Monthly Archives: March 2013

Industry Issues Blog Three

Defending Rights

Protection is a key part of journalism. The need for protection takes shape in several ways. At times, what needs protecting is the public. Other times, a journalist must protect him or herself from an outsider trying to destroy his or her credibility with the click of a mouse. A pair of articles demonstrates how journalist are staying on the cutting edge of technology in the fight to provide the public with the truth and protect themselves from fraud.

Live Lying

Media Shift’s Michael Cervieri recently wrote an article about Truth Teller, a new software in development that could soon be used to show inaccuracies in politician’s speech. It will pull information from the Washington Post’s reporting database to determine if what is being said may be incorrect.

This system may struggle to make a determination regarding intent of the speaker. In other words, it is a machine, and machines cannot determine motive. The program will not be able to tell if a politician is lying. It will however be able to flag areas of statistical or historical inaccuracy so a human being can examine the circumstances and make such a determination.

The program is supposed to make journalist’s jobs easier in the future. It is modeled after the music recognition, Shazam. It would record speech audio live and use an algorithm to match what it is taking in with what it knows. Then in real-time it shows what is correct and what isn’t.

The prototype that is available for public use at the “Truth Teller” link above is not perfect yet, but it shows the basic abilities of the program.

Truth Teller Criticisms

There are still issues that need to be resolved before Truth Teller can be used as a tool for future journalists. The most prevalent criticism is that the Washington Post database is not large enough to serve as a fact checking base. The post does a tremendous amount of political reporting, but one paper simply is not enough to maximize the true potential of Truth Teller. Resources from multiple media outlets and other groups must be combined to best serve the needs of Truth Teller.

Should Truth Teller reach its full potential the journalism profession. This is bad, because people are needed to frame the importance of an event such as a speech. People would know if someone was lying if they use the program, but without reporting before and after, the context might not be clear.

Two Is Better Than One

While Truth Teller is helping journalism protect the public, two-step verification is helping protect journalist.

Lauren Hockenson reinforced how important it is for journalists to protect their social media and email accounts in a recent article she penned for Media Bistro.

Two-step verification makes it nearly impossible for hackers to access other’s accounts. After a password is entered, a case specific code is sent to a device, such as a cell phone. That code must be entered to unlock the account.

Journalists of the future need to start using two-step verification now to protect themselves. Without it, hackers are a password away from controlling a journalist’s online identity.

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LUTV Blog Log Four

An Important Day

One of the best days of the LUTV Super Semester occurred this past week. I got the chance to cover a story that was popping up all of the St. Louis area media. There were news outlets picking it up in other parts of the country as well.

We were all covering a couple that was charged with keeping their autistic child in a cage. The story was hard to believe. There were multiple children in the home in December 2010 when the police first found the child. The prosecuting attorney did not press charges at the time.

New evidence surfaced, so the current St. Charles County prosecutor decided it was appropriate to press charges.

Getting The Interview

The story was a VO/SOT. The county district Attorney Tim Lohmar agreed to meet with me at 1:30p.m. There were two hours between when the interview began and when the news went live. That left time in the morning to prepare for the afternoon and plan the other elements of the story.

Research

I spent an hour combing through the stories local and national media had posted in the few days prior. Doing so was very helpful. It gave me a flavor for how others had gone about telling the story.

I also used Google and Google Maps to find the house the alleged crime was committed in. Figuring out where it was resulted in a rush. Not only was it a good exercise in reporting to figure out what home the child was originally discovered in, but knowing its location also gave me the chance to get extra footage for the story.

B-Roll

Going to the house to shoot B-Roll was a really good experience. Critical thinking was a big part of putting shots together. I had to really plan out what I needed. The basement was a part of the story, because the boy was allegedly held there. I could not go in the house, or even step on the property. Instead I got shots of the basement window. There was a child’s chair on the porch so I took B-roll of that. A sign on the door announcing the presence of an autistic child also provided another shot which enriched the visual elements of the story.

No neighbors came out and asked what I was doing. This was surprising. Most people would come outside and inquire if a random man in a suit was standing in the middle of the street with a camera. No one did. Maybe nobody was home. Maybe the local media coming through a few days earlier had removed the need for questions. Either way I was glad I didn’t have to defend my presence there. However, I was prepared to do so. I made sure to stay on the street, because it is public property.

The Interview

Tim Lohmar was very pleasant. If your subject isn’t kind you still have to do good work, but doing that work is made far easier when the interview runs smoothly.

Lohmar offered good answers that weren’t canned. Overall, I was pleased with the finished product.

LUTV Blog Log Three

Overview

The LUTV Super Semester is still keeping me busy. There is a lot going on. Everyday offers a new challenge. That’s okay. I’d rather have it be busy than slow. There is certainly lots of learning happening on a day-to-day basis.

