Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Crowdsourcing’
23 Dec

Introducing Forbes to Media Diversity

You can see more diverse journalists of color — of all ages — in this spreadsheet: http://diversify.journalismwith.me/. You can read about how this came about here: Crowdsourcing ‘web journalism rockstars of color’

24 Sep

Getting on WBUR’s On Point

Comments off

[Posting this late]

During ONA11, I was a guest on WBUR’s On Point show along with Derrick Ashong and Mandy Jenkins.

This was my first time on live air on a national show… um, and I had a cough.

The topic was Crowdsourcing And The Future Of News. Awkwardly, here it is:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

06 Jun

Crowdsourced tips to landing your first, paid journalism job

Comments off

Okay, chances are this didn’t really happen.

I’m not sure how I heard this, but the story –false or not – stuck in my head when I was beginning my journalism career.

The story allegedly goes that a young Herb Caen, who later became the legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist, walked into a newsroom and asked for a job.

The clerk asked Caen if he knew how to type.

Caen said no… but was hired anyway.

Whether this actually happened or not, getting a journalism job these days is a bit more challenging. When I started, aspiring journalists needed to have one, big internship to get closer to landing your first job. Now, you need three or more… or, you start your own publication.

As a flood of new journalists graduate from J-School, I asked people to share their experiences in landing their first, paying journalism job and what advice they have to offer newbies getting into this great calling.

The crowdsourcing led to dozens and dozens of responses, the majority anonymous due to an early decision I made on the Google form. You can see the unedited results here and read a collection of first jobs and earlier tips here. I did my best to try to break down the diverse responses into digestible takeaways.

What are the top three skills you think journalists need to get a job now?

[Click to enlarge]
Top three skills you think journalists need to get a job

Traditional skills dominated the list. A strong foundation on the basics like writing, reporting, ethics, news judgement… and a few mentioned AP Style.

“Don’t think your social media expertise or wildly-popular Hipstamatic photos will get you anywhere; AP style, strong English as both a writer and editor, research and fact-checking skills, and news judgment will make you stand out (you’d be surprised how many people doze through reporting 101 and 202 in favor of their multimedia courses, or what-have-you),” said one participant.

But of course, a close second is having basic technical knowledge. Know the tech, but more importantly know how to use it to tell a good story.

Attitude and work ethic is a quality that stands out.

“Everyone is doing more with less these days, you’ll be expected to work hard and fast and to do so with little hand-holding. You need to show a positive, enterprising, tenacious and competitive attitude.”

Another participant said: “Proving you’re willing to take on what nobody else wants to, and doing it well. (You don’t have to like it, but don’t complain.)”

These suggestions also stood out:

“Don’t just be a reporter or just a copy editor. Take some photos. Blog. Tweet. Blah, blah, blah. But, also, read the news. (It’s shocking how many young journalists I know can talk endlessly about the latest tools but aren’t caught up on what’s happening in the world.)”

“Bullshitting abilities (resume, website, etc — fake it ’til you make it)”

“You have no idea how much patience you’ll need for this job, it really is a skill that not a lot of people have.”

“Managing management”

What is the key to getting a journalism job?

[Click to enlarge]
Key to getting a journalism job

Without a doubt, responders overwhelmingly said it’s all about who you know when you are trying to land your first – and future – jobs.

“Know the right people – networking is huge. Go to job fairs and journalism conferences, make appointments to see editors or reporters anytime you go on vacation, ask friends to introduce you, and keep in touch when you meet someone,” said a participant. “I once met an LA Times editor sitting next to me at the theater, I got an internship after keeping in touch even after I was rejected once, I got another internship by sitting in the lobby from 9 am to 2 pm asking to see the editor.”

Here are some networking tips from one participant:

You have to pursue opportunities to talk to people who do the work you want to do.
-Reach out to them on Twitter, look at who follows them and whom they follow and educate yourself about the subjects they discuss with colleagues in their tweets.
-Attend their public lectures and presentations, comment on their blogs and attend conferences they attend.
-Participate in chats they participate in
-Read blogs that address topics in your desired niche.

I can’t echo this enough. From visiting newsrooms to cyberstalking people, do what you can – within reason – to meet people in real life and stand out from the pile of resumes. Use your network.

That said, this journalist had a different take on networking.

“Knowing people. ‘Networking’ is for shills. But seek out people whom you admire and they will think you are so smart for recognizing their brilliance that they’ll want to hire you or help you out. People in our industry are vain.”

Another theme was to apply widely and have a thick skin.

“To get a job, apply to lots of news outlets, not just your dream workplace. Start small and work your way up from there,” said a participant.

And, perhaps most importantly, once you get your foot in the door, you have to have the skills you keep that job.

Other great tips:

“Know the territory. Don’t go into a job interview without doing research on the town/state/station/newspaper. The more you know the better off you will be. Don’t be cocky, be genuine.”

“Recommendations from people who have been blown away by your portfolio — and can testify that you did it yourself.”

“A willingness to question and push traditional journalism practices while still being willing to work your way up and learn from veteran journalist.”

“Know also that being a journalist means you NEVER stop learning. You need to always know a little something about everything to be at the top of your game. Even the best journalists still take some kind of classes or seminars to build their skills constantly.”

“Editors and other journos can tell a sharp blade from a dull one, and keeping your edge keen is what will get you your start and keep you employed.”

Give a one-word tip to aspiring journos trying to land a gig.

[Click to enlarge]
One-word tip to aspiring journos

“Not giving up after 97 rejections,” advised one participant who was clearly persistent.

“The key is to get in the door. I don’t care if it’s a tiny weekly in Nowheresville. Just get that first job. The rest will follow,” said another.

We all made it – and are making it – in good times and bad. Journalism is a calling. And if you want to make it, you can never give up. Good luck and remember to pay it forward.

21 Apr

Q&A with the mystery man behind #Quakebook

Comments off

NOTE: Originally published on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201104/1964/

It’s been more than a month since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan, triggering a massive tsunami, the combination of which have killed thousands. And while the country is slowing putting itself together, under the looming dangers of a potential nuclear disaster, there are many organizations — and individuals — coming together to help in any way they can.

For this week’s post, I chatted with Our Man in Abiko, an international man of mystery behind #Quakebook, a crowdsourced project to help those affected by the devastation.

NOTE: The Q&A was done through e-mail over a course of a couple of weeks.

First, for those who don’t know about it, can you describe what the #Quakebook is, how it came about and your role?

Quakebook is a twitter-sourced anthology of first-person accounts of the earthquake and immediate aftermath. It was conceived, written and ready to publish as a fully designed PDF book within a week. It has 89 contributions from “real” people as well as 4 from celebs solicited thru twitter – William Gibson, Yoko Ono, Barry Eisler and Jake Adelstein.

It is not a collection of tweets, but mostly one-page essays.

I thought of it in the shower Friday morning, March 18th thinking that wouldn’t it be great to do in words what mash-up videos can do on YouTube, especially @fatblueman’s Christmas in Japan video. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean. [The video: http://youtu.be/lmCrIZeob4w]

No-one has received a penny. We got Amazon to waive their fees so ALL revenue goes to the Red Cross. Pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Oh, my role? I’m cheerleader in chief, marshaller of the troops and getter arounder of problems. Don’t like titles!

NOTE: Our Man recently did a video recently sharing the story of Quakebook: http://youtu.be/cQ_-3-wwLKs

Once you had this idea, how did you go about starting this? Can you talk about the crowdsourcing process?

I had no plan as such. Every time I hit a wall, I asked the good folk of twitter to give me a leg up :)

The original tweets and stuff are all on quakebook.org and www.ourmaninabiko.com

Talk about the “real” people that contributed to the collection. Have you ever met them? What journalism skills did you apply in collecting their stories?

The real people started with whoever sent me email from around the world, supplemented by my neighbours, my wife and mother-in-law and also I got my wife to chase down eyewitness accounts from devastated areas through blogs.

The celebs we picked up along the way. The highly unscientific approach has somehow created a snapshot of many disparate elements of the disaster.

I kept in anything that was sent and was not a rant or shopping list. (There were only two like this).

What is your ideal goal you hope to achieve with this book?

I want it to raise oodles and noodles of cash for the Red Cross, but beyond that, I want it to serve as s valuable historical record to answer the question: what happened at 2:46 on March 11, much like John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” answers What happened on Aug. 6, 1945.

What has been the best part of this project?

The therapy of writing and sharing what we have written; seeing the whole project becoming stronger than its constituent parts.

What has surprised you about the process? What’s been the highlight?

How the weekend stops dead any progress with the traditional publishing industry, while the reverse is true of us amateurs. The highlight? Seeing a tweet from someone that they had downloaded the book, and cried. I then did the same and got teary eyed too.

What do you think about those reluctant to use crowdsourcing in storytelling, particularly in journalism. Any advice to them?

Trust people to deliver, and they will. If you get sidetracked by someone with their own agenda, or who doesn’t get the point of the project, don’t waste your time, find someone who does. Behave morally and you will quickly attract the right kind to whatever your project is, if it has merit.

Can you tell me what you did prior to this project? What were you doing in Japan? Talk about Our Man In Abiko.

I’m a British self-employed English language teacher, 40. I’m a former local newspaper journalist. My wife is Japanese and we’ve been here since 2007. Got two kids. My favourite colour is red.

Our Man in Abiko began as a satirical blog on Japanese politics, became a persona to keep me sane.

Since the earthquake, I realised Our Man was needed to perform Churchillian tasks of rallying the dispirited to overcome our woes.

What is the backstory with Our Man in Abiko? What’s your name and what brought you to Japan?

Not saying. It’s not my story that’s interesting, it’s Japan’s.

Clearly the book is the focus, but “Our Man In Abiko” is a man of mystery. People are naturally going to ask, “who is this guy?” What can you tell them?

He likes Earl Grey tea, playing with his kids and world domination, you know, the usual.

[After more prodding]

OK, well, the Our Man persona began just as a joke on my blog, I took on the mantle of a redundant British agent sent to monitor the wilds of Tokyo commuterville… But then with the earthquake, suddenly the time for fun was long gone, but I realised I had a fictional character who could do great things. I could not muster the troops and build a resistance movement to the earthquake, but maybe Our Man in Abiko could.

Well, Our Man, congratulations on the success with this project. How and where can people find it?

All details are on http://www.quakebook.org and you can buy the book now here: http://amzn.to/quakebook for Kindle (you can download a free Kindle player for PC, Mac and Smart phones there too.)

Thanks for chatting with me. And good luck on this and other endeavors.

Thanks a lot.

06 Apr

Crowdsource: What was your first, paid journalism job?

For many that graduated college years ago, the fear that embraced them as the graduation date approached is, if lucky, a distant memory. But, as you know, there is a new wave of journalists about to join our industry… so, I’ve collected stories from journalists when starting out. Through a Google form, Twitter, email and comments, here’s the collection.


Responses via email:
Juana Summers
First gig after college: Missouri statehouse intern for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

First full-time job: Politics reporter for a now-defunct Kansas City website

Now: I cover campaigns and elections for POLITICO

Best advice: You can’t make a first-impression twice, so get it right the first time. Whenever you’re in a professional setting, be it a conference, meetup or internship, treat it as a job interview. You never know who you’ll meet along the road that will play a huge role in your career trajectory going forward.

Also, never stop learning and don’t be afraid of change or to look for jobs in unexpected places. We all dreamed that we’d graduate and land a plum reporting gig at the New York Times (or, well, I did), but that’s just not reality. There’s great meaningful work to be done in lots of newsrooms – large and small – and in fantastic startups nationwide.


Responses via comments:
Khadijah M. Britton
My first paid gig was actually when I was 15, writing a column for a biotech company’s internal newsletter. It took me, oh, ten years to land another gig that sweet! My first GROWN-UP paying job was writing for Healthcare Investment Digests (now OneMedPlace.com), though I’m pretty sure I was mostly being paid to establish relationships with companies so we could get their data. I couldn’t say anything negative about the companies. Getting paid has really been a corporate-world reality for me; I’ve never been paid to write anything I feel proud of as a writer. That’s the hard, cold truth, kids! :p

David Veselenak
Now working at my first “real” job, a part-time reporter and online coordinator for Heritage Media, which is a chain of weekly papers near Ann Arbor, Mich. Took me a while to find one, but was lucky in finding it: the lead came from a response of a tweet I sent out. You never know where jobs may pop up, even in economically-challenged Michigan.

Mai Hoang
I guess to add to my initial Twitter comments, not everyone has to end up at a big-city metro to “make it” or “to grow.” I have learned a lot in my five years at the Yakima Herald-Republic and there’s still plenty of things to learn. Likewise you may have the skills to start out at a big-city metro. Or perhaps you thrive best by going from job to job. It depends on what works for you not on some formula or “right way.”

And in addition, newbies should go outside of the newsroom for professional development. I’ve learned so much from my involvement with organizations like AAJA and SPJ and through online venues such as #wjchat (an online journalism Twitter chat). With all that’s out there, I think one would be hard pressed to not grow wherever they’re at.

Chris Boese
At age 16, I started as a sports stringer for The Frontiersman in Wasilla, Alaska, covering high school sports in the Matanuska Valley, while also playing some of those sports (including basketball, against you-know-who, who tells the world she was an aspiring sports reporter. While some people in Wasilla were supposedly dreaming of it, some of us were already doing it).

Some years later, out of J-school, I came back to The Frontiersman, under new management. At the time I was very disappointed in the assignments I was getting, because I got stuck with the Beauty Pageant beat for every podunk town and hamlet in the Valley (including you-know-who as a flute-playing competitor).

I couldn’t take the coming darkness of winter and the isolation of Alaska, after so many years in the light, so I took off for parts South, where I happened to land photojournalism jobs at various publications and newspapers in Northwest Arkansas. I often found myself shooting events with state notables, including the genial governor and his very ambitious and activist wife…

In the end, I had to leave there too, because Reagan deregulated media ownership rules and venerable newspapers all around me were merging or shutting down, laying off my colleagues by the thousands.

Center-spread double-truck photo essays and feature stories, my stock in trade, disappeared overnight with the cookie-cutter layouts and short stories of the USAToday template-driven approach to newspapering. I saw my best work being reduced from the size of dinner plates in the Daily Fishwrap to the size of postage stamps.

Plus, nothing would ever happen in podunk Alaska or Arkansas. Why would anyone want to stay there? ;-)

Clay Duda
With no real emphasis on social media in my undergrad study I lucked into a part-time Social Media Strategist job with a journalism foundation. It took about 2 1/2 months to land something after my graduation in May 2010, but since then it’s evolved into a full-time position with more of an emphasis on multimedia production for some of the publications under our umbrella. If you would have asked me a year ago I could have never of guessed I’d be in such a position, but as the industry changes so must the industried.

Andy Boyle
First gig after college: Intern at the St. Petersburg Times

First full-time job: Reporter/News Technologist at the St. Petersburg Times

Now: I work on servers, blogs and help build interactive apps for a chain of papers at The New York Times Regional Media Group.

Best advice: They won’t hire you if you have the same skills as everyone else. I differentiated myself by attempting to learn more about building online projects. That doesn’t mean “Hey I can shoot video and record audio.” Everyone has those skills. Not everyone knows how to set up a server, do SQL queries or code for a production environment. If you can prove to your bosses that you have skills that set you apart from the influx of cheap labor, they may employ you. You could also do what I did: Get another job offer halfway through your internship, which pushed the St. Pete Times to hire me.

Everyone can be taught to be a reporter. Everyone can be taught to be a better writer. But not everyone can be taught how to build truly web-oriented projects. Only you can teach yourself that, with some help from the journalism community, of course. And don’t be shy about thinking your skills are worth value. Basic economics: If you have skills that not many have, and people are looking for those skills, your value goes up. So, make your value go up.

Emma Carew
Job info: in the tweets above.

My best advice: Say yes more than you say no: say yes when a reporter offers to take you out to lunch, say yes when the editor-who-isn’t-your-editor asks you to pick up an extra assignment, say yes to working the holiday shift during an internship, say yes to applying to jobs you never expected to get, say yes to a shift on the copy desk or a night cops shift, say yes to working with photographers or videographers.

Say no to working without being paid a liveable wage.


Responses via Google form:
I asked colleagues to talk about their first journalism jobs to help recent graduates as they begin their careers in the journalism. Here is a collection

Metro reporter, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch. I covered education, but also sometimes cops and courts. I also covered a public execution at this job.


I wrote 5-7 stories a week about a rural part of Kansas City. It paid about 25,000 a year. After a year, they gave us a “raise” to 28K. No one stayed there past 1.5 years, even though it was a 2-year fellowship. I got a great backbone, but I almost burned out. Plus, I ate way tooo much spaghetti.


Working for a five day a week newspaper, The Angleton Times, with a circulation of 5,000. I made $200 a week in 1987. I worked as a bartender at night to make enough to pay the rent, for groceries and car repair bills. I did everything from taking photos to laying out the paper. I gained so many skills and I made so many mistakes at that small paper. But I tell aspiring journalists to start small and make your big mistakes in small places. If you make big mistakes in big places, it’s a lot more painful.


Page designer – straight out of college. Worked there for two years. No copy editing or headline writing. That was done by a different department. That has all changed and designers now edit copy/write headlines, proof pages, etc. And sometimes a lot more than that, too. We used to also have specialties, like sports or features. It’s a one-size-fits-all now.


