Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
KobreGuide offers condolences to the staff, and the city it served so well, as evidenced by the Rocky Mountain News video stories we proudly featured.
Now we're bracing ourselves because the Hearst Corp. is threatening to shutter our hometown paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, another popular and meritorious KobreGuide channel. Where will it all end?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
"On the Margins in Mauritania"
Travis Fox, Washington Post, USA
"Two Criminals on a Motorbike"
Stef Biemans, VPRO, Netherlands
"Up the Irrawaddy"
Subina Shrestha, Al Jazeera, Dubai
The Agony of Surviving
Travis Fox, Washington Post, USA
Taking Back the Streets
Bernard Weil, TheStar.com, Canada
The Healing Fields
Alexandra Garcia, Washington Post, USA
The Lost Tribe Secret Army of the CIA
Tony Birtley, Al Jazeera, Malaysia
A Man Chases His Money
Behrendt Carsten, ZDF, Germany
For this year's competition The Concentra Award received 114 entries from 46 news organizations from around the world. Final judging of the 8 nominated entries will take place on March 3 in Brussels.
Jury chairman Michael Rosenblum reports: :
There are 7 judges on the panel, all from various backgrounds and countries, so there were a lot of varied opinions as to what best exemplifies the world’s best video journalism. At the top end, it gets very subjective.
We are all looking forward to the Digital News Affairs Conference conference in Brussels. It has not been an easy year to put this together. The economic recession caused many sponsors to drop out, even after they had committed. Many participants found themselves unable to attend - their parent companies now unwilling to allow them to go. Many of our brother conferences simply folded tents this year and canceled. We were determined not to do so.
Notably, three of the finalists were produced by the Washington Post -- and two of those by Travis Fox, whose work is well represented on KobreGuide. The third Washington Post video, Alexandra Garcia's "The Healing Fields," was previously showcased on KobreGuide.com.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Camera makers are looking to high-definition video to revive point-and-shoot camera sales hit hard by the recession. Digital cameras — on an upswing for a decade — finally hit a wall at the end of 2008. Unit sales rose 7% for the year but tumbled in the fourth quarter, when the industry sees 40% of its annual volume.
The photo industry meets in Las Vegas next week for the annual Photo Marketing Association trade show, where new cameras are introduced for late spring sales aimed at graduations and Father's Day. Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Casio and other manufacturers will tout new point-and-shoots that are more full-featured and lower-priced than last year — with greatly improved video features.
Canon lit up the blogosphere in November with the release of its $2,700 5D Mark II — a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera that can shoot full 1080p high-def. Now it is bringing that feature to a point-and-shoot, the compact $599 PowerShot SX1 (pictured above).
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Best Picture winner 'Slumdog Millionaire' is still in theaters, but good luck trying to find 'Smile Pinki' on YouTube or Netflix. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject), and it sounds terrific, but we scoured the Web in vain for viewing info.
So we'll share with you what we've been able to find.
Directed by San Francisco-based Megan Mylan, it's a fairytale-come-true about a poor five-year-old girl who's born with a cleft lip deformity, but thanks to the global Smile Train Project, she receives plastic surgery and her life is transformed . By all accounts, it's a true Kleenex dampener.
We found the trailer (also over here); a talk show featuring Mylan, Pinki, Pinki's dad, and Pinki's surgeon; and a transcript of an interview with Mylan. But please let us know if you find the actual movie itself -- we're eager to see it!
Meanwhile, the good news is that the Best Documentary Feature winner is still in theaters, and as we've previously reported, it is phenomenal. James Marsh's breathtaking 'Man on Wire' offers a behind-the-scenes re-creation of Philippe Petit's 1974 vertiginous tightrope waltz between the World Trade Center towers, and all the preceding years of strategizing the historic spectacle that became known as the "artistic crime of the century." Go see it! Here's the trailer:
Thursday, February 19, 2009
We don't necessarily mean the best video. We mean the best way of packaging and presenting the video.
So we're thinking in terms of a videoplayer that's big and easy to use, and has intuitive controls and sensible features (including information on how to embed and/or link to the video from your own site).
But we're also thinking in terms of how the video correlates to the rest of the feature package -- which can include a text story, a slideshow, and other graphic elements such as charts, graphs, maps, illustrations, and so on. Can you navigate easily from the video to the other components -- and back again? It drives us crazy when we see videos that clearly rely on an accompanying text story for context and crucial details -- and yet that text story is nowhere in sight. Worse, it goes by a completely different title, which makes it invisible to the site's search engine.
