100 Things I’m Learning at 2014 Journalism Interactive

The drones are attacking! Hello from Terrapin heaven, the heart of College Park, Md. I am currently j-geeking out at the University of Maryland for the 2014 version of Journalism Interactive, “the conference on journalism education and digital media.”

I live-blogged the #jiconf last year from the Hippodrome at the University of Florida. I’m gamely attempting the feat once more over the next two days at UMD by sitting in on a variety of speeches, pitches, panels, training sessions and a teach-a-thon. I’ll also pull lessons and observations tweeted by other attendees employing the hashtag #jiconf.


My unofficial goal is to accrue and share roughly 100 practical and inspiring tips, tools, links, quotes and anecdotes. Check out this post repeatedly for (hopefully) regular updates. But first, some drone fun. JI organizers unleashed a drone over the unsuspecting audience to kick-off the proceedings this morning. Here’s a video of what the machine recorded in real-time as it hovered above and around us.

1. VISUAL JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: “Cotton. One Farmer. A Shocking Number of T-Shirts.


2. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Steven King at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gives students 10 published or posted stories and requires them to create a complementary digital/multimedia/visual ‘extra’ for each one. Part of the process is the creation itself. The other part is the decision-making on which ‘extra’ (video, audio, map, timeline, etc.) makes the most sense, fits best with each story.

3. COOL TOOL: Racontr, “the first global platform for interactive storytellers.” (Hernandez: “a silver bullet game-changer kind of tool … a student without any code can put together a really immersive interactive [story]”)

4. JOURNALISM-FIRST, PLATFORM-NEUTRAL: King stressed students should not worry as much about learning a specific tool or platform, but the skills behind it. For example, he mentioned his students might learn Timeline JS in his classes, with those later hired by CNN finding CNN prefers using its own Timeline tool. In his view, that’s OK because bottom line the students now know timelines and will be flexible enough to master a new program’s specifics.

5. COOL TOOL: Embed Responsively, “helps build responsive embed codes for embedding rich third-party media into responsive web pages.”


WORDS from Everynone on Vimeo.

7. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Richard Koci Hernandez at UC Berkeley said he has his students avoid consuming visual journalism from traditional sources for at least half the semester, instead turning to alternative, offbeat or even non-journalism sources such as Pitchfork and Verve and artists like Jonathan Harris. The goal is to ensure they don’t only see the mainstream as the model to emulate, instead possibly viewing visual journalism’s next big things while they are still considered cutting edge.

8. VISUAL JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: “Firestorm” from The Guardian. It’s about a “family hiding from a violent bushfire in Tasmania.” Hernandez calls it a “wonderful meld of interactives, video and text … that viewers can consume at their own pace.”


9. COOL TOOL: projeqt, offering “dynamic presentations for a real-time world.” (Hernandez: “Another interactive immersive tool … I don’t know why people can’t spell things correctly.”)

10. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Hernandez stressed the importance of engaging in an “unrelenting pursuit of practice” — experimenting and learning about new media EVERY DAY to ensure you will not be left behind. My addendum: I’d say the key to ensure you follow through and see it as more than a chore is to integrate these learning daily learning feats into your work (classes, research, professional writing, etc.) or life (chronicling travels, family history, etc.).

11. COOL TOOL: Videolicious, “easy to make a video with Videolicious. With your phone or tablet, just choose your shots and Videolicious does the rest — giving you professional-quality video in seconds, without the work.”

12. ‘HAVE YOU GOOGLED IT YET?’: Problem solving is another core skill needed within journalism 4.0. As Hernandez asks his students when they come to see him, “Have you Googled it yet? If not, you can’t come into my office. … What you have in your pocket gives you access to more information than Ronald Reagan had during his presidency. … See if you can solve your problems on your own.”

13. NEW TERM: Hernandez cited a new trend in the story realm called scrolling-telling. One example of parallax scrolling he tossed out: “Tomato Can Blues” from The New York Times.


14. RECKLESS ABANDON > PERFECTION: According to Hernandez, “The secret sauce to mastery is not waiting for perfection. Instead, start where you are with reckless abandon. Absorb yourself. Envelop yourself in this stuff for an amount of time where all you’re seeing, doing, reading is whatever you’re passionate about — visual, data or digital journalism.”