I produced podcasts for The New Yorker.


Entry level online producer at the Hartford Courant. (Assistant Online Producer)


I started working at the paper I’m at now as a news assistant. It was a lot of grunt work but I made it very clear to the editors I wanted to be a writer. Two days after I started I was given an assignment and now I’m an education reporter.


State copydesk, taking the adjectives out of school lunch menus (“fresh green salad” = “salad”).


My first professional, paid journalism job after graduating college was a 5-month contract position doing research for a well-known business trade magazine. I got the position because of a professor that I did an assistantship with in graduate school who happened to be a former executive editor at another publication for the company. She knew they were looking for someone and she recommended me. That job led directly to a full-time position within the same company at another business trade mag that was the no. 1 publication worldwide covering that business trade.


Capital News 9 in Albany. One man band station. (I think they now are called Your News Now).


I talked my way into a job as an assignment editor at the Telemundo station in Miami.


I was taken on as a contractor doing web production for DenverPost.com while a junior in college. After graduation, I was hired full time. It has actually been my only paid work as a journalist, though I have done several paid and unpaid internships and some freelance work.


Town hall and health reporter for the Beaufort Gazette in Beaufort, South Carolina (circ. 12,000).


Contributor to the now folded Georgia Guardian writing pieces on urban affairs and revitalization efforts.


My first “real” newspaper job was copy editing and designing pages at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi. After three months, I became a producer/developer/designer/fixer-of-things for the paper’s website.


Reporter copy editor at Lexington Herald-Leader. John Carroll era.


General assignment/night cops reporter for 12K-circulation local newspaper


Staff writer for Midwest Real Estate News, a trade magazine in Chicago. Also, I never had an internship, for what it’s worth. Went straight into the job market in 2004. Was unemployed for 7 months before landing my first gig, though.


Copy editing and design at a smallish newspaper.


Staff reporter covering education/courts/cops/features and monthly columnist (outdoor adventure themed) at the Jackson Hole News&Guide in Jackson, Wyoming.


I started out as a casual reporter on a weekly community newspaper. I mostly wrote arts & lifestyle pieces. I landed the paid gig after completing an internship at the publication.


Writing for the technology section of a major newspaper


newspaper reporter at a small daily


I was an editor with the weekly community sections published by The Dallas Morning News. It was kind of life being in a small town paper, having to do everything for my sections — write, edit, blog, tweet, photograph, proof, content development, etc.


Freelance stories for a regional biz newsweekly.


copy editor at a small daily paper


Just got it! I’m the mobile/search/social producer for azcentral.com. I work 6a-3p M-F, managing the Facebook and Twitter accounts and helping our journalists with personal branding and social media education.


It was while I was in school. Clerk job at local paper.


editorial assistant for data and research at The Chronicle of Philanthropy


Job at The St. Ignace News. General assignment reporter.


I was a reporter at the Employment & Training Reporter, a weekly newsletter published by BNA in Washington, D.C. ETR covered employment and training programs for disadvantaged, chronically unemployed and laid-off workers.


copy editing on the Universal Desk at the Dallas Morning News


Well, it’s happening right now. I work for Sun Newspapers (@sunnewspapers) – a chain of 11 weekly community newspapers around Cleveland. I scored this gig (in my hometown, no less) five months out of college (Ohio University).


The job I have now. Associate producer for MassLive.com.


Neighborhood reporter, St. Petersburg Times


Reporter/Photojournalist at a 150th market TV station in North Carolina.


Research librarian at The Palm Beach Post


Responses via Twitter:

25 Oct

Tips and tools to innovate with during election night coverage

Comments off

NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1900/

In our world, there is no better story that reflects the power and value of good journalism like an election.

Regardless of the medium, the stories from an election can include investigative pieces, people profiles, contextual stories, and, because politicians are so colorful, stories of the weird.

Put these under an umbrella of breaking news and see us do our thing.

The midterm elections are just around the corner and they have proven to live up to a newsy season. By now many of us have established a general plan for election night coverage.

But to help foster innovation and advancement in journalism, last’s week #wjchat, a weekly chat about Web journalism held through Twitter, had its first Elex Exchange where we shared ideas and tools to help with this year’s coverage.

Inspired by the chat, here’s a list taking advantage of the latest technology to help election.

TWITTER // reporting + distribution
It’s a basic tool that should be part of your daily journalism routine, but Twitter is still best tool for covering a real-time news event, especially when covering breaking news or election.

