Introducing: Philly News Video

I recently launched my latest experiment in independent social media journalism:

Here’s the idea: Using only the Canon S100 and iPhone 5 that I usually have in my pockets —- plus a very small tripod —- I will shoot, edit and distribute video of the occasional newsworthy incidents and events which I tend to stumble across while living in Philadelphia.

I transfer footage from my camera to my phone using Eye-Fi cards, cut a few clips together and clean up the edges with iMovie, and then post with the WordPress app.

In most cases, this process will produce “b-roll” footage, ideal for brief TV news voiceovers. It has been taking me about 30 minutes from last shot to live post, although I expect to get faster with practice — and with more efficient shooting in particular.

Next: I have set up to post a tweet from @PhillyNewsVideo with the report title, targeting the local TV news stations.

If they choose, news organizations can make payment online, download the 720p HD video and share it with their audiences without further delay.

The goal is to reduce friction and eliminate the time and cost of marketing and invoicing found in traditional freelance video news models. The simple tools help with both cost reduction and mobility.

I’m not sure if I nailed the price points, but compare the cost of sending a crew — in a truck — when stations will need only to read their tweets and click to buy and download.

I spent less than $10 on the domain name, and developed and refined the site over just a few hours, but will also rely on my long background in newspaper and wire service photojournalism before becoming the first video journalist at the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007.

Here’s my first tweet-promoted effort: Philadelphia Chinese New Year 2014 footage

I got a lot of attention back in 2008 when I blogged about selling an iPhone news photo via Twitter, and this is an extension of the same idea.

I haven’t any takers with my first few videos, but sooner or later I will run across something more critical, which I suspect may become the game-changer.

All of my endeavors in digital journalism — such as the Gun Crisis Reporting Project – are driven by social responsibility and intended as a public service, but I have been learning the hard way that none will sustain unless I incorporate a revenue plan from the launch.

Wish me luck!

p.s.: The still photo at the top of this post was take from the same video.

Getting your Instagram photos back into your Twitter timeline


Do you remember how great it used to look when you could post your Instagram photos into your Twitter timeline?

Then, Twitter went and changed the process, leaving followers to see only an Instagram link, perhaps because Instagram was acquired by rival Facebook.

Well, I recently started using “If this, then that” at, a free service that allows users to create simple “recipes” to automate the re-sharing of content across networks and platforms.

Now, when I post to Instagram, Twitter reposts the photo to, and it looks like this on Twitter:


The steps are so simple and intuitive that you really don’t need to read them here, but just to reaffirm:

1) Set up your free account at
2) Click “Create a recipe.”
3) Click on “If this.”
4) Click on the Instagram icon.
5) Click on “Any new photo by you,” (or one of the alternative choices if you prefer.)
6) Click “Create trigger.” Log into your Instagram account if prompted.
7) Click on “Then that.”
8) Click on the Twitter icon.
9) Click in “Post a tweet with image.” Log into your Twitter account if prompted.
10) Leave the default “Action Fields” and click “Create Action.”

Then, just post a photo on Instagram, check your Twitter profile a little bit later and do a victory dance when you see how great it looks.

Some notes:

- Reposting to Twitter is sometimes delayed. It seems to take about 15 minutes on average. So, this isn’t the best process for breaking news coverage.

- Don’t click on the Twitter sharing button inside the Instagram mobile app anymore. That will still post the link and caption to your twitter profile, and then IFTTT will post to Twitter again with the photo. That can look a little messy and maybe confuse or annoy your Twitter followers.

Happy sharing.

Internet countdown #FAIL

I had the chance to watch the world’s largest rocket take off Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying the top secret NROL-65 payload into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office.

When I went to see a Space Shuttle launch in the 1990′s, I had to carry a one of my police scanning radios to listen to the countdown.

iphoneThis time, I was listening — and watching video — via, but was surprised when my wife spotted the rocket the clearing the horizon while I heard there was still had a minute to go before launch.

Apparently, the streaming signal was delayed somewhere between the launch site and my iPhone, but the skies began to rumble a few seconds later, removing any doubt about what we were watching.

