Online Journalism

Guest speaker: BJ Koubaroulis

March 31st, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: BJ Koubaroulis

BJ Koubaroulis, former Mason student, wrote for Washington Post in the past, but now is the CEO of Synthesis Multimedia Productions/Koubaroulis LLC.

BJ in front of the camera

He always wanted be a sports writer. He started covering local sports and started enjoying it. He got his learning experiences in small newspapers, he actually didn’t learn as much when he got to the Washington Post.

To be different from everyone else: took on video! We’re seeing that individuals can make a difference in video, instead of big productions.

He started a company with a “bunch of him” that being one-man show video person. The Washington Post contracted them to make videos for online content. Writers do stand-up for them in a way to make the videos more Washington Post material.

What makes them unique? The videos come in two hours after the game is over.

Tips from BJ:

  • “I’ve done a lot of different things. And you should do everything. Radio, newspaper, television. Most of the time for free.”
  • Unpaid internships? You are investing in yourself.
  • Do radio, do video, do everything, because you are doing everything right now. You are a media person. Be all of it, and you will be able to do the one thing you want to do.
  • If you are not going to change, you are going to be left behind. Do all of it.
  • Starting his company, he took people that were journalists at heart.
  • On media, love it, but don’t count on it.
  • What do you need? A camera, computer, microphone, and ready to work hard.
  • Anybody can do what we are doing. You just need the material.

Other clients? Worked with Mason on the digital tour. Worked with Northern Virginia magazine.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts · video

Guest speaker: Mark Potts

March 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Mark Potts

Mark Potts works in the digital world for the past 20 years, and tries to take full advantage of all internet resources.

He started showing us some good examples and resources:

  • Wikipedia: you can find anything, and it’s built by the crowd. It’s looked down upon, but it’s a great way to find an overview of things.
  • Story on the Washington post about a mother who just had a baby. Wash Post used Facebook to tell the story. Quite compelling, a must read.
  • Storify! He had an idea of having a story just made with quotes, but transitions are important.
  • Crowdsourcing! Click here for a good example. Another good example? Snow story in New York.
  • Hyper local news: replicate what community newspaper used to do and still do, but opening for readers involvement.
  • Huge amount of blogs, it’s better to aggregate them instead of creating a new one. That’s where Patch is going wrong.
  • TBD: there are all these blogs out there, let’s cooperate! You take advantage of people who are already doing it. Modern way to look at a city newspaper.  Interesting model.
  • Some bloggers do it for the respect in the community. Journalism is about passion and covering things you care! It’s very different news, it’s what is going on the community and no one else is covering it.
  • Computational journalism: using computers to tell stories. Good example by Nate Silver. Fun to read and unique.
  • Using data in a different way: API making public the way you sort your data. The New York Times has done it.
  • Music program that uses online data:
  • Netflix map by the New York Times. Maps are a very good way to tell stories, and it’s very easy to visualize.
  • Most important tool in journalism: your phone!
  • More maps? Flu map
  • Another idea: visualize the stories by using colors and visualization with newsmap
  • Give the readers a way to interact with the news, create different things, even create news.
  • Interactive timeline that tells the Middle East protest
  • Good blog about journalism and technology: 10,000 word
  • We need to be our own filter!

Tags: Comm361 · Storify · Student Blog Posts

Guest speaker: Steve Buttry

March 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Steve Buttry

Watch this. How many different types of audio can you recognize? 10? 12?

This is how Steve Buttry, the director of community engagement for TBD, started his lecture.

Buttry talks about information gathering and storytelling challenges that organizations have to cover.

Sharing control of the story with the user has changed. In traditional journalism: you have control. In digital storytelling: we share control. How does the reader want to see the story? It changes the story and the way you report. You need to gather sounds,  file an open file request for 911 calls.

Reach out to different resources. Story used ATM cameras and bank cameras to illustrate a tornado damages.

In some cases, animation and voice-overs can tell the story in a better way. For example, the recent tsunami in Japan. Nothing is more powerful than actually seeing the destruction.

You go to a festival. They take a picture of the entire festival and put online so you can tag yourself and your friends. You like the idea? Click here to see a great example of it.

Always keep in mind these questions:

  • What would be the best way to try to tell the story?
  • What do I have to gather to tell that story? Not just the facts, but the images, maps.
  • Are you thinking differently about storytelling?

Tips from Buttry:

  1. Invest on your skills.
  2. Open your minds to find colleagues that know how to do different things, reach out.
  3. Be uncomfortable! You’re not going to develop a new skill if you don’t feel uncomfortable about it! It should be a red flag, you have to go ahead.
  4. Always be curious. If a question comes up to you, always ask the question. Even you don’t know the language.
  5. Never say no for somebody else. Push through the fear and resistance you might have.
  6. Don’t let obstacles become an excuse.
  7. Try new things.

Twitter changed communication forever. You are forced to get to the point. You get an instant feedback.

Tags: Comm361 · Steve Buttry · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 8: telling stories with video

March 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 8: telling stories with video

In this chapter, Briggs makes a point in explaining that good video speaks for itself. No need to edit, do voice overs. No, nothing. Good rough video, and the audience will get the message.

“Visual journalism is about telling compelling stories that connect an audience with subjects, people, and issues.”

Some things are better to understand if you have video. The digital world made video even more accessible and easy to use.

It’s up to you if you want to use your webcam to record video, or if you want to set up a well-illuminated high-quality well-edited video session.

Despite your decision, there are some tips and guidelines you need to follow:

  • Know the approach you’re going to take. Are you breaking news? Is it a highlight clip? Every clip asks for a different approach
  • Plan ahead. Sketch your story. Storyboard! Have an idea in mind before you start.
  • Mix your shots. Use five-shot sequence: 1-close-up on the hands, 2- close-up on the face, 3-wide shot, 4-over-the-shoulder shot, 5-creative shot.
  • Sound is very important in a video!
  • Force yourself to feel comfortable doing stand-ups. Get up!

When shooting a video, keep in mind the focus, zoom, exposure! Think about composition, and keep it short!

You don’t have a camera? Start with your webcam like I did.

Click here to view the embedded video.

If you ready to go out and shoot, get yourself a camera! Not ready to buy a camera? You can always borrow one from the starlab!

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts · video

Guest speaker: Jim Iovino

March 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Jim Iovino


One word: video.

Pat Collins always finds an interesting angle on a story that no one else will have. It’s all about the basic journalism.

  • Good reporting and a good angle=always important. What’s unique about it?

We all know media will be covering the same stories. The website tries to find an unique story, an unique angle. Dig a little bit deeper. This is why you should care. We understand the community. We want to be part of this community. We are there for them.

Collins is a great example. He takes 20 minutes a day to answer questions. It’s a way to connect with the audience. People relate to them!

Other points made by Iovino:

  • NBC is becoming a content center, and tries to reach out different ways. Examples? and Capitals blog on their website.
  • The 20.Voices leading the local conversation.
  • People love to see rough footage.
  • “Just like a good picture speaks for itself, good video speaks for itself.”
  • Major traffic comes from local news, weather, and entertainment.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts · video

NAMI Northern Virginia history project

March 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on NAMI Northern Virginia history project

Mindmeister map

This is our mindmeister map for NAMI Northern Virginia history project.

Our project’s goal is to recover NAMI Northern Virginia history and present it interactively. We will conduct interviews with past board members, do research about the institution, and gather information about its history. We will be using different online platforms to organize and present the information.

Our project will be constructed around an interactive timeline. We’ll be using dipity to create it. We’re planning to use YouTube to post our videos, but they’re also will be linked to the timeline.  We will use batchgeo to create a Google map, and point the locations and programs offered by NAMI Northern Va. The map will be linked to the timeline. Slideshows, scanned documents, and other images will be also linked. We will use social media to disseminate the information we produced, and to reach out to NAMI NOVA established audience.

As group leader, I’ll be responsible to get in touch with our contact, Jeanne Comeau (NAMI NOVA’s board president), and keep her updated on the project. I’ll be scheduling interviews with past board members, and overseeing every part of the project. It’s my role to give video and photo support. I’ll also be responsible for the use of social media in the project. We’re planning to use our twitter account to reach out to potential project contributors, and to get the word out about our project. I’ll be responsible for the project blog, updating it weekly. We might use storify by the end of the project, and I’ll be in charge of that too.

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 11: building a digital audience for news

March 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 11: building a digital audience for news

You’ve created your blog. You tweet about it, you put on Facebook. You want people to read it. Not enough? You’re not having the traffic you wish you had? Mark Briggs is here to help you. And I am too.

  1. First, you need the measure your blog’s traffic. Who is reading your blog? What is the most popular content? You need to track everything you produce. Slideshows, posts, newsletter. Everything. Know what works for your readers, and what doesn’t.
  2. Set your goals. Establish benchmarks.
  3. Use a Web analytics to track your performance. Omniture, Hitbox, and Google Analytics are some examples of services available for that purpose.
  4. Know key data points, such as pageviews, visitors and unique visitors, engagement and referrers.

Heard of search engine optimization (SEO) before? Want your blog to be on top your the Google search? Here are some things to consider:

  • Grow audience with content and links. Briggs said content is king, and linking is queen! Link, link, link! (But make sure they make sense, and go somewhere)
  • Write effective Web headlines. Use key words that will lead readers to your page.
  • Use conversational language, and don’t be boring.

Now it’s time to use social media as distribution channels. Find your audience! Reach out! And happy blogging!

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 10: managing news as a conversation

March 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 10: managing news as a conversation

News is becoming social. The internet is interactive, and allows the news to become a conversation, other just being information.

With news gaining this character, there are some concerns about ethics, credibility, and being objective. As journalism, we have no control of what the reader, and now writer, is going to say about your piece on your website. You’re also responsible for your website content. Where do you cross the line?

We’re finding out by experimenting it. TDB is a great example of how journalists are managing the conversation and creating news. Here are some points to consider along the way:

  • Read the comments! Learn from Jon DeNunzio‘s visit, read and respond comments!
  • Use social media. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace are here for you to connect with  people and spread information. Use it!
  • Be transparent when reporting.
  • Make use of  word-of-mouth as your marketing tool. How? By interacting with the audience.
  • Get instant feedback, and know if you’re on the right track.
  • Set guidelines, and manage offensive posts.
  • Know your legal grounds, and correct errors.

What’s next? Build your own online community. How?

  1. Make your news participatory. Add photos, calendars, blog posts, votes and recommendations. Reader can get bored with the comments section. They might be more likely to answer a survey and vote than to write a comment. Give them the option.
  2. Get involved. Manage the conversation, reach out, moderate.
  3. Develop sources through social networks. Find people that are also interested in the topic, find people that know more.
  4. Collaborate with your community. Link. Talk to other bloggers.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · social media · 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

C-SPAN: Dan Rather

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on C-SPAN: Dan Rather

Dan Rather, former news anchor for CBS Evening News, joined students participating in the George Mason University Video Studio on C-SPAN conference on Feb.  24. Rather talked about the changes and challenges journalism is facing. 

The distance learning course produced by C-SPAN gives students an opportunity to talk to guests via video conference.

Journalism is about passion, investigative work, and news gathering. No matter the platform.

“American journalism today needs a spine transplant,” Rather said.

Tucker Carlson joined Rather in the conversation, giving his scoop about journalism. “Best journalism is tough,” Carlson said. Carlson and Rather agreed on the fact that journalism is about the facts: getting  them straight and simple to the audience. Here are some points discussed by Rather:
  • Rather on good journalism:

“Curiosity, determination, ability to do right. Ability to write well and critically,” Rather said.

  • Rather was the CBS anchor for years, and he was the person that gave Americans some bad news throughout the years.

 “You are hit by the same emotions. As a pro, you have to train to get yourself out of the story.”

  • When Kennedy died, he had the change had the chance to watch a video of JFK assassination, and describe it on television.  He had to put his own feeling aside in order to pass the right message. He repeated the expression zone out a couple of times when referring to reporting on television.
  • How did Rather get the opportunity to cover major events?

“I’m a reporter that got lucky.”

  • Lucky and good journalism. Rather wouldn’t be in the media for so long if he wasn’t good at what he does.
  • What is news for Rather?

“News is something  important that people need to know that somebody in power doesn’t want them to know.”

  • Rather emphasized the importance of investigative reporting. Journalists have to keep an eye on politicians. We need to understand that news matters!
  • He also touched on the point that politicians are learning how to control and manipulate the media.
  • We need to educate readers consumers in order to avoid that to happen.
  • Will CBS be around in 10 years?

” The dominant place for information is the internet.”

Old news models need to adapt to the new model and transformation in order to stay alive.

“President Obama is our first internet president,” Rather said.

During the conversation, the topic news gathering vs. news packaging came up. News packaging is becoming majority of it. Part of the new media evolution is to have journalists aggregating information, instead of creating content. Rather said there is still a demand for creating content, someone has to report the new stuff.


Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts