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Archives: June 2009

How the media reacted to the sudden death of Michael Jackson

When a cultural figurehead dies suddenly — as in the recent cases of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon — newsrooms are often left scrambling to produce not only print and broadcast retrospectives, but multimedia and interactive stories as well. Planning ahead on how to address such breaking news, as highlighted in this post, is key to reacting to such events in a timely matter.

One of the quickest multimedia elements to create in the event of an unforeseen death is a photo slideshow, which many media organizations produced after Michael Jackson’s passing.

NBC Los Angeles combined wire and staff photos to create two photo slideshows: one of fans reactions to the news of the pop singer’s death and the other a visual timeline of Jackson’s storied career.

CNN, El País and The Associated Press (here, here and here) took similar approaches highlighting the singer’s music and personal appearances in slideshow form.

The Los Angeles Times took a unique approach to the slideshow approach, creating a slideshow of the unique and downright bizarre art dedicated to the “King of Pop.”

Mexico’s El Universal took the concept even further with a self-contained Flash piece that includes photos, a timeline and an infographic. In this age of breaking news, it is not enough to know how to create multimedia or Flash-based projects but know how to produce them quickly and with little notice.

Of course, online coverage of Michael Jackson’s death went beyond just slideshows. The Guardian (UK) created a dataset of every one of the singer’s hit songs and is encouraging users to transform the data into visualizations or whatever they can imagine. Technology blog Chip Chick created a visual history of Jackson’s contributions to technology and the New York Times created an interactive infographic of the singer’s Billboard chart history.

Twitter played a large role in spreading the news of Jackson’s death (view a map of “Michael Jackson” tweets here), proving once more that the news audience will not wait for traditional media to break news. The ultimate goal is not to compete with social media, but to create online content that is both timely and accurate.

Thanks to @LizRemus, @phiden, @chilango2, @lfmccullough, @jisa39, @NBCLocal, DannyDougherty and @brainwise for their suggestions for this post.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Do you have a multimedia emergency plan?
Where to find the best in Flash journalism
5 Common photo slideshow mistakes

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Journalism Grads: 30 Things You Should Do This Summer

You could spend this summer working on your killer tan… or you could use the downtime to get heads up on the thousands of other grads competing for journalism jobs. Use this checklist to improve your journalism skills and set yourself apart from the pack:

1. Start a blog and post at least twice a week

2. If you already have a blog, write a post that gets retweeted 20 times

3. Shoot 100 amazing photos and post them on Flickr

4. Friend at least 50 journalists on Twitter who in turn follow you back

5. Become a part of a crowdsourcing project (start here)

6. Improve at least 5 Wikipedia entries

7. Create an audio slideshow using Soundslides

8. Shoot and edit a 3-minute video and post it to YouTube

9. Design a website from scratch using HTML and CSS

10. Create and maintain a Delicious account with at least 50 links that you find interesting

11. Create an online portfolio

12. Learn at least one other form of blogging (e.g. photoblogging, videoblogging, liveblogging)

13. Crop, resize, and color correct 50 photos using photo editing software

14. Start your own podcast

15. Create a profile on LinkedIn

16. Learn another computer language besides HTML (e.g. XML, PHP, MySQL)

17. Create an avatar and use it on all your social networking profiles

18. Learn how to create a basic slideshow in Flash

19. Subscribe to at least 25 non-journalism blogs using an RSS reader

20. Record, edit and embed a 3-minute piece of audio.

21. Interview 10 people using a handheld audio recorder

22. Interview 10 people using a video camera

23. Create a map mashup using a CSV file

24. Set your social network profiles to private or remove any incriminating evidence

25. Create a multimedia project that incorporates, video, audio, and text

26. Create a Flash project that uses ActionScript 3.0

27. Write a blog post that is Dugg at least 20 times

28. Join Wired Journalists

29. Attend a multimedia training workshop or take an online course

30. Remind yourself why you want to be a journalist

UPDATE: Check out the follow-up post Why having technical skills alone just won’t cut it

Also on 10,000 Words:

How to make the most of your journalism internship
15 Journalists’ outstanding personal portfolios
Why J-Schools matter
10 Journalists you should follow on Twitter

10 Ways to improve online sports journalism

Online sports coverage doesn’t have to be all scores and stats. Nowadays, sports fans have a multitude of ways of experiencing the game without ever having to leave their home. Here are a few ways to give sports reporting a new media makeover using online technology.

1. Make it interactive

Sure you can try to recreate the game with clever writing or visual language, but interactive and Flash-based stories give the online user a better understanding of exactly what happened. Take for example ESPN’s shot-by-shot interactive graphic of a 76ers v. Orlando Magic game, The Indianapolis Star’s interactive recreation of the Indy 500 or The San Diego Union-Tribune’s online tour of last year’s US Open at Torrey Pines South which also includes a flyover of the course.

2. Map it

Sports games are great candidates for mapping because they can happen anywhere in the world or, in the case of the New York Times’ 21 Stages of the Tour de France, all over the country. An equally interesting map was created by The Charleston Gazette for the Charleston Distance Run and the basketball court maps from and Courts of the World are worth checking out.

Be sure to also take a look at the map of NBA, NFL and MLB stadiums created for a previous post on sports arenas.

3. Blog it

For every sport that exists there are at least 100 blogs dedicated it. Many mainstream media outlets, including ESPN, the Telegraph (UK), and the Star Tribune have not one but several blogs dedicated to a variety of teams.

4. Make a database

With all the stats to account for, many sports lend themselves to databases that contain useful information, like the Washington Post’s NCAA Tournament database. Great databases aren’t limited to scores either: The Indianapolis Star has an online record of Peyton Manning’s career passes and Lost Lettermen, pictured below, has wiki-based updates of favorite college basketball and football players.

5. Make it social

No one knows more about a sport than its fans, so providing a destination where fans can talk amongst themselves and create their own content is the epitome of Web 2.0 thinking. Sites like FanDome, Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation let users post video, chat on message boards and write sports reports themselves.

6. Tweet it

Third-party sites like Twackle and SportyTweets, as well as traditional news media like Newsday use Twitter to share the latest sports updates (in 140 characters or less, of course). Or, to up the ante, take a cue from the New York Times’ map of Twitter chatter during the 2009 Super Bowl.

7. Make it mobile

For the sports fan on the go there a number of different ways to stay up to date using a mobile phone. created a mobile-friendly guide to the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs and CBS Sports is available in its entirety by mobile phone. There are what seems to be an endless amount of sports-related iPhone apps, including Sportacular and At Bat, which is also available for the BlackBerry.

8. Podcast it

There’s nothing sports fans love more than talking about sports. Give the sports talk show an online overhaul by creating dedicated podcasts produced by those who love the game. Check out the Guardian’s football (soccer) podcast or the KCRW’S The Score for inspiration.

9. Widgetize it

A part of new media thinking is knowing that readers don’t necessarily want to have to visit your site to read the latest news. The same goes for sports news. Online news sites like CBS News, USA Today, and the Telegraph have produced widgets that contain the latest scores, news and even video, all of which can be posted across the web.


10. Let the fans decide

There are a million sports stories floating around the web, so how does one decide which are reading? BallHype takes a Digg-like approach to sports news by letting fans vote on the stories are worth reading. Best of all the top stories can be filtered by sport.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Sports arenas: How to put a multimedia twist on traditional coverage
How to tackle the online sports section
Sports fans are the new citizen journalists
6 Newspaper sections rendered obsolete by the web

Where the magic happens: Interactive and virtual newsroom tours

The average reader or viewer will never see the inside of a newsroom and sadly will never experience the electricity of reporters and editors working together to gather the day’s news. Newsrooms have long been shrouded in a veil of secrecy, so why should they bother letting outsiders in on the experience?

Imagine having a friend with whom you talked every day, but knew nothing about where they lived or never visited their home. Newsrooms are a lot like that, but they don’t have to be. Journalists can use the multimedia tools they use to bring stories to life to cover themselves. The following virtual tours combine photos, audio, video and/or slideshows to give users insight on the institutions and journalists who represent their interests.

The Sky News Virtual Newsroom combines three-dimensional animated recreations of various news departments with interviews of the people who work there. The overall effect shows just how complicated newsrooms can be, but also how many people it takes to create the news.

Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore is your virtual tour guide to the “studio of the future,” a Flash-based digital recreation of the channel’s impressive studio. The hovering ghost-like orbs are clickable markers that describe some of the set’s features, including several high-definition televisions and monitors and other hidden quirks.

In 2007, The New York Times used video and 360° interactive panoramas to create an interactive tour of its Manhattan tower. The multimedia piece also features audio from architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff.

If you’re looking to recreate the panoramas seen in the project, check out this previous post on the tools used to create them.

A virtual tour doesn’t have to be flashy; it could be as simple as a series of panoramic photos, like those of the New York Times newsroom posted by Flickr user imajes. The now online-only Christian Science Monitor used a relatively simple, interactive Flash graphic to illustrate the day-to-day operations of the newsroom.

Talk shows have long been the forerunners of making interactive set tours available online and there are a few that are taking the idea to the next level. The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien posted a time-lapse video of its set construction and The Rachael Ray Show, using the interactive video technology from Klickable, has created a video walkthrough of the set in which users can click various items and find out more about them, as illustrated in the screengrab below.

The overall effect of the virtual tour is to give the user an inside look out how journalism is created and take some of the mystery away from the newsgathering process. The internet is all about creating a spirit of openness and an online tour is a great way to open the newsroom doors to the public.

Also on 10,000 Words:

4 Organizations more tech-savvy than your newsroom
Beyond Twitterfeed: Innovative uses of Twitter in the newsroom
Why newsroom meetings should be made public
4 Sites for viewing panoramas (and 3 ways to create them)
Essential resources for panoramic photography

A quick guide to interactive YouTube videos

YouTube videos have come a long way since Evolution of Dance. Instead of just staring at the computer screen, a new crop of videos are encouraging users to interact with them by clicking on links embedded within the video. Interactive YouTube videos are being used to create games and quizzes and their use is only limited to the imagination of their creators.

First some examples of the videos, then on how to how they are created. Viewing each video on the YouTube site itself is highly recommended.

Barack, Paper, Scissors

Bboy Joker

2009 Oscars Interactive Picture Photo Hunt!

Super Mario Slots

Interactive Card Trick

YouTube Interactive Spelling Bee

Interactive YouTube videos function a lot like Choose Your Own Adventure books wherein the action comes to a crossroads and the viewer is left to make a choice to determine how the story continues.

The combined effect is a seemingly infinite number of choices, but for interactive YouTube videos it is in fact very finite: a separate video has to be created for each choice (Barack, Paper, Scissors has at least 140 different videos and thus at least 140 different outcomes).

The interactivity is created by overlaying annotations on top of the video. Annotations were previously used solely as captions or speech balloons leading viewer to another site for more information related to the video. Now they are transforming YouTube from a static video player to a tool for engaging the audience. Check out YouTube’s help section for more information on how to create annotations.

The uses of interactive videos by mainstream news organizations remain to be seen, but the technology is absolutely worth exploring. The most obvious use would be to create news games, but lets hear from you: how would you use interactive YouTube video? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Online news games are fun (and informative!)
Newspapers on YouTube: Dos and Don’ts
8 Interactive online projects that educate and captivate
Exploring the human body with Flash and video
Where to find the best in Flash journalism