With a bookshelf packed with play scripts in the backdrop, Stephen Hudson-Mairet, chair of Marquette's department of digital media and performing arts, underscored the powerful interactions he has had during this annual event.
"I can still remember some of my graduates coming on this day," he said.
It was the scholarship competition for the university's Theatre Arts program, a day in which incoming students visit the program, participate in workshops and audition for tuition scholarships. Lucky for those seeking a behind-the-scenes look on the event, the cameras were rolling.
A challenge with this piece was getting interviewees to explain what was happening. Questions had to be simple and direct. Despite the interviewer and interviewee both knowing the answer, the answer had to be caught on camera so that viewers could follow the day's events without prior knowledge. The best way to explain the action was not with my voice, but the voices of the participants. This goal drove the interviews to capture perspectives from faculty, current students and students who will be arriving on campus in the fall.
The program is a tight-knit community, apparent from initial conversations. Hospitality was abundant for the visitors, as the current students were willing to answer questions and share the value of the program. Action worth recording was happening all over – answering parent concerns, tours of Helfaer Theatre and the nervous vibes of an upcoming audition being loosened by new friends.
This was the other challenge, trying to have the camera everywhere. At one point, the parents split from the students, so it was a difficult choice of where to go to capture meaningful shots from both. It was a real example of Bethany Swain's lesson for young journalists that, when the camera is rolling, they should not worry about what they are missing. Footage is about quality over quantity.
Putting the piece all together, going through enough film to fill an hour, was the most exciting part. Being at the event is one thing, building the video so that anyone, anywhere, at any time can experience it as well is what makes being a journalist special. The time spent making small cuts to clips on iMovie was all worth it when the video was complete.
Thankful for the opportunity to cover this unique Marquette event. Look for this next generation of performers on a stage near you.
The lesson for today: Check your tools before you use them. Then, check them again. Perhaps even a third time. It will save you a big headache, trust me.
I still hold out as part of the old messaging phone generation. That being said, I am learning how to use smartphone video to create short pieces of journalism. The main tool is Videolicious, a video creation app that allows you to bring in B-roll, interviews and effects all in an efficient way.
To get around not having a smartphone, I borrowed a friend's retired iPhone and downloaded up the app. After a quick trial run, I hit the streets to interview Marquette University students about the low participation for the Campus Climate Survey. I did interviews and gathered transitions, thinking I was set.
Then it came time to edit. Due to another reporting obligation for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, the final video did receive attention until later that night. That is when the realization set in – the microphone does not work.
My mistake. The deadline for the piece is looming the next morning and I have nothing. A person can fix bad video if there is good audio. If there is bad audio, that is a problem. If there is no audio, that is a huge problem.
Doing the best I could, I grabbed my regular camera and found a few more people who were willing to talk about the survey. I recorded them on the camera, uploaded the files onto my computer, transferred them to the iPhone, then edited the pieces together in Videolicious for the final piece.
The lesson here is to make sure all your tools work. Do not go out in the field unless you know, not think, that your tools can handle the assignment. That is, unless your idea of fun is a frantic realization with a quick approaching deadline.
Compelling Audio and Stunning Photographs Make "One in 8 Million" a Special Profile Series
Amid the packed streets, the symphony of honking car horns and the shining marquee lights, it is easy to get lost in the crowd of 8 million people that make up New York. In the 2009 series "One in 8 Million," The New York Times reminded the world that each person has a unique and engaging story.
Reporters for The New York Times compiled audio and photographs from 54 New York citizens. These natural sound stories are edited in a way so that no written background or audio narration is necessary to tell the story. Here are a few of my favorites from the series and what makes them stand out.
Rivka Karasik left her community of Hasidic Jews for life in the city, a decision that was liberating and haunting. Her new life is a challenge as she acclimates to a lifestyle of newfound freedoms, such as being able to buy and wear any clothes she wants. At the end of the piece, she admits that her choice to leave was ultimately the right one, despite the troubles she faces now.
“I think life would’ve been easier and simpler had I stayed, but I couldn’t,” Karasik said.
The interviewer made Karasik comfortable enough to discuss a troubled time in her life. She admits that she cried herself to sleep growing up and thought that she was "crazy" for not fitting in. Getting such raw emotion required the interviewer to spend significant time with Karasik to build that kind of trust.
Andrew Baum, better known as "The Rookie Detective," lives a life full of car chases and run-ins with police, unless it is an average day. The private investigator said that most of his work is dull time spent sitting in a car videotaping someone. Some of his best stories, however, include being chased by a truck driver or arrested in Central Park for videotaping children.
Baum's strategy for dismissing suspicion – saying that he is a film student at New York University – was likely the answer to a double-barrel question such as, "How do you get around people’s misconceptions about what you are doing?" The details of the kinds of reactions people give when they discover Baum is investigating them could be brought out with the question "Have people you are investigating ever found out you were following them? How did they react?"
Richard Valvo, a public relations consultant, details in his profile a special assignment in which he worked with Wafah bin Laden, the niece of Osama bin Laden. At the time, Wafah was being ridiculed by the public and struggled to even get through the day. Valvo worked to get her front-page coverage and an interview with Barbara Walters to help Wafah build a positive image.
Valvo's profile includes an interesting soundbite of him "working the room." This practice includes greeting every person he knows in every room he enters. Alongside pictures of Valvo socializing over drinks, the profile includes background noise of the socializing, bringing the scene to life for listeners.
What make these, and all the other "One in 8 Million" profiles, special is that the audio is set side-by-side with photographs that enhance the story. The stories are driven by the individuals, not a narrator. In this way, the pieces are more authentic and intimate than a documentary profiling citizens of New York.
Live tweeting is one way to follow a story if you cannot be there, but what about a day or two after the event? This is where Storify comes in. The social media and web curating software is an excellent tool to compile social news and present it in one place. In this way, it was perfect for compiling #loweclass's coverage of Marquette University's annual Mission Week.
Members of the group covered one of two events, the opening keynote address by Carolyn Woo or Bonnie Blair and Catherine Hicks's "Go For Gold With Your Life!" We live tweeted the event and wrote vignettes about people involved with Mission Week. Creating a Storify account of the event was the next step in order for readers to re-experience the event, as if it was happening in real time.
The Storify above, "Marquette Mission Week 2015," highlights the presentation by Blair and Hicks, a talk that touched on the importance of serving others regardless of social status. Lori Bergen, dean of Marquette's Diederich College of Communication, moderated the discussion between Blair and Hicks.
Covering this event, in real time on Twitter and afterward on Storify, showed the various ways journalists can use social media. Without needing to do several interviews, Storify allows users to implant multiple perspectives directly from individuals. It includes content from all parts of the Internet to tell one story.
Click here to read the Storify about Blair and Hicks' speech.
Meet Jeremy Ault: Humanitarian Worker, Bike Enthusiast, Band Member and Volunteer
Instead of pursuing a five-day-a-week, 9-5 job in a cubicle after graduation, Jeremy Ault chose to establish a humanitarian aid office in Milwaukee, over 4,500 miles from the organization's headquarters.
Ault is the American director of Diakonie ECCB: Center of Humanitarian and Development Aid, a nonprofit aid program that uses creativity and empowerment to focus on "Helping People Stand on Their Own." He works to build relationships with donors in the United States to fund the group's aid and education initiatives in Ethiopia and Moldova. Much of his time is spent meeting with church groups and philanthropists to raise awareness about Diakonie.
After volunteering in AmeriCorps and working for the Czech Evangelical Brethren Church in the Czech Republic, Ault came to Marquette University and studied history in the Trinity Fellows Program. This is where his path crosses with #loweclass. The group is profiling current members and alumni of the program in a digital project similar to CNN's "The Undecided."
The profile on Ault will go beyond that of his fundraising work with Diakonie. Ault volunteers at the Urban Ecology Center, fixing bikes for children, and serves as an ambassador for the Wisconsin Bike Fed. In the free time that remains, Ault can be found playing drum pad in the band NO/NO. These will all be used in video and photo elements that accompany the long-form profile.
Look for posts in the coming months about the #loweclass project and the final piece about the Trinity Fellows Program. It will be here in a flash.
Bringing Marquette's Mission Week to Life, the Pressures of Managing the Tech Crew
The lights fade on the audience and rise on a stage lined with chairs and microphones. The background video fades into a still image in a seamless transition. Cameras flash to capture the opening remarks of the Mission Week speakers that the hundreds of people have come to see.
In a darkened control center hundreds of feet way, Rosie Hawk, technical services assistant coordinator for the Alumni Memorial Union, makes Mission Week possible. Most days, her work goes unnoticed.
"It comes down to us," she said of the pressure placed on tech staff. "Everyone knows when we do something wrong,"
Marquette University committees spend months planning and creating the multimedia for Mission Week. Hawk and her crew are in charge of the entire presentation. Each event's videos, sound and lighting are managed from the control center using a system of monitors, control panels and switches.
Hawk, in her third year as a full-time staff member, has worked on the tech side of Mission Week for seven years. During an event, her focus is often on the technical side and not the actual event. After bringing the lights up on countless world leaders in social justice, though, one speaker stands out.
It was a nun working in Africa who was recognized as an Opus Prize recipient in Marquette's 2013 Mission Week. Growing up, Hawk had a close family friend who was a nun in Africa. The speaker reminded Hawk of all the lessons that friend taught her. She said that it was a special opportunity to put on that event.
As the audience files out of another Mission Week event, Hawk completes her work for the night. The routine is the same regardless of who spoke. She shuts down the projectors and clicks off the sound system. The lights of the stage dim once more, the bookend of another successful presentation by the tech crew.
"If we're doing our job right, you won't notice (us) at all."
A chance to see the world from the perspective of a 6-foot-2, aspiring human rights journalist. Will include lessons learned and reflections.