15. COOL TOOL: Timeline JS, “an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines.”

16. VISUAL JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: The Johnny Cash Project, “a global collective art project.”


17. REQUIRED READING ALERT: “The Web Video Problem” by Adam Westbrook.


18. REQUIRED READING ALERT: The Innovation News Center at the University of Florida has put together a running list of books being dubbed can’t-miss by featured speakers during the conference.

19. COOL TOOL: Style Tiles, “a design deliverable consisting of fonts, colors and interface elements that communicates the evolution of a visual brand for the web.” (Hernandez: “an easy way for students to start thinking about graphics and fonts.”)

20. RATED X: The WordPress X Theme, described by Hernandez as “part of a new wave of drag-and-drop-no-code-do-whatever-you-want-with-it kind of thing.”


21. COOL TOOL: Storehouse iPad app, “the easiest way to create and discover beautiful stories. Combine photos, videos and text to meaningfully document your experiences.”

22. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Carry out a deep reverse engineering of visual journalism projects. First, find or create a visual journalism package. Second, create a Google form asking for audience feedback related to every 30 seconds of it. Next, have students in a class watch it individually, stopping it along the way and rating on a 1-to-10 scale based on their entertainment/engagement level. The subsequent graph may prove fascinating and invaluable as a way to deconstruct where and how projects connect and lose an audience.

23. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Hernandez also pushes his students to create two-minute visual journalism packages on whatever they want – with the one requirement being that they only use what is available for free and full use via Creative Commons .

24. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Have students cut their own trailers for the same film. It’s a fun video editing introduction and a chance for them to see how different their peers’ editing decisions and perspectives will be.

25. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Hernandez calls it Boarding Pass/Fail. In his words, “The design of boarding passes makes me want to scratch my eyes out.” So he has his visual journalism students redesign the typical boarding pass to enhance not only the design appeal but also the user experience.


26. INSPIRATION & EDUCATION ALERT: “A Thousand More” storytelling workshop by MediaStorm.

27. TEACHING TIP: In class, use mobile phones and tablets when demonstrating projects native to those devices. It connects more intrinsically with students who are already looking at most things on their phones nowadays. One way to do this in class: an app called Reflector ($12), which displays what you have on your phone onto your computer which in turn can of course then be viewed on a screen through a projector (got that?).

28. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Stage a mobile intervention. Require students to carry out a single assignment, a longer-term project or a set amount of news reporting while engaging only with mobile devices, apps and tools. CNN mobile editor Etan Horowitz described it as “a mobile-only day or week.” He suggested having students keep a journal about their experiences, utilizing the write-ups for a class discussion about what they learned and mobile reporting’s benefits and “pain points.”

29. COOL TOOL: GigaPan, “create, share and explore stunning high-resolution gigapixel images and panoramic photography.”

30. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: According to digital media futurist Amy Webb, “Search sucks on news websites … because it wasn’t a focus for very long. If you leave something that is a critical problem for your user go for a long time it causes a ripple effect for your website.” So, as Webb mentioned, nowadays something like the Fort Hood shooting will be Googled by mass audiences instead of searched for on news websites.

31. COOL TOOL: MindMeld app. According to a hype site about it, “MindMeld understands your conversation. Unlike a regular group call, MindMeld listens as you talk and identifies the key concepts and meaning of your conversations.” Webb’s take: “Still probably the most exciting app tool I’ve seen in the past year hands-down. Every journalist should have MindMeld at their desks, always have it on and use it every day. … This is like having an invisible reporter’s assistant with you at all times.”

32. ROBO-REPORTING TO THE RESCUE: Webb cited the recent California earthquake coverage as an example of machine-journalism’s benefits to flesh-and-blood reporters. In her words, “The algorithm did the grunt work, the stuff that wastes journalists’ time. It cobbled together the first piece of this story. That then allowed the journalists with brains to do the difficult stuff.” She calls it computer-assisted reporting 2.0. Once more, Webb: “The information people yearn for is ‘what does this mean’. … Journalists in their rush to do everything as quickly as possible have forgotten the ‘what does this mean’ part.”

33. COOL TOOL: WikiSeer, “get content summaries in real-time.”

34. VISUAL JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: “Glitter in the Dark” from Pitchfork.


35. REQUIRED READING ALERT: John Keefe (johnkeefe.net). Webb praised him for opening the playbook on the backend specifics of how he completes his journalism work.

36. COOL TOOL: Emu App, “a smarter messaging app with a built-in assistant.”

37. DATA AWESOMENESS ALERT: Stephen Wolfram is a leading and apparently somewhat divisive figure within the quantified-self movement. He is an interesting case study to gain a sense of how you might to turn your own activities and life (or others’ lives) into data streams. For example, according to Webb, Wolfram has logged every keystroke on his computer and daily outgoing emails since the 1990s (see email analytics screenshot below). Other data fun displayed by Webb, building off her own Facebook connections: a quantitative rundown of all her Facebook friends’ relationship statuses, age ranges and most common names.


38. DATA FUN: Check out WolframAlpha. As Webb confirmed, the unique search engine “applies a computational layer on top of something that’s not math.” Follow her lead by typing in “New York Times and Wall Street Journal,” “flights overhead” and “Hamlet.” I promise you’ll be at least slightly fascinated by what pops up.


39. COOL TOOL: Glympse app, “real-time location sharing app for smart phones.”

40. SHOW ME NUMBERS: According to Webb, “Statistics and data should be woven into all journalism classes, including broadcast, because broadcast journalists are especially bad at talking about data and breaking down data. … There are easy ways – without blowing up your syllabuses – to make stats and numbers a part of every class you teach.”

41. NEW TERM ALERT: Another trend Webb sees emerging in the journalism universe is something she dubs aggressive versioning. If I’ve followed it correctly, it’s the concept of creating different versions of the same story for different circumstances and audiences. In Webb’s words, “Dont teach journalism to devices. Teach journalism to the situation and the individual.” So, for example, think about whether a backstory is needed at the moment for what you’re producing or whether people just want to follow a constant stream of updates.

42. COOL TOOL: Google Now, “the right information at just the right time.”


43. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: According to Webb, “Traditional journalism is increasingly incompatible with our devices. We must completely reconceptualize how we publish digital content. … Total revenue for American journalism is down 33 percent in seven years. … Mobile screen valuation now worth $1 billion per square inch.”

44. NEW TERM ALERT: Toward the end of her talk, Webb referred to the recent Washington state mudslide. As she said, “The reporting on it has been great, but it’s hard to really understand. … If you haven’t been near a mudslide before you have no idea what it’s like, why it’s so devastating, why it’s been so hard to rescue people.” Enter what she calls experiential journalism, a new mode of storytelling immersion made possible via the virtual reality experiences being finalized by companies such as Oculus Rift. She cited “Rising from Ruin” (“One of the great multimedia journalism projects. … Can you imagine being in the middle of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath?”) and “Snow Fall” from The New York Times as examples of powerful packages that could be even more iconic with experiential journalism components.

45. COOL TOOL: Open Syllabus Project, “opening the curricular black box for students, faculty and researchers.”

46. NYT MAY NOT BE THE PINNACLE: “Show students more options,” said Webb. “It’s important to show students the pinnacle of their career may not be The New York Times. … Journalism schools focus too much on traditional news outlets.”

47. ADVICE TO JOURNALISM PROFS: Webb said journalism school applications are down, while journalism jobs are rising. In her words, “Smart kids want tech degrees, not journalism degrees. I think that’s your fault. Because the market has picked back up.” Her advice: “Make journalism more interesting. … You are no longer the ivory tower piece of dying industry — there’s great training to be had.”

48. TRENDY CLASSES ARE NOT ENOUGH!: Webb said journalism programs need to get beyond trendy classes that spark fast and fade into oblivion when the semester ends. As she said candidly, “For programs feeling the pressure, they’ll randomly offer Tumblr for Journalists. It sounds like from the outside ‘Oh, they get it.’ But nothing has fundamentally changed in the curriculum. … I don’t know a single curriculum that even has sprinkles of tech-first. … They all should be scrapped and you should really think hard about how you’re presenting information and your expectations of students … and how you’re going to change and evolve that curriculum.”


49. COOL TOOL: Visual.ly, “the world’s largest community of infographics and data visualization.”

50. TYPOS ARE PEOPLE TOO!: “I once taught at a place where students were terrified that if they spelled one thing wrong they would fail,” said Webb. “That’s ludicrous. Unless you’re using a Linotype, you’ll be autocorrected. … That is NOT a skill that is going to be important for them. Why bother? Make them nervous about something else.”

51. COOL TOOL: The NPR Social Media Desk, “sharing what we learn in the visual space.”


52. EXPAND ADJUNCT POOL: Webb said adjunct faculty should not be restricted to just working journalists, but tons of others in the tech, art, business and media worlds. Bottom line, there are tons of content creators, big thinkers and innovators with essential lessons to teach journalism students. Not every adjunct needs to have a Pulitzer Prize.

53. SUMMER JOURNALISM 2.0 CLASS OF SORTS: Webb has created a syllabus for an eight-week course she encourages journalism educators to engage in on their own time this summer. She will even hold office hours (time-shifted virtual ones). The focus is on becoming more creative and innovative, with readings and lessons on topic areas such as virality, millennials and Silicon Alley vs. Silicon Valley).

54. SPEECH & DEBATE PSA: At the very end of her talk, Webb offered what she joked was her own public service announcement. “More than technology, more than writing, journalists need to have the ability to communicate their thoughts,” she said. “The more they are able to do that, the better. … Reignite speech and debate programs.”

55. COOL TOOL: StoryMap JS, “telling stories with maps.”

56. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: As a slide shared during a session on mobile journalism, “Find a non-news app each week and explain what lesson it has for journalistic applications and potential for mobile storytelling.” According to Emily Ingram at The Washington Post, “If you’re looking to expand what is possible on mobile, look beyond news apps. … Check out various tools that are out there and try to draw some inspiration about what can be done through them or lessons about what it can mean for journalistic storytelling.” One example she cited: Amazon X-Ray, “a feature available on Kindle and Wii U devices that enables Amazon Instant Video viewers to easily and seamlessly learn more about the video they’re watching. It is designed to enrich the experience of watching movies and TV shows by embedding IMDb’s content into the Amazon Instant Video viewing experience.” (Ingram described it as “essentially layering data on video.”) What are the journalism implications/potential?


57. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Mindy McAdams at the University of Florida suggests giving students “specific assignments where they cannot default to the thing they’re most comfortable with.” So in a writing class, have at least one assignment in which they do not produce a package relying (mainly or at all) on a text story. It enables students to begin feeling more comfortable wearing many hats.

58. COOL TOOL: Klynt, “an interactive editing & publishing application dedicated to creative storytellers.”


59. NEW EQUATION + CATS = AWESOME: According to Hernandez, journalism must now be about K + I + T = N (knowledge + information + technology = new forms of storytelling).


60. LIFE OF A PROJECT: Hint, it’s not just a straight-shot from madcap brainstorming to perfectly polished product. See the screenshot of a Hernandez presentation slide below.


61. CROWDSOURCING #EPICFAIL: Doug Ward from the University of Kansas attempted to crowdsource the syllabus for a web development class he recently taught. He allowed students to make suggestions and construct assignments, lessons, the grading rubric, etc. It went badly. Why? Students told him they were afraid of looking dumb “especially among peer they haven’t met yet.” Ward said issue may not be with student mindset, but the educational model that’s in place — one that focuses on students passively being told what to do and what classes will be all about versus empowering them to engage and be proactive in creating the best set-up for them.

62. DIGITAL CHALLENGES ICYMI: Jennifer Cox from Salisbury University said the challenges for digital reporters nowadays center on speed (the rush to both be first and forever provide more content), the unending news cycle (“If you never sleep, you may be the most successful journalist ever”), an audience seeking instant gratification and the misinformation that is possible at every stage of the reporting and publishing process.

63. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: During the teach-a-thon, Katy Culver at the University of Wisconsin-Madison spoke about the potential of narrated screen captures to create powerful student projects. One example: a student researching the laws and ethics of mommy blogs. According to Culver, the student narrated a real-time screen-capture showing how little time it took her to go from a mommy blog that used pseudonyms for the kids’ names to ferreting out oodles of personal info about the kids including their home address and real names.

64. COOL TOOL ALERT: Socrative, a collaborative, crowdsourcing instant-survey tool.

65. TEACHING RESOURCE: Adam Westbrook has been mentioned multiple times in Friday sessions. Check out one video suggestion below.

