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Archives: October 2010

5 Twitter tips for using conference hashtags like #ONA10

by Kevin Loker

If you’re a journalist and/or web and tech enthusiast (which I’m guessing you are) and follow people similar to yourself on Twitter (which I’m guessing you do), your feed is about to get slammed with #ONA10 tweets.

Conference hashtags can be a a blessing or a curse. Tweets containing them can be helpful — if you can find the good ones — or a time suck, if you get lost in a sea of them. Whether you plan to follow the conversation from a mobile device at the conference or from the comfort of your home (or workplace), here are some helpful tips to think about before the start of any conference, when things get all sorts of 140-character crazy.

1. Save a smart search

The easiest way to follow conversation surrounding a conference is to save a search of the agreed-upon hashtag. In the case of the Online News Association’s 2010 Conference, that hashtag is #ONA10. Save one of these as a main feed, but realize not everyone will use it. This can be for a variety of reasons, from forgetting to tag one to saving a few extra characters to squeeze a bit more content. You can’t catch everything, but save and combine searches for what you think might show up in someone’s tweet. Depending on what client you’re using for tracking, that may include variations of the tag or just related names or titles.

For this week’s conference, here are some suggestions:

  • Simplify the #ONA10 tag to a search for “ONA10.” On most clients, that will catch #ONA10, @ONA1o and ONA10.
  • Save a separate search for “ONA.” That should also catch #ONA, @ONA, and ONA. (Unfortunately – for the purpose of Twitter tracking – it’ll also catch some other conversation).
  • If you want, do the same for “ONADC” and other chapter acronyms. Consider combining it with general terms like “Online News Association.”

If you’re using a mobile device at a conference, consider HootSuite. The mobile app works well for switching quickly between searches.

2. Use topical hashtags related to specific workshops

Share the love of what you’re tweeting with a wider audience than just your followers. Use major topics and keywords as hashtags to tag content that might be beneficial to people outside the conference, including those who may not know about it. If you’re going to a workshop titled “Real-Time Coverage from Scratch,” consider tagging your tweets with #realtime. If you’re going to one called “Social Media Storytelling,” use simple tags like #socialmedia.

The ONA10 schedule actually suggests some of these for you. For Real-Time Coverage from Scratch, it suggests #rtcoverage. For Social Media Storytelling, it suggests #socialj.

3. Reply with context

Another way to help share what you’re learning at the conference is to add a bit of context to your tweet. Remember, searches on Twitter work in realtime — anyone can pop in at any time and start reading what you’re sending out. If you want people to get the most out of your content, sometimes it helps to clarify what you’re talking about. This is important to keep in mind for your topical tagging, but also for anything at the conference itself.

For instance, if I’m answering a question that my colleague @ethanklapper posed in a recent tweet, I may add what I’m talking about at the end of my message. If he asks which room the panel on The New Investigative Journalism Ecosystem is going to be, I can respond with “@ethanklapper The auditorium. Starts in 5 min. re: new investigative journalism panel, #ONA10.” That information may be useful to someone else. Can they figure it out with the clarifier? Yes. But this eliminates some clicking and keeps it a bit more open.

4. Reply with contextual links

An even better way to interact about the conference on Twitter is to use contextual links. If someone on the Wikileaks panel mentions a piece of information that you know you recently read an article about, consider doing a quick search and adding a link to it at the end of your tweet about what they’re saying. If someone’s looking for a nearby bar for a post-conference drink and you happen to know one, consider replying not just with the name of the bar, but the Google directions too.

Contextual links are also good if you’re trying to push people to your livestream of a particular panel. Again, remember — Twitter works in real-time. You could have the best livestream out there and be tweeting some great quotes, but people may miss the link if they come onto a feed ten minutes and five tweets after you posted it. If you want people to visit your livestream, be sure the majority of your tweets contain content, context and a clickable link.

5. Make a list

Following hashtags and keywords at a conference has a downside — in addition to people who abuse it for personal tweets, you often run into a sea of retweets. A nice way around this is to make a list of Twitter users you respect and notice contributing to the conference experience. I’ve started my own list for ONA10 which you can follow here.

In case you don’t want to follow the whole thing, here’s a healthy list of top-notch, tweeting attendees to follow: @ckanal, @greglinch, @webjournalist, @AssignmentDesk1, @journerdism,
@Alex20001, @markbriggs, @stevebuttry, @annatauzin, @sskalko and @coryhaik.

