Janice’s Review Blog

Archive for October 2009

On Friday, Oct. 23, colleges from the Maricopa County Community College District gathered at Mesa Community College from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to hear from eight seasoned journalists on the changes in the industry.

Tim Vetscher, ABC15; Mike Rynearson, photo editor and photographer; Nick Martin, HeatCity.org; Dennis Welch, Arizona Guardian; and Le Templar, East Valley Tribune prepare to speak at Mesa Community College Journalism Editors Conference.

Tim Vetscher, ABC15; Mike Rynearson, photo editor and photographer; Nick Martin, HeatCity.org; Dennis Welch, Arizona Guardian; and Le Templar, East Valley Tribune prepare to speak at Mesa Community College Journalism Editors Conference.

Gretchen Berning, MCC journalism instructor,  introduced the Journalism Editors Conference panel, which consisted of Paul Brinkley-Rogers, reporter; Valeria Fernandez, NPR freelance reporter; Ray Stern, New Times; Tim Vetscher, ABC15; Mike Rynearson, photo editor and photographer; Nick Martin, HeatCity.org, Dennis Welch, Arizona Guardian; and Le Templar, East Valley Tribune.  The panel started the event with their backgrounds.  The main thread of the conversations focused on the desire to stay in journalism, changes taking place and the diversity of everyone on the panel to adapt to the changes and carry on no matter what they faced along the way.

Brinkley-Rogers the most experienced in the group and the oldest reeled off his credentials and the changes he faced over his 52 years in the business.  He started in the business at 17 and worked on the staff of Stars and Stripes while in the Navy in Tokyo.  Over his 52 years, he wrote for a number of publications, most recently La Voz.

At almost 70, Brinkley-Rogers suffered a layoff.  He said that he responded with depression for about 30 days and then he went out and travelled to Costa Rica and discovered the contrasts with newsprint there and here.  When he returned to the U.S., he looked for a teaching job, and it came from MCC.  He also spends time on Facebook and he spoke of the fascinating phenomena of all these people on Facebook who want to exchange information.  He wants to explore this phenomena further and possibly blog about it.  He says about journalism, “I think the future is still being worked out.”  Sooner or later, I think there’ll be a new model.

Vetscher said, “I’m a multimedia journalist these days at ABC15.  Used to be a reporter, they changed my title.  Been here about three years, and I work with the students up at Paradise Valley Community College.  I’ve been all over the place.  I’ve been in Kansas City, Memphis Tenn., Lincoln, Neb., Minnesota, Milwaukee.”

Vetscher characterizes the last nine months as a huge adjustment from reporter to multimedia journalist .  He refers to his current position as “a one-man band” where he writes, gets interviews and does media on video and online, but he does everything to keep his job.

Both Martin and Welch left the East Valley Tribune because of a layoff.  Each struck out on his own, but in different ways.

At the time of his layoff, Martin thought that his job was secure, but at 27 and with three months of severance pay he started HeatCity.org on his own and planned to make the Serial Shooter trial a big part of the blog site.  He took his laptop and card to the courtroom and blogged live.  Public funding requests pay for the Web site, and he says, “Very experimental, but so far, very successful.”  Each time Martin requests funds, his readers and supporters deliver.

“You are an individual brand,” he says.  You manage your brand with a blog and a Twitter account, so you have a good way to get followers and reach out for freelance work.  The social media presence is important for the next step in his career.  He writes for Phoenix Magazine and became a stringer working on 100 different projects.  He says it takes a lot of work to pay the bills and although he got paid very well for three days to follow Mike Tyson after his daughter’s death, he felt it was a terrible thing to do.

Brinkley-Rogers and Fernandez showing their true journalistic spirit both encouraged Martin to write about his experience with the Mike Tyson story.

Welch, another casualty of the Tribune layoff, decided to go a different route than Martin.  With a business man and three other journalist, he became an owner and writer of The Arizona Guardian, which sells on subscription and specializes in government and political news with other plans in the works.

If you go into business, go into business with a business man or woman, advises Welch.  The overhead of this online presence for The Arizona Guardian is almost nothing and so we don’t need big ad revenue.  The marketing campaign consisted of publicizing by word-of-mouth, possessing credentials to cover legislature, appearing on Horizon and breaking good stories.

As the East Valley Tribune opinion page editor, Arizona Press Club vice president and contest chair and PVCC instructor and blog adviser, Le Templar feels blogging becomes a challenge because “almost everyone that has an opinion can express it.”  He needs to find a way to get readers to come to his blog, and he tries to bridge the old and new media by balancing news in the newspaper and his blog.  He makes radio and TV appearances, uses Twitter, but fails at video, so he laughingly concludes he needs to take Vetscher’s PVCC video class.

Over the next 20 years, Templar wants to become knowledgable on key issues and events in the Valley and East Valley so that readers come to read his opinions. 

