Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Life at UF's J-school

As the semester ends along with my time at the University of Florida, I have a lot to be happy about.  I'm truly blessed to be in the position I'm in.  I will graduate from UF's College of Journalism and Communications with a degree in Telecommunication-News.  I learned here how to find the lead, gather news, and inform the public - but it's much more than that.  I've gained experience.  Before I'm even out of college, I've had the chance to Anchor, Report and Produce in a real, working newsroom at WUFT-TV and WUFT-FM.

Anchoring WUFT'S First at Five 

We're so lucky to have the program we have at the University of Florida.  We have very knowledgable professors and access to unique facilities.  Some of these facilities include the Innovation News Center (INC), and the Center for Media Innovation + Research (CMIR).

(Photo courtesy of UF CJC)

The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications is a top J-school in the country and is a school that aims to prepare exemplary professional practitioners and scholars for journalism and communications fields and to generate and exchange new knowledge about these fields.  Not only that, but also to gain memories.  I have to say I couldn't have asked for a better college experience.  I love my school, my professors, and my classmates.  Some of the people I've met here at UF I know will be lifelong friends (trying not to sound too cliche here).  And many of the people I've met here are going to go on and make their mark and do well in the news business.  I'm so grateful for the friendships I've made here during my time in Gainesville, thanks to this college.  

Lauren and I work in the newsroom together on Thursdays now, but met back in Fall 2011.
This is one of the friendships I've made here that I know will stay with me past graduation.  

One of the most important lessons I've learned at UF is to be confident - not just when it comes to the news.  Of course it's crucial in the news world, because if you're not confident in the newscast you're anchoring or the story you're reporting, it's going to show and the viewer is going to not only lose interest but also lose their confidence - in you.  

With that being said, my confidence has been challenged at UF.  I've had stories I wanted so badly to report turned down in pitch meetings.  People thought I was crazy when I said I've never used Final Cut Pro when I first got here.  I even considered switching my major to PR the day after taking the News Test thinking I failed (I found out 2 weeks later I had passed).  

Despite losing my confidence from time to time, in the long run I know I've gained it.  Getting my final PKG grade back today and receiving a 105 grade and recommendation to air by my Investigative professor..  My feature PKG on a local competitive cheer team having over 2000 views on YouTube.. Holding down two jobs last Spring semester with a full time class load and getting all A's..  Graduating next Saturday with Honors.. So many things I know I can walk away from UF feeling totally confident about.  Confident that if I keep working hard, it will pay off.  I can thank the people I've met, and lessons I've learned in Weimer Hall for this.  

On a lighter note, a quote written above the doorway in CMIR has resonated with me today:  "Get it first, but - first get it right".  Another lesson I'll keep with me as I begin my career in the media field.  

Though the legendary Ricky Bobby would argue this.
While the equally legendary Ron Burgundy would say this:  

Thank you UF for a great time in college, and all the knowledge and wisdom I've had the opportunity to gain!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to achieve "The Tipping Point"

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point takes a look at trends and fads and how they fit into our society.  He explains how some trends come and go, while others stay forever.  This makes me think of Miley Cyrus – I pray what she is/how she presents herself right now is just a fad and goes away soon.  I like to think she’ll be out of style one day and just a thing of the past.  (I will always remember her as Hannah Montana, bless her heart).  While Miley is hopefully just a temporary trend, I believe Jackie Kennedy Onassis and everything she was will always be a trend that’s in style forever, that has achieved the tipping point.  She was a classy woman who was always stylish and timeless.  But how did Jackie achieve this lifetime status?  Gladwell explains. 

