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Archives: January 2013

Pitch Your Multimedia Ideas to SI.com

Sports savvy freelancers who have a knack for multimedia are welcome to pitch their ideas to SI.com, where all sections are open to freelance pitches. Photos, videos and podcasts are all game, and can be pitched separately from the rest of a story.

Executive editor B.J. Schecter advises freelancers to pitch specific angles that “go beyond the action on the field” or explore new or untapped issues. Still, if a writer comes to SI.com with a scoop on a player in a major sport that the site has yet to uncover, Schecter will listen. “Anything that’s a really good story,” he said of the perfect pitch. “If it’s a mainstream thing we haven’t touched on or you have special access. I’m always looking for a good story.”

Get all the details in How To Pitch: SI.com. [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required]

3 Reasons Why “Viral News” Will Change the Future

There’s a new trend cresting in the digital journalism world, and its unique spin is the closest anyone has gotten to a truly new way to digest news. It’s called “viral news,” and it’s well on its way to changing the landscape of how websites will soon be producing new, shareable news stories.

It’s important to note that this isn’t the work of standard viral websites like Fark or Buzzfeed. Instead, there’s a new generation of thoughtful, news-focused startups that are finding new ways to share important news content without reducing it to a sugary mass of fluff. One of the biggest viral news websites today is Upworthy, which focuses on creating viral posts of serious content including political speeches, think tank concepts and research data. Since its start in March of 2012, Upworthy has earned millions in funding and gained the monniker of the fastest growing media company in the world.

Here are three ways Upworthy and similar website NowThisNews are on their way to changing news at large. What do you think of their efforts? Let us know in the comments.

1. Relevant Topics Are Perfectly Boiled Down

Instead of an in-depth report on Lance Armstrong’s controversial interview with Oprah, a video on NowThisNews’ front page boiled the whole interview down to a mere 160 seconds. It’s the perfect example of the goal of viral news organizations: to condense big news topics and other points of interest into digestible and shareable bits of information. Users can click on before their commute (or before their lunch break) and easily get through the day’s news in half an hour — and share all of it to their friends. Read more

The Manti Te’o Scandal: How to Fact-Check in the Digital Age

It’s been a busy week in the digital blunders department. Deadspin’s expose on Manti Te’o’s non-existent girlfriend is shocking for the simple fact that all it took was some old fashioned fact-checking. That the Gawker Media sports blog “without access, favor, or discretion” scooped traditional sports media like Sports Illustrated and ESPN, among others, is a big deal — and a rather simple one.

It’s J-School 101. Always ask questions, ask until you get a real answer, and make sure you have real facts, dates and numbers, to back up your claim. Of course, it’s easy to look back and see where everything spiraled out of control. The online news world is exciting, fast paced, and usually effective. It’s easy to spread a good story online; it’s now twice as hard to make sure it’s true.

Here’s a quick refresher:

1. Follow The Links

In the digital age, it’s safe to say that most journalists will repost, retweet and report on a story if enough media outlets are linking to it. As long as there are enough outlets reporting on a story and those outlets are credible, it can seem safe to pass it along. But don’t we all know that feeling of finding yourself in a link loop? One blog links to a story and that link leads us to another story and another one linking back to the same quote and then you find yourself back at the first story, never getting to a real source? It’s easy to call off the search when the original “breaking news” post is on a questionable or obscure news source. It’s not so easy when the “facts” comes from a Sports Illustrated cover story (oh, to be a fly on that wall today!) or ESPN.

Read more

Trial and Error in Sponsored Content

The story circling the web today about The Atlantic’s native advertisement for Scientology raises all sorts of questions for digital newsrooms. And there are no easy answers.

In case you missed it: yesterday around lunchtime, an ad package, labeled as sponsored content, went live on The Atlantic’s website. The native advertisement was for the Church of Scientology, under the headline “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year.” 

If it weren’t for the comment section, the package might have gone unnoticed. But reporters and readers started to notice that the commenters weren’t clear about the nature of the content. The comments, from pro-Scientology to the deeply skeptical, and The Atlantic’s moderation of the comments, raised eyebrows from the Washington Post to Gawker. It was shared on Twitter and social media as editorial content from the news magazine. At the eleven hour mark yesterday night, The Atlantic pulled the package and a message to readers about how the organization is reviewing subsequent sponsored content and policies surrounding it is up in its place.  Read more

The Do’s and Dont’s of a Twitter Interview

The Twitter interview has become a strange, somewhat mythical beast in digital journalism. Using a 140-characters-or-less platform can seem like a journalist’s heaven or hell, depending on how you like to gather your information, but there’s no doubt that the so-called “twinterview” has become de riugeur  for journalists of all kinds.

However, it’s not the end-all-be-all of cutting edge techniques, and you should never settle for a “twinterview” unless it specifically fits for your story’s needs and goals. Here are a few quick tips to recognizing when and why reaching out to contacts and sources through Twitter can be useful, and how it can be a flop for other situations.

Have you conducted an interview over Twitter? Tell us about it in the comments.

DO: When Breaking Journalism Happens

If a major event happens, conducting a series of short interviews via Twitter can be the best way to find out what’s going on from people who are living it — especially if you can’t get there yourself. On Friday, BuzzFeed’s new LA bureau gathered information about a harrowing hostage situation at a Nordstrom Rack in a Westchester Mall and the related lockdown of a nearby movie theater by reaching out to those trapped inside on Twitter.

The result was an overwhelming success. BuzzFeed got an inside glimpse into the situation by those who were in lockdown, and received valuable, real-time information as it happened. A situation like this, where an outlet gains unprecedented access to an emergency, perhaps wouldn’t be executable without Twitter’s openness and quick information transfers. Don’t be afraid to use it when you’re looking for information on emergencies and other breaking news happenings, because it could lead you to the best sources out there. Read more

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