Video story: Turina James, a formerly homeless opioid user, tells her story how it informs her current advocacy work in the local movement for establishing supervised consumption spaces for drug addicts. “I don’t forget where I came from,” she said.
Overall I found this class to be a good exercise in not only technical skills (e.g. photography and videography) but also in self-reflection—specifically when it comes to implicit bias and perpetuating tropes and stereotypes in well-intentioned reporting. I really appreciated that we started the class by defining and discussing implicit bias; it’s a phenomenon that is not discussed enough across industries. Our class reading and discussion about implicit bias in hiring managers and how culture and appearance are implicit factors in the minds of hiring managers (in addition to competency) was spot-on as well. Other lessons that covered stereotyping through journalism and visual journalism that I benefited a lot from was the class speaker Peter DiCampo as well as our vigorous class discussion about the Vice photo essay from Appalachia. As a millennial liberal who was always lived in fairly liberal environments, I think it is important to check my implicit stereotypes about people on the opposite of the political and cultural spectrum. While liberals tend to be sensitive towards stereotyping minorities and LGBTQ communities, sometimes it seems like rural white communities and conservatives are still fair game.
On the technical side, I enjoyed our lesson where we worked with light and depth of field in the classroom and the hallway. It was good hands-on exercise that got us thinking and using our cameras while having the instructor present to answer questions and provide guidance. I also enjoyed the ‘find a subject on the street within an hour’ assignment, which forced us to engage with strangers and find a compelling photo or story under a tight deadline.
I struggled with getting creative in developing my assignments. I am a print and online journalist primarily, and usually only produce visual journalism to accompany written articles, so I am mentally geared towards creatively telling stories through visual journalism. The same goes for my creativity in terms of developing subjects for visual journalism projects (this is not connected to my written journalism skillset, however). I think this class was really good about emphasizing that everyone has a story and that compelling characters can be found in the most seemingly mundane and ordinary settings; one just has to look. I think I struggled with identifying subjects outside of a hard news lens.