Thursday, 31 March 2011

Curating the new journalism

The new journalism? Perhaps that sounds a little portentous

After all, some of us haven’t finished with the old one yet

Maybe not, but a perfect storm of change has conspired to pick us up and thrust into a whole new journalistic reality.
The key elements in this revolution are these:
  • The birth of new journalistic forms – key among them curation and live blogging
  • Smartphones that give everyone the ability to broadcast live, multimedia content from anywhere, any time
  • New mobile, geo-location platforms that combine news and community, and root reporting to place
  • World-changing events that can’t be covered adequately by traditional journalists using traditional means of reporting
  • The demand from many – call them citizen journalists or just eye witnesses - to be part of the reporting process
That’s not to say the old journalistic values, the old standards, aren’t just as vital in this new world, but it does mean they are under threat.
So how do traditionally-trained journalists respond?
I can only speak for myself.
I’ve tried to curate all that is going on, and to build a resource bank that looks at all the new developments, all the new software, publishing platforms and bits of kit.
I’ve drawn all that I see going on, and as much wisdom from as many informed sources as I can muster, and tried to build a range of tutorials that present all the new opportunities for journalists, and journalism students, with numerous examples of how the most inspired and adventurous are applying them to their journalism.
I’ve been publishing this stuff over the past few weeks at The final piece is now in place.
So here are some highlights from what I’ve come up with:

New ways of reporting online

The Digital Media Pyramid – adapting the traditional story structure for multimedia:
How to make long-form journalism work online:
Beat blogging:
Applauding pioneers in the new ways of reporting:

Location-based content for local journalism

How to build content platforms on a range of emerging geo-location applications

Building content, and community, around points on the map with Bubbleby:
How to use Foursquare in your journalism:
Use Gowalla to create interactive stories for your readers:
Create geoguides with Gowalla:

Curatorial journalism

What it is, why it's becoming more important, the best platforms to use

The best use of Storify:
The best use of
How curation works on Wikipedia:

Live Blogging and real-time reporting

How to cover major, rolling stories as they happen

Styles of live blog from the BBC, the New York Times, The Guardian and more:
Planning your real-time reporting:
How to report live:
How to live blog:
Live blog publishing platforms:
Issues of balance, attribution and verification:

Need a structured personal learning plan?

If you would like a personalised learning plan to help you develop your skills in any of the areas discussed above or, indeed, in any other aspect of multimedia, mobile journalism, then please get in touch.

My training company, Andy Bull Multimedia, has a wide range of elearning and in-person courses available.
You'll find the full outline of my training offering here:

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Location-based journalism gets easier with Bubbleby

I raved about Bubbleby as a great way to create journalism around a point on the map here in the MMJ masterclass on Location-based Content for local Journalism.

Now Bubbleby has introduced a key improvement. Here's how they announced it today:
New Feature
Finally, naming and renaming of bubbles is possible!
Your feedback was clear. Customizable names are important for the identity of bubbles. We kept the addressing scheme, but now you get to choose the names of your bubbles.

Our addressing scheme is loosely based on how addresses are assigned in Japan. Checkout this video about Japanese addresses and thinking different on "Derek Sivers - Weird or Just Different?".

New bubbleby Uses
In the last couple of weeks we saw two exiting examples of how users are beginning to take over bubbleby and are coming up with new ways of using it.

  • Andy Bull had the idea to use bubbleby as a tool for journalists to create stories and communities around locations and came up with a great example.
  • And tweets started appearing about using bubbleby in conjunction with google translate to find and translate twitter messages surrounding the terrible events in Japan and Libya.
To support users who want to explore areas where they don't know the language, we now directly integrated translation into the site.
Simply press the "en"-button below any tweet and get its english translation.

We hope that this new feature will not only find use at times of catastrophies and uprisings, but that it will also be a great tool to explore the unfolding of more fortunate events!

Did you come up with any new uses of bubbleby? Then please get in touch, so we can add new tools and features to support you.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Curatorial Journalism: the what, why and how

What curation is...Why it’s important...How to do it well

Curation is a new word for doing something that old school journalists might call copy tasting.

On a traditional national newspaper or broadcaster's newsdesk you’ll find a copytaster who sifts through the incoming reports from news agencies - Reuters, AP, PA, Agence France Presse and the rest - rejecting some, selecting others and pushing the most promising ones towards staff reporters, or the relevant specialists, for their assessment and follow up.
So some of those wire stories are developed, expanded and taken to a new level. Other, less promising ones, are printed straight, with or without reference to the source.

