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Archives: October 2009

Editors: 10 ways you annoy your staff

1. You call or email on weekends

The occasional weekend call is excusable. Calling every Saturday or Sunday with questions about stories or comments on future projects is not. Save the suggestions for Monday.

2. Your office door is closed

Whether you’re constantly out to lunch or vacation or you’re just shutting your self out from the world, your staff will resent never being able to reach you.

3. You can’t walk the walk

There’s nothing worse than having your writing critiqued by someone who can’t write themselves. If you are commanding your staff to write or produce a story but can’t actually do it yourself, you will lose the respect of your staff.

4. You stifle creativity

True innovation comes from experimentation. If you insist that everything be written by the book and don’t allow room for creativity, you’ll end up with a very bored staff producing very boring work.

5. You don’t fight for your staff

Every once in a while, writers and producers will have a story that they are particularly passionate about. Don’t shoot down their dreams and ambitions by cutting these stories without justification or ushering them through the editing process.

6. You hover

Writers and reporters don’t like to be haunted. Avoid standing over their desks while they’re working or appearing out of nowhere and standing there silently.

7. You change facts without notice

If you notice something wrong in a story and alter it without consulting the writer or reporter, you may make an incorrect change that can affect the credibility of the entire story. Before you make any edits that alter the facts in a story, consult with the writer first.

8. You rewrite stories in your voice

Even more insulting than changing facts is changing writing so it mirrors your own voice and not the voice of the reporter. Changing grammar and sentence structure is one thing, changing the style of writing is an insult.

9. There are too many of you

Working with several editors at once is sort of like walking a pack of dogs down the street — every dog has an idea of where it wants to go and it’s up to the dog walker to keep everyone on track. Don’t be those dogs. Coordinate your efforts.

10. You don’t prioritize

Handing down too many “priority” tasks at once is a sure way to frustrate your staff.
If everything is an emergency, then nothing is.

Also on 10,000 Words:

10 Ways to make your editor love you
12 Things to tell your tech-impaired editor
9 Things You Didn’t Know About Newspapers
What do your users think of you?

5 Creative uses of Flash and interactive storytelling

Flash is capable of more than just audio slideshows. Some of the most innovative uses of the animation software are happening outside of journalism and are challenging the traditional notions of storytelling through interactivity and innovation.

Jordan: History of Flight

The storied career of basketball legend Michael Jordan is told through this interactive timeline that uses eye-catching and interactive graphics to make Jordan’s story even more powerful.

HBO Imagine: The Affair

Cable channel HBO knows what makes a good story and has a whole rack of awards to prove it. It’s latest foray into interactive online storytelling is this narrative that tells a single story from four different perspectives.


To showcase its 2009 collection, clothing retailer UNIQLO created an interactive runway where users can select a model and read more about the clothes they are wearing. It’s unique interface creates a more dynamic shopping experience.

What’s the Real Cost?

This interactive Flash game developed by health insurance non-profit Regence seeks to educate users on the hidden fees and bureaucracy often associated with American health care system. Like most Flash games, it is fun but subliminally educational.

A Journey Beyond

Sure it’s a clever way to sell more monogram bags, but Louis Vuitton’s interactive conversation between astronauts Jim Lovell, Sally Ride and Buzz Aldrin is nevertheless brilliant. It is clever not only in its use of Flash, but in creating an immersive experience that draws the viewer in to the stories of the three history makers.

The aforementioned sites took a lot of time and exceptional talent to create, but it doesn’t mean novice or intermediate Flash users can’t take some of the basic storytelling and interaction techniques and apply them to their own stories. Flash has a wide range of capabilities and it takes just a little imagination and effort to create something new and unique.

Haven’t yet mastered the basics of Flash? Check out the Flash tutorials available at, and

Also on 10,000 Words:

Where to find the best in Flash journalism
3 reasons journalists shouldn’t use Flash
8 Flash tips and tricks + one big cheat sheet
How to save time when using Flash

The future of journalism: 3 Multimedia journalists to watch

1. McKenna Ewen

It is rare to see a multimedia journalist who truly fits the definition of the craft — a mastery of many different types of journalism and the wisdom to know which to use. McKenna Ewen is that journalist. In his relatively brief, but accomplished career, the award-winning twenty-something has created riveting stories in a variety of media, including text, photos and video. Times of Recession, a gripping look at how the failing economy is affecting all walks of life, and Remembering Spc. Carlos Wilcox, the story of a military officer who died in an Iraq missile, indicate that McKenna has a bright future ahead of him.

2. Mathilde Piard

Mathilde Piard, an internet producer at The Palm Beach Post, grabbed the attention of the audience at last week’s Online News Association conference when she emphatically declared that young journalists are not the carefree, free-spirited wanderers that veteran journalists often think they are. A champion for younger journalists as well as female journalists, Mathilde is using her Twitter feed to establish herself as a voice of a new generation of journalists. Mathilde has a number of stellar multimedia projects to her credit, including Inside Home Birth, a story of women choosing to birth their babies away from hospitals, and Hot Jobs, where locals discuss the ups and downs of their trade.

3. Chris Tompkins

At the core of every one of Chris Tompkins’ multimedia stories is a great visual eye, an impressive mastery of photography and the technical skills to bring it all to life. Chris has a varied collection of multimedia stories to his credit. Among them: Yosemite in Sight & Sound, a recent project on the national park, demonstrates both a commitment and dedication to pulling together an amazing story, and, as you’ll see from the video below, proves that Chris stands head and shoulders above even some of the most seasoned visual journalists.

Want to see more great work by young multimedia journalists? Check out The Fall Workshop, a project of the students of Syracuse University, and News21, a collaborative project of universities across the US.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Just what are they teaching future journalists?

Do children really want to be journalists when they grow up?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Multimedia Journalists

KDMC Best Practices

7 Ways to keep journalism alive (without paywalls)

Is journalism dead? Not even close. Attendees at this past week’s Online News Association conference were brimming with ideas about how to sustain journalism and the technologies that will support the industry. Want to be a part of the future of journalism and technology? Here’s what you need to know.

1. Explore new technologies, but be discerning

In her workshop Top Ten Tech Trends You’ve Still Never Heard Of, Webbmedia Group’s Amy Webb threw a list of amazing new technologies at the audience like lightning bolts, each one more dazzling than the last. While all the technologies mentioned had the ability to elevate journalism, it would be foolhardy to adopt them all at the same time. Instead, choose the tools that you think are right for your organization and can do more than just be the “cool” new tool.

2. Experiment, but don’t be afraid to fail

The journalism culture insists that new ideas be tested and proven before they are actually put into place, the opposite of other industries where failure is a part of the process. Journalism innovators have such a heavy burden on their shoulders because the world is watching and sometimes waiting to cry FAIL should a project go under. Don’t be afraid of failure or the naysayers, because as journalism educator Ann Grimes said, it is okay to “fail early and often.”

3. Follow the wisdom of the crowd

There were many great panels at ONA, but the absolute best and most informative wasn’t created by conference producers, but rather was voted up by conference attendees. Instead of a group of pre-selected panelists, the lively “un-conference” session led by Publish2′s Ryan Sholin encouraged input from anyone who wanted to speak and the diverse viewpoints contributed to the collective knowledge of the group and a better understanding of the topic.

4. Collaborate with others outside of journalism

Looking to other journalists for inspiration can be equivalent to the blind leading the blind. The way to truly innovate is to look outside of journalism for ways to improve the industry. Take a cue from Stanford University and a number of other journalism schools who have partnered with other departments to come up with new ways technology can be used to enhance and sustain journalism.

5. There’s more than one way to skin a cat

One ONA session in particular left the audience scratching their heads after the presenter showcased only one way to create an online map when there in fact hundreds of ways to create map mashups. The implied lesson: there may be a single technology that everyone is using but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with different options. Case in point: journalists and geeks all gravitate toward one technology and chastise others for not following suit. If you’re using a computer, it must be a Mac, if you’re using a browser it must be Firefox and if you’re using email it must be Gmail. Forget about what others say, if you find something that suits you better, go with it.

6. Follow your passion…now

You don’t have to wait until you are let go from or quit your job to start the next big revolutionary project. ONA speakers Leo Laporte and Om Malik started with an idea for their respective businesses and didn’t wait for editors or business executives to give them the go ahead. If you start small and have a great idea, that will idea will cut through the clutter and rise to the top where other people will discover it.

7. Provide good content

It doesn’t matter how novel or innovative journalism is presented if the content itself sucks. There are a million burgeoning ideas of how to present news but if the writing, reporting, facts and research are lacking, readers and viewers just won’t care.

Also on 10,000 Words:

What the journalism industry can learn from porn
4 Organizations more tech-savvy than your newsroom
10 Journalists you should follow on Twitter