Skillset 5 – Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the latest social media tools. As I discovered in a past post, even the Army has a Pinterest.

After initially setting up my own Pinterest about a month ago I admit I felt a little addicted. I squealed over pictures of puppies and baked goods, adding them to by boards.

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest


Since then my interest has dropped off. While Pinterest is interesting it doesn’t really connect (yet) to my everyday life in the way that Facebook and Twitter do.

Here’s my Pinterest, it’s a little empty but most likely set to grow.

Briggs Chapter 9 – Data-driven journalism and digitizing your life

“The first challenge is personal: taking advantage of digital tools and services to manage your day without drowning in e-mails, status updates, blog posts and other interesting information”

  • Organize your email.

A popular method is “Inbox Zero” by Merlin Mann where you sort through emails as you read them so when you finish your inbox is at zero. Check out Mann’s personal productivity website

  • Organize your contacts.

Most email programs have space in the contacts section to list more than just an email. Add contacts phone numbers, addresses, occupations and anything else you can think of so you have it all in one easily accessible place.

  • Organize your work.

Use descriptive titles and folders to organize your home system. If your project involves working with other people then there are some great project management programs which work great for collaboration. Try out Zoho or Basecamp.

  • More!

There are plenty of websites dedicated to personal organization. One of the best is lifehacker, take a look around and see what you can build into your own system.


“The second is professional: seizing the opportunities that new technology – searchable databases, APIs that enable various Web sites to interact with each other and interactive maps – offers you as a journalist.”

  • Searchable databases.

Searchable databases allow you to take a bunch of information and sort by any factor. Instead of having to sort through a list alphabetically the database does the work and returns only the results you are interested in quicker. Free online database builders include Socrata, Zoho and Grubba. Microsoft Access for Windows and FileMaker for Mac are two other commonly used databases.

  • APIs.

Application Program Interfaces. This is a tool which can be enabled on websites to allow information sharing. It allows journalists to take the data from another website and adapt it to a specific purpose. newspapers can also allow APIs on their own website, in that way people look to their data in their individual creations.

  • Interactive Maps.

Maps are a great visual way to tell a story. Readers can get an overview of the bigger picture or zoom into areas that they have a greater personal connection to. To make your own “map mashup” try; MapBuilder,UMapper or Google My Maps. If you already have data in a spreadsheet take a look at ZeeMaps or MapAlist

Briggs Chapter 8 – Telling stories with video

Some things you really have to see to believe. Video is one of the greatest tools in the journalism toolbox. For years people would sit down and watch their nightly newscast. Now with the internet it is even easier to share video.

The only way to learn video is to start shooting video.
“The best thing you can do is attempt to make all your mistakes as quickly as possible.” – Angela Grant (

We’ve all seen some terrible youtube videos and some highly produced seamless videos. What decides what you can and should do is the content and your equipment. Sometimes it is simply not worth putting hours into editing a video because it can tell the story simply on its own with a nice caption. When you do want to make something special it is important to take the time. You want to have a decent camera, audio equipment and a tripod.

An easy way to make a great video
The 5 shot method is taught worldwide because it works. It consists of:

  1. A close-up on the hands
  2. A close-up on the face
  3. A wide shot
  4. An over-the-shoulder shot
  5. A creative shot (come up with something unique)
Take a look at this BBC training video of the 5 shot method.
This is a quick 5 shot method attempt I did.


Once you’ve filmed your video – remembering of course to take lots of shots it’s time to edit. Most computers have video editing software installed. On a Mac this means iMovie and on a PC Windows Movie Maker. Both of these tools are great and can do most of what you are looking for. My other favorite, and one that a lot of video companies use, is Final Cut Pro. Once you choose your software you can search the internet to find tutorials on how to do pretty much anything that is possible.

So if you’ve shot your video and edited into its final form, it’s time to post it online for everyone to see. Youtube and Vimeo are two of the leading video websites and the best place to head to upload.

Finally once you’ve uploaded your video don’t forget to distribute it. Post the link on your facebook and twitter to get started, and before long you could have a crowd of followers.

Skillset 4 – A google docs map

Some of my favorite places around Northern Va.

Workshop 2 : InDesign level 3

Two weeks after my first InDesign workshop I went back for another. Since I hadn’t layed eyes on the program for a couple of weeks things were a little hazy, but after 10 minutes it was going well. This class focused on creating and adjusting the spaces for text and pictures. The pace was a little slow but it was still a good opportunity to learn a couple more things. Just like the last time I was impressed by the functionality of InDesign and how nice and professional it can make your product look.

Take a look at this project created using InDesign

See what I thought about InDesign two weeks ago.


Policing online

There’s a lot of controversy over whether and how the internet should be policed. Look at bills like SOPA and PIPA in the US, or the censoring of the internet in China. But the internet can be a resource for the police as well.

This Mashable article goes through just some of the crimes thanks to facebook. And another Mashable article has highlighted a recent ruling in the US Court of Appeals which will let police search through mobile phones found at the scene of a crime.

The internet has changed the game for policing. On an international level it becomes confusing what the laws even are and who they apply to.

For internet users the line of privacy is wiggly, since it can sometimes be confusing to control.

Briggs Chapter 11 – Building a digital audience for news

The final chapter of Briggs’ “Journalism Next” is about finding a digital audience. How do you get someone other than your family to follow what you are writing?

Web Analytics

Traditional print newspapers count their readers as one whole bunch. Apart from those who write in on certain subjects it is unclear whether people are interested in reading every article or just the sports section. The internet allows anyone with a Web site to see where people are spending their time. This then lets continuous adaptation occur to target hot subjects or presentation styles.

Check out Omniture,  and Google Analytics two web analytics services.

What should you track?

  • Pageviews – how many time your Web pages have been viewed in a set time period.
  • Visits and Unique Visitors Compared – unique visitors are each separate person who visits your Web page. While visits are the total number of times everyone views a Web site.
  • Engagement and Referrers – engagement looks at how long people stay on your site, letting you know how captivating your content is. Referrers looks at how people get to your site, whether through google or a link off another page, or directly entering the Web address.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO is about making your Web page appear higher up a search engine’s responses.

Ways to incorporate SEO into your Web site:

  • Content – your content choices and coverage will make your Web site better
  • Linking – When you link to other Web sites you give credibility to your work. And hopefully other websites will link to you to increase your credibility. It’s kind of like a loose form of citing and peer review.
  • Descriptive Links – Tell your readers where they will go when they click the link, don’t just put click here.
  • Title Tags – This is the title that appears at the top of a Web browser. Good title tags tell a search engine exactly what your website is about.
  • HTML meta tags – In the source code for your webpage you can insert key words which are especially for search engines (the user doesn’t see them).

Distribute your work through Social Media

If your Web site does not appear on the front page of Google and isn’t something with a large audience already you need to put some work into finding an audience.

You should already be linking to other blogs on the same topic for SEO but try writing in their comments section as well. Create a conversation (see my Chapter 10 blog on managing news as a conversation), maybe people will search for you or that blog editor will link to you. Look and link to things related to your page on websites like pinterest, flickr and youtube. Some people want more! Head to sites like facebook and twitter to create pages for your blog. You can use these to connect on another level with your audience, and post the link to the latest post on your blog. Stumbleupon, reddit and digg are three more great sites. On these sites people (including you) can like your posts, giving more credit to your work and drawing in even more users.

Briggs Chapter 10 – Managing news as a conversation

News is anything that will make people talk. The conversation has been happening for years around the water cooler and over coffee. The internet made the conversation global, and now newspapers and journalists are helping themselves by being a part of the conversation.

Newspaper websites are increasingly making ways for their users to get involved. Chapter 10 lists these ways:

  • comments on news stories and blog posts
  • contributing photos
  • contributing videos
  • adding event listings
  • editing wiki style sites
  • message board posts
  • blog posts
  • votes and recommendations
  • promotion on other social media sites


Take a look at RiotACT. This is a local newspage built upon the conversation of a city. Posts are made not only by website editors but by the community at large. People want to upload their photos of the latest flooding, and help out other users who query which builder they should use in a renovation project.


By allowing and encouraging user interaction newspapers can build an online community. Newspapers can be the office which has all those great people around the watercooler to chat with, or the coffee house with all your best friends.

What is clear is that the journalist must also be a part of this community not separate from it. They can increase their list of sources, and cover what people are talking about.

Underwater Slideshow

The Apple Exchange – buying and selling Ipads


Apple products have become the most fashionable technology to accessorize yourself with. It’s almost time to update your wardrobe though. The expected announcement of new iPhone and iPad models in March is being hotly awaited.


First step though is getting rid of that old model. According to this Mashable article you need to do it now if you want to get the most you can for it. Those who can’t bear to live without their iPad will pay. If users wait until they have the newest model to sell, they will potentially get over a hundred dollars less for the “outdated” iPad.

It is expected that the lines at Apple stores will involve tents and diehard fans. But in the months following the new release who else will be getting a new iPad or iPhone? Those who own iPads now will be 3 times more likely to buy the new iPad. Check out this Mashable infographic to see more about the market for the iPad, the specifics of which we are still unknown.


Currently, the cheapest iPad is worth 69 hours of work on the US minimum wage of $7.25/ hour. That’s nearly 3 days straight with no sleep!

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