Posts tagged tools

The Better-Than-Starter Video Kit

For all those who have Q’d us about where to start with gear, here’s an excellent set of tools recommended by the Director of Digital Media at Columbia J-School.

duylinhtu:

My video students at Columbia Journalism School are trained on the Canon C100.  It is a great camera, but the $5K+ price tag makes it impossible for most to purchase one for themselves.  Also, that figure does not include microphones, tripods, and other accessories necessary to produce professional-quality video.

With some compromises in ergonomics and picture quality, the list of gear below should be an affordable alternative for any video student or recent grad.  This gear will give you high-quality visuals, clean sound, and reliable stabilization.  I hesitate to call this a starter kit, as you can shoot a feature documentary with this set up.

Camera:  The conventional wisdom with video gear is to invest in lenses and peripherals.  These items will last you years, while cameras get updated and replaced constantly.  I still recommend DSLRs for video journalists starting out.  They are cheap.  Their sensors are big, the low-light performance is fantastic, and they double as great stills cameras (ironically, an often overlooked benefit).  I have years of experience with Canon gear, so I recommend their products.  But Sony, Panasonic, and others all offer up great solutions.  Shop around.  This is a great time to buy.

I recommend two entry-level DSLRs to my students.  The Canon T5i w/ EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens and the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 w/  EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens.  The T5i has a flip-out screen, but the SL1 is smaller.  In terms of image quality, they are the same.  My SL1 is so small that I can comfortably carry it with me everywhere I go.

If you can afford it, I recommend getting the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens.  This is my go-to lens for all my documentary work.  It is pricey, but it is a great investment.  You will grow with this lens.  If you do purchase the 24-105, be sure to get the Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera (Body Only) or Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera (Body Only) to save some money.

Do not forget to buy some extra batteries for your shoots.  You can go for the more expensive Canon option or save some money going with a third-party brand.  And be sure to get protective filters for your lenses:  the Tiffen 58mm UV Protector Filter for the kit lens or the Tiffen 77mm UV Protector Filter for the 24-105 lens.

Audio:  The most important part of producing great video is getting great audio.  Audio gear can be very expensive and there are many options on the market.  But the gear below was specifically designed to work with DSLRs.  This set up will transform your DSLR into a fully-functioning video camera:  

Your mics go into the DR-60D and then that signal is fed into the camera.  Or, when you really want to just go small and stealth, the Rode VideoMic Pro can plug directly into your DSLR (as pictured above).  Also, the Tascam DR-60D can be used alone as a great field audio recorder.

My most expensive audio recommendation is the Sony ECM-77B - Lavalier Microphone.  This is the microphone I use for all my interviews.  It plugs directly into the DR-60D.  There are much cheaper lav mics available, but IMHO, the low audio quality is not worth the savings.

Support:  You need a good tripod and monopod to get steady shots.  Tripods go from super cheap to insanely expensive.  I recommend spending a little more now for gear that will last you years.  I always shoot with the Manfrotto Fluid Monopod with 500 Series Head and Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Head & 755XB Tripod.  They are not the cheapest options, but you will have them for years.

Accessories:  Be sure to get enough memory cards for your shoots.  And invest in the Pelican 0915 Memory Card Case to store your precious footage.

I hope this list helps.

Happy shooting,

Duy

Understanding and Defining News Literacy
The Berkman Center recently published a series of research and practice briefs about news literacy as part of their Why News Matters network, which is very worth checking out. 
H/T to EdWeek for alerting us to the briefs which include:

1) "The Challenges of Defining ‘News Literacy’ " seeks to stimulate a discussion about approaches to defining, framing, and understanding core concepts such as ‘news’ and ‘news literacy’. The brief draws on our growing body of research into everyday youth behaviors, and identifies key competencies for youth to become empowered, informed, connected citizens.

2) "Mapping Approaches to News Literacy Curriculum Development: A Navigation Aid" helps build the capacity of our community of practitioners to develop and teach news literacy curricula. We provide a concise summary of approaches to news literacy, current methods of reaching youth through instruction, as well as a roadmap for innovative curriculum design.

3) "Youth News Perceptions and Behaviors Online: How Youth Access and Share Information in a Chicago Community Affected by Gang Violence" takes an on-the-ground approach to news readership and examines the everyday information needs of youth living in Chicago. The brief draws upon focus group interviews that raise new questions about how youth online behaviors are affected by community violence.

