Want to Digitize Your Life?- Chapter 9 Mark Briggs

22 03 2011

With information such as emails, status updates and blog posts, its sometimes hard to keep up with the never-ending avalanche of information that is the Internet. We are up to our eyeballs in social media, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because all you have to do it learn how to breathe through all it.  Briggs talks about how to take advantage of digital tools that help you manage your daily onslaught of digital information.


  • Organize your email. This is the mecca where most of your information collides. Create separate folders and install filters to tidy up your inbox.
  • Find a program that fits all your digital needs, for example, the system that Briggs recommends is Backpack, that lets you organize your to-do lists, meeting and creates a group calendar.

*This website lists some of the best freelance tools that someone with a chaotic digital life can use, items such as Conceptshare, that is great for group collaborations and lets you plan out ideas if your doing a creative, visual project.

  • A concept Briggs describes is data-driven journalism: Countless stories involve spreadsheets, charts, and database information that can be overwhelming for readers and the reporters. Most newspapers have launched event calendar databases on their Websites, where visitors can access recent information anytime they want.
  • Another great point Briggs made was interactive maps. It engages the reader and lets them guide through the data at their own pace, while also offering additional information without looking too overwhelming to the eyes. Creating icons on the map that you can click on and see extra video, pictures or information. Like when Steve Buttry came into class today, he showed us an article The Des-Moines Register story on the Tornado that his Parkersburg Iowa in 2008. The map shows the houses that were affected, all laid out on a street map and you can click on the icons to see further video and the story behind the building.

*Sorting data is the best way to wrap your head around all this digital information. Don’t drive yourself cross-eyed trying to sort out emails and such on your own, lean on those sorting database systems that are know better. Data-driven journalism can launch your reporting onto the next level and give you a more legitimate feel.

Video Stories- Chapter 8 Mark Briggs

22 03 2011

The video age is upon us. More and more people are editing their way into the world of video, a world where publishing and creating a video is becoming incredibly easier. An impact of a video can alter a story from having the reader just reading to having them feel like they were part of the story. Any kind of journalist can participate and produce their own videos, and the video craze has been caught on so fast that news stations and papers are now creating a new job position: a video journalist.

Briggs’ tips:

  • Plan different approaches for different projects: analyze the story and think about what’s the best way to represent it, and if you’re a beginner and need a starting point, there are two types of videos–> Documentary style stories or breaking news with highlight clips videos.
  • Try storyboarding you video out: It lets you visualize and plan out your video, so you can figure out the style of the video and know footage you need to go out and shoot.
  • Mix your shots: Not all shots in a video are the same, well at least not the good videos anyway. Make sure you try to use different angles and shot concepts, like in an interview, shoot over the interviewers shoulder, but if there is another interview, try it from different spot.
  • Build a five- shot sequence: 1) Close up on the hands 2) close up on the face 3) wide-shot 4) over-the-shoulder shot 5) another shot from a different angle. This sequence could be of someone doing a task that your story is describing.

*I reccomend starting out with the Flip video cameras, as they are super compact, easy to carry around and even easier to use and hook up to a computer.

  • Another great tip Briggs states is that you should control your story with voice-overs.

* The Final Cut Pro editing program from Apple was the one I used throughout high school, and it was especially useful in my broadcast journalism class in my senior year. Super easy to use and it offers a ton of different editing and video techniques, a definite recommendation.

This video called Best Video Editing Blogs shows you what the best technology and what sites to get advice from if your a newbie videographer and also what to use if your a pro and want to step up your video skills.

We Are All Slaves to the Internet Now- Chapter 1 Mark Briggs

17 02 2011

This first chapter of Briggs’s book “Journalism Next” is like a web 101 for dummies. I thought I was insanely familiar with the web as I have been one of the people that “have been online since grade school,” but when I read this first chapter, I learned new aspects of the web that I’ve never even heard of before. There have definitely been a few life lessons and common Internet courtesies that I learned in this chapter:

  • This first one has to do with bytes. A byte is a unit of measure for digital information, and with that comes prefixes such as kilobyte (1,024 bytes), megabyte (1,048,576  bytes) and giga bytes (a number too long that if I typed it your mind would automatically skip anyway because it doesn’t want to bother processing how big it really is).

*Briggs notes never send an email with an attachment bigger than 1 M (megabyte), especially to a company email as your email will clog up their server and your server. This would result in a sluggish internet and you may end up having some very annoyed business people angry at you for slowing their internet browsing time.

  • Another useful bit of information that Briggs lays down for us is RSS. What in the world is an RSS? And for someone who thought they knew their Internet pretty well (but obviously just googling for pictures of James Franco is not considered an experienced web master), I was very confused when I saw this word. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it allows you to subscribe to an information feed that gets delivered to an RSS feeder or web browser. An example of an RSS feed is to look to the far right side of this web page–>

*RSS is one of the most effective ways to consume mass amounts of information in a clear and organized way. Briggs’s even says that “acquriing a daily RSS habit is the best way to increase your knowledge of any subject” (14). Who doesn’t want to increase their smartness by signing up for such a simple web device?

  • Subscribe wisely. Don’t be that over-achieving journalist who subscribes for absolutely everything he/she sees on the web. If you do, you’ll end up being like this. No, that’s just not normal so follow what Briggs says and pick:
  1. Sections on news websites that are targeted to your interest or beat
  2. Blogs that discuss a certain topic or interest
  3. Blogs by companies/people you cover
  4. Web searches such as Google news alerts on terms, companies and names of people
  5. Content from your own web site ( the stuff that is worth tracking, like your most popular stories. Not the stories that you think are exceptionally funny about your cat)
  •  Computer coding scares me. The terminology itself makes me shrink back and say “absolutely not.” The bad part is that many people think that most of the younger generation has experience with this stuff, but I am here to say that we know squat about it. Your average teenage kid does not know how to modify a web page code because he/she is more worried about passing the driving test and not getting caught sneaking back into their house at 4 AM. This isn’t everyone though, much respect to the young people who actually understand this computer language.

    This makes me confused.

    *Learning code opens up opportunities for your web site, seeing as you can create a new idea yourself and don’t have to wait for the “web person” to do it. HTML is a collection of tags that tell a Web browser how to display information on a Web page. HTML tags usually come in paris, with an opening and a closing. For example, the HTML tag to bold face is format: <b>word you want to bold</b>. It becomes increasingly simple the more you do it and the more you become familiar with it. Almost like learning a new language, only your turning into a computer geek, not a bilingual hot shot.

    • CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, “makes web sites look cool” (33) and is basically a collection of rules. CSS enables you to modify, troubleshoot (to figure out how to solve a problem) and edit web pages and designs.

    *The key to CSS is being able to set a style for a collection of elements to your website/blog.