Gladwell writes how different patterns influence trends.  The factors that play into those patterns of trends make up lots of different things.  A trend isn’t just a type of clothing or hairstyle.  A trend can be something like a sickness that spreads.  For example, the University of Florida is quite a large campus with many students going in and out of classes.  Chances are if a few students come down with the flu and go to class or hang out in common areas like the library – that flu bug will spread to other students.  Next thing you know that trend has caused the infirmary to be working overtime with loads of students coming in and out. Gladwell describes how the processes that makes these trends and fads happen – whether it’s sickness spreading or a fashion trend – are somewhat similar.  To become a trend it has to have consistent success – but to hit the “tipping point” into wide-scale popularity certain factors have to come to play. 

The Law of the Few
  • To achieve the tipping point, Gladwell argues the trend must pass the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.  The Law of the Few is the idea that certain types of people have to come up with the trend before the product can attain the tipping point.  These people are the Connectors, the Mavens and the Salesmen.  If these groups of people like the new idea or trend, then Gladwell writes how that idea has more of a chance of becoming successful. 

The Stickiness Factor
  • The trend or idea has to have the Stickiness Factor, or it has to be able to catch someone’s attention and basically stick with them.  The Stickiness Factor means that the trend will make people notice it and keep them focused on it.  Gladwell argues that the way the Stickiness Factor generates the trend or style is untraditional and unexpected.  If the trend can attain this, then the trend could break the tipping point. 

The Power of Context 
  • The final notion Gladwell says will help a trend overcome the tipping point is the Power of Context.  The context of the style or trend trying to hit the tipping point comes into play.  If even one factor changes or something in a group shifts, this could very much affect the trend in a way where it won’t tip.  On the flip side, if something happens to shift the way things are going for the trend or style, that context could cause the fad to tip. 

In all, Gladwell uses the book to look at how styles and trends achieve and maintain success.  To do so, they will include the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.  Hats off to Jackie O. – as her achieved status of a symbol of fashion and grace had all of Gladwell’s factors.  She is a perfect example of how her style is a timeless trend that will make pearls and classiness live on forever. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Making friends in the Gator Nation

The Gator Nation is a great family to be a part of.  I wrote about some of my classmates I'm close with in my last post, so I want to take the opportunity to get to know some of my other classmates here.
  • I formally met Rachel Stern when she came to my apartment dressed as a "minion" from Despicable Me for our Halloween Party.  I loved her costume and her personality.  Rachel's blog is about her very own celebrity encounters and she refers to herself as a "Stalkarazzi".  She writes about some neat encounters she's had, like meeting funny man Joel McHale.  
  • Mitchell Wohl is a Jacksonville native like myself.  I always see him reporting on Thursdays in the newsroom.  He's got a great blog about UF's theater program.  He's a theater minor and I think that's pretty cool - I had no idea!  From what I can tell by his reporting on Thursdays for WUFT, I know he's going to do very well with whatever he decides to pursue.  
  • Kevin Roberts is another familiar face on Thursdays as he is the Sports Anchor for our show, First at Five.  We've had a few classes together and I can tell he is passionate about sports and fitness, based on his blog dedicated to talking about working out.  Kevin interned at my work over the summer at First Coast News in Jacksonville and that's how I got to know him better.  

Telecomm Family

I can't stress enough how blessed I am to be a part of the Gator Nation and attending the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.  I've been given so many opportunities during my time here and some of those opportunities include meeting some pretty awesome people doing amazing things.
  • Lauren Rautenkranz is a news junkie like me and is passionate about telling feature stories.  She comes up with the coolest stand-ups!  Our nick-name for each other is "Fireball" (inside joke!) and our friendship is something I'm very grateful for, especially her always-positive attitude.  She anchors First at Five on Fridays, and reports on days I'm anchoring.  I look forward to see her bright smile and contagious optimism in the newsroom, and tailgating together on game days.  
  • Lisa Greenberg and I met a few semesters ago when we were paired up as partners in our TV1 class.  We made a great team and learned from each other - shooting and editing VOSOTs together for First at Five.  We shared horror stories about working on projects and losing clips we had shot on dysfunctional SD cards.  But we always had a great time working together on our TV shifts and I always love running into Lisa on our many days in the WUFT newsroom.  
  • Courtney Allen is a super cool girl and even COOLER because we both share a love for two great musicians:  Taylor Swift and John Mayer.  I enjoy Courtney's blog because we have a lot of similar tastes that she writes about including but not limited to Swift and Mayer.  We also both love the show Scandal starring Kerry Washington.  Courtney has great investigative story-telling skills and I'm getting to know that more as we're in an investigative reporting class together this semester.  She's definitely got a lot going for her!  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Being Brittany

