Sunday, November 29, 2009

Twitter as an original source

Criticism of the Oregonian's reporting on Ted Wheeler's ski injury sparked a Twitter discussion on the ethics of quoting Twitter posts.

Ian Malkasian (@ianmal) wrote "running stories w/ twitter as a primary source is risky & in my mind poor journalistic judgment." In another Tweet he posed the question"in the absence of no other corroborating info. is the twitter stream of an elected official on the record?"I re-Tweeted the question and got a few responses.

Betsy Richter (@betsywhim) replied "yes. In the Wheeler case, you have the photograph, which corroborates his story, plus the Tweets from his wife. plus he's already gone on record as stating communicating via Twitter/Facebook fosters government transparency/good comms practice."

T.A. Barnhart wrote "Ted thinks so."

Ronald Morgan (@rhyzome) answered "Um, yeah, as is an email, phone call or any other media."

Suzi Steffen (@SuziSteffen) directed me to an episode of OPB's(@opb) Think Out Loud (@thinkoutloudopb) from October, in which Ted Wheeler, who was a guest on the show, discussed his thoughts on the the benefits of using social media such as Twitter and Facebook. "When you read the Tweets, they come from me directly, warts and all.... What you see on Twitter is what you get. That is your county chair." He goes on to say that Tweets are governed by the same public records laws as e-mail and other public communications. "I just assume that everything that I put out there is public information..." he explained. He did note that the law has not been able to keep up with technology, so this may not always be the case.

I'm interested to hear more thoughts and opinions on this topic.

Oregon Live is Anything But

The Oregonian's web site,, failed to report on Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler's broken back resulting from a ski accident, hours after Wheeler broke the story via Twitter this morning until about 3PM. Shortly after Wheeler's Twitter post appeared the story was reported by Our PDX, KGW, and Matt Davis' blog on the Portland Mercury's Blogtown. At 2:52, after Multnomah County issued a press release , Oregon Live posted their story, which contained no original information, and did not mention Twitter. Many on Twitter are wondering what their excuse is. The Portland Tribune, which beat the Oregonian by a couple of hours, at least attempted to reach Wheeler for comment, and posted a link to his web site, which they noted includes a link to his Twitter page.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

WMTM Still Going Strong

A week after the We Make the Media conference in Portland, an active online discussion continues via Twitter, Google Groups, and Google Wave. Participants include many from the Portland metro area, but also a number of people like myself who aren't as centrally located, who could not stay so involved if follow-up discussion was limited to face-to-face meetings. That attendees remain so engaged suggests that the conference may have achieved what its organizers set out to do. Members of a few, if not all of the planning groups that formed at the conference, are working on ideas online and have concrete plans to meet again in person, and are also brainstorming with people from the other groups. It's too early to speculate about the success of the proposed ideas, but it seems clear that something good will come of all this!

Friday, November 27, 2009

J331 Shorts Well Underway

On Wednesday my J331 production group conducted three more interviews and shot a lot of B-roll footage for our short documentary.

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

We Make the Media

I dragged myself out of bed early Saturday morning to attend We Make the Media, my second conference at the Turnbull Center. My husband was nice enough to drop me off before he headed over to Blitz Ladd to watch the Ohio State v. Michigan game with some of our other friends from Columbus.

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
360 Convos
Reporting 1 Blog
Civics 21
Still a Newspaper Man
Joe Wilson
Oregon Media Central
Ran Dum Thots

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Electronic Media FInal Projects

For my Video Production class I am working with a group on two final projects: an evergreen documentary and a dramatic short. For the documentary we are doing a piece on the new Services for Student Athletes building that is currently under construction on the corner of Agate and 13th.

We've done three interviews this week: one with a cheerleader who uses SSA, one with an SSA tutor, and one with the university's new president Richard Lariviere.

We did the first two on Monday evening at the current SSA building. It was a struggle to lug all our gear(two cameras, two tripods, a light kit, a shotgun mic, a boom pole, some extra cords) all the way from Allen Hall to Mac Court, but we managed. We didn't have much space in the room they let us use, but we made it work. The interviews went smoothly and we finished on schedule.

This afternoon we did our third interview, and that was a little more challenging. We were all a little nervous about interviewing the University President, and we had only a half hour to set up and conduct the interview. The room provided for us was spacious and allowed us more control over our setup than the previous one. We closed all the shades to block out the sunlight and set up three point lighting. We rearranged the furniture a little bit and got our cameras set up. All of this took slightly longer than we anticipated, but we got everything looking really nice.

We informed the receptionist that we were ready and President Lariviere came in and sat down. We got him miked and let him look at our question list, and were just about to start shooting when all of our lights went out. Someone in the office flipped a breaker and they came back on, but we lost some valuable time. We conducted the interview as best we could in the short time we had left, and we all felt that we got some good sound bytes, but it was certainly a nerve-racking experience.

We're planning to do a few more interviews in the next week and then focus our attention on shooting the dramatic short.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

'In the Rain' Almost Finished!

We only have one scene left to shoot for "In the Rain" and then we begin the post-production phase. We began this project with no budget, and have all been working for free and paying for things (food, gas, lighting equipment, wardrobe, props, etc.) out-of-pocket as we go. In hopes of being able to refund the cast and crew for some of their expenses and of being able to promote and distribute the film when it's finished, I decided to give the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo a try.

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

the State of the Film Industry

I spent the weekend in Portland, where I attended the What is Film? conference at the UO's Turnbull Center. I learned a lot about the global, national, and northwest film industries. The focus of the conference was on changes in the industry, especially of the technological variety.

Much of the discussion was focused on problems the industry faces "in the digital age," (keynote speaker Bryce Zabel joked during his presentation that "in the digital age" is now tacked onto the end of conference panels in much the same manor as "in bed" is tacked onto the end of cookie fortunes).

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?

While funding and distribution problems are certainly daunting, I was most disheartened by how few of the filmmakers at the conference were women. All three of the keynote speakers were men, as were the majority of panelists. There were a lot of women on the academic panels, but almost none on the Friday panels that focused on working in the industry. In an area like the pacific northwest, known for its progressive values, I expected women to be better represented.

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

Word Clouds

Wordle: The Next Journalist
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

Busy, Busy, Busy....

@MYMHM on Twitter was nice enough to send me a Google Wave invitation in exchange for retweeting a link to their latest episode, which I was happy to do. It took a few days for the invitation to arrive in my inbox, which gave me a chance to read about it a bit, mostly on Twitter, which did little to clarify for me exactly what it does. I finally got to try it out today, but so few people have access to it yet that it's difficult to tell how functional or cool it is yet. I am intrigued, at the very least.

At tonight's University Film Organization we did a lot of planning, and should be pretty busy for the next few weeks.

Tomorrow we are shooting more of a short written by club member Rose Guess, which we started on a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday night a couple of club members and I are driving up to Portland for the weekend to attend What is Film?, which I am very excited about. If we have time, we may go check out the Northwest Film Center's 36th NW Film and Video Festival, though I fear we have too much else to do.

We have also broken into two small groups to make music videos for folk musician Will Hobbs of Portland and metal band Straitjacket Seduction of Columbus, Ohio. We will start pre-production next week in club.

In addition to all of that, I have plenty of classwork to keep me occupied right now. My third video assignment for J331 is due next Monday. I also have exams on Monday and Tuesday and a project for my Media Aesthetics class due Tuesday.

I really can't afford to slack at all, as I am trying to bring up my GPA in order to increase my chances of getting into a graduate program next year (not that I'm sure yet that that's what I want to do). I will also have to take the GRE very soon.

I hope I can make it through the rest of the term without getting swine flu!