Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’
06 Nov

NYT VR: It’s just the beginning of a long road

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I watched NYT/VRSE’s VR mini documentary called The Displaced, through the newly launched NYT VR app and it is clearly a sign of things to come.

Here are some thoughts after I watched the piece.

First, like other VR apps, the app itself took seconds to download, but the actual VR content took more time. The Displaced was 329MBs and took a few minutes to download. How long? I don’t know, I set it to download and worked on other things.

Whether we like it or not, this is the current state of VR… streaming is still clunky, but, of course, it’s just a matter of time before the tech catches up.

Now the piece itself.

It was gorgeous.

There are some truly beautiful shots they got and could only capture through a 360 rig.

They displayed creativity by having diverse shots, ranging from static with a tripod to mounted on a bike to handheld by a kid run after another.

You can tell by the rig's shadow, it's not the GoPro setup.

You can tell by the rig’s shadow, it’s not the GoPro setup.

The stitching, which is one of the major challenges in video VR, was pretty impressive and, based on the shadows the rig left, this was captured and stitched through something more advanced that the “simple” 6-camera, GoPro rig. Perhaps a Jaunt VR or Nokia’s Ozo setup.

The audio was the “voice of god” style and was not 360, but it was still powerful to hear the children in their our voices and languages, telling their own stories.

Due to the languages, the piece relied on subtitles.

And, while they cleverly placed the subtitles around three locations, the text was still hard to read, at least via Google Cardboard.

Bonus: You can watch this piece holding your phone vertically and but’s a great experience. (Whether you like it or not, vertical video is winning!)

Now, the bad news.

Outside of the high-level understanding of the story – three displaced kids – I don’t know what they really said. I couldn’t quote it back to you.

This is one of those it’s-beautiful-like-Snow-Fall-but-I-don’t-remember-the-actual-story situation, which VR is going to face as it starts out.

Most VR offers the flash of new and cool through tech rather than substance of story, but this piece really tried to deliver the story. It has incredible shots and visually takes advantage of each 360 degree.

But it’s not a powerful piece like, say, Perspectives I: The Party.

The real test is whether or not people download the next set of stories and continue to use the app – with or without Cardboard. That’s a high bar that content I can’t remember may not make it over. It’s a high bar that we all have to overcome if we want this to truly take off.

I am excited for what’s to come and – from I hear through the VR community – you should be too.

I spy the production crew (the only show you really see them).

22 Oct

You don’t need to be the NYTimes to do VR (posted on Medium)

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I wrote this piece reacting to the news that The New York Times and Google were partnering up to do a major VR push. Got a lot of social shared and recommendations via Medium.


Yay! Here comes everybody!

It’s great to see the rush of people coming to explore the emerging tech of virtual reality. Yes, it appears the overly-hyped promise that under delivered for several decades has finally become a legitimate reality.

All thanks to a former journalism student turned billionaire and this smart lady.

I’ve been exploring different forms of VR dating back to my college days when I was fascinated by Apple QuickTime VT Studio, but I am no pioneer. I have been more into Augmented Reality (I still think it is the most promising future) since I became a professor at USC Annenberg some six years ago.

But after attending a local VR conference about a year ago, I knew this was going to be huge.

So, I created a course with the aim of exploring what the hell VR experiences could be in journalism.

Read more here:

21 Feb

NENPA: My #realtalk presentation to newsroom leaders

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I was invited to speak at the New England Newspaper Publishers Association in Boston to talk about industry challenges, pulling no punches. “We would be quite interested in your views on what most newspapers appear to be doing right or wrong, and the best path forward,” the invitation said.

I had been invited to speak at a different newspaper publishers association in the past.

It didn’t work out. (I got uninvited when I told them my topic.)

But NENPA was committed and even wrote a piece on what I was going to say in my talk.

This talk, for me, was years in the making… one that I imagined giving when I was in the newsroom and one I wanted to give if I have a newsroom leader asking for advice.

Here, for those interested, is my talk*:
[ Hour and 15 minutes ]

Direct link:

* Sadly, the projector changed the color of the slides… it’s not perfect, but it’s the content that matters, right? Right??

