The End

I’ve been going to Baltimore Ravens home games since I was four years old. I’ve seen Stoney Case, Tony Banks, Elvis Grbac, Trent Dilfer, and dozens of more hopeless quarterbacks take the field in purple and black. 

In their short history, the Ravens have had a great deal of tremendous players don their uniform. Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed, Jamal Lewis, Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe, etc. And while they’re great in their own right, get something straight:

Nobody, past, present, or future, will ever represent what Ray Lewis has been to the Baltimore Ravens. 

I could go on and on about the leadership and inspiration Ray Lewis has brought to Baltimore, which is not matched by any player on any roster in the league. But I think we’ve all done that enough. It can be summed up by simply saying that if we all had the passion for our jobs like Ray Lewis does for football, we’d all be more productive.

Here’s what I think is lost when talking about Ray Lewis’s career. When we all discuss the greatest players of all time, we always feel like it must be a quarterback. If we rank the best players of this past era, I guarantee you most people would put either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning at the top of that list. Trust me, I can see that wholeheartedly and might even agree with you. 

But consider this: those two men, along with all the others who play the quarterback position, touch the ball on every single play of an NFL game. Out of any position, they have the most influential decisions on the field. For the most part, their play defines franchises and wins championships.

When you sit back and think about Number 52’s place in the history of football, consider all the influence legendary quarterbacks had on their teams. THAT is what Ray Lewis has been to the Baltimore Ravens. In 2000, he, as a middle linebacker, led them to a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at quarterback. Believe me, they didn’t win because of any Dilfer Dimes. They won because Lewis was tracking down runners sideline to sideline faster than a cheetah going after prey. 

Lewis defined a franchise by rarely touching the ball (even with 20 fumble recoveries and 31 interceptions) and playing a side of the ball that is continuously put at a disadvantage with every passing year of a pass happy league. The man could’ve won more if there was even an above average quarterback playing for the franchise for a stretch. But you’d never hear him say that. 

I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: there is not a defensive player in the history of the NFL who has defined a franchise more. He’s the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game. Durable, passionate, vicious, and influential. Nobody has the package like him. Without him, this franchise is nowhere near where they’ve been. 

So when I walk up to my family’s seats in Section 505, Row 24, Seats 1, 2, and 3, and I take my seat in M&T Bank Stadium, I’m going to soak every minute of it in. I, like thousands of others, will be wearing his black jersey, awaiting the pre-game festivities. Defensive player introductions have always been a favorite of Ravens games, and we all know why.

For the last time, “Hot in Herre” will blare over the stadium speakers. For the last time, 52 will walk out of the tunnel, emerging from a cloud of smoke. For the last time, Ray Lewis will bust into that infamous dance. And for the last time, the city of Baltimore will completely go ballistic for possibly the best player of this era, and the man who has defined sports for them. 

It still won’t do him justice. 

 

Newtown

When I was a young child, there was nothing like Christmas morning. Christmas Eve was never a night I got too much sleep. I was too busy imagining the gifts that lay under the tree, and honestly, the gigantic breakfast my mom cooks every Christmas. 

But there was one tradition that was really unique to me. See, in our home, we have an Advent calendar. Even if it has Santa on it, the wooden calendar has a tree on it with hooks. Below that are 24 doors, each of the days of December leading up to Christmas day.

Once December hit, I looked forward to opening each of those doors on their respective days. I found a multitude of wooden objects in there, from teddy bears to bird houses, candy canes to snowflakes. The simplest little symbols gave me the utmost excitement, and my anticipation built with each day leading up to Christmas. 

With today’s horrific shooting in Newtown, CT, I came to the realization that there were now 20 less children who could enjoy the traditions that I did at such an age. 20 less teenagers to experience the highs and lows of adolescence. And 20 less future adults who could’ve helped change this world. 

I’ve never been so stricken by such terror, and it was only fitting that I watched it all unfold with my mother on the couch. I saw tears in her eyes as she told me ANY life of a child lost is one too many. We talked about how lucky I’ve been to be able to peacefully obtain education, to be able to walk in and out of school safely with any knowledge I gained. The parents of this country grieve when in any other year, they’re mostly finishing up their Christmas shopping. 

