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August 03 2012

11:39

Skype partners with Logitech on device that makes video calls via any HDTV

Silicon Republic :: The new Logitech TV Cam HD connects to any HDTV via a HDMI cable to let users make video calls through Skype in high definition, directly from their television set.

A report by Elaine Burke, www.siliconrepublic.com

July 26 2012

19:53

Skype makes chats and user data more available to police

Washington Post :: Skype, the online phone service long favored by political dissidents, criminals and others eager to communicate beyond the reach of governments, has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police, said industry and government officials familiar with the changes.

A report by Craig Timberg | Ellen Nakashima, www.washingtonpost.com

Tags: Skype

April 27 2012

13:52

.@CraigSilverman: How to verify information in real-time, from social media

Poynter :: Lots of people talk about how Andy Carvin does crowdsourced verification and turns his Twitter feed into a real time newswire. Lost in the discussion is the fact that Carvin also develops sources and contacts on the ground and stays in touch with them on Skype and through other means. What you see on Twitter is only one part of the process. Some things never go out of style. At the same time, there are new tools, techniques and approaches every journalist should have in their arsenal.

8 must reads - Continue to read Craig Silverman, www.poynter.org

Tags: Skype Twitter

April 23 2012

05:53

Free communication flow: Skype ban in the UAE could be lifted

The Next Web :: While Skype remains banned in the UAE (website but not service directyl, because VoIP is accessible via proxy), the restriction could easily be lifted following a licensing agreement with the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Speaking about the restriction, Mohamed Al Ghanim, the TRA’s Director General said, “It is purely a licensing matter.

Continue to read Nancy Messieh, thenextweb.com

April 21 2012

05:42

Video chat service Tango has social network ambitions

TechCrunch :: Video chat service Tango is moving in a new direction, and this week the company closed a round of $40 million in Series C funding which will take it there, it hopes. Many think of Tango’s service as an up-and-coming Skype competitor, as it, too, is about real-time communication, specifically video calling, between users. But the comparison to Skype may no longer be apt.

Continue to read Sarah Perez, techcrunch.com

Tags: Skype Video

November 14 2011

21:32

Going undercover in Syria: a report from inside by Ramita Navai

Probably one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world right now: Syria. - A first hand experience report by Ramita Navai, Syria.

PBS Frontline :: In September, reporter Ramita Navai spent two weeks in some of the most dangerous parts of Syria on a clandestine journey into the heart of the uprising - undercover. In this reflection, she tells the story of how she and her producer broke Syria’s virtual ban on independent journalists and embedded with some of Syria’s most wanted activists.

[Ramita Navai:] ... The activists took every precaution to stay safe. Most of them had horrific footage of the badly tortured bodies of friends and colleagues as a permanent reminder on their cell phones. ... (the activists) preferred method of communication was Skype and Facebook — always accessing these sites using proxy servers to avoid being monitored — and within hours they could mobilize thousands.

Continue to read Ramita Navai, www.pbs.org

July 07 2011

11:12

Facebook rolls out video calling with Skype, but Google+ Hangout offers more

Business Insider :: Facebook just announced video chat with Skype at a press conference in Palo Alto. Matt Rosoff's first take: it looks extremely easy to use -- you have to download a plug-in once, but the download pop-up is integrated into Facebook and isn't any harder than adding a game, for instance. And Facebook has a huge built-in user base of semi- and non-technical people who can get going on this right away.

That said, Google really stole Facebook's thunder with Hangouts last week. In contrast, it offers group chat with up to 10 people simultaneously, while the Facebook feature offers only one to one calls, just like regular Skype.

Continue to read Matt Rosoff, www.businessinsider.com

June 26 2011

20:37

Starting Tuesday - Skype for iPad details leaked on YouTube, cnet's first look

cnet :: You won't find Skype for iPad available in the App Store until Tuesday, but cnet got a hands-on look, with plenty of pictures and testing, with the forthcoming app. The new iPad-optimized Skype client will take advantage of the tablet's larger screen real estate, making for crisp and clear video chat over Wi-Fi, and often less crisp chat over 3G.

