Archives: November 2010
Proclaiming things dead has become increasingly popular these days, especially for anything related to technology or media. And while whenever pundits declare something dead, it really means “it’s on the decline,” that hasn’t stopped hordes of writers from making hyperbolic statements about things being dead. Here’s a list of things are dead and done for:
It’s important to remember that while some of who live our lives online are surrounded by an influx of new technologies, there are many people who continue to use these technologies regularly even though the tech savvy may not. If the battle between airplanes and trains has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is really dead…it lives on through the people who continue to use them.
Storify is a recently developed tool that allows users to aggregate Twitter messages, Facebook updates, online video and more into a aggregated chronology that contains links to the source material. Essentially, Storify makes collecting and displaying web content in a timeline format incredibly easy.
While my appreciation of Storify is no secret (Kevin Sablan recently constructed a Storified collection of my mentions of Storify), it really is because the potential the tool has to reinvent online storytelling. That, combined with its ease of use, makes it a great tool for journalists looking to elevate their online news coverage.
Many news organizations used Storify for midterm elections coverage, including The Detroit News, The Seattle Times, and PBS. The Washington Post used it to chronicle the Twitter messages from candidates who conceded or celebrated victory on the social network and also to monitor election day voting issues.
After Prince George County executive Jack B. Johnson was arrested based on allegations of corruption, TBD.com chronicled the story’s spread through Twitter using Storify.
Cooks Source, the now legendary magazine that subjected itself to the internet’s wrath after sniping online articles and publishing them under what an editor claimed as public domain, also got the Storify treatment. The many responses from a variety of online sources and social networks made it perfect for a Storify timeline.
Storify is in private beta right now, though invite codes are floating around the web. Follow Storify on Twitter to get latest updates on its availability. For even more ideas on how to use the tool, check out “10 Ways journalists can use Storify.”
Last year, the Online Journalism Blog brought you 85 plugins for blogging journalists. I’ve narrowed my own selection down to six plugins, not necessarily for individual journo-bloggers, but for any newsroom with an active WordPress install — whether it be a full site, or a niche blog.
Paragraph-level permalinks should be natively built into the web, but since they’re not, WinerLinks is the interim solution. WinerLinks is a plugin that adds an anchor to the end of each paragraph, which serves as a permalink to that particular paragraph. You can see the concept in action on sites like Dave Winer’s Scripting News (the inspiration behind the plugin’s name) and PressThink. Even Om Malik is using the plugin on his personal blog.
If readers want to be able to reference a particular part of your post, they can point to the permalink. Later, if a writer wants to point back to a quote used by a specific person in a specific post, pointing directly the paragraph is brainless. The more context you can provide to your readers, the better.
Disclosure: The creation of this plugin partially unfolded on my personal blog after designing PressThink.
You may remember Mark’s post last week about photo tagging as journalism’s next big social experiment. Well now you can manage your own photo tagging through a very early-release WordPress plugin created by Matt Mullenweg himself, called Matt’s Community Tags.
From the plugin description: “Very beta, in this version the intention is for this to allow a moderated community to assist in tagging primarily photographic content, image attachments and such.”
Hat tip to Automattic’s Andrew Spittle for pointing me to this one
EditFlow helps you streamline your editorial workflow within WordPress by expanding upon native WordPress features, turning WordPress into a comprehensive content management system for newsroom processes. For example, take a look at how the plugin lets you manipulate the simple statuses feature within WordPress:
Here are the full list of features:
- Custom statuses
- Editorial comments
- Email notifications
- Editorial metadata
- Story budget
Although this plugin could use some updates, it’d be useful for a newsroom or blog to experiment with. Similar to WinerLinks paragraph-level breakdown, Feedback by Paragraph allows users to give comments at the paragraph level. Adapted from NewsMixer, it adds a new level of accountability and could be an interesting way to view reader sentiment toward a story based on how much feedback is given to each paragraph (for example, a point of controversy or an error would could be obviously called out simply by the mass amount of comments associated with a certain part of a story).
From the plugin website, it’s great for:
- Leaving corrections and clarifications on any blog
- On a news site or blog you can let your users suggest other areas of interest and investigation.
- Document annotation – each post could be a chapter of a book or document.
Assignment Desk,an open source project out of NYU, was created specifically for news organizations using WordPress as their primary content management system. Rather than being only an internal tool like EditFlow, Assignment Desk makes community engagement an intergated part of the editorial workflow.
From the plugin description: “Once story ideas have been approved, Assignment Desk allows users to participate in the reporting of a particular story. An editor may assign specific roles (e.g. photographer, writer) to the user as well as limit those eligible to contribute by user type (e.g. first time contributor, regular contributor, professional journalist).
The plugin allows community members to submit tips or story ideas to the news organization, and volunteer to help with the story in various ways, while preserving editorial oversight.”
From a creator of Edit Flow comes yet another way to structure your data within WordPress: Custom Metadata Manager. This plugin allows you to create custom metadata fields to go with different post types. So, for example, you could create a “movie” post type with fields like “release date” and “rating” or a “sports” post type with fields like “location” and “score.”
From the plugin description: “The goal of this plugin is to help you rapidply build familiar, intuitive interfaces for your users in a very WordPress-native way.”
The buzz this weekend in the online journalism world was about an interactive created by The New York Times, “Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget.” The puzzle was an online companion to a story by Times reporter David Leonhardt in Sunday’s Week in Review section. The feature has been very popular on Twitter.
“It’s one of the most tweeted graphics we’ve ever had,” said Kevin Quealy, a Times graphics editor.
The game allows users to explore various options (spending cuts and tax increases) to close the U.S. budget gaps projected for 2015 and 2030.
In an interview with 10,000 Words, Quealy stressed the overall simplicity of the project.
“The technology behind it isn’t terribly advanced,” he said. “It works in IE6.”
Leonhardt worked on the research aspect of the project for some time. Quealy’s role, as an interface designer, began on Tuesday.
“We had to work really fast,” he said. “I probably had literally 20 mockups for the way it might work.”
During the design process, which included work during the wee hours of Saturday morning, Quealy said he had to strike a balance between the interactive being too simple (and boring) and being too complex (and game-like, for something that’s a serious topic).
One of Quealy’s design tests is whether or not his parents would be able to understand how to use the interactive. If they could understand it, then it’s usable.
“At the end of the day, I think we really chose the right format, which is just the table,” he said. “It’s very simple and easy to use.”
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, he said.
“We thought people would like it, but we’ve had incredible response,” Quealy said. “We had like 500 letters yesterday. We normally get like eight.”
The puzzle works as smoothly as it does because of the teamwork that went into creating it, Quealy said. In addition to Quealy and Leonhardt, Shan Carter, Matthew Ericson and Bill Marsh worked on its development.
At the end of the day, though, Quealy said it’s all about the content.
“My overarching advice for a project like this is the thing we do really well in this case is let the content speak for itself,” he said. “We didn’t try to make it too flashy or we weren’t trying to show off our technical expertise … This content, the results of [Leonhardt's] findings, that’s what’s really important about this. How can we really showcase that?”