JOUR 275 Final Video Project

Here’s a video project I completed for my multimedia journalism class about Chicago, IL, which is near where I grew up. Enjoy!


Multimedia Journalism Takeaways

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.jpegThis semester flew by.

I still remember the striped blue dress I wore on move-in day in August. All the new freshman scurried around, moving into their dorms, attending orientation events and meeting new friends.

I can’t believe four months have already passed. Holy crap.

If I were to sum up my first semester of junior year in one word, it would be: growth.

The amount of growth I’ve done in the past four months is impressive, both mentally and emotionally.

Before this semester, I couldn’t tell you what Adobe inDesign was. I had no idea how to make audio soundslides, and thought the rule of thirds had something to do with dinner portion sizes.

The vast array of concrete skills I’ve attained this semester is something I’m very grateful for. For that, I have Tanya Canino, my journalism professor, to thank.

This semester, I took:

-Journalism Workshop


Multimedia Journalism


-Mass Media & American Society


I’ve been pushed to my stress limits in these classes, and at times, I’ve wanted to drop out. I seriously considered it once!

Even though the journalism-intensiveness of this semester has burned me out a bit, I can’t complain. I’ve gained so much in return, and am a lot mentally and emotionally tougher than I was before.

Multimedia Journalism, in particular, has taught me tons of worthwhile skills. Everything we’ve learned in this class can be applied in the future. Not one assignment was “busy work.” I can proudly say I’m walking away from the class with newfound skills in all aspects of multimedia journalism.

I know how to blog. I can upload content to a website. I can shoot photos and edit them on photoshop. I’ve got a handle on social media. I tweet. I can edit audio on audacity. I can create soundslides. I can create a personalized, interactive Google map. I can make a Storify. I can shoot and edit video.

Best of all, I’ve realized how fun and interesting these skills are, and plan to incorporate them into a future career.

Thank you SNC, and especially Tanya, for the stressful and wonderful semester full of constant discovery. I’m looking forward to taking Intermediate Multimedia Journalism this spring.


Embracing stillness: a reflective post

Commitment is something I struggle with a lot.

On the other hand, change could be my middle name. While most people have a hard time embracing change, I can willfully pick up my life at any given moment in exchange for a new experience or lifestyle. I find it exhilarating and can’t get enough.

After a few months of staying in the same place and doing the same thing, I get restless, antsy and crave new experiences.

As a junior in college, I’m already at my third school. Three colleges in three years – I should win an award. 😉

When the restlessness first came about six months into my freshman year at Northern Michigan University, I blamed it on the university. I claimed the school didn’t suit my needs.

I transferred to University of Illinois the following year.

I arrived at a state of discontent at U of I after the initial excitement of being at a new school wore off about three months in. I left after just one semester. Again, I said the school just wasn’t for me.

Resume to present. I’m at Sierra Nevada College, a beautiful, tight-knit, unique college with a caring community of faculty and students and a fantastic, hands-on journalism program. The school sits less than a mile from Lake Tahoe, with endless outdoor opportunities abound. I couldn’t ask for more.

However, yet again, the feelings of stagnancy and restlessness seeped into my mind over Thanksgiving Break, about 11 months after first enrolling.

The feelings were impossible to ignore. I laid in bed night after night, tossing and turning, riled up about my increasing disdain for the school I fell in love with less than a year ago. My own mind convinced me that I couldn’t stay. I clearly wasn’t happy.

I gave into the emotions and came to the conclusion that I needed something new to make me happy – a different degree, a semester off, a new school – anything that sparked change.

“I’m no longer passionate about journalism.”

“I need to take some time off to figure myself out.”

“This college isn’t right for me. Maybe, college in general isn’t right for me. Maybe I should just drop out.”

These thoughts flurried in my mind as I composed an email to my adviser, detailing my intent to withdraw. My parents were aware of my decision and told me they supported me, although I could hear the frustration and despair in their voices as this happened yet again.


I crave constant change and adventure. This can be a great quality to have, but it often prevents me from committing to things and sticking with them.

I was 95% sure I wouldn’t be returning to SNC in January two days ago.

However, this is no longer the case.

I’m lucky to have such an amazing support system here at SNC, as well as at home. Thanks to my supportive and knowledgable adviser, caring teachers and loving parents, they’ve helped me see the underlying issue with my “serial transfer syndrome”.

I’m working on finding gratitude and happiness in the present moment. I’m remembering why I chose SNC in the first place, and enjoying my time at this beautiful school while I’m still here. I’m prioritizing long-term goals (a.k.a. getting a degree), rather than just acting on short-term, impulsive antics.

Why would I leave a school where classes like this are part of the curriculum?

Change is impressive, but staying still also takes courage. Sticking around at SNC for my final year (only one more year…I can do it!) to get my degree will allow me to prove to myself and to others that I can show commitment in things that truly matter to me.


