Archive | April 2012

Book Review (One of my favorite journalism book)

When the book “Women in Science: Then and Now” was first published in the year of 1983, the title was “Women in Science: 100 Journeys into the Territory”. The book included the portraits of 100 gifted and spirited women scientists painted by Vivian Gornick, and it was the first time that many women in science saw their own doubts, fears, and frustrations—“to see their own experience mirrored”—in pages of the book..

Twenty-five years later, the effort for women throughout the academic world has been measurably made, and the situations of women scientists have also been largely improved. But more subtle forms of inequalities and obstacles in women’s science career still exist, and prejudices and discriminations become institutionalized and are not very apparent unless we know where to look.

In this new volume, besides keeping the powerful portraits of 100 uncommon women scientists, Gornick further includes the stories of the women scientists she has revisited twenty-five years later, which completely revealed those pioneering women’s rigorous minds, passion for discovery, and their overwhelming efforts to balance a productive life and professional survival. From those stories, we could not only read women scientists’ life, persistancy and struggles, but also see the changes and efforts done from 1980 to 2008 to improve the situation of women scientists, as well as the necessity and urgency of further improvement in real equality for females in science.

The author, Vivian Gornick, is an American critic, essayist, and memoirist. She wrote for Village Voice during the early 1970s and reported on the explosion of American feminist consciousness through the prism of her own experience, and her willingness to use her own life experiences to tell a larger social story has become the hallmark of her writing.

In this volume, she narrated the stories of women scientists by describing her interview experiences with them and compared women scientists’ situations in mid-eighties with that in the year 2008. Instead of writing a collection of women scientists’ biography, Gornick distributed those stories into the three parts of her book as supportive evidences: The first part is about the thinking pattern for scientists and the women scientists’ passion for discovery; the second part is about the negative influence of prejudices and discrimination in women scientists’ careers; the third part involves the women scientists’ efforts to balance a productive life with professional survival. And each part involves two sections: then and now. “Then” describes the women scientists’ situations in mid-eighties, while “Now” compares the situation in past with that in present (2008). This structure provides a clear narrative line, which exhibits the changes and efforts in the real equality in women scientists’ careers in the past twenty-five years.

Vivian Gornick is good at writing impressionistic journalism, and this volume is a good example. Besides, Gornick also likes using comparison, analogy and metaphors in developing her thoughts. For example, when she was trying to illustrate scientists’ mind, she first described a writer’s mind of conceiving a fiction, then compared it with scientists, concluding “scientists do what writers do.” Also, in her words, science—like feminism—becomes a means of “demystifying the self and the environment.” All those vivid descriptions and interpretation make readers engaged in her writings and get to her points quickly and easily.

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Discovery Life

The “Life” program is a series of amazing episodes in Discovery channel, and also one of my most favorates (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/life/).

The most frequenly word appearing in “Life” episodes is “extroordinary.” “Extroordinary scenes,” “extroordinary details,” “extroordinary enviroment” …Yes, it is indeed an extroordinary series, which show audiences animals in almost every corner of world and help people be able to reach animals as close as possible. This program makes me adore the beauty of nature and appreciate the amazing life varieties which are all the creatures of nature. And these episodes also make me realizing that we human beings is not the only amazing creature of nature mother, there are many other life forms that are very beautiful and astonishing, almost every kind of which have one amazing gift from mother nature.

Animals, plants, are all actors in “Life.” Toads catching  flies, Giant Lizards fighting for food, grasses eating insects, fish flying across the water surface…Almost every kind of animals in the world give a show on the “Life” stage, some of which we are familiar, others are not. It is obvious that animals cannot be natural actors, they simply do what they normally do.  Then, who make them good actors and behave so charming in front of the camera? The photographers and producing crews.

We could see the interviews of these people  in every short episode, and they answered our questions of how they could make such wonderful films. The use of special camera, sepcial shooting angles and sophisoficated editing effort all count for the success of this program. Like Series Producer Martha Holmes says :”We want to film in such a way, as audiences, they feel involved. When you are a bird, you are flying in the air…” Thus, People like me who sit in front of the screen would feel so close to the animals by following cameras to see extroordinary details of the actions of these creatures and would have a amazing feeling when we follow the camera to be able to “fly“ with birds and “swim” with whales.

I also prefer that in every episode, photographers or producers are invited to talk about their experiences of making these films. Because as audiences, many may wonder how these wonderful videos are made, and the interviewws help answer their questions. Sometimes, I think it may be dangerous for photographers to follow dangerous animals, such as shooting giant lizards to eat flesh or lions fighting for mates. More than one time, I saw from the episodes that photographers are setting just several steps to the dangerous animals, and I think they are real photographers and also really brave.

