Blogs > Ivan Lajara

Daily Freeman Life Editor Ivan Lajara talks about journalism, living in the Hudson Valley, language, the Web, cats and even politics. But he shouldn't.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Six lessons from producing 360-degree videos



A recent post by Facebook media on 360-degree efforts by ABC News using many devices caught my attention:

"Interestingly, it was a $400 Ricoh Theta S that captured the most popular 360 video of 2016 so far"

For those of us producing 360 degree and virtual reality videos in the lower end of budgets, this is an encouraging sign. No, I'm not expecting to get 18 million views from Daily Freeman videos (or my own page, which I have, for some reason).

After all the early experiments and trials, some things are, in my view, becoming apparent when it comes to the production and delivery of 360-degree videos, especially if you have a lower quality (1920x960 for video) Theta S like we do:

* You're better off with Facebook video. Most of the audience there is in mobile, so people will see videos in 360 on a smaller screen. Processing is minimal and you have a built-in audience. YouTube or Vrideo will take longer and will display big, which will show the low quality (1920x960), not really good for true VR anyway. Furthermore, on mobile, for any of these to work, users have to inside the app (the Facebook video above won't play if you see this post in mobile). In terms of just to get this to work seamlessly, Facebook provides the best experience. YouTube just got iOS support,, but Facebook has the audience.

* Content is king: The ABC News video is from January and the 360 novelty might have worn off by now. The key here is to have a video that's attractive and that works best in 360. So it's important to choose the right stories or events. I think any weather-related event is an easy story idea. Rallies and festivals also work well.


* Videos on FB should be standalone posts. I have found that if you try to add links to the text in the post, the reach will dramatically decrease. I don't know if this is just us, but it makes sense in the larger Facebook algorithm sense (Facebook displaying stand-alone video more prominently). This presents a challenge when you have a written narrative or other elements other than a 360 video that you want to highlight on your website (lMOAR journalism!), but I have found that making another post for those elements doesn't hurt either one.


* For metrics, not all views are created equal. So your FB views should be separate from Youtube views or Vrideo views, because 3 seconds on autofeed counts as a view. Look at the metrics on Facebook Insights on your page to see how deep people saw your videos and how many dropped at 10 seconds or less.


* The first three seconds are crucial because that's going to be the preview of your video. Make it count.


* If your goal is to increase unique visitors, time on site or pageviews to your website, you're going to have a fun conversation with your bosses. I mean this in a good way. We're all new at this, and this is all still in the experimental, volatile stage. But remember that increasing views, reach and likes on FB will increase your potential audience for everything else.

Your feedback is welcome!


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

360 sampler

A small experiment with Metta, still in beta mode.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

If you could mail a piece of advice to everyone, what would it be?


Today's entry is a simple piece of advice from me: Listen to others.

And thus, it's my turn to listen to you! So if you had a newsletter and wanted to share a piece of advice, what would that be?

I know at least one of your replies is not getting to my inbox, so I'm making the call a public document. 

I would very much like to include your answers.




One cat, because cats:




Yesterday's Internet, Today! because Yesterday's Internet, Today!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DFM chat: The pros and cons of Facebook Live

Journalists, Digital First Media peeps, anyone who wants to are going to participate in a Twitter chat Wednesday at noon, Eastern Time, to talk about all things journalism.

Today we are talking about Facebook Live videos. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using that platform for live video? Does it fulfill your mission? How can you use it to your advantage? What kinds of videos should news organizations do live? Bring your ideas, links and #realtalk.

If you want to be in the post chat archive, post a comment in the container or a tweet with the hashtag "#dfmchat" so it can automatically appear below.