BLOGGING: awesome

Blogging is awesome. I love it.


Yet, for some strange reason, I’m only doing the bare minimum, which is writing about a post a week for my Multimedia Journalism class.

In college, I found that it’s hard to balance leisure activities alongside classwork, homework, and actual work.

When I do find myself with a block of free time, all I want to do is sleep. Or eat.

Despite this common challenge of the averagely-motivated college student, I am going to start spending more of my own time developing my blog.

There is something about expressing yourself through words that is fun, freeing and very constructive. Whenever I feel stuck, I like to write to figure out how I’m feeling.

Blogging is moving up on the priority list.

Plus, with the opportunity to make an income from blogging becoming bigger and more widespread, there’s no better time to start than now.

tweet tweet

twitter-iconI first activated my twitter back in high school. The extent of my usage of the social media site was limited to weird posts that didn’t make sense (I thought I was funny), angsty messages from overly dramatic high school me and plenty of “HAHA”s being thrown across the electronic walls with close friends.

Here are real examples from 2013 Steph:

“Reevaluating my priorities and discovering what truly matters”


“gonna eat until all these shitty feelings go away”

“I hate crying about situations you can’t change”

“Shut up mom”


If you ever want to confirm that you’ve grown and made progress as a mature human being, go back and look at your tweets from high school.

Jokes and embarrassment aside, my twitter usage died down after my freshman year of college. Facebook became cool again, and the turquoise icon got deleted off of my iPhone.

Fast-forward to 2015. Multimedia Journalism class. Teacher says we need to start tweeting.

Who would’ve thought that we could get class credit for tweeting? College journalism is pretty neat.

Over the past few months, I have grown to appreciate twitter in ways I couldn’t recognize back in high school. After cleaning up my “following” list and adding accounts that really did matter, I’ve become aware of the incredible connectedness the social media app provides.

For those wanting to stay in the loop, news through twitter is concise and to the point. There’s no need to fight through tons of meaningless content to find what you want to read. If you follow the right accounts, you can get all your necessary news from this one app.

The communication avenues through twitter are very open as well. A student can tweet to a CEO, a small business can communicate with potential customers, photographers can entice their followers with beautiful shots. There are so many possibilities for communication and outreach through twitter.

Although it does take dedicated, conscious effort to build a following and be successful, twitter is an invaluable tool when it comes to social media marketing. Whether an individual is marketing themselves or a business is growing their consumer base, twitter is at the forefront of the movement.

As I continue to be interested in writing and plan to pursue a career that involves social media, twitter is essential for me to master.

I will continue to post regularly on the app, and don’t worry, I can promise that the angsty, “deep” tweets are done with for good.

Follow me on twitter: @steph_coates8



The dark side of social media

This is important.

Essena O’Neill, a social media “celebrity”, has more than half a million followers on Instagram, 200,000 on YouTube and Tumblr, and 60,000 on Snapchat. Despite these impressive numbers, she is quitting social media for good. The 18-year-old Australian  has come to terms with her “perfect life” (as portrayed on social media) and is now taking a stand against the destructive ideals social media encourages.

Here is a great article by TIME illustrating her decision.

In this day and age, we put so much emphasis on validation and approval from others, especially through social media…I’m definitely guilty of it.

We stalk and obsess over popular instagrammers who seem to have perfect lives – beautiful faces, fit bodies, stylish clothes, amazing adventures, the list goes on.

We make it our goal to be like them. We strive to find happiness and fulfillment through the number of likes, views and followers we receive.

Social media has turned into a platform where we too often compete for likes and followers, and base our self-worth on how many people find our lifestyles cool and appearances attractive.

Why are we looking up to and admiring those whose success is merely based on how they look? There are far more admirable qualities to possess than just being pretty or sexy.

We should seek happiness and fulfillment through real human interaction, connection and praise, among other things, rather than through the screen of a smartphone and the logistics of an app.

Enjoy life’s moments. Stop worrying about documenting every single exciting moment of your life on camera so you can post it on facebook, snapchat, Instagram, or whatever social media outlet to validate your worth and prove something (prove what, exactly?) to those around you.

There are men and women making real, effective changes in today’s world. They are the ones who should be leading by example.

All of that being said, having lots of followers on social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re promoting or advocating for what you love, post significant, meaningful content, and are using social media to actually make a positive impact, then that’s awesome. Keep it up.

I applaud this girl for stepping back and looking at the big picture. I remember coming across her Instagram a few months back and feeling envious of her seemingly flawless appearance and luxurious lifestyle. It’s sobering to see that social media “fame” isn’t all that it’s made out to be, and can easily turn into an avenue of self-destruction.

Travel: an annual one-week escape from the corporate world, or a lifestyle?

I’ll choose the latter.


However, as a financially-inept college student, most would assume that traveling is not in my post-graduation itinerary.

