Former Spokesman-Review shooter talks about bolstering web presence

Entry by Derek Casanovas

Brian Immel, a former photographer and web designer for the Spokesman-Review, visited the class on April 23. An architect of College Front Page and the Spokesman-Review’s redesigned Web site, Immel has past experience in building Internet sites from the ground up.

Above all else, Immel said the three most important parts of any Web site are content, usability and relevance. If you don’t have content that people want, Immel said, nobody will come to you as a source of information. If your site is clunky and not easily accessible, he added, users will also be going elsewhere on the Web. Lastly, it’s important to find a Web site that people want to read. An example Immel used is the FAIL Blog – people know exactly what they’re going to get when they visit the site: images, video and stories of people failing.

Immel stressed the importance of many factors that go into developing an online site:

  • Develop a simple design that people won’t get too cluttered up with. Also, make sure the site is usable — the links work, buttons are easy to find and the content people want is on the Web. Additionally, creating a hierarchy on the site is important for separating headers from subheads, headlines from body text, sidebars from the main splitter. And the design on all of the site should look and feel consistent throughout.
  • Picking out a type is important. A clear font, in the right size, style and color is an effective way to brand yourself. Choosing something that matches the niche of your personality or site is vital.
  • Images bring your site to life. Icons, headers, logos, backgrounds, elements, textures, buttons and even an error page are important ways of bringing your users into your product.

Lastly, Immel said the best thing graduates can do after leaving school is remaining active. There’s no reason to sit and home and wait for an opportunity. Immel advised students remain active blogging, try to find work at community newspapers and get your name on the Web. When the business model is found for the new era of journalism, jobs will go to people that have proven they can get the job done, Immel said.

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Filed under Using the Web

Final project: ‘Knowing the Knowledgeable’

Entry by Jasmine Linabary

Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve sought to put the skills we learned in this class to work. We teamed up to develop feature projects on Whitworth professors.

Each project included multimedia, photos and a text story. Classmates coded and posted these projects online as a special feature on whitworthian.com.

Check out the result here: Knowing the Knowledgeable

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Filed under Putting it all together

sneaky social networks

Entry by Joy Bacon

Sorry this is a little later than planned, finals happen. For those of you who missed it, I presented last week some helpful sites and resources to make the best out of the Internet for reporting and information-gathering purposes.

1. Twitter sites:

-savethemedia.com has some great ways to embrace the new world of journalism. Check out parts 1 and 2 of their information about tons of resources for Twitter.

-An interesting way to rate your own use of Twitter:  www.twittergrader.com. My grade? 62. I’m working on improving this number. The site also grades your Facebook page or Web site.

2. Internet reporting

-This is a really interesting example of how some news sites have used the Internet to track and cover Swine Flu. Here’s more about it from Poynter.

Another interesting term I came across in several places was the idea of creating an “electronic beat” for yourself as a reporter. This would consist of Google Alerts, RSS feeds, and other daily sites or information aggregates you would check at least daily for updates, stories, or just to follow the latest trends about a specific topic. Most sites recommended a list of 6-10 sources per beat.

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Developing an online presence

Entry by Jasmine Linabary

What do you find when people Google your name?

For some people, it drudges up old information that they do not want revealed and then want information taken down. Or, maybe nothing is found except some old information from high school or a few articles you have written.

The key then, especially if you are looking for a job, is to own your online presence. If you are going into journalism, a potential employer who “Googles” you name should be able to see that you have dabbled in the technology. This should be able to show your skills and whether you have actually practiced what your resume says you can do.

Do you have a Twitter account? Do you have YouTube videos? Do you have Facebook? Are you connected to any networks (Linked-In, Wired Journalists, etc.)? Do you have a blog? Who are you?

These are things you can control by developing a Web presence. Create account and do some work. Define yourself. Be wary about what you write though and that it won’t present bias or damage your potential career. Think about the pictures you have on Facebook. Would you want your employer to see those? Your sources?

This is an interesting article I found today. Google is introducing a feature that allows you to create a profile to show up in searches for your name.

How have you worked to develop a Web presence? Add your thoughts to the comment section below.

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Filed under Using the Web

Graphic notes from Jesse Pierpoint

Design elements

Entry by Yong Kim.

Simple, usable, create hierarchy, consistent

TYPE: font, size, styling, color, css
IMAGE: icon, headers, logos, background, elements, textures, buttons
MULTIMEDIA: Size, content, usable, relevant

Resources/LINKS
istockphoto

veer.com

myfonts.com

noupe.com

flasheezy.com

To great graphics for news (like an infographic map)
Create a vector image: anything made in Adobe Illustrator. Vector images’ qualities do not decrease when resized. Creating or finding a JPG does not work.

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Recent resources for database journalism

Entry by Jasmine Linabary

We’ve been talking about database journalism over the past few weeks. Here are some links I’ve come across recently related to the subject that you may find useful.

Conversations and information:

10,000 Words: “Databases and polls: When numbers are the news”

Poynter Online: “Using Data Visualization as a Reporting Tool Can Reveal Story’s Shape”

MediaShift: “An After-Life for Newspapers”

10,000 Words: “News databases: Turning numbers into knowledge

Readership Institute: “Data as journalism, journalism as data”

Tools:

FusionCharts – to create graphics off of your data for visualization

Tools for News – Check out the pages on tools for data visualization, data scraping and public databases.

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Filed under Databases, Online journalism resources

Databases

Entry by Julie Wootton

(Information courtesy of Mark Brigg’s “Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive” and the Readership Institute)

-A database is a collection of data (or information).
-Data does not lose its novelty or timeliness as quickly.
-Data such as crime statistics can be of personal and public interest.
-There is no space constraint on the Internet.
-Data that is collected online can be condensed and used in print publications.
-Remember that databases do not have to be complex or difficult to create. Databases can be created fairly easily using Microsoft Excel.

-Database journalism is considered a new reporting method, along with other kinds of community-based journalism.
Crowdsourcing= using a group of people or community to perform a job that normally just one person does.
Open source reporting= a way for a reporter to solicit ideas, sources, etc. on a particular subject.
Distributed reporting- this most frequently pertains to reader-generated content.

Reasons to use databases:
-To more efficiently organize information
-To organize lists of sources for newsroom personnel
-To make information more accessible and easier to understand for readers

Using databases for news coverage:
-“Alternative story form”- information is broken down into clearly labeled sections or lists that present information simply.
-Information can then be easily put into a database.

Some examples of databases:
The Whitworthian’s restaurant guide
The New York Times’ skiing travel guide
USA Today sports scores
Washington State registered sex offender database

Other resources:
Interview with Derek Willis, database editor for The Washington Post
General information and resources about database journalism from the Readership Institute
Mark Brigg’s “Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive”
Data Center on courier-journal.com
Data Central on indystar.com
Excel database tutorial

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Filed under Databases, Online journalism resources, Using the Web