Monday, May 4, 2009

SWINE FLU!

Journalism Reflection:
I would like to dedicate this entire reflection to the swine flue. Excuse me, H1N1.....
I feel as if there is not enough coverage of this horrendous infection.  NOT!  When does it get to be too much?  This horrible flu bug has now become humorous to most people around America.  It's the butt of many jokes.  If someone coughs, it's funny to ask if they have swine flu.  I will admit to getting in on this fun.  I can't resist.  I also feel that since I am a journalist, it's my duty to stop the coverage.  I'm sure any producer around would smack the next person to pitch a swine flu story idea.  
As a part of the media, pushing this coverage is stupid and irresponsible.  All we're doing is scaring people.  There are innocent audience members out there who believe anything we tell them.  They don't always listen completely and as a result, they remain ignorant and just assume that since something is covered so heavily, it is a huge deal.
Don't get me wrong, I know that swine flu is a big deal, but not big enough to be in every newscast multiple times.  Obama, Nixon, etc.  Everyone is talking about it.  If President Obama gives it attention, then it is a big deal.  But when he talks, people tend to listen, meaning he has the final say.  I have seen swine flu coverage on YouTube, Twitter, Nightly News, the Post Dispatch, KOMU, Facebook, Google News, BBC Online, CNN, VH1's Best Week Ever, the New York Times, and many other places.  I'm pretty sure the word has spread further than the disease itself.  Stop and breathe for a second (As long as you have a protective surgical mask.  Joking!).

Personal News Gathering Process:
For the first time ever, I had a problem with too many sources for a story.  I completed my final KOMU reporting shift of the semester on Wednesday.  I was assigned to a story about two pit bull dogs who attacked customers in the Walmart parking lot and then went to another parking lot where police ultimately shot one dog down and lost the other one when it ran away.  I felt bad for the dog, even though it was out of it's place.  Police arrested the owner on two counts and Animal Control got the dog the next day after a neighbor who had been searching all day for the dog brought it into the Humane Society.  
Let's count my sources.
1) The police (who were not helpful at all)
2) A man in his early 20s who was at Walmart when the dogs were attacking and went over to Kohl's to protect other customers when the dogs made their way over there.
3) a woman who called in the story initially before any press release.  She was a dog lover and didn't want to let this go unreported.
4) A man who worked at GNC by Walmart who was attacked by one dog but didn't want to be interviewed because he was a little loopy from the pain medication.
5) The neighbor of the owner who called in to say he found the dog.
6) and one other person who called in to say that they saw the dogs escape around 10 am, called Animal Control and they didn't do anything.

It was so difficult to report this story because I didn't want to let anyone down.  I wish I had more time to tell all sides, but luckily I had a VO/SOT and a web story to write.  That helped a little bit, but didn't solve my problem.  I usually have a problem with not enough sources or contacts.  This was a nice change of pace.  Unfortunately, my video was so-so and I didn't think to get store parking lot video, a mug-shot of the owner, or 911 call recordings.  
I've said this before, and I'll say it again.  Working at KOMU is such a learning experience.  I'm learning to recognize my own mistakes, but I still need a lot more experience.  Next semester my friends.  Next semester.

Embrace summer when it's finally here loves!
-Meghan Christine

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's a Free Country...

Journalism Reflection:
This has been an intense week for me.  I haven't really spoken my mind politically speaking since November.  I usually save my words for times where they are necessary.  I do not and have never watched the Miss USA Pageant.  I really have no interest in the competition or who wins.  I just hear about it on PerezHilton.com.  In the past, I have mentioned that this cite is the one site I check right when I wake up in the morning and I check it multiple times daily.  Multiple times hourly.  Well, I also added Perez Hilton on Twitter.  He updates often and his tweets are not the same as the stories he posts on his website.  I feel like I learn twice as much that way.  This week brought me to an overload of Perez and this is something I thought could never happen.
He was a judge at the pageant and he asked Miss California a question.  Basically, there are no right or wrong answers for that particular part of the competition.  The judges base their scores on how contestants answer and whether or not they actually answer the question.  Perez's question was about how there are now four states allowing gay marriage.  Does Miss California think other states should follow suit?  He said THINK!  Well, needless to say, Perez is gay himself.  I really don't care what his sexual preference is.  However, his reaction to Miss California saying she thought a marriage should be between a man and a woman was beyond childish.  I lost all respect for him when he posted a video on his cite calling her a dumb (insert bad word here).  He tweeted endlessly about how stupid she was, how he wasn't sorry he called her a bad name, how he hates all people like her and how everyone booed her.  NO ONE BOOED!  In fact, there were many, many cheers.  ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XMvviFbkf0 )
I'm not saying I'm for or against gay marriage.  I'm just saying she should be allowed to express her opinion.  Perez also has the right to get angry, but let it go.  Stop beating a dead horse.  Everyone gets that you think she was wrong and you probably gave her a horrible score, but it's over.  She was runner up and not the winner, so it doesn't even matter anymore.  She will fade out of the spotlight soon.  I am also saying that I have respect for her for not fighting back.  She held her ground and stuck with her answer.  She also has a lot of guts to say something like that being from California and all.  That's the center of the Prop. 8 issues.  That takes courage.  
It has been difficult not going to Perez's cite for nearly a week now.  Boycotting is difficult. I have to find a new cite to go to for the time being.  TMZ is not nearly as entertaining, but right now, I can't support someone I can't stand.  I lost a tremendous amount of respect for him.  I'll probably cave and go back to using the site, but not for a while.

Personal News Gathering Process:
I went back to KOMU this past week!  Hooray for reporting shift #2!  I have to say that I lucked out with my story.  Someone called me at 8:00 am to ask me if I could come in a bit earlier and take a story idea that was already in process.  Of course!  I covered the new president at Stephens College. (http://www.komu.com/satellite/SatelliteRender/KOMU.com/ba8a4513-c0a8-2f11-0063-9bd94c70b769/d0d34e1d-80ce-0971-000e-2ff62cb2558b )  Someone had already scheduled an interview with her at a set time, so all I had to do was show up.
Visually, the story was not very strong.  My interview with Dr. Lynch was a part of a pseudo press junket.  Each media person came in and asked his or her questions and left.  Lynch sat in a chair for a few hours and I couldn't think of anything to use for b-roll.  I ended up just using a lot of video from around campus (which is TINY, I might add).   I would have liked to have more natural sound as well as sequences.  
Also, I wish I had used a better background for my interview with a student ambassador.  The wall was green and everything in the background was below her shoulders.  The green wall came across as white on screen and there was no decoration or anything going on visually.  I do have to say that learning from my own wrongdoing is better than just being told what to do.  Hopefully I'll retain this information and correct my mistakes in the future.  
I have another reporting shift this Wednesday, so hopefully I can take a better stab at this!

Enjoy the nice weather loves!
-Meghan Christine

Sunday, April 19, 2009

obsolete

Journalism Reflection:
I devoted this past week to an ancient idea - the newspaper.  Remember what that is?  Unfortunately, I didn't purchase the newspapers.  Instead, I used my student ID to get them out of the machine.  In my defense, I'm a poor college student.  In their defense, it's people like me who don't want to pay for information they can get for free online that are running them out of business.  
I honestly feel bad for newspapers.  I would be terrified to be in a newspaper sequence right now, even if it was at the best journalism school ever.  However, I don't know enough about the newspaper sequence to judge it completely.  I know they do online work, but if you like writing news instead of writing and recording, why wouldn't you direct yourself mostly toward the internet?  Again, I have a certain level of ignorance when it comes to convergence.  I feel comfortable where I am, and that's good enough for me.  For now, at least. 
Through all of my week's research, I came to a few realizations.  Nytimes.com is more difficult to read than the newspaper.  The layout is confusing, although it does look oddly similar to the newspaper's layout.  I'd rather read the paper.
The news in the St. Louis Post Dispatch is essentially the same as what is on stltoday.com.  I don't mind which format I get their news from.
USA Today is more user-friendly on the internet.  However, the paper isn't bad by any means.  
The Maneater (themaneater.com), a Mizzou Staple, is much better in its paper format.  I also think their paper format will stay around because they are all around campus.  When one student picks it up, another wants to know what they are reading because it could be directly related to him or her.  As a result, he or she picks one up as well.  I don't know how they stay above ground without customers to subscribe to the paper.  It must be difficult to give things away for free.  
One common trait on every website is the fact that people can comment on stories.  When reading the actual paper, comments are irrelevant.  Which do you prefer?
After this research, I still believe the newspaper will be obsolete in a few years.  Then again, haven't people been saying that for a while now?

Personal News-Gathering Process
I caved this week and got my hair cut.  I had been growing it out for a few months.  It takes a long time to grow.  Once the temperature climbed to the upper 60s, I remembered how much I hate long hair.  Why was I growing it out?  I never did anything fun with it.  I just put it up in a ponytail and called it a day.  
I thought I was going to ignore the tip to cut my hair for on-air performances.  If the hair on the back of my neck hadn't gotten to me, I probably would have continued to let it grow.  I have no regrets.  I love my hair right now.  I even have bangs.  I haven't had bangs since I was seven years old.  That was forever ago!  
Hopefully this makes me look a little older and more professional.  That's really what I was going for.  We'll see what people say when I get back to school on Monday.
In an actual news perspective, I didn't do much this past week that was related to journalism.  I did not have a shift at KOMU (although I do have one this Wednesday).  However, I did write the first draft of my Investigative Reporting story.  I am scared that my teacher's response won't be great.  This article is worth more than 50% of my grade.  I have to do well!  
I will stop being a bum this week and pick up the pace.  Story ideas, here I come!

GO Cards!
have a great week loves!
-Meghan Christine

Monday, April 13, 2009

Move over life, here comes baseball season.

I filled this past week with more baseball facts than anything.  I paid more attention to the beginning of the Cardinal's season than to my studies.  I tend to have this terrible habit around this time of year.  To me, it doesn't even feel like baseball season. It's ridiculously cold outside.  I long for the day I can wear a t-shirt and shorts to Busch Stadium.  I also long for summer.  There needs to be a term for what students go through at the end of the spring semester.  Spring break probably contributes to a drop in grades.  After Thanksgiving break, there were only 2 weeks of school left.  After spring break, there were 5!  What I'm feeling right now isn't senioritis, but it's very very similar.

Journalism Reflection:
After deciding to become a teacher, I am devoting a lot of my attention to the convergence journalism world.  I talked to multiple teachers back at my old high school about where I think things will stand in a few years.  I have not lost confidence in broadcast journalism, however, after two years here at Mizzou, I think that convergence is the way to go.  I'm glad I have taken the broadcast path, but I wish I had more experience with the internet world.  I was planning on taking the producing class my last semester, but now I'm thinking about online applications.
On a related note, I tried to pay attention to how often I watched television news this past week, and how often I checked the internet.  I have to admit that 3/4ths of the time (if not more), I was on the internet.  I love that I can have news sites send me updates via text messages if I want them to.  That's a great option.  I already receive ESPN updates every time the Cardinals score.  I also have ESPN send me texts when Boston wins or loses so I can rub it in various peoples' faces when they lose.
Google News is an awesome website to sign up for texts.  You can type in keywords and then choose an option that allows you to receive a text every time something else comes up under that Google News search. - News.Google.Com 