Even if it's a stand-alone video, how easy is it to find among all the other offerings in the video section? Is there even a video section? And, if so, how easy is it to use? Many we've encountered just stack video links in reverse chronological order -- hardly an inviting scheme.
Most importantly, how easy is it to find the video in the first place? Are there sufficient links to it from elsewhere on the Website? Does it show up in the search engine? Is it paired with thematically compatible content? Most Websites bury their video content so well that even the videojournalists themselves have trouble finding their own work.
And speaking of those videojournalists -- are they properly and prominently credited? We find it amusing that crediting styles are so divergent and inconsistent from one site to another. We've seen everything from "Video by" to "Camera and Editing by" to "Story by" to just, well, "By." Often there are multiple credits, making it impossible to figure out who is actually doing the (uncredited) VO narration. Sometimes the credits are at the beginning of the video, sometimes at the end, and sometimes just in a popup box on the videoplayer or in the area surrounding the video. Sometimes there are no credits whatsoever -- an unfortunate oversight, to say the least.
Here's a pet peeve: Why is it increasingly common that the video's title on the video is substantially different from the video's title next to the video? Very confusing!
We have to mention advertising, which is creeping into the video equation in ever more intrusive ways . Sometimes it's adjacent to the videoplayer, sometimes it's embedded into the videoplayer, sometimes it takes the form of 15- to 30-second "pre-roll" that you're forced to endure (without benefit of skipping or even fast-forwarding) before you can enjoy the main event. Often, it's all three. Because it pays the bills (or monetizes the venture, in industry parlance), putting up with the distraction is a price we have to pay ... until someone comes up with a better financial scheme.
So far, nobody has devised a single perfect way to present video, but lots of Websites are making inroads into improving the experience for viewers -- and making the video itself more accessible and inviting. Please share with us what you would like to see improved in this arena -- and, more importantly, please tell us who you think is doing it right, and why.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Nielsen web ratings for 2008 are in, and here are the most visited U.S. newspaper sites, as analyzed by Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab. (Note that the top-rated New York Times still has about half the visitors of non-newspaper news sites such as MSNBC, Yahoo! News, and CNN, according to Editor & Publisher.)
Here's the good news. Newspapers may be dying financially, but the number of people reading them online is increasing dramatically. (Click on image at right to zoom in.)
1. The New York Times
19,503,667 average monthly uniques
Increase of 33% from 2007
2. USA Today
10,845,000 average monthly uniques
Increase of 12% from 2007
3. The Washington Post
10,260,167 average monthly uniques
Increase of 19% from 2007
4. The Los Angeles Times
7,886,250 average monthly uniques
Increase of 54% from 2007
5. The Wall Street Journal
7,169,333 average monthly uniques
Increase of 60% from 2007
6. The Boston Globe
5,211,083 average monthly uniques
Increase of 22% from 2007
7. New York Post
4,335,583 average monthly uniques
Increase of 30% from 2007
8. Chicago Tribune
4,271,833 average monthly uniques
Increase of 34% from 2007
9. New York Daily News
4,226,083 average monthly uniques
Increase of 68% from 2007
10. San Francisco Chronicle
4,158,000 average monthly uniques
Increase of 10% from 2007
3,163,000 average monthly uniques
Increase of 7% from 2007
3,113,000 average monthly uniques
Increase of 132% from 2007
13. Chicago Sun-Times
2,884,417 average monthly uniques
Increase of 26% from 2007
14. The Houston Chronicle
2,808,750 average monthly uniques
Decrease of 10% from 2007
15. The Dallas Morning News
2,647,500 average monthly uniques
Increase of 52% from 2007
We’re only looking at the websites of news organizations that also print a newspaper here, because they face a special challenge in transitioning from print to the web. And while it seems clear that increasing traffic alone won’t solve the business problems of newspapers, it’s all they’ve got right now. (Politico makes our list because it distributes a small-circulation print edition when Congress is in session.)Nieman Journalism Lab goes on to note:
Also keep in mind that Nielsen’s web stats, like its television ratings, are frequently disputed estimates that may be more valid in relative terms such as comparing a site’s traffic to its competitors. Fortunately, that’s what we’re doing here. And finally, we’re looking at monthly unique visitors, which advertisers prefer, while ignoring time spent per visitor because that data is all over the place and difficult to compare.
