Neal Augenstein

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How to edit a reporter wrap with Ferrite app

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2015 at 1:23 pm

While trying new applications is part of the fun of mobile reporting, changing from a proven app to a new one can be nerve wracking.

Since Day One of my #iphonereporting — February 2010, to be a bit more specific — I’ve used Vericorder apps , most recently Voddio, for my multi-track audio editing.

Not anymore.

After years of neglect,  I began looking, and eventually waiting, for a new multi-track editing app that looked like the Adobe Audition desktop software I’m familiar with.

And then, the Ferrite Recording Studio app, by wooji juice arrived.

With a few taps, I can record interviews, pull cuts, record voice tracks, finely edit, rearrange tracks, change volumes, and mix ambient sounds into a professional-quality report, which can be emailed and shared on social media.

While there are plenty of multi-track recorders for musicians, Ferrite is aimed at journalists and podcasters, in terms of functionality and workflow. It’s iOS-only.

I’m very impressed by the responsiveness of the lead developer, Canis, who has demonstrated an interest and willingness to integrate suggestions from working journalists into feature updates.

Check out the new kid.

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Sometimes old school is better –finish your sentence

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2015 at 5:37 am

 In the old days — the 1990s — radio reporters and anchors played soundbites on cartridges, or carts. They looked like the 8-track tapes your parents may remember.

I’m not advocating going back to that ancient technology, but I am longing for the way journalists crafted their stories around their soundbites.

Since the cart sometimes wouldn’t play when the journalist pressed the On button, scripts were written to deal with that inevitability.  Lead-ins to soundbites came at the end of a sentence, so if there was silence because of cart failure, the audience wouldn’t know, and the anchor would move on to the next story. 

That meant that a journalist might have to get creative, and change his or her wording if the soundbite started in the middle of a sentence, or didn’t contain a complete thought.

It’s called “writing around sound.”

Nowadays, reporters and anchors often lead into their soundbites without finishing their sentences, stopping at an awkward point and inserting an actuality that starts in the middle of a sentence.

I recall hearing a reporter leading into an MOS soundbite stopping after saying a football quarterback’s first name, because the person on the street’s response began with the quarterback’s last name.

How jolting to the listener. And unnatural.

A person listening to audio on the radio or online has to be able to follow the storytelling flow effortlessly. It’s difficult or impossible to rewind to hear something that was missed or confusing.

So, it’s important for reporters and journalists on all platforms to make it easy for users to hear and understand their story, the first time they hear it. Sometimes that involves taking time and creativity to make the story flow.

In this case, old school is better.

 

How to live-tweet a dangerous police standoff

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2015 at 10:53 am

One of the benefits of #iphonereporting is that the journalist can quickly share photos, videos, audio reports and text descriptions of an ongoing dangerous situation.

Yet, misusing the power of a mobile device can have deadly consequences.

Armed with an iPhone, content creation apps,  and social media,  a reporter is able to provide a vivid picture of a SWAT standoff to a huge audience within seconds, but those modern tools need to be tempered with old-school journalistic judgment and restraint.

As an example, let’s say an armed man is holding a hostage inside a home.

policetapeExperienced reporters know that a journalist should avoid describing operational details of the standoff, while it is happening.

Describing SWAT team movements, tactics, and strategies in real-time may result in an action-packed Twitter feed. It may also result in people being killed.

What not to do

A reporter who photographs and tweets, or simply describes seeing a police sharpshooter crawling across a roof to get into position is putting several lives at risk.

Describing the location of SWAT members provides information to the hostage-taker that could jeopardize the operation.

A distraught hostage-taker, intent on making a point through the media, could fire at the sharpshooter, or kill the hostage.

If a reporter has a law enforcement source who is willing to share police strategy — for instance, attempting to lure the hostage-taker toward a window — tweeting that information might be a “Twitter scoop,” but it could also sabotage the plan to free the hostage.

The responsible way to live-tweet a standoff

So, what should the reporter report online and on the air as the standoff is happening?

  • Any information gathered at a news conference is considered “on the record.” As always, it is not a reporter’s job to simply parrot what law enforcement says, but in a standoff situation police sometimes communicate with a hostage-taker through the media. The decision of whether to repeat the police  message verbatim lies with you and your news director. In a life-or-death situation, most news organizations will comply.
  • Tweeting images of the standoff gathered behind the police crime scene tape is fine.
  • Describe how the standoff is affecting the neighborhood, including traffic tie-ups, school lockdowns, and neighbor reactions to the situation. If neighbors mention the hostage-taker or the hostage’s name and background, don’t just tweet that information without verifying. Hold onto that information until the appropriate time, generally after police have released it. Consider how family members would feel if they heard the details from you, rather than authorities.
  • While the situation continues, gather photos, videos, and natural sound that can be tweeted and reported upon after the standoff is resolved.

