Posted on May 8, 2007
I’ve been at it since about 10:30 p.m., and now it’s 2:45 a.m. In those four hours, I hit a lot of dead ends in my quest for help and advice, but finally I found the mother lode: Import Blogger Beta Posts to WordPress. The instructions were as easy as could be. It was only finding them that was hard!
Before that, I performed the “one-click” setup for WordPress at my hosting site, Dreamhost. That went smoothly except for a long time lag during which I couldn’t access the new site’s database.
Next up: A new design, and categories. But for now, sleep.
Posted on May 7, 2007
Paul Conley provides a lovely list — with proper links — telling us where to go “to learn the skills of multimedia journalism.”
My emphasis [is] on free or inexpensive resources that allowed journalists to teach themselves…. a quick and updated list of resources for multimedia 101.
He left out one great one: Make Internet TV.
And while I used to sing the praises of Bloglines, I have pretty much abandoned that; I switched to Google Reader instead.
Posted on May 7, 2007
Thinking about doing more audio slideshows in your newsroom? There’s lots to discuss in this new package from MSNBC.com — Scars from Iraq (also titled “The War After the War”).
First, there are three different stories about three soldiers who have returned from duty in Iraq. Which story is most interesting to you, and why?
Second, there’s the quality of the audio. Technically, all are very good. But more than that, you should think about how a reporter gets this sustained audio from an interview subject. What kinds of questions were asked? Do you know how to get someone to talk at length? Do you know how to listen? Do you know how to send visual cues so that you never need to say “Uh huh” to encourage the speaker? Do you know how to edit this kind of interview? Would these stories be better with nat sound?
Finally, the presentation. Does anyone feel like clicking those labeled buttons on the left? If not, then why are they there at all? Do you want a timer so you know how long each story is? Are you content to sit back and let all three stories run on autoplay? Are the stories too long? Is the package too long?
I’ve seen a lot of stories about soldiers who have come home. There will be more. I think we should think about how we tell these stories, and why people want to hear them. Why are these three stories different from others you have seen and heard? And if you’re going to report one of these stories, what can you learn from the ones that have been told before?
(Thanks to Joe and Zach for sharing their bookmarks on del.icio.us.)
Posted on May 4, 2007
No surprise that the advice is coming from Angela Grant (at her cool new site, News Videographer). But she’s telling a reporter — yes, the non-visual, word and text-typing kind — exactly how to think about video storytelling. With no jargon. I love Angela!
Posted on May 4, 2007
A student who will graduate this Saturday came to see me earlier this week. She wasn’t a journalism student, but she has decided she wants to be an independent video journalist. From me she wanted advice: How should she create a Web site to accomplish her goal?
Does she know any HTML? No. Has she taken any of the university’s courses that include Web design and production information? No. And she’s less than a week away from graduating.
You can just imagine how many varied thoughts flew through my head.
But you know, I did not want to tell her: “Don’t do it.” Maybe it’s a crazy idea, but maybe not. She took the time to make an appointment and come to meet with me. She seemed sincere and intelligent. And … she already knows how to shoot and edit video. She’s had some training in that.
The advice I gave her: Start a free blog on either Blogger.com or WordPress.com. She will need to research how to compress and upload her video, but she can start by simply putting it on YouTube. She can embed her YouTube Videos directly on her blog posts.
What she absolutely should not do is wait. She should not wait to read a fat, fat book about HTML. She should not wait until her boyfriend or someone else “builds a Web site” for her. She should not plan, design and build a vast Web site with multiple sections and features.
Why not? She’s only one person, first. She doesn’t know anything at all about HTML, second. And third, if she did all that, she might end up with a big empty Web site that looks great but has no content.
Her idea is to produce content — video journalism. She already knows how to do that. Well, the best advice I could give her, or you, or anybody, is — START RIGHT NOW.
Don’t wait until you have read that fat book, for heaven’s sake! Stop waiting. Just sit down and begin. If you run into a dead end, THEN open the fat book and consult the index.
There’s a manufacturing strategy or system called “just in time” that, back in the 1980s, was credited with the rising success of the Japanese auto makers. The idea behind “just in time,” or JIT, is that you don’t waste resources by first stocking a big warehouse and then starting production afterward. JIT means you set up reliable systems and lines of communications so that the auto parts you need for the assembly line arrive days or hours before they are needed. Less warehouse space needed, lower financial overhead, the ability to change quickly — it was more efficient. It crushed the U.S. auto industry because it was a better system.
In software and Web application design (as well as manufacturing), a related idea is rapid prototyping. An apt example of that: You’re supposed to create a demo, and you decide to learn a new technology to get it done. BAD IDEA!
The point is, if you can get something moving without months of development work, then you can quickly see whether it works, how it works — and adapt.
If you spend lots of time and money developing a new thing and then find out it does not work — all that time and money were wasted.
Moreover, given human nature, you will probably continue to support that bad product for longer than you ought to — because of all the resources you invested in it.
If you start a free blog and after a few months it still has no audience, it’s really no big deal to quit. Or change it.
So stop waiting until you read that book or take that class. Just start doing what you have in mind. Small investment, small risk. Small failures are not so bad, in every way imaginable.
Posted on May 3, 2007
I will be at the National Writers Workshop in Wichita, Kansas, on May 19. I’ll be doing a 90-minute presentation called “The No-Fear Guide to Multimedia Skills.” Since this is a writers workshop, my session is going to be very much about how you can do it right now: audio, Soundslides, video.
But more interesting to me is the last-minute addition of Robert Bowman, editor in chief of the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times (he was one of two managing editors until last week). He will be interviewed on Saturday by Joe Hight, president of the Executive Committee of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and managing editor of The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City).
This is a pretty inexpensive training opportunity: $75 for professionals and $40 for students. The professional rate will go up to $85 after May 11. And there are student scholarships! So if you live in the middle of the U.S., try to join us. Kevin McGrath, the assistant metro editor/nights at The Wichita Eagle, has put together a great lineup of speakers for two days (see the Wichita NWW page for a complete list).
National Writers Workshops are held at several locations year-round across the U.S.