I still can’t finish the second season of Arrested Development (and other examples of how technology hates me)

If I’ve learned anything over the course of this semester, it’s that I utterly fail at all things technological. Prior to this multimedia class, I was under the impression that I was somewhat, in the very least way possible, capable of using technology at a moderate capacity. Oh, how shattered that illusion stands.

Tragedy struck on Tuesday, as it often does, when we went through a step-by-step tutorial of how to create a roll-over information graphic in class. I was warned not to stray from the set of instructions and guidance of the instructor, lest I be lost in the Adobe Flash abyss forever. Not five minutes and a couple of steps in (several of which consisted of simply downloading the image of the Missouri map and opening the Adobe program), I reached a point where my computer screen no longer matched that of the ones of my peers sitting next to me. Of course. I screwed up somewhere along the way.

I did manage to complete most of the assignment and create a masterpiece about the Mark Twain Cave of Hannibal, Mo. It took a lot of trial and error, and probably way more time than necessary, but I figured it out little by little. That seems to be the trend for much of the material I’ve learned from this course, from using the reporting equipment to maneuvering the software used in production. Even using my phone for a mobile journalism assignment, though seemingly straightforward in using a tool I’ve become so familiar with, didn’t go without a few glitches and frozen screens before deadline.

In the meantime, I can still appreciate the process of taking journalism and presenting it in new ways. This week’s lecturer, Jonathon Berlin of the Chicago Tribune, gives advice about techniques to make good informational graphics. While this might not particularly be my forté, I’m honestly really excited to use these newfound skills to enhance the reporting I do in the future and continue learning about such techniques. As NPR’s Meredith Heard says and the website FlowingData shows, it’s definitely not going away anytime soon.

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(Mis)quoted and noted

I have a problem with email interviews. I don’t like using the method as a journalist reporting on a story, and I don’t like being asked to give quotes through them.

J-School Buzz posted about how the Journalism School should embrace the practice of email interviews. I disagree. My friend Laura Li, a fellow J-Schooler who is way more eloquent than me, contributed her countering opinion that students need to learn to establish direct contact in order to accurately report on a subject.

When I was recently emailed a list of questions from a reporter of a student publication about a campus event that I attended, I declined to answer them (primarily because I was only in attendance for part of the event and clearly wasn’t the best interview candidate). I ended the email by offering to meet in person to answer any other questions she had. This wasn’t the first time that I had declined an email interview, but in the past reporters have arranged face-to-face interviews with me to get their material. I waited to hear back from this reporter, but figured she had gone with another source in the end.

So imagine my surprise when I found out, through a series of coincidental events, that I was in fact quoted in an article. But since I didn’t give her any useable quotes, she made up her own and tacked my name to the end of them.

At first I thought it was completely hilarious that the reporter would do something that was the complete antithesis to journalism. And then I was completely perplexed as to why she thought it would be okay or necessary to do what she did. In all honesty, I just want clarification as to her rationale for fabricating quotes in the first place. The article has since been corrected and the publication offered its apologies, but I really just want the reporter as an individual to be accountable for this situation and be transparent enough to make it known.

I want you to know that I stutter sometimes. I say “like” and “um” way too much. I have a nervous laugh that kicks in when I get the sinking realization that I’ve lost my train of thought in the middle of a sentence. And a person would only know this if they’ve talked to me directly, heard my voice and picked up on my body language. Because what I say is best understood when how I say it is taken into consideration. And that doesn’t include how well I can craft a type-written sentence.

All I ask, both as a journalist and as an interviewee, is that the reporter upholds the integrity of good journalism. And please don’t write that I said something when I didn’t. That’s not journalism, honey; that’s fiction. And to quote the J-School’s own Jacqui Banazynski, “Go over to the English department if you want to make shit up.”