Multimedia: A final look

This semester has flown by. I can’t believe we are already approaching finals week. In regards to this class, I can’t believe how much I learned in such a short period of time. Before this class, I would never felt comfortable shooting my own video. I had never thought about all the different parts of multimedia journalism stories. Now, I analyze every news package I see on TV, looking for 5 shot sequences and listening for nat sound.

I understand now the technicalities behind multimedia. The question that is still being answered, at least for me personally, is how does multimedia serve journalism? how does it make it better?

The reason I clicked on this article, about a python eating a drunkenly passed out man, was the astonishing picture. I clicked on this video, about Black Friday shopping, because I wanted to actually see shoppers in action. Multimedia elements draw an audience in because they are often more stimulating that just text. Before multimedia, headlines were the main draw for readers. Then pictures took that role. Now, videos take you deeper into the story, stimulating both your eyes and ears.

But is multimedia always better than text? While it may attract an audience, sometimes the best way to report is through standard text stories. Some topics, like NYSE activity, does not always have the visuals to capture an audience. How much does a picture of Wall Street or video of the trading floor add to the audiences’ understanding of the story?

Does multimedia discredit things that don’t have strong multimedia elements?

In my opinion, text stories with information graphics is still the best way to explain complex stories. Some of the best examples can be seen in Time Magazine and the Economist. Pictures and video add sensory elements that may further that understanding, but really if a reader is captivated by the writing, text will suffice. I am excited to find more ways to tell the important stories the right way, to make it comprehensible for readers, while also cultivating interest and furthering understanding through multimedia.

I think I still have more to learn when it comes to discovering how to do that, but this class has at least given me the basic knowledge and tools to start figuring it out.

Stigma on asking questions

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I think we are prejudiced against asking questions. People hesitate to ask a question for fear of looking stupid or being annoying. I’ve been in too many silent lecture halls during q and a sessions that are buzzing with confusion after class lets out.
This stigma was mostly recently brought to my attention in my group project when i asked one of my group member how their interview went. He said it was awkward because he didn’t know what to ask. He even said he felt like he was being annoying and nosy.
As a kid, my mother was always infuriated with me because i asked a million questions. I learned that bombarding people with questions that is irritating, despite my natural curiousity. However, that curiosity is what got me into journalism. This fear of asking questions is honestly unhealthy for journalism students.
It is commonly said: there are no stupid questions . Thats not true. We have all heard someone ask a stupid question before. But at least that person got the answer they were looking for. The fear of sounding stupid should not prevent asking questions that could make or break an interview.
If you don’t ask, you assume. Misconception are the source of everything evil in journalism: stereotypes, misinformation. As a journalism student, I want to challenge myself to disregard this stigma against asking questions. It is better to ask and clarify rather than stay quiet. I think this will make going out into the field easier and interviews more exciting. If you aren’t afraid to ask all the questions you have, you can get to more interesting content, the stuff that hasn’t been produced before.
Of course, being respectful while asking questions is still necessary. I believe there is always a way to ask a question politely, with courtesy, and still get the information you want. The worst that can happen is they don’t answer you, which would have happened anyway if you didn’t ask. Doing your job as a journalist isn’t rude, its honorable.
Keep your chins up j-school kids, and ask away.

 

Quora: the Internet Forum for life’s burning questions

Quora, created in 2009, is a website devoted to question and answer community forums.

Recently on Buzzfeed, there have been articles, such as this one about 17 unbelievable facts, sourced completely from Quora feeds. If you read the article, the information is pretty interesting, and it was all gathered from Quora, a community question-answer site.

According to its about page, Quora is your best source of knowledge. Ask any question, get real answers from people with first hand experience, and blog about what you know.”

Quora was founded by Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, who previously work at Facebook.”we thought that q and a is one of those areas on the Internet where there are a lot of sites, but no one had come along and built something that was really good yet,” said D’Angelo in a 2009 interview  with Boston Innovation.

So what makes Quora different than something like Yahoo! Answers?

