Monday, January 30, 2012

5 digital tools for newsrooms and how they help journalism

Here's my list for the top five digital tools and how they can help journalism

1. Storify.
The most overdone way this tool has been used is to pile up tweets and facebook posts. I believe this is a gross underuse of the tool.

For example, you can use it for curation of stories, images, videos and tips when reporters can’t be at the scene (say, if the National Guard closes access to the town because the town was washed away by floods);
But, yes, you can use it to gather community reaction (best practices is to always give context/link to story);

 And for narratives;

And for ridiculously comprehensive context/timelines;

And for fun;

Or even just to pile up resources.

More examples at

2. CoveritLive
Live blogging made easy. Highly customizable, it also archives the information posted there. Examples:

As an emergency resource for information;

For encapsulating live-blogging/tweeting of trials;

And public meetings of great interest;

And even budget votes;

For twitter chats;

For curation of national stories.

3. Google Maps
Easiest use is to show where crime scenes are;

Can also be used for crowdsourced efforts, like holiday lights;
Don’t neglect road closings;

4. Ustream (or Livestream)
For political debates (note combo with Coveritlive and Slideshare with crowdsourced questions);
For press conferences (you can use coveritlive for this too, depends on the story, who’s doing it and what you have available);
For cultural events;

Both can be added to Facebook as a tab as well.

5. ManyEyes
For crime statistics; (and here)

For school reports
For investigations

BONUS TOOL: Scribd. Good for any primary document. Upload, embed. Done.  Also good for front pages.
And mugs.

That was some of 2011, so here are (some) of my goals for the first half of this year.

· Continued recruitment of local blogger network and subsequent regular informal and informational meet-ups at an outside location.

· Expansion of livestreaming sessions and political debates with live public questions and with physical public participation at an outside location (our facilities do not currently allow us to host an audience to our sessions). These sessions are also scheduled to include a post debate discussion with the community, as to further the Citizens Agenda project as well. THIS WILL BE DONE BY STAFF, GOING SOLO.

· Staff boxes, contact info at the bottom of stories. Expansion and measuring of newly created Facebook pages.

· Fact Check blog integration and visibility

· Continued use of the (small) conference room for events, and the implementation of livestreamed newsroom discussions and training sessions.

· Soft opening of a small-scale Community Media Lab in the current conference room on selected dates, to feature public availability of computers and wifi, with public tutorials to accommodate access to microfilm and archives elsewhere in the building (and to compensate for the size of the room).

· The development of classes geared toward better communication between community, government and police agencies and the Freeman. (“How to get It published in the Daily Freeman,” “Communicating vital information during disasters,” etc).

· Establishment of an occasional ‘mobile bureau,’ where once a month, a reporter sets up ‘camp’ at different locations to gather story ideas, get community tips and feedback and develop sources.

· Resume newsroom tours.

· Pulitzer.

Heck, why not.

UPDATE: It should be noted that fellow Idealabber Tom Caprood at the Troy Record has an earlier post for his top five and upcoming goals. Check it out!