Tuesday, September 25, 2007

SoundSlides project on hiking

Martin Ricard reports that he got the resources and time to do a multimedia project. "And I think it turned out well (for my second one ever)," he says. Let him know what you think.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My first post-seminar video

So, yesterday I reported on a local woman who is going to receive a Habitat for Humanity house that's being built by college students. While reporting, I also recorded the group while they worked.

The whole process took just a few hours. I used a number of the quotes from the video in my story. I was on deadline, so I didn't have enough time to edit the video on my own. I still want to try my hand at editing, but first I have to master recording.

Here is a link to the video.

-- Marquita Brown

Friday, August 24, 2007

Blog post about blogging

Journalism Educator Mindy McAdams recaps a conversation about blogs with Bridget Gutierrez of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Jamie Gumbrecht of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. Mindy believes the comments by the two journalists bloggers might be helpful as other journalists talk with their editors about blogging.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First soundslide up and running, sort of ...

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to tell everyone I got my first soundslide up and running (well, it has a few kinks, but I certainly learned a few lessons). It's on the first day of school in Lincoln. Please, offer me any suggestions you might have. Making mistakes is the best way to learn.


Kevin Abourezk

Monday, August 20, 2007

Video training for print journalists

Sounds and images from our video training were captured by Mindy McAdams of the University of Florida in this SoundSlides project.

Friday, August 17, 2007

In conclusion ...

I can't believe the week has come and gone that fast ...

I learned so many new things this week, I almost feel like I was part of something illegal. Like some top secret, backwoods, underground information that I'm supposed to share with the world, yet not tell the world how I got it.

Whether it be John-John challenging a speaker on if his online publication was actually making money (it wasn't) on the first day or Team 7's constant clowning at the end, the week was full of memories.

The feeling of discovery when Mark Briggs introduced us to RSS feeds or Al Tompkins divulging new sites we can go to find damn near any information we needed was unmatched.

I think Mindy McAdams is my new secret girlfriend. She could've taught something all 6 days and I wouldn't have tired of it. Especially on how to use and edit audio for the web. I connected with that instantly because that's the stuff I've been wanting to do at my paper, especially now that I'll be doing sports. But Soundslides are such a powerful way of telling a story that I'm completely enamored with the idea.

The video info we received was informative as well. I know it's been a long time since I was able to do any video editing work but I feel like that's another future challenge that I'll be looking forward to tackling.

To the staff, instructors and presenters who organized the event, I'm very appreciative of everything. Kate, thanks for allowing me to be one of the first 21.

Yvette - my Nashville momma - thanks for taking care of everything as you always do. You're my homegirl.

Aunt Pearl, I only saw you for a couple days, but it was definitely good to see and talk to you for a bit.

John Seigenthaler - my favorite white man - thanks again for everything. Wikipedia can't hold a candle to who you truly are ...

And I also want to send a big thanks to Robbie Morganfield, who is leaving the Freedom Forum and Diversity Institute at the end of the month to pursue another chapter in his life on the East Coast. Robbie is the one who helped mold me as one - of about 80 other aspiring journalists (including Martin and Leah) - of many bold journalists taking knowledge into newsrooms all across the nation and keeping the "old guard" on their toes. I owe him a deep gratitude and put it down, Deacon Morganfield!!!

Okay, class. We're armed and dangerous with all kinds of potent information. Let's get to shootin'!!!!!!

Whatever endeavors you choose to partake in the future, just make it happen.

Thanks for a great week everybody!!!

Jonathan Babalola

The Noblesville (Ind.) Daily Times

- "I don't know the key to success, but I do know the key to failure is trying to make everybody happy."

The Cherry on Top

What a whirlwind of new information, training and terminology this has been. These projects were great fun. And it's been so satisfying to see the finished products. We rock.

Thank you Freedom Forum for throwing me into this, putting awesome equipment at my fingertips and for bringing such gracious, knowledgeable teachers and colleagues to guide me through.

And the cherry on top -- Despite many complications and setbacks, I was able to finish my Sound Slide project this morning with the help of Tom Costello and his trusty Mac. Thank you Tom. Most satisfying.

I can't wait to go back to my newsroom and pitch my first Sound Slides project. I've got lots of ideas...

~Tonya Alanez


Team 5 ... (myself, Tonya Alanez and Tate' Finn) ... worked on our video presentation and it was three styles (though at times clashing) which came together and put together a pretty outstanding 80-second video piece. Big thanks to Glenn Hartong from The Cincinnati Enquirer, Thomas Costello from Asbury Park Press and Anne Saul from Gannett for all their help. I haven't done any video editing since my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison- more than a decade ago and YES, I'm repping U-Dub- so things have definitely changed. I think we were all excited with how the final product came out although the project would've been perfect with just a little more
WHITE BALANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(And yes, people, John Siegenthaler is a white man, not Cablinasian liked he looked on our project.)

Jonathan Babalola
Noblesville (Ind.) Daily Times

seminar reflections...

Last year I went to Poynter for a seminar on untold stories. My colleagues and I participated in a variety of lectures and assignments tailored to challenge how we view our sources and how we frame their stories.
By the end of that week-long training, our group leader said we had gone from "untold" to "well told."
I feel that same sense of accomplishment with the Freedom Forum's online training. I arrived last Sunday in Nashville with no prior experience using a flash drive or holding a microphone. I was unsure of journalism and its future direction.
What a difference a week makes.
I blogged. I told stories through sounds. I can compose a photo. I also can shoot video and will never underestimate white balance, clear audio, lighting and the need for enough B-roll.
The work involved in producing an audio slideshow or video presentation is long and detailed. It requires good planning, patience and precision.
The principles of journalism are unchanged. I've only picked up new skills and tools to enhance a reader's experience with stories. I'm excited about these platforms.
Thank you, thank you, Kate for making the seminar happen. Thank you speakers and trainers for your time and support.
Tom Costello and Glenn Hartong: You guys rock! Thanks for believing in Team 1 despite our 40-minute delay beginning our first interview.
Mindy McAdams: I'd move to Florida to take your classes.
Amy Eisman: "Dudette," thanks for your critique of my newspaper's Web site. Noted. I'll pass on to the staff.
Al Tompkins: Great dialogue about ethics in the online world. I had wondered whether our newsroom had guidelines but had not thought to ask. That's changed.
John Siegenthaler: Thanks for your wisdom and strong convictions. You are an inspiration.
-Jenny Espino

In my own words

This might be my only chance to editorialize on something, so I'm going to take this opportunity to say how I feel.

