Multimedia Journalism

Team RWB: Where Caring for People is the Bottom Line

When Chuck McCowan joined a local veterans’ group, he was struggling with his transition out of the military. Team Red, White & Blue San Antonio helped him adjust by attending their events.

The Team RWB San Antonio Chapter organizes many events such as virtual yoga, runs, food bank volunteering, and more. One event, Monday night bike rides, just came to a close for the 2020 season.

Chuck McCowan, Eagle Leader, or main point of contact, for Team RWB SATX Monday night bike rides, said that the rides are “not just about getting in shape, it’s about building confidence and building you up.” 

McCowan volunteered to step into the role once he noticed the position was needed because he wanted to give back to the organization that gave him so much. 

“I was in a pretty dark place back in 2017 when I first joined this organization,” McCowan said. “I bought my first bike in February of that year, rode a few times, and absolutely hated it.”

Even with McCowan’s initial reaction, members in the cycling group showed him it could actually be really fun and got him into cycling.

A 2015 study by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, discovered that participation in Team RWB events such as the Monday night cycling ride has improved Team  RWB’s member’s well-being. 

One of McCowan’s favorite memories was seeing one of the newer members begin just like he did when he joined the Monday night rides about a year ago. 

“This year I had the opportunity to ride with him on a 103-mile ride which is a huge feat,” McCowan said. “I was thinking he would do okay, but he absolutely tore it up with a 17mph average and even pulled us for about 25 miles.”

McCowan said he enjoys seeing the moment that people start their cycling life to completing their capstone moments of activities they never thought they would be able to do. He said Team RWB welcomes anyone, not only veterans. 

“Being a part of this group is just noticing how everyone takes good care of each other. That’s huge. It’s not just in a veteran’s life, but in anybody’s life. So that’s big.” McCowan said. “That’s what this organization means to me.”

Team RWB focuses on accepting others as they come and doing their best to uplift and encourage them to be their best selves. This approach helps improve members’ personal relationships.

Rudy Sanchez, a Team RWB member, heard about the Monday night riding group from a friend and walked up to see if he could ride with them.

“They were really warm, nice, and inviting,” Sanchez said. “Even though I ride a weird bike, they didn’t chase me off and I try to keep up with them.” Sanchez rides a recumbent trike known as a Cruzbike Vendetta. 

Marty Martinez, Chapter Captain & State Coordinator for Team RWB Texas, lives in Schertz, but he participates in events across Texas. According to Team RWB’s Annual Reports, they have held 204,776 RWB events from 2015 to 2019.

One of Martinez’s favorite events is volunteering at the San Antonio Food Bank and Haven for Hope with his daughter, who is a freshman in college. He said volunteering positively enhances his life and enjoys helping out his community in any way he can. 

“I’m very proud of Team Red, White & Blue and what we do for the veteran community,” Martinez said. “When the veteran leaves the military or someone wants to find a sense of comradery, Team RWB provides that.” 

Martinez said that their purpose is to connect people to people to others with similar interests. Membership is free and simply calls for individuals who are dedicated and want to give back to their community. 

“I’ve been with the organization for 3 years now and I’m not sure where I would’ve been had I not found them,” Martinez said. “It really helped me transition out of the military because it’s hard.” 

Martinez mentioned that as individuals, we have the power to lift others up when they may be in their darkest moments. 

Team RWB empowers members to participate in many ways. For many members, representing the Team RWB eagle shirt is a simple way to show their appreciation for the group.

As members dive more into all that Team RWB has to offer, their degree of participation continues to increase. Martinez said he has seen membership continue to grow for Team RWB San Antonio in 2020 from their current approximate count of 4,500 members. 

Team RWB has chapters all over the United States and membership is open to anyone. Texas has 10 chapters.

As a last thought, Martinez said the aspect of Team RWB that he enjoys most is listening to people’s stories and sharing those moments with them.

“You talk about family, career, combat experiences, childhood memories, anything really,” Martinez said. “You come to realize that we all have this amazing story.”

Multimedia Journalism

How the Use of a Drone May Have Saved a Man’s Life

Australian former surfing champion, Matt Wilkinson, was out on the water when a shark came to see if he would make a good meal without him even knowing.

Fortunately, Wilkinson’s saving grace had been a Surf Life Saving NSW drone that had flown over him, catching the entire encounter on camera. Drone operator, Beau Monks, was able to alert Wilkinson over the drone speaker to come into shore.

This news story shows that because drones have a unique angle, they may make a story of their own without even searching for one. The drone so perfectly captured a shark encounter that could have gone very differently had the drone not been hovering overhead.

This story may have never been published by CNN without the drone footage because journalists may have never known this occurrence had happened. It’s one thing to share about a shark encounter, but having the visual from the drone footage makes the story 1000% better.

Drone Footage in Relation to My Upcoming Final Project

If I had access to a drone, it would have been unique footage to follow overhead a group of cyclists. There are very specific communication tactics that cyclists use to communicate with each other and other motorists on the road. I think the use of that drone footage would further advance my final project video because there likely are not many clips similar to that one so it would be a new angle to the story that would intrigue viewers.

Multimedia Journalism

Top Recommended Entrees at Popular Restaurants from Austin to San Antonio

Are you taking a road trip from Austin to San Antonio or vice versa any time soon? I recommend checking out the locations below and ordering the recommended entree.

If San Marcos is your middle point, check out some of these fan favorites on the map below.

All of these restaurants are located in the San Marcos area near Texas State University, so make sure to wear your mask when visiting these locations. Here are the latest October 2020 COVID-19 progression results for Texas State University.

Multimedia Journalism

Top 5 Questions to Think About Before You Post

The internet is a crazy place and if we don’t use it right, we run the risk of being sued for what we share online. So, before you share, self-reflect to see if your content aligns with the 5 questions below.

Are you the source or is someone else?

  • We’ve all likely heard of plagiarism. Well, you can get sued for that if you share information as your own and it is in fact not. So, always make sure to cite your sources!

Did you take the photo or video?

  • If you didn’t take the time to set up the shot, you don’t get the credit. Simple as that. There are various ways to cite images, so make sure to check the rules for wherever you got it from. Creative Commons is a great place to check for images!

Did you complete the research or statistics yourself?

  • Researchers take lots of time and effort to come up with statistics and data that we are able to share, but if you put in all that effort, you’d probably want recognition too, right? So, cite them!

Is your content true and not harmful to others?

  • You don’t want to be sued for defamation someday if you share content that may be harmful to others, so just think twice about what you are adding to the internet where things never truly disappear.

Are you sharing information about someone else? If so, did you get their permission?

  • Even though someone put content on the internet, that doesn’t mean they want to see it on a billboard. So, if you’re sharing content from someone else, ask them whether it’s okay or not. This will save you from a lawsuit in the long run!
Multimedia Journalism

Learning to Record Stand-Ups for the Press

Stand-ups are the short video clips you see where the anchor of a news station is on scene. For instance, someone who is covering the California fires may stand in front of a damaged home to discuss this issue, outside of their b-roll (secondary footage that complements the story). For my previous post discussing the Buzzed Babes, I decided to reshoot my initial scenes with a stand-up clip instead.

I took this shot with the timer setting on my iPhone using my new tripod.
Photo Credit: Meagan Fleming.

According to a stand-up article, the type of shot that I chose to do was a Demonstration (or Interactive) Stand-up because I used a “buzz bag” as a prop. Something I felt I did right was showing the background scene where my source was interviewed, tying it to the bigger story. A challenge that I faced was remembering my lines. I had to practice them several times and shoot several takes to get the right clip. 

I really enjoyed learning how to record stand-ups. For this project and others to come, I actually bought myself a tripod to be able to always have a steady, level shot, which has been super fun to start using. Overall, I now have a new appreciation for news anchors as they have to practice new lines for new stories every single day. 

Multimedia Journalism

Profile Visits: What People Actually Want to See on My Instagram Account

I analyzed my personal Instagram account, @meagatron510, and discovered what kind of content my followers actually want to see based on profile visits within the last 3 months.

Something that I became proud of while creating this project was my speed and design eye on Canva is a platform that I’ve used for 6 years and have just fallen in love with even more. If you’re unfamiliar with Canva, it’s a platform that makes graphic design easy. Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator are great for various purposes, but for a quick infographic, I’d choose Canva any day.

A challenge that I faced while creating this project was figuring out how to show what each post was about. I decided to not include the individual captions on my infographic as they appeared too small and busy and went for short descriptors instead. Overall, I love how it turned out!

Multimedia Journalism

Strategically Analyzing My Own Twitter Analytics

If you’re involved in the social media and website world, you’ve likely heard of the term analytics, which describes the analysis of data or statistics. Well, I decided to strategically analyze my own Twitter analytics from August 30, 2020, to today.

The analytics that stood out the most for my content are:

  • User profile clicks (the number of times my profile was clicked on from a tweet)
  • URL clicks (the number of times a URL was clicked on in a tweet)
  • Media views (the number of times an image or video was viewed on a tweet of mine)

The tweets that I included links always performed better. In fact, my data shows that all of my tweets from August 30th that included a link were viewed at least once. Plus, the more people viewed the link, the more the tweet was engaged with overall.

Another memorable data note was that when I set up tweets as questions and used my blog as an answer, more people were intrigued to read my content. For instance, several people were curious to learn how they could meet their next boss by posting quality LinkedIn content, as I referenced in the tweet below. 

Overall, what I learned from analyzing my Twitter data is that you’re only going to get as much engagement back as you put in. I’m not very active on Twitter with other content, so my followers react the same way towards my content. Since I’m a lurker to them, they’re a lurker to me.

Some improvements that I want to make going forward are: 

  • Authentically engage with my followers and people in my career field
  • Include more links or professional-looking photos 
  • Increase relatable hashtag usage

Since I am someone that hopes to work within the social media world, I should do my best to make my own social accounts look nice and professional. If a potential employer was reviewing the simple stats that can be viewed on my profile, it may seem as though I am a Twitter newbie and I may get overlooked for someone appearing more experienced. I’ve worked on optimizing my other social platforms, but I’d say it’s time to turn more of my attention to Twitter. 

Multimedia Journalism

COVID-19 “Buzz Babes” Facebook Groups are On the Rise

I created a news video package for a Facebook group swirling around my community called the Buzzed Babes of UC/Schertz/Converse/Cibolo/Selma Area. During the pandemic, these women felt distanced among their community and decided to create this group to do kind things for one another. The “Buzzed Babes” search through a mass excel sheet with each member’s information and delivers a personalized “buzz bag” or goodie bag to their doorstep, ding-dong-ditch style. Cathy Fleming, a “buzzed babe” herself said, “the best part about being in this group is just learning more about these women in the community.”

With this project, I’m proud of learning how to use Adobe Premiere Pro a bit and work around issues that came up as I had never used it in the past. It is very different from the basic iMovie. I look forward to experimenting with it more!

One challenge that I faced was having an issue with the initial b-roll clip in the video. Each time it was exported, it ended up skipping. I tried working around the issue in many ways and even reached out to friends I knew that had years of experience with Adobe Premiere for assistance. Ultimately, I had a few professors help me make the quality of the initial video a little lower because Premier was not feeling the 3 other higher quality clips. So, if you notice the difference in quality, that’s why!

Another challenge that I faced was setting up a “tripod.” I had to makeshift several tripod locations for different angles of shots with tables, boxes, and books. Plus, I kept setting up the shot on the Photo setting of my iPhone versus the Video setting. If you didn’t already know, the video part is zoomed in! Hence, I often had to reset my “tripod” setups.

Overall, this was a fun experience that I’m sure to do again this fall and in the future!

Multimedia Journalism

Online Learning for Kids mixed with Remote Working Parents

Due to COVID-19, many families made the decision to have their kids participate in online learning at home. This comes with many challenges for parents that work from home as there are now many distractions. Melissa Wood, a remote digital marketer, shared some of the struggles that she and her family have faced since the kids went “back to school” this fall.

During this project, I learned a lot! One thing I’m proud of is that I had never used Adobe Audition before and was able to create an audio journalism piece from a bunch of short clips. A challenge that I faced along the way was forgetting to record natural sound during my initial interview with Melissa. I ended up having to contact her again to get some short clips of her cute kiddos. Thankfully, she’s someone I consider a friend, so she wasn’t too bothered, but it’s definitely something I won’t forget in the future.

Multimedia Journalism

3 Tips to Create an Audio Journalism Piece the Right Way

I recently discovered the art of audio storytelling and after some searching, I found an online audio article by Jack Morgan, a reporter for Texas Public Radio, that discussed a former San Antonio musician catching the eye of the New York Times. By listening to his short clip, I was able to piece together 3 of the top tips you should consider when creating an audio journalism piece the right way.

Be a performer

  • When writing for audio, you want to write for the ear. Everything you do and say should be geared towards keeping the listener’s attention. Morgan does this by sounding enthusiastic and interested in the artist’s surprising turn of events.

Draw listeners in

  • Sharing a story on the radio should sound similar to storytelling. Act like you’re sitting around a campfire, drawing your listeners in with an interesting turn of events, revealing more details as you go. This will help hold your listener’s attention until the very end. Morgan does this by walking us through the story with a conversational tone

Produce for yourself and others

  • Craft the recording in a way that you find interesting and that you think your audience will as well. Be creative with your storytelling abilities and adding elements that may enhance the story. You’ll know you’re doing things right when you actually enjoy what you’re listening to. Morgan does this especially well by adding in some clips of the artist’s actual songs in the background and foreground.