Online Journalism

Chapter 6: Visual Storytelling with Photographs

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 6: Visual Storytelling with Photographs

“Show, don’t tell.”

Journalists are told of this phrase many, many times. Rather than describing the scene of news happening, it is better to find ways to take the audience to the scene. Photographs has been the most effective way to connect the audience with what the writer actually saw, and has evolved the most with the emergence of digital media. Nowadays, anyone can publish photos with just a few clicks — making the photojournalism more readily available to anyone.

However, equipments do not immediately make an amateur photographer a professional photojournalist. There are basics of how to operate the camera and how to work with the subject for the best outcomes.

Digital Photography

Tips for starters:

  1. Take as many pictures as you want
  2. Immediately see if the picture you just captured is what you wanted
  3. Upload the pictures and show to friends and family
  4. Edit the pictures — crop them, enhance them, toning them, etc.

– Pixel: Abbreviated form of “picture element”, pixel is the visual representation of data in a digital image or graphic

There are standard resolutions used in each medium. On computer screens, pictures are shown in 72ppi (pixels per inch), therefore the photos should be compressed to 72ppi to be uploaded on Web. Thus, printed newspaper uses 200ppi and glossy magazine uses 300ppi.

Ownership, Copyright and Fair Use

Photographs are easy to be shared digitally. They also can easily be infringed of copyrights. Basically, don’t steal. Images found on search engines such as Google or Yahoo may be protected by the fair use clause of the U.S. Copyright Law, but users must be aware that the search results are not limited in the U.S. Use Creative Commons to search images that are legally approved for the fair use.

Two Kinds of Digital Cameras

  • Point-and-shoot: Compact cameras that are easy to use and more affordable. Most of them are equipped with lens and flash
  • Digital SLR (DSLR): Professional-level cameras that are equipped with larger image sensors — up to 10 times larger than point-and-shoot cameras. Most of them can have lens and flash replaced. They are more expensive and more complex to use.

How to Use Digital Camera

  • Camera modes: Usually the camera is equipped with a dial to select camera modes such as the following: portrait, sports, landscape, low-light or automatic mode.
  • Zoom: Point-and-shoot cameras offer optical zoom and digital zoom and DSLR cameras use optical zoom. Digital zoom affects the image quality while the optical zoom does not.
  • Flash: There are usually automatic, red-eye reduction and manual modes. Flash can also be adjusted for the angle of the light.
  • View/delete: This function lets the photographer browse through the pictures that were captured and decide which to keep and which to not.

Lighting is the most important aspect in photography. There are three ways to provide lighting:

  1. With natural (or ambient) light only — guarantees the best image quality, especially in cloudy and partly sunny days.
  2. With flash only.
  3. In mix of natural light and flash.
    More CHIMP'in

    Image by Illusive Photography via Flickr

To take better photos, practice the following:

  • Hold the camera steady
  • Fill the frame — try to fit the head of the subject to the top of the frame
  • Focus on one thing — focus on the subject’s eyes to produce the sharpest portrait picture
  • Get closer — don’t be afraid to move all around the space to catch the best angle for the photograph
  • Go vertical — when the subject is vertically oriented, flip the frame to fit the subject
  • Shoot action — capture the action at the shutter speed of 1/500th second.

Mug Shots

Avoid flash and strong sunlight. Use the flash as the last resort. Pick the right, neutral background. Position the subject away from the walls. Make sure there is no pole-like subject “growing” out of the person’s head.

Working with Digital Photographs

Store them well. Always remember to backup your pictures to prevent loss in case of computer failure, bad memory card, etc.

Manage them well. Categorize your photos and store them in separate folders. It will make the photos quickly accessible when you need them, without browsing through hundreds of pictures.

Edit them well. There are tons of options out there: iPhoto, Windows Photo Gallery, Piknik, Snipshot, Picasa, Flicker and Photoshop.

