Upworthy breathes life into content

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

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 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.

Perfect – By ESPN

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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“I Killed a man.” A YouTube Confession Gone Viral

Step 1. If you haven’t watched the video already, you should.

Through class, I have learned the importance of having a vast variety of media forums. The basic ones are familiar, but some I find applicable yet underestimated. One of which is YouTube, a website designed in 2005 for video-sharing: uploading, viewing and commentary. Though started by a group of former PayPal employees, the medium is widespread, reaching a large audience and fairly simple to navigate.

I have reason to believe the the size of the audience and the easy accessibility YouTube has provided the perfect place for Matt’s confession.

The video, which starts off with an adapted voice and pixelized video, is unique and draws viewers’ attention to the words being spoken, rather than to physical characteristics. If listened to closely, Matt, the confessor himself, acts as his own whistle blower, speaking about lawyers who told him he could get off with no charges after killing a man while driving drunk one night. Though there have been claims that the apology is not sincere, as it was scripted, the words chosen were done so with care, each meaning something and adding to the story.

The video translates into reality at just the right moment. The change away from pixelation and voice adaptation fits right with Matt’s personal introduction.

I think the decision to solely include Matt, opposed to other visuals, perhaps on the crash or the deceased, puts a spotlight on one man’s story/perspective.

And it was timely, as just days after the video got its millionth hit he was arrested. And he followed through with pleading guilty.

This story highlight was in particular fascinating because Matt is just an average boy. It is conflicting because it is both tragic and heroic. The video lets you decide for yourself.

YouTube allows for open commentary, which of course was followed with open discussion. And thoughts were not censored.

Critics of the video call it a political strategy to get sympathy from the judge, but from a journalistic standpoint all I can say is that it is influential, started a movement and a video that has brought a new perspective to justice.


A look at the inspiration

Featuring Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

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