writing on the fly

Blogging seems to get very popular when people travel. It can record what we see and do, our feelings and our adventures in a new and exciting place. The coolest thing is, looking at the different formats people tend to bring up. For instance, some people blog through instagram – photographing their way through a country, others take video and others simply write.

Now with the wordpress apps (and the growing appearance of similar apps) allow you to blog right from the spot – as long as you have some sort of internet connection. What a relief to not wag the computer around everywhere, these things get heavy!

What I wish somebody would figure out is how to get internet access on a plane – without having to pay for it. Airlines in America are built on profit and in return, screwing over their customers. You want pretzels? Fork over $5 please. Internet? Sure sir, I just need your credit card and life savings. But what if we didn’t have to worry about lost signals, roaming charges, and never having 3G that is actually a decent speed.

I think the Europeans have it right – their flights are cheap, their trains high speed, and their internet cafes numerous. They have mastered the idea of efficiency and technology. Tell me America, do you have an app for that?

multimedia meltdown: rantings of the not-so-technologically-savy journalist

Needless to say, I am not a lover of this whole multimedia thing. Don’t get me wrong, the final product is always fun to see and I could spend hours looking through photos and movies. But, actually going through the process of using Audacity, Final Cut Pro, and other multimedia programs, is not my slice of pie. And here are my reasons.

1. Technology 101. Almost every time I have completed a project, I go to save it and the project erases or some technology glitch alters all my hard work. This is beyond frustrating. Computer crashes, program quirks – these just add to my stress and sometimes even cause tears after four hours of editing just to find the project was deleted. No thank you, I’ll leave this nit-picky visual stuff to people who are actually good at it (and have the extreme patience for it). As a magazine emphasis, I’ll be set by simply mastering Microsoft Word.

2. In the field. I have recently discovered how difficult it is to wag around tripods, camera equipment and about 500 other fancy objects we need to an interview. An interview, which I might add, in which the person really does not want to be in front of a camera and could care less about my class grade. As I’m struggling to set up the equipment (which always seems to have something wrong with it – dead batteries, uneven tripods, broken buttons, you name it), I’m usually tripping over cords and being my typical “graceful” self. Did I mention by the time I actually get the darned thing set up, my memory card is nowhere to be found? I think I’ll stick to the old-fashioned pen and paper journalism.

3. Time flies. Nobody really knows how long it takes to do these projects until they actually have to suffer through it. The first time I did anything multimedia related, I underestimated how long it would take – giving myself only an hour or so. Three hours later, I’m cursing at my laptop, rushing to finish on time with some kind of quality product. Now, I leave myself a good five hours advance time… just in case some mysterious technological horror happens (refer to “technology 101”).

4. Interview irritation. I also miss the easiness of picking up the phone and calling someone for an interview. Simple, to the point and more relaxed. I have found most people don’t like having microphones jammed in their faces, especially when they only have ten minutes of their time to meet with you face-to-face. I can’t blame them.

While I really do appreciate all the work that goes into making these multimedia pieces, I just don’t harbor the passion for it like others do. I am proud (and relieved) when my projects end up looking good, but I just can’t forget how much stress went into the process. To the broadcast kids – here’s to you, friends. Good luck and stay sane.

Morphing the Media

Ever since the recession started and word of newspaper companies “imminent doom” spread, I feel like there has been a common fear among budding journalists that their profession will soon be extinct. No print media journalism? What are we to do?

While I can’t exactly predict the outcome of newspapers, I do know that the magazine industry is still thriving. Magazines, unlike newspapers, have very distinct categories. For instance, magazines specialize in travel, fashion, cars, business, health, homes and gardens, etc. Newspapers all report on the same subject: news. This specialization draws people in and gives them an outlet for their individual interests – thus keeping subscription numbers up and a steady reader interest.

Another reason why there is this constant worry for print journalism is due to the massive boom in multimedia and online media. Webpages are expanding to include multimedia pieces, blogs, twitter feeds and so on. Newspaper and magazine apps are appearing so readers can now flip through the magazine right on their iPads. One home and garden magazine features a picture on the print magazine would appear as a video on the iPad version. (Example: print – a cover picture of a chocolate fondue fountain, iPad magazine app – cover picture of the chocolate fondue fountain in motion). With all this new focus on the “techie” side, it is a common worry that print will no longer be needed.

Although the merge of print and multimedia/online based journalism can be difficult and at times unnerving, it does inspire more creativity and modern technological ideas. These innovations mirror the advances of our time and should only expand the popularity and productivity of the media world, not extinguish it.

Apps, Maps and iPads: Travel Tips

Lately, everyone I know has been talking about Study Abroad – booking flights, foreign language difficulties and most of all their never-ending excitement of living in another country for months on end. Sure enough, I too got swept up in the “must-see-the-world-while-we’re-young” attitude and applied to study abroad in Florence, Italy.

Who wouldn't want to live here for a summer?

I’m pretty sure I woke up all of Greektown when I screamed and danced in excitement after receiving my “Congratulations, you’re in!” email.

I instantly Googled all of the must see attractions, hidden gems and tours. I even dashed to the library to check out the Idiot’s Guide to the Italian Language (seriously, if anyone in the world needed an idiot’s guide, it would be me). I even made a mental checklist of all the stuff I’d have to pack, laptops, chargers, phones, ipods… and that’s just the technology side. I don’t even want to think about clothes.

My mantra for traveling is to look and act like you are a native of the country. Dive into the culture (while being as polite as possible, especially if you don’t know the language) and avoid being the tacky tourist at all costs. We’ve all seen them, wearing white nike sneakers, carrying a bulky Jansport backpack with a chunky camera hanging around the neck. I was stuck trying to figure out how to lug a map, a tour book of Florence, an English-Italian phrasebook and camera without looking like the dreaded tacky tourist. And that, is when apps, maps and ipads came to mind.

Looking down at my iTouch, I realized everything that I needed was right there. The map feature is fully loaded with step-by-step directions and satellite location devices. The camera/videocamera feature is a quick and easy way to capture an image. My Facetime and Skype apps can be used to contact family and friends at home. Even my Rosetta Stone Italian language program has an app so I can listen and practice on the plane. That doesn’t even include the hundreds of free apps available.

Travel websites like this list helpful apps for flight information, restaurant guides and transportation maps. Famous guides such as Rick Steves now have walking tour apps that show you where you are and the history around you. So, travel gurus, leave the stacks of travel guides at home.

For those of us who struggle with sleeping on planes (who can blame us with the small space and uncomfortable coach seats), bring your ipad and upload magazines such as National Geographic Traveler to read through. Using these techie tips will not only lighten your baggage load but also provide fast, user-friendly travel information no matter where in the world you’re headed.