Multimedia Journalism

This page is a review of all the work I did for my Multimedia Journalism class I took Fall Semester 2009 at Elon University.

Final Reflection Essay

This class has been a great one for me. It been nice putting into practice many of the things I have learned during my four years at Elon and working with people who have so many talents and backgrounds different from my own. Though the technical difficulties faced this semester were quite the pain in my backside, I know that is a part of the real world that I need to get used to ASAP.

My favorite part of this course was being able to choose all our assignments and how we wanted to do them. I loved the creative freedom it offered and how it let the students decide how they wanted to do the work. I had the most fun on the ‘Places that Matter’ story, mainly because I was able to work with my roommate and friends for the piece. I can honestly say that was one of the things I had a lot of fun doing this semester. Dan Martins is right, there really is something special about Sheetz.

As for things I didn’t like so much, it did seem like some classes had no point to them and sometimes we would go a while without doing a story (which was also fine at times when I was loaded down with work from other classes). Like Professor Scott has mentioned before, this class would be a perfect one to have more than one teacher teaching the class. Because multimedia journalism encompasses so many different skills, we should have teachers with all those skills helping teach the class. They don’t even all have to show up for every class. One day, have a teacher come in and teach about writing. The next day, have a teacher come in and talk about web layout. And so on and so forth.

From this course, I will take many things: what I have learned about technology and how to use it, the work ethic needed to do stories like this everyday (like in a newsroom), how important web layout and design is to any website (it’s just as important as the content of the website) and how important it is to be able to work in a group and get along well with others, among various other things.

It was also nice to get an update on what was going on the media world every now and then by hearing stories about the newspaper industry, looking at websites trying to present the news in a different fashion than we are used to and looking at what other classes like ours have done in the past.

As I look at the world of journalism now, I look forward with both fear and excitement, and both for the same reason: because no one knows what exactly to expect. Journalism has now become a Wild West-esque frontier, a world that no one really knows and where no one knows the full potential of the new land they have found. Just look at how much journalism has changed in the past four years alone. It is mind-boggling to look back at media coverage then and how it has changed today and how it will change in another four years. I do look forward with my head held high though, keeping hope that somewhere in this untamed frontier I can find a job and help blaze a trail fro numerous journalists after me to follow. It is thrilling to be among the first in this new wave of do-it-all journalists who represent the future of the media.

Places That Matter- We did a story on places that have meaning to people. Sounds enough right? Luckily for me, one of my roommates has a borderline unhealthy obsession with Sheetz. I followed him one night with an HD to see what his voyages were like. The following is the result:

One Man’s Love of Sheetz

By Russell Varner

Elon senior Dan Martins has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years, but there has always been a constant for him, one thing that has yet to change: his love for Sheetz.

A gas station/restaurant found in busy locations along East Coast highways from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, Sheetz has become a mainstay in Martins’ life, a place where he can go to relax and socialize in the distinctively modern, red surroundings . He enjoys nothing more than his “pilgrimages” to Sheetz, especially if he can open the eyes of a someone new to the attractions of what Martins calls “heaven on Earth.”

The big project we did for the class was a big story on the relationship between Elon students and the communities surrounding it. Here are the stories I did: two main pieces – one a main overview of the project and the other an interview with high ranking town officials- and two videos of people’s experiences with the other group.

Crossing the Street:
How Elon University students relate with local residents

By David Koontz, Russell Varner and Sophie Duensing

Elon University is attempting to expand and develop, both in size and national reputation.

As the new decade approaches, the administration has announced a new 10-year plan for the university, called Imagine Elon. This involves expanding on-campus facilities, the student body size and the athletics program. As Elon strives to become a nationally recognized and valued university, it is also looking at what needs to be done on the home front in the local community.

Two-thirds of Elon students arrive from other states residents and come from different backgrounds. This raises questions: Can the students fit in with Alamance County living? And can residents here feel comfortable with Elons students?

One concern is that students often limit their interactions within the community, unaware of what the surrounding communities have to offer. But on another scale, Elon’s leaders and the students are leading initiatives to branch out and open up to people in the surrounding areas.

Despite their tension and disconnection, Elon students are dependent on local restaurants, stores and people, as the people, stores and restaurants are dependent on Elon students as well.

When often all that physically separates the two groups is a street, what can be done to bridge this divide and develop the relationships beyond solely economic dependency?

We take a look at views from community members and Elon students, the university’s president’s plans for the future and the impact Elon University has on the community through retail, community service and educational outreach.

Ryan Mintz Interview

Daniel King and Phil Fulton 

The other Elon: The town named after the university

By Russell Varner, David Koontz and Sophie Duensing

We sat down with Elon Mayor Jerry Tolley, Town Manager Mike Dula and Town Planner Sean Tencer to ask about their opinions on the Elon student/local citizens relationship.

How would you describe the relationship between Elon students and community members?
Tolley:
Through the years, there’s been an overall wonderful relationship between the town and the university. Every now and then, things can be strained a little bit, but for the most part, they are good. Before I was involved, there were more strained relationships.

How do the university and community stay in contact?
Dula:
Talking with (Vice President for Business, Finance and Technology) Gerald Whittington, he’s been here since ’92. Our relationship with them has several facets; probably the major one is that we are the provider for their water and sewer.
Tolley:
The university and the town try to work very closely together. Our town officials meet with university staff almost on a weekly basis when kids are in town to see if anything happened the previous Friday, Saturday night that everybody should be aware of.

What is it like working in a college town like Elon?
Tolley:
When you live in a college town, you have to understand that college students operate on a different time table than the rest of us. Most people in the town go to bed around 10:30 or 11 p.m., and that’s when students are just getting geared up.
Tencer: There are times when certain circumstances arise between students and locals, but I think it’s just isolated incidents. You’re going to get that anywhere.

Will it cost money for the town to adjust around the university?
Dula:
It can, but most of the time they will pay us for it. We buy our water from Burlington, but Elon pays its bills to us. (Elon reimburses the town for all the water expenses.) The other thing that it involves is zoning and rezoning. They might have to come to the town planning board to change the zoning. Anything that’s over 30,000 square feet in size buildings, like Linder building, has to come through a review process with the town.

What do you think of the university’s new 10-year-plan?
Dula:
I think what they are proposing is in areas that they already occupy, and I do expect it to benefit the town. The university doesnt pay property tax. But, if you live on campus you are counted in the town population. It counts in our population. It helps the town with the receipt of sales tax money. Sales taxes are our second biggest revenue, after property taxes.
Tolley: With this new 10-year-plan, when the university’s going do that, they just have to let the town know.

As Elon tries to make itself more well known on a national and international level, what must it do to keep a good relationship with the locals?
Tolley: I’d say just continue the same path, always be open to communications both ways.
Tencer: The whole thing is about partnership. They just need to make sure they maintain a strong relationship with the community, and we need to make sure we keep an open line of communication with them.

Shoe Story – For class, we were required to do a story on the shoes people wear, what they mean to them and how their shoes help define them. I chose to do my story on Aaron Moger, a member of Elon University’s club baseball team.

It doesn’t matter what cleats or level baseball, it’s all the same to Aaron Moger
It is a cold, dreary Tuesday in September. Right outside Elon, an optional practice is held for Elon’s club baseball team on its home field, a baseball field that doesn’t even have an outfield fence. Though it is optional, over half of the team shows up in a light drizzle for the practice. Among them is Aaron Moger, a sophomore pitcher for the team.

IMG_0594He shows up, like many of the others, in a t-shirt and athletic shorts, a far cry from the practice uniforms worn by the varsity team. He ties up his cleats, and realizes something about them he didn’t notice before: these were the Nike cleats that had Alex Rodriguez’s nickname, A-Rod, on them. Moger, an avid Red Sox fan, couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I’ve had these cleats just before I got to Elon and never noticed,” said Moger. “I never really cared that much. As long as they are comfortable, then I don’t mind. Just wish these could’ve been Youkilis cleats instead.”

In middle school, he would go through a pair of cleats each year because of his growth spurt. Now though, his shoes usually last him up to six years.

IMG_0586“The old ones I had had holes in them, so I decided I should probably get some new ones before college,” said Moger. “I chose these ones because they sorta match Elon’s colors. I thought I’d be pretty clever doing that. They are by far the most comfortable, nicest cleats [I’ve ever had] and I really like them.”

Moger, who has been playing baseball since he was a little boy, is glad that he is playing club baseball instead of varsity. It fits his style better, he said.

“[It’s] lots of fun and it’s perfect for me. I think I am at the talent level where if I did make varsity, I’d be on the bench a lot. Being on club, I get to play a lot, I’m successful and I’m against/with guys around my skill level, which I really enjoy. It’s a lot more laid back than a varsity baseball team.”

On top of this, playing on a club team has allowed Moger to participate in many other clubs and aspects of college that he feels he wouldn’t get to if he was on the varsity team.

“There’s just more I want out of my college experience than selling my life to a single sport,” he said. “I’ve been able to get involved in a lot of other stuff with club baseball, TV shows; it’s definitely been the right choice for me.”

IMG_0591After some warm up throws with teammates, Moger knocks a little grass off his cleats as the team huddles up to go over what they’ll practice today. The team breaks the huddle and runs out to the field, Moger at the pitcher’s mound. After a few warm up tosses, they have a live at bat. Moger toes the rubber three times, and each pitch is a strike. Moger looks down at his cleats.

“That was definitely more like Papelbon. I’m gonna have to write Papelbon on these cleats after practice.”

To view a slideshow from the practice, visit http://voicethread.com/share/626250/.


Here are some individual assignments and stories that we had to do for class.

Texas Tribune
David Carr Article
The article definitely provides a good look into this new type of newspaper and how it could change the face of online news as we know it. David Carr does a good job talking about niche newspapers and the theories behind it and on why people believe they could work. I personally believe that this could work, but it would have to challenge with blogs that already cover the same type of news. The question will become which will people trust more, and that is going to determine the future of these niche online newspapers and of some blogs as well.

Texas Tribune Website
The layout for this site is interesting. I’m personally not a fan of it, though I’m not a hundred percent sure why. It just does not catch me and something real appealing right off the bat. I’m not a big fan of the yellow, white and black color layout. I’m also not a fan of this particular niche, being a huge sports fan and I am not from that area, so most of these stories do not interest me. But I can see how someone from the area would love a site like this. I’d like to see a few more pictures or videos or something multimedia, though. This just seems like another regular website to me at first glance.

Reflecting on 10,000 Words
Much like everyone else, McKenna Ewen’s website stood out to me as the most impressive. Not only were his stories extremely interesting, but the way he presented it I felt was much more attention-grabbing and interesting than Mathilde Piard’s or Chris Tompkins’ (though Tompkins’ was the most engaging and interactive out of the three websites). As a sports fan, I loved looking at Ewen’s presentation on the University of Minnesota’s first home football game in their new stadium and at the photo story on the Vikings-Packers game (Brett Favre’s first game against the team he played for for 16 years). Additionally, his photo of Twins centerfielder Brendan Harris robbing Alex Rodriguez of a grand slam is incredible.

I love the way he presents the stories and how he talks about the difference between newspapers and internet stories. Newspaper stories can only print what they have at the time, but internet can continually add new features or news to the story whenever they want to. It really can change a story a lot when you are given an extra hour or two to write a story for a newspaper. I really how Ewen put his stories together and how he presented them. Many young journalists could learn a lot from him.

The layout for the website is good as well. The demo video that suddenly pops up after the website loads can be annoying and is the one thing I would can about the site, but everything else is great, from the links to the stories to the blog-esque column he writes. This is the type of website we should try to model ours after.

Multimedia Project Idea
http://blogs.courierpostonline.com/visualjournalist/2009/06/07/twin-peeks/
I was thinking of doing similar to this, but instead of it being on twins, have it be on local residents and Elon students. You could put both students and local residents in the same picture or have it just be some students in one picture and local residents in another. Along with the pictures, we could include some sound clips from the people as well. I think this would be a nice little addition to our story and could help it out a lot. Or we could try to find a “stereotypical” student and/or resident and compare how he/she looks to what the typical student/resident looks like (of course, we’d also have to figure out what the typical student/resident is ourselves). I think there’s a lot of possibilities to something from this idea.

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