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Archives: February 2010

Spice up food journalism with multimedia and interactivity

As newspapers and magazines shrink and the resources of television and radio stations dwindle, food journalism is often the first section to get the boot. The web, however, presents a unique opportunity to explore food, recipes, and cooking in new and captivating ways.

For example, this past Thanksgiving, The New York Times served up one of its signature interactive projects that visualized what people are eating. The map illustrates what classic holiday dishes are most popular in various sections of the U.S. The Times Online tracked what Britain eats in an interactive infographic that measures the popularity of certain foods over time.

To track the location of local farmers markets, The Washington Post created an interactive online map that readers can use to track local food and produce. If you prefer your vegetables on a burger or burrito, you can also use fastfoodmap.com — an interactive map of the locations of McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and more — to satisfy your food cravings.

CHOW.com, a site for recipes and other food-related resources, also has a mix of food-related video that teach users to make food and other stuff. In just a few minutes, you can learn to how to fold a wonton, how to prevent an avocado from browning, and how to clean a cast iron pan.

Food journalism and especially recipe guides are ripe for slideshows. BBC News paired photos and audio to explore the wild, yet edible foods found in the British countryside. The Times-Picayune whipped up “12 Dishes Under $12″ a video guide to great dishes from local restaurants. DNAinfo.com, the newly launched hyperlocal site covering the NYC borough of Manhattan, recently presented an interactive slideshow of dishes available during the city’s restaurant week.

Food journalism, as with all news subjects, can be invigorated with a little bit of multimedia and a lot of creativity, which in the end makes the topic more interesting for readers and viewers.


Also on 10,000 Words

5 Creative uses of Flash and interactive storytelling
Exploring the human body with Flash and video
10 Inspirational New York Times multimedia and interactive features

Mediabistro Course

Nonfiction Book Proposal

Nonfiction Book ProposalStarting September 4,work with a literary agent to complete a full proposal that wins an agent and a contract! Ryan Harbage from The Fischer-Harbage Agency, Inc. will teach you how to convey your idea in a winning book proposal format, write your proposal letter, understand the nuts and bolts of the nonfiction book industry, and more. Register now! 

Panoramic photos and video and how to create them

For some time now, newsrooms have taken advantage of web technology to add interactivity to panoramic photos. Interactive panoramas can display a larger image in a smaller amount of space. As panoramic technology becomes more advanced, some news media are pairing 360° panoramas with video to create an immersive experience.

Notably, CNN used interactive video panoramas to illustrate the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti. As the car moves along the street in the embedded video below, online viewers can click and drag the image to change the angle of the camera.

Immersive Media has even more video panoramas from Haiti, including interactive views of damaged streets and crumbling buildings.

The interactive video panorama below was created by Yellowbird, a Netherlands-based company that specializes in interactive 3D technology. BBC News (via) has a detailed explanation of video panoramas, including the special cameras used to create it.

Panoramic photography isn’t limited to video. Interactive photo panoramas have become a popular tool among news media and photographers and don’t require tons of money or complex equipment to create.

For example, The New York Times also created a panoramic view of Haiti by stitching together various photographs and importing them into Flash to create one long interactive panoramic image of Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines. The unique effect pairs the impact of still photos with the sense of space communicated by panoramas.

There are many more interesting interactive panoramas on the web. Panoramas can be used to illustrate a variety of news stories such as this interactive image of a crowd gathered to see U.S. President Barack Obama speak in Berlin or this interactive image of Times Square on New Year’s Eve. This 360° view of Prague, billed as the world’s largest spherical panoramic photo, is hosted by 360cities.net which contains many other captivating panoramas.

While video panoramas are relatively new and require specialized equipment, photo panoramas can be created with just a few tools and a little bit of ingenuity. Check out this previous post for tips on creating interactive panoramas, including how to shoot them with your iPhone.


