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Archives: October 2008

The 20 Essential RSS Feeds for Multimedia Journalists


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Digital Photography School

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Editor & Publisher

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E-Media Tidbits

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Google Maps Mania

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“An aggregation of journalists who blog (mostly) about journalism.”


“All the Journerdism news links and commentary you can handle in your RSS reader.”


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Media Shift

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Mindy McAdams/Teaching Online Journalism

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Online Journalism Blog

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Online Journalism Review

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Smashing Magazine

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Was your favorite feed left out? Share your essential RSS feeds in the comments. And of course, be sure to subscribe to the 10,000 Words RSS feed.

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How film school helped me become a better journalist

For a brief period in 1999, I attended the film/video program at the California State Summer School of the Arts in Valencia, Ca. Since I was a little tyke I always wanted to be a Hollywood filmmaker and — until a life-changing encounter with an astute English professor — I had no intention of being a journalist. But some of the lessons I learned from the experience have stuck with me today and contributed to my success as a writer and as a person. Here are some of the tidbits I learned:

1. A diverse crowd means diverse points of view

Often our wacky troop of 24 aspiring filmmakers would be given a single assignment (i.e. shoot a film that encapsulates happiness) and the result would be 24 very different projects, all of which were compelling, but all of which told a very different story. The same goes for journalism: If you send several different journalists out to cover the same story, the resulting coverage should be very different. If the hypothetical group of journos all return with the same angle, we have not done our job as investigators and as human beings.

2. Things don’t always go as planned

For my final project, I shot footage of the California Institute of the Arts campus and hand-spliced it together with footage of a fellow student singing “Lucia di Lammermoor/The Diva Dance” from The Fifth Element soundtrack. I intended it to be a music video of sorts, but because I miscounted the number of frames, the whole thing was thrown off and it didn’t match the music at all. Yet the final piece was something avant-garde and and like my then professor Valerie Soe said “when it did match up it was beautiful.” This has taught me that its okay to make mistakes, especially in multimedia design, because sometimes the outcome is better than the original plan. The experience also gave me a greater appreciation for Final Cut Pro.

3. Just because you’re a filmmaker doesn’t mean you can’t do other things too

The beautiful thing about CSSSA was that there were such a wide array of students who attended the program. There were dancers and dramatists and thespians and writers and animators and musicians, all existing in this one space. But just because you were enrolled in one particular artistic field, didn’t mean you couldn’t experiment within one of the other disciplines. There were dancing filmmakers and writers who acted, etc. This instilled in me that just because I am a journalist doesn’t mean I have to limit myself to one niche of the profession. The best journalists — and now the most highly coveted — are those who are schooled in a number of different facets of the industry and open themselves up to learning new things. These are the journalists who think outside the proverbial box and are the future of the industry.

CSSSA Film/Video, Class of 1999

6 Ways to create a mobile version of your site

Now that newspapers have hired armies of developers to create mobile versions of their sites, old media is catching up to what most of the web has already known: the mobile web is where it’s at. The good news is you don’t need a team of developers to create a mobile-optimized version of your site or blog, just a couple minutes and one of the following free online tools:

1. MoFuse

Creating a mobile site with MoFuse couldn’t be simpler. Just input your existing URL and a few registration items and a mobile version of your site is ready instantly. There are a number of other options for creating redirects, analyzing statistics, monetizing the newly created site and more.

2. Wirenode

Wirenode touts on its front page that it can create a mobile site in about five minutes, but it actually takes less than two. The other three minutes can be spent customizing the look of the mobile page, including adding images and changing the default color scheme.


For those who want to build a mobile site from scratch, but don’t want to bother with the initial coding, UBIK has a number of available editable templates created especially for mobile phones. Building a mobile site with UBIK is a little like building your first blog: You select the templates and edit this and that until you arrive at a look that suits you. The site is very novice-friendly, meaning experienced designers and coders might feel a little underwhelmed.

4. Google Reader

By appending Google Reader’s mobile URL with your own RSS feed (ex:, you can instantly create a mobile version of your site that contains just the headlines of your content/posts, because after all a stripped-down version of a site is what mobile users are really after.

5. Google Mobile Optimizer

Google’s officially sanctioned mobile site creator will display all of your content, including full text, links and, optionally, images in a nice mobile version. Simply enter a URL and Google will output the mobile-optimized site in seconds.

6. Mippin

The online service touts its ability to make searching the web on a phone easier, but it also instantly creates a bare version of any site, much in the same way the aforementioned sites do. The difference is, Mippin’s default layout looks better than any of the other online tools and the creation process is less convoluted.

Once you’ve created your mobile-optimized site, you will need to place a link to it on your existing site or augment your code to redirect mobile phone users to the appropriate version of your site.

Search Engine Guide and Sami Mäkeläinen both have great tips and advice for creating a mobile site. The one thing to remember is that a site should be presented in a way most beneficial to users and if those users are mobile phone owners, a mobile-optimized site will do just that.

How technology is changing the political landscape

Not too long ago, millions of Americans would gather around the television to watch a presidential debate, then discuss it at the water cooler the next morning. Now, millions of people all over the world gather in front of their computers to blog, tweet, chat, upload and download information about the debates as they are happening.

Even those who simply sit in front of the television to watch the proceedings still have the option of pausing, rewinding, and fast forwarding to watch a political event at their own pace.

In today’s techno savvy world, users have more information than ever at their fingertips. A candidate’s complete political history has more often than not been scrutinized and made available on numerous websites, even before their candidacy is announced. Any juicy tidbit or eyebrow-raising misstep is quickly blogged, analyzed and passed around social networking sites within minutes.

The American people are no longer slaves to traditional media and, through the net, are empowered to speak their mind on any number of topics and share their beliefs with anyone who will listen (or read). The anonymity of the internet means anyone can say anything they want from the comfort of their home — even those things that just a few decades ago would have been called treason or warranted social ostracization.

The water cooler, and even the AOL chat rooms of our not so distant past, has been replaced with sites like Twitter’s Election 2008 and television coverage has been rendered obsolete by YouTube clips and online, interactive political analysis. People are even free to make their own buttons and bumper stickers should they choose to.

But is too much information a good thing? With so many voices crowding the web, it is easy to get inundated and ultimately frustrated by the many points of view. Yet it is this freedom of speech — and the internet’s inherent ability to support it — that makes this country so great.

Want more politics? Check out these previous posts: