Just a quick post to pimp two products/tools/sites I use every day — neither of which is nearly as famous as some companies that announced a billion-dollar deal yesterday.
Pinboard. This is NOT the famous Pinterest that everyone is talking about. It has a few minor similarities (a “pin” metaphor, for one), but it’s not competing in the same arena. Pinboard has replaced Delicious for me. I used to save bookmarks to Delicious. It made finding those bookmarks again very easy and fast. It let me tag my bookmarks and write descriptions for them. I could make bookmarks private, if I chose. I could easily share my bookmarks with students, friends, colleagues.
Then Delicious was acquired (April 2011), and redesigned, and it turned to junk. Some things I liked about it did not work the same way anymore. But most important for me — it became really slow.
Enter Pinboard. When I moved to Indonesia to teach for 10 months, the slowness of Delicious became unbearable. (I’m not going to discuss how slow the Internet is here. But trust me, it’s slow. That is, when it works at all.) I use my bookmarks a lot — I save a lot, and I search a lot. If they’re not fast, it slows down my whole workday. So I became desperate to find a viable replacement.
Pinboard is not free. It’s a one-person operation, and that person claims he will not sell Pinboard and wreck things. He says that by paying for the service, we make that possible. Take it or leave it. I paid (less than $10), and I am very happy. It’s a one-time fee.
I transferred all my Delicious bookmarks to Pinboard. It was easy. And fast. Check it out.
Instapaper. This one is free, but I love it so much, I subscribed for a dollar a month. That is wholly optional. Instapaper lets you read articles from the Web without all the surrounding garbage (ads), and in a nice, big, readable font. It’s pleasant and attractive.
If that were all Instapaper did, it wouldn’t be very noteworthy. But what hooked me on it is that Instapaper can send all those articles — the full text, with no garbage — to my Kindle. Using wi-fi (not WhisperNet), this is 100 percent free. I got hooked on this so fast! Every time I come across a long article or blog post that interests me, I click the little bookmarklet for Instapaper in my Web browser. The article (and its URL, so I can find it again online if necessary) are saved to my Instapaper account. I send them to my Kindle by going to my Account page at Instapaper and clicking “Send Now.” It’s awesome. (Read the FAQ for details.)
Recently I paid $4.99 for the Instapaper iPhone app (iPad and iPod Touch too). Sweet! While I still send everything to my Kindle, sometimes I’m stuck somewhere without it — but I always have my iPhone. The app downloads all your stuff from Instapaper to the phone and lets you read it offline — this is quite important to me here in Indonesia because I only use my (U.S. locked) iPhone with wi-fi; I don’t have phone or data service enabled (I use an Android phone here). The readability on the iPhone is fantastic. (I would assume it’s nice on the iPad too.)
So if you’re a big online reader and a compulsive bookmarker (like me), I recommend these two tools very highly. Let me know what you think.
The recent case of the president of Hungary does not involve any transgression of journalism ethics. Yet plagiarism is a plague in our high schools and universities — in every country around the world, so far as I can tell. As a journalist and an educator, I consider this an ethical issue for everyone.
We all know plagiarism is wrong. The students who do it know — full well — that it’s wrong. But when they are caught, they claim they didn’t do it, or they didn’t know. They always beg to be let off, free from consequences. As a university professor for more than 12 years, I can assure you their excuses are dead wrong. Wrong, in every case. Lies. Because they knew what they were doing when they did it. They only thought they would never be caught.
You can’t copy 16 pages by accident, let alone 180 pages (see the Hungarian case). It’s absurd to say so.
I was surprised, but very happy, to learn that Semmelweis University, Budapest, rescinded Hungarian president Pal Schmitt’s doctoral degree after finding evidence of extensive plagiarism in his dissertation. Even though his doctoral dissertation was accepted in 1992, and that’s 20 years in the past, I support the university’s decision.
The idea expressed in that essay was this: Graduate students from Africa tend to select universities in Australia, Britain, Canada and France — instead of the United States — because the entrance and graduation requirements are less demanding in those other countries. The author suggested that different standards should be applied for applicants from Africa (because they don’t get a high quality of undergraduate education there).
I think that standards are standards, and you don’t drop your standards just because someone is not able to meet them.
Lower standards are exactly what we support if we go soft on people who plagiarize. If we accept (or forgive) plagiarized work — if we say too much time has passed (like 20 years) — and forgive the dishonesty of those writers, then we demonstrate that others can get away with it. If we believe someone who says he or she didn’t know, we tempt them to do it again.
The CHE essay notes that “Africans consider an American education one of the best in the world” — if that is true, it’s because our universities have a reputation for high standards.
The expectation of writing (academic writing and journalism writing) is that something original will be produced, and all parts that are not original will be sourced, attributed, connected to their points of origin. This is a good standard, I think, and I want us all to uphold it.
