Leaving to cover Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho

I’ll be off the usual radar for 10 days as one of about 30 University of Miami students participating in the 150-student webcasting team at the Special Olympics 2009 World Winter Games in Idaho.

The games run from Feb. 7-13, but we’ll be there from Feb. 5-15. Students will be split across newsrooms in Boise, McCall and Sun Valley.

(Somehow I have a knack for taking trips that require really early flights, as evinced by the post time.)

The Job

Rich Beckman, Knight Chair of Visual Journalism at UM, is the executive producer for Special Olympics Live, a site we will update with photos and videos daily. I’m on Rich’s team in Boise and will be documenting the team’s efforts with other a couple other Miami folks and a couple students from Universidad de los Andes in Chile.

In addition, I’m in charge of social media for the site, which isn’t really “live.”

I’ll post some updates on my @greglinch Twitter account, but I’ve created @soilive to handle our general webcasting team coverage.

You can follow the hashtag #soi and/or subscribe to the RSS feed for a Twitter search of #soi. If you’re interested, you can also join the official Special Olympics community, where fans post blogs, photos and videos.

The Tech

I’m bringing my Canon Rebel XT (15-55mm and 75-300mm lenses), in addition to one of the broadcast department’s Sony DSR-PD150 to use for the video work. Other UM students will use thePanasonic AG-DVX100, which are shared between the visual journalism and motion pictures programs.

I typically use the Panasonic, but have a good amount of experience with the Sony, so I’ll be ready to rock once we’re wheels down in Idaho.

The Sony kit is in a huge Pelican case and comes with:

  • It’s standard shotgun mic
  • Sennheiser ME-66 shotgun mic
  • Sony ECM-44B wired lavalier mic
  • Electro Voice EV-50 hand mic
  • Sennheiser headphones
  • 50-foot XLR cable
  • Spare battery
  • DC charger

As you may remember, I was also part of a volunteer team from the UM School of Communication that shot the Special Olympics torch run in Miami in January.

Full disclosure: Special Olympics is covering all of our travel and lodging expenses for the World Winter Games, but we are not being paid.

QUESTION: What should I teach myself during winter break?

I have one month to learn a new skill, or skills, during winter break. Therefore, I would like to take a survey to see what skills would most benefit someone graduating in May.

Some background: I will be an online intern at The Dallas Morning News this summer (see related post), a position that focuses on writing and video (mostly breaking news and enterprise).

My career goal is to work as a multimedia reporter.

I have some degree of proficiency in each of the following (in no particular order):

  • Writing and reporting
  • Media law and ethics
  • AP style
  • Video content gathering and editing
  • Audio content gathering and editing
  • Photography and photo editing
  • Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign
  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Content and community management
  • SEO (more than basic)
  • Flash (I currently know enough to makeĀ this portfolio site)
  • JavaScript (fairly basic, I know how to use libraries)
  • Spanish (studied for seven years)

Here are some ideas for what I could learn:

What do you think?

Or should I simply work on improving some of the skills I already have? I’m taking a video class in the spring to further refine those skills, so I probably won’t focus on video during break.

If there’s another skill you think would be valuable, please let me know. I will probably focus on one, maybe two depending on the intensity of the primary skill.

A couple of my visual journalism professors have recommended learning XML and more Flash, specifically focusing on AS3.

Personally, I’m learning towards database and CAR stuff.

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions in comments below, with a brief explanation of why.


Update, Dec. 22: Apparently one of my plugins broke the comment feature, so no one has been able to respond so far. Fortunately, Twitter came to the rescue!

Almost all of the recommendations have been for learning more about databases and CAR, as well as SEO.

Two more Herald videos: Parkinson’s patients boxing and an unemployed couple

My video adventures continue at The Miami Herald. I really like the most recent one, “Seniors fight Parkinson’s with boxing.”

See this video on MiamiHerald.com

A week earlier, the following video ran with Cindy Goodman‘s business column about how unemployment affects families.

See this video on MiamiHerald.com

I shot some stills along with the video (it’s always good to carry an SLR around). My photo of the Victor and Damaris Guzman not only ran in print on 2B but was also the main display online the morning the story ran (see left).

Looking forward, I shot video and stills for a feature about a local restaurant on Friday. As always, I will post that video here.

Another intern, Ely Portillo, is writing the feature and asked me to join him for the multimedia. We previously worked together on the Parkinson’s story and I think we make a pretty nifty reporting duo.

Ely’s Parkinson story
was great. We got a lot of good feedback on both, even being complimented in the morning news meeting after the story and video ran. We weren’t in on the meeting, but about heard it from someone who was.

I’m still writing breaking news, daily news and feature stories for print and online for my internship, but I’m devoting more and more time to multimedia work and a long-term story project.

A final note on video: I’ve been invited to join a new Miami Herald video task force, an offer I enthusiastically embraced. Giddy may not be the right word, but I’m pretty excited.

Second Miami Herald video: Campers cook with the pros

My second video for The Miami Herald went online yesterday with a story I wrote. The piece is about a camp group that learned to cook ice cream and spring rolls from chefs at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant.

Read the story here — the video is below, as well as embedded in the story page.

View the video on The Herald’s site.

I’m still producing a steady mix of news and feature stories for the Broward metro section, plus working on a couple longer term projects for my internship.

One of those projects will likely take a few more weeks. For another project, I went out today with Cindy Goodman (see her blog) to shoot a video to go with her business column on Wednesday. I’ll be sure to post a link to her column and embed the video here.

I also took some photos, so hopefully one will run. That would be my second published photo of the summer (I had a bunch of photos published in 2005 when I freelanced for Broward Neighbors, which is like community news).

Looking to tomorrow: Happy Fourth of July!

Photographer alumna discusses multimedia

A not-so-old newspaper friend stopped by campus recently.

Allison Bezold-Diaz, who graduated from the University of Miami in spring 2007, spoke to my online journalism class last Thursday. She gave great tutorials on capturing/editing audio, photography/digital SLR basics and editing photos in Photoshop.

I sat down with Allison, a former Miami Hurricane photo editor, to ask her about the importance of multimedia and what advice she would give student journalists.

Here’s what she had to say: