Saturday, May 30, 2009

LAObserved Blog Celebrates 6 Years

Kevin Roderick celebrated six glorious years of his revered blog, LAObserved, by hosting a rooftop party at the landmark Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood.

Here's proof (below) that a cheapo Flip does pretty good in low-light conditions. Sure, this video's dark, but the vidcam "saw" the partygoers even better than our own eyeballs! Besides, this ain't videojournalism -- it's a home movie!

Old pals and colleagues included (in rough order of appearance):

Kevin Roderick, Robert Landau, Steve Oney, Eric Estrin, Steve Randall, Scott Kaufer, Linda Estrin, Joel Sappell, Ross Johnson, Anne Thompson, Alex Ben Block, David Rensin, and many more!

Congrats & thanks to Kevin! Here's to many more...

P.S. Lakers/Nuggets: 119 - 92.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sneak Preview: 'Soul of Athens'

Soul of Athens is an award-winning online multimedia publication that annually attempts to answer the question, “What is the ‘soul’ of Athens, Ohio and its surrounding areas?"

Why Athens, Ohio (pop. 21,000)?

Because it is produced by the town's School of Visual Communication in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.

This year's team of more than 60 people is prepping the launch of the 2009 installment next Monday, June 1.


Soul of Athens blog.
Soul of Athens on Twitter.

Soul of Athens: 2008 edition.
Soul of Athens: 2007 edition.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuition-Free VJ Multimedia Workshop

For those who didn't make the cut for MediaStorm's tuition-free multimedia workshop in New York, now you've got a shot at a similar opportunity on the West Coast: the VJ Multimedia Workshop in Ventura, CA.

Brooks Institute of Photography faculty are offering "a tuition-free multimedia shooting and production workshop for visual storytellers based in the traditions of journalism, for 25 university students and 25 Visual Journalists who were laid off in the past two years."

This workshop is a 24-hour shoot, followed by two post-production workshop days, including a variety of guest speakers. This multimedia project combines photography, video and audio storytelling steeped in the documentary tradition, using the latest technology in visual storytelling.
See detailed schedule here.

Guest lecturers include:

Tom Kennedy is an internationally known visual journalist with 35 years of print and online journalism experience, including positions as Managing Editor for Multimedia at the Washington Post and Director of Photography for the National Geographic Magazine.

Scott Anger is an award-winning journalist, photographer and documentary filmmaker whose work has spanned every medium over the past 25 years. He is currently on a one-year sabbatical from his job as director of video at the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Merithew is the online photo editor for

Grover Sanschagrin is Vice President of Business Development and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

Pauline Lubens has been a staff photographer for the San Jose Mercury News since 2000. She spent the previous 17 years at the Detroit Free Press.

The workshop is July 30 to August 2. Apply here by June 21.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Video Story: Drawing a 'New Yorker' Cover

Here's a video story about the creation of this week's cover art for New Yorker magazine -- made possible by, implausibly, iPhone technology.

Jorge Colombo drew this week’s cover using Brushes, a $4.99 application for the iPhone, while standing for an hour outside Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Times Square.
The advantage of the program, says Colombo, is that it enables him to draw in the dark, and also to draw unobtrusively, as passersby presume he's merely checking his email. And, of course, it's portable.

Its companion application, Brushes Viewer, makes a video reconstructing each step of how Colombo composed the picture (below). What you're not seeing, the artist confesses, is his reliance on the "Undo" feature (i.e. the missteps and do-overs) so that the process seems more linear and self-assured than it was in real life.

But watching the video playback has made him aware that how he draws a picture can tell a story, and he’s hoping to build suspense as he builds up layers of color and shape.
Read more here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

5 Newsrooms that Mencken Wouldn't Recognize

Talking Points Memo, Gawker Media, Daily Telegraph, Spokesman Review, and the (two-person) Valley Independent Sentinel.

Take a guided video tour of each with Nieman Journalism Lab.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Video Locally, Win Globally

The non-profit Global Film Initiative, which promotes international educational filmmaking, is sponsoring a "Wing It!" contest for students who can provide a 5-10 minute guided video tour of an ethnic community and culture in their own city.

Deadline is June 15.

The prize? Two free Virgin America airline tickets, and the winning video will be featured on its Bluescreen website. Details here.

For more info about other online video contests, try these two comprehensive Websites: Online Video Contests and Video Contest Clearinghouse .

