Freelancers Should Start Creative Collectives

Al Jazeera English newsroom–the old school. (Wikimedia Commons: Wittylama)

Ann Friedman at CJR has a post for her series #realtalk that suggests freelance journalists should consider forming collectives. She’s seen it work well with her friends in the graphic design community and in groups like the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto, where writers are rarely at a loss for ideas.

“One of the most tangible benefits of working in a shared office space is having officemates who pass along assignments when they’re too busy,” said The Grotto’s co-founder Ethan Watters, according to Friedman’s post. “Over the years, I can safely say that I’ve covered at least half of my office rent through such overflow work. I’ve also profited from having a stable of writing pros on hand to pick up my slack, critique first drafts, and give me advice.”

Though writing is thought of as a solitary pursuit, Friedman argues, journalists benefit from a newsroom atmosphere.  It “makes a lot of sense for those of us who work freelance,” she says, because most freelancers have left newspaper and/or magazine offices. In a collective space, journalists can collaborate to complete projects, share story ideas, learn each other’s skills (I’ll take your website design and raise you my photojournalism…)

The point is, really, why not? Of course, you have to know people you trust and whose work you admire, but if you’ve ventured off into freelancing chances are you do.

Knight News Challenge Winner Will Make Oral History App

A more public form of oral history, sure, but JFK found his roots in ancient forms. (Flickr Creative Commons: State Library and Archives of Florida)

We know the tumultuous start that the Twitter video app Vine had with their infusion of porn. With the Internet, journalists have infinite opportunities for trial and error in creating apps and programs for expanding their abilities to tell stories. Perhaps the most ancient and ingrained human form of storytelling is oral history. Many books have adapted this strategy to capturing the essence of an era or situation.

Now, Knight News Challenge winner TKOH wants to create an app to apply to this ancient form. Like Vine, TKOH’s app will benefit citizen storytellers as well as so-called “professional journalists,” those who will be dedicating themselves to such a stature in the future.

“It’s a need we all have,” Kacie Kinzer, of TKOH, told Justin Ellis of the Nieman Lab. “There’s someone we know, a friend, a family member, who has incredible stories that must be kept in some way.”

The app will be for mobile devices.  TKOH, a design studio in New York, won $330,000 from the Knight Foundation.

New Twitter Tool Vine Shares Short Videos

If you’re about to get shot, do you run or do you take a Vine clip and share it? (Flickr Creative Commons: Nationaal Archief)

Twitter just added a tool called Vine that shares video clips with your followers. Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman thinks Vine could be a good reporting tool, suggesting that bystander coverage of spontaneous events will become even more immediate. The tool only lets you share six-second clips, which you can take all at once or stagnate into different scenes.

Vine CEO Dick Costolo, in a demo clip, shared a video of the entire process of making steak tartare, broken up into second-long scenes. The video continues on a loop until you decide to click out of it. Sonderman also thinks Vine might complicate reporting ethics, especially with sharing graphic clips before considering the consequences.  “[A]lso think of how much more traumatic the bystander documentation of the Empire State Building shooting would have been if the photos of dead victims were instead videos, with action and audio,” he wrote.