Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Will HTML5 Video Mean for iPad Users?

While we're hoping that the iPad will give a much needed shot in the arm to videojournalism, we're also nervous that, when the much heralded device debuts this week, most online video won't work on it.

That's because Web video has become almost synonymous with Adobe's ubiquitous Flash, which (for technical and political reasons) Apple's Steve Jobs famously refuses to support. He claims that Flash is a bug-ridden Mac crasher that lacks innovative qualities.

Instead the iPad is relying on more Web developers to use the emerging HTML5 coding, which enables non-Flash formats to play in standard Web browsers, without requiring additional software plug-ins.

If video producers want to reach audiences on their mobile platforms, Jobs is essentially bullying them into taking the HTML5 route.

This week, the mighty Brightcove online video platform climbed aboard the HTML5 wagon, delivering another major blow to Flash's dominance. Brightcove's clout extends to more than 1,000 major media customers around the globe -- including 20th Century Fox, Condé Nast, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Pictures Television, Discovery Communications, ITV, Turner Broadcasting, Hearst Magazines and Fox International.

Two prominent Brightcove clients -- the New York Times (a Brightcove investor) and Time -- are already adopting the "Brightcove Experience for HTML5" for producing their iPad-ready Websites.

To make things interesting, Apple competitor Google (which owns Flash-based YouTube) fired back by integrating Flash into its Chrome browser, thus fortifying it (and its Android operating system) for mobile phones, tablets and notebooks.

Though Chrome accounts for only 5 percent of Internet use, there can be no denying Google's money and clout. Hedging its bets, YouTube is experimenting with its own HTML5 video player, for Chrome, Safari and MS Internet Explorer (with Google Chrome Frame installed).

So what does this all mean for consumers?

First, it helps to understand a little bit about HTML5. Currently, the Web operates on HTML4, a version of the standard common coding language that hasn't changed since 1999. HTML5 is a work in progress, which won't be completed and officially ratified for many years, but elements of it are starting to come into use -- such as the "VIDEO" tag that enables video to play inside a browser without the need for additional plug-in software. It even dictates the videoplayer "controls." HTML5 is supported by Chrome, Opera, Firefox and Safari. Its video relies on the H.264 compression standard (i.e. .MP4 files or Ogg Theora  format .OGV files) -- as opposed to .FLV Flash files.

For those who've ever done any type of basic HTML coding, here's an oversimplified explanation. When you want an image to appear on a Web page, you just need to create an "IMG" tag that points to the image file (e.g. a JPG or GIF) on your server, along with certain attributes (such as dimensions and placement), and voila! There's your image! However, for video to appear on your Web page, you currently have to write code that activates separate plug-in software (usually Flash) to launch a video player and start the video. With HTML5, you can just insert a "VIDEO" tag that works like an "IMG" tag, by pointing to your uploaded video and adding its own instructions on how it should look and behave.

Furthermore, with additional HTML5 interactive attributes, end users (that is, viewers) will be able to do even more -- rotate and spin the videos, slide them around the page, resize them, overlap them with other videos, draw on them, mark them up with their own text and visual elements, and more... all by clicking or just touching the screen. Coders can even dictate the launch times of videos -- so that a video can start at a specific amount of time after the page is loaded (or several videos can start sequentially at pre-established times).

Bottom line: Media Websites that currently produce video need to hop aboard the HTML5 train, as it's leaving the gate. Otherwise their Flash videos will appear as broken icons on iPads and other mobile devices. Essentially, they need to make the minimal investment in recoding their pages so that they are capable of playing both Flash (.FLV) and non-Flash (.MP4) videos -- and in recruiting programming teams to develop or license code that can maximize the interactive potential of the next generation of HTML5 video players.

Brad Neuberg's helpful video tutorial (below) explains HTML5 video (starting at 20:55).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NPPA Judges: Why These Winning Videos Impressed Us

Poynter's Regina McCombs led an illuminating online chat with the judges of this year's National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism contest in the Web video and audio-slideshow categories. In addition to sharing highlights and trends, they discussed what qualities they looked for in winning entries.

(NOTE: We previously eavesdropped on the judges of the contest's TV News Video category, whose winners are being added each day this week to the KobreGuide homepage.)

This year's contest judges include:

* Phaedra Singelis, MSNBC supervising producer
* Mike Stocker, South Florida Sun-Sentinel photojournalist
* Alexandra Garcia, Washington Post video and multimedia journalist
* Vidisha Priyanka, Tampa Bay Online audience editor
* Theresa Collington, WTSP Executive producer for online
* John Kaplan, University of Florida visual journalism professor
* Jack Rowland, NPPA contest coordinator

You can read their online text comments from this year's contest by category here.

Here is an edited transcript of their post-judging conversation, which we've cleaned up a bit, while retaining the "raw" aura of the online chatroom:

12:59 Regina McCombs: First off, let's talk about what really impressed you this year. What were some highlights for you in the entries?

1:01 Phaedra Singelis: We were very impressed by the level of professionalism in some of the student submitted work.

1:01 Alexandra Garcia: "Waiting to Die" really showed that a simple execution can be the most effective. Gorgeous, inspiring photography with an touching, humorous interview with incredible audio quality. Simple and fantastic.

1:02 Regina McCombs: The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill took the best use of the Web category. What prompted that choice?

1:05 theresa: Flawless technical execution, great storytelling, strong usablilty...

1:05 Mike Stocker: The overall quality of their work continued to stand out as we went through all of the entries. They took chances, were concise in their work and above all, told interesting stories.

1:06 Ellyn Angelotti, Poynter: "Powering a Nation" (pictured) was one reason UNC won:

1:06 theresa: Their site and segments are clearly produced with usability in mind...

1:07 theresa: Clear navigation and usability in their digital products that made it simple for the site visitor to consume their content truly impressed me...

1:08 Alexandra Garcia: Powering a Nation really impressed us. We felt like, in so many of their pieces, UNC was pushing the envelope in all areas of the multimedia. From video stories to profiles to compelling video to creative graphics, we felt like that site was both deep and well-edited, which made it easy to navigate.

1:08 Phaedra Singelis: Their piece on mountaintop mining "Battle for the Mountains" was very strong. We liked it nearly as much as the piece on the same subject that ultimately won 1st place. It had good energy and covered lots of different point of views.

1:08 theresa: UNC is leading the way with their use visual graphics and interactivity in a technically sound application...

WHAT WERE THE MOST MEMORABLE PIECES?

1:08 Regina McCombs: Anything specific you'll take back with you from the contest in general?

1:10 theresa: Waiting to Die will stay with me. They really used amazing photography coupled with artful, subdued storytelling that suited the medium.

1:10 Phaedra Singelis: I was really impressed by the idea of telling the economy story through the eyes of a postal carrier in "Carrier of the Economy"

1:11 Alexandra Garcia: I also thought some of the story ideas were quite creative. As I mentioned above, our feature slideshow winner was a great reminder to keep it simple when it doesn't need to be complicated, while some of the UNC pieces inspired me to chose the right medium for the right story.

1:12 Phaedra Singelis: I also loved the visuals in "Roping the Wind." Not just mounting a camera on the hood of the vehicle, but showing the clouds moving and the shadows of the wind turbines on the field.

1:15 theresa: Also, Mexico at War is remarkable. Really - it should be the prototype for online storytelling for our industry. I plan to show that in our newsroom as an example of leveraging all digital assets to tell powerful stories online.

STILL A LONG WAY TO GO, A LOT TO LEARN

1:16 Mike Stocker: We had a very diverse group of judges from various still, tv, and web backgrounds that all brought different expectations to the various stories that we were judging. I think that as an industry we still have a long way to go in effectively communicating online. The best way I believe to do this is to work together with journalists from different backgrounds and learn from each other. We all have a lot to learn, and we also have a lot that we can share and learn from each other as well.

1:16 Phaedra Singelis: I also loved the visuals in Frozen Land, Forgotten People. It also had some nice nat sound which showed how to do audio in a quiet place.

1:16 Alexandra Garcia: Also, for me "A Family Kocktail" was an inspiring portrait--it reminded me: don't just scratch the surface of a character, especially with such a fascinating person. Go deeper in the interview.

1:17 Mike Stocker: We need to surprise and hook our audience much quicker online.

1:18 [Comment From Kenny Irby : ]
Mike, speaking of diversity were there any new organizations for example of ethnic media outlets entered in the competition.

1:18 Phaedra Singelis: "1 corner, 3 places to buy Starbucks" made us all chuckle. It was a great example of how to edit to make a story really sing.

1:18 Alexandra Garcia: I second what Mike Stocker said above. Collaborating with judges with very diverse backgrounds was a great reminder to get different perspectives on your stories.

1:19 Mike Stocker: A lot of the winners such as "A Family Kocktail" had that surprise factor that worked so well.

EMPHASIS ON VISUALS OR STORY?

1:20 [Comment From Craig Duff (TIME) : ]
I'd be interested in hearing what the panelists/judges were looking for as they viewed the entries in video journalism. Since this is a contest created by the NPPA, was there an emphasis on the quality of the shooting? Or were you looking at the overall impact -- visual elements, story, characters, writing, etc. -- of a piece?

1:21 theresa: @Craig - yes photography was truly at the center of this contest, specifically how it related to online storytelling. Check out 5 Dollar Cover.

1:21 Regina McCombs: To answer Kenny's question, there were no specific ethnic media outlets that entered, although there was some good coverage of ethnic communities. I'd love to encourage ethnic media to enter -- the publication size categories make it possible to compete.

1:22 theresa: @Craig 5 Dollar Cover is a great example of using some really rich photography to tell a very personal story. Also - audio was really important. The natural sound and the interviews were really vital to this as our choice.

1:23 Mike Stocker: Kenny, there was some great work being done by some indivdual journalists in Mexico, and the judges loved the piece done by elpais.com

1:23 Alexandra Garcia: @Craig, I think all the judges can agree that we were looking for story. Of course, quality visuals were at the top of our list, but we came across many entries that had beautiful images, but the editing and story of the piece didn't hold up to the images.

1:23 Regina McCombs: There were a number of international entries that were exciting. El Pais won third for multimedia packages, and we saw great work out of Mexico, South America and Scandinavia.

1:23 Jack Rowland: @ Craig - The contest rules were removed from the site once the contest closed. You can see them at http://bop.nppa.org/2010/web_sites/rules/ to read the descriptions for each category.

1:24 Phaedra Singelis: @Craig - I think we judged video the same way we judged all the other categories. When we couldn't decide between two pieces, we weighed the visuals more heavily. Overall, we felt we could really benefit from learning more about script writing from our TV friends.

WHY NO FIRST PRIZES IN SOME CATEGORIES?

1:25 [Comment From Colin Mulvany : ]
In the news video category, you didn't award first thru third. I was surprised by that. A lot of newspapers are doing spot news video. What was the weaknesses that you saw, and what can producers do better?

1:26 Regina McCombs: A number of other categories did not have a first place winner. In all these cases, there was a lot of discussion in the room about those decisions. Judges, can you comment on why you made those choices?

1:27 theresa: @Colin - this was a real struggle for us. Many were full of technical errors and ignored the basic principles of photojournalism. We saw lots of evidence of urgency, however we really couldn't award anything that had technical or fundamental errors.

1:28 Ellyn Angelotti, Poynter: Watch and see the judges comments on "Vigil for Teen Crash Victim"

1:28 Alexandra Garcia: We also saw some really great video work entered in the multimedia project category, but those individual pieces weren't entered in the video category, where they would have placed.

1:28 theresa: @Colin your piece was thoughtful and had some great moments in it

1:31 Phaedra Singelis: @Colin - we wouldn't feel comfortable awarding an out-of-focus or off-color still image, and we felt many of the pieces entered didn't meet a baseline standard. We wanted to set the bar for a national contest where we felt competent visuals, audio and storytelling were met.

1:31 theresa: @Colin - with respect to spot news, again, hustle is important but becomes irrelevant if the piece is poorly edited, or out of focus or shaky. The basics still need to be covered - like using a tripod, white balance, etc and while we saw hustle, we didn't see anything that really did a good job while adhering to the things we know to be important...

1:31 Mike Stocker: Colin, The judges were not only surprised, but it was also a little depressing to see some of the basic components missing from the quality of a lot of the videos produced. Education, training and technical proficiency were sorely needed in a majority of the work we saw in those categories. I think we need to work harder, and take some cues from our tv friends that know how to produce successful video stories.

1:32 theresa: @Colin there's a great opportunity here for next year - someone can truly own this category...

WILL VIDEO STORYTELLING APPEAR ON MORE PLATFORMS?

1:32 [Comment From Adam Wisneski : ]
does anyone see this type of content (audio slideshows and non-traditional news video) gaining more attention with the rise of television through broadband connection? For example, would a family sit down and watch a mediastorm piece while they eat dinner?

1:34 Regina McCombs: Adam, I think it's going to be fascinating to see what happens with mobile devices -- phones and tablets -- and see how it changes consumption of multimedia, especially if we can find ways to let people save and view later. There's a lot of potential there.

1:34 Mike Stocker: Adam, that's a good question. I think if the story telling is there, and the viewers have access to something that interests them like some of the top work we saw, than yes, they will watch it.

1:35 [Comment From Kenny Irby : ]
Judges, informed by this judging experience, what are your thoughts about excellence in blended multimedia storytelling? Are there clear guidelines that you would suggest for benchmarking web storytelling. Be specific!

1:36 theresa: @Kenny - yes!!! There was some stellar work here that really sets the bar for excellent multimedia storytelling. Check out this from the St. Pete Times on Real Florida. Great example here of a photojournalist crossing over into video.

1:37 Alexandra Garcia: @Kenny, I'd encourage people to be more judicious about when and how to incorporate stills into a video piece. It can be done well, but we saw far too many pieces that had stills that seemed "thrown in" for the sake of blending the two.

1:38 Mike Stocker: Kenny, multimedia can not be an afterthought. I think more planning needs to take place at the beginning of a project or story so that the story teller has a clear path, and doesn't get stumbled up by trying to piece components together at the end of a project that don't necessarily fit together.

1:38 Phaedra Singelis: @Kenny - I think the Ted Kennedy piece from the Boston Globe was a great example of blended storytelling on the web. They used video, still, text, etc. and it was well organized and had great depth as well.

1:39 [Comment From Peter Huoppi : ]
Are there plans to expand the number of video categories? It seems like in this contest and in others like the monthly multimedia contests, long-term projects win out over shorter-form daily work. Or is the medium still too young to have enough entries in expanded categories (more similar to the still categories)?

1:39 Jack Rowland: @ Peter - The advent of video-capable digital SLRs has created an increase in slideshows with small amounts of video. These currently cannot be entered in the audio slideshow category so must be entered in video. I think we need to find away to create categories that can better embrace these types of visual stories to acknowledge the way people are developing their skills.

1:40 Phaedra Singelis: @Peter - I hope that some day we wrap all video categories into the TV contest.

1:40 [Comment From Craig Herndon : ]
Doesn't the introduction of mobile devices in this discussion, fly-in-the-face of the quality issues, a la the video category?

1:40 Regina McCombs: I'm talking about distributing content via mobile, not gathering via mobile devices, but that raises the question of best gear available, how that affects quality, all those things...

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR'S ENTRANTS?

1:41 Regina McCombs: Judges, what is one piece of advice you'd give to people entering next year?

1:41 Phaedra Singelis: Edit tighter!

1:42 Jack Rowland: Enter the right category.

1:42 Mike Stocker: Edit, edit edit

1:42 Phaedra Singelis: Take a script writing class.

1:42 theresa: @Regina - pay attention to the details and the basics, especially with breaking news video.

1:42 Jack Rowland: Put the video camera on a tripod

1:43 Jack Rowland: Get the microphone close!

1:43 Alexandra Garcia: I'd also say that the DSLR video is gorgeous but gorgeous video still needs to have a story or a narrative.

1:43 theresa: @Regina - also, you may want to have a separate web page to post your entries on. We had a whole lot of broken links or pages that had moved. We did our best with Google - but in some instances, things were lost. Put it on a page you have control over.

1:43 Alexandra Garcia: Show your work to a colleague, to a friend, to a family member before your publish. Does it make sense and do they get bored?

1:44 Phaedra Singelis: Use a tripod. Color correct. Check your audio levels. The basics first. Then make the first 30 secs really great. Surprise me.

1:44 Alexandra Garcia: Don't use music as a crutch.

1:44 theresa: @Regina make sure audio is as important and as thought out as your video.

1:45 [Comment From Cliff Cheney : ]
@Phaedra Singelis - Why would you want video judged with TV stories? Do you think they would fare well against more traditional TV story formats?

1:45 Mike Stocker: Have a hook, and grab the viewers attention. Story telling is the bottom line. Find characters and tell their stories

1:48 Jack Rowland: I think we all should be working toward taking the best of what visual journalists do and using those things to create new forms of visual storytelling that are better than what we've done before. It's still about the story, not the gear and the way the story is told.

1:48 Phaedra Singelis: @Clff - I don't think the audience knows the difference between TV video and web video. Our site msnbc.com has both. We shouldn't be producing them differently based on platform in 2010. Good story telling with video is good story telling.

1:48 theresa: Don't give it all away at the top of your video stories. The 'inverted pyramid' doesn't work very well in video stories - start your video story with good nats, introduce a character and maybe offer the viewer a surprise or a twist.

1:49 [Comment From Craig Herndon : ]
@ Regina- Thanks for the clarification. I guess on the receiving end concerns about impact on screens smaller than an iPad are an issue. Did you guys have any back room cross talk about smaller interface delivery?

1:49 Mike Stocker: Phaedra, I think that journalists that are producing video online should take a look at some of the TV winners.

1:49 Regina McCombs: A little bit, but we'll probably have to deliberate about that more for next year's contest. Multimedia is always changing!

FINAL THOUGHTS?

1:49 Regina McCombs: Any final thoughts, judges?

1:52 Phaedra Singelis: There was some really teriffic work. I was happy to see less work suffering from the "My name is.... " intro and getting quicker to the great sound bite. Also, one other note: keep text to a minimum. Never while someone is talking and make it legible if they are watching it on a small screen.

1:54 [Comment From Guest : ]
How are you guys defining multimedia? If it's strictly video it's not multimedia

1:54 [Comment From Cliff Cheney : ]
The web affords a freedom to experiment with new styles and aesthetics that might not be appropriate for a site like MSNBC. Would you want all video stories to be judged as if they could be consumed by mainstream media and exclude those that don't fit?

1:55 theresa: @Cliff - check this out: http://www.dhirajsingh.com/11.htm

1:55 Alexandra Garcia: @Ellyn, We saw some great work and many categories that could have used better work. In this uncertain time in our industry, I hope we can all stay inspired to attempt to live up to that great work and to submit even better work next year--and continue to push the storytelling envelope.

1:55 Phaedra Singelis: @Cliff - We're all for experimentation!

1:56 Regina McCombs: @guest: The multimedia categories were not won by anyone who only had video. The judges felt there had to be multiple story forms to place in those categories.

1:56 theresa: @Cliff that's an example of a well told, brilliantly executed story that's pretty non-traditional. After looking at all of the entries - the good stories, that used the medium to support and enhance storytelling were the clear winners. Some experimental formatting is really exciting when it is well done.

1:57 Mike Stocker: Alexandra, I couldn't agree more, we need to stick together and try to continue to produce captivating stories.

1:59 Phaedra Singelis: Visual journalists are journalists first. Good story-telling, good reporting will make your stories stand out.

Monday, March 29, 2010

NPPA Awards for Best Video & Multimedia

Congrats to all winners of the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism awards in the Web categories. Many of these also won top awards in the recent Pictures of the Year International competition.

It should come as no surprise that nearly all of these prestigious award-winners were previously showcased on KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism.

Lesson: if you want to see next year's award winners, no need to wait. Just follow KobreGuide.com, where you'll find the best videojournalism every day.

(SPECIAL NOTE: This week on KobreGuide, we'll be showcasing the winners of NPPA's TV News video categories, in case you missed them.)

Special congratulations go out to the grand prizewinners, representing the tops in their respective categories:

* UNC Chapel Hill, producers of the Best Multimedia Package: Powering a Nation, and the judges' pick for the overall Best Use of the Web award

* Washington Post, producers of the Best Video: Mexico At War

* LA Times, producers of the Best Audio Slideshow: Waiting to Die
(NOTE: Also see KobreGuide's exclusive Q&A with its creator, Liz O. Baylen.)

And here are the rest of the best of the Website winners:
AWARDS KEY:

INDE winners are for Web sites not affiliated with, or supported by, a news organization;

UNDER winners are for Web sites that are affiliated with a major media organization and whose site has fewer than 2.5 million unique page view per month;

OVER winners are for Web sites that are affiliated with a major media organization and whose site has more than 2.5 million unique page view per month.

HM = Honorable Mention
+++++++

VIDEO:

"Video storytelling produced for the Web, that takes advantage of the strengths of the medium and manages its weaknesses."

