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Archives: July 2008

9 Tips for recording audio for the web

1. Use the correct microphone (ex: cardioid, omnidirectional, unidirectional).

2. Take notes for reference to ensure quicker editing.

3. Don’t talk over your subject.

4. Use headphones!

5. Expensive doesn’t always mean best when it comes to recorders.

6. Leave the noisy jewelry at home.

7. Hold the mic 6 inches from the speaker.

8. Wind is your enemy.

9. Garage Band and Audacity are your friends. Your free friends.

Text is the foundation of journalism

This post is one in a series covering the multimedia sessions at the 2008 UNITY Journalists conference


When speaking of multimedia journalism, many people reference video, audio, photo, Flash, and any other number of new age instruments for telling a story. But text is sometimes an afterthought. At a session on multimedia storytelling, I came to a sudden realization that as much emphasis as we put on the more visually stunning technology, good text will always be the foundation of any website, news or otherwise.

Text is what pulls in search engines and, in turn, visitors. If they don’t like what they are reading, whether it be a story, blog post, or caption, they won’t return. Be sure to check your text!

The Golden Rule: Thou shalt link


The rest of the web knows how to link: if you get information from another site, common courtesy indicates you should link back to the original source.

But many online journalists haven’t quite adopted that reasoning. There is still a prevailing theory among many journalists that the blogs we ransack for leads or story ideas are not actual news sources and do not merit attribution. Add to that a resistance to linking to any outside site for fear that visitors will be led away from the page and the result is a slew of professional journalists who are linkphobic.

Back in February, Robert Niles wrote a helpful primer on how, and where, to hyperlink a news story. Clearly, some people never read it. Recently, there has been an outcry from bloggers who are seeing mainstream publications source their original content without attribution.

The SEO Company
has an informative table that shows which online media powerhouses are linking to sites outside of their own. Interestingly, many sites only link in their blog posts and not in their main stories. SEO makes a good point about linking out:

We believe that linking to useful websites doesn’t “leak” traffic – quite the opposite in fact. Offering useful links actually makes visitors more likely to return to see what other interesting websites they might find in the future[...] Mainstream media websites are, with the exception of the BBC, business entities with shareholders and an obligation to maximise profits. It’s understandable that they are reluctant to send valuable page views elsewhere.

Here is the cardinal rule of internet journalism: A link should be added to any story if the information is based on that from another site, even if it is from a blog. Anything else is plagiarism and just wrong.

Web journalists should also link to sites that readers may find useful. For example, if a theatrical production is being reviewed, a link to purchasing tickets may be helpful. Or if a Crime Stoppers-like organization has more detailed information on a crime suspect, provide a link for readers to follow.

Hyperlinking can be a form of journalism itself. Two excellent blogs, Journerdism and shiner.clay, both provide collections of links to stories that may be interesting to readers.

To those who are still apprehensive about the whole linking thing, do not be afraid that readers will leave your site. If you continue to provide, well-written, one-of-a-kind content, readers will keep coming back.

The tools I actually use

Here at 10,000 Words, I discuss a lot of online tools and their journalistic applications. But what tools do I actually use? The long list begins here:

Online tools

Zamzar

Sometimes I’m stuck with an audio or video file that isn’t in the format that I need. A quick conversion through Zamzar and I’m ready to go. Also great for converting YouTube videos to MP3s.

Google Reader

At last count I subscribe to 75 blogs, ranging from journalism and technology to entertainment and hometown news. Google Reader helps he keep them all organized and it’s star feature helps me save longer posts for later.

Google Docs

I use the online documents to organize blog posts and future story ideas. Accessible from any internet-connected computer.

del.icio.us

Before a potential blog item or link is added to Google Docs it is organized through del.icio.us. Also used for great examples of design and various personal items.

FM Atlas/Map Builder

My two tools for creating Google Maps like this one here. The former I use for speed, the latter for versatility.

iStockPhoto

Most of the glamorous clip art seen on 10,000 Words comes from iStockPhoto. It can get a little pricey, but I know I can always find exactly what I need. I also use the site when I need to cut corners for a deadline project.

definr

Quick dictionary tool.

Flickr

My use of Flickr Is twofold: to upload personal and family photos and to search for Creative Commons photos for use on 10,000 words or elsewhere.

