C-SPAN: Former Chief of Staff Andrew Card

22 04 2011

Former Deputy Chief of Staff under president George H. W. Bush and Chief of Staff under president George W. Bush, Andrew Card’s job was to inform the president of information that he needed to know, not information that he wanted to know.

And when he needed to interrupt president Bush during his visit to Booker Elementary School, he knew the news was not any that Bush wanted to hear.

America is under attack” were the words that Card was so famously photographed whispering to Bush after the second New York City twin tower was hit by a plane hijacked by terrorists.

After initially believing that the first crash was a “horrible accident,” Card instantly knew who was behind these attacks.

Osama bin Laden.

Despite the shock of these tragedies, Card and Bush could not let their emotions get in the way of keeping the country stable. They needed to stay disciplined – in a cool, calm and collected manner.

Clearly realizing that the president was highly impacted by the situation, Card knew that Bush was focused on the unique and lonely responsibility of being the president of a devastated America.

Although Bush was in such a difficult position, Card watched him bring resolve and faith to the situation, something that Card admired him for.

Guest speaker: Mark Stencel

14 04 2011

Mark Stencel’s journalism career began around 1995 where he worked at the Washington Post for 12 years (9 focusing in online things), The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He currently works for NPR (National Public Radio), has been there for just under 2 years and is the digital managing editor.

NPR is a non-profit organization, so money comes mainly from individual donations. It is very news-centralized and one of the largest, most-consumed news organizations in North America with around 20-30 million listeners. They are being challenged, though, by people who are in their offices not wanting to listen to NPR.org or the radio.

NPR has used the iPhone and Android markets to expand to listeners through those capabilities. NPR staff also take pictures for their website which show you pictures. The radio’s job is to paint that picture for the listener.

It is very difficult to work with three mediums (radio, text, video) so NPR typically just does text and radio.

Historically, NPR has produced great audio. Now, they have also added great text to their capabilities.

Don’t cover events, cover implications.

At the Post, he tried to bring talk radio into text form through interactivity with the audience.

On NPR’s Facebook page, they take stories that never got huge amounts of views on their site and add them onto their Facebook page so it can receive more views.

Twitter is also a very dynamic form of social media for NPR. Andy Carvin and others tweet some stories for their followers and turned the reporting process inside-out to show everyone how it’s done.

These social mediums are great ways to tell people what is going on air soon. It also helps show how interactive the hosts are.

NPR’s job is to cover news and break it in every possible way whether its on the radio, blogging, etc.

Guest speaker: Brad Kalbfeld

5 04 2011

Brad Kalbeld has seen it all.

From carrying a heavy typewriter around and a Telex machine, he now is able to hold a small tape recorder and — even better — can whip out his iPhone 4 to do the job for him.

Kalbfeld began by showing the filtering that occurs from an event all the way to the reader:

Event, reporter, copy editor, section editor, managing editor, reader.

But with the way that technology has constantly been improving, the role of the editors has been nearly erased. Rather than waiting for and hoping that the editors will publish what you’ve written, reporters can take a video of anything interesting that they see and post it to their computers and the internet for the readers to view.

Professional journalists are scared of citizen journalists.

We are now living in a one-click world and citizen journalists are now able to snap pictures, take videos, take audio of anything going on even quicker than a typical journalist could at times. This ability could steal viewers from the professional journalist and attract them to that citizen journalist’s publication.

You must have news that interacts with the audience nowadays.

Traditional journalists would find a story, report the news and that was it. Now, they must worry about getting the viewers involved and interacting with them to keep them engaged. This transition can be difficult for some.

Guest speaker: BJ Koubaroulis

31 03 2011

BJ Koubaroulis, George Mason University graduate in ’04, began writing high school level sports, getting the most access and “real people” who enjoy doing what they’re doing.

He had an early recommendation for us young journalism students:

Work at a small place early to get learning experience and make mistakes.

By doing so, you’ll gain experience and be able to get published without having extreme pressure and demand of needing to be perfect.

