What TV news can learn from Jimmy Fallon

What TV news can learn from Jimmy Fallon

…or, how the internet picked the new Tonight Show host We cut cable years ago, with the idea that would make us watch less TV. Instead, I’ve become expert at finding the shows I like streaming online. It’s free and legal which is great, but the user experience ranges from meh to terrible. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was an exception. The show’s team was masterful at making it easy to watch and share their videos. The New York Times has written about Fallon’s internet success, his millions of followers on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, but noted: “it is unclear whether the videos provide a net gain by building awareness of shows, or a new loss, because viewers know they can see what they like online.” But I don’t think he’d be moving up to The Tonight Show without it. For example, I was a fan and never stayed up until 12:35 a.m. to watch. Fallon himself poked fun at his time slot in a recent sketch with the guys from Full House; Bob Saget as Danny Tanner told him no one was still awake at 12:37. Remarkably, even the show’s main landing page didn’t mention when it aired. Online, it didn’t matter. Lessons for news? We know that audiences are increasingly going online for news, and while TV is still the dominant news source (according to U.S. data from the the Pew Research Center) audiences have been shrinking. “TV” news—which I increasingly think of video storytelling, delivered however—is/will be looking to capture the eyeballs of cable-cutters like me. I’m not suggesting newsrooms set their sights on the kind of...
Going on camera? My first piece of advice

Going on camera? My first piece of advice

People get nervous about being interviewed on camera — even those who perform all the time in lecture halls or meeting rooms. I get this, because it’s different and, I’d argue, harder. Because you’re trying to reach an audience that exists, but isn’t there. I had to learn this when I started doing television after several years at CBC Radio. It was more of an adjustment than I expected. I was already a performer and comfortable in front of crowds: teaching, public speaking, the lead in my high-school musical. But what I could do naturally in person wasn’t coming across on camera, at first. Then, things clicked—and I changed from being a reporter they were nervous about putting on for a live segment, to one they wanted “live” early and often. This wasn’t just experience; I figured something out. Focus in, focus out My top piece of advice for communicating on camera is to keep your focus out, not in. I’ll walk you through what that means, but it’s all in the eyes. I learned this by watching my own work, and noticing there were moments when I saw a person telling me what she knows, and others where I felt nervous for or bored by the person on screen. It’s subtle—too subtle to see in these grainy screengrabs, though these are from “before” and “after” live hits. In my early hits, I was looking at the camera, but my focus wasn’t there, because I was thinking about what to say next. To connect through the camera, you have to shift your focus from inside your mind, to somewhere...
Digital Playground #2: Soundcloud as annotated audio

Digital Playground #2: Soundcloud as annotated audio

Continuing to play with digital storytelling tools… This time, SoundCloud. It’s designed for sharing music, and that’s how I encountered it. But I’ve been thinking about other uses for the timed commenting feature, which lets you link your comment to any second of the track you choose. Many comments on tracks are pretty, well, boring: “sick beats!” “nice one m8” etc. But I wonder about the potential of the timed comment as a storytelling tool. A type of annotation for audio on the web, where the online audio isn’t just delivered differently from old-school radio but also has an added interactive or explanatory dimension. Some possibilities: tag an interview clip, with a link to the person’s website, or the raw interview tag dated information with a link to updated information if the service supported it, tag a verbal description to a picture or map So I gave it a go, uploading one of my recent stories (albeit a longish one, 7+ minutes) about crowd-sourcing money for scientific research in the recent #SciFund Challenge. I added some comments with updates on how much money the projects received, and links to learn more. Does it work? I’d love to hear from you. As a radio addict, I’m not sure it does. I usually listen when I’m on the go (not at the screen) so I’m not sure I’d get much out of my favourite shows annotating their stuff. Maybe I’d want to see it on shorter pieces? On a topic I’m researching? Something educational? Hmm…. Don’t get me wrong, I have huge appreciation for the power and intimacy of radio (in whatever delivery...
Digital Playground: Storifying Hot Dog Day

