Tuesday, April 17, 2012

PJ student turns a portrait assignment into real news value

This photo might not be a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it earned Shalisha Russell the Student of the Week title!
The following is a portion of a blog post essay written by Intro to PJ student Shalisha Russell:
"Toledoan Bonnie Burnside purchased a vehicle at Toledo Auto Finance. After having the vehicle for only five days, the transmission went out. She claims the dealership is being uncooperative and refuses to fix the vehicle. The only offer the dealership made to Burnside was finding a transmission and a mechanic.
She is protesting the auto dealer’s actions by showing up every day with her signs to inform the public about her bad deal, and to show the dealership she’s serious. Burnside says she'll be out there 'come rain, sleet or snow.' 
Burnside made this assignment easier to complete because she was so open to being photographed. I am grateful that I saw her. I couldn’t have chosen a better subject to be a part of my assignment."
 Russell wrote that essay and took the above photo for her portrait homework assignment last month. 
I can't tell you how excited I was to see a commercial art photography major in an introductory photojournalism class actually cover a real news story. In the two years I've taught this class, this is one of the first times an assignment had real news value. Sure, my students shoot real sports and features, but this story had an element of controversy that could make even a senior PJ major think twice about getting involved. 
This is what Russell tweeted verbatim the day she discovered her lemon story:
 "just saw the perfect subject for portrait excited. lori would've been a proud pj instructor for the way I hopped out of the car & interviewed a lady at a car lot who bought a lemon." 
Darn right I'm a proud PJ instructor! I'm also happy to announce she was recently hired as a part-time reporter/photographer at the Toledo Journal. For these reasons, I've chosen Russell as my Student of the Week.
To read the rest of Russell's blog, and those of the other PJ students, click on the student blog roll in the menu bar above.


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