Friday, January 19, 2007

workflow

I know, not a very glamorous topic, you might not even get this far.

That being said, the importance of establishing a workflow for multimedia and editing oversight becomes important as a group moves from introduction to establishment. We are in the process of negotiating who check off on what, when they do it, who is responsible for what, who decides when something launches.

There is an interesting dynamic between the ‘artistic’ side who want to tweak projects and improve them and the once it is published it is done crowd. There is also a side debate about if it is published with errors what does that say about us and the message we are trying to convey.

So, a workflow already exists for writers’ copy, photographers’ work, paginators’ pages, so who is in charge of oversight of multimedia? How many cooks should be in the kitchen cooking, who should be plating and who is the head chef ( to extend a metaphor too far )? Seriously though, workflow has evolved over time into what is established at newspapers, so start thinking about your own process before organized chaos becomes the norm.

2 comments:

Andrew said...

I think I fall into all the categories that you've described. This is mostly a symptom of feeling like a story is never really done. Take for instance my story on Brenda and Richard:
http://photo.medina-gazette.com/projects/stories/november2006/brendaandrichard/index.htm

Richard is somewhere in a neighboring county, lurking in the shadows, probably looking for another way to kidnap his daughter from her foster home — something he was successful in doing a few months ago, before the Cleveland Police finally spotted him. What are his thoughts? What is he feeling? How is he managing to live day to day?

Brenda is in a location that I'm not permitted to disclose, but will be attending the final custody hearing of her daughter, this coming Friday. What is she thinking/feeling/doing right now?

Is it possible for me to meet up with her before the hearing to answer some of the questions that I have, or document her current state of existence? Nope. I have to work with what I've been handed — daily assignments — until after the hearing. So, even before the "workflow", there is workflow.

Now that no pressure exists to get the story published and into the publics' consciousness, in theory I have as much time as I want or need to tell this story the way it needs to be told — in a chapter format, with graphics such as maps, and audio that is more thoughtfully edited.

It's incumbent upon me to make their whole story more accessible to the public. And, if I were in control, I would have held the publishing of a multimedia version of their story until the appropriate time.

On to post-production:

In a time when the younger journalists out there in the working world find themselves teaching multimedia production to their editors, and well-seasoned co-workers, the issue of workflow can become a painful topic — especially when the rudimentary basics of navigating an operating system, database management, and toning for print production are problematic.

So, within a newsroom where you have only yourself to look to for workflow assistance and the decision making process of when to launch, where does the younger photojournalist turn???

This is where the organized chaos begins, and it's our responsibility as the slightly green journalists to set a standard for workflow and production — even if that means putting the camera down for a few more hours per day than what's comfortable. In the end, I would hope that it pays off.

Andrew said...

I'd like to make a few more comments about my own posting from yesterday.

We're all in this together, and I certainly don't intend to convey any perceived degree of elitism when I talk about younger journalists teaching the more seasoned journalists the ropes of multimedia production. It's an accessible skill-set to everyone — without a doubt. However, the younger journalists do have the upper hand by virtue of being taught the technical skills within a classroom environment.

I was speaking out of slight desperation and frustration because of experiences I'm having in my own newsroom having to do with upper management. Enough said.

It's my responsibility to look past the issues that I have absolutely no control over, and remain focused on the most effective manner of positively contributing to the success of multimedia within our photo department, which involves having to teach myself HTML/CSS — something that I think Mike has endeavoured to teach himself, and can probably sympathize with the "bleeding-eye syndrome". Ugh. Finding joy in this part of the learning process is a little difficult at times, especially when it's something that I really only have the time to do off the clock.

That is all.