Final Project

Synopsis

Unlocking a new aspect of journalism

In a time where journalism news is predicated to online sites over physical copies, I used Professor Amy Schmitz Weiss’ digital journalism course to learn how to craft stories using technological resources. While I was working on my website, I gained a strong understanding of the fundamentals of basic coding and figuring out how to install components such as font, color of text and sizes of text indentation. In the mist of using Google Sheets, I became proficient in organizing data quickly and efficiently. Not only did I figure out how to organize data, but I also discovered new techniques on how to present the data. Recalling one of Professor Schmitz Weiss’ lectures, I remembered that she showed an article that presented its data by using eye popping visuals such as candy in lieu of a typical bar graph or pie chart. I took note of that and later on, I used human stick figures to represent a data set as part of my infographic. Understanding digital journalism techniques and then applying the techniques to my work is crucial as I continue to gain experience in the journalism world.

Developing the Story

In the early stages of developing my story package, I had to make the proper adjustments in order to meet the journalistic and ethical standards. When I received feedback for my first draft, I noted that I needed to find the original sources of where the data from my articles came from. So, on the next revision, I located the original sources and correctly attributed the data back to the original sources. In addition, part of the code of ethics is to highlight those who needed to have their stories told and that is what exactly my story package revolved around. In the story, I ensured to provide context to the data that I presented. For example, I showed the statistics of marginalized communities being included in the media while following up that fact by adding in the population of marginalized communities for context.

The biggest challenge I faced actually occurred before developing the story. Initially, I was able to immediately come up with two human sources that could contribute to my story. However, both human sources were not available for an interview. Eventually, after reaching out to a few more potential sources via email, I managed to facilitate interviews via Zoom with two San Diego State University professors. Both professors had strong knowledge and also have covered the various areas of my topic in their lectures.

One of the key components to my story were my non-human sources. I had the opportunity to do thorough research and verify where the original data first came from. For example, I would discover an article with statistics that would support my story but I needed to continue digging and track down the initial source of data. I also had hands-on opportunities when I was adding the visual pieces to my story. The hands-on experience included taking photos at a screening circle event as well as editing my recorded interviews. During the editing stage, I had to be meticulous to make the video interviews clean. It was all about paying attention to detail when I was adding text to the video without the text overlapping my interviewees’ answers.

Digital Media Experience

Stepping out of my comfort zone

From here on out, I will definitely be viewing online articles that I read, much more differently. When I see something like a heading in an online article, I will note that the author may have used WordPress and used the same HTML coding I have learned to create that heading. There is so much more than just gathering information and putting the story together. Part of the finished product is integrating the tools HTML and CSS so that I can have headings and the right color scheme formatted when building a story. Working behind the scenes on the projects have made me realize how critical it is to know these tools for the field of journalism.

I have gained an appreciation for how advanced digital technology has come. For example, when I made one calculation of an average for one item, I could immediately have the rest of the data completed with an autofill option in a matter of seconds. It would be time consuming to methodically calculate hundreds of rows and columns in a data set. Having data in a spreadsheet and simply typing in any column and row set to get a particular result such as rate, ratio or percentage is conveniently amazing. Sometimes, there would be an outlier piece of data that would be excluded out of the calculation and I could see how much of a difference not having that outlier piece of data makes. But it is essential to include all the pieces to the data for readers because journalists must provide all the information they have at their disposal.

When it comes to handling digital tools such as WordPress, HTML, CSS and infographics, I found myself looking at every little detail and going line by line. As I was inserting hyperlinks into my story, I had to be precise and make sure there were not any errors, like an extra pair of quotation marks. But with each repetition, I became better at identifying errors and cleaning up the coding. With my infographic, it had to look consistent. I had to clean up minor details such as aligning each graphic to be spaced out properly. Initially, just seeing a bunch of coding looked intimidating, but after developing the skills to learn the system of these tools, I’m looking forward to using my new skills in the professional world of journalism.

In the past, I have read countless sports articles that inserted several “tweets” from Twitter that helped support the story. Personally, I use Twitter quite often to see various opinions about the ongoing sporting events. The Discovery Project was a unique experience because I was the one who told the story and integrated tweets behind the scenes as part of the storytelling. One of the roadblocks I faced while telling the story was that I had to incorporate tweets that were deemed “credible.” I would come across tweets that made a great point about my topic, (football injuries) but the tweet was not a reliable source. I made sure to cover numerous perspectives so that the story provided insight from relevant sources such as professionals in the field of sports journalists, doctors, football players and football coaches.

My favorite moment was developing my story; it was surreal to see the story unfold in real time. In my story, I highlighted the network CBS and its recent commitment to presenting a diverse cast on its reality television shows. As I emphasized for intersectional representation in my story, two of CBS’ primetime shows that I’m familiar with, “The Amazing Race” and “Big Brother,” each included a deaf contestant on their current season. As I was building my story on intersectionality, it was incredible to see the progress of representing marginalized communities happen in real time on my television screen. I enjoyed the process of evolving my story and telling a story through words and visuals.