Archives for posts with tag: Online News Association

Andrew Lih of American University gave an incredibly helpful Fast-Track Video Shooting session last fall at the Online News Association’s ONA14 convention in Atlanta. Lih great advice on when video is a suitable storytelling form and showed outstanding examples of long and short documentary-style video storytelling.

When is video appropriate for a given story? Video tells great stories about people. If you have a great character who is representative of a particular issue, it works really well. One example: A New York Times video about a calculus teacher titled “Wright’s Law: A Unique Teacher Imparts Real Life Lessons.”

The kind of form we emphasize in Multimedia Journalism, the documentary-style video, works well if you have someone who is good on camera, is well-spoken, and has the knowledge to speak confidently about their subject.

Lih showed an excellent longer documentary video by Vice on the controversy surrounding the use of 3-D printers to make guns. Its title: “Click. Print. Gun.”

Another example: “Secrets from the Potato Chip Factory,” by NPR’s Planet Money team.

Lih’s advice on shooting technique was also pretty great. Highlights:

Things you DO NOT want to do:

  • Zooming a lot.
  • Talking a lot during the shoot.

Things you WANT to do:

  • Shoot 10-second clips when doing B-roll.
  • Don’t move. Use a tripod.
  • Zoom with your feet, not with the camera.
  • Listen to the audio while you shoot. This helps you recognize when something goes wrong (battery in mic dies, cable disconnects, etc.) or when you need to shoot again due to distracting background noise.
  • Remember to shoot an establishing shot before you go in for your interview. Otherwise, you are likely to forget to do it.
  • Lens position for interview shoots: At eye level. Low angle looking up makes your subject look heroic. High angle looking down diminishes your subject.
  • Position of the camera in relation to the interviewer: Two feet to your shoulder. Encourage your subject to look at you, not the camera.
  • As you interview, take notes and watch the time monitor and note the time in each of the pieces. Use these notes as a guide to where the story is going. Use them also as a “scavenger hunt” list. You can use this list to remind you to ask your subject, “Do you have any photographs of such-and-such that you mentioned in the interview?” You might be able to use them in editing the videostory.
  • If your subject looks all over the place, point at your eyes, and make eye contact. Coaching your subject how to sit is completely natural in the TV world; so it goes in online video.
  • To get your subject comfortable talking with them, a lot of TV people will start with nonsense questions like “What did you have for breakfast?” Don’t make your first question, “So, did you KILL that guy or what?”




I’ve settled back into the routine in Auburn now after spending three days conventioneering at the Online News Association conference in Atlanta. This will be a brief post since I have a ton of grading to return to, but these are my main takeaways:

  • The technological wonders never cease for info gatherers: From the fledgling journalism drone programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Missouri School of Journalism to wearable sensors, innovative means of gathering information are popping up at every turn. The next challenge is figuring out how news organizations can put them to use (as well as figuring out how to fight government efforts to curb our adoption of these technologies, which Matt Waite of Nebraska explained in detail at the Knight Village on the convention’s Midway).
  • Nor do the possibilities for sharing data visually: I came out of ONA13 with a renewed enthusiasm for the integration of visuals with data and in a fit of irrational exuberance, I signed up for Alberto Cairo’s current MOOC on infographics and data visualization out of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. I’m two weeks late into a four-week course, but he kindly assured me I didn’t need to worry about doing the homework since a lot of folks just sign up to see the course materials. I deeply appreciate his willingness to share since I’ll incorporate some of it into the multimedia journalism course I teach in the spring. This will give me a sense of best practices to apply to the stuff I learned last week about using TileMill and Google Fusion Tables for mapping data.
  • Collaboration is king: Journalists don’t have to be coders, and coders don’t have to be journalists. But it sure does help if we know each other’s language, values and guiding principles. I’ll be collaborating with a team of Auburn University coders and reporting students on a hackathon next month. Do I know code? Only in the most rudimentary way, though I’m learning more all the time. But I have done research about journalism and migration, which happens to be where the team needs expertise since that’s the subject of the hackathon. Right place, right time, right connections.
  • Journalists must master data or data will master them: The highlight of the convention for me was the Friday keynote address by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight. His topic: Eight Cool Things Journalists Need to Know about Statistics. So many people live-tweeted about it at the event, myself included, that it made sense to make a Storify story about it. The link is below. I hope you enjoy it!
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