Friday, October 26, 2012

60 Minutes: foreign policy study guide

          With the election coming up, I've been trying to make sure I'm educated as much as possible before voting. This is my first time voting in a presidential election, so I'm excited to be a part of decision making for our country. I decided to do some research on foreign policy and came across 60 Minutes Overtime and its "foreign policy study guide."
          60 Minutes did a great job of making the information available and in a format that will actually engage the reader. The "study guide" is broken up into 7 different pages. There are 'Next' and 'Back' arrows to flip through each page which contains a different category. For example, the video I am going to break down further is centered around Syria. This is a great format just because it helps back it simple for the reader. I can scroll through the different pages and pick which area I want to know more about. On each page there's a video and a text description of what the video is. This gives the reader multiple outlets to immerse themselves in the story.

           Clarissa Ward did a fantastic job on her 14 minute Syria package. At the end of the video, I felt much more knowledgable about what exactly is going on, while not feeling like I was being talked down to or taught. She started off with a great graphic that showed the viewer exactly where Aleppo was and how they got there. If I learned one thing from this piece, it's the importance of transparency.

          I think the transparency of this piece is a huge reason it is so successful. She included herself in the piece, which some reporters don't do, but I thought it really added to the video. You could see where she was in Aleppo and her in the environment talking to real people. She was also very clear about the steps they took in order to get different interviews. She told how long it took some leaders to response and all the hurdles they had to jump to speak to them, which helps the reader make judgements on whether or not they are going to trust who she is speaking to. At the end, instead of saying, 'This man isn't trustworthy,' she showed the viewer how she went back and showed him the two separate videos and filmed his response and reaction. This is strong journalism since it's letting the viewer determine their stance on their own. Also, by including her and her camera crew in the piece, it let the viewer in on the real danger present in Aleppo. They were constantly getting in and out of their car to avoid bullets and danger.

         I really love this style of reporting and how it's a much longer investigative piece. You can tell the amount of work Ward put in to really expose something new and things that viewers may not have seen before. This is definitely something I want to apply to piece at some point in my career, but bits and pieces of this reporting style can be incorporated into my everyday reporting.

Mona Eltahawy

         One of the perks of going to the number 1 ranked J-School in the country is becoming exposed to excellent journalism from the very start of your college experience. The recipients of the Missouri Honors Medal all gave presentations last Monday for students to come listen and learn from their adventures. 
        I had the privilege to go listen to Mona Eltahawy, and her talk about how Twitter saved her life. It was so inspirational to listen to a powerful women standing up for herself and her country. She told us about her time protesting in Cairo in Tahrir Square where she was held hostage and assaulted.  She is such a great example of active journalism. 
       I thought it was really interesting that she said after September 11 she gave up her title as an objective journalist. We are taught in all our journalism classes the importance of objectivity in our writing, but here's a successful journalist making a difference with her beliefs and opinions. I think part of the reason Mona is so influential is because she's passionate about subjects she's fighting for and talking about, which is why people are captivated by her tweets. 
     I also really liked what she said when she compared Twitter to an empty room. She said when you first get a Twitter, you are essentially in an empty room until you start adding people you want to follow. Then, it's like you are at a party and you are picking what people you want to talk to. If you aren't interesting, then people aren't going to talk to you- or in her analogy- follow you back. So you start creating this room and environment for interesting people, but this could also be a negative thing. If you don't have the right people in your room, then your ideas won't go anywhere. It's all about the connections you make to get your voice heard and people to care. 
      Mona's talk was so moving and really inspired me to be passionate about everything that I do. She re-motivated me and reminded me that journalism is something that I love and not to get bogged down in challenges. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Love in the First Person"

At twenty, photojournalist Matt Eich has maturity dropped in his lap: his world-class career takes off, just as his girlfriend becomes pregnant. Together they document their budding lives, as they grapple with some very grown-up choices. See the project at

    While other majors study their books and memorize facts, I've truly learned that you shape yourself into a better journalist by experiencing life. Every experience in life creates more depth to our ability to connect to people and tell stories.
    While most of our learning experiences as students happen while we are out in the field working on class assignments, one way we can become a better journalist sitting at home is by watching and reading the work of other journalists. This way we can figure out what works and what doesn't. We can see different story-telling techniques that we might want to emulate in our own reporting some day.
     I love in-depth multimedia pieces, so I decided to watch "Love in First Person."There were a lot of things I thought were really powerful about how they told their story, but I also found spots where I would have told the story differently.


Personal- The story was extremely personal, which is what allowed them to really make it an in-depth piece. They were telling the story about themselves, so they were able to capture those raw, emotional moments. Also, since they are both so comfortable with each other, the camera wasn't intrusive. They were really able to capture the raw emotion of the journey they were going through.

They were also able to include personal videos from the wedding, which I think added a nice dynamic to the piece. There weren't any major holes in their story telling, since they have access to all their home videos and personal moments. They also included some of his girlfriend's voicemails to him as part of the audio. This really gives us an insight to their relationship, and what they are going through together. The raw emotion really gave the story an impact on the viewer.

Extended period of time- Since they were following their own lives, they were able to take as much time as they needed to tell the story. You can tell they at least followed the story for a year, since it went from the beginning of her pregnancy to the birth of their baby.

The power of silence- At the beginning especially and continuing throughout the piece, there are a lot of moments of silence and just fading to black. I think this adds to the emotional impact of the piece. The pauses and fades to black give the viewer a chance to think about what they just heard and almost put themselves in their shoes. Sometimes saying or showing nothing at all is the best way to make a statement.


Music- Although music can be a powerful storytelling tool, I thought it took away from the story in this case. If you are going to use music, I think it should be something that the viewer doesn't even notice. For this piece, the music was extremely noticeable and almost distracting at some parts. There were abrupt changes in the music that drastically switched the mood of the piece too suddenly. One part towards the end, they used the beat of the music to change the photos on the screen, which I thought was a good a use of music. It made the pictures have a role in moving the piece forward and telling the story.

Quality- A lot of the video portions weren't the best quality. The lighting could have been better, just to make it look more professional rather than something two 20-year-olds threw together for fun. A lot of the time the resources aren't available, but it would have added more to the piece.

Abrupt- Not only was the music very abrupt, but I thought the ending was extremely rushed. They did a great job of developing the story and really letting the viewer into their life. Then they just randomly threw in the birth of their child at the end of the story. If they were going to use the birth of their child as the ending, I would have liked to see something more in depth to really give the viewer a sense of completeness that the piece was over. I was left feeling like there should be another clip to keep watching, since the story wasn't fully summed up.

Overall, this was a great example of raw, emotional story telling, and I will definitely consider using some of their techniques in my own work.