Wednesday, March 17, 2010

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

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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!)

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