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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

To all Gannett photographers
Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 9:41 AM on 12.13.06
->> To all Gannett photogs. I work for a smaller Tribune paper and our publisher is hot on the "Information Center" concept that Gannett is starting up.

How do you guys feel about it and what is the concept all about? From the outside it feels like an attempt to appease Wallstreet.
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Jeff Brehm, Photographer, Photo Editor
Lancaster | OH | USA | Posted: 1:02 PM on 12.13.06
->> Rob:

They just laid the concept out at our paper last week.

For those who don't know, the way it was explained to us is that there no longer will be news, sports and photo departments. There will just be editors and reporters. Everyone (in theory) will do everything. I can't wait until some young woman who currently does features has to cover wrestling, but Gannett isn't interested in the details.

The photographers were especially happy to hear that their workload will double again, adding editing the video untrained reporters will bring back from all manner of assignments to their already stupid list of stills, sound bites and video stuff for the website that gets fewer hits than Ken Griffey, Jr. on IR.

The entire staff liked the idea so much that, so far, all but one has announced he or she is leaving before it starts in March.
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Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 1:51 PM on 12.13.06
->> One of the things I don't get about this concept is the removing of reporters from their respective beats. The way I understand a "beat" is the reason a reporter is on that beat is they have an interest on some level in what their covering. Aka...a political reporter likes politics and a sports reporter likes sports. Their interest in the subject makes them good at covering it. Like you said "I can't wait until some young woman who currently does features has to cover wrestling,".

I understand putting emphasis on the web but this sort of change seems really radical.
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Michael Schennum, Photographer
Phoenix | AZ | United States | Posted: 2:24 PM on 12.13.06
->> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/03/AR200612030...
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Shannon Litz, Photographer
Gardnerville | NV | USA | Posted: 2:29 PM on 12.13.06
->> Also, to add to Rob's point, the reason for a beat is to develop sources. People don't know what is going on if every week they talk to someone different. How are reporters expected to get tips if the public doesn't know who they are talking with? Or if they can trust them?
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Suzy Allman, Photographer
New York (Rye) | NY | USA | Posted: 3:23 PM on 12.13.06
->> I don't think any of us can stand the wait until some young woman is asked to cover wrestling.
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Michael R. Sisak, Student/Intern, Photographer
Commack | NY | USA | Posted: 3:30 PM on 12.13.06
->> This sort of concept might fly at the weekly I work for, where we have three writers who write and shoot on all the various beats — but the coverage does suffer. Someone who is good at covering Town Hall might not be your best high school sports reporter -- and vice versa. And yes, the beat produces sources. Knowing the community produces sources and trust. Mixing and mashing produces garbage. I'm 22 and I'm already getting sickened by beancounters who think they know how to run a newsroom.

And, as Suzy said... while there are many fine young men and women who cover features, as well as wrestling, putting anybody in a position where they're not sure about the topic they're writing -- that's a recipe for disaster.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 3:43 PM on 12.13.06
->> Quick, get Schmidty from the sports desk. There's a bridge burning... Oh, nevermind it just the features writer hacking a news story and embarassing the paper.
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Jeff Brehm, Photographer, Photo Editor
Lancaster | OH | USA | Posted: 4:51 PM on 12.13.06
->> I just read the Washington Post story Michael provided the link to (thank you, Michael). I have just four words to say:

God help us all.

P.S. -- Despite Suzy's gentle (and definitely funny) indication of my chauvenism, the intent of my "young woman covering wrestling" comment was not sexist. I know there are women sportswriters out there, but I have not worked with any yet. And in the newsroom at the paper where I currently work part-time, the women are photogs and editors who avoid sports. They were the women I had in mind.
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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Belvidere | IL | USA | Posted: 6:02 PM on 12.13.06
->> I agree that WP article is definitely worth a read.

This "hyper local" reporting attitude reminds me of a radio story I heard last week about Pegasus News:
http://www.pegasusnews.com

The site focuse on the Dallas/FW area now but the guy in the report said they plan to expand to other areas. The ideas is to create a portal where people can read hyper-local news, as well as city, local, national, etc. news. Stories and other content from blogs, news web sites, other readers, etc. will be "geo tagged" to be address specific, so a flash news alert might be about your neighbor's lost dog or a garage sale down the street or a sale at your local mattress discounter.

Here is a story about the site on the Marketwatch site:
http://tinyurl.com/v4s5k

Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 6:08 PM on 12.13.06
->> I can't wait till a cigar chomping crime reporter has to cover the local springtime garden party of the Women's Auxiliary. Grin.
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Andrew Spearin, Student/Intern, Photo Editor
Saskatoon | SK | Canada | Posted: 6:39 PM on 12.13.06
->> Hell, a newspaper that switches over to a full staff of mojos can sell their office building, buy a parking lot, and have everyone just sit in their cars in the mojo-lot (tm) while the Editor-in-Chief goes up to each one with the story-o-lotto (tm) to see who gets what story... and hopefully the one in the hot pink (with yellow racing stripe) Smart car doesn't draw the in-depth report on local biker gang violence.
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Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 6:49 PM on 12.13.06
->> I'm not opposed to locally focused news coverage and I think the move to more web based model is a good thing. This just feels like an over-the-top change that emphesizes immediacy over quality. Can't you have immediacy with the cops reporter and a photographer covering the auto accident and sending their work back from the scene to be posted on the website by a desk editor?

