Sylvia Spotlights: Writing, Women, and the Big "What-ifs"

The Power of the Written Word at Work

News Videos That Caught My Eye & Wowed Me

Our assignment was to view a couple of news videos that caught my eye. Many of the videos from Poynter’s Al Tomkins’ aimfortheheart.com (appropriate!) http://aimfortheheart.com/story-samples/  were standout videos. The ones I chose to analyze are:

a.      15 Days: A Soldier’s Journey Home

What I Liked:

The concept

The focus on one couple/family

The time span

The beginning and ending being at the same location

The narration that complemented video

The interviews with the wife, soldier, child

The emotion at the end

What I Think Needed Work:

It seemed a bit too choppy; the reporter cut in, it seemed, like for every minute he had to give a minute of narration, which was distracting to me

There was no real coverage of the soldier’s interaction with his family, besides at the hospital, at the birth of his second child.                  

Adding a stat would have been great. How many soldiers?

Explain better how each soldier is allotted 15 days—and add why they are alloted this time and when they can take the time during their tour.

b.      Investigative Reporting: Hiding Behind the Badge

What I Liked:

Reporter going with his gut to uncover corruption by a small town sheriff

        Ongoing investigation

Breaking open a case through perseverance

        Chasing down interviewees

        Relying on photographer/teamwork

What I Didn’t Like/What I Questioned

        How the reporter didn’t try to force himself into the golf course a little more–but it made me wonder–how far can a journalist go, especially in investigative pieces when subjects are not willing to talk (for fear of incriminating themselves)?

        It seemed like he only smelled blood, almost like he was a tabloid kind of reporter to take someone down, in this case, expose the sheriff. I can understand the need to expose corruption, but what are the best techniques a journalist can use? Where was the focus of the story?

        Is there an ethical line for a reporter? Or is this his job? Just questions…

A couple of other pieces I liked:

c. The Reach of War w/photographer Michael Kamber, NYTimes
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/world/20070523_SEARCH_FEATURE/blocker.html

What I loved about this (that I don’t think I had really seen before) was that it was all narrative audio complementing very, very awesome photos. The tone of Kamber’s voice offered sympathy and respect; he seemed humbled and alarmed at the situation he found himself in, but also seemed at awe with the surviving soldiers and how they helped their comadres, then how they trudged on even after the deaths and injuries.
I wondered how/why he decided to produce the story this way. It actually seemed powerful to me, perhaps because of the solemn tone. But I wondered if the soldiers’ own words in their own voices would have added to the solemn depth of the story.
d. The other one I like through our readings was “Train Jumping: A Desperate Journey” because this used text/captions to explain elements of the story. I loved this. Didn’t know it could be used so effectively.  http://alt.coxnewsweb.com/palmbeachpost/photos/accent/tj/tj.html
Both of these stories also hit me with the WOW factor–just because I didn’t realize that narrative and captions/text could be used as an incredible tool to help tell your story. It seems like a nice alternative to constantly getting an interviewee to participate; using your own narrative interpretation/analysis can be just as powerful and complement your photos/videos.
THE WOW FACTOR
The original WOW factor video I submitted last week was “You’ve Got Dan Rather” on aol.com / http://on.aol.com/video/youve-got-dan-rather-517360356 . I was AMAZED you could get the essence of this incredible journalist and what drives him, what’s at his core to do the best coverage possible–all through powerful photos and commentary –and all in under 3 minutes. Yes. Wow.
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