SFJ is now taking applications for its 2016 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship for journalists of color.
The fellowship covers all costs to attend our 2016 conference in Austin, Texas, from Aug. 9-14. Conference programming will focus on storytelling on all platforms.
Applicants should have a high interest in features journalism.
Deadline for applying is May 5.
The 2016 SFJ Excellence-in-Features Awards contest is accepting entries, and entries can be submitted through March 4. We have new categories this year, including:
Diversity in Digital Features: The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. Diversity can include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies. One entry consists of a story or a series of stories on the same diversity topic. Multiple bylines accepted. This award is sponsored by the SFJ Foundation.
Best Features Website, Digital Channel or App: The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. Submit a link to a website, features channel or app. Entries are judged on content, which includes timeliness, depth of coverage, voice and style; service, which includes the level of reader interaction and the inclusion of everyday people and useful information; and design, which includes the digital presentation, headlines and “wow” factor. One entry consists of a link to a website, features channel or app.
The Society for Features Journalism heads to Austin, Texas next year! You won’t want to miss three days of sessions filled with practical advice, great ideas for coverage and ways to keep adapting in the digital world.
The conference runs Aug. 10-13 and will draw on the faculty and facilities of the University of Texas at Austin’s renowned journalism school. Plan on meeting the top features editors and reporters from around the country!
And, why wait? You can make your hotel reservations now, with a reduced room rate of $179 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin. To reserve now, call 877-744-8822 and request “Society for Features Journalism Annual Meeting.”
Austin is one of the country’s hippest, most creative cities and reduced room rates are available Aug. 9-14 in case you want to plan a family vacation or travel story around your trip.
Conference registration is $250 for SFJ members who make the early bird deadline. Non-members pay $350, as do members who register right before the conference. Conference registration will open in January. Questions? Contact SFJ today!
Journalists attending an APME Newstrain workshop last month were getting a crash course in using spreadsheets to tell stories and reveal information from public records.
The workshop, led by Michael Berens at the Chicago Tribune, reminded me that all journalists should be able to grasp the basics of Excel and similar spreadsheets.
But why should features journalists do the same?
The tool: The List app
What is it? An iPhone app for creating lists. It’s designed as a marketing tool for celebrities and brands (“The Office” writer B.J. Novak is one of the developers). But it could be a great tool for repurposing copy for the social media audience. It’s also great for extending the life of evergreen packages or finding a new audience for your recipes. You can share your lists on Twitter and Facebook.
How does it work? Download the free app (only available through iPhone) and sign in. Much like Facebook and Twitter, you can follow and be followed by folks. It’s pretty easy to create a list using the handy dashboard.
Make your list. Each item can have a photo, a comment (which can include a link). Your headline and read-in also can include a link.
Examples: PBS created a list to complement “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” episode on Barcelona. the Washington Post posted a list of “Creepy Internet Rabbit Holes.”
The tool: Tableau Public
What is it? Some elegant interactive tools are being made using the Tableau Public tool, which is available at no charge. It’s free data visualization software that — with a little tutorial — you can build interactive maps, tools and other cool stuff.
How does it work? Using a data set you get (or building your own on Excel), building a graphic that tells your story well.
There’s almost too much here to digest (for quickie graphic tools, try canva.com) but if you have an enthusiastic journalist who wants to dabble in data, let them play around with this.
It’s pitched to investigative reporters for serious projects, but think of the way you can use it to round up restaurant inspection reports, compare school data, or even create.
There is a resource page to view videos that show you how to use the data or how to navigate the dashboard.
Last week, my state gurgled under 20 inches of rain, roads buckles, dams split open, and at least several neighborhoods in my city were under water.
I’m no longer with The State, so I wasn’t able to discern the thinking behind its disaster coverage. But from my point to view it was stellar, with constant live updates paired with great individual storytelling opportunities with words, video and photos.
I thought about what digital tools might be helpful for getting through a disaster, and am sharing some good practices that you might employ if you have a similar situation.
Find more tips and links in this Dart Center guide.
Newsletters are the new black and white and read all over.
While social media networks continue to dominate news readers, newsletters are quietly grabbing fans, niche by niche.
Take Lena Dunham, of “Girls” fame. This week, she launched Lenny, a weekly newsletter that promises to be “a snark-free place for feminists.”
Newsletters bring customized content to readers. They arrive in an inbox, but they aren’t intrusive. You can sell them through sponsorships. They are easy to measure. They get traffic for your stories.
While Facebook tries to dominate the universe even more with its implementation of Instant Articles, it is throwing journalists a small piece of the social network with two new initiative, Mentions and Signal.
Facebook Mentions allows verified journalists (along with celebrities and other public figures) to broadcast live to his or her Facebook followers. It’s a good branding tool to show your readers how you’re covering the news or event.