And some ONA accounts: @WPLauraCochran, @MacDivaONA, @vaguity, @tiffanyshack, @aeisman and @hatchjt.

And to round it off, attending members of the 10000words team: @laurenmichell, @ethanklapper, @kevinloker, and the blog’s founder, @marksluckie.


UPDATE: A reader shared with us another way to eliminate some of those retweets and make your stream a bit cleaner. If you use Tweetdeck, you can filter out terms like “RT” and “via.” There’s a chance you’ll miss good tweets with comments outside the shares and retweets if you do this, but if you really want to tidy up your feed, it may be worth looking into.

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Common copyright mistakes that can still get you sued

by Mark S. Luckie

The internet makes it incredibly easy to save a photo from a website, copy and paste text, and download and re-upload video and audio…a little too easy perhaps. The desire to instantly share content on the web means some web users are ripping others off, violating copyright laws, and possibly opening themselves up to legal action. The common mistakes below specifically pertain to U.S. laws, as copyright laws vary from country to country. However, the following points also act as moral guidelines to using content online.

“This image is on the internet, so it’s cool if I copy and use it.”

The number one mistake a lot of web users make is downloading an image from the web and using it on their own sites or blogs (see this example). Often, the image or photo is property of a photographer and they don’t take kindly to their work being used without permission. If you find a great image, try to locate the photographer and ask if you can use it. If you can’t find them, it still doesn’t mean you can use it freely.

“If it’s old, I can use it.”

Some works like DaVinci’s Mona Lisa and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 were created so long ago, they aren’t subject to modern copyright laws. However, just because a work is old doesn’t mean it isn’t protected by copyright laws. Also, the content you’re eying may be a derivative work that is itself copyrighted. For example, Beethoven’s 5th isn’t copyrighted, but the London Symphony Orchestra’s performance of that work is.

“If I say I’m not violating copyright laws, it’s cool.”

One of the most common phrases found on YouTube is “No copyright intended” and it appears in the description of millions of YouTube videos. Essentially members are posting copyrighted content and saying they don’t intend to violate copyright laws. The effect is similar to punching someone in the face and saying you don’t mean to hurt them. Including the phrase alongside the pilfered content won’t stop YouTube or any other site from sending a take-down notice.

“I’m not making money off of it.”

Whether you’re making money from using someone else’s content isn’t the issue. If you copy and use something created by another person you may be violating their rights to their work. Think of it this way: if you borrow someone else’s stapler, but don’t charge other people for collating their documents, that person is still going to ticked off that you used their stapler.

“If I just use a 30 second clip…”

There is no magical number or length that can prevent you from infringing on a copyrighted work. According to U.S. “fair use” laws, the total length of the work is only one factor in determining fair use. Other factors include the nature of its use and whether it diminishes the market for the original work.

“If I just use a few words or paragraphs…”

If the Associated Press debacle last year in which the AP planned to charge bloggers per word is any indication, using even the smallest amount of content could place you in deep legal trouble. Adding a link or attribution may not save you, especially if you copy entire stories and place them on your own site. As noted in the above paragraph, U.S. fair use laws consider the quantity of the work so be judicious about copying other people’s content.

The moral of this is post is that the internet may seem on the surface like a content free-for-all, but in many cases it is important to check with the content creator before using something for your own purposes.

Alternatively, you can use Creative Commons-licensed content (check the type of license before using the content, as there are several) or use pay sites like iStockPhoto, which houses multimedia content such as photos, video, and audio. Also, check out this previous post on ways to save money on your next multimedia project.

Upcoming: The 2010 Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar

by Chris Dunn

Like others in the industry, photojournalists love the opportunity to meet, compete, learn from each other and work together on projects. I will highlight these opportunities in brief posts as deadlines and dates for various photojournalism workshops and competitions approach.

My Twitter feed is quickly filling up with #ONA10 tweets. This can mean only one thing: Professional and student digital journalists will be swarming Washington, D.C., this weekend for the 2010 Online News Association Conference.

There are several visually-minded sessions, but most revolve around technology, trends and innovations. So what’s a photojournalist to do when the urge to discuss lighting techniques hits? Or wants to compare remote camera set-ups? Or needs to know how to turn multimedia into a money-making business?

Coming up soon for all you photojournalists: The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar.

The 38th annual Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar will be held Dec. 3-4 in — you guessed it — Atlanta, Ga. The seminar includes its annual photo competition as well as workshops.

