Know a good site for digital photography instruction
In an earlier post, I included links to some wonderful site for step-by-step instruction on audio and video production. But what, a careful readers asks, about digital photography.
The best site I know about is shortcourses.com. Do you know a better one?
User generated audio and video all mixed up
One of the new companies given the spotlight at the highly touted TechCrunch 40 conference this week may be of interest to the online journalism field.
According to the TechCrunch blog:
StoryBlender is an online collaborative video production platform where people can work together to “blend” their content into a new multimedia show. StoryBlend’s online editing tool lets users create videos by “blending” images, sound, text, and video clips. When users have created new video blends they can then share it with their friends and the StoryBlend community.
I haven’t had a chance to play around with it, but at a glance, it looks like Soundlides plus video plus user generated content. Whether it takes off or not, it gives another clue to the direction online content is heading.
Seeking a younger audience for your journalism
I attended a panel discussion Monday night with representatives from King 5, Seattle Times, MSNBC, Crosscut, the Stranger and DailyKos. Called “Today’s News: A Webolution in Progress,” it was sponsored by the Washington News Council and took place at the Seattle Public Library.
The most interesting exchange - to me, anyway - came when the topic of how to attract younger readers came up.
The mainstream folks recognized the need to find new ways to reach younger readers and described the concerted efforts they’re making in this regard. (The News Tribune is no different, by the way. It’s something we talk about often.)
But Josh Feit from the Stranger and Joan McCarter from DailyKos seemed perplexed. “We don’t even think about that,” they both said. They just do what they do and the audience comes.
Of course, this is one of the major advantages niche publication like the Stranger, with its excellent Slog blog, and DailyKos, a runaway blogging success story with half a million daily visitors, have over mainstream general interest outfits like newspapers and TV stations. But us MSMers would be wise to pay attention to how readers are responding to their model, which relies heavily on identity and personality and opinion. It blurs the line between journalism and activism, of course, and we’re not open to that. But the conversational style of writing leads to vibrant discussion online. And that’s a good recipe for loyal readership.
I’m a firm believer that news - fair, accurate and factual news - can be delivered in a conversational style and the mainstream news organizations that figure that out first will be best equipped to evolve in this new era.
Journalism 2.0 PDF proving popular; translations coming
Here’s another quick update on the progress of Journalism 2.0: the PDF version of the book has been downloaded some 7,000 times since it was made available a month ago and the dead-tree version is selling steadily at about 15-20 copies per day, according to Jan Schaffer at J-Lab.
Schaffer also tells me that plans to translate the text into several languages are moving forward. Rosental Alves, the Knight Chair in International Journalism at the University of Texas-Austin, is going to translate it to Spanish and Portuguese and put links online. And the International Center for Foreign Journalists will translate it into Persian and Arabic (and possibly Chinese and Russia after that).
It’s gratifying to see so many people find this work to be helpful. Makes all those mornings pounding away at the keyboard at 5 a.m. seem worthwhile.
Links to great resources
Here’s a handful of links to web sites that will help you with the evolution of journalism in the digital age. It’s not meant to be comprehensive, but might be the start such a list. Anyone know where such a list already exists?
Record, edit and produce audio for the web: transom.org.
Guide to digital cameras: digicamhelp.com.
Publish public databases on your web site: caspio.com.
Training 2.0 (part 2): Cool ideas, not all about training
Debbie Wolfe of the St. Petersburg Times won the award for best idea at the three-day Best Practices for Newsroom Training session I attended at the Poynter Institute. In three minutes (many participants presented in two minutes or less), she demonstrated a nifty piece of software called SnagIt, which allows you to capture the action on your computer screen and make little movies out of it.
It’s a great tool for training, especially if you’re trying to teach someone a new piece of software. Instead of screenshots in a handout that say “click on the box in the upper right-hand corner,” you can produce short “movies” that allows the viewer to watch exactly where the cursor goes on the screen to activate a desired action. All this, and it’s only $40.
Here’s a quick look at some of the other cool ideas from the session:
The Florida Times-Union has built Databank and it’s driving a ton of traffic on it web site. The newspaper is using a product called Caspio and it sounds like anyone who wants to get into this sort of thing ought to check it out.
Several offered documentation for skills and standards at newspapers for such things as video planning, writing captions, how to blog, going from columnist to video pundit, rewriting for the Web and podcast 101.
Evelyn Hsu recommended that newspapers conduct a brown-bag lunch with a venture capitalist to learn how the money guys view audience, content and publishing in this ever-changing landscape.
And my favorite: The Tulsa World hired a local company to fly a remote control helicopter, outfitted with a digital video camera, over the golf course where the PGA was making a tour stop. This allowed the newspaper to produce rich “flyover” views of each of the golf course with its comprehensive coverage of the tournament.
A radical idea to get your staff up to speed
Paul Grabowicz, instructor-guru of the University of California-Berkeley’s famed Multimedia Reporting training series, trotted out a radical idea for getting a newspaper staff trained on multimedia skills and story planning today at Poynter.
He suggested giving all reporters and editors two weeks off their beats. At the same time.
In the first week, they would spend five days in the communities they cover – not in the office – talking to people they have never met before. In the second week, they would go through a multimedia crash course similar to the one that he leads in Berkeley a few times a year.
During those two weeks, he recommends filling the paper with wire and press releases. Sacrilege, for sure. But in the big picture of one year, would your readers permanently revolt if you were up front about why you were doing this? It’s no secret that newspapers need to change, even to Joe Reader who doesn’t read Romenesko every day.
Obviously, it’s probably too radical an idea to ever happen. But it gets you thinking differently about how to replace the transmission on this car while it continues traveling down the highway. Can we slow down for a bit? Visit a rest area, maybe?
How about giving a two-week sabbatical to one team at a time?
Feeding the (print) beast is what’s keeping most newspapers from reinventing themselves for the digital age. We have to be more aggressive in our thinking about how we can make this happen, like the folks in Fort Meyers and Atlanta have done. I’ll discuss that with my next post.
Training 2.0: Top tips from newsroom trainers
I’m in Florida for a few days at the Poynter Institute as part of a session on newsroom training. Some 50 journalists who lead training and staff development at their news organizations, plus several J-school academic types, are here to participate.
We kicked off last evening with a session called Idea Exchange. About half the participant group took turns explaining a training tip in about three minutes (the other half of the group goes on Saturday). I was very impressed with the quality and diversity of training tips presented. Here are a few of the highlights:
- At the Miami Herald: Online University, a weekly training class to showcase latest technology and trends. Topics have included an introduction to MiamiHerald.com, how the site works, Audio 101 and 201, Video editing 101 and 201, and Advanced Blogging.
- Teresa Starr of the Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y. explained the five steps she uses to help journalists at her paper with the changing culture: Listen, acknowledge, teach, support and cheer.
- Robert Miller of the News & Observer in Raleigh highly recommended the book Art of Possibility for helping changing newsrooms recognize opportunities.
- Dana Eagles of the Orlando Sentinel highlighted a new feature his paper recently began including in the weekly newsroom newsletter called Web Speak. The idea is to define a technology buzzword each week while building a comprehensive glossary of terms. Their first two entries were mashup and sock puppetry.
- Marissa Nelson of the Toronto Star described a week-long training course offered to all reporters, photographers and editors at her newspaper called StarNext. Three staffers at a time get a week off from their regular job and for a one-week web immersion program to get training and hands-on experience developing story ideas into multimedia stories and packages for the paper’s web site.
After the second round of ideas are presented on Saturday, we’ll be asked to vote for the best idea. Following the first round, I must admit to being partial to a couple of ideas that are similar to things we’ve been doing at The News Tribune for a while: Miami’s Online University and Toronto’s StarNext. Our Technology and Training sessions are monthly (instead of weekly) but have tackled similar topics (and inspired the Journalism 2.0 project). And our Web Internship is a less formal version of StarNext as one volunteer staffer at a time gets the opportunity work with web producers for a week, ultimately churning out a multimedia project.