Teaching Examples


Cool online internship
May 22, 2007, 1:01 pm
Filed under: jobs, journalism, online, television, video

The advertisement reads:

INTERACTIVE Help build our award-winning website. Assist with online community building, web research, interactive features, HTML coding, image/audio/video editing and writing articles and interviews.

The internship is at P.O.V. (Point-of-View), the public television series of independent non-fiction film and video. “P.O.V. films have won every coveted television and film award, including 18 Emmys, 11 George Foster Peabody Awards, eight Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Broadcast Journalism Awards, three Academy Awards, and the Prix Italia.”

P.O.V. also has a very cool Web site, where all kinds of additional material (and video) has been posted about their excellent documentaries.

P.O.V. is seeking entries of documentaries for the next TV season. The deadline is one month away.

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Writing for the Web: A guide for TV journalists
May 13, 2007, 2:39 pm
Filed under: online, television, training, writing

Cory Bergman of Lost Remote tells us, step by step, How to Write for the Web:

On the web, you’re writing for the motivated reader. Users impatiently scan headlines for anything that jumps out at them, and once they find a story they like, they click it. Once they’ve made that decision to read a story, they expect more details than they typically see in a 90-second TV piece — not as many as a newspaper story, but more than television. In a nutshell, web writing should be tighter and more conversational than print, but more detailed and a little more formal than TV.

He goes on to explain 11 steps concisely.

A commenter named Jason added this good tip:

I always log my tapes in my package slug in the newsroom software (that way the total log is saved as a prior version). When I write my web version of the story, I copy the entire log into MS Word, and start writing from scratch.

That helps me get details into the web story that were omitted for time, flow, or storytelling reasons in the TV version.

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How to save a newspaper
April 26, 2007, 9:43 pm
Filed under: future, journalism, newspapers, online, television

A very fat issue of Nieman Reports came out a couple of months ago. I thought, yeah, I gotta read that … and put it off, and put it off. Well, today I started reading. You know what I mean. I have the table of contents open in Firefox. The titles are not very enticing, but I’m clicking into each one, reading the first graf, and seeing whether it gives me a reason to read further. For most of these articles, the result of that test is a “no.” I’m not saying they’re bad. (I haven’t read ALL of them yet!) They are well written. But the content is nothing new.

So I kept going until I got to Media Convergence: ‘Just Do It,’ by Ulrik Haagerup, editor in chief of Nordjyske Media in Aalborg, Denmark.

There’s more here than good writing.

There’s hope. There’s a positive attitude. And best of all, there’s a blueprint for turning the Titanic around.

… I asked if we could set two goals to work on together: It should be fun to be a reporter at Nordjyske, and together we should do good journalism.

Arms crossed, the reporters nodded to me in silence. Through the years they had built a reputation of being the heaviest union-controlled newsroom in Denmark and the one with the most strikes in the history of the Danish press. But now circulation was dropping like a piano thrown from a penthouse, and distrust and endless meetings about rules, procedures and contracts dominated daily life in the newsroom. Most of the reporters did their job, but not much more than that.

I was hooked right there. Because I know that the story is not going to end with those guys still sitting there, arms folded across their chests, nodding in silence.

I then told them that in 10 months our regional newspaper, now slipping into a deep crisis, would become the most ambitious media house in Europe. “It will be tough,” I reminded them, “but when we’ve made it, we’ll have a future in which it will be fun going to work every morning and a newspaper in which we will make good stories.”

Oh, man, isn’t that what all of us want? Who wouldn’t say yes to that?

Ten months later nearly the entire staff had changed jobs, offices, deadlines, editors, tools and colleagues. As we launched a new, more focused newspaper and added a free commuter paper aimed at younger readers in the big cities, in our community we introduced a regional version of CNN “Headline News.” These instant updates as part of local TV-news became an instant success. Within six months from our launch, we had more paid subscribers to 24Nordjyske, our cable TV station that broadcasts regional news 24 hours a day, than we had on our newspaper, which dates back to 1767.

Our 250 reporters — no, we didn’t fire anyone — are no longer organized into groups with the task to fill certain pages or sections in a newspaper. They work together in a matrix organization, all under the same editor in chief, and each with the same basic task of telling good stories to people in Northern Jutland using the media best suited to the telling.

We made it voluntary for newspaper reporters to work for radio or TV, or vice versa. We had to since their union contract did not specify anything about working for any other media than the one for which they were employed. In the beginning, nobody dared doing anything new. But when we stopped focusing on results and instead applauded the courage of the few reporters willing to try something new, suddenly more and more got the guts to take a chance at failure.

