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.
Reflecting back on the classes I have taken from freshman year until graduation, it amuses me that the two most impactful classes I have taken throughout my college experience were two that I decided to take on a whim, not for the extra credit hours or any major requirement. FAA 110, one of such classes, has forced me to sit back and spend time appreciating the creativity in the arts, which I have very rarely done due only focusing on STEM subjects most of my life.
As I reflect upon the long and tumultuous semester I spent in Journalism 445, I find myself coming back to two key attributes that aided in my success in the class, perseverance and adaptation. These two key traits were vital in the success of not only every assignment I worked on and every newscast I worked with, but also to my bludgeoning career as a journalist as well. I would be remiss, though, to say that there were never moments of celebration or relaxation, that jour445 was a constant battle for success, those moments did exist. But with the coming pandemic, and even before, I found that without constant vigilance on deadlines and assignment progress, things can quickly start to fall apart, as my first assignment taught me.
The first assignment I worked on was my first package, a story about how issues with Illinois automatic voter registration were leading to people being both incorrectly denied and approved for voting. This assignment started with problems from the get-go, as my original story was about the recent legalization of marijuana with the idea of interviewing a local dispensary. After the interview fell through, I attempted another story that also failed on take-off, before ultimately settling just a few days before the deadline with this story. This meant interviews had to be quickly scheduled and editing was an all-night, day-before-deadline affair. Ultimately the story was a success in my eyes, but only after numerous set-backs where I was forced to adapt and persevere, a strong example for my case on their importance.
My second assignment, I served as an assistant producer under Rebecca Wood to create the Feb. 20th UI7 Newscast. Of the two assignments thus far, I certainly enjoyed this one more, and it perhaps hints at an inclination towards producer over straight reporting. This assignment too saw moments of crisis to be sure, scripts were in later than either me or Becca would have preferred which made creating a working rundown difficult. Also working around the scheduling of the smaller News Updates meant that sometimes the people we needed to talk or work with were busy at the moment, so we had to adapt and multitask. Overall though I found this to be enjoyable, the organizing of stories, helping reporters with questions, and such was engaging. It also served as a good experience for my next assignment when I was the lead producer for the newscast.
Assignment three was a double-edged sword of an assignment. It was by far the most stressful assignment, but also the one I felt most energized and happy about upon its conclusion. This assignment differs from the previous in that for this Newscast I was the lead producer and thus all the accountability and responsibility fell on my shoulders if(and when) things went wrong. Instead of following Becca’s lead now, I was the man in front leading the charge, and that was an aspect I enjoyed. The assignment taught me the importance of delegating work and trusting those you work with, while also showing me what work I myself needed to do that couldn’t be delegated out. I was able to apply the lessons I’d learned from the previous newscast and polish the show up until the last minute. It’s one of the reasons I think this newscast was the best of all three we were able to accomplish.
Some of the things I did still need to adapt to and learn from are my limitations as a producer in both knowledge and skills. I was constantly asking others to print something for me for example, as I didn’t know how to myself. My script-writing also left something to be desired, though by the end I think I was able to get the hang of it. These lessons are what I hope to truly take away from this class, the need to always strive to learn and improve no matter how much you think you have the hang of something. Indeed I thought this week would be my greatest challenge, how woefully unprepared I was for the coming months with such a mind-set.
My final wok before the start of this wild pandemic was two VoSots that I shoot and editing into my first(and last) News Update. The two VoSots were covering local events such as a photography club and a cat show, and both illustrated different lessons I learned from. The cat show illustrated my need to learn how to focus a camera, something after 4 years of college I still appear to have trouble with as my Sot is nowhere near in focus. Always check focus folks, always. The camera club, on the other hand, demonstrated the need for creativity in the field. Held in a single room and consisting mostly of people looking at projected images, filming varied and interesting B-Roll was no easy task. These are lessons you can learn on any VoSot however, and the true test of adaptation and endurance came with the filming of the News Update itself.
TThe day the news updates were supposed to be filmed, the news came out that school would not be resuming classes and were offered the opportunity to film our News Updates on our phones. I and a number of dedicated other Jour445 students were in Richmond Studios finishing edits when the news came down, and as a group, we decided to band together and do it ourselves. Here I must reflect and thank my fellow students, Dan, Becca, Maddie, Alex, Yuhan, and some I’m sure that have slipped my mind. Without their teamwork, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, and it shows just how much of a collaborative process.
