Online Journalism

Briggs Review 7: The Power of Audio

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Review 7: The Power of Audio

Audio is a very powerful tool when used right. What makes audio effective is that it is a more personal experience than video or text generally is: Usually listeners are alone (in a car or in their room), so that makes it more personable. Audio is not only for the car, though;  it can be used for a podcast or slideshow, for example. Today NPR leads the industry of audio journalism.

Here’s what makes good audio journalism:

  • Script: Even though it may seem like it’s okay to just ‘wing it,’ having a script is a good idea so that the audio sounds more professional.
  • Practice: Find out which questions yield the best results by asking your questions before recording so that you know which questions were the best to ask, then ask the best questions again when you record.
  • Finding the right spots: There should be minimal background noise, such as traffic or crowds, wherever you record.
  • Natural noise: Use natural sounds that make the story more authentic, such as puppies barking at a pet adoption event.
  • Be a performer: You have to keeps things interesting to hook your audience, so be enthusiastic and get their attention.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts


March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on JON DENUNZIO

Integrating Social Media into your journalism

Everything is changing. Journalism is not what it was.

He worked at small companies and transitioned to bigger through experience. Focuses on sports and then transitioned to web sports editor and has stayed on the digital side.

early expereiments shows where tweets are showing up and showing where they are in what section. -never reached enough people.

Many more options today,



WHYYYYY we use social media

It’s where users are

it helps our reporting

it allllows us to build a relationship with users

its an art! not a science!

Third-party platforms: not the only way!

-interaction from your audience is key great for polls

Ignore at your own peril!

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Guest speaker: Jon DeNunzio

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Jon DeNunzio

Jon DeNunzio is going to talk about integrating social media into your journalism.

He learned a lot, and still learning. National Park Fan Tweets experiment in the Washington Post is a good example.

Some experiments and good tools to try:

Why we use social media:

  1. It’s where users are
  2. It helps our reporting
  3. It allows us to build a relationship with users

It’s an art, not a science.

Third-party platforms: not the only way 

“The medium is the message”- McLuhan, 1964. Now, it’s not the media, it’s the social part.

His point?

  • Be social with your users whenever you can. It’s us, journalists, being social.
  • Respond
  • Ask for ideas
  • Ask for photos
  • Host a debate, elevate one of the comments
  • Answer user questions

Southern California Public Radio: good example of reader engagement, and how powerful it can be.

Why am I talking about this?

  • He just recently hired people. Now how to connect with users. Network. Twitter feed.
  • Startups! There are so many companies starting, and using social media. For example, T-shirt design user-oriented

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #5: Guest Speaker Jon DeNunzio, User Engagement Editor

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #5: Guest Speaker Jon DeNunzio, User Engagement Editor

Jon DeNunzio

User Engagement Editor Jon DeNunzio of the Washington Post

  • Former Web Sports Editor
  • Former Prep Sports Editor
  • Didn’t major in journalism (Graduated from the University of Virginia in 1991)
  • Went to the Washington Post in 1994

Integrating Social Media into Your Journalism:

In Nationals Park in summer 2009, DeNunzio worked with the Post to channel tweets from attendants at the Park onto a single Web site. The idea never really took off, but it’s a great idea nonetheless. Perhaps with a tweaked formula, it would’ve skyrocketed.

Another idea Denunzio incorporated into some Post stories includes adding a question at the end of some stories, asking readers to tweet their answers. For instance, “What happens when mean girls grow up?” This would work ridiculously well with my story on the football team! Being that George Mason has the largest head count of students than any other school in Virginia, this story, without a doubt, would blow up on Twitter.

The two big I’s of Internet are Immediacy and Interactivity.


  • It’s where users are
  • It allows us to build a relationship with users
  • It helps our reporting

Marshall McLuhan said that “the medium is the message.”

“No, it’s the social, the social media,” Denunzio said. He said that you don’t have to use social media in order to be social.

DeNunzio’s point, simply put: Be social with your users whenever you can.

  • Use a poll (, DeNunzio suggests, is totally worth it)
  • Pay attention to comments
  • Ask for ideas (
  • Ask for photos
  • Host a debate
  • Answer user questions
  • Use the knowledge of the crowd


  • Come up with ideas to connect with users! It will put you ahead of the crowd.
  • Because of the Internet and because of its interactivity, we must take advantage of the users on it.
  • User engagement and data visualization are key nowadays. Do not underestimate or ignore them.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Jon DeNunzio- Washington Post

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Jon DeNunzio- Washington Post

Jon DeNunzio

  • Be social with your users whenever you can. (ie- polls)
  • Pay attention to the comments
  • Ask for ideas (
  • Ask for photos
  • Answer user questions
  • Use the knowledge of the crowd

DeNunzio is the User Engagement editor of the Washington post.

He works on team of about  9 people handling inner activity, handle in an editorial way, user comments, live Q & A’s, polls, user photo galleries)

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Use Twitter’s ‘Blackbird Pie’ tool to imbed Tweets

March 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

Jon DeNunzio: “If we as journalists don’t have credibility, then we have nothing.” #gmujournalismless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

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Guest Speaker: Jon DeNunzio

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Speaker: Jon DeNunzio

Jon DeNunzio, user engagement editor at the Washington Post, visited out COMM 361 class on March 3 to discuss the value of integrating social media into journalism.

Why use social media?

  • Receive consumer feedback
  • Reach broad audiences
  • Increase interactivity; users/audiences want to be part of the news
  • It’s where the users are – cannot expect they’ll go to your main site
  • Assist journalist with reporting
  • Builds relationship with users; users/audiences want to be talked to and to talk back
  • It allows us to build relationship with users – want to talk to and talk back; can help bring trust back

Be social with users.

  • Run a poll (SurveyGizmo or Twiigs)
  • Pay attention to comments
  • Ask for ideas (AllOurIdeas)
  • Answer user questions
  • Use the knowledge of the crowd, aka “crowd-sourcing”

There are many ways to connect with users/audiences.

Why college students should care.

  • Very few people can contribute an idea about how they can really connect with users
  • Journalism is constantly changing, especially on the digital side

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 8: Telling Stories with Video

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 8: Telling Stories with Video

Thanks to the emergence of cheap video cameras and free video-editing softwares, video journalism has become easier than ever. Even without purchasing over $35,000 worth equipments that used to be requirements, anyone can produce high-quality videos and upload in Web. It has become  so easy that millions around the world frequently upload videos. In mid 2009, YouTube reported that 20 hours of videos were uploaded on their server every second.


Image via Wikipedia

As a beginner in video journalism, what kind of mindset should we have?

Perfection is not necessary. Just do it and make as many mistakes as you can.

Of course, it is always better to produce the perfect video that we think of. However, quick and less polished videos tend to attract more viewers, because of it s natural atmosphere and intimacy it provides to the viewers. Even professional video journalists intently give imperfections in their videos, such as shakes or interruptions by others in the video, to emphasize certain aspects in the story.

The following video is a footage of the protest in Egypt, which also captured the reporter being attacked by protesters in the middle of turmoil:

Click here to view the embedded video.

As shown, the imperfect handling of camera and the sudden attack on the reporter well delivers the atmosphere of the scene.

Different approaches for different projects

  • You will never know what will happen while filming a breaking news video. Although you will often not have access to the closest to the scene, capturing witnesses and surroundings of the scene can also make a good video.
  • Breaking news stories can also be connected to the press conferences to help audience analyze the situation.
  • Compilation of highlights can shorten the length of the video with the most available information delivered to the audience
  • A documentary video gives you more freedom. However, it requires more planning and resources.

There are three kinds of shots — wide shots, medium shots and close-ups. It is better to mix your shots to give your video a variety. It is recommended to use “five-shot sequences,” which consists of five different consecutive shots to keep the audience focused on the video.

Stand-up is often necessary in reporting breaking news or covering major sporting event. The below are some tips for planning your video:

Bauer Bosch Video Kamera

Image via Wikipedia

  • Keep your content short, but always be ready to provide something little extra for the audience
  • Even when reporting breaking news, always write a script and warm up
  • Be stable in posture and breathe easily
  • Use some hand gestures to make yourself look easy on camera


  • High definition or standard definition
    • With abundant resources and technologically knowledgeable staffs, don’t be afraid to use HD
    • If your resources are limited with amateur staffs, it may be better to use standard definition
  • Media type
    • DVDs have many limitations, including slow writing speed
    • Solid state media, such as flash memory cards, have faster access time and more flexibility
  • Video-editing software
    • Make sure the video format captured by a camera is compatible with the editing software you will be using
    • Some programs do not work with DVDs or with new AVCHD format
  • Accessories
    • Tapes and batteries for longer running time
    • Microphones to capture more delicate sounds
    • Tripod when the video is to be captured in a stable setting
    • Headphones to make sure the audio is being recorded clearly
    • Lighting to be used in darker environment, or to change the tone of color of the scene

How do you shoot a video?

It’s simple. Follow these steps: Focus, zoom and adjust the exposure. Aim for solid clips rather than dramatic, spectacular clips. Be selective when to run your camera to save your runtime, and avoid panning and zooming in the middle of the video to prevent the audience from feeling dizzy watching your clips. Keep your voice silent to avoid putting unnecessary, or often unpleasant sound effects in your video, and follow the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds: When framing your video, the most important subject in the frame should be aligned on one of four axis points in your imaginary nine-square grid within the frame.


  • Keep it short
  • Choose your own fitting editing software, ranging from free softwares such as Windows Movie Maker and iMovie, to professional, pricy softwares such as Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, Corel VideoStudio, Cyberlink PowerDirector and Pinnacle Studio.
  • Publishing can be done via YouTube, Vimeo, and Metacafe.
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Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts · video

Tech Blog Post #6

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog Post #6

Is investigative journalism still alive today even with our current technological advances in social media?

Investigative journalism can be described in many ways: “uncovering the hidden”; “expensive”; “difficult”; “requiring dedication”; “has impact”; “holding power to account

    The hidden

  • So does journalism become investigative when that newness involves uncovering the hidden?

I would argue that it is anything that our audience couldn’t see before – it could be a victim’s story, a buried report, 250,000 cables accessible to 2.5 million people, or even information that is publicly available but has not been connected before.

A journalist that is able to uncover the hidden and provide his target audience with a breaking news story is subject to individual perception.

Narrative and authority

  • it takes an established media outlet to get official reaction

But this does not mean we need journalists – it means that we need publishers and broadcasters. There is a difference.


  • If we can swallow our pride long enough to stop debating the membership requirements of who and what can be in ‘our club’ – whether that’s investigative journalism, watchdog journalism, or just ‘journalism’, we might just have time to help those students – and those who can’t afford to be students, or indeed journalists – do it better.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

STAR Workshop: Adobe Illustrator CS4

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on STAR Workshop: Adobe Illustrator CS4

Adobe Creative Suite 4

Image by Dekuwa via Flickr

Yesterday I went to a STAR Workshop at GMU to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator CS4. Although I have never used any Adobe software before and it was the first time I have even heard of the program, I signed up for the third level course and expected to ask many, many questions in every step the class would go over.

I have been using GNU Image Manipulating Program (GIMP). A free, what many would say ripped alternative of Adobe Photoshop. However, as I sat in the classroom and opened up the Illustrator, I quickly realized that I was already familiar with the interface, including the tool box with buttons that turn on different cursor functions, layer view, color chooser, etc. Some of shortcuts I got used to from GIMP were different in Illustrator, but for the most part, I never had to ask any beginner questions as the class went along. In yesterday’s class, the instructor Tamara Wilkerson went over how to use gradations and distort effects. It was fascinating to see how a simple copy-and-paste can create a reflection of a coffee cup on table, a distorted image of a logo can be adjusted for its color and gradient to look like a realistic shade, and a hexagon can be modified into a snowflake with 3D effect.

Some of differences I noticed between Illustrator and GIMP were:

Adobe Creative Suite 3

Image by lewro via Flickr

  • Illustrator uses vectors — direction and magnitude — to coordinate images, compared to how Photoshop and GIMP uses pixels
  • Because Illustrator uses vectors, a simple shape can be modified into fascinating artwork as long as your imagination can go
  • Artworks can be saved in many conventional formats, including PDF.

With excitation in mind, I ran to the computer store on campus after class to to purchase this awesome Adobe program. However, I was only to be disappointed at the price tag: $199 for a standard package of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat. Instead, I downloaded a free alternative, InkScape later that night to review some of techniques.

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Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts