Monthly Archives: November 2009

Bliss Davis Picks His Favorite Photo Galleries

By Bliss Davis, Bowling Green State University Journalism Student

One of my favorite photo galleries is Boston.com’s The Big Picture. True to its name it features, well, really big pictures: crisp, clear and tell a good chunk of the story at hand before you get to the caption at the bottom.

Now, I’m not sure as to when The Big Picture came into being (feel free to indulge me!), but it represents a web trend I’ve been seeing for quite some time: big pictures, and often with it a preference for very horizontal layouts. In lieu of the evolution of convergence, print and broadcast media have always agreed on one thing: visuals do a great job of moving a story along. Pictures are really worth a thousand words.

Here are a few sites that beautifully utilize visuals, per myself and my small group of awesome high school journalism students :) :

This is obviously a short list and there are many other news oriented sites out there that demonstrate this trend. It looks like one that’ll stick, that is, become the norm or even a standard on many sites. Now I don’t necessarily think pictures will mimic the page swallowing size of those on The Big Picture, but definitely those in actual stories (versus bona fide galleries) on TBO and NBC-Universal owned sites.

Friday Fast Five

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair,

Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

  1. What I’m working on: Visualizing California’s overcrowded classrooms: Mark Luckie’s 10,000 Words blog offers us a peek at the digital possibilities with this story.
  2. The Twenty-Five Most Valuable Blogs In America: The list, from the 247Wall St blog includes new media stars like Gawker, Huffington Post and Politico.
  3. How to create an interactive Google Map: the Networked blog walks you through the steps.  An interactive map can be part of a multimedia package on stories, like Mark Luckie’s in tip  number one.
  4. 10 Blogs to Help You Become a Photography Expert: as we’re all being asked to do more with less, this Web Design Ledger blog post points out great resources to improve your photo efforts.
  5. Free Stock Photos for your Website – 11 Solid Sources: for those of you who just can’t handle photography or need a free photo in a hurry (or not), the Echo Enduring blog posts about good sources.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of Dracobotanicus, via Flickr

The NABJ Digital

Journalism Task Force

wishes you a very

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Deciding Where, When and How to Post Content

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair,

Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

I work for the Aviation Week group, where we have myriad platforms for our stories.  We have a weekly magazine, 2 monthly magazines, 2 weekly newsletters, 2 daily newsletters, a free web site, a premium paid web site and 8 blogs covering defense, aviation and aerospace.  We also have a photography gallery, a podcast channel and a video section.

That’s a lot of content to fill.  In the old days, I’d write a story for a specific medium, send it off to my editor and wait until it was published.  Not any more.   Now when I decide to do a story, I have to think about all the platforms it can fit into.  As an example, I do a feature for our weekly newsletter called “5 Good Questions.”  I now always ask extra questions and slice and dice it in the following ways:

  • Original story in the newsletter;
  • Short version for the Aviation Week Intelligence Network premium site;
  • 2-3 questions for the monthly magazine;
  • Photos submitted to the gallery;
  • Blog post with extra questions, including a quick podcast or video clip.

None of the pieces are exactly the same, so even if a subscriber has access to all our publications, they still find new information in each source, but the don’t lose the impact of the interview if they don’t go to all the sources.   For more insight, check out this post on the Wired Journalist network.

And Happy Thanksgiving!

What Would You Do with Apple’s Nonexistent iTablet?

By Bliss Davis, Bowling Green State University Journalism Student

Trying to ignore it won’t work–it’s already showed up on quite a few news outlets.

The “big thing” and “it” I’m referring to is the currently nonexistent (at least, on store shelves) Apple tablet, dubbed the “iTablet*” and already gaining popularity quickly, (per Mashable.com, TheAppleBlog and others).

With all of the buzz surrounding it’s potential release one can only wonder what digital oriented/multimedia journalists–well everyone, really–could possibly do with a device like this.  Its purported size, fitting inside a manila envelope, seems to be optimal for carrying around instead of a laptop. Size and usability play a huge factor in what journalists deem practical enough to carry with them on the regular, as evidenced by the popular Flip camera.

