Tag Archives: Journalism

Merging Traditional And Social Mediums To Better Serve An Audience

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Photo courtesy Steve Inskeep's Instagram account: @steve_inskeep.

Photo courtesy Steve Inskeep’s Instagram account: @steve_inskeep.

 

There was a wonderful example of merging-the-mediums storytelling today, 2-4-16, with Steve Inskeep reporting from Tehran, Iran.

First, I got a “publicity” preview and teaser of what Inskeep and his NPR crew were up to in Iran from interesting photos of Tehran’s subway system on Inskeep’s Instagram account. I happen to be particularly intrigued by photos of subway stations and people using them, so the Instagrams caught my attention right away.

Framing his radio story around exploring Tehran’s economic realities on hand, Inskeep wove a fascinating tale of Tehran’s cultural and economic life, and the various divisions of such, through his more traditional radio medium on today’s NPR Morning Edition show. I’m glad I had the visual preview beforehand though, as then I could “go along” with them in a much more visually imaginative way.

I need visual prompts. I’ve never, despite years of work in visual mediums, been all that visually imaginative. I’m a text-oriented person who works (and writes) better with literal prompts and signs and messaging of a more graphical interpretation.

In other words, radio storytelling, especially in a culture and city as intriguing and vital as Tehran, has its limits despite even Inskeep’s mastery of the medium. And he’s nothing if not a visually-minded storyteller and reporter when he’s on the move. Snapping interesting, contextual photos for Instagram (or wherever) clearly was a perfectly natural response to his new geography.

Thus, social media served as a natural enhancement to and for traditional forms of broadcasting. Especially within a place I’ve long been intrigued by and had often heard stories about from relatives who’d lived there ages ago (Shah times). And hope to one day visit myself.

Reporting about a place and a people with an enhanced level of audience comprehension and service can only help forge a stronger, intriguing, and respectful relationship between two cultures.

Loose DeKalb Lips Make Waves (Of Oppression) For AJC

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Ahoy! Botched metaphor. I know.

Loose lips might sink ships, circa 1942, but they never torpedoed any ships of journalism. To the contrary. Lip flappers, whistleblowers, gossips and media whores power and embolden entire journalism empires, causing ships to rise off of copy tides. Just look at the numbers for the Guardian empire lately. Off the charts!

Over in less high profile seas, say here down South, in today’s 1-minute news cycle there really is no such thing as a genuine “scoop” brought about by wildly exclusive information. Except when there (rarely) is, of course.

But don’t tell that to the powers-that-be at the AJC, as they’re lashing any remaining, hardworking reporter-bees left on their deck to the mast and thrashing them mightily, as punishment for having failed to sight enough scoops in their cruddy little scopes.

Two independent sources have now told me how Atlanta Journal & Constitution reporters, good ones, are being “written up” (or threatened with some type of disciplinary action) for failing to bring home the bacon fast enough. Failing to reel in genuine news “scoops.”

(“Scoops” being 100% exclusive 411 about specific, non-public events – but before the event occurs, allowing for a news organization to be first out of the gate on disseminating word of that particular news situation; to “own the story” in other words, something that’s increasingly hard to do in our hyper-connected world unless Edward Snowden or Julian Assange just happens to waltz by your office and dump raw intel on your desk. And “written up” being a documented threat by one’s superior to take away one’s job, rank, authority, paycheck and/or general livelihood should you, the super’s underling, not perform in some sort of, subjectively, better manner.)

Mark Winne at WSB-TV, for example, often gets genuine scoops about soon-to-be-made arrests by various Georgia law enforcement, and is thus frequently the first and only reporter in place for that classic, high-value video, law enforcement-enhancing moment – ye olde perp walk.

Of course it’s one of those open secrets in Atlanta old media circles that Winne’s brother is an FBI or GBI agent (I forget which agency) who tips his family member, Mark, off to lots of special events soon to happen. If that’s the case, they’ve had a lock on a good-visuals franchise for years now, and will continue at that game for as long as the gig works, I suppose.

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Google Glass — Can I Get A Witness?

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Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand gardening. But the first thing that came to mind when I put on Google Glass was my mother’s organic garden.

You won’t catch me outside in broiling 98-degree southern humidity struggling to hack through a dense, painfully stinging row of okra, or pulling nasty, squirming wormy things off dozens of tomato bushes. No siree! But you will catch my mother doing that crazy stuff. For hours on end, day after day, week after week, throughout the south’s high summer months.

That said, if you can get past the oppressive heat and humidity there really is no more verdant and glorious vision of bounty, robust health and natural beauty than a southern organic garden at its summer harvesting peak.

Thus the thought of me strolling, beatifically wired, through rows of an organic garden in full, wearing a pair of Glass with my mother narrating the purvey and provenance of every lush plant and vegetable, set my pan-media-tuned mind into high and sunny gear.

