A first experiment in 360 video: The Living Theatre

Earlier today, members of The Living Theatre — America’s oldest experimental theater company — joined me at the beach in Chicago to do a little bit of experimentation in a newish form of communication: 360 video. We did a few short vignettes from pieces they are performing on their national tour (they’re three days in to a long journey called the “Know Your Rites” tour, that will take them all the way out west, then down south as they work their way back east to their home base of New York). This piece is “the class song.” I learned a lot in this first attempt (one of the lessons being: disguise the monopod head better), and I’m excited for the form and very grateful that this troupe was ever-eager to try something new. Have a look — and be sure to pan left and right with your mouse clicks to get the full effect.

Medill student reporting in Paris appears in The Washington Post

Paris_01In June, I joined Medill colleagues Peter Slevin and Kate Lee to support ten undergraduate students who reported on the refugee crisis in Europe, focusing on France. They reported for a week in Paris and in Calais, where they saw the camp populated by migrants hoping to cross the English Channel to the UK. While in Paris, we spoke with several Millennial Parisians, who discussed topics ranging from unemployment to the migrant issue to terrorism. The final result of those interviews was published this week in the Washington Post. It features a text story by three students, and three videos produced by all ten of the young reporters in the class.

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Medill Social Media Video Goes Viral (O.K., there are cats in it)

felinebrewcrewMedill Reports had its first viral video hit on Facebook in the spring quarter, when Kat Lonsdorf’s story “The Feral Feline Brew Crew” garnered nearly 6 million views. The video was an assignment to create a social-media piece that combines video, interviews and graphics, all tailored so it can be viewed without sound on a mobile device. Kat told the story of Empirical Brewery, a Chicago craft brewhouse who worked with a local non-profit The Treehouse Humane Society to put feral cats to work to keep rats and mice out of the brewery’s grain.

The New York Times: A Weekend in Chicago

Over Memorial Day holiday in Chicago, I joined more than two dozen other journalists with the New York Times to report on every single shooting victim in the city that weekend. The rate of gun violence has gone up this year in Chicago, and the holiday weekend usually sees a spike in shootings. In all 64 people were shot that weekend, six of them fatally. Senior video journalist Brent McDonald and I worked shifts to cover on video as many of the incidents as we could over the four days. The collective work of all the New York Times reporters, photojournalists and editors resulted in an incredibly rich multimedia project that is devastating in its impact.

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Launch of the Center for Excellence in Journalism at IBA in Karachi

I am in Karachi for the official launch of the Center for Excellence in Journalism at the Institute for Business Administration. The Medill School, where I teach, is a partner in the State Department-funded initiative along with the International Center for Journalists. I am the leader for Medill’s efforts (which include our faculty coming here to teach several times a year), and this was my fifth time in Pakistan. The event began with an opening ceremony with “chief guest” the US Ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale, and the Dean of IBA, Dr. Ishrat Husain. Then we went up to the Center itself for the official ribbon cutting. The Center has been under construction for over a year, and it has a full TV studio, newsroom/classroom space, edit rooms and a radio studio. Hats off to Christie Lauder and the staff at the CEJ for hosting such a great and memorable event. And to all the partners in the project who have worked so hard to get to this point. The press release for the event is below the photos.

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Medill student film from Bolivia published on NYTimes.com

MathiasHomePageI’m thrilled to say that a video produced, reported, filmed, written and edited by graduate student Mathias Meier has been published by the New York Times. Mathias was awarded a travel grant from the Medill School to travel to Bolivia to report on the legalization of child labor there. He traveled to La Paz for a week and created a first draft of the story with me in an advanced video journalism class in our graduate program.  I was so impressed by the work that I sent the piece to Rich Tanner, a senior producer at the New York Times. I edited a shorter draft Mathias worked on based on his longer piece (which was also nominated for a college award in the Chicago/Midwest Emmys) and then he and Rich continued to fine tune the story over the summer. After a few delays in publication because of breaking news, the story finally ran on Saturday, December 19th, and led the NYTimes home page (a major feat). Mathias has since graduated from our program and is back in his native Chile, working in media and freelancing. Congratulations Mathias.

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