I'm Journalism.co.uk's technology correspondent, recommending tools, apps and tips for journalists.
My background is in broadcast and local news, having worked as a radio producer and newsreader and print journalist.
Did you know that Journalism.co.uk organises one-day, evening and online training courses? We provide new skills to trained journalists. We are aware that we all need to keep learning, so we offer intensive and practical training in areas such as data journalism, social media and online video.
Rather than bringing in trainers who spend little time in a newsroom, we like to invite people to lead courses who are working journalists or who spend a large proportion of their of their time practicing a key skill.
And as our trainers are professionals taking a day out of their normal schedule to share their skills, these courses don’t take place very often. It is the first time that we are offering courses run by Luke Lewis from BuzzFeed and by Glen Mulcahy from Irish broadcaster RTE.
We have a great line up for September. You can click the links to find out more.
Paul Bradshaw is a data journalism expert and is running this course which will get you started in dealing with data. You’ll be able to use data as a source of stories and learn how to present information online.
Paul divides his time between being a visiting professor at City University, London, course leader for the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, and a freelance trainer, speaker and writer. He founded Help Me Investigate, a platform for crowdsourcing investigative journalism, and the Online Journalism Blog.
Luke Lewis, the editor of BuzzFeed UK and former editor of NME.com, is leading a course on growing social media communities. Interested in finding out how to make your posts go viral? Then sign up to the course.
This course has a great venue too. It’s being hosted by VICE UK in Shoreditch.
Glen Mulcahy has been key to introducing iPhone and iPad reporting at Irish broadcaster RTE. In this one-day course he is leading you will learn how to shoot and edit broadcast-quality footage using an iPhone or iPad.
Adam Westbrook is a multimedia producer and has been a key voice in the development of online video. He is running a one-day course in which you can learn how to shoot and edit video. Cameras and an editing suite are provided.
This afternoon I gave a presentation at the World Editors Forum in Bangkok. Here are my slides, notes, and links to further examples and resources.
My name is Sarah Marshall and I am technology editor at Journalism.co.uk, a news site reporting on innovations in the digital news space.
We run a digital journalism conference called news:rewired.
The title of this talk is ‘new wave storytelling’ and I want to talk to you about why we should be ‘thinking outside the box’. So what do I mean by the box?
Take a look at these three news stories – about David Beckham’s retirement. What do you see? Remove the mastheads and they all look the same: picture and text or video and text – each one uses inverted triangle way of telling a news story.
Where magazines use powerful images and text to tell stories, the technological limitations of the digital space – and the CMS – mean that stories are generally told in within a box.
6. Open box
More recently we have seen that box opening up, news sites have been moving beyond the article, they have been breaking article boundaries. We are seeing new innovations in web-native storytelling.
7. Snow Fall video
The most famous example is Snow Fall. Snow Fall is an immersive reading experience.
It is about a deadly avalanche which claimed the lives of three very experienced skiers.
It is a 17,000 word feature told with the help of videos, moving graphics, picture slideshows, the recordings of 911 calls.
John Branch, the sports reporter who wrote it, won a Pulitzer for the words.
It took six months. John worked alone for one month, and then the second month was working alongside a videographer and photojournalist. His bosses at the New York Times saw the potential to make something extra special.
During the six months while Snow Fall was being worked on, there were some pretty major news stories to cover: the Olympics, Hurricane Sandy and the presidential elections.
And the Snow Fall effect? Six days after publication the story had received 2.9 million visits. Up to 22,000 users visited Snow Fall at any given time. A quarter to a third of the hits were from new visitors to nytimes.com
Six months on and it has been tweeted 10,000 times.
And it’s has been shared more than 77,000 times on Facebook.
And the average time on site? 12 minutes. Any of you who check analytics on a daily basis will know that’s a lot.
Now if you have read Snow Fall, you will know that it takes a lot longer than that.
It took me about two or two-and-a-half hours.
So arguably a lot of people just looked at the whizzy graphics and fewer people went on the full journey.
Plenty of digital column inches have been written about Snow Fall. There has been criticism – and there has been praise.
12. Om Malik
Om Malik called it “one of the first truly post-tablet reading experiences”.
And it is interesting he said tablet. That, I would argue, is the best place to read Snow Fall. It makes you want to press play on the videos, on the audio, it makes you want to scroll.
And am I going to spend two-and-a-half hours sitting upright looking at my desktop?
Before we come onto some other examples, let’s think about how well the multimedia presentation works as a storytelling device.
Have you ever been to an art gallery or museum and not known whether to first look at the art or artefact or read the caption? I was conscious that this might be the case with Snow Fall. Should I read to the end of the next paragraph or play the video now? A decision can be disruptive.
But for me Snow Fall did a pretty good job. In the same way a well-curated museum or gallery will lead the viewer by the hand, Snow Fall too achieved this on the whole.
