Convergence Journalism Content Analysis #8

1.  Tell me the story you watched.
2.  Tell me the advantages you see in telling the story by using video and stills the way he does.  What do you get that you wouldn't get by doing it otherwise?
3.  Tell me the disadvantages.  What's missing by combining video and stills the way he does?
4.  If you were asked (notice I said "if")to do your final project as one piece combining video and stills, how would your story be different? Could you cover both angles or one angle better in a 3-4 minute piece doing it the way Bill did it?  Would it be a better story? Could you be more creative? If so, how? If not, why not? Which way would better serve your viewers--two separate stories or one more like what Bill does?

 

I watched "Holt County Fair."  It seems to me that there's a big advantage in telling a story about a community event like this in both photos and video.  To me, the photos and the video serve different purposes: photos set the stage by emphasizing the tradition and (because the image doesn't move or change quickly) allow the viewer to dwell on the personal or situational characteristics of the county fair.  The still shots are also more aesthetically pleasing: they lend an element of art to the final product while the video gives the traditionalism established by the stills a sort of update.  Without the stills, the project would lack that element of currency.  The two complement one another quite nicely. 

The stills-video format used by Straw Hat Visuals is at an inherent disadvantage when they don't show the people they interview on camera.  As a viewer, I found myself wanting to see the person who was speaking.  I felt that this took away from the project quite a lot.  Had the transitions between stills and video not been pretty smooth, it could have been jarring for a viewer to switch periodically between the two.   

I think my final project would lend itself well to this still-video hybrid format.  Since the youth center that I'm doing it on has something of a history, I could use stills to show that, bringing the story to the current time-frame with interviews and videos of events. The project would be different in that it would integrate the two subjects--the history and the programs at the Key--into one coherent narrative, so I would imagine it would be longer and feel more comprehensive.  I think it would be more creative, because the stills tend to be more powerful than the video footage in storytelling.  Where the stills provide a certain history, the video could give it some life; making it look current rather than retrospective.  I think it might indeed be a better story as one story than as two separate ones.

Convergence Journalism Content Analysis #8

1.  Watch a news story on a local 5 p.m. newscast (tell me what day and what station). Compare the broadcast version with the print version of the story that appears on the station Web site.  Is the Web version a transcription of the broadcast version? In what ways are they alike and in what ways do they differ?

2.  Look and and compare two local TV news Web sites.  How is video presented and organized online? Is it separate or combined with text only versions? How were the stories organized? By story or event? By relative important? By relative timeliness? By some other criterion? Which station did the better presentation of their video?  Why?

1. KSTP's 5 p.m. newscast featured a story about a new set of quarters that are to feature the 56 national parks. The 20-second piece that featured the reporter and a few graphics of the quarters, all that was announced was that the quarters were to come out, which five would be released first and how many would come out per year.  I think this was a smart move on their part: although everyone will see the new quarters, it's probably only a captivating story for coin-collecting audiences (or park aficionados, as in my case).  Online, KSTP chose to pull the story off of the wires from the Associated Press.  The two stories are alike in that the broadcast information was all included in the longer text-only story.  The AP's text story, however, goes into much more depth about how the success of the state quarters prompted the release of the parks quarters, as well as how the demand for quarters has been affected by the economy.  Even if the norm for broadcast Web sites is abbreviated stories, I wonder if this model a quick alert in broadcast, with a more in-depth online story won't continue for limited-interest stories like this one.  It's a serviceable way to report a story because the public can be made aware of the news item, and only those who want to know more about it have to learn the details.

2. At first glance, both KSTP and KARE's Web sites are quite different.  KSTP seems disorganized and busy, with stories and pictures everywhere.  It does, however, include a slideshow (almost looks like it was made in Sound Slides), which is useful in linking the viewer to videos corresponding to the slides.  Overall, I prefer KARE's cleaner Web site because it has news categories across the top--more like the newspaper sites I'm accustomed to.  It also has a more navigable list of top stories with video links.

KSTP presents their text stories alongside the video (which does not play automatically with the page load, thankfully) when the viewer clicks on a story.  I like this format better than KARE's method, which requires that the viewer click on either the video link or the story link.  Furthermore, when I clicked the "watch video" link, it took me to the story and NOT a video--there didn't seem to be video at all for many of the stories that purportedly had it.  For this reason, KSTP clearly had a better video presentation.  As organization is concerned, both KSTP and KARE have stories listed on their site by relative importance.  I think this is a good way to do it.  Since broadcast runs on a time budget, busy people watch TV newscasts to tell them the day's big stories.  I think that when people what a more comprehensive picture and a more in-depth understanding of the day's news, they look to newspapers and newspapers' Web sites.

