Online Journalism

Guest Speaker: Mark Potts

April 7th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Speaker: Mark Potts

Mark Potts, who is a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, came and spoke to our Comm. 361 class on March 29. He has been exploring the digital world for 19 years and is always looking for new tools to utilize.

Copyright: newsonomics.com

During Potts presentation, he gave us TONS of wonderful resources, helpful websites, and examples of well-done storytelling.

One thing that I was especially surprised to hear was that he spoke very highly of Wikipedia and called it “a fantastic news site”.  After constantly hearing from professors that it’s not a reputible source of information, here Potts comes saying he thinks it’s great. He explained how its got voluminous work and is built by the crowd, which adds to it’s resourcefulness.

He then showed us a story done in December of 2010 that utilized Facebook as the medium to telling the story. So in essence,Facebookdid the storytelling and the rest fell into place. The article is called “A Facebook story: A mother’s joy and a family’s sorrow” and can be found here.

He explained how Storify gives the reader structure and some kind of flow, but doesn’t necessarily work for every story. He definitely believes that crowdsourcing is a HUGE component to storytelling today and very beneficial.

“Do what you do best and link to the rest,” Potts said towards the middle of his presentation. I thought this was very powerful and presented the fact that using outside resources and stories to LINK to your story is a good thing.

Another big topic that came up, as always, was Twitter. His take on it was incredibly different from what we’ve been hearing from previous speakers. He said:

  • He only uses it to tweet his recent blog posts
  • Doesn’t care for it
  • Doesn’t see it as that interesting
  • Isn’t filtered
  • There’s just too much stuff

I was very surprised to hear this, but understood what he meant at the same time. It’s good to find the pros and cons to everything, and since we’ve ONLY been hearing the pros it was cool to get a different perspective.

He ended his presentation by saying that he stopped reading print news years ago because there’s better writing on the web. He explained how30 years ago only way you got info was the newspaper. It was the only option you had. He explained how newspapers are out of date the second they’re published, but that the web is constantly keeping up to the SECOND with information.

His final statement, which stuck with me for the rest of the day was, “We need to be our own filters today.” Basically saying, there’s so much information out there, but WE need to be responsible consumers.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · Storify · Student Blog Posts

Guest Speaker: BJ Koubaroulis

April 7th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Speaker: BJ Koubaroulis

BJ Koubaroulis, former George Mason University student who graduated with a B.A. in Communication in 2004, spoke to our Comm. 361 class on March 31. He currently works a a sports writer at The Washington Post.

Copyright: wjmc.gmu.edu

The first thing he spoke about was how “you’ll start from the bottom and work your way up: that’s how you learn.” While it may seem like an obvious statement, it’s easy to forget that the only way you’re going to learn is by making your mistakes NOW instead of when it REALLY matters.

He recommends working at a small paper to give you an opportunity to 1) learn and 2) make your mistakes.

Going along with that, he said he learned the most at his internships and the small newspapers he worked for.

He explained how he fell in love with high school sports and actually enjoyed it the most out of all his sports coverage for three reasons: 1) Most access, 2) Most real people, and 3) The people actually enjoy speaking to you.

He then spoke a lot about video. That words seems to keep appearing. He explained how video has been a life changing experience for him. He explained how individuals can harness the power of video, whereas before media companies were needed to utilize video. ANYONE CAN DO IT.

Video allowed him to become a better writer. If that’s not reason enough to learn video, then I don’t know what is.

He then explained how everyone should learn:

  • How to use the Web
  • HTML
  • Social media
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Pictures

And with that he had this to say about journalism today: “It’s just one job now. Everything is intermixed.”

“If you’re not going to change, you’re just going to get left behind.”

“Do all of it, don’t limit yourself.”

He then ended his presentation with FOUR things every journalist should have:

  1. Camera
  2. Computer
  3. Microphone
  4. Be ready to work!

In conclusion, he also showed us a REALLY cool website that incorporated all the things he’s talking about. It is an interactive website of George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. Check it out here.

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

Kevin Anderson- Guest Speaker

April 7th, 2011 · Comments Off on Kevin Anderson- Guest Speaker

Kevin Anderson, now working for Al Jazeera Arabic in Doha, Qatar, has over a decade of journalism experience under his belt. Along with jobs at The Guardian and BBC News, Anderson has been a digital journalist since 1996 and rode the .com boom to becoming the BBC’s first online journalist outside of the UK.

Anderson’s main points:

  • What tools do journalists need to know how to use?
  1. Internships
  2. Setting up blogs (knowing how to write, take pictures, edit video)
  • The role of social media in journalism today?

The major role is “networked journalism”

  1. Not enough to build a website, make sure content is available and take it to places were people are congregating online, like Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Using networks to find sources and add voices to our journalism
  • How do we differentiate ourselves as journalist?

If we amplify everyvoice it just becomes noise(when it comes to people trying to be their own reporters) it’s still important to make editorial choices. We just have a richer wider choice of quotes.

Kevin and his wife, Suw Charman-Anderson, have a blog called the Corante. Check out their postings.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · 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: Jim Iovino

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

Jim Iovino, editor from NBC Washington, came and spoke to our Comm. 361 class today. He spoke to us about online journalism and how to make it better than the next person.

 Copyright: megancloherty.com

Iovino started his journalism working as a writer for a newspaper in Pittsburgh, then transferred over to TV, then was a senior news editor in Columbus, Ohio, then finally came to Washington, D.C. to pursue his career as an online journalist.

I wanted to be ahead of the next curve,” Iovino said. “I knew that there was a transition from print journalism to online journalism and I was ready to get into it.”

He showed us a video that Pat Collins did during the DMV snowstorm of 2010. The video, which can be viewed here was just an interview of a woman who walked 6 milesin the snow for a free sandwich. Iovino explained that Pat is good at what he does because he’s not afraid to take chances and cover stories others don’t even think of.

Iovino said, “Find an interesting angle to a story that you think nobody else is going to have and OWN it.” Don’t be afraid to try something different and see how it does.

Iovino explained how there’s a lot of collaborating on the NBC Washington website. He showed us the blog The 20 which has various blog posts from other journalists in which people can comment on.

How do you set yourself apar from others?

Iovino explained how, “You want to be the first one out there with the story. You want to be able to say that YOU were the first one to break the story.”

He also showed us a really cool part of the website called “Adept or Inept” which is an original series produced by American University’s Spring 2011 Intro to Studio Television class. It’s a site compiled of student produced videos that has ordinary people learn how to do certain skills such as become a male cheerleader, dance hip-hop, or even bellydance. At the end of the video viewers can then vote whether they found the person to be adept or inept to the skill. Very cool!

In regards to video, Iovino explained that, “People love to see rough footage.”

Sometimes less really is more. Very helpful presentation.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts · video

MediaShift: How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on MediaShift: How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide

You never know when just an act of fun can turn into a social media frenzy.

The article titled How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide“, byTerri Thorton, is an amazing example of how an innocent video placed on a social media outlet can go a long way in the world.

The article talks about how the city of Atlanta, GA got hit with a few inches of snow that then got topped off with a sheet of ice back on Sunday January the 9th of this year. At about 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning videographer and web developer Brian Danin and his wife spotted a skater skating on Peachtree Street. While Danin didn’t have his normal equipment, he shot the footage of the skater with his Droid X smartphone.

It was one of those ironic moments, ” Danin said.

Danin then uploaded the video to YouTube. Andrew Nendel, the skater, had handed his pocket video recorder to a security guard and uploaded the result to Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport.

Neither Danin nor Nendel knew how popular this video was going to become. Not only did the video become widespread and an instant hit, but it also had an effect on the city of Atlanta’s snow removal system.

Click here to view the embedded video.

“The video became emblematic of the pressure on the city and the state to clear the roads and get things back to normal.”

I thought this was a really interesting article because it showed how the social media tool of YouTube was not only able to create an incredibly popular video and story, but also helped in fixing a problem with the city of Atlanta’s lack of proper snow removal measures.

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

MediaShift: How to Integrate Social Tools into the Journalism Classroom

February 25th, 2011 · Comments Off on MediaShift: How to Integrate Social Tools into the Journalism Classroom

This couldn’t be a better article for the relevance of this Comm. 361 Online Journalism class. This article gives an excellent overview of some innovative websites that can be used for classes dealing with journalism.

MediaShift is a website which tracks how social media, weblogs, podcasting, citizen journalism, wikis, news aggregators and online video are changing the media world.

This particular article, by Nathan Gibbs, gives a list of SEVEN social media techniques and websites that can be utilized in the classroom. The seven areas are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Group blogs
  3. WordPress
  4. Social Curation
  5. Collaborative Writing
  6. Mind Mapping
  7. Experimentation

Facebook:

  1. Facebook groups: students utilizing Facebook groupsis beneficial as students are already using Facebook so it eliminates making a new user name/password, it takes little effort to “like” or comment on students work, and it encourages more interaction.
  2. Facebook pages: such Facebook pages can be utilized to post stories and get sources for other stories.

Group blogs: group blogs are a great way to introduce students to online writing and basic web publishing; the kind of work they’ll be doing as journalists. He suggests using Tumblr or Posterous.

WordPress: Gibbs explains how WordPress opens the door to extensive customization. Users are able to enhance the blogging experience and really take their work to a new level.

Social Curation: Gibbs explains how it’s important that students know how to collect and annotate messages from social media websites. Storify, Curated.by and Keepstream all allow users to gather and embed social media messages for use in blog posts and articles.

Collaborative Writing: Gibbs explains how Google Docs is an excellent editing tool that allows multiple contributors to write at the same time and track revisions.

Mind Mapping: Gibbs explains how structured brainstorming helps people organize their ideas based on their relationship to other aspects. He suggests using Mind Meister to implement online collaboration.

Experimentation: Trying new things and learning what works and what doesn’t is a huge component to journalism. Making sure to apply one’s journalistic curiosity by exploring how new social tools can further your storytelling skills.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · social media · Storify · Student Blog Posts