Teaching Examples

Which journalists should blog? And why?
May 31, 2007, 8:02 pm
Filed under: blogging, journalists

Howard Owens: Every journalist should blog

Bobbie Johnson: Why NOT every newspaper journalist should start a blog

Both links via Andy Dickinson.

Both Owens and Johnson make some excellent points, so probably you should read them both (neither one is very long) and mull it over.

My two cents: If you (a) want to blog, and (b) think you can post once a day, Monday through Friday, indefinitely — give it a whirl. Why not? It’s free. You already know how to write. Try it and see.

After a while, as you get into Technorati, FeedBurner, stats, etc., you’ll find out if you like it — and whether you are able to build an audience. If you can’t build an audience, give it up.

I require my journalism students to blog just so they can find out, firsthand, what it’s like to write every day. To try to find something meaningful to write about. Every day. To try to get people to pay attention to you. To plug into conversations and informal online communities. Some of them find out they really like it. Others discover the opposite. Some of them are terrible at it. Some take to it like little ducklings tossed into a pond.

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NPPA Multimedia Immersion
May 31, 2007, 7:40 pm
Filed under: multimedia, photojournalism

Everyone except me is at the NPPA Multimedia Immersion Summit. Good stuff there. Go look.

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Working smarter: Uses for Google Docs and Spreadsheets
May 30, 2007, 5:13 pm
Filed under: online, tools

I often run into journalists (and others) who have never heard of Google Docs and Spreadsheets. This free online software suite can really come in handy for a variety of situations.

Basically, it’s like having your MS Word documents and MS Excel spreadsheets online, but private and secure from prying eyes. Unless you choose to let someone else see them. And if you need to convert, either from Microsoft to Google or the opposite, that’s easy to do. Check the online Help files if you have any questions.

You will need a Gmail account, but I can hardly imagine that you wouldn’t already have one! (Still using Yahoo! mail? Good heavens, WHY?)

Here’s the latest thing I did with Google Docs that saved me a ton of time: I received a highly formatted MS Word file from a colleague. It had headings, italics, boldface, indents — all kinds of formatting, all over it. I had to put this thing on a Web page. I mean, I had to transfer the information to a Web-readable, proper HTML file.

The worst possible way to do it would be to copy from Word and paste into Dreamweaver. Because of the way MS Word works, this will carry all kinds of unnecessary and difficulty-causing code into your HTML — not at all what you want!

The usual way I would do it would be to copy from Word, paste into a plain-text editor, then copy from there, and paste into Dreamweaver. However, that method loses all the formatting. For a typical memo, this method works fine. For my super-duper formatted document, it would have meant hours of re-formatting.

Google Docs to the rescue!

I copied the document from Word and pasted into a new, blank Google Doc. Then I de-selected the text. And straight from the surface text (DO NOT view source), I copied, then pasted into Dreamweaver (Design view). Perfect! Headings, italics, boldface, indents — all preserved, in standards-compliant HTML.

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Keep your finger on the audience pulse
May 30, 2007, 4:43 pm
Filed under: audiences, blogging, metrics

Scott Kirsner of the San Jose Mercury News wrote about the inescapable fascination of keeping tabs on your readers (On the Web, audience size matters, May 27, 2007):

Andy Plesser, a public relations executive who publishes a video blog called Beet.tv, checks a Web page several times throughout the day that shows information about which other sites are sending visitors his way. “I look at it first thing in the morning, at the office during client calls, and before I go to sleep,” he says, via e-mail. “More alarmingly, I have it bookmarked on my BlackBerry, and I find myself hitting refresh repeatedly.” Plesser confesses to checking his stats even while he’s in the car commuting to work (only when it’s stopped, he insists).

Most people who have been blogging for more than, say, a month have — like Plesser — discovered the addictive properties of free stats software such as StatCounter, SiteMeter and Google Analytics. As Kirsner wrote, it’s “easy to see how readers are finding you — which other Web sites are linking to those popular posts — and to keep tabs on which posts generate the most comments from readers.”

It doesn’t matter if the audience is teensy-tiny — most bloggers will find their site stats irresistible.

[Guy] Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley author and entrepreneur whose blog, “How to Change the World,” shows up at No. 21 on Technorati’s list of the most influential blogs. He contends that all bloggers care about metrics, no matter how well-known or obscure. Via e-mail, he quips, “There are two kinds of bloggers: those that obsess about their Technorati rankings, and those that lie and say they don’t.”

I’m wondering whether the journalist bloggers (the ones who write a blog as part of their staff newsroom job) are fanatically checking their stats. I hope so!

(Found via the Social Media blog.)

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Photojournalism: A tough job getting tougher
May 29, 2007, 12:54 pm
Filed under: future, photojournalism

An article in the May/June issue of Digital Photo Pro magazine discusses changes in working life for photojournalists (pp. 118-126). Not only are audiences for print vehicles decreasing — even the top names in the business aren’t getting nearly as many freelance assignments as they used to.

The answer? Photojournalists must adapt.

The advice comes from Ed Kashi, who certainly could be put forth as a good example of adaptation.

What I learned from the article:

  • Most paid freelance work isn’t photojournalism; it’s shooting portraits.
  • The same magazine shooters who used to be able to count on $80,000 a year in fees would be lucky to pull in $30,000 today doing the same work (that’s from Dirck Halstead). This is partly because the photographer bears more of the costs of production — in time spent as well as software and equipment — in the digital world.
  • Brian Storm sees educating the buyers as “a big part of our job” at MediaStorm. Syndication online plays a key role, because online multimedia projects cost a lot to produce. The buyer gets limited exclusive rights to host a project; syndication revenues are split 50-50 between MediaStorm and the photographer.

Kashi remains hopeful and positive:

As editorial budgets and revenues shrink for print publications, Ed Kashi thinks, at some point, publishers are going to wake up and realize more people are looking at their Websites than their printed editions. Not that print is going to disappear, but as this shift continues, publications will have to redesign their infrastructure, including ad revenue and subscriptions.

“Once that happens, and it’s already happening,” Kashi says, “then hopefully I’d love to see the day when more publications are calling me, saying, ‘Hey, we’d love you to do this story or we’d love you to propose an idea, and multimedia is the main component of it. And, oh, yeah, we’ll also have a print part of it as well.'”

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Compact package combines video and infographics
May 29, 2007, 12:37 pm
Filed under: animation, graphics, journalism, multimedia, video

A nice story-as-graphic from USA Today:

The future of car safety is avoiding crashes

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound sexy. But it incorporates video and informative animations and text in a classy, clean layout, and it’s nice and big — but not TOO big. The three tabs at the top organize the story neatly.

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More blogging goodness in journalism
May 28, 2007, 12:49 pm
Filed under: blogs, journalism

Here are two spanking-new journalist blogs for you to sample.

Ron Sylvester of the Wichita Eagle writes the socks off just about about every other blogger in the known universe in Multimedia Reporter:

Stan grabbed a digital recorder and sat at my desk, which has a $17 phone recorder I’d picked up last year sometime. Stan called the director of public safety in Augusta, KS. He then passed me the recorder, like a baton in the multimedia relay, and headed out the door for the morning police briefing. Stan files more on-line stories before noon than most people in a day.

I used Audacity to edit the interview, trying to match up the descriptions with the pictures we had, and loaded it into Soundslides.

We had the slide show posted with Stan’s story by afternoon. Stan watched the show before he wrote, so he produce a story with minimal repeats that complemented the slide show. Once again, multimedia became the layers for the news.

From: Slide shows: They’re not just for photographers

The Inksniffer is written by a longtime newspaperman who goes by the nom de plume Sniffer Dog:

I go back to my Pew Research Center data, published this month in Editor and Publisher. In that data Culture and Arts (29%) is second only to local government (49%) in newspaper topics of most interest. Now it doesn’t say locally originated culture and arts, but you can’t differentiate if you don’t control, so I would have thought that a film critic, a central plank of credible cultural coverage, was worth hanging on to. Maybe ask her to broaden her beat a bit. But not completely lose her film reviews.

From: What one movie reviewer tells us about the critical condition of US newspapers

Read. Enjoy.

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