Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wayne State Digital Photojournalism final projects showcase multiple skills

“This assignment was truly a culmination of skills, and I exercised them all to the best of my ability. After this assignment I’ve realized just how artful photojournalism is and the work people put in to doing it. For me the hardest part was still the photos, the technique. I now know that as a photojournalist you also have to create your style, your ‘way of doing,’ to create this common thread in your images and that thread is you. What you’re looking at through your lenses, what composition you’re using, how you’re using light, what moments you capture. You’re given the tools and the skills but once you’re out shooting it all comes down to you.” – Pulled quote from blog post of Kayla Cockrel, fall semester 2016 Wayne State Digital Photojournalism student.

   What a succinct way of describing what photojournalists do!
   It is certainly true that once you’re out there with camera in hand, whatever and wherever it is, it all comes down to you, the shooter: What lens you choose. What composition you see. How you evaluate light. What moment you capture.
   Kayla learned this through experiencing those important choices via the assignments given in the Digital Photojournalism class at Wayne State University in Detroit.
   I’ve heard grumblings from former students complaining that the course is too advanced. Too difficult. They come in on that first day thinking it’s basically a camera class, but find out as the course progresses that it’s much more than learning apertures and shutter speeds.
   Lessons include:

  • What news and photojournalism is. This includes identifying all parts of a print newspaper, learning the history of journalism, and identifying eight news values
  • The camera: Learning ISO, shutter speed, aperture; composition; reading light; capturing the moment
  • Setting up and maintaining social media sites: Wordpress blogs, Twitter and Instagram
  • Writing AP style captions
  • Law & Ethics
  • Collecting and editing audio
  • Shooting feature, portrait, sports and photo story assignments
  • Using industry standard software: Photo Mechanic; Photoshop; Adobe Premiere Pro CC; Audacity
  
Screen grab: Blog post by Morgan Kollen
Yes, it’s progressive. But because this is the only photojournalism course available in the journalism program, I stand by the curriculum. 
Because I understand this is a difficult course for the novice photographer, which most of them are, I allow them to turn in assignments late. This gives them time to soak in the information; reshoot weak assignments; give them confidence and time to get out of their comfort zones.
   Even if they will never use a camera again, they, as journalism and PR majors, will undoubtedly work with photojournalists, or manage them. Now they will have an appreciation of what photojournalists do, and what they need to get the job done.
    The final project is a culmination of all of the aforementioned lessons. I’m proud to say most of the students did amazingly well. Rather than have a strict rule on how it should be presented, they were encouraged to follow their guts, and hearts. Considering most of these students knew absolutely nothing about cameras and storytelling four months ago, I think they did a great job putting their stories together.
   This proves to me that I am on the right track in keeping the curriculum challenging, but giving them time and room to grow. Most students walk into class with a minimal digital footprint, and depart with a Wordpress blog showcasing a variety of photojournalism content. 
   Now, I present to you three wonderful, very different examples of their work. These are their final projects: 

Ryan Miller – a conversation interview format, shot in a difficult lighting situation:


Morgan Kollen – a poetic tribute to the City of Detroit:


Chris Ehrmann – a video story on his trip with fellow WSU classmates to Ghana in October:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My justification as to why audio lesson is a vital part of photoj curriculum


