A Master Class Review

On Monday, Oct. 26, we got the opportunity to hear from Rea Hederman, a publisher for the New York Review of Books. It was incredible to not only hear about his experiences, but also how he impacted the world of Journalism. In his master class presentation, Hederman talked about how he transformed his newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, which was originally quite racist and unprofessional, to one that was both scholarly and journalistically sound.

This hit close to home because during my time as editor of my high school newspaper, I had to fight to do the same. Before I joined the newspaper staff, the paper was entirely unprofessional, both in appearance and in content. I worked my hardest to get it to where it is now. Although it may not be award winning, like Hederman’s was, I’m still proud of everything I was able to accomplish.

The presentation itself was not what I expected. I went into the master class thinking that we were going to be hearing an hour long speech from Hederman, but instead, it was formatted as a question and answer forum. A set of questions was asked, and Hederman got the chance to answer. While I did appreciate this style, I feel like I would have enjoyed just listening to his story a bit more.

Looking back on the presentation, I can’t remember anything in particular that I didn’t agree with. The way he transformed his newspaper is remarkable, and I look up to him as a journalism role model.

I really did enjoy attending this class. While I do love our weekly FIG classes, this was a nice change. I feel like I learned quite a bit, and hearing from someone so outstanding in the field is always an incredible experience.

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Exploring Newsy

During our last FIG class, we got the opportunity to tour the Newsy workplace. For those who are unaware of what Newsy is, it’s a media outlet that goes beyond the typical story to highlight new perspectives. And lucky for us, it’s based right here in Columbia!

On our tour, we got the chance to see the laid-back studio and office space that they work in every day, as well as the neat technology that they use to produce their stories. It was a really great experience and provided us with a glimpse of what our futures might look like if we continue to pursue convergence journalism.

When it comes to convergence reporting, Newsy is pretty much the expert. They deal with multimedia pieces on a day-to-day basis. It was an excellent example of what we are learning in class each week.

Journalism Interest Area

From the day that I first began my journalism career, I knew that I wanted to follow a path that involved investigative reporting. For me, the most interesting stories have always been those that dig a little deeper and go above and beyond expectations. That’s real journalism in my book. As silly as it is, I’m fairly sure my passion for investigative reporting and seeking out the truth has its roots in the superhero movies I used to watch as a kid. Something about seeing Clark Kent or Peter Parker uncovering the dark secrets of their towns was appealing to me.
While I won’t be following the same path as these superheroes, I do hope to do my part in bringing justice to my community. I would eventually like to work freelance for the military, working on investigative pieces as I travel with them. Because of my future career path, investigative journalism is a perfect fit. I also plan to double minor in psychology and criminal justice/criminology, which I feel will further develop my investigative skills and my understanding of how the human brain functions.

Although my heart is set on pursuing investigative journalism, my backup interest area is science and health. I am already a part of the science and health student journalist group on campus, and could potentially see myself working with psychology or environmental research.

News with a Convergence Twist

When looking through the news articles featured on the Missourian website, this particular story caught my attention. It was the update for a double homicide case in the local area. Reading through it, I was rather disappointed by the overall setup, but I guess it’s understandable considering the lack of information they were provided. To me, it just seems to be missing some essential facts.

To begin with, the picture included with the article is not the best quality, nor does it actually show what’s going on in the story. If I were creating a convergence package for this piece, I would most likely try to capture a couple pictures of the actual scene (police tape, police action, or perhaps even the abandoned trailer park). But instead, they focus on the fact that the road is closed off, which is only a minor part of the article.

Because the story is so short, and requires just about all the information that they did include, I’m not sure that I would necessarily cut anything out. However, I would elaborate on the interviews done with the neighbors. The article says that nothing like this had ever happened before, that “the rural area is typically a quiet neighborhood.” While this is a great addition to the story, it just kind of cuts off. I would look further into the neighborhood’s crime history and put together some sort of news graphic (perhaps a timeline) showing other illegal activities that took place there over the years.

If I were covering this story from a convergence perspective, I would try to focus more on the statistical elements of the piece, rather than just giving a general overview. I would do more in depth research on the surrounding neighborhoods and crime in the area.

Downtown Discovery – Yellow Dog Bookshop
Question: Who painted the mural in the kids’ section?
Answer: The mural was painted by local artist Jessie Starbuck.

The bookstore, which primarily sells used books, is a popular hub for young book enthusiasts. The owners, Joe Chevalier & Kelsey Hammond named the store after their yellow lab.
“That was the inspiration, their own dog Scout,” bookseller DJ Jordan said.

