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My baptism into the brave new world of modern journalism

So you wanna be a multimedia journalist? Let me offer some advice: Keep an eye on your battery indicator.

I am most definitely not a "mojo" -- a mobile journalist equipped with all manner of gear who can blog, Twitter and upload pics and videos directly from the road (did I just make up a word?). But I did agree to take along one of The Washington Post's high-definition Flip cameras when I headed out to Nevada last week to check in on the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Sharron Angle because, well, they told me an idiot could do it. Check.

It started out great. As Angle worked the room at a Clark County Women's Chamber of Commerce luncheon a few blocks off the Las Vegas strip, I was at her side. I was taping every second as she hopped from table to table, shook hand after hand and tried to win support from southern Nevada's business community in her fight to unseat Majority Leader Harry Reid.

As I enthusiastically stalked my subject, it never occurred to me that technology has its limits -- and that I was quickly running down the battery gathering a whole mess of footage that we wouldn't need. It wasn't until Angle's handlers told me I could follow her to the campaign's Las Vegas headquarters for a rare chance to see the elusive candidate behind the scenes (this is the political reporter's equivalent of getting backstage passes to a U2 concert) that I realized I was at risk of missing the most interesting part of my trip. About two minutes after arriving at Angle HQ, the Flip died.

Question: What do you do when your Flip camera dies while you're taping a crucial bit of video?

Answer: You whip out your iPhone and tape some more. (Thank you, Steve Jobs.)

Does it really matter that your video file names will end with .mov instead of .mp4? Well, yes -- the quality isn't as good. But much more important is to turn your phone sideways so the format of the video is horizontal. Did I know this at Angle's campaign headquarters? I did not. Poor Jonathan Forsythe, a most excellent and patient video editor at The Post, would have to crop the footage and lose resolution. (Ah, the perils of being a mojo!)

But wait -- there's more. My iPhone ran out of juice, too. That's when I reached into my purse, pulled out my BlackBerry and resumed my multimedia adventure.

Do you know much about the quality of the video that a BlackBerry records? It looks like I was Skyping from Mars. I was mortified by the whole experience, but I was heartened when my editor observed that the most remarkable part of it all is not, in fact, what an idiot I am but that I regularly carry around three separate electronics devices that can record moving pictures.

I call it The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of video journalism. Or the bad, the ugly and the even uglier. But, while the video quality might not be HD-ready, the video offers a unique glimpse into what the day-to-day life of a candidate really entails.


By Amy Gardner  |  July 22, 2010; 4:13 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Republican Party  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Boehner not sure if his brothers have jobs
Next: Report: Coleman considering bid for Republican National Committee chairmanship


BeachcomberT, I think you forgot to read the story headline, which clearly identifies that this is a story about a journalist's entrance into "mojo" reporting.

I'm sure that I would be just as upset and sharp-tongued as you if the headline read "hard-nosed policy story" and then read like it does. But as it stands, I thought that Ms. Garnder delivered as promised in the aforesaid headline, and did so with pretty sharp wit. Who wouldn't laugh at the 'skyping from Mars' crack? C'mon.

Perhaps the problem is reading the Post before switching to decaf?

Posted by: JoshuaBlack | July 23, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Wrestling with all this electronic gear must have distracted you from your key task -- listening to Angle's dialogue with the chamber women, and interpreting and summarizing whatever slight significance this event might have held. This is what readers expect from a newspaper. If we want video clips showing her appearance, body language and glad-handing with voters, we'll switch to a television station or web site.

Posted by: beachcomberT | July 23, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

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