This is the very first audio story recorded and produced by Owens Visual Storytelling student Suzanne Caris, published on the Owens Outlook online student newspaper Nov. 28. 
WGTE's Haley Taylor explains her strategy for producing her Rough Draft Diaries series at the Toledo station.
   I received a negative comment on an instructor evaluation last semester from a Wayne State Digital Photojournalism student.
   That student wrote, and I quote: “Why in the f--- are we editing sound?”
   A few years ago I would have asked that same question, but not now. Gone are the days when photojournalists simply take still photos and write captions.   
   I try to make it pretty clear throughout each semester that photojournalism is rapidly evolving, expanding, transforming, and yes, getting harder. We are multitasking; being spread too thin; and doing more for less. Photojournalists now shoot video (and some even fly drones and do VR and 3D work), while journalists can be expected to shoot their own still photos and videos, as well.
   All three of my classes (Wayne State, Kent State and Owens) are either creating audio slideshows or podcasting. So, as a photojournalism instructor, it's my job to expose students to basic audio capture and production.
   That’s why they are editing sound.
   The WSU Digital Photojournalism course is an intense introduction class that is filled with journalism, broadcasting and public relation majors. They learn the basics of the DSLR camera, how to write captions, and their First Amendment rights. They also shoot feature, portrait and sports assignments for practical experience.
   For their final project, they shoot and produce an audio slideshow, which requires an audio track. They shoot the story, and also record interviews and capture ambient sound, if appropriate. The students can add royalty-free music if it benefits the story.
   The audio is recorded with their cell phones, a recording device or their cameras, and then edited using Audacity, a free multi-track audio editor and recorder that is installed on all of the MAC computers in the classroom. Adobe Premiere Pro CCis used for the audio slideshow production.
Haley Taylor's strategy for a Rough Draft Diaries show.
   For the Visual Storytelling course at Owens, I added podcasting to the curriculum this semester. 
    According to Dictionary.com, a podcast is a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer.
   To kick off the audio lesson we took a field trip to WGTE Public Radio in Toledo in October. We were given a tour by Cathy Kamenca, and podcaster Haley Taylor was gracious enough to show us how she produces her Rough Draft Diaries series.   
   Then the students hit the ground running. They used either the Zoom H2 recorder or their cell phones to capture the audio; edited their files using Audacity, and uploaded their stories on either audioBoom or SoundCloud.
   Their audio stories are currently airing weekly on the Owens Outlook student newspaper.
   This new audio lesson, which is pretty basic, is appropriate for this course, considering the Visual Storytelling class is now a requirement course in the new broadcasting major.
   The Owens Outlook staff is pondering a name and branding image for the podcasts. It’s unclear at the time the direction we’ll go with them.
   After all, this class, like photojournalism, is still evolving, transforming and expanding.

   To listen to my first effort at podcasting for the Toledo Blade, go here.
WGTE's Cathy Kamenca, second from right, gives the Owens' Visual Storytelling students a tour of the Toledo studio.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My failed job interview at Kent State: What I would say differently

   This is a story about failure and sabotage.
   I’ve lost plenty of sleep over it, and played back my poor performance in my head a million times. How could I have done it differently?
   Well, this is my first step in trying to redeem a little of myself, by helping others. Though it’s too late for me because I didn’t get the job, it’s not too late for others, who will be in my shoes at some point in their careers.
   Earlier this year I applied to teach at my Alma Mater, Kent State. The position was in the journalism department, and it was for a nine-month tenure track position, meaning full-time employment with summers off. I was selected for the first initial Skype interview.
   Though my attention to details is fading, and for the sake of brevity, I will highlight two major mistakes that could have cost me the job.
o      
 Because I started teaching podcasting at Kent and Owens CC, I 
was compelled to do this podcast series for a Toledo Blade story. 
"In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn." Phil Collins
Mistake No. 1: My paraphrased answer to their first question.
The search committee: “So, why should we hire you?”
Me: “Because I worked very, very hard to get here.”
   What? Did I really say that? Who doesn’t work very, very hard to get where they are?
   What I should have said was this:
“Because I’m a very experienced journalist, photojournalist and newspaper editor. I’m also social media savvy. I believe every student journalist should graduate with multiple skills (writing, shooting stills and video, podcasting) because that’s what the job dictates these days.
“I’m also experienced in the classroom, teaching the skills I have mastered over the years. 
“I love teaching so much that I went back to school and received a Master’s degree in Journalism Education in 2012. In fact, I currently teach the Teaching Multimedia grad course within that program, which is at your fine institution.
   I also have written two articles in 2016 on journalism education and photojournalism interns for NPPA's News Photographer Magazine. Plus, I'm the faculty advisor for the Owens Outlook student online newspaper.
   “I think you should hire me because I understand that this field is always evolving, so I continue to learn, and I thoroughly enjoy evolving with it, and taking students on that journey with me.”
o   Mistake No. 2: My answer to this question: “What is your biggest weakness?”
   “Um, I guess research.”
Sigh. Did I really just admit that? Yes, I did. I was even warned that they were looking for a researcher. This is when I truly sabotaged myself. What I should have said was this:
   “My biggest weakness is my greatest strength.
   "As you know, I am a working full-time photojournalist at the Toledo Blade. The strength of that job, which I've had for the past 21 years, is that it keeps my shooting and communication skills sharp. I’m shooting everyday, and using social media to promote our stories. I’m also very aware of our First Amendment rights, and am very ethically and legally fit. Students should be aware of our photographer rights, as well.
   “However, the weakness of having that job is that it takes up at least 40 hours a week of my time. Consider that each fall semester I also teach a class at two universities, and in the spring I teach a class at three universities! Can you imagine how much energy I can put into my job at Kent State if I directed all my resources into one, single school and job? I would be thrilled to devote that extra 40 hours to do research on innovation, which I would love to do if I only had the time.”  
   So, there it is. Truth is I am not quick on my feet in front of a search committee. 
   Maybe next time, since I’ve actually written this out, I can do a better job in letting them know that I would be a great asset to their school. Sure, I’ve failed in two formal job interviews at Bowling Green University and Kent State, but I can’t give up because I still believe I have a lot to give.
   Of course, I could be totally wrong about why it didn't work out. But regardless, my advice is this: 
  • Write an essay on both your strengths and weaknesses. Read it over and over again before the interview so it’s fresh in your head. 
  • Know exactly what you want to say about why you would be great at the job. 
  • Don't be afraid to brag about your accomplishments. I should have told them to look at my website and my class blog, because the proof is in the demonstrated work.

