After watching each group present, I was so proud to see everyone’s work come together. The collaboration and teamwork was truly inspiring, and I’m very thankful to be a small part of this amazing class. What a semester! What improvement! Thank you, Professor Collins for guiding the way. The blood, sweat and tears paid off.

Continue reading

It’s actually over: Jour 215, it’s been real.

img_0543(Me and Sharon Cooper, Sandra Bland’s sister after her visit to class)

 

Wow, Journalism 215 “Multimedia” is actually over. As I sit here writing this, it’s amazing to look back and realize that this semester has gone by so fast. Over the span of these 16 weeks, I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot including how to use a digital single lens reflex camera, (DSLR for short), how to create an audio package, and especially how to make a story out of limited resources. It means so much to me that I feel better prepared for my career as a broadcast journalist because of Dr. Collins’ class this fall. As you continue reading, you will get insight into what my experience was like this semester:

Continue reading

Beyond words: Becoming a multimedia journalist

IMG_0066Before taking Multimedia Reporting, I always considered myself a print journalist, a writer. Words were my specialty. I ordered them in a way that makes people want to read them. In addition to my words, I often compiled graphics  to help explain complex issues. Sometimes, I’d take some photos or shoot a video if I thought it was  necessary to comprehend a story I had written. I tried not to add multimedia, though, because it was a lot of work. Plus, did it really add that much?

Yes, yes it did.

Continue reading