Getting gadget happy can have its drawbacks though. I read a blog entry written by James McPherson  earlier this year about how reporters with gadgets are taking over the journalism world.  Okay, not exactly, but he does say this, “As technology continues to improve and news organization cut more staffers, those organizations can rely increasingly on non-professionals to provide content.”

McPherson meshes this view with another potential downfall web and broadcast quality producing gadgetry, “…amateur citizen journalism further decreases the need (in the eyes of owners) for qualified journalists, and increases the possibility for error–or even intentional fraud by people who may try to scam a news organization with dramatic–but misleading or false–video or text.”

**cough**balloonboy**cough**

Now, as a lover of all things technological, I consider it a great thing to have these battery-zapping resources at my disposal, but it does make you think. What will it take to be sure a citizen is accurately capturing a story? Will the judicial system be forced to reevaluate false light and other applicable laws? How about backpack journalists, will they become preoccupied with reporting technology and forget about the storytelling (purely human driven) aspect? True, these are by no means new questions, but the advent and rise of citizen journalism throws a whole ‘nother facet into the mix. The journalism job industry is going to look mighty interesting in coming years.

*This entry is dedicated to the auspicious, yet covert “iTablet,” in lieu unconfirmed of existence.

Interview with Brazil’s Juliana Bozan on Women in Tech Entrepreneurship

By Talia Whyte, founder and director of Global Wire Associates, freelance journalist and 2009 Environmental Justice Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism, University of Southern California

The first New Media Women Entrepreneurs Summit occurred Nov 9 with dozens of enterprising women – and a few men – thinking about the business side of the new cyber frontier. Following the summit, I talked to Brazilian blogger and future tech entrepreneur Juliana Bozan about creating Internet start-ups with a focus on social justice. Bozan came to the Summit to find inspiration.

Talia Whyte: Why is it important for more women to get involved in technology and entrepreneurship?

Juliana Bozan: I think it is really important for women to get online today because they are so many business opportunities. Women, especially in the developing world, are blogging and tweeting about issues that affect us. Just look at the Iranian protests last summer and the continuing human rights problems against women in the Middle East; many of the bloggers are women. Journalism outlets like CNN and BBC are using information on our blogs for free, and we see no profit. But now is the time to step our game, and figure out a way to create business opportunities for our words, video and audio.

TW: Tell me about your blogging experience.

JB: I used to write for a now defunct group blog for women in Brazil a couple of years back about “Brave Women,” where we would talk about problems women in the favelas like domestic violence, prostitution and single motherhood. It was great because everyone liked it and we have a lot of unique hits on the site, including from European journalism outlets. However, some of these journalism outlets reposted some of our blog posts, which was fine at first, but eventually we got tired of them taking our stuff without giving credit to our blog, the bloggers or even asking our permission to repost or paying us for reposting. We felt like we were being used, you know, like a new kind of colonialism. Since Western outlets are cutting back on having journalists in the developing world, they now seek out bloggers in countries they want to get information about. Unfortunately, it is very commonplace these days for Western journalism outlets take information from bloggers in the developing world and not give credit where credit is due.

TW: What are you hoping to take away from this Summit?

JB: I have met a couple of interesting people here who I would like to follow up within the next few days about getting help on writing a business plan. I want to look into starting an online newsletter or blog about Brazilian women social justice activists, but this time I want to look at having a better strategy for monetizing my site, so my writers will get payment and credit for their work. I would even consider having more formalized partnerships with journalism outlets.

TW: What advice do you have for other women tech entrepreneurs?

JB: Be strong, be confident and be smart about what you are doing. Don’t let others take advantage of you or tell you that you can’t do your own website. When you do that, you have failed before you’ve even gotten started.

Friday Fast Five

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair,

Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

Again this week I’ll be offering up a bonus Fast Five.  There’s so much news to pass along, and I don’t want readers to miss a thing.

  1. 5 Creative uses of Flash and interactive storytelling: You know it’s not Friday Fast Five without Mark Luckie’s 10,000 Words blog.  This post offers great tips for those of us trying to wrap our arms around Flash.
  2. 10 of the Best Social Media Tools for Entrepreneurs: this one comes from the Mashable blog, and although it’s not journalism-specific, there are tools here that we all can use.  I’m a BIG fan of Monitter.
  3. Top 35 News Sources on Twitter you should follow : Keep updated with the latest news: we write the news, but we also need to keep up with the news, which makes this list from the Daily SEO Blog very handy.
  4. How To Use Tweetdeck: if you are a power user of Twitter (like me — @AvWeekBenet), using TweetDeck will make your experience 1000% better.  The Vogel Social Media blog posts a great video on how to use this Twitter tool.
  5. 14 Ways To Fight Twitter Burnout: The TwiTip blog helps keep the love fresh between you and Twitter.
  6. 10 Excellent and Free Blog Editors for the Desktop: The Six Revisions blog offers a list of offline blog editors to use when you don’t always have Internet access.
  7. Designing “Coming Soon” Pages:  I am in the process of creating a web site.  Right now, I have this really generic — and ugly — coming soon page, making this post from the Smashing Magazine blog right on time.
  8. 15 Great Websites To Download Thousands of Free Fonts: we all want to take our web sites to the next level.  One way to do that is by using fonts outside what comes with the hardware/software we all use, and the WebDesignDev blog does just that.
  9. 40 Free High-Quality WordPress Themes: speaking of the next level, for those of us on WordPress, Smashing Magazine offers up some really great design options outside the usual offerings.
  10. 11 Essential Photoshop E-Books Amazingly Free: the SpeckyBoy blog posts on books that can take your Photoshop skills to the next level.

I hope these are helpful.  If you see items for Fast Five, please drop me a line in the NABJ Digital Task Force Yahoo list serve.

Fitting Social Media into Your Busy Work Day

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair,

Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
I am one of those people who have embraced social media tools as a part of my every day work product.  The question I get ALL the time is how do you find the time to incorporate social media when I have so much work (weekly newsletter, daily newsletter, daily premium and free web sites and 2 blogs) to do in my “regular” job?

I have always been a multitasker, so I just incorporate it into my daily work flow.  Here’s how.  Let’s say I’m doing a story about layoffs at a business jet manufacturing plant.  Layoffs are a big thing in my industry these days, so I know I need to write up a quick story for our premium web site.  I’ll write that story and use a picture from my Flickr account to illustrate it.  I’ll also send a Tweet with the story headline.  I’ll then write a longer story for the weekly newsletter and come up with a companion blog post at the same time.   And each time I use the story, a Tweet will go out, and if it’s big enough, I’ll also post it on our company Facebook Fan Page.

So the trick is to think beyond just the basic story, think about all the platforms that must be fed and link accordingly.  Social media guru Chris Brogan has a great post on his blog — Prioritize Your Social Media Efforts – that offer some very helpful tips on how you can create your own road map.

5 Ways to Increase Web Traffic Using Twitter

By Bliss Davis, Bowling Green State University Journalism Student

I’ll admit I don’t actually tweet very much, but I regularly read Twitter feeds I enjoy and find useful. I’ve been fascinated by social networking before it was even called social networking (at least I think so, let’s just say a long time), and it has become a habit for me to pinpoint trends, favorite practices and not-so-favorite practices when settling on a feed I really like reading. As such, here are five Twitter habits I’ve personally used when I was an intern to help make a news site more appealing to our Twitter audience. Doing so not only brought a lot of traffic, but our viewership became more inclined to send news tips and other important info as well.
1.  Following those who follow you, especially if they are in your viewing area.

This primarily applies to local stations. Through following those in our viewing area, we gained a significant increase in website traffic. Interestingly, much of this traffic came from the friends/followees of those we were already following. I would set a personal goal of being within a 500 followers of those already following the station (i.e. If we had 5,000 followers, I would aim to follow at least 4,500. This was the starting point). Through this our web traffic grew significantly.

