Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

MediaStorm Is First Web DuPont Winner

The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism are usually won by prominent TV and radio organizations. Yesterday, for the first time, a duPont Award went to a Web-based entry.

Among such recipients as CBS, HBO, PBS and NPR was Brian Storm's MediaStorm, the Brooklyn-based multimedia production studio that has partnered with news organizations and NGOs around the world to create pioneering videojournalism (as proudly showcased on KobreGuide).

MediaStorm's winning entry was Intended Consequences, "a moving multimedia presentation about Rwandan children born of rape," with photographs and interviews by Jonathan Torgovnik.

In painfully intimate interviews photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik explores an unfathomable question: can a mother love a child born out of rape. The women profiled in this haunting multimedia presentation were caught in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when mass rapes resulted in the birth of an estimated 20,000 children. It spotlights an issue which had not been as widely covered as other war crimes in Rwanda, and is the first Web-based production to win a duPont Award. The women speak simply about their brutal experiences, their isolation and suffering, and the way forward. The producers made excellent creative choices that contributed to the impact of the reporting without resorting to sensationalism.

Jonathan Torgovnik; photography and interviews; Chad A. Stevens, producer; Jules Shell, on-location video; Bob Sacha, Chad A. Stevens, studio video; Pamela Chen, Sherman Jia, composers; Tim Klimowicz, graphics; Brian Storm, executive producer
Well deserved kudos to Brian and his MediaStormtroopers!

DuPont details and other winners here.

Descriptions of winning programs here.

Colin Mulvany's Useful Multimedia Tips

Just a heads up that Colin Mulvany, multimedia producer extraordinaire at Spokane's Spokesman-Review, has rounded up links to the "useful tips" he's published intermittently on his Mastering Multimedia blog.

Many of my old posts that deal with tips about how to do video storytelling and audio slideshows get linked on a lot of blogs used by college professors who teach digital media classes. Most of these posts are buried amongst my pontifications about the changes facing the newspaper industry. So for anyone interested, here is a roundup of my best multimedia suggestions and useful tip posts in one place…
Topics include:

* How to make your audio slideshows better
* Great audio starts in the field
* How best to approach a video story
* Sequencing: The foundation of video storytelling
* How to make your video editing easier
* Get creative with your video camera
* Opening your video: How not to lose viewers
* Random Final Cut tip: Lower thirds titles
* What we can learn from TV new shooters

Go learn from the best!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ethics for Videojournalists

What are some of the ethical issues facing videojournalists? How do they compare to ethical considerations confronted by print reporters and photojournalists?

As technology advances, there are an infinite number of ways that reality can be altered. Take the conundrums that still photographers encounter when capturing a single moment, and multiply that by 30 frames per second!

We're looking for specific examples of dilemmas that videojournalists have encountered while shooting and editing stories.

If a subject requests a "re-take" in order to give a more coherent response to your interview question, do you comply? Under what circumstances? Do you let the audience know?

In what situations is it OK to edit out of chronological sequence?

To what extent should you "direct" the action, or create more cinematically or dramatically appealing situations?

Is it ever acceptable to re-create a moment or situation or verbal exchange that your camera missed? If so, when?

Please share with us your experiences and questions -- hypothetical and real -- whether producing or watching video stories.

Does your organization have a separate set of ethics guidelines for videojournalism? Whose job is it to enforce them? Are they available to the public? (Can you email us a copy?)

We're starting a conversation about videojournalism ethics at the KobreGuide Facebook Group (click the "Discussions" tab), so please join us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Update: NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop

Some good news about the National Press Photographers Association Advanced Storytelling Workshop, coming up in April in Texas. They've just added Kathy Kieliszewski (pictured) of the Detroit Free Press as an instructor. She's the newspaper's four-time National Emmy Award winning multimedia producer. Though she and her team have worked closely with a local TV station, her roots are in newspaper video production, and her staff has grown organically from the paper's still photography department.

That makes Kieliszewski an especially welcome addition to the teaching staff, which consists mostly of accomplished TV news journalists. While broadcast expertise is needed in newsrooms these days, it's also important to distinguish between event-driven news coverage and videojournalism feature storytelling -- which is what the NPPA workshop strives to do.

