Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Student takes a stance

While on the hunt for an article about Towson's initiatives to "go green," I came across an article printed in the Moday, November 17th issue of The Towerlight which has helped me to narrow my focus down a bit. In Nick DiMarco's article "Students, community protest coal financers" he writes about a protest by the Baltimore Rising Tide. Througout the article he quotes a Towson student, Amanda Duzak, a senior environmental science and studies major. I am interested in writing a profile piece on Duzak because she obviously cares about the environment and the impacts the human race have on the universe.

Advance Information

I do not have much information on Duzak herself, although I have visited the Baltimore Rising Tide website. There I found the Baltimore chapter is just a small part of the global network to conservation and plans of action to make the planet more sustainable. Specifically about the protest, I know a little about the issue behind the protest on November 14th. A few years ago, I wrote a paper for my environmental science class about the appalacian region. In the paper, I wrote about the working conditions in the coal mines. The protest was part of a chain of protests for Bank of America's investment into coal mining.

Potential Sources
  • Amanda Duzak- She is a Towson Senior and environmental sciences and studies major. She also participated in the protest.
  • Baltimore Rising Tide- The group is working exclusively in the Baltimore area to make the planet greener. They led the protest.
  • Heather Kangas- She is a Towson Junior studying political science. She participated in the protest and may know Duzak.

Potential Questions

  • What inspires you to become active in saving the planet?
  • How important is global conservation to Towson and the surrounding area?
  • Do you feel Towson University is doing enough to "go green"?
  • What are a few simple things each person can do to help the environment?
  • What are your career aspirations?

Photo Possibilities

I would like to take a simple profile shot of Duzak to begin. I would also like to photograph her doing something related to her field. Obviously, I missed the protest, so I probably won't be able get that sort of shot but I would be open to following her to a protest in order to get the action shot. I could also capture her doing something around campus, for example, while she recycles something on the ground.

Audio Possibilities

There are a lot of audio possibilities with Duzak. She has a great deal of enthusiasm for helping the environment so getting her to discuss the importance of this would probably have a lot of emotion for her. I could also get audio of why she got involved with environmental science and conservation efforts. It might also be interesting to have her talk about what her vision of a greener Towson University looks like to her.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can you hear me now?

One of the most effective ways of giving any story life is to give it sound, or audio. By doing so, readers become listeners and are more likely to understand the message or meaning behind the story. One of my favorite web sites that uses audio is "Living on Earth" (LOE). A non-profit organization affiliated with Harvard University, LOE strives to provide "sound journalism for the planet." What I enjoy most about LOE is how host Steve Curwood uses sources from around the country to get different perspectives on many environmental issues. Recently there have been a few guest hosts to raise good questions.

After listening to quite a few podcasts, I understand how online audio files work to help a web site. One thing journalists can do to make a better podcast would be to make sure there is no background noise to distract the listener such as breathing on the microphone or an ambulance passing nearby. Another way to make audio better for web sites is to not make them too long. Like a long story, a long audio file can cause the audience to tune out instead of in. One thing I will aim to fix in my own audio making is the sound levels of the parties involved. For example, during my own practice using audio with classmate Sabrina Lindsey, I found she was more soft spoken than I had been. During the editing process, I found many parts when she spoke were hard to hear. This was my fault as I should have realized this before and moved the microphone accordingly. I feel moving the microphone closer to Sabrina would have been a simple fix to the problem.

To listen to a podcast of the most recent Living on Earth radio show click here. If you would like to listen to the show as it airs tune into WYPR 88.1 FM on Sunday afternoons from 2-3P.M.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Turning negatives into positives: photography lessons

Cutline: The vibrancy of the Towson University campus can be found even when the clouds are grey and students are waist deep in assignments.

Cutline: The Tiger, the prized mascot of Towson University prowls about campus daring any school to compare to its likeness.

Cutline: Towson student Sabrina Lindsey bundles up in multiple layers for a blustery day on campus.
Notes on photography:
Over the past few years, I have worked very diligently to become a better photographer because I often found myself in situations where I was the reporter and the photographer. Simply put, a bad photo doesn't make the front page...or any page for that matter. Even as the editor, I could not stand to put any photo in just because I needed a photo. Many stories went without unfortunatly because of this reason. Then I met a guy who was a photography major and he helped me out with a few tips. Taking some art classes helped me too. Some things I would like to work on would be getting more dynamic shots. Recently, I have tried different angles and I believe it will come down to trial and error. In the fall is coming photo at the top, I would have liked to get the shot a little more defined by focusing more. I am not sure but this might have been a camera issue. Either way, I still like the shot, but it could have stood to be better. I really like my shot of the Towson Tiger. I feel it is interesting and brings the kitty to life. I also want to work on filling the frame with subjects doing interesting things. For example, in the photo of Sabrina (above) I would have liked to get her doing something interesting instead of simply standing for the photo.

Monday, November 3, 2008

When events turn bazaar.

To give a bit of a background for my multi-media story idea, I want to tell a story. A woman I work with met a man on myspace. He seemed very charming and sent flowers to her at work on numerous occasions. Then one day she came to work and announced she was expecting. No one was happier than this man was of the expectant baby. They set out to build a life together and went in search of the perfect two-bedroom apartment. Then he lost his job. Soon after, his charm disappeared as he became belligerent toward my co-worker and even threw her belongings into the street below their apartment. This was the final straw and she moved back home with her family. She then began to realize she might be a single parent. The man left the apartment to stay with friends and left her with the monthly rent payments. The man who seemed so kind now called her in excess of 100 times a day just to hang up. My co-worker got a lawyer to file a peace order because he was causing her intense stress, which was not good for her now softball sized baby. Time passed and it seemed like the storm was over. The peace ceased when her former lover’s lawyer sent a letter to her explaining the man would petition for full custody of the child after birth, assuming the child is his. My colleague is now due in just a couple of months and is in a full on legal dispute over the child.

The story brings me to my story idea. My pregnant co-worker’s sister organized a shopping bazaar to benefit her sister. The proceeds from the event would help defer the cost of the lawyer. What is important about this bazaar is that the woman’s sister wants to continue this idea to help other women who are facing the same issue. The bazaar was on Sunday, November 2. I attended the event and took a few good shots I believe would compliment my final peace. One shot I took used a mirror to reflect the woman’s face. I plan to interview my co-worker about how confident she feels the bazaar will be in helping her. A question I feel is important to ask is how much she truly needs this money. I want to get more of the emotional experience of her predicament. I also planned to interview the organizer while I was there; however, she was extremely busy and told me that I could call her anytime I needed to for questions. Some questions I would like to ask her include what were the goals, if they were achieved and if she does see a future need for another event like this later. At the event, I asked some of the vendors and customers about their experiences. Many told me they really want to see the whole situation resolved so that all parties can walk away happy and healthy, including baby Tommy.