Off The Written Path

Exploring New Journalism

Off The Written Path

Steve Buttry and how I’m becoming friends with Twitter

March 24th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Tech Blog Posts

My Twitter Profile

I have to admit Steve Buttry has inspired me. It was something he said:

Feeling uncomfortable should be a red flag that you have to jump in

I admit Twitter makes me uncomfortable. Twitter makes me afraid. And after hearing Steve say those words I realized I had to jump in. So I have. I started my Twitter account early in the class because it was a requirement, however my first tweet was on March 22, the day Steve spoke to our class. Two days later I have 13 Tweets!

I’m not going in completely blind. I have looked at Mashable’s journalist’s guide to Twitter and also Mandy Jenkins’s guide. I’m also trying to establish a personal plan for Twitter: What are my goals? What do I hope to accomplish? How long will I give myself to become a Twitter maven?

 The plan is still a work in progress (and I will post about my progress here as I embark on my Twitter journey) but I think what matters for now is that I have jumped in. Now will anyone please follow me @r_tony?


‘Journalism Next’ Chapter 8 Summary

March 22nd, 2011 · No Comments · Journalism Next by Mark Briggs

Video is “the most powerful type of visual journalism,” according to Mark Briggs. In Chapter 8 of “Journalism Next” Briggs describes how journalists can get on the video bandwagon.

This might come as a shock to journalism students but apparently quality of the video does not matter. It can be amateur video or some professionally done production, so long as viewers know what they should expect from you. Authenticity, not editing skills, is what counts with video, Briggs says.   

Although quality of video does not matter, content does, Briggs writes. Those are two different things.  You can shoot video on a hand held Flip cam, but it is the content you capture that will matter.  

“Just remember: tell a story,” Briggs writes.

He also doles out advice for all the technical stuff: What cameras are available, what accessories are essential and what lighting equipment you might need.

Other tips he gives on capturing video is using the BBC’s five shot sequence:

  1. Close up of hands
  2. Close up of face
  3. Wide shot
  4. Over-the-shoulder shot
  5. Creative angle shot

Another important aspect of video is the interview, Briggs mentions. His main tips are to get good lighting,  prepare questions, and make sure your audio is good.

Audio for video is very important, so you have to always check that the person talking can be heard and that there are no background noises ruining your audio. Briggs recommends you wear headphones to hear your audio.

Once you capture your video you must go through the editing process and prepare the video for  the web, which requires compression. And of course learn to market your video to your audience. However, Briggs emphasizes that the most important aspect is still telling a good story.  His steps for telling a good story are:

  • Hook the audience
  • Have a beginning, middle and end
  • Don’t let viewers get bored
  • Focus on the story you are trying to tell
  • Have interesting characters in your video

Here is a video from YouTube uploaded by jthomas100tube of Briggs talking about video story telling.


Tumblr and the Washington Post

March 16th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Blog Posts

Tumblr screen shot.

There were two things that struck me in a recent post in Mashable about the Washington Post Tumblr blog @innovations. One is that the blog  explains how some stories are reported at the Post (which as a journalism student I think it’s awesome, check out this post about the design of the NCAA cover).

 The other thing is, I know nothing about Tumblr. What is it?

If you look in the About section of Tumblr you will find this gem from the

“Weblogs? Been there, done that. Facebook? It’s full of kids. Twitter? That’s so 2006, darling. No, the smart thing to be doing online these days is tumblelogging, which is to weblogs what text messages are to email – short, to the point, and direct.”

 So, from reading the other quotes on the About page I get that Tumblr is a microblogging site akin to Twitter. But if it’s just like Twitter what is the big deal about Tumblr? Why not just use Twitter? Well the answer is that it is not just like Twitter.

I found the best explanation for my questions about Tumblr in a post  by  Jennifer Van Grove  in Mashable. She says that  Tumblr fills the space between Twitter and a blog. Tumblr is microblogging, but it is a whole lot more. It does not confine you to 140 characters, you can pick your own theme for your Tumblr blog, and you can also share photos on Tumblr. But it can be done in a fast and easy way like Twitter. One thing I should mention is that from reading other Tumblr blogs and posts about Tumblr I get the sense there is a very specific and tight knit community of Tumblr users that help give the site its life. 

For a full list of everything you can do on Tumblr look at their ‘why everyone loves Tumblr” page.

 Their ‘About Tumblr’ page basically says you can “share anything” and “custumize everything” in a Tumblr blog.

And while searching for answers about Tumblr I ran into another microblogging site Posterous which is apparently trying to take Tumblr’s crown in microblogging ‘rich media content,'( that means blogging photos, video, audio, ect., in your posts).  

Next post: Posterous, What is it?


Soldier Transition Project Storyboard

March 10th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Blog Posts

The Soldier Transition Project aims to tell the story of soldiers who seek out an education after having served their country in a time of war.

We want to answer the questions:

  1. What is it like to go from a war zone to a college campus?
  2. What challenges do Soldiers face adjusting to life as college students?
  3. How can the transition be made easier?

 The planning process for our multimedia project is as follows:

  • Identify the elements of our multimedia project: We have a “nut graf”  that explains our purpose, we will have profiles of featured soldiers, and a resources page that will help soldiers with transition.
  • Identify the media we will use in our multimedia project: The “main event” will be a Soundslides show. We will also incorporate video, audio, text, photos and social media. We are still considering other elements such as a possible timeline.
  • Storyboard the elements: Here is our MindMeister storyboard.


The next step to our storyboard will be planning how each element will be displayed in our website. Our next benchmark is identifying the layout of our project entry page and conducting interviews for our Soundslides show.


‘Journalism Next’ Chapter 11 Summary

March 8th, 2011 · No Comments · Journalism Next by Mark Briggs

There is an age-old question popular in philosophical circles, and TV, that goes along the lines; “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it still make a sound?” Well in Chapter 11 Mark Briggs asks: “If journalists produce great stories and no one reads them, how can news survive?”

Journalists must also be marketers if they want to attract an audience, but they must be marketers in the digital world. The new world of journalism comes with its own foreign language; words like “analytics” and “optimization” abound.

Briggs gives an overview of what those words mean and why you as a journalist should care about them.

  • Tracking content: This is about keeping track of your productivity. Track your blogging, Twitter updates, and news products. It is important because it can aid a news organization’s productivity and helps improve content. Tools to use: Web-based spreadsheet.
  • Web Analytics: This is about using metrics to track what is important to readers. This works by tracking traffic to your content, which helps you figure out what stories readers looked at most. Tools to use: Omniture, Hitbox, Google Analytics.
  • Search Engine Optimization: Basically present your content on the Web in a way that search engines are more likely to find it. If someone uses a search engine you want your content to show up in the first 10 hits, or first page of the search results. This can be achieved by understanding SEO; use popular key words in your headlines that will draw the attention of the search engine. Tools to use: just write good headlines, and use lots of descriptive links in your posts. 
  • Distribution through social media: This is about making it easy for readers to find, and share, your content. That means you have to publish it in many social media platforms. Tools to use: blogs, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook.  Participating in social media builds your credibility in the online community, Briggs says.