OOPS – SORRY LIZ (and everyone else for my excessive blogging)

writingsuccess

I dropped the ball when it comes to sharing my work (at least the little work I’ve done) for The Columbia Missourian.

I’ve written three and a half articles this semester, my favorite being an investigative piece about whether or not the use of travel hammocks is allowed on MU’s campus. I discovered that not only are they not allowed at MU, but they aren’t allowed in ANY Columbia park.

Fortunately, it’s more of a suggestion. They’ve only given warnings at this point. Which is good news because I love my hammock and will probably continue to use it in Peace Park.

Here are the links to all the stories I’ve written thus far:

MU Museum of Art and Archaeology galleries delayed due to renovations

This story caused me a lot of problems. It was my first piece and I screwed up. I completely misunderstood a HUGE part and when fact checking, I didn’t even think to ask for clarification. This resulted in embarrassment and doubt. Not the best way to start out the semester.

MizzouDiversity hosts ‘Forum on Ferguson,’ open dialogue for MU, Columbia community

This story was fairly simple. Just a quick briefing. However, I managed to anger on source because she refused to get back to me while I tried to fact check.

MU celebrates 175 years with a weeklong series of events

LOL. This began as a timeline briefing about events and turned into something much greater. My dear editor took it and made it anew. It is now credited to “Missourian Staff” if that gives you any idea of how much I suck. (Love ya, Liz)

Hammock users, swing at your own risk at MU, city parks

This story has been my favorite. I pitched the idea for it on a slow GA (general assignment) day. I thought it would be quick and easy. No no no. Journalism is not quick and easy, silly Ellise. This story took FIVE DAYS. FIVE. I knew by day two that the usage of hammocks was in fact not allowed, but I needed confirmation and details from a single person that REFUSED to get back to me. I thought it was a simple question, but she didn’t know the answer. When she finally got back to me, she literally sent me a link to a policy THAT I SENT HER FIRST. That obviously did not answer my question. Thankfully, by the next day, I got a much more clear answer and was able to finish my piece.

Overall, The Columbia Missourian has been a great experience. Hard? YES. Stressful? BEYOND WORDS. Have I been hiding in a coffee shop for literally 8 hours now to avoid it? YES.

But I’m beginning to feel more confident in reporting. I know that I’ll be torn apart in my portfolio review tomorrow, but for a girl that just wants to be a photographer and write silly stories about her life, I feel pretty dang proud of myself. I’m trying hard at something that I really hate. I may not be great at it, but I’m getting by.

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Leads – and missed emails

I’d like to start off this blog post with a formal apology to Katherine Reed. I somehow missed an email last week with an assigned blog post so I’m currently sitting outside frantically typing.

launching-creative-motion-gif-im-sorry

Here are three leads I found to discuss:

1. “UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iceland is announcing a U.N. conference on women and gender equality — and only men and boys are invited.

I liked this lead because of the dramatic pause created by the hyphen. It made me want to know WHY Iceland was holding a conference on women and gender equality sans women. I feel like they are an important aspect of women equality and this lead addresses that without outright saying it.

2. “Maybe she poured you a cup of hot coffee, right before you rushed off to catch your afternoon train. Maybe you noticed her huddled over an empty table in the station, dozing in the lonesome hours between one shift and another.

This life story caught my attention from the title: For a Worker With Little Time Between 3 Jobs, a Nap Has Fatal Consequences. I assumed it would be a story of a tragic death, but the lead made the story much more.The lead immediately sets the scene of Maria Fernandes life. It creates an image of a hard-working woman, someone to be celebrated. The article doesn’t even mention her cause of death until the very end, which I deemed extremely respectful of Fernandes. It painted a picture of joy and kindness rather than focusing on her actual death. I thought the lead did a great job introducing that.

3. “We’ve all heard that income inequality is on the rise in the United States, but it might not be clear how bad the problem is until you’ve seen this picture of a dog defecating.

The Huffington Post shared this lovely lead, as well as a picture of a dog actually pooping. I don’t know how I feel about this. Honestly, the lead caught my attention and made me want to read on to better understand the comparison, but I find it slightly inappropriate and potentially offensive to MANY readers. I, however, found it pretty funny. A good lead? Yes and no. It does the job of a good lead, but maybe the story is what isn’t so great.

Woes of Journalism

This semester, I’ve been given the opportunity to take the class News Reporting in which I act as a real-life, adult reporter. We even have to dress business casual. I’ve never owned anything business casual in my life.

