Thursday, October 27, 2005

One reporter's hurricane odyssey

There is a lot of good stuff out there on Hurricane Wilma, hitting as it did in the "convergence triangle" of Florida.

But one especially of note to me at least is the work Bill Ward is doing for Tampa Bay Online. As Peter Howard, news director, noted in a posting to Poynter's online news group:

Bill Ward is a sports reporter for The Tampa Tribune who happens to have a talent for multimedia. So when Hurricane Wilma set its sights on Florida's southwest coast, Bill took his tools in hand and went out and covered the story.

His mission was clear: provide multimedia coverage exclusively for, the online partner for The Tampa Tribune and News Channel 8. Bill wrote a journal; posted photos to the journal; shot, narrated and edited video postcards; and stitched together several 360-degree panoramas from the area. After the storm went through, Bill revisited three locations to take "after" panoramas of the same locations.

This holds significance for me because it illustrates perfectly the sorts of talents I think journalists need to develop. Here's a sports reporter out covering a hurricane across media and doing a darn good job of it.

Having said that, let me hasten to add that I think a Ward -- a one-man band who can handle it all -- will continue to be unusual in newsrooms. But reporters and editors increasingly can expect to be called on to think across media, which means at least knowing about the tools available and how they might be used.

The 360-degree panorama shots on this site (Naples pier example) make me drool. I think all news sites should use more of them. They are the closest thing we have to TV's making you "feel there."

Paul Conley has an interesting take on all this, especially as it relates to business-to-business journalism. His advice in a nutshell is to quickly cut loose those people who insist they are just "print" reporters.


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