First, create a professional Facebook page, much like you do with your personal account. The difference is that a Page allows you to get followers, who can see your activity and posts.
Have you tried Snapchat yet? Still don’t understand it?
Here’s a new reason to check it out? Incredible selfies.
One of Snapchat’s quirky features is the ability to write on top of the photo or video, or add emoticons or scribbles.
Now you can add special effects to selfies you take within the app. The feature, called Lenses, activates while the camera is open. Play along to create rainbows pouring out of your mouth, hearts on your eyes, and other whatnots.
Now why would you even consider such a selfie? To help promote a weird story or a columnist who is ready to cover something live.
I started the SFJ fellowship with my mind on two of the largest reporting weekends on the horizon: Made In America and the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia.
I was feeling very journo’d out and I left full of fresh ideas for how I would contribute to the coverage. Meeting and sharing stories and ideas with reporters and editors across the country was exhilarating.
Though I’ve been at the Philadelphia Inquirer for almost a year, during the conference I was able to better understand what goes into producing the paper. More importantly, I understand better the challenges in our industry that go far beyond reporting stories.
Touring the Washington Post, listening to Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, and observing Michael Cavna and others share showed me how there’s no one way to tell a story and engage audiences. And that when it comes to the future of journalism, the pathway has to be filled with creativity, courage and many entry points.
Ada Tseng: I’m scared and thrilled about being a journalist in the digital age; so follow me on Facebook
It was such an honor to attend the 2015 Society of Features Conference as a Diversity Fellow. I’ve never walked out of a conference feeling so full of energy and new ideas.
From the very first panel — featuring The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey, who talked about the value of creating personal newsletters; Atlantic Media’s Tim Ebner, who proposed creative ways of working with sponsors in order to fund journalism, and The Arizona Republic’s Megan Finnerty, who discussed using live events to build diverse communities — it was clear that this conference was going to be about change.
With change comes the anxiety of the unknown, but it also gives us an opportunity for self-analysis. As journalists, what are our core values that we can’t afford to compromise? What are some traditions that would be better left behind?
SFJ’s annual Show and Steal compilation — always a big hit at our conference — now is available for you to, well, you know what to do.
Click below to see the photo galleries of our members’ best efforts, and share ideas of your own.
The Society for Features Journalism conference at the University of Maryland was a great success.
In case you didn’t make it, here’s a list of the digital tools we discussed during a Friday morning session with Betsey Guzior, engagement editor at Bizwomen, and Corey Takahashi, a multimedia instructor at Syracuse University, and at other sessions.
We are on Crowdrise! Check us out at https://www.crowdrise.com/sfj2015/fundraiser/sfjfoundation
$35: Shuttle from the airport to the University of Maryland
$50: Underwrite the costs for a fellow to attend an SFJ panel discussion on how to help your newsroom make the transition to digital; or a session on ‘show-and-steal’ content ideas to drive traffic and engage readers; or training on how to sharpen your quick video skills.
$75: Shuttle to Washington for Q/A session with columnist Gene Weingarten and followed by a reception with editor Marty Baron.
$150: Foot the bill for one night at the conference hotel.
$1,000: Underwrite the total cost for one fellow.
$5,000-$10,000: Help SFJ launch a mentorship program that pairs professionals with college journalism students, including a weekend writing bootcamp in Washington D.C., distance learning and ongoing personal mentorship.
The SFJ Foundation is a 501c3, and your donations are tax deductible.
SFJ Conference Schedule
Aug. 26-29, 2015
College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, University of Maryland
NOTE: A free continental breakfast will be served in the Knight Hall Atrium Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning from 8:30 to 9 a.m.
All sessions are in Knight Hall on the University of Maryland campus, except the Thursday afternoon/evening trip to the Washington Post, where we’ll hear four speakers, including Editor Marty Baron and two-time Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten. We’ll have time between speakers (before dinner) for some small group tours of the Post.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 26:
4-5:45 p.m. SFJ Board Meeting: Board and committee chairs
5-6 p.m. Registration, Knight Hall Atrium (a fairly short walk from the College Park Marriott, our conference hotel on the edge of campus).
6-8 p.m.: Opening Reception, Knight Hall Atrium.
Twitter and Apple are hiring journalists to create their own brand of news. And now, Twitter’s Project Lightning includes a plan for followers to keep track of live events, through curated tweets. Buzzfeed sat down with Twitter developers about the project.
“On Twitter’s mobile app, there will be a new button in the center of the home row. Press it and you’ll be taken to a screen that will show various events taking place that people are tweeting about.”
What does that mean for you?
