What True Accomplishment Feels Like

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In a text message to my mom earlier this week, I called it the most stressed out I’ve ever been in my entire life. I wasn’t lying. This past week has been the hardest I’ve ever had. But, I learned so much. I learned to never give up, and that tenacity wins overall. This is my story. This is what true accomplishment feels like for me.

It started Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo. Now, Matt (content director at KOMU) did not want to resort to a holiday story. They’re overdone, and unless you’re talking about a police officer who hands out $100 to needy families during Christmas time, they mostly aren’t worth it. Well, we had nothing else going on, so I ended up doing that story and talking to police about how they would monitor drunk people on this “Cinco de Drinko” day. They wouldn’t talk to me on camera, so I did a phone interview in my car in a parking lot. I wanted to record it for audio, so I had the camera propped up in my car.

I did the phone interview with the car running, and when I hung up, I noticed my car almost over-heating. It wasn’t completely to the H, but it was getting there. I turned off the car, called my grandpa for help, and called the station to have someone come get me so I could finish my shift. Well, Spencer Wilson and I got the camera case and the tripod, but when we got back to the station, I realized the camera wasn’t in the camera case. I had left it in my car. I had a meltdown.

I have had such a hard semester with this class and feeling like I was going to fail when I have never failed a class in my life, that I couldn’t handle it. I broke down in the newsroom in front of everyone. I was literally screaming “The camera isn’t in there” so loud, people thought I was hurt. Matt took me outside and calmed me down. I finished the shift and was later able to fix my car and go home.

Then, Wednesday, I had a reshoot for an enterprise. For those of you that don’t know, enterprises are longer stories with multiple interviews, typically done in more than one day. I had filmed an enterprise in 2 days, a Wednesday and Thursday, but the Wednesday video didn’t save correctly, so I had to do the interview again. Well, I did, and when I came back to edit the next Thursday, the video was gone. I left it in a folder that the station archived and deleted, so if the footage hadn’t aired yet, it was gone. It sucked that something I had worked on for weeks was completely gone. And I really didn’t like explaining to my sources that their story wasn’t going to air.

So after losing my enterprise Thursday, I went home. I was so angry at myself for saving the video in a place that was to be deleted (I didn’t even know they deleted them during the semester!). I honestly looked up how successful people deal with failure. I found that successful people accept their mistakes and don’t take challenges personally. That really helped me. I decided to email Matt a story for Friday.

The Mayor of Columbia held a news conference about a pedestrian task force. For those in Columbia, you know we have dealt with several pedestrian accidents and deaths in the past 6 or 7 months. This is a big topic of discussion. I got up early, went to the press conference, got interviews, stayed with this story throughout the entire day, and turned it into an amazing package. Plus, I was desk assistant from 8-midnight (it was a long, but good, day). Please watch my story below and let me know what you think. After a week of terrible hardship (and I’m not even going into EVERYTHING that went wrong because this is already too long), I overcame it yesterday.

If you’re having a hard time and feeling burnt out. Don’t give up. Everyone faces failure. Don’t take it personally. You might fail, but YOU are not a failure.

Thanks for reading. I love and appreciate your support.

http://www.komu.com/news/columbia-announced-pedestrian-safety-task-force/

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Life Update Because I Felt Like It

I don’t post on social media very much. Most of my posts to Facebook and Twitter are at the urging of my best friends who think a particular post would be funny. Occasionally I update my photos to something recent or noteworthy.

Overall, I am not the most popular. I have a small group of close friends and quite a few acquaintances, but I keep most of my life private. We are warned early on as journalists that over-sharing can get us in trouble, and no one wants to be fired down the line because a tweet or Facebook post is taken the wrong way and a news organization doesn’t want to represent that.

Maybe out of fear of that sentiment, or maybe because my life is super boring and I don’t have a lot to share, I simply don’t post much. But, at times, I’d like to give an update of my life. So, here it goes.