In the new world of journalism, the sources for stories have multiplied, and become available to all.

Eyewitnesses, industry experts and citizen journalists all have the ability to publish their material direct to the public if they wish. There is a far greater wealth of information being disseminated, on a wide range of open publishing platforms.
If we are talking about eyewitness accounts, Twitter probably comes first to mind. There’s also a lot of material filed to Facebook, video to YouTube and other platforms.
If there is a really big story – a Japanese earthquake, tsumani and nuclear meltdown, or unrest in a range of Middle Eastern countries, then the resources of profession journalists and broadcasters/publishers are completely inadequate to the task of reporting.

It’s down to eyewitnesses – or citizen journalists – to provide the vast majority of first-person material for the many reports that will be crafted about these events.

OK, there will be a few hard-news honchos striding in their flack jackets or anti-radiation suits through a scene of conflict or devastation, but what they can tell us is often actually pretty superficial.
The BBC saw fit to parachute a non-Japanese speaker into the heart of the unfolding nuclear disaster when the story was at its height, and went live to him as sirens were sounding and convoys of vehicles were passing.
The studio jockey asked him, as he broadcast live from the roadside, what those sirens were all about. The poor guy had no idea. I sympathise, I would have had no idea what was going on either.
I’d have had to look to social media - at local tweets and the rest - and use a translation tool to try to find out.
Given that many big events can’t be covered adequately by professional journalists, what do we need to do?

We need to look to social media, and the vast amount of eyewitness material and informed comment they hold.

The problem with all this eye-witness stuff is that it is unverified, sometimes unreliable, sometimes inaccurate.
What it lacks is the eye of a professional journalist, who can sift, evaluate and seek to corroborate the material that is presented.
That’s the process an old-school copy taster sets in train. And it’s the same process we embark upon when we try to take these raw sources of information, compare them, try to find patterns in information that reveal a truth.

That process describes what curatorial journalism is.

But it doesn’t just relate to really big stories.

Because everyone with a smartphone has the capacity to file multimedia reports, many people can contribute to the raw source-material for a story.
Curatorial journalism is about bringing an objective journalistic eye to all that raw date, sifting it, and presenting the best of it to a wider audience.
In another field, that of comment and analysis on an industry, there will be many commentators, some who describe themselves as journalists, others who are key members of that industry, some with less elevated roles but still with potentially illuminating insights.

Curating an industry, an issue, a hobby or pastime is also a valuable and rewarding journalistic enterprise.

So the old-school skill of copy tasting can be reinvented in the modern world as one in which many news sources – both official and unofficial, eyewitness, citizen journalist and/or expert can be scanned, appraised and either added to the report or rejected.
This masterclass is about how to practice curatorial journalism.
It’s about the platforms that help you curate the news, and the ways in which you can identify the best sources for the news you choose to curate.
Potentially, anyone could do this, what will make our curations worth reading?
It comes down to a fundamental journalistic skill – the ability to present information in the most dramatic and engaging way.

Have we curated, selected and packaged source material in such a way that people want to read it? If so, we have created successful journalism. If not, we’ve failed.

We may at times be unsure of the reliability of our sources, but we can at least identify what those sources are. That way, the reader can decide whether to trust them.
There are a range of platforms that promise the opportunity to curate successfully. We’ll look at some of them in this masterclass.
Which platform is most appropriate for you depends in part on the sort of curation you want to practice, and how much work you want to put in.
Want to know more about the reasons for curating? Here's a great Mashable article: Why curation is important to the future of journalism


There'll be some ideas for curation projects as we get down to using particular platfoms in later modules. Feel free to share them with the MMJ community by sending a link via any of the comment buttons, or to @andybull on Twitter.

Next: Choosing what to curate, and the right platform for you

Multimedia conversion course for mid-career journalists

If you're a journalist with traditional print skills who has decided it's time to get to grips with multimedia and social media, then this self-guided e-learning course has been designed for you.

It'll take you, step-by-step, on a structured learning programme that will enabel you to transfer your print skills to multimedia, and help you learn the new skills that you need. 

You work at your own pace, with email and phone support from me along the way. And there are projects for you to complee at every step - a clear record of your progress.

