Online Journalism

Entries Tagged as 'New York Times'

Tech Blog #11: Guest Speaker Mark Potts

March 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #11: Guest Speaker Mark Potts

Mark Potts, journalist and digital pioneer, spoke to our class today. He helped create the Washington Post website, served as editor for various news websites and has worked in the media field for nearly 20 years.

Check out his blog Recovering Journalist.

Potts showed us a variety of different websites that all present unique ways of telling stories:

  • Wikipedia — As soon as a story breaks, there is always a collection of new data and compilations by citizen journalists. A lot of journalists look down on Wikipedia, but Potts believes it’s a great tool for researching.
  • Washington Post article “A Facebook Story” — used Facebook as a story telling device to create a human-interest story
  • Storify – Pulls pictures and tweets to create a unique storytelling platform. However, it doesn’t work for everything. A downside is that the reader has to pull together the story themself without any transitions.
  • Baristanet – example of hyperlocal news with an organic focus.
  • TBD — Combined a variety of users’ blogs to create local news coverage from the public without having to hire other local-based journalists.
  • FiveThirtyEight – A blog that follows and analyzes political polls and looks at how electoral votes are being represented during elections.
  • The Texas Tribune – Non- profit website that covers serious topics in the state government that other news organizations seem to overlook.
  • Tubeify — Music website that uses the Billboard program and lets users travel through the years to see what was ranked on the charts in the past.
  • New York Times interactive map “A Peek Into Netflix Queues” — Lets you mouse over neighborhoods in big cities to see what the top 10 rentals are according to zip codes.
  • Google’s Flu Trends — Maps flu trends based on searches the Google database.
  • Newsmap — Kind of like a Tag Cloud, it features a variety of stories color-coded by type to see what’s going on in the world.
  • A few websites like NCAA Probe  , Play the News  and Predict the News  let users play interactive games featuring certain news-worthy events or situations.

Potts also explained the term crowd sourcing, which is asking the audience what they know and letting them report on what they find. For example,  certain news outlets might ask the public to call in when there is a pothole somewhere or allow them to go through government documents to see if they can turn up any suspicious information.

“Twitter is nothing but noise,” said Potts. It has “a fire hose of stuff.” Potts believes that at times Twitter can be useful, and says it is an excellent publicity tool and something necessary that journalists should keep up with. However, Potts says there are too many posts without filters, something I definitely agree with.

When asked what the most important tool for journalists in the last five years has been, Potts pointed to his iPhone.

Potts encourages the use of a variety of different mediums for telling stories and writing articles. “You don’t have to tell every story in words,” said Potts.

Tags: Comm361 · New York Times · Storify · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 9: Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

March 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 9: Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

graphic design work by Emmanuel Cloix

Image via Wikipedia

Digital life is based upon a gratuitous amount of information and data; therefore, managing the data is the most critical part of digital life in journalism. Organized data not only helps journalists retrieve their memories from certain events via computer-assisted reporting, but also helps keeping in contact with colleagues and people of interest, and even coming up with new story ideas. Data-driven journalism excels in the following areas: depth, customization, searchability and long shelf life. The areas of management ranges from:

  • Emails
  • Contacts
    • Digitally stored contact lists expedites search
  • To-do lists
  • Calendars
  • Notes
  • Productivity tools
    • Word processing
    • Spreadsheets
    • Presentations
    • Images
    • Databases
    • Project management
    • Web or graphic design
    • Collaboration with colleagues

Besides Google and Office Live, there are a variety of productivity tools that one can start with

  • Instapaper: Saves web pages to be read later
  • Remember the Milk: To-do list manager
  • Oh don’t forget: Reminder tool that uses SMS
  • Evernote: To-do list and note taking utility that can also record audio using cell phone
  • Jott: Audio to-do list
  • Dropbox: Collaborative cloud file storage
  • Backpack: Organizer that is used for document sharing, plus notes, task lists and calendar
  • Basecamp: Team project manager
  • Socrata: Database and spreadsheet-managment
  • MindMeister: Brainstorming helper that uses mip-maps

Often these services use cloud-computing method — in which the user accesses the third-party server outside of his or her own computer to use the service. This method requires internet connection at all times, but it is also convenient that the user does not need to always bring the storage required for the project.

The ability to share data is also a critical advantage in data-driven journalism. Several large news organizations such as the New York Times, the BBC, NPR, and the Guardian utilize application program interface (API) to allow anyone to borrow their data and build tools for their webpages. The API helps circulation of the digital ecosystem, bringing up full potentials of any data provided. Some of examples include interactive maps that geographically explain certain stories.

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Tags: Comm361 · New York Times · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #9: Guest Speaker Steve Buttry,’s Director of Community Engagement

March 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #9: Guest Speaker Steve Buttry,’s Director of Community Engagement

Director of Community Engagement Steve Buttry for was in class with us today!

