Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, News

Required? Required.

By Bliss Davis, Multimedia Journalist

Editor’s note: The Digital Journalism Task Force is joining with Knowledgewebb for a FREE webinar: 10 Steps to a Tech-Savvy You TODAY from  2:00-2:45 pm EST.  This webinar will outline the 10 steps — and critical websites, social networks and gear — to help you become more tech savvy. You’ll get complete notes as well as a primer on how to manage information overload.  The webinar is free, but you must register to attend. I hope you can join us!

I recently read an article about a private school in Tennessee that’s requiring students in grades 4-12 use an Apple iPad for class. This reminded me of several newsrooms I’ve heard about recently that are doing away with hard copy scripts and turning to iPads.

This sparked a debate at work about how much or little we need technology to function. A minimalist anchor bragged about his Motorola Razr and a meteorologist said she would be lost without her Apple iPhone 4. Regardless, based on the list of requirements for my own entry-level journalist job (a cell phone being one of them), communication is essential in an industry that’s centered on…communicating.

Now having a phone hasn’t done much for me, except be a mode through which my boss calls me in as needed, but in terms of our whole newsroom we got a look at how those with phones–specifically smartphones–won on January 24.

On my usual morning shift, shortly after our broadcast, our assignment desk suddenly got a lot louder than normal. For those in broadcast, you know exactly what I mean. Reports started coming in about several houses blowing up, with people calling in about major fires and the heavy smell of gas in the area.

Being too early to have our entire photog team in yet, they had to send anyone with a means of video recording any way they could. As a result, we were the first on the scene and the first with first-hand accounts of what was happening.  One of our own came back smelling terrible, but he got what he needed! He used his iPhone 4 and BlackBerry, and the anchor with the Razr had to admit he wouldn’t have gotten as far as our reporter did with his phone.

What our photog did wasn’t extraordinary in terms of how he used technology—it is 2011 after all—but it did speak to the faithful few who are holding on to older technologies. While we had the resources to be first with that story, we also could have just as easily been last.  Even the bare minimum can leave you out in the cold.

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist

Best of NABJDigital: Creating A “Hinge” Between Newsroom, Classroom

Editor’s note: we are off this week, so we’re re-posting our most popular columns.  This column, from contributor Bliss Davis, was originally published Aug. 18.

By Bliss Davis, Multimedia Journalist

I recently read an article about Allbritton Communications’ TBD.com news website and their partnership with American University’s School of Communication for interns, and another between NYU, which will run The Local East Village, a hyperlocal news site for the New York Times.
While the concept of gaining professional experience or familiarizing yourself with a profession isn’t news, it is welcoming to hear news of programs like this gaining ground.  Even NABJ recently broadened its converged student media newsroom to include a bootcamp-like for high school students as well as those in higher education.   All of these programs have something in common — namely having digital media as either a forefront or major component of their partnerships.
Even with these progressive programs, there is a huge gap in how much journalism students (especially those still in high school) are exposed to professional media.  Besides journalism, one of my passions is moving forward with a steady gaze on what’s behind me–for the second half of my college experience I taught journalism at an inner city high school.  The school needed journalism teachers and through a special grant project I was brought in along with a few others.  My primary reason for doing so was being from the inner city myself, and remembering how my high school’s journalism program was canceled from funding issues.
The joint grant initiative was a meager project and I am barely in the professional journalism realm myself, but our efforts paid off.  With the help of professionals and professors, several in the class graduated with a working knowledge of multimedia and a desire to become journalists themselves.
It is much too premature to rave about joint programs of course, but hopefully they take off in other forms.  Besides helping raise general interest in the world, there is a growing interest in using non-traditional platforms.  After getting their newspaper down the class in the grant program wanted to publish a digital version as well.  While still in the works, it will be interesting to see what they come up with in the coming school year.
Taking the focus away from the students, the only way for these hinge programs to continue to be successful depends on professionals who already know the ropes.  None if these programs  function without the help of someone already familiar with the industry and can only work with pros willing to get their hands dirty.
Posted in Education, journalism, multimedia journalist

What’s On Your Multimedia Christmas List?