Our graduate student E. K. Sommer recently asked for advice on how to record phone interviews, so I pointed her toward an old (but still very popular) post on this blog: Recording phone calls: For reporters.
Sommer, however, found a better solution, and she agreed that I could share it here.
She tried about four different approaches; none worked very well or, if it did work, it was “enormously complicated.” She added: “There is a lot of DSL interference in trying to tape directly through the phone jack.” That was interesting for me, as I have not recorded a phone interview for quite some time.
NOTE: “Recording conversations by phone without the explicit permission of all whose voices are being recorded is a criminal offense in some jurisdictions. It is best to ask for permission at the top of the conversation and make sure the assent is recorded, too.” — Jim Franklin (see below in comments)
A series of (temporarily) free “master classes” about multimedia journalism just got under way. Andy Bull, a journalism trainer based in the United Kingdom, is offering the classes online in a limited-release format: Each will be available online, free, for a short time, and then disappear behind a paywall.
A list of 12 topic areas represents the 12 classes (follow the link above to see the list). They include travel writing, business and financial journalism, and the ever-popular (among students, that is) celebrity, showbiz and arts reporting.
I looked at “Masterclass 46: Technology journalism,” the only one available so far (and first on the list of 12). In it, Andy explains what a technology journalist does, with links to relevant examples and videos. The class is broken up into several Web pages, so at the bottom of each one, you click through to the next. The six sections are logically organized, and quite lengthy:
Masterclass 46: Technology journalism
How to become a technology journalist
How to find, sell and tell technology stories
What’s wrong with technology journalism
Star technology journalists
The tech jobs are there, the tech journalists are not
There is a lot of very good material here, and I appreciate the investment of time that Andy has put in. This might be an excellent resource for certain kinds of journalism courses, or for young journalists who have not yet decided on an area of specialization.
I wouldn’t call these “classes,” however. They are readings (with videos). They don’t offer assignments or exercises. But that’s only a quibble; they can obviously be incorporated into classes.
To get unlimited access to the classes, one must subscribe to MMJ (by buying Andy’s textbook, titled Multimedia Journalism, published in 2010). The book is available from Amazon in both hardcopy and Kindle formats. (Disclaimer: I will get a small kickback if you buy using these links.)
Sometimes it’s a challenge to find appropriate examples to show to students. Of course we professors love to show them work by top multimedia journalists — but that can be intimidating. Seeing good work by other students can inspire undergraduates to step up and do better.
All of these audio slideshows were produced by students. The links were submitted to a Facebook group (Social Journalism Educators) by educators. All gave their permission for me to post the links here.
Slideshows by various J102 students, Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa), nicely displayed in a WordPress blog — all are Soundslides. Most of these have well-edited audio, interviews with multiple people, and good natural sound. I found a lot of the interview audio to be too quiet, though. I should be able to hear your audio without putting on headphones. Submitted by Chris Snider.
Service with a Smile: Taylor Young shows a lot of variety in the photos, including a lot of close-ups — which is great. You can tell the photographer spent time with her subject. There’s no nat sound, though, and the audio quality is a bit thin, as if the recording device wasn’t a very good one. This slideshow has been produced as a video and uploaded to YouTube. Submitted by Herbert Lowe, who teaches at Marquette University (Milwaukee). He also recommended this series (open each story to find the slideshow): How Service Agencies Work, from Inside and Out. They are also slideshows in video format.
The Magic Castle (Vimeo) should have been titled “The Mecca for Magicians,” in my opinion. Produced by a student at USC (Los Angeles), it was picked up by KPCC public radio. Submitted by Andrew Lih, who teaches at USC Annenberg.
How to Make a Tie-Dye Cupcake Cake (Soundslides) is narration only, no interview and no nat sound. Submitted by Kelly Fincham, who teaches at Hofstra University (Hempstead, N.Y.).
Update (April 6): Our students at Padjadjaran University (Bandung, Indonesia) made a Soundslides about a big demonstration against a proposed hike in national fuel prices: Demonstrasi Menolak Rencana Kenaikan BBM. Very nice photo variety and great nat sound. No interview, though (what a pity).
I’m often asked if I think the Soundslides software is still important — or should we still be teaching it? My answer: I don’t teach software. I teach journalism.
I still like Soundslides (a lot) because it’s easy to teach AND easy to learn. It allows the learner to concentrate on the story. I like it for other reasons too, but that’s the main one. It’s a good bridge to video shooting and editing. I like to require a caption for every photo so that students get into the habit of collecting names, ages, and other identifying information for all the people in their stories.
I created a Storify (below) for participants in a recent workshop about data journalism. The purpose is to enable them to explore the subject further on their own. You can compare the original version at the Storify site. To make it appear in this post, I simply embedded (not “Export”) the code from Storify. When I update this on the Storify site, it is automatically updated here as well.
Note: If you don’t see anything below, it probably means that Storify is “overloaded.”