The Umbrella Man – Op-Docs (Week 10 Blog Post)

In 2011, on the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination (November 22), The New York Times’ Errol Morris explored the story behind the one man seen standing under an open black umbrella at the scene of the incident. Josiah “Tink” Thompson, author of 6 Seconds In Dallas, provides a detailed summary of the story behind “The Umbrella Man” while also sharing his own insight on the matter.

Despite speculation that “The Umbrella Man” was the man who assassinated JFK, he later testified that he was protesting the appeasement policies of Joseph P. Kennedy, JFK’s father, when he was the ambassador to the court of St. James in 1938-1939. The umbrella was a reference to Neville Chamberlain’s umbrella.

Errol Morris’ short film primarily consists of interview footage of Josiah “Tink” Thompson supplemented with b-roll from events surrounding the assassination of JFK. Thompson is the main voice heard throughout the film and serves as the storyteller. A variety of shots are used to display Thompson during his interview: rule of thirds, close, medium, etc.

Morris did a great job of setting the mood for the film by including light and soothing background music that complements the calming tone of Thompson’s voice. Each part of the film flows together seamlessly, from beginning to end. The b-roll was very well placed and helped emphasize Thompson’s words. Morris’ film tells the story of “The Umbrella Man” in a unique and engaging fashion.


An Unfair Game: English Football’s Rising Ticket Prices – Op-Docs (Week 9 Blog Post)

This short film was directed, illustrated, and co-written by The New York Times’ Kris Hofmann (published on October 16, 2013). Hofmann depicts a prominent issue in English Football, where ticket prices have become so high that many of the fans can no longer attend the games. The film’s narrator, Liam Williams, indicates that the rise of TV coverage and the greediness the players’ agents are key to the unnecessary rise of ticket prices.

Hofmann’s video utilizes simple yet engaging visual aspects and quality narration to convey its message that the fans of English Football deserve lower ticket prices. The actor, Henri White, manipulates decks of cards that feature a variety of people related to English Football, such as players, fans and businessmen. As the narrator (Williams) makes his points and refers to certain subjects, White displays the corresponding card(s). This theme continues throughout the entire video.

I really enjoyed watching this video and gained a great deal of knowledge as well. As a visual learner, I believe the actor’s display of the cards being in sync with the narrator was very helpful in conveying the main points of the story. Each card served a unique purpose throughout the video and seemed to “come to life” when displayed by the actor because of the lighting and simple background. The editing and camera work was also very well done. Overall, this is a high-quality production.

Interesting new gadget: Google Glass (Week 8 Blog Post)


Google Glass

These high-tech specs take “seeing the world through a technological lens” to a whole new level. Although the product is currently limited to the developer crowd, Google’s computing eyewear has already created a significant buzz in the tech community. The Android-based eyewear known as Google Glass allows users to perform various tasks such as answering emails, taking pictures, and translating text hands-free. All of these actions are viewable on a micro-display in the corner of the interface. The product is currently listed at a steep price of $1,500. Despite the big price tag, interest remains high for Google Glass. 

I had been hearing rumors over the past few years about the possibility of eyewear with such technological capabilities, but I did not think a real product would surface this soon. If I had the necessary money, I would certainly purchase this product when it finally releases to the public. However, I do not have the capital flexibility to be spending $1,500 on a pair of high-tech glasses, and I assume that a majority of the American public can relate. Unless the product gets released at a more affordable price, Google Glass will probably be limited to the upper class and extreme tech enthusiasts.

Even though many of us will not be able to purchase the product, it’s very cool to look at. Check out this video that shows Google Glass in action. 