For the first few weeks, I’ve focused a large portion of my time on only a couple of projects (many of which have fallen through). We were told two to three clips a week is ideal. I’ve had two and a half in four weeks. Not ideal.

This week, I had my third general assignment shift, which means I sat in the newsroom all day. My job was to pick up any stories that came our way. It was a fairly slow Monday, so I managed to come up with my own story. It was something I was passionate about and genuinely curious to discover and answer to my question: Are hammocks allowed on MU’s campus?

Who knew such a simple question was so difficult to answer? I’ve spent the past three days waiting for one person to get back to me. I’ve gathered all the information necessary for the story. I’ve spoken with law enforcement, students and MU, but the one person I NEED to hear from has yet to get back to me. I already know the answer, but I need clarification and details.

After three emails and five phone calls, the only response I’ve managed to get from this person is that they’re “looking into this but have not found specific policies yet.”

I know the answer. I found the policy. I just need them to confirm it. That’s it. Why is journalism so hard? I just want to be a photographer.

Sharing – Too Much

What ever happened to a time where people just enjoyed the moments around them? When did we become so obsessed with sharing everything? Yes, I plan to be a photojournalist after graduating college, but I don’t feel the incessant desire to photograph or record every waking second of my life. I like to just enjoy some experiences. There is a time, a place and absolutely a limit on the ridiculous amount people share.

For example, a few weeks ago, I (unashamedly) attended a One Direction concert in St. Louis. There were estimated to be 54,000 people there — the majority being 12-year-old girls and their less-than-thrilled dads. Granted, I knew what I was getting myself into, but there is a huge difference between “knowing” and “experiencing.” As I walked into the Edwards Jones Dome, I was overcome with the sound of shrieking tweens and a bass from the speaker system so loud that I felt my stomach vibrating.

Once I finally adjusted to the noise, I was ready. I’ve had a fangirl crush on these four British and one Irish boys since their days after the X-Factor and I was ready to watch their performance live. It was obviously going to be great because they were discovered on a talent show, rather than being some loser lip-sync crew given a record deal for their looks (though their looks are a bonus).

Harry dancing because he's so good looking

Harry dancing because he’s so good looking

By the time the show actually began, I, along with three other 20-somethings, had been waiting for two hours. The opening perfomer came and went, but it was finally time for the boys. Screams erupted everywhere. You’d think they’d witnessed some horrific accident, but no. It was simply the tiny figures of five boys 100 yards away.

As they began to sing, I found myself grinning like it was Christmas morning and Santa had given me everything I had on my list. I felt so stupid, but I was so dang giddy that I didn’t care. If you can imagine the feeling of seeing your favorite celebrity in person and multiply it by five, you will begin to grasp my excitement. I’ve never been into the teeny-pop fan base before 1D, but in that moment, I was infinite. Utter bliss.

Then the 12-year-old in front of me did the unthinkable. She held up her unbelievably huge cell phone/tablet and blocked my view. I haven’t felt the violent rage that slowly grew in my stomach since my ridiculous brother would kick me from our respective timeout corners behind my mom’s back. The flames in my stomach began to dance as she continued hold her enormous phone at my eye level. She couldn’t be that oblivious. I wanted to turn to her mother, but I felt pathetic getting so angry about my lack of view. So I dealt with it. Ever so often, the tween put her phone down, but only when her arms were too tired. What on earth was she going to do with 8,000 photos of the same thing? We were too far back for the photos to show any information. The only thing the camera registered were the colorful lights blinding the crowd. It was too loud to record any good audio. So why was still doing this?

Example 1: View behind the phone.

Example 1: View behind the phone.

Example 2: View behind the phone.

Example 2: View behind the phone.

What was the point? You took your crappy photos. The whole time. What did you gain? You were so focused and consumed with the idea of sharing your blurred streaks of color with your “friends” (random Facebook/Twitter/Instagram followers) that you missed the entire concert and ruined it for me.

When are we going to stop? I’ll be completely honest, I’m a hypocrite in writing this because I, too, probably (definitely) overshare, but never to the caliber that I’m hindering someone else’s experience. Life is about the experience. Not how many likes you get on your Jackson Pollock of a photo.

Angry rant over – Ellise

The Come to Jesus Meeting

One Eye Open

I was talking with one of my classmates after having been discouraged by my apparently singular lack of knowledge about my equipment, expressing how I needed to sit down and get intimate with my stuff. Her next words made me laugh and feel so encouraged about learning.

“Ugh, I need to do the same. I need a come to Jesus meeting with my camera.”