For those not interested in watching the entire video, here’s an animated GIF of the nutgraph from my talk:


07 Apr

My ISOJ talk: Life After Television + Mobile is Dead

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I was honored to be asked by Rosental Alves to chair/moderate a talk with some amazing panelists (Rahul Chopra, senior vice president video at News Corp; Daniel Eilemberg, senior vice president, chief digital officer at Fusion; Rebecca Howard, general manager video, The New York Times; Riyaad Minty, project lead of AJ+ at Al Jazeera; Katharine Zaleski, managing editor at NowThis News), under the topic of Life After Television, a book written by George Gilder.

After Alves explained his vision in planning the panel around the book, I went to the library and checked out both the hardcover and book on (cassette) tape.

For my intro talk, I wanted to summarize and try to explain Gilder’s book and, inspired by its predictions (and the 80s), I decided to add my own grand prediction.

Here are the slides, in animated GIF form, with some text to explain my thoughts.

NOTE: Gilder is known to have said some controversial things about women, people of color and more. While I vehemently disagree with his statements, let’s focus on the book, which was quite impressive.

// Slide 01
The book, which was published in 1990, has many innovative ideas… the first being that it contained advertising for FedEx every five or six pages.



// Slide 02
The short book had a collection of fantastic lines that I wanted to quote. Here is a small a collection. What is impressive is that he essentially describes today’s major players of the Web. He was, however, a bit off with the type of quality, educational and informative content he hoped would be created.



// Slide 03
Perhaps it was the timing of Harold Ramis’ death, perhaps it is that I am overly influenced by the 80s, but the book reminded me of the infamous scene in Ghostbusters where Egon (Ramis) declares “print is dead.” (But it appears that print outlived Egon. How nerds react to that joke.)

I took Gilder’s book as an Egon-esque declaration television is dead. So, I was inspired to make a bold – and clearly early – declaration too.



// Slide 04
Mobile is dead!!! And by that, I really mean, mobile phones… the devices we carry in our purses or back pockets. Wearables – which have been around since the 80s thanks to the work by Steven Mann – have finally begun to mature. It’s not about white guys wearing glass… or brown guys, despite the coverage.

The future is… STOP! It’s not the device.



// Slide 05
If you believe that content is still king, then it’s not about the device. It’s about the content that we optimize on that device. (Please don’t say the ‘medium is the message,’ because I believe that is wrong.)



// Slide 06
So, if it’s not mobile… and it’s content… what the hell am I talking about? One type of technology that I do believe will play a role in the (not-so-distant) future is augmented reality.

This tech we’ve seen in Sci-Fi is real. Re+public labs have used it to augment art/murals in public spaces, with this example in Austin during SXSW. (Learn more here:

And my students and I have produced AR Storytelling + Journalism, by augmenting the downtown Los Angeles Public Library. (Learn more here: and watch the video)



We live in the future. So, journalism better adapt.

P.S. I’m trolling here… kinda. I do believe mobile PHONES will die sooner than we think and replaced by what’s next, like wearables. It’s inevitable. This “declaration” was made in line with the hyperbole from Gilder and “Egon.”

28 Feb

Launched! [blank] is the future of journalism

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[Blank] is the future of journalism is bar game for jaded journalists, created by Kim Bui, David Cohn, Maite Fernandez, Robert Hernandez and Matt Thompson at a DC bar in January 2014.

The premise is that you have two minutes to become a pundit and seriously preach/defend/sell the randomized concept, or [blank], to your jaded friends.

Go play and send us feedback:

12 Dec

Guest on O’Reilly Radar Podcast

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I was fortunate to join Jon Bruner and Jenn Webb, co-hosts of the Radar Podcast for a roundtable discussion with Mark Trammell (of Sonos, previously of Obama HQ and Twitter) and Rebekah Monson (of the University of Miami) during NewsFoo last month.

06 Sep

USC Annenberg Journalism Forum: Storytelling with Google Glass

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I organized and hosted a forum exploring Google Glass and Journalism/Storytelling. It was held on USC Annenberg on Aug. 27, 2013.

Below is the video of the event:

For more on my experiences with Google Glass + Journalism, go here:

11 Aug

“Why All Your Students Must Be Programmers” – The #AEJMCBattleRoyale

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I was fortunate to be on a lively panel for this year’s Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Conference in D.C.