This seminar has been an eye-opening experience. Not just because I learned a lot about multimedia journalism that I didn't know before. But I gained something that some people in this world simply choose to ignore: a future mindset.

What I mean by this is that some people you encounter on a daily basis would rather stay where they feel most comfortable. They refuse to change. But in reality, they're probably just scared of change.

And, in some ways, I used to be that person. I used to think that I could never be a journalist. But I've learned that when you step out on faith and embrace the future, only good things can happen.

So I am proud of the journalists who came here and recognized the need to learn multimedia, because they understood that in order to survive in this industry -- and to grow -- embracing the future of journalism was necessary.

Anyway, this may be a little abstract. But my point is this: We can't be afraid to think different or else we will never truly know who we can be.

This is Martin Ricard, signing off. Peace.

Crash course

I've spent so much time learning new things at this seminar, I didn't have much time to blog. Here's my grab bag of thoughts on what I learned and what it was like being part of this experience.
The past three days, in particular, have been a blur. We had awesome equipment to work with as we practiced recording audio, shooting pictures, building sound slides, recording video and editing video. Jamming so much learnin' into a few days would drive most people crazy, but this happened to be a very ambitious and fun group. We just laughed and laughed and laughed at our mistakes instead of standing on the sidelines too afraid to take the plunge.
We completed soundslide and video projects in groups. And we're not competitive at all. Everyone says they have the best project. And guess what? Team Four really was the best. And so were the soundslides of Hillsboro Village. At some point, they'll be up on this blog for one and all to see. Enjoy.
Before I drag my tired self back to New Mexico, where it is stunningly cooler than Nashville, I have to thank all the instructors and organizers for being so patient with us. They answered every question under the sun and were really supportive. Mil gracias.

Iliana Limón, The Albuquerque Tribune

Out with the old, in with the new

I tried Sushi for the first time last night in Nashville. I didn't like the avocado rolls very much.
But you know what, it's good to try new things.

I've certainly tried a lot of new things this week at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institutes's Online and Multi-media seminar. I'm not afraid to return to my newsroom, The (Macon, Ga.) Telegraph and pick up a video camera to tell stories anymore.

When I leave here tomorrow I'm committing the next year to becoming an online, multi-media journalist.

Readers are looking on the Internet, and using their cell phones or iPods to get the news. That's where I want to be, right there giving it to them.

I'm proud, and very thankful to be chosen in the first class of 21 journalists to learn blogging, slideshows and online video to tell stories.

Watch for my byline.
In a year from now it will read: Julie Hubbard, online, multi-media, blogger and Education reporter.
Bye guys. It's been a blast!!!

Go ahead, laugh

Left: The members of Team 7, left to right, Blanca Torres, Kevin Abourezk and Salvador Hernandez.

From the minute we laid eyes on each other, we laughed. I somehow ended up on Team 7, a group of three journalists who had a perpetual case of the giggles. We couldn't explain it. We just laughed.

Our assignment was to create an informative video about the online seminar. The result was really just a mismash of bloopers and some talk of the skills we've learned. Our experience taping was full of errors like forgetting to record entire interviews, stopping a subject mid-interview to tack on a microphone and taking shaky pane shots. We sat down to edit and realized our main interview video was botched by a distracting computer screen in the background.

After viewing our end product, our colleagues said we our team was thinking outside the box. They said our project was creative, funny and managed to tell a story. Who says journalism can't be personal, funny and inventive? I have stayed in journalism as long as I have because it keeps me entertained. It should be fun. It should be interesting. It should leave readers and viewers with a happy feeling at the end.

Go ahead, laugh and make them laugh, too.

~Blanca Torres

White balance!!!

"I woke up this morning screaming, 'White balance!'"

Now we all know the fear Jonathan Babalola expressed today after watching his team's video of our weeklong online seminar.

The four main points we all seemed to take from this session on learning how to shoot video are:

1. B-roll
2. White balance
3. Nat (natural) sound
4. Tripod

Kevin Abourezk


I'm extra excited about learning Avid to edit video. But, the key to video editing i've learned is having lots of b-roll, b-roll and more b-roll.

L. Jones

Soundslide SUCCESS!!!!

After countless attempts (on what seemed like every bleepin' computer in the room), Martin and I finally got our Soundslides project to work - almost.
'It's Hot as Hell: A Day in the Life' featured Nashvillians dealing with this oppressive record heat. We had a great time filming and recording and putting the project together.
Even though the final project has a minor glitch in the final scene, I'd say we hooked it up ...
D.I. 8, makin' it happen again!!!!!!!

Jonathan Babalola
Noblesville (Ind.) Daily Times

In our words ... OK?

Team 7, my team and the best team in the world, just finished editing our video.

What an experience!

Trying to group-shoot and edit video. ... I really had my doubts. But our finished piece is something I'm truly proud of.

Group 7 -- kickin' butt and takin' names!!!

Video: It's not as easy as it looks...

At first it seemed so easy.

In May, I got a few tips on recording video from The Roanoke Times' online producer, Hunter Wilson, then headed out to get started. After a few tries (one involving forgetting to press the record button), I returned with blue-tinted, shaky video of children getting swimming lessons at the Salem Family YMCA.

Hunter, who is a nice guy anyway, smiled politely and reassured me that the video couldn't have been as bad as I thought it was. Somehow he compiled my errant clips into a pretty cool video before the end of the day. I took that to mean video editing was super easy. I was so wrong.

Today, I got a crash course on editing video during the Freedom Forum's online and multimedia seminar. We spent half of the day just learning the basics of editing. Then we actually had to do it. Working in teams of three, each group put together a short video about the program.

Now that my group is done, my head hearts a bit. My brain is numb. I could never have imagined all of the work that goes into producing a minute-long video.

I have given up on ever working in the movie industry. I won't give up on short videos for the Web. Maybe, with practice it will be less difficult, but not easy.

- Marquita Brown

The video Hunter produced is here. Also, many other videos are on the Roanoke Times Web site, under "Multimedia."

