If you were busy last week, you may have forgotten about today’s Super Bowl. Will you be rooting for ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid? The Kansas City Chiefs coach is on a mission to capture his first championship. Later in the newsletter, we talk with videographer Raishad Hardnett to learn how he captures and produces videos for The Inquirer.

The week ahead

  • Will Andy Reid finally get his Super Bowl? It’s safe to say, that many in the NFL are rooting for him, and that includes a lot of people in Philly.
  • It’s official, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow. While that could signal in early spring, human forecasters say that this year’s winter never really came in the first place.
  • Look for a story tomorrow on how the medication, Suboxone, is being sold on the streets and helping those battling addiction. Many use it as a means to protect themselves from overdoses or to get through the pain of withdrawal.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with

Erik Honesty curates and styles clothes from as early as the 1920s at his vintage menswear store in Germantown.
Erik Honesty curates and styles clothes from as early as the 1920s at his vintage menswear store in Germantown.

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with Raishad Hardnett, an Inquirer videographer.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Being a video producer for The Inquirer means wearing multiple hats. No day is necessarily like the other. On some days, I’m out in the field all day, interviewing sources on camera or capturing b-roll for video stories. On others, I’m in the office rotating between attending meetings, managing our YouTube page, doing story research, or editing videos. Because filming for a short documentary video requires multiple trips away from the office, my editors allow me to maintain a pretty flexible schedule depending on the needs of the day.

What elements do you look for when you’re out creating a video?

One of the main questions I’m always asking myself is, “How can we visually tell this story in a way it hasn’t been told before?” Because we generally have more time to spend working on (narrative or short documentary) videos than our TV competitors, we are uniquely positioned to tell videos differently than a broadcast outlet would. This means taking advantage of the opportunity to get to know our sources more thoroughly; taking the time to look for small, visual details that add to their narrative; and always searching for an emotional tie-in that reminds us why we should care. At the deepest level, what is the heart of why we’re here? And how can we visually represent that? There are so many other components I look for, but one of the most important is good sound. Viewers will excuse poor or grainy video if the content is compelling, but will almost always turn off a video with bad sound. Sometimes I’ll close my eyes and just listen to the sounds of the environment — and then place my microphone right next to the action to capture crisp, full-bodied audio.

What was a challenging story you covered and what did you learn from this process?

Our 18-minute short film, “Legendary,” which published in December, was by far the most challenging and ambitious story I have covered. The film documents the legacy and history of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ ballroom scene (a community of queer black and Latinx “houses,” or chosen families, who compete in drag balls). For most of its 30-year history in Philadelphia, ballroom was an underground safe-space for black and brown queer people, so of course, there are still many folks in the city who never even heard of its existence. The challenge was how to tell a story that catered to two audiences at once: those who were completely unfamiliar with ballroom, and those in the ballroom community who entrusted us with documenting its history in all its complexity.

For the film, we ended up breaking the piece up into two chapters. The first chapter explained the basic function and categories of a ball, while the second chapter delved deeper into the collective effort to retain its history and provide space for future generations of queer and trans people of color to gather. As a journalist of color myself, I was reminded of the importance of striking a balance between educating pre-existing audiences, while also being accountable to the marginalized communities we serve. Negotiating the two can be a challenge, but a thoughtful balance usually leads to a fuller and richer story.

Fill in the blank: A good way to improve your video skills is _________________.

Get out there and do it! Use whatever camera you have, even if it’s a phone. Watch YouTube videos for examples of how to get creative with various shots, angles, and focal lengths. Also, again, pay attention to audio. Sound is king.

You can stay in touch by following Raishad at @raishadmomar or by email at rhardnett@inquirer.com.

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Comment of the week

This could prove to be a landmark case, since so many of us “click” on agree to Terms of Condition for many apps and online products without taking the time to read them entirely. Terms of Conditions are usually long and written in legal jargon. In one respect this is because it is written by lawyers to cover the company. However, in the fast moving world of apps and internet agreements there is an expectation that most people will just click and go. This case could set new rules for simplifying the Terms of Condition. -- Ashleym, on She fractured her spine after the car ran a red light. Uber said she signed away her rights to a jury trial.

Your Daily Dose of | The UpSide

Focused Athletics, a nonprofit that offers free SAT preparation, tutoring, and workout sessions at area fitness centers, brought its founder, Jackson Duncan, down another road he never envisioned: adoption and fatherhood.