Tell a Photo Story, But Maybe Not with an Ipad




If you thinking about your photo story, then Buzzfeed has a tip for you: Don’t do it with your Ipad.  Here are 21 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take a Photo with an Ipad, especially not if you’re rioting.   And if you’re wasting time on the Internet, don’t panic.  The University of Pennsylvania actually has a course for that.   The course description reads, “Students will be required to stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs…..Distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting is mandatory.”  It may not be as unfocussed as it sounds, though, critical texts include Guy Debord, Mary Kelly Erving Goffman, Betty Friedan, Raymond Williams, John Cage, Georges Perec and others.

Readings for next week are:

1) News in Your Pocket; Mobile Journalism at WSJ

2) Tips on Mobile Journalism (Ariel)

3) Ferguson’s Citizen Journalists Revealed the Value of Undeniable Video (Guardian)

4) Could the Surge in Mobile Destroy What’s Best about the Internet?

Assignments are :

1) Write a blogpost on the innovative use of one type of technology on your beat.   (for Nov 3)

2) Tell a story relating to your beat through photo gallery, a series of at least five photos which tell a story.   Make sure there’s a person in at least one of your pictures. There needs to be plot development, rather than a number of photos of the same thing from different angles. (for Nov 5)



Snap it, tweet it, instagram it, pin it.




Pic from Blog 1000

Everyone is doing it. Even dismissed New York Time editor, Jill Abramson, is working on a start-up, this time to cover one story a year.

For Wednesday’s class, we will be discussing visual journalism.   The reading is:

1) Photojournalism in a New Media Economy (Nieman Lab)

2) Is Instagram’s Social Network Dumbing Down Photography? (Poynter)

3) What’s A Picture Worth?  The Digital Disruption of Photojournalism (The Media Briefing)

Assignment (for Nov 5th):  Tell a story relating to your beat through photo gallery, a series of at least five photos which tell a story.   Make sure there’s a person in at least one of your pictures.  There needs to be plot development, rather than a number of photos of the same thing from different angles.

Five Things I Learned This Week

1) Buzzfeed gets 180m unique views a month, compared to the Guardian’s 59m.

2) People like lists in multiples of 5.  Or in 21s.

3) The Huffington Post has 28 fulltime blog editors.

4) The Huffington Post has begun waxing lyrical about… uh… poetry. 

5) Digital disruption means that authors of books now shoot trailers to post on Youtube.  If you’re going to watch one, this is the one to start off with. It stars Gary Shteyngart, with James Franco as his husband.   And Jonathan Franzen as his shrink.




I know we are only mid-way through the term, but it might be time to start thinking about your final assignments.  There are a number of interesting conferences coming up, which could give you ideas, particularly for the sports fans.   There’s a conference on The Values of College Sport   on Nov 14th & 15th, which includes a keynote speak by Macarthur Genius Taylor Branch.    And on the same day over at the Ross Business school, there’s a Social Media conference including speakers from Facebook, Google and Twitter.

For those who can’t think that far ahead, your short-term assignments include reading Mastering The Art of Disruptive Innovation in Journalism by Clay Christiansen.  Be warned, I feel like a quiz coming on, so do make sure you are up to date with your reading.   And the assignment is to write a 300 word blogpost on a data visualization connected to your beat that you find effective, and the reasons why it’s effective. What kinds of visual tools are used to present ideas, and how different is it from traditional journalism? What are the shortcomings?

Data, data everywhere



Pic from Image Dynamics

We’re all suffering from data overload, and next class we will look at various strategies to visualise and organize data.

Please read the following before Monday’s class, and don’t forget to post your audio assignments:

1) The Cholera Map that Changed the World

2) Is there a Wonk Bubble? 

3) Visual Literacy in the Age of Data

I hope you’ll all be working on the mid-term assignments as well.  Here are some tips to follow:

Vox has a new service.  Politico has a new editor.   Buzzfeed has a new publisher.  Propublica just had its Ray-Rice-Video moment (ok, for the financial sector, but still). Vice has left the BBC playing catch-up, and Huffington Post is trying to get the vote out. 

As for data visualization infographics, this is my favourite so far (courtesy of Bisnode).



Pulitzer center visit



The Pulitzer Center is the “spawn of digital disruption” according to Senior Editor Tom Hundley, designed to boost foreign coverage in a period when “bottom fell out of the newspaper industry quicker than anyone expected.”   When the center started nine years ago, many mid-to-upper tier papers had foreign bureaux, like the Washington Post which had twenty-five and the Chicago Tribune, which had a dozen.  But nowadays, foreign news has been eviscerated, with online the New York Times having a similar complement of foreign news bureaux.  By contrast, the Washington Post now has around ten and the Chicago Tribune has none.  So the Pulitzer Center has “moved upmarket”, doing projects with the New York Times, PBS Newshour and the New Yorker, instead of with the regional dailies, as they had originally intended. Last year the Center did 70-80 projects, including 20 student fellowships.




The Center’s Multimedia editor Meghan Dhaliwal spoke to the class about her experience winning a student grant in Summer 2012, and how she had navigated Haiti’s Cite Soleil in order to shoot a series about cholera in Haiti.   She described what it was like to get to Haiti and discover that the story that she had been planning looked different on the ground, and how she worked with a local fixer to ensure security.   She worked with student fellow Jason Hayes, who wrote this piece on toilets, while her coverage ended up focussing on threats to health from the water supply.






I hope your heads aren’t spinning too much after that workshop session.  That was a lot of material to take in, but hopefully the actual recording is simpler than that.   Basically the key is to make sure the mike is in roughly the right place and the machine is recording.  Here’s a cheatsheet for the recorder itself, which boils it down to a few key facts.  You should have one of these in the equipment bag.

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If you have problems, feel free to email for tips on recording or Brendan on for editing queries or myself for general meltdowns.  I’ll post an audacity cheatsheet in due course.   You have until October 20th to post your audio assignments.

Before Wednesday, please look at Afghanistan: Packing up War on the Pulitzer site.  The stories are here and there’s even an article on the visit to our classroom here.   Make sure you’ve thought up some good questions for Meghan Dhaliwal and Tom Hundley, on digital disruption, on multimedia journalism, on being embedded with the army or on any other topic that’s relevant.  Here’s the info about the student reporting fellowship.  It’s a great opportunity, so do take this chance to ask questions about it.

Weekend reading 3.10



It’s been an intense week in Hong Kong, where the streets have been filled with protestors bearing umbrellas.   They’ve been using Google documents to organize their supplies and Firechat to get in touch with each other.   Twitter has been flooded with information about the protests, about 700 tweets a minute according to one report.   And one person who is there and writing about it is the father of digital disruption, Clay Shirky.  Read his thoughts here. 

For your weekend reading, do look at this piece in Nieman Lab about This American Life’s new Serial, and the future of podcasting.

On Monday, our class will be in the ISS Mac lab, where we had our wordpress sessions.   Please read these two pieces before then:

Why Audio Never Goes Viral: Digg

And What Can Make Audio Go Viral: Nieman

You’ll be working on an audio project next week, so start thinking of some ideas related to your beat and technology or digital disruption.