Tools of the trade?

I have assembled some of the tools I will be testing over the coming months. Here they are:


Well, except the MacBook Pro, which has been the best laptop I have ever had, and is now over one year old. Besides it is an EeePC 901 (12Gb solid state, 8GB SD, 1.6Ghz Atom, webcam, mic, Windows XP), a Canon 20D (extra battery pack/grip, 4GB CF), and a Flip Ultra.

The Flip Ultra has been interesting. The testing has shown that the mic is incredibly receptive, and the video quality is higher than I expected. I uploaded test footage to my YouTube account and it did degrade slightly, but it was still perfectly watchable.

I am taking a leaf out of the book of Jeff Jarvis, Michael Rosenblum and Howard Owens. Is this the kit all journalists should have? Maybe, maybe not. The DSLR is clunky, a point and shoot might be better. Better yet might be a new Nikon D90, which is a DSLR and a HD video recorder.

But for now I will make do with what I have, and see how effective they are as tools of the trade. Georgia should provide an interesting test bed if nothing else.

Wordle in print

I convinced the powers that be in the Irish Examiner that a wordle cloud would make a good graphic to go along with Barack Obama’s speech. It will feature in tomorrow’s paper. I’ve not seen Wordle used in an Irish paper yet, but since I don’t look at print newspapers that much (I read them all online) I might have missed them!

It will be on Page 14, all in horizontal. ‘Promise’ was the most frequently used word.

Russia revises Ossetia death toll

Surprise surprise. I, along with many others, indicated recently that the alleged death tolls as high as 2,500 put forward by Russia were entirely without a basis in fact. Now, according to the BBC:

Russia has issued new, reduced casualty figures for the Georgian conflict, with 133 civilians now listed as dead in the disputed region of South Ossetia. The figure is far lower than the 1,600 people Russia initially said had died.

133? That sounds closer to fact. But Russia Today has been using the 2,000 figure across its ticker for over a week. This would polarise viewers very quickly, and I imagine now many would accept that figure as fact. It was a figure largely accepted by Western media, though always with the proviso that it was based on Russian media/government reports.

And in a further chilling of Western-Russian relations, Russia has said it is to cut all military ties with NATO.

Marlowe in Georgia

I have been reading and indeed listening with interest to Lara Marlowe’s exploits in Georgia. The telephone interview with her is up on the Irish Times website.

The IT has recently gone down this route of interviewing their own journalists in various locations. It certainly adds value. But could she be doing more?

I’d like her to take some photos of her own, perhaps of the people she interviewed, and put them up on Flickr, or the IT website. Afterall, there is no shortage of space there like this is in a newspaper. A point and shoot would have done, a DSLR would have been preferred.

I’d like if she had a Flip Ultra with her, filmed the Hind helicopters flying overhead and hitting pylons, and then uploaded it to her YouTube account. That could have been embedded on the IT website, or indeed anywhere. It would have gone well with her written account. As would plain raw unedited footage of what she saw, including conversations with people. A podcast would have been nice too.

For now though, it seems we will be treated to the plain old text version, with radio-style interviews.

Is it asking too much? Too much equipment to lug around? I’m not sure. Flip Ultra, a Canon 20/40/400D, an EeePC (back at base either) and perhaps a good quality dictaphone. Internet access back in Tbilisi. A few spare CF cards and batteries.

Is that I am a news junkie that I would like all the other stuff, or would the general interest reader like it also? I wonder does Marlowe know about all this stuff, but prefer to stay traditional?

NY Times fuck up

From the NY Times today:

The owner of the Xinjiang Kashgar Restaurant near the main Olympic venue said he shut down Tuesday [of last week] after repeated visits from officials who cited health concerns. He said several other Muslim restaurants nearby had received similar visits. The owner, a Uighur, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear that he would be further harassed by the authorities.

Anonymity? It’s the owner of the Xinjiang Kashgar Restaurant. Do you want directions too? It’s near the main Olympic venue.

Via Jim