VIDEO PROJECT

For this final assignment, we again had to pair up with someone in class but this time to create a 2-4 minute edited video, rather than audio interviews or Soundslides. The video had to be a coverage of some sort of event, or some sort of journalistic feature event. Lauren and I partnered up again and we chose to cover UW’s Friday Night Fever, showcasing the comedy act of Vinnie Montez. Friday Night Fever is a free weekly event that is available to all students and is utilized an as alternative to weekend drinking and partying. We were lucky to pick a Friday that was not only easy to cover, but extremely fun as well.

I really enjoyed this experience, through and through. It was the first video project I have done since high school and I was extremely pleased to see how much I still enjoy video work. My favorite part, as I’ve said before, is the video editing process. It is probably my favorite thing in the world to do. Lauren and I recorded a lot of clips and footage of the show, so we had plenty to choose from when it came time to editing. Speaking of, I also really enjoyed the recording aspect of the project. Recording isn’t always the fun part, but given that the event and performer was amazing, it was a really good time. We made sure to capture Vinnie at different shots and angles, as well as shots of the crowd and those in charge of putting on Friday Night Fever. A variety of shots is what makes a video interesting and engaging. One thing I didn’t enjoy about the assignment was waiting for the video upload to YouTube. That took a good hour if not longer.

Something that surprised me about this project was how easy I was able to get back into the groove of things. I didn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable about recording or interviewing Vinnie, and there was only a couple of minor things that I had to remember when editing in Premiere. One thing I wish Lauren and I would have done differently was get a couple of interviews from students in the audience after the show. It would have given a different perspective to Friday Night Fever, which is what we were really trying to emulate with our video. I also really wish we had better recording equipment; I was really disappointed with how bad the quality of the video came out.

If I had a dream job, it would probably be editing video and audio. I could definitely see myself using it as a career. It’s a perfect way to communicate with and give information to an audience, both journalistically and emotionally. Video is an incredible skill to have, especially based on the testimonials we heard from our guest speakers from the Denver Post. I truly hope I can utilize these skills I’ve acquired, both in and out of this class, in a future career.

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LIVE TWEETING AN EVENT

For this assignment, we were instructed to pick a newsworthy event and “live tweet” it. In order to live tweet an event, I first had to create a new Twitter account; I deleted mine over a year ago. Second, I had to pick an event. I decided to go outside of my comfort level from basketball and try something new. Enter: wrestling. I chose to attend the Wyoming versus Air Force wrestling match on December 11, 2014, and live tweet it.

To explain “live tweeting” a little better, it literally means exactly what it says. You have to tweet (post on Twitter) the event as it unfolds and progresses. You have to do so in such a way that people who are not able to attend the event or watch it on TV can follow and still understand what’s going on.

I enjoyed this assignment just because it was something completely new. I liked that it felt like I was actually reporting something, because the tweets are being sent out for the whole world to see, rather than turning in a fake news story, like in other classes. It was fun to stay professional and objective; social media usually isn’t like that. There was nothing I really didn’t enjoy, the whole thing didn’t even really feel like an assignment. Over all, it was something fresh and fun.

Although I enjoyed the assignment, I did face a couple of challenges. To begin, the Twitter app has been completely updated since the last time I used it– over a year ago. I had to relearn how to use it as well as figure out the new components and placement of things. After going on a pretty big binge of staying away from social media, and my cell phone in general, I was surprised to see how rude I felt being on my phone the whole time! I kept thinking the people behind me were probably annoyed with me. If I could change anything about how/what I did on the assignment, I probably would have tried to go early to get a quick interview with a coach or player, those are the best. Also, having bad service in the sports complex, my last tweet failed to send when I intended to send it. I didn’t realize til after I got home that it was stuck in my drafts box, so it sent a lot later than it was supposed to! I definitely should have kept better track of that. I also realized that all of the tweets I began by mentioning a twitter handle, either @WyoWrestling or @AFAWrestling at the very start of the tweet, are considered “replies” so I’m not sure they if will show up on the timeline the same way as the regular tweets.

I use social media but, personally, I’m not a big fan of it. However, I think utilizing it journalistically is brilliant. It’s a great way to get information to readers in a fast and live way, without overloading them with it. I think it can also be utilized as a great marketing tool.

