Here are 4 NewsU Webinars that didn’t age well

April 7, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

Friday, April 10 is the 10th anniversary of Poynter’s News University. In addition to other celebrations going on around Poynter, we’ve pulled together a series of lists from NewsU’s work from the past 10 years.

You have to give it to them. After 400 years of printing press hegemony, news organizations have scrambled to keep up with changes in technology. And News University has been there with them, with courses about coding languages, new social media networks and more.

But technology changes fast. We frequently need to add new courses and cull the ones that have lost relevancy. Here are fun lessons of yesteryear from four Webinars that might as well be from the Stone Age (and long unpublished from our site) and four you should try instead.

The old:twitterforjournos
Twitter for Journalists: New Channels, New Cycles for News
In the first five minutes, we promise to make you “twitterate” and share a slew of words from the “twittonary.” Thankfully, the dark days of Twitter portmanteaus are largely dead.

  • Twitter users are called “twitterers,” “tweeps” or “tweeters.” Spammy users are known as “twerps.”
  • Use link shorteners like TinyURL so you don’t waste your precious 140 characters.
  • Make separate accounts for your professional and private lives.

Try this instead:
You are What You Tweet: How to Engage with Your Readers on Twitter
Closing in on a decade later, being an engaging Twitter user has practically become formulaic: use hashtags, reply to other users, live tweet events, use photos and retweet other people.

  • Live tweeting court cases, award shows, breaking news or sports is the fastest way to grow your followers.
  • Tweet photos to double your engagement.
  • Audio hosted on SoundCloud or iTunes can play inside a tweet.

The old:flash
Flash for Journalists: 10 Things You Need To Know
Learn how to “work with your colleagues who are Flash developers a little more effectively.” Here’s a lesson that’s more relevant to today: If you have colleagues who are primarily Flash developers, you might consider finding a new job.

  • Because everybody can play Flash videos, it is the leading platform for video online.
  • Flash will “probably never” work on your brand new iPhone.
  • All of the terminal displays in J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboot are Flash animations.

Try this instead:
Using Design Thinking to Build New News Products
Flash suffered a quick and merciless death after Apple declined to support it in its iOS products. More open systems like HTML5 and CSS3, combined with new developments in Javascript and various back-end languages, stepped in to fill the void. Design thinking combines these new possibilities with a focus on human needs and business success.

  • Set up small, multi-disciplinary teams to work on new news products.
  • Ditch long meetings for chat tools like Slack, Hipchat or IRC.
  • Instead of starting from scratch, use existing templates and tools like Bootstrap, Foundation or WordPress.

The old:oldphone
Multimedia Tools: Your 2009 Shopping List
Back in the days when iPhones couldn’t shoot video, many of us carried around Flip cameras and gloated about how we could film in HD from a device the size of a pack of cigarettes. This Webinar only featured one app suggestion because apps were still a new concept at the time.

  • You can work from the field if you install a broadband card from your mobile service provider into your laptop.
  • A phone with a QWERTY keyboard can keep you connected to your newsroom, but text messages will cost you 15 to 20 cents per message.
  • Some Mercedes Benz cars and Dodge Rams have Wi-Fi so you can use the Internet on the road.

Try this instead:
Tools for Mobile Journalism 2015
There are more apps available for journalists now than anyone could ever hope to learn. But we’re trying to learn and catalog them all anyway with our digital tools project. This Webinar, featuring yours truly, showcased some of the best tools of early 2015. I hope somebody makes fun of my digital tool suggestions on NewsU’s 15th birthday.

  • Use IF (formerly If This Then That) to augment your reporting, even if you have no coding skills. Set it up to save all tweets with a specific hashtag to a Google Spreadsheet, have all new items on an RSS feed sent to your email or get a push notification every time a specific person tweets.
  • If you’re on Android (and have a firm understanding of state-by-state phone recording laws), there’s probably no better app than Automatic Call Recorder to record incoming and outgoing phone conversations.
  • Build beautiful stories with text, photos and video from your phone with Storehouse.

The old:
Moving From Print to Web Design: 5 Things to Know
This 2009 Webinar for print designers is still incredibly relevant. It highlights the challenges of moving to Web design and how to overcome them. Not so relevant: the screenshots of websites heavy with Flash interactivity and HTML table-based designs. These lessons remain true, though:

  • A fundamental understanding of HTML and CSS is crucial to understanding what’s possible online, even if you don’t code on a day-to-day basis.
  • Print designers have less control over their designs on the Web. Thousands of different devices and screen sizes make it impossible to know that an element will render as the designer imagined it.
  • Unlike a newspaper, where content can only live in one section, online articles can exist across categories and even sites. That means more exposure.

Try this instead:
Innovation and Storytelling: Master Class with Mario Garcia
Mario Garcia has designed and redesigned hundreds of news publications across the world in his 40-year career. He successfully moved from print to digital and has authored books storytelling on tablet devices. In November, he shared lessons learned in his career in a three-hour NewsU Master Class. Lauren Klinger reported on three major takeaways from Garcia’s talk, including:

  • Don’t just face change, adapt to it.
  • Break the old recipes of design.
  • Spend more time designing article pages than the home page.

NewsU was funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Join NewsU’s birthday Webinar on April 10, featuring some of the best lessons, tips, tricks, hacks and bits of knowledge from 10 years of e-learning.