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Archive for the 'Multimedia' Category


Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Have you heard of ZIPskippy?

I have to give my friend Grace the hat tip for pointing out this site to me. This site is AWESOME.

I plugged in my zip code, 47904. I learned a lot about my neighborhood I never knew. Including how my neighborhood (one of the downtown zip codes) stacks up to others in the area. Just as an FYI, 47901 is the main downtown zip code and 47906 is West Lafayette, which is where Purdue and most of the Purdue students faculty live.

ZIP Skippy 47904 neighbors

This looks like a great tool to quickly assess how different areas of the community stack up. There’s a disclaimer that though this is census data, it’s just a sample. So I probably wouldn’t rely too heavily on it as a source. But it’s very useful for me to assess the different school communities/neighborhoods. Right now pretty much what I have to go on is anecdotal, what the DOE puts out and what I’m able to cull from other sources/data in a disaggregated way.

This information, presented in such a readable format, though? Seriously gold mine. Check it out.

As an aside, would this be a great project for a news organization to undertake? Or even just to link to. Lots of papers break things down by neighborhood. This could add another layer to that beyond the news and photos typical of those sections.

IndyStar: Life on the edge

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

The IndyStar has a great package about life in the city’s most crime-ridden apartments. Life on the edge is a three-part series, with today kicking it off. I can’t wait to read the next two.

IndyStar package: Life on the edge

This is an immensely important topic and the writing by Matthew Tully is exceptional. I love the way he repeatedly makes his point using short sentences that all end in “the Phoenix”, dropping these lines in for emphasis throughout.

Here’s the basic outline of the first part of the series just based solely on this effective writing tool.

  • Talking about the gun-fights that keep a woman and her nephew awake at night, the writer makes the point: This is life in the Phoenix.

  • Explaining how it came to be, section-8 housing is largely to blame according to the article: This is the story of the Phoenix Apartments.
  • Talking about the criminals harbored there and the daily cop calls: That’s life at the Phoenix.
  • Discussing the failed initiatives of a former mayor: The Phoenix is a mess.
  • Following from the failed programs he details the sorry state of the current complex, the roaches, bullet holes and crumbling sidewalks for a start: This is the Phoenix.
  • Showing the complex to the State Rep. who initially thinks the cut grass is a sign nothing is wrong but gets schooled pretty quickly: Another day in the Phoenix.

The second story also uses dates and lines taken from police reports to break up the story of how crime-ridden the area is and the police struggle to calm it. This tool makes the story not only more credible but more readable.

I should also note, as anyone who clicked through has already seen, this is a multimedia presentation. And the designers well anticipated my questions. I’m not from Indianapolis, and aside from the visits I’ve made down there since moving here and the stories I read in the Star, I don’t know much about the city itself. I’d never even heard of this place before. As soon as I started reading… I wanted to see where it was in relation to the city and what it looked like. The additional graphs of census data shows the dramatic shift in the make-up of the population since its hey-day. Finally, the video ride-along with police gives you a taste of the problems the officers are up against.

I’m looking forward to the next two installments.

Beer Pong and the WSJ

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Only the Wall Street Journal could take beer pong and make it this classy.

It’s been awhile since I’ve actually sat down with a print edition of WSJ (except the occasional items pointed out by the county reporter whose father bought him a print subscription for his birthday — hey my parents aren’t that thoughtful!). But I do get the CollegeJournal e-mails every day. Mostly it’s recent stories or Q&As from the WSJ. But it’s free and targeted pretty much to my demographic: soon-to-be grads and recent grads setting out in their jobs as new young professionals. I dig that.

My favorite part of the story — other than reading about young people capitalizing on the interests of other young people, (hey why not?) — is the accompanying graphic. I imagine a CEO sitting behind his desk, reading the paper and studying the inner workings of beer pong. That thought makes me smile.

They also have a video (though the audio on it is really wonky, at least it came across that way for me?). I had to watch the video because I wanted to see how you could create a video about beer pong that wasn’t like made for YouTube/Facebook. But, again, there they go making the drinking game classy.

Hello Franklin Hall, future of student media

Monday, August 27th, 2007

When I was home last week, Stater adviser Carl Schierhorn gave me a personal tour of Franklin Hall. (In hindsight, as in right now that I’m finally penning this post, I should have taken photos and video and given you all a bird’s eye view. I’ll chock it up to stupidity and the fact that I was officially “on vacation” and instead just send you over to the JMC Franklin Hall slide show about move-in progress and the archived stories about the building at the site.)

Tomorrow (er, it’s midnight, so Today), is the first day of classes in the new journalism building. The Stater is continuing production from it’s Taylor Hall hub for at least the next few weeks, while the converged newsroom is being finished. Meanwhile, TV2 has set up shop in the former Student Media business office next door to the Stater newsroom. Not a perfect situation, but a much closer relationship than was even a pipe dream a decade ago.

