Posted on February 5, 2009
Reporter’s guide to multimedia proficiency (RGMP 1)
As promised in my last blog post, I’m going to offer some guidance for journalists who are ready to learn how to transform themselves into multimedia journalists. I think there will be 15 parts, of which this is the first. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might not learn much that is new to you, but even so, maybe this series will put things into clearer perspective for you.
If you are a journalist (or journalism student) who feels like you need to catch up and upgrade your skills, I suggest that you do more than simply read these posts. Put the advice into use immediately — the same day, if possible. Don’t wait! (You’ve waited long enough already.)
Part 1: Read blogs and use RSS
Even if you are already reading blogs regularly, I urge you to add some blogs that are not strictly about journalism or news. Two that I recommend strongly:
- Mashable: If you were one of the last people to hear about Twitter, or you still don’t know how Facebook works, then reading this frequently updated news blog will put you into the loop. All the Web 2.0 and social networking trends, tools, and sites are covered here.
- ReadWriteWeb: Although this blog is similar to Mashable (and they are often redundant), you will find some good stuff here that Mashable will not have — NYTimes Exposes 2.8 Million Articles in New API, for example. (Twitter was all a-tweet about this yesterday.)
Why? Because you will better understand how (and why) the media world around us is changing if you stay up-to-date on the changes. People who understand what is happening are less likely to become road kill.
You certainly don’t have to read every post closely. But scanning these posts daily will definitely help you become more savvy about digital media, online and mobile.
Using an RSS reader
If you have not started using an RSS reader yet, please do that right away! Our former student Megan Taylor wrote a very clear, simple introduction to RSS. I suggest that you give no thought to which RSS reader you should try — just start with Google Reader. It’s free, easy to use, and ubiquitous. This video gives you a one-minute tour of how it works:
If that’s not enough for you, then learn “how to use Google Reader like a rock star” — from a post at Mashable.
Why take the time to set up and learn to use Google Reader? First and foremost, it’s 100 times more efficient than using your browser bookmarks (or favorites). It’s like your customized Page One, ready for you on any computer with Internet access, at home or at work, and even on your phone. It’s better than an aggregate of all the wire services — because YOU set it up to bring you what YOU want.
How to find blogs that are worth your time
Of the millions of blogs that are updated frequently, only a few are really going to help you become smarter about the changing landscape of journalism — or your own beat, or your local community. Generally one good blog leads to another. Just look at the blogroll — the list of blog links in the sidebar. This blog has one. Almost every blog has one. Try a blog out before you add it to Google Reader. Be selective. Your time is valuable.
If you want a place to start sampling, try Best of the Journalism Blogs, from Journalism.co.uk.
Update (Nov. 3, 2009): Mark Luckie of 10,000 Words posted a great tutorial yesterday — The Beginner’s Guide to RSS.