Friday, 30 November 2012

How The Times created the first augmented reality magazine, and how any print journalist can make one too


Print has a problem. Print is static.
With digital news platforms you can combine video and audio, interaction of all kinds, and links to all sorts of other content.
With print, what you see on the page is all you get.
Or it was.
Augmented reality changes that. It removes print’s disadvantage by making it possible to create links within printed images that open up from them into an entire digital world. It turns a static medium into a dynamic one.
OK, we know how easy it is to embed multimedia content into a website or blog.
With augmented reality you can, effectively, embed it into print.
Pointing your smartphone camera at a still image that has been turned into a trigger image for a piece of augmented reality makes that media play.
You make this possible through the use of an augmented reality app or, less sci-fi-sounding, via a digital browser.
Last Saturday (November 18) The Saturday Times Magazine (paywalled) declared it was publishing the first augmented reality supplement:

You need the right app on your phone for the trigger image to be activated and for the secondary media to be loaded.
In the case of The Times, you needed to download an app called Aurasma, which claims to be the world's first visual browser to your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
The Times used Aurasma to link still images, in adverts and editorial, to videos on the same topic, so the magazine cover, for example (pictured above), featured a figure which, when viewed through Aurasma, sprang into life via a short video loop.
What’s great about Aruasma is that anyone can use it for free, provided your application is approved. Mine was within a few minutes, so hopefully yours will be too.
In this masterclass we’ll run through the processes involved in using Aurasma to create augmented reality content of your own. We’ll cover:
  • Subscribing to Aurasma
  • Loading the app into your Android or iPhone
  • Creating augmented reality content – or what Aurasma calls Auras
  • Publishing those Auras and making them findable

Next: Essential preliminaries to making augmented reality content

Friday, 16 November 2012

Infographics for everyone: how to create great infographics using free tools, and with no design skills

You don't have to be a whizz at graphic design to create infographics anymore
A number of free tools now let onyone turn dense information into an attractive, easily-read and absorbed visual story.
So in Masterclass 53 at Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide we show how to do that.
But before we get to the free tools to use, we need to decide when, and why, infographics might be important to us as news reporters or storytellers.
So we'll look first at why infographics work, and what they are.
Then we'll map out some ground rules on how to tell a story via an infographic.
We'll look at the source material, the mix of stats and facts that will form the content of your infographic.
And we'll present a range of effective infographics to show what is achievable.
Then we'll build some infographics, using Piktochart, which I judge to be the best free tool.
Finally we'll look at some alternative infographic-building platforms including and

Next: What are infographics and why use them?

Friday, 26 October 2012

Latest storytelling platforms for journalists - previewing MMJ Masterclass 52

One of the great challenges journalism faces is to find new ways of storytelling
Why do we need to do that?
Because the new media demand new ways of storytelling that are appropriate for them.
So how should we tell stories in the mutlimeda environments of websites or mobile devices, for example?
That's something we are still working on discovering.
Nobody has the definitive answer.
But we do know what tools we now have to work with. We know, for example, that a mobile's inbuilt GPS and camera create storytelling and reporting opportunities that we've never had before.
So in this masterclass we are looking at two brand new storytelling platforms that enable multimedia story finding and telling on websites, blogs and mobile devices.
We look at Grafetee, which is a location-based app that draws information from all sorts of other apps onto one platform, and which I think may have the potential to let you create a local or hyperlocal news resource that can be consumed on mobiles.
We also explore MyHistro, which lets you build multimedia timelines around a theme or story, apply them to a Google map, and embed them anywhere you like.
I'm not going to pretend that I've fully roadtested these two platforms, but from what I've seen I think they deserve serious consideration by anyone who wants to develop their new media storytelling. So this is very much a first look.
We also consider Conweets, which is more accurately described as a story-gathering device rather than a platform on which to tell those stories.
Conweets lets you track conversations between two Twitter users, or identify and follow any of the conversations a given user is having.
With so much news being made on Twitter, Conweets is a great device for easily following the conversations in which stories can be found.

Next: Grafetee: Create a local news site for mobiles

Friday, 12 October 2012

Analytics for journalists; previewing Masterclass 51 at Multimedia Journalism

The latest masterclass at MMJ is about analytics, or the analysis of web traffic
We'll look at how to use analytics tools to chart the effectiveness of your journalism
Analytics show you not only how you have done, but can help you improve what you produce in the future.
If you work for a publisher or broadcaster, analytics tools will be built into the content management system you use. As a journalist, you may or may not have access to those analytics.
Here we'll concentrate on how you can install your own analytics tool on your websites, blogs and apps, and how to use the analytics tools built in to social media networks.
Google Analytics is a powerful free tool, and we'll look here at:
  • How to install Google Analytics
  • How to understand the analytics that Google gives you 
We'll also look at analytics tools for:

Friday, 21 September 2012

5 new masterclasses to help journalists boost their storytelling skills - from Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide

We’ve clocked up no fewer that 50 masterclasses at MMJ in the past two years, covering everything from data journalism to Wordpress, video storytelling to creating smartphone apps.

All of these practical guides are available to registered users of MMJ, as are all other masterclasses – including our detailed guides to 12 popular journalism beats including sport, politics, fashion and health.