Every life lost today is an unthinkable horror. Every innocent soul is now up above as a glowing angel this Christmas. I give every ounce of my heart to the families affected by this, as you all simply thought it would be another school day. 

I’m 20 years old now. I haven’t even thought about opening any of the doors on that calendar in years. But today, I walked up to it and stared at the door with number 14 on it. After a few minutes, I opened it, and held a little birdhouse in the palm of my hand. 

It just wasn’t the same. 

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Guess This Is Goodbye

Well, I gotta say one thing: J2150 has been one hell of a course.

Coming into this, I really thought I could just get away with the video skills I’ve obtained over this past year. Little did I know that I was going to expand my journalistic abilities to much more than that. I now know how to edit audio better than ever before, as well as actually know how to set up a great photo.

In addition to what I’ve learned, I will simply never forget some of the stories I got to watch as well. Ones that really stuck out to me were The Marlboro Man as well as the one about the Seltzer man. Both were true works of art that really took a great deal of skill and deft storytelling.

But I’d like to take this moment to thank my instructor, Shane Epping. Shane is an extremely talented photographer employed here at Mizzou, and out of any journalism instructor I’ve had, I have enjoyed him the most.

What makes Shane tremendous is his overall commitment to the true roots of journalism. He never really focuses too much on the technical abilities of things. Instead, he likes to look for the storytelling involved, how well you covered the voices of your topic. I really do respect his preachings here, and his constant reminders to us that our stories really do matter.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe your stories can actually make a difference in someone’s life. But, with Shane’s encouragement and teaching, I certainly learned that this was not the case. By completing my final project on Special Olympics, and seeing the reactions to the product, I can safely say those folks enjoyed my work.

I couldn’t be more proud of what I accomplished in this course, especially with that wonderful organization. I was truly blessed to be in the section I was in, as well as to have an instructor as great as Shane was. The journalism school needs more like him.

But for now, I am done with multimedia (academically of course). It’s been a blast, and I’ll continue to work to become a better storyteller.

Web Stats

It’s really amazing how far we’ve come with our understanding of the Internet.

At first, we simply just visited our favorite web sites, without a care in the world who else was actually visiting it. Nowadays? It’s quite the opposite.

Today’s sites feed off of hot buzz and millions of clicks. While we never really noticed back then how many people were visiting a site, the web masters behind the scenes knew exactly how many of us were enjoying our cyber pleasures. Back then, I bet most would’ve thought it was unthinkable for us to have access to such information.

Well, times have changed. That information is readily available for any citizen to have. If they want to see how much traffic they’re creating with their own personal blog, the blogosphere will happily provide them with the figures. It’s quite stunning sometimes to look at the numbers and know the influence you are having.

But that brings me to another point: how meaningful are each of these hits? I mean, they can most certainly vary in length. Someone might only be on for mere seconds before leaving, or they may be on it for hours to read one of your longer posts. Can we distinguish those two visits?

That’s why hits are great and all, but you really need to dig deeper and see the average amount of time someone is spending on your site. Don’t get me wrong, creating any type of traffic is great, but if that traffic is gone quickly, then you’re not truly engaging your audience with information.

Narrowcasting

Let me start off by saying I absolutely love broadcast journalism. There is nothing I want to do more than report and give analysis on camera. But that doesn’t mean my field doesn’t have its shortcomings.

Too often, great stories are condensed to fit into an evening news time slot. These stories, with so many elements and views, could be told in much more detail. I saw a perfect example of the contrast between a feature story, and then the same story told on the local news in their format.

MediaStorm produced this tremendous feature on Walter Backerman, a run-of-the-mill seltzer man in New York City. Backerman treats his simple, yet rare, occupation with the utmost respect and sacrilege. To him, a mere seltzer bottle represents the legacy of his family, whom he inherited the business from. Please watch the actual story here: http://mediastorm.com/training/remember-these-days

The story, told by so many different shots, angles, and views, is crafted masterfully. We then watched the same story told on a local news station somewhere (I can’t find the link), and it wasn’t right. 