Skype for iPad details leaked on YouTube:

Details - continue to read Jason Parker | Jessica Dolcourt, reviews.cnet.com

June 18 2011

19:31

Done - Microsoft gets antitrust approval to buy Skype

Reuters :: Microsoft has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Skype, the Federal Trade Commission said in a website posting on Friday. Microsoft announced in May it was buying Skype for $8.5 billion, its biggest-ever acquisition, placing a rich bet on mobile and the Internet to try and best rivals such as Google Inc.

Continue to read www.reuters.com

May 13 2011

16:45

Mediatwits #7: Skype Gets Microsoft-ed; 'Street Fight' Returns Fire

laurarich.jpg

Welcome to the seventh episode of "The Mediatwits," the new revamped longer form weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser along with PaidContent founder Rafat Ali. This week's show looks at Microsoft's massive payout, $8.5 billion, for Skype, a popular communication service that still loses money.

Our guest this week is Laura Rich, the co-founder of the new Street Fight site covering the business of hyper-local and geo-location. She responds to our earlier criticism of the site on a past episode. Plus, Google announces its new Chromebook netbook computers that don't have any software beyond a web browser, and will be out next month.

Check it out!

mediatwits7.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

NEW! Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Rafat's allergies and Mark's allergic to cable

1:20: Mark decides to cut the cord to cable TV

3:30: Rafat cut the cord when he moved to New York

4:50: Rundown of stories on the podcast

Microsoft bets big on Skype

6:45: Don't ruin it, Microsoft

8:40: Could it upset the cell carriers?

10:50: Rafat pays to use Skype when traveling

Interview with Laura Rich of Street Fight

13:10: $150 billion in local advertising market

15:40: Street Fight will have events and do original research

17:45: AOL uses Patch as wire service to cover Bin Laden news

20:55: Rafat says PaidContent succeeded by being a must-read daily

22:50: No deja-vu for Internet bubble

Google unveils Chromebooks

google-io-chromebook-acer.jpg

23:40: Basics on the Chromebook

25:30: Rafat says netbooks have their place, but being replaced by tablets

28:30: Long-lasting battery-charge miracles

More Reading

Microsoft's gamble: A big phone bill at The Economist

Microsoft's Skype-high price

Will Microsoft Inject Trademark Mediocrity Into Promise Of Skype? at Forbes

Microsoft Will Screw Up Skype at Daily Beast

Skype Deal Is Unlikely to Pay Off for Microsoft at Reuters Breakingviews

Skype's long history of owners and also-rans: At an end? at Fortune

Street Fight

HuffPo Harnesses Patch Hyperlocals for Bin Laden News at Street Fight

Google Chromebook Could Struggle Against Windows, iPad at eWeek

Three Big Questions for the Samsung Chromebook at PC Mag

Hands On With Samsung's Chrome OS-Powered Series S at Huffington Post

Hands On With Google's Chromebook: Nice, but Unnecessary at The Atlantic

Google tries to remake the laptop at CNET

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about Microsoft buying Skype:




Microsoft + Skype = ?Market Research

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

April 25 2011

17:00

A web community with a TV show: Inside The Stream’s efforts to turn broadcasting into a social medium

Al Jazeera English debuted the online edition of its show The Stream before an energized crowd last week at an Online News Association meetup in Washington, DC. A hybrid of high-velocity online conversation and TV analysis, The Stream’s TV component will broadcast out of the Newseum, starting in May, four days a week. And it will be complemented by a continuous online operation that will mine the social media ecosystem for stories of global importance.

