Archives for the month of: March, 2014

This one goes out to My Beloved Multimedia Journalism Students:

This is just to give you a gauge on your progress on the blogging portion of your grade. As you know from reading the syllabus, 30 percent of your grade in the course comes from your regularly posting items on your blog that are related to your blog topic.

Some of you have been creating killer content. Others haven’t been blogging much. You know who you are. So do I. Check yourself against the next several paragraphs to know what you need to do to earn the grade of your choice. Hey, it’s your grade; how well do you want to do?

If you have about 10 blog posts up at this point and they are substantial, you’re right on track. Keep it up at the current pace and you’ll lay down enough to ace this part of your final grade. (No, just a photo and one sentence are not enough to even qualify as a post for our purposes; see “What is enough content to be considered a complete post?” below for guidance.)

If you have about eight up, you’re a little behind an “A” pace and at this rate you’ll probably eke out a B if you continue at this pace.

If you have six or fewer, you’d better get a couple of posts up each week for the rest of the semester unless you just want to end up with the minimum of 10 posts for a C.

Five or fewer? There’s still time to turn things around, but you have backed yourself into a serious hole. Find stuff to write about that’s interesting and relevant to your topic. Repeat as necessary, which for you will be two or three a week till the end of April.

What is enough content to be considered a complete post? It’s not enough to just post a picture, a photo gallery, even an audio slideshow or a video, without providing a short introduction to what awaits the viewer if they click the link. You need a headline with good SEO principles applied, about 75 words of introduction to your photo/slideshow/gallery/video/what have you, and the content (either embedded in the post or linked to on a host server such as Google Drive, which everybody now knows how to do after the audio slideshow assignment). Multimedia means more than one kind of media. In most parts of the online world, you have to sell audiences on your content. Give them a reason to click the link! Just don’t do one of those Upworthy headlines, of which I am sick. When you tease to multimedia content, you are making a promise of what to expect. Be sure you don’t promise more than you can deliver.

We’re into the homestretch. I want to see you all get good grades, but you do have to earn them through your effort, skill, creativity and enterprise (not necessarily in that order).

In case you have misplaced your syllabus, these are the guidelines for grading the blog posts:

The instructor will, from time to time, assign you to write a blog entry discussing online journalism and related topics. These will be identified as mandatory blog posts. Mandatory topics will be announced in class and posted on the class blog, located at Beyond that, you need to keep up a regular blog. “Regular” means “every week and a half or so.” In addition to mandatory blog posts, you’ll be shooting for 10 to 15 blog posts throughout the semester…

The key here is that you write something interesting and witty. It must be a professionally oriented blog. Your blog needs to be passionate and subjective and have feeling. There should be some primary source reporting. For examples of what I am looking for, check out You are expected to publish in your blog about once a week. If I see that you have dumped a lot of blog entries in the days before the semester ends, I will mark you down significantly. I will grade you on a minimum of 10 entries during the semester (note that this is a minimum; if you want an A, work it!) We will use WordPress, a free blogging platform …

You will do three kinds of posts for this course: Three mandatory focused, three mandatory critique, and at least four freestyle. Grammar, style, punctuation, and AP style all matter. Accuracy matters. Attribution (giving credit to others’ work, ideas, and quotes) matters. Here’s what I’m looking for from you:

Mandatory focused posts: Three of your posts will be on a topic of your choice relating to your topic area. These must be 300 to 500 words, with links to at least two websites.

Mandatory critique posts: Three of your posts will be journalistic critiques, each dissecting a journalistic/nonfiction audio story; a video story; and an interactive story or a data visualization. These will be 300 to 500 words, with links to the stories you critique. It’s up to you to pick the subject of your critique. These are the ingredients of a good critique: description of the content; link to the content; assessment of its content (use of human and document sources, whether and how it hooked your attention effectively, whether it was well organized); and assessment of its presentation (Was sound/video quality good? For data visualizations, were they usable?).

