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 He explained how newspapers are out of date the second they’re published, but that the web is constantly keeping up to the SECOND with information.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

Lecture by B.J. Koubaroulis from The Washington Post

March 31st, 2011 · Comments Off on Lecture by B.J. Koubaroulis from The Washington Post

Mason Alum! It’s not just basketball; B.J. Koubaroulis is continuing to make the Patriots look good!

“A Washington Post sports writer/producer and CEO of Synthesis Multimedia Productions/Koubaroulis LLC,” Koubaroulis’ twitter biography defines him.

He gradated GMU in 2004, “Like everyone, you expect to be covering the Yankees, and then you realize you’re covering High school JV girl’s lacrosse; kind of heart breaking. You start from the bottom but that’s how you learn,” said Koubaroulis.

Regarding his company, Synthesis Multimedia Productions, Koubaroulis said, “We go to a game and produce a package from the game. A lot of people can produce video, but what makes us unique is the fact our game packages are ready in two hours.”

Ask the Caps! BY THE WAY, The Washington Post’snew hot niche is a media ploy where readers can submit questions to players of the Capitol’s. Guess who hosts the three minute video? Koubaroulis does! Check it out, Matt Bradley, answers!

He urged his fellow Patriots to learn these different aspects of multimedia journalism. “Anybody can do what we’ve done. You just need to buy to equipment. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Get something cheap off of Craigslist,” Koubaroulis said.

Tags: Comm361 · multimedia · Student Blog Posts

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

Lecture by Jon DeNunzio from The Washington Post

March 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Lecture by Jon DeNunzio from The Washington Post

Jon DeNunzio, User Engagement Editor, The Washington Post. (former Online Sports Editor) Follow Jon’s tweets!

DeNunzio came to George Mason University on Mar. 3, 2011; he talking about integrating Social Media Into your journalism.

Background: 

  • Graduated UVA in 1991
  • Was not a journalism major
  • Concentrated in high school sports at Washington post 2000-2007
  • Got into digital communication to keep a job

One of the biggest highlights of the lecture was when he talked about third party platforms. He asked, “Who is Mashall McLuhan?” He then showed the Annie Hall Youtube video. YOU SHOULD WATCH IT. The just of the video is a quote, “The medium is the message”- McLuhan 1964.

DeNunzio blasted back, “Its not the media, it’s the social.”

And of course, he gave a few websites that as online journalists we should all be aware of. They are:

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #5: Guest Speaker Jon DeNunzio

March 7th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #5: Guest Speaker Jon DeNunzio

Jon DeNunzio, User Engagement Editor at The Washington Post, visited our class for a lecture on how social media is impacting journalism today and how we can use it to our advantage.

DeNunzio gave us a list of a few social media website worth looking into:

He also stressed that “It’s not the media, it’s the social,” rather than “The medium is the message,” referring to a quote from Marshall McLuhan.

DeNunzio also gave some great advice for job interviews. In your cover letter, talk about how you can connect with users in journalism — it will set you apart from other prospective applicants.

For more information, check out Jon DeNunzio’s Tumblr account or follow his Tweets on his personal Twitter account!

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts