Teaching Examples

Three good things I read this week
June 29, 2007, 1:15 pm
Filed under: blogging, journalism, maps, online, video

Google Maps Is Changing the Way We See the World
Evan Ratliff, June 26, Wired magazine

Since Google relaunched the software in June 2005, the stand-alone Google Earth program has been downloaded more than 250 million times. The program’s seamless zoom-in feature has become ubiquitous on television news shows. And there are dedicated sites — such as Google Sightseeing and Virtual Globetrotting — built for scouring and saving odd and interesting finds from not only Google Earth but also competing 3-D globes like NASA’s World Wind and Microsoft’s Live Search Maps. Scientists, students, and government agencies use Google Earth layers to display their data to the public … (via Journerdism)

Quest for Maps, in which intrepid multimedia reporter Ron Sylvester relates his newsrooms forays into use of maps.

‘Get to a Newspaper,’ at Gangrey.com:

Dicker: “… You can take a look at these newspapers blogs. The bloggers seem to me, Pete, to be basically opinionated stenographers, writing basically for shut-ins. I can’t imagine who would spend their time reading these things except a very rarefied, small group of people.”

Hamill: “I don’t read them, because life is too short. But I advise the young journalist, don’t waste your talent on blogs. Get to a newspaper, no matter how small, where there’s an editor who will look at your copy and say this will be better if you do this. Go somewhere where you learn the craft. Most blogs are therapy. But they’re not journalism. People who write them, except for the professional propaganda blogs, are there for therapy.

“Writing for shut-ins”? Wow, where does that come from? So the 80-year-olds reading the printed newspaper — they are the vibrant lifeblood of society? And all you blog readers out there — you’re a bunch of lumps on a log, do-nothings, hardly worth consideration.

Just last week, I was e-mailing some student I’ve never met and telling him to start a blog rather than waste his time trying to sell his travelogues to established online media. It would be great to have the tutelage of a good editor, no doubt about it. But I have to wonder what your chances are, nowadays, of getting a good editor at a newspaper. Maybe there is a good editor, but will he or she have any time to work with you?

Plus, one really great list of resources and sites (from Mashable.com): Video Toolbox: 150+ Online Video Tools and Resources — I love/hate lists like this, because it will take me some time to explore all the leads! Lots of stuff here I haven’t seen before.

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Blog milestone: Visit No. 80,000
June 15, 2007, 12:25 pm
Filed under: audiences, blogging, blogs

Last night at 9:47 p.m. someone from the San Diego Union-Tribune made the 80,000th visit to this blog. Woo-hoo!

FeedBurner reports that I have 878 subscribers via RSS.

Visit No. 40,000 took place in March 2007, according to Site Meter.

Visit No. 20,000 — November 2006.

Visit No. 10,000 — Aug. 21, 2006.

Thank you all for reading. Let me know if there’s anything I’m missing. Comments always make my day.

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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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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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Thinking Bloggers
May 23, 2007, 12:08 pm
Filed under: blogging, blogs

David at Strobist kindly (I think) tagged me with the Thinking Bloggers meme. I am invited to post links to five blogs that make me think.

Well, it would be too simple to link to blogs that already appear in my blogroll, wouldn’t it? After all, the charge is not to list my favorite blogs, or the blogs with content most like my own. So here goes — and don’t expect to find a lot of multimedia or journalism in these blogs. But you might be surprised at how they make you think.

1. Mirá!
Julián Gallo’s blog comes from Argentina and is written in Spanish. Its subject matter is eclectic but usually includes at least one video per post. I see some of the coolest stuff here that I never see anywhere else! And it’s never “cool” like, “Ha ha, watch that kitten roll off the table!” Nope, it usually makes me think about new ways to do things visually.

2. Social Media
I’ve been reading intelligent commentary by JD Lasica since back in the pre-Web days when I hung out on The WeLL. He goes to more conferences than anyone else I know (maybe they just have more conferences out there in California) and reports all kinds of interesting bits and pieces from them. He often posts information related to journalism, press freedom, crowdsourcing and social networks.

3. Cinecultist (Crazy for Movies)
Sometimes I get all choked up when I read this blog because I used to live in New York and have access to all the international films and obscure independent movies and … Well, now (thanks to Netflix) it’s better than it used to be, but it’s still nothing like being CC, who just turned 30, and living in the real movie capital of the western world. Don’t expect any bland or trite reviews from Cinecultist. She doesn’t slack on movies from Hong Kong or Korea either.

4. The Storyteller
I’m going way out on a limb here, but I really do love this blog. Yasmin Ahmad is a Malaysian film director. She is very well known in Malaysia but not elsewhere, although her feature films have won several international awards. I read her blog because it encompasses her professional life — not her day job at a big advertising agency, but her true job as a storyteller. I also read it because she gets hundreds of comments that make me feel hopeful about Malaysia’s future.

5. xkcd
Okay, so it’s a comic, not a blog. Is that cheating? Randall Munroe is a science guy who works with robots, likes algorithms, and does stuff we don’t usually associate with journalism. He has a blog too, but I prefer the comic. It does, in fact, make me think. As an added bonus, it usually makes me laugh. (P.S. The current plot line started here.)

There you have it — five blogs that make me think. They don’t make my brain hurt, mind you! But they stretch my horizon beyond the little world of my work and my daily life.

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MVPs for April
May 15, 2007, 3:31 am
Filed under: blogging, blogs, graphics, interactive, journalism, online

Most visited posts on this blog from April 1 through May 1, according to Google Analytics and FeedBurner:

  1. What a hiring editor looks for (or, what’s your URL?)
  2. Why Al Jazeera English is blocked in the U.S.
  3. Allan Detrich resigns after photo fallout
  4. Best journalism schools in the U.S.
  5. HD video frame grabs for Page One

See past MVP lists for this blog.

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Photojournalism students catch blogging fever
May 8, 2007, 12:58 pm
Filed under: blogging, blogs, online, photojournalism, socialnetworks

Just the other day, in the midst of grading, I discovered that several among our current crop of photojournalism students have set up individual Blogger blogs and have been posting their work online:

A couple of things crossed my mind as I browsed their pictures:

This is a cool way for young photojournalists to stay in touch and show their work to one another. It extends the idea that inspired A Photo A Day, a photo site started by our grad Melissa Lyttle several years ago.

Would Flickr be a better way to manage this task? The reason I thought that is, on Flickr they could create private groups and show off the latest work more easily among themselves. They could also participate in the wider community of professional photographers on Flickr — for example, see the Global Photojournalism group or the Photojournalism & Photojournalists group. By tagging each photo specifically, they might end up getting paid work (possibly a slim chance on Flickr, but not unheard of). Here’s some great advice about how this works, from the Strobist blog.

Finally, a technical detail. If they are uploading their JPG files to Blogger (and they probably are), how will they transfer them to another site in the future? One option is to convert to WordPress (not right away, necessarily) — this support post explains that you can get the images out of Blogger once you have put them there.

I’m really happy to see our PJ students getting their work out there and sticking together. It’s one of the hallmarks of a great PJ program, that the students form ties that will probably last a lifetime, and also that they delight in seeing and critiquing one another’s work.

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