I’m very surprised that this story has not received much attention from the online journalism community.
Last January, three journalists went to Louisiana to report on the interrupted lives of seniors who had attended Benjamin Franklin High School. Josh Goldblum (founder of bluecadet interactive, based in Washington, D.C.) and independent photojournalists Josh Cogan and David Lee had made contact with the school principal, Carol Christen, who embraced their project idea.
The project, Yearbook 2006 — produced independently — includes multiple short video clips with each of the students, a map of where each student lived in New Orleans, a map of places to which each student evacuated, and an interesting interactive timeline. It is, in fact, gigantic. But it doesn’t overwhelm the visitor, because it’s organized well.
I got the story via an e-mail exchange in October with Rich Nyman, now the director of business development at bluecadet.
Several things about this package impressed me, but a big one is how they got it done. The team was not affiliated with any news organization; they did get a grant from the Gallup Organization (through contacts made by Lee, according to Nyman).
“The funds received covered about a third of our costs. The remainder of the project was built off of labors of love from the photographers and bluecadet, along with a slew of contractors including video editors and web designers willing to work and very reduced rates in light of the cause,” Nyman wrote.
The team visited New Orleans several times to document key events such as the prom and graduation. “Our goal was to launch the site live at the school on August 29 at 10:17 a.m., the anniversary of Katrina and the time that was frozen on the wall clocks after the storm,” Nyman said.
The journalists met their deadline.
On May 22, 2006, the Benjamin Franklin High School Class of ’06 had their graduation ceremony. In New Orleans.
Martin Stabe points us to the Web site for the book Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program, by Stephen Grey:
… aside from its intrinsic significance, the story is also probably the premier recent example of computer-assisted reporting in British journalism.
Grey uncovered the fleet of CIA-owned aircraft used for rendition by obtaining huge databases of flight logs from the FAA in America, data collected by plane spotters and provided by an aviation-industry source.
He then used Analyst’s Notebook, a sophisticated (and expensive) piece of software normally used by police and intelligence agencies, to cross-reference the thousands of individual flights with details gleaned from the anecdotes told by the handful of prisoners who had emerged …
This is the sort of skillset that journalists will increasingly need to do extraordianry investigative stories in a society where public records come by the gigabyte on DVDs rather than as a stack of photocopies leaked in a brown envelope.
Stabe is 100 percent correct — this skill set is desperately needed in journalism today. We make sure every journalism student in our school gets some hands-on training with Excel, but the resistance level is very high. I wonder what we should do to make it clear to the students how important these skills are.
Check it out: Easy video and audio tagging from Veotag (free in beta).
I tagged this 7-minute WHO/Stop TB video in about 20 minutes. Now, this is HTTP streaming, so the tags will not open the proper place in the video until it’s all loaded (sorry) — but give it a minute and you’ll see.
Printing a high school newspaper can be expensive. Is the alternative to have no school newspaper at all? I hope not!
Here’s an example of high school students using a group blog as their student newspaper: OldeSchoolNews.com.
Bud Hunt, an English teacher at Olde Columbine High School in Longmont, Colorado, said in an interview:
We have about 100 students in our school. I used to print 80 to 100 copies of the school newspaper and throw away 30 to 50 of them a month. Now we have about 4,000 visitors to our site every month from around the world. One of my favorite things is showing my students the statistics from the site and say, hey, look at where people are coming to us from. They realize very quickly that their writing is part of a larger fabric, and that’s huge.
I require upper-level college students to keep individual blogs for 12 weeks, posting twice a week for a grade. My class assignment is more about the act of blogging than Hunt’s group project, so you can compare them for two very different approaches.
A year ago, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg said every journalism student should be blogging “for lots of reasons.”
The Chronicle is not the most adventurous in what it blogs about … but the site does everything well, starting with its Blogs main page, which features — before you get to any staff blogging — a section called Chron.commons, “Blogs from our Readers.”
Flash 8 Video Encoder (you already have this if you have Flash 8 Pro)
Now, about encoding that video:
This … is what separates you from the YouTube neophytes. As I pointed out in part two of this series, it is not Flash video that sucks on YouTube, it is how the FLV was encoded that makes it such a bad experience.
The detail he provides about encoding is first-rate.
Here’s where I part ways with Green. He suggests that you use the FLVPlayback component found in the Flash Professional 8 Component library. I think it’s easier for first-timers to do it all in the Flash Video Encoder. I posted a PDF explaining this, so you can compare the two methods and choose the one you like.
It may not seem promising when you learn that only 12 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast for later listening, according to research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But note that it doesn’t say “have listened to” — it says “have downloaded.” (I think many people listen online without downloading.)
Then compare that number, from an August 2006 survey, with a comparable finding of only 7 percent of Internet users who reported podcast downloading in Pew’s February-April 2006 survey.
Then I’m recognizing a significant increase. That got my attention.
However, few internet users are downloading podcasts with great frequency; in both surveys, just 1% report downloading a podcast on a typical day.
Men are more likely than women to report podcast downloading; 15% of online men say they have downloaded a podcast, compared with just 8% of online women. And those who have used the internet for six or more years are twice as likely as those who have been online three years or less to have downloaded a podcast (13% vs. 6%).
Podcast Alley lists more than 26,000 different podcasts, totaling more than 1 million episodes.
In 2005, four MBA students and their professor surveyed the field of podcasting and observed:
Given the ease with which podcasts can be created, the only true barrier to entry — or at least a barrier to generating a sizable listener base — is product differentiation. Given the ease with which podcasts can be subscribed to and discarded, consumers are only going to tolerate podcasts that appeal to them. This creates a challenge for new podcasters — how to differentiate their podcast from the thousands of others already on the Internet. Clearly focusing upon a niche area in which one has significant expertise is one means of doing this. However, as with traditional radio, insightfulness, entertainment, and creativity will be necessary to create audience interest and a listener base of any significant size.
“Your knowledge is worth more than your audience.” By this, Geoghegan means that someone will pay you for the expertise you bring to the table, rather than for the size of the audience you are able to amass.
How to make money? Geoghegan suggests you “find one or two corporate clients” to “underwrite all of your podcasting, plus have enough left over to pay your mortgage.”
And finally, he urges you to “podcast your passion.” The only way to find success at this, he says, is to do podcasts about what you really love.
JD’s post says a little more and links to the video.