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:

3)      Google Tools (Calendar, Maps, Docs, Voice, etc…) – I use most of these almost daily to help organize my time, add easy visuals to articles on fires and other location-based incidents, and share documents with others. Google Voice (which Karen Workman and Mark Lewis helped train most of the company on already) is also a great tool for gathering crowdsourced audio clips.

4)      HootSuite / Tweet Deck – Both of these are applications to help manage your social media accounts in one place. I use Hootsuite every day to balance updates to our multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts and schedule updates throughout the day. The great part about both of these (HootSuite is web-based, while TweetDeck is a download) is that they let you organize your feeds and hash tags you’re following by columns. For example, I use columns for our main feed, mentions, #jrc, and lists of our staff, local news media, and others.

5)      Cover It Live – Web-based software which lets you open up an online chat window in about 30 seconds. It’s easily embedded on our websites and can be used for just about anything from covering sports games to a political debate. It’s also very simple to incorporate Twitter feeds into the chats.

Goals for Q1, 2012 – I’m trying to get The Record much more involved in community engagement. We plan to build on our past successes (and hopefully a grant from JRC) to construct a fully-functioning Community Media Lab in our building in the coming months. We’re going to start holding community forums again in our existing community room within the next month and plan to track success by our attendance, engagement during sessions, and follow up with those who attend to attract them to interact with us on a more regular basis.

This will help our staff by providing more opportunities to interact with our audience, learn what the crowd actually wants to read, and promote themselves as multimedia journalists. I’d like to be able to record each session for the web and have a reporter do an article on what was discussed to help promote and spread the word about us opening our doors more often.

Additionally, I am working with my editor Lisa Lewis to try and step up local music coverage with content from area bands, concerts, photos, and videos of performances on the web. We believe this will help us offer attractive online content while helping us appeal to a younger local audience (which is comprised by 3 colleges within our city limits).

To accomplish these tasks locally, I’ll be working with our editor Lisa Lewis, Head Photographer Mike McMahon, and joint editors of our “Weekender” entertainment publication from The Record as well as the nearby Saratogian. I’ll also be asking questions of fellow lab members Chris March and Ivan LaJara, who have both attempted live concert coverage, as well as those at properties like Torrington who have had success with CML events.

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