Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Journalism students at UF whisper “reporting” and “Foley” in fear. It is supposed to be the hardest class in the curriculum, but the same is said of many classes.

I made the mistake of overloading myself the semester I took reporting. I never believe people when they say a class is hard. My classes have always been as easy as the teacher was engaging. With 15 credits and a part-time job, between Mike Foley and Ted Spiker, the class wasn’t hard, just time consuming.

I remember the first article I got back. 0 points. I started cracking up. And then buckling down.

Reporting was about paying attention. Pay attention to what goes on around, what could turn into a story, what isn’t a story, what’s new and different and interesting. What do you focus on at an event, covering a speech, writing an obituary? I learned to dress nicer when I had to interview someone at school, to wheedle information out of secretaries and receptionists, and that no one at City Hall would call me back no matter how many messages I left.

Pay attention to your writing. It took me longer to proof-read an article than it did to report and write it. I got very paranoid, used different colored pens to circle punctuation, verbs, nouns… And it paid off.

I remember a few students deciding that they didn’t want to be journalists as a result of that class. The writing was too rigid, we could only write hard news, they were stuck in the world of Peter Parker and Hunter Thompson.

The purpose of reporting was to drill all of the rules deep into your mind, so that when you get into the real world, you know how to break them.

Classes in Review Series
Advanced Editing pt 1
Advanced Editing pt 2
Classes in Review: Advanced Editing pt3


Spring cliff notes, Summer plans

The obligatory end-of-semester post:

This semester has been the most fun and the most challenging so far. I spiced up my CSS skillz and learned enough Flash to be able to produce a good amount of what’s already being done as well as to push my myself further. I learned a lot about design, and am pursuing further studies on my own. I learned the value of a budget. I took driving lessons and will be getting my license and a car very soon. I made some very important connections to people in my department, people who can teach me and connect me with other VIPs. I had just enough free time to keep my head from exploding, but not so much that boredom got me into trouble.

I lined up two summer jobs that will add some experience to my resume so that I can get a great internship and then a great job. I will still be working at the Help Desk, but I also joined the new media department at the Independent Florida Alligator and will be updating and redesigning the Citizen Access Project Web site. I’m also taking an advanced editing course.

Having invested so much of myself in learning Flash and upgrading my coding abilities in the last few months, I’m eager to revisit storytelling and learn how to combine multimedia technology with extraordinary reporting. I don’t know if I’ll get that chance this summer, but I definitely will in the fall.


Gatorade + Pretzels + Diesel Fuel = Bonfire!

I took this video at the University of Florida Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) after-party in March. It’s a little long, but well worth it, I think. And yes, my hands are shaking.

I’ve decided I like Brightcove better than YouTube. Faster upload, better quality, nicer interface.


Preparing for the job

As all students do, I worry about how prepared I will be come graduation, to take a job in my field. Unlike many other majors, however, journalism is changing, and fast. So are the required skills.

Mindy McAdams, Ryan Sholin and Howard Owens, among many others, have blogged about the changing skill set of journalists.

Others in the field or education have reinforced basic reporting skills and ethics.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but it seems to me that, even having taken all the right classes and learned all the right things, getting a job will still be a challenge.

I got into journalism halfway through college. Many of my peers have had multiple internships; I haven’t even had one. Not that I don’t want to, or don’t think I can, but my circumstances have been such that I either wasn’t ready or I couldn’t afford to add an internship to a difficult semester.

Now, with (officially) a year left, panic sets in. I’ve several opportunities open to me, and my first thought is to try to take them all at once. A job at school that will expose me to the field. Working at the Independent Florida Alligator. An internship at The Gainesville Sun.

I know that, in addition to classes and my 20-hour work week, taking all three opportunities at once is a recipe for a psychotic break. What I don’t know is how to narrow down my options to what will be most beneficial to my career. Where will I learn more? Where will I get the most experience?


Gator Nation on Second Life

This one is for you, Peter.

As a student at the University of Florida, I’m exposed to a whole lot of Gator-crazy. It’s not something I buy into. I’m not here because UF has a great sports record, nor do I expect to feel any sort of nostalgic loyalty to the school after graduation.

To the teachers and people who helped me learn, yes. To the abstract concept of a Gator Nation…I don’t think so.

But, an article in the Gainesville Sun recently caught my attention: The Gator Nation now exists in virtual reality.

Second Life, the online digital world I’ve heard so much about (but to which I pay as much attention as the GN), is now home to a virtual Gator Nation.

And they used the word spawn. Love that.


The Porch Project

Aha! Found out what the mystery building is. From the flyer:

What is a porch to you? How do you use porches? Yesterday I asked what you thought this construct was. I got a lot of responses, all imaginative, and many, that were not what I was aiming for, but do contain many of the characteristics of space that I intended. My answer to “What do you think it is?” is a double-sided porch. In this building I wanted to create a space that captured the iconic quality of the southern porch, without building a replica. In this case there are two porches back to back to each other. In order to understand more fully how to capture the essence of a porch, I need to know what porch is to you.