Things I’m Doing

Spreading myself too thin.

But that’s OK, because I take pride and joy in all of the work I do. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not doing enough work, to which my close friends call me insane for thinking. Here’s what I’ve been doing with my time aside from blogging here.

(Note: I normally don’t do this whole ”Sorry for all the lack of updating omglol” because I know no one cares about how infrequently I update or every little thing I’m doing with my life, but I felt compelled.)

Low clouds and remnant snow define this winter landscape of NAU's central campus.

Low clouds and remnant snow define this winter landscape of NAU's central campus.

University

I’m currently in my 6th semester. After this, I’ll be in my last year of college. I have a tendency to work ahead a bit, and next year I’ll only have to take 21 credit hours to graduate. What prevents me from graduating in the winter is the fact that my last senior capstone class in only offered in the spring. So I’ll be taking the minimum number of credit hours required to continue full-time: 12. This is a significant change from my typical 16-18 credit-hour semesters I’ve been doing since I started my college career.

This is an especially significant change considering I’m taking five upper-division courses including one other capstone this semester. Needless to say, that entails a lot of work, and it’s just the start of everything I’m doing right now.

Student Media

For a while, I had tricked myself into thinking that the I.T. background I left in my high school years for a more creative endeavor: video production, wouldn’t come back to haunt me. But now that I’ve moved up the ranks in NAU student media, doing everything I can for NAZ Today and the other media outlets, I somehow naturally fell into the position of Web Director for the Student Media Center. As such, I sit in on management meetings with several other peers and talk a lot about things we want to change about everything and the problems we’ve been having.

From left to right: Myself, Darryl, and Patrick pose on the set of the first 2010 mayoral debate, a production of the Student Media Center.

From left to right: Myself, Darryl, and Patrick pose on the set of the first 2010 mayoral debate, a production of the Student Media Center.

Oh, the problems we’re having. From my perspective, it all boils down to a lack of driven incoming students. To put it visually: When I first started as a freshman, the hour or two before each of our newscasts had the video editing bays packed and buzzing with activity. That has been reduced to one or two people – if any – cutting together archive footage and graphics. Some of that can be chalked up to a reduced number of staff and difficult transportation situations. But the fact remains: many of our people aren’t enterprising the stories they could be. What used to be “go find some stories” turned into “rewrite this press release and make a phone call.” Next semester, when I do have that free time, I’ll strive to be the antitheses of complacent news rewriting; See: the tag line for this website.

One great accomplishment of the SMC, though, is the production of Flagstaff’s first (within recent history) televised mayoral debate. The debate hosted the then three mayoral candidates about one week before the primary election and was co-produced by The Lumberjack and NAZ Today staff. I was one of three executive producers for the program, and the hour-long show really proved that when we put our minds to something, the SMC can put together an outstanding product. We catch lots of flack for having sub-standard media, which I don’t agree with. But I heard nothing but praise for the Mayoral Debate. Program developer and associate editor of The Lumberjack, Joey Chenoweth, said he’d like to see another debate before the general election. I’m so game for that.

Another role I somehow took on is graphics designer for NAZ Today. I’m currently working on a design concept for all of NAZ’s graphics, from lower thirds to full page motion graphics and over-the-shoulders.

Personal Projects

This is an attempt at being clever.

This is an attempt at being clever.

In the middle of January, I purchased a Zoom H2 audio recorder for about $130. After listening to a few episodes of This American Life, I knew I wanted to do something similar: recording everyday stories and sometimes sound effects. Now that recorder has come in handy for capturing the strangest of moments, from a 5 minute debate between two guys over a Cheesy Gordita Crunch to a one-minute interview with a man wearing a coyote pelt for a hat. The more practical purpose of it is becoming more apparent with the progression of my senior capstone project in journalism which is interview-heavy. I’m also anticipating creating short audio documentaries with the recorder.

One additional project that I’ll be using that cheap but handy device is called Things We’re Writing. It’s a start-up podcast and community publishing site that allows peers to read their written works on tape that would have otherwise gone unpublished and unseen, such as school essays, screenplays, poetry, you name it. Each reading is followed by a brief interview with the author about why they wrote the work and what their background is. So far, we’re still gathering content. My co-producer Angie is helping with editorial and I’m recording and hosting the show. Keep a lookout or send us a submission for episode one at http://thingswerewriting.com/.

I have that affinity for film photography still. But with all of the work I’ve had this semester, I’ve only gotten around to shooting a couple of color rolls, and they weren’t too exciting. I have plenty of black and white left over from last semester, and even though developing them is easy, printing them has become more difficult as I don’t have any light-isolated counter space to do enlargements on. I do have the option of scanning the film, but with the flatbed scanner I have, dust and lack of speed become big issues that I can rarely address well. Over the summer, I plan on purchasing a new DSLR that, although it might not have the same feel as film, it’ll be easier to use.

The Future

That DSLR is mostly a required purchase for the photography minor I tacked on to my double-major. The minor only required me to take four classes in addition to what I had already taken. As mentioned before, my class schedule for my senior year will be relatively light because I had taken slightly heavier semesters up until this point. With only three required classes remaining, I figured that, since I had to stay full time, I could afford to take four more classes and get some more photography experience while I was at it.

Cliche, but still nice. Flagstaff, Ariz.

Cliche, but still nice. Flagstaff, Ariz.

The camera I’m considering purchasing is the Canon T2i, an 18 megapixel DSLR that has ISO sensitivity up to 6400 and can shoot full 1080p video. Though this camera is several hundred dollars more than a comparable camera that doesn’t shoot video, I figure I can use it in tandem with the Zoom recorder to get back into reporting news, doing freelance projects for money, and doing more personal video projects with a decent camera.

My family is slowly moving out of Las Vegas after over 20 years of living in Sin City. This is a direct effect of the economy’s downturn as the company my dad worked for started downsizing its project management department. My dad now lives in Brea, CA (in the greater Los Angeles area), and as my mom finishes her teaching career and I finish college in Flagstaff, my family will make the complete move west in mid-2011.

More close to the present, I’ll be working the NHTV workshops for the third summer in a row. The only difference this time around is that I’ll be of drinking age, and boy do the Dutch love to drink. Now I can join them for any recreational activity, not just movies and the mall. For the second half of this summer, I hope to get an internship at a TV station or newspaper doing multimedia work. We’ll see what happens.

Overall, it’s an exciting time for myself. Pretty much everything is going well, and though I have a lot going on, I feel like I have a lot going for me. A special thanks to everyone who has provided the opportunities that have allowed my growth so far in college.

About The Author

Kyle Anderson
I'm a media and IT professional and JavaScript developer who worked most recently as an Associate Broadcast IT Engineer (Tier II) for CNN in Atlanta. One of my life-long goals is to help bridge data divides - missing connections between software systems and data stores - promoting inter-system communication and automation. Many of the projects described here reflect this goal in some way or another.