Also on 10,000 Words

Essential resources for panoramic photography
12 Creative uses of time-lapse photography (and 4 ways to create it)
Composite photography: A new twist to an old medium
21 Free online photo editing tools

The Digital Journalist's Handbook: ON SALE NOW

It is with great pride and pleasure that I announce the release of The Digital Journalist’s Handbook, a unique guide to the tools journalists need to know to thrive in today’s digital newsroom.

Online technology and digital journalism changes every day, but the technologies featured in The Handbook are the core tools and storytelling techniques journalists should be familiar with, including blogging, audio, video, Flash, audio slideshows, social networks, and more. The Digital Journalist’s Handbook not only explains what each of the tools are and how they are used in journalism, but also provides step-by-step guides to producing digital journalism stories and content using the tools.

You don’t have to be tech-savvy to understand everything covered in The Handbook. Each topic is explained in a simple and easy to follow way and includes illustrations and diagrams of everything from the layout of a typical audio slideshow to the difference between USB and FireWire cables. The book also includes a glossary with definitions of more than 130 terms and phrases commonly used by digital journalists. Best of all, The Handbook includes links to online tutorials, resources, and examples, so readers can explore each topic further.

The book is for both novice digital journalists and seasoned professionals looking to enhance their skills and their reporting. No matter your level of proficiency in digital journalism, you will undoubtedly learn something new after reading The Handbook.

The Digital Journalist’s Handbook is on sale now and I absolutely encourage you to purchase a copy for yourself and for the aspiring and veteran journalists in your life. I guarantee that you will be happy that you did.

Happy V-Day: Valentines for Journalists (Part II)

Let the journalist in your life know you care with these Valentine’s Day cards. Right click the images to download and feel free to share or send to your valentine. Check out last year’s valentines here.

Thanks to Jana G. Pruden from creating the text for many of the valentines. You can find even more valentines for journalists here.

Why newsroom diversity matters

A recent article about the lack of diversity in Vanity Fair’s “New Hollywood” issue has received more than 18,000 comments and counting from readers who either lament the lack of women of color on the cover or charge that diversity is a moot issue. Whether or not Vanity Fair should have presented a more diverse group of actresses on its cover, the discussion brings up an important question: How diverse are today’s newsrooms?

During the 90′s and the early 2000′s, there was a widespread effort from many media publications to diversify their staff. In theory, a more diverse staff translates to diverse points of view and a more eclectic group of stories and coverage. For many newsrooms, this push toward diversity eventually gave way to a focus on integrating technology in the newsroom and ultimately to retaining what staff they could due to financial and budgetary concerns. However, a lack of resources does not mean newsrooms shouldn’t make an effort to make sure their staff represents the varying interests of their readers.

Journalism — and life itself — would be boring if everyone was interested in the same things. There’s already somewhat of a homogenization of ideas in journalism. If you are a journalist, you are expected to read The New Yorker and be well-versed in every episode of “The Wire.” You should have read “All the President’s Men” and be intimately familiar with the work of Hunter S. Thompson. The same societal norms extend to the tech world — if you have a computer it should be a Mac, if you have email it should be GMail, and if you have a phone it should be an iPhone or Blackberry.

However, if every reporter or editor has the same interests and thinks alike, the newsroom will unknowingly and collectively produce the same stories and target the same audience, leaving other sections of the readership or viewership underserved and underrepresented.

In theory, a diversity of opinions at Vanity Fair may have translated to a more diverse group of actresses on the magazine’s cover. The issue, however, is not unique to Vanity Fair. Many newsrooms are guilty of overlooking stories or news subjects simply because they aren’t on their radar, not because they intentionally omit these subjects.

Newsrooms should represent the communities they cover and a diverse staff with varying interests and ideas translates into a broader spectrum of stories. This, in turn, better serves the audience. Diversity doesn’t just mean race or gender either, but a variety of factors, including age, socioeconomic background, and more. Diversity for diversity’s sake is wrong and misguided, but diversity in the name of producing better journalism should be applauded and a goal of every newsroom.

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