Rob Curley answers questions about OnBeing

The Wasington Post’s new OnBeing feature has gotten a lot of people talking. I thought it was interesting, but I also thought it would be good to prod Rob Curley into talking a little bit about what it takes to pull off a project like this. Much has been made about the high quality of the project, but when I saw it was not how slick it was, but how smart it was — it’s about content, not equipment or technology.

I asked questions, and Rob was gracious enough to answer them.

For me, the money quote:

The bigger question to me is not whether a smaller newspaper could do it, but would a smaller newspaper want to do it? It seems to me that when organizations (regardless of size) really want to do something, it gets done.

What would it take?

An inexpensive point-and-shoot camera from Best Buy, or even a pawn shop. A tripod. A non-distracting place to shoot. iMovie (which is free on Macs.) A simple index page for the project on your web site that has links to the video and maybe some thumbnails and a short description.

And then the real key: an interesting person who is OK with talking about his or her life.

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4 thoughts on “Rob Curley answers questions about OnBeing

  1. In checking OnBeing, I noticed the simplicity of the setting…you watched the person because there were no distractions in the background. I also noticed the clear sound…which was not from the on-camera mike, but from a clipon mike. Quality video and audio and compelling personalities make this work.

  2. The reason why OnBeing works is in the things the viewer is not distracted by. Audio that is clean and clear, steady video, and a wonderful playful edit that is not as easy as it looks. Killer navigation. Without these core quality values, what you would end up with is a four minute talking head video that would make most people hit the back button after 30 sec. Congrats Rob on creating a innovative package that fires on all cylinders.

  3. This is a project with good content: People.

    Too many stories in the news these days lose track of the people amidst the issues jargon and he-said, she-said.

    A couple things I might change if creating my own OnBeing, as you’ve suggested we do:

    – Focus the topic. OnBeing is really broad. Pick an emotion to cover. Or pick something. Some kind of hook other than, come hear people talk about themselves. My preference is to focus on the lessons people say they’ve learned. I suppose NPR does that with, “This I Know.”

    – Allow user-submitted videos. After seeing the story about being a nun, other nuns might want to submit their own videos about their own lives. That way, as people upload more videos, users can get a more complete look at what it’s like to be a nun. Or . . . follow up with the commenters. In response to the nun story, kksamai1 wrote:

    “I used to think about becoming a nun, devoting my life to God. But I also wanted a family of my own… I come to find out that I can have such a life devoted to God yet live amongst society and have a family, etc. I found that life through Islam.”

    Well isn’t that interesting. If OnBeing is going to be a community, then maybe the best place to find the next participant is in the comments. Keep the conversation going.
    Might be interesting to run a follow-up OnBeing that expands on this.

  4. Asking for comments at the end of each video segment is a perfect final touch. I must go leave a few comments …

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