Entries from October 2007 ↓

Social Networks are Everything

I’m obsessed with social networks. From the moment I started playing with Facebook YEARS ago I saw an amazing opportunity. It’s an amazing way to stay in touch with people and share connections. THEN Facebook added applications… And that’s when I saw the amazing opportunities for newsrooms and educators. Students could add applications and share the information that matters to them. I jumped into the applications game and challenged my students to build one for KOMU. In the meantime, everyone from NPR to the BBC have applications that share news and information. Heck, even Google has a news feed reader. But now Google has finally shared why Microsoft bought into a piece of Facebook… That’s because Google has its own social network it plans to launch. The idea is to socially network all of the information you’re already gathering on Google. It’s a way to socially link all of the applications we all use on Google: iGoogle, Blogger, Picassa, Orkut, Maps. All of the tech blogs have the details. I kind of feel like Google is late… But the company tends to surprise me.Honestly, as a news nerd, I’m excited to see the newest opportunities to share information… Whoever is offering it, I want to try to delivery information with the help of that tool. Now wouldn’t it be great if I could beta what they’re calling Makamaka?

Successful week

Every week, I give students the chance to report “differently.” They have a chance to work with broadcast students who are working on “traditional” news while they can take the topic and expand upon it. What is fun is seeing the amazing work the students came up with. They ranged from audio slideshows to a couple of different interactive maps — one an interactive Flash map, the other an interactive Google map. I’m really proud.

The massive fires in California were an amazing opportunity for journalism. Poynter has a TON of interesting thoughts and perspectives from journalists who covered it. One of the recent entries that I’ve read is about a professional photographer who allowed anyone to use his photos as long as he was given credit. He did it by using Creative Commons on Flickr. I actually use Creative Commons on my personal pictures as well… Although most are private. Look around Twitter! You can find amazing stories being told there. I can’t say I would have imagined that possibility a few months ago. I saw it as a great way to communicate information to a newsroom, but I hadn’t seen it as a direct way to communicate to an online viewer. Now I see it as genius. A small newspaper was broadcasting live information on Justin.tv. Anyway, there are many websites out there that have documented the amazing out-of-the-box thinking from journalists this week. I love all of it!

If collaboration was easy… I’d sleep more.

I’m working towards a massive project. I’m trying to find a way to collaborate with three different newsrooms (one NPR station, one local paper and my NBC affiliate station). I’d like to give my market the most thorough election site possible for November 2008. Content from all three would feed into the website so no one has to hand type in the links to each newsroom’s election content. That’s not even the hard part.

The hard part is learning how to communicate with each newsroom. I set up a project using Base Camp… But I’ll be honest. I think most people ignore the comments I and some project members post. Either way, it is a good place to keep all of the thoughts, documents, links and images that we all need to talk about. If someone claims that I didn’t tell them, I can prove that to be untrue. So I’m glad to have a place to collaborate work. There are a number of other open-source/free sites that have popped up since I started working with Base Camp this summer. One of my favorite is a very fun brainstorming tool called bubbl.us. I’ve tried it out a bunch of times to help sort out the many ideas that churn through my brain. There area couple of other products that have popped up, but I haven’t had time to test them.

Anyway. I’m trying to collaborate with three different newsrooms that have different workflow and different personalities. I’m obsessed with workflow and communication. But I have to say, this has been some of the most challenging conversations. The good news: As I continue to communicate, I’m starting to figure out ways to reach everyone.  I’ve also found using a database training manual as a good way to reach many of my student/employees who work on the komu.com content. A student of mine and I put it together with the help of Drupal. It’s also the content management system that we hope to use to build our election website.

So much to do, so little time.

I knew it could happen

A year ago I had a moment of genius. I thought how cool it would be to match voters up with candidates by using a social network tool called introNetworks. It’s a flash-based social network site that would be SUPER COOL to use and give people the insight about candidates that match closer to their viewers… but not so close that they won’t want to learn more about their candidate. Well, my idea came true. I got an email from introNetworks saying a group called Neighborhood America is using my idea. I couldn’t afford it so I’m thrilled to see someone else put the money into this technology. I’m also very, very jealous that I didn’t have the funding to do it myself. I highly recommend checking out the how-to video on how this works. It’s exactly how I had envisioned it.

Interactivity with the news

I love, love, love to see how major newsrooms are taking advantage of technology.

First, using the simplicity of building maps using Google Maps, the LA Times came up with this one. Also, this looks like one of the first major opportunities for MSNBC to use its FirstPerson project. It’s a pretty slick little set up that gets online users involved in sharing their personal pictures, video and first-hand account. I’m hoping to help the newsrooms affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism to improve this kind of interactivity through a multi-newsroom election project. I’ll brain dump on that soon… But not while I’m at work. I’ll need more time to focus my thoughts.

Industry talk

It’s Homecoming here at the University of Missouri. I hold a yearly lunch where alumni talk to current students about what it’s like to go into the “real world.” It’s an awesome chance for students to meet folks who have been there, done that. It was also a great chance for me to reiterate my attempts as a newsroom manager and a journalism professor that the industry is changing. We can’t just report news in one way. We need to share information in many forms so we can reach as many people as possible. It’s a great feeling to hear folks who work in newsrooms across the country say they’re learning to do it different, so the students should try really hard to do things different. That’s so exciting.

Another exciting spot in the blogosphere is the MediaShift Idea Lab. PBS and the Knight Foundation have amazing people working on amazing projects. This blog is a place where everyone is sharing what they’re learning as they try to change the world. It’s new and fantastic. I highly recommend taking time to read through it. One of my former students recently graduated and started working with PBS and its interactive unit. She’s in the middle of amazing developments in journalism and online thought. I’m so lucky to be linked to so many great projects and great minds!

I love it when my students find good links

One of my students found an article in Time magazine that is pretty appropriate to think about when it comes to teaching people about new media. As technology is more transparent, media blends together better. A little first person article mentions how life is changing in a common household. Attention spans are different now.

Plus… I just found out about this. Super dooper cool. Journalists are opening up. I attended a meeting today and quickly learned that the work I’m trying to do really matters. When the New York Times is buying into the idea of delivering news in whatever format a person wants it… It must mean I’m on the right track.

What am I talking about, you ask? I love news. I love delivering the news. I have spent most of my career finding ways to share news abd information to a broadcast audience. When I realized there were SO many ideas on news delivery using technology. That’s why I jumped into this new media world. I wanted to help find ways to share and create information delivery methods. When I started this, I never realized how fast technology would advance and how seamless it could be to share information. And things are only getting started. I’m excited to see the simplicity of sharing information on social networks, how easy it is to build personalized news feeds… I could go on. Either way, it’s great to see the big guys jumping into this fun world in a way I can’t.

Challenge for journalists and educators

There’s this debate in journalism classrooms: How much time do you spend training students on software and how much time do you spend teaching about the actual thought process and skill of being a journalist.  In the industry, the challenge is how can you afford the tech know-how without finding journalists who already know the software.

Honestly, I think it’s a mess.

Some of my students really get the software and they’re going to snag AMAZING jobs.  But the average student shouldn’t be expected to understand the nitty gritty of CSS and Action Script 2.0 and 3.0.  I think most students should understand what technology can do.  If they understand the potential, then they can team up with someone who knows the tech side of things and communicate his or her need.  Even better… If I show them the basics, they they can take the initiative to learn more outside of class.

Right now, I teach the basics of Flash to my students so they understand its potential.  If I understood Flex and had a basic understanding of that, I’d do the same with it.  I think students who can think on a multi-layer, interactive level can think about delivering news differently.  Once you know how to deliver news differently, you start to realize that life doesn’t have to be linear anymore.  There are new ways to present, explain and share.  Until now, journalism had a starting and ending point.  Now it can be up to the online user to decide what they want to learn.  They can stay as long or as short as they’d like.  They can come back and learn more if they want.  They can choose to ignore all of it or expand their research beyond what one website has to offer.

It’s a new world.  Not everyone is going to take advantage of it all.  I hope I can at least offer the gift of understanding what’s out there to my students.

A perspective to keep in mind

With all of the advances in technology, it’s sometimes hard to remember the “old days.”  Today an article in the New York Times says a lot about why media can’t forget the traditional delivery methods outright.  The NYT reminds us all about the Iowa caucus.  Reporter Julie Bosman reports how most people who are going to participate in the caucus don’t visit candidate websites.  I’m working on a massive election project with the goal of providing my market a “one stop shop” of election material.  It’s hard to imagine anyone who would pass up the opportunity to visit the site.  But there are a lot of people.  Since I’m in the middle of Missouri, there are a lot of people who are still on dial up or don’t even have access to the web!  The numbers are changing rapidly, but I know there will be many people in a year who will need the stories we report on the air and the election material in the newspaper and on the radio.  The old way of learning about the election season will remain important for many, many people.

Finding my voice

So I was grocery shopping and thinking about this blog.  I’ve blogged for years, but mostly about my family life.  I have two adorable kids who are pretty darn interesting.  But as I get deeper and deeper into my career, I realize I really should write down my professional thoughts.  It all exploded this summer when I had to share my moments of genius on Facebook.  I had this moment of excitement when Facebook applications started showing RSS feeds of news content.  To me this is a big shift in how journalists, businesses, bands, universities… ANYONE can share information on personal social network pages.  The BBC was the first to offer a topical RSS feed for Facebook.  I had spent the previous month or two begging someone to find a way to make that happen for my site’s RSS feeds.  Then it happened.  Once a major news outlet started doing it, more and more news outlets started coming up with amazing Facebook apps and other widgets through Google, Yahoo and any other application someone might use a lot.  I was excited.  I’m still excited about this stuff.

And that’s why I have to blog about my ideas.  It’s too exciting to hold it in my mind!