Thursday, January 26, 2012

5 tools every digital-first newsroom should learn; Goals for 2012

Here are my choices for top digital tools that every newsroom should be familiar with:

1)      Storify – A great tool that you can use to gather tweets, photos, Facebook posts and tons of other media on any subject or hashtag you can search for. It’s also great because you can pull only local tweets and each “story” is can be embedded on your site. We use it a lot for displaying extensive live coverage.

Current coverage of murder trial in 18-year-old case -
Coverage of NY Gov. Cuomo’s state budget proposal -

2)      iMovie – I find iMovie to be invaluable if you’ve got a Mac around that you have access to (most JRC dailies have at least one desktop in their newsrooms, from what I understand). The software is more powerful and comes with better options than editing video in FlipShare or through Syndicaster.  It also makes slideshows ridiculously easy to put together and upload as a video file to our sites.

For anyone who doesn’t know how to use iMovie, I wrote up this tutorial recently for my staff:

Some examples of slideshows, videos, made with iMovie:
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Discovering the power of Google Voice

After some beneficial training from our colleagues in Journal Register Company, reporter Katie Nowak Roberts and I were given the task of using Google Voice to produce a crowd-sourced digital project on a local topic. After some initial trial and error, Katie's project became a huge success, gathering a whopping 170 responses.

Her final project - located here - has now been listened to nearly 160 times in just two days.

Who should fill the vacant Rensselaer County Legislature seats? by katieroberts

To illustrate how this happened and what she believed the benefits were, I asked Katie to write a few paragraphs on her experience. I encourage you to read what she wrote below and consider getting to know Google Voice as one of the most valuable tools in a digital journalist's arsenal.

Here's what Katie had to say:
"For my first Google Voice project, I asked our readers to share their New Year’s resolutions for 2012.
 I received zero responses.
 Dejected, I asked readers on Twitter for suggestions of other topics I could use that would perhaps get me the results I was looking for.
 Again, I received zero responses.
 Thanks to the quick thinking of our Digital Specialist, Tom Caprood, I was presented with perhaps the most perfect topic of them all: who people wanted to fill two vacant seats on the county legislature. There had been a lot of discussion and rumors floating around about who would get the jobs after former Democratic legislators Lou Rosamilia and Peter Ryan left those posts to become mayor and deputy mayor of the City of Troy, respectively. And it seemed almost inevitable that former mayor Harry Tutunjian would get one of the slots. (He did.) This seemed to be something people were passionate about, so I dutifully recorded my message on my Google Voice account and waited for messages.
 Almost immediately after we pushed out the question on Twitter, Facebook and our website, the calls started coming in, sparse at first, and then within minutes, sometimes seconds, of each other. By the end of the first day, I had 40 messages. By the time my Sunday deadline rolled around, I had 170.

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