Photobucket

Most of the images and photos you see on 10,000 Words are hosted here.

cl1p.net

Copy and paste tool previously discussed here.

Software

FastStone Screen Capture

The simplest screen capture tool I’ve ever used and, besides Notepad, the program I use most frequently.

Final Cut Pro

The best video editing software money can buy. I can still haven’t mastered half the things FCP is capable of.

Adobe Audition

Screw Audacity. I’d rather pay a little extra for an audio editing program that won’t give me a headache.

Photoshop

Whether it’s designing stories for Entertainment Weekly, or touching up personal photos, this is my go to program.

Andrea Mosaic

To create mosaics like the ones seen here and here, I simply put the photos I want into a folder and Andrea does the rest.

Image Video Machine

The software extracts still images from video and is useful in creating montages or screenshots for work-related projects.

Internetcalls

My VoIP of choice, particularly because of the 300 free minutes a week for local calls.

Flash

An important tool in the multimedia journalist’s arsenal

Dreamweaver

See above.

Social Networks

Wired Journalists

The site reminds me that I am not the only multimedia journalist in the world and that there are others struggling with the same issues I am.

Visual Editors

Just joined at the behest of all-star journalist Martina Stewart. Looks good so far.

LinkedIn

Helps me stay in touch with coworkers and other journalists. I will even write a recommendation once in awhile.

Facebook

It’s my virtual yearbook and a way to stay in contact with friends.

MySpace

Somewhere out there my MySpace still exists. I rarely check it though and the only reason I haven’t closed it down is because I once had a potential employer contact me through the site.

Technorati

Besides Google Analytics, this is the way I find out who is linking to 10,000 Words and in the process, I discover some great blogs.

StumbleUpon

Quite simply the best tool for discovering content I didn’t know I needed.

Twitter

I am using a Twitter in conjunction with 10,000 Words from now until July 27, the close of the UNITY conference. Because I spend so much of my time online, I know that I could fall prey to Twittering every detail of my life, something I’m not ready to commit to.

Miscellaneous

Phone My Phone

I lose my phone a lot. I mean way more than the average person. Phone My Phone helps me locate it in even the deepest crevices.

Naked Alarm Clock

When I just want to fall asleep at my desk or remind myself to step away from the computer, I use the Naked Alarm Clock. Its loud alarm clock works every time.

Jango Radio

I use to listen to music on Pandora while I was at work, but I now appreciate the fewer restrictions I find at Jango.

I’m sure I have a missed quite a few, but I will edit this post as I remember.

Exploring the human body with Flash and video

Scientists have made amazing discoveries about the human body over the years, but because journalists and scientists speak two different languages, trying to explain those discoveries can be difficult. What better way to explain the complex processes of the body than through new media?

Specialized Bicycle Components has put together an amazing interactive Flash animation to demonstrate how bicycles, and more specifically the company’s products, interact with the human body. The centerpiece of the project is a figure stripped down to blood, bone and sinew that mimics the different movements of a bicycle rider. Users can toggle between a number of bike moves, including the spin and the hammer, and simultaneously isolate several systems in the body, including the nervous and circulatory systems.

The next presentation isn’t for the faint of heart (pun intended). Hybrid Medical Animation, in order to present the viewer with a clearer understanding of the beating heart, has created the Hybrid Interactive Heart. Users can toggle between the opaque tissue of the organ and a “glass” version that shows the inner workings of the heart. The result is absolutely mind-blowing and somewhat hypnotic. A similar video animation shows the beating heart with blood flow.

As part of its “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibit, the Museum of Modern Art hosts a project entitled The Inner Life of the Cell. According to the creators “We follow a macrophage as it patrols the wall of a capillary and encounters a chemical signal from a capillary cell indicating that an inflammatory event has occurred in surrounding tissue.” In layman’s terms, it is a visually stunning video that shows with scientific accuracy what’s going on beneath the skin.

(Note: The next site is admittedly a little morbid but is safe to view at work.)

Interactive Autopsy, as it’s name suggests, allows visitors to go through the steps of performing an autopsy, including removing and weighing the internal organs and cutting and stitching the body. In the middle of the interactive is a brief video of a forensic pathologist who discusses the removal of the brain. At the end of the project is a link to read more about the instruments used in autopsy that, honestly, rival those used in any Hollywood horror movie.

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