Convergence Journalism Content Analysis #7

1. Using the STRIB or PIONEER PRESS, choose a story from the front page of today's newspaper (print edition) (tell me the paper and date you
used). Then, using the Fisher Grid from the reading in chapter 4,
identify the dimensions of the story and which elements will work best
for online presentation of the story. Don't create a table to complete
this exercise.  Finally, close your eyes.  What did you see? Smell? Hear? Why did they do this story?


The Star Tribune had an story (March 12) about the federal court strike-down of a new bridge near Stillwater. 

Top 4-5 points of the story:

            1. Plans to build a new bridge over the St. Croix near Stillwater was blocked by a federal judge Thursday because it allegedly violated the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. (Txt)

            2. It is unclear what will happen next in the court process, however, it is suspected that the National Park Service may appeal the ruling. (Txt)

            3. The bridge that currently stands is heavily used, causing car back-ups--sometimes for miles--in the community of Stillwater during rush hour.  This has prompted environmental concerns over pollution caused by idling cars. (Vid or Pix)

            4. Washington County, the Sierra Club and other groups and interests have been fighting over the replacement of the old Stillwater lift bridge for 40 years. (Gfx--perhaps a timeline)

            5. At $668 million, the new bridge would have gone from Oak Park Heights, south of                           Stillwater, to Wisconsin highways near the Stillwater lift bridge. (Gfx--map)

Key interview sources:

            -Gary Kriesel, a Washington County commissioner (Vid)

            -Jim Rickard, Sierra Club Spokesman (Txt)

            -Todd Clarkowski, MnDOT engineer (Vid)

Key data points:

            -As many as 16,000 cars cross the Stillwater lift bridge daily.

            -Construction on the proposed bridge was scheduled for 2013.

            -The bridge construction could have employed 2,800 people.

            -From a proposed cost of $668 million, the cost of the bridge increases by $2 million each month construction is delayed past 2013, according to MnDOT.

 

Textbook Questions:

            I went to high school in Stillwater, so it's easy for me to put myself into this story.   It brings to sight, sound, smell and mind the river town on a summer night--which means high tourism, malts on main street, chatter and a LONG line of cars with angry drivers waiting to cross the bridge to Wisconsin.  The story focuses more on the data than on a characterization of Stillwater.  For that reason, I think the piece would benefit from a 75-second video sketch that characterizes Stillwater and assesses sides of the bridge issue.

            As for the Star Tribune's reasoning behind the story, the line-ups are a fact of life in Stillwater.  They have a huge impact on daily life in the community and I don't think a lot of people--myself included--go beyond the visible problem to understand the tug-of-war between the federal courts, the environmentalists and the county.  It's been going on for so long that everyone seems to ignore it, but there's still a lot at stake.  There are opposing sides to the issue, and each creates its own set of problems: If the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act's blocks the construction of the bridge, it exacerbates Stillwater's problem with long lines of idling cars--environmental and economic concerns that potentially hurt tourism.  The outcome of the bridge story has an impact on the Star Tribune's primary audience as well because the St. Croix feeds into the Mississippi.  St. Croix river towns' stewardship of the river therefore has a larger environmental and community impact.  That's why it's an important story.

Convergence Journalism Content Analysis #6

1.  Look at the front page of today's newspaper (Daily, Strib or Pioneer Press). Which headlines do you think would work well online and get you to click through the story, and which would not work well.  Explain your reasoning in no more than 100 words for each headline.  Tell me which newspaper and date you used.

2.  Take the lead story from today's Daily (tell me the day you used) and summarize it in fewer than 160 characters (not words--and, spaces count as characters).  Ask a friend if he or she thinks that's enough to know what's going on. Did they or didn't they?  Why or why not?

1.

            I looked at the Minnesota Daily's front page for March 4.

            The unclear headline, "University officials consider furloughs" would not convince me to click through the story--are the officials considering the implementation of it or considering the fact that they will be taking days off?  Fortunately, the summary paragraph underneath provides some clarification.  It also lacked catchiness: I think the bold typeface was what directed my eye to it rather than its substance.  If it were online, a more complete sentence structure like "University officials consider unpaid days off for staff" might have worked better.

            I liked "Professor ratings aid students in class selection."   One thing that makes it a good headline for the Web is searchability--if I were looking for stories about class selection on a search engine, this would be likely to come up with the search term "professor rating."  The Daily did not provide a summary paragraph, but it didn't need one--the headline gave the reader a good enough idea of the article's subject matter.  It's concise enough for print, but complete enough for the less-space-constricted Web.

