It is December, and the semester is almost over. Everyone is gearing up for finals, and a long holiday break. You can feel the tension in the air, along with a sense of impending relief. Or perhaps that is just me. This week I present the online portfolio represented here to my multimedia journalism class. These pages are supposed to represent my journey into a new area of journalism – the future, even.
The Past must give way
If you have read the previous posts here, you probably understand my uneasiness. The world of journalism I know revolves around paper. You do an interview, takes some notes, and write a story. Or – and this is the part I have most experience in – you receive a written story, edit it, and send it to design to be placed. The end result is a hard copy of a page containing that story and maybe some artwork. Over the course of the last four months, I have come to realize that, while print is certainly still viable (I happen to love a glossy magazine or the Sunday morning newspaper, and I don’t believe I am the only one), it is no longer enough. I want to actually work as a journalist, and to do so, I must embrace the changing environment. This revelation is not new, which is one of the reasons I am here, but I am certainly more aware of the reality.
Me, a movie maker?
During this semester, I have had to embrace tasks I never dreamed I would. First, I have actually put myself on camera. Again, if you read the other posts here, you know that this is not something I ever wanted to do, and it is not something I am comfortable doing. But I did three standups for stories in this class, and by the third one, I actually started to think of it as part of my story. I know the quality of my videos is nowhere near the caliber of an evening news cast (that is an entirely different school), but I did learn to start thinking about video as a component of what I was trying to craft. What back drop will best drive home my point? What B-roll will best illustrate what I am trying to say? What clip will represent the subject most succinctly? I came to realize that the video itself can be its own story, and it should be. Can you watch just the video, without my written words, and get a sense of the story? I am not there yet. There is still so much to learn, and for me especially, so much practice still required. But the fact that I am even thinking about how to make myself better in that area is a testament to the fact that I have learned how important it is. So I will practice. I will improve.
Blogging and microblogging are not things I have really delved into before. I love the idea that we have a platform for our voices, and that I can have a place to write about all of the things that interest me (and that, I hope, interest others) and share them with the world. It just wasn’t something I devoted much time to. I constantly read other people’s blogs, and sometimes I would think that I should do something like it, but I didn’t – until this semester. Being required to blog as part of your coursework is certainly a motivation, and it enabled me to sit down and learn the ins and outs of blogging and Twitter necessary to promote myself and my stories online. I posted a couple of news assignments, learned how to curate information into a blog, began to think about tags and SEO, and dove into tweeting as a way to tell everyone what I was watching, reading and doing. The pages here are representative of the fact that I have a beginner’s grasp on how this works, but they are a long way from where I want them to be. It is still difficult to make myself sit down and write. I know that sounds silly, because I am a writer, but you might be surprised. It is one thing entirely to pitch a story that is accepted, or to receive an assignment with a deadline, and write about that. It is an entirely different thing to try to maintain a constant dialogue with the world around us, and to feed that dialogue regularly. Most of the assignments for this class were news stories, and we were tasked with incorporating multimedia into the story. Trying to think of all the pieces you need for a grade and develop a story while keeping those in mind certainly taxes the “creative” process. I’m a feature writer, for the most part. These were not assignments I would seek out. But I learned, through doing, that the multimedia environment has many facets. I can develop news stories about the things I am watching and listening to, but a blog doesn’t have to be all about hard news. You can blog about anything that interests you. The important thing is that you do it. It is still a challenge to carve out a bit of a week here and there to develop a story, but I am getting there. I have developed a style blog that allows a bit more creative license than a news blog, and while it is definitely a work in progress, I believe there is a voice there. The music magazine I work for will have a blog within the month, as a part of the multimedia plan I have put forward to the publisher (we will also have a Twitter account), because we can no longer deny the importance of developing our online presence. That I learned from this class, and it has never been more true. I will continue to develop my own voice and to promote that voice through the media available, but it is an ongoing learning process. I have only scratched the surface; further work will help me go deeper.
Technology has never scared me. I think it is fascinating that in 20 years time, we have gone from desktop computers to iPads. I think it a definite blessing that technology has allowed print publications to share and manipulate documents, layout and design pages, and produce and distribute content in ways they never could before. I embrace technology – but I have been reluctant to learn some of it. One of the areas of this class that challenged me most (outside of the camera “thing” discussed earlier) was the video and audio editing technology we used. iMovie captured our videos and allowed us to make them better. GarageBand helped me take a voiceover, an interview and other sounds and piece them together to make a track for a slideshow. These are not things I have done before, and while I know I can get better, I think I was able to produce something that is at least watchable (if you don’t count my camera presence!) I am most proud of the combination of these two software products, which allowed me to capture songwriter Ryan Chrys and show a bit of his personality. It isn’t a news story, but there is a story there nonetheless. And all of the pieces were brought together using this technology I learned in class. The audio slideshow was my favorite project, the one I am most proud of, and where I began to see the possibilities of combining my love for photography with my love for telling a story, while using the amazing technology available to fuse the two and create something worth watching. I still have development in this area; my knowledge is elementary at best. And I will certainly strive to improve on this quickly. However, I know more now than I did in September.
To be Continued…
In fact, that statement sums up this class in general. I know more now than I did in September – about video editing, audio editing, blogging, Twitter, SEO and all of the other tools that will help me tell a story. I also know that the world of journalism is, and will continue to be, about more than pages and pictures. I have begun a process of learning that cannot stop. I want to be a journalist, and make my living doing what I have always loved to do. I have learned that the environment I am entering is vastly different from the one I knew before. I look forward to continuing the learning process and developing the necessary skills. I want to be very good at this. I will take you all along for the ride. And I am willing to know…