There’s No Such Thing As A Selfless Selfie

The 17-year-old Australian girl who quit social media has peaked my interest. Though I want to chuckle at this young girl who clearly has very little understanding of how the world works, I also have to hold myself back from being a complete a-hole, and understand that this girl is only 17.

As someone who works in marketing, hearing someone complain that all social media is fake and every product you see some one using on social media is just an advertising scheme feels as offensive as it is untrue. Yes, their are fashion and lifestyle bloggers being paid to use certain products, but I like to think may of these individuals are choosing to promotes products and services that they believe in. If you feel like you’re being fake or living a fake lifestyle, welcome to the real world. I wish I didn’t have to hide aspects of my personality out of fear of them being deemed “unprofessional.” Lots of people have to behave a certain way in their profession, and if you don’t like it then find a job where you can be 100% yourself, but there’s no need to call others miserable because they’re trying to make a living. I am not miserable in the slightest. My goal has been to become a writer, and I get to do what I love everyday.

Moreover, I also don’t think social media is as bad as some people say. However, that is certainly not to say that some people experience very real feelings of sadness and isolation as a result of social media. I’m just not one of them. I get very few likes on all my posts, and I’m cool with that. I don’t post for anyone, but myself, which leads me to my next thought: is social media extremely narcissistic? Of course it is. How can it not be? I post pictures I want to show off (nonetheless, I really don’t care about getting likes on them; I just want people to see how cool I am).

Believe it or not, this post wasn’t inspired by anything I’ve discussed. It was inspired by a girl I follow on Instagram, who posted a selfie wherein she was in the car, and you could see a man with a backpack and raincoat standing outside. On the photo she wrote “Give to strangers. It feels good.” In the caption she proceeded to spell out a lengthy story about her decision to give this man money even though she “never gives money to the homeless.” Now, I write about this, realizing that by ridiculing her on an Internet blog post, I’m probably no better than her. After all, she did a nice thing by giving a man whom she perceived as homeless a dollar, and if sharing that act on Instagram made her feel better because she thinks she’s inspiring people, all the power to her – maybe someone was inspired by that. Honestly, even if someone else looks at her photo and thinks, “Hm, helping people is a great photo-op,” and then goes out and does the same thing, at least someone benefited from that action. There’s no such thing a selfless good deed. Right?

I digress (sort of). I didn’t take issue with the post (because it’s not surprising at all coming from the girl who posted it), I took issue with the lack of self-awareness. Am I crazy for thinking that posting a selfie with a homeless man in the background, and then going on about how you just had to give him a dollar a tad narcissistic?  I mean, why can’t you just give the man a dollar and feel good about it? Personally, I would never do that because I can’t imagine how anyone would see it and go, “wow, she is a really great person.” Though, I guess in this day-and-age, unless someone sees you doing something, it’s as if it didn’t happen. So maybe that means that it’s not enough to just donate money to or volunteer at charitable organizations, unless you document it with a selfie.


The West Side- My Journalism Experience this Semester

I have lived in Buffalo all my life, many people believe Buffalo is not just the second poorest city, that always has cold weather, and a really awful football team, Buffalo is my home and I am proud of it. Although I was aware of the extensive architectural history of several beautiful buildings in Buffalo, there was a lot I did not know.

Based on my project and the projects my classmates have been working on, I have learned so much about the great and amazing community Buffalo has to offer. Maybe in the past Buffalo was not known as the safest, wealthiest place, but times are changing. In the past decade organizations such as the Massachusetts Avenue Project and Push Buffalo work to make the downtown, distressed areas of Buffalo aesthetically pleasing and safer.

The piece I have been working on throughout the semester is Massachusetts Avenues, Growing Green campaign. This organization utilizes urban gardens to provide healthy and affordable food to those in need. They also provide jobs to inner city high school kids. Jobs that focus on skill building and really help these kids make important life decisions, such as going to college.

The motivation these people have to help their community is astonishing. Only in Buffalo could you find such a kind community. A community who may not have much to give, but they will give as much as they possibly can to help someone else in need.