   Maybe I didn’t have the courage to talk up my accomplishments enough, and that could have been my biggest mistake.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Owen's Visual Storytelling students going on trip of a lifetime to Atlanta

 Campus Pulse Promo from Owens Outlook Student Newspaper on Vimeo
This is an example of the Visual Storytelling students in action, recorded and published last month. Imagine what they will do after they get back from the CMA conference!
 
   The Visual Storytelling class will soon be packing their bags for a trip of a lifetime!
   Plane and hotel reservations are booked, and the students have notified their other instructors that they’ll be missing a few days of school Oct. 26-29. 
   With funds from Owens Community College Student Activities and an Owens Outlook student newspaper Block Foundation endowment, eight of us will be traveling to Atlanta to attend the Fall 2016 College Media Association convention.
   As the class instructor and student newspaper adviser, I believe this student media convention will pack a humungous educational punch that I can’t replicate. 
   We are one of nearly 100 schools that will learn the craft of all things journalism while sitting in choices of 360 breakout sessions, led by industry leaders and college media experts. The variety of sessions is quite impressive, and includes everything from learning how to write feature stories, get better sound out of your broadcast studio, and manage student media, to how to sell ads and become a better adviser.
      The keynote speakers alone are worth the trip. Here a few I’m excited to hear:
  •         Award-winning CNN producer/editor Jen Christensen, who will lead a panel on the Orlando shooting and its aftermath
  •      Tom Luse, executive producer for The Walking Dead television show about zombies
  •      Hank Kilibanoff, director of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University
Visual Storytelling class in their first Owens Outlook meeting.
      All six of my Visual Storytelling students are also members of the student newspaper, a requirement of the course. Because we are a community college with no journalism program, I, as the sole journalism instructor on campus, have turned my photojournalism class into a practicum course. The definition of practicum applies because this course is designed to give students supervised practical experience in a particular field, in this case visual storytelling, which includes shooting stills and video, and podcasting.
   Also attending the conference is the Owens Outlook student business manager, a paid part-time Owens employee. Alicia is responsible for all of our business needs, including selling ads for revenue, which pays for our camera equipment. We also use ads to purchase gift cards for students who go above and beyond. Because Owens Outlook student media are not paid, this is one way of giving back (not all student media are students in the Visual Storytelling class. The Owens Outlook is open to all students).
   This is the third time I’ve taken students the CMA conference, and I hope it won’t be the last. There is no better way of inspiring students to be better communicators and informed citizens, whether they stay in the journalism field, or not.
   Each student will be required to write a blog post, including an essay and photos, about their experience after they get back. I encourage you to check out their blogs, which you can find here.
   I can tell that the upcoming conference has already made a difference in their attitudes and enthusiasm. Their attendance is nearly perfect, and their participation is amazing.
   Yes, I wholeheartedly believe the monetary cost is worth every penny.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Golden Camera: A symbol of achievement, hard work & true grit


Kyle Benner: First recipient for Visual Storytelling class
   I came upon a small yard sale while walking down a Columbus, Ohio side street this summer, and stopped purely out of curiosity.
   It is significant to note I am not a yard saler. I don't bargain hunt, clip coupons or window shop. But for some reason I stopped at this one.
    I noticed a collection of vintage camera stuff, so I, of course, did a quick scan of what was being pawned off as other people's treasures. And there, amongst the junk, was the Golden Camera.
    The hollow camera is a gold-plated monstrosity of a thing, and I had to have it! So I bartered, like I hear you're supposed to do at yard sales, and successfully shaved off a few bucks. I borrowed the $3 sale price from my spouse and walked away feeling like I had just bought something pretty special.
    It didn't take long before I realized what to do with it. It would be perfect as an incentive and reward for students in my Owens Community College Visual Storytelling and Wayne State University Digital Photojournalism classes.
    The camera is now presented during class to those who go above and beyond. Each recipient will get their photo taken with it, and it will be posted on Instagram. They then get to keep it for a week.
    So far, two students have had the esteemed honor of being presented with the Golden Camera: Kyle Benner, of Owens, and Wayne State's Ryan Miller.
    This is just one way of giving back to students who work hard to show up to class, follow assignment instructions, turn in their homework on time, and try their best. It is important to mention that the Golden Camera is not about being perfect or flawless, just getting the job done with enthusiasm, and for demonstrating true grit for getting out of their comfort zones.
    So, this is the story behind the Golden Camera. May it be in the hands of many, many, many students for the unforseeable future. 
    It is my little treasure, and I'm happy to share it.
Ryan Miller: Second recipient for Wayne State Digital Photojournalism class

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Welcome back visual storyteller and photojournalism students!

   Welcome back!
   I'm looking forward to this semester for several reasons:
   Owens Community College
   The Introduction to Photojournalism course at Owens has been changed. It is now Visual Storytelling. This means less emphasis on journalism, and more on multimedia.
   The name change puts this course more in line with the Commercial Photography and Commercial Art Technology degrees. It also takes away the scary 'journalism' part, considering the students aren't journalism majors. No, there is no journalism major at Owens. This class is as close as it gets.
   Because it's the first semester for this new course, I'll be experimenting with assignment ideas.  The first major tweak is eliminating the sports assignment, and adding podcasting. Don't let the 'visual' part of the course title fool you; storytelling comes in all platforms, even the use of audio.
   The textbook has also changed. We'll be using Multimedia Journalism, by Andy Bull. This book helps "build proficiency and professional standards in multimedia journalism." It features lessons on social media, Wordpress, smartphone apps and building a personal brand.
  Another tweak is to change from Blogger to Wordpress. Wordpress blogs are more universally accepted in the journalism world, and I forced myself to learn and use it this summer. As my own test subject, I developed Visuals & Voices of Toledo, and am quite satisfied with the results. You, as Toledo-area students, will also be submitting your work, particularly your podcasts, to that platform, too.
   I strongly believe that learning is doing, so you will have ample opportunity to learn as you create real and published visual and audio stories.
   We, as a class, will also be meeting once a week in the Owens Outlook student newspaper office. That means one class period will be in the classroom, and the other class period will be in the newspaper office located in the SHAC. I'm hoping this will help get you into the spirit of the newspaper, considering you all will be staff members.
   And the best news of all - all six students have been invited to join me at the College Media Association Fall Convention in Atlanta the end of October. As the Outlook adviser, I will bring back with fresh ideas to keep this student newspaper running for as long as I am with Owens.
   So, students, bear with me as we go forth into the exciting unknown.
Wayne State University
   There are no dramatic changes in this course. 
   However, after reading the instructor evaluations, there will be more group sessions, particularly while going through the photo selection and editing process. In fact, I've added an assignment specifically geared for that process.
   As with the Owens course, you will also change from Blogger to Wordpress. This will go well with the website class many of you have taken, or will take, here at Wayne State.
   For inspiration and to get you into the spirit of storytelling, please view this PBS special on photojournalist and war photographer Lynsey Addario:
   

