Audioboom’s announcement that it will end free accounts
It’s been widely rumoured for some weeks now that Audioboom was about to end its free service – and this morning an email to users of the service confirmed that. From December 4, it says, “audioBoom will only offer a $9.99 monthly subscription to our current users”.
So what do you use if you want to produce mobile audio but don’t have the budget for Audioboom’s service? Here are three apps for three use cases… Continue reading →
In the second part of this five-part series, I explore how adaptability has not only become a key quality for the journalist – but for the information they deal with on a daily basis too. This will form part of a forthcoming book on online journalism – comments very much invited.
The adaptable journalist
A key skill for any journalist in the new media age, whatever medium they’re working in, is adaptability. The age of the journalist who only writes text, or who only records video, or audio, is passing. Today, the newspaper and magazine, the television and the radio programme all have an accompanying website. And that website is, increasingly, filled with a whole range of media, which could include any of the following:
Microblogging/Text/email alerts (Twitter)
Community elements – forums, wikis, social networking, polls, surveys
This does not mean that the online journalist has to be an expert in all of these fields, but they should have media literacy in as many of these fields as possible: in other words, a good online journalist should be able to see a story and think:
‘That story would have real impact on video’;
or: ‘A Flash interactive could explain this better than anything else’;
or ‘This story would benefit from me linking to the original reports and some blog commentary’;
or ‘Involving the community in this story would really engage, and hopefully bring out some great leads’. Continue reading →
The blurb, BTW, is: “We’ll source what we do through the best blogs, passionate ‘ear catching’ online debate as well as comments and recommendations of others. So what ends up on air will be shaped by listeners and bloggers.”
If you have ten minutes today, click along to Katine: it starts with a village. With this project The Guardian is doing something very special indeed with crowdsourcing, interactive storytelling, and journalism itself.
Launched over the weekend, Katine appears to be a new approach to “the annual appeal to focus attention on worthwhile causes during the pre-Christmas giving season”. Editor Alan Rusbridger explains: Continue reading →
If you want to see the future of UK journalism, it’s often best to look at America. So it’s interesting to see the following statistic to come from research by David Wendelken:
“even the smallest commercial newspapers, with 10,000 readers or fewer, are looking for reporting candidates with experience writing for the Web and uploading stories to the Internet, according to a survey of newspaper managing editors conducted by Wendelken and Toni B. Mehling of James Madison University. Of nine respondents in the “large daily newspaper” category (those with a circulation of 44,000 and above), eight required reporters to have skills in capturing audio while four required audio editing skills. Five required reporters to have skills in capturing video, while one required video editing expertise. Major newspapers, said Wendelken, “are looking at reporters to do these things from the start.”
And the problem isn’t just those who think teaching journalists Dreamweaver is ‘online journalism’. It’s students’ own dated conceptions of the journalism industry:
“A lot of college students select their medium in high school. When they come onto campus, they’re already a TV person or a radio person or a newspaper person,” said Wendelken.
“I’m a print journalist,” he continued, imitating the attitude of many aspiring journalists. “Why do I need to learn video?”
“After a few hours of work on his laptop, [broadcast journalist Oliver] Williams had created an interactive map plotting audio files of BBC Radio Berkshire reports — along with pictures and YouTube videos being sent in by the public — to the locations around the county that they referred to. Over the following days, BBC Berkshire journalists were able to add additional reports to the map as the story continued, including new flood warnings as they came in to the newsroom.”
If you’re one of the many journalism graduates wandering the jobs pages this summer, here’s my Five-Step Plan® to getting a job in journalism
Get a job, it doesn’t matter what. Nothing makes a person employable like being already employed. Plus you now have an employer’s reference. You’ll be making new contacts and learning new things, giving you more to talk about on the CV/interview. If you can get a job in the area you want to write about, even better: even if it’s something as prosaic as working in Next because you want to be a fashion journo. You’ll be surprised how much knowledge you pick up. Once you have the job, try to shape it so you can gain as much useful experience as possible: suggest an internal newsletter you could write, or contribute to the company website.
Get a blog – no, don’t stop reading. This is not about online journalism. A blog helps you achieve a number of things regardless of whether you ever want to publish online professionally:
Practice makes perfect: writing regularly for a blog helps you hone and improve your journalistic style (note: that’s journalistic style, not diary style. Your journalist’s blog should be a series of articles, interviews etc. in your area of interest, not what you did on your summer holidays)
Ready-made portfolio: writing regularly for a blog gives you a wealth of material to show to potential employers. You should of course also include any material you have had published elsewhere. Include it on your CV so they can browse through it in deciding to give you an interview.
Proof of commitment: if you’re committed enough to write a blog regularly, to get out there and find out what’s happening in your specialist area, that proves you’re more committed than most job applicants.
Exposure: at this point, whether or not anyone reads your blog is not the primary goal, but if you do it well, you can build a reputation, and two things can happen: a) when you’re at the interview, the editor says “I’m a reader of your blog”; and b) freelance jobs will come to you. Note: this often takes years, and is often connected with the next step.
Get involved in the area you want to report on: firstly, know where to get grassroots news in your area, so build up a first class favourites folder/Bloglines account of the best bloggers and news sources. Secondly, comment on those blogs and sites, and engage in the debates. Thirdly, conduct your own interviews for your own blog, online and offline. And finally, get away from your computer and do things: attend events, do courses, arrange a day in a relevant company. All of this proves your commitment, builds your reputation, and gives you a contacts book to die for.
Get a good mobile phone – that is, one that takes pictures, video and audio. Download some free editing software like Windows Movie Maker and Audacity, and play around with it. Upload some video or audio to to your blog, YouTube or Switchpod. Quality will come with time, but the primary point here is to prove that you have some multimedia experience. Journalists are increasingly expected to know how to produce audio and video as well as text, and this is another way of putting you ahead of the competition. You will also need it for step 5:
Get an eye for news: don’t wait to join a news organisation to become a journalist. As you do your job, as you walk the streets, as you read the newspapers and browse the messageboards, keep your news sense about you: is something happening that is newsworthy? Record it with your phone and send it to a relevant news organisation. Has someone said something that is newsworthy? Highlight it on your blog. Is there a national story that you could put a specialist or local angle to? Write it up.
This is the most fundamental of skills for a journalist, whether in news or features. It is the one thing employers will be looking for. If you can tell them you filmed the floods on your phone or spotted a good lead on a forum, it proves you’re always ‘on’.
This includes a training programme with “a series of week-long video journalism courses and a series of one-day multimedia workshops, which will be attended by more than 70 journalists in the North West region before being rolled out across the division.”
I’m still scooping my jaw from the floor after looking at the Herald-Tribune’s Flash interactive on how complaints about teachers are handled. Not only does this use Flash cleverly – particularly to illustrate the complex process through which complaints go (now try doing that in print), along with audio clips – but it’s integrated with a database so you can search by district and school, keyword, or even map, a great example of database-driven journalism. From Journalistopia:
“It took the Herald-Tribune 14 months and repeated threats of legal action to obtain the database under Florida’s public records law.
“Even then, some information turned out to be so inaccurate that the Herald-Tribune decided to create its own version, reviewing 30,000 pages of administrative documents to build a database […]”