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May 31 2013

21:02

May Linkdump

I read a lot of stuff. Or look at it, anyway. I save some of it. I tweet some of it. Not much, really.

Here are some of the most interesting/useful/provocative/linkbaitey things I set aside for repeated/deeper/continued consumption since I last published a Linkdump post on April 10, 2013.

  1. Teacher Testimonial: How Rap Genius Fixed My English Class: If you haven’t been following my interest in emerging annotation platform Rap Genius, you’re missing out. I like it. I like the annotation tools, complete with a simple Redditish flavor of Markdown, I like the casual copyright infringement (so sorry I uploaded your image to Imgur instead of hotlinking to it, but hey, that’s a courtesy, too). Anyway, they’re expanding. Poetry Genius. Rock music. And, inevitably, News Genius, although they don’t quite have the formula quite right there yet, mostly annotating speeches and public records, whereas I’d like to apply these tools to articles. Anyway. In this link, the Rap Genius platform is used by an English teacher to get his students to annotate Siddhartha.
  2. The Guardian launched a UGC photo platform. This is relevant to my work. Read the comment thread on this and other related posts from around the launch to get an idea of some of the issues people enjoy debating on this topic.
  3. Flat design is a trend. It’s OK.
  4. Twitter is hiring someone to lead their News team, which is, more accurately, a News Partnerships team. Even more accurately, it’s a team heavily populated by brilliant and talented people I respect. This is not a job application. But somebody has to manage them, apparently. Much of the conversation around this job listing completely missed the point of the team and their role in driving adoption and increase of use of a product called Twitter at news organizations. It was silly.
  5. What it’s like to be a Jew in a state prison in the United States of America. (Hint: Awkward.)
  6. Propublica open-sourced a tool to search Instagram by time and location, if you’re into that sort of thing. (Again, relevant to my work.)
  7. Relevant to your arguments about building things for an audience that is comprised of a number of people somewhere between one and a number less than everyone, here’s some light film theory discussion about “the public” and Hitchcock’s construction of his audience.
  8. How the Syrian Electronic Army hacked The Onion: Love, love, love this new genre of show-your-work DevOps explainer where we explain how vandals snatched our keys. (Spoiler: Phishing. It’s always phishing. No actual hackery involved, really.)
  9. Speaking of new genres, Mat Honan has the whole “I went to a horrible tech conference so I’m going to write a crazy Gonzo piece about what it felt like and what these guys believe in and it scares me” thing down. I mean, down.
  10. Casual onlookers will have spotted some casual language in the public communication about Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr. I didn’t make the connection at first, but of course, “Fuck Yeah” is part of Tumblr’s history.

 

Tags: Ideas

August 24 2012

16:49

A few thoughts about MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses

Educators are talking about the phenomenon of large-enrollment free online courses offered by very reputable professors and universities.

Now the University of Texas “is in negotiations with Coursera and edX, two of the most prominent companies engaged in the mass distribution of course content from elite universities for free online” (source: Texas Tribune). So I have to wonder if more large public universities — such as my employer, the University of Florida — will go this route as well.

I started a six-week course in computer programming at Udacity, another MOOC provider, but I wasn’t able to finish it because of work demands. Maybe I’ll get back to it. I’m not sure. But I found the course to be extremely well presented, and I was learning new things and enjoying the process. So I must say I’m a fan.

In an article published today, education analyst Kevin Carey wrote:

MOOC credentials … will signal achievement selectivity. Instead of running a tournament to decide who gets to take the class and very likely get an A-minus or A, they’re running tournaments to decide who did best in the class.

That rang a bell in my mind — and here’s why: There’s a stay-with-it aspect to finishing a degree program. Plenty of people begin a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program and fail to finish it. So one thing you know about a person with a degree is that he or she completed something. Then there’s the brand of the school he or she attended: good or bad? Party school or academic powerhouse? Expensive? Elitist? Etc. No one much cares about your GPA unless you’re applying to a higher degree program. Your major counts more in some career fields and less in others.

