Live Blogging

Live blogging is an interesting way to involve your audience. It is especially helpful during larger events that a large audience may be interested in. There are a number of sites that help host live blogging. The one I have enjoyed using is Storify.

I have mentioned Storify in a previous post. But after using it while live blogging Catalyst ’11, here are a few things I would like to reiterate as to why Storify will fulfill all your blogging needs:

As aspiring media professionals, one of our main objectives is to hone in on our communication skills. Technology has definitely served us well when it comes to effectively multiple demographics in minimal time.

So what’s one of the newest social platforms sweeping the internet by storm? The answer is storify!

Storify is a way to tell stories using social media such as Tweets, photos and videos. You search multiple social networks from one place, and then drag individual elements into your story. You can re-order the elements and also add text to give context to your readers.

Here are also five tips to help get you started on your own live blogging experience:

  1. Research in advance what the agenda for an event may be. It will help you be better prepared for engagement during certain parts of event so you won’t miss crucial information you might want to blog about.
  2. Make sure you have internet. One problem I encountered with my live blog is that I was unable to even receive 3g where I was at making it difficult to really incorporate the “live” aspect of my live blog because  I would have to wait til the end of the day to post about the conference.
  3. Make sure to balance out quotes and visual aids. Make your live blog fun for your reader. Include lots of pictures and videos
  4. Recap even after the event is over, researching what others may have gathered overall from the event.
  5. Relax and enjoy the live blogging experience. Live blogging allows for a great space to get creative. So seize the opportunity and use sites such as Storify to assist you.

View the story “Catalyst 2011” on Storify

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Citizen Journalism

So what exactly is citizen journalism? For myself, I was unaware of this vague term that has apparently spread like wild fire in social media. Apparently citizen journalism is playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information.

So is citizen journalism beneficial or a nuance in today’s media? Here are what the experts had to say:

The Positive

“The newspapers that survive will be the ones that make the most of the benefits of the online world. Citizen journalism can in many cases provide free content and the internet provides the ability to reach a much larger audience. The old media that combine their resources with the advantages of new media will thrive. The old media that try to cling to their old methods of doing things will die.” — Derek Clark, who runs GeekPolitics.com.

“Probably some events get reported by citizen journalists that would not be reported without them. Reporters can’t be everywhere and cannot know about all events taking place in their communities. In that sense, citizen journalism may help to broaden the
kind of events that are reported.” — Prof. David Weaver.

“With smaller staffs chasing fewer stories, citizen journalists could help local papers keep a broader mix of stories and community reporting in front of readers. Citizen journalism can be a powerful tool for reporting hyperlocal news (news that is specific to one community) because people care about their community and have a hunger for finding out what is going on.” — Thom Clark, president of the Community Media Workshop in Chicago.

“Are you a local newspaper? 90 percent-plus of your income from print adverts targeted at people in the area? Then you should be looking for the local citizen journalists who sit
next to their police scanner and report on the drug busts and local fires. Assume you will have to invest in improving their writing skills, be relaxed about them publishing elsewhere, and pay them enough money to make it worth their while to give you first option on material.” — Brian McNeil, pioneering Wikinews journalist.

“Citizen journalism can help local newspapers survive by making them a more interactive product. Readers who post comments, articles and photos on their local newspaper’s web site might feel a stronger connection to the paper and be more likely to read the print version and the online version of the paper.” — Larry Atkins, adjunct professor of journalism in Arcadia University’s English, Communications and Theatre Department.

The Negative

“I don’t think citizen journalism should dominate or even play a minor role in the operation of mainstream newspapers. I’m sure there is a place for it … a valuable place … in alternative media. I think it’s been the mainstream newspaper industry’s embrace of new editorial formulas and approaches that has been leading to its demise (although) my opinion runs contrary to what most inside and outside the industry believe.” —Adam Stone, publisher of Examiner community newspapers in Putnam and Westchester counties.

