Another wonderful West Coast event I’m regretfully unable to attend – but you should

I promise, at some point next Fall, I will emerge from the land of the bisy backsons and start showing up for some of the really cool conferences and summits and conventions that the cool kids put together.

But for now, I’ll continue learning (and schmoozing) vicariously through those of you lucky enough to make it to things like this:

NPPA Photojournalism Summit – Portland, Oregon – May 30 through June 2

Because I have my prejudices, that link drives you straight to the multimedia speakers schedule, which is fricking amazing:

Rich Beckman, professor of multimedia design and production at the University of North Carolina

Andrew deVigal, multimedia editor for The New York Times

Seth Gitner, multimedia editor for The Roanoke Times and

Dirck Halstead, editor and publisher of

Richard Koci Hernandez, deputy director of multimedia and photography for The San Jose Mercury News

Tom Kennedy, managing editor for multimedia at and Newsweek Interactive

David Leeson, executive producer for video and new media at The Dallas Morning News

Judith Levitt, Photo Producer for The New York Times

Regina McCombs, The Star Tribune

Jim Seida, multimedia producer for MSNBC

Brian Storm, president of MediaStorm

Joe Weiss, Creator and Developer of Soundslides

Are you kidding me? ALL of those people are going to be there? That’s just sick. Oh, and it’s not Web 2.0 conference expensive, either. Price range is $90 for student members to $300 for professional non-members for two days of multimedia goodness.

Actually, it’s better than goodness — it’s badness. So go to Portland, and give your multimedia some swagger.

Kicking it East Coast style

No, not me. I’m still firmly planted a short walk from Monterey Bay, but a group of SJSU students spent Spring Break in the land known casually as Back East in these parts.

DC and New York, to be more precise.

Photojournalism student Daniel Sato has started to tell the tale. The students visited the New York Times,, CNN, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic among other OMFG-would-I-love-to-take -that-tour spots.

Sato credits Prof. Michael Cheers as one of the brains behind the trip, and as it turns out, Prof. Cheers gets to spend the summer as a faculty fellow at National Geographic.

Of course, if I went on a trip like this, hypothetically speaking, I’d probably be spending my evenings at bars with friends, dinners with family, and Wrong shows.

Note to New York friends: Next time I make that trip, I’ll have an interesting little accessory around.

Newspaper Video: Who shoots it and how do they do it

The corner of the media blogosphere I hang out in has been buzzing with some great tips, clues, hints, debate, and analysis of newspaper video lately, and I’ve been too damn busy to chime in much, but here’s a few key pivot points for the uninitiated:


  • Photographers toting around HD cams to shoot video, record audio, and grab still frames from for print and Web use? It’s happening, right now, at the Mercury News, and Merc Web Editor Mike Bazeley argues that your photographers should be leading the way to good-looking visuals across platforms at your newspaper. Makes sense to me, but budgets, time, and training are all obstacles to adoption. I’m guessing this is easier at papers with more money, gear, staff, and a younger group of shooters.
  • Reporters with sub-$400 point & shoot digital still cameras that shoot decent video in their jacket pockets? Again, already happening, in places like Bakersfield. Howard Owens likes it, and I tend to agree with him on this. Think of video journalism as an element in the overall story: It doesn’t need to be a three-minute standalone feature to serve your audience’s desire to know more. Twenty seconds of reporter-shot video at the scene of a car wreck, of the game-winning homer in a high school softball game, or in the kitchen of a restaurant getting reviewed can have just as potent an effect as the feature-length version. Andy Dickinson provides a counter-argument of sorts: “If they want YouTube, I’m sorry to say, they will go to YouTube. We need to give them something else.”


  • If you’re going the reporters-with-point-and-shoots route, Bakersfield Web Editor Davin McHenry is ready with tips on the “Soft Sell,” or how to ease reporters into shooting video without making them feel like they’re leftist revolutionaries/interlopers/clumsy. Here’s one:

    “When we started, we basically put cameras in reporters hands and sent them out. When they came back with footage we gave them feedback and made every effort to put what they had shot online. Nothing kills enthusiasm more than spending time on footage and then seeing it go in the trash. If you can, put up video that isn’t perfect to send the message that this is something worth their time.”

  • If you’ve been tasked with shooting video for the first time, whether you’re a reporter, shooter, or Web department newcomer to news, Chuck Fadely has an awesome list of practical and physical guidelines — this is required reading for anyone trying to record news video.
  • Don’t know a MCU from an SWF? Mindy McAdams reviews the video vocab that I take for granted, having learned it first in Ms. Spicer’s TV Studio class in ninth grade, and then over and over again in film school.
  • For those of us with the job of actually getting the darn stuff up on the Web after it’s in the can, Mercury News multimedia guru Richard Hernandez runs down his favorite apps for handling, encoding, and posting video, audio slideshows, and other multimedia projects.

So where do you start?

What’s the first step in getting anyone at all to shoot video at your newspaper?

Here’s the plan we’re putting into action where I work:

  1. Start with talking head in the newsroom video updates. Yeah, it feels like broadcast, but it will get your readers accustomed to seeing video on your site, and it will get your newsroom accustomed to having a camera around.
  2. Add still photos to the video updates. Break up the talking head with actual pictures of the events he or she is talking about. Works wonders.
  3. Get photographers and reporters to start shooting short video clips on morning assignments and cut those into the video update. Now you have a reporter talking over stills and video from the day’s news.
  4. After you’ve been doing this for some time, photographers and reporters should be getting more familiar with the medium. Start putting together a 2-3 minute feature video once or twice a week, and cut a bit of that into your video update on the day it runs. Now you’ve got feature video, plus a promotional tool for it in the video update.

We’re somewhere at the beginning of Step 2 right now. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s going on in your newsroom? Who shoots feature video? Are your reporters afraid of getting *behind* the camera, or are the taking to video like a camcorder-toting father of a 1-year-old?

Joe Weiss talks to Poynter about Soundslides

Joe Weiss, the photojournalist/programmer behind Soundslides, tells Poynter all about it:

“I think that if you just started to do them, the audio slideshow is gonna take about four or five times what it would have taken just to do the assignment visually. … I think what we’re seeing in the industry right now, is that the people who learn these skills, add these skills to their bag, they’ll get on an assignment where they have more time, or they’ll really listen to the assignment and say, wow, there’s great audio here, this could be a great narrative. Then they jump on those.”

via Andy Dickinson, who has been posting tons of great stuff about working with video at newspapers lately.