Archive for the ‘Slide Shows’ Category

Sometimes it takes an epiphany to get you to think “Digital First”

Steve Buttry, who has the impressive if murky title of “Digital Transformation Editor” for Digital First Media, the entity that now operates the combined newspaper and television properties of the Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group, spends a lot of his time speaking not only to working journalists but to journalism students. He preaches the gospel of digital media as not only the future, but the present reality of the news business.

I happen to agree, and was glad to meet the man at an all-day Digital Media Workshop at the University of Colorado, sponsored by the Digital News Test Kitchen, a cutting-edge media think-tank. Buttry, who’s based in northern Virginia, spent the workshop sharing his views on the importance of embracing the evolving tools and technologies of news, and also giving hands-on tips that journalists can employ to tell stories for the new age.

He had lots of examples of newspapers doing innovative work and trying new ideas, like using a board on one Journal Register paper’s Pinterest page to show the local police’s Most Wanted mugshots (arrests increased). He also offered do’s and don’ts for other social media and digital tools.

In true digital-first fashion, there was a flurry of tweets during the workshop posted by attendees (lord knows when Buttry found the time to re-tweet some of them while he was still presenting), and Buttry posted on his blog about the workshop within a few hours. The post includes helpful links to all the examples of great multimedia and cutting-edge work that he used during his talk, and they’re worth checking out for anyone interested in the best that digital journalism has to offer.

His blog post includes a link to a Storify timeline, a compilation of tweets and photos uploaded live as the workshop progressed, curated by a journalism student, Rob Denton. Denton signed up for Storify when Buttry mentioned it, and created the timeline during the workshop. That’s how easy it can be to try out and learn some of the cool new tools that are available for journalists to use.

On his blog, Buttry also uses a service called Slideshare to upload all the slides from his presentation – a wealth of intelligence available for anyone to learn from. Slideshare is a social network to distribute PowerPoint presentations, and a perfect way to share expertise (assuming that your PowerPoint presentation isn’t a snoozer, and Buttry’s aren’t).

During the Q&A session, I asked if there was an epiphany in his career, which began in traditional newspapers that led him to embrace online media. “It’s really more a process than an epiphany,” he said.

He noted that he went into journalism in part because he knew he’d learn something new every day, and embracing new tools and platforms hasn’t been so different. He did remember that in 1984, he was in charge of a Des Moines Register initiative to raise community engagement by “crowdsourcing” news into a “Hometown” section. The idea didn’t fly with traditional journalists, but he was impressed with the power of the people who contributed.

He also remembered an early introduction to the Web as a research tool through a “Computer Assisted Reporting” (that’s what they used to call online, database-driven journalism stuff back in the day) project for the Omaha World Herald as the closest thing he had to an epiphany.

My epiphany was when I was entertainment editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette in 1994 (we were one of the first five American newspapers to have a website), and I got an email from a reader. He was thanking me for the paper’s arts coverage because he was a local scientist stuck in Antarctica for the winter, and our website allowed him to keep up with the rich local arts scene.

The knowledge that someone halfway around the globe could instantly read what I was publishing online changed my whole concept of news media. I realized that family and friends in Japan could now instantly follow what I was doing, and read my articles. Today that doesn’t seem too shocking, since we could Skype around the world for free and video-chat on Google Hangout, or read live tweets and watch live streamed video from anywhere in the world — or even outer space.

But back then, I have to admit, the idea blew my mind. That’s when I knew the Internet would be the future of news media, and that I had to find my place in it during the dawn of this evolution. I haven’t regretted the decision once.

If you had an epiphany about online media, send it along to — I’d love to hear your stories.

A version of this post was submitted for SPJ’s Quill magazine.

It won’t stay in Vegas: Digital Media Handbook, Part 2, is bustin’ out all over

Do want to know how to use social media to build your online brand? How to edit video in Windows Movie Maker or create cool online charts? How to decide what makes the best video story?

Then you need to read SPJ’s Digital Media Handbook, Part 2. It’s out now online and is totally free — brought to you by SPJ’s Digital Media Committee.

This is the sequel to our hugely successful Digital Media Handbook, Part 1, which was published earlier this year and which has received more than 13,000 reads on

We posted Part 2, which includes even more great tips and how-to guides, to the blog fairly quietly during the recent national convention in Las Vegas — and even though all y’all SPJ’ers out there were cramming the TwitterSphere with a round-the-clock full-on, firehose-power stream of #SPJ10 tweets, Part 2 has still gotten more than 900 reads so far.

