“it’s about our world today, and what we are willing to sacrifice to maintain a lifestyle”

Mélanie Gouby didn’t expect to star in a documentary when she began reporting on the Congo, but the independent journalist from France found herself as a tour guide in the award-winning documentary Virunga.

The film is about Virunga National Park, the oldest and most biodiverse park on the African continent. The story revolves around four main characters,  including an ex-child soldier turned park ranger, a caretaker for orphan gorillas, a Belgian conservationist and journalist Mélanie Gouby.  As the film’s tagline says, “Virunga is the incredible true story of a group of brave people risking their lives to build a better in a part of Africa the world’s forgotten and a gripping exposé of the realities of life in the Congo.” (more…)

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Learning to photograph New York City

The 2015 class at Columbia Journalism School just survived what was, for most of them, their first training in photojournalism & DSLRs. Though it was difficult, they produced work that's thoughtful and engaging. We talked to some of the students whose work we’re featuring here, and asked them about their first experiences photographing New York without smartphones.

Illustrated Journalism

Comics journalism is exactly what it sounds like: a hybrid of comic book-style illustrations and reporting. We interviewed some of the pioneers of the graphic journalism field about their projects and publications, and the way they're contributing to journalism.

Anatomy of a Viral Video

Prior to entering journalism school, I interned for the digital department at an entertainment company in NYC. One main objective at this company was to create videos that had the potential to get lots of views, i.e. videos that would go “viral.” As long as the videos were entertaining and attracted lots of eyeballs, they were considered successful.

I began to understand what made these types of videos popular, but I wondered if the producers of videos that dealt with more serious topics followed the same guidelines. Was there someone in every newsroom video department saying things like, “Make that petty theft more entertaining, so it gets more views”?

There are some companies out there who are successful at getting more important stories to go viral – Mashable, BuzzFeed and YouTube are some of the better-known examples. In journalism school, we didn’t learn “the rules” of  producing viral news content. Do rules even exist?

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Kōan: Creating Community

Photojournalism can be a very lonely profession, especially as a freelancer working in remote areas. That’s why photographers Alex Potter, Allison Joyce, Amanda Mustard, Cooper Neill and Nicolas Tanner decided to form their own collective.

Four Steps to a Video Story

Last month, the Digital Media Associates- members of one of our fellowship programs at the Columbia Journalism school- produced the video above as a team. We wanted to share our process, because while it’s a short, straightforward story, the steps we took to produce the piece are the same steps we’d take to make a full-length documentary. We’ll walk you through the reporting, shooting, storyboarding and editing of a video that might be similar to the videos you’ll produce.

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“If you actually listen to people, they will talk to you.”

GIDEON’S ARMY, an award winning documentary that premiered at Sundance Film Festival and on HBO in 2013, follows the stories of three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South.

The main characters work to challenge the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point.  They struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads; even the most committed often give up in their first year.

The director of Gideon’s Army, Dawn Porter, recently spoke at the Columbia Journalism School during Film Fridays. These are some highlights from the conversation, led by professor Betsy West.

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If you’ve just started working in visual media, you may notice you’re starting to accumulate a lot of digital files. Yes, digital files take up less space in your apartment than literal files, but figuring out what to do with all of that stuff can be daunting. First time choosing a hard drive? No problem. We’ve got a crash course for you.

XXI and 6 mois magazines: visual journalism… with a French twist

At a time when newsrooms around the world have embraced digital transition, two French publications are defying the odds by producing long-form visual journalism...in print. "XXI" focuses on reportage, and showcases photos, comics, text and illustrations, centered around a strong narration. "6 Mois" is dedicated to photojournalism, with contributions from all around the world.

Covering Protest in Ferguson: “I didn’t expect it to feel like war.”

Salima Koroma didn’t think her first first out-of-state assignment would be the historic protests over the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. She’s been producing video for Time’s online video team for just about two months, and last week they bought her a one-way ticket to Ferguson, Missouri.

Before starting at Time, she graduated from the documentary program at the Columbia University Journalism School, where she produced her own documentary, Bad Rap, and was a producer for NowThisNews. Columbia Visuals talked to Koroma about her experience producing video from Ferguson.

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Covering Protest in Ferguson: “These are people, not sound bites.”


Brent McDonald is a senior video journalist with the New York Times. He produced “Standoff in Ferguson,” a three-minute video for the Times that was published on August 14th, in the midst of protests over the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

McDonald has been producing video for over ten years, and has been with the Times since 2005. Columbia Visuals spoke with him by phone from Ferguson, Missouri, on August 15th. He told us about the mood there and gave us some details on his production methods. (more…)

Covering Protest in Ferguson: “they’re not fooling around down here”

David Carson has been a newspaper photographer for more than 25 years, and he's been covering the protests over the killing of Michael Brown since the day the eighteen-year-old was shot by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. He says he arrived at the scene on August 10th, "while the police were still hosing the blood from the street." We asked him some questions about photographing the historical protests happening in his community, and his advice for young photographers covering protests for the first time.

Want to learn how to build your own website? Design your own app? Or are you simply looking for a way to diversify your resume? In today’s media job market, having some experience in coding can help you stand out in the crowd. You may think the cost of a coding class is out of your reach, but it's not! There are a lot of free options.

"Audio is the spine of multimedia," according to video experts MediaStorm, and you should believe them. Sometimes in the hectic race to get a video project shot, we forget that sound is critical to producing a watchable film. We've put together some basic microphone and editing tips to take your audio from an afterthought, to a priority.

“They wanted others to know about their experiences.”

Documentary film program alumni Jeng-Tyng Hong and Matthew Claiborne, both class of 2013, spent their time at Columbia Journalism School working on a short documentary about the use of solitary confinement in New York prisons. They screened their film at the Catskill Mountains Film Festival and their characters use the film to raise awareness about fair treatment in prison. 

We interviewed Jeng-Tyng about their film, The Ex-Periment, and what they learned during production.

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“The most important thing to have is a good eye.”

We spoke to the talented photo editor Myles Little of Time magazine about his day-to-day job, choosing photographers and images for TIME magazine covers and his advice for aspiring photographers and editors.