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Archives: April 2012

Before You Sign That Book Contract

It’s finally happened: Your journalism and technology savvy have led to a print book deal. But before you jump to sign that contract, take a moment to read it thoroughly. Bets are, it won’t have your best interest at heart; hidden in the fine print are some common clauses that might kill your future prospects. For example:

The exclusivity clause. This clause states that you could not do any writing related to your book. That’s insane, especially for writers who work in the areas they write about.

“Writers have to make a living, and only rarely does a book contract offer enough money for a writer to meet living expenses without taking on other work,” said Meg Schnieder, an Iowa-based author of 12 books, including The Everything Guide to Writing a Book Proposal.

Find other potential deal breakers and steps to renegotiation in The 7 Biggest Red Flags in Book Contracts.

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The Data Journalism Handbook: The Next Newsroom Staple?

Move over, the AP Stylebook. A new handbook is in town and there’s a good chance it will become a newsroom must-have.

The Data Journalism Handbook launched this past weekend at the School of Data Journalism, based at the 2012 International Journalism Festival in Perugia. It is a one stop shop for reporters interested in learning about data journalism and includes a free, open sourced web version so anyone can access it.

“The book’s contributors are a who’s who of data journalism,” wrote Simon Rogers, a contributor to the handbook, in a post on the Guardian’s Datablog. “There are pieces by data journalists from the BBC, the Chicago Tribune, the Financial Times, Propublica and the New York Times. And that’s besides contributions from three of us at the Guardian.” Read more

Social Media Roundup: The Future of Social, Forum Strategy and More

Every Friday I post links to a few of the blog posts that I read during the week that I found interesting and insightful.

Included in this week’s round-up is discussion about the shift to the concept of social business; 12 thoughts about the future of social media; the pros and cons of having a strategy for forums; and remaining optimistic about ROI.

Read more

Investigating Power: 51 HD Videos, Timelines Show How Journalists Have Saved Democracy

A new project out of American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, called Investigating Power, is touting itself as the first comprehensive visual history of America’s most significant reporting of the last 50 years.

The website features a rich collection of video interviews with journalists like Christiane Amanpour, Bob Woodward,  Carl Bernstein,  Ben Bradlee,  Bill Kovach and many more. You can filter down to timelines by “Moments of Truth” — McCarthyism, civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, Corporate Power and Post-9/11.

According to the Investigating Power website, the number of entries for the Pulitzer Prize in the Gold Medal public service category dropped 43 percent from 1985 to 2010. In roughly the same timeframe, the number of public relations specialists doubled.  Thus, it’s a critical time to reflect on the powerful journalism that has created change:

At this critical juncture in the history of American journalism, as the news media and the nature and extent of original reporting itself undergo a very difficult transformation, we must reflect on the inherent, incalculable value of original, independent reporting in our nation and in the world. Facts are and must be the coin of the realm in a democracy, for government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” to quote President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, requires and assumes to some extent an informed citizenry.
Investigating Power

They plan to grow the collection over the next decade. Explore the full project here.

Jack This Site: NewsJack Lets Regular Users Remix Websites

Ever thought you could come up with better headlines, photos or layouts for a website? Now you can prove it with a fun new tool: NewsJack.

The super easy to use tool lets users customize everything from the formatting, to the links, to the text, to the photo, to well, everything — on any website. Give HuffPo the conservative slant you always dreamed of, or endorse Obama on the Fox News site. I resisted the urge to plaster the New York Times homepage with LOL Cats. But In this quick silly mock-up, I did slip in a photo of my dog reading the local sports page.

I took a screen grab, but you can also publish your piece for the world to view your revisions. Of course, you could use this for serious purposes, such as mocking up your own page to see how a change would look. But it’s also completely fun to play with headlines and placement on other sites. The real beauty is in the ease of use. In about 10 minutes you can completely redesign your favorite (or least favorite) sites.

Of course, this tool will forever make me even more skeptical of rogue headlines allegedly screen grabbed on any news site.

According to the site, NewsJack is a project of MIT’s Center for Civic Media. You can follow the creators on Twitter @news_jk. And share your creations with us, @10000words.

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