May 5, 2007

Media Lab: A Culmination

Among the many "lasts" I've been encountering, this is my last Media Lab portfolio. I finally got the hang of podcasting, I helped Val with a large, yet significant Setonian related task, and the information in my final presentation is something I am throughly proud of.

Lori Rupert's willingness and eye for errors proved useful to Valerie Masciarelli, editor-in-chief of the Setonian. Early in the evening, Masicarelli and Rupert met for what Rupert calls "a time of sharing."

"I needed information from Val regarding a final project of mine and I also needed her knowledge of interviewing techniques. In return, I helped her with anything I could in relation to the Setonian," said Rupert.

According to Rupert, the layout and placement of articles was pretty much completed by Masciarelli when Rupert went to the office. Rupert inquired about what tasks Masciarelli still needed to do to bring the paper one step closer to print.

"I was going to have Lori just do photo placement, but I had to learn the editing techniques from Mike because he is graduating. I realized it was sort of necessary for me to do that," Masciarelli said.

Masciarelli did ask Rupert to do a "very random, but necessary" task. "We needed a photo of John Farretti, the shuttle driver," Masciarelli said, "but it was hard for anyone to actually catch him in the shuttle. Lori jumped on the task and said it sounded like fun," Masciarelli said.

"I walked around outside but the shuttle never came; it may have been too late and I don't think John works in the evenings," Rupert said, "I offered to go and try to ride the shuttle the next morning but the paper was being sent by the afternoon and I had classes."

After this failed attempt, Rupert returned to the Setonian office and began reading through the articles in the layout. "I was really just interested in reading them; Val wasn't sure what else she needed me to do," Rupert said, "But after I caught a few copy-editing errors and fixed them, Val ended up asking me if I could do a read-through of all of the articles."

Rupert spent a large chunk of time reading through each article in the layout checking for grammar errors, by-line errors, and recognition errors. "I pretty much was just another eye making sure everything was in order with the paper. I did catch quite a few grammar errors though," Rupert said.

"It was just one more thing I didn't have time for. Lauren wasn't able to work on layout that evening and I had to finish that and learn the photo techniques from Mike. Lori's committement was a big help," Masciarelli said.

"Though Lori's schedule doesn't always allow her to help as much, it was nice to see her in the office. It kind of reminded me of the old days in the old office when I was a newbie. She'll be a missed staff member when she graduates," Masciarelli added.

After that, with nothing left for her to do, Rupert departed.

However, she also helped Stormy Knight, news editor, with fact-checking, titles, and identifications.

"I was just Stormy's "inside woman" if you will," Rupert said.

Knight would call or get ahold of Rupert with a question about a faculty/staff member's title or the name or year of a person.

"It wasn't a set thing. Just when I needed to know a significant fact," Knight said, "Lori was a big help. She always got right back to me with the information I needed and she tried her hardest to find an answer to my question."

A Bit About Podcasting

As noted in my first portfolio, podcasting was an iffy issue for me at first. Mostly, it was technical issues. I never had a problem using Audacity; I enjoyed editing sound files, actually. It was yet another challenge I overcame to produce a handful of polished podcasts.

I didn't actually have any problems whatsoever once I got the connections right and was able to record the files into audacity. I enjoyed editing the podcasts; omitting unnecessary information and splicing things together. I learned by trial and error how much of a pause I could take out or exactly where to paste a different audio track. I even started to become familiar with the sound files and was able to recognize repetitive speech patterns such as "ums" or sighs.

I am particularly proud of:

  • The interview podcast. This podcast was for my presentation. I spoke with Val about interviewing tactics and techniques. I wanted the listener to feel the comfort level between Valerie and myself and I also wanted the listener to be at ease in meeting the editor-in-chief. Val was being herself; she provided excellent and useful material but she let her personality shine through. It was as though we had just recorded an ordinary conversation.

