Taking the bull by the horns…

In our continuing series of guest speakers and bloggers, we were able to hear from local Boston-based video blogger, Steve Garfield, author of the book “Get Seen,” a how-to guide on how to create and share videos and other related media across the web.

Garfield, a blogger since 1997, began his video blogging career completely self-taught in 2004. Without any reliable sources on how to properly begin recording and posting video, Garfield dove head first in hopes of figuring it out all himself.

Now Garfield finds himself an on again, off again contributor to New York based rocketboom.com, along his own website stevegarfield.com, which would also be Garfield’s biggest piece of advice to our class, register your own domain name and keeping all your other blogs and social networking devices under your own name, simplicity is the key.

Garfield now finds himself covering everything from the unveiling of the newest in electric cars, to a series of videos covering voting in Massachusetts, which then found themselves on the BBC’s web site, bringing home the point that no vlogger is too small to make an impact.

Sometimes Garfield creates these reports on nothing more than his iPhone, streaming his videos through sources like Qik.com and saving them to YouTube.

After showing our class a video he recorded on the new Chevy Volt, the issues of privacy in a video blogging world came up after a woman interrupted his interview and Garfield decided to not stop recording.

“In a public place, there is no expectation for privacy, she knew it was an interview, she wanted to participate in the reporting, so I think it’s fine,” Garfield said.

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Starting from scratch

It’s the all too familiar story that has begun to be told over and over again, Jennifer Paluzzi was a reporter and editor for Framingham’s, MetroWest Daily News, excelling in some of the difficult stories other writers often threw their hands up on giving up. Then, in October of 2008, the proverbial rug was pulled under her and Paluzzi found herself without a job and in a journalist job market with almost no place to go, well, except into…..PR.

“Everyone expected me to go into PR,” said Paluzzi, ”but I had a Plan B.”

A resident of Grafton, Paluzzi always found herself disappointed in the lack of quality news coverage in the towns only newspaper. It would take an ordinary conversation at a school bus stop to light the fuse inside her and focus more time on her blog, GreaterGrafton.com, covering the towns meetings and raising concerns over the construction of a new high school in town.

Paluzzi now finds herself behind the centralmassnews community of local news blog, covering everywhere from Milbury to Shrewsbury. All of these sites follow the formula of her GreaterGrafton blog, focusing on small town issues that are of great interest to the citizens and parents of each respective area concerned about their neighborhoods and local schools.

Paluzzi noted the constant importance of video and photos for sites like these to thrive, as well as snow day tickers listing school closures and other closures around town. Each site also uses the power of social networking web sites like Facebook and Twitter to gain stronger followings, and send out daily emails to give readers constant coverage.

And in perhaps the biggest of twists out of this story, Paluzzi finds herself the rare editor in Journalism today, the one that’s hiring.

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El-P: Definitive Jux ‘on hiatus’

…[As] a traditional record label DEF JUX will effectively be put on hiatus. We are not closing, but we are changing. The process is already underway, and the last several months (for those wondering what the hell we’ve been up to) have been spent dealing with the technical aspects of wrapping up the label in it’s current form and re-imagining our collective and individual futures.

In 2000 starting a traditional record label made a lot of sense. But now, in 2010, less so and I find myself yearning for something else to put my energy into. I also see newer, smarter, more interesting things on the horizon for the way art and commerce intersect, and as an artist and an entrepreneur, I’m eager to see them unfold. The evolution of this industry is, in my opinion, exciting, inevitable and it would be nice to see the DEFINITIVE JUX brand be a part of it. In other words, maybe we can turn this hoopty in to a hovercraft.

www.definitivejux.net

After over 10 years of existence, Definite Jux (formerly Def Jux) records is, according to founder/rapper El-P, officially on hiatus. The company, which has released some of the most seminal underground hip-hop records from the likes of El-P himself, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, RJD2, Murs and Del The Funky Homosapien, will continue to sell it’s catalogue and even release one final record, Camu Tao’s posthumous King Of Hearts,” alongside a 10th anniversary compilation/retrospective album. As the quote above explains, though the company is not 100% shut down, where the future will take the company is up in the air, but one thing could be said for sure, the music industry is losing one of the greatest indie hip hop record labels to ever be.

