Regina McCombs


Regina McCombs is a faculty member of The Poynter Institute, teaching multimedia, and social and mobile journalism. She was the senior producer for multimedia at in Minneapolis-St. Paul for 11 years. There, she was a multimedia producer and photographer beginning in 1997 (eek!), when video was small and jerky. Previously, she was a news photographer and field producer at KARE-TV in Minneapolis. Tweets as @reginajmc.

Election coverage shows how online, mobile video has grown

On election night, video was everywhere — and not just on television. Dozens of news sites and mobile apps also featured video, and there was no shortage of places to watch the election results roll in without ever having to touch a remote control.

An amazing number of newspapers put on a full-court press of election night video. The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal (edited segment here), The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times (to name just a few) had wall-to-wall coverage. There were editors and reporters on set, reporters doing live shots, and interviews with experts — many of the trappings of television newscasts. It was an impressive amount of effort.

Some had very polished “talent” on camera.  But too often the journalists in front of the camera weren’t comfortable there — they didn’t look at the camera, didn’t dress for the camera, or had untrained voices that were tough to listen to for stretches of time. Read more


How to keep social media reaction in perspective when covering the elections

Flip the channel or the page, and you’ll find it: coverage of the social media reaction to news events — and political events like conventions and debates.

Much of it, however, talks about that reaction as though it represents the entire population. That, or it offers numbers without context (tweets per minute! Number of times the debate is mentioned!), as Stephen Colbert so ably skewered. For many news organizations, Twitter in particular has become a stand-in for public reaction.

The problem with that? Simple — social media users may be a lot like you and me, but they are not like everyone. Only 85 percent of people in the U.S. use the Internet. (Don’t get me started on the fact that we don’t talk about the 15 percent of Americans who don’t have access to the Internet. Read more


How 6 news organizations are using QR codes to drive traffic to news content

Walk past a bus shelter, check product packaging, visit a home improvement store and you’ll see Quick Response (QR) codes. They have gone mainstream, as 14 million people scanned a QR code in June, according to a new report from comScore, and it turns out that half of the time they scanned codes in a newspaper or magazine. Newspapers (and some broadcasters) are exploring how they can make good use of these codes to drive traffic from the print product to the Web via mobile devices, and it may be working.

“It’s sort of a no-brainer. We’ve been putting Web refs in [the newspaper] for a long time,” says Cory Haik, deputy editor of universal news at the Washington Post. The advantage with QR codes, Haik says, is that you can actually measure the traffic to the site from QR codes. Read more


Decision-making guide: Should you upgrade to new Final Cut Pro X editing software?

Apple released a new-from-scratch version of its Final Cut Pro X editing software last week, and reading the critiques and reaction to the critiques has been very entertaining. If you think it’s all too inside-baseball, even Conan O’Brien’s editors shared their feelings about the new FCP X.

The reaction includes a lot of hope that the biggest problems with previous versions — especially file management and transcoding — got solved, and a lot of anguish that things that didn’t need fixing got changed.

Critics note these downsides to FCP X:

  • It requires learning new software because it’s changed so dramatically.
  • It’s missing professional features.
  • Audio editing in layers is more difficult.
  • Organizing materials is completely different.

My goal is not to review Final Cut X, but to point out some of the most useful critiques and share reaction from journalists and journalism educators so you can decide whether to make the switch now, wait or choose new software entirely. Read more


Three companies answer 6 key questions about their iPad app development

It’s been just over a year since the launch of the iPad, and organizations that took a “wait and see” approach to developing apps are starting to jump in. If you’re at one of those places, there are a number of questions to address before you get started. While no solution will fit all situations, the questions are the same.

Here’s how three very different organizations — CNN, the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., and Better Homes and Gardens — answered six key questions as they developed their first apps for the iPad.