This is the beginning. No more StaterOnline. No more tv2.kent.edu. Welcome to the future of student media, Kent State students: Kent News Net. One product, always on, always improving.

Though the layout looks a bit rough right now and hiccups pop up throughout the site, the content of which is mostly the annual orientation issue, you get the idea.

There’s Black Squirrel Radio podcasting and TV2 newscasts right alongside the Stater’s stories. Even prominent linkage to the Burr (student magazine). Add to it helpful links to other key KSU sites — like Flashline (the all-important hub of Student resources online) — and Stater.you action on the sidebar, and it’s definitely a winner.

As I walked the dusty halls of Franklin with t-minus a week to classes in the building, I was more than a bit jealous. I want the big collaborative classrooms and shiny new computer labs. I want the converged newsroom, with its conference rooms and single assignment desk. I want windows in the journalism classrooms (there were NONE in Taylor Hall, the faculty and Stater hogged all the windows on the first floor of the building). Amazing things are going to come out of those rooms. And though I’m excited about the opportunities for future KSU grads, I’m a bit sad I wasn’t able to partake. (And no, as I told every single person who saw and subsequently asked me during my tour of Franklin Hall, grad school is not on my horizon for a very, very, very, very long time, if ever.)

Though the new building is amazing, there are some things that will be missed:

  • Taylor Hall is central to campus. Franklin’s out in BFE comparatively, at the very corner of campus. (But, it’s a heck of a lot closer to Starbucks and Chipotle, and even the bars for those after-a-long-night-of-production celebrations.)

  • The faculty are in what Carl called “pods,” and though they might like their bigger offices off the main drag, I think the relationship with their students will change as a result. How many great conversations did I have from the hallway door of my professor’s offices while I was on my way in or out of the Stater? How much great advice did I happen upon because I stopped in to ask a non-pressing question or simply say, “What’s new?” as I meandered past. Professor hallway is no more. Now, students will have to deliberately go out of their way, to another floor even, to talk to the professors. Likewise, it will be harder for the profs to track down students who won’t be hanging down the hall in the Stater office or in the JMC office reading room area (which is now in an entirely separate area). How many mentor relationships won’t be sparked? I don’t know. But this seems like probably the biggest loss to me. Then again, the professors will probably be more productive with fewer student interruptions, so who knows.
  • The Stater loses its window to campus. Not only is it in BFE, it doesn’t have a window overlooking the commons. I never realized how important that wall of windows was until I worked in an office without a single window to the outside. Now, granted, this isn’t the case for the new newsroom, but there will be some loss in identity to student media when thousands of kids on their tours of campus aren’t marched past the Stater newsroom on their way to the May 4 memorial. There’s something to be said of walking past the newsroom. Even for non-readers, you couldn’t help but notice the Stater existed because you saw it every time you went past.
  • There’ll also probably be fewer pick-up games of football, frisbee, four square or kickball — and when the weather was ripe, lunch tray sledding down Blanket Hill — than there were when I was there. This was an amazing de-stresser, not to mention a good way to get to know each other beyond the confines of class and work.
  • And finally, there will be no 100 Taylor Hall. I know it’s silly to be sad about that, but I am. The next time I’m on campus, the room where I spent more time during college than anywhere else combined won’t exist. At least not in the way I know and love it. It was hard for me to be there last week and think about that. All the amazing fun times and friends I made, all the great stories we produced, all the days I was proud and the conversations I wish never had to happen, but which made me stronger. All I’ll have the next time I walk past those windows is my memories.

I realize that list seems longer than the benefits. I assure you it’s not. I’m just a bit nostalgic, that’s all.

And on that note, I’m out.

Good luck to all the Stater staffers, who probably haven’t even sent tomorrow’s paper and as is tradition missed deadline by a long shot tonight, the first night of daily production. And Godspeed to the next generation of student media at Kent State.

How do you spell successful bee coverage?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

The national spelling bee runs through Thursday. I never thought I’d say it, but the spelling bee is pretty cool, especially for kids who make it that far. I don’t really watch TV, so I can’t catch it on ABC or ESPN.

Therefore, I’m digging the Gannett News Service treatment.

First, I liked that I could see our local winner, Sameer, spell his words. This is his third appearance at the national bee, and he’s holding his own and going for it. I know I should be objective, but how can you not root for the hometown kid? (Plus, Abbey’s handling following the spelling bee, not me.) UPDATE: Julie, the executive editor, agrees with me.

I also reaaally like the little blog posts filed on the side. They get cute angles about the kids, their methods and their thoughts on the words they get. It helps you realize that’s really what it’s about: the kids.

