Featured, journalism, Media, social media, Technology, Uncategorized, video

Journalism In Ferguson or Just One Big Selfie?


The movie camera has always been the boogeyman of authority. In Vietnam, color movie cameras were used – the film was shot, shipped, processed and telecined for broadcast on nightly news programs. This first television war with action shot by photojournalists in the field, specifically in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, was a strong influence on the American public’s perspective of the conflict. When cable TV in the home was popularized in the 1980’s, video broadcast technology was ready with 24-hour news channels that relentlessly covered conflict around the globe via satellite. This CNN effect became the new normal for how we expect to watch war, conflict and unrest.

Technology of the new century has given us in miniature a movie camera and a world wide publishing network not of broadcast journalists, but of individuals. This movie platform is so quick it’s viral. Anyone with modest means can live stream (broadcast) what is happening in front of them to the rest of the world. It sounds earth shattering and it very much is. Beginning in 2010 during the Arab Spring we saw the impact of this through the lens of people closest to the conflict. But now I feel a new twist to citizen journalism since the Arab Spring that we may have seen take shape during the Occupy Movement of 2011. The camera has turned back to look at us. This selfie generation is really only a few years old and it’s network effect is seen worldwide. If broadcast photojournalism was selfless, is internet journalism the news selfie?

Monday night (8/18/2014) I watched a two live streams from Ferguson by KARG Argus Radio and the other by Tim Pool (@Timcast) of Vice News. Most of what I remember from KARG’s “I am Mike Brown Live from Ferguson, MO” was two guys driving around for hours trying to get directions on how to get to the designated media area. Perhaps I missed the important parts that took place outside the car. The latter from @Timcast was representative of what I believe is selfie journalism. This is not a direct critique of Tim and his work, but more a reflection on what I’m seeing as the journalist becomes the subject of the story. It’s not a brand new thing – Geraldo Rivera’s work from the 1970’s is an example – but the trend appears to be amplified by the immediacy of the platform.

If the tendency in each of us is to turn the camera inward to capture the mundane and important events of our lives, if that’s now in our DNA, then it stands to reason that both professional and citizen journalists are adopting this reporting style. Like getting a phone call from a friend on vacation who wants to tell you about the amusement park ride she just enjoyed, the movie camera is now just a subset of the communication device which conveys the storytelling of the person who is there. Camera’s are no longer the important cold lens of truth that they once were.

Since Monday, some journalists have been arrested and the police in Ferguson have suggested that they are part of the problem because protesters would tend to “act out” for the camera. If journalists seem eager to insert themselves and become part of the story, does this change the narrative of what’s happening on the ground? Would a focus on editorial, aggregating footage from cameras of the subjects of the story be a better alternative? What is the value and role of the journalist?

Here are some time coded samples with notes from @Timcast for you to consider:

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h30m Good place to start @Timcast on camera

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h40m Shots fired and police fire teargas

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h46m Shots are fired over the heads of the journalists

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h48m22s Journalists are down on the ground

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h52m @Timcast back on camera, talks about what just happened

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h54m40s He finally interviews someone! This woman lives in the area of the riots and talks about what has been happening between residents and the police. I think this was the most important part of the video and we get a valuable perspective.

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=3h30m Later @Timcast has an infamous run-in with the police about press credentials. It looks like a tense situation and seems that the cops wanted media out of the line of fire.

CrazyTalk, journalism, Media, Oregon, Podcast, Portland

Podcast: Criticizing The Armchair Media Critics


This week I took a little time out on my DJ show at House of Sound to talk about an observation I made Sunday night while watching the Mars Curiosity rover landing and reading the flood of tweets coming from those I follow. As with anything, there was the typical 140 funnies, the best from Curiosity itself when it tweeted:

I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL  Continue reading

Film, journalism, Media, Tech Community

Media: Listening to the DJ – DJ Wilson of KGW Media Group

Last week I attended Broadercasting an event hosted this year at KGW studios by Elemental Technologies and Rentrak, two leading media technology companies in Portland, Oregon. The event was primarily a mixer for Northwest Video Professionals and among the attendees were folks from OMPA, Elemental employees showing off their video compression technologies, and Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Oregon Film Office. There was however a 30 minute panel discussion on media, with Rentrak, Elemental and KGW panelists.

DJ Wilson, President and General Manager of KGW Media Group is a television executive that “got” the social web early on. She gave the green light to reporters and producers to engage their viewers on Twitter back in fall 2008 and even included content and viewer comments on Live @ 7 (also known as The Square). Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this particular DJ. 🙂

Take a listen to what she has to say about the current state of her business, consumers and how technology continues to change how media is consumed.


