Dylan Stableford looks at the US magazine industry’s plight: rapidly declining single-copy sales and advertising pages plummeting in number last year. Yet magazines are offering big discounts. For example, ESPN The Magazine’s 2 million subscribers can extend their subscriptions for a year – for $1. Is this approach ‘publishing suicide’?
The Globe and Mail looks at the blogger anonymity case in the US sparking debate across the world.
The blogger unmasked by Google – as the result of a New York court order last week – is now threatening legal action against the company. The Globe and Mail’s Josh Wingrove writes:
“Is calling someone a ‘ho’ on a blog worthy of the anonymity afforded to the writings of the American Founding Fathers 200 years ago?
“That’s the basis of a landmark internet privacy debate sparked this week in connection with a looming civil suit against web giant Google Inc. The company is facing a potential $15-million (U.S.) lawsuit by a once-anonymous blogger, Rosemary Port, after it complied with a New York court order last week and released her name.”
- Related: BBC Radio 4 Today programme featured a discussion this morning with Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes, and Dr Vince Miller, a lecturer in sociology at Kent University. Listen again at this link.
In the wake of news that Fairfax – Australia’s major newspaper owner – has posted a net loss of $380 million for the year to June 30, its managing director has said he he would be ‘happy to talk’ to his rival, Murdoch’s News Corporation, about paid content plans.
Fairfax’s newspapers includeThe Sydney Morning Herald, The Age in Melbourne, and The Australian Financial Review.
This is the second in a series of six blog posts by Adam Westbrook, each with six tips for the next generation of freelance multimedia journalists, republished here with permission.
Video has by far and away become the most popular medium for the multimedia journalist – to the extent it almost seems many won’t consider it a truly multimedia project unless it’s got a bit of video in it. The thing is, video is a tricky medium and must be treated differently in the world of online journalism.
1) Video doesn’t need to be expensive
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t do video just because you haven’t got any cash. Sure, if you want to go right to the top range, say a Sony EX3, Final Cut Pro and After Effects, yes, it’s going to set you back about £3,000 ($5,000). But high quality can be achieved on lower budgets.
2) Shoot for the edit
If there’s one piece of advice for multimedia journalists making films – it comes from Harris Watts, in a book he published 20 years ago. In ‘Directing on Camera’ he describes exactly what shooting footage is:
“Shooting is collecting pictures and sound for editing (…) so when you shoot, shoot for editing. Take your shots in a way that keeps your options open.”
Filming with the final piece firmly in mind will keep your shooting focused and short. So when you start filming, start looking for close ups and sequences. The latter is the hardest: an action which tells your story, told over two or more shots.
Sequences are vital to storytelling and must be thought through.
3) Master depth of field
In online video, close-ups matter. The most effective way to hold close-ups – especially of a person – is to master depth of field. Put simply the depth of field how much of your shot in front of and behind your subject is kept in focus. It is controlled by the aperture on your camera – so you’ll need a camera with a manual iris setting.
Your aim – especially with close-ups – is to have your subject in clear focus, and everything behind them blurred: Alexandra Garcia does it very well in her Washington Post In-Scene series. (HT: Innovative Interactivity)
Here’s a quick guide to getting to grips with depth of field:
- you need a good distance between the camera and subject
- a good distance between the subject and the background
- and a low f-stop on your iris – around f2.8, depending on how much light there is in your scene. A short focal length does this too.
- You may need to zoom in on your subject from a distance
4) Never wallpaper
If there was ever an example of the phrase ‘easier said than done’ this would be it. It’s a simple tip on first read: make sure every shot in your film is there for a reason. But with pressures of time or bad planning you can often find yourself ‘wallpapering’ shots just to fill a gap.
“One simple rule will dramatically improve your television packaging: never use a shot – any shot – as wallpaper’. Never just write across pictures as though they weren’t there, leaving the viewer wondering what they’re looking at. Never ever.”
5) Look for the detail and the telling shot
Broadcast journalists are taught to look for the ‘telling shot’, and more often than not make it the first image. If your story is about a fire at a school, the first thing the audience need to see is the school on fire. If it’s about a woman with cancer, we must see her in shot immediately.
But the telling shot extends further: you can enhance your storytelling by looking for little details which really bring your story to life.
Vin Ray says looking for the little details are what set great camera operators apart from the rest:
“Small details make a big difference. Nervous hands; pictures on a mantelpiece; someone whispering into an ear; a hand clutching a toy; details of a life.”
I’m midway through shooting a short documentary about a former prisoner turned lawyer. One of the first things I noticed when I met him was a copy of the Shawshank Redemption on his coffee table – a great little vignette to help understand the character.
6) Break the rules
The worst thing a multimedia journalist can do when producing video for the web is to replicate television – unless that’s your commission of course. TV is full of rules and formulas, all designed to hide edits, look good to the eye, and sometimes deceive. Fact is, online video journalism provides the chance to escape all that.
Sure it must look good, but be prepared to experiment – you’ll be amazed what people will put up with online:
- Cutaways are often used to cover over edits in interviews; why not be honest and use a simple flash-dissolve instead. Your audience deserves to know where you’ve edited, right?
- TV packages can’t operate without being leaden with voice over, but your online films don’t need to be.
- Piece to cameras don’t need to be woodenly delivered with the camera on a tripod.
“When it comes to the net, there is no code yet as I believe that is set in stone (…) we’ve all been taking TV’s language and applying that and it hasn’t quite worked. Video journalism needs a more cinematic, heightened visual base.”
Independent News & Media ‘will likely agree another extension to a standstill deal with holders of a 200 million euro ($283 million) bond originally due for repayment in May’, an industry source said, according to Reuters. It reported today:
“The Irish publishing group has until Aug. 27 to agree a deal with holders of the senior debt but the industry source, who declined to be named because talks are ongoing, said another rollover was inevitable as this month’s deadline looms.”
INM declined to comment, Reuters said.
Taking inspiration from the Harper’s Magazine signature feature, Portfolio.com has produced the Reader’s Digest Index, following yesterday’s news that the US magazine is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Here are a few of the most pertinent Reader’s Digest facts, as reported by Portfolio:
- Current debt: $1.6 billion.
- Amount of interest payment owed today: $27 million.
- Number of US employees let go in 2009: 300.
- Chapter by which its parent company is filing to protect itself: 11.
- Percentage it hopes to reduce its debt: 75.
In this interview with Catherine Gluckstein, the VP of Getty Image’s iStock, which the photo agency bought back in 2006, discusses the difficulties of finding a business model for images from citizen journalists.
Getty’s own foray into the cit-j space saw it buy and later shutdown Scoopt.
“[A] lot of people who take the pictures are not necessarily trying to monetise them – it works best when they send them to the news organisations,” explains Gluckstein.
iStock, which is a pro-am microstock play, is finding success with timeless images, she says. Contributors receive up to 40 per cent commission with images sold to users from $0.95 each.
Gluckstein, who is also CFO of Life.com – the resurrected photo magazine, also comments on the role of social media as a significant driver of traffic to the site.
News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch announced yesterday that within a year the Times, the Sun, and the New York Post will all be charging for access to their websites.
“”Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalising its ability to produce good journalism,” he said yesterday as he announced a $3.4bn loss for News Corp, which owns 20th Century Fox, Fox News and Sky TV as well as newspapers.”
John Mair is a senior lecturer in broadcasting at Coventry University. He was born in Guyana and regularly returns there to help build local media, print and TV. Previous posts looked at the Caricom Summit held July 2-5 in Georgetown. Trinidad and Barbados were the final stops.
After experiencing Guyanese ‘journalism’ during the Caricom summit, any order is better. In Trinidad, there is much economic prosperity due to oil and natural gas: ‘What recession?’ they ask here. The economy is healthy but the society has some of the fissures of Guyana.
Indians were brought here in thousands as indentured labourers to replace the freed black slaves one hundred and seventy years ago. They live in the south of the island, the African Trinidadians in the North. They have much of the wealth, the prime minister and his ruling PNM party are black and have the political power.
There is much violent crime – especially kidnappings and murders – and that is the staple fare of the super tabloids who make up the Trinidad & Tobago newspaper market. The Guardian, the Express and Newsday are much the same. Screaming headlines on the cover but much content inside. They are big in pagination and include lots of classified ads.
Politics gets a big shout and through that the racial dimension. The leader of the opposition (at the moment) Basdeo Panday is Indo-Trinidadian. He was prime minister until 2001 but was driven from office for alleged corruption. Today his UNC is breaking into bits.
His former attorney general Ramesh Marhaj is leading a ginger group/internal opposition within the party together with another MP – Jack Warner, who runs football in this part of the world, is vice-chair of FIFA and has been the subject of critical investigations on British TV about his dodgy behaviour in that job.
Warner’s son sold the travel packages and tickets for Trinidadians to the to the 2006 World Cup. Panday wants Warner to account for $30m (T&T) of election expenses. Warner says it was money he gave the party so no need to account. This makes the British MPs look tame.
Columnists abound on the pages of the T&T press. Different races. All have views. Many far too prolix for the page. Sub-editing is not a craft that seems to have been found in the Southern Caribbean. But the three dailies and the local TV news programmes – sadly also divided on racial lines – make for lively reading and listening. Crime sells. They certainly put the fear of God into the bank manager cousin with whom I was staying.
Keeping awake in Barbados
Not so Barbados. The problem here for a journalist is keeping awake. The best description for the Barbados Nation and Advocate? Stodgy, boring, dull. They make the Bedworth Advertiser look interesting. Boring headlines and even duller stories. It is like reading a parish newsletter for a nation.
The ‘news’ is based on government news conferences and other press conferences by NGOs and the like. On such sexy subjects like polyclinics, insurance and diabetes. Again, writing is prolix and not of great quality.
Barbados is a very polite and ordered society (the murder rate is a fraction of Trinidad’s) and that shows in its press. The hacks need to get themselves some more balls. The TV news is not much better.
There we have it. Prosperity, tabloid culture, Little England and the news values of British suburbia. Funny how they all travel. But Blighty calls.
According to a new report from Borrell Associates, local advertisers and businesses will make up 74 per cent of Facebook’s ad revenue this year – around $229 million.
Mashable points out that Facebook makes geographic targeting of ads particularly easy. But the proportion is significantly higher than the amount of revenue from local advertisers expected for MySpace and Twitter.