Final Project Essay


I learned so much from this class. I didn’t realize the extent of the world of digital journalism. I was under the impression that we had traditional media, broadcast media, social media and online versions of traditional media. While those things all do exist, they are infinitely more complex and nuanced than I previously imagined. For example, I never took the time to consider that individuals actually have to make infographics. They always seemed like a cool addition to a story, I just never considered that a person had to make them. I also didn’t realize how frustrating it can be to work with data in order to make an infographic on platforms like Canva. The knowledge that I gained in using HTML and CSS this semester is also invaluable. The most practical lessons were those focused on Google Sheets and working with data sets. I’ve actually been able to apply some of that knowledge to the work that I do at my internship. Overall, this class has been an irreplaceable experience. I’ve learned tools and information that will undoubtedly benefit my journalism career.

Developing the Project

My story project got off to a rocky start. I prepared a presentation on a company located where I used to live. I wanted to explore the corruption and greed of the corporation through a journalistic approach. Unfortunately, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get many interviews from sources who live close to the corporation. After I realized that I needed to find a different topic to focus on, things started moving a little bit smoother.

The main ethical consideration that comes to mind when working on my story was who my sources could be. I actually didn’t realize beforehand, but there is a conflict of interest when a person chooses to interview a classmate as a source. Unfortunately, I realized this after my initial draft had been turned in. I ended up having to interview two more students as a result. It wasn’t that bad of a fix, but it was frustrating to be unable to use an interview that I had already completed.

Like the challenge addressed above, one of the other challenges that I encountered while completing my story also had to do with a source. I was actually missing an interview in my first draft because the professor whom I had requested an interview with refused to participate. This was a major hurdle that I was fortunate enough to overcome. I ended up conducting an interview with a different journalism professor. I’m actually very proud of how that interview turned out.

While most of my challenges did revolve around interviewees, I had some technical difficulties throughout my process. The most frustrating one was working with Canva in order to create an infographic. Canva is a nice platform, but sometimes it can be a bit rigid. In my case, the template that I had begun to work with presented me with some limitations. There was this wavy line that I was trying to edit, but it could only be edited entirely, or with just two of the waves at a time. Since at one point I only wanted to include an odd number of events on my infographic, I had to find a way to chop the graphic. In the end I did an even number of events, so my struggles didn’t end up being necessary. I did become more familiar with the platform through that process though.

Although the creation of my story was not without its challenges, I was presented with several opportunities along the way. The most profound of these opportunities was getting to reconnect with a former professor in an interview capacity. The professor whom I interviewed, David Coddon, is an experienced journalist. It was intimidating to interview someone with that background, but I think that I did a great job. I was very familiar with the topic of citizen journalism and I had a good grasp on almost every instance that he and I talked about. It was a very proud moment for me. I actually did a little mini celebration after the interview ended because I was so happy with the way it went.

Another opportunity, more on the technical side, was working with technology to enhance a story. Like I mentioned before, I struggled a little bit with Canva. The struggle turned into an opportunity though. I am now very comfortable using Canva, and I’m actually using it to design flyers for a company that an acquaintance of mine is starting. Another technological opportunity that I encountered during the course of my story was becoming more familiar with how to operate and record zoom meetings. I had probably only hosted two or three zoom meetings before this assignment. Since all of my interviews were conducted over zoom, I became very familiar with the platform. I’ve been able to apply that to my other classes as well. I actually just turned in a final presentation for another class in which I had to record my presentation over zoom and submit the entire video. I would have had a much harder time completing that without the knowledge I gained throughout this process.

I’m sure that all of the challenges and opportunities that I encountered throughout this process will enhance and better prepare me for obstacles that I will encounter as a journalist. I have no doubt that the ethical and journalistic guidelines that I had to follow will help me as well.