My friend Brian M. Westbrook also shot this video at KGW’s Studio on the Square Tweetup back in 2009. Take a look back to see a TV station taking some informed, forward-thinking risks during a major change in their industry.



journalism, PublicMediaCamp

Digital Journalism Camp 2011: Spending The Day With People Who Are Changing Journalism (UPDATE)

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of taking part in the second annual Digital Journalism Camp in Downtown Portland Oregon. Webtrends graciously agreed to donate the space and Justin Kistner his time, to support this conference founded in 2009 by someone I’d describe as a journalist iconoclast Abraham Hyatt. In the last two years the landscape has changed among newspapers and blogs- quite frankly from an early distain and mistrust- now finding ourselves in 2011 with examples of collaborative efforts underway between traditional news organizations supporting smaller and more nimble web and mobile media. As an example “Blogging” and “Traditional Print Media” aren’t dirty words anymore and the two groups can get into a room together and share insight into producing good journalism using their platforms of choice. Everyone is learning.

It’s that spirit that was alive on Saturday, described best by the conference itself:

Digital Journalism Camp is about spending the day with the people who are actively changing journalism. You’re going to learn from — and share with — the people who have found solutions to the challenges you face, whether you’re a beat reporter, a blogger or a publisher.

As a self-described journalism groupie I wanted to lend support to this event, so I brought a couple cameras. Special thanks to Jeff Bunch and Eitan Tsur who handled recording in each room. Because of them, we were able to capture all the conference presentations.

Business for Bloggers: Revenue and management strategies for niche sites

Web Today, Print Next Week: Best online practices from non-daily journalists

Goodbye day job: Lessons from three startup founders

Unheard Voices: Can digital tools give marginalized communities a voice?

Mark S. Luckie Keynote: How to out-innovate the innovators

Abraham Hyatt: Welcome

Ethics, Rights and Responsibilities

Audio Editing and Recording for Journalists

Video Storytelling

Backgrounding Sources


The Need for Timely and Accurate Journalism

Over the weekend, as Japan’s nuclear crisis rapidly unfolded in the wake of the Tsunami that damaged critical cooling systems at the Fukushima Daini and Daiichi reactor plants, detailed and accurate reporting of the breaking news was severely lacking online from major news sources in the US. Even though an earthquake is a localized problem, we know that a resulting Tsunami can cause problems across the ocean and any growing nuclear crisis could possibly have health and environmental impact outside the reactor zone.

After watching the news of the progress of the Tsunami and it’s impact on the Oregon coastline, my attention was quickly drawn to early reports from Fukushima Prefecture. Failure of the power systems used for critical cooling of the reactor cores was cause for grave concern. In simple terms, a typical result of overheating and overpressure in a plant failure would be to release steam into the atmosphere. Depending on the working status of the systems within the reactor at the moment,  such a release could contain byproduct radioactive gasses that travel through the atmosphere causing serious health concerns, which is something that has happened in past accidents. It raises a lot of maybe’s and what-if’s during this type of serious failure and even though failsafes were in place, it’s clear this wasn’t a typical operating scenario at Fukushima. So I combed the net for accurate and up to date reports on the problem. Unfortunately, early press conferences from the Japanese government and TEPCO the company that operates the plants, sent a clear message: we have the situation under control. What followed through the weekend were efforts to use seawater to cool the reactors and then explosions and destruction of some the outer buildings that house the nuclear reactors. Clearly the situation wasn’t exactly under control as we had been initially told.

Now this is a complex crisis with many variables requiring a need for timely and accurate information. If in the worst case situation radioactive gasses would be released into the atmosphere, we need to be fully informed to protect ourselves and loved ones. That’s not an overreaction, that’s just common sense. Just as a Tsunami evacuation warning makes sense. But we can only rationally act on good and timely information.

So what did I see in the US news media this weekend? Simple. A lack of English translations of live Japanese press conferences. A lack of investigative reporting questioning what we were being told about the incident. What did I see instead? A debate about nuclear power (pro and con) and whether or not this crisis merits comparison to the Russian Chernobyl crisis in 1986. Who cares about those issues right now? This week we have a growing problem that might impact the US and certainly is impacting people living in Japan and all we need is good journalism and facts.

Although it appears the world media finally woke up and is doing some decent reporting now, here are the resources I’ve been following since the weekend to try to piece together just exactly what the heck is going on at Fukushima.

My go-to twitter news feeds. These guys get it first:



A simple Google News search feed:


This guy is the “citizen journalist” hero of this crisis, providing Japanese press coverage summaries and translation when no one else was covering the press conferences and news reports. He is very balanced and hasn’t questioned or editorialized the information. KABC radio in Los Angeles has been going to him for reports. His site description says that “Yokoso News is the online website to introduce Japan in English” and “…is an online social media about travel, lifestyle, study and entertainment in Japan” but of course, events have turned Yokoso News into a breaking news source:



Katz has also provided (or linked) to his live news dashboard. If you speak Japanese, you too can get updates as quickly as he does:


I do wish the best to Japan and the Japanese people throughout the world. My heart is with you. Don’t forget, you can provide assistance by donating here:




Public Media Camp at Oregon Public Broadcasting

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of attending Public Media Camp at OPB studios. The organization rolled out the red carpet with helpful volunteers and an excellent buffet dinner spread that prompted my first, official event tweet:

PubCampOPB: Plate Full

Although there were some key folks missing who have been participating in online media that I wished would have attended, the crowd was a good mix of tech folks, journos and those with a community interest. Several I spoke with knew me and I knew them by way of Twitter and blogs, even though we had never met in person. I always find it awkward to meet people in person who I’ve followed for a significant time online. I feel like I already know you and don’t feel obliged by customary introductions.