Monday, May 16, 2016

KSU Teaching Multimedia students post final assignment: A lesson plan


   The semester is now over, but before I put this blog to bed for the summer, I want to share the final projects for my Kent State Teaching Multimedia grad students.
   But first, I want to say that the Teaching MM course impacted me a great deal when I was a grad student in the KSU Journalism Education program. Under the tutelage of Sue Zake in 2009, a KSU adjunct and instructor for that course back then, I created my first blog, and have been blogging ever since. Now, Zake is a KSU assistant professor, and I am honored to have inherited that course from her in 2013.
   Blogs are now required in all of my photojournalism courses because, it most cases, it’s the first visual portfolio for the students. Blogs are a powerful way of documenting what they’ve learned throughout the semester, and passing that knowledge forward.
   The final and most significant posting is their final project, which is developing a lesson plan, homework sheet, rubric and Camtasia Studio tutorial on a topic of their choice. It was based on their newfound expertise in creating multimedia journalism. The students were instructed to select a subject they wanted to teach and/or use with their own students, and upload all of the required elements to their blogs. 
   Not only do I grade from the blogs, but by posting to their blogs, other teachers and students can share it, as well.
   Of course, all of the teachers have developed lesson plans and rubrics throughout their career. But what was new was developing a lesson using Camtasia, a screen recording and video editing software that is perfect for creating how-to tutorials. Since this was a multimedia course, why not introduce them to a program that enhances their lesson plans?
    I loved the wide range of subjects chosen for this assignment: Videolicious, Twitter, video sequencing and editing, creating infographics, Picasa and editing podcasts using Audacity.
   So, it is with immense pride that I present to you the blogs of the spring semester 2016 class, who are mostly high school teachers advising or teaching student media (broadcasting, newspapers, yearbook).
    Click Here for the Page link to their blogs.

Adding a poll to your content from Mark Davidson on Vimeo.

How to use Twitter to promote a news story from Teaching Multimedia on Vimeo.

  (This video is a demonstration for students posting their live broadcasts to Todd's school website on his class page, by Todd Hatfield)

Editing Video to Tell a Story from Stephen Milligan on Vimeo.

(Introducing students to ThingLink, a website that allows users to create interactive graphics, by Michael Gluskin)


AIR Exam Video from Robin Lester on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The final assignment for the Intro to PJ class: The Sunshine Magazine

   This 24-page magazine showcases the photography and writing by the spring 2016 Owens Community College's Intro to Photojournalism course.
   With my guidance, each student was responsible for their own work, including the layout and design of their assigned pages, produced using Photoshop and Word.
   These commercial photography majors were certainly out of their comfort zones when they were tasked with writing and editing duties, but isn't that why they were in that classroom for the past four months... to be challenged with building new skills?
   The explanation of the successes and pitfalls of the overall project, which took a month to shoot and produce, is in the previous blog post. This is a Steller iPhone slideshow of our visit to Sunshine: Click here for Steller slideshow
   Thank you, Sunshine, for inviting us in, and thank YOU for viewing!
Page 1
Page 2
(The Play button on Page 2 indicates a video shot by Caleb, which is not linked on this blog post.)
Page 3
Page 4-5
(Note: The trapped white spacing at the end of the third column occurred during the transition from Word to PDF)
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Pages 12-13
Pages 14-15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Pages 20-21
Pages 22-23
Page 24
(This last page is a sponsorship ad submitted by Sunshine)