He eventually focused his energy into adding another element into his repertoire in order to be able to compete better. He added a video element to his game which helped him stand out amongst his other journalists at the Washington Post. It gave him more power as a writer having another aspect to add to it.

As important as it is to have unique abilities in one particular area, BJ made an important point to talk about the necessity of being able to do everything — writing, radio, television, video, internet.

By being able to do everything, you’ll be able to do your one “specialty’ even better than you thought. If you’re unwilling to change, you will get left behind.

He showed us a virtual tour that he created about Mason’s campus. It was incredibly cool to see.

The four necessities to become a real backpack journalist:

  • Camera
  • Computer
  • Microphone
  • Work hard

The major takeaways from BJ’s speech:

  • Do as much as you can
  • Don’t be satisfied with the ability to do one thing
  • You need to be able to do everything

Guest speaker: Mark Potts

29 03 2011

Mark Potts, creator of Washingtonpost.com, showed us how journalism works without using the typical inverted pyramid, who/what/when/where/why style.

He showed us how good Wikipedia can be, despite its reputation.

He also showed us how Facebook was used as a storytelling device as well as Storify.

How to get the audience involved:

  • Crowdsourcing (at both local and hyperlocal levels)
  • Comments
  • Facebook

When creating a blog, know what you do and do it best.

People who blog do it to be an authority in their community and to be respected for their passionate dedication rather than for money. These same people want their audience to become passionate and care.

The blogs tell people what is going on in that specific community that is not being covered by anyone else.

  • Computational journalism: Using the computer to tell stories
  • API: Giving people ability to create data tables

As a Twitter user, Potts surprisingly felt that it was not a useful tool except for publicity. When he posts a new blog on his site, he will post that URL on his Twitter and gets many hits from that.

The most important technological tool for journalists in the last five years?

The cell phone.

With social media, the super fast speed can be both an advantage and a disadvantage because some people are struggling to keep up with the need to publish as soon as possible and multiple times throughout the day instead of having one deadline.

It also exposes laziness because journalists may not have the pride in their work to get it right the firs time instead of doing it lazily and waiting for their editor to fix the mistakes.

Newspapers are struggling to realize that there are websites with better writing to give the same information that they give the day after.

Living in a “river of news,” it is important for each person to individually be able to filter their own news.

Guest speaker: Steve Buttry

22 03 2011

Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at TBD, spoke to our Comm 371 class about the abilities and effects of video storytelling and how important of a tool it is to help show and explain events.

As a writer, you have control of the story. The user can browse to the page they want to read, skim over certain information, etc.

But with video storytelling, there is shared control of the story with the user. There are pictures, videos, graphics, interviews, etc.to keep the reader engaged and able to find out as much of the story as possible — things that wouldn’t be able to be seen or found in a print article.

Nothing is as impactful as being able to scroll your mouse over an image or play a video that gives more meaning and more detail about what is being reported. It doesn’t matter how many pictures you have in a print newspaper to compensate.

Think of how the story will affect somebody and what needs to be gathered to tell the story beyond the facts. The images, the context, the maps are all extremely important tools to interest the viewer.

Developing storytelling skills will:

  • Create a comfort level with working with all the tools necessary to create a story through video
  • Allow you to do videos in less time and it will become less of an issue as time goes on
  • Help learn a lot and be able to apply certain aspects to the next story you do

The ever-changing world social media is a new concept but it can even help you become a better writer.

Always be curious. If you don’t know the answer to something, ask somebody. Push through any fear or resistance to get what you want.

A very interesting idea that Steve mentioned was to copy and paste your lead into Twitter — if it doesn’t fit, it’s probably too long!

