Sunday, 18 December 2016

How to build a smartphone App without using any coding, with App Builder: previewing Masterclass 8 at Multimedia journalism

In Chapter 17 of Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide we took a look at several platforms that allow the non-coder to create a professional App for smartphone and tablet.

Now I'd like to look at a worthy addition to that list.

It's called App Builder, and comes from the App Institute. Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 11.15.47
 So here's a run down on how App Builder works. As ever, this tuition is not intended to work independently of the much more extensive guidance included in the paper and ebook versions of Multimedia Journalism (MMJ) and the associated website.

This is by way of an update on what you will find there.

You can buy the Multimedia Journalism book here for the UK and here for North America.

It's also available at all national versions of Amazon

What App Builder does

App builder is designed for the small business, but works just as well for journalists and publishers.

 It enables you to create a professional app, and add content to it, with just a few clicks - as long as you have your content ready. Submission to the Apple and Google app stores is available, as is hosting (pricing here).

 You don't pay anything until you publish, which means App Builder is a great platform for practising app building.

Before you start

 Read Chapter 17 of MMJ, on Multi-Platform Publishing, particularly section 17C4, on page 436, which goes through the general principles of building an app without using any coding.

 Platform overview

 This video introduction gives you the basics:

Click here to go to the full tuition

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

How to publish with Apple News, Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP, Medium and Bloom


Since Multimedia Journalism edition two launched in October 2015, a whole raft of new news-publishing opportunities have come onto the market.

 They include offerings from the big players - Apple, Facebook and Google - plus some from lesser known ones.

 All are designed to make the mobile web work better, and to help publishers take advantage of much faster page loading speeds, a much better user experience, great design, and far greater reach.

 So,  as a student journalist, should you be publishing on one or more of these platforms?

 And, if you should, how do you go about getting your content on them?

 Actually one - Medium - has been available for a while, but it's really only gained major interest in the past few months.
 In this masterclass we'll answer those questions for the following:
 All five of these platforms have WordPress plugins associated with them that simplify and streamline the publishing process, enabling you to direct content to them from your Wordpress site - the sites we created in Chapters 2 and 8 of MMJ.

 As ever, this tuition is not meant to stand alone - it is a supplement to all we covered in the print and ebook textbook.

 Buy it here for North America here for the UK

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Masterclass 6: Road-testing Prowly - a new publishing platform for brand (and traditional) journalism

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 16.19.29
  Prowly is a publishing platform that combines a very simple set-up, design and publishing process with a good deal of guidance and tuition in how to optimise your content's appeal to your target audience.

  Prowly was conceived as a brand journalism platform, but to my mind it works just as well for a traditional publisher.

  As with all these masterclasses, what follows is designed to supplement and update the detailed tuition included in my Multimedia Journalism and Brand Journalism textbooks.

 I'll link from material here to relevant points on the two textbook websites, where you can find context, background and further tuition in what we cover.

  Here's Prowly's MO:

prowly blue grab

Because it is targeted at brands which are not traditional publishers, and for which content creation of high journalistic standards is a new challenge, it is very informative for beginners in journalism, including students.

Who publishes on Prowly? 

Let's take a quick look at three companies that publish on the platform. Prowly hails from Poland, so the examples here are in Polish.

If you browse them on Google Chrome you can click the translate button to render content into English.

 Among their clients is the journalism brand National Geographic:

  Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 16.25.02

National Geographic publishes articles about forthcoming programmes on the schedule, and additional content such as an invitation to pitch ideas for TV shows.

  Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 16.27.40

 Non-journalistic clients include: Spotify 

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 16.24.37

The music streaming service runs brand journalism about its content, for example on the popularity 
of the Beatles on the service,


 using text and info graphics...

  beatles infographic

... and surrounding the Eurovision Song Contest, integrating playlists into the articles it posts on its Prowly site:

  spotify eurovision grab

As far as I can tell, Spotify does not offer such content to its UK or American users, which is a shame, because the one flaw I find with the service is that it does not do anything like enough, through brand journalism, to help us find music that might interest us.

 I believe Spotify would be substantially improved if it included music journalism of Rolling Stone quality alongside its access to millions of songs, because such abundance is hard to navigate without the guide, filter and recommendation engine that informed, authoritative journalism can provide.

As an aside, Spotify allows brands to use its content to create closer relationship with customers. BMW did it in the US to promote a new model, offering purchasers the chance to go to a map to create playlists related to classic road trips:

  Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 16.56.16

Hill and Knowlton The PR agency includes case studies and news:

  hill prowly

  Prowly's tuition for brands and brand journalists

  Integrated within the publishing platform are resources to help you understanding your audience and learn to pitch to them more effectively, and to make "Brand journalism a centrepiece for your communication".

That's a topic we cover in great depth in the Brand Journalism textbook pages 21-34 and on the companion website here.

 For brands that want to get into journalism, Prowly provides a magazine with guides to content creation for particular groups.

 For example young mums:

  Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 16.41.51

There is an academy with tuition on brand journalism and content creation:


  Why Prowly is worth a closer look

 Prowly combines the ease and elegance of publishing I like about, with the ability to target a campaign to a given audience provided by Mailchimp.

We cover these platforms in the Multimedia Journalism textbook: Spotify on page 211 in the book/ebook and on the companion website here, Mailchimp on page 278-282 and on the companion website here.

  NEXT: How to publish on Prowly

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Five masterclasses: in data journalism, writing for Buzzfeed, live reporting with Snapchat and Periscope, creating mashed-up RSS news feeds, and how to bring gaming into your reporting

There are now five masterclasses to accompany the new, second edition of Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide

You can find all that tuition here, or read on to explore individual topics.

But please note that these masterclasses are designed to complement the tuition in the MMJ textbook, and not as stand-alone explorations of new developments in journalism. So you'll need the book to put them in context, and you can buy it here for the UK and here for the US and Canada.

Data journalism: new practical projects
In this masterclass we offer a new range of data journalism projects, with step-by-step instructions on completing them. Tuition here

How to write for Buzzfeed: the art of the listical 
This masterclass offers a practical demonstration of how to create features in the listical style used widely on new journalism platforms such as Buzzfeed. Tuition here

The journalism of now: using Snapchat and Periscope for reporting 
I’ve called this masterclass the journalism of now simply because both these platforms are designed to carry live news and information. It typically disappears within 24 hours, although there are ways to keep it live for longer. We look in detail at the particular demands of  live reporting on these platforms. Tuition here

Creating a mashed-up RSS feed of news or information 
 This tuition explores ChimpFeedr. ChimpFeedr lets you add a series of individual RSS feed urls to a list, and then – at the click of a button – it generates a new RSS feed which combines all the posts going to those individual feeds in your original list. It's a great way to create a news feed from a wide range of sources which you can then republish. Tuition here

How to bring gaming into your reporting and compete with Candycrush
We’re not talking about games for diversion in this tuition, but rather games that are part of the news offering of a media company.
The idea is that games serve to illustrate the impact of given events or actions much more powerfully than if a story is told through text and other media that do not directly involve the reader.
Gamifying a news story enables readers to interact with the information presented, entering into the story, exploring it and discovering its complexities.Tuition here

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Masterclass 5: How to bring gaming into your news reporting and compete with Candy Crush

Why do games have a place in news?

This post introduces the latest tuition related to my textbook Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide
Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 14.54.36
  We're not talking about games for diversion here, but rather games that are part of the news offering of a media company.
  The idea is that games serve to illustrate the impact of given events or actions much more powerfully than if a story is told through text and other media that do not directly involve the reader.
  Gamifying a news story enables readers to interact with the information presented, entering into the story, exploring it and discovering its complexities.
  They might, for example, choose options within the story and then discover the consequences. Games make for a more immersive experience.
  In a survey of what media companies are doing to make games a part of their offering, Poynter came up with this list of those experimenting with gaming that included The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, the New York Times and AP.

Readers love games 

  Games are popular - as we'll discuss later, there is a view that if your journalism can't compete with Candy Crush for sheer irresistibility and as an immersive experience, it will fail. 
 The good news is that news-based games are also very popular with readers.  This dialect quiz was the most popular piece of content on the NYT in 2013, according to Poynter. Slate's most popular piece of content to date was this name generator, inspired by a light news story in which John Travolta mangled a name at the Academy Awards  Both those examples are entertaining adjuncts to news stories, but games can also be used to tell a story.
  Poynter reports that American University has had many enquires from news organisations seeking to incorporate games into its news coverage since it launch an MA in games design

Games allow audiences to experience information in a new way 

cutthroat capitalism

  Programme director Lindsay Grace told Poynter he attributes this growth in interest in games to factors including the ubiquity of mobile devices, and the shift to a culture that views play as productive. 
He believes that, done right, games can be useful storytelling tools, because they allow audiences to experience information in a new way. A story experienced through a game may have a more lasting impact, he believes, than a report in which facts and figures are quickly forgotten.
  Lindsay gives two examples of games which put a reader into a story.

  Cutthroat Capitalism 

  One, from Wired, is called Cutthroat Capitalism and explains the economics of modern-day piracy by putting the reader in the role of a Somali pirate commander seeking to board supertankers and extract millions of dollars in ransom for their safe return, and for sparing the lives of their crews. 
There is a conventional story, with facts, background, analysis and video here  cutthroat the game
  Go here to play the game.
  This approach could be used in all kinds of major news stories.
  You might for example, seek to gamify the story of individuals trapped in a war zone - Syria would be a powerful current location - and allow the reader act out the role of a refugee. They don't just see what is happening to others. 
 Their role in the game gives them a much more profound - albeit virtual - experience of what happens to a refugee when they take a given course of action. Do they stay put? Do they seek the protection of one faction or another? Do they move to a refugee camp in the region? Do they seek to make the journey to the EU?
  Real stories could be used to illustrate what happens if one or other of these options are taken. 
The individual stories will be true, and information about the wider context in which those individuals are operating ( and the reader-as-player) can be introduced as the game is played.

  Gauging your distraction 

  Grace's second example, Gauging Your Distraction, from the New York Times, puts the reader in the driving seat of a car and forces them to send and receive texts while navigating a series of obstacles. You could use this format for all kinds of stories which explore the consequences of actions.

The place of games in modern news reporting

Maxwell Foxman of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism has studied the place of games in modern news reporting.

In this NeimanLab report he says: "While games, play and the news have a long history, we find ourselves at an exciting moment as newsmakers' strategies and efforts to playfully engage with users are beginning to see benefits...for digital newsrooms already built around much of the same technology and practices of game designers, a playful approach seems particularly attractive."


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Masterclass 4: Creating a mashed-up RSS feed of news or information

In Chapter 10 of Multimedia Journalism we looked at creating email bulletins and, in module 10B4 within that chapter, at how you can mash up RSS feeds from a number of sources to create a new, curated RSS feed of targeted news or information.

  One element of that tuition now needs updating. The text below forms that update.

  10B4 Creating an RSS feed with ChimpFeedr

Yahoo Pipes, which we used originally, as been withdrawn, so I have been on the lookout for a suitable alternative.
  Sadly, there isn't anything I can find that is as easy to use for the non-coder, and does as much, as Pipes.
  A number of people have offered lists of alternatives, and you'll find a range of suggestions herehere and herebut I wasn't entirely happy with any of them.
  They were either too complicated, or did not allow you to sift the information you were gathering as efficiently as Yahoo Pipes did.
  The best current option, for me, is a service offered by MailChimp and, as we are using MailChimp to create our email bulletins, that's pretty convenient.
  It's called ChimpFeedr, and you an find it here:  
 ChimpFeedr - like Yahoo Pipes - lets you add a series of individual RSS feed urls to a list, and then - at the click of a button - it generates a new RSS feed which combines all the posts going to those individual feeds in your original list.

Why would you want to do that?
  Well, if you get this right, you can create a feed that picks up on all the latest news or information in the area you cover. 
 You can combine your own output with that from other specialists in your field, giving readers the place to come for comprehensive coverage of your beat.

How to choose your feeds
  Your feeds need to come from a closely targeted area. That might be localities, if you have a local or hyperlocal site; an area of business activity if you are creating a B2B news product; or other news sources if you are covering a topic nationally or internationally. 
  You might also cover film, music or any other special interest area in a mashed-up feed. (In Chapter 17 of Multimedia Journalism we look at how we can use the RSS feeds we create to feed into a mobile phone app.)
  You'll need to be highly selective when combining feeds.

Here's an example of how to get started
  As mentioned on page 117 of the print version of Multimedia Journalism, the Mail Online offers a comprehensive list of news feeds here:
  Among them are feeds for Mail Online coverage of many celebrities. If you are a showbiz reporter, and want to create a mashup RSS feed from a range of key stars, this is a good starting point. 
  You'd also need to identify other sources of news on the celebrities you have chosen. Choose the ones you find most useful in your research and you won't go far wrong.
  The Mail Online presentation makes it easy to find the feeds, linking to each under an orange button, but when seeking feeds from many sites it is often it is harder to find them, so here's some guidance...

How to find the feed url in each case
  Click on the page’s orange RSS button, and you’ll get a screen come up that offers you various ways to subscribe to it. 
  In the url address box at the top of the browser window is the feed url. 
  Copy and paste it into the input area of ChimpFeedr.
  Some sites put this logo prominently on their homepage, others hide it, so you occasionally have to hunt it out. 
  As a last resort, Google the website or blog name plus RSS and see if that helps.
  For this demonstration, I've gathered a range of news sources for the area covered by my hyperlocal news site, LondonW5 (creating it is covered in Chapter 2 of MMJ).
  I've gathered the RSS feed urls from a mix of local news sites, the Met police, what's on guides and transport updates. The grab below shows some of them ready to be combined. 

ChimpFeedr will ask you to name your mashup, and I'm calling mine West London Live.

When you have all your feeds gathered
  Click the 'Chomp Chomp' button and ChimpFeedr generates your new RSS url.

What to do with your new RSS feed url
  As covered in Chapter 2 of MMJ, Wordpress lets you display content from an RSS feed on your website, using either a widget (if you are using or a plugin (if using
  You can place the widget or plugin on your website's homepage, following the guidance given in Chapter 2 (for .com sites, or Chapter 8 for .org sites). 
 Then paste your RSS url into the box indicated, and title the feed.

To see your content
  Switch from the edit view to 'view my site' and you'll see the content you have gathered. Here's a grab of mine: 


MailChimp's own tuition
  You'll find it here: