These past two weeks have been busy ones. I spent April 12-14 at the National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco, which was as hectic, invigorating and inspirational as always. A quick trip home and a few days of teaching later, and I was back to the city again, this time for a two-day qualitative study of Tracy Sena's wonderful journalism program at Convent of the Sacred Heart. In the middle of that, my yearbook students finalized and submitted their book, my Oracle students covered another school walkout, I started giving feedback on a pile of essays, my junior English students began The Great Gatsby and an out-of-town guest arrived to stay a few days.
Given my preoccupation, I was not putting my full effort into my Teaching Multimedia class. We'd spent two weeks researching good video techniques and storytelling, and — in theory — I made a careful plan about what video I wanted to shoot and gone out and got that footage. In reality, I was scrambling yesterday to find a story in my community that I could shoot and edit in one day.
That story idea came in the form of the California Poppy Festival, which happens yearly in Lancaster about an hour north of my home in Los Angeles.
"Perfect!" I thought. "I'll bring my out-of-town friend with me to see those beautiful poppies, and she can keep me company as I do this video assignment."
Reader, that is not how it went down.
Keywords: multimedia, infographics, timeline, poll, maps, interactive
One of the benefits of online newspapers is the potential for interactive infographics. My students have used infographic generators like Piktochart, Easel.ly andCanva, but we haven't experimented as much with other tools. This week, I tried out three new-to-me tools to see how they might work alongside those we already have: customizedGoogle maps, Polldaddy polls and surveys and Tiki-Toki timelines.
Key Words: podcast, podcasting, radio interviews, scholastic press freedom, private schools
My podcasting learning goal for the week was to complete and edit an interview, and this dovetailed nicely with the news that my school had won the First Amendment Press Freedom Award for the third year in a row.
I chose to interview Gretchen Warner, Archer's upper school director and one of my supervisors, because I think it is crucial for private school advisers and administrators to hear why a school leader would choose to relinquish control of student media. Warner spoke thoughtfully in this interview about the factors she feels are most important for a successful journalism program and why she supports the program.
I think it's important to add a disclaimer however: we completed this interview the day before a very contentious letter to the editor was published in the students' online newspaper that contained accusations against the administration that were grounded in perception rather than fact. To their credit, the administration stands behind their commitment to student-controlled media and did not censor this letter, but it has caused a lot of tension. It has also prompted significant reflection on the part of the board about their letters policy and whether they need to revisit their process. The editorial board will be meeting with the administrative team to discuss the situation this coming week — not to face any kind of disciplinary action, but to engage in thoughtful dialogue about their process and the impact the letter had.
Had this been a normal journalistic situation, I would not have published this interview without allowing Warner to comment on how this situation had impacted her feelings about the questions I asked. Since that wasn't an option this time, I plan to complete a follow-up interview with her in the future.
I've been an NPR listener since I was a child, so I have long loved audio storytelling, and I love that podcasts have revitalized audio and brought it to a larger audience. I am a voracious podcast-listener — one of the few benefits of a long commute — and I'm eager to bring this option to my journalism students.
As part of my quest to become a better multimedia journalism adviser, my focus this week was on learning basic podcasting skills. After reviewing a number of excellent sites about the nature of audio, it was time to craft my own short podcast episode. I decided to use this opportunity to create a short episode about California's little-known Leonard Law, a unique state statute that protects the state's private high school and post-secondary students' freedom of speech.
Key Words: camera operations, photography, photojournalism
Dear Journalism Students,
I have a confession. Until the past two weeks, I really didn't know how to use a camera. I mean, sure, I knew how to point and click and use those handy automated settings — I even knew, in theory how to use the more sophisticated automated settings of aperture and shutter priority. But full manual mode? Let's just say that I've been faking it until I make it.
“And though she be but little, she is fierce!” -A Midsummer Night’s Dream