Jeff, are the photographers at your paper still shooting or has that responsibility fallen to the reporters only? If they are still shooting what are they shooting?
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Bob Croslin, Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 8:55 PM on 12.13.06
->> Can't get much bleaker than that.

Wow, just, wow.
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Jeffrey Haderthauer, Photographer
Wichita Falls | TX | USA | Posted: 9:01 PM on 12.13.06
->> I bet these pictures being taken by the reporters are of the HIGHEST quality.
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Dan Powers, Photographer
Appleton | WI | USA | Posted: 9:42 PM on 12.13.06
->> At our paper the reporters are trained on video...and they edit their own video...Dan.
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Dan Powers, Photographer
Appleton | WI | USA | Posted: 9:47 PM on 12.13.06
->> or someone in Online works with them on the edit...
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Jeff Brehm, Photographer, Photo Editor
Lancaster | OH | USA | Posted: 10:04 PM on 12.13.06
->> Rob:

Both photographers are still shooting (with old, beat-up D1Hs and a handful of worn-out lenses -- no long glass of any kind) but shots for the paper already have become low priority, and we aren't supposed to go to the "information center" until March.

In addition to the stills they shoot, they're required to post a photo gallery or two a day, they have to post several videos a week, and they're writing some stories. The only reason why they're not also having to process stuff shot by reporters is the paper is too cheap to buy them point-and-shoots yet.

It's this emphasis on using the untrained for covering beats they don't understand that explains why in the last year, we had a story and photo spread headlined "field of hockey dreams." Unfortunately, the photog had actually covered the girls lacrosse team.

We already are giving big web coverage to stories like a demonstration of old-fashioned hog slaughtering methods, complete with bloody severed heads. They weren't amused when I asked if they'd be willing to visit Gannett HQ for a repeat performance.

Now that I think about it, hog-slaughtering is just the kind of story I'd prefer having mojos cover.
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Armando Solares, Photographer
Englewood | FL | USA | Posted: 10:06 PM on 12.13.06
->> "the reporter on the article will accompany News-Press ad salespeople on trips to advertisers as the paper seeks a sponsor for the article. The logic: The reporter understands the project and can explain it best to potential advertisers."

The next sentence reads something like the reporter won't make the sales pitch.

Wow, Wow, Wow.... I'm with Croslin.

Things are changing for sure. I think the problem with the newspaper industry is really basic. It is an old industry that has been replaced by technology and a whole new industry. Newspapers had the opportunity to become the GOOGLE, YAHOO of our time in the early 90s, but the top down mentality didn't see the changes coming. I fear it is too late. There are too many places people go on the web to get their news and information. For example, Google, Yahoo, MSNBC, CNET. There are a few newspaper sites that are and probaly will be successful like the NY times and Washington Post. But only because of their national coverage. Those newspapers that are not for profit will thrive. Family owned papers will be around a while. Publicly traded newspapers I fear won't. Their websites will fail eventually because there are too many websites providing a lot of the same information. As the population ages subscriptions will decline. And the market punishes companies that can't turn profits. Micro local news is only relevant and important to a very small audience.

I think staffs will disappear, they will in turn be replaced by content providers (freelancers) or agencies that will provide content to newspapers but at the local level. The national news will be provided by the AP, Reuters, Getty etc.... Think about this, if the mojo experiment works and the paper indeed gets the help from hundreds of community members, what is the motivation for a company to keep a staff?

Interesting times indeed for those of you working for newspapers.
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Ron Erdrich, Photographer
Abilene | TX | USA | Posted: 9:05 AM on 12.14.06
->> Free content provided by "citizen journalists" will only sustain a newspaper for a short period. Those people are going to get wise pretty quick after the third or fourth time of being published and not seeing any reward for their effort. Even a small monetary reward like $25 won't keep those folks around for long.

Sure, they may move over and someone else eager to be published might take their place, but that person will soon be in the same position as well. And not everyone will be published, some will submit their work and wonder what happened. Discouraged, they'll believe the publication screwed them and won't bother to contribute again since they aren't getting paid for their labors. They've got more important things to do, like their real job or taking the kids to Chucky Cheese.

This is why the unpaid freelancer mode won't ever replace a staff. They're too unreliable and the quality will suffer so much that readers won't pay attention to the publication any more. That pub will then die and local readers won't have a source for local news. And not the news of the PTA bake sale, but the news of whatever the city council is doing and why so-and-so is proposing a smoking ban but what's-his-name is opposed to it and can explain why it's bad for the community.

In addition, there are a number of legal and liability-based reasons why having unpaid freelancers working for a pub is a bad idea. But in the end, it still comes down to quality of the product.

There is always a baseline when it comes to the readership of any publication. Those people are your hardcore base. Creating mojos is an effort to expand that base, but at the expense of stretching current resources past what they are capable. At a certain point, a critical mass is reached and the product suffers and rather than expand that base, it begins to whither.

