Still Contest Judges
Danese Kenon's career has progresses from The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL to The Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, NY to the Indianapolis Star, where she is currently working as a multimedia journalist.
Boyzell Hosey has served in several capacities at the St. Petersburg Times and promoted to director of photography in 2006. Prior to his move to Florida Hosey was a staff photographer at The State in Columbia, S.C. and the Lima News right here in Ohio.
Ross Taylor is a staff photographer at The Virginia-Pilot who previously worked at the Hartford Courant. Taylor is a former NPPA Region 1 POY and two-time North Carolina POY.
Audio slide shows judged by Scott Anger - Anger is an award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur whose work has spanned every medium over the past twenty-five years. Most recently, he was the Director of Video at The Los Angeles Times, where he oversaw editorial content, developed video strategy and grew online video viewership by more than three hundred percent. Learn more about Scott here: http://scottanger.com/about/
News videos judged by Regina McCombs - McCombs is a faculty member of The Poynter Institute, teaching multimedia, and social and mobile journalism. She was the senior producer for multimedia at StarTribune.com in Minneapolis-St. Paul for 11 years.
Learn more about Regina here: http://about.poynter.org/about-us/our-people/regina-mccombs
Sports videos judged by McKenna Ewen- Ewen is an award-winning multimedia producer at the Star Tribune. His previous experience includes work with Bloomberg News, Minnesota Public Radio, MinnPost, Minnesota Daily and Twin Cities Public Television. Ewen has received numerous honors for his work, including three regional Emmy Awards, SPJ’s national Mark of Excellence Award and the Scripps Howard Foundation’s collegiate reporting award.
Learn more about McKenna here: http://ewenmedia.com/
Feature videos judged by Jenn Ackerman - Ackerman is an award-winning photographer and producer. After working as an editor and writer, Jenn decided to shift her focus from the written word to the photographic moment. She studied photojournalism at The Danish School of Journalism and in 2008 completed her master's degree in photography at Ohio University.
Learn more about Jenn here: http://ackermangruber.com/about/jenn/
Multimedia projects judged by Richard Koci Hernandez - Hernandez teaches multimedia at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He also spent 15 years working at the San Jose Mercury News. He produces www.multimediashooter.com.
Find out more about Koci here: http://www.richardkocihernandez.com/
Judges comments for the Online Photojournalism Contest
News Audio Slideshow: The first-place winner stood out in the category as the only slideshow that had a strong narrative story arc. This is an example of a powerful story told through a good interview and strong character. The story was well-photographed, well-edited and the audio was well-mixed. The music choice - and the manner it was used - helped strengthen the story. Solid visual storytelling really elevated this piece despite the unnecessary image movement at inappropriate times, such as when a crying images is displayed. Obviously, consideration was not given to the presentation of the slideshow because the subject introduces herself when the name is clearly displayed in the player.
The second-place winner had a lot of strong images but the story arc was much weaker. The story never felt intimate and wandered at one point. A better choice of interview subject might have helped. Overall, the photography was good but felt distant at times. The near-constant moves on every photograph in the slideshow became distracting. It was difficult to feel the emotion that was obviously present at the event.
Third-place was a difficult position to judge because the winning entry lacked a real reason to have an audio slideshow but the photography was stronger and more intimate than the other entries. Having one, single bed of music with no interviews or natural sound from the images made it difficult to place. Once again, the constant panning and moving on the images distracted from the power many of the photographs and added nothing to the storytelling.
FeatureAudio Slideshow: The first-place winner really stood out in this category. It was a complete, well-told narrative story with strong, telling photography. Unlike some entries, it was not predictable. The strength of the character and the power of the interview really pulls the viewer in and tells a great, moving story. The images were powerful and well-chosen. Overall, it was nicely edited with solid pacing and cadence but was slightly too long. The audio was a good mix of natural sound and interview.
The Second-place winner is another complete story with a solid narrative arc and creative, intimate photography. The interviews are solid and well edited. The photography added a level of storytelling that filled the gaps in the audio portion.
Third-place stood out as having a good story that started strong and had some nice visual surprises. The photographer worked hard to shoot a good visual variety that helped carry the story. Overall, the photography, interviews and natural sound was well-edited and well-paced but suffered from being too long.
General comments: The winning entries illustrate the point that having a good story told through a strong character, with powerful photography, great interviews, solid editing and time to produce it, contributes to compelling storytelling.
Audio and photography are both "single-sense" mediums and have the power to engage viewers/listeners on separate, individual levels. The combination of the two mediums can provide an incredible, emotion, aural and visual experience. In general, a viewer should be able to listen to an audio slideshow with their eyes closed and get a complete story. The power of the visual image should add to the story arc and provide a level of engagement that brings the story to life. The first-place winners in both categories along with the second and third in the feature category all worked hard to use the strengths of the two mediums in this way.
Visually, many of the entries lacked a consistent quality. Mediocre images seemed to be used to "fill" the gaps in the many of the slideshows. Timing of images and cadence of stories was a problem as well. Complex images moved off-screen too quickly while more straightforward compositions lingered. Photographs were constantly in motion in a couple of entries that really distracted from the storytelling.
It seems that music continues to be a bugaboo in the newspaper world. It is a storytelling tool that can be used and misused like anything else. Some entries used it well as another storytelling layer that pulls viewers through a story. In other entries, music was over-done and used to illicit undue emotion when photographs or interviews already communicated emotional story points. Also, it is rarely a good storytelling technique to place a single layer of music under the entire length of a story.
Many entries, including some of the winners, suffered from not knowing when to end the story. Most stories could have been shorter without the narrative arc suffering.
News Video: First place: Strong video, good interviews and natural sound, great edit. Unlike many of the other entries, it made some great emotional connections to the people involved.
Second place: Another good edit, good video, great natural sound. Captured a dramatic moment. Ending felt like it fell off, but good story overall.
Third place: Good coverage of the event, nice job working the story. Narration helped add context, although at beginning, I would have liked more nats before going into full narration -- it needed breathing room.
Good balance, good moments.
General Comments: Too often, decent stories were hurt by not being tightly edited enough. The length and loose edits drained much of the drama and energy out of them. I was happy to see plenty of dramatic moments captured and some good use of nice, steady tripod shots. Now if we could get to know some individuals and care for them, and depend less on officials for the audio, that would be another big step forward in storytelling. I feel like there's a lot of growth in quality over what I've seen in video contests over the last couple years, which is very exciting. Keep up the good work!
Feature video: First place: An intimate look at a serious issue. Nicely lit interview and a great subject with a great story to tell. Original and great tempo/rhythm.
Second place: Beautiful shots through the video. The visuals themselves made me more interested in the story and a nice ending.
Third place: Really nice visuals. I would have liked to hear less of the song as it became the focus of the video.
General Comments: Overall I was looking for videos that were visually engaging. I would have liked to award some other videos with great stories but many lacked strong visuals and some had technical issues. I was looking for the video with a photographic vision transferred into motion. Some of the stories had great story lines and community impact but lacked engaging visuals to support the story. The videos that won I saw the photographer's ability as a visual storyteller and they all had great visuals with interesting subjects.
Sports Video: First place: Great story, great execution. Using the team's announcer was a great idea and the pacing was strong. The shots were beautiful and did a nice job reinforcing the story. It didn't include any sports action (except for the photos), but it did a nice job telling a less visual story. I would've liked to see the use of more natural sound (especially with the opening day photos) to mix with the music rather than relying on the same audio track all the way through. Overall, great job.
Second place:Very nice integration of stills and video. The shots we're impressive and a great way to showcase a less traditional sport. Again, I would've liked to see the use of more natural sound (ie. the zipline) to carry the story and break up the narrative track. That would have helped improve the story's pacing as well. Great visuals and great length for the web.
Third place: Strong visuals and impressive use of natural sound. I was looking for stronger characters to carry me through the piece. That would have made it easier to showcase the significance of Nebraska switching conferences. Overall, well shot and produced. Nice job transitioning through the action with sound and stills. And the shot of the gates rocked!
Multimedia: First place: This was a clear winner. Finding and navigating through the stories and videos was easy. All the content was well presented in a blog format. From the very first seconds of video, the content was strong, emotional and very professionally presented. I knew I was in the hands of seasoned story tellers. Overall a very compelling project, well reported and well presented.
Second place: It was nice to find the projects content contained in an easy to navigate "shell" I was able to scroll through the cold cases with ease and view selected cases. Any web project is only as good as its user interface. You can have the greatest content in the world and if the viewers can't find it with ease then you've failed. I also appreciated the "fit and finish" of the presentation with the design flourishes. The video content was strong and well edited and presented despite an obvious lack on b-roll or supporting content. It's an art to create compelling stories with very few assets and this team did just that.
Third place: While the individual stories were compelling and had a very cinematic style and approach, the overall presentation lacked coherence. It didn't feel like a true project/package. A landing page or splash page describing the project much like the other winners would have really helped this entry. Ultimately I was impressed with the strong visual storytelling. Well done.