Saturday, October 27, 2012

Multimedia as a Form of Audience Interaction

As a regular viewer of "The Sweet Spot," a New York Times video blog by David Carr and A. O. Scott, I began to think of the emphasis journalists and journalism schools place on connecting with the audience.

Having individual reporters "vlog" or do radio interviews on specific pieces is not a new form of engaging audience with the news. However, "The Sweet Spot" goes above and beyond to show the usually invisible faces of "traditional" news organizations, like the New York Times.
Carr and Scott literally sit down with viewers on a regular basis and carry out, what seems like, natural conversations on topics that are not scripted and edited like in broadcast news segments. The flow of their dialogue is not awkward and looks for new angles on mostly arts & cultural issues, but sometimes issues like election coverage. Most importantly, the vlogs interview various NYT reporters and editors on their opinions or usual habits. In the segment "Election Overload," they asked about consumption of election news. In past segments, they've revealed reporters' guilty pleasures, often finding middle-aged  editors who love the song "Call Me Maybe." In "Election Overload" they even interviewed Executive Editor Jill Abramson.

While these are fairly simple dialogues and topics, I feel they are a new form of audience interaction that more "traditional" organizations should explore in order to continue being relevant.

On a brief side note, because I usually critique multimedia production, it did seem that in most of the one-on-one interviews "The Sweet Spot" failed to use a tripod to stabilize the camera. As this is a pet peeve for me, I do find it amazing that this is an issue for even the New York Times.

The Sweet Spot "Election Overlode?"

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Boundaries of Being a Bystander

As a journalist, social justice advocate and general human being, I feel there is a moral obligations for a journalist to their "sources" or whomever they are working to cover. There are situations where journalists, acting as humans, should help someone.

As a journalist, I do feel like I easily detach from the situation, but many aspect of "self-disclosure" that journalists will avoid, I feel are very valid. For instance, over the summer I did a more long-form-esque piece on the only LGBTQ support resource in Hernando County, Fl. When I initially contacted this group that work in a suburban/ semi-rural area the group organizer was very wary of what the Tampa Bay Times might want with their organization.
Members of the Hernando PFLAG chapter

We met over coffee to talk about it and I had to basically prove I was not a threat to the safety of their group. It would be easy to say I was interested in the organization because I am also queer and wanted to explore resources in the area I cover for other queer individuals. But I didn't do that. I didn't want to cross an ethical boundary that I wasn't even sure was there. Over my month and a half (maybe more) of covering them, at some point I did discreetly disclose that I had a "partner." From there, there was a mutual understanding that we understood part of each others stories and I was not just an outsider looking in.

Much of my work in the social justice community has to do with bystander intervention whether it is in bullying, alcohol poisoning, or sexual assault.  While I understand letting events unfold in order to document them, I do not feel any other case, especially in international coverage, should be that different. Why do press credentials give reporters the privilege of being a bystander instead of a solution?
Barbara Sinclair (left) of Brooksville, Fla. marches in the 2012 St.Pete Pride parade with her son, Dean Whitcomb.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Video Analysis: "Cooking with theTuccis"

While multimedia projects on cooking are not my usual taste, I found the New York Times "Cooking With the Tuccis" an excellent piece of videography.

The relevance of this piece was formed around the actor Stanely Tucci and his family's recently released cookbook, but used visuals and strong interviews to humanize a celebrity and his family. Personal interviews involved Stanely and both his mother and father in well framed shots. There were also various types of shots used, from the tight wide shots to detailed shots.

Detailed shots were especially prevalent when showing the cooking and consumption process. From the detailed cutting of steak to the mixing of pasta, the video showed many high quality shots with low depth of field in varying focuses. These shots, changed about every five seconds kept the piece visually interesting even for viewers who usually are not drawn by "entertainment" topics, such as food.