Day 3 – A day in the field builds confidence among young journalists
June 17, 2015
The college-age mentors leading high school students on their first reporting assignments Wednesday morning worried about weather, confidence and technological failure.
Morning showers threatened to wash out plans for Moe Daniels’ group to record video of scientists demonstrating their research project at the outdoor campus rain garden.
Daniels, an NKU senior journalism major, made arrangements to move the shoot to a research lab in the science center. But she was disappointed. Would the footage be as good?
Taylor Upchurch could sense that the four members of her group were nervous about asking questions as they prepared to cover a string music camp in the Fine Arts Center.
She tried to build their confidence. “Remember that the people like to have stories written about them,” said Upchurch, a junior journalism major. “They’re enjoying this whole entire experience. If they’re enjoying it, you can, too.”
Initially, Andrea Carter, a junior journalism major leading a group reporting on a robotics camp for middle schoolers, wondered about her group’s nerves, as well. But as they talked with her about their plans, she felt better. “At least we’re going to try to smooth things out before we go,” she explained.
Based on experience, mentors Ashley Hempfling and Brittany Murphy, both electronic media and broadcast majors focused on preparing their students for the challenges of technology.
Hempfling feared camera malfunctions. “Things like that just make me nervous,” she said. “You’re in front of people trying to set stuff up and the equipment doesn’t work with you,” she said.
And Murphy hoped her group could learn from the mistakes she had made on her college video projects.
“Video is my thing,” she stated. She gave her students tips on framing their shots and improving the quality of the audio.
“If there’s something is a little noisy in the background, don’t think you can still get decent audio,” she said. “Some little noise in the back can definitely overpower the audio.”
An hour later, they’d return with stories of challenges – from tripod and camera malfunctions to adapting their shots to deal with the glare of glass surrounding the anthropology museums cases.
Despite such tribulations, their stories were a success.
“You could see the students gain confidence throughout the interview process,” said Derek Daley, who accompanied the anthropology museum group. “They would start out nervous. But by the end, they were speaking with authority.”
Here’s the story behind that transformation.
Cameras capture robots in action
The nerves of four high school students began to fade as they entered the robot-filled room. With their tools for the day in place, they lowered themselves to the ground to obtain what they came for: video footage of the CinSam’s Robotic Space Challenge summer camp.
Participants scattered throughout the area, some high, some low, so that they could film middle school students as they built and programmed robots with nothing but Legos and computers.
Mari Froude, senior at Talawanda High School, immediately dropped to her knees to film the machines while they maneuvered through various obstacles. At the same time, Ryle High School sophomore Callie Bolling, paced the room with her camera in hand capturing the building process.
During the interviews, the children gleefully discussed everything from future plans in engineering to the creation of the universe. The students dutifully noted their responses then prompted them with a new question.
However, the day was not without its trouble. Whether it was a detached leg or unstable form, tripods were the cause of nearly all of the participants issues.
“The tripod incident kinda worried me,” admitted Natalie Hempfling, a sophomore from Campbell County High School. “I would repeatedly check to make sure nothing else was going wrong. I wish I focused a little more on the interview.”
But with a quick jog to restock tripods, the interviews continued without any further complications. And the students’ preparation seemed to pay off.
“I am shocked at how much fun I had,” said Isabela Gibson, junior at McCauley High School, while reflecting on her experience filming her first interview. “Once the kids began to talk, I became interested and invested in what they were trying to accomplish.”
String camp and journalists create harmony during video shoot
In hopes to gather footage of young instrumentalists with their bows in action, four aspiring high school journalists trudged their way across the concrete jungle packing their production gear to their main destination- the Fine Arts building.
NKU’s String Project became a home for many young children, between the ages of 8 and 13, who wished to learn more about new techniques that could improve their performance of their instrument of choice.
Hannah Brandell, senior at Mount Notre Dame High School, who had her video camera in hand, opted to interview Dr. Holly Attar, the Director of NKU’s Music Preparatory Department, in order to showcase the influence that the camp had on its participants.
“When we talked to Holly Attar, she talked about how instead of just teaching them about music theory, music history, and different techniques, she would try to build their character and teach them how to be motivated and [how to have] self-discipline.”
Despite the fact that the summer violin camper’s ambitions differentiated from the aspirations of the young journalists within their own camp, the likenesses were still apparent.
Brandell discovered indications of these connections through the lens during her interviews with the children.
“Their camp was similar [to the journalism camp] because they had everyone in one group where they could do things together, but they also divided them into smaller groups and gave them more personal attention,” said Brandell, “which I found [out] from one of the campers because she really liked it when they were just with the teacher because then she got the feedback that she really needed.”
And even though the journalists had dysfunctional tripod experiences, they still managed to successfully obtain material that would benefit their videos.
Both Charlie Goldsmith, junior at The Seven Hills School, and Brianna Jones, junior at Walnut Hills High School, achieved their goals of capturing the perfect shots by dropping to their knees and even resorting to lying on the floor.
Rachel Daddieh, senior at Lakota West, pushed herself to go above and beyond the expectations to produce an article and video that could put her readers in her shoes, almost as if they could envision that they were there.
“It’s nerve-wracking because it’s like, my work is out there,” said Daddieh. “You need to make it the best you can make it, especially since you aren’t given a lot of time. Usually projects are given days or even a deadline in a week and we just have an hour or two, but we still got it done.”
“The best part about today was just going to this other camp and actually learning about what’s happening in their camp and just seeing the kids happy and learning the classical instruments,” Daddieh said.
Cartooning, tripods, and confidence: students overcome obstacles during a video journalism shoot.
Three students entered a classroom in Northern Kentucky University’s Founders Hall with equipment bags hanging off their shoulders. Only mere minutes after arriving, the students faced their first hurdle. Two of their three tripods were broken.
