Since 2008, Austin Pets Alive! has had the same mission in mind, to promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals. APA! shelters primarily focus on providing care for animals that would normally not survive within the Municipal shelters. They provide specific care to key demographics of animals that would normally be euthanized. These key demographics included puppies with parvovirus, unweaned kittens, cats with ringworm, dogs and cats in need of additional behavioral support and/or additional medical attention. APA! has several programs created to help these at-risk demographics get the medical and behavioral care they need. Because of the specialized care that APA! provides, in 2010 Austin became the country’s largest no-kill city.
For this story, I plan to interview shelter employees/volunteers about their experience at APA! and to get an idea about the basic day to day operations that take place at the shelters. I also plan to interview some key personnel such as Dr. Ellen Jefferson, executive director of APA!, and Rusty Tally, president. However, I am still waiting to hear back about their availability. In the case that I cannot interview them, I will instead interview a manager at the Town Lake Shelter Headquarters in order to get information about this organization and the bigger issues that the shelters are facing as well as to get an idea of the history and mission of APA!.
The interactive media elements I will use for this story will be mostly video of the animals, the daily activity at the shelters, and video of the interviews. I will also incorporate voice over elements for introducing the story as well as for transitions.
I have a few ideas of what I would like to do for my midterm story and will most likely add a few more ideas to this list before I decide on a final topic:
I like both these ideas. Think about your “characters.” Who, specifically, will you interview? How do these “issues” become stories? Try as soon as you can to line up people to interview in action (not behind their desks at work).
- A story about Austin Pets Alive! or similar organization(s) in the Austin area. I would like to go in and interview the volunteers/employees to understand exactly what they do and the basic day to day operation of their organization. I would also like to ask them if they are having any issues/success with adoptions and about any other interesting things about working with animals and specifically in Austin. This story would use largely video, but it could also feature other elements such as photos or an interactive map showing areas in Austin with the most homeless animals.
2. A story about LGBT organizations in Austin and what sorts of issues or concerns they are having in this current political environment. Some possible ideas of stories within this could be, anti-LGBT legislation and how the Austin LGBT community and its organizations are feeling towards this. Also what sorts of issues/successes the Austin LGBT community is having that may be different or unique from traditional LGBT issues/challenges.
- Identify two quotes, one direct and one indirect (you may include partial quotes), from Mr. Cardenas that appear in the passage. Write the two quotes below and identify them as direct or indirect. (4 points)
Direct: “You feel like you’re different.”
Indirect: “Sometimes, Cardenas says, he doesn’t make enough money to feed himself and his daughter, which feels strange, working at a place like Google.”
- Write down one question you imagine the reporter asked to get one of these quotes. (1 point)
Are you provided with the same benefits as another Google employee?
- Identify a potential source for a news story of your choosing (think back to thought exercise #3). Write down the source and four potential questions for your interviewee. (5 points)
Anti-LGBT+ legislation, Texas lawmaker/legislature
- Is there real potential threat of anti-LGBT+ legislation in the near future?
- How would these laws, if passed, affect Texans who identify as LGBT+?
- Is there any talk within the Capitol or in the political community in Austin about anti-LGBT+ laws? I think you can assume there is talk, especially given your previous two questions. How about asking for specifics on potential bills or asking the legislature to handicap which ones have the best chance of passing and which the least chance? JH
- If these laws were to be passed, do you think it will become federal law, or will each state have to decide for themselves whether or not they want these laws in place? How about Texas specifically?
“A Girl Can Dream” is an interactive media story on NPR’s website and was written by Rebecca Hersher. This story features a few different interactive media elements such as photography, video, and photo collages. The purpose of this story was to give readers a glimpse into a typical school day for Afghan children as well as to show the similarities and differences to schooling in the U.S. In evaluating this story and the interactive media elements present within it, I found that I had enjoyed the story itself and the way the writers/photographers had pieced it together, but I also found that I wanted more media elements present. This story relied heavily on photography as its main interactive media element which can be powerful by itself, but paired with this somewhat average story and featuring little to no other interactive media elements left this story feeling fleeting and less immersive than it could have been.
This story focuses on schoolchildren in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Kabul and what their typical school day might look like. My first impression of this story was that it would be focusing on how different schooling is in Afghanistan compared to in the U.S., however it was relatable to the experience that children in the U.S. have when they go to school. Typically, when we as Americans hear about schools in Afghanistan we think about the harsh criticism of girls going to school and the challenges that they must face in order to just walk to school, but this story was refreshing in that it shows these children in front of the camera acting like normal children and telling us about their aspirations, what grade they’re in, as well as their name and age.
The interactive media elements featured in this story create somewhat of a slide show for the reader to go through at their own pace. This story featured little other interactive media elements which I found disappointing because of all the opportunities to use them such as using a map to show the different schools in that town. The creator used photography, mainly, to tell this story which may have been the best choice depending on the time they had to create this piece as well as the equipment available to them. The photos lead us through a day in this Kabul school and give us insight into what classrooms look like, as well as how these children play and interact during school. The layout of these photos seems very thought out and intentional by the creator and photographer.
