The fieldwork for this assignment takes a very similar format to the work I’ve done professionally for years, especially the writing and photography aspects of the feature story project.
The form of New Communication Technology I’ve chosen to focus on is activity and health trackers like Fitbit, the Apple Watch and apps like My Fitness Pal. I’ve personally been a Fitbit customer for almost four years, joining because as I was set to start my college career just days later and I wanted to be able to avoid the Freshman 15 I’d been told horror stories about. (Spoiler alert: You can wear your Fitbit as much as you’d like, but if you eat a sandwich from the Erbert’s and Gerbert’s sandwich shop on campus every day, it’ll still come for you.) That being said, I’m incredibly familiar with Fitbit, using it every day and seeing varying results based on how I decide to use the product.
I’ve also witnessed a myriad of Facebook friends, friends and family members start to wear fitness trackers for countless different reasons – wanting to see how many steps they can get while milking cows, in the case of my younger brother, or wanting to drop a few pounds, like many of my friends have done.
It’s become a way to communicate because users can share posts about their successes, post healthy recipes or ask for advice on how to not fall off of the bandwagon. Users are also encouraged to “challenge” one another on the number of steps racked up per day, week or over the weekend.
My personal experience with Fitbit parallels to how I research for my articles that are written in a professional setting. Instead of compiling a clip file or putting together a timeline of events, I am able to pull from my personal experiences.
The other processes in this project have been fairly straightforward. I have written my feature story in a similar style that I’ve written feature stories as a member of the Royal Purple staff or an employee for Unified Newspaper Group. I’m the same photojournalist when taking photos for this story that I am in other situations – I always look for the overarching story, while simultaneously looking for details and emotion. Same with the video and audio aspects – being an electronic media major, I look for the heart of the story for my video and have the interview skills to put together a compelling audio podcast.
What I’ve found – a find that I anticipated – is that the reason for using activity and health trackers varies for everyone because their needs and desired outcomes are different.