It is the last day of the program, and I cannot believe this is the final blog post I will write. This week has been amazing. I met 18 incredible teenagers who not only share my interest in journalism but also are just incredibly fun, and I will miss them all greatly.
Besides having fun with my fellow campers, this week has been jam-packed with truly unique experiences. I got to participate press conference with Stony Brook’s Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron, learned photography from the Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Williams, interviewed cancer survivors and baseball fans, learned how a news broadcast is made and got to see an actual newsroom at Newsday.
The thing I most valued about this program was it made me go outside my comfort zone. I had to interview complete strangers, which was at first absolute terrifying because working for my school newspaper Tarmac, I usually knew my interview subjects. But after several interviews, I began to relax and really enjoyed conducting the interviews. Besides the interviewing, I also had to take and edit stills and video, which I had never had to do for my school program. But, doing all these things gave me valuable experience that I hope to use back at the Tarmac.
In closing, I would like to thank to all the professors for all the hard work they did and my fellow Greene Team members for being the funny, creative, and awesome. You guys made the week fly by and I hope to see you all again.
The lectures are over, the articles posted, and the week-long Greene program will officially close in less than 24 hours.
And wow, what a week it’s been.
As is said in the bio Reid wrote of me, journalism is not my primary passion – the reading and writing I’ve always loved has been fiction and flowery language. The creative writing class in my high school was linked to a journalism one, but, even then, my interest in journalism was rather secondary.
This week, however—holding a microphone and interviewing randoms in “man on the street” segments, researching and writing, asking questions in a press conference setting, working the tech board in a television studio—has been enlightening.
It’s hard, even, to pick highlights to reflect on here. From all the special guests and unique opportunities of the week, so many stand out. (And, additionally, writing this blog has really been a blast).
Reporting at the Ducks game and in all formats throughout the week (at the Emergency Operations Center, the Shawn Heilbron press conference, last night’s “man on the street” segments) has been my favorite. It’s not so much of a stretch from what I already love—as president of Massapequa’s Drama Club, I’m no stranger to improv, which is what the interviews mostly came to be. Still, holding the mic and asking questions was a rush each time.
SBU! (Photo Credit: Courtney Taylor~)
The aspects of journalism I had been unfamiliar with also ended up being intriguing and enjoyable—photography and film, for example—and the teachers of those lectures really made them easy to understand (professor Ricioppo for film and John Williams for photography).
The week has been jam-packed with special guests from the field: Bob Herzog, who brought sports journalism to life; Matt Clark, the investigative journalist who truly piqued my interest (I’ve always wanted to write, of course, but after seeing the movie “Agent Cody Banks” when I was a kid, I became crazy about the idea of being a spy—this seems to be the perfect blend of the two); Sandra Peddie, another investigative reporter, busting crimes and getting to the bottom of things (while also being an engaging speaker and intriguing professional).
Speaking to people pursuing journalism in the real world has been enlightening, and hearing their stories furthered my interest in journalism from secondary to, perhaps, a bit higher.
While the special guests of the week were exciting and interesting for the bits they were here, the professionals I was with for the entirety of the week—Professor Ahmad, Professor Duffy and Professor Dowdy—were incredibly informative and interesting in their own rights, teaching us the business that they themselves are passionate about.
Sitting down this morning to edit my piece with professor Duffy and professor Dowdy was an extremely valuable journalistic experience, as their classes on writing have been throughout the week.
And, of course, as member of Team Wasumsauce, I’ve really enjoyed professor Ahmad’s courses on blogging (three blog posts in one day, so, clearly) and the photo side of journalism, as well as his guidance on our group’s stories. Outside of his intriguing courses, I’ve had a great time as a member of his team: working at the Ducks game, going on an impromptu tour of campus after we all missed the bus and hearing about his experiences in the field.
Outside of class altogether, I’ve met a ton of interesting, intelligent and all-around cool people in this program, and being on a real college campus has been an eye-opening experience as well.
