Online Journalism

Ch. 5 ‘Going mobile’

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Ch. 5 ‘Going mobile’

Being prepared by having some kind of mobile technology with you at all times is key to being a successful journalist and capturing news right as it happens.

Because of the development in technology over the past few years, all a journalist needs at bare minimum is a cell phone. But that cell phone needs to have a good quality camera and access to the Internet. With those tools, a journalist can capture breaking news and at least flesh out their story while on the scene and then refine when they get back to their desk or computer.

Using mobile technology is critical to almost every kind of reporting:

  • Criminal and civil trials
  • Important speeches or announcements by public officials, celebrities, sports figures and business leaders
  • Breaking news events, including fires, shootings, natural disasters, plane crash crashes and car accidents that back up traffic
  • Public gatherings like protests and political rallies
  • Sporting events
  • Grand openings

If you want to be a hardcore, mobile journalist, Briggs recommends a combination of these tools:

  • A laptop (preferably a netbook)
  • A camera
  • A video camera
  • A tripod
  • An audio recorder
  • Headphones
  • A microphone
  • A cell phone

When I cover high school sports, I carry my digital camera to take plenty of pictures, my voice recorder to gather quotes and my cell phone to post updates on Twitter.

No longer is it OK to just carry a notepad and record notes. As journalists in this new era, we have to get accustomed to using new technology every day and progress with its new developments.

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Techblog… or I hope it is

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Techblog… or I hope it is

Prollyisnotprobably is one of the most influential fix gear bike sites on the entire planet. From product reviews, news, photos, fashion, and much more, John Watson brings info to his audience with swift speed. He is the blogger I wish I was.

By taking content his users send to him, taking photos by being on scene, and spending his time keeping the site up to date, almost by the hour, it is one of the sites most fixed gear bikers check every day.

This man turned his hobby into a career.

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Ch. 6 ‘Visual Storytelling with Photographs’

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Ch. 6 ‘Visual Storytelling with Photographs’

Nikkor 50mm f /1.8 lens for the Nikon F-mount.

Image via Wikipedia

“A picture’s worth 1,000 words.”

That’s the cliché that you’ve probably heard plenty of times through your life, but at times a picture is more effective at telling a story than words. Or as Briggs puts it, “journalism without photographs is like writing without verbs.”

Briggs starts the chapter by outlining the technical side of digital photography:

  • A megapixel is 1 million pixels, which is the visual representation of data in a digital image or graphic
  • Pictures are stored as digital files on a memory card
  • Resolution is a measurement of pixels that are available to the human eye

The two types of cameras are point-and-shoot cameras and DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras. Point-and-shoot are easier to use, cheaper and smaller, but the quality of picture isn’t going to be nearly as good. DSLR cameras are more expensive, larger and take more time to get used to, but the quality of pictures is much better and a DSLR can do so much more because of the customization that comes along with buying different lenses.

The most important thing when it comes to taking pictures is lighting. Having covered high school football games, I can definitely attest to this. I have a decent DSLR, but if the lighting on the field is poor, my pictures won’t turn out well. And the flash won’t help at all because the standard flash isn’t nearly strong enough to light up the field.

Some other tips within the chapter from Craig Sailor:

  • Hold the camera steady. Do anything to keep your body still while shooting.
  • Fill the frame. Don’t leave a lot of empty space in the photo.
  • Focus on one thing. Literally, when using the auto focus feature, make sure to focus one thing to make the picture sharper.
  • Get closer, change angles.
  • Go vertical, meaning turn the camera vertically if the subject is vertical.
  • Shoot action.

When shooting, the more pictures taken the better. It’s common sense really, the more pictures you take, the higher chance you have that you have some quality pictures. When I cover a basketball game, I usually take at least 100-150 pictures, in part because of the fact that the pictures are in motion but also so that I get better pictures. Of all those pictures, I usually only use about 14-20 that I think are worthy of publishing.

After learning the basics, taking pictures is just like writing. The more practice the better you’ll get at taking pictures, although you’ll also need better technology for better pictures.

That and being in the right place at the right time helps in capturing good pictures.

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Briggs Summary – Chapter 7

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Summary – Chapter 7

Making audio journalism visible

Audio journalism is important and relevant for a variety of reasons, the primary one being that audio can lend itself better in situations where the subject may not want to be revealed on camera. It can help build a more textured and layered experience for audiences, and moreover, can add to the presence, emotions and atmosphere.

News organizations use audio in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Reporter overview
  • Podcasts
  • Audio slide shows
  • Breaking news

This chapter not only informs readers of how to get a good audio clip, but also points them in the direction of good recording technology and what it takes to stay current in today’s ever-expanding technological realm. Editing techniques are also discussed, giving readers the appropriate information to prepare, record and edit good quality sound bites to fit their needs.

