Sunday, December 27, 2009

CitrusTV's first full HD show

Watch the first full HD show in the history of CitrusTV... The last 2009 taping of "Juice & Java," Syracuse University's morning talk show, was shot in 1080 HD before the semester ended.

The episode features interviews with the editor of campus magazine 20 Watts, president of the SU Anime Club, and two members of Orange Appeal - the male campus a cappella group that performs "In the Still of the Night" in the last block.

The show was produced by Hannah Kollock and Chris Shepherd, and directed by me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Interviewing" Ted Koppel

It's been an incredibly busy semester for me so far. With a really compact class schedule, I've had a lot of time to do a bunch of cool stuff for CitrusTV and the Orange Television Network. I covered an event on the Syracuse University campus featuring Vice President and Syracuse Law alum Joe Biden a few weeks ago.

Just this past week, I directed a shoot of a student dance showcase, coordinated the semester's first "SUper Sports" play-by-play broadcast of a women's volleyball game and shot today's homecoming football game against USF. And there was one other highlight this week, check out the video below in all its HD glory to see it for yourself.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer's end

It was a busy and productive summer for me. Here are a few of the projects I've worked on this summer.

NYC - MTV Networks internship

In May, I was living in Brooklyn Heights. Through a special program at Syracuse University, I had spent my spring semester teaching at the High School for Leadership and Public Service - a public high school in Manhattan's Financial District that was established by SU's Maxwell public affairs school.

During my last few weeks in Brooklyn, I started a 10-week internship at MTV Networks with Spike TV's digital team in New York City. The internship gave me a look at a side of the TV business I previously didn't have any professional experience with: distribution.

My time at Spike helped expand my Photoshop skills, as I was responsible for preparing photos and screen grabs for the designer on our team. I learned how to use Spike's custom content management system, and had an opportunity to fine-tune my Microsoft Excel skills, developing and maintaining a spreadsheet of legal details for posting Spike's many shows on the Internet.

Aside from the work itself, I was fortunate to be with a team full of cool, friendly and interesting people. Outside of cutting out several hundreds (I lost count) of photos of Jesse James for his new series on Spike, some of my tasks included:
  • Watching episodes of "Deadliest Warrior" and writing down timecodes of good clips
  • An unsuccessful pizza pillage from a screening of TV Land's "Cougar"
  • Meeting MTVN digital executives who are some of the most powerful frontiers in the marriage of TV and Web
  • A top secret mission one day to pick up cupcakes at Magnolia Cupcakes

Extra, extra, read all about it

Back home in Milford, PA I continued my third year as a regular correspondent for The Gazette, a weekly Dow Jones community newspaper distributed by the Times Herald-Record.

Among the events I reported on and photographed, I met Grammy-nominated singer and pianist Vanessa Carlton, a native of my hometown who played at the Milford Music Festival. I also had the privilege of shooting photos on the field at the graduation of my brother and several good friends from Delaware Valley High School.

In mid-June, a new weekly newspaper launched in the tri-state NJ/NY/PA area called the Pike County Press. After hearing about the newspaper from my high school journalism teacher, I contacted the manager who took me on as a freelance photographer, reporter and videographer. As a result, the Press became the first news site in Pike County to have video content. Since June, I've taken thousands of photos, written several pieces and produced a handful of videos for the Pike County Press.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

On the Web

I began work on a Web site for the new Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar, co-owned by my best friend's dad. The site launched in July. Designed in Dreamweaver, the site has a Wordpress back-end for the owners of the wine bar to easily update content themselves.

Myer and Myer, CPA in Milford contacted me to do two Web sites, one for their CPA office and one for Myer Property Management. The property manager recalled my name from back when I used to maintain the school Web site DV World when I was in high school. Their sites are still under construction.

And Myer's the lucky name for me. I've been working with Myer the Florist (no connection to the CPA...) on a Web site for the past year and a half. This summer we got the e-commerce portion of the site up and running, and the first online order came in just this last week.

In the community

Once the local schools went out for summer, I volunteered at the Pike County Public Library's summer reading kickoff, which included a concert with world-renowned children's singer/songwriter Steven Courtney and his Band of Friends. The concert and a few others I volunteered at this summer were sponsored by the Friends of the Children's Room, a teen-led group I presided over in high school that raises money and awareness for children's programs and resources at the library.

