Impressions During a Visit to the Boston Globe

I’ve never visited the Boston Globe in my entire life. In fact, this visit would make it my second visit to a newspaper headquarter in the past week. Last week I interviewed Bill Burt at the Eagle-Tribune, so it interesting to see what newsrooms were like.

Anyways, as a class we toured the entire Globe facility. It was pretty neat to see the printing press area, and even neater to find out that the Globe not only prints their newspaper, but it prints out the Boston Herald and The New York Times as well.

After touring the printing area, we toured the newsroom and learned about some of the interactive media that the Globe is participating in.

My favorite feature they have in the newsroom involves Twitter. Throughout the newsroom, there are TV monitors set up on the walls and posts. On these TVs are tweets from Globe writers. Each tweet has some comical or interesting news related to their beat. Their tweet stays active on the screen until another writer tweets.

I like that feature, because it’s just interesting to see what’s on a Globe writer’s mind and what’s going with their beat. In fact, Bruins writer Kevin Paul Dupont had a funny tweet about the NHL labor strike, and the disagreement between the player’s association and the league.

Another feature at the Globe I found fascinating was a program they have called SNAP. The Globe has a $25,000 interactive display that shows every Instagram picture taken around Boston. The pictures are used as a source for stories. The pictures at the Globe are also shown on a map of Boston, so if a picture was taken at the Old North Church, than a picture will hover over the location of the church on the map. In a way, SNAP is like an interactive version of lifestyle and culture in Boston. You can bet if people visited a bar or tourist attraction and took a picture, then uploaded to Instagram that the Globe media lab will use it.

I like how people can put captions within their picture, which captures the essence of the photograph. For example, if someone goes to Halftime Pizza, takes a picture and writes a small caption saying how good the pizza is; the Globe technically gets a picture along with a small review.

SNAP is such a neat feature for the Globe.

Although confusing, the cascading of tweets was interesting. The Globe keeps track of all the tweets about its articles. Who is tweeting about what and what tweets are gaining a lot of interest are also focal points of cascading.

I found “open captioning” to be interesting. This is a feature where a media outlet can tap into the Globe’s network so that any speech that’s being presented on their channel will appear as text on the Globe’s “open captioning.” I was confused by this, but my impression of this feature is that if Fox News is having Mitt Romney on to speak, and are tapped into the Globe, the speech text will appear. I might be repeaing myself, but I’m trying to clarify what I was told this program is. It’s confusing, but a unique feature.

Finally, I got to see Adam 12 do his radio show for Boston.com radio (RadioBDC) and I was intrigued because I’d love to have my own sports radio show here in Boston. I love talking about sports and I’m pretty knowledgeable. If I had a dream job, this would be one of them.

I liked visiting the Globe. I’ve been reading it since I was able to read newspapers, so it was fun to see how things work. I definitely want to work here one day, that’s for sure. For now, I need to concentrate on the rest of this semester and next semester before I walk in that direction.

Picture is from the author of this blog’s personal media library. Some rights reserved.

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Northeastern Multimedia Guru Speaks About the Importance of Good Photography

Taking good pictures might seem like an easy assignment as all someone has to do is press a button and boom a picture is taken. However, it isn’t as simple as it looks.

For me personally, I understand a little bit about photography because I took a photography class last semester while I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree.

So listening to Mary Knox Merrill speak about photography was not only enlightening, but somewhat of a refresher for me. The way she was describing her techniques in taking a picture, or using words such as “depth of field” or “iso sensitivity” wasn’t foreign to me.

The veteran photographer and current director of multimedia at Northeastern University has an impressive resume. Her work has appeared in many publications around the world including Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe.

What stood out the most from her lecture was her passion for photography. In other words, she’ll do anything, even if it means work 18 hours a day, to get the right photo for a project.

Her grasp on the subject matter was strong too. The experience she has speaks volumes and she shared some of her knowledge too.

She stressed the importance of taking many photos all from different angles. Doing that gives the viewer a different perspective of what is going on in a photo. For example, she said if you take a portrait photo of someone’s face, you don’t know what is really going on in the photo other than him or her smiling. It really doesn’t have a story.

Merrill stressed the importance of getting the background or environment in the photo. If you back up, stand on something and have the subject fold their arms and look into the camera, than the picture that’s taken will have more of a story to it. Like in class, she used our instructor as her example. Someone seeing a picture of him in the above mentioned pose will probably figure out that he’s a teacher, because of all the students in the background.

Little things like that can change the whole dynamics of a picture.

Merrill also stressed the importance of not being shy. She said if you’re shy, then you’re in the wrong business. Talking and engaging in people is part of the job and best way to get quality photographs.

When she was working as a photojournalist for the Christian Science Monitor in Congo and Rwanda, she said how you carry yourself is important when reporting a story. Merrill is a very sociable person, so she had no trouble engaging with locals in both countries. In fact, if she didn’t do it, she wouldn’t be doing her job.

All in all, the passion she has for photography is what has made her successful. If she didn’t have passion for it, she probably wouldn’t have told us why it’s important to take good pictures. In fact, she probably wouldn’t be working either.

What I do know is that I’ll keep her advice in the back of my head when I take pictures.