Thursday, June 28, 2012

Examples of well-done video work at The Oakland Press

This video from the scene of an SUV that crashed into a building was done by broadcast intern Krystle Anderson, shot and edited by herself. Here's one by videographer Doug Bauman working with intern Alexa Bray. From a recent apartment fire — filmed by video programmer Aftab Borka. This was the first video done by Joe Gray, who at the time was an editor for a weekly publication, completed after JRC video training. He's now Online Editor for The News Herald, part of the Heritage group in Michigan. He filmed and edited this video by himself (with a Flipcam). Reporter Carol Hopkins shot and edited this video (with a Flipcam). Print intern Alex Barhorst worked with broadcast intern Blake Strobl on this video.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Oakland Press launches News at Noon show

Aftab Borka films Chris Nelson anchoring "News at Noon"
We're not your grandfather's newspaper.
Operating on the belief that we can use a variety of platforms to deliver well-rounded story packages, The Oakland Press has placed a huge emphasis on making use of video and audio to help us tell stories. 
The amount of video and audio content we're creating made a newscast a perfect fit to showcase that work. The idea led us to launch the show "News at Noon."
"The show has great value because it promotes the videos that our staffers produce and gives our readers/viewers an opportunity to get all the top news of the day in a few minutes," said Aftab Borka, video program producer for The Oakland Press. 
Borka coordinates the newscast, which runs Mondays through Fridays, and regularly anchors it.
"We have been experimenting for months to come up with something that is competitive with Detroit newcasts by offering a more Oakland-centric flavor," said Executive Editor Glenn Gilbert. "(It's) struck a chord with readers, moving into our daily top 20 for page views." 
Viewership of the news show has been growing since its launch on May 21. Recent shows have climbed into the top 10 spot for the month of June — not an easy feat for videos that aren't crime or breaking news related. 
"We think it is a hit and may offer a good platform for an advertising sponsor," Gilbert said. 
Beyond showcasing the videos produced by Oakland Press staffers, "News at Noon" also features regular commentary from locally well-known writers like sports columnist Pat Caputo and entertainment writer Gary Graff. Online Editor Stephen Frye does a video blog once weekly for the show and News Editor Matt Myftiu contributes his "Tech Time" reviews. 
"News at Noon" logo
Political reporter Charles Crumm is a regular contributor, providing both audio sound bites from politicians and commentary on political stories.
The show has also provided an opportunity for broadcast interns to both host and produce a professional show. Former Specs Howard School of Media Arts interns Chris Nelson and Brittany Wright have both anchored the show and are now helping on a freelance basis, as has Oakland University journalism student Emmy Lucas.
"It makes great use of videos we are already producing and is a snappy, six minute summary of the day's top stories put up on our site at a time when viewership is high and TV isn't offering anything," Gilbert said. 
Stay tuned — and yes, we get to say that now.

Our show on May 24 featured video from a tragic crash that injured a police officer

The June 12 show caught our audience up on a city commission meeting that was bombarded by people openly carrying guns

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Golf map serves readers in print, online and on mobile devices

PDF of the print page
Just before golf season hit southeastern Michigan, Online Coordinator Paul Kampe had a cool idea to freshen up The Oakland Press' annual golf section with a new, interactive map.
The map that'd been used previously was built in a software our newsroom no longer uses by a staffer who left us years ago.
It was outdated and also, not nearly as useful as what Kampe devised using Google maps.
The old map was simply an image for print with golf course locations on it.
The new map? Golfers can get directions to and from courses, view traffic maps, check out weather conditions and sync it to their GPS, call the courses or go to a course website. And, they can do it all from their phone.
Seriously cool stuff.
"All together, it took about two hours or so to plot all the points," Kampe said. "I can't imagine how long it would've taken doing it the old-fashioned way."
Not only does it offer readers more, but it's also something that will continue to exist and be easily updated.
Kampe used a screengrab to run the map in print, giving Google appropriate credit and including notes on how to use the map's different features. He also published a QR code underneath the map, giving readers a way to go directly from the map on the print page to the map on their smartphones.
The QR code got 50 clicks on its first day (the map published in mid-April) and is up to 203 clicks now. statistics show it's gaining a minimum of about one click per day, though a few lulls in clicks were likely due to some chilly late April weather. Clicks also seem to spike on particularly nice weekend days.
Google shows that the map has had 3,827 views to date and got a five-star rating.
"I'd like one of these for the whole State," commented one person on the map.
View 2012 Oakland County Golf Courses in a larger map

Friday, April 20, 2012

Presenting Google Voice for journalism at APSE conference

Late last year, I gave a series of training workshops on using Google Voice for journalism.
The Oakland Press Sports Editor, Jeff Kuehn, is hosting this year's APSE conference here in our building and — seeing as how these projects have worked out very well with passionate sports fans — asked me to give the workshop at the conference on Monday, April 23.

