Tag Archives: journalism

The words that I speak are spirit

By: Taylor Howard 

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 , “ What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequence of your words.”; this means that the words you speak over life can manifest. My name is Taylor Howard and I grew up in the South suburbs of Chicago in a home rooted in Christian foundations. I firmly believe that the lessons instilled in me have been applicable not only to my faith life, but within my professional development as well.  I have always been a dreamer and take on any task with enthusiasm and a learning spirit. My optimism and drive have gotten me through my collegiate career, and with my final semester coming to an end, I have learned so much about myself as a professional, student, journalist and a young adult. 

My experience in college has been nothing short of amazing. I was afforded the opportunity to serve in leadership positions, obtain a respectable GPA, and have joined extracurriculars that helped me advance in my career, all while still allowing time to have fun and spend time with my friends as well. Before my final semester began, despite the challenges of classes, I wrote these words on a Post-It Note to say every day until graduation, “ This will be your most pivotal semester, but your best semester yet!”

Little did I know how drastic and unpredictable this semester would play out…


The experiences from the College of Media and the Journalism department have created a platform for me to be more versed in multimedia and understand the dynamics and ethical standards of this profession, however TV1 and TV2 taught me how to be an effective reporter and to never sell myself short. I’d like to consider myself an optimistic person, so I would  handle the pressure of the newsroom with ease right? Uh…. maybe not!

Initially, I was discouraged, because I felt like many of my peers were more advanced with Adobe, broadcasting writing and editing; not to mention I was not learning as fast as others. I’m sure you all know at this point that the news waits for NO ONE( if you do not know this yet, by the end of taking this course you will) . However, Dr. Collins and my classmates challenged me to optimize my strengths and work on my weaknesses. I quickly remembered that if I keep speaking on the things I am not good at, rather than embracing what I am good at, I will continue to lack confidence and never succeed in these goals. As I recalled the Bible verse as aforementioned, I changed my language from “ I can’t” to “ In due time, with hard work and determination, I will”. 

… And that is exactly what I did. I knew that I had Leadership experience and was organized, so for our first news cast, I agreed to be the assignment manager, the position that handles the logistics of each newscast and ensuring all content is done by the deadline. Boy what this crazy! It was already challenging to manage all the reporter’s individual work, but the morning of our first newscast, our 30 minute segment was extended to 45 minutes! Myself and the producer of the week had to quickly assemble a game plan on how to add content to the show and I was able to get a live guest and still ensure that everyone still met their deadlines. Yes, there were many issues that arrayed, but for our first show and for the position I was in helped me realize that I have the flexibility, leadership and tenacity that it takes to work in media. My classmates and I had a unique relationship, as we were not just peers, but each other’s biggest supporters. Everyone was very supportive and assisted one another with their packages and assignments, which helped me catch up and learn how to edit faster and more effectively. Though there were mistakes, I successfully did my first news update, was the weatherwoman (1:21) and my package ran in our newscast (12:32) ! Myself and my classmates were getting in the swing of the routine of things… until March 13, 2020, when we began to receive information via email about closing University buildings and modifying face- to- face interaction to online learning.  


Hold up… this was not how I planned to end my college career!

When I received the initial emails, I was confused, yet was not concerned about the virus. As it was to many citizens in the United States, no one knew what was going on regarding the virus, other than how fast- spreading it is. I was not expecting that within a span of five days would mean my commencement and graduations would be cancelled, my internship opportunities have either been halted or cancelled, and had to say goodbye to my colleagues prematurely. Like many students, I am in a state of devastation and saddened by the current circumstance of how the duration of the semester will pan out.

Just as quickly as college was changing, the community and campus town that were my homes, did not seem so familiar. The Chicagoland area, known as the “City that Never Sleeps”, was now empty. The small interactions I encounter with strangers throughout my day- whether at a grocery store or at a local restaurant, people barely made eye contact. The joy and pleasure I had attending church services and shopping centers, I now have to go online. This is the normacely of life.

What hit me the most however, is that reality began to set in that due to the abrupt interruption, I was unable to prepare for my post graduate plans like I anticipated.  I did construct my reel yet, I wanted to put more content out, I wanted to continue working on my tone and practice at Richmond Studios after classes, etc. However, I was not afforded with the resources such as camera equipment and a Mac computer to work with Adobe applications. Imposter syndrome set in quickly and I began to get discouraged once again. For the first few weeks after spring break, I was extremely unmotivated and did not know I was able to finish strong in my classes.However,  It is no coincidence that I was reassured by the verse that changed my mindset throughout my life! I did not realize at the time; how applicable this quote would be in many situations throughout my life.


 On Thursday, March 19, I began to “reset” and prepare for alternative ways to achieve academic and professional success by utilizing an unfamiliar learning platform. While adjusting to online classes, I am also challenging myself to find creative ways to ensure that my organizations are remaining compliant and diversifying program planning. As I began to change my mindset, I realized that the lessons I have learned in TV1 and especially TV2, that as journalists, our careers have prepared us to deal with the unpredictable! As I have stated, the news does not stop for anyone…. And neither should we( journalists). Sure, I experienced some difficulties navigating online classes and staying on top of my school work, but I had to adapt to the changes and spend extra time familiarizing myself with it. Additionally, I faced a lot of technical problems as well. I did not have a Mac computer, but the computer I did have broke; because of that, I was not able to get on my zoom calls and it was setting me back on my homework assignments. Rather than giving up, I called into my classes, got additional office hours and borrowed a computer from the media center. 