“[Citizen communicators] are best at reporting breaking events, and not likely to be very helpful for in-depth, analytical or investigative reporting.” — Prof. Weaver

“Newspapers are brands that bestow credibility, authority, gravitas on their content. I don’t think ‘citizen journalism’ (is there agreement on what this term even means?) can sustain the type of reporting that produces Pulitzer prize winning pieces.” — Richard Roher, president of Roher Public Relations.

“Local newspapers should not rely on citizen journalists to help them survive. Most citizen journalists are not paid anything for their work and lack the motivation to help a for-profit entity continue to make a profit. Citizens cannot and should not be viewed as free labor.” — Dr. Kristen Johnson, assistant professor, Department of Communications, Elizabethtown College, Pa., who has authored several papers on citizen journalism.

Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy

Below is the video where Eli Praiser does just that:

“Filter bubbles” are both convenient and terrifying.

Firstly, they allow for a number of things:

  1. Allow those searching the web to have a faster and more efficient research experience.
  2. Provides readers with information that is relevant to them without persistently searching and searching, page after page for what they are placing in a search engine.
  3. It’s simply amazing that the internet has advanced enough to customize searches for the millions of people who use it.
However, it is also a scary thing to think that I could type in a top news story as someone in my class types up the same thing and we both get completely different results. We are both disadvantaged by the potential information that the other was neglected the privilege of viewing.
Filtered Searches
  1. Restricts the content a viewer engages with
  2. We don’t get exposed to information that could broaden our world views
  3. We are held captive to only the information that the internet has deemed relevant to our interests
I suppose all three of these points are interconnected. Overall, I believe the most important lesson to take away from this video is that we must not mindlessly rely on the information search engines provide us.
Yes, the internet is a powerful source of information. However, without keeping a critical evaluation of what we allow ourselves to read and deem true, we will slowly allow the internet to shape our morals and values. This is probably the scariest result of our dependence on the internet alone.

We Have a Guest!

I think it’s important to have guest bloggers on your blog every once and awhile. It expands your own writing and allows variety for those who read your blog.

This week’s Guest Blogger is Naida Lindberg. I really enjoyed her post about advice for Freshman students at SEU. Check out more from her blog Lets Talk Public Relations:

TOW 1 My Dearest First Year Students

Hello there,

At this point you are probably wondering where the survival guide to college is at. Unfortunately, it is not found in the over 60 page handbook on MYSEU. You will start to realize that the laundry fairy does not exist and that smell in your room is from the week old pair of socks that you forgot to pick up off the floor. You have taken your first step into adulthood and the truth is, its probably not what you pictured it being like. I would like to say it gets easier (for the record it does) but you, as a new student, have to make the most of your time at Southeastern University. People are not going to sign you up for clubs that grow you, you have to put yourself out there as nerve wracking as that may seem. If I had to condense three things a new student at Southeastern should know I would say this:

1.Get involved. Like I said before no one is going to force you to go to Club Rush, and they certainly are not going to make you leave your dorm room. It is important on this road of discovery that you figure out what you are passionate about. Fear not, you do not have to have college dialed in, in your first week but its important to test the waters and see what strengths Christ has given you. Your job is to be a good steward of those things.

2.Find and reside in your closet. Now I know I just said to leave your room and get involved but in order to grow you must find time to meet with God. Chapel is not the only place where the presence of God resides. If growing in God is dependent on what chapel service you go to, you may be in trouble. You have to discover who God is to you specifically, you cannot simply rely on who others say He is. Facetime is essential, and I do not mean the iphone app I mean spending time on your face in prayer everyday. I promise you will see a difference in your life.

3.Look at class as a spiritual experience. I know we grew tired of homework and class when we left high school but the best leaders are learners. I cannot speak for other universities but I firmly believe that the faculty on this campus care for you. They spend time in prayer and preparation for each class that you are taking. Pay attention to the men and women who spend that time so that you might grow. I have had days where I have left class almost in tears. These moments were not derived from a message and singing worship songs, they were brought forth because I sat in front of a professor who was passionate about the love of Christ. Worship is not simply singing songs but opening our ears to what the Lord is trying to communicate through our professors, to us.

