Articles about "Best Practices: Online and Multimedia"


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How talk radio listens to its audience, provides lessons for online publishers

Colin McEnroe of WNPR. Photo by Chion Wolf

Audience participation hasn’t been an easy undertaking for online news publishers. Thanks to the unruly culture of online commenting and the “sadistic” actions of Internet trolls, every few weeks another news site announces modifications to its online commenting policy. Among the changes seen lately: Read more

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SXSW Interactive and Film Festival attendees crowd the Austin Convention Center, Saturday, March 9, 2013 in Austin, Texas.(AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)

Poynter at SXSW: Welcome back to the WED dance

Editor’s Note: Poynter will be at South by Southwest, the annual music, movie and interactive festival, March 7-16, in Austin, Texas. Look for our Poynter faculty members, Roy Peter Clark, Ellyn Angelotti and Kelly McBride, and digital media reporter Sam Kirkland. Here is the first in a series of posts on what we’ll be doing at SXSW.

One of the great libels against newspapers is that they’re averse to change. It’s true that newspapers could have changed more to forestall their decline. But they have changed — the newspaper of 2014 little resembles the newspaper of 1984.

I recall Orwell’s famous year – 1984 – as a tumultuous one in the history of the news business. Old gray papers were suddenly filled with color. Vertical columns gave way to modular boxes. Word processors replaced typewriters, and new forms of news writing challenged the inverted pyramid. Page designers entered the building – some with little experience in journalism – bringing with them a new lingo about white space, grids, and color saturation. Women and minorities began to establish themselves in newsrooms, reforming our sense of mission and purpose.

These innovations challenged old ideas and created friction among the players. One memorable standoff pitted the “word” journalists against the “visual” journalists. The VJs disdained writers who produced endless columns of gray text, while the Wordinistas ridiculed designers who wasted news hole with poster pages that crowded out more important content.

That was the historical context in which I began to work with Mario Garcia, the man who in the last three decades has changed the face of news across the globe, redesigning newspapers, magazines, websites, and now tablets and mobile platforms. I was the first full-time teacher hired at the Poynter Institute. Mario was the second. I taught writing. He taught design. We came to admire each other’s work. What can I say, we fell in love.

And one day, we decided to get married.

That marriage, of course, was metaphorical, a union of the minds and of professional disciplines. Mario gave it the acronym WED, the marriage of Writing, Editing, and Design. The WED concept became the subject of numerous conferences, seminars, essays, and countless newsroom conversations across the globe. We even created avatars for ourselves (though we didn’t call them that back then), manifestations of our more single-minded points of view. My avatar was Raymond Burr, the actor who played Perry Mason, a solid gray eminence so stoic and purposeful he never seemed to smile. Representing Mario was the Brazilian film actress of the 1940s Carmen Miranda, a woman of a thousand colors and textures, often photographed with a headdress that looked like a bowl of fruit.

If Raymond Burr (who in real life was as gay as a day in May) hooked up with Carmen Miranda, Mario and I could have been their love twins.

The WED honeymoon turned into real work, a re-imagining of how creative and effective news organizations could be.

We imagined:

  • that the old assembly-line production model of news could not and should not survive.
  • that collaboration across disciplines would improve journalism and serve the public good.
  • that visual and word workers had more in common than they thought, including elements of craft such as focus, emphasis, shape, color, dimension, detail, information, the power of white space, and, most important, story.
  • that versatility would become an increasingly important virtue. Versatility did not require designers to write stories or writers to design pages – although we tried that in workshops — but it did require the development of a common critical vocabulary that allowed one craftperson to speak to another “without an accent.”

One example will suffice: I learned from designers that white space was a crucial element in the creation, say, of an informational graphic describing the primary causes of an economic downturn. That white space was an antidote to clutter, visual ventilation that let the page breathe and helped relax the reader. I took that concept and began to apply it to text. Turns out there’s white space within a story or report too. Most of it occurs in the margins. But within the text itself there are bars of white space that mark the end of one paragraph and the beginning of another. I teach journalists that the words immediately before that white space get special attention from the reader. Save a key word or phrase to use in that location, I tell them. It will play jazz.

One objection to the WED concept was that it did not include enough of the players or disciplines. Where was leadership? a colleague asked. Where was photography? Why limit the players? If we added leadership, they argued, it could become the LEWD concept. Well, I said, we could add Leadership, Photo, and Ownership and create the PLOWED concept. “Turn your weapons into plowshares,” could have been our motto.

But we never intended for our WED concept remain an exclusive club of three. Writing’s W included all the word workers in the shop. Design’s D included all the visual workers. And Editing’s E included all those in a position of leadership, who needed to build bridges across disciplines. The editor needed the ability to work with words and visuals the same way that the director of a film had to understand the elements of acting, cinematography, editing, music scoring, and all the other tools of filmmaking.