My Production Experience

Production rarely goes as planned. So much planning goes into video production and if one part of the plan does not work out, you need to come up with a solution. The key factors of my piece include, the weather and the schedules of two other individuals. Unfortunately, people do not work on my schedule, which means I have to adjust and make it work, so that I can get what I need for my video. The same goes with the weather, the weather does not adjust to when I have to film. For example, I have to shoot the urban gardens for my piece, however whenever I have time to get down to the city, it either rains or snows.

The shots that I have been able to get display the food deserts in Buffalo. My next plans are to get my interview with a family who uses the urban garden program, and shots inside the greenhouse and in the garden. It is supposed to be nice out on Wednesday, so I plan on going to the gardens and getting my footage.

Although the video project is a lot of work, I enjoy it. I have also found that if plan exactly what I want to shoot, the entire process goes much smoother.

Charles Layton “The Video Explosion”

Before I completed this reading I read “Pearls Before Breakfast” by Gene Weingarton. This article described an experiment where Joshua Bell, a musical prodigy, played the violin at the L’Enfant Plaza Station during rush hour. While Bell was one of the most famous violinists in the world, very few people acknowledged him for so much as one minute. Considering the time frame, many of those who passed by were rushing to work, and assumed it was just another street player, however so many also failed to even recognize the talent that Bell had. The problem with so many of us is that as we get older we begin to focus all of our attention on one thing, and neglect the small things in life.

The reading describes the common interest of the public shifting from photography to video. When people watch or read news stories, they want video. If a hurricane struck, sick as it may sound, people want to see it. We do not want anything left to the imagination when it comes to news stories.

Andy Dickinson stated that “It takes one hour to produce one minute of video.” As we have been editing our video projects in class I can say with confidence that he is right. Moreover, I think about how difficult editing television programs must be, more specifically reality TV. Reality TV has become extremely popular for the last few years, I think about shows like “Jersey Shore” where the cast gets violent, uses explicit language, the girls dress so provocative that parts need to be blurred out because too much is showing, and to top it off each member of the cast frequently engages in sexual activity on camera. There has to be so much to chop out and so much to cut down and fix up so that it can still be displayed, such as vicious fights where people our swearing and throwing each other around.

Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” Chapter 3 (Everyone is a Media Outlet)

The headline of Clay Shirky’s chapter stated “Everyone is a Media Outlet”, in his last few paragraphs he stated “If everyone can do something, it is no longer rare enough to pay for it, even if it is vital.” he could not be more right.

 The beginning discussion concerns the transition from print newspapers to online newspapers. The way I see it is sadly newspapers are coming close to being nonexistent. Consider all of these electronic devices that can satisfy even more than what a newspaper does. Cell phone applications, iPad, Kindles, computers, websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist, the list keeps growing and growing.

In the past journalists in many ways controlled what would be published to the public, this is certainly no longer the case. Every single piece of news whether it be useless, scandalous, invasive is shared on the web. Subjects that do not make it to the Times or USA Today will most likely be displayed through online blogging sites.

What is shocking to me is because of websites like Facebook or Twitter, people can receive fast information on a major event that had just occurred, via a status or tweet. However, through experience, I have found that the information displayed in the status is sometimes all that they know. For example, the recent earthquake in Japan which triggered a tsunami was and still is very big news. Two days after the earthquake hit I had dinner with my family and our family friends who brought their daughter, Kara. During dinner, obviously a discussion about the earthquake came up, where Kara stated, “Yeah Paris was really worried about the people staying in her families hotel.” Of course she was referring to Paris Hilton, who she follows on Twitter, which is how she found this useful piece of information. This is one of many scenarios I have fallen into with someone who left me staring awkwardly at them with little to say.

As times change so does the technology, I predict that years from now the last two decades will be refered to as our digital transformation. Those who were not alive when print newspapers delivered our daily news will wonder how we survived.

