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Kevin Loker

Kevin Loker began writing for 10,000 Words in 2010 as a junior in college interning for The Washington Post. He took a break to finish his studies (in anthropology, with a focus on a technology and culture), but returned in summer 2012 to blog about technology trends and journalism, doing so outside of his day job as Digital Coordinator with the Online News Association. Email Kevin at kr.loker[at]gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @kevinloker.

‘Text is a UI’: How Journalists Can Work Usability into Online Words

Text style and placement took center stage a few weeks back while dissecting how news orgs tweet breaking news. Where should you put “Breaking”? Should it be “BREAKING”? Do you even need it at all?

A new, related mantra I’m considering for all online media endeavors, “Text is a UI.”

I found it while perusing the Alertbox of Jakob Nielsen, a web design guru whose work I’ve linked to in the past (and probably will again in the future).

“It’s a common mistake to think that only full-fledged graphical user interfaces count as interaction design and deserve usability attention,” Nielsen wrote in a post about using iterative design to move around and change words, resulting in a good, clickable, retweetable tweet.

It may sound deep and philosophical, but “Text is a UI” makes simple sense. Letters are symbols with arbitrary meaning. Words, too. And when they are paired next to and among other symbols and images online, it makes sense that we should consider not just what the words say, but also how the pairing, order, color, placement and even capitalization of our text can impact how users interact with online content. Words symbolize and signify, but they signal, too. They direct us. They’re cues for a user.

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Sharing Visually on Facebook: How Can It Get Readers to Your Site, Too?

I like photos. I tend to “Like” them, too. But despite my “clicks of approval” (read: we never really know what Likes mean), I don’t always click through to content when a news org shares an image.

Maybe everyone is more systematic than I am, but my Likes are pretty arbitrary. I’m calculated about a lot of things, but my commenting is pretty arbitrary, too.

Two things to healthily recognize here: “Liking” isn’t unvaluable to a news org, and neither is commenting. We can measure some value with those statistics and participate in a “Like science.” At the same time, measurement of engagement on something like Facebook may be inexact when you’re looking at all kinds of journalistic impact. (See good discussion on better measuring journalism’s impact here.)

Putting some of that conversation aside, if your journalistic meat doesn’t lay in Facebook’s garden, my gut is you want your audience to stay awhile on the content on your site. For whatever reason or combination of reasons—financial or philosophical.

If that’s you, here’s a good question worth considering: How do you share visually on Facebook and additionally draw in website traffic?

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5 Mobile Stats Worth Mentioning to Journalists

 

Shortly after recently announcing the theme of  this year’s third News Challenge installment  – “mobile” — the Knight Foundation tweeted an impressive stat backing up reasoning for its choice: there are 6 billion mobile devices worldwide.

Billion. With a “B.”

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Tweet about a favorite teacher, get $50 (or more) for Mediabistro courses

It’s back-to-school season, and because Mediabistro’s core is education, the site has a timely contest this week that just involves telling the Twittersphere about a favorite teacher. Why’s that worthy of a post here? Well, teachers rock, but so does the contest– one tweet and you get $50 credit towards a course class useful for your digital storytelling.

So you win. Automatically. And can learn more stuff.

Also, if your tweet is the best, you get an entirely free course. In-person or online.

Anyone with a Twitter account who participates with a 140 character or less story about a teacher gets a $50 credit toward any Mediabistro course (they’ll DM you the promo code, which means you need to follow @Mediabistro, too). The top five best tweets get $100 credit toward any Mediabistro course. And again, the winner gets a free Mediabistro course. Read more

Should I Animate That? 5 Questions for Animated GIFs in Journalism

If you’ve seen this coverage of an emotional Olympics race on Buzzfeed or this guide of gymnastic detail on The Atlantic Wire, you’ve recently seen some nifty animated GIFs in journalism.

(Note: I didn’t say GIFs about journalism, like these news cats. Hopefully you’ve already seen those.)

The success of GIF-infused content in actual news content has some media circles buzzing around a longtime internet graphic capability: “Is this an overlooked tool, or just a fad?, “Are we Buzzfeedifying maintsream news orgs, or is that a silly question now?”, and “should journalists embrace them, or are they somehow detrimental to the craft?”

They aren’t all simple questions, and I don’t have answers. (I actually posed questions here, too.) But I can comfortably say there are indeed reasons the animated GIF can work well to tell a story online.

Likewise, there are reasons it may not.

Putting other debates aside, here are five simpler questions for journalists to consider on a case-by-case basis before using an animated GIF to help digitally tell your story. Read more

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