The last day to enter photos in the competition (at a cost of $45 USD) is Nov. 24, so start reviewing your photos and the contest rules now! To be eligible, photos must have been taken between Nov. 8, 2009, and Nov. 7, 2010, with exceptions for picture story entries. The open elimination rounds of the contest will take place on Thursday, Dec. 2, and the final rounds will take place the next day.

Early registration for the seminar itself ends Nov. 6. Fees range from $40 to $115 USD.

(Disclosure: As an intern at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this summer, I worked directly with three members of the seminar’s volunteer board. None of them has suggested or asked me to highlight the seminar as an upcoming photojournalism event.)

Five ways journalists can use QR Codes

by Lauren M. Rabaino

Today there has been a lot of buzz on Twitter about Amy Webb’s Ultimate QR Code Game that will be ongoing during the Online News Association Conference, which got me thinking about how else journalists can use QR Codes.

So maybe we should back up a second — QR (Quick Response) codes, according to Wikipedia:

A matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

A simpler explanation from WebbMedia’s QR Tipsheet:

Two-dimensional barcodes can be encoded with various data (phone numbers, text, photos, URLs, etc.) and “scanned” using the camera on a mobile phone. Think of them as print hyperlinks.

So anyone with a smart phone at ONA10 can extract data from these codes placed around the conference and win prizes. That’s all fun and dandy, but beyond games and prizes, how can journalists take it a step further to share information and tell stories? These are a few of my ideas.

1. Location-relevant information

A lot of news organizations (The Wall Street Journal, for example) are using Foursquare as a way of conveying location-based information. It’s simple. Check in somewhere, get tips via Foursquare. QR codes can serve the same purpose if placed on or near popular structures, monuments, works of art, etc. — kind of like Easter eggs within communities. The QR Code model would work a little differently, though. Instead of checking in and getting information delivered to you, you would seek out information based on a particular spot or item.

What if scanning a QR Code at the airport launched a site on your phone that gave you realtime, curated tweets, blog posts and news coverage on what’s going on at your airport? What if scanning a QR code at the courthouse gave you a news org’s curated coverage of latest issues at the courthouse?

2. On your business card.

Sure, you’ve heard this one before and probably even seen it in action. But as a journalist interacting with people in your community on a regular basis, being open and transparent with readers about how to get ahold of you is vital. By allowing them to scan a QR code in, you can make yourself more conveniently accessible to your readers.

3. City-guided tours

This one is especially relevant in tourist-heavy cities or to publications on college campuses. When I was in Boston in July, I played the Boston Globe Trek through SCVNGR which allowed me to scan QR Codes on various newsstands throughout the city to get information about that location. As a first-time visitor to the city, I was able to hit popular spots and complete tasks to win points using nothing but my iPhone.

My criticism of the hunt was that it wasn’t particular useful for helping me learn about the city (although, because I’m a geek, it was still fun). If a news organization used SCVNGR or a self-created app to host their own tours of the city with interesting, engaging information, there’s also a potential underlying revenue opportunity whereby partnerships with local businesses can serve as incentivization for completing the tour.

4. Submitting news tips

Imagine putting QR code on every major intersection in your town. Then, people casually walking around who want to submit news tips can scan a QR code, which opens up the email address and phone number on a “Submit News Tip” form. That form is sent directly to the reporter for that beat.

For example, if you’re at your kids’ elementary school, the contact info from the QR code is sent to the education beat reporter. Sports bloggers could put up their own QR codes at local high school football stadiums and community golf courses for users to submit their kids’ scores and photos to the blog. For each submission via QR Code, there could also be a list of recently-submitted tips from that code, so you can see who else was there and what they cared about.

5. Information-oriented scavenger hunts.

Much like the city-guided tours, this one isn’t new either. In fact, I’ve seen this as the biggest use case for QR Codes at conferences and tech events, but not in the context of storytelling. So let’s add the context of storytelling: Imagine if you could create an educational, interactive experience for your readers by taking them through a timeline of a historical event in their community? Participants could guess answers to questions and be lead to the next spot, where they would learn a new fact before heading to the next location. Those who complete the scavenger hunt could be featured in a community section on the website or get a prize from a local business (another potential revenue opportunity).

Resources for gettin’ it done

SCVNGR: “A game about doing challenges at places.” The Boston Globe Trek referenced earlier in this post used this app for their city tour challenge.

Kaywa: A QR Code generator that allows you to associate a URL, text, phone number or SMS message with your code.

