Spring break came at a great time. A lot happened during the first part of the semester. There is much still to be accomplished as well. I’ve really been trying to dig in and come up with lots of story ideas since we are in the homestretch of the semester. Since the last time I filed a blog I have worked on some stories for LUTV. That work has been beneficial and rewarding.
Something non-LUTV I got the chance to do before the break was to go to Washington D.C. with the Lindenwood chapter of the
National Broadcast Society. The convention was a hotbed for broadcasting knowledge. Professionals from all over the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas came and share with us about their careers. Career advice was also offered. It was good to hear from people who work in all the different parts of the community. There were programming managers, on-air talent, sales account executives, and hiring directors. All of them were candid, but encouraging. I sat in on sports media panels, social media discussions, and was able to soak up lots of other media knowledge.
NBS also offered tours of professional media outlets. I toured SiriusXM radio. It was a truly awesome experience. Their facility is state of the art. Each station has a different studio. We interacted with on-air talent and were given a tour of the building. The internship was also explained during our visit.
Shooting this package was great because we were working alongside St. Louis professional media who were working in the same space we were. It was great to know we were covering the same event as them.
The light was harsh at first since we were outside on a very clear day. This situation gave me a great opportunity to work with the camera settings. Using the gain we got footage we were pleased with.
The interviews were great. We had three really dynamic people who were will willing to be filmed. One man was dressed up in brightly colored clothes and was dancing in Kiener Plaza. We found a woman who had been a Cardinal fan for decades, and another gentleman who was the ring leader of a group of tailgaters. We were very fortunate to run into Joe Brady and they rest of his tailgating posse on top of a parking garage.
They provided some nice B-Roll and a great story as well.
I’ve been working on a package on the Schnucks debit card breach. Putting it together has been enjoyable. I also did a VOSOT on the O’Fallon police department’s new police of putting shoplifters’ mug shots on the Internet. The package I haven’t shot yet, but think I will enjoy doing is one on the Lindewood owned Daniel Boone Home. That is set to air next week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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) VideoProducing 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.
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.
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.
Super Semester and LUTV have certainly kept me busy the last few weeks. I enjoy the routine of Super Semester. I spend a lot of time at the studio. That is welcomed. It is nice to be in one place most of the day. I’ve now had a chance to do every job the Super Semester entails. All of them are fun. I’m learning a lot. I’ve been shown there are certain things I can do better at. The good news is, there will be lots of chances to tighten up those skills.
I shot and wrote my first VOSOT (voice over sound on tape) since my last reporter blog. I have had a lot of fun doing these. I’m still trying to get the art of framing a subject properly. It is not easy to do when you don’t have a shooter. I have only shot two of them, so I know that it won’t be perfect yet. However, I believe it will get there.
Even though I still want to improve framing there have been lots of positives to consider too. One such thing is B-roll. I don’t know why, but I really like shooting B-roll. Getting the shot you want is really exciting. It is kind of like you are hunting. Once you final get you subject it feels good. I did a VOSOT on the Ash Wednesday mass put on by the Lindenwood University Catholic Student Union. That had lots of interesting things to shoot. It was neat to shoot and learn.
Another pleasing facet of that shoot was that my camera was not working properly at first, but I was able to figure out how to fix it. There was a tripod issue. I had to keep adjusting it. There was also a zoom issue. It would have been really hard to get good B-roll if it would not have been resolved.
The lighting in the chapel where the mass was held was exceptionally inconsistent. That gave me an excellent opportunity to work on using iris and white balance.
I shot my first package since the last time I filed a reporter blog as well. I was pleased with the way it went for the most part. I was able to get most of the sources I wanted, and was satisfied with the shots in general. I didn’t have a shooter for my package. Shooting and reporting alone was a really good experience. Framing a live tease, stand-up, and interview made me focus intensely. I feel a lot more comfortable with a camera, because I have had that experience. Before shooting the package I wasn’t uncomfortable, but now I am more comfortable.
Every time producing is a work in process. The second time around was more relaxed in some ways. I am looking forward to trying to do a better job of presenting the director with a rundown that is easy to use. I want to become more comfortable with graphics and teases specifically.
The LU Sustainability alliance does not have an issue with Lindenwood University students grabbing a bite to go at the Evans Commons cafeteria. What they object to is what they say is an excessive use of Styrofoam to-go boxes.
The University gives out more than 13,000 Styrofoam boxes each week.
LU Sustainability President, Zac Hafner says one box takes 500 year to break down, and that is the reason his group is passionate.
“We just began plugging into Lindenwood and connecting to students, and trying to make Lindenwood more green,” Hafner said.
Every Friday LU Sustainability sits outside the Commons cafeteria and encourages students to use plates if dinning in.
The group’s LSGA representative, Aaron Kothe, says people’s biggest concern about using plates is based on a false idea.
“It seems like people believe that they get more food when they use Styrofoam, which is not true,” Kothe said. “If you talk to any of the employees of Pfoodman, you don’t actually get more food.”
Pfoodman Service Director, Christy Dolan said Kothe is right. Employees have a standard amount of food they are supposed to serve no matter what container a student choses.
Dolan says Pfoodman does its best to be both economically and environmentally friendly. Ultimately, she says Styrofoam is cheaper than biodegradable containers.
How It Works
The first two weeks of super semester were a great learning experience. I was exceptionally grateful that I’d witnessed other students during super semester in earlier semesters. The chance to learn from them has been really valuable. Without having seen what they went through, this first week would have been even crazier than it was.
There was a lot to take in. All the standard procedures for beginning a college course were there, but super semester adds a slight twist. The work is all laid out at the beginning. There are schedules, but there is some unique flexibility as well. I like being in studio instead of in a class room. Learning through doing is always best.
The first Friday of the super semester I was the producer. It was an action packed day. Going in I knew what to expect. There was going
to be a lot to do. Some of it would be new. Some things would be familiar tasks that needed to be performed on a larger scale. The plan going in was to attempt to head off some of the common problems that I knew gave former groups of super semester students. Having at least some video was also a goal.
We had some video. I was pleased with that.
There were issues that I was unable to trouble shoot early in the day. My hope is that on a Monday or Wednesday, or even a Friday where I don’t have to do other training, those issues would not be as troublesome. Either way, I feel like the next time I produce I’ll be better prepared to tighten some things up. It will not be perfect, but I’m optimistic about what the next go-around will hold.
What Else I Did
I wanted to make sure I was hands on during the second week of class. I was not assigned to produce or anchor so I had lots of valuable flexibility. I spent time planning my first two packages.
Twitter and Facebook were helpful in tracking down sources and gather information on LU Sustainability. By the end of Monday they had returned phone calls and texts about when and where I could meet them.
One day I volunteered to go and film weather. It was nice outside. I drove to a pond and was really excited about the footage I got. There were clips with water, unmelted snow, and some geese swimming as well. Shooting went fine, but when I returned to the studio I could not import the clips to Avid off of the P2 card. That was frustrating, but I recognize that it happens sometimes. I looked at a lot of options, as did a few others in studio and no one could come up with a solution.
I wrote stories everyday too. Beginning that process was good. I feel like I have learned a lot about broadcast newswriting even in these first two weeks.
What I Didn’t Do
I went out and shot some hockey video last weekend to shake off the Christmas break rust. Alex Ferrario (@alex_ferrario) and Killian Walsh (@killianwalsh) were also there. They both did packages on the event. Mel Spears (@shimmerette) also did a nice package on Sell Out for Sterling. I’m looking forward to getting the first package going.
A Changing Market
The world is changing and so is journalism. A lot more is require of news gatherers today than it was even 15 years ago. The consumer now expects not only to be given the necessary information, but to have it tailored to his or her specific likes. Multiple stories can now be expressed through multiple platforms. This process is defined as transmedia.
Journalist must be concerned with this concept, a cousin of multimedia, because it is shaping the job expectations of young journalists.
Five Keys to Transmedia
MediaShift by PBS recently put together an article outlining the best ways to succeed in creating transmedia content. They break down affective transmedia usage into five categories which are outlined below.