-Ron-
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Kevin Sperl, Photographer
Laconia | nh | USA | Posted: 9:46 AM on 12.14.06
->> If your paper is asking reporters to shoot their own pictures, then show the paper that you , as a photographer, can write. Our paper recently changed to a morning paper after 80 odd years and increased page count from 20 to 24. To fill this space, they have asked reporters to shoot more and I, as a photographer, have , on my own, started to submit written material. I now have my own weekly photo column and have taken from the reporters the new weekly feature of "question of the week". That simple sounding feature has turned into, for me, a 4-photo spread with a written story. So, I now have two written stories per week that go with a lot of photo space. Dont whine about it, go with the flow, contribute, and show you are as good a writer as anyone. At least as good a writer as reporters are photographers.
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Michael J. Treola, Photographer
Neptune | NJ | USA | Posted: 10:14 AM on 12.14.06
->> Armando,

Newspapers will be around for a long long time. Much like radio and TV were the doom of newspapers the internet is just one more hurdle we need to adjust to. We're not being replaced by new industry we've just had our heads in the sand and didn't make the changes we needed to to thrive in the current climate. Once we get past this and stop with the knee jerk reactions newspaper managements are taking you'll see we'll be just fine as long as we adjust properly to the current trends.

"Their websites will fail eventually because there are too many websites providing a lot of the same information."............

Actually this is the core of what will make newspapers succeed in the future.

In a majority of local communities there is next to no real, focused, local news, local sports, local features etc except that provided by newspapers. Some newspaper do this better then others. By refocusing our efforts on community based journalism we will have content that nobody else has. THIS CONTENT is what has a value and which will be the fuel that drives us to a healthy future. We're already seeing results of our efforts. Over time it will only get better.

"Micro local news is only relevant and important to a very small audience."

Small audience? More like our entire audience. Lets face it people don't visit community newspapers, big or small, to see recycled national news and sports they are already getting on the TV or internet. They look at us to see what's going on in their communities. By focusing our efforts on good local story telling the things that really affect the community we'll see our business get the support it needs to have a future.

And for whatever reason the local people that once ignored the printed-paper are now regular visitors of the website site. If we can continue to tap these people and those out there in the land of the World Wide Web and beyond we'll be golden.

Tree
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Armando Solares, Photographer
Englewood | FL | USA | Posted: 12:11 PM on 12.14.06
->> Tree,

I agree, some newspapers will be around for a long, long time. Those newspapers that are able to meet the needs of the investors. Non-for-profit and family owned newspapers I believe have a sustainable future, because they are not as likely to react negatively to the whims of the market.

Believe me, I don't want the newspapers to fail, I have a lot of good friends who work for them including my girlfriend. I just think there is not enough innovation and new ideas coming from newspapers management. Not in content necessarily, but in the business side.

"By focusing our efforts on good local story telling the things that really affect the community we'll see our business get the support it needs to have a future."

Unfortunately, I feel that good local story telling isn't what will keep newspapers afloat. It is advertising $$$$$, plain and simple. The more advertising avenues out there, the less likely, ad agencies and their clients will be to invest in a vehicle that is slowly sinking in a pit of quicksand.

This summer I had a house for rent -- I took out 2 classified adds one at my micro local paper and one at the regional paper both of which appeared on their online edition. Over the span of 2 weeks, I received 0 phone calls. I spent $85. I placed an add on craigslist and I got 6 phone calls the next day. The problem with Craigslist is that the callers didn't really know where Englewood, Florida is. I placed a for rent sign on the side of the road and I rented the house a day later. I got some 20 phone calls in 2 days.

You may ask, why is this relevant. I think that if you follow the example above and you have millions of dollars to invest in advertising - you may have to look at other options, than local papers.

The demise of papers isn't in the quality of their content, it is a simple matter of dwindling advertising $$.

Gannett is down 25% over the last 2 years. The New York Times stock is down to $23.63, from a high of $52.00, 4 years ago. It sold or will sell its broadcasting unit. Knight Ridder, dissappeared on the whim of one investor. The Tribune Co. is putting itself for sale, and no one wants it. Newsprint and operating costs are going up.

This is happening at a time when the news content is rich and plentiful. There are some people creating very good work, excellent work.
Investors, don't see that - they see only the bottom line.
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Kevin Johnston, Photographer
Oden | MI | USA | Posted: 12:45 PM on 12.14.06
->> Kevin Sperl wrote;

"If your paper is asking reporters to shoot their own pictures, then show the paper that you , as a photographer, can write. Our paper recently changed to a morning paper after 80 odd years and increased page count from 20 to 24. To fill this space, they have asked reporters to shoot more and I, as a photographer, have , on my own, started to submit written material. I now have my own weekly photo column and have taken from the reporters the new weekly feature of "question of the week". That simple sounding feature has turned into, for me, a 4-photo spread with a written story. So, I now have two written stories per week that go with a lot of photo space. Dont whine about it, go with the flow, contribute, and show you are as good a writer as anyone. At least as good a writer as reporters are photographers."

Excellent advise Mr. Sperl!
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Michael J. Treola, Photographer
Neptune | NJ | USA | Posted: 12:47 PM on 12.14.06
->> Armando ,

I hear you loud and clear and agree with you on many points.

The interesting thing about the loss of advertising revenue is that it almost seems like we are ignoring this in ways at my paper..... at least the web portion.

The theory being if we have content that nobody else has and can drive lots of traffic to the website we'll be able to secure ad types the paper isn't used to seeing. More national ad campaigns then the local mom and pop store ads we've relied on for many years.

