THE MARRIAGE OF PRODUCTIVITY AND SELF-AWARENESS IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC #J4450

Hey, blog.

I didn’t have class today, which was somewhat nice because I got to sleep later than I am used to! So instead of breaking down what I learned today, I am going to share some ~personal reflection~ with y’all.

Yes, I am a journalist. But I am also a college student. I was settled into my routine, my sense of independence, and my ability to know myself and structure my environment in a way where I would be the most productive. I had my friends close, and spending time with them was a much-needed laugh and mental break from my work-related responsibilities.

The coronavirus has changed, well, all of that. And I have had a lot of conversations with people about how all they complain about is not having time, and now we have SO MUCH time, but they have suddenly become less productive. They don’t understand it and also feel guilty about it.

I am also going through this. I know when it is time to buckle down and grind out a project or a story, and I don’t have a problem doing so, but I know I am not being as productive as I can at school. I think a part of that was finding my new routine at home, in my high school bedroom that usually means I am on break. But it is a routine that is different and not as ideal as my one at school.

I think people struggle with cutting themselves some slack. This is a major world event that we are going through, and frankly, it sucks for everyone. So many people have it worse than others and I feel fortunate that I am not dealing with this issue closer to home, but it does impact everyone in some way. And the mourning or sadness or sudden decrease in productivity you experience is valid and normal! So I am trying to set boundaries for myself and attempting to be more actively aware of how I am feeling and what I need to stay sane while getting things done. And that’s something that has really helped me so far!

I have my next GA shift tomorrow and am working on some other stories, so I am hoping I will have a good week with that. See y’all soon!

PRESSING ON#J4450

Hi, blog!

I am just popping in to write a quick something about a story I did the other day related to everyone’s favorite newsworthy topic, COVID-19.

There is an equestrian center in Columbia that was bringing two of their miniature ponies around to local neighborhoods, dressed in full unicorn attire. They were doing so to brighten people’s days during a scary time. According to their description, they were following social distancing practices by only going yard to yard and not letting anyone pet the horses.

But not everyone was in agreeance that this idea was beneficial for the community. Someone anonymously reported the business to the Boone County Health Department, and the pony program was promptly ordered to cease their in-person operations.

Many people were mad.  Some were grateful, saying it was what was best to slow the spread. But the core thing about this story that stood out to me is how they adapted their mission to spread cheer during this pandemic.

They decided to do virtual pony appointments for all families who wanted to participate. Out of all of the ways Zoom is being utilized right now, for business meetings, conference calls, and virtual happy hours, I think signing on to stare at a horse wearing a unicorn horn has got to be the best use of your computer’s webcam.

It brightened my spirits to see how this program was able to think on its feet and shift their methods to accommodate for COVID-19 conditions. I love stories like that!

That’s all for now. Be back soon!

 

HERE WE ARE#J4450

Hey blog.

I haven’t written in a while. Here’s why.

This time two weeks ago, I was still at Mizzou. I was still living with my friends, going about a somewhat normal life given the current circumstances. Then, my housing unit I lived in decided to close. I had 48 hours to get up and get out.

I am writing this from my house in Texas, where I will be living for the foreseeable future. I never would have thought I would be in this position right now, but so much is changing that at this point, anything could happen.

If I am being honest, I am struggling. I need to be social to keep my mental state relatively sane, so being cooped up in the house hundreds of miles away from my friends is effectively my worst nightmare. It feels weird doing college things in my high school bedroom, under my parent’s roof when I am used to a more independent lifestyle. I am mourning the loss of the rest of my junior year, which was going to be tough but at least we were in it together. I also know a lot of people that are being hit close to home by the disease, with a lot of friends and loved ones knowing someone who has COVID-19. That’s the worst part, knowing that someone I love is sad and not being able to do anything to comfort them.

I am also experiencing a sensation I have never felt before: wanting to turn off the news. I am a journalist, so I should want to be more up to date on COVID-19 than anyone, right? Well, wrong. And I feel disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I love journalism and its value now is more apparent than ever, but I am finding myself to be really overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness about our reality. And I’ve come to accept that is what makes me human, and knowing my limits of negative news consumption is something I have unfortunately been forced to test out recently.

I am adapting to the situation more and more every day, and there are a lot of silver linings. I can cook again (yay!), be with my family again, and spend more time walking around outside than usual. If staying home is the most difficult thing I am asked to do in my lifetime, I am lucky. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges, but I am adjusting accordingly.