Billing itself as an “aggregator of online sources and discussion, seeking out unheard voices, new perspectives from people on the ground and untold angles related to the most compelling stories of the day,” The Stream looks to be a distillation of Al Jazeera’s signature global coverage with an eye towards the social media reporting whose significance proved itself yet again during this spring’s revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Since The Stream’s online launch, stories have included the use of the hashtag #estadofallido (“failed state”) by Mexican Twitter users to address escalating drug violence; an Internet blackout in Nepal; Twitter’s capacity to save a dying language; and a Syrian revolt in (yes) Orange County, California. The Stream’s web operation is powered by Storify, the relatively new tool that allows you to curate social elements from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and elsewhere around the web. Everything from posts from a blogger in Yemen to snapshots of anti-Arab American graffiti in the OC are woven together into a evocative multimedia narratives.

A web community with its own TV show

“The Stream is reporting on and taking part in a global conversation,” says Andrew Fitzgerald, a senior producer for The Stream. “Our stories are about conversations being had online. When we talk about one of these stories on the show, we want to add to those conversations.” Derrick Ashong, The Stream’s charismatic host (and the subject of a viral video during the 2008 presidential campaign), explained to the assembled crowd that the program was “curating the kind of conversation that lots of us are having all the time.” Or, as he told Fast Company last week: “The concept of The Stream is actually a web community that has its own daily television show on AJ.”

The Stream seems like a logical next step given Al Jazeera’s newfound online clout. The network experienced massive digital growth during the Arab Spring, with web traffic exploding by 2,500 percent at the beginning of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as global audiences turned to Al Jazeera English for insight into the turmoil. When the network streamed Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, traffic jumped from 50,000 visitors to 135,371, with 71 percent of the increase coming from social media.

Overnight, Al Jazeera English became an essential online read for global affairs. (Its coverage was so widely praised that Hillary Clinton dubbed it “real news” — this despite its former status as network non grata in America during the Iraq War, when it fell into disfavor with the Bush administration over critical coverage of the war effort.)

Now, a whole class of young and tech-savvy American journalists has been reintroduced to the network through Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. At The Huffington Post, Michael Calderone rightly speculates that buzz surrounding The Stream’s online game will serve as a vehicle for Al Jazeera English’s adoption into the American cable market — via, in particular, a generation of younger, hipper news consumers.

Voice to the voiceless

Regardless of The Stream’s place in Al Jazeera’s larger strategy, however, the network’s English-speaking operatives have other reasons to celebrate the launch of the innovative new program. With The Stream, Al Jazeera may succeed where the majority of American media organizations have fallen short: not only in fully integrating social media into a news operation, but also in embracing the medium as an inherent feature of the new news programming.

“Social media has the power to break down the centralized control of what constitutes news. If enough people are talking about something on the Internet it IS news. Communities thus have the power to define their OWN news,” notes consultant editor and executive producer Stephen Phelps, who has worked as a producer for the BBC for the past several decades, in an email. “Our job is to find those communities who are saying something which fits the Al Jazeera vision of giving voice to the voiceless and looking at the world from every angle and every side. And to do this on a broad basis through empowering our own community to crowd-source the news. The network’s opportunities to fulfill that goal are greatly enhanced by a program which taps social media.”

In practice, the actual manifestations of the idea of “social news” in Western media outlets have been lacking, generally less focused on utilizing the latest tools for reporting and storytelling and more intent on widespread distribution of branded content. For many media organizations, Facebook and Twitter appear to be first and foremost infrastructure companies: They provide highly efficient channels for spreading content or expanding an outlet’s audience. And until recently, they’ve been treated as such: Virtually every media outlet, from your small-town paper to The New York Times, has a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and (increasingly) Tumblr for promoting their latest stories and soliciting feedback from readers. But very few make the content of social networks a feature of regular news packages. Andy Carvin’s frenetic Twitter curation of the Middle East uprisings has been the de facto example of social media’s newsgathering power; but it’s also notable for being exceptional — in every sense. When stories based on happenings in the social space are published by major news outlets, the outlets seem fixated on a narrow scope of “what’s viral” rather than “what’s vital.”

Social + broadcast

“This is not a show simply about the hottest viral videos or trending stories on the Internet. #8millionBeliebers and #TeamSheen will not figure on The Stream,” proclaims The Stream. “Instead, our goal is to connect with unique, less-covered online communities around the world and share their stories and viewpoints on the news of the day.”