DOCUMENTARY VIDEO WINNERS:

INDE

1st Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal
Yale e360/milesfrommaybe productions/MediaStorm

2nd Battle for the Mountains
UNC Chapel Hill

3rd Driftless: Stories from Iowa
MediaStorm

HM Wasteland
http://www.bombayfc.com

HM Facing Deportation
http://eileenmignoni.com/

UNDER

1st What Will Happen to Andy?
AARP Bulletin Today

2nd Killer Blue: Baptized by Fire
Associated Press

3rd From Baghdad to San Jose
San Jose Mercury News

OVER

1st Mexico at War
The Washington Post

2nd $5 Cover Amplified: Ben Nichols: Hold Fast
http://5dollarcoveramplified.com/

3rd Determined Divas
DemocratandChronicle.com

HM Motown at 50
Detroit Free Press

HM Final Edition
Rocky Mountain News

HM Trapped under the sea
The Boston Globe

HM Ted Kennedy: A life in politics
The Boston Globe

+++++++

FEATURE VIDEO:

INDE

1st Family Kocktail
MediaStorm

2nd Roping the Wind in Texas
UNC Chapel Hill

3rd A Life Alone
www.maisiecrow.com

HM Hold Out
Mediastorm Workshops

UNDER

1st Uninsured in the Mississippi Delta
The Washington Times

2nd Silverton Saves Its Paper
AARP Bulletin Today

3rd Disabled in Vietnam
The San Jose Mercury News

OVER

1st Scene In
The Washington Post

2nd Real Florida Stories
St. Petersburg Times / tampabay.com

3rd My Kidney, His Life
The Washington Post

HM The Scar
www.sun-sentinel.com

+++++++

NEWS VIDEO:

INDE:

No Winners

UNDER

HM Vigil for teen crash victim
The Spokesman-Review

OVER

1st 1 corner, 3 places to buy Starbucks
Houston Chronicle

2nd Carrier of the Economy
Detroit Free Press

3rd Mexico at War: Addicts Latest Victims of Drug War
The Washington Post

HM In the Moment: Witnessing Barack Obama's Historic Inauguration
The Washington Post

+++++++

SPORTS VIDEO:

INDE:

No Winners

UNDER

1st A Boxing Revival at Coast Guard
The Day

2nd Coaching With Cancer
Las Vegas Sun

HM A Passion For Gymnastics
Las Vegas Sun

HM Ready To Rumble
TimesDaily

OVER

1st Seattle Semi Pro
The Seattle Times

2nd Demolition Derby: Crash for Clunkers
TIME.com

3rd Art of the Autograph
Detroit Free Press

+++++++

SLIDESHOW:

"Audio-enhanced photographic story-telling presented in a gallery or slideshow format. Animation can be used only to advance from one photograph to another. The emphasis here is on presenting great News, Sports and Feature photographs with the additional level of detail that audio can provide. There is no video allowed in this category."

FEATURE AUDIO SLIDESHOW:

INDE

1st 'A Life Pretty Full of Love' Act 1
www.kevinwellenius.com

2nd Stepping Up
LucidPix

3rd Mishoka's Story
duckrabbit

HM My name is Dechen
www.dhirajsingh.com

HM Inside New York Fashion Week
Pontus Hook Photography

UNDER

1st Living Off the Land
The News & Advance

2nd One Thing at a Time
Fairfax County Times

3rd Metamorphosis
The Salt Lake Tribune

HM From Chicks to Table
The News & Advance

OVER

1st Waiting to Die
Los Angeles Times

2nd A Boy's Struggles
Los Angeles Times

3rd Motel Manor: Suburban homelessness in St. Charles County
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

HM Gimme Shelter
Los Angeles Times

HM St. Louis WWII veterans remembered 60 years later with Honor Flight
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

HM Comforting a Death in Prison
The New York Times

+++++++


NEWS AUDIO SLIDESHOW:

INDE

2nd Beyond Bangladesh
duckrabbit

3rd Fighting a War of IED's in Afghanistan's Deadly Tangi Valley
David Goldman, freelance for the Associated Press

HM Mexico Swine Flu: The Christ of Health
www.chicosanchez.com

UNDER

2nd A Dream Realized
AARP

3rd Fleeing Somalia
GlobalPost

HM Afghanistan's Fog of War
GlobalPost.com

OVER

1st Frozen Land, Forgotten People
Los Angeles Times

2nd Tracking Smugglers
Los Angeles Times

3rd "America's Battalion in Afghanistan"
NPR

HM Sen. Kennedy's Life and Career, 1932 - 2009
The Washington Post

HM An Ambush and a Comrade Lost
The New York Times

HM Afghanistan's "Lucky Dustoff" Medevac
NPR

+++++++

SPORTS AUDIO SLIDESHOW :

INDE

2nd Oh Chute!
www.jasonmckibben.com

3rd One way out. Boxing in Mexico.
http://www.chicosanchez.com

HM Paintball Pursuit
Ohio University School of Visual Communication

UNDER

1st 2009 Yukon Quest
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

2nd The schools are tiny. The game is huge.
Austin American-Statesman

3rd Give Blood, Play Rugby.
The News & Advance

HM The Infamous 17th
Midland Daily News

OVER

1st Greyhound Park Closing
azcentral.com/The Arizona Republic

2nd The Pit
Los Angeles Times

HM The Ultimate Race
azcentral.com/The Arizona Republic

+++++++

NEWS OR FEATURE MULTIMEDIA

INDE

1st Powering a Nation
UNC Chapel Hill

2nd Soul of Athens
Ohio University School of Visual Communication

3rd Murray, Kentucky
Mountain Workshops

HM Facing Deportation
http://eileenmignoni.com/

HM Living Galapagos: Battle for Balance Between Man and Nature
University of North Carolina

UNDER

1st Times of Crisis
reuters.com/timesofcrisis

2nd Surviving the Tsunami
Thomson Reuters and the IFRC in partnership with MediaStorm

3rd Life, Death and the Taliban
Globalpost.com

HM 2009 Iditarod
Anchorage Daily News

HM Bottoming Out
The Las Vegas Sun

OVER

1st Ted Kennedy. (A seven-part multimedia series and book by the Boston Globe, published in February 2009, six months before the Senator's death.)
The Boston Globe

2nd One in 8 Million
The New York Times

3rd LA CIUDAD QUE NO DUERME
www.elpais.com.co

HM Motown at 50
Detroit Free Press

+++++++

In several cases, the judges did not make awards at all after finding entries to be below the minimum bar of excellence for which this contest stands. In other cases, they chose not to award a first place but included subsequent places for work that was the best in the category. It is our hope that in these situations, the entries that did place will be closely examined so as to establish a benchmark for the level of excellence in storytelling we seek.
Tomorrow on KobreChannel: The judges explain their choices, and reveal what qualities they look for.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Help Wanted: Freelance Editorial Assistant

KobreGuide is seeking an editorial assistant to help find, select and write about the best online videojournalism for KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism (KobreGuide.com) .

Ideal candidate must be passionate and knowledgeable about videojournalism -- visual aesthetics, journalism, and storytelling -- and understand what differentiates it from TV news and feature documentaries. Excellent reporting, writing and copy editing skills are essential.

For KobreGuide criteria, please look here:
http://kobreguide.com/content/about_us#checklist

NOTE: This is a part-time freelance position with flexible hours. You will work from your own home or office.

Qualified applicants should email links to their online resume and work samples to KenKobre (at) gmail (dot) com. (SUBJECT: KOBREGUIDE EDITORIAL ASSISTANT) . Please do NOT attach documents to your email until personally requested. No phone calls please.

KobreGuide is an equal opportunity employer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pictures of the Year: Multimedia & Documentary Award Winners

Congratulations to all Pictures of the Year International award winners in the Multimedia and Documentary categories. Many of these projects were originally showcased on KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism when they were first published. So if you want to get a jump on seeing next year's winners, tune in daily to KobreGuide.com!

BONUS: We interviewed Los Angeles Times photojournalist Liz O. Baylen, who won four POYi awards this year. Read our Q&A here.

