Midterm Story Draft: Elizabeth Ucles

My midterm story will be covering the event the topic of funding at public schools in Texas and over-testing. I will address these issues by interviewing Austin elementary school principal, Cathie Robinson and asking her viewpoint on these issues as an educator.  To further gather the state of education in Texas, and more specifically Austin, I will attend the “Save Texas Schools Rally at the Capitol 2017” on Saturday, March 25 from 10am to noon. To incorporate media elements, I will use a DSLR to take video of the rally, interview protesters and interview Robinson. I will also get audio of the protest chants to incorporate in my story.

To show the current stark differences in funding across Texas, I will create an interactive map that compares funding per student of different districts across Texas (i.e. Houston ISD, Austin ISD, El Paso ISD, and more) using numbers from this source from NPR:http://www.npr.org/2016/04/18/474256366/why-americas-schools-have-a-money-problem#responsive-embed-school-funding-map-20160408

Cathie Robinson interview questions

-How does current state funding affect your school? And how does this compare to others schools? Whether this be in Austin or other cities in Texas.

The ways funding affects technology and other resources used in the classroom. The differences between schools in different parts of Austin, possibly how lower and higher income schools compare, perhaps a comparison of school districts in other Texas cities.

-How does funding have the impact to directly affect each child in school? Do you have an specific example of how funding either helped or hindered a student’s learning experience?

A story on how funding changed one child’s experience in school.

-From your perspective as a principal, in what ways does standardized testing help and/or hinder students development?

Pros and cons of standardized testing. Cons focusing on its flaws and inaccuracy in depicting a child’s capabilities.

-What kinds of changes would you like to see in revising funding laws for schools?

Offering suggestions for laws that would promote funding for Texas public schools. A new way to capture student’s capability and intelligence aside from over testing.

Interview questions for protesters: 

-How is current funding and over-testing affecting you and your community?

Unique stories of different students/administrators affected by underfunding and overtesting.

-What kind of outcomes will occur with more equal funding in schools?

More equal opportunity for success from a greater range of resources and focused attention

-How will these proposed changes affect schools in AISD?

Getting reactions based on what the state leaders and legislators say during their speeches.



Midterm Story PITCH: Elizabeth Ucles

I have a 3 ideas for what I could do for my midterm story. I don’t know which is best to do. There is one that I’m more inclined to do, but I would need some guidance on how to approach it.

  1. International Women’s Day
    March 8 is International Women’s Day. I was thinking about going on campus and asking students about what they think about the existence of International Women’s Day. My only caveat with this is that I’m not entirely sure how to do turn this into a story. I am compelled by the topic, so if I could more clearly figure out what to do, I’d love to go for it. There is an event hosted by the Multicultural Leadership board on this day as well. They are selling succulents and other things and the proceeds will be donated to give homeless women feminine hygiene products. This is an event where I could interview people. I could use video and photo slideshow for the media elements.
  2. Hands Off: Ending Sexual Assault in Texas
    This event on March 9 in the Austin area. There will be several state legislators addressing sexual assault on campus. I was thinking of going to the event and interviewing other guests. However, I think it would be a fun angle to take knowledge I gained from the event and ask St. Edward’s students their take on what state legislators had to say about sexual assault on campus. I could do a video and possible an interactive map of sexual assault numbers in Texas. I feel like I’m more inclined toward this story since I’m intrigued by the student body’s reaction, and how this might be unique to St. Edward’s. I also like this idea. With this one, and the one above, you want this to feel not like an “event” story on a news broadcast, but like an exploration of the issue. I like the map idea. Where would you get those number? Are we talking about convictions? Reports of sexual abuse on campuses (if so, I’d look for stats from public schools – easier to get). 
  3. Rich vs. Poor Schools in Austin
    This is the idea that I brought up in my Thought Exercise 3 about comparing rich and poor schools in Austin based on the amount of funding they are given. I would interview teachers and administrators on what they believe the effects are. I could do this interview in video or in a photo slideshow with corresponding audio. I really love this story. We have to think about characters. How will you get students, one “rich” and one “poor”? How will you get teachers? How will you show (not just tell) what it’s like in their schools? 

Media Critique: Elizabeth Ucles

The work being critiqued is “Patient Voices” by Karen Barrow in the New York Times from 2009. The purpose of this piece to tell the various stories of multiple people experiencing a wide range of diseases, illnesses and conditions. The media elements in this work feature first person accounts of the challenges and differences each patient experiences with their varying health issues. The work fulfills its purpose of informing readers through media elements of audio and picture slideshow in a categorized page. It uses these elements to engage the reader and places them at the scene with these people as they recount their experiences.