As written before, Twitter is the tool to help you find sources and trends in real-time. Either by zip code or by topics/keywords, make sure you are using and monitoring Twitter throughout the election. Use a Twitter-client like TweetDeck with predetermine searches that you occasionally check on.


The next basic minimum is to have a Twitter feed on your homepage specifically for the election coverage. No programming is required to create this widget, you just need to decide whether you want public tweets with a hashtag or you want to create a list of the accounts that will appear in the feed.

Either way, Twitter has got you covered with their ‘goodies.’ Make sure you take the time to customize the colors to have it match your site design.

If you haven’t yet, check to see if a hashtag or hashtags relating to your local races have been created by the community. If no one has, create them right away. If someone beat you to it, don’t worry and embrace them… but either way start using them NOW!

This simple act gives you a head start in becoming the lead authority on these races, in social media and beyond.

Take a page from the Pulitzer Prize winners for Breaking News, seattletimes.com, and get in the habit of creating and using hashtags when covering all types of news.

FOURSQUARE // geolocation + distribution
This election season, news outlets should create ‘check-in’ places for polling locations in their town. The geolocation community is small but growing and will be checking in as they go to vote. Like a hashtag, if you don’t create a location, they will.

Become the leader in coverage by not only creating the locations but add a tip (Ex. Tip links to LAT story about Venice Beach fight) that links back to your site’s live, active, up-to-date election coverage.

Remember, by having these locations, you can also find potential sources as they check in to the venues.

USTREAM // live streaming
Who says TV broadcast gets to have all the fun with their live coverage. Okay, it may not be your idea of fun, but live streaming is a tool more newsrooms need to embrace. No expensive satellites required, services like Ustream allow you to do a live shot from your newsroom with a laptop and camera or from your smart phone.

Stream the candidates’ celebratory or concession speech election night live straight onto your homepage. It’s easy and it should be another standard tool in your journalistic toolbox.

CROWDMAP // crowdsource reporting + mapping
This tool comes from Sarah Day Owen, #wjchat colleague and Augusta Chronicle‘s Social Media Editor, who heard about it from the new hyperlocal site TDB in Washington D.C. She is hoping to experiment with this tool that takes crowdsourced information from cell phones, news and the web and maps them.

This application, originally built to crowdsource crisis information, begs to be used by news outlets, especially for something like election coverage. It’s free and pretty simple to setup… so you still have time to pull this off. Even if you don’t get participation from the community, get your reporters to file dispatches.

STICKYBITS // social media + user-generated content
I recently wrote about this tool and want news organizations to experiment with it, so here’s a second pitch.

Like Twitter’s hashtag or FourSquares’s digital makers, create your own barcode and literally post it at as many polling places in your town, asking a question (Ex.: What do you hope comes out of this election?) and a note encouraging them to download the stickybits app and upload their responses. See if you get people in your community adding election related “bits” – video, text, photos, audio, etc. – to your barcode.

IMAPFLICKR // user-generated photos + geolocation
Okay, so getting the community to download an app to scan a barcode then post a message is a sizable hurdle (I know, but try it anyway!), so here is a simpler tool that takes a Flickr feed and maps it.

In other words, you can open up a Flickr account and have people submit photos from polling places and get them mapped. Like the Twitter feed, no programming is required and the biggest decision you have to make is whether or not you make this a public or staff driven feed.

PHOTOSYNTH // photo + crowdsourcing + magic
This tool, originally created by the University of Washington before it was purchased by Microsoft, is something I’ve been trying to push into newsrooms’ toolboxes for years. It finally made its mainstream debut with CNN’s “The Moment” in 2008, but hasn’t been used much in news since.

It may not work perfectly in this scenario, but I would remiss if I didn’t mention it. PhotoSynth takes a collection of photos – from different contributors – of one location and “stitches” them together to create a virtual experiment.

So, let’s say we’re at a candidate’s headquaters for the party… take a ton if photos of the scene, throw them into this program and post an experience like no other. It’s more powerful if you crowdsourced the images.

STORIFY // social media + curating (Invitation required)
The great thing about Twitter and other social media networks is the real-time stream of content that flows out of them, often like a fire hose of information. The bad thing about these tools is the content can get drowned out rather quickly. Storify, who’s creator we profiled recently, is a tool that let’s you build a story through social media elements, adding context and comments around elements from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and more.

You create an article on their site, but you embed the created piece on yours. It’s in beta and there are a few limitations with it, but if you want to tell the story of how the election night was covered through social media, this is the tool to use.

