Digital News Gathered

I want to start by saying that Jour 226 is exactly what I’d hope it would be.  All I keep hearing as I progress deeper into the world of journalism is that multimedia skills are the prerequisite of the future.  Journalism needs to find a way to transition into the digital age.  If it fails to do so, the fourth estate may become as broken and ineffective as the other three estates.  The task of making this move and saving journalism as we know it falls upon my generation.  We are the rare group that will understand both traditional reporting techniques (objectivity, sourcing, investigative skills) and the technology to bring those techniques into the online world.

Jour 226 was a great crash course in the basic skills I need to become an effective modern journalist.  I’m really impressed with the number of skills I’ve learned in just 15 or so class sessions.  I came into the class wanting to know the simple skills needed for subsisting online with some sort of sophistication and I feel like I got that.  Thanks to Jour 226 I can now do basic html, make slideshows, edit video, create infographics, find legally usable materials and integrate all those materials into posts.  Most of the time, I was surprised at how simple all of these skills were to learn, at least on a basic level.  I had so many, “Oh, that’s how you do that.  I fell stupid for never using that before,” moments throughout the course of the class.

As a guide through the class, Staci was a great asset.  It’s rare to find someone with her level of technological mastery who even has the tiniest bit of social skills, let alone be as approachable and friendly as Staci.  She also allowed for a collegial atmosphere in the classroom that made the work, which could at times be tedious and frustrating, a little more bearable.  Staci also created an atmosphere that rewarded creativity.  It is rare in my studies that I find a venue for my snarky humor and off-the-wall writing style and even rarer to find a professor who tolerates it let alone enjoys it.  I relish any opportunity to write in my favored voice (especially since it is the voice I’d like to use professionally) and Staci provided a welcome outlet for that.  This may come off as a touch sycophantic, but this class could have been an absolute nightmare if not for the comfortable environment Staci created.

Though I feel that my experience in the class was an absolute net gain, I think there are a few tweaks that could improve the experience.  First, I think that more of the focus could be shifted toward the technology rather than the reporting aspect.  The major hurdles I faced in the class didn’t come from difficulty with the digital skills that are the basis of the class, but in the gathering of the media I needed to test those skills.  At times, the reporting aspect took up so much time that it limited the time I had to work with the technology.  Some of my work suffered because of this and I feel like it may have stunted the skills I got from the class.  With the combined effort in reporting and editing the media, I spent more time on both my midterm and final than I have on any other assignment in any of my classes this semester.  Maybe we could have more circumstances like the first few assignments where we’re provided the media and graded on our editing work.  I’m learning to report in every class, I can only learn these multimedia skills here.

I think the class also could be benefitted by either a smaller class size or a tech-savvy aid.  We hit so many technical snafus requiring first-hand attention that at times we would have to sit stagnantly in our chair, waiting for Staci to come rescue us from “Bad Request” hell.  Staci is only one person and 20 students is a lot to manage considering the wide range of skill levels, knowledge and equipment we all have.  I also think that shorter, biweekly class sessions would benefit the learning process.  At times, we had to stack skills on top of each other in the long class sessions and it became a bit overwhelming.  If we were given one skill in an hour and a half class, then two days to absorb and practice that skill, I think it would stick a lot more effectively.

More specifically, I think a little more time could have been spent on following copyright laws and where to access useable material.  I think we could have focused on building infographics more as well, that’s probably the skill I feel the weakest in coming out of the class.

For the most part, I got what I was hoping to out of the class.  I think the biggest lesson is that all of this stuff is actually quite easy to do once you wrap your head around it.  Jour 226 laid a solid foundation for the building of my multimedia skills.  Digital skills are no longer a massively abstract lump concept that I must access as a whole, but a tangible set of skills that I can work on one piece at a time.   I very much intend to continue my multimedia training, especially in video and audio editing.  I look forward to the day when possession of digital skills is as much of an assumption as grammar, punctuation and style.  There is hope for journalism yet.

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