It would be logical for me to take my journalism degree, move to a big city, and begin working for some type of news or marketing agency. I would get the job, get an apartment, adopt a cat, and begin to plant my roots in one place.

As exciting as this seems, it just isn’t the case.


My plans for my 20’s include moving to new places and taking up new experiences as often as my heart desires. This could mean teaching in Thailand for six months, taking part in a sailboat expedition on the South American coast for a year, working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean for some time, the list goes on. Settling down this young sounds boring and, well, awful.

Now that the ideology has been established……………………HOW?

Don’t fret, my friends.

There are plenty of  resources for nomadic, travel-minded people like you and I.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Go Abroad and Transitions Abroad provide job opportunities in countries all over the world for international workers.
  2. Backdoor Jobs and Coolworks advertise seasonal/short-term jobs relating to the outdoor industry. National Park jobs, ski-resort jobs, and even scuba dive instructor careers are all available on here!
  3. Workaway and WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) are work-exchange programs. You are usually provided with free room and board by your host, in exchange for a certain number of hours of work per week. Workaway hosts workers at hostels, farms, retreats, and the like, while WWOOFing primarily deals with organic farming. This is a great way to see the world and meet like-minded people without spending a lot of money.

While many people think full-time travel is impossible, it’s not. What makes it difficult is settling down and racking up recurring bills and expenses (think apartment rent, car insurance, etc.) If you’re willing to compromise on these typical luxuries and live an alternative lifestyle, traveling full-time is viable and an amazing way to live life.

My top 10 post-college travel destinations


I love it.

Kim Seng / flickr
Kim Seng / flickr

Every time I get on a plane to go somewhere new, the jittery butterflies in my belly begin to flutter. Something – well, actually everything – about traveling invigorates my soul.

When I graduate college, all I want to do is see as many places as I can, meet as many people as I can, experience as many cultures as I can, learn as many skills as I can, see as many new viewpoints as I can…you get the point. A steady, grounding career that keeps me in one place does not interest me one bit, at least not at the ripe age of 20.

Here are my top 10 travel destinations, all of which I plan to go to (and temporarily live in!) upon graduating:

New Zealand

Siyamalan I Flickr
Siyamalan / flickr

Here, the opportunities are endless. With breathtaking landscapes to see throughout the North and South islands, thriving metropolitan cities, adventure sports abound, and friendly, open-minded locals, there really is no downside to New Zealand.

Costa Rica

Chris Wronski / Flickr
Chris Wronski / flickr

Surfing, anyone? The Central American country’s pura vida lifestyle encourages a laid-back lifestyle that no one can protest.


xiquinhosilva / flickr
xiquinhosilva / flickr

Thailand is something of a travel hub for all of Southeast Asia, so it’s a great place to start for those wanting to explore surrounding countries. Beautiful leafy jungles, famous sandy beaches, delicious thai cuisine (!!!) and affordable prices make this place tough to beat.


Khanh Hmoong / flickr
Khanh Hmoong / flickr

Street life in Vietnam is safe and colorful, making it a great destination for young travelers. With the unique mountains, sandy beaches and welcoming locals, you won’t want to stay inside.


*saipal / flickr
*saipal / flickr

Laos, another quaint country in Southeast Asia, also boasts beautiful scenery, friendly locals, and is quite safe for solo travelers. Plus, it hasn’t gained too much popularity on the travel spectrum, so it’s not yet overrun with tourists.


Kyle Taylor / flickr
Kyle Taylor / flickr

Ever since reading Jamie Zeppa’s book, “Beyond the Sky and the Earth,” I have longed to visit Bhutan. The mountainous country is a Himalayan Kingdom with a mystical feel and traditional Buddhist culture. The country prides itself on the fact that Gross National Happiness is deemed more important than Gross National Product.


Patrik M. Loeff / flickr
Patrik M. Loeff / flickr

Bali, although sometimes known as a place frequented by wild partygoers, has plenty to offer for everyone. The tropical location is the perfect place to learn surfing, yoga or meditation – or all three!


Edward Dalmulder / flickr
Edward Dalmulder / flickr

Nepal is a backpacker’s paradise. The country boasts eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains. The culture and history here is rich as well. Trek away, my friends.


Moyan Brenn / flickr
Moyan Brenn / flickr

Amsterdam’s lively, liberal lifestyle draws many young travelers from all over the globe. Museums, stores, restaurants, coffee shops and nightlife line the canal centered streets and offer plenty to do.


Moyan Brenn / flickr
Moyan Brenn / flickr

Iceland’s unusual natural environment allows for exciting activities such as hikes to hot springs, glacier excursions, snorkeling and much more. The country is also very English-friendly, so there’s no language barrier. Solo-trips are very popular here, as the country is extremely safe.

There you have it, folks! My top 10 post-college travel destinations.

Watch out world, here I come 😉