Archives for the month of: November, 2012

The Online Journalism Handbook reviewed by Sallyanne Duncan in the Journal of the Association for Journalism Education:

In the process of setting up a Master’s degree in Digital Journalism this year I faced the daunting task of finding suitable reference materials for this new course. It’s a tricky exercise to select the right key texts that will meet the needs of bright graduate students who come from diverse disciplines and who have mixed experiences of  journalism.

A fine balance needs to be struck between recommending a book which challenges their intellect but does not assume they are all digital natives who only need to polish their inherent skills.Equally, students tend to expect something which goes beyond the basic skills-based manual which often fails to engage them in current debates.

Paul Bradshaw and Liisa Rohumaa’s book The Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to Surviveand Thrive in the Digital Age certainly does not fall into the latter category. This is a fine, nuanced resource, particularly for those with limited knowledge but who are keen to extend their understanding of not only their skills but also the context of digital journalism. For example, the first two chapters on the history and technology of online journalism are comprehensive scene-setters,written in an informative, concise and pacy style.

When I received it I was immediately struck by the look of the book, the manner in which data is broken into manageable chunks and the quality of the colour plates. I was also surprised by how compact it is – I expected a much larger tome – particularly when I examined the comprehensive contents. The authors pack in a great deal of material in only 203 pages. There are chapters on writing for the web, data journalism, blogging, audio, video, interactivity, user generated content,and the law. It is also written with a touch of levity on occasion, which assists in putting over complex issues and building the confidence of the reader, perfect for students who are all too aware of their lecturers’ expectations that because they are young they will know all about this online stuff.Throughout, Bradshaw and Rohumaa debunk myths about the internet by writing in an accessible, intelligent, clear style without any unnecessary techno-babble. The chapters are split into logical sections which gives the reader the opportunity to master one particular form of online activity before moving on to the next rather than confronting them with several platforms at a time. The colour plates are superb and it would be useful if these were available as slides (or other suitable format) so they could be projected on to a screen for use in class.That said, there could be more on how journalists use online tools, social media and the invisible web to research routine news and features as opposed to data journalism which is dealt with extensively in Chapter 5.There is a useful chapter on the law and online communication, saving the reader from having to search out relevant legal texts. This chapter looks at the usual suspects of freedom of expression, privacy, defamation, contempt of court and copyright but through the lens of convergence.

Numerous examples support the discussion through ‘closer look’ sections on specific legislation,approaches to stories, and the efficacy of using terms and conditions.

Overall, The Online Journalism Handbook is a valuable guide for the reader who wants to extend their knowledge of digital journalism, and one that should be recommended reading on every university journalism course. It certainly tops our reading list.

If you want to get media online there are a number of approaches, broadly split as follows:

  1. Uploading via email
  2. Uploading via a webpage on a specialist audio/image service
  3. Uploading within a blogpost, e.g. on WordPress

This post will explain briefly how to do each.

Uploading multimedia via email

If speed is an issue with getting your multimedia online, email may be the quickest way to do it – especially if the multimedia is on a mobile phone.

Posterous is the service I use most on that front. If you email your image or audio to post@posterous.com then Posterous will publish it on a blog (even if you’ve not set up an account with them). Audio will be embedded in a special player; video too. And if you’ve uploaded more than one image it will put them in a gallery. The subject line of your email will be used as the title.

You will then get an email back from Posterous telling you that your email was published, with a link to the page. Note: if you have more than one blog with Posterous the site will give you a different email to use for each one, e.g. birminghamcrimenews@posterous.com

Many other services allow you to upload via email too – including Tumblr, Flickr and Facebook (see this help page). You just have to find out what email address to use. Search for ‘uploading email’ and the name of the service (e.g. Flickr, etc.) to find a how-to.

Uploading via a webpage on a specialist audio/image service

If you prefer to have your audio/images hosted on a service specifically for audio or images, then create an account first (Flickr is good for photos; Soundcloud and Audioboo for audio – there’s a fuller list at http://delicious.com/paulb/tools+audio and http://delicious.com/paulb/tools+images).

