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While lounging at home after my first quarter of college (December 2008), I was first officially introduced to Twitter. My family was hanging out in the kitchen one night after dinner and my dad kept raving about Twitter. I had briefly heard the word mentioned a few times before but knew little of what it meant. “It’s the next big thing!” my dad claimed repeatedly. I asked him what it was and he explained that people could tweet where they were and what they were doing at any time to let their friends and followers know. I was genuinely confused; I told him that’s what Facebook status updates were for. How could a site like Facebook, but with fewer features be the next big thing? It sounded like a cheap copy to me.

My dad insisted that I make one, even though I told him there was no point since none of my friends had a Twitter account. Mostly just to spite him and show him how pointless the site was, I created a Twitter account. I wrote in my Twitter bio that my dad forced me to make an account because “it was the next big thing” and that I didn’t believe him. After that I pretty much just forgot about Twitter and my account stood inactive. Sure I heard more and more about Twitter as time went on, but I never had the urge to commit myself to the site.

Twitter Profile

Over a year later in my spring quarter of college, I found out I was required to sign up on Twitter and actively tweet for my digital journalism course. I had to laugh when I remembered the circumstances I made my account under, especially since I realized once again my dad was right (after all, he was the one who kept urging me to join Facebook). In April of 2010 I updated my profile and was ready to give Twitter a chance, this time for real.

First of all, I learned that Twitter was more than just a bunch of status updates. I quickly discovered how to link to stories, websites and photos, and to shorten the links to allow more character space on my tweets by using sites like bit.ly. I made different lists, such as fashion and class-related, to make browsing through my Twitter easier. There is a lot of language and styling specific to Twitter and I began to pick up on how to use the lingo. For instance, the at symbol and number symbol have different functions on Twitter than other places online and I discovered how to correctly use them. The “@” is used to directly link another Twitter account to a tweet and “#” (which I found out is called a hash tag) is used to tweet about a topic to others who are interested in or following the topic. #FF (Friday Follow) and RT (Re-Tweet) now actually mean something to me and I frequently utilize them in my tweets.

I believe Twitter is a wonderful tool for journalists and it will only become a more prominent and useful outlet in the future. Twitter has the ability to publicize a lot of information immediately, which is perfect for breaking news. The ability to link to other web content allows for more in depth journalism to continue on certain topics. Twitter can also highlight the most important or interesting aspects of stories to get more people interested in a topic. Freelance or independent journalists can really use Twitter to their advantage to get a large following and increase their popularity in the media world. Most major news organizations (for example: CNN, The New York Times, etc) have already jumped on the bandwagon and made a Twitter account. The way I see it, their addition of Twitter only has added benefits, such as increasing the organization’s following, both on Twitter and in the “real world”.

For citizens, Twitter can be used to get important, and not-so-important information from many sources in one place. I enjoy using Twitter to get information on more trivial things like finding out what my favorite celebrities and bands are up to, but then I also get a healthy dose of what’s going on in the word and stay updated on current events from prominent new sources. Since I am not an avid reader of news, Twitter makes it easier for me to keep an eye on world events. Whatever reason citizens are using Twitter will only continue to grow as more and more people begin to tweet.

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Check out my final video story for COM 466, “A Dancer’s Fall From Grace.” See how it evolved from the first cut!

My (first ever!) video story is about a former competitive dancer and UW student named McKenna. McKenna no longer dances competitively, but takes UW dance classes and has taken a new turn in her dance life. She choreographs hip-hop dance routines for fraternity philanthropy competitions, teaches them to girls in her sorority and then performs them. McKenna calls her experience “a dancer’s fall from grace” when in reality her path in the dance world has just taken a different turn.

Editing the first draft of my video story

As this is my first video story (ever!) my main goal was to learn how to use the iMovie software to download video footage, photos and audio. I wanted to be able to incorporate different types of shots, transitions, captions, sound, etc. I also wanted a video that came together as a story instead of just a collage or jumble of different shots. My biggest reporting challenge was that I was unable to attend any of McKenna’s dance classes, which I originally thought was going to be the main part of my story, but it ended up working out since my story took on a new angle.