Monday, April 25, 2016

How we built an online photo magazine from scratch using PS, Word

A rough draft of page designation on the white board during early stages of our planning.
   Sometimes you just have to work with the tools you’ve got, and make what’s old new again.
   That’s what my Introduction to Photojournalism students at Owens Community College did when we created a 24-page online magazine from scratch.
   It was seriously daunting for all of us. I haven’t designed a publication since I was the editor of the 180th Fighter Wing’s newspaper, The Stinger, 16 years ago! And I did that using Adobe Pagemaker. Who uses that anymore? InDesign would have been preferable, but it wasn’t available, and it’s too big of a learning curve to teach the students at the tail end of the semester, anyway.
   All we had in the classroom was Photoshop and Word. The students had limited Photoshop skills, and didn’t know a thing about magazine layout and design, but we needed a change, and they needed a challenge.
   Traditionally, this class used Soundslides to showcase their final team photo project, but the audio slideshow software is outdated. I wanted a modern publishing platform that would showcase a good body of work, and require critical thinking and teamwork.
    As the adviser to the Owens Outlook online student newspaper, the staff and I have been toying with the idea of creating an online magazine. So, why not make an assignment out of it?
   I have fond memories of my days when I was as a military newspaper editor of several publications, both tabloid and broadsheet. There is nothing more satisfying and thrilling than filling empty pages with content.  Since we would make the content, I figured we’d build the magazine as we went, considering a magazine has lots of pieces and parts.
   The students, mostly commercial photography majors, thought I was nuts. And maybe I was, but they needed a challenge that was completely different than what they were used to, which was primarily blogging and sharing their photography via social media. I wanted them to boldly showcase their work in a way that would make them feel accomplished, proud and shareable.
   I confess that I tried the online magazine format in the previous class three semesters ago, but I made a few tactical mistakes that prevented the publication from getting completed and published.
1.     Last time, we shot the community story on Bittersweet Farms too late. We didn’t have enough time to complete the magazine. It was about 95 percent done, then the semester ended. 
- This time, we shot the project a month before the semester was over.
2.     Last time, only one student was tasked to design the entire publication using InDesign on his personal computer. That meant the others were sitting around watching. I tried to emulate a real newsroom, but it didn’t work. This prevented the others from designing their own pages and being ultimately responsible for their own design.
- This time, they were all responsible for their own assigned pages.
   In this blog post I’m going to share how they successfully accomplished their 24-page creation.
STEP 1:  Choose a subject that would lend itself to magazine-type coverage.
In the past, this class has covered Bittersweet FarmsCherry Street MissionWood Lane School in Bowling Green, and even the problem of arson in urban Toledo.
   This semester we visited Sunshine Communities, a residential home and outreach center for people with developmental disabilities.
   We only spend 90 minutes there, but each of the six students had their jobs to do:
  •       Nate wrote the main story and a sidebar, and shot the art studio in Maumee, Ohio
  •     Caleb shot and produced the video
  •     Kyle covered the barn
  •     Chris shot the greenhouse, and Georgette’s in Downtown Maumee
  •     Courtney and Jackie documented the vocational services and art room                   
STEP 2:  Choose a magazine format.
I chose Issuu, a free electronic publishing platform. The key word here is publishing, meaning that the magazine has to first be designed and saved in PDF format before uploading it to Issuu.
   Then we had to select a design software. Since all we had was Photoshop and Word, that made the decision easy. We also had a video we wanted to embed in the publication, and Word allows you to do that.
   The problem using this platform is that we exceeded, by A LOT, the size of the issue. The free basic package only allows you 100MB. We were over 500! So, I have to find another way to get this magazine published. However, all 24 pages on now posted on this blog.    
STEP 3: Iron out the small details:
·      Size and page count of the publication
·      Front cover photo and flag
·      Font and font sizes for stories, captions and headlines
·      What’s on each page, and who has what pages
·      Page numbers
·      How to do double-trucks, since Issuu only accepts two-page spreads as a single PDF. Alas, we did it wrong. I'll update this post when I get it right...
STEP 4:  Get the final product into Issuu:
This was a little tricky, considering there aren’t quality instructional videos or guides for the entire process. We had to learn as we went. When we got to a roadblock, we Googled how to get over it.
   One of the big hurdles was how Issuu accepts the PDF files. We had to merge the PDF pages into one using Acrobat. At first I was a little concerned about the PDF conversion, but that made it easier when using more than one design software.
   Once the students were done with their pages, we saved them as PDFs, collected them into a single folder, merged them, and attempted to upload it to Issuu. But, as you now know, our file size was too big.
   We studied quite a few Issuu magazines to get ideas, and I think the overall design worked! 
   Yes, there are mistakes. Yes, there will be people who will point out those mistakes.  But a great benefit of this project is that students need to learn you don’t have to really know what you’re doing to try it. If you have an idea, take a risk and just do it! Fear shouldn't stop the learning process or the attempt! I hope this is one of the lessons learned.

Friday, April 15, 2016

NPR's Ira Glass: Good, creative work takes good taste and many years...

   This video offers great words of inspiration and wisdom for every journalism student out there who is struggling to find their place in this crazy world of storytelling.
    This is a stressful time for students, who are working hard to make creative work, earn good final grades, find jobs and internships, and discover their voices. So, when I first saw this video, posted on Facebook by Owens Community College photography professor Ruth Foote, I thought that this would be a perfect time to share it, as well. Yes, I used the word 'perfect,' which I've pretty much banned from my classroom, but in this case it's fitting, because students need this kind of inspiration to keep them going.
   Like Glass admitted, it took him a long time to find his place. Can you imagine if he gave up when things got tough? We wouldn't have This American Life! And that would be a damn shame.
   So, students, watch this video, and never give up!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Three classes prepare for the end, and the building tension is all around us

