Response 2 – How to Feed a Sorority (7.1)

By Lauren Mitchel-Nahas

What I found most impressive about this piece is that it absolutely nails newscast style and format. I felt like I was watching a real story on the local news. There are a few key elements that had to come together to mimic that style correctly.

First, the video was very well-edited, and the shots aligned with the subject as the reporting moved through different topics. The interviews included the text explanation of who the speaker was, and again, were very professionally edited. In my experience of student-created videos, this is top-notch production.

But the crowning glory of the piece was that the author and speaker, Lauren Becker, absolutely dominated newscaster-speak. A youtube search will yield a pile of videos offering advice on the distinctive newscaster speaking style, and I think the key element that Becker nails is “confidence.” Her sign-off was a great example of that confident newscaster style.

What was missing from this local news story? The scoop. Where’s the controversy here? Where’s the critical analysis? Where’s the news?

I can see Becker’s point that uneaten food should more consistently be donated to those in need, but that point was brushed over very quickly. But I think there are a variety of different questions that go unanswered.

How many full-time, benefitted jobs does the sorority’s food-service create? Are workers paid over-time? How much are the residents paying for this food? Is there any profit from those fees? And if so, where do those profits go?

Also completely missing was the residents’ opinion of the quality of the food and any criticism or interrogation of the food vendors.

However, the piece clearly achieves the general goal of better understanding the origins of the food served and the labor involved. As Becker said, those things are likely completely ignored by most of the residents—a lack of knowledge that most of the general public is guilty of as well. In that sense, the project is a step in the right direction towards more appreciation and understanding of where our food comes from.

And maybe the lack of critical analysis was just part of Becker’s style choices. Maybe it was a conscious decision, instead of an absence. Local news stations are well-known for their “human-interest” stories—the feel-good stories that have no big scoop, or criticism, to make. In that sense, the lack of criticism, the lack of edge, was completely appropriate.