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01 Feb

The journalists’ (and my) struggle is real

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NOTE: Let’s get this cleared and out of the way. I am not a typical journalist. I don’t have a regular byline nor do I have a media company having to deal with angry voices that value perception more than reality. So, these thoughts are “easier” for me to express than others in our industry. I’ll also add, these are just my thoughts… often thinking, speaking or tweeting out loud as I try to grapple how I fit in the world around me.

BACKSTORY
This wasn’t a new internal debate I’ve been having. In fact, since the middle of the primaries, I’ve been asking myself – and any journalist who would let me bend their ear – the question about how I, or we, as a journalist am feeling about the the tone and coverage as the country began to select the next president.

I, as someone who aims to be an informed citizen, couldn’t tell what was real. I didn’t know what was fact or what was “fake news.”

And, to get this on the record, this concern wasn’t limited to one candidate. In the end, both the Democratic and Republican candidates had some significant flaws that should force any voting citizen a moment to pause.

But, let’s also be honest, one candidate said and behaved contrary to some fundamental beliefs I hold dear. I am unapologetically against racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and anything that leads to discrimination of others.

I, like I believe many people have, have always thought about “what would I have done” if… if there were a robbery, would I be a hero? If I saw police brutality what would I do? And, the ultimate hypothetical scenario, if I were around the time of Hitler, would I do something to speak up and defend the Jews.

I am also a Catholic (although I do not agree with many of the church’s political stance) and this past Sunday’s set of readings really affected me as President Trump’s executive order banning the travel of Muslim immigrants was happening.

All this got me to tweet. Not saying it was a good or bad decision, but here they are with some context.

I keep my faith to myself. I hate preachy people. But I thought there was hypocrisy and discrimination with the Muslim Ban and these readings really called it out.

I then tweeted out quotes from the readings, which I will spare you. But here is Tweet 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the series.

This was the tweet that would spark a Poynter piece about this struggle.

This is the moment where I went off my planned topic and decided to be more open and share my struggle with our current reality.

There were lots of “likes,” retweets and replies, including this one from Joshua Johnson.

This led to an exchange with Katie Hawkins-Gaar of Poynter, who asked if she could use my tweets for a piece she’d write based on this struggle many of us seem to be facing.

That led to this:

I will admit, I was and still am nervous for sharing. I took a risk in exposing myself. So far I haven’t gotten in trouble.

But others aren’t so lucky.

Lewis Wallace wrote about his struggle in this new reality too. But he was then fired from his job at Marketplace.

Clearly I disagree with this move.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know this is something we need to discuss and examine. This is happening. This is a reality. This isn’t something we can simply ignore or kick out of our newsrooms. This is the time for journalism to embrace the diversity of perspectives from every side and find a way to factor them into our coverage, ethically and transparently.

This is part of the new journalism, and it’s going to get uncomfortable and messy.

I am ready. Are you?

Categories: Culture, Personal, Rant, Twitter Tags:
19 Feb

Sixteen apps for 2016

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This piece was written for SPJ’s magazine, Quill. You can read it here: http://www.spj.org/quill_issue.asp?ref=2245

One of the first workshops I gave as a new professor was to introduce journalists to a few tools and applications I found on the web that they could use when producing a multimedia story.

Six and a half years later, that small workshop has morphed into a side project that has a collection of more than 100 types of tech and tools to help journalists be more digital.

The collection can be overwhelming.

But, as journalists adapting and working in his quick-moving digital era, we need to add some of these seemingly countless tools to our journalism toolbox.

As we launch head first into 2016 and beyond, here are some tech, tools and apps every journalist should be aware of. This is just a small selection from the growing list of apps. Make sure you share your recommendations, too. (Ping me on Twitter: @webjournalist.)

NOTE: As we know, technology moves fast. By the time this piece gets published, there may be a new thingy that we need to add, or an old thingy that needs to be removed. The real goal here is to be aware of the diverse tools and be open to how we can each integrate many of them into our daily journalism.

Let’s start with the basic set of mobile apps all journalists should have on their smartphones. I am talking about the pillars of journalism: writing, photography, audio and video.

Read the list here: http://www.spj.org/quill_issue.asp?ref=2245

12 Feb

#wjchat: Five years of thank you

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instagram-wjchat

It’s crazy to think that every Wednesday for the past five years, the Web/Digital community has come together for 90 minutes on Twitter to talk about their craft, sharing their knowledge and experiences.

The most important thing I cherish about #wjchat is the community.

I am grateful to be a part of it.

The next important thing I cherish is the incredible team of volunteers who, over the years, make this weekly miracle happen, often from behind the scenes.

Your past and current team #wjchat crew members are:

(I hope to god I haven’t left anyone off the list… if so, please contact me!)

And, of course, there are countless people who have supported our weekly efforts along the way.

Thank you to each and every one of you. Here’s to five more years and temporary tattoos that are a bitch to take off!

Note: You can read about the making of #wjchat here: http://blog.webjournalist.org/2010/02/27/the-birth-of-wjchat/

06 Feb

The inspirational quote mystery

There are a million Robert Hernandezes in this world.

I should know, I’ve been accidentally confused with nearly half of them.

Some are tattoo artists and some are journalists (not to be confused with these Hernandi)… some have financial “issues,” some have children they’ve “forgotten,” some have arrest warrants based on interesting life choices that can pop up in background checks.

I’ve been put in awkward situations multiple times because my namesakes make bad decisions. (Ask me about Marisa sometime.)

I thought I would stand out when I became a professor at a prestigious university.

That lasted a few months until I got email for Professor Robert Hernandez from another school on campus. (The school actually added me to their faculty listserv!)

Like everyone, I google myself and I even have a Twitter search for “Robert Hernandez.”

Dude, some of them are creeps.

But the most dominate one on Twitter is known for this quote:

“It’s not about having the skill to do something. It’s about having the will, desire & commitment to be your best. -Robert Hernandez”

It’s an inspirational quote that gets tweeted every hour, every day and I have no clue which one of the namesake said it.

So, I googled.

And haven’t found anything.

I did find this site that collects quotes from people and makes them Pinterest-style images.

While the site had a couple from Robert Hernandez, I feel like this one is the most appropriate:

robert-hernandez-quote-i-havent-the-slightest-idea-who-he-is (1)

Whoever he is, I do agree with Robert Hernandez’ inspirational quote… so, I’d like to be credited with this one:

“‘It’s not about having the skill to do something. It’s about having the will, desire & commitment to be your best. -Robert Hernandez’ -Robert Hernandez”

 

//// UPDATE: This happened

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 7.56.06 AM

https://twitter.com/santabantaquote/status/576362959934345216

Categories: Personal, Social Media, Twitter Tags:
29 Aug

Change the ratio! But I’m auditing myself first

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NOTE: A version of this post ran on PBS MediaShift on Oct. 10, 2014. Lessons Learned from a #GenderAudit on Twitter

If I follow you on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve have added you to a Twitter list: Male or Female.

There’s also a private list for People of Color*.

Before you freak out, let me explain what I am trying to do.

A few weeks back I heard a great segment on On The Media with Buzzfeed writer Katie Notopoulos, who created a holiday called Unfollow a Man Day. The piece originally aired on the tl;dr podcast.

Check it out:

This ‘holiday’ came from Notopoulos’ decision from realizing she was following a ton of dudes on Twitter, rather than other females.

She explains it here: Why I Created The #UnfollowAMan Movement

Anyway, that got me thinking… for about a year, I have consciously been trying to diversify who I follow on Twitter.

I never want to be caught in an echo chamber, and I have learned that I get a beneficial edge when I hear outside voices, instead of hearing the same people from within the journalism industry.

But while my diverse follow was a conscious act, I still don’t know if I have struck the right balance.

So, why not find out?

And that’s where these lists come it.

By going through the 960+ people I follow and doing an inventory, I can achieve a couple of things:

1- What is my actual ratio? If I am preaching diversity and parity, am I practicing it too? I don’t know, and that’s what I am looking to find out. This self-experiment really is an audit.

2- In the interview with Notopoulos, she said she realized that some stories that were seen as newsworthy coming from “Twitter buzz,” were only a buzz for men. Meaning, because she followed dudes, dudes’ topics dominated. For me, inversely, I want to see what topics are not buzzing in my stream… or who is it buzzing with.

There is such a thing as Black Twitter. Latino Twitter, non-English Twitter… but most users don’t know (or care) because they follow people and communities they know… or reflect their experiences.

Side note: I wrote this post at 11:30PM-ish, because some people were weirded out by being added to a list. And one person, I feel, began to project some assumptions on what I am trying to do… hence this quick post.

