Video storytelling highlights importance of sound

Over the weekend, I took a course on video storytelling through the Poynter’s News University site. Video storytelling is becoming more prevalent on news sites because with the technology today basically anybody can take video, even if it’s just with a cell phone. The course began with information on what type of stories to tell using video. Some advice it gave was to do stories that television wouldn’t do, and an example it gave was a story about a local resident who owned a pet duck. I agree that more quirky stories should be on the web, and more immediate news stories should be on television. The internet gives journalists more opportunities to cover personal interest stories. I think at a smaller newspaper or organization this is a great way to get the community involved. As it said in the course, if you put different people in the video those people are going to view it and they’re going to tell other people to view it, so you’ll get a higher number of hits. I think an important point the course made was that video stories have to be able to stand alone. Often times, I think many people would choose to watch a video over reading text. So it makes sense that a video has to stand alone because if it needs text to supplement it, people might skip it all together.

What I took most from the course was how important the use of sound was. The course gave four different examples of videos that all depicted fourth of July parades. Each had a different focus, but I thought how each author used sound was what contrasted the videos the most. The first video used the natural sounds of the parade, but it was a longer video (roughly four minutes) with few cuts so those sounds became boring. The second video was more fast-paced because it had more cuts. The cuts made it immediately more interesting to me, but the author also interviewed parade goers and cut those in between parade shots. I liked the use of natural sound in the third video, but I didn’t like the use of a narrator’s voice and the very short interview of one parade goer. I thought more interviews, or even a longer interview, could have made it more interesting. The last video combined natural sound with a narrator who was a parade goer. I thought that was the best way to make the video because if the author is the narrator it often sounds scripted and dry, whereas the parade goers have more emotion and enthusiasm.

For me, the sound really makes or breaks a video. If the sound doesn’t match the tone of the piece I lose interest, if the sound is boring I lose interest, if the sound is annoying I lose interest. You get my point. Sound is important.

I chose an example of a video from the Star Tribune titled “Best and brightest among the nation’s young are drawn to Twin Cities.” It uses the subjects of the video to tell the story and includes still photographs that further explain what the subject is discussing. This is a pretty good example of a video story because it uses local people from the area of the newspaper, it shows a lot of the city that it’s focusing on and it is fast-paced enough that I wanted to continue watching it instead of navigating away from the page.

In Mankato? Hungry for a great burger?

I’ve compiled a map of the best burger joints in the Mankato, Minn. area. If you’re looking for variety, great toppings or just a good price, look no further. I’ve got you covered.

Twitter: Not the fad I thought it was going to be

When Twitter first came out I thought it was going to be a fad. I thought it was all about telling people what you had for breakfast, what you bought at the grocery store and ranting about the weird woman you saw walking down the street. That was two years ago, but last year, I finally got an account to promote the stories from the Reporter at Minnesota State University, Mankato where I was working as the news editor. I used it to get word out about the stories in my section. It wasn’t until we started a blog though, that I realized how Twitter could help my career. It was more of a humorous blog, and when I would tweet links to my posts, people began actually coming up to me in person to talk to me about my post because they saw the link on Twitter and read it. People were really reading what I was tweeting, I just hadn’t realized it!

Fast forward to today. I’m using Twitter more through my mass media class, and I’ve started using it to communicate more with classmates about assignments and other topics that come up about the community. I’ve found that it’s easier to do this with Twitter than it is with Facebook even. I would go so far as to say that I have weaned myself off Facebook by using Twitter. Facebook is so massive that anything I post can easily be lost or passed over. With Twitter though, it’s more immediate. When I look at someone’s tweet I think, “I have to reply to this now before other tweets push it to the bottom of the page and I lose it.” So when there is something that even mildly interests me, I feel the need to reply or comment on it immediately before I lose it. With Facebook, I feel like I have more time to come back and reply to it, and I usually end up forgetting about what I even wanted to comment on in the first place.

What I’ve come to like most about Twitter is how news is communicated. I can get a really brief summary of an article, and if I’m interested the link is right there for me. It’s convenient and a lot of content can be posted this way. Photos can also be posted, which sometimes makes me more interested to learn more about the subject. It’s quick, it’s easy (it’s actually so easy that understanding the easiness of it becomes the hardest part of learning it), you get only the information you choose and it’s perfect for people with short attention spans. (That’s you America.)

Linking: legal or libel?

Most people of Generation Y are more than familiar with what links are on the internet. The reality is though, that most probably don’t even think about what links actually are and what they are doing let alone the legalities and ethics behind linking— they just click and go. But there are different types of linking that each have their own questions to consider, and James C. Foust explains them in his book Online Journalism: Principles and Practices of News for the Web.

