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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

Tag Archives: video

In the article “The Video Explosion,” Charles Layton says that young journalists who have the skills to shoot photos, video and to write traditional print stories could be the future. With the leading medium of online news journalism changing from print to multimedia content like audio, video, and photo slideshows, it is important for emerging journalists to be prepared for any sort of assignment. While the role of future Web journalists is still not completely well-defined, it easy to see that more is expected of them than ever before. ‘I didn’t want to be someone who just wrote stories and only did that because that’s the only way I know how. I see a journalist being able to write, to shoot video, collect audio… Or, at a minimum, a journalist should know how this whole thing works,’ says reporter and video producer Evelio Contraras.

In news media today, journalists have a wide range of proficiency in regards to these new skills. In regards to online video content, Layton says, “….much of it disappointing, some so awful it makes you cringe, and some reasonably well executed but trivial… but a small proportion is excellent by any standard…” This variety can be seen in the videos that we have had the opportunity to view in class. The Buffalo News video “Jeff Miers reflects on the Grammy Awards night”, for example, was an example of something cringe-worthy while most of the LA Times video work featured on their site  is excellent


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I used many of the videography techniques discussed in Herber Zettl’s Video Basic 3, “Chapter 5” when I shot video for my final video project. When I interviewed Debbie, an avid bingo player, on-camera I kept several things from this reading in mind. First, I practiced using different fields of view, angles and focal lengths. For every few questions that I asked Debbie, I altered the position of my camera getting close-ups, medium shots and wide angle shots. This variety of shots enabled me to capture detail in facial expressions, body language, and her surrounding environment. In all of my shots, I tried to leave enough headroom and room in front of her face as “proper leadroom.” These are both compositional elements that Zettl discusses the importance of. Also, I was sure to include Debbie’s face and shoulders in most of the shots to allow for what Zettl calls “psychological closure.”

At one point, I tried to zoom in on Debbie’s mouth as she talked about a time when one of her teeth fell out while eating pizza at a bingo hall. The zoom was very sudden, and Zettl advises against this, but I hadn’t yet grown accustomed to the zoom feature on the zi8 and was surprised by the speed of the zoom. Next time I will keep this in mind.

I did not focus much on depth while getting my interview footage as Debbie’s surroundings were ery bland and it was a fairly straightforward video shoot. Two techniques that I did use that Zettl doesn’t mention, however, involved camera stabilization and the length of individual takes. When I was shooting video of Debbie, I stabilized my elbows on the back of a chair that I positioned to face her in hopes that this would minimize the shakiness of the video. Also, when I began and ended takes, I left the camera running for at least ten seconds after she or I had finished or begun speaking in order to capture establishing and closing shots that would make the video easier to edit and less choppy when watching.

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Here is a link to my finished slideshow project.

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This is a combined response to Sides of the Wire: America in Afghanistan, The Long Haul, and How I cover the Afghanistan war with the 5DmkII.

These three stories, taken together, show the increasing availability of war photos from overseas, particularly in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. It is easy to find these photos in print and broadcast media, on the internet and, increasingly, through the blogs and Web sites of independent journalists and journalists from smaller news outlets. With such coverage, it’s becoming harder to ignore the reality of the situations–and that’s a positive thing, in my opinion. Making such media available can serve as a strong form of activism, forcing American citizens to be aware of our conuty’s foreign affairs. These photos give a human face to war. It can also be extremely historically significant. These images are reminiscent of photos and documentary work exposing the horrors of the Vietnam War (BBC, Hearts and Minds).

The lengths that journalist Danfung Dennis goes to in order to capture images, sound and video are extraordinary. He mentions 120 degree heat, lack of light, issues with stabilization, the need to wear safety equipment and other various circumstantial and environmental forces that he must overcome. His story also highlights the improvements in portable camera equipment and the ways in which they enable things like war overseas to be covered by journalists in new and efficient ways. Newer versions of compact DSLRs are more impressive than ever, enabling journalists to make multiple media projects (like Dennis’s photo sets and documentary footage) and to stray further from the confining roles of a traditional journalists and photographers.

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