After Winter Break I made the decision to return to cAfter Winter Break I made the decision to return to campus despite the move to online classes. What I returned to wasn’t the University of Illinois I knew, however. The Union was closed for the rest of my time here at the University, no chance for me to say goodbye.
The following weeks as both a journalist and a student have been increasingly difficult in this new world of isolation. Without the thriving campus scene, my walks around town to elevate stress seem again to a post-apocalypse movie, even the quad was empty on days of sunshine and warmth.
I found it imperative to find ways to keep my mind busy and active in these less than perfect times, and recently have taken up cooking to better myself between online classes and assignments. I’m no Gordon Ramsey yet, but with time comes skill, and everyone has a lot of that these days.
One thing that I have learned in all this, especially as a journalist, is that times of trouble can offer some of the greatest opportunities to our profession. On my daily walks, I noticed an increase in construction, for instance. Ever the curious one I began taking photos, as you can see and found that construction was booming in this ghost town of mine.
It would appear without 50,000 students walking and driving around town. Without them using buildings daily, construction is suddenly able to drive heavy equipment through otherwise busy streets even during normal rush hours.
Suddenly the sound of jackhammers and the site of workers lounging around during lunch has become a common occurrence, something just waiting to be documented by the likes of journalists like myself. Through it all, I think that the most disheartening image has to be of either Green Street barren of people or the University Health Center on Green testing for Corona. Both show just how completely Corona has taken hold of the world, removing any chance of normalcy for the time being
This of course, brings us to the working of the Final Assignment. Tasked with interviewing 6 individuals for soundbites in a time where close contact is prohibited was no easy task, but here again, adaptability and perseverance rear their heads. Critical thinking was also key to this assignment and I overcame these initial challenges by simply seeking out and talking to people I could still meet in person, namely family, roommates, and girlfriend. Each of these individuals I knew was healthy and willing to talk, especially since I live with 5 out of the 6.
The most prominent challenge, in fact, turned out not to be interviewing my subjects but re-interviewing them. Upon the eve completing my assignment I was uploading my soundbites to my computer when my SD card became corrupted, wiping two interviews from existence. While it turned out all right in the end, it does provide a valuable lesson to always back-up your files. Luckily technology in the form of Zoom allowed me to call those I no longer had easy access to and rerecord their interviews from scratch.
Now we come to the conclusion of my self-reflection of the semester to end all semesters. It’s been one bumpy ride, but in all, I can’t help but look back fondly on it. Sure the stress of Corona was hard, but I’ve been blessed with my health and the health of friends and family during it. The last NewsUpdate was the most hectic I’ve ever felt, but the camaraderie that it created meant I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, same with the rest of the semester. In all, Jour455 is tough, its hectic, and at times it might seem overwhelming, but if you stick with it and roll with the punches, you’ll come out a better journalist no matter what comes your way. As the old saying goes come rain, come snow, come sleet or hail, a journalist delivers the news… or something along those lines.
Cabaret, a world renowned Broadway musical, was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts this last Friday. The cast of the play Cabaret set out to give the audience a thrilling yet unique experience through perfect performance, further enhanced by amazing music and set pieces.
I am not much of a dancer and I was not interested in having a dance partner, so I was unable to participate in the festivities but I was able to watch and listen. I enjoyed myself at the museum for about an hour. It seemed like this KAM event was more for older adults within the community whether faculty or those who just lived in the area. That may have been the first time I have heard tango music outside of a movie so that increased my interest for sure.
The rape of Lucretia was a very interesting opera, and also served as my first one. I learned a lot, but ultimately believe my first will also be my last.
By: Daniel Corry
Truth be told, I have never seen an opera before, and only think of big women in large viking hats whenI think of the word. I also thought they were solely in Italian, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear english, as well as see the words projected on the screen.
Upon finishing the show, I can thankfully say I was more impressed than with the interpretive dance from our last event. There was a coherent story, and I actually felt emotion for Lucretia. The narrators were probably the two characters who pulled me most out of the story. They were from a different time period, and rather than pushing the story along, the simply seemed to push christian values into the story in an inorganic manner.
