Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

A call for collaborators II

Posted in Online Video by Adam Westbrook on July 5, 2012

Are you an independent multimedia journalist already deep into reporting a big ambitious issue?

I’m just starting work on another big publishing project, but right now it’s a lot of planning, ideas and desk-based work. I’m always trying to keep busy telling stories but haven’t had the time to invest in finding a new one yet.

I figured, rather than wait for one to come along and embark on another solo project, this would be the perfect time to help someone else produce their story to a top quality standard. So I’m looking for someone to collaborate with.

Note: this isn’t the same as my call for general collaborators earlier in the year – Mo, Nick, Tony, David, Fabio, Gavin, Lindsay and Pablo thanks for your emails – I’ll be in touch.

Who am I looking for?

I’m looking for someone who is already well into the reporting of a story, has already gathered a lot of the raw materials but is unsure of how to produce it. Maybe you feel that you don’t know how to organise all the materials you collected, or you can’t figure out how to structure the narrative in the most effective way. You might also not be confident at editing and other post-production skills or how to get the story on the web. I can help you with all those things.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you are as we can communicate over Skype and email. However if you would like some hands-on producing then it would be useful (although not vital) if you were in the UK so we can transfer large chunks of media.

What stories am I looking for?

It should be an ambitious, deep reporting multimedia project that you have invested a good amount of time in, building relationships and contacts in the story, immersing yourself in it. I don’t have enough time to do any of the reporting myself so it should be near the end of the ‘gathering’ stage, ready to go into post-production.  There’s no particular subject matter that I’m looking for but I’ll pick the one that interests me most and looks like it has the best potential to be a great story.

You might have photographs, audio and even video to put together. Ideally the story is character led, with a strong engaging person at its heart.

What can I help you do?

I can work with you to shape your raw materials into an engaging, attention grabbing narrative full of all the right story ingredients, whether as a standalone documentary, website, digital magazine or even a one-off iPad magazine.

I have a fair few other commissions and projects on the go at the moment so this wouldn’t be a full time gig – but we’ll work hard together on it until its done and ready to be published. I’ll also help you turn it around swiftly so it goes live by the end of the summer.  I won’t charge anything for my time or claim any ownership of the content itself, although a producer credit would be nice.

How to get in touch 

If your project sounds like a good fit then first of all drop me an email and tell me a bit more about you and your project. I want to know who you are, what your story is, what stage it is at right now and how it fits the criteria above. I’ll get in touch with the ones that appeal to me and the next step will be a short Skype conversation where we can see if we’ll work well together.

To get in touch visit my website and click the big ‘Contact Me’.

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Inside the Story and where are you?

Posted in Entrepreneurial Journalism, Online Video by Adam Westbrook on March 26, 2012

A few weeks after announcing it, I’m excited to reveal more about the storytelling book project I’m working on at the moment.

It now has a title: Inside The Story: a masterclass in digital storytelling from the people who do it best – and a website. It’s been tested in most browsers (and will look a bit different in some) so do let me know if you spot any problems.

UPDATE: there’s now a Facebook page for you to get involved in too – click here to take a look

Some of the best multimedia storytellers out there are currently working hard on their contributions for the book, and we’re going to begin layout next week.

So far, I can promise you will learn about how to structure and pace stories from award winning film makers Claudio Von Planta and the Bombay Flying Club, how to make people engage with complex issues from Catherine Orr, who helped create Coal: A Love Story, and practical advice on coming up with innovative ideas from Andrew DeVigal, Multimedia Editor at the New York Times and photojournalist Jonah Kessel.

And that’s the just the beginning! Every day I work on the book the more convinced I am it’s going to be a really useful resource for anyone who wants to be better at storytelling on the web. And all the money goes towards Kiva, the developing world entrepreneurship charity.

If you’re even in the slightest bit excited by the book, please put your name in the email box at the bottom of the preview page. No spam, I promise, but a note in advance of the book being launched. And most importantly please share it with everyone who could benefit from it!

In a mission to learn as much along the way as possible I’ve designed the web site myself in HTML5 and I’ll post some lessons I’ve learned as a novice web designer in a future post.

So that link again: Inside The Story.

Over to you

I write a lot on here about the need for more starters, initiators, entrepreneurs and storytellers who are committed to quality over quantity. And I know there are lots of you out there, I just don’t know who you are.

Quite often I get offers of work which for one reason or another I am unable to take up, and my list of people to recommend is actually quite short.

So I want to build a database, if you like, of excellent multimedia producers, filmmakers, directors, photographers, web designers, who I might potentially collaborate with on an exciting online project or be able to recommend to clients. I might also be able to hook you up with other collaborators.

No guarantees on either of those, of course, but if you’re interested in collaborating with others then please drop me an email with a line or two about yourself and a link to your best work.

I should stress I’m only interested in working with people committed to investing time in ambitious, high quality work. If you’re about quick hits and talking heads, that’s fine, but not what I’m looking for. The email address is adam [at] adamwestbrook.co.uk.

In the UK or Europe (for direct collaboration)

  • Film makers
  • Photographers
  • Researchers

And anywhere in the world (where we could collaborate remotely)

  • web designers
  • graphic designers
  • interactive designers
  • motion graphics animators
  • infographic and data journalists

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Six great collaborative photography and journalism projects

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on May 1, 2010

I think collaborative projects & crowd sourced creativity, is one of the greatest and most powerful things about the internet.