For American cable news providers like Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, the underlying incentive to deploy social media in the service of marketing and traffic goals rather than as an all-encompassing editorial tool may be out of necessity; where cable news used to be the growth sector of the American media industry, it is now on the decline. CNN fared worst in 2010, losing 37 percent of its primetime viewers, while Fox News shed 11 percent and MSNBC 5 percent. The organizations that do try to embrace social do it with the hope of bringing in (or retaining) viewers than developing a new form of storytelling.

In contrast to the shrinking U.S. cable market, Al Jazeera’s sudden growth makes it the perfect network to be creative and innovative in social journalism as a legitimate accompaniment to its regular online and broadcast programming. It should be noted that this is only partially due to the network’s recent online coup: Planning for The Stream started in November, well before protests broke out in Tunisia. “It was generated from the realization within the channel that social media was fast becoming a really important element of global information exchange,” says Phelps. “The revolutions only served to convince us we were on the right track.”

Operationally, the focus of The Stream is “purely editorial,” Phelps says. “The program comes under the over-arching banner of Al Jazeera’s model, which is about offering a different global voice. We are not constrained by the necessity to generate advertising revenue.”

“We’d certainly like to see a lot of web traffic — but engagement is for us an important part of our editorial process,” added Fitzgerald via email. “The Stream is meant to be a participatory online newsgathering community — the measure of our success in engagement will be how good the stories we cover are.”

A “truly global perspective”

While the program intends on being digital (and social) first, The Stream’s online component will certainly benefit from the global audience that Al Jazeera English already enjoys. The entire Al Jazeera network broadcasts to more than 220 million households in more than 100 countries worldwide, compared to the BBC World Service and BBC World News’ combined 241 million viewers in 2010 (BBC World Service projected a loss of 30 million listeners in 2011 due to budget constraints). Long-term plans for The Stream involve incorporating more social tools and a vast range of voices in conjunction with multiple daily broadcasts. “In a year or two I’d like the network to be doing four episodes a day, seven days a week, from two broadcast centers — in DC and Doha,” Phelps tells me. “And that our community is driving much of the editorial. Social media is about community. We must build one, and listen to it.”

“Like the rest of the network, our programme is meant to reflect the truly global perspective of a truly global network,” adds Fitzgerald. “That said, we think you’ll find the stories we cover and the tone in which we cover them might skew a bit younger than the rest of the network.”

The only limitations for The Stream’s television programming lie in the limited blocks of airtime and, as Phelps says, “in the ‘linear’ nature of TV (as opposed to the ‘distributed/randomized’ nature of information on the Internet).” The source of stories, he explains, “are now almost infinite. We are no longer constrained by our ability to get reporters/crews/satellites somewhere in order to cover it in a media-rich way.” The Stream’s format and focus are entirely flexible, to the extent that most of the technical challenges have involved translating the sleek curation of Storify into a broadcast setting. “Our guests are live via Skype; we’re showing Twitter on screen, highlighting short clips of YouTube videos played online,” says Fitzgerald. “It’s a very true experience to the web, actually. It just happens to be occurring on TV.”

March 29 2011

18:00

How Project Argo Members Communicate Across Time Zones

Project Argo is an ambitious undertaking. It involves networking NPR with 12 member stations spanning three time zones with a different mix of bloggers and editors at each station. The stations cover a variety of regionally focused, nationally resonant topics that range from climate change to local music.

Communicating effectively within these parameters has required creativity and experimentation. And we're still learning.

I'll break down our various approaches -- what we've tried, what's working, and what we're still working on -- using the three tiers of communication: One-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many.

One-to-one communication

These exchanges with the stations have offered some of the most intensive and valuable interactions of the project. When we started, much of our communication happened through the typical channels -- lengthy, one-on-one phone calls and emails to brainstorm, strategize, give feedback, and train.

Email has a tendency to be high friction. Messages can take a long time to compose and a long time to digest, and much is often lost on both ends of the process.

But of course email still has its advantages. It's asynchronous -- in other words, you can carry on a thread without needing to be on the same schedule. It's great for laying information out in precise detail, whether you're talking about metrics or line-editing posts. And it's invaluable for documenting your communication and finding it later.

For working remotely, there's nothing like a phone call or Skype session to have a good back-and-forth conversation. There are drawbacks here too, of course: Calls longer than 10 minutes need to be scheduled, and lots of good information can escape without being documented.

Lately, I've taken to augmenting phone conversations with a PiratePad to help with that last problem. Like Google Docs, PiratePad allows two or more people to see what one another are writing in real-time. The difference is that PiratePad shows your document-mate's typing character by character, rather than refreshing at regular intervals, so it's a little more immediate. This combo has been excellent.

As the project has evolved, most of our one-on-one contact has become pretty quick and spontaneous. Twitter has proven to be one of the best tools for communicating one-on-one. Since all the bloggers are on Twitter, a quick DM conversation often suffices to get across what we need to convey or inquire about.

Heather Goldstone, who blogs for WGBH at Climatide, said Twitter was her favorite tool for staying in touch. "Just in general, I've gotten really hooked on Twitter," she said. "It's more like texting instead of email. If the other person's around, it's got a faster turnaround time and more of a conversational feel than email."

Despite the surfeit of tools to choose from, however, the most valuable one-on-one interactions we can have are in person. For as much as we can do by email, over the phone, through Twitter and other means, nothing replaces being able to sit down face-to-face with our station colleagues, or being able to peer over their shoulders as they're working on their Argo sites. Of course, this is the most time- and resource-intensive way to communicate. But there's still nothing like it.

One-to-Many Communication

We occasionally need to broadcast messages to all the stations involved in the project. For that, we mainly use Basecamp, which gives us a good common archive of files and messages, and integrates pretty well with everyone's email. The biggest problem with Basecamp is that all replies to a message are sent to everyone who received the original message. This can create quite a cascade of emails when a lot of folks weigh in on a thread.

We regularly lead webinars for the Argo bloggers, and we've tried a variety of approaches to doing this. We started out setting these up through a common, organization-wide GoToMeeting account, but this required quite a bit of advance set-up and coordination, and one of the participants invariably had technical troubles. Plus, we've had difficulty recording the webinars. (GoToMeeting's recording technology only works on PCs; my teammates and I use Macs. Plus, the GoToMeeting software tends to conflict with screencasting tools we might use to record the desktop and audio.)

We've since moved to a lower-fidelity approach, using free tools. Join.Me to share desktops, and FreeConference.com for voice communication.

The voice controls in FreeConference.com's system are reasonably robust. Call organizers can mute everyone but the presenter, allowing call attendees to un-mute themselves selectively. For a small fee, FreeConference.com allows us to record the audio when we need to. Pair that audio up with video of the related slides, and you've got a webinar recording.

When our goal is capturing best practices all the stations can replicate, or documenting instructions on using various aspects of the Argo platform, we turn to our two public-facing communication channels: the Argo blog and the Argo documentation site.

Like everything else, these communication platforms pose their own disadvantages. It can be time-consuming to write up or record material for these sites. Also, the more material that's there, the harder it can be for the stations to find what they need when they have questions.

We created an FAQ on the documentation site to help the stations find answers to the most common questions. And the time invested in producing the documentation and material up-front often saves us time down the road when we can send a link to a post we've made in response to a question from one of the Argo-bloggers.

Many-to-Many Communication

We've consistently found that some of the most valuable communication around the project happens when folks at each station can talk with one another. Yet because of the geographical and topical dispersion of the stations, these can be the hardest interactions to foster. So we continue to seek ways to encourage this, using all of the tools mentioned in this piece.

Webinars offer a regular opportunity for folks at the stations to share lessons about a focused aspect of developing a niche site. Increasingly, we've sought to foster more open-ended conversations among the stations as well -- including regular story calls where a subset of the bloggers share what they're working on, spontaneous brainstorming calls, and check-in conference calls where we discuss how the project is going.

Right now, requests for technical help from bloggers at the stations tend to fall into one of three categories: bug reports (this should work, but doesn't), feature requests (I'd like to be able to do this on the site), and requests for advice (how can I accomplish this in a post?). It's impossible for the bloggers, who don't know the details of how the software works, to determine which is which.

So it would be helpful for us to route all these reports to a common channel, accessible by all, where users can chime in if they're having similar problems or have advice to share on how to accomplish something. To that end, we're working on creating a Stack-Overflow-esque board that would allow the bloggers to discuss issues and solicit advice as a group without the reply-all problems Basecamp poses.

On a few occasions, we've been able to bring the stations together for some of that invaluable person-to-person contact. As Tom Paulson, who blogs for KPLU at Humanosphere, pointed out, in-person communication builds on all the other methods of sharing ideas.

Generally Speaking

For a project as variegated as Argo, there's no one-size-fits-all solution to keeping in touch. The project has unfolded in phases -- hiring reporters, training reporters, building audience, and sustaining growth -- at various rates for each station, and each of those phases has required a different approach to communication.

What's served us best are flexibility and adaptation. Setting up a phone call over Twitter while we trade notes in a PiratePad. Using Basecamp to agree on a time for a webinar that mashes up FreeConference.com with Join.Me.

Although I've mentioned specific tools in this post, I don't think the hodgepodge of software and services we use is the most important takeaway. Instead, my strongest recommendation is this: Be attentive to your communication needs and how well your approaches are serving them, then adjust continuously.

Matt Thompson is an editorial product manager at Project Argo.

February 17 2011

16:45

Blizzard Builds KOMU Community with Mobile Video, Facebook







Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

I've always dreamed of a time when my community could come together with the help of our on-air and online collaboration. All it took was a blizzard to make it happen.

Mid-Missouri was hit with a blizzard-like storm that dumped 17.5 inches of snow into Columbia, Mo., and even more south of the city. The entire viewing audience of KOMU-TV was home and stuck inside. An ice storm had threatened to cut power across the region, but that didn't happen. Instead, the community was snowed in with power to their computers and high speed Internet connections. They were contained and ready to be engaged.

The KOMU newsroom was ready. The staff is a mix of professional reporters and journalists who are still students at the Missouri School of Journalism. The managers of the newsroom -- who, like me, are also faculty members -- encouraged the students to step up and help out in the coverage of what was looking to become an epic storm.

About 40 faculty, staff and students essentially lived in the newsroom to make sure all of the newscasts got on the air. I gathered up multiple teams of reporters, who were then placed into different communities. Each team had a really nice camera and at least one person had an iPhone, Android or Blackberry phone that could shoot video and/or Skype. I had the reporters download a set of tools that would help them tell multimedia stories about their locations and how those smaller towns were dealing with the heavy snow.

My recommendations were:

While we didn't use all of them, I wanted to make sure we were ready and able on all kinds of platforms.

Videos on the Scene

The reporters went out to their various locations, found a hotel, and got ready. As the day went on and the snow fell harder, the mobile reporters went out into the storm. They were looking at scenes no one else was willing to travel out to see -- like what a closed interstate highway looked like:

My favorite was taken the morning after the storm when one of our student reporters hopped onto a snow plow to survey the bad road conditions:

While the reporters were out sharing their stories of the snowstorm, our viewers were at home watching every link, video, and live broadcast. When the majority of the storm was over, the KOMU 8 viewers took over by sharing many of their own stories about the storm. Our newsroom has an email address that accepts moderated photos into a Ning network. Hundreds of photos were sent to KOMU -- and that was in addition to the more than 620 photos posted to the KOMU Facebook wall.

The fan page was the centerpiece of our online interaction during the storm. A year ago, KOMU had fewer than 500 "fans" on the page. Before the storm, it was up to 3100. After the storm, it was up to 5500. Our newsroom has yet to use contests to encourage fans to join our page so this jump was huge. Along with the increase in fans, more and more people join in on the conversations and share on the page.

