Photo Shootout: Final Critique

By Abby Gibbs

Attention all non-photographers and photographers! Always, always, critique your photos. Or ask someone to look at your photos before you send them off into the Web.

At the final critique of the Photo Shoutout competition, I was surprised to see a lot of the same shots, i.e. tons of silhouettes and lots of backs. However, I was glad to see the number of angles my classmates were able to come up with for a 48-hour photo challenge that took place mostly in the rain.

Don’t get me wrong–– silhouettes can be cool as a storytelling aspect. The final photo I voted for (also the class favorite) was a silhouette. Whenever I look at the photo, I love how the stark contrast of the silhouette is distinct from the wooden pillars, which adds to the mood of the story. Also, the worker is doing something, i.e. picking up trash.

It is our job as photojournalists to capture the unexpected, telling the fullest story possible. The other night, I went on a walk to Indiana and captured passengers on a Halloween river cruise frantically waving and bursting with excitement. While the image itself is a little noisy and could be cropped closer, there is a sense of movement.

Night on the River

Dressed in Halloween costumes, passengers of the Belle of Louisville wave to the Big Four Bridge on the Ohio River on Friday, Oct. 27. The Belle of Louisville, a tourist steamboat operated by the state of Kentucky, is known for their annual Haunted Halloween Cruise. [Abby Gibbs].

One has to be careful with movement, however. Too much can detract from your subject and little-to-no movement can make an image static. I understand this makes people wary of capturing movement’s fickle nature. But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually pretty easy.

Here’s how you do it.

Capture faces.

Like Bradley Wilson, advisor of  The Wichitan, I love expression. From stoicism to joy, I find faces to be the most fascinating of any human feature. So why not show that? This is why I can’t understand why a photo where the subject is not facing forward bothers me. Why? It doesn’t tell me anything about the person’s story in the photo.

For reporters, the analogy is simple. In the words of Wilson, “if there’s stuff that doesn’t contribute to it, delete it.”

Much like the editing process for reporters, photos need to be acknowledged with the same degree of tenacity. When seeing an excess of space that doesn’t ‘contribute’ to the photo, crop it. When taking 20 photos of a person, double the number of shots you take and mix up your angles. When shooting, don’t be afraid to interact with your subject to get the entire story. And most of all, always look for the element of your subject that truly defines themselves from another person walking on the street.

It is in these moments, where we can thrive as multimedia journalists. Yay convergence!


International journalism even if you aren’t a foreign correspondent

By Abby Gibbs

In today’s session on international reporting, journalists Chris Kenning and Laura Ungar (both freelancers for the Courier-Journal) shared their personal experience of finding ways to report internationally without having a position in a foreign bureau.

According to Kenning, “We shouldn’t think we are constrained by not having that perfect job,” in reference to reporting as a foreign correspondent.

For both reporters, their initial career path did not start with studying journalism. However, their interest in international affairs ignited their passion for expanding global issues into their local communities. While some of their foreign reporting was achieved through travel, most of their reporting on international affairs had to be relatable to their audiences. Since both journalists worked for the Courier- Journal, their pitches for international stories mostly revolved around connecting local communities to international events.

In order to add a local angle to international stories, Kenning suggested three different angles for local news organizations.

  1. Take international stories and bring them home. This will allow your local audience to feel connected towards an international event. Although they may not think they are directly impacted by for example, the refugee crisis, localizing humanistic elements of refugees might urge them to feel a greater sense of connection to the world.
  2. Make a local connection. By formulating connections with various international communities or people within your community, stories can come to light that spread awareness about their unique situation as immigrants.
  3. Local groups responding to international disasters. As a reporter, this is a way to connect with people who are helping to rebuild communities around the world.  Even church groups or other organizations on service-trips is a great way to meet people and travel as well.

Ultimately, this session taught me the importance of not thinking international reporting is impossible. While there are definitely some barriers, there is always room for local news media outlets to develop international stories as well as far-away domestic stories,  without completely breaking the bank.

Journalists’ toolbox: new apps, tools that will change the way we work.

By: Jack Norcross

A last minute session was added to the conference discussing multimedia tools journalists can use for their website.

One of the best tools shown to us were from Knightlab, which is a variety of different programs run through Northwestern University.

  1. Juxtapose
    • Allows you to compare two images using a slider tool across a frame. Can embed in to a story.
  2. Soundcite
    • Allows you to select specific text and tag specific sound to a story in order to create a completely immersive experience.
  3. Story Map
    • Use maps to click through a story while embedding media in to a different pinpointed location.
  4. Timeline
    • Create an interactive timeline that can be embedded in to a story.

While the speaker offered other programs, these were four that are free and can easily be added to our stories to greatly improve them.

Bridging the divide: going from print-centric to digital-first.

By: Jack Norcross

Thus far, this could have been my favorite session. While we consider or strive to make ENN “digital-first,” this session proved how much more we could do in order to take that concept to the next level.

The session was presented by two advisors from Pepperdine University in California. They discussed the transition to digital-first that they went to at the beginning of 2016. While they emphasized there is no perfect way to make the transformation, they had some super creative ideas that we could implement at ENN.

  1. Use Google Docs to budget for stories
    • Allows for social, broadcast and print to be in one place.
    • Can easily assign stories with clear color coated messages.
    • Allows people to visually see deadlines and when they are going to be published.
  2. Social Media
    • Instagram should show off our best photos and have a self-contained post about what they are looking at. Also used for Breaking News
    • YouTube – Don’t push people here just try and use it to house all of your video.
  3. Weekly Newsletter
    • This is one of the best things I learned. Each Monday morning they send out a newsletter to students liking them to their top stories of the week. They said they have an open rate as high as 70 percent, but it mostly hovers around 50%.
    • Features top stories, beyond the bubble, what’s coming up and advertising.
    • They also charge cheap ads that mostly come from on-campus organization.
  4. Analytics
    • They focused on the important of analytics and how reporters and editors need to see how articles are performing in order to encourage them to do more work.

Finally I’ll end with their motto which I strongly agree with. #audiencefirst #storyfirst #digitalfirst

Passport Required: Travel the world telling powerful stories

Session 10 – By Anton L. Delgado

This was an interesting session hosted by Steve Rhodes, a photo journalist at WTHR, he discussed his experiences in covering meaningful stories all around the world.

As a reporter, Rhodes says one of the most important things to remember is that the people in your stories are the star. At WTHR, Rhodes is sent around the world to Olympic host countries to cover stories that will tell that give context to the areas where the games will be hosted.

A lot of the stories Rhode’s showed his captivated audience were great profile pieces on fascinating individuals. They were all generally light hearted stories such as “Buckingham palaces unofficial town crier,” and “The singing cabbie gives more than just a lift.”

What Rhodes was trying to show his audience was the importance of choosing the right subject and really getting to know them. He also stressed the importance of the leg work that needs to be done before a trip. Rhodes said to never just turn up to a new country and hope for a story, a lot of research needs to be done if you want to succeed.

One of the quotes that has helped Rhodes produce such great content is “You may not remember what you are told in facts, but you will remember what you feel.” By keeping this quote in mind, Rhodes has been able to evoke emotions with audiences all over the world.

In terms of the technical skills of storytelling, Rhodes advised the aspiring story tellers in the room not to get stuck in the structures.

“There is a time and a place for structures like the inverted pyramid, but for stories like this I don’t use it,” Rhodes said. “I like to draw people in and take them on a journey.”

To Rhodes, it is all about storytelling, meeting people and translating their personal experiences.

Dazzle Your Digital Resume

By Samantha Casamento

Since we are always wondering how to improve our resume’s and e-portfolio’s for future internships and jobs, I decided to attend a session solely focused on building the best resume possible.

Honestly, it was nothing we didn’t learn in COM 220, so it wasn’t too helpful, but I still took notes and wrote down all of the advice given to us.

Why you need an online portfolio:

  • Your resume is boring.
  • You need to be findable.
  • You can showcase all of your great clips.
  • You can show your personality.
  • It will help you land a job.

To start:

  • Go with a .com domain

What to put on website:

  • Headshot
  • Best clips with descriptions
  • Resume with downloadable version
    • Needs to be pdf
    • Get year you are going to graduate off of your resume
    • One page
    • Scrap the objective
    • Name needs to be biggest font
    • Website needs to be on it
  • Multimedia materials (video/radio)
  • Photos
  • Social media
  • A blog
  • Contact info
  • Biography
  • Awards and references

Like I said, this is really nothing we haven’t learned in Creating Multimedia Content.

ENN Website Critique

By Samantha Casamento

We had the opportunity to have Elon News Network‘s website critiqued by Bradley Wilson,  professor at Midwestern State University. He provided helpful insight on how to increase views on the site.

Overall, he really enjoyed how many different stories and events we cover. He did say, however, that the top photo on the website, really matters.

The whole time, he kept stressing the importance of visuals, like photos, and told us they need to be the focus. He recommends adding galleries to articles and then referring back to the website on social saying, “Check out more photos on our website.”

For opinion pieces, he recommended that we include a headshot of the staff-member who wrote it, just to be even more clear that it is an opinion piece and does not reflect the views of the whole organization.

He thought our website layout looked pretty nice, but recommends that we have a social media feed in the side bar and embed some tweets in our articles.

There were a few minor things Wilson noticed in terms of our writing. He suggests we do not use “Elon” in our headlines. He thinks people know that we are referring to Elon. I personally am not sure how I feel about that one, but it is something we should definitely consider.

Wilson gave us advice focused around building our audience and gaining more clicks on the website. I am sure we will be a able to utilize most of his advice for the website.