The center of the news universe

That would be Danvers, world headquarters of Media Nation and now the home of four — count ’em — news organizations battling it out for local eyeballs. The newest is our very own Patch, joining the Salem News, the Danvers Herald and the Boston Globe’s Your Town/Danvers site. Who says the news business is dead?

A consummate community journalist

Cathryn Keefe O'Hare

Best wishes to Cathryn Keefe O’Hare, who’s leaving the Danvers Herald, where she has been editor for the past 10 years. I can’t find her farewell editorial online, but in the print edition she writes:

It has been a privilege to work here. I have learned so much, and I have had so much fun through the years. I have helped some of you, I think. I hope I have explained some issues fairly well. In any case, I know you have enriched my life with patience when I’ve been obtuse and offered gracious acceptance of my nosy ways.

In 2008, Cathryn let me tag along and learn about Web video. You can see the results here. Cathryn is a consummate community journalist, and she will be missed by those of us who live in Danvers.

Social networking and the news

On Thursday I had a chance to take part in a panel on “Getting Started with Social Media: Lessons from the Front Lines,” sponsored by the Mass Technology Leadership Council.

It was an interesting experience, and I learned a lot from the other panelists — Perry Allison of EONS.com, Pam Johnston of Gather.com and Brian Halligan of HubSpot. The moderator was Debi Kleiman of Communispace in Watertown, whose Fenway Park-theme meeting room was where we held our presentation.

I’ve posted the slideshow that accompanied my talk. Slideshare appeared to choke on embedded links, so I’ve listed them below in case you’d like to check any of them out.

The multimedia journalist

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.

For a Flickr slideshow of O’Hare shooting and editing her story, click on the photo above.

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.

To read O’Hare’s story and watch her video, click on the YouTube graphic above.

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.