Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 3: NPR, Bloomberg, AARP, Tom Kennedy & an Indian Yellow Cab Driver

RIT student Lauren Petracca laughs as AndrewHarrer speaks with RIT professor William Snyder before giving a lecture. 

Andrew Harrer speaks about what it's like to work for Bloomberg News

In addition to Bloomberg news, our prior stop was at NPR to speak with Keith Jenkins and the rest of the photo and multimedia staff. Two RIT alumns were already working there. Emily Bogle of 2010 said, "Everyone's really excited about their work". 

They showed a really beautiful piece they did this year as one of their music field recordings"projects. It's pretty amazing and well worth your time. Far more skill involved in shooting and editing than a lot of music videos.

One thing that was emphasized is that it's important for us as visual journalists to have other people look at our work outside of our craft. A person removed from the shooting/editing process, without much knowledge of the story if any, should be able to tell what the subject's name was and what the story was about. 

They all suggested employees/prospective interns embody these characteristics:
- remain flexible
- be on time
- being able to think on one's feet
- improvisation 

"Photography is not a contest," Keith said. "It's about being a witness to your time...Don't be afraid of the future. Invent the future."

Our third stop was at AARP which, although was rather different from the previous visits, certainly gave the most accessible impression of a photo editor I've encountered in the form of Michael Wichita. He especially looks for "multigenerational stories". He and Jenna, the other editor, are very personable. Not necessarily less professional, but they seemed very transparent about the company and interested in how we as students could speak with them for feedback an maybe contribute. 

Lastly, came a lecture at American University by Tom Kennedy, former D.O.P. at National Geographic, entitled "Understanding the Changing Media Landscape. He began the lecture with one of my favourite, if not my most favourite, videos stories by Henrik Hansen. Please watch it. The sounds are gorgeous as is the shooting and personally, I'm a huge fan of the subject matter. I'd been aware of the video since it came out but it was rather reassuring and cool that a professional like Kennedy would showcase that piece. 

Kennedy showed a diagram like this: Vision> Skills>Incentives>Resources>Action Plan>Change. If any of those are missing, there's a whole graph, then bad things happen. He had a lot of good points which I typed up and aren't as interesting as what happened after I left.

After a bout of bad luck missing trains and taxis not arriving in a timely matter, I did in fact catch a cab and learned more in that twenty minutes about people than I had all day. My driver was an Indian man from Jakarta who moved here sixteen years ago. He says he can't get hired because he's Indian and no one will teach him any other trade so he can make $40-50,000 a year. "It's not asking a lot," he said. With two kids ages fourteen and twelve, he can't afford to not work. "If I could get another job I'd leave tomorrow." Unfortunately in this economy, a migrant Indian educated man with only taxi cab experience can't find a job anywhere else. He must pay for his car and all of the gear as well as the gas which doesn't leave much time for his family. Fourteen hour days. Car repairs. Rising gas prices and labor/parts rates to fix a car. It costs a great deal fiscally and mentally. He hopes and works so his children will be able to attend university, "I don't want them to be a cab driver like me, he explained. "I want something better." 

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