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May 24, 2018

Bridging the Gap: Art and Journalism

A former video editor reflects on his experience developing the Maroon's video section.

Most of the Chicago Maroon staff have no idea who I am. If I walked into the Maroon office in the basement of Ida Noyes Hall, Marooners would think I got lost on my way to the Pub. And yet, I am a former editor of the paper–video editor. The vast majority of Maroon editors, columnists, and staffers would call the Maroon office their second—and for some, their first—home, but not me.

The Maroon is filled with smart and inspiring people with whom I would have cherished spending long hours and boxes of pizza with. But, instead, I spent the bulk of my second and third years editing—and re-editing—in a 10-by-10-foot production studio in the basement of the Logan Arts Center. The production studio makes time stop like a casino in Vegas, where day bleeds into night, challenging the necessity of sleep. Moments of failure or celebration were shared only with the characters in the videos. When I accidentally deleted an entire clip or finally sliced the shot perfectly, the pixels were the only ones to know. While I wish I had more social memories as a Marooner, I cannot say I joined the paper to experience the collective effervescence of production nights or to find the Paris Geller to my Rory Gilmore. I joined to be a part of the rapidly growing field of videojournalism that united the artsit with the journalist. Struggling to decide whether art or journalism more successfully captures truth and ignites change, I have found inspiration in their union.

In my first year, the video section of The Maroon was largely nonexistent. Videographers on campus—like myself—found home in RSOs like Fire Escape Films and Maroon TV. Videojournalism fell through the cracks, taking with it the raw details of events that would otherwise have gone unrecorded. Amber Love, former video editor (Class of 2017), recognized this disparity and acted on it. By the spring of 2015, Love had revamped the video section, giving new life to conversations happening on campus and in the community, documenting the closing of satellite dorms, demand for UCPD transparency, and support for Black college students at University of Missouri and Yale University. Inspired by the impact I saw these videos could have, I joined the section alongside Love and assumed the role of editor in the winter of 2016.

The goals of the section were always clear and two-fold. First, we wanted to bring readers of The Maroon even closer to the stories they were reading. Much like a historian, a journalist deals with the results of an event. What an artist can add is the raw humanity of the event. Leo Tolstoy comments on this dichotomy saying, “The difference lies not in the figures and events that are seen, but in the way of seeing them: The artist sees not heroes but people, not results but facts, and considers a person not in terms of a goal, but ‘in correspondence to all sides of life.’” By capturing the visually emotive details of a protest, an artist, or an event, a video journalist becomes an artist, crafting a more intuitive, personal mural of the story. This mural becomes fossilized, forever accessible in history. 

The second goal was more personal to me: to provide students another medium to capture an issue they care about. When I stepped down as editor, the section was just barely surviving with two passionate videographers: Kenny Talbott La Vega and Grace Hauck. Now, the section is up to five members who each brings their own artistic lens to the screen. Grace Hauck and Audrey Teo, for example, consistently produce videos that effectively accentuate the human condition. Watch Teo’s MODA video to re-envision the drama of art and fashion, or their collaborated video to hear intimate perspectives regarding mental health on campus. As videojournalism continues to grow on this campus, I thank The Maroon videographers for capturing both the news and their passions through the powerful union of art and journalism. 

Stacey Reimann is a graduating video editor for The Chicago Maroon.

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