And design is hugely helpful.
14. Aron Pilhofer
Aron Pilhofer from the New York Times mocked up what Snow Fall would look like if it was presented in the usual format. You can see why design matters.
The New York Times may have received much of the attention, but there are now lots of examples of news sites telling stories out side of the box.
Here is how the Guardian launched Guardian Australia last week. This is Firestorm, a multimedia project which provides a seamless and immersive experience.
It’s about a bushfire in Tasmania which destroyed a family’s house. They saved themselves by getting in the water under a jetty.
The Guardian has done a fantastic job here. Remember how I talked about the gallery or museum experience and having to decide where to go next? The Guardian leads the reader through, taking them on the journey.
16. Daft Punk
This example is from music site Pitchfork.
You’ll be starting to see by now that there are some common features of these ‘beyond the article’-type stories. There’s often moving graphics, there is video, attractive typefaces.
And here we have ESPN. Another common trait is that these multimedia presentations are all long-form, thousands of words, probably because of the investment of time in coding, they’ve chosen in-depth investigations or features.
All of the examples we have seen so far are how they appear on a desktop. But I said earlier, perhaps the reader wants to lean back with a tablet device or perhaps read on their a mobile.
20. Bat for Lashes
And while this example, again from Pitchfork, works on the desktop…
21. Bat for Lashes tablet
It is more problematic on a tablet, particularly on 3G where it is jumpy.
22. Bat for Lashes mobile
And if you view this story on a mobile, you are delivered a simple, single column story.
Pitchfork’s audience is young and highly mobile. Therefore a proportion of the audience will not be getting the full experience that Pitchfork has invested in.
But I don’t want to be too critical of those innovating in the newsroom.
23. Washington Post
Elsewhere and the Washington Post recently published a multimedia story called The Prophets of Oak Ridge. It has been designed for desktop, tablet and mobile as the site is fully responsive.
So I know what some of you are thinking. How does this digital stuff – which may take 6 months to build and require designers, developers, photojournalists, videographers, oh and someone to write the tens of thousands of words – pay for itself?
25. Snow Fall
You might have noticed that Snow Fall includes advertising – including advertising a subscription of the New York Times.
Om Malik has argued that it would be better to have Land Rover ads in there or something more topical.
Those of you here who are responsible for the bottom line probably understand why that decision was taken to put ads in.
26. Mark Thompson
But when Mark Thomspon, chief executive of the Times saw Snow Fall he did question the decision.
And of course what the New York Times got was an amazing branding experience.
More than 10,000 people were tweeting, most of them saying how amazing this thing was that the New York Times had created.
So arguably you can keep such a presentation outside the paywall, leave ads out and use it as a branding opportunity to show the news outlet’s potential.
You could of course do it in conjunction with sponsorship. But a ski company or Land Rover? It might jar. After all, Snow Fall was reporting on an accident and three people died.
27. Washington Post
Elsewhere and the Washington Post has opted for a pre-roll ad.
28. Chicago Tribune
And the Chicago Tribune uses multimedia to entice new subscribers. This one is outside the paywall, but readers are promised more of the same if they sign up and pay.
And the Guardian and New York Times are selling Firestorm and Snowfall as ebooks.
30. New York Times
So, I bet some of you are thinking, “it’s all very well the Grey Lady spending six months on Snow Fall, but they are the New York Times and have the staff and the money”.
It will no doubt get easier and quicker to create such stories which break article boundaries.
Indeed the new Newsweek site – NewsBeast – is said to follow this type of design.
31. Scroll Kit
In fact there are more DIY options already available. This is Scroll Kit, it’s like InDesign for the browser.
You can drag images around, videos and create a multimedia experience with no coding skills.
There’s also a tool which launched last month called Soo Meta.
And I want to leave you with a final thought. What have these three things have in common? A Black and Decker Dustbuster, memory foam, and, this may give it a way slightly, it’s freeze dried ice-cream.
They were all spin-offs or by-products of NASA inventions.
So my final thought for you, and it is actually not my own but one suggested to me by Benji Lanyado, a journalist and freelance creator of such visuals and multimedia products.
His view is that if you spend the time, effort and resources one one project and start thinking beyond the article, you’ll be able to re-use some of the code, you’ll be able to create other such stories more easily and quickly – and there will be other spin-offs for your news outlet.
Thank you. I’m sharing a link here. I’ve put together a list of stories – such as Snow Fall, Firestorm and there’s one from The Verge – which you can explore.
The team behind Google Currents has selected Journalism.co.uk as ‘pick of the week’. And you can now listen to our podcasts from within the Currents app.
Our weekly podcasts have been available via the Currents app since last month, when Google officially launched the new audio feature.
If you are not familiar with Currents it is a social magazine app, similar Flipboard and Zite, that lets you read your favourite news sites on your tablet or smartphone.
The app is available for Android, iPad and iPhone. If you do not already follow Journalism.co.uk on Currents, you will see a recommendation to subscribe to us when you open the app. That will show while we are ‘pick of the week’. You can also find a link to Journalism.co.uk on Currents here.
Social news agency Storyful has published an ebook on social newsgathering.
It has been edited by Claire Wardle and includes articles previously posted on the Storyful blog.
The ebook is in PDF format and is free, allowing you to learn things such as how to spot a fake or hoax image, how to verify content from social media, and how and why your should use Twitter’s own version of TweetDeck.
The Storyful blog has become one of our favourite tips sites, with practical advice shared by working journalists on how to get the most out of social newsgathering. Save this PDF to your tablet or phone and your next train journey will be an educational one.
The ex-BBC strategist provides a really good summary of key developments in digital journalism in 2012, and makes a few predictions for this year.
In addition to predicting the rise of mobile (he uses the buzzword of the week ‘phablet’, which has been used to describe the hybrid, larger phones that are approaching tablet size), he makes another point he makes is one of visual storytelling and the importance of images. That leads into him noting the rise of TV-style coverage by online news sites, including WSJ Live, the Huffington Post and the New York Times.
Following WSJ’s launch of WorldStream, a platform where reporters at the title share mobile phone footage to provide a behind-the-scene glimpse of the newsgathering process, Newman forecasts that in 2013 we’ll see “more experimentation with short-form video”, with this area offering “significant opportunities for newspapers and start-ups to disrupt traditional broadcasters”.
Another trend he notes is one of real-time news and he makes predictions around paywalls.
The Washington Post and at least two national UK newspapers will join the metered paywall club in 2013.
*The courses on 18 April are part of news:rewired PLUS, a two-day course which includes one day of our digital journalism conference on 19 April, and a choice of one of the three courses listed above.
news:rewired PLUS tickets are also available at an earlybird discount rate of £280 (+VAT). When all earlybird tickets have been sold, or by Friday 25 January, whichever comes first, news:rewired PLUS tickets will also rise to £310 (+VAT).
You can by buy news:rewired PLUS at this link. If you select a news:rewired PLUS ticket Journalism.co.uk will contact you to confirm which training course you would like to attend on the 18 April.
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.
Business technology news website ZDNet not only has a responsive site which adapts to the size of the screen it is viewed on, but has a responsively designed CMS, which scales to fit the screen size with the aim of making it easy for journalists to file stories from a smartphone or tablet.
The responsive CMS, which was developed internally, was introduced in July, Laura Jenner, product manager for CBS Interactive UK, which publishes ZDNet, said at today’s AOP Digital Publishing Summit.
In the session, which focussed on user experience and responsive (or adaptive) design, Jenner argued the case for responsive design, saying it is is “much better for user interaction” than an ‘m.’ mobile site.
And ease of using the site to download a white paper, for example, is key.
Loyal users are key to building audience as they always have been.
There are also business benefits of adaptive design, Jenner said, explaining that both users and search engines prefer using a responsively-designed site.
“Adaptive design is Google’s recommended option,” Jenner added.
And mobile means “you also have access to readers at times you didn’t previously”, she explained. “In the past you would have to wait until 9am on a Monday until people returned to their desks.”
Responsive design may also reduce the need for native apps and therefore reduce overheads, she added.
Asked how to convince advertisers of the advantages, Jenner said:
We are not forcing users onto another platform, they are already there. And we are providing a much better environment for advertising campaigns.
Asked whether journalists need to adapt articles or headlines to fit mobile reading, Jenner said “we don’t tell [journalists] to write a headline that fits on mobile”, adding that she believes people don’t want a shorter version of the story on mobile but want the full article.
In discussing development costs, she explained that responsive design is probably no cheaper as a one-off cost than developing native apps, but that the option is “far easier to iterate” and develop over time.
BBC News will see a “big launch” in its move to responsive web design next week when readers accessing the site on a mobile will be redirected to the responsive version of the site rather than the desktop version.
Responsive sites automatically scale to fit the screen size they are viewed on and have been adopted by news outlets including Channel 4 News and ITN, plus smaller outlets including student-run site Redbrick.
The BBC News site has been in development for some time with “location and weather modules” recently introduced and video added within the past two weeks, Russell explained.
He illustrated the importance of making the news site a good user experience on a smartphone by explaining that around 10 to 20 per cent of BBC News traffic currently comes from mobile.
He added that BBC News “still wants to be in app stores” so does not see responsive design in replacing native apps entirely.
Asked whether headlines and other content needs to be written with mobile in mind, he explained that BBC News has been doing that for many years, altering headline lengths for Ceefax pages, for example.
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.