In the 2012-13 academic year we aim to tackle the latest developments in multimedia journalism, including promising new storytelling platforms, a journalist’s guide to analytics, and how to create infographics.

You’ll find the publishing schedule for the first five masterclasses below. But, as ever, nothing is set in stone, We’d love to hear from you with any suggestions you have for areas you’d like to see us cover.

The way we do journalism is changing at a phenomenal rate. Our goal is to help you keep up. So if there are any tools you’ve discovered that you think other journalists will find useful, let us know and we’ll take an in-depth look at them, and how they can be used.

Masterclass 51: Analytics for journalists

How to use analytics to improve your content and the effectiveness of your journalism.

We’ll include a guide to the tools social platforms including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provide you with, plus a step-by-step user’s guide to Google Analytics.

Going Live: October 13

Masterclass 52: New storytelling and research tools for journalists

The most promising of the latest tools road tested – how to use them and what they may be able to do for your research and storytelling.

We plan to include Graftee, myhistro, Contweets and others. But if you have further suggestions, get in touch.

Going live: October 27

Masterclass 53: Infographics for beginners

How to easily make professional infographics, and when to use them

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create infographics anymore. We roadtest some of the tools that promise to help you make great infographics.

But when should you use infographics as a storytelling technique? We’ll give a guide.

Going live: November 10

Masterclass 54: Better smartphone photography

Mobile phone cameras get better all the time, and so do photo apps that let you turn an average snap into an impressive piece of photojournalism.

We’ll give a guide to the best cameras, apps and a run down on good photo-technique.

Going live: November 24

Masterclass 55: Boosting your online presence and personal brand

There are many apps that promise to help you look good on line.

Some, such as Vizify, aim to turn your cv/resume into a beautiful interactive graphic. Others, such as Brand Yourself, work to boost your Google ranking.

We’ll take a look at these and others to see which can do the most for you.

Going live: December 8

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Brand journalism - what it is and how to do it

This is a preview of the 50th masterclass at Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide and it’s a little different to the preceding 49.

It’s about something that some people deny is journalism at all. They say it’s just PR or marketing under another name.

But what exactly is brand journalism? You can read a definition of brand journalism in this module.
In other modules we'll look at how to do it, something of its history - how brand journalism has developed as a discipline - and the cases for and against it as a valid branch of journalism. 
Here I want to say why I’m doing this.

Why cover brand journalism?

My reason for covering brand journalism is rooted in two realities.
One is the dire state of employment for journalists with traditional publishers and broadcasters.
The other is the way brands are using social media to communicate. And how they are using journalists, or non-journalists using journalistic techniques, to do so.
And as everything I’ve done under the Multimedia Journalism banner over the past two years has been about trying to equip journalism students for the world of work, and helping working journalists to gain the new skills they need to stay employed, I think we really must cover this new source of work.
It seems to me pretty obvious that in the future many – perhaps most – journalists will be employed by brands. They'll be doing the stuff journalists have always done, and which we are best at, but instead of being employed by a media brand, they'll work for some other sort of organisation.
I use 'brand' as an umbrella term to encompass any organisation, any charity, any pressure group or cause; any manufacturer, retailer, wholesaler; any branch of public service from the police to army to education to social services; any politician or political organisation, group or campaign at every geographic level; any profession, any trade.
All of them will be using what I’m calling brand journalism, but which can also be called content marketing, to communicate, as appropriate, with their existing and potential customers and clients; with those who support a cause or who they’d like to persuade to do so; with whatever communities they represent or serve.
That’s a big shift. 

It's here: get used to it

I don’t think most journalists are ready for it. We are still too hung up on the idea of PR and marketing as the dark side – as the place old journalist go to die when their careers are over.
We need to rethink. This masterclass is my attempt at beginning to do that.
It's also written from a desire to see a debate about brand journalism. In the UK, the Leveson Inquiry into press standards is causing a fundamental rethink of  how journalists operate, and how media companies, governments and other institutions intereract.
It's likely to lead to stricter regulation of the press; to the establishment of standards of behaviour that have been sorely lacking within some sections of the media.
I'd like to see a parallel debate on the emerging world of brand journalism. Maybe we need a powerful new code of ethics and conduct, perhaps enshrined in law, to regulate all journalism, including brand journalism.
I'd like the debate around brand journalism to be rooted in the reailty that, like it or loath it, jornalism performed on behalf of brands, corporations, charities, causes, governments and many others is expanding exponentially. We need to understand what is happening.
Brand journalism, its practice, and its impact is a very big - and very important - subject. For that reason I’m writing a book about it. I'd like that book to be as fully informed as possible, and I invite you to tell me what you think about the subject. You’ll find a note about the project, and how to get in touch, at the end of this masterclass.