Who wouldn’t want to document and share that kind of rich media in our connected world? To be fresh content-enabled, breezily so, by merely putting on glasses, something I’ve done every day since I was 7-years old anyway.

One of the great things about living near the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech, of course) is participating in some of the innovations and events churned from there. Whether beta testing products in development, networking, attending concerts or lectures, there’s a wealth of experience and knowledge available to the university’s surrounding community, so last night (July 11) I hopped over to nearby startup nurturer, Flashpoint on West Peachtree Street.

There, Randy J. Mitchell, the founder and CEO of Plisten, along with Google and Hypepotamus, hosted a meetup for Google Glass developers and designers. My friend/mentor and sometime colleague, veteran political reporter Tom Baxter, who’s always up for some new media-creation adventures, tagged along too.

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Skewed Georgia Political Journalism On Most All Georgia Media Farms

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There is a good bit of chatter (on Facebook) about Nikema Williams’ excellent decision to open-up the process of electing a new Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG) chair to more than white male-only candidates.

A little background… seems there was something in the DPG’s by-laws about if a white male (or black woman presumably, or whatever was the most matchy-match) was serving as chair of the party and left that post early, then the person to fill the chair/leadership void would have to share not just a similar but also an identical demographic. Such as also being a white male, as was Mike Berlon, of course, who recently and unceremoniously left the chairpersonship of the DPG.

So Ms. Williams has changed the chairpersonship rules up a bit, in her interim, between-chairs-role and duty. And that’s ok, ‘far as I’m concerned.

But what concerns me as a writer/editorialist, and also as a pan-media and prolific content provider (of more than mere text, in other words), much more than the fate of DPG leadership, is the dearth, lack, and scarcity of women or minority writers at the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on issues and matters pertaining to Georgia-based politics. And other media outlets too, but let’s start with the most influencial.

DPG rules can change all they care to, and that’s fine. But there are some other unwritten “rules” around this town that need to change too, if you ask me. Which of course no one did.

Oh, but they should. Ask me.

Cox Media Group – Contradiction, Confusion, Clownage

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You’ve all heard and seen it by now. (If you’re in Georgia.) Some expensive, marketeer-driven slogan the Cox Media Farms Group is using to pimp their AJC product. Something about being clear, complete, correct. Three Cs. I forget the exact three Cs, so un-inspired I was by the campaign.

The AJC, the flagship Cox Media Farms Group product according to Wikipedia, is under new leadership. The first bit of non-inspiration out of the new AJC editor, Kevin Riley, was to start banning stuff.

But Riley’s got a sturdy ego, allowing himself a burst of uninspired face time with us *audience*, trotting himself at a nice clip through a newsroom in a particularly awkward moving pictures ad spot. Look busy! Nothing like a campaign of more middle-age white guys trying on *leadership* roles to inspire a Cox-only media consumption movement in the metro Atlanta masses.

(And can they ho-out Mike Luckovitch any harder than they are now at the AJC?! Jeez, they’re gonna break him they keep up this pace. But I diverge.)

Overall, the best part of whatever the heck it is they’re trying to do around the Cox Media Farms Group Of Stuff was a recent interview with their new president, Doug Franklin. (Lot of new, new, new fever around that barn, eh?) Whereby Franklin said this:

One of the things I (Franklin) should point out is that our goal is not to homogenize our media businesses.

Well, could have fooled me as a recent Cox internal memo, now in wide digital circulation, about how to “co-brand” Cox properties, but at the same time not let us out here know about this co-branding stuff, said this:

The decision to co-brand will be determined on the front end, in the story conception meetings between the respective properties. The branding will need to be communicated fully to the newsroom production staffs so they’ll know to use the labels.

Labels and everything too! Already in the pipeline, should the non-homogenization process need to be trotted out. (Cute how they’re still beating that dead print horse too.)

Yes, but us simple, passive, media consumers out here in the A are still not supposed to know there’s a Cox Media Farm Group Of Stuff homogenization effort under way. Again from the internal meme:

As a rule of thumb, most collaboration efforts will NOT be made known to readers/viewers/listeners.

That’s ok, because in the interview with TVNewsCheck Franklin goes on to tell us he will tell us this:

I will tell you that we have recently moved 30-50 journalists from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and they are now housed at the WSB building. We are moving more content people in with the television and radio newsrooms and I think you will see continued increased shared work there. So, yes, we are going down that path, but prudently to make sure we protect the outstanding brands we have in Atlanta.

But who needs to know what they heck it is they’re doing with their various media products, in the name of journalism, when we consumers out here have full access to whatever it is they’re trying to do up there in the C-suite!