Telling good stories. Taking a chance. Rewarding risk-takers. What are you waiting for?

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Good stuff, bad stuff, and television
April 21, 2007, 1:02 am
Filed under: journalism, television, video

Regina McCombs left this comment earlier this week:

… we have to be careful not to lump all the bad stuff with all the terrific stuff. The biggest problem with TV news is there’s too little of the good stuff out there, not that great storytelling can’t be done on television.

I have to agree with that: Great storytelling CAN be done on television.

And thanks (again) to Regina, I found this: Advice from the Best. The best TV photographers, that is. Read it, and you’ll probably think (like I did), “This really ISN’T rocket science!”

Plus: Angela Grant introduced us to this site, Make Internet TV, which — in spite of its horrifying name (No! DON’T make the Internet be TV!!!) — is full of great tips and advice!

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Examples of VJ work shown; crowd approves
April 18, 2007, 4:32 am
Filed under: future, journalism, television, video

Steve Safran reports on a heated panel discussion at NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters show:

The topic of this panel was “The New VJs: One-Man Bands or the Future of Newsgathering?” Moderator Chip Mahaney asked whether there is a difference between VJs and what we used to call “One-man-bands.” Rosenblum said absolutely yes, there is.

“A one-man band is that it’s a cheap way to try and imitate what the better stations in the market do,” said Rosenblum. “They drag around the giant cameras, the mic flags, the tripods and the wires. The results are terrible We wipe all that stuff out. We change the grammar – the way the thing looks. It’s the difference between the giant early still cameras and the small Leicas that came along. VJs don’t imiate what the giant cameras do — you’d be nuts to do that. It changes the approach to gathering.”

I love learning about what’s changing in the TV news biz. After watching the same 30 seconds of fat police officers running on the Virginia Tech campus played about 10,000 times — looped even — on every U.S. news program, I’m really surprised that there’s anyone willing to defend old-school TV news video. And those reporters sitting across from the interview subject, nodding and trying so hard to look interested (“This is my expression of deep attention. Really”) — they are so fake, I just laugh out loud when I see them.

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Shoot, report, edit: The new TV newsroom
April 14, 2007, 9:45 pm
Filed under: future, journalism, television, video

In the irresistibly titled post “Mama Don’t Let Your Photogs Grow Up To Be VJ’s,” WKRN-TV general manager Mike Sechrist tells us about the transformation going on in his newsroom in Nashville, Tennessee:

We began VJ training in July of last year. Four VJ’s and two trainers for six days of hands on work usually lasting from ten to twelve hours. Each class was mixed with two reporters or anchors matched with two photographers or editors. This was done so the reporters could help the photographers with their writing and the photogs could help the reporters with their shooting.

As the VJ’s graduated they returned to the newsroom and four more took their place. This went on for eight weeks.

There’s a nice silver lining, if they see this as a dark cloud:

One of the first questions asked by photographers, and it’s a legitimate one, is what about my salary. Am I going to be treated like a reporter now that I have these additional duties? The answer is, yes. Last week all former photographers who are now VJ’s were offered two year PSC’s, the same contract offered to reporters and anchors. We outlined how their raises were calculated and what their increase would be for the second year. We also made these contracts optional, meaning they did not have to sign them and could continue to work without contracts and would still get the salary increase.

Your back gets a break too:

What makes this system work is the equipment. Small Sony Z-1’s compared to the larger and weightier SX cameras used by most traditional photographers.

Tip o’ my hat to Regina for the link.

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How TV journalists should learn online
March 14, 2007, 2:52 pm
Filed under: journalism, online, television

Last Friday I wrote a post about where to get started if you are a (print) journalist who wants to learn online and multimedia. Because I never worked in TV, I couldn’t really offer any advice for the TV journalists.

So I cleverly goaded Andy Dickinson, over in England, to do the job. He’s written a very thoughtful post instructing TV journalists how to move online.

He explains that to “get” online, you’ve got to learn by doing. Wow, I could not agree more! I’ve seen too many print journalists and journalism educators ignoring that advice for too long!

He also recommends that you “gather as much content as you can.” He’s got an excellent illustration of how to use Post-It notes to organize all those new assets you’ll be bringing into the story.

The illustration also helps him explain how you’ve got to “think non-linear” — and he’s NOT talking about tape!

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