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If we were to include a news graphic for our story, it would most likely be a pie chart of the most popular books by genre sold at the store.Each section would represent a percentage of books sold in each genre. It would be interesting to compare the sales made here, on a college campus, to those made at a commercial bookstore such as Barnes&Noble.

Fox News Interview Gone Wrong

When it comes to terrible interviews, Lauren Green’s is the absolute worst. In her show on Fox News, she speaks with author and scholar Reza Aslan about his new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only does she insult him based on his personal beliefs, but she also shows her lack of research by not knowing the content of the book and not being aware of what his profession entails. If this isn’t bad enough, she continues to ask the same questions, in turn receiving the EXACT SAME response. She relies too heavily on a pre-written script, rather than actually listening to what the interviewee has to say. Any decent journalist should know that listening is the most important skill when it comes to interviewing. If she had just taken the time to absorb the information that he was providing for her, instead of interrupting with her own ridiculous questions, she could have easily turned the interview around for the better. It’s journalists such as her that give the profession a bad name.

Reliance on the ‘single story’

In psychology, when someone approaches a problem with only one solution in mind, or they can only think of using an object in it’s traditional ways, it is referred to as functional fixedness. All across the world, people fall victim to this bias, refusing to acknowledge all the other possibilities. In many ways, stereotypes are formed on the same premise. People judge others based on their race, gender, intellectual abilities, etc. and group them together based on how they fit into these categories. They let the stereotypes previously laid out by society define how they are going to interact with others, and don’t give them the chance to show that they are indeed their own being and not befitting of each and every stereotype.

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Photo courtesy of etsurhetoric.blogspot.com/

Although I myself have not been harmed immensely by the discrimination caused by stereotyping, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words still ring true. People do tend to hear one thing about a group of people, and then forever associate them with this attribute. We have all at some point in our lives made a judgement based on a single story.

One example that comes to mind, when I think of being the victim of a stereotype or a single story, is one directly related to my journalism career. During my junior high years, I attended a school that was infamous for drugs, gangs, and just an overall bad quality education. It was right next door to a juvie, and just so happened to be the only middle school in my district. After my time at this school, I moved on to a high school that was in a better area, and had another ‘feeder school’ that was a lot more protected in terms of violence and crime. I immediately joined the newspaper at this new school, and the teacher was astonished by my writing abilities. She had assumed that because I went to a school with such a bad reputation, that I wouldn’t be intelligent enough to write an article to be published in the newspaper. Because of that, I had to work harder than anyone in the class to make my way to the top.

Avoiding these stereotypes is important in every day life, but especially so when it comes to journalism. As journalists, it is our job to write or speak the truth, no matter our personal beliefs. Although it’d be much simpler to draw conclusions based on the single story, we must learn to gather information from all sides of the story, not just the one that most matches our own views. In order to guarantee that our work remains unbiased, we should approach every story with an open mind, investigate from all angles, and have someone who many have a different opinion than your own review the article.

Stereotypes are a difficult thing to overcome once they’ve laid their roots, but we are much better off living in a world without them.

“The technology of storytelling”

We are lucky enough to live in a world that is on a continuous path of innovation. Each and every day, new discoveries are made, technologies are expanded, and the brightest of our society create improved methods of enjoying and thriving within it. And that is the message that TED Talk storyteller Joe Sabia is trying to convey in his video, “The technology of storytelling.”

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Photo courtesy of bestinteractiveebooks.com

“As much as it may seem that we have reached the peak of our technological advancement, that is far from the truth. While the latest technologies may seem impressive now, it won’t be long before we grow tired of their seemingly repetitive features. The human race is one in constant need of entertainment, and as a result, our technology must grow with it. We have developed new and creative ways to keep our past alive in our future, reinventing materials we have already grown accustomed to in a way that appeals to our never-ending curiosity.

Storytelling is no different, and the art of expressing one’s thoughts, whether through speech or writing, has seen tremendous change throughout the centuries. Sabia uses his highly innovative presentation to prove the point that although the times are changing and we are moving rapidly in a forward direction, the general concept is still the same. Sabia, like many others following along the convergence path, has found a way to share his story in a way that appeals to today’s audience. With the use of multimedia, he was able to get his point across in an entertaining way, using only an iPad. Despite this presentation being entertaining in nature, it still carried all the same elements as a typical print story would, therefore proving to be efficient in its storytelling ways and not at all distracting. 

Like Sabia, we must learn to adapt in our ways. The world is forever changing, and if we don’t change with it, we risk being left in the dust.