NEWS STORY MULTIMEDIA

First Place, David Stephenson; Amy Wilson (Reporter), Freelance — "Cutting Through the Competition"

Second Place, David Gilkey, Laura Krantz, Jim Wildman and Carlos Boettcher, National Public Radio — "America's Battalion in Afghanistan"

Third Place, Andrew DeVigal, Tyler Hicks, C.J. Chivers, Nancy Donaldson, Jesse DeWitt, Patrick Witty, The New York Times — "An Ambush and a Comrade Lost"

Award of Excellence, David Gilkey, Laura Krantz and Chris Berry, National Public Radio — "Lucky Dustoff"

+++++++

ISSUE REPORTING STORY - MULTIMEDIA

First Place, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "A Boy's Struggles"

Second Place, Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch — "Motel Manor: Suburban homelessness in St. Charles County"

Third Place, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "His Body A Prison"

Award of Excellence, Laura Ruel, Chris Carmichael, Monica Ulmanu, UNC Chapel Hill — "Mining the Mountains"

+++++++

FEATURE STORY - MULTIMEDIA

First Place, Sonya Hebert, Ahna Hubnik, Brad Loper, David Guzman, The Dallas Morning News — "Choosing Thomas"

Second Place, Chang W. Lee, The New York Times — "Second Chance: The Artist"

Third Place, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "Waiting for Death"

Award of Excellence, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "The Insights of Angels"

Award of Excellence, Chang W. Lee, The New York Times — "Second Chance: Sex Change"

+++++++

DOCUMENTARY PROJECT OF THE YEAR

First Place
Reuters in association with MediaStorm
"TIMES OF CRISIS"

Second Place
Brian Storm, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Eric Maierson, Taylor Gentry, Ben Schmidt, Chris Vanderwall, John Richard, Tim Klimowicz, Jessica Stuart, Tim Hussin, Aaron Preusch, Lindsey Walters, Robin Svec MediaStorm
"DRIFTLESS: STORIES FROM IOWA"

Third Place
Evan Vucci, Maya Alleruzzo and Rick Bowmer, Bernadette Tuazon, Eric Gay, Matt Ford, Paula Froke, Greg Henderson, Michael Walden and Dan Balilty Associated Press
"KILLER BLUE: BAPTIZED BY FIRE"

Award of Excellence
Laura Ruel, Chris Carmichael, Nacho Corbella, Phil Daquila, Zach Ferriola-Bruckenstein, Jenn Hueting, Eileen Mignoni, Melissa Moser, Sara Peach, Monica Ulmanu, Courtney Woo, Anna York, Ashley Zammitt, Jean Folkerts, Laura Ruel, Don Wittekind, UNC Chapel Hill
"POWERING A NATION"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sneak Preview: Photoshop CS5's Hot New 'Content-Aware Fill'

Jaws are dropping over Adobe's hot new Content-Aware Fill feature in its upcoming Photoshop CS5 (due April 12). Some enthusiasts are finding it so incredibly magical that they're wondering if it's just an elaborate April Fool's hoax.

Essentially it's a retouching tool that clones and intelligently replicates textures as needed to instantly achieve the sort of image smoothing and cleanup that would manually take you forever to reproduce.

As Photoshop product manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes demonstrates in this video (below), Content-Aware Fill can eradicate everything from flare to litter to entire highways. It can extend erratic cloud patterns to the borders. To judge from early response from Photoshop fans, it might as well microwave your dinner and fold your laundry, too.

(NOTE: Watch this demo full-screen to truly appreciate the subtleties.)



One of the biggest requests we get of Photoshop is to make adding, removing, moving or repairing items faster and more seamless. From retouching to completely reimagining an image, here's an early glimpse of what could happen when you press the delete key.
Already there's fear among pro photogs and stock houses -- and glee among image purloiners -- that it's a one-stop solution for eradicating protective watermarks.

And of course visual journalism ethicists, who wrestle constantly with the extent to which technology should be used to alter the depiction of reality, will have a field day trying to figure out whether Content-Aware Fill is going too far, for any situation or circumstance.

The conundrum expands exponentially when you consider what will soon be possible with video retouching -- a godsend for advertisers, a dance-with-the-devil for journalists.

Boston Globe Launches Daily Video Newscast

Concurrently with its sister publication, the New York Times, launching its weekday online video news update (TimesCast), the Boston Globe this week launched its own version, called Globe Today.

They both "air" on their respective homepages during the lunch hour (ET), and both provide a sort of front-page headline service. But there the similarities end.

The TimesCast is close to seven minutes, and takes you inside the newspaper's newsroom and lets you watch and hear the editorial process unfold. You get an inside peek into how a handful of reporters and editors are tackling developing stories, with context and perspective.

The 1.5-minute Boston.com effort, however, is nothing more than a poor man's online newscast -- a solo anchor sitting at a desk in front of a cheesy illustrated cityscape, reading a Teleprompter, intercut with still images and a tiny smattering of video. In other words, it's made to look like scaled-down TV, rather than leveraging either the intimate or in-depth attributes of Web viewing.

Globe managing editor Caleb Solomon told Editor and Publisher: "This is absolutely a new way for us to deliver journalism," which may be true, but nothing to brag about. Then he goes on to say: "It's the next step in video journalism." Which, for all our sakes, we fervently hope is not true.

Boston.com built out a studio and bought equipment -- an investment that cost in the "low thousands," according to Solomon. "A lot of people are taking news in a lot of different ways, and the growth of video is astronomical right now. It's an easy way to take in the top headlines of the day," he added.
Translation: they took the cheap and easy route, not the innovative or forward-looking one. TimesCast represents an investment; Globe Today smacks of the least they could get away with. (And where exactly are those "low thousands" being spent? Technologically, it features nothing that isn't routinely accomplished on a $20 Webcam in a dorm room.)

Globe Today's most egregious sin is that neither the video nor the accompanying text include the date! As the videos are archived on the same Web page after their initial airing, viewers have no way of seeking or sorting out what happened when.

One function of the Boston.com video player that we do like is that it enables you to search any word in the video -- and then takes you to that point in the video where the word is spoken (accompanied by an adjacent transcript of that section).

Overall, though, we can't help but wonder if there's a significant audience that will be well served by having someone basically look into the camera and read them headlines of top stories that they can more quickly scan visually in print on the homepage? While the TimesCast is at least an attempt to add another layer of comprehension to the day's events, we're not sure we see the value of Globe Today.

Take a look (below) and tell us if you're likely to follow a mid-day video newscast -- and, if so, which style best serves your needs and tastes. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NY Times Launches Daily TimesCast Video

Have you noticed the New York Times' new TimesCast, which launched yesterday with very little fanfare?

It's a daily video, posted mid-day, that strives to offer a lunchtime roundup of the day's top headlines in under seven minutes -- delivered by the New York Times editors and reporters themselves.

The New York Times is so far ahead of the curve in online videojournalism that they produce more high-quality video stories in a day than most newspapers do in a month. And now this:

“It’s not just straight, breaking news, it’s talking about the way The New York Times is looking at the story – our analysis, our particular take on the story,” said Ann Derry, the paper’s editorial director for video and television. “We already produce a lot of video to go along with stories, but we felt the need to have a regular video news overview on the home page.”
The TimesCast shares the articulate intelligence and polished production values of those other videos in its classy stable.

It starts with the newspaper's 10:30 a.m. Page One meeting, with top editors in their neckties assembled around a large conference table, sequentially going over the day's roster of most important developing stories, patching in correspondents or bureau chiefs via speakerphone, as needed. It's intended to evoke a fly-on-the-wall feel, yet one can't help but wonder if the presence of cameras alters the proceedings. Do their editorial powwows really run so smoothly that they practically look scripted, or are these print journalists playing to the camera?

Then we cut to senior editor Jane Bornemeier interviewing executive editor Bill Keller, against a news room backdrop, about news highlights -- China censoring Google, Obama signing the health care bill, Clinton meeting Netanyahu. Then there are more newsroom interviews -- not reporters interviewing sources, but New York Times editors interviewing New York Times reporters and even other New York Times editors.

It's well shot and produced, and slickly edited with lower-thirds and appropriate B-roll. But there's a slightly awkward aura to it all.

First, the interviews take place standing up, and not sitting down, which would seem more natural and comfortable. Is this intended to give it a sense of urgency?

Second, one can't ignore the overriding question as to whether journalists talking amongst themselves is content that a news audience seeks or wants. Other major news organizations have experimented with similar behind-the-scenes transparency, inviting us to eavesdrop on editorial meetings, and to hear reporters offer on-camera "backgrounders" of important stories and issues. Rarely are these enticing.

What's remarkable is how the TimesCast, unlike most newspaper-generated video (including its own), clings more to the traditional TV news format of field correspondent conducting on-camera interviews. The big difference here, of course, is that it's the home field and the subjects are the home team. So it can veer dangerously close to seeming like an exercise in narcissism.

There is one critical difference between the TimesCast and similar forays into mid-day news videocasts at other media Websites. What we've previously seen has mostly been an attempt to capitalize on video in the most cynically inexpensive and least labor-intensive way possible -- they just stick a camera in the editorial meeting and let it run, and then stick a camera in their own reporters' faces and let them ramble, and then post the raw unedited mess in a well hidden corner of their Website. When no one watches, they complain that nobody cares about the process of gathering and reporting news.

Or we've seen newspaper video departments team with similarly beleagured local TV newscasts, and in an attempt to avoid a double drowning, produce well intentioned videocasts that are designed to serve double duty, on air and online. But ultimately they resemble scaled-down TV news, with 1:15 segments that contain snappy soundbites, not well developed themes and stories. Not necessarily a step backwards, but hardly a step forwards.

By contrast, the TimesCast seems more like a move in the right direction, targeted for a specific medium and audience. It's smart and articulate, professionally polished and well crafted. And genuinely illuminating.

But wait! Can this be? For the first time, the Times is enabling viewers to embed this video on their own blogs or websites. We've previously taken the Times to task for not making this feature available. Apparently they're making an exception for the TimesCast, or maybe it's a baby-step experiment that will eventually liberate the rest of their video arsenal for wider distribution, o frabjous day!

So ignore our meager descriptions and nitpicks, and partake of the seminal TimesCasts for yourself, below. We're eager to hear what you think about them. Are you likely to watch them daily? If so, in addition to, or in lieu of, reading homepage headlines? In terms of content or style, what would you like to see them do better or differently?



Monday, March 22, 2010

1,500th Member Joins Our Facebook Group

We're happy to report that, as of yesterday, we now have more than 1,500 members of our Facebook Group ("KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism").

Followers can not only stay abreast of new videos on the KobreGuide.com Website, but also participate in discussions on topics related to videojournalism.

If you haven't already joined, we've made it so easy that you don't even have to write down this insanely long URL -- just click on it, and then click on the JOIN button at the top of the Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=31036248378

Now 1,500 is a respectable number, but it's nowhere in the league of, say, Sarah Palin's (1.5-million) or Miley Cyrus's (2-million) Facebook followers -- to randomly cite enigmatically popular public figures.

And yet we can't help but feel that videojournalism should appeal to a big crowd -- not just the myriad practitioners out there, but also the growing and increasingly appreciative audience for it.

So join the party and invite your friends. (Click "Invite People to Join" under the red KobreGuide logo at the top left of the Facebook page.) Here's that link again; second time's the charm:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=31036248378

Oh, and are you following us on Twitter?

http://www.twitter.com/KobreGuide

Click! Follow!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NPPA BOP Judging Begins Today for Websites

Judging begins today for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Best of Photojournalism Awards for Website categories. "The goal of this contest is to recognize the best visual journalism being produced online."

Categories include:

* Audio Slideshows

Audio-enhanced collections of still photographs presented in a gallery or slideshow format, that tell a clear story. This category is for still photography combined with audio only. There is no video allowed in this category. Subcategories: News, Feature, Sports, Natural Disaster.
* 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. Subcategories: News or Feature, Natural Disaster.
* News Video

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. Maximum viewing time: 10 minutes.
* Feature Video

A feature or human interest story, or series of stories. Maximum viewing time: 20 minutes.
* Sports Video

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. Maximum viewing time: 20 minutes.
* Documentary Video

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. Documentaries must show imagination and creativity in story choice, execution and editing. Maximum viewing time: 30 minutes.
* Natural Disaster Video

A feature or human interest story, news story, or series of stories related to coverage of the natural disasters in 2009. Maximum viewing time: 20 minutes.
* Special Awards

Once the judging for the Audio Slideshow, Web Video, and Multimedia categories is complete, the winners will go head-to-head to determine the absolute best of web photojournalism. The winner will demonstrate a mastery of photographic and visual storytelling in an online environment. Content, interface design, navigation, and interactivity will all be evaluated to find the site or multimedia team that best furthers the evolution of online visual journalism. Categories: Best Audio Slideshow, Best Web Video, Best Use of Multimedia, Best Use of the Web.
We'll be posting some of the winners on KobreGuide -- where you can bet many have been showcased since their original publication!

This week KobreGuide will showcase some of the NPPA BOP winners in the News Video Photography division, which was judged earlier this month. Because more TV news outlets are migrating versions of their broadcast segments to the Web, contest officials acknowledge that there are increasingly overlaps in many of the News Video and Website categories -- which we predict will consolidate before long, like the industries themselves.

Meanwhile, take a look at last year's NPPA BOP winners in the Web categories.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Video Wins National Magazine Award


Clipped from: e360.yale.edu by clp.ly

For the first time, National Magazine Awards were presented for "Digital Media," including an unprecedented Best Video award, which went to Yale Environment 360 (an online magazine) for “Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining,” co-produced by MediaStorm.

The video was one of five finalists in the video category that included National Geographic and The New York Times Style Magazine. Directed by Chad Stevens, the 20-minute video depicts the enormous environmental and human costs of mountaintop removal mining. The practice, which involves blasting the tops off mountains to get at the coal seams below, has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of Appalachian forest, buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams in mining debris, contaminated water supplies, and driven some local residents from their homes.

Published at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale Environment 360 features reporting, commentary, and analysis on global environmental issues. It has been recognized for digital and editorial excellence, including winning a 2009 Online Journalism Award for Best Specialty Site Journalism.
Presented by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, the winners of the Digital Ellies (so called for the Alexander Calder stabile “Elephant” trophy, pictured) were led by New York and National Geographic, both with two awards.

New York won General Excellence, Digital Media, and Multimedia Feature and Package; National Geographic won Photography, Digital Media, and Community. The other award winners were Billboard.com, Foreign Policy, Men’s Health, Sports Illustrated, Virginia Quarterly Review and three online-only publications: Epicurious, Tablet Magazine and Yale Environment 360.

Stats: 118 magazine Websites and online-only magazines submitted 420 entries, of which 37 were nominated. Six online-only magazines were nominated: Epicurious, The Daily Beast, LIFE.com, Slate, Tablet Magazine and Yale Environment 360.

LINKS:

* "Leveling Appalachia" on Yale Environment 360.

