Yesterday was “Dead Day” for my college. It’s the magical day in which students can get a break for one day before their finals start. For many people that meant sleeping in and studying. For me that meant all of that plus my favorite pastime of performing a one woman show.
Until the fateful day when some soul decides that they love media things as much as I do, I’m at times a one woman media show. While I’m in need a of practice when it comes to my writing, I get plenty of practice for pictures. Just yesterday I had to take group pictures for the music program, talk to students about the online newspaper, photography and video a sexual assault awareness rally, and speak with a friend about the importance of social media presence and branding. On top of all this I needed to get ready for finals that I have today.
Don’t get me wrong, I love ever moment of this. I know there will come a day not too far down the road when I need all the skills I’m learning now. But there are moments when it can get interesting. Like when I needed to record video and take pictures, or take pictures of a group of students and talk to students, or needed to google how to make a cosmo effect when the internet is down. for all of these instances I just thought about the task, talked to some people and pushed ahead.
Since I learned how to use computers and communicate with them I have always delighted in taking part in the electronic community. Now don’t worry, i’m pretty OK, IRL (in real life). I’m actually much the same in the real world as I am online. I have lots of friends with varied interests. We all come from different backgrounds. We each “Nerd Out” over different things and in a few cases we call different continents home.
I’ve always been told that no matter where I go I can make some sort of home out of it. I really like that about people in our generation. While we do have roots somewhere we are willing to walk outside that rooted area to take a look around and talk to some people who see the world just a little differently. One of my favorite stories to tell about online community (and yes there is a journalism connection) has to do with my last summer. Last summer was the Olympics in London. I’m very lucky to have awesome friends who are currently attending university” over the pond. So when there would be an event that might be black out over here there would send me streaming links so I could watch it with them. We would tweet the whole event through practicing interview questions and I actually got a question answered by an official Staff person. My friends and I cheered and giggled over google hangout as we recanted the events.
I love how in this day in age things like time and distance do little to stop news from reaching all the corners of the world. When hurricanes where coming through a few months ago, friends from different countries would email, tweet, and message concerned with my location before I knew there was a problem. There are flaws in this. I’m sure many people have already started writing books on the peril of insta-journalism. However, there are moments of hope of this global community and I think they are important to remember,
I want to have an honest moment. My gut tells me that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. I was recently published in a pretty legit publication. Like this should be one of my proudest accomplishments to date. I worked for a month on this story. I’m pretty sure I earned some gray hairs for this article. I used every tool in my belt. I couldn’t wait to see my hard work (picture included) in this feature. When I got the proof however I was heartbroken.
The story that I wrote didn’t resemble the story that was published. I compared the two and while it was clearly the article I wrote, it had clearly gotten chopped up and sewn back together.
There is at length an amount of humble pie that a journalist must ingest into order to stay in the field. I’m no fool. I do not think that I (at 22 years of age) am in any way shape or form so epically amazing at writing that my work doesn’t need editing (I’m pretty sure as you read this and see errors and cringe you get my point).
When it comes to taking a critique I have a little bit of experience from some design classes I’ve taken at my college. I really feel like having to participate in critiques while in these classes will aid me in the future. The first one I ever had to go through my professor looked us all in the eyes and said “Leave your ego at the door”. The first one was the toughest. I considered myself an honest person, but who really wants to hear the nit picky problems about their work? People who one day want to be professionals, that’s who. From then on I gave my all and some people gave it right back to me.
So while I am person that can take a criticism (unless you are this one friend of mine, then no, I don’t want to hear your opinion) i just couldn’t understand this. While the publisher and editor have no need to tell some lowly undergrad student why they did what they did I feel like I can’t learn from my errors when I don’t know what I did wrong. So while friends and family alike were cheering for me, I sat in bewilderment wondering if this means that I will never be taken seriously as a journalist because of this.
I welcome any advice on this matter. Part of me feels like this is simply the screening process of the field. Other times I wonder if this is my smoke alarm trying to warn me of the impending fire.
There are times when I’m certain that if professionals in the field read this blog they would laugh at my idealism. I know that some of the questions are the same ones that plague everyone. I have another one for you all. How does an online news “source” like the online newspaper I’m currently in charge of get the participation from students? I’ve lead the horse to water, in the way that I’ve created social networking places that link back to the website. I’ve tried to strike up some convos, I’m done everything i know to do other than to go up to people and guilt them. While I recognize that I’m not doing such a hot job of keeping up with everything, I’m very aware that I am just one person, and I’m mainly here to get an education.
In spite of the time thing, I’m to be honest a little bummed that I can’t seem to get people to comment on stories that we are posting or that I can’t get people to interact with us on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t laugh or judge but there are times when i would like to place my hand on my hip and fuss like a mother. I know how important it is for people to know what is going on around them, but they don’t seem to get it.
Just a little while ago my professor was in the room and asked the students and I if we had heard about Boston. Most of them looked at him clueless. One asked what he was talking about and I filled them in. I was traveling when everything was breaking news but within the first two minutes of being around my ipad I was fully aware of the tragedy.
I’m fairly certain the same people in this room couldn’t tell you what is going before the supreme court at this moment, or where we are at with that oh so wonderful gun control issue. I’m 99.99% certain that if I said Alabama Accountability Act, they wouldn’t have any clue about what that means for the future education of their children and this FRUSTRATES ME!
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any less of my classmates. They are currently working around me getting things done. But these things will affect them when they leave the “bubble” that surrounds or campus. some of it will even affect them here on campus.
My point in news is important. I’m just looking for a creative way of getting the horse to understand that the thing in front of them will nourish their minds in a way that is beneficial to them continuing on in life.
“The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth.”
― Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books
Today went I checked my email I found an email from a professor. It was about a student from a major University near where I attend school. She was a freshman who fabricated people in over 32 articles through her first two semesters. She was discovered through routine fact checking.
What she would do is quote students that didn’t exist when it came time to get people’s opinions of issues that she would write about.
While I am a huge fan of social media, but it has it’s weakness. I’ve read many times that the modern age in journalism has decreased the time in which a story can “rest” or “grow” before it must be published. This has decreased the accuracy factor. I question often which consumers of news really want accuracy or fastness? The sad answer in this oh wonderful day in age is both.
Out of habit I tend to not take breaking news so seriously. Mainly because I know how out of proportion it tends to be. People panic and write their fears, then later are criticized for that same fear by journalists who had more time to put into the story.
When talking to some friends about the situation, they spoke of how maybe she just felt pressured by the strict deadlines that the publication demanded. While they weren’t excusing her actions they were hitting on a few points. The first is the matter of timely over truth.
The second is just the matter of ease. How hard is it in this day in age to make up a person? I saw an infographic just the other day on how researchers found that Mitt Romney had an increase of twitter followers in such a high amount that when they did some checking they found that most of the people that followed him during a certain period of time (that was not around some high pressed event or speech) they weren’t real people.
The truth of the matter is that we as journalism students and journalist have to take our jobs seriously. I’ve heard many a tale of reporters gone bad. I feel like it takes more time to cover your lies than it does to just tell the truth.