This past week catapulted me into learning multimedia journalism in ways I wouldn’t have done on my own. Not long after posting last week, I spent the evening at the Columbia Art League taking pictures of its Hint Fiction exhibition for my half semester project. For three hours I ran around with the Nikon D7000 taking pictures of art, gallery-goers and author Robert Swartwood, who edited the book that formed the basis of the exhibition. Last Thursday was the first time I did any serious photography with something more advanced than a point and shoot. I also gathered contacts and set up interviews. By Friday afternoon, I was sitting down with Mr. Swartwood to talk about the gallery and his anthology, praying the recording features on my iTouch and Evo worked as well as I’d heard they would. Was it stressful? Definitely. But at the same time, it was a rush.
This week was a blur of refreshing my PhotoShop skills, adjusting to the Elements interface and setting up more interviews. But at the same time, I realize there’s still a lot I have to do. I’m thinking ahead to my audio assignment, wondering which interviews to use and how I am going to get the information I need to have something genuinely good. I’m wondering how I am going to find the right artists to talk to, the right questions to ask, to make my final project cohesive. It seems like the theme for the week, and honestly for the semester so far, is a lot of unanswered questions.
Despite being a little stressed out looking at the coming weeks, I’ve actually been pretty excited about this class so far. Aside from giving me an excuse to own Adobe PhotoShop, I feel like this semester is really pushing me out of my comfort zone. One of the things I struggle with most as an aspiring journalist is my tendency to be more on the shy, introverted side than the “walk up to strangers and ask them to be in my video project” side. It isn’t always easy for me to pick up the phone and ask someone for an interview, to take pictures at an art exhibition I just found out about the day before. I read an article in the New York Times this summer about how shyness might be an evolutionary tactic. It’s probably one of the more interesting personality assessments I’ve read in some time. I really do think there’s nothing wrong with my being a more quiet person, but I also know I can’t let it get in my way of doing good journalism. It’s definitely something I find myself working on every time I take a new assignment.
In spite of my nervousness, I love the rush I get when I do these things. There’s a little boost of confidence I get when I successfully pull off an interview. That sense of “wow, I really can do this” when I turn in a story that required me to call people I may never speak with again. It’s a great feeling for me, and it’s one of the things I love about doing journalism. Each new assignment really forces me out of my comfort zone. I get to learn to use equipment I might never touch on my own, and I find new ways to communicate with people and share their ideas. It’s one of the best ways I’ve found to gain boldness. I find it makes me a better journalist and a better person as well.