So, with the week coming to its finale (finishing off with a movie and tomorrow’s closing ceremonies), I’d be amiss if I left out my thoughts on journalism altogether after this week.
I don’t know where to begin—it’s exciting, it’s thought-provoking, and I know now that I would find my life lacking without pursuing journalism in some avenue—a minor, a double major, who knows?
Nevertheless, the Greene Program has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I learned to use a camera from a Pulitzer prize winner on the first day, amongst all the other extraordinary opportunities the program has given me—that certainly doesn’t happen every day!
I come away from the program with skill, interest and a heightened love for written word—the Greene legacy, fulfilled.
Two blog posts in one day – and what a day it’s been!
Today was our last photography session with John Williams and, despite yesterday’s epic photo fail, I was pictured in and took pictures that were of semi-decent quality. Progress!
Afterwards, it was off to a film lesson that led into something of a frenzy – all of a sudden, it was time for my team to pursue the interview for our big story – subject not researched, questions unprepared, and bus across campus missed. Oops.
On our walk to the police station, Professor Ahmad filled us in on the story: in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Stony Brook created a high-tech Emergency Operations Center – definitely interesting, and not insanely stressful to cover, as I’d feared when we suddenly left the newsroom.
So, again, another interesting journalistic experience, this time with camera equipment and the on-camera interview process (another surprise was that an inspector at the police station was from Massapequa and knew my aunt; it’s a small world after all!) – with lots of useful video and pictures gathered for our piece.
And, again, we missed the bus.
While it was, again, a long and hot walk, it actually ended up being a really pleasant portion of the day. The glimpses of campus along the way were quite pretty, far exceeding what I’d expected from a college campus. Additionally, Professor Ahmad had some really interesting stories from the field to tell along the way (although his opinion of steak is waaaay wrong~).
My team arrived back to the Greene corner of campus just in time for dinner. In sweaty desperation and uncertainty on my choice of meal, the obvious decision was to stand in front of the open freezer for a good few chilly minutes, pretending to deliberate my dinner from the selection of ice cream – a ridiculous idea, until it came to me that it was actually perfect. Thus, that chunk of the day was capped off with cotton candy ice cream (sorry, Mom).
Next, it was time for film editing and, lastly, blogging. So, here we are.
Tomorrow will be packed with field trips, crazy cool journalistic experience, and, of course, fun (and selfies).
It is Tuesday, the second official day of camp. The first day was a tight can full of fun surprises. To pick up where I left off yesterday, the interview with Shawn Heilbron was great; I got to ask him about what intentions he has to improve women’s sports, as it had been demonstrated by various sources that he wants to focus on football and basketball. He answered fluently, and he couldn’t stop smiling – he has a lot in store but I believe that information will be released in a story later on the week. He said that working job after job he hadn’t really found that one dream one up until he was at UCLA, where he realized he wanted to be an Athletics Director, and now he is one. I wanted to ask what is he aiming for now, but didn’t get to do so.
After the press conference, we got to learn photography with John Williams, which was fun because I took photography in the fall semester of my junior year and didn’t remember everything vividly. We learned a lot more about techniques from his Pulitzer Prize winning perspective.
After dinner we learned about broadcasting with Professor Ricioppo, specifically we practiced getting good B-roll shots and he told us about his career. He taught us his “go to” trick of playing with the foreground and background while focusing on something. I’m excited to use all these new things we are learning.
It was a long day but not in the bad way. After the broadcasting lesson/lecture/seminar/practice we went back to the residence halls where I met Shakir and Reggie, two boys in a pre-med camp that assured Jason and I that they will have our backs in a couple years if we come across any medical issues. Then I headed down to the lounge where I met another boy, Matt, who is at a Math camp and I started conversing with him alongside Madison, Noelia, and Lea. He told us that he is participating in about four camps this summer to kill time. I mean, I wouldn’t mind deriving and integrating or deciphering other hieroglyphs of the mathematics language in my free time, but I wouldn’t do it for two weeks just to pass time! The boy is pretty much learning in an organized form of education year round.
After chatting in the lounge, I headed to the dorm for bed and then, in the blink of an eye and a tiny puddle of drool, the sun was shining and I was greeting the morning with a yawn. I got dressed and then it was breakfast time, the morning news showed unrest in various nations and an editorial about the US’ immigration issue made me wonder about where could the xenophobic opinion, shared by many, have come from in a nation that was founded by all sorts of European immigrants?
After breakfast we went to the newsroom and learned about news writing, and midway through the lesson Sandra Peddie, an investigative reporter from Newsday, came in and talked to us about her career. The day was still young and we are about to learn more about photography with John Williams.
Every person we have met whom has shared his or her career with us has demonstrated that the field is far from boring, more of a career in which every step you reach for a branch that is higher and higher as you soar over a river in the jungle of informing contemporary beings on events that are concurrent with everyday life.
Much of yesterday was spent using cameras and computers, but the parts that stood out have been the writing workshops, the mini-lessons in writing we received from Professors Dowdy and Duffy. We haven’t learned anything terribly complicated, but it’s mostly new information to me, and I love it. I feel as though I’m being showered in tips, listening intently so I can take the lessons back to my high school’s paper, Spectrum.
My school lacks a journalism class, and honestly, that was the number one reason I applied to this program. I don’t know if I want to be a journalist in real life. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t. But I’ve been devoted to Spectrum for years, writing and editing, and the paper needs a pick-me-up, so here I am.
In the last day and a half, I gained more experience than I would during a month in Locust Valley. I attended a press conference with Stony Brook’s new Athletic Director, Shawn Heilbron. I received photography lessons from the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John Williams. Finally, I learned to use a video camera out in the field — and I do mean field. We took the cameras out to the Staller Steps to shoot video clips in the fading twilight.
Unfortunately, I spent most of yesterday on the overflow computer. There are eighteen computers near each other. I was number nineteen, meaning I sat in the front with the professors and guest instructors. I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t great. But today I knew better. I snagged a computer next to my roommate, scoring a definite victory in this game of musical chairs.
This morning, however, I had the best experience yet. Newsday’s investigative reporter Sandra Peddie popped in to chat with the Greene Team, and those fifteen minutes were fantastic. The work we’ve done so far has been kind of serious, lots of “Pay attention” and “If you miss this you’ll be completely lost.” But when Peddie stood up to talk to us, wearing a bright smile and a hot pink blazer, she illuminated the fun side of journalism.
Peddie is clearly doing what she loves. She shared some of her adventure stories and gave us a little insight into her world. What she does is exciting, and she is excited about it. Her words buzzed as she told us her story. Instead of slouching back in my chair, I leaned forward, hanging on every syllable.
She told us her favorite part of the job was that it helped her learn more about the world. She had grown up sheltered in Minnesota. Now she knows things. She talks to people from all walks of life, sees corruption at multiple levels.
I don’t know about the towns my peers come from, but Locust Valley is a sheltered little town. I want to know things too, and that is what I hope to gain from my time in journalism: perspective on the world, broader knowledge of humans and our actions.
I know we’re laying groundwork, that unless we learn the basics, we can never advance, but Peddie’s mini lecture served as a pep talk, a look at what’s to come, and it reawakened the excitement I possess for journalism.
Today we worked on portraits with John Williams. He helped us with lighting and gave us tips on how to take a better photo.
Unfortunately, today was his last day with us and I know I personally will miss him.
We started working with our teams on our stories. My team will be covering the new arena that was just built at Stony Brook. It was fun meeting the basketball players and talking with the athletics director. Everyone seems enthusiastic about the new arena and has high hopes to attract new fans.
