Tag Archives: unity08

The Great Multimedia Shootout

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When I arrived at the UNITY conference fresh off a red-eye flight, my mind was focused on entering my first-ever Multimedia Shootout.

After all, I was confident in my abilities after having shot video, recorded audio and produced pieces for a few months, albeit for non-deadline stories.

I sat down in a room with a dozen other contestants, most under the age of 35. We looked at each other’s gear, trying to size up our rivals.

I think we were all just a bit too cocksure. Two days later, we’d be walking out a few feet shorter with hard-won lessons in the art of being a multimedia mojo. More on that later.

We were given a list of ethnic Chicago neighborhoods in which to go report and return with a finished multimedia piece within 48 hours.

There was only one catch: Nobody goes to a neighborhood of their own ethnicity. So I headed off to Bronzeville, a South Side neighborhood steeped in African-American history and popping with new condos, renovated brickstones and developers trying to turn it into the next ‘it’ spot. I spent several hours wandering around, getting the lay of the land and establishing a base for the next day’s shot.

I was glad that my mentee, University of Washington graduate William Kim, accompanied me on my urban exploration. Yes, I was there to share with him my thought process and tricks of the trade. But I was also glad because two is safer than one in a place you don’t know, especially when you’re carrying expensive digital equipment. We carried a digital camera, video kit, and audio recorder. For better or worse, I left my tripod at home because I just couldn’t carry any more on the plane.

We spent the entire day walking from place to place. I blissfully took lots of photographs, captured audio and sought a diversity of perspectives. The people we met were friendly and engaging. We also steered clear of certain characters. I don’t think I would have ever found myself in what some residents there called “the projects” if it hadn’t been for the Multimedia Shootout. This is true immersion. It’s what UNITY is all about.

What I failed to appreciate was just how long it would take to string all the material into a compelling narrative. I didn’t give myself enough time to write a good script. And so what I turned in on deadline Friday was a sad sliver of my vision for a three-minute masterpiece on the Bronzeville neighborhood. The content of the photos didn’t match the audio track. I thought it was awful. The judges did too; they eliminated me in the first round. Ouch.

I have new respect for my broadcast colleagues. This is hard work!

Now, with hindsight and plenty of time, I’ve taken that raw material and created a pretty good audio slideshow. I’m sharing it with my fellow AAJA Seattle members for two reasons:

  • Feedback: We learn by doing but also by listening to how others experience our work. So I hope you’ll post a constructive comment. What’s good? What’s weak? What else would you have liked to see or hear?
  • Copycats: I want to see more of our AAJA Seattle members doing their own multimedia storytelling. Your news organization may not have the bandwidth for it or the interest in it, but your AAJA chapter sure does. We’re here to support your professional development, starting with giving you a place to submit your latest effort and get feedback from peers.

And stay tuned: We’re planning to hold a multimedia workshop later this year, where you can learn the nuts and bolts of this work, when to use the tools and why multimedia skills can help you keep (or get) a job. And if you’re a student reading this who can juggle these tools with your eyes closed, strut your stuff on the multimedia section of our AAJA Seattle site!

Sanjay Bhatt is co-president of the AAJA Seattle chapter.

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Working on UNITY News made her more resilient, staffer says

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A Northwest native, Amy Phan graduated from Seattle University with a bachelors degree in journalism in June 2008, interned at seattletimes.com and currently works for GoodSide Studio Productions. She hopes her experience in a diverse number of media platforms will help her land a content creating journalism job. She was one of the 12 student journalists part of the UNITY News 2008 online team.

Amy Phan


There’s this idea out there called epistemological obstacles – mental and physical divisions in our way of being, believing and knowing so we can comprehend the world we live in a little bit better. Sometimes, though, certain situations shatter previous notions and present an entirely new paradigm to follow and understand.

For me, UNITY was an epistemological rupture. My previous perceptions changed. In a week’s time, UNITY News pushed me to physical and mental exhaustion. I worked harder, wrote more and had more responsibility than I’d ever been given. The passion of my editors, the talents of my fellow student reporters and the high standards of the newsroom guided me through it all.

