Archives for category: Photojournalism

Time lapse photography and bad weather combine to make an Internet sensation. This video of the Boxing Day snowstorm that buried the Northeast has racked up 2.5 million views so far (it jumped by 200,000 views between yesterday and today).

While you can soundly argue quick-hit views aren’t the kind of traffic you want on your website, you can’t deny the share-worthiness and fascination factor of a well-documented time-based event.

Want to make your own video? Here are a few tutorials:

Photographer Chase Jarvis is credited with saying, “the best camera is the one you have with you.” Since you’re more likely to have your smartphone at hand than a DSLR, check out the 99 cent iTimeLapse and $1.99 TimeLapse iPhone apps, or the Vignette and Time-Lapse apps for Android phones. If you have other recommendations, share them in comments.

And finally, don’t let bad weather ruin your time lapse photos. Instructables has a tutorial on how to build an waterproof enclosure for your smartphone. Think of it as a little weekend project as we head into the New Year’s holiday.

Let’s say you have a really good story idea, one that would be best told through sound and visuals. How do you get it published?

Laptops in a coffee house by Mike Goldberg on Flickr

This is one of the most common questions I hear from freelancers, and one of the reasons why sites like Mediabistro and Freelance Success — both of which I used to write for — do so well.

So here’s a freebie.

During Beyond Bootcamp a few weeks ago, Meredith Birkett, MSNBC.com senior multimedia editor for special projects, shared tips for how to pitch her. Every editor will have their own preferences; use Birkett’s advice as a guide.

MSNBC.com produces about six major projects and about eight dozen smaller, assigned projects yearly. They have plenty of producers in-house, but not a lot of roving journalists. That’s where you come in.

The Pitch

  • Do preliminary reporting on your subject, then pitch the concept for the piece by email. Don’t pitch a vague idea. Go in with something concrete. The MSNBC email convention is firstname.lastname AT msnbc.com.
  • Describe the hook or the peg. Is it a national trend that your local story illuminates for everyone? Is it a quirky or wild story that someone somewhere else would care about? Is there a news peg? Is it an evergreen? Is it the kind of project that can be referred to several times within a given time frame?
  • Show the story you’ve found with photographs, audio or video. Summarize where you think the story will go and what you’ll do to round out the project.
  • Estimate how long it will take you to gather the raw assets. As a newcomer, you’re more likely to sell your story if it’s a small-scale project that takes no more than five days to get what you need. Veterans with a track record in producing multimedia stories may be able to sell projects that will take longer to gather.
  • Think about the technical restrictions imposed by where you’ll be going. How will weather affect your ability to get the story? Will there be electricity? Internet connection? Cell phone service? Mail service?
  • Send links to your work samples, or the URL of your portfolio site and be sure to describe what you were responsible for in each piece.

The Format
A multimedia story doesn’t limit you to a Soundslides presentation or Final Cut video. You could suggest a photo gallery with written captions and no audio, a flipbook, a timelapse video, or a report with an HD View photo.

If your project will span several days, you can propose a blog with photos. Be sure to describe how many posts and how many photos you plan to put up each day.

If your project shows the passage of time or dramatic change in a short period of time, a diptych or triptych could be appropriate. Freelance photographer John Wilkerson was able to sell his before and after photos of a city wiped away by Hurricane Katrina. They were used as part of a larger MSNBC.com feature on rebuilding after the storm.

If you plan to use music, it’s best to use royalty-free clips. Music you hear on the radio comes with all sorts of perils, not the least of which are rights clearances, which are time-consuming and expensive. Don’t have a favorite royalty-free music site? You could try:

The Wrap
Once you’re finished gathering content, be ready to turn over all the unedited audio, photos and video the producer you’ll be working with so that person can edit the piece. The shop will need access to your raw assets even if you’ve already packaged your project.

Get to know the producer or editor who will be shepherding your project. A good working relationship is key to the success of your story. Ask (nicely) if you can review your piece before it goes live to check that all facts are correct.

The Money and The Rights
Regardless of what outlet you pitch to, Birkett says you should insist you get paid extra to do multimedia work.

The MSNBC.com multimedia day rate varies, but Birkett says an average range is about $700-$900 a day, which includes travel expenses.

In exchange, MSNBC.com buys exclusive North American website rights for a limited time. This means you could sell a reworked version of your piece to a website outside North America to run at the same time. Or you could sell the piece to an organization that would not run it on their website. And you could resell your piece within North America after the license has expired. In other words, you could turn your pitch into the holy grail of freelancing: one gathering effort, a multitude of salable stories.

Photo: mikegoldberg/Flickr

Do you remember what it was like to be in school? About 40 journalists are reliving the college experience at the University of Miami Beyond Bootcamp multimedia workshop, directed by visual journalism guru Rich Beckman.

Over the last few months, I’ve met a number of his former students who tell stories of being cajoled and terrified of their former professor, and for good reason: The workshops are no joke: Twelve-hour days. Hands-on exercises. And in some cases, field work.

It may not be a picnic, but it is fun. For the time we’re here, we’re getting uninterrupted in-person access to an international group of highly accomplished photographers, reporters, editor-producers and thinkers. And that’s just the students.

Even if you can’t be in Miami, you can still get a taste of what it’s like to be at Bootcamp. For the next few days, you can check the ongoing tweet stream (hashtag #bootcamp).