I’m a junior at Mizzou. I plan to graduate in May 2016. I am a journalism major with an emphasis in Radio/Television Reporting and Anchoring. I plan on spending a decent chunk of this coming semester at KOMU. I am also working on a history minor because I love it so much. I live in an apartment with three roommates. I spent some of winter break back home in Georgia and it feels really weird living in two places. I want to go back home to Georgia, or at least the Southeast, after I graduate but I will go anywhere I can get a decent job. I work part time at Office Depot in Columbia, and I have some really awesome co-workers. I am still the president of NSCS at Mizzou and many of my posts on Facebook will likely continue to be about that. In the little free time that I ever have, I like to leisure read, draw, paint, or listen to music. I got a private tour of the Chiefs stadium, Arrowhead, from my brother around Christmas time and it was one of the best days ever. My favorite sports teams are Mizzou (obviously), KC Chiefs, KC Royals, and the St. Louis Cardinals when they are in season and Morgan and Kaylyn watch every game.

That’s probably more than you care about. But, I thought I might share. Y’all can go on about your lives now.

Pretty days and PED

What a beautiful day! Today was 65 and sunny, and I am so happy because the Missouri winter has gone on long enough. Spring, here we come (hopefully)!

Today, my shift at KBIA kept me pretty busy. I was assigned a story about the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PED. It’s a virus only found in swine and it’s killing millions of little piglets (I know, devastating and gross). Because of this, pork prices will likely rise towards the end of the summer, so don’t be too surprised when your bacon costs six or seven bucks at the store. They can’t contain this virus that’s killed about five million pigs nationwide.

This story made my stomach turn. How disturbing! One source I spoke with said this one virus is just a small issue within a bigger problem. The mass production style of the meat producing industry has spread all kinds of viruses to our food. You know those salmonella outbreaks that occur a few times a year? Yeah, that’s no accident or coincidence. People should definitely look into how their food is made. I did today and I might go vegetarian. But then again pesticides used for fruits and vegetables can be harmful too…

I guess the world will starve if we solve these food industry problems because there’s basically nothing you can eat without the risk of running into these things. Everyone has to eat and there’s billions of us on Earth so it’s hard to do this without killing some people off. That same source I talked to said something along the lines of, we put high quality gas in our cars but don’t think about what we put in our mouths. Food for thought, my friends.

Anyways, the rest of my day turned out pretty well, especially considering my B1 lab partner and I procrastinated on a video story until today. Sometimes, things get busy and there’s just not enough hours in the day. That’s just the life of a journalist, I suppose.

Special birthday shout out to my childhood best friend Maurizia Taylor and my Mizzou friend Morgan Young! Love y’all both and I hope you guys had wonderful days!

Just Listen and Relax

In the past few weeks, I’ve tried to update my blog every Thursday, but that doesn’t always happen, so bear with me. It’s happening this week on Thursday night because I’m studying for a very difficult History of American Journalism exam and I need a break (just being honest!). 

I’ve been thinking about the theme for this weeks blog basically all week. I was inspired by a post from my good friend Kevin Modelski where he talks about how music has been his go-to stress reliever when life gets busy. I agreed with him, and for me, music is my stress reliever, too. I love when music says what I want to say out loud, but maybe I don’t have the outlet or time. I would much rather write or sing a song than give a speech. There’s something about putting the specifics of your troubles behind and finding your happy place in a melody; it just feels right.

The music you listen to tends to say a lot about who you are and how you feel. If someone were to ask me my favorite artist, for the past two years I would have probably answered Amy Winehouse.

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I know what you’re thinking: “How could Amy Winehouse be her favorite artist when she was such a mess?” Let me explain. I realize how controversial Amy’s life was. She was an alcoholic, a drug addict and posthumously her brother revealed she also had an eating disorder. But, the struggles in her short life (she died at age 27) were both a blessing and a curse. Amy sang mostly sad love ballads (and also the infamous “Rehab”) that came out as brilliantly written material.

When Amy died, I was 17 and angsty. People kept talking about how she was a legend and had this incredible voice, and I wanted to see for myself. I remember the first time I saw the video for “Tears Dry On Their Own,” which is put to the tune of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I was floored, and that’s not even Amy’s best work. Somehow, through the sad love songs (especially on Frank), I became happier. Amy’s voice took me away from it all. That’s what music is meant to do: make you forget your troubles and give you hope. That’s what Amy’s music meant to me.

Nowadays, I’m less into British depressing, jazzy-soul music. My Amy Winehouse phase also consisted of Adele, Duffy, Leona Lewis, Corinne Bailey Rae, etc. Now, I’m more into pop vocalists with R&B flares. I’m so extremely happy for the comeback of one of my childhood favorites, JoJo, who was a secret guest feature on Pharrell’s new album G I R L. I adored Ariana Grande’s Yours Truly, and “Honeymoon Avenue” is still one of my favorite songs. I’ve also been listening to Mariah Carey, Tori Kelly, Justin Timberlake, and new-comers Kat Dahlia and Kenzie May.

The point I’m trying to make is that no matter what you listen to, music should always be an outlet. Journalism is great and I feel like I’m living out a dream, but no one thing can consume your entire life. Away from interviews and writing articles, I like to spend my time nose deep in music that frees my soul. It’s inspiration for the motivation of what I do in my career and my life. I have my favorites, but no matter what genre, I always love a feel-good song. There comes a time where I just have to escape the stress and let the music do the talking for me.

Harrowing Tales of Opportunities Gone By

Okay, so maybe that title is a little dramatic, but I had quite the day on my second KBIA shift Thursday.

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This is a photo from The Crossing Church on Feb. 27, where firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt’s memorial took place. Another reporter and I were sent out to cover some of the public perception of his tragic death (re: http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2014/2/22/university-village-evacuated/).

One of our newsroom directors said she had heard that the business owners downtown watched the processional and waved flags. Problem is, when we went downtown to get some reaction, most of the businesses weren’t even open during the processional, and most of the owners didn’t even seem to care that it was going on. We tried to make it to the Crossing before the processional got there, but they arrived early, so the only photos we could really get were of the flags outside. This one was hung up with ladders from two fire trucks:

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This one shows some of the firetrucks and police vehicles in the parking lot. Firefighters from all over the state, and even some from out of state, came to support Lt. Britt.

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While I like the photos I took, I was pretty disappointed I missed my chance to get good interviews or photos of the action. I pitched the story about the memorial, but the newsroom director wanted a different angle that just wasn’t there. Since the story fell through, I was assigned to cover something else; the annual True/False Film Fest.

Anyone who lives in Columbia, Mo. or knows anything about the town knows that True/False is one of the most exciting times of the year. Filmgoers from all over the country come to CoMo to see movies by freelance filmmakers, art by freelance artists, and you guessed it, music by freelance musicians.

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The festival started Thursday and will continue through Sunday, March 2nd. The photo above shows a buffalo made from keyboard keys that we passed on our way downtown to cover the Britt story. It’s obviously from an artist who was in town for True/False. I feel pretty lucky I got this shot, since later in the day I had to cover the festival anyways.

The problem was, though, that True/False didn’t really begin until the first film was shown at 4:30pm. When I tried to get a story at 2pm, not many people were around, and most of them didn’t want to talk to a lowly reporter. While it would have been nice to stick around until after 4pm to see the action, I had been on the job since 9:15am, and my shift was supposed to end at about 12:45pm (I have a class from 12:30-1:45pm, so I usually go to that class, then finish my story right after, then go home).

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Exhausted, I returned to the newsroom with some natural sound from the True/False Box Office and one interview from a volunteer. I cut the audio and threw it into a story, but in all honesty, I wasn’t very proud of my work. I was too late to the memorial and wasn’t able to get a story, and I was too early to the film festival and was barely able to put together a reader for the air. I feel like I missed out on great opportunities for stories that sounded good in theory, but when put into action, didn’t come to fruition.

I understand that journalism is all about experience, and even through a bad experience, one can learn a lot about what they are trying to do. I learned that even when a story sounds good, it doesn’t always come together the way we want. Sometimes, what we think happened didn’t happen, and what we think will happen doesn’t happen. Even though I was challenged Thursday, I know I will have more opportunities to improve next time. It was the first time I went out in the field to cover a story for KBIA! No one can expect one to be perfect on the first try. Though it would have been nice if I were more successful that day…

Here’s my web story from KBIA.org. Check it out: http://kbia.org/post/true-false-film-festival-showcase-more-40-films

Sports and Journeys and Finish Lines

My dad used to always say, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

He usually said this while watching some sporting event, often frustrated at our hometown favorites (the Chiefs or the Royals) when they got down a couple touchdowns in the first half or gave up a run in the first inning. Sometimes, he would even say this when one of his favorite teams started strong, but he hoped they wouldn’t get too arrogant and blow their lead at the last second.