Link: What It Does (scroll to bottom of page for video)

The Photo Scavenger Hunt (Week 7 Blog Post)


1. A chef at the famous “Jim’s Steaks” on South Street grabs some cheese to create a Philadelphia classic, the cheesesteak. (Tuesday, October 13)


2a. Eye-level shot of Temple student Craig Smith on Liacouras walk. (Monday, October 14)


2b. High-angle shot of Craig Smith on Liacouras walk. (Monday, October 14)


2c. Low-angle shot of Craig Smith on Liacouras walk. (Monday, October 14)


3. A street performer entertaining a small crowd of interested locals and tourists on South Street. (Saturday, October 13)


4. A group of people laugh and smile as they watch a street performer on South Street. (Saturday, October 13)


5. Tourists and locals line-up to get their cheesesteak fix from the famous “Jim’s Steaks” on South Street. (Saturday, October 13)


6. Charles Townshend plays his violin inside the walls of City Hall. (Saturday, October 13)


7a. Nate Cabigting watches his friends before going back out on his skateboard in a park across the street from Morgan Hall. (Monday, October 14)


7b. Nikki Nutterfield (left) and Randa Atkins (right) checking their cell phones on Broad Street in Center City. (Monday, October 14)


7c. Eliana Smith (left) and Yana Churiy (right) at “Love Park” in Center City. (Monday, October 14)


8a. Sarah Foresasky sitting down and relaxing for a moment on Broad Street in Center City. Sarah lives in North Philadelphia on Fairmount and her favorite thing about living in Philadelphia is the bar scene. (Saturday, October 13)


8b. Molly Desjardin taking a rest alongside her friend Sarah (above) on Broad Street in Center City. Molly is from Rochester, NY, and her favorite thing to do in Philadelphia is visiting Eastern State Penitentiary for the haunted house. (Saturday, October 13)


9. City Hall in Center City at night. (Monday, October 14)


10. Broad Street in Center City during a sunset. (Monday, October 14)

These photos were taken with my iPhone 4S back camera (4.28 mm, f/2.4).


Pictures of the Day: Italy and Elsewhere by The New York Times (Week 6 Blog Post)

This particular collection from The New York Times includes 11 photos from nine different locations. The photographers used a variety of techniques to showcase their specific theme.

The first two photos were taken in Assisi, Italy at the scene of Pope Francis’ visit to emphasize the need to help the less fortunate. The first photo utilizes natural light coming from a window in a dark room to blend the nuns with the shadows while still showing the expressions on their faces clearly. The second photo is a classic POV (point of view) shot, capturing the natural perspective of the member of a crowd.

The third photo was taken in Sitra, Bahrain, where a man was greeted by his family after being freed from prison. This photo also uses a POV approach, capturing the perspective of a family member at this joyful reunion as celebration ensues.

The fourth and fifth photos were taken in Mombasa, Kenya, where riot ensued after the killing of an Islamic cleric. The fourth photo shows an armed police officer standing guard in front of a Salvation Army Church that was set on fire. This photo immediately makes me visualize violence because the police officer’s gun is in the forefront of the photo. It also makes me feel sorrow as smoke rises from a church in the background. The positioning of the photographer when he took this photo really made this shot effective. The fifth photo displays Kenyan residents attempting to distinguish a burning tire by throwing a bucket of water on it. There is a great deal of intensity in this shot as the photographer captures the action of the water being jettisoned toward the bright red-orange ball of fire. The photographer likely chose a medium shot rather than a close-up to capture the entirety of the situation.

The sixth photo was taken in Calais, France, where several Syrian refugees stand atop a building while protesting at a ferry terminal in hopes to win asylum in Britain. One of the men is holding back another from allegedly attempting to jump off the building as the other men make negative gestures and facial expressions toward a team of British border police who are not pictured. The photo is simple. Not much is going on in the photo, so the focus is immediately placed on the men and their expressions. The white background and white building are contrasted by the dark garments of the Syrian refugees.

The seventh photo was taken at a news conference about the government shutdown, fours days into the standoff. Four U.S. representatives stand an equal distance apart, with two American flags hanging in the background. The bottom of the photo shows only the upper chest and heads of the four men, putting a great deal of focus on their facial expressions. The concerned expressions of the men establish a clear tone for the photo. 

