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Archives: March 2013

5 Must-Have Chrome Extensions for Journalists

It’s no secret that one of the keys to being a successful journalist these days is mastering the art of combing the Internet. And, a large portion of finding great stuff on the Internet relies on properly and efficiently utilizing clever tools that elevates your online skills from “great” to “practically superhuman.”

Chrome is now the most popular Internet browser, and for plenty of good reason: in addition to having a straightforward search bar and integration with all of Google’s great tools (auto-complete in the browser!), users can customize their web experience with a host of add-ons. These add-ons, called “extensions” by the browser itself, can do amazing things — and boost your reporting abilities to make you more organized, connected, and efficient.

Here are five extensions that are popular for their great utility in any journalist’s arsenal, and they are all absolutely free to download.

What’s your favorite Chrome extension? Let us know in the comments.

OneTab

Reporters everywhere are singing the praises of OneTab because it beautifully solves one of the biggest pain points for online journalists: the agonizing slow-down of a computer once it crosses its maximum threshold for open browser tabs. If you tend to have dozens and dozens of tabs open at any given time, this extension will speed up your computer without losing all of your hard-earned tabs. Read more

Mediabistro Course

Travel Writing

Travel WritingStarting September 23, learn how to turn your travel stories into published essays and articles! Taught by a former Vanity Fair staff writer, James Sturz will teach you how to report, interview, and find sources, discover story ideas and pitch them successfully, and understand what travel editors look for in a story. Register now!

New WikiLeaks Doc We Steal Secrets Examines the ‘Transparency Machine’

The saga of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning presents many questions for digital journalists. We Steal Secrets, a documentary directed by Alex Gibney and set for release  this May, deals with them all. You can watch a trailer here.

You should see the film — even if you think you’ve already heard all you need to know about Wikileaks, even if you’ve already made up your mind. It not only covers the creation of Wikileaks, the fall of Julian Assange as a hacker-god, but includes new interviews with Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and the woman who accused Assange of rape, among many other inside players. However, the most compelling part of the documentary is that it finally puts Bradley Manning in center stage and presents new questions about digital security, sources, and how we protect them.

I used to champion WikiLeaks, and I cringe to admit it, its founder. In a far off graduate school classroom, I even considered the idea that it was a sort of ‘journalistic’ enterprise. But now that Manning has been serving time as an enemy of the state and his trial approaches, I’m finding it hard to focus on anything but him, and the responsibilities publishers assume online, with information and with their sources. Read more

Jane Pratt to Magazine Editors: Kill the ‘Magazine Speak’

Jane PrattAfter founding Sassy and Jane, Jane Pratt launched xojane.com in 2011 so she could speak frankly to female audiences, a voice that she says was sorely missing from print pubs.

“It still amazes me that a lot of women’s magazines in particular will use this magazine speak, this terminology.” Pratt told Mediabistro in the latest installment of So What Do You Do?. “Like, instead of saying ‘your hair,’ they’ll say ‘your mane’ or ‘your tresses.’ And I always feel like if someone says ‘your lackluster tresses’ instead of ‘your dirty hair,’ you feel like they’re not telling you the whole truth. I feel like that makes you as a reader say, ‘Well, if they’re lying to me about that, what else are they lying to me about?’

For more, read So What Do You Do, Jane Pratt, Editor-in-Chief of xojane.com?

Nicholas Braun

ProPublica Asks Reddit: What Should We Cover?

This week, the non-profit investigative journalism group ProPublica decided to take its quest to uncover the untold stories in a different direction on the Internet: Reddit. And here’s the twist, they’re not seeking sources — they’re seeking stories. They’ve opened up a channel, InvestigateThisNews, asking users to tell them what they should be covering.

Now Reddit, which has been around for years, seems to be having a heyday these days. I mean, even the President did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) during the campaign! But for ProPublica, it’s part of their Get Involved strategy, according to senior engagement editor Amanda Zamora. She discussed it in a Q&A over at Niemen Journalism Lab, in which she talks extensively about user engagement and where the Reddit channel fits in. I think she nailed it with this point on why places like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, etc. matter not only as a reporting source but as a story source:

…[W]e still pay attention and use social media to build a general audience for our work. We are using it to get the word out about what we report. But we’re just as concerned at using these tools to help attract people who want to participate in our work. We’re doing a lot of community building.

In other words, if you want to know what the story is, or if there’s a story people in your readership and your community think is uncovered and important, why don’t you ask them. Engage them in the reporting process before there’s a reporting process.
Read more

What Summly’s Acquisition Says About Online Journalism

Yesterday, hot on the heels of its recent spate of acquisitions, Yahoo! picked up an interesting little app started by a 15-year-old kid in his family’s London home. The app, Summly, was rumored to be picked up by the search company for a cool $30 million, and it stands to change the way Yahoo! looks at news generation.

More importantly, Summly has the potential to revolutionize how digital news is ingested, both online and on mobile.

The impetus for Summly came to teenage Nick D’Aloisio when he realized that the physical activity of sorting through and reading his daily online news was just exhausting. Founded in 2011, Summly cut down news articles by distilling their words into simple, 400-character summaries and displaying them on a mobile interface that catered to the user’s specific tastes.

Check out Summly’s concise description, with Stephen Fry, below: Read more

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