Featured sites and expert advice for using the Web


Top 8 Secrets of How to Write an Upworthy Headline

The best thing I’ve read about the story sharing network Upworthy was written by Katy Waldman for Slate and was republished in my local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. I had been alerted earlier by colleagues to a now famous trademark of Upworthy’s approach to information sharing: its three-line headline style.

That style…

See Why We Have An Absolutely
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Just 37 Seconds

…has been praised for being irresistibly attractive and attacked for being cynically exploitative. For the moment, I don’t have a dog in that fight.

My angle is on the writing front. I spent some time on Upworthy and paid special attention to the headlines to determine not just what the writers were trying to do, but how they were trying to do it.… Read more


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lessons from HuffingtonPost.com

The HuffingtonPost.com’s meteoric rise in traffic in the past year has caused a lot of people to take notice. What is it about this blog-based site that has made it so successful?

The site, built on Movable Type blogging software, is a mix of news, blogs and commentary on everything from politics and media to business and the environment.

According to Nielsen Online, the site had 4.7 million unique visitors in May, a 255 percent increase from a year earlier, when it had 1.3 million uniques, according to Nielsen Online.

And the site has big plans: it is working on launching local editions, starting with Chicago.

In an e-mail Q&A, co-founder Arianna Huffington talks about the site’s biggest mistake, lessons media organizations could learn from The Huffington Post, and the future of news.… Read more


Thursday, Apr. 24, 2008

Statewide Coverage: Finding and Filling Some Gaps

The Zonie Report is an online, independent media site that covers statewide issues in an unusual way.

At a time when news organizations are struggling for innovative ways to cover state news (see the recent story sharing partnership in Ohio), it could be a model for independent sites in other states.

The site, which is updated weekly, uses text, audio, video and slideshows to cover how Arizona is changing, tackling subjects as diverse as air pollution and battles over Native American lands.

The multimedia stories are a team effort. For example, a story we’re publishing next week is a profile of the Grand Canyon superintendent. A reporter and I spent a day at the canyon with the park superintendent just days after a biologist died there of the plague.
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Wednesday, Apr. 09, 2008

Pulitzers and the Web

Online journalism is increasingly playing a role in the Pulitzer Prizes.

The Pulitzers first allowed Web elements to be submitted starting in 1999, when they opened up the Public Service category.

In 2005, a journalist at a weekly newspaper won a Pulitzer for a story he broke on the web (more details here).

In 2006, the Pulitzer Board modified the rules to allow online components to be included as part of submissions in all 14 journalism categories.

I asked Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, a few questions about how the Web factored into this year’s decisions. Here are his answers, followed by links to the online components included with winning entries.

Jon Dube: To what degree did online work factor into the decisions of the judges this year?… Read more


Sunday, Mar. 16, 2008

Creating a ‘Primary Place’ for Citizens Online

New Hampshire Public Radio has spearheaded one of the more ambitious and innovative uses of the Web during the election so far.

The station created a citizen media Web site, Primary Place Online (PPO), as a companion to a year-long radio series that followed the residents of a New Hampshire town throughout the 2008 presidential primary.

One voter told NHPR, “I didn’t use it just to vent my own view; in fact, I used it to help make my decision in the election.”

As part of this project, residents of Exeter, N.H., (population about 15,000) were invited to describe their thoughts on the candidates and the campaigns. By the end of the project, there were 187 registered users; of those, 72 posted at least once and the total number of posts and comments was 275.… Read more


Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008

Behind CNN’s New Citizen Media Site

Note: After seven wonderful
years of Web Tips columns, we’re going to broaden our focus from Web-based reporting tools to the variety of ways journalists are
using the Web.  We hope you’ll stick with us for Web Tips 2.0.

news organizations are looking for ways to tap their audiences for
photos, videos and eyewitness reports. But many still struggle with how
to embrace user-generated content while still ensuring accuracy and

After a year-and-a-half of experience soliciting
material from its audiences, CNN is embarking on a new approach worth

Earlier this month, CNN launched a new site
dedicated to user-generated content that is unmoderated — basically, a
news version of YouTube. The site, currently in “beta” or test mode,
can be viewed at iReport.com.… Read more


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Find out What People Are Saying Online

Wondering what new parents really think about co-sleeping and Ferberizing? Or what Harry Potter fans are saying about the possible spoilers circulating around the Internet? Whatever your subject, find out what folks are saying online using Omgili, a relatively new site that searches online discussions very effectively.

Omgili’s engine scans millions of online discussions on more than 100,000 message boards and forums.

On each search page, you also get an online buzz graph showing you how many discussion posts were made each day for the past month. Click on any day, and you get a list of all of those discussions.

In addition to the general search, check out Omgili Buzz, which gives a daily overview of the most popular discussion topics in areas such as videos, movies, news, games, DVDs and books.… Read more


Thursday, Apr. 26, 2007


I recently sent around a YouTube video I had created about one of my journalism heroes, Reggie Stuart, corporate recruiter for McClatchy. You can see the piece and video about Stuart at this link – or just watch the video below.

Bill Mitchell
, editor of Poynter Online, had a suggestion:

What would you think of doing next week’s Web Tip pegged to this item — a how-to that explains what you used to capture the video, how you uploaded it, how you embedded the YouTube code in your blog page, etc.

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It’s the kind of basic skill more and more in our audience(s) are looking for, and I think it would have equal relevance to editors (charged with getting people to do this kind of work) and to reporters (who need to learn the hands-on)…

I have learned to obey Bill’s gentle suggestions, so here goes.… Read more


Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2007

Tracking Web Buzz

The increasing popularity of sites that let users submit, save and vote for Web pages they find online means that journalists have great new tools at their fingertips for finding story ideas.

Sites like Digg.com, del.icio.us and YouTube.com should be regular stops for all journalists. But there are now dozens of these sites, so tracking all of them can be time-consuming (unless you use RSS — see this tip on RSS for Journalists).

A great site to help you track all of these easily is popurls.com.

The site lists the top stories and Web pages that have been highlighted by users on a range of social bookmarking and citizen media sites, including:

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Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2007

Tracking Media Changes

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2006 Edition of Save This Tip: Sree & Jon

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Keeping up with all the media changes around us isn’t easy. For years, I’ve kept a set of old-fashioned files, filled with clippings and Web printouts. I also kept some files on my computer that I would send around when reporters would call to ask about new-media developments.
Recently, I have taken another approach. I now have an easily accessible Web page where I have been adding articles for my students and me to read. I have been told it’s useful by folks who have seen it, so I am sharing it with you.
Read more