A few weeks ago, our Journalism professor talked about ways to utilize Twitter to attract more readers to our blogs. Fast forward about a week, to me at about 12:45 A.M. on a Wednesday morning. I had completely forgotten about my weekly journalism blog post, which was a little overdue. We were to write about our experience with our recent MNNS projects

I did not expect to have much to write. Maybe a few paragraphs, coupled with some screen shots to make the blog appear to be longer than it actually was. 

I searched for any internet presence of the Cluster II Play & Grow Lot, which was the subject of the piece I did with my partner Tess Quinlan. My Google results gave me a story on Fox 6 News' website – written by Tess and I. I had no idea that our piece made it onto this website, so I tweeted the information to Tess and our professor. 
The two retweeted my tweet to their followers. 
I finished my blog and scanned it the next morning for a few last minute edits. I listened to my professor's advice, and tweeted it out to my followers.  
The Marquette Journalism Department Twitter account found my story, retweeted it... 

 
 
My biggest endeavor in journalism finally made it into the world yesterday. At about 600 words long and 2 minutes in duration, I was more than proud to announce its arrival into the world. 
My partner, Tess Quinlan, and I got our assignment a few months ago, and I will admit that I was a little nervous for this project. Up until this point, I had never done serious journalism. Sure, I have written a hand full of articles for the school magazine, but I did not ever have to leave the comfort of my campus to do so. 

For this project, we had to go out into the community for our story. Tess and I ventured to Harambee's Cluster II Play & Grow Lot. We were to interview some people associated with the garden and collect audio and pictures to go along with our story. I was a little worried about finding an angle to base our story on, but a fantastic one presented itself in the form of the garden's co-founders – Roberta Lyles (left) and Donna Handel (right). 
Lyles and Handel have been friends for years and have lived together for many of those years. They were sick of the crime in their neighborhood. Instead of sitting around wishing a change, like many would do, Lyles and Handel made something happen. They teamed up with Groundwork Milwaukee to create a space for children to play safely and adult neighbors to socialize. 

There it was. Tess and I had our great angle. Now it was time to create the whole package. 

 
 
Last week in our Journalism 1550 class, we watched a video from Poynter Institute that talked about ways to improve natural sound stories. We are just wrapping up a project with the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (MNNS) in which each of us paired up with another student and went out into the community to profile a MANDI award-nominated project. My partner, Tess Quinlan, summed up my own thoughts eloquently in her own blog post.

As we learned from Darren Durlach, host of the Poynter "webinar" we viewed, Tess and I needed more of a narrator in our piece. We had four different voices telling the story of our assigned project. Certain people we used had stronger quotes than others, so I wish we would have gotten more quotes from the stronger sources instead. Looking back, I believe it would have added so much more to the story. 
But, the reporting part of that project is over, so there is no point in wishing we could have done something better. I decided instead to take the lessons I learned from that project, and apply it to my current journalism project. While we were watching the Poynter video, we were told by our professor to think about our recently wrapped up MNNS project and our current One at Marquette project.

One at Marquette is a project inspired by the New York Times' "One in Eight Million", in which we were to find an interesting character here at Marquette and profile him or her using audio, picture and text. I've already finished the different parts of this project months ago. And although I didn't realize it at the time, my poorly done audio was really very lucky on my part.

After watching this video, I decided to start my entire project over. Although I had a hard time parting with the pictures I took, I had no problem scratching my current audio and text story. This video inspired me. I am doing a piece on the co-president of an improv troupe, so I realized that I need to get into my story the most natural sound that goes along with improv – laughter. So, at his show this past Friday, I recorded some of my subject's jokes and the laughter from the audience that went with it. 

Poynter's examples of natural sound stories were compelling pieces, as well. This made me realize that my current text was not compelling. At all. I have to get deeper in to what my subject's feelings for his improv troupe and comedy as a whole. I was getting so many ideas at the time of watching this video that I had to fight my urge to jot them down and actually pay attention.

This Poynter video may have been too late for my MNNS story, but it came just in time to save my One at Marquette story, and I cannot wait to see how these tips will pay off.
 
 
Long gone are the days of the damsel in distress movie characters. Today's damsels get themselves out of distress. 
Some of the most recent blockbusters have started a positive trend in female movie characters. Movies are now promoting young women who can take care of themselves. They are tough and can handle what life throws them. 

Take Snow White, for example. Last summer, I got on a bit of a Disney kick and decided to go back and watch a lot of my old Disney VHS's. Snow White sort of appalled me. With her slightly Valley Girl way of talking and weak demeanor, I could not even finish the movie. 
The fairest of them all got a makeover this year. Not once, but twice. First, she is portrayed by Lily Collins in "Mirror, Mirror." In this rendition, Snow White takes on the Wicked Queen to rescue her prince. In "Snow White & The Huntsman," the princess is portrayed by Kristen Stewart, who is trained by the Huntsman to fight for her life. Needless to say, Snow White has come a long way since Disney first debuted her. She now kicks some ass. 
The LA Times' article also discusses some other independent women portrayed in the movies. There's Jennifer Lawrence who  plays Katniss Everdeen in the "Hunger Games." She is a 16-year-old hunter is is forced to fight to the death in a cruel, televised game. Lawrence is also famous for her role in "Winter's Bone," where she portrays a young girl who takes care of her siblings and must track down her dead-beat of a father. 

Even Disney is getting in on the trend. The studio, that is famous for stories about delicate princesses who need a man in their lives. This summer, Disney and Pixar are releasing "Brave" – an animated film about a young Scottish princess who won't conform to her kingdom's expectations of women.

Although women are the heroines of these stories, these films can still appeal to both men and women and have either been successful in the box office, or gotten praise, even before they are released. 
 

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    This blog was created for my Journalism 1550 class at Marquette University. I am a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in film.

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