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Journalism.co.uk’s top 10 stories on Facebook in 2011

December 23rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in About us, Lists, Traffic

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After taking a look at the top 10 Facebook news stories of 2011 and the top 10 Twitter news stories of 2011, we’ve compiled a list of the most shared, liked and commented on Journalism.co.uk news stories and blog posts published in 2011.

1. Julian Assange wins Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (5,268 likes, 1,523 shares, 768 comments)

2. Guardian predicts 1m installs of Facebook app in first month (613 likes, 85 shares, 95 comments)

3. BBC developing new iPhone app for field reporters (98 likes, 172 shares, 80 comments)

4. Daily Mail criticised over Amanda Knox guilty story (53 likes, 86 shares, 138 comments)

5. How to: become a roaming reporter (62 likes, 37 shares, 85 comments)

6. Al Jazeera English hits US screens after New York cable deal (75 likes, 60 shares, 33 comments)

7. ‘Is there a better way of doing this?': Johann Hari responds to plagiarism accusations (12 likes, 47 shares, 88 comments)

8. Bahrain to sue Independent over ‘defamatory’ articles (99 likes, 31 shares, 2 comments)

9. #jpod: How journalists can best use Facebook pages (58 likes, 53 shares, 4 comments)

10. London riots: Five ways journalists used online tools (40 likes, 64 shares, 10 comments)

Data was gathered using Searchmetrics.

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Ten things every journalist should know in 2012

December 20th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Lists, Press freedom and ethics

Image by Tormel on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Here are 10 things every journalists should know in 2012. This list builds on 10 things every journalist should know in 2009 and 2010. It is worth looking back at the previous posts as the ideas are still relevant today.

1. Learn from Leveson. The Leveson inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the media has specifically scrutinised journalism and the industry, but social media (and therefore popular opinion) is also holding it to account. Journalists need to be sure that the means really do justify the ends for a story and must be crystal clear about the legalities of their actions. And they need to be more transparent about the sources of stories, where the source will not be compromised. If a story originates from a press release, acknowledge it.

2. Curate and share. Social sharing is a great way for a journalist to add value to their personal output (also see point 9).

You can share articles of interest to you by tweeting, adding curated links on your personal blog and using bookmarking site like Delicious or Pinboard.

Doing so will raise your social capital and help you to engage with your peers, contacts and your audience. Online influence and reputation may well become as important as your CV with the rise of tools like Klout and PeerIndex.

3. Invite others in. Your readers graze content, snacking from several news sites – so help them out. Include links to external content on your news site and post news from other outlets on your organisation’s social networks.

Although readers will still have a brand affinity, they are much more promiscuous in their reading habits, consuming content from a wide variety of news outlets. So acknowledge this and make your news site a destination not just for your journalism by providing links to content from other publishers.

4. Know your niche. Technology is driving the delivery of niche content. Where specialist titles once required consumers to hunt them down via postal subscriptions and visits to larger newsagents, niche content is now delivered instantly online and via apps and is more easily found. Specialise in an area that interests you, blog about the subject and share links.

5. Think multimedia on multiplatform. There has been much debate about tablets revolutionising publishing, but many magazines are simply pushing out their print version via non-interactive PDFs, aided by new delivery systems such as Apple’s Newsstand.

Publishers are opting to offer consumers a laid back reading experience in the knowledge that tablet owners read in the evenings when they have time to consume in-depth news. Publishers will also need to play to the strength of the tablet device, allowing interactive content such as video to shine, and focus on providing consumers with a reading experience that is different to that of a newspaper.

Journalists can be ahead of the game by developing skills in video, audio and other types of multimedia that can be used to enrich storytelling in apps and on other digital devices.

6. Data is not just for geeks. Data is driving journalism but many journalists are afraid of the numbers, spreadsheets and code. But all journalists need to know how to spot the nonsensical numbers in a press release, to be able to accurately make sense of statistics, and understand how to find a story in a study.

Take these examples of data used for investigative journalism from the Guardian: Afghanistan war: every death mapped and reporting the riots. But as well as in-depth data reporting, be aware of the free tools to get you started such as these ManyEyes visualisations, showing the number of women in British politics by party, of Manchester City Council spending or debt in the English premier league.

Be aware that data can be misinterpreted. Take this Express front page splash on a cancer study and read about the pitfalls highlighted by data journalist James Ball in this presentation given at news:rewired, a conference for journalists.

7. Focus on what works – do less to do more. No news organisation however well resourced can achieve everything. Work out what works and strive for excellence in that area.

Sometimes you need to take a step back to see where your priorities should lie. You may realise it is better to write one original feature than chase five stories already in the public domain.

8. Look to new off-site audiences. Don’t just focus on clicks on your site. If 10,000 people listen to your podcast on SoundCloud, 1,000 people click on a Storify or 10 people comment on a story on Facebook without visiting your site they are still being introduced to your title and brand and may visit in the future.

9. Add value. Readers will be able to get a story that is in the public domain from several sources so make your content count. Consider yourself a collective educator by adding value to everything you produce by including links and background information. Think of the way the Guardian’s liveblogs, such as Andrew Sparrow’s politics liveblogs, curate and add context. Act as a guide to your readers on your site, on Twitter and on other platforms.

10. Online communities are no substitute for offline communities. Journalists must still meet people, build trusting relationships and nurture real-world contacts.

  • For a day of inspirational ideas in journalism sign up to attend news:rewired – media in motion, a conference for journalists. It is being held at MSN HQ, London on 3 February 2012.
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Ten ways journalists can use SoundCloud

Audio platform SoundCloud has been around since 2007 but it is only this year that it has really taken off as a space for the spoken word as well as music.

Here are 10 ways it can be used by broadcast and digital journalists:

1. Record and share audio. You can do this from a computer or your smartphone or tablet. SoundCloud has apps for iPhone/iPad and Android but consider using one of the third-party iPhone apps that allow you to edit or trim before uploading directly to SoundCloud.

VC Audio Pro (£3.99) (a previous Journalism.co.uk app of the week) allows you to do a full multitrack edit before uploading to SoundCloud.

Try iRig Recorder (free for the basic app, £2.99 for the one with full functionality) and FiRe Studio (£2.99). Both allow you to trim and alter levels before uploading.

At Journalism.co.uk we’ve been uploading audio interviews and podcasts to our SoundCloud account, gathering over 2,800 followers and engaging with a new audience.

2. Search for sources. If you are looking for quotes or audio from a news event, search SoundCloud much in the way you would hunt down videos on YouTube. You will then be tasked with verifying the recordings, facing the same challenges as checking reports posted on Twitter and YouTube.

SoundCloud has an advanced search function which allows you to search the “spoken” category for a keyword. There is also an option of searching for content under a creative commons licence. Try searching for Japan earthquake, Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street to see the type of content available.

3. Discoverability. As with other platforms, SoundCloud hosts content that goes viral and has an embed option so you can post it to your site. Take this interview with US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. It is a message to her South Arizona constituents, her first since being shot in the head in January. It’s clocked up over 21,000 plays, and demonstrates the benefits of SoundCloud’s commenting system.

4. Create maps. You’ll need to get some help from SoundCloud, but the team can create a bespoke map to allow you to crowdsource audio or plot recordings from in-house reporters. Ben Fawkes from Soundcloud told Journalism.co.uk how you do this, explaining that all you will need to do is define a location and define a hashtag and audio will then be automatically plotted. Take a look at this example of a map created with audio from Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival.

5. Use the new HTML5 player. If you embed SoundCloud audio in blog posts you should be aware of the new HTML5 player. The standard player is Flash meaning it won’t work on iPhones and iPads. Instead, when copying the embed code click on the “customise player” and toggle through the tags to the HTML5 option.

6. Consider a customised player. There are options to customise the player, including adding photos, such as this example used on the London Literature Festival site.

7. Invite user-generated audio content. Encourage your audience to submit audio into a drop box. You can embed the SoundCloud drop box widget on your site and ask readers to upload their own audio. Here’s an example of NPR adding a widget to encourage listeners to share their summer music memories.

Another option is to consider an embeddable record button on your site. At present this will require some developer assistance but SoundCloud is now working on making an easy option so sites can add a button and encourage user-generated audio content to be submitted directly. Here is an example of a record button being used on a musician’s site. This is a different option, of a mapped audio tour guide of Dorchester, Boston, where readers can submit audio via a record button on the site.

There’s also the option of gathering audio via phone calls, as Chatter.fm has done by using Twilio technology.