Links to my group's video will be posted on the blog.

First blog ever

After a rough start, due to a sudden case of Bell's Palsy, I finally arrived to the seminar on Tuesday. Although I've felt a little dizzy and nauseous from time-to-time, I feel really good about being here. Karen, Kate, Jack, Yvette and all of the Freedom Forum staff have been awesome about helping me get through the week as comfortably as possible. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
The training has been eye-opening experience and has given me a second wind. Learning to use these new online tools is an exciting experience. I can hardly wait to return to my newsroom and share this knowledge with anyone who wants to learn about these great storytelling techniques. As a still photographer, I've felt a little uneasy about using video. This seminar has taught me that it's not the tools that we use that matter. In the end, the story is all that matters.

Back row

Freedom Forum staffers Michelle Hedenskoog, Karen Catone, Kate Kennedy and Jack Marsh listen and learn from the back row.

Faces of online

Erik Layaco
Leah Jones

Scene II

Chips Quinn Scholars Coach Pearl Stewart and Anne Saul of Gannett.

Victor Cristales and Maria St. Louis-Sanchez ponder lighting and setting for video.

It's all about the pizza

Career Coaches Colleen Fitzpatrick (left) and Mary Ann Hogan, known around the Freedom Forum as "Thelma and Louise," noodle over their pizza story.

I had an ah-ha experience re writing and storytelling when Colleen and I did our SoundSlides story How to Make a Pizza:
Making a good story is like making a good pizza.
According to our pizza guy, you have to start with the best fresh ingredients (sort of like starting with a notebook or recorder full of the best fresh information.)
Then you slap the dough into shape to make a shell (sort of like finding a good story shell.)
Then you put just the right amount of topping, evenly distributed -- too little and you get a stupid pizza, too much, and you get a gooey one. (Sounds to me like choosing the right details in the right sequence without over or under doing it to avoid stupidity and goo.)
Then you stick the pizza in the oven to bake for just the right amount of time (kind of like letting your story sink in for a bit before sending it off, to make sure it’s done just right.)
So the next time you go to create a story, think:
It’s all about the pizza.

-- Mary Ann Hogan, Chips Quinn Career Coach

The secret to making great pizza

Empowerment is.......learning to tell stories in new ways.

Intrepid fellow Chips Quinn Coach Mary Ann Hogan and I made our first audio slideshow two days ago. (Yea!)

We sought out Adam Brown at the Mellow Mushroom pizza parlor in Nashville, Tenn., as the lunch crowd was about to hit. Adam tossed the dough as we snapped photos and rolled the recorder.

Click here to learn one of Adam's secrets to making great pizza.

-- Colleen Fitzpatrick, Chips Quinn Career Coach

A little light, please

Anthony Dimaano adjusts lighting for videotaping.

Seminar scenes

Jenny Espino chooses a story idea for audio and photos.

Anthony Dimaano switches from still camera to video camera.

Blanca Torres asks a question.

Working on video

Kevin Abourezk and Sal Hernandez

More SoundSlides Success

Voila! Several more teams have posted their SoundSlides projects:

Historic Belmont Church by Tonya Alanez and Maria St. Louis-Sanchez:

Hillsboro Village by Iliana Limon and Blanca Torres:

Sizzling summer by Jonathan Babalola and Martin Ricard:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A little mandatory fun

The horse at the entrance of the Wildhorse Saloon.
Dave Mason peformed at the saloon on Aug. 15.

Here's some reassurance for anyone who would like to participate in the Freedom Forum's multimedia seminar but is worried about having a week of nothing but hard work.

There will be fun. Fun is mandatory.

On Wednesday, the group went to the famous Wildhorse Saloon for free food and free drinks. There was supposed to be dancing, but that was scrapped because a band was playing.

That wasn't a problem. The saloon also had free foosball, pool (the game) and darts. The performer, Dave Mason, wasn't too bad. The band even did a cover of one of the best songs ever written: Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."

- Marquita Brown

Getting the picture

Tonya Alanez and Tate Finn shoot video.

Video journalists at work

Leah Jones videotapes Kendra Johnson, while Erica Pippins takes care of lighting.

Caught on tape

Video trainers: Tom Costello of the Asbury Park Press, Anne Saul of Gannett and Glenn Hartong of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Teaching moment

Tom Costello with Nancy Yang and Marquita Brown.

The right questions

Multimedia reporting requires asking the right kind of questions, Glenn Hartong says.

Instead of asking "What happened?" say: "Tell me about ...."

- Kate Kennedy

Team work

Glenn Hartong of The Cincinnati Enquirer works with a small group (Nancy Yang, John-John Williams and Marquita Brown) to learn the ins and outs of the video camera.

Educator at work

Mindy McAdams teaches at the University of Florida. She's also an active blogger about journalism and new media issues. Today, she's learning about video with the rest of us.

Mindy has blogged about the seminar.

From print to video

Julie Hubbard, Kelly Cuculiansky and Iliana Limon checking out the video camera.

The zen of video

Advice from Tom Costello:

Tripods give you steady shots. Steady shots make good edits.

Always wear headphones. Always monitor your sound. "Shoot video with your ears."

Shoot enough of everything. Establish your shot, start the camera and count (not out loud) to 10. "Have at least a piece of video to edit."
Use the right microphone. "Think about what natural sound is in the shot."
Check focus in the view-finder. If it looks in focus in the LCS, it might not be.
Shoot wide, medium and tight shots.
Connect your shots. Get B-roll for your story. (A-roll is your interview -- what the story is based on. B-roll is secondary shots -- extra visual elements to tell the story.) "B-roll is your friend."

Audio with moving pictures

That's how Tom Costello describes video. Tom is a photo-video wizard at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey. He is here with Glenn Hartong of The Cincinnati Enquirer to teach video storytelling.

This morning, it's a discuss of how to use the camera.

Rule No. 1: Listen to your audio. "Put your headphones on," Tom said.

Cameras have been put atop tripods. We're using traditional tripods. But Anne Saul, who is coordinating the video training, said other things can be used as tripods. "A Tripod can be anything that's not breathing," Tom said.

-- Kate Kennedy

Seminar in sound and slides

Learn about the Freedom Forum's new Online and Multimedia Reporting Seminar in a SoundSlides project created by Erik Lacayo and Anthony Dimaano.