WebbMedia’s QR Code Tipsheet: What’s a QR code? WebbMedia explains all.

QR Reader apps:

There are use cases for both big metro papers, small community papers and niche bloggers. The drawback here, of course, is that this might be too high-tech for a lot of readers. Not everyone is as geeky as us. But as QR codes become more commonplace, providers of news have a huge ability in leading the way with this cool tool.

Amy Webb’s QR contest at ONA will hopefully get journalists thinking more about potential uses. If you haven’t signed up to play it, do so on the WebbMedia site by scanning one of the barcodes on the top right.

Friday Roundup: TBD uses Storify, Eddie Adams Workshop produces 10 multimedia stories, AARP publishes touching video on Alzheimer's

TBD tells the story of nightclub death with Storify

Last Thursday night, a man was beaten to death outside the Washington, D.C., nightclub DC9. D.C. local news site TBD decided to tell the story in a non-conventional way: by using Storify, a new service that allows users to turn social media into “compelling stories.”

“That seemed like a good tool for it,” said Mandy Jenkins, TBD’s social media producer who curated the DC9 story. “I really wanted a good excuse to use it. It seemed like the perfect project.”

The DC9 story was perfect for Storify because of there were lots of people with information discussing the situation on social networks, Jenkins said.

“There were so many different sources talking about it,” she said. “Everyone had different facts.”

Jenkins sees the tool as useful for reporters, as well as Web producers.

“I think it could be very useful for reporters who are out, live tweeting events, trying to get reaction quotes,” she said.

Jenkins offers up more uses for Storify on her blog, Zombie Journalism.

Ethan Klapper
(Disclosure: Ethan Klapper runs a site that is part of TBD’s Community Network. However, this site was not involved in any of the DC9 reporting.)

Multimedia from Eddie Adams XXIII

Two weekends ago, 100 students (and recent graduates) and 100 professionals swarmed Jeffersonville, N.Y., for an intensive four-day workshop of photography and multimedia. Otherwise known as Barnstorm, the Eddie Adams Workshop was founded 23 years ago by — you guessed it — Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Eddie Adams.

The workshop, which is tuition-free, partners budding visual journalists with experienced photographers, editors and researchers to form 10 themed teams. While nine of a team’s members pursue smaller, independent projects related to their teams’ themes, the remaining team member is assigned to work with a producer and create a multimedia project.

McKenna Ewen, who was one of the multimedia producers this year at Eddie Adams, explains:

To help assemble the story, each student worked with a producer from the multimedia team, a group of multimedia professionals coached by Brian Storm and Rich Beckman.

On the first day, the students and multimedia producers spent about six hours in the field. The teams worked together to produce in-depth, narrative stories that focused the strengths of each medium. The multimedia producers would sort through the raw material, look for any holes in the stories, then send the students back into the field the following day. On the second day, the multimedia producers spent one more late night editing in Final Cut Pro, and the projects were ready to go.

It was inspiring to see the type of narrative stories that students were able to produce in such a limited amount of time. Many of these students arrived at the workshop without a lot of multimedia experience, but they left having produced a collection of impressive multimedia stories.

Take a look at the multimedia produced by this year’s Barnstorm class, recently made available on Vimeo:

– Chris Dunn

What? AARP? Yes, keep reading.

This week’s multimedia piece comes from an unlikely source: AARP. The organization, which has a lifestyle magazine and a news site, does interesting work as producers of original, high-quality content. Based on a series of questions on a recent Spot.Us survey, it would appear that AARP wants to be do a better job of covering issues that are important to their members.

Richard Koci Hernandez (@koci) describes the video best: Simple. Powerful.

Called “Losing Ground,” the video depicts through polaroid photos and audio the challenges one wife faces in caring for her husband Mike, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. It was produced by Brian Dawson, Brad Horn, Matt Slaby of LUCEO Images and Tyler Strickland.

There are so many small details that make this video tug at your heart: The opening audio with Mike and the interviewer’s unedited interaction; the series of photo overlays that coincide with the story being told by Caroline; the sighs and sniffles; the sounds of the church-goers praying.

The one element of this video that I wouldn’t recommend to a traditional media outlet is the instrumental music. The video would have been just as powerful (if not moreso) without it — but hey, it is AARP, after all. They’re allowed to imply editorial bias through music.

But enough of my blabbering. Watch it for yourself and read the text, which is equally as touching:

– Lauren M. Rabaino