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Save the Date! SFJ 2016 in Austin, Aug 10-13

November 29, 2015 Leave a comment

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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!

Digital tool Tuesday: Harnessing oral histories for your market

November 24, 2015 Leave a comment

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You can use the StoryCorps app to generate your own story ideas.

As you know, NPR’s StoryCorps is launching a big Thanksgiving initiative to document stories between family members on this holiday.

Stories told through the StoryCorps app are being archived at the American Folklife Center at Library of Congress, and are available on the StoryCorps website.

What’s genius is how you can search through the stories to find particular topics.

Ask readers to record targeted interviews; be sure to instruct them to include a certain word (cookies) or town (Omaha) to their interviews. Or arrange a small event (or attend an event) to record interviews of your own.

You can guide your readers by suggesting what questions to ask, or what stories you need.

You also could arrange a small event (or attend an event) to record interviews of your own.

Many universities and historical institutions might have good oral history centers (I found one from Baylor here).

Once they are on the website, they can be embedded into a story or excerpt for print.

Here are some other links to advice on taking oral histories.

Deseret News, April 2013: Preserving family history by using your smartphone

Digital Tool Tuesday: Resistance is futile — you must learn Excel

November 10, 2015 Leave a comment

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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?

Read more…

Digital Tool Tuesday — The List App

October 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 12.46.10 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 12.49.03 PM

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.”

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Digital Tool Tuesday — Tableau Public

October 20, 2015 Leave a comment
Data visualization using Tableau.

Data visualization using Tableau.

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.

Read more…

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Digital Tool Tuesday — Disaster tips

October 14, 2015 Leave a comment
Lead image from "The Flood: What We Saw" published at thestate.com

Lead image from “The Flood: What We Saw” published at thestate.com

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.

Read more…

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Digital Tool Tuesday — Newsletters

September 29, 2015 Leave a comment
The lead page of Lenny, a new newsletter by actress Lena Dunham.

The lead page of Lenny, a new newsletter by actress Lena Dunham.

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.

Read more…

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