The New York Times’ victory isn’t surprising, but its margin of victory is stunning. NYTimes.com garnered 8,658,667 more visitors per month than its closest newspaper competitor, USAToday.com, or a difference of 80%. In 2007, the Times led USA Today by 5,033,534 or 52%.Now we'd like to see some stats on videojournalism viewership. We can't help but wonder to what extent the New York Times' admirable commitment to excellent videojournalism has boosted its online ratings.
Also notable among the national newspaper sites were year-over-year traffic increases of 54% and 60% at The Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal, respectively. The Journal’s rise could vindicate Rupert Murdoch’s decision a year ago to keep charging for the newspaper’s website despite complaints that its paywall was hindering traffic.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Most of the "best videojournalism" we showcase is produced by newspapers, and is about 3 to 7 minutes long. However, every now and then we stumble across longform videojournalism that we find so irresistable that we find ourselves carving out a full hour to watch it. Because these videos are usually produced by TV or film crews over a period of weeks (or in some cases years), their scope is far more ambitious than those produced on deadline by one- or two-person newspaper video crews. We've decided that, if the material was strong and timeless enough to have kept us riveted, that it makes perfect sense to share it with our fellow videojournalism afficionados . But at the same time, we realize it's a different brew from our usual fare. Hence, our new navigation tab: "Got an Hour?"
Additionally, we're often asked, "What's the best video on KobreGuide?" That's almost like asking to choose your favorite book, movie or TV show. So many criteria, so many factors. A videostory's mere presence on KobreGuide indicates our ipso facto seal of approval. And we've already got our "Hall of Fame" archive of the best stories we've previously spotlighted (more than 200 and growing daily). But for those who want to see the ne plus ultra, we've created our own revolving Top 10 list, which blends our favorites with our audience's most popular "greatest hits" (judging from Web traffic stats). These are the stories that best meet our criteria and standards, and are exemplary of the best videojournalism being produced today.
So please let us know what you think of those -- and which other KobreGuide stories you feel should be Top 10 candidates. Similarly, we'd like to know under what circumstances you'd be inclined to watch an hour-long video online, and welcome you to share all your favorites with us, long or short.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
These 9-day workshops teach high-definition digital shooting and editing, with an emphasis on storytelling. More than 200 photojournalists have attended since their inception in 1999, and graduates have gone on to create television documentaries, Web videos and even films. (One graduate was an Oscar nominee in 2006.)
There are two ways to attend a workshop. As a Shooter you are the storyteller. You get to use a new Canon HD camera, wireless and on-camera mikes from Sennheiser, tripods from Libec and an Apple laptop MacBook Pro with the latest version of Final Cut Pro for editing. You may work alone, or with a Producer (see below), to create the class exercises and a final 3-5 minute documentary or news story.
Everyone who joins the class will learn about the newest HD (High Definition Digital Video) camera, field sound recording, cinematic storytelling, the use of lenses, tripods, and Apple's latest Final Cut Pro editing software.
As a Producer you do what the name implies in broadcast. Producers attend all classes, team up with shooters to "produce" the various segments of the course work: research stories, make arrangements, conduct the interviews, go out on the field exercises and co-produce the final project . . . as a team. The Producer and the Shooter both come back to the edit bay and cut the projects together.
The workshops are taught by award-winning photojournalists Dirck Halstead and PF Bentley.
TUITION: Shooter: $1,995. Producer or educator: $995. Student: $750. (10% discount for NPPA and ASMP members).
MAY 1 – 10: PORTLAND, ORE.
To register for Portland, contact David Lyman .
JULY 26 – AUGUST 4 (session 1): MAINE
AUGUST 6 – 15 (session 2): MAINE
To Register for Maine, contact Kerry L. Curren .
Friday, February 13, 2009
Our favorite tech columnist, David Pogue, ranted in 2007 when Apple took a giant step backward with its iMovie '08 video editing software:
It's nothing like its predecessor and contains none of the same code or design. It's incapable of the more sophisticated editing that the old iMovie made so enjoyable.But now he says that the new iMovie '09 is "far more usable."
If you're scoring at home, here are the features that have been restored: themes, extracting audio, chapter markers, direct export to iDVD, visual effects (including slo-mo, reverse motion, black-and-white and more).Our verdict: Play with iMovie, since the price is right, but eventually you're going to want to spring $200 and graduate to Final Cut.
Here's what's still missing: plug-ins, audio effects, manual audio adjustments, bookmarks, importing old iMovie projects without losing all your enhancements.
That tally isn't exactly fair, however, because it doesn't consider all the things the new iMovie does that the old one couldn't.
The killer app ... is image stabilization, making jerky footage smooth, even if you were filming while hiccuping on a camel ride during an earthquake...