An independent journalist, who arrived in the U.S. from Uruguay 10 years ago, Fernandez started at La Voz with Brinkley-Rogers as her mentor.  She writes in Spanish and English and by starting at a small paper got to do everything.  She believes, “There’s always the opportunity to do great stuff.”

Before leaving La Voz to become an independent journalist, Fernandez had lots of front page stories and small daily stories and features.  Currently, Fernandez learns to do public radio and wants to do a radio show in Spanish.  She also goes out and follows local and community stories whether she has a client or not for them.  She uses her Spanish and all of the other tools of her trade.

“Try to surround yourself with people who are open-minded and will allow you to use your enthusiasm and put it to work,” says Fernandez.

A year ago, Rynearson retired from the Arizona Republic, but he soon got bored because there was nothing to do after doing everything.  He now teaches photo journalism at MCC and does freelance work in travel photography.  

“Now I’m busier than I was when I was working,” Rynearson says.

Since the early ’80s, Rynearson says a huge change took place in news photography.  Photos switched from black and white to color and then digital came along, which was a cost saving issue.  When the Internet became popular, the production of photos became immediate.  Slide shows came first and then videos and audio feeds into slide shows.  He emphasizes there’s always a need for photos, but it depends on the media.

Think outside the box, says Rynearson.  Go out in different directions.  Learn all you can and learn to fix computers.  The industry changes daily.

When you’re on location and the laptop breaks, you need to know how to fix it, says Rynearson.  When photos needed to be developed, he said they’d find a place with running water and many times they’d use toilet water to rinse them.  He described the innovation used to get the photos done.

Stern moved from the Tribune to the New Times.  The New Times wanted him to blog, and he averaged about seven blog posts per day.  Recently he went back to staff writing, but he still needs to do two blog posts per day.  He believes that the Internet has made everything more stressful and tougher. 

“My job seems tougher now than it ever has been,” says Stern.  It takes a lot of time, but makes money in the Web world and print for the New Times.

Paul Brinkley-Rogers, reporter; Valeria Fernandez, NPR freelance reporter; Ray Stern, New Times; and Tim Vetscher, ABC15 chat after the panel discussion at Mesa Community College Journalism Editors Conference.

Paul Brinkley-Rogers, reporter; Valeria Fernandez, NPR freelance reporter; Ray Stern, New Times; and Tim Vetscher, ABC15 chat after the panel discussion at Mesa Community College Journalism Editors Conference.

As a student from PVCC, I enjoyed hearing from all of the journalists and talking to them after the panel session one-on-one.  They showed how tenacity keeps them in the game of journalism, how they network and help each other, how important it is to learn everything and be diverse and most importantly to realize as Welch said, “Loyalty is to yourself.”

Student Miguel Saucedo, ABC15 multimedia journalist Tim Vetscher and TV producer Jorge Melchor work on broadcast pilot.

Student Miguel Saucedo, ABC15 multimedia journalist Tim Vetscher and TV producer Jorge Melchor work on broadcast pilot.

Every Friday morning, the Paradise Valley Community College Puma Press newsroom comes alive with bright-eyed students anxious to learn the latest techniques in the broadcast world.  Puma Press adviser Judy Galbraith recruits the best and brightest personalities to come in and teach students all of the aspects of journalism.

Jorge Melchor and Judy Galbraith, Puma Press adviser and journalism instructor, discuss broadcast projects.

Jorge Melchor and Judy Galbraith, Puma Press adviser and journalism instructor, discuss broadcast projects.

In the spring and fall 2009 semesters, Puma Press editors got the opportunity to work with ABC15 News multimedia journalist Tim Vetscher on a broadcast pilot.

Miguel Saucedo and Tim Vetscher brainstorm a video script.

Miguel Saucedo and Tim Vetscher brainstorm a video script.

 

Vetscher took students through all of the steps of producing a video for broadcast including gathering information, logging clips, writing the script, completing the personal audio, editing the information and publishing the final product.  He explained the shots needed for B-roll, which covers all of the video clips from interviews to background information, and A-roll for all the audio information.  The B-roll consists of wide, medium and tight shots.  The interview process uses the rule of thirds, and students need to be aware of shooting subjects from the right and the left to maintain balance in their production.

Miguel Saucedo and Tim Vetscher edit Saucedo's video.

Miguel pre="Miguel ">Saucedo and Tim Vetscher edit Saucedo's video.

The rule of thumb is five seconds for B-roll clips, says Vetscher.  Think in a sense of sequencing while shooting B-roll using a wide shot, a medium shot and then a tight shot and don’t do anything the eye can’t do. 

Writing scripts using the inverted pyramid, students plan their shots, so they know what they need to film.  Vetscher says that it’s important to use the inverted pyramid style to start vague and work down to very specific details thus capturing and keeping the viewers’ attention.

Students cover a wide range of subjects including David Bradley’s Musiciphilia, the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, women in the military, the PVCC enrollment and budget, H1N1 flu strain and many other topics.  Students also gained other valuable help from Jorge Melchor, a TV producer from Mexico, who recently  joined the program and shared his expertise.