    According to my classmates' reviews, which are stated and explained under the entry that is linked to at the beginning, I accomplished this task. I went about setting Val at ease by first explaining to her exactly what we were going to talk about and what I was doing it for. She and I then had a conversation (non-recorded) simulating what we were going to be recording. Val took a few minutes to organize her thoughts and we started recording.

    I tried to demonstrate a technique that I feel is important and also one that Val mentioned: Try to just lead your questions off of the source. Let them talk and then ask questions to find out more about the interesting, useful things they say. I pried into Val in this way to get as many of her thoughts on the subject as I could.

  • The Virginia Tech podcast. Right after the massacre happened, we had a podcast assignment coming up. I had thought that I wanted to do something relating to this incident. I wanted to get SHU faculty/staff reactions. My only concern was that the news wouldn't be considered timely anymore by the time the assignment was due. When I mentioned this idea, my classmates were enthused and all agreed that they wanted to do something in relation to the shooting as well. It became a class podcast compromised of individual segments from each of us. Each segment contained the reactions of a different group of people. I still got to talk to faculty/staff. My desire was to be able to talk to Dr. Boyle and possibly get reactions from her connections at Virginia Tech. Due to her busy schedule, I was unable to meet with her but I still got influential words from other staff members and also a unique statement from a faculty member.

    I thoroughly enjoyed doing this podcast and as it is mentioned in the entry pertaining to the podcast, which is linked to at the beginning, this was the first time the podcasting process had gone by completely problem free for me. It was the first podcast I did with numerous sources and it engaged a higher level of my skills and knowledge because I had to edit more carefully. I was splicing pieces of conversations together, omitting parts; the podcast encompassed a lot of different techniques other than just pushing the record button.

The True Culmination

Seeing as how I am graduating, I already presented for my final in Media Lab. Our final always consists of a presentation demonstrating the work we have done for our chosen term project. My term project was compromised of two things: a continuation of my final from last semester and a podcast with related material. In a series of past portfolio posts, I have reflected on my ideas and progress in relation to my term project.

  • At first, my thoughts were concentrated on the general idea of expanding my two pages into a website. I wasn't even entirely sure what I wanted the content to consist of. I hadn't yet defined who I was going to talk to or what segments of information I was going to include.
  • I still hadn't decided what information I was going to include textually, but I had come up with an additional element to add to my website. I had come up with the idea of including two podcasts, and also briefly mentioned working with Rachel. I introduced the material that I planned on recording and mentioned my progress in aquiring this material.
  • Finally, a definitive statement is made about what exactly my website is going to be including. I mentioned the different segments and tips...I still had no idea how much information and coding my finished product was going to look like.
  • My final product was so much more than I initially anticipated it to be. I feel that it is a culmination of all of my Media Lab and other related class skills. It holds a place as one of the pieces of my work that I am extremely proud of.

My reflection of my presentation shares the reactions of my classmates in regards to both my website and my interview podcast. One person called it, "One of the best I've seen in Media Lab final presentation." My classmates were pleased with the content and design of my website and the only disagreement was over the aesthetics of the site.

I am pleased with my site, as well. Actually, I'm pleased with this entire last chunk of Media Lab.

I am also pleased with the fact that I can now produce polished, quality podcasts and efficiency with Audacity is always a good thing to have, and now I have that too.

I feel that it has been the most productive chunk of the class for me and I also feel I have been able to demonstrate my growth and ability to use all of my skill sets through the material I presented.

Posted by Lori Rupert at 2:00 AM | Comments (1)

Last Podcast: The Truth Comes Out

It's been a positively rough year. Period. I expected to change but I didn't expect it to occur in the manner it did or with tasks and challenges that at one point seemsed unsurmountable. As I've overcome those challenges and completed those final tasks, I find myself speeding towards a day that I am throughly excited (and ready) for: graduation day. It's great to finally be excited for that day, rather than scared.

As I compile my last portfolios and write reflections that focus on more than just my current semester, the work that I have done, the knowledge I have gained and the development I have gone through is more obvious than it has ever been. I finally feel that I have changed and I see proof and I love the person that I have become; a more developed version of the person I already was..and all of these thoughts tumble through my head. I get reminiscent. I get excited. I get scared. I realize more than ever that I truly can do whatever I want.

This is what I based my last podcast on. A briefing of these reflections, of my noticed development, of my cherished time as a Seton Hill undergrad. It's a sad time, but I realize it's a time for congratulations too. I have strangers who get really excited because I am graduating. That's a great feeling.

I just really wanted to capture the essence of who I am right now in my last podcast. I feel so fresh and young, but at the same time, sophisticated. I feel happy and excited to be alive. I feel extremely proud that I am about to become a college graduate.

It was a personal recollection of sorts..but..hopefully others can get that experience as well...or at least get a taste of it.......

Posted by Lori Rupert at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 4, 2007

Media Lab: Leaving my (final) Mark

I'm usually pleased with the outcome of my writing assignments and my projects; however, a handful of finished products truly stick out in my mind as things that I am particularly proud of. My website, Writing for the Setonian: How to Show the Hill Your Voice, is one of those things.

Initially, it was just supposed to be a handout.. I thought it would be helpful for future Setonian writers and editors as well. I wanted to ease the student's transition and the editors' frustration by providing writing tips and technicalities of writing for the Setonian in particular. When I sat down to do this handout, which had by then developed to one online page, I ended up with two pages and a cascading style sheet. I wasn't done yet. I decided that for this semester, I wanted to continue with this website and present a finished product. I successfully completed my goal; I put a lot of hours into my website regarding all aspects of it (content, design, collaboration). I believe it is something significant that I have done and it takes a place in my handful of items.

Just because I was proud of it didn't mean it was aesthetically pleasing, informative, or comprehensible to the public. I wasn't sure what the reactions were going to be.

I received mostly positive feedback from my classmates. One person said, "Lori's website was one of the best I have seen in the Media Lab final presentation." The site was also described as "very well thought out" and the general consensus of the content was that it was nice and relevant to the audience of freshman Setonian writers. One person also commented on the usefulness of the content for those who have not had newswriting and another said it should be posted as part of the major site. A member of my class also recognized the culmination of my skills: "It shows students that a graduate can do so much, learn alot and personalize a website that can help future Seton Hill students." Only two of the students said anything about the colors. One said it was "aesthetically pleasing and draws the reader in" and the other said that it was "hard to read."

The comments from my peers show me that I successfully wrote for the right audience and that the material and layout are simple and informative.

Although it didn't earn a place in my handful of "really proud" assignments, I was still pleased with my podcast, which was also a part of my presentation. It was a casual conversation between Valerie Masciarelli, editor-in-chief, and I about interviewing, again with the specified audience being freshman interested in writing for the Setonian.

My classmates enjoyed this as well. One general statement said that, "The podcast was very well done." The general consensus was that I had interviewed a great source and had good information and I exhibited equal amounts of conversational/professional demeanor and the finished product would easily fit in with my website. This was my original idea; to post the sound file to my website. I still think that I would like to do that.

Two classmates did comment on an issue with my podcast, which ironically enough, I commented on right after the class finished listening to it. They mentioned the abrupt ending and suggested a final wrap-up by Val or myself or a formal conclusion in order to add more closure.

One person sort of summed up the entire podcast by saying, "You showed that there is always a learning experience and room for mistakes. Great job."

Again, it was good to know my classmates could comprehend and enjoy my work and also pick out the converastion style I had intentionally used.

The feedback proved to me proof of the development of my skills on a communication level. The audience I had determined and prepared for was successfully provided for.

I feel that my final presentaion encompassed all of my knowledge and skill sets and was the most productive final presentation in Media Lab that I have ever had.

Posted by Lori Rupert at 1:31 PM | Comments (0)