Nashville: It’s a Wrap and Pancakes Are Good, Too

John Seigenthaler Center is on the campus at Vanderbilt, but other than that, not really tied to the U. A nice facility.

Whatever else you might say about the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute’s programs, the food is great. I feasted at a wonderful Italian buffet that kept my body mostly fueled for the long journey home. Previous lunches were all tasty, too.

And, following a tip from the kind lady who was my boss at the University of Missouri College of Engineering Communication office, I tried the Pancake Pantry on my final morning in Nashville. Emily, you are so right. Whenever I travel in the South, I will always pay attention to your eatery advice.

I weighed myself at the gym this morning, and the result was not pretty. It’s not just my head that got swollen in Nashville.

Well, I didn’t travel south just to eat. What did I learn?

A lot, much of it mundane and practical, which doesn’t make it great blog material even if it will help me and the Mount Mercy Times. When our instructors Val Hoeppner and Anne Medley say multimedia journalism, they are talking combinations of audio, video and photography for web display—90 second visual and audio experiences that make the viewer feel as if he or she is “there,” wherever the particular there is. It’s not meant to be the complete story, but an engaging sidebar.

About to enter the portal of knowledge. And cookies. And fruit. And coffee. I need to go on a run ...

They emphatically do not mean TV style reporting, which is no more for the web than newspaper page layout.

That is important food for thought. The model we’ve used at the Mount Mercy Times has been to treat the web as a medium for broadcast-style journalism added to newspaper reporting—we even call the video page of the web site “Times TV.”

Well, I know some students will benefit from the TV-style of reporter-driven story, so I’m not sure we’ll get away from that model completely, but I do want to encourage students to shift to a more web-centered genuine multi-media approach. It has to be a sales job on my part, since students make editorial decisions at the Times.

Back to the workshop. Elizabeth Varin, a reporter for the Imperial Valley Press in El Centro, California, and I produced this report about food recycling at the Nashville Famers Market. Here is a link to a page with other samples.

I worked with Stan Donaldson of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on a video report about a Habitat for Humanity build. I didn’t see a link on the Diversity Institute’s web site for that yet, but I hope to add it later. Stan and I reported together, but then edited separately, which was an interesting exercise—to see how two journalists turn the same raw material into different stories. Future reporting exercise for students? You bet.

Anyway, note that the names of the journalists appear as credit at the end of the projects—that’s the byline. Otherwise, the journalist is not a character in the story. There is no stand-up, no voice-over—both slide shows and video can (and should) be done for the web using interview audio, natural sound, interview video and B-roll.

Lots of B-roll. In fact, Val and Anne said it’s a 90-10 rule—10 percent interview, 90 percent B-roll.

Well. The good news is, without knowing at all what I’m doing, I’ve been on the right track at the Times in terms of equipment. We have most of the software, all of the computers and a lot of the equipment we need. $2,500 for a D70 outfit will be a bite, but, since I just upgraded all the computers last year (our major capital outlay each year) it may be doable this year.

We still need digital audio recorders and microphones, and will need to add some cameras, but we have some decent video cameras already. And a remote microphone rig that I purchased on advice from a student and have been a little disgruntled with because it does not plug into our camera should come in handy after all—having been in Nashville, I think the plug-in problem is probably not hard to solve.

Erich, on that score, you are officially, 90 percent right. You’ll be 100 percent when we get the darn thing plugged in and working.

Of course, I learned more. Too much, blog fans, to bore you with in this post. I’m sure I’ll write about the plants I saw, probably tomorrow. The workshop material will be of ongoing use to me, and I would like to thank Mount Mercy College (Mount Mercy University next week) for sending me.

Val, Mary—Dr. George Daniels, a professor from the University of Alabama, told me he wished he had several weeks before school starts just to think about all the things you taught us. I agree on both counts—I would like to digest before school and you taught us a lot of things—but mostly, thanks for your eye-opening help. And LaVondia, thanks for keeping us comfortable, too.

If you’re in journalism or journalism education and you wonder if you should attend a Diversity Institute Multi-Media conference, the answer is “yes.”

And, on at least one day, go early to the Pancake Pantry. It’s very nearby. If you get there before 7:30 on a Sunday, you’ll get to polish off a tasty mountain of sweet potato pancakes (or some other kind) after being immediately seated and efficiently served—an experience made sweeter as you observe the long line of people waiting while you are on your way out.

And, when you get back home, hit the gym. At the conference, LaVondia Majors will take good care of all your eating/snacking needs.


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