Neal Augenstein

Posts Tagged ‘neal augenstein’

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.

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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

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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.

Amazon Fire records audio better than iPhone 5

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2014 at 5:42 pm

 

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The new Amazon Fire isn’t ready to replace the Apple iPhone in my #iphonereporting bag of tricks, but audio recorded in the built-in microphone of the Fire surpasses the iPhone 5.

In a basic A-B test, the Fire sounds richer than the iPhone.

The Fire does not have a built-in audio recording app (like VoiceMemo for iPhone) so I used the free Easy Voice Recorder app on the Fire and Voddio on the iPhone.

 

The Amazon Fire is only available on AT&T, which provided me a device to test.

Earlier, I found the Samsung S5 sounds better than the iPhone, and I’d give the edge to the S5 over Fire, too.

Unfortunately, since I still haven’t found an intuitive Android multi-track editing app for Fire’s operating system it would be difficult to do a fully-produced report in the field.

Let me know what you think.

Talking #iphonereporting with AARP

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2014 at 9:57 am

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Had a fabulous #iphonereporting training session with a couple dozen members of AARP‘s social media and TV teams, with lots of how-tos, and discussion about content that can be generated on a mobile device.

Click on this Storify to see what we talked about.

New Samsung S5 sounds better than iPhone

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 at 5:58 am

 

When I started #iphonereporting in 2010,  only the iPhone had the hardware and software capable of recording great-quality audio in the device’s built-in microphone, doing precise editing and mixing, and sharing a fully-produced audio wrap.

An Android phone is catching up, quickly.

The built-in microphone of the new Samsung S5 with the phone’s Voice Recorder app sounds every bit as good — perhaps better — than the iPhone 5 recorded into Voice Memos.

Here’s an A-B test:

 

To my ears, the S5 sounds warmer than the iPhone 5, with better bass response, but plenty of brightness, too

On the downside for the S5, there is noticeable wind distortion several times throughout the recording, although I’m confident slipping a windscreen over the bottom of the phone will eliminate the problem.

While the iPhone 5’s built-in microphone sounds a bit tinnier, it does a better job of capturing the ambient sounds of birds tweeting than the S5.

Both the S5 and iPhone 5 produce .m4a files, and are easily trimmed and emailed or sent as SMS attachments.

 The fatal flaw for #iphonereporting

The audio improvement in Android hardware and software is great news for journalists who encourage newsmakers to turn a smartphone into a microphone during a landline interview — more interviewees can now provide great-sounding audio.

However, I still haven’t discovered a powerful, easy-to-use multitrack audio editing application for Droid — and that’s a major problem.

The goal of #iphonereporting is to be able to record, edit, and transmit finished pieces entirely on the mobile device.

There are several iOS editing apps available, which can do the fine-tuning, snipping, moving, and overlaying needed for professional-sounding content.

Apple hasn’t substantially improved its built-in microphone since I got my first 3GS.

Samsung has done its part to close the hardware gap, let’s see which Android developer wants to become the mobile journalism rock star.

Let me know if you have any questions.

(BTW, AT&T provided the S5 used in this testing)

Here’s a phone, go be a reporter

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

It sounds ridiculous, and it is.

Far too many news organizations — most notably newspapers — have tossed smartphones to trained journalists, and expected them to assume new responsibilities, and immediately deliver the same quality content they did on traditional gear.

I consider that journalistic malpractice.

While news managers have noticed #iphonereporting can deliver professional audio, video, photography, text, and social media far cheaper than on legacy gear, few empower their employees with strategies, tools, and freedom to create.

Consider the award-winning photojournalists and print reporters who have been told they are expected to suddenly execute their perfected craft on a tiny consumer-grade device.

Concerns about quality are well-founded — it is easy to produce junky content on a smartphone.

Yet, with some creative thinking and consideration about what smartphones do and don’t do well, it is possible (and fun) to tell beautifully-produced stories.

Reporting on mobile devices isn’t better or worse than “the way we’ve always done it” — it’s another way to inform and entertain.

The phone is a tool. That’s it.

A photojournalist’s trained eye and years of experience in framing shots and knowledge of lighting, pacing, and visual storytelling is going to produce a more polished nuanced report than a would-be reporter armed only with an iPhone and apps.

A radio reporter who knows how to use natural sound to bring a listener to the scene is going to be better-equipped than a person who is presented with a phone and some apps, and told “go be a reporter.”

To my way of thinking, the most exciting aspect of #iphonereporting is the freedom to tell stories in the manner best-suited for the story.

Sometimes what’s happening is best portrayed by a reporter and newsmaker. Or, just the newsmaker’s voice. Or a montage of photos with natural sound. Or a series of short videos. Or a single photo.

Allowing journalists the freedom to tell stories in unconventional, and still-to-be-discovered ways is the most empowering and smartest thing a news manager can do to help newsrooms transition to #iphonereporting.

Let me know if you have any questions.

#iphonereporting when you lose the Internet

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

Since #iphonereporting involves data transmission,  you need an Internet connection.

As everyone knows, sometimes you can’t connect to the Net because the service is down, or because too many people are using it.

So, I always tell clients to have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

I shared some workarounds with On The Marc Media.

Marc Blank-Settle of the BBC pulled together a Storify on options for mobile journalists when you’re out of touch with the Internet.

Let me know if you have any questions!

#iphonereporting tip for windy days

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 11:49 am

The iPhone is very susceptible to wind, even a moderate breeze.

The problem is, while it’s difficult to hear when you playback your audio on your iPhone, wind gets magnified by a radio or TV station’s audio processing chain, and the listener hears a very distorted sound.

For 3 bucks, buy a regular microphone windscreen from Amazon.

Here’s the workaround:

Rather than standing outside to record your track or natural sound, sit in your car and open all or some of your windows.

Turn your head to the left (or right if you’re in England) and read out your window.

The car will block the wind, but will allow the natural sound in.

Let me know if you have any questions.