Notes and quotes on #ijf14 and the future of journalism

Notes on tweeted quotes from the International Journalism Festival in Perugia , Italy, 1-2 May 2014:

On accuracy and verification

We need to be moving past just tweeting stories, and whilst live updating is a great service, it sometimes needs context and clarity. And as has always been the case for journalism verification is at the heart of what makes it through to being published. In the first instance, just contact the source:

Fergus Bell from the AP talking about about verification processes, via Martin Belam’s post on the subject:

“The quickest verification on a breaking news story happens when someone still has the device in their hand.”

UGC and crediting supplied content

Start simple when someone sends or shares something interesting or newsworthy, retweeting is quick and simple, but there are pitfalls.

Is it too good a story to be true? Then it probably is. Who are they, where are they from, what else have they written/tweeted about? And if it’s legit, always credit them or the source webpage, we do the same with quotes:

On communities and engagement

It’s give and take regarding online communities, much can be gained from listening and monitoring, and you will get interaction from just being a news organistation.

But even more stories, comments and content are out there with the right input and human contact from journalists:

On the future of digital news and journalism

The legacy of old media still weighs heavy on staff and resource of newsrooms around the globe, it can’t be ignored, its as important a publishing platform and product as any, but it can no longer be an excuse for change and looking forwards to what audiences want and what news orgs can do in a digital future:

Image editing using Google Drive and Chrome apps

If you have a plain Google or an Apps account, you can manage and edit images from within Chrome for publishing and sharing online.And the experience is pretty neat and efficient from my experiences.

Firstly, sign in to Chrome.

Install Chrome Apps for in-browser editing (I’ve used these as mobile apps and they have a similar look and feel):

Pixlr Express offers quick edit tools such as cropping, sharpening, resizing or improving quality or sharpness, plus an array of effects.

While Pixlr Editor has a Photoshop-style feel for more advanced editing with many adjustments and filters that will be familiar to Adobe suite users.

Upload images and graphics to your Drive, then when you need to correct/resiz/e edit images, view in Drive, then open with and choose the apps

Then in Pixlr Express you can save back into Drive overwriting the original or a new copy (original file type only), whilst in Pixlr Editor you can also save at different quality levels to Drive or your computer or as a PNG file and rename files, plus the ability to share with Facebook, Flickr or to Picasa.

This is a bite-sized tip included in my loinger post: Fast, free and efficient image editing tools for digital publishing

Things to do in South Devon

Updated, April 2014: If I was going back home for a short break in or around south Devon, I’d do any of the following:

Torquay/Torbay based:

View from Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay

Panorama across Tor Bay from Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay, by me

Slightly further afield, but with a short drive of south Devon:

Teignmouth beach looking across to Shaldon

Teignmouth beach looking across to Shaldon, Devon

Using Google Forms for shopping habits survey

As part of JP-wide campaign to highlight and encourage independent retail in print and online, “championing our independent businesses with our Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local campaign“, there was opportunity to engage our local audience and gaining some real insight into Peterborough shopping habits.

For the Peterborough Telegraph I put together a story linking through to an online survey to find indie shopping habits in Peterborough.

I had great collaborative input and feedback on the survey questions from Rachel Parkin, Nyree Ambarchian and John Baker.

The survey has had over 100 responses so far, we will publish the result findings soon.

I kept the survey – produced using using Google Forms (very easy to produce and manage in my experience) – fairly generic and succinct in content to encourage users to finish it, and so that it could potentially be replicated elsewhere across our group.

The key I felt was making it long and detailed enough to gain qualitiative data, but short enough not to put people off completing it.

I also created a unique Bitly link for the form, so I know that 253 people have to date (8 April) visited the survey, and 113 people completed the form, so not a bad response rate.

Shop Local survey story screenshot

Screenshot of a web story for an online survey to find indie shopping habits in Peterborough

Digital content – making it engaging, findable and shareable

It looks like you're trying...

Clippy: ‘It looks like you’re trying…’

To re-purpose the famous words of an infamous paperclip, “It looks like you’re trying to… write content for a digital audience…?”

Even when I started out in the newsroom over 11 years ago – originally a newspaper focused arena – I’ve always held onto the mantra that a newspaper [publisher]‘s digital content should adhere to the same standards any print content does (read Steve Buttry on digital content standards).

Print isn’t web isn’t a liveblog isn’t social etc, in terms of style, the audience and the differing needs of that content. But, it’s all content with an associated journalistic brand and author and as such should adhere to a level of journalistic quality – whether it’s printed on paper or scrolling on screen. Use the appropriate content skills and standards and give it the best chance of getting the widest audience regardless of the platform.

Well here’s my digital strategy from within a multi-platform news publisher, i.e. print, web & social…

A few opening thoughts: Your story could be competing against competitor versions, locally or nationally. Make it easily findable, quickly scannable for the growing percentage of your audience finding content on mobile devices – and potentially not anywhere near your website.

Encourage and make sharing as easy as possible – the headline performs various roles for readers, within social streams and for search engines – neglect it at your peril.

