Spring Break Coverage

Sex, drugs, and alcohol. This is what many view as the crux of spring break for the vast majority of college students. For instance, here is a Fox News breakdown of how the police in South Florida intend to cope with the influx of  party-going college students for spring break.

However, there is a side of spring break that not many tend to focus on, and that is an idea called ‘Alternative Spring Break’. An article from the University of Buffalo’s website highlights how several students give up their week of reprise from school for the benefit of others, wherever they can. One student originally planned to go to the Dominican Republic to help out, but ended up signing on for a trip to South Dakota, because as she says, “Why not?”

It is an aspect of spring break that doesn’t get as much coverage as it should, showing that one week in March is not exclusively for partying on a beach in Florida or Mexico, but can also be a massive volunteer opportunity for those interested.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

College Photographer of the Year

Any expectations that the College Photographer of the Year Multimedia projects would maybe be a shade lower in quality than the real deal POYI projects was quickly thrown to the wayside once I started to watch a few of them.

One in particular that I liked was done about Urban Horsemen in Norther Philadelphia. The perfectly timed mixture of still photo images, video interviews and shots, and background audio came together to create a very powerful nine and a half minute video about a side of Philadelphia that is not often, if ever, seen by the wider world.

It initially threw me off that there are functioning stables of horses in any urban environment, least of all in a city as large as Philly. But that’s what these projects were so good at. Delving into something not often seen, and then not just saying, ‘Oh look, this is here’, but actually finding a really interesting angle to cover the story.

The only thing I found problematic, minor though it may be, is that it isn’t mentioned in the video where this is taking place until a little over halfway through the video. Although there could be a million different reasons for that.

Overall, I really enjoyed watching the CPOY projects, and it was awesome to see yet again what I might accomplish with what I am learning in class.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

POYI Multimedia Winner

Writing can only do so much for a story. And photos can only add so much more. Combining one of those elements with video, as Multimedia Photographer of the Year Ed Kashi did in his story on what he refers to as Syria’s Lost Generation, adds so much more to the story that simply isn’t visible with only one aspect.

Like other winners of the POYI’s Multimedia Photographer of the Year, Ed Kashi combines several elements of basic storytelling and gives an in depth look at the on-going situation in Syria, and a look at some of the areas that might not be covered as much, and does so in a way that makes the viewer, the reader, etc. want to know more, which is the mark of any good journalist. He combines his written storytelling with his mini, fifteen minute documentary very, very well. To see what I might be able to do with the basics I am learning in my class right now, is simply incredible, and I am already looking forward to what the Multimedia category puts forward in the coming years.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The “Dark Side” of Journalism

There is a long list of ‘dont’s’ in the world of professional journalism. Pulling out quotes to make it appear as though an individual said one thing, when in truth they said another, saying that you were somewhere or saw something when you were not and did not, etc. But one that is frowned upon more often and severely than others is doctoring a photograph. A journalist can accidentally use a quote incorrectly. Doctoring a photograph takes a conscience decision.

One example of a doctored photograph (and one that in this case got the photographer fired) is a picture from the Iraq war, and it depicts a British soldier instructing Iraqi citizens to take cover, assumedly in fear of enemy fire. Following the publication of this picture in the LA Times, it was pointed out that many of the civilians were shown twice, leading to several questions regarding the legitimacy of the image. Having been reached over the phone while in Iraq, Brian Walski, the man who took and altered the images, admitted to having combined two of his photographs to “improve the composition”. Within short order, Mr. Walski was relieved of his duties as a photographer for the LA Times.

After reading this article, which sheds a bit of light on the whole situation, and looking back on the past couple of weeks of my multimedia class, in which we learned of the many uses for Photoshop and Final Cut Pro, it caught me as strange that this man was fired for applying (in some sense) the basics of what I was currently being taught in class. I had to ask myself, What makes what I do to my photographs in class better than what this man did in Iraq? I changed composition, lighting, size, pixilation, and a whole host of other items in several photographs, all at the instruction of my professor.  Meanwhile, this man combines two photographs, taken an insignificant amount of time apart, to make what, whatever might be said, is a much more powerful image than either of the original two, and this one move costs him his livelihood, as well as his reputation as a professional photographer.

I have no straightforward answer for this question. Was it the magnitude of where he was? Clearly there is a large difference between photographing the campus of the University of Missouri and photographing the largest conflict in recent American history, but does that make changing photos for the benefit of the reader any better or worse in either situation? I would think, and hope, not.

And yet as I go forward in my schooling and my career, I will presumably take several photographs, editing bits and pieces here and there of each, to the satisfaction of my professors and editors, and nobody will think twice about it. Heck, I might even be applauded for it.

So, what I will be left wondering is, Where is the line drawn between ‘manipulation’ and ‘edited’?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pictures of the Year (International Edition)

Over the past two days, I had the chance to sit in on and observe the judging for the international Pictures of the Year competition, taking place over the course of a few weeks at the University of Missouri.

