Senior Pageantry and Midwives: Two Examples of Multimedia Storytelling

One of the many benefits of living in an age of huge technological growth is that we are able to consume our news not only through the inky, rustling inconvenience of newspapers but through visuals and sound. As cheesy as it may sound, it’s a way to bring us closer to the truth. Here are a couple of multimedia pieces that stood out to me.

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Pageant Glamour For Those Who Have Reached the Age of Elegance

This New York Times video about the Ms. Senior America Pageant won the Feature Multimedia Award of NPPA’s “Best of Photojournalism, Multimedia Winners” in 2017. The visuals capture the expected glamour of the pageant: the boas, the glitter, the dancing. The interviews introduce viewers to the strong, spunky women behind the contest and show not only humor, but also unexpected lapses of melancholy.

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These Indigenous Women Are Saving Lives One Birth at a Time

National Geographic’s short film “Con Madre,” is in partnership with non-profit Every Mother Counts, but does not promote the organization; rather it details the life and training of two Guatemalan women going through the first professional midwife training program. The entire story is told through the voices of the people being interviewed, as well as ambient sound and natural conversation in Spanish.


On Multimedia Journalism

Multimedia has added several new skills to my journalism toolkit. Although it’s been a great relief to not have to write so much, it has also presented a series of challenges of its own. As it turns out, multimedia journalism requires you to do a lot more than just take notes on the scene and requires more preparation than simply doing your research.

By far the most challenging aspect was needing to juggle several pounds of very expensive, very breakable equipment while conducting an interview or getting B-roll. It can be very distracting. Small mistakes, like having insufficiently charged batteries and running out of memory card space, can also entirely derail a project. However, it also serves to remind me that with enough creativity, you can make something out of whatever you end up with, and if you do it well enough, no one will even know how many times you messed up along the way.

Another thing no one will notice, unfortunately, is how many hours of work and stress went into a five-minute podcast or a three-minute video. Still, as short as antsy consumers allow multimedia to be nowadays, it is a wonderful way to experience, capture and share moments that you feel are important.

a rant about women’s march 2k18: some of ya’ll are making us look stupid

The Women’s March in Santa Ana, California on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (Lola Olvera).

I enjoy seeing women coming together against social and institutional feminism. I really do. What I don’t enjoy is people going with the crowd–literally–just to score social justice points and post a cute, topical selfie.

There are plenty of people well-educated in the politics of gender inequality and there are plenty of people who do not necessarily understand the issues because of educational, language or other boundaries, but who nonetheless experience the righteous anger over being treated as the second-rate gender. I have no problem with any of these people.

My irritation lies with the people who decided to hop on the social justice bandwagon purely because it made them seem “edgy” or “radical” or morally superior. These are the ones that yell very expletive, very inaccurate things at cishet white males, feel like they won no matter what and then promptly tell everyone about it on social media because oodles of notes and the praise of their peers brings them to orgasm.

They’re human beings and they deserve their rights like anyone else but jeezus they’re annoying.

Continue reading “a rant about women’s march 2k18: some of ya’ll are making us look stupid”

Book Reviews | January 2018

Louisiana, New Orleans, 1963. Photo: Leonard Freed/Magnum

A white guy dressing up as a black guy as a social experiment is usually a proposition that I react to with the utmost cynicism, but journalist and race expert John Howard Griffin does the deed in an affecting way in his literary journalism masterpiece Black Like Me.”

Before someone understandably screams “blackface,” let’s clarify–Griffin achieved his temporary dark complexion through medical means and only a small helping of cosmetics. Griffin’s determination to experience racism firsthand had me suspecting his account would be sensationalistic or swerve into falsehoods but as it turns out, the daily interactions that the average black person dealt with in the Deep South at the time was more than enough to shock, move and enlighten. Griffin accurately chronicles and demonstrates the seemingly small but cumulative aggressions and inequalities of daily life and rounds it out with his deep academic understanding.

Even within the short time frame he covers how the coupling of daily microaggressions and outright harassment contribute to the sense of hopelessness in the black community, how black youth sometimes resort to lawlessness out of anger and frustration, how black people are dehumanized to the point of becoming sounding boards for others’ most vulgar secrets and how white civil rights activists denying black people a platform to speak is an all-too-common hypocrisy.