Wash. Post's 'On Being' Video Portraits Return

One of the first videojournalism packages we featured on KobreGuide was Jennifer Crandall's "On Being," a Washington Post series of short, snappy on-camera portraits of everyday people, "based on the simple notion that we should get to know each other a little better."

Each Wednesday, you'll find video portraits that take you into the musings, passions and quirks of all sorts of people.
Crandall levels the playing field by shooting all her subjects in a studio against a white backdrop.

After about three dozen installments, however, the project disappeared...

But now it's back... with a spiffy new design.

As we previously noted: "These morsels of real-life anecdotes are best nibbled in small doses, although they can be addictive. Betcha can’t watch just one!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ask Ann Derry About NYTimes Video. We Did!

Have a question about the superb videojournalism? You can ask Ann Derry herself. She's the Times' editorial director of video and television, and is fielding reader/viewer questions this week, as part of the Website's ongoing "Ask the Times" feature. (Email your questions to .)

As longtime admirers of the Times' high-quality video stories (showcased on KobreGuide's "New York Times" channel), we asked three questions, hoping for even a single response. Derry generously responded to all three:

Q. 1. What lessons can other media organizations learn from The New York Times's video experiments and experience? Most staffs seems to be half-heartedly struggling with video stories that fall short on all accounts — technically, aesthetically, journalistically. How/why is The Times succeeding and forging ahead?

2. How well is The New York Times's admirable investment in videojournalism paying off in reader/viewer engagement ... and in ad revenue?

3. What trends do you foresee in videojournalism, at The New York Times and elsewhere?

A. We've been able to accomplish so much so quickly because we had a head start: The senior producers in the video department have, collectively, about 100 years of news and documentary television experience, some of which we acquired while producing television programming for The Times.

So when we started producing video for, we were already working closely with Times reporters and editors. And we were determined to apply strong journalistic and technical standards (shooting, editing, lighting) to our video. We wanted to give viewers a high-quality video experience, whether they were watching our videos on ­ or downloading them from iTunes or watching them on television.

How is our investment paying off? We don't share our numbers publicly, but, according to Will Gonzalez, our video product manager, increasing numbers of people are viewing our videos on and off our site. Video is still a burgeoning business for The Times, as it is for the rest of the industry. We are looking at creative ways beyond advertising to monetize our video — including syndication.

I'm most interested in increasing what I like to call "the language of video" throughout our Web site. We aspire to weave video more seamlessly into Times reporting, and hope that readers/viewers come to expect and to see video everywhere on ­— whether that means short clips embedded in articles or blogs, video shot by a reporter with a still camera, video incorporated into an interactive graphic or multimedia presentation, user-generated video or even our newest form of investigative video.

Lots more great questions and insightful answers from Ann Derry about videojournalism, so go read it for yourself. And stay tuned to KobreGuide's New York Times channel for more top-notch videojournalism.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Get Your Free KobreGuide Widget Here!

Just click on the "Get Widget" button at the bottom of the gizmo, and follow simple instructions from there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Deconstructing 'Us Now'

We're as intrigued by the presentation of the provocative hour-long video "Us Now" as its content.

It's a philosophical look at how collaborative Internet technologies are changing the way we organize and govern ourselves, and the opportunities that provides for us to collectively participate in improving our social lives and political destinies.

What especially struck us was that, in keeping with the spirit of film's exploration of the concepts of "transparency" and "inclusion," its Website features all the raw footage ("rushes") and transcripts ("logs") used in its creation. And it enables viewers to upload their own video responses.

Might these be assets that should regularly accompany videojournalism projects?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Gotta say we love the new NY Times photo blog, Lens, launched this weekend. Off to a great start.

Whimsical, smart, insightful. Visually delightful.

Clearly inspired by the Boston Globe's "Big Picture," similarly highly recommended. But also includes video and slideshows!

1 pix = 1,000 words , so we'll just shut up and say, "Go look!" Enjoy!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Secrets of the N.Y. Times R&D Lab

Here's a tantalizing look deep inside the research and development group of The New York Times, courtesy of Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab.

This series of five wondrous videos (all shot on May 4) collectively show how the Times is staying way ahead of the technological curve. Watch carefully -- this may be what the future of news looks like:


Part 1: The New York Times envisions version 2.0 of the newspaper...

Nick Bilton is design integration editor in the Research and Development Group at The New York Times. More info (and transcript) here.


