The messy beginnings of an online portfolio

It’s not organized as well as I’d like, and it’s neither finished nor comprehensive, but if you can’t help but be interested in the sort of stories I wrote as a reporter (way back in 2006, mind you), there are now a few clips from the Spartan Daily and Oakland Tribune posted on my Work page.

There’s a video mixed into one story there that I overshot and Shaminder painstakingly edited down to something useful.  It was shot with my Panasonic consumer-grade handycam, and I think the reasoning behind the small size had everything to do with the way College Publisher processed Quicktime videos back then.  Pretty sure they have  a Flash solution now.

All of the stuff I’ve posted there is pretty old at this point. I’ll try and add some links soon to projects I’ve produced on at the Sentinel, videos I’ve shot, etc.

Enjoy, critique, deride, lambaste, and most of all, build your own online portfolio showcasing your work in your choice of medium.

Building a multimedia package from the ground up in Oakland

Sean Connelley and Katy Newton, two of the journalists behind the Oakland Tribune’s Not Just A Number package I wrote about yesterday, were kind enough to take a few minutes of their time today to answer a few questions by e-mail.

I wanted to know what it was like to build something on this scale, over months, with the goal of telling the stories behind Oakland’s homicide statistics. Katy (KN) answered most of the questions, with Sean (SC) chiming in on one point.

II: How long did all this take to develop?

KN: We started kicking the idea around in July. Sean would come home and say the homicides are at 54, 67, 83 etc… We found ourselves counting down the homicides and forgetting that we were talking about human lives. That’s really how the project began.

We wanted to discover who was dying. To humanize the problem. It took a lot of effort to contact the families. Just gaining the trust of the community took three months. People felt a bit betrayed by the media.

Often when homicides are reported, the main source for describing who the victim is comes from police records. This was most upsetting for the families, as well as the issue of police mug shots being used in the old homicide maps.

When the families heard that the Tribune was making the effort to change their policy on the police mug shots, doors opened up.

We really have to thank Marilyn Washington Harris from the Khadafy Foundation for her help.

Kathleen [Kirkwood, Associate Editor for Online News in Oakland] put us in touch with her. She lost her son Khadafy in 2004. Now she spends her time helping the families through the grieving process. She does it all on her own. She is amazing.

Anyway, we called her in September and she agreed to meet us at a local funeral home — her unofficial office. We asked her if we did this project what did she think it should include. That’s when she broke it down for us — about the police mugs, and the one-sided reporting.

She didn’t help us right away.

She told us later she would give us a couple families then ask the families how we were. She also waited to see how committed we were. It was good that she didn’t help us right away because it forced us to go out into the community more. We met with a lot of people always asking what would they like to see be included in the project or how could we report on violence better.

Continue reading “Building a multimedia package from the ground up in Oakland”