Through media elements, the story helps give these different patients a voice that provides insight into their lives with their differing illnesses, conditions and diseases. The first noticeable interactive media storytelling tool on the story is the opening page which presents patients in 43 categories based on their illnesses. When a category is chosen, it opens to a new page that presents a list of patients with that illness as well as some text that introduces the illness and the people in general. The reader can scroll through the list of patients and chose an audio recording to listen to. Once a person is chosen, their audio will automatically play as a picture slideshow with text plays. The reader has the choice to view the story like a playlist; when audio is done playing, the next person’s audio and slideshow will play. The creator uses these elements in the digital news package to give the reader an experience that connects them to the patients through images and audio.

Strengths in the use of these media elements involve a non-traditional way of storytelling, especially in 2009. The categorization of the different patients is effective through its navigability and its ease of use. The audio is an excellent use of media elements as the first person recounting in each patient’s voice helps the reader be right in the moment with the patient. Audio in this story is a much more effective tool than text storytelling since it makes the experience a bit more personable. The picture slideshow is a great way to give the reader something to look at while the audio plays. It’s another element that connects the reader and the story being told by the patient. The lack of text and emphasis on media elements proves successful in presenting an out-of-ordinary piece. Weaknesses in the story simply ask for bigger, bolder images. An improvement to take the audio a step further would be through using video that takes viewers into the worlds of the patients, whether this be in their homes or in their workplaces. Overall, the elements add to the understanding of the topics since they offer multiple perspectives on the same illness. Thus, this style helps make the story balanced and not limited to one perspective, but instead creates an array of unique viewpoints.

“Patient Voices” offers a unique view into the lives of very different people affected by illnesses, conditions and diseases. The media elements show that storytelling is versatile and not limited to just text and pictures here and there. This piece shows that media elements like audio and picture slideshow capture an audience. By this story being unique for a piece made in 2009, it serves as an inspiration to journalists in 2017 to keep thinking outside of the box to change the way we view storytelling even more.

Thought Exercise 4: Elizabeth Ucles

  1. Direct quote: “I see people taking to-go boxes,” he says. “They give you to-go boxes if you ask for them, but we weren’t allowed to do that.”
    Indirect quote: Cardenas says it is strange being on Google’s campus, watching the regular employees drive around on company-supplied bikes and scooters and taking home food.
  2. How does your job at Google affect your home life?
  3. For my education story from Thought Exercise 3, I would use teachers at these differing schools as one of my sources.
    Questions: (1) How does funding to this school affect the tools used in the classroom? (2) How could this school change if funding doubled in size? (3) In what ways are children affected by the funding at this school? (4) What are the differences between this school and (either the richer or poorer one depending on the teacher being interviewed)?

Thought Exercise 3 – Elizabeth Ucles

  1. Considering what has been happening with Trump’s refugee order, I think it would be interesting to do a story that highlights the response. More specifically, it would be interesting to look at reactions in very Conservative and Democratic cities: Austin vs. a small red city in Texas. Another story that I would be intrigued in investigating would be there differences in schools in both lower and high class districts. The story would function as a call for action for more funding that creates equality in all schools for a quality education. Another spin I’d be interested in doing in a story like this would be seeing how the arts influences educational quality and experience.
  2. In the first story, the news values present include timeliness and relevance since its relevant to the current political climate of 2017. It would also include controversy from two opposing standpoints. The second story idea incorporates human interest since it’s a peek in the lives of those in different ends of the education spectrum. It also presents controversy in how funds are divided up between social classes.
  3. For my story on Trump refugee order reactions, I would need to find sources and interviewees from both points of view. On the mainly opposing stance in Austin, I would interview people at the various rallies that are happening in Austin. I would even try to go as far as speaking to representatives at the Capitol to understand a governmental perspective as well. For the opposing view in a smaller red Texas city, I would perform similar investigations: interviewing the community and those a part of the city council.
  4. Interactive media elements that would add to the story would include video for interviewing the difference sources. I feel more media elements would be more useful in my second story idea. I could use an interactive map to show the differences in educational funds being distributed across different districts in– say– Austin. Video would showcase the human interest angle as well by allowing the audience to feel a part of the story. Photos have the potential to show a stark difference in the schools.
  5. The public would find my first story relevant and important due its timeliness. It is an issue increasingly prevalent not only in the United States, but around the globe as well. It would garner a lot attention to show where cities differ and why and what social implications this presents.