Remember, bad or dangerous information that you report on Twitter will likely spread faster than you can imagine, and is nearly impossible to retract.

Will your journalistic reputation or someone else’s life be put at risk by your Twitter scoop?

Consider the ramifications before hitting Tweet.

5 years in: How #iphonereporting has succeeded, failed

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

apps

Here’s the introduction to an essay I’ve contributed to next month’s MoJoCon. An e-book containing essays from all the presenters will be provided to all who join us in Ireland.

This past February marked 5 years since I decided to try to do all my field reporting with mobile devices.

So far, so good.

Many aspects of #iphonereporting have changed between 2010 and 2015 — some for better, some for worse..

As I prepare for the RTE International Mobile Journalism Conference, March 27-28, in Dublin, one clear change is the growing number of journalists utilizing, or at least curious about, using mobile devices for creating content in the field.

Many reporters who still use legacy TV or radio gear for their broadcast packages are supplementing those reports with content created on mobile.

Sadly, it’s become clear that few app developers believe there’s a healthy enough market to create apps specifically for journalists.

While “apps designed for journalists” are becoming fewer and fewer, storytelling opportunities are increasing because of the influx and improvements of general interest apps like Twitter and Instagram.

These and other apps harness the power of the phone’s camera and audio, in intuitive ways that make it easy for anyone to record, edit, and share content.

In my opinion, the biggest opportunity (and challenge) for journalists is to embrace the notion that “old school news packages” are no longer the only way to reach your audience, and that there are now more, and easier storytelling avenues.

A well-crafted report, created on these new storytelling apps and shared through social media, may seem like an extra burden and waste of time for a radio or television reporter, yet I’d suggest it’s a new and valuable way to connect with, and expand your audience.

 

Broadcasters are missing a huge mobile opportunity: Engagement in apps

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2015 at 9:36 am

engagementappmockuppUPDATE (1/17/2015): WTOP’s new engagement app is available for download, in iOS or Android. Click here to see how the app is an easier alternative to VoiceMemo.

EARLIER (1/14/2015): Ask any radio or television news organization, and they’ll tell you “mobile is the future.”

So why aren’t any broadcasters acting that way?

Most news bosses have read the headlines — more people are consuming news on mobile devices, so news organizations need to make their content easy to view on phones and tablets.

Responsive mobile sites accomplish the important goal of ensuring a user can view and navigate stories and advertisements.

Yet, all these organizations that unveil a new site and consider their “mobile strategy” done are missing half of the opportunity — to harness and harvest the audience’s infatuation with always having our phones in our hands, and our tough-to-quench thirst for having our say.

Click here to read my entire PBSMediaShift post.

Once-vital VeriCorder now on life support

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

voddiovideo
 

It pains me to report that VeriCorder — the single company  (besides Apple) that facilitated my #iphonereporting — is on its death bed.

VeriCorder, whose multi-track audio editing app has gone by the name of Poddio, VC Audio Pro, VC 1st Video, and now Voddio hasn’t updated the app since November 2013, hasn’t tweeted in 15 months, and has removed its mailing address from its website.

Yes, the app I’ve used for multi-track audio and video editing since 2010 still works with iOS 8, but with more and more crashes.

And now we know why.

Gary Symons, a Canadian former journalist who founded VeriCorder, while technically still president, has moved onto other things, says cousin Kirk Symons, in response to my emailed inquiry about who’s in charge.

Kirk Symons tells me the software assets of VeriCorder Technology are in the process of being sold to a company that hopes to renew and grow the services in the near future.

Kirk Symons says he’s taken over the sales of hardware accessories — including one of my key accessories, the XLR Adapter, which Kirk says he designed — into his own business, called VeriCorder Outlet.

It’s kind of bittersweet the moribund VeriCorder website still contains an unpaid testimonial I contributed, circa 2011: “With my iPhone and VeriCorder apps in my pocket I’m always ready for whatever happens.”

Ironic. And sad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not you, it’s me, 6 Plus

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2014 at 7:35 pm

IMG_0964I had high hopes for our relationship, iPhone 6 Plus.

You’re gorgeous, smart, strong, and refined, but I’ve gotta be honest — you’re more than I can handle.

Yes, the iPhone 6 Plus looks gorgeous, and produces beautiful photos, video, and audio, but I didn’t realize how important being able to do things with one hand was/is to me.

If all I used the iPhone 6 Plus for was creating multimedia content, I’d be happy. Editing audio and video is easier with the larger screen.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t foresee that the balance of the phone, in addition to the extra inches would mean I would have to use my left hand to brace the phone and reach for the top of the screen, while I thumb-clicked and held the phone with my right.

I’d taken for granted how easy it was to take my iPhone 5 out of the holster on my left hip with one hand to quickly check an email, tweet, or snap a photo.

While I tried to make it work, and ordered a holster for the 6 Plus, I’m afraid the chemistry just isn’t there.

I’ve confided in WTOP’s Technical Operations Manager Brian Oliger — my iPhone wingman — that it’s just not working out with the Plus.

Maybe that iPhone 6 is more my style.

A-B test: iPhone 6 Plus vs. iPhone 5

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2014 at 5:29 pm

6pluscloseup

The screen is much bigger, and videos look great on the new iPhone 6 Plus — but is there any improvement in the built-in microphone?

Hear for yourself, with this A-B test, comparing the iPhone 5 with the 6 Plus.

I simultaneously spoke into the microphones located on the bottom of the phones, directly to the left of the charging port, holding the phones about 8 inches from my mouth. In both cases I recorded in the VoiceMemo app.

To my ears the 6 Plus sounds slightly less brassy than the 5, and previous models. I’ve found the tendency toward tinniness in the 5 (and earlier iPhones) is only evident upon close listening, and is generally inaudible after going through a station’s audio processing chain.

Sometimes when you remove the brassiness, audio can sound flat and dull, but I don’t think that’s the case with the 6 Plus. There’s still enough sizzle to hear “sss” and the slightly more bassy presence is pleasant, and not overbearing.

Bottom line: To me, the iPhone 6 Plus records audio slightly better than the 5.

What do you think?

What do you know, iPhone?

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm

findmyiphoneedit

The iPhone is an amazing tool, but it’s just a tool.

This morning I got a reminder that despite all iPhone can do technically, sometimes it’s better to rely on old school technology — the brain.

Yesterday afternoon my wife realized she couldn’t find her iPhone 5s before she left work. She spent two hours retracing her steps, trying to figure out whether she’d misplaced her phone or if someone might have taken it.

By the time she got home she feared it was gone, and was already thinking about how much it would cost to replace.

Her tech-savvy husband (me, smart-aleck) quickly whipped out my iPhone, launched the Find My iPhone app, entered her Apple ID and password, and searched for her phone.

Rats. It was offline, so the app offered no clues on her phone’s location or fate..

After several years living with my wife, I was willing to bet that despite her best efforts to find the phone, it wasn’t lost or stolen, it was somewhere .

We just had to figure out where.

I told my wife I’d come to her office the next day, to help her find the elusive phone.

The hunt is on

Just to play it safe, I activated Lost Mode on her phone. I entered my cell phone number so if some kindhearted soul found it and read the “I’m a lost phone, please press this button to call me” message, I could arrange to meet and reward the Good Samaritan.

Since the phone was offline, all this cool stuff wouldn’t happen until the phone tried to connect to the Internet.

A few hours later, my wife got a computer-generated email from iCloud — someone had found her phone near her office.

Yay, technology!

Since it was late at night, I wasn’t terribly surprised the person who found it hadn’t pressed the button to call me. I figured he or she was just considerate, and somehow knew I had to get up for work at 4 a.m.

I was sure we’d get the phone back in the morning.

Uh-oh, something is wrong

The feeling of confidence disappeared when I woke up.

Checking iCloud, my wife’s phone was off-line again. I had no idea where the phone was. Our lifeline was severed.

Zooming in on the map that showed where her phone was last online, I could see it was on a side street, a half-block from her office.

Quickly, my mind transformed last night’s Good Samaritan into a thief — a scoundrel who was no doubt planning on selling my wife’s precious mobile device for parts on the black market.

Dejectedly, I told my wife to check her company’s lost and found, and email me from her desktop computer when she couldn’t find her iPhone, and I would remotely activate the Erase Phone button on her device, bricking it.

Utilizing all the power of iPhone’s location services, I realized there was very little chance we’d get her phone back.

Somehow, we’d figure out a way to buy her a new phone.

Then something technically unexplainable happened — my wife found her phone at work.

It was under her desk, and had been there all along.

Clearly, iPhone’s GPS wasn’t precise enough to depict her phone in her office, yet the information it provided was enough to cultivate a scenario in my head that trumped my original confidence my wife had misplaced her phone, and that it was somewhere, waiting to be found.

I should have trusted my gut, and knowledge of my wife, instead of taking my iPhone at its word.

After all, it’s just a tool.

Question of the day

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm

What are you trying to accomplish? How can I help?

I’m glad to field your questions on #iphonereporting apps, equipment, strategies, challenges, and workarounds.

From a desktop computer equipped with a microphone or webcam, or a laptop with a built-in microphone, click on this button and Record your question.

 
Record

 
If you’re on a mobile device, or don’t have a microphone, feel free to click Comment below, and type your question.

Look forward to hearing from you!