Do you have a tool you plan to use? Have you experimented with these? What examples of great election coverage have you seen? Make sure you add your thoughts and experiences in the comments, before and after the election.

Robert Hernandez is a Web Journalism professor at USC Annenberg and co-creator of #wjchat, a weekly chat for Web Journalists held on Twitter. You can contact him by e-mail (r.hernandez@usc.edu) or through Twitter (@webjournalist). Yes, he’s a tech/journo geek.

05 Oct

Two new Social Media emerging tools — possibly useful in Web journalism

Comments off

NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1891/

Think about it, two or three years ago most people had never heard of Facebook. Tweets were still mainly owned by birds, not limited to 140 characters. FourSquare was some vague game from elementary school.

In general, most people had written social media off as some sort of high school fad.

Well, you should know by now, Web-based Social Media is not a fad.

If you still doubt this, temporarily remove your head from the sand and go talk to one of the more than half a billion people that spend hours and hours sharing news, photos or running a virtual farm. (For the record, I am not a fan of FarmVille.)

In its constant evolution, though, technology routinely leapfrogs past itself as it innovates and disrupts the status quo.

In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

What’s next? It’s geolocation paired up with augmented reality, in my opinion.

Those creating these new tools typically don’t have journalism as a possible application in mind. But I, an admitted tech/journo/mad scientist geek, can’t help but apply the journalism prism to some of the latest tools and technology.

So, in that vein, here are two emerging tools I’ve came across that I think are worth keeping an eye on. They may not be perfect now, but I encourage you to experiment with these and see if there is a journalistic application here.

NOTE: I recently posted my Web Journalism’s rules of tech engagement, so feel free to refer to them and keep them in mind as you read. All of them apply, especially #1 and #5.

Whrrl
This new social media site may sound similar to its forefathers, but it has one clear difference (that I think they underplay). It’s not about you, it’s about community… and it’s about moments.

On Twitter or FourSquare, you are telling the world where you are… in Whrrl, you are “creating a story.” Your posted photos and notes from your check-in are auto-grouped with others and, potentially, are telling the story of a moment collectively.

Example: We’re celebrating your birthday at a bar. We capture the moment by sharing pictures, videos, comments, etc. Those not attending could virtually experience the moment and add to the conversation.

Neat… but where’s the journalism?

Change the previous example from “birthday” to, say, “election.” Reporters and citizens are posting their experiences — comments, photos, videos, etc. — at polling sites, leaving a virtual marker filled with content for others to add or re-live. This would also work for a sporting event, a protest/rally or any news event where people gather in one location.

Collectively, we can capture the moment in real-time with rich multimedia. This doesn’t replace the article or video piece, but can really enhance them.

stickybits
This tool launched earlier this year at SXSW and is referred to as digital graffiti. Now, how to explain this… um, think of a digital bulletin board or wall where anyone could post anything.

Like a Facebook wall? Sort of.

Instead of the wall living in your computer, it is at an actual, physical space… because the information is embedded onto a sticker with a barcode. Scan it with your smart phone and read or leave messages in multiple media.

While finding these stickers is a cute game, they’ve recently graduated to using standard barcodes, which are on millions of products.



You can get barcodes for free and even order them in sticker form if you want.

Where’s the journalism here? Well, my brain is still thinking of different applications, but what immediately stands out here is the distribution.

Imagine going to a polling place where people can scan a sticker to read or leave messages. The only way to get that unique experience from that polling place is to be at that location.

From news to reviews, we could possibly embed our stories on anything and anywhere. And, more importantly, we can get user engagement. We’re not talking about from behind a computer, we’re talking about out in real life.

Take some time and play, er experiment, with these new emerging types of technology. Get in the habit of exploring this stuff… and share your experiences.

21 Sep

Real-time Web + Journalism = Real-time reporting

Comments off

NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201009/1887/

The next phase of the Internet affecting journalism — for better or worse — is well underway.

We started out with Web sites, then blogs, then the interactivity of Web 2.0. Now, we are in the era of the real-time Web.

Which, for us in journalism, means real-time reporting.

This next phase has the power to improve and advance our journalism, but also puts our core journalistic values to the test.

Twitter’s original question, “What are you doing?” has evolved to “What’s happening?” Social Media has made telling people where you are, what you think, what you see, a common expression on the Web — again, for better or worse.

Yes, Social Media is routinely filled with TMI and, quite frankly, unless information. But it also has given the average person the ability to document and share newsworthy and historical events the moment they happen are happening.