Next: What Brand Journalism Is

The Brand Journalism project

I've been commissioned by Routledge to write a book on Brand Journalism, with a companion website. 
The book will be a companion volume to Multimedia Journalism, which deals with essential journalism skills. It won't duplicate the learning programme of MMJ; rather it will move up to the next level and demonstrate how to apply those skills to brand journalism.
It will also demonstrate to journalists, marketers, PR professionals, brand managers and others how to develop and implement a brand journalism strategy. 
It will be highly practical, packed with examples of how brands, organisations, charities, public bodies, campaigns, causes and many more entities are doing brand journalism in ways that are appropriate to them.
If you have any thoughts or comments, or would like to contribute to the project in some way, please contact me, Andy Bull, via the buttons on this site, or DM me @andybull on Titter.
I'm looking for case studies of brand journalists, and examples of brand journalism in action.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Three reasons why you should want to report on religion: Introducing Masterclass 49 at MMJ


Here’s one good reason: religion throws up many great stories

And here's another: religion affects a great many people, even if they have no faith of their own
According to Judith Mitchell Buddenbaum, author of Reporting News About Religion: An Introduction for Journalists, reporting on religion is second only to education in the public's ranking of importance. Yet it tends to turn up last in audience satisfaction surveys.
So that’s a third good reason to choose it as your beat. Be a great political reporter and you’ll be among many others who are really good at their jobs. Be a great religion reporter and you’ll stand head and shoulders above many of your rivals.
And there will be plenty of stories for you to shine on, because religious faith is a factor in many of the big contemporary issues– from the international right down to the local level.
The war on terror is the obvious one, but there are plenty of others, such as the debates about assisted dying, stem cell research and even science education in schools.
The Religion Writers' Foundation says: “Religion is a factor in the issues Americans consistently name as their top concerns: war, terrorism, education, health care, immigration, the environment and the health of the economy.”
Faith plays a more visible role in public life the USA than it does in the UK. In the former, a presidential candidate’s faith is seen as an important part of their character and suitability for the job. The Pew Institute publishes regular reports on the impact of religion on elections in the US

Journalists don't do God

In the UK, politicians are reluctant to talk openly about their faith. In the words of Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell: “We don’t do God”.
In the USA, the Religion Writers' Foundation has produced a great online resource called Reporting on Religion: A Primer on Journalism’s Best Beat, in which it is said: “Religion can enrich your stories by explaining people’s motivations and providing details that can transform run-of-the-mill reports into surprising or provocative narratives.
"Religion shapes people’s actions and reactions in very private and very public ways across the range of news and features. Without it, you’re often not getting the whole story.
“Faith and spirituality are a powerful undertow in so many of the stories of our day. Too often, that undertow remains invisible to media audiences because journalists don’t acknowledge its persistent pull.
“Often, religion provides the 'why' in the equation of a story. Faith motivates people, groups and, at times, nations. Religion plays a significant role in world events from war in the Middle East to tension in Northern Ireland to terrorism in the United States.”
But while religion matters to many people, it matters less to many journalists and journalistic organisations.
The BBC’s Roger Bolton puts the case here for why it should matter in the corporation, and in British journalism, and there’s a great video on the point which I’m not allowed to embed, but which you can watch here.
He says: “Journalists tend to be sceptical of religion and those for whom spirituality is important.
“That's understandable to an extent. Journalists work with evidence; they want proof; want to see things with their own eyes. Faith and belief are the antithesis of that mindset.
“Some journalists take this further and find those who live their lives and make their decisions on the basis of their religious beliefs incomprehensible. Or they're contemptuous of those of sincere spiritual conviction.”
This blog post from a BBC editor demonstrates how religious news can lose out to other stories in the schedules.
A survey from the Pew Research Centre reported here found:  “There’s a major divide between journalists and the general public when it comes to personal faith…only 8 percent of national journalists claim that they attend church or synagogue each week. This compares with 39 percent of the general public. While a lack of personal affiliation doesn‘t necessarily mean that journalists can’t properly report on religion, this disparity is important to note.”

Reporters don't know enough about religion

Despite the need to understand religion as a factor in many stories, many reporters acknowledge they don’t know enough about it.
Less than one-fifth of reporters called themselves “very knowledgeable” about religion in a survey by the Knight Program in Media and Religion at USC and the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.
And the public thinks religious reporting is sensationalised: “Two-thirds of the American public believe religion coverage is too sensationalized — a view held by less than 30% of reporters”
Not surprisingly, it's people of faith who feel most strongly that religion is badly reported.
The BBC did a survey and found: “Faith groups think that the majority of people derive most of their knowledge of religion from the news. So the power of news coverage to influence opinion about faiths is felt to be particularly strong.”
Among the negatives were “the prominence of occasional negative and inaccurate coverage, most often in News and Current Affairs output, which betrays ignorance of key issues.”
Most faith groups had a grievance about how they were covered.
  • “Minority voices within Islam articulating extreme points of view are thought sometimes to receive disproportionate coverage that harms the image of the faith overall….
  • “Many Jews perceive coverage of the Middle East conflict to be hostile to Israel and, by extension, to them as a faith community.
  • “Roman Catholics are generally worried by what they think is the negative depiction of Catholicism. It is not disputed that child abuse by priests, the health of the Pope or Vatican teaching on sexual morality are newsworthy. It is the repeated presentation of these aspects of Catholicism alone that leads to a sense of being under attack.”

A bid for better faith journalism

Recently, an international organisation was set up to represent faith reporters. It’s called the International Association of Religion Journalists and among its goals are boosting the prominence and professionalism of religion reporting, and emphasising the need for responsible journalism that can unite instead of divide people.
U.S. journalist David Briggs, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and the main driving force behind the initiative told Ruth Eglash: “We are living in a global society and our understanding internationally of religion is weak. With this association, journalists now have contacts in various countries and can work together.”
British Author Karen Armstrong, who supports the body, said: “One of the problems we have is the media who only present very one-sided views of certain religious activities. Islam is the obvious example. We hear all about the negative [things] that people are saying. But we don’t have a balance of the positive.”

Will you be any good as a religion journalist?

Here are a list of traits that the Religion Writers' Foundation says are essential for any great reporter on the faith beat.
Check them out to see how you measure up.

Next: Why religion matters in so many stories

Friday, 20 April 2012

How to become an education journalist - previewing Masterclass 48 at MMJ

The education beat is a central one.

Education is such a crucial part of the lives of every individual, and of every society’s attempts to ensure it has a bright future, that it’s a very lively and important specialism.

What I’ve discovered as I’ve researched this topic is that education journalism is taken much more seriously, and given far greater importance, in the USA than it is in the UK.

In the former there are organisations dedicated to helping journalists master this central beat. In the UK there are no such outfits.

And my impression is that while education correspondents/editors are seen as being in the top rank of reporters in America, in the UK they are not.

The resources available for those who would like to follow the education beat are far more numerous in the US than in the UK, so while I have tried to balance the content of this masterclass to reflect the fact that MMJ’s readership is more or less equally split across the Atlantic, I’ve found far more resources – and richer information – in America.

That’s something I aim to work at correcting over time. Which means that for now this has to be something of a work in progress. It's not currently as comprehensive as I'd like these looks at specialisms to be, but I'll work on it.

If you can help with any advice for aspiring education journalists, or links to resources, that would be great.

You can reach me @andybull on Twitter.

Anyway, for now, here’s what we’ll be looking at here.

We’ll cover:
  • Why be an education journalist?
  • How to get in to education journalism
  • How to find, sell and tell education stories
  • What education journalist need to know
  • Star performers you can learn from, and
  • Where to study education journalism

Next:  Why be an education journalist

Friday, 13 April 2012

How to become a music journalist - previewing MMJ Masterclass 47

First some words of warning

Becoming a music journalist is the goal of many. Alongside film.

Reviewing gigs and new releases. and interviewing stars sounds great. And it can be.
But if you want to approach music journalism as a career, and develop your skills as a specialist, there’s a lot you need to do, and to know, if you are to make it.
I mean, you wouldn’t think you could become a political journalist without knowing a great deal about politics – about the people, parties, polices and plenty about political history.
Without that background knowledge you can’t be a competent political reporter.

Likewise, you can’t be a professional music journalist without knowing a great deal about your subject.

A lot of what you need to do to make it is covered in the general introduction to specialisms, linked to here.
You’ll also find a lot of relevant material in the masterclass on celebrity, showbiz and arts reporting which is here for subscribers and will be making a brief appearance outside the paywall in a little while.
We also cover practical guides to doing some of the things that are staples of music journalism – writing a review and conducting an interview – on pages 207-8, 320 and 335-6 of the print and ebook edition of MMJ, and in the companion units on this website.

So what are we going to do here?

We’ll look specifically at several things:
  • How to get in to music journalism, drawing on the experiences of a number who have made it
  • What you need to know to master music as a specialism
  • Where you can get published right now
  • How to sell to editors and tell music stories
  • What’s wrong with music journalism
  • Building a career in music journalism
  • Star performers you can learn from, and sources of great music journalism you can use to see how the best do it
  • Study it – universities that run specialist music journalism courses

Next: how to become a music journalist

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Introducing the MMJ journalism careers programme: How to choose a specialism

The next 12 MMJ masterclasses are in-depth looks at some of the most popular journalistic specialisms. 

Here's a preview of a general introduction to the subject of switching from general reporting to a defined beat.

For most newly-qualified journalists, general reporting is their starting point – unless they choose the subbing and production route
If you want to remain a reporter long-term it’s often a good idea to specialise: to choose an area of news that you cover intensively and on which you become a trusted expert and authority.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that specialist knowledge, and the provision of reliable, authoritative information, has a value above that of general news.
As we are seeing, it is almost impossible to get people to pay for general news online. In the UK, it is very hard to make general news pay. You have the massively well-resourced BBC pumping out a huge volume of general news, without needing to heed the commercial realities that other, private media outfits are governed by.
So, as a reporter, you need to be a purveyor of information that is valuable to the audience you are targeting – perhaps for their work, or for informing commercial decisions that they must make. Or, it may be information that gives them depth of coverage in an area of interest to them: a hobby or pastime perhaps.
The rise in social media has further devalued the work of the general reporter.
Because so much general news coverage is contributed by citizens in some way – whether through their eye-witness stills or video, or through celebrities tweeting what is happening to them – the general reporter sees their stock falling.
We  look at a number of very different specialisms in this run of masterclasses. The first four in this list are new, and will be going live between April and May 2012. The rest are being made available once again outside the MMJ paywall for a short period. As they go live the links below will work
Here's what we cover:
  • Technology
  • Music
  • Education
  • Religion
  • International Journalism
  • Political Journalism
  • Sport
  • Celebrity, Showbiz and Arts reporting
  • Business and Financial Journalism
  • Travel Writing
  • Science, Health, Environment
  • Fashion
Each masterclass will remain free for about a week after the link goes live, but will then be available only to subscribers.
To get access to them all for good you need to subscribe to MMJ. You do that by buying the textbook, in either paper or Kindle form
There are loads of other specialisms we could cover. But whatever the specialism you choose, there are general principles of how to be a good specialist reporter that we can apply across the board.
So in this general guide to specialisms we’ll start off by looking at how to be a specialist reporter, and I’ll link to the areas of learning in previous masterclasses, and in the book version of MMJ and the companion website, that give you the general approach to take and the tools to use.
The last five linked masterclasses, Numbers 22 to 25 are particularly relevant, because they show you how to apply specialist reporting to the modern media world.
A good specialist reporter is locked in to social media. Just look at how many stories in tabloids are sparked by a celebrity’s tweet. Tabloids don’t always tell readers that they are sourcing so many stories on Twitter, but it has become a vital hunting ground for the showbiz specialist reporter.

Next: How to choose your specialism

Friday, 16 March 2012

Building proficiency with - a guide for journalists from MMJ

I'd like to introduce you to the second in a three-level programme of tuition on using Wordpress as a publishing platform for journalism, to which you have free access until 26-03-2012.
The three levels correspond to the levels common across the whole Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide learning programme
We covered level one, Getting Started with Wordpress, here.
The focus there was on Now we are looking at
If you are new to Wordpress, and want tuition on how to:
  • Find your way around the Wordpress dashboard,
  • What themes are and how to choose one,
  • Add posts and pages to your site,
  • Add and remove widgets and other basics,
then you should check out Getting Started with Wordpress.
You’ll need to be a subscriber to MMJ to gain access. To become a subscriber, buy the textbook, in either paper or ebook form.
You’ll find it on at around £25, and at for the US at around $40.
Becoming a subscriber gives you full access to the extensive supportive website that complements each teaching unit in the book, plus access to the now 45 Masterclasses, which are up-to-the-minute tutorials in a wide range of key developments in multimedia journalism.

So what do we cover in level two, Building proficiency with Wordpress?

The focus now is on If you need to know the important differences between .com and .org, you’ll find an explanation here.
Here we cover:
  • Choosing a host and downloading to your computer
  • Choosing, downloading, unzipping and activating a theme in
  • Recommended themes for creating magazine and news sites on Wordpress
  • Essential adjustments to make to your Wordpress account
  • Plug-ins you should add to your Wordpress site to boost functionality.
 It is intended to add a third level of tuition, Professional Standards with Wordpress, in the future.
That level is likely to include tuition on:
  • Using FTP to administer your site
  • How to run a news site and newspaper using Wordpress
  • Essential plugins for newsrooms
  • Building a mobile app on Wordpress

Next: Choosing a host and downloading to your computer

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Port Talbot MagNet and the West Londoner win print runs from MMJ and Make My Newspaper

At MMJ we’re confident that print has a future.

But, sadly, more and more towns and villages are being denied a print newspaper, as local papers run by the big publishers put up the shutters. Certainly there are many excellent hyperlocals stepping into their shoes, but they can rarely stretch to a physical product; relying on websites, blogs, and social media to distribute their news.

So when I heard that Make My Newspaper, a short-run publishing house that lets you create your own tabloid online, had launched in the UK, I thought it was worth checking out.

Chatting to Paul McLachlan from the company it struck me that Make My Newspaper could perhaps provide a solution to the knotty problem of how a hyperlocal might make it into print.

And Paul generously offered a free print run of 150 copies of a 16-page tabloid newspaper to two readers of MMJ.

So we launched this competition to find worthy winners, as part of a look at the future of print, and a practical guide to creating a newspaper on the Make My Newspaper platform.
The response was overwhelming.

It proved beyond doubt that many hyperlocals would love to get into print, if only they could find an affordable way to do so.

I’ve been sifting through pitches from all corners of the country, and I’m sorry to have to disappoint so many hard-working local journos who are showing their commitment to keeping their communities informed.

But we do have two winners.

They are:

The Port Talbot MagNet


The West Londoner

NEXT: Why they won

Friday, 17 February 2012

Getting started in Wordpress: previewing Masterclass 44 at MMJ


Before we start – you need to know there are two versions of Wordpress - and

There are important differences between the two, and you need to decide which is most appropriate for you. is the simple version that you can get to work on without any preliminaries. is more sophisticated, and involves downloading and unzipping Wordpress to your computer, and having a hosting provider
There’s a good guide to the pros and cons of each here from the Expand2Web blog, where you'll also find this smart illustration..

With your ability to change the look and feel of the site you create is limited.
With you can customise the look and feel of your site. And you can install a wide variety of themes, and add many WordPress plug-ins to extend its functionality.
For a non-techy, looking at what you need to do to install and run .org can be daunting. But it needn’t be. There are a number of hosting services that make it easy, some offering one-click installation of Wordpress. But you do have to pay for their services. offers a list of recommended hosts here.
You can also choose your own hosting company. Tell them you want to use the Wordpress operating system and they’ll set you up an account on their server where you can administer your site. We’ll look at that in Masterclass 45: Building Proficiency in Wordpress.
In this Getting Started guide we’ll look only at, and take the most straightforward approach to getting a Wordpress site up and running.
So this course fits into the first of the three levels of training used in the book version of MMJ, and in this companion website. At times we will refer to material that is covered in other modules of Getting Started, particularly Chapter 2: Creating a Publishing Platform, which starts on page 68.
You'll need to subscribe to MMJ to access the other material referred to. To do that, you have to buy the book, in either print or ebook format. A code given there gets you access to everything on this site. The book costs about £25 from Amazon UK, a few pounds less in Kindle version, or about $40 from Amazon USA.

Next: First essentials, understanding the Wordpress dashboard

Win a print run for your journalism course newspaper and are offering two lucky winners a free, 150-copy print run for their 16-page tabloid newspaper

The competition is open only to UK-based journalism course tutors or students, hyperlocals or start-ups, and is offered by NOT .com, which operates in the USA.
The idea is that if you are itching to publish your own tabloid newspaper, this is your chance to create and have printed a sample that shows what you can do.
It’s something you might be able to submit as part of course work, or, if you are a hyperlocal or startup, to help your fight to get funding or to trial your idea and get reaction to it.
To apply, you’ll need to come up with a convincing pitch as to why you should get one of the two prizes.
Imagine you are pitching to a potential publisher or backer. Why should they put their faith in you?
The pitch should be as concise and professional as you can make it.
Include enough information for us to check out that you really are who you say you are, and to verify any claims in your pitch. So if you are a tutor, details of the institution you work for; if a student, contact details for your tutor; if a hyperlocal or start up, links to what you are doing now, and contact details for the leaders of the enterprise.
If we discover you are spamming us, we'll delete your entry.
Once you have your pitch prepared, email it to
You’ve got until midnight on February 28 2012 to apply.
The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence about those decisions will be entered into.
But if you would like to ask anything about how to prepare your pitch,  or to check your eligibility, feel free to get in touch using the email above, or any of the contact buttons on this site.
We’ll aim to feature the two winning projects on the MMJ website.
Should no suitable projects be put forward for consideration by the closing date, the competition will be cancelled.

Find out more

You'll find a detailed tutorial in how Make My Newspaper's online newspaper designer and editor works here.

And some thoughts on why print still matters here.

Friday, 10 February 2012

How to make your own newspaper - and maybe win a print run

Later in this module we'll demonstrate software that lets you create your own newspaper

And we'll offer prizes of two free, 150-copy print runs of your own  tabloid newspaper

But first...what is the future for print?

It’s not hard to spot the decline in print as a medium for distributing news

And commentators proclaiming the death of print are legion.

So there’s no denying that print’s fortunes have plummeted, just as other media that were overtaken by more convenient technologies have done in the past.
But print still has its cheerleaders. There are even those who say print is the new vinyl – drawing a parallel with the niche appeal of a music-distribution technology that was first overtaken by tape (but who still has a tape deck?) and then by CDs (that don’t seem as robust as my old LPs).
So it’s probably fair to say that print will have a place in the future of news distribution. We just don’t know how big a place it will continue to earn, or for exactly which markets it will still work.
Speaking personally, while I consume about 90 per cent of my news online, and also use the web and mobile versions of print titles I subscribe to, print is still unique.
Online, I pick from a wide array of sources – or brands. With print, I’ll consume a great deal from one particular brand. I’ll always want the weekend papers, and I get a richer experience – and more enjoyment – from reading print than I do from electronic platforms.
So there are situations in which, for me, print is still the favoured way to consume news, information and entertainment.
And when we think of a future for print, it’s worth pondering this explanation for renewed interest in vinyl: “vinyl was the fastest growing music medium in 2010. Why? Essentially, because purchasing and consequently possessing a physical object is an entirely different consumer experience.  This is why, after a long period of disinterest, consumers are increasingly investing in vinyl alongside other mediums, mainly digital.”
I may well be in a small minority in valuing a physical newspaper, but serving minorities that value you highly is not a bad business model.

Clay Shirky on what newspapers must do

Indeed, for newspapers it may be the key to survival. Listen to Clay Shirky.
Shirky posted this analysis of what newspapers need to do to serve effectively those still prepared to buy them.
He says there that while the median reader, the general interest readers who once formed the mass of newspaper readership, won’t pay for news, there is a small and very loyal core readership that will – as long as their newspaper gives them exactly what they want.
And what they want may be highly specialised, and very different from the general mix of news, gossip and entertainment that even ‘serious’ papers have come to rely upon increasingly over the past 20 years or so.
His piece – which I strongly recommend you read in full – ends with this: “It will take time for the economic weight of those [loyal core] users to affect the organizational form of the paper, but slowly slowly, form follows funding. For the moment at least, the most promising experiment in user support means forgoing mass in favor of passion; this may be the year where we see how papers figure out how to reward the people most committed to their long-term survival.”
So what I think we can conclude from this is that news organisations need to pretty much reinvent their print products if they are to survive. While the focus in newspaper offices has, understandably, been on how to use the new range of online, multimedia and social media opportunities that now present themselves, the other big and unaddressed challenge is to create a new form of newspaper that is finely attuned to the needs of the small core of readers who will continue to pay for it.
My hunch is that this will involve the abandonment of the populism that many papers have gone for; the dumbing-down in an effort of satisfying a mass audience.