The media elements used within this story are very interesting because they mainly use photos with the exception of an introductory video. During the main photo section, we are given some information about the students as well as information about Afghanistan and its schooling rules. While advancing through this story there are parts where photos are cut together to create almost like a stop motion video. I feel as though this part could have been shot different all together and that a video clip with live sound would have been more immersive to the reader than just clicking through pictures. To make this story more interesting and immersive, I would have liked to see more video content such as interviews with students and teachers to gain insight into what it is like to go to school here. As well as featuring more video elements within this story, I would have also liked to see different types of interactive media elements such as maps or infographics. I feel as though these elements would have drastically altered this story and would have enhanced the storytelling in this piece. The elements featured in this story certainly add to the understanding of what it’s like to go to this specific school in Afghanistan. By using photos, the reader is easily able to imagine themselves at this school and therefore allow them to step into these children’s lives briefly. The digital news package was not structured in a way that favored any particular point of view, instead it felt as though the creators of this story were doing so from an observational standpoint. The elements used within this story are essential to the digital news package because without them, this story would lose its relatability and humanity. By showing these children at school and at play, the creator is allowing the reader to gain a unique perspective and one that they probably have never had before reading this story.
Overall, this story was not as strong as it could have been with the right interactive media elements. Choosing to feature only one major media element significantly hindered this story’s ability to pull the reader into this school and immerse them into these students’ typical day. By adding in other interactive media elements such as videos, maps, and/or info graphics, the creator could have made this story more powerful and immersive to the reader.
- Brainstorm possible news story ideas. If it helps you may think about news story ideas by using some of your own life experiences and those of your family, friends, neighbors and community. Think about what makes the stories interesting and important, select 2 and write them down.
One possible news story idea is about the lack of spaces on campus for students to decompress and get rid of some anxiety. I was talking to a friend about this and she felt very strongly that the current environment on campus doesn’t recognize the stress and anxiety that students face daily and how they are not able to find a space on campus to discuss these topics as well as to just disconnect from school entirely for a little while.
Another possible news story idea would be to examine how various LGBT+ organizations and services within Austin are currently operating and how they are preparing for possible legislation against LGBT+ organizations and individuals in the wake of Trump’s immigration ban. Within this story I would also like to examine how the the LGBT+ community in Austin is feeling about our current government, president and possible future legislation against LGBT+ people.
- Think about news values (timeliness, proximity, conflict and controversy, human interest, relevance), pick one of your story ideas from question #1 above and explain which news values are present in your story.
The story idea about LGBT+ organizations and individuals concerns about future legislation has the news value of timeliness. In only the third week of Trump’s presidency, we have seen immigration bans and new legislation that paves the way for mass deportations, with these issues already coming to the forefront of every news outlet, it forces us to wonder whether or not there is more legislation to come that will significantly deprive Americans of their human rights. Another news value is proximity. By examining only the LGBT+ organizations and individuals within Austin, we would be able to get a consensus of how this specific community is feeling currently about anti-LGBT+ legislation. Conflict and controversy is also present in this story in that there are many opposing views on anti-LGBT+ legislation and that there has been a lot of controversy around it and if it will even become legislation/law. This story also features the value of human interest because it deals with a group that has been discriminated against in that past and that many people can relate to by either being a part of the LGBT+ community or knowing/being related to someone who is. Finally, this story has the value of relevance because it is something that is currently taking place and that many people will be aware of either before or after this possible legislation is passed.
- Identify and list potential sources and interviewees for your story.
Potential sources and interviewees for this story would be:
- LGBT+ Organizations (such as Out Youth)
- LGBT+ Austinites
- Lawyer/Lawmaker/Journalist with more information on possible anti-LGBT legislation who would be able to describe how/why it exists and what it means for LGBT+ individuals.
- Think about some of the interactive media elements from thought exercise #2. What types (photos, video, interactive maps, etc.) of interactive media would add depth and understanding to your story?
Video interviews would add depth and understanding to this story by allowing the viewer to learn directly from LGBT+ Organizations/Individuals about this issue. Interactive maps of the number of LGBT+ individuals in Austin as well as a map of all the LGBT+ organizations would allow the viewer to get a tangible idea of how immense this community is.
- Explain why the public would find the story relevant, interesting or important.
This story deals with the topic of possibly taking away certain people’s individual rights because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, etc. This story is important because it is discussing certain individuals rights and whether or not we are going to allow our government to take away their undeniable rights. This topic is very controversial because you have two sides, one opposing this possible legislation and one approving it. This story will allow people who are in the middle of these sides to get a glimpse of how this possible legislation is already beginning to affect LGBT+ organizations and individuals and how truly unnerving it is to realize that certain individuals rights may be taken away because of something they cannot control.