If anything this has been an interested transition that is for sure. My days as a still photographer are over with video now the product I produce daily. When not doing video I can work on audio slide shows. Should my days in the newspaper business come to the end I'll at least have a well-rounded resume for future employment. I sure hope that doesn't happen.

Tree
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Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 1:12 PM on 12.14.06
->> The power on the still image is being pushed aside for the an internet fad. Still images will always mean more and have more impact in the long run than video.

I'm really tired of the the issue of money. I can't speak for other papers but mine is doing quite well at an over 20% profit margin so I don't want to hear anything about revenue streams. What this comes down to is making sure the investors get paid even if it brings down the fourth estate!

Push people to the internet. That's the way to go. That's the future. But don't do it at the expense of quality storytelling and keeping the public informed about important issues.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 1:34 PM on 12.14.06
->> In the long run, more people will be hired due to the internet.

At first papers want their present staffs to do it all, but over time we'll see through competition that media outlets will want the quality to improve. When that happens we'll see internet producers, sound engineers and videographers making the multi-media.

Still photography will not die because of the way evolution has structured our brains. We remember still imagery not moving images.

Think of the film footage of the Hindenburg exploding.

Think of the film footage of the Vietcong being executed.

Think of the film footage of Oswald being shot.

When we think of these events, we remember the still image not the film footage.

We photographers are modern version of the stone age cave painters. The still image will always last longer than video in our minds.

*****

"Oh the humanity."
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Dave Kennedy, Photographer
Danbury | CT | US | Posted: 1:47 PM on 12.14.06
->> "internet fad"

Really...still shoot film do ya?
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Bob Croslin, Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 4:39 PM on 12.14.06
->> Armando's dead on with his assessment.

There's two seperate issues facing newspapers: declining circulation and the implosion of print classified ads. Solving one issue will not solve the other. Migrating newspaper subscribers to the web may solve part of the advertising puzzle and it will certainly bolster audience/ circulation numbers but classified advertising is not coming back. Newspapers watched craigslist, ebay, monster, etc. eat their lunch and failed to act until it was too late. Newspaper execs were too busy complaining about not being able to monetize their web product in the short term while failing to invest in the future.

IMO, that will ultimately be the undoing of the industry.
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Michael R. Sisak, Student/Intern, Photographer
Commack | NY | USA | Posted: 5:46 PM on 12.14.06
->> Dave,

The Internet is a fad!
So says Dwight Schrute, anyway.

- Mike Sisak
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Michael R. Sisak, Student/Intern, Photographer
Commack | NY | USA | Posted: 6:07 PM on 12.14.06
->> On second and third thought...

I think there's something to be said about this hyper-community journalism crap being a fad though.

People ARE going to get tired of the ultra-focused voyerism, especially when the little things, the lost dogs and the kids selling lemonade, become the big stories and the big stories disappear.

I can imagine a day when the lead story on the website or the blog or whatever is, "Little Timmy stars in school play," when the real news is "Why Little Timmy's school hires pedophiles," or "Why Little Timmy's school has an asbestos problem they don't want you to know about," or something of the sort.

I fear that if a story is hard to dig up, the cheap newspapers won't want to do it. Too much time, too many resources, no guarantee that it will pan out. Sending point-and-shoot reporters out is a PTA newsletter move, a community weekly move... it saves money and it covers all the little stuff, but it misses the big picture.

It's the kind of journalism reserved for the weekly shopper, you know the paper with the one front page photo of the mayor shaking hands with the Boy Scout troop -- and the rest of it's ads.

You can cover local news, but it still has to be NEWS. It can't be fluff. It can't be crap designed just to drive people to a website. News judgment is just as necessary as standards of decency. Because without both of those elements, a newspaper or its website becomes no different that that "weekly shopper" or the blog that Joe Blow from Bayview Aveue writes while sipping his morning coffee. Then where's the reputation for good journalism? Oh, it went the way of profits.

Do newspapers need new ideas? No. I'm sick of new ideas. Go back to old ideas. COVER THE NEWS. BREAK STORIES. KEEP A DECENT-SIZED STAFF. RUN GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS. Make your paper a MUST-READ everyday, not just an elaborate advertisement for the website. Don't co-opt the printed product because the internet is cool.

Mr. Publisher: I promise you, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas will buy tons of copies of your newspaper when you COVER high school sports, instead of just tossing the scores on the website... I promise you people will buy the paper just to look up the movie times and the T.V. listings that you've exiled to the website... I promise you that people will buy the newspaper because you have a great local story that has an edge and maybe happens to be about people they don't know, or even people in the next town.

When you've got locked into a good story, their hearts and minds WILL follow.
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Zach Long, Student/Intern
Montgomery | al | USA | Posted: 7:52 PM on 12.14.06
->> One of the main concerns of Gannett's new system is the demand to have things posted on the web asap, without a proper filtering system(ex. editors) Anyone of our reporters or photographers have the ability to post a story or image to the web in seconds without as much as a copy editor looking at it. With a mass of public contributed images and comments coming soon.... The fear many of us have is what quality of content do we have being posted on the website. Is the concern to get a correct and well done piece up when its ready.... or just to get info up asap for the sake of speed.
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Bob Croslin, Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 9:10 PM on 12.14.06
->> Michael, you're wrong. Go back and read my last post. You can do all those wonderful things you mentioned and it won't make a damn bit of difference because the product that generated the largest revenue for newspapers - classified ads - is gone and not coming back.