Thursday, February 12, 2009
* Walter Isaacson, former managing editor of Time, who wrote this week's cover story, "How to Save Your Newspaper"
* Robert Thomson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal
* Mort Zuckerman, owner and publisher of The New York Daily News, and owner and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The current stopgap remedies (layoffs, ceasing home delivery, gutting entire sections and bureaus) are only making matters worse -- destroying the product and repelling more readers (and, hence, advertisers). Desperate cost-cutting can only lead to an irreversible death spiral.
Nobody questions that our democracy demands an independent watchdog Fourth Estate, but with the advent of the Web and it's "free content" protocol, nobody's yet figured out a sustainable business model to keep newsrooms alive.
Here are three novel solutions.
First, independent journalist T.J. Sullivan proposes that all newspapers simultaneously shut down their websites for a week, so that readers will be forced to pay for the print version. ("You'll miss me when I'm gone.")
Second, in a Time cover story, former managing editor Walter Isaacson advances a micropayment model, akin to iTunes, whereby readers would pay pennies to read individual articles, and those aggregator blogs that feed off news sites will have to pay royalty-based licensing fees. ("Fair is fair.")
Third, Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing supports an NPR-based approach, whereby content remains free, but regular users are encouraged to donate to the sites they frequent most often, via a monthly subscription that's divvied among their Web destinations. ("This will only sting a little.")
Sullivan has posted a petition calling for
...each and every daily American newspaper and The Associated Press (to) shut down their Web sites to non-paying subscribers for a period of one week -- from Saturday July 4 to Friday July 10, 2009 -- and during such time publish news only in print, or behind existing, password-protected Internet barriers accessible only by paying subscribers.In his Time cover story, Isaacson points out the paradox underscoring the newspaper crisis:
We believe such action will allow newspapers and The Associated Press to fulfill their obligations to deliver news during this time while also drawing attention to the threat posed to democracy by the loss of professionally staffed and ethically bound American newspapers.
Of course, news would still be reported daily in every newspaper's printed product. No editor, or reporter or publication would dare shirk their watchdog responsibilities. This isn't about stopping the presses.
But the Web? People can do without news on the Web for a week. They won't like it. They'll complain about it. But, that's exactly what has to happen before they can be expected to care. Pulling the plug gets their attention... This isn't about saving journalism jobs; it's about saving American democracy.
Isaacson appeared as a guest this week on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss his micropayment scheme:
Newspapers have more readers than ever. Their content, as well as that of newsmagazines and other producers of traditional journalism, is more popular than ever — even (in fact, especially) among young people.
The problem is that fewer of these consumers are paying. Instead, news organizations are merrily giving away their news. A tipping point occurred last year: more people in the U.S. got their news online for free than paid for it by buying newspapers and magazines. Who can blame them? Even an old print junkie like me has quit subscribing to the New York Times, because if it doesn't see fit to charge for its content, I'd feel like a fool paying for it.
This is not a business model that makes sense.
But Editor & Publisher's Outing says fooey to micropayments.
Ugh. This approach hasn't worked. It won't work. Is completely counter to the nature of the Internet. It will hasten newspapers' death spiral.Instead, he proposes Kachingle
Kachingle is an embryonic service that plans to charge subscribers a small voluntary monthly fee (starting at $5) that will be distributed among affiliated websites who wear the Kachingle badge, based on actual traffic.
Think of it this way and you'll understand the core concept behind Kachingle: Just as online users currently pay an Internet provider and perhaps a monthly fee for all the music they want from a service like Rhapsody, they'll also pay a monthly fee for all the news and blog content on the Web. Only the last fee is voluntary, and it will be up to publishers to educate the public on the importance of paying for content online. (National Public Radio has been doing this for itself for decades. Now commercial news publishers and bloggers need to do it to benefit all of them, not just one entity.)Unfortunately, judging from its skeletal website and blog, Kachingle seems very much in its formative stages, so it's premature to evaluate its potential merits.
The next important point to grasp about the Kachingle model is that it allows individuals to financially support the online content providers that they like best. So if a newspaper wants to get paid for its content when a Web site visitor clicks through to one of its articles, it should ask that the visitor support the site via Kachingle.
Everyone's struggling to invent a new business model to rescue newspapers. Whoever succeeds will become a superhero -- and probably a very wealthy one. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Especially if your solution incorporates the power of videojournalism in the mix.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The UC Berkeley workshop covers all aspects of multimedia news production, from basic storyboarding to the incorporation of multimedia features in storytelling.
