Digital Media Toolbox
It’s the middle of summer break, and although most college students are scattered across the country, news unfortunately doesn’t stop for the ebb and flow of the academic calendar. In today’s environment, news is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year narrative. TV stations and daily newspapers have grasped that fact, and many are evolving their newsrooms strategies to “digital first” initiatives.
In the mad rush by journalists to become multilingual in the language of multimedia, a few finer points can get cropped out of the picture. Key among them: nuance. Lacking this, attempts at quality journalism will seem a little less so, to journalists as well as their audiences.
It seems ridiculously passé to tell journalists in 2012 that they should be blogging. That wasn’t the case just a few years ago, when I was told by one metro daily’s management that reporters absolutely would not be allowed to blog for the paper’s website.
In today’s journalism industry, it is imperative that journalists are active in their digital community. For decades, some journalists have been criticized for being distant, out of touch and elitist — and in many ways, we were. The high cost of content creation and distribution made it possible for members of the press to keep their distance from the community and interact with the public on their terms.
Ever write a story about a bunch of folks doing something, and it seems like you — and the reader — need a scorecard to keep everyone straight? Sometimes scorecards or diagrams aren’t such a bad idea. Say you’re a cops or courts reporter and you’re trying to explain to people the inner workings of a drug cartel.
Three years ago I quit my job at a mid-sized metro daily newspaper to be part of a startup online news operation. And ever since then I’ve had people coming up to me, emailing me, calling me, asking me about the startup news site they dream of launching.
There once was a time when reporters dealt with words and someone else dealt with the numbers and pictures. But not anymore. There are plenty of free, easy tools now to get any journalist, regardless of their word-centricity, started on data visualization all by themselves.
The Web offers journalists countless free opportunities to enhance their reporting. The biggest hurdle facing them is knowing where to find the most relevant and timely information. Google should be part of every journalist’s e-toolkit. In addition to quickly locating pertinent search results and maps, the technology giant also highlights trends, allows for easy sifting through government databases, and even allows folks to follow the spread of the flu.
Let’s face it: Foursquare can be a little creepy. The mobile social networking site lets you “check in” to places you visit using your smart phone. By linking to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, your visits become public knowledge among your friends and followers.
Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Foursquare or the hundreds of other social media sites online, new technologies are changing the way we work as journalists. For a lot of us this means more work and more tasks being crammed into a short amount of time.
Editor’s Note: This column was adopted from the SPJ Digital Media Committee’s strategic report, “Will SPJ Remain Relevant in the Digital Age?” Download the report. America’s oldest and largest journalism organization should become the news industry’s premier source of information on the latest technology, newsgathering approaches and business models.
I probably would have spit coffee on my microphone if you told me in 2008 that I’d soon go from a TV news reporter to a new media journalist running a 3,000-member social networking site. It all began in summer 2009, after a Dallas, Texas, Fox affiliate and I parted ways amid the industry turmoil.
The pocket video camera is one of the best new tools for journalists who are dipping their toes into the waters of digital reporting. Pocket video cameras are relatively inexpensive (Flip camera $199; Kodak Zi8 $129.95; iPhone $199 with service plan; BlackBerry $129.99 with service plan), easy to operate and extremely easy to carry around on and off assignment.
Lisa Parker can still feel her old dread when she remembers listening to career coaches chattering about résumés inside the “transition assistance room” of an Army base in 2006. The class was supposed to help the former first sergeant move into civilian life after a 21-year, full-time career in aviation for the Florida Army National Guard.
For some of us it takes quite a leap to sign up for accounts on social media sites like Twitter; to others it’s just a part of the job. No matter which side you’re on, the true test comes after creating an account.
Most major digital SLR cameras offer high-definition video capture. Popular among them are the Canon 5D Mark II/7D and the Nikon D300s/D3s. Despite the technological leap this change represents for camera manufacturers, I have found many news photographers are still poised, knees quaking, on the side of the pool, afraid to jump right into news videography.
You’ve pulled a 14-hour shift on the desk. You’re dog-tired. But as you walk out of the newspaper office, you know that thousands of people will pick up the paper from their lawns tomorrow morning and see your story. Fast-forward to our brave new online world.