No, I’m not referring to the Lady Gaga song, (although it is catchy). I’m referring to those incessant abusers of freedom of the press that constantly harass celebrities. Those people who seem to think they’re photographers. Honestly, you don’t need a whole lot of technological skill to be a modern paparazzo, your most valued trait is aggression, and maybe also not being afraid to spend a night in jail. 

But it’s more than their aggressive tactics and harassment that gives them a bad name. It’s also their ability to influence a person’s reputation. By simply snapping a shot of a person in what they believe to be a private moment, their entire image can be damaged or simply altered. To celebrities, this is annoying and frustrating. But what it means for the general public is that these photos may be altering the truth. Catching a moment of someone’s time at a distance doesn’t necessarily mean evidence. Something that may look like an illegal substance on someone’s nose may actually be something as innocent as powdered sugar. But the paparazzi look for anything that could possibly be construed or mistaken for something more scandalous than it actually is. They could care less about informing viewers.

The reason why paparazzi do this is simple: profit. The more famous the celebrity, the more compromising the situation, the more bank they make. When gossip rags offer obscene payments based on how scandalous a photo is, the only motivation the paparazzo has is to make the most money possible. Thus, they do practically anything within their power to capture or fabricate a juicy photo of an A-list celeb. Photojournalists on the other hand, are not given an incentive to make every celebrity look like a crack whore. They are not paid more the more salacious the photo, they simply have to report the truth, and negative consequences occur if they don’t fact check and/or lie about an image. That ruins their reputation. So their incentive is generally to be truthful, because the risk of losing their livelihood, (because who’s going to hire a lying journalist?) is too great.

So before you pick up a glossy mag with dramatic red type splattered across an unflattering photo, think about the motivations behind that photo, and how your purchase is benefiting the practice. And please, don’t equate a photojournalist with a paparazzo, it’s insulting for obvious reasons and may just tarnish their reputation.


I Have to Use Technology? Ughhhh….

So there’s this thing called technology, and yeah, I use it abusively as an American citizen compared to several other peoples around the world, but I wouldn’t say I’m in love or anything. I like my snazzy digital camera, but I also appreciate the time and effort that goes into my film photography. (I’d really like to install a dark room in my house, but I don’t think the landlord would appreciate that.) Yeah, I am typing on a computer right now, I own an ipod, car, cell phone, blu-ray player, and television. BUT that does not qualify me as a fan and most certainly not as an expert.

I understand the uses of technology, and I understand that we’ve come to depend on them as first world citizens, but do I have to be an expert at Adobe Flash to get a job nowadays? It appears so. It seems every internship or job advertised in the journalism field requires some knowledge of Adobe products, often Flash and Illustrator are the important ones. Both of which frustrate me endlessly. I have no patience when it comes to the detail required to make a slight change in a graphic. I don’t like searching through the buttons and guessing what they mean, and  clicking the one word that destroys everything utterly to the point where there’s no hope for me to continue without some serious relaxation time. But as a photojournalist, I have adapted to using editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, but it appears that I may need to broaden my horizons with all of the sites out there about how to design apps, webpages, and essentially how to whore your site out on the internet. (Too brash?)

While I may not have to become an expert per se, it seems to be important to have a broad knowledge of different softwares and mediums. And of course, as an intern or entry level reporter, one would probably be stuck doing a lot of the grunt work that is meticulous and really draws on your broad knowledge base along with some trial and error thrown in just for giggles. But as a journalist advances in their career, I think they’re more able to specialize by picking a certain type of software or technology that really applies to their expertise and interests (such as Photoshop for photojournalists). After all, there are people hired just to make infographics. Yeah, there’s people that like the stuff. So let them enjoy their niche, and I’ll enjoy mine. Until then I”ll just have to suck it up.

Debris or Vessel at Sea?

Thursday, April 5th, 2012 was the first time the competition for the CAFNR
Cardboard Regatta race set eyes on each other. The teams gathered at The Central Missouri Food Bank at 5:30 PM to “dumpster dive” for the only material they’re allowed to use to build their man made boats-cardboard.

Young and old gathered at The Central Missouri Food Bank on April 5th, 2012 to collect their cardboard for their man made boats.

The race is designed to raise awareness and funds for The Central Missouri Food Bank, but other incentives exist to join the race. “I work in the Department of Natural Resources, and I wanted to compete with my coworkers,” Kim Pope said. Her team, called Limnology Lab, are still in their creative process in the design of their vessel. “We’re planning a boat that doesn’t sink,” Pope said with a smile.

Kim Pope displayed her cardboard that she and her team will put to use in building their boats for the CAFNR Regatta race to be held April 21st, 2012 at A. Perry Philips Park in Columbia, Mo.

Mojo Baby

In J2150 April 5th, 2012, we discussed the importance of Mojo -no, not Austin Powers style, mobile reporting, the way of the future. Nuria Mathog, a student in J2150, thinks mobile reporting is “time consuming”.

Nuria Mathog listens to instruction about mobile journalism in her 8 AM class Thursday April 5, 2012.

Dumbing Down: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

I cannot mention the book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman enough. So I’m about to head down that road again. To be fair, he goes over a wide variety of topics, and being a journalism major, his chapter about the media sparked my interest.

One of the main points he addresses involving the media concerns the writing model of essentially dumbing down the way sentences are put together so that regular Joes can read the paper too. Klosterman says that this is a mistake. Not only is it slightly condescending, it’s also forcing those who read the articles to demand lower level writing in the future.

This is where I jump in and say, a) the j-school does seem condescending at times, and b) it’s already been pounded into my head to write simply. They don’t call it “dumbing down” in J2100, that would be too obvious.

Yes, we are taught “leads” and “nut grafs”, the essential stuff that we’re supposed to blatantly state at the beginning of a story. It’s supposed to “hook” the reader and let them know what we have to say affects them, or carries some other importance. Chuck thinks this kind of writing “simply” is a bad seed however. Once that seed is planted, the readers who were capable of reading the higher level start to expect a certain easiness within the articles now. Basically, they become lazy. (I should have started with that sentence, shouldn’t I have? It summarizes the WHOLE paragraph for you!)

This laziness, once instilled, is hard to undo. It’s just too darn tempting to skim, move on to Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter. Even staring out the window is a more productive use of one’s time than finishing that awfully long article. So now that practically every publication and news outlet is writing down to their readers/viewers/listeners, we’re all accustomed to being handed the meaning of the writing.

Far gone are the days where we interpreted our own meaning, when we actually read every last word of the whole article, or listened to the entire television broadcast without flipping channels or multitasking. “We like our news on a silver platter,” I can hear news consumers saying, “served with a complimentary guide to life so we don’t have to think for ourselves!”

I’m being dramatic. (Simple sentence, eh?) But still, Klosterman makes a good point. If we give the audience garbage day in and day out, they’ll simply come to expect it. It’s almost like watching reality TV, you know it’s godawful for your mind, but it’s just so darn tempting because it’s easy. It doesn’t require too much thought or energy, it’s just there for you to gaze at when you’re either procrastinating or incredibly bored.

While this model may suit reality TV (because really, what else is it there for?), it does not do journalism justice. I’m all for clarity. Make the facts crystal clear because then I can draw conclusions based on accurate information. Too often do I see people (including myself) making statements and/or judgements based on someone else’s version of the truth, rather than the primary source itself. But it becomes an issue when capable readers don’t use their skills and wait for important matters to be shoved in their faces. I’d like to think of journalism as leading a horse to water, pointing them in the general direction with hard core facts and data, but letting the horse be the one to choose whether or not, and how, to drink.

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