During Mario’s travels around the world as a news designer, it’s become clear to him — and now to me — that the values, virtues, and practices of WED are more important than ever. In the age of the Internet, more disciplines than ever must be integrated into the creative process — including, for example, computer programming, Big Data, stories written from Big Data, data visualization, and multimedia. Journalists of every stripe must work across platforms, including mobile delivery systems. Maybe in the morning, it’s our job to help the reader lean forward with her iPhone; or at night to lean back with his iPad.

So Mario and I would like to welcome you to iWED, the integrated marriage of writing, editing, and design – a collaborative process of planning and execution that gets the very best from all creative workers in the enterprise and produces multiple products designed to build audience and serve the public interest. The two of us know no better framework for balancing the enduring values of journalism with the innovations necessary in an age of tumultuous change.

Please join us at SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Monday, March 10, at 12:30 pm. Who knows? Maybe we will end our session, as we did 30 years ago, with a dance. Read more

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Some wooden cubes forming the word law, in front of a gavel. Digital illustration. (Depositphotos)

Who’s a journalist and other digital issues: media lawyers weigh in on #wjchat

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PoynterVision: how journalists can work with coders on projects

Understanding enough code for journalists to communicate with developers still isn’t enough, says Robert Hernandez, digital journalism professor at USC Annenberg and Poynter adjunct faculty. Watch the video to see what Hernandez recommends to help journalists work successfully with developers on data projects.


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PoynterVision: how NPR goes after emerging news audiences

Patrick Cooper, director of web and engagement at NPR, talks about trends that he sees coming in news audiences. In particular, he pays attention to fragmented audiences, the way audiences divide their time among devices, and the challenges that come with capturing those individuals. Cooper, who spoke at Poynter’s Future of News Audiences conference Jan. 26-27, offers us insights into NPR’s approach in drawing audiences.


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What you can learn about video storytelling from the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial

I often use commercials as ways to teach journalists how to write compelling stories. Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” Super Bowl commercial gives me one of the best examples of video storytelling that I have seen in years.

So let me walk you frame-by-frame through the ad. The story teaches us how to build tension, how to use the “rule of threes,” how to find narrow focus and how to build to the big explosion at the end of the piece — the payoff.

Great stories have so much in common with this commercial. They have tension, context and an explosion of action. They are highly focused and don’t get distracted by characters who never pay off. You don’t need music, horses or puppies to tell a story.  Stick to the fundamentals that work every time. Read more

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PoynterVision: For Journalism teaches journos to code

Dave Stanton introduces For Journalism, a platform aiming to equip journalists with technical skills to succeed in data journalism jobs.

Stanton, ringleader of the Kickstarter-backed project, and a stellar team of working journalists including those from NPR, ProPublica and the Associated Press have created courses with screencasts, code repositories and discussion forums targeted at mid-career journalists, students and professors. Participants work on real-world projects that can be implemented immediately in the newsroom.


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Related: Live chat on what students need to know about code and data viz | PoynterVision: Create a data résumé | Live chat on how journalists can learn to code — and why it’s important Read more

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Independent tech reporter Brian Krebs poses with the source of a recent scoop — a credit card reader at a local Target. (Photo by Mark Stencel)

Tech reporter Brian Krebs hacks it on his own, one scoop at a time

Independent tech reporter Brian Krebs poses with the source of a recent scoop — a credit card reader at a local Target. (Photo by Mark Stencel)

Few news stories in the past month landed on homepages and front pages with a louder thud than the theft of credit and debit card information from millions of Target customers.

The Target break-in was the latest scoop for Brian Krebs, an independent technology reporter who writes at KrebsOnSecurity.com. Brian, 41, has made the Internet’s seedy side his beat and his livelihood since The Washington Post cut him loose four years ago. Read more

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Understanding opportunities and challenges in sponsored content (Replay chat)

Shane Snow, cofounder with two friends of Contently, manages a network of 25,000 freelancers. According to Contently’s website, the sweet spot where these freelancers thrive is creating content for “brands, nonprofits, and lean new media companies.”

Snow and his team, described as a mashup of journalists and nerds, are on the front edge of branded content or native advertising.

Forbes, a Contently client, recognized Snow this month in “30 under 30: These People are Building the Media Companies of Tomorrow.”

Snow joined us for a live chat on the opportunities, challenges and values of sponsored content.

Participants asked Snow about the ins and outs of branded content.

Twitter users can participate in any Poynter live chat using the hashtag #poynterchats. You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat after it has ended. You can find the archive of all past chats at www.poynter.org/chats.

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PoynterVision: @webjournalist on how he builds his personal brand

How has Robert Hernandez created a successful persona on Twitter as @webjournalist with over 11,500 followers? He says he decided to be just who he is.

Hernandez, digital journalism professor at USC Annenberg, adjunct faculty at Poynter and music fan, told me that he talks about the many projects he has started, including #wjchat for journalists to discuss media topics via Twitter or beta testing Google Glass, and he tells jokes and quotes song lyrics.

His parting advice: “Be genuine when you engage with others,” he wrote in a Twitter direct message to me. “Be genuine in who you follow and learn from.”


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Related: Tips for Storytellers: Your personal brand | How journalists can build their own powerful brands | As brands start building digital newsrooms, what do they need to succeed? Read more

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