Digital Media Experience

I want to start this section by saying that this class has forever changed the way that I view the world of digital journalism. I was able to learn about the history of digital journalism, as well as what may be in store for the future. What started off as prehistoric looking websites and very basic blogs has blossomed into the largest and most important platform for journalistic endeavors. The world of journalism is rapidly and constantly changing, so I’ll have to keep my eye out. Regardless, I now have such a strong understanding of what is required of journalists in this modern age. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

As you’ve already read by now, my knowledge of digital journalism tools and technologies has grown exponentially throughout this process. I now would feel very comfortable being hired as a digital journalist. I think that there would still be much to learn, but I am infinitely more prepared.

Again, the knowledge that I gained surrounding data sets and Google Sheets have helped me already. I use a lot of data sets and numbers at my internship, and the lessons in this class about how to use Google Sheets to my advantage have made my life a lot easier. When I first started using applications like Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel, my knowledge was very limited. They seemed impossible to use. It seemed like every command that I needed to complete was multiple steps. What took me an hour at the beginning of the semester would probably only take me half of that now. That’s just with the tasks that I have to complete at my internship though. There are so many other things that I learned in this class that I haven’t gotten to use yet. I’m excited to apply my knowledge to future projects.

Another area of this class that I consider to be invaluable experience is the use of WordPress. I have had to create websites before, but none of them were as involved and legitimate as my creation of this website. For reference, I created a drop shipping website in high school. I used Shopify to create it. Creating that website was like connecting Lego pieces. There was nothing to it. Creating this website was a completely different experience though.

The learning that was required of me while creating this WordPress site was constant. Everything from adding new pages to adding meta data was a learning curve. I’m not going to lie. It was frustrating at first. For example, I really struggled with adding a contact page for some reason. I don’t remember exactly what the issue was, but Professor Schmitz-Weiss helped me clear it up. Before it was fixed, every time I clicked the contact tab it would just open SDSU’s home page. I still don’t really understand why that happened, but I’m very thankful that it was not too difficult of a fix.

Meta data was another interesting thing for me. I had heard the term before, but I didn’t really understand what it meant. Adding little keywords that make a website more findable is absolutely vital to building websites though. Without meta data, all websites would just float around in the abyss that is the internet. At the time that I am writing this, I still need to go back and update my meta data per Professor Schmitz-Weiss’ instructions. I’ll get it done though. I absolutely must. I now understand how vital it is to a website’s success.

I don’t want to spend too much time addressing this again, but I just have to mention how much better I got at using Canva throughout the creation of my story. I had used it for other projects in the past. I know so much more about how to use the platform now though. I forgot to mention this above, but I’ve actually used Canva at my internship as well. I had to create this speech outline thing for Chairwoman Vargas and I was supposed to do it on Canva. I started working on it before I had become more familiar with the platform. The next week I was able to finish it with so much more confidence because I had created my infographic in the days between.

As for social storytelling tools, my story on citizen journalism gave me so much information about how these tools can be used. I also used Twitter and YouTube during my discovery project which was enlightening. I learned far more during my story though.

I learned about the entire history of citizen journalism. What started off as a few blogs has blossomed into a whole world of citizen-created content. The platforms that are popular today like TikTok, Twitter and Instagram are so important to the world we live in. They are also important for established journalists and news organizations. With print and broadcast becoming less and less popular, everyone will need to adapt to this world of digital content and media.

My own knowledge of using these platforms has not changed too much though. I didn’t ever need to use them for any of my stories. I know that eventually I will have to, but until I do I don’t have much interest in social storytelling tools.

The most interesting and enjoyable moments in working on my website came with the coding in HTML and CSS. I don’t remember what I was doing wrong, but I couldn’t get my website to accept my code for a while. When it finally did, I was overcome with joy and satisfaction. I’m not sure how often I’ll use HTML and CSS, but I’m glad that I know how to use them.

The most enjoyable moment while working on my story was when I finished my interview with my former professor. It was just such a proud moment for me. I’ve conducted so many interviews since becoming a journalism major, but this one was by far the most intimidating. I think that it went very well and I’ll probably remember that for a very long time.