Posted in Uncategorized

Best of NABJ Digital Blog: Don’t Underestimate Nano Video: It Rocks the Music and Rolls the Video

Editor’s note: we are taking this week off to enjoy the holidays with our families.  So this week, we’ll be re-running past posts.  Today’s post is from DJTF member and multimedia journalist Shelea Durant, who offers us tips on how to use the iPod Nano for video shooting.  It originally ran Nov. 10.  Enjoy!

By Sheala Durant, multimedia journalist

I bought my Flip in 2007 and thought it was a fantastic and ultra-portable way to shoot video for a novice. It was. The video was shaky and the sound was …. Well… not even Pro Tools could redeem it. But I loved the portability and crazy-simple way it allowed me to shoot basic … I repeat basic … footage.

Two-and-a-half years later, I bought my first iPod. I say “first” because some of you are on your “nth” generation models.

I figured out how to load my favorite tunes but I also found myself shooting more video than downloading music. The fifth-generation Nano is the first to include a video camera and it’s about 4 times smaller than my Flip. Can you say ultra portable?

But what about quality?

Well digital journalism guru Mindy McAdams, in a recent post on her blog and YouTube channels, tested the Nano in several settings. She documented lighting conditions and reviewed sound quality. I was impressed.

McAdams’ testing was exclusively on the Nano. Here are others that compare the Nano to the Flip and pocket video cameras.

Technically speaking …

It shoots standard-definition, 640×480 VGA video in MPEG-4 format and does not include the full range of video editing features you’d get on the iPhone 3GS.

The microphone is omni directional.

Features useful to journalists include …

  • Small video file sizes
  • Small physical size (3.6 in x 1.5 in [90.7 mm x 38.7 mm)
  • Eight hours of video storage
  • Low cost (about $150)
  • Extremely wide-angle lens

Nothing replaces an HD video camera, but in a pinch, I’d recommend this portable – not perfect – alternative.

It fits in any pocket – even in my “skinniest” jeans. Of course I dare not sit down lest I crush the thing. But that’s beside the point.

Face it. When it comes to breaking news, the fifth-generation Nano can mean the difference between having video and not.

So, if you find yourself smack in the middle of breaking news while listening to your favorite tunes on the subway, bus, or walking down the street, I’d strongly suggest you take those ear buds out and start shooting.

You can contact Sheala directly at sdurant@medialign.org or via Twitter at Twitter.com/medialign

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Posted in Uncategorized

Best of NABJ Digital: What Would You Do with Apple’s Nonexistent iTablet?

Editor’s note: we are taking this week off to enjoy the holidays with our families.  So this week, we’ll be re-running past posts.  Today’s post is from DJTF member and student Bliss Davis, who offers up ideas on how to use the still-secret Apple iTablet.  It originally ran on Nov. 24.  Enjoy!

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

Best of NABJ Digital Blog-Friday Fast Five

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

Editor’s note: we are taking this week off to enjoy the holidays with our families.  So this week, we’ll be re-running past posts.  Today’s post is our Friday Fast Five, which offers up  5 items of interest dealing with changes/news/tools/tricks in the business of new media and journalism.  This one comes from an Oct. 30 post.  Enjoy!

  1. Five Wickedly Clever Ways to Use Twitter:  I know journalists continue to debate on whether it’s worth their time to use Twitter as a tool.  I am one that does use Twitter as one of several tools to help me in my job.  This list offers other possibilities.
  2. TV Stations Start Broadcasting to Mobile Gadgets:  The New York Times has a story about the Open Mobile Video Coalition, which has completed a standard that now allows television to broadcast live on cell phones.  Yes, you can watch TV on Verizon phones, but those are just clips.
  3. How Alfred Hitchcock can make you a better storyteller:  You know I’m a BIG fan of Mark Luckie’s 10,000 Words blog, and he strikes gold again with this post.  It’s also a bonus for those of us who are Hitchcock film fans, like me.
  4. Top 30 Best Tools for Writing Online:  I am always looking for the latest tool to help me along with the writing process, and this post has some great suggestions in categories including word processing, blogging, microblogging, jotting ideas, social networking and job search.
  5. How to integrate your social media presence:  I started on Facebook and Twitter before I really thought about how I wanted to use them.   Which is why I really like the tips in this blog post from Mary Ellen Slater.
Posted in Social Media

Global is the New Local (Part 1): Using Social Media To Bring World’s Weather Down To Earth

By Andrew Humphrey, CBM
Founder and Co-Chair, NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force

Digital technology and the internet has been hailed as a door opener for independent storytellers – young and old, rich and poor, novice and professional – to tell their tales to a worldwide audience.  Theses same online tools empower employed journalists just as much.  Correspondents at local stations can speak to a global audience about local news or use information from anywhere on the planet and explain its local relevance or both.

