When you find what you love, chase it.

“Use CMU to find out what you’re good at. Whittle it down. Whatever comes from your classes, use it, and when you find what you love, chase it. Chase it for the rest of your life. Then you’ll be doing something you want to do.” – Jeff Daniels

Who would have thought that Jeff Daniels would have given me the best career advice out of everyone in this world? A man that doesn’t know me, who called me once, gave me excellent advice to give to students around the school.

But it really felt like he was talking to me, too.

I’ve spent the last six years at Central Michigan University. I’ve spent countless hours on campus, in classes, participating in extracurriculars, going to football games and taking pride in being a Chippewa.

I’ve cried more times in classrooms and in the library than I want to admit. I’ve laughed with so many friends in the dining halls, and I’ve met some really radical people who helped shape me into who I am today.

Central Michigan University was my home before I was a student here. I grew up on its campus. I broke my arm in fourth grade in Anspach Hall. I met my first mentor in Moore Hall. This place helped me grow into my own, and it pushed me to be a better me.

It’s been six years. I can’t believe that in that time I’ve gotten so many useful life skills. I know how to network. I know how to create stories worth reading. I can take a photo and make it look damn good.

It’s been six years of searching for my passion, and Central helped me find it. I love sharing people’s stories. I love being able to connect them with the community that surrounds them. I love that I have the power to do that through my words, and I love that people trust me to share their stories.

I’ve found what I love, and in 10 days, I get to start chasing it.

Fire Up Forever.

Change

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. ” – Isaac Asimov

It’s difficult thinking about the future and what it can hold. One part of me is certain that it’s full of endless possibilities, that I can go anywhere, work from anywhere and do anything. A journalism degree does not limit me to just covering the news. I could freelance, edit, write for a paper or magazine. I could enter communications or marketing or advertising. Yet, another part of me feels stuck in a rut, set with the conservative, traditional ten year plan that 18-year-old me wanted.

One of the best things that has happened to me is dating a man that has such clear goals in mind about where he wants to go, what he wants to do and what he wants to be. I admire his tenacity in reaching those goals, too, not letting anything hold him back, including me. I appreciate his open communication since the beginning of our relationship about these goals and his determination to achieve them. I support his dreams and anything that he has to do to get there, even if it means his leaving the country and me behind with it.

Like Asimov said, “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today.” Without change, there is no spark, nothing to look forward to, nothing to push for. I’m watching the industry I adore change rapidly, from the MLive internship program getting cut to reporters leaving almost weekly for other jobs. It’s terrifying to watch those jobs left vacant. However, that’s a change the company has made and it’s a reflection of how society feels about journalism.

Yes, change is scary. I’m entering my final semester of college on Monday. I have 18 credits, 115 days and six finals that stand in the way of me and my degree. After five and a half years, it’s time to move on. I won’t let anything stop me. There will be lots of changes along with it, an abundance of new ideas and opportunities ahead of me during the semester and especially after. Embracing change is the only way to go about life, though.

You shouldn’t get stuck in some rut because it’s where you feel you should be. You shouldn’t rest on your laurels because it’s what is comfortable. You should be constantly pushing forward, trying for better and making yourself better in turn.

I think John F. Kennedy put it best when he said, “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

I don’t want to let you down

Joe Hertler and The Rainbow Seekers at South By Southwest


AUSTIN, TX – Joe Hertler stood alone on a small coffee house stage with a harmonica strapped around his neck, the Michigan flag draped over his shoulders and an acoustic guitar slung across his body.

In 2009, Hertler was playing solo shows at nearly empty bars for little to no money.

Almost six years later, Hertler and his Lansing-based band, Joe Hertler and The Rainbow Seekers, have a record contract. They have spent the last two months touring the country, fulfilling a dream most local bands only hope to achieve.

Read more on MLive.com.

(This article originally appeared online for MLive.com as SXSW coverage of the band. I’m turning it in for homework.)

Thought Piece 4: Interviewing, Scripting, Editing

In Chapter 11, all about interviewing, the author gives a pre-interview checklist. This includes things like having a clear reason for the interview and preliminary research into the topic. This carries over into Chapter 12: scripting. The checklist can help you prepare whether you want to make the video into a scripted piece or one without narration. This then flows over into Chapter 13 in editing. If you have a script and a storyboard, then you can easily find clips that you planned out and place them into the areas they belong.

Storyboarding and scripting are more important than a lot of people think. With them, you have more of a solid plan of what you need to shoot. Shooting without a script can be challenging as the book points out. Sometimes plans change, but it’s good to have a solid idea of what you want.

In TIME’s piece about extreme couponing, they use a narrator, something that is more like a TV news story rather than a newspaper piece. This is still an option, though, because he is able to tell the story exactly how he wants it, rather than let the subject control the story’s direction. I think the narration fits better in the TIME piece about Kony. Because there is the language barrier, the narrator can tell the story and add in pieces that support his statements. I do think that his use of the child’s story was extremely powerful as well even though it’s subtitled. You hear him and you hear his tone.

Stanley Heist, author of Chapter 12, is a lecturer at the University of Maryland. He is an award winning photojournalist and has been published in multiple areas.

Thought Piece 3: audio and visual elements

Chapters eight, nine and ten all discuss audio and visual elements of storytelling. All three chapters emphasize that audio is the most important part of the process. If you don’t have good audio, you don’t have a good story. Chapter eight is all about collecting audio and the stories you can tell with it. If you think of everything as a radio show, you can tell your story and then add in the visuals. Chapter nine talks about adding the visuals to the audio and keeping the audio your priority. The visuals push the audio along, but they aren’t the most important part of the story. Chapter ten discusses how to keep the visuals interesting as well. The different angles they use to tell stories are important.

In Chapter ten, the author discusses the “bread and butter” of visuals: the wide shot, the medium shot, the close-up shot, the point-of-view shot and the reaction shot. These shots alone can tell the story better because they have a variety. If each shot is shown for five seconds each, it can be a 25 second audio story, which is plenty. I also found it handy that they gave alternatives for recording devices in Chapter eight.

In Chapter nine, the story “Waiting to Die” by Liz O. Baylen of the Los Angeles Times is incredible because of the combination of audio and visuals. He’s talking about his life and the times he’s had and basically that he’s waiting to die. You see him and his family and his house and how lonely everything is.

As for Soundslides, I understand that it’s a great tool for some people to use, especially those who aren’t familiar with other programs. I, however, would prefer to use something like FinalCut or Premiere because I’m familiar with the tools. The video on Soundslides was very helpful, though. I also appreciate that the program is relatively cheap.

I was impressed to see Liz O. Baylen because she has been a great writer to follow. Her stories have always had a great flow, and “Waiting to Die” is no exception. Her storytelling in this story is very personal and I think she captures his life and death through those photographs and audio very well.