Online Journalism

Entries from February 2011

Tech blog item #5: STAR workshop #1 Zotero 101

February 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech blog item #5: STAR workshop #1 Zotero 101

Zotero is a free program provided by the Firefox database that captures, stores and organizes a variety of information resources.  It is a program that helps create your own reference library.  The STAR workshop that I attended helped enhance my skills in citing sources and also in finding a new way to create a bibliography.  The workshop was taught by Allison O’ Connor, a history professor here on campus.

The points made in this workshop was that Zotero allows users to:

  • easily manage bibliographic data
  • add notes and highlight important information in digital form
  • insert citations and bibliographies into Microsoft Word or Open Office documents, using a number of citation styles
  • create and export bibliographies from your bibliographic data in numerous styles

This workshop was taught using the George Mason University library catalog and database.  The main points in the lecture were as follows:

  • Manually adding records
  • Capturing data from the web
  • Using library catalogs
  • Using databases
  • Using website citations
  • Organizing information in Zotero
  • Adding notes in citations
  • Searching and indexing
  • Adding and editing a bibliography

In this program, the process of citing a source using a given source style is made easier.  It is usually just needed to right-click on the cited item or items, then to “Create bibliography”, and the citation will be copied to the user clipboard, thus ready to paste.

The bottom line of this workshop was to show a new and creative way to cite sources and to create your own reference library.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Chapter 7 Summary: Making Audio Journalism Visible

February 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Chapter 7 Summary: Making Audio Journalism Visible


H4n Digital Recorder






Audio  Journalism:                                                                                                                 

  • “Painting sound pictures for listeners is a skill that takes practice.”
  • Digital tools make audio easy for one person to master
  • People often listen to audio journalism while commuting or spending time alone
  • “An audio journalist can create a more intimate and personal relationship with the listener and take advantage of that”

Why audio journalism is important: “it is the dominant form of information distribution on The Next Big Thing in Journalism: mobile journalism“ 

Characteristics unique to audio journalism: 

  • Presence:  being on location boosts credibility + interest
  • Emotions:  message enhanced by tone of voice, expressions, intonation + pauses
  • Atmosphere:  natural sound pulls listener in close

By combining voice-overs, natural sound and sound effects (for transitions), you build a multidimensional story. 

How news organizations use audio: 

  • Reporter overview: quick, simple audio overviews by reporters that accompany their newspaper articles
  • Podcasts: regular episodes on a selected subject help build an audience
  • Audio slide shows: adding audio to images creates richer, more compelling stories
  • Breaking news: Briggs says with free services like, a reporter can file a quick audio report from anywhere by mobile phone, to be published on a Web site; has since been purchased by

Get started with audio — plan and prepare: 

  • Recording interviews: interview can be used as a stand-alone audio file with a news story, a podcast, a stand-alone audio file for a blog post, and an audio to accompany a photo slide show  
  • Choose your location: best to record interview face-to-face in quiet place with good accoustics; if outside, stay as far away as possible from traffic and crowds; if phone is only option, try to keep interview focused, then edit down to most notable points  
  • Gather natural sound: record natural sound in uninterrupted 15-second increments without anyone talking; helps describe setting; can be used in editing
  • Prepare your subject so you’ll both be clear on the basics
  • Watch what you say: keep quiet while subject is talking; use nonverbal clues, like nodding, to let them know you’re listening and understanding
  • Try delayed recording: conduct interview, then ask subject to speak again about a couple of the most notable points while you start recording
  • Mark the best spots: where the speaker said the best stuff; saves lots of time back at the office

Click here to view the embedded video.

Doing voice-overs: 

  • Write a script: use short, simple declarative sentences and a compelling hook; put best quote up front; avoid long words; allow some moments of silence 
  • Warm up: stretch muscles in face and mouth + hum or sing; facial muscles and vocal cords need to be ready to perform
  • Find operative words:  usually who-what-where-when-why-how words; use changes in volume, pitch, rhythm and tempo to emphasize them
  • Keep it conversational

Gear up and get out there: 

  • Choose a digital recorder: consider recording quality, digital file format and compatibility with your computer, ease of use and ease of transfering files; consider only recorders that have external inputs for mic and headphones
  • Start interviews by asking, while the recorder is running, “OK if I tape this?”
  • Record with your computer:

              1. File name: use a standard file-naming convention; create new folders by 

                  year or month for more organization 

              2. Format: record in WAV format so files are uncompressed + of the 

                  highest quality; can convert to MP3 once they’re edited for publishing on 

                  the Web 

              3. Input/mic level: make sure software is set to capture data via microphone 

                  input; set microphone level to about 70 percent

  • Use an external mic:

             1. Standard mic with a cord: helpful if interviewing more than one person at a time or if you want to include your own voice on the audio clip; best way to gather natural sound 

             2. Wireless or lavalier mic: most helpful in the field to capture the voice and words of one person  

  • Use headphones: plug in and listen while you record to be sure you’re recording good audio
  • Prepare before you go out: test everything before trying to use it on assignment; be prepared for worst-case scenarios

