Tag Archives: college

A well-designed journalism website

This is part two of an a assignment for my Web Design for Journalists class at UMass.

Part one of this post involved me searching for a “terribly designed website” and point out what makes it so poorly designed. 

Part two of this assignment requires me to find a well-designed journalism website and make a post about why I like it.

But, as if you couldn’t see this one coming, I have loyally chosen PBS Frontline‘s website.

An aesthetically pleasing example of a well-designed media site.

The Frontline website is aesthetically pleasing, complex yet easy to navigate, and exudes an experience for the user. Here’s how:

  • The colors work. Note the varying shades of blue, gray, and purple. And, what pops out is the copany’s logo, which is classically white on red.
  • The shapes are spot on. Rectangles and squares follow continuous patterns, are spaced fairly, and are lined up like city buildings and skyscrapers.
  • Episodes are featured in two formats, as well as through the program schedule which is clearly marked.
  • Links to a popular topics and current affairs section is also clearly featured and is updated fairly regularly.
  • The user experience is first exemplified by a savvy theme. When users move their mouse over a featured program, an opaque detail card pops up, giving the viewer more information.
  • The front page also features a slick flip-book like rectangle showing off popular episodes.
  • When viewers click around the main menu they are taken to slightly less complicated sub-pages that aren’t necessarily less exciting but are clear and concise – and, yes, aesthetically pleasing.
  • The font and words are easy to read.
  • Their organization is key to helping fans find the shows they love most.
  • The screen fits to the window when it is expanded by a user.
  • Only one scroll bar is necessary.

It’s hip, it’s cool, it’s professional and is accessible.

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Being extra prepared when things go wrong

Tis the graduation season, and about 4,200 University of Massachusetts undergraduates recieved their diplomas Saturday.

This entry was originally supposed to be about what happens behind the scenes and leading up to commencement day.

But, now, it’s about being prepared for the worst.

UVC-TV 19, UMass’ student-run TV station spends months preparing for the taping of the university’s undergraduate commencement.

Hauling equipment out of the station, into a truck, and to the football stadium.

 

The real meat of the operation begins a month or so before commencement when crew is finalized and the equipment is piled together and checked out for what is probably our most important shoot all year.

Preparation of the crew begins around two weeks before the ceremony when there are one or two meetings on what everyone should do. Someone has to remember the cash box for DVD sales. Someone has to set up equipment. Someone has to operate a camera. The list is never ending.

The camera that saved our lives.

 

The commencement shoot begins the day before commencement when a small portion of the video crew goes to set up and spool out hundreds of feet of video cable.

Back of the video monitor and switcher.

 

We spool out cables, tape them down, stand around and wait for an audio test, set up and wire a portable monitor and editing-on-the-fly system, turn cameras on and off, talk with special headsets, sweat in the sun, and go to bed early.

The audio setup before disaster.

 

The only technical difference about this year’s commencement compared to the last two years of commencement was that the university chose not to have a jumbotron and rather asked UVC-TV 19 to hook up a feed to the football stadium scoreboard. So we did. And it looked awesome.

The monitor unit was to direct and edit from.

 

The day of commencement began at 5 a.m. when all crew members telephoned each other a wake up call. We later met at the station at 6 a.m. By 6:10 a.m. we were at the stadium ready to go.

The crack of dawn.

 

Everything was looking good. Everything was going smoothly. Everyone was happy. It was sunny. The sky was blue. 

We were all happy and ready to go.

 

At 10 a.m. the graduating class and their professors and teachers were marching their way in. We hit record. The footage was up on the scoreboard.

When everything was on the scoreboard.

 

Then the power went out.

Everyone in the press tent suddenly panicked and scurried to find a new source of power or back up or something while the band still played and the happy graduates marched in.

The power-outage killed the portable monitor in which I, as the director, could see our three camera operator’s footage.

What was also killed was power for our recording unit. The digital file recording unit was powerless. The SVHS tape backup unit was powerless.

But what still had power was our field cameras.

I told my guys on camera to keep rolling. I couldn’t see any of the shots they were getting but having worked commencement two previous years, I knew exactly what to expect and what shots were important.

Soon, audio power was restored from some sort of alternative source. Audio had another source set up and ready to go. Let me put it this way – they have enough money to afford to have a back up. UVC – well, we are always looking for donations, but that’s another story. Anyways, commencement wasn’t ruined.

A power source wasn’t restored for UVC.

But it’s a good thing for camera batteries!

And it was even better that our camera operators were recording on a third backup with tape. And a fourth backup on compact flash cards.

Our recording was saved.

My assistant director got me a chair so I would stop pacing like a mad woman outside the press tent. 

I sat in the chair, watched commencement for the third year in row and directed my camera operators blindly.

I spoke into my headset, ‘Camera 1, slow zoom into the chancellor for a close-up. Camera 3 I need a wide shot of the stage, slow zoom out. Camera 2 we’re going to need some graduate reactions, they’re going to be clapping soon.’

We did this for an hour and a half, at times arguing over who had the best shot of the chancellor, even though no one could see what anyone had. But the beauty of having three cameras, is the alternative angles and shots, and the ability to change tapes and recording units at different times so not a moment of action was lost.

When the ceremony ended, it was a success. Everyone was thrilled we pulled it together despite losing power.

Our success was truly about having a backup – and several of those backups having backups because you never really know when the power will go out.

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The Woronieckis have hit the web

The Woroniekis are pretty infamous, especially the father of the family Michael Woronieki whose life was transformed by finding God and Jesus.

In the media realm, the family is infamous for perhaps influencing Andrea Yates to kill her children in 2001.

The family preaches. According to them, they travel around the world preaching the word of God. They don’t belong to any church in particular and they claim they don’t have any followers.

The Woronieckis claim they have been visiting the University of Massachusetts Amherst every year for many years preaching their message, handing out pamphlets and carrying giant signs. The last two years, I’ve interviewed members of the family at UMass.

Only until recently, have they hit the web in what seems to be a primary source.

They have their own website and blog, which appear to be updated by one of Michael Woroniecki’s sons, Joshua

Now that the Woronieckis have hit the web much like everyone else today, this could mean a huge expanse of preaching and thus a wider audience.

The Woronieckis have been accused of having a sort of brainwashing style. 

Having interviewed them twice, it is agreeable. But what gets me most is how they answer questions and how they talk to you. It’s as if they never come out of preaching mode. Every answer is long winded and is a lot to digest because everything alludes or pertains to God, Jesus, sinning, and the bible.

And, now, people who enjoy the preaching of the family, have 24/7 Internet access to their preaching lives, or at least videos, music, and blog entries. 

But don’t forget: the family is their own PR contact. They will put the spin on how they see fit.

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Photos of the Days – Tech to Wilderness

As usually planned, here are my last few days of Photos of the Days, due to my only and inconvenient access to dial-up.

May 13, 2010

Greasy and greasy, yet so much fun.

 

May 14, 2010

This is the monitor and editing-on-the-fly unit we (UVC-TV 19) use for big field productions.

 

May 15, 2010

This is the morning of the UMass Commencement... at 5:55 a.m.

 

May 16, 2010

Old and dusty wilderness and hunting items.

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FUSE Rally At UMass

FUSE – Fighting for Unity and Student Enrichment held a rally today on the steps of the UMass Student Union.

Photo of the day: Rally.

Leaflets at the rally state, “By Fall 2010, the UMass administration plans to put the four resource centers that presently serve ALANA students into one program called the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS), to serve current and future ALANA students.” 

A bit small than most UMass rallies, but the spirit was there.

 

Native Americans Student Services is one of the services centers at risk to being watered down.

Don't move our cheese.

For more information on FUSE, one can email Umassfuse@googlegroups.com and visit http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/umassresourcecenters.

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Photo of the Day – Back At UVC

April 28, 2010

Back at UVC-TV 19. I will be directing Commencement this year.

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Woroniecki Family Visited UMass In October

This is some video footage I shot this year of the Woroniecki family.

This is the video footage I shot of them last year.

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