* "Leveling Appalachia" on KobreGuide

* National Magazine Awards winners for Digital Media 2010 (press release)

* National Magazine Awards winners for Digital Media 2010 (complete list)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Excerpts: Journalism News You Can Use


Clipped from: http://clp.ly/OXA by clp.ly

A quick roundup of some items that caught our eye lately...

State of the News Media 2010: An Annual Report of American Journalism

This seventh edition of the annual report on the health and status of American journalism, courtesy of Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, will keep you busy all weekend. Trends, attitudes, behaviors, analyses. It's comprehensive, and massive. Think 180,000 words.

Our goals are to take stock of the revolution occurring in how Americans get information and provide a resource for citizens, journalists and researchers to make their own assessments. To do so we gather in one place as much data as possible about all the major sectors of journalism, identify trends across media, mark key findings, delve deep into each sector and note areas for further inquiry.

This year’s report is the most interactive it’s ever been, and contains a number of new features...
Read it here.

*****

Facebook Overtakes Google as Most Popular U.S. Website
(Daily Finance)

Facebook has overtaken Google to become the most popular website in the United States for the first time, according to new data from Hitwise, which measures Internet traffic. For the week ending March 13, the social networking juggernaut registered 7.07% market share, beating the search giant's 7.03% market share.

The market share of visits to Facebook.com increased 185% last week as compared to the same week in 2009, while visits to Google.com increased 9% during the same time frame. Facebook briefly topped Google last Christmas and New Year's, but this is the first time the website's weekly numbers have beaten Google.

The new data is sure to unnerve Google, which has been trying to crack into the social networking market -- with controversial results. For Facebook, the data will add further fuel to its push to go public sometime in the next year or two, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested. Analysts predict that when Facebook does go public, it could see an immediate valuation of $35 billion -- a figure which could rise to $100 billion by 2015.
Read more here.

*****

USC Annenberg Launches Multimedia Series

The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism has teamed up with the Center for Investigative Reporting to launch a multimedia series titled “Hunger in the Golden State.”

The series, to debut March 19, will run in newspapers, on radio stations and online news outlets statewide over the next three weeks.

Over the course of six months, USC Annenberg journalism graduate students interviewed dozens of state and local-level food bank officials as well as the Californians who struggle with food shortages every day. The reporting unearthed new numbers that show hunger is rising at an unprecedented rate nationwide, affecting millions - including those in affluent areas - but is invisible to many.

The stories explore food waste, nutrition in schools and ways to help Californians fighting to ward off hunger. The project reveals that nearly one in eight people in California has asked for food assistance in the last year. Food banks and social services are overwhelmed, reporters found.

The Los Angeles Times teamed a staff reporter with a student to produce a story explaining how California leaves millions of federal dollars on the table because of problems in the way the state runs its end of the food stamp program.
Read more here.

*****

The Newsonomics of Emerging News Video
(By Ken Doctor / Nieman Lab)

The New York Times. Video. Three years ago, that seemed like an oxymoron, save the Times’ occasional forays into TV experiments. Now, Times TV pops up in front of us on airplane TVs and news video has become an emerging feature of Times sites. As Apple and NYT staffers plot behind closed doors in the Times building, we can expect that Times video will be a key element of the iPad NYT launch.

Behind what we see, though, are some critical developments in processing of digital video, the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting that often determines time-to-market, and business failure or success.

For the Times, it’s not a matter of harvesting decades of archived film; it’s about making the most of its last three years of a video push. The Newsonomics are these:
  • Make more licensing income off the video. ...
  • Better usage of companies’ own produced video (and partnered video) on their own websites, apps, and tablets. ...
  • Put your content into new marketplaces. ....
Lastly, the outsourcing here is essential. News companies are in learning mode — what is it they do best?; what do they leave to others. In this case, the Times and others are applying my Newsonomics Law #9: Apply the 10 Percent Rule, the heavy lifting of journalism can be aided and abetted by smart use of technology.

Video is in the air — C-SPAN’s release of its volumimous archives reenforces that notion — but as usual, it’s the less-glamorous, behind-the-scenes work that will separate the winners from the companies stuck in text mode.
Read more here.

*****

Google and Partners Seek TV Foothold
(New York Times)

Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes.

The move is an effort by Google and Intel to extend their dominance of computing to television, an arena where they have little sway. For Sony, which has struggled to retain a pricing and technological advantage in the competitive TV hardware market, the partnership is an effort to get a leg up on competitors.

The partners envision technology that will make it as easy for TV users to navigate Web applications, like the Twitter social network and the Picasa photo site, as it is to change the channel.

Some existing televisions and set-top boxes offer access to Web content, but the choice of sites is limited. Google intends to open its TV platform, which is based on its Android operating system for smartphones, to software developers. The company hopes the move will spur the same outpouring of creativity that consumers have seen in applications for cellphones.

Google is expected to deliver a toolkit to outside programmers within the next couple of months, and products based on the software could appear as soon as this summer.
Read more here.

*****

... and this one's just for fun... to prove that, despite all those newfangled high-tech tools, sometimes the old ways are the best ways...

Journalist Scoops Press and Police with Simple Google Search
(Journalism.co.uk)

Danish police had been searching for Rumenian murder suspect Marian Clita for a good 24 hours when Norwegian journalist Andreas Lunde Googled him, found his phone number and got him on the line.

In a scoop that almost beggars belief, ABC Nyheter’s Andreas Lunde, tracked down the man wanted for the brutal murder of Norwegian Scandinavian Airline stewardess Vera Vildmyren in Copehnhagen, a man sought by both the police and the press, with a simple Google Search.

“I found a blog post he had commented on, using his name and phone number when doing so, put the Rumenian land code in front of the number and called,” Lunde told Danish TV2 News.

Clita picked up the phone, confirmed he was indeed Marian Clita, professed to be unaware the police was searching for him, but, when asked if he had any knowledge of the murder, said he would get a taxi to the police station in ten minutes – and kept his word.
Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Harvard's 'Nieman Reports' Devotes Spring Issue to Visual Journalism Trends


Clipped from: http://clp.ly/Mx4 by clp.ly


Harvard's Nieman Reports has devoted its Spring 2010 issue to Visual Journalism, and what a treasure chest it is.

We had to ignore our email inbox and take the phone off the hook* to find the requisite time to delve into it.

Editor Melissa Ludtke's industrious staff and gold-standard contributors have tidily bridged the transition from still photojournalism to audio-slideshows and videojournalism, with essays and galleries that address in detail how and why that migration is taking place.

And we're getting the perspectives of the top practitioners: from Ed Kashi and MediaStorm's Brian Storm to two AP photogs who have successfully made the leap (as well as AP photo director Santiago Lyon's take on how his staff is getting equipped and trained to produce video).

Here are some highlights:

# Brian Storm Q&A, by Melissa Ludtke: "The best thing for photojournalists to do is to slow down, become a little more engaged, and spend a little more time on their projects in a much more intimate way." (With references to MediaStorm's Marlboro Marine, Driftless and Intended Consequences, which have been showcased on KobreGuide.)

# Journey to a New Beginning, by Ed Kashi: "As the doors of established media slam shut, a photojournalist knocks on new ones to find the promise of more authenticity in his storytelling and greater control over his work."

# Carving New Pathways With Photojournalism Students, by Josh Meltzer, who won Picture of the Year International's 'Documentary Project of the Year' for "Age of Uncertainty." He teaches photojournalism and multimedia at Western Kentucky University: "I ask myself what I should be teaching my students. How can I prepare them so they can find good jobs? Figuring this out is my daily challenge."