66. CODING FOR JOURNALISTS 101: Here’s a “learn-to-program blog written with journalists in mind” by Lisa Williams.

67. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Donica Mensing has been on a mission to better engage beginning students with current events news. The days of the weekly quiz need to end ASAP. Instead, she recommended trying Zeega, which “curates media from a range of websites to help users create their own interactive, engaging stories.” One example shown by Mensing: “The March on Washington.” The instructions for the current events news report Mensing has assigned her students, on a deadline (one student tackles it each day during the semester): “Create an engaging news product that takes one to two minutes to watch. Include three to five noteworthy local news stories (can also include weather, sports and entertainment), [must be] of importance and interest to students [and should] publish daily and share on social media.” Here’s a sample episode of “Today in Reno Buzz.


68. REQUIRED READING ALERT: Inside the Story Magazine, “four beautiful, long-form magazines, on the craft of storytelling.”

69. COFFEE, EGGS & SOME FOIA ON THE SIDE: Webb’s old routine involved waking up and filing a Freedom of Information Act request every morning. She said it is a nice reportorial routine, a daily reminder of the power of information and the gathering of it.

70. 11 COOL TOOLS ALERT: Steven King from UNC touched on a variety of interesting platforms and programs during his talk — from Piktochart to SketchUp.

71. VISUAL JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: “18 Days in Egypt,” a collaborative documentary project aiming to tell the story of the 2011 revolution in Egypt through videos, images and other content captured and shared crowdsourcing style by participants and observers.

72. LET’S TALK LENGTH: There is an ideal length for nearly every type of transmedia storytelling technique, communication apparatus and backend organizing tool — from email subject lines, tweets and title tags to blog posts, Facebook posts and even Google+ headlines. Here’s the lowdown from Gary Schirr.

73. A TON OF COOL TOOLS: Here are a slew of sites, programs and tools for social media and search engine info hunting — all of them given a shout-out by University of Missouri j-prof extraordinaire Joy Mayer during her JI talk.

74. EMBRACE AGGREGATION: It is time for media to get past its narcissism or naiveté in trying to hold up basically any story as truly exclusive, without any worthy predecessors, siders or follow-ups for readers to chomp on — even when they do come from the competition.

75. COOL TOOL: Spundge, “the most powerful and easy-to-use content creation platform for professionals and organizations.”

76. JOURNALISM STUDENT SCALE: What are current students’ motivations for pursuing a journalism degree? Serena Carpenter at Michigan State University has developed a scale to help provide a quantitative assessment. Among the themes and statements that appear: “I want to work against injustice or corruption. … I enjoy frequent interaction with new people. … I want to be a local or national celebrity. … I want to have a varied (non-routine) daily lifestyle.”

77. COOL TOOL: Newspeg, “puts journalistic spin on Pinterest-style bookmarking. … Newspeg makes it easy for newshounds to collect and organize the information that matters, with curated topics dedicated to something more substantial than cats and viral videos.”


78. DATA STATE OF MIND: In his Saturday morning presentation, Derek Willis at The New York Times laser-focused on interviewing data. First step, enter a data state of mind. What’s that? He turns to a handout created by MaryJo Webster, computer-assisted reporting editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Her definition: “Approaching story ideas with the mindset that you are going to quantify or measure something, rather than just getting the facts and all sides of the story. This requires that you analyze some data on your own, making you less dependent on public officials to give you the straight story and oftentimes giving you a story that wouldn’t have been possible without the analysis.”

79. TONS OF COOL TOOLS: Pinterest page with mega-amounts of resources provided via organized lists such as search, data, mapping, timelines and curation & clipping services.


80. DATA SKEPTICISM: According to Willis, “Before you interview data, you must develop a posture of deep, deep abiding skepticism. … There’s something wrong.” It could be due to “sorting, order, categories set up by humans with assumptions” or Excel quirks. An example shared by a session attendee on Twitter: “My favorite was a file with headers ‘Male’ and ‘Female.’ Under each header, the row said ‘Yes’ or ‘No.'”

81. COOL TOOL: sStory on GitHub, “the goal is to make responsive magazine feature style mini-sites as easily as possible. I’ve tried to support as many mediums as possible so they can be melded together into something cohesive and enjoyable.”


