By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
I have been a fan of Mark Luckie’s work since I met him at the NABJ conference in Indianapolis in 2006. Mark is a multimedia journalist extraordinaire, author of the upcoming book The Digital Journalist’s Handbook. He has produced unique online content for Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, the Contra Costa Times (Calif.) and is a former crime and justice reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. He is also the author of 10,000 Words, a multimedia blog dedicated to trends in technical journalism – and the blog at the top of my Google Reader and this blog’s blog roll.
Mark graduated from the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with a M.J. in Journalism. He is also a graduate of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he received his bachelor’s degrees in broadcast production and Spanish. He is currently a multimedia producer with just-launched, non-profit California Watch, which pursues in-depth, high-impact reporting on issues such as education, public safety, health care and the environment in the state.
NABJDigital: How did you become involved with California Watch?
Mark Luckie: I was contacted by the editorial team last summer and invited to apply. I was living in New York at the time, hanging out and doing the unemployment thing. It was fun to be in New York even though I was unemployed. I wasn’t ready to immediately give it up. But later, I applied for a job, along with 600 others and California Watch hired me and another person.
ND: What are your duties at California Watch?
ML: I have a range of duties, most Web-based. I create multimedia components for news pieces on the Web site, including Flash and mashes. I get to decide what multimedia is good for a story. I’m also in charge of the Twitter account for California Watch. I also oversee Facts & Figures, a database of numbers for recent news stories. For examples of Mark’s work at California Watch, click here, here and here for efforts to support a story on crowding in K-12 schools in the state.
ND: Why do you think something like California Watch is needed?
ML: The problem is that traditional news organizations don’t have resources anymore to do investigative stories. We fill the gap of local news that aren’t being covered by traditional news, but we see that people still want.
ND: What are some of the projects you’ve worked on so far?
ML: One of my favorites is a story we did on class size reductions. There’s a program in California to reduce the students per teacher ratio. Millions and millions have been spent, with no measurable success. Nothing shows that it works, but money is still being channeled into it. We produced a technical story and shipped it off to media partners including the San Francisco Chronicle. We also produced multimedia components, which can also be shipped to partners. I did Flash graphics, did a mash and did charts and graphs to the show story in a visual way.
ND: Do you think California Watch and organizations like it are the future of journalism?
ML: It’s hard to say. But based on the response we’ve had to California Watch so far, we will probably have a long shelf life. People crave this information we’re reporting. But whether we survive in the long term, it’s up to our readers, and it’s up to having our funding continued.
Look for part 2 of our interview with Mark Luckie before the end of the week, where we chat about the 10000 Words blog.