Film Review—”Searching for Sugar Man”

Gigi invited me to go to True/False Film Festival on the last day. “It’s not just a movie; it’s a film fest, you should go,” Gigi said. Yeah, I should go. It could be the last year for me to stay in Columbia as I will graduate. I’m glad I made the decision. The movie “Searching for Sugar Man” was incredible. It’s the best story I’ve ever heard. As a journalism student, I wish I would have the opportunity to tell a story like this.

Searching for Sugar Man

 

The story is about a singer and songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who was “the greatest ’70s U.S. rock icon who never was.” His music was appreciated by producers, but sales were loomed. Rumors were he committed suicide on stage when his audience reacted negatively. However, his albums were a hit in another country, South Africa. People love Rodriguez for decades, although they had no clue who the guy is. Very little information about the artist exists. Then two huge funs of Rodriquez’s music, a music retailer and a journalist, started to investigate what really happened to Rodriquez.

 

“Sugar man” is one of Rodriguez’s song. One of the two investigator, the music retailer, also gave himself a name “Sugar” in honor of his music idol.

 

Malik Bendjelloul, Director, Swedish.
Bendjelloul showed up at the True/False Festival in person.

I am appealed to the filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul’s storytelling, and it is inspiring for excellent journalism. He held the central compelling character until half of the movie. This approach keeps viewers interested all the time and wanted to know more about what happens next. What’s more, the rumor of Rodriguez’s suicide and lack of his information dominated the first half of the movie, which is a nice way to show the viewers the difficulties and frustrations of searching for Sugar Man.

Then, at the transition point of the movie, when Rodriguez called Sugar, the audience were amazed to hear the artist’s voice and then see him. The atmosphere of the movie surprisingly turned from depression, sadness and myth to hope, motives and excitement. The story arrived at the most exciting point when Rodriguez when to South Africa and held six great performances which were all sold out. His South African funs crowded, screamed and cried when they see their musical hero.

Sixto Rodriguez

 

 

Rodriguez served as a construction worker and led a very humble life. He didn’t get money from his albums sold in South Africa; He didn’t make money from his successful performances either. He was like a super star in South Africa. Nevertheless, he went back to his life, continue his hard work, and still lives in poverty. He is a true artist, a humble human being, and a star for generations. He is inspiring people by the power of his music and also his life.

First time to be an anchor without speaking Chinese

My first time to be a cut-in anchor means a lot to me. I was the Chinese news anchor at Newsy. Now I’m proud that I’m able to anchor, but not just for Chinese program. It’s something that I’ve been expecting for a long time. To me, this position is much more difficult than other people. To me, it means a lot, a lot of work.

The biggest challenge is my accent. Although I still have it, I did improve a lot. Some of my friends who happened to see my cast told me that they were excited about my progress. I appreciated my friends encouragement a lot, feeling so happy to know it.

I also did serious self-critique. I played the video back a couple of time, trying to find every imperfectness where there could be improvement. First, I notice my pitch was higher than it could have been. Nice deep voice is more appreciated than high girlish voice in broadcast. Greeley told me the reason could be nervous. I agree with him although I didn’t appear to be nervous, which was good. Second, I can hear the gasping in between. I think it’s also because I was nervous and I didn’t use body breath, which means breathing deeply from belly, very well. Third, Greeley told me my smile was warm and good, but I shouldn’t have keep that smile from the beginning to the end. My expression and delivery should vary according to different stories.

Learning from each experience is always rewarding. I wouldn’t have caught those imperfectness unless I actually did it. I expect more progress during the next shift. My first two cut-ins were far from perfect, but they are like a milestone of my life.

The Newsworthiness of Death

 

Unrest and regime changes result in breaking news, as well as controversial issues concerning violence and blood. Just in 2011, gruesome photos of two controversial leaders’ dead bodies made some media forget normal taboos of covering death. Reuters published a picture of Osama bin Laden’s dead body despite President Obama’s statement against releasing the photo. When Muammar Gaddafi died, graphic pictures appeared with little concern from the media. Sine Saddam Hussein’s execution was broadcast in 2006, the public has questioned covering death and the conflict with newsworthiness.

Many newsrooms have a rule of not showing blood on air, let alone those wounded dead bodies lying in a pool of blood. Journalists report news stories, yet they don’t want to offend the public, especially children. However, the regime-changed leaders’ final moments gave the editors a reason that was hard to resist, which is newsworthiness. Based on journalism principles, the first obligation is to the truth. Radio and Television Digital News Association Media Editor Ryan Murphy wrote in his article, “20 Ethics Questions to Consider Before Using Osama bin Laden Death Photos,” that many news directors said they would run the picture because of it is “clearly of historical significance.”  Publishing the photos would produce a more powerful report than just running a print story. The gruesome pictures did imply credibility and accuracy.

However, no matter how significant the news is, the dead leaders are still human beings. Should journalists treat the death of Gaddafi with the same basic standard of respect? Would there be anyone who run the pictures because they wanted to boost the sales by the gruesome image of a dictator who used to be powerful and proud? Many people call for respect for life so that “even Muammar Gaddafi deserved a private death.” Then what about the newsworthiness? When the traditional ethical rules encounter a need driven by newsworthiness, journalists fall into an ethical dilemma.  Although this kind of big news about a regime-changed leader’s death wouldn’t happen everyday, editors have to make the ethical decision every time they get some newsworthy yet graphic photos.

Today, reporters and editors are facing increasing pressures when they deal with the gruesome photos because of the proliferation of the Internet and social media. Information can spread within seconds, and those who have to make an ethical decision have little time to think twice. More importantly, just like what the news directors said in Murphy’s article: “Once it’s out there, it’s out there and individual media using it won’t make that worse.” Ethical consideration would make an editor hold a gruesome picture of a local accident, but when it’s regarding national breaking news that is pursued by every news outlet, the proliferation of social media pushes editors to release the photos.

While social media is changing the journalistic industry, I don’t think the ethical values are changed. If I were the editor facing the choice of to publish or not, I would say yes. Not running the pictures would only make my newsroom lose in today’s competitive media industry rather than keeping the bloody images from offending the viewers. However, I would be concerned with the ethical values; I would run the story on the front page but publish the picture inside the newspapers, or I would add an additional click to the picture if it’s online. In this way, my newsroom wouldn’t suffer much loss to the competing media outlets because the readers or the viewers can still get the breaking news on the front page. Meanwhile, the image of the dead bodies would not stand out in front.

U.S. Soldiers Return from Afghanistan (Feb 12, 2012)

FORT LEONARD WOOD – More than 90 soldiers returned to Fort Leonard Wood this Sunday from the war in Afghanistan.
The soldiers with the 55th Mobile Augmentation Company5th Engineer Battalion, provided route clearance support for Operation Enduring Freedom during the last year. 13 soldiers were injured.
Family members and friends greeted the soldiers at the welcome home ceremony. Claps, and whistles echoed in the gymnasium. Many of them broke into tears.
Valerie Zimmerman said she has gained more than what she has given up from being an army wife.
“I love being an army wife,” said Zimmerman. “I don’t think I could do it any other way.”
Zimmerman’s son Henry was born 10 days before the husband, Sergeant Michael Zimmerman, was deployed.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris McGowan, the 5th Engineer Battalion commander, said helping the soldiers reset with their families is one of the most important things after returning. A two-week training to help them adjust family life was scheduled.
McGowan served in Iraq in 2011.
The soldiers will have a 12-month break at home before the next deployment.

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