Archive for the ‘Multimedia’ Category

Shooting video an edge for print?

January 7, 2008
Joe Cavaleri


That’s a question that crossed my mind yesterday when I started writing my story on Ooh Aah, the University of Arizona superfan. The result was quite interesting. Although I jot down most images when I’m solely writing a print story, it was interesting to note that the video I captured was truly helpful when recapping Ooh Aah’s performance.

I think that multimedia is extremely important and that newspapers should pick up on this medium. I won’t say video is the best for print reporters who are trying to do both in all instances — it probably won’t be very good to go back and look at video when on tight deadline — but it was beneficial for my piece. I had a little more time to play with the story.

— Solange Reyner

When audio goes wrong

January 6, 2008


Listening to audio as part of an online story is one of the greatest advantages of the Web. You can get a sense of the subject’s personality and, most important, you get to listen to the interviewee firsthand. But sometimes it can be difficult to get that valuable audio to work, and it can be frustrating if you don’t know the tricks to fix it.

Today, student reporter Yolanne Almanzar successfully reached the writer Gay Talese on the phone, to interview him about one of his most famous subjects, the mafioso Bill Bonanno, who died a few days ago in Tucson.

Getting to talk to a well-known writer who went to many dinners with the late son of the Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno was like hitting the lottery, especially for a rookie reporter. Talese didn’t have a lot of time to give — he was getting ready to travel to Tucson to attend Bonanno’s funeral. But he agreed to answer two questions and gave Almanzar good details about Bonanno’s personality and life.

My job was to produce a brief audio version of that interview, which I thought was going to be an easy job. But when I opened the file on Audacity to edit, the entire interview was distorted; you could hear only a loud noise and a little bit of the author’s voice. Luckily, not all was lost. The Web producers here at The New York Times Student Journalism Institute know the tricks that all multimedia journalists should know.

The first good news I received was the fact that I had set the recorder in the wrong format — I had recorded on WAV instead of MP3, and that made it easier to fix some of the problems.

The file was opened on Audacity, which allows you to erase some of the unwanted noise. After highlighting the audio, you can go to Effects, then click on Noise Removal; after that, you can adjust the removal by choosing Less or More. We tried it more than once until we got the best possible quality. It was not perfect, but at least we can now hear three interesting sound bites about Bill Bonnano’s life from an important journalist.

One of the editors told me Web producers go through this situation very often. He also said that when the audio is bad and what was said in the interview is not that important, it is O.K. not to use it. On the other hand, when you are talking to a famous author like Gay Talese, you have to try to at least make the file audible for listeners — in this case, they’ll probably forgive you for the bad quality.

— Marlene Peralta

Multimedia II: Video

January 4, 2008


“If you’re not totally enchanted by audio, you’ve got video,” said Brent McDonald, a video journalist for The New York Times. The video unit has been one of the fastest-growing sections of the newspaper since its initiation two years ago, as Web video gets more popular every day.

Video stories are handled very much like print stories. The difference is, you have to think visually all the time in terms of details and description. Video stories capture natural sound, images and surroundings that readers can’t necessarily get in writing.

The New York Times uses video to showcase particular parts of a story. Video provides an opportunity to expand on an issue or an idea. It’s also a very effective way to draw people into a story.

After you get a camera, a tripod and some lights if you need them, here are some tips to consider:

  • Not every story is a video story. For a good video story, you first need to get access, and to make sure your sources want to be on camera and can be articulate.
  • In an interview, the subject should be shot at an angle, not looking into the camera. Leave some headroom and some free space around the frame in case the subject moves, to prevent the subject from slipping out of frame.
  • Sound is crucial. A story with excellent images and fair sound is not likely to make it to the Web.
  • When shooting, hold each shot for at least 10 seconds and get as many close shots as possible.

Almost every newspaper throughout the country is hiring video journalists, and reporters without video experience are getting trained. If you know these skills before applying for a job, you’re already a step ahead. So if you can, take your camera and tripod, and hit the streets of Tucson to get those video clips ready.

— Marlene Peralta



Multimedia I

January 4, 2008


First and foremost: Invest in an audio recorder, preferably a high-definition one. Audio and visuals will almost always enhance your story, so learning these skills should be something of a priority, especially if you’re experienced only in print reporting.There are some basic editing programs that every journalist should know about, including Audacity (which is free to download) and Soundslides (which was created by the journalist Joe Weiss and costs $39.95, or $69.95 for Soundslides Plus).

Audacity is mainly an audio editing program, and it’s quite easy to maneuver once you play around with it for a while. Soundslides combines photos and audio, both of which have to be extracted from files on your computer. It’s also quite easy to use once you get the hang of it.Some quick tips when using a voice recorder:

  • Aim for the chin.
  • Don’t let your subject take over the interview.
  • Stay quiet when the subject is speaking.
  • Try to find a quiet place with not much ambient sound.
  • Check your audio before you leave the office or house.
  • Take extra batteries.
  • Avoid the ahs and ums.

And, last but not least: Don’t stick your microphone into the headset outlet!

— Solange Reyner