I picked up some tips and tools at the Journalism Interactive conference last week, and lots of them have to do with finding sources and stories, and storytelling.
Don’t skip this post; you will be sorry when all of a sudden the person sitting next to you in the newsroom exclaims, “Wow, COOL.” That’s what I did when I looked at:
- Jeff South’s Online Research Skills for Journalists page. He’s really pulled together a bunch of good stuff here (at the bottom, it gets sort of Virginia specific, so that may not be useful to you unless you end up working in Virginia).
- Linked In’s “How Journalists Use Linked In” is also swell. Not terribly new, but worth spending time with for sure.
- Along those same lines, are you using Facebook’s resource for journalists? Check it out.
- Two great smartphone apps for doing quick, shareable bites of audio or video: Audioboo and Qik. I downloaded them. Your turn. (Extra credit if you do one over the weekend and let me see it.)
- Have you heard about Sonar? Okay, this one is a little creepy but it has massive potential for figuring out who might be nearby in a news situation. But lots more people need to get on board before it can be really useful.
- ABBYY TextGrabber and Translator. Oh, this one is reaaaaaaallllly cool. It’s an app for your smart phone that allows you to take a picture of a piece of text, excerpt what you need, share it or send it and (wait, you’re not going to believe this) actually translate it in 40 languages. Did I mention it’s only $2? (Watch the video and you will have flashbacks to being in some faraway land, looking at a menu in a language you don’t speak and accidentally ordering goat intestines for dinner. No, that never happened to me. I swear.)
- Hold onto your hat: Meet the future, as in Recorded Future, a magical thingy that claims to have the ability to organize and analyze all that is known about the future. These folks claim to have an 80 percent accuracy rate in their predictions.
- I like this a lot: Andrew Lih’s five-shot method for visual storytelling. Have you ever used it? He breaks it down beautifully in the slideshow.
- By now, I am sure many of you have heard about Storify, a way to tell stories using social media. It seems to be gaining popularity. I think there are obvious ways we could be using it in our newsroom, but I would rather hear your ideas.
- Something that’s been vexing me: how to find someone you know is on Twitter but whose handle you don’t know. Here’s how to do it. Thank you, Barbara Fought.
Here are a few quotes that stuck with me from the conference: Raju Narisetti, managing editor of the Washington Post, said: “People need to look at a newsroom as a place that is always going to be in beta mode.” I like that. Let’s follow him on Twitter. (It’s easy, just @rajunarisetti.)
He also said reporters should be “T-shaped” in skills: having great depth in one area, and a broad range of skills.
Good news: WaPo still hires. But they’re looking for people who are willing to work 12- to 14-hour days. He said that. I was there.
One other interesting thing from Mr. Narisetti: He said we should look at analytics after we publish a great story that doesn’t get much attention and figure out why more people didn’t read it. Was it the timing? The presentation?
Evan Ratliff of The Atavist lamented the fact that his on-line publishing house has not managed to publish a single piece by a female writer since it began. That means, long-form enthusiasts who also happen to be female, that if you pitch to The Atavist, it’s going to get a serious look.
I hope you spend some time with this post, bookmarking and downloading apps and messing around with this stuff. I really think we all need to be more creative in the ways we look at storytelling. I hope these ideas help us get there.