Digital mojo and I will be on vacation for the rest of this week.
Check out a cool, for me, Flash package at the WDT this Sunday.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Finishing up on the word for the week: creativity.
Richard Koci Hernandez and the crew up at the San Jose Mercury News put together a fun slide show package on the Amgen Tour of California visit to town. Photographed by Joanne Ho-Young Lee, Patrick Tehan*, Maria J. Avila-Lopez*, Pauline Lubens* and Nhat V. Meyer and sound recorded by the folks denoted with an asterisk. The photo editing was done by Geri Migielicz and richard and then richard produced the packages.
What I like the most are the ways to add cinematic effects to the slide show itself. The opening sequence is great and some of the triptychs inside work,others I would do differently, but that is me and the beauty of the art form.
What is really impressive is doing this on deadline and the solid use of audio and background music.
I like how much Richard (we have never met) pushes boundaries and I picked up a few tricks myself that might have added some sparkle to my boxing piece.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:41 PM
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Yesterday I posted two fun links, one about Line Rider and the other about machinma.
So as to not belabor the point, I did not explain why I thought they might be of interest in the world of journalism. So here we go...
Firstly, I think journalists should have more fun, both doing their work and with their work. Obviously some subjects preclude this approach, but how much fun is your brother who is always serious, honestly, not a lot.
Secondly, these are great examples of how consumers/viewers took something and made it their own, customized content and were creative with content. If you take the time to watch a number of Red vs. Blue episodes, there is some great commentary on gamers, but even deeper an interesting take on war and fighting.
Somewhat related to this is the idea of audience participation. We are so used to providing content via a newspaper (one way transmission), that we don’t take the time to understand YouTube and other sites, similar phenomena online. Flash packages and multimedia are the first advances into providing news consumers the power to explore stories their own way.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, these are great examples of imagination. People can do some really neat things with stuff that we might not think about them doing with our stuff. So perhaps news organizations, formerly newspapers [ NOFN ( as an acronym it looks like no fun doesn’t it?) ] need to be more willing to provide ways and means for consumers to do things with our content in ways we cannot imagine and hold on for the ride. Talk about revolutionary.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 12:25 PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Today’s word is: fun.
I know, I know, journalists should not have any fun.
If you are not aware of Line Rider check out the site.
If you want to see some examples of what you can do with too much free time, visit YouTube for some people's neat projects.
Slate's package on machinma [definition: movies made with characters and graphics from videogames] and article are interesting. The best known, and well written example of this genre is Red vs. Blue.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:45 PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
New York Magazine has a fun piece titled,'You Must Be Streaming: In a sudden reversal of fortune, newspapers have taken to online video and might just beat TV news at its own game.'
The general idea is that news organizations, formerly newspapers, that are evolving, are starting to the kind of work that TV could do, used to do, or don’t think audiences will enjoy. (Watch Good night, and good luck if you haven’t already, Edward R. Murrow is far more eloquent than I.)
This article just continues to underline some of the many threads on this blog. Do good, quality work, evolve, tell interesting stories and who knows, you might be around when the printing press becomes obsolete.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:28 PM
Some very cool food for thought today:
Isabel Chang, a self-described web artist has a very cool piece on the God’s of Chinatown. The interface and navigation is very cool.
The Star-Tribune has a great piece on Liberians in Minnesota that navigates very easily, integrates Flash, video, html story text and audio sound slides very seamlessly.
Finally, Will Yurman has a clean, simple appearing package on women’s self-image called My Body MySelf that is a nice piece of journalism.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:18 PM
Monday, February 19, 2007
I finally got around to watching 'Good night, and good luck.' This film about Edward R. Murrow and his taking on Senator Eugene McCarthy made me look up some interesting quotes from the man who apparently saw more of the future than people think.
'The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.'
Edward R. Murrow
'The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.'
Edward R. Murrow
'We cannot make good news out of bad practice.'
Edward R. Murrow
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:45 PM
Richard Koci-Hernandez of the San Jose Mercury News makes some great points with his latest 'journal' entry (he doesn’t want to be considered a blogger) 'A Desperate Plea.'
A colleague sent me a heads-up on this and talked about his own frustrations in our field. In one sense the newcomers to photojournalism/multimedia journalism have an advantage - technology, and are also at a disadvantage - learning to tell stories visually with more things to juggle on their shift.
When I started in this field, all I had to worry about was learning how to tell stories visually, either through singles or multiple images. Now a days, new folks juggle shooting, recording, learning and teaching new technology and code.