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SOUNDSLIDES

For the Soundslides project, Lauren and I partnered up and attended the Indian Fabric Fashion and Quilt Show held at the University of Wyoming. We found the event on WyoCal and thought it looked fun and seemed like an event we could easily get pictures and interviews, which were the essentials for this assignment.

The event had a fashion show, a number of dancers and tons of stuff being auctioned.  At the event, I focused on taking pictures while Lauren focused on getting interviews. This was a little tricky, considering I didn’t want the flash to continuously be going off in the models and dancers faces. I made it work though and the images turned out fairly well. We stayed at the show for about an hour and a half and talked to several of the models and dancers. It was interesting learning about the culture of Indian fashion as well as learning about the orphanage the event supported, Aarti Home. After taking pictures of the models and dancers and musical performers, I snapped a bunch of images of the items up for auction, all of which were handmade Indian fabric pieces. Some of the items included dresses, purses, and quilts. Like I’ve said in other blog posts, I’ve taken pictures at events before and I’ve always really enjoyed myself. So it was surprising, and kind of sad, to me when I wasn’t experiencing the fun and excitement I usually do. Because of this, I’ve been really confused about a lot of things, specifically what the heck I want to do with my life! However, I’m grateful for the experience to have showed me that maybe photojournalism isn’t exactly what I want to be doing.

Using Soundslides was not a very fun experience. I’ve never used it before and I almost think I like Windows Movie Maker better! However, I managed to figure it out without reverting back to Premiere. Once we got the photos and audio uploaded, we were able to start getting it to work and figuring it out. At times, the program made my computer run very slow and I simultaneously had Wifi problems, these issues combined added to my lack of enthusiasm towards Soundslides. Exporting was also somewhat of an issue. In fact, I’m quite terrified that I did it wrong and my instructor won’t be able to open it!

It’s odd to say, but what I liked about this assignment was the reminder it gave me of what I really like doing: editing video and audio. The whole time I just wanted to transfer everything to Premiere but I held out and followed the assignment’s instructions. If I could change anything about it, I probably would have began the Soundslides process sooner, especially since we got the audio and photos very early on.

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EDITED AUDIO INTERVIEW

The purpose of this blog post is to reveal the cut and edited version of my interview with Lauren. It contains all of the same audio from my previous blog post, “Raw Audio,” but this one obviously excludes my voice and questions and has been trimmed down quite a bit.

My audio editing experience was simply wonderful. I haven’t done a project like this since I was in high school and it made me remember how obsessed I am with editing. In the past, I have always edited video along with the audio so this was a somewhat new experience, given that it was strictly audio. I was very pleased that I was able to use a video editing software, Adobe Premiere Pro, that I’m already extremely familiar with to edit the interview. Premiere also allowed me to skip the file converting step from .M4a to .WAV that Audacity was giving me trouble with.

I feel like I have said this in just about every one of my blog posts, but I literally enjoyed every aspect of this assignment. I can honestly see myself going down a career path of editing of some sort. I don’t even know if I’m all that great at it, but I love it so much that I don’t even care. I’m ready to improve as much as I possibly can.

I enjoy cutting the clips and sounds up into a bunch of pieces and putting them back together in a way that tells a clear story. I also just enjoyed getting back into the groove of the whole process: remembering what keystrokes do what, finding certain settings in the program.

One thing that surprised me, and also made me happy, was how I could rearrange the audio in way in any and still have it flow. It seems like a pretty straight forward idea, but when there’s video involved, this is sometimes a challenge.

One thing I wish I would have done a little different involved the actual interview. I wish I would have had Lauren restate some of her answers into complete sentences. Because the questions are cut from the audio, the answers have to almost specify the questions themselves. I also wish my saving/exporting process went a little more smooth. I didn’t realize that I had muted my audio so every time I saved and played it, it was silent! Other than, the entire editing experience was a success. I truly hope that after all the efforts and enjoyment I put into these projects will ultimately improve the work I put out.

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RAW AUDIO

 

If you know me, you know I’m quite awkward. I’m nervous and anxious and the “real Katie” only escapes with close friends and family. However (and ironically, I might add), I’ve acquired a few abilities that allow me to make incredibly awkward situations not so awkward. These situations I’m referring to are interviews. Since junior high, I’ve been interviewing classmates, teachers and coaches for yearbook and TV Media classes. I’m very familiar with all types of interviewing and it’s something I really enjoy. This assignment did not stray from that; I very much enjoyed interviewing Lauren.