Participants are taught the technical skills they need to produce quality multimedia stories including audio/video recording and editing, Flash graphics, digital cameras, Photoshop and web design concepts. Guest speakers discuss the future of journalism, the role of technology and the importance of audience engagement.
The application deadline is March 13. Info here:
Kicks can be any form of digital information - as simple as text or still image or another video, or as complex as a miniature application. For example, a video of the “10 Greatest Yankees Baseball Homeruns” might include a dynamic Kick that presents the up-to-the-minute score of the most recent game played and tickets to an upcoming game -- irrespective of when the video is actually viewed.
A kicklight is the actual combination of a video with one or more Kicks. For the technically minded, a kicklight is a Flash-based video player that synchronizes images along the video timeline. Despite the tremendous amount of information that is potentially relevant to each video, online videos are currently stuck “inside the box” and fail to make connections outside of themselves.Here's a 30-second demo -- the Kick is underneath the main video:
So, as online video becomes increasingly prevalent, the video-based Internet is inherently becoming less “connected” and is falling far short of its potential. Kicks enable the creators of online video to link their work to the Internet’s entire breadth and depth of relevant information. Just like hyperlinks, this capability can be used for creativity, community, or commerce - it’s up to you.
You can find actual Kicklight examples here.
Kicklight.com offers producers the ability to make a simple do-it-yourself Kick, utilize our tools to make more complex “Quick Kicks,” or make your own using any tools you want (like PhotoShop) and upload them as .jpgs. Ultimately, you’ll be able to obtain Kicks from other members of the community and from KickLight’s own libraries. For example, if you’re making a kicklight from a snowboarding video, you might make your own title Kick, borrow a Kick from our snowboarding library, purchase for pennies a Kick from an snowboarding Kick specialist, make an Amazon Quick Kick, and borrow a Kick provided by a snowboarding manufacturer.
Applications like these will not only add more functionality to videojournalism, but also help distinguish the medium from what's available on TV or in movie theaters. All that's required is the creativity and imagination of videojournalism producers to find great uses for this technology by literally thinking outside of the box.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
It's only the tip of the tip of the iceberg, but TVWeek's Daisy Whitney takes a stab at explaining 3 basic guidelines in her New Media Minute below (starting at 1:11).
But remember, if everyone agreed on what constitutes "fair use," then courthouses wouldn't be crowded with cases right now. Your best bet is not to contemplate how you can justify, rationalize, or "get away" with using existing images (or audio), but rather take the time and effort to track their source and formally seek permission and offer credit and/or compensation.
In short, journalists should follow that valuable lesson they learned long before J-school -- the Golden Rule. Ultimately, that's what's fair.
To further complicate the issue, Garcia's assignment was as a "temporary hire" -- neither freelancer nor staffer -- and he worked without an AP contract. Therefore he believes he solely owns the copyright to the image, but of course AP is also claiming ownership. It may be to Garcia's advantage to have AP in his corner when it comes to convincing Fairey to share profits and bestow a credit. (In this interview, Garcia says he wants recognition, but that financial gain is not his motive; he's planning to sell autographed original photo prints to raise money for charities.)
And so lawyers are hashing it out, trying to find an amicable resolution that benefits everyone. Intellectual property is a tricky business. The ability to "mash" video footage from multiple sources, and create derivative moving images, will inevitably entice videojournalists and fill courtrooms in the process. The safest solution? When in doubt, sign contracts, seek permission, give credit.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Then you won't want to miss this panel discussion(below, 1:11:20), sponsored by YouTube, and moderated by WashingtonPost.com's political blogger Chris Cillizza ("The Fix").
The topic: "Reeling Them In: Building an Audience for News Video." The panelists: Jim Brady, Executive Editor of WashingtonPost.com; Ann Derry, The New York Times' Editorial Director of Video and Television; Refet Kaplan, Managing Director, Fox News; Lila King, Director of CNN iReport; Jon Sawyer, Executive Director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Online video has presented a new frontier in the future of news. It's easier than ever to use video to tell stories; even news organizations that traditionally published in text are adding substantial video capacity to their staffs. Traditional media organizations have started arming their reporters with video cameras, and today's journalists are expected not only to research and write, but to blog and shoot video for rich multimedia packages. Yet the market for video is so saturated - how do you rise above the chatter, for example, of the 13 hours of video that are uploaded to YouTube every minute? This panel discusses how news outlets are using video to enhance their content offerings and reach new markets.