The first day I sit in on judging, it is in the early stages of judging for Newspaper Division for Stories and Portfolios. The speed of judging is actually very impressive, as slides of up to fifteen pictures are shown and removed in about ten seconds. In only the twenty minutes of judging I am able to sit in on, about ten portfolios are shown to the judges. The portfolios of pictures are incredibly diverse, as some show sports moments, while others are of cities and towns leveled by disasters. That diversity iss not just limited between portfolios, however. In back-to-back photographs in one individual’s portfolio, a candle light vigil is immediately succeeded by a photo of lacrosse players.

Having had class not too long from when I sat in on judging, I am forced to leave early, but I come back the next day at the tail end of judging in one of the sports categories (I do not catch the specific division of this category). However, even without having heard the pre-game speech from the man running the competition, it is immediately clear that I have walked into the latter stages of judging, and not the beginning, with hundreds of pictures shown. The judging is a bit slower, with far, far less pictures shown. Those judging vote a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ on sixty-eight pictures, and after about ten minutes, have those narrowed down to ten. I am shocked there were that many chosen. It didn’t seem that ‘yes’ had been voted more than three times.

Having narrowed the list down to ten, they return to those of the sixty-eight that they voted ‘no’ on, which they refer to as the “out list”. The main purpose of this, I hear, is to give second thought to any that the judges might want to pull back into the competition. Eventually, seven of these are chosen, and so the finals consist of seventeen photographs. I am able to listen to each judge’s individual critiques of the seventeen, and the detail and way in which they describe them is incredible.

With my computer about to die, I am not able to stay much longer, but it has been a wonderful experience, being able to see these three individuals, renown in their field, debate and pick apart what makes a great photo, great.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Photographic Research

Memorable photographs are hard to come by; however, according to a recent study done at the University of Minnesota, they are also worth it. The study went about trying to answer the question of what makes a “photograph worth publishing”, when Instagram and Twitter are flooded worth amateur images every day. Quite resoundingly, the research participants responded that a quality image makes a photograph worth publishing.

In truth, this doesn’t shock me all too much. I believe that in an era of ‘citizen journalists’ and ‘user-generated content’, people still, on the whole, desire quality over quantity. They want the powerful images, the meaningful images. They don’t just want a photograph of something that anyone could take. It also was not surprising to read that people were more drawn to photographs in which the photographer(s) had access to a scene that others were not allowed to have. Because people crave the most powerful images, and those often come from places that not many are allowed to be.

For example, in this story, about a typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013, has an excerpt, at best, recounting one journalist’s recounting of seeing the destruction that the typhoon had left in its’ wake. However, the rest of the article is focused on photographs. The top of the page is marked by a black and white photograph of refugees surrounded by the devastation that is left of their homes. Beneath the article, there is a slideshow of more black and white pictures, thoroughly depicting, in a way no writing could ever hope to, the pure force and loss that this massive storm caused.

That is one more reason that photojournalism is still greatly appreciated by the majority of individuals: it tells a story in a way words never could. Reading about a house leveled in a storm off the coast of some small town in the Philippines is one thing.

Seeing the space once occupied by that house now filled with rubble, is a whole other thing entirely.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Expectations

Entering this semester has me a bit on edge, to say the least. I’ve not had a terrible amount of courses, or experience for that matter, in journalism. I decided on a major in true eleventh hour fashion, in the second semester of my senior year of high school. I was never on the newspaper staff, nor did I work on the yearbook staff. I knew I loved talking about sports, and I knew journalism was the surest route to continue being able to do that for a living. And so I ended up at the University of Missouri. I took no courses in journalism until last semester, and one of those was an introductory, one credit-hour course; the other, an introduction to ethics in the practice of journalism. In the truest sense, I am a blank sheet. It isn’t that I don’t have expectations, I simply don’t know what to expect.

I have the usual goals any individual would have. I want to do well in the course, hopefully get an A, gain some knowledge of my craft. But outside of that, it’s a bit of a maze for me, as far as what I hope to gain. Learning to put together a piece containing photographs, videos, text, and other aspects of multimedia would naturally come at the top of the list of things I’d like to learn, but that comes expected with the course title. My priority list is centralized on learning as much as I can about my chosen profession. Photo editing, video editing, voice overs; anything I can learn, I want to learn.

For example, learning to do a piece like this, which contains not only a written story on the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the succession of the throne by his half-brother Salman, but also links to stories about the new king’s appointments, as well as some of his policies. The story also contains photographs of the half-brothers, and a short video piece reporting the story at the top of the page. In short, this type of story is what I am looking to be able to create when I finish with this class.

And I think that makes up my expectations that I have for myself in this class. Coming into this class with less than no background in the intricate aspects of journalism, I hope I can walk out with far more knowledge of the tools and processes that journalists use than what I came in with.

Summing up my expectations as concisely as I can, I want to be able to change the title of this blog from “How Does One ‘Multimedia'” to “This is How You ‘Multimedia'”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment