Creating with Camtasia

For the final project of this course, I had to learn about one more multimedia tool: Camtasia.  This program allows you to created videos by incorporating screenshots from your computer with audio.  Since I used Adobe Premiere Pro for my last project, Camtasia was not difficult to navigate. I was able to edit video and audio clips without too much trouble since I was familiar with the timeline and how to make transitions.

I decided to create a lesson plan that covered the ethics behind photo editing for journalism and how to make some common edits in Photoshop CC 2018 that my staff will use for the yearbook and online news site.

Title: Editing Photographs for Yearbook Journalism

Overview and Rationale:

Yearbook staff members may need to edit photos for the publication. Staff members should know how to make minor adjustments to correct white balance and exposure on images. They need to be aware of the ethical considerations before editing any image.  For alternative coverage or feature spreads, students will need to be able to remove backgrounds from images to isolate the subject. This lesson will clarify how to ethically edit images and complete the correct edits for a specific journalistic purpose.

Goals for Understanding

Essential Questions:

  • How much can a photograph be altered in journalism?
  • How can I tell if my image has correct white balance and exposure?
  • When is it acceptable to cut out the background of an image?
  • How can you make changes without destroying the image?
  • What is the correct way to save the image once edited?

Overviews and Timeline:

Activity 1 (One 48 minute class)

Discuss manipulating photos by using the JEA lesson “A Picture Never Lies”

  • Students will discuss what types of photo corrections/alterations do they think are “acceptable” when it comes to editing a photo?  These types of considerations are especially important when it comes to yearbooks, which often plan, choose, and adjust photos based on theme development and artistic presentation.  What responsibility do journalists have toward readers when making these decisions?
  • Ask student which of the following types of edit are acceptable:
    • editing out something distracting in a photo’s background OR foreground
    • flipping a photo
    • adjusting the brightness/contrast
    • adjusting the color
    • cropping the photo
    • filters, special effects, and color themes for a yearbook
  • The class view the JEA presentation “Manipulated Photos” and discuss how each image was altered and if there is an ethical problem with the edit. Then read the excerpts of some photo editing policy statements.
  • Students will then read Snorri Gunnarsson’s article, “Photojournalism on Steroids.” After reading the article the class will discuss their reactions to the article.  
  • Students will then discuss review the school publication’s policy on photo editing. Discuss what specific edits would be acceptable and which ones would be misleading.

Activity 2 (One 48-minute class)

  • Students will discuss what will be the most common photo edits they need to perform for the yearbook and online news production. We will review the importance of editing ethically.
  • Next, the class with review student images Student Work in Progress presentation and discuss what skills or tools could be used with each photo.
  • Students will log on to classroom computers or Chromebooks and review the Camtasia lesson on how to adjust white balance, exposure and cut out a background. Editing Tutorial
  • Students will begin the photo editing assessment. Students will be able to choose photos from a folder to edit.

Assessment (One 48-minute class)

Photo Editing Assessment

All photos in the folder will require some editing for white balance and exposure. Some photos will require cropping and some can have the background cut out. Students will make the copy of the images and then make corrections. Photos to edit

First, you will need to correct the white balance and exposure of the image. You can also crop the image if you feel it is needed. When you are done, you will save the save as a jpeg titled: lastname.wbe

Next, you will cut out the background of an image. When you are done you will save as a jpeg titled: lastname.cob

Students will be using a rubric for photo editing for self-evaluation and teacher evaluation. Students will be rating themselves from 1-5 and provide feedback about the decision made.


To view JEA curriculum, you must be a member of the JEA. I have provided the names of lessons and presentations so you can access them through  JEA Curriculum Photojournalism, links are provided in the lesson plan for presentations, handouts, and sample photos.



Snowstorms and visual storytelling don’t mix

When I first started to develop my video story, I was planning to interview student coaches in our Special Olympics powerlifting and track and field programs. I was able to attend one powerlifting practice the week before their area competition. I knew that I wanted to get some footage of the boys practicing and interacting with the coaches and each other. I stayed for their practice session and was happy to get decent footage, but since the lighting in the weight room wasn’t ideal, I knew I would need to get more.

My plan was to attend track practice and since there were more athletes I was going to improve on my camera work and create different types of shots.  Unfortunately, the next outdoor practice was moved inside because of a late snowfall.  The athletes would only be running around the gym and I knew that wasn’t going to work.

That was when I made the decision to drive down to the area powerlifting competition at Palatine High School. Normally it only takes about an hour to get there, but we had a morning snowstorm that made the drive a challenge. It took an extra half hour to reach my destination, but I was glad I made it.

Since my oldest son was on the powerlifting team for two years, I was familiar with the set up of the event. I had a plan for what types of shots I was looking for, and I was able to move around the event to record most of our team.  My goal was to get different shots of the athletes lifting, interacting with families, and receiving medals.

I was able to interview three of the athletes and two coaches during the day.  I made sure to leave some “dead air” before and after each interview so I had some room to work with when I was putting the clips together. It was difficult to find a quiet space so I used the hallway outside the gym for interviews. We ended up with some echo, but it was still clear. I hoped to use some shorter sound clips from the two new athletes, but it didn’t really help tell the story. Instead, I have images that help show their personalities.

When I got home from the event I started to organize my clips into four categories: interviews, practice, lifts, and medals.  This helped me decide how I wanted to tell the story.  I used the interviews to set the pace and then incorporated footage that helped illustrate what took place.

The editing process with Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 was a new experience for me. I watched a tutorial from our instructor and then used  Creating the actual timeline wasn’t too challenging, but it did take several attempts. When I started to add B-roll over the interviews, I had to re-edit most of the clips to fit.  To refine the video I used a lot of cross-dissolve transitions. I liked how they moved the story along. I also added still images to my title and credit slides.

The biggest takeaway from the experience is to encourage my students to take more video than they think they will need.  You need to look for different types of moments that can help build the story.  You should have a plan when you start shooting, but also look for the unexpected that can add to it. Some of my favorite shots of the day are when I was able to capture the boys sharing their excitement with their families.









Experimenting with Interactive Tools

For this assignment, I had to use some different interactive journalism tools to tell a story.  I first started off creating a map of some of the different places in the area students like to for outdoor recreation.

By learning about some different interactive tools,  my staff will have more options for storytelling. I created a location map, a poll and timeline.

To create my location map, I used storymap and the shortlist layout. I liked the fact that I could choose different layouts and map backgrounds. Another feature that I liked was that I could upload my own images for each spot, so I decided to take my camera around and take a photograph at each location. It was easy to include the images once I uploaded  them into my Google+ account. All I had to do was select the image and it uploaded to the correct location. I also made sure that when I put in my locations that I added the correct address for each location. Shortlist Story Map 

My staff can use Story Map when they are reporting on comparing locations or covering events in different locations. The staff likes to write about what summer concerts are scheduled in our area and I can see this being a helpful tool for the different venues and concert schedules.

To conduct a poll, I created one using Polldaddy. I decided to stick with the topic of my map and see what local parks people visit and what types of activities they participate in. I created questions using multiple choice, the likert scale and ranking. It will be interesting to see the results. Parks and Recreation Survey  It was relatively easy to create the survey and come up with questions. I did have to revise my likert question format. At first I was too detailed in the activity boxes. I realized I only needed to phrase the question at the beginning and then list the activities.  I also made sure that I had five options for the scale: extremely likely, more likely, likely, somewhat likely and not at all likely.  I think it is important to give some middle of the range options as well as the not at all option.  In my ranking question, I also added a note clarifying that the most visited park goes on top and the least visited park goes on the bottom.  I also included a free response question since there might be another park that they go to frequently that I did not include in the survey.

Polldaddy was helpful, but my staff already uses Google Forms and Survey Monkey for surveying students, so I don’t know how much we will use this tool.

To create a timeline I used Tiki-Toki. I decided to follow the history of student press rights in Illinois. My first step was to add each story as an event on the timeline. When I added each “story” to the timeline, I also put more detailed information in the info box and easily added links to relevant news stories.  To add the video of an interview with Mary Beth Tinker, I selected the media tab and added the link to the youtube video. I was hoping to add a picture of Cathy Kuhlmeier-Frey from the Hazelwood case, but I could not locate any images that would be considered fair use.  I didn’t want to violate any copyright laws.  Since there was a big time span between the Tinker case in 1969 and the passage of the law in 2016, I went into settings and selected equal spacing so all the events would be closer together on the page. History of Student Press Rights in Illinois

My staff can use this site when they want to simply a story when it covers an extended period of time or if there is an event that happens quickly and we want to slow down the progress of the event to better understand it.  Staff will also like the ease of adding media and links to each story.