Screen grab from blog of WSU Digital PJ student Brice Bossavie. Feature assignment.
Photo by Intro to PJ student Kyle Brown. Sports assignment.
    The end is near.
  This means less laughs and more stress. A few students dropped out, while others are stepping up. Final projects and exams loom. Deadlines are finite. It is a tense time for the students, and for us instructors, as well.
   But it’s also an exciting time because the end produces results. Most of the students began the semester with a blank social media slate, but will leave with active blogs, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Their blogs will showcase everything they have learned for the past three months.
   In this blog post I’ll recap how the semester went:
Intro to Photojournalism | Owens Community College
     This is a small but mighty class.
  Not only are they doing their regular homework assignments, they are also student staffers on the Owens Outlook online student newspaper.
   All of them are required to provide photos with captions for the newspaper. And, for the first time since I’ve been teaching this course, they are also tasked with shooting video for the weekly Campus Pulse.  A few of the students even write stories.
   But it’s the final project that will test their mettle. We, as a team, are collectively producing a 32-page magazine on a single issue: a photo story on the residents and staff of Sunshine Communities in Maumee, Ohio. Because most of the students are mostly commercial photography majors, shooting the project was the easy part.
   The hard part will be designing the magazine in the next three weeks, and it’s daunting. They will design the pages using Photoshop, and upload the PDF files to Issuu. Each student has three pages to fill.
   Considering this is the first time to try this, we have to start from scratch. No templates. But I’ve always loved a challenge!
   Here a few of the issues we are tackling:
·      Choose a front page photo, and design the flag
·      Choose font types, sizes and colors
·      Design the index and masthead page
·   Determine who has what pages. Each student is responsible for designing their own pages, which will include an essay on their experience. 
   We’ll publish the inaugural issue on their blogs in three weeks, so stay tuned.
   Now is a good time to reveal that this is the last Intro to Photojournalism class. Beginning in the fall, the class will be called Visual Storytelling, and it’ll run every spring and fall, instead of just once a year. It’ll be a required course for the new broadcast technology major.
   The premise will remain the same, with journalism as a primary component, but I’ll add podcasting and video storytelling to the curriculum.
Digital Photojournalism | Wayne State University
Photo by WSU Digital PJ student Rob Streit. Features assignment.
   This class is triple the size of Owens, so it’s not realistic to do a team final photo project like Owens did.
    Instead, they are responsible for shooting their own photo story. The students are also required to record an interview and capture live ambient sound as an added storytelling element.
   They are currently learning Audacity to edit their audio, and will produce their final project in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014.  The projects will be uploaded onto the course’s YouTube account, and on their individual blogs.
   Most of the students are print journalism and broadcast majors, so this is a course that could, and probably will, be beneficial to them someday. These days it’s not a matter of if, but when, they will be taking their own images.
Teaching Multimedia | Kent State University
   This is a distance-learning course for high school journalism teachers and advisers from around the country. Most of the students are English teachers with no background or experience in journalism.
   Can you imagine? One day they’re teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, and then all of a sudden they are advisers to the yearbook, the student newspaper, and teaching journalism courses. It happens all the time, and as long as schools do not commit to journalism programs, it'll continue happening.
   Fortunately, these grad students have the Journalism Education program at Kent State (which I’m a graduate of), and are simultaneously learning about the journalism field, as well as how to teach it.
   In this course they are learning about multimedia, which includes photography, infographics (maps, surveys, polls and timelines) and video storytelling.
   And this semester I’ve added two new lessons: podcasting and creating a Camtasia Studio tutorial. Judging from their essays, I'm confident they liked podcasting, especially if they regularly listen to NPR.
   As far as the Camtasia Studio tutorial goes, I'm also confident they'll value that, too. In fact, I plan on spending many summer mornings creating Camtasia Studio tutorials on moderately difficult tasks, like Audacity and Premiere. It'll save time in the classroom, in the end, and who doesn't value that?

Screen grab of podcast produced by Teaching MM student Mark Davidson. Interview podcast assignment.
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   So, this sums up the spring 2016 semester, so far. I told every student on Day One that my classes are designed to prepare them for ‘the real world,’ and to have a tangible portfolio of work in the end. Mission almost accomplished.
(To view the blogs of students in any of the three classes, go to the designated blog list pages at the top of this blog.)