But for the free, open, online course: Did you stick to it even though there was no grade? Even though there was no degree as an end goal? I think that’s what Carey is getting at — because, yes, pressure from many corners results in far too many students getting A’s or B’s that some years ago would have been C’s. And people who get C’s today would have outright failed in some cases in the past.

It may never come to pass that people receive the same kind of credit (official academic credit, provable with a transcript) from MOOCs that they get from completing a traditional college degree. But given the way traditional education is going — I’m talking about brutal budget cuts (especially in Florida) as well as grade inflation — maybe completion of a MOOC will mean you have in fact learned something thoroughly, while completion of a degree will mean only that you showed up and took the tests.

The standard of quality indicated by Udacity’s decision (last week) to cancel one of its courses is another thing that intrigues me about these new companies focused on MOOCs. The professor had spent 45 hours recording material for the course. Udacity had edited most of the video. But then, for reasons Udacity did not clarify, the organization decided not to offer the course, even though 20,000 students had signed up for it.

16:49

A few thoughts about MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses

Educators are talking about the phenomenon of large-enrollment free online courses offered by very reputable professors and universities.

Now the University of Texas “is in negotiations with Coursera and edX, two of the most prominent companies engaged in the mass distribution of course content from elite universities for free online” (source: Texas Tribune). So I have to wonder if more large public universities — such as my employer, the University of Florida — will go this route as well.

I started a six-week course in computer programming at Udacity, another MOOC provider, but I wasn’t able to finish it because of work demands. Maybe I’ll get back to it. I’m not sure. But I found the course to be extremely well presented, and I was learning new things and enjoying the process. So I must say I’m a fan.

In an article published today, education analyst Kevin Carey wrote:

MOOC credentials … will signal achievement selectivity. Instead of running a tournament to decide who gets to take the class and very likely get an A-minus or A, they’re running tournaments to decide who did best in the class.

That rang a bell in my mind — and here’s why: There’s a stay-with-it aspect to finishing a degree program. Plenty of people begin a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program and fail to finish it. So one thing you know about a person with a degree is that he or she completed something. Then there’s the brand of the school he or she attended: good or bad? Party school or academic powerhouse? Expensive? Elitist? Etc. No one much cares about your GPA unless you’re applying to a higher degree program. Your major counts more in some career fields and less in others.

But for the free, open, online course: Did you stick to it even though there was no grade? Even though there was no degree as an end goal? I think that’s what Carey is getting at — because, yes, pressure from many corners results in far too many students getting A’s or B’s that some years ago would have been C’s. And people who get C’s today would have outright failed in some cases in the past.

It may never come to pass that people receive the same kind of credit (official academic credit, provable with a transcript) from MOOCs that they get from completing a traditional college degree. But given the way traditional education is going — I’m talking about brutal budget cuts (especially in Florida) as well as grade inflation — maybe completion of a MOOC will mean you have in fact learned something thoroughly, while completion of a degree will mean only that you showed up and took the tests.

The standard of quality indicated by Udacity’s decision (last week) to cancel one of its courses is another thing that intrigues me about these new companies focused on MOOCs. The professor had spent 45 hours recording material for the course. Udacity had edited most of the video. But then, for reasons Udacity did not clarify, the organization decided not to offer the course, even though 20,000 students had signed up for it.

April 20 2012

06:26

Programming and journalism students: A conversation

I think it’s pretty cool to use Storify to sort out the threads of a bunch of simultaneous conversations on Twitter:

[View the story "Programming and journalism students: A conversation" on Storify]

Please join in — on Twitter, on Facebook, or here.

06:26

Programming and journalism students: A conversation

I think it’s pretty cool to use Storify to sort out the threads of a bunch of simultaneous conversations on Twitter:

[View the story "Programming and journalism students: A conversation" on Storify]

Please join in — on Twitter, on Facebook, or here.

April 12 2012

04:00

The liberal arts portion of a journalism education

Model Curricula for Journalism Education is a 150-page document produced by UNESCO and published in 2007. Its contents are based on work done in 2005 by an international group of journalism educators.

While many details in the document (particularly the recommended books) are now quite out of date, the general principles and recommendations are still solid and useful.

Although my main concern usually centers on digital skills (visual, audio, code) for reporting and storytelling, I was intrigued by these two lists in the UNESCO document (pages 33–34):

Journalism and Society

  • A knowledge of the role of journalism in society, including its role in developing and securing democracy.
  • An ability to reflect on developments within journalism.
  • An understanding of how information is collected and managed by political, commercial and other organizations.
  • An awareness of the international flow of information and its effects on one’s own country.
  • A knowledge of the history of journalism and the news media in one’s own country and the world.
  • A knowledge of news media ownership, organization and competition.
  • A knowledge of the laws affecting the news media in one’s own country and the world.

Knowledge

  • A basic understanding of one’s own country’s system of government, its constitution, system of justice, political process, economy, social and cultural organization, and its relations with other countries.
  • A basic knowledge of the geography and history of one’s own country and the world.
  • A basic knowledge of science.
  • A specialized knowledge of at least one subject area important to journalism in one’s own country.

These are listed under “Journalism Competencies” (page 30) and follow a much longer list labeled “Professional Standards,” which includes research skills, writing skills, and a list with this unwieldy heading:

Skilled use of the tools of journalism in editing, designing, and producing material, for print, broadcast and online media, with an understanding of and ability to adapt to convergence and technological developments in journalism.

I noticed the absence of math skills, statistics, knowledge of economics, and computer programming skills from the lists.

Lacking skills and knowledge in those areas, a journalist is ill-prepared for reporting in today’s world.

Related post: 6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today (July 2011).

04:00

The liberal arts portion of a journalism education

Model Curricula for Journalism Education is a 150-page document produced by UNESCO and published in 2007. Its contents are based on work done in 2005 by an international group of journalism educators.

While many details in the document (particularly the recommended books) are now quite out of date, the general principles and recommendations are still solid and useful.

Although my main concern usually centers on digital skills (visual, audio, code) for reporting and storytelling, I was intrigued by these two lists in the UNESCO document (pages 33–34):

Journalism and Society

  • A knowledge of the role of journalism in society, including its role in developing and securing democracy.
  • An ability to reflect on developments within journalism.
  • An understanding of how information is collected and managed by political, commercial and other organizations.
  • An awareness of the international flow of information and its effects on one’s own country.
  • A knowledge of the history of journalism and the news media in one’s own country and the world.
  • A knowledge of news media ownership, organization and competition.
  • A knowledge of the laws affecting the news media in one’s own country and the world.

Knowledge

  • A basic understanding of one’s own country’s system of government, its constitution, system of justice, political process, economy, social and cultural organization, and its relations with other countries.
  • A basic knowledge of the geography and history of one’s own country and the world.
  • A basic knowledge of science.
  • A specialized knowledge of at least one subject area important to journalism in one’s own country.

These are listed under “Journalism Competencies” (page 30) and follow a much longer list labeled “Professional Standards,” which includes research skills, writing skills, and a list with this unwieldy heading:

Skilled use of the tools of journalism in editing, designing, and producing material, for print, broadcast and online media, with an understanding of and ability to adapt to convergence and technological developments in journalism.

I noticed the absence of math skills, statistics, knowledge of economics, and computer programming skills from the lists.

Lacking skills and knowledge in those areas, a journalist is ill-prepared for reporting in today’s world.

Related post: 6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today (July 2011).

February 04 2012

13:48

How a Poet Learned to Program | P2PU Blog

"In the fall of 2011, John Britton and I undertook a learning experiment. John would mentor me in webmaking. I would work on an idea for an interactive world history atlas. John would help me as much as I wished, upon the condition that I document each moment of the experience."