I believe I definitely succeeded in my goals as I learned how to utilize all above-mentioned aspects of iMovie (uploading video, stills and audio, using titles and transitions, etc.). I even learned how to do other things on iMovie that I had not originally anticipated, such as changing the coloring and lighting in shots as well as cropping shots. I met my goal of telling cohesive story as well.

If I had a chance to redo this project I would probably have selected a different location for McKenna to dance in (as opposed to the formal living room in the first few shots) although I am not exactly sure where I would have put her. I would have taken more shots from different angles while interviewing her and chose a brighter interview location. Additionally, I would have made sure to take stills before and after taking video (just in case!).

For my video story I plan to interview the dancer McKenna Dean as a “day in the life of a dancer” type piece. I will hopefully be able to film at one of her dance classes if I can get permission from the instructor. Otherwise I will have her dance outside of her classroom or studio setting. I want to get extreme close up actions shots of her feet or other body parts while dancing, close up shots of her face during the interview, medium shots of her dancing and scene setting shots if I am able to attend her class, otherwise I will get a scene setting shot at where ever else I film her dancing.

*Addition in class:
Possible title idea- A day of dance
Possible lede- McKenna Dean isn’t motivated by UW credit, she’s motivated by her love for dance.

The five-shot rule (from this BBC video) as evaluated in the NBC New York video news story Times Square Attack: Firework Purchase Caught on Tape?

  1. An extreme close-up (detail) of action (movement)
    CHECK! There is a close up shot of hands typing on a computer and a hand on a computer mouse (to signify research).
  2. Close-up of the face of the person doing the action
    CHECK! There are close ups of individual people speaking at trials.
  3. Medium shot, face and action together
    CHECK! There are many of these shots, to name a specific example there is a shot of a man speaking in a room and then bowing to the floor in prayer.
  4. Over-the-shoulder view of the action (gives viewer the point of view of the person doing the action)
    ? I am not sure if there is this type of shot in the video, there might have been one or two but I feel that the film was being shot too far away behind the person’s shoulder to be considered this kind of shot.
  5. Another (different) angle
    CHECK! There are many different angle shots, such as a birds eye view shot of the suspect’s house.

Komo 4a CNN

The local site KOMO News, the national cable site CNN News and the national broadcast site ABC News all are relatively similar in their home page layout. They all feature their logo at the top of the page with a search bar along with a bar with tabs for different topics of news.

KOMO showcases a feature story with a photo while the top stories of the day are linked in a box next to the featured story. Currently, KOMO is featuring a local crime related story ($2 million bail set for 3 Craigslist murder suspects) and the majority of the 10 top stories of the day relate to crime, violence or auto accidents. There is also a “Where You Live” box to the right of the day’s top stories where viewers can choose their city and get the top stories related to their area.

CNN has two stories featured and a “Don’t Miss” section underneath with little thumbnails of stories with videos or pictures. Currently the featured stories relate to the economy (Dow soars 400 points for best day in 14 months) and an obituary (Remembering Lena Horne, 1917-2010). The news displayed on this site has a much more serious tone in comparison to other news sites.

ABC has one main story featured relating to a government investigation regarding a major U.S. corporation product (Gov’t Launches Investigation of Toyota Over Fatal Steering Rod Flaw). Above the featured story is a horizontal bar titled “Watch Video” that has thumbnail links to featured videos. The bar is on a loop of four pages with four stories, and the first page contains videos mainly related to entertainment news (stories about SNL and Mel Gibson are the first two videos on the loop). To the right of the feature story section there is a section titled “World News”  with top stories that have a more serious tone.

Of all three of these TV new sites, I find CNN to be my least favorite just because I am least interested in cold, hard news. Of course if I was looking for an article as a reliable source directly relating to news I would go to CNN, but not in my own spare news viewing time. In regards to KOMO and ABC news, I would go to KOMO while looking for local news but if I wanted to view news for entertainment or in my spare time I would be more likely to go to a national broadcast site like ABC news.

Three exemplary video news stories:

Times Square Attack: Fireworks Purchase Caught on Tape? was produced by NBC New York. The story utilizes many different sources of video and photos, such as video from surveillance cameras, footage from press releases, as well as generic footage of planes and close-up shots of computers. The video is narrated through a voice over while the clips from the press releases use the actual audio from the original film. There aren’t any crazy transition and the clips are relatively short and fast paced. I believe the video story looked and sounded professional. The video is two minutes long which is long enough to get the information across but not too long to lose the interest of the viewer.

Man killed, allegedly over cigarette was produced and broadcast by CNN News. I believe it is a very well executed video news story. Many sources were utilized, from interviews to pictures to shots of the surrounding area. The story possesses many of the traits previously mentioned from the first example video story of why it is exemplary (professionalism etc.).

UVA Lacrosse Player Charged with Murder was produced and broadcast by ABC News. I found it to be a more traditionally produced broadcast story that is an exemplary video news story. Even though the story was longer than the previous two I have listed, there is an interview at the end of the story with a police officer working on the case that helps viewers know the latest updates on the story and why so many pieces of information have to be kept from the media.

After our group meeting last Wednesday, it was discussed that Emma and I would work on a story about the day in the life of a volunteer (on site). She will take photos and I will record audio to create an audio visual story. We need to find a day to visit a current Seattle H4H site so we can get our photos and audio. We also need to contact someone beforehand to make sure we are allowed to photograph and record at the site.

Visit our project blog!

My interpretation of Red Square included three topics: Suzzallo Library, an abandoned box and plant life. My goal was to incorporate the traditional aspects of Red Square with more alternative aspects. I feel this was accomplished through my photos of Suzzallo for the more typical images and both the cardboard box and limited greenery opened up Red Square to new visual interpretations.

Suzzallo

Suzzallo Library

A reporting/photography challenge that I was not aware of until class is that bringing a friend to be in some of my photos could be considered unethical. I had not previously thought of this because I was thinking more in terms of a photographer shooting a model, as opposed to a photojournalist shooting news. I now realize the difference between the types of photography and why I probably should not have brought along a “model”. Although I know there are certain circumstances in journalism (such as features or profiles) where those types of news photos are more openly accepted.
I believe I did a successful job of meeting my above-mentioned  goals. I found topics that fit the categories of photos I was trying to display and took many different angles and shots of the subjects.

Box

Abandoned box in Red Square, photographed while laying down

Even though at times I felt silly, I took photos while I was physically laying down on Red Square to get different perspectives. I learned that sometimes, you just have to go for it and experiment with new things while taking photos. If I had the opportunity redo this assignment again, I would take more photos. Once I hit a roughly over 40 frames, I called it quits. Looking back I wish I would have taken more so I  would have more options to choose from.

My final audio story is about the University of Washington’s IMA intramural soccer team, “Snakes on a Field”. One of the team’s founders is the subject of the interview and she talks about the story behind the team and the team name. The dynamics of the team are also discussed. My goal was to use natural sound from the game in the story, although I had a major reporting challenge with this aspect of my story. Although I had just used the recorder to record my interview with Erica, a founder of the team, I forgot to make sure the sound was recording while I was on the sideline of the field at the soccer game. Big mistake!

Soccer

After recording minutes upon minutes of the sounds of the game, I came home only to find that the audio files were silent. Because games only are schedules for Tuesdays, there was no way I could get the sound in time for my Wednesday deadline. Unfortunately I just had to do without the sounds I anticipated using. Now I definitely realize how important it is to check that the recording is going smoothly on site (even when equipment just worked successfully beforehand), especially when it cannot be repeated. Evidently, if I could do this project again, I would check my recorder with headphones and using playback of a test sound bite before recording each necessary component.

Through this project I learned how to use many different editing tools on Audacity. I used the envelope tool and amplify tool as well as the fade out tool. I experimented with many tools that I did not end up using in my final project (for instance changing the pitch). I also learned how to send audio files over the internet through You Send It.

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