Standing in the Cartooning Under the Sea class with one functional tripod, the students adapted quickly. In a generous act, the tripod was passed around the room as the students switched between handheld and the more stable option of a tripod.
With crisis avoided, the students got to work. The first thing on the to-do list: B-roll. Due to the class ending 45 minutes after they arrived, the students had to insure they captured enough b-roll footage for their video.
Hesitant at first, an encouraging word from their mentor sparked a fire. The group of three entered the small maze of tables to get up and personal with the young artists with a found confidence, which proved to be the theme of the day.
As the students moved on to the interviews, their confidence in their own skills became beneficial when Rita Grant, an art instructor, expressed nervousness about being interviewed.
“The tools we learned here helped make them comfortable,” said Shubrath Shetty, sophomore at The Seven Hills Schools, about the interviewees. After asking Grant her name and what she was doing there, or as taught to them the day prior as the “number one question”, Grant relaxed and was able to answer her questions with more conviction.
Confidence made a final appearance from Grant when she explained how art builds up the children’s confidence. She also said it was the most important thing the students took from the class and she saw it when the children called themselves an artist.
“Every child is an artist until someone tells them they’re not,” Grant explained.
The questions continued to flow, the students even opted to go a few minutes into their own lunch time to ask their remaining questions.
On their way back for lunch, the students expressed pride; each of them having huge smiles and praise for their entire groups, no matter what obstacles they had to face.
“We had setbacks, but we pushed through it,” said Elizabeth Juengling, sophomore at Highland High School.
“It was a learning experience,” said Amilcar Enrique-Torres, sophomore at Walnut Hills High School. “It was good to practice interviewing; it prepares us for the real world.”
Science video shoot prevails despite the rain
Unsure of what to expect, four students ventured across the rainy campus to the Dorothy Westermann Herrmann Science Center to complete their first task as real-world reporters.
Students from the group were assigned to do a series of video interviews with NKU science students who are spending their summer researching the rain garden.
“What exactly is a rain garden?” asked Steven Richter, sophomore at Highlands High School.
As journalists that was their job to find out.
Richter was nervous prior to the shoot, but felt that the different video techniques he learned from instructor, John Gibson, made him more confident during his interviews.
“I used the headroom technique a lot because when you are setting up an interview you have to get the right shot and you have to make sure the person is in the correct position on the screen-their head can’t be chopped off or arms,” said Richter.
Despite a rainy day, students were able to leave the research labs where the interviews took place and actually go out to the rain garden to shoot video footage.
Jake Huseman, freshman at Anderson High School, made the most of a difficult journalistic situation. Upon arriving at the shoot, Huseman realized that the battery to his video camera was not in the bag. He quickly improvised and came up with a solution to share Richter’s camera.
“I feel like I was able to get the interviewee in the right spot on the camera. Beforehand, I probably would have put the person right in the middle of the camera, which I realize now looks really bad,” said Huseman.
Sara Ruberg, sophomore student at Mother of Mercy High School, was eager to go out and practice her journalism skills in a real world setting.
“Today, I actually learned about the subjects that we were chosen to interview about,” Ruberg said. “I found it really interesting. I was glad I could learn about our environment and how we can preserve it.”
Madeline Leesman, a senior at Saint Ursula, had little experience with video journalism prior to the video shoot, but proved to be confident during her interviews.
“At first I wasn’t sure how you should position the camera when you’re interviewing somebody—if you should hold the camera or put it on a tripod and it made it just a lot easier to understand and made me more comfortable,” said Leesman.
Throughout the rest of the week, the students will create video news story on a professional Adobe software. By doing this, students are able to utilize modern techniques and skills that journalists must know in today’s ever-changing world such as taping a video, editing a video on software, and writing a text story.
Exploring a hidden gem
Strapped with cameras and tripods, a group of four high school students took off to NKU’s relatively unknown anthropology museum located in Landrum Academic Center.
As they walked the hallway leading to the second-floor museum, they nervously observed photos of African masks and a collection of embroidered and jeweled hats symbolizing cultures from southeast Asia.
Judy Voelker, director of the museum and assistant anthropology professor, welcomed the students into the museum, which is slightly larger than a typical office. As the students split into pairs to conduct their interviews they contemplated where to shoot their subjects.
To ensure a quiet setting Sam Roberts, a junior from Simon Kenton and Lydia Human, a senior from Calvary Christian High, asked Voelker to step into the hallway, leaving the other two students and interviewee in the museum. They positioned their cameras using the rule of thirds, putting Voelker far left and a display of hats in the center and far right.
Savannah Deur, a sophomore from Goshen High School in Ohio, began framing her subject. “I don’t want that handicap sign in the background,” she said.
Whitney Bronson a senior from Walnut Hills took out a notepad full of questions to begin the interview. She and her group members questioned Voelker about the museum’s founding, the sources of artifacts and details about her travels to collect museum pieces.
As students snapped pictures of the art, Voelker explained the history of an intricate bead work and yard paintings.
“Sheltered in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico the Huichol people hold fast to their ancient cultural traditions and styles of art,” Voelker said. She said the beads used to be held together by bees wax and most of the artworks portray serpents, deities and Jieuri, a potent plant.
Once the interviews were over the students seemed less overwhelmed.
“I was a little nervous about the people we were interviewing because I didn’t know if they were going to be difficult or everything was going to be perfectly fine,” said Whitney Bronson , a senior from Walnut Hills High. “And I wasn’t entirely sure if I had good questions and if I would be able to make a story out of it … I feel like I got very good answers from both of the people that we interviewed.”
Deuer seemed excited to write her story and edit her video. “I thought it was really cool being able to go to the museum,” she said. “It was almost more fun than I thought it would be. We got really good information and shots.”