Blog 10: Skills Development Plan

So far this semester we’ve explored audio, photo and video journalism. In the audio unit, learning the different interviewing techniques was informing. I’ve conducted interviews before, but doing an interview with an audio recording device made me really conscious of my technique. I usually give verbal feedback when asking questions, but I had to be conscious of that when I conducted my audio interviews. One of the difficult parts of audio was the editing part. Audition is fairly easy to use now that I have practiced with it but initially it was challenging.

The photo unit was a little more challenging. It was different to report using photos and not video or audio. I had to rely on my pictures more (and to a certain extent words) to tell the story. A challenge in this unit was underestimating how much more there is to photojournalism than simply taking and editing pictures.

We’ve just started the video unit and haven’t turned in any assignments yet. However, I can already tell that the video unit encompasses both audio and video components in it too. For example, when interviewing someone, I need to be mindful that the nat sounds don’t overpower the SOT. When the subject is on camera, I need to make sure I’m focused properly and the subject is framed well. While shooting b-roll, the rule of thirds is also an important component in video.

So far, I think my strongest unit has been audio. Going forward, I’d like to improve in my Adobe Audition skills so that I can edit the tracks confidently. I’d also like to improve my photo skills as well. So far that unit was my lowest grade yet.


Five Photo Project

Big Brothers Big Sisters hold nationwide fundraiser.

Each year, half a million people across America come together to raise money to support their local Big Brothers Big Sisters. On March 11, people of all ages gathered at AMF Town and Country Lanes to “Bowl For Kids’ Sake,” and support central Missouri’s Big Brothers Big Sisters.

DSC_2626Kristan Gannaway, central Missouri’s Big Brothers Big Sister’s resource development manager, checks in participants and explains the rules for the teams.

Bowl For Kids’ Sake is Big Brothers Big Sisters’ signature fundraiser.

DSC_2163More than 50 teams signed up for the bowling event. 

Teams of four bowlers register for the event. The bowlers are encouraged to raise as much money as they can to donate to the organization.

DSC_2710.JPGA young participant and his team celebrate his first bowl without a bowling ramp. 

During the event, participants receive an hour and 15 minutes of free bowling, free shoe rental and food and drinks, a Bowl for Kids’ Sake T-shirt and the chance to win raffle prizes.

file Heather Demitt-Fletcher explains the purpose of the event to a reporter.

Heather Demitt-Fletcher, executive director of the central Missouri chapter,  said raising money for the organization is a community effort. “The whole goal is for it to be a peer to peer fundraising campaign where the members of the team are out competing to see who can raise the most money,” Demitt-Fletcher said.

DSC_2901.JPGThe event ran from noon to 4 p.m. and was divided into two rounds, each round lasting two hours.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nonprofit organization aimed to help children facing adversity reach greater potential by partnering them with an older mentor or “big.” Donations from the event go towards providing ongoing support for children, families and volunteers to build and to sustain long-lasting relationships.






Blog #7: Interviewing

I chose Buzzfeed News’ interview with President Barack Obama for this assignment. This interview is newsworthy for obvious reasons. Obama was interviewed in February 2015 which makes this story dated but it was the only relevant story I could use for this assignment.

The interviewer, Ben Smith, starts off by bringing up Obama’s announcement of his campaign in 2007 in Springfield, Ill. The interviewer was specific down to the date (which happened to be the day of this interview) and the “generational call,” Obama mentioned in his speech 13 times. Smith ties his speech to the fact that two of the leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush (at the time of the interview), were of the previous generation.

Smith also mentions that Obama was elected with a coalition of young people and minorities and wondered if the next Democratic nominee would inherit the same coalition. Even though the interview happened before Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency (June 2015), Obama focused his answer on the many social issues facing the country in 2008, when he was elected, that would continue into the next presidency.

Other questions Smith asked Obama regarded the Affordable Care Act, Russian relations, and questions asked by Buzzfeed patrons. Each question was detailed and was concise with a purpose. A few questions did try to elicit Obama to answer in a specific manner, but he remained as diplomatic as ever.

Smith seemed to have done extensive research before the interview since almost every question had a specific event or incident mentioned. Smith seems like a very informed interviewer. Another commendable thing worth mentioning is that Smith kept the interview fast paced and moving yet evoked detailed answers from Obama.

Link to article


Blog #6: Photo Skills

This unit, while enlightening, has been more difficult than expected. I have used the same camera before and I have dabbled in photography before but not when the camera is set to manual. Learning to take pictures in manual was challenging. I am all for the trial and error method but during the Real Person photo assignment, I seemed to make more errors than make any real progress. I wasn’t too pleased with my results but I made it work.

Another obstacle I faced was the vagueness in the directions for the assignment. I just prefer more direction in assignments and there seemed to be none for this assignment. It was a bit of a challenge to get something meaningful out of people I met five minutes before interviewing them. It was a little uncomfortable to dig into people’s personal lives without crossing the line.

I also found it a challenge to handle the camera comfortably. I tried the variety of techniques shown to us during class but all of them felt awkward to me. I know that this is something that will take time to figure out, so I hope I’ll be able to figure it out soon.

It was also disappointing to have received a low grade on the Real Person photos because of my captions. I would have preferred the rubric to be more specific about what I did wrong but I received no feedback on it, even after I talked to my instructor about it. The feedback I received was vague and did not justify why I got only a 10/25 on the captions part.

Real Person Photos


Matt Carpenter, a senior in high school, prides himself on his memory. Carpenter remembers scores from every middle school and high school game he has been to. “I can remember every score from every game my eighth grade year,” Carpenter said.


Sarah Vaughn, an avid hunter, will participate in a rattlesnake roundup in Sweetwater, Texas, next week. The roundup aims to spread awareness about the lack of anti-venom in hospitals. Vaughn says she is nervous because she does not “do poisonous snakes.”

HP 4th.jpg

L.T. Bowens, the worship pastor at Christian Chapel Church, rehearses the worship set before the youth service. A veteran, Bowens said he realized his passion for music when he was serving in South Korea and was invited to join the choir. Bowens’ “To-Do Board,” consists of tasks like buying donuts for the worship team and scheduling doctor’s appointments for his four children.

Blog #4: Sourcing

For this assignment, I picked The Washington Post’s “Supreme Court considers a case of a shot fired in U.S. that killed a teenager in Mexico.” The story has more than five human and data sources which is why I have decided to highlight some of the many key sources.

The story is about a border patrol agent who fired a gun in El Paso, Texas and the bullet of the gun struck a 15-year-old boy in Juarez, Mexico, merely 60 feet away. The Supreme Court will be deciding on Tuesday whether the Constitution gives the victim, Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca’s parents the right to sue Mesa in American courts for killing their son.

The first source in the story, Judge Edith H Jones from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, wrote in a statement the question would “create a breathtaking expansion of federal court authority … and would have severely adverse consequences for the conduct of American foreign affairs.”

The second source in the story would be the lawyers of the victim’s parents. In their brief to the Supreme Court they write, that federal agents cannot kill innocent civilians in “a legal no-man’s land” without punishment.

Another source is mentioned in the lawyer’s brief. According to an Arizona Republic investigation, there have been more than 40 killings by border patrol agents. Additionally, there have been 10 cross-border shootings, with six deaths.

One data source in this story is the precedent case that supports the border patrol agent. In a 1990 case called United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, a four-member plurality of the court ruled the Constitution does not protect noncitizens from the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents beyond the border.

Another data source supports the plaintiffs. A 2008 case, Boumediene v. Bush, regarding the rights of those held at Guantanamo Bay, the court took what is called a “functional” approach to border issues. It said the totality of the circumstances, not just location, must be considered.

I think the reporter did a great job in incorporating data and human sources that tell both sides of the argument. He presented the case as an unbiased reporter should and let the reader make a decision based on good information. Like any good reporter, I believe that this reporter did some extensive research into this case and all previous cases that bore any similarity. Digging up precedent cases from the 90s is the kind of work a reporter committed to the story does. The sources he picked were chosen carefully so as to get both sides of the story. He picked sources that communicate why ignoring the case could be a problem and also why acknowledging the case could be problematic as well. Overall, I think this is story is unique in itself because it is not often you hear about a case like this one. At the same time, it is the selection of the sources that make this story even more compelling to a reader because of the well presented facts before them.

Audio Ethics

During an instance where if I was gathering natural sound for a story and I wasn’t recording when someone dropped a tip in the tip jar, I wouldn’t stage the sound. I would wait until the next customer came by and dropped a tip in the tip jar. In some cases, people might be hesitant to tip if they see someone hovering by the jar with an audio recorder. They would be afraid to approach in the event that they would disturb the recording. However, that is something that can be resolved with transparency and communication.

An audience is greatly affected by the way an audio journalist edits sound for stories. Adding sound and music that wasn’t part of the story has the power of setting the tone and can sometimes even change the meaning of a story.


The Radio Television Digital News Association’s (RTDNA) Code of Ethics says: “Professional electronic journalists should not manipulate images or sounds in any way that is misleading.” The Code also says journalists should not: “…present images or sounds that are reenacted without informing the public.”

If we add sounds that did not exist then we are modifying the story in a way that is deceiving to your audience. Unless you make it clear to your audience that you had to reconstruct the scene, it is not recommended to add a sound that was not originally recorded. If you wouldn’t stage a scene in print or video, then the same ethics goes for audio. To do so would be unethical and a misrepresentation.

As journalists we should hold ourselves to the same ethical standards we would have for any other form of communication. Reporting with sound is a technical challenge in itself, there is no need for it to also be an ethical challenge.