Al Tompkins


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Networks use drones to cover Nepal quake

(Screen shot from NBC's drone coverage of Nepal.)

(Screen shot from NBC’s drone coverage of Nepal.)

NBC News’ Miguel Almaguer used dramatic video captured by a drone in his reporting from Nepal this week.

The images soaring above the ruins of destroyed temples in Kathmandu are a demonstration of how valuable these drones can be in adding context and scale, even while they are currently banned for commercial use in the U.S. It is the third time in recent months, NBC News has used unmanned drones to report a story.

NBC included the images in NBC Nightly News and Today. It also included a version just for online. NBC also used the video to show the damage of some of Nepal’s towering historic temples.

“NBC has been interested in drones for some time so we brought the drone into Nepal and worked with local contacts there to be sure we stayed out of the way of authorities and rescue workers.” said NBC Senior Vice President Editorial Janelle Rodriguez. Read more


NPR now allows users to embed 800,000 pieces of audio

Starting Wednesday, NPR began including embed codes with every story.

With yesterday’s change, NPR is enabling widespread distribution of its audio, said Patrick Cooper, director of Web and engagement for the public radio network.

“We’re throwing open the doors to embedding, putting our audio on your site,” he said.

Until now, NPR has only allowed embedding “sporadically,” Cooper wrote in a post for NPR:

No matter their devices, visitors to your site will be able to play the NPR audio and tap the player’s headline to see the full story on The new NPR embed is mobile-friendly and fully responsive to all sizes of digital screens.

You also now can expect embed-ability with almost all audio NPR publishes. For legal reasons, we can’t offer embedding of our radio streams, and sometimes we’ll need to withhold select NPR Music exclusives.

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Meet Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother who slapped her rioting son



CBS landed an interview with the most talked about person caught on camera during the Baltimore riots. But Toya Graham was not a rioter — she is a mother who saw her 16-year-old son Michael in the middle of the rock-throwing crowd. “He was coming across the street with a hoodie on and a mask. At that point I just lost it,” she told CBS News.

CNN and CBS called her the “tough love” mom. While the video spread across social media and on the air, it started when WMAR-TV photojournalist Manny Locke spotted Graham as she pushed her way through the crowd to get to her son. The video, which has been played hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube and news websites, shows Graham swearing at and repeatedly slapping her son on the side of the head. Read more

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Journalists are looking for the Baltimore mother who stepped in last night

Veteran WMAR photojournalist Manny Locke was in the middle of a covering the unfolding riots in Baltimore when he noticed a woman plowing through the crowd then yelling and slapping one of the masked hooded young men in the street. Locke kept rolling as it became clear the woman was the young man’s mother. Here’s the video, which is laced with swearing.


WMAR reported the mother could be heard saying that she had spotted her son live on TV participating in the riots. WMAR News Director Kelly Groft told me that journalists from everywhere have been scouring Baltimore Tuesday to find the mother.

“This is a story that people have connected with,” Groft told me. “It is, I think, what a lot of people wanted to see parents doing last night.” Read more


Journalists attacked and injured in Baltimore riots

At least nine journalists have been beaten or injured in the Baltimore riots this week — including several Monday night.

Casey Harper, a reporter with the Daily Caller Foundation, says he took a liquor bottle to the head amid a “mob of attackers.”

Trey Yingst, a reporter for News2Share tells me that he was traveling with Daily Caller journalists Conner Wolf, Casey Harper and Grae Stafford when Wolf was slugged in the face by a rioter. Read more

Nepal Earthquake

Resources for journalists reporting on the earthquake in Nepal

A man walks past damage caused by an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)

A man walks past damage caused by an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)

Journalists who are looking for information, images and video of the Nepal earthquake can mine these:

-Gramfeed: Gramfeed mines Instagram for GPS located photos in Nepal. This will become a rich source of images over the next few days.

-Google India: Google India set up a PersonFinder page, where you can search or post a name of a person who is missing or a person you know to be found. Of course much of the information is unverified, but as the disaster unfolds, more of it will include names, phone contacts and more that will help in the verification process. Read more


Here’s what it’s like to win a Pulitzer

I spoke with four Pulitzer-Prize winners to find out how winning has changed their lives and affected their journalism. All three said the prize opens doors but it also adds pressure to live up to the high expectations of having “Pulitzer Prize Winner” on your resume. spoke with:

Jacqui Banaszynski,
Knight Chair professor at the University of Missouri. She won a Pulitzer in 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.  She was working at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch. The stories were about the life and death of an AIDS victim in a rural farm community.

photoDiana Sugg, contract editor for special projects, The Baltimore Sun. Sugg was a medical reporter when she reported a series of stories about stillbirths. Her stories told how “thousands of babies, many full-term, are dying every year, and few researchers have ever investigated why.” Her stories also included an examination of how some hospital emergency rooms are allowing families to be with loved ones in the last moments of life and yet another story examined why promising therapy for stroke was being held up in debates. Read more


Behind 60 Minutes’ decision to air video of sarin gas victims in Syria

Sunday evening, CBS News’ 60 Minutes aired what it said was some of the most disturbing and graphic video it has ever put on television. The network began warning viewers about the video Friday. The story Sunday night warned viewers that “If you have young children watching right now, that is usually a good thing. But this story is not for them. The pictures you are about to see are agonizing.”

CBS posts a warning online as the program begins.

CBS posts a warning online as the program begins.

The report by anchorman Scott Pelley called “A Crime Against Humanity” focused on the 2013 sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 Syrian civilians — 426 children died in the attack just outside of Damascus.  Sunday evening, 60 Minutes aired more than three minutes of video captured by cell phones of adults and children suffering seizures, vomiting and gasping for air. Read more


Media must pay for South Carolina police shooting video

scouthcarolinashootingThe New York Times reports that an Australian based “publicity and celebrity management company” representing Feidin Santana, is sending cease-and-desist letters to media outlets demanding they pay for the use of the video Santana captured. That video shows a North Charleston police officer shooting an unarmed man, Walter Scott in the back as Scott ran away from the officer.

The letter from Markson Sparks demands media outlets pay $10,000 to run the video that has gathered millions of page views on multiple YouTube web pages.

The Times’ story quotes Santana’s attorney, Todd Rutherford:

The lawyer, Todd Rutherford, said it was only fair for Mr. Santana to start getting paid for something that news outlets benefited from.

“The search for justice is served by turning the video over to law enforcement,” Mr.

Read more

A Boston Marathon bombing victim family’s plea on Boston Globe’s front page

For the second time in as many weeks, a major newspaper has placed a powerful and dominating essay on its front page. Boston Globe readers awoke to a front page plea from Bill and Denise Richard, the parents of an eight year old son who was killed and a seven year old daughter who was seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombing attack.  The front page letter asks federal prosecutors to “end the anguish” by dropping the death penalty and locking up Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the rest of his life.

(Front page photo courtesy the Newseum)

(Front page photo courtesy the Newseum)

The timing of the “End the Anguish” plea comes as the city’s emotions are once again, raw. This week marks the second anniversary of the bombing. Soon the federal jury considering the case will gather for another month or so to decide whether to hand Tsarnaev a death sentence. Read more

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