BJ Koubaroulis- Guest Speaker

7 04 2011

BJ Koubaroulis, a sports journalist for the DC and Northern Virginia, came to Kleins 361 class to emphasize the importance of videos. The new video era has ushered in a whole new wave of journalists, those who can write, take picture and most importantly edit video. Koubaroulis talked about how videos have taken his stories to a whole new level. Here’s an overview of Koubaroulis’ main points:

  • Video has been a life changing experience. Individuals can now harness the power of videos, you don’t need a camera crew; one guy with a video camera can make a difference. This tool allowed Koubaroulis to become a better writer, an example is his video accompanying his story on a high school football star.
  • Video illustrates that you could tell two stories within one story. Video allows more space for your story.
  • Audio is 70% of video. *Tip: Use a wireless microphone that only picks up local sound, which only picks up sound within five feet, and eliminates background noise.
  • If you take anything away from this class: Invest in yourself. Do a lot of different things: web, radio, TV, online, print. “I would do anything that people would let me do, and it’s all come back to help me very nicely.”
  • Media companies want to hire people that can do the jobs of five people. Learn HTML, learn social media, learn how to use the web. You are an accumulation of all these jobs. Do all of it, and you’ll be able to do the one thing you want to do.

  • A cool website that Koubaroulis admires: The Mason Tour
  • Four things you need to succeed: camera, computer, microphone, and to be ready to work hard.

*An accumulation of Koubaroulis’ work here, and his blog.

Kevin Anderson- Guest Speaker

7 04 2011

Kevin Anderson, now working for Al Jazeera Arabic in Doha, Qatar, has over a decade of journalism experience under his belt. Along with jobs at The Guardian and BBC News, Anderson has been a digital journalist since 1996 and rode the .com boom to becoming the BBC’s first online journalist outside of the UK.

Anderson’s main points:

  • What tools do journalists need to know how to use?
  1. Internships
  2. Setting up blogs (knowing how to write, take pictures, edit video)
  • The role of social media in journalism today?

The major role is “networked journalism”

  1. Not enough to build a website, make sure content is available and take it to places were people are congregating online, like Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Using networks to find sources and add voices to our journalism
  • How do we differentiate ourselves as journalist?

If we amplify everyvoice it just becomes noise(when it comes to people trying to be their own reporters) it’s still important to make editorial choices. We just have a richer wider choice of quotes.

Kevin and his wife, Suw Charman-Anderson, have a blog called the Corante. Check out their postings.

Mark Potts-Guest Speaker

29 03 2011

Mark Potts, who spent 15 years in the print business as a reporter and editor, is an entrepreneur who is a strategic/business/product consultant to leading business and Internet companies. In class today, he explained how many journalists get locked into telling a story a certain way, and don’t venture further and expand their storytelling ways. Potts showed the class numerous sites were they’ve taken storytelling to new levels with interactive maps and the integration of social media.

Here are some sites and stories that Potts showed us that I thought were exceptional examples of telling a story in the digital age:

  • Wikipedia: Although frowned on by many English Professors, it is an amazing collection of stories that is great way to get an overview or a story.
  • The Washington Post featured a story, in both it’s print and online version, is about a mother’s struggle with her child’s medical problems. The story is told through her Facebook posts and status updates, and The Washington Post annotated and edited her posts to tell a story.
  • Storify: A site that lets you create stories using social media, such a Twitter pics, Facebook updates etc. What Mark Potts described as “the flavor of the month.”

  • The term “crowd-sourcing:” saying to the audience “hey what do you know, what can you tell us?” Eg. The site WNYC posted a story after the snow storms in New York which featured an interactive map. The map shows the areas that were cleaned and those that weren’t cleaned, reaching out to people in those districts/people on the ground, that could tell their story and what is happening with the snow there.
  • Another term is “hyperlocal:” An example of trying to get news back into the neighborhoods and the communities. There are many websites that are filled with passionate bloggers who want to mimic what local newspapers used to do. Generally, these bloggers are called passionate bloggers because they don’t do it for money, but for the respect in their community and their desire to show the community’s stories. Eg:,
  • Computational jouranlism:” Another term explained by Potts that means using the power of the web and the power of the Internet to tell stories. Eg of data visualization:

*Tubeify: Took data from Billboard 100 and compiled it into a interactive site that lets you see which songs were the most popular in what years.

