Response to Episode 25 of TRL

Episode 25: The Pod(cast) People Speak

These podcasts came in at a hugely handy time, as I was listening to them within a few days of recording my interview that was going to be the main body of my podcast. Listening to these – and other podcasts that we were assigned for this class – I’m slowly beginning to realize that I’m not a huge background music person. This is perhaps why I enjoy a very limited selection of podcasts. I’m a huge listener of NPR and BBC radio, which rarely has any embellishment. I think I was going to take my podcast in that direction, and listening to some of these podcasts solidified my intentions going into editing my podcast.

My biggest issue with Courtney Danforth and Harley Farris’ podcast (KairosCast) was that it sounded extremely scripted. When Danforth said “I’m really excited about using audio for some in class activities too”, the way she said it made it so obvious that she was reading off of a script right in front of her, which made it difficult for the listener (me!) to engage with the content. I was too distracted by her tone of voice and the forced way in which she was trying to feign enthusiasm as though it was a normal exchange/conversation. I thought Farris (the guy) was a little bit better, but I also cringed when he said at the end “I’m about to collapse over here” closing out the podcast, because again, it sounded so obvious that it was being read off of a script.

Besides the element of artificiality, it may be a personal aversion, but my philosophy when it comes to podcast production and editing is that the content should be the main focus. A sizeable population of listeners are already not going to be the best auditory information retainers, and having extra distractions certainly does not help. For instance, the chimes that they were ringing at the end of the podcast to signal that they were finishing up – also as an element of humor – was just plain distracting and cringeworthy.

I was also not a fan of “People, Place, Things”. The feedback noises that they inserted between their exchanges was so, so annoying – to an extent where I slightly felt nauseous after listening to it. However, at the end, I sort of thought – maybe they were trying to stir up this sense of annoyance in their listeners to communicate their message that a podcast is ultimately anchored in an entertainment model. However, the background music and the random screeches (from the feedback noise they inserted between words in a sentence!) made it extremely hard to enjoy the podcast.

However, i thought Eric Dettweiler’s podcast was BRILLIANT – mostly because it fit in exactly to everything I experienced when I interviewed Megan for my podcast. This was my first time actually interviewing someone on tape, so I was extremely surprised when I listened to everything on playback and everything sounded extremely natural! I chose not to go with a script, because I was afraid of sounding like the first podcast. Instead, I wrote all the questions in advance and had it in front of me, and also on a whiteboard behind me so Megan could anticipate the questions that were coming up.

I think my experience as a coxswain however, helped me a lot. As part of my job, I’m always talking into a microphone, communicating messages and making calls to the guys in my boat. In order to get better, coxswains are encouraged to record their own voice and listen to it, no matter how horrific it sounds the first couple of times. I’ve also gone through this process, and  now am a little more comfortable with how I sound on tape. I think knowing the way you’re going to sound helps a lot when you’re taping an interview, because it allows you a little more leverage over the interview. I had that extra sense of confidence because I knew how I was going to sound when I listened to the tape later.

However, I did suffer from the “verbal tics” that Dettweiler mentions. The toughest part of the interview was when I had to tie Megan’s response to the former question to how I was going to frame the next question, and because a lot of that was “on the fly” and unscripted, there ended up being lots of awkward pauses as I chose the words in my head, and a lot of “ums”. Editing those out will be interesting – I have yet to do it but I don’t think it’ll be too difficult to do.

Overall, I’m excited to start editing my podcast, but in terms of stylistic choices I think I’m going to go very minimalistic with my background music/sound effect choices, and make it very content-based – because those are the podcasts I personally enjoy the most.

Response to Jessica Abel’s Podcast (Episode 5: You’re Not Lucky, You’re just Good)

This podcast was interesting because as a podcast I would not consider it as a well-produced – but the content was really useful to me as I am planning on interviewing someone for my final audio project. A quote that stuck to me throughout the podcast was “anyone telling stories can understand this idea: you prepare and prepare, you dive in deep, and then something clicks, and it’s like a little bit of magic, and you find the thing that makes an unforgettable scene, or turn, or feeling.” A podcast is a great tool not only to convey information to listeners that are always on-the-go, but it’s also a great tool to make things personal and tell a story.

I wasn’t a fan of this podcast because it all felt really disjointed – I understand that she was discussing the various different topics she had written about, but when she jumped around from pasta to Trish Trash the Roller Derby player, I got lost really quickly. The impression I got from this podcast was that it seemed more like an audiobook than a podcast, especially with her monotoned tone of voice and the various different clips that were spliced together without much transition or introduction in between. I think if she were to introduce different speakers or switch to a complete different speaker (a whole new soundbite, if you will), a small introduction would have been more helpful to the listener. Podcast listeners aren’t really always paying “full attention”, and unless you are paying full attention to this podcast it was easy to lose her in her train of thought.

I also found the background music when she was speaking quite distracting, because it was too repetitive and commercial. This also added to the confusion, because there was a lot of different background music coming from all of these different clips weaving into one another. I understand this because part of being a producer is being a curator, but I feel like she had her hands in too many baskets for this one.

However, I found the content to be EXTREMELY useful. I’m going to be interviewing a couple of friends of mine who attended the March on the 21st in Washington D.C., and knowing how to approach that interview will serve to be very useful. I was going to go into it with a blank slate, just so that the exchange can be more conversational. Although this approach works, a better one is to set the “interview arc” before you go in – so you have an idea of what the whole narrative is going to look like. As the producer suggests in this podcast, I think I’m going to give Megan (my sorority sister who attended the march) a call beforehand to ask her some pre-interview question to vet her and find out whether or not if she is a suitable candidate. I also have a couple of interesting interview questions I want to ask her, like “when did you start doing this (interested in feminist issues)?”, “what did your parents think about you participating?”, “tell me about your commute there.”. I’m also going to approach this as me being someone knowing NOTHING about the march, so that I can get simple and honest answers without any self-selecting responses or forced responses.

 

Infographic Project (Final)

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Rationale:

The Women’s March on Washington D.C was held on Saturday January 21st, 2017 – the day after President Donald Trump’s Inauguration. It received much attention, mostly due to the historic number of those that attended the marches held all around the world, but due to the sheer amount of social media presence the march boasted. I wanted to create an infographic that eye-catchingly portrayed what made the women’s march unique as a March, but also as a Women’s rights movement of the age of Web 2.0.

To defend a couple of artistic choices made on the infographic, I chose not to create my own title header but go with the logo of the March instead because the logo itself is already text-based. The bigger reason however was due to the amount of social media attention the march received – the logo of the March is already familiar to many and will create firsthand recognition for readers to know what the infographic is going to be about. I wanted to go with the dark blue background so I made sure the color was compliant with the dark blue chosen by the Women’s March media team. The pantone color was not available for public consumption but I was able to extract it using Photoshop.

As you can see, each section was streamlined using the same title text background of a light blue search bar. I wanted it to signify the importance that Facebook had to this march, so I chose the title text background to one that resembles a Facebook search bar. I wanted the text to pop so I used white for all textual content, and dark blue for all the titles. I wanted to ensure that the infographic on the whole looked clean, well-executed and sharp – and also compliant with the existing media content put forward by the Women’s March – so the color choices and overall minimalist look were important.

I initially wanted the top right white text box to be a “quick elevator speech” introducing the March, but the infographic was already appearing to be too content-heavy. I was torn between putting a quote or an image. My draft version included a quote but in the last minute I made a decision to change it to an image depicting some protestors. I thought it would be more eye-catching next to an already content-heavy section explaining the origins of the movement.

In terms of the content, the most important part of the infographic (the “meat” of the graphic) is always the middle section. There I wanted to put the key focus issues of the movement – reproductive healthcare, equal pay, LGBTQIA+ and rights of marginalized women, racial inequality and sexual violence – in a manner that would be quick and easy to read. I did that by overlaying white text that looks like a staircase leading up to the most vocalized issue on top of a transparent clipart of a female professor. Next to it I wanted to draw attention to some numbers and figures about the march – because it is something that not many people who are familiar with the march even know about. By strategically emboldening the numbers, I hoped to ensure that they popped in the readers’ eye.

The most important goal I wanted to achieve through this infographic was for readers to walk away with information they otherwise would have spent more time searching for on their own. Despite the great amount of social media attention the march received, not many are familiar with the origins of the march and the details of how many were in attendance, what the social media presence looked like in numbers, etc.

The section that I was most excited about was the third section, featuring key tweets about the March and the most liked instagram post posted on the day of the March. First, I thought it would be a nice break from the content-heavy nature of the graphic, but second and most importantly, I thought it was valuable to feature the backbone of the movement in its raw form – as screenshots of the actual tweets that were retweeted and liked countless times generating buzz for the movement.

The last section of the infographic was devoted to explaining future efforts put forward by the movement. I wanted to keep this section brief because I wanted to send the message across in a manner where the reader could go forth and look it up themselves. The Women’s March steering committee has put forward a plan for “10 actions in 100 days” in order to bring about change on a day-to-day basis. By stating that the goal “as of April 2017” was to write to your Senator about women’s issues of your interest, I wanted to appeal to the reader to go forward and read up on ways he or she could do that. Below that, I put in emboldened, colored words “#HearOurVote”, which is the primary hashtag that is being used by the Women’s March twitter account to disseminate their message about the importance of civic duty for women in the age of Trump’s administration.

If there was one thing I wanted the reader to take away from this infographic, I wanted them not only to get a bird’s-eye view of the march, but also familiarize themselves with facts they may not have had access to by just skimming headlines about the movement.

Sources:

Braun, Justine. “Instagram Posts from Women’s March Outnumber Posts on Election Day by 40,000.” Spredfast. N.p., 1 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Cohen, David. “Twitter: 12 Million Inauguration Tweets Friday, 11.5 Million Women.” Adweek. N.p., 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Groskopf, Christopher. “One out of Every 100 Americans Took to the Street for the Women’s March, According to Estimates.” Quartz. Quartz, 22 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Heath, Hélène. “Women’s March: The Big Social Media Footprint.” Dash Hudson Blog. Dash Hudson Blog, 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Karlan, Sarah. “Just A Few Of The LGBT Signs People Carried At The Women’s March.” BuzzFeed. N.p., 21 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Kearney, Laila. “Hawaii Grandma’s Plea Launches Women’s March in Washington.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 05 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Matthews, Lyndsey. “Here’s the Full Transcript Of Angela Davis’s Women’s March Speech.” ELLE. N.p., 21 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Parlapiano, Tim Wallace and Alicia. “Crowd Scientists Say Women’s March in Washington Had 3 Times as Many People as Trump’s Inauguration.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Przybyla, Heidi M., and Fredreka Schouten. “At 2.6 Million Strong, Women’s Marches Crush Expectations.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 22 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Tiffany, Kaitlyn. “The Women’s March Proves That 21st Century Protest Is Still about Bodies, Not Tweets.” The Verge. The Verge, 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Tolentino, Jia. “The Somehow Controversial Women’s March on Washington.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Waddell, Kaveh. “The Exhausting Work of Tallying America’s Largest Protest.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Marwick & Boyd (2010) Response

In Marwick & Boyd’s 2010 study on context collapse in the age of Web 2.0 – more specifically in reference to Twitter – they raise points that are immensely relevant to my study of the Women’s March on Washington and the importance of knowing your audience to maximize the effectiveness of social media as a tool for social change.

Although it wasn’t as relevant to my social movement of choice, I thought the aspect of “strategic self-commodification” brought up by the researchers were useful in understanding our behavior on these various social media platforms. Marwick & Boyd argue that Twitter has allowed for the rise of “microcelebrities”, and how the content we post on these platforms are affected by the audience we imagine to be consuming our content. The break that exists between audience imagined and audience invoked is often what drives our behavior to produce and post content that pleases everybody.

In the article, Marwick & Boyd bring up Joshua Meyrowitz’ work “No Sense of Place” (1985) which ascribes the rapid rise of social change in the 1960s to the popularization of electronic media like television and radio “eliminating walls between separate social situations”. According to Meyrowitz, a situationist, situations make up our social order and the rise of a whole new dimension of self-expression brought down the conventional walls of social expression.

This article was published right around the time twitter was gaining popularity (Twitter was established in 2006; this article was published in 2010) so I think some of the analysis is now a little bit outdated. Marwick & Boyd argue about the use of twitter as primarily being to maintain followers and “create and market a personal brand”. I don’t think that the researchers foresaw the capability twitter had to become an entire driving force behind social movements, instead of just being a simple tool and facilitator. The researchers talk about “leveraging” the twitter platform – but now it is so much more than that. It is a whole new driving force of its own.

To dive a little bit deeper into my social media movement of choice, the Women’s March serves for interesting discourse because its social media campaign embodies every single part of Marwick & Boyd’s argument about audience engagement on social media. Earlier I talked about the use of Twitter as an essential tool for starting and maintaining a social fervor towards action or change. The Women’s March actually started on Facebook as a social media platform, with the idea of a March suggested on a popular political facebook page “Pantsuit Nation”. The idea galvanized into an entire March, soon taken up by a steering committee of experienced social activists wanting to make it into a National movement for Women’s Rights in the age of Trump.

Social media was essential in the promotion of the March, however one of its main critiques was that it had no use on the day itself at the physical site of the event. The march was attended by upwards of 3.3 million people across the world, and almost 470,000 people attended the March on Washington. Due to the size of the crowd, almost all forms of communication on the site of the event was paralyzed – no cell service, data connection whatsoever. News Media “The Verge” criticizes the lack of awareness on the kinds of logistical issues the March would face on the day of the event, and that it was lamentable social media was only “useful on the outskirts of the protest and afterwards, to digest dispatches that had been sent whenever a signal could be ferreted out”. This outlines and emphasizes the limitations social media has as a tool for social change – its seemingly boundless capabilities are easily curtailed by simple technological boundaries.