82. VIDEO ALERT: Lisa Williams at Placeblogger said three important web programming skills to learn are mapping, scraping and grabbing. Here’s a TED Talk from her addressing the question “Do I Really Need to Learn How to Program?”

83. TWO MUST-READ EBOOKS ABOUT LEARNING RUBY & PYTHON: Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw & The Bastards Book of Ruby by Dan Nguyen.


84. PROGRAMMING FALLACY: According to Matt Waite at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “You will never learn programming. Stop trying. … Instead, focus on solving a problem you have using code.” He said programming is such a gigantic, ever-evolving concept and skill-set that attempting to harness it to the point of expertise is basically impossible. Learning how to use it to create, revise and share content is much more essential to day-to-day journalism success.

85. COOL TOOL: Stack Overflow, “a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers.”

86. GOLD STAR ALERT: “I’ve described programming as being in an abusive relationship,” said Waite. ” … Nothing will happen if you do it right. It will only yell at you if you do it wrong. … It’s the most anti-millennial thing ever. There is no gold star. … As I tell my students, ‘Relax, if nothing happens, you’re doing it right.'”

87. EVENT ALERT: Code with me, “a series of two-day programming workshop for journalists in the U.S.”

88. EXCEL TIP: Scroll to the bottom of a highlighted column and a drop-down menu will appear to help you do some basic sorting and mathematical work.

89. COOL TOOL: ScraperWiki, “tools to get, clean and analyse data from web pages, PDFs and Twitter.”

90. GREATEST VIDEO EVER: A “deadpan satire” of a local broadcast outlet reporting on a shooting in the social media age.


91. TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In video world, according to Bethany Swain at the University of Maryland, “Shorter is better. Just because you have unlimited time on the web doesn’t mean your audience will stay.” She said you have roughly 10 seconds to grab your video-viewing audience — 85 percent of people “click away” after that. In addition, those who do stick around “need a reason to stay every 90 seconds.”  So don’t save your best stuff until the end.


92. DATA JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: “Fourth: What’s It Like to Just Miss an Olympic Medal?” from The New York Times.


93. SHOCK & AWE FACTOR: While respecting the power of text, Swain stressed that some narratives just seem to belong on video. She said one set of stories that possess a video-first identity fall into the “eyewitness shock and awe” category. An example: “Renaissance Man” by Julia Weaver.

Renaissance Man from Julia Weaver on Vimeo.

94. WHAT DOESN’T WORK IN VIDEO: According to Swain, the list of attributes include: uninteresting video, too long, filled with jargon, lacking authenticity, too many numbers, not reinforced, monotonous voices, when audio/pictures conflict, too many viewpoints and a lack of visuals.

95. CHARACTERS, NOT VOICES: An attendee at Swain’s session offered this tidbit about video journalism: “When you have a bunch of voices about one thing, it’s more a report than a story.” To tell powerful stories, focus instead on one or a small set of compelling characters. Swain’s advice: Real people are more interesting than officials.



97. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Why do story and start-up ideas have to be pitched in regular ways? Self-proclaimed “recovering journalist” Mark Potts promotes creative, quirky pitches. Three he threw out for fun: interpretive dance, puppet shows and Easter egg hunts. Just don’t limit yourself to button-down or how it’s been done a million times before. Building off that philosophy, have your students create and share nontraditional pitches for biz or story ideas — giving high marks for experimentation and audience engagement.

98. COOL TOOL: Data for Radicals from Lisa Williams. “Do you want to change the world? Then I’ll help you change some charts and graphs!”

99. THE WORLD IS YOUR TRIPOD: Swain’s tip: “Make the world your tripod.” Looking around the room where she was presenting, she said, “In here, I see lots of tripods.” She pointed to a table, the area of the white board where the markers are kept, even a swivel seat. She even later unveiled an adapter that attaches to a water bottle. She shared a short video she put together about a fallen tree as an example of how to capture steady video without a formal tripod handy.

Carol’s Surprise from Bethany Swain on Vimeo.