My teammates and I really enjoy working together. We decided on calling ourselves the Greene Beans. Dan Walocha was amazing at getting the right angle for our footage. Yardalie Daniel and Hanna Da’Mes got great photos of the new arena. I think our final piece will look fabulous when we finish it.
People often say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I never really grasped the true meaning of that saying until yesterday. We had a four-hour lesson with Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John Williams. Williams told us some of the basics of taking a quality photo including light sensitivity, field of vision, and shutter speed. He taught us how to capture someone in motion, pan a shot, and capture details accurately as possible. It was a ton of fun, as we could take pictures of basically anything we want including our classmates running, jumping and doing cartwheels. After this exciting lesson, we had a quick dinner at the Student Activity Center. We then returned to the newsroom for a lesson in operating video cameras with Professor Rick Ricioppo. We learned how to handle the video camera and the tripod properly. We then headed outside to practice shooting videos. It was difficult to find anything that interesting to videotape and most of my group’s shoots were just of people walking through the frame. However, it was interesting to learn about a skill I didn’t have any real experience with. Right after this lesson, we were assigned the teams we would be working with the rest of the week.
Today we had another a photo lesson with Williams. We practiced the techniques we learned yesterday and took portraits of our classmates. After the portraits we finished up our photo class, and Williams told us that this would be his last class with us. I was very disappointed to hear this because William’s class had been my favorite part of the program so far.
After the photo lesson and lunch we were given our teams’ assignment. My team had to write two articles on Shawn Heilbron. I did the article focused on Shawn’s life story, and Laura and Lisa worked on an article describing Heilbron’s vision for Stony Brook. Then we attended an event, which presented cancer survivors with college scholarships. Laura and I interviewed the some of the people running the event and some of the recipients of the scholarships. It was fascinating to hear these survivors’ story and I feel privileged to help to be able to help tell their story through my work.
We hit the ground running on the first official day, instantly immersing ourselves in photography and film. While learning from Newsday Photo Editor and Pulitzer Prize winner John Williams was a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience, I highly doubt my blurry shots will be winning the prize next.
My previous experience in photography – the renowned selfie and occasional picture of my little sister doing something cute – were definitely lacking when compared to the technique and set-up needed to take the perfect “action shot.”
Another new experience yesterday was the press conference with Stony Brook’s new athletic director, Shawn Heilbron. It was seriously cool – I felt like a real-deal journalist covering a beat with my notepad and voice recorder. Heilbron seemed like an ambitious professional.
The last class of the evening was about filming to “capture the moment” – the final segment of Prof. Ricioppo’s mantra. While it’s hard to pick a highlight in such a packed day, running around with a camera and tripod and taking ten-second clips of happenings on campus was definitely up there. It really was great – taking shots of fountains and wandering students at dusk, climbing and crouching to get the perfect angle, and holding back laughter while someone else in the group was filming was the perfect way to end the day.
While I was exhausted (and starving – in what world is 5 p.m. dinnertime???) on the walk back to the dorms, the fun wasn’t over yet. After a quick call from home (and some disdain from my mother as I ate M&M’s at 9:30), my roommate Mary Kate and I heard a knock at the door – the Greene Team girls were assembling in a dorm for Scattergories and snacks.
Of course, I was beyond sold on that idea (has there ever been an invention more brilliant than triple-stuffed golden Oreos?). We crowded into the room, sitting in a circle around a slew of snacks and game cards (huge thank you to Kayla’s mom) and joined the game. It was a great time, and a really neat game.
My roommate Mary Kate and I played as a team, scrambling to think of unique boys’ names and celebrities in accordance to the letter chosen for the round (in a stroke of brilliance, she used “Nancy Regan” for celebrities whose names started with “N,” and I got a point for “Octavius” in the category of boys’ names that started with “O.”).
Today looks like another full day, especially now that our teams have been selected and our stories will be pursued in the afternoon.