Big Moment for Sharing

This is what I've always craved as a journalist working in a regional market. It's exactly the sort of interaction I've taught my students to foster for years. I have always wanted open the line of communication and sharing with my news audience. This blizzard was the first time I really had that opportunity.

During the storm, I lived on my computer. I commented and reacted to every discussion for at least 36 hours. I slept very little.

My experience was not unique for the staff. My husband, who also works in the newsroom, and stayed there for two days while I worked from home with our children. I had student employees who slept at the station and worked with me throughout the storm.

It was awesome and exhausting. But the relationships formed during that storm seem to be holding. In the two weeks since the storm, KOMU's Facebook page has only had about ten "fans" leave the page.

The downsides? The amount of user-generated content we gathered was overwhelming. I wanted to make sure we had opportunities to share all it. Our anchors did stories about the content viewers had shared, and we featured the images and video by showing off an iPad on the air. I also had my students create collections of the photos our viewers uploaded. Here's our Blizzard Kids collection:

The best moment? I'd say it was when our team found a woman and her son digging out the reporters' car. They were compelled to help by a Skype conversation during our newscast about how the reporters' car had been buried at a local hotel. The mother and son, who were staying there at the time, left their room just to help the reporters get their car out of the hotel parking lot:

What lessons did we learn? That when you have a chance to engage, grab it. We used mobile tools to report and encouraged our viewers to do the same. We shared, we compared, and we were a true community on-air and online. I would suffer through a hundred more blizzards if it meant we could continue to share and collaborate like we did during this one.

Jennifer Reeves worked in television news for the majority of her career. In the last six years, she has moved from traditional journalist to non-traditional thinker about journalism and education. Jen is currently the New Media Director at KOMU-TV and komu.com. At the same time, she is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and was a part of the inaugural class of Reynolds Journalism Institute fellows (2008-09).







Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

August 27 2010

23:36

4 Minute Roundup: Google Offers Free Calls via Gmail

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

In this week's 4MR podcast I look at the recently launched free phone service from Google through Gmail. Undercutting Skype and other VoIP services (not to mention landlines), Google is letting people call from their computer to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada for free, and charging low international rates. What's in it for Google? I spoke to tech pundit and Computerworld contributor Mitch Wagner to learn more.

Check it out:

bareaudio82710.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Listen to my entire interview with Mitch Wagner:

wagner full.mp3

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Call Phones from Gmail at Google

Six Things Google's Free Phone Service Can't Do at NY Times

Gmail call feature a ringing success, a million times over at Christian Science Monitor

How to make calls using Gmail at CNET

Google reportedly adding voice calling to Gmail at Computerworld

Gmail Voice Is About Future Search, Not Free Calls at Gizmodo

Gmail's now in the phone biz. Trouble for carriers down the road? at Sprint Connection blog

Google continues the assault on the price of a phone call at Washington Post

Google adds free phone calls to Gmail, wow at Seattle Times

Google Voice phone booths Dr. Who might love at News.com

Google introduces Gmail-linked phone service at SF Chronicle

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think the future of the landline will be:




What's the future of the landline telephone?Market Research

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

July 22 2010

10:11

Journalism students’ Skype election coverage project available online

A live election webcast created by a cross-university team of journalism students is now available to view online.

Using Skype and Livestream, students from University of Buckingham, Kingston University and University of Westminster collaborated on the project to run live outside broadcasts and live output as well as interviews and packages from the studio, remaining on air continuously from 10:00pm to 6:00am.

The output has been edited into a series of segments which can be watched at this link.

Twenty students also covered the counts at a range of constituencies in Winchester, Eastleigh (Chris Huhne’s seat); Southampton (two constituencies); Isle of Wight; Devizes; Bethnal Green; Twickenham (Vince Cable’s seat); Battersea; Whitney (David Cameron’s seat); and Aylesbury.

The webcast attracted an audience of 1,500 users.

