Monday, December 05, 2005

Recap of the semester

In 3.5 hours, my Fall 2005 semester will be over. I am tired and my brain no longer seems to function properly. I suppose that is end-of-semester-student syndrome. I figured I should look back at the semester and see if my previous posts (J school Blues) were indeed warranted. Was the semester such a flop afterall?

The semester has been bitter sweet - I had two great classes - Radio newsroom and Intro to TV. I have learned more in these classes than my other two (Reporting Methods and Turning Points in Broadcast). Radio and TV were hands-on learning experiences that showed me how difficult and complex it is to create news for the radio and television; especially when you are your own cameraman, reporter and editor.

I have lost a few interviews because I did not start the camera when I thought I had, I have had trouble editing radio clips, trouble finding people to talk to me on time. All of it was hard on the morale, as not everything I produced was great quality work. But I learned it is a work in progress. I need to make some mistakes to get it right.

Wendy, from a few of my classes, including radio, suggested the department include more radio classes. I completely agree. There are 4 classes to TV; intro, intermediate and advanced (an entire year). For radio, there is only intro and radio newsroom. We want more radio!! And as she was saying, CJLO is set to go to air (finally!) and will need people producing some news. An extra class on radio would be welcomed and coulg give CJLO some material to air.

As for Reporing methods (focuses on business an crime reporting) - I was slightly disapointed. Not with the teacher - he was quite helpful and insightful, but in the course material. Business reporting is more complicated than you'd think. I do not understand economics and stocks and market changes. So how on earth am I supposed to report on this? as I've said before, we need more knowledge on the subject. After half a semester of business reporting, I still am clueless as to what amortization funds are. Maybe we should get a document with the main business terms - a short breakdown on ow finances work. As for crime, I love the idea of going to court and listening in on trials and lawsuits (there are a lot of interestings thigs happening at the court house every day). But at the end of the semester, it is hard for students to devote an entire morning to sit in in court and write a 400 word article on it. Suggestion: maybe put court hearings at the beggining of the semester...usually students are more available.

Turning points - I'm not sure what to think of this class, really. I feel I have learned little, if nothing. There were a few interesting articles and texts in the course pack, but sadly I feel the class tried to cover too much ground and did not focus on anything. We spent too much time trying to identify WHAT a turning point is, only to really agree to disagree - that there is not one single answer to that question. I had that much figured out by class one...We talked about a few turning points, but mostly concerning the American media. I have nothing against American Media, but we are in Canada after all. Maybe it is time to revise the course pack, and the overbearing emphasis on what is a turning point.

Elections are the Christmas Grinch

It has been official for a week now - Canada is having another election. And yes, campaigning ill happen over the holidays.

Now for a journalist, I think having an election creates more news than we really need. The candidates go from one photo-op to another, one press conference after another, creating a whirl-wind frenzy, hyping the situation. We truly have narcissistic politicians - they just love the camera.

I watched a tongue-in-cheek report on CBC this Sunday morning on how difficult it is for reporters to actually ask the Prime Minister any questions. The report made me understand a few things I had noticed while at the PM's first press conference in Coteau-du-Lac last Wednesday to announce the astronaut Marc Garneau would run in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area.

Our local newspaper was invited to attend, and we were told there was an entire bus of journalists coming (!), so we'd better get there early. My editor, the French journalist and I arrive at 7:30, half an hour early. Yet no reporters were there. Great, I thought, I can set up my camera at a good spot; no need to fight off the Radio-Canada cameraman for a spot!

Reporters arrived 10 minutes before the PM arrived. I thought, "that's kind late for all the media to arrive." But watching the report, I realized that the journalists onboard the PM's tour bus were tightly scheduled - the bus would arrive only a few minutes before the event and leave almost immediately after. The PM controlled where the press would go.

During the conference, journalists were not allowed to ask questions. The PM only took 4 questions from the crowd (pre-determined and pre-selected, no doubt about it). The PM left in a hurry and the journalists didn't even chase after him for questions. Tha is not what I had expected - I thought there would be a bigger fuss, jorunalists shouting questions, following every footstep of the PM. Not the case, I realized.

None of them stayed for the interview with Marc Garneau (he spoke to the local media for half an hour - thank you Mr. Garneau!). Again, they had to be on the tour bus before it left without them.

The reporter in the CBC piece tried to get a question in during a press conference. He had gone through the procedures, gave his question in advance to some PR person. During the press conference, that person decides what questions go and how long the PM stays. He coily make the PR person feel unconfortable, constantly staring at her, trying to convince her to take his question. He never got to ask his question.

This just goes to show that journalists might have more than enough coverage of the election campaign, but that networks have to be smarter in the way they find new angles to an election (only 10 months since the last one.)

I didn't really expect to have the chance to ask Paul Martin a question at that conference, but I was hoping at least one journalist would ask him a hard pressing question. No such luck - the PM knows how to play the media all too well.