Tag Archives: multimedia journalism

Where I’ve been…

Obvious: I have not posted a proper blog entry or update since September.

Reason: I have been taking five classes and working two jobs.

Details: I’ve been taking some some interesting classes at UMass Amherst, such as web design for journalists, investigative journalism, and a film workshop at Hampshire College. 

I’m learning web design and building a portfolio website in a web design class, taught by Brian McDermott, which I will publish at the end of the semester. That’s a huge step up from this blog, which I’m excited about. The website will creatively display my work and resume. I’ve been using and learning Dreamweaver as well as Flash to build my website up from scratch. I haven’t used a single template, which has proven to be a great learning experience. I will provide more details about my website when it’s published.

The film workshop, taught by Abraham Ravett, at Hampshire College is pretty awesome. It’s been a difficult transition from working digital to working analog, but because I have such a solid grasp in camera fundamentals like film speed, aperture, frame rate, and shutter speed, I’ve definitely had an easier time than some of my fellow classmates. The class requires students to work in 16mm black and white reversal film shot on a Bolex and edit projects on a Steen Beck. I’ve transfered pretty much all of my footage to video, but the transfers aren’t that great, which is kind of disappointing considering how beautiful film looks projected as opposed to scan lines and pixels. I’m still working on editing my most recent shorts in Final Cut Pro, which I will likely upload at the end of the semester.

The investigative journalism course, taught by Steve Fox, has taken up most of my time and has been a challenging learning experience. We are investigating and reporting on the Phoebe Prince bullying case and its aftermath. The UMass journalism class is partnered with MassLive.com, so everything we produce gets published on the site. Our articles are published on a blog page which can be found at masslive.com/bullying. My beat is covering the South Hadley School Committee and related matters. My final project for this semester will be a video, which I will link to when it debuts.

Work has been keeping me busy editing various wildlife videos. I’ve recently edited videos on swamp pink, bog turtles, and puffins. They will debut at a biologists conference in February; I am uncertain if they will be published online.

This semester has been far too busy, but it will all be worth it come mid-December. As a prelude to next semester (my last and final semester of college), I hope I will be able to update much more frequently as well as have more time to play around with After Effects, cameras, and documentary work – oh and looking for a job.

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Flash and journalism

The following piece is a class assignment for a web design course for journalists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Flash is not only used to make a website look slick but can better convey news stories on the web.

National Geographic developed a very creative site called Inside 9/11, which uses Flash to better tell complex stories pertaining to September 11th, 2001. 

The page features a section of video archives called “Inside 9/11 Interviews.” When opened, viewers see a display of many photos of people, and a side bar on the left. Site visitors can click people’s images, then watch a video interview of the person and/or read a transcript of the interview, read a short biography, and see suggested interviews. Once a person’s video interview has been watched or clicked on, the thumbnail ‘grays out’ so viewers know what they have or have not clicked. The sidebar lists subjects partaining to 9/11, and when the mouse moves over the subject bar, interviews on the topic are highlighted.

I like the Flash piece because it takes the documentary concept and adapts it to the web. Video clips are archived in an organized yet creative way. It widens the opportunity for telling stories and the news, and, now, a piece of history. It also allows viewers to interact with these archival materials. They can easily choose the subjects they want to learn more about. The information provided shows how people and subject matters are connected providing a timeframe and context, while an emotional stories are also told. Other types of media are much more linear, meaning someone has to read or watch materials from the beginning to the end, where as this Flash site allows people to ‘jump around.’

The site is quite complex and I am not sure how it was made in Flash and/or javascript. It seems the author(s) used a function like in Flash’s ‘button editing mode.’ When the mouse moves over a subject in the sidebar, people related to that subject are highlighted. When the mouse clicks the bar, a sound effect is applied and the interviewees are highlighted in red as the ‘lock into place’ for viewers to click on.

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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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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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