I began thinking as a journalist, and not as a regular citizen. Journalists embrace change and find alternative ways to inform the public. Journalists are flexible and move with urgency. Journalists put their all into their content. Journalists never give up on their purpose and platform. I can confidently say this, as I gained this through quarantining. Most importantly, I learned how to be a critical and independent thinker. The Journalism department at the U of I challenges their students to use autonomy and express oneself.  TV2, however, introduced me to a new way of thinking about the content in which I put out. As this class operates as a student- produced show, our peers are tested to help us make more reasonable and sound decision making when it comes to the quality of our work. Dr. Collins encouraged healthy disagreements and taught us how to balance challenging, yet respecting one’s way of thinking; we collaboratively helped each other be better decision makers. I cannot stress the importance of trying to master this, as we will make bigger, more impactful decisions in our future. 

During the pandemic, the logic of critical thinking has helped me analyze my issues at hand ( technology issues and  lack of motivation) and come up with strategies of a plan of action on how to overcome these obstacles. I learned the value of planning ahead and celebrating “small victories” of completing homework assignments on time, etc. by treating myself to a treat. As my class is the producer of our own news article for our alternative final project, I have to make all the decisions for the betterment of my personal project. Utilizing the exercises from class, I weigh all the pros and cons of a story and question the “why” of my angle. Even though I wish that I was in the newsroom with my classmates, quarenting has helped me become a better journalist and adult. 


As my time at the University of Illinois has come to an end, I cannot forget the lessons, experiences and privileges that I have had over these past four years. I am grateful that I was challenged in my TV2 class and I would be remiss if I did not share a few suggestions on how to navigate through this class. Yes, we know the obvious: to work hard, to not miss deadlines and to go to class, but here are some that are often overlooked and that I will carry on with me for the rest of my life: 

  1. Never miss an opportunity- no matter how substantial, or small a position might be, ensure that you are making the most out of the class and gain as much holistic experience as you can; you never know if saying “yes”, might open a door for you.
  2. There is always room for you to get better- We are all students seeking media jobs after we graduate. Take the initiative to do the extra package, to stay later to learn the switch board, to be the producer more than a few times, ask your peers for help! The amount of effort you put in will reap wonderful results!
  3. In the words of Ken Erdey, “It’s just TV”- Public speaking is a difficult task! Although I have experience, anchoring is another ball game. Initially, I used to get down on myself when I made a mistake, but I quickly realized that I must not let it define me- I must move forward. I have learned, outside of journalism, no matter the obstacles I face, I can always prevail! This mindset is so crucial to become the best you can be. If you don’t believe in you, who will? 
  4. Lastly- “pay it forward”, something I will take with me for the rest of my life. News is not a one an show and there are many moving parts. It is essential to work collaboratively with your peers and create content that is ethical, tasteful and relevant for the audience they are informing. It was inspiring for me to be in a class of students who were intelligent and brought different perspectives and promoted inclusivity. Help one another, as we all impact each other in some way. 


I will miss the many memories of being in TV2. I will remember the hustle and bustle of Newscast days and the urgency we all had to meet deadlines, I will remember the laughs, encouraging conversations we had and the music breaks we did. Most importantly, I will remember the late nights before a newscast, how my class worked diligently to have the most perfect show the next day. As I reflect and conclude my final blog, I can genuinely say, I am proud of myself. I am proud that I am more intentional with my reporting and that I can convey a story more effectively. I am proud that I carried out my Post- It. 

“ This will be your most pivotal semester, but your best semester yet!”

Sure, I have had more eventful semesters, but unlearning bad habits, prioritizing my mental and physical health, adapting to the normalcy of life and choosing joy in a time like this has undoubtedly made this the most provital, but best semester. My words that I speak are spirit.

For the last time, I’m Taylor Mattingly UI-7 News…

Wow, this has been a heck of a semester. I have to say that I have learned so much. Going into this semester, I was excited to be finishing my last semester at the University of Illinois. I had just accepted a promotion at my job, and the first two and a half months in school was cancelled. We attended class on Tuesday, and by Thursday the world was no longer the same. Now, I’m turning this in just having accepted another promotion. My wedding has been postponed, and the same goes for graduation… My heart is broken, but I also have more than a lot of people do in the world.

Continue reading

Journalism 445 Final Self-Reflection Blog

Photo by Ken Erdey

Going into this semester, I knew I was going to have a large amount of work ahead of me and that it would be different compared to other semesters in the past. Having two jobs, taking 18 credit hours, being the Music Director of an A Cappella group on campus, participating in numerous extracurriculars and more resulted in me attempting to get a head start on anything I could for this course. Anytime I saw an opportunity to work ahead, I took it. For example, our first newscast.

Originally, I was scheduled to produce a News Update, which I was both nervous and excited to do, as I had never had an opportunity to do something like this before in a class. Because I knew I was going to have a lot of work to accomplish in the semester, I aimed to produce most of the content on my own. I had planned to complete a VO on the Krannert Hive Exhibit, and a VOSOTVO on a concert taking place at the University of Illinois Spurlock Museum. After filming both of these, I began editing as early as possible. However, my plans changed upon coming to class the following day.

We had been scheduled to have five packages, but by the Tuesday of that week, only four had been worked on. Seeing the stress our producers for the week were facing, I stepped up and volunteered to create a package, as I had captured enough B-Roll and three sources to complete this. I was stressed about completing this in addition to the work I had already signed up for, but I was determined to do whatever I could to help my fellow classmates.

Though it was not perfect, I was proud of the finished result of what I completed. In addition to my own News Update, I was able to assist my fellow classmates who had produced their own News Updates as floor director. This was my first time in this position, and was one I enjoyed for the Updates. It gave me an opportunity to encourage others and get them excited for their solo on-air moments. After the News Updates were completed, our newscast was next.

This was a slightly longer show than we were told about previously, which proved to be somewhat hectic the day of the show. Floor directing was slightly harder in this scene, as it was a faster-paced episode with more content than the News Updates. Near the end of the show, I was brought onto the set to discuss my package I had worked on.

However, due to technical difficulties, my package had not played as it did during my actual News Update. Though this was frustrating to watch and know that there was nothing I could do about it, I remained calm and discussed the concert to the best of my ability. The end result of our newscast was excellent due to the hard work of everyone who helped.

For our following newscast, I was allowed to take a week off since I had completed both a News Update and a package. This came at a great time, as I had several projects, an exam and an interview for graduate school that week. I was instead able to anchor our newscast alongside Yuhan Ma. The following week, I was able to create a package related to the upcoming U.S. Census for 2020. I had some difficulty with this, as I had to miss a class in order to film for it, but I was committed to getting the job done so I could continue to get ahead in this class. In the end, I was able to put together a package I was proud of and later aired on UI-7 News (1:30).

With two packages and one VO completed, I was determined to complete as many of my assignments as possible in order to get prepared for after spring break. I signed up to complete my second and final News Update, so that I could produce more content to ensure my work was aired. For this update, I had planned to film an event on scientific consulting for a VO and a VOSOTVO on a play at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Upon filming the play, I found that I once again had much more information that I could create into a package instead of squeezing into a VOSOTVO. I decided to create my final package, and was very excited to do so. The actors and producers even requested a copy of my final product for their own use, which I happily sent over to them.

Photo by Ken Erdey

In the midst of editing together work for my News Update, we received word that the University of Illinois would be suspending classes for two weeks after spring break due to the coronavirus. Wanting to report this, I began preparing a VO on the email. A few hours later, President Timothy Killeen announced that the university would indefinitely be holding classes online, so I updated my VO to further reflect this. While doing this, I realized how this would impact the rest of the year for my fellow classmates and myself. Everyone at Richmond Journalism Studio who was part of Good Morning Illini or Illini Sports Night expressed their upset regarding this. People would be missing out on producing shows they were passionate about. They wouldn’t be able to film segments for the programs they loved so much. I not only felt upset for myself, but for them, especially for the seniors.

Following this, we were told that we could not hold class the following day, so those of us who were producing News Updates decided to take matters into our own hands. Alex Agulera, Liam Dwyer, Dan Gerardi, Yuhan Ma, Danielle Williams, Becca Wood and I all stayed at Richmond studio and assisted one another with our News Updates until roughly 2 A.M. that night. We worked switcher, audio, playback, helped one another with mics and cameras and supported each other so we could complete professional and high-quality updates that we could also use for our future reels.

At that time, we still had the technology and resources available to complete works that could be used for a future career. Even though we were all tired and exhausted by the end of the night, this showed our determination to get the job done in order to do well in this course, and I am proud of the work I completed in order to do this. I am extremely grateful for every single one of my fellow classmates who helped out that night, and it reflected on their ability to get the job done, even during a crisis.

Once we learned that we would be working at home for the remainder of the semester, I was concerned how the work I had already accomplished would be reflected in regards to this. However, I tried to work diligently and broke up each section of my article into sections. That allowed me to get a fresh start every day.

In spite of the events that have occurred within the last month, I feel as though this class prepared me for creating the best broadcast productions possible. If I could give any advice, it would be to work ahead and get the job done as soon as possible. Most of my work was completed prior to spring break, which began on March 13. Capture more footage than you think you will need, get an interview if one is available and always help others.

This class has taught me that teamwork can truly get the job done. Make sure you save your footage when editing as much as possible so you don’t lose anything! Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. One thing I’ve learned as a journalism major is that so many other students are in the same boat as you, so someone may have had the same problem or question you have.

Another thing I would mention is to not be discouraged when things do not work out. Personally, I am a detail-oriented person who likes to know a strict plan and stick to it. However, I know this is not how the real world works, and this prepared me more for the future. Using critical thinking skills allowed me to develop more as a professional, and inspired me to think more on the spot about how to accomplish a task to the best of my ability with the resources I had been given.

Photo by Ken Erdey

Additionally, confidence is key. There were times in this class where I felt I did not perform to the best of my ability, but that only inspired me to try harder and to build my confidence. A lot of that confidence came from the support of my wonderful fellow classmates. Our class was one that supported, encouraged and helped one another. When we all put our heads together, we were able make creations that we were all proud of. That is one of the things I will remember most about this class.

As a journalist, there will often times be roadblocks that occur when you least expect them to. The best thing to do is be flexible and try your hardest to do your best work. This goes for anyone in any occupation, not just journalism. Being flexible and working through situations together with the help of others will only make you stronger. At the end of the day, I am grateful for the opportunities I had in this class, because it allowed me to work harder and develop my skills as a journalist and a professional. This was without a doubt the hardest semester I have faced at the University of Illinois, but this class taught me that with hard work, determination and a positive attitude, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

On top of everything that has occurred to me personally throughout this semester, I was able to complete nearly every assignment in this class before spring break. Additionally, I led my a cappella group in rehearsal for nine hours a week, and even led us in a competition. I worked two jobs in order to help my family. I applied, interviewed at and got accepted to a graduate school with one of the top programs in the country that I thought I stood no chance of getting into. Looking back on this semester, despite every obstacle I faced, I am proud of that.

A Unique For of Social Justice: Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is a major figure in the theatre and social justice world. On February 18, 2020, she performed at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the Colwell Playhouse. This is the most unique form of social justice advocation I have ever experienced.

By Elena Grantcharski

The basis of Anna Deavere Smith’s performance was journalism. She would interview these people, pick out the ones that spoke the most and create them into one woman shows and full fledged plays. Her one woman performance was unique and a showcase of true talent because she had no costume, no props, and no stage decorations at all. She was wearing all black and the only tool she used was her voice. She showed the true power of using your voice. However, something important that she emphasized was that she was not giving these people a voice, these people already had strong and beautiful voices, she was just popularizing their stories to a wider audience. She would preface every character with a short introduction and then word for word use her voice to speak as if she were them. It took voice imitation to a whole other level, using it not just as entertainment but also as social justice and education.

Ticket stub for Anna Deavere Smith’s Tuesday night performance at the Colwell Playhouse.
Continue reading

Stories of Many Through One: Anna Deavere Smith

Ms. Anna Deavere Smith visited the Krannert Center of Performing Arts with an hour-long show delving into discussions about social issues through the perspective of people on the front lines in a style I describe as a mix between theatre and Ted talk.

Written by Grace Chen

Anna Deavere Smith
Continue reading

Cassidy Ragland-Final Reflection

At the beginning of the semester, I had no interest in pursuing a journalism degree. I had tried print media and I knew it wasn’t for me, and I was bitterly taking journalism classes because I had already come this far, might as well finish it. The first day of class I felt so unexperienced and overwhelmed I considered dropping. Thank God I didn’t. Throughout this class I have developed a passion for broadcast journalism. I had so much fun writing and researching stories, I felt like I was fulfilling my creative side by shooting with a camera, and I’ve always had a passion for performing and getting up to anchor seemed natural. I even loved being floor manager during news breaks. For that, thank you Dr. Collins. I’m so glad I didn’t give up, because now I can see myself pursuing this career in so many ways.

It all started with the video essay. I had never picked up a camera and I was so nervous. I thought I had a good topic, but I was clueless about the shots. I needed more tight shots, but overall I was just relieved I got it done. It took me hours to teach myself Premiere, but I was really happy for my first time editing.

For my Vo1 and VoSotVo1

I was nervous to make a turn. Originally I had a completely different event in mind, but that fell through. Dr. Collins had taught us all about having our plans A, B, and C, so I went on with plan B which was the International Jayhawk Festival. Walking in I was instantly inspired. I had some editing issues, but I really liked my shots for this one. Writing the story I enjoyed as well. I’ve always been more of a conversational writer, so broadcast seemed to be right up my alley.

Next, we had our Vo2 and VoSotVo2. I wasn’t as happy with this one. I felt like the shots I got wasn’t as interesting as the ones I got in my first Vo and VoSotVo. I thought the topic was interesting but it wasn’t easy to write a story about it. The actor I interviewed was adorable, but I could have done a better job steering the interview. Overall, I would say I did pretty mediocre on this one. I was still figuring out sound editing as well.

For our Vo3 I really liked how my shots turned out. I felt like I had a lot to work with and with the music I had some great nat sound. This was also difficult to write about, but I thought the storytelling through the shots was good. I got a little too audio-happy in editing, but overall I was happy with this one. For the VoSotVo3, I was a little less happy with it. I thought cyberbullying was a relevant topic and I used one of my current events for it. I felt like I was grasping at straws to write this story and it became too late to change the topic. I wish I had a more interesting background for the interview, but I couldn’t think of anywhere for a cyberbullying story.

I really had a great time filming package 1 and package 2. The stand up for package one I thought was nice, however there was a crisis with the audio. When we went to review our stand up our audio was completely gone. We refilmed the stand up, but without the Quidditch posts it was boring. So our plan C was to lay down an audio track to go over our first stand up. It worked, not awesome, but I was content. The second package I loved the nat sound with the singers, but I should’ve given it more time to breath and brought the audio down way more. I loved the topics and writing both of these stories was a lot of fun.

The news break was way funner than I thought it would be. I’m pretty comfortable in front of the camera, but I could feel how nervous I was about my package. Overall, I felt pretty good about my delivery.

Thank you so much for a wonderful semester, Dr. Collins was honestly one of the best professors I’ve ever had and I learned so much more this semester than I thought I would when I initially enrolled. Thank you.

Jackson Schneider – Final Reflection

Well, here it goes…

First off, Dr. Collins, I owe you an apology. When this semester began, I did not think I was going to like you. You came in with your big-time knowledge about journalism and broadcasting and I stubbornly thought you weren’t going to be someone I got along with.

Wow, was I wrong. I have never had a professor that genuinely cares about her students and their success like you do. I instantly began to grow to like you and learn from you quickly. Your teaching method was intense and immersive and, at times, overwhelming, but I have never gotten so much from a class as I have from this one. So, I am sorry for ever thinking I wouldn’t like you because you are hands down the best professor I have ever had.


As for my journey throughout this class, I began with little video experience and it showed in my first project. In my Video Essay, I had numerous shaky camera shots and blurry ones as well. I accidentally forgot a tripod when I filmed this video, creating the bad, shaky shots. As for the story line, I thought it was all there for an early video essay.

Moving on to the first real news stories we did on the year, the VO1 and VOSOT1, I thought that my Farmer’s Ball story was a good start to the year but the structure and planning of my story layout needed a lot of work. I thought I had a good soundbite, but it was a little long. Overall, I thought I did a good job. 

In my VO2 and VOSOT2, I began to put things together a little better in terms of structure and planning of my shots, and getting a good interview. For a story that was about the new upgrades to the union (what I would consider a horribly boring topic), I think I did fairly well.

When we set up our third stage of projects, we had to finally do different topics for the VO3 and VOSOT3. That provided a very interesting challenge. Having to find not one, but two separate stories, was a challenge I have not been faced with before. I think that it made me better though because I had to utilize a plan C.

The growth that I got from PACKAGE1 to PACKAGE2 is evident to me because I moved on from sports to a human interest story that I truly enjoyed. The second package was a story about my high school teacher whose son is battling cancer.  It’s a story I have followed since the beginning. I truly enjoyed who I worked with and how I got to know the situation and gain perspective on a community I am closed tied to.

The NEWSBREAK was an entirely different situation. I have never done any live TV of any sort before in my life and it was so intimidating but also amazing at the same time because it was a blast and it confirmed what I want to do with my career. This class helped me grow so much in my journalism career and I am so glad to have been given this opportunity.

Dr. Collins, Thank you for everything.