My favorite part; as odd as it sounds, was probably the actual rape of Lucretia. I genuinely felt rising tension and disgust, but with a larger message of the disgusting predatory actions men genuinely committed hundreds of years ago, and still commit to this day.
If I were the director, I would have tried to make that connection more obvious through those two narrating christian characters, but overall I thought they did a good job! Again, I simply think the style of opera is not for me, but it was still an enjoyable performance and night!
A night of amazing orchestral music, distracted by a confusing medley of Tai Ji and group movement.
Before we saw the performance, we watched a video in class showcasing the quartet, and then another video about Chungliang Al Huang and how he incorporated dance with Chinese characters, and I was very excited to see these two combined.
However, after seeing the performance, I must admit I was rather unimpressed. The quartet performed very well, and hearing them play was a real treat. Chungliang however simply seemed off on Thursday evening. Or I could admittedly just not understand the culture behind his dancing, but it seemed not connected to the music at all, or that he was off by a few beats, but wanted to be on beat. I couldn’t tell if it was a heavily choreographed performance, or if it was a dance that was made up on the spot. Either way, I feel that if his performance could be misconceived as the other, then something was off.
As I said before, I really did enjoy the quartet, and actually throughly enjoyed the tango that occurred at the end. It felt very clean, and tightly rehearsed. It went very well with the music and both the dancers and the members of the quartet seemed to compliment each other very well. This kind of symbiotic relationship was what I was hoping to see with Chunliang, and was unfortunately disappointed.
If I were the director, I would have tried to make the quartet and all of the dancers truly compliment each other, rather than simply performing at the same time.
The entrance to Hallene Gateway in Urbana, Illinois
What’s up! My name is Demisha Ramirez. I introduce myself as Demi like Demi Lovato; it just helps people remember it. I have been studying Broadcast Journalism for the past 2 semesters and I absolutely love it. I really haven’t used a camera ever before (except selfies, but that doesn’t count). Whenever someone would ask them to take a picture I would just say no because I thought I was a horrible photographer. So actually having a camera and having to go out and take pictures and video is completely out of my comfort zone!
Assignment one was easier than what I hyped it up to be. I just wanted my shots to be clear and straight, because I do not have a steady hand. I went out and started walking around campus on one of the most beautiful days. The sun was out and I felt like an actual photographer.
I took photos of everything on campus. I even brought along one of best friends, Quan Trimble, and started taking pictures of him until he got annoyed with me and I had to stop. I started taking pictures at the Ike, but wasn’t getting any shots so then went to the Quad. I figured there is always something happening on the quad so I would have plenty of inspiration. I got some pretty nice shots of the quad (see one below).
Davenport Hall on the Main Quad of The University of Illinois- Urbana, Illinois
I felt like I could do better, so I decided to go inside the Illini Union. Lucky for me, there was an event called “Festival of Maidens, Daughter of the Dragon.” Think ‘Game of Thrones,’ but without the blood and death. There were no real swords, so they fought with a stick wrapped in a silver, shiny material that mirrored a sword. I got some great shots of all the matches and also some medieval merchandise the sponsored organization was selling.
A participant of The Festival of Maidens
Next, I just decided to practice my shooting inside my room with some items I had laying around. I live in Bousfield and the rooms are pretty big for being a dorm room, but still. I had a limited space to shoot in. I shot some stuffed animals I had so I can practice my close-ups. I also practiced on some old flowers I saved and I was extremely happy with how they came out. I was excited for class so I can do the next step.
A pink dead rose I’ve had since February 2016
Next step was editing and putting my pictures into a video. I have never used Adobe anything in my life, but I have used I-Movie to edit 2 videos. I figured it couldn’t be that complicated. Man, was I wrong! I don’t mean complicated in a bad way, but it was a little overwhelming seeing and trying to use all the effects and buttons correctly. I got the hang of the program after a few minutes of playing around with it. I also kept asking my classmate sitting next to me for help. It was also hard to decide the order of the pictures in the video and deciding what pictures to actually use. I am happy with my final project, but I am more excited for more projects to come. Then I will actually have some experience and hopefully they will be better.
Check out the video of the fun I had all over campus here!