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

Editor’s note: the next NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force event will be a BlogTalkRadio show entitled “Making The Transition From Journalism To PR.” Our panelists will share their experiences on making the move and answer questions on how to transfer your skills to the other side.  I hope you can join us on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

The holiday season is upon us.  I recently told my five-year-old daughter that she needed to make a list of things that she wanted for Christmas, with the caveat that she won’t get everything on that list.  That prompted me to start thinking what I’d like on my multimedia Christmas list.  In turn, that made me think what my fellow journalists would like to see in their Christmas stocking or on Kuumba (Creativity) day for Kwaanza.  So below, see the complete list, and I hope you get some great ideas to take your journalism to the next level in 2011!

Benét Wilson, National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force co-chair & Online Managing Editor, Aviation Week: I’m hoping Santa brings me a DSLR camera for Christmas. It’s time for me to take my photography to the next level, so I must retire my Fujifilm FinePix S800 (which they no longer sell). DJTF Vice President Serbino Sandifer-Walker brought her Olympus SP-800UZ to the annual conference in San Diego and I could not keep from playing with it.  I also was checking out Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists President Sarah Glover’s Canon Powershot G11 at the recent Online News Association conference.

Khallilah R. Beecham, student, University of Missouri School of Journalism: I’m a full-time journalism student at the Missouri’s School of Journalism and I need PhotoShop and iLife ’11 for my Graphic Design and Marketing classes next semester. I want this because I can’t afford it and it’s top of the line software. That would be thee BEST Christmas Present ever.

Mark S. Luckie, national innovations editor, Washington Post, creator, 10000 Words blog and author, the Digital Journalist’s Handbook: For Christmas this year I want an iPod Nano watch. I already have an iPod video, an iPad and an iPhone but a watch with a touch screen would be awesome. Plus, it’s very Dick Tracy.

Christopher E. Nelson, News Associate, NBC News and Co-Chair, NABJ’s Student Education Enrichment Development Committee: I’d like an iPad for the ability to have paperless notes, do research on the fly, and get both my morning and afternoon reading done. The ability to increase productivity, go green, and simply have less stuff to carry when out and about is a great thing for an enterprising journalist.

Bob Butler, Reporter, KCBS Radio & Vice President Broadcast, NABJ: For Christmas I want Adobe to make a version of the Audition audio editing software for the Mac. Right now I have to use Parallels to run Audition on my Mac. And it’s really slow.

Melanie Eversley, Digital Journalism Task Force treasurer, rewrite reporter for USA Today and freelance writer: I would like a new digital voice recorder to record my interviews because I spilled water on my last one and lost two years worth of interviews for a project (and had not transferred them to my computer). In looking at newer models (which have a lot more storage space, by the way), I see there are some with music players. That’s what I’d want.  And some of the better ones out there include: the Sony ICD-SX700 Digital Voice Recorder ($119,00);  Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder ($299.00); or the Olympus WS-331M Digital Voice Recorder and WMA Music Player ($129.00).

Marissa Evans, student, Marquette University and president of Marquette’s student NABJ chapter: I want Adobe CS5 Design Premium. I love InDesign and Illustrator, and I want to keep my skills up. This how can I start a publication one day and have the skills to layout MY vision on MY own!

Bliss Davis, multimedia journalist: Mine probably isn’t too high on anyone else list, but it would be nice to have CS5. I’m a bit spoiled in that I’ve always had it, or even a part of it, at my disposal through school or even a friend who had a program in the suite.

Theresa Crushshon, NABJ member and founder/CEO JASSed.com: I am looking forward to receiving CS5 for Christmas. I am really into animation and this is the latest software by Apple.

Sheala Durant, Senior Web Editor, Interactive Media/NEA Academy, National Education Association: I’d like a flat screen television with wi-fi so I can watch Apple TV.

