Sunday, October 13, 2013

Intro 2 PJ students finally get to shoot their first assignment

   Scholastic photojournalists – it’s finally time for you to practice what I’ve been preaching for the past two months.
   You, as Intro to PJ students, have prepped for this moment by doing the following assignments:
1.     First, you learned about social media, and then set up your social media accounts with Blogger and Twitter.
2.     Then you learned what news is. You studied an issue of the Toledo Blade, and had to indentify the many parts that make up a newspaper - like the flag, jumpline and pullout quote. You also viewed Poynter Institute’s What is News NewsU tutorial.
3.     Next up: Ethics, law, copyright and the First Amendment lessons, which included learning the NPPA Code of Ethics and taking the SPLC First Amendment quiz.
4.     To break up the book learning, you got to shoot an assignment with your cell phone cameras.
5.     You also learned how to write concise, accurate photo captions. In this block of instruction you were introduced to the AP Stylebook. By the way, I think it’s very cool that the AP has a paid service to their style quizzes, which you tackled together as a team.
6.     And lastly, we went over your camera controls once again. Sure, most of you have already taken B&W 1, Digital 1 and Color Photography, but unless you shoot every single day, figuring out equivalent exposures can get a little rusty.
   This week you finally get to shoot your first real photojournalism assignment – features. So, get out there and knock on your beat’s door and give them the coverage it deserves! Don't forget to let them know they can then read all about it on your blogs!

Below is a screen grab by Intro 2 PJ student Parth Pitroda. It's his homework assignment on cell phone photography.
    I find it interesting that Parth believes cell phone cameras are substandard to DSLR photography. Sure, the cheaper phone cameras certainly are crappy, but he has an iPhone! So, can you really tell that these two photos are from a cell phone? I can't.
Parth's blog post on cell phone photography. (PHO245 photos by Parth Pitroda)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My video story on local musician Earl Cookie

Just thought I'd share my latest video on Toledo busker Earl Cookie. I initially was concentrating on video, but after the fourth meeting with him I realized there was a good story there, so I also wrote a story and shot stills. The stills and video were both shot with the Canon MarkIV DSLR. The video was produced using Adobe Premiere Elements 11, which I prefer over Final Cut Pro/Express. Premiere Elements 11 is also WAY CHEAPER! There isn't a big leap from shooting stills to video. Both require a knowledge of camera controls and composition. The most significant difference between the two is sound. You have to have good audio, both with the interview and the music. And you have to understand how a timeline works. One other concern is not to duplicate your material. I tried not to put the same information in the story that's in the video. The story was published in the Toledo Magazine page in the Blade this past Sunday. Here is the video:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Owens Outlook newspaper student staffers have heart, guts

  Every time I walk into an Outlook student staff meeting on Thursdays, I am filled with pride at the dozen or so eager faces sitting around the table.
   They don’t have to be there. Consider the following obstacles these student staffers face:
·      Only the editor-in-chief and managing editor are paid
·      Most don’t get class credit for the extracurricular task of working for the school online paper
·      Most are inexperienced and untrained writers, photographers, designers, and editors who aren’t connected by a strong journalism curriculum
   As the new student media adviser, I consider the latter issue to be a big problem. It’s a shame Owens doesn’t offer a journalism course anymore. I often daydream about the pool of talent we could draw from if we only had a strong journalism major that offered basic print/broadcast/social media/digital journalism courses, as well as classes on media law/ethics, and newspaper design.
   With that said, we should at least be taking advantage of what we do have: business, English, commercial art (CRT) and photography courses. But at this point there isn’t a system in place that allows the Outlook to collaborate with these diverse courses.
   One of my primary goals is to get as many instructors of these classes on board as soon as possible. The business classes could help with advertising; the CRT students could design both the hard copy and online editions; the English students could write something for a real-world publication. All of these students could pad their portfolios and be more employable in the long run!
 The Owens Outlook newspaper, completely created by student staffers.
   It would be a great help if the instructors were willing to provide training through lesson plans, or at least offer incentives, like extra credit.
   At this point, I’ve been reaching out to Toledo Blade staffers and other area media to be mentors and trainers. Blade writer Matt Thompson shared writing tips during one meeting; and Blade sports reporter Don Emmons and art director Wes Booher has agreed to help.
   I am also training the students on a chosen topic every Thursday. Last week we covered interviewing sources, and this week we’ll go over writing lead sentences and how to put a story together.
   Despite all of these obstacles, our mission of going back to print is not insurmountable.  The editor’s have done a wonderful job recruiting their friends and classmates from the photography and commercial art departments.
   Currently, the small staff is cutting their teeth on the online edition. Yes, mistakes are plenty. Deadlines pass by. Stories are missed. But there is no doubt these students are willing to work together, and learn from their mistakes, which will allow us to move forward with our plans to publish a hard copy of the Owens Outlook beginning in Spring 2014.