December 18 2011

05:47

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design

Thought-provoking! A really good article that pushes us to think beyond swiping our fingers on "pictures under glass."

July 31 2011

16:44

6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

16:44

6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

June 27 2011

14:30

Branding: Should journalists build a personal brand?

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

14:30

Branding: Should journalists build a personal brand?

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

May 19 2011

17:43

Ideas for using Encyclo in journalism classes

Have you looked at Encyclo, the new project from Nieman Journalism Lab? This is a really neat site for the present moment in journalism — when all kinds of new sites and apps are sprouting up like flowers in springtime.

Entries include groundbreaking news sites such as the Texas Tribune, technologies such as Flipboard, and traditional newspapers such as the Guardian. There are magazines, broadcast entities, and more. Each entry is chock-full of links.

Each entry page has five sections:

  1. The main entry text.
  2. Key links: “News articles and commentaries that give you an idea of the conversations that have gone on around the subject.”
  3. A list of links to the organization’s “peers, allies, and competitors.”
  4. The five most recent articles from the Nieman Journalism Lab archive on the subject.
  5. The five most recent articles from Mediagazer, an aggregator of news about the news business.

So here’s what I think we could do with students: Assign a different entry to each student in a class and have the student use it as a springboard into an exploration of that subject. So instead of “Write a report about …”, the assignment is to take a report that’s already been written and use it to find examples, exceptions, or even inaccuracies.

The student could write a blog post about his/her discoveries; make a presentation to the class (showing lots of examples); compare sites in a collaborative exercise with other students and their Encyclo entries. Students might even develop an “innovation scale” and rank Encyclo subjects on that scale.

The Nieman Lab folks have asked for help in correcting or otherwise improving entries (see their About page). This is a way to get journalism students involved in the conversation and the debates about our field.

And it’s so much more up-to-date than any textbook!

Have you looked at Encyclo, the new project from Nieman Journalism Lab? This is a really neat site for the present moment in journalism — when all kinds of new sites and apps are sprouting up like flowers in springtime.

Entries include groundbreaking news sites such as the Texas Tribune, technologies such as Flipboard, and traditional newspapers such as the Guardian. There are magazines, broadcast entities, and more. Each entry is chock-full of links.

Each entry page has five sections:

  1. The main entry text.
  2. Key links: “News articles and commentaries that give you an idea of the conversations that have gone on around the subject.”
  3. A list of links to the organization’s “peers, allies, and competitors.”
  4. The five most recent articles from the Nieman Journalism Lab archive on the subject.
  5. The five most recent articles from Mediagazer, an aggregator of news about the news business.

So here’s what I think we could do with students: Assign a different entry to each student in a class and have the student use it as a springboard into an exploration of that subject. So instead of “Write a report about …”, the assignment is to take a report that’s already been written and use it to find examples, exceptions, or even inaccuracies.

The student could write a blog post about his/her discoveries; make a presentation to the class (showing lots of examples); compare sites in a collaborative exercise with other students and their Encyclo entries. Students might even develop an “innovation scale” and rank Encyclo subjects on that scale.

The Nieman Lab folks have asked for help in correcting or otherwise improving entries (see their About page). This is a way to get journalism students involved in the conversation and the debates about our field.

And it’s so much more up-to-date than any textbook!

17:43

Ideas for using Encyclo in journalism classes

Have you looked at Encyclo, the new project from Nieman Journalism Lab? This is a really neat site for the present moment in journalism — when all kinds of new sites and apps are sprouting up like flowers in springtime.

Entries include groundbreaking news sites such as the Texas Tribune, technologies such as Flipboard, and traditional newspapers such as the Guardian. There are magazines, broadcast entities, and more. Each entry is chock-full of links.