I hope I have left you not with a sense of panic but rather an encouragement that these days you spend here are ones that you will never forget. This is not only a place where we read books, go to chapel, and put on events but rather it is a place of preparation; We are preparing for the lives that God has for us. It starts here, it starts now.

Grace & Peace

A picture taken my freshman year

Story-i-fy!

As aspiring media professionals, one of our main objectives is to hone in on our communication skills. Technology has definitely served us well when it comes to effectively multiple democgraphics in minimal time.

So what’s one of the newest social platforms sweeping the internet by storm? The answer is storify!

Storify is a way to tell stories using social media such as Tweets, photos and videos. You search multiple social networks from one place, and then drag individual elements into your story. You can re-order the elements and also add text to give context to your readers.

Let Storify cover you with some of these basics:

Why should I make stories with Storify?
Millions of people are sharing content through social media. But these streams of information are quickly lost in the never-ending stream of updates. With Storify, you can put together the best Tweets, photos and videos to make stories that will be remembered.
Can’t I just do this now with my regular blogging platform?
It’s a pain and takes a lot of time. You can cut and paste text, download and then re-upload photos, copy links to original sources, attempt to format that to look nice by going back and forth between previews and editing modes, etc. We make it easy to do that by just dragging-and-dropping, creating beautiful, simple stories. We preserve all attribution and metadata for each element. We let you notify all the sources quoted in a story with one click, a great way to help it go viral. Stories with Storify are interactive, and your readers can re-Tweet or reply to the people quoted in stories. Also, Storify’s API opens up new possibilities for developers to display stories in new ways and on different devices.
What should I Storify?
That”s up to you! You can create a story around an event using social media from people who were there, or put together a story using your own Tweets and photos. If you”re a business, you can use it to compile what people are saying about your product. You can also make an online scrapbook from a wedding or party with posts from your friends.
Can I use other sources?
We have an API for that and will be opening up the platform to many other sources. We also plan to let you use different algorithms to search for social content. Please stay tuned and let us know what other sources you would like.
I“ve created a story with Storify, now what?
You can point readers to the version on your profile page at http://storify.com/your_username. But you can also take the embed code from that story and put it on any Web site, much like you would embed a Youtube video. Because it”s an embed, you will always get attribution as the source and you will be able to see where your story is embedded and how many views it gets. When readers re-Tweet elements from your story and interact with it, you”ll get the attribution as the curator.
Isn”t there an issue with copyrights to use all this stuff?
We use publicly available content in accordance with the terms for use provided by the sources we are searching. The content we display has been made public by the original creators. We also maintain links to original sources to make sure they always receive attribution for their work. And we even help you notify the content creators that they are now part of your story. You own the content you create with Storify, so it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure that you have appropriate licenses for any work depending on your use.
What about this feature that notifies the people I quote in my story with @replies on Twitter, aren’t I spamming all my followers?
We also don’t like spam! The @replies don’t show up in the timeline that your followers see unless they are following both you and the other person who you’ve @replied to. This is a feature that Twitter itself created to prevent clutter of people’s feeds. Also, we always let you decide whether to send the @replies and to whom, so it’s up to you whether you want to use the feature. We will never send tweets from your account without your permission.
What are you doing to help content creators?
We care deeply about the debate over how to compensate content creators. That’s why we always attribute original sources, as a first step to make sure people are credited for their work and can see how it’s used.Having these metrics will help creators identify their best strategy. Should they continue giving it away for free to get exposure or should they monetize part or all of it? Providing these metrics to content owners is the first step for monetization. We are also looking at having paid content sources in Storify, please contact us at info@storify.com if you’re interested
Will Storify work with my content management system (CMS)?
As long as you can embed any kind of Javascript on your pages, you can embed a Storify story. You can also link Storify to publish in SEO-optimized HTML for some sites. You can set up publishing through the Settings > Publishing menu under your user menu in the top right corner of the page.
Will Storify work with my WordPress blog?
Yes we now work on both self-hosted and WordPress.com blogs! You can configure this under the Settings > Publishing menu.
Will Storify work with my Tumblr/Posterous site?
Storify works with Tumblr and Posterous just fine, please feel free to embed and share your stories there!
How does Storify affect search engine rankings and affect SEO?
Stories on Storify.com are optimized for SEO, because we link to all the sources used. If you set up auto-publishing, we will also feed the HTML version of your story into your site on WordPress blogs, Drupal and Tumblr. We also optimize for social sharing, which is the fastest growing way that readers are discovering content.
What happens if someone deletes something they”ve posted?
If it”s a Tweet, we keep a copy on our own site and it won”t be removed from your story. For other forms of rich media like photos and video, we simply link to the source so that content will not appear in your story if it’s removed by the original creator, as would happen for any embedded content.
What about Storify on the iPad and other devices?
Our drag-and-drop interface is ideal for the iPad and touch interfaces, we’re working on it!
What does “Storify” mean?
It”s actually an obsolete word that used to be in the dictionary that means “to form or tell stories.” It”s also a word that was used internally at The Associated Press, where our co-founder Burt worked as a correspondent. Editors sending messages to reporters asking them to do a story would regularly write: “Can u pls storify?”