In a word, I like these episodes so much, which make me feel astonished and amazed by the greatness of nature.^_^

 

 

 

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My first Cut-In

The picture is the video capture of my first cut-in I did in Spring Break^_^,  but I cannot upload videos although I would like to because wordpress wonot allow uploading videos for free, haha~. After I did this first one, I shared my video with relatives and friends, and they are all excited and sending me their sincere compliments, comments, encouragement and best wishes. I remember there is a old saying that when you share your pain with your friend, it becomes half; when you share your happiness with your friend, it doubles. So, I feel multiple happiness this time from persons whom I love and who love me.

Doing cut-ins are very good and valuable chances for me to practice on-camera performance and standard English pronouciation. I like and enjoy communicating with audiences in front of camera. From training in B2 class, I know that anchoring is actually a comprehensive art which does not only need you read script correctly, but also need you to use your facial expression, eye contact and energy level to make the audiences build credit in you. Like my instructor says, you are telling stories, and you have to behave like telling stories to your friends, mom and beloved ones, so that you would look more approachable and audiences could also feel your sincerity.

For me- a non-native English speaker, I also need to make a lot of efforts in correcting mispronouciation and trying to make my voice sound clear and standard. This time, my pronouciation has been much more improved than before (quote from the News director)–although there are still problems, and I also  find reading a little bit slower and trying to pronounce each word clearly indeed help.

Besides, I find relaxing is an important point  in achieving good performance, although it is hard to completely relax when you sit in front of the camera. Being nervous would make you stuck or read wrong words, and also I think audiences would feel your mood in front of camera, when you are not relaxed, you look stiff and unnatural when you are telling stories.

Proper breathing is another thing I need to improve, and every time when I pay more attention on reading scripts correctly, I would forget proper breathing. Next time, it would be one of my  improvement targets.

Here I also would like to greatly appreciate my instructor, my friends, my relatives and a taxi driver who watch my show on TV for their comments and suggestions. My father told me that ” you should hear the opinions from experts, general audiences, people who know you and who don’t know you, and their suggestions combined are what you are going to impove every time.” Yes, this time I have all, and they are also very helpful and beneficial, Thank you! I would try to make progress every following time!^_^

Discovery News

Discovery channel is especially famous for its variety of documentary films which cover the topics of nature, spaces, technologies, history  and so on. For a long time, I am attracted by these wonderful programs, and seldom notice their news until recently. As a journalism student who is now studying broadcast news, I am curious about how science news is made, and find that different discipline indeed has marks on news-producing.

Here is the link to discovery news videos, http://news.discovery.com/videos/. From the webpage, we could see the topics of discovery news also covering various topics from UFO to new animal species, from planets to green energies, from weather to sports.  And on the right column of the webpage, it also shows top 10 discovery playlists in recent days, which indicates the most interesting topics that audiences cares.

Different from the general news or breaking news we have learnt from broadcasting class, discovery news may not necessarily happen on “today”–the “today” angle may not be as important as breaking news, but of course the news indeed happened recently. And the content of discovery channel pay more attention on explaining things. So we could frequently hear the words of “… is explained” in the outcue of the reporters in the news. Videos and interviews in the news are mostly helping make the audiences understand the reasons or principles behind the facts. For example, in the videos  of “UFOs over London Explained,” “Top 5 UFO Video Hoax Tips,” “Massive Northern and Southern light explained,”and “Get the Science Behind the Movies,” we could  see that the videos usually begin with a few interesting questions or videos that hook the audiences. For instance, in the clip of  “Massive Northern and Sourthen light explained,” the  news firstly shows a series of amazing and popular Youtube videos appearing on the line recently, and then reporter tosses out the questions which many audiences may wonder-“How these are created,” “where we can find it,” and “Why now,” which I think are very effective in arising and enhancing audiences’ curiosity and keeping them following the storie. Then the news videos usually involve experts to explain each questions or the phenomena. Like breaking news, discovery news use “glass hour” structure and the script is simple, short and easy to understand, visual aids are employed properly to help explaining the experts’ word.

By watching these videos,  I think the most difficult part and also the key of making good science news lie in how to transfer obscure scientific language properly to general audiences, or how to  explain the complicated scientific principles behind the phenomena through a simple way to the public. And as scientists, we know that we cannot simplify the scientific reason behind the phenomena too much or it would be true; as journalists, we know that we also cannot explain the facts too complex or audiences won’t understand. So, here needs balance and properly selects the emphasis of explanation. Thus, being well-learned in science knowlege and being skilled in  broadcasting languages are equally important in making good science news, which are two factors that determine whether science journalists could do a good job in bridging the science and general public, and making more people be able to appreciate the beauty of science.