The Sound and The Beauty

This past week, while we were doing our audio section, I started to really think about how what we hear can shape a story. Do you ever realize the true power of a sound?

Think about it. Sure, we always think we need to see our setting, to visualize where we are at. Sometimes, we may even think our vision is the only thing we need to know.

I’ll challenge you on that. 

Yeah, you can walk into a stadium and see you’re in one. But what confirms it? The sounds. You hear the roaring chants of a packed house. You hear the screams and barks of the coaches on the sideline. You hear the blaring music over the loud speakers, pumping everybody up. Events are made by sound, not what you see. 

Every pump of a beat at a concert, every clap in an arena sends a frequency through your heart. Your heartbeat may even adjust to whatever beat is going at the time. But that’s not even the whole gist of it. 

I think the sounds that make the best audio stories have to be the most subtle ones. When you know a storm is coming, and you hear just the slow chime of your bells outside from the wind picking up, that sets a scene better than anything. 

How do you know you just got home? The slow creak of the door opening. Sounds like that are small, but all of them add up to form a library of the places you know. Each location you go to often, you stock away a volume of sounds that you associate with it. It’s kind of like every other sense, but with one little caveat: hearing is our main force of interaction. 

So when a story can be told sufficiently through audio, I think you are hitting the best form of interaction there is. Audio really hits all of your emotions, and sound gives you an instant feeling more than anything else.

Sound: the best way to attack anybody’s emotions. 

The Actual Marine

When I watched The Marlboro Marine in our 2150 class, I think I was exposed to the side of a military man that not many see.

Whenever you see a commercial, feature, or any type of publicity featuring a member of the military, you never see anything negative. All that’s ever talked about is the honor of serving, the magnitude of the sacrifice you are making. Each of those are undoubtedly true and should never be questioned.

But what’s easily forgotten about these men is the toll they take. We certainly think of them as heroes, but we don’t ever think our heroes can be anything but heroic. If you haven’t noticed, being a hero takes a toll.

And man, did this guy really take a toll. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not something to be played with. Dealing with any soldier who suffers from this is a situation that must be taken seriously right off of the bat. The problem is there are too many people who don’t.

They just think soldiers like that took a few too many knocks to the head. “They’ll get over it eventually,” they say.

No. No they won’t. The horrors and tragedies those men have watched and participated in, including senseless killings and unspeakable dangers, are something that could never be understood. That’s why they struggle so much.

The Marlboro Marine is one of those soldiers who can’t even explain why he was there after serving. He may have been one who came in with the idea of protecting freedom, but didn’t know what he had to do to truly protect it. 

I remember him talking about what it takes to kill a man who has done nothing to it. I’ve never really heard a soldier talk like that before, in that kind of manner. It did something for me I thought is never done enough with soldiers.

They’re humanized.

Yes, they do consider some of what they did to be wrong. Yes, it’s not all glory and honor. And yes, some of them may regret ever going to Iraq. 

Moving forward, we need to recognize this more. Whenever we see a soldier, maybe we shouldn’t just tell them how much we appreciate their service. As mentioned in the video, some of them could simply use a, “How are you doing? Are you feeling alright?” 

They need people to talk to, people to care. You might think your gratitude for those who serve was shown by just simply thanking them. But for what these people went through, they deserve a thank you, handshake, and some conversation. As much as we want to paint them as superheroes, we must always remember:

Heroes are people too. And they need as much help as they give. 

Thrown In The Fire

While I was reading Meredith Artley’s article about choosing journalists from the field, one part of it really stood out to me.

Artley, who is the managing editor of CNN’s digital operations, said she did not think a journalism degree was required to become a journalist. Instead of having a general knowledge of the field, she believes candidates would be better suited picking a specific field (like science), and having a deep knowledge of it.

I find this to be an interesting take from a woman who graduated from Mizzou, one of the top J-schools in the world, with a journalism degree. While she said she wouldn’t change her ways, she also said she definitely sounded like she considers those without a degree as much those with one. Is this an acceptable method of hiring?

I’m completely fine with it to some degree. Journalism is a field that, in my view, is all about hands on experience. There is a great deal to learn academically, like the morals and ethics of the field, but so far, I think I have learned the most by actually going out and covering things.

Now, this type of hands on opportunity has been provided by the excellent education provided by the University of Missouri. But I do believe you can go out on your own, volunteer for different organizations, and work your way into the field. 

Look at a guy like Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest, who could be the biggest personality in entertainment media, did not graduate with a college degree. After gaining years of experience at radio stations in Georgia, through internships and hard work, Seacrest left the University of Georgia when he was 19. He had a gift that many noticed when he was younger, knew it, and worked to show it to everyone.