Headlines Matter!

Sometimes you do judge a book by it’s cover. When reading an article, you have one shot to grab the readers attention. What are you going to write to reel your reader in? Where is the space available to reel in this reader? The answer lies within the headline. Headlines are crucial components to articles and should not be taking lightly. So with with some help with copyblogger, we will tackle the mystery behind those few words that hold so much power:

1.Write your headline first! “Your headline is a promise to readers.” You should invest as much of your energy in to headline as you do your article. You headline is a promise to the reader that you are making good use out of their valuable time.

2.Understand how a headline works! You can’t write an effective headline if you’re not necessarily sure how a headline functions within your story.

3. Take note of keywords! It’s important to use power words in your headlines … words that will show up in a search engine and direct the reader back to your post. So if you’re writing any type of headline, online or off, you should be doing search engine keyword research. Because any great headline should speak in the language of the audience, while wrapped up in a time-tested structure that catches attention and offers value.

4. Direct Headlines go straight to the heart of the matter, without any attempt at cleverness.

5. An Indirect Headline takes a more subtle approach. It uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind, which the body copy answers. Often a double meaning is utilized, which is useful online.

6. A News Headline is pretty self-explanatory, as long as the news itself is actually, well… news. A product announcement, an improved version, or even a content scoop can be the basis of a compelling news headline.

7. The How to Headline is everywhere, online and off, for one reason only – it works like a charm. Bly says that “Many advertising writers claim if you begin with the words how to, you can’t write a bad headline.” An example would be, umm… oh yes… the title of this post.

8 .A Question Headline must do more than simply ask a question, it must be a question that, according to Bly, the reader can empathize with or would like to see answered.

9. Another effective technique is called the Reason Why Headline. Your body text consists of a numbered list of product features or tips, which you then incorporate into the headline, such asTwo Hundred Reasons Why Open Source Software Beats Microsoft. It’s not even necessary to include the words “reasons why.” This technique is actually the underlying strategy behind the ubiquitous blogger “list” posts, such as 8 Ways to Build Blog Traffic.

10. Finally, we have the Testimonial Headline, which is highly effective because it presents outside proof that you offer great value. This entails taking what someone else has said about you, your product or service, and using their actual words in your headline. Quotation marks let the reader know that they are reading a testimonial, which will continue in the body copy.

Online Writing: a new world of possibilities

Writing online opens a new world of possibilities for the journalists inside all of us. So take advantage of the extra freedom of online writing and follow some of these “do’s” and “don’t’s” when it comes to blogging:

Do: provide lots of links. It’s important to back up the information you claim in your writing and writing for online media provides opportunities to put links in your post that will directly connect your readers to a multitude of information that will also bring validity to your own writing.