It was so incredibly reassuring to know that I was not alone in my struggles. That someone else felt almost as lost as I did do. 

My roommate noticed my sulking, too, and I spilled my guts to him about my insecurities. He was super cool to me about it, even though I felt so embarrassed. 

“That’s the first step though, right? You know that there’s things you don’t know.” 

And he’s right. Knowing that I have this serious gap is the first step in remedying…

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Hello World – Again.

Well…Here we are again. Another school year, another required blog. However, this year I will be reporting for The Columbia Missourian. Things are getting serious around here, but before they get too serious, here’s what you’ve missed since the last time we met. 

 

Summertime. Three delightful months of fun in the sun, friends, happiness and no homework, right? WRONG. At least not for me. My summer was not at all what I’d anticipated. I knew that my goal this summer was to make money, but I didn’t think that’d be working six days a week and spending my one free day each week in the hospital. 

I worked two jobs this summer. For the past five years, I’ve been a cave guide at Talking Rocks Cavern in Branson West, Mo. It’s been an absolute blessing to work there. I love the people I work with. They are an extension of my family and I can’t imagine a life without them, but the pay isn’t as great as what I needed this summer. So I told them I would be looking elsewhere for a serving job. It broke my heart, but I did indeed get a job as a server.

If you’ve ever been to Branson, then you’ve probably heard of Dixie Stampede. It is a delightful dinner show where horses jump through hoops of fire, pigs race and buffalos roam, all while the audience is served their own WHOLE CORNISH HENS, as well as other tasty dishes, equalling a delicious 3,000 calories. I managed to snag one of these coveted server jobs this summer. You get to wear these extremely unflattering North/South Civil War era uniforms while running around an arena carrying huge trays of food. To say I was a hot sweaty mess this summer is an understatement. But the job only consumed four days a week for me, so I couldn’t resist going back to my beloved cave two days a week. I had four days of profuse sweating and two days of a wonderful 65 degrees underground. 

So there I was, working six exhausting days in row. It made for a quick summer because my weekly prayer was to make it to Tuesdays (my day off) in one piece. Unfortunately, shortly into the summer, this really cute stomach issue I’ve had for several years got really severe. Anytime I eat, I feel nauseous. It’s great. I feel hungry, but I don’t want to eat. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I racked up quite the bill after five or six hospital visits. Finally, they told me it’s “probably stress or anxiety.” What? I (my parents) paid you thousands of dollars to tell me I’m stressed? Well now I’m stressed. 

The worst part of the whole summer is that I live four minutes from the beautiful Table Rock Lake and I didn’t make it to the lake until August. I made a lot of money, that’s for sure. And honestly, it’s a pretty good tradeoff. I plan to study abroad in London this spring, so being able to pay my tuition, housing and food for my entire fall semester makes getting a loan for $20,000 seem a little less horrific. 

Now that I’ve ranted about the bad aspects of my summer, here comes the good news. I still loved it.

I made so many new friends this summer, from servers at Dixie to hospital nurses. I got to spend three glorious months with my family that I love so dearly. I made enough money to support myself (if only for a semester). I slept – REALLY SLEPT – for the first time in months. I turned 20 years old. And finally, I realized how unbelievably blessed I am. I’ve always known I was lucky, but it really hit me this summer. So even though I may have a rare disease, didn’t get to focus on photography as much as I’d liked to, and didn’t have a lot of fun in the sun, I still had a great summer. 

Now I’m just hoping for a stress free school year (lol. News Reporting), improved writing/photographing skills and sweater weather. 

Mobile

I’ve always been very opposed to mobile journalism. As a photoj student, I fear that my job is in jeopardy. The world cares more about speed than quality, while I disagree.

Regardless, it’s silly to pretend like mobile journalism isn’t a huge part of the future. Events like the Boston Marathon Bombing last year prove that speed is superior to quality in cases of breaking news stories.

Though I prefer a more documentary approach to journalism, I do believe in the importance of getting out information to the public in a timely manner, and that often means that quality is disregarded.

That being said, with the advancement of technology, mobile journalism has taken on a much higher quality than it once had. iPhone photography has taken off, creating stunning images. Several photographers even do entire projects on their phones.

For this assignment, Shane had us take photos with our phones and share them. These are two of mine.

The first is a typical college weekend. Friends at Kaldi’s Coffee in downtown Columbia working on homework and over-caffeinating.

The second is a picturesque photograph of Jesse Hall, an iconic building on Francis Quadrangle here at MU.

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This entire post was also written on my iPhone using the WordPress app. I know, be impressed.