Even though he liked the apply this phrase to sports, it can easily apply to any part of life.

I’ve learned a lot about tenacity and sticking with the things I’ve started, especially this week.

I’m in a class where I didn’t do so well on the first test, and I considered dropping the class. After talking to my advisor and realizing the implications of what would happen if I dropped it, I decided it would be better to stick it out and try to do better as the semester goes on. My advisor offered that I go to my professor’s office hours and ask how he would suggest studying for the tests. I realized I still had a chance to be successful as long as I stepped up to the plate and gave the class more effort.

I also struggled this week as President of an organization on campus. There is an executive board, and some of the officers aren’t working as hard as they should. While a part of me wants to stop trying to pull teeth just to get these officers to do their part, another part of me is more patient. Everyone deserves their fair chance to succeed, and sometimes we get derailed. Sometimes we need someone to cut us a break and support us after we fall and need to get back up again. I know what it’s like to be derailed, and only patience can guide us to help others in their path to success. While sometimes we start strong, there is still a journey to the finish line, and every journey has its bumps in the road.

In some situations, we start out strong, but struggle to keep that strength throughout the entire game. In other instances, we don’t start strong, but we work our way up and finish successfully. In either case, we must be patient and take it one step at a time.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

The Real Deal

This year is one I have been looking forward to for almost 2 years.

Some people say millennials are lazy, think everything should be handed to them and have no drive for the future. I don’t like being called a millennial for this very reason. I am the complete opposite, and I have been since childhood.

I took an online summer class last summer and 17 credit hours last semester in an effort to get into my emphasis area in the Journalism School early. I am now in my first semester of broadcast journalism. I have been working towards this for over a year and I have been hard working and driven the whole way.

As a part of my Broadcast News 1 class, I work a shift at the NPR affiliate radio station in Columbia; KBIA. Last Thursday was my first shift and I loved it, challenges and all.

Some people say it’s important to get involved in what you think you want to do before you do it in class, just to make sure you like it, but that was not necessary for me in this case.

I worked on a story about Ameren Missouri, an energy company that powers most go the state of Missouri and surrounding areas. Noranda Aluminum, located in the boot heel of Missouri in New Madrid, close to the Tennessee border, filed a complaint against Ameren because Ameren supposedly earned more money than the state allows in 2012. In 2012, they earned $80 million more than the state allows. Predictions forecast Ameren for over earning for 2013 as well. Noranda argued for the Missouri Public Service Commission to overlook Ameren’s paperwork and see why they over earned and how to resolve the situation. Noranda also asked for a decrease in rates, for which they employ Ameren to power their aluminum smelter in New Madrid.

After getting this story, I did tons of research online. I was able to get a phone interview with a Noranda representative, and a press release from Ameren. In class, we always learn about how important stories always have conflict, and this one surely did. Noranda didn’t like that Ameren admitted to over earning and wanted a decrease in rates, while Ameren said they strongly disagreed with the complaints filed against them and didn’t think Noranda should get a rate decrease because they already have the lowest rates in the state.

While this may not seem entertaining to the common individual, I got a thrill out of doing the story. It wasn’t the conflict specifically; it was the fact that I was being a real broadcast reporter and doing what I have dreamed of since I was 6 or 7 years old. I was even able to hear my reader-ack being broadcasted on the radio that night. What a joy.

I am so grateful for the experience of reporting at a radio station, even though I want to be a TV anchor. Hearing people’s stories and telling both sides is something that is important to me and something I love to do. I only hope that my success continues and I am able to get great stories again and again.

Here is a link to the web story from my KBIA shift Thursday: http://kbia.org/post/noranda-aluminum-files-two-complaints-against-ameren-missouri

Some Advice to Being Successful in J2150

There are so many aspects to multimedia journalism, and it can be overwhelming! But, if you you follow these few quick tips, you are sure to be successful in J2150.

1. Find an inspirational story. It’s so easy to choose a story about your cat at home, but chances are, you’re going to get pretty bored with that topic and your work will suffer. Look for things around town that aren’t readily known, but also have an interesting story to tell. Also, pick something that involves going outdoors. Closed rooms where your roommate practices piano (unless he’s a prodigy) will get dull, fast.

