100 Things I’m Learning at Journalism Interactive 2013: A Somewhat Live Blog

Hello from the Hippodrome.  Over the next two days, I will be blogging (somewhat) live about everything I am learning at Journalism Interactive 2013, “the conference on journalism education and digital media.”

The Hippodrome, a theater in Gainesville, Fla., near the University of Florida, is serving as the HQ for this fantastically geeky gathering– one filled with program sessions sporting buzzwords such as data journalism, mobile journalism, social media ethics, branding, and the “unicorn” that is the “journalist/designer/coder.”



Set-up and mic check prior to the opening session Friday morning in the Hippodrome.

My unofficial goal is to accrue 100 practical and inspiring tips, tools, links, quotes, and anecdotes from the main talks, break-out training sessions, and teach-a-thons I’ll be attending.  Check out this post repeatedly for (hopefully) regular updates.

100 Things I’m Learning at Journalism Interactive 2013

1. After the audio went haywire during the opening video, Diane McFarlin, dean of the UF College of Journalism and Communications, kicked things off by confirming, “That’s your first lesson in digital: A lot can go wrong.”

2. The three basic skills to learn, practice, teach, and preach as a mantra in our digital era: Map it.  Grab It.  Scrape It.  Click here to learn more.

3. Do you suffer from code fear or math fear?  These afflictions refer to the high panic and brain freeze that occur within some individuals when opening up massive data sets or staring at tons of code and not knowing where or how to start making sense of them– or how to create quality journalism from them.  The key confidence-inspiring truth beginners must come to believe in: It all CAN be learned.  As Northwestern University j-prof Jeremy Gilbert reminded the room, “Hey, we learned AP Style.”

4. The digital age is NOT about memorization.  Instead, work to know coding and data mining well enough to know how and where to look for what you need.  As Lisa Williams at Placeblogger mentioned: Even people who have been in the digital industry 20 years don’t start out on a task knowing how to do everything with it.  They know how to find stuff and hack their way through it.

5. Nobody builds anything from scratch anymore.  So teach students and yourself how to browse “the giant junkyard of code”– including places like GitHub— that offers foundations, inspirations, solutions, and stopgaps to help you complete a digital project.

6. Veteran journalist and UF journalism master lecturer Mike Foley talked about spending a half hour teaching his reporting students simply about the comma.  He asked the opening panel where a lesson like that fits in with the increasing digital emphasis of journalism classes and curricula.  Gilbert’s response: “You don’t think that a comma in code also matters?” (Cue audience applause.)

At the start of the opening session, longtime journalist and UF master journalism lecturer Mike Foley provides JI attendees with some entertainment– drawing attention to a pole on the Hippodrome stage being utilized in the theater’s current show.  The photo’s display prior to Friday’s keynote address on a big screen drew gales of laughter. Photo by STEVE JOHNSON, UF College of Journalism and Communications Visual Coordinator, @journo2go

7. Apparently, coding is a liberal art.  Click here to see a live blog of the presentation explaining this concept.


Opening panel: “Breeding the Unicorn: The Journalist/Designer/Coder.” Left to right: Foley, Northwestern University’s Jeremy Gilbert, Placeblogger’s Lisa Williams, and Texas State University’s Cindy Royal.

8. We have to get beyond the notion: “I have an idea.  I need to get a tech geek.”  As Placeblogger’s Williams said about one of her motivations for becoming a programming superhero: “I wanted to eliminate begging and cajoling from my repertoire.”

9. Texas State University professor Cindy Royal: “We need to come to a consensus: Is it dat-aah or date-uh?” A show of hands in the “Data: What Journalists and Academics Can Learn From One Another” session revealed a majority favored dat-aah.

10. Professors, we need to teach and motivate students to get beyond their core digital skills and niche areas of expertise. As Gilbert said, “If they don’t stretch, you have done them a disservice.”

11. Students, tell potential employers about your side projects. Placeblogger’s Williams shared an anecdote about a student applying to work with her. She sported a typical undergrad resumé– her most recent job was at an ice cream shop. Williams said it wasn’t until “her hand was on the door” and she was about to leave at interview’s end that she mentioned a side project– a blog she started about reality TV that grabs 2,000 hits a day. As Williams put it, “THAT is the type of work I want to know about– something she built from scratch that is getting attention.” Williams sat her back down, crumpled up her resumé, and told her to never use it again. Instead, she told her to promote her digital work, even if it’s outside the realm of what typically counts as “professional experience.”

