For my final radio story, I’m interviewing my fifteen-year-old sister Amy Candelario on how she’s felt completing her freshman year of high school, and how the summer in quarantine has treated her. Recently, at G.A.R. Memorial High School, where Amy attends, the administration has offered parents and students two options for learning this fall: In-class learning, which would require students to attend classes five days a week, or remote-learning, which would require students to attend online classes five days a week. She’ll give us a little insight soon how her last marking period went, what were the challenges of learning during quarantine, and what kind of outlook she’s expecting in September when school’s officially open.
Host Intro: With the summer coming to an end, and with classes just around the corner, parents, educators, and students across the country face the implications of changing learning options in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. While some schools are functioning through remote-learning only to avoid the spread, others plan to re-open completely for in-person classes with new health precautions in place. At G.A.R. Memorial High School, in Wilkes Barre PA, deciding which learning option is more efficient, and which is safer, is left to the families. Parents are now required to fill out an online form in the coming week to indicate whether their children will be returning to school in the fall or taking online classes from home.
AMBI1: (Computer keys clacking, some background noise in the kitchen)
AMBI2 Room Tone: (Nat’s fade down, and now it’s just the room tone where the interview takes place)
TRACK 1: Amy Candelario, a rising sophomore at G.A.R. Memorial High School, recently filled out her online form through her school portal for online classes with the help of her mom, Zairy Polanco. Here, Amy tells us about the choice to not go back to school for in-class learning, and what she expects for the Fall semester.
ACT 1: “I think schools shouldn’t reopen, just for the safety of their students, and not catching COVID-19. It’s better for all students to stay at home instead of going outside with COVID-19 out there. You can get sick very easily, and it can happen very quick, you’ll never know, and schools should really re-think what they’re doing, think about their students’ safety. Even if we have masks, it’s better to stay home, rather than going outside and being with other people.”
TRACK 2: Although the Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported fewer than 4,000 cases and 184 deaths in Luzerne County where Amy’s school is located, the state of Pennsylvania itself has had over 119,000 confirmed cases, and over 7,000 deaths in total. Although the amount of cases reported have decreased drastically from April to July, the re-opening of schools in other green-phase cities around the country have had to backtrack and re-close schools after cases spiked in students and teachers.
ACT 2: “Online classes were hard because it isn’t the same without the teacher right in front of you. And I also miss my friends. We’re texting now, or talking in [online] classes, or so, answering questions from teachers. At least I got to stay home with my dog, with my family, being safe from the outside. And it was hard to get used to at first, but slowly I got used to it, work was easier, I’d get it done. And sometimes I would almost miss it [homework] but I’d get everything done at least. Get a good grade, pass ninth grade, and it wasn’t too difficult, now that I think about it.”
TRACK 3: Although Amy’s transition to online classes in March wasn’t simple, like that of millions of students across the country, it has prepared her greatly for what her sophomore year is supposed to look like once summer draws to a close.
ACT 3: “During this summer, I’ve been watching some shows, training my dog, and in the Fall I’ll be taking advanced Chemistry classes, and other AP classes as well, they’re going to be harder, but I think I’ll survive.”
TRACK 4: With the re-opening of towns and cities around the country, all kinds of health precautions have been put in place for businesses and institutions, but schools still pose a great risk to the health and safety of students, educators and their families. Remote learning has quickly become the standard for safety in education during this pandemic. Although many schools like Amy’s are giving families the ability to choose the learning environment for their children, the price of what in-class instruction may cost to all of those involved makes online learning the only viable option. For Baruch College, this is Ashley Candelario from Wilkes Barre, PA.
Learning how to come up with a story, report that story, compose a photograph, mix sound, and shoot B-roll and then put it all together into a clear and cohesive story is only half the battle. Something that often gets left out in school is the practical side of how to make a career out of this. Sure, you might get a good internship while you’re still in school and then get hired and start working your way up. But there are a lot of different ways into the industry, and a lot of them involve taking a little bit of initiative. I’d venture to say that most journalists I know have freelanced at one point or another.
Freelancing can be a great gig, and it can also be terrifying when you’re first starting out. Here are a few common issues freelancers often run into:
Do I need a website? YES. Showcasing your previous work is more important than any well-crafted resume. The importance of being able to refer an editor to a slick portfolio website cannot be overstated.
How do you know how much money to ask for? It’s easy to undervalue your skills when you’re first starting out, but it’s worse to ask for too little money than to ask for too much. Some publications have set rates: a flat rate for a certain kind of story, or a day rate, or they’ll pay by the word. In other cases, there’s room for negotiation. If you’re not sure how much to ask for, consult your colleagues. Always try and get them to reimburse expenses.
What’s the deal with taxes? You still have to pay them. You’ll become very familiar with the 1099-MISC form. Keep your receipts so you can write off as many business-related expenses as possible: Equipment, plane tickets, etc.
How do you make sure you get paid in a timely manner? Send an invoice as soon as you file the story. I usually ask the person receiving it to confirm they’ve received it and to tell me when I should expect the money to arrive. If they don’t respond, follow up early and often. “Polite but incessant” is my motto.
I can’t use the school’s programs anymore. How much is it to buy Adobe Premiere and Lightroom and all that stuff? Not actually as bad as you might think, because you no longer even have the option to buy them outright; there’s a monthly subscription service to the Adobe Creative Suite that costs anywhere from $10 to $50 a month, depending on how many programs you need.
What kind of equipment should I invest in? When it comes to still cameras, if you’re on a small budget, I usually advise people to start with a pretty basic camera body and to invest in a few good lenses if you’re going to spend money somewhere. When it comes to video, it’s become kind of an arms race out there and DSLR cameras don’t always cut it anymore. Take a look at Storyhunter assignments to get a sense of what outlets are looking for:
“C300 or C100 strongly preferred—higher end DSLRs accepted”
“Need to have a C100 or equivalent and lav mics”
“A camera capable of shooting 1080p 24fps and 60 fps for slow motion, if possible 4k video and 120 fps for slow mo”
The good news is that if you don’t have five grand to drop on a camera and audio equipment tomorrow, you can rent gear from places like Adorama and KitSplit.
I just spent an insane amount of money on my new equipment. How do I protect it? Insure your stuff! Renter’s insurance can sometimes cover your gear, but there’s usually a pretty high deductible for theft etc. If you’re planning on working internationally, insurance tends to be quite expensive, especially if you’re working in areas considered “high-risk.” NPPA members get a discount through one company, but make sure to shop around.
Freelancing is lonely. How do I meet other people in the industry? Journalists tend to be a social bunch. It’s an industry where skills are obviously important but where you can also go pretty far on the strength of your personality and on who you know. You already have a huge advantage by virtue of the fact that you live in New York, one of the world’s biggest media hubs. Make yourself known to editors and colleagues by checking out industry events like these:
RISC Training (first aid training for freelancers who work in remote, sensitive, and conflict areas, often host events/panel discussions at the Brooklyn Brewery risctraining.org
The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA membership gets you certain benefits, including discounted camera insurance and press accreditation; follow them to find out about grants) https://www.facebook.com/groups/2233179993/
Women Photograph (a resource for female* documentary and editorial photographers and the people who would like to hire them—GRANTS!) https://www.womenphotograph.com/
Eddie Adams Workshop (a prestigious, game-changing, three-day workshop for emerging photographers in upstate NY that puts you in a room with some of the biggest names and top editors in the industry) https://www.facebook.com/EddieAdamsWorkshop/
Public Radio NYC Google group. Be warned, you’ll get a LOT of emails but it’s a great place to pick up transcription work and the occasional tape sync, which usually pays about $150 for a fairly easy recording gig: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Let me know if you’d like me to add you.)
Journalism and Trauma (a place to discuss how we as journalists engage with trauma, from how to interview someone who has experienced it to how to cope with our own direct or indirect trauma) https://www.facebook.com/groups/468146643386958/
Host Intro: During a time of a global pandemic, seemingly one of the things that seems nonessential in the bigger is when the next sporting event will happen. However, for some it is important. It’s an escape, a passion, or a livelihood. Reporter Alin Basuljevic spoke with a soccer player who plays for a USL team, a second league that has been hiatus until recently.
AMBI1: Coach speaking to a soccer team about the intensity of the practice.
TRACK: It’s a hot day on the practice field for Arun Basuljevic, a professional soccer player with the Oklahoma City Energy. He’s just finished a training session with his team—something he’s glad to be able to do in person again..
ACT: We went from training everyday to only being able to hold Zoom workout sessions and our own workouts in public spaces. We did that for about 3 months without any real idea of when we would be able to return to our normal workplace.
TRACK: But even after they returned, they had to train very differently.
ACT: we were only able to train individually in sections on the field. That continued for a couple of weeks before we advanced to small group training. After a couple weeks of tedious small group training, we have been able to return to full training. We do not use the facility in the same way that we did in the past due to restrictions but it is a little bit closer to normal than when this all went down at first.
TRACK: The logistics of making sure everyone on the team is socially distancing and staying safe are complicated, especially for players with families.
ACT: There are some guys on the team who are single and living in Oklahoma by themselves. However, there are plenty of individuals with wives, children, and newborns. This makes it a bit more tricky because everyone needs to be mindful of what they do to ensure that they are not putting their teammates at risk.
TRACK: These precautions also make themselves known in their day-to-day, from the locker room to high-pressure game situations.
ACT: Gameday looks completely different. We are not able to congregate in the locker room for long periods of time. If we are in a space together, as a team, we have to have masks on. It feels weird but we are starting to get a bit more used to it. Also, the league has sanctioned that there are no flights for any team that is traveling less than 500 miles. They do this to minimize exposure. Therefore, long bus rides and travel affects preparation as that is something a lot of us are not used to.
TRACK: For an outgoing athlete, his downtime has been a little different than he’s used to.
ACT: We all have to be more mindful of what we do. We are in our own “bubble.” We cannot go to public places. We are encouraged to eat at home and to not be indoors with a lot of people.
TRACK: Looking ahead, he’s hopeful that it will all have been worth it.
ACT: I will never consider this to be the norm. But I have adapted well and I think my team has as well. This is our job and we must do what we can to uphold our end of the bargain. It is definitely a challenging year but there are no excuses. When we get through this, we will be thankful for the sacrifices that we made.
TRACK: In the meantime, he’s preparing for his next game coming up on August 15 against RGV Toros. For Baruch College, this is Alin Basuljevic.