Don’t: write in long paragraphs. If there is anyway to lose the attention of the reader is by writing lengthy paragraphs for no specific purpose. Break up paragraphs …even consider ways to add various list to your post. It’s about being concise yet inviting in your writing. You want your readers to find it easy to read your post from beginning to end.

Do: provide lots and lots of visual! I’m talking videos, pictures etc. With online readings, it’s about finiding the balance of a compelling article and visual aid to assist with that. The internet is a valuable source. Try looking up a video on YouTube next time you write your next blog post!

Don’t: regurgitate information. It’s important to research the topics you look up  but writing for online media isn’t the same as writing a research paper. Be sure to know enough about what you’re writing on but also apply it to yourself. Be personal in your writing! Readers will appreciate your honesty and find it a whole lot easier to read your blog.

Do: write often! It’s okay to have too much to say. A lot of information is better than no information at all. It will also help you become more comfortable writing for an online reading if you keep up with it daily.

Don’t: criticize others. It’s okay to give honest feedback and criticism but if it serves no purpose if it doesn’t advance what your saying in anyway. Leave the drama in high school not on your blog.

Do: give credit where credit where credit is do. If you take from other blogs or other resources be sure to credit them in your writing. You would want the same done for you!

Don’t: blog about yesterdays news. It’s important to stay up-to-date with what’s current in the news and reflect that in your writing. Readers will get bored quickly if what you’re writing isn’t relevant to them!

Do: have fun! Enjoy what you write. Pick topics that interest you to blog about. Your readers and yourself will enjoy your reading a whole lot more when you just let loose.

The Myth Behind Prepositions

Prepositions have always been a struggle for me grammatically. From understanding where to place prepositions to simply even understanding what a preposition is, nailing down the exact formula to correctly using a preposition has been rough.

Grammar first step to clearing up any confusion in this area of grammer came when I read on Grammar Girl‘s blog that what she considers one of the top ten grammer myths is that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition.

What I learned is that this is only partially true. It is okay to use a preposition at the end of a sentence as long as it is necessary and effective. Otherwise, it is extraneous and only adds to the unnecessary amount of words in the sentence.  An example of an unnecessary preposition would be “Where are you at?” You could simply just ask “Where are you?” It is the same thing and adding “at” is unnecessary and should just be left out.

The myth is busted here, however. Sentences can end with prepositions for a number of reasons. English has a verb called a phrasal verb: “Cheer up,” “run over,” “log off,” and “leave off” are all examples of phrasal verbs.  Examples of phrasal verbs that end with a preposition include

  • I wish he would cheer up
  • You should leave it off.
So even though it’s not necessarily true that you can’t end a sentence with a prepositional phrase, you can’t just be throwing around prepositions expecting no consequences for your actions. There is a time to end a sentence and there is a time to not end a sentence with prepositions. It’s important to know the difference and use them effectively.

Week #2: Mainstream Media

Mainstream media is essential to keep up with not only for those studying in the field of Journalism or Public relations, but for everyone one way or the other. Technology is rapidly growing and evolving and with that comes the vast expansion in constant communication. Through twitter or blogs, the online presence of mainstream media helps the public stay informed on what is going on second by second.

One mainstream media blog that I have been looking at recently is one by NPR. What I learned was that NPR has diverse and unique online presence. There blog covers a wide-range of topics covering news, opinion, arts & life, music, programs, and an about NPR section for those wishing to know more about NPR.

College students can significantly benefit from not reading just this blog, but any mainstream media blog. I find it difficult for myself to simply sit down and watch the news or pick up a newspaper and catch up on the daily news. But mainstream media being available on blogs makes it easier for me to be aware about what is going on in the world in a bit more convienent setting.

Regardless of the conceive of mainstream media blogs, it is simply important for people to be aware of what is going on in the world. Mainstream media blogs is an effective news platform in that it opens up avenues for an endless supplement of information. This allows for people to be linked to a wide range of information. Therefore, news platforms such as this blog provides