You'll find an outline of the course, and its content here, and a video, audio and print explanation of the approach we take here.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

How would you start to organise a college digital journalism class?

That's the question an assistant professor at a US university posed in an email.

I hit reply and this is what came out:

The very first thing I'd ask them to do would be to take out their smartphones.

I'd get them to open accounts at Posterous, Twitter, Facebook, Audioboo, Flickr and either Qik or UStream.

They'll probably have Facebook and Twitter already but I'd urge them to create professional accounts - a Facebook page for their journalism and a Twitter account that doesn't overlap with too much of their private lives.

I'd explain how these platforms can be used, together with a smartphone, to create live or recorded multimedia content that can be broadcast to their Posterous blog and thence to a wide range of social media.

Then I'd send them out to find some stories. If they can't think of anything I'd suggest a vox pop on an issue in the news that day.

I'd give them two hours and when they got back I'd get each student to present their content to the rest of the class.

What I'd hope to acheive in this is to get them to realise they have a braodcast tool in their pocket, and that creating multimedia content is straightforward.

I'd use this as a platform to launch into these two areas:
- seeing how their work compares to best (and worst) practice out there - my hunch is that they'll have done a lot more than most news outlets.
- improving their techniques in everything from story writing, how to make tweets compelling, taking stills, to basic good practice with video and audio.

I'd structure things so that, week by week, you drill further down into each component skill of multimedia journalism, so that by the end of the course they can do great work in all areas.

So, for video, that they can finally plan, record and edit a good 90 second package, with all the right shots, voice over etc. I'd work on text, audio, stills etc in the same way.

At all points I'd have them working on their social engagement, and competing (if competition is allowed!) to see who gets the most Twitter followers, Facebook page likes and so on.

I'd try to demonstrate that the popularity of their journalism is in close relationship to how much they care about it, how much effort they put into it, and how good a digital storyteller they become.

So those are my thoughts - I'd be interested to hear what other educators think about the right approach. You can see more of my take on things here:

Friday, 18 March 2011

My Top-five photo-editing apps for smartphones

These apps put a picture-editor in your pocket

They bring sophisticated photo-editing and darkroom effects within the range of the complete novice.

I’ve been playing around with a range of photo-editing apps recently, and I’m impressed with what you can do in terms of creating photo panoramas, adding effects, frames and combining individual photos in a clean and elegant picture layout or grid.

It means you can create some very professional effects without any photographic knowledge at all – apart from having an eye for a good shot. After that the apps take over, turning your snap into something that wouldn’t embarrass the pages of a glossy mag, let alone a web page
Not all the apps do all of these things, most go for one aspect of picture editing and publishing, so you can use them best in combination, as I'll demonstrate below.
Because I use an iPhone, and believe it’s the best phone for journalism, my list is slanted towards that phone, but some of the apps are available for Android as well, and if they aren’t I’ve tried to identify a reasonable alternative.

1 Autostitch

Autostitch automatically recognises matching images – that is, images where some of the same information is contained in them. So if you take a series of pictures that overlap by about a third, Autostitch turns them into a complete panorama, which it builds with no input from you.
Perfect when you’ve got a line up of people to shoot, or a panoramic landscape, or if you simply want to take several shots of part of the scene you wish to capture and have the app knit those elements together.
So you can use it simply to make up for the narrow lens angle achievable on the smartphone own lens
Here’s a simple panorama:
 Here'a scene that wouldn’t fit in one frame

I've left the borders as they are, but Autostich has a cropping tool so you can tidy the image up if you like.
You can also get creative with Autostitch. You can trick it, by loading pictures that while covering the same scene, don’t all overlap and have key elements of the scene in different places:
For instance, there is only one stone pillar in the middle of this labyrinth, but because I shot about 15 pictures, not all of which overlap, several viewpoints combine and it looks like
there are several ghostly pillars
Likewise, there is only one statue of Elgar, and one rock obelisk, in this park in Malvern. But notice how the shops in the background ahve bene stitched perfectly, because this element of my photos had enough common data for Autostitch to do its job:
 Likewise, there's only one cat, and he wasn't moving fast at all:

 You'll find a demonstration of my other four top photo-editing apps at the MMJ website:

Friday, 11 March 2011

Location-based content for local journalism - previewing the latest MMJ masterclass

Location is the fastest growing aspect of communication
Providing location-specific content holds out huge opportunities – and challenges – for journalists and publishers


How do we harness the potential of geo-location for our journalism, whether we are working in hyperlocal, local, B2B, specialist or any other media?

