When it comes to today’s world of journalism, the types and forms of media are ever-growing — from traditional print (e.g., newspapers, magazines), broadcast, online platforms, social media, video, to audio and beyond. Although many journalists specialize in a particular field and some may be timid to approach a new style, you can’t knock what you haven’t tried. Who knows, you may even enjoy it. Journalism senior Skyler King has discovered just this as she approaches the halfway mark of her semester in her podcast-focused Digital Innovations Capstone class.
“This experience has really given me more confidence,” King said. “In the beginning, I didn’t think I could produce a whole podcast by myself, but my team has really helped me see that I can.”
King came into the semester open-minded but unaware of what was ahead. She had many reasons for choosing the Capstone course, explaining she either wasn’t interested or didn’t qualify for the other courses offered. All King knew about this course was that her best friend was in the class, along with Professor Quigley, who she had enjoyed having before, so she took a leap of faith and added it to her schedule.
Once the semester got rolling, King began to realize what the class actually entailed.
“I wasn’t aware we were doing podcasts,” King said. “That kind of scared me because I’m not really into podcasts, and the last one I did sophomore year was not good.”
With this new information, King started to ponder what her next steps were going to be. First and foremost, if it was going to be podcasts, she needed to decide which team and concept appealed to her the most.
King doesn’t see herself as a hard-news journalist. “I read it, but it’s not my cup of tea for writing,” she explained.
Her disinterest in delivering hard-news mean’t many podcasts, including “The Orange Tree,” “Crooked Power” and “Open Secret” were out of the running.
“‘Request Pending’ sounded like the chill and fun podcast that I could really get into. It feels very creative,” King said. “I was free to discuss what I wanted and have fun with it. I quickly came up with an idea for the podcast, so that really pushed me toward this podcast.”
The idea she has been working on is African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and internet culture. AAVE, also commonly called “Black English” or Ebonics, is described as “a nonstandard variety of English spoken by some African Americans” by Webster’s Dictionary — though there have been controversies over the categorization of AAVE.
“I saw the topic of AAVE and internet culture being discussed on social media over the summer,” King said. “So when [the podcast director] Sara Schleede said ‘Request Pending’ was all about things going on in internet culture, it was the first thing to come to my mind.”
Her podcast is specifically centered on the misuse of AAVE on social media by non-Black people, how this use can harm the Black community, and how the language is not something that can be turned into “internet language.”
“I felt this was really important to bring to peoples’ attention, especially with everything that is going in our society,” King said.
So with reassurance from her friends, she decided to hit the ground running, which King claims is all it takes for her to go with an idea “until the wheels fall off.”
“The process has been so far so good,” King said. “I’m much better at overcoming my fear of reaching out to people.”
The relaxed, supportive and, most importantly, fun environment has allowed King to grow in many ways, from facing her fears to learning to trust herself. She explains this has been one of her biggest takeaways.
“Having more trust in myself has not only given me more confidence but also improved my work ethic,” King said, though she admits she feels as though she doesn’t do enough.
As the semester continues towards the finish line, King treks on with her new mindset.
“Before this class, I avoided podcasts like they were the plague. One bad experience led me to think I could never do it again. Now, I can definitely see myself doing them in the future,” King said.
While she acknowledges that she still prefers video, she concedes that podcasts are no longer in last place when it comes to telling a story.
“My advice would be to not let self-doubt distract you from having fun in this course,” King said. “It’s not as daunting as my mind made it out to be. As long as you’re doing your best, putting all your effort into it, the result will be good.”