Archive — MJ Bear Fellows


A Peek into AP’s Interactive Machinery

This is one of a series of blog posts from the second ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Hagit Bachrach is a video producer at the Council on Foreign Relations.


As part of my MJ Bear Fellowship, I had the great fortune of being mentored by Paul Cheung, Global Interactives Editor at the Associated Press. A few months back, Paul invited me to shadow him for the day and check out the great work he and his team are doing up close.

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How to create hype around a project that’s yet to launch

This is one of a series of blog posts from the second ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Tricia Fulks is the story director and researcher for Hollow: An Interactive Documentary.


A behind-the-scenes look at a Hollow's development meeting.

I’ve written about Hollowa few times here, and if you haven’t been able to tell, I’m pretty excited about the team and what we’re doing. Even more exciting is the fact that although our project won’t be out in the world until spring, people already are talking about it.

One of the smart things we’ve done from the get-go is continue to update our audience on what’s happening behind the scenes. We chart our progress through Kickstarter updates, Hollow’s blog and, of course, social media. We’ve also spoken at various events and networked with those in our industry. This is critical, not only to be transparent with the community we’re working with, but to create hype around what we’re doing.

And guess what? That hype — it’s working.

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Free multimedia tools offer high-end results

This is one of a series of blog posts from the second ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Hagit Bachrach is a video producer at the Council on Foreign Relations.


If you work for a low-budget operation, or you’re just getting started building a portfolio, there are a lot of open-source or free tools out there that can help you bring your content to life. These are a few of my favorites:

Video: YouTube

YouTube has a lot of benefits — being free is just one of them. The platform is not just a player, it’s now also a video editor. While a far cry from Final Cut Pro or Premiere as far as its capabilities, it gives you the keys to some of the basics, like trimming your videos, compiling a video from multiple clips, stabilizing your shots or applying some filters. It also gives you features not found in traditional editing software, like uploading captions, creating playlists and inserting clickable annotations.

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Know when to choose or lose a tool in telling your story

This is one of a series of blog posts from the second ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Tricia Fulks is the story director and researcher for Hollow: An Interactive Documentary.

On the left: Tricia Fulks, story director, storyboards in Welch, W.Va., during the summer production months of Hollow. On the right: Interactive Art Director Jeff Soyk outlines the interactive experience’s site map during post-production in Boston. (Photos: Hollow: An Interactive Documentary)

Adopt. Adjust. Adapt.

When it comes to emerging technologies and platforms for storytelling in our industry, we’ve all heard it. And — as long as we want to stay current — we’ve had to familiarize ourselves with new tools accordingly.

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Opening up the gates to global reporting

This is one of a series of blog posts from the second ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Hagit Bachrach is a video producer at the Council on Foreign Relations.


One of the biggest challenges I face in covering international affairs and foreign policy is the lack of direct access to the people and the regions I report on.

This is hardly uncommon, as many news organizations have been cutting back on foreign bureaus and international coverage for years. One organization working to fill the gap is the International Reporting Project, which has provided hundreds of journalists with access to more than 100 countries through its fellowships and reporting trips.

Two sisters, 20 days and 18 months, sleep in a hallway in a slum resettlement project in Mumbai.

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Tackling complex issues, unleashed from the clock

This is one of a series of blog posts from the second ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Hagit Bachrach is a video producer at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Before joining the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), I worked on hard-core news desks for many years, and there are a lot of things I miss. I miss breaking news, I miss convincing sources to go on record, I miss asking unexpected hard-hitting questions, and perhaps most of all, I miss the pace.

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Finding the funds, spreading the word

This is one of a series of blog posts from the second ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Tricia Fulks is the story director and researcher for Hollow: An Interactive Documentary.

Ron Serino, volunteer fire fighter and Hollow community storyteller, looks over the "stairsteps" near Ashland, W. Va., home to a former strip mine that has become a popular place for ATV riders on weekends. ATV fatalities continue to increase as the Northfork Volunteer Fire Department struggles to gain access and promptly evacuate the injured without a UTV. In the past, Ron and his fellow firefighters have carried injured riders out for miles to save their lives. (Photo: Hollow: An Interactive Documentary)

When Hollow‘s Project Director and creative force, Elaine McMillion, asked me to participate in the interactive documentary in December 2011, I was immediately on board. Elaine and I had gone to school together at West Virginia University’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism, and although we had both worked in journalism, I was the more experienced journalist, while she had more experience in self-starting projects.

So imagine the shift in mindset for me, a former newspaper reporter and editor, when I had to become one of the project’s fundraisers and PR people.

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1 Project, 3 Time Zones: How to Do It

This is the first in our series of posts from our 2012 MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are beginning to make their voices heard and expand the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Denise Hassanzade Ajiri is a web writer for Radio Farda.


When I attended ONA’s annual conference in San Francisco last September, I struggled to fit in among the crowd of ambitious journalists. Everything was new for me — the way journalists interacted, the way they came up with interesting ideas, the way they were leading projects. To be honest, I felt out of place describing myself only with a simple title: “I am a web writer at Radio Free Europe.” Full stop. It was one of those moments when I wondered what I was contributing to the world of journalism.

During those three days, though, I had a revelation. After meeting media entrepreneurs and listening to their stories about how they started projects, I suddenly came up with my own concept: Iran Election Watch.

It seemed like perfect timing. The Iranian presidential election will be held in June. Why not start a website in English to cover it?

The Iran Election Watch website is still a newborn, having officially launched Jan. 22. Evaluating it shall be left to others, but I can share what I’ve learned up until now from leading a project with several collaborators who not only already work or study full time, but who are living in different parts of the world.

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Personalized storytelling: You can’t do anything wrong

Junot Diaz and Min Jin Lee at the Pageturner Literary Festival

Last fall, I found myself in a blizzard-like storm in New York, fighting my way through a thick wall of snow. I had just left my position at the Wall Street Journal in Asia to be with my husband and to pursue full-time reporting. This weather was a reminder of the fact that I was no longer in the comforting tropical climate of Hong Kong and no longer in a comfortable job at a multinational news organization.

I was on my way to the Pageturner Literary Festival to see Junot Diaz speak. He is an author who bedazzled me with his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” Coming back to the U.S. had been a bit of an adjustment, and so I was hoping for some advice and counsel — perhaps a shove in the right direction, an uplifting tale of struggle and eventual success from Mr. Diaz.

And he delivered.

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Five lessons from deep beat reporting

Since last September, I’ve been working on a little side project called “Beyond the Blotter: The Homicide Watch Handbook.”

It’s a simple WordPress site, and I’ve been spending spare moments populating it with my notes, sources, resources, methodology, tips, tricks and advice for online crime beat reporting.

Although it’s primarily a how-to guide book for reporters on the Homicide Watch platform, it’s also been an opportunity for me to reflect on how and why our website works. And, because I’m frequently asked if the concept could work for other beats, it’s given me some time to think about what specifically works universally.

Undoubtably the deep beat reporting model could work on many other beats — education, public policy, public health, economy, to name just a few. If I were to begin brainstorming what those beats would look like, I’d start with why Homicide Watch works.

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