If you are live tweeting the Oscars red carpet or the Emmys, will your tweets be included for larger consumption, or lost in the curation to larger outlets? The new curation will instantly load videos and have rich image content; and it will be easier to embed tweets across all Web platforms. That could be a great advantage for breaking news events.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 23, 2015
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES
Terry Scott Bertling, SFJ president, 210.250.3112
Andrew Nynka, SFJ executive director, 301.314.2631
The Society for Features Journalism has honored seven Pulitzer Prize winners and a host of other journalists as part of its 2015 Excellence-in-Features Awards contest.
Also receiving recognition were 10 newspapers for outstanding features sections and journalists in 15 other categories. Winners were announced today.
More than 800 entries were judged in the contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living at news organizations in the United States and Canada. Winners will be recognized at SFJ’s national conference Aug. 26-29 in College Park, Md.
Find out on Tuesday by following the Society for Features Journalism using the hashtag: #SFJ15
The Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features Awards honor the craft of feature storytelling, and the people who do it for a living at news organizations and wire services around the country. Follow along as the Society for Features Journalism announces the winners on Twitter and Facebook, starting at 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday, June 23. The honorees include Pulitzer prize-winning journalists, national news organizations, and state and local reporters.
Are you still not an SFJ member? Join today!
Becoming a SFJ member is easy, and our members take advantage of year-long value. Join hundreds of features editors, journalists, and writers, who are making use of editorial resources and professional networks. An annual membership starts as low as $75 a year. Consider joining SFJ today!
Congratulations to the 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows!
They were chosen on the basis of experience, multimedia and writing skills and what they could learn and give back to SFJ.
Sofiya Ballin is a features reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She began her writing career at 17, crafting personal stories about growing up natural for natural hair website, The Coil Review, which ended after 7 years.
An award-winning journalist at Temple University, she also reported and edited for JUMP Philly music magazine, contributed pieces to Ebony.com, became a blogger for Huffington Post, interned at the Philadelphia Daily News, and freelanced for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ballin joined the Inquirer’s features staff in 2014 after graduation. During her short tenure, she has interviewed mainstream artists and introduced readers to up-and-coming talents, written about trends such as cuffing season and the emergence of Black Twitter, covered major news events such as local Ferguson and Baltimore protests, photographed and produced digital fashion features, and contributed opinion pieces that speak to the millennial soul. Ballin aims to humanize all walks of life through mentorship and her work.
Ada Tseng is a writer and editor based in Southern California, and for the last decade, she’s covered pan-Asian arts and entertainment for Asia Pacific Arts, Audrey Magazine, XFINITY Asia, KoreAm Journal, LA Weekly and more. She hosts a podcast called Bullet Train where she turns silly episodes (about Japanese romance simulation games and “American Ninja Warrior,” for example) into serious explorations (of love and remakes, respectively). She has a series called “Haikus with Hotties.” She studied at UCLA and received her MFA in Writing and Literature at the Bennington Writings Seminars. And she loves writing long feature stories on topics that aren’t being covered in the mainstream media.
Join us for SFJ’s annual conference Aug. 26-29 at the University of Maryland for an array of sessions that will be filled with practical, usable information you can bring back to your newsroom.
The conference kicks off with an opening reception on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 26. SFJ members get a discounted rate for the conference.
Conference sessions include:
– A Q&A with Washington Post Editor Marty Baron, whose newspaper was named the best in the business for digital innovation.
– Success stories on moneymakers in today’s newsrooms, ranging from newsletters to special events.
– Inspiration from a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner in feature writing, Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, and his editor Tom Schroder who has a reputation for bring out the best in his writers.
– A panel discussion on the new ways publications have transitioned to “digital first” and how journalists who grew up on the print side are thriving and leading the revolution.
– A simple hands-on video how-to that will give you skills to use immediately after the conference.
– Tips on digital tools that are fun and easy to use for cool projects.
– The ever-popular Show and Steal sessions, which feature great ideas from newsrooms around the country.
– An awards ceremony to honor the winners of the Excellence in Features Journalism contest
Hotel stays can be arranged at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference center on the University of Maryland campus. Conference sessions will be in the Knight Hall in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in College Park, just a short walk from the Marriott. We’ve arranged for a block of rooms at the Marriott with a rate of $149/night for a king or $159/night for two queens (an affordable option for attendees who want to share a room and share the cost).
What is it? Info.gram
What does it do? Creates easy to read infographics, charts and maps
How does it work? Sign up, and a step-by-step process will take you through creating a graphic.
It would help to be familiar with how to use a spreadsheet. One is available to fill in, but you can also import various spreadsheets.
You can choose among different types of charts, including treemaps (which show proportion clearly), bubble charts (which plot like charts but also show relativity in a cool way) or population charts.
You can add media, including photos and video, have multiple people collaborate on a graphic, and keep track of analytics.
There is a limited amount you can do with a chart in the free portion of this website. But, for feature purposes, this might be enough.
You can embed the chart into your web page, or share it through social media.
Have fun with it.
Do you love emoticons?
Lots of people think they’re awesome
You can’t avoid them.
