Sunday, February 17, 2008


We arrived at the Missouri School of Journalism about 10 a.m. in the middle of the third round of voting for the Sports Action category.

We sequestered ourselves in the dark cavern that is Tucker Forum in Gannett Hall and watched images flicker across the screen until about eight p.m.

Each judge is armed with a remote control that transmits an "in the next round" or an "out of the next round" vote to a box, which resounds with a loud click when the votes are in. The student managing the box cries out relentlessly click after click:

"Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out."

"In." (You suddenly perk up and concentrate on the screen.)

"Out. Out. Out."

We saw some amazing images this first day. The categories were Sports Action, Sports Feature and Sports Story.

By far, the biggest learning came in the composition of a picture story. The thing that makes a good picture story is diversity. Use different lenses! Never use the same shot twice. Go for different shots. Get tight. Get wide. Use leading lines. Use thirds. And, equally as important, your editing must be consistent and seamless.

Ruth Fremson, photojournalist for the New York Times, explained it perfectly: Each photo in the story should be like a paragraph in a news story. You have your lead, your nut graf, your kicker, etc., and each of the photo/grafs should fill the role of telling an important aspect of the story as a whole.

And we saw some incredible picture stories. Check it.

Sitting in a chair for 10 hours is hard work. You're constantly trying to find a comfortable position. You cross your legs. You uncross. You prop your feet on the low wall in front of you. Pretty soon, the wood cutting into your ankles becomes your focus, so you take your legs down to resume circulation. You pull your knees to your chest. You slouch in your chair and stretch your legs. Back aching. Stomach growling. Eyes tired. Needing to fart.

Soul inspired.

It's so worth the minor discomfort. It's worth the six hour drive. It's worth having your parents upset that you skipped class.

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