Lauren Dukes

Just another Blount Blogs weblog

Final Thoughts

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Throughout the course of my practicum with The Daily Times, I have learned more about what it is to be an active multimedia journalist than any class could have ever taught me. Each project posed its own challenges, from sound quality to poor lighting, all of which had to be dealt with in order to produce a quality product that was suitable for publication. For example, my filming of the Knoxville Opera’s preview of the Pagliacci opera at the Blount County Library was, more or less, a comedy of errors. From the start, I had difficulty finding a good place to set up my camera, as the area where the mini-concert was to take place in the agora was heavily backlit and cast harsh shadows on both the pianist and his accompanying soprano. In an effort to counteract the interesting acoustics that came with being surrounded by glass in a rather hollow part of the library, I thought it was a good idea to hook up the miniature shotgun microphone to the camera. Unfortunately, I forgot to double-check the connection and, after uploading the video to the computer to begin editing, found that the footage was not only impossible to see because of the lighting but also completely void of any sound other than an ear-piercing noise that was the result of an incomplete connection. Needless to say, that particular project was a complete flop.

Later that week, I went to film an interview with the owner of Razberries Boutique, a locally owned shop featuring a variety of unique, upscale clothing and jewelry. I had difficulty getting the shop owner to give her attention to me, as she was only available for interview during shop hours, and much of her interview consisted of information that seemed as if she were preparing to shoot a commercial advertisement for her boutique. From my encounter with her, I learned that I should be prepared to ask leading questions that are meant to direct the interview in the way I would like it to go, rather than asking open-ended questions that allow the interview subject to go off in an entirely unrelated direction with his or her answer. Even a very short interview can be valuable if you are getting the right kinds of answers and a large part of that comes with knowing how to ask the right questions.

Despite a few mishaps here and there, I think I have also done some of my best work in this half of my practicum. In large part, I was given the opportunity to decide what sorts of stories I would like to cover for my projects later in the semester. A number of those focused on Maryville College related subjects ranging from student responses to Dr. Gerald Gibson’s retirement announcement to Mr. Dave Powell’s final lecture on May 7th, 2009. These have received a great deal of attention from the Maryville College community which, in turn, has increased student awareness of The Daily Times. For a large part of my practicum experience, most students had no idea that Maryville had its own newspaper housed not five minutes away from campus. Now, I am receiving e-mails and messages from Maryville College students and faculty about my work with The Daily Times and I am extremely happy to point them to the newspaper’s website and Twitter feed for more information on items of interest.

Overall, I am satisfied with the body of work that I have put forth this semester, ranging from printed articles with corresponding video interviews, video features, to a cameo appearance on Backstage Pass, The Daily Time’s companion podcast to The Weekender (formerly known as The Weekend Mixtape). The experience has allowed me to put to test many of the skills I learned in my journalism class, ranging from interviewing skills to the practical application of the Associated Press style of writing and the combination of multimedia with more traditional news resources. I think that having hands-on experience with a variety of different technologies has given me an advantage over my peers, especially in a time when lots of newspapers and magazines are really increasing the amount of supplementary information that is available online. I do not yet know what the future has in store for me in terms of a career in journalism, but I can confidently say that I feel better prepared for a job in that field as a result of my work with The Daily Times this semester.

Written by laurendukes

May 10th, 2009 at 7:57 pm

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Web 2.0 and news media – what’s next?

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While I was taking the Writing and Communications comprehensive exams last week, I came across a question that really caught my attention: What does the future have in store for printed journalism?

Obviously, the vast majority of westernized socities have already made a fairly impressive shift toward the internet as a research tool and source of entertainment. With advances in social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter and the introduction of internet compatible cell phones, surfing the web and uploading personal content is becoming easier than ever. Looking for a particular music video or movie clip? Check YouTube. Want to sound off on a controversial social or political issue? There’s sure to be a forum or blog for that. The fact of the matter is that we’re all obsessed with doing things as quickly and easily as possible, especially when it comes to sharing and/or accessing important information. If it can be done for free, even better!

The vast majority of today’s news resources, printed and televised, are acutely aware of society’s incredible attraction to the internet. Newspapers, journals, and magazines have added a web presence to their traditional in-print formats that boast additional features such as streaming audio and video, extended articles, photo galleries, and other multimedia resources that make it easier for users to interact with the information that is presented to them. Sometimes, users can even comment on the article itself or engage in discussions through a forum setup. That’s not at all a bad thing. In fact, the digitization of news publications means that a larger percentage of the population can get up-to-date on the latest information anytime, anywhere.

A problem arises when users that used to purchase subscriptions to in-print news media stop giving their financial support in favor of obtaining free access to the same information online or move to online-only news sources. Without a solid sales base, most publications cannot offset production costs and, as a result, must either cut jobs, reduce salaries, or fold entirely. According to an article in Time magazine, even major publications such as Boston’s Globe and Philadelphia’s Daily News are at risk of closure or may be forced to cease all printed operations. If such large, prestigious newspapers are facing the chopping block, I hate to think of the dangers that are looming for much smaller publications.

What’s most troubling is the negative implication that each publication’s cutback or closure has for established journalists and students such as myself. I’ll be graduating in less than a month and the job market is growing increasingly less friendly to those of us that are just starting out in the field of journalism. If we’re to succeed in a highly competitive job market, we have to accept the fact that the world is going digital and make as many adjustments as necessary to accommodate that shift. If that means taking classes to learn more about web design and site management, graphic design, photography, audio/video production, media editing, or any number of other technologies, so be it. The digital world is moving ahead and it definitely won’t stop to wait for us.

Written by laurendukes

April 21st, 2009 at 3:00 pm

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Maryville College changes comprehensive exam/thesis policy?

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Rumors regarding Maryville College administration’s decision to allow future students to choose between taking comprehensive exams or completing a senior thesis/project. It is unclear whether or not these changes would affect incoming freshmen (the class of 2013) or would actually be geared toward the class of 2011. Without college leadership to confirm or deny these claims, students at MC, especially seniors like myself, are just a little miffed.

I, personally, happen to be just a little more than slightly annoyed that people couldn’t have the good tact to bring all this gossip up AFTER we’ve all turned in our thesis papers and finished comprehensive exams. Whether the collective senior irritation spawns from jealousy or disappointment in the apparent lowering of MC’s standards for graduating students is, quite frankly, irrelevant. We’re all stressed out beyond belief, pouring over notes and books that we’ve all but forgotten about in an effort to recoup all the knowledge that professors have stuffed in our heads since we began our careers here at MC.

Even though most of us wouldn’t wish this academic cram-fest on our worst enemies, we still can’t help but feel a bit miffed at the thought that at least half of our peers will not share in our agony. Where’s the unity that comes with mass suffering if a large chunk of the masses have been spared? The group consolation? The ceremonious victory that comes with each passing score? I guess I’m just a little disheartened by the idea that, by offering students an opportunity to forgo one senior criterion or another, the school may be lowering the strong academic standards that attracted me to the school in the first place.

…Just for the record, I think I would have chosen to write a thesis paper or complete a senior project if I was presented with the same choice as an MC student. This mountainous stack of notes dating all the way back to Spring 2007 seems absolutely unending and I’m getting sick of making flash-cards in an attempt to jump-start my memory. Ugh… I really just want to be done with these exams already!

Written by laurendukes

April 14th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

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In Praise of Google

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For the past year, I’ve been working diligently to compose a senior thesis at Maryville College. The process has been fairly enriching, despite a few setbacks and the almost constant stress of tackling the research and writing process on top of my regular course work. The only thing that has spared my sanity is the amazing resource that is Google.http://laurendukes.blountblogs.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

For the project requiring an extensive amount of research in textbooks and other printed resources, Google Books is an extremely useful tool. Users can do a basic search for archived books and magazines by title, genre, topic, or author’s name. Alternately, the advanced search option can be used to narrow your results by language, publication date, subject, etc. Returned items can be filtered to show only full text books and magazines or may include items that offer a limited preview.

Books and magazines available for browsing in the Google Books search have been archived from high-quality scans, including complete copyright information, the table of contents, and both the front and back covers. In some situations, multiple editions of the same book are available, allowing users to cross-reference materials (which is particularly useful when you’re looking for a certain edition of an anthology or textbook).

Admittedly, I did a lot of research on Google Books over the last year. Nine times out of ten, I could get all the information I needed from very expensive textbooks through limited preview and, on the rare occasions that I actually needed to locate the full text, Google would even help me find a library or bookstore that had the book in stock. How sweet is that?

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April 3rd, 2009 at 7:42 pm

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Our Blount County — Ideas? Suggestions?

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With an economy on the downfall, most people are having to be a little bit more conscious of their spending habits, especially when it comes to entertainment and travel. Instead of driving out to Knoxville every weekend, why not save a few bucks by staying in Blount County and checking out some cool local venues?

In an effort to save its readers a little time and money, The Daily Times is working on a new article series highlighting some of the best hang-out spots in Maryville and the surrounding areas. I’ll be checking out locally owned restaurants, bars, art galleries, and other interesting businesses and giving you feedback about my experiences. Think of it as a “Best of Blount County” showcase.

If you have any suggestions for places I should check out in the next few weeks, please leave a comment!

Written by laurendukes

March 2nd, 2009 at 1:37 pm

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Hey, nice to meet you!

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My name is Lauren Dukes. I’m 21, a senior at Maryville College, and a Writing and Communications major. For the next few months, I will be working as an intern with Mr. Timothy Hankins, assistant managing editor online for Maryville’s The Daily Times.

I’ve only been here a few short weeks, but there are some very exciting things in the works. In addition to keeping up with this “intern’s blog,” I’ll be helping out with the Weekend Mixtape as well as working on 7-10 multimedia projects of my own.

So far, I’ve spent the last two weeks talking with the leaders at the Church At Swank’s to get material for my first piece. The article is written, ready, and waiting so all that’s left to do now is take a few pictures, record a little video, and do some editing. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited!

There’s a lot of work ahead of me, so stay tuned for updates on my progress, as well as a few personal thoughts about how this whole journalism-business-thing works.

Written by laurendukes

February 4th, 2009 at 8:48 am

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