4) “Evaluation in Context: Reflections on How to Measure Success of Your “WNM” Program" is a thoughtful roadmap for organizations and programs to implement a data-driven evaluation cycle. Written by Youth and Media mentor Justin Reich, with the support of the YaM team, this practice brief encourages nonprofits, as learning organizations, to critically and impartially examine and improve their self-efficacy as they work towards meaningful objectives.

Image: Why News Matters’ news personality quiz, one of a number of quizzes and challenges on the site.
Bonus: Some posts on news literacy from the FJP archives.

Understanding and Defining News Literacy

The Berkman Center recently published a series of research and practice briefs about news literacy as part of their Why News Matters network, which is very worth checking out. 

H/T to EdWeek for alerting us to the briefs which include:

1) "The Challenges of Defining ‘News Literacy’ " seeks to stimulate a discussion about approaches to defining, framing, and understanding core concepts such as ‘news’ and ‘news literacy’. The brief draws on our growing body of research into everyday youth behaviors, and identifies key competencies for youth to become empowered, informed, connected citizens.

2) "Mapping Approaches to News Literacy Curriculum Development: A Navigation Aid" helps build the capacity of our community of practitioners to develop and teach news literacy curricula. We provide a concise summary of approaches to news literacy, current methods of reaching youth through instruction, as well as a roadmap for innovative curriculum design.

3) "Youth News Perceptions and Behaviors Online: How Youth Access and Share Information in a Chicago Community Affected by Gang Violence" takes an on-the-ground approach to news readership and examines the everyday information needs of youth living in Chicago. The brief draws upon focus group interviews that raise new questions about how youth online behaviors are affected by community violence.

4) “Evaluation in Context: Reflections on How to Measure Success of Your “WNM” Program" is a thoughtful roadmap for organizations and programs to implement a data-driven evaluation cycle. Written by Youth and Media mentor Justin Reich, with the support of the YaM team, this practice brief encourages nonprofits, as learning organizations, to critically and impartially examine and improve their self-efficacy as they work towards meaningful objectives.

Image: Why News Matters’ news personality quiz, one of a number of quizzes and challenges on the site.

Bonus: Some posts on news literacy from the FJP archives.

How To: Get Dead Relatives #Offline

Modern Loss is a website that seeks to create a space for figuring out how to navigate your life after death. It includes essays from those who have experienced loss, resources for the practical affairs that must be dealt with after a death, and projects and articles about grief. 

Slate:

The site was started by two women, Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who lost parents at an early age and who are clearly opposed to the toxic forced optimism of American culture that can make grief all the more difficult. They promise a websitethat will be free of people adjudicating how sad you’re allowed to feel and a complete ban on the phrase, “everything happens for a reason.”

Linked above is a step-by-step how-to guide on getting relatives who have passed away offline on a variety of social media platforms.

Fascinating background reading about death in the digital era is this 2009 report from Northwestern University’s J-school on the state of the American obituary. It discusses the A-Z of obituaries, death in the age of social media, and the relatively new phenomenon of social networking sited that are turned into memorials. 

Google’s One Stop Shop for Journalists
via Journalism.co.uk:

Google has launched a site dedicated to highlighting the portfolio of its tools which can be of particular use to journalists, outlining the functionality of each.Effectively, the Google Media Tools site acts as a one-stop-shop which journalists can visit to not only get an understanding the technology on offer from Google, but also how it can be used to support or power their work, with links to industry examples for inspiration.According to its own description, the site aims to act as a “starting point to tap into Google’s suite of digital tools that can enhance newsgathering and exposure across television, radio, print and online”."Whether it’s refining your advanced search capabilities, improving audience engagement through Google+, or learning how to visualise data using Google Maps, this website is intended to guide you through all the resources Google offers to journalists".

Image: Screenshot from the Google Media Tools page.

Google’s One Stop Shop for Journalists

via Journalism.co.uk:

Google has launched a site dedicated to highlighting the portfolio of its tools which can be of particular use to journalists, outlining the functionality of each.

Effectively, the Google Media Tools site acts as a one-stop-shop which journalists can visit to not only get an understanding the technology on offer from Google, but also how it can be used to support or power their work, with links to industry examples for inspiration.

According to its own description, the site aims to act as a “starting point to tap into Google’s suite of digital tools that can enhance newsgathering and exposure across television, radio, print and online”.