But now that everyone is back home, the Twitter traffic is less congested and everyone’s hangovers should be over by now, we’re re-launching Part 2.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — everything but the Digital Media Handbook, folks. It’s going nationwide.

It’s entirely free — all we ask is that you share the link with other journalists.

Society of Professional Journalists’ Digital Media Handbook, Part II

But we’re not finished. We’re hoping in the next several months to come out with Part 3, which will be produced — along with the great content on this blog — by our new Digital Media Committee line-up.

Here’s a look at who will be staffing Net Worked in the coming year, with a little bit about them and their contact info:

Jennifer Peebles
Deputy editor Texas Watchdog in Houston; former president of the Middle Tennessee Pro chapter in Nashville.

Vice Chairman
Rebecca Aguilar
Freelance broadcast journalist in Dallas; board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Andrew Chavez
New media specialist at the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

James Craven
Municipal and political reporter for the New Britain (Conn.) Herald, president of SPJ’s Connecticut Pro chapter.

Jamie DeLoma
Adjunct professor of journalism and assistant director of public relations and social media, Quinnipiac University

Jodie Mozdzer
Reporter, Valley Independent Sentinel

James Pilcher
Business projects reporter, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and SPJ Region 4 Director

David Sheets
Sports news editor, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Danielle Cervantes Stephens
Data specialist, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Emily Sweeney
Staff reporter and multimedia journalist at the Boston Globe; former president of the New England Pro Chapter

So, if you have questions, comments, concerns or suggestions — about the digital media handbooks, or about digital media in general — shoot us a note. We’ll be glad to hear from you.

SPJ’s Digital Media Handbook, Part 2, is here

You’ve been waiting, and here it is! It’s the SPJ Digital Media Handbook, Part 2. Check it out and find more digital media tools that you can use to make your journalism stronger and better. No more staring at web tools and wondering how to use them. We’re giving you the “how to’s” right here.

Our first Digital Media Handbook has been read nearly 13,000 times on We’re giving this book to you for free. All we ask is that you share the link with other journalists.

Society of Professional Journalists’ Digital Media Handbook, Part II

Free online book in Spanish on Digital Tools for Journalists

Sandra CrucianelliArgentine journalist, Sandra Crucianelli knew something was missing when she attended the IRE conference in Miami in 2008. She couldn’t find a book on digital media tools for journalists in Spanish.

Crucianelli has now written the book in Spanish called “Herramientas Digitales Para Periodistas.”  It’s been published by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, and is available for free in a PDF that can be downloaded. Here’s the link:

I looked over this online book and strongly feel it’s a great resource for reporters who work in Spanish language newspapers or online news sites.  It’s also handy for reporters who are learning Spanish in hopes of someday working in Mexico, Spain, and South or Central America.

The book includes chapters on accessing databases and official documents, using social networks, video conferencing, photo galleries and blogs.

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy Award winning freelance multimedia reporter in Dallas. She produces videos, digital slideshows along with her reports. She is currently working on an Associate’s Degree in Multimedia Development.  She can be reached at

Create an interactive timeline using Dipity

Interactive timelines are a great visual way to inform and engage users about your news topic.

Dipity timelines can do more than display simple text. Adding photos, links, and pulling in RSS feeds are just a few of the fun features you can play around with.

Timelines created in Dipity can be displayed using a standard linear graph or in ‘Flipbook’ mode which is similar to a multimedia carousel or ‘List’ which displays the content in a cataloged format.

Whether you are detailing a series of events that lead up to a major news event i.e., the spread of the swine flu, or providing a historical and chronological display of events i.e, the History of the New York City Marathon timelines are no longer confined to the boring textbooks of yesteryer.


Go to Dipity and create a free user account.

Click ‘Add a Topic’

A window will appear asking you to choose a method to craft your timeline: Web search, RSS Feed, Blank.

To begin creating a standard timeline choose Blank.


The window will allow you to give the timeline a Title, Desciption, upload a timeline profile picture, add SEO tags, pick a theme, a timezone, and allow you to determine who you will allow to view your timeline.

I would suggest picking a free theme and allowing anyone to view your timeline.

To start creating events on your timeline click the blue button ‘Add an Event’.

A new window will appear that asks you to include a:

  • Title
  • Date
  • Description
  • Upload a picture or paste an image URL
  • Add a link
  • Include the location of the event (Dipity will generate a map for the location of the event)
  • Add a video URL

Once you click ‘Save’ the event will be added to your timeline which you can view in the standard Timeline format, as a Flipbook, List or on the Map.

You can always go back and edit or delete any of the fields by clicking the event located on your timeline.

You can click ‘Add a Source’ to feed other online account data into your timeline i.e., Flickr, Tumblr, FriendFeed and Yelp, to name just a few.

Once you have completed adding in all your ‘events’ you can embed your Dipity timeline into your website, blog, or Facebook. Dipity will generate a customized embed code when you click ‘embed widget’.


Dipity is also social media savvy and allows other Dipity users to comment on your timeline and has Twitter, Facebook and a host of other social networking apps to help you spread the word about your cool new timeline.

Still have more questions? Check out the Dipity FAQ.

If you experiment with the RSS timeline feeds you’ll discover that Dipity automatically pulls in the images embedded into your posts or articles. Personally, I think this is a great feature – one less field for me to fill in!

Examples of Dipity interactive timelines:

Hilary Fosdal is the Interactive Content Manager for Barrington Broadcasting Group. She blogs at and tweets @hilaryfosdal.

Try it: Windows Live Writer for blog publishing

A funny thing happened when I was learning all about WordPress this month at their WordCamp in New York City: I stumbled upon a new Windows desktop application available for download that was created to make blogging easier.

As WordCamp attendees stampeded to an SEO workshop, I attended a Live Writer (beta) presentation by Dani Diaz, a Microsoft developer out of Philadelphia.

The first question Dani posed to the audience was: “How many of you time-out of your online session and lose your material when you are blogging?” My hand shot up.

With WYSIWYG authoring, Live Writer allows bloggers to create posts on their desktop with all the capabilities of blogging software. The settings allow users to transfer posts from Live Writer to major blogging software accounts, fully formatted to that software. That is, you can set Live Writer, for instance, to WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc., formatting and when you have completed your post, just send the whole thing over and it will be posted to your account. You can do this with countless blogging accounts by adjusting the Live Writer settings to tell the post where to go.

Here’s how the company explains it on their blog:

Windows Live Writer is a desktop application that makes it easier to compose compelling blog posts using Windows Live Spaces or your current blog service.

Blogging has turned the web into a two-way communications medium. Our goal in creating Writer is to help make blogging more powerful, intuitive, and fun for everyone.

Among the features:

  • integrate text and multi-media to the working Live Writer page
  • integrate live links. Frequently-used links recur automatically as you type them.
  • set publishing schedules. (This one was popular with the crowd)

Live Writer was also built for full compatibility with Windows Live application.

Jessica Durkin is a member of the SPJ Digital Media Commmittee, the Region 3 director for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and is a big advocate of entrepreneurial journalism. Jessica is based in Scranton, PA. She started to track online comunity news start-ups. She’s @jessdrkn.

From the Power to the Prezi

ATTENTION: This post is for all the journalists who find themselves manning a desk more than a beat. Here is a cool digital tool for your managerial toolbox.

Are you dreading having to prepare yet another PowerPoint presentation?

Ready to take your work presentation to the next level?

Sounds like you are ready for prezi.


Prezi is ‘the zooming presentation editor.’

You won’t find any traditional linear slideshow options or square-boxed-constraints when you start building your prezi.

You start with an empty canvas and express your ideas using text, frames, media files and your creativity.

Want a word to be off-center? Use the ‘transformation zebra’ and place a word on a slant.

Want to emphasize a detail and then pull back to show the bigger picture? You can do it, visually, using prezi’s zoom in and zoom out features.

You can group your ideas within frames, add images, and you are always free to jump the tracks and zoom into a different section should you decide to construct a ‘path’ that leads your audience from one thought to the next.

Prezi also allows you to save your presentation offline. Now you’re ready to give your talk on any computer, at any time, no internet access required.

Curious? Want to learn more? Take Prezi out for a test drive…the public license plan is free.

Hilary Fosdal is the Interactive Content Manager for Barrington Broadcasting Group. You can read more of her work on her blog Running for Food (

What I learned about crime reporting via Twitter

The Twitter trial was exhausting.

But the response was worth it.  That’s what I’ve found is usually true in this business. The most difficult reporting brings the best rewards.

I had to take a week’s vacation after the capital murder trial of Ted Burnett just to rest up and refuel.  After weeks of microblogging details of the brutal death of a 14-year-old girl, I didn’t have much left to even keep this blog up.  But thanks to all those who followed my coverage on Twitter and those who may patiently return to this blog to learn what happened, from a journalist’s standpoint.  You all keep me going.

Here’s some of the feedback I received from readers:

  • “I’m addicted …”
  • “I found myself checking in a couple of times per day just to read your postings.  Due to my schedule, I do not always get to spend time each morning reading the paper and rely on online news during the day.”
  • “This was yet another great use for 2.0 tools!”
  • “I very much wanted to follow the trial and when I came across your Twitter page I was delighted.  I thought at first it might be annoying to have to continually refresh the page to get updates, but found I could easily get work done and come back every 10 minutes or so and read through your updates.”
  • “I loved being able to press the refresh button on my browser every minute for new ‘tweets.’ While I am emotionally involved in this case, I was not able to take a week off work and join my family friends in the courtroom. With twitter I am able to virtually be in the court room and know all of the little details that I had not previously known about.”

I had started using Twitter during jury selection, as a solution to some problems we’d had with trying to file live updates during the trial. We wanted immediacy, and we got it.

One day, I cut and pasted all my “tweet” updates into a traditional story file.  It measured 80 inches.  Now, I don’t think anyone would have read an 80-inch story from the newspaper on this trial, as compelling as it was. My editors certainly wouldn’t have run a story that long.  But what I found is that people will read an 80-inch story, given to them a paragraph at a time, 140 characters long.

In addition to Twitter, I also produced multimedia:  audio slide show such as this one of a co-conspirator explaining the killing of Chelsea Brooks.

Between the text descriptions from the courtroom over Twitter, and the multimedia, we were able to give people a feeling of being there that I had never before been able to do in my career.  This trial had a “press room” in the law library of an adjoining courtroom.

I kept a Macbook Pro in there with Soundslides and Audacity, so I could edit audio files and organize photos on breaks.  I had the photographer on duty download photos to a memory stick I wore around my neck. That saved time.  Most days I was able to complete everything – including writing a story for the morning newspaper – at a decent hour.  The tweets during the day were really my notes that I used to fashion the newspaper story.

It wasn’t perfect.  I had my share of typos, filing live with no copy desk backup.  But no one complained about the occasional misspellings.

Twitter had outages, sometimes during the most dramatic parts the trial.

Here are some lessons I learned that may help other reporters wanting to “tweet” live events:

  • Keep a “cheat sheet” handy of key dates, addresses and names of those involved.  It will save time to keep looking them up in your notes.
  • Don’t assume anything.  If you’re not sure you totally understand what you’re hearing, save that information until you can ask for further explanations.
  • Remember, it’s easier for people to follow narrative stories.  Try to establish what the story is and filter information so that it fits within the storyline.  This was easy in a trial, because certain witnesses were there to tell what happened.  Other parts weren’t as easy, such as forensic evidence. With that, I had to work harder to maintain a story that wouldn’t lose people.
  • When the event takes a break, tell people.  I always added a tweet that said “court is in recess for 15 minutes,” so readers wouldn’t keep refreshing the page, hoping to find information.
  • Pay attention to the environment around you.  Don’t just report what people say.  Look for reactions and moods.
  • You will catch mistakes, most of which you’ll notice right as you hit “send.”  File corrections immediately and mark them as such.  It will keep your readers’ trust.
  • Make time to rest, especially if it’s going to be an event such as a trial that lasts for days, even weeks.  You will be exhausted.

You may even find Twitter improves your writing.  When you have to stay within 140 characters, you’re forced to write tight.
Update: We got a big morale boost during the trial from the American Bar Association, which contacted us for this article in ABA On-Line Journal. The article gave us immediate credability with judges and lawyers around the courthouse, which will probably help us continue using this tool.

Fitting multimedia into the workday

My multimedia goal now usually is to get home in time for dinner.

I’m only partially kidding.  My first year created some long, hard hours of learning.  I knew I was straining patience when I would begin receiving text messages from my wife, about 9 p.m.  The learning was worth it, and this year my goal is to integrate multimedia into my regular workday.  That means getting home for dinner on time.

I did that with two pieces that week.

