Former NYFA student Linda Zhang had the lead story recently on KION News in California. The station broadcasts to two separate cities on two different channels. (Plus cable, of course.) The story is about a seaside community where the beach sand was literally being “mined,” then sold. An agreement has been reached to end the mining, and save the beach.
One topic that goes around-and-around-and-around here in the United States is the toxic relationship between the administration of President Donald Trump and the American news media. I normally don’t include items on this subject, as they would crowd out everything else. But this week I am making an exception…ABC News is launching a new digital program called “Briefing Room.” It is a response to the Trump Administration’s decisions to hold daily audio-only press briefings off-camera, or invitation-only office briefings, or no briefings at all. The show will stream live on ABCNews.com and the ABC News YouTube and Facebook pages. So even when the White House restricts access, or refuses to even hold formal briefings, there will be a “briefing” none-the-less.NBC News is gearing up a new digital daily news program called “Stay Tuned” that will be distributed via Snapchat’s Discover platform. Aimed squarely at folks who get their news on the phone, this four-minute program will air twice a day on weekdays, and once on weekends. Media reports say it will have a staff of 30, which makes it a substantial undertaking.Note that I saw this story on Refinery 29, another example of a platform where all different types of content are gathered. The pop-up ad on the page I grabbed had an ad for Nordstrom, which is an upmarket department store. (It was a fluke … I’m not really all that fashionable.)As my current and former students know, I love a good graphic. So, staying with the theme of digital distribution, Bloomberg has been working to speed up load times for its content. (Because a slow load often translates into a bored viewer leaving a site and looking for something else.) Note the graphic that accompanied an article on the subject in Digiday. Those of you of a certain age will recognize the American cartoon character Wile E. Coyote. Even if you don’t know the cultural context, it is still funny. (Isn’t it?) But if you do know, it says a lot about how even a generally straight-ahead news publisher sometimes decides to have some fun.I got so much feedback from the NYFA Viewbook galley proof I posted last week that I decided it made sense to post another. Current students and alumni will recognize the studio we use to produce “NYFA News.” We employ a green screen effect to insert the co-anchors into a “virtual set'” which is made up of only zeros and ones, but looks like a network control room. The two co-anchors come from Brooklyn and Kunming (China).NYFA grad Daniel Fideli is hard at work back home in Brazil, where he is working with the sports channel SPORTV. (The channel is owned by the Brazilian media giant Globo.) Daniel holds a special place in NYFA broadcast journalism history, thanks to an epic journey he and a classmate took through the New York subway system in order to retrace the footsteps of the heroes of the 1970s cult movie “The Warriors.” (The film takes place in a dystopian New York at some point in the not-so-distant future: 2016.) It was one of the most unique student projects I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of student projects.Nice work, Linda. And working “on deadline” too!And we end with a “postcard” from NYFA instructor Zack Baddorf, currently on sabbatical in the Central African Republic. For 90 seconds, join him as he goes “Flying Down the Chinko” in an ultralight aircraft.
Nothing seems quite as dated as “yesterday’s tomorrow.” That may turn out to be the story of Snapchat. Not so long ago, it was seemingly everyone’s media darling. Now it is facing substantial doubts, especially with investors. A year ago publishers who couldn’t get into Snapchat Discover started private accounts, so they could benefit from all the buzz. Now Digiday reports that publishers are migrating to Instagram. Proving once again, there are no “sure things.”There are, however, media heroes. Global Voices posted a fascinating story on how Syrian journalists living in exile are providing hope for their homeland, at a time when that quality is exceedingly rare. What we do, as journalists, does make a difference. It’s not always life-changing, but even the most modest story is important. And you don’t have to travel to the ends of the Earth to have an impact. Just look out your window. There are stories out there just waiting to be told.Editing instructor Elizabeth Chatelain, when not teaching NYFA students, has been working on a spectacular PBS documentary called “Life on Parole.” It is about former prisoners in the state of Connecticut, and follows them as they navigate the challenges of their first year on parole. It’s a collaboration with The New York Times, and Beth was an associate editor on the project. It airs tomorrow (7/18) on the PBS “Frontline” series (check your local listings for times). Outside the United States, check the “Frontline” website.Here is a galley proof of the Broadcast Journalism title page in the new NYFA Viewbook. I think it pretty well captures the essence of the program, demonstrating that our students are trained to be multimedia journalists (MMJs). This particular trio comes from Spain, New Jersey and Sweden.The new Summer session students arrived on campus last week, and they are already hard at work on their first stories. In fact, as you read this — assuming you are reading it on Monday 9a-5p NYC time, or the equivalent international off-set — they are out in the field shooting!
As always, we have students from around the world and across the United States. Some of them are accomplished journalists back home, who have come to NYFA to increase and deepen their skill set(s). One is Amina Aslanova, who works for Moscow 24 in Russia. On Saturday — yes, they were in school on a Saturday in July — she shared with her classmates a story in which she reported from a race in which she was actually running…
There are certain themes that I return to again and again. One of them — which current and former students will quickly recognize — is “I have seen the future, and it is on the phone.” Mobile phone, that is. The latest evidence comes from the BBC, as it prioritizes full motion video in its news app. Studies have shown that post engagement soars when you include video. This is a great time to be studying Broadcast Journalism, as we specialize in creating short-form, non-fiction video. You can’t find a more relevant course of study. Not so long ago, the BBC redesigned all of its websites in order to optimize them for mobile.
And speaking of the NYFA Broadcast Journalism course of study, a skill we put a great deal of emphasis on is the ability to conduct effective interviews. Getting the right “sound bite” takes one approach, while asking someone to speak directly “from the heart” is something else entirely. One of my favorite interviewers is Audie Cornish, who is an anchor/correspondent for NPR. (Formerly National Public Radio, but they changed their name to simply NPR so they didn’t seem wedded to a dinosaur technology. Personally, I love radio. But that’s another story…)
The Columbia Journalism Review is doing a series on interviewing, and the most recent edition features Audie Cornish. (I’ll have more to say about Columbia University a little later.)Being a journalist isn’t easy. But some of the people who practice our craft are literally risking their lives to deliver the news. Wired posted an article about a journalist who is “defying ISIS one video at a time.” It is a tremendous read. Yes, it is an old-fashioned “article.” But don’t let that put you off. There are important themes discussed here. And while most of us never have to make the sacrifices that the journalist being profiled regularly endures, inevitably during the course of your career you will be asked to make difficult decisions. The question is: What will you do?So perhaps you were watching the National Geographic cable channel last night. The evening was called “Earth Live,” and it was a real-time, worldwide exploration of the planet’s wildlife. Absolutely amazing! Equally amazing, there were about 50 music segments in this “live” program, all of which were skillfully integrated by NYFA’s own Joel Spector. Joel is the audio wiz behind NYFA News, and he has been with the program since it started. We are incredibly lucky to have Joel, and he asked me to pass along a message to our current students: “Don’t over-modulate your audio! You can’t fix that in post-production!”
OK … He really didn’t ask me to say that. But if he did request me to say something, it would likely be somewhat similar. Our graduates can attest to that.Arrivals and departures are an essential aspect of our craft, and this week I announce the departure of our personal journalism instructor, Thor Neureiter. Thor worked with the Fall 2016 1-year students along with the Spring 2017 1-year class, and he did an outstanding job. How “outstanding”? So outstanding that he has been hired by Columbia University to direct their Video Journalism program. It is a great opportunity for Thor, though we will miss him. (And I still think, if you want to become a multimedia journalist, NYFA is the place to go.)