Part 2: The New York Times prepares for a future across all platforms ...

Michael Young is lead creative technologist in the Research and Development Group at The New York Times. More info (and transcript) here.


Part 3: The New York Times would like to join you in the living room ...

Alexis Lloyd is a creative technologist in the Research and Development Group at The New York Times. More info (and transcript) here.


Part 4: If the New York Times were mounted on your wall, it might look like this...

Ted Roden is a creative technologist in the Research and Development Group at The New York Times. More info (and transcript) here.


Part 5: In the New York Times R&D lab, the future of news is the future of advertising...

Nick Bilton, Alexis Lloyd, Michael Young, and Ted Roden are members of the Research and Development Group at The New York Times. More info (and transcript) here.



Friday, May 15, 2009

KobreGuide Welcomes 5 New Channels

KobreGuide warmly welcomes our newest Channels:

We look forward to seeing more great videojournalism from all these media outlets.


OK, it's just past midnight and the new has arrived.

Compare the pre-designed (top) and re-designed versions for yourself. (Click on each image to view them full-sized.)

We read the explanation page -- that handy guide to the new look and new features -- and frankly it made us nervous.

It sounds as though the thrust of the editorial material will be aggregation and reader feedback (aka "citizen journalism," Twittering, etc.), at the expense of fresh original reported content. See if you get the same vibe:

We will embrace the best work of other journalists around the Web and the most thoughtful questions and comments of our readers. Our mission is to create a forum for a continuous – and continuously worthwhile – conversation about key events and issues...

Every day, journalists, thinkers and pundits from around the world publish work that is worth reading. Part of our mission, as we see it, is to provide our readers with easy access to the best of that content ...

Taking advantage of the instantaneous nature of the medium, we will feature comments, questions and thoughts posted by Newsweek readers to our Twitter feed...

Every day, Newsweek editors will select people, groups or concepts in the news and ask you, our readers, to weigh in...Express your opinion and then join the discussion on each topic.

You know the Web is full of informational gems ...Every day, Newsweek editors will seek out those jewels and deliver them to you, whether they were published on a site here in the U.S. or halfway around the world...

Need we go on?

Is this what the Web really needs more of? Another site to collect everyone else's opinions?

And what about our high hopes that Newsweek will jumpstart its half-hearted video efforts? The homepage video box has been pushed down "below-the-fold," making it even more difficult to find, and it's been lumped under an increasingly meaningless "Multimedia" umbrella -- sandwiched between Photo Galleries and Interactive Graphics.

And the lead video story is still a six-week-old on-camera Q&A ... with Bob Saget.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Awaiting the New Newsweek

We're eager to see the new, which is debuting tomorrow (Friday).

According to assistant managing editor Kathleen Deveny:

The redesigned home page will be easy to navigate and introduce new features, such as an interactive version of "Conventional Wisdom." We'll be offering a mix of our own content, aggregated content and content generated by our users. If we were to do a magazine piece on nukes in Iran, for example, we would post it along with links to the best stories we can find at other Web sites—including our direct competitors'—while encouraging our readers to ask questions and comment via Twitter.
All that is in anticipation of a major overhaul of the print publication, to be unveiled on Monday:

Nearly everything about the way the magazine looks will change. Our new design is meant to be less daunting, more entertaining and easier to navigate. It will be divided into four clear sections: short newsy items, essays and commentary, longer features and cultural coverage. It will be printed on higher-quality paper, which instantly will make it feel better in your hand.
The print publication will be deliberately going after a smaller and more demographically desirable audience (translation: advertiser-friendly affluent niches), with an eye toward jacking up the subscription price. The Website, on the other hand, will be reaching out to a bigger audience:

The site already has 6.8 million unique monthly visitors, according to Nielsen, which means more people read Newsweek stories online than in print. We'd like to increase that number significantly, while keeping users on the site longer.
Naturally we're especially keen to see how Newsweek plans to bolster its videojournalism, which so far has been sparse and unremarkable (a FOUR-part Bob Saget interview?!?!). ...

In an era when the 24/7 Web news cycle has made the newsweekly concept itself obsolete, it would seem that distinctive hard-hitting video stories -- which a mighty media organization like Newsweek has the resources to deliver -- would be one surefire way for the struggling magazine to pull ahead of the rest of the pack.

Standing by...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CJR Does the Math: Kindle Doesn't Add Up

The Columbia Journalism Review did the math and demonstrated that there's no way that Amazon's Kindle DX is going to save the newspaper industry -- corroborating our previous thoughts on the subject.

Then CJR re-did the math the next day, taking into account the previously overlooked fact that a whopping seventy percent of revenues will go to Amazon and also to the wireless service that powers the whole concept ... and found that the results were even more dire than they had calculated. If a reader pays $14/month, the newspaper pockets only $4.20 of that.

CJR also factored in a Bloomberg report about a visionary Knight Ridder experiment conducted in 1992, designed to culminate in its own portable newspaper-reading device intended to boost readership and revenues. After three years, the project fizzled and the 10-person lab was shut down.

A key flaw in the Kindle plan is the absence of any way to display full-color non-text advertising -- a necessary source of revenue. But others are undeterred.

Gannett Co., which stopped home delivery of its Detroit Free Press four days a week, said it will distribute the newspaper on another e-reader being developed by Plastic Logic Ltd. ... Hearst Corp., which owns the Houston Chronicle, also invested in a company developing a reader.

[But] the Kindle just looks like another way for newspapers to turn profitable customers into unprofitable ones.

What's the Advantage of the NY Times Reader?

We really wanted to love the new updated New York Times Reader.

We downloaded the free Adobe Air software, fired it up, and click-flipped through the pages.

Yes, it looks nice -- the pages are certainly less cluttered and easier to read than those on

But it leaves us perplexed.

Except for a few free "trial" sections, you only get a teaser headline and first graf of every story; for the whole enchilada, you have to fork over $15/month. Yes -- a paid subscription. True, only about a quarter of the price of home delivery. But why bother when the whole thing is FREE on the Web?

Also, the Reader archives only a week's worth of issues, whereas the Website will search back to 1851!

Moreover, we experimented and found that the Website consistently updates its pages faster and more frequently than the Reader.

On the positive side: Unlike Amazon's touted Kindle portable e-reader, the New York Times Reader features full-color images (not just "16 shades of gray"). But then so does its Website. And, best of all, unlike the Kindle, the Reader plays video. But, again, so does its Website!

All we can figure is that, since the New York Times is partnering with Kindle to lure long-distance paid subscribers, its push to familiarize readers with its own proprietary Reader is perhaps the first step towards conditioning us to pay for content. As we all know by now, it's the proliferation of free content that's undermined the fiscal vitality of newspapers everywhere.

Is the Reader a step in the right direction? Will it work? It's certainly worth taking a look at. But, we hate to admit, we can't see any advantages that would make us pay for a subscription while we can still see all the newspaper's content -- faster and fresher -- on the Web.

(But, yeah, we're glad that it does include video -- a serious shortcoming of the Kindle.)

Here's a peek at the homepage (top) and the NY Times Reader front page, captured at the exact same time. Click on them to see them full size.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How Do You Update Video Stories?

Here's a vexing problem.

Journalists are learning how to continually update text stories throughout a 24/7 news cycle, so that every time you log on to your favorite news Website, you can instantly determine if and how an evolving story has been revised.

Often you'll see a new headline, new lede, new timestamp, new image, or even the word "NEW" or "UPDATE."

Pragmatically speaking, it's very easy and takes virtually no time, once fresh content is created (e.g. new details emerge), to make text amendations to a story.

Now here's the question. What about video stories? Can they be updated? Should they be updated? If so, how?

  • By adding new footage to an existing video? (But then would viewers have to view the whole thing again? Or would they be advised to fast-forward to the new scenes?)
  • By replacing the current video with an all-new video? (But then you'd miss the backstory.)
  • By compressing the previous footage into short "as previously seen" highlights, and then adding fresh footage -- a la the "Seven Up" series, which documents a group of British schoolchildren every seven years? (We can already hear video editors snorting at how labor-intensive that would be.)
In truth, video stories are hardly ever updated, which is a shame. Often we yearn to know "what happened next" -- to the coinjoined twins connected at the head, or the young drug-addict mom who loses custody of her kids, or the kid with the food disorder that makes him eternally hungry.

Alas, the media has a short memory. A newspaper can spend months planning a big extravagant award-worthy multi-part video story -- and then it's always on to the next hot project. Rarely do we get to look in the rear-view mirror.

The exception seems to be when savvy producers and editors take the time to plan an ongoing series of stories on a single topic, enabling them to check in periodically with their subjects.

