Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time & NY Times Win Emmy Awards

[UPDATE: James Estrin interviews three of the Times' Emmy-winning producers of "One in 8 Million" on their Lens blog. Surprise: "In most cases we had the audio before (the photographer) even shot one frame."]

Emmys are traditionally bestowed upon meritorious television programs, but in the last few years, online videos have horned their way into the news and documentary category.

Such was the case this week at the 31st Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony, when videojournalism by and was recognized alongside programs broadcast by the major TV networks.

The New York Times' Emmy was awarded in the category of "New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming: Documentaries" for "One in 8 Million," its 2009 series of 54 video profiles of "ordinary people telling extraordinary stories -- of passions and problems, relationships and routines, vocations and obsessions."

Time's Emmy was awarded in the category of "New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming: Arts, Lifestyle & Culture," for its Iconic Photo Series. Specifically, the video backstories behind three images were cited: Robert Capa’s most famous photo of D-Day, Anthony Suau’s picture of a young man sledgehammering the Berlin Wall, and the widely recognized candid portrait of FDR at ease in Hyde Park on July 4, 1937.

As Time producer Craig Duff relates on his blog:

It’s an idea I came up with as a way to feature the incredible history of photography at TIME, as well as its sister publication Life Magazine. I love photography and photographers and how they can tell a powerful story in a single frame. There are so many amazing pictures that speak to us collectively as a culture, and the stories behind them are rich. ...

I also wanted to create an editing challenge for myself: how could I bring these still images to life in a new way, on the modern platform of the web? I do it with interviews with people who know the images and their back stories well. Then I layer it with sound, using our ears — what a radio professor in college called ”the theater of the mind” — to bring the moment to life again. To draw attention to details, rather than using fancy effects, I simply isolate a part of the photograph, then dissolve in the rest.

The winning entries:

Berlin Wall



The Iconic Photo Series has continued into 2010, with similar pieces on Haiti and Iwo Jima. The whole series can be viewed here.

Complete list of Emmy News & Documentary winners here.

Check out the New York Times channel and the Time channel on for more stellar videojournalism.

P.S. The Emmy program booklet includes an illuminating
Q&A with documentarian Frederick Wiseman, who was awarded a lifetime achievement award. Wiseman, who has produced more than three dozen documentaries in the past half century, is fabled for his lack of narration or on-camera interviews with subjects, prefering instead to immerse his viewers in a scene as it naturally unfolds. Download the program here (pdf).

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