When you see a great story, you just have to tell it

When I saw the email from Cox sports editor John Boyle, I knew this was a story I head to make time for.

The story was about a high school football player who suffered traumatic brain injuries in a car wreck and spent 34 days in a coma. No one knew what kind of life John Samples had in front of him. But he recovered beyond expectations and kicked the extra points for his Mechanicsburg High football team Friday night at Southeastern.

A story with so much and so full of angles and great stories within the story, I knew I needed some space. And I was given that space today for a longer-than-usual story on the local news page in the Springfield News-Sun. Good call by the editors. It’s a sports story but transcends the sports section.

Journalism is about telling all kinds of stories. These are my favorite kind. Getting to speak with John, his family, friends and his coach was a privilege. They were so helpful that I felt like the story wrote itself.

I’ll be at Springfield High tonight covering the Wildcats. Wish I could see John kick. I hope somebody records his first point and puts it on the Facebook page dedicated to his recovery.

Best wishes, John. Keep on kicking and keep on defying the odds.

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Learning to do multiplatform journalism

Being multiskilled to work as a multiplatform journalist is crucial to getting off to a good start and advancing in today’s journalism. The craft is still about storytelling whether it’s hard news, breaking news, investigative reporting or feature reporting.

naomi-harwardFinding internships for students that allows them to hone various skills is important to their development. This was the case this past summer for one of our students. Naomi Harward is a photographer at heart, but is learning how to write stories and shoot video just like the rest of the Cedarville journalism students.

Naomi was part of a intensive two-week program called Storytellers Abroad with the mission agency ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism). She went to Nicaragua and learned more about how to tell a compelling story.

Watch the story she produced.

Rescuing Children from Alcoholism in Nicaragua from Storytellers Abroad on Vimeo.

Drones and virtual reality and the future of journalism

I recently attended two events and saw drones and virtual reality in action.

At the Society of Professional Journalists Region 4/5 meeting in Cincinnati, we had workshops on both.

First to the drones. The presenter said that he believes the FAA will deregulate soon and open up drone usage for commercial uses. Right now, it takes a pilot’s license to operate a drone for commercial uses. That’s really held back the journalistic uses. Recreational use only requires you to own one. Soon, probably with some small amount of training required, commercial use will become more like recreational use. This will open it up to journalistic uses. Journalists in other countries already use drones because they don’t have restrictions like the FAA has put on us in the U.S.

The next level of drone technology was written about on fastcompany.com a couple days. The Hover Camera is designed for indoor use and has all kinds of possibilities for journalism and education.

I can see journalism students using drones for class and for Cedars to help produce stories that will truly benefit from drone footage. If you are familiar with Cedarville, imagine the cardboard canoe race, getting started weekend, involvement fair and many other outdoor activities. And what about a story showing off the new chapel in the fall from a variety of views. Drones are more than a gimmick. They can really help tell stories.

Virtual reality with 360-degree viewing experiences are coming fast. The workshop presenters at SPJ said within five years we will all have a VR device. Right now Samsung is pushing it with its Gear device as a $100 add-on. I got to try one there and then again at the Evangelical Press Association convention in early April. I watched a video made my a mission organization that told a story of a third-world village. You felt like you were sitting there watching all that was happening.

An editor from the Cincinnati Enquirer showed us some 360 virtual reality they have done, including this video from a pops rehearsal. It’s on YouTube which allows you to use the mouse to move around and see what the conductor sees. With a VR viewer it would be 3D and much cooler to watch. We always want to put people there with our words and pictures. Now we can virtually do it.

Of course these technologies aren’t cheap, but they are becoming more affordable. Hopefully we can get these technologies into our curriculum soon.