Digital Playground: Storifying Hot Dog Day

I’m going to experiment with some new-to-me digital storytelling tools, and post the results. Experiment number one is a learning exercise with Storify—a tool that Openfile, CBC Community and many others use well all the time. I’d never tried it, so wanted to practice on something low-key before trying it on breaking news. Happy to report it’s very easy. So here, curated tweets from CBC Vancouver’s Hot Dog Day. Which many, without irony, call the best day of the year at CBC. [View the story “Hot Dog Day, and the fans go wild.” on Storify] Hot Dog Day, and the fans go wild. Every June, volunteers at CBC Vancouver entice employees away from our cubicles for free hotdogs, chips, veggies and conversation. Even those who generally eschew processed meat learn to love CBC’s Hot Dog Day. Storified by Lisa Johnson · Sat, Jun 23 2012 11:38:46 The anticipation builds… Hot Dog Day this Wednesday! @daveshumkaLisa Christiansen Best day on #CBC calendar RT @LisachristCBC: Hot Dog Day this Wednesday! @daveshumkaKaren Tankard …until the big day. This may not fit what you imagine about public broadcasters, but CBCers get really excited about hot dog day. It’s today.Lisa Johnson IT’S FREE HOT DOG DAY AT WORK! #NotaEuphemism http://pic.twitter.com/goJ07yWXAndree Lau Hoping my colleagues here at CBC take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Hot Dog DayRoss Bragg I saw a man with 3 hot dogs! #hotdogdayAndree Lau It’s true. Hot dog day has made us giddy around here.Stephen Quinn It’s not all joy, though. Gravity and mustard can be a tricky combination.  Eating hot dogs around coworkers is awkward enough, I...
Riot night, ten months later.

Riot night, ten months later.

“You were there?” Yes, right next to the first car on fire. And then, wandering the downtown core, calling into the station as another car got swarmed, the police moved in, hundreds streamed down an alley, looking for what might happen next. I’ve been thinking a lot the Stanley Cup Riot this week, not just because the playoffs started again, prompting more discussions on policing and crowd control. Last night was the RTDNA Awards, where our CBC team was honoured with several regional awards for our coverage. So were other outlets in the city, so the acceptance speeches were filled with memories of what we all saw and felt that night. I was excited for the playoffs last year. But 10 months post-riot? Not one bit. My city transformed, for better then worse Now, people who love hockey will say that attitude means I’m not a “real fan.” Which I freely admit. I wasa fan of what was happening on the streets, much more than the ice. It rekindled a bit of that spirit from the Olympics, the year before. The city, downtown especially, felt like a special place to be. People came out of their normal niches and commutes to gather together. The pavement was transformed into public space. During the Olympics, that was all capped off with the impromptu street party after the men’s gold medal hockey win. That whet my appetite, and I’m sure many others, for another crazy but good-natured civic celebration. As CBC’s Stephen Quinn recalled on the radio this week about the outdoor playoff parties: “It was fun, until it wasn’t.” Smoke rising,...
Who I think of on Food Bank Day

Who I think of on Food Bank Day

Today is the Open House and Food Bank Day at CBC — the 25th year that CBC in Vancouver has raised money for B.C. food banks so they can provide for people who need a little help. This generally happens in December. It always makes me think of a day in November. In 2004, to be precise. I was working as CBC Radio’s reporter in Nelson, and our assignment desk was expecting the annual report on child poverty in our province. So, I was asked to go talk to a family, with children, who were struggling. An articulate and brave single working mom with a young son agreed to talk to me on the radio. She invited me into her apartment while she made dinner for the boy; I remember her stirring yoghurt into some organic macaroni and cheese to add a little more protein for him. She told me she got help from the food bank, at times, and healthy protein was hard to afford. It’s not a dramatic story, but I think of them every time we talk about food banks. About one in three people who rely on food banks in B.C. is a child. Food prices are on the rise too. That’s something we all sense in our grocery bills, but it’s really striking when you look at the numbers, especially for staples. Here are changes in food prices, from Oct. 2010 to Oct. 2011: Potatoes – up 24% Carrots – up 20% Coffee – up 19& Flour – up 17% Eggs – up 13% [Data from Statistics Canada, calculation by me.] I did that...