-Jackson Schneider

This semester has been a true whirlwind. Being in 18 credit hours and classes that I have been challenged by all semester long with having the opportunity to be elected to two different campus organizations executive boards. I am lucky for all the experience KU has offered me including journalism 550. This class was easily the hardest journalism class I have taken at KU. It challenged what I already knew about reporting and opened my eyes to so many different things. More then that it gave me a group of people who turned into life long friends. I feel so lucky that our class got so close and that from our first video essays to our news breaks we were all in it together.

Video Essay

Our first assignment was our video essay. This ended up being my favorite project we did. For Dr. Collins being new to KU it was fun to describe the idea of what Allen field house is and the traditions behind it. This video project was a fun topic to cover and I had plenty of video to choose from. I did forget my tripod so many of my shots are shaky. If I could redo it I would bring the tripod and and sure volume levels are correct so you can’t hear my voice in the background.

VO and Vosotsvo 1

Our next assignment was to do a VO and Vosotvo. I was very nervous about this assignment. At this point in the semester in terms to this class I felt as though I was drowning, I was overwhelmed and didn’t think I was qualified for this class. I had never written a script before and had no idea what I was doing. I felt better because the entire class was unsure exactly what we were doing. I felt like we were all struggling together. We kept being reassured that we would not drown we were learning to swim. For this one I chose to cover the flu and how to stay healthy. This was a big topic at the time due to the time of the year. My interview was not the greatest but I enjoyed going up in front of the class and reading my script. It was the first time that I felt like being a reporter was a capable goal.

VO and Vosotvo 2

The second VO and Vosotvo I was feeling better then the first. I felt as though I had a better understanding of what I was doing. This time I chose to do it on students choosing housing for the upcoming year. I was also in the process of signing a lease at the time so that helped with my inspiration for this one. I interviewed one guy first but sadly the interview didn’t record sound. I learned from that quickly to never leave an interview without checking and having headphones in while it records. In the mess of that not recording we also had two snow days at KU both falling on our class days. This through the class for a loop but we were able to Skype with Dr, Collins which was helpful to get feedback on what we were doing. My biggest regret and mistake of this package was not getting enough footage. I had a minimal amount to choose from. I believe it could have been better but it was a learning point for me.

VO and Vosotvo 3

This VO and Vosotvo we were not allowed to do the same topic. I was originally worried about coming up with two different story idea but it turned out being easier then expected. KU had just won the big 12 for the 14th straight season and I believed that would be a great VO to cover. I got some good shots but Allen Fieldhouse is very restricted and was hard to get in to take video. This was an added challenge but I believe with that I still persevered and got a good video. This was also the first assignment where I was more confident in my scripts. After spending Mondays in the news room writing scripts along with doing them for class I felt as though I was able to write a more conversational script. For the vosotvo which ended up being my favorite vosotvo I did was my friend Taylor who was auditioning for the bachelor of fine arts program at KU. It was a different type of subject then I had done before but I believe that’s why I liked it so much. There was a lot of movement as I got the chance to film parts of the dance she was preforming for the audition. If I could do it again I would make this vosotvo into a full package along with that I would like to get better angels of different movements. This was the point in the class I was starting to swim. I was still struggling a little but learning to swim slowly but surely.

Package 1

The package was a daunting task of the class. I knew that we were working up to it but at some points it felt like I would never be able to do a full package. For this we got to to work with our partners and I was lucky enough to be paired with Katie. She was an awesome partner and we worked very well together. We chose to do ours on the no smoking policy that will be implemented this upcoming summer. We focused mainly on e-cigerttes and vaping which is a common activity amongst students. During this project I had to do the most research out of all of the videos we had made so far. I wanted to make sure that we got all the facts right about the policy and what students could expect. I felt as though we got interviews that we were able to work with. The standup was an added stress because neither Katie nor I had ever done one before but it ended up being a lot of fun going out and shooting it. I thought this package came together really well. It was a large help having a partner for the first one to get our feet wet in making these packages.

Package 2

The second package we were on our own to shoot, write our script and edit. This was the first time we were completely on our own with little to no guidance and it tested our abilities to build off everything we had learned this entire semester and put it into one final package that would go into our live news breaks. I chose my package idea after seeing tours on campus and remembering my first tour at KU and falling in love immediately. I am an out of state student and know many others who are also from out of state so I went deeper and did some research about the increasing trend at KU of out of state students. I was lucky enough to score an interview with the senior associate director of admissions. She was one of the best interview I was able to get all semester. It was clear interviewing her how much she cared about each students that walked through the doors at KU. I had a few shaky shots in this video which I wasn’t thrilled about but I was working with weather and wind. I also thought that audio levels were okay but when played later in my news break the interviews were quiet. This is now something that I will always check. Little things that you learn along the way that once it happens once you will never forget.

News breaks 

The news break were the end goal of the semester and I doubted many time we would ever be able to pull off a newscast but we did it! I am beyond proud of our class and myself for coming as far as we did. One of my biggest struggles is talking to fast when I present, read out loud, talk, really anything. This is a continuing problem I will be working on and practicing. It was helpful to have classmates encouraging me along the way. We each were there for each other and without all the teamwork these wouldn’t have been possible. For me the hardest part of the news breaks was the weather. I was unsure how to best read the weather to make it interesting for a viewer. Going back and rewatching my news break I can see places I can improve like moving my papers and talking to fast. This was an amazing opportunity though that a JOUR 550 class hadn’t gotten to do before.

WOW! Looking back at this blog and seeing all that we have done and all that I have accomplished this semester I am still in shock. This was easily the hardest class I was in this semester but also the most rewarding. I came out of class a better journalist but also a better person. I learned life lessons and had deep and meaningful talks with both Dr. Collins and with my fellow classmates. This class challenged me academically but also personally. I grew as a person and I feel as though I can come out of this class saying that I am better because of it and each and every person in this class has made that possible. This class turned into a family that will never be broken. It is sad to see us all go our separate ways. Saying goodbye for the summer is always hard but it is harder this year knowing that I won’t be returning this fall to this same JOUR 550 class filled with so much love and passion. I feel so lucky that I took 550 when I did and that I had the chance to take it from Dr. Collins. She was an inspiration everyday to live life to the fullest and to not take a moment for granted. This is something I will hold on to for the rest of my life. I would finally just like to thank everyone in this class and most importantly Dr. Collins for bringing us all together to make this amazing and swimming family we are.