And from noon to 2 p.m. ET Jan. 8-10, you’ll be able to watch a live stream of the lunchtime presentations below (livestream management courtesy of University of Miami journalism student Greg Linch).

  • Thursday: Paige West, Director of Interactive Projects, MSNBC.com
  • Update Friday: Panel discussion on multimedia practices and ethics.
  • Saturday: Rob Covey, SVP Content/Design, National Geographic Digital Media

As news organizations, watchdogs and voters prepare for the Super Bowl of politics, it seemed like a good idea to survey what will be online for Nov. 4.

Some sites will start their coverage early. Already, the massive, all-volunteer Twitter Vote Report has been logging and mapping voting problems and good experiences.

Most complaints so far have been about long wait times and registration confusion. To participate, send a tweet with the #votereport hashtag.

New to Twitter? Not on Twitter? There are other ways to send a report. Developer Nathan Freitas has come up with some additional ways to look through the data.

At 6 a.m. ET on Election Day, the Washington Post will begin tracking voter experiences and related national news on their Vote Monitor page. To participate and to send news tips, post a Twitter message to PostVoteMonitor.

In addition, WaPo has interactive maps, live discussions, blogging and articles peppered around its site and on their politics page. Be sure to have a look at the very cool TimeSpace map and timeline mashup.

The New York Times just announced a slew of goodies for election coverage. A very handy tool for those who want to jockey returns is the pop-up dashboard, which will include live election returns beginning at 6 p.m. ET, as well as electoral vote tallies from network news, CNN and the Associated Press.

The Grey Lady is also trying to create the largest online archive of polling place photographs taken by voters. Add your photo to the mix under a Creative Commons license on the Polling Places page.

Addicted to Flickr? Editors at Yahoo News will be culling election-related photos from the site and posting them on yahoo.com and news.yahoo.com. Put the word “election” somewhere in the title, comment or tag to be part of the search.

If you’re going to be out and about, bookmark the Online NewsHour’s mobile site. In addition to updates on the election, there’s a handy list of poll closing times and electoral votes.

NPR political analyst Ken Rudin has predicted Obama will win the race, but as we know, it ain’t over till it’s over. Want to map your own hypothetical outcome? Check out the You Predict map. The NewsHour will begin its TV broadcast at 9 p.m. ET, but you can follow developing coverage online now.

The Star-News may create the longest CoverItLive transcript ever with its Election Day live blog, which begins at 6:30 a.m. ET. The Wilmington, N.C., news organization reports record early voting returns in several counties. Thousands more are expected at the polls tomorrow.

STLToday.com, the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, will have their reporters and photographers out in force, documenting any polling problems that may occur. In addition, they’ll be streaming Qik video from separate Democratic and Republican election parties, blogging and posting staff and reader photos. The content will go live Tuesday afternoon. Keep tabs on the coverage at www.stltoday.com/news/politics.

On the West Coast, the popular L.A. Times blogs Top of the Ticket and L.A. Now will be posting updates throughout the day. Around 4 p.m. PT, the homepage will flip from the usual center art surrounded by story links to an electoral map that will track returns for the presidential race as well as 12 hotly contested propositions. Sometime after, the site will launch a separate section on California.

MSNBC will be revamping its homepage for elections coverage. Before then, you can embed a customizable live results widget like the one below on your site.

Photo by Hilary McHone/Flickr

Garrett Hubbard takes questions during a live Q&A online.
(Photograph by H. Darr Beiser/USA Today © 2008, used with permission)

Click below to read some of Garrett’s answers.

  

Garrett Hubbard, video journalist for USA Today, has graciously agreed to a live chat about video journalism beginning 3:45 p.m. ET this Thursday on Ricochet. Click here to join in.

Staffers, freelancers and blogger alike can ask Garrett about how to creating arresting videos that tell engaging news stories.

Check out his work at his blog, Stories of Light and Color, and bring your questions. This will be a great opportunity to improve your technique and learn from someone in the field.

Here’s one example: “DNC Protest Turns Violent.” Garrett called it, “Definitely a day of adrenaline!

Interactive Narratives logoDrew DeVigal’s Interactive Narratives has relaunched.

The site is a searchable database “designed to capture the best of online visual storytelling around the country and the world.”

Register, and you can submit your own work, as well as vote on and critique others’ multimedia projects.

“Our goal is to highlight rich-media content, engaging storytelling, and eye-popping design in an environment that fosters interaction, discussion, and learning,” writes DeVigal, who is multimedia editor at The New York Times.

As storytelling online evolves from the straight-ahead text+photos/photo gallery+video format, this new site should be an interesting resource to see what other people are doing. Best of all, you don’t have to be a journalist to participate.

(Photo by TheMacDiva/Flickr)

The Yahoo takeover fund.

Will Sullivan of Journerdism pointed to an incredible film on the Toronto Star website.

Shot by staff photojournalist Lucas Oleniuk and composed entirely of still images, the film — that’s right, film — “Airsick” calls on Star readers to join with other cities worldwide in shutting off all lights for an hour March 29, an action that’s meant to bring attention to human impact on climate change.

The Earth Hour idea was first proposed last year by the Sydney Morning Herald. According to the SMH website, more than 2 million residents shut off their lights and caused a 10.2% drop in energy usage across the city.

The Star hopes to replicate the results. Pretty powerful stuff, I must say. If there is anything that could be improved about the execution, it would be allowing people to embed the film on their own sites.