Success with SoundSlides

Bravo! to the class for learning to take photos, record audio and put them together in SoundSlides. Here are some of the results:

Nashville convention by Kevin Abourezk, Julie Hubbard and Erica Pippins:

Comic book store by Victor Cristales and Jenny Espino: http://www.freedomforum.org/diversity/final_projects/espinocristales/index.html

Sushi restaurant by Kelly Cuculiansky and Sal Hernandez:

Salon FX by Marquita Brown and John-John Williams:

How to make pizza by Coaches Colleen Fitzpatrick and Mary Ann Hogan: http://www.freedomforum.org/diversity/final_projects/thelmalouise/index.html

Picture this ...

Ray Wong of Middle Tennessee State University offered this photo advice:

Impact photography comes from closeup, tight shots; simple images; emotion; and action.

The "Rule of 3s" reminds us to consider foreground, middle ground and background. Don't shoot everything at eye level. Change angles for more interesting shots.

Aim for "Rembrandt" lighting that doesn't come from overhead.

For better photography, he suggested:

Choose focus points with care.

Watch the edges of your frame.

Avoid putting subject in the center.

Check flash. Do you need it?

Control depth of field with the aperture.

Adjust your ISO for more or less sensitivity to light.

- Kate Kennedy

And now a word from our reluctant blogger...

I am so not plugged in...
I have never downloaded an MP3.
I don't own an IPOD.
I have never sent an IM.
Heck, we don't even watch TV at my house.
So, this his been a real week of firsts.
Flash-drive thingamabobs, RSS's, del.icio.us organizational tools, digital audio recording, editing and exporting. Audix, Soundslides and other software I've never heard of. And now, here I am blogging. And today it's on to digital video recording and editing.
This has been a total crash course in so much. Thank you Freedom Forum.
And now, I'm so obsessed with finishing our soundslide project here I'm here at 7:30 a.m. Must complete soundslides...
~Tonya Alanez

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Whew! Maybe we can use our audio

Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, reported today that he has been unable to find a single instance in which a journalist was sued for using music as ambient noise on an audio recording of a news interview.

It's important to note: Policinski is not an attorney and is not offering legal advice. He merely shared his research on the issue of fair use to participants of the Diversity Institute's Online and Multimedia Seminar.

Policinski: "It's an unsettled question only because we can't find a court opinion that's determined it one way or another."


Maybe we can actually use some of the audio we recorded today while reporting audio slideshows!

Kevin Abourezk

Quit fretting ...

This is very relevant to what you just learned. It's from a Wichita print reporter with 20+ years experience:

Quit fretting and just push 'record' already.

- Mindy McAdams

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

After some training

This is how I, and I suspect many of my collegues felt about online reporting before this week's seminar. (No cheating, watch the whole video)

With just a few sessions, this is how I feel now.


- Salvador Hernandez

The audio game

Following Mindy McAdam's lecture on audio, my mind was cluttered with worry.

Copyright, the very stuff that protects our news stories from plagiarism, will make audio editing hell if there is music playing in the background. For some reason, I hadn't thought about how the RIAA would come after me for using a minute of song in a little news segment only seen by a measly 100,000 readers.

OK. It makes sense. But geez! There's nothing out there we can use for background, is there? To make things slightly worse, we have to worry about picking up snippets of pop songs if we are recording at Starbucks?!

The biggest let down of all: Time Warner owns the freakin' Happy Birthday song?

Just for that, you may soon see me on YouTube singing my little heart out!

--Kelly Cuculiansky
The Daytona Beach News-Journal

I can edit copy...audio, not so much

Today was the first time I edited audio in I don't know how long. I dabbled a little bit in audio during my assistantship in grad school for the campus radio station, but things have changed so much since them (okay, now I sound like my mother).

The problem wasn't the program as much as the user. But, like any new skill you learn, it takes practice.

When I made my first foray into editing on the desk, "the dark side" as some of my reporter friends like to call it, there were many times that I wondered whether editing was really for me.

I didn't happen overnight - and I am still learning - but I eventually got to the point where I felt comfortable in my new role and confident in my abilities.

So, it's okay that the sound quality on my interview was barely above a whisper, or that I chopped toooo much out of more than a few sentences when I tried to piece the clip together.

I know I will get the hang of it. I can't wait to see what I can do with a little practice.

- Erica Pippins


So I thought I'd try out some of the stuff we've been learning since the seminar began. First up: Setting up an RSS feed. After Mark Briggs' session, I wanted to try it out.

I'll have to admit, it's kind of "different." I'm used to reading a newspaper on the Web, and I've kind of familiarized myself with that process. However, after setting up a simple RSS feed on Google Reader, I've noticed that it does serve its purpose.

If information and connectedness is what you're looking for, then, as we were told, an RSS feed can be very helpful. Already, I set up an account and picked several newspaper Web sites that I frequently read. This is what a typical Google Reader page looks like:

Now, I can say I have respect for this wonderful tool. Has anyone else tried to do this as well? Share your thoughts.--Martin Ricard

The learning curve

I was apprehensive about giving my first interview as part of our audio exercise today. I'm typically the one who asks all the questions. But I passed that test OK, despite all my uhmms and uhs. Long pauses, too.
Victor Cristales of the Abilene (Texas) Reporter-News and I took turns interviewing each other in this assignment.
I had no problem holding the big microphone up to him and peppering him with questions about his childhood recollections of him migrating with his family to the United States from his native El Salvador. (What a treat to meet a paisano! I'm Salvadoran, too.)
I'm sure I could have interviewed him for at least an hour. We limited the interview to under 11 minutes for the sake of the exercise, and trust me, it was more than plenty. Almost an hour after I began editing the file, I'd only shaved off some 45 seconds. That didn't include instruction time our class received from Mindy McAdams of the University of Florida or the help from more experienced colleagues who also are getting trained. Mind you, Mindy had asked we strive for 90 seconds to two minutes.

I'm blown away by the incredible amount of work involved in editing an audio file.
Times like this make me feel overwhelmed and completely helpless.
Needless to say, I have a newfound appreciation for short interviews, clarity in sound, complete sentences and the power of technology.
I'm comforted in knowing I'm not alone in my quest for proficiency in the digital age. It will take its time.
Having said that, I take to heart Chips Quinn Scholar coach Mary Ann Hogan's comment that yes, the technology is new, but it's not the story.
-Jenny Espino

Listen and learn

We just recorded interviews with each other and now Mindy McAdams of the University of Florida is going to teach us audio editing. I've never done this before and I'm excited to learn something new.

-- Kendra Johnson

Audio woes

As if creating audio slideshows wasn't scary enough, now I find out I could get my paper sued if I get music in the background during my recordings.


-- Nancy Yang

Now we're talkin'....

Amy Eisman from American University came back with the sequel to her discussion from yesterday. During part of the discussion, she went through some of the group's websites from their home papers and did critiques. I almost wish she went to my paper because I just feel like there is so much potential for our site. But I guess that's part of what this week is for, right?
Mindy McAdams from the University of Florida talked to us about getting and editing audio for our sites, which included the software that we can use to accomplish that feat. And it's free!!! Now I know that's a price Noblesville's finest print organization will be willing to pay!!!
Mindy's session brought back a lot of memories from 9 1/2 years of radio interviews and late-night editing sessions, as I tried to crunch 30 minutes worth of sound bites into the best 3 minutes for the morning sports updates.
Ah, memories. I laughed to myself as she explained the proper way to hold a microphone and I thought about squeezing between 15 reporters trying to interview Kobe Bryant or Brett Favre and making sure your microphone is held at just the perfect angle hoping the sound is coming out right.
This session is right up my alley because I would love to incorporate more soundslides and audio elements on my newspaper's website. These are the kind of projects that I envision when I think about multimedia. I truly can't wait to get back to the newsroom with all of this.
Mindy, where were you about a year ago when I bought my Olympus, which seems like a reel-to-reel compared to the hi-tech Olympus that we're using for our project?
I had my doubts about missing Aruba for this (which I'm sure people still think I'm nuts for) but it's all evolving as the week goes along.

Jonathan Babalola
Noblesville (Ind.) Daily Times

Five things to know about blogging

In advice from a news blogger, Bridget Gutierrez of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said:

  1. It will suck the time out of your work day.
  2. It will make you a target for criticism, complaints and even cyber-stalkers.
  3. It will expose you to new sources and ideas.
  4. It's not the real world.
  5. The same ethics and standards that apply to other aspects of your work apply to your blog.

It's fun, too. Check out the blog of Bridget's co-panelist, Jamie Gumbrecht of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.

- Kate Kennedy

The whirlwind continues with all things blogs

I have a blog called Wolf Tracks, which you might find interesting if you love all things Lobos. I cover the University of New Mexico football and men's basketball teams for The Albuquerque Tribune. While I've already had my own adventure in blogging, I love hearing from others about the ingredients of a good blog. I think anyone who has visited blogs knows there's the good, the bad and the ugly out there for all to see.

Kate Kennedy, of the Freedom Forum, introduced our blog speakers. She said while doing research, she learned last month was the 10th anniversary of blogs and more than 70 million blogs exist today. I thought those figures were pretty astounding.

Our speakers were Bridget Gutierrez, an education reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who runs the super-popular blog Get Schooled, and Jamie Gumbrecht, a culture writer at the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky who runs another popular blog called It's All About.

Some of their tips for successful blogging included being consistent to help build your audience. Posting at least daily is important. It's also good to introduce topics that inspire discussion.
At their best, they said blogging regularly will expose you to new sources and ideas.

Then they got into the downfalls. They said it's important to set up boundaries because maintaining the blog can easily be a 24-hour job when it happens to be one of many duties at our newspapers. It also makes you even more of a target for complaints, so you must have thick skin. They also encouraged newspaper bloggers to be very careful to follow the same ethical guidelines they do with their print work. I found it very interesting that these reporters, like myself, do not have their blog posts edited. Their editors sometimes do read the information after they are posted. Gutierrez said the process makes her nervous, but the time crunch and lack of resources at newspaper make it a necessity. Gumbrecht said reporter/bloggers have to be careful, but too much emphasis on editing hurts the free-flowing and conversational quality of a blog. I have had experience with initially having my blog posts edited before publication, and I think it works much better without editing on the front end. I see the danger for publications, but I think editors have to read after it's published and be picky about who they trust with blog responsibilities.

-- Iliana Limón, The Albuquerque Tribune

Twisted Tuesday: Part II

How about Cabana? This restaurant/ bar has been written about by the NYTs. It offers southern comfort food, a veranda, and live music after 10 p.m. Our esteemed conference goer and Vanderbilt alum -- Blanca Torres -- said that Cabana is about a 15 minute walk away from the hotel.

Just a reminder -- we'll meet at 8:36 p.m. in the lobby, and then head over to the copa, copa cabana.... I couldn't resist!!!!

John-John Williams IV

Beware of intrusive journalists

As Anthony, my partner for the slideshow assignment, so eloquently put it, we're "honored" to get "stuck" doing our story about this very seminar.
So don't freak out if we put a microphone or camera in your face, especially now that I pretend to know how to use a microphone. I know some journalists aren't used to being on the other side of the equation -- I learned today that I'm a horrible interview.
We also might follow some of you on your assignment tomorrow. So we'll be covering you covering someone else. Good times.

- Erik Lacayo

Who cares about Brandon? (I do!)

We tend to read each other's books
in sizable chunks as they are written.
I don't know that you could say we are
ruthless with each other - in fact,
I suppose we are very kind.
There are ways to make suggestions
which are not destructive.

--Jonathan Kellerman

The Web site I write for, www.brandoninfo.com, will be a year old in September. It's had its fair share of face lifts already and the current homepage is cleaner than it's ever been.

During Amy Eisman's discussion this morning about online editing and story planning, she took a few of the participants sites and had a mini-critique session. We looked at my site, too, and some great suggestions were made concerning the community blog.

I'd like to take this further and ask anyone willing to give more perspectives on ways to improve the site. In a perfect world (think more than one reporter, unlimited resources, etc.), how could this site, which feeds hyper local information to the 8,000-some residents of Brandon, be the best it can be? This seminar has already given me some great ideas, but I'm looking for ideas specific to BrandonInfo.

Your comments are most appreciated :) Don't worry about my feelings - despite what the Kellerman quote may suggest, I'm all about ruthlessness, so long as I can use a ruthless comment constructively.

Jonnie Taté Finn

Elements of breaking news

From Amy Eisman's talk on Elements of a Breaking News Story:

-- Get the news and post, post, post.
-- Create links to related sites.
-- Seek audio and video.
-- Scan the blogs.
-- Find documentary evidence (arrest affidavits, for example).
-- Monitor reader comments.
-- Post archived stories.
-- Create maps and news graphics.
-- Request readers' comments/accounts.
-- Photo galleries.
-- Post announcements of upcoming news conferences.
-- Create a breaking news blog.
-- Build timelines.
-- Create breakout boxes.

Kevin Abourezk

Frantic information

With blogs, blogs, blogs, newspapers' efforts to provide online coverage blogs, blogs and blogs, readers have become "data obese" but "informationally starved."
So, what does that mean for journalism?
Our biggest asset is the fact that our role, even though it continues to go through dramatic changes, remains the same. Truth, balance, accountability, accesibility and fairness are not going anywhere. Everything else, (gasp!) can change.
"If you choke on the word "revolution," I'm afraid of your future."

- Salvador Hernandez

Let's meet up tonight for twisted Tuesday!!!!!!

Tonight a group of us plan to meet up for a few drinks and plenty of laughs. All are invited. Please join us around 8:36 p.m. in the hotel lobby. We'll venture out into our new surroundings and find a spot to take over. If you have any suggestions for places to congregate please feel free to post.

John-John Williams IV

Victor's here!!!!!

Victor Cristales, a very talented photographer, has made his first appearance at the conference today. Victor is full of energy and a great person to know. He is also a pancake connoisseur. Trust me, you'll have to ask him about it.

John-John Williams IV

Monday, August 13, 2007

the start of a conversation

Until this morning, I thought I was done with a story once it was posted to the Web.
Not so, says Mark Briggs of The News Tribune. That's only the mid-point because from that point on, the conversation begins.
His observations about readers being starved for information were powerful and insightful. They have me pondering how I can improve on my craft. I want to be a part of the conversation.
It's only the first day of the seminar. I have tons of notes to review and Web sites to visit. I only wish my colleagues were part of the experience. Here's what I take away from today's sessions:
  • Aim for the top five in your newspaper's Web site. It's no longer A1.
  • Go beyond explaining in your story-telling. Provide an experience for your readers. Engage them.
  • Readers are information starved.
  • The core tenets of journalism apply across all multimedia platform. All newsrooms need guidelines at this early stage.
  • The Web has a plethora of resources -- not to be mistaken with sources -- to enhance our reporting and speed up our research.
  • We are not the gatekeeper. We can be afraid of the new challenges or embrace them. I choose the latter.
  • Credibility will keep us afloat.

- Jenny Espino

Use it; don't lose it

Every day, newspapers and their Web sites publish tons of content that should be put in databases -- obits, births, marriages, sports and crime, Matthew Waite said. Data is under-used and under-explored on the Web. It's time to break the "we-publish-it-once" mentality and put into databases information that has a shelf-life and can be updated, the St. Petersburg Times investigative reporter said.

Waite showed the group a public-safety database that he has created. "Don't Walk Here" was created with information on pedestrian deaths from the federal government. The data, which is available nationwide, shows an astonishing concentration of pedestrian deaths along one highway in the Tampa Bay area.

- Kate Kennedy

Viva Nashvegas!

The last time I stepped foot in Nashville was four years ago. I earned my undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University and here I am again doing more learning. The irony of all of this is that I considered transferring from Vandy my freshmen year because it doesn't offer a journalism program. Well, I didn't transfer and managed to become a journalist. I owe part of that to my Chips Quinn internship at The Detroit News in summer of 2001 and my many late nights spent at The Hustler, Vanderbilt's student newspaper.

I scanned the streets and landmarks during my cab ride from the airport. My eyes widened when I saw the downtown skyline and recognized restaurants I used to eat at as an undergraduate. I was surprised how happy and excited I felt to back in a place that never quite felt like home to me. I have often described my experienced my time in Nashville as "when I studied at Vanderbilt." Now, I'm thrilled to tell my seminar-mates where the closest Starbucks is and how my favorite sushi bar is only a few blocks away.

It's only a coincidence that the Freedom Forum established the First Amendment Center at my alma mater or that six years after participating in the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, I would once again receive training from the Freedom Forum. It's random, but it feels great to be in Nashville, a place I now recognize is one of my "homes."

~Blanca Torres

Who shot Seigenthaler's bio?

I have a confession to make. After listening to John Seigenthaler's great story about the dangers of Wikipedia at lunch today, the first thing I did was go to his Wikipedia page.
No pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald, Hitler or a drag queen today. I'll check back tomorrow. Hopefully, tomorrow no Wikipedia vandal changes the "facts" about John Seigenthaler's life.

- Erik Lacayo

"Here's Your Future"

"so bend your knees and bow your heads/save your babies/here’s your future."
The Thermals

I have to admit that this whole online thing has sent me through an emotional roller coaster.

One day, I'm scared that journalists and newspapers will become obsolete. The next, I'm giddy about learning to add digital elements to my stories. Usually, I am uneasy about not knowing if I will be out of work in the next few years.

Now, I'm thinking not knowing ain't so bad. It may actually be kind of liberating.

One speaker who helped me rethink this was Mark Briggs. I really liked that he described the current state of print media as an exciting time, and we journalists are on the cusp of something like a revolution. Granted, we're probably the nerdiest bunch in battle, but I like the idea of putting up a fight instead of going out with a whimper.

Instead of fearing this competition with online (bloggers, citizen sites, etc.), I like knowing that journalists still offer a viable product, just in a different way.

As Briggs said, "The rules haven't changed. It's just that now, the game is different."

- Marquita Brown

And we're off!!!!!!

We're not even done with the first full day and it has already been an eye-opening experience at the Online and Multimedia Reporting Seminar.

Mark Briggs from The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash. got us started and he made some key points including the fact that the "audience is data obese but information starved."

