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Archives: August 2007

How to create drag and drop objects in Flash

Kirupa.com has a easy and helpful tutorial on how to create interactive objects in Flash that can be dragged and dropped. The insanely addictive Stardoll makes great use of a similar technique to create interactive paper dolls. This technique can also be used to create draggable photos or interactive games.

Here’s an example that I produced last year for the Contra Costa Times. Click “continue” and select “Carolyn Dundes.” The remote is both draggable and interactive.




As you can see, the remote is an odd shape and has a transparent drop shadow. To create draggable items in Flash that are not rectangles or squares, create your image in Photoshop or Illustrator with a transparent background. In the File menu, click save for web and select the “PNG-24″ option. You can then import that object into Flash and it will retain its shape and/or transparency.

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Citizen Journalism: Speak up (and get paid for it)

Associated Content is a budding citizen journalism effort. It’s kind of like AP without the professional journalists and distribution system. Touted as “the people’s media company, contributors submit original stories as well as images, audio and video. Associated Content reviews each submission and accepted pieces are paid between $3 and $20. Essentially, people report on what they care about with AC serving as a non-traditional news editing process.


Most media outlets kind of have to gauge what their listeners/viewers/readers want from their news. While there are tiplines, letters to the editor, call in shows and more recently comment-enabled websites, these are more reactionary than original sources of news. AskQuestions.org lets anyone with a computer ask the media-ready questions that are relevant to them. Questions include “How are public schools funded in America?” and ” When will we run out of oil?” Its like having thousands of assignment editors.

UK-based Scoopt encourages aspiring paparazzi (or anyone in the right place at the right time) to sell their gotcha photos. Users upload their photos for review and Scoopt works as an agent to sell the submissions to newspapers, magazines and other media outlet. Published photos are paid a 40% royalty. The site takes great care to keep its users from turning into a wolfpack and has a detailed code of ethics.

Food 2.0: Interactive restaurant reviews and recipes

Every mainstream newspaper and food magazine has a treasure trove of restaurant reviews and/or recipes that are, at the most, archived or stashed in a shoe box by some homely octogenarian. Its time to dust off those clips and put them to good use.


Instead of forcing readers to recall a restaurant they read some time ago, create an online database of your restaurant reviews. Maps would come in handy here especially if they are searchable by location and categorized by food type, atmosphere, price, etc. Yelp does this quite well (better than most media outlets anyway) for restaurants across the country. Both include both editorial and user reviews as well as photos and maps.

While we’re on the subject of food, the tons and tons of recipes that have been written over the years are often sitting in the news library somewhere. It’s time to put them online, and because this a multimedia world, why not show your readers how to make those recipes? The L.A. Times building includes a test kitchen where all the recipes were cooked before they were printed. If you have such a space, or even a presentable kitchen, get a camera in there and show em how its done. Chow.com uses video to show its visitors how to butterfly a chicken, poach an egg and pimp a burger (?)

A great YouTube cooking lesson from Cooking with Kids in the video below:

Foodieview tackles both restaurant reviews and recipes in an elegant, well-organized way. The site also features a blog and makes use of widgets and Google Maps.

Wearable news: The next phase of multimedia journalism?


This Uncrate post about T-Post, a Swedish company that produces a wearable magazine every six weeks, is intriguing. A brief news article is printed on the inside of a T-shirt and a clever graphic is printed on the front. Often we think of multimedia journalism as computer-based but what better way to spread the news than to put it on a piece of clothing.

Mark Ecko’s interactive billboards that let anyone with a Bluetooth enabled cell phone interact with the display also have prospects in journalism. Imagine having an updated news ticker at a bus stop that the public can leave comments on in real time. These ideas are free so take them as you will, just cut me a check. (°o°)

9 Tips for improving your blog and inspiring user feedback

Many newspapers, television programs, radio broadcasts and other media outlets by now have associated blogs, but there are a lot that can use some help. Here are some tips for making the most of the online space:

1. Include exclusive content
The internet is a great place to include content that, in the interest of space/time, didn’t make the broadcast/newspaper/magazine. Exclusive interview and candid outtakes are a great addition to any blog and can be touted in the original story.

2. Ask open-ended questions
The best way to encourage reader participation is to ask questions that will get the audience talking. This works well with commentary or opinion posts where the reader is itching to share their own view. This can be as easy as asking readers for their input at the end of each post. When readers do comment, respond. It is important that the blog feels like a community and that readers feel like they are a part of that community.

3. Make your blog pop
Are you still using a stock template or does your blog have a unique design that stands out? Even if your blog is gritty, hard-news investigative journalism it could still use a little bit of color. Find a designer to give your blog a makeover or find a unique template that suits your topic.

4. Create eye-catching headlines
Your headline can be the difference between a visitor taking the time to read a post or clicking on something else. A great headline is not only eye catching, but should include relevant keywords that tell the reader what to expect from the post. Headlines — and the entire post for that matter — should be optimized for search engines to ensure the highest number of visitors possible.

5. Be concise
Many journalists and professional writers, when given the opportunity, will ramble. Blogs are not the place to publish that 50,000-word article that got canned. Keep your posts short and to the point. Break up long blocks of text into shorter ones and include headers when necessary.

6. Make use of your RSS feed
Most blogs include an RSS feed that users can subscribe to via a feed reader or email. Make the link to your feed obvious: include an RSS icon somewhere on the page and encourage readers to subscribe to your content. Page views are important so include the first paragraph or two in your RSS feed and a link back to your blog to read the rest.

7. Be a social bookmarker
Social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, Twitter, Reddit, Digg allow readers to share your posts with others who may not otherwise see your content. For example, check out the “Share This” or “Twit This” button at th end of each 10,000 Words post.

8. Interact with other bloggers
With the millions of bloggers out there, chances there are other bloggers that are that covering similar issues. Find out who these bloggers are and send them links to some of your posts that they may find interesting. There are many local bloggers who are eager to trade links with an established media organization and may be doing so already.

9. Post consistently…
…and not just when news breaks. Having a inconsistent blogging schedule dissuades readers from coming back. If you build it, they will come!

Some examples of great blogs include Dallas Morning News’ Cowboy Blog, Ted Allen’s Top Chef blog (Bravo) and VH1′s Best Week Ever blog. Have a media-affiliated blog that you love? Share it in the comments.

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