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Love this crawling quote on my husband’s computer: “It’s not that we say dragons are real…but we say they can be beaten…”
Dragons being, of course, totally (ahem) imaginary creatures that lurk in fairy tales and in the backs of our minds.
Well in the back of my mind lately there’s been a desire to cut out the seemingly endless hours I spend transcribing interviews. I’d looked into voice recognition software in the past and had an inkling there were some possibilities out there. What did me in was a marathon week of listening to and transcribing a panel discussion of high school debaters and interviews with five coaches. Oh – and presentations by the students too.
Word. For. Word.
Regular folks like to talk. Speech and debate folks take it seriously and my fingers and brain were seriously addled by the time I was through. Limpid fingers…mush for brains.
So I finally began my search in earnest and dragons kept resurfacing as a solution.
Dragons Naturally Speaking. Managed to finagle some coupons and points and got it for nearly half off and began my adventure last night. And was frankly pretty impressed. The program is set up for one voice and you have to go through a learning curve with the software. So I spent about ten minutes setting up my profile, which included reading sentences and learning how to insert capital letters and punctuation, how to start a new line and more and then I transcribed two short interviews in slightly more time than it took to view them. Wow.
The method to get this done could be considered multi-tasking to the extreme. Dragon was open to transcribe into MS Word. I had a screen with an interview playing back. I just had to make sure that Word was the active screen and I would repeat word for word whatever the interview subject was saying. Even transcribed some nats.
The only thing better of course would be to plug-in all audio directly for transcription…but this sure beats the old way of listen and type quickly and then back up and start listening and typing again. For my purposes I don’t need impeccable accuracy…so rough drafts are workable for scripting purposes.
And now I’m ready for that next big project – a series of interviews and nats for DSES…and trust me, it is gonna go together oh so much faster than anticipated.
It’s a fact of life. If you can’t keep shifting with the shifting sands, you can’t stay in the business. Yesterday’s skills are so … yesterday. Griping and complaining don’t cut it. So shrug off that load of history and grab the best of what you are and move on…
The din from the “good ole days” group is getting louder. Haven’t heard it this bad since around 2005-ish. The complaint? The usual.
They’re hiring kids with no experience for cheap.
No one wants quality anymore.
Why I can remember…
Well, I can remember too. Remember graduating from college and not being able to get a job in my chosen career because I was (oh no) female. And I have friends from that era who were not part of the mainstream culture who were in the same position, if not worse. African American. Hispanic. Asian. One of them confided to me recently that he had to hire a white friend to front for him on initial contract negotiations so he could just get his foot in the door.
I can remember what you had to learn to get your foot in the door of a broadcast newsroom. You had to know everything about photography and shooting film. Aperture, shutter speed, light meters, how to light with proper filters, sequencing, how to mix chemicals, run the processor, work any shift, take any story, get to a story using only a Thomas Brothers map book in the middle of a cold dark winter.
Things have changed – the gear now is so…well, simple. Turn it on and (all too often) keep it on automatic. The worst digital camera image today is better than the first video camera images. Yes, it seems as if anyone can get hired. I hate to ask, it that YOUR decision? Are YOU the one calling the shots? Second guessing the decision makers will not change the course they are on…if you want to change things, you know where to go.
(pause for reflection)
Sigh. I feel for those who are hurting and passionate about visual storytelling who cannot find work. Went through the same thing myself after my first pregnancy. Had the skills, the experience, but wasn’t…what is that word? I didn’t “fit the profile” of what stations or news directors wanted. (Even heard through the grapevine that one chief photog said I didn’t “look” like a cameraman.)
Many of the current “used to be/wanna be’s” are in the same boat I was in once. Out of nowhere there was a paradigm shift and no one was looking. Carefully enough.
All I can say is – keep on plugging. Learn those new skills. Reinvent yourself. Really really look at what is going on in the media and see if you can fit the model. Maybe you want to make a living wage. Maybe then you’d better reconsider or being willing to work the bottom rung long enough to begin moving up again. Find that small market who will give you a shot. Or grow up and find a real job. The news business has never been one for softies. Remember – we eat our young.
And if you make it to the top of the scrum…remember. Don’t bite the head off the next down and outer who asks if you’ve heard of an opening. Look around, try to help. At the very least, give a word of encouragement, a cup of coffee, and advice. You owe it to them. And yourself.
(wishing you all the best in your efforts….)
Although there are many resources on the web to watch great videos, there’s one outstanding one if you are primarily interested in visual storytelling news style.
TV News Storytellers on facebook has daily posts from cameramen all around the country soliciting input on how to become better or posts from experts in the field demonstrating best practices.
So hop on over and take a look…and enjoy.