Experienced adviser plays along with podcasting

When I first had to interview someone in the field of journalism, I turned to my good friend and veteran adviser, Carolyn Wagner.  We became friends through KEMPA (Kettle Moraine Press Association), our local scholastic press association. Carolyn teaches an introduction to journalism and advanced journalism course at Lake Zurich High School and advises Bear Facts Student Media. Bear Facts has a newspaper, online news site and a news magazine. I decided to interview Carolyn because I have always been impressed by how she empowers her students to become better writers and leaders.

We met at a public library and had our interview in a study room. I had shared some of my questions with Carolyn before the interview so she would be prepared,  but as the interview went along, I modified some of the questions to better fit our conversation.

I think the most difficult part of the interview process was starting it off.   Right after I asked my first question, Carolyn needed to ask her own about the interview format, so I had to edit our conversation out and ended up not having strong beginning to the interview. It was hard to find an good entry point into the interview.

I also found the editing process to be very tedious this time.  At first I didn’t zoom in to the sound waves and then I had to carefully analyze our recording to make appropriate cuts and edits.  I tried to add in cross fades to smooth out some of the cuts, but it wasn’t easy.  Looking back, I really needed to include more silence between questions and responses during the recording process.

Another challenge was some of the background noise I didn’t anticipate. Since we were at a library, I expected it to be quiet, but I didn’t think about the fact that the study room had a fan and that you could hear other doors opening and closing around us.  I did try to use the noise reduction effect, but I don’t know how much it was able to eliminate.

I still used the same mic as my first podcast which was a lavalier mic connected to my smartphone  and just placed it on the table between us. I think we have the same volume, but I would like to try a mic with a stand the next time.

After completing this project,  I am looking forward to teaching my staff about podcasting, but I want to have the right equipment.  I have looked into a podcasting kit on B&H Photo that I think will work well in my class.  I will be able to share my challenges with the students and be able to offer some practical advice.

NPR nerd practices podcasting

I have been a fan of public radio and podcasting for years, so learning how to create a podcast was something I looked forward to.  While I don’t have any broadcast experience, I listen to NPR every day and share stories with my students.

We have an online news site and I am hoping that by learning how to use Audacity, I can help my students create another type of content for our publications.  I have a few students who are interested in the idea of podcasting. We don’t have a lot of fancy audio equipment, but I think I was somewhat successful for the first time using my smartphone and a lavalier mic for mobile devices.

To record my podcast, I first used the app HI-Q MP3 recorder for Android. What I really liked about the app was that I was able to automatically upload the mp3 files to my Google Drive. It also has the option to upload your files to Dropbox.  Using the lav mic with my smartphone seemed to work well as long as I stayed still, since it would pick up any slight movement. If I had a mic on a stand I don’t think it would have picked up my breathing as much.  I did edit out some pauses in my script to eliminate some of the sounds. Overall, I think the sound quality was fine, but it was a little annoying to have to unplug the mic every time I wanted to hear the recording.

I used the recommended site Incompetech to find some music for the introduction and closing. I liked how you could select a “feel” for what you were looking for. I was easy to use and upload into Audacity for editing.

Audacity was pretty easy to use on my Windows 10 laptop. It was easy to see how each audio file could be layered with another file.  I was able to make simple edits to clips to delete “dead air” or background sounds.  It was also easy to apply the fade in and fade out effects to help each layer blend into the next one.  I had to create the project twice to get the results I wanted, but I never feel frustrated with the process. When I was done editing, I had some minor issues saving the files at first, but once I downloaded the recommended LAME program, it was easy to save and export into an mp3 file. I think the important thing to remember when saving your project is to highlight all the layers and cover the entire time your episode should last.

Before I try to record the interview for next week, I need to figure out the best way to record my subject. I want to use my smartphone and lav mic again, but two voices can make it a little more difficult. I will probably need to try something else.  I do have a Rode mic for our DSLR camera and that might do a better job of capturing two voices. I will have to do some research before then.


Amateur photographer learns from mistakes

Two years ago, I completed a Photojournalism course. I learned about composition and storytelling, but I never shot any images using manual settings. Instead, I used program mode or shutter priority mode. At the time I felt pretty confident in my skills, I created a comprehensive photography manual for my staff and included tips for shooting school events. Unfortunately, I didn’t continue taking pictures regularly,  so I ended up losing the skills I had developed.

For this unit, I had to reacquaint myself with my camera and return to the basics. When I first started shooting for this assignment, I made the mistake of turning off the autofocus on the actual lens. This meant that even if I had the right levels for lighting, my subject was never going to be in focus. I also got a little crazy with the dials on my camera.  I knew I needed to use the light meter as a guide for properly exposed images, but I was playing around with ISO, shutter speed, and aperture all at the same time.  I ended up with some crazy ISO levels and overexposed images. Once I was reminded to set my ISO first and leave it,  I started to have better results.

I started off taking pictures of my puppy playing in the snow.  Since it was so bright out, I had to lower my ISO settings. I was able to capture stopped action, but even with a monopod I couldn’t get blurred action and panned action shots.  After numerous attempts on different days, I finally switched to photographing traffic in town. These images were easier to capture.  I was able to keep the shutter speed at 1/30, use continuous shooting and make the necessary adjustments for movement to get blurred and panned action.

When I took photographs for shallow and wide depth of field, I chose the same subject. I used some ironwork in the snow, but I made sure to adjust where I was positioned for each shot. To achieve the shallow depth of field I moved in closer and use a larger aperture.  To get the wide depth of field, I moved back and used a smaller aperture to get all the elements in focus.

I also decided to try to take some photographs at my school.  Fluorescent lighting is the worst. I tried to shoot in the school gym during a fitness class, but it was really difficult to get the correct light.  One thing that should make this easier would be to practice setting custom white balances using a paint chip of 18% gray.  If the images still look a little yellow but are in focus and properly exposed, I can use Photoshop and adjust the levels.

When I took my photograph demonstrating leading lines, I had the challenge of using natural and artificial light together. While some parts of the image are darker, I think having the natural window light on my subject adds visual variety.

Overall, learning to read the light and set your ISO correctly is an important first step.  Then you will need to decide what is more important for the image you are trying to capture: shutter speed or aperture.  When photographing sports, the shutter speed will take priority since you are trying to capture some type of action or motion. When taking portraits, the depth of field will be more important so aperture should take priority.



How I became a jerd

When I started teaching 26 years ago, I did not see myself turning into a journalism nerd. I have always enjoyed connecting with my students and sharing a passion for writing and literature, but after Sept. 11, 2001, I became interested in media literacy. As the 24-hour news cycle took over, I noticed how different networks covered the same news stories in very different ways.

I started to notice a culture of fear and hatred was being promoted, and as an educator, I needed to help my students become savvy media consumers. I designed a Media Literacy course for juniors and seniors to analyze the media and its influence on our beliefs and behaviors.

I didn’t realize at the time how this interest would influence my decision to become a yearbook adviser and journalism teacher. During my first year as an adviser, I immediately sought out professional development and support from our local scholastic press association. After attending my first adviser seminar and being inspired by Carrie Faust, our keynote speaker, I knew I found a new passion.

My first editor-in-chief was going to be a journalism major in college and knew she wanted to change our publication from a scrapbook of the school year to a publication that told stories of the school year and had a clear “magazine” look. We worked together with our staff to create something different. We started to use alternative story formats, create a consistent look and follow the NSPA guidelines for a yearbook.

I needed to learn more about journalism, so I enrolled in the Kent State Masters in Journalism Education program. This program was exactly what I needed. Now, my students are creating publications they are proud of, using social media accounts for journalistic purposes and starting an online news site.

One of the goals of my journalism course is to teach the students how to interview, write, edit, design and take photographs. However, now that we are doing more than creating the yearbook, students also need to learn how to use social media, create podcasts, post videos, create slideshows and tell a story in multiple formats.

This Teaching Multimedia Journalism course will help me prepare my students for the future of journalism. Students need to know how to reach their audience and be able to tell a news story using different platforms and technology.

The world of journalism is changing, and I need to help my students see the possibilities for telling important stories in a variety of ways.