Tag Archives: self reflection blog

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.

Let’s do this one last time

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera

By: Alexandar Aguilera

My last semester as a college student was different and I think many other students would say something similar. I went about my semester like I had in previous years and did what I had to do in order to pass my classes. All of a sudden I went back home and found out I wouldn’t be able to walk across the stage for graduation. If there is one big thing I learned this past semester it was to roll with the punches.

I had many days where I was fed up with school. Taking one day at a time was the best piece I gave myself to get through any tough day. But they weren’t all that bad. I think what I always enjoyed was just hanging out with my friends. Knowing there were other people going through the same stuff as I was made the journey a little easier. 

Obviously with a world changing pandemic it made this semester a lot different from others. As a graduating senior the realization hit me that I will be entering a tough job market. In general I’ve had to think about my future more in this semester than any other semester. For the first time I really don’t know what’s in front of me. I feel the journey of this semester has been different mainly because it’s sort of a transition point for me. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A basketball court sits empty during COVID-19

When I first heard about COVID-19 I didn’t fully understand the scope of it. I probably reacted differently to COVID-19 than most people. In all honesty I didn’t realize how big it was until NBA player Rudy Gobert got the virus. Sports has and always will be a passion of mine. To see something I’ve admired since I was little come to a sudden stop was the realization that this thing is serious. 

With technology being the way it is made this whole pandemic scary. Hearing everyday a couple hundred people a gone because of a virus is just frightening. It’s hard to avoid when it’s the first thing you see on your phone or the first thing you hear on TV. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A plant overlooks a vacant street.

It’s weird that even though things sort of look the same, nothing feels right at all. I look outside and everything just feels odd. One month ago I had no clue what social distancing was and now I feel like I say it everyday. Everyone had to adjust to a new normal in what seems like an instant. 

As the pandemic has progressed I feel I’ve viewed it as both a regular person and a journalist. I feel like any other person in the sense of being concerned about the situation and how to go about it. At the same time as a journalist I’m looking at the news more than ever to learn and understand any and everything I need to know about the pandemic. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A once busy Chicago neighborhood sidewalk is empty.

I will say being a student during this pandemic has also been an adjustment. Being at home and still having assignments to do is different. Something I feel I’ve always done in school is finding a way to get things done one way or another. I think the many scenarios I’ve faced in college where I’ve had to think outside the box has sort of prepared me for this. Considering the circumstances I adjusted to getting my work done one way or another. I also feel the fact that I’ve gotten this far has also given me confidence that I can finish the semester and earn my degree.

Looking at this class and college in general I think it has prepared me to face adversity at any given moment. I gave myself a personal goal at the beginning of the semester to bounce back and finish off strong. I think TV2 and this semester as a whole I feel that I’ve bounced back and gathered myself to push through one last semester. I think for any college student out there they should take things one day at a time. College is not any easy thing and it takes a toll on you mentally. Whatever you do to relax, do it. Give yourself time to rest that way you can push yourself and get things done. Take the time to make sure you’re alright and you will be alright at the end of the day. 

A Great Course, A Great Semester

Written by: Yushan Guo

Time flies. It feels incredible that another semester is about to end. Although lots of unexpected things happened, it was still a great semester overall. And FAA 110 was one of the main factors that made this semester “great”. I remember I registered this course simply for a general education course. However, this is such a great course that brought me much more than just having a few credits.

Continue reading

A Long Journey of Zihan Wang

It’s Me! I’m Zihan Wang!

The semester of 2020 Spring is a pretty strange semester — because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the courses of this semester have to be taken online or implemented through a different approach. Such a situation reminds me of how important the back-up plans shall be, like what we have learned in the course of jour 445. 

In the class, Prof.Collins reminded us to have plans A, B, and C for any situations we have encountered, in order to make sure we can produce the videos. I have never expected that what we have learned in the course could be applied in my life so quickly — I am stuck in my home and it has been impossible to produce any work or do anything outside, only trying to produce works inside the room. Such a moment requires creativity, independence, but also a sense of crisis, which means we should always be prepared for the worst.

But still, it is impossible to imagine that the coronavirus could cause such a horrible influence in the U.S., especially in the first quarter of the year, China has provided quite enough experiences and information we need. Even Trump was racketing his nonsense, there has been proof that we could have done better than the situation we are encountering now. But that’s not only his problem, also the journalism industry, because we have failed to inform the public of the upcoming crisis. The media follows to slow, just like the package I have done about the test, too slow. That’s a combination of different packages.

Since the shelter-in-place regulation affected, I have been stuck at home for a long time. Here are some moments for me in the home.

When I was standing on the balcony of my apartment, I was looking outside, and wondering, when I could go outside?
The life of self-quarantine turns to be boring and boring. We felt that it is going to burying us — just like the paintings in the corner of my apartment.
Exercise can be necessary for this moment — but I felt that I’m just like the dumbbell, teared apart by the self-quarantine.
And when I was looking outside the window, I just found a red wall. Plain, red wall.
And this is a photo I shoot before the self-quarantine. Oh, I really missed those days.

The self-quarantine provided me the most different experience compared with normal days — when people cannot go on streets for stories, the only way they could conduct news stories is through the internet. I surf online news channels every day to keep up with where we are now in the pandemic and also learning the stories of ordinary people. A crisis is a crisis, but one can turn the worst situation into opportunities. It is a great chance for me to learn how to pick information and reorganize them into a story with a more complete format. Besides that, I also have to conduct stories about my roommates or my girlfriend — although it is not quite journalism, only a special method for contingency. 

I think the most enjoyable part of this course shall be producing newscasts in a dynamic environment. Like the first show we have done for this semester, nobody would predict the result of the impeachment release. This is a great opportunity to experience a tight working pace in a real TV newsroom.

