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I’ve moved!

Please visit my new blog and website at See you there!


That’s a wrap

It’s been a while since I have posted anything, and the reason is obvious: deadline! Big monstrous deadline. The reporting project I’ve been part of has wrapped up this past weekend, and the weeks leading up to it have been filled with lots of work, too little sleep and too much anxiety.


The logo for our "Global Warning" project, designed by NPR's Nelson Hsu.

Now the website is all set up, and the great content me and the other nine reporters created is waiting to be revealed. When? That’s still a little up in the air. We partnered with a major news organization, which will run parts of our content. Until they put our stories into print, we’re holding publication of our website.

The site will have a lot of great features, though, and is definitely worth seeing. Interactives designed by the wonderful Kat Downs, great stories, photography, video and resources are waiting to be explored. Stay tuned!


How will media companies react to changing U.S. smartphone market?

Almost 30 percent of U.S. mobile phone users now own a smartphone, reports market researcher the Nielsen Company. The Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone each have a market share of 27 percent, with Google’s Android operating system coming in third at 22 percent.

The battle over the smartphone market appears far from settled. Of those thinking about getting a smartphone, a fourth are not sure which operating system they will chose. Especially older users haven’t made up their minds yet.

Many media companies have built mobile apps to reach smartphone users. The question for them, of course, is whether to build multiple versions of their mobile applications optimized for each of the smartphone operating systems. Apple, for example, doesn’t support Flash on its mobile devices.

Building multiple version of the same application obviously isn’t very resource-effective. In last week’s #wjchat, a weekly twitter chat among web journalists, I reposted what Staci Baird aka @girljournalist said: “We need platform agnostic content strategies so we’re prepared for the next big thing.” Other participants disagreed:

I realized I hadn’t expressed myself very clearly: I didn’t mean content that ignores the features and strengths of different platforms such as mobile or tablets. I firmly believe that journalists and newsrooms should take advantage of the different consumption experiences across different platforms.

Instead of “platform agnostic,” I should’ve said “compatible within one medium across different devices.” The web analogy would be having your website display across different browsers. Newsrooms don’t have resources to produce half a dozen different mobile apps.

Amy Webb, head of Webb Media consulting company, suggested at a recent presentation that media companies should use feed-based software that displays their content well regardless of a user’s platform. That might a way to address this issue. What do you think?

On the move

I started this blog in May 2009 – tellingly – with a post on the Future of News. I’ve been exploring the question of where journalism is moving and how we can best use online, social and mobile forms to reach audiences, as well as sharing my personal experience working toward my master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism.

I’m now ready to move on from the platform and expand this site from a blog into a full-fledged personal website. I’ve been working on setting up the new site and making it look pretty. I will let you know as soon as it’s done, at which time you will be forwarded from here to my new online home.

Get ready to update your bookmarks!

Creating multimedia slideshows: Projeqt and Vivox

Journalists who want to create multimedia slideshows don’t necessarily need programming skills. Here are two examples of online tools for producing interactive stories that incorporate video, images and writing.

Read more…

New Telegraph site emphasizes multimedia; push for mobile, social media

“The three biggest challenges for us editorially in the next year will be multimedia, multi-device tablets and smart phones and social media.”

Edward Roussel, digital editor of the Telegraph, explains where the paper is headed after launching its redesigned website, which will allow for more multimedia features. He said the Telegraph will aggressively pursue the mobile market, and is planning to hire multimedia journalists to produce videos and interactive graphics.


Observations from ONA

Twitter was buzzing all day with comments, live tweets and links from the ONA10 conference. Here are some observations from “the conference where journalism doesn’t know it’s supposed to be dead,” ONA executive director Jane McDonnell put it.

Key quotes

“If you run a website that doesn’t have something terrible on it, you’re doing something wrong. You’re not trying hard enough. You have to fail.” Erik Wemple of

“Is Patch evil?” @webjournalist asks Tim Armstrong of AOL “the question that’s on everyone’s mind.”  Armstrong replied that Patch fills a need for local communities and consumers. Jennings Moss of Portfolio has more detail.

“It’s not for us to decide how audiences will consume news,” Vivian Schiller, head of NPR, said during the same lunch keynote conversation. NPR just has to make sure that once audiences decide how they want to consume news “we’re there and provide NPR-quality content.”

Patch brought an actual patch of grass to its booth. Dessert was delicious.

“The future of news is hyper-personal, social, interactive news loop.” Anna Robertson, social media strategist at Yahoo. Robertson was speaking during the “social media storytelling,” one of my favorite sessions so far.

In addition to Robertson, Mathilde Piard talked about creating a shared content management system for the broadcast, radio and newspaper outlets of media group CMGdigital. The new system, she said, allows journalists to push out content across all platforms simultaneously. “User experience and ‘packaging’ is of course different,” she later added via Twitter.

Hearing from the Wall Street Journal’s Zach Seward was great, too, from the Benton Curve on journalistic interestingness to the importance of engaging in a conversation with your Twitter followers.

I only caught the tail end of “Coders are from Mars, designers are from Venus,” but I’ll definitely watch the video stream later. I thought this sessions was going to be super-geeky, but it offered a lot of interesting thoughts.

Speaking a shared language helps designers and coders - learn what terms make the other cringe, said Evans and Wright.

Tyson Evans and David Wright shared great practical advice – I definitely learned something. One of their tips for developing new formats was to begin by tackling “bite-size” projects without strict deadlines. The lessons for collaboration and communication between coders, designers and journalists will be valuable for the next large-scale breaking news project.

After this interesting first day, I look forward to tomorrow. If you can’t be there in person, Greg Linch and team are livestreaming the sessions here.

Let’s meet at ONA10

This weekend, the Online News Association‘s 2010 conference will flood the Washington with web journalists, designers, coders, social media leaders, online producers and many others involved in online journalism. I heard there’s some large-scale gathering happening, but journalists aren’t allowed to go.

I’m one of the happy ONA volunteers so if you see me passing out name tags or gift bags on Saturday, say Hi!

Otherwise, find me at these sessions. I’d love to connect!

Update: I’d like to point out these two sessions with two of my Medill profs.

Read more…

Blogs to love: The Transatlantics

While studying at Free University Berlin, me and a couple friends founded a blog called tapmag. The “tap” stands for trans-atlantic perspective – we blogged about U.S.-European politics, the 2008 Presidential election and social trends from across the Atlantic.

One of the many great things that came from running this blog was tapping (haha) into a network of fellow bloggers interested in these topics. (Our editor Kolja compiled a series of interviews with fellow bloggers into the Transatlantic Blog Review series.)

Here are some tips for your European-American cultural studies.

And Good Is – A hilarious look at German cultural sensitivities and the misunderstandings that ensue when you live in another country. The site’s author also created Nothing For Ungood (it’s now dormant, but go through the archive. Or buy the book.) The new site doesn’t fall short of the old one – dry humor and a matter-of-factly look at German and American particularities. The post on the “American bedding system” almost made me laugh out loud during a lecture.

Atlantic Review – This site fulfills the helpful task of compiling news coverage of Germany and the U.S., with a focus on security issues. While they write in English and often refer to English-language media sources, the authors also present a European perspective. Started by three Fulbright alumni, the blog currently has three authors based in Berlin, California and New York.

Sample post: Terrorism: Should Europe and the US Go to Red Alert?

A Fistful of Euros – This site’s 15 authors come from nine European countries, and their backgrounds and perspectives are as diverse. Topics covered include economic policy, the EU, and vampires. Most posts are fairly dense, backing up their conclusions with facts and charts. Their extensive blogroll lets you discover other European blogs.

Zugabe: USA Erklärt

“I try to explain the United States to Germans, as far as it can be explained,” says Scott Stevenson, author of USA Erklärt. “So I’ll do a little piece about Halloween, about what the President can or cannot do, why root beer isn’t beer, who the Lone Ranger is, or why you should never, ever put sugar on your popcorn.”

His site is in German, which is why it’s the “encore” post here, but I can’t leave it off the list. Scott’s posts are thorough, yet funny. He explicitly avoids opinion – “Dies ist kein Meinungsblog,” schreibt er. Von seiner Seite kann man viel über die USA lernen und fühlt sich dabei nie belehrt.

Scott nimmt mir freundlicherweise die Arbeit ab, den besten Eintrag auf seinem Blog auszuwählen, da er seine fünf wichtigsten Einträge breits selbst zusammen gestellt hat. Ich kann dem nur zustimmen – den Aufbau der US- Polizei habe ich noch nie so klar erklärt gesehen. Sehr lesenswert.

Scott was a guest lecturer at the seminar on international journalism tapmag organized in 2009. Watch video of it here.

More on the mobile on the rise, and what that means for interactive journalists

Mobile Internet use via smartphones and tablet computers is on the rise, and it’s challenging news organizations and journalists to think anew about how they can best reach and engage their audience (see my post from Thursday here).

More proof of that comes from a recent study Morgan Stanley analysts, who predict that mobile Internet use will outgrow desktop use by 2015. Other finds include increasing popularity of “cloud computing” and social web.

Journalists and designers, therefore, have to pay increasing attention to designing their content for use on mobile devices. There, touchscreen interfaces dominate compared to the mouse-led ones on desktops and laptops. Especially for interactive elements, that poses a challenge. In choosing what to learn, aspiring interactive journalists now don’t just have to worry about the whole Flash vs. HTML5 debate, but also about how their newly designed graphics will translate to mobile devices.

To that end, Jeremy Rue has written a great post on the skirmish between Flash and HTML5, posing the question: “What should journalists learn next?”

Not such an easy question, the UC Berkely j-school teacher says.

I’m not really sure how to teach HTML5 to journalists. This is because HTML5 is not what everyone thinks it is. All of the cool stuff that HTML5 can do is really being done by a programming language called JavaScript.

Teaching that to a not mathematically inclined person (i.e. 99 percent of journos) is a challenge. Help, he says, comes in the form of jQuery, a JavaScript library that makes writing the code a bit easier. A group of people are already working on adapting that framework for mobile devices. Considering the trend, that’s good news.

Hat tip to Medill prof Matt Mansfield, who not only celebrated World Statistics Day with me but also alerted me to Rue’s post.