Such is the case with the New York Times' video reports on how small businesses are weathering the recession. Instead of simply interviewing a few business owners about how the economic downturn was impacting their sales and revenues, the Times opted to follow a group of them over a period of time, so that we can chart their ups and downs.

The first video report appeared in October '08, the second in December '08, the third in March '09. ( showcased the second installment.)

By following a butcher, a bikemaker, a tourism service, and others, the Times humanized what would otherwise be merely an abstraction. By continuing to update their story every few months, we are given more than a snapshot of a moment in time. We get to see a continuum. Most importantly, we get to experience one of the key ingredients in storytelling: "Change."

We encourage other media outlets to think of ways to stick with a video story over a period of time, and enable us to follow the progress of its protagonists.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

TV News Turns to Newspapers for Help. Inspiration or Double Drowning?

Robert Papper, a journalism professor at Hofstra who annually surveys TV newsrooms, found that local stations shed 1,200 news jobs last year. According to a New York Times report, Papper also found a 13 percent drop in reporter salaries and a 11.5 percent decline in anchor salaries.

And where is TV news turning to for help?


The bankrupt Tribune Company, which owns 23 TV stations and 12 newspapers, has merged its TV stations and daily newspapers in Miami and Hartford.

We're going to start seeing more shotgun weddings taking place between TV news and newspaper operations in each city, as they leverage their mutually diminished forces to bolster their Website content.

What that means is that you'll see newspaper reporters doing stories for (and getting facetime on) television, and TV reporters showing up in videos on newspaper Websites. It's already happening in San Diego, Detroit, and other cities.

While media consolidation is usually detrimental to diverse and competitive reporting, right now it's considered a do-or-die survival tactic. Better some news than none at all.

We're hoping these arranged marriages will stoke creative juices and help re-energize the journalism industry. We're also hoping that the fusion of TV and newspaper talents will result in an increase in the quantity and quality of professional online videojournalism.

Friday, May 8, 2009

David Simon Blasts Citizen Journalism, Prescribes Non-Profit Newspaper Model

We listened to articulate, qualified, high-minded participants in Sen. John Kerry's subcommittee hearing on the bleak future of journalism this week (as his hometown paper, The Boston Globe, struggles to stay afloat).

One who impressed most was longtime Baltimore Sun cop reporter David Simon, who parlayed his journalism experience into a thriving career as a top TV drama producer. His venerated shows (including HBO's "The Wire") often investigate thorny journalism issues.

As Sen. Kerry noted, newspapers are an "endangered species," and Simon brilliantly took to task both old and new media: "A plague on both their houses... High-end journalism is dying in America."

Simon's reasoned rant was both diagnostic and prescriptive. He shares our disdain for the anti-professional notion of "citizen journalism," which he eloquently lambasted -- and every word is worth savoring:

I’m not making a Luddite argument against the internet and all that it offers. But you do not, in my city, run into bloggers or so-called citizen journalists at City Hall or in the courthouse hallways or at the bars where police officers gather. You don’t see them consistently nurturing and then pressing sources. You don’t see them holding institutions accountable on a daily basis.

Why? Because high-end journalism is a profession. It requires daily full-time commitment by trained men and women who return to the same beats day in and day out. Reporting was the hardest and, in some ways, most gratifying job I ever had.

I’m offended to think that anyone anywhere believes American monoliths, as insulated, self-preserving and self-justifying as police departments, school systems, legislatures and chief executives, can be held to gathered facts by amateurs pursuing the task without compensation, training or, for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care who it is they’re lying to or who they’re withholding information from.

Indeed, the very phrase “citizen journalist” strikes my ear as Orwellian. A neighbor who is a good listener and cares about people is a good neighbor; he is not in any sense a citizen social worker, just as a neighbor with a garden hose and good intentions is not a citizen firefighter. To say so is a heedless insult to trained social workers and firefighters.

But Simon also endorsed a solution:

A nonprofit model intrigues, especially if that model allows for locally based ownership and control of news organizations. Anything the government can do in the way of creating nonprofit status for newspapers should be seriously pursued. And further, anything that can be done to create financial or tax-based incentives for bankrupt or near-bankrupt newspaper chains to transfer or donate unprofitable publications to locally based nonprofits should also be considered.

EPpy Awarded to San Jose Mercury News Video

Congrats to the San Jose Mercury News for winning Editor & Publisher's prestigious EPpy award for "Best Use of Video in a Media-Affiliated Website." Last year the paper won an Emmy for its online video.