That’s Thor below, with a fellow attendee at the (non-alcoholic) “toast” following the graduation of the Fall 2016 1-year Broadcast Journalism students. And its a good thing that glass is filled with seltzer, as some of the other attendees were a bit on the young side. (Look carefully…)Good luck, Thor…Meanwhile, NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate Christian Good continues his “world video tour,” this time shooting in Reykjavik, Iceland. And once again, he faces the difficult task of figuring out how to say “Good Morning” to the locals. “Góðan daginn, or something,” he writes.
On Friday, June 27, the first New York Film Academy teen and kids summer camp programs came to an end. As students waited for their graduation ceremony to start, they took selfies while their parents banded together.
As the lights dimmed, the acting students presented their one to two minute monologues. Their head shots were projected before the video began. Filmed against a white background “audition style,” each actor chose a unique piece to perform.
Then, the student’s short films were screened. Their backdrop was the Universal backlot, the same place “Hairspray” was filmed. Students were given a challenge to make a movie without dialogue. They wrote, directed, filmed, and edited their own productions from start to finish.
Their instructors and councilors were in attendance and issued certificates of completion. In their farewells they offered words of encouragement. Camera Instructor Bart Mastronardi offered the wise words of Helen Keller: “Life is either an incredible journey or it’s nothing at all.”
“In five days you’ve done an amazing job. This is one of the best one-week programs. You’re all so ambitious. Parents and grandparents keep pushing these kids. They really appreciate it. Even if they don’t always show it,” said NYFA Instructor Martin Thompson.
After they collected their certificates each student was given a copy of their work to use for reels or to share with friends and family. The graduates and their families finished the night with cupcakes and dancing by the pool.
Head of programs Ale Salinas described the programs objectively in her farewell, stating, “Some of you may have learned that this isn’t what you want to do at all, that’s valid, too. But I’m being honest when I say we’re going to miss you.”
The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all of the students in finishing their first film. We look forward to the seeing second film real soon.
Here in New York, we’re in the middle of an extended Independence Day holiday. However, given that many of you reading this aren’t in New York (or even the United States), here is the latest edition of the Weekly Update. (And for those of you just getting to work after a long weekend, “Happy Wednesday.”)
Google, which wants to challenge Facebook as the “go to” source for digital news has taken another step to insure what it promotes as “news” actually is “news.” They undertook a major redesign of the Google News site, which not only streamlined the look (so it works better on mobile devices) but also gives more prominence to fact-checking. In part, they are looking to crowd-source accuracy as well as clearly identify the publishers behind the information you are seeing.
(I’m old-fashioned, in that I think actual people have better editorial judgement than algorithms. Then again, I subscribe to not one but two newspapers.)
BTW, did you ever notice how this Weekly Update has lots of “where space?” Better for mobile…
These days, the term Broadcast Journalism encompasses a wide range of platforms including legacy (“linear”) media along with an ever-growing array of digital outlets. It’s easy to forget that the first examples of Broadcast Journalism were found on radio, and that radio (now reborn thanks to podcasts) continues to be a great source of engaging content.
One of my favorites is Studio 360, which for years was based at public radio station WNYC here in New York. WNYC is shifting its emphasis to in-house productions, so the producers of Studio 360 went looking for a new partner. They found it in the on-line journal Slate. Part of what makes this relationship so interesting is that it brings together two of the older outlets of “new journalism.” Both have been around for more than a decade, which is a considerable achievement in an era when some platforms struggle to survive a few months, then succumb to a sea of “red ink.” (In bookkeeping, losses are written in red, profits in black.) You need more than compelling content succeed. You have to figure out a way to monetize your concept.
Those of you who have already attended NYFA know that one of the things we discuss is the transition from “broadcasting” to “narrowcasting,” as media platforms seek to reach niche audiences. Digiday had a nice posting on how Atlantic Media’s CityLab is looking to turn a profit reaching those involved in urban policymaking and development. One of the great secrets in our craft is how there is always a need for talented multimedia journalists in organizations that reach audiences most of us never realized existed.