Additional coverage of the project by Journalism.co.uk can be found at this link.Similar Posts:



May 28 2010

11:20

Senior-Friendly Tools to get Grandma Wired

Over the years my family and I have worked together to help my Grandmother get wired. She now uses Google Search, reads her news online, sends and receives email, and even uses Facebook to check-in with family and friends. Using the internet isn't a new concept to my Grandmother, though it's not really something she finds very intuitive either. That said, she understands the power of these tools, and relishes the opportunity to learn more.

My Grandmother also has a whole network of friends who are at various stages of computer use/online adoption. Recently, she asked me if I could share any resources for her and her friends to be able to network, learn and socialize on the internet.

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January 15 2010

10:12

Free Kiswahili synthetic voice for Freedom Fone a possibility

Freedom Fone's ability to fulfill it's promise as a must have tool for bridging the digital divide has yet to be determined. Millions of poor people have access to mobile phones, but with tariffs as high as they are in countries like Zimbabwe, experimentation in this field is still costly. And of course, for our project these are early days. The development team is still in the process of creating the variety of features that will distinguish Freedom Fone from the technically intimidating (to ordinary folk) IVR products like FreePBX, Trixbox and PBX in a Flash.

One of the recalibrations for me has been a growing appreciation of the relevance of text-to-speech synthetic voices for our platform. This isn't news to our Project Architect, Alberto Escudero Pascual. He's been convinced of its relevance from the start. In fact, in order to build an interactive online demo for Freedom Fone he integrated a commercial synthetic voice from Cepstral called Allison as a quick option for building and testing a voice menu.

As you can imagine, English speaking Allison, as good as she sounds given she's synthetic, is not an ideal voice for enunciating other languages.

As a project located in Africa we are keen to develop/acquire free synthetic voices for some of the continent's many languages and include them with the Freedom Fone software. As an open source project I hope that we can attract the contribution of free synthetic voices for many of the world's languages over time.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Etienne Barnard at Meraka Institute in Pretoria, South Africa. To my delight he indicated that work already done in Kenya on text-to-speech for Kiswahili by a team led by Dr Mucemi Gakuru at the University of Nairobi some years ago, might be updated and made available in time for our July release of Freedom Fone version 2.

In recognition of the competitive mobile phone tariffs prevailing in east Africa and the willingness of organisations there to experiment with information on demand voice services, we will create our first localisation of the Freedom Fone GUI for Kiswahili in February 2010. The possibility of including a free synthetic voice for this audience is exciting.

So why this interest in synthetic voice? Doesn't this just mean a horrible robotic sounding Kiswahili voice? Obviously original audio files with perfect inflection are the first choice, but not all information requires the effort associated with recording audio files. Freedom Fone helps with the automatic conversion of audio files for voice menus, and it will be improved over time to make it as easy as possible to create audio files using a basic microphone attached to a computer. Still, it would be a lot quicker to automatically convey information received/produced in text format, like product prices, weather reports, breaking news using text-to-speech.

And ... not all synthetic voice sounds dreadful. Build and test your own voice menu in English using Allison and our online demo. Make it the default audio menu and call in to listen for free using Skype. To do this you will need to add Skypiax4 as a Skype contact. Let us know what you think of the experience!

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02:43

Haiti: A case study in real time news

Sky News journalist Emily Purser describes how the early coverage of Haiti unfolded using Twitter, Facebook and Skype..

Throughout the night, we spoke to people through whichever platform they had access to – Skype, Twitter, Facebook- and collated a sound idea of what was happening right now. The necessity of using the internet because the phones were down forced all traditional news gathering to the side, and meant we relied entirely on the web. Sky was first with the information because we turned to the people there and relied on them to tell the story – and for that they are owed huge thanks.

The earthquake was a tragedy of the greatest proportions and our hearts and minds are with those suffering. But amidst the horror, last night was a triumph in web 2.0 journalism and communications; it proved that the internet allows us to share information across the globe, regardless of the scene.There is now no excuse for not being up-to-date, all of the time.

January 14 2010

07:29
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