Neal Augenstein

Posts Tagged ‘augenstein’

Broadcasting pro: Change or die

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Change is hard – it’s harder in the world of broadcasting.

With radio and television bosses expecting employees to do more with fewer resources, reluctance to experiment with new technologies and methods of storytelling is no longer an option, says Holland Cooke, whose years of being a radio consultant has morphed to “leveraging talk radio and Internet.”

“Tech is evolving so rapidly now, ‘We’ve never done it that way before’ is pretty much a reason to try it,” says Cooke. “We should do it because we’ve never done it that way before.”

Cooke was the operations manager at WTOP for 7 years, before I joined the station in 1997.

He remembers when a line item for budgets included “batteries for cassette recorders,” and when bulky bag phones were cutting edge technology.

In traditional broadcast industries, many veterans prefer to stick with what they know. Cooke says that practically guarantees those dinosaurs will become extinct.

“I love going to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every year,” says Cooke. “It’s culturally different from the broadcast industry where there’s comfort in the familiar, and best practices that we rely on because they’re time tested old school practices.”

Yet, to be competitive, digital news organizations have to keep changing, even as they’re learning how to incorporate the newest technology.

“At CES, everything that was shiny and new a year earlier is now obsolete – and that’s the point,” says Cooke. “We want to make it smaller, and smarter, and faster, and pleasant surprise, often it’s less expensive.”

No playbook to follow

Cooke says experimenting with consumer-grade phones and tablets and inexpensive applications is far more cost-effective than buying expensive hardware.

“I find some of the tips and hacks on your website real ingenious,  and there’s a community about all this, where we enjoy passing advice back and forth,” says Cooke.

Unlike past years where new technologies went in search of customers, “It’s really the other way around – technology scrambling to keep up with the ways that we need devices to enable us,” says Cooke.

Despite the expectation that journalists be comfortable with creating content on mobile devices, few news organizations teach employees the tips, techniques, and strategies.

“There ought to be more training of the kind that you do,” says Cooke. “You did a lot of on the job training yourself, and I think the experience you have to share is real valuable.”

Cooke encourages the next generation of journalists to maximize and market their familiarity with mobile devices.

“If you want to get hired, present yourself to the digital immigrants – the baby boomers who are radio station managers – as a digital native,” says Cooke.

“College age kids today grew up manipulating this stuff and frankly, folks our age need them to help us translate what we do to that new platform. So I think it’s very opportune to hire young, because there’s a skill set that goes along with that generation.”

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Mobile, yes. Video, no.

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2013 at 12:36 am

Mobile is the future.

Everyone loves video.

Yet, video isn’t the answer on mobile.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

The problem with video: it’s not easily consumed on a tiny screen, and smartphone users aren’t willing to just sit and stare.

A recent marketing study by Experian shows users spend less than 1% of their time watching video.

And who can blame them? There are so many other tasks smartphone users want to try to fit in while grabbing a cup of coffee, waiting for a bus, or stopped at a traffic light.

Sure, there’s time to consume a 6-second Vine, or even a 15-second Instagram video, but a person rushing to check email, post on social media, and surf the web doesn’t have the inclination to concentrate on something that requires two senses, as watching and listening to a video does.

I contend a well-produced audio feature, is far better content for a smartphone or tablet.

ultimatetweet

A few months ago, I detailed the Ultimate Tweet, which lets a user simultaneously listen to an audio feature while viewing a photo montage.

My premise – when producing content for mobile, audio is better than video – does have some potential drawbacks:

  1. It’s more time-consuming to edit, write, voice, mix a longform audio feature than to shoot a Vine or Instagram video.
  2. Audio production is becoming a lost art, as fewer would-be journalists choose radio, in large part because of low salaries.
  3. The perception video is a better storytelling method than audio.

Granted, I enjoy consuming video on my iPhone as much as the next person, and there are times ‘moving pictures’ are the best way to tell a story.

My suggestion:  consider how users will receive your content, and choose the best tools for telling the story creatively.

Twitter chat on #iphonereporting

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2013 at 8:29 am

Participated in a great Twitter chat hosted by PBS MediaShift, sharing tips and strategies on #iphonereporting.

Click here to see the Twitter chat

Let me know if you have any follow-ups!

Cheapest, most important accessory for #iphonereporting

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

20130708-184414.jpg

A microphone windscreen costs under five dollars at any music store or online, yet it’s the most important accessory for #iphonereporting.

The built-in microphone of the iPhone is very susceptible to wind — even a stiff breeze can ruin a recording.

Yet, a simple windscreen has allowed me to use my iPhone during coverage of a hurricane.

Just slide the bottom of the iPhone into the windscreen (remember the built-in mic is just to the left of the charging port) and you’ll be fine.

Looks silly? Maybe. Works? Yep.

Instagram video tutorial

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Vine’s got some major competition.

Instagram can now shoot 15 seconds of video, compared with Vine’s 6. You can choose one of 13 filters, select a cover frame, and share easily.

I’ve been pretty outspoken that while Vine and Instagram are capable of easy, fun, and in some cases very artistic videos, there are better alternatives for #iphonereporting.

Unless you’re just shooting and posting, shooting and posting, shooting and posting, editing counts — and you can’t do much of it on Vine or Instagram.

In Instagram you can delete your most recent snippet, Vine has no editing.

In a real news situation, I’d likely shoot with the built-in camera, edit in Voddio, upload to YouTube, and tweet it.

Still, there is something to be said for fun.

How iOS 7 will improve #iphonereporting

In Uncategorized on June 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

 

When Apple’s new iOS 7 debuts in Fall, two features I believe could mean major improvements for #iphonereporting are FaceTime Audio and AirDrop.

I’m not a developer, and don’t have a beta version with which to experiment, so these are just first impressions on how the new operating system could benefit journalists, public relations professionals, and newsmakers.

FaceTime Audio

Forward-thinking Nick Garnett of the BBC has pioneered doing live reports with FaceTime, in its current video configuration.

In my testing, the connection is generally more stable than Skype, in both WiFi and LTE.

During FaceTime video, the microphone used is located in the phone’s earpiece (where you listen during a standard phone call), next to the front camera.

Holding that microphone a few inches from your mouth provides good, but slightly tinny audio (and a close-up view of your tonsils to the person on the other end of the video chat.)

With FaceTime Audio I’m hopeful the microphone engaged will be the far-superior microphone located on the bottom of the iPhone, directly to the left of the charging part.

The microphone on the bottom of the phone has much better bass response. I use that built-in bottom mic for the majority of my #iphonereporting.

AirDrop

To this point, it’s required some wired connections to transfer videos and photos taken on iPhone to iPad for editing. AirDrop will allow wireless sharing between devices (as long as you have an AirCloud account).

If you’re enthusiastic about how other iOS 7 features could help in #iphonereporting, I’d love to hear about them!

The Ultimate Tweet

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Typing 140 characters and adding a link or photo is so 2010.

Too many news organizations merely toss web or broadcast content in a tweet.

Here’s an example of content created on mobile for mobile.

Silence is golden. And embarrassing.

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2011 at 11:01 am

It’s happened to every reporter — you attempt to play back a recorded interview, and have the horrible realization you failed to capture the audio.

Here’s how to avoid that moment of anger, frustration, and shame if you’re reporting on your iPhone.

First, in Settings, turn ON Airplane Mode, which will prevent your phone from ringing during your recorded interview.

Once you begin recording audio, you can lock your iPhone in Record On by doing something that seems counterintuitive — touching the On-Off button on the top of the iPhone.

Your screen will actually go dark, and you’ll likely think “oh no, I turned off my phone.”

Yet, when you touch the Home button to ‘revive’ your phone, you’ll see your audio app has continued to run in the background while the screen was dark and your audio has been safely recorded.

So simple, yet so important.

Untether from the past

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Declaring independence — from laptops, bags full of cumbersome radio broadcast gear, and perhaps most important, ‘the way it’s always been done.’

iPhone Reporting provides liberty, for those forward-thinkers willing to embrace both the benefits and challenges it poses. Comparison to work produced by journalists using full-size and function gear is inevitable and helpful, but is often comparing apples to oranges.

I estimate the audio quality of the built-in microphone of the iPhone4 to be 92-percent as good as that recorded with my Shure SM63 into a Marantz PMD620.

While some might argue “the listener will notice the difference,” I assure you a well-produced iPhone Reporting wrap, including your voice track, newsmakers, and natural sound will be almost aurally identical to the report filed by a journalist carrying traditional gear.

Yet, the iPhone Reporter can also provide cropped photos, edited video, and social networking — without having to find, set-up, boot-up, and dub from another device.

Publisher and broadcast media mogul Walter Annenberg once said “I cannot compromise or inhibit my independence.”

I think he’d agree compromise as a way of achieving independence is a goal worth working toward.

Do THIS Before Your Next Interview

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2011 at 2:56 am

Load Skype on your smartphone.

Your voice will SOUND much better on the air.

It’s free, it’s easy to set up and use, and you will set yourself apart from other newsmakers and PR people who rely on lousy cell or landline connections.

Anyone with a fairly recent smartphone can establish a free Skype account, at www.skype.com.

Using voice over Internet technology, you can make free calls to other Skype users.

With Skype you don’t need to know a person’s phone number — you’ll want to know their contact account name.

For instance, if we were going to do an interview, I’d tell you our Skype account is wtopnews.

Once you establish your free Skype account, and download it on your phone, you would Search Skype Directory, and add wtopnews to your contacts.

When it’s time for the interview, you press Call, and a notification pops up on our newsroom computer that you are calling. We click Answer, and we’re connected.

Or, I can call you, once I know your Skype contact name.

As in any phone conversation, you hear through the earpiece and speak into the mouthpiece.

If you’re in a wifi hot spot, and especially if using an iPhone, or iPod Touch, as I record our conversation you will likely sound almost as good as if you were using expensive broadcast equipment.

If your office has wifi, you can sit at your desk, with all your creature comforts, while speaking into your “smartphone-turned-broadcast-microphone.”

If you’re on the road, even when relying on a 3G connection, you will sound markedly better using a Skype connection than dialing a “regular” phone call.

Since you care about sounding good, make sure journalists know you are Skype-equipped.

When pitching stories, include your Skype contact address.

Include your Skype address on your business card.

When a reporter calls for an interview, ask “would you like to do this on Skype?”

With radio news on FM, HD, satellite, and streamed online, “can you hear me now” won’t cut it anymore.

Download Skype on your phone — you won’t regret it. And let me know if you have any questions.