This particular blog is a ton of fun to post for two reasons:
No. 1 — It means I’m finally done with writing these monstrously long posts about Studio 55; and …
No. 2 — Earlier today, I received an e-mail from a friend at the Naples Daily News telling me that Studio 55 had won a national Digital Edge award for best multimedia storytelling at the annual Newspaper Association of America conference!
So, let’s get this thing started (and please forgive any typos or other goofs) …
Just like I’ve tried to note before, this is how Studio 55 was put together while I was there, and as I remember it. I’m not sure if things have changed or not.
The Studio 55 team
Some of these folks are still at the Naples Daily News, while others have moved on.
There were four full-time dedicated employees for Studio 55:
Denise started working with us while we were still in Lawrence. Back in Kansas, she worked with us on tons of stuff, including helping us with one of our very first podcasts on lawrence.com. She also is a pretty dang good writer, and wrote the bio of Bill Snead for our section about the storied Kansas photographer. I know this will probably get me in trouble with someone somewhere, but I always used to think that Denise had won the genetic lottery because she was as nice as all get out, she was a very talented young journalist, she was as sharp as they come, and she didn’t look anything like how I looked.
Alex is another talented young journalist from Kansas, even though he graduated from Ohio University. He is a great shooter and video editor who could make even the most routine sporting event look interesting. Alex also was great on-the-air.
As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Brian was one of those incredibly talented visual journalists we hired from the Brooks Institute.
Jim was one of the few people on our new media staff in Naples who had a long background with the Naples Daily News. He’d been a sportswriter and an online editor at the paper, and his institutional knowledge was essential for our young staff.
The show also had one full-time intern, James Graham, who directed the daily show, put it all together, and shot some B-roll.
But there were more than just those five folks who had a daily hand in the Studio 55 vodcast.
Tim Richardson was our new media managing editor at naplesnews.com, and he was in charge of getting all of the latest stories from the Daily News newsroom into the vodcast, as well as in charge of editing the news script each day. Tim also conducted most of the on-air interviews with reporters that you saw on the show. All totaled, Studio 55 probably took about two hours of his time each day.
Ellyn Angelotti was our new media sports editor at naplesnews.com. Ellyn’s background was great because I think her degree was in broadcast journalism, but she worked with us in Lawrence extensively in both online and print. She would produce and anchor the sports segment about three times a week. She would do this in the morning because we typically liked to have the sports segment wrapped up by noon or so.
Nick Hollensbe and Chris Cost. These two guys built the cool graphics you see on Studio 55. The majority of their time was spent making television spots for commercial customers, but they also built the graphical opens and other graphics for the show. The graphics that you see during the segments that are updated each day (lower-thirds, maps, weather, etc…) were built in a templated way so that the news staff could update those.
Ryan McAfee was our new media sports intern, but he ended up spending probably half of his time on Studio 55. He would shoot segments in the studio, run teleprompter, or even edit the show together. He was so good at nearly everything related to Studio 55, we eventually put him in charge of putting together our high school football vodcast, which was totally amazing!
And, lastly, was Cara McCoy. Cara was one of our interns from Ohio University. Cara would update the Studio 55 site each day, and take care of all of the encoding of the different media files. She probably spent an hour or two of her time each day on the project.
The typical daily schedule
Planning for Studio 55 happened in two layers: the daily planning and the weekly planning.
Because the second segment of the show usually had a two-to-four-minute video piece, the planning for that segment often was done in advance, and coordinated with special projects that were running in the newspaper, if possible.
The daily planning was a different story.
The news editors at the Naples Daily News would try to have a basic overview of any planned stories that were going to be worked on the next day by print reporters to Tim Richardson by about 6:30 p.m the day before.
This would allow Tim to do some planning and coordinating for both our Studio 55 and naplesnews.com coverage that next day. What it meant for Studio 55 is that in the morning before our vodcast director (and intern!) came in to the office, he would get a call from Tim to ask him to gather any B-Roll that we might need.
Tim also used this list of stories from our editors so that either our intern or one of our full-time shooters could go out and get interviews for stories that might benefit from them, etc… Knowing what some of the stories we might have in that day’s vodcast also meant we could get archived footage to go with certain stories. (At least when I was there, we used a lot of archived footage — I don’t even want to know how often we ran our archived footage from Hurricane Wilma.)
Ellyn Angelotti, our new media sports editor, would usually get into the office at about 9:30 each morning. She told me that the script usually took her about 30 minutes or less to put together, but the real time on her part was waiting for all of the different graphics to render for the sports segment, which she had to build.
Because Studio 55 was posted and ran on cable at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., most of our sports coverage would either be looking forward to that evening’s events, or would be analysis and deeper interviews of what happened the evening before.
The video and interviews were shot and edited by Alex Adeyanju. If you’ve ever watched Studio 55, you know that Alex shot a ton for each show. There were usually at least two sports video pieces in each edition of Studio 55. And about two days a week, Alex would do the whole enchilada — shooting the video and anchoring the sports segment.
(Alex also anchored and shot video for our weekly high school sports vodcast, which ran on the weekends.)
The daily sports segment on Studio 55 was typically shot between 10:30 a.m. and noon, depending on how things were going.
During this time, Tim would typically begin getting stories from the news desk so that he could pass them along to Denise. Denise would write the news script each day, as well as most of the second segment and parts of the third segment.
Denise usually showed up for work at 8:30 or so in the morning.
Though her day now begins with a news meeting with some of the editors of the newspaper, when we were in Naples together, her day began by pretty much starting immediately on the script for the second and third segments of the show. Depending on how things went, she would often have her parts of the second and third segments shot by noon or 12:30.
Throughout this time, she also would be working on the graphics needed for her segments.
Usually about 1 p.m. or so, Tim would begin the Daily News reporter interview that ran in the second segment of the show. People would probably be surprised to know just how many of those reporter interviews were shot on the first take. I always thought the newspaper’s reporters were pretty dang good at them. And that’s saying a lot, because sometimes they could be shot under kind of stressful circumstances.
It seemed like we always had lots of visitors from newspapers and media companies around the country and the world, and most of them really wanted to see the reporter interview as it was being shot — which meant the reporters were shooting this segment in front of an audience.
In between all of the different shoots in the morning and early afternoon, the vodcast director would be putting together/editing the segments. The goal was to have the second and third segments completely edited and ready to go by about 2:30 or so.
Our goal was to have the news script for the 4 p.m. vodcast done by 3 p.m. or earlier, so that it could be shot, edited and done by 3:30.
It took us about 30 minutes to encode all the different versions of the vodcast so that we could post them by 4 p.m.
We did have a back-up plan, which unfortunately we had to use from time-to-time, which was to stream the “live” version of the vodcast over the Internet via Windows Media (that was just connected to a television tuned into the local Comcast channel) if we didn’t get it completed in time to post at 4.
At 4 p.m., several of us would gather around a television and watch the vodcast on Comcast. We’d take notes on things we wanted to change or tweak in any of the segments.
Tim would then head back over to the newsroom to see if there had been any developments to any of the stories we ran in the 4 p.m. show, as well as to see if there were newer stories we’d like to add for the 6 p.m. vodcast. Our goal was to have the 6 p.m. vodcast shot by about 5:15 or so.
So, what would we do in the rare instances when we had a breaking sports story, and the sports segment was not only already shot but edited?
That actually happened a couple of times to us. Once was when a golfer from Naples, Rocco Mediate, who was playing unexpectedly well in the first few rounds of the Masters golf tournament. Because of that, we had the story and related photos appear in the opening news segment of Studio 55, which was how we decided to handle things like that, as well as stories from mid-afternoon state high school sports tournaments, etc…
Well, I hope these last few blogs have answered some of the questions behind Studio 55, as well as kind of explained what all went into the project. Studio 55 was a ton of work, but also very exciting.
We really didn’t know what we were doing, and that kind of made it fun.
I’d never been around a new-media staff that had so much “can-do” spirit. They were talented and fearless. And working with them in Naples was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my newspaper career.
Thoughout all of these blogs, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things, and if there’s something else you’d like more information about, please send me an e-mail.
I’m probably not going to post anything to this blog for a week or so. But I gotta tell ya, I’m kind of excited for my next post because it will be about our team’s first big project here at washingtonpost.com, which we hope to launch on Feb. 7.
I can tell you this — it’s a video project, and it couldn’t be any more different from Studio 55 if I wanted it to be.