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist

Creating A “Hinge” Between Newsroom, Classroom

By Bliss Davis, Multimedia Journalist

I recently read an article about Allbritton Communications’ TBD.com news website and their partnership with American University’s School of Communication for interns, and another between NYU, which will run The Local East Village, a hyperlocal news site for the New York Times.
While the concept of gaining professional experience or familiarizing yourself with a profession isn’t news, it is welcoming to hear news of programs like this gaining ground.  Even NABJ recently broadened its converged student media newsroom to include a bootcamp-like for high school students as well as those in higher education.   All of these programs have something in common — namely having digital media as either a forefront or major component of their partnerships.
Even with these progressive programs, there is a huge gap in how much journalism students (especially those still in high school) are exposed to professional media.  Besides journalism, one of my passions is moving forward with a steady gaze on what’s behind me–for the second half of my college experience I taught journalism at an inner city high school.  The school needed journalism teachers and through a special grant project I was brought in along with a few others.  My primary reason for doing so was being from the inner city myself, and remembering how my high school’s journalism program was canceled from funding issues.
The joint grant initiative was a meager project and I am barely in the professional journalism realm myself, but our efforts paid off.  With the help of professionals and professors, several in the class graduated with a working knowledge of multimedia and a desire to become journalists themselves.
It is much too premature to rave about joint programs of course, but hopefully they take off in other forms.  Besides helping raise general interest in the world, there is a growing interest in using non-traditional platforms.  After getting their newspaper down the class in the grant program wanted to publish a digital version as well.  While still in the works, it will be interesting to see what they come up with in the coming school year.
Taking the focus away from the students, the only way for these hinge programs to continue to be successful depends on professionals who already know the ropes.  None if these programs  function without the help of someone already familiar with the industry and can only work with pros willing to get their hands dirty.
Posted in Uncategorized

What’s the Buzz? Google Evolves Again

By Bliss Davis, Bowling Green State University Journalism Student

I remember when Google was simply the place you went to look up stuff.  I also remember when Gmail was in its invite-only phase a few years ago.   It has now officially entered the social media sphere with its latest launch: Google Buzz.  Technically, Google Wave was probably its first dabble with social media, but Buzz is more akin to classic social media, via its interface and use. With the introduction of the Nexus One smartphone in January and Google Buzz yesterday, it’s obvious Google has intentions on literally connecting people and information.

Google Buzz itself looks like a Facebook/Twitter hybrid. In fact it seems nearly identical to the News Feed feature on Facebook. Looking at Pete Cashmore’s (Mashable.com) profile it even reminds me of the original Facebook user interface. To get a real feel of Google Buzz though, (and actually be credible in this post), I set up my own Buzz profile.

If you already have a Gmail account, registering for Google Buzz is easy. I kept mine fairly skeletal in terms of the information I put on it since I won’t likely be using it regularly. Right off the bat I had a minor bone to pick with the registering process. If using your Gmail account Google Buzz only has two options to for personalizing your URL – your email name or a long set of numbers. In fact, Google even gives a warning that using your Gmail name as your Google Buzz account URL may present some security issues for you. I heeded this warning and chose the numbers option. Thankfully there is the option to allow people to contact you without revealing your email address in the URL.

Google Buzz has the typical features of a social media site plus some. Google and Mashable.com have the full list of features Buzz supports, including “@” replies to other users and automatic following. Shortcuts in Gmail will work in Buzz as well.

Overall, Google Buzz doesn’t seem to be too different from the host of other social media sites. I’m definitely keep an eye on it to see how it takes off. Because of its ability to pinpoint your location, it will likely become a mobile staple for those in urban areas. I can also see something like becoming especially useful for those who stay on the go.

For journalists it could be a new way to connect with colleagues. Twitter-like features found on Buzz could potentially be appealing to those who want to avoid Twitter, especially because you have the ability to connect with your professional contacts via email. Someone with an account specifically created to handle professional emails will find this useful for something like the annual convention. Logging in to find where your friends and colleagues are located can save you from wasted time and headaches. The possibilities are endless and I’m sure there are many more ways you could use Buzz to your professional advantage.

There is a host of info about Google Buzz, but I’ve yet to answer these questions: How does Buzz plan to hold up against Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare? What makes Buzz uniquely different and innovative?

In the meantime, I’ve set up my own Google Buzz page here:  http://www.google.com/profiles/116717906239529329371

Have you set up your own Google Buzz account? Do you plan on using Google Buzz in the future?  What other social media tools do you use to do your job?  Tell us about it in the comments section.  Thanks!

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

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.