You know how to get in touch.

Old Field Producer’s Hurricane Coverage Survival Tips

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1.) Bring a large bag of quarters with you when heading out to the hurricane. Upon arrival, immediately use it to empty out the hotel hallway vending machine before all the other journos get there.

2.) Never leave the hotel. If you must leave, then never leave the crew van. Satellite trucks are preferred vehicles. They don’t blow over too easily.

3.) Satellite truck operators always stash extra rain gear in truck. Steal it when they’re not looking.

4.) If you can’t bring yourself to steal stuff, barter for extra rain gear with booty from vending machines. You’ll need it. Snickers bars are most valuable.

5.) Bring extra AA batteries and extra dry tube socks (men’s). Use for currency to get first feed priviledges from sat. truck operator if only one truck is operational for entire country’s network news providers.

6.) Don’t look in other journos’ hotel rooms. You want to be able to say you know nothing when all of you are returned to civilian life.

7.) Make friends with the fattest first-responder in charge first. They won’t want to have to walk anywhere either, and they may offer you a ride in their super-duper motorized whatever.

8.) Bring drugs, beer and ice. Share only with those who’s hotel rooms have all four walls left.

9.) Law-enforcement will lie their butts off to journalists. For sport. Never trust them for start/end presser times. Or for directions.

10.) Everyone around you will wig-out from stress and sleep-dep long before you do because they all think they’re too important to the disaster recovery effort for sleep. Get your 8-hours and they’ll make you president by Week 2.

11.) Stay on-scene post-hurricane as long as you possibly can. Milk the post-disaster scene for all the dopey, cliched features you can. Your paycheck, once you load all your OT onto your time sheet, will do the happy dance when you do get back.

12.) Never drink until you’ve fed everything to NY. And the sat. truck has powered down. If NY desk calls you to feed something after you’ve started drinking tell them the sat. truck has to save gas for the morning shows.

13.) Buy the hotel bar a round by first or second night on scene. During a hurricane it’ll just be full of other media. They’ll get you back when you’re all still there 10 days later.

14.) Don’t forget to get your mean, grouchy, sleep-deprived cameraperson to get the final shot when all is said and done.

  • EXAMPLE: When Dr. Bob Sheets finally left the broadcast desk at the National Hurricane Center after two solid weeks of around-the-clock coverage before, during and after Hurricane Andrew (in which his own home had been destroyed) one veteran network news producer had the great cinematic sense to order his cameraman to get the shot of Sheets laying down the lav mic and walking away.

15.) Try not to swagger in front of the desk jockeys when you get back to the newsroom.

Under The APS Investigation Atlanta Media Circus Tent

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As I’ve died and gone to Atlanta media circus heaven lately it’s been hard to break away to play ringmaster by providing the necessary, critical blog posts. Facebooking and Twitter alone are about to do me in.

Honestly, I’ve been having too much fun sitting back with my peanuts and cotton candy watching from here in the cheap seats. But someone’s gotta play local TV news farm media critic in this town, other than @RichardsDoug; and there is, of course, no one better qualified to do so than me.

Thus, let me take a moment to pry open the laptop and reflect on just last night’s Atlanta local TV media hightlights and lowlights before I go back in for more. (Thank goodness for that new, 4-5pm block from Channel 2, eh?)

Last night WSB-TV, or WizBee or Death Star Two as it’s called in the biz around here, was on disjointed fire! When they open a 6pm with longtime, hysterical crime reporter Mark Winne (his Facebook fan page is here) rest assured we’re going to be served drama.

The local TV news station that can’t do ’em some news drama, in a city as ragingly dysfunctional as Atlanta, is just dead to me. Otherwise, why bother to exist? Anyway… getting to the point.

Winne led-off with pretty good shrieking over the hilariously mule-headed refusals by a few implicated (now kinda sorta fired) APS school administrators to… go down without a public fight. I think they were bellowing for a publicized *hearing*, whatever the heck that is. Good luck with that tall order.

The best part was a replay of Winne grilling, weeks ago, one of the most mule-headed APS admins fingered in the whole royal cheating mess, Tamara Cotman.

Low and behold, Cotman was, once again, right up in our living rooms. Still looking slouched down and bloated from all the investigatory stress and educator cake she’s been consuming over the years, defensive and sliding down a slippery conference room leather chair slope of no-where-else-to-go prayer.

Cotman was posed in the classic ATL local TV media perp tableau – lawyer on one side, Mark Winne leaning in with a question on the other. Talk about media places you never want to be seen in this town.

Bless her tired, stressed, cake-laden heart. I almost felt sorry for her, as, so far, Jesus has yet to come to her emotional or otherwise rescue. Maybe next year. Keep those prayers and cards and letter coming, Atlanta!

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