Al Tompkins from the Poynter Institute and author of 'Al's Morning Meeting' gave the group an arsenal of sites to use as far as searching for information. The days of just using Yahoo search or Google will be a distant memory once I get back to the newsroom. And the old adage of "Don't believe everything you see or hear" in a newspaper, TV newscast or even a magazine's cover really came to light.

It's always good to hear and see the well-respected John Seigenthaler talk about any topic as he did during lunch about his battle with Wikipedia.

Amy Eisman (pictured) from American University later brought up solid points on what makes a good Web package and the types of trends which will interest readers and keep them coming back for more.
There's already a plate full of information at my domain and I have to make room for the week's remainder.

-- Jonathan Babalola, Noblesville (Ind.) Daily Times

The truth is in the viewfinder

Every once in a while an editor will say something like, "Can't you jazz that up a little?"

Of course it's about 7:30 p.m. when that question crops up. Separated by a cubicle wall, they can't see the roll of my eyes as I desperately search my mind for the hint of color I missed the first time I wrote the lede.

Often they are right. It needs something and we work hard together to find the true note that will help it soar.

Today I've learned that its also easy to lose accuracy in video when reporters try to give more "oomph" to their pieces.

Coming from print, I had imagined sprucing up shots with cool music and fun transitions-- you know, something to give my images and subjects more atmosphere. But as Al Tompkins of The Poynter Institute pointed out, while the story could be considered true, you could lose context and worst of all: accuracy.

With Tompkin's coaching, I learned to ask myself an important question when I get started in the video editing realm: "Is this what I saw through the viewfinder?"

-Kelly Cuculiansky
The Daytona Beach News-Journal

The art of writing headlines.

I'm constantly thinking about headlines and how I can make them short, snappy and accurate.

I've had some experience doing it -- I was the copy chief during my college days and my job right now involves posting stories directly to the Web site and writing the headlines.

I've found that headline-writing doesn't get any easier and really is an art form. I'm always in awe of copy editors and editors who can come up with amazing headlines.

I've yet to write a headline that I'd proudly show off to my grandkids.


-- Nancy Yang

That's cool, Al!!

It's just after 3:30 in the afternoon and we're well into our online training.

Al Tompkins just finished leading us in a very interactive (and brief) lesson/discussion concerning online video ethics. Great stuff, considering when I started working as a primarily online reporter for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, SD, last August, the editors there pretty much threw a digital video camera in my hands and said, "Have at it!" The concept of newspapers producing online videos was a new one, even a year ago, and the Argus was happy they could even pull it off, albeit without any kind of guidelines, save for knowing terms like "wide angle," "b-roll," and "don't zoom."

That's what I got out of Tompkins' lesson - the Argus Leader, and I'm sure most newsrooms across the country - need to establish guidelines and ethical policies specifically for the online mediums of video, audio, photo stories, etc., that we're now using on a daily basis. I mean, I've shot tons of videos where we throw music to the shots - music that wasn't in the background to begin with. Or we fade in and out. Whatever. It's up to the individual newsrooms to decide what basic journalism principles we want to apply to our new online landscapes.

--- Jonnie Taté Finn

Excellent start

As someone who works the night shift, I braced myself for today's 8:30 a.m. start. More than seven hours later, I'm still wide awake, enjoying the speakers and loads of information I've heard so far.

After hearing from Mark Briggs of The News Tribune, I've decided to set up some RSS feeds when I get home to get more information faster.

This afternoon, Al Tompkins of The Poynter Institute had me thinking about ethics in online journalism and how video and audio can be manipulated and change the meaning of what actually happened.

I look forward to the rest of the sessions -- early mornings and all!

--Kendra Johnson

Seeing is not believing

Where did the booze and marijuana come from?

The prosecutor accused of driving under the influence in a Colorado newscast probably would like to know the same thing.

Anyone who has the privilege of hearing Poynter's broadcast/online guru Al Tompkins talk about ethics in an online world will never look at videos for television newscasts and newspapers in the same light after his very thought provoking discussion.

One of the videos Tompkins showed was that of a Colorado prosecutor who was accused of being under the influence when his car collided with another driver. The police did not file any charges against the prosecutor, drawing the ire of the driver, who alleged that the department was protecting him.

From the ominous music, to a mug shot of the prosecutor dug up from 1996, to file footage of empty beer cans and a bag of marijuana, this investigative piece was littered with altered and misleading images. The reporter also failed to get comment from the prosecutor (if she tried, it wasn't mentioned), making the story very one-sided.

We as journalists owe it to our audiences to be truthful and we really don't serve anyone when we alter footage to get a make the final product more compelling in order to boost ratings or drive Web traffic. It hurts our credibility and causes us to lose our audiences, not retain them.

- Erica Pippins

The "bridge" reporters

At dinner, two veteran journalists called me a term I'd never heard before. Mary Ann Hogan, a writing coach for Chips Quinn Scholars and Gene Policinski, vice president and the executive director of the First Amendment Center, said reporters 35 and younger are the "bridge reporters."
No, that's not literal. We don't inspect bridges.
Newspapers are in "uncertain times", they said. They are losing circulation and advertising, and frankly don't do a good job connecting to readers anymore. In other words, we're boring the hell out of people! But with that said there is a new movement in online media that could turn the tide and capture readers again.
And we are the generation learning to blog and post video stories online, by using multi-media to bridge the gap.
Julie Hubbard
Macon Telegraph

Just enough rope...

I really enjoyed the recent seminar about ethics when using multimedia. It made me think about what not to do, but unfortunately also opened me up to new possibilities. I am so multimedia illiterate that I didn't even know all of the stuff I could do with video.

I have to admit when watching the latest Al Tompkins seminar there were a couple of bad thoughts that went through my head.

"Cool, you mean you can edit audio like that?"
"Wow, that music really changes the mood, that could be fun."
"That car crash video I taped would look a lot cooler if I could just speed it up a bit..."

Well, at least I'm learning how bad these thoughts are now before I go into the field. Better to learn early than late.

But when I am shooting home video...

Maria St. Louis-Sanchez

Our standards

Print journalism has built its reputation over decades of history through muckracking, investigations and story upon story of reporting.
Over the last few years, the public's trust in our work has gradually faded, and we are being pushed to earn it once again, right back in the beginning, through online reporting.
The biggest mistake we can therefore make is to hold a different standard of ethics, fairness, accuracy and transparency for online reporting than we do for our printed product. If we double check our facts, our information, our spelling, our grammar and our sense of balance in print, why should our new online product be any different?
"You make your reputation over time. You lose it over night." - Al Tompkins, quoting his father.

