Thursday, November 29, 2007

Did Rehema Ellis cross the line?

This week NBC Nightly News has been running a series of special reports on the status of African-American women.

Last night (Wednesday), the story focused on the number of single mothers in the African-American community.

Near the end of the report, NBC News correspondent Rehema Ellis, an African-American woman herself revealed that she herself is a divorced single mother with a young child.

In the tag (the live portion of a news report that followed the pre-recorded portion), she articulates her struggle with doing the series as a black woman.

I thought this was a bit odd for a reporter to step out of her role as a reporter and begin to reveal her own experience. I wondered if, in fact, she crossed the ethical line of reporting in an objective fashion.

It just so happens that we're doing an journalism ethics unit in BOTH of my classes this week. So, for my overwhelmingly female senior-level course for journalism teachers, I played the report.

The mostly female audience thought Rehema added a degree of authenticity to her report by first being a black woman and secondly providing that as a part of her story.

It brings to mind the whole issue of whether a person of color brings more authenticity to a story that focuses primarily on the experience of those from an under-represented racial group. Would an objective white male be able to see more CLEARLY what these women were saying -- by asking the TOUGH questions instead of commiserating with the other black women who have had trouble finding a mate.

As a single black male,I, personally, was troubled by some of the comments of the women in the piece. So, perhaps I am not in a position to OBJECTIVELY evaluate whether Rehema's link to this particular topic cROSSED The ethical line.

As I told my students today, by disclosing her own experience to viewers, Rehema, in fact, did let viewers know exactly where she stood in doing this report. That disclosure is important part of what we consider to be ethical way of doing journalism.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Video edited on a PC- not bad

Checking out this new video camera, I feel like Mike Wendland, "the tech guy" formerly of Detroit's WDIV-Channel 4. (The self-proclaimed tech guy now is the convergence editor and technology columnist at The Detroit Free Press.)

Honestly I don't think of the Windows machine as the best place for video editing or multimedia production. I know thousands use the Adobe Premiere and other applications on the Windows machines to do video production. But, I've been partial to the Macintosh when it comes to video.

With this second test of the Flip Video camera on the PC side-- using Windows MovieMaker, I'm convinced it's a workable alternative.

Yes, the audio is very scratchy. That REALLY bothers me. But, one cannot expect much from a very low-end piece of equipment. The idea is to have moving video to EXPAND what one can do just with text.

Today most of our students come to us relatively familiar with the PC or Windows machines. Macintosh computers are NEW for them. Most of them will work on a Windows machine at home (as I do). But, what I wanted to show is a workable way to capture and work in multimedia on the Windows side, if you happen to be in that situation.

Make no mistake: I still think Mac's iLife package (with iMovie) and other applications built for the Macintosh like Final Cut Pro Express and Final Cut Pro are superior.

But, with MovieMaker and an inexpensive camera like the Flip video camera, quick video capture and editing is do-able. Additionally, with the audio editing program Audacity, the audio editing program, one can also do audio editing relatively easily.

$119 Camcorder In Service

As I get ready for my Reporting and Writing Across Media class in the Spring, I've been checking out the latest digital media capture tools. Every time I teach this course, the tools are more and more accessible.

The number of students with digital cameras is its highest ever. In fact, I think it's fair to assume most students know how to get digital images-- either by taking them with a digital camera or having film processed to CD.

At the beginning of this year, Former Tuscaloosa News Online Director Dwayne Fatheree predicted video would be the NEXT BIG THING.

With this $119 video camera, I can see what he means. Today, I unpacked the video camera, gave it try on the deck behind my house.

I just realized today that BLOGGER allows us to upload videos directly to our blog.
So we're trying that feature in this particular posting.

WTVR, WWBT to Switch Owners

Big news that I just read last night-- my old TV station-- my HOME STATION WTVR-TV in Richmond is being sold.

This picture was taken in the 1980s when I was an intern (Summer 1989). But, you can see the old WTVR newsroom-- Martha Quinsenberry (spelling?) producing a newscast behind me. I was just finishing my freshman year at Howard University when I got this internship.

As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this month, Montgomery, Ala.-based Raycom Media is purchasing my former competitor, WWBT-TV, which is being sold by Lincoln Financial Corp.

This shot taken in the 21st century shows the Channel 6 set today-- as part of the Raycom Media family.

This might not mean a lot to most people-- even those from Richmond, Va. or IN Richmond, Va. Fifteen years ago (when I was employed at WTVR, the CBS affiliate) if you had told me that we would be up for sale and our arch competitor was going to be bought by our parent company, I would not have believed it.

But, it's a different day and different time. In 1992, there was a passion at the South's First Television Station that perhaps is not there now. In those days, Elliott Wiser was the news director and as tough of a boss as he was, we REALLY competed with our friends/rivals at Channel 12.

Nowadays, when I go home and watch Channel 6, I don't see that same passion. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps I've gotten the "big head" after working in larger markets in Cincinnati (WLWT from 1993 to 1995) and Atlanta (WXIA from 1995 to 2000).

Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised to read on the Alabama Broadcasters Association weekly e-mail about Raycom Media's decision to purchase WWBT-TV from Lincoln Financial, the latest owner of what were Jefferson-Pilot TV stations, WBT-TV (Charlotte) and WWBT-TV in Richmond.

Hey, it makes sense-- WWBT is s dominant number-one station... in part because of its stable talent. After I left the Richmond market (and sometimes when I was there), my own parents became faithful WWBT-12 News viewers. So, if you own folks don't watch your station, it's no wonder that it becomes a less valuable property.

What will be interesting to watch is WHO will buy WTVR. As the cliche goes, "ONLY TIME WILL TELL."