This class (wk 12) was a great introduction to the way of the Web. For someone who has been toying with the idea of learning basic web design skills (me), the description of HTML and CSS and how they work together was empowering.

HTML is used to build the structure of a Web site, while CSS supplies the style. If HTML code is properly applied, it builds a framework for the site, the look of which can be systematically modified by the application of CSS.

HTMLdog is a great resource for a budding web designer. Who knows, that might be me.

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This entry was written at least a month ago. I just realized I never published it:

Luckily, I mistakenly thought the sound file for Soundslides 1 was due last week so I edited it nearly two weeks in advance of today’s assignment. Sometimes (rarely) my mistakes benefit me. If I’d waited, I never would have wrapped up the file in time. Audacity, the sound editing program, is easy to use, but that doesn’t reduce the difficulty of slicing and rearranging sound bites in a precise and pleasing way. Lots of time is required.

My biggest sticking point was organizing the snippets I cut from the main file. In my mind I had an idea of order, but I had to keep searching for the track that held that particular cut through a list of about 10 or 11 different tracks. I realize there must be an easier, faster, more efficient way! Keeping clips all on one track might help.

Despite the labor intensive aspects of editing sound, I enjoy doing it. I like gathering it: Opening my mind to all the sounds around me, interviewing and constructing a full image of the story from sound. Of all the aspects of the soundslides, I think sound can contribute the most.

Blogging is time intensive.

Second soundslides, not as good as the first!

I reviewed Muslims in Gainesville During Ramadan.

I enjoyed viewing it. The information was interesting and informative. The sound was clear.

I don’t find the classic elements of a story here — a conflict and a resolution. It seems more like an explanation of the experience of Ramadan, followed by a description of how it happens. This is interesting, but I don’t know if there is a moment of reflection, or conflict needing resolution. There is one nice quote that seems close to a moment of reflection, something along the lines of “Gives a chance to remember that Allah is with you throughout the day.”

I missed a main character. The soundslides was more a description of what the group did, and I felt I would have liked more about the voice and the voice’s personal interaction with the religious holiday.

The beginning, with the call to prayer and the early images of prayer, were very engaging. I thought the title page was clear, though the title might have been crafted to be less literal.

The last third of the soundslides through to the end when the character describes his experience with Ramadan in a few sentences (mentioned above) resonated with me the most.

In the narrative there was only one mention of students, and no connection as to how this experience connects with students or campus life. I cheated to see if this was explained in the captions, but didn’t see it there either. I would have to say this story is about 1 percent student life, and 99 percent a explanation of Ramadan for the uninformed. I must say that it succeed very well in this mission, which to me has a lot of value.

The single best thing about the story is the quote about how Ramadan allows time to recognize God in your life and how you would never forget to fast because you become so attuned to the presence of god and why you are doing this. I would recommend starting the story with this line.

I was walking to class one day about a month ago and heard the carillon bells chiming out a tune. It dawned on me: here is the topic for my first soundslides story. I figured then that it had potential for great sound, great visuals from the Century Tower, and an interesting story about how the carillon adds to campus life. I hope the final product hit at least some of that potential.

While shooting for our photo 1 assignment, I experienced first hand how different it is to shoot photos for a slide show package than it is to shoot images to accompany a print story. I had to think about the subject in a completely different way.

With the photos I took of a student who plays the carillon, I had to illustrate a story. I imagined a librarian reading a children’s book to a group of kids who sit in a circle at her feet. He reads, then turns the page and holds the book up to the show the kids the image of the main character in action. What are the key elements in those often simple illustrations, and how could I capture them in my photos? How do they serve to tell the story?

As I was capturing sound and waiting for the student to arrive and take me up into the tower (yes! I arrived early!), a girl walked up and actually read the informational marker in front of the tower. Perfect! Here I was, telling a story about how the tower connects with life on campus and I have a chance to take a picture of a student interested in the tower. Perfect, I thought.

girl-reads-sign.jpg

Well… On second thought, not so much. It was busy, kind of boring… Less than necessary. Instead, as I talked to the actual subject of my story later, I realized SHE was the obvious student connection to the tower, duh! I realized, (eureka!) that when I combined images of her playing with audio clips of her involvement with the unusual instrument, the story would be told. Thinking of a story in overlapping layers is new to me. This is a story in 3-D.

For overview, I shot some photos to emphasize the size and prominence of the bell tower:

bell-tower-sm.jpg

Quantity of images most certainly differs from print. Getting 20 nice to decent photos from a single story with a single subject was more challenging than illustrating a broader topic in print in three photos. Well, at this stage in my photojournalism career it was, anyway. Maybe I’m just more comfortable or better acquainted with editing huge concepts down, or culling lots of images for two or three of the best, than I am at portraying a simple topic in great detail.

To tell you the truth, getting in-depth on a simple topic can be very illuminating. And finding ways to tell the story visually is challenging and exciting. In print journalism, writers are told to look for the telling details.

One of the detail shots I took focused on the bell clapper mechanism.

pulleys.jpg

In creating this visual, audio package (with captions) a journalist has three ways to express those details. As we have seen in examples in class, some packages succeed in one of the three storytelling methods. It would be nice to get it right in all three.

At the core of the issue of ethics in journalism — and the related issue of building and maintaining readership trust — is the manner and method of the news collection process and public awareness of it. Of all the professional guidelines Kobre offers on whether photographers should shoot or refrain, the idea of the photographer imagining having to explain to the reader how the photo was taken seems the most effective.

If, for example, a photographer had to report that she watched as a little girl suffered, trapped behind the wheel of a wrecked automobile, while she composed the perfect shot, I think the photog would realize the ends of getting a gripping image do not outweigh the means.

If photographers maintained this standard, media would be on the way to building readers’ trust. The results of those decisions would be images most readers could emotionally and intellectually process. I think even today the journalist standards of news gathering are a mystery to the average reader —a mystery that creates a growing divide between professional and public. Kobre cites studies highlight the growing differences between what editors and public think about which photos are appropriate to print. From them, it appears the public has become increasingly unaccepting of the motives or decisions of journalists. What has changed during the time spans mentioned in these studies? … Journalistic standards? Methods of communication? Public attitudes? The world? All of the above?

Editorial decisions touch the lives of millions of people each day. Journalism is a powerful profession; the business of which is not founded on laws, but on shifting and evolving professional standards. If the public had some knowledge of the news values and professional standards behind an editor’s decision to run a photo or story, they might be equipped to understand the business for what it is — an institution with an critical mandate built on the heroism and fallibility of human beings.

To demystify the process of news/photo collection and selection, and to introduce the public to the human decisions made on a daily basis that control the content of the news, public schools should include in the curriculum courses in media criticism, news standards, theory and ethics.

If people were so informed, they might be empowered to participate in a civil society, rather than fear press power or uncritically accept, for example, the mediated words of a politician on a smear campaign. Informed readers may be less likely to want to hide from gruesome but profoundly true images, and more likely to create an informed opinion about the issues raised by the photos a professional photographer and editor have placed on the page.

In class last week I heard the first tip for successful news photography – arrive early and stay late. I learned the truth of this the hard way yesterday when my camera and I left the John Kerry Town Forum at UF’s University Auditorium just before the final question was fully answered and about five minutes before one Andrew Meyer took the mic.

The rest is national news. After Meyer heatedly asked questions of Kerry about why he didn’t contest the 2004 election or make moves to impeach Bush, four to six uniformed officers pulled Meyer away from the microphone and forced him toward the exit. Before he reached the doors, Meyer ended up on the floor under a pig pile of officers, one of whom eventually Tasered him.

One blogger had the images and scoop.

I’m left with 100 photos shot from various angles and elevations of Senator John Kerry gesticulating.

Journalists’ toolkit will help me put my “old journalism” skills to work in a “now journalism” format.

The office where I work is not too far behind the latest means for communicating information to a broad audience, but it might as well be. Being just a bit behind in today’s rapidly changing media world leaves an organization far off the pace. By taking this course I hope to become an informed and self-sufficient user of on-line media in my work at the University of Florida. I enjoy photography and sound recording and editing. I hope to learn more about the equipment and methods to link images, text and sound to create compelling stories using Soundslides software.

These technical skills will also allow me to enhance the Web site of the monthly independent print paper I publish in Gainesville called Satellite Magazine.

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About me

I have a cute dog. His name is Simmy. He is a Florida Brown Dog.