Monthly Archives: October 2013

Upworthy breathes life into content

http://www.upworthy.com/the-one-thing-teachers-always-forced-you-to-do-may-have-ruined-your-chance-at-a-happy-wealthy-life-11111116?g=2&c=ufb1

Now I may be a bit behind, but I have a deep fascination with Upworthy.com.

Its history is unique, and it’s reflected within the content they chose to cover. Started by experienced journalists, Upworthy is in fact a biased, left-wing account. Unlike most media outlets, they do not deny it. Its About Us page outlines its point of views as having stances for gay marriage, against child poverty, a negative view on media coverage of women and a critical stance of government ineffectiveness.

Its satirical commentary fits the audience it hopes to captivate. And though it does not declare itself as objective, they do fact-check work.

I am still uneasy on assuming with absolute certainty that Upworthy is a reliable source, but after a friend posted the video I attached via Facebook, I have no doubt in my mind that what the site is doing is effective.

This video’s message is to not let exam results affect your fate. In a “spoken-word” portrayal, one man discusses how we (students) will not use all the things we study in school in the real world, and how what is really important is an education, not a grade point average. The idea is controversial, yet narrowly focused. It is something the audience cares about. The examples he gives are easily referenced by teenagers.

The video itself is not distracting, so the audience listens closer to the lyrics. It also incorporates written text to outline and draw attention to specific points made. The coloring also appears to be chosen for a specific influence (a bold red resembling strength).

I find that if this topic were to be presented in text-form or perhaps in a slideshow, its strength would weaken. Text is generally more boring and may in fact contradict the video’s message of education reform, and slideshows do not allow a vocal presence.

Though the format of the discussion is non-traditional, the content of the poem/rap did appear accurate. Despite my own personal political beliefs, I would certainly declare this a new form of journalism.

In reference to Carl Bernstein, Upworthy is by no means afraid to make a splash.

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The importance of sound

The importance of sound

They call it being a visual learner right? The idea that one can better interpret material and retain it by being witness to visual stimuli?

 

Then why do viewers pay more attention to content with audio? Particularly, natural sound.

 

This thought has been on my mind a lot lately. As a natural debater, I just could not find myself aligning with these principles…. until now.

 

This work, done by The New York Times, is titled “Illegal Logging Thrives in Peru, Environmentalists Say.” Now before I even go into the lesson I’ve learned, and ramble on about how this work proved me wrong, that headline… it diminishes their credibility in the sheer fact that they feel they must attribute it so prominently. I understand its purpose, but find it would fit better later on, it does not lure me to the slideshow, which has FANTASTIC SHOTS.

The photographs are unique. The coloring often sets the tone, and no one shot appears similar. The photos’ order, though I am unsure if it is purposeful, tells a story from one angle to the next. A rare, but interesting take from the usual chronological style. The captions are short and for a tough topic to cover, are simplistic enough to allow some take-away. What this story is lacking however, is crucial audio. I cannot say I was satisfied with just images. I wanted to hear that chainsaw tearing down trees and hear the cries of people from the community affected by it. I guess I wanted something real. And just looking through the eyes of a subject, you can tell there is a deeper story than what meets the eye.

 

That, I’m afraid is what audio is for.

 

If I were to do this piece as an assignment, I would not change one thing regarding the content and quality of the images, but instead would record and report on the multiple perspectives from the community. It could take a more humanistic angle. Telling viewers over seas, why THEY should care.

 

But alas, perhaps one day I too will receive the opportunity to report abroad.

Until then —

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The Daisy Ad (1964)

Its not often that advertisements are picked apart piece by piece. They typically air in 30 second increments, and in my opinion, that’s just enough time to grab your attention and be visually stimulated. It’s not however, enough time to digest details of a package and interpret its effect. One of the greatest examples of the impact advertisements can have is within a campaign video.

The “Daisy Girl” ad was supportive of President Johnson’s campaign against Gary Goldwater. Though the classic image of the little girl picking the petals of the flower seems simple and romantic, in actuality its message is not. Followed by an mushroom cloud, this ad is a dig towards Goldwater’s stance toward using atomic bombs. Simple, yet it says so much. Unlike voters, Goldwater and his advisers took the message as it was implied, a diss to his name. He sued, despite the fact that Johnson never once included his opponent’s name.

Its not often that we see such compelling advertisements. And when we do, its for retail and consumers rather than seeking voters to the voting booths. The Daisy ad was so unique to the age that many people claim to have seen it run over and over again on television, though after Goldwater’s lawsuit filing, it was stripped from television. It only aired once!

Though I am no master in strategic communications I find I’ve learned a crucial message through taking the time to stop and interpret this ad. Like Daisy, messages should be simple but layered. Sometimes a single image or phrase can communicate more than expected. It also reminds me to never underestimate my audience, but to anticipate their interpretation.

Some may argue that advertising seems misplaced within the journalism school. But at its core are the same values as of those placed into all multimedia.

As a voter I hope to look for advertisements that reach viewership with a strong and rememberable message, one that uses suggestion rather than direct finger-pointing, one that is subtle but significant.

And for that, I thank Daisy.

On “dead” news days

All personal judgements aside on Miley Cyrus. This one’s against ABC.

On Oct. 7 the news organization posted a link: [ http://abcnews.go.com/Health/miley-cyrus-tongue-health/story?id=20497613 ] to its Twitter account.

Now I know one should never rest all faith in a news organization, but I find that ABC does a nice job with news coverage. It has nice interactive graphics, make its broadcasts simple and pays more attention to getting the news right than to getting it out first.

But this article, under the headline: What Miley Cyrus’ Tongue Says About Her Health, is outrageous. It’s by no means newsworthy. It does not apply to ABC’s audience and uses a legitimate source (a doctor from NYU) in a poor light. I am not sure if the article is meant to inform or generate laughs.

 

From a journalist perspective the multimedia is fitting to the headline, but not much of the written content. Miley Cyrus is used as a brief segway into a longer and deeper issue of detecting cancers by analyzing one’s tongue. It is suggestive, and if not read carefully, could mean accusations and invalid evaluations of Cyrus’ tongue.

This piece of journalism is a reminder to me that we, journalists, do not go out looking for stories, but let stories come to us. Or else we too will face the ridicule on Twitter, mocking our story choice. Just because there is no big headline-worthy news, does not mean a journalist can put two stories together like a mismatched puzzle.

 

If I had to guess, the clicks to this content are solely based on the fact that Cyrus is involved. If we put a non-celebrity name on the headline the content is no longer appealing.

 

Though an interesting attempt to blur lines and mesh entertainment, news and science together, it does not work well for ABC. But again, perhaps if this serves as a wake-up call for some people (lured to the article through big names) it did some justice.

 

Note to audience: I did make it through this entire article.

Note to self: re-evaluate where I get my news from.

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Perfect – By ESPN

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=8450488

One of the best multimedia projects I have ever seen. Telling the story of Heath White, a FBI agent, former pilot and marathon runner and his confession.

Quick overview of his story: Heath was, by most peoples’ definitions, perfect. He graduated college with a 4.0, played sports, got a license and married his high school sweetheart. He had a healthy baby girl in 2005. His wife was pregnant again in 2006. With early testing they discovered their daughter Paisley had Down Syndrome. Heath confesses he tried everything he could to convince his wife to have an abortion. She couldn’t do it. When Paisley was born Heath felt disconnected from his family. He stopped running marathons. He was ashamed at not being perfect and couldn’t understand why this had happened to him. It wasn’t until he was tickling Paisley, and she giggled and smiled that Heath realized she was just like any other kid. To show his pride he began running again, only this time with Paisley (via stroller). He has come a long way he says, and knows his confession of his true feelings will hurt his daughter some day. But, he says, if he can convince a father out of feeling the way he did and making the wrong decision, it will be worth it.

Some multimedia notes to pay attention to while watching the video:

1. This was put together by ESPN. I know ESPN has gifted photographers, videographers and writers but this sort of feature and soft news material was unexpected. But! Exactly what this industry needs. The relation to sports was subtle, the true message not as relatable, but it widened its audience and challenged its normal viewers to think beyond the scope of a scoreboard.
2. Audio. What excellent work of silence. Using pauses as Heath explained his emotions made the story come to life. It drew attention to video detail behind the audio. Natural sound complemented the video and aided in the story-telling. We heard Paisley laugh when Heath spoke of her laughter. There was raw video of Heath’s proposal to his wife and collected photographs from his past runs/her ultrasound that fit as visuals. There was also no background noise that was unnecessary such as a reporter playing with the camera or fidgeting.
3. Video. Lots of angles. The videographer clearly spent time with the family in multiple settings allowing for such variety. He/she collected old footage as well which was crucial to understanding Heath’s obsession with perfection. The time lengths of video varied and the range of focus (depth of view) did as well. Video was laced with voice-overs. The quality overall was fantastic and the characters weren’t looking directly into the shots making them all the more natural and realistic.

It is inspiring work like this that makes me want to study convergence journalism.

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