Monthly Archives: August 2012

iDiscover iPhone Apps for on-the-road Journos

As this unit constantly reminds us, a journalist today would not function without modern Web 2.0 technology.

This week in the Online Journalism lecture Marissa Calligeros, Breaking News reporter for the Brisbane Times, enlightened us with the tools of the trade that she uses in her day-to-day role as a journalist.

Surprisingly, Marissa’s very first recommendation was for all up-and-coming journalists to learn shorthand, which Online Journalism student Taylor Bunnag talks about in his blog.

However, her main focus for the lecture was on the technology that on-the-road journo’s would not be able to live without. Marissa made it clear that her iPhone is her life when it comes to work. She spoke about the iPhone apps, Evernote, Qik, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Gabberface and how she, as a journalist, uses them.

Journalism.co.uk  listed the ’22 tools and apps every journalism student should know about’ and the top 10 were:

1. Twitter

2. Hootsuit/Tweetdeck

3. WordPress

4. Tumblr

5. Storify

6. SoundCloud

7. Audioboo

8. Scribblelive

9. Ocqur new free live blogging platform

10. Pocket

But I also think that:

11. Evernote

12. Dropbox

13. Google Docs

Are just as important.

Because most people already know how Facebook and Instagram work I thought I would check out the other apps Evernote and Qik, that Marissa spoke about, and give you my lowdown on how they work.

EVERNOTE

This app can be used for writing stories whilst out in the field and can then be instantly shared via email, Twitter and Facebook. Every time you click to add a ‘note’ you can write text and add a picture or record audio to the ‘note’. Every ‘note’ is then time, date and geographically stamped and can be added to either personal or shared ‘notebooks’. If you had a ‘shared notebook’ with your news organisation or your editor they would be able to instantly and directly recieve your stories whilst you are reporting in the field. But you, as the journalist, can also publish your stories straight to either your news organisations social networking site or website.

This is where you can look at your shared or personal notebooks

This is a note. Journalists can write stories in here and then add images and sound and upload straight to social networking sites.

QIK

As Marissa told us Qik is a great app for sharing amateur video material. Here is an example of an amateur video shot by Marissa while on the scene of a fatal car accident http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/horror-crash-may-be-death-in-custody-20090723-dtr9.html.

As she noted, having the highest or best video quality is not always important. The rawness of the video makes viewers feel as though they are actually at the scene. I think raw footage provides viewers with a better understanding of what is happening and what the event feels like as well as what it look likes. Often we become desensitised from our continuous exposure to television news footage.

Qik gives you the option to record LIVE, which is great for events or accidents that you want to stream live footage of directly onto your news website or social media site. After you have recorded footage you are given the option to edit it, make it private, send video mail, post to Facebook, Twitter or upload onto YouTube as well as share the link via email or SMS. Once you have recorded audio-visual material on Qik anyone you are connected with can view the video and you are also given the option to video call or video mail with other users.

As an example I recorded some footage on my iPhone and uploaded it directly to YouTube.

SoundCloud

Graham Cairns also spoke about the use of the SoundCloud app as a useful journalistic tool for recording and sharing audio material.

After making several recordings with SoundCloud it gave me the option to share the recordings on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or Tumblr as you can see in the picture below.

SoundCloud also allows you to follow other users and listen to their recordings. At the moment I am following The Times, CNN, A way with Words, Justin Timberlake and Hamish and Andy. But you can follow anyone with SoundCloud, similar to Twitter.

SoundCloud is a great app for journalists who want to record an interview and upload it straight to their news organisation’s Twitter, Facebook or even to their own SoundCloud page. For those journalists with blogging sites they can also upload an interview straight to their Tumblr blog.

After you have recorded a sound this is the screen that comes up and you are able to share your sound recording instantly onto social networking sites.

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Teach me how to Twitter

In my first blog post I raised the issue about whether or not professional journalists working for news organisations should hold two separate Twitter accounts, one for personal use and one for professional, work-related use. I raised this topic in light of the ordeal concerning The Independent’s journalist Guy Adams, who posted bias and negative comments about another American news organisation (@NBCOlympics, @NBCNews), that were broadcasting the Olympics.

However, in this week’s Online Journalism lecture special guest speaker 612ABC Brisbane radio announcer and fanatical tweeter Spencer Howson, spoke about his motto when it comes to what you post on Twitter.

SpencerHowson said in the lecture “when I am on air at work I tweet as ABC”. But when he is not on air he tweets as himself. His mantra about tweeting is “As On Air” in the sense that whatever he posts he does so as if he was on air.

Most people know the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is a government funded non commercialised organisation and therefore the mentioning of products, organisations or companies is prohibited unless it is integral to a news story. For SpencerHowson this would mean there are limits to what he can and can’t say on Twitter all day every day. Anytime he has a bad experience at a restaurant or has some juicy gossip about a particular organisation he can’t or he won’t talk about it online. His right to free speech is handicapped by the news organisation he works for.

To me, it seems Twitter is primarily being used for corporate and professional use, unlike Facebook, which is being used more for relaxed, personal social engagement with friends. With Twitter it seems as though everyone is treading on eggs shells about what they post. For example, as raised in the lecture, when young up-and-coming journalism students are tweeting as themselves they must be careful they don’t engage too heavily on political commentary, especially in a bias or derogatory way because it could come back to haunt them in future years as a professional journalist.

Here is a snap shot of what my Twitter feed looks like. Take not on the style in which the news sites tweet and how frequently new comments are posted. Source: Kate Leonard-Jones

The Poynter Institute wrote a ‘how to’ guide about ‘what every young journalist should know about Twitter’ and included a few key points we should abide by:

1. Assume everything you tweet is public, even from a private account.

2. Tweet with purpose and be professional.

3. Add value with each tweet and see the bigger picture.

4. Don’t hog the Twitter stream.

5. When possible write posts that are shorter than 140 characters (which is completely the opposite to what we are being taught in our QUT journalism degree – where we are told to use the entire 140 characters if we can).

6. Show where you got your information from. Give credit to the original sources. But remember to include on your Twitter page – “RT are not endorsements”.

7. Be responsive –“Respond to followers in a timely, courteous way,” Poynter said. “Twitter is a conversation, not a broadcast.”

It was made apparent, in the Online Journalism lecture, that Twitter is very much a key utensil in driving people to listen to the radio, engaging them in conversation and encouraging them to interact with programmes. It gives listeners the ability to answer questions instantly and then, as SpencerHowson pointed out, radio announcers are able to read them out on air within minutes.

SpencerHowson: Twitter allows him and the ABC as a whole to engage with listeners and/or non-listeners simply because it provides them with a platform for doing what they want to do: taking pictures and sharing stuff – so there is actually a lot of off-air interactivity.

Twitter therefore, in my view, despite industry professionals being controlled by the constraints of their employers, works well as a site for professionals who want to interact with their audiences and also, other industry professionals. It works as a key driver for getting people to engage with information but also to keep up a constant cycle and recycle of information and interactivity through such tools as retweets, trending hash tags and the ability to link numerous users into one post.

So maybe the solution is to keep Twitter as a professional platform for networking, engaging and sharing and live by SpencerHowson‘s mantra and ask the questions: would you say this live on radio? Could this come back to bite me in the future? Could it harm my future as a professional journalist?

Here is a blog with some tips on how journalists can effectively tweet.

I still think Facebook is more geared for a relaxed social discourse, even though the business agenda is starting to creep in. So you can keep posting comments about the restaurants you have been to or how much you hate the Kelvin Grove Subway restaurant for not putting enough sauce on your meatball sub – and maybe set your FB profile to private…just in case any potential employers come looking.

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