Each entry page has five sections:

  1. The main entry text.
  2. Key links: “News articles and commentaries that give you an idea of the conversations that have gone on around the subject.”
  3. A list of links to the organization’s “peers, allies, and competitors.”
  4. The five most recent articles from the Nieman Journalism Lab archive on the subject.
  5. The five most recent articles from Mediagazer, an aggregator of news about the news business.

So here’s what I think we could do with students: Assign a different entry to each student in a class and have the student use it as a springboard into an exploration of that subject. So instead of “Write a report about …”, the assignment is to take a report that’s already been written and use it to find examples, exceptions, or even inaccuracies.

The student could write a blog post about his/her discoveries; make a presentation to the class (showing lots of examples); compare sites in a collaborative exercise with other students and their Encyclo entries. Students might even develop an “innovation scale” and rank Encyclo subjects on that scale.

The Nieman Lab folks have asked for help in correcting or otherwise improving entries (see their About page). This is a way to get journalism students involved in the conversation and the debates about our field.

And it’s so much more up-to-date than any textbook!

Have you looked at Encyclo, the new project from Nieman Journalism Lab? This is a really neat site for the present moment in journalism — when all kinds of new sites and apps are sprouting up like flowers in springtime.

Entries include groundbreaking news sites such as the Texas Tribune, technologies such as Flipboard, and traditional newspapers such as the Guardian. There are magazines, broadcast entities, and more. Each entry is chock-full of links.

Each entry page has five sections:

  1. The main entry text.
  2. Key links: “News articles and commentaries that give you an idea of the conversations that have gone on around the subject.”
  3. A list of links to the organization’s “peers, allies, and competitors.”
  4. The five most recent articles from the Nieman Journalism Lab archive on the subject.
  5. The five most recent articles from Mediagazer, an aggregator of news about the news business.

So here’s what I think we could do with students: Assign a different entry to each student in a class and have the student use it as a springboard into an exploration of that subject. So instead of “Write a report about …”, the assignment is to take a report that’s already been written and use it to find examples, exceptions, or even inaccuracies.

The student could write a blog post about his/her discoveries; make a presentation to the class (showing lots of examples); compare sites in a collaborative exercise with other students and their Encyclo entries. Students might even develop an “innovation scale” and rank Encyclo subjects on that scale.

The Nieman Lab folks have asked for help in correcting or otherwise improving entries (see their About page). This is a way to get journalism students involved in the conversation and the debates about our field.

And it’s so much more up-to-date than any textbook!

January 11 2011

20:54

Visual narratives: Empirical data

From a research study by two scholars at Stanford:

In this paper, we investigate the design of narrative visualizations and identify techniques for telling stories with data graphics. We take an empirical approach, analyzing visualizations from online journalism, blogs, instructional videos, and visualization research. After reviewing related work, we share five selected case studies which highlight varied design strategies and illustrate our analytic approach. We then formulate a design space constructed from an analysis of 58 examples. Our analysis identifies salient dimensions of visual storytelling, including how graphical techniques and interactivity can enforce various levels of structure and narrative flow. We describe seven genres of narrative visualization: magazine style, annotated chart, partitioned poster, flow chart, comic strip, slide show, and video. These genres can be combined with interactivity and messaging to produce varying balances of author-driven and reader-driven experiences. [boldface added]

Here’s the study: Narrative Visualization: Telling Stories with Data (PDF).

I found it thanks to a post on the blog Information Aesthetics. Together with Nathan Yau’s Flowing Data, it’s a source of much wonder and delight.

20:54

Visual narratives: Empirical data

From a research study by two scholars at Stanford:

In this paper, we investigate the design of narrative visualizations and identify techniques for telling stories with data graphics. We take an empirical approach, analyzing visualizations from online journalism, blogs, instructional videos, and visualization research. After reviewing related work, we share five selected case studies which highlight varied design strategies and illustrate our analytic approach. We then formulate a design space constructed from an analysis of 58 examples. Our analysis identifies salient dimensions of visual storytelling, including how graphical techniques and interactivity can enforce various levels of structure and narrative flow. We describe seven genres of narrative visualization: magazine style, annotated chart, partitioned poster, flow chart, comic strip, slide show, and video. These genres can be combined with interactivity and messaging to produce varying balances of author-driven and reader-driven experiences. [boldface added]

Here’s the study: Narrative Visualization: Telling Stories with Data (PDF).

I found it thanks to a post on the blog Information Aesthetics. Together with Nathan Yau’s Flowing Data, it’s a source of much wonder and delight.

December 05 2010

16:15

Skills for journalists: Again, the question

What skills does today’s journalist need to have? I do not think this question has only one answer.

In a comment on a blog post by Robert Hernandez, Michael Grimaldi wrote:

The highest skill of journalism is knowing the number of questions to ask, how many people of whom to ask them, and then reporting the answers as thoroughly and accurately as possible to convey the truth.

That’s journalism. The rest of it (touch typing vs. hunt-and-peck, spreadsheet software, graphic design/page layout, programming, code, photography or whatever) is technical skill and important to know, but, I suggest, not the essence of the profession and vocation of journalism.

Knowing which questions to ask — and of whom to ask them, and where to find those people (or those data sets) and how to get them to give you answers — yup, absolutely, these are essential skills …

For a reporter. But it takes more than reporters to produce journalism, and it always did. No, I’m not going to claim that the pressman was a journalist — he was not. And the IT guy is not a journalist either. But I think Michael Grimaldi and others who agree with him need to recognize that editors and designers and photojournalists and data journalists are, in fact, journalists.

They do journalism work. They produce journalism. And they don’t all go out with a pen and a notebook and ask questions of people on the street.

They do, however, ask questions. Lots of questions.

If you don’t understand that a graphic designer asks (and finds answers to) a very large number of questions before producing something like this, then I would suggest you do not understand how journalism is done in 2010.

November 28 2010

17:28

Online video, audiences, sharing: Putting it all together

I thought about titling this post “Another stupid way news sites waste time and effort by failing to understand the Web and how people use it,” but I thought maybe that was far too broad, since it covers so many things.

This post is really about how journalism organizations could use video intelligently:

  1. Embedding
  2. Linking
  3. Sharing
  4. Full screen
  5. Downloads
  6. Engagement
  7. Promote other pages and stories

I spend a lot of time speaking (and thinking) about online video — both journalism video and the broader YouTube varieties. When we think about how people use online video — and by “people” I mean mostly North Americans in the college and university student age group — we absolutely must consider sharing.

How young people find out about videos (and — let’s face it — a large portion of all news and information) is because one or more of their friends posted a link on Facebook, or shared it in some other way that brought it to their attention.

It doesn’t take too much intelligence to conclude that it’s very important to make it very easy to share the videos that you produce.

The video embedded above (from the Toronto Star) won an award at this year’s Online News Association annual conference, and I really love the way it tells the story in a manner that can grab the attention of almost anyone — even if you have no particular interest in Africa or in windmills.

Embedding: I had to install an extra plug-in to embed that video here (and on a free WordPress.com blog, I would not be able to embed it). That’s one consideration — if a video is on YouTube or Vimeo, it can be easily embedded almost anywhere, in any kind of blog, and on Facebook. Make it easy for people to embed your video in WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and anywhere.

Linking: From the embedded video above, you can’t view the original. There’s no link. That’s one consideration about linking, and here’s another — the video is like an appetizer to a bigger, more detailed story. That’s often true of online journalism videos, and often there is a fuller treatment in a text story, or even a big package of related features. But how will anyone ever find those other pieces? Even at the Toronto Star’s website, this video does not appear on the same Web page with the text story! (Yes, there is a link. But it’s asking people to click and wait, and that’s not necessary.)