Sorry to say but newspapers are going to do ANYTHING that shores up the bottom line while decreasing overhead. Labor costs are the overwhelming factor and they will have to be cut drastically to not only turn a profit but to simply stay afloat.

Like I said: bleak.
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Jon L Hendricks, Photographer
Merrillville | IN | USA | Posted: 9:53 PM on 12.14.06
->> Bob says it all. Advertisers are leaving since readers are leaving. And you're not going to get the advertisers back until you've become a PROVEN source of readers again. It will take micro-community journalism to win back readers with all the competition out there. Our paper puts out a bunch of zoned edtions each focusing on a small portion of each county we cover. You have to be a part of every readers' life every day to stay alive in the newspaper industry now. If people cannot find a story that is relavant to them they will turn to any number of the entertainment sources all over the place to find that relevance.
We can get readers but we need to be very specific to each one now.
Bleak but it can be done.
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Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 10:11 PM on 12.14.06
->> I think Best Buy has an assistant manager opening. Could be time to move on.

Of course the internet isn't a fad. Papers wanting to adopt the Utube model and dump stills for video on the internet is a fad. A very scary fad that may push a lot of still shooters out of the industry.

How many of you staff shooters out there when asked to turn in your still camera for a Sony Minicam will be able to do it?
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Michael R. Sisak, Student/Intern, Photographer
Commack | NY | USA | Posted: 10:54 PM on 12.14.06
->> True, true...

BUT, you also get readers by actually reporting NEWS. And the more readers, the more advertising dollars. Zoned fluff is fine, but it can not compensate for the real stories (just like pandering to the readers that are left won't compensate for the missing classified ad revenue stream).

Remember folks, if anything in a zoned section were actually newsworthy, it would be in the main paper. Readers don't need to be treated like special cases and they don't need to be treated like idiots. They need to be treated to a product that they NEED.

I live on Long Island. I used to NEED Newsday to really know what's going on. Now, not so much. And it's not because of competition from television or radio or even the web, since Newsday really has a monopoly on that and they're not doing a very good job with it.

Simply put, they don't cover the same amount of news and the same stories anymore. The paper is thin. The holes for the things I care about, local news and local sports, have dried up. The paper tries to be too many things for too many people. They're gossip that belongs in the Post and entertainment coverage that belongs on a magazine stand.

Quit the games and focus on the news. It will bring in readers. Trust me.

Oh and... letting reporters put items up unfiltered... let's see how long that lasts. Jayson Blair had filters and he still got away with fraud for years. Janet Cooke had filters and she won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Stephen Glass had filters and he too spun yards. Judith Miller had filters and she hoodwinked herself in a series of stories on weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist.

What happened to the role of newspaper as gatekeeper... As the arbiter of what is news and what is crap? If this is the business I'm getting into, maybe that job at Best Buy isn't looking so bad after all.

I really just want to scream because it's a scary place, journalism. A lot more scary for the fine folks who are working in the industry right now and who are facing the prospect of job cuts, job reassignments and a radical shift from noble professional to video jockey.

God help us and them.
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Bob Croslin, Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 11:08 PM on 12.14.06
->> "Papers wanting to adopt the Utube model and dump stills for video on the internet is a fad."

Like it or not, video is likely to save "newspapers" and transition them to news organizations offering a product on the internet. If you've been paying attention to what the DMN and several other forward thinking newspapers are doing you know this. The internet as a delivery medium is perfect for video and as broadband adaption continues to climb towards maximum density you're going to see more video and fewer traditional stills IMO. The print product will continue to decline and eventually level off as companion products. Photographers shooting with HD video cams will be able to grab stills for the print product. My guess is that this model will become the dominant one in 10-15 years. Publishing companies that move quickly to meet this paradigm shift will survive and eventually thrive. New players not unlike Youtube and Google will step up to offer products to take the place of newspapers on the web if we let them. Local affiliate TV stations are probably in the best position to take advantage of the vacuum that will be created in the local news market as share holders wring every last dollar out of newspapers until there's no one left to write a story or shoot a photo.

This is all scary stuff but thinking rationally about it and finding strategies to attack the problems we face is ultimately what it's all about. We're all passionate about journalism and story-telling but the best way to look at the future of our medium is from the business side. The quarter dropped into the rack does not pay our salaries - classified and display advertising does and it's quickly disappearing. Finding new and innovative ways to produce products that we're passionate about and can be vehicles for ad dollars is ultimately what's going to save the institution of journalism.
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Bob Croslin, Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 11:16 PM on 12.14.06
->> just a quick clarification of my pontification :)