Another option for user-generated content (UGC) is to use SoundCloud’s importer tool to allow readers/listeners (or your reporters) to submit audio via email or smartphone.

8. Prepare to add SoundCloud sharing to your news organisation’s app. SoundCloud is working on an iOS and Android sharing kit, which will mean you can submit audio to SoundCloud via your own app. You could encourage readers or reporters to submit stories/field recordings to your app and have the audio uploaded to SoundCloud so that it’s shareable, streamable and has all the relevant meta data.

9. Record a phone interview using SoundCloud. There are easier ways but this is a good option for when you need to record an interview and are armed only with a mobile phone. Make a three-way phonecall by calling this number, dial your interviewee and the SoundCloud line will then record your account. You can then upload the audio publicly or privately.

10. Get your audio transcribed. Speaker Text is a transcription company that is integrated with SoundCloud. It takes 48-72 hours to be transcribed and costs 99 cents a minute.  It’s a way of making audio search engine optimised but you can also link to a certain sentence within the audio, for example referencing a quote or comment.

Related posts: News organisations are increasingly using SoundCloud, says founder

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Ten things every freelance journalist should know

November 23rd, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Lists

Image by monkeywing on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

To mark National Freelancers’ Day we have been gathering advice for freelance journalists. Here is our Storify of curated tweets of advice for freelancers.

Our 10 tips include thoughts from freelancers and editors who responded to a request for advice from @journalismnews on Twitter, and we have added advice gathered over the years.

1. Don’t be afraid to pitch to editors (by email)

Commissioning editors positively encourage you to approach them with ideas and pitches.

 

 

2. Recognise that it is tough to go it alone

Make no mistake, it is not easy to start out as a freelancer. It requires you to be a great journalist, sales person, book keeper, networker and you need to be able to manage your own time. There may be periods when you are working long days on multiple features, at other times you may have too much free time.

Journalism.co.uk has a number of must-read guides, which can help if you are just starting out.

This updated feature on how to get started as a freelance journalist is an essential.

You can also take tips from this guide on how to effectively diversify as a freelancer, plus there is a two-part guide on how to make a successful transition to freelance journalism.

It may be hard, but believe in yourself and don’t give up.

3. Get a handle on your finances

Some freelancers advise getting an accountant, others manage their own accounts and submit their own self-assessment tax return.

It is wise to put away one third or one quarter of what you earn. That way you will have a lump sum ready when the 31 January deadline comes round. Alternatively you can set up a standing order to pay HMRC monthly so that you don’t face a large bill in January.

Self-assessment tax returns are relatively simple to fill in. You can make the process much easier by keeping expenses and receipts in a series of envelopes, one for every month of the year.

4. Invoice, politely remind, and then take action

Invoice after you have submitted your story, and give publishers a deadline, perhaps 14 or 30 days.

If you do not receive payment, telephone the accounts department and ask that the bill is settled.

Freelancers can feel awkward about hassling publishers for payment and may fear not being commissioned in the future. However, you are entitled to that payment, your own rent or mortgage needs to be paid and it is likely you won’t have a large cash flow.

If the publication delays, £2 + VAT will get you a legal Letter Before Action from a debt collection agency such as Thomas Higgins. An official letter will no doubt encourage slow payers to speed up.

This Journalism.co.uk guide on how to get paid on time has some excellent tips, advice on setting your own terms, chasing payments and threatening legal action.

5. Do not let others steal your work

Simon Crofts, a former lawyer who is now a photographer, has written about claiming damages for breach of copyright on EPUK (Editorial Photographers UK).

The article, published last week, details copyright law, what you are entitled to claim from an infringer, and how to assemble and present a claim. Although aimed at photographers, nearly all of it is relevant to writers who have had their articles ripped off.

6. Be strict with yourself

There is a danger of working too hard or not putting in enough hours and therefore losing potential commissions.

7. Think pictures

Consider selling your stories and photographs as a package. You could partner with a photographer or source your own images.

Selling a words and pictures package can make a story more appealing to a busy editor, and it could boost the amount you earn.

8. Consider syndicating abroad

This is not relevant for every type of content but there are various agencies who can sell on features for you, providing you have the rights to sell the story outside the UK.

This Journalism.co.uk guide details how to syndicate freelance articles abroad.