Caroline Appleby

End of the Road – Tiffany’s Final Reflection

Wow, what a semester!

This was my only class I took, but having a full-time job at KSNT News made it somewhat stressful. I started as a Breaking News Producer, working primarily on the web and going out to cover breaking news scenes if no reporter was available. Now I’m training to become the new Morning Producer and will take on producing the morning show on my own.

Despite how stressful juggling this class and my job was, Dr. Collins was an amazing professor. She had to juggle learning the ropes of our journalism department at KU, as well as helping us become better journalists.

The first assignment was the video essay. At first, I was unsure what to do for this even though it was probably the easiest assignment. At work, I got sent to cover a church that caught fire. With Dr. Collins’s permission, I used that video for the video essay assignment.

Our second assignment was to do a VO and VOSOTVO on the same topic. Since flu season was in full force, I was wondering how gyms were dealing with it and what precautions they were taking.

There was confusion when it came to set up an interview. The staff at the rec center thought I was wanting to talk more on the medical side, but my focus was on the gym (working out while sick, wiping down equipment, etc.). It eventually all worked out and I got some good video and an interview.

With the second VO/VOSOTVO assignment, I panicked a little about finding something. Luckily, at work I covered this groundbreaking ceremony a church put on. That day was so windy, dirt was blowing everywhere. So while dirt was blowing into my face, I tried to keep my shots as steady as possible. I was also dealing with clouds moving in and out, so the lighting in some of my shots was a little bad.

For the third VO/VOSOTVO, we had to do different topics. Initially I thought this would be easy because I wouldn’t have to do an interview. My thought process behind that was to cover the last women’s basketball home game and use soundbites from the post game press conference. I then remembered I would have to transcribe that entire press conference and almost all of those questions weren’t mine.

I decided to switch and make the game my VO. Jose actually had the same idea so we both covered that game. It was cool to see how our minds worked and the different shots we used; really cool to see that play out. I was happy to be covering a sporting event because in previous semesters my focus was on sports.

As for the VOSOTVO, I chose to cover one of the veggie lunches the Ecumenical Campus Ministries puts on every Thursday. The interview went smoothly, but getting shots was a struggle for me. The tripod I had was so unstable it made my shots shaky. Some of my shots were also dark. I was kind of disappointed with how it turned out because I knew I could have done better.

I was excited to move on from the VOs and VOSOTs and start doing packages!

Cain was a great partner and was very helpful. Our first idea was to cover how law enforcement was preparing for March Madness. Then we switched focus to how bars were preparing for it. Cain was able to get some video over the weekend since I worked and wasn’t able to. He eventually suggested a new idea to me…our Plan C! Again, with both of our schedules he was able to go shoot video and 3 interviews easily, as the Justice For All Group was on the Stauffer-Flint lawn.

We worked together to write the script and help each other with our stand-ups. Some shots weren’t white balanced properly, but shooting video outside can be challenging. All in all, I think we did a good job working together to make the first package.

Then came our second package. This was done individually, which in my opinion, was less stressful because we didn’t have to coordinate with our partners. Everyone has such different and busy schedules

However, this package brought more stress than I had anticipated. Once again, my first two plans fell through and I went to Plan C.

I was so excited for my Plan A and am still sad it fell through. I was on the app Nextdoor and came across a post coordinating a walking group. It got lots of engagement and so I took a shot and emailed the woman that posted it. Right away she was willing to do the story. It was difficult trying to find a day they were walking that was also on my day off (and also was on a day with good weather…). I met the woman near the Levee Cafe, just north of the river. The issue was it was only her and one other woman. I worked with what I had and got great shots, hoping to attend another walking session with more people.

Well, I met her again and it was only her. She wasn’t very happy and said she wasn’t going to put in the effort anymore if nobody was going to show up. She was very sweet and sympathetic, apologizing my story didn’t work out.

Then it was on to Plan B. When I first moved to Lawrence, I was very into health and fitness. I came across this company called Fitness Kitchen that makes healthy meals and packages them up to sell. They seemed excited that I wanted to do a story about them, but they were very slow in responding to my messages. The Sunday before the package was due, I decided I would have to move to Plan C.

It all fell right into place that Sunday. At work, I was sent to cover a veteran that was turning 100. As soon as I walked in, one of the employees was extremely helpful and eager to help me do this story. Without asking me about it, he immediately grabbed family members and asked if I could talk to them, basically doing the hard part for me! It then clicked that this would be my package.

I interviewed, Art, the veteran turning 100, his brother and two of his sons. I didn’t do a standup because I was pressed for time, as I had to write and edit this as a VOSOT for our 5 p.m. show. Everything worked out and I’m so happy I used this story for my package.

I was very excited to do the news breaks because I want more practice anchoring. I found it hard to time everything right and I was short for both news breaks. In the second news break, the teleprompter wasn’t loaded for my news break. I pointed it out a few minutes before I was set to go, but I don’t think anyone heard me. I then got distracted when I saw we had an IFB, so as I was adjusting that I had less than 30 seconds to get back in my spot. My rundown still wasn’t loaded and we went right into my news break and I pointed it out live on air, without realizing we were live. I quickly heard Dr. Collins in my ear telling me to keep going and I was mad at myself that I didn’t realize I could easily look down at my scripts.

Luckily, my package was the first thing to run, so the person running teleprompter was able to get my rundown loaded before I was back on camera. Everything else went smoothly, other than the fact that I was about 30 seconds short.

