May 31, 2008

Coyhaique

Now I´m in Coyhaique, the center of the defense of the land in Patagonia. I´ll be spending the next week or two seeing what I can of the land and the people here (it is Winter, so not the height of outdoor season to say the least, but a good chance to get to know the people). Hopefully I´ll be able to get what I can of the outdoors.
Most people use the wood stove for heat, cooking, etc. since gas and electricity are increasing in price.

A teen juggles in the street to earn some extra money.

Signs and graffiti opposing the construction of the dams and power lines can be seen throughout the city.

Puerto Montt to Coyhaique

First I traveled to Puerto Montt before making it to Coyhaique, the center of the defense of Patagonia.
Puerto Montt bus terminal.

My current bed in Coyhaique... right next to the wood stove... yes!

A day with scientists

I took a day to spend some time with scientists from New Mexico Tech studying the volcano in Chaiten, a huge volcano that erupted in early May. No one is allowed within 50 km close, but the group was using instruments set up on farms to gather information.
Based in the town of Castro.

Farmland where the instruments were set up.



Collecting pumice on the shoreline.

Checking the gear at another site.

Landowners are reimbursed for their time and power.

Rosa, one of the owners.

The volcano plume.

Another landowner.


Heading home.
So the project that I am starting on is regarding the energy crisis in Chile and the proposed building of 5 dams in Patagonia, which would change the ecological landscape as well as the lifestyle, creating a "highway" of wires.
I´m currently in Patagonia, meeting people and seeing the region. It is a project that I hope to get what I can now, as the region is in winter and is much more active some the spring months. Maybe I´ll have the chance to return. But it is a good time to work on it at the same time because it is a current and forefront issue at the moment.
I started off in Santiago, which was just a chance to get my feet underneath me as well as think about the use of energy. The energy supply the dams would produce would be shipped North to the Central region, including Santiago. I´ll be returning there to really focus on this portion.




May 29, 2008

Chile Travel


So I'm currently sitting in the airport at Puerto Montt, Chile. My flight to Coyhaique was canceled due to the Chaiten volcano. Hopefully it will go tomorrow, but maybe not even then. But it's given me the chance to catch up on some things.
Yesterday with the scientists studying the volcano was fun. Got to see the countryside that I normally wouldn't see. People are only allowed 50km close to the volcano, so there is not much to view there, but it was still interesting nonetheless.
Here is a photo from flying over the mountains and into Chile. For now I'm back to the hostel I stayed in, Case Perla, which is more of a home-stay than a hostel. Down the hall is the parent's and daughter's bedroom, and the bathroom is shared with the family. But it is cozy and warm with a good breakfast, so it's all good with me.
My plans coming up are to make it to Coyhaique and settle in there, then try to meet with different people fro NGOs that are involved with the proposed dam building projects. From there I head even more South to get a good look at the Baker River, one of the two potential homes to the dams, and possibly the Pascua, as well as the towns that will be affected by the project.

May 27, 2008

Chilean Whirlwind

As of right now I'm currently sitting in the airport in Santiago, Chile. I arrived Sunday afternoon (today is Tuesday), and it has been quite a whirlwind. Mostly because I keep losing things. Don't know why, it's out of my character, and I think it's my subconscious way to keep me on my toes and teach myself a lesson. I have not done a lot of photography just yet, but I have done a lot of research and travel plans. Made it to the hostel Sunday afternoon and walked around for awhile getting adjusted, found a little restaurant with soup and a beer, and crashed for the night early. Monday was spent mostly making contacts and travel plans, which have since changed as of today. And today has been a trip of a meeting with the publisher and reporter at the Santiago Times to have the chance to talk with them about the work they've done on the energy crisis in Chile and the proposed dams in Patagonia (the project I'm pursuing while I'm here). It's a step-by-step process, and in a way I'm glad I'm making contacts as I go though making the travel arrangements is stressful. My plans of taking the bus South to Coyhaique have now changed to flying to Puerto Montt and taking the bus to Castro tonight so I can spend the day with some scientists from New Mexico who are studying the volcano in Chaitel, which has evacuated many towns. Then Thursday I'm flying to Coyhaique. That's all the plans for now, and photos are coming soon!

May 24, 2008

May 20, 2008

Intro to Video

A very basic introduction to video through the camera and Final Cut for beginning users.

Thesis II

When looking at how to build and present multimedia, it is important to understand what is happening in newsrooms now to adapt to the changing readership climate.

More and more emphasis is being placed not on the number of hits a page receives, but on the time spent on the pages by individual users, which can be seen in a study by Nielsen/Netratings. With technology such as AJAX being used to build pages, users can interact without having to reload. Therefore the time that they are spending on an individual page may be longer, but the count of page views lower.

So what does this mean for multimedia? It has the chance to increase the length of time on a page, which can in turn produce revenue by increasing the cost of ads on pages that will keep viewers on them for a greater length of time.

Readers are currently shifting to get their news from online newspapers, as did Michale Stephens. Stephens, a long-time subscriber to the South Bend Tribune, has dropped his subscription to become an online reader, using a NetVibe page to add RSS feeds from the South Bend Tribune and from other newspapers, as well as podcasts and blogs. He requests that the paper continues to provide access and also makes their Archives free.

Newspapers are struggling to maintain revenue in this changing market.
“…But I won't sugarcoat the news: by not filling jobs that go vacant, by offering buyouts, and if necessary by layoffs, we expect to reduce the newsroom staff by approximately 100 employees from what it was at the beginning of the year.”
(Excerpt from Valentines Day speech by Bill Keller, Executive Editor for the New York Times, announcing that 100 employees will be cut this upcoming year)


With this turn in getting news online, there have been many ideas in the past as to what the format for telling stories should be. More often than not, it's writing them for the printed newspaper and then putting the same information presented in the same way online in the form of an article with photos or graphics. There are characteristics of how readers view information online that can boost the presentation.

- Online readers are just as likely to be a methodical reader as a scanner, whereas a print reader is more likely to be methodical.
- Both print and online readers retain more information when alternative story forms are used (graphs, charts, etc.).
- Navigation is the first stop for the eyes online, whereas photos and headlines are for print.
- Lead packages and stories got more attention in both print and web.
- Large, documentary photos got more time from the eyes in both print and online, but graphics drew more eye time online.
- Web ads with motion got more eye-time, but print ads, whether half or quarter page, got equal eye-time.
- When it comes to the amount of text read, online users read more text that print users.

So what are some newsrooms doing? The South Bend Tribune has changed their newsroom structure by making it a Reverse Publishing environment. According to Victor Ortiz, the New Media Director for the South Bend Tribune, the web department is moving into the newsroom. The center of the newsroom will have a big-screen display of websites and the sites of competitors, and that area will be surrounded by the web department, Breaking News and 24/7 staffers, as well as Copy Editors.
"The priority lies in speed and availability, although multimedia and interaction will follow. As part of the reorganization we are implementing a new budgeting process that will help us focus on the multimedia elements of a story. We have also created a new position, Web Commentary Editor, to help focus on the interaction with readers. We have just started this process and have a ways to go before it's all fully implemented, so it's early to say what the consequences are."


Newsrooms are also using other forms of distribution, including Microjournalism, PDF Availability (though throwing the print-product online is important, it does not make for an online newsroom), SMS Alert, RSS feeds, etc.).

Some newsrooms are also changing the way reporting is done. Mojos are being used more and more frequently. A Mojo is a Mobile Journalist: reporters who have high-tech tools such as audio recorders, still and video cameras, and laptops and spend much of their time on the road hunting for stories and putting several up on the Web a day. Their job is to provide constantly fresh web content. The worries of this kind of reporting are the importance of the content and its quality and whether or not it is being sacrificed.

This adaptation of the newsroom may change the way reporters and photographers do their jobs, but not necessarily the foundation.

May 15, 2008

Thesis

My thesis the spring was on Multimedia Storytelling and its future, including data structuring.

The first part was just a look at what a multimedia story is:

A multimedia story is “…some combination of text, still photographs, video clips, audio, graphics and interactivity presented on a Web site in a nonlinear format in which the information in each medium is complementary, not redundant.” ("What is a Multimedia Story" by Jane Stevens)

Characteristics of a multimedia story include:
- User has the ability to navigate through the story
- Can include text, photos, video, audio, graphics and interactivity
- Can be adapted to different types of audiences
- Not all stories make good multimedia stories

It's important to know your viewers. Of online video audiences, there tend to be four groups:
- Content Explorers: Ages 35-54, are willing to watch programs on TV as much as online, tend to have incomes of more than $100,000
- On-Demanders: Ages 18-34, more likely to watch full-length videos online
- Sight & Sounders: Ages 55+, 1/3 of online video audience, but prefers TV
- Television Devotees: Skews towards women, would rather watch shows on TV but will use the Web to catch up on missed episodes
(Worden)

Online video viewers tend to head toward television-type videos. This doesn't mean that news organizations should ignore multimedia, but think about who their viewers are amongst the newspaper/online demographic and how to build presentations towards that audience. There is a tendency now to put together multimedia based on what is gathered and what can be done quickly. What if there is more pre-planning for how to present it to the particular audience?


Characteristics of good multimedia stories include:
- Are multidimensional
- Are best told by face-to-face reporting
- Are pre-planned (through preliminary interviews, storyboards and newsroom communication)
- Are linked to previous stories on the topic

There are many opinions as to the length that multimedia presentations should be. Many say less than 5 minutes, or less than 3 minutes, or if it's a slideshow with audio, around 2. In my opinion, it comes down to as long as they need to be. Joe Weiss, creator of Soundslides, commented on this in a http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifPoynter interview.

I think they key, number-one thing is that [most audio slideshows are] too long. ... They'll create a three-minute audio slideshow, and because it's three minutes long, they'll have to use so many photographs. Well, I'm sorry, there just aren't that many good photographs in your edit. National photographer-of-the-year portfolios can be 30 images, and you're telling me you have 30 images from that one news event you were at for two hours, ... it just doesn't make any sense. ... I think a lot of people are making them far too long.

They're not being respectful of the time commitment that their audience is giving them. The attention that someone gives you as a journalist online, that attention is currency.

I would say the second thing [after length] is that, visually ... they are applying the ideals of still, print picture editing, to online picture editing. Essentially, they're not shooting for the medium. There are images you can look at and say, that image does a great job of getting me from this image to the other image. Well, are picture editors, or photojournalists, trained to think about their photographs in that way, that this is a transition image? Are they even shooting those images? In most cases they're not.

If you have a really great image, leave it up there for a little longer. Find a way in the audio, so the audio supports that image, and then there should be times where there's an image that supports the audio. Those two things should exist in the same audio slideshow. ... I think a lot of people [think] ... an audio slideshow is just a vehicle for their photojournalism. And it isn't.

The most important thing is not your photojournalism. The most important thing is not your audio journalism. The most important thing, overall, above anything else, amen, to the end of it, is the story and how well you communicate that to the human being who's on the other side of that computer.


Brian Storm of MediaStorm spoke during his visit to Syracuse University just before judging the Alexia Foundation Competition. Many multimedia presentations produced by MediaStorm are 10+ minutes in length. More than 60% of videos are watched from beginning to end once they are started. Also, he commented on the idea that presentations should be broken up into chapters, saying that it is like asking someone to go click something else/watch something else, and they may not come back.

So there are some thoughts on the current state of multimedia storytelling.

May 2, 2008

Never Ending

I don't think the editing process is ever really complete, but there's just that decision as to when it is time to stop.
That being said, here is a slight re-edit of the Vietnamese Community project.

video