From WDIV-TV in Detroit, I recently used social media to tap into my global network for information, incorporated it into my “local” weathercast, and used livestreaming to communicate my weather story back to my local and global viewers.

Last Labor Day Weekend, the weather in the Motown Area was gorgeous!  It was sunny and in the upper 70s or near 80 each day.  On the morning of September 5th, I sent out this Facebook message:

Andrew Humphrey Where are you? What’s your weather? I can mention it on Local 4 News Morning on TV and http://bit.ly/13uvAb between now and 8am ET (Now – 12pm GMT).
September 5 at 6:57am

I expected my usual responses from my fellow Detroiters, but the first reply was from someone outside of the city, state, nation and continent.  It was from South America and it was this:

Dan Kubiske Brasilia. Cloudy with thunderstorms on the horizan. It’s about 28C right now (8am Atlantic time) going to 31C. But then again we are leaving winter and heading for summer.
September 5 at 7:01am

My primary audience is in Detroit and Southeast Michigan, and they understand the English measuring system.  Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, is over four thousand miles away from Detroit.  28 degrees Celsius is equivalent to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and 31 degree Celsius is about 88 degrees Fahrenheit.  What does this have to do with the Motor City’s weather forecast?  How would I use this in my presentation and keep it relevant to my local viewers?

I decided to use the comparison between a northern American city with a tropical location as a holiday destination and Detroit’s exquisite weather to my advantage.  It may have already been warmer in Brasilia, but it was raining and worse, more dangerous weather was imminent there.  So I went on the air and essentially said, “I heard from my Facebook friend in Brasilia and it will be in the 80s there.  However, it’s cloudy and he’s expecting thunderstorms.  Most people think of leaving Detroit for the tropics for a holiday weekend, but this weekend the best place to be is in Detroit because it will be warm with sunshine all weekend.”  Contrasting Brasilia’s weather to Detroit’s takes international information and makes it local.

In addition, my secondary audience is global because of my station’s website, ClickOnDetroit.com.  We livestream our news program on it.  The abbreviated link (http://bit.ly/13uvAb) in my original message as the address to that online transmission.  Therefore, my social media contributors (e.g., Facebook friends) can watch and listen for their name, city and weather observations (i.e., news information).  This simultaneously accomplishes the goal of achieving growing my station’s online audience and potentially making any news or information relevant to them.

This experience proved to me how connected each person is to everyone on Earth and how local stories are related to global ones and vice versa and thus can be shared with the world at the same time.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Musing on the Future of Media for Journalists of Color

By Mike Green, freelance journalist and former Web Editor for the Dow Jones Local Media Group

What is the future of media? It’s an important question to answer if the National Association of Black Journalists plans to establish a firm foothold that continues to help Black media professionals develop and thrive in an uncertain media industry that struggles to see where its going.

There are entrepreneurs currently building the roads upon which media will likely travel. And they are getting the funding that isn’t coming our way.  These are folks building the next platforms upon which communities, small and large, will communicate and interact daily. Media will use these platforms to reach communities of subscribers.  Here’s a link to a variety of brand new platforms currently generating a feeding frenzy of millions in investment capital.

These platforms will dictate how media will reach consumers in the near future. Think of AOL, MySpace and Facebook as platforms upon which numerous opportunities can be built to connect with the base subscribers.  The iPhone is a piece of hardware, yet still another platform that spawned an industry of applications designed specifically to reach the customer base of the iPhone. The resulting deluge made the iPhone a more valued commodity.

Kindle is a platform as well. And it also has future rivals already. The New York Times is a media organization, yet recognized the need to establish itself in the platform industry. So it built a platform upon which its readers could receive the Times according to the trends in consumer behavior.  See this video for a mind-blowing demonstration of what’s coming:

Future platforms are certainly going to dictate how consumers communicate with one another. And when media seek to reach those consumers, consideration to the platform will be high on the list of priorities.  Content is king among media. But the most valued commodity online is COMMUNITY. And communities value connections to friends, families and co-workers. In other words, the current trend today is building communities via platforms that establish easy connections.

NABJ is a community. So is the Black Press. HBCUs are as well. Sororities and fraternities also have communities. Yet, who is developing the platforms by which these communities can all come together?

BET established a community. Then it was bought out by White investors.  AOL Black Voices did it. It, too, was bought out. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m saying it’s an indicator that the most valuable commodity is the platform upon which communities are built. And while we’re creating cool content, the road to power, influence and control runs through community platforms.

When we speak of expanding our scope to include ownership of media that carries the content we produce, it seems prudent that we recognize and take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the trends. And right now, angels and venture capital firms (some of the most well established and well-known) are investing buckets of cash into new media platforms that establish targeted communities.

Are there any entrepreneurs in Black America building such platforms? If there were, would they have access to capital? Would we assist them? Could we assist them?  Are there Black investor networks? If so, can they be shared in this forum, or are they secret societies? Or perhaps we’ve identified a missing rung in the ladder to success?

Can NABJ play any role at all in developing an in-house resource of knowledge and networks that can help Black entrepreneurs whose ideas may impact the media industry?  Some nonprofits do play such roles. Here’s one in Canada:  http://naoangelinve stor.wordpress. com/ Angelsoft.net is the most prominent U.S. investor network for entrepreneurs that I’ve heard of.

Posted in Uncategorized

Transitioning from writing for print to writing for the web

By Melanie Eversley, Rewrite Reporter at  USA Today, DJTF Treasurer

The internet has dramatically changed journalism and chances are you’ve had to make the transition from writing for print to writing for the web – or, at least, you might be curious about it.

Good writing is good writing. But because the web is so immediate and because it widens your audience, it changes a few little details.

I’ve never worked for a wire service, but I’ve spent lots of years relying on the wires and reading them for my work. I think writing for the Internet is most like writing for the Associated Press (wire colleagues feel free to pipe in if you don’t agree — smile). Here’s why:

Stories are written, for the most part, in the inverted pyramid style. You’ll want your most important information at the top, winding down to the bottom, where you’ll put your least important information. This is because there are going to be many readers who might only see the first couple of graphs of your work. The homepages of websites often use programs that feature, say, only the headline and first two sentences of each news story. This might be all some harried person flying through a train station gets to see of your story. Try to sharpen your writing skills so that you can get the key elements into those first sentences. Save your lengthier anecdotal leads for print.

Your story is constantly changing. If it’s a story about a sniper, your death toll might rise, the police will gradually release more information about the suspect, neighbors and coworkers will step forward to fill in the blanks about the suspect’s personality. If it’s a story about Supreme Court arguments, earlier versions will lay out all the players, what organizations they represent, what’s behind their thinking. A later story might feature the decision and how it’s going to change the landscape of some part of American culture. If you’re working for a newspaper website, the basis for your story will be what is published in the newspaper early that morning, but then, it will change and evolve throughout the day. Be flexible as your lead and even the theme of your story changes. Always force yourself to look ahead, anticipate what might be coming down the line and the direction in which any of these changes might take your story. This all will help you stay on your toes.

Outside of these considerations, here are some other issues to consider too when writing for the web:

Writing a good, compact lead is crucial. When you’re writing for print, you can afford to take the extra space further below your lead to explain why a reader should care about a particular item, or why it’s significant given the context of history or a string of events. In writing for the web, practice trying to get that element into your very first sentence. Here’s an example of a good lead by John Fritze of USA Today on a story about the advance of the health care bill:

Despite fierce Republican opposition and the lingering effects of a major Northeast snowstorm, Senate Democrats cleared a critical vote on a 10-year, $871 billion health care bill early this morning, steering the proposal toward approval on Christmas Eve.

Even someone who has not been following the movement of this legislation can figure out from this sentence that this was a major accomplishment because it happened “despite fierce Republican opposition,” that the bill itself is significant since it will affect Americans’ lives for 10 years, and can sense the drama in the negotiations as lawmakers, fresh from surviving a major snowstorm, prepare for a climactic vote on Christmas Eve. Even more importantly, it includes up-to-the minute developments on the bill’s advancement.

If you’re writing for a newspaper website, you’re probably monitoring what other sites are reporting. Fierce competition and the immediacy of the web might prompt you to try to be first at all costs. You’ll find that there are many sites out there in the race that might not use the standards for sourcing and verification that we might like. On the day that late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio was reported to have suffered a brain hemorrhage, several news organizations reported that she had died, then had to retract that about a half hour later (she actually died later). News organizations had gotten the word from reputable Democratic officials who’d heard from Democratic leadership — certainly not shaky sources. But the incident showed just how careful we need to be in this world of immediate journalism in making sure our sources are the people who would know. These days, it’s more important than ever to resist the urge to rely on widely reported but unverified information. Only print what you’ve verified yourself.

And finally, it may bother you to think of the web in such formulaic ways, but this is the reality — people will use keywords to search for your story via search engines, and because of this, it’s best if you can get any of the obvious keywords in your headline and/or lead. Save the pithy, poetic headlines and leads for print. Even better, if you can be pithy, poetic AND manage to use the obvious keywords, you’ll have a winner.

Happy writing and happy holidays!