I was the M.C. and auctioneer for a fundraising children's art auction held by the Friends of the Children's Room, and helped the library with its PR efforts for a proposed dedicated library tax to ensure adequate library funding.

Two PBS affiliates contacted me this summer looking to obtain copies of Controversy on the Delaware, a short documentary I directed and co-produced in high school. Ken Burns has a documentary on national parks premiering on PBS in the next month, and my documentary uncovered the shocking and widely unknown history of the Delaware Water Gap, a national recreation area at the northern part of the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

WVIA in Scranton, PA has added a copy of Controversy on the Delaware to its library, and Thirteen in New York City is currently reviewing the film.

I also attended a handful of school board meetings this summer. I still publish a blog about the school district, and though I've slacked off a bit on keeping it as updated as I used to, it still serves the community as an outlet for exclusive information and multimedia about school board affairs.

Back in 'cuse

This week I moved back to Syracuse for my junior year. As a peer adviser at the Newhouse School, I've been helping out with the freshmen class that's coming in. And there are a bunch of exciting things around the corner with CitrusTV, most notably our foray into HD with the capability to broadcast 720p on the campus' Orange Television Network cable channel. At some point in the next week I'll post an update about what's going on this semester.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Letter to the editor: Library tax a bargain, not a burden

To the editor:

It’s a difficult and frightening economic time for everyone who reads these words. In these financial hardships, there is one recovery plan that can help us. We don’t need another stimulus package; what we need is to stimulate our minds. One answer to our economic woes is the Pike County Public Library.

With free books, free DVDs, free CDs, free audiobooks, free children’s programs, free teen programs, free adult programs, free Internet access, free research assistance, free specialized databases, free newspapers... well you get the idea, there’s a lot of free stuff and free things to do at the library. And free isn’t a word you hear often today.

With all of the resources and services Pike County Public Library provides our community, there’s a small way we can give back and we can make sure we continue to have unlimited access to PCPL’s resources.

The solution, despite being only three letters long, is a frightening word for anyone – a college student in tens of thousands of dollars of debt (like me), a struggling working parent or a retired senior citizen living on limited income. The way we can keep PCPL running for ourselves and our neighbors is a... a... tax.

I can imagine what you’re thinking. The last thing we need is another tax. How could I have the audacity to say that another tax is the answer to our economic woes?

Well, let’s think it through.

The proposed library tax of 1 mill would cost the average homeowner just $35 a year. For the price of two movie tickets and popcorn, every Pike County resident is entitled to a year’s worth of unlimited access to all that free stuff I mentioned earlier. For the price of four McDonalds value meals, we can come together to improve our community, to develop the minds young and old in Pike County.

If everyone checked out just two or three books a year, we’d be getting more than our money’s worth. When you look at all the resources and programs – both educational and entertainment – that Pike County Public Library provides, a library tax is no burden at all.

It’s a bargain.

Even if you hate the new library design, a “carbuncle” as it may be, this tax is for you. The money will go straight toward the operating budget – putting new books on shelves, teaching children how to read, purchasing technology to collaborate and learn with. Your tax dollars will NOT enter the pockets of any pesky architect. The new library in Milford has almost entirely been funded by private donations and grants. This tax will make sure we have the operating budget to keep our library system and its future branches.

So say goodbye to expensive movie rentals. Say goodbye to purchasing books from Amazon just to be read once and collect dust. Say goodbye to having nothing to do around here. And say hello to the Pike County Public Library. Say hello to what is an extremely cost-effective tax to keep the operation running.

Please, stop by any branch of PCPL to sign the petition to get a referendum about the tax on this November’s ballot, and vote YES in November. Your signature and vote are for your personal unlimited supply of staff, resources and programs at PCPL – and for a brighter future for our community.

Thank you,

Ryan Balton
Volunteer and former president
The Friends of the Children’s Room at Pike County Public Library

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bylines this week: Camp feature, G.A.I.T., Kids' photography contest, Assemblywoman visits Port Jervis

In The Gazette:

In the Pike County Press:

Twitter is ruining the world

This anti-Twitter rant appeared first as a note on my Facebook on July 16. The seven-day Tweet-fest mentioned below has already come and gone. Stay tuned for my reactions to using Twitter.

