Richard Koci Hernandez resurrects

A news item on the National Press Photographers Association’s website took me by surprise.

Richard Koci Hernandez has left his deputy director of multimedia job at the San Jose Mercury News to accept a Ford Foundation multimedia fellowship at the University of California in Berkeley. He says the goal of his fellowship is to develop digital news sites for under-served communities. Hernandez, who has been an instructor at NPPA’s Multimedia Immersion workshops, has also brought his popular Web site,, back to life again.

Good for Koci. He’s been an inspirational leader of multimedia development at newspapers and has tirelessly given his time by sharing what he knows with other multimedia producers. has been a daily stop for me to see what innovative storytelling his staff at the Merc. have been doing. It’s sad to see what has happened to that once great paper. I know Koci fought the good fight. I’m glad he has resurrected All the best Koci in your future endeavors.

Multimedia Immersion Program website up

The NPPA Multimedia Immersion Program held in the last week of May has posted the videos of it workshop participants. I was a coach again this year and I was impressed at the quality of work produced in such a short time by people with varying video and multimedia skills. Check it out here.


Failure is an option

2008 Multimedia Immersion Program

As the airliner tires leave the tarmac of the Louisville Airport, my fatigued body is too tired to sleep. My mind is ablaze with memories of the past week. I was honored to be a coach again at this year’s NPPA Multimedia Immersion Program. Over four very long days, Forty-nine students crammed a small hotel ballroom in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. What raised my eyebrow about this sold out audio slideshow and video storytelling workshop was who was in attendance. Yes the requisite photojournalists made up a good portion of the attendees. My surprise was in how many of the chairs were filled by newspaper editors, educators and freelancers–many who paid their own way. Last year’s workshop was attended mostly photojournalists who had little experience behind a video camera. This year, of five students I coached, four were already shooting video for their respective newspapers. The challenge for me was to help them sharpen the storytelling skills they already have.

With the newspaper industry wallowing in a vat of uncertainty, it was remarkable that the “Paper Doom” vibe was pretty much non-existent. This group of media professionals had a collective agenda. They all wanted to learn effective multimedia storytelling skills that they could bring back to their publications.

I was also struck by this year’s speakers at not only the Immersion Program, but at the NPPA’s companion Convergence 08 conference being held in an adjacent ballroom. UNC new-media professor Rich Beckman talked about improving not only multimedia storytelling, but advocating for visual storytellers to step it up. “There is a history of visual journalists leading the way in times of upheaval,” said Beckman. He believes in the manage up vs. manage down approach in newsrooms; where multimedia journalists with new skills help inform and enlighten management to the unique challenges of doing quality multimedia storytelling. Beckman really hit the point that if the people who manage you don’t understand what you do, how can they make informed decisions about workflow, staffing and equipment purchases?

I sat in on a presentation by Brian Storm, owner of the multimedia production studio called MediaStorm. During the Q&A, I asked him how newspapers could improve their multimedia? Slow down was Storm’s answer. He said that meaningful storytelling with strong journalism and production values will trump bad video for hits over time– every time. I mostly agree with Storm on this to a point. Still, I believe there is room for both projects and quality short form video on newsroom websites.

Finally, I think the best advice given at the Immersion workshop was from Richard Koci Hernandez, Deputy Director of Photography and Multimedia at the San Jose Mercury News. “It is ok to fail,” he told the workshop attendees. Hernandez might be on to something here. What keeps people in newsrooms from learning new  media skills? If it is fear of failure then it needs to be quickly addressed by newsroom management.

For me, failure is just a learning opportunity. Most everything I’ve learned about multimedia and photojournalism is steeped in my failures as a visual journalist. I’m ok with that. Really.

Planes landing soon and I’m ready for a good night’s sleep. 

A note to Multimedia Immersion Program participants

Beginning Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky, 50 people will be empowered to produce video for their publications websites. This is the second year that I have been a coach at the NPPA’s Multimedia Immersion Program. I’d like to take a moment to tell those lucky 50 boot campers what they can expect.

If you have never shot and edited video, this will be your chance to dive head first into the world of Final Cut Pro, HDV, audio, video sequencing, microphones, tripods, and much more. Having attended the 2005 Platypus Workshop, I know that overwhelmed feeling you will face on day one. Your senses will be blasted with so much information you’ll think your brain will explode. Long hours will be spent shooting and editing your video. You will listen to a parade of speakers who will enlighten you to different ways to tell a visual story. You will be challenged. A lot. Time is too short for egos to get in the way. Coaches will be blunt. We’ll tell you what you did wrong on your shoot so you will know what not to do the next time you pick up your video camera.

You will be given an Apple Macbook Pro and a Canon HDV camera to use. For those coming from a still photography background, the video camera will seem huge at first. But make no mistake; this is a powerful piece of storytelling technology. Spend some time with the manual; learn what each button does. Have a basic understanding of the camera before you shoot. It will prevent a lot of headaches later.

You will shoot a video story in the Louisville community. Remember, you are not shooting an epic. Keep it simple and focused. Define your story in one sentence and then shoot that story. Don’t go off on tangents.

Keep your fingers off the zoom button and try not to pan the camera unless absolutely necessary. Shoot as much as you can with a tripod. Your video will look better (professional) and will allow you to shoot rock-steady tight shots.

Planning and time management goes a long way in a workshop like this.  Storyboard your video story in your head, Think about what shots you will need. Write them down in a notebook. Remind yourself to shoot establishing wide shots. They are easily forgotten. Because your days will be long, it is best to get a good night’s sleep.