The whole tone and meaning of the story was just plain off. Since you had to take an original 12 minute piece, and turn it into a 2-3 minute piece, you lose the real depth of it all. It all feels rushed, pushed along with no delicacy. Backerman really cares about his craft deeply, and while you definitely saw some passion in the news piece, you just don’t get the same feel as you do from the MediaStorm piece.

Really, there’s nothing more the news station could’ve done. They meet different requirements than a website does. If you have a 12 minute piece on the news, that could be three or four stories getting cut off of the news. 

Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast. Maybe one day it will change, but I don’t think it will. Hopefully, people just know that there’s always something deeper to every story. 

Even the one of a seltzer man. 

Students Keep Faith in Franklin

COLUMBIA, MO – After another disappointing loss in the Southeastern Conference to the University of Florida this past Saturday, many Missouri fans found a target of blame: junior quarterback James Franklin. 
Franklin threw four interceptions in Gainesville, Florida, as the Tigers lost by a score of 14-7. The Tiger fan base has been placing a lot of blame on him due to the impressive performance of the rest of the team.
Missouri outgained Florida in terms of yardage and also had the ball longer for the game. They converted more third downs, as well as earned more first downs. The only category they were outplayed in was turnovers, due to Franklin’s four.
Even with that though, Missouri student Mike Bonomo thinks the Tigers should stand behind Franklin.
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 Mike Bonomo (pictured) browses on his laptop in the MUTV studio on Nov. 6, 2012. Bonomo, a freshman at the University of Missouri, works in the sports section at MUTV, a student broadcasting organization at Missouri. 
“I think he’s the most talented quarterback they have, as well as a good leader,” Bonomo said. 
Bonomo, a freshman journalism major, thinks Missouri fans should not forget about the knee injury Franklin sustained earlier this year against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Oct. 16, 2012. He thinks it had an effect against Florida. 
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Students at MUTV prepare for the sports programming being filmed at their station on Nov. 6, 2012. James Franklin figures to be a major topic of discussion on the shows. 
“You could tell the injury was still bothering him,” Bonomo said. “He couldn’t put enough weight on his injured knee, which is why he was overthrowing receivers.” 
Franklin is still first on the depth chart at quarterback, but time will tell if the supporters like Bonomo, or the detractors, win out. 

Writing With Your Senses

Our lecturer this week was definitely a personal favorite of mine. He discussed the importance of the quality of writing in journalism, which to me, seems to be a little lost on some these days. 

With all of the emphasis on video and photos, many forget how a great story can be told simply through words. Think about how storytelling started in the first place. Our history, and all of its entertaining events, was taken down in writing. Those prove that while the visual aspects of journalism definitely help, the core of it is still writing. 

To write well though, your senses are integral. How’s anybody supposed to know how the setting of your story is feeling or looking without your sensory experience. Reporting stories really brings together many different aspects to make a common thread. To do that, the senses have to be used at a high level. 

A community is made up of thousands of people who come from so many different walks of life. Stories come from these people having a common interest or shared experience. You have to recognize what they all are interested in seeing, smelling, hearing, etc. Everything YOU have gone through and noticed, combined with the community, will surely make one hell of story.

To bring all of that together, there is always one common method of communication that will always be there. That will always be writing. It doesn’t require an Internet connection or WiFi password, no cameras or recorders. All it needs is a pencil, piece of paper, and the content to make up the piece. 

You’ll always need it because everything you speak starts out as being written. Anchors and reporters who make it big are always the best writers. Their diction is unparalleled, structure is impeccable. Oratorical prowess starts with a strong ability to write. It all starts before they even stand in front of a camera. I’ve always thought it’s easier to turn a great writer into a good broadcaster simply because they have the hardest aspect of it down. 

So when you’re contemplating how to make your story better, always go back to the basics. The simplest form of communication will always be the best.