Each week, KQED interns tackle a different word that is dominating headlines. The word for the first week in December was Afghanistan, with just about every show in our newsroom covering President Obama’s decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to the country. Watch what the interns have to say. If your interest is piqued, listen to an episode of Forum that discusses Obama’s decision or The California Report’s story on reactions to news of a possible surge. There are also links to more resources below.
Forum discusses the troop surge:
The California Report talks to liberals about the likely troop surge:
Other articles, shows and resources to help you learn more about Afghanistan:
One positive offshoot of the slowdown in hard news during the holidays are the more creative, feature stories that make their way to the airwaves. My favorite so far this year is the Turkey Drop story that aired on All Things Considered this past weekend.
The story featured an interview with Washington University student Carly MacLeod, who wrote a column for her school newspaper about “turkey drops,” the break ups that plague so many college freshman who have tried and failed to keep their high school romances alive during the transition into college.
Romance and sex columnist Dan Savage was also tapped to give his insight into why a Thanksgiving drop is your last hope for romantic freedom before the onslaught of the Christmas, New Year and Valentine holidays.
One of the interesting things about working in a newsroom is the language (and no, I’m not talking about the colorful, expletive kind) and how a term can saturate conversation one minute and disappear completely the next. Remember, hanging chads, subprime mortgages and our most recent example– the S-curve? Those of us at In Other Words thought it would fun and well, perhaps even helpful, to define one buzzy phrase a week. We started with an easy one: Black Friday.
What terms would you like us to define?
This post was updated on Dec. 17, 2009.
Send us your reflections on two themes: “Coming Out” and “Friday Night.”
Reflections can take the shape of a video, photo slideshow or written commentary. Selected Perspectives will be published on kqed.org and will air on KQED, 88.5 FM, San Francisco. One grand prize winner for each theme will get an iPod Touch.
Hurry– the deadline for the “Coming Out” theme is January 11th, 2010.
The deadline for the “Friday Night” theme is Feb. 8th.
Visit the contest page for more details and email any questions to Amanda Stupi, Digital Natives Coordinating Senior Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been with the Digital Natives project for a little over three months now and one of the major questions that has emerged is the difference between youth voices versus youth journalists.
The Digital Natives project is largely based on the premise that youth produced content will appeal to a youth audience. While I think that premise is overly simplistic, I do think that the more input a news organization can get from young people, the better. But here’s the tough part–what type of youth?
Like any group, youth are not monolithic. Adults’ interests, humor, hobbies and styles are all over the map, and young people are no different. Not everyone under the age of 18 is obsessed with MTV, hip hop, skinny jeans and Gossip Girl. We should not assume that what appeals to some youth will appeal to all youth.
By Nate Hadden
When I was initially told at Youth Radio that I was going to be partnering up with someone from KQED to create a video on health care that the average young person would want to watch, and do this, by re-telling several stories that KQED had already reported, I was very skeptical about the outcome of the project. The subject of health care is so vast and vague that it’s very hard to understand and relay to someone else who’s also uninformed. Even most people who have health care don’t understand why, what, and how their health care and the current health care system works. I felt the process would be like trying to teach a blind person colors or a deaf person what sound an elephant makes. Basically, it would be a very hard thing to accomplish.
When I met Amanda Stupi from KQED, I related my concerns to her, as she did to me, and we found a middle ground. We listened to many KQED shows concerning health care and then we used the facts stated in the KQED pieces in the video. While listening to the KQED shows for information, I found that I had accidently fallen asleep a few times. Also, when I was awake, sometimes I would go into a trance where I could hear someone talking, but I wasn’t actually listening to them — it was kind of like the sound the teacher from Charlie Brown makes when she speaks in class.
At that point, I told Amanda that young people are not going to sit through this video if there’s nothing entertaining for them to watch along with the facts. So I thought to myself, what is all health care related to? Answer: people getting sick or hurt and wanting to get well. What are the most watched videos on You Tube that young people love and watch religiously? Answer: music-related videos, and clips that are funny or show people getting hurt. I told Amanda that information and eventually, we both decided the roles each of us would be responsible for to create this video. Amanda’s role was to make sure all the facts are informative and accurate and my role was to make sure the video was entertaining.
Yesterday, Nate and I continued our collaboration on a health care video. The video is a re-telling, meaning we are taking a KQED story and making it appealing to youth. I cannot stress how much fun it is to work with Nate and hear his take on KQED’s work.