Kieliszewski's work at has been recognized at the NPPA Best of Photojournalism competition, the 2009 Webby Awards and as a finalist in the Pictures of the Year International's annual competition's documentary project of the year, as well as numerous photography and picture editing awards. That provides a good balance to the equally valuable input participants will receive from TV newscasters.

The workshop is slated for April 11-16 at Texas State University.

Here's some more info:

This exciting week-long program is designed for experienced TV and newspaper photojournalist, reporters, and video journalist (VJs) - anyone who tells stories with moving pictures, sound and words. We pick up where the Oklahoma NewsVideo Workshops leaves off. We have broadened our scope to include journalists working for newspapers and one-man-bands. Several of our faculty were working solo and winning Photographer of the Year awards long before anyone used the term VJ.

Everyone is a participant. Working solo or in teams, you will develop story ideas, research, report, shoot, edit and produce complete packages under real world deadlines. Critiques and one-on-one sessions abound.

You will participate in regular assignment meetings where story ideas are evaluated and refined. Great emphasis is placed on developing a clear focus BEFORE the shooting process begins. Shooting, writing and editing is conducted under real world deadlines.

Finished stories are critiqued with an emphasis on constructive suggestions for improvement.
Participants must bring their own equipment -- including camera, tripod, microphones, lights, battery charger, laptop, and DVDs to burn assignments for critiques.


* Schedule (pdf)

* Registration info

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Kodak PlaySport is Waterproof, But...

We're fond of the Kodak Zi8 pocket videocamera for reasons we've previously delineated here. At the Consumer Electronics Show, Kodak unveiled its successor, newly christened the PlaySport Zx3.

Its chief improvement seems to be that it is sturdier, more rugged, and ... waterproof. Up to 10-feet deep, anyway. At CES, Kodak displayed its PlaySports inside mini-fishbowls.

However! Undoubtedly because of this underwater capability, the vidcam no longer has a jack for an external microphone -- the one clear advantage Kodak's Zi8 offered over the wildly popular Flip brand. (With only a built-in mic, your audio source has to be right next to the camera, which is often impractical. You can't hear distinctly what someone is saying in a long shot.)

The PlaySport also doesn't have the Zi8's macro/landscape toggle capability, and its 2-inch LCD viewing screen is signficantly smaller. Plus, the flip-out USB dongle, to jack the whole camera directly into your laptop or desktop for downloading, is missing in action.

On a positive note, the retail price is significantly less ($149, compared to $179). And did we mention that it's waterproof? Up to 10-feet deep?

So if you're the sort of videojournalist who does a lot of shooting around wading pools, is nervous about dropping your camera, but doesn't need to conduct intelligible interviews, the PlaySport is for you.

But seriously, what is Kodak thinking? Reacting to criticism that Zi8 was not a very sexy name, they held a product-naming contest on Twitter, randomly selecting 100 entries for a free Zi8 and inviting the grand-prize winner to CES in Vegas. (Disclosure: KobreGuide's editorial director won one of those nifty Zi8s, and is stunned that his entries weren't deemed superior to PlaySport.)

Naming cameras is not the only thing Kodak needs help with -- where did they get the idea that what consumers want is not good clear audio, even at a distance, but rather the ability to store their camera in a fishbowl?

The PlaySport is due out in April. We say: Hang on to your Zi8.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Photo Magazine to Aid Haiti Quake Victims

Several world-class photographers, including Mary Ellen Mark, are donating the use of their works to create a special edition of a magazine that you can buy as a fundraising effort to provide medical and disaster relief to Haiti. All proceeds will be donated to the International Red Cross.

The title “Haiti: Onè Respe” comes from a traditional Haitian greeting meaning “honor and respect.”
The photography magazine is made possible through the Magcloud print-on-demand service to benefit victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

The project is spearheaded by San Francisco photojournalist Lane Hartwell, one of our former students:

“The news of the disaster in Haiti deeply touched me, both as a person and as a photojournalist. I wondered what I could do to help, and spoke with my friend and colleague Peter Pereira, who had the privilege of shooting in Haiti in November 2009. The idea began with his essay, but others quickly came forward with generous contributions and before we knew it we had a magazine. We started on the morning of the 13th and had it available before midnight on the 14th."
This 40-page special issue is available at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Career Lessons from Groucho

With massive layoffs at newspapers and TV news departments, photojournalists and videojournalists are legitimately complaining that their industry is passing them by. Even the best and brightest are being sent to pasture. Top newspapers in our nation's capital have recently lost the award-winning talents of luminaries such as Travis Fox and Pierre Kattar (Washington Post) and Mary Calvert and Janet Reeves (Washington Times) -- a horrifying scenario that's reverberating in newsrooms throughout the land.

Every photography and journalism trade publication wails, "How can this be happening?" and "What can we do to stop the bloodbath?" Sure, we know all the economic reasons, but it's so... unfair! To rob these superstars of their forum, and deprive audiences of their work is so... wrong!

Then we read this recent blog post by marketing superguru Seth Godin. Though he was addressing mass marketers, his wisdom applies to visual journalists as well: "Just because you're good at something doesn't mean the market cares any longer."

He imparts cold truths by reminding us of the career of comic genius Groucho Marx.

The Marx Brothers were great at vaudeville. Live comedy in a theatre. And then the market for vaudeville was killed by the movies. Groucho didn't complain about this or argue that people should respect the hard work he and his brothers had put in. No, they went into the movies.

Then the market for movies like the Marx Brothers were making dried up. Groucho didn't start trying to fix the market. Instead, he saw a new medium and went there. His TV work was among his best (and certainly most lucrative).

It's extremely difficult to repair the market.

It's a lot easier to find a market that will respect and pay for the work you can do. Technology companies have been running this race for years. Now, all of us must.

If some cultural shift has turned what you do into a commodity, don't argue. Find a new place before the competition does. It's not easy or fair, but it's true.
OK, all you visual storytellers. Now that your stock photos sell for pennies, media staff positions are drying up, and "citizen photographers" are cornering the market with shoddy goods at the right price (free!) -- what are you going to do with your talents?

What's your plan?

Are there avenues still open for you to explore? Probably not. Those days are gone, kaput -- get used to it, live with it, deal with it. Can you forge new avenues, create new paths, blaze new trails? Pioneer and conquer new territory, like Groucho did? You bet your life.

Nikon vs. Canon: DSLR Video Quality

We're often asked which hybrid DSLR camera we'd recommend for shooting both stills and video, the frontrunners invariably being Canon and Nikon.
In his Photofocus online magazine, Scott Bourne -- who has been writing authoritatively online about photography since 1998 -- makes the case for Canon.

Here's the gist:

Canon DSLRs have the lead in the fusion space. Comparing the video from a D3s to a Canon 1D MKIV, serious video/filmmaker types (and those who aspire to be serious like me) prefer the Canon.

I’ve spoken with several filmmakers about this as well as some software engineers and other tech types. They’ve all confirmed my findings. The Nikon suffers from several drawbacks.

1) Short HD clip duration (5 minutes) – the Canons shoot 12 minutes.

2) No 1080p video – Yes 720 is fine for most situations, but serious filmmakers are all fixing their sites on 1080p, which will soon be the minimum standard for HD. The Canons shoot at 1080p.

3) Motion JPG – this codec has crippled Nikon’s video. The quality just doesn’t compare to the H.264 wrapper that comes around Canon’s video. Using a program like MPEG Streamclip, you can convert the Canon video to Pro Res. You can’t get true Pro Res out of the Nikon video. Those three letters “JPG” say it all.

4) Manual control over exposure – There are manual controls but they are far from user-friendly and you have to know the secret handshake to make them work. I’ve asked 20 or more D3s/D300s owners if they know how to get the camera to allow manual control over exposure when shooting video and none of them knew how to do it. This is not reason enough to rule the camera out for video, but it does not help. Ergonomics matter.

If you’re shooting video for your kids, or for your high school film project, or something casual, the Nikon footage will work. But for serious filmmakers who want a professional caliber tool, changes have to be made to Nikon’s video. There’s a reason that major motion pictures like the latest Terminator movie are using Canon DSLR’s for video and not Nikons.
Read the full post here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

KobreGuide Awards: Best of 2009

It's awards season, and we're joining the party by announcing the first annual KobreGuide Awards, for the best videojournalism projects of 2009.

On February 15, we'll be announcing winners in each of our 20 KobreGuide topics (see list below). And we'll also be selecting winners for each of these 5 categories:

* Videojournalist of the Year
* Best videojournalism story
* Best videojournalism package or series
* Best audio slideshow
* Best student project

Each of these winners will receive a Lightscoop plus some other goodies to be announced shortly. (And if you don't already know what a Lightscoop is, get yourself over to and start salivating.)

We'll also be awarding a grand prize to the KobreGuide Videojournalist of the Year, and as you'll see next week when we officially reveal it, this one is going to be pretty sweet.

We're going through the 250+ stories we showcased on KobreGuide in 2009, and we're inviting your input. Please let us know what your favorite videojournalism and multimedia pieces were from last year. You can select them from KobreGuide or anywhere else online.

Be sure to first read the KobreGuide criteria -- what we look for in selecting stories.

Whoever submits for our consideration the most entries that become KobreGuide prizewinners will also receive a Lightscoop (retail value $35).

Here are the KobreGuide "Topic Channels". Again, we're looking for the best story in each category, which was originally published in 2009, so please let us know your personal favorites:


Click here to submit entries.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Learn Visual Editing at the Kalish Workshop

If you want to learn visual editing, your best bargain is the intensive Kalish Workshop, June 4-8 at Ball State University in Indiana. Registration is only $500 to work with top pros.

The Kalish has reinvented itself to bridge the training needs of two distinct yet related news gathering groups: Online news organizations with staffs that possess incredible web skills but need help in visual storytelling and journalistic skills; and newspaper organizations that have skilled visual storytellers and journalists but are lacking web skills.

Kalish director Scott Sines (whose day job is managing editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal) writes:

The 2010 Kalish is accepting applications [through May 1] for the 21st edition of this venerable workshop. It's an opportunity to learn cross-platform multimedia skills from a faculty of Emmy and Pulitzer Prize winning visual editors. Brian Storm, Geri Migielicz, Sue Morrow, Randy Cox and Kenny Irby will be on the faculty this year, along with other industry experts. The core faculty has worked together on this program for many years and most of them stay through the duration of the workshop, providing ample time to answer your questions. Last year we closed registration at 30 people and attracted a diverse group of working professionals, students and professors from six countries. It was one of our most successful workshops and this year should be better.

After much thought, and vigorous eyebrow raising, The Kalish board, with the support of the National Press Photographers Foundation, have decided to keep the registration fee for this year's workshop at $500. It's the lowest rate you'll find for a workshop of this quality. You'll receive four full days (June 4-8) of intense hands-on instruction.

The traditional Kalish values of ethical decision-making in journalism and management remain. The workshop begins with a primer in FinalCut Pro, progresses through picture selection, multiple picture editing and news judgment, to multimedia and management.

The days are long and packed with real-life decision-making exercises in visual storytelling, which you will be expected to defend in front of the group. We work hard and then we play hard. Please ask any Kalish alum about their experience with us; they are our best references. You can hear testimonials and learn more about the workshop at .
More info here.

Apply here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NPPA Web Video & Multimedia Contest

Entries are now being accepted for the 7th annual National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism Contest, which features a slew of Web video categories.

It's free to enter, for both NPPA members and non-members. Entries must have been originally posted during 2009. Deadline for submissions is January 29.

Web video entries "are for video-based stories that are written and produced for the web. These stories must have been posted on a website before any other use in the broadcast arena."