2. Open up your creative side. Think of cameras, recorders, etc. as your tools, like a paintbrush or pastels. What you do with those tools can make your work great, or can make it really suffer. You can either paint a Picasso, or do some Kindergarten art. My advice is to get some great angles, known your subjects and their best attributes, and create the best work of art that will go down in multimedia history.

3. Don’t procrastinate. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you hear it all the time, but seriously. Don’t wait until the last minute. Sally does a great job of helping you if things go wrong, but I’m pretty sure she’ll be peeved if you call her the night before with issues that should have been sorted out days ago. Technology can be tricky, and sometimes it doesn’t like to work. So, don’t wait until the last minute, and if you have problems, there will likely be someone there to help you.

4. Come to class. Seems basic, right? But those days where the class critiques each other’s work can be really helpful. If you think you did an amazing project, your classmates might point out some places where you missed the mark. Or, if you think you did horrible, your classmates may point out the great parts of your project that made it work.

5. Figure out what you are good at. Don’t take the chance at using great, expensive equipment for granted. You may not have a $1500 camera at your disposal after this class. But, if you are good at using it, take the photos for your final project. If you have a good ear and a knack for getting good interviews, use the audio recorder to your advantage. It is beneficial to find out what you are best at before the final project so you and your group mates can easily divvy up the work and produce the best product in the end.

6. Finally, trust yourself. You have the potential to do great in this class. As long as you follow the steps above, you shouldn’t have any problems. My best advice is to remember that for many people, this is their first time doing multiple types of multimedia work at once. If you don’t do your best the first time, pick yourself up and try again. There are tons of opportunities to revise your work to make it the best possible, and to get some extra credit along the way. Trust that you are willing and able to get the work done, and you will be on your way to an A. If you ever get a little discouraged, just remember this:

“I can do anything good, better than anyone.”

English Graduate Students Association Annual Book Sale

The English Graduate Students Association’s Annual Book Sale is taking place today, Wed. April 17, 2013, in the Tate Hall Auditorium. The book sale is only one day each Spring according to EGSA coordinator Rebecca Mouser.
“All of the books are donated,” Mouser said. The proceeds from the book sale are used to fund conferences for the Association.

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Mouser said they usually make about $900 to $1300 each year from the sale.

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The books that are not sold are either saved for next year, or donated to Goodwill, according to Mouser.

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The sale not only includes books, but also vinyl, VHS and CDs. The vinyls are price negotiable.

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The book sale started this morning at 9 a.m. and will continue until 2 p.m. The sale is today only, and will reopen again for one day next spring.

Animals Laugh Too, Right?

So, my best friends and I are extremely goofy. We’re always making jokes with each other, and we rarely get mad at each other because we never take each other too seriously. We have a knack for sharing funny videos and Buzzfeed articles on each other’s Facebook pages, and earlier this week, one of my friends posted the video above one on one of our walls. These two guys are students from the University of Virginia (as shown by their hats in other videos on their page) and they definitely have the same mentality as my friends and I by never taking each other too seriously. Plus, they already have more than 23 million views on this video alone, which was just posted last week.

After laughing hysterically, I thought about the history of funny videos. Really, they’ve only been around for about five or ten years, tops. With the Internet expanding so much, there’s more and more places to be creative. That really translates to journalism, because now there’s more and more places to spread the news as well. How many stories can we get to reach 23 million people?

What’s even more frightening (to me at least) is that people become famous this way! People like Justin Bieber get record deals, and comedians like Jenna Marbles become household names. I think that’s cool and all, but it’s so easy to just sit behind a computer screen in the comfort of your own home. I like people that actually get out there and do something, and get famous the genuine way, if that’s what they aim for. I don’t know, it’s just my opinion. More power to them, using their tools of technology to their advantage.

Anyways, enjoy the video, check out their others as well! Can’t wait for this week to fly by; I’ll be taking care of Greek Week’s Fling for the student newspaper as well as filming and shooting for the final project. On top of that, I will be studying for tests and other projects in my classes. Let’s hope I make it! To anyone reading this who may be stressed out, you can do it! We are in the home stretch, only about a month left! Yay for summer!