Also, we got updates about Sameer’s progress throughout the day from the Indy Star reporter (also Gannett) who’s there covering it. If the newsroom’s following of him was any indication of the public’s (and I guess I’ll see when we the page views e-mailed to us tomorrow), there is a lot of interest. I know I found myself going back to the site every so often to see where he stood.

One thing I could do without? All of the puns. It might be cute once, but seriously, nearly every story s-p-e-l-l-s out something or encourages spellers to “bee” confident, etc. (Note my attempt at a lame title for the post. It’s lame, let’s stop doing it now.)

Amazing package: Soul of Athens

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Check out the Soul of Athens project. (Via Multimedia Shooter.)

I don’t know what class or group or what prepared this package of videos/stories, but seriously, each of the stories is amazing. Together, they really do give you an indepth understanding of the soul of the city where Ohio University is based.

This package is amazing. Well done!

A few to definitely check out:

  • Jenny’s Story — if you only watch one, this is the one to watch. It’s a pretty raw and honest capture of that girl’s apprehensions and ambitions for life beyond her school and city. It’s also universal. I can hear this girl’s voice echo through millions of small towns.
  • Love in the First Person — I love the intimacy of this video, which is shot mostly from the fiance’s camera lens. It’s the basic idea that young love can conquer anything, and this is a testament that even through the tough times, this couple is ready to try.
  • Be Not Afraid — A woman in Iraq to help as a member of a Christian organization is abducted. Listening to her recount the tale is incredible. The way the video is shot and edited also works so well with this story, the stops and starts and unpected turns it brings.

ABJ’s car jumping video

Monday, May 7th, 2007

I hate to pick on the Beacon Journal. I really do. But it happens to be one of the news sites I frequent, so I see it at its best and worst, and a lot of in between.

Tonight, I happened to click on the story 22-year-old hopes talents will take him to new heights. Even before I clicked it, I was hoping there’d be video. (There was no indication on the story list. Come on, guys, you should advertise this to entice me to click!)

I spent the first minute or so — I actually have no idea how long it was because there’s no timer on the video, but it was more than halfway — wondering, OK, when do I get to see him jump the car?

I am not a videographer. I’ve never actually produced a video for a news Web site. (This is going to change soon, as when school lets out later this month I’m going to have more time for that and they’re going to train me, even though I have a solid grasp now from my classes/fiddling around. And I’m pretty happy about that. But, another day.)

But as a video consumer, I can tell you this video fails in pretty much every critical area except for the fact that they did have the foresight to capture video to help tell the story. And yes, they get brownie points for that.

Other than that I found myself wondering what the person shooting and editing the video was thinking. Or if they were.

First of all, zooming in and out of the man crouching by his car — not cool. Focus please. Take a few of those wide shots and alternate them with a few close ups and a medium one or two. Also, what is up with the lack of tripod? I can tell it’s a windy day (because I can hear the wind on the guy’s lapel mic as he’s talking and, btw, that’s pretty distracting, too). I can also tell when the videographer gets tired of crouching because you can watch him stand up mid-quote. It’s even shakier from there.

Second, the sound is mediocre at best, barely audible at worst. As I mentioned, you can hear the static from the wind, etc. And the reporter off to the side asking the questions is distracting. Edit these out please, they’re unnecessary.

Third, why is he crouching by his car for the entire first half of the video? If I hadn’t been watching to see if it got any better, I would have closed the browser about 10 seconds in. Also, what’s up with the jumpcuts/quick transitions? It’s jarring.

It seems like the video has all of the, to be honest, boring interview up front. Then at the end it’s like a fireworks display where they have a grand finale and just set off everything they have left. You suddenly see some cool angles and creative shots. You finally see him talking not on bended knee. You get to actually see him jump his car about a dozen times, which would have been way cooler if the videographer had used all these ample opportunities to catch him from different angles instead of sticking to his spot on the sidewalk. (It’s not like there was a unwieldy tripod holding him back).

I wish I could pull this out of flash and try to edit it in a way that I think would have been more appropriate. That shot of him running toward the car as seen from below the car? That could have been an interesting opening shot. At least you had some action. And when he talks about everything else he can jump, why not get him showing off some of those skills? Or a shot of him making a slam dunk on the basketball court? And why don’t we have a shot of him bracing himself for the run? Or a shot of the faces of the onlookers as they watch him perform his trick? Even if they had only spliced some of those “fireworks” from the end into the middle, it would have eased the transitions and held the viewer’s interest better.

If it wasn’t 1:30 a.m. and I didn’t have my alarm set for 7:30 a.m. I’d go through and try to find a positive example of video on the site. But again, their video list is daunting and I don’t have the paitence to sift through and watch it all. I should probably get to bed so I’m not running on empty tomorrow.

But I will say this, it’s pretty cool that the guy can jump over cars. And I am glad I got to see it not just read about it. So I guess a poorly executed video is better than none at all.