Social media slow down

As the semester comes to an end, I think we could all use a little stress relief. That’s why I liked a blog post by Gary Goldhammer that is all about ways to slow down when social media seems to be speeding up.

Here are some of the ways that he suggests:

-Don’t just get your news electronically–read newspapers. I think this is one that I don’t do as often as I would like. Yes, I keep up with the Central Florida Future, but beyond that I get my news from TV or the Web.

-“E-mail is not a medium designed for urgency,” Goldhammer said. I don’t have e-mail on my phone since I know I would be checking it constantly. I think it will be good to have in the future, but for now I can wait until I get to a computer to check my e-mail.

-Write something longer than a Tweet or blog post just for fun. Come back to it after a few days and edit it. This is something I never do. It’s the same with reading novels. As a literature minor, if I’m reading, it’s for school. I’m looking forward to a time when I can write and read just for sheer enjoyment.

-“Most of all, don’t believe blindly in the future,” he said. He said to trust that your past experiences will contribute to and shape your future. I think this is important for those of us who are about to graduate. Although we may not have much experience yet, we have to be proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and to trust that the experience we do have will get us through.

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Improving videos from newspapers

The blog entry from Colin Mulvany I read this week goes well with an earlier entry I wrote about Greg Linch’s tips about video storytelling. Mulvany’s particular entry that I read was about video about newspapers and how it needs to improve.

He outlines the problems that he often sees with videos at newspapers. The first is storytelling, which is also stressed by Linch. Mulvany said that master the basics of audio and sequencing before you can successfully tell a story in video. He said that many still photojournalists don’t have enough experience with video.

Another big problem he sees with newspaper-produced videos is that many are boring. “The best stories have surprises sprinkled throughout the timeline, which helps keep the viewer engaged,” Mulvany said.

Many also lack basic journalism skills. I like his analogy of comparing having only one subject in videos to using only one source in a print story. I never actually thought about it that way, but it makes sense.

Structure and editing are other issues he sees. “A great video story is one that pulls you in from the opening sequence and never let’s go of your attention until it fades out at the end,” he said. And even if you have great video, if you don’t edit it well, it won’t matter how good the footage is.

Unlike we’ve been taught in class and unlike Linch suggested, Mulvany is accepting of narration in video stories. But I think if we use title slides or slides when needed, narration is unnecessary.

Reviving blogs

In a post on John Welsh’s blog, “These Digital Times,” he provides five steps to reviving your blog. His post comes after a few months of blog neglecting towards the end of 2009. Even though he didn’t blog for a few months, his older posts still brought a steady flow of traffic to the site. People found the blog through links.

Here are his steps:
– Don’t obsess over traffic. He said, “I was like a junky after launching a post, slipping into my blog’s dashboard again and again to see how it was doing…Daily or weekly visits are not a true sign of the interest in any one post.”
-Blogs can be forgiving. As Welsh found out, people still may stumble across your blog or visit it from links even if you take a break from blogging. I think this really shows the importance of linking.
-Be prepared. He said that he works on content for his blog in advance so he always has something ready to post.
– Re-visit the posts that have gained the most traffic. By doing so, bloggers can see what readers enjoy about their blog. And if the posts are older and becoming outdated, bloggers can revamp them with new information.
-Compete with yourself, not others. I think this step is a little hard to grasp since the world of journalism is filled with competition. But I get it. I think his point is to start small and make reachable goals.

Videojournalism tips

Since our video project deadline is approaching, I found a blog entry by Greg Linch on videojournalism advice. His tips are geared towards high school journalists who have some experience with video recording and editing, but I think the advice applies to college students as well. Most of these we went over in class, but the more we can learn, the better.

Here are some of the points he made:
• The story is the most important aspect in creating a video.
• Don’t narrate. Linch says, “I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to hear you. I’m watching your video because I care about the subject — not you. Sorry.”
• Avoid showing subjects talking, especially if they are in a boring environment
• 70 percent of video is audio. He says that people tend to be more forgiving with lousy visuals than with bad audio.
• Always use headphones.
• “There is no perfect video. It can never really be finished. You need to accept and embrace that it can always be better,” Linch says.
• Get constructive criticism.
• Film much more footage than you need.
• Use very few or no automatic settings on your camera.

I also watched a few videos of the series, Never Coming Home, by Zac Barr and Andrew Lichtenstein. In 2004, they filmed the stories of military men and women who died in Iraq. The videos are compelling. The emotion from the families is evident just by their voices. The photos are also a good mix of shots and ranges.

In the spirit of the SPJ conference…

After attending the SPJ conference and hearing Etan Horowitz describe how to attain and sustain a career in the media world, I checked out his blog. It was interesting to hear how his skills and his blog led to his current job at CNN International. He encouraged us to find something we enjoy writing about it and blog about that subject.

On his technology blog, I found an older post about a BarCampOrlando conference where he semi-spontaneously did a talk on paid journalism. He asked, “What kind of journalism would you pay to support?”

First, he asked the audience what print publications that they pay for. Then, he asked what online news sources or other online things that they pay for. Just based on these questions, he found that this audience pays for more specialized publications than anything else.

He presents several ideas that could be options for newspapers and media to make revenue online. One of the ideas is charging for advertisement-free version of a newspaper’s Web site. He says, “Perhaps if, in addition to being ad-free, these sites were better designed and cleaner than normal newspaper web sites, people would be willing to pay.”

Other ideas he brings up are having papers organize sponsored events, allowing readers to pay for premium coupons and adding a “donate” button to news sites. Even a year after he wrote this blog, there still isn’t a solid and positive answer to his question “what kind of journalism would you pay to support.”

“Whatever solutions newspapers come up with, they are going to have to pass muster with our local readers and community members, so it’s in your best interest to get them involved early,” he said.

Practice Soundslide

Click here to view my Soundslides example.

Tech skills wanted

In Depth Reporting, journalist Mark Schaver breaks down the technical skills needed by today’s journalists.

Serena Carpenter, who is an assistant professor at Arizona State’s journalism school, completed a content analysis. She viewed 664 ads on JournalismJobs.com and recorded the skills most sought after by online news media organizations.

HTML/CSS was the top preferred expertise followed by content posting and image editing. Blogging and video editing were next while social media was almost halfway down the list. The fact that social media wasn’t one of the top skills is surprising to me. It seems like job and internship employers always want potential employees to be knowledgeable about social networking. Also, it seems like a requirement for convergent journalists.

I’m also surprised that HTML/CSS was the top choice, especially because I don’t feel that I know enough about that. Some skills that I thought should be higher on the list are search engine optimization and slide show editing. Headlines written with SEO have the ability to attract more readers and more users. Slide show editing was second to last. I think that should be a more valuable skill than say animation.

The data is from 2008 so many things on the list may be higher currently. It would be interesting to see what skills were considered the most valuable and compare them to the most valuable one’s today.