Throughout this semester, I worked on a multimedia story package about college-related sexual assaults. The theme of my story package encompassed the importance of sexual violence prevention on college campuses. With the rise of sexual assaults becoming a more prevalent problem, it is becoming more and more important to educate college students on this issue. Several universities do not have programs geared towards sexual violence prevention, but San Diego State University is one of the first to create a peer-health education program to get more students involved and aware of sexual assaults specifically at universities. By implementing these types of programs, campus climate surveys have found that students are more educated on sexual assaults and feel more confident about stepping in and saying something during a potential situation. Because of this, universities have learned that sexual violence prevention education is very important and has lead to decreased sexual assault incidents by providing awareness to students.
Developing the Story
While working on my story package, I made sure to follow all of the journalistic and ethical guidelines as stated by the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ makes sure that journalists provide information to the public “that is accurate, fair and thorough.” Throughout the duration of completing this project, I made sure to find sources who were factual and informational while also searching for data and statistics that were correct and went well with the theme of my story. I always made sure I was constantly fact checking the information and I also would follow up with my sources to ensure everything I had was correct.
One challenge that I faced while working on this project was producing the video. Originally, I had planned on making a video that included clips of the interviews and also b-roll footage from events that happened on campus. I found that I had recorded so much footage from interviews that I was overwhelmed with the amount of information I had received. I also had a problem with the tripod I had because it was too small so I wasn’t able to have any interviews while standing, they had to be sitting. I ultimately decided to not include a video in my overall project, which I believe was the right choice in the end.
I faced many opportunities while working on this project. During the fact-gathering process, I was able to learn so much more about this topic and it really opened my eyes up to the issue. Before this project, I had already known a lot about sexual violence prevention but I was able to learn even more by conducting research and finding statistics. Another opportunity I had was actually using that unused footage from the video I was going to make and creating a story package from that in my other journalism class. I created a video about the event, Not Silent Because, and it was selected to air during our class newscast.
Digital Media Experience
The entirety of this project has helped me have a better understanding of digital journalism for several different reasons. I was able to learn more about creating datasets while also making my own infographics with interactive graphs. Before this class, I had only ever written articles online for my blog or previous internships but in none of those experiences had I ever done what we’ve done for this project. By doing the different exercises in class and also workshopping our story package throughout the semester, I have gained more knowledge about the digital journalism field and now feel confident that I have the tools to be a digital journalist.
While using data, databases and Microsoft Excel for this project, I initially had a tough time. I had never worked with data before and looking at different data and trying to figure it all out was confusing. I also do not have Microsoft Excel downloaded onto my computer, so every time I would download one of the documents on Blackboard, I would have to log onto Microsoft Online, and then manually type in every thing that was in the data document. It was also difficult for me to understand everything when our class was virtual. Eventually, I was able to figure everything out for my story package. I found data from legitimate sources and was able to work that data into my final project.
This project really gave me new experiences in learning new digital media tools that I had never learned about before. My favorite digital media tool that I used for my story package was Piktochart. I had created an infographic in a previous social media class but it did not include data or graphs. By using Piktochart, I was able to learn how to create all types of different graphs from the data I had for my story and ultimately how to translate those into an infographic. I loved doing this because I really enjoy making graphics and designing anything online. This was a really fun tool for me to use and I plan on using it again in the future. Additionally, I thought it was interesting to learn about HTML and CSS. I knew these terms prior to the class, but again, had never had much experience actually using either of these. It was great to see how you can code your own website. I do prefer to just use the customization tools WordPress provides to change text size or font color, but it is still neat to know you can do that.
One digital media tool I have had experience with is WordPress. I have my own blog and I use WordPress for the website. Before this project, I had been using WordPress for almost two years so I am fairly experienced with this platform. I was glad we used WordPress.org for this project because in previous classes, we had used WordPress.com or other blog sites that don’t give you as much freedom as WordPress.org does. Because of my previous experience using WordPress, I was able to navigate the backend of my site very easily and I had no troubles when it came to managing my actual website.
Social listening and storytelling are two aspects of multimedia journalism that I felt fairly comfortable with going into this project, but I do feel that I was still able to learn some new skills about using social media as a journalistic tool. I realized that I primarily use my social media, especially Twitter, for personal use. Through this project, I learned how to conduct social listening by searching for specific hashtags and looking for verified and informational accounts that provide great resources. By doing this, I was able to use Twitter as a journalist rather than in a personal matter.
The social media strategy project we did along with our story package really helped in learning about social storytelling. By creating various Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat posts, it really showed me how I can use the information from my story on social media. From my own experience of having my own blog and my own Youtube channel, I know how to promote content on various social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter. I really enjoy social storytelling as social media is what I want to go into in the future after I graduate.
For my story package, I was able to incorporate multimedia elements in several different ways. One of those elements included capturing photographs during my interviews with sources and at on-campus events. I attended several events during Take Back the Week and I also went to tabling events for FratMANers to take photographs. As mentioned before, I used infographics created from Piktochart as another multimedia element. Finally, I also used Canva to create some visual elements for my social storytelling package. I am planning on using these graphics to share my story on my social media accounts including Instagram stories and Twitter.
Lastly, some of the most enjoyable moments I had in working on this package was the interviews I had with my sources. By interviewing Stephanie Galia, the director of Well Being & Health Promotion, we have gotten closer through the projects I have done for this class and she’s become a role model in my life. While interviewing my other sources, I have formed friendships from those interactions and it has made this project much easier. I also enjoyed my time taking photographs at the events and had a really fun time while I was there. The entirety of this project was really enjoyable and I am very glad I chose this as my project topic.