Covering the Home Team: Two Perspectives

MIAMI — The similarities between the teams who’ve come here to play and their main hometown newspapers is overt.

All proclaim Midwestern roots.

Both teams are coached by studious,
African-American coaches who profess and practice Christian faith traditions.

The newspapers are led by corporate owners — the Chicago Tribune by Tribune Company and The Indianapolis Star by
Gannett Company, Inc.

And both newspapers have been faced with the common challenge of producing multimedia coverage for this momentous event.

There, the similarities end.

Each paper has its own strategies and plans for covering this Super Bowl. What are they? Here’s what Poynter Online learned from Mike
Fender
, director of photography at The Indianapolis Star and Torry Bruno, assistant managing
editor for photography at the Chicago Tribune.  The  following  has been edited and assembled from e-mail exchanges with Fender and Bruno.

How are you staffing the game in Miami?

Bruno: We are
synergizing this year. We are sending Todd
Pannagopoulos as our only editor from Chicago, but we are sharing editors and other staffers from our
sister paper in Fort
Lauderdale. We are in
a Tribune Company trailer and will be sharing resources with the big staff down
there. The (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel will have many photogs, runners and editors available
to us.

Fender: Not enough! We have four photographers and two editors for the game. I would
really like to have one more editor, but things are tight. We are also teaming up with USA Today again, as we did
at the Final Four, to send our photos to them and their photos to us. Our
combined photos are also being sent to all the other Gannett newspapers in Indiana.

How has the editing process changed for big event coverage?

Bruno: Obviously,
digital allows us to deliver content as it breaks. The editors on the scene are
editing fast and often so we can keep a content flow of updates to our Web presentations. Back in the newsroom, we are editing early and often as well. We
are building continuous live galleries and producing multimedia on the fly.
Later, towards the print deadline, the editing shifts to feeding the print
beast. So, editing has varied phases and varied purposes throughout the cycle.
All this, of course, depends on the time of the event and how that impacts on
the print deadline. The Web deadline remains the same — immediate.

Fender: For big events, it
has become even more of a team process. For big events, like the Indy 500, the NCAA Final
Four, and now the Super Bowl, we use a similar process. On-site editors
will do a rolling edit, sending the best photos we have at the time throughout the event. We look for the big plays, key moments, etc. We do this even
though the big play in the second quarter may not mean anything by the time
the game is over. We have to do this because we are editing for the Web site, which will change frequently. We also do photo galleries which can
use these early photos. While on-site editors do this part, we have
editors back at The Star taking the photos in and distributing them … to the Web, to sports, to A-1.

What are some of the benefits from the new delivery systems?



Bruno: We are using
Verizon’s latest and fastest wireless cards and network, so some of our
photographers will be editing … on the fly from positions up in the
stadium or in town, while others on the field will have runners running
cards to editors
in the trailers outside. They in turn, are editing and sending the live
material ASAP for galleries and other Web presentations. Consequently,
all of
this early editing helps the print photo editors get a jump on the
print editing.

Fender: We have more
photos to choose from, and hopefully better quality, in the end. We like to use the work of
our staff, but when things come down to one key play or moment, it is nice to
have additional resources to look at so the readers get the best possible
photos.

What will the be the next picture editing development?



Bruno: I believe the next development is one that
is already in use in some applications, but I see it coming on strong in the
big event world too. We have looked at a couple of different remote, wireless
prototypes and software that could eventually get our editors out of the
trailers and, in some cases, back in the newsroom.

Fender: I hope the
process the Associated Press has been testing and using, with wireless transmitting becomes something smaller outlets like us can use. Being able to send from the photographer to
the editor immediately will make things smoother. We tried to do this at
the Indy 500 last May and the interferance from radio signals was a problem.
We did end up with one image coming over from victory lane that went online
immediately, but after that the whole thing crashed. I hear the AP
system is really working well.

How have the skills and requirements for picture editing
changed in this age digital delivery?

Bruno: Editors now have to think about various
levels of storytelling in a faster, more compressed window of opportunity. The
editor on the scene editing game coverage, for example, has to work faster, and
has to edit in more waves to keep the latest, freshest material up online as
quickly as possible. He, also, at the same time, needs to recognize opportunities
for slideshows, multimedia and print. In some applications, the editing is back
in the photographer’s hand as he shoots and gathers sound independently, in a
producer kind of role. These editors are sending at a furious rate and
communicating with the home newsroom through cell phone and Blackberry e-mail.
Back home the editors are also thinking in a multi-layered, more
three-dimensional way for story-telling that includes numerous applications. For
us it means, print/newspaper and book, online/game galleries, soundslides,
home page etc., and TV broadcast/WGN and CLTV 24-hour Cable News. We are also
doing numerous special sections and posters, all on the fly. The Bears book and
posters have to be done immediately after the newspaper deadline. We’ll be up
all night and then drive to the printer in Dubuque, IA.

Fender: For us, you
not only have to be an editor, but you also have to have to be able to tone and caption images
quickly. You don’t have to be a master at Photoshop, but you have to be able to
move images quickly. At some events, like Indy and the Final Four, we have a
hometown advantage so we can staff it with more editors. But on the road it is
tougher. Editors are also learning to edit multimedia.

Are your staffers involved in any multimedia coverage? If
so, what?



Bruno: Our
staff has been producing Soundslide shows and Scott Strazzante is photo-blogging with sound bytes. We also have WGN and CLTV producing video
continuously from Miami and
Chicago.

Fender: All of our staffers are learning video and audio. Some will
eventually do more than others, but I want
everyone to be able to pick up the equipment and go out and use it if they need
or want to do it. We did a practice video from the Final Four and a
Soundslide from the game. At Indy we did much more, strapping a video camera to
an Indy training car to give a lap around the track view, a time-lapse of
the race, a Soundslide from race day and quite a few photo galleries. At
the Super Bowl we have been doing video all week and will be doing a couple of
audio and time-lapse projects from the game. Editing for multimedia is
another challenge. We finished editing a Soundslide from the AFC
Championship game at 6 a.m. We
require a second set of eyes on all multimedia and on
big events.  These often go late into the night … or early into the morning. Multimedia director Val Hoeppner leads our multimedia efforts in the newsroom, and she is
involved in the editing process.

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