We write about trends.
About arts and entertainment
Try to guess the story we’ve written in emoticon form.
Click here to see the story from Mashable
And check out this discussion on Storybench about the uses of emoticons in journalism
A couple of tools today to help your stories get more attention on social media.
Vox meme generator
Allows you to add text, watermarks, quotes to a photo for greater impact when sharing on social media.
Notes: It’s an open source code thingee, so it probably requires someone with coding experience to load it for your organization’s use. But the result is very professional.
Easy way to break down a video or upload photos to create a gif.
Notes: Doesn’t include an embed code; stores the GIF on its website, which might not do you much good.
2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship
When: Aug. 26-29, 2015, at the University of Maryland
Sponsor: Society for Features Journalism
Who is this for: Journalists of color who produce arts and features content for news organizations or those interested in pursuing careers in arts and features journalism.
What it covers: Travel and lodging costs to our annual conference, plus a $300 stipend for conference-related expenses.
Application deadline: May 22, 2015
The Society for Features Journalism is committed to developing news-gathering staffs representative of the multicultural communities its members serve. Toward this goal, SFJ is sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for journalists of color in conjunction with its annual conference at the University of Maryland. Programming will have heavy emphasis on multimedia, leadership and writing.
Welcome to the weekly feature highlighting a digital tool to leverage for lifestyle and arts and entertainment coverage.
The tools: Meerkat vs. Periscope
Where to find them: Apps for iPhone and Androids
What are they: Easy to-use live streaming to social media. Periscope is a tool fully integrated with Twitter, Meerkat is a standalone app that uses Twitter. Because Periscope is a Twitter-sanctioned tool, it’s easier to stream through it.
How they work: Both give you the ability to live stream from your smartphone to Twitter followers. Both also offer real-time live streams for you to view. Both apps allow viewers to respond with “love” buttons and share the live stream with others.
The difference is in the look of the screen. Periscope’s screen can be highly animated, with little “hearts” indicating viewers’ likes floating during the broadcast. On Meerkat, comments and likes are overlaid on the screen.
Plans for the 2015 Society for Features Journalism Conference at the University of Maryland Aug. 26-29:
We’ll start with an opening reception on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 26, and offer a packed agenda of speakers and conversations that continues through noon Saturday, Aug. 29. Topics that are likely to be on our agenda: money making ideas to take home, new tricks for those moving into more digital content (everyone, right?), new storytelling techniques that resonate with digital readers. And much more.
We’ll stay at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference center on the University of Maryland campus. Conference sessions will be in the impressive Knight Hall in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in College Park – just a short walk from the Marriott. We’ve arranged for a block of rooms at the Marriott with a rate of $149/night for a king or $159/night for two queens (an affordable option for attendees who want to share a room and share the cost).
We’re planning an outing one evening for kicks, but this is a roll-up-your-sleeves conference that promises lots of ideas and content for SFJ members to take home and put to use right away, whether your biggest challenge is boosting revenue, creating better content, or learning new tricks to connect with online readers.
The Tool: Yik Yak
What is it? A social media app that allows users to post anonymously; others “endorse” the posts to make them “hot.” Yik Yak communities primarily are around college campuses; the users are primarily students.
How does it work? People post observations; you can find “nearby” Yik Yaks. There are two options to view; one lets you see the newest posts; the other is to see the “hot” posts — those posted endorsed (liked) by others.
The search button lets you see featured topics, and “peeks,” which are other communities (again, mostly colleges).
You may include a username to Yik Yaks. That might be a good idea if you’re trolling for info as a reporter.
Digital Tool Tuesday: Useful (and offbeat) websites for features reporting
In this edition, some resourceful websites to use in lifestyle reporting, courtesy of The Journalist’s Toolbox, itself a great compilation of what journalists need to navigate reporting in the digital age.
Simply done, this is a timeline of the history of food. Want to know when “The Virginia Housewife” was first published? This timeline has that. Want to find out when the first dedicated baby food was produced; it’s got that, too. Click on the hyperlink and get a lot of well sourced material to mine for any food history story. Bonus: a page that outlines food prices in the past.
A USDA site, this includes great consumer information and personal tools for weight loss and increasing activity. Editors will find the Food-A-Pedia a useful tool to discover nutritional information on any food.
Math for journalists
Math tutorials from the L.A. Times Robert Niles. We like the simple explanation of percent change.
Catch the highlights of the discussion here.
The newsroom gets a phone call — two sisters who had not seen each other in decades are having a reunion. The first instinct is to go cover the event, write it up and move on.
But, the folks at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale did a little digging, and came up with this tale of loss, grief and hope.
Now, we’re going to dissect this story apart and learn how it unfolded. Join us on Monday, February 23rd from 1-2 pm EST for SFJ’s first Story Club Twitter chat about “The Lost Sister,” a great piece by Nicole Brochu and photographer Joe Cavaretta, who tracked down this story and turned it around in record time.
To participate in the Story Club Twitter chat you can send questions to the SFJ listserv by 3 p.m. Friday, February 20th. Or, send them on Monday using Twitter and the hashtag #SFJStoryClub. Be sure to follow along next week!
Our third issue of SFJ Campus Connection is here! It’s the perfect tool for anyone on the hunt for an internship. Plus hear from a Mashable employee about how he networks to find places to live.
Follow this link to the PDF version with hotlinks: SFJ Newsletter 3
Digital Tool Tuesday Welcome to a new weekly feature of SFJ, in which we share tips about a digital tool to leverage for lifestyle and arts and entertainment coverage. The tool: Storymap
What does it do? Creates clickable map that allows you to tell a story at each point.
What’s cool about it? Embed video and photos at each point, bringing a map to life.
Our quarterly Campus Connection newsletter aims to connect college journalism students and professors with the features journalism society at large. If you have ideas for future newsletters, please like us on Facebook and leave a comment there. Thanks!
The Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship winners, Mariecar Mendoza and Denise Watson, reflect on their time at the 2014 SFJ annual conference:
During a time in the media industry where metrics and analytics rule many newsrooms, it’s refreshing to know that there is a still a smart, creative group of enthusiastic people who champion the art of storytelling.
What’s more, they’re focused on storytelling about music that moves, food that strengthens bonds with loved ones – or helps folks with their gastrointestinal tract.
That’s the biggest takeaway I got from my first Society of Features Journalism conference, hosted in Nashville this summer.
When I was a teen, I always dreamed of being in the same room with arts and entertainment writers and editors who understood the importance of what most newsrooms scornfully dub “fun journalism.” This year, not only got nearly a week with them, but I got real time with them to bounce around ideas – steal a few ideas, too – and find out how they’re dealing with this digital world that has everyone working on so many platforms at such a fast pace.
Tommy Tomlinson, a writer for Forbes, probably summed up what features writing means to me when he told the attentive crowd of SFJers: “I like to write big stories out of little moments.”
We have a long-standing commitment to recognize and celebrate excellence in feature storytelling and this remains at the heart of the group’s mission. But times change, and our workplaces are in transition. Your daily routine may barely resemble what it was just a few years ago.
Please take a few minutes to share your feedback. Let us know how we can help you in this challenging new environment.
We believe that SFJ is an important resource for you and your colleagues — your smart and savvy ideas will help us keep it that way!
Thanks, in advance. And, take the survey now: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SFJ0814
SOCIETY OF FEATURES JOURNALISM HONORS THE BEST IN ITS FIELD
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:
Betsey Guzior, SFJ President, 803-771-8441
Merrilee Cox, SFJ Executive Director, 301-314-2631
The Society for Features Journalism has honored four Pulitzer Prize winners and three Pulitzer finalists as part of its 2014 Excellence-in-Features Awards contest.
Also receiving awards were nine newspapers for outstanding features sections and journalists in 14 other categories. Contest winners were announced today.
More than 600 entries were judged in the contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living at news organizations and wire services in the United States and Canada.
Pulitzer Prize winners who won SFJ awards included:
–Liz Balmaseda of the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, who place first in arts-and-entertainment commentary in the small newspaper division. She won a Pulitzer for commentary in 1993.
–Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post, who placed first in SFJ’S Arts and Entertainment Commentary Portfolio category in the large-newspaper division. He received a Pulitzer for criticism in 2013.
–Eli Saslow of the Washington Post, who placed first in Narrative Writing in the large-newspaper division for “Into the Lonely Quiet,” a poignant look at a family who lost a child in the Newton, Conn., school shooting. He won a Pulitzer this year for Explanatory Reporting.
–Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, who placed second for his General Commentary Portfolio in the large-newspaper division. He has won two Pulitzers for Feature Writing.
Others honored by SFJ included this year’s three Pulitzer Feature Writing finalists, a category in which no award was given. They are:
–Scott Farwell of the Dallas Morning News, who won SFJ’s Series or Project award in the large-newspaper division for “The Girl in the Closet,” a series about a woman’s efforts to lead a normal life after years of severe abuse. He was a Pulitzer Feature Writing finalist for that series.
–Christopher Goffard of the Los Angeles Times, who placed first and second in SFJ’s General Feature category. He was a Feature Writing finalist for “The Manhunt for Christopher Dormer,” which was not entered in SFJ’s contest.
–Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was the writer of the series “The Course of Their Lives,” which earned two SFJ awards. He was a Pulitzer Feature Writing finalist for that series.
Also winning awards was Carlos Frias, who was an SFJ Diversity Fellow last year. Frias, of the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, received honors in General Feature, Short Feature and for his body of work in General Commentary and Feature Specialty Writing.
Winning best-section honors in the small-newspaper category (circulation of 90,000 or less) were the Colorado Springs Gazette, Edmonton (Canada) Journal and Portland (Maine) Press Herald.
In the medium-size category (circulation of 90,001 to 199,999), the winners were the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, St. Louis Post Dispatch and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
Winners in the large-newspaper category (circulation of 200,000 and above) were the Los Angeles Times, Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Washington Post.
Among smaller newspapers, those receiving the most awards were the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, with nine, and the Edmonton (Canada) Journal and (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, with seven apiece. In the middle-sized newspaper category, the big winners were The Virginian-Pilot with 10 awards, CNN.com with five and the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman with four. In the large-newspaper category, the Washington Post received 13 honors, the Los Angeles Times won 11 and the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times had nine.
SFJ will recognize the winners at its national conference Aug. 20-23 in Nashville. SFJ is an organization that promotes and celebrates features journalism.
For a complete list of this year’s winners, please see this link: http://featuresjournalism.org/sfj-26th-annual-contest-winners-by-category
FOR CONTEST INQUIRIES:
Suzy Fleming Leonard, contest co-chair, 321-543-4261
Jim Haag, contest co-chair, 757-446-2977
“We need more video!” That’s the battle cry from editors in newsrooms. But where you do you go from there?
At SFJ14 in Nashville, you’ll get instruction and inspiration from two seasoned pros, in two sessions on the opening day of the Society for Features Journalism conference. Val Hoeppner travels around the country teaching journalists how to shoot video. She’ll bring her enthusiasm and the newest tools for you to use. Later, learn how to take those skills to the next level with Josh Meltzer of Western Kentucky University.
Sign up for the conference, Aug. 20-23, at the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University in beautiful Nashville. Click here for registration and hotel details.
The Pulitzer board did not award a prize for feature writing this year.
The Poynter Institute’s Roy Peter Clark, a former Pulitzer juror and a friend of features folks, speculated this week that part of the reason for the snub is that features journalism is a bit hard to define.
What is features writing anyway?
Members of our organization, the Society for Features Journalism, produce some of the finest narrative storytelling in journalism. Some of us drive cultural and artistic discussions in our communities. Many of us still tell stories no one else would spend to time to do.
And, yes, some of us are writing celebrity blogs, compiling Top 10 lists, making how-to videos, posting reality show recaps and cooking up crazy reader contests.
It’s all features.
Features writers, editors and producers have been rattled by the recession and the changes in the news industry. Arts critics are rare these days, and features sections have been decimated or eliminated.
But know this: Many of the survivors — lifestyle and arts and entertainment journalists — are leading newsrooms into a digital age and finding new ways to reach out to readers and tell stories. Innovative work in newsrooms is being driven by the features staffs, who, through powerful and resourceful storytelling, learned the hard way to create something exciting, often from nothing.
Quality features journalism is spreading beyond traditional print newsrooms. Some of the recent winners in our SFJ national writing awards were from CNN and Today.com.
Did features journalism take a hit Monday when the Pulitzer board decided to withhold a prize in features writing?
Features Editor, The State, Columbia, SC
P.S. SFJ guarantees prizes in its annual writing and best section contest. Enter by clicking here
The 2014 SFJ Excellence-in-Features Awards is now taking entries. We’re using an online system this year, which we hope will make the experience less cumbersome. Here’s how to get started:
For details on the categories, check out the BNC site or find them under the “Contest” heading here labeled “26th annual Excellence in Features Journalism.”
The deadline for entries is April 18.
Also, this year we have three new categories:
Narrative Storytelling: A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. Sidebars accepted. Each entry consists of one story. All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.Blog Portfolio: Three blog posts by the same writer on any feature topic, including commentary and reviews. Each entry consists of three blog posts. All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.Digital Innovation: New or improved online ventures, which can include new or upgraded websites, apps, social-media experiments or other ways to share information in the digital world. Entries will be judged on creativity and impact. Must include a description of no more than 250 words on how the innovation came about, its goals and its success. Submit explanation as a Word document attachment. One entry consists of one innovation, such as an app or a website. All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
According to JournalismDegree.org, they are among the “151 Twitters Worth A Follow” in its recently released “Best in #Journalism” list.
So the Society for Feature Journalism — @WeAreSFJ — is in good company at spot #106!
Here’s JournalismDegree’s description of our Twitter account: “The Society of Features Journalism helps journalists refine their craft through some of the most innovative posts across the internet. They’re incredibly active in retweeting other notable journalism publications, which only makes their feed stronger.”
JournalismDegree.org describes itself as “a site dedicated to providing timely and relevant information about journalism degrees and programs.”
It decided to put out this list because of Twitter’s effect on journalism.
“These are some of the journalists, bloggers, and news organizations that are pushing the limits of what can be accomplished with Twitter,” the site explains. “Budding journalists and seasoned pros should be following every one of these accounts.”
Thank you! We are honored to have been included on this list and we’ll keep tweeting away.
The 2014 Golden Globes are over, and the general consensus seems to be: We love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts; we love it when celebrities get drunk and unpredictable; and we have plenty of comments to offer on the dresses that hit the red carpet Jan. 12.
But if you’re looking for second-day story on the entertaining evening, here are three things that are generating talk (click on image for links).
Joining is easy. Just download and complete this registration form: https://db.tt/r2aeFpCO
You can also make your membership payment online with PayPal.
And, don’t forget! There is a multiple-member discount, so you can add new colleagues and save big.
Questions? Email Merrilee Cox.
Happy holidays, and see you next year!
By Greg Braxton
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — Ethics have always been a hallmark of journalism. But the advance of digital technology within newsroom is fueling an ethics revolution.
That was the message behind the session, “Ethics In a Digital Age,” officiated by Kelly McBride, a Poynter Institute faculty member specializing in media ethics.
“Journalism ethics will change,” McBride said during a spirited address during the Society for Features Journalism conference at the institute.
Although independence has been held as one of the pillars of journalism, readers now are valuing transparency over independence, said McBride.
“When we are transparent, then we have the trust that is crucial in a relationship with the audience,” she said. “We have to show people why they should believe, we have to communicate why we are trustworthy.”
By Greg Braxton
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — The business of journalism is such a relentless beast filled with deadlines and constant pressure that it can have a negative, even stifling impact effect on creativity and attitude.
In a session spiced with good humor and energy during the Society of Features Journalism conference, senior Poynter Institute faculty member Jill Geisler, who specializes in leadership and management, spoke on how to nurture creativity with newsrooms, and how to heighten it without sacrificing the demands of producing news.
“We’re often so tied up on the product,” said Geisler in an address that was mainly geared to editors. “We have to be as good at growing and nurturing people as we are about the product … you want your most creative people to be engaged in the workplace.”
She provoked laughter among the attendees when she said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun,” noting that “play” is important to people who are creative.
“Set up a climate where playfulness can or can’t happen with creative people,” said Geisler, who also said that editors should not be reluctant to use “tough love” when necessary.
Geisler provided several tips, including leading “with Feedback Glasses,” instructing editors to have continued meaningful interaction with their reporters and staff so that there is an understanding of mutual goals, which will fuel motivation between both parties.
By Greg Braxton
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — Personality profiles can be the most insightful, involving pieces in print journalism, providing in-depth glimpses into fascinating figures while simultaneously allowing writers time and space to display their craft.
But every so often, the process produces results that can be unexpected, and, in some instances, even tragic.
Tampa Bay Times enterprise reporter Leonora LaPeter Anton encountered that delicate situation with her award-winning 2012 profile of a woman suffering from persistent genital arousal disorder, a rare debilitating disease that produces unwanted sexual feelings and responses. The intricately detailed story which exposed the humiliating ordeal of Gretchen Molannen also proved to be a troubling experience for both Molannen and the seasoned Anton, who detailed their encounters during a gripping session at the October conference for the Society for Features Journalism.
Before the story with Molannen was published in late November, she committed suicide. She took her life on Dec. 1, the day after the story appeared online.
Choking up at times as she recalled the experience, Anton defined the experience as a journey between her and Molannen, two people that always had a trace of possibility that something horrible may happen.
By Carlos Frías
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — In the 40 minutes it takes Diane Cowen to commute from the Houston Chronicle, she’d considered, conceived and came home ready to celebrate the idea for her first book.
Cowen, the Chronicle’s food and religion writer, burst through the door, heading for her computer, and called out to her husband, “I’m going to write a cookbook!”
His response? “OK. What are we going to have for dinner tonight?”
They went out to dinner.
She came up with the idea for “Sunday Dinners,” a book that examines the Sunday mealtime traditions for famous families of faith such as Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes, simply by thinking about her beats — something she suggests any reporter can do.
“I thought sarcastically, ‘I guess I could write a cookbook for religious people.’ I literally laughed out loud in my car and then… I thought, ‘That is not a bad idea,’ ” she said during the Society for Features Journalism panel examining how books can spring from the newsroom.
Today we’re talking about three messaging apps that are being used in different ways.
What is Peach? You might have heard about the new social app called Peach. It’s either the hottest app going, or the app that’s already been declared dead on arrival.
What’s different about Peach? It seems to have more of an emotional component, allowing your words to be enhanced by media that speaks to the mood of your post, using a “magical words” tool.
In other words, it’s like Oprah. It is designed to evoke feelings. As the New Republic writes, “Advertisers have known this for decades. It isn’t enough for a thing to be useful or good; the thing has to fulfill some more unconscious need. So in other words, successful apps build structures that reward our pleasure centers. They compel you to click.”
What is Line? A messaging app that’s popular in Asia. Much like Facebook, it builds around a community. 60 percent of its user base are in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.
One advantage is that is was created with a mobile-first mentality, and, while it’s a messaging app, it has evolved into a network in which publications can share news and links to their followers.
It also has some intuitive functions, like a “digital butler” service that will deliver goods and services on demand. And it’s got virtual stickers, which are like emojis. Future plans are to add payments and other mobile services onto the platform.
The Wall Street Journal has harnessed it to share targeted stories to its followers, mostly in Asia. One disadvantage? It doesn’t have accompanying analytics, so it’s probably a hard sell to use in a wide sense.
What is Kik? Kik is a messaging platform that is being used by young people. It works like a messaging service, but the conversation can be among several people, much like a chat room. Messages disappear quickly.
Kik doesn’t require a link to a “real” profile like Facebook, which is why it’s being used by 40 percent of young people, by one estimation. And it’s why it’s been targeted by criminals and linked to cyber-bullying. Kik conversations between 13-year-old Nicole Lovell and an 18-year-old Virginia Tech student led to kidnapping and murder of the girl, and subsequent stories to parents and teens about the app.
Have a Digital Tool question or idea? Email Betsey Guzior at email@example.com
A roundup of news on digital tools:
Live feeds in the Twitter timeline: Periscope is inching closer to being a great live news tool as Twitter now can let live feeds run in the app. It can be useful for journalists covering live and unfolding events. It will show up in the Twitter feed, but not in support apps such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
To use it, open Periscope. Write something about the broadcast before you begin, so followers can understand what’s going on.
As a precaution, have someone with an open Twitter feed checking to make sure your orientation is correct. I have seen many folks using a landscape orientation, which, in Twitter land, isn’t necessary.
And, if viewers want to add live comments or “heart” a broadcast, they still will have to open the Periscope app.
New features on Playbuzz. I’ve written about Playbuzz, the easy quiz generator. If have not used it lately, check it out again. Playbuzz has added several new quiz and poll forms, including a swiper.
The swiper is a Tinder-like function that allows viewers to vote a photo up or down. It’s already being used in awards season the red carpet. It’s ideal for a mobile audience that you can’t get with traditional photo galleries.
Here’s how it’s used for a quick election poll.
We’re waiting with bated breath for a bracket tool; please, Playbuzz?
Genius began as a way to annotate song lyrics, and it still serves this function. But more and more, it’s being used by news organizations to add context to speeches, transcripts or even live events.
It’s super easy to use. Sign up for Genius; once it is activated you can highlight a piece of text, click on a pop-up button, add text, links, embeds from social media.
The Washington Post used Genius to annotate President Obama’s speech Tuesday announcing new executive measures on gun control. It included links to background stories, tweets from the Post’s columnists and experts, and fact-checking.
Just think of how you can use it. For speeches during awards season, or your political leaders’ major addresses. You can use it to fill in the blanks while covering a live event.
It also serves as a social network, so you can connect with other publications to share Genius annotations.
Learn more by clicking here.
Facebook has been testing a live stream directly from its site, and soon will make it available to all Facebook users.
As Forbes has reported, social media live streaming — with Periscope and Meerkat leading the way — is exploding, and viewers will want more in 2016.
You’ll be able to do live video by clicking a live video icon. You can write a description and pick your audience (much like when you post). then click “Go Live.”
Click here for some examples of how it’s been used so far by celebrities, brands and political figures.
Also, Facebook Notes — the expansion of function that didn’t have a high profile, got a facelift, and is starting to look more like a real blogging tool.
You have seen how powerful narratives with photos can be with Humans of New York. Now Facebook is providing a place to include photos, videos and a long narrative in an attractive package.
Here’s more on the Notes update
QUESTION: How could features editors and writers be using this?
Today’s tool: Wufoo
What is it? A document creating tool that allows you to create forms that can be shared. It’s created by Survey Monkey, which is used for polls.
How does it work? Log in to the free account (there is a corporate account option available), and begin making a form by clicking boxes that suit your needs.
You get a live view of the form as you’re going along. That allows you to make changes
Can’t decide what works? Click on the template gallery (they’re filled with a lot of business template options, but there are ways to customize the template after you’ve picked them.
Once you’ve saved your form, you can share via social media, embed or just link to it.
Once people have filled out the form and submit it, you will get a notification via email.
It’s easy to use and adapt, especially if you have a callout for recipes, stories, etc.
If you expected a flood of submissions, expect a flood of email notifications
If you are soliciting stories, you’ll have to copy and paste them into a word-friendly file. There’s no easy way to convert it from a form to a story/post.
You also have a 3-form limit each month; otherwise you will have to upgrade your plan. The business/corporate plan also allows you to customize with logos and design.
Take the survey below: