Saturday, November 21, 2009

News Now: Introduction, Books and Bookmarks

Note: Before reading this, please hit the play button on the video player to your right.

Our News Now class will explore hyperlocal news coverage of a community during Winter quarter 2010. Each week, we'll study a different aspect of online storytelling and how that translates to covering issues in a community.

We'll learn online storyteling tools in class through demonstration and short exercises. Some are Web-based applications (Delicious, Twitter, mapping, Wordpress), others are software packages (Soundslides, Final Cut Pro). We'll learn software basics in context of storytelling. It's NOT a software-training course.

We will combine our online skills and our reporting skills to generate content for sites that you will devote to covering a specific community. Those sites will feed into, the online studio for all of my journalism courses.

IMPORTANT: There are three books to purchase for the course: JournalismNext (by Mark Briggs, CQ Press), The 2009 Associated Press Stylebook and "Watch Your Words", (Second Edition, Author: Marda Dunsky, Rowman & Littlefield). If you don't already have them, please buy them at the DePaul University bookstore in the Loop (DePaul Center) or buy them online. Bring those reference books to every class meeting, along with a USB jump drive with at least 8 gigabytes of memory. You can buy a USB drive at any computer store or at Radio Shack at 14 E. Jackson.

Many of your readings will be online. I'll share them with you through the course syllabus, on Blackboard, on this blog or through my Delicious bookmarks.

As you can tell from this blog, I believe in teaching within the medium that we study. In other words, I don't ask any of you to produce work that I can't do myself.

News Now combines online skills with hyperlocal news coverage, two very hot topics in today's multimedia market. The skills you will learn in this class will prepare you to be competitive in today's marketplace.

For those of you who replied to my online skills survey in early November, thank you very much. For those of you who didn't, I know who you are.

Your feedback gives me a snapshot of your skill set and helps me tailor the class to shore up your weaknesses and build on your strengths.

Some of you have strong online skills, some of you do not. There will be something for everyone in this class: basic and advanced social media, Final Cut Pro/short video, mobile media, audio slideshows, podcasting, and much, much more. This class is a great opportunity to explore something new. So go for it.

But at the end of the day, it comes down to journalism and storytelling. All of the software skills in the world won't save a package with misspelled names and factual errors.

Over Winter break, look over some of the tools to the right of this post, bookmark this blog and these sites, as you will reference them often this quarter:

Look at some of the multimedia projects, Q&A interviews with journalists and the October coverage of the Olympic announcement. Look at how we incorporate writing, photography, video and interactivity.

2. Mike's Delicious Bookmarks
Many of our course readings will appear here. Just search our course number: 502

3. Our Blackboard page, which will house primers, assignments, the syllabus, etc. I will begin to post content there after Christmas.

4. If you have a Twitter account, start following @journtoolbox and @chitownstories.

I'll talk about this on the first day of class, but I'll say it now: Attendance is mandatory for all classes and you must be on time. We meet in Room 1128, 14 E. Jackson at 5:45 p.m. on Thursdays. Deadlines must be met. Failure to do so will lower your grade.

Also, you'll be working in small groups, so part of your grade will cover your ability to work well with your teammates and your instructor/editor. No drama, no outbursts in class.

A good attitude is a must in generating online content. Most large multimedia packages are developed in a team environment.

Thanks again and see you next quarter.

Mike Reilley
Instructor, DePaul University
College of Communication
Twitter: @journtoolbox
Web site:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CNN: Cloud Computing Basics

It's a little silly and simplistic, but I enjoyed this CNN video on cloud computing. It's a great way to explain how services like Apple's Mobile Me work.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Journalists Using Facebook as a Reporting Tool

Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism recently conducted an Advanced Facebook for Journalists podcast on its BlogTalkRadio network.

The hour-long show covered several ways to use Facebook as a reporting tool, including using it as a "virtual research assistant," crowd sourcing, promoting a story or site and organizing your contacts into "friend lists" so you can tailor your posts to specific groups.

Read about the podcast here at Mashable.

Listen to the hour-long show on (Note: You may have to use your default audio player -- in my case, iTunes -- to listen to the podcast. There's a button on the audio player to do this.

One of the best, and most controversial, early uses of social media in breaking news was during the Virginia Tech campus shootings. Reporters used Facebook and MySpace searches to find bios of victims and contact friends and family members.

The Roanoke (Va.) Times used social media in its award-winning coverage of the story. And students and campus leaders used it as a way of discussing the incident and sharing ideas.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Journalism Students Should Demand from J-Schools

I've long been a fan of Robert Niles at the Online Journalism Review, part of the Knight Digital Media Center and USC. Robert runs the amusement park safety site and posts some great resources on his Twitter account, @robertniles.

And I really enjoyed his latest post to the Online Journalism Review called, Eight Things Journalism Students Should Demand from Journalism Schools.

At a time when the news industry is changing radically, students should expect the eight things Niles listed in his piece. They need mentors and role models, job contacts, the opportunities to explore linear and non-linear storytelling. They need a well-rounded liberal arts education, and journalism instructors who focus on the future of news ... and not relive the good old days.

We still must teach journalism fundamentals -- AP Style, accuracy, fairness, ethics, law, reporting and editing -- but we need to reach further and give them opportunities to grow as entrepreneurs, producers, backpack journalists and in other mediums.

As I often say in discussions with my friends still working in the industry: Adapt or perish.
And it's never been more relevant.

Viral Video and FOX Anchor's Flub

We're pretty sure FOX 5 New York anchor Ernie Anastos meant to say "plucking that chicken" or even "clucking that chicken" but something else went out over the air during a recent newscast. And you didn't have to be in the Big Apple to see it.

The live footage became an instant classic on YouTube, and Mashable reports that the video has already been seen by more than 800,000 people. It's been passed around Facebook, Twitter and even Chicago morning radio talk show hosts were talking about it Friday morning.

Here is the video, and be sure to watch the look on his co-anchor's face:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chi-Town Daily News Blog Folds ... Or Does It?

Big news on the Chicago blog scene today: Chi-Town Daily News has folded ... maybe.

Editor Geoff Dougherty, a former Chicago Tribune reporter, said the organization, which received a Knight Foundation grant in 2007, ran out of cash. He said the blog will re-organize as a for-profit venture in a month. We'll see.

My take: Chi-Town Daily News was considered one of the better start-ups in the Chicago area. It's sad to see it go. But as we saw in the late 1990s, there is an end to grants and venture capital. Back then, venture capitalists expected a return on investment in five years. Now, your startup is lucky to have two years. Web 2.0 is on a business plan and profitability schedule, just as Web 1.0 was and Web 3.0 will be.

Chi-Town Daily News lasted four years, the last two thanks to the Knight grant and other money raised. It's important to note that Knight money also was invested in the hyperlocal site, Everyblock was purchased by MSNBC a few weeks ago.

Cool Tool: Convert Documents to .PDFs

I love finding new software that makes my life easier. Especially when it's free.

Jim Janossy, who teaches at DePaul University, shared a great resource with me this week: CutePDF. The free software allows you to convert a document into a .PDF by linking to a conversion tool through the "print" menu on your original document.

The software also is available in a "pro" version for $50, but I found that the freeware met all of my needs. There is nothing I despise more than scanning documents into a .PDF format, and this tool saves me a LOT of time converting documents. Give it a try.

And thanks again to Jim for sharing this great resource!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Raw Video Appeal

One of the things we talked about this summer at the Poynter Institute was the value of raw video footage. Footage that needs no voice over or explanation tied to it. We'll explore this throughout the quarter, but here are some examples of raw video that's been posted on YouTube:

1. Obama's election night celebration in Chicago's Grant Park: Shot with a camera phone, this is a great example of the value of raw video. It takes you there. In the crowd, in the trenches. The TV cameras on election night gave us the big picture, but this footage shows what it was like to be a part of the historic night.

2. Detroit City Council fights: Typically, a routine council meeting or speech doesn't make for great raw video. But this is an exception: when something so outrageous or odd behavior (remember news judgment standards).

Cool Twitter Conferences Tips

The Cool Twitter Conferences stopped in Chicago in August and panelists provided some great tips for journalists, social media gurus and marketers on how to use the service.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Teaching Social Media to Journalists

For mer than 12 years, I've been a strong believer in weaving online resources into a broad journalism curriculum.

Twitter and other social media tools should be implemented to every journalism class. I recently did this with an advanced sports reporting class I co-taught at Columbia College Chicago.

We created the web site Beyond the Game to showcase narrative storytelling, and linked off to each student's blog. We also created a Facebook group page to promote updates, and students were encouraged to post their packages on their Twitter feeds.

Here are some other creative ways to teach social media to journalists, based on a recent Poynter Institute live chat with Columbia professor and online guru Sree Sreenivasan: