This Is It: A Semester In Reflection (Caudell)


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As the semester comes to a close, I look back in something akin to awe tinged with pride. I’m amazed by how far I’ve come along with my peers in such a short amount of time. I’ve learned so much about journalism, and even more about myself. As I look back, I remember specific accomplishments (and goofs)…

The first assignment for this class was a simple “get to know your camera” type project. On the

Me and this plant had a lovely conversation about photosynthesis after the photo shoot.

surface, this should have been the easiest task. As it turns out, this was the most stressful part of the class for me. I had never worked with a camera before, so I naturally went into a slight panicked state when I realized it would be a central component of this class. After it was all said and done, though, I was actually really proud of my output. It wasn’t the greatest photography the world has ever seen, but it showed me that I was capable.



The second assignment for this class was a lot easier for me, and as such, was much more enjoyable. The task was to compile a photo-essay with a common theme throughout, so I used'my fraternity’s recruitment efforts as the focus. Several of my photos were taken in dark environments, which presented a slight challenge, but overall, I think my quality increased exponentially just between the first two assignments. I really enjoyed layering in audio with the photo-essay; I’m not sure why, but it just made the overall effect seem that much more intimate.

My fraternity’s crest. If you must know, the sword and shovel are for fighting off dragons that attack our house.

Then, the stress I felt with the first assignment resurfaced as the third assignment was revealed: a video-essay. I knew that eventually we would have to film video, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be until later in the semester. Alas, the moment was upon me, so I put forth my best efforts. And honestly, I’m proud of what I accomplished. I once again used my fraternity as the focus (I promise this is the last time I used them this semester), this time opting to film them playing basketball. Yes, some of the shots were shaky. Yes, some of my video-cuts were kind of jarring. But at the end of the day, for the first time I’ve ever even tried editing together a video, I feel I did a very good job maintaining a solid narrative flow, which is what matters most to me. My filming has definitely improved since this assignment, but that’s not to say this wasn’t some quality work.

I won’t tell you how many times me and the camera almost got hit by the camera (HInt: 8 times)

Flash forward to the next project, and I felt right at home. I’ve always really enjoyed doing audio packages, mostly because I think my voice is my most desirable feature. I had some trouble finding a subject for my story, but luckily I happened upon it in the form of a Frisbee flying past me over by the South Quad. Illini Navigators, a Christian fellowship on campus, became the focus for my audio package. Well, more specifically, it was the group’s usage of Ultimate Frisbee as a soft recruitment tool. Once I had my subject, I feel the rest of the project went very well, and I was proud of my work. The wind cap on my audio recorder helped out immensely

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a picture of a UFO in my backyard, it’s just a Frisbee.
Picture Credits

What came after the audio package was a full on video package, encompassing everything I’d learned in the class up to that point. Even though it was a tall order, I wasn’t intimidated as much as I thought I would be. I went through several ideas in the process of creating this package, but I’m proud of the story I ended up with. I covered a speech by Kimberly Corban, a survivor of sexual assault who is a strong promoter of the 2nd Amendment. It was a unique approach to an unfortunately prevalent problem, and I really enjoyed interviewing all of my subjects. I was also pleased with the final product, although in hindsight I wish I had captured just a bit more B-Roll.

Covering the Kimberly Corban story was a very moving and powerful experience. Source

My last solo outing was making a how-to video. This was the most laid-back assignment of the entire semester, and I really wish I had more fun with it. I decided to make mine a humorous bit showing how to put a strap on a single-notch acoustic guitar. The final product wasn’t bad by any stretch, but I feel like I could have done so much more with it. I think the fact that this assignment fell around the time of Spring Break, I was just a little too burnt out to go above and beyond what was required for the assignment.

Update: I still can’t play very well, but I’m getting there!

And then we come to the last hurrah, the big one. My colleagues Emma Li and Nate Williamson helped me create something wonderful, but it wasn’t without a lot of hard work and patience. Upon starting this endeavor, we had a plan of what we wanted to cover, but all of us will admit that it wasn’t the strongest plan. But out of that came something wonderful and unique. Our story evolved as we went about our reporting. What started out as a story focused only on HearMyVoice soon became a feature with two sides. We owe a lot of this to Professor Ken Salo, and by extension Professor Collins for persuading us to truly be journalists. I don’t want to spoil too much of our work here, but I hope you like what you find on our website, because I know I’m very proud of our work.

Professor Ken E. Salo, who contributed greatly to the success of this project.

Looking back, I’m impressed with how far I’ve come. Looking forward, I’m excited to see how far I’ll go. I’m glad I took this course under Dr. Collins, as I don’t think I’ve ever had a professor be so engaged in my work and simultaneously always challenge me to do better. While intimidating at times, I highly recommend this class and professor combination to all the fledgling journalists of the future.

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