CNN has had mobile products of one kind or another since 1999; dozens of people now contribute to their mobile content and products. They were in the middle of several other projects when the iPad was released, so they decided to finish them and give themselves time to understand how it would be different from other platforms. Read more


Design mobile apps, sites for interruption and partial attention


The PC is like scuba-diving and mobile is like snorkeling, Rachel Hinman of Nokia told a group at the BAYCHI Interaction Design event this week. Luke Wroblewski’s notes from her talk make fascinating reading for anyone interested in the mobile user experience.

Hinman talked about what she considers the most important attributes of great mobile experiences: They are uniquely mobile, they are sympathetic to context, and they speak their power.

To design experiences that are uniquely mobile means realizing what mobile does well — it’s small, always with you and good for timely information — and use the constraints of the medium to help you focus.

To be effective in the mobile context, Hinman recommends designing for partial attention and interruption because mobile users need to be aware of what’s going on around them. Read more

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Mobile devices growing as tools for e-mail, shopping, multimedia

comScore / In-Stat / Opera Software

A mini-flurry of research out this week adds to the growing pile of information on how people are using mobile devices. So, in no particular order, here’s what we’re learning:

You’ll be shocked, I’m sure, to find we check e-mail on our phones. Seriously, the news here is that the number of users checking Web-based e-mail declined last year by about 6 percent, while the number of users checking e-mail via a mobile device grew 36 percent. Here’s one reason why that matters: How do your e-mail newsletters look on a mobile device?

Next up: Shopping on mobile devices continues to grow. Opera’s monthly State of the Mobile Web report looked at changes in how users of the Opera Mini browser interacted with over the year. Read more


Partnership between publisher and app developer results in top-selling iPhone game


A motocross game for the iPhone, developed by a small publisher and a game developer, is the 31st-highest selling paid app in the Apple App Store and number two among paid racing apps.

The partnership between Filter Publications, publisher of the motocross magazine Racer X Illustrated (circulation 60,000), and game developer Turborilla came about when Filter president Bryan Stealey saw the Mad Skills Motocross game on a computer.

” ‘We’d been toying with the idea that a publisher and a developer would make a good team,’ says Stealey. ‘It’s such a challenge for independent developers to get attention in a store with hundreds of thousands of apps, and we don’t really know how to make apps. Mad Skills Motocross was available on computers but because it’s a slide-scrolling arcade-style game, we thought it would be perfect for the iPhone.’ “

The resulting app, also named Mad Skills Motocross, debuted Jan. Read more


Remember these 5 trends in mobile for 2011

Momads in Video

Belgian mobile advertising/development firm Momads has produced an “Appy New Year” video that highlights five big-picture trends in mobile for 2011, all of which I think will have some application for journalists and publishers this coming year. If you keep up on mobile, none will surprise you, I suspect, but they are all worth keeping in mind.

The first is the most obvious: “The ‘faster than anything else’ consumer adoption rate of the mobile Web will only increase in 2011.”

You’ve heard it here, you’ve heard it everywhere, and we need to keep emphasizing this to decision-makers in newsrooms across the country. Don’t wait to treat your mobile product(s) seriously.

The last point may be the freshest: “Never heard of NFC? Read more


Why iPads are hot but iPad magazines aren’t

Joe Zeff Design

Magazine app sales are slumping on the iPad, and there has been a lot of good analysis of how much and why — after the initial good news — there’s been a pretty steep decline. In a post today on his blog, designer Joe Zeff lists three reasons he thinks it’s happened:

  • Publishers are competing against themselves by not differentiating their print and iPad versions.
  • Consumer habits are still evolving.
  • Digital magazines need a subscription model. (This point probably has the most consensus.)

Zeff suggests that the second and third points will work themselves out. But the first point means publishers need to reinvent, not just redesign, publications for the tablet interface. One example he cites is O Magazine’s iPad app, SketchBook O, which enables readers to participate in creative activities from the magazine and submit them directly to the publisher from the iPad. Read more

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