Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information


September 1996


GRAMMAR TRAP: I VS. ME

Do you sometimes have trouble choosing between the pronouns "I" and "me" in compound constructions? Join the club. Part of the problem is that there's no single, correct answer. It all depends on function.

Let's say you want to talk or write about you and your friend, Mary.

When you and Mary are the SUBJECT, you should use "I."

Example: Mary and I attended the meeting.

When you two are the OBJECT, you should use "me."

Examples: The committee chair asked Mary and me to lead the discussion. The chair gave the assignment to Mary and me.

Helpful Hint: When in doubt, take out. In other words, if you remove Mary from the sentence, your "ear" will usually let you know which pronoun to use. You wouldn't say "me went to the meeting" or "the chairperson asked I," would you?

If there's a grammar trap you'd like us to discuss or you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid a grammar trap, please let us know.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION

We are often asked questions similar to the following about using the services of Educational Media.

"Who can use Agricultural Communication Educational Media?"

Ag, CFS Extension, and Vet Med Extension faculty and staff. Educational media projects –primarily publications–produced through the Ag Communication department which are not Extension educational materials with Extension numbers, or Ag Research publications that fall into the existing report structure will be required to have additional funds available for outside freelance support. Ag Comm does take promotional, informational, and recruiting publications and brochures when time permits. Your beat editor (account rep) is the best source of information on our production schedule, and the person who will help you select freelance support if the production schedule is overloaded.

"Where do I begin?"

You can talk to any of the professional staff initially. Based on your needs, they will work directly with you and assemble a creative team to help. Or they may refer you to a beat editor/consultant, display designer, video producer, or other appropriate colleague.
"What if I'm not sure what I need?"
Call us anyway. In fact, this is the best point at which to call. We'll help you find the best medium for your message. Maybe your message–and your audience–would be better served with a news release, video, publication, or Web site, for instance. Maybe they'd be better served with a mix of media. We'll help you sort through the possibilities.
"What should I think about before our first meeting?"
"What if I have an extremely short deadline?"
First of all, the sooner you meet with your beat editor (account rep), the more likely you are to get a place on the production schedule. Even so, some projects (including some Extension projects) are too extensive for our staff to handle in the time allotted along with the existing workload. In these cases, your beat editor will help you locate freelance support, and will work with you to see your project completed.
"How long does it take to get a project produced?"
Longer than you think and less than you fear. It all depends on the scope of the project and your commitment and involvement, as well as our availability to respond at the time you are ready. If we can't give you the help you need in the time you have, we'll try to help you find freelancers who can help you with your project. However, whether Educational Media staff accept your project or work with you to find freelance support, you, too, will have deadlines to meet in order to get your project completed on time. If circumstances prevent you from meeting those deadlines, this can significantly affect the production schedule for your project.
"How do I fit into the process?"
Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work with the rest of the team. Answer the questions raised in our initial consultation. Provide a draft of any text (double spaced) for editing. Provide a final electronic copy.
"Where do I go for more information?"
Call any of us! Check the beat editor/consultant sheet if you are in doubt about whom to call.

If you have further questions, send email to Jane Wolf Brown, Educational Media coordinator, at brownjw@purdue.edu or call 494-6946.


MODERN FILM CAMERAS

Modern film cameras come in several configurations and three basic sizes: small, medium and large format. This article is mainly concerned with the small format variety.

Small format cameras and film are most popular with today's professional and amateur photographers. The small group contains amateur formats like 110, 126 and disc films, as well as 35mm and the new ADVANCED PHOTO SYSTEM (AP) format. By far the most common is 35mm with cameras ranging from $25 point-and-shoots to $3,000 professional models. The two basic 35mm camera types are the RANGEFINDER and the SINGLE LENS REFLEX (SLR).

A rangefinder camera lets the operator view the scene through a small window or viewfinder with its own simple lens system. The actual photograph is taken through a larger lens usually set below the viewfinder. These cameras have several advantages in that they are inexpensive, lightweight, easy to operate, and there are many styles and manufactures from which to choose.

Rangefinders are often fully automated and as such are known as "point-and-shoot" cameras. Most offer auto exposure, auto film speed setting (DX coding), auto wind and rewind, auto flash and self timers.The less expensive cameras will have fixed focus, a lens with a set focus range of about six feet to infinity, and a fixed focal length lens, usually a mild wide-angle of about 38 mm.

For a bit more money, you can upgrade to auto focus, which allows for closer subjects, or even a MACRO setting for extreme close-ups. Many cameras with ZOOM LENSES vary in price. A zoom lens that has a wide range, say from 35mm to 110 mm, will cost more than a shorter zoom from 38 mm to 60 mm.

It is important to remember that a "normal" lens, or one that is nearly as powerful as the human eye, is around 45 mm. A smaller lens, say 28 mm is a WIDE ANGLE, and a longer lens like an 80 mm is a mild TELEPHOTO. Very long telephotos, 135 mm and up, are not available for these types of cameras.

One of the limitations of the rangefinder camera is that most do not have interchangeable lenses. The lens on the camera is permanently attached, while on SLR cameras you can choose which lens to buy with the camera and add others later. Most rangefinders, and a few SLRs, are made of lightweight polymer material and may not be as rugged as metal frame cameras. Rangefinders are typically fully automatic with only a few having manual override controls, so creative control might be limited.

SLR cameras are used by professional and serious amateur photographers. SLRs can run the gamut in price and features from the $175 Pentax K-1000 to the $3,000 Lieca R-6. Most modern SLRs have all the features of the point-and-shoots, but they add one important feature: through-the-lens viewing. The camera operator views the subject through the same lens that the photo is taken through. This eliminates any composition error that may occur through lens/viewfinder non-alignment on rangefinder cameras. Also SLRs allow for interchangeable lenses and flashes, although a few come with built-in, pop-up flash units.

The new kid on the block is the advanced photo system, or AP. This format was co-designed by Kodak, Fuji, Nikon, Canon, and several other key players in the camera business. What makes this new format so different is the film. It is smaller in size than 35mm film and very flat, with no curl like most films. It also has a special magnetic coating on one side that records data from the camera the moment a picture is taken. The data could be anything from time and date, to lighting conditions, shutter speed and aperture settings. The film will stay in its plastic cassette, even after it is developed and printed. This should help keep the negatives safe and preserved. The lab sends back your pictures, a small plastic holder for your AP film cassettes, and an index card with small copies of your photos to go with the cassettes for future reference.

Because this is new technology, it is still fairly expensive. Not many places have the equipment to develop the film yet. Check with your local film developer or camera store for more information.


FOCUS GROUPS--PART THREE: THE DISCUSSION

This is the third in a series of four articles examining focus groups.

When you get started, it's important to minimize any anxiety the focus group participants may feel. If you don't know the participants' names, prepare a tent card with each person's first name on it. Position these cards so that the camera can see them (if you're videotaping the session). Have the participants introduce themselves briefly. It's important that the group members feel comfortable with each other and with the facilitator. Slowly move them from large issues to the details. The sooner they begin to talk the better. If not, anxiety levels will increase as time goes by.

Most anyone can ask questions, but getting group participants to answer the right questions is a little more difficult. Do you know the difference between an open and closed question? A closed question often elicits a simple, one-word answer. This is not always the best response when you're trying to gauge someone's attitude. On the other hand, a closed question will help get people in the "answering questions" mode and can be used effectively when getting started. People won't delve directly into sharing closely held feelings. Closed questions clear your path and get the ball rolling.

By contrast, open questions usually ask the individual to disclose opinions. Questions that start with words such as "what," "how," and "tell me about..." invite deeper participation. Be careful with the word "why", though. Use of that word can communicate judgment and be intimidating

If there is time, you might consider taking a break. This allows for the group members to interact a little more with each another. It also provides a time for the facilitator to check in with the observers in the adjoining room. They may have follow-up questions, or want to investigate a particular topic further. This break is not mandatory, but it may help you catch things that you've missed.

At the end of the discussion, it's important to summarize what you think you've heard. That way, the participants can clarify issues for you and collectively agree. It's good for the group members to feel as though they have contributed something worthwhile. Hearing their conclusions repeated will help them feel useful in the focus group process.


MULTIMEDIA--FILMLESS CAMERAS: HERE, THERE, BUT NOT EVERYWHERE

Editor's Note: The following is the last in a series of three articles on the subject of multimedia. The contents of this series is based on a similar series in the Oregon State University Agricultural Communication's newsletter, the Backgrounder. The first article was an introduction to multimedia and its potential within Extension; the second article offered tips on buying a camcorder; and this final article deals with "filmless" cameras.

The filmless camera revolution is well underway in the world of photography, but it may not have reached your area yet.

The filmless camera records images electronically rather than on film like cameras of the past. As of now there are two types of filmless cameras: the still video camera and the digital camera.

The still video camera records your images onto a floppy disk. When you want to see your recorded images all you have to do is hook up the camera to your TV to see the pictures. The digital camera stores images in the same way that computers store information in an internal memory or onto a floppy disk. To view these images you need to hook your camera up to a computer, open the appropriate software and then view your images. A couple of possible problems may occur with this type of photography. First, the computer you use must be compatible with your camera; and second, you must have the appropriate software.

Prices for electronic cameras range from several hundred dollars to more than $5,000. Generally, the higher the price of the camera, the higher the quality of the images it produces. Images from less expensive cameras lack the sharpness and definition of traditional prints.

Electronic images are ideal for publications. They're easy and fast to take, easy to work on, and easy to send wherever you need to send them. One drawback is that digital image files are usually very large and can take a lot of transmission time.

If you are interested in this type of photography, check with local businesses to see if the equipment may be rented for a trial run to determine if it's the right technology for you.


THE MAIL

In response to the August 1996 article on copyright issues, On Target received the following from Sorrel Brown at Iowa State University:

"Barb Abbott has found a very comprehensive Web site on copyright issues. FYI I'll pass it along to you."

http://fairuse.stanford.edu/



We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers.

It is the policy of the Department of Agricultural Communication Service of Purdue University that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. These materials may be available in alternative formats.