Tuesday, May 25, 2010

From Still Photog to Videojournalist

Good profile of a veteran print photojournalist who expanded his skill set to incorporate online video:

Former Newspaper Photographer Becomes Mobile, Social Journalist

By Damon Kiesow (Poynter.org)

"Hi, I'm Jim. I'm from the Internet."

That was the moment Jim MacMillan (pictured), a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, veteran of 17 years at the Philadelphia Daily News and former embedded journalist of the war in Iraq, realized the game had changed.

He uttered those words two years ago to a fire chief at a scene in Philadelphia while shooting video and still photos for the Daily News website. Pursuing a Web-first strategy was relatively new for the paper. And that was the confusion, said MacMillan.

"If I barked 'Daily News,' it said something about the cultural and social authority [of my presence] and where they could find the pictures the next day," he said. But explaining that he was shooting video for the Web and pulling video stills for print, and that the video could be found online via a series of clicks on the site, lacked the same efficiency and charm. "Trying to boil down the shorthand in the middle of a crisis is really difficult," he said.

MacMillan, who is finishing up a year teaching at the University of Missouri J-school, said that moment was emblematic of his transition from a street photographer covering crime in Philadelphia to a "social media" journalist who at last count had more Twitter followers than Katie Couric.

The epiphany took place in April 2008, some months after MacMillan had returned to the Daily News from a fellowship, after which he taught himself video and Web skills. As the paper's first video journalist, he was working that day with a Sony HD video camera, using still images from the video for the newspaper.

MacMillan shared the despair of many newspaper videographers at the time: The craft was still new enough that few media websites displayed video prominently, which meant a lot of innovative work went unseen. "You couldn't find my content," he said. There were "no distributable media players and no RSS feeds" on the Daily News site to help the videos get shared and discussed around the Web.

As much as he was concerned with distribution, the technology of remote electronic newsgathering was also a challenge. MacMillan was working at the time to fit a TV live truck into a backpack so he could stream video directly to the Web from anywhere in town. In 2007 that required a laptop, digital video camera, wireless modem and a fair amount of luck. Now, of course, the live truck fits in his pocket in the form of an iPhone.
Read the whole story here.

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