At UNITY News, I got the opportunity to showcase my skills, work with generous mentors and learn a few things about myself, too. Being part of the online team truly challenged me to think outside of the box when it came to storytelling.

I feel stronger, tougher and more resilient because of UNITY. As I move forward in my career, I strive to look for the same kind of excitement, dedication and guidance that ran amok in the UNITY newsroom. The convention inspires me to search for a newsroom where editors are invested in my growth, reporters from all backgrounds participate during meetings and genuine laughter can be shared.

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Founders’ Scholarship winner learns to network at UNITY

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This year the AAJA Seattle chapter awarded the Founders’ Scholarship to University of Washington junior Anusha Roy, who is interested in broadcast journalism and currently the multimedia intern at seattletimes.com.

The Founders’ scholarship, which covers the cost of registration to the national AAJA convention, was established in 2000 to honor Frank Abe, Ron Chew, and Lori Matsukawa, who founded the AAJA Seattle chapter in 1985. The recipient must be a current AAJA Seattle chapter member and enrolled in an accredited college or university in Washington state.

Roy, a Seattle native, got interested in journalism when she started as a reporter for The HuskyCast, the University of Washington’s online webcast. She got hooked on broadcast journalism when she interned with New Delhi Television News in Kolkata, India, during the fall of 2007. She expects to graduate in the spring of 2010.

Anusha Roy


Networking, a very unnatural habit, finally came easily to me at UNITY. UNITY is a conference that brings the Hispanic, Asian, African American and Native American journalist associations together for a conference every four years. This year, thousands of minority journalists gathered in the windy city of Chicago. The first person I talked to at UNITY – he happened to be from the Washington Post – started up a casual chat in line waiting to register. After that, I had dinner with Lori Matsukawa from KING 5 News, made contacts at AP, CNN and Northwest Cable News, to name a few.

I incessantly presented myself, promoting my interests to any broadcast news organization that had an internship. This was once again made easy at the job fair where every news organization imaginable was there, crossing newspapers to TV. I seized the chance to have my resume tape critiqued by NBC, CNN and Belo Corporation. This rare privilege gave me insight into what these companies value in a reporter.

“Right now it is about survival in journalism, but at the same time people reassured me that there are ways to make a career in journalism; they just might not be traditional.”

Since I was not looking for jobs, my time at UNITY was relatively stress free, especially since I was not on the receiving end of “we have a hiring freeze but give us your resume to file” or “we are hiring internally for those positions.” The uncertain times of the media industry, particularly newspapers, refused to be hidden. But, as a group of journalists should, people were straight up with the facts. The associations are prepping their members to acknowledge the choppy times ahead. But the associations also see an opportunity for their members to adapt and survive these difficult times. The associations remain focused on their mission of increasing diversity in newsrooms to reflect the population of America, a goal that will lead to more accurate and fair news reporting.

In the momentum of adaption, there was an all-day multimedia workshop. There were sessions on web writing and editing video for the web. There were panels on foreign reporting in changing times. Right now, multimedia skills are key to being marketable in this industry for print and broadcast. For broadcast journalists, learning to be a one-man band is incredibly important, a trend being picked up by many TV news stations. To be able to film, edit footage, write scripts, complete voiceovers and stand ups are important, since there is no longer a strict divide in responsibilities according to job titles.

My most important discovery at UNITY was the courage and enthusiasm found at the conference. Right now it is about survival in journalism, but at the same time people reassured me that there are ways to make a career in journalism; they just might not be traditional.

Preserving worthy journalism is a top priority, and that is why UNITY was such a success. The thousands of minority journalists at the conference understood that they are key to increasing the quality of journalism and a changing industry will not stop them.

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UNITY After-party and After-after-party this Wednesday!

