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Reflections on the life of a videojournalist

April 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Multimedia, Newspapers

Having spent April 1 shadowing the two-person web video team at the Express and Star, I came away with:

  • 3 minutes 41 seconds of video footage
  • 14 minutes of audio
  • 54 photos

After a day spent gathering the material I then spent approximately two days editing it for the piece on the site, entailing two slideshows with audio (40s and 48s), one audio clip (6mins 49s) and one video clip (2 mins 20s).

Okay – so I’ve not been specifically trained as a multimedia reporter, which might not make me the fastest when it comes to editing. But essentially two days work resulted in one feature.

Similarly, on the Express and Star‘s team, videojournalist Victoria Hoe spent two hours boiling down 16 minutes of footage into a 1min 50s final package.

The Express and Star’s set up with a dedicated video team trained on a Press Association videojournalism course means that it’s time well spent: they put up around 20 videos a week – many shot, edited and published in the same day – and are using the medium in a variety of ways to add value to other areas or stories on the site, as well as for standalone pieces.

But not all publishers have such well-established roles and departments and, having now experienced it first hand, trying to be an all-in-one multimedia reporter/editor/publisher is extremely time consuming.

This is why I voted for ‘Not on its own – video has to be part of a mixed media package from papers in the digital age’ in Journalism.co.uk’s poll on whether video can save newspapers.

While creating such a role may enable publishers to stretch their resources and staff to increase their multimedia content, the benefits of doing this for staff and the resulting content must be slim. As it is so time-consuming, surely it’s better to get it right?

From my day out last week ‘right’ to me means seeing video as a new way of storytelling. It can work with text, but should add something new to text articles and not just as a scripted piece to camera rehashing the article.

The VJs I spoke to said it was crucial to think visually and in sequences to ensure you get all the shots needed while on location. Think visually and video can become a great medium for explaining and representing stories in an alternative way to print.

What’s more it’s another way to reach out to your audience and new members of that readership, so if set up and executed well it will add value – and hopefully traffic – to your site.

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Criticism from blogosphere for journalist’s interview with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

March 10th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Social media and blogging

Business journalist Sarah Lacy’s interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the SXSW conference is being torn to shreds by bloggers, because of Lacy’s anecdotal style and rambling questions.

Lacy’s response: an angry message to Twitter (flagged up by CNET) shown below.

Sarah Lacy posts an angry message to Twitter

Lacy’s interview is now being touted as teaching material for journalism professor Jeff Jarvis’ classes. On his blog, Jarvis says Lacy’s biggest mistakes were not knowing or listening to her audience and her treatment of Zuckerberg – who apparently had to interrupt her ramble to suggest she asked a question at one point.

A post on Adam Tinworth’s blog details the lessons that should be learnt from this interview, namely: ‘engage, know your occasion, do your research and don’t confuse yourself with the story’.

Well said – these are basic interview skills, but Tinworth’s post highlights how these rules should be applied in a new media environment. He points out that despite working in a social media area, Lacy has ‘no direct means of replying that isn’t mediated by others’.

Lacy’s credentials as a business reporter covering technology for BusinessWeek and author on the subject of Silicon Valley and Web 2.0 should have stood her in good stead for this interview.

But it seems her reputation was not sufficient to endear her to or engage with her audience or the blogosphere – after all the interview wasn’t supposed to be about her…

UPDATE – Lacy gives her reaction to the interview in a video response (from Omar Galagga)

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wyrny8PP-M]

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Innovations in Journalism – AngryJournalist

Each week we give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. This week it’s online rants about the perilous state of the news industry with AngryJournalist.com.

Image of angry journalist website

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
I’m Kiyoshi Martinez. I’m a former journalist who’s now gone into government communications.

AngryJournalist.com is a simple concept. Type why you’re angry with your media job and hit “vent.”

It’s an airing of grievances, rants on the life of journalists and bitter tales from the newsroom. All the comments are moderated before posting in order to keep the site on topic.

I like to think of it as the punching bag for the news business.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Hopefully, the site helps relieve some stress. It’s probably not as helpful as professional therapy, but it’s less damaging than picking up other vices. Outside of this, I think it’s a great glimpse for newsroom managers and executives of what’s actually going on in the minds of their silently brooding employees. For all the over-the-top responses, there are kernels of truth there worth following up.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
There’s been some talk of others independently wanting to start up foreign-language versions of the site, which I think would be really neat, but I won’t be directly involved.

Another person is helping me with creating a widget for others to add to their blog and potentially a Facebook application. I’m considering the idea of doing a “best of today’s responses” list that will get sent out via Twitter, but I’m not sure if I really like that idea or not just yet.

I might take the time eventually to do a really thorough analysis of the responses and perhaps write something on it, but that’s further in the future. As someone who’s a nerd about data and loves to read reports, I know others might appreciate something like that.

Finally, I’m also debating if I want to add revenue-generating features to the site.

4) Why are you doing this?
It initially started as an experiment I wanted to conduct that stemmed from a variety of things I’d read, discussions I had with friends and just generally observing the industry turmoil.