Sharing: These cute little buttons make sharing on Twitter, Facebook, etc., simple — this is essential.

Lots of journalism sites are missing the boat on sharing. Earlier today I watched this video from GlobalPost: On Location: Cairo – Egypt’s pre-election crackdown (excellent work by UF grad Jon Jensen). On the stand-alone video page, it has NO options for embedding and NO options for sharing. (Note: Some GlobalPost stories have been “Liked” more than 1,000 times via Facebook.)

I had to make a screen capture from the video and upload it and link it to provide you the incentive you see above (an image that will take you to the video), and most people just are not going to do that much work to share your videos.

Journalism videos SHOULD be embedded and SHOULD be shared, but they need to LINK BACK to the journalism, to the original. The video is a promo for the rest of the story. The video is a tease, an entry point to MORE. The video should BRING people TO your site.

Does this mean online videos should not include pre-roll advertising? Maybe.

Full screen: From what I’ve seen, young people always make a video full screen if it’s possible to do it. Some videos look great full screen, and many do not. Of course, there are bandwidth constraints, etc. I’m just saying we should consider how the videos look when blown up to a width of 1200 pixels — or larger.

Downloads: If I could download the windmill video and keep it on my iPhone, I would show it to people. Too bad — the Toronto Star does not allow me to download it. If more journalism organizations treated video as (downloadable) podcasts, they might get a lot more leverage out of the video work.

Engagement: The windmill video above has some non-standard enhancements to the storytelling, and I think they work fantastically well to grab and hold the viewer’s attention. Usually I feel uncomfortable about using music in a journalistic video — I’m concerned that it takes away from the journalism, the credibility, the realism. In this case, however, I just love the music because it really does enhance the story. (Too many videos use bland music loops that add nothing.)

Most people are quick to click away from a video if it fails to engage them — 20 percent of viewers will quit a video in the first 10 seconds (source; from analyst firm Visible Measures). To me that says the crucial characteristic of every video is a strong opening. Grab people immediately; guarantee that they are going to see something interesting.

The windmill video is not too long (3 min. 10 sec.). It does not try to tell us everything. That’s why we have the text story.

Video as promo: Increasing page views

Online video is immensely popular, especially with younger Internet users, and its popularity is still increasing. That’s the reason to think about it more, and figure out effective ways to use it to bring good stories to people’s attention.

Consider the two videos linked here: The story about William and the windmills can be bringing viewers to the Toronto Star for years (because it’s not tied to any breaking news), but it ought to be linked better — not only to the Star’s text story but also to other sites and pages (inside the Star and outside) — about NGOs and Africa and Malawi and the 2007 TED Talk that introduced William Kamkwamba to the world and the book and the blog. A video with long legs is worth extra time and effort — in production AND in promotion. (Educators: Show your students the TED video and the Toronto Star video and discuss storytelling!)

The GlobalPost video about current elections, on the other hand, has a short shelf life — nevertheless, it could be linked to a zillion other stories related to Egypt and the region. The BBC has always been my exemplar for this kind of cross-linking (and self-promotion); see this example: Egypt holds parliamentary poll (two insets within the story: Related Stories and Parliamentary Vote). Why doesn’t GlobalPost have links like those on its video page? Why squander that opportunity?

If you’re not familiar with GlobalPost, read this from Nieman Journalism Lab (November 2010).

14:38

Online video, links, and people: Putting it all together

I spend a lot of time speaking (and thinking) about online video — both journalism video and the broader YouTube varieties. When we think about how people use online video — and by “people” I mean mostly North Americans in the college and university student age group — we have to consider sharing.

How young people find out about videos (and — let’s face it — a large portion of all news and information) is because one or more of their friends posted a link on Facebook, or shared it in some other way that brought it to their attention.

It doesn’t take too much intelligence to conclude that it’s very important to make it very easy to share the videos that you produce.

William and the Windmill

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