Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On journalists taking their own photos: It is now a matter of when ... not if

Tweet of f/stop chart written on a whiteboard by a student learning depth of field.
Screen grab from blog of student Jun Kim.
We are nearly half way through the fall 2015 semester, so it's time for a quick update on how the Wayne State University digital photojournalism course is going.
   The first half of the semester was spent setting up their social media accounts (blogging, Twitter and Instagram), and learning their law, ethics and First Amendment rights as photojournalists. They are also in the middle of learning how to use their DSLR cameras . . . on manual mode, of course. This includes going over camera controls and composition - basic photography training with a 'keep it real' philosophy.
   Next up are lessons on caption writing, the AP Stylebook and cell phone photography.
   They learn all of the above before they even shoot their first assignment, which will be feature hunting.
    There are 17 students in the course, and all but one (economics) are in the journalism program. I told them on the first day of class that if they stay in journalism, it won't be a matter of IF they shoot their own photos, but WHEN.
   Journalism has changed over the past few years. There are far less photojournalists now because of layoffs, streamlining, job cuts, and print newspaper closures and online editions. Remember the cuts at Chicago Sun Times, the Times-Picayune and CNN, just to name a few? Remember what happened with the Ann Arbor News and the Rocky Mountain News? Their demise left many great photojournalists unemployed, including Pulitzer Prize winner Preston Gannaway.
    The demise of hundreds of these staff photojournalism jobs is what drives me to prepare these young journalists for the future. I tell them to take the course seriously; to use their cameras regularly; to shoot their own photo stories now, so they can show their future employer that they can multitask.
   The second half of the course is going to be challenging, to say the least. They will work with the WSU South End student newspaper and WDET to produce real work, not just homework. Assignments include shooting feature, portrait and sports assignments. The final project will be a photo story, which will include natural sound, and produced using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.
   The power of social media will allow these students to share what they learn and do. To follow their progress, click on the Wayne State Student Blog list at the top of this blog and follow any or all of the 17 students who will one day be out there in the real world with pens, notebook and cameras in hand.

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