  • Web headlines: find a balance between clever wordplay and selling the story to people in one line one.
    Ideally it must work as an easily identifiable phrase and as shareable as possible (read more about how and why shareability is important) on social media too.
    If from print, must contain at least one keyword – add place name, surname, organisation, event title etc. to ensure getting noticed and avoid ambiguity.
    Above all remember, your headline may well be seen all alone on a small screen, no intro, photo or branding to add context – it has to make people click on it, all on it’s own merits.
  • Intros: all of the above not already mentioned. Titles, sports teams and players should initially be referenced in full before using nicknames. Not everyone will know/understand the reference (including search engines) and ensures being found by either name via web or social searches.
  • Date stamp: I’m a big fan of  a date stamp, don’t leave the article reader wondering when the story was written or last updated, and ‘today’, ‘Monday’ etc should always be followed by ‘(6 March)’.
    A ‘live’ or unfolding story should  always start with the last updated time. Don’t make readers guess how up-to-date story is.
  • Keywords: Always write every person’s name, business, location in full initially, teams nicknames should be used, but the first reference should always be a full team name. Not everyone reading or searching for the story will use or be fully aware of a nickname or common local term. This also helps to give the content a better chance of being, found, read, shared, interacted with.
  • Bylines: journalist should be associated with lead story for everyone’s benefit, adds a point of contact for feedback and interaction. Also benefits search engine ranking assigning known content author.
    Read more on ‘Why bother with Google Authorship?
  • Sub-heads: break up the content for digital readers who will frequently be skimming quickly at various times, and more and more often via small mobile screens, lists are also key ways of ‘chunking’ content more efficiently for a time-poor online audience.
  • Call to action: encourage debate via commenting or social media. Ask a leading question, ask for interested readers or potential experts to engage or contribute – it’s not lazy journalism, it’s opening up the news process in a digital age where the barriers of communication and interaction have come down.
  • Links – related content/sources: if it’s a follow-up to a previous event, link back (and ideally forward from previous), or create a timeline for an ongoing event and link new articles back to. Don’t leave dead ends encouraging users to leave the website, add efficient context – no point re-adding backstory to each online article as might be done in print. People might be put off reading an unnecessarily overlong piece.
  • External links: if it’s important or a focal point of the story, make URLs clickable, ideally not just to a homepage if a specific page (don’t leave users straned on a strange site, not sure where to look), add value to the story and the page in the short and long term.
    You should always link back to sources, let other people see where the facts/quotes/stats came from.
    And why link? Because links are what the Web is built on!
    And, remember the link text should describe what the link is/where it link goes, never ‘click here’ alone. Read: Why is link text so important? from Webcredible
  • Captions: Keep it simple, who, where, when, and credit, always credit as you would any other piece of content or information someone else has provided. And you would expect the same in return…
  • Updates: Always close the story, if a breaking story has progressed or ended at a later time/date, update the intro timestamp to immediately identify new information and alwaystie-up loose ends, don’t leave readers wondering what happened. (Or the story lives on in the archives, forever waiting for closure…)
  • Corrections: As should be an obvious strategy, always correct errors in online version of story, if a serious change, particularly if any legal issue, reference this change and date stamp it at the end of the story.

Fast, free and efficient image editing tools for digital publishing

Need to quickly edit/crop/resize an image for publishing to web, social media? Here are some on and offline image editing tools I use/have tried:

Photoshop is great, has many uses and advanced features, but for more efficient (and free!) working with, and publishing digital images , there are plenty of online and offline options.

As highlighted during a session at the recent news:rewired digital journalism conference, Pixlr is a fast and efficient option for making quick adjustments and saving, I’m referring here to Pixlr Express (there is a more advanced fuller version Pixlr Editor – essentially an online Photosop-esque clone), screenshot below. It’s pretty quick, edits also are snappy, and be in and out in a couple of minutes. For me it’s usually for web and social media publishing, so mostly cropping, resizing, a bit of sharpening and on my way. Express screenshot

Screenshot of in action

Mobile apps are available for both versions – I’d also highly recommend them – see Pixlr mobile apps for Google Play and iOS. See also: a guide to Pixlr Express on Gizmo’s Freeware ‘Edit Your Photos Like a Pro’

One advantage of the full-fat Pixlr Editor is you can sign-up using a Google account and edit and share saved images via GMail to Picasa, flickr or Facebook which may fit some workflows – tip via Nick Summers of The Next Web at news:rewired.

Other online options include Fotor, although a little slower, still provides basic editing and more advanced tools.

Photoshop itself has an online Express Editor, again, not as quick as Pixlr in my experiences, and can only output as JPEGs, but has a good set of editing tools and effects.

For more advanced work, without the expense of Photoshop, try GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) a free piece of software for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. (via Dan Thornton @badgergravling)

Smashing Magazine has some Handy Tweaks To Make GIMP Replace Photoshop.

More online photo editing tools reviewed by The Next Web.

For cloud storage, sharing and more sedate editing and image management, Picasa (naturally linked with Google+ now) has always been a solid (and free) performer. Plenty of editing tool enhancements recently to beef up its offering.

For offline image editing/screen-grabbing, I couldn’t live without FastStone Capture – see the last free version here.

A great, small, efficient tool for screengrabs or image editing – very efficient, with a simple toolset for basic edits, I’ve literally been using it most days at work for several years. Either screengrab or locate an image file, drag the image onto the floating desktop toolbar to edit. You can save out as GIF, JPEG, PCX, PNG, TGA, TIFF and PDF formats.

I find the text overlays/annotations are a useful addition. I have it installed to a USB for use on the go, only a small program file.