Archive for November, 2007

Just for the website? What?!? (2)

November 30, 2007

A month ago I drove up to Cambridge to interview dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, as part of a NOS web special about the upcoming Russian elections. Packed up my whole kit, because I meant to do more than just the requested question & answer article.

Wondered aloud about it on this blog that day (‘let’s try and do something crossmedia’), and the result can now be seen by clicking on the pictures below. I don’t think it came out exactly as I had hoped and tried for, and would appreciate your feedback on improvements.

This first photo leads to the actual interview about renewed fear in Russia with a brief video compilation.

Russian elections

The second to a text and audio entry about Bukovsky’s thoughts on his poisoned friend Alexander Litvinenko.

Bukovsky in his study


One small step for man…

November 29, 2007

This is only the very beginning, pleaded Reuters correspondent Matt Cowan when he showed his first experiences with the Nokia N95 as a video/audio/upload tool for the next generation of web journalists.

It’s definitely NOT the end of the discussion of what it can do and not do.

David Dunkley Gyimah of Viewmagazine.TV filmed part of the discussion about the Mobile Journalism Toolkit, which you can see for yourself. He has a hand held camera (nice, nifty HD thingie, I won’t ask my boss for that one).

Seen it? Now give your opinion, also based on Paul’s comment in Tuesday’s post on this topic. He really looks ahead, and almost makes me admit I am wrong. Almost, of course.

Holy moly, the boss listens

November 27, 2007

So the boss actually listens. (See comment #6 in yesterday’s post.) Talk about speed of light, I pointed out my missive whilst on a trip in Wales and he responded stepping off a plane from Geneva. I’m typing this in my hotel room in Hay-on-Wye, where my mobile doesn’t work but where high speed internet is no problem.

Dank u Sinterklaasje

Now that I’ve secured my early Sinterklaas-present, what am I gonna do with it? In the discussion last night at Reuters I raised some concern about quality of video, audio and composition. Some BBC buff (okay Paul Brannan) argued that it wasn’t really that important since the advantage of being able to report right now and right here outweighs those concerns.

Besides, he remarked, it’s not just us (journalists) who will be interviewing people and reporting the news with this amazing MJT, but also the consumers. It’s the User Generated Content, stupid!

Yeah sure, but especially because of that I still believe that we have to stay committed to the highest possible standards. And that means getting the facts right, duh, but also getting the delivery right. If you type it up, Reuters at the core, you make sure you don’t lose yourself in typos or grammatical errors.

If you tape it, and this video is to be published on the web, you make sure that it doesn’t resemble your mom’s brave attempt to record baby’s first steps. At least get that shot right, think of the light and don’t forget the audio. Speed is of the essence, but my question remains: At what price?

Leave your estimates in the comments below.

Yo boss, listen up!

November 26, 2007

Yo boss, listen up! I want one! And I want it now! Right now!

Got it? Enough exclamation marks? This is it…

Now! Now! Now!

From now on we’re gonna do things a bit different. It’s more than just this Nokia N95. It also comes with:

– Fold out blue tooth keyboard

– Mini (but very good) microphone

– Tiny tripod (very cute)

– Solar panel (yes, I might need to be transferred to the Bahamas)

And listen to this, boss, the whole thing doesn’t cost much more than hiring a television crew for one day. Gotta like that, boss.

I saw this MJT at the Reuters’ London headquarters tonight, at an ONA gathering. Bet you don’t know what that means, boss. MJT stands for Mobile Journalism Toolkit. They like it very much.

Me too, boss. Me too.


You heard it from me first, boss. So get me one. Right now. In the meantime I’ll keep on hauling my multimedia backpack. Remember how we used to slap each other on the back two light years ago, boss?

Future of journalism, we bragged. Well, boss, I’m a dinosaur compared to these MJT folks. So get me one, boss, right now.

(ps. We had a silly discussion about ‘redefining quality’, which I argued was a fancy way of saying ‘cutting corners’, but that’s a whole different story, boss, I won’t bore you with that.)

Smelling a good story

November 25, 2007

You sometimes only smell a good story once you hit upon it. In this case, six months ago and I still smell it. Literally. Traveling in Scotland on election eve I stopped in Arbroath, to shoot at Brian Swankie’s smoking shop.

Half a year later, my camera bag still reeks of those (delicious) Arbroath Smokies. Just can’t get that smell out of the way. Or maybe I imagine it.

Weird early Monday morning it was. Had to change into other clothes to do a piece to camera on the street, and felt the peeking eyes of the locals behind their curtains in the harbor.

And the accidental (‘why not, I’m here anyway’) shots I took of a fishing boat going out to sea ended up as a symbolic image of Scotland setting out its own course.

All smelling aside, this trip was a good example of how you can operate on a multimedia platform. Spreading out over three days (excluding travel time) I ended up doing 1 tv feature, three radio pieces and two internet productions.

Most importantly, all were stories in their own right with authentic audio and pictures. You may check some of it out on this page on the NOS website.

I Love Paper (1)

November 22, 2007

Sure, having the news delivered to you on your mobile, on your blackberry or relayed to that implanted chip behind your left ear is the future, and there’s no denying of that fact.

But my sun only rises when the papers arrive on the doormat. A (to be continued) ode to printed joy. Leave your love letters in the comments below.

What's on your doormat?

1. I love the blackened fingers. Scars of a devoted reader willing to suffer.

2. I love that moment on Sunday evening when I’ve really finished off that tree, top to bottom.

3. I love the grateful nod of a fellow train passenger when he picks up my paper, carefully left behind.

4. I love it when my boys start flipping through the comics. Nostalgia for the next generation.

5. I love losing time on the loo, cos’ I gotta finish that great piece in G2.

Thousand hits, baby!

November 20, 2007

Multimedia Maniac has reached a milestone in its short existence: One thousand hits exactly! Yeah, baby, we’re heading for a million sooner than one might think. Okay, dream on, Overdiek. And what does it mean anyway, a thousand or a million.

One thousand of what again?

As someone wrote to me: Why bother with all that work, when you should focus on your primary job: Get your fat face on TV. Three million people watch the NOS Journaal. Who cares about tens of visitors a day online?

Well, I do care. Sometimes it’s more satisfying to produce a 25 second blurp for radio than that live interview on the 8 o’clock news on tv. So what, if only a couple of hundred surfers read my entries on It shouldn’t make any difference, and it doesn’t.

It’s really a matter of blind consistency. One of my colleagues wrote his first blog for the web, and then demanded to know how many people had read it. When it turned out to be 32 (or 33, I forgot) visitors, he concluded: This is not worth it.

I don’t give a damn, to be honest. Receiving an email-response to a web-story is much more relevant than hearing from my mom that her friend thought my tie looked strange, the other day on tv.

Because sometimes, that’s all what almighty television seems to be about. Nothing more, nothing less.

NOS Journaal goes 24

November 19, 2007

The news came via email. Something to celebrate and therefore: Cake for everybody! Thanks but no thanks, since we are all foreign correspondents. In spirit we party along. Especially this time. NOS Dutch public broadcasting has gone live 24 hours a day.

You may check out the livestream here:

NOS 24 Uur

Of course, one can think of many things to bitch about, but today I choose not to. It is a good initiative, and proof of the steps forward my folks back at headquarters are taking. This is what NOS Journaal 24 offers besides any newsworthy live stream:

1. NOS Journaal Plus, news bulletins with additional background, continually updated.

2. NOS Journaal Reportages, with the best or most interesting features of the past week.

3. NOS Journaal Weekoverzicht, which offers a weekly overview of all the news.

4. NOS Journaal Chat, the opportunity to ask questions to a news maker through our website.

Not bad for a Monday morning. Not bad at all. You may leave any whining in the comments below.

New career

November 18, 2007

Forget New Media. The following advert in the Guardian Work Section this weekend:

Editor In Chief

Needed to run last bastion of journalistic fun…

the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport.

Must have unhealthy interest in humour, football and sex.

And the desire and skills to rebuild a great British tabloid.

Damnit. Why not?

Bending the truth

November 17, 2007

Television means creating a new reality. Those words left me dumbfounded when I first heard them coming from the respected teacher who was going to teach me the basic principles of making television. What he meant: Bending the visual truth is allowed when it strengthens the (f)actual story.

The BBC got slammed for exactly that this week, and it was not the first time. As described in The Guardian: In a story about quintuplets the editor or reporter added the sound of crying babies, so was suggested.

Wrong! Unethical! Untrustworthy! Give us back that license fee!

Is that so, I wonder. Techniques make it possible to make the story more captivating. And babies cry, don’t they? Just not when the camera is on.

Check the following piece I filmed on an overnight trip to East Anglia. In it I bend the truth in one particular shot. See if you notice. First line of (Dutch) text: The United Kingdom is no longer the empire where the sun never sets…

In the comments below my journalistic lie is exposed. (My conscience is clear, by the way, so sue me!) Let me know if you noticed and, more importantly, whether you cared.