#loweclass tackles another digital platform

Patrick Thomas, my fellow #loweclass member and co-worker with The Marquette Wire, embrace a photography assignment given by Professor Herbert Lowe in the bitter cold. Photo by Amelia Jones.

My digital journalism class this semester at Marquette University has caused me a significant amount of anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, fear and just about every other emotion imaginable. As much as it pains me to say this, the hassle has been worth it so far. Our class — otherwise known as #loweclass — has taken so many different social media applications and platforms and put them to use by being real-life journalists and telling the stories of others.

Take, for example, this what you’re reading here. It’s my first post on Medium, something that our professor assigned last week. But before tending to the assignment further, please allow me to unburden myself. To say questions arise when explaining to other people what I have described as “annoying” assignments from Professor Lowe would be an understatement.

“What even is the purpose of using Instagram for journalism?”

“I don’t understand why you have to tweet so much?”

“What is up with your obsession and need to update Weebly constantly?”

I would be lying if I didn’t roll my eyes before responding. And I would be a pathological liar if sometimes I did not respond with something like “Who even knows?” But the truth is, my response always ends with a (slight) smile. I know exactly why Professor Lowe is like a buzzing bee that won’t go away, engraining into our heads how important social media can be. I know exactly why we are getting run through these exercises and being held to the highest of standards. Complaining is most definitely frequent in this class, but there is a lot of love in it, because I have grown enormously throughout this semester both as a journalist and social media user.

Our final #loweclass project is approaching and I can’t help but be exhilaritated. My midterm project resulted in an extremely successful package with both a video and a text story. A package! I made a video! It was some of my best reporting and best writing to date. To say I was pushed is moderate. Professor Lowe’s was not always a face I wanted to see, because I knew he would just tell me my project was not good enough.

There is zero doubt in my mind that I will want to mutter under my breath while working on this final project. I can assure you I will tell Professor Lowe that he is giving me ulcers — and probably some new insults, too. But under that feigned resentment and sass is love and excitment.

Now that those issues are off of my chest, time to talk about what this post is suppossed to be about. In class this week, we watched a lot of video journalism from The New York Times and The Washington Post. There’s a reason these are two of the nation’s top papers. I mean wow!

The Post created a video series “On Leadership,” presenting several people in a two-shot video format. What that means is there are two cameras pretty much side-by-side. It’s a powerful series, bringing out the shine in the subject’s eyes by showing their passion as they are allowed to freely talk. This format would work quite well with another idea I have for our final project as I would look into a local business in Milwaukee, investigating how it popped up in the city, the story behind it and why the owner started it.

I was incredibly struck by The Times’ Op-Ed videos. “A Conversation With White People on Race” is one video out of an entire series that focuses on sharing thoughts about racism from all ethnicities. It’s fascinating how impactful it is to allow someone to tell a story without hearing the journalist’s questions. Just having various people talk keeps your attention and adds an interesting component to the topic.

I have been toying with one idea in particular for our final #loweclass project that has the ability to tie in an Op-Ed style video. I won’t reveal it just yet, since the discussion phase is still going strong with Professor Lowe. What will be revealed is it is a controversial topic, plaguing athletes of all ages nationwide. A video like that of The Times’ series, is a format that could work, offering contrast to what others think.

Time to get cracking doing the best journalism of my career — again.