I have my first remote GA shift tomorrow and am feeling much better mentally about it than this time last week. I am taking this all one day at a time, and choosing to see the bright spots in a world of uncertainty.

To end this vulnerable post, I’ll insert a quote from my all-time favorite book / movie series.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

– Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

ELABORATE ON THAT, WOULD YOU?#J4450

Hey blog.

Happy Sunday. I hope it was filled with good weather and relaxation, as I know mine was.

This post is related to politics and journalism in a way, but it starts with something a little closer to home. This weekend, I was with my friends having a casual evening. We baked a cake, watched a movie, typical stuff. And then we started talking about politics.

It’s election season, so our ads are dominated by political campaigns and the headlines are filled with updates on Democratic candidates, new presidential policies, and more. It’s hard to miss and even harder not to think about.

Most of my friends are pretty similar in political views. We tend to migrate to the middle, some more right-leaning, and some more left-leaning. But as we were having a very mature discussion on political issues (yay us), we started talking about something that got me thinking about journalism.

As college students, we are very wrapped up in our own worlds. We try to stay up to date and informed on political issues, but sometimes it’s hard for us to really know what’s going on and even harder to know what candidate to vote for. That’s a void I think journalism can fill with the right approach.

Vox, for example, does a great job of putting out explanatory pieces on current issues in the world, political and beyond. They’re a great resource for me when I want to know more about something. I think those kinds of pieces would be especially helpful during election season because it would keep people up to date and also let us make our own choices about candidates based on a full explanation of both viewpoints on an issue. And this doesn’t just go for college kids. A lot of people want to be informed but are so daunted by the task of hunting for information about these issues that they choose to sit election season out. If journalism wants to encourage political participation, we need to do a better job of explaining all the avenues.

Journalism is supposed to inform the public, and I think an increase of explanatory journalism would provide the public with quality coverage on the stuff that matters as opposed to the constant horserace coverage we see today. I personally think that horserace coverage has its time, but needs a sisterly companion of explanation by its side every once and a while.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more pieces like this, as I love them and think they’re a great resource for people who are trying to open their mind to different viewpoints.

A new week starts tomorrow. I’m hoping it’s a good one!

ASK ME ANYTHING #J4450

Hey, blog.

It’s Super Tuesday! I hope everyone made it out to a polling place today if it was your election day. Missouri’s primary isn’t until the 10th, so I have a ways to go. I still get notifications about Texas elections, even though I am ~technically~ no longer a resident. Every time I have to unsubscribe or change a setting it makes me die a little inside.

Speaking of elections, we talked about something somewhat upsetting in class today.

A few years ago, a Missourian reporter was at a local polling place asking people what brought them out to vote that day. That isn’t a dangerous assignment by any means at first glance, it’s in broad daylight in a public place and an event that’s important to the community.

But this reporter was verbally harassed, intimidated, and spat at during her time there. She left feeling shaken and sad, which I don’t blame her for. I am certain I would feel the same way.

The person that did this to her did so because they hated journalists. They don’t trust us and think we are up to no good, following a secret agenda with no regard for the real truth. And although that occasion is extreme, it reveals a troubling sentiment from the public about journalism.

A lot of people don’t really know how we work or what we do. They don’t know about the research, the interviewing, the follow-up questions, and beyond that we do when we cover something. And their suspicion of the process, especially when it relates to politics, leads to a lack of trust.

So how do we fix that? That’s what our professor asked us today. When it’s someone who is being aggressive towards you, the best strategy is usually to disengage. Safety is the number one priority when there is concern about a physical threat. But what about the people who are just suspicious?

What are you going to use this for? Don’t all journalists (insert false statement here)?

Actually, no.

If someone has questions or doubts about the journalism process and you feel like you can, stop and chat with them. Tell them about the process, about what you’re doing out there. Try and let them know you are just observing, and are willing to answer any questions they might have for you about the process of formulating a story.

If you create an open dialogue, you can hopefully clear up any confusion about the journalistic process and create a sense of understanding and trust between reporters and readers.

It’s safe to say I learned a lot in class today. In “other news”, I am also working on a new story that I am already excited about. It’s a complete 180 from my previous work with the Missourian, but I am looking forward to seeing where it goes!

Bye for now.

WHEN A WRITER’S VOICE SHINES THROUGH #J4450

Hey, blog!