In the past, I have only ever recorded an interview with a video camera or simply by taking notes, never just an audio recorder. This was a new experience for me, even though I just used the stock voice recorder on my smart phone. This was a little tricky, by the way, because the audio saves as a weird file format that I have to convert out of (it’s a work in progress!). Throughout the interview I was wondering if I should have set my phone down instead of holding it out the whole time. However, I think the interview went very well.

Another new experience I got during this assignment was actually being the interviewee. I’m always on the asking side of the questions, never the answering side. Because of this, Awkward Katie showed through a bit more. But that’s okay, I enjoyed it! Lauren did a great job of interviewing me and allowing it to be comfortable and laid back.

What I really enjoyed about this assignment was that we were able to interview classmates. Lauren and I were already friends so that made it kind of fun and really easy. I also enjoyed the new medium of recording that I got to use; I always love acquiring new skills in this field. To be honest, I don’t think there was anything I really didn’t enjoy about the assignment.

If I could have done anything different during my interview, I probably would have messed with the audio recorder on my phone a little more or tried out other apps. If there is something that would have allowed better quality, I should have used it. I also should have set my phone down during the interview! It was kind of weird holding it the whole time. Other than that, I think it all went pretty smooth and I very much enjoyed it.

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PHOTOJOURNALISM

The Wrath of God at UW

Freedom of speech is widely practiced on the campus of the University of Wyoming. Sam Martin regularly preaches his beliefs about God and Christianity; he set up camp outside of Student Health to preach his beliefs about "the wrath of God."

Freedom of speech is widely practiced on the campus of the University of Wyoming. Sam Martin regularly preaches his beliefs about God and Christianity; he set up camp outside of Student Health to preach his beliefs about “the wrath of God” on October 17th.

When taking this picture, I didn’t necessarily “stumble upon it.” I, and most other students at UW, can expect this man to be out on campus once or twice a week. I’ve been wanting to get a picture of him in action and the fact that he had this sign out the day I got the picture made it that much better. The atmosphere when taking this picture was slightly different than the atmosphere I usually see when Sam preaches. It was easy to get the shot before a lot of other classes got out. When that happened though, there were more people stopping to talk to and question him than I’ve ever seen, which is the reason for the change in atmosphere. I also stayed quite some time to listen to what he had to say, which gave me new feeling to him and the subject. Taking this picture made me feel like I was actually capturing something: emotion and passion. The dominant creative devices in this photo are depth and the rule of thirds.

Rodeo Sisters (Sports Feature)

At the annual Spirit Relay for Homecoming Week at the University of Wyoming on October 14th,  Chi Omega sisters Katelyn Barnum and Britany Hartshorn get pumped for the rodeo part of the race. The Spirit Relay consisted of several obstacles and puzzles, one of them being a race around Prexy's Pasture straddling a mop while wearing a cowboy hat.

At the annual Spirit Relay for Homecoming Week at the University of Wyoming on October 14th, Chi Omega sisters Katelyn Barnum and Britany Hartshorn get pumped for the rodeo part of the race. The Spirit Relay consisted of several obstacles and puzzles, one of them being a race around Prexy’s Pasture straddling a mop while wearing a cowboy hat.

This was an event that was most likely announced but  one that I actually just stumbled upon while walking to the Union with my camera around my neck. I knew right away something fun was going on so I stuck around for a while to get some good photos of the action. The atmosphere was exactly the way it was supposed to be: spirited! The shots I got of the relay were a litter harder to get simply because they were action shots, but this makes it very fun and gave me a lot of variety. I had to find a balance of not getting in the way of the students in the race but getting close enough to get a good shot. The creative device that happened so perfectly in this photo is symmetry. The girls’ actions are completely complimentary of one another and I really liked that I captured that.

A Serene Laramie

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Unbelievably, it hasn’t been quite cold enough for the Laramie River to stop flowing and freeze over. On a cool, but not too cool, October evening, Laramie residents are enjoying the serenity of an Autumn that will soon be coming to an end.

Taking a walk near the river in West Laramie, I came across a woman and her dog and I loved the way they looked against the sky and the water. The creative device utilized here is lighting effects. As long as the flash wasn’t on, this  silhouetted shot was fairly simple to achieve. The atmosphere at the river was very calm and it made me feel very welcomed.

Shaded Safe Haven

Whether it's jogging, biking or laying down, Prexy's Pasture at UW is very accommodating for in between class time. Justin PUTHISLASTNAME takes shelter in the shade on a sunny October 14 morning.

