Monthly Archives: January 2010

Multitasking: Journalism has Gone Viral

By Bridgette Outten Springfield News-Sun Reporter @bridgetteo (Twitter)

Multimedia Journalist Bridgette Outten

When I graduated from college, Facebook was just becoming popular. A tweet was a sound a bird made. My online journalism courses were charting the still-murky waters of cyber-journalism, though my professors proclaimed Internet media was the future.

They were right and the future wasn’t far off. Fast forward four years: my colleague finds out via Facebook that a former high school athlete died during surgery; I follow the Tweets of my sources to see who is going to announce a run for office (among other things) and any news media outlet without a Website is unheard of.

The basics of journalism remain the same: tell a good, thorough story. But the way we tell the story and how we gather information has gone viral. It is vital that journalists change with the times and help develop new techniques to make our work appeal to all audiences, whether they are surfing the Web, watching TV, listening to the radio or reading a newspaper.

I’ve always had a love for print journalism, having a fondness for the written word and how it could paint a picture even when it had no picture at all. However, within the last two years, I’ve had to approach my stories not just with the eye of a journalist, but with the senses of a photographer as well. Suddenly I had to consider the sounds of a story, too because my colleagues and I were assigned to shoot, edit and post short videos related to our stories to post on the Web.

Also, more often than not, I’m writing two or three versions of a story because we do Web updates on a story throughout the day as we get more information. The final version goes to print for the next day’s paper, but the instant sharing of information has really shortened deadlines. The idea of a newspaper producing content that would never, could never, see newsprint was mind-boggling at first, but now, it’s just normal.

Panda story: http://bit.ly/aKOuJI

Social media has become essential. Many people, especially younger people, get their news from Twitter (founded in 2006). The trending topics let us know what people are taking about and sometimes those topics make their way in our own newsrooms, something we can localize for our area audiences.  Logging on Facebook (founded in 2004) to find information about someone or grab a mugshot is done regularly and people, everyday people, are now stewards of their own information. More people are promoting themselves, writing stories (blogs) about themselves, posting their own broadcasts, as with popular YouTube (founded in 2005).

Panda video: http://bit.ly/clPxZg

Still, journalists are needed for their expertise in verification, accuracy and organizing of information, especially now that we have such a wealth of information at our fingertips and not all of it is true. The role has shifted, but is no less important. The way to stay relevant in journalism: step out of your comfort zone. If you’re print, go shoot a video. If you’re broadcast, write a hard news story. If you’re a blogger, design a newsletter for print. Find six or seven different ways to tell a story through multimedia and make all of them excellent.

We still use these tools — these ever-evolving, wonderful, slightly intimidating, fascinating tools — to tell a good story.

Friday Fast Five

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

Despite my best efforts to clean out my Fast Five folder at the beginning of the year, I still have way too many things to pass along.  So here’s today’s Fast Five — with a bonus five.   And my streak of including Mark Luckie’s 10000 Words blog in each Fast Five post continues.  Enjoy!

  1. Are you wondering why readers hate your blog? Your favorite and mine — the 10000 Words blog — tells you exactly why.
  2. The Mashable blog offers a great video explaining how to use Bing Maps, along with more Twitter maps.
  3. For my Twitter followers, the TwiTips blog offers advice on when and how to purge your followers.  I recently had to do this with my personal Twitter account, and it worked very well for me.
  4. Speaking of Twitter, sometimes you want to post using more than the current 140 characters.  The Blogging Tips blog offers up four ways to post longer tweets on Twitter.
  5. The Make Use Of blog offers up 5 Online Photo Sharing Sites Which Are Free Alternatives To Flickr.
  6. Interested in improving your Google Reader experience? The Web Worker Daily blog gives you “Tips and Tricks: Making the Most of Google Reader.”  If you’re like me and need better organization of all your feeds, this will help.
  7. I am one of those people who have a Blackberry. The good news is that more and more apps are being developed for us, and the Comms Corner blog has 10 free kick-ass (and useful) BlackBerry Apps for 2010.  I love my Opera Mini Web browser, and I’m shocked that UberTwitter is not on this list.
  8. The Hongkiat Web site offers up 30+ Free Online Multimedia (Photo, Audio, Video) Editors.
  9. The Teaching Online Journalism blog offers its thoughts on video editing software.
  10. Do you need to send large files but are limited by your email system? The Fried Beef Tech blog has 8 Free  Ways to Send Large Files Online.  I’m a big fan of You Send It, myself.

Introducing The iPad

By Bliss Davis, Bowling Green State University Journalism Student

Photo courtesy of Apple

I’ll admit, when I first saw the tweet from @TheAppleBlog when the iPad was unveiled, I was more than unimpressed. First, I wanted to know who came up with the name, and not to congratulate them. Next, as an iPhone 3GS and MacBook Pro owner I wasn’t convinced having an iPad was that big of a deal. My sentiments were confirmed after looking at various news and blog outlets and their traffic commenting on it.

Here are the physical specs for the iPad, per Apple:

Height: 9.56 inches
Width: 7.47 inches
Depth: 0.5 inch
Weight: 1.5 pounds Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds Wi-Fi + 3G model

More specs are at Apple.com/iPad

Pricing starts at $499, with the priciest model (64 GB with Wi-Fi+3G) at $829. The highest price is much less than the anticipated $1000 estimate circulating when the iPad was a mystery. Even so, it doesn’t quite sound all that spectacular. Listening in on the unveiling it appeared Steve Jobs focused heavily on convincing everyone why they should get it. Was he wondering the same, perhaps?

Whatever he was wondering aside, the following are the ideas that grew on me in the hours surrounding the announcement:

Wandering through Twitter I came across one person in particular who was very excited about the iPad. Photographer @JeremyCowart had this to say about it, “I’m pumped about the Tablet announcement today cause it’s really going to help the photography industry I think. Especially editorial.”

This makes perfect sense. In terms of front end content, the iPad is on to something. Delivering content is the meat of what the device can do, and it’s meant for those with specific goals in mind. I can easily envision a reporter using it to look up news RSS feeds before morning meeting. Sure, you can do this on a smart phone or take a quick look at your computer when you arrive at your destination, but the screen in the former and the need to get to information quickly in the latter is remedied when an iPad steps into the picture.

An iPad would also be useful in the field, though I admit I would still prefer my laptop until I got a hold of one to test out. With a combination of Wi-Fi capabilities and the revamped version of iWork, the iPad is ideal. Its pricing is fairly competitive compared to other tablets out there, though an only issue would be it’s lacking innovation. If Apple wasn’t synonymous with cool these days, it probably wouldn’t stand out too terribly against its PC counterparts. Combine that with a lack of camera, and it’s even less impressive. I’m definitely eager to get my hands on one in a few months to see how it stands up to other tablets.

Another idea that crossed my mind was it’s potential usefulness in areas where a way to access the internet and transfer info is crucial. If you’ve ever followed Haitian news closely, you know that there currently isn’t much Haitian generated news to follow. Haitian journalists in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding region have had very little resources to work with since the January 12th earthquake. If Apple made a “rugged” version of the iPad (akin to the Panasonic Toughbook tablets often seen in hospitals), they would have my vote as something field-worthy. Thin may be in for now, but to be useful in the field it likely needs a more heavy-duty backbone.

Only time will tell when it comes to Apple. Known for new models and updates with features consumers wanted in the first place, the future looks optimistic the iPad. For now, we’ll have to see how content creators take advantage of the it. Are these possibilities even exclusive to the iPad? We’ll see come spring.

Google Reader Adds New Feature

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

I currently have subscriptions to more than 100 Web sites via my Google Reader.  I have my folders broken down into Aviation, Business Aviation, Journalism. Multimedia, Social Media and Other.  My Google Reader lets me keep up with all my myriad interests, but it always had one flaw: Web sites without RSS could not be included in your subscriptions.  I was missing out on some great blogs that, for whatever reason, chose not to use  RSS.

Now the official Google Reader blog offers good news: you can now create a custom feed to track changes on pages that don’t have their own feed.  So now I can add even more blogs and Web sites that are of interest to me.  But it’s also probably time for me to go through my subscriptions and weed some sites out.

Mashable Offers Must-have Traits for Journalists

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

I have spent a lot of time in the past few weeks reading the resumes of students and young reporters from the National Association of Black Journalists’ Young Black Journalist listserv.  My first impression was how delighted I was to see how so many of them have multimedia skills.  My second impression was that for many of them, I actually had to hunt and ask questions to get them to put it on their resumes — clearly.

Around the time I started reviewing the resumes, I saw this great post from the Mashable blog: 8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist, written by Vadim Lavrusik.  I know that we’ve written about this topic before, but having looked at these resumes, I think it’s worth writing about again, not only to make sure we all have the skills, but also know how to highlight them on our updated resumes.

  1. Entrepreneurial and Business Savvy — Lavrusik cites several Web sites that have popped up to fill the gaps being created by journalists as traditional media continues to shrink.  Others I like are Texas Tribune, Maryland Reporter, Baltimore Brew and  DNA Info.
  2. Programmer — Several of the resumes made a passing mention of creating/coding Web sites and blogs.  This will be a valuable skill moving ahead using things like HTML, CSS, PHP (PHP), JavaScript, ActionScript3 and Python.  I am a user and big fan of the FREE training offered by Seattle-based Creative Techs.
  3. Open-minded Experimenter — Experimenter has been my middle name since March 2006, when our bosses told us we had to embrace digital media.  I’ve done everything from podcasts to video to slide shows to photography to embracing social media, all in the name of enhancing, complementing or improving my stories.
  4. Multimedia Storyteller — See above.  We also need to have the ability to write across all platforms, quickly.  I currently  contribute to two newsletters, three blogs, a real-time paid Web site, a free Web site and a weekly magazine.  I need to take my stories and slice, dice and enhance to whatever media I choose, all in the name of getting the news out to our readers.
  5. The Social Journalist and Community Builder — I have become a fan of using social media to enhance my reporting.  I have used Twitter and our Facebook fan page to reach out to readers for story ideas and tips.  But be warned – social media is not a substitute to good, old-fashioned reporting.
  6. Blogger and Curator — Journalists go back and forth on this, but I have fully embraced blogging, both professionally and personally.  On the professional side, I use our company blogs to expand on published stories or write about relevant issues that might not fit into any of our stable of publications.  On the personal side, I write for this blog and write about new media issues on my blog, Musings of a New Media Maven.
  7. Multi-skilled — I majored in broadcast journalism, but decided to go into the print side of the business.  I hardly recognize myself now, since I write, shoot/edit video, record/produce podcasts and take my own pictures.  Other things on my to-do list are interactive maps, slide shows and Flash CS4.
  8. Fundamental Journalism Skills — this one is last on the list, but I question why, because without this, none of the other seven items amounts to a hill of beans.

How are you doing with the eight items on this list?  Do you think that more things should be added?  Tell us about it.

Calendar of Multimedia Training and Events

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

  • The National Association of Black Journalists’ Media Institute and CBS News will be holding a Webinar on Producing & Filing for the Web Feb. 3.  Participants will hear about what it takes to have a solid understanding of how to produce and write content across more than one distribution channel.
  • Answers.com is sponsoring the Online Community Unconference East 2010 in New York City Feb. 10.  The unconference brings together online community professionals to discuss experience and strategies in the development and growth of online communities.
  • BusinessWeek magazine will he holding its annual Media Summit in New York City March 10-11.  The summit will host the country’s top media, entertainment and technology executives to discuss broadband, wireless, advertis­ng, TV, film, cable, satellite, publishing, news and other media.
  • South by Southwest (SXSW) is holding its 2010 Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, March 12-16.  Topics include Black Blogging Rock Stars, Evolution of Online Video and The Future of Journalism is Visual.
  • The annual 2010 National College Media Convention will be held March 14-16 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.  Terry Moran, co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline” and Supreme Court correspondent for the network, is will be a  keynote speaker at the event.
  • The Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Center for the Digital Globe are hosting a symposium on March 15-16 to explore cutting edge ideas for the future of media.
  • The University of Central Florida’s student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists will be holding its first-ever conference March 20 at the campus.  The goal is to prepare, encourage and educate minority students pursuing careers in the media, and the one-day workshop will cover four tracks: WWW…Media Frenzy- The Importance of being a “Know it All;” The Classifieds: The Business side of the Industry; Breaking News: Creating Your Story; and Pre and Post Production: What should I be doing as a student now?
  • TEDx Seattle will be held April 16 in partnership with the Master of Communication in Digital Media Program at the University of Washington.
  • BusinessJournalism.org is holding a free Webinar, “Using Social Media to Cover Business Better” April 19-20.  The first hour-long Webinar will target those new to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The second hour will help you take your use of social media to the next level.
  • The Knight Center for Specialized Journalism offers the seminar Digital Life: Policy & Privacy Online at the University of Maryland College Park’s at the Philip Merrill of College of Journalism May 26-29.  Topics include Social Media and Crowdsourced Journalism, Knight News Challenge and Back-to-the-Newsroom.

