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Deadline for National Geographic Photo Contest on Halloween

NGLogo560x430-cb1343821768You have only three more days to get your best photos into National Geographic Magazine for the pub’s annual photo contest. If you have photos dying to be seen and shared, this contest is a great way to get exposure and a shot at some serious cash.

But the competition is quite tough. According to the magazine, more than 7,000 entries from 150 countries rolled in during the 2013 go-round. The top winner wins a grand prize of $10,000 and a trip to the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar in January 2015. (That seminar alone sounds like an awesome prize, and what a resume booster.)

Click here for the rules of the contest, and here for more information. Even if you’re not entering the contest, it’s worth following NG‘s photo blog each week for editor’s picks of photos. Now go forth and snap photos!

 

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Dreamstime Stock Photos Adds Social Features for Designers

dreamstimeDreamstime, a stock photo agency we’ve covered before, has added a new social feature to their platform. Via a fancy algorithm (aren’t they all fancy?), the platform will now make suggestions to users choosing a photo based on past preferences and similar searches from other designers. Sort of like when you can see what you Facebook friends have watched on Netflix. It means you get to see more images and merchandise that actually works with what you’re doing.

They’ve also added a share feature for most major social networks; by sharing what pics you’re choosing, you give them more data to make recommendations for you. Says cofounder Serban Enache:

We turn this data around to help create a better, overall user experience. In an effort to expand our horizons, both of Dreamstime’s new features are key in driving user discovery, as well as assist customers in easily finding contemporary stock images that they never knew existed. Users will now have the opportunity to take a peek at stock photos that other designers and photographers are selecting, and have the option to further explore on first sight.

Now even stock photos, which are the epitome of impersonal, want to be your friend on Facebook.

Dreamstime Launches WordPress Plugin for Stock Photos

dreamstimeFinding images is my least favorite part of writing on the web. As a freelancer, it’s worse, because you don’t get to play with an organization’s subscription to Getty Images. It’s one thing when you can pull editorial photos for breaking news. It’s another entirely when you’re writing about, well, stock photos and need some media.

So let’s just say it: in those cases, it’s probably better to create your own art. But until they find me another in the hour in the day, stock photos it is.  Read more

This Is Why You Don’t Show Twitter Streams Live On TV

It could happen to anyone: You’re following a hashtag or a trending news topic on Twitter, and bam, you’re assaulted with hashtag spam or, worse, some sexually explicit item you don’t want to see.

Most of us quickly scroll away or close the browser, offended and put off for seconds. But what if you can’t pan away quick enough to avert not only your eyes but your viewers eyes from seeing … well everything?

Denver TV Station Fox 31 found out the hard way yesterday that you really need to curate that user-generated content before you put it up on screen. In the course of scrolling through Twitter images of the deadly helicopter crash in Seattle, the show went to the Twitter feed of photos from the crash scene.

Unfortunately, this was a crash course in the crassness of the Internet. The images weren’t selected ahead of time and so ended up being a hodge podge of pictures, including some off-topic and inappropriate things users had tagged to ride the coattails of the news cycle. That’s how the Denver morning show team ended up showing some non-relevant images that included food, Edward Scissors Hands and a penis. Yeah, that. On live TV. The reaction of shock on the anchors’ faces says it all:

surprisetweet

Many of the videos of this have been pulled down, but if you for some reason want to see the actual broadcast, Deadspin still has it posted in full. (Obviously, NSFW.)

The station did issue an apology, but it’s the type of thing you can’t unsee — and a lesson we hope nobody else needs to re-learn.

While reporting breaking news about the crash of the KOMO-TV helicopter in Seattle, FOX31 Denver accidentally broadcast an offensive photo while scrolling live through a Twitter feed of pictures from the crash scene.

The photo was mistakenly broadcast by our control room. It did not come from the tablet many viewers saw being used by one of our anchors.

We apologize for the inadvertent broadcast of the image and we are taking immediate steps to prevent such an accident from happening again.

This is why you don’t show uncurated feeds on live TV. And while we’re on it, really, you should be verifying any of those images you share before airing them anyway. This wouldn’t have happened if that step had taken place.

(h/t Deadspin)

The CIR Is On It: Telling the Story of Solitary Confinement for Teens Over, and Over, and Over Again

CIR the boxThis week, the Center for Investigative Reporting released a print story, a short animation, and a photo essay about solitary confinement for adolescents in the U.S. prison system. That’s in addition to a NewsHour and a public radio piece released last month and to a yet unreleased half hour documentary and graphic novel. By the end of the month, there will be around 10 pieces of the adolescent solitary confinement story circling you on one form of media or another.

It’s enough to make you rethink what you’ve been reporting on all year. CIR reporters Daffodil Altan and Trey Bundy started over a year ago trying to gain access into prisons and report on conditions for teens. Altan says that the access issues surrounding the story seemed “almost insurmountable” at a certain point. Instead of being deterred, they pressed on and worked on thinking of different ways to handle the content. Says Altan:

We started of thinking of ways to tell the story even though we were dealing with essentially invisible sights. That’s  where the idea for the animation came up. We had met this very compelling young man in New York who told us about his experience at Rikers very powerfully and we had all this tape of him…we decided to try to take 3 hours of interview and see if we could carve that into something smaller and with a narrative arc.

And so the reporting team of two or three turned into a team of somewhere around 15-20, according to Bundy. Bundy says that as they are reporting they’re “always having conversations about what else we can do besides what we’ve already settled on.” In this case, there was a written story in mind, with photos to boot. But a colleague who acts as a liaison between the CIR and KQED “heard radio all over this,” says Bundy. When New York State started talking about banning the practice of solitary confinement for teenagers, NewsHour suddenly wanted the story sooner. “That wasn’t always supposed to be the first piece that was released on this,” Bundy adds. Having the story told across platforms means you reach more people. Says Bundy, “There’s some overlap between people who listen to public radio or watch NewsHour, or read Medium, but it’s not total overlap. The benefit of having multiple platforms is that you are going to catch multiple, different types of audiences, hopefully.”

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