Teaching Examples

Look at all those cameras (and video editors)
February 26, 2007, 8:26 pm
Filed under: journalism, newspapers, online, video

Watch this Apple Profile of washingtonost.com — do you think your print journalism courses or programs need to merge with broadcast news?

No way.

(Tip o’ the hat to my colleague John Freeman for the link.)

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Good audio: Homeless in New Jersey
February 26, 2007, 7:55 pm
Filed under: audio, online, photojournalism, slideshows

The New York Times produced this first-rate slideshow with audio:

Homeless in Suburban New Jersey

This is one of those great examples when hearing the subjects speak in their own voices makes a huge difference.

They used their own Flash template, not a Soundslides. Reported by Kareem Fahim. Photos by Tyler Hicks. Producer: Juliet Gorman.

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Looking for a journalism grad school
February 23, 2007, 1:28 pm
Filed under: education, journalism, journalists

I hope some of the readers of this blog can lend a hand and provide some advice to another reader, who is looking for a graduate program to supplement her journalism skills. Here’s what she wrote in the comments:

Right out of college, I jumped into journalism and spent five years as a public radio and daily newspaper reporter. Now I’m taking a break and traveling, since I don’t see a future in the traditional print newsroom. I know I can get a job, but with staffing cuts and the constant elimination of important beats, I think I’m unlikely to find a job I want. So after this long preface, I’m wondering — do you know of good journalism programs (preferably in the northeast) that focus on skills necessary for online and freelance reporting? I am hopelessly short on these skills and finally, after years of denial, I’m convinced I need them.

I know of several schools where she can beef up her online skills — but what about training for the life of a freelancer? Another reader (commenting on the same post here) wrote:

Small business entrepreneurship and management is the other new toolkit J schools are leaving out. As journalism is decentralized and more reporters work as free agents, it’s not enough to manage a “career” working full time for others; most journalism jobs will be outside the corporate firewall.

So you’ll need to know all those non-editorial skills: how to be a business person, how to market yourself and your work product, how to build and sustain professional networks, budgeting, professional service bookkeeping, buying health benefits, intellectual property licensing and contract law basics, liability insurance, supervision and team building, the laws of reporting in international jurisdictions.

In this new world, aren’t these survival skills?

Any suggestions? Please post in the comments, or e-mail me privately.

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Sports blogs: What up?
February 23, 2007, 12:56 am
Filed under: blogs, journalism, online, sports

So probably we should keep an eye on Deadspin, if this list of The 20 Most Influential [men, apparently]: [In] Online Sports is any indication of who’s who in sports journalism online. (Wow, Neal Scarbrough went to AOL? Happened in May.)

I went Googling around for sports blogs for a short while. I scanned though The Big Picture, which has a long interview right now with Dan Steinberg, a Washington Postie who writes the D.C. Sports Bog. It seemed pretty interesting — although that is quite hard for me to judge, as the only sports I care about are the Summer Olympics, the Tour de France, and any championship that has Gators in it. This probably explains why I don’t understand why anyone would read SportsBlogs Nation — I don’t mean any disrespect; it’s just that I don’t see the appeal. (CNet wrote a good article about SBNation back in January.)

What I do know is that sports fans tend to be fanatic about certain newspaper columnists — this is nothing new. It stands to reason that a sports columnist might take to blogging like a duck to water. But would that be true for any sports columnist? I’m clearly not the right person to ask.

In a recent post, Trevor Born of TwinsJunkie.com assessed the skills of a bunch of Minneapolis Star Tribune sports bloggers:

Over the past few months, the Star Tribune has made a blogging interface on their website — and it has turned out to be a great decision. The writers who have decided to blog themselves have made it work by actually putting in the time to write everyday, in addition to their hectic writing-for-print schedules.

It all basically proves that they know a lot more about their sports than a lot of people would like to give them credit for, and in addition they have access to things no on-his-couch blogger could ever dream up.

This is good news — I think. What led me to this topic (obviously way outside my area of expertise) is the idea that certain things can be “owned” by a newspaper. Traditionally, the columnists who follow the hometown teams would fall into that category. Nobody outside Minneapolis is going to follow the Twins as well as the local sportswriters do, yes?

Well, here’s the question about SportsBlogs Nation: Could it turn out to be a Craigslist for sports columns? If not SBNation, then maybe AOL Sports’ FanHouse. Because you don’t necessarily need the local newspaper. You just need a local, devoted fan who can write well.

Deadspin doesn’t look to be that kind of threat at all. It’s got a little basketball, a little NASCAR, and little golf … not the kind of team devotion that you see in a local sports column. And yet, it reportedly attracts 1 million unique visitors a month. Go figure.

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I want this (video) camera
February 22, 2007, 11:00 pm
Filed under: online, video

My colleague Craig sent me the info about a new mojo camera from Canon, the PowerShot TX1:

  • 7.1 effective Megapixel CCD
  • F3.5-5.6, 10X optical zoom lens, equivalent to 39 – 390 mm
  • Optical image stabilization (lens-shift type)
  • Flip-out, rotating 1.8″ LCD display with 115,000 pixels
  • Records movies at 1280 x 720 (30 fps) with stereo sound until 4GB file size is reached (which takes 13 minutes) … camera can capture “high resolution” still shots while recording
  • Switch on camera body moves between 4:3 and 16:9 shooting
  • Component video output supports resolutions up to 1080i
  • Uses SD/SDHC/MMC memory cards
  • USB 2.0 High Speed supported
  • Priced at $499

Canon PowerShot TX1
Release date: April 2007, according to Canon.
Dimensions: Can’t find ’em, but Canon says it’s the same size as an ELPH. My ELPH (SD700 IS) is 3.5 in. x 2 in. x 0.75 in.

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Esquire online: Yawn
February 22, 2007, 9:48 pm
Filed under: magazines, online

From Ad Age, Feb. 21:

Esquire today became the first of Hearst Magazines’ big books to receive a much-needed web facelift, adding larger photos, easier navigation, an improved search engine and, of course, new online-only content.

I don’t know what it looked like before, but this is pretty boring. The design is clean enough, but heck, even the so-called Web exclusives are just text.

Does anyone know of a really good online rendition of a print magazine, other than Seed? Yeah, NatGeo is good, but very incomplete.

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Multimedia package: Liberians in Minnesota
February 20, 2007, 2:13 pm
Filed under: design, journalism, multimedia, online, storytelling

Just out from the Star Tribune, which produces some of the best online journalism stories anywhere, this large package about immigrants from Liberia points the way toward improving journalism interface design.

Now, the story is excellent, and there’s great reporting here, and stunning photography too. The audio sequence in the intro Soundslides just blew me away, and the videos of the people living in Minnesota successfully show us what life is like for these immigrants. But in this post, I’m going to focus on the interface.

Why? Because so often, the interface for a big online story package makes a mess of everything.

This package is a rare exception. I know the credit goes to a whole team of folks working at the Star Tribune — many of them have been doing this for six or seven years or more. The experience shows in this package. Here are three things I particularly liked:

  1. Full window treatment: No pop-up at the start, and no added pop-ups later. The exceptions are a Star Tribune editor’s blog post about the story (opens in a new full window; comments are invited here, which is a very clever idea) and an external link to a PBS site (the package incorporates video from a 2002 documentary that originally aired on PBS — in itself a very interesting aspect of this package).
  2. The pull-down menu in the upper left corner works very gracefully, hiding itself automatically after you select something. It also opens sub-sections well. While at one point I thought I would not be able to tell which section I was currently in, as soon as I opened the menu to go somewhere else, I realized that the menu itself showed me clearly which section I was in. This made it easy to choose a new section without confusion.
  3. Perhaps my favorite thing — in the interface — is the integration of the text stories. This is absolutely brilliant. Just look at this solution to the all-too-common problem of “my multimedia and my long-form text are totally divorced from each other.” It’s an HTML page. Yet it is fully integrated with the multimedia package. Without being clumsily embedded inside it. I bet Dave Braunger came up with this — it’s such a brilliant solution, and Dave has the ActionScript know-how to pull this off. There are no extra windows. You go from the multimedia package to the HTML page and back again in one window, seamlessly. I want to fly out to Minneapolis and kiss the people who built this!

The design of this package — both visual and functional — is a milestone in multimedia journalism. It is the most successfully integrated online journalism package I have ever seen. I know that sounds all technical and cold, but it’s really a cause for emotional celebration. Here is a model for everyone — if you’re going to invest this much time and effort in reporting such a story (and I love it that it’s local, local, local), then THIS is the way to put it online.

And for heaven’s sake, DON’T change the URL!

(If you hit the registration wall at the Star Tribune site, get a free login from Bugmenot.)

Update (11:23 a.m.): Oh. My. Gosh. It sets a cookie for you. It remembers where you left off. Go to a segment. Close your browser. Open the browser again and return to the package. You will be in the last segment you were viewing! (Dave!!!)

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