"Whether it’s refining your advanced search capabilities, improving audience engagement through Google+, or learning how to visualise data using Google Maps, this website is intended to guide you through all the resources Google offers to journalists".

Image: Screenshot from the Google Media Tools page.

jcstearns:

verificationjunkie:

Tool: ifussss (If You See Something Share Something)
Source: Edward Brooks
Description: ifussss share some similar qualities with apps being developed by WITNESS for reporting on human rights abuses but focuses on monetizing verified content. 10,000 Words reports “You see traffic on a bridge, for example. You shoot and upload it to the ifussss network. It’s automatically geo, time, and hash tagged. News editors can search and monitor the ifussss newsroom platform and, this is where it gets interesting, buy the content.” 
Relevant Links:
ifussss: http://www.ifussss.com/
10,000 Words: http://www.mediabistro.com/10000words/ifuss-video-sharing-for-journalists_b21315

From my new Tumblr - Verification Junkie.

FJP: Verification Junkie is a timely, useful, geeky, cool tumblr by Josh Stearns that highlights tools for verifying, fact checking and assessing the validity of social media and user generated content. You can send him tips on twitter. In other news, a little known secret: In his non-FJP life, our lovely founder Michael is WITNESS' Digital Engagement Lead. Small world.

jcstearns:

verificationjunkie:

Tool: ifussss (If You See Something Share Something)

Source: Edward Brooks

Description: ifussss share some similar qualities with apps being developed by WITNESS for reporting on human rights abuses but focuses on monetizing verified content. 10,000 Words reports “You see traffic on a bridge, for example. You shoot and upload it to the ifussss network. It’s automatically geo, time, and hash tagged. News editors can search and monitor the ifussss newsroom platform and, this is where it gets interesting, buy the content.” 

Relevant Links:

ifussss: http://www.ifussss.com/

10,000 Words: http://www.mediabistro.com/10000words/ifuss-video-sharing-for-journalists_b21315

From my new Tumblr - Verification Junkie.

FJP: Verification Junkie is a timely, useful, geeky, cool tumblr by Josh Stearns that highlights tools for verifying, fact checking and assessing the validity of social media and user generated content. You can send him tips on twitter.

In other news, a little known secret: In his non-FJP life, our lovely founder Michael is WITNESS' Digital Engagement Lead. Small world.

Brickflow Builds Social Media Slideshows

Similar to Storify, new storytelling app Brickflow lets users construct stories with hashtag-based content collected from social outlets including Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Instead of following a linear format, Brickflow stacks the content (“bricks”) into slideshows (“flows”). The app was designed with the current social media trends in mind, according to a Brickflow blog post

It’s the easiest way for bloggers to visually summarize a social media topic. Educators and marketers see it as a creative engagement tool. Others use it for telling their personal stories in a memorable way.

[…] Curated storytelling is a form of communication that is here to stay. Bloggers are using content curation tools to quickly come up with relevant media. But content is getting shorter, more visual, and taking place in real-time. Hashtags are becoming mainstream. Vine and Instagram are widely popular. This is a totally new form of self-expression: a few seconds of square-shaped video, low-res snapshots, 140 characters of text.

Brickflow is first to offer the feature of connecting multiple Instagram videos to tell a longer story. According to Mihaly Borbely, one of the founders, “This will open up a whole new world of possibilities, like crowdsourced short films and advertisements. I deeply believe that micro-videos will reshape the way we think of visual storytelling. It’s a new format by itself, but these videos are also the perfect building blocks for something bigger.”

Images: Brickflow blog, screen grabs of logo and “flow” example.

The Journalists’ Guide to Criminal Justice Reform 2013
Presented by the ACLU, this guide [PDF] covers the main issues surrounding criminal justice in the US. It opens:

The main goals of the U.S. criminal justice system are to prevent crime and to deliver just and fair punishments when crime occurs. Our system is failing on both counts.
The U.S. overcriminalizes types of conduct that either should be considered innocent or could be handled through other social systems, such as public health and education; overpolices poor communities and communities of color; holds many people in jail awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford bail; uses incarceration far too often as a sanction; keeps people incarcerated too long; treats people inhumanely while they’re incarcerated; and, perhaps most shamefully, continues to engage in the barbaric practice of execution.
We have far to go in repairing this broken system, and we will not solve all of our problems in 2013. But we will make progress. Here, we provide background information on some of the most vexing issues plaguing the criminal justice system today—excessive rates of incarceration, broad use of solitary confinement, and the death penalty—and suggest some areas that are ripe for reform.

Download it here for free.
Image: Screenshot from The Journalists’ Guide to Criminal Justice Reform.

The Journalists’ Guide to Criminal Justice Reform 2013

Presented by the ACLU, this guide [PDF] covers the main issues surrounding criminal justice in the US. It opens:

The main goals of the U.S. criminal justice system are to prevent crime and to deliver just and fair punishments when crime occurs. Our system is failing on both counts.

The U.S. overcriminalizes types of conduct that either should be considered innocent or could be handled through other social systems, such as public health and education; overpolices poor communities and communities of color; holds many people in jail awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford bail; uses incarceration far too often as a sanction; keeps people incarcerated too long; treats people inhumanely while they’re incarcerated; and, perhaps most shamefully, continues to engage in the barbaric practice of execution.

We have far to go in repairing this broken system, and we will not solve all of our problems in 2013. But we will make progress. Here, we provide background information on some of the most vexing issues plaguing the criminal justice system today—excessive rates of incarceration, broad use of solitary confinement, and the death penalty—and suggest some areas that are ripe for reform.

Download it here for free.

Image: Screenshot from The Journalists’ Guide to Criminal Justice Reform.

This will be the part that makes people mad and that makes me decidedly “unfuture” of media: I really try not to get my news from Twitter, which has a reputation as a place where people go and find lots of great news. I find it a place you go to find, I guess, your barbecued potato chips.

A lot of stuff that is kind of interesting, mostly not that good. And it’s absolutely chewed over into cud by the time you get there. So I’ve been making a concerted effort to create structure on my computer using different kinds of software and so forth, that forces me to get less of my news from social media, and more of it by reading my RSS feed, which are blogs, or going to other news sites.

Ezra Klein, as quoted by Conor Friedersdorf in Ezra Klein’s Case Against Getting Your News from Twitter, The Atlantic.

FJP: Very related and very helpful is Paul Bradshaw’s A Network Infrastructure for Journalists Online, which is an introduction to RSS readers, social networks and social bookmarking.

Is It Journalism, or Just a Repackaged Press Release? Here's a Tool to Help You Find Out

In case you missed this a couple weeks ago:

Today, the Sunlight Foundation has unveiled a tool that will help us all with this work. “The tool is, essentially, an open-source plagiarism detection engine,” web developer Kaitlin Devine explained to me. It will scan any text (a news article, e.g.) and compare it with a corpus of press releases and Wikipedia entries. If it finds similar language, you’ll get a notification of a detected “churn” and you’ll be able to take a look at the two sources side by side. You can also use it to check Wikipedia entries for information that may have come from corporate press releases. The tool is based on a similar project released in the United Kingdom two years ago, which the Sunlight Foundation supported with a grant to make it open source. Churnalism will be available both on the website and as a browser extension. Its database of press releases includes those from EurekaAlert! in addition to PR Newswire, PR News Web, Fortune 500 companies, and government sources.

Walter Cronkite’s Home Office of the 21st Century (circa 1967)

Check out the Smithsonian’s Paleofuture Blog (which documents the history of the future than never was) for a full tour of the home of 2001.

Video: via paleofuturist Matt Novak.

Google’s Evernote
It’s called Google Keep and it’s pretty neat. Internet surfers can hoard digital artifacts. Organizations can organize digital information. Yes, many of us already do this on Evernote. (Keep is arguably cuter, though.)
Some people, however, aren’t too excited. Here’s why:


It might actually be good, or even better than Evernote. But I still won’t use Keep. You know why? Google Reader.
I spent about seven years of my online life on that service. I sent feedback, used it to annotate information and they killed it like a butcher slaughters a chicken. No conversation — dead. The service that drives more traffic than Google+ was sacrificed because it didn’t meet some vague corporate goals; users — many of them life long — be damned.

Google’s Evernote

It’s called Google Keep and it’s pretty neat. Internet surfers can hoard digital artifacts. Organizations can organize digital information. Yes, many of us already do this on Evernote. (Keep is arguably cuter, though.)

Some people, however, aren’t too excited. Here’s why:

It might actually be good, or even better than Evernote. But I still won’t use Keep. You know why? Google Reader.