Originally a Philadelphia native, I'm not so much a city girl.  My family moved to Florida in 1997, right before my sister was born.  I'm the oldest of 3 siblings and I'm blessed to be a part of a very close family.  My family was the first to move to Florida - for my Dad's job.  Shortly thereafter my Grandmom moved down, then my Aunt and Uncle along with my cousin, and a few years later my Great Aunt Karen and my other Aunts and Uncles.  We all relocated from Philadelphia to sunny Jacksonville, Florida to be together and I am so grateful for that.  All of us - brothers, sisters, cousins - are very close.  Family gatherings are the best because there's always plenty of people, food, fun, and love.  We live near water, enjoying the sunshine and the small-town life in a little place called Fleming Island where you literally can't go anywhere without seeing someone you know or someone in my family.  In my book, it's paradise.  This is where I want to live forever.

When I was younger, I was very involved in sports.  My brother and sister were too.  My mom always took my sister and I to cheer and dance, while my dad was with brother at baseball and football.  Times got very hectic where we wouldn't see each other a lot because everyone was traveling.  But it made our time when we did see each other more genuine.  The time we spent traveling I was competing all over the country with my team.  I loved cheerleading.  It really did help shape my character.  Cheerleading taught me leadership, work ethic, teamwork, trust, and allowed me to make friends and memories I'll never forget.

After I retired from cheerleading my junior year in high school, I really started to focus on what I wanted to do with my life.  I always knew I wanted to be a Gator.  And now that I wasn't distracted by cheerleading I was able to focus on another passion: TV news.  I was in my third year at my high school's Television Production Academy - an exclusive program to our school, the only TV Production program of its kind in our county.  Our teacher, Mr. Roberts, gave me the opportunity to start producing our daily newscasts, then anchoring them.  I had a big responsibility, usually eating my lunch in the control room while I wrote the show and made graphics.  Our show aired at the end of the day so I had TV class 6th period, when I would anchor it.  I realized this is what I want to do and made it my goal to pursue this field at the University of Florida.  Just a few days ago I had the opportunity to come back to my alma mater and MMJ a story about teens and social media (during homecoming week - hence "Cat in the Hat" in the photo below).  I've also been given the amazing opportunity to be a member of the TV Production/Photojournalism Academy Advisory Board.

One person who's had a huge impact on my life is my Grandmom.  She always treated her grandchildren equally but I swear I was one of her favorites.  If I wasn't traveling with cheer or busy with school I used to go spend the weekends at her house and we'd just watch movies together (usually Mama Mia!), eat ice cream with pretzels, and hang out.  She was one of my best friends.  She was not like a typical grandmother at all.  Our "thing" was traveling.  We went to Philadelphia, New York, the Jersey Shore, cruised to the Bahamas, and our best trip: a 2 week cruise in Europe.  That trip was for my high school graduation and it was amazing.  We had the best time learning the history of all the countries we visited and going to countless castles, palaces and museums.  I love history like my Grandmom did and that was something we shared.  She passed away unexpectedly a few years ago after a simple gallbladder surgery went wrong.  She was a two-time breast cancer survivor but healthy as she could be.  She was involved in line-dancing, and volunteered at Marineland for fun.  She was not the typical grandmother, as I've mentioned.  I still miss her everyday and I still get upset thinking about her not being here because we didn't really have time to say goodbye.  Despite that, I was able to share 20 years with her and those years were filled with so much love, fun and memories.  I learned a lot from her and I know she's proud of me.  I'm still a traveler and want to eventually cruise the Mediterranean like we had planned, but never got to do.  I'm going on a cruise next week actually, and bringing her white floppy hat she wore when we went to the beach all the time - so it'll be like she's coming with me on this trip, but in spirit.