100. ON SCREEN, LESS IS MORE: Swain said students must avoid going overboard with effects, fonts and transitions. In Swain’s classes at UMD, she has three big rules: No dissolves. No camera moves. No handheld microphones. Here is an example of a simple video on snow that Swain put together while in college — an example of fantastic simplicity. (The youngster is an absolute star in the making.)

Shoveling Snow from Bethany Swain on Vimeo.

101. CROWDSOURCING AWESOMENESS ALERT: “Faces of Breast Cancer” from The New York Times. “If you live with breast cancer, love someone with breast cancer or worry about your risk for breast cancer, you are part of a global community of women and men whose lives have been touched by the disease. We asked our readers to share insights from their experiences with breast cancer. Here are some of their stories.”


102. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Swain has her students complete a children’s story video journalism exercise. In teams of three, one student reads a children’s book, another student listens and the last one shoots — focusing on action and reaction, packaging and story development (of course knowing how to share highlights of the story). Each student takes a turn reading, listening and shooting with a different story.

103. COOL TOOL: GoPro App, “makes it easy to control your camera, and lets you do more with your GoPro content than ever before.”


104. RIDICULOUSLY COOL TOOL: The Bottle Cap Tripod, “one inch square and *always* there.”


105. JUST A REMINDER: “Being able to record and edit audio and video, take and edit pictures, write Web stories and do social networking on a single device has revolutionized my job.” – Neal Augenstein, WTOP, Washington

106. COOL TOOL: Mophie Juice Pack for mobile phone charging on-the-go. According to Carl Corry at Newsday, cold weather especially zaps the life out of a mobile device.

107. ASSIGNMENT ALERT: Push students to take their first steps with Google Fusion Tables, via an exercise carried out and shared by Mindy McAdams at the University of Florida.

108. COOL TOOL: Hipstamatic, “capture and Curate life’s best moments with photography.”

109. MOBILE JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS: Photo by Nick Laham of Alex Rodriguez taken with his iPhone featured on front page of The New York Times.


110. MOJO & REAL-TIME REPORTING AWESOMENESS: Newsday coverage of Hurricane Sandy immediate aftermath. According to Corry, “We were up for three straight days with Sandy. … These are vignettes being sent in by reporters, some of whom hadn’t done this previously. … We incorporated photos. We incorporated videos, the written word, tweets. … It’s a combination of everything in one place, ongoing. … The aggregate of hits for the mobile journalism coverage was much higher than [coverage elsewhere] at least for a while.”


111. NEW TERM: Drone journalism, according to Waite at the UN-L Drone Journalism Lab, is is “the use of small aerial devices to gather photos, video or data for news.”

112. MOBILE JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: WorldStream from The Wall Street Journal, “mobile video updates from WSJ journalists around the world” provided in “near real-time.”


113. COOL TOOL: Virtual Photo Walks on Google+, “utilizing the Internet, video chat and smart phones, people are able to visit and interact with mobile guides all over the world and to visit they people and places they could only dream about before.” Corry: “I think there are lot of applications here for journalism and I’d encourage you to explore.”

114. MOBILE JOURNALISM AWESOMENESS ALERT: “Hand to Hand Combat at Handball ‘Mecca,‘” for The New York Times shot entirely on mobile phone (later edited on Final Cut)

115. COOL TOOL: eCampus from the Society of Professional Journalists, “training sessions … available to all SPJ members at any time.”


116. COOL TOOL: Voddio, “a professional-grade video and audio editor App for mobile journalists and story tellers, that supports rich editing of two tracks of video and up to four tracks of audio.”


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

6 Responses to “100 Things I’m Learning at 2014 Journalism Interactive”
  1. Susan Zake says:

    Thanks for this Dan. So much good stuff! I’ve already sent it around to a bunch of my colleagues.

  2. jean says:

    This is just fantastic – thank you so much for compiling this! Hours of useful fun :)

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  1. […] There were so many high-caliber speakers with great tips and thoughts, I left with my brain stuffed with new ideas about what I can and should be teaching my students. Here are my ten takeaways. I could have written 100, but Dan Reimold already has that covered at College Media Matters. […]

  2. […] Reimold’s post about the highlights from the 2014 Journalism Interactive […]

  3. […] to learn a ton at this conference. Last year, College Media Matters even had a blog post called “100 Things I’m Learning at 2014 Journalism Interactive” (They actually got up to 116 […]