Whether it’s jogging, biking or laying down, Prexy’s Pasture at UW is very accommodating for in between class time. Justin Gosling takes shelter in the shade on a sunny October 14 morning, where he is free to kick back and relax.

Again, this wasn’t any type of event, just a person I saw while wondering through campus with my camera. Regarding the atmosphere of the photo setting, I was hesitant to approach. I didn’t want to disturb or make him feel uncomfortable, but he was totally fine with me snapping a few pictures of him while he was relaxing in between classes. It was easy to get the shot, but I didn’t limit myself to just one. I took several others from different angles and perspectives just to be sure I  found the best one. The creative devices used in the photo are the rule of thirds as well as color.

Not Looking But Seeing

Onlookers of the Laramie River are out to get some fresh air as well as gather ideas. James, Alice and Sarah are human rights activists who are planning their routes for upcoming protests. The trio took a moment on October 13th to enjoy a peaceful evening.

Onlookers of the Laramie River are out to get some fresh air as well as gather ideas. James, Alice and Sarah are human rights activists who are planning their routes for upcoming protests. The trio took a moment on October 13th to enjoy a peaceful evening in West Laramie.

I was actually out taking pictures this evening for a different photography class I’m enrolled in. I ended up using a different image for that class, but I still liked this one. The atmosphere with these three people was very welcoming; it was very easy to talk to them and they didn’t mind me taking their pictures at all. This made getting the shot a lot easier, minus the fact that the top half of my body leaning over a bridge. The shot is a little crooked and out of focus, two things that could have been fixed in Photoshop, but I purposely left the image this way because I felt that it just matched the mood and the setting. The creative device used is leading lines.


What surprised me about this assignment was how simple it was for me to get out of my comfort zones and shoot not only people, but strangers. Humans are subjects that convey the most emotion in an image, and I loved trying to capture that. It’s still a learning experience and I’m still hoping to get better, but I enjoyed every aspect of photographing these people.

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CREATIVE DEVICES

Final Blooms

As the sunny days in Laramie are coming to a close, the countless flowers on campus beginning to as well. The remaining bloomed are embracing as much warm sunlight as they can, all too aware of their cold demise ahead.

As the sunny days in Laramie are coming to a close, the countless flowers on campus are beginning to as well. The remaining bloomed are embracing as much warm sunlight as they can, all too aware of their cold demise ahead.

The dominant creative device in this photograph is the rule of thirds. Rather than placing the large purple flower, the subject, in the center of the photo, I placed it in the top right hand corner. This ultimately makes the picture more interesting to look at. Another creative device utilized in this photograph is an index vector, or a leading line. The direction the flower is opening up to leads the eyes from right to left, across the entire photograph. If the flower opened in the opposite direction, it would lead the eyes straight off of the frame of the picture and the viewer wouldn’t correctly take the entire image in.

A New Light

When illuminating a room or revealing a delicious scent, it's often forgotten how simple a candle can be. Looking at it from above, one single flame is shown and one is reminded of its simplicity.

When illuminating a room or revealing a delicious scent, it’s often forgotten how simple a candle can be. Looking at it from above, one single flame is shown and one is reminded of its simplicity.

This photo displays a “birds eye view” viewpoint. If I took the picture straight on at eye level, the glass would obstruct the flame. This may have a cool effect, but it wasn’t the one I was going for. I took the picture from above to get a clear shot of the flame. This makes the photo catch a viewers attention because it is looked at from a new perspective. Another element this creates is depth. The depth is created by the levels from the top of the glass jar, to the top of the wax, to the black background.

Long View, Short Study

As the day comes to an end on campus, students also take in the last bit of sun they can get. Sophomore Mackenzie Kelly does some quick studying before rushing off to a math test.

As the day comes to an end on campus, students also take in the last bit of sun they can get. Sophomore Mackenzie Kelly does some quick studying before rushing off to a math test.

I utilized a graphic vector, or leading line, in this photograph. The line is obviously leading to the girl sitting down and studying. It is a different perspective than standing in front of the girl and taking the picture. This creative device captures the viewer’s eyes at the bottom of the page and leads them to the subject of the photo, the girl. Depth is also created in this picture by the levels that are created. The first level is the close up view of the concrete, then the girl, and then the buildings in the background behind her. Depth is important because it adds a 3-D feel to the image, which is much more lifelike than a flat piece of paper.

Flower Framed Family

Despite cloudy skies on the University of Wyoming campus, the ceramic white family statue in Prexy's Pasture pop against the surrounding greenery.

Despite cloudy skies on the University of Wyoming campus, the ceramic white family statue in Prexy’s Pasture pops against the surrounding greenery.

The dominant creative device utilized in the picture is framing. The flowers and the plants frame the sculpture. This puts more emphasis on the sculpture that would not be there without the framing. Because of this, the picture is much more interesting to look at. To add, there aren’t any other distractions in the background that take away from the subject. Another creative device used is contrast. Although there is no contrast between the sculpture and the cloudy white sky, there is great contrast between the plants and the sculpture, again, adding more emphasis to the subject.

Bursts of Fall

Because the weather is ever so changing in Laramie, it's sometimes hard to remember what season is present. However, even when the weather doesn't correspond accurately, autumn is never mistaken; the colors of fall are very present on the University of Wyoming's campus.

Because the weather is ever so changing in Laramie, it’s sometimes hard to remember what season is present. However, even when the weather doesn’t correspond accurately, autumn is never mistaken; the colors of fall are very present on the University of Wyoming’s campus.

 The photographic technique I chose to use in this image is texture. Taking a picture  of the leaf at such a close up angle allowed for all of the veins, cracks, edges and details to not only be very present but dominant. This makes the photo pleasing to the eye because it gives the illusion that flat image actually contains texture. Another present creative device in the picture is contrast. The dark and shaded background makes the orange leaf “pop” so much, thus, creating more emphasis on it.


While completing this assignment, I enjoyed finding random things that seemed normal to look at and taking pictures of them in ways that weren’t as normal. I wish I would have taken more pictures of people because of the detail and emotion they can display. I think it’s important to utilize creative devices when taking pictures: they capture the essence of a moment so much better and leave more of a lasting impression in a viewer’s mind.

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Relationship Status: Undefined

College Dating

It’s a widespread idea that college years are supposed to be the greatest years of a person’s life, and why shouldn’t they be? The time in college is a time to meet new people, learn a lot, and follow the cliché yet accurate stigma of “finding yourself.”

However, it’s safe to say that when one thinks of college, the first things that come to mind are partying, money, multiplied stress levels, hooking up and, of course, a perpetual relationship status of single. The latter of these of conceptions is almost classified as the cardinal rule.

Tyler Schriber, a single sophomore at the University of Wyoming, agrees a hundred percent with the single rule, stating,

“I just don’t want to be locked down.”

According to Campus Explorer, an online site that offers students free counseling tools as well as help on finding a perfect school, “College dating follows a completely different set of rules than any other dating scene,” and followed with, “College students prefer short-term, casual relationships over long-term relationships because it allows them to focus on their academic and career goals.”

College may have its stigmas, themes and misconceptions, but why has the topic of relationship status become so overly generalized? The stance and thoughts of the subject differ from student to student and case to case.

A single junior at UW, Garret Uden, reinforces this idea by stepping outside of the single stigma: “I don’t enjoy being single, but I don’t really have a choice right now.” Uden adds to this by saying when in a relationship, he usually puts it ahead of everything else, school included, claiming the happiness in his life is more important than getting good grades.

Grades aren’t the only thing that get sacrificed when in a college relationship and Uden is perfectly fine with that:

“You might not go to as many parties, but who needs parties?”

Sarah Mirabassi, a Colorado native and a freshman at the University of Wyoming is experiencing the trials and joys of a long distance college relationship. Unlike a large number of people who feel obligated to stay in a long distance relationship with their high school sweetheart, Mirabassi is still enjoying it. She claims, however, that “it really just depends on the people in the relationship.

Nothing goes perfect but we compromise to make it work.”

Other students aren’t so explicitly sure of their stance on dating in college. Stephen Dalton, a now single sophomore who was in a serious and long distance relationship as a freshman, is just “going with the flow.” Dalton claims to be happy being single but says if the perfect relationship situation arrived, he’d take the girl and run.

“If it’s Ariana Grande, I’ll quit school.”

Ariana Grande, courtesy of musictimes.com.

Brittany Cluffe, a sophomore at UW, says, “I’m constantly torn between wanting to be a single party girl and wanting to find a serious relationship.”

Madison Shirey, a single freshman, is enjoying her single college life but would be open to a relationship.

