Articles about "Blogging"


Tips for Storytellers: How to make photos better

As a designer and editor, my projects have been made infinitely better because I’ve worked with stellar photojournalists. They’ve patiently schooled me on the importance of capturing the moment, finding the best light and thinking about composition. Here are a few tips. Part of a series of graphics with tips for storytellers, think of this as bite-sized inspiration. Next Friday: How to create your online portfolio and personal brand.

Quinn-fo-graphics: How to make photos better

For a PDF: Quinn-fo-graphics: How to make photos better

Related: How to make the most of your tweets | How to get your video right |
How to polish your writing Read more

overall dashboard screenshot

A journalist’s guide to using Tumblr

This morning I wrote about how some newsrooms use Tumblr, but getting to know the site can take awhile. So here’s a quick guide to using Tumblr, with Poynter’s Tumblr page as a reference.

This is the Tumblr Dashboard, the first thing Tumblr users see when they visit the site. This is Poynter’s Dash, but each user’s Dash will look a bit different, depending on what blogs each user follows.

From the Dashboard, users can access most of the key Tumblr functions — it’s the hub for making and sharing posts. Users scroll down — and can keep scrolling down — to read posts from the Tumblrs they follow. As you can see, the first post in our feed (when the screenshot was taken) was from the Pulitzer Center’s Tumblr.

If a user wants to make their own post, they can do so with the toolbar at the top of their Dashboard. These are the general posts they can make, but there’s room for crossover. Users can embed photos, video and media like tweets in text posts; they can add text to photo, link, audio and video posts, and so on.

Laura Oliver, community manager at the Guardian, said Tumblr’s versatility was what drew the publication to the platform.

“The ability to add text, pictures and audio, and to reblog others’ content… was something we were keen to try out as a multimedia reporting tool, and to experiment with different ways of presenting and embedding this content on”

Above are a few posts from blogs that Poynter follows, as they appeared on our feed. Posts from the blogs users follow are aggregated into a single stream.

Outlets may develop a certain editorial voice through the content they post and share, but they also contribute to the ecosystem and tone of the users’ feed. Users can curate their feed to reflect their values and are far likelier to encounter an organization’s post through their blogroll rather than via the organization’s Tumblr homepage.

Here are two more posts, from the BBC Breaking News blog and a popular blog called Brotips. Regardless of the subject matter, each post gets relatively equal weight – the only thing that will change the size of the post is the amount of content in each post.

Here are some statistics from the right-hand side of the Dashboard; they’re for the Poynter Institute’s Tumblr. We have 499 published posts and 1,231 followers; users can click each on their own Dashboards to see the posts they’ve made and who follows them, respectively. If a user wants to save a post in the middle of working on it, they can save the post as a draft; if they don’t want to publish it immediately after finishing it, they can schedule it to be posted at a specific time and date, or they can add it to the Queue, and Tumblr will space out the posts at the rate you specify. Both scheduled and queued posts are listed in the Queue.

Users on Tumblr are generally able to keep track of new content in their feed; that’s hard to do with a site like Twitter unless you’re constantly perched on the homepage. As a result, says Colleen Shalby of PBS NewsHour, the environment on Tumblr is different than Twitter.

“To stay pertinent on [Twitter and Facebook] you kind of have to be a part of the conversation constantly…there’s not a need to be with [Tumblr] 24/7.”

These are the notifications you’ll get when a user or follower interacts with your posts. Liking a post on Tumblr is akin to liking a post on Facebook, whereas reblogging a post on Tumblr means the post will also be posted to the user’s own feed, with information about where the post came from. For example, if someone reblogs a post from our account, it will say “Reblogged from Poynter” at the top of the post. It’s a way of sharing others’ content with your own followers.

A little more on sharing: In the top right corner of each post, you’ll see icons like this. Depending on the type of post, you may see all or only a few of them.

  • The box with the number in it is the number of notes each post has received. Posts get a note each time a person likes or reblogs the post, from anyone. The note count here is 287; that means since the first person made the original post, 287 people have liked or reblogged the post (or that a smaller number of people have done both). It is a cumulative count.
  • The rectangular outline with an arrow allows you to share the post outside of Tumblr. At the moment, you can access the permalink to the post or email the post.
  • Some posts may ask a question or for input. They’ll be accompanied by the chat bubble, which you can click and then type a response to the post. It will be listed under the post. (The chat bubble isn’t shown in the above image, but it looks like a speech bubble in a comic book.)
  • The two arrows headed in opposite directions represent reblogging. If you reblog a post, it will be posted to your own blog and show up in your followers’ feeds.
  • The heart button is what users click to like a post.

If look at the bottom of the Vanity Fair post, you’ll see hashtags. Tagging works on Tumblr the same way it works on sites like Twitter and Instagram.

Some tags are very popular on Tumblr – they range from things like “politics” and “history” to “nail art” and “photography.” Because of the massive influx of posts with these tags, it can be hard to sort through to find high-quality posts or posts of widespread merit. For these tags, Tumblr tasks editors with searching through Tumblr for posts to tag with the popular labels. Those tagged posts are given preferential placement in search results for the tags.

Some users prefer to avoid content geared toward more adult or mature audiences; Tumblr doesn’t ban users from posting porn, while individual users may want to avoid it. Safe Dash blocks posts that are NSFW from fully loading. If there’s an image in a post that’s tagged #NSFW (or a similar tag), the image won’t automatically load; users will have to click to load it.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tumblr for journalists, check out NewsU’s webinar on best practices for the platform. Read more

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Tumblr Chief Executive David Karp.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

How some news orgs use Tumblr

What do you do with a blog service full of cat GIFs and memes? If you’re Yahoo, you buy it for $1.1 billion. If you’re a media outlet, you use Tumblr as an extension of your brand.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Tumblr Chief Executive David Karp. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The platform, founded by David Karp in 2007, is home to more than 108 million blogs and more than 50 billion individual posts. Tumblr pages take seconds to set up, and users range from individuals like John Green to companies like IBM. Even the White House has a Tumblr.

Tumblr makes it easy for users to post quickly, and those posts can be just about anything, like a long text post, a photo with a link or a video. Because of Tumblr’s versatility — and because it lets users interact with one another — many news organizations have joined and made Tumblr blogs to share their coverage or communicate with their audiences. There’s room for blogs with just about any purpose, so here’s a look at how several outlets use the site. (And here’s a more hands-on guide.)

Answering readers’ practical questions

The San Francisco Chronicle uses its Tumblr not as a platform to share content but as a means to address subscriber service concerns. Now that the site has a paywall for SFChron, it helps both paying subscribers, as well as those who follow the Chronicle on its main website, SFGate.

Matt Dickon, who runs the Chronicle’s service Tumblr and Twitter accounts, said he prefers to respond to subscriber and reader concerns on Tumblr rather than through an email service, because of the immediacy of sending and receiving messages on Tumblr.

“Sometimes within a minute of a question coming in, I’m writing an answer,” he said by phone. Anyone with a Tumblr account can send a message or question, under their handle, to the account; those without an account can submit a question anonymously.

Dickow said using Tumblr for troubleshooting is more direct than an email submission and reporting process because the questions come straight to him rather than being sent to a general email address and then sorted by a software program.

He can also answer questions and post them publicly on the Tumblr; as long as the questions are general concerns, the information is be applicable to others with similar problems.

“So long as [subscribers] bookmark the page, they have access to the information,” he said.

Engaging audiences and creating new content

Audience engagement is key to the success of an outlet’s Tumblr. Two Tumblrs in particular exemplify good audience engagement: NPR’s family of Tumblrs, and I Love Charts.

NPR has built a group of Tumblr blogs, from a general NPR Tumblr to Tumblrs for programs like Fresh Air and Wait Wait.. Don’t Tell Me. Each blog is run by different teams, but they follow a similar layout and design style so the group looks unified.

“If you look at each one of the Tumblrs, they’re each run differently,” Wright Bryan, an editor on NPR’s social media desk, said by phone. Bryan was part of the team that made the first, general NPR Tumblr.

I spoke with Bryan and Kate Myers, NPR’s product manager for social media, about NPR’s all-purpose Tumblr and several user submission projects the station has run.

“We are using Tumblr as an editorial engine,” Myers said by phone. She explained that several NPR campaigns run through Tumblr – like the “Dear Mr. President” campaign – were made possible because NPR is used to this sort of user engagement, and because its existing audience is invested in the station.

For example, I explained to Bryan and Myers that I had grown up listening to NPR with my family, but once I went to college, I no longer had a car and didn’t listen to the radio in my spare time. However, I still feel a connection to NPR and follow it on Tumblr and my other social media accounts.

“I’ve heard that story so many times,” said Bryan. “Now the only way that this group of people [younger people] is getting our content is on the Web, on a podcast, through social platforms…It’s critical that we be there, I think, to meet those people where they are.”

Myers agreed, and said that engagement on social media platforms fits with NPR’s overall strategy to engage listeners. Developing a relationship with listeners on the radio is a one-way conversation; interaction between the station and listeners on Tumblr is a “natural outgrowth” of that relationship, she said.

“You feel like it’s a one-on-one conversation,” she said of NPR’s programming.“[It] sends the message that we’re invested in what they bring to the table.”

Evidence of the listener-station relationship is evident in several NPR projects run through Tumblr. Morning Edition’s “Cook Your Cupboard” Tumblr helps listeners figure out what they can rustle up with leftover or odd foodstuffs. She-Works, another NPR Tumblr, is a congruent effort with the “Changing Lives of Women” series that airs on several NPR programs. They also use the general Tumblr to hype NPR apps and special projects.

Another Tumblr, I Love Charts, leverages the same kind of content submission, and also allows for guest curation. The blog is full of niche content: if it’s data, emotion or some other quantifiable information expressed in a chart or graph, it’s relevant to the blog.

“We’re just lucky to have a very identifiable angle,” Jason Oberholtzer, who runs the Tumblr, said by phone.

Oberholtzer finds and reblogs content on his own, but he also uses submissions for a significant portion of the blog’s content. “We have a fairly large community of submitters,” he said.

Oberholtzer also explained that he lets some bloggers curate the blog for a day as a “chartist-in-residence,” which means they’re in charge of all the content published on the blog. They can reblog content or upload original work. Chartists have included Dante Shepherd of Surviving the World, Kelly and Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and The Weekly Weinersmith and artist Wendy MacNaughton.

“I give them the day,” Oberholtzer said. “The general guidelines are, we try to get out 10-12 posts a day… [and] they have access to our entire inbox of submitted charts.”

The success of I Love Charts has helped Oberholtzer in other ventures; he was offered a column by Forbes after running I Love Charts for about a year and a half, and there’s now an “I Love Charts” book, based on the blog.

Sharing content, regardless of source

The nature of Tumblr comes down to sharing content with followers. Most, if not all, news Tumblrs share others’ content in addition to their own coverage.

“We can’t cover everything, and we don’t report on everything… [that] doesn’t mean that another story isn’t worth attention,” Colleen Shalby, social media editor for PBS NewsHour, said in a phone interview. Shalby said the NewsHour Tumblr doesn’t just share its own content; it reblogs (shares a post from another Tumblr) or posts links to other outlets’ coverage.

One of the most popular posts from their Tumblr, a Roger Ebert quote posted after he died, “wasn’t even our piece of content.” Sharing others’ content isn’t just about getting notes, however.

“Using Tumblr is a bit about showing your organization’s personality, and that’s not just feeding the beast to get people back to the website,” she said.

Another outlet, native to Tumblr, uses the website to share media news. The Future Journalism Project, run by Michael Cervieri, shares news from other outlets by virtue of its positioning and angle.

“I had played with Tumblr beforehand, just kind of personal stuff, so I kind of knew what the community was like on there,” said Cervieri in a phone interview. “The decision was, let’s go to where the community is and see if we can build an audience.”

Cervieri writes posts about media news to share on the Tumblr, and will frequently reblog posts and add news to them. The Tumblr also aggregates news from other outlets, much like Poynter’s MediaWire blog on our homepage. News organizations have to be sure to share source information about what they’re posting; as Oberholtzer explained to me about I Love Charts, it’s important to be diligent about giving sources proper credit.

In fact, I’ve also tried to strike a balance between sharing our own content, and sharing others’ content, while running the Poynter Institute Tumblr. While I want to share the content we produce, it’s important that our Tumblr isn’t just a feed of the content we’ve published on our website. If it were, it wouldn’t interest people who already read our website, and if we published all of Poynter’s content on Tumblr, those who follow us on Tumblr would have no reason to visit our homepage. That’s why it’s important to have unique content on both.

Sharing one’s own content

While sharing third party content helps to develop voice, publications would have less of an incentive to create Tumblrs if it didn’t present an opportunity to share their own content. For some publications, Tumblr’s quirky and eclectic tone is a reflection of the publication.

“We do view [Tumblr] as a place where we talk about what we love and are interested in, a little bit separate from what we’re covering on a day to day and month to month basis,” Mark McClusky, editor of, said about the magazine’s Tumblr in an email interview. “That tone probably is closer to the magazine and website’s tone than some other brands Tumblrs are. We’re a brand that marries the intellectual and the obscure, and that reflects on the Tumblr.”

However, Tumblr also resonates with the voices of other publications that focus on straight news.

“We generally reflect the tone of the Guardian on Tumblr – so sometimes we can be very tongue-in-cheek,” Hannah Waldram, community coordinator for news at the Guardian, said in an email interview. For the Guardian, Tumblr is also a place to publish content that might not make it onto the front page.