The eight and ninth photos were taken in Washington, D.C., where President Obama and VP Joe Biden went to a sandwich shop offering a 10 percent discount for furloughed government workers. In the eighth photo, Obama and Biden are being escorted by Secret Service agents to the sandwich shop. Obama and the Secret Service agents are the clear focus of the photo. My eyes were first drawn to the two agents on the left because they are the closest subjects in the photo. Naturally, my eyes led me from left to right until they fixed on Obama in the center. Biden’s head is visible but the rest of his body is not. The photographer’s angle and positioning made this shot effective. In the ninth photo, Obama and Biden are surrounded by the press as they order from the sandwich shop. My eyes are first drawn to the large microphones that are positioned closest to the photographer. The microphones establish the theme of the photo, which is that a regular occasion such as ordering from a sandwich shop is a highly anticipated event when the President is involved. 

The tenth photo was taken at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, where fans marveled at Rafael Nadal of Spain as he changed his shirt after defeating Fabio Fognini of Italy during the men’s quarterfinal match. Although Nadal may be the main subject of the photo, the fans are the clear focus of the shot, literally. Nadal’s bare back draped by a towel is out of focus and to the very right of the photo while the fans are in focus and take up the majority of the photo. The fans are all smiling and taking pictures with various devices, hoping to capture the moment of witnessing an international superstar. 

The eleventh and final photo was taken at a tattoo convention in Hong Kong, where a woman with an “especially spectacular” tattoo covering her entire back is on display for tattoo artists from around the world. The calm and soothing turquoise background sets the tone for the photo and allows the tattoo to be the clear focus of the photo. My eyes were immediately drawn to the tattoo on the woman, who is slightly off-center to the right. The passive color of the background allows the colors in the tattoo to pop. The quality of the tattoo is exceptional, almost resembling a painting.

Media Ethics (Week 5 Blog Post)

Media ethics is very important to me. The desire to provide accurate information while staying true to the code of ethics is one of the primary reasons that I chose to become a journalist. I feel that we, journalists, have a duty to provide the public with a trustworthy medium from which news is distributed. For example, no one can be at the scene of every crime or front row at every game , so it’s up to us to accurately portray the happenings of such events to keep the public informed. However, conducting ethical journalism is more than simply relaying accurate information. The way we go about obtaining the information is just as important. If I was to write a story about a football game while watching from my couch at home, it would be unethical to write the story as if I were actually in attendance of the game. Many journalists have been cited for this form, or similar forms of unethical journalism. 

On April 15, The Boston Globe announced that it will no longer use freelance writer Barbara Stewart who fabricated a story on a Canadian seal hunt. The hunt was delayed a day due to poor weather, yet Stewart reported that it had already happened. Stewart was not even at the site where the hunt was to take place but wrote the story as if she were.

Source: American Journalism Review 

Audio Story (Week 4 Blog Post)

What Does A Song That Costs $5 Sound Like? (link to audio story)

Story Description: NPR’s Laura Seidel profiles the work of Cookie Marenco, an energetic woman attempting to improve the quality of recorded music. Marenco once helped popularize the mp3, but now offers a much higher quality recording for a slightly higher price. She uses a format called DSD, which stands for Direct Stream Digital. Marenco uses this high quality recording format when she records musicians in her home studio in Belmont, California, just south of San Francisco. Her DSD music files became available for download about three years ago. Despite a steep price (5$ per song, 50$ per album), customers did not shy away. Marenco says, “we were shocked. Thousands of people came to download. What was interesting to me as a business owner is they never asked me to lower the price. They asked for more content.”

Story Analysis: I liked the how the reporter was the main voice of the story, yet Cookie Marenco still contributed a great deal to the story with her own voice. It was a nice blend of summary and analysis between the two voices. I also liked how they used the nat sound of live music being played in the background when the reporter began speaking about Marenco recording music with various artists in her studio. Overall, I thought the story flowed very nicely and was engaging throughout.