when I say traditional stills I mean stills generated with a 35mm style digital camera. there will continue to be stills on news web sites but they'll be grabbed from video as the transition to HD cams happens.
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Michael R. Sisak, Student/Intern, Photographer
Commack | NY | USA | Posted: 12:53 AM on 12.15.06
->> The quarter in the rack may not pay salaries, but it's an indication that someone's reading. and the more readers there are, the more advertisers are likely to place an ad, and for higher rates too... I'm not entirely resistant to the new notions of the business, but I am resistant to the corporate raider mentality. Websites can break news all day long, but it takes good, solid reporting to analyze it, interpret it and ask the tough questions. People can read about the explosion on the website, but the 2,000-word story on why it happened and why gas might have been leaking into the building for weeks? that WILL sell newspapers. It's the mentality that sportswriters had to get used to years ago, when TV began showing the highlights of games before long the presses ever rolled. "The people already know the score," they said. "But, they want to know more... what they were thinking... what they were saying... why it happened." Too bad that kind of reporting and that kind of editorial thinking has been laid off and bought out in the news departments. "Why send two or three reporters to the scene of a major disaster... one guy can do it. All we need is 200 words and some nice pictures." We can have reporters blog all we want, but is that REALLY reporting? Couldn't the time spent telling the world about whatever it is they used to put in memos to the editors be better spent working the phones, walking the beat? (Having reporters blog away their afternoons, by the way, IS a fad that will die soon -- because I don't really think THAT many people care.) But, maybe I'm wrong... maybe I should ask the professors at my school to consider some new classes:

- Blogging 101: How to act like a reporter without really trying.
- Photo/Video 102: Using the point-and-shoot camera and HD camcorder the paper is giving you to "take picturers further."
- Multitasking 102: Writing, reporting, shooting photos and making a Oscar-nominated feature-length documentary film about the whole thing, too.

I have a dry sense of humor. But I fear maybe one day soon our journalism degrees will be about as helpful as a degree in philosophy. We might be able to teach it (similar to the way Latin still survives on some campuses), but philosophers? They're ancient history.

- Mike Sisak
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Evan Parker, Photographer
Valparaiso | IN | USA | Posted: 1:28 AM on 12.15.06
->> "a radical shift from noble professional to video jockey."

Mike, what do you mean? Unpack that statement, please.
Nobility in photojournalism is its public service to inform society IMO. I got into this business to tell stories for others to see, discuss and hopefully act on. Believe it or not now is probably the best time to do this. The Web is opening doors for stories to get out that never could before. That does the public good!
As an example, I watched a video on Myspace.com from a citizen journalist in Afghanistan of a fire fight between coalition soldiers and Taliban fighters. The video is beyond compelling. I could not take my eyes off what was unfolding before me, which amounts to a totally different story than I see watching the evening news. Would you have me believe this person is not honoring nobility of our profession or that this person is a "video jockey." What I saw was courageous storytelling, that stopped me cold in my tracks.
Newspaper photojournalists have already welcomed video's less threatening counterpart, audio, into their reporter's repertoire with exciting results. Why then is adopting video so scary? Is it because we are in love with our tools, like David Leeson writes in his article, or is it out of fear of uncertainty.
Or is to something else? The 300-pound gorilla in the room. That some newspaper photographers don't want to tell stories- they want to take pictures. We want to go to the big game and chase the performers around the field. We want to underexpose the blue sky, and flash that big light bank. We shoot to win the clip contests.
If I were one of these photographers, the shift toward video would be scary. It means I might actually have to talk to someone on my assignments. Or even generate story ideas myself. Video means I can't go the Cheetos Krispy Bowl or the NCAA western regional quarterfinals.

The new media landscape will, IMO, separate those who want to tell stories and those who want to take pictures.
With respect, Evan
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Kathleen Hinkel, Photographer
Indialantic | FL | USA | Posted: 2:59 AM on 12.15.06
->> My paper, FLORIDA TODAY, made its transition about six or seven months ago. The concept is about adjusting to the world of online journalism and adapting to the realization that the people who get the newspapers delivered to their house are mostly old and in order to survive, newspapers must reach out to the growing number of younger people who go online to get their news. When the concept was first laid out at our paper it was met with much confusion and frustration but the one thing I would advise anyone at a Gannett paper to do is go with the flow. Everybody's job has changed through this but it has not been as drastic as a change as initially expected. Reporters have maintained their beats, photographers still take pictures. The main change is that instead of one deadline at the end of the day for print.... the deadline is as fast as you can get the information in for the website. As photographers, the change will be that you have to shoot video. While it becomes a bit more work to worry about video and stills, I think it is a good sign that the company is being realistic about the future and the need to make major changes in order for newspapers to survive. I don't mean to sugarcoat the change and if you email me through my member page I can talk about some of the things we continue to struggle with.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 4:45 AM on 12.15.06
->> That some newspaper photographers don't want to tell stories- they want to take pictures.

You know, newspapers aren't the first people to think of telling stories with moving pictures. There's this little industry called television news that has been doing it for decades...

...and they are better at it. They have the gear, people, resources, experience and...most important...the business model...to make it all work. Especially when it comes to generating significant amounts of video content in a timely fashion every single day.

When you start shifting primarily to "telling stories" using video, you are competing against television news. It is important to note that shift, because your viewers expect certain things from your content. TV viewers DO NOT want to see three minutes of pans and dissolves with no narration, few titles and little structure, which is what you mostly see today in newspaper-generated video packages. TV news does things a certain way because they've spent millions of dollars and dozens of years refining techniques to keep people glued to the video. It is not accidental. It is not ad-hoc. It works. It is what viewers want. If it wasn't, TV would do it differently because they want to make money just like everyone else.

