Online Journalism

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

Steve Buttry-Guest Speaker

March 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Steve Buttry-Guest Speaker

Steve Buttry has spent nearly 40 years in the newspaper business and, having successfully crossed over to digital journalism, is now the the Director for Community Engagement at TBD,  a site that focuses on DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia news. Throughout his lecture today, he engaged the class with several sites that took a news story to another level of online journalism. There were interactive maps, additional video/photo footage, and links that let the reader navigate the story  for themselves.

Helpful tips from Buttry:

  • When you get a story, imagine the best way you could report. Change the reporting process and think of the possible ways the reader can get engaged with the story. As a writer of traditional journalism, we have control of what the viewer reads and in what order. With digital journalism, the reader navigates the story for themselves.
  • Cut and paste your lead from a story and tweet it out for everyone to see, gauge the reaction and if your lead won’t fit into a tweet, then it’s too long.
  • Best rule of journalism: never say no for somebody else. Always interview, gather information because there are some people, even though they have tragic stories, that want to share what’s happened with them to the world.

*A great example of letting your a reader navigate themselves through a story was is The New York Times’ online story about the Japanese nuclear crisis. They have interactive photos that combines before and after shots of certain landscapes in Japan, and the reader can click on an arrow that reveals the after-tsunami photos right over the before shot. You can automatically spot the devastation with this tool, which makes the story that much more shocking.

*Another example of interactive journalism is The Des-Moines Register’s story on the Parkersburg, Iowa tornado that hit May 25 back in 2008. The site has an interactive map of the town that shows all the buildings that were effected. Not only do they map out the damaged buildings and areas, but when you click on them, additional videos,information and pictures pop up about the building. The reader can literally jump from place to place whenever they want, and not have to read through a bunch of paragraphs to get the information they seek.

*This last article, by The Star Tribune about the aftermath of the 35W bridge collapse in central Minneapolis, is perhaps the best interactive story in my opinion that Buttry showed us. The audio especially in the opening video, a mashup of 911 calls and emergency dispatch calls, was the best and most moving part of the story. On the left, you get a scrolling image of the entire bridge, in all its collapsed and crumpled state, that is littered with cars. Each car has a tag that you can click on and on the right hand side, you get information and the story about the individuals in that car. This is the most clever way I can think of to give this story the catastrophic chaos it deserves. It lets the reader decide who he/she wants to feel for and wants to read more about.

This visit from Steve Buttry showed me that journalism is evolving as fast as you can click the button on your mouse. With each new interactive story, reporters find ways to suck the audience into the news. These gave me great ideas for our final project, and I think our group is definitely doing something with an interactive map, where you click on the icon and it gives you the story behind a person or an event.

You can find more of Buttry’s insights on his blog.

Tags: Comm361 · Steve Buttry · Student Blog Posts

Guest Speaker: Steve Buttry

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

Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at TBD, came to speak to our Comm. 361 class today about utilizing social media and digital online tools across various platforms.

 Copyright: tbd.com

Buttry started off his presentation by giving out free goodies from TBD. Hats and iPhone 4 covers with the TBD logo on them. Smart and easy advertising!

He then showed us a website that covered the horrific 35W bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. The article, titled “13 seconds in August”, is an interactive photo that allows viewers to scroll across the whole bridge and get individual stories and information on all the tragedies. It also has an excellent form of crowdsourcing in which readers can e-mail the StarTribune with any information regarding the disasters that are missing information.

He than made a profound statement in which he said “As a writer, YOU have control.” he then said to think of any story in this regard, “How do you want to explore this story?”

  • Gather sound, interviews, videos, pictures and anything else that’s going to effectively ADD to your story in a positive way.

He then showed us a story that was done by the DesMoinesRegister on the Parkersburg, Iowa tornado. It used an interactive map with before, after and remodeled photos of houses and buildings. There were also lots of videos that helped the story out. It basically became a vehicle for self-guided stories and opened the story up to more individual smaller stories. Check out the story here.

The coolest tool that he showed us was GlastoTag. It’s basically a website where photos are uploaded from big events and people can tag themselves in these pictures from the event. VERY COOL!

We then discussed the ever popular Twitter. When asked how Twitter has changed his journalism and he made a few great points:

  • Made him get to the point of a story faster.
  • Made him a better writer.
  • Instant feedback is better than waiting for next day responses.
  • Instead of going to a quote in a story, he can go to a Twitter tweet.

Finally, he ended his presentation with some great quotes for aspiring journalists.

“Always be curious. If a question occurs to you, ASK somebody.”

“Never say no for somebody else. Try it out first.”

“Curiosity and trying new things will make you stand out when applying for jobs.”

Tags: Comm361 · Steve Buttry · Student Blog Posts

Guest speaker: Steve Buttry

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

Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at TBD, spoke to our Comm 371 class about the abilities and effects of video storytelling and how important of a tool it is to help show and explain events.

As a writer, you have control of the story. The user can browse to the page they want to read, skim over certain information, etc.

But with video storytelling, there is shared control of the story with the user. There are pictures, videos, graphics, interviews, etc.to keep the reader engaged and able to find out as much of the story as possible — things that wouldn’t be able to be seen or found in a print article.

Nothing is as impactful as being able to scroll your mouse over an image or play a video that gives more meaning and more detail about what is being reported. It doesn’t matter how many pictures you have in a print newspaper to compensate.

Think of how the story will affect somebody and what needs to be gathered to tell the story beyond the facts. The images, the context, the maps are all extremely important tools to interest the viewer.

Developing storytelling skills will:

  • Create a comfort level with working with all the tools necessary to create a story through video
  • Allow you to do videos in less time and it will become less of an issue as time goes on
  • Help learn a lot and be able to apply certain aspects to the next story you do

The ever-changing world social media is a new concept but it can even help you become a better writer.

Always be curious. If you don’t know the answer to something, ask somebody. Push through any fear or resistance to get what you want.

A very interesting idea that Steve mentioned was to copy and paste your lead into Twitter — if it doesn’t fit, it’s probably too long!

Tags: Comm361 · Steve Buttry · Student Blog Posts

Guest Speaker: Steve Buttry from TBD

March 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Speaker: Steve Buttry from TBD

“Don’t let obstacles become excuses

Always be a curious journalist.

Even if you do not speak the language, find a way.

If your lead does not fit in a Twitter status, it’s too long.

Tags: Comm361 · Steve Buttry · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #9: Guest Speaker Steve Buttry

March 22nd, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #9: Guest Speaker Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement for TBD, joined our class today for a presentation on cross-platform journalism and the different tools and techniques that are applied to many articles and stories today.

Check out his Bio, personal Twitter account, and blog, The Buttry Diary, here.

Professor Klein noted that Buttry understands the social web as well as cross-platform journalism– a skill that journalists really need to focus on.

 

Buttry showed us a compilation of audio, video and pictures done by The Minneapolis Star Tribune on their wesbite covering the collapse of the 35W bridge into the Mississippi River in August 2007 . Titled “13 Seconds in August,” reporters at the Star Tribune tried to find the story of every single vehicle on the bridge. Within one story, there are dozens of stories featured. This type of cross-platform journalism is the way of the future.

 

As a writer in traditonal journalism, there is contol. However, in digital journalism multiple tools are used to let the reader view the story how they want. This in turn changes the style of reporting. There needs to be much more than just interviews- audio and video play a large part in the story telling process.

 

Buttry also showed us a website from The Des Moines Register in Iowa, titled Parkersburg Tornado: The Aftermath. The website features a virtual map of the town of Parkersburg where you can view video of the tornado in addition to before and after pictures of houses hit by the tornado.

 

Buttry stresses to think of the tools you can use when reporting to cover the story in a new, unique way.

 

By using certain tools like taking large scale panoramic photos, as seen with this picture of the Glastonbury Music Festival in England, average citizens are able to tag themselves and add in their own stories, further adding to the main idea of the article.

 

Buttry says, “Think of what would be the best way to tell this story.” Then use the appropriate tools or find a new way and think outside of the box.

When asked what the one thing he could take away from his years of journalism experience was, Buttry replied, “Always be curious.”

Tags: Comm361 · Steve Buttry · 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

Ch.3 ‘Crowd-powered collaboration’

February 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Ch.3 ‘Crowd-powered collaboration’

“The hunter-gatherer model of journalism is no long sufficient. Citizens can do their own hunting and gathering on the Internet. What they need is somebody to add value to that information by processing it–digesting it, organizing it, making it usable.” — Phil Meyer, author of “Precision Journalism”

Briggs starts out the third chapter of “Journalism Next” by writing about how today’s journalists are embracing technology more than ever and using information gathered from citizens to help them assemble their news.

What Briggs writes about reminds a lot about what Mandy Jenkins was talking about when she visited to speak about TBD. TBD uses tweets from people to learn about events and incidents that are happening around the area because TBD is limited to only 15 reporters who can be out on the streets. It also reminds me of Patch as they do the same thing where the editors allow people to e-mail them or tweet them with tips about what’s going on or what they would like to be covered.

The most interesting term I found from the chapter was pro-am journalism. This is the kind of journalism that allows people to publish directly to the same platform the journalists use to publish their news, which also reminds of what Patch does a little bit.

Briggs then goes into detail about crowdsourcing and why it is important for journalists. Crowdsourcing allows communities to focus on a specific project where they can outperform a small group of experienced journalists because they can employ more manpower.

Briggs then talks about invaluable links are to writing for online media. Just a few years ago, linking to the competition was pretty much forbidden, but now it is welcome and many online journalists use it to link to valuable information from other journalists. They do this in the hope that readers will come back to their website because they find that what they link to is credible.

Briggs’ final point is that these types of collaborative journalism aren’t going to go away. With the access to technology that we have now, people are more invested in what is going on right around the corner from them. With companies laying off journalists, media platforms are going to need contribution from ‘regular people’ now more than ever.

Tags: Comm361 · online journalism · Student Blog Posts