*The New York Times took Netflix rentals and made an interactive map that you can click on area and see what Netflix rentals are most popular.

Steve Buttry-Guest Speaker

22 03 2011

Steve Buttry has spent nearly 40 years in the newspaper business and, having successfully crossed over to digital journalism, is now the the Director for Community Engagement at TBD,  a site that focuses on DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia news. Throughout his lecture today, he engaged the class with several sites that took a news story to another level of online journalism. There were interactive maps, additional video/photo footage, and links that let the reader navigate the story  for themselves.

Helpful tips from Buttry:

  • When you get a story, imagine the best way you could report. Change the reporting process and think of the possible ways the reader can get engaged with the story. As a writer of traditional journalism, we have control of what the viewer reads and in what order. With digital journalism, the reader navigates the story for themselves.
  • Cut and paste your lead from a story and tweet it out for everyone to see, gauge the reaction and if your lead won’t fit into a tweet, then it’s too long.
  • Best rule of journalism: never say no for somebody else. Always interview, gather information because there are some people, even though they have tragic stories, that want to share what’s happened with them to the world.

*A great example of letting your a reader navigate themselves through a story was is The New York Times’ online story about the Japanese nuclear crisis. They have interactive photos that combines before and after shots of certain landscapes in Japan, and the reader can click on an arrow that reveals the after-tsunami photos right over the before shot. You can automatically spot the devastation with this tool, which makes the story that much more shocking.

*Another example of interactive journalism is The Des-Moines Register’s story on the Parkersburg, Iowa tornado that hit May 25 back in 2008. The site has an interactive map of the town that shows all the buildings that were effected. Not only do they map out the damaged buildings and areas, but when you click on them, additional videos,information and pictures pop up about the building. The reader can literally jump from place to place whenever they want, and not have to read through a bunch of paragraphs to get the information they seek.

*This last article, by The Star Tribune about the aftermath of the 35W bridge collapse in central Minneapolis, is perhaps the best interactive story in my opinion that Buttry showed us. The audio especially in the opening video, a mashup of 911 calls and emergency dispatch calls, was the best and most moving part of the story. On the left, you get a scrolling image of the entire bridge, in all its collapsed and crumpled state, that is littered with cars. Each car has a tag that you can click on and on the right hand side, you get information and the story about the individuals in that car. This is the most clever way I can think of to give this story the catastrophic chaos it deserves. It lets the reader decide who he/she wants to feel for and wants to read more about.

This visit from Steve Buttry showed me that journalism is evolving as fast as you can click the button on your mouse. With each new interactive story, reporters find ways to suck the audience into the news. These gave me great ideas for our final project, and I think our group is definitely doing something with an interactive map, where you click on the icon and it gives you the story behind a person or an event.

You can find more of Buttry’s insights on his blog.

Jim Iovino NBC Washington-Guest Speaker

10 03 2011

Today in class, Jim Iovino from NBCWashington online spoke with our Comm 361 class about everything online and the inner-workings of After working in print for sometime, Iovino took the online route and became a devout online journalist (like many of us students, he realized that print is a somewhat dying concept and that the future is online). Although I don’t subscribe to any newspapers, I do buy the monthly issues of my favorite magazines and I know my mom still subscribes to TIME and Newsweek, so I think I can say that print isn’t dead. Yet. I think for at least a couple more years, there will be print available.

While we discussed the transfer to online journalism from a more traditional print style, I thought this clip they showed from “Minority Report,” really shows what the future of technology and news could look like. I would definitely stand in line to get a digital newspaper, although it does remind me of what the iPad looks like today, just not as much constant video. Speaking of Apple, the iPad 2 comes out TOMORROW! Be prepared for long Apple lines and be advised tomorrow will not be the greatest day to buy an Apple product as the store will be jam packed.

The new iPad 2 (Apple geeks rejoice).

As for NBC Washington online, the site has a lot of interesting features that have been added:

  • The Feast : A totally seperate website that is connected to NBC Washington, with all new writers that tell you the happenings and local attractions around the DC area. Stories are divided into three categories: Eat, Shop and Play. This was probably my favorite site that Iovino showed us, at it had great places to eat and the best deals on shopping in DC.
  • Another favorite feature on NBC Washington was The 20, where it shows the 20 most interesting people in your community at the moment and their stories/blogs that they are talking about.

  • Also on the site, Pat Collins, the News4 reporter, has attempted and succeeded in tapping into the social media frenzy that seems to be dominating the web. He has set up a chat room device, called A Q&A with Pat Collins, were people can directly comment and ask Pat a question, and he will answer it back to you via webcam. You can scroll through the chat box and click on the question and answer you want to see. *This is a great idea for people that want to interact and engage directly with your audience, as people love videos more than anything.

*This is a funny gallery I found on NBC’s The Scene section, titled “Awkward Political Moments.”

NAMI Northern VA: Project Update

8 03 2011

So we have been given the task by NAMI Northern VA to come up with a way to display the history and current information of NAMI. Right now here’s what we know so far:

  • NAMI or the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Northern Virginia portion) started in the 1970’s when they were their own organization under a different name. They soon merged with NAMI National then split off into their own Northern VA section.
  • Their goal is to raise awareness of mental illnesses and provide services that help people living with mental illness.

Our game plan so far:

 1. An interactive timeline (like the jazz one Professor Klein showed us in class) that can relay video, information, pictures and additional information all in chronological order on one site. That way, all the information is organized and you can clearly see how NAMI developed.*My job so far: RESEARCH. I’m supposed to go to Mason’s library and see if I can find any mention of NAMI Northern Virginia. Also once we get all the information and interviews done, I’m going to try and help Ryan with the interactive timeline and for that we’re going to try and use Another possible website we might use is–> where they turn chunks of data into interactive maps and graphs.

*Our storyboard for the project so far here

2. An interactive map, that shows NAMI volunteers/people who use NAMI point of location and their stories. This could be where the videos and interviews come in. They could each have information about themselves, how they got involved with NAMI and their experiences.

3. A Facebook account? NAMI already has a Facebook account, but we’re working on creating one for just our COMM 361 project to get the word out and ask if people know any history of NAMI.

Joel Achenbach Article Response

6 02 2011

Joel Achenbach’s article from The Washington Post, “I Really Need You to Read This Article, Okay?” describes how our society is becoming less interested in print news and more interested in the instantaneous news the web brings.

No longer does a journalist have to wait for a response to his article, because he can check his page views and comments instantly online. It used to just take a journalists “gut instinct” to determine whether or not a story is newsworthy, now it is determined by how much online circulation it gets. Achenbach makes a great example when he says “What if it turns out that most readers are sick of Iraq, or don’t want any foreign news at all? Do you just toss it out? That’s not journalism, it’s marketing.”

I have to admit, I would probably click on a story that said “Britney’s Dog Menaced by Sharks,” because who wouldn’t want to see the crazy reaction that Britney probably had during that debacle? While we do love our tabloids, what we do or don’t click on in the instant that we scan our homepage news shouldn’t determine what is considered newsworthy. Journalists should never be “chasing readers,” they should be reporting on the stories around them.

A journalists responsibilities are not changing in my opinion, it will always be up to them to decide on what stories the world should know about. The platform on which they tell those stories are what is changing constantly. We now can add more pictures, hyperlinks, videos and additional websites to better tell a story.

As for the age of the newspaper slowly fading away, this may be true, but literacy will never disappear entirely. It will just convert to a new form.

Media Pyramid

1 02 2011

My media pyramid- This shows what media outlets I use the most, and which ones I use the least. I usually log onto Facebook, check CNN or flip through TIME magazine to get the latest news.