The Broadcast Track

If you really wanted to get a feel of how the Missouri School of Journalism works, I invite you to take a look at the broadcast track every potential TV/Radio journalism major faces. Lordy. 

This school is so hellbent on getting you firsthand experience through your classes. Broadcast I-III all involve eventually doing more and more for KBIA and KOMU. These are professional journalism outlets who rely solely on students for a majority of their content.

I dare you to find any other school in the country that does this. You are literally being thrown into the fire as soon as you enter the fray. With journalism being an experience-driven field, that’s what this school heaps on you from the start. 

With all of that responsibility surely comes a great deal of time commitment. They want you to take 12 credit hours when taking Broadcast II, just so you can have as much time as possible to commit to your stories. It’s quite the reality check. 

Some may consider the commitments daunting, and I can totally see why. Much falls on the shoulders of students, but I think it will ultimately pay off. There’s a reason this establishment is considered the best in the business. And this has got to be the main reason why.

It’s the Missouri Method in full form. I can’t wait to dive into it. 

This Might Get Graphic

I’ve seen a lot of info graphics on many different web sites. But I don’t think any of them can top what I saw in lecture this week.

When Usain Bolt sprinted through the Olympics at alarming rates once again, everybody immediately hailed him as the greatest sprinter in Olympic history. Arguments were made that he’s the greatest show the games have ever seen 

I was always kind of skeptical of that. Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens were men who changed the entire playing field of Olympic sprinting. I always thought of them to be the gold standard.

Until I saw the New York Times graphic that featured Bolt. 

The day after he won, the publication posted a graphic that put every single Olympic sprinter who medaled on a track. They were all side-by-side in one giant race. From 1896 to 2012, you could see how much faster the times have gotten. As you notice the transition from eras, you really do realize the evolution of Olympic sprinters.

But Bolt is simply a different beast. Even compared to today’s athletes, he was basically a full second ahead. There’s no doubt he’s the fastest man to put on a pair of shoes. That’s besides the point though.

That graphic gave readers true historical perspective. Sports are a field where many people don’t believe until they see it. We always have debates where we yell if LeBron James could be better than Michael Jordan, or if Tom Brady can surpass Joe Montana. In this instance, we were given the opportunity to see it firsthand. 

Count me in the Bolt believers after seeing that graphic. Fantasy became reality. And that’s something I’d encourage more publications to do, particularly in sports.

There are more advancements in technology in ever, so to me, there is no excuse why we can’t make more of this type of work happen. Obviously, it’s not applicable in terms of who would win some fantasy game, like the latest version of the Olympic gold medalist basketball team versus the 1992 Dream Team. But we can definitely look at the athletic differences between the two teams through this type of graphic. 

Think about how much is made of sports now through fantasy. Millions upon millions of football fans play fantasy football. Imagine if you could see your fantasy players on a field graphic, lined up next to each other, with their point distributions laid out. The possibilities are truly endless. 

I always like to see progression in a field. And that Bolt graphic shows some real progress in sports journalism. 

Writing Through Your Video

Sarah Hill’s thoughts on video and voiceovers were particularly interesting to me this week. She delved into the different appeals of video, and how you can hit those with the style of your video and voiceover.

Her main point was to try and marry your voiceover to whatever is in your video. When you think about it, that really does make sense. Most people do voiceovers during post-production, after their video is already edited. So, with that being said, there’s no point in writing your voiceover before you ever film your video.

Also, you can never script out what is going to happen during filming. You can have maybe a set of expectations, but beyond that, anything can happen. When you cater your voiceover to your video later on, you will know everything that happened, and can then emphasize the key events in your voiceover. 

Speaking of those key events, I really liked how Sarah discussed how you should let those play out visually without speaking too much. She said she was not really a fan of talking too much or using too many words. 

Viewers find that more appealing because they don’t like hearing someone ramble on and on. If the entire audio track is strictly voiceover, there’s going to be no flare or variety in the video. To add some more versatility, she pointed out the usage of natural sound to break up her voiceovers as well.

Natural sound, as long as its controlled and does not take over, is a beautiful aspect of video. Too often, a bland voiceover can be noticed by sounding very unnatural along with the video. Natural sound, or “nat sound,” adds the atmosphere and setting to your video. Yes, you’d think the video does that. But try and listen to the story with your voiceover and nat sound. See if you can tell where you’re at.

One thing I’ve noticed in Sarah’s packages is her close emphasis on small details. Some of the stuff she covers, such as a chicken farmer getting his mail out of a tree, give her stories an aspect that many others don’t have. They become unique and help build her subjects into characters. When you think back on the story, the first thing that will come to mind is whatever Sarah revealed to you that nobody else new.

That’s the true essence of storytelling, and Sarah Hill seems like she’s mastered it greatly. 

The Building Blocks

Journalism has always been a field built upon a code of ethics. These ethics are taught in your first journalism class, and then they’re beaten into your head for the rest of your career. After a while, they seem like second nature to you, just a set of morals to follow. 

The problem js when they’re so second nature, they can be easily forgotten. 

The smallest mistakes made by journalist nowadays do not go unnoticed. Today’s audience is more equipped than ever to catch anything you may have tried to lie about or use without attributing to a proper source. The Internet has too many eyes now to try and sneak something by. 

I think this is a great aspect of journalism though. Obviously, the field has thrived in its role of being a watchdog for citizens, as well as covering the world’s stories and events. But for the small percentage of journalists who do try to cut corners and such, it was definitely easier to get away with.

Now, citizens can make sure their watchdog isn’t straying too far off of its leash. After all, the media is built upon the wants and needs of the public. So shouldn’t the public be able to keep an eye on journalists? Of course. 

So now it’s on the shoulders of today’s journalists, and the future ones, to not underestimate the power of technology or its audience. You may think you’re a step ahead of everybody else, but in reality, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. If your stories involve cutting corners and telling lies, there is no benefit for anyone; just detriment to yourself. 

With that, just go through your fact checking. It’s easy to make those kind of mistakes with quotes or attributions, especially in the beginning. You may be very apprehensive about asking so many questions to your source or subject. But it’s completely necessary to do so because those are the things that need to be 100% accurate at all times. Misprints or retractions will instantly take some credibility from any story you put out there. 

The bottom line is ethics are what journalism is built upon. There is a trust instilled in the media by the public to keep us informed and not lead us in the wrong direction. In any type of journalism, we must come back to that basic principle as the one our jobs were solely created for. It’s easy to forget those principles. 

But it’s necessary for your success.