Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘video’

Whitman, Ala.

In journalism on 6 Jul 2017 at 3:28 pm

Let me ask you a question: What is news? What is the definition of the term? Does it have to have a beginning and an end? Is the inverted pyramid necessary?

Now I’d like to take you to Whitman, Ala. It’s a fictional place invented by a filmmaker and the Alabama Media Group and it’s designed it to tell you something about the people of the state. It’s beautiful. It’s stunning. It’s the kind of thing I want to be doing. And I think it’s both newsworthy in its own right and “newsy.” Here is how the producers explain it:

This is an experiment in using documentary and poetry to reveal the threads that tie us together—as people, as states, and as a nation.

For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall has crisscrossed this deep Southern state, inviting people to look into a camera and share a part of themselves through the words of Walt Whitman. The 19th century poet’s “Song of Myself” is a quintessential reflection of our American identities.

Who is America? The question will always be a difficult one. But if you listen to Alabama’s many voices, you may hear some of the answer.

“For,” as Whitman says, “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

I hear you now. Great, but who has time for this? I have to cover a town council meeting in an hour and Lambert wants to talk to me about a 52-part documentary centered on a poem. This isn’t what I do…

Let me ask you another question: If you don’t have time for something great like this, how are you spending your time? Do all those town council stories add up to the story you see here? Does this not tell us who we are? Isn’t this an exercise in community? Shouldn’t we do things like this? … Read the rest of this entry »


Dare you to watch this

In Ideas on 10 Jun 2016 at 7:19 am

If you are anything like me, you sometimes have trouble coming up with new angles for those annual events. High school graduation, street fairs, Fourth of July parades — they just keep wheeling around the calendar faster and faster the longer you stay in a job.

Perhaps that is why I was so impressed with the above video from Colorado State University. The occasion is graduation, but there is nothing typical about it. The production quality, the sound, the stark setting all work so well. But really it’s the very idea that is so breathtaking.

If you are a parent, I defy you to watch this without choking up.

Recently, CSU social and digital media coordinator Chase Baker wrote about the making of that video and some lessons he learned. It’s well worth your time.

Baker notes that it’s important to take risks, to try something new. He says that relationships matter, and I might add that building relationships with your sources is also important. He talks about details and the importance of drawing out emotions. … Read the rest of this entry »

Easy video editing

In Video on 10 Mar 2016 at 3:23 pm
To see the exciting burrito video, click the link below.

To see the exciting burrito video, click the link below.

This week I played with my phone. Which makes me the world’s oldest teenager. I had a legitimate business purpose. I swear.

Wick CEO Francis Wick asked me to download Tout, a video editing app that is used by GateHouse Media and many other bonafide news agencies. Having accomplished that, I felt obligated to try it out.

And I had a little trouble, to be honest. The audio of my video didn’t match the level of the audio recorded in the field. I couldn’t figure out how to stitch together more than three photos or videos. It took forever to load. I am absolutely sure all of that is a function of my lack of experience with the application. I’m going to keep at it and I hope you’ll download it and see what you can do as well. It’s free.

Videolicious is an app I found easier to use. I made this video while I was walking to lunch. OK, it shows. But it was very simple to make a couple very short videos, record a voiceover, add some stock music and download it so that it can be embedded on Facebook, Twitter or our website. I promise I’ll be using it as I cover stuff in the field. I think it is a nice bit of added value for readers. … Read the rest of this entry »

This is how it’s done

In Video on 15 May 2015 at 8:18 am


Sometimes, as editors, we make the mistake of thinking anyone under the age of 30 is born shooting great video. Son, just go out there with your phone whatsit-thingy and come back with something suitable for the nightly news!

Well, good video, like good writing and good gumbo is hard work and takes practice. It takes a thoughtful approach, the right equipment and the time to make it happen.

Last week I sang the praises of Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald reporter Erin Carson’s video from the scene of a drowning. I have since had the opportunity to talk to her about her process and wanted to share some insights.

Learn what you are doing. Erin has a journalism degree from Indiana University. Her concentration was broadcast and global news and her training shows. That video from Gaston Dam was clearly not her first rodeo. I’m sure she would be the first to tell you, that some training is a big help. You don’t need a four-year degree. Heck, you can search for video techniques in YouTube to turn up some helpful hints. … Read the rest of this entry »

Why video hasn’t worked for us … yet

In Video on 31 Jul 2014 at 4:11 pm
Former Tampa Bay Times journalist Lucy Morgan, multitasking in 1985. That is the year she won a Pulitzer for investigative reporting

Former Tampa Bay Times reporter Lucy Morgan, multitasking circa 1985. She won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting that year.

There is a fascinating Q&A in the New York Times Insider this week. (I’d link to it, but it’s part of the premier edition and you have to pay to see it.) It’s a discussion with Bruce Headlam, who is the newspaper’s managing editor for video.

Headlam is candid about the challenges editors have faced trying to insert video into what has been heretofore a print culture, and he makes some very important points about the trouble with online video generally:

“We talk a lot about ‘the digital newsroom’ at The Times, but in truth, video is just about the most linear experience we offer,” he says. “Even in the print paper, I can scan an article, look at the headline, the photos, the graphics and even the byline to assess what I’ll get, and I can do all that in a couple of seconds. But video is much more of a crapshoot for viewers. They get only a headline and thumbnail before they commit themselves. There’s no unplanned encounter with a video as there is with print or online stories.”

That is an outstanding point. For video to work, viewers have to commit to it in a way that they don’t in print or text. Ad a 30-second preroll advertisement and you really have to want to see that three-minute news video. For that reason, I almost never watch a video of any kind on sites like espn.com. To counter that linear bias, Headlam says he’s careful to make headlines sing and the first few seconds of video “grab viewers by the lapels.”

OK. Stop for a minute. Wick newspapers don’t do video very well, at least not on a consistent basis. There are a few examples in our past of really well produced, labor-intensive edits that are beautiful but probably not worth the effort. And there are many more quickie, largely unedited jerky video stabs that appear to be taken with a cellphone by some sort of zoo animal. I am comfortable with that characterization because some of those videos are mine! These don’t take much effort, but usually they appear unprofessional and don’t get the kind of response we might hope to see. … Read the rest of this entry »

A year on the Vine

In Video on 30 Jan 2014 at 9:57 am

vine pic

It’s been a year since the inception of Vine. You remember Vine as the six-second video deal that is an app for your phone. This site out of the United Kingdom notes some interesting newsroom uses for the platform.

I’d be lying if I said we use it much, but we have used it at the Half Moon Bay Review. I’ve used it to tweet a quick bit of video from a standing-room-only meeting, telling our 1,400 or so followers that they are about to miss a big city meeting. I’ve also taken Vine videos of a spectacular water main break.

As you can see from the above link, there are several kinds of video opportunities – from breaking news to introducing the staff.

I know, I know. Who has time? If you can’t stay apprised of what’s new, you won’t be in this business long. We can’t find ourselves in the position of not knowing how people under the age of 40 communicate on the Web. It’s imperative that you try new things and be open to the possibilities.

Truthfully, Vine is kind of fun. Try it. Explore the goofy videos out there. Think about why some of these videos work and whether there is a storytelling opportunity you are missing, one that will expand your brand and help your readers.


‘I was basically a monster’

In Video on 16 Aug 2013 at 8:09 am


The Sierra Vista Herald did a small but phenomenal thing in order to tease a very good feature in last Sunday’s newspaper. It posted 28 seconds worth of priceless video on Facebook.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Adam Curtis wrote the terrific story, recounting the difficult years of local resident Carlos Yniguez. Yniguez rolled his car 20 years ago and that resulted in facial trauma that required 30 surgeries. His face is still badly scarred, but Curtis makes that face human. It’s a wonderful story about redemption, love, struggle and the stuff of life. Do yourself a favor and read it.

The Herald was not content to simply publish the story in the newspaper and move on. The staff created a very short video allowing Yniguez to tell his own story in snippet form and posted that video on the newspaper’s Facebook page a couple days before the story hit the streets. As you can see, dozens of people “liked” the video and many more commented. It surely created a buzz for the story. Here’s the Facebook page, though you’ll have to scroll around to find it.

The Herald’s treatment is honest, compassionate and just wonderful. It also shows that video needn’t be an all-day hassle. You can create videos like this with a smartphone using apps like Videolicious. Done right, it doesn’t need to take more than half an hour to shoot, edit and post and it sure is effective. … Read the rest of this entry »

Old editor learns new trick

In Video on 14 Jun 2013 at 8:36 am


Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 8.42.05 AM

If you have an iPhone or Android device, you probably download a bunch of apps and actually use a small percentage of them. Games, photo filters, social media things … let’s face it, they come and they go. Very occasionally, I stumble on one that seems like it may make my job easier and enliven my storytelling.

Here’s one to try out. It’s called Videolicious.

The app was mentioned as part of the fallout at the Chicago Sun-Times. Supposedly, management is hoping Videolicious helps reporters “replace” those photographers that were let go. I wouldn’t count on that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful.

I tried my hand at making a short video with the app and it really couldn’t have been easier. (WordPress doesn’t support videos on this format yet, so you have to go here to see it.) Rather than repeat Andrew Beaujon’s entire Poynter post, you can read it for yourself. Essentially, you download the app, select the photos or video, record a little voiceover, save and share.

This is no replacement for high-quality work. (To see the difference between my video and the best work from the Half Moon Bay Review, check out this video of local pianist/artist Mauro Ffortissimo, produced by photographer Charles Russo and former intern Saman Khan.) But it does allow you to shoot a stand-up, a little B roll, add music and edit quickly. If you shell out for the $5 a month business edition, you can even do longer productions.

This may turn out to be one of those apps you forget you have. But you won’t know till you try it.


High school helpers

In Ideas on 3 Aug 2012 at 7:15 am

Recently, while in Montrose, Colo., visiting the Daily Press, I was pleased to meet Cassie Stewart. She is a local teen who is on her second stint with the Daily Press. She hopes to study journalism in college and is way ahead of her peers already. I mention Cassie because of this note that Dan Shearer sent from Green Valley, Ariz. One of my recommendations for the Daily Press is to approach Cassie’s high school about providing a venue for other talented journalism students. Once again, take it away, Dan. – Clay

The Green Valley News & Sahuarita Sun were approached in May by a high school video-arts instructor who said he had a deal for us: Free work from his top student.

We jumped at it.

Zach Jordan, all 16 years of him, has been producing videos for us since early June. He’s getting the hang of interviewing, meeting movers and shakers in town, and even learning what to wear depending on what he’ll be shooting. Much of his work complements a story being written by a reporter. Among his work have been videos to run with reviews of our 11 golf courses (he’s about halfway through) and a local barber in action. He’s currently in the midst of a video on an interesting cemetery in a nearby arts colony.

Zach’s a pro, and recently showed some dedication when he woke up at 6 a.m. to shoot about 30 seconds of a way-too-early-for-a-teenager Chamber of Commerce meeting. We tell him it builds character (and he believes us). … Read the rest of this entry »

The power of video

In Online media on 3 Jun 2011 at 5:32 am

Last weekend and into this week, the story of loss in the Midwest moved to Pierre and Fort Pierre, both places served capably by Wick’s Capital Journal. The spring thaw coupled with rain conspired to overwhelm any management plan for the Missouri River. Consequently, the Oahe Dam proved insufficient and authorities began to release water that would rush into the basin and flood South Dakota’s capital city.

Obviously, the Capital Journal was there. In fact, it’s right in the middle of it. And reporters brought video to the job.

Heather Mangan and Ruth Brown shot video while on the governor’s driving tour of the flooding in Pierre. In another, Heather showed efforts to save an historic school house and Girl Scout cabin. A third – perhaps the most powerful — included a short interview with one resident who talked of his despair over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to increase water releases from the dam.

All of that could have been told with words in the newspaper and on the Internet, but in a story like this, video is a powerful tool. … Read the rest of this entry »