2.  Spread out updates, and also have a special update time.
One of my favorite aspects of working with the web is the immediate feedback. True, not all of it is pleasant, but certainly gives insight into what could possibly be a step in the right direction. With all of that said, sending out back-to-back tweets is not the best idea. After asking around (using Twitter), something along the lines of an hour-ish was ideal for a lot of our viewers, and that’s the minimum. I know, I know…it may pain some to take so long to post tweets, but folks won’t mind. Instead in the mean time, for example, use specific times to tweet weather updates, or release important contest info at a particular time on Tuesdays. It’ll make your feed seem less random and more fact/info oriented.

3.) #hashtag is your friend.

The #hashtag allows you to create search trends on Twitter. Using a recent, notorious story, #balloonboy would have been a perfect way to get website visitors, pending #balloonboy was your own special #hashtag for that story. Similarly, it’s a great idea to #hashtag your Twitter @username so as to 1.) Potentially generate a special search SEO for your station site and 2.) In the process, also create your own archive system. Now, there are a few kinks with this practice, but for the most part tags such as #KTHV, #NBC_DFW or #FOXtoledo would create search trends leading to your feed and website.

4.) Loosen up a bit!

Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I especially like feeds that are not only to the point but also personable. In true producer form, I mix up my tweets from sounding tease-like to the more “what” oriented for the more serious tweets. Directing questions at viewers or inviting them to upload wacky weather pics, for example, works wonders as well.

5.) Polling.

People like giving their opinion. This isn’t a new revelation or anything, but definitely useful. This also allows you to ask questions, adding to the personable bit in #4.

Extra tips:

I’m pretty sure you’re probably well aware of websites designed to make tweeting more efficient. Sites like TidyTweet.com and TweetLater make the whole process a lot less labor intensive. Don’t be shy! I’ve noticed people enjoy tweets from our more visible newsroom members (anchors, reporters). Go ahead, drop in and say “hello” every so often, viewers honestly appreciate it.

Got any other Twitter tips? Share the wealth! :)  Bliss is on Twitter at @journalistbliss.

Observations from the New Media Women Entrepreneur Summit

By Talia Whyte, founder and director of Global Wire Associates, freelance journalist and 2009 Environmental Justice Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism, University of Southern California

Online movers and shakers made a splash last week at the first annual New Media Women Entrepreneur Summit in Washington D.C., where ideas for digital innovations with a woman’s touch were highlighted.  Both professional and citizen journalists showed off their latest projects, including Teresa Puente, former Chicago Tribune reporter and founder of Latina Voices.  Puente said she started the site to address the dearth of Latina perspectives in the mainstream media in Chicago.  Since launching last year, the wildly successful site has produced over 80 articles and has plans on recruiting more writers and having a more national focus in the near future.

While most the sites featured at the summit were commercially operated, there has been growing interest in nonprofit journalism.  Melissa Bailey, managing editor of the New Haven Independent, a news site launched in 2005 which is “produced in conjunction with the Online Journalism Project, a not-for-profit effort to promote professional-quality “stand-alone” and “hyperlocal” news sites on the Internet.”  With a staff of four, the website has succeeded in being seen as competitive with other local media outlets.  It also receives financial support from groups such as the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut and Yale-New Haven Hospital.  When asked if the site’s reporting is heavily determined by the large number of health related sponsors, Bailey said that while many stories on the site deal with health, this is because the readership has a strong interest in this topic.

Engaging readers in not only what they read, but also being content producers was an overarching topic of the day.  Maureen Mann, founder of the daily news site ForumHome, said that community engagement is central to the site.  ForumHome is an all-volunteer operation run by community residents, which started out of a need to cover issues concerning rural New Hampshire but given little attention by the Concord Monitor and Union Leader. Because half of the population has Internet access, they a print editions for special events, such as for information regarding local elections or school board meetings. The site has become the go-to place for news and information, receiving over 3.5 million unique hits in 4 years, thanks largely to its “citizen newsroom.”

“People are realizing that if they want to read the news in our community, they have to report the news themselves,” Mann said.

However, the elephant in the room is with all this content being done for free by nontraditional journalists, what does the future hold for traditional journalists who are losing their jobs due to the changing newsroom?  No one had a clear answer for this, but this will surely continue to be up for discussion more now that traditional news outlets reinvent themselves.