Read more »

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Facebook's influence in the era of content


As a purported professional observer and chronicler and arranger of ~things that happen~ (and sometimes effusive emoter of excessive euphemisms), I enjoy taking note when ephemeral news gets entangled in ethereal virality.
And Monday was one such day, in which, like many other days before it, news happened.
But as big as those big things that happened were, I kept thinking about those other things, the ones that matter long past traffic inconveniences and web traffic spikes, like the schools elections that we care so little about even though we know better.
Or should know better.
Or, do we even know?
And, if you don't know, then how is it that we professional chroniclers of things that happen failed at informing those who needed to know?
For many a year, information mongers have arrogantly clung to the idea that it is the mythical citizen's duty to stay informed (it is, but whatevs). All of this is happening in an environment where the real citizens struggle with the day-to-day while enduring an incessant bombardment of all kinds of information.

So it is no wonder that nobody can hear the tree falling.
The forest is full of explosions.
Read more »

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Monday, May 9, 2016

About that 'Spanish looking' suspect

Thursday, May 5, 2016

We have to taco about this


I was in the hospital today because of some chest pains and I spent all day there to find out that I am a healthy human person, actually, and that is most excellent. That's me there in the ER, trying to get some work done in between medical tests. It's a bit tricky to type with a gigantic thing on your finger while on morphine. They even did an extensive sonogram, but they could not find problems or a demonic beast or a chest-bursting alien. Such is life.


 ***
Read more »

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

DFM chat on digital strategies for small newsrooms

Journalists, Digital First Media peeps, anyone who wants to are going to participate in a Twitter chat Wednesday at noon, Eastern Time, to talk about all things journalism.

Today we are talking about digital strategies for smaller-sized newsrooms. As more and more channels of distribution open and social platforms multiply, how can a spartan newsroom adapt to them? What should be prioritized? We all know what's ideal when it comes to publishing high production values, time-consuming engaging Facebook-only videos. But is it realistic? What IS realistic?
Not realistic

If you want to be in the post chat archive, post a comment in the container or a tweet with the hashtag "#dfmchat" so it can automatically appear below.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What do news consumers really want?

A metaphor, or, sometimes a cat in a sea of hotdogs in space
is just a cat in a sea of hotdogs in space.
Journalists, Digital First Media peeps, anyone who wants to are going to participate in a Twitter chat Wednesday at noon, Eastern Time, to talk about all things journalism.


Today we are talking about news consumers! What do users (really) want from the news organizations in their communities?
Let's take this beyond the known platitudes and get down to the real answers, using what we know users actually consume, balanced with what journalists want to produce and what market forces want. Is there a middle ground? And how can news organizations achieve these  goals and fulfill this mission with limited resources? Can it really be done?

If you want to be in the post chat archive, post a comment in the container or a tweet with the hashtag "#dfmchat" so it can automatically appear below.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Journalism's mad world




*Obligatory starting song*

It was a pretty hectic day yesterday manning the Freeman fort, thanks to the one Donald named Trump, not to mention The Chelsea Of The Clintons, plus your random police blotter acts of mayhem insanity, and only today I've been able to get some of the 360-degree stuff up.

I'm playing with those formats and presentation, still, trying to figure out the best way to deliver virtual reality and 360-degree content, considering that most of us don't yet have virtual reality devices, or good ones, anyway, secretly wondering if I'm trying to solve a problem nobody asked for.

But the wheels of disruption care not for professional existential anxieties, and just today, YouTube announced that it will support 360-degree video live-streaming, and that opens the possibilities tenfold, including hyperbolic "Matrix" references, even though nobody has figured out how to make this work in a sustainable business model, which is fine for us journalists, I guess, until we're all unemployed and wondering why everything crumbled around our overlong run-on sentences.

And we do all this while ducking charges of "This isn't journalism" and "how come you aren't covering x or y or this news or that?" while at the same time, another study of the obvious points out that "People hate hard news, but love pretending otherwise."

And so we must resurface another truth, that the light content partially subsidizes the harder things, by relieving it from market pressures to perform or fill random goals, and just let the journalism stand on its own.

And so it was Pulitzer Day today and the journalism was fierce, as was Congrats Media Twitter. So congrats to you if you don't know what Congrats Media Twitter is.

