Teaching Online Journalism

Interactive news graphic: Minimum wage

Did Chris Strimbu — longtime interactive news designer — leave the Los Angeles Times? That appears to be the case from this very well-designed graphic online at Yahoo! News:

Minimum Wages Worldwide

Lovers of factoids will enjoy this graphic a lot. As someone pointed out on the ONA Listserv, though, there isn’t a heck of a lot of context here. For example, what does your minimum wage buy you — in terms of food or housing in the country in question?

Amy Webb likes it and gives her reasons.

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SXSW finalists are online now

The SXSW Web award finalists have been posted. I have never had the chance to go to this huge festival of music, film, video and interactive design in Austin, Texas, but someday … !

Well, it is just plain dangerous to start looking at such lists of award-nominated Web sites. The very first one on the list is CDX, an interactive video-based game (built in Flash) from the BBC equivalent of the U.S.’s History Channel. I was sucked into the game immediately and had to tear myself away to get some work done! (Yes, even though it’s Saturday.)

The opening premise is that a young British man has been injured in a motorcycle crash. He has amnesia, so you and he are both trying to piece his life together one bit at a time. An ancient Roman dagger is involved (you’ll learn that very quickly), and there is a distinct and very enjoyable tie-in to history throughout.

Two cool things I discovered in the short time I spent exploring:

(1) The game includes a comprehensive encyclopedia of ancient Roman history — this takes rather too long to load each time you take it off the bookshelf, but I love the concept. Of course, the prop of using a book within a game is reminiscent of Myst — and many other computer games.

(2) The self-contained Flash game links out to a Typepad blog where you can find additional clues. The login is sophie_bakewell and the password is the name of a river that Caesar famously crossed. Maybe they should have linked the encyclopedia outside the game too, for the sake of efficiency. Usually I am annoyed when a link takes me outside a Flash package, but with this Typepad blog, I really liked it. It made the game seem more real, because you get the clue to go to the blog in an e-mail you read on our hero’s laptop. So you click the link in the e-mail, and naturally it takes you to a real Web site. Neat.

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Multimedia: Explore an interactive location

Not journalism — no, not at all. But a really interesting use of Flash and a kind of interactivity. And video too!

You know those caveman TV commercials from Geico, the insurance company? (Yes, the ones that don’t feature the gecko.) Well, it turns out the caveman has a pretty sweet apartment.

Via Chris Jordan in my del.icio.us network.

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Opening the gates: WSJ frees video

Copy and share –

Dow Jones, the publishers of The Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch and Barron’s, has provided the public with the ability to take the embedded code from video clips on the Wall Street Journal site. To view the videos, you don’t need to subscribe to the WSJ. You can grab this code by simply pressing the “get code” button on the player [below].

This from Beet.tv (via I Want Media).

You do not need a subscription to view Wall Street Journal videos. Via a very, very simple link in the Journal’s Brightcove video player (slick!), you can copy the code in two clicks and then embed it on your own site.

This development, combined with the Journal’s recent print and online redesigns, indicates — to me, at least — that the Journal is thinking smart about where it’s going.

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Print? Sulzberger does not care

Arthur Sulzberger, owner and publisher of The New York Times:

“I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either,” he says.

Quoted at Haaretz.com, which has published an interview with Sulzberger from the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Haaretz is an English-language Israeli newspaper.)

Sulzberger also said:

“We aren’t ignoring what’s happening. We understand that the newspaper is not the focal point of city life as it was 10 years ago.

“Once upon a time, people had to read the paper to find out what was going on in theater. Today there are hundreds of forums and sites with that information,” he says. “But the paper can integrate material from bloggers and external writers. We need to be part of that community and to have dialogue with the online world.”

Fascinating stuff! Click over and read more.

Found via Techmeme.

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Enter now: EPpy Awards deadline

The entry deadline for this year’s EPpy Awards is Thursday, Feb. 15 — one week from today. Go here to enter.

The EPpys are sponsored by Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek, and they honor the best “media-affiliated Internet services.” (How corporate is that?!)

New this year: The Knight News Innovation Award, which will honor “creative uses of technology that extend the audience for news in the public interest and expand the means and places by which people receive news and make news more engaging and interactive.” (My reporting professor would have docked me a whole letter grade if I had ever written a sentence like that one.)

The fee for each entry is $150, except in the College Newspaper category ($50 per entry).

The 2006 winners are listed — but NOT LINKED, which gives you a pretty good idea of how clued in these people are (oops, sorry, but I couldn’t resist). However, last year ELPAIS.es was the winner for Best Overall Design of an Internet Service (over 1 million unique monthly visitors), and that is a very-much deserved award, in my opinion. They have since changed their domain name to ELPAIS.com, and the site is even better this year.

Last year there were more than 400 entries from 150 sites. Okay, that’s almost $60,000 in entry fees. So why aren’t the winners displayed like this? I mean, the EPpys could afford to build a database, yes?

See links to other online journalism competitions.

Even though I have a snarky attitude toward competitions, it is a fact that most people in journalism are very impressed if you have won one of these awards. So, go for it.

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No more monoliths: How we get news today

Steve Outing talked to a variety of people about the future of news, and the one whose views matched my own was Robin Sloan, manager of new media strategy at Current TV:

“I think ‘news’ just becomes a less distinct category. You don’t sit down with a newspaper, or even a news website, or even a super wireless e-paper device, for 10 minutes in the morning to very formally ‘get your news.’ Rather, you get all sorts of news and information — from the personal to the professional to the political — throughout the day, in little bits and bursts, via many different media. With any luck, in 5-10 years the word ‘news’ will be sort of confusing: Don’t you just mean ‘life’?”

This is the way I already get my news today. Largely because I’m in front of a computer at least six hours a day — that’s just the most convenient thing for me.

But also because my cell phone has a fully functional Web browser and I have an unlimited data package. When I’m in the doctor’s waiting room, I read my RSS feeds — on my phone. When I think of seeing a movie while riding in a friend’s car or eating lunch, I check the local movie showtimes (via Google) — on my phone.

Robin went on to say:

“A key point is that news will continue to be delivered on many media — websites, blogs, TV, phones, pamphlet-y things, those little java jackets they have at coffee shops, whatever. It’s not about everything going digital and never seeing a molecule of real matter again. But it IS about the death of the monolithic news experience.”

That has happened already — at least for me.

What’s more, I think it has always been that way for my current students, most of whom were born within two years of 1987. When they were 10 years old, the Web was already commonplace.

I teach a class about the history of communication technologies. The first great technology of communication is writing – yes, just writing, which humans came up with about 5,000 years ago. Because not every society had writing, anthropologists and others have been able to study tribes and other groups who have a purely oral culture — a culture without written history, stories or religion.

The many scholars who have written about this difference make a huge point of one thing in particular: We who have been born into a writing culture, a society inundated in written signs and texts and knowledge, can hardly even imagine what that other kind of life is like.

A lot of people today, including many who are making million-dollar decisions for media corporations, are having the same difficulty. They cannot imagine, cannot accurately understand, what the digital culture is. They are caught in a middle place, in the culture that developed after the invention of world’s first mass production machine — the printing press. That culture is being replaced by the next one. Now.

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