It is pretty difficult to get accurate information in forum style conversations. Anything community edited runs the risk of be inaccurate, see Huffington Post’s collection of wikipedia fails. Even better, are some of the ridiculous questions that get asked on Yahoo! Answers.

How do you keep a website like Quora above the fray?

While it would seem Quora would be equally as unruly as these other sites, it actually stays intellectually stimulating because of a couple of factors. The website has you create a login through other social media sites you participate in: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. There is no such thing as anonymously answering, keeping it free of internet trolls. The website also uses your interests, location and friends/followers/connections to direct you to forums that would potentially be interesting to you.

Some of the conversations get extremely interesting, with multiple users answering with expertise and perspective. These users make the site a quality source for discussion. This could be useful for journalists as a multimedia tool. Its platform creates a marketplace of ideas which journalists are always anxious to tap into. Buzzfeed writers are already taken advantage of it. I could see it being a resource for journalists in the future, as long as writers are sure to fact check and do diligence.

Gluten Free Guilty Pleasures

Gluten-Free Salted Chocolate Tart. Recipe by Tasty Yummies

Being gluten-free is rough. These recipes may help. Just look how good these chocolate treats look:

Gluten-Free Chocolate Pots de Creme. Recipe by Clean Green Simple

Gluten-Free Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Frosting. Recipe by Michele Borboa

Gluten-Free Coffee Cream Truffles. Recipe from Fragrant Vanilla Cake

Thank you Buzzfeed Community for bringing this into my life.

Humans vs. Zombies

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Human Austin Humphrey protests zombie Jack Sharper tagging him and turning him zombie. The two are participating in Mizzou’s biannual Human vs. Zombies game which started midnight yesterday.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Two guys push through the masses of students walking to class, armed with socks and nerf guns, running wildly away from a bandana-ed student chasing after them. This would be an abnormal sight, but not for Mizzou. These students are participating in the Humans vs. Zombie game, a week long game played on campus once a semester. Over 300 Mizzou students are participating in the game, which started last night at midnight. The game is played 24 hours a day, outdoors, and with intense nightly missions. The goal: stay alive.

“At midnight, all hell broke lose,” said Austin Humphrey, a human in the game. He wears a band around his arm, denoting he is a human playing the game, and holds a nerf gun for protection from zombies. “Our first mission was to help a moderator, who plays like a critical role in the game, get to his objective. My squad was following this guy and then a surge of zombies attacked the whole group of humans.” This attack led to many turning zombie. The only way to protect yourself from a zombie is sock bombs and nerf guns shots. Hitting the zombie target stuns them for 10 minutes, providing time to run away. According to online stats at muzombies.org, there are already 30 zombies at large. “Thankfully, none of my squad has been turned yet.”

Seconds after he said this, a student zombie jumped over a bush to tag Austin. Austin challenged the legality of this move, because he was talking to a journalist, by calling the game moderator on his phone. “Moderators have the final word, like referees,” said Jack Sharper, the zombie who had little sympathy for Austin’s situation. He was sure the tag was a legal move. Jack Sharper was one of the first zombies turned. “I was the second human to die, I got tagged by an original zombie. They are dressed like regular humans so you don’t know.”

On the phone with the moderator, Austin heard confirmation that the tagging didn’t count and he was still a human. Jack apologizes and the two part ways amiably. While the game is competitive, in instances like this, there are no hard feelings.

“It’s a great way to met new people,” said Austin. “Anyone can play the game, even students from Stephens or Columbia College.”Austin said he decided to sign up because he has always loved video games and heard about it during Summer Welcome. “I’m a huge nerd and I had seen it played before because I’m from Columbia. When I saw the booth at Summer Welcome, I signed up.”

For students who aren’t playing the game, it can be a bit taxing. “I just try to stay out of the way,” said Amanda Mokarski, a student caught in the fray. Human vs. Zombies is not for everyone. “I had to drop out because I don’t have time,” said Sophomore Brett Tuttle. He was turned into a zombie last night, and decided to quit playing shortly after. “I have to go to class, I can’t really keep up with it.”

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Jack Sharper hears confirmation from the moderator that his tagging of Austin didn’t count.