For this blogger, my relationship with the genre of hip-hop has always been a little rocky. Through my high school years, the genre itself was a four-letter word, and even the idea of enjoying a hip hop record would be the most foreign concept in my mind. While it would be Public Enemy’s “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” that would smack me into reality and understand that there was thoughtful, well done hip hop that wasn’t the top 40 cookie cutter that filled the radio waves, I will always recall the first time El-P’s “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” and finally, for a lack of a better term, getting it. The production so polished yet ultimately raw, the delivery as biting and passionate as the blistering beats beneath it. This was the rap record I was dying to discover, yet never knew I was looking for.

While Stones Throw’s releases, marred in layers of samples and heavy jazz influences, and anticons outright weirdness would never pull me completely into the indie hip-hop world (my appreciation for the work of Madvillian and J-Dilla aside), Def Jux records was always the source I’d go to for an appropriate hip-hop fix I needed in my life. Will this be the end of all the artists Def Jux brought into my conciousness, in this day and age thats an obvious no, but there is still room to mourn the end of a movement, or in this case, an indefinent hiatus.

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Bringing the ‘Hurt’

So early (and I mean 5:40 in the am early) this morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released it’s nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards, and even the most cynical of cynics inside me was pleasantly surprised at the nominations and lack of serious snubs (for the most part at least). Who were the two biggest winners of the evening, in the category of “stories you couldn’t even dream of writing” Katherine Bigelow and ex-husband James ‘King of the swimming pool full of gold doubloons World’ Cameron both lead the pack with 9 nods for their efforts, ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Avatar,’ respectively. So lets begin with the nominations, who should win, who probably will win and who got screwed over, shall we?

Best Picture

The grand daddy of awards this year was stretched out to 10 nominations for the first time, which, even though the field is pretty much closed in on 3 films, it’s a nice move to give some otherwise would be overlooked films some respect.

Who will/should win: This race has always been really between Cameron’s “Avatar,” Bigelows “Hurt Locker” and Tarantinos “Inglorious Basterds.” Both Bigelow and Cameron have nabbed directing nods for their efforts, but Ms. Bigelow did take home the Directors Guild Award, which has always been a sign of things to come at the Oscars. Who will take home the gold man? As much as it pains me to think, it’s too close to really call, but I’m putting my faith down that Bigelow gets what she justly deserves.

Snubbed: Theres something to be said about “Crazy Heart” getting looked over in exchange for “The Blind Side”, but it’s not the biggest shock in the world.

Best Director

Who will win: Once more this is another head to head between Bigelow and Cameron. Something also tells me that the Academy may just be ballsy enough to split the big two wins between them and give this one to Cameron.

Snubbed: Neill Blomkamp completely re-energized the sci-fi genre with one of the years greatest came-from-nowhere films “District 9,” how he got left out of the pack is completely bizarre.

Best Actor

Who will/should win: This is Jeff Bridges year, hands down, no matter how amazing George Clooney was in “Up In The Air,” it’s time The Dude gets what he deserves for one of the finest performances of the year.

Snubbed: Sharlto Copley, a man who never acted before in his life, yet brought to life one of the most reviled characters you found yourself slowly rooting for, in his role as Wikus Van De Merwe in “District 9″

Best Actress

Who should win: Unless you have no soul, Gabourey Sidibe stole the hearts of any real movie watcher with her performance in “Precious,” and while I’m not entirely sold on the future of her career, she at least knocked it out of the park and then some in this film.

Who will win: No clue why, but this will probably got to Ms. Bullock, where the hell did “The Blind Sides” popularity come from people??? It’s astounding.

——–

So those are the big 4, as for the rest of the list, Mo’Nique is pretty much guaranteed a win for Best Supporting Actress. As much as I lovvvvveeeeddd “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (and I despise every other Wes Anderson film, fact), Pixar will forever own the Best Animated Film category and anyone who is shocked by “Up”s win is a fool. “Avatar” will justly clean up every technical award under the son and even the film is awful in so many ways, it’s also probably the prettiest film visually ever made. And even though something tells me the Academy will give Best Documentary to “Food Inc.,” I’m still crossing my fingers for the controversial yet equally exceptional, “The Cove,” to take home the victory.

Lets hope March 7th is a slow work day for me, because I’m actually very excited to see what happens come Oscar night, especially after last years yawn fest.

Hurt Locker photo (cc) by Fan The Fire Magazine and Avatar photo (cc) by rxau and published here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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Zzzz…sorry, what should I care about again?: Grammy Edition

So, I was toying with the idea of live-bloging the annual parade of the Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences complete incompetence Grammys, but I got out of work a little to late and my roommates also decided to use the living room, so well, that kind of put the cabash on that idea.

Alas, I kept up with my annual masochistic tradition and paid attention to who won, who got screwed over and those who never, ever, deserve to have the phrase “Grammy Award Winner” attached to their name, but do (Black Eyed Peas, I’m looking at you).

As to why I subject myself to this masturbatory show of the recording industries parade of successful P.R. campaigns and tween-minded product testing, I point you to the 2007 Grammy’s, which will probably be the last time the awards show does anything right. If you can’t remember that far back dear readers, that was the year the Dixie Chicks dominated the awards show for their post-Bush fiasco record, “Taking The Long Way,” which, in this bloggers humble opinion, is still one of the greatest contemporary Country records of all time and not to mention one of the angriest records of all time.

Now, I’m no fool, I know a large part of their Grammy sweep in ’07 was incredibly political and a big screw you to Bush on the Academy’s part, but I’m willing to let that go for the sheer fact that it was a) the greatest record of the year, and b) I also appreciate a big middle finger to the Ca$hville, TN music industry which ran with its tail between their legs and abandon the best thing to come out of that state’s music machine in decades.

This year is no different, I was incredibly disappointed weeks ago after reading the nominations list, whoever wrote down with a straight face Beyonce’s “…Sasha Fierce” as one of the best records of the year is nothing but a damned fool. Yes, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It”) took over the world last year and deserves all the praise and recognition in the world, but does the Academy really expect us to believe that and the Black Eyed Peas were two of the best albums of the year? Pah-lease. I was also highly amused by the Globe’s wonderful piece of “no fuckin’ duh” journalism in this little piece by Sarah Rodman, popularity is the key? Really? Someone give this lady a Pulitzer for BLOWIN’ MY MIND.

But well, it’s all said and done, Beyonce reigned supreme, people continued to let the Kings of Leon think they will be relevant in 2012, and justly Lady Gaga netted two wins (I will fight anyone that says Gaga doesn’t deserve any best Pop category award, fact). The Zac Brown Band got the kiss of death and won’t be heard of again after a few months. And, as in every year, the one hope I had for an artist getting their just praise failed miserably, it of course fell in the all so popular Best Contemporary Folk Album category, which I know you were all dying to see on the show, what a let down, with Neko Case getting screwed after releasing the  best record of last year “Middle Cyclone,”surprised? No, but well, like I said, I have a level of a hope that borders of masochism sometimes.

But hey, Lil Wayne didn’t get shit — so you win some and lose some.

Edit: Oh, and Elton John, you’re back in my good graces, welcome back. The song has always been “Meh” to me, but he definitely made this so much more epic.

