Monthly Archives: August 2013

Witnesses to history

Witnesses to history

It’s been 50 years since the March on Washington. That’s nearly 8 years since I learned the story myself, out of a history textbook. The New York Times published a multimedia piece in honor of the anniversary and they did a fabulous job in an area that so commonly rubs historians the wrong way – the story telling.

 

We talk about objectivity. In terms of reporting. The questions we ask. The sources we highlight. But there is also objectivity in the way the story is told, how we, as reporters, compile all of the information together and what storyboard we lay. And in that sense, we try for objectivity, but strain to do so.

 

History therefore, written by man, may not be all that objective.

 

Our textbooks are full of selective memories based off of accounts and judgements of persons who may not have been first-hand witnesses to the events we document. They’re often told from the “average American.” The middle-class man with the family; the one who’s fluent in English but reminisces about where he came from. The wording  is risky. And it is too often that stories, culture and development is lost along the way.

 

That all changes with this piece.

 

The stories of strangers. Ordinary people. The world, and specifically the March on Washington through their eyes.

 

We get to know the story-tellers. The inclusion of their name and hometown make them appear all the more real, all the more like us and all the more relatable. There are photographs of artifacts and family. And they are placed appropriately so that they appear when we start to wonder what our characters/setting looks like.

 

Each blog is organized like its own beat, with its own headline. They are simplistic, but strong, and diction is chosen wisely, not just to fill space.

 

There is variety among bloggers. Whether its by age, gender or hometown. It gives a wide perspective, something a history book leaves out.

 

The project is also organized, with a categorized panel on its side to quickly access and scan through stories. Being visually pleasing aids to the high quality content found inside each post. It draws attention and captivates it.

 

History is retold and analyzed, but it has not been re-written to include personal accounts of people, whose stories are normally swept under generalizations that classify time periods, and historic movements, under one bolded heading.

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From Instagram to Photoshop

I love Photoshop. As the Photo Editor of my high school paper I was able to mess around with the applications, though we were all about authenticity so we avoided any and all editing tools besides cropping. I come from a family of photographers. My aunt and uncle do it for a living and my cousins’ Facebook albums are full of high quality photographs – candids that look all too posed. (Check them out @ http://www.somlotalent.com/somlotalent.php)

 

A long-time program for touch-ups and exposure fixes, Photoshop seems to have fallen out of place for younger, less experienced photographers. Though the quality of the program is up-to-date, its flexibility in terms of mobility have diminished. Many photographers’ curiosity starts a lot younger than college, more about the time we get our first cellphones. We’re the kids that have a camera around our necks during school dances, random adventures and family vacations. For some, a camera is an easy birthday gift, something we learn to use and love ourselves. For myself, it was another opportunity for expression, a field separate from my writing, and it wasn’t long after I got my first camera that I was given my first cellphone, and at the time, the two didn’t have much in common.

 

Today – things are different.

 

If you glance at my call log, then switch back to the number of photos in my iPhone album, the numbers don’t compare. I won’t hesitate to say the reason … Instagram.

 

Its a program that has turned things around. People who used to simply smile in front of the lens are now behind the camera, documenting their own stories and, with captions, telling them their own way. It has features such as brightness, framing, cropping, focusing and black and white. The only major Photoshop tool this iPhone app seems to be lacking is red-eye, but let’s face it, iPhones have the capability to turn a camera flash on and off, even the strength to let you set things on auto, having the camera do the work for you. So, it really makes no difference.

 

I’m not saying that Photoshop isn’t important, or that its not worthy of the costly price tag attached to it, but its got some competition. Instagram also provides a forum to share photographs, in an essence, it has become a media outlet itself, as one can follow news sources and members of their community. Though I agree there is such a thing as oversharing in this fashion, I would argue that there is no reason a journalist shouldn’t make one.

 

It will, at least, prepare you for more sophisticated programs, such as Photoshop Elements.

 

From Instagram to Photoshop, let the inspiration be key to an easy transition.

– From,

An unidentified source.

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A look at the inspiration

Featuring Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

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