Archive: Dec 2009

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Picturing community: an interview with Los Angeles Times’ photographer Francine Orr

By Digital Storytelling December 29, 2009

Photographer Francine Orr had experience reporting on poverty and humanitarian crises around the globe. But while working on “Gimme Shelter,” an audio slide show about L.A.-area homeless people living under a bridge, she found plenty to cover—and plenty to fear—right in her own back yard. [caption id="attachment_1488" align="alignleft" width="176" caption="L.A. Times/Francine Orr"][/caption] Orr spoke about the dangers of reporting on mentally ill addicts: "There’s such a history of random violence along the river. Everything is okay there until it’s not, and sometimes you don’t have warning before it changes. I always had to be aware of who was standing behind me, because I didn’t want someone to smash the back of my head while I was doing my work." And on how she views journalists' responsibilities to subjects, Orr had this to offer: "I’m a journalist; I’m not a social worker. If I do my job well, I present the story in a truthful manner, in an accurate manner, in a somewhat compassionate manner. I leave it to the viewer, to the reader, to respond. If they feel there is a need or an injustice that requires some action, that’s their role. My role is to present the story." Read the full interview. Read more

Intimate journalism: thoughts from a veteran and a beginner (part 1)

By Digital Storytelling December 22, 2009

Storyboard recently talked about visual storytelling and intimacy with two very different journalists: an independent 30-year veteran and a newsroom staff photographer just two years out of graduate school. Tomorrow, we’ll learn what it was like for a seasoned pro to turn a camera on his own family in the midst of crisis. Today, we hear from Sonya Hebert of The Dallas Morning News, who finished a master’s program in visual communications in 2007. Hebert’s two large-scale efforts to date include a look into adult palliative care at Baylor University and a portrait of a family whose baby lived only five days as a result of a genetic defect. Her video of the baby and his parents pairs beautifully with the print story in “Choosing Thomas," a multimedia project selected earlier this year as a Notable Narrative. On trying to shoot intimate pictures of sick adults under less-than-ideal conditions, Hebert says, “What we saw over and over again was a patient in a bed in a hospital room. Visually it looked all the same, so it required tuning out what I was hearing, and really looking. Thinking, ‘How can I tell this story visually?’ Sometimes it was getting tight in on someone and waiting for them to look up in a certain way in a dark room—being ready for something to happen.” Later, Hebert struggled with the challenge of making Thomas, a terminally-ill baby, fully human for viewers: “In the middle of editing, I didn’t feel like the reader could fall in love with Thomas. I was worried about doing a story about a baby to begin with, and he was tougher, because he didn’t do a lot. There were just a few moments where he was like a normal little baby and you could see how cute he was. There’s a clip where he’s sneezing, and TK is saying, ‘Oh, that was my eye!’ It was something to bring a lighter side to the story before we got into the heavy dying part.” Read the full interview. Read more

Targeting the Good Cell

By Notable Narratives December 18, 2009

Here’s a narrative challenge: recount a quarter-century of lab experiments conducted by several investigative teams working separately from Kyoto to California. Now make the story urgent and give it a sense of Olympic-level competition that might change the face of medicine. Read more

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