You’ve got the power

This week in class, Shane showed us this video from the Dallas Morning news called “Choosing Thomas.” It is about a couple that has only a short time with their infant son due to birth defects.
It was an incredibly powerful 9 minutes and our class was speechless when Shane asked us what our thoughts were on it. This grouping of stills, audio, text and video pulled me into the story, however cliche that sounds. It didn’t feel like some of the multimedia journalism I had seem before because of just that: it had way more feeling and power. It wasn’t just telling me what I needed to know, it was welcoming me to experience it firsthand.

Shane then showed us a something he had made and posted on vimeo. It was the story of a pregnancy with his wife that ended in a miscarriage. This was equally as powerful, especially since the story was even more alive to me with Shane being in the room.

Multimedia journalism has always seemed so flashy and lacking substance to me. But these, these videos have changed my mind. It really has some power. Coming at someone from all angles (text, audio, stills, video) really recreates what real life is like and how our senses are always getting pulled in a million different directions. But, if you can use all those sense in differing ways for one main point, that’s when you really have a captivating story. That is when there is power to change mindsets, create ideas, challenge thoughts, or even reinforce current beliefs.

Heck, you can see the power of how women and feminists have felt about Robin Thicke’s controversial video and the implications it has. The original music video had enough power to stir up controversy and a slew of parodies. There is always a good and bad side to power. Using it in a way to exploit women is using the power of multimedia in a bad way, but yet it is all too common in today’s world.

Even though I am a Magazine Writing kind of girl, I appreciate and respect the amount of power that can come with multimedia pieces. But, like any source of power, it has to be checked to make sure that it isn’t misleading or unethical. The goal of journalism is to convey truth in a way that causes the least harm. I hope I have the power some day with my journalism to move people to tears, to laughs, to action and everything in-between.


Identity Problems

New school year, new you. Every Target, K-Mart and big box store proclaims that in their back-to-school ad campaign. But there is some truth to it. Going back to school is going back to a different mindset, attitude, friend group and identity. Over the summer you were just a free spirited young adult or identified by your job, in my case, a swim instructor. The summer creates an atmosphere for and easy, ongoing ebb and flow of identity shifts and changes. With college, your identity is constantly challenged and morphed but it is fit into more roles, such as all of your organizations or your major(s) or minor(s). College has really enforced my identity as a feminist, Residential Life Peer Advisor, Tiger’s Lair Ambassador, Alternative Spring Break Site Leader and, of course, Journalism major.

My first Multimedia Journalism class kicked off going on the theme of identity. Multimedia really delves into the identity of a story. Multimedia news stories can create a more fleshed out identity than just print. They give multiple voices, multiple views on multiple platforms to really make the story multifaceted and multidimensional. That prefix multi. Everywhere. And it all falls around the CCC, Central Compelling Character. Throughout the semester, I will be pushed to explicate identities of subjects, organizations and stories to create the most complete definition of the Central Compelling Character.

Coincidentally, identity has been a main theme across all my courses this semester. In my Women’s and Gender’s Studies course, we have been looking into the identity of a feminist. We brought up all the stereotypes of feminists, like how we are all angry (only sometimes), man-hating (I adore men), bra-burning (that was never a thing, actually) dykes. But, the identity of  a feminist in the modern era is very fluid. It is black. It is white. It is straight, lesbian, bi, trans and queer. It is girly and boyish. Being a feminist is part of my identity. I identify as a feminist because I believe in busting binaries that hold men and women in gender roles. The course is titled Bodies, Cultures, and Nations and identity within those areas will be stressed.

My honors human sciences course is also about identity because the course is focusing on personal and social identity. We are starting the course by talking about identity and the Civil War. A large part of the Civil War was the identity crisis of the nation as a whole. The nation was divided and pretty much two separate entities at this point, making it hard for citizens to understand their role. A strong identifier for all involved was death. All religions could agree on the wish for a sacred and respectable passing into the afterlife, thus they tried everything they could on the battlefields to go through the routine of last words and getting word back to kin. Death and the honor of sacrificing one’s life for the cause was more identity of the soldiers than being killers.

My Textile and Apparel Management course this semester is titled Social Appearance in Time and Space. We started the class by each telling about our “I believe” statements, trying to identify our core beliefs. My core belief is in the power of conversation and I have been identified as a chatterbox of sorts. My identity is very much so influenced by how I love to talk, meet people and have human interaction in general.

Then there is J2000. The whole point of Cross Cultural Journalism is to know how to identify different cultures and groups effectively in news stories. It is about differentiating between identity facts and stereotypes, and using these defining factors in a way that help progress the story. This class will try to make my identity one that is a well-rounded journalist.

With the first full week of school coming to a close after a long two weeks of ResLife training and Welcome Week shenanigans, I feel like my identity as a student here at Mizzou is still forming. Right now I am a non-Greek RA living with 90% Greek affiliated residents, a white girl with a staff that includes white, Filipino, and black girls, hailing from Chicagoland with girls from the Lou and a Journalism major looking to the future with hope that I will know how to do things right when the time comes to work at a magazine. But, that is me, and I like it that way.

Check out this podcast I tweeted about racial identity in mixed and adopted families!

Ally’s Choice