I am coming off of my latest general assignment shift, which was yesterday. I did two stories about two very different things, a murder case and an after-school program at a local elementary school. Talk about opposite sides of the spectrum! But I had a really great day working with other reporters, so I am content with this shift under my belt.

In class today we talked about leads, everyone’s favorite thing that’s simultaneously the bane of their existence. Leads are so important because you want to tell the reader what’s happening, but also draw them into the story.

For me, leads are my favorite thing even though they challenge me. One of the things I am really proud of as a writer is my creativity, but I often feel like I need to stunt my “vocabulary urges” for the sake of hard news and AP style. I was overjoyed when we talked about using creativity and vibrant verbs in leads today because that’s what I want to do!

I want my personality to come off in my writing and I feel as though readers connect with these kinds of stories more. As my professor said, a really good lead has a clear sense of the writer’s voice shining through.

Going forward, I am always going to remind myself to use that creativity and read my lead a couple times over to evaluate if I could make it snappier.

Finishing off the week feeling good and excited to dive into my next story!

KEEPING HOPE ALIVE WITH SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM #J4450

Hi, blog.

I just wanted to pop by and write about something really awesome we discussed in class today.

Journalism has a reputation for being very negative. A lot of articles are really good at highlighting the problems plaguing the world – which is what we are supposed to do. But it creates a lot of apathy towards journalism and an active desire to avoid consuming news to reduce those negative feelings.

The topic we discussed today was about how we combat this. Bad things happen, and those negative topics need to be addressed. There is no way around that and it is one of the main components of journalism to be a “watchdog”, calling these things out when we see them.

But, with solutions journalism, it is the way these stories are framed that makes the difference.

If we tell people this is the issue, and look at all the ways people are trying to fix it, that re-enlists some hope back into the flow of news. It’s something that really made me think about news in a whole new way. If we do it right, we can empower the public to get involved and contemplate how they can get active in helping with the issues we cover. We can remind them their voice matters.

Just a cool concept I wanted to touch on. I am definitely going to be conscious of this going forward and try and turn my “the world is ending” pieces into “this bad thing is happening but these are ways to help” pieces.

A CHANGE OF PACE / COMING TO THE END #J4450

Hi blog.

I have a little two-for-one post in store for y’all today.

The first topic I want to address is this was one of my off weeks as far as General Assignment shifts. I was in the newsroom a lot less because I am just so slammed with other coursework. But of course, I still was working on stories for Boomtown this week, just in different settings.

I appreciate having these weeks where I don’t work GA shifts because it gives me a mental break, which is really important in my life. I am a very intentional person when it comes to my mental state and my work to rest ratio. I am very productive for the most part, but it is also important for me to slow down sometimes to give my mind and my body the time it needs to refresh and recover.

I am feeling very replenished and ready to go into this week and work again!

The second topic I want to address is that I am finally approaching the end of my time working on Boomtown. This has been such a great experience for me to connect to people outside of my college bubble, and I am once again left in great appreciation of the people in this town.

I know I am young and still learning and am so grateful that these people have taken the time to sit down and talk to me about things they care about. I feel like this city has a real working relationship with the press, and I love that the Missourian can serve this community in that way.

I can’t wait for Boomtown to come out and to finally reveal my experiences writing all of my stories.

Have a wonderful week and I’ll check back in shortly!

ONE WEEK DOWN #J4450

Hello again!

The first week of school is officially over. We ended in the chilliest way possible, with our first snow day. But just because school was canceled, that didn’t mean that story brainstorming was.

This week I worked closely with my editor, Jeanne Abbott, on some story ideas for Boomtown. Boomtown is a magazine-style special section of the Missourian that focuses on how to live your best life over 50 in Columbia, and I am in charge of the public service section. This includes things like volunteering and other activities that lend a helping hand to the community.

Over half of my ideas were slashed right off of the bat, but they needed to go. Sometimes it’s hard not to go to the cliches or the first thoughts that pop in your head about whatever topic you’re working on. But that’s a part of the journalism process, refining your ideas from start to finish.

I’m dealing with some personal stuff this week as well, and have learned that work and life balance is important at all times of the semester. I have been working hard on my story topics, but have also been able to be communicative with my professors and editors about a sick family member who is close to the end of their life. I am thankful for my editors and professor being so understanding and willing to work with me during this uncertain and shaky time.

I just wrapped up contacting some sources for my story ideas and got a couple of great responses. When a story starts to take shape and you connect with a potential subject—that’s the stuff right there. It’s like drinking a large coffee with eight shots of espresso in it, it really gets my brain going. I find myself constantly saying thank you to the wonderful people of Columbia for being so responsive (even on a weekend).

I’m really excited to see where these stories go and look forward to reporting back with an update later this week!

Until we meet again!

CARRYING ON #J4450

Good evening internet.

The first of my final days of junior year is almost over. I polished off the evening with a hot meal enjoyed with friends and have now settled into my desk for a bit of homework. Yes, mom, they do give us homework on the first day.

One of the classes I am taking this semester is what’s known as J4450 – a.k.a. news reporting for the Columbia Missourian. Yes, I am back, and it is so weird being on the other side. But it’s also going to be fun, especially being on the community beat. It’s almost more of a magazine staff writer position, but more on that and all my future stories (eek) later.

A part of this class is to blog regularly about our experiences writing stories, thoughtful reflections on journalism, and more. So for the next sixteen weeks, watch out for those. They won’t be horribly long, I swear!

My first assignment is to give the world a little introduction, so if you don’t know me yet, then here’s a bit about myself and what I am doing for this course!

My name is Liz Goodwin and I am a junior photojournalism major from Dallas, Texas. This spring I will be a community reporter for the Columbia Missourian, which is located on Mizzou’s campus. Go tigers!

I have loved all things related to photography and writing since I was in elementary school . I still credit my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. McKay, for being my original mentor. She encouraged me to go for it, and I don’t think I could have ignored her inspiration even if I wanted to.

Some personal passions of mine are cooking, the outdoors, and anything related to storytelling. I love watching movies, reading books and articles, and listening to podcasts. I’d probably want to host my own podcast if I didn’t loathe the sound of my own voice so much. Why is it that listening to it on a recording can sound so different from what I hear in real life? Is that an unbreakable curse that 99% of the population faces?

So, I choose to tell stories in a different way: through words and photographs. I am excited to see where this semester takes me and glad to be back in the newsroom.

Bye for now!

 

2020 VISION (SORRY, HAD TO)

Sup blogosphere.

It’s 2020. It’s a new year, a new decade, and a fresh start for many of us. Personally, I am not looking for a blank slate, but to build on the life I built for myself in 2019.

I did a lot of cool things and experienced a ton of personal growth last year. I traveled across the country with the people I care about most, published my first big story at the Missourian while working as a staff photographer, and worked my butt off at an internship at D Magazine. As much fun (with some tears shed) that I had in my professional and personal life, I also prioritized myself and honoring my emotional state. I voiced my opinion more than ever, spoke up when I wanted something, and let myself feel things in their entirety, even the not so fun things. It made me a better-rounded person who was more capable of being open and caring for others.

Looking forward to this new year, I want to dive deeper into the trends I set in 2019. I don’t really believe in new year’s resolutions, but I do have a word that pretty much sums up my “2020 vision” (there it is baby!): nourish.

In order to grow, you need to nourish yourself. I plan on nourishing my new found love for different mediums, my desire for new experiences with people I love, and my body.

I’m aiming to transition to a plant-based diet (plant BASED people – ain’t no way a Texan is giving up queso and BBQ permanently) and haven’t eaten meat in a WHOPPING three days! Huge! I like the idea of a plant-based diet because it gives me the freedom to eat meat and dairy sometimes, just less. There’s no way I could go vegan, but I am interested in the health benefits of cutting down on animal product consumption and if that works for my body. I am even hoping to add a food photography section to my website because I LOVE food, and those who know me really know that. It deserves a presence here once I move into my house and have access to a kitchen!

I want to try new things and honor my desires, even if I am not good at them at first. My main thing with that is video. I discovered how much I liked it on spring break last year (that video is posted a few blog entries down) and I want to pursue it as a hobby. I often forget how much fun it is to be creative with my camera (and with my writing), and I don’t want to forget that. That’s what makes this whole thing fun, being able to do things on both sides.

I kind of started this whole “honoring my desires” trend off at the end of 2019 by chopping five inches off of my hair.

chippity chop

I have always wanted to go short but was too scared to do it. I guess hair and change don’t go together naturally for me. But I did it! And I have NO REGRETS at all. I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. 

And that’s the kind of energy I want in 2020! Going for it, full-sending it as the kids say. Because why not?