My Ford Foundation Grant: Lessons Learned – 2

Lesson 2. Journalism in order to develop at Hunter needs to eschew filmmaking techniques and aesthetics and develop its own methodology.

For example, film – in the manner that it is taught at Hunter – requires equipment more than software to tell a story, fiction or nonfiction, and the equipment is often bulky. Its students are not formally required to learn research and interviewing skills. Hunter’s film imperative, understandably, was reflected in the equipment part of the Ford project proposal as well as a lot of the thinking regarding other areas of the proposal because this writer consulted with the department’s film technicians who were suppose to be savvy about moving image production, that is, film and nonfiction documentaries.

Yet, the film program doesn’t have much regard for software, such as “Soundslides – Software for Storytellers.” This software platform stitches still images and words together to tell a story. It can be a powerful journalistic tool. There are other platforms equally sophisticated. And the practice is noticeable on the Web, especially with the New York Times.

And though it has classes for audio production, film has had no plans to consider podcasts, which can be disseminated in video and audio formats. My department, like a lot of undergraduate departments, lags in the burgeoning technological developments taking place. Also, an undergraduate film crew, say four or more (such as audio and video personnel plus a director and assistant) are not really needed for most video news stories or even mini video news documentaries produced by undergraduates for the Internet. One student with decent technical skills for video pictures and editing as well as with a good understanding of narrative story telling can produce excellent “broadcast” news material for the Internet.


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