# Photojournalist Melissa Lyttle and writer Lane DeGregory each share their behind-the-scenes perspective of collaborating on the St. Petersburg Times' award-winning "The Girl in the Window"

# The Camera: It’s Only the Starting Point to Change, by AP director of photography Santiago Lyon (a 2004 Nieman fellow): "So how does a global news organization such as The Associated Press get this technology working for us? How do we train our photojournalists to use it?"

Lyon reveals how the AP has so far trained about 50 photographers in new skill sets, including how to conduct in-depth interviews, shoot and edit video sequences (including cutaway shots), and capture and use audio.

When they shoot video and create multimedia stories for the AP, generally we use what they produce in three ways:

As B-roll for inclusion in our broadcast television products where it will be mixed with other video from a variety of sources.

As broadcast-style pieces for the Internet, usually one minute to one-and-a-half minutes in length with an off-camera narrative voice. Still images are often included as visual punctuation in these stories.

As long-form, protagonist-narrated stories, relying on natural sound when there is not a narrator’s voice. Destined for the Web, these video essays sometimes work for broadcast use as well and they incorporate a lot of still images.
That treatment has paid off well for AP's Julie Jacobson and Evan Vucci, who are each represented here with meaty accounts of how they developed award-winning multimedia stories:

# Crossing the Line: From Still to Video -- to Both at the Same Time, by Julie Jacobson: "The still image was sacred to me. But in 2005 I realized the industry was changing, and if I was to remain viable as a visual journalist, I had to become familiar with this apparently favored format of the future."

She shares the ins-and-outs of the impossible task of simultaneously shooting stills and video. Tempting though it may seem with a state-of-the-art hybrid camera, Jacobson sorts out the competing needs and requirements of capturing single instants, as contrasted with video sequences. Visual journalists who are shooting both, she advises, need to condition themselves so that they don't miss out on key moments or scenes.

# Gift of Training + Shift in Newsroom Thinking = Multimedia Storytelling, by Evan Vucci:

Killer Blue: Baptized by Fire,” a multimedia project I worked on at AP, blends video, audio and still photography in the service of telling in depth a poignant and powerful story. Those who come to this story hear the voices of soldiers from Blue Platoon who were among the last to serve a 15-month combat mission in Iraq when they returned home in 2009. Meshing photographs and video with these soldiers’ recollections and the raw expression of their feelings enabled us to dig deeply inside of this platoon’s life in Iraq and at home.
And there's plenty more, including online exclusives:

# Multimedia Presentations

# Slideshows

# Visual Journalism Resources

Now go explore for yourself.

*(Anachronism alert!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

clp.ly Can Clip & Re-Post Web Pages

What is clp.ly (pronounced "KLIP-lee") ?

clp.ly is a tool that makes it easy for users to clip and repost original content. It brings quotes and reposts to life and does it while maintaining the visual integrity and intent of the original publisher with correct attribution and links back. In addition, clp.ly provides analytics for publishers on how their content is being used, what context it’s placed in, and how it's being consumed. The clip maintains its intended form, enhancing the reader’s visual experience and understanding of the original content. Each clip carries attribution and a link back to the originating site.
clp.ly CEO John Pettitt asked members of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) for "feedback and thoughts on how to make the product as photographer friendly as possible."

It's a web clipping and quoting service, a one-click way to make a low resolution screen grab of the top part of a web page that's easy to repost in email or on a blog. It will automatically add a backlink for proper attribution and track where the clip is reposted and how many people view it. clp.ly also has a quoting feature that does something similar with quoted text.

The overall idea is that more and more people are 'curating' the news [and] not really adding much. This gives them a tool to make their posts more compelling while at the same time encouraging the reader to visit the original sources by only providing part of the page at a low resolution. Think of it from a user's standpoint as a tool for fair use.

From a publisher's standpoint it's a way of driving more web traffic. Put a 'clip-this' story button on a page, and people can repost it in a way that carries branding and context, with correct attribution, that drives traffic back to the source and provides analytics on what is being clipped and which parts of a story are being quoted.

One of my concerns in building it is that a thumbnail of a photo is still a photo, and while the law is on the side of fair use, I'm still a photographer and so sensitive to the issue.

Here is a clipped page from the NPPA site (http://clp.ly/Lw4+)that illustrates the issue and here is a demo blog with some posts (http://heythisisinteresting.blogspot.com/)
We tried it ourselves, and here's what KobreGuide.com looks like:


Clipped from: http://clp.ly/L2k by clp.ly

LINK:
http://clp.ly/showclip/61bc5820f765184dee89ac53a06457fd-1268708270

... and here's what our KobreChannel.com blog looks like:


Clipped from: http://clp.ly/L2s by clp.ly

LINK:
http://clp.ly/showclip/8ec820ff82a705022526f28269a212ee-1268708334

"So," asks clp.ly CEO John Pettitt, "what do you think? Is there anything we can do to make it more photographer friendly?"

Thoughts?

Q&A: Liz O. Baylen, Winner of 4 POYi Awards

Hats off to Los Angeles Times photojournalist Liz O. Baylen, a four-time winner in the 67th Pictures of the Year International Awards.

We've been featuring POYi winners for the past few days on KobreGuide, and the rest of this week will be devoted to Baylen's award-winning audio-slideshows and videos.

Plus, KobreGuide senior editor Beth Renneisen got an exclusive interview with Baylen (while she was on assignment in Haiti).

Here are the Baylen gems to watch for this week, starting today with "Waiting for Death," a poetic multimedia profile of a 90-year-old suicide prevention pioneer contemplating his own demise.

FEATURE STORY - MULTIMEDIA
* Third Place, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "Waiting for Death"
* Award of Excellence, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "The Insights of Angels"

ISSUE REPORTING STORY - MULTIMEDIA
* First Place, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "A Boy's Struggles"
* Third Place, Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times — "His Body A Prison"

Exclusive Q&A with Liz O. Baylen here.

Pictures of the Year International winners here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tracy Boyer: 'Transitioning from Photography to Multimedia'

Tracy Boyer, an accomplished multimedia journalist and masters student at UNC-Chapel Hill, recently gave a photo-workshop presentation on "Transitioning from Photography to Multimedia."

It underscored how audio elements invariably augment a story's power, providing sensory information that a still picture cannot.

If you weren't able to attend, this PowerPoint slideshow presentation is the next best thing. Ironically, it doesn't include audio -- but it does provide clickable links to the original multimedia stories she uses as examples.


Tracy Boyer's Blog:
http://www.innovativeinteractivity.com/

Tracy Boyer's Portfolio:
Portfolio: http://www.tracynboyer.com/

Tracy Boyer on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/iitweets

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Video: Why Local TV News is Bad for You

Here's a good short video summary of the scathing report we shared this week about the paucity of anything resembling "local" or "news" in local TV newscasts.

It's from Martin Kaplan, director of USC's Normal Lear Center, which conducted the unprecedented analysis of more than 11,000 stories aired by eight Los Angeles TV stations last summer.

There are many conclusions one can draw from this study, and plenty of blame to spread around for the failure of local TV stations to meet their obligation to keep the local citizenry informed in the markets where they hope to keep their FCC licenses.

On the bright side, we see big opportunities here for independent videojournalists to fill in those widening gaps, and to cover the city-government beats that TV newscasts have blithely abandoned ... so that they can instead free-associate about car chases from their gas-guzzling helicopters.



Also look here.