Freestyle posts: At least four of your posts need to be briefer posts (75 to 200 words) on a topic of your choice relating to your topic area. You may report your own original content, or you may comment on others’ journalistic work (and you must always link to that work). As an alternative, you may use to curate shared and sharable online content and embed or link to it on your blog.

Keep the blog posts coming. Regular posting is the way you build a following and boost your blog’s position in search results.

Dr. Fuhlhage

I assigned this in class Thursday, March 27, 2014. Read and follow the instructions carefully before you begin working on this assignment. 

The stories “A Fighting Chance” and “Running on Fumes in North Dakota” are examples of the documentary-style video story you will produce for your video story. Watch them. Then critique THREE examples of video stories that have similar style.

The stories you select must have these characteristics:

  1. The reporter does not appear and is not heard. Titles are OK, however.
  2. The story must be relevant to your blog topic.
  3. The story must focus on an interesting character or group.
  4. The story must combine bites and natural sound. It may include music. It may not have narration.

Your critique must discuss the following:

  1. The hook: How did it use visuals and sound to hook your attention, and why was it effective or ineffective?
  2. The hero: How did the videographer make you care about him or her?
  3. The story arc: What was the conflict or quest? How did the videographer use images and sound to develop it?
  4. The ending: What did the videographer do to wrap things up memorably?
  5. Your takeaways: What did each videographer do that you plan to use in your own work?

Select videos to critique by these videographers:
They do the kind of stories you will do for your documentary-style video story; you may mix and match or pick others if they don’t fit your blog’s theme as long as they do “invisible reporter”-style video stories. All were instructors and coaches at the National Press Photographers Association’s Multimedia Immersion workshop at Syracuse University last spring:

Darren Durlach, senior multimedia producer, Boston Globe:
McKenna Ewen, multimedia producer, Star Tribune:
Lauren Frohne, multimedia producer, Boston Globe:
David Frank, video journalist, New York Times:
Andrew Hida, freelance multimedia producer:
Brad Horn, video journalist, Washington Post:
Wes Pope, multimedia professor, University of Oregon:
Bruce Strong, chair of multimedia photography and design, S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University: NOTE: Strong did not make all the videos on this channel, so watch carefully to see which are by him and which are by others. He has great taste since he practically invented the approach we’re taking to video stories:
Eric Seals, photo & video journalist, Detroit Free Press:
Stretch Ledford, assistant professor journalism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
Tara Young, video journalist, Alaska Dispatch; was senior video producer at Etsy during the workshop: NOTE: This link has work by Young and others at the Dispatch whose work also may be suitable for this assignment.

DEADLINE: Post on blog and email me link to the blog post at by 3 p.m. Friday, April 4.

Gosh Almighty, I hope this is the problem ...

Gosh Almighty, I hope this is the problem …

A Google Drive problem has vexed a student and me for the last 24 hours.

After preparing a really nicely done Soundslides presentation, my student emailed to say she was having trouble uploading the files to Google Drive. She followed all the steps in’s fantastic Using Google Drive as a Web Host post. Yet it would not allow her to upload folders inside the publish_to_web folder; whether with drag-and-drop or hitting the upload files button inside Drive, it just wasn’t letting it work.

She brought her laptop in and we looked at her files; they looked in order. We noticed that in Drive, the icon for her folders looked different than the one for my folders. When she clicked on the 400_300 and 600_450 files, they would not open. Mine, however, did in my Drive.

After beating our heads against the problem for about an hour (and after she showed her beautifully done audio slideshow to me on her computer), I conceded defeat with apologies for not being able to figure out the problem.

And it just kept nagging at me. I wrapped up some grading and returned to the problem, replicating the steps with a test upload on my Drive. And when I hit the upload button, the same thing happened to me: It would not let me load folders, only files.

I backed up a couple of steps. And that’s where I think I found the problem.

