It wasn’t long ago that a local reporter could head out on an assignment with nothing more than a notebook and a pen. Maybe a camera, but only if there were no photographers available. But those days are rapidly drawing to a close.
Take, for instance, Cathryn Keefe O’Hare, a longtime print and radio reporter who’s been editor of the Danvers Herald since 2000. The Herald is part of the GateHouse Media chain, which is pushing its journalists to supplement their stories with videos for its Wicked Local sites. O’Hare shot video for the first time last Memorial Day. Now she does it regularly.
Last Monday I met her at the Danversport Yacht Club for the eighth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner. It was a routine assignment — take some notes, write it up. It was also a good opportunity for her to put together a video package. And for me to tag along and watch how she does it.
O’Hare wielded a Casio Exilim ex5600, a tiny, relatively inexpensive piece of technology that shoots still photos, video and audio. She had a simple goal: to ask some of the 450 people who were on hand why they had chosen to attend and what King’s message meant to them. She shot in ambient light, which, as you’ll see, was good enough, if not perfect. Audio is recorded through a microphone in the front of the camera.
O’Hare still finds being a multimedia journalist a challenge. She stands on her tip-toes when interviewing people taller than she. A couple of interviews proved to be unusable. “It’s more stressful than just taking notes,” she says. But she got sufficient material to put together a nice video supplement to her print story.
Three days later I met her in the local GateHouse newsroom in Beverly, where she was editing her clips into a news video. She used Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker, a free program that lets you cut extraneous material out of the clips, piece them together in any order you like, and add transitions, titles and an extra soundtrack. (The Macintosh equivalent is iMovie.) O’Hare spliced in music from the Follow Hymn Interfaith Choir, which had performed on Monday, to supplement the interviews.
Finished videos are uploaded to YouTube and then embedded on the Danvers Herald site. O’Hare still hasn’t figured out how to do that, so she leaves it to one of the regional managing editors, Peter Chianca.
“The thing that remains true, whether it’s in print journalism or the Internet or video, you have to tell a story,” says O’Hare. “And you have to tell it as true as you can make it. And you have to try to speak for those people who can’t tell their story.”
To listen to an audio interview with O’Hare, click here.
To watch other videos from the Danvers Herald, click here.