Personal News Gathering Process:
I did not have a shift at KOMU this past week, and I don't have one again this coming week.  I find myself missing the station.  I would go in for cut-ins or volunteer to take others' shifts, but I have more tests and quizzes this week than I have had the entire semester.  My motto for the time being comes from The Little Train Who Could. "I think I can! I think I can!" (get through this week, that is).
My relatives learned how to search for me on the internet.  That's scary.  On Easter, I had so many family members and friends comment on my on-air debut.  It's almost embarrassing.
On a personal note, Lent is over.  I can now drink soda!  For those of you who know me, this is a huge deal.  The lack of caffeine over the past 40+ days has driven me to the brink of insanity.  I cannot tell you how happy I was to drink 3/4ths of a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper at midnight on Sunday.  Happy Easter!  I think my focus abilities may come back to me this week.  I need them.
OH! I almost forgot!  I won an Edward R. Murrow Award this past week! I also took part in an "Overall Excellence" award with my "Buddy Packs" story.  The one I won on my own was for my Veterans' Day Audio Post Card in "Best Use of Sound - Radio Only".  I had no idea I was even entered.  I wish someone would explain to me what winning these awards means. I am assuming it's a big deal, but I have to admit that I am pretty ignorant when it comes to this.  I hope I get a plaque!

Now, it's back to the real world. 
Have a great week loves!
-Meghan Christine

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Too Much? or Just Right?

Journalism Reflection
Today, while I was searching one of my new favorite addictions, Twitter, I came across a video posted by Perez Hilton.  His tweet said it made him cry, so for some reason, I wanted to know what.  Before I go any further, here's the link - http://tiny.cc/p6hc4 .  If you take the time to watch it, this is what my reflection is about.  
 This story is about a dying little eight year old girl who is battling Cystic Fibrosis.  I have a very young cousin who is also battling CF.  This video scares me beyond belief.  Luckily, for Kayla, there are advancements being made in the research field.  Kayla's doctors diagnosed her at age eight.  This story is about Anna.  Anna was diagnosed at three months.  It amazes me that she continued to live a rather normal, active life with her sisters and friends.  I have seen what Kayla goes through and it's tough for anyone to combat, especially little kids.  
If I was any normal viewer at home watching this video, I would ball my eyes out.  However, since I'm a journalist, I have a natural habit of taking more elements into account. This story is 6:10 long.  That's kind of outrageous.  It is a very touching story, but there were a lot of sound bites from Anna's mother that could have been shortened or left out.  That would not have detracted from the story.  Also, where was the Dad? He didn't come in until more than half way through.  I found myself wondering, while the mom was talking, where he was, or if he was around.  So much for my attention span.
Another thing that got me was the music.  The volume was way too loud and it took me out of the story every single time it came back in.  It was mostly used when they showed Anna in pain in her bed.  I can see the pain, I don't need the music to force me to do it.  I have a feeling that everyone believes music is necessary for sad stories.  Silence is also very powerful.
I liked seeing the anchor in the home with Anna's mother.  She delved into the situation and made the rest of the family comfortable with her.  I also noticed she was just wearing a comfortable casual outfit.  Not a bad idea for a story like this.  The family in question wore t-shirts and jeans.  The anchor also did a great voicing job.  She put emphasis on the correct words and made it sound like she cared.  We later found out she cared tremendously.
I have a couple of questions regarding the anchor's behavior.  1) She rubbed Anna's back during a few scenes.  When is that crossing the line?  Is that just her personality?  It didn't make me uncomfortable, I'm just wondering when that gets to be too much.  2) The anchor cried during the tag and I still don't know how to feel about it.  She was obviously upset about the situation because Anna had passed the night before.  Is showing emotion like that too much?  I think it makes her human, but at the same time, she sounded optimistic during the intro.  Where did the switch come in?
Overall, I enjoyed the story, I would have just told it a different way.

