We are officially in finals week here at Tech. Crunch time is upon students and faculty members, who are busy grading, averaging, and even preparing for next quarter.
My copy editing students, as you may recall, worked on a project with Ruston Nursing Home. The students went out in pairs to interview residents at the facility and produced lengthy feature articles highlighting their assigned resident.
The students were a little anxious about the project – not only because it was a large portion of their final grade, but also because they were unaccustomed to having to interview individuals with dementia or other memory problems. Not all of the residents had those issues, of course, but many did.
The stories – y’all. I was blown away.
Here are just a few snippets I had:
“Like sisters do, they had arguments, but (name removed) made it clear that she loved her sister when she cried over not being able to see or talk to her again. When she tried to talk about her other siblings, her words got lost and jumbled because of her health issues combined with her overwhelming emotions.”
“’He’s just a nice man; it’s as simple as that,’ she said. ‘He’s going to find me wherever I am, every day. And when I find him, I’m going to go over there and shake his hand, kiss him on his forehead and ask him how he’s doing. And he’ll say, “I’m doing beautiful.” And I’ll say, “You better be, because I love you.”’”
“She wouldn’t let the residents forget that it was her birthday, either. Her birthday request? Black-painted nails and a pack of cigarettes.”
They told stories – they told stories of individuals born in the 1920s, individuals who are in the nursing home because of physical injury, because of mental injury. They told the stories about babies being born, about marriages, about divorces, about careers and opportunities passed, about death and loss. These are real people they interviewed, real joy and sorrow they recorded, and real stories they told. This is the job of a journalist.
I did ask them about the project, if they liked it or didn’t like it, and they said they enjoyed it. They said they enjoyed talking with their resident and having the opportunity to flex their writing muscles with a lengthy paper instead of a shorter article, which they usually write.
I am proud of these students. They worked hard, they spent several hours talking with their residents, and they produced great work. This was a great class. They were smart and creative, but, then again, most of my students are.
So now, as we finish up the fall, I’m also preparing for winter – social media, media law, and introduction to mass media. And it’s going to be amazing.
For students wanting to prepare for one of these three classes, read/watch:
“Freedom for the Thought that We Hate” by Anthony Lewis (Media Law)
“Content Analysis in Mass Communication” by Lombard, Snyder-Duch, and Bracken (Intro to Mass Media)
“Making a Murderer” – Netflix documentary (Media Law and Social Media)
“Nosedive,” “Black Mirror” Episode, Season 3, Episode 1 – Netflix (Social Media)
See you this winter!