Student Carmela Kelly, Miguel Saucedo, Tim Vetscher and Jorge Melchor work on broadcast projects.

Student Carmela Kelly, Miguel Saucedo, Tim Vetscher and Jorge Melchor work on broadcast projects.

The pilot covers the use of the camera, Final Cut Pro and lots of hands-on and group practice and interaction.  Students go out and shoot their clips and work to produce videos that get posted on the Puma Press Web site.

In spring 2010, Vetscher teaches a broadcast class JRN 212 for credit.  He’ll use the textbook “Television Field Production and Reporting” to teach students even more about the subject of multimedia journalism.

Martha Raddatz writes of the realities of war in 'The Long Road Home.'

Martha Raddatz writes of the realities of war in 'The Long Road Home.'

The news casts show brave soldiers leaving their tearful families to travel to foreign lands to fight a war.  Broadcasts report the battles and the soldiers lost or the return of injured and dead.

In her book, “The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family,” Martha Raddatz writes of the horrors, realities and sacrifices that go with the lives of the soldiers and their families as they leave for war torn lands.    She documents the rescue of a platoon in Sadr City on April 4, 2004 only days after the soldiers arrive in Iraq to continue the transition process at Camp War Eagle.

As wounded Lieutenant Shane Aguero waits with his platoon for rescue, he remembers the last words his wife said to him before he left Fort Hood, Texas, “In every war, she said, “there is always a platoon that gets pinned down.  Don’t let it be your platoon.”

Throughout the book, Raddatz fills in the timeline of the dramatic rescue effort and what all of the soldiers go through.  She also describes the families of each of the soldiers, and how they cope with the absence of their spouses and family members.  Photos provide glimpses of Sadr City and the attack along with the soldiers involved in the fighting and their families.

As the battle progresses, Chaplain Ramon Pena prays for the wounded, administers last rites to the dead and worries about the mental state of the remaining soldiers.  Doctors perform life-saving techniques and administer to the dying and the wounded in make-shift quarters.  Commanding officers plan and do their utmost to save and keep safe their men as they promised their families before leaving Fort Hood.

Back at Fort Hood, television accounts of the fighting in Sadr City come to the attention of the families.  Those in charge mobilize to inform next of kin of deaths, and the Family Readiness Group comes to their aid after notification to all.  Because of the latest technology such as e-mail and cell phones, those in charge fight to keep the rumors and false details to a minimum.

Raddatz brings the reader into the soldiers’ fight and into their families’ lives.  Many tears flow as the realities of war become apparent with the loss of soldiers and the reality that their families will never see them again.  Each loss spawns a different reaction from family members.  One pregnant wife packs up her two small daughters and drives 14  hours to get to her parent’s house.  The loss of Cindy Sheehan’s son, Casey, drives her to demonstrate against the war.  Another mother thanks the military representatives for bringing the news of her son’s death. 

Raddatz also captures the fierce camaraderie of the soldiers as they rush to the aid of those in need.  Even with severe wounds, they fight on to help their buddies. 

Although the book becomes difficult to read because of its harsh reality and the number of tears that it generates, it should be a must read for everyone.  If these brave soldiers and their families can sacrifice for our freedom, we need to read this book to discover the realities of military service and the toll of war on soldiers and their families.

The comments listed with this video reflect what happened at Sadr City on April 4, 2004: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngShup-kWRU.

Sen. Jim DeMint writes 'Saving Freedom.'

Sen. Jim DeMint writes 'Saving Freedom.'

“It is not the federal government’s responsibility to run our lives,” writes Sen. Jim DeMint in his new book “Saving Freedom.”  “It is our responsibility to run the federal government.”

As a business man, volunteer and family man, DeMint became aware of how government began to take more and more  of his money and his life.  In order to make government work better and to obtain freedom from the govenment, DeMint ran for Congress at the age of 47 in 1998. 

The book chronicles DeMint’s fight to retain freedom and to work for less government control of our country and our lives through his plans and others who think like him.  He explains how earmarks led to much of the current overspending and debt in government and sites specific examples of the harm they cause.

DeMint provides the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and three explicit sections in his book: Part I-The Rise and Fall of Freedom in America; Part II-Principles and Institutions of Freedom; and Part III-Action Plans.

Filled with quotations from political figures, people of note and the Bible, DeMint begins each chapter with a metaphor to illustrate his points.  Throughout the book, the reader sees how we began to lose our freedoms during the Great Depression with people becoming more and more dependent on the government for everything.

Unlike the language of politicians, the book explains socialism, the constitution and other important points in plain English, so everyone understands how we’ve arrived at the mess that we’re in today.  Part III also gives the readers a plan to get involved and to help save freedom with specific suggestions and resources.

This is an excellent book for anyone that wants to understand how the U.S. got to this point, and how we can all work together to gain our freedom and take back our country.

“We promote freedom when we take responsibility for ourselves and share in the responsibilities that come with being part of families and communities,” writes DeMint.  “We can do a lot as individuals to help our country.”