Online Journalism

Chapter 6: Visual Storytelling with Photographs

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 6: Visual Storytelling with Photographs

Journalism without photographs is like writing without verbs,” Mark Briggs said.

Photographs are important in journalism, and in all other aspects, because they are able to expand on a story in a way that words cannot. In order to fully express an idea, journalists must understand how to capture the perfect image.

When possible, shoot images using natural light. Avoid shooting with a flash or mixture of flashes. If bright sunlight is in front of subjects being photographs, it will create face shadows and make people squint; if the sun is behind the subjects then their faces will be darker.

Great photographs are the ones where viwerers can see a picture within a picture.

According to Val Hoeppner, the biggest mistake amateurs and beginners make is that they do not get close enough to their subjects or to the action happening in front of them. Hoeppner suggests taking 10 steps forward after journalists think they are close enough to a subject.

Two secrets for capturing better photos are to be patient and to take more photographs.

Once journalists are done capturing photos, they should then edit them for online publishing.

Editing advice:

  • Edit a copy of the photo – never the original.
  • Crop the photo.
  • Resize the picture.
  • Modify the resolution.
  • Tone and color correct the picture.
  • Save a Web version.
  • Keep it simple.

Remember that adding and/or removing objects from an image is strictly forbidden.  An image should never be altered in a way that can “mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects,” says Briggs.

“In this day and age of photo manipulation, students new to photojournalism must understand and adhere to the ethics of not creating images that lie or are deceptive to the viewer,” says Colin Mulvany.

Photo editing software:

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog – Live Blogging

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog – Live Blogging

In my summary of the fifth Briggs chapter, I mentioned how my friend Brian Chan did live blogs of sporting events at UNC Charlotte (he also did them in the past for Mason). Alas, via the trackback he saw my comment about his lame jokes and got ticked off. There is a downside to linking to everything I suppose. But I’ll take the risk and share this article about live blogging by Kevin Charman-Anderson. He says that live blogging is not just a collection of facts presented in real-time as they occur, but it allows news sites to compete with the immediacy of broadcast.

However, it remains a point of contention among journalists, and Charman-Anderson dubs the onslaught of continuous updates as “a fire hose of news”:

I really do worry that some of the aggregation that we’re doing is really difficult to navigate unless you’re a news junkie. We have to make sure that a stream of news aggregation doesn’t feel like a maddening stream of consciousness.

That almost raises the question of whether news sites should even want to compete with broadcast–it’s a matter of breaking the story versus passing on the necessities. Last night, “Survivor” host Jeff Probst tweeted a live commentary on the show as it aired on the west coast. As a fan of the show (albeit one who had to wait two hours after I finished watching the episode to follow Probst’s commentary), I loved the idea. But the execution left a lot to be desired, and hopefully if Probst repeats the experiment (he’s looking into watching with east coast viewers next week) it is handled differently. What Probst dubbed “the gobal [sic] conversation about ‘Survivor’” played out as a haphazard and not very informative review of what was on screen. An episode of “Survivor” is not a news story that needs to be catalogued in this way.

Jeff Probst, © CBS

The moral of the story? Use live blogging wisely. Know your audience and cater to what they want and need to know. Whether that’s minute-by-minute updates on a breaking news story or maybe some interaction with fans about a TV show, it’s the key to making the most of a live blog.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Video Conference: Governor George Allen

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Video Conference: Governor George Allen

“If the French can do it, so can Americans”

Our video conference with Governor George Allen was a great experience. Former Senator George Allen (R-VA)

Governor Allen stressed the importance of, “do not spend what you don’t have.”

“Defense wins championships”

Campaigning and advancing ideas is how we can get this country back to work.

Governor Allen’s 4 pilars in a free and just society.

  1. Freedom of religion
  2. Freedom of expression
  3. Private ownership
  4. Rule of law (fair adjudication of disputes)

Sportsmanship, fight hard for what you believe in.

The internet has been the best invention since the Gutenberg press.

“Education is personal empowerment.” -Dr. Allan Merten

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Briggs 6

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs 6

Visual Storytelling with Photographs

Even if you don’t have aspirations of becoming an artist with a camera, as a journalist you should understand how digital photography works. Journalism without photographs is like writing without verbs.

More time leads to better photos. If you want to improve your photography skills, the first step is to find more time when you go out and shoot.

Presentation is all about first impressions. Photographs, and especially slide shows, can attract huge audiences online.

Taking good photographs is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Often, reporters find themselves in the middle of something newsworthy or interesting, so basic photography skills are critical for anyone who considers himself or herself a journalist.

As a journalist for, I have published many slide shows. Here is an example of one of my published slide shows.

Photo Gallery: West Islip Hit With More Than a Foot of Snow

Photo Credit: Bridgette Barnhart

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · online journalism · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Chapter 5

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Chapter 5

Going Mobile: Mobile reporting.

“According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, a London newspaper, children in the United Kingdom get their first mobile phones at age 8″ said Briggs.

Anyone one the ground can technically become a reporter at any given time that something newsworthy breaks out in front of them. A child could see a car accident, snap a picture of it, and the picture could end up on twitter, or even the front page of a newspaper the next day.

Briggs explained that there are two ends of the spectrum when using equipment on the field.

Gearhead: A dedicated mojo whose job is to be out and about and report from the field all day, ever day. This person is telling multimedia stories and publishing them from anywhere. Equipment needed- The best and coolest.

Light packer: A more traditional journalist, someone who occasionally needs to report or publish immediately from the field. Equipment needed- Just enough to get the job done.

You will need(compact versions are preferred): Laptop, Internet connection, camera, video camera, tripod, audio recorder, headphones, microphone, and/or cell phone.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

‘Journalism Next’ by Mark Briggs: Chapter 6 summary

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on ‘Journalism Next’ by Mark Briggs: Chapter 6 summary

Summary: Digital photography is crucial for journalists… Learn the basics.

Nikon D700 camera

Image via Wikipedia

Digital photography:

  • Digital cameras are much less limiting than film cameras
  • A megapixel represents one million pixels. The higher the megapixel the tighter you can crop in on an image and the bigger you can make the photograph without getting all those visible squares
  • The amount of images one can capture depends on how big the memory card is, and they can constantly be deleted and reused if need be.
  • Resolution is the number of pixels in an image. The higher the resolution the more space (in bytes) is taken up.
    • Computer monitors 72 pixels per inch (ppi)
    • Newspapers 200 ppi
    • Glossy photographs 300 ppi

Ownership, copyright and fair use:

  1. Do not “borrow” another persons work without premission
  2. Creative Commons Project: allows people to mark their work with Creative Commons license ranging from “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.” People can use others work as long as they receive credit.
Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

Digital camera basics:

  • Point-and-shoot: Fixed lens and flash, has video mode
  • Single-lens reflex (SLR): Changeable lenses and flash for more or less power. May or may not have video mode, generally for a professional grade photographer only interested in still shots.

All cameras have:

  1. Modes; generally should be on automatic unless shooting video
  2. Zoom; to get a closer shot without moving closer
  3. View/delete; immediately view a photo and delete it if it’s not what you wanted to keep the extra photo space available for a better shot

***More time leads to better photographs***

Working with digital photographs:

  • Use a photo-editing software to edit photos and add special effects
  • Manage/organize photos on computer


  1. Always edit copy NOT original
  2. Crop the photo
  3. Resize the photo so it is not too  big or small for the medium it’s being sent to
  4. Modify resolution
  5. Tone and color correct photo
  6. Save a web version: compress the image so it does not take as long to download
  7. Keep it simple: try not to over-edit the photo

Final step!

Publish photos online

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Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Ch. 6

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Ch. 6

The adage that a picture’s worth a thousand words has, alas, proven untrue whenever I try to submit a 1250-word paper to a professor with just a photograph and three paragraphs. But when it comes to online writing, not including pictures is a capital offense (and I’ll plead guilty to occasionally committing the crime).

A picture may not be literally worth a thousand words, but the difference between showing and telling is staggering. In print, perhaps a publisher might want to avoid the hefty amount of ink necessary to include a picture. That excuse doesn’t cut it online. Digital photography imposes little expense beyond the camera itself (which admittedly can be costly). However, that’s assuming you’re talking about photographs you’ve taken. Just like in print, any credible online publication will get permission from and credit any sources for its images.

This is not a digital camera. But it's under Creative Commons so there you go.

There are many benefits to digital photography that don’t apply to conventional cameras as seen on the left:

  • A memory card holds a lot more pictures than a roll of film
  • You can immediately look at–and discard–any pictures you take
  • Pictures can be uploaded and shared with family, friends, editors, etc. easily
  • Editing and cropping images can be done quickly

All that said, digital photography is simply a progression of a technology that already existed. You use the pictures in the same way one would utilize conventional photographs.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Chapter 6 Summary: Visual Storytelling with Photographs

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Chapter 6 Summary: Visual Storytelling with Photographs


“Journalism without photographs is like writing without verbs.”

Because photography used to take a great deal of training and expertise, “visual storytelling used to be reserved for serious technicians only.”

Digital photography + ubiquity of cell phone cameras, has made everyone a photographer

“Doing it well takes patience, practice and preparation.”

“You need to know the basics… composition, how to operate the camera, how to work with a subject so you can make them feel comfortable”

Digital cameras are convenient because you can:

  • Take as many pictures as you want
  • See immediately whether you captured the image you wanted
  • Upload pictures to the Web and share them
  • Save money: don’t have to purchase film and don’t pay to print photos you don’t want
  • Easily edit pictures on a computer

Pixel (PICTure ELement) — the visual representation of data in a digital image or graphic

Cameras store photographs as digital files on a memory card.  The more pixels in a photograph, the more bytes needed to store the picture.

Resolution — a measurement of pixels that are available to the human eye; refers to the number of pixels in an image

Photographs on Web sites need a resolution of only 72 ppi (pixels per inch); will look blurry in a newspaper, especially if enlarged

Ownership, copyright and fair use:

  • Do not “borrow” others’ photographs without permission
  • Creative Commons project:  an effort to legally protect those who wish to share their work as long as they are given credit

Digital camera basics:

  • Two kinds of digital cameras: beginners should use automatic settings

             1. Point-and-shoot, or all-in-one:  more compact, easier to use; more

                 affordable; lens + flash built in; most equipped with a video mode

             2. DSLR camera: captures better photos because image sensor 10x larger;

                 more complex to use; usually costs 2 to 3 times more; accessories

                 (lenses, flash) cost extra; video mode not as good    

  • Basic camera functions:

             1. Camera modes:  choose shutter speed icon from the dial on top

                 of the camera that represents the moment you’re trying to capture

             2. Zoom:  digital and optical; use only the optical provided by the

                  lens (doesn’t affect image quality)

             3. Flash:  lightning bolt icon on back of the camera; auto flash means

                  camera will determine whether flash will be used; you can turn off

                  the flash or “force” the flash (helpful when bright backlighting

                  leaves shadows on a subject’s face); avoid red eyes in photos

                  – use red-eye reduction mode, try changing angles or have

                  subject look slightly to the side of the lens

             4. View/delete: view photographs on your camera as you shoot

                  and delete ones you know won’t work

Shooting better photos with a digital camera:

  • Good composition cuts away unimportant, distracting elements
  • Best photos are shot with natural light only
  • Cloudy and partly sunny days are best for outdoor photography
  • Shooting mug shots/ head shots:

             1. Avoid harsh sunlight and strong backlight

             2. Try to photograph when skies are overcast

             3. Use flash as a last resort — adds shiny spots to faces

             4. Pick a background that’s neutral, simple and dark   

             5. Position the subject away from any walls

             6. Make sure nothing is “growing” out of the person’s

                  head (lamp, etc.)

             7. Biggest mistakes beginners make — they don’t get

                 close enough to their subjects or to the action, and they

                 don’t take enough photographs

             8. Shoot a variety of wide, medium and tight shots

                 makes editing easier + increases odds of having a good image

Working with digital photographs:

  • Real power of digital photography: editing on a computer
  • Altering photos by adding or removing objects is strictly forbidden in documentary journalism
  • Make sure photo reflects the scene accurately
  • View images from a storytelling point of view
  • Manage and organize photos from your camera to your computer by changing generic file names from digital camera to something you’ll recognize on your computer (combination of date and subject); use underscores, not spaces, to separate words in file names

Steps to prepare an image for online publishing:

  • Edit a copy of the photo — never the original
  • Crop the photo to omit unnecessary information
  • Resize the picture
  • Modify the resolution to 72 ppi
  • Tone and color correct the picture
  • Save a Web version
  • Keep it simple

How to build a good slide show:

  • Limit to two to three minutes in length
  • Use the right amount of photos
  • Match the photos to the audio
  • Use captions
  • Avoid awkward transitions — use fade in or out
  • Avoid overpowering music
  • Should have all the elements of a good story:

             1. Attention-grabbing opening

             2. Logical progression that builds to a climax

             3. A finish that provides a sense of summary

Briggs recommends Photoshop Elements to build a photo gallery and Soundslides to create slide shows with audio.


Don’t forget, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  A photograph has impact.  It provides color and interest.  It makes the story come alive for the reader and later serves as a memory prompt for all of the emotions associated with it.




Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Review 5: Mobile Journalism

February 24th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Review 5: Mobile Journalism

Most cellphones have become a self-sufficient device that come in handy in many situations for journalists. With a cell phone you can shoot video, take pictures, write and publish/broadcast it all online without needing other equipment; this can also be referred as “backpack reporting.”Another perk to mobile journalism is that if you are on the scene of a breaking news event then you report on the event and put it online instantly. It also allows for liveblogging, which is instant blogging.

Here are a few examples of mobile journalism:

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts