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Tool of the week for journalists: Taggstar, for adding links to your pictures

October 18th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Tool of the Week

Tool of the week: Taggstar

What is it? A tool to add links so when readers hover over a photo they see links to video, audio, text, maps, retailers and more.

How is it of use to journalists? Taggstar launched last month as a free tool to allow journalists and news sites add links to other content from photos.

It is similar to ThingLink (a previous tool of the week for journalists), but, according to TechCrunch, Taggstar is focusing much of its attention on e-commerce opportunities and making images ‘shoppable’ so that readers can find links to buy a product or service.

For example, see how MSN is using Taggstar to show where readers can buy dresses, shoes and a necklace similar to those worn by Kate Middleton.

The TechCrunch post explains how this works:

Not only can publishers make their image galleries ‘shoppable’, but Taggstar’s image search technology claims to be able to interrogate hundreds of thousands of product images from its network of over 200 retailers, and display the best results based on colour, pattern and style. It does this by relying on the tags that publishers add to their images when using Taggstar’s platform and by taking a visual swatch of the product being tagged. It then crawls through the XML feeds of retailers who have signed up to work with Taggstar and automatically delivers results by analysing those product images, as well as the related textual data.

Publishers can add a revenue stream by using Taggstar, and, according to the Taggstar FAQs, there are “more monetisation features in the pipeline”.

Publishers can also link to video, audio and other rich media sources. To test it out we added links to a photo of the Newsstand iPad app, linking to iTunes.

Before tagging an image you will need to add some code to your site or blog or download a WordPress plugin. We tested it out using Tumblr. Taggstar explains exactly what you need to do.

When logged into Taggstar you then right click any image on your site to easily add links.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Story Wheel, for easy audio slideshows

Tool of the week: Story Wheel

What is it? An easy audio slideshow tool using Instagram and SoundCloud

How is it of use to journalists? If you are a journalist who regularly uses Instagram to share photos, here is a tool that will allow you turn the images into a story.

Go to the Story Wheel site, connect your Instagram account, click the pictures you want to use and then record audio, hitting the space bar every time you want the picture to change to the next in your selection.

An audio slideshow takes just minutes to make and is a quicker option than using tools such as Soundslides.

Although you can’t embed the audio slideshow, it does offer journalists a great way of telling a story around their images and sharing via social media.

You can see examples of Instagram audio slideshows on the Story Wheel site.

According to the Story Wheel site, the tool come out of a hack day. It was built using the SoundCloud api for the audio part and is now part of SoundCloud Labs.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Tagboard, for searching social networks (including App.net)

Tool of the week: Tagboard

What is it? A tool for searching social networks, including recently launched App.net

How is it of use to journalists? Tagboard is still being built but an early version is available. Enter a hashtag and you can search across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and App.net.

You do not have to be members of the networks to search.

App.net was launched last month as a Twitter-like social network but one that is ad-free and fully open to developers to create apps. You can see the global feed of all conversations taking place on App.net at this link.

In order to build the network without later selling advertising, App.net charges users $50 per year. It’s still in its early stages but developers are busy working on third-party apps (such as Tagboard).

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Tool of the week for journalists: Cowbird, for unedited storytelling

Tool of the week: Cowbird

What is it? Cowbird allows people to tell multimedia stories, incorporating text, photos, sound, subtitles, roles, relationships, maps, tags, timelines, dedications, and characters.

It currently by invite only.

How is it of use to journalists?

Cowbird has been used by the National Geographic to allow people living in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to tell their own stories, in their own words and pictures.

The title has gathered the unedited stories on its site by teaming up with the creators of the storytelling tool.

Mediashift has an article on ‘how National Geographic used Cowbird storytelling tool to tell a reservation’s whole story‘, which explains why the title opted for this approach and how they teamed up with those behind the platform. It’s well worth reading.

Other news outlets could clearly take inspiration from the National Geographic and launch their own storytelling projects. It is also worth looking at the roles (such as journalist) and thinking about how people and their stories can become sources for a feature or news item.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Datawrapper, for quick data visualisations

Tool of the week: Datawrapper

What is it? A free, easy-to-use data visualisation tool.

How is it of use to journalists? At the Guardian Activate Summit on Wednesday (27 June), editor of the Guardian’s Datastore and Datablog Simon Rogers said he had recently started using a tool called Datawrapper.

Datawrapper is a free tool that was developed for ABZV, a journalism training organization affiliated to BDVZ (German Association of Newspaper Publishers) in an effort “to develop a comprehensive curriculum for data-driven journalism”.

Here is the Datawrapper site (note the button to switch from German to English). It allows you to copy and paste data from an excel spreadsheet, Google Doc or even a web page and visualise as a graph or pie chart and then embed the visualisation.

Here is a visualisation I created to try it out – which tool less than five minutes. It is based on a study by Rippla that found half of news articles shared on Twitter are BBC News stories

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Tool of the week for journalists: Transcribe, a Chrome web app that saves time

Tool of the week: Transcribe

What is it? Transcribe is a simple Chrome web app that allows you to upload audio and transcribe it without switching between an audio player and a text editing document

How is it of use to journalists? Transcribe is a favourite here at Journalism.co.uk. We may have shorthand but usually opt to record Skype and phone interviews in order to concentrate on the conversation and refer back later.

If you have ever tried to transcribe quotes or sections from an audio interview and toggled between a text-editing document and the audio player, you will love this tool as it will save you time.

This free Chrome web app allows you to upload an mp3 or wav file and transcribe within the box below the player. It has some handy shortcuts, the most useful of which is the ‘esc’ key that pauses the audio and re-starts it from a second before the point at which you stopped it.

There are also shortcuts to rewind and speed up the recording, but Mac users with function keys (F1, F2 etc) set to perform other tasks will find this less useful.

Another benefit of this tool is the ability to use it off line, when working from a train, for example.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Geofeedia, to locate real-time photos, videos and tweets

Tool of the week: Geofeedia

What is it? A tool that allows you to search for a location and find geolocated tweets, photos and videos.

How is it of use to journalists? This tool offers potential for journalists faced with verifying a breaking news story. Search for a postcode, country, school or sporting stadium and you can see geolocated social media content posted on Twitter, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr and YouTube.

Imagine hearing reports of a fire. With Geofeedia you could enter the address and see what images, videos and tweets are being shared on social media.

Hat tip: Poynter, which has reported that Geofeedia came out of private beta earlier this week.

Find out more about verification by reading this Journalism.co.uk guide.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Thinglink, for interactive images

Tool of the week: Thinglink

What is it? A tool to allow you to add rich media, such as YouTube videos, SoundCloud recordings and Wikipedia entries to photographs.

How is it of use to journalists? Take a look this poster on NME.com and you will see a fantastic example of how a photo can be annotated with rich media.

Thinglink currently allows you to link to: video (YouTube, Vimeo, Ted); music and audio (Spotify, SoundCloud and iTunes); photos (Flickr, Instagram, Imgur); live music artists (Thrillcall); social media (Facebook pages, Twitter); plus Wikipedia, any event on the Eventbrite, products on Etsy, and almost anything sold on Amazon. You can also embed images.

(The below image is a screengrab and not interactive. Follow the link to see how the photo displays video, audio and more.)

Here is a quick test I did using a Telegraph logo, adding a tweet, a link to the newspaper’s Facebook page and the Wikipedia entry for the title.

The base service is free, however upgrading to a Plus or Pro plan gives you improved statistics, more uploaded images, and the ability to turn your Thinglinked images into Facebook tabs.

This tool was recommended by Luke Lewis, editor of NME.com. To recommend a journalism tool email me using this link.

16:52 Friday 27 April 2012: Updated to correct our assertion that a paid upgrade is required to embed pictures.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Google Follow Your World

Tool of the week: Google Follow Your World

What is it? Add a location and Google will notify you every time a new satellite image is added for that location.

How is it of use to journalists? Mark a location and each time Google updates the satellite and aerial imagery in your area of interest, you will be notified.

Think of it as like Google Alerts for mapping information.

Consider the possibilities for digital journalism in having images showing the changes to the Olympics site, an area of coastal erosion or the development (or lack of change) within the Government enterprise zones.

It is a tool that requires patience as it may take months or even years for Google to update the aerial imagery for your area of interest.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Muck Rack

Tool of the week: Muck Rack

What is it? A site that aggregates Twitter and social media feeds for thousands of professional journalists.

How is it of use to journalists? Journalists often break or share vital information first through social media. Muck Rack allows you to monitor trending topics among journalists in real-time. Its aim, according to Muck Rack’s creators, is to deliver “tomorrow’s newspaper to you today”.

Launched in 2009, Muck Rack now draws content from thousands of journalists who use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sources to break news on a daily basis.

Built around a central directory of verified professionals, Muck Rack now boasts an extensive directory of top journalists from around the world which can be searched by name, publication or even beat.

Professionals only need a valid Twitter account to apply for verification, although the process is heavily vetted to ensure certain standards are met such as relevance of tweets or posts and consistent activity.

The site also emails out a daily analysis of what journalists are saying called the Muck Rack Daily, which is pored over by its editorial team.

Muck Rack dovetails well with previous Journalism.co.uk tool of the week Press Pass, which organises journalists by beat, media outlet or region.

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