I have my own opinions on the journalism industry and made up my mind to leave it, but I wanted to see the responses from those who’d been in the industry longer than me about their impressions of what’s wrong with the profession today. I was curious to know if others had thoughts echoing my own.

So, I created the site with the idea that I wanted to get the unfiltered, raw angst of the industry’s workforce in the most efficient way possible.

5) What does it cost to use it?
It’s 100 per cent free. Users will never be bombarded with advertisements while surfing the site, nor will they ever have to register, give an e-mail address or jump through any other hurdles to participate.

6) How will you make it pay?
From the beginning, I’ve made a commitment to not put advertising on the site. For me, the purpose of the site wasn’t to make money, but to provide a forum for the industry to be brutally honest with itself.

The costs associated with the site are extremely low and I consider the time spent like that of a person spending time on one of their hobbies. Plus, I see advertising as annoying and there’s increasing evidence that online display advertising is becomes less effective. I didn’t see a point in cluttering my layout and distracting from the content.

Still, this doesn’t mean I’m opposed to finding ways to cover the few costs I have and maybe make some additional cash. I’ve been toying with a few ideas.

One would involve creating a job board on the site. However, there are already several great resources for journalism jobs. I’d want to find a way to make my job board more effective and less impersonal.

Another idea is to sell merchandise. I really like the idea of AngryJournalist.com coffee mugs on the desks of reporters in newsrooms across the country. Also, T-shirts with some of the responses could be mildly entertaining.

I’m also considering writing a book based on the responses. Conceptually, I see it as part critique on the industry, part management techniques with a healthy dose of dark newsroom humour.

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BBC stance on pulling images from social networks

The ease of availability of a picture does not remove the BBC’s responsibility to assess the sensitivities in using it, according to the editor of BBC News online.

Writing on the BBC Editors Blog, Steve Herman stated that the question of the ethics of pulling pictures from social networking sites has bee raised by colleagues during an editorial standards meeting.

As a result of that meeting a newsletter is produced, he wrote, summarising  discussions circulated to staff to offer guidance.

The advice offered to BBC reporters is that because material has been put into the public domain does not necessarily give the media the right to use it, primarily because the BBC would bring significantly greater public attention than would normally be expected.

The newsletter added that consideration on the original context and the impact of re-use to those who may be grieving or distressed must also be applied.

Legal, copyright and accuracy of the image should also be at the forefront of reporters minds when considering use of images from social sites.

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‘Bloggers will fall by the wayside’ says PCC chairman

February 19th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Many bloggers will ‘fall by the wayside’, because they lack integrity, Sir Christopher Meyer, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), told the Yorkshire Post.

Meyer, who was speaking ahead of a PCC open day in Leeds, said blogs would undergo a process of ‘natural selection’ by readers:

“There are publications which fall under our responsibility, and there is some wild and woolly stuff on the internet that does not. As far as blogs are concerned, I believe there will be a process of natural selection. Readers will soon sort out what they can rely on and what they can’t. As time goes by, a lot of these bloggers will fall by the wayside.

“If you have a well-known and respected brand, that is very important. The integrity of the brand becomes very important, and if you can see information in that publication or on the website that tells you that you can go to the PCC if you wish to raise a grievance, then it becomes a reinforcement of that brand’s integrity. You’re not going to get that on a blog.”

Meyer also expressed concerns about citizen journalism and again urged readers to use news websites that show ‘integrity’, such as newspaper websites.

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Media Guardian: Media industry’s unpaid 288m overtime bill

February 18th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

The TUC says media professionals work unpaid overtime worth nearly £300 million a year.

Writing int he Guardian, John Plunkett say if you are a journalist, PR, photographer or work in broadcasting, then you are 50 per cent more likely to work overtime for free.

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Case study blogs: back-to-front journalism or wider perspective?

February 13th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism

The launch of a new blog to help journalists find case studies has been questioned by student journalist and blogger Dave Lee, who says such projects provide case studies representing too narrow a field.

While not directly attacking the Getting Ink Requests blog, Lee is concerned that such groups are set-up and perpetuated by journalists, and as such will only provide case studies representing a narrow section of society.

Lee goes on to criticise what he describes as the ‘”think of story, find case study” process’ saying it leads to ‘[F]eatures to order… There will always be an element of “you’ll do” about it.’

But as Lee offers no practical alternatives for journalists (as one commenter puts it) who are told to find ‘three case studies in 24 hours’ his post has met with some critical reactions.

Lee adds that his gripe is not with the individual journo under pressure, but with the introspective nature of the process, e.g. using personal contacts, particularly those within the industry, to find case studies.

Fair enough, but this is what journalists have always done and that’s not going to change. Regardless of who sets them up, using social networks and blogs to make case study requests will inevitably give journalists access to new sources, increase participation and ultimately give a wider representation of society.

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Web feeds in Independent’s newsroom could cause ’stress’

February 11th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

The Observer’s media diary reports that the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is concerned over new plasma screens in the Independent’s newsroom, which display feeds from the paper’s recently relaunched website.

“We are worried that such large visual displays are being sited directly above staff, and the stress they could bring through visual disturbance and heat,” the NUJ is quoted as saying in yesterday’s Observer media diary.

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