It has come to this. Opened my newspaper this morning and there was only a page and a half of classifieds – the (former) staple of income for newspapers. You know them. Lost and found. Cars for sale. Garage sales, used stuff, pets, boats, farm goods.
There are (remember, Stockton is the former Ground Zero for real estate meltdown) three and a half pages of legal notices of trustee sales.
Professional Services has expanded from about half a page in former times to a full page. This includes everything from bankruptcy to tree services.
I wonder how much longer I’ll receive home delivery out here in a rural area?
Facebook reveals many things about your acquaintances – it’s a fun way to socialize and remember old friends and play catch-up. But I saw a posting today that I honestly cannot believe.
A former co-worker at KOVR (CBS affiliate in Sacramento) posted:
“So is it bad that I covered an accident involving a big rig over turned loaded with onions, and then brought back giant sacks of onions to the news room? The purple ones AND the white ones.”
In the words of my (former) students – WTF?
What was he thinking – or was he even thinking? That is an accident…basically a crime scene and he is scavenging. Of course if the corporate boss or even CHP asked him to help clean up the mess by doing that – I can almost understand. Almost. But in all my years in news I never even THOUGHT about what he did.
And he might reply, “but, hey, you took stuff” and my response would be, “yeah…a gift offered. A bottle of wine, a meal sitting with a family we’d been working with all day. Produce from a farmers’ group (shared with the newsroom).” And or course, each of these “gifts” could be questioned…but they were offered, not just taken.
Sound off folks. Was he right or wrong? Let me know.
(What bothers me – ten of the eleven or so responses to his posting thought it was okay.)
Update: This was a minor accident too. Here’s the link.
And yeah, I’m pissed at this unethical behavior and yeah, I’ve taken him off my friend list.
I love bright and shiny new toys as much as the next person, but am cautious when it comes to spending cash or plastic on the latest and brightest and newest. I’d rather wait for others to figure out the bugs – so instead of having iPad 1.0, I figured I’d wait until version 2.6 or 3.1.
But one bright TV station is bolding moving ahead by using i-Pads to replace – PAPER!
WFXL in Albany, Georgia, is using the new devices to replace paper scripts given to anchors on the desk as backup to the teleprompters. Yes, they’ll still use paper in the teleprompter, although apparently – yep, there’s even an app or two for that too.
But the annual savings in paper scripts for anchors and producers is around $9600…well worth the price of low-end i-Pads at around $499 each.
Been following localnewsqueen for a while now and am becoming disappointed. While the initial promise was there to point out failures in broadcast news (and hopefully ways to fix them), what I’m reading is more personal rants and complaints.
From coroners and oranges to the post office and potholes and reposting youtube videos I’ve seen before…the variety is there, the concept is there, but the writing is becoming weaker…less about news and more about her.
I’ve had a couple of friends in the biz point out the ethical issues of anonymity in a blog such as this one…a journalist exposing the guts of TV news. Yeah, that bothered me…and I’m beginning to suspect the reason for secrecy is that these stories may not be about one person.
Posted on the blog is the following:
Vent to the Queen
Do you work in local news?
Share a story:
(Your name and email will remain anonymous)
So are these her stories, ideas, rants? Or someone else’s?
For weeks I’ve been watching the despair on my high school campus as our school board struggled with massive financial problems and we all feared equally massive layoffs. The worst case scenario in my district is nearly 400 teachers gone next year.
The board backed off a bit when the state finally came up with a budget…by reinstating more than 170 some-odd elementary positions by keeping class size reduction at the elementary level. Big sigh of relief all around.
But now the high school staffs wait their turn – and there are no reassurances of equal treatment. In fact what I’m hearing is additional programs are possibly on the block – journalism, yearbook. Possibly broadcasting. All electives, but all classes that encourage independent thinking and leadership.
I got my start in journalism in 1964 at Lodi High School. I’d caught the photography bug a few years earlier when I got my first camera and then took the equivalent of online or distant learning classes from the UC/University of California system. They’d mail me lessons, which I’d complete and return…they would grade and send me another lesson. Slow but very effective.
In high school I learned to come out of my shell, shoot well-composed photos, get names, understand writing and layouts. Alright – so I mostly wanted to be a photog, but I did learn a bit of everything in both yearbook (Tokay) and journalism (The Flame).
Now I was double or triple-bitten. My love of photography expanded to a love of photojournalism and lead to a nearly three-decades long career in TV news.
I have students who can’t imagine our campus without these classes – and I sincerely hope they aren’t all cut. I know the school board is faced with few choices…what to save? Music? Languages? Technology? Art? Sports? AVID? (no – not the nonlinear editing program – the college prep class) Journalism is one of the ties that bind a campus together. It is a mirror of the micro-society of the school and informs and entertains. It can dispel rumors with facts and recognize achievement.
What small-minded administrators and controlling school boards could not accomplish in other districts may take place due to budget cuts right here at home.
And generally what disappears does not easily reappear.
This is a message to all who teach journalism and broadcasting – primarily on the high school level, but pretty much anyone who is teaching to a rapidly evolving field. I snoop around on listservs and blogs and there seems to be a growing awareness (duh) and a slight feeling of panic (oh yeah) about the fact that newspapers are disappearing. What is being taught in many high schools may no longer be a practical skill set, but outdated.
So here’s the message: I’ve been watching the convergence/morphing/disappearance of media for the past five or six years.
What you are seeing is momentous – historic. Nothing like this has happened since the invention of the printing press. Even radio and television did not have the effect on media that the Internet has. Both of the former merely adapted what was there to fit their format.
The Internet is forcing changes and literally destroying the old media.
Throwing up your hands and bemoaning what is inevitable will not help.
What will help is working with your bright young students who are technophiles and asking them what they would do. Somewhere out there is the genius or geniuses who will tie together the best of the old and new – and I strongly suspect it won’t be some old geezer who can’t see anything because they keep looking back to the past rather than forward.
Toss this out to your classes – ask them what they love about each type of media and what they hate. Ask them to design the perfect media – what elements would they keep/what would they toss.
These are scary times…my former freshman/now seniors are almost crying because what they are studying for is fast disappearing. Sometimes you can’t follow in footsteps already there…you have to be a leader and make your own trail.
Final note: the heart and soul of what you are teaching remains the same. Good solid research, sticking to the facts, neutral stance, clear writing. What is changing is where and how the audience accesses the information. Your students are probably way ahead of your there – and many of you may have your hands tied (I know I do) by districts that live in fear of the Internet.
A local school had a spot of bad news in my area this past week and parents were texting kids about what was happening before most of the staff was aware of the news. Kids on computers were pulling up stories off the local newspaper and TV websites. Kids walk into my classroom asking to Bluetooth songs to my computer so they can use them in projects. They Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, email, AIM, and text the way we walk and talk.
Use that power and have them tell you what the future is.
What’s a rumor? Usually something spicy. Juicy. We love to hear them and share them.
The official definition, from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is
1: talk or opinion widely disseminated with no discernible source
2: a statement or report current without known authority for its truth
3: archaic : talk or report of a notable person or event
By now you’ve probably figured out I’ve got a rumor! And it is one I am checking on because, if true, there’s a story here.
Now the trick to turning a rumor into a story is to first, decide if there is a story there and second, would writing this story benefit the public? Yeah, just running with it cause it is interesting isn’t enough for me; sorry.
This rumor came to me by way of a very casual acquaintance and involves an attempt to ban books in a small school district. I’m calling this a rumor because it was passed along as part of a conversation where we were chewing the fat and generally complaining about what is wrong with education today.
Now how can I check on this to see if it is true? Well first off, I tend to trust the source. I see no vendetta…no reason for this to be false. I do know, from past experience, that often frustration leads to folks wanting to believe half-truths, which are repeated – but this does not seem to be the case.
So I know who the major players are and I know the location. Once I make a few calls to verify, I’ll move on.
Just a warning about the dangers of rumors. A rumor repeated publicly can not only destroy lives, as in livelihoods – it can also cause loss of life, as in suicide. For many people, loss of reputation is loss of self-esteem and loss of reason to go on with life.
When I was working at KOVR we got a call from a woman who claimed a local high school vice-principal had inappropriately touched her granddaughter. Great story – but, hey this could have been a looney-toon or someone with a grudge. Reporter Craig Prosser sat on the story as it progressed through the investigation until the cops actually charged the VP. To act sooner might have ruined a life of an innocent man had the charge been false.
I’ll let ya know how this goes if it takes wing and flies.
Update: hey, before even publishing this I gave a heads up to my source and she took my advice and will be meeting w/her local news agency today. More next week.
Updated on October 19, 2008
The English teachers at the small Central Valley high school met with their local newspaper editor this past Friday. The issue: a parent complaining that Bless Me, Ultima (by Rudolfo Anaya) had obscene language and was inappropriate for students to read. A quick web search shows that this book is on the American Library Association’s 100 most challenged books.
Now the teachers who are upset about this attempt to ban the book did not require the dissenter’s child to read it – they offered alternatives, realizing that some books may not be appropriate to every child.
No – what they are upset about is (1) their superintendent formed a secret committee to study whether to ban it and (2) he admits he hasn’t even read the book – he apparently is relying solely on what the complaining parent alleges.
Now let’s hear it for the local newspaper editor, who is reading the book this weekend to see what all the hoopla is about.
The school board meeting is this week and the teachers intend to be there to support their side.
Stay tuned to see how this develops.