Professor puts digital media on convention menu

assistant professor lancaster

Armed with what he calls the tools of the digital journalists of the future, Kurt Lancaster, NAU’s new assistant professor of digital media, is reporting from the Democratic National Convention for the Christian Science Monitor.

Outfitted with a laptop computer, a video camera and the software to “get it all together,” Lancaster is shooting and editing “Monitor Breakfasts,” a hallmark of press and politics held for more than 40 years, where print reporters get the chance to question invited guests during a breakfast or lunch.

After filming, Lancaster works with a Christian Science Monitor print editor and reporter to edit the video highlights of each inquisitive event focused around the Denver convention into about four-minute segments uploaded to

This week he already has produced videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, Valerie Jarrett, a senior Barack Obama adviser, Jerry Kellman, a community organizer who hired Obama in the 1980s, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and more.

Quick deadlines are the biggest challenge.

“I have to work fast, accurately and efficiently with laser focus in order to get the material done in time. I have to have the video up and loaded by 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, so that’s 3 p.m. in Denver,” he said. “On Tuesday we had a Monitor breakfast and a lunch. I had to have the breakfast file edited and uploaded to the web site before the lunch. It’s been nonstop, starting at 7:30 a.m. and going late into the afternoon.”

Lancaster is using the same techniques and equipment he will soon be using while teaching NAU’s new interactive storytelling class.

“I set up one light, a high-definition Sony camera, hook up a microphone and record the guest answering the questions. I edit using Final Cut Express on a Macbook Pro,” Lancaster said. When time allows, he includes editor introductions and summaries of the featured guests.

Lancaster not only reports for the Christian Science Monitor, he has worked for the newspaper as a consultant to teach print journalists around the world the ins and outs of video journalism for the web.

Lancaster said by hosting the meals and uploading the highlights, the newspaper is providing the public a chance to hear passionate voices in politics that “don’t get typically get heard in mainstream newspapers.”

His menu for the rest of this week includes creating segments of Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Democracy Corps founder Stan Greenberg, political analyst James Carville, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod.

Due to his teaching commitments, Lancaster won’t be covering the upcoming Republican National Convention.