Welcome to Journalism Tools – Fall 2013

From day to day, week to week, semester to semester, the business of journalism continues to evolve at an accelerated pace.  So if you’re a journalism student, the challenges can seem overwhelming.

This semester in Journalism Tools, we’ll face those challenges head on.  We’ll do that while also utilizing sound journalistic principles with an eye toward new and innovative ways to inform the public.

I’m very much looking forward to working with each of you and I can’t wait to get started.


Posted in Class Notes

Multimedia journalism tools in action during Boston Marathon attack

Screen Shot Boston GlobeAs we discussed in class, the tragic bombing in Boston yesterday showcased how the media use the tools we’ve talked about all semester to cover such a wide-ranging news story.

In an instant, the Boston Marathon changed from an average sports story to a hard news story, and as some journalists rushed to the scene from their newsrooms, many journalists were already part of the story because they had been running the marathon themselves.

We saw how media outlets used live blogging, live video streaming, Twitter, Storify, photo slideshows, maps and infographics to keep the public informed.  Today’s coverage consisted of news articles of course, but also a variety of first person accounts and opinion posts which help give the public perspective.

The ability for you as young journalists to understand and use these skills when needed is essential to moving the profession and your own careers forward.  I appreciated our lively class discussion today and here are links to some of the websites we discussed:

Most media proceed with caution on Boston tragedy

This time social media users showed some restraint

Front pages & stories behind the stories highlight tragedy in Boston

Covering what comes next in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon explosions

Boston Marathon with never be the same

A perfect marathon day, then the unimaginable

Living through terror in Pakistan and Boston

My Day at the Boston Marathon

Why terrorist bombings have been rare in U.S. in past decade

Tight security urged for London Marathon

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Alternatives as Google Reader Goes Belly Up

reader screenshotNo sooner did we talk in class about the benefits and uses Google Reader has for journalists than Google has announced that it’s discontinuing the service as of July 1, 2013.

Google said it’s in part because “usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products.”

That’s all well and good, but devoted Google Reader users are in an uproar.  There are Twitter protests, petitions and all kinds of threats to boycott other Google products.  But honestly, though I liked Google Reader, it’s demise shouldn’t be too surprising since its old fashioned interface was beginning to pale next to glitzy new RSS services.

So here are a few Google Reader replacements to try out:





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Photo Tips


Hofstra Debate Souvenirs
Image: Christal Roberts

Some tips for taking better photos:

  • Make sure you have good lighting.
  • Zero in on your subject.
  • Get as close to the action as you can.
  • Take more photos than you think you’ll need.

If you use a Mac, here’s a video on how to import, crop, resize and export photos with iPhoto for publishing online:  iPhoto tutorial.  You’ll need to zoom out on your browser to see the entire screenshot in the video. The photos above are the result.

Debate Excitement at Hofstra Image:  Christal Roberts

Debate Excitement at Hofstra
Image: Christal Roberts

If you’re using Windows and Windows Live Photo Gallery, here’s another video: Windows Live Photo Gallery Tutorial.  The photos to the left are the result.

If you want to be more ambitious, you can download Picasa or Gimp for free.  Remember, taking strong photographs helps to enhance your storytelling and your posts.

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Organizational Apps for Journalists

Journalists don’t only have to be good writers, but also good readers.  Daily media consumption is essential and organizational apps can help.

Here are some popular ones:

Bookmarking and Feed Readers

Google Reader


Data Visualization

Google Fusion Tables

Note Taking


Social Media


Posted in Class Notes

Verifying Sources on Social Media

As we talked about in class, if you’re monitoring social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for news tips and sources, it’s important you know how to verify those sources quickly and efficiently.

This article by Craig Silverman on Poynter.org has great tips and links to other excellent articles on the topic.

Check it out!

Posted in Class Notes

Keys to better writing

Are you using too many words to say the same old thing using a bunch of fewer words than you think?

Besides that sentence, here are other examples of weak, wordy sentences and their stronger cousins:

Weaker:  At this point in time, it would be good if more people who live here chose to slow down and stop speeding all the time.

Stronger:  More people need to slow down and stop speeding.

Weaker:  During Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show, more than a few people decided it was time to dance, sing and rock along with the singing star.

Stronger:  Fans danced, sang and had a rockin’ good time during Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show.

Weak Words to Avoid

  • really
  • very
  • never
  • a lot
  • just
  • feel
  • seem
  • think
  • often
  • almost


  • Feel:  I feel the government should end mail delivery on Saturdays.
  • A lot: A lot of people should stop speeding.
  • Just:  He’s just worried about how he looks.


  • The government should end mail delivery on Saturdays.
  • People should stop speeding.
  • He’s worried about how he looks.

So remember to proofread for wordy sentences and weak words, then edit, edit, edit!

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