Twitpic by PattiPDX

Once everyone had a chance to get fed we sat down in the main television studio, heard the ground rules for an unconference, and then passed the microphone for introductions. OPB’s volunteers for the event did an excellent job of getting everyone situated and the unconference planning board updated. I decided to attend the Content and Online Communities in the North side of a large conference room called Appy. Since this was one large room, the conversation competed with the Tech for Reporting/Reporting on Local Tech (their notes here). Our discussion seemed to overlap another that was happening in the studio called Community Engagement. They posted their notes here.

My take-away from this conversation is that we all still have a long way to go building healthy online communities within the context of major media sites. It seems like it’s a feast or famine proposition: hot topics that lead to negative comments, flame war and moderation, or no comments on a show topic at all. My friend Nate DiNiro made a few good points about Community Managers and implementing a good CMS (Content Management System), but I felt that the problem was less about technology and more about building relationships within your online community. I kept coming back to the many live, in-person events that the Portland web tech community has created and the ongoing Beer and Blog, the Friday night mixer at the Green Dragon that finds a diverse mix of folks that may have already established ties online. Eva Schweber, formerly of tech community hub Cubespace, has written her thoughts on community here. I believe OPB’s effort to reach out in person and host this Public Media Camp is a good start in this direction. It also prompted me to post this tweet:

PubCampOPB: Beer and Babble Anyone?

During the break I mixed, mingled and said “Hi” to a few folks. I stumbled around, not finding anything of interest to me in the Appy conference room until I saw this tweet:

PubCampOPB: $3.3M !!

Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone is throwing $3.3M or even sniffing around it well, I want to be in that session. So I crammed into the small Radio conference room with some familiar faces. The conversation seemed to focus on the topic of Bridging Old and New Media which was posted on the wiki. No talk of the $3.3M though, I must have missed it. If someone comes across this funding, shoot me a DM or email, OK? 🙂

As I got caught up on my Gmail/Twitter/Facebooks sitting in the back corner, I was startled into the discussion by a question directed to me and the room looking my way. Ooops! Pay attention in class, Mike! My contribution to this conversation revolved around the community niche content that I produce and the ability to readily produce it on the fly with the amazing production tools and capabilities we now have at our disposal on the web. Add to this recipe of technology a highly participatory community and you can do amazing things on the web in media. An interesting side-note to this, is the two discussions I had that night with broadcasters who are now starting to adopt some of these technologies to broaden their production capabilities.

So it was in this cramped conference room that I gave the example of a live remote we produced at the food cart pod on Hawthorne. It was Foursquare Day and we celebrated with a live show at Whiffies, talking about food carts, listening to live music and assisting KPTV with their 10 O’Clock news remote. It’s one of the best examples I can think of- dropping into a community event and delivering it live to an online and broadcast audience. As an independent web media producer, I posed two questions to this group: How do I partner with a traditional media outlet, providing them faster and nimble production capabilities? What communities aren’t being represented or are underserved in the media and how can I help them? To the first question, my friend Aaron Weiss of KGW talked about broadcast video quality standards but was also quick to point out that after some experimentation, they have embraced Skype for remote interviews. He also said that a news organization will use any quality level of content that would be identified as newsworthy at the time. An example of this would be CNN airing cell phone videos of a terrorist bombing.

As our session was coming to a close and we were getting kicked out of the room to make our way downstairs to the wrap-up session, I did get a chance to express my thoughts on funding media on the web directly through in-house, corporate production facilities- the deeper pockets where money does exist. We didn’t have time to explore the pros and cons of such a model, because of the time constraints.

In the wrap-up session I think one message was shared, that OPB should do this again. The closing thoughts are posted here from Morgan Holm.

–How does OPB build a stronger online community?

–How do web media producers and bloggers fit in with community and broadcast journalism?

–How do we provide a voice to underserved communities?

–Where does the money come from to support these efforts?

Comments are open.


Crazy Talk Episode 015 – Re-redoing Media with Betsy Richter

It was my pleasure to have Betsy Richter join us this week via Skype, for a follow-on conversation after my appearance on her new podcast Redoing Media on pdx.fm. At the top of the show, we also touched on her digital journo bio and got an update on OurPDX. Since I’m a strong believer in not duplicating work, I’ll post Betsy’s own description of the conversation right here:

“I sat down Sunday night to record an unexpected podcast via Skype as the featured guest on Dr Normal’s new Crazy Talk podcast & we ended up with this…”

“From what I remember, both Doc and I were witty, opinionated and oh, so chatty (an hour and a half of chat, to be specific). But don’t take it from me – as one Twitter reviewer said afterwards:

“If you care about journalism, listen to this podcast. Best discussion I’ve heard in months.”

Watch Here: