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The Texas Tribune Wants You to Help Fund Its Livestreaming Efforts

ttlivestreamingIt’s fair to say that before her marathon filibuster on the Texas Senate floor, not many citizens knew who Wendy Davis was.

But on the night of June 25, 2013, they learned. And nonprofit news organization, The Texas Tribune, which covers politics and policy across the state, is a big reason why Wendy Davis’ filibuster speech was broadcast worldwide via livestream. So, the Tribune wants to take its real-time video coverage efforts a step further and has launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to purchase the technology to livestream the 2014 Texas governor’s election (Davis is reportedly running for Gov. Rick Perry’s post).

That evening, the Tribune had enough forethought to recognize that Davis’ 11-hour appearance at the Capitol, pink running shoes and all, was important and potentially really impactful. The Democrat’s refusal to allow Texas Republicans to ban abortion in the Lone Star State earned her national attention, and the Trib says it provided more than 183,000 people with live, unfiltered coverage of what was going on in Austin.

Read more

How To Maintain a Work Appropriate Social Media Presence

It can be hard to separate the professional from the personal, especially when it comes to social media. Many journalists seem to have a hard time keeping their thoughts to themselves these days and the results are never pretty.

Remember when Shea Allen, the former investigative reporter for WAAY in Huntsville, Ala. got fired for her controversial blog (where she confessed to, among other things, going bra-less on live TV?) Or what about the NBC staffer who was fired for posting an embarrassing video of Bryant Gumbel on the Today Show from 1994, looking foolish and wondering aloud, “What is the Internet, anyway?”

There are so many examples of employees embarrassing themselves on social media platforms (and ultimately paying the price for it). After all, we live in a world where over-sharing is the norm, and privacy has become a thing of the past. Read more

Wibbitz: Turn Text into Video, ‘Readers into Watchers’

Video editors of the world, unite! Wibbitz is a new news application that turns text based articles into short videos using RSS feeds and smart algorithms, complete with natural voice narration and infographics. In five seconds. It’s either the next big thing or the next sign that we’re one step closer to ‘The Fifth Element.”

They’re backed by Horizon Ventures (Spotify, Siri, Summly, among others), so it’s probably both.

The idea behind the technology falls directly in line with the habits of “news snacking” on mobile devices. But don’t publishers have a problem with taking their content and aggregating it? Not really, Wibbitz co-founder Zohar Dayan told me over the phone this week:

Not once they understand our long term vision. Our consumer facing vision is to be a platform that allows third party content providers to produce their own videos out of their own content. It’s mobile friendly and generates higher CPMs, especially with mobile devices.

We all know that producing videos is expensive, and as Dayan notes, “there’s only a certain amount of videos you can produce on a daily basis.” He hypothesizes that on a medium sized website, about 15% of articles have videos, some produced in house, some grabbed from the internet. “We enable them to leverage their own existing content and turn that 15% into 80% percent. Once they understand that, they’re interested in using it on their own platform, and that’s we’re going to enable them to do in the coming months.” Read more

How to Take the Perfect Photo or Video

photo videoMuch like “proficiency in Microsoft Word,” writing alone isn’t going to cut it anymore in the Internet era; successful journalists need real technical chops — starting with quality picture-taking.  And no, that doesn’t mean buying a $3,000 camera.

If anything is to be taken away from the time the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire photography staff, it’s that journos can work with what they’ve got.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, media pros share their tips for taking a good picture or video:

1. Pay Attention to Lighting
“Lighting is everything,” says Charlie Castleman, in-house videographer for esd & associates, a full-service marketing and PR firm based in San Antonio, Texas. As a general rule, if you’re having trouble seeing the subject’s face while you’re shooting, the viewer definitely won’t be able to, either. That said, lighting isn’t as difficult as it seems and, says Castleman, “You don’t have to be an expert cinematographer that spends three hours [on] lighting.”

For more on wielding a camera like a pro, read 6 Tips to Help You Take the Perfect Perfect Photo or Video.

Sherry Yuan

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Journos, Meet TubeStart: Subscription Based Crowdfunding

There are lots of reasons that crowdfunding makes sense to journalists. And there are lots of ways to go about it. Alas, there are also drawbacks to what’s become the standard on platforms like Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Mainly it’s the whole deadline, all-or nothing approach to the major platforms. It’s fun and splashy and intense, but it’s also stressful and often just as much work to run a campaign to raise money for a project than it is to actually complete the project.

That’s why Josef Holm and Claude Shires have created TubeStart, a YouTube centric crowdfunding platform. It makes sense for two reasons.

The first is that the audience is there, waiting to be tapped. Instead of making users come to you, you can reach the bazillion (that’s a technical term) users that already viewing content on YouTube.

And you can monetize that content in a sustainable way. That’s the second part. What makes TubeStart unique is that you can raise funds with a subscription model. Holm says, that “fans can subscribe to over many mnths as opposed to running a month long campaign with the stress of making the goal. You can focus on finding funding to sustain your production costs.”

That’s interesting. The hardest thing about making the foray into video content is that it’s an added expense, and it’s still difficult to make it profitable. A local news organization could create daily news shows and ask users to donate, say, $1 a month for the privelage of viewing — and maybe some exclusive bonus content or other perk. This way, your content is paid for, while still remaining free for the general public, and you can make a few cents with Adsense to boot.

The platform launches August 20 and if you sign up now, TubeStart will waive the platform fees.  

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