And the journey we come through this semester, which I believe is quite the same as what other students and ordinary citizens are experiencing now. We are all in self-quarantine in our apartments in a country shut down for the pandemic, while also suffering from the same solitude, pain, and anxiety. Students are suffering from learning knowledge virtually, which actually is impossible, especially for some majors like the design. So do we. We can never conduct news in a small room without real talks to people. Citizens in this nation are suffering from anxiety of losing their jobs and shorts in their pockets — so do we. We, journalism students, are facing a terrible job-hunting season this year because of the great hit on the economy, and also have to stay in apartments without any jobs to get paid. Personally I have lost a couple of hundreds of dollars because the coronavirus has caused cancellations of several part-time working invitations — I’m a part-time photographer. 

But to different people, it can be different things. I have interviewed several people for their thoughts on how the coronavirus could impact their life. One of the people, who is my roommate, actually feels not that bad of virtual courses.

I think technology plays a vital role in my journey. Without the pieces of equipment like cameras, mics, and sound recorders, I would never be able to finish my videos. And technology plays an even more important role in my current journey: for working remotely in my apartment, all I could do is relying on my laptop and network. Through my chrome, I reach to the corners of this world. And that’s how I explore the world of journalism in such a difficult time.

And technology also helps me to conduct some videos. I still remembered the hardship I encountered for shooting the drag queen show. It was in Canopy, a local club. It was pretty dark there, and if I used my own camera for that video, that would be a disaster. But thanks to the camera from the College of Media, I could conduct a decent video and capture the highlights of the drag queens’ performances.

I heard about the virus pretty early — since it first broke out in China, I have got plenty of information before it got the outbreak in N.Y.C. At the early stage in China, I was terribly nervous, and I called my parents every day to check if they were ok and followed the necessary self-protection guidance. It was a very horrible disease and I felt very worried about my parents’ safety. But at that time, I have never expected that there could be such a terrible outbreak in the U.S., because since during the two months’ struggle, China has shown the world how we could effectively stop the spread of the disease and how we could stop the disease in a limited scale. Even because of the difference between the two nations’ political system, the U.S. could at least control the disease, but not let it spread like such a terrible condition.

But when I look back at the end of this semester, I felt that something has changed. I would not be so panic about the dynamic reality I’m encountering, and it has been easier for me to stay cool for urgent situations or breaking news. It has also been a great opportunity for me to practice viewing the events in a professional journalism view — for example, like the humanitarian disasters caused by the coronavirus, I could stay calm down and try to cover it in a professional way — I have tried in writing some practice stories of them. Also, I found that I could review the information I got in a more efficient way, like looking for different angles to cover them.

There have been many things playing a role in leading me to success for my assignments. Individually, I believe the key element is the skills to catch the opportunity — for example, when I was shooting a story of the author corner in the bookstore. There was a lecture done by guest speakers. I happened to catch a chance for shooting a video of the authors — there were plenty of people and hard to find a position to set up my camera. The other example would be the experience of shooting the story of tax assistance. In the beginning, I thought it might be just a VO, but when I got there I felt that there could be a chance to turn it into a package– only if I can catch subjects for interviewing as quickly as possible. And finally, as you can see, that was a good package. 

Self-confidence also plays a vital role at such a moment. We need to persuade our subjects for interviewing that we could offer them the best opportunity to tell the public their stories and endeavors. This request a great self-confidence that we believe what we have done is correct, is helpful and is worthful. For so many times I thought that maybe skills and talents are the most important characters we have, but after times and times that I was cast into challenging situations, I found that self-confidence is the last threshold I have to keep moving on and achieve something I want. And that helps me to finish the project about the Spring Festival Gala. The cancelation of the Spring Festival gala was pretty distressful for the Chinese student community. It was good news, but there happened to be many difficulties to finish that story, including tech issues. However, thanks to the self-confidence, I had a sharp and clear mind and finished that project.

I would bring what I have learned from this class to my future professional practice in journalism, including the confidence of our works, the vigilance of unexpected situations, and what’s more, the belief in the cooperations. All that we have learned in the journey to the end would enrich me in understanding the dynamic society, also provide necessary skills and faith in overcoming challenges upon the road. 

In the end, I would say I’m pretty proud of the works we have done for the class. It is the crystal of our cooperation, endeavor, and sacrifice. The proudest part for this semester would be the team we have, that we have come through many unpredictable situations, handled breaking news, together walked through a hard time of coronavirus, and finally achieved to the end of our undergraduate life. I would remember all the people I have met in the class, all the moments we worked together, and I will bring what I have been guaranteed in this class to the future. 

My Works Lists

VO:Purim Drag Show

VOSOTVO:AUTHOR EXCHANGE

PKG: CANCEL OF SPRING FESTIVAL GALA, TAX ASSISTANCE

SOUNDBITES:STUDENTS EXPERIENCE IN CORONAVIRUS _01, _02, _03, _04

Completing the last semester of undergraduate online

My college life during the COVID-19 pandemic

Yuhan Ma

As an international student who is graduating in May, The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely brought changes to my school life. I have gained lots of experiences, either good or bad, that were totally new for me thanks to the pandemic. Therefore, in this self-reflection blog, I will discuss what I have achieved in my last semester studying at UIUC, specifically in my Jour 445 class, and how the coronavirus has changed my life at the university. 

Continue reading

Growing into a Multimedia Journalist

182583_10152206572550173_2110917668_n

Stepping into the semester, I was excited for what was to come and what I would be learning over the semester. I had pictured picking up skills that would translate the writing in journalism classes so far into multimedia form and was expected to come out of the class as a knowledgeable multimedia reporter. What I did not expect was the attention to detail and planning that was required for multiemedia journalism that I was also able to pick up over the semester for which I am extremely grateful.
Continue reading