Mercury News videos included in the award are "Left Behind" by Dai Sugano and "The Chance to Break Free," by Sugano and John Boudreau, both based on reporting out of India; video profiles of 20 local Olympians who participated in the 2008 Games in Beijing, by Jim Gensheimer and LiPo Ching; and "Housing Crisis," a look at three families and a subdivision beset by subprime mortgages and the housing bubble gone bust, by photojournalist David Barreda and writer Julia Prodis Sulek.

The winning Mercury News videos can be seen here.

"Left Behind" is featured on the San Jose Mercury News channel on .

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kindle DX to Rescue Journalism? Yawn...

OK, we just waded through reams of PR slop about the hotly anticipated new Kindle DX, to launch this summer -- revolutionary wireless blah blah, auto-rotate buh buh buh, built-in PDF yada yada, graphic-rich whatever -- and it all boils down to this.

No, there's no color (still "16 shades of gray"). No, there's no video (we must've been dreaming).

So why has Amazon been touting this third iteration of its portable book-reader as the potential rescuer of the newspaper and magazine industries? Here's your answer:

It's bigger. Seriously, that's it. Instead of 8" x 5.3", it's 10.4" x 7.2". The screen diagonal is 9.7" instead of 6", or 2.5 times the surface area. Still about a third of an inch thin -- which Amazon injudiciously compares to the thickness of a print magazine, apparently forgetting that the ad-starved mag industry is praying to fatten up again.

Oh, and it holds 3,500 books instead of merely 1,500. (Do you even know anyone who has that many songs on their iPod? Do the math, kids -- even if you voraciously read a book a week, it would take you seventy years to read 3,500 books. When's the last time you hung on to a piece of electronic equipment for seven decades?)

And the Kindle DX costs about a third more than the current model -- a whopping $489.

So how is this going to save journalism?

There are currently 37 newspapers and 28 magazines that offer Kindle subscriptions -- newspapers in the $6-11/month range, magazines in the $2-3/month range. No one's saying whether this has proven to be a meaningful revenue source. But we're willing to take a guess.

Will subscriptions skyrocket because of a larger viewing screen? Ask yourself -- are you more likely to purchase a Kindle because it's bigger? And is your purchasing decision going to be predicated on bookreading or newspaper/magazine reading? If you weren't already a subscriber, are you more likely to fork over nearly five hundred bucks so that you can become one?

Thought not.

There is one tiny ray of hope worth mentioning.

The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post will offer the Kindle DX at a reduced price to readers who live in areas where home-delivery is not available and who sign up for a long-term subscription to the Kindle edition of the newspapers.

N.Y. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.:

"The wireless delivery and new value-added features of the Kindle DX will provide our large, loyal audience, no matter where they live, with an exciting new way to interact with The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Additionally, by offering a subscription through the Kindle DX to readers who live outside of our delivery areas, we will extend our reach to our loyal readers who will be able to more readily enjoy their favorite newspapers. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work with Amazon to make The New York Times and The Boston Globe experiences on Kindle better than ever."
Blah blah, yada yada, whatever.

We're waiting for the Apple cavalry to come thundering into town with its rumored tablet-sized iPhone thingamajig. Wake us then.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Webby Winners...

As we poke through the gazillions of Webby Award categories, we keep stumbling across more online film & video honorees (outside the Documentary category) that have previously been showcased on , including:

Project Song

Courtney Hawkins Comes Home (pictured)
(Detroit Free Press)

Bearing Witness: Five Years of the Iraq War
(Reuters/MediaStorm), nominee.

Congrats to all!

Free $3,500 Advanced Multimedia Workshop

This may be the single best videojournalism training opportunity ever offered.

MediaStorm, which just today won its fourth Webby Award (see below), is inviting applicants to fill eight slots in its next Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshop, in New York from June 20-26. Here's the best part: citing "the tough economic climate and the critical need for multimedia training," the $3,500 tuition will be waived.

Caveats: "This is not an introductory course. Students are responsible for their own travel, room and board. Reporters are expected to have a high level of competency with still photography, and be familiar with audio and video techniques. Editors are expected to be comfortable in Final Cut Pro."

Over the course of a week, participants will work in three-person teams, reporting and editing in collaboration with a seasoned multimedia professional to produce a multimedia project for distribution across multiple platforms. Each team will produce a professional-quality, ready-for-publication multimedia story.

