Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rhode Island to Richmond

Today on our last hours at Brown we had breakfast and had a presentation from alumni who work doing documentaries, the presentation was for us to get another idea on how we can get our project done. They told us about the importance of the media and how documentaries are different from the everday news. I was glad to see another way we can get our projects done although I am not really interested in media, although my project does have to do with reaching a broad audience.

We also had a wrap-up of the whole weekend and had some time to say our goodbyes to our new friends.

I keep talking about my project and haven't gone into details about with everyone who reads this blog, I apologize for this. My capstone project is to compile stories from undocumented immigrants and to put them in my school's SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) classrooms. I want to do this because there are really bright students in my school who are undocumented, but the media portrays all undocumented people as criminals and bad people. I want to show a different perspective from what the media shows.

I did not know how to get started with my project, I felt stuck, but this symposium helped me defined some issues and showed me how to attack them. I feel like everyone who was there was eager to use their newly learned skills.

Jenn Maden's persuasive communication class was really helpful and I will really take lots with me from this symposium. I wish everyone at my school could be exposed to classes like Ms. Maden's, where we are taught skills that are very valuable and important, one prime example of a great orator is Barack Obama.

I am also really inspired by Robin Rose, she was able to achieve her project, the Leadership Institute. She is a great inspiration because she works so hard and believes in us the young people.

I want to thank everyone who gave us the opportunity to come back to Brown.

p.s. The picture above was taken with my phone, I love fall and how all the leaves change color.


dongosney said...

Adriana⎯How wonderful to read of your experiences back east. And thank you so much for the photo⎯you made my day. Just curious, though, about what might have been wrong with your camera phone. I mean, the leaves were all different colors. I’ve never seen that before. Where I come from they’re either green or they’re brown. I thought about fixing your photo in Photoshop but figured that would be wrong.

I like the concept of your capstone project. Everywhere we turn there are untold stories and unless we document them, they can easily be lost forever. I hope some effort is made, though, to transcribe these stories in both the native language of the storyteller and also in English so the rest of us can share them. Their stories transcend a single language but archiving them in only one language isn’t much different than simply failing to archive them. There’s a whole world that might be interested in hearing those stories.

I’m disappointed, Adriana, in your perspective of the media. I’ve been a member of the media for 32 years as a writer, photographer and even as a publisher and I can tell you that just as with any other craft, there’s the good and then there’s the bad.

When we think of the media we typically think of TV news or possibly newspapers and we often overlook the value of movies, documentaries, magazines and even radio.

Most of what we see these days on the TV and in a lot of our newspapers is worthless reporting where they go after the sensational instead of the news. Compare the New York Times with the West County Times and you’ll see an excellent example of how varied the reporting can be. With TV news, if it can’t be covered in a 20 second sound bite, they don’t want to cover it. And even then it has to be the kind of sensationalist story that will get you to switch the station to watch it⎯even if they’ve stretched the truth to get you there.

National Public Radio (NPR) and the KQED type of TV stations regularly take a different approach to reporting the news wherein they think that quality should supersede quantity. They’ll spend the time to investigate a story and cover it properly and in such a way that keeps the viewers attention for longer than the nominal 20 seconds.

Take a look at some of the Ken Burns documentaries where he was able to take regular news type stories from history and rivet tens of millions of viewers.

The media can be a great tool, Adriana, if used properly. Sadly, most of our news ignores the regular or even good sides of life and tries to focus on the dramatic and bad. Why do you suppose that is? When you find out how our media magnates got their heads all twisted, please let me know so I can try to wrap my own mind around their explanations.

You need to learn to embrace the media, Adriana. Work with it to help tell your story and influence your community. Work with your local newspaper reporters to feed them stories and information so they can tell an informed story of what’s happening in your community. Write letters to the editor so you can use some of those persuasive communicative skills you learned this weekend and motivate your peers.

Here’s your opportunity see a wrong and try to right it. Reach down and use those skills you’ve learned while at Brown to make a difference right here in your own community. Look where Barack Obama is right now and look at where he was just 20 years ago. He was working his community as an organizer and now he’s got a new job as the head organizer for the free world.

Where will you be in twenty years, Adriana? Where do you want to be?


Charles Ramsey said...

Thanks Adriana for sharing your feelngs. I appreciate your sincerity and willingness to provide us with insight into what you learned at the Conference.

Your photo tells a thousand words. A beautiful picture that provides us a vivid view of why people love the East Coast and why they love Brown University.

Take care.

Charles T. Ramsey