JournalismNext (8): Telling Stories with Video

21 03 2011

The digital video revolution

  • A versatile form of journalism
  1. Two journalists, one goal
  2. Perfection not necessary

Plan your video and go

  • Use different approaches for different projects
  • Try storyboarding
  • Mix your shots
  • Build five-shot sequences
  1. Close-up on the hands
  2. Close-up on the face
  3. Wide shot
  4. Over-the-shoulder shot
  5. Creative shot

Voice in video:

  • Learn effective video interviewing
  • Use a stand-up, even if you don’t want to
  1. Content
  2. Write a script and warm up
  3. Be stable, breathe easy
  4. Don’t be afraid to talk with your hands
  5. Control your story with voice-overs

Gear up and get out there:

  • Array of camera choices
  • Video camera shopping questions
  1. What media type?
  2. Do I need high def?
  3. What software will I be using to edit this footage?
  4. What accessories do I need? (Tapes and batteries, microphones, tripod, headphones, lighting)

Shooting good video:

  • Focus
  • Zoom
  • Exposure

Aim for solid, not spectacular clips

  • Be selective in shooting
  • Avoid panning and zooming
  • Hold your shots
  • Be silent when you shoot
  • Framing and composing

Get good audio:

  • Built-in mic
  • Wireless mic
  • Shotgun mic

Working with digital  video files:

  • Keep it short
  • Choose your editing software
  • Practice visual storytelling

Publishing video online:

  • Do your own compression
  • Seek viral video distribution

JournalismNext (7): Making Audio Journalism Visible

21 03 2011

Audio journalism — a microphone, recorder and free software (plus a computer and internet, of course) are the only tools needed to create an audio form of journalism.

Why is audio journalism important?

It has characteristics that cannot be matched by other forms of media such as:

  • Presence
  • Emotions
  • Atmosphere

How do news organizations use audio?

  • Reporter overview
  • Podcasts
  • Audio slideshows
  • Breaking news

The basics of audio journalism:

  • Interviews and voice-overs
  • Natural or environmental sound
  • Imported sound clips, including music

Get started with audio:

  • Recording interviews
  1. Choose your location
  2. Gather natural sound
  3. Prepare your subject
  4. Watch what you say
  5. Try delayed recording
  6. Mark the best spots
  • Doing voice-overs
  1. Write a script
  2. Warm up
  3. Find operative words
  4. Keep it conversational

You can use a digital recorder, your computer or an external microphone to help.

Editing digital audio:

  • Understand digital formats
  • Get ready to edit
  • Editing with audacity
  • Try advanced editing techniques (fade, cross-fading, established music, segue, transition)

Guest speaker: Jim Iovino

10 03 2011

With the world turning to the internet, NBC Washington takes their television content and puts it on their website.

The sooner you get stories out on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. the more people will acknowledge you as a consistently good reporter. Thus, you will receive more traffic and gain attention. You want to be the first to say that you broke the story and knew about it before anyone else.

Important thought:

The good, basic journalistic reporting is the start to anything. You need to ask the best questions to get the best answers for a unique story.

Connecting with the audience is good to build a relationship with viewers and interact to gain attention. Pat Collins does a great job of this, taking 20 minutes out of every day to answer questions from his audience via the internet.

NBC Washington takes plenty of videos from people in the area to collaborate with them and share information. With videos, people love raw footage rather than someone anchoring the video segment.

Lazy bastards

10 03 2011

I have one word to summarize this article:


It’s short. It’s catchy. It keeps you reading more.

Wait. Does that make me a lazy bastard, too? Probably.

But it’s true and everyone else is one.

We love short sentences, like the ones I used to start this entry, with bold-face words that attract our eyes.

  • We love bulleted lists, too
  • We love subheads

Why? It’s just easier!

We are informavores, meaning we hunt for interesting informations and facts. When a site does not seem to have what we want, we quickly move on to one that does.

Long texts are a no-no for writers, so it’s best to keep it simple.

When reading online, it’s important to:

  • Read default fonts designed for screen reading, such as Verdana, Trebuchet and Georgia.
  • Rest your eyes for 10 minutes every 30 minutes
  • Do not keep screen too close to your face

Pleasure (Ludic) reading:

  • When we like a text, we read more slowly to understand it
  • When we’re engaged in a text, it’s similar to being in an effortless trance