Editing digital audio: goal is to record with highest quality possible, then edit files before compressing to publish and distribute online 

  • Understand digital formats:

             1. Different formats use different codecs that create specific types of files which work only on specific players or devices 

             2. Goal should be to provide audio clips for your audience in MP3 format because virtually any computer can play an MP3 and MP3 strikes the best balance between high quality and file size 

  • Get ready to edit: many basic programs are free, like Audacity
  • Try advanced editing techniques:

             1. Fade: gradual increase or decrease in audio level 

             2. Cross-fading: one track level increasing while another decreases 

             3. Establishing music: set tone with song clips 

             4. Segue: smooth transition from one track to another 

             5. Transition: smooth and natural connection of different tracks 

Start podcasting (iPod + broadcast): 

1. Podcasting — the distribution of audio files over the Internet using RSS subscription 

2. Files can be downloaded to mobile devices or played on pcs 

3. Podcast usually features one type of “show,” with new episodes available either sporadically or at planned intervals 

  • Vodcasting (video + podcasting): podcasting with video files
  • With iTunes, finding and listening to podcasts is simple:

            1. Click the Podcasts link in the left menu, then click Podcasts directory on the bottom of the screen 

            2. Search by category or by most popular 

            3. Click Subscribe and it will automatically update when there’s new content

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Tech blog item #4: Mark Potts’ “10 Tips For Suddenly Unemployed Journalists”

February 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech blog item #4: Mark Potts’ “10 Tips For Suddenly Unemployed Journalists”

When browsing through a blog, is there anything better than coming upon an article that gives you tips on finding another journalism job?  Well, that’s what you get when coming upon Mark Potts’ “Recovering Journalist” blog.  Since there are plenty of journalists who are out of work, Potts thought it was necessary to speak for them all and give them tips.

As Potts says, “nothing can immediately take away the pain and anxiety that you’re feeling, but hopefully these will help you understand that your situation is not unique and that you’ll be able to get through this.”  This is some great advice.  Here are the 10 tips for suddenly unemployed journalists.

  1. Don’t freak out
  2. Get your finances in order
  3. Apply for unemployment
  4. Network like crazy
  5. Get on Facebook and LinkedIn
  6. Expand your new media horizons
  7. Start a blog
  8. Look beyond journalism for your next job
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  10. Take a deep breath

Each of these tips are pretty straight forward.  Potts’ key is patience, for unemployed journalists will find their way back into the media spotlight soon.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 7: Making Audio Journalism Visible

February 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 7: Making Audio Journalism Visible

“Reporters and journalism students must stop thinking about sound as an exclusively radio format and adopt it as a reporting tool that can be learned and used to effectively deliver information to readers or listeners.” -Jim Stovall

Audio journalism, very simply and obviously put, is getting journalism out through the means of audio. Audio allows the listener to use their mind to paint their own picture of the situation. It’s a more personal experience and audio journalists can create an intimate relationship with the listener. Finding a way to connect with them.

But WHY is it important? According to Hogh, these characteristics are special to audio;

  • Presence: Bring your readers to the story.
  • Emotions: Pauses, tone of voice, expressions can enhance the message.
  • Atmosphere: Natural sounds of life.

These three things alone can produce a personal perception of any given event.

Here are four ways to use audio in one’s reporting:

  • Reporter overview: Audio overviews in addition to one’s article.
  • Podcasts: Frequent episodes on a particular topic.
  • Audio slideshows: Makes pictures richer and more telling.
  • Breaking news: Publish quick audio soundbites immediately.

So what else does one actually use it for? According to Briggs, here are two ways to use audio:

  1. Recording interviews: chose your location, gather natural sound, prepare your subject, watch what you say, try delayed recording, and mark the best spots.
  2. Doing voice-overs: write a script, warm up, find operative words, and keep it conversational.

Audio editing is a huge component to the audio process. Two FREE audio-editing programs are Audacity and JetAudio.

Audio journalism is a very important tool to every journalism and is showing a lot of promise. Therefore, get your audio on!


Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Tech blog item #2: Mark Potts’ “Recovering Journalist”

February 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech blog item #2: Mark Potts’ “Recovering Journalist”

Since this is the first of many blog items on Mark Potts’ “Recovering Journalist” blog, it’s necessary to go over the format that is distributed on his page.  First, there should also be a little background on who Mark Potts is and why I am blogging about his work.

Mark Potts has been a journalist for close to 20 years in both the traditional and digital field.  He has been around so long that he has written news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper.  From then to now, he has helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads.

Potts is also the co-founder of and hyperlocal pioneers and GrowthSpur.  He has served as editor of; and does product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies.

The page itself is set up in an “easy to read” format that captures the eye.  There are links, pictures and articles everywhere you look.  The left column includes the “about me” section, links to his recent posts, recent comments, links to different categories he discusses in his blog posts and even a calendar.

The middle of his page includes his articles, with pictures included that are appropriate to each article.  The right column of his page includes a link to his twitter page, essential reading and my favorite part of his page, tips to read that are meant for other journalists who have been laid off.  The articles are entitled “1o Tips For Suddenly Unemployed Journalists” and”Life After Journalism,” both intelligent pieces.

I can only say so much about his blog.  The rest of the page is meant for you to browse and look at, while I’ll be blogging about his posts later on.  Keep in mind what Potts does; his blog layout and articles are helpful for your own blog and future blogs.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 7: Making audio journalism visible

February 27th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 7: Making audio journalism visible

Briggs points out that with just a microphone, recorder and free software, you can create full-featured segments that sound like radio episodes and distribute them as podcasts to build a loyal audience.  This is what this chapter is all about: audio journalism.

So why is audio journalism important? Capturing in words a story’s particular sights and sounds has always posed a challenge for every reporter.  Since it has been a challenge, reporters have used cheap digital audio recorders to make things easier.  With these recorders, reporters bring readers even closer to the story by enhancing their reporting with audio clips.

Also, audio journalism has characteristics that can’t be matched by other forms of media:

Presence: On location, a reporter can literally bring readers to the story.  The simple fact of being there boosts credibility and interest.

Emotions: Tone voice, expressions, intonation and pauses–in the words of either the reporter or the sources–can enhance the message.

Atmosphere: Natural sound–the sound that’s naturally happening around you as you report–helps pull the listener in close.  Natural sound can be anything–weather sounds, crowd sounds, machine noises, etc.

Audio also offers numerous opportunities even to journalists just getting started:

Reporter overview: Newspapers like The New York Times routinely post quick, simple audio overviews by reporters that accompany their articles.

Podcasts: Regular episodes on a selected subject help build an audience but can be time-consuming and difficult to establish in the beginning.

Audio slide shows: Photojournalists have discovered the power of adding audio to their images to tell richer, more compelling stories.

Breaking news: With free services like, a reporter can file a quick audio report from anywhere by mobile phone, to be published on a Web site.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Great Search for Food (or Google) Lovers: Google with Recipe View

February 27th, 2011 · Comments Off on Great Search for Food (or Google) Lovers: Google with Recipe View

It seems like Google is never out of ideas to make Web-searching more interesting and intriguing. The following video shows how to use Google’s recent addition, Recipe View to search recipes for any keyword you type.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The search filter can narrow down the results with ingredients, cook time and even amount of calories per serving. I’m quite used to cooking for myself, but I never got to search for recipes to try new food by myself. As a big fan of Google, I am definitely going to try this one out!

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #5

February 27th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #5

When is an online comment defamatory?

If you post something libellous on Twitter about a local rival politician, and have only 30 followers, you can get sued. If you say something potentially libellous, using a pseudonym, on a UK newspaper site, with page views in the millions, you’re fine – that’s just “pub talk”.

  • While defamation, in the shape of slanderous and libelous comments, has been around for many decades, the problem has been exacerbated by the advance of the Internet as a reporting and social tool. While comments made in newspapers and even on the TV have a limited shelf life, those made on the Internet can remain on the website where they were first added as well as on other blogs and websites and even in the cache of search engines for many more years.

Fortunately, this same problem also leads to a possible resolution. While successfully trying an online defamation case can prove difficult, positive comments and good SEO can be used to beat defamatory comments by consigning them to lower search engine positions. This may not be an absolute solution but it can certainly help to rebuild character and improve online branding following a defamatory attack.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Five ways you can use Twitter for bloggers

February 27th, 2011 · Comments Off on Five ways you can use Twitter for bloggers


It’s been the buzz of the past few years. Now, that it has made it big, everyone is encouraged to jump on the bandwagon and get with it.  Here’s are the top five ways you can get in on the hype:

5. Interesting drives traffic

With Twitter, if you are smart, witty or cool enough, you will get a decent following of people who care what you have to say. So, as a blogger, you can host blog contests or ask your followers for advice, and they with so many followers, you are bound to get some traffic. The cool part is that if they care enough, they will spread the word as well by using the Twitter retweet feature. 

4. Be the expert

Whether it be politics, sports, fashion or food, become the expert in what you write about best. By picking a topic that you are passionate about, you will be established as the expert and would be able to answer questions via tweets, find new contacts and your credibility will grow.

3. Domino effect

When you have a Twitter account, you also probably have a Digg, StumbleUpon and Facebook account. By having a Twitter, you can direct your tweets to these various outlets as well and direct them to your blog posts.

2. And we are on…live!

Twitter lets you broadcast news live! Court cases, sport games and breaking news are all perfect scenarios for users to tweet what is happening. What’s better than sharing real-time information?

1. Talk to the experts when you are not sure!

Want to ask Mark Halperin a question? Look up to Lance Armstrong? Whoever it might be, Twitter gives each person a chance to build their name for themselves. Ask the experts questions about anything you want and don’t be afraid.

So, go establish a Twitter account now and blog your way to the top!

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Is the world obsessed with Facebook?

February 26th, 2011 · No Comments

The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo.

Tags: Facebook · social media