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Two mizzou students, Austin Humphrey and Jack Sharper pose for a quick picture before resuming as enemies in the Human vs. Zombies game.

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Zombies Brett Tuttle and Greg Hemmanm look for human prey, denoted with arm bands, as they walk to class. Brett no longer wears his headband denoting his zombie status because he dropped out of the game.

Social Media: how it is helping and hurting our society.

The Instagram Couple: from Elizabethwisdom's Instagram page

The Instagram Couple: from Elizabethwisdom’s Instagram page

Alicia Ann Lynch recieved threats over social media after dressing as a Boston marathon runner for Halloween.

I read two articles on Buzzfeed today that really shocked me. The first was about the Instagram Couple: Two strangers met over Instagram, traded numbers, and eventually got engaged. Its crazy how social media can connect people near and far and even change peoples’ lives. Of course, this is a really great multimedia journalism article, showing the relationship develop through Instagram pics.

The second article, however, showed how the darker side of social media. This woman posted a twit pic of her Halloween costume as a Boston Marathon runner, wounded and covered in blood stains. The twitter community was outraged and lashed out at the women, condemning her and even threatening her and her family. The entire situation is pretty sickening. Social media puts dumb decisions in the public eye and makes them permanently available.

In the Buzzfeed article, the michigan woman, Alicia Ann Lynch admits that her costume was in poor taste and publicly apologized. This however did not stop the cyber bullying on her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The woman even ended up losing her job over the matter. I think our culture is still discovering the power of social media and how harmful posting without thinking can be. More than anything, the uprising of anonymous cyber bullying still has few restrictions. Being able to comment anything you want is a constitutional right, but when does it go to far. If online viewers are threatening to kill your family, and calling them rattle them with insults, is it time for law enforcement to get involved?

Social media has a big role in potential multimedia strategies for journalism. Audience participation in the news comes from twitter posts and discussion. However, I think it is important that news corporations insist that any comments or posts are not slanderous or causing harm unnecessarily. While Lynch may have been insensitive and cruel in her costume, the brutal backlash against her was overkill. Buzzfeed neither defends or condemns either side in their article. I think an opinion pieces supporting each side would be an interesting look at the issue.

Writing News Stories

Yesterday in class we talked about writing news stories, News story writing is very different than writing for a blog. You have to take yourself completely out of the story as to to inflect any sort of an opinion on the piece. You put the most important information first so that if the reader was only to read the first few paragraphs he would get most of the details needed to understand the big picture. You should also break up the story into lots of paragraphs as to not overwhelm the read with big chinks to read. I think it is very interesting that news has figure out all of these things and standardized them as a process to make news delivery more efficient and effective.

I read an article from USA Today about the man fired from Walmart for assisting a customer who was being assaulted.  This news story followed similar guidelines outlined for news story however, a lot of the important background information was left out. Instead, the author included links to other articles. This was the third article written about the story, more of a follow up than the actual breaking news piece. Still, I think this shows you how much multimedia has changes the way journalist write. Rather than having to restate details, reporters have to option to refer readers to other, more detailed story. This cuts back on generalization of details in a background. I think having an archive of news available at the click of an button is really useful to a often uninformed public. The question is whether or not people will use this to their advantage. Even I hesitated at first to click the link, because I didn’t want to be taken away from the main page. I wasn’t finished reading the story so I didn’t want to move away from the page yet. Its little things such as that which prevent readers from absorbing all the information they could.

How do you keep writing the same story? : Mizzou Homecoming

While life is unpredictable and some events are bound to happen every year and deserve coverage in the news. For example, homecoming, halloween, columbus day. These timely events always get a spot somewhere in print, footage, what have you. How do journalists keep writing these stories? The obvious answer is find a new angle, but really how does homecoming change from year to year? The whole point is tradition, its supposed to be similar. I looked at some example articles from The Missourian. This year’s Homecoming Guide features a comparison between the two Columbia college towns, Columbia, Missouri and Mizzou’s opponent this year, Columbia, South Carolina. There is also article about the 100,000 unit of blood from the annual homecoming blood drive and Chancellor Deaton retiring. These are new additions, new angles, new ways to look at homecoming. However the rest of the guide is dedicated to standard reviews of Homecoming. There is an entire two pages dedicated to the way Mizzou does Homecoming and how it has changed. Homecoming hasn’t changed much from last year. Last year, a very similar article was written. Articles about the parade and decorate the district were also repeated in the guide. Do these articles need to be written year after year? How can you add your own spin as a journalist? These are distinct events in Mizzou’s homecoming that out of staters, incoming freshman, or others who have never experienced the tradition, so reporting on them is necessary. If I had to write one of these articles, I think multimedia elements might help tell these repetitive in a different light. I would challenge myself to get different visuals and audio from sources. Bringing in audio and video online creates a new way to cover these stories that have been covered similarly for years. Multimedia is the key keeping news interesting and effective in bring news to the people.

TV style video: Looking at examples

Sarah Stories, have multimedia elements that enrich the viewing experience.

In TV news, some stories are clearly better than others. Often, the success of a package can be attributed to the content, but other times, it comes from multimedia techniques. Recently, I’ve been watching news packages more closely to really determine what multimedia elements push a story above and beyond. I found that really interesting b-roll, natural sound used as descriptor, and a clear voice-over used sparingly could make or break a package. In Multimedia Lecture, we looked at Sarah Stories, a KOMU series, to analyze some of the most successful techniques she uses. In this package, about the magic tree, there is a wide range of B-roll, making this package visually stimulating. The videographer captures diverse angles, getting footage than exposed viewers to see the subject in a different way. In this story, the sound of basketballs dribbling and a cheering crowd adds to the sensory experience. The package transports the viewer into the story with the audio elements. The sound explains it, in some ways, better than a narrated explanation could. Finally, in this clip, about a long lost Hickman High class ring, Sarah narrates the story laconically. Rather than overpowering the story with the reporter’s words, she lets the scene; the sound and characters involved tell the story. It comes off more natural and authentic this way. With more narration, clips seem overproduced. The better packages have more interviews and audio clips of quotes. I will try and incorporate these elements in my TV style project about Greek Allies. I think the members explain the mission and their experience better in their own words. My narration does not to their stories justice. The best packages take the viewer inside the story, and show them a new perspective. That’s what I hope to do this week with my project.

In the Field: A Learning Curve

I have a new appreciation for photographers and videographers. This past week, I conducted my first video interview and it was one of the most nerve wrecking things I have done for Multimedia Journalism. The thing about working in the field is it’s do or die. You only have one opportunity to collect media in the field.If the media you capture is blurred or the audio fuzzy, you’re basically out of luck. Skill and practices are necessary when trying to get those spontaneous, one in a life time shots. Thus, the pressure to preform with a camcorder that was still pretty foreign to me made me almost pee my pants. I was interviewing the director to the LGBTQ center, and I already knew she was hesitant to interview with me. Especially on mizzou’s campus, campus faculty get pestered to death by journalism students wanting to use them as sources. So I really wanted to impress her and act professionally. However, my lack of practice with the camera was apparent. i had the hardest time setting up the camera on the tripod. I couldn’t get the base to screw into the bottom. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t figure it out, that I just like left it balancing on the tripod, which in hindsight was a bad decision. All of my shots are a tad crooked. I struggled to get the camera in the right mode, from camera to video. I also didn’t realize how much memory space I would need for the interview. My memory card was full only halfway through the interview. Thankfully, my interview subject was very understanding and promised to let me come back to finish and take B-roll. Still, I was so embarrassed. I realized how difficult it must be to get good footage in the field, when you are rushed. Skill are developed through practice. I am really thankful to be in a journalism school that understands this and asks student s to push themselves, by trying out all the equipment now. I would much rather get these embarrassing trial runs out of the way now than to be messing up at my first job. I dont want to spend my four years her only in a classroom taking notes. Get out into the field and developing those skills will make me the journalist I want to become.

Capturing great photos takes practice. From Flickr.com