For many years, my production company created news packages and mini-documentaries for an in-house news program produced by Johnson & Johnson, the global pharmaceutical and consumer products company. In fact, it was thanks to J&J that I traveled across China, setting the stage for my many documentary projects there. One of my favorite projects, Sichuan Stories, took me to rural Sichuan province to report on recovery efforts following a devastating earthquake.
Last week Spring 1-Year students Yvonne Camara and Odera Okapu made their debut as co-anchors of the latest edition of NYFA News. And while we don’t do the program with smoke and mirrors, we do use a green screen effect. Yvonne is from France, while Odera is from New York by way of Nigeria. The show’s producer is from Croatia. Talk about a global production staff!
Our graduates are working around the world too. Recently short-term workshop graduate Alexandra Vidal was covering a Joaquin Sabina concert at the WiZink Center in Madrid. It looks like she was having fun. (Plus, if you are with “the media,” you get to go to concerts for free. Yes, you have to produce a story, but I can think of worse places to work…
Meanwhile, in Italy, NYFA grad Giordano Locchi told me he is now working at Adnkronos, a national news agency based in Rome. (He promised to send me some of his stories.) And while is certainly doing well, he adds “…I really miss New York.”
On June 24, The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) Veteran Services Department was fortunate to collaborate with Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) to host a daylong exclusive employment workshop for NYFA’s veteran students. The NYFA military students also benefited from one-on-one time with the Transition Specialists from HHUSA.Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, assisting veterans and spouses with finding employment.
The first half of the eight-hour workshop was a practicum related to resume theory, networking techniques, and how to affectively prepare for an interview. Representatives from Hire Heroes USA, Jamie Rimphanli and Walter Serrano, coached veteran students on how to properly format their resumes and discussed, in-depth, the importance of networking and how to prepare for a job interview.
For the second half of the workshop, industry professionals from Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Legendary Entertainment, and Plan A Locations joined the workshop for a moderated Q&A panel discussion. Panelists discussed how they began their careers in the entertainment industry and how they’ve navigated their careers for success.
Highlights from the day included an exercise that had all of the participants do a speed networking session. Also, HHUSA brought a photographer who took professional head shots for the veteran students’ LinkedIn pages.
“We felt that this training and these types of vet student-centric activities are increasingly important because they help prepare our students to meet with HR/Talent Acquisition teams from the major studios,” explained NYFA Director of Veterans Services Department John Powers.
Retired Army veteran and MFA cinematography student Bryan Hudson stated, “The Hire Heroes USA workshop was a fantastic forum to introduce veterans with industry insiders and provide the opportunity to learn from them. The event was beneficial to everyone involved about learning the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the interview process and how to break into the entertainment industry. One thing that I learned from the workshop is to establish relationships that will be beneficial to both parties. Thank you to the NYFA Veterans Department for putting on this marvelous event, and I hope that this will be the first of many events with Hire Heroes USA.”
The NYFA Veteran Services Department is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for partnering with us to bring this wonderful opportunity to NYFA veteran students.
This week I want to start off with a look at Spanish language media in the United States. Once a small, niche market, it is increasingly becoming a force in American journalism. NBC purchased the Telemundo network a number of years back. An investor group bought the other major Spanish language network, Univision. And while Univision might be best known for its prime time telenovelas, it’s news effort is first rate. The New York Times Magazine has a great story on how Univision is playing an important role in the communities it serves, combining first-class news coverage with aggressive rumor control.As most of you know, I am a big fan of electronic gadgets, and a firm believer that — if necessary — you can produce an entire news package on your iPhone. But you don’t need high tech to be a good journalist. A reporter in Boston used postcards (you know, postcards … “snail mail”) to gather information on the gentrification of the city’s East End. Since many of the people he was trying to reach don’t live “digital lives,” he distributed postcards throughout the community telling the story of gentrification, and asked people to recount their own experiences. And since the people he wanted to speak with generally communicated in Spanish, the postcards were in español too.
