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Posts Tagged ‘digital journalism’

Breaking News and Social Media: Stop Fighting It

Social media and journalism are back in the ring this week. They’re both pretty strong contenders, but not without their weaknesses. In the immortal words of Paulie Pennino, let’s blow these punch-outs.

In this corner: Journalism

As the underdogs trying to maintain a presence and a living wage, we all know journalists have the power of story-telling and, hopefully, credibility, when news breaks. This Nieman Lab post illustrates the timeline of breaking the Boston bombing on Monday. It shows social media users were able to catch events up to the minute, but it’s only when Reuters retweets it that it becomes News.  

That’s all because of context. Journalism takes its hardest blows when it forgets that its mission is to provide context. To keep up with social media, journos have fallen prey to the allure of being first. Cable news outlets broadcast, and then tweeted, information about the ongoing investigation and hunt for the bomber without verifying information. Instead of relying on their credibility, their only other strength, media outlets engaged in a strange feedback loop citing each other, updating homepages and official tweets in a dizzy little dance. 

No shortage of adrenaline, but certainly a shortage of facts. 

And in this corner: Social Media

In the midst of breaking, or not-quite breaking, news, social media was aflutter with corrections. 

Social media is now the watchdog of the fourth estate. If it weren’t for social media, no one would have realized until it was too late how silly some of the reports coming in from mainstream media outlets were. 

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From Print to Broadcast: How Local News Transitions to Digital

We all know video channels are the next step for news. It’s one thing if you’re The Atlantic or The Huffington Post. But smaller, regional publications are making the move, too. And it has been a slow, evolving process., a Calkins Media Group website based in suburban Philadelphia, has been transitioning its print papers online for the past decade and it’s starting to get serious about video content. The Bucks County Courier Times, one of the group’s papers (and for the record, where my mother works), recently launched The Courier Times Update, a ten minute news broadcast that goes live on their website at 2pm every day. Rachel Canelli, the host of the update, has transitioned from a strictly print reporter to the Courier’s go-to video reporter over the past few years. She doesn’t have any broadcast experience, but like most mid-market journalists these days, she’s learned how produce her own video segments.

 Ever since we had a website, we’ve done video. But it was more random. Three years ago we started a weekly segment called Buzz In Bucks and that evolved from man on the street interviews and hard news to more feature content. Two years ago, we started doing daily news video. That’s when they started handing out iPhones and cameras – it was a big investment, and then everyone was expected to do video. And the photographers got in because the had the capability to shoot video. Within the last year or so, we hired the video consultant and bringing in new players – we hired a new CEO and general manager and we started to put an emphasis on moving to video, by investing in equipment and software to add advertisements into the videos.

How many of you are sitting in a newsroom struggling to stay relevant? It’s not easy. For the team at the Courier, it was about hiring Canelli to head the update, and repurposing other reporters and photographers in the newsroom to add more video content. It’s a bit of a scramble.  Read more

Data Visualizations in the Newsroom

If you consume any political news or watch late night television, Congress has become the punchline of many an editorial or frustrated monologue. But does Congress really suck?

With a data visualization, Nikanth Patel, an Editorial Production Associate at The New Yorker, hopes to help people answer that question. Created in his time away from the office, Patel entered his latest data visualization project “Does Congress Really Suck?” in the BiCoastal Datafest sponsored by Columbia and Stanford Universities, where it won the “Best in Insight” prize.

By aggregating public data into a sleek and interactive interface, Patel’s project allows users to judge Congress through comparisons to past sessions, by following the money trail, and a real-time view of the public’s opinion of Congress on social media.

Why data visualizations? For starters, it makes information easier to consume. Since we have the technology to make data look sleek, even artful, and let readers interact with it, why not? Patel sees data visualizations as just another step in the evolution of the image. Reporters have used pictures, then video, to help tell their story. Why not data visualizations? As long as it’s in context, of course. Read more

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 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