Thursday, May 15, 2008

L.A. Times Launches Visual Journalism Dept.

Newspapers everywhere are struggling with how to best adapt images to the Web, a medium that can accommodate so much more than still pictures.

Photojournalists are having to learn a whole new set of skills -- not just the nuts-and-bolts of shooting and editing video, but also how to tell an entire story (and not just provide visual accompaniment), complete with audio interviews and sound bites, while meeting the basic standards of journalism. Whew!

Similarly, print journalists are being handed fancy new equipment, given fast-track tech and software training, and sent out to shoot and edit audio-slideshows and video stories (and still meet their daily print deadlines).

The Los Angeles Times is in the vanguard of metropolitan dailies that are making a concerted effort to maximize their talent pools, and allocate their personnel and resources intelligently, to meet the new challenges of telling stories online with moving pictures.

Read today's memo from L.A. Times Editor Russ Stanton, about the creation of its new Visual Journalism department.


Today, we are creating a fully integrated department in editorial that will serve our site and our newspaper, combining our print photo, Web photo and video operations into one new department: Visual Journalism.

Today, three photo staffers and five editors work full time to produce photos, photo galleries and videos for the web, and almost all others in the department have been cross-trained and contribute to both mediums.

Combining these three departments under the umbrella of visual journalism will improve our ability to present multimedia storytelling in an even more engaging way, and take greater advantage of our outstanding photo staff.

KobreGuide will be watching, and looks forward to seeing improved video and multimedia on We'll be right here in a few weeks to point you directly to their best efforts.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Our Checklist

Here are the qualities we consider when selecting video and multimedia journalism for inclusion in

1. GOAL: What is the point of this story? What did it set out to say or do? Did it accomplish that?

2. INNOVATION: What specifically makes this execution special ? What did the reporter and/or videographer do differently or unusually that warrants our attention? What makes it qualitatively stand out from similar efforts by others?

3. INFORMATION: What new light does it shed on the subject matter? What new ideas or data are presented? What makes this information important and worth knowing? What makes it valuable to us?

4. JOURNALISM: What are the journalistic merits of this story? What journalistic qualities are worth pointing out? Is it fair? Balanced? Investigative? Adversarial? Contrarian? Probing? Illuminating? Does it employ good sources? Good interviews? Resourceful hard-hitting reporting?

5. STORYTELLING: Does it employ storytelling techniques that make it memorable and compelling?

6. VISUAL STRENGTHS: What makes this a gripping, well-structured piece of video (or audio-slideshow)? How did the reporter and/or videographer best make use of imagery to tell this story? What distinguishes the way this was SHOT and EDITED?

7. AUDIO STRENGTHS: How does the audio track enhance this story? How does it best use voices, natural sounds, ambient sounds, sound effects, music?

8. MULTIMEDIA STRENGTHS: How does this story maximize the potential of this medium? How does this story creatively combine media (still photography, videography, audio, graphics) for maximum impact?

9. CONTEXT: Why this story now? What was the impetus for telling this story? How does this compare to other coverage of similar subject matter?

10. PROCESS: What unusual steps did videographer/journalist take in pursuing this story? What is notable about the approach taken to report and/or present this story?

11. IMPACT/ CALL TO ACTION: How does this story shape our thinking? How does it emotionally move us? How does it change the way we think or feel or behave? What exactly does this story inspire us to do, or do differently?