Applications are due no later than Friday, May 15. Participants will be selected based on the content of their applications, which can be found here. To see work produced in previous workshops, see MediaStorm's Workshop site.
Be sure to visit the MediaStorm channel on . The popular video stories "Naked Cowboy" and "An Apollo Legend" were produced during MediaStorm workshops.

MediaStorm Nabs Another Webby Award

Hooray for MediaStorm's well deserved Webby Award for "Documentary: Individual Episode," announced this morning. It's their fourth Webby.

The New York-based videojournalism production company took the prize for "Intended Consequences," by Jonathan Torgovnik. It's a harrowing story about the plight of thousands of woman who contracted HIV and bore children as a result of being raped during the Rwandan massacre.

The People's Voice winner in that category is "Kenya: Sweet Home Obama," for which American reporter Edwin Okong'o traveled to his home in Kenya to find out how his countrymen are rejoicing about Barack Obama.

Documentary Nominees (featured on KobreGuide):

Read the official Webby Award profile of MediaStorm. And don't miss this illuminating Webby Award interview with MediaStorm founder Brian Storm.

Winners will be honored at a star-studded ceremony hosted by Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers in New York City on June 8th. Starting on June 9th on the new, custom Webby Awards YouTube Channel, fans will be able to view dozens of short video highlights from the ceremony, including the winner's five-word speeches and celebrity red-carpet interviews. Past headline-grabbing speechmakers include Al Gore ("Please don't recount this vote") and Stephen Colbert ("Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.")

Hailed as the "Internet's highest honor" by the New York Times, The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 650-person judging academy whose members include David Bowie, Harvey Weinstein, Arianna Huffington, Matt Groening, Vinton Cerf, and Richard Branson.

Established in 1996, the 13th Annual Webby Awards received over 10,000 entries from all 50 states and over 60 countries worldwide.
Complete winner list / Online Film & Video winners / Gala Awards Event info

Monday, May 4, 2009

Can Kindle Rescue Newspapers & Magazines?

Will Kindle be able to rescue the newspaper and magazine industries, the way that iPod rescued the music industry?

We'll get an inkling this week when Amazon introduces a larger format version of its book-reader gadget that's designed to enable users to see their favorite publications exactly as they would have appeared on the printed page -- but without the print or the (paper) page.

(A number of periodical publishers, including Hearst magazines and the News Corporation, have announced that they've got their own proprietary e-reader devices in the works.)

Kindle's current six-inch black-and-white model offers paid subscriptions to about five dozen newspapers and magazines, but functionality is limited -- and certainly less than what you can get for free on each publication's own Website. (The Kindle itself cost a whopping $359.)

So we eagerly await this next-generation version to find out how Amazon plans to lure that endangered species known as "subscribers" to actually pay for what they've gotten used to receiving for free.

Still to be determined is whether Amazon's newest Kindle will enable viewers to enjoy the high quality videojournalism that print publications are increasingly producing -- and just about the only truly unique content that a publication can reasonably expect viewers to pay for.

What do you think? Can you imagine perusing your favorite newspapers and magazines on a 10-oz. wireless electronic screen that's the same size as a magazine page? Remember -- that one portable page can potentially "contain" all your favorite subscriptions, updated daily! What would it take for you to convert? Would video capability make a difference for you?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Clever Cellphone Video Wins Film Fest Award

Using mostly word images found on street signs in Sydney and New York, Jason van Genderen shot "Mankind is No Island," this cleverly crafted musically-driven short video below, on his cellphone. It won the top award at TropFest NY, the self-described "world's largest short film festival."

While it is not characteristically videojournalism as we normally showcase on KobreGuide, we are smitten by its resourceful sequencing of words and piano so that it plays like a visual song of sorts -- with an unexpected emotional wallop. No interviews, no dialog, no nat sound -- but it will probably speak to you more about how we ignore the homeless than the hundreds of interviews you've already seen on the topic. It's a triumph of editing to the beat. The heartbeat.

The 3:30 short has already racked up nearly a half-million YouTube views. For those who fret that videojournalism is unprofitable: Van Genderen shot this on a $57 budget, and won $20,000 TropFest prize money.

A tip of the hat to KarmaTube, for selecting "Mankind" as its Video of the Week. And be sure to hear this behind-the-scenes ABC radio interview with videomeister Van Genderen.