Training resources
• How-to sheet on setting up a Google Voice account
• Presentation on Google Voice and audio editing
• How-to sheet on using Audacity for audio editing
• Case study on gathering Lions' fan reactions using Google Voice

Here's a compilation of completed projects that I'll use as examples.

Sports related projects

Case study from The Oakland Press on gathering fan reactions to Detroit Lions games
Lions fans: 'Take us to the Super Bowl'
Crowdsourcing method: Online, social media, print.
About 10 responses, 252 video views. 

Lions fans sound off on what went wrong against the San Francisco 49ers
Crowdsourcing method: Online, social media, print.
Eight responses, 497 video views.

Lions fans criticize Matthew Stafford, offensive line after loss to Falcons
Crowdsourcing method: SMS only.
Twenty responses, 166 video views.

Oakland Press Online Coordinator Paul Kampe's project on fan reaction to Suh's bad behavior
Soundoff: Suh's lack of transparency hurting fans
Crowdsourcing method: Not documented.
117 video views.

The Delaware County Daily Times' "Fire Andy Reid" project
Delco speaks: What should the Eagles do now?
Crowdsourcing method: Online only. 
Sixty responses in less than 10 minutes.

The Delaware County Daily Times' "Penn State Scandal" project
We asked: Should Joe Paterno step down right now?
Crowdsourcing method: Online only.
Twenty responses in less than an hour.

Non-sports related projects

The first project: Crowdsourcing "Where were you" memories from 9/11
Remembering 9/11: Voices of Oakland County 


Tom Caprood (Troy Record) gathers public reaction to a proposed McDonald's location
REACTION: Readers share their feelings on the proposed Troy McDonald's


Vince Sullivan (Delaware County Daily Times) gathers reaction to Catholic school closings
Hear what people are saying about Catholic school closings

Friday, March 30, 2012

'Front Page' photo contest a hit with readers

Screenshot of our new timeline page w/cover photo
The 'Front Page' photo contest we hosted this month was a hit with our audience — and I'm rather pleased with the way it all turned out.

About the photo contest
Tomorrow's Facebook deadline to switch to the timeline format prompted all of this. We needed a 'cover photo' and I was inspired by a colleague's work to crowdsource for submissions to fill that space.
We received almost 40 entries.
Considering there was no monetary prize associated with it — just the opportunity to be featured on the front page of our paper — that's a pretty good response.

The voting process
We set up an album on Facebook and uploaded the photos as our very first board on Pinterest.
On Facebook, we had a total of 581 votes — that's more engagement on any one topic than we've ever had before.
We also saw our number of likes for the page increase by 64 over a one-week period. Average growth for the page is usually somewhere around 30 new likes a week, so that was a good boost. Plus, in the first 24 hours after the album was posted, we saw likes to our page increase by about 30 — awesome, considering that's an average week's worth of growth.
The Pinterest board generated 34 repins and when the contest was done, we'd gained 15 followers to the account.
We still have a lot of work to do on Pinterest, but it's a good first step.

Promoting the voting
Votes began adding up as soon as the album was posted to Facebook, but we took some extra steps to promote it as well.

First, I sent an email to everyone who submitted a photo. I gave them links to the Facebook album and Pinterest board and also provided links if they wanted to Tweet or promote it in on other social networks, like Twitter.
At the end of the email, I encouraged them to browse our Facebook wall. Note that I did not ask for likes, but instead talked about why the Facebook page is important to us.
Here's the text:
Lastly, I'd like to encourage everyone to take a moment after voting to browse through our Facebook wall. This page has become a great way for us to interact with our readers — we post stories and photos (though we're cautious not to overdo it!) and find great value in the feedback we get from people. A newspaper's job is not just to disseminate news and information, but to foster discussions about the important issues facing our communities. We hope you'll join those discussions. Feel free to share information of your own with us too — be it a photo, request for a story, news tip or just a question.
We wrote a story that included links to voting on both social networks. I also put all the photos into a video slideshow. Two weeks later, the video is still one of the most viewed on our website. Today, it's ranked as the ninth most viewed since the day it was uploaded and has had a total of 267 views.

 It was already on Facebook and easy to reshare the link to the album. On Twitter, we Tweeted out the link to the web story so the audience could both learn about the contest, view submissions on the slideshow and get direct access to both the Facebook album and Pinterest board by links provided in the story.

The story for the web also ran in print. We included QR codes for smartphone users to go directly to the Facebook album and Pinterest link.

The links provided in the email and used in Tweets were the same links that generated the QR code, so we can't distinguish between who clicked the link from the email I sent vs. Twitter vs. who used the QR code.
The winning photo
The links/QR codes were a success — 252 clicks for the Facebook album and 85 clicks for Pinterest.

Who won?
A 16-year-old high school student named Katie Musser won for her photo of a calf photographed at an educational farm. In her entry, Katie wrote: “I think this photo shows Oakland County because of all the farms and activities that people can do out in Oakland County. Everyone, nowadays, wants to be outside and enjoy life with the family. Going to a farm for a day is a great way to show the family what life was like back when everything was farm land.”

A lesson learned
We should've specified that only horizontal photos would be considered for the contest. The reason? The Facebook cover photo needs to be horizontal.
Luckily, our second place winner, Stephanie Campion, submitted a great horizontal shot of her daughter feeding two birds out her hand at a local park.
Second place photo
Campion wrote that the image “best depicts Oakland County because it captures so many different elements when thinking about our area, and also Michigan as a whole. It shows that even in the doldrums of winter, our families can find amazing and inexpensive things to do in the area that children will always remember. The snow, wildlife, nature and family connections — all things the area brings that we sometimes take for granted, yet we’re all truly fortunate to have.”
Our solution was to feature Katie's photo on the front page of our print edition, while Stephanie's picture would win the cover photo slot. Both are happy with that.

What this says about Oakland County
I really appreciate the general message expressed by not just the photos of the two winners, but by the majority of photos that were submitted — Oakland County is a place that people live in and appreciate for its natural beauty and opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy it.
Check out all the amazing photos Oakland County shutterbugs submitted:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Voting now open for Oakland Press 'Front Page' contest

I'll expand on this more later, but for now, here's what you need to know —
• Voting for The Oakland Press 'Front Page' Contest is now open.
• Where do you vote? Facebook and Pinterest. The story Vote for the photo that best represents Oakland County will take you directly to both the Facebook album and our Pinterest board.
• Voting closes promptly next at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 29.

Here's a slideshow of all the photos:

Friday, March 9, 2012

'Front page' photo contest seeks reader submissions

Photo contests are my new favorite thing.
Entries for the "front page" photo contest we're hosting at The Oakland Press are starting to fill my inbox and I feel rather privileged to be the first to see the submissions.
Entries I've received so far range from a rare shot of a hawk bathing in someone's bird bath to a fawn nestled in a garden, sunsets over some of the county's lakes, gorgeous landscape scenes from the many parks our county boasts and so much more.

Why we're hosting the 'front page' contest
On March 30, all Facebook pages will be switched over to the new timeline format. This format includes what is called a cover photo — essentially, a really big image that runs across the top of the page.
The Digital First Media engagement group has been buzzing about the new timeline — check out Mandy Jenkins' blog post, How news brands can get started on Facebook Timeline.
Jenkins' mentioned that The Kingston Daily Freeman, a sister paper in New York, is crowdsourcing for a photo to fill the prominent space.
Sounded like a great idea to me, so we put together our own crowdsourcing request asking people to send in a photo that best represents our county.

What the contest offers our audience
Once the submission deadline has passed, we'll put the photos in an album on our Facebook page as well as a Pinterest board (it'll be our first time using Pinterest, yay!) for public voting.
The photo with the most combined likes/pins will be the contest winner.
We're going to run the winning photograph prominently on our front page and write an article with background information about the image and photographer who captured it.
And of course, it'll get that coveted cover photo spot on our Facebook page — for six months, we promised!
It's great exposure for aspiring photographers.
While digital first may be our mantra around here, we have not forgotten about the power of the front page and we're happy to use that power to showcase the talent of the community members we serve.

What the contest offers The Oakland Press
Oh, so much.
We are building an awesome album of photos from members of our county about the county we serve. That's pretty cool on its own,  promoting the talent of our community members and our community all in one album.
I'm counting on a lot of engagement with this too. I'm sure the photographers who are submitting pics will share the voting links with their own networks to better their chances at winning, and I hope that translates into more people finding out what a vibrant Facebook page we have.
Last but not least, the photos are a beautiful source of visual content for us — for our website, for our print paper and for our social networks. 
It's a win-win for everyone.

Going forward
Reporter Shaun Byron began urging us to run photo contests over the summer. His idea was to ask the county's students to submit photos that best represent Oakland County in the summer.
We never got the contest off the ground before summer ended. And then fall turned to winter and you know how it goes.
But we've found a new enthusiasm for photo contests — or rather, we're inspired by the enthusiasm of our audience for these contests — and it's a safe bet that we'll be doing a lot more of these in the future.