I spent about seven years of my online life on that service. I sent feedback, used it to annotate information and they killed it like a butcher slaughters a chicken. No conversation — dead. The service that drives more traffic than Google+ was sacrificed because it didn’t meet some vague corporate goals; users — many of them life long — be damned.

How to Use Storify as Your One-Stop Social Media Search Engine

Regardless of whether you actually want to create a storify. David Higgerson describes 12 tips with examples so read through his post.

Short version:

  1. Create a Storify, just for the sake of recording what you find.
  2. When searching, use the words people on social networks use.
  3. Make a beeline for Facebook, where you’ll find a lot of people to start with when looking for sources.
  4. Filter out retweets.
  5. Use Twitter images.
  6. Use the location filter carefully.
  7. Embed picture Tweets.
  8. Get your search criteria right on YouTube.
  9. Check photo dates on Flickr.
  10. Just because Instagram pictures are often filtered, doesn’t mean you can’t get valuable information from them.
  11. Storify lets you search Google too.
  12. Beware of hoaxes.

An addendum to #12: this post by Steve Buttry on how to verify information on Twitter.

Related: This piece on Andy Carvin, the “one man Twitter news bureau” and his social media news process.

For those interested in multimedia journalism, which software/programs should we be familiarized with? I feel like there are a lot, and I want to get learning — Asked by Anonymous

I can answer but my biases proceed me since a) I’m on a Mac and b) we have partners who help us out. If I mention them I’ll acknowledge them below.

  • In General
    Adobe CS Something. We’re currently working with CS5, but CS6 is described as great. Mind you, this is a suite of tools that ranges from design and photography stalwart Photoshop to the video production capabilities of Premiere. In other words, Adobe is creating an all encompassing product line for our multimedia needs.
     
  • Video 
    Final Cut Pro. We’re on FCP X but have been frustrated by features we’ve lost since Final Cut 7 (long story). Fortunately, FCP X is adding these features with each new release.

    Something to look into: Adobe’s Premiere. When Apple reinvented Final Cut with its X series, many video producers were underwhelmed and fled to Adobe and have great things to say about it. If you get Adobe’s CS 5/6 you’ll have Premiere and can take it through its paces.
     
  • Audio 
    This comes in two flavors: when we create jingles, soundtracks and general audio design we use Propellerhead’s Reason and Ableton Live. We then mix these with Apple’s Logic Pro.

    Pro Tools
    is an obvious standard that’s used throughout the radio world but we’ve gone with Logic Pro because it fits easily within our overall workflow.
     
  • Screenshots and Screencasts:
    We go with two flavors here. For screenshots, Ambrosia Software’s SnapZPro. This let’s us take screenshots with dropshadows and other effects. It also lets us do basic screencasts.

    But if we’re doing longform, voiceover screencasts we opt for Telestream’s Screenflow which has a built in video editor and is specifically created for doing screencast tutorials. For example, it has callouts for where your cursor is, can zoom in, zoom out on screen details, etc. (Disclosure: Telestream is a FJP partner.)
     
  • Text Editors 
    These are underestimated until you actually code. We use Panic’s Coda but the more popular choice (for the Mac) is Macromates’ Textmate.
     
  • File Transfer
    Coda handles general file updates to our servers but we also use Panic’s Transmit for uploading/working within both our CDNs, Amazon and Highwinds (Disclosure: Highwinds is an FJP partner).

How to learn them all?
Start with each publisher’s site and then with general online searches. These will usually lead you back to communities on YouTube that provide tutorials.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for take out a subscription at Lynda.com. Lynda’s a learning community that provides screencast tutorials on both multimedia production and code development.

Better, the monthly subscription is inexpensive and your can cancel as soon as you’ve finished what you want to learn. For example, sign up for a month, learn a piece of software and then cancel until you need to learn something new again.

Anyway, that’s the biggie picture. Hope it helps. — Michael

We want to make journalists’ lives easier through software. From what we’ve heard, transcription is one of their pain points and while Transcribe can’t do the transcription automatically for them (at least, not yet) we could make the transcription process a little easier for them through our tool.

Online Journalism Blog, Interview: the team behind the Translate audio transcription app 

The free app is here.

(via copyeditor

FJP: We haven’t tried it out but if you have, do let us know what you think.