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Hairlson: Mobile and visual journalism thriving

February 16, 2011

By Leah Randazzo

Despite the rough job economy in the state of print journalism, Gary Hairlson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offered some light and positive reinforcement Sunday.

“This is the most exciting time in journalism for me; for visual journalism especially,” he said.

While print editions of papers are failing around the nation, the state of visual and mobile journalism, including online video reporting and podcasts are thriving. This is the time.

Last year, over 100 million smart phones were sold versus 90 million PCs.

“I tell people if you haven’t yet, you better jump on board,” Hairlson said of the increase and jump in cell phone usage to cover the news.

One of the ways the Post-Dispatch covers the news is by live streaming as much content as they can, Hairlson said.

Providing a plethora of video is the key to being successful.

“We treat video like a buffet.”

Hairlson said it’s most efficient to put everything out there and let the people find what they want.

Hairlson said airplane mode on the iPhone and Android is necessary when shooting video, but make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi.

If you’re worried about a slow connection, Hairlson offers “Slow is better than ‘no’.”

He also said to not promote the live streaming in case you disappoint.

“When you do promote it, your chance dies. That’s just the way it goes usually.”

Hairlson said the beauty in live streaming is raw video, meaning there are no edits.

“Shaky video is one of the things we see a lot of. We need to find a way to steady out our video, whether that be by using a tripod, or just propping up your arm on a table.”

Sound is extremely important, he added. Having a quality external microphone is as important as the video.

Good software for live streaming:

•            LiveStream.com,

Pro: Good use of graphics, flags, banners, LiveStream also has iPhone app (LiveStream viewer, free) Good to use as a wire service. You can share videos and information using embed codes.

Con: Hairlson says has a lot of glitches but STLtoday uses on this on bigger press conferences.

• UStream.com (iPhone app viewer and recorder, 2 different apps, both free)

• Qik.com- Doesn’t provide embed codes, however it does stream to vmix. Just bought out by Skype. (iPhone app, Qik Video Camera Pro $2.99)

But don’t forget about YouTube, STLtoday uses YouTube daily. Here is the link for the STLtoday mobile YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/stltodaymobile

“Just strap on and it will be okay,” Hairlson said, ”but know it’s going to be a wild ride over the next five years.”

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