Just look at the latest example from a few weeks ago: A gunman walked in the Discovery Channel headquarters holding people hostage.

The real-time Web went to work with first-hand witnesses.

DaAnGrYASiAN was one of the first tweets from scene

I was in my office, across the country when the news began to break. For those that know me and have attended my workshops, you’ve heard me go on about harnessing the power of social media.

Well, here was a perfect example. So, I tweeted two tips:

WebJournalist's tip to D.C. reporters

WebJournalist's second tip to D.C. reporters

Searching Twitter, I was able to find people sending updates from the Discovery Channel’s zip code (Here are some highlights that I found). Using FourSquare, I was able to find someone who had “checked in” to the building before the incident.

Mikefa123 checked into the location hours before the standoff

Possible witnesses, potential sources.

The power of the real-time Web was in full swing… and so was its potential danger: People with best intentions can give out incorrect information.

techsavvymama retweets a photo from the scene circulating the Web.

DaAnGrYASiAN wrongfully thought to be the gunman

Now, don’t become all traditionalists on me and dismiss this new phase by saying that risk of misinformation is way to high. Let’s be honest here, the concept of possible bad information has been around long before Twitter… and even before the Web.

Remember that saying, “if your mom says she loves you, check it out.” Well, if your mom tweets she loves you, check it out.

These are not facts. These are tips. These are potential sources. These are places you as a journalist bring your core values — news judgment, ethics, accuracy, transparency — to vet information to make sure you have accurate information.

But mistakes will happen — in both paper and pixels.

That’s why our core values are so important. They should constantly guide us through any story, under any deadline.

In the real-time Web speed is highly valued. But responsibility and credibility outweighs that. Be known for getting it right first, not for getting it first and wrong.

This is where being a “professional,” whatever that means, matters. But remember, the real-time Web also can help. Here’s that photo that @techsavvymama retweeted, along with an explanation from a former Discovery Channel employee why the person in the photo likely is not the gunman.

YFrog pic of someone with gun

Former Discovery employee explain why it probably isn't the gunman

NOTE: @techsavvymama messaged me immediately after I published this post to say that she believes the garden is, in fact, open to the public.

For the record, real-time reporting is more than just using social media.

A reporter can be sending out images or live video (UStream, Qik, Twitcasting, etc.) from their cell phones. A photographer or reporter could be automatically uploading images from their camera using technology like the Eye-Fi.

It’s journalism without a safety net… it’s hyperlocal AND global journalism… it’s working under the deadline of now, 15 minutes from now and 15 minutes ago.

The journalism game has changed — again. And this won’t be the last time. While technology evolves, what is constant and never-changing are our core journalistic values.

Hold them close as you harness the power of real-time reporting.

20 Sep

Real-time tweets from Discovery Channel hostage situation

Comments off

On Sept. 1, 2010, James J. Lee walked into One Discovery Place armed with pistols and explosives. Here is a sample of tweets sent from the zip code of The Discovery Channel’s headquarters in D.C. These sample messages are collected from Twitter Search and listed in chronological order with a PDT *timestamp.

These are typical citizens that dabble in Twitter. The majority had less than 100 followers. For examples, one user has 46 followers and had only had 47 tweets at the time. These folks are not social media gurus… they are regular, real folks.

Mikefa123 checked into the location hours before the standoff

DaAnGrYASiAN was one of the first tweets form scene

techsavvymama retweets a photo from the scene circulating the Web.

DaAnGrYASiAN wrongfully thought to be the gunman



* I noticed that the timestamp varied between the Chrome and FireFox browsers. These screen shots were taken with FireFox.

23 Aug

Why am I a journalist?

About a month ago I asked journalists, with all the abuse, furloughs and long hours… why are you a journalist?

I got great responses from journalists across the country, and even one from across the pond.

Thank you all so, so much!

Yes, we’re facing some hard times… but, without a doubt, this is one of the most exciting times to be a journalist. These responses were so inspirational to me… and I hope these answers help remind you why we do this… and hopefully these answers keep you going.

Remember, what we do matters!

NOTE: It’s not too late to submit your answer! I will try to collect these to help us all remember why we chose to take on this noble profession lifestyle.

DESIGN NOTE: I’m looking for a multimedia-ish gallery that will randomly display and cycle through the responses. Any suggestions?

Video

Audio

Tweets

E-mails

Comments

Text message (SMS)

Here’s my answer

π