Salvador Hernandez

Are you ready?

What do you get when you put together a well-trained journalist with a bunch of new information? Questions. A lot of questions, I believe. I've had plenty since the seminar began yesterday. I had questions about local news coverage after Steve Yelvington's session. I had questions this morning about jounalistic marketing--or "social capital," as it's called--after Mark Briggs session. And I questioned my whole purpose as a reporter after Al Tompkins' session (although, in a good way).

What I love about this seminar so far is that the questioners (us, as journalists) are being questioned in ways we had never imagined before. And that's what journalism is all about. I'm seeing an underlying theme in all of the sessions so far: It's that, when you listen to your audience, you inevitably become a better journalist. And the audience is telling us, as journalists, to listen.

I know this only touches on the tip of the iceberg. But imagine what could happen if we all got out of our insular newsroom mindsets for just one moment and really, I mean, really paid close attention to what people were saying? This doesn't mean we haven't been doing our jobs. It does mean it's time to change. And I, for one, am joining the revolution.--Martin Ricard

Class ethical guidelines

Under the tutelage of Al Tompkins, the class set ethical guidelines for the use of images, audio and video on the Web:

  • Don't mislead.
  • Don't add; don't alter.
  • Don't lie.
  • Tell it like it is.
  • Clearly and prominently identify any change.
  • Explain the journalism value of alteration.
  • Explain relevancy of any change.
  • Universal standards apply to all work.
  • Be transparent.
- Kate Kennedy

Map of John Seigenthaler Center

Are you supposed to be attending or speaking at the Diversity Institute's Online and Multimedia Seminar? Here's a map to the Freedom Forum's John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville:


-- Kevin Abourezk

Tompkins' Talk: Part II

Al Tompkins is talking about the Foley sex scandal. This should be good!!!

Accuracy, truth and fairness

"You and what you're about represent the future of journalism -- the future of quality journalism," John Seigenthaler (at left) told the group today. Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center and a longtime journalist, shared his story of "Wikipedia and Me" -- how inaccurate biographical information was published on the online collaborative encyclopedia. Seigenthaler called journalism a continuing search for truth. He encouraged the group to ensure that the culture of online represents the values -- accuracy, truth and fairness -- that have guided print journalism.

"The only thing we have to sell," Al Tompkins said after Seigenthaler's presentation, "is truth telling." Tompkins of The Poynter Institute shared Web sites that can be used as reporting resources. But he cautioned the group about being careful when checking sites for sourcing. Use sites such as Facebook as a starting point. Sites should be used "as a clue, not an answer. There is no substitute for contacting the individual."

-- Kate Kennedy

Tompkins' Talk

Poynter's Al Tompkins shared a slew of cool sites to assist us in our investigative reporting. I'm really psyched to use these on deadline....

Briggs lights fire

Mark Briggs, author of "Journalism 2.0" just finished a presentation today (Aug. 13) at the Diversity Institute's Online and Multimedia Reporting Seminar being held this week in Nashville.

Mark is trying to start a fire. And maybe that's what newspapers need -- a swift kick in the rear to wake up to the exploding world of online and user-generated media.

His presentation focused heavily on the need for journalists to become aggregators of information. About how we need to begin tuning into the multitudes of blogs and other information centers on the Internet and how we need to become the "trusted center" for news consumers.

He suggested everyone in the audience begin creating RSS feeds, a new term for me personally.

Essentially, an RSS feed is an online search engine you create that synthesizes information according to particular topics. For example, if you're a courts reporter, you could start an RSS feed that provides headlines from news sources that link to stories about interesting court cases. He provided several examples of RSS feeds that journalists could use, including reader.google.com and netvibes.com.

Mark talked much about how online advertising is rising meteorically, while newspaper advertising is on a fast downhill slope. Newspapers need to take advantage of this rise in online advertising by feeding consumers' hunger for reader-generated media.

Newspapers need to embrace the new media and begin "leaving core resources in commons, where they're free for people to build upon as they see fit." What does that mean? That means newspapers need to become forums. For example, many newspapers have found success in allowing readers to submit photos for everyone to see. By doing that, they are allowing readers to become creators of content.

Mark stressed the need for newspapers to stop being lecturers and start becoming discussion guides.

He offered a number of Web sites that he described as best examples, including http://www.newsvine.com/ and http://www.nowpublic.com/.

He ended his presentation with a slide showing a man holding a flag, signifying revolution.

The fire must be lit, and Mark is the man to light it.

-- Kevin Abourezk

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A hunger for connection

People are engaging through the Internet, said Steve Yelvington, which means opportunities for news organizations to facilitate and aggregate conversations and build communities among people. Yelvington, of Morris DigitalWorks, gave seminar participants an inside look at Bluffton Today, hyperlocal Web and print products for a South Carolina community "in conversation with itself."
Circulation of newspapers across the country has been declining for years. But Bluffton Today enjoys a strong readership that newspapers enjoyed in the 1970s. "Participation breeds loyalty," he said. "The relationship with the product changes when people are involved."

He offered these skills sets for success: Community building; conversational writing and listening; presentations and group interaction; guerrilla marketing and promotion; not technology ("This is not fundamentally a technology problem; it's a people problem.")

- Kate Kennedy of the Freedom Forum

On your mark, get set, go ...

The Freedom Forum's Diversity Institute (that's it at right) will be filled with professional journalists and guests tonight for the kickoff of the first online and multimedia reporting seminar.

Twenty-one graduates of Freedom Forum diversity programs are attending a one-week seminar to learn more about the world of online news. They are 12 Chips Quinn Scholars, three Diversity Institute graduates, one graduate of the American Indian Journalism Institute and four ASNE/APME Fellows. And one participant is both an ASNE/APME Fellow and Chips Quinn Scholar alum.

After introductions, Steve Yelvington starts us off. He is principal strategist for Morris DigitalWorks in Georgia. Stay tuned for Steve's remarks and more as participants post to this seminar blog.

- Kate Kennedy of the Freedom Forum