Whatever your beat or specialism, the exponential growth in the use of smartphones and other mobile, wi-fi enabled devices, means that we must look at ways we can make our content relevant to our users when they are on the move.
Mobile devices offer consumers information that is tailored to where they are, and what they want to do, right now. We need to put our own content on the leading mobile platforms.

The challenge to local media: Geolocate or die

The message to local media companies is: geo-locate or die. Or, perhaps more acurately, continue to fade.
For any local journalist, or local publisher of a blog, hyperlocal news site, or local newspaper then the question of locality is central to what they do.
Newspapers were, once upon a time, the best way to get information to those in a particular locality.
What geo-location does is bring a massive advance in the opportunities to do that.
The challenge for any local journalist or publisher is to ride this development.
If you don’t, if those in your area can’t immediately find information from you that is relevant to where they are and what they are doing, or want to do,  than you are failing as a provider of local content and information.
I don’t see many local papers getting abreast of this. I do see some pioneering hyperlocal sites and blogs doing it.

What geo-location platforms to use?

At the moment there is a competing array of localising platforms out there.
You can’t build your own and you wouldn’t want to if you could.
What you can do is see which platforms people are beginning to use, and find out whether you can get your content on them.
That’s our aim in this masterclass.
Are they on Foursquare, for example, and could you use Foursquare as a platform for reaching people?
We’ll look at the breakthrough one hyperlocal site, BlogPreston, has made using this platform. What about Gowalla, another check-in site that lets you create local journeys?
There are other potential publishing platforms that are far less well known, and I’ll be demonstrating some of them, including a very promising one called Bubbleby which I think has great potential for local journalists because it lets you create content and community – in what it calls bubbles – around a particular location.
Great for campaigning, or focusing discussion on a particular distinct area in the town you cover.

Mapping platforms

Then there are the various mapping platforms that enable you to put information on a map of the area you cover and then embed those information-laden maps into your website or blog. We looked at using Google Maps as a backdrop to a feature on pages 417-8 of the book version of MMJ, and here:  on the web version.
We’ll look at a range of other ways of exploiting the potential of mapping in local journalism.

Build your own GeoGuide

There is the opportunity, from a company called Geodelic, to create a guide to a particular area, called a GeoGuide, that can be read on a Blackberry, iPhone or Android smartphone.
We’ll look at Geodelic, on which I’m building a guide.
The GeoGuide I’m building is not local in the local paper sense, but locality is important to it. It’s an app that brings together the best places to train as a multimedia journalist in the UK. It’s a work in progress but we’ll look at how far I’ve got with it.
GeoGuides could be useful to any editor of a magazine where location can be relevant to some of the title’s content. A golfing mag, for example, might have a GeoGuide to the best courses and cluster a lot of relevant information around those venues. Any specialist-interest magazine could create GeoGuides.
Here are some thoughts:
  • A business travel mag might create a guide to each major airport.
  • A fishing mag could let readers see which is the best river or lake close to where they find themselves.
  • Real ale fans can be told where to get a pint of Owld Scroat in the strange town they happen to be visiting.

How to explore the potential of geo-location for your journalism

Mashable said this about geo-located content in its predictions for 2011:
“In 2010, we saw the growth of location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR. Even Facebook entered the location game by launching its Places product, and Google introduced HotPot, a recommendation engine for places and began testing it in Portland. The reality is that only 4% of online adults use such services on the go. My guess is that as the information users get on-the-go info from such services, they’ll becomes more valuable and these location-based platforms will attract more users.
“Part of the missing piece is being able to easily get geo-tagged news content and information based on your GPS location. In 2011, with a continued shift toward mobile news consumption, we’re going to see news organisations implement location-based news features into their mobile apps. And of course if they do not, a start-up will enter the market to create a solution to this problem or the likes of Foursquare or another company will begin to pull in geo-tagged content associated with locations as users check in.”
So how do we get on the bandwagon and use geo-location on our website, blogs and in the apps we create?
That’s the question this masterclass explores. It won’t give you all the answers, but it will point to some promising possibilities.
There will be some suggested projects along the way, to give you some starting points.
And, as ever, if you do experiment in this area, you must feel free to share what you have discovered with the MMJ community by clicking on any of the comment buttons and sending us a link.

Next: Create content and community around a location with Bubbleby