What Ian Fleming did for the Sunday Times

I was struck, reading Andrew Lycett’s biography of James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming recently, to learn of one of his great circulation-building coups while at his day-job as managing editor of the [London] Sunday Times. It was a 15-week serialisation of a book by Somerset Maugham: an interpretation of the best 10 novels in the world, and their authors. It added 50,000 to the paper’s then circulation of around 500,000 and led to the creation of the Sunday Times’s colour magazine. As Lycett says “in this way Ian influenced a major development in British newspaper journalism.”
Today the Sunday Times’s circulation is just over 1m, which is down by 7.51 per cent on the previous year. Maybe the key to stemming that decline – or at least to establishing the title at a level where its core readers are happy with it – is to look again at heavy-weight content. But pitch something like the Maugham book today as a promotion and marketing would think you were mad.
Elsewhere, there is a growing file of evidence that some audiences – often niche audiences by topic or geography - are best reached via print.
Most papers are local papers, and some locals are doing interesting things with print.

Hyperlocal and niche-audience initiatives

Some are taking the strategy of engaging with citizen journalists online, and then curating some of the content they produce in highly geo-located print products.

This post on the MultiAmerican site  - ‘In L.A.’s Boyle Heights, hyperlocal news comes in print’ - talks of a collaboration between  the USC Annenberg journalism school and La Opinión, a Spanish language news organisation, to create a printed paper on which the reporters are local high school and other students.
This is the second hyperlocal news site these partners have launched.
Here’s why this one uses print rather than the web:  “the demographics are different in Boyle Heights, a longtime immigrant port of entry that for the last several decades has been predominantly Latino. While Latinos are active smartphone users, they generally have less Internet access than other groups, hence the old-fashioned distribution approach. A tabloid print edition in Spanish and English, delivered to residents … by La Opinión, compliments an English-language online edition.”
The post concludes: “The community newspaper model, which one might argue is the original hyperlocal news, has been a long-time fixture in Eastside neighborhoods. Many of these are covered by the small Hispanic-owned local papers published by Eastern Group Publications “ which have a circulation of over 104,000 and a readership of nearly 500,000.
In the UK, print newspapers for ethnic, immigrant and language groups have sprung up. If you are a registered user of MMJ you’ll find an overview of that phenomenon here and an interview with the editor of a UK-Lithuanian newspaper, Londono Zinios, here.
Some newspapers are taking the strategy of engaging with citizen journalists online, and then curating some of that content in highly geo-located print products.
The cheerily titled Newspaper Death Watch, which chronicles the decline of print titles, found this piece of encouraging news; “Does print still have value? The people at would argue that it does.

“This website, which is a spin-off of the Dallas Morning News, is using a social network to anchor a community journalism initiative. Local residents create profiles and post information about their interests.”
Those posts are scanned by editors and the best are curated in 11 print editions covering 71 communities which are home-delivered to over 340,000 Dallas Morning News subscribers each Friday.
“The opportunity to be featured in print is a major impetus for local residents to contribute, says managing editor Oscar Marti­nez. And it may actually be a jump start for careers. One journalism student used her trip to Beijing to contribute a series of articles on the preparations for the [2008] Olympics. The visibility she’s received has been worth more than any internship could offer.”
It's not just newspapers that are reinventing their print personas. B2B magazines are working to the same goal. Just as I was writing this, an alert popped up that "The Lawyer magazine has unveiled a radical redesign that will see its weekly print edition devoted entirely to analysis, features and comment."
Editor Catrin Griffiths says: “Print works, as long as you get the product right – analytical doesn’t have to mean anodyne.
"The big issues of the day are best served analytically and at length - it’s what print does best."
So, the challenge for print in general, and for the newspaper industry in particular, is to learn who will pay for a print product, and what they will need to see in it.
Meanwhile, maybe you'd like to create your own newspaper?

Next: How to create your own newspaper

Friday, 3 February 2012


Picnik is a great photo editing tool

Or it is until April 19

After that owners Google are shutting it down. Until then you get to use the paid-for premium version of the site for free.
We cover using Picnik on pages 430-434 of the paper edition of MMJ, and here on the companion website.
The tuition in this masterclass replaces that section of the course.
Google has an alternative to Picnik, within the suite of apps that now makes up Google+. It’s called Creative Kit and it is based closely on Picnik.

We cover how to use Creative Kit here.

If you’d rather find an alternative, you’ll find some suggestions for other good photo-editing applications as well.

Five free alternatives to Creative Kit

We'll take a look at:

  • Photoshop Express
  • Pixlr Express
  • Fotoflexer
  • Free Online Photo Editor, and
  • Pixenate

If you have a favourite photo editing app, let us know via any of the contact buttons on this site.

Next: How to use Google Creative Kit

Friday, 27 January 2012

Previewing Masterclass 41 at Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide


With so much research done online, you need a way to organise the things you clip

As you research a story you’ll probably find things on websites, blogs, in PDFs, on Twitter, Facebook and other social platform

There may be YouTube videos, images, and audio.
And you’d like to group those elements, which will make up the background and reference points to what you write, all in one place.
As you’ll probably be doing some research on your computer, some on your smartphone and/or your tablet, you need what you find to be synchronised, whatever device you are on when you discover it.
If you are working collaboratively, you might also want to share the things you find with colleagues (co-workers).

