Monday, December 21, 2009
She started the site when she was new to the city, and used it to record her discoveries about her new home. She now has between six and 10 thousand unique visitors per month, and receives far more story suggestions than she can keep up with on her own.
She has decided to take on a number of interns and to redesign and expand the site. She says we will work on group projects as well as individual assignments. She plans to schedule a team meeting soon so that we can all meet each other and to discuss the plans in more detail.
I think this is going to be a great opportunity for me to get experience with local, non-commercial, multimedia journalism, and work with some like-minded people.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
After playing around with it a bit, I've found that your results will vary. Sometimes you'll get entries from multiple dictionaries and a thesaurus, sometimes just one basic dictionary definition. Results for proper names are mixed: selecting the Beatles yields entries from Columbia Encyclopedia, the Fine Arts Dictionary, and WordNet, but nothing comes up for film score composerHans Zimmer or the recent film "The Dark Knight." Nothing comes up for "Skyping" and "cougar" has only one definition (which does not apply to the word's use in the article).
It's an imperfect tool, but I imagine it will improve with time. Innovations like this are what make the New York Times website one of the best news sources. The New York Times is one of the few big papers that has truly embraced the move to digital and is using new technology to make news more accessible. Rather than dumbing down the writing to reach a broader audience, the paper (news entity? news organization?) continues to produce thought-provoking, original stories, and has simply made it easier for readers to look up the words they don't know!
The New York Times, like all legacy media, has faced and will continue to face many challenges as technology and the demands of consumers change, but has demonstrated that it is pragmatic and adaptable, and I believe that it will continue to be one of the most respected and widely-read national news sources.
The New York Times' website is more appealing than the print paper, not just because it is free and easy to access, but because it encourages and rewards its readers' curiosity in ways a print edition never could. If anything, this is evidence that the future of journalism is not the bleak, watered-down drivel that many fear it will be. If those who truly care about good journalism work towards using new tools to make news better, rather than seeing them as a threat, the journalism of the future could be far better than any we have known.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
After much discussion, the group decided as a next step to break into two subgroups, which will work on the organization's values, and on researching existing non-profit news organizations, respectively. Both subgroups plan to meet again in the next couple of weeks to get started, and the whole group will get back together at the end of January to report back on what has been accomplished, and to select a name for the organization. One member also volunteered to meet with a lawyer to discuss filing for 501C3 status.
There was also discussion of merging the group with another breakout group from WMTM. This group, headed by Think Out Loud host Emily Harris, is focused on local investigative journalism, and seemingly has a lot of overlapping goals with our group.
Other things we discussed that will begin to take shape over the next few months are constructing a business model and putting together a board of directors.
We elected Colin Lovett, who put together a Google site for the group, chair, and I volunteered to be secretary. My meeting minutes should make future blog posts about our meetings easy.
Monday, December 7, 2009
We are meeting with our actors at noon tomorrow to get the last few shots we need, and then we can focus on editing (and our other finals). I have a paper for my Media Aesthetics class due on Tuesday, and then I can devote all my time to the short films.
I'm really happy with how both of them are looking and am pleasantly surprised at how well the members of my group work together. We're hoping to get the last of our editing done on Wednesday, so that we can relax and start celebrating before our class screening on Thursday evening.
I'm usually nervous before showing final projects, but so far I'm feeling pretty good about these, even with quite a bit of work still ahead of my group. I suppose because it's a group project, I don't feel like there's quite so much attention on me, but I think a big part of it is that I am finally starting to feel like I know what I'm doing. Even earlier this term I felt overwhelmed even with relatively small projects, but this time, once I got focused, I really felt like I knew exactly what needed to be done.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
I watched some footage with Jenica, one of my group members, and discovered that the first few minutes of one of our tapes is useless. Not sure what's wrong with it, but it's really jerky and the sound is distorted. The footage was from our interview with the University president and our establishing shots of Johnson Hall where we met with him. We shot the interview on two cameras, so as long as we got decent sound on the other one, we should be okay. If not, we'll only have half the interview to select sound bytes from. We will definitely have to reshoot the establishing shots, but that shouldn't take long. We are very fortunate that Johnson is right by Allen Hall, so we won't have to haul equipment all the way across campus.
I think we're going to try to get one more interview next week and then we can start editing this project and start shooting our dramatic short, which is due at the same time.