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WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.,
WHERE: BOKA bar, Hotel 1000, 1st Ave & Madison in downtown Seattle (cash bar)

We’ll be celebrating many achievements: AAJA Seattle’s Chapter of the Year award and the elections of local AAJA members Sharon Chan and Candace Heckman to National office (President and Treasurer!) and the election of Robert Hernandez to the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The Chapter of the Year award recognizes the work of many journalists in the Seattle area who raised $100,000 over four years to endow the Northwest Journalists of Color program.

Don’t forget there’s an After-after-party from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Bush Garden, 614 Maynard Ave S. in the Chinatown International District. Be prepared to sing your cheesiest tune.

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Empty desks at Chicago Sun-Times a sober reminder for student journalists

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Brenna Kajikawa was one of a half dozen Washington students nominated by the AAJA Seattle chapter for a seat at UNITY Student Campus, an intense four-day journalism bootcamp for college students beginning on July 20. After the bootcamp ended on July 23, students were allowed to attend the rest of UNITY at no cost.

Here’s a brief essay from Brenna on her UNITY Student Campus experience. If you want to see the multimedia the student teams produced, go to http://unitystudentcampus.vox.com/.


Brenna Kajikawa

I had no idea what to expect when I landed in Chicago’s Midway airport. But as soon as Unity started, I knew it was going to be an adventure.

The very first day of Student Campus was the most difficult, especially when we realized that it would be a 14-hour day. During a press conference at Columbia College in Chicago, the speakers – Delmarie Cobb, an African-American media consultant for Senator Hillary Clinton; Abdon Pallasch, a Chicago Sun-Times political reporter; and Steven Gray, a reporter for TIME Magazine – discussed issues from the role of minority voters to gay marriage. Right after the press conference ended, we went straight to work on our stories. Although we had most of the day to write, the most challenging part was getting started. We had covered so many issues that it was difficult trying to figure out which one to focus on. However, once I talked with some of the mentors and discussed where I wanted my story to go, everything started to flow together, and this new challenge wasn’t so terrifying.

Later we divided into three groups, each one visiting a Chicago media outlet: a public radio station, NBC 5 and the Chicago Sun-Times. As an aspiring print journalist, I naturally chose to go to the Chicago Sun-Times, where a few of the writers and editors talked to us about why they chose to be journalists and what it really takes to be a journalist today. Listening to these accomplished professionals was not only inspiring, but also made me realize how well rounded one has to be in order to make it as a journalist today, especially in the print industry. Limiting yourself to just being a reporter is not something that will get you far in this industry; you have to be willing to be flexible and write about a plethora of topics as well as being comfortable with different computer programs and taking pictures.

We then took a tour of the Sun-Times, and I could almost feel the tension, not from people bustling about, but from seeing so many empty desks due to layoffs. It was inspiring to envision myself working at the Sun-Times someday down the road, and yet it was also a reality check for me to actually see that the print industry is facing troubling times.

Lastly, one of the most helpful tips we received from our mentors was about résumés. A large part of getting into this industry is marketing yourself, and your résumé is essentially a first impression. One very helpful tip for me as someone who is bilingual is to put your résumé in both English and your second language. The more skills you have the better, especially in journalism, and knowing more than one language is a big asset in this industry. That said, it is also important not to exaggerate and to be honest. Ray Chávez, one of the mentors at Student Campus, told us a story of an applicant putting “fluent in Spanish” on his résumé when he actually wasn’t. Needless today, that applicant did not get the job. Knowing how to market yourself through your résumé was something that I, a college freshman, found very helpful, as well as my peers who are juniors and seniors in college.

The experience of Unity Student Campus is something that I will never forget, and is something that will be of great help for my future. Each day was packed with information and learning experiences that some people don’t have until later in life. There was a lot of hard work and no sleep involved, but the experience that I had and the people that I met will last a lifetime.

Brenna Kajikawa, a native of Seattle, is an entering journalism student at Saint Louis University, Madrid Campus. She hopes to land an internship at the BBC covering international affairs.

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