More relevantly to the article, the efforts of the March to remain as “inclusive” as possible was also a difficult feat to achieve. One of the biggest issues the movement ran into was initially when the march was titled “The Million Women’s March”. For some white women, this resonated too much with the 1997 March led primarily by Black women decrying their disenfranchisement. Some Journalists also argued against the march being branded as a “women’s march” – that it seemed like an “anti-fascist bachelorette party” for a “group of girlfriends who had failed to elect a female president”. This level of infighting is common for social media movements that use social media as their main tool to propagate their message.

The March has made every effort to be as inclusive as possible. It’s Guiding Principles make an effort to cover every marginalized population, using only female references where necessary. Their twitter account more than regularly posts about issues of race, reproductive health and voter disenfranchisement without references to a specific gender. Their hashtag campaign to increase voting behavior amongst women is #HearOurVote and not #HearHerVote. However, still a majority of their content is focused on Women’s Issues, staying true to their identity as the “Women’s March”. I personally think this is crucial, because trying to please everyone ends up leaving nobody satisfied.

Sources:

Marwick, Alice, and Danah Boyd. “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse and the Imagined Audience.” New Media & Society 13.1 (2010): 114-33. Web.
Tiffany, Kaitlyn. “The Women’s March Proves That 21st Century Protest Is Still about Bodies, Not Tweets.” The Verge. The Verge, 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.
Tolentino, Jia. “The Somehow Controversial Women’s March on Washington.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Quick introduction to the Women’s March on Washington 2017

The Women’s March on Washington was held on January 21st, 2017 in Washington D.C near the U.S. Capitol. The website states the event as a “grassroots effort comprised of dozens of independent coordinators at the state level”, with a mission statement as follows:

The March as a movement demands national attention to the idea that Women’s rights are human rights, “regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability”. (https://www.womensmarch.com/mission/)

The three women who helmed the movement were titled as the “National Co-chairs” of the March. They are Tamika D. Mallory, a renowned social justice activist and New York City-based consultant, Carmen Perez, civil rights activist and Director of nonprofit “The Gathering for Justice” that seeks to build alternatives to incarceration and violence, and Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American-Muslim racial justice and civil rights activist and “social media maverick”. (https://www.womensmarch.com/team)

The March’s homepage states that aside from the main Women’s March on Washington, there were 673 “Sister Marches” that were held all around the United States and the world, with a total of 4,956,422 attendees. (https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters)

The demands of the March are plain and simple: affordable birth control, equal pay and healthcare equality for transgender Americans. The movement and March was sparked by the election of Donald Trump as president in the 2017 Presidential Election and the various threats to Women’s rights that followed.

The Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles of the March simplifies the goals of the movement to the following (abridged and reworded for brevity). Find the original document here.

  1. Gender Justice = Racial Justice = Economic Justice
  2. Women have the right to live a life free of violence to our bodies.
  3. Justice for Police Brutality, Sexual Assault and Racial profiling against all women of color and Indigenous people.
  4. Dismantling the gender and racial inequalities against women in the Criminal Justice system and preventing sexual violence against incarcerated women.
  5. Promotion of Reproductive Freedom and fighting against any form of federal, state or local restrictions on all women’s ability to access reproductive healthcare, birth control, family planning, abortion and STI/HIV prevention.
  6. Standing in solidarity with LGBTQIA individuals and demanding equal treatment in healthcare for these individuals with full anti-discrimination protection regardless of gender identification
  7. Equal pay for equal work and workplace anti-discrimination against indigenous women, lesbian, queer and trans women
  8. Domestic and Farm workers have the right to a living minimum wage. Sex workers must be included in labor protections. Exploitation for sex and labor is a violation of human rights.
  9. We must seek to break barriers and stand in solidarity with women with disabilities.
  10. We seek an all-inclusive amendment to the 14th Amendment, as the current amendment does not serve to guarantee equity on the basis of race and/or sex. This will be referred to as the “Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S Constitution” and will guarantee equal rights without regards to race or gender, with each citizens’ vote counting equally.
  11. Immigrants and refugees deserve equal treatment regardless of status or country of origin and should not be subject to mass deportation, family detention or violation of due process. Migration is a human right and no human being is illegal.
  12. Every person in the United States deserves access to clean water, clean air, and public lands. We demand that our land and natural resources be preserved and protected from corporate exploitation.
  13. We must stand in arms to fight aggression caused by a war economy and fight back to a select party of wealth that use their political, social and economic influence for their personal agenda.

Source: Women’s March on Washington. Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles. Women’s March on Washington. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2017. 

Other cited sources:

“Mission & Vision.” Women’s March on Washington. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.

“March Committee.” Women’s March on Washington. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.

“Sister Marches.” Women’s March on Washington. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.

The Editorial Board. “What the Women’s March Stands for.” The New York Times. N.p., 20 Jan. 2017. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.