JRNL 102 – Assessment 3: Convergent Website

Convergent media production and multimedia newsrooms are continually increasing in popularity as part of contemporary journalism.’A new focus on social media, to gather, promote and disseminate content’, allows for increased consumer interactivity. Creative use of mediums in news coverage has impacted upon the popularisation of new trends in multimedia journalism. These trends are inclusive of a large focus on visual and audio elements, with the maximisation of the use of video and photography in multimedia presentations of newsworthy stories.

“Online tools and platforms allow media makers to build deep, multimedia reservoirs of content around particular beats or topics that extend user access to one-time broadcasts or provide context for ongoing coverage.” (Aufderheide, 2009)

In 2015,  following the emergence of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, American daily newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, produced an interactive multimedia website. The site detailed the police brutality that transpired in Baltimore, Maryland, on 12th April 2015, that led to the suspicious death of 25-year-old, US citizen, Freddie Gray. This story received an extensive amount of legacy media coverage, but The Baltimore Suns’ website, titled, ‘The 45 Minute Mystery of Freddie Gray’s Death‘, allowed for audiences to become immersed in the account of Freddie’s death, gaining insight into the event through the presentation of facts via inclusion of a range of interactive forms of multimedia.

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The website, written by Kevin Rector, employed current news trends, with the incorporation of an assortment of media platforms, in order to depict the incidents that took place, following Gray’s arrest. Engaging photographs, text, interactive directions, GPS coordinates of important locations, and videos, describe and recount the events that led to Gray’s death.

(This presentation was published on April 25, 2015. Six days later, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against the six officers who arrested Freddie Gray and offered new details about his arrest.) 

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The photographs included on the interactive journalism site are engaging, as they depict every day, simplified images, allowing for audiences to make personal connections, in turn, rendering the photographs relatable.

 

PHOTOS BY AMY DAVIS AND KENNETH K. LAM

The GPS coordinates allow for audiences to view the exact locations, in which, the events of April 12th transpired. This allows audiences to make real world connections with the news story, invoking the sentiment and importance of place in inciting interaction.

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The videos embedded on the site display eye witness accounts of the events, again, inspiring intimate relationships between viewers and the information they are receiving.

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The use of innovative visual, audio, graphic and interactive elements allows for the effective engagement of news consumers and illustrates new trends in multimedia news production.  The seamless integration of each element, along with the linking of further sources, in regards to the same or similar topics, has made the website successful in inciting audience participation in the production of journalistic content.

 

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A Mother’s Hidden Grief – What’s Hidden – JRNL102

 

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A mother’s loss is one of pure devastation. The death of a child is a traumatic experience, of which, cannot be compared to any other.

At 82 years of age, Kathleen ‘Sally’ Conforti still recalls the gut-wrenching day, in 2009, when her 42-year-old son, Patrick Conforti, died as a result of a Heroin overdose.

Harmful drug use continues to be a serious public health issue in Australia with 1,808 drug-induced deaths registered in 2016. Those over the age of 40 have been found to have higher rates of drug-related deaths, nation wide. Drug addiction impacts upon the lives of many, not unlike Sally, who’s loss of a loved one, incites grief, that is often masked by sanguinity.

“He was a good kid, but he had a problem with drinking. Then, he went on to drugs” Sally said.

She described her son’s life and aspirations, saying, “He was a good footballer. He almost got to play for the South Sydney Rabbitoh’s, but drugs got in the way.

“It was very sad to lose my first-born. You’re supposed to die before your kids” she said of her loss.

Attempting, countless times, to hep her son, Sally would often attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings while Patrick remained at home, saying, “In the end, he had to help himself.”

“I remember the day. Mum was distraught. She did all she could but it wasn’t enough” said Sally’s second son, Anthony Conforti.

Sally’s high-spirited outlook and flamboyant nature is the perfect disguise for the hidden trauma surrounding the death of her son. Outwardly, she appears light-hearted, radiating buoyancy and positivity, but underneath her façade, is grief regarding Patrick’s death, along with the guilt that prompts the thought that she could’ve done more to save him.

After being diagnosed with emphysema in 2013, sally needed full time care. Residing in Austral at the RSL Lifecare Tobruk Retirement Village, her son Anthony visits every day.

Her genial personality continues to leave a lasting impression on her primary carer Eleanor Clarke, who said, “Sally has been through a lot. I think losing Patrick has made her the kind, strong woman she is today. She’s always up for a chat and she always has a smile on her face.”

Despite her loss and hardship, Sally remains the picture of positivity, saying “It does affect you when you lose a family member, but life’s got to go on and I just had to learn to live with it.”

Twitter – Shaneese Royal 

(All images photographed by myself)

(Credit and thanks to Kathleen ‘Sally’ Conforti and the staff at RSL LifeCare Austral)

Assessment Task 1: Emotional History

EMOTION: Sadness (Loss)

INTRO SCRIPT: 
Katie gave birth to her baby boy on 23rd November 1990. All was well until she undressed him for a bath. This audio describes the day she lost him.

IN: “When Blake was born he was in a lot of distress”
OUT: “I still have the scar to remind me every day that i had him”
DUR: 2.00

MUSIC: Emotional Piano Theme 4 – Martin Gauffin

AUDIO LOG:

TIME CONTENT – Summary EVALUATION
0:01-0:17 I can’t remember exactly what time, but he was born on 23rd November 1990 Levels too low, hard to hear/ decipher what is being said. *
0:20- 0:25 Hot I think, It was summer, nearly summer Levels too low, muddles speech/ unclear *
0:32 -1:10 Discusses what happened when black was born, he was in a lot of distress, went into an incubator, was tube fed, monitored for a few days Emotionally effecting, Good explanation of events, better levels. **
1:13- 1:57 Explains that Blake came back to the ward and was bottle fed and that they stayed in hospital for a couple of days before Blake as able to be taken home. Not integral to the point of the story nor emotionally impactful, however has good levels **
1:58- 2:21 Explains that “Everything seemed fine/ quite normal for the first few weeks after Blake went home” Creates a juxtaposition for the events that are about to ensue, emotive language/ tone. ***
2:26 – 2:56 Explanation of what alerted Katie to the fact that bale was sick, she undressed him and his stomach was bloated, he was taken to the doctors and recommended to hospital straight away Extremely powerful story, explains the beginning of the moment that is being focused on in the audio. Pauses/ breaths = strong emotions ***
3:02 – 3:20 Explains that she was panicking and worried, didn’t know who to tell Good levels, emotive, perhaps too long winded **
3:25- 3:50 Explaining that she took him to Campbelltown hospital and found out he had a blockage in his bowel, he was then transferred to Camperdown Children’s hospital Keep the diagnosis of blockage in the bowel as this adds to the story and is integral as to what happened to Blake. ***
3:51- 4:06 He was taken there by helicopter Adds to impact of story, can here emotion in voice, makes story more powerful **
4:07- 4:45 Explanation of specifics of operation, what was done, how long it took and so on Important but not as emotional, more explanation, doesn’t add anything to the emotional aspect of story *
4:45- 5:08 Explains that this all happened in 24 hours and she didn’t have a chance to think anything through. Adds to impact, makes audio more powerful as it explains how it happened so quickly ***
5:12- 5:28 Said that he was deteriorating after the operation and that she should return to the hospital very soon. Relevant but there are more emotional pieces to include which relay the same thing, clear levels and emotive tone **

 

 

5:38 – 5:48 “They called us into a separate room in the hospital and they told us that he passed away and that he didn’t make it” Integral moment, the main focus of the story, extremely powerful and invites feelings of sympathy, sadness and sorrow. Natural pauses create emotion. ***
5:50- 6:02 “He had a very bad infection all through his body and he actually passed away from septicaemia.” Extreme impact, pauses create tension/ enhance power of raw emotion, clear levels. ***
6:02- 6:10 “Septicaemia is a poisoning in your blood stream.” Relevant but also takes away from the raw emotion of the last comment. *
6:12- 7:03 “I was in shock for nearly a week, I just stayed in my bed every day and I dint eat or drink. My support was my fiancé at the time and two of my good friends. They came around every day. They didn’t say a word but they were just there.” Slightly off topic to the main focus of the audio, diverges from the particular moment I was trying to capture. *
7:05 – 7:37 “I was paranoid that the same thing may happen again when I fell pregnant with my second child especially because she was through IVF.” Again, not as relevant to the main point of the story, takes away from the raw emotion of previous statements. *
7:41- 8:10 “Sometimes I still feel sad, I still have the scar to remind me every day that I had him. It’s like I never can forget him.” Adds to the follow up emotions of the story and increases the emotional impact to know that the emotions still affect her. ***
8:10- 8:30 “I was told he would have had a lot of health problems if he would have survived. I think everything happens for a reason but it still doesn’t make it any easier.” I think the prior statement has more of a lasting impact so I chose the previous statement to end the work instead. This does however have clear levels and emotive tones **

REFLECTION: 

For my Emotional History task, I drew upon a story that had evoked, quite strongly, within me, feelings of sadness and sorrow. I interviewed my mother, regarding the passing of her first child, only weeks after his birth. She had relayed the story in the past and I thought it would be perfect in order to elicit emotion through the use of sound.

I was somewhat sensitive with my questioning, but, in saying this, interviewing my mother made it easy to capture raw emotions, as I was able to probe deeper than I would have if I had interviewed a stranger.

To capture my interview, along with elements of atmospheric and ambient sound, I used a Zoom H2 recorder. When editing using the Hindenburg Software, I was quite comfortable with the program, in terms of crafting the audio, as I had worked with audio editing programs in the past.

I tried to elucidate the story with as little literal detail as possible, and tried to play on the raw emotions of my interviewee in order to create meaning. I achieved this by, first, logging my audio. I retained most natural pauses in the conversation and I also made sure that cuts and edits weren’t discernible by incorporating fades and splits. I did, however; remove some unwanted sounds such as vocalised pauses and stuttering.

Together with the raw audio, I added some ambient sound, inclusive of a baby crying, tyring not to add too much, so as not to take away from the impact of the story. I also added some background music, in the form of a melodic piano score, which allowed me to avoid absurd sentimentality, while also enhancing the emotion. The music runs throughout the piece, with a brief pause, which I maintain heightens the emotions within the audio, and allows for the affiliation of deeper meaning in the piece, in turn, increasing the emotional affect.

Some elements of the assessment task that I found challenging are as follows. The issue of relevance was something I struggled with. As my piece focuses on such a unique story, I had to work with the audio to make it as relatable as possible to an audience. I achieved this by adding an emotional score to the background, as music is universal in provoking thought. Loss in itself is also relatable, so focusing on something so common also helped with enhancing relevance to others. When it came to the editing process, the only issue I had was the levels of my audio, which I redeemed by increasing them.

Some aspects of the task that I found to be rewarding were the fact that I managed to gain a lot of great content from my interview, as it was a free flowing and open conversation. The duration limit seemed to work perfectly for the moment in time, of which, I was aiming to depict in the task.

Radio producer Alan Hall, as quoted in Lecture 4, states, ““No sound is innocent” (Hall 2010, p.98 in McHugh 2017). Through the processes of recording and editing, I found this to be nothing less than true. Each selection of audio used in my work was chosen with purpose and intent, and therefore, each individual sound and spoken word adds to the overall meaning.

There were a number of sources that assisted in the shaping of my Emotional History audio task. These are inclusive of a number of lectures delivered by Siobhan McHugh and a number of sources cited in her lectures, including Collete Kinsella’s ‘Running with Wolves’ and ‘Phoebe’s Fall’ Podcast, produced by The Age Newsroom. Both of which, inspired the tone and meaning behind my work. The incorporation of music in my work was inspired by McHugh’s lecture titled ‘Music and Mixing Audio Stories’.

It is my hope and intention that audiences may find a personal connection with my work and that it may inspire or encourage them to discuss their own losses.

References

Collete Kinsella’s “Running With Wolves”, cited in McHugh S (2017), Lecture, Week Two, “The Power of Sound: Thinking Through Your Ears”, 31 July 2017.

Hall, A (2010). “Cigarettes and Dance Steps” in Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound, ed. J. Biewen and A. Dilworth, Chapel Hill, UNC Press.

McHugh, S (2017). Lecture, Week four, “Using actuality in audio production”, 14 August 2017. .

McHugh, S (2017). Lecture, Week five, “Music and Mixing Audio Stories” 21 August 2017.

Rome, L. (2014). [online] B-Side Radio. Available at: http://bsideradio.org/editing-sound/ [Accessed 14 Aug. 2017].

The Age Newsroom’s “Phoebe’s Fall” Podcast, cited in McHugh, S (2017) Lecture, Week Three, “The Art and Craft of Editing” 7 August 2017.

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