Not to belabor the point, I think Richard hits the nail on the head with two things, it is about TELLING THE STORY and it is about QUALITY. I would agree with him that a more cinematic approach is where news organizations (formerly newspapers) will be doing their best storytelling online, through video, stills, multimedia and interactive Flash packages.
Copying bad television online is just being lazy. Our audience is visually educated by TV, movies, magazines and ads, we should acknowledge this and produce quality work that captures their imaginations and hearts. There are great, fun ways to tell stories these days. I spend more time these days trying to expand how our print journalists think about telling stories, demonstrating how we can better tell stories online and in print.
The key, will be quality. More often than not, quality takes time. Either thinking things through beforehand or in 'production time' after leaving the office and returning. Now, more than ever, workflow becomes an issue. If a story can best be told with video, then shoot that. If it is a single, get in done and move on. If a story grows as you are covering it, communicate back to the office and adjust as needed.
I agree with Richard that we should take chances and utilize all the tools we have. But we should also think things through, and use the right tool in our kit. If we over cover something that doesn’t deserve it, or under cover a great story then we are failing as journalists. All the technology does not replace the digital journalist’s brain in thinking through and about their story. That is our biggest asset, we need to use it more frequently.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:15 AM
Friday, February 16, 2007
Multimedia Starter Kit:
Olympus OS-2 Recorder
This is what drives the boat, soundslides.
Audio editor by audacity.
This is also a nice program for galleries. How to use it from multimediashooter himself (or read the manual).
Check out the Multimedia Bootcamp.
You can get this through the NPPA. Mindy McAdams book Flash Journalism rocks!
Helps me customize the HTML of our projects.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:41 AM
I am seeing the future and you are not going to believe it.
Check out some full screen Flash video samples that will rock your world, no pun intended.
Apparently DSL connections might be slightly jerky now and then.
From Fabio Sonnati’s web site Flash Video.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:26 AM
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I am sure you have heard about the University of Missouri-Columbia study, based on 10 years of financial data, that found that news quality affects profit more than spending on circulation, advertising and other parts of the business.
Imagine that. The quality of your product is important, if not key.
I do not understand all of these newspapers that cut reporters and photographers in a cost-cutting approach. So you are eliminating the people who produce, find, and focus on the product that you then sell to advertisers. Hmmmm.
Now at least there is a report that greedy Wall Street types can ignore as they continue to slash and burn. Vive the newsroom.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:31 PM
So, after listening as another reheated Valentine Day’s story idea was pitched, NPR did a great little piece yesterday called Galactic Gold: A Valentine Story.
So, this is not really multimedia you point out. You are probably right.
The clever idea they demonstrate is how to revisit a story that comes around every year and cover it in a new an interesting way...how does the gold get to your finger (if you are married, are wearing a wedding band, and it is made out of gold).
What caught my ear and imagination was the story itself. It is quite interesting, have a listen. The primary lesson is that it takes imagination, a little creativity and guts to tell the usual story in a different way. Kudos NPR!
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:59 AM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The NYT (New York Times for non New Yorkers) came out with a neat internet video section this weekend called the First Ones. Ironically enough my wife read the latest Sunday magazine and pointed me toward the site.
I am very much in favor of the clean video and clear sound. The smaller screen of the internet pushes the journalist toward cleaner backgrounds to simply things. There are some nice film qualities to the presentation, since Jake Paltrow directed things, that is not a surprise.
I for one am glad to see journalism “loosening up” a bit. I would like top see them interview non-celebs next, not unlike the Washington Post’s onBeing’s ongoing project.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:48 PM
Monday, February 12, 2007
OK, I am slow, I admit it.
I was just looking at the Brass Tacks web site and found some interesting food for thought.
As newspapers work to deal with the new realities of the internet here are the bullets from Alan Jacobson. Food for thought:
1 Get real about the Internet
2 Tie journalists' pay to circulation
3 Ignore your loyal readers
4 Stop running news stories
5 Feed the cash cow
6 Drop the price
7 Solve the online revenue riddle
8 Promote as if success depends upon it
9 Join hands and sing Kumbaya
Check out the whole article New Rules for Newspapers.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:54 PM
It is official, if it wasn’t before, it is now.
Both the LA Times and the NYT are moving to the internet. Yes, I know they have web sites already, what I am referring to is that they are looking to maintain and increase their web generated advertising to offset their print costs and declining print advertising.
Some interesting thoughts, in random order:
A. What happens to people who are not computer literate, cannot afford computers or internet connection?
B. Will the 24 hr. news cycle lead to a decrease in news content and quality?
C. Should newspapers be profit-making businesses or non-profits?
D. Will newsrooms and TV stations be able to keep the journalist staffs they need to adequately cover their area?
E. What will news organizations (formerly newspapers) do as competition becomes national and international, instead of local?
F. What is your organizations competitive advantage?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 12:01 PM
The headline and lead paragraph from the San Francisco Chronicle say it all:
Tonight at 11, news by neighbors:
Santa Rosa TV station fires news staff, to ask local folks to provide programming
Steve Spendlove realizes that after last month's layoffs of most of the news-gathering staff at tiny KFTY-TV in Santa Rosa there will be less local coverage. The Clear Channel executive overseeing the station knows there won't be reporters to investigate local scandals, let alone do those fluffy woman-turns-100 features that make TV anchors cock their heads and smile at the end of a newscast.
It is especially troubling when you pair it with the ethical levels that journalists are expected to maintain while covering news. If you have been reading the Sunday NYT their ombudsman has been addressing freelancer ethics questions for almost a month now. In the NPPA magazine New Photographer there is a column that covers ethics training and then a paper’s announcement about using reader generated content.
Let me be very clear, I think reader/viewer generated content and participation is important for the future. The important cutoff line for me is news. I think readers blogs and columns are good ideas. I would draw the line for user generated work at news coverage, perhaps even at spot news coverage, although that is becoming a grayer line.
So, when does cheap, untrained and potentially biased start to threaten how we think of news in this country?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:38 AM
Last Friday night on my way out the door, our photo editor, a staff photographer and myself had a brief discussion about sound and visuals. I was saying that it might be fun to mix up certain sounds and the pictures of people making the sounds in an audio slide show.
Then, not to my surprise I heard an interview with professor Jack Sullivan on NPR about Alfred Hitchock’s work with composers Bernard Hermann and Miklos Rozsa. Sullivan talked about how Hitchock used seemingly incongruent sound with visuals to send subtle and not-so-subtle clues to audiences.
What’s old is new again. But it is still a fun idea.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:13 AM
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
The Washington Post just launched their onBeing video series today. Really very nice, a breath of fresh air in the video world of newspapers.
My only concern is that some of the cuts are too quick in the interviews....I almost want more time and space for people to think. If I had to guess, people might have said things that didn't fit into the edit and there was not enough time or space to build in. Having edited audio long enough, I realize the difficulty in editing around that problem. It is perhaps most noticeable in the Sister Ann Elizabeth interview, but it is still the best interview none-the-less.
Overall Jennifer Crandall gets some great interviews and the interface is fun and the content is great. Yes, the content is interesting (hear that newspaper world?).
I am looking forward to the next installment.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 1:57 PM
Friday, February 2, 2007
The January NPPA multimedia wins are posted. Here are the projects that caught my eye:
I am very sure that Richard Koci Hernandez is going to amount to something in our field, mark my words ;) I think what I really like about his work is that he introduces an artistic flair and touch that have fun, something that is often missing in journalism. His third season is wonderful.
The Washington Post's Preston Keres’s 'Drumline' made me think back to the 2002 movie of the same name, which is a good thing. It is a great piece of video. Subjects matter, this is a piece that video really works.
Scott Simmie of the Toronto Star also found a great subject and made a memorable video production on a winter artist, although a touch too long for my taste.
The Tampa Bay Tribune had a solid piece on a Down’s Syndrome child named Thalia who is remarkable in her own way.
Jim Gehrz at the Star-Tribune shows again why he is one of the masters in our field with his 'A Prayer for Father Tim.'
Posted by Michael Fagans at 10:54 AM
In the January issue of the NPPA’s magazine News Photographer, Stewart Pittman is a journalist at WGHP-TV in Greensboro, N.C. provided a perspective column on the Top 10 things to teach a television reporter. Stewart, who writes a blog that is apparently moving soon, provides some good insights that are valuable to all digital journalists in his magazine piece.
1. Write to your video (multimedia).
2. Have a plan.
3. The Story is not you.
4. Try not to over explain things.
7. Mind the natural sound (shut up).
8. Man-on-the-street interviews are the curse of the weak.
10. Know when to blend (in).
It sounds like the list for TV news photographers is similar to print photographers and is good advice for still photographers moving into soundslides. There are times that a digital journalist might want to use video, might want to use stills or combine both and add audio recorded separately.
In the same issue there is a story about TV going tapeless, more on the implications of that in a later blog entry.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:39 AM