Twit (n.) - twerp: someone who is regarded as contemptible

When I first learned about Twitter a couple years ago, I really didn’t understand the point of it. Why would I also need Twitter to pour my heart out to the world? Filing Twitter in the “Pointless” folder, I moved on with my life.

Now that Twitter’s popularity has soared to incredible heights (as has its frilly little blue bird), I’m still left scratching my head over it. After research and putting some thought into it though, I’ve decided to stop scratching my head. I’m going to duck for cover, head to an underground bunker, build an ark, anything before Twitter gets me, and the rest of civilization as we know it. (Note: Apply within for vacancy on the ark, ladies.)

But before building my ark, I’m going to spend a week exemplifying the pointlessness of Twitter. For one week, I will tweet (*gag*) nonstop, about everything I do, every breaking news item that comes up, every interesting Web site I visit, every time I pee. And then, at the end, while I’m in rehab, you can decide for yourself if there is still hope left for humanity.

Now, before you go ahead telling me I have no authority or credibility to tell you Twitter is pointless, (even though I’ve been designing Web sites for over 10 years, am the Web media director of the nation’s oldest and largest student-run college TV station, and just finished up 10 weeks at MTV working in the same office as one of the world’s most powerful digital professionals) … consider these points, collected from research and people who agree with me.

Twitter is limiti…

We live in a world where you can stream live video across hemispheres. Twitter, in all of its mighty innovation, doesn’t natively support sharing of multimedia. It only supports sharing of text. And it doesn’t even do that right. You can tweet no more than 140 characters at a time. I’m already 146 characters over that limit in this paragraph alone. Make that 213 over.

Twitter just copies and waters down existing technology

We’ve all already got Facebook statuses. We’ve got blogs. They’re amazing, they’re just like Twitter, but you can type more than 140 characters, and add pictures and videos! We’ve got RSS feeds to aggregate blogs and news. And for even longer, we’ve had megaphones to shout random thoughts to everyone within earshot.

It’s bad for you

Because Twitter’s platform is designed for frequent updates, twittereetweeterers are at an increased risk for damaging the physical health of their hands and fingers by constantly forcing them through repetitive motions, often on tiny cellphone keypads.

Twitter even brought an untimely death to one girl, who died by electrocution while tweeting.

And twitter isn’t just physically harming people. It’s also socially, mentally and emotionally harming people. Studies show rapid Twitter updates may be too fast for the brain’s moral compass to process. What’s more, the twitterverse (*throws up in mouth*) separates people from reality. Too concerned about keeping up an online stream of consciousness, twitterers are separated from the present and miss out on what’s going on in the real world around them.

This just in: Britney Spears and Rick Astley are dead

Those are just a few rumors that Twitter has helped perpetuate. With no means in place to check accuracy, rumors like these fly fast on Twitter.

twittas destroyin da english language

Twitter is doing nothing to help the disgrace of the written word that instant messaging initiated. With a character limit, the focus becomes strictly on content with no regard for standards. Good grammar and spelling are a thing of the past. Punctuation is lost altogether. Being instantly published, even corporations and news organizations using Twitter may not have a mechanism in place to check errors. As a result, our words become lose meaning, and we become dumber.

No one cares

By definition, twitter means noise, chitter, a series of bird chirps. By and large, that’s what is being broadcast on Twitter. Noise. A columnist from CNET, one of the leading technology news Web sites, agrees. And this video does a entertaining job of pointing out how “it seems like twittering is just randomly bragging about your unexceptional life.”

Decide for yourself: Follow me on Twitter all next week

Starting Sunday, July 19 at 12:01 a.m., I’ll start tweeting, and won’t stop again until the following Saturday at 11:59 p.m. Partially because I’m home and need something to do. Partially because I’m a shameless self-promoter. But mostly to make a point: Twitter is ruining the world.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Let there be blog

Welcome to the blog. I hope to use this space as a place to inform you about the projects I'm working on, and as a place to vent my opinions and ideas about the world of media and technology.

I also blog about education policy in the Delaware Valley School District, the public school system I attended kindergarten through graduation. RB for DV has seen some 38,143 visitors since its launch a year and two months ago.

Thanks for stopping by... I'm not sure how often I'll be updating things here, but please leave your feedback, subscribe and check back soon.

Published by