But, let me be clear… just like Twitter, this is for me. I use Twitter for a tool that benefits my knowledge. And now I am using Twitter lists to benefit me as well. I am dying to know the results of this self-imposed audit and see if I can spot any patterns. I am coming in with NO ASSUMPTIONS, open to whatever results may come.

And, for the record, I don’t care if this is scientific or not. This is me grouping subjective follows along gender lines and see if anything emerges. I’m a hackademic, not an academic.

Now, after reading this post, I want to invite/challenge you to do the same thing. Find out if your stream is skewed by following one community more than another… hell, find out if you have a bias. Let me know if you try this thing… and, of course, feel free to share your thoughts on what I am doing. I’m trying to be open and transparent… and I am coming with good intentions.

UPDATE: At 12:21AM, I renamed my lists to be Gender Audit Proj: Female and Gender Audit Proj: Male, to be clearer on what I am doing.

NOTE: I started this “self-experiment” late this evening on a whim… and my brain is turning into mush as I add *everyone* to a list… so I assume I have made some errors. If you spot one, please let me know… thank you!

* The People of Color list is currently set to private, because there is a chance I add or leave out someone accidently and I don’t mean to offend.

// UPDATE & ADDITION (5/14/15)
A student recently told me about TWEE-Q, which analyzes which gender you retweet more. If you think about, having a balanced gender feed is a great step, but how you engage with the feed is an important metric.

What’s the point of following a balance if you only engage with one side?

So, I ran my Twitter name through the web app and got this result:
Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.49.04 AM

“@webjournalist retweeted 48% men and 52% women.” I am proud of this result!

// OTHER AUDITS
Feel free to tweet me your audit results as well!

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

24 Mar

Twitter bot vs misinformation = @accuracybot

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I made this icon by hand in less than two minutes, so I know it does not look cool. But you get the point.

I made this icon by hand in less than two minutes, so I know it does not look cool. But you get the point.

We’ve all seen them.

We all hate them.

But what if we created a “spam” Twitter bot for good?

Here’s my latest idea: What if we create a Twitter bot account that actively tweets at people who are spreading misinformation via Twitter?

We know that vaccines don’t cause autism, why not tweet a response (with a link) to someone making that claim?

We know that Obama was born in the US. Let’s tweet a response to someone tweeting about his birth certificate.

Let’s then move the bot – or bots – into breaking news situations where misinformation, including images, spread quickly on Twitter.

The way I see it, this isn’t too “hard” to do… but it requires a few things:

Step 1: Create an account
Step 2: Identify misinformation
Step 3: Define pattern of misinformation tweets
Step 4: Craft 140 character response to misinformation tweets
Step 5: Repeat steps 2-4 for the next set of misinformation.

Oh yeah, that whole coding a Twitter bot is perhaps the most important step.

If this works, I can for see news organizations creating accuracy bots of their own battling misinformation.

What do you think?

More importantly, are interested in helping create this?

I already did Step 1: @accuracybot

02 Mar

Storify of my AMA/Keynote experiment done mid-flight

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Categories: Journalism, Twitter Tags:
01 Nov

How to find possible sources via Foursquare during breaking news

I’ve been preaching this for several years now, but here is a screen-by-screen walkthrough on how you can find possible sources through Foursquare.

First, an obvious but necessary PSA: Just because it is on social media, it does not make it a fact. These are tips, not facts. In fact, I checked in from my USC office 20 miles away from the Los Angeles International Airport.

Step 1:
Search for the location. (NOTE: Your location doesn’t matter. You can check in from anywhere.)
Step 01 - 4sq sources

Step 2:
Check in… after finding the location you are looking for. (NOTE: For transparency, I recommend you add that you are checking in to look for sources. (Here’s my note/tweet):
Step 02 - 4sq sources

Step 3:
After checking in, go back to your home screen and select your recent check in.
Step 03 - 4sq sources

Step 4:
From your check in, click on the location you just check in on
Step-04---4sq-sources

Step 5:
Click on the thumbnails of people who are there with you
Step 05 - 4sq sources

Step 6:
Select someone who has checked in that location, noting their relevant times.
Step 06 - 4sq sources

Step 7:
On their profile, you learn more about where they are from, their bio and, more importantly, how to get a hold of them through social networks (in red box).
Step-07---4sq-sources

Step 8:
Reach out and start your reporting.
Step 08 - 4sq sources

Person’s Twitter account:
Twitter-account

An Instagram the person tweeted while on the plane, watching the breaking news coverage.
Instagram-image

NOTE: While their profiles are set to public, as a courtesy, I tried to blur out and anonymize people’s identities.

10 Jun

Intro to Ninja Gaiden via Vine


As some of you know, I’ve been playing with a Vine hack by Chris Medina. I wrote a blog post walking you through how to do it but, after a Vina app update, I thought the hack/trick was killed.

Turns out it still works. I updated my ‘how-to’ blog post with how I did this series of Vines based on videosI edited in iMovie (of all places) and uploaded into the app.

An homage to one of the bestest game intros ever.



These were taken from this YouTube video… hence the visual quality isn’t the greatest: http://youtu.be/_rkaiKYEkDQ

30 Mar

How to upload a custom video to Vine, like the 6-second ‘The Wolverine’ trailer

Vine app logoUPDATE 06.10.2013: I can confirm the trick still works: http://blog.webjournalist.org/2013/06/10/intro-to-ninja-gaiden-via-vine/.

I tweeted this a few days back and thought I should add it here too.

On Monday a 6-second preview of The Wolverine was posted on Vine:

Clearly, this wasn’t made through the Vine app… which got me thinking, how could I post my own edited content onto Vine too?

Less than six seconds later I found the answer on YouTube:

I created this URL linking to the video: http://bit.ly/vineupload

After stumbling a little — the video isn’t perfect — I was able to create my own 6-second trailer:

Before we get into the steps, let me tell you where I got my video:

Then I proceeded to follow the steps outlined in the video, but I am adding more details from my experiences.

Here are the steps, thanks to the video and my own experience doing it:

Step 1: Download and install iExplorer. While you can buy the software, the demo works as well. What this software does is allow you to see the files on your iOS devices, which includes the files created and saved by your apps. It’s pretty cool, especially because you don’t have to jailbreak your phone.

Step 2: Connect your iOS device to your computer via your USB connector. For some reason, the first time it took a few minutes for iExplorer to recognize my iPhone (4S) was connected to my computer. (It was a few days ago, so I don’t remember exactly what I did outside of changing the USB port and restarting the program a few times. I think I might have even restarted my machine too. I noticed that I had to have the phone unlocked as well. Hopefully it just detects for you.) UPDATE: It immediately detects my phone every time I launch now.

Step 3: Like the video shows, you want to navigate to your list of apps, going to Vine and then Vine’s ‘tmp’ directory. This is where all your Vine videos appear after recording, as an MP4. It also generates a thumbnail based on the video too.

Step 4: Drag-and-drop your already edited 6-second video into this tmp directory. Call the file some you’ll remember… obviously.

Step 5: Launch Vine and start recording the Vine video. DO NOT reach the time limit of the Vine. For me, I stop recording one the green check mark appears. What you record doesn’t matter because it will be overwritten by your edited file.

Step 6: Immediately refresh the tmp directory. I go up one level, refresh ‘tmp’ and go back into in and I immediately see the new temp Vine… (something called temp_record_1370842632.980168.mp4). Like the video shows, copy the new file’s name, then rename it to something different (like by adding an “x” at the end of it). Then, go to your manually edited file and rename it the new file name. Vine continues to process the temporary video and *poof* it makes the swap on the app, including generating a thumbnail. UPDATE: I don’t know if this matters, but when I published it, I only published it to Vine… not my social media platforms.

Step 7: Go back to the Vine app and click on the green checkbox. Your manually edited video should appear. Add your meta information and publish. (To test if it worked, click on the three-dots-icon in the lower right hand corner, select ‘share this post,’ then tweet it out or select ’embed’ to email yourself the URL.)

So what’s cool about this?

Imagine content creators using this method to promo their content. An edited video Tweet that is a teaser to your produced Web video. Try it out!

Here’s an easy link to this post: http://bit.ly/uploadtovine

P.S. I uploaded the entire RickRoll video to Vine and it got published… but the app killed it. The video was 13.4MBs and 3:33 minutes, so quite large and much longer than 6 seconds. I uploaded a 30-second version, which was 2.7 MBs and that also didn’t work. I tried again with a 10-second clip, which was 914kb, and it worked:

π