Deep linking

Foust explains deep linking as linking to a page that is past the home page and farther into the website. For example, instead of linking to an online store’s home page, one might link directly to a specific product. He says this type of linking causes websites to lose clicks because instead of starting at the home page, then clicking a broad category, then a more specific category and finally clicking on what the user actually wants to look at, the user is taken directly to the page they wanted to go to. In my opinion, deep linking is more convenient for the user. For example, if I wanted the readers of this blog to know more about me and my background, it would be easier for me to link them directly to my “About” section than it would be to link them to my home page where they would have to navigate to it themselves.

Inline linking

From my understanding of Foust, inline linking is mostly associated with image linking. If you put an image on your page that is taken from another page it is called inline linking. The problem that it creates is that people can pull images directly from the originally web page (which is bad) instead of saving them and then posting them.  Here is an example:

I saved this image of the Empire State Buidling to my computer before uploading it. It has creative commons licensing.

Associative linking

Watch what kind of links you put on your page because according to Foust, associative linking can cause some issues. He says associative linking is when the types of links on one page can affect the reputation of other links on that page. For example, in a story about the price of tuition at Minnesota universities I might write, “Minnesota State University, Mankato has seen an increase in the cost of tuition. The chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities said the rise in tuition is due to the changing economy.” Readers are going to assume these two institutions are related, which in this case they are. But in other instances where a few different topics might be discussed, it’s important to pay attention to what relationships your links are creating.

Illegal linking

Linking to illegal sites or ones with questionable ethics or morals can cause big issues. Just don’t do it.

Links can further understanding

Linking to other web sites gives users the opportunity to get more information. This is useful when a writer is using terms or talking about historical events that many people might know, but some might not and others might like to be reminded of what they are. An example of this would be if I were writing an article about President Obama and the topics he said he planned to tackle when he gave his inaugural address, I could add in a link of the video of him giving the address so users could see for themselves what he actually said instead of me just listing things. Another example is something I’ve already done in this post. In my first sentence I mentioned Generation Y. Some people might already know what Generation Y is so they would be less interested to read a long explanation of what it is. By linking to a page with a definition of what it is, everyone is happy. Users who know what it is aren’t bogged down and users who don’t know what it is have easy access to a definition.

Do your research

The dangers are that a writer can link to anything. If a writer isn’t doing their research they can easily link to information that is inaccurate. If I wasn’t really paying attention to my research, my first sentence could have gone like this, “Most people of Generation Y are more than familiar with what links are on the internet.” That link is to a blog about people whose names start with Y. That would give users a completely different definition than what I intended. Links should be to reputable websites with information the writer has checked to make sure it is accurate. The link also shouldn’t pose any type of legal or ethical issues because that will draw attention away from the story and instead people will focus on the controversy of the link.

Advice for linking

My best advice when linking is to do a lot of research. Be sure that you are prepared to associate yourself with the web pages you are linking to. If you do a good job, most people won’t really think twice about how or why you chose a link, yet if you do a poor job you will be scrutinized for your choices. The more research you do the more respectable your story will be. Make sure to do research on both the content of the web page and the legalities of linking to that page. Also, be sure to ask yourself if what you’re linking to is an ethical choice. You want to remain neutral in your work, so don’t link to a page that’s going to put a certain spin on your story. In short— pay attention and be smart!

Mankato sees boost in auto sales

Honda dealer thrives despite damages in Japan

Auto sales numbers indicate all car dealers in Mankato are enjoying a strong rebound.

For the first time since the 2008 recession hit, Mankato dealers topped the 1,000 mark in monthly auto sales.

“Since July we’ve doubled our inventory and more than doubled our sales, and our service department has been the same,” said Kerry Lindsay, general manager of the Mankato Luther Honda dealership.

While many Honda dealers saw their inventories shrink because of the tsunami damage to plants in Japan, the Mankato location was allocated extra vehicles because it had just opened a larger store off Madison Ave.

Low-mileage inventory tight

Dealers say consumers who put off purchases the past couple of years are to the point where they need a different vehicle. A strong farm economy is also helping drive sales of pickup trucks.

The inventory of lower-mileage used vehicles continues to be tight as a result of people holding off on trading their vehicles in.

Lindsay said they’ve started a program where they take trade-ins and also buy used cars outright from the public. As a result they get about 15 or 20 used cars a month.

Social media and new technologies: keeping you instantly outdated

 

From an industry standpoint, the videos Did You Know 3.0 and Social Media Revolution 2011 proved that I’m likely to have job security, even if it isn’t necessarily at the same job. Social media is not going away, so if I’m able to keep up-to-date (somehow) with it, I’ll likely be an asset to any company. The downside is that it’s almost impossible to keep up-to-date. In Did You Know it said we are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist where they will be using technologies that haven’t been invented yet. It’s statements like those that make me wonder how anyone is supposed to stay on top of everything new that comes along. People are just like technology these days: instantly outdated.

