Blog Post 4

Waiting for Death at LATimes.com

“Waiting for Death” is a multimedia piece featuring audio and photographs by Liz O. Baylen of the Los Angeles Times. This piece is about the late Edwin Shneidman, born May 13, 1918. He was an American suicidologist and thanatologist, a person who studies death. He died on May 15, 2009.

The piece begins with natural sound of Shneidman’s heavy breathing. Within seconds, his interview begins, and you can hear the age in his voice. He speaks about being 90 years old and knowing that he will not live much longer. However, his attitude about death is fitting for someone who has studied death all of his life. “Enough, already!” he says, expressing his desire to be free of the “gratuitous bullshit” of life. His interview is engaging and interesting throughout its entirety. I think that Baylen did a wonderful job of editing this piece.

The audio that Baylen collected of Shneidman’s voice is extremely clear. There is no background noise whatsoever. Also, there is no sign of any editing that Baylen may have done on the audio because it sounds very clean and natural.

The photographs that are shown on screen during Shneidman’s audio interview are in focus and composed artistically. The photos have rich color, and they are pleasing to the eye.

However, the only issue is that there is not much cohesion between the photographs and what Shneidman is saying. This is understandable because most of the audio consists of Shneidman discussing his views on death. However, the photographs show his daily life – where he lives, his surroundings, as well as a few environmental portraits where he is looking at the camera. I enjoyed seeing snippets into Shneidman’s life, but I wish that there was more variety of photographs.

Overall, this piece is one of my favorites because of the unique, interesting subject and beautiful technical elements, like clean audio and clear pictures.

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