Journalism 2.0
How to survive and thrive in the digital age

This blog is a companion to the book I have written. It will teach current (and future) journalists the skills they need to do better journalism with the help of digital technology. More information about the book.


What about recording phone calls, editing and converting audio?

I was pleased to see some action on the blog today after J-Lab sent a notice to its email listserv. There appears to be a lot of interest in digital audio tools, so we’ll continue with that theme. In addition to comments on the previous post, I received a handful of emails with questions and recommendations that I’ll repurpose here for the benefit of others.

Gina Falcone-Rupp reports that her team at McClatchy Interactive has been using an Olympus DS 2 with success. “Sound quality is decent and we’ve been able to easily convert the WMA files to RA (using Real Producer Basic) and MP3 (using iTunes).”

Another emailer asked: what about recording phone calls? You can use any portable recording device or directly into your computer if you pick up a relatively cheap gadget from Radio Shack. (So often, the Shack has the answer.) The full scoop is outlined in this OJR article from a couple years ago. If you don’t have a microphone jack on your computer, you can plug the device into your digital recorder, and then download it to your computer.

For info on the Radio Shack gadget, go here.

So let’s discuss some more recommendations. What about recording phone calls? Does the Radio Shack gadget work for you or have you found something better.

What about editing audio – is everyone using Audacity? It’s free and easy to use, but maybe someone’s found something better. Reid Magney mentioned Goldwave in the comments, but I haven’t used it before.

And how about converting audio from WAV to MP3 or WMA to WAV? My favorite free program is Jet Audio, but it doesn’t work on the Mac. Bryan Murley uses EasyWMA on the Mac. Do you like something better?


Posted by MarkBriggs on Monday, October 23, 2006
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Best digital recorder for reporters

A common question on new media listservs and within newsrooms centers on which digital audio recorder is the best one to buy (if you’re in the market). As with most purchasing decisions, the answer depends on how much you can afford to spend and, naturally, the more expensive options are generally better than the cheaper ones. That said, here is a list of my recommendations at different pricing levels. I only have experience with the Olympus and the M-Audio machines, but thought I’d find a couple mid-range options to include in the book.

Do you have a favorite? Or know of one to avoid? If so, or if you have any experience with any of these models please post a comment or {encode="" title="send me a note"}.

$100 range: Olympus WS-100

$200 range: Diasonic DR-51128

$400 range: Edirol R-1

$500 range: M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96


Posted by MarkBriggs on Monday, October 23, 2006
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Explaining Web 2.0 to techno-neophyte newsies

Most of us who work in new media for news organizations – or those coaching from the dugout like academics, consultants and vendors – can’t get enough “Web 2.0” in their lives. No matter what you think about the loaded label, I’ll bet you’re a big fan of sites like Technorati, eBay, craigslist, wikipedia, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, and del.ic.ious. If not in actual usage, then from a distance in awe of the community each has created (in a short time with absolutely no marketing, oh by the way).

But how do you transfer this zeal to the non-initiated without having eyes gloss over from talk of tags, pings, APIs and AJAX?

Naturally, the best approach to take when explaining complicated technological concepts is to break them down into easily digestible parts. The first chapter of my book aims to explain Web 2.0 and why its advent is important to journalism and news companies. I plan to break it down into two main sections: 1) the future is now; and 2) you can do this.

Have you seen (or written) a good column, essay or blog post that will help? {encode="" title="Send me a link"} or post it with a comment to this post.

Posted by MarkBriggs on Sunday, October 15, 2006
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Who is this book intended for?

There are still more than 50,000 reporters, editors and photographers working at newspapers today, despite all the cuts in recent years. That’s a lot of folks who don’t know an RSS feed from chicken feed.

If you have worked at a newspaper or TV news station, you know the number of web-savvy staffers is far outnumbered by those not “in the know.” And if the Fourth Estate is to survive the digital revolution, everyone is going to have the pick up a weapon and join the fight.

That’s why this book is so important. We have to give power to the people - all the people - in the best position to use it. If we succeed, anyone at a newspaper, magazine, TV station or radio station with a copy of the book or the URL to the web site will be able to launch a blog the same day he or she gets the notion. (With proper editor approval, of course.)

It has to be that fast - there is no time to waste.

Drawing on my own experience in the newsroom at The News Tribune in Tacoma where I work, the time is ripe. There is a noticeable shift in the mindset of “traditional” journalists – those who haven’t gone digital yet. They’re yearning for learning about this new medium and are anxious to apply it to their work.
Plus, technology is changing so fast that by the time we collect the best information on the best ways to learn this stuff, there will be something better. So let’s work fast and get this out there for others to begin their transformation.

If you have a link to a great online resource that has proved helpful for you, post it to the comments section of this blog. And if you have a digital copy of a handout that you’ve used to teach someone else one of the many digital concepts and are willing to share, {encode="" title="send it to me in email"}. Your generosity is appreciated.

Posted by MarkBriggs on Wednesday, October 04, 2006
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J-Learning is an initiative of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism. J-LabTM is an incubator for innovative, participatory news experiments and is a center of American University's School of Communication in Washington, D.C.
J-Learning was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

American University School of Communication

Knight Foundation

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