Journalism Courses Offer Visual Approach to News

El Vaquero Staff Writer

In an age where newsgathering is becoming more visual, GCC’s journalism department unlocked a vault that held an old curriculum.

Intro to broadcast journalism (Journalism 106) and photojournalism (Journalism 110) were added once again to the curriculum after a lull in pictorial news classes and a need for a visual stimulant.

“Visual news is not only the wave of the future, it is the way the news is going, and if we (GCC) did not follow suit, we would really be behind the times,” said Language Arts Division Chairwoman, Jean Perry.

“Broadcast news has changed dramatically in the past 10 years,” said Bette Finlayson, who teaches the broadcast journalism class. “It went from equal amounts of news and visual entertainment, to a more dominant visual stance. I have seen so many stories get killed because of bad visuals,” said Finlayson.

With her experience, Finlayson has the knowledge to rate a good story. Upon receiving a Masters Degree in Communications from Hawaii, Finlayson was employed by KHON as a TV reporter and producer, and an on-air personality for a Hawaiian radio newscast and talk show.

She then moved around the states as a reporter, at KOLD in Tucson, KOSA in Texas, and KPHO in Phoenix, in search of the best tapes. While working, she covered such events as community events, hurricanes, and wild car chases.

“I spent about one and half years in each location, I got a good tape and then moved into a bigger market,” Finlayson said, regarding her largest market employer, Metro Network in San Diego.

The broadcast class is designed to allow students to “cover the process of gathering, writing, editing and presenting the news on radio and television,” as noted in the course description. The course molds students into a “jack-of-all-trades,” as it guides them through the technical and talent portion of both television and radio broadcasts.

Toward this goal, GCC teamed up with Charter Communications in the fall of 2002 to create real-life tapes that will be helpful in getting a first job in broadcast or to include in their portfolios.

“Each student will participate in mock reporter packages and receive a tape showing their work,” Finlayson said. ” Nothing is better than actual experience and if you want a job, you need a tape.”

According to Federal Communications Commission regulations, Charter has a mandate from the government that states that they must allow on-air time to the public. As a public college, GCC was up for the nomination to participate in the public program, after a representative from Charter pitched the idea to a representative of GCC at a social function. The idea was then passed on to Perry, where it was approved and a half-hour premiere news show was set to start in the fall 2002 semester.

The class also participates in radio broadcast training. Finlayson pairs groups of students up with Mike Petros, Associate Professor of Television, from the campus web radio station, to create another vital tape. At the end of the semester, a live feed will be heard all across the campus and each student will have a five to seven minute taping of their personal radio cast.

Broadcast is important because it is vital to know what it is going on, “it? a good job, lots of work, but, it teaches you how to be persistent, confident and to make news entertaining, yet, professional,” said Finlayson.

Both the broadcast and the photojournalism classes have been on the roster before. “They have always been on the books. With the hiring of the new full-time Journalism instructor, Michael Moreau, came many revitalized classes, he breathed new life into the expansion project,” said Perry.

The revitalization of the photojournalism class brought an instructor that embodies success. As a freelance photographer, Liane Enkelis worked for Forbes, National Geographic, New York Times, and others. She has written and photographed two books and taught in northern California for eight years.

Enkelis, brings a lot of information to the table and she makes sure that students are able to express their own creativeness at the help of her education.

“I found photojournalism to be a really exciting field in my life and I like to pass that on to other people,” Enkelis said.

While the students learn the technical side of photography, using their own cameras, a communication edge is always the underlying factor.

“My main goal in teaching is that the students learn to use pictures as a communications tool. The best tools that a photographer can have is the desire for investigation and new ideas,” Enkelis said.

The class takes news, feature, portraits and sports photos. The art department’s photo lab is used, as students gain experience in developing their own film and making prints.

The result is a photograph that transcends language barriers, Enkelis said. She added, “You can see a photograph taken half way across the globe and if the photographer (who is not American) is skillful enough in the art, you can understand the message.”

Although writing is not emphasized as the dominant factor, Enkelis has students write short photo captions. As the final project, students compile five photos that tell a story, along with extended captions.
A student from last semester, Nicholas Seim, 23, said the overall expression he felt from the class was an “understanding of how to connect the words to the pictures.”

He started out as an amateur photographer and by the end of the class had confidence to take the next step toward a career in journalism.

Enkelis said, “Photojournalism is an exciting field, if you have interest and are attracted to the community visually, photo can be a great avenue to show world journalistic views and also independent creativeness.”