New news startup targets ‘the Change Generation’ Sept. 18, 2013

What do you think about this site? is a new site with a mission of keeping younger adults (like you) informed without … um … stressing you out too much, I guess.

Leave your reactions (if any) in the comments.

Check, check and check again: Images on TV

Here’s a funny story about what happens when journalists are not careful about their work:

Photoshopped book title from Paula Broadwell’s Gen. David Petraeus’ biography goes viral on web

During the 5 p.m. newscast, 7NEWS wanted to show the book cover of the Petraeus biography, written by Broadwell. So someone did a Web image search, found an image of the book cover, and downloaded  that image.

They showed it on-air.

Only it wasn’t the correct cover.

“The editor pulled the image of the book cover from the Internet without realizing it had been doctored.”

Take this as a cautionary tale — when you’re reporting to the public, you can’t be quick and sloppy. You really MUST check things carefully, or you can end up looking like a total idiot!

Looking for online journalism tutorials?

You may have accidentally come to this site when searching for Journalists’ Toolkit, a site that provide free tips and tutorials for journalists, journalism students and journalism educators. In many ways, this class blog was the inspiration for that website.

This blog was created for and used in a two-semester course for graduate students in Journalism at the University of Florida in 2007 and 2008.

At the Journalists’ Toolkit website, you’ll find handouts, downloads and other materials to help you learn about Web audio, video, photojournalism and design.

Today’s class: HTML, CSS, and blog enhancements

Today we tried to cover everything on the Week 12 page, and we got a little short on time for the blog enhancements.

You’ll see here, on this blog, that I have added the three enhancements to the sidebar. The FeedBurner chicklet and the Technorati widget are in a Text widget, which you can add to your blog from the Dashboard (under Presentation, go to Widgets, and drag Text 1 up from the boxes at the bottom). Read the instructions at the respective sites to learn what to do.

The Site Meter addition has different instructions. There are two cut-and-paste operations. There’s a way to get the Site Meter out of the Blogroll. Read the instructions and find out how!

My motive in requiring you to add these things to your blog goes beyond just getting the end result (that is, having thingies in your sidebar). A person who works on a Web site at a news organization needs to learn how to learn, how to find instructions, how to make things work. A few students in our class already know how to do this. Why? The same reason I know how — we have taught ourselves. When someone says, “Put a FeedBurner widget on that page,” you ought to go straight to Google, find FeedBurner, and find out from the FeedBurner site how to use FeedBurner.

Not because you’re a Web developer. No, just because you’re not going to ask other people to do stuff that you can do yourself. Everyone learns the same way. Take your time. Follow the instructions. Make it work. Make it work right.

If you need help, come and see me in my office. Next week I’ll be in New York on Tuesday. Monday is a holiday, and Wednesday is a bit busy. I can probably meet you Thursday morning or sometime Friday if you need some assistance.

Blog guidelines from The Washington Post

From an internal memo, posted at

This memo describes guidelines for our newsroom for creating, maintaining (and ending) blogs. Blogs, like all content on, are published under the supervision of editors at wpni. This primer aims to help reporters and editors at the newspaper decide when, how and whether to launch a blog.

All blogs should draw on our principles for Washington Post journalism on the web, including meeting our standards of accuracy and fairness and rules for expressing personal opinions.

There are nice details about the blogging rules, following that bit.

Web design: Catching up from Thursday

I don’t want to overwhelm you all with too many posts and too much to read, so I’ll keep this short.

After our in-class exercise on Nov. 1, I briefly covered some design principles and talked about the Minnesota Liberians package and the wild horses segment (these are linked on the Week 11 page of the syllabus). This course makes no attempt to cover Web design (see MMC 5015 for that), but you should have at least a little appreciation for what makes one Web page look great and what makes another look terrible.

I recommend this introductory article about Web design principles — it will give you some grounding:

Web design is a relatively new profession compared to other forms of design, due to the youth of our medium. As with any design discipline, there are aspects of the Web design process that are unique to the medium, such as screen resolution, additive color spaces and image compression. But too often these more unique details override our sense of the bigger picture.

If you work online, you ought to acquire familiarity with some rules governing how a page is laid out (print or Web):

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment (this alone can transform a page from bad to good)
  • Proximity

Break the rules, or ignore them, and the page gets ugly.

Other considerations include screen resolution (Web only, of course), typography, and the use of color. You can learn more here.

Navigation: I talked at some length about the left-side navigation used in the Minnesota Liberians package.

Credits: These must be accommodated in the design. For any project, story, photo, etc., a journalist should make certain that the public can easily see who was responsible — who made it.

Acknowledgments and sources: Similarly to credits for everyone on the journalistic team, information about where the information came from is essential. Link to the sources whenever possible (but not inside the text, because that might seem to be advertising; use a separate resources page).

Date: This is a pet peeve of mine — stories sometimes stay online for many years, yet you cannot find a YEAR of publication on the story! Every package or story should have an easy-to-find month, date and year somewhere.

Planning a story package

The story package you will plan and produce for class is a SMALL package. Even though the issue you choose might be a huge one, your package in this case will use only three Web pages. This will make it manageable for one person in a short span of time.

When we talk about “packages” in online journalism, however, many times we are thinking of BIG packages with dozens of Web pages.

Here is a list of links I prepared for a half-day professional workshop: Planning Multimedia Packages. You can explore the links at your leisure to see how much variety there is in the topics covered, and the different approaches in both design and organization that the various news organizations have taken.

Here are the storyboard examples I showed in class on Thursday, Nov. 1:

Personalize the issue!

Thanks to a comment on my TOJou blog, I found this article:

The story is not about child labor. The story is about Johnnie Smith who works 10 hours a day in a rubber chicken factory because his mother is sick and his father was killed in the war. The story is not about breast cancer, the story is about Leslie Faithcart who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lives in Marin, a city that was just found to have the highest rate of breast cancer in California.

Yeah, I’m starting to think your third Soundslides (and package) has to be an issue story …