Online Journalism

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