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.
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:
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 of July 8.
Non-members pay $350, as do members who register right before the conference. Follow this link to register.
Questions? Contact SFJ today!
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
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.