Herbert Zettl’s “Video Basics 3” Chapter 5

Let me first say that I love readings that discuss video because I’m inexperienced in shooting and editing video. I never really even shot home movies with the family video camera because my mother and father thought I would break it, and they were probably right.

This chapter covers the aesthetics of picture composition including framing of a shot, manipulating picture depth, and controlling camera and object motion. While all of these elements are crucial to making video aesthetically pleasing several of them stuck out to me as factors I would have to pay attention closely to. Subject placement may seem like an obvious factor, but after reading this chapter I have recalled several professional videos where subject placement is very poor. Of course it may seem easy to place the subject properly in the beginning of the video, however I could see where throughout filming a simple unnoticeable movement the subject makes could go unnoticed by the recorder. For example, I am shooting some of the growing green kids for my video project. In the beginning of one of their events I could set up my camera perfectly, however as the activities begin and the kids begin moving around I will have a hard time keeping up. Really this example could be applied to any of the aesthetic principles, however my main concern is subject placement. I have time before I will be able to shoot video of the kids in action so I have decided to practice by shooting my sister and brother at their soccer games.

Another crucial concept to consider when shooting video is controlling camera movement. For the most part I think I will be extremely cautious of this because I have noticed some horrible filming techniques. A friend of mine made me watch this horror movie with her, it was pretty low-budget and was never released in theaters. After watching this movie I realized why it was so unsuccessful, the camera movement was awful. Every time someone was running from the villan, it was as if the person filming gave the camera to the actor or actress and just let them run with it. The camera was shaking every 15 minutes, it was literally nauseating.

Although I am inexperienced with shooting video, I am excited to step out of my comfort zone and start planning and filming the growing green group.

Chapter 7: Fieldwork (Interviewing) by Bruce Jackson

This chapter was useful, however I felt like it was redundant. In every paragraph it stressed the importance of being comfortable with interviewing, so that the person you are interviewing feels comfortable as well. I understand how important that can be, but after reading it for the tenth time I was getting bored. However, I will be interviewing two kids and Erin Sharkey from the Growing Green campaign this week and the advice I got out of this article was very useful.

I enjoyed the story about the interview with Tom Ratliff. Tom Ratliff was particularly suspicious of men from the North with beards, assuming they were communists. The interviewer was from the North and had a beard so he figured that it would comfort Ratliff if he left the camera in the car. Ironically when the interviewer met Ratliff, Ratliff insisted that he go out to his car and get the camera, stating that he doesn’t trust people who write things down.

The chapter describes realizing appropriate and inappropriate times to pull out the camera or camcorder. I thought of a funny and disturbing situation. When I was 16 my cousin Shawn passed away. He was 22 years old, with two younger siblings, and a lot of friends. Needless to say the wake was filled with people and memorabilia of his life. My youngest sister Morgan was 10, and a little unfamiliar with the set up of a wake. My older brother and I were admiring the pictures of Shawn, when our other sister Sydney comes stomping over holding Morgan’s wrist. I saw in Morgan’s hand my Mother’s Blackberry and my heart sank. Morgan had been standing by the casket, taking pictures of Shawn’s body in the casket. My brothers and sister still make fun of her for this. That day she got a crash course in when and where to take pictures.

Chapter 2: SuperMedia Saving Journalism So It Can Survive the World

This chapter exemplifies the war between old and new media ending and the benefits and consequences. Throughout the past decade technology has improved, which has impacted networked journalism. Jeff Jarvis describes networked journalism’s collaboration with the general public and professional journalists. Together, they work to get the real story. Even after the story has been published the public can continue to contribute their opinion through a variety of outlets. In old media this was somewhat rare. Public contribution to media was very limited. While the chapter pointed out the consequences of technological innovations, all that stood out for me were benefits.

The costs of marketing and distribution have decreased significantly over the years. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become major sources of advertising. They are casual and informative. For example, my cousin has been working for Entercom for about two years. She constantly posts advertisements for work via Facebook. All of her friends and clients see these messages and can easily contact her for more information. She is has been extremely succesful and recently was recognized as Entercoms’ top sales representative in Buffalo.