Digging for stories goes far beyond email and voice messages. It involves engaging with, and talking to, real people.Of course, if you want to compete at the national and international level, you better have a good digital game too. CNN developed Great Big Story as a way to diversify their brand, so that they weren’t entirely dependent on news addicts like me (and you?). It is also an acknowledgment that even the most dedicated follower of news can use some time away from the headlines. (Off-beat and involving stories always find an audience.) Bloomberg reports that CNN is growing Great Big Story into a 24-hour streaming channel. And they are betting $40 million dollars on the project…File this under the heading, “Murphy’s Law — Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible moment.” (All of my former students have heard this before. Maybe too many times … but it bears repeating.) That’s what happened at the BBC last week. For four, very long minutes, the computers that pretty much guide the “News At Ten” program went haywire. The result was one of the most catastrophic mess-ups I have ever seen.
But through it all, BBC presenter Huw Edwards did exactly what we train our students to do when something goes terribly wrong in the studio. He remained calm (at least outwardly), and was ready to go once things were finally sorted out.
Take a few minutes and watch the video. It is quite instructive.
There is an ongoing debate about whether the sort of digital content found on platforms like Vice qualifies as “journalism.” (My answer is generally “no.”) One of the exceptions is Vox, which while opinionated is grounded in solid journalistic traditions. Now Vox has partnered with ProPublica, a leading investigative journalism non-profit. (Full disclosure: back in my news reporting days I knew some of the people who went on to work with ProPublica.) It offers a new model for funding investigative reporting, as many traditional media outlets (read “newspapers”) have significantly reduced their investigative coverage.Print publishers have seen their business model decline to the point where they are ready to do (seemingly) anything to generate new revenue. In the case of the Boston Globe, they rented a theater where on a Friday night last month editors and reporters shared “insider” perspectives. (One editor played recordings of his telephone conversations with then-candidate Donald Trump.) While the Globe is the first newspaper to do something like this, Public Radio programs like This American Life and The Moth regularly schedule live “performances” of their stories. (And while they are still “radio” programs, an ever-growing percentage of their listeners hear them via podcasts.)Increasingly, journalists working for a news publisher don’t have to be located in the city (or even the country) where that publisher is based. Cheap, reliable and fast Internet service means that reporters, or even entire units, can be scattered around the globe. This is of particular concern for HuffPost — formerly The Huffington Post, prior to the departure of founder Arianna Huffington — which operates units in 18 countries. Digiday posted a great story recently on how the company is trying to virtually “stitch together” an organization that spans continents and time zones.I don’t know how many of you watched the Tony Awards recently, but I always listen to the Tony Awards. That’s because NYFA News audio maven (that’s “expert”) Joel Spector was once again on-the-job at this year’s ceremony. For years (I won’t say how many) Joel has been the “secret ingredient” in major TV event audio. Fortunately for our students, he brings the same dedication and commitment to his work at NYFA. Thanks, Joel!
We also got another dispatch from Broadcast Journalism instructor Zack Baddorf, who is currently “on sabbatical” in Central Africa.
“Today, after descending from a helicopter, I met this beautiful eland and (very slightly) helped collar him with these rangers, researchers and a vet at a nature reserve in Central African Republic. It was an incredible experience.”
We also heard from NYFA grad Francielle Mianes, but since her message went through Google Translate it doesn’t read as well as it should.
“Today was my debut in the presentation of the program Programa Ver Mais da RICTV Record de Blumenau. This month I’ll lead the program while Gisele Scopel is on vacation! Thank you for trusting in my work … Thank you to all team involved!”Finally, there is an old saying: “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.” Here is an example, a “live shot” by a reporter at the CBS television station in Chicago. Somebody should have spotted this before it went on the air, but nobody did…Stay tuned.
New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism graduates continue to represent their alma mater while working and reporting from locations all around the world!
We start with anchorwoman and presenter Ahlam Tabra.