When you hit the little upload button, it asks if you want to upload a folder or files. I think if you click on it without noticing that option, Drive assumes you want to upload files. This time, I selected folder, then uploaded the contents of the publish_to_web folder. Then I clicked index.html, then hit preview.

The thing worked. Here it is (and it’s just a quick-and-dirty to demonstrate how to upload these things to Drive). To test whether that explains the incomplete preview of the Soundslide presentation, I tried uploading to Google Drive by just clicking the upload file indiscriminately; when I did so, Drive assumed I just wanted to upload files. Drive will upload either a folder that contains a bunch of stuff (it could have a mix of folders and files inside) if you use the “Upload>Folder” option. If you use “Upload>Files” and you point it inside a folder (like the publish_to_web folder) and try to select all the folders and files inside it, it will only upload the files. The result will be something that looks like this shell of a Soundslides project that I uploaded to test this theory.

I really hope this is the solution for my student. After this testing, I am certain it is.

Incidentally, these are the directions I gave in class before spring break for how to upload the projects:


  1. In Soundslides, complete your slideshow and export it by using the EXPORT button. This creates a folder called publish_to_web that contains everything necessary for an online viewer to look at/hear your audio slideshow.
  2. Upload the contents of the entire publish_to_web to Google Drive. For directions, click through the galleries at the post “Using Google Drive as a Web Host” at this link:
  3. Write a blog post that explains the content of your story, including the title (this is the headline you gave it in Soundslides) and link to the publish_to_web folder you uploaded in Step 2 above. The link in Step 2 will explain what that link is.
  4. Email the link to the blog post containing the link to the audio slideshow to me at

UNC Multimedia Bootcamp is where I got my first taste of journalistic documentary video storytelling. Not that this was my first video ever; I will confess to having made some terribly sophomoric sketch comedy using a video camera rented from the local mom-and-pop equivalent of Blockbuster Video back in the day.

While it wasn’t a boot camp in the “drop your *something* and grab your socks” kind of way, it definitely was a crash course. Remember that scene in Wayne’s World 2, where they had roadie training, and the veteran roadie who had bludgeoned a sweet shop owner to death with his own shoes to get brown M&M’s in order to get a band on stage was introducing himself? And he said, “You will hurt. You will have aches and pains. But you will get good.”

We got … well, competent enough after one week.

Afterward, I got a LOT of practice shooting a road trip to ancient Navajo and Hopi ruins in the Southwest with my father, an interview with a fascinating lady who is a muzzleloader shooting champion with a passion for creating Indian beadwork, and a piece on a mixed martial artist in Syracuse. So come to think of it, given the demands of producing research for academic presses on a regular basis, I’ve gotten more experience at this game than I thought.

UNC Multimedia Bootcamp is what got me up and running.

In just a week, we learned best practices for online video shooting and editing, basic html coding, interviewing for video and audio projects, and how all the elements of soundbites, natural sound, room tone, and voiceover-less editing combine with video footage to let the characters tell the story while the reporters stayed behind the camera or off to the side while conducting the interview.

We learned to become, as I tell my Multimedia Journalism students, Men in Black.

Our only presence is the standalone answers and reactions from interview subjects that we prompted with our carefully worded questions and by biting our tongues, smiling, nodding, and using the “dumb dog” expression while keeping our mouths shut and resisting the temptation to say, “Uh-huh … interesting … go on ….”

My assignment partner Tom Salyer, a freelance photographer from Miami, and I hit up a dozen businesses in downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro, N.C., before we found someone willing to talk on camera and let us into their lives for a couple of hours of interviewing and B-roll filming.

This is the result.

Barry “Sid” Keith is just the best for letting us in. From one Tar Heel to another, thanks, Sid!

Barry "Sid" Keith's secondhand shop Sid's Surplus has been a fixture in downtown Carrboro, N.C., for decades.

Barry “Sid” Keith’s secondhand shop Sid’s Surplus has been a fixture in downtown Carrboro, N.C., for decades.

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