There's, of course, a proper essay hidden in all these thoughts, with accompanying gifs and assorted multimedia, neatly packaged in a monetized Facebook Instant article.
But not today.
Today we fight the Content Management System —I do have a day job — until the beast dies of stubborn obsolescence or it brings us down into the pits of darkness like a fire demon with nothing to lose.



It's a mad journalism world out there.
And I'm glad I get to try to shape it, if only a tiny bit.

P.S. I'm breaking form from the regular newsletter convention you all love (that's what I tell myself, anyway), but there's definitely a cat in one of those links. I guess you're going to have to click.

Yesterday's Internet, Today! also plays with forms of distribution and hopes you don't mind.

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6 moments from the Donald Trump rally at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, in 360


What's like to be inside a Trump rally?


Let's take a more immersive look at Sunday's Donald Trump rally at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie. This is, of, course, on top of the gargantuan efforts our staff did on Sunday.

1. That time when members of the press were ridiculously limited and/or properly designated to a confined space and told not to leave, because they might bite and have cuties.



2. That time whUSA! USA!




3. That time there were cameras. Cameras everywhere.



4.  That time Trump touted his ownership of property in the area.



5. That time Tania was not in the press pen, because of course c'mon now.



6. That time Dutchess County Sheriff "Butch" Anderson tried to read a poem.


*I read a poem in public once and I'm glad there is no video of it.*

Read more »

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

10 moments from the Bernie Sanders rally at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, in 360 degrees


On top the many dispatches that Freeman staffers Patricia Doxsey and Tania Barricklo posted from the Bernie Sanders rally on Tuesday, I had them test the 360-degree camera. I'm just starting to get the videos up, but here's a listicle, for lack of a better format.

Read more »

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Meet the pets


We're starting a new feature at the Freeman, not necessarily a new idea, but a good one nonetheless.
Starting Sunday, we'll feature a furry resident of the Ulster County SPCA that needs a home.
We'll give you a little story and some details, along with photos and a video.
It was Ariél's suggestion so she gets all the credit.
Atomic Tangerine is kicking off the effort. We're planning some surprises later on.
Let's find some homes for these guys.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

DFM chat on Twitter and journalism

Journalists, Digital First Media peeps, anyone who wants to are going to be taking part on our Twitter chat Wednesday at noon, Eastern Time, to talk about all things journalism.

Today we are going back to basics and upgrading our practices. Let's talk Twitter and journalism. From live-tweeting to polls and gifs, what are the best ways to tweet as a journalist. How do you know those are the best approaches? What is your goal for using Twitter? Let's be honest, you're not getting any meaningful traffic out of it, so what's your goal, then? Bring in your tips, tweets and #realtalk.


If you want to be in the post chat archive, post a comment in the container or a tweet with the hashtag "#dfmchat" so it can automatically appear below.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Another (360) view

The recent release of Google's VR view has made it possible to display VR content in a much easier way and have it compatible in web, mobile and apps.
Having been experimenting and waiting for something like this to happen, I became pretty excited.

For the tech inclined, you basically need an iframe and have your 360 image uploaded somewhere. If you don't have your own hosting site (though you should, etc.), you can just upload your 360 image to a blog or even Google+ (make it useful).

This is the image that I used yesterday, which was hosted in this very blog.


Above, the non-controversial proposed site for a shooting range on Prince St. in Midtown Kingston. Yes, sir, not controversial at all.

I'm still playing with height and everything. But this method simplifies things tremendously.
You no longer need an app to embed your content. It just flows.

This makes so easy that you can technically produce content in the field and share it on social media, and if you're crazy enough to do things on deadline, an editor could simply grab the images and start posting the images in VR in a story really quickly.

This is an image that I uploaded from my phone using the StreetView app, with a Ricoh Theta S camera tethered to an iPhone.


Above, the corner of Wall and John Streets in Uptown Kingston. Those canopies are controversial for some reason. Please explain. 

I'm just starting and I still have to figure out video. But the Kingston Classic is just around the corner.
Let's play!

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Have you hugged a newsperson today?