12. Writing still matters, a ton. Almost everything you encounter online includes some form of writing– even videos have descriptions– so the consequences of poor writing are higher than ever.

13. Mastering and refreshing your digital skills is like going to the gym– it is easy to fall off the wagon. Placeblogger’s Williams said we must regularly carve out a specific amount of time devoted simply to learning.

14. Gilbert said schools and the profession often build up the idea of a journalist and digital guru wrapped into one as being mythical and basically unachievable. And yet, ironically, “We create these job descriptions that Jesus himself would not qualify for.”

15. The traditional introductory reporting course needs to be reinvented ASAP. One alternative pitched to JI attendees: Start by defining and sharing what journalism means.  Focus on interviewing, reporting, ethics, news judgment, and the many different ways journalism content can be created and shared– rather than jumping straight into ledes and text, text, text.

16. Two resources being bandied about: Codecademy (“the easiest way to learn how to code”) and Lynda.com (“an online learning company that helps anyone learn software, design, and business skills”).


17. University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Matt Waite said he can teach students in a single afternoon how to work with info in Excel spreadsheets and Google Fusion Tables and embed a chart into a blog post. In his words, “It’s not rocket science . . . but from a journalism professor’s perspective, I have just handed them a loaded gun. Just because you can put data on the web does not mean you SHOULD put data on the web.” He cited, for example, the controversial map posted by The Journal News of gun permit holders living in two New York counties.


18. A pair of data discovery tools: The Overview Project (“an open-source tool to help journalists find stories in large amounts of data, by cleaning, visualizing and interactively exploring large document and data sets”) and Many Eyes (“data visualization tools from IBM. Site allows users to upload data and then produce graphic representations for others to view and comment upon”). But, as Waite said, “Don’t over-think this. Excel charts are great.” He said his jaw almost hit the floor after seeing a recent interview in which acclaimed statistician Nate Silver said almost every data set he presents comes from Excel– he’s just especially good at styling them.


19. Want to build support for a project?  To gather potential sources, funding, collaborators or, as Waite put it, “warm bodies to help you build it, put it on the Internet.”  Start a blog or website about it and tweet about it.  People will come.

20. What’s stopping many journalism organizations from doing more data-driven projects? Waite said it’s a “pipeline problem.”  In his words, “We are manufacturing kids who can write stories.  We are not manufacturing kids who can analyze data.” He said at the moment he would be able to get students who have reporting, data analysis, data visualization, and computational thinking skills a job anywhere in the world.

21. Must-read free web book alert: The Data Journalism Handbook.


22. Things you still hear in newsrooms that represent old ways of thinking, according to Digital First Media editor-in-chief Jim Brady: “That’s not how we do things.”; “That’s not my job.”; “The business people will deal with that.”; “If it’s such a good idea, how come no one else has done it?”; and “This will destroy journalism.

23. In the mobile news game, summarization may soon be passé. The new storytelling method: atomization. Specifically, stories featured by the innovative news app Circa now include only “atom points”: facts, quotes, stats, and images/video.  According to Circa’s David Cohn (a digital journalism God), “You still get the important information. We just cut out the fluff.”


24. During his portion of the post-lunch “New Models for News” panel, Cohn also mentioned the term Screenularity.  What is it?  According to a PBS MediaShift piece he posted last year, “In the future, consumers will not make a distinction between their television, phone or computer screens. The only difference will be the size of each screen, its placement and, therefore, what you most likely do with it. But one will not call the handheld-sized screen their ‘mobile phone.’  That you might use it to make phone calls will be happenstance.  You will just as easily make a call on the 15-inch screen at your desk or the 40-inch screen in the living room.”

25. New class to add to your curriculum: tech reporting.  According to Cohn, one way to give students a leg-up on learning about the technology they need to know is to have them report upon it, long-term and in-depth.

26. New definition of news?  According to Now This News general manager Eason Jordan, “We define news differently. . . . If it’s in your social feed, it’s news.”


27. Platform agnostic is a completely backward term, according to Brady. Everything about how, when, and where people interact with the news and what they want from their news content is different on different devices.

28. To up your mobile news awesomeness, don’t just focus on what works best in terms of journalism content.  Also study the heck out of mobile user content engagement patterns– what people look at, when they look at it, how long they spend with it, what keeps them coming back, what leads to greater responsiveness and interactivity, etc.

29. The average age of cable news viewers: Fox News, 65; CNN, 63; and MSNBC, 59.

30. Now This News turns away potential hires even prior to their interviews if they cannot answer upfront questions such as “Who is the leader of North Korea?” and “Who is the Senate Majority Leader?”

Now This News general manager Eason Jordan speaks during the post-lunch “New Models for News” panel.

31. Within higher ed., the hiring process for tech gurus possibly needs to evolve. Placeblogger’s Williams, recalling her response to a previous application that bored her: “I have to have a statement of teaching effectiveness.  What the hell is that?

32. What Waite tells his students, in respect to the importance of acquiring basic number crunching and data journalism skills: “I will not let you graduate if you don’t know the formula for percent change.

33. When teaching programming, shift the initial focus AWAY from the coding. According to Gilbert, that is like teaching about Watergate by starting with AP Style. Focus instead on what can be done with code– including examples of innovative, impacting projects– then get to the nitty gritty.  Bottom line: Don’t focus on what many see as the barrier first.

34. A good rule of thumb for all digital activity: Don’t do anything for free you wouldn’t do for free indefinitely.

35. For mobile news video, what are the best strategies to limit an interviewee’s long-winded answer?  According to Ron Yaros, a University of Maryland professor of new media and mobile journalism: Tell the interviewee upfront you are looking for answers in the ballpark of 20 seconds.  Also tell them to watch you– if they see you shaking your head, it’s time to wrap up.  (You’re shaking your head because your mobile-holding arms are remaining steady.)   If all else fails, surreptitiously press stop and upload the clip you need onto Qik while still listening to the interviewee ramble– all without them knowing.

36. For mobile-steadying devices, Yaros recommends the $69 Zgrip iPhone Jr.

37. Some mobile video shooting tips, via Yaros: Hold the phone at the featured individual’s eye level.  Extend your arms all the way out– don’t hold the mobile device similar to how you hold a camera when taking a still shot.  Tell the individual to look at you, not the camera.  Do NOT turn your screen sideways.  And get close, real close.

38. The average person watches video online for 26 seconds. On the phone, 15 to 20 second clips are ideal.

39. “Instant audience feedback” site used by Yaros to gauge reactions from attendees at the end of his talk: Poll Everywhere.


40. Want to grade students’ news stories on the iPad?  Try the $9.99 iAnnotate app.  It syncs with services like Dropbox, offers various mark-up options, and allows you to record voice comments up to a minute.  A few other recommended apps: Notability ($.99), PDF Max ($7.99), and ScreenChomp (free).

41. Teach students about data visualization techniques through a local coffee exercise, one created and previously carried out by SMU prof Jake Batsell.  Click here or on the screenshot below to learn more.


42. One fun early assignment for an online journalism class, created and shared during the teach-a-thon by University of Connecticut journalism professor Marie Shanahan: Have students assess their own digital reputations.  Through Google searches of their names, they should evaluate how prominent, positive, accurate, surprising, old, and out of control the items related to their personal and professional selves are.  Build off the assignment with discussions of how and why reputations are impacted by Google prints and the role journalists play in others’ online identities.

43. Some more suggested data visualization tools: Tableau Public (“Within minutes, our free data visualization tool can help you create an interactive viz and embed it in your website or share it. Anyone can do it, it’s that easy– and it’s free.”), Infogr.am (“Create infographics and interactive online charts. It’s free and super-easy!”), and iCharts (“Accelerates data storytelling with simplistic, interactive, visualization tools for big and small data providers.”).

44. Justin Karp, WJLA-TV digital operations manager and University of Maryland adjunct instructor, describes the online mapping program Esri as “Google maps on HGH. . . . I adore this platform.”  One other suggested mapping tool: BatchGeo.

45. Apps alert!  Via Allissa Richardson.  LivestreamUstreamBambuserScribbleLive, and CoverItLive. Audio productionVoddioAudioboo, and Skype.  Content storageDropboxAdobe Revel, and Google Drive.  SocialiSocial ConnectSocialtape, and SoundCloud.

Allissa Richardson at Bowie State University presented some of the “Best Mobile Reporting Apps” during the JI Teach-A-Thon.

46. Matt Boggie, director of technology strategy for The New York Times Research & Development Lab, said Friday evening in the JI keynote address, “The web is evolving faster than our understanding of it.”  According to Boggie, there have been four stages in the web’s history: the static web, the social web, the responsive web, and what Boggie calls “atmospheric networking.”  This latter stage goes beyond ubiquitous computing or the “Internet of things” (“toasters and watches talking to us”).  Instead, he said, “It’s a bit like air.  It’s sort of around you. . . . It always feels magical, like it surrounds you.”

47. Devices we think of as mobile are increasingly domestic.  According to stats cited by Boggie, 60 percent of people’s smartphone use and 79 percent of their tablet use occurs at home.

48. Another interesting stat: 45 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 use their mobile phones as their primary device for Internet access.  Think about that for a second.  Are laptops that passé?  Are tablets still too expensive?  Is mobile Internet use upstaging actual phone calls, texting, and app fun?

49. An innovative social news experience: the New York Times Compendium.  Simply put, it’s a way to ferret out and fashion Times material into historical scrapbooks of sorts.  The official background: It “invites readers . . . to use articles, imagery, videos, and quotations to tell your own stories using New York Times content.  Each collection has a description that you can use to introduce the collection as a whole, and each item in your collection has a place for you to describe what was important, interesting, or funny about it.”


50. Boggie highlighted a number of innovative and all-encompassing devices that may soon weave their way into our lives and news production cycles.  One example: Google glasses.  As Boggie asked, “What type of news and information do we want to push on someone when they have that on?”

51. Yes, readers are evermore an integral part of the reporting experience.  Example: “Mysteries of a Nazi Photo Album,” a post on the New York Times photojournalism blog.  It is about a WWII-era photographer who grabbed incredible shots of both Nazis (even Hitler) and their victims.  Yet, the photog’s identity remained unknown– so the Times and a German media outlet shared some of the photos and what they knew about the individual with readers.  They asked for help.  Within hours, individuals had solved the mystery– and figured out who he was.


52. Sometimes, readers need to engage in an issue firsthand to better understand its significance or complexity.  One example: “The Future Military: Your Budget Strategy,” an opportunity to personally make the military cuts plaguing the Pentagon. Second example: Sweatshop, a “strategy game set in an offshore factory manufacturing clothes for Western high street retailers.”  As Boggie described it, “You’re running a company and have to make sure your workers don’t die.”  It’s aimed at raising awareness of the factories’ heinous conditions, specifically targeting younger individuals who “are likely to buy cheap, fashionable clothes from high street retailers who drive down their prices by employing sweatshop labor.”

53. In 2014, $48 billion will be spent on advertising in the U.S., according to Boggie. Roughly $11 billion of that will be devoted to mobile advertising.  Of that portion, a mere five companies will claim $9 billion– Apple, Facebook, Google, Pandora (!), and Twitter.  The remaining $2 billion will be fought for by everyone else.  Boggie: “That’s a really small sliver.”

54. In his keynote’s conclusion, Boggie spoke big picture: “We’ve done some pretty amazing things so far [in the journalism field] and if we do this right [figuring out the next era of news] we might be able to climb out of the hole we’ve been in for a while.”

Matt Boggie, director of technology strategy for The New York Times Research & Development Lab, kicks off his Friday evening JI keynote address. Photo by STEVE JOHNSON, UF College of Journalism and Communications Visual Coordinator, @journo2go.

55. Placeblogger’s Lisa Williams rocked the Hippodrome yesterday talking big picture digital.  In a follow-up resources blog post she tweeted under the conference hashtag, she advised, “The web rewards ‘narrow comprehensiveness,’ or ‘everything about something.’  A site with a few restaurant reviews is nice; a site with all of them is Yelp.  What will you corner the market on, however small, or for however short a time?