Journalism is that type of field where if you got it, you’re going to be fine. Being able to tell a story in a manner that people want to watch you is a talent many don’t possess. Some people can study all they want to and get the highest GPA possible, but that does not mean it will translate to becoming a successful journalist. Give me the candidate with more in-field experience any day of the week, even if that means they don’t have a journalism degree. 

Artley most certainly learned this was the way to go while getting her journalism degree. Through her experience at Mizzou, I think she took away the lesson of being thrown into the fire. Find a way to survive, thrive in it, and move on. 

The ones who do will always make it. 

The Meaning of a Picture

I’ve always thought one of the more amazing aspects of still pictures is the meanings we attach to them. I don’t believe there is anything else in life that we attach ourselves to quite like a picture.

Think about the first thought that runs through your head when something magical happens. “Look at this crowd, it’s INSANE! Give me the camera,” you’d tell your friends. Or, you just saw a Ferrari pass by. You whip out your phone and snap a quick awestruck shot.

Yes, maybe that’s how photography has changed. We’re more apt to whip out our smartphone than a shiny Nikon. It’s not the same quality, no matter how much you Instagram or Photoshop it. No, you’re not a professional photographer, or even an average one. But I don’t really think that’s the point.

Every picture at every level of photography starts at the same base. We need to capture this moment. It’s noteworthy. We may not ever get to experience this again.

What makes photography beautiful is the simple thought process that leads us to snap a shot. While we know what significance it has to us at that moment, I don’t think we’re ever really aware of how much it can really affect others.

That’s why Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become so successful. They have allowed us to take into account what everyone else would think of our biggest moments captured digitally. Now, the thought process might change to, “Wow, my friends would absolutely love this.” Is there something wrong with that?

My answer to that would be no. When you have more resources available to you, it should be an expectation that there will be a plethora of pictures. As in every form of art, you’re going to have your tremendous work and your not so flattering work. It’s how life works.

The upgrades in technology have just made smartphones more accessible at our most important moments than a camera. I can take an iPhone out of my pocket much quicker than the newest Canon. Even the smallest digital cameras require a new case you have to place somewhere. As lazy as it sounds, that’s just another item you have to worry about.

In that context, it’s just better to not bring something like that. I don’t want to be standing in the thousands at Faurot tonight, trying to pull out a new camera. I already have my phone, which has a pretty decent camera. That’ll do the job nicely.

All of these changes I’ve discussed are something every medium has to go through. Audio and video have gone, and are still going, through multiple changes to this day. We may now listen to more podcasts instead of the radio, or watch just as much online as we do on the TV, but the entertainment value that draws us to them has not changed.

So, there may be more pictures than ever, being snapped at higher rate than ever. But what brings you to take a photo, at its core, is still the same.

I want to see this. You want to see this. Let the world see it.

Sweet Saturdays

I really don’t think there’s anything quite like the atmosphere of college football. It may be the one sport where the atmosphere is the most identifiable aspect of the sport. Think about what it’s like to wake up on a college football Saturday, from the student perspective.

You roll out of your dorm bed, that gleam of sunlight is bothering you a little too much. The TV was on all night and what is the very first sound you hear? None other than Lee Corso booming a, “Not so fast my friend!” The day has started. 

All of your friends have been up, anticipating the game. You throw on every piece of school colors you have, and head directly for the stadium area. Time to tailgate.

The first scent that envelops your nostrils is the fiery aroma of hamburgers and bratwursts. Beer cans are popping off, bean bags are being thrown in cornhole, and kids are sprinting after hail mary’s in the parking lot. It’s almost something like a carnival completely dedicated to football. 

While your taste buds are watering, your ears are being treated to a symphony of excitement. The band is fully tuned, with the fight song blasting constantly. Random people are just blaring classic rock out of the trunk of their SUV’s, with a grill and folding chairs set up right in front of it. The cheerleaders will be strolling around too, screaming as loud as they can.

But I don’t think anything, even the party-like atmosphere of a tailgate, compares to a completely packed stadium. There is an electricity and feeling of unity that simply cannot be put into words. Think about the uniqueness of it.

When do 70,000-100,000 people gather in one place for one common reason? When is 90 percent of a crowd like that all hoping for the same thing? Every interception, fumble, touchdown, and sack sends a momentum swing of emotions through the guts of entire legions of fans. They feel those simultaneously, like all of their emotions are connected in a linear network of some sort. 

That’s what football, and honestly sports, does for us. They give meaning to a day for an entire season. Sure, there’s a great deal of people who identify Saturday as a clubbing night or a night to go to your favorite restaurant. Some might even go Travolta with some Saturday Night Fever.

But when the leaves change, the whistle blows, and that ball is kicked off, Saturdays take on a whole new meaning in this football crazed nation. The sweetness of Saturdays are back.

And I could not be more excited.