It's National Hug A Newsperson Day, another one in an never-ending line of totally irrelevant hashtags that are incredibly pointless until one gets to be remotely related to you.
So hug your nearby newsperson. They likely need it.
But be careful, some of them bite.
The more you know.

Read more »

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tree falls on Kingston mayor's house

Source: The mayor himself.

This is not how I want to wake up on a Sunday morning. All are okay, just a little shaken up.

Posted by Steve Noble on Sunday, April 3, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

DFM chat on online comments and annotations

Journalists, Digital First Media peeps, anyone who wants to are going to be taking part on our Twitter chat Wednesday at noon, Eastern Time, to talk about all things journalism.

Today we are revisiting an evolving and lively issue: Online comments! *ducks under table*

What is the most constructive way to promote good online comments and/or annotations? Starting with the assumption that you do want to have a conversation around your site's stories and other content, what is the best way to present them?
Or are they doomed from the start?

never tweet

There are at least four ways to ~comment~ on this topic today! You can use Disqus at the bottom of the post (they're  not moderated, so be nice. I do get an email for each one); you can use #dfmchat on Twitter or use the ScribbleLive container below; or you can annotate any part of this post using Genius. Just select any part of the text here and go wild. There are other creative ways to comment, of course. Why don't you share those ideas with us?

If you want to be in the post chat archive, post a comment in the container or a tweet with the hashtag "#dfmchat" so it can automatically appear below.


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Monday, March 28, 2016

Bob Dylan played pool in Kingston, but where?



"Bob Dylan playing pool, Kingston, N.Y., 1964." reads the caption on a photo of by Daniel Kramer, who followed Dylan for a year starting in Woodstock.

I stumbled upon that factoid on a recent Google alert. I masochistically send myself alerts for all things Kingston N.Y., which mostly leads back to news items from local news sources, and also out of town obits and police items related to Kingston natives or people who live here, and the occasional gem like this.

As I'm wont to do, I took to the power of the crowd to find out where in Kingston this photo was taken. There was nobody to ask about this here on a very quiet Easter newsroom Sunday. It would have been easier to scream across the room, after all, but it was not to be this time. 


Over at the "I'm from Kingston" Facebook group. I was informed that this was on the second third  floor of the Clermont building, on top of what used to be Bop to Tottom, which is the red on the 360 image above. The first floor, will become a larger Duo Bistro. It was Uptown Billiards at 293 Wall Street in Kingston.




That's Mercury Rev's Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak  in that tweet..

Kramer shot the cover of Highway 61, among other things.


Among those other things shot by Kramer, is a photo of Bob Dylan playing chess in Woodstock. 
Time to yell at the cloud again.
Where in Woodstock was this photo taken?


Uptaded 3/29 at 11 a.m. Matt Cahill, in the comments, points out:

The pool hall was not on the second floor of the Clermont building,but the 3rd floor.The 2nd floor was Eng's chinese restaurant,and prior to that it was Shanghai Lou.The pool hall was woned by Nick Caslich and later by Bob East.
Managing Editor Tony Adamis reminded me that former staffer Jesse J. Smith (now with the Kingston Times) wrote about this a while back. I was able to track the story to the microfilm and the disk in the building, and I've reposted it online, because it was removed online at some point during a site migration.

I've also found the David McDonald's "Bob Dylan in Woodstock" segment from the 2006 documentary. "Woodstock Revisited," also embedded below.


Bob Dylan in Woodstock from David McDonald/Filmmaker on Vimeo.

The town supervisor adds:





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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

DFM chat on guidelines for covering news in social media

Breaking news and/or metaphor


Journalists, Digital First Media peeps, anyone who wants to are going to be taking part on our Twitter chat Wednesday at noon, Eastern Time, to talk about all things journalism.

Today we are talking about covering breaking news on social media. What guidelines should reporters, without editors, have when publishing information? How do you deal with real-time verification? What tools do you use to maximize coverage and not have to worry about tech? Bring your ideas, tools and #realtalk!

If you want to chime in, post a comment in the container or a tweet with the hashtag "#dfmchat" so it can automatically appear below.

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