Getting people, not just to share their opinion, but a bit of their creative flair is wonderful and it’s great seeing photographers & journalists using that power well. Here are four great examples I’ve found over the past few years. If you know any good ones, feel free to share!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Images: Someone Once Told Me, 4am Project, How’s Your Weekend, Volcano Love Stories)

Someone Once Told Me

A great concept from BBC Journalist Mario Cacciottolo: people take pictures of themselves holding up a card with a phrase someone once told them. The rules are it has to be something said to them directly, in monochrome and on a piece of paper. I broke the rule writing on a whiteboard I know.

I used SOTM to teach my students basic photography and I was chuffed to see some of them appear on the site having submitted their own ones.

And they’re on Twitter too: @SOTM

How’s Your Weekend?

I love this idea to bits:

Sunny lazy day on the beach. Snuggling under blanket over hot chocolate and DVDs. Morning jogging. A road trip. A hot date. Good times wine and dine. Dress up party. Awesome gigs. A craft day. Baking cupcakes or cooking homemade pasta. Afternoon tea. Coffee and cakes. Art exhibition…we want to share how people around the world spend their weekends. Everyone has a story, share your weekend with us and see what others do too.

The rules are you must submit 3 images which tell the story of your weekend (building a narrative) and they must be at least 800px wide.

Click here to find out more.

Volcano Love Stories

The idea here is to collect stories of love and loss which inevitably happened when the volcanic ash cloud descended on Europe and closed air space.

Were adulterers caught out when they couldn’t get home from their illicit break? Did a romantic weekend with a new couple turn into a nightmare week of travelling which broke them up? And on the flip side, were any people brought together in the melee who wouldn’t otherwise have met?

Click here to contribute stories.

4am Project

A well known British born project to capture the world at 0400 on a specific date. This year it was the 4th April, and despite my best intentions I never made it out of bed on time (well, it was a Sunday).

Lots of people did though – check out the results here.

A Moment in Time

On a similar theme comes A Moment In Time, on the 2nd May 2010 (I just got this blog out in time!); a project by the folks at the New York Times’ Lens Blog.

The idea: photographers, professional and amateur all capture an image at the same moment. This weekend it is 1500 UTC (GMT), so wherever you are in the world, work out your local time and go out and take an image.

Rather than capturing a random shot, they want images you’ve put some time into:

What matters more than technique is the thought behind the picture, because you’ll only be sending us one. So please do think beforehand about where you will want to be and what you will want to focus on.

Click here to read the rules  – and take part!

Have I gone way off topic?

What’s this got to do with multimedia journalism? Whatever your trade, your art, it’s important to keep yourself fed with inspiration from all quarters.

Even as a journalist I try and consume as much non journalism as possible, and let it seep into my brain. As a visual journalist, on a quest for new styles and approaches, the work of artists in other fields is vital fuel for the fire.

To that end I spend as much time as possible at the wonderful Photojojo, Travel Photographer, Duckrabbit, 500 Photographers, Kitsune Noir, ISO50 and FFFFound.

A noble enterprise: proof network journalism is the future of news

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on October 24, 2009

Crowd Sourcing: people power (CC image)

One of my predictions for the next year is we’ll see an increase in journalism start-ups as the talk of journalist-cum-entrepreneur starts to come to fruition.

Many will fail, some will make it work, and a few might even shine a light on how to fund journalism.

And I think one thing is for sure: the secret to success is in the big c-word: collaboration.

Charlie Beckett named it Networked Journalism in SuperMedia in 2006: “it is about the journalist becoming the facilitator rather than the gatekeeper” he says.

I think a news start-up which begins without this in mind is doomed to failure.

The triumvirate of UK media scandals in the last 10 days (Trafigura, Jan Moir & Question Time) have proved the importance of people power. Does the future of journalism lie in collaborating, facilitating, and nourishing this power?

Le Post

One newspaper investing in this future is France’s Le Monde. It’s set up a subsidiary site called LePost.fr – built entirely from collaborative journalism. In an interview with Forum4Editors, the editor Benoit Raphael explains:

“[the journalist] checks first what has been said and published in other media. He aggregates the best content from different sources, including blogs, Twitter, Youtube, etc. and traditional media. Then, on some of them, he brings complementary information, new elements, adds value and checks facts…The information is a permanent conversation that is built step by step by the community and the journalists…He understands that information is a conversation.”

Benoit explained the journalists routine is more like that of a blogger.

Mother Jones

Over the Atlantic, US magazine Mother Jones is also seeing what the benefits of networked journalism can bring.

In December, editors are joining forces with editors of other magazines & broadcasters to launch a news product focusing on Climate Change. Its aim is to crowd source journalism using professional journalists.

Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffrey told Dumenco’s Media People:

And I don’t want to underplay how important folks see this as being journalistically. First, on the topic at hand, there was no need to convince anybody how important it is, how media coverage has been fractured and inadequate and not compelling enough. Secondly, everybody is really eager to use this as a way to test-drive collaborations, which everybody sees as a vital part of the emerging media landscape. On that front, we’ll likely learn as much from what doesn’t work as what does.

Journalists can no longer ignore the power of thousands or even millions of social media savvy people. Tapping into this power  will have huge potential: finding stories, processing data, building communities.

And the professional journalist fits in there somewhere, filtering, processing, analysis and contextualizing…there could be value in this old game after all.