Evernote Web Clipper

That’s where web-clipping software comes in. We’ll take a close look at Evernote Web Clipper, which is the market leader.
But what if your research is more academic? If you write on a scientific, medical or other journal and need to manage bibliographic data and related research materials (such as PDFs) you may need something more specialised that Evernote.
In which case Zotero might fit the bill.


Zotero also has word processor plugins that allow you to insert citations and bibliographies directly into your documents.
We’ll have a run-through on Zotero – how to use it and what it can do for you.
And what about getting your best work gathered in a smart, elegant format online? Paper cuttings are inadequate, and running a list of links to your best stuff isn’t very impressive-looking either.

Cuttings Me

So how about Cuttings Me? It’s a great way to build up an online portfolio or clippings book of the journalism that you’ve produced.
It lets you put your best material, plus your profile and cv, on a smart web page that you can link to from wherever you like.

Next: Evernote Web Clipper

Up-coming tuition at MMJ (update)

Masterclass 41: Top 3 essential web-clipping apps for journalists

We take a look at three incredibly useful clipping apps - each of which is the best in its field for one key function. There's Evernote, a great research-gathering tool for news reporters; Zotero, perfect for more academic research and article composition; and Cuttings Me, an elegant way to put your best material together in a showcase of your talents.

Masterclass  42: How to use Google Creative Kit for photo-editing, plus some alternative apps to check out

When Google announced it would close Picnik, the popular photo-edtiting software company it bought a while back, there was outrage. Infact, what Google has done is bring Picnik into the Google+ fold, giving the good old Picnik functionality a re-skin.

We'll look at how to use it - hence updating the coverage of Picnik in the print veriosn of MMJ, and in the equivalent part of the ebook and online versions of the project.
We'll also take a look at three or four alternatives to Creative Kit/Picnik
Going live: February 4
Masterclass 43: Focus on print - plus: win your own print run
Print may be under pressure, but it's still core to what many journalists do. We'll take a look at the future of print, and at an interesting new venture called Make My Newspaper.
Make My Newspaper lets you create your own tabloid online, design it, add content and buy a short print run. It could be the answer for  journalism courses where creating a print product is an important learning tool and demonstration of competence. And it might work for hyperlocals that want a print presence.
We will offer two free print runs of 100, 20-page papers to lucky UK-based journalism courses, hyperlocals or start-ups.
Going live: February 11

Masterclass 44: Flash website building for non-coders

Flash websites are great for situations in which you want to make a visual impact, and where photography is important.
We'll look at a way to create a really professional one without knowing the first thing about coding.
Going live: February 18

Masterclass 45: Wordpress

Two levels of tuition in Wordpress. 
We’ll kick off by getting a basic site up and running. 
Then we'll look at using customised themes to create a really impressive Wordpress publishing platform.
March 10

Masterclass 46 - 49: How to choose a specialism, Series 2

We looked here at eight popular journalistic specialisms. Now we feature a second series, including:
  • Technology
  • Music
  • Education
March 24 - May 5

Masterclass 50: Brand Journalism

What it is, and why it could be the future for many journalists
May 19

Friday, 6 January 2012

This term's masterclasses from MMJ

A Happy New Year to all users of Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide

We're sorting out content up to Easter, so here's a run-down of planned topics. As ever, feel free to get in touch if there are things you'd like included in any of them, or other areas you'd like to see covered. 
A number of things in the list below were suggested by MMJ registered users, so thanks to them for taking the trouble to raise them.

Masterclass 41: Focus on print

Print may be under pressure, but it's still core to what many journalists do. We'll take a look at innovations in the medium, including Make My Newspaper.
Make My Newspaper lets you create your own tabloid online, design it, add content and buy a short print run. It could be the answer for  journalism courses where creating a print product is an important learning tool and demonstration of competence. And it might work for hyperlocals that want a print presence.
We hope to offer two free print runs of 100, 20-page papers to lucky UK-based journalism courses, hyperlocals or start-ups.
January 14, 2012

Masterclass 42: Focus on video

VeriLocal lets you record and edit video on an iPhone or other Apple mobile device, and upload it swiftly through a dedicated link to your own website.
VeriLocal scores on two counts - it's a much more sophisticated in-phone editing app than anything else on the market, and its dedicated upload facility means you avoid the perennial problem with other apps of a long time-lag on your video uploads.
Hopefully there'll be a number of free trials on offer for MMJ users from VeriLocal.
January 28 

Masterclass 43: What web-clipping app is best for journalists?

A range of competing apps road-tested and compared
February 11 2012

Masterclass 44: Flash website building for non-coders

February 25 

Masterclass 45: Getting started and building proficiency in Wordpress 

Two levels of tuition in Wordpress. We’ll kick off by getting a basic site up and running. 
Then we'll look at using customised themes to create a really impressive Wordpress publishing platform.
March 10

Masterclass 46 - 49: How to choose a specialism, Series 2

We looked here at eight popular journalistic specialisms. Now we feature a second series, including:
  • Technology
  • Music
  • Education
March 24 - May 5

Masterclass 50: Brand Journalism

What it is, and why it could be the future for many journalists
May 19