Finally, the most important thing to do is have fun. This workshop could open up a whole new world for you. Use this time wisely.

See you soon.

Get thee to Convergence ’08

Next week, I am heading to Louisville, Kentucky to be a coach at the NPPA’s Multimedia Immersion Program. This is the second year that I have participated in the four-day video boot camp. A lot has changed in the newspaper industry in the past year, and I am stoked to be able to hang with the best and brightest in the multimedia world. The Immersion Program is full, but the weekend companion program called Convergence ‘08 is still open for registrants.

Seth Gitner, who is directing the video workshop, asked me to let everyone know that this year’s Convergence ‘08 program is the bomb and if you’re a bit interested in the converging mediums of newspapers and TV news, then you best not miss it. They have a killer lineup of speakers and workshops planned May 30 and 31. This is not your daddy’s Flying Short Course, but a first class ticket to all the convergence you can handle in a weekend. If you come, track me down and say hi…

NPPA BOP winners!



The web video winners in the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest have been announced. video master Travis Fox, kicked butt as well as Getty Images Rick Gershon. You can view the winner’s list and videos here. Also check out the BOP TV winners. Lots of great video storytelling by our brothers and sisters in TV news. Congrats and high-fives to Angela Grant over at for her honorable mention in the New Feature Web category. Way to go Angela! 

Judge the NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest

Just a quick reminder to all NPPA members to please log in and help judge the monthly multimedia contest by midnight EST Thursday. For non-members, you can view all the entries from around the country here.

There is a lot of inspiring work enter this month. As always, if you don’t have a lot of time to judge the whole contest, then just do a category or two. This contest depends on NPPA members to be successful.

 Disclaimer: I am the NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest Chairman

The Lemonade Kid is found!

In my  “What can we learn from TV news shooter’s” post, I asked if anybody had a link to The Lemonade Kid nat sound piece I’d seen years ago. Thankfully “Thom4” came through for me and found it, other classic videos shot by master video storyteller John Goheen.  The Lemonade Kid really peaked my interest in video storytelling early in my still photojournalism career.  I believe I saw it at a NPPA Flying Short Course way back in the early 90’s. It just blew me away. Watching the Nat sound package back then, I had no concept of how it was edited together. All I knew was that it just worked brilliantly as a story. I watched it again today for the first time since I gained some video editing knowledge. What I saw was a master class in video sequencing. This is not a hard news story, or some barnburner with action. It is just a slice-of-life story, with a precocious kid as the star attraction of a street corner lemonade stand. “Thom4” writes:

 “Thanks for the respect and a chance to provide you with the link to one of my favorite TV nat sound packages “The Lemonade Kid.” It was shot by photographer John C.P. Goheen and you can watch it by going to Terranova Pictures under the television projects tab. I heard John speak and show his work at a seminar more than 12 years ago in Atlanta. I had never seen this type non-narrated story before. John does some of the most amazing television photography I’ve ever seen. I would jump at a chance to spend more time learning from him. I steal all my best ideas. By the way, I’m a TV news photographer working in Orlando, FL. I’ve been shooting video for 13 years now.”  

 Play it through once and just enjoy it. Then play it again and watch the edits carefully. Look at how they flow. Watch how effectively Goheen uses his detail shots and the sequencing of wide, medium and tight shots. The other thing that works in the piece the way the narrative is gathered. A wireless mic was all that was needed to capture the sound of the kid and the customers. This allowed Goheen to pull back and get nice long shots without missing a beat in the audio. After checking out The Lemonade Kid, click on Keith’s Lunchyet another Goheen classic. I wish the compressions on both were better, but I am just grateful as hell to see these stories again. Truly inspirational.  




December NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest results are in…

The cream rose to the top this month. I can tell that a lot time was invested in each of the winning productions. I judged every category, evaluating every one of the videos and slideshows. What I saw was a lot is unevenness in the entries. Some looked like first time attempts at multimedia, while others looked like the producers had really mastered the fundamentals and beyond. That last category was a small number though. Most newspaper videographers still have a long way to go in the level of basic storytelling. Issues like uneven audio, pacing, defining the story early were lacking in many if the entries.

With videos, sequencing still seems to be an issue with many. I think this stems mostly from a lack of formal training. If you are doing a lot of panning and zooming in your videos, then you need to stop (please). Shoot wide, medium and tight shots of everything that you would have included in a pan shot, and then edit those together. Every video workshop I’ve attended has told attendees to zoom with their feet instead of with their finger. Good advise. It is important to understand that you can’t break the rules until you’ve master them.

 My favorites for the month…


1.      Ian’s Place. Many people picked on this newspaper’s attempt to attempt a video storytelling. See this post over at I bow to their prowess now. everything about this story is perfect. This is an example of how newspaper videographers can craft a story that is totally different than anything TV news would attempt.

2.  Raven and Jason. I first met Canadian photojournalist Rafal Gerszak at the Western Canadian Photojournalism Conference last winter. At that time he was just getting interested in doing multimedia. Wow, great job out of the gate Rafal with this mini doc on two drug addicts. What sets this video above so many about this subject is the empathy Rafal builds for his subjects.

3.    Marlboro Man. Another great Media Storm project. This one has a compelling narrative with strong photography. What is missing is a layer of natural sounds weaved between and under the narration.


      Reminder! NPPA members, you can enter your multimedia shows produced in Dec. in the Jan contest. You have until the 15th before the contest transitions into judging mode. At which time you should log back in and help judge.