As of now, I'm a coffee-addicted college senior at the University of Florida studying Telecommunication-News.  I love story-telling and news, so I am exactly where I need to be.  I've been blessed with so many opportunities and experiences at UF that I can't imagine getting anywhere else.  I landed at job in my home-town of Jacksonville for a year as an Associate Producer.  I earned some money while gaining even more experience so I lucked out big time rather than having to do an unpaid internship.  I even got some air time on Friday nights reporting on upcoming weekend happenings.  Back in Gainesville at UF, I'm MMJ reporting and anchoring for WUFT-TV.  I've made some amazing friends in Gainesville and couldn't be more happy with where my life is going.  I'm graduating in December with honors and can't wait to see what the future holds.

Google Brittany -- YouTube or Brittany Bassler
First Coast News -- Jimmy & Brittany in Jax
Resume -- Brittany Bassler

Monday, October 28, 2013

Brittany Bassler's Resume

(904) 626-5241
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication-News
GPA:  3.6/4.0
Graduation: December 2013

Broadcasting Experience 
WTLV/WJXX-TV First Coast News, Jacksonville, FL                             June 2012 - July 2013
Associate Producer
  • Produce content for weekday 5PM shows and weekend morning shows 
  • Build segments, choose and write stories for the newscasts using ENPS
  • Write/edit web stories for station website
Assignment Desk Editor
  • Oversee breaking news and viewer tips that come in to the newsroom 
  • Relay information to producers and coverage managers 

WUFT-TV News, First at 5, Gainesville, FL                                           August 2011 - Present 
Multimedia Journalist
  • Pitch lead-worthy stories in the morning editorial meeting
  • Contact sources to gather further information for the story 
  • Shoot b-roll, stand-up and interviews using a P2 camera
  • Edit video and tracking using Final Cut Pro 
  • Tease story on social media 
  • Finished PKG airs live on WUFT-TV, Gainesville's PBS affiliate 

WUFT-TV News, First at 5, Gainesville, FL                                           August 2013 - Present
Main Anchor
  • Anchor a live 30-minute newscast on Gainesville's PBS affiliate 
  • Assist producer in writing copy and VO stories, as well as teases 

Fleming Island High School Television Production Academy                August 2013 - Present 
Advisory Board Member
  • Collaborate with alumni and others in the broadcasting field 
  • Create ideas for the direction of the academy 
  • Offer suggestions for lesson plans, projects and field trips for students 
  • Visit classes and speak to students about my experiences in the field 

       Axis Graphics
       Final Cut Pro
       Shooting video using P2 cameras
       Writing and editing for broadcast and web 

Lewis Turner
  • Anchor/Reporter, WTLV/WJXX - First Coast News, (904) 633-8808
Mike Lyons 
  • Reporter, WTLV/WJXX - First Coast News, (904) 633-8808
Mark Roberts
  • Television Production Academy Director - Fleming Island High School, (904) 215-6500

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What does the FWC do?

When people think of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, many people think of game wardens (this is a pet-peeve of Travis').  The folks at FWC do much more than just monitor hunting areas and enforcing those laws and issuing hunting/boating licenses.  All of these things are important but some of the other things they do are pretty neat too.

The FWC is involved in many projects across the state that research things like breeding, migrating patterns, biology of the animals, and of course conservation efforts.  They strive to educate the public about wildlife and teach people about what they can do to help preserve Florida's wildlife and their natural habitats.

I encourage you to get to know more about the FWC and I plan to post more about specific research they've done that's helped manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of you and I.