This class was my first Journalism class and it definitely pushed me outside my comfort zone in a number of different ways. Arranging interviews, having to capture video live, knowing where to find information are all things that I was somewhat unfamiliar with before taking this class. Posting consistently on multiple different social media sites, although not too difficult, was something that I had to work to make a habit of. It forced me to engage with a topic like I never had before, checking for new updates and building relationships with people who had resources for me. Although it was tough to adjust to these new modes of thinking and learning, I think the hardest thing about following my beat was my non-focused nature of my beat.
While I’m glad I chose to follow Eugene fashion designers, the topic posed some interesting problems. My goal was to provide an overall sense of how designers living in a “non-fashion” hub, such as Eugene, work on a daily basis, make a living and engage in a small design community. It was a challenging goal to achieve, because my source of information was interviews with individual designers, and each designer provides a different story. This made it hard to feel like I was being very informative on my topic and going in-depth, since each story was so different and new. I attempted to remedy this conundrum by asking designers about their experience in Eugene Fashion Week. For my audio slideshow, I was able to talk to designer, Jessica Stallings right as she was getting ready for Eugene Fashion Week, an interview that provided a lot of insight about the Eugene fashion community.
Creating an ongoing story was still difficult though, since I didn’t have a site to go explore. I got lucky in that Eugene Fashion Week lined up almost perfectly with the video assignment:
Aside from the coverage of Eugene Fashion Week, however, I relied solely on individual interviews for all my media coverage. I knew I needed something visually interesting, so the angle I chose was providing a view into the studio spaces of local designers. This was challenging since most local designers work from home and didn’t want me coming in to take video footage. However when designers such as Sierah Edwards, or Kendra Brock did let me in to the studios, I think the stories turned out pretty well.
The technical aspect of this class was not completely unfamiliar, but I still ran into problems at times which taught me a lot. I don’t have a lot of experience with recording sound and that was made blatantly apparent to me constantly throughout the term. I also just started using the new version of Final Cut Pro, which took some getting used to. Every project seemed to elicit a new challenge. Rather than describing every little problem I ran into, I’ll just say one of the main things I’ll take away from learning Journalism technical skills is the importance of being prepared. For example, for my video of Eugene Fashion Week I was stuck in a seat too close to the runway and with models walking quickly towards my camera, it was having a hard time re-focusing quick enough. Later when I was editing my video, I wished I had gone to the location ahead of time to make a game plan for where I would sit, what my camera settings would be, etc. so that I wasn’t fumbling when it came to the actual show. This instance, among others, taught me that journalism happens quickly and one of the best things you can do is to check equipment before heading to a location and make a game plan for how the logistics will play out.
Finally, I learned about transparency for journalists sharing information in a highly mediated world. I had never thought before about the journalistic process too in depth because I have in the past only been a consumer of journalism. This class taught me that writing about the making of the story can be almost as interesting as the story itself. It allows your readership to experience the story in a new way because knowing how the story was made brings the reader closer to the scene. It also brings the journalist closer to his/her readership by letting them in on the behind-the-scenes work. Overall, I learned that the many different platforms for distributing information could cause stories to become less personal. It seems the trick to journalism today is to gain a relationship with your readership by sharing the stories as personal experiences and not merely sharing them from a distant perspective.