 

I also realized the advantages I have over people who were starting their careers even just 15 years ago. I have an endless supply of information on the internet, and because I grew up with the internet around me I know how to use it to my advantage. Using a book to look something up doesn’t even register to me as an option unless I’ve exhausted all internet resources I can think of (or if something on Google tells me to check out a book). I’m positive that I can do more research with online tools in an hour than someone 15 years ago could do all day in a library or out in the field. And it’s easy. I don’t even have to get out of bed to do intense research if I don’t want to, which is something amazing that I will probably always take for granted.

The statistic I found most alarming was that because of the rapidly increasing amount of new technical information that is being created, half of what people earning a four-year degree learn in their first year will be outdated by their third year of study. I’m in my fifth year, so apparently many of the things I learned in my freshman and sophomore years are already outdated. That’s terrifying news when I’m edging so close to the “real world.” But what this information really told me is that I’ll be learning new things for the rest of my life. College can’t teach me the things I’ll need to know for my future job because those things probably haven’t even been invented yet. I think that’s a pretty wild thought.

 

Another point I wanted to look at was the mood difference between the two videos. The Did You Know presentation was accompanied with daunting music that made new technologies and social media seem like a burden that was ruining people and their connections with one another. The Social Media Revolution clip had a much more uplifting soundtrack that made me feel like social media was bringing hope and building better relationships in the world. I think it’s important to realize the impact those different messages could have one people. If someone watched one video and not the other they might choose to view new technologies in a bad light, which would ultimately impact their use of those tools in society. Just a simple YouTube video can make that big of an impact. And to think, 10 years ago I couldn’t even type 70 wpm.

Area restaurants deemed tax delinquent

Businesses unable to purchase alcohol until they pay

In September four area restaurants were added to the state list of restaurants and bars that haven’t paid their taxes.

  • Charley’s and China Buffet in Mankato
  • The Boat Landing in Madison Lake
  • George’s Fine Steaks & Spirits in New Ulm

These businesses aren’t able to legally buy alcohol until they pay taxes. Distributors can also be penalized for selling to them.

Three other restaurants were added earlier this year.

  • Jerry Dutler’s Bowl in Mankato
  • Hammer’s Bar in New Ulm
  • Cedar’s Grille (formerly Richard’s Restaurant) in St. Peter

This list typically includes between 300 and 400 businesses.

Analysis of the Chippewa Herald

 

The Chippewa Herald is a print newspaper in Chippewa Falls, Wisc. that now has a website at Chippewa.com. At first glance, I noticed the banner ad at the top of the page. Unfortunately, the banner ad is almost the same color as the print of the masthead and the quick links bar. The masthead is very small (it’s even difficult to read “The Chippewa” though “Herald” is in a larger font) and in the top left corner. I would say a good change to make would be to make the masthead stretch all the way across the page. Looking farther down the page, it has recent news and some interactive links for users. It even has some multimedia links and pictures right at the top. Overall it’s a fairly clean site. It could use a little more color and action though. As it is it’s pretty plain and not overly attractive to the eye, but going deeper into the site it seemed it was only created in Oct. 2009, so it makes sense that there is a lot of work to be done.

In the “About Us” section, I found the site is owned by Lee Enterprises, a company that, according to its website, owns 51 daily newspapers and 300 weekly newspapers across 23 states. That leads me to believe that this is a legitimate site. The fact that it is also one of the larger print newspapers in the Chippewa Valley area adds to the site’s legitimacy.

As for the content of the site, I would say it is definitely journalism. Across the top of the page it has links to different sections that are the same as the sections in the print newspaper. Beyond that, the online site allows the Herald to further organize stories with subcategories. Most of the stories are fairly basic small-town news (roadwork, natural disasters, new city council members) and Associate Press stories, but I did find it interesting that the site has a place on the homepage titled “Share your 9/11 story.” This is something that will get the audience more involved because they can send in their memories of that day. Wisconsin is a long way from New York, but it’s a topic that almost every person alive on that day has a memory of, so it seems like a good way to increase involvement with the site.

After reading a number of the stories on the site, I believe the information is accurate enough to be considered journalism. Many of the stories seem to be AP stories or are from writers at other newspapers though. Most of the stories actually written by the Herald are shorter or are just briefs, but my assumption is that this is because it’s a daily in a relatively small town. I could be wrong though, in which case the site could be more of an aggregator that only produces a small amount of original content for online.

I could not find a specific place where it said when the site was last updated, but it does show when stories were updated. It looks like the stories that were last updated are under “Recent News” on the homepage. It’s 8:25 p.m. right now, and the most recent update was at 12:25 p.m. So the site could definitely be updated more often, but for a smaller online site it’s probably updated enough. It’s a least updated daily, which means it’s not being neglected and is therefore a little more legitimate.

Overall I think this is a legitimate journalistic site that could use some polishing. It’s pretty apparent that this is a small town newspaper that’s just getting on the online bandwagon. I can’t know for sure, but I’m betting they’re just using shovelware at this point. It has a few ads, but not so many that they’re totally overwhelming. I think there’s a lot of work to be done but at least they’re trying.