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This past summer I tried a small experiment, with the blessing of Lodi News Sentinel editor Richard Hanner and publisher Marty Weybret. They allowed me to to produce some videos focusing on local news – the intent was to see which videos attracted the most audience.
Now the Sentinel is not a paper to rush and try out the newest gizmos or latest fads. Their philosophy is wait and watch. So they’ve been eyeing these multimedia developments with interest, but they are not willing to make investments in new technology until it is proven. The photo staff has produced slideshows and videos from time to time (in fact one of their videos beat all of mine out).
Here are the July numbers (June numbers in parentheses):
1. Egg frying experiment 522
2. Fourth of July fireworks 266
3. Yoyo event 132
4. Plummer ad 97
5. Yosemite 62
6. Albino squirrel 23
7. Micke Grove expansion 7 (39)
8. Lodi man with 4-wheeled bike 5 (141)
The following is from Simon Birch, the Sentinel Multimedia guru:
A couple of points, from my perspective:
• Readers obviously like to watch unusual stuff like frying eggs on cars, although albino squirrels apparently aren’t that exciting.
• Annual events, especially visually oriented ones like fireworks, are probably a good thing to shoot as a routine.
• Think twice about videos of events like park dedications, which obviously don’t get readers excited. I’m NOT saying don’t ever do them, but we need priorities.
When I first talked with Richard about running this experiment, I told him my feelings were that “stupid and sports” would draw viewers. I didn’t mean stupid stories…but more of the youtube, funny, oddbeat type of story. Simon probably said it better by calling these unusual – and the Fried Egg video by News Sentinel photographer Brian Feulner was the top video. A good idea (we’ve all wondered if it really is hot enough to fry an egg) and well explained. Brian is somewhat of a beginner in this, but does a commendable job. My albino squirrel story wasn’t that gripping. The story by reporter Amanda Dyer appealed to the audience more and had the details needed to explain the video.
The Yosemite story was more regional (I wrote about it in an earlier post).
So Simon nailed it. Very local stories, event stories, unusual stories. Looking at the numbers, a paper the size of the Sentinel doesn’t need to flood the market with videos. Just carefully choose the ones you feel your audience will view. Lesson learned.
In a month it will be a year since my younger brother, Dale Mog, passed away from prostrate cancer. He’s been in and out of my mind during this time…but as time passes, his memory becomes more distant.
Today some of my students from last year chose to interrupt my prep period/lunch time to say hi, and we started looking at videos they’d enjoyed working on or watching.
I’m always trying to drive home the power of video and for some reason brought up the memorial I created for Dale. It didn’t hurt to watch it – but last year I honestly had trouble watching. We turned the lights off and as it played the kids commented when they saw shots of me with my brother and him with his wife and son. I told them his dying joke – he was a life long smoker – as he lay in the hospital his last few days: “Don’t worry about this cigarrette – I’ll never have to worry about dying from lung cancer.”
It would seem like something you wouldn’t show to students or talk about…but I think they learned something. They thought it would be horribly sad to visit under those conditions, until I asked would it be better if we didn’t see each other before he died….then explained how during his last week we joked and reminisced (and also came close to crying).
Then the (teacher’s) message – Dale is gone. However, I have this video to look at and recall the good times. It will be with me – and his wife and son. Alexander is only 11 now…but through his mother’s memories and his and this video, he will always have a part of his father with him. Video is powerful and can outlast the people in it.
Memories only last as long as those who hold them…visual images can outlast generations (if properly preserved).
Sorry for the lack of postings, but if you’re a high school teacher you’ll understand. School began a few weeks back and I’m having trouble getting back in the groove. Two new classes, new curriculum. Unable to access my room until school began. Yeah…I’m laggin.
But not in the video department. Managed to sling out another story for the Lodi News Sentinel. And (see two stories immediately below) am heading up the hill Monday evening to follow the Caples Lake fish story. Caples is in one of the pristine areas of the Sierra Nevada range…crisp, clean. Images so sharp your eyes hurt when you look around.
I’ll be up there to document (and hopefully help out with) the fish rescue. Must remind myself to take lots of towels and zip-lock bags to protect gear. I’ll be introducing the story to my students over the next few days, asking them what questions they would ask, who they would question, what shots they would get…and when I return I’ll show them what I got by following their suggestions.
And then some…it seems to me, from what I’ve been hearing, there may be something fishy about this rescue. Stay tuned…
Check it out @ the Caples Lake blog.
Every summer for umpteen years we’ve made the trek up Hiway 88 to Silver Lake, where we deposit various children for a week of 4H Camp. This is an area with a strong tourist industry, but still untouched by rank commercialism.
Only miles away from Silver Lake, but a leap up in altitude, is Caples Lake…formed by a dam built in the early 1900s. Problems with aging gates on the dam have caused the El Dorado Irrigation District to begin an emergency drawdown of water so that the gates can be repaired.
This drawdown was planned to minimize harm to local businesses, states an EID press release. According to this release, the timing of the downdraw is meant to allow dam construction crews a safe window to make repairs before the onset of winter. Work is planned to begin in mid-September.
Of course anything this major is controversial…and 26 year resident John Voss has begun a blog in an attempt to draw attention to the plight of the fish in the lake. An excellent report by Reno TV station KTVN explains the issue (you’ll have to look in the right hand column of videos for the Caples Lake story).
So here’s a real problem. The dam gates must be fixed or they may give way, causing an unexpected massive release of water which could wreck havoc downstream. But what to do with the fish – it is illegal to remove them…Fish and Game must test for disease and there may not be time (or inclination) to go through this process.
Hundreds of trophy size fish may suffocate when the water levels are at their lowest in October and when the lake will likely freeze over for winter. EID is taking the stance that they will restock the fishery. They are also building a “bladder” damn, which may or may not work to save these fish.
So…can a blog save these fish? And how? I wish them luck.