“College is a time to meet new people and you shouldn’t be in a relationship if it’s holding you back in any way,” claims Shirey.

Hooking Up

“Hooking up,” an ambiguous term defined by The Urban Dictionary as “an engagement in romantic/sexual activity with someone at a party/gathering,” has a big impact on dating life in college.

Photo courtesy of feminspire.com.

“Coming to college a virgin makes me feel like I’m going to be a virgin forever.

I still want my first time to be special and while I’m in a serious relationship, but all guys in college want is to hook up for the night and then be done,” says Cluff.

Schriber and Dalton both agreed that they don’t go out looking for girls to hook up with, but, again, if the situation presented itself, they wouldn’t say no.

In Alex Williams New York Times article “The New Math on Campus,” dating and hooking up stats depend on male to female ratio at colleges. Almost nationwide, females are dominating university populations. When an average school has 57 percent of its students being female, the guy is given the upper hand when it comes to selection.

A senior at UW and former athlete, Brady Nichols, says that past experiences in hooking up changed the way he thought about dating. “Hooking up happens a lot in college. I’m a guy, I’m guilty of lots of hooking up. I opted out of a potentially really good relationship because I knew what would happen if I went to a party without her.

But hooking up isn’t the problem, it’s still us who are making the decision.”

So what’s the verdict? Is college dating considered taboo, or has it evolved into a more “mind your own business” type of thing? Depends on the student, depends on the relationship.

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USABILITY TESTS

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My Usability Test

For this blog, I had to visit http://www.poweringanation.org/coal/# and watch/interact with the website. The title of the “interactive film” I watched was Coal: A Love Story. Before even clinking the link that directed me to the page, the four word title alluded to what the whole thing is going to be about: a new perspective on coal. When I reached the site, I quickly found out that my inference was correct. Before I watched any of the videos, I saw the little side bar on the left hand side of the screen. A tip listed on the course blog said to avoid scroll bars, but this one didn’t dictate the whole site; if you wanted to use it you could, if not you didn’t have to. I liked that when you hovered over different parts of the side bar, the title of that section appeared.

I scrolled back up to the top and began watching the videos. The first one was very vague and honestly kind of confusing, but at the end of it (and the end of all of the videos) an arrow appears that directs you to a “next” link, which prompts the next video. I really liked that. It was kind of like telling you, “Go ahead, keep watching, just click right here;” in turn that forced me to watch the videos in chronological order, which made the story a lot more powerful and enlightening as opposed to if I watched them out of order. The more videos I watched, the more they all began to relate to each other and make more sense.

After watching a few of the videos, I began scrolling through the site again. I noticed there were a lot of links. Most of them said “Watch the Story,” and clicking on it just brought up the video for that section. Some of the links brought up graphics and some were cool little interactive graphics like the “Calculate Your Coal Use.” I have to admit, all of the links were kind of daunting and I felt like if  I didn’t go to each one, I’d miss something. But even though there were a lot of links on the site, they didn’t hinder the navigation and they were all very consistent. If the link was to a video the font was bolded and capitalized and had a little “>>”. If the link was an interactive graphic or a piece that you had to spend time reading, the font was thin, not in all caps, and had a plus sign in front of it.

What I really liked overall about the site was that everything was on one page. Even when you clicked on a link, the video or graphic stayed on the same exact page. Some sights bring up links in new tabs or redirect you completely, forcing you to hit the back button or having to keep closing a bunch of tabs (annoying). That was another tip listed on the course blog; “make it easy for users to return to the previous content” (bingo!). This feature made the whole site seem like one fluid, almost effortless, motion. What strengthened that feature even more was how all of the titles on each section were like a continuing sentence from the previous one.

Finding contact information was a little more challenging than I thought it would be! Usually on any site, there are words that literally read “Contact Us” at the very bottom of the page, that easy. This site however, wasn’t as simple as that. There were similar links at the bottom of the page, but I had to fish through them to find contact information. The LinkedIn link brought up 14 employees I could email and the “Join Our Team” brought an email and phone number. Finally I clicked on a link that said “About Coal: A Love Story” and found the team that created the story.

My Roommate’s Usability Test

So after I did my own usability test on the site, I had my roommate, Kate, do it as well. I gave her the low down on why the heck I was having her do this, and told her to just navigate through the site and talk/think aloud as she was doing so.

At first, Kate read the title and kind of got an idea of what the site was about. Then she began scrolling through and noticed all of the videos. She said she didn’t really want to watch any videos, so she began clicking on links that brought up graphics. The first one she went to was at the bottom of the site  that read “Health costs of burning coal.” She said it was actually pretty interesting and she didn’t know about this kind of stuff before. After that, she didn’t go in any particular order of the links, just clicked on random ones and read the information given. She said that even though she didn’t watch the videos, she liked that she knew what each was going to be about, based on the titles and captions. She said the whole site was set up really simply so it was easy to navigate through and figure out. She also noticed the scroll bar and added that she liked that too. Like me, Kate liked that everything stayed on one page when she clicked on links for the graphics.

When it came to finding the contact information, Kate struggled the same way I did, expecting to explicitly see the words “Contact Us.” She clicked on the “Join Our Team” link first and found the same contact info that I did, but wasn’t sure if it was what she was supposed to find.

The main difference Kate and I had on our usability tests was that I watched a lot of the videos and she did not. Because of this, I went through the site in the order it was given, and Kate went through the site based on what links she wanted to open. She used the scroll bar more than I did, as well. One thing we had in common while navigating the page was that we scrolled through to the bottom before watching or clicking on anything.

Overall, I really liked this site. I loved the story as well as how the page was set up. Given that I have to list three things I think should be changed, I managed to find a few. First, a contact link should be created. One that leads directly to contact information, so that the user doesn’t have to waste time going through each link that might have it. Second, it might be helpful to add a little more in depth summaries to each video. This will allow the personal stories to still get portrayed, rather than just facts and information, to people, like Kate, who didn’t want to watch any videos. The last thing I would change about the site is the empty space on the right hand side of the screen. I think it can be utilized for more information or to maybe just spread out the information already there.

One big thing that definitely shouldn’t change about the website is the fact that you’re never directed away from the page when viewing and navigating through the content. This feature is very user friendly. Another feature that should be kept is the consistency in the look of the links. This is another thing that the makes the experience easier for the user. Finally, I think the scroll bar should be kept. It makes it easy to see how far along on the site you’ve gone, and if you want to jump up or down to another section you can do so with out physically scrolling through the site.

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My News Diet

I have to admit, my news diet isn’t super mature or all that sophisticated. I don’t keep up on the polls, I’m not an avid CNN viewer; I don’t even have a newspaper subscription (I swear I’m a Journalism major!). Alas, I do have a couple of specific news outlets that I reach for when I’m craving a little information.

Is it too cliché to list The New York Times as my most commonly used news source? Probably. But it’s handed out for free on campus and the NY Times website has so much (too much) available even without a subscription (that’s what broke college students refer to as a ‘win, win situation’)! Believe it or not, I do read the Times for reasons other than economic convenience though. I can get any dose of politics, sports, science, photojournalism, international news and SO much more in just one issue and even more in a few minutes on the website. I don’t have very explicit reasons to trust this publication, but I guess I do just because it is so known and respected across the country and has been for a long time. In addition to that, I try to watch even just the local news every day. Whether when it’s when I’m getting ready in the morning or when nothing else is on at 10 o’clock at night, I make an effort to know what’s going on in my community.

Like I said before, a lot of my news diet isn’t very “newsy;” I’m embarrassingly guilty of my need for pop culture! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown away from it but I still need a dose of Kardashian drama every now and then. I think entertainment outlets like E! News and People magazine are still somewhat informative though. The news they give may not be as relevant or important to our daily lives, but a good amount of the population consume it for that reason exactly. It informs on things less stressful so that readers and viewers can take a break from their hectic lives and learn about someone else’s.

I don’t talk about news as often as I wish I could. Excuse me if I sound shallow, but I just can’t hold in-depth intellectual conversations with someone who isn’t whole heartedly into it. On the flip side, I don’t like having those conversations if I’m the one who isn’t educated on the subject. When I do talk about news and current events, I always hope that the person I’m talking to disagrees with my stance. That might sound weird, but it gives me a chance to look at and think of the situation from a different perspective. You don’t get this experience from someone agreeing with everything you say, and vice versa.

In short, there are plenty of improvements I can make to my news diet. I should cut back on reality star news and learn a thing or two more about my country’s representation. I should watch CNN more than just when I’m eating breakfast in the morning. I really should buy that Boomerang subscription that that cute little girl who came to my door tried to sell me.

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