This class left a huge impact on me. Being older than everyone, I felt pretty out of place and felt as if I wouldn’t be able to connect with anyone. I was completely wrong. This class was hands down, the best group of people I’ve ever had a class with. I formed great friendships and connections that I’ll always treasure and hope we can continue to talk to each other and meet up every now and then.

Dr. Collins is one of the best professors I’ve ever had. I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to be in her class. She made sure to make everyone feel that they matter. She spoke with everyone individually and took the time to get to know us. She didn’t have to do any of that, but listening to her stories and just observing her, I learned she’s an incredible person and genuinely cares. She wants to make a difference in everyone’s lives and I find that so inspiring.

When I was offered a full-time gig at KSNT, I was so nervous signing my contract. I trusted her and asked if she could help me look it over. She went through each page and pointed out things to me I didn’t understand. She also pushed me to gather the courage to ask for what I want. I was scared about signing a three-year contract and she gave me advice on how to negotiate it down.

On the last day of class, she did something I’ve never experienced a professor do. She wrote down messages for each of us and read them out loud. Walking in that day, I didn’t expect to cry, but I started to feel a little emotional listening to her and especially when she started crying. Being in such a big college, it’s hard to make connections with your professors, but Dr. Collins made it a priority to form connections with each one of us. I’m forever grateful for her and I’m so sad to see her leave. She’s a great professor and an even better person.

Thank you Dr. Collins for believing in us. Thank you for making me believe in myself and making sure I know that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

Smiling….Tiffany Littler.

Aksinya Kichigina| The End of The Semester

I chose this photo for a reason…because we look unprepared, funny, and all different!

Wow! What a semester…Overall, it was AMAZING! If I go back to the beginning of the semester, I thought I wouldn’t do well in this class…I didn’t think I wouldn’t learn a lot, but I only knew/thought that it would be so difficult to keep up with all the work that was outlined to us and, at the same time, earn a good grade. But, I proudly can say that my hard work, passion and love for journalism, and my desire to learn and become better paid off. However, without Dr. Collins’s support, her inspiration, hard work and passion, I could not achieve everything. This class wasn’t just about attending the class and earning grades…this class was about gaining experience and knowledge, learning to be ethical and professional, multitasking, critical-thinking and resolution. I don’t know if it’s a right thing to write about Dr. Collins and how inspirational she was…but I guess I’d love to…not because I want a better grade…laughing…but because Dr. Collins should know it.

Dr. Collins is a totally different professor compared to the professors I have had in some of my classes. Besides being a truly happy person, she is amazingly kind and sweet to everyone; she is supportive and carrying; she is a strong and tough woman on the outside, but on the inside, she is emotional, generous, and sincere…and I loved it about her. Thank you, Dr. Collins, for everything…you are in my heart.

As we began this semester, I realized we would have to do a lot of work…and our first assignment was a video essay. This assignment, itself, wasn’t difficult; instead, it was interesting to do. We had to make a story using only footage.


I didn’t have issues filming this video essay; I actually enjoyed it because I spent a couple of hours at South Park filming children playing and having fun. When I began editing my footage, I did not have any troubles. For some reason, I felt confident. Though, my challenge was to pick good shots. I always tend to have a lot of footage, which makes it harder for me to pick the best shots. Despite this, I put b-rolls together and began writing my script. I will admit that it was challenging to keep 3C’s in mind. But, I think I was able to accomplish it. When it was the day to present, I did not feel as nervous as I felt during my first VO and VOSOTVO. I felt happy inside because I was able to accomplish the first goal… and this assignment was just the start.

The next assignment we had to do was VO and VOSOTVO…and we had to learn new information, keep up with that information, and also do great. I learned about the structure of Pregnant I, as well as the formula for VO and VOSOTVO and their elements.

https://youtu.be/xoH9hDpO8e0– VOSOTVO

https://youtu.be/FsqcI51-vmQ– VO

This assignment also was quite challenging for me to complete. As Dr. Collins said at the beginning, “You always need to have a plan A, B, C, and D.” So, since that day I try to follow her advice. When I decided to film my VO and VOSOTVO on the Virtual Reality event, I got so excited. I reserved the equipment, contacted a coordinator two days before the event began, and had a good spirit. However, when it was the day to film, the coordinator emailed me and said that the event was postponed. I felt desperate at the moment, but I had to follow with a plan B. So, I decided to do a story about this year’s flue activity. First I contacted the Watkins Health Center, but the administrator told that all the physicians were busy and could not have time for an interview. After I heard it, I began to panic. I only had half of the day to find a story idea and film it. Then, a couple of my co-workers told me that there was a Career Fair going on at the Union. So, I rushed to grab my equipment and go to the Union. I got a lot of footage that day; but I didn’t know how it would turn out. When I got back to my office, I checked my footage right away and felt some sort of relief. Next day, I began a writing and editing process. When it was the day to perform, I felt nervous. I was not confident in my story. I read through the script so quick, I believe, and I stumbled a couple of times. My timing did not work out either, and I also did not have a patting at the end. Another problem was overlaying a SOT with a b-roll that didn’t make an impact on the video. I also realized after watching my video was that my edits were also too quick. I learned something new and keep carrying it on with me.

Overall, this first VO and VOSOTVO was a learning experience for me, and it was so important to have Dr. Collins’s critique….and I believe I was always trying to listen to her advices and follow them.

As we moved forward, we reached our third assignment or the second VO/VOSOTVO. This video project could’ve been done better but it was just another learning experience for me. If I improved in one thing, there was still something left or new I had to perfect.

https://youtu.be/bmUIpajejTU– VoSotVo

https://youtu.be/rsnxtJw154Q– VO

The second VO and VOSOTVO felt less stressful or challenging, though I experienced some troubles as well. What I liked the most about this assignment was the individual time that we had with Dr. Collins. She was able to explain each student what she or he needs to improve or continue working on. Personally, I found it beneficial to me and my work. The original idea for my second VO and VOSOTSO was supposed to be a celebration of Chinese New Year at the Plaza Library. However, this plan fell through because I was not allowed to fil inside of the library. Then, when I came to Kansas City for the weekend, I had no choice but to film something there. Fortunately, weakened turned out to be nice and warm; that’s when I realized that it could be a great story to film. I came down to Loose Park in Kansas City and began gathering footage. It was an enjoyable time. My next step was to write a script. During the process, I repeatedly read out loud to make sure I sounded conversational. However, as Dr. Collins noticed in our Skype meeting, my script was written for a meteorologist rather than an anchor. Then, Dr. Collins began giving me various ideas on how I could improve it. While we had only 30 minutes, we had accomplished a lot. I revised my script a couple of times and made sure everything was clear and concise. When the writing part was done, I began editing. After a couple of days, Dr. Collins sent us a document with her critique to each work. I believe it helped everyone learn something new from each other’s work. What I had to improve for my third VO and VOSOTVO was to let shots break for a second or two because viewers have to see a story not a number of different b-rolls. Also, I learned that I need to avoid cutaways. Individual meeting was a great help to improve out writing, editing or reporting skills, as well as learn new things. So, a big thank you to Dr. Collins for that.

Our last VO/VOSOTVO was fun to make because it had to be two separate stories.

https://youtu.be/UxCzElfTouk– VoSotVo


The third VO and VOSOTVO was an opportunity for us to show what we have learned based on Dr. Collins’s feedback and critique. This time we had to do a VO and VOSOTVO on a sepearte subject. For some reason, maybe because I had a good spirit, I was lucky to schedule an interview with an assistant general manager of IHOP on Tuesday when the National Pancake Day happened. I did not struggle with filming, plus my interview seemed to go smooth. However, as soon as I checked my footage when I got to school, I noticed that audio of the interview disappeared by itself. I was almost crying. I tried various ways to improve the audio, but nothing seemed to work. Therefore, I decided to reschedule an interview. Next day, the manager did not seem happy, and she strictly gave me 2 minutes to film the interview. I felt nervous. Though, I was able to manage ask some good question, and even pick a good soundbite. When I began my writing, I did not struggle with writing conversational. I always pretend that I am talking to someone and telling him a story of what happened today. Actually, I learned from Dr. Collins. When I presented my VOSOTVO in class, I did not feel too nervous. Though, I could have slowed down a little bit while reading my script. My other mistake that Dr. Collins pointed out was spelling. So, this means I need to always double-check my spelling of lower thirds. Overall, I am satisfied with my third VOSOTVO. For my VO, I chose to do a story about kids exploring their DNA. I was lucky enough to be able to film children; but before, I had to ask a permission from their parents. Whenever I deal with children I enjoy filming. Therefore, I had some good shots to pick for my VO. Also, as I began writing my script, I felt that there were a couple of time where my writing could have been improved…and thankfully, after Dr.Collins graded this two video projects, she was about to make corrects in my script and give an overall feedback. I believe this VO/VOSOTVO were the best out of other VOs/VOSOTVOs.After these assignments, we finally moved on to News Packages!

Before we could go to our Spring Break, we had to complete our first news package. We all had a partner, which was nice to get some extra help. My package was about an interesting and fun event. The local Pet World hosted an educational event for the community.

https://youtu.be/3V9wQxM17TA– News Package

Oh, boy! This package was quite difficult to put together. First of all, my plan A or B did not work…and I had only 2 days to find another story, film and interview people. Luckily, I reached out to Pet World in Lawrence, and its manager let me come in and film “Feature Creature.” I felt comfortable recording kids holding a python, interviewing workers and a visitor with her daughter. When I begin writing the script, it was a little bit a challenge because I was stressed. I was stressed because I had limited time and some issues with audio. Though, as I finished writing my script, I felt great about it. However, as I showed my package to class, Dr. Collins was able to notice some mistakes within my work. For example, I had a jump cut, and during my stand-up I did not look at the camera as much. Other than that, I was happy with the outcome of my first news package in this class. However, I knew I could do a better job…and it was my goal to perfect the second news package.

https://youtu.be/mnGd8Yg9nTk– News Package (Final)

As we came back from the Spring Break, we had to do another news package, the final one, as well as practice our first news break. But before I begin writing how I completed my final news break, I will write about my final package called “Easter Egg Hunt in Lawrence.” Overall, I think it was my best work I’ve done. My plan A worked perfectly! I went to South Park to film Easter celebration of the Lawrence community. That day was so sunny and bright that it was hard for me to see on the screen what I was filming. I was irritated, but still tried to have positive attitude. This is something I need to work on…in any situation I need to stay optimistic. To write the script was natural for me…I learnt how to keep in mind that I need to write the way I’d say it, but after revise it. It is important to write a story rather than overwhelm myself with what I should say. To put my package together wasn’t challenging; instead, I tried to work ahead. However, I also was preparing for my first news break. Overall, my first news break was an interesting experience. I learned how to anchor, do weather, read scripts without relying on Teleprompter, be a camera operator and floor director.

https://youtu.be/RqmSjk229SI– Final News Break

The final project, which was the final news break, was awesome! I felt confident to anchor on camera, act natural, smile, and come up with stuff when I didn’t read a line for my weather forecast. I was prepared to present my final news package, CNN reader and weather. Luckily, when I made it on time, Dr. Collins was happy with the turnout. It made me happy! This final news break and package were two great things that I think I’ve done for this class in terms of assignments. But I think I’ve grown as a journalist a lot, which I am proud and thankful to Dr. Collins. I’ve honestly learnt a lot of great information in this class and also made great friends. Everything I’ve learn, I’ll keep in mind and carry it on with me.

Thank you, Dr. Collins, for everything.

Aksinya Kichigina