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