“Since I returned from NYFA to Dubai, I was promoted from being an anchorwoman on Orient News TV — which is the only news source for many Syrians — to being given a long format primetime show of my own,” said Tabra. “This achievement was in great part due to the skills that I learned attending the NYFA workshop, and I am extremely grateful to the very talented and hardworking instructors that I had the opportunity to work with.”NYFA alumnus George Colli was in the middle of the action when President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. George reported the story to Cox Media television stations across the country.On a far happier note, Broadcast Journalism alumna Federica Polidoro was back on the red carpet again, this time at the Cannes Film Festival.
“I am a correspondent in Cannes for several Italian outlets, print and video,” said Polidoro. “I got an interview with Sofia Coppola and a bunch of other junkets, for instance the Patti Cakes movie that was a hit in Sundance too, and Takashi Miike, director of Blade of the Immortal, a cult/splatter/samurai movie with lot of choreography. I also got a tremendous interview with Eugene Jarecki, a documentarist who presented in special screenings Promised Land, an amazing road movie where Elvis’ life is a metaphor for America. I think that he’s going to be nominated for a 2018 Oscar.”
Staying in Italy, NYFA alumna Chiara Carcano is working on a wonderful digital series called “Chef Save The Food.” Apparently she is playing a number of roles in the production, not least of which is to “clap the slate” (or sometimes simply clap) at the start of each scene. All of the action takes place in the lovely Lombardy region of Italy.
Meanwhile, after a whole lot of emails and phone calls, Broadcast Journalism alumna Sandra Rodriguez has gotten her first job…
“I am super excited to tell you that I got a multimedia journalist position in Yuma, Arizona! I will be reporting for Telemundo and KYMA. I wouldn’t have been able to get this job without your help. You really helped me learn a lot on how to be a great journalist. Once again thank you and thanks to all the other instructors as well!”Sandra, we always say at NYFA that we share our knowledge with our students, but it is their hard work and determination which leads to success. Congratulations!
Down in the Southern Hemisphere (dare I say “down under”) in Australia, Georgia Hammond put together a splendid video for the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation. (45,000+ views, and counting!) It is easy to forget that there are a wide range of corporate video opportunities out there, as everyone today wants to harness the power of video to tell their story. (In fact, I did a number of video projects for Johnson & Johnson, thanks to Rob Halper.)
Toyosi Phillips has never been accused of being shy… which is a good thing, especially if you want a career in the media. Now she is the host of a new digital series called “As Toyo Sees.” She is gearing the program to the large West African diaspora, as well as folks back home in Nigeria. Toyosi is also an entertainment correspondent fro Smooth 98.1FM in Lagos. Apparently, she is very busy…
The big news in the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism department was a visit by Andy Braddell, Vice President and Managing Director of Global Media Services for the Associated Press. Our students (and some instructors too) had a chance to ask questions about how one of the world’s premiere news organizations is meeting the challenge of an ever-changing media environment. Andy also spoke about his career as a front line journalist, and offered our soon-to-graduate 1-year students some practical job-hunting advice.NYFA grad Bryanna Reynolds got viewers of Good Morning Melbourne — my favorite Australian morning chat show — a sneak peak of “My Fair Lady Australia,” directed by the wonderful Julie Andrews. (Apparently this is something of an annual event.) She got the inside story from the show’s stars, and seemed to have a pretty good time in the process!
Continuing in southern hemisphere, Vanessa Lorenzini is now working as a reporter at TV Cultura in Brazil. Headquartered in Sao Paulo, the network specializes in educational and cultural programming, but also has sports and entertainment offerings as well. One of my favorite stories from when Vanessa was a NYFA student is a charming report on how to take care of the family dog during a cold New York City winter. (Little kids and animals, you can’t go wrong…) A portion of that story is included in her 2015 Resume Reel.
Finally, Broadcast Journalism alum Myla Kucherezhko was so inspired by what she learned at NYFA that she made a total career change. She left the world of high finance and is now focusing entirely on being a multimedia journalist. One of her recent projects is a profile of Swedish fashion icon Gudrun Sjoden. (You can see the story on aol.)