If a publishing company wants to do TV, they should DO TV RIGHT. Don't try to make still photographers shoot video to survive...they'll never be as good as a trained, experienced, singularly focused video shooter. Don't try to have your beat reporters also write tight TV copy. Don't have your metro desk folks try to be TV producers. Hire some video shooters, producers, editors and talent, and do it right. Don't call it "online journalism" and try to glue it onto the side of a newspaper workflow. All you end up with is a hybrid mishmash of content caught in limbo between two mediums, and a bunch of well-intended staff being frustrated and demoralized in the middle.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 8:03 AM on 12.15.06
->> "That some newspaper photographers don't want to tell stories- they want to take pictures."

I'm confused by this statement. I'm a photo-journalist. I've always told stories through photography. I don't see how a newspaper photographer can simply take picutures without story content? Please help me on this concept.

***

I recommend to everyone David Douglas Duncan's book "Self Portrait USA."

Duncan made all the still photographs in his book for broadcast on TV.

***

Back to my previous post on this topic. We are in our infancy with newspapers adapting to the internet. Stream video is hot. If it takes off and media outlets make money on the internet, we'll see more and more people hired, not less. As money is made we will see specialization, and with that will be born internet video journalists. I predict that those who want to tell stories with still images will survive. They won't have to shoot stills and video at the same time in the future, but for now the industry is on the early learning curve so are asking photo-journalists to step up to the plate with video because we at least understand visual storytelling where the reports and writers do not.
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Jeff Brehm, Photographer, Photo Editor
Lancaster | OH | USA | Posted: 9:08 AM on 12.15.06
->> Everyone involved in this discussion has made some valid points. I hope this one rises to the same level:

IMO, Gannett is not changing its news gathering because it believes filling its websites with crap will increase revenues. It might give lip service to how it's bulking up its local content, but the bottom line is the bottom line -- it's a hell of a lot cheaper to do things this way.

I can't believe that everyone in the upper stratosphere of Gannett is actually convinced that filling the websites (and, far down the food chain, the pages of its newspapers) with a bunch of junk that no once cares about will increase revenues. They can attribute their decline in circulation to the Internet all they want, but the people who work at these papers know it's because they've cut staffs, minimized spending on equipment -- at the Eagle-Gazette, we use Macs so old they aren't even used as doorstops anywhere else -- and they've stopped focusing on quality and instead put all their effort into getting ink on paper and out the door. Or getting pixels and text on to a web site at all hours of the day. The result has been big, front-page above-the-fold Sunday feature articles on how to choose the right lunchbox for your child and website galleries on non-events that attracted only a handful of people.

Readers/browsers don't want to read something local just because it's local. I argue that 97% of people in my community could care about last Saturday's big dance night at the senior center. But have a COMPETENT journalist spend those resources on a story about how the school superintendent is steering work to a company owned by his wife's family, or produce a good sports photo from the local high school game, and you'll build circulation -- AND revenues.

I'm all for GOOD local content. I've proven in previous jobs that it will sell papers like crazy. But don't just slap anything up there just because it happened nearby. Because people will quickly figure out it's not worth reading. And the ones who use the Internet for information (which obviously includes anyone reading this) have the attention span of a ferret on espresso. They might be visiting your website now because it's new and there's some "buzz" about it, but after a couple of stops in which they find NOTHING that interests them, they won't be back. There's too much else out there.

And by the time that happens, Gannett will have lost many of the dwindling number of readers it now has because they got tired of waiting for interesting content and went to someone else's paper or website. The only ones that will still subscribe are pretty much the ones who do now, who will take any paper -- no matter how awful -- because it's the local one and it has all the obits, marriages, etc.
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Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 9:10 AM on 12.15.06
->> Bob,

I know video is here to stay. I've shot video. I've used it in some of my online slideshows, it adds another layer to my story telling ability. My concern is excatly what David brought up. That all papers want are crappy little 30 second slices that mean little or nothing but allow them to say they have video on their website. I guess my point is they'll want is quick and dirty or the concept of "good enough". Throw as much crap as you can against the wall and see what sticks. Video used in good well thought out story telling along with still photos can be very powerful.

In the end maybe well thought out story telling is what everyone fears is dissappering be it shot with stills or video.

I can't speak for your or other papers but profits where I work are up over last year and eventhough Wallstreet complains we continue to see over 20% profit even in these "troubling" times. Hell our ciculation is even up.

Will that hold for the future? Maybe, maybe not. Good powerful storytelling will always have an audience.
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Evan Parker, Photographer
Valparaiso | IN | USA | Posted: 2:04 PM on 12.15.06
->> "I'm confused by this statement. I'm a photo-journalist. I've always told stories through photography. I don't see how a newspaper photographer can simply take pictures without story content? Please help me on this concept."

Walter, I am glad you ask. I am suggesting SOME newspaper photographers are more interested in taking pictures than telling stories with their chosen medium. SOME newspaper photographers do the best with the assignments given to them from desk editors because they love the craft of photography. They enjoy the pursuit of making interesting images, but that is where it ends for some. To me that is not story telling, it falls closer to illustrator, IMO. Say a newspaper photographer gets an assignment to photograph a politician speaking at a luncheon. Photographer shows up, works the assignment as best they can, and files three pictures (medium, wide and tight). Assignment done. Has this photographer told a story with this work? Or are they recording the event to be paired additional content (words and audio)? Could these photographs stand alone with out words or audio?
This is done all the time in newspapers. But it isn't exactly story telling, IMO.
Some people are using photography to express something they feel inside. A passion they have for something. These people aren't necessary as passionate about photography as they are telling stories with their camera. Following me? It has less to do with being a photographer, and more to do with being a communicator. To these people, I suspect, the transition to video and audio has been exciting if not welcomed. Personally, I am interested in anything that allows me to express my interest in things.
Rob writes, "Good powerful storytelling will always have an audience." That is a very encouraging thought, and I couldn't agree more! I challenge myself, by way of posting my thoughts here, to be more storyteller and less illustrator.
With respect, Evan
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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Belvidere | IL | USA | Posted: 4:19 PM on 12.15.06
->> Based on the type of content the mojos are expected to provide, would it be fair to call them "fluffers"?
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Michael R. Sisak, Student/Intern, Photographer
Commack | NY | USA | Posted: 5:41 PM on 12.15.06
->> Evan,

You're right. There are storytellers in every medium. There are great photogs who can tell you all about that politicians speech with his or her images... and there are those, like you say, who just go through the motions.

The same applies to video, though. And that is where my term "video jockey" comes in. Too often in television news it seems that the camera person doesn't give a darn about the story they're covering. The shots are static, the images might be physically moving, but are emotionally unmoving.

I fear that will happen with point-and-shoot mojos and photographers who have been unceremoniously converted to videographers. The point-and-shooters will get their photos and videos without regard for composition, light or distracting backgrounds... and the photographers who has been stripped of their tools might well be stripped of their passion and inspiration.

Mike
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 9:23 AM on 12.16.06
->> Too often in television news it seems that the camera person doesn't give a darn about the story they're covering. The shots are static, the images might be physically moving, but are emotionally unmoving.

TV folks are dealing with the same corporate penny-pinching monster that PJs are dealing with. They are being asked to do more with less. Most of the time they are not given time to do storytelling in a creative way...and in some cases even in an accurate way. Shoot for coverage, edit quick, move on to the next assignment. When they are given the time to do it right, the results can be incredible.

The big problem we are facing across ALL mediums is media consolidation. When large corporations own media outlets, 99% of the time quality suffers. There's an old engineering saying: "Fast, good or cheap - pick two." Fast and cheap are the choices most corporations pick...driven by the dynamics of Wall Street that severely penalizes the stock price of any company that does not show continuous, ridiculous growth.

Radio has the same problems. Our local flagship AM station used to win awards every year and had one of the best news departments in the city. Clear Channel bought them years ago, and now they are so pinched they don't even read their own national news - they pick up a feed from Fox. The few local news people they have do news broadcasts for a dozen different stations throughout the region. As a result, their content is mostly uninspired.

Newspapers were insulated from the corporate crud for a long time. A lot of newspapers used to be owned by old-money families who generally didn't have a bottom line mentality. The families were a part of the community served by the newspapers. This was an important connection, and gave the papers a community service focus. Sure there are the horror stories of exceptions to this thesis...the misuse of power and influence. But I think, as a whole, individual ownership was much better than the beigeification that happens when corporations are a part of the equation.

Labeling what is going on as a "transition to a new way of storytelling" is just stupid. It almost sounds like a marketing phrase. It is a job elimination, plain and simple.

The job that is being eliminated is photojournalist. It is being replaced with the job of "multimedia content creator", or some other beige title. The same person who currently has the photojournalist job might be able to do the new job, but do not kid yourself into thinking it is the same job. Parts of it are the same, and some of the goals are the same. But the job, at it's core, is different.

So keep in mind when you criticize the TV news shooters for various sins of brevity, "them" will soon be "us".
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Mark Cornelison, Photographer
Lexington | KY | U.S.A. | Posted: 12:40 AM on 12.17.06
->> I shot a game tonight in Louisville, Ky. Kentucky defeated Louisville 61-49 in a decent yet slow game. I am a photographer at the Lexington Herald-Leader, a McClatchy Newspaper and I love it.(heraldleaderphoto.com) There have been changes recently at the paper just like everywhere else but the integrity of the paper remains at this point and alot of moves for more online this or that are looked at very carefully before acting on them. Thank goodness.

Anyway, while shooting tonight I had the pleasure of working with two photographers from the Louisville Courier-Journal
(Gannett) which is normal because we cover a lot of the same stuff. Great guys and I felt sorry for them tonight. The new policy at the paper is of course WEB WEB WEB. I am not kidding when I say, EACH photographer was responsible for 60...yes SIXTY photos from the game, fans, etc. We joked with them that they should shoot the scoreboard every time someone scored and it seemed funny at the time but was really sad.

This was a 1:30 game and one of the shooters actually got a call during the first half to go back and send more fan photos for the web right then. He missed part of the first half and a good chunk of the second half sending in these fan photos for the web, missing crucial game action at the same time. I would ask, what fan is going to the newspaper web site, ANY newspaper website, for an update on a game which is being played on CBS live? Even if they didn't have TV access you could go to either of the schools sites, or the CBS site and see/or hear the game live too. I would love to know how many, if any, hits the paper got DURING the game. The fans whose photo was sent earlier were still AT the game so they didn't look. Did they call home and tell friends and family to go check the web for the photo of them clapping. Doubt it.

It pains me to see good photographers who do excellent work have to deal with this ridiculous kind of treatment. They should have been allowed to do their job, not become Olan Mills trying to make a buck selling a fan photo.

I hope it gets better for them, and all of us.
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