Hit the Slopes

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Former Christian Science Monitor photographer talks video journalism

Mary Knox Merrill showed the class clips from her multimedia portfolio.

Former Christian Science Monitor photographer and current Northeastern University staff photographer Mary Knox Merrill visited our Reinventing the News class Thursday, Feb. 16. She spoke about her experience at the Monitor and at Northeastern, in particular focusing on video news segments.

Of the clips she showed the class, my favorite was probably the story about the Congo’s gorillas and the people who protect them. The subject matter was really interesting. An editing technique I thought was interesting was Merrill’s use of still photographs of the villagers and recorded audio. By adding in the natural sound of the villagers at work and play, Merrill brought the still images to life. I think this one video presentation weaved together the video and photos Merrill had to work with very well.

Merrill also showed the class a Christian Science Monitor piece about “poverty tourism.” This piece was a little more intimate than the gorilla piece because Merrill not only shot and edited the video but also interviewed all the people herself. There was no reporter writing a script for her; the poverty tourism piece is 100 percent her own work. I’m not quite sure what makes it more familiar. Maybe it’s the fact that the narrator is female, and female voices tend to be more soothing. Somehow it just feels more like the viewer is there with Merrill while she’s reporting.

The last video segment she showed the class was a public relations piece about a Northeastern professor’s research. I could tell it was a public relations piece and not a news video segment. There were a lot more video effects and use of dramatic music. At times the video almost felt like a movie trailer. I liked the variety of camera angles Merrill used in the interview with the professor. It made the straight video of the interview much more dynamic.

Though I love writing, I honestly think video journalism tells a more captivating story than a newspaper ever could. It’s just so much more engaging, involving more senses than a typical newspaper experience. People nowadays are accustomed to watching things rather than reading things. Over the water cooler, most people would talk more about a television show they regularly watch than a book they started reading. It comes with the culture. Video journalism is the logical next step.

I took the photo of Mary Knox Merrill when she visited class Thursday, Feb. 16.

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