56. On a resource page featured on SlideShare related to a talk she gave yesterday, digital journalism guru Amy Schmitz Weiss recommends data vis books by a pair of authors.  First, she suggests checking out Alberto Cairo’s “The Functional Art.”  Second, she hypes the works of Edward Tufte.  In her words, the books by Tufte and Cairo “communicate the importance of making data visualizations with the content leading the decision-making process as to its form.”

57. As Texas State University’s Cindy Royal asks in a tweet about the pic below— displaying a slide from Boggie’s Friday evening keynote talk: “What’s interesting about this chart?


58. We have officially entered the “teaching hospital” j-education age.  It seems to now be beyond simply talk.  In a Saturday morning panel, Boston University j-prof Michelle Johnson shared one example of the ‘hospital’ model in action: Boston University News Service, a daily student-run online news outlet affiliated with BU’s j-program (in this case, so far on the graduate level).  Motivation: “We need[ed] some opportunities to give our students a real world experience pretty much every day.”  Launch date: Election Night 2012.  Current status: Rocking out on digital news coverage on Winter Storm Nemo’s Boston impact.  Future direction: Uncertain.  Johnson said the initiative has definitely sported a dive-in, learn-as-you-go approach that has heavily thrown students into the creation process.

Screen shot 2013-02-09 at 9.40.11 AM

59. OK, so you’ve started a news service or long-term news project affiliated with your j-program.  The first step: Start a professional-looking site to share student work. Second, push, push, push to get the work picked up by professional outlets.  Among the suggestions thrown out in respect to this second step in a morning panel: In addition to the obvious editorial team, have interested students focus on marketing for the service or project.  Engage in “targeted promotional campaigns,” identifying and reaching out to outlets whose locations, slants or scopes makes them prime candidates for content pick-ups.  To this end, consider outlets that cover similar issues OR those that don’t– possibly due to lack of manpower or resources– and thus are in need of what your students can provide.  In addition, don’t wait until you have a final product to seek outside publication.  Bring the pros into the mix early in the process– possibly even enabling them to offer suggestions on editorial directions that may ultimately make the students’ work more attractive.

60. New York Times interactive news developer Derek Willis calls the actual typing in of data– versus directed requests or regular dump/feed arrangements– the last resort. Yet, he said it is absolutely something students “shouldn’t be afraid of and should be exposed to.”  According to Willis, you learn more about data by typing it in.  And the more time you spend with data, the more you figure out what’s wrong with it or what it says about the group that created it.

61. One other benefit of the data type-in option, according to ProPublica news applications developer Sisi Wei: If it requires that amount of work, it most likely means you are sitting on an exclusive.

62. Treat data like a human source.  Literally approach it as you would an interview with a person– including related prep, follow-ups, and serendipitous discoveries. Willis said there are benefits between interviewing data and a person.  Among them: Data won’t mock you for a stupid question, and “If you think of a question at two in the morning that you should have asked six hours ago, you can still ask the question.”

63. Warning: The data online that is free for the taking may not actually be the data you want.  The same goes for specific data sets you request.  In reality, according to Willis, “All data is dirty. . . . I haven’t found a data set yet that doesn’t have issues or problems.”  He said 70 percent of his time working with data is spent figuring out what’s wrong with it and fixing it, so he can then interview it.

64. Data should be treated like a funnel, Willis explained.  You want to start out with it broadly and then narrow it down.  Again, think of it like an interview.  You start with a question to establish a basic connection and open up the source.  As Willis put it, you don’t start with the make-or-break query like, “Do you beat your wife, senator?” Willis said to ask simple questions of your data early on and then become more complicated.

65. Two good ways to establish some data skills: Learn about what is being done with data by others locally and try to replicate it.  Or learn what is being done nationally or internationally and try to localize it.


66. On a PowerPoint slide featured during the Saturday morning data journalism panel: “Maps are great.  You don’t always need or want one.”

67. Be careful about suffering from the data journalist equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.  Yes, you spent weeks or months working on a data project.  You have been sweating its stats and dreaming in Fusion Tables.  It doesn’t mean you should write overly long, uber-complex stories about it.  And you should not expect everyone to dive into it and appreciate it like you do.

68. Know exactly what you need to visualize with the data at your disposal.  If you’re telling a location-based story, for example, make sure you have location data.  Bottom line, according to Wei: Always keep your ultimate purpose in mind– and make sure that purpose is clearly communicated.  Wei mentioned a quote she finds helpful– I believe from a fellow journalist– roughly paraphrased: “I never want to publish a headline above a story saying, ‘Here’s some data, I hope you find something interesting.‘”

69. When dealing with data, sometimes even sheer accuracy is inaccurate.  For example, Willis mentioned the payroll of a past Chicago Bulls team– so star-heavy that the top players earned absurdly high salaries while the rest of the team were playing for low, low, low figures.  When calculating it all and providing the team average, it of course fell somewhere in the middle of the stars and the rest.  BUT that average did not even come close to representing anyone on the team.  It was statistically correct, but not accurate.

70. You know that person who can gather and analyze and fact-check the heck out of data and then design– and redesign– appropriate visualizations for it.  “That person doesn’t exist,” said Willis.  “It’s not even healthy really.”  Instead, the data journalism panel recommended teams, cross-collaboration, and playing off individuals’ specific areas of expertise to report, build, and visualize the best data sets possible.

71. On almost every project, the data you show will not typically include 100 percent of the related data you have collected.  As Wei shared, it’s not that you’re hiding key facts.  You’re simply sparing readers from numerical rambling or info that will serve only to complicate or obscure the data set’s larger point(s).

72. Helpful data journalism book: The New Precision Journalism by Philip Meyer.

73. Once data is ready to be shared, one presentation option is to produce and continually oversee a big “evergreen project”– a database updated hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.  Three examples provided Ken Schwencke, a programmer and journalist working with the Los Angeles Times data desk: Homicides in the District, Homicide Watch D.C., and Homicide Report.


74. Another data share option: a single-serving page.  Two examples from Schwencke: “Deaths During the Riots” and Chicago homicides.

75. “As we get more advanced technology we want to use more advanced technology,” said Schwencke.  “But sometimes the oldies are the best.”  Wei pulled up one example: “Where Americans Stood This Election,” a Washington Post data vis displaying exit poll data from the 2012 presidential election.


76. Text on a PowerPoint slide during the data journalism talk: “How to manage data without driving everyone nuts: Git, PANDA, SQLite.”

77. Is campus crime data any good?  No.  Willis: “It’s never any good because most campus police departments are used to pre-editing, basically censorship.”

78. Data is, of course, ubiquitous.  Need to remind yourself or your students of that?  Head to your laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.  Check out your search and browser histories and call and text logs.  Possibly even work those checks into an exercise about the info they reveal about each user.  This suggestion by the data panel reminded me of The Gavin Project.

79. “Data on the web may not be the only data out there,” said Willis.  “We all run into ‘Well I Googled it and didn’t find it, so it doesn’t exist.'”  Cue audience laughter, while Willis made a face that screamed “Umm, no.”

80. Willis: “Use Excel as a gateway drug for data interviewing/exploration. . . . Some people may never go beyond Excel, and that’s fine.  You can do some amazing things with it.”

81. Want to see sample syllabi for some A-list social media classes?  Click here!

82. Haiku time!  Five of them, posted by Williams, specifically for “the data hacking newsroom.”

83. Historic day in mobile news: CNN had 13.9 million mobile page views on March 11, 2011.  And the network then boasted more than 1 million app downloads in the subsequent 10 days.  So, of course, the question (ask as a pop quiz in your classes): What happened on March 11, 2011??  Click here for the answer.

84. More than 30 percent of mobile users spend more time with news and turn to new sources for news, according to stats displayed by Poynter’s Regina McCombs.  What does that mean?  A quote from a New York Times staffer, again provided by McCombs: “Mobile increases consumption, it doesn’t cannibalize other products.

85. News consumption patterns depend on the device.  For example, people read more news on mobile devices before 11 a.m. and read more news on tablets after 5 p.m.

86. What should you teach students in an intro mobile reporting class?  A pioneering course at Florida Gulf Coast University focuses on the following with mobile: story judgment, simple video skills, interviewing, visual thinking, writing headlines and captions, and SEO.

87. Essential free ebook/ibook: Mobile Reporting Field Guide.


88. Mobile news writing must be interesting, accurate, and SHORT.  Two quotes to use as inspiration, shared by McCombs: 1) “Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.” (Aprocrypha)  2) “We need people skilled at making tapas.” (Mario Garcia)

89. Cool assignment alert!: “[A] photo-a-day project from the 20 students taking the Visual Communication course at Lehigh University.”


90. Mobile app development tools recommended by McCombs: AppMakr; ShoutEm; Mippin; TapLynx; and WordPress.

91. One fun idea from McCombs on utilizing the new 6-second mobile video app Vine: Have students pitch a story idea– or at least the teaser for an idea– in that brief time. (Obviously the key is getting to the thrust quickly.)

92. Other Vine reporting ideas: crowd reactions, Vine of the day (in spirit of photo of the day), and quick looks at big moments or everyday life.  A recent Poynter post shared some especially creative early Vine explorations.


93. ABC: Always Be Creating.  That is one of the 15 big tips for landing jobs in journalism and media shared in a session by WPTV Newschannel 5 investigative producer Lynn Walsh.  Click here to see a rundown of all 15.

94. Among the valuable U.S. Census data tools: the 2010 TIGER/Line Shapefiles. These are shape outlines for specific states, congressional districts, landmarks, military installations, and more that are downloadable and convertable to customized maps.

95. Here are the HTML basics every student, journalist, and educator should know, via Journalists’ Toolkit.  Lots more on that site as well.

96. The key buzzwords to achieving social media greatness: shareable, open, community, interactive, aggregation, and literate.  (See pic below by man/myth/legend Jake Batsell for a bit more context.)


97. Here’s a quick-hit slideshow laying out why you should learn to program, some of the basic programming languages, and three online spots to learn more.  Courtesy of all-star JI presenter Cindy Royal.


98. ProPublica’s Lena Groeger provides a slew of helpful links on code mastery. Bonus: Power through the Python programming language via this handy online guide: Learn Python The Hard Way, 3rd Edition.

99. Request a copy of AHA! The Ideation Game for Journalism Innovation.  It’s also a mobile app.


100. The HaikuDeck app “is the simple new way to create stunning presentations– whether you are pitching an idea, teaching a lesson, telling a story, or igniting a movement.”  As Batsell just tweeted his SMU students, “[T]his app is in your future.

**Bonus 101.** Be sure to check out my book, arriving in April, Journalism of Ideas: Brainstorming, Developing and Selling Stories in the Digital Age.  It is a comprehensive field guide for brainstorming, discovering, reporting, digitizing, and pitching news, opinion, and feature stories within journalism 2.0. It features advice from top journalists and student press advisers, exercises to sharpen your multimedia reporting skills, and tons of story ideas ripe for adaptation.  Also come to my related Story Idea sessions at ACP San Fran and CMA NYC.


Follow me on Twitter @collegemedia.

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13 Responses to “100 Things I’m Learning at Journalism Interactive 2013: A Somewhat Live Blog”
  1. Awesome wrapup. Thanks a ton for putting it together.

  2. Newsfangled says:

    This post made me giddy. Thank you so much for allowing “access” to the conference from afar.

  3. Rob says:

    Reblogged this on New Things in 2013 and commented:
    Saying this is a great post is an understatement. This resonates on multiple levels. My undergraduate concentration was public relations, but a majority of my coursework was in journalism. We covered plenty of history and theory, but very little application, and I’ve felt inadequate as a journalist because of it. This helps make up for that feeling.

  4. Anna says:

    This is fantastic. Please go to every conference and do this. :-)

    Two suggestions, in the spirit of continuous improvement:
    1. To maximize the density, move photos/images to the end.
    2. Separate trackbacks from comments, in case the comments contain additional “things learned” that the reader might want to see; and/or suggest, at the end of your post, a hashtag-of-sorts for commenters to use if they’re adding to your list, so the reader won’t miss such additions.

    Again: thank you.

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