Here are the Web categories:

48 Hour
A story that covers a planned or unplanned news event or a subject of general interest and importance. It can be spot news or a follow up or side bar to spot news. The event should be timely. The entry should contain no music, except where it's part of the natural sound of the story. Stories must have been shot, edited, and posted on the web within 48 hours. (Max. length: 10 minutes)

News Feature
A feature/human interest story or series of stories where the photojournalist has put considerable time and effort into the production of the entry. News Features that score highly show imagination and creativity. (Max. length: 30 minutes)

Sports Feature
A planned story or series of stories about the preparation for, analysis of, or audience reaction to a sport or coverage of a sporting event. Greater weight will be given to stories that have sports action video and focus on the competition. An outcome must be given. (Max. length: 20 minutes)

A planned story or series of stories about a subject of general interest and importance where the photojournalist has put considerable time and effort into the production of the entry. (Max. length: 30 minutes)


There's also an opportunity to enter "Audio Slideshows" and "Multimedia Packages."

Multimedia Package

Highlights the use of audio, video and animation in the presentation of web-based stories. Judges will pay special attention to the use of available technology to complement and enhance the art of visual storytelling.

Entries may include single galleries, slideshows or video, as well as packages that include multiple elements that were grouped and published together as a single story or theme.

Content, usability, and interactivity are key to this celebration of cutting-edge storytelling.

Audio Slideshows

Audio-enhanced collections of still photographs presented in a gallery or slideshow format, that tell a clear story. Animation can be used only to advance from one photograph to another.

This category is for still photography combined with audio only. There is no video allowed in this category.

An entry is defined as a single gallery or slideshow; not a group or collection of slideshows. Web packages that include multiple slideshows should be entered as Multimedia Packages.

The emphasis here is on presenting great News, Sports and Feature photographs with the additional level of detail that audio can provide.

For inspiration, you can revisit last year's winners in these categories:

Best Web Video:

“Hoping for a Miracle Amid the Rubble” by Travis Fox(

Best Documentary Video :

“Trapped: Mental Illness in America's Prisons” by Jenn Ackerman.
(Featured on

Best Feature Video:

“Common Ground” (MediaStorm)
(Featured on

Brian Storm, Executive Producer
Scott Strazzante, Photographer
Chad A. Stevens, Producer
Wes Pope, Video
Tim Klimowicz, Graphics

Best Use of Multimedia :

“Thirst in the Mojave” (Las Vegas Sun)
(Featured on

Zach Wise: Photographer, Videographer, Producer

Contest info here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

10 Things Journalists Should Learn in 2010

'Tis the season of "ten best" lists, and we thought about posting our ten best "ten best" lists, but that seemed too ... ambitious. So we'll bring to the party instead this forward-looking list of "Ten Things Every Journalist Should Know in 2010," courtesy of

Everyone's prognosticating these days, but this particular list has more weight of authority simply because last year's version, "Ten Things Every Journalist Should Know in 2009," turned out to be reliably prophetic, and still valid -- starting with using Twitter and RSS feeds for news gathering and community building. Since we cast our Oscar ballots with those who have strong track records in that department, we'll take the same tack here.

So here's the top of this year's updated list of what journalists need to learn.

1. How to monitor Twitter and other social media networks for breaking news or general conversations in your subject area using tools such as TweetDeck. Understand and use hashtags.

2. You are in control. Don’t become a slave to technology, make it your slave instead. You will need to develop strategies to cope with information overload – filter, filter, filter!

3. You are a curator. Like it or not, part of your role will eventually be to aggregate content (but not indiscriminately). You will need to gather, interpret and archive material from around the web using tools like Publish2, Delicious and StumbleUpon. As Publish2 puts it: “Help your readers get news from social media. More signal. Less noise.”

4. Your beat will be online and you will be the community builder. Creating communities and maintaining their attention will increasingly be down to the efforts of individual journalists; you may no longer be able to rely on your employer’s brand to attract reader loyalty in a fickle and rapidly changing online world (see 7).

5. Core journalistic skills are still crucial. You can acquire as many multimedia and programming skills as you want, but if you are unable to tell a story in an accurate and compelling way, no one will want to consume your content.
Read the rest of the list here.

What's on your list of new skills and information to acquire in 2010?

Tip of the cybercap to Alltop.