Online Journalism

Digitize me, please

March 23rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Digitize me, please

“Its time for everyone to accept that the amount of information in our lives is going to keep growing” – Mark Briggs

As the world is transitioning into socialization on the Web, it is also transitioning into a world of digital data. The amount of information we have at our fingertips through the Internet is incredible. Even more unbelievable, still, is the enormous amount of tools we have to deal with that overwhelming supply.

In terms of email, we are able to label and store messages in folders on the basis of sender, date, or topic. We used to only be able to open our files on the computer it was created on, but with the advent of cloud computing, we are now able to open our files wherever we go, whenever we want, so long as an internet connection is available.

But wait, this article is only talking about how digitalization effects you personally. How has this transition affected the journalism world and how will it effect you as a journalist?

I’m glad you asked. One of the most important ways that the digital movement has changed journalism is by allowing reader networks. “These databases organized the contacts that already existed in the newsroom, creating a valuable tool for its journalists to use while conducting and distributing reporting,”says Mark Briggs. No longer did reporters have to make use of their own personal Rolodex, they could tap in to the sources of all their coworkers, allowing them to create even better stories.

Digitilization has also allowed newsrooms to organize their world. Through programs such as Basecamp, news rooms are able to “track all the news stories, photographs and other elements that go into the newspaper and onto its Web site every day.” This way reporters, editors, and all other staff members can be aware of the progress of a story, and there is no more missed communication.

Data-driven journalism has also been born through digital transition. Through this practice, newspapers are able to provide to their audiences “a searchable database format,” that allows them to find the facts they want about a certain topic. In this chapter, Briggs cites an example of the The News Press publishing a database of FEMA handouts after the 2004 hurricanes in Florida. “In the first 48 hours, visitors to the site performed more than 60.,00 searches. Each person wanted to know who got paid what in his or her neighborhood, and The News-Press was able to help each person find out without writing thousands of different stories.”

Databases cannot tell all digital stories, however. A driving factor of many stories may be location. With the creation of Google Maps, reporters are now able to pinpoint exactly where a given event occurs. These “map mashups,” as they are referred to, are especially useful in traumatic situations. The Des Moines Register used the idea of mapping to tell a story perfectly when it covered the aftermath of the Parkersburg tornado. The Register embedded a map on to its webpage and allowed users to click on different locations on that map. As they clicked on the different pinpoints, the viewers were able to see images homes before the tornado, directly after the tornado, and after the reconstruction. Even more exciting, viewers were able to watch security camera footage which captured the tornado’s destruction in a way nothing else could. Without the digital transition, an interactive and incredible story like this could not be told.

This surplus of information, data, and data-computing programs, seems overwhelming at first look, but don’t let it discourage you. These tools are aiding us as reporters to create stories in ways that have never been thought possible. Digitilization is making journalism’s future bigger and brighter than ever before!

To hear professional journalists speak about data driven journalism, watch this video.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Practice makes perfect: a beginner’s guide to videography

March 23rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Practice makes perfect: a beginner’s guide to videography

“The only way to learn video journalism is by doing it. It will take time and practice to master the fundamentals. But don’t let that stop you from trying to learn, because you must just DO IT, over and over, to get good at it. The best thing you can do is attempt to make all your mistakes as quickly as possible.”- Angelena Grant of

Many journalists feel intimidated by the idea of videography, feeling that high level video work is necessary when telling a story visually. This, however, could not be farther from the case. Our audiences don’t care if our filming is worthy of the next Academy Award. They are very forgiving with the level of skill apparent in the video. “If it’s authentic, if it takes a viewer to a news event or behind the scenes of somewhere important, it works,” says Mark Briggs.

The only item you will need in order to create video journalism, at the most basic level, is a digital camera, or a smart phone with video capabilities. If you are more experienced with video, though, you can try adding the following items in to the mix:

  • Large capacity batteries
  • Additional mini-DV tape or storage capacity on memory cards
  • External microphones
  • Tripod
  • Lighting equipment

Once you have suitable equipment for your reporting, you should get out on the field and practice shooting. Some methods you should focus on as you verse yourself in videography include:

  • Getting good clips so you don’t waste time editing
  • Avoiding panning and zooming
  • Holding your shots so you will have more material to work white
  • Staying silent so you don’t produce unwanted audio
  • Framing and composing the footage in a way flattering to your subject
  • Ensuring that you can hear the subject, because, as Angela Grant states, “if you can’t hear what people are saying, there’s no point in watching the piece.”

After you have collected film that meets some, or better yet all, of these qualifications you can edit the image. Some things to keep in mind during editing include:

  • Making sure that your video software is compatible with your video equipment
  • Keeping the piece short as viewers lose interest more quickly on the Web

Once you have produced your final product, you are ready to distribute your piece. Before placing your video online, it is important that it is compressed, facilitating easier downloading. YouTube is just one source that compresses files for its users, but if you are up to the challenge, you can always compress the file yourself. When the video is placed on the web it is important to consider the audience. If you want your family, friends, and a small amount of loyal followers to view your video, than you will probably just want to upload it to your website. If you want millions of people, perhaps around the world, to see the piece, then uploading to YouTube or another video-sharing site is imperative.

Although you may fear that viewers will not watch your piece because it is not up to par with that of news stations such as NBC, your viewers will still appreciate and watch your work. It is imperative that you remember that the quality of your videography skills is not what is important in your stories, it is the quality of your content.

To learn more about video journalism, watch this video.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts