Student Blogger Study USA

Student Blogger Syd Films Your Legislators!

Three large screens are set up on top of a desk.

Every semester, one student from each HECUA program takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Syd Stratman will be HECUA’s student blogger for the Making Media, Making Change program this spring semester. Syd is a senior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Studies in Cinema and Media Culture and minoring in Art. Syd completed the Making Media, Making Change program in the fall, and then chose to enroll in the program’s optional credit-earning internship component this spring. For more information about Making Media, Making Change and how internships for this program are structured, click here. Read on for Syd’s description of their semester-long involvement with SPNN’s “Your Legislators.”

As part of my HECUA internship at the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) I have the pleasure of working on one show for the duration of the semester. That show is Your Legislators, a weekly live show that airs every Thursday during the state legislative session. The program brings together two representatives from the house and the senate, one from each of the major political parties. Viewers can ask questions on air and see their politicians answer in real time. This show is a little different from most public access shows, because it airs on more than just SPNN’s stations. This program goes all over the state. Being able to work on a program that reaches a wider audience and that I can see evolve from week to week is a treat. It also gives me an experience that I will hopefully be able to have in my future career.

What I’ve Learned From Being In a Regular Crew

Unsurprisingly, working with the same crew week after week feels very different from working on stand-alone events. Earlier this year I helped shoot the Torchlight Parade. That was a fun experience that helped me feel more confident in filming live events. I learned that because we have multiple cameras and we work as a team the pressure I put on myself was unnecessary. I felt that if I missed something it would be a big deal, but it turned out to be the opposite.

Working with the same crew in a studio setting comes with its own challenges and has helped me grow in other ways. I get to work on the same thing every week and the format doesn’t change. This allows me to perfect my skills in my role as a camera operator on Your Legislators. I also get to learn about how the studio is set up, as I often help with lighting and setting up the studio. I am learning a lot about lighting, and as I get more comfortable with my camera operator role, I get to ask more questions about other jobs on our show. By the end of the semester I will know how to do every aspect of this show; that is not something I would be able to do on a one-time event.

An empty set with chairs gathered around a circular table. A ghostly little capital fades into the background.


The set of Your Legislators.

Learning how to work with crews on an individual event and a weekly show involves different skills. On a stand-alone event, you don’t get a lot of time to create a community and understand the different personalities. You have to work as well as you can knowing you may not see that person again. In terms of professional development, the goal is to be memorable enough that if you run into them again, they will remember you and have a positive opinion of you. This can help you build a reputation in the larger media professional community. When working with the same crew, you get to know each other and how you work together. Eventually you know exactly who is going to accomplish which tasks, and when and where to direct your energy to be the most effective. The crew also gets a chance to know things like your work ethic and personality. They can be great people to have as references! They also may think of you for other projects because they know you, how you work, and your interests.

Local Politics and Community Media

Working on Your Legislators provides a special experience. Working on a show that is about state politics has given me a great opportunity to be involved in my community. I often have trouble knowing who represents me on a local and state level. I work, go to school full time, and have an internship. I am very poor and constantly tired, so I have to spend most of my extra time cooking and sleeping. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to keep up with politics on any level: local, state, or national. I love that I get to participate in a show that gives me the space to hear the opinions of different politicians and what is actually happening in Minnesota legislation. It also shows me a real-life application of the conversations around community media and how media can create local change that I participated in during the Making Media, Making Change courses last semester.

For more information about HECUA’s Making Media, Making Change Program, click here.

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