The first involved a new medical residency in Wichita, the first of its kind in the nation, geared toward training doctors for the challenges of practicing medicine in developing nations.

When I went to interview the doctors who were building this program, I took a video camera and recorded them.  The story didn’t really fit video. I ended up with a bunch of talking heads.  The doctors did have some incredible pictures they’d brought back with them from their travels, however.

I took the audio track off the video, exported it as an MP3, edited it in Audacity and used it with the photos for a slide show.

That did take some time.  But I finished the story and composed the multimedia while my editor was working the text.  I did have to stop once, and pick up my high school son from track practice, but I was able to come back and finish it, no problem.

A couple of days later, I was scheduled to work a Saturday shift.  Saturday being a slow news day, editors usually try to find a quick-turnaround feature of an event happening that day.

This day, I was assigned to cover the annual festival of the statewide honors bands and choirs.  These are the kinds of assignments as a young journalist, I would dread. But after 30 years in journalism and playing dad to several kids, I love these kinds of stories.  Not only have I been to my share of events, I like this idea.  It’s the musical equivalent of all-state in basketball.

I thought it might make a good video.  The challenge with all video, but especially music, is to capture good audio.  Because this was an acoustic concert, there was no sound system to plug into.  The camera mic picked up audience noise, and this is the cold season, so plenty of coughing and wheezing in the background.

I experimented with something I’d wanted to try for some time now, but hadn’t had the courage – or the time – to figure out:  recording audio separately.

I took out my Edirol-09 mp3 recorder.  I turned on the “automatic gain control” (AGC), because I would be shooting video and couldn’t ride the levels manually.  This way, the sound would adjust itself.  I set it on the stage in front of the band and went about shooting video.

I’d worried about the time in learning how to synch the audio with the video.  I’d read about it, and even learned that’s the reason for the clapboard you see sometimes associated with old movies.

I did it this way:

Back at the editing station, I downloaded the mp3 from the Edirol. I edited the song I wanted using Audacity and imported it to the time line of Final Cut Pro, which is the video editing software we use.  I then pulled in the video clip of the same song to the timeline.

I watched the conductor’s visual cues.  When he brought his hands down to signal the band to play, I stopped it (with the space bar).  I then lined up my audio track to that point.  I played both the terrible sound from the camera with the imported track to make sure they were playing together.  Then I muted the audio track from the camera to make sure it looked and sounded right.  I cut in some close-ups and b-roll.

The result is this video.

It won’t win any awards, but really most of what we do on a daily basis is to inform, to entertain, to illustrate.  My target audience on this video was to get the attention of the parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters of the students who made the honors band.  And I liked picking the kids from the smallest schools in Kansas, Classes 1A-4A.

It didn’t take me forever. I made it home for supper. I even made it home in time to make dinner.  My own high schooler appreciated that.

Class Act

If you want to revive your enthusiasm for the future of journalism, spend an hour in a college J-class.

Not only have I met some really brilliant students online through social networking and SPJ, the occasional invite to speak to a class by prof friends renews my faith.  The students are engaged.  They asked good questions.  They at least fake not falling asleep really well.

Of course, prepping for the class and actually worrying over whether I will really interest them enhances my respect for journalism teachers such as Mindy McAdams, Andy Dickinson, Mark Hamilton, Charles Davis and Randy Brown, who asks me to come speak to his classes a couple of times a year.  These folks do this every day, and God love ‘em for it.

I told the students I would post the links we talked about in class on this blog, so they could continue to explore the changing face of journalism.

The new stuff

As I said in class, there are plenty of tutorials on the web to help people learn how to do it all.  All it takes is time.  Here are some helpful links to learning and cool tools:

The BCC offers some great tips on audio and video

Make your slideshows with Sound SlidesAnd learn how to use it – easy.

Don’t want to spend the money on that program, no matter how inexpensive? Then make your slideshows with the free MovieMaker already on your computer.

Learn to gather and edit audio

Explore Google Earth and Google Maps


We we also looked at both national examples and what we’re doing locally:

Flight Delays – Las Vegas Sun

Crime Map –

Kansas Democrat Caucus –

Hidden Poor – Chicago Tribune

WSU Shiftspace

Video & Map Mashup

I’ve got to thank Ryan Sholin and Andy Dickinson for help with some of these links.  And Andy’s link to the video/map mashup was a hit.  Nothing holds attention like a sports car racing through a metropolitan area.


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