Tag Archives: website

Spotlight’s On: Trina Chiasson

trina.chiasson

Trina Chiasson, CEO and Co-founder of InfoActive

The future of data journalism is looking brighter than ever. InfoActive, a data visualization upstart is turning data into eye-catching visuals to be used in stories. Co-founder and Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow Trina Chiasson designed this data graphics tool to help take professional data collecting and usage to the next level.

Tell us about InfoActive.

A little over a year ago, I started a web startup that simplifies the process of creating interactive info graphics with live data. We’re building a software in the form of a web application that is a self-serve platform that people will be able to use to import data and help them tell visual data-driven stories. We’re also working with the Reynolds Journalism Institute to do some research on how newsrooms use data visualizations.

What made you start your company?

I started InfoActive because I was having a hard time making data driven stories myself. Most data tools weren’t built for design and most design tools weren’t built for data. There was a gap in functionality; it required going through lots of different steps, and it was really difficult. At the same time, I’ve spent a lot of my life and my work on the web. I thought there should be an easier, simpler solution that takes advantage of the interactivity of the web. So I thought it would be fun to build it! I started playing with some code and talking to people to about it. Then, it started gaining attention, traction and interest.

Who are you targeting?

We’re definitely working with a lot of data journalists. They have a huge need for data visualization and it’s a difficult thing for small newsrooms to invest the time in creating the best graphics. There’s also a big need in nonprofits and academics institutions. Students need this as well. There’s also a big need amongst marketers, advertisers and companies that are trying to present information to their clients about campaigns they’ve been running. So, there’s a pretty wide variety of people who see value in this tool.

How is data collected?

Data is collected in so many different formats. It’s being collected automatically through analytics, online surveys and different social networks. We’re finding that a lot of organizations have data that they’re collecting [through] these different formats, and often data journalists are collecting it through governments that are getting much better about collecting data about their populations. There are also different data sets to work with, and it can be very daunting [to sort through]. For someone using the application [InfoActive], they would start with an existing data set that they have from any one of these sources—and sometimes they’ve collected data too using survey tools to collect information about their audience. Then they would import these data sets into InfoActive’s platform. Our platform programmatically looks at the data and then draws visualizations that make sense. You work with text blocks, interactive filters and different charts to organize the visualization story.

What are your future plans for InfoActive?

We’re expecting to launch a public beta in March. People will be able to login, try it out and create an infographic. For more advanced usage, there will be a monthly subscription cost. After we launch in March, we have a few stretch goals that we’ve hit through our Kickstarter campaign. Those include new visualization charts, an icon library, and analytics on how people interact with infographics. We plan to launch an API so people can connect their custom data streams to different infographics and build new ways to use our platform. The API is a way to enable developers to hook into our platform in more robust ways and create their own connections to our platform. For example, if they have their own custom data stream and they want to fuse that into infographic templates, the API would be a place to do that.

On December 18th, InfoActive’s Kickstarter campaign generated nearly 5 times its pledge goal of $12,000. Chiasson talks about her excitement about the campaign and launch, “I really appreciate all the support we’ve gotten so far. It’s been really amazing to watch customers get involved in the process and see the product evolve because of that. I’m really excited for all of the new supporters that we have through the Kickstarter campaign and to launch our public beta in March.”

To learn more about InfoActive, visit : infoactive.co 

Sadiyyah Rice is the digital intern for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force, recording secretary for the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists and producer and editor for Higher Education Channel Television (HEC-TV).

Journalism Professor Uses Crowdsourcing To Track Patch Layoffs

By Benét J. Wilson, immediate past chair, NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force & social media/eNewsletters editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

The rumors about layoffs at AOL-owned hyperlocal network Patch had been growing and stories started appearing on Aug. 9. But when the announcement was made on Aug. 16, Michelle Ferrier was already on the job with a Wiki and a blog post to encourage people to help document the job losses.

 Ferrier, a professor at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication has had a long-time interest in hyperlocal sites, seeing them as an antidote to media deserts and media organizations that tend to neglect the news of diverse communities. She created the wiki because, she said, it was hard to tell who was let go and what websites were being shuttered.

“My ultimate goal is to find sustainable models in journalism for low-served areas,” said Ferrier.  “I’m trying to validate that with data from the wiki. We’re using it to find out which sites were cut and editors were released and match that to local demographics to see how media deserts are created.”

Ferrier, creator of LocallyGrownNews.com,  is hoping to use this and other data to research what journalism models can sustain hyperlocal ventures. “We put together a database that has more information that’s on the wiki,” she said. “We wanted to list all the Patch websites, then go back in a month. If they haven’t been updated, we will assume they have been shut down.”

The project started on Aug. 9,  when Ferrier started using social media to find laid-off editors and the names of decommissioned or consolidated Patch websites. “The wiki itself just went up on Aug. 20. We have about 1,000 sites on the list. We created the list so that folks could add information and offer a layer of transparency,” she said.

The goal is to let people know there was a source available to offer information on which Patch sites have shuttered. “We also wanted a place for those affected by the layoffs to tell their  stories,” said Ferrier. “I have already spoken with some Patch editors,who are telling their stories.”

Ferrier said she hopes she can see patterns in how things functioned, how things were out of whack with what was being asked and how communities have lost a local news source. She is looking at data including what the affected communities look like, their demographics, and possible solutions.”The Patch layoffs address a critical issue to democracy,” she said.

The wiki is using existing news sources and offering links on specific sites and former editors who lost their jobs, said Ferrier. “Our goal is to then compare these news reports and go back in a month to look at all the sites and see if they’ve been updated,” she said. “At this point, there’s still shuffling going on and AOL is still consolidating, but we want to capture what we do know.  We’re also trying to see if journalists of color and those communities were affected.”

Ferrier is using Facebook, Twitter, journalism and hyperlocal news groups and word-of-mouth to get the word out about the Wiki. “We want to get the word out, and we hope that people will spread it across their own networks.”

 

Resources To Build That Perfect Portfolio Website

By Benét J. Wilson, chair, NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force & social media/eNewsletters editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Editor’s note: please join me for a free webinar, “Top 10 Dos and Don’ts for Resumes,” on Tuesday, July 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET.  I’ll offer my tips and do three live demos of my famous resume review. Please share this link and encourage folks to attend. It will be recorded for those who can’t make it.

As preparation continues for this year’s National Association of Black Journalists Annual Convention and Career Fair, I can feel the excitement and preparation that is taking place.  One of the key items you need to have in time for the convention is an online portfolio where potential employers can see your work all in one place.

Michelle Johnson, Associate Professor of the Practice, Journalism at Boston University, NABJ Educator of the Year AND one of my digital journalism heroes, did a workshop at the 2011 Philadelphia convention –The One-minute Media Mogul: Creating Online Portfolios — that is my go-to resource.  When I got laid off in October 2011, Michelle was one of the first people I called. I wanted to get her notes from her great presentation so I could create my own portfolio.

She kindly gave me permission to share them, so here they are, as promised. I’d love to hear from you on which site you decide to use, and send links to see what you came up with.  Thanks!!

For Building a Free/Low-cost Portfolio or Website
WordPress.com
Wix.com
Tumblr.com
Weebly.com
Squarespace.com
Bluehost.com (for setting up a “self-hosted” version of WordPress)

Tips: Creating an Online Portfolio Using WordPress
WordPress is not just for blogging! It’s a full-fledged “content management system” that you can use to build a web site. With just a few tweaks, you can easily and quickly launch your own site. See these articles for details:
CUNY: Creating a Top-Notch Journalist Portfolio

How to Build a Distinctive Portfolio Site
WordPress.com vs hosted WordPress

“Self-hosted” WordPress Bluehost.com tutorials:
How to Install WordPress
Installing Themes
Setting up WordPress as a CMS
http://wordpress.forthenovice.com (videos)

WordPress.com Tutorials/Help
If you are using the free version of WordPress, look here for tips on how to configure your site: WordPress.com Support

Embedding documents
Do you want to embed :
Scribd.com - Need to embed a pdf of your resume? Try scribd.
Docstoc.com – Similiar to Scribd.
Tutorial: How to Embed PDF, Spreadsheets, etc. into WordPress
WordPress Plugin: Google Doc Embedder (Note: this works only for the self-hosted version of WordPress, not the free version.

WordPress Themes (aka templates)
Wordpress.com Theme Showcase: http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/

Note: The themes below are for “self-hosted” WordPress sites. You cannot install your own themes on the freebie sites available at wordpress.com.

Graph Paper Press: Great templates for photographers, visual types
Gabfire: For creating a news site.
Themeforest.net: My personal favorite. Tip: Click on “Wordpress” in the navigation bar first to filter out other formats.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
This article compares the two.

How To Get DIGITALLY Ready For The NABJ Convention

janine mackBy Janine Mack, recent graduate, Syracuse University, master’s in broadcast and digital journalism

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Janine Mack offers tips to digitally prepare for the NABJ Annual Convention & Career Fair July 31-Aug. 4, 2013.

It’s that time of year when I urge those in my network to start getting ready for the annual convention. Successfully preparing for NABJ can make the difference between landing an awesome first job or internship and heading back home empty handed. Here are a few tips to get started now.

1. Get an online portfolio! If you do not have a website with at least 8 to 12 clips of either video stories that aired or published print articles, then you are already behind. Ideally, you want your firstnamelastname.com that way when people Google your name, your web presence will be the first thing to come up. I didn’t thing people Googled me until my website showed me otherwise. WordPressAbout.me and Weebly are good places to start building a simple portfolio.  Some great examples of each come from Vanessa Deggins, Sarah Glover and Kirstin Garriss, respectively.

2. Google yourself. I always thought people were crazy when they said this, but one day I found old comment I thought was deleted and pictures of other people named Janine Mack half-naked. Recruiters and prospective sources will look so should you. A good rule of thumb is to delete anything that you would not want on your website.

3. I have a website, now what? Make sure to put your resume, some details about what you do and your aspirations, your clips and a nice professional picture of you doing whatever aspect of journalism it is that you do. Some of my favorite examples of how it’s done are Wesley LoweryStephanie Siek, Fadia Patterson and Eva McKend. Don’t forget to update it whenever you get a new job or an internship, to have it critiqued BEFORE you head to the convention and that the link is on anything you hand out such as business cards, resumes, demo reels, etc.

4. Build up your social media presence. Start accounts with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Storify, etc. These accounts should also be as a fine balance of personal, but professional with of course no on grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. Every account should be customized with your first name, last name, a picture and a brief biography of you on it. Once the accounts are established, link them to your webpage and begin to familiarize yourself with each one. You want as many ways as possible for recruiters to search for you, to add you to their network and to keep in touch after the convention is over. Plus, it’s fun to live tweet at the convention.

Resources To Build That Perfect Portfolio Website

By Benét J. Wilson, NABJ Program Chair, NABJ DJTF chair & freelance aviation/travel journalist and blogger

Yesterday, Marissa Evans, a student at Marquette University, posted an item from the 10000 Words blog: 5 Free Sites to Help Journalists Build an Online Portfolio – 10,000 Words. But the good folks weren’t at last year’s NABJ Annual Convention & Career Fair discovered a better resource.

Michelle Johnson, Associate Professor of the Practice, Journalism at Boston University (and one of my digital journalism heroes), did a workshop at last year’s convention –The One-minute Media Mogul: Creating Online Portfolios — that was much more informative.  When I got laid off last October, Michelle was one of the first people I called. I wanted to get her notes from her great presentation.

She kindly gave me permission to share them, so here they are, as promised. I’d love to hear from you on which site you decide to use, and send links to see what you came up with.  Thanks!!

For Building a Free/Low-cost Portfolio or Website
WordPress.com
Wix.com
Tumblr.com
Weebly.com
Squarespace.com
Bluehost.com (for setting up a “self-hosted” version of WordPress)

Tips: Creating an Online Portfolio Using WordPress
WordPress is not just for blogging! It’s a full-fledged “content management system” that you can use to build a web site. With just a few tweaks, you can easily and quickly launch your own site. See these articles for details:
CUNY: Creating a Top-Notch Journalist Portfolio

How to Build a Distinctive Portfolio Site
WordPress.com vs hosted WordPress

“Self-hosted” WordPress Bluehost.com tutorials:
How to Install WordPress
Installing Themes
Setting up WordPress as a CMS
http://wordpress.forthenovice.com (videos)

WordPress.com Tutorials/Help
If you are using the free version of WordPress, look here for tips on how to configure your site: WordPress.com Support

Embedding documents
Do you want to embed :
Scribd.com - Need to embed a pdf of your resume? Try scribd.
Docstoc.com – Similiar to Scribd.
Tutorial: How to Embed PDF, Spreadsheets, etc. into WordPress
WordPress Plugin: Google Doc Embedder (Note: this works only for the self-hosted version of WordPress, not the free version.

WordPress Themes (aka templates)
Wordpress.com Theme Showcase: http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/

Note: The themes below are for “self-hosted” WordPress sites. You cannot install your own themes on the freebie sites available at wordpress.com.

Graph Paper Press: Great templates for photographers, visual types
Gabfire: For creating a news site.
Themeforest.net: My personal favorite. Tip: Click on “Wordpress” in the navigation bar first to filter out other formats.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
This article compares the two.

 

NABJDigital Profiles Kelly Virella of Dominion New York

By Talia Whyte, founder and principal of Global Wire Associates and freelance journalist

Kelly Virella

There is a growing number of journalists who are leaving traditional media outlets to create and run their own online news sites.  Kelly Virella is one of those enterprising journalists.  She left her job as the deputy editor of City Limits magazine and website last year to start the news organization, Dominion of New York.  I spoke to her recently about life as a journalist turned entrepreneur.