There are a few simple steps to follow when publishing your photos:

  1. Never post original photos. Edit them for the better.
  2. Crop the photo to omit unnecessary parameters.
  3. Resize to fit your needs
  4. Compress the resolution to fit your needs
  5. Tone and color-correct
  6. Save a Web version — compress your photos to 72ppi and save them as separate files. Posting pictures in higher resolution will result in slow loading time of your Web page.
  7. Keep it simple — if all you need to do about your photo is to crop, use simpler applications such as Piknik. This will save time in editing.

Publish Your Photos Online

  1. Wrap text around photo
  2. Use intuitive alternate text. It will optimize your post for search engines, as well.
  3. Remember that it is only a link to a photo — storing images in image-hosting websites will make the process more efficient
  4. Use a screenshot and a link

Even with all the technological knowledge, however, creativity and fearlessness makes one a great photographer. And it takes a lot of practice.

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Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Skype session with Burt Herman

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Skype session with Burt Herman

CEO of Storify

This is Burt. This is the website he co-founded.

Courtesy of He is an “Entrepreneurial journalist stoking media revolution. CEO and co-founder of Storify, building the future of journalism. Founder of Hacks/Hackers, bringing together journalists and technologists.”

Great introducation on Burt- now for the BIG news! He skyped with us today from somewhere on the west coast. My guess is Silicon Valley since he is a technology superstar.

He talked about how storify can be a tool to simplify the process of telling a story online. “We have this amazing situation where everyone can be a reporter on the ground” Burt said.

Storify knows that a tweet, is a tweet. A video has certain tags on it. This information is much richer than it would be if you simply just copied and pasted in links.

Professor Steve Klein asked, “How do you stay plugged in? Telling stories is constantly changing becasue of all of these newer online platforms.”

Burt Herman responded with, “I’m hungry to always search new sites out. I get emails everyday from places like mediabistro, mashable; I have tech friends. I do look at twitter, but i do confess, it’s not always a news good source for me. Sharing your idea is the best  thing to do. Nobody is going to steal your idea, because they wont care about it as much as you do.” Mark Zuckerberg would.

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Visual Storytelling-Chapter 6 Mark Briggs

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Visual Storytelling-Chapter 6 Mark Briggs

If you were to choose between reading a two page essay or flipping through a picture book on the same topic, which one would you choose? Our minds usually just wander to the picture book answer because pictures are visually more engaging. They tell a story within themselves and are a must-have for every article you write.

Libyan protesters, photo taken from CNN article.

  • Digital photography is the one of the biggest features to an online journalists story. The convenience of a digital camera is one of the reasons why people are rapidly switching from traditional cameras to digital. You can see your picture immediately after you take it, you picture taking is not limited by the amount of film remaining, and you can upload the pictures anytime, anywhere. You can also edit the photos no matter where you are as long as you have your laptop.

*Always remember, when you take pictures from other sources, you need to CITE THEM. Otherwise you could be sued and that opens up a whole lot of legal troubles that I have no idea how to explain. Just cite your sources.

  • There are two types of digital cameras:
  1. A point-and-shoot, is more compact, easier to use and less expensive than other types. They usually come with a built in flash, video mode and lens, making it easily packable for a reporter on the move.
  2. A DSLR camera, this will capture better quality photos because the image sensor is 10x larger than the other type of camera, but it will cost you two or three times more. It is more complex and the accessories (like lens and flash) are an additional cost.

  • Tips for taking better photos:

Hold the camera steady: If you must, support yourself on something steady while taking the picture

Fill the Frame: Be careful not to leave to much headroom

Focus on one thing: A good point of focus is the subject eyes

Get closer: Get the right angle and move around

Go vertical: Follow the subject, if the subject is vertical, go vertical

Shoot action: Capture in the moment photographs, avoid poses

The famous National Geographic photo of a young Afghan girl on the June 1985 cover.

  • Editing and uploading a photo has become easy with sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Briggs gives you these simple suggestions when your editing your photos:
  1. Edit a copy of a photo-never the original
  2. Crop the photo
  3. Resize the picture
  4. Modify the resolution
  5. Tone and color correct the picture
  6. Save a web version
  7. Keep the photo editing simple

*Check out 2011′s best photo editing software here.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

‘Journalism Next’ by Mark Briggs: Chapter 5 summary

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on ‘Journalism Next’ by Mark Briggs: Chapter 5 summary

Summary: “Going mobile” What to look for when out in the field needing to get the information out to the audience immediately.

-Breaking news, live, from a mobile device

Laptops –> smartphones –> audio recorders –> video cameras

How To Choose the story:

  • Will the audience benefit if we take them there?
  • Will journalism be better if it’s done on location and with urgency?
  • Can this event be effectively communicated in small chunks over time?
  • Will sound reporting or video footage, turned around quickly, help peple understand the story?

Tim Repsher: managing director; mobile development, Media General

First to know, first to tell: Look for the part of the story that is immediate, the content that benefits from being told right now.

Mobile is a news collector: Journalists can’t be in all places at once, so give your audience a voice.

News is in the eye of the beholder: Know what is immediate to your readers… Use mobile to give people the news when and where they want it.


  • Gearhead: The journalist; “be out and about and reporting in the field all day everyday.” Wants all the latest equipment:
    • Laptop
    • Internet
    • Camera
    • Video camera
    • Tripod
    • Audio recorder
    • Headphones
    • Microphone
    • Cell phone
      LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 08:  A new Palm Pre smartp...

      Image by Getty Images via @daylife

  • Light packer: Traditional journalist; occasionally needs to report immediately
    • Smartphone with:
      • Camera with video mode and flash
      • Full QWERTY keyboard
      • Internet capability with full featured e-mail

Publishing options:

  1. Mobile microblogging
  2. Live blogging
  3. Mobile video
  4. Mobile multimedia
  5. Mobile crowdsourcing
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Chapter 5: Going Mobile

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 5: Going Mobile

In New York Times in 2009, John Markoff wrote “the four billion cellphones in use around the globe carry personal information, provide access to the Web and are being used more and more to navigate the real world.” The mobile technology already has evolved enough to create a whole new field in journalism: mobile reporting. Due to its flexibility and wide availability, mobile reporting fills the gap of coverage where professional journalists cannot fill in. Mobile technology is an essential tool for journalists, but it is also hard to adopt with its jet-fast evolution.

Mobile Journalism

  • Those who practice mobile journalism are often referred as “backpack journalist” or a “mojo” (mobile journalist).
  • Among one billion mobile phones sold in 2008, 100 percent offer text messaging, 92 percent have a Web browser, 90 percent have a color screen, and 71 percent can send and receive “picture messaging” and 63 percent have a camera.
  • Despite these capabilities, publishing is constrained by the major telecommunication companies.
  • Upcoming technologies should focus on publishing to mobile audiences to help mobile reporting evolve.

Making Mobile Journalism

Mobile phone evolution

Image via Wikipedia

Gadgets and services take up the most of what a journalist can do and cannot do. Depending on the needs, a journalist may equip with simple devices such as smartphones — Blackberry, iPhone, etc, or carry a variety of camera, tripod, audio recorder, microphone and a laptop.

The main point of mobile journalism is being available anytime, anywhere. Keep your luggage simple, and be ready to pull out your device whenever you need to.

◊ How to choose what to report

  1. Will the audience benefit if we can take them there?
  2. Will the journalism be better if it’s done with urgency?
  3. Can this event be effectively communicated with the given device?
  4. Will sound reporting or video footage, turned around quickly, help people understand the story?

◊ Some of stories that can be reported mobile:

  1. TrialsSpeechesBreaking news of all types — fires, shootings, natural disasters, wilderness rescues, plane crashes, and auto accidents
  2. Public gathering such as protests
  3. Sporting events
  4. Grand openings of shops or restaurants

As there are always many types of of anything, we also categorize mobile journalists with their equipments.