If you have any items that I’ve missed, please drop me an email via the DJTF Yahoo! Listserv or at regaviationqueen AT yahoo DOT com.  Thanks!

Palapala Magazine Tells African Stories in the Digital Age

Palapala Magazine

www.palapalamagazine.com

By Kangsen Feka Wakai,  Founding Editor

            Two years ago, when I asked Cameroonian novelist Francis Nyamnjoh about the role of the African writer in an interview published in The Frontier Telegraph Newspaper in Cameroon,  he referred to  Chinua Achebe’s assertion in his collection of Essays, Home and Exile, where Achebe states that the role of the African writer is to capture the story of the African community, at home and in the Diaspora, with the respect, dignity and sensitivity that it requires given that Africa, as a continent, has suffered and continues to suffer from stereotypes.

            It was the same sentiment echoed by Cameroonian novelist Patrice Nganang, author of Dog Days—an avant garde novel written from the perspective of an urban dog, in an interview by literary translator Peter W. Vakunta published on Palapala magazine when he stated that:

            “What compels me to write is the feeling that the complexity of an African life has not been told yet, and the conviction that if we do not tell our stories ourselves, then we should not complain if others speak for us. I am convinced that African stories are just beginning to be told, particularly on the African continent. But I also think that when African stories have been told out of the continent, in general, their richness which lies in their complexity has often been removed and it has given way to flat narratives. Yet, African lives are complex.”

            In making such a statement, Nganang surmises the raison d’etre of www.palapalamagazine.com, a forum where African writers, artists and communicators, in the continent and diaspora, can converge and engage with themselves and a global audience on subjects that offer a  glimpse into the African reality.

            Palapala magazine is an all volunteer, not-for-profit attempt to use digital tools to enable that task.  And though it is hosted by a Technorati, a blog hosting site, Palapala—at least according to the team behind the initiative, which includes Nigerian born artist Abidemi A. Olowonira and Cameroon born writer, Dibussi Tande, is more than a blog. 

            Created to accommodate all media [pod-casting and video-streaming], Palapala’s ultimate goal is to tell compelling and humanizing stories.

            And the African story must be told…

            It is a narrative which is both urgent and necessary—an urgency that derives its being from the paucity of the African perspective in the rich global pantheon.   And despite the fact that we now inhabit a smaller and more interconnected world, the human narrative remains an incomplete mosaic without a well articulated narrative of the African experience and perspective.   

            It is the presence of this vacuum in our collective narrative that necessitates the telling and re-telling of the ‘African story’ without which our human narrative will be incomplete.   In so doing, Palapala magazine joins a coterie of outlets that have taken it upon themselves to tell the African story devoid of the gore that has become cannon-fodder for what passes for objective journalism exemplified by the global media giants.

            It is this understanding of this monumental task that writers, artists and communicators have, as chroniclers of the human experience, which fuels the embers of Palapala magazine.  It is my belief that our well being as humans could be enhanced—though not perfected—by the kind of stories that not only enable a better understanding of our experience, but compels us to reflect and hopefully improve that experience. 

            But because the process of telling a story requires more than just the proverbial intercourse between ink and pad, finger and keyboard, and artist and muse, projects like www.palapalamagazine.com remain inimitable facilitators and cherished allies in this process.

            Palapala magazine is the kind of forum where Nigerian writer Tolu Ogunlesi can introduce readers to the inimitable Zimbabwean writer Dambuzo Marechera; where Berlin based Kenyan Poet JKS Makokha can evoke his sublime lyricism; where Cameroonian writer Wirdzerem G. Barfee can critique the state of English-speaking Cameroon literature; where Palestinian cultural activist Hadeel Assali can have conversation about poet Mahmoud Darwish and the Houston Palestinian Film Festival, which she helped found.

            Thus Palapala magazine becomes of a soundboard for a diversity of voices and sentiments.  But above all, a place where stories are told.

Kangsen Feka Wakai is the founding editor of www.palapalamagazine.com.  He worked as a correspondent for the Houston Chronicle and his writings have been published in Callaloo, African Writing Magazine, Sentinel Poetry Quarterly and the Journal of the African Literature Association.  He lives in the Boston area.