            "Prominent agronomy professor to retire at age 70"?  Yawn.  I didn't bother to read that story when I picked up the paper this morning.  Having read it now, I found that since it's not hard news, I'd appreciate a more featurized headline. Not cheesy, just eye-catching.   The story, too, could use a breath of life.  It has about as much of the human aspect as its headline--I don't feel like I know anything about the man except his accolades.  Maybe he wasn't a very magnetic personality, but the story could have benefitted from a more human focal point--which may have yielded a better headline.

            Disinterest in sports--not headline quality--is to blame for my skeptical glace at "NCAA study spurs rule changes to protect athletes from injuries."  I found it to be a good, clear picture of what appeared in the story.  Like the professor ratings story, the headline was complete enough that the article didn't need a summary paragraph under its headline. It would also transfer nicely to the Web because the headline is highly searchable.  If I entered the terms "NCAA" or "athlete injuries" it would be likely to appear on a search engine. 

            While the article "Lawmakers, safety organizations discuss distracted driving" best captures my interest, it could benefit from the addition of the word "and" in place of the comma to make it read better on the Web--a minor scruple.  Otherwise, the headline tells the reader what they will be reading about quite effectively.  The summary paragraph adds some specifics.  I give it an A.

            Given the fact that most of the Daily's headlines were Web-friendly, I wonder if they were written with the intention of winding up online.  If this is the case, the question might be raised as to whether the headline lingo used is more closely-related to online journalism or a hybrid of print and online to make it translate more easily to either medium.


2.

            The March 4 story in the Daily about distracted driving can be summarized by "Minnesota legislators are trying to cut down on distracted driving caused by technology"--that's 70 characters.  A friend commented that this seemed like it was about time they put some legislation into making the roads safer.  When further probed about the completeness of the summary, she said it was important to specifically include "Minnesota" to clarify the local aspect, because the federal government has been talking about similar actions for vehicles that the federal government has the jurisdiction to regulate. 

JOUR 3102 Content Analysis #5

1. Compare a Web site for a national news organization with that of a local news organization.  How does the content differ?  How much national material is on the "local" Web site?  How much local content is on the "national" Web site?  If you could only view one, which one of the two would you go to for the news you'd want to know, and why?

2.  Analyze a Web site for a local television station or newspaper, looking at aesthetic and ethical issue.  For each, make a list of what each does well and what YOU would do differently based upon what you learned from your chapter 9 reading.


            The Web sites of National and Minnesota Public radios are an interesting comparison, because MPR gets most of its national content from NPR. I've found that while MPR is mostly local content, it makes the effort to cover important national stories--the same ones that make headlines on NPR--from a Minnesota point of view wherever possible. For example, the Toyota recall is one of the big stories on both pages, but MPR's story focuses on a local man who will be cleared of murder charges if he can prove that his deadly car accident was the fault of his Toyota vehicle. The health care summit is big news on both pages, but MPR put a Minnesota-related General Assistance Medical Care story side-by-side, in order to report the close-to-home Minnesota angle of the health care happenings.
Since nothing of national note has happened in Minnesota today, it's not surprising that there is no local material on NPR's Web site. In a graceful balance, MPR does a good job of reporting both the national news and what it means for its own audience by putting a Minnesota focus on many national events or nearby to subsidize it. If I could view only one of these sites, I would look at MPR because it reports the local, the national and sometimes the local component of the national stories.
            MinnPost seems to have its aesthetics down pat. The color scheme--Minnesota maroon and gold--is consistent throughout. With the news site's adherence to colors, ads stick out enough that the viewer can instantly identify them as ads and ignore them at will--which is nice. It doesn't seem like the site is enslaved by its ads, like some of the local newspaper sites, (I've often had trouble locating the search bar under a mountain of ads on the Pioneer Press site). The font is big enough and spaced enough that each headline and the summary of the story is easily accessed by the viewer's eyes. One thing I find interesting about the setup of site is that they went with the blog format--the viewer does a lot of scrolling to see the front page. When MinnPost was created, I feel like this was something of a gamble, but now that so many people get their news from blogs and the Internet, it has probably become a non-issue. Consistent with its blog layout, the site relies more on blogs--the news cloaked in opinion--to deliver its wares. As long as readers understand this, I don't feel like it's an ethical concern, but if people think there aren't biases, they have a problem.  
            If I were in charge of MinnPost, I would keep the aesthetics. I would make it clearer when news items were written through the lens of opinion, however.

JOUR 3102 Content Analysis #4

Principles:
1.  Stress the visual: (provide and discuss example of how reporter used weaved sight and sound together; did it work? why or why not?)
2.  Stress the moment: (provide and discuss example of how  the reporter uses broadcast writing style to achieve this principle; could it have been done better? if so, how?)
3.  Stress the simple: (provide and discuss example of what the reporter did to use this principle to help the viewer process the information in the story) 


WCCO News
February 17, 2010--5 p.m. newscast
John Croman
Union Depot Renovation

1. The package was centered on a press conference given by St. Paul city officials, because funding has been approved for the renovation of the historic Union Depot to be used as a hub for light rail transit. Therefore, much of the audio came from talking heads. A few outdoor shots of Union Depot were complemented by natural car sounds that made it clear that the depot is in the heart of the city. Given the tighter shot the station used, the depot's locale may not have been otherwise apparent to unfamiliar viewers. The camera's pan of the city's on-paper renovation diagrams was an effective way to show viewers exactly what would happen to the depot. Later, Cronon appears with toy train cars from "Thomas the Tank Engine" imitating various political arguments about the financing of the renovation. Quite frankly, this looks both sloppy and unprofessional. His child's play detracts from the apparent news value of the story and makes WCCO look less credible.

2. Though the plans to renovate the depot and the press conference had happened that day, the nature of this story didn't lend itself to "live and breaking news," because the Union Depot renovations won't be complete for years to come. The impact of the story lies more in the fact that a historic building will function as a hub for 21st century transit. I don't think this could have been made to look much more urgent, but I think a tighter story (see response to part three) would have made it look like a much more important news for the city of St. Paul.

3. An inverted pyramid style summary of the important facts of the renovation and a short history of Union Depot that followed a simple chronology were understandable on the whole. But Croman took the reins, and his breakdown of political arguments using toy train cars went too far to simplify the story for the viewer--making the fact that the renovation's funding look like a joke. Though the fact that there was debate was important, the story could have been more effective with a reporter that told the facts without getting into the politics--or the toy trains.

A simple assessment of the history of Union Depot, the renovations' funding, the subsequent press conference, and the outcome would have been less of an embarrassment. Furthermore, it was detrimental to the viewers' processing of the story--a viewer might think they know all about this project, when in fact, they have seen an oversimplification. If it had stuck with "just the facts," this package would have also taken less time (it ran at two minutes long), and made WCCO look more credible as a news organization.

JOUR 3102 Content Analysis #3

1. Watch a TV newscast and then find the same story in the day's
national newspaper (New York TImes, USA Today). What differences do you
find in the use of names, attribution and other details? How does the
lead differ? Can you find a nut graf in either one?  Be sure to tell me which newscast and provide a text link to the national newspaper article.
1. Watch a TV newscast and then find the same story in the day's
national newspaper (New York TImes, USA Today). What differences do you
find in the use of names, attribution and other details? How does the
lead differ? Can you find a nut graf in either one?  Be sure to tell me which newscast and provide a text link to the national newspaper article.


            Michelle Obama is spearheading a campaign to end childhood obesity that includes an executive order committed to the campaign, signed on Tuesday.  The New York Times and  the 5 p.m. WCCO News both covered the story.

            The bulk of both stories' quotes came from from a "Let's Move" campaign press conference held by Michelle Obama.  While the New York Times did not explicitly say this, the quotes that appeared in their stories were the same ones run on WCCO.  As attribution goes, The New York Times had more of it because it had some history on the issue as well as policy details.  For WCCO, the main news event was the signage of the act itself, and not the background information that appeared in the New York Times.

            The lead in the WCCO broadcast could be considered a bare-bones version of the one in the New York Times.  Where WCCO announced the who/what/where/when quickly, the New York Times added some of the specifics--what would happen as a result of the executive order.

            The second graf in the print story is clearly the nut graf--it ties together the Michelle Obama star power aspect and the childhood obesity issue as it relates to the act.  In doing so, it tells the reader exactly what happened and why it's important.  The second thing WCCO anchor said had the same effect.  A shot of the signing of the act played over the anchor's voice, showing the viewer what happened.  I'm not surprised that their nut graf techniques were similar because it was highly effective.

JOUR 3102 Content Analysis #2

1. Take a story from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press or a local TV report
within the last week about a government or civic issue. Now, put
yourself in the position of a multimedia reporter. What parts of the
story would like to actually see? Hear? Read more about?

2. Outline those multimedia elements you believe increase your desire to see, hear, or read more about something. For instance, do you need a map to be able to tell where something is? Do you want to see or
hear those angry neighbors protesting a tax increase? Do you want
to actually read the parking law the city now says it will vigorously
enforce?

3. Identify a concept in Chapter 2 the author says that you agree or disagree with and then explain why you do or don't agree with it.

 

            The Star Tribune's Wednesday cover story was emphasized the personal loss of General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) in profiles of low-income Minnesotans who will be switched to MinnesotaCare, a plan with caps on coverage and insurance premiums, on March 31.

            The story worked well in print. It put the reader in the place of the retired concrete worker and low-income cancer victim that it profiled with pictures and quotes, supplementing these personal aspects with the policy information that the reader needed to know to get a better understanding of the story.  In my opinion, however, the story could have packed more punches in broadcast.

            A major disadvantage of print is that, while the stories of these people are very compelling and well-told in the paper, it would effect me more to be able to step into the context of their situation by seeing their conditions first hand--the shelters and the subsidized housing, rather than reading about it.  I want to hear them tell their story to me--reading about is more like learning it through a mediator.  That's why I think this story would lend itself well to broadcast.

            I think that an unfortunate aspect about seeing this in broadcast would be the loss of some of the policy aspects.  For this reason, I think the ideal multimedia package for this story is an online article with videos of the interviews.  It could retain its informative aspects while giving people a personal context of the people who were profiled.

            I like it when multimedia news outlets supplement their stories with documents that increase my understanding of the issue at hand.  In the case of this story, the Star Tribune's website has a summary of notable GAMC facts in the sidebar to the right of the story.  After I read the story, this gave me a quick summary of its underpinnings.  

            I agree with the textbook authors that with the advent of online journalism, good graphics are becoming more important.  I agree that simplicity, clear attribution and the ability to stand alone are important components of story-accompanying graphics in order to boil down the important information for the readers.  Sometimes there seem to be graphics in stories that take more time to interpret than reading the story itself.  

JOUR 3102 Content Analysis #1

1. Look at how the same story is covered in your local newspaper, on a
local television newscast, and on the web site of both the newspaper
and the television station. How do these stories differ in depth? How
are visuals used in each medium? Is the Internet just repeating the
content from other media, or does it include unique content?

        The Department of Transportation banned commercial drivers from texting while driving nationally on Tuesday. As a highway user, I'm ecstatic about this development. I'm only disappointed that news outlets didn't raise awareness by making a bigger deal of it--it wouldn't hurt for texting while driving to be banned for all drivers.
            Of all the media channels that I followed the story in, the Star Tribune newspaper had the most comprehensive story. This may have to do with the fact that they didn't have to break the news, having published the story the day after it happened. The Star Tribune's six-graf story included a bit of history on the issue, noting that Obama recently banned government employees from texting while driving, as well as a briefing on Minnesota's texting and driving laws. It balanced quotations from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with the American Truck Association's response to the law. This story included a sidebar graphic that highlighted the important statistics, along with a picture of a person texting.
WCCO's news at 5 p.m. Tuesday gave a minute-long snapshot of the story. Because of the nature of broadcast, it is unsurprising that WCCO didn't go into the same detail that the Star Tribune did. Most of the visuals were stock footage of cars and trucks on the highway, but the story also included footage from an interview with the transportation secretary. It contained what I consider to be the most important facts from the Star Tribune's article. At the end, the anchors encouraged viewers to share their thoughts on WCCO's website.
           The Internet sites of both the Star Tribune and WCCO gave stripped-down and repetitive versions of the story. The Tuesday story on the Star Tribune's website, however, added an analogy that I thought would have been poignant in broadcast: that texting while driving at 55 mph is often the equivalent of driving a football field without looking at the road. Neither site makes impressive use of graphics. The Star Tribune's site lacks them, providing only a link to the Transportation Department and a comment box in the way of interactive Web features. WCCO's site has a photo of a cell phone and also allows comments. I'm surprised that the Star Tribune hasn't turned their more comprehensive print-version story into a Web-friendly multimedia story yet.

Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

by Greta Kaul           

            Computer-assisted reporting gave legitimacy to claims made by a NICAR report conducted by USA Today that found the Army hiring retired generals and admirals with ties to defense contractors.

            Rather than making claims without concrete support, the investigation accessed Army records that found financial records of ties to defense contractors by 80 percent of 158 retired senior mentor generals and admirals.  Where computer skills are concerned, this reporting would require considerable knowledge of the organization of databases, as well as an understanding of how to find connections between things like senior mentors and their financial ties.  The ability to interpret these facts to come to the conclusion is what the credibility of this story depends on, at which the investigation excels.