“We sometimes do ‘behind the scenes’ posts or extra bits of reporting or insider knowledge on a news story,” Waldram said. Waldram also said the Guardian has covered specific news in greater depth on Tumblr based on the community’s interests. For example, when opposition to SOPA and PIPA was popular on Tumblr, the Guardian’s Tumblr highlighted the publication’s existing coverage.

The Guardian has also launched a special Tumblr project, called English to English, that points out incongruities in English as it’s spoken in the U.K. versus American English. The project takes advantage of Tumblr’s lighter tone as well as user interactivity; it publishes Guardian-produced posts, as well as reader submissions.

Tumblr-specific content is important to other publications’ social media strategy, too.

“One part of our strategy … is creating custom content specifically for social platforms, instead of just re-purposing content,” Anjali Mullany, digital news director for Fast Company, said of the publication’s social media strategy, in an email interview. “We may cover one story different ways for different platforms, or we may cover news on one of our social platforms that we did not cover on our website,” she said in a follow-up email.

Tumblr-specific content isn’t just about providing additional coverage; it also lets users get a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite publications.

“In some ways, Tumblr feels a bit like ‘MinnPost after dark.’ We approach things with more humor or snark — within reason — and try to show the personality of the organization,” Kaeti Hinck, director of news technology at MinnPost, an online-only Minnesota publication, said by email.

For example, during MinnRoast (a roast of the state), the team published photos of speakers to  MinnPost’s Tumblr that weren’t published on the website. And the Tumblr doesn’t just reflect MinnPost’s Minnesota-centric coverage; it also commiserates with its audience.  Hinck said the tone on the Tumblr reflected how MinnPost can relate to users on the platform.

“Minnesota has a strong local Tumblr contingent, so when I took over the MinnPost account a few years back I tried to connect with that community as much as possible. You can’t jump into an ecosystem completely blind to what’s going on around you and expect to be effective,” she said.

Overall, MinnPost’s attitude toward Tumblr reflects what the other publications know, too. Using the platform to promote the exact same content that’s published in print or on their own websites won’t work; instead, the platform is most successful as a tool for audience engagement. In fact, when I asked several of the people in this article what kind of traffic they get from their Tumblrs, they all said that that wasn’t the point of their publication’s Tumblr. Instead, it’s about developing a relationship with the Tumblr audience and sharing new content with their existing audiences.

“It’s so important to pay attention to what your peers and readers are doing on Tumblr, and to support that work,” Hinck said. “It’s a pay-it-forward sort of mentality: The more generous you are with sharing the work and content that other people create, the more your own presence will grow.”

Related: A journalist’s guide to using Tumblr | Journalists learn what works (& doesn’t work) on Tumblr | Tumblr for Journalists: Best Practices and Strategies (Poynter NewsU) Read more

1 Comment

Ann Coulter makes reference to killing blogger Meghan McCain in controversial column

Fox News | Huffington Post | | New York

Fox News has apparently taken down a column written by Ann Coulter that made a reference to killing blogger Meghan McCain in order to push Republicans to vote for gun-control laws.

The column in question, published on Fox Nation Wednesday, made the apparent joke to point out what it would take for Republicans to join Democrats in passing gun-control legislation. The post, which is still available on Coulter’s own blog, began:

Obama has been draping himself in families of the children murdered in Newtown.

MSNBC’s Martin Bashir suggested that Republican senators need to have a member of their families killed for them to support the Democrats’ gun proposals. (Let’s start with Meghan McCain!)

Read more


N.J. judge revives blogger vs. journalist debate

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Union County, N.J., prosecutors demanded Tina Renna give them “the names of 16 government officials who she accused online of misusing county generators after Hurricane Sandy,” Lilly Chapa reports. Renna claimed privilege, and Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy has ordered a hearing “to further discuss whether Renna is a journalist as defined under the state shield law,” Chapa writes.

Renna’s blog The County Watchers chronicles county employees who make six-figure incomes, challenges the county’s finances and posts videos from meetings. Prosecutors, Chapa writes, “have argued that Renna cannot be defined as a journalist because she was involved in politics in the past and the blog is biased and often critical of the Union County government.”

“I’m a journalist,” Renna told Chapa. “If I can’t protect my sources I’m out of business. I wouldn’t want people to give me information that would put them in danger, and I don’t see why they’d want to do that either.”

The (Newark) Star-Ledger editorial board supported Renna, writing:

New Jersey applies its shield law liberally, and it shouldn’t hinge on whether someone is a professional, nonpartisan or even reliable journalist. It’s a functional test: Does Renna gather information that’s in the public interest and publish it? Yes. What’s at issue here is whether she’s connected to the news media.

That’s the challenge: If we let any blogger be covered by the shield law, so many people will claim the privilege that the exception could swallow up the rule. A line must be drawn, but the courts haven’t identified one. So it depends on the facts of each case.

In this case, they conclude, “Yes, she can be a little wild, she’s not the same as a professional reporter and she drives local officials crazy. But part of democracy is putting up with Tina Renna.”

Related: Crystal Cox was a recent focus of blogger-vs.-journalist scuffles: “most journalists will not want to include Cox in their camp,” Kashmir Hill wrote in 2011 (Forbes) | Debate about Crystal Cox blogging case misses a key legal point (Poynter) Read more


Andrew Sullivan announces shift to independent, reader-funded blog

Daily Beast
After six years of affiliating his popular blog with major media companies Time, The Atlantic and most recently the Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan announced he’s returning to independence.

As of Feb. 1, the blog will live at without any ads, sponsors or investment backing. Just Sullivan and a couple of colleagues blogging — and hopefully, readers paying. Sullivan is asking for $19.99 a year to subscribe (“around a nickel a day”).

Sullivan calls it “the purest, simplest model for online journalism: you, us, and a meter. Period. No corporate ownership, no advertising demands, no pressure for pageviews … just a concept designed to make your reading experience as good as possible, and to lead us not into temptation.” Read more

1 Comment

Most journalists now get story ideas from social media sources, survey says

Oriella |
An annual global survey of journalists by public relations firm Oriella finds that more than half now use social media as a source of story ideas, and nearly half use blogs to find angles and ideas.

Among journalists in North America, the rates were even higher — 62 percent said they draw news from trusted sources on Twitter or Facebook, while 64 percent rely on well-known blogs as a source of story ideas. However, journalists said they were much less inclined to use information from an unfamiliar social media user or blog.

The study’s findings are significant, but so is its margin of error: It’s based on an online survey of 613 journalists in 16 countries, with likely fewer than 100 respondents in the U.S. and Canada. Read more


Journalism professor accepts challenge to blog for Business Insider

College Media Matters | Business Insider
When University of Tampa journalism professor Dan Reimold criticized Business Insider financial blogger Joe Weisenthal, Henry Blodget responded that Reimold “would fail miserably” if he tried to keep up with Weisenthal’s around-the-clock blogging and tweeting. Reimold responds, “Sir, just name the day.  I’ll pay for my own plane ticket.”  Blodget writes:

Let us know when you’ll be here (we can help with the place to stay). We’ll give you a desk right near Joe Weisenthal and you can crank for as long as you like. And we’ll also document the whole thing–our readers will love it. Can’t wait!

It looks like this thing is on. Read more


Elizabeth Flock will blog for U.S. News & World Report

Elizabeth Flock, who resigned from The Washington Post in April after a misattributed blog post drew a gnarly editor’s note, has a new gig. She’ll be lead writer on U.S. News & World Report’s Washington Whispers blog, which was written by Paul Bedard before he decamped for The Washington Examiner.

Reached by phone, Flock mostly referred me to her tweet announcing her new job. She said the social issues piece would mean writing about race, gender and immigration.

Post Ombudsman Patrick Pexton weighed in on Flock’s departure in April, saying the paper had failed her. He wrote that he had spoken to other bloggers there.

They said that they felt as if they were out there alone in digital land, under high pressure to get Web hits, with no training, little guidance or mentoring and sparse editing. Guidelines for aggregating stories are almost nonexistent, they said. And they believe that, even if they do a good job, there is no path forward. Will they one day graduate to a beat, covering a crime scene, a city council or a school board? They didn’t know. So some left; others are thinking of quitting.

Read more
1 Comment

Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal is more prolific than you’ll ever be

“In the intensely competitive world of financial blogging, dominated by young men who work long hours and comment on every new development, Weisenthal stands apart by starting earlier, writing more, publishing faster.

“During the course of an average 16-hour day, Weisenthal writes 15 posts, ranging from charts with a few lines of explanatory text to several hundred words of closely reasoned analysis. He manages nearly a dozen reporters, demanding and redirecting story ideas. He fiddles incessantly with the look and contents of the site. And all the while he holds a running conversation with the roughly 19,000 people who follow his Twitter alter ego, the Stalwart. He spars, jokes, asks and answers questions, advertises his work and, in the spirit of our time, reports on his meals, his whereabouts and whatever else is on his mind….

“Some of what he writes is air and sugar. Some of it is wrong or incomplete or misleading. But he delivers jolts of sharp, original insight often enough to hold the attention of a high-powered audience that includes economists like The Times columnist Paul Krugman and Wall Street heavies like the hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass and the bond investor Jeff Gundlach.”

Binyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times Magazine