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Curiosity slightly maimed the cat

This past Wednesday, my Reinventing The News class was given the opportunity to hear from Stephanie Miller, Director of Digital Media for CBS Boston Television, who also works for WBZ-TV & WBZ-Radio

The topic of discussion focus mainly on WBZ’s efforts to combine the power of social networking media to their already established core audience, as well as a way to gain a younger audience that doesn’t normally choose to go to a source like WBZ for it’s news and information gathering.

In or around May of 2008, WBZ began a campaign they entitled “Declare Your Curiosity,” which invited listeners and viewers to submit things they were curious about, but didn’t really completely understand or know where to get the best information from. Executives, including Ms. Miller, are able to access this data in a rather impressive database that organizes everything into categories ranging from Sports, Politics to more local issues. Even going so far as to categorize “curiosities” by city and even county.

Such focused attention brings the central point Ms. Miller was trying to get across to us all, as budding journalists about to embark into the real world and into the current industry, one must start focusing much more at the community level, looking to see what the populations we live in really care about, and giving them the information and answers they seek. It would seem to some to be a relatively obvious thing, but not many sources do it, which makes this Curiosity campaign such an impressive start-up. Miller noted that since May of ’08, the program has gained close to 6,000 unique users on the website, alongside a sizable twitter following and facebook community, as well as a youtube channel full of promos.

The idea is very impressive, but would I honestly submit my own curiosity? Probably not, due to my incredibly limited knowledge of the in’s and out’s of this city enough to bother crafting something of interest. But could this been done well in my hometown? Definitely, it’s something that could and should catch on in as many media markets in the U.S. as possible. Crowdsourcing could very well be the revolution journalism has been looking for, not it’s time for them to just take it seriously, and WBZ/CBS seem to be off to the right start.

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Beat That Dead Horse, Boston: Film edition

Remember those brief, gleaming even, moments of Mass. becoming the next big behemoth of the film industry, even going so far as to try to dub the project Hollywood East? Which was kicked into action by Mitt Romneys tax credit that was later given a bigger push by Deval to try and lure those fancy pants executives up to the Bay State? Well it seems even Mr. Patrick himself has decided to play the dream a little more realistically this time, with Loaded Gun Boston reporting the tax incentive is getting a bit of a slash.

With Gov. Deval Patrick’s latest budget proposal slotted to restrict tax credits for the film industry–slashed to $50 million a year for 2010 and 2011–expect a meaner and leaner film-production season in 2010.

However, Loaded Gun goes on to mention the original 25% incentive will stay in place and save production companies a good couple hundred a million, so all hope isn’t entirely lost. But it still seems that the state has yet to realize that they should probably play this game  a lot slower than they have been. Do you also remember the big fancy Plymouth Rock Studios? How it was going to become the foundation for the big Hollywood East movement and really show the west that the east coast could very well be a competitive force in the film making industry? Well, then do you also remember the company slowly crumbling at the seems, losing its main source of financing and now scrambling just to stay alive? Well, it seems they are at it again.

Yep, Universal Hub made a post a bit ago about interest in trying to build yet ANOTHER movie studio, this time in the heart of Boston, even going so far as to recommend a possible location.

I’d propose a third possibility: The old Stop & Shop warehouse off Neponset Valley Parkway in Readville. It’s a huge, now mostly dormant facility, with plenty of room for expansion. It’s not that far from 128 and it has its own rail spur for Tom or Ben’s private train.

The issues never really been about finding a proper place, but just raising enough interest in not only Boston but Mass. itself as a viable entity in movie making. Sure, a good handful of films have been made here, but really, I don’t think any major studio is still entirely sold on the ability to create an entire production from start to finish in this state. Having the space available is a great thing to note, but it’s definitely not what is needed to start with. The tax credit was the best solution, but as we have seen, it’s not the most enticing thing unto itself. Trying to go straight to big blockbuster creations is the wrong way to go about it. Do I have the solution? No, but well, thats not my job either. So keep trying Boston, but lets learn from the Plymouth Rock fiasco and dial down the intensity. Thanks.

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