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By MATT RIVA, FUTURE STAFF 

Thanks for taking some time to look around.

I put this portfolio together to show off some content I've produced for publications as well as my web design abilities all in one place. There’s a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes here — HTML5 / canvas / CSS3 animations / etc. — and the page is designed for modern browsers. (That’s not to say there isn’t a fallback if you’re using something else, but the point is to look ahead with technology, not behind.) Either way, please give it a moment to get everything loaded in.

That said, let me share some of my stories with you.

Orlando Sentinel Rancher gallery

One of the coolest assignments I ever got to do was more luck than anything else: a little networking and being in the right place at the right time.

Ranchers

I had just met Orlando Sentinel photographer George Skene when he offered to have me come along on this shoot. We were to drive out early in the morning to one of the nation’s largest ranches, southeast of Orlando.

George trusted me to cover most of the photography while he did video (I also helped with audio). Ultimately, our day of reporting became part of a much bigger package. But following Mormon cowboys around for a half-day was the best part for me.

Tampa Bay Times Amendments web app

During the last election cycle, I was approached by the Tampa Bay Times digital content editor, Anne Glover, to put together a break-down the proposed Constitutional amendments that were to be on the ballot for 2012.

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See the whole interactive project here.

I wrote the vast majority of code and design for the app (graphics were done in-house, but not by me), and about a quarter of the content (the rest was mainly done by and is inline-cited to Times partners Florida Trend and the Collins Center For Public Policy).

The background for this section is part of the print version of the amendments project, as part of a recurring election package called Know Your Candidates.

The Independent Florida Alligator Tropical storm in print

Early in the summer, just after hurricane season began, Tropical Storm Andrea formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made a beeline for Florida. We had a meeting the day before landfall to determine how much space to give the storm, given it was headed toward Gainesville.

I had just started as editor, and one of the priorities I was pushing was news art. We didn't have enough room to run a staff weather feat, a news graphic and a 5-inch story on or near the front of the paper, so we reached a compromise to put the photo on 1A and jump to the rest. It wasn't perfect, but far better than having nothing.

We worked with production to do a simple graphic showing the last satellite photo we could get before printing and the projected track.

Tropical storm online

That night, I stayed up and coded a special page for the story on the website, updating it with the newest National Hurricane Center news and photos.

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See the whole interactive project here.

We had staffers cover the storm as the eye passed just west of Gainesville that day. Obviously, most Floridians don't bat an eye at tropical storms, but it was still important to me to take it as seriously as if it were a major storm.

Portfolio singles

These are some photos I've taken that I believe show significant impact or an important moment. Normally, they'd have accompanying stories or content, but these are photos I want to display simply on their own.

University of Florida Professor Emeritus Stephen Saxon sings a selection from Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute, at the University Auditorium.Lieutenant EMT John Schmidt, left, and Firefighter EMT Greg Hott wait to help as the driver of a flipped 2002 Kia Sportage is extricated.Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon stiff-arms Vernon Hargreaves III during Florida’s 26-20 loss to the Eagles.
James Ort, 21, extends his body during a trick at Wakefest 2013. About 15 students performed in several categories of wakeboarding at Lake Wauburg.Representatives John Mica, left, and Sam Graves listen to a member of the audience at a small business town hall meeting.Mikey Steel, 27, poses for a photo before registering for the most creative contest at Battle of the Beards in Orlando.
Junior Matthew White, left, is bitten by a zombie, freshman Zach Frantz, in an afternoon battle between humans and zombies on Turlington Plaza.Two New York women take a smoke break on their stoop.Firefighters work to put out a fire after an explosion, caused by a gas leak, leveled two residential buildings and killed at least 8 people in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood.
During a nighttime training exercise at the Cross Creek Volunteer Fire Department, firefighter Vickie May, 46, watches as a purpose-set brush fire peters out.A goat herder in southern Spain raises his cane in the air to move his flock along the path.Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin drives into the lane during No. 19 Florida's 67-61 win against No. 13 Kansas.

The Independent Florida Alligator Breaking news...

A woman watches a smoke plume over Southwest 42nd Street on Monday afternoon. The fire consumed all of an 11,100-square-foot furniture warehouse.
Click to see larger image.

Classes had only been back in full swing for the 2011 fall semester for a week when I was driving home from the UF campus and saw a black smoke plume towering over the treeline ahead of me.

Although I am a visual guy at heart, I knew the editors at The Alligator would want an actual story — especially if I had already taken the time to get there and phone in the breaking news. So we ran a photo or two the next day as well as a hard-news story on the fire, which destroyed a warehouse.

Read the original story here.

...and the follow-up

A couple of days later, the metro editor asked me if I thought there was potential for a follow-up to the fire story. And I balked at the idea of writing more. I think, at the time, I offered to do the story if it could be video and tried to pawn the print story off on a staff writer.

But then I sat on the idea for the rest of the afternoon and one idea did occur to me. I had put a short blurb in the story from a brewery worker about why he thought it was an electrical fire (it was) because he seemed to know a good deal about the wiring in the complex. He had also mentioned to me that he was worried about a batch of beer he had brewing when the power went out because of the fire.

So, using a line of thinking somewhat akin to ‘beer + college town = great story,’ I called up the brewery, and the gentleman agreed to let me come out and do a short story. Although the story is a little silly, it’s still some of my favorite writing.

Read the follow-up here.

Tampa Bay Times RNC behind-the-scenes

The editors at the Tampa Bay Times knew, because the Republican National Convention was in our own backyard, they had to set aside some serious resources for covering the whole event. But it was Director of Photography Boyzell Hosey who suggested we take viewers with us by shooting a behind-the-scenes look at how we were covering the Republican National Convention.

I filmed and edited the whole piece with the hope that it would allow people to see — with more transparency than usual — the process by which decisions are made for the content of the paper and the newsgathering process.

This digitally-stitched panorama (background), taken by me from the floor during the cancelled first day, ran along the top print rail on the back page of the RNC special section.

The Independent Florida Alligator Skydiving feature

This is one of the first videos I ever did for a news organization. I pitched and put together the piece, and I’m proud to think it stands the test of time.

In the video, I talk to Melissa Garcia, of the University of Florida skydiving club Falling Gators, about her experience jumping out of a small airplane most weekends.

A side note: the skydiving background to the right is a stock image (courtesy amab7). This is because the skydiving company wouldn’t allow me to shoot my own photo or video for this piece, and I had to contract their videographer out at my own expense. So no photos from in-air.