Secondary contact also plays a huge role. In the past it was very limited, now every mainstream media outlet has an e-mail address at the very least. Consumers are encouraged to share feedback as well as information and views that contribute to a network of editorial production. When a serious event occurs media organizations welcome viewers to send mobile phone pictures and video. The recent events in Japan exemplify this. On YouTube witnesses to such events posted graphic videos.

The general public makes the modern-day journalists job easier. The journalist does not have to guess what the people want to hear, the people tell them what they want to hear. They send in videos and photos and information. The journalist does not have to run around looking for people to interview, the people are coming to them.

The chapter stated the journalism is pointless if it is not trustworthy. With the general public providing these experiences, it is easier for other readers to trust what they are reading. Bloggers are also able to gain a high level of trust because they are embedded in the real world. Untrustworthy or irrelevant bloggers can easily be ignored. Bloggers are not meant to replace mainstream journalists, they are just another source of information, anyone can have a blog.

It is incredible how many media outlets have developed over the past decade, this may pose a problem to some, but not to me. In my opinion the more media outlets, the more knowledgable you can be on current events.

Chapter 10: Gathering and Editing Media

This chapter discussed how to gather images, audio, and video and the proper equipment used for online journalism. It also provided aesthetic conditions to take into consideration when gathering images and video.

I have always found that it is quite difficult to shoot video in an attractive manner. This chapter states that capturing video is very similar to taking still photos. The rules of photography still apply. When recording video everything happens so fast and you have one shot to get it right. In photography, you can take multiple photos of the same thing until you get what you want. I decided to practice my video skills during my three-day trip to Florida over spring break. I shot video of the sunset, kids playing on the beach, and the massive crowd gathering on the beach to watch the sunset. The composition style I used for most of my videos was mostly long shot, since my goal was to get the beach during the sunset and what people were doing. I need more practice before shooting my video for my Growing Green piece for this class.

Taking composition into consideration when shooting a video is crucial. It was interesting to read about what framing methods to use with what situations. For example close-ups are intended to convey emotion. This seems obvious, but it was something I have failed to take into consideration in the past.

I also found it interesting that the interviewee should not be looking directly at the camera. After reading this, whenever I watch television and someone was being interviewed I actually noticed this element.

This chapter will be extremely helpful this week when I am putting together my sound slides. I have a lot of new tips and tricks to take into consideration.

Photojournalist Danfung Dennis: How I Cover the Afghanistan War with the 5DMKII

Danfung Dennis is an embedded photojournalist. He was embedded in Southern Afghanistan with United States soldiers. The footage he has is absolutely incredible. He captures the traumatic conditions that these soldiers face. One of his videos “Hell and Back Again” is only one minute and thirty seconds long. In the minute and thirty seconds he captures the life-threatening situations that U.S. soldiers face. He displays soldiers shooting of their guns while hundreds of bullet shells hit the ground, explosions where dust completely fills the air, he also captures the soldiers attitudes. Hearing the soldiers yelling different things to each other such as, “Lets go!”, and “What the fuck?!” show how life-threatening the situation really is. You see one soldier repeatedly yell “What the fuck?!” while displaying a number of hand motions and you can feel the anger and fear in his voice and body language. At one point the camera faces the ground as Danfung runs to another location, it shows how fast passed the battle grounds are. When you watch it you gain a better understanding of what the soldiers on the frontline are dealing with and how life-threatening their everyday jobs are.

Photojournalists who are embedded in situations, like the one Danfung Dennis is in, are fearless in my eyes. They go on to these life-threatening situations unarmed. The risks they take arte equivalent to a fire fighter and the soldiers actually fighting in the Afghanistan war. The photo f Danfung Dennis down on the ground photographing, while soldiers are running above him is so amazing, it shows his dedication.

My grandfather always used to say that if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life. After reading these three articles, and looking at the situations these photojournalists get themselves into you can tell how much they love what they do. It is truly inspiring to me.