We listened to a recent episode of Forum that discussed Obama’s health care speech. We both took notes on the show, rewinding when someone said a fact that we could possibly integrate into the video. As we listened, we also exchanged thoughts on the show. As someone who has produced Forum, I was curious to hear Nate’s opinions. By the end, we probably sounded a bit like Mystery Science Theatre 3000. And yes, I know I just dated myself.
Nate found Forum a bit boring and thought music would liven it up. He pulled up iTunes and played some Hint, just loud enough too add some energy. It sounded great, and livened up a fairly wonky topic. He half jokingly suggested having a live DJ spin during the show. He also said some of the guests talked too much and suggested following MTV’s model where vjs balance information with entertainment.
Well, you can imagine, my head started spinning in that oh-my-god-I-have-so many-ideas-I-don’t-know-where-to-put-them sort of way. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone re-mix episodes of Forum? Forum: Remixed, the new weekly podcast. I started wondering whether KQED’s engineers could mic a turntable and guests? What topics would warrant such a treatment? Maybe you’ll find out during the next Tales From the Edit Booth.
As part of the Digital Natives project, Youth Radio will use their own words and platforms to re-tell several stories that KQED has already reported. I’m currently working with Nate, one of Youth Radio’s video producers, and the genius behind the Now! That’s What I Call Songs About Politics video. Our goal: to create a video on health care that young people will want to watch, that will be good enough for that compliment of all compliments, to be posted on Facebook.
Working with Nate has been fun and a good lesson in finding the middle ground. We both agree on our goals but we started out with two different visions of getting there. Nate firmly believes that the video must be funny. While I don’t disagree with that, I do worry about being insensitive to a serious topic. He has convinced me that humor will hook an audience that we can then inform. At one point he turned to me and candidly asked why a young person would want to learn about health care, what would motivate them to watch a video about it. I couldn’t really provide a good answer.
My priority on the other hand was information. I want the video to convey enough information to make it worthwhile. Nate and I have set a goal of including 5 facts in the video. Not bad for a project that will only be about a minute long.
Stay tuned for more Tales From the Edit Booth.
By Denise Tejada
On September 3, KQED’s QUEST visited Youth Radio. They shared their rules of thumb for getting a viral hit. The presentation kicked off with a video describing QUEST and the type of stories they produce. QUEST talked about the importance of building an online community, figuring out who your target audience is and where they’re located. Once you have determined your audience they said your next step was to find websites and blogs that can help you reach them. They suggested using Google blog search, Technorati, Alexa, and Alltop—depending on who you are targeting.
QUEST also talked about the importance of building relationships with other sites so that they can potentially serve as extra distribution outlets for your work. I thought it was interesting that QUEST sends emails to different editors and reporters explaining why a certain video would be perfect for their audience. They said this method is a much more personal way of getting someone’s attention and sometimes more effective for spreading video.
I also thought it was interesting how QUEST said their home page is no longer their home page. Viewers can watch QUEST videos in different places on the Internet, not just the QUEST website. Making a video embeddable allows the video to get picked up by other sites. This method allows QUEST to spread their work in places they could never reach alone.
QUEST says they are not just making videos for the web, but also for mobile phones. But doing that requires a whole different strategy. While a video for the web can be longer than two minutes, it’s recommended that videos for mobile phones be under two minutes. One of the few things that is known about this new technology is that people who watch podcasts on their phones like them short, simple, and to the point. Producing videos for phones is something QUEST is still trying to master.
By Amanda Stupi
I wear many hats as the Coordinating Senior Editor for the Digital Natives project. None am I more fond or fearful of than that of editor.
Sure, the wordsmith in me loves to tighten ledes and sentences. The teacher in me delights in watching writers realize the power of showing versus the weakness of telling. But I always fear killing someone’s baby.
Babies, of course, are those sentences or paragraphs that we slave over, that we grow attached to, that we emphasize when reading the piece aloud.
The trouble with babies is that our affection for them blocks our ability to see their overall role in the story. Babies often slow the pace of a scene or delve into editorializing. While killing babies is often good for the overall story, it doesn’t bode well for the relationship between writer and editor.
Even under the best of circumstances, a tension exists between a writer and an editor. Add to the mix the goals of the Digital Natives project and you’ve got a potentially sticky situation. We are two separate organizations trying to create content together. Editing is always tough, but it becomes downright difficult when you don’t have a relationship with the writer: I can’t tell if something is an error or an attempt at humor. I don’t know how attached a writer is to the paragraph I just cut. Is the writer going to read the final version and mumble four-letter words under her breath?