Many of may old posts that deal with tips about how to do video storytelling and audio slideshows get linked on a lot of blogs used by college professors who teach digital media classes. Most of these posts are buried amongst my pontifications about the changes facing the newspaper industry. So for anyone interested, here is a roundup of my best multimedia suggestions and useful tip posts in one place…
The great thing about shooting video for newspapers is that you don’t have to fit the storytelling in a confined format like TV news does. The last two videos I have produced for Spokesman.com were done with totally different storytelling approaches. The first video I did was on a local day spa that hosted a Botox party for women. Here, I let the subjects at the party tell the story. I shot it in one evening and then futzed around with the edit for couple of days in between daily still photo assignments. The other video was on a snowboarding competition held at a local college. I tried a totally different approach with this video. A daily story planned for the page one, so I didn’t see the need to do the same print story in video. Time was tight and I really wanted to get home in time for dinner.
The Botox story was all about people. Getting them to tell me why they felt the need to get Botox injections was key to my story. I did interviews with a doctor and the director of the spa, which gave me the narrative framework for my story. Then I just filled in my timeline with other quick-hit interviews. From a low angle, I did a fun interview with a woman who was face down in a chair getting a massage. With my raw video, I edited a story that was fairly linear. I opened with women socializing with wine and hors d’oeuvres as my beginning. Then moved on to them getting free massages and facials for the middle. Finally, I shot copious amounts of footage of several people getting facial Botox injections to lead me out of the story.
With the snowboarder story, I ditched all my normal storytelling conventions. My Sony EX-1 video camera has the ability to over crank video for ultra smooth slow motion. This was the first time I have experimented with this feature and I am mesmerized by it. My video is two minutes of snowboarders riding the rails. A music track is my only audio. Many boarders fell on their butts and heads, which the slow motion effect made it fun to watch. I think there is lots of room left to experiment with different storytelling methods. My two daily videos will probably not win any awards, but I hopw the viewers, who took the time to watch, were at least entertained by what they saw.
This month’s issue of The Digital Journalist is dedicated to newspaper video journalism. Publisher Dirck Halstead called me a month ago and asked me to write a story about how I transitioned from being a still photographer to becoming a multimedia producer at my newspaper. Writing about my journey, I’ve found, has been mildly therapeutic. My last five years as a visual journalist have been an intense and challenging. Through it all, I remain confident that video storytelling at newspapers will survive and flourish.
This issue was guest edited by Ken Kobre and Jerry Lazar, who did fantastic job of touching on all the video journalism bases. Stories include: “How to Build an Emmy-Winning Videojournalism Department” by Kathy Kieliszewski of the Detroit Free Press, to a look at how Erik Olsen, a former ABC TV cameraman, transitioned to being a one-man band video journalist for The New York Times. Also check out “Ken Kobre’s 10 Tips for Dramatically Improving Your Videojournalism Stories.” Halstead also wanted me to upload about 30 of my favorite still photos I’ve taken over my career. You can check out that gallery here. This is one Digital Journalist issue you won’t want to miss.
Ok, here’s an unusual way to use multimedia in your newsroom. Recently my newspaper The Spokesman-Review, signed a deal with Los Angeles-based Mapleton to produce hourly radio newscasts. These two-minute long newscasts are now being broadcast on a local news talk radio station as well as on Spokesmanreview.com. (Listen to a broadcast here.)
Two veteran news radio broadcasters were hired and a state of the art radio news production studio was built in the newsroom. Our “radio guys” as they are affectingly called, have settled in without too many cultural adjustments. The workflow changes for people in the newsroom have been pretty minimal. Reporters are being asked to record audio sound bites from some of their stories. Occasionally they are interviewed for broadcast about stories they’ve reported on.
The paper purchased 12 of the Samson Zoom H-2 audio recorders that are being doled out to reporters who are showing a willingness to help make the radio initiative successful. The headline news content being broadcast comes from stories written by newsroom reporters and from the radio broadcasters themselves.
So what’s the benefit for the newspaper to be on the radio? Brand promotion mostly and bit of ad revenue sharing. The radio studio was built to seat three additional people for live interviews. Future plans call for adding additional programming such as a public affairs and call-in type shows. It’s an experiment that has a lot of potential. We are rapidly moving away from being just a newspaper. The Spokesman-Review is now a multi-platform media company that is increasing its brand penetration into new markets. This is what I love about working for a family owned newspaper willing to take risks. Radio from the newsroom seems a bit wacky. I just figure you can’t succeed at something if you don’t take some creative risks to see what works. Time will tell on this venture.