NPR Brings T-shirt Making Process to Life

NPR’s Planet Money Makes A T-shirt is a multimedia project worth being envious of. It not only includes elements of video and text, but also an abundance of graphics that truly bring the story to life. Who knew that a story about making a t-shirt could be so fascinating?

I particularly enjoy the video introductions that mark the beginning of each chapter. They add just the right touch of personality, while also being extremely informative. I feel that without visual elements such as these, not as many people would be interested in following the story. That’s the great thing about multimedia, it makes people want to follow the story from start to finish.

NPR also did a fantastic job of breaking this up into sections (or chapters). This allows people to skip around if they want to, or just to know what each part of the project will cover. Each section is short enough and has enough visual elements as to not be tedious to a reader, but it still gets the main point across. I found it especially interesting to read and watch the video about the process of making cotton into yarn. That’s always been something that I’ve been curious about, so being able to see it broken down in the way that it was by NPR was incredible.

I know for certain that my group’s final multimedia project will be nothing like this one. For one thing, NPR had a team of 10 reporters, had the opportunity to report on three different continents and had months to put together their project. We only have a couple of weeks, have a group of four people and are bound to Columbia. Even so, I plan to use this project as a model for what I would like our final project to be. The layout, the use of graphics and the way in which text is dispersed throughout the entire story are elements that I hope to introduce to my own project. I can only hope that it will be even half the quality that NPR’s t-shirt story is.

The Veggie Patch brings family values to Columbia Farmer’s Market

When Jim Thies and his daughters started The Veggie Patch in 1995, they weren’t expecting it to grow to as big of a project as it is today. Just over 21 years ago, The Veggie Patch was merely an FFA (Future Farmers of America) project for his daughters, and consisted of only a backyard garden with rentable plots for nearby neighbors. Today, the farm, which is still managed by the Thies family, has a total of seven acres just east of Boonville, Missouri. They sell their produce each week at the Columbia Farmer’s Market.

These photos were taken in one of the Columbia Farmer’s Market’s final weekends in their outdoor venue. At the event, there were many people doing their weekly shopping, bands playing cheerful music and many vendors selling merchandise.

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The Veggie Patch takes pride in their ability to stay open for business year-round. Produce such as lettuce and peppers are some of their most popular winter items.”It’s not so much growing, but rather keeping them alive,” The Veggie Patch owner Jim Thies said. “We just never quit growing.”

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Because The Veggie Patch is a family-run business, owner Jim Thies is heavily involved in its weekly activity at the Columbia Farmer’s Market. Here, Thies bags up a couple of peppers for a customer. He said he only sells the best because appearance is key.

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All members of the Thies family enjoy helping out on the farm. Here Jim Thies’ niece bags kale to make it easier for customers to find what they want. “No one’s here because they have to be here,” Thies said. “They want to be here.”

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The Columbia Farmer’s Market serves hundreds of people each week. The Veggie Patch is one of the favorite stops of many people who frequent the market. Guichao Hu and his mother (pictured above) come to The Veggie Patch often to get fresh produce.

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While The Veggie Patch honors agricultural education and helping out the community, the Columbia Farmer’s Market is one of their main sources of income. Here, a customer completes a transaction, handing over money to pay for the produce they just bought.

Self-Critique:
These photos turned out like nothing I would have expected going into the project. I originally had planned on continuing the work I was doing with Jefferson Farm and Garden, but with it being the beginning of the winter season, everything that they were doing on that farm had been discontinued until it began to warm up again.

I wanted to continue to capture something with a similar theme, so I decided to go out and get pictures of the Columbia Farmer’s Market. When I arrived at the site, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to photograph. There were so many options available. Almost immediately, however, I was drawn to a little booth labeled as The Veggie Patch. The people working there seemed friendly and there was there was an ultimately positive vibe around the place. I wanted to capture this friendly atmosphere in my photos.

In actually taking the photographs above, I had some difficulty finding variety in what I focused on. I felt rather intrusive taking photos of people as they were doing their weekly shopping, and with this being a new medium for me, everything seemed to be moving so fast. I also didn’t just want to take photos at random; they had to fit in a story. It took me a while to figure out what story I wanted to tell. I ended up settling with what keeps the business running and how the farm is family-run. If I were to go back and do this again, I would give myself more time to get to know the subject and truly capture their story. Perhaps I would have narrowed my topic even more.

Overall, I’m happy with how my photos turned out. The five photos that I chose to present on this blog use skills we talked about in class and are varied in subject. Nothing is repetitive and I feel that they do their part in telling the story that they were meant to tell.

 

“Real People” Assignment

 

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Allan Tart is a student at the University of Missouri doing research in applied mathematics. Originally from Estonia, he said studying in Missouri has been quite difficult due to his accent.

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Anthony Patterson is a sophomore studying English at the University of Missouri. He said he often comes to Peace Park to catch up on the homework and test preparation that he hadn’t gotten to the night before.

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Taylor Ysteboe is a junior at the University of Missouri studying Magazine writing. While waiting for the bus to take her back home, she said she enjoys everything that the journalism school at Mizzou is teaching her.

Self-Critique:
Taking these pictures for my Real People project was a lot more fun than I imagined it to be. I thought I would be nervous going out and taking portraits of random people, but I actually enjoyed the experience. I got the opportunity to meet and talk to three incredible people who were just out and about in Columbia enjoying their day. I also was able to become more comfortable with the camera and the different techniques we were taught concerning photography.

I was overall surprised by how simple it was to just go up and talk to people. Carrying a camera, I thought for sure that people would immediately turn away, not wanting to have their pictures taken. It took me by surprise how many people didn’t mind it. I ended up taking photos of more than my three subjects, but these shown above were my favorites.

One thing that I could work on and that I would change if I were to go and do this project again would be to venture out deeper into Columbia and get some subjects who aren’t students.While I didn’t know any of these people beforehand and they still made for excellent photos, it would be interesting to interact and take the photos of people who aren’t in the same age group as I am.

Eventually, somewhere in my future at Mizzou, I would like to go out and do this all over again, just to see how things have changed and to see my work improve as I learn more about journalism, communicating with people and different forms of media.

 

Seen/Unseen – A gallery by Mary Beth Meehan

Hearing from Mary Beth Meehan during her Seen/Unseen exhibit was an experience like no other. Not only were the individual portraits incredibly beautiful, but they told a story beyond what was there on the canvas. Meehan’s work shows the natural beauty of humanity, and photographing normal people in their everyday lives makes the pictures that much more interesting.

What I enjoyed more than anything about the exhibit was hearing the stories for each of the subjects Meehan focused on in her work. Not one of the people she photographed were simply just a project to her. She showed that she truly cared about them as a person, sometimes spending months getting to know them before actually taking pictures (as was the case with Annye). And even after photographing them, I could see that each of her subjects had really found a place in Meehan’s heart, and she had done the same in each of theirs. The bond she had with her subjects is something that I hope I can eventually be comfortable with as I continue in my journalistic career. After all, connections with the people we write about and cover are more important than anything.

Another of Meehan’s photos, and quite possibly my favorite of the gallery was Rhonda. This photo immediately caught my attention, hung in its corner spot in the gallery in Lee Hills Hall. Rhonda’s red hair stood out among the collection, but her facial expression is what really motivated me to read her story out of all the other photos there.

“No one struggles like she does,” Meehan quoted one of Rhonda’s sisters as saying. This photo says exactly this, but also shows much more. As Meehan described, Rhonda’s picture shows a mixture of happiness and sadness, and really gives a deeper look into Rhonda’s life.

Aside from the photo gallery itself, just getting the opportunity to hear from Meehan while sitting in the presence of all her work was incredible. She shared what each of the photos meant to her, as well as her favorites among the bunch. It truly brought each of the pictures to life.

If you wish to see more of Meehan’s work (it’s constantly being updated), visit her website here.

Audio Reflection

Going into this class, I knew that I wouldn’t find the different forms of multimedia as interesting as I do print journalism, but if I had to choose a favorite, it’d have to be audio. Audio is much like print, at least in the way you piece it all together. You have your source soundbites (known as quotes in the print/digital world) and narration (which is pretty much all the writing in between quotes). The thing that makes all the difference is the use of ambient and natural sound in audio pieces.

This, I think, is the one big thing that turns me away from a career in audio, other than the fact that I can’t stand the sound of my own voice in my projects (but hey, who doesn’t hate the sound of their own voice?). In recording all of the audio for my two projects, I had the most difficult time trying to find sounds to fill the role of ambient and nat sound. It’s a lot more challenging than you might originally think.

In print, you also don’t have to rely on equipment doing their part. Yes, there is the possibility of a computer not working correctly, or an interview not being recorded properly (or at all). However, a well-trained print journalist always has a backup plan. Plus, if something goes wrong with technology, the audience doesn’t see that in the final product. In audio (and video), that’s not the case.

In many of my zoom recordings, I had to cut out many vital pieces to the story just because I accidentally moved the microphone or laughed or made some other uncomfortable noise while I was doing an interview. In print, I wouldn’t have to worry about that. I could still use the material because the audience will never hear my recorded interview. Those are my notes. Unfortunately, audio doesn’t work that way.

I’m not saying that I will never find myself doing audio again. Who knows where my journalism career will take me. Maybe some day I’ll find a great job where I work with audio for a living, and I’ll be able to look back at this class, the class where I learned it all first.

 

Audio Postcard Reflection

My first audio assignment was an absolute mess. There is no way to put that lightly. Even though we did an extensive walk-through of the zoom recorder in class, I was still lost when I actually checked one out for myself. When I first rented the zoom, I was only paying attention to make sure everything worked, but didn’t take the time to check if the device was fully charged. My mistake… when I got out to my car, I realized that the battery was only a quarter full. Because the equipment lab had already closed, I had no choice but to continue on and hope that it didn’t die as I was getting audio for my project.

As I made my way through the many activities at the 10th South Farm Showcase, I kept worrying that my recorder was going to die before I got everything that I needed. I didn’t want to leave the zoom on, in fear that it would drain the battery more, but couldn’t exactly turn it off and on again because that process took forever. Instead, I hurried from source to source, getting as much audio as possible until 30 minutes later, the zoom recorder used the last of its battery life.

Because I was moving so quickly, I didn’t get the chance to take the time needed to get to know my sources. I feel like overall, I would have had better material to work with if I had had a full battery and had taken the time to really speak with each of my sources.

Despite the many difficulties of this project, I ended up with a lot of great audio that I was able to work with for my audio postcard. While the entire process of recording my sources and running out of battery really had me worried, it was a good experience. I will never again walk away from that equipment lab without first having checked that everything is charged and in good condition. I definitely learned my lesson.

A greater look at Heyoon

I must admit, when we were given the assignment to listen to a half-hour audio piece and write a blog post about it, I wasn’t in the least bit excited. I was prepared to either skip through it to just get a gist of what the story was about or to distract myself with other things while listening to it. I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I did.

The story of Heyoon, told by 99% Invisible’s Alex Goldman, is something I can easily consider a work of art. While I’m not certain it fits the definition of “hard-hitting” journalism, it paints a picture worthy of journalistic attention.

The audio pieces, consisting of narration, voice actors, various natural and ambient sounds and other sound bites, do an exceptional job of coming together to tell a really great story. Each part is layered together in a way I could only dream of doing with my skills in Adobe Audition. I mean, who would think that a story about architecture could be so fascinating?!

I think what really stands out about the Heyoon story is the use of vocal actors. This, combined with narration from Goldman makes it seem as if you’re really there witnessing everything. The different voices included in the piece keep it interesting, making sure that those who listen never know what to expect. The ambient and natural sounds are just the cherry on top. They make everything even better.

While I can’t yet say that I am able to decipher which noises fall into which category (this is particularly so with ambient and natural sounds), I’m looking forward to learning more as we step further into the audio part of this class. I don’t see myself ever doing audio as a part of my career, but I do find it quite interesting and am excited to continue with it for the remainder of this section!

KOMU Alpaca Video Critique

In trying to find a multi-media piece to focus on for this blog post, I came across a story posted to KOMU’s website about alpacas. It definitely wasn’t a story that you’d come across every day, so I figured it would be an interesting one to look into.

Let me just say, it was not at all what I was expecting. Included in the piece were a written story, a picture of a bunch of local alpacas and a brief 56 second video. On first glance, this story looked exactly as a typical multi-media feature story should. It had all of the right elements, and overall was laid out nicely on the page. Playing the video was what took me by surprise.

As the video was loading, I was expecting to see an average TV news style piece, complete with interviews, voice-overs and lots and lots of b-roll. However, I was soon caught off guard by the video’s pink captioning, light and rather bouncy music and goofy shots of alpacas smiling for the camera.

I can only imagine that it was the storyteller’s intention to format the video in this way, seeing as only for a story concerning alpacas would it be appropriate. Also, having read the story first before seeing the video, I wasn’t at all surprised by its content. It was nearly identical to what had been written below.

Overall, for what the story was originally intended to be, I thought the creator did a nice job in putting it all together. The b-roll included was goofy, but also fitting to the rest of the story being told, and the music used definitely kept the readers’ attention.

While not exactly how I would have put together this story had it been assigned to me, it was definitely entertaining and worth the watch.

Humans of Columbia

When we were assigned the Humans of Columbia project, I didn’t worry too much. It seemed fairly straight forward and simple. You shoot footage of three people with a brief interview from each and then splice it all together in a video. It was easy enough.

It wasn’t until I began filming earlier this week that I realized how difficult this project would turn out to be.

I decided a good place to go would be the mall, seeing as there were a lot of people walking around all of the time and many stores to choose from. Plus, I had rented the camera from the J-school for the night so I had all the time I needed to get appropriate interviews and b-roll.

But, from the moment I walked through the doors of the food court, I found it was nearly impossible to get anyone to talk to me. I was the weird girl carrying around a camera and a tripod in the mall. People stared, and then when I would ask to film them, would walk away or say that they were in a hurry.

I finally found my first subject at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, but it didn’t get much easier from there. It was difficult to be able to follow her around as she worked, but still get long enough shots that would be decent enough for my project. I ended up spending an hour and a half there for that one 30 second portion of my project. I got dozens of shots, but looking back over them now, I realize how terrible they turned out to be.

It was a challenge to be able to get the right angles as well. My camera could only go so close to the work that she was doing in the shop due to the counter that was separating us. I attempted to work around it, but I’m not sure how it will turn out in the editing process.

Even though my project didn’t turn out quite as I thought it would, I’m hoping that this learning experience will greatly improve my skills, as well as make me more comfortable with working the camera and camera equipment owned by the journalism school.

“Just a Dream” The Perfect Story

As a journalist, the concept of storytelling plays a major role in my life. It is my job as a reporter to give an honest and accurate account of daily activities, but to also make it interesting and pertinent to the audience. Not a lot of people out there can successfully do both, but those that can have some incredible work to show for it.

When I think of storytelling, Carrie Underwood’s “Just a Dream” is one of the first things to come to mind. While not an example of storytelling through journalism per se, the music video, and the song itself, does an excellent job of entertaining, while also showing the brutal truth to military marriages. It is and always has been one of my favorite videos to watch.

Beyond the words to the song, which are incredibly powerful on their own, the visual effects used in the video and the layout as a whole are a work of art. This is especially true near the end of the video. What stands out to me most is the transition from white to black. From happy to sad. From life to death. The change happens so effortlessly, and without even needing to hear the words of the song, the audience knows exactly what happened.

Carrie Underwood also tastefully adds dialogue to the video that isn’t a part of the original song. This addition, although perhaps not absolutely necessary to the plot, helps the audience a great deal in connecting with the characters. Being able to see how she interacts with her military husband makes the emotional reaction to the video so much stronger. If the audience was left alone to only see Carrie’s reaction to the life and death of her hero, it would be entirely one sided. Viewers wouldn’t care nearly as much.

All stories, as with journalism, need to be seen from all perspectives. Carrie Underwood’s music video for “Just a Dream” does an excellent job in showcasing these requirements.