There is also a recently launched Canada-based platform called MediaCooler that maybe worth uploading content to. Journalism.co.uk has published a question and answer interview with MediaCooler’s CEO.

9. You need help from others when going it alone

Working from home and not having an employer to support you can be lonely and challenging. There is no editor or colleague to turn to for advice, there is no social contact, no post-work drinks or office Christmas party.

In order to learn from others and benefit from a support network, join a local freelancers’ meetup group, become a member of Journalism.co.uk’s freelance directory, which not only provides exposure but also gives you access to other freelancers with years of experience and those just starting out.

Also, set yourself an annual budget to pay for yourself to go on training courses (Journalism.co.uk runs one-day training courses, and has links to other short courses), attend journalism conferences (such as our news:rewired event where you can learn about the latest trends in digital journalism), and go to networking events.

10. Take advantage of the quiet month

The second half of December and first half of January is deadly quiet for many freelancers. You can either twiddle your thumbs and worry that you will never land a commission again or you can take advantage of the freelance life and go on holiday for a month.

For more news for freelancers, bookmark the freelance news section of Journalism.co.uk.

  • The freelance database on Journalism.co.uk contains hundreds of members from all over the world. A listing includes an individual page on the site where you can post links to your work, as well as a branded email address – yourname@freelancejournalism.com and access to the freelancejournalism.com group. You will also be able to purchase discounted training courses run by Journalism.co.uk. Sign up as a freelancer here.
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Ten free apps in the Chrome web store that journalists should know about

November 17th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Lists

Google’s Chrome web store, containing web apps, browser extensions, games and themes, launched in the UK in September following a US release in February.

You can access the store via the Chrome browser homepage and toggle between your “most visited” websites and available “apps”.

Here are 10 free apps and extensions in the Chrome web store that are useful tools for journalists.

1. Duedil

This is the browser extension enhancing an invaluable site for journalists working across all sectors. Duedil allows you to view company financial information, lists of directors and more in clear graphs and charts.

Click on any website and then the browser extension and you can look up the financial information on that firm. It may need assistance in recognising the correct company, however.

For example, if I am on the Guardian’s website and click the browser extension, I will get details for a company called Guardian Education Interactive. I must then select “not the company I am looking for” and enter Guardian Media Group. Clicking on a director’s name, such as in this case Alan Rusbridger, links me through to the full Duedil website.

2. SocialBro

This is a web app for Twitter and social media analytics. Sync your account/s and you will see a dashboard where you can find out the best time to tweet, map your followers and see the ratio of followers to friends.

3. News readers

Okay, this is a group of browser extensions and web apps but worth mentioning as one category. The Guardian, Independent, and several other national newspapers have opted for Chrome extensions, allowing you to read the headlines from your browser.

The New York Times has opted for a web app with more story detail, which fills the browser.

4. iPiccy

This web app is a simple image photo editor and handy for any journalists who have to prepare images for the web.

5. Transcribe

If you record interviews and play them back later to transcribe them this is a must have app. It gets round the problem of playing audio in one application (such as iTunes) and then writing in a text document.

Add your mp3 or wav audio file and you can transcribe by typing in the box below the player. It also works offline. One of the great features are the short cuts: alt+p = pause/resume, alt+i = rewind two seconds, alt+o = forward two seconds.

6. Mappeo

Mappeo is a useful web app for regional reporters or anyone covering a localised story, such as a protest. Open the app and you will see a map of geolocated videos that have been uploaded to YouTube. You can click on the icon to launch and play the video.

7. Aviary audio editor

This is a great free app for broadcast journalists and podcasters. Simply upload audio in a variety of formats, select whether this is private to you or public, and decide how you want to licence it.

8. SEO SERP

There are lots of SEO tools in the Chrome web store. SEO SERP is a useful browser extension for any journalists mindful of web traffic and keywords.

For example, type “journalism jobs” and see Journalism.co.uk is top of the Google rankings, or (as below) type in keywords such as Leveson and see who is ranked top.

9. TinEye

Add this browser extension, right click on a picture or upload an image and you can find out where else it has been used. It could be a valuable journalism tool to verify photographs. It can even scan for reversed images.

10. Kindle it

This is a handy option for Kindle users. It allows you to send web pages to your Kindle for reading later.

 

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