Monthly Archives: February 2009

Analyzing FRONTLINE/World’s “Jamaica: The Alpha Boys”

FRONTLINE/World’s “Jamaica: The Alpha Boys.” <Click

As always, Frontline World delivers a moving yet informative news package.

For Frontline World’s “Rough Cut” series, reporter Marco Werman visits Jamaica to see what Jamaica’s music scene is up to these days.

Werman traces the musical roots of Kingston, while profiling its musicians of today in the multimedia piece, “Jamaica: The Alpha Boys.”

Werman visits the Alpha Boys School for vocation and music training. The school originally started as an orphanage in the late 1800s and developed into a reform school. Eventually, school’s graduates were going on to become celebrities of the Jamaican music scene.

Today, the Alpha school is still teaching and disciplining young males through the art of music. Many of the school’s recent graduates have emerged as successes.

What makes Werman’s piece so effective is the quality of the production and the way the story is told.

Though the video length is longer than most packages, the “mini-doc” conveys Kingston’s past and present using multiple people’s stories. This is a technique many documentaries big and small use. Here’s what I mean:

  • Werman narrates different scenes and the basic facts.
  • Many experienced Jamaican musicians tell Kingston’s history.
  • Students and teachers of Alpha talk about Alpha.
  • Graduates of Alpha give their input.
  • Stories are told simultaneously.

There are two different stories in this piece. Profiling the Alpha school is the obvious. Jamaican musical history is the underlying narrative, which supports the primary story.

The mise en scène (in the scene), or the overall production, is achieved through the piece’s technical quality.

Cameraman and editor, John MacGibbon, includes plenty of b-roll and detailed editing.

What’s interesting is how Werman is included in the footage. However, most of his talking is done in the narration. This is different from usual mainstream media packages where the reporter is always on screen talking, and lo-fi pieces where the reporter is usually behind the camera.

The package includes a brief written abstract from Werman, allows for comments, and links to outside Web sites and articles, like many multimedia news packages.

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Utah city can refuse religious monuments in public park

The U.S. Supreme court ruled a Utah city can refuse to install a Summum religious monument in a public park.

The Summum religious group, founded in 1975 in Salt Lake City, sought to errect a monument called the “Seven Aphorisms” near a Ten Commandments display.

“Attorneys for the city argued that the appeals court’s ruling would require cities and states to remove long-standing monuments or result in public parks nationwide becoming cluttered junkyards of monuments,” reported James Vicini of Reuters.

Governments can consider form and message when selecting donated monuments, because to force viewpoint-neutrality would cutter parks and create pressure to remove long-standing and cherished monuments, Alito said,” reported Online NewsHour.

Summum followers were interviewed by Adam Liptak in a New York Times article from November 2008.

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TV show host born with disability apparently scares kids

A host of CBeebies, a BCC digital children’s show, has been stirring commotion among parents and their children.

Host Cerrie Burnell, 29, born with one arm, has been said to “scare children” because of her disability.

Parents commented on the CBeebies Web site with great discomfort claiming Burnell would give children nightmares and some wouldn’t be able to cope.

On the otherside, some said the comments are like another form of racism and there are lessons to be learned. It’s discrimination against people with disabilites.

Of children who ask questions about her disability, Burnell said they are asking honestly because they are curious. She explains to them why she is the way she is and they usually move on, said Burnell.

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