“Show, don’t tell.” Every writing student has probably heard the adage a thousand times. But Les Sillars wanted to chisel down our understanding of this concept.
When he asked us what color was, the image of a rainbow shot through my head. No, color isn’t the brilliance of light reflecting off particles. In journalism, color is all about the use of specific detail that people can sense.
I am a huge fan of color. I love to show how the lady with crimson hair perched herself on the dusty park bench, feeding the cooing pigeons with seeds that sparkled like fairy dust. Of course, this sort of description works fine, but if it doesn’t add meaning to my story, it’s pointless. This stuck with me. Les told us there’s such a thing as too much color. Specific detail should always have a point.
If I’m interviewing the park bench pigeon feeder about her new furniture business, it might not be important to add all these details. However, if it’s about her care for small children in an orphanage, I might use them to allude to an important theme—such as her care for the smallest of God’s creatures.
When it was time to practice, Les told us to go out into the city and find some color. Entering a public library, I felt surprised by how much more I noticed. In less than a week, I felt confident about going anywhere to get a story. And yet, this week has shown me that I still lack…a lot. On the same evening, we drove to Sioux City to cover a political story. I felt excited. I’d never been to an event like this. But when I came back, I hardly knew how to begin my news piece. With steady work, I finally came up with a story. It wasn’t the best, but it was a story. As I grow as a writer, I am beginning to realize just how hard it is to be a journalist. But I also see how powerful it is to tell the world’s stories. It’s worth sweating over.
I’ve wanted to be on television news since the age of 12. Here at WJI in pursuit of that goal, I gained significant hands-on experience. Through this I have had to tackle learning curves. In all honesty, it is daunting to have dreamt of something for so long, only to wonder if the challenges can be overcome.
This is a roundabout way of explaining why Wednesday morning’s lessons were so important to me. What I took away from it most was something our professor Paul Butler taught me. He explained that as young journalists we should not be so hard on ourselves that we do not enjoy what we do. He advised us to believe in the vision of potential, but not to wait for perfection to find happiness.
In regards to the practical lessons I learned that morning, Butler taught us a series of voice exercises which thoroughly impressed me. To give a bit of gold for free, the most helpful practice was sticking out our tongues while we read a script. Try it and see how your articulators are warmed up and stretched! Along with this, we learned how emphasizing phrases and changing the pitch of our voice can tell a story.
The professors and professionals were willing to answer every question. These subjects ranged from hand placement on camera, to what to wear, and what not to wear. Learning these easy but not always known concepts, my fears of the unknown were fed peace. Adding to my confidence was feedback given to me by World journalist, Myrna Brown. After watching my on camera stand up she said I had the kind of smile that warms up a room. This simple compliment affirmed my capacity to do broadcast news and it reminded me why I do journalism.
Throughout my time here, I have also received plenty of constructive feedback too, However, to my usually overly sensitive self, these critiques have never felt personal. I enjoy our feedback sessions. I find myself laughing at the editor’s roasts. Ultimately in this past week, I have gained enough security that I can say I look forward to the challenges I’ll face in week two.
What’s a news huddle? Looking at the schedule-- that was my first question. At WJI, a “news huddle”
refers to our last session of the day where we break into smaller groups of 4 or 5. It’s a place for tired
teammates to relive the highs and lows of the day-- a time for prayer and encouragement. Afterwards, we
finish with one final editing session with a WORLD journalist.
The professionals at WORLD can be very direct in their praise-- and criticism— of our work. Yes, we
came here for this—but it sounded like a much better idea a few months out and a few states away. This
is why I can’t get Ben’s words out of my head. “Hold your work away from your heart,” he told us one
morning. Ben is a WORLD videographer-- quiet, unassuming-- confident. Being a recent WJI grad
himself, he understands what it’s like. His solution was simple. “Hold it to the side,” he said, motioning
to his right. In this posture, he explained, we’d be safe from the arrows of criticism.
Our news huddles orient us back towards the Almighty and remind us of the best news of all. We, the
Redeemed, are free. Free from, “What if they don’t like it?”—free from, “What will they think of me?”
God’s immeasurable love doesn’t grow on the day of our greatest achievement or diminish on the day of
our greatest failure. He’s outside of time, He knew what he was getting into, and his invitation is explicit-
- “Abide in my love.” It’s all there in John 15. So, together, let’s rest in God love—an ideal place to
Monday was the first full day of WJI with all professors on deck, and while it was extremely
tiring it was also incredibly rewarding. Early Monday afternoon I spent time interviewing
another WJI student on the main parts of her life, probing to find a defining moment in her life
that I could narrate in a short story. While the profile had a quick turnaround, beginning
interviews at 2:15 with our deadline at 4 pm, I found the work rewarding, especially when I
finished my article at 3:48. But I did not submit it until 4:19 because I requested feedback from
Professor Les Sillars, and he destroyed it. He showed me multiple ways to eliminate needless
words, make my verbs stronger, and put more emphasis into my sentences. This all helped me
put together a much stronger profile, something that I have previously had trouble doing. I am
incredibly thankful for his input and made notes of it all to remember it for the future.
In the Intro to Video Editing lab immediately following the profile assignment, I was
reintroduced to Adobe’s Premiere Pro for the second time in my life. I had some foundation with
video editing thanks to Davinci Resolve and iMovie, but I was still lost as I opened Premiere and
stared at the multiple screens and files. Thankfully, I was paired up with a fellow student who
had used the application before, and he spent most of the two hours we had messing around with
Premiere and showing me the ins and outs of the app. My previous experience with other Adobe
applications such as InDesign was also a huge help. I learned much more than I ever could have
with YouTube videos or just messing around with it in such a little time, which was a priority
due to the fast-paced nature of WJI.
I learned more than I thought would be possible to learn in such a short amount of time on
Monday afternoon. This, while giving me slight anxiety about the next two weeks, has shown me
that if I put my mind to work and enjoy what I am learning, I will succeed both here at WJI and
in my career.