Jim Colgan


Jim Colgan was a producer and digital editor at WNYC Radio for almost ten years. He now works independently, helping news organizations with mobile mapping projects and consulting for technology companies that include the texting platform, Mobile Commons. Jim launched one of public radio's first ever crowdsourcing projects by asking listeners of WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show to report on the price of milk, lettuce and beer at their local grocery store. Jim is also an active member of Hacks/Hackers New York.


How online audio tools can help journalists

First blogs, then Flickr, then YouTube, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Tumblr… If you were told there’s one more thing that you have to be using to survive in journalism, you’d be forgiven for lashing out. But that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Audio is becoming a force in Internet content, well beyond music and radio streaming.

SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung put it starkly at the French Internet conference, Le Web, earlier this month: Sound will be bigger than video, he said.

You might expect those words coming from the head of a company that relies on wide adoption of audio for its business, but his argument was convincing. Recording audio is less intrusive than recording video. Everyone who has a smartphone doesn’t just have a camera in their pocket, but a microphone. Read more


How journalists are using the iPad to enhance their reporting

Many journalists know what it’s like to have a source freeze when you pull out a microphone or start recording them on camera. What were once colorful anecdotes can quickly turn into stilted monologues.

Now that the quality of mobile and tablet devices is so advanced, however, reporters are finding new ways to use them — and lower the barriers between themselves and their sources.

My first experience of iPad reporting was illuminating. A few days after the first generation device came out in 2010, I tried using it on a New York City subway. I wanted to do something simple like read a news app, but each time I tried, the person sitting next to me asked if she could touch the screen.

Even standing up, I’d get curious stares from around the carriage and I would put the device away. Read more


How a college journalist created SoundNote, an iPad app for recording interviews

How do you design a mobile app for journalists? Do you commission consultants to research a tool they think reporters will use? Do you spend weeks observing the daily habits of journalists to try to anticipate their needs?

If you’re David Estes, you just throw yourself into the Apple iPad development toolkit and try to make your own life easier. That’s what Estes did when he created an iPad app called SoundNote last year as a college sophomore at the University of Washington. The app was so successful he was able to quit college, pay off his student loans and live solo in a West Village apartment in New York City.

SoundNote is a simple note-taking application that lets you record from the iPad’s internal microphone. Read more


7 ways to get your audience to participate in mobile mapping projects

News organizations are increasingly involving the community in their reporting and trying to figure out which approaches work well.

One way to get your audience involved is to combine the ease of mobile texting with the visual appeal of a map. Throughout the past few years, I’ve launched several successful mobile mapping crowdsourcing projects for public radio stations and have found that they engaged audiences and helped advance news stories.

Drawing on my experience with these projects, I’ve come up with some tips on how to involve your audience in a successful mobile mapping project in any medium.

Start with a simple question.

Last December, a huge snow storm hit the New York City area. It happened during the holidays when many of the city’s political leaders were away. Read more

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