The first is keeping content unique. Today’s market calls for fresh content. It cannot just be new though. It must also be creatively presented. It has to be better than similar stories. Several media outlets within a single market may all cover similar news stories on a given day. If one particular outlet finds different and inventive ways to package those stories they are more likely to keep the attention of the consumer.
Learning to turn out unique content is not anything new. Modern technology has simply given today’s creators more options for giving viewers, listeners, and readers something new to take in. This has made journalists’ jobs easier in the sense that they have so many more options for telling stories and grabbing the audience’s attention. At the same time a journalists’ jobs are made harder, because of this. The expectation is now hyper-customized coverage.
Unique content is great, but if it is hard to use it does no good. A consumer will have little patience, or interest, if they cannot easily operate and process what is being presented. The MediaShift article says a good “point of entry” is necessary. The beginning should be easy to identify and access. Once that has been done, moving through the story should also be a simple task.
Don’t Go Solo
Modern journalists must be proficient in many tasks, and presenting various stories using diverse platforms, but collaboration is a staple of transmedia journalism as well. Having two or more people who are capable of recording stories on several platforms can make for powerful coverage. Collaboration is good and can lead to projects that are a richer experience for the consumer.
Cheap Price Doesn’t Mean Cheap Content
Transmedia can incorporate more expensive traditional forms of media. However it can use free platforms to tell stories too. For example, social media is free, and can be used to tell a story in a way that is interesting.
Remember What Counts
The story is always most important. If a specific format doesn’t work for a particular story then don’t force it. Whatever a journalist produces needs to be organic. There is a right and a wrong way to present information. It is important that the method of storytelling not outshine the story itself.
New Methods, New Tools
Transmedia can be simple. Even something short can help tell as story. For example, MediaBistro.com ran a short article this week on the uses of Vine, Twitter’s new video app. Vine features six second videos cobbled together to tell a larger story. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, Vine is the perfect example of a new creation that can be used in transmedia journalism. It frames stories in new ways that audiences haven’t seen before. It, and countless other tools, are shaping the way the news is reported and consumed.
KTVI sports reporter Maurice Drummond’s job description sounds like he is protecting the president. He wears a suit and IFB everyday, and for 15 years he was prepared to take a bullet for the man on television.
A proverbial bullet that is.
Drummond has been on camera for the past 10 years, but produced television for 15 years after graduating from the University of Maryland.
“I think that my job behind the scenes, I almost looked at [it like] being a secret service guy,” Drummond said. “Because when you are behind the scenes as a producer you’re job is to take care of the person in front of the camera.”
As a child Drummond expressed an interest for sports broadcasting. His parents would watch him pretend a pencil was a microphone. His pretending eventually turned into a career.
It started at Black Entertainment Television. He also has worked for ESPN and was with the Golf Channel when it began. Network jobs were not the only stops for Drummond. He also has been with two New York City stations and worked in Washington D.C. as well.
He is now on his second stop in St. Louis.
A little more than halfway into his career Drummond was placed in front of a camera for the first time. After college, he never expected to end up as an on-air talent, but producing prepared him for the field.
“You work in this business, to me, from the inside out,” Drummond said. “You learn how to put together a story, because remember, I’ve been on the air for 10 years. I was behind the scenes for 15. So now, these days, I don’t need a producer.”
Drummond’s ability to perform write, edit and present news has benefited him during his on-air career. It has been especially helpful as he covers high school football.
Most Friday nights during the fall Drummond travels to several area high schools to film games. He has to precisely time every part of his evening to leave time for writing and editing highlights before his live shot at the final school.
Sometimes he is unable to get the best plays from a given game, but he said he has learned to work with what he can. There isn’t time to wait around. The live shot will not wait for him.
“When I first got into this business, I was told that the clock is your enemy,” Drummond said. “It is always ticking. It doesn’t stop.”
Drummond covers professional and major college sports too. During his career he has sat down with Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson, but he enjoys covering athletes from every level.
He said it is passion, not fame, that makes a subject special.
“I think that whether it is preps, or pros or college, I love great stories,” Drummond said. “To me, it is about the people, and it is about the stories.”