NABJ Digital: What is Dominion of New York and why did you start it up?

Kelly Virella: Dominion of New York is the online magazine of black intellectual swagger. We report about innovative thinkers, artists and leaders. We investigate complex issues and we blog about current events relevant to the global black diaspora from a progressive-to-radical political perspective. We take our name from the hip-hop refrain, “We run New York,” which symbolizes the aspirations of the hip-hop generation for freedom and power. I started DoNY because I knew a lot of people who wanted a black publication that was more cerebral and stimulated critical thinking. I aim to create one that is commercially viable by giving it beautiful and accessible graphics and editorial.

NABJ Digital: In addition to your contributors, how many people help you run it, or is it all you?

Virella: About 40 people have contributed to the site thus far and another 30 are working on projects in the pipeline. My business partner, veteran ad sales executive Darryl Dye, is our sales leader. My social media consultant is Demetria Irwin, the former managing editor of MadameNoire.com. Also helping me is my husband and co-investor Michael Starkey.

NABJ Digital: How does your website stand out from other sites geared towards African-Americans?

Virella: We’re nerdier. LOL! Our mission is to nourish the life of the mind of people who love black culture. So we’re more cerebral and bookish than your average, with a lot of posts devoted to books, ideas and thinkers.  We also publish a lot of long, thoughtful, literary pieces that other sites wouldn’t touch.

NABJ Digital: Why do you think more black journalists should pursue entrepreneurial ventures?

Virella: I believe that every black family should aim to generate an entrepreneur because we need businesses to create jobs and economic growth that will help us assume leadership and control in our own environments. Journalists who do this can help elevate the global conversation about race and promote change.

NABJ Digital: Have you ever run a business of this nature before?  What skills are required to pursue such a venture?

Virella: Before starting DoNY I worked for almost 2 years as the number two editor for a small New York City magazine and website called City Limits. That helped me learn some of the ropes of editing and understand the business model of websites. But I’m definitely a first time business-owner and that’s an entirely different beast. You have to be patient, teachable, have foresight, vision and perseverance, and be able to use your power as CEO effectively. You also have to be willing to work at least 12 hours per day. It’s not rocket science. It just requires a lot of work.

NABJ Digital: What is the hardest part about running your website?

Virella: Finding experienced freelance contributors who know how to write good pitches is the hardest part.

NABJ Digital: What is your business model?

Virella: Our first revenue streams will be ad sales and event sponsorships.

NABJ Digital: How has the website been received by others so far?

Virella: Very well. Last month — our fifth month online — we had 55,000 unique visitors in 155 countries and territories.

NABJ Digital: What are the long term goals for Dominion of New York?

Virella: I want us to expand the brand into ancillary products like anthologies of our top articles. But more importantly, I’d like to see DoNY become a major voice in the black diaspora.

NABJDigital Profiles Loop21.com

By Stacie Bailey, online graduate student, Quinnipiac University

An accessible and open forum that provides in-depth coverage and original angles on issues that affect the African American community. That is Loop21.com.  The name Loop21  is about being in the know and being included in the topics of the 21st century.

Initially launched a year and a half ago, the site underwent a re-launch in August 2011 displaying the new format that is visible online today. The site was created in an effort to produce more accurate and unbiased coverage of issues within the African-American community and mainstream media.

The young staff consists of CEO Darrell Williams, COO/Executive Producer Ken Gibbs, Jr. and Editorial Director Chloe Hillard, among others, along with 40 freelance writers. With articles ranging from politics to culture, together, the team publishes almost 100 pieces of content each day reaching readers from their website as well as social media venues such as Twitter (@theloop21) and Facebook .

The Black-owned and operated site creates revenue through advertising while partnering with news publications such as Essence and NewsOne. Loop21 encourages participation and exchange of information among its audience. During President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, Loop21 held a live Twitter conversation, teaming up with a group of 100-200 professionals to respond to the event as it was occurring. Readers were welcome to join the conversation and respond with feedback.  In another instance, a similar discussion was held via social media during the Troy Davis execution. Loop21 is less about business and more about making a difference in the community.

“It comes from a new generation of thinkers, thinking about things in a forward looking way. [We’re] not just looking in the past, but looking for new opportunities and ways to manage our challenges. That’s what we’re about and that’s what our audience is about,” Williams said.

If you would like to get involved with Loop21, you can send questions, comments, story ideas and opinion articles to editor@theloop21.com. Op-eds are posted weekly. Internships are available year-round; just send a note of why you’re interested, your resume and up to three samples of your work to the email above.  Check out Loop21’s “About Us” page to get to know more about some of the people who make the site a success.