The session was titled “Why all your students must be programmers,” but I named it The #AEJMCBattleRoyale.

Organized and moderated by Medill’s Jeremy Gilbert, the panelists included:

and me.

Here is a G+ Hangout of the talk… as expected, strong language was used and knowledge was dropped.

Here are the latest #AEJMCBattleRoyale tweets:

02 Aug

Mediatwits #89: Google Glass: Revolutionizing News or Public Annoyance?

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I joined a the PBS podcast to talk about Glass + Journalism.

For those interested, I am maintaining a Tumblr about my Glass journalism experience here:

My latest tweets via the @GlassJournalism Twitter account:

24 May

My Google Glass app ideas for different news orgs

Google Glass is clearly in its early stages, but it is emerging as a platform that merits our attention as news and information distributors.

The NYTimes has an app, but I think it really falls short of understanding and using this new platform.

Inspired by Thomas Baekdal‘s Google Glass for news post, here are my Glass app ideas for other news orgs… to help spark ideas and conversation.

These app ideas are practical and based on reality… not hypothetical futuristic dream apps.

// LATimes (or any regional/local news org)
Offer the Glass user an app card with trending/editor selected keywords/topics. The Los Angeles Times already does the keyword selection with their sub-navigation called “trending now.” Today’s (5/23) included: L.A. Mayor’s race, U.S. drones, Boy Scouts, London Attack, Helen Mirren, Lebron James.

Via Glass, the user could say, “Okay LATimes, tell me about [TOPIC]” and it will load the headline and nutgraph… it will of course offer a longer version of the story, perhaps in audio form.

Newspapers and print media also have an opportunity with Glass to embed and launch multimedia elements like videos or photo galleries from their print pages. ​That QR code may finally have value!


// NPR
This one, for now, is the most traditional app to do. The app is a card that plays, when a user opts in, the latest Hourly News Summary that is traditionally read on the air.

These apps are fairly simple tapping into the existing technology and framework. These do not are not “futuristic” apps. Naturally, if we tap into the GPS, we can create an app that brings you the latest news from “around you.”


// @BreakingNews (or other breaking news Twitter accounts)
The obvious option for this essential Twitter account is just to notify the Glass user with every breaking news tweet… but that can be overwhelming.

I’d suggest creating an app where the tweets that get the most retweets at a faster rate get a category of “important,” and those items notify the Glass user. Think of the classic breaking news interruption.


// Circa news app
This new news platform is actually a great fit for Glass. They have broken down a story into bullet points, and they add points to the story as it develops. It knows what you’ve read about the story when you return.

What they should offer is a list of headlines, and, as you do know, you can follow the story for updates. Their app would notify you when a story has been updated. Since the information is a bullet point, it wouldn’t be overwhelming.


// Newsbound
This visual-storytelling platform presents information like a PowerPoint presentation, but it’s compelling. What’s also powerful about this format is that these slides add up to tell a long form piece.

Yes, long form storytelling for Glass.


// SoundGecko
If a visual version of long form doesn’t work, check out SoundGecko, which converts text — any text — into audio.

Yes, at this stage it’s like Siri trying to read you a story, but when you are on the go and you actually want to consume a long form piece, this new technology may be good enough.


Well, since I am pitching Glass app ideas, here are some more “future” and obvious ones:

  • Eventually be apps that are ​GPS aware to give information/news feeds.
  • Based on video’s audio as a timeline, tie bonus material content to the broadcast news story. (This already happens with DVDs/movies and will eventually become available to us.)
  • In terms of TV production, have Glass replace the TV new anchor’s Teletrompter and ear piece.

Two extremely obvious and simple ones:

  • ​Live stream a press conference, but audio quality is not ideal. You can at least do a live POV shot of a scene.
  • Using Glass as your second screen as you watch a live event either on TV on in person… like we do with tweets via hashtag.

I hope news organizations take advantage of this new type of platform and I look forward to what we will produce.

Personally, as a Google Glass Explorer (which gives me the “privilege” to buy and experiment with Glass early), I can’t wait to try these things out to see what works and what doesn’t.