Upon realizing that my weeks article assignment would not be appropriate due to timeliness, I referred to my list of brain stormed story possibilities. Immediately I was drawn to one that I had caught wind of earlier that day while passing through the Art Department hallway. The Student Juried Exhibition show was going to open on the same Friday as the article that I needed to produce.
At first, I thought that it was perfect. As my week of reporting progressed, however, I came to be increasingly uncertain as to whether or not I was the best reporter to be on this story.
My minor is in art, if I had wanted to, I would have been eligible to submit my work. I knew enough about journalism and ethics to know that I should not enter the competition. With that said, I am pretty familiar with the Art Department. At the same time, I told myself that if I ever decided to be a journalist, art would be the sort of thing that I would want to write about. After a year of story ideas, I was finally in my element.
All the same, I produced a satisfactory story with a slight lump in my throat. I really didn’t know if I had done the right thing. I didn’t want to have a missing story in the Voice, but I didn’t want to be an unethical journalist either… or perhaps, I am over analyzing the situation.
The first story I wrote this semester was my absolute favorite. I was given the opportunity to tell the story, and describe the legacy of a beautiful human being. Her name was Dr. Hilree Hamilton, she was a professor of music at UW-River Falls. She had died weeks before my article was assigned.
Over the past two semesters, I have learned that there are weeks when people want to talk to the press and there are others when they want to avoid you at all costs. I had never met so many jovial individuals reaching out to give Dr. Hamilton a voice. It was enlightening as a journalist and as a person to hear people speak with such sincere gratification about another.
For one week I was able to float from one office to the next utterly moved, learning more and more about the people that Dr. Hamilton had touched and inspired while educating, working, or volunteering. I don’t think the article was the best one I had ever written. Writing beyond the objective nature of a traditional article is something that I had not yet mastered. The article was nevertheless a pleasure to write and I am thankful to have been able to begin my semester by telling the story of Hilree Hamilton.
There have been several stories this semester that I have been apprehensive to write about. I am not a numbers person. The concrete reality of numbers and how they affect people’s lives makes me nervous. In addition to numbers, the legislative process is something that I struggle to comprehend. When I was assigned to write about Governor Walker’s budget proposal, I froze.
The Wisconsin governor has certainly been a spectacle on campus and I knew that I was not immune to reporting on his actions. This fact, however, did not calm my anxieties. Even with the research I had done leading up to my primary interviews, I remained uneasy during my first few interviews. As the week carried on, however, I began to realize that the numbers and politics revolving around the assignment were but a fraction of the actual story. I began to uncover resolutions and supporting theories about the proper way to respond to the budget proposal.
It was in this assignment that I learned that human intellect can also be brought out with the seemingly mundane issues that they support. I learned to unearth the stories of people as they respond to the very things that I feared, and those are the sort of stories that I was looking for when I entered the world of journalism.
It is difficult to tell what can be expected from any particular beat. Upon my assignment to cover Student Senate, I was devastated. Rumors had flown across Student Voice reporters about the turbulent relationship between campus media and the student body representatives.
Internally, I grumbled about my nighttime walks up to the University Center to be a mere spectator during their meetings. It was on my second week, however, that my Tuesday night time investment seemed to be pay off. When the president renounced his position, whispers of shock flew across the room. The dozing journalist within me snapped into action and I pursued the story.
Since that night, Student Senate has become one of my favorite beats while working for campus media. I am not sure if all of the Senators care for me that much because I am always sniffing around their office. In truth, I am okay with that, I don’t think that we are supposed to have the perfect relationship. If we did, I wouldn’t be doing my job right. They always seem to have something interesting going on and that is all any reporter could ever ask for.
I think that anyone lucky enough to cover Student Senate, while working for campus media, would walk away understanding what it truly meant to be called “the press”.
When I consider the direction of contemporary art, I see boundaries pushed beyond conceivable limits. The same could be said of the direction of journalism. I draw these two parallels because I foresee myself dancing between them.
In the visual arts, viewers and critics walk away either excited, or utterly bewildered or uncomfortable about the intentions of the art work represented before them. What the signs have shown thus far in the future of journalism is equally ambiguous.
Everything is changing for the media and public interest has wavered from traditional news. As for those who continue to rely on it, their method of consumption has been altered dramatically in comparison to times passed. Newspapers and broadcast stations are dissolving jobs and in some cases, material.
It is uncomfortable for some consumers, while exciting for those who see the potential for multimedia platforms. In the art world, upcoming artists are also exploring the potential for multimedia works, typically seen in art installations.
I think that there is going to be a time when tradition will be completely evaporated. In its place dual media components will continue to be represented in both journalism and art. That time, will probably be sooner than people think. I am thankful for this, because, I intend on critiquing art critically in print, on the web, through pictures, and video.
All of these outcomes (including my own) are inevitable.
On my first day of Practicum, I was assigned two beats for the Student Voice newspaper. I was thrilled to have been granted the opportunity to write about the campus’ culture. The second beat to which I was assigned, left me quivering. I hadn’t even been aware that there was such a thing as Faculty Senate and there I was bound to represent this group of people that I knew nothing about.
The role I received in covering the campus community with respect to Faculty Senate changed my outlook on the UW-River Falls faculty in general. When I first stepped into my first Faculty Senate meeting, I immediately experienced a change of thought about all of the professors who had ever educated me. Each educator in that conference room and those absent from it became: people. People, who had other focuses away from their areas of academic study.
As I went on to follow the various Faculty Senate committees and their meetings throughout the year, I saw my superiors frustrations and moments of triumph. In the classroom, I had only been exposed to their corners of comfort.
My role had changed as well. Instead of me seeking course material, I sought out a new avenue of their expertise. Immediately, I was received differently. It was unexpected, yet, refreshing. Instead of being introduced as “my student”, I became “a reporter from the Student Voice”. It was at these moments, that I myself, believed them.
Feature writing was something that I had had absolutely no personal experience at. I was excited for this new prospect to approach my week’s article differently. Following the interview of my featured subject, however, I felt curiously incapacitated. I quickly realized, that I had never dealt with a single source, leaving me a single person to establish attribution.
The article focused on this student as an outlet for using the Internet service, CouchSurfing. Impulsively, I filled out an impersonal online-media Q&A box and waited for a response. In turn, I would go through this procedure three times before I was able to contact someone in America.
This was a national correspondence, my first one. I was nervous and probably unprepared. That time, I truly felt out of my element. For days I had tried to contact this source. Due to time zone issues, we kept missing each other. As it was a phone interview and someone I was unfamiliar with, I was wary of using a direct quote.
My interviewee was well versed in “the right thing to say.” All of the information I gained, I could have cited from the website. Still, I wanted something else, I was determined to have another voice in the article. That experience taught me about persistence and the satisfaction it can bring.
When a breaking news event occurred on campus, I had no initial intent on doing anything about it. That day, the Student Senate president excused himself early from our interview, citing that he had another meeting to attend. My curiosity led me to follow him. I found him in a room filled beyond capacity discussing a hate crime that had occurred earlier that day. I also discovered that I was the only media present.
The meeting would fester inside of me for an hour, before I decided to make a call to my editor. Before I knew it, I was agreeing to cover the story in four hours time. An adrenaline rush approached me and it did not leave until I sent the draft to my editor. I was proud of what I had done. It was to be an article written in record time — recorded also was an error.
The error is one I shudder to mention. Hastily, I had recorded the incorrect last name of one of my sources. After a series of emails of apology were sent, I still didn’t feel worthy of being a reporter. My speech had been silenced, by my own self and I felt that I deserved nothing better. It took me weeks for a glint of confidence to reemerge. An unyielding method of precaution has consistently carried me through the articles that I have since executed. It truly was a learning experience. I never want to be responsible for an error of fact again.
A journalism professor once told me that when it comes to sharing information, those who hold a comparably smaller source of power are the ones who refrain from sharing it. I didn’t doubt this professor, however, I didn’t expect to experience it on a scale as small as a University Center.
While trying to write a proper article on increased theft on campus, I followed a logical path of sources. I gathered information from the University police. In turn, they directed me to speak with the staff members in charge of the University Center. I sent several e-mails and received one response, from a student building manager.
Shortly after the interview, the building manager told me she wanted to remove the entire interview from the record because she had received an E-mail, forbidding her to speak with any campus media.
She had told me nothing that seemed to be confidential, merely the policies of the UC. Shocked, I promptly E-mailed her superior and diplomatically told her of the situation. I was careful not to reveal the sources identity. In a rather cold response, I was told that I was not allowed to use my source in the article.
I had a hard time grasping that my speech was being stunted.
I could have included the building manager’s information in the article. When I sat down to write the article, I refrained. I decided that it was not my place to jeopardize the job of another through no fault of their own.