Yesterday was quite an eventful day. We worked from morning until night nonstop, but I enjoyed every moment of it.
The new director of athletics, Shawn Heilbron, paid us a visit to discuss how he will be making improvements on Stony Brook’s athletic programs. Heilbron said he is eager to get started in his new position. This was the first time that Heilbron has met with student journalists at Stony Brook in his new position.
In the afternoon, John Williams taught us how to work the cameras and showed us cool techniques to get a photo just right. Noelia Vazquez and I got a little creative and took a selfie!
It was such a pleasure working with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Newsday assistant photo editor, John Williams. He had so much knowledge on the subject and has so many interesting experiences from years of traveling the world. Williams taught us how to take still and action shots. We had a lot of fun shooting the action shots because we got to play around. We were running, tumbling, and jumping and the photos came out very well. Williams was as enthusiastic as we were and was happy to see us get so involved with the photography.
In the evening, Kelly Colligan worked with Noelia Vazquez and I on our video camera practice. We had so much fun! We asked people to do some pretty random things for us in our shots. For example, we found some guy to throw a penny into a fountain and then we had a lady read for us on a bench. Our inner-stalker side came out when we got footage of a man riding around on his bike and he had no idea we were filming him.
When I got back to the dorms at night I was disturbed by a Snapchat that my sister sent me. I have been gone for barely 24 hours and she has already moved into my room. Now I know what to expect when I go away to college!
Bonding with all the Greene Team members has been fantastic. I can tell already that I will stay in touch with the people here for a long time to come. We are all getting along great and I have already made so many new friends, as well as become even closer with Sharon Ahmed and Alejandro Serrano from school.
My first day here at Stony Brook University, with the Greene Team has been exhausting, but fun. Thanks to the wonderful John Williams, who devoted his time to teach the team about the aspects of photography, my day was fantastic. Photography has always been something I wanted to experience, but never pushed myself to do. The lesson that he taught us was long, but fairly educational. His sense of humor also made it entertaining.
I enjoyed the way he photographed pictures. It gave me a new perspective of what photography is really about. For many people (and me) using a camera has always been about taking a picture—and we would be lucky if they were good ones. But now, I think of it in a different way, as in changing the shutter speed of the camera to obtain a perfect shot, switching the ISO and knowing the difference when I’m taking picture inside and outside. Although I didn’t do so well in taking the pictures, I am looking forward to learn more about photography in today’s lesson.
Monday, the first full day of the Robert W. Greene program, was a really excellent experience. In my previous blog post I described the excellent breakfast here, and I finished before we had the interview with Shawn Heilbron.
Heilbron is the new addition to the Stony Brook staff. He is the new Athletic Director and has high hopes improving Stony Brook’s sports reputation as a whole. In the interview we got to listen to Heilbron’s story as to how he got to be where he is today, and then we proceeded by each asking questions, acting like a real reporter. Through the question and answers we discovered that he is interested in building up the football and basketball program, and then marketing them to get more of an audience at the games. He would then use these funds from the games to fund the other sports equally, and even has hopes of starting up a new women’s sports team.
After the interview with Heilbron we headed out to lunch. Lunch was pretty good, there was a various amount of options, but I can personally say that the pizza was really good.
John Conrad Williams then came in and taught us about the ISO, aperture and shutter speeds of the camera. We then took the cameras outside and practiced taking pictures of moving targets and of each other. This was one of the best parts of the day, going outside where it’s not -20˚ like in the newsroom.
After the photo lesson, we took a dinner break, which was basically the same food as lunch, which was fine by me as long as there is pizza. Next, Professor Rick Ricioppo came in and taught us about the topic I’m most interested in—broadcast journalism. We learned the basics, most of which I had already known from my class in school, but I did learn a few things about layering which was really nice.
Even though the day felt never-ending, I did learn some really exciting new things that I can’t wait to take back to my broadcast program in my school and share.
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The Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists