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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: 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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CoveritLive switches to paid-only service

Popular liveblogging platform CoverItLive has announced the end of its free usage tier, becoming an entirely paid for subscription service.

In an email to current subscribers the company wrote:

CoveritLive is introducing new monthly subscription plans based on active usage. These plans provide customers full access to all of CoveritLive’s Premium features – previously unavailable to Basic plan customers — including event feeds, event groups and homepages, live webcam and access to the CoveritLive API. Additionally, we have released several new features including a new dashboard with enhanced metrics, simplified Facebook event implementation and improved user management tools.

With the availability of the new plans and features, we will transition all CoveritLive Basic customers (including your current account) to a new Trial plan on July 1st 2012. The Trial plan will still allow you complete access to CoveritLive functionality for free and with no time limit, but it will now place a limit of 25 event “clicks” (active users who click into or engage with an event) per month on your account.

CoveritLive’s ‘Starter’ subscription costs $9.99 per month and allows for 250 viewers per  month, their ‘Standard’ tier costs $149 per month and allows for up to 10,000 viewers. The current Basic plan for the service will end on 1 July.

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Bitly launches ‘bitmark’ social bookmarking service

May 29th, 2012 | 28 Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

Bitly, the popular link shortener used by the BBC, Independent, Daily Telegraph and many other news websites, has today announced its ‘bitmark’ service.

Anyone who uses social bookmarking sites like Delicious or Pinterest will be familiar with the idea of saving and sharing articles they find interesting. Bitly has added this functionality to its already popular link shortening service.

As Bitly explains on its blog:

So, what are bitmarks? It’s a better name for bookmarks. Bitmarks are the interesting links you collect across the web — a hard to find recipe, an article, an awesomely hysterical video. It’s anything that you find and want to save and maybe even want to easily share. You can organise them into bundles based on a theme or share them with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, and email. You decide whether each bitmark gets published to your public profile or saved privately, so that only you can see it.

Since Bitly started in 2008 more than 25 billion links have been shortened on the site, according to the company. More than 80 million links are shortened on Bitly every day and they are clicked on 300 million times. Its easy-to-use analytics makes it popular with publishers that want to track their social media reach.

Until now it has been used a tool rather than a destination page, but the company hopes the new focus on social bookmarking will foster a community around the site.

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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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Social magazine app Flipboard adds audio

May 16th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Multimedia

Social magazine app Flipboard has added audio, allowing users to listen to a podcast, an interview or music while flipping through the pages of the app.

Flipboard is an iPhone and iPad app (soon to be on Android) that allows users to sync with their Twitter, Google Reader, Facebook and other accounts to receive personalised news content.

Flipboard has partnered with SoundCloud for audio (which provides content including Journalism.co.uk’s podcasts), National Public Radio and Public Radio International (PRI).

As The Next Web reports:

It’s a marvellous new way to distribute and listen to audio content, one I might just use specifically for podcasts. The user experience is unquestionably superior to iTunes.

And how long before we see Flipboard dive into video? It’s somewhat surprising it hasn’t decided to explore the video space first. The social magazine already includes a video category but is limited in sources and isn’t ideal for video browsing. With no clear winner in the video magazine space (see ShowYou and TNW Startup Rally winner Shelby.tv), Flipboard can still make it its own.

BBC News and TechCrunch both have details on the Flipboard development.

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Tweetbot partners with Storify to allow Twitter conversation sharing

Tweetbot, a Twitter client app for iOS and a previous Journalism.co.uk app of the week, has added Storify integration.

Users of the iPhone and iPad Tweetbot app can now easily Storify a conversation they spot on Twitter.

There is no need to move away from Tweetbot to Storify, a tool to allow the curation of social media content, all is done with a swipe and three taps within the app.

Just swipe right on a tweet that is part of a conversation, tweet the conversation and it is automatically Storified.

If you don’t have a Storify account one will be created.

The 2.3 update was released yesterday. Those with the app can update, new users can download from the App Store for £1.99.

Here is a Storify explaining how it works.

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