Continue reading “Book Reviews | January 2018”

Female Trouble: A Profile of Josie Wreck

Photo:  John Gilhooley

“I’ve got lots of problems/Female troubles…”

Swaying gently in front of a mic, casting sidelong glances at her fingers plodding out a lumbering bassline, Josie Wreck holds the attention of the LGBT Center’s dimly lit audience with “Female Trouble.” The Center, located in Downtown Santa Ana, celebrated a punk and hardcore music event on Saturday in which every single band was trans-fronted.

Wreck is here playing dark, brooding music with her band Popsical. Standing six feet tall in dainty kitten-face flats, and with a roaring open-mouthed laugh, Wreck is the epitome of a big personality. In fact, most of her actions, whether she was insisting on both painted fingernails and video games as a child or focusing on dismantling the patriarchy in her adult life, has been done with an unapologetic attitude.

A few hours later the band will be pronounced officially “dead” on their Facebook page, making this their last show. Fronting a rock band has not always been that easy, as Wreck has learned from her personal experience, especially when you’ve got a few more obstacles to sidestep than your “basic” person.  Continue reading “Female Trouble: A Profile of Josie Wreck”

To Dream, Perchance to Sleep


Erised“Don’t you have a dream? Something you’ve always wanted very badly? You can have whatever dream you want…you can have anything you want in the whole universe.” -Vina, “The Cage”, Star Trek: The Original Series

I’ve been clocking in a lot of screen time lately.

Either something has been nagging at my mind or I’ve just been unusually observant lately, but there’s been a recurring theme within the media I’ve been consuming. As Bill Nye would say, let’s consider the following:  Continue reading “To Dream, Perchance to Sleep”

Not Yo Culture

Kylie Jenner poses for a selfie in cornrows. Shortly thereafter, she will be called out on this by Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg.

Hated YouTuber of the moment Nicole Arbour (see recent rage-bait video ‘Dear Fat People’–or rather, don’t) has been generous enough to bring us another highly controversial video addressed to another group of marginalized individuals: black people.

This time, Arbour attacks the concept of cultural appropriation, misdefining and trivializing it and advocating cultural ‘sharing’ because she sees nothing wrong with trying out bits and pieces of other people’s cultures that she thinks are cool.

The video features jump shots of the barely-speaking token black friend she brought in to ‘qualify’ her opinions, mockery of her own white girl-ness and a somewhat heartfelt speech about how black people are still discriminated against to this day.

There’s no sense in inviting anyone to watch the video and rack up views for her perhaps well intended but poorly executed word vomit, but the video serves as a good example of the misunderstandings that exist about cultural appropriation.  Continue reading “Not Yo Culture”

Dear Nicole Arbour

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“If we offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m okay with that.”

These are words spoken by Nicole Arbour, a Youtuber with over 220,000 subscribers, on her six-minute rant entitled “Dear Fat People,” which includes the claims that fat shaming doesn’t exist and jokes that Crisco comes out of obese people’s pores.

The once-popular, now-infamous comedian received an avalanche of criticism for the video, and rightly so.

However, amidst her mocking tirade, Nicole Arbour did make one relevant point, something that we’re all aware of yet still discuss very nervously: obesity is an issue.  Continue reading “Dear Nicole Arbour”

Still Not Asking For It: Sexual Harassment & Rape Culture


When I was in middle school, a female student was told that she should stop wearing low cut tank tops because “it drove the boys crazy and distracted them from their homework.”

This casual comment was met by laughter and effectively made the pre-pubescent breasts of a 13-year-old girl responsible for the lust and poor performance of the school’s male population.

In school or out, girls are taught that that their clothing choices cause them to be harassed and assaulted, one of the most twisted lessons in present society. Tight leggings, mini skirts and even visible bra straps are prohibited in school’s female dress codes. Instead of teaching boys to respect girls, they teach girls their bodies are inappropriate.  Continue reading “Still Not Asking For It: Sexual Harassment & Rape Culture”

In Defense of Body Modification

tumblr_inline_nmixdmwxZH1ql3ax6_500A furious debate churns constantly in tabloids and Instagram comments: is Nicki Minaj’s magnificent rear end actually real? Are Kylie Jenner’s pillowy lips the result of dermal fillers?

For whatever reason–jealousy? boredom?–people feel entitled to judge other people’s cosmetic decisions, often denouncing them as “shallow” and “fake”.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 15.6 million cosmetic procedures were performed last year, and yes, some of them could have been influenced by society’s crushingly high beauty standards–definitely a negative reason.

But for the average person, going under the knife is a big deal and a very personal decision. Most people don’t change their appearance to please other people, they do it to please themselves, and in these cases, cosmetic surgery is entirely positive.  Continue reading “In Defense of Body Modification”