Buttry started by showing us a social media project that the Star Tribune worked on in mid- to late-2007. It involved a slide show of pictures and sounds that depicted the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minn. The bridge used to cross over the Mississippi River.

He then pulled up a picture that showed the entire bridge, crumbled. Virtually every story (just over 100 in total) from everyone involved was included in this picture in the form of numbers on the picture. A viewer could just click on the number and hear/see that person’s account/experience of the event.

THAT’S good storytelling. THAT’S something I would want to read.

Another project he showed us was one the Des Moines Register worked on about the tornado that wiped out Parkersburg, Iowa. The piece, which can be seen here, collected many of the town’s security camera’s footage when the tornado struck. Certainly a fascinating (and breathtaking) way to see the damage for an outsider.

Next, he showed us satellite before-and-after photos of the recent Japan tsunami disaster that was posted on the New York Times Web site. That project, which was possibly the most striking, is here.

The Gigapan site he showed us, though, is something I could seriously look at all day long. Absolutely incredible. This is hilarious, too. This, too.

All of these were shown to us to prove that “if you do the biggest and best stuff” you will reap the rewards. Respect will be earned simply due to the clear effort is put into a project — if you put a lot of effort into a project, more likely than not, it shows and readers WILL take note.

Buttry closed with advising to always be curious — “If a question occurs to you, ask that question.”

Never say no for somebody else,” Buttry also recommends. There’s no reason to ever turn anyone down for a good quote.

Buttry’s blog, the Buttry Diary, can be found here.

Tags: Comm361 · New York Times · Steve Buttry · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 5: Going Mobile

February 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 5: Going Mobile

In New York Times in 2009, John Markoff wrote “the four billion cellphones in use around the globe carry personal information, provide access to the Web and are being used more and more to navigate the real world.” The mobile technology already has evolved enough to create a whole new field in journalism: mobile reporting. Due to its flexibility and wide availability, mobile reporting fills the gap of coverage where professional journalists cannot fill in. Mobile technology is an essential tool for journalists, but it is also hard to adopt with its jet-fast evolution.

Mobile Journalism

  • Those who practice mobile journalism are often referred as “backpack journalist” or a “mojo” (mobile journalist).
  • Among one billion mobile phones sold in 2008, 100 percent offer text messaging, 92 percent have a Web browser, 90 percent have a color screen, and 71 percent can send and receive “picture messaging” and 63 percent have a camera.
  • Despite these capabilities, publishing is constrained by the major telecommunication companies.
  • Upcoming technologies should focus on publishing to mobile audiences to help mobile reporting evolve.

Making Mobile Journalism

Mobile phone evolution

Image via Wikipedia

Gadgets and services take up the most of what a journalist can do and cannot do. Depending on the needs, a journalist may equip with simple devices such as smartphones — Blackberry, iPhone, etc, or carry a variety of camera, tripod, audio recorder, microphone and a laptop.

The main point of mobile journalism is being available anytime, anywhere. Keep your luggage simple, and be ready to pull out your device whenever you need to.

◊ How to choose what to report

  1. Will the audience benefit if we can take them there?
  2. Will the journalism be better if it’s done with urgency?
  3. Can this event be effectively communicated with the given device?
  4. Will sound reporting or video footage, turned around quickly, help people understand the story?

◊ Some of stories that can be reported mobile:

  1. TrialsSpeechesBreaking news of all types — fires, shootings, natural disasters, wilderness rescues, plane crashes, and auto accidents
  2. Public gathering such as protests
  3. Sporting events
  4. Grand openings of shops or restaurants

As there are always many types of of anything, we also categorize mobile journalists with their equipments.

Gearhead: A mojo, characterized with heavy backpack or a shoulder bag with electronic cords sticking out, who reports all day, everday. This person always has, or wants as many as the most recent and advanced equipments available in the world. This type of mobile journalists will need

  1. Laptop
  2. Internet connection
  3. Camera
  4. Video camera
  5. Tripod
  6. Audio recorder
  7. Headphones
  8. Microphone
  9. Cell phone — or smartphone, rather

Light Packer: Traditional journalists who occasionally reports immediately from the field. This person has, or wants just good enough equipments. They usually bring a smartphone that has a camera that shoots videos and pictures and a full QWERTY keyboard.

Publishing Options

There are many ways to report using mobile devices from the field. One may use Twitter or for microblogging, laptop or more advanced apps on smartphones for live blogging, video streaming services such as Qik or YouTube for mobile video broadcasting, or combine altogether to accomplish mobile multimedia.

Mobile Crowdsourcing

Every news organization should be ready to accept photos and videos from mobile devices for breaking news. Some news organizations, such as CNN’s iReport, has already gathered a significant amount of crowds sourcing mobile multimedia feeds for their news.

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Tags: Comm361 · New York Times · Student Blog Posts

‘The Daily Show’ on Aged News

February 11th, 2011 · No Comments

Tags: New York Times · The Daily Show