Producing

Producing days are long. I’ve learned a lot though. Getting in there early has really been great. I’ve isolated three key areas that every task in producing falls under.

1) Writing

Writing is a big deal. Newscasts live and die with the quality of writing the staff produces. Great video and graphics can only go so far. If there is great visual elements, but what is being spoken is confusing, than none of the visuals matter. Not only is the writing in the scripts important, but so is what appears on graphics. A grammar mistake or spelling error is one of the easiest ways to kill credibility.

2) Graphics 

Speaking of graphics, they’re important too. I want to increase the amount of visuals I have in any given newscast. The more there is for a viewer to look at the better. I have not had lots of OTS graphics in the newscasts I produce so far. In the future that is something that hopefully will be changing. Sometimes, it is difficult to find a graphic that we can make that is both legal and feasible to produce. I’m starting to get the feel for how we can better position ourselves though.

3) Video

A picture of the scorer's table at Lincoln University [Mo.]. I travelled there for KCLC radio and to take video for LUTV in late March.

A picture of the scorer’s table at Lincoln University [Mo.]. I travelled there for KCLC radio and to take video for LUTV in late March.

Producing is a constant hunt for video. If you don’t have it, you need it. If you think you have too much of it, you are crazy. Video makes everything look better, if it is good of course. I’d call video the Band-aid of the newscast. It covers the things you don’t want others to see. I’ve tried to push for as much video as possible every time I’ve produced. I’m not unhappy with the amount we’ve had recently. I just know there is always room, and need, for more. Everyone is always really great about going to get video which makes being the producer easier.

Reporting

I have done one package since the last time I filed a reporter blog. It was a fun one. I got to go out and cover a massive CPR course that was being held a few miles from Lindenwood. The organizers were really excited to have us there. That is never a determining factor in how or if we cover an event. It does however make working there a lot more enjoyable.

I have shot a couple VOSOTs as well since  the last time I filed one of these blogs. They are fun to shoot. I’m getting the hang of turning them around quicker too. However, framing an interview is sometimes troublesome when you are shooting by yourself. I just need to keep doing it and I will get a feel for it. I’m not displeased with the current result. It has been on-air presentable, but I’d like to tighten it up.

Media in Journalism

Separate But Equal

Media and journalism are synonymous aren’t they? You can’t have one without the other. Media is the various tools used to tell a story. Journalism is the art of constructing a story. Together the two are part of an elaborate dance that takes place on an hourly basis within our modern lives. Journalism is the creative side of story telling. Media is the technical component. Together the two create a story.

The Moving Picture

From a consumer standpoint, video is arguably the most popular storytelling tool modern journalist have. It also is a fickle medium. Video can quite literally show things audio and text cannot. However, it is painfully easy to tell the difference between a novice’s work and that of a professional. Video is very unforgiving.

A big reason it is so easy to mess up video is because the appetite of the modern viewer demands stories not only look good, but also be put together quickly. In “Telling great video stories, fast,” by Debora Wegner, of Advancing the Story, gives some helpful hints on how to put together a solid story.

Know What You Need

She says the most important thing to do is know what you are covering. The composition of your footage can be great, but it will mean nothing if you story lacks organization. In Super Semester classes, and in the textbook, the importance of planning out a story beforehand is preached. If you know what shots you need before you shoot you’ll have less of a headache when you sit down to edit.

Having a shot list or storyboard is a good way to ensure that you don’t forget to get everything you need while on a shoot. As a journalist becomes seasoned they won’t always need to write down the shots they need. Often veterans will keep mental notes, but for the inexperienced a hardcopy is usually a good idea.

The only way to truly focus strictly on storytelling is for the technical aspects of shooting to become completely second nature. The quickest way to accomplish this is to critique one’s own work. It is sometimes tough to do, but the benefits can be well worth it.

A Step Further

If some is good, more is better, right? Yes, at least when we are talking about media platforms it is. Video may be the current king of the media hill, but that doesn’t mean everything else is irrelevant. We do lots of combining of media in today’s world. In fact, you don’t even have to leave this site to find two mediums paired together.

The New York Times recently released a multimedia project which took approximately six months to create. The beauty of storytelling on platforms such as this is not only glorified in the Super Semester. It is also analyzed in “Snow Fall and the future of multimedia storytelling” by Deborah Potter from Advancing the Story.

Using more than one type of media when telling a story adds depth. The more ways you can present something, the more likely it is that your audience will gain a holistic understanding of your subject matter. The more options the better. However, it is possible the time it takes to put together a multimedia piece can take to long. If that is the case it is better to do less. Stunning work is negated by lack of timeliness.