September 27, 2011

Journalism students to capture ‘Weekend in Tri-C’

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For a third year, students in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Journalism will rise early, stay up late and work hard later this week to capture the essence of three Williamson County communities.

In addition to presenting what “A Weekend in Tri-C” is like for residents of Carterville, Crainville and Cambria, students will also gain greater insight into the communities and hone their skills with help from some of the nation’s leading photojournalism professionals and editors. 

From sunrise, Friday, Sept. 30, until sunset, Sunday, Oct. 2., the 26 to 30 students in advanced journalism classes will chronicle the three communities -- all which send kindergarten through high school students into the Carterville school district.


Media Advisory

For more information on the “A Weekend in Tri-C” project, contact assistant professor Mark J. Dolan at 618/536-3361 or 315-882-2446, or by email at

Mark J. Dolan, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism, said the project is similar to those highlighting Murphysboro in 2009 and Cobden and Alto Pass in 2010.  Students have been identifying story settings and gathering information, but will also be responsible for finding single images that focus on “moments in the community,” he said.

Students will use digital still photography, sound and video to document the communities.  Students will bring their work for editing to the conference room at Carterville City Hall.

The students will also have a chance to bring in their work for review.  In some instances, the visiting professionals will offer suggestions on how to improve the photographs and have students return to the project. The visiting professionals will also go out with students on assignments “so they receive some hands-on instruction and coaching on how to make a picture better,” Dolan said.

“These weekend photography workshops are incredibly valuable for our students,” said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.  “The opportunity to work with seasoned, award-winning professionals from all over the country is terrific.  It’s the kind of intense learning experience that can't be delivered in the classroom, but augments what we do in a powerful way.  The books that have come from these workshops are also valuable to both the students and the communities served.”

Officials with all three communities showed interest and enthusiasm from the beginning.  The project is a “great partnership” for the students, the communities and its residents, Dolan said.

Crainville Mayor Ron Mitchell said he expects the project will be a positive experience for both students and residents.  In addition to showing the daily life of residents and the community fabric, Mitchell hopes the project shows the anticipated growth along Illinois 13.

Carterville Mayor Charles W. Mausey had a chance to review the earlier projects.  He likes the focus being on community residents and events.

“Anyone who sees that gets a true sense of what a community is and how it works together on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Prior to coming to SIUC in 2008, Dolan conducted eight similar workshops while teaching at Syracuse University, where the projects were also successful.  But Dolan said there is a difference in the level of community involvement in Southern Illinois.

“The communities themselves have become much more involved in the process,” he said.  “It invests them in the success of it.  They see it as a real boon.  It helps shine a light on their communities and they take pride in it.”

The workshop’s influence also is not lost on participating students.  Bruno Maestrini will earn his master’s degree in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts’ program specializing in photojournalism and documentary in December.

An international student from Pelotas, Brazil, Maestrini has finished his coursework and will move to San Francisco in a few weeks.  But he is staying in Southern Illinois to help because of the lessons he learned two years ago in Murphysboro.

The experience was invaluable for his career, Maestrini said.

Maestrini had shot photographs for many years, knew how to use the equipment “and thought I knew how to photograph,” he said.  After taking pictures near the end of the first day, Maestrini and Seth Siditsky, a visiting professional from The Newark Star-Ledger newspaper, went out to take photos of an elderly man while the sun was setting, and Siditsky began to explain how to “work a shot, get expressions, and actually get a story out of a picture,” Maestrini said.

“After that I started photographing everything in a different way.  It changed everything,” he said.  “He showed me that it wasn’t just about getting a picture; it’s more like figuring out how to tell the story.”

The insight also helped him in the classroom.  Maestrini said while he knew photography theory he would often hurry to get a photograph. Now he analyzes each situation with greater detail and views potential shots from different angles, which can mean more photos.

“If you look at my work there is a drastic difference.  It’s more of a philosophical approach than a technical approach,” he said.

Maestrini said the SIUC faculty and volunteer professionals are invaluable but “they aren’t magicians.”

“They can’t make the information go into your head,” he said.  “ This depends on the student as well -- how much the student wants to get out of it.”

The workshop will culminate in a book, which Dolan anticipates students will design during the spring 2012 semester.  There might also be a website depending upon the amount of content and other factors, Dolan said.

The workshop “really cannot work” without the 13 visiting professionals who donate their time for the project, Dolan said.

“They are really the magic that makes all of the elements come together,” Dolan said.  “We are very fortunate in the photojournalism field that so many professionals are so giving and so really willing to donate their own time because none of these people are getting paid.”

The visiting faculty newspaper photographers are: Chris Berry, The State, Columbia, S.C.; Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Elizabeth Conley, The Detroit News; Daron Dean, The St. Augustine Record; Bob Gwaltney and Erin McCracken, The Evansville Courier; Denise Kenon, The Indianapolis Star; Lisa Krantz, The San Antonio Express-News; Paul Newton, The Southern Illinoisan; Todd Panagopolous, The Chicago Tribune.  Other visiting faculty include Scott Allen, a freelance photographer and regional director for public affairs, U.S. Department of State; Andre Lambertson, The Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting; and Jim Merithew,

In addition, Canon USA will be providing equipment for the workshop, including 1981 SIUC Cinema and Photography alumnus Brian Matsumoto, who is a Canon technical representative.