Super Bowl XLI Coverage: A New Era With All the Comforts of Home

MIAMI — For the past 16 Super Bowls, Gary Hershorn has edited pictures on-site, crammed in a poorly lit trailer with a pile of other photojournalists.

This year, 2007, is a year of innovation — fans will broadcast the game via videophone, CBS will employ 75 high-tech cameras to present the game in HDTV, and photojournalists will post to blogs, gather audio and tape video.

Professional photo teams — including editors like me — will squeeze into their trailers, trying to duplicate the comforts of home with food and cable TV.

But Hershorn, a veteran photojournalist and North American news picture editor for Reuters, won’t be there this year.

He’ll be at home, watching Super Bowl XLI in his living room, in Hoboken, N.J.

And he’ll be editing pictures, too.

We see Hershorn sitting at a desk in his living room, an array of computers spread out before him. What we don’t see is the madness that clutches ground-zero on gameday. Also absent is any indication of the remarkable technology that makes this scene possible.

Back in June, at the World Cup in Germany, Reuters introduced a proprietary software program it named Paneikon, which is taken from the Greek word for “global image.” The program enables photographers to transmit pictures directly from their cameras to their editors. It eliminates the need for runners, who shuttle picture-laden memory cards between photographers and on-site editors.

Not only will Hershorn enjoy the comfort of working in his home, but he’ll be working more efficiently than he would be if he were on-site. Paneikon cuts out intermediaries like runners and gets pictures from the camera to the Web extremely quickly. Eliminating intermediaries, and saving Hershorn from travelling, also reduces costs.

The technology, Hershorn said, has allowed Reuters to eliminate on-site editing at events large and
small.

And while Reuters doesn’t plan to abandon on-site editing entirely, remote
editing is perfect for covering events like the Super Bowl, where speed
is paramount.

“In the U.S.,
we have converted almost all our event coverage to remote editing,” Hershorn said Saturday. “Recent
examples include all NFL playoff games in January, the NHL all-star game in
Dallas, [the] events surrounding former President Gerald Ford’s death in Washington,
all entertainment award shows — like the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Latin
Grammy’s — every playoff baseball game and the World Series last October.”

Hershorn will be working as part of a Reuters team of three remote picture editors — one in Hoboken, N.J., one in
Miami and one in Los Angeles. Two editors will concentrate on the game,
and the third will be responsible for the pre-game and halftime
entertainment. That third editor will also oversee a team of six image
processors, whose job it is to write captions and manage images — crop them, tone them and the like. They, too, are spread across the country — from New York to Portland, Ore.

In New Jersey, Hershorn will use four computers. He’ll rely on
one laptop to edit five photographers and another for a group of four other photographers. He’ll use a
third laptop to monitor the games via NFL.com, make calls using VoIP, send instant messages and keep an eye on a television video stream of the game. He’ll keep a fourth computer running so he can monitor what Super Bowl pictures the two other Reuters editors are filing.

Best of all, Hershorn will be at home, in the peace of his living room, able to focus on what matters — the photographs.

“This, in itself, is a huge change in the
process of editing,” he said. “The fundamental belief that editors need to be in a stadium
is being put to rest. Having an editor sit in the comfort of their own office
or home, working on desktop computers with large screens rather then on small
laptops in noisy, crowded and anything but comfortable conditions in a stadium
is proving to be a very positive move forward in photo editing.”

To learn more about Hershorn and his thoughts on picture editing, check out the March issue of the National Press Photographers Association’s News Photographer Magazine.

Poynter’s Kenny Irby, Visual Journalism Group Leader & Diversity Director, is in Miami, FL., this weekend with
hundreds of photographers and editors covering Super Bowl XLI.

Irby is editing pictures at the game for McClatchy-Tribune Photo Services. He has
contributed photographic reporting and editing at nine Super Bowls, focusing on picture editing and photographic technology advancements.

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