I've asked Rose and Tim from UFO to be our actors, but haven't figured out our shooting schedule. Tim sprained his ankle the other day, so I'll have to find out if he's still going to be able to do it. I also need to finish writing the last scene this weekend and get a storyboard together.
This class really takes up a lot of my time, but I think it's worth it. At this point I'm feeling much more comfortable with the equipment than I did at the beginning of the term. I feel pretty confident about my shooting abilities. I'm still not as comfortable with editing as I'd like to be, but maybe by the end of these projects that will change.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I tweeted from my phone (not one of those new-fangled smart ones) throughout the day, but left my laptop at home. I'm kind of sad that I missed out on reading all the Twitter discussion that went on during the conference (which I did read as soon as I got home), but am also glad that I was able to focus my attention on what was actually being said in the room. I think the tweeters made a lot of good observations, but I also thought some of the comments were rather dismissive and disrespectful of the older attendees, who were less media savvy, but very experienced and knowledgeable in other areas, and certainly every bit as passionate about working for change as the younger crowd.
After checking in, I ran out for some coffee and made it back in plenty of time to get seated and somewhat caffeinated before Joe Smith took the floor and introduced keynote speaker Steven A. Smith, a seasoned newspaper man who grew up in Portland and Eugene, and attended U of O and Ohio State (I'm always intrigued by the number of people who seem to move back and forth between these two O states). Everything he said about the industry was in line with what I've been hearing at school and at other conferences: everything's going electronic, there are serious funding problems that no one's figured out how to handle yet, shrinking newsrooms are leading to a decline in the quality and quantity of news being produced, small local papers are doing the best, etc.
Next a panel of media professionals introduced the topics of the breakout groups and then Joe Smith opened the floor up to the roomful of journalists, who had more to say (much of which they had already been tweeting) than I think he anticipated. One of the proposed breakout groups was replaced by an "Unconference" group that planned to tackle a number of the issues that attendees felt were being overlooked.
I decided to go to the OPB group, which was focused on expanding the organization and possibly forming a new non-profit. There were about 15 people who stayed for the duration of the session, and about 10 more who popped in briefly, often just long enough to share their opinions and avoid hearing those of others. It was kind of strange, I thought. I was also surprised by how much hostility developed during the session.
There was certainly a divide, which was apparent the whole day, between those who were more into new media, and more open to new methods, and the more old-school crowd, who seemed not to take Twitter and blogs very seriously, which I think fueled some productive discussion about the role of citizen journalists and how they can be included without dismissing or hurting "real" journalists (or how we can even make such distinctions), and how to be more inclusive of marginalized groups in the media; but there also seemed to be some tension that I had a hard time placing. I suppose when you put that many smart, vocal people in a room you're bound to have some clashes of personality. I certainly came away with a better understanding of the range of opinions on a number of topics, and hope others did, too.
In the end, I think our group came up with some good ideas about how to improve OPB, but there wasn't much discussion about forming a new non-profit, and after our group representative presented to the room, Joe Smith suggested that OPB move ahead with some of the proposed actions, but that we not continue to discuss it as a group.
After all the groups presented, individuals formed more specific proposals for actions, which all of the attendees voted on by way of a complex hand-rasing system. I think new technology could have saved a lot of time and frustration there. I'd certainly jump at the opportunity to use the iclicker I was required to spend upwards of $30 on for my Grammar for Journalists class last year (and have never used since).
Over the course of the afternoon, there was a noticeable decline in the size of the group. I'm not sure how many people left because of other obligations, and how many just felt that nothing productive was going to come from the conference.
Finally, after about eight hours of trying to figure out how such a large group of people with such disparate ideas could take action together to improve the outlook of journalism in Portland, we broke into smaller groups once more to make concrete plans.
I joined a group that plans to create a new non-profit multi-media entity. Ron Buel, one of the conference organizers and founding editor and publisher of Willamette Week (and another UO alum), was appointed discussion leader. I think we may collaborate with some of the other groups. We're planning to meet again in three weeks. Hope this goes somewhere!
Lots of others are blogging about this event. I'll add to this list as I find more:
Thoughts From the Spiral
Carla Axtman on Blue Oregon
Reporting 1 Blog
Still a Newspaper Man
Oregon Media Central
Ran Dum Thots
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
We have all worked very hard to make this film a reality. Most of us are students, and are broke, so we'd be thrilled if we got back some of the money we put into it, and more importantly if we could afford to promote the film and get DVDs made so that people will get to see what we've done! If you can spare even a few dollars and would like to support our efforts, it would be a tremendous help to us!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Funding problems for both Hollywood and independent film were a hot topic. Hollywood is having increasing problems as the move to digital formats makes piracy more common. For indies the greatest challenges are coming up with start up money and getting a film distributed in the first place. Today I heard about the tremendous jump in popularity Double Edge Films' new movie Ink experienced as the result of illegal file sharing. They are responding positively. Could this be the new marketing model for indie films or will this be damaging to them in the long run?
Friday night I checked out some short films (some of them quite good) that the Northwest Film Center showed as part of the Northwest Film and Video Festival. I was pleased to see that a number of the filmmakers, including Heather Harlow, director of best of show winner Nous Deux Encore, were women.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
As someone who loves both language and visual communication, I am a huge fan of word clouds, which I'm suddenly seeing everywhere! I saw a Wordle image on Male Hipster Leering and was immediately intrigued. Above is a Wordle image of this blog. I think I really lucked out with the color scheme!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
It's been especially tough because the club has almost no funding, which means we have to use all our own equipment, which is far from professional. It can be really frustrating for me going from working on small class projects with really nice cameras, tripods, lights, etc. to working on a huge long-term project without such things. I often find that I'm unable to do what I would like to because what we have is inadequate. Even doing simple moving shots like tilts and pans is near impossible if your tripod doesn't allow for smooth movement.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Williamson's Antisemitism, which Telegraph writer Damian Thompson wrote about in his blog last March, is newsworthy, but you would never know it from Donadio's words, or at least not unless you read carefully and made it to the twelfth paragraph, where she explains 'in a November interview broadcast on Swedish television last week and widely available on the Internet, the bishop said that he believed that “the historical evidence” was hugely against the conclusion that millions of Jews had been “deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”' The key word here is "millions."
In this quote Williamson denied that "millions" of Jews were killed in gas chambers, which is entirely different from denying, as Donadio wrote before, that 6 million Jews were gassed. If he had said the latter, he would have been factually accurate, and this statement alone would not be evidence of his Holocaust denial.
Most of my Jewish ancestors who did not emigrate to the United States from Eastern Europe were never heard from again, and were probably killed by the Nazis in one way or another, and I cannot say that I would be relieved to learn that their cause of death was not gassing. What matters is that they were murdered in a genocide.
It is important that we get the historical facts right. Repeating false statistics does nothing to rectify the atrocities of the Holocaust or to educate the public about them. We can simply say that 6 million Jews were murdered. That fact is both accurate and devastating.
Donadio should investigate Williamson's anti-Semitism further. His denial of the Holocaust is just the tip of the iceberg. She should also get her facts straight.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
What's been more interesting in the past few days is the coverage of the Sam Adams scandal, which is getting almost as much attention in Portland's papers as our new president.
Perhaps more interesting than the news coverage itself is the debate that's going on in the comment sections that follow the online stories, such as those on the websites of Willamette Week, who broke the story, and the Oregonian. The response is surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent, expressing a variety of opinions about Adams' actions, whether or not he should step down, and on the media's coverage of the story. That's something you don't get when you pick up a hard copy of the newspaper. I'm really glad to be able to follow the responses of Portlanders from my computer here in Eugene.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I am now taking Writing for the Media, the last of my pre-Journalism classes. I think it's going to be challenging, but I expect to learn a lot. I am glad that I took Intro to Media Writing at PCC before transferring. It is a definite bonus to be somewhat familiar with the basic concepts. I got back my first graded assignment today, which I did not edit it as carefully as I should have. I am relieved that we are given the opportunity to resubmit.
I have joined Duck U, for which I get 1 credit, but more importantly I get hands-on experience working with professional equipment. So far I have gotten to work with a pretty nice digital video camera, and have gotten some practice setting up lights.
I am also going to be shooting video for UFO's major project for the year, a feature-length (or close to it) romantic comedy about FBI agents working in Eugene. The film is untitled as of now, but the script was just finished, and we are planning to hold auditions in a couple of weeks. I think this is going to take up a lot of my time, but I think it will be a valuable experience and am looking forward to it.