First J2150 Post: Speaking Out

Disclosure: For the remainder of this semester, I will be dedicating my personal blog to education (i.e., I have to write blog posts for class). Enjoy.

Rather than spending my Saturday morning lazily watching TV shows or productively cleaning my room, I’ve spent that last six hours scouring the internet for interesting multimedia pieces essential to both my Multimedia class, as well as Fundamentals of Photojournalism. In my search, I came across an audio slideshow produced by the LA Times several years ago titled “A boy’s struggles.” It is the tragic story of a young boy who had been molested by a school employee as a kindergartener, but now, being several years later, is able to tell his story. Find it here.

What made this audio slideshow so compelling for me was the way in which the photographer, Liz O. Baylen, took each photograph. Baylen was able to get extremely intimate images of the family involved. However, each of her photographs maintains a degree of anonymity of the subjects. We never see a full face throughout the entire slideshow. It is understandable that the family would want to remain anonymous due to the circumstances of their story, and though we never truly see the subjects, Baylen captures every intimate moment to perfection. Her work is captivating and thought provoking.

The audio used along with the photographs was phenomenal. The story is told by the victim, as well as his mother, providing two unique perspectives to the same situation. The emotion in their voices is raw and powerful. The boy provides a first person experience for the story, but his mother’s love is what truly brings the story together. The boy was brave enough to tell his parents what had happened, thus preventing it from happening to others. His mother tells of how proud she is of her son for coming forward and the viewer can feel the battle of emotions going through her in that moment. Hatred for the man who has done this, love for her son, betrayal by the school district and remorse in herself for not discovering the incidents sooner.

While watching this brief video, I came to the realization that these horrifying events happen all too often. For this week’s blog post, Shane (my super cool J2150 teacher) didn’t give us a prompt. He said to write what you want. But at the end, he attached a video produced by ESPN about a sexual assault that happened no more than a few miles of where I am currently writing this post. Tom Farrey and Nicole Noren of EPSN investigated a story that had to do with the former University of Missouri swimmer, Sasha Menu Courey. The tale is a tragedy through and through. This 20-year-old, with so much promise and life, ended everything due to sexual assault. If you have 15 minutes, I highly encourage you to watch this. I found that I was very disappointed in the way in which the university employees involved handled Sasha’s mental instability. I would never blame them for what happened to Sasha because it was clearly the fault of her attacker(s), but I feel that the situation could have been handled in a very different way. I didn’t know Sasha, nor had I heard of this incident until today, so I know that I don’t have all the facts. However, I will say that sexual assault can cause severe instability, therefore, each and every victim should be treated with patience and kindness regardless of the situation.

These two instances of sexual assault had very different results. It was truly a matter of speaking out that marks the difference. Take a few minutes to watch these two clips if you haven’t already. Both are results of phenomenal journalism. And if you know someone/are someone that is a victim, please understand that help is only a conversation away.

Dang. This got really heavy for a first blog post. Sorry guys… I don’t know what I’m doing here.

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Writing

I’ve never been a particularly good writer. I’m the type that dreams up great ideas and stories to tell, but when push comes to shove, I lose it. An empty computer scream sits on my lap while I drink another unnecessary latte that I know I’ll regret later and I just give up. Frustration wins in the end and I exit out of the fresh word document.

I’ve never been eloquent. I just used autocorrect to spell eloquent. I’m the type of writer whose best friend is the synonym option to make my wording seem more elegant. I hate myself for this, but here I am. Writing my stupid thoughts while walking on a treadmill. I guess I get inspired during times in which I should be more concerned with falling off a moving machine. Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be the first time. I once thought running on a treadmill while wearing a snuggie was a grand idea. Lawlz.

Funny enough, despite my total lack of confidence in my writing, I’ve been given the opportunity to write a weekly column for the University of Missouri’s MOVE Magazine, an insert in the newspaper known as The Maneater. It’s nothing great. I wish I could tell you that my column will be full of wisdom, political opinion or investigative reporting. It’s not. My column is called The Single Girl Diaries. It’s basically my version of Sex and the City sans sex and city. I will be telling stories of my horribly awkward life, so prepare yourselves. I’ll be extremely open, vulnerable and with a little luck, humorous.

With the new year in full swing, I’ve decided it’s time for me to begin an experiment. I want to write. I want to be a good writer. I just finished up my first News class towards my journalism major with a B. I hate Bs. The only letters in the English language I like less than Bs are Cs, Ds and Fs. My professor was very kind when I asked him about my grade, stating, “Considering that you said you were a photojournalist and not a writer…you did well.” I’m taking it as a compliment regardless of whether or not it was one.

So I guess what I’m saying is that this is the beginning. The beginning of my writing career. Though photography is my true passion, the written word is intertwined with a certain magic that I hope to unwind. Hold me to it. Even if you dislike my writing or hate my opinions, make me do this.

Thank you for your time and I wish you the best of luck with your own resolutions as well.