Personal News Gathering Process
This past Wednesday (April Fools Day) marked my first reporting shift.  Let me just say that a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders once I transferred my video.  It felt great to be able to accomplish something for the first time.  It was also very weird to see myself on TV.  I've seen myself on TVs before, but not on the real deal.  I am not ever nervous about being on camera, it's just the timing issue.  Working on deadline scares the living daylights out of me...in a good way!
Originally, Stacey wanted me to cover a story about a missing person (Greeley, you probably know what I'm talking about); however, this turned out to not be a story.  The woman had just left her family and pretended she was kidnapped.  After I wasted about 20 minutes searching for contacts from that, I was assigned to cover the Mental Health Champions Banquet in Jefferson City.  Luckily that was pretty close, so I didn't have to worry about driving 45 minutes away.  
Overall, I didn't encounter many problems.  Everyone was more than willing to talk to me, and no one told me they didn't want to be on camera.  There were 400 people there.  I figured someone would want to take a stab at me.  I also felt like an actual reporter.  This was somehow different from VO Patrols.  I felt like the real deal.  
I really wanted to get more footage than I came back to the station with, but the banquet wasn't supposed to start until 6 o'clock and they were running behind.  I made my CCC (central compelling character) a lovely man who battles bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.  It was really cool to talk to him because he wanted to help.  He wants to help anyone with mental health issues.  He may be one of the nicest and most grateful persons I've ever spoken to in my life.  That's saying a lot.  Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around until he received his award, but I was proud of him nonetheless!
Looking at my finished package (here it is - http://tiny.cc/8gYuA ), I can notice a few flaws.  I watched it on TV as it aired and gasped when I saw a jump cut.  I know better!  I was so angry with myself, and I'm sure I'll have someone else tell me when we watch it in class.  The point is that I will avoid that in the future.  There were also some audio problems.  The microphone in my booth was broken from the stand, and I guess I didn't hold it properly.  I adjusted as much as I could notice was wrong.  There was also a lot of background noise.  I made an announcement that I was going to voice (I was using an open edit bay), but no one really listened to me.  
The great thing about KOMU is everyone knows you're a student and they know you're learning with the rest of them.  I can't imagine what life would be like if I went out to a news station after graduation and had to learn what I'm learning right now.  I would be fired in a heartbeat.  
Thank God for Mizzou's J-School!

Enjoy the April Showers loves!
-Meghan Christine

Monday, March 23, 2009

Journalism Reflection:
     This past weekend has been great to me.  I can finally watch the St. Louis news, learn about the Cardinals and do it in the comfort of my own home.  I love being home. I can say right away that as soon as I got home on Thursday night, I started researching St. Louis news from the NBC affiliate here.  KSDK News Channel 5.  I had an interview for an internship with them on Friday afternoon.  It went well but was nothing like I expected.
I did my backgrounding in order to know everything I could about what I was missing while in Columbia.  I tried to learn new reporters' names as well as big topics in St. Louis.  I did all of this so I could sound educated during my interview.  The funny thing was that the interview was very odd.  There were three other girls there for the interview and the executive producer only asked us each one question.  It was a group interview and I have no confidence in the fact that the producer learned anything about me.  I did learn a lot about what would be expected from me.  That was nice to know.  
My research did me little good at the interview, but at least I now know more about my hometown.  

Personal News Gathering Process:
I completed my second VO Patrol on Wednesday.  I had a better experience this past week than on my first VO Patrol.  I had a lot more confidence in my work.  Nothing bad happened and I was back to the station with plenty of time to complete my story and have time left over.  That definitely made me feel great about my progression.  Time is my biggest enemy.  I can never have enough of it.  
I brought in story ideas and actually got to use one of mine.  There is a graffiti patrol hotline in Columbia for residents to call and report graffiti to have it removed.  It has been around since August.  Only 10 people have called.  That's a story in itself.  That was also something I learned just by doing the interview.  That definitely proves you can't go into a story with preconceived notions.  You never know what you will learn.  
I enjoyed standing in an ally trying to get shots of graffiti.  I was a little scared someone was going to pop out and try to scare me.  It would have been funny.  The only bad thing about having a VO-SOT-VO is the fact that it can easily be edited for time.  My SOT was removed for time.  I did get to write my own internet story this time!  I love the feeling of knowing a piece of work is my own, regardless of the fact that it may not be the exact way I wanted it to be.  In Greeley terms, this would be considered "killing babies."

Have a GREAT spring break loves!
-Meghan Christine

Friday, March 13, 2009

Journalism Reflection...
Nothing tremendously outstanding happened this past week.  I always feel weird when I say nothing happened because obviously, a lot of things did happen.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to think of "new and inventive" ways to find news.  So I resorted to one of my favorite websites to help me out. YouTube.  It's that simple.  I never realized how much news was on that one website.  I usually go to YouTube for music videos or funny clips.  I recently figured out you could actually sort videos by category.  Guess what.  YouTube has a news category!  So I checked it out (http://www.youtube.com/news?s=mptync&t=t&c=25&cr=US&p=2).  I found a few biases along the way.  There were some videos posted in that category in response to political and public figures.  Those were not so much news, but V-logs.  Video blogs.  Ranting and raving.  I can do without that.  I also can tell the difference in how each "channel" tells stories.  It's different between the AP Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/AssociatedPress) and the NewsPoliticsNews Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/NewsPoliticsNews).
The most interesting part about watching stories on YouTube is the fact that the channels upload videos all throughout the day and people comment all day.  The commentaries are the best part.  They complete the stories.  They allow viewers to respond instantaneously.  Yes, viewers can also do that on the channels' actual websites.  However, YouTube seems so much more inviting.

Personal News Gathering Process...
I am still waiting for the documents from my open records request.  I did receive responses within the three required business days.  That's a good start.
I fulfilled my first VO Patrol on Monday night. (http://www.komu.com/satellite/SatelliteRender/KOMU.com/ba8a4513-c0a8-2f11-0063-9bd94c70b769/ee5d6e15-80ce-0971-018c-67cddb6fa448) Let's just say it was an interesting experience.  I made a few rookie mistakes.  Forgetting the tripod was the most embarrassing.  Who does that?  I spent too much time looking up information before leaving to cover the Central Missouri Humane Society's benefit dinner at Chris Mc D's.  When I finally left, I took the wrong way.  When I got to Chris Mc D's....I realized I forgot the tripod.  After taking a deep breath and calming myself from being really frustrated with...myself...I got back in the car and went back to retrieve the tripod.  
I did feel really cool driving the KOMU car.  It was everything I ever hoped it would be.  People stared at me and I liked it.  The only bad part about the staring was I actually felt self conscious about singing in the car.  I belt it out every time I'm in the car.  You could obviously tell I was singing if you looked at me, but normally people don't look at me when I'm driving around in my tiny gray Camry.  
When I got down to business, everyone at the restaurant loved that I was there.  That was nice.  I finally felt people open up to me since I am an actual KOMU reporter instead of just a student.  That change is well received.  My boss was at the restaurant and watching my every move.  When I saw her at work yesterday, she told me I did a GREAT job. I think she thinks I did a great job because she had no idea what I was actually supposed to do.  But I did successfully shoot an interview with b-roll in under 20 shots.  That's a first.  
Back at KOMU I was running out of time.  I had to complete a VO-SOT-VO.  I was surprised with myself for how quickly I uploaded the video.  I wrote my script really quickly and was proud of it.  But, of course, something horrible has to happen when things are going so well.  Stacey came over to check on my work and realized the person on the computer before me forgot to log off of Pepper's bins.  This meant I was putting everything in the wrong spots.  I had to start over.  Eventually, I sent everything off to NRCS land (after 10 o'clock) and kicked back my heels to write the web story.  It turned out that the Dot Com people thought I was just doing a VO Patrol for experience and not as a B2 assignment.  They wrote it for me.  So, unfortunately, my web story did not make it online.  Next time. Next time.  
I have my next VO Patrol on Wednesday.  I'm going to get there earlier to get a head start.  I am also going to bring my own story ideas.
Wish me luck!
Good weekend loves!
-Meghan Christine