Then go back, and log in with the username and password you chose.

There should be an ‘UPLOAD’ link where you can fill in various information about your media (e.g. description, title), find the file on your computer, and upload.

Once it’s uploaded the webpage should show you a link to the new content. You can now share a link to that page wherever you want.

Quite often there’s also a button marked ‘embed’ or ‘<>’ which will give you the code to put that content on another webpage, such as a blog post.

However, note that most embed code will not work in blogs on WordPress.com. Instead, see if the service has a ‘shortcode’ for embedding media on WordPress, by looking for it on this page: http://en.support.wordpress.com/shortcodes/ and following the relevant link to see instructions on how to use them.

Uploading within a blogpost, e.g. on WordPress

If you want to include your images in a blog post, then create a new post, and when you’re ready to add that media look for the ‘Add media’ button (in WordPress it’s just above the formatting buttons).

Click on this and you should have the option to upload media from your computer (in the same way as you would upload to a specialist service, above), or grab it from a URL.

If you’re doing the latter, make sure you use the image URL, not the URL of the page containing it. This, for example, is just a webpage URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/onlinejournalismblog/6078887277/in/photostream – to find out the URL of the image you’d have to right-click it and select ‘Copy image URL’ or – if you’re on Flickr – select the size you want to look at, and then on that page right-click the image and select ‘Copy image URL’.

An image URL should end in .jpg or .png or .gif

Note also that many Flickr images have ‘All rights reserved’ and you may not be able to embed those images. Contact the copyright holder to ask if you can have a copy to upload.

Once you’ve chosen the image to upload or embed, you’ll need to add descriptions such as a title and alternative description before clicking ‘Insert’ or similar to add it to your post.

If you’re uploading audio to a blog you need to make sure that your blog is set up to host audio. More information on that here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/audio/

In a nutshell, with audio in particular it’s generally easier to upload to a specialist service like SoundCloud or Audioboo first, and then use one of the shortcodes listed under ‘Audio’ here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/shortcodes/ – make sure to click through to the full instructions.

Video presents similar problems: make sure your blog can host it, and that the video itself is in the right format if you really want to upload it directly. In most cases, however, simply uploading to YouTube and adding a link in your post will automatically mean it is converted and embedded.

Freedom of Information news site Wobbing Europe reports on proposed legislation regarding ‘personal data’ which could impact on both journalists and citizens, based on a 2003 case:

“Bodil Lindqvist, a Swedish maintenance worker, and part time webmaster learned this the hard way nine years ago.

“In 1998 she built a website to inform young confirmands about the people who worked for the local parish in Alseda, a small congregation in the Swedish Protestant Church.

“Five years later the EU-court found that Lindqvist had violated the data protection directive by ”processing sensitive personal data”. Bodil Lindqvist had mentioned – in a humoristic way, but still – that one of the persons had injured her foot, and health data are by definition sensitive”

“… The EU-commission regards the case as a platform for departure for the future.
This is shown in a classified, but leaked, document on the data protection package presented by the Commission in January this year.

“In the proposed regulation […] anything uploaded to the net, and thus accessible to the public, shall be regulated by the proposed data protection rules. And as a general rule the following will be a no go-zone:

”The processing of personal data, revealing race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religion or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership, and the processing of genetic data or data concerning health or sex life or criminal convictions and offences or related security measures shall be prohibited.” (Article 9.1)

“Hence the proposal clashes head on with all kind of net publishing, as well as with the fundamental right of freedom of expression.

“Should media ask for permission to publish a person’s political opinions or ethical background? Can we blog about Barroso’s political past, without his consent?

“To avoid such a conflict the Commission suggests a way out. Some will get at free ride:

“Member states shall provide for exemptions for data processing ”solely for journalistic purposes or the purpose of artistic or literary expression” (article 80).”