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‘Journalism Next’ by Mark Briggs: Chapter 7 summary

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on ‘Journalism Next’ by Mark Briggs: Chapter 7 summary

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting

Image via Wikipedia

Summary: “Audio can be as powerful in journalism as written articles or even TV and video.” Karin Hoegh, podcasting expert in Denmark.

Audio journalism: Painting sound pictures

- Importance: “Helps build a more textured, layered experience” Briggs; unmatched characteristics:

  • Presence: On location boosts credibility and interest
  • Emotions: “Tone of voice, expressions, intonation and pauses can enhance message” Briggs
  • Atmosphere: Natural sound pulls the listener in
Logo of NPR News.

Image via Wikipedia

- How it’s used: NPR sets the standard with podcasts, website, and a huge audience

  • Reporter overview: Quick simple audio overview to accompany story
  • Podcasts: Regular episodes on selected subject to help build audience
  • Audio slide show: Adding audio to images to tell richer more compelling story
  • Breaking news: Some apps allow for recording from mobile to be published on Web site.
An interview for television.

Image via Wikipedia

Get started with audio

  • Record interviews for podcast, blog post, or to accompany news story or slide show
  • Choose location: quiet with good acoustics
  • Gather natural sound: 15 second increments, done separate from interview
  • Prepare subject: have some pre-written questions and go over a few things before diving straight into the interview
  • Watch what you say: expressions, like “I see” and “really?!,” to let the interviewee know you’re listening can distract and cover up what they are trying to say.
  • Delayed recording: conducting a spoken interview without recording first then have the subject speak about the most notable points
  • Mark best spots: write down the counter number or time elapsed when you hear something that you may want to use

Voice overs

  1. Write a script
  2. Warm up your voice: massage face muscles, hum, or sing
  3. Find operative words
  4. Keep it conversational and natural

**emphasize these important words using:**

  • Volume
  • Pitch
  • Rhyth
  • Tempo
    Podcast or podcasting icon

    Image via Wikipedia

Gear up!

- Digital recorder

- Edit on your computer

- External mic and headphones

- Prepare

interview interview interview

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Dan Rather and Tucker Carlson C-Span

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Dan Rather and Tucker Carlson C-Span

In the GSFC Science Studio. Waleed Abdalati an...

Image via Wikipedia

Dan Rather and Tucker Carlson spoke with George Mason students through video conference on Feb. 24, 2011 to speak about the state of journalism and where it’s headed.

Rather, who was the news anchor for the CBS Evening News from 1981 to 2005 and is now the anchor of Dan Rather Reports on HDNet and Carlson, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller and former co-host of Crossfire on CNN, joined students participating from the George Mason University Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the University of Denver, Purdue University and Georgetown University.

The distance learning course, which is produced by C-SPAN, is a unique opportunity for students to interview guests via video conference. The course airs on C-SPAN3 on Fridays at 5 p.m. and also streams online.

So according to Dan Rather, what makes a good reporter?

Curiosity and determination makes a good reporter,” Rather said. “Writing is a bedrock of the craft.” Even if you want to get into television or radio, you have to be a good writer to be a good reporter.

Rather has been working in news since 1950 and was there to report about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, one of the hardest events to work through. He reported what he saw from the Zapruder film directly from memory and was remarkably calm through the live telecast.

“As a professional you are hit with the same emotions everyone else has, but you have to seal out those emotions,” Rather said. Sealing out those emotions were what allowed Rather to report how JFK died in such a calm manner.

When Kennedy’s assassination occurred, the television was the national hearth according to Rather, replacing radio. After 9/11, the Internet was becoming the national hearth.

“Now here in 2011, we’re in the Internet age,” Rather said. “President Obama is our first Internet president.”

Rather has often spoken out about the lack of courage amongst journalists in today’s media to ask tough questions. Tucker Carlson weighed in along with rather about what journalism needs now.

“Basically what journalism needs is more guts and a sense of independence,” Rather said.

“The best journalism is tough and it pays no regard to authority and it doesn’t suck up to power,” Carlson said. “A central problem is the unwillingness to take on central authority.

“Journalism’s not complicated, it’s a matter of finding out what happened and reporting it to the people.”

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Chapter 7: Making Audio Journalism Visible

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 7: Making Audio Journalism Visible

Audio is considered the invisible medium, but what journalists forget is that “sounds allow listeners to see with the best lens of all, the mind,” said best-selling author Jim Stovall.

Without text or visual images, audio can produce a rich experience.

Karin Hogh, a podcasting expert based in Denmark, said that “audio journalism has characteristics that can’t be matched by other forms of media,” which are:

  • presence
  • emotions
  • atmosphere

“Using these assets, you can communicate your ‘personal’ perception of the events and add many facets and also take advantage of audio as a background medium,” said Hogh.

Audio journalism is a quick and simple way to distribute information via podcasts, which feature one type of “show” with new episodes available either sporadically or at planned intervals. The use of podcasts help build loyal listeners.

All journalists really need in order to create full-featured sound segments are:

  • a microphone
  • a recorder
  • a free software

Brief audio reports can also be created through the use of a mobile phone. This allows news journalists to quickly and easily cover news breaking scenes.

To get started in creating podcasts, one must record interviews. It is important to:

  • write a script
  • warm up
  • choose your location
  • gather natural sound
  • prepare your subject(s)
  • watch what you say
  • mark the best spots
  • always, always, always keep it conversational!

Keep in mind that “the goal is to record with the highest quality possible and then edit the files before compressing the files to publish and distribute it online,” said Mark Briggs.

When editing, look for audio-editing programs that are:

  • easy to use
  • have the capability to export files in MP3 format

All audio clips should be in MP3 format because virtually any computer can play an MP3. Briggs suggests using programs such as Audacity and JetAudio.

Try to experiment with different techniques to bring even more life into your audio. Some techniques include:

  • fading: a gradual increase or decrease in level of the audio
  • cross-fading: a mix of fades with one track level increasing while another decreases
  • establishing music: use of song clips to set tone
  • segueing: smoothly transitioning from one track to another
  • transitioning: connecting different tracks in a way that is smooth and natural

Visit PodCastAwards to listen to some award-winning podcasts.

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Briggs Ch. 7

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Ch. 7

Everybody knows that links and video are advantages to online journalism that don’t exist in print, but people often neglect to acknowledge the value of audio as well. Audio offers many options for things that wouldn’t be practical or possible in video.

Words and quotes may be powerful on paper, but imagine how much stronger they would be heard directly from the source, with all the subtle tones and pauses present. Sometimes those can say even more than the actual words of the quote.

One of the biggest formats in which audio reporting has emerged in recent years is podcasting. Podcasts are typically almost like talk radio, only focused on a singular topic and scheduled on a semi-regular basis. I generally don’t follow podcasts, as I like to listen to music while I’m using the computer, but I do enjoy checking out the Hipsters United podcast about the Smashing Pumpkins. Once you grow accustomed to the commentators, it makes for a fun listen on a subject I (usually) enjoy hearing about. For people who might not be as interested in the 90s alt-rockers as I am, there are thousands of podcasts you can subscribe to on iTunes.

Any reporter that wishes to utilize audio will have to select a digital recorder. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when doing so:

  • File format. Make sure it’s something compatible with your software and of decent quality.
  • Capacity. You probably don’t need to keep 300+ hours of audio, but hey, it can’t hurt to have the space.
  • Interface. Is it easy to use? Are there too many menus to go through to use it properly?
  • Power source. Does it run on batteries or do you have to charge it?
  • Connectivity. If you can’t even get the files onto your computer, maybe you should leave audio reporting to the pros.

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Briggs Ch. 10 – ‘Managing news as a Conversation’

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Ch. 10 – ‘Managing news as a Conversation’

Interactive discussion and online news was the focus of this chapter.



Responding to comments can help journalists seem transparent but many journalists are reluctant to do so because some comments are personal attacks.

Angry Comments

Angry Comments

One journalist — Doug Feaver, former editor at, has created a blog, dot.comments, on the Washington Post’s website that responds to reader comments. Some of the site has even been a resource for articles.

Participating in the conversation helps journalists to stay technologically up-to-date and allows them to have access to more sources. But journalism standards and values need should be upheld online and in social media. Many journalists are creating blogs or Facebook pages to respond to reader comments.

There are even some online journalism social networks:

Many online news sites have rules regarding social media. These often include:

  • Setting guidelines for participants
  • Being careful who you expand your network to
  • Monitoring offensive posts
  • Knowing legal responsibilities
  • Correcting errors
Social Networking Sites

Social Networking Sites

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Briggs Ch. 7 – ‘Making Audio Journalism Visible’

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Ch. 7 – ‘Making Audio Journalism Visible’

Audio can compliment an article and make it more compelling. It can create presence, emotions and atmosphere that words or pictures cannot express.



Journalists can use radio to do the following:

Radio stories have the following elements:

  • Interviews and voice-overs
  • Natural or environmental sound
  • Imported sound clips, including music

There are many recorders and mics of varying prices that journalists can use.

I was an intern at W.A.M.U’s Youth Voices Program. Here’s a link to my radio story:

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