Pocket photojournalism

I am preparing a workshop on video storytelling for some of my students — and that brought me to revisit this video I made for a conference I could not attend last year. It’s getting old in the sense that more alternatives are now available but still a pretty good wrap:


I produced this video in lieu of appearing on a panel that I was unable to attend at the National Press Photographers Association’s Northern Short Course in in Warwick, RI, in March 2011, considering tech concerns for educators teaching photojournalism students. Related links are below.

Gorillapod - iPhone Tripod Holder - Photojoj iPhone telephoto lens - Eye-Fi cards - Virgin Mobile MiFi hub - Zoomit -

Stuck on Steve: Mourning Jobs at the Philadelphia Apple Store

Admirers of Steve Jobs have been leaving remembrances on sticky notes on the front of the Apple Store on Walnut Street in the Center City section of Philadelphia, seen in these photo take Saturday. Others have left flowers and at least one early Apple computer. ©2011 Photos by Jim MacMillan

Zoomin’ it

I got my new Zoomit SD card reader for the iPhone in the mail yesterday, and opening the package opened a world of possibilities, making it possible to move full-resolution photos online without a laptop, Wifi, or anything else.

It calls for a little set-up: It needed a charge first, from an included USB charger, and when I plugged the charged device into the bottom of my iPhone4, it prompted me to download the free Zoomit app. (There is also a $2.99 Zoomit music app in the store, but I don’t need it and so I didn’t buy it. I’m all about the photos.)

Next, I plugged into the other end of the device with an SD card that had been in my Canon 990 pocket camera, which contained a few pre-dawn photos, like the one above, which I had taken on my way into New York a few days ago. (No, I was not in the driver’s seat. Distracted driving kills.)

After selecting an image on the iPhone screen, Zoomit sharing options include emailing the photo or posting to your existing Facebook or Flickr accounts, for which you will be prompted to log in.

From Flickr, I emailed this photo to my Posterous blog, which then redistributes to several more platforms, including whichever one you are viewing now.

It’s hard to swallow the $60 price tag at a time when USB SD readers cost so little, but when combined with iPhone apps and social sharing platforms, this baby feels like a game-changer, especially now that more professional-quality cameras are coming SD-ready.

I can’t wait to put it to work in the field.

Sent from my iPhone

Meet the journalism innovation community at Temple University

Feather O. Houstoun, president of the William Penn Foundation, greets new Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and publisher Greg Osberg after his presentation at Temple University Tuesday night. Thomas Jacobson, Dean of the School of Communications and Theater at Temple, looks on. iPhone photo by Jim MacMillan

I spend most of my time now teaching graduate journalism courses at NYU and advising students at War News Radio at Swarthmore, but when the sun goes down, I also become the program coordinator for the Philadelphia Initiative for Journalistic Innovation, a program of the Department of Journalism at Temple University.

Last night Greg Osberg, new publisher and CEO of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and, came to visit us at PhIJI.

Osberg announced plans to collaborate with journalism schools, new content sharing objectives, a Philly media incubator that will house startups free of charge in the newspaper building, and a journalism innovation competition with cash rewards for employees.

The William Penn Foundation has previously announced a collaborative journalism initiative that will aim to develop strategies to advance public interest journalism in the greater Philadelphia area. This project is meant to be the next step in creating networks for journalists and developing resourcing strategies and innovations in creating a networked community around public affairs issues.

Check in for more news from this and future events at

PhIJI is free and open to the public.

In the nick of time

I have only been back in town for a about a week, but long enough to slip under the wire for some sweet new Philly honors.

Thanks to Philly Mag‘s Philly Post – and the Technically Philly team - I found myself in the pack between a Miss Pennsylvania and an Eagles tight end today, all named among Philadelphia’s 10 Most Influential Twitter users.

Next, now that I am beginning to settle back into Center City life, I think it might be time to return to a little more blogging as well, perhaps even when I’m not blowing my own horn. Meanwhile, I have a few more plans in the works, and I am still in pursuit of some others, but hope to have some announcements soon.

Thanks again and congratulations to my fellow honorees.