Gearhead: A mojo, characterized with heavy backpack or a shoulder bag with electronic cords sticking out, who reports all day, everday. This person always has, or wants as many as the most recent and advanced equipments available in the world. This type of mobile journalists will need

  1. Laptop
  2. Internet connection
  3. Camera
  4. Video camera
  5. Tripod
  6. Audio recorder
  7. Headphones
  8. Microphone
  9. Cell phone — or smartphone, rather

Light Packer: Traditional journalists who occasionally reports immediately from the field. This person has, or wants just good enough equipments. They usually bring a smartphone that has a camera that shoots videos and pictures and a full QWERTY keyboard.

Publishing Options

There are many ways to report using mobile devices from the field. One may use Twitter or for microblogging, laptop or more advanced apps on smartphones for live blogging, video streaming services such as Qik or YouTube for mobile video broadcasting, or combine altogether to accomplish mobile multimedia.

Mobile Crowdsourcing

Every news organization should be ready to accept photos and videos from mobile devices for breaking news. Some news organizations, such as CNN’s iReport, has already gathered a significant amount of crowds sourcing mobile multimedia feeds for their news.

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Tech Blog – Texting in Restaurants

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog – Texting in Restaurants

While looking for an interesting tech blog item this week, I wanted to find something related to the latest chapter in the Briggs text. I thought something on mobile journalism would be appropriate and so I eventually came across a quirky article, “I Will Check My Phone at Dinner and You Will Deal with It.” This piece by MG Siegler doesn’t directly deal with journalism, but it does provide evidence of the importance of mobile journalism.

Siegler opines that checking one’s cell phone at a restaurant has not only become the norm, but it may actually be more awkward for younger generations to not engage in the practice. If people are even interrupting meals to check their phones, clearly mobile journalism is of interest to people.

Personally, I really hate phones. They’re my least favorite method of communication. I have a cell phone of course, but more out of necessity than an actual desire to text and be reached at any given point. It goes to show how technology is no longer an option these days (though I’m serious, there are times when the only thing keeping me from running over my cell phone is that I don’t want to damage my tires). And of course, now it’s becoming socially acceptable to tweet the restaurant you’re at.

However, a Zagat survey says that cell phones at the dinner table leave a bad taste in the mouths of most Americans, though some even upload pictures of their meals to Facebook.

There’s always an upside–namely, mobile food critics can post instant food and service reviews. Bon appetit!

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Briggs Ch. 5

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Ch. 5

It may be getting repetitive at this point to say once again how crucial it is to implement technology into modern journalism, but it remains the vital takeaway point of the Briggs text. One aspect of this is mobile journalism. If cell phones allow people to receive calls and access their email anywhere at any time, why shouldn’t they also provide the news people want and need to know about? It can also help journalists find and cover breaking stories in ways that were impossible before.

Of course, journalists need to keep a few things in mind:

  • Mobile journalism is not a replacement for print or online journalism. It is a supplement designed to get a reader’s attention and drive them to the more in-depth story.
  • Mobile journalism does not require the most advanced equipment. Use whatever you’re comfortable with, and whatever you need to get the story.
  • Mobile journalism can allow instant and interactive stories to be disseminated.

My friend Brian Chan, former sports editor for Broadside, often does live blogs for games at his current school, UNC Charlotte. Basically, he watches the games and uses a laptop to provide constant updates as it’s happening. Since sports are a constant, shifting series of events, this is a great way for fans who can’t make the games to get a play-by-play of what goes down. Of course, in the case of Chan, you also have to sit through some occasional bad jokes, but having known him since sixth grade, I’m used to them by now.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Ch. 5 – ‘Going Mobile’

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Ch. 5 – ‘Going Mobile’

Mobile journalism was the main subject of this chapter.


Smartphones have become a helpful tool for many journalists.

  • News organizations are tapping into mobile journalism to compliment their news, especially during a breaking news story.
  • A couple questions to keep in mind include:
  1. Will the audience benefit if we can take them there?
  2. Will the journalism be better if it’s done on location and with urgency?
  3. Can this event be effectively communicated in small chunks over time?
  4. Will sound reporting or video footage, turned around quickly, help people understand the story?
  • Criminal and civil trials, breaking news of all types, public gathering, sporting events and grand openings are great places to use mobile journalism.
  • There are two types of mobile reporters: gearheads and light packers.
  • Gearheads use all the equipment available such as a laptop, tripod, audio recorder, etc. when they’re in the field (which is nearly 24/7).
  • Light packers aren’t in the field as often and only need their smartphone with a camera, keypad and mobile internet.
  • Mobile journalism publishing options include:
  1. Twitter
  2. FriendFeed
  3. Blogs and services like CoveritLive
  4. Qik, Kyte and Flixwagon (all mobile video services)
  5.  Your audiences’ publishing capabilities

Click here to view the embedded video.

Libya protests caught on amateur video World news

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Briggs Chapter 5 Summary: Going Mobile

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Chapter 5 Summary: Going Mobile


According to Briggs, all traditional journalists need to get their “mojo” (mobile journalist) on is a smartphone with the following: 

  • A camera with a flash and video mode
  • A full QWERTY keypad
  • Mobile Internet capability with full-featured e-mail

A gearhead who reports from the field every day needs compact versions of the following items that fit into one backpack: 

  • Small laptop or netbook                                                                                   
  • Internet connection:  a mobile Internet card is best option 
  • Camera: point-and-shoot with video                                                               
  • Video camera
  • Tripod: compact that folds and stores in a small space
  • Audio recorder: digital; records to memory card or interfaces with your laptop
  • Headphones: folding portable models that cover your ears
  • Microphone: durable with some type of windscreen
  • Cell phone to make calls

Cell phones have created a whole new field of journalism: mobile reporting

For mobile reporting the deadline is always right now 

Mobile technology is emerging as a powerful means for publishing multimedia to mobile audiences 

Journalists are experimenting with using audiences for mobile crowdsourcing 

Mobile journalism can be an important complement to news reporting, especially in breaking news situations 

Bottom line:  

  • Keep it simple:  don’t lug more equipment than you need
  • Be prepared: don’t try to use a new device in the field before you’ve practiced and gotten comfortable with it

Kinds of assignments to report and publish from the field: 

  • Criminal and civil trials
  • Important speeches or announcments
  • Breaking news events
  • Public gatherings
  • Sporting events
  • Grand openings of popular consumer destinations

Some ways journalists have gone mobile: 

  • Mobile microblogging:  via Twitter or FriendFeed or Facebook’s status updates
  • Live blogging:  done with standard blogging software or with an add-on service like CoveritLive
  • Mobile video: use Qik, Kyte and Flixwagon to stream video live from anywhere on a cell phone without an Internet connection; only works on phones that can shoot video
  • Mobile Multimedia

              1. Text is critical and easiest to publish 

              2. Photos and video crucial, especially in situations where no TV coverage   

                  or other visual is available 

              3. Photos and video only need to be “good enough”; powerful because of  

                  relevance, not because of editing and composition  

Mobile future:
  • GPS possibly the next game-changing technology for journalism

              1. News, information and advertising could be served to you depending on  

                  your location — no need to search 

              2. Will change how people contribute information — will be able to quickly

                  and easily publish to Web sites that organize content geographically 

  • Portability and small size of smartphones are less intimidating and will change relationship between reporters and interviewee
  • You don’t need the resources of a big news company to connect with a mobile audience             

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Who would have ever thought?

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Who would have ever thought?

Last week, I asked my father, who has spent a good portion of his life in Libya (my two brothers were born there), if he thought that a Libyan revolution was possible.

His response? Never in a million years.

A few days later, a new revolution was born.

The social media revolution

It is a remarkable thing when the oppressed stand up for their basic human rights. But what is more remarkable is the effect technology, particularly social media has played in this new turn of events.

As the protests move into Northern Africa, particularly Libya and Morocco, we begin to see the government crackdown on websites like Twitter and Facebook. These websites have been the main basis for these protest movements to gather support and rally for their freedom. Using the hashtag #feb20, these protesters are doing their best to sneak around their oppressors.

Who would have ever thought?

To read more on the Libyan and Moroccan social media revolution, click here.

Happy reading.

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