Media Literacy, Blogging, & Photography

UW High School Institute

Tag: examples (page 1 of 7)

Week 1: Design Principles to Showcase Your Work

Why You’ll Thank Yourself for Knowing HTML & CSS

(1) You can now showcase your own material and skills: If you’re headed for a media or communication career that involves new media and social media, it’s a great idea to have your own website. You can post and host all of your journalism and communication material–print stories, audio stories, photography, video stories, slideshows, interactive graphics, artwork, etc. This effort will help you “brand” yourself. There is a lot of competition out there.

(2) You can now work with a content management system: Most large companies have a CMS (content management system) that is like a standard “shell” where you insert the content. You have little control over the layout and design, rather, you merely insert the content into the shell. With advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS, you will understand the CMS and you may even be able to make or suggest improvements.

(3) You can now design websites for others: Once word gets out that you can design websites, don’t be surprised if your friends, family, acquaintances, organizations, companies, etc., start asking you to design their website. You can make some money out of this skill!

Let’s read an article about getting a job in journalism code (from NICAR: National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting).

What are your thoughts on this Q&A about journalism and coding?

Design Principles for Creating a Clean, Professional Website

Emphasis

Definition: Highlights the importance of the site’s content. Also relates to hierarchy.

  • When creating a draft of your site, list all of the information that needs to appear on the page.
  • Then, number the information by order of importance.
  • Design the visual hierarchy so the page reflects the determined importance.
  • Avoid emphasizing everything and avoid emphasizing nothing.

Good example.

Balance

Definition: How the elements in a design are distributed and how they relate to the overall distribution of visual weight within the page. As elements are grouped together in a page, visual weight is created. You want to balance the visual weight so as to create stability. Two kinds exist:
1. Symmetrical Balance: Equal visual weight is given to elements so that two halves mirror one another. Example.
2. Asymmetrical Balance: Visual weight is distributed equally, but elements do not mirror one another. Example.

Websites can mix the two types as well. Example.

Alignment

Definition: The arrangement of elements in such a way that the natural lines (or borders) created by them match up as closely as possible.

  • Don’t mix alignments. Choose one alignment and use it on the entire page. Not-so-hot example.
  • Break this rule for creating contrast and focus. Like this.
  • Do not center everything.

Proximity

Definition: The relationships that items develop when they are close together. When items are close, ensure you want the relationship to exist. When items are far apart, relationships are less likely to exist.
Example of proximity creating relationships.
Example of potentially confusing proximity.

Repetition

Definition: Throughout the website, there are certain elements that are common and unify the disparate parts together.

  • Each page should look like it belongs to the same website.
  • Color, shape, line, fonts, spacing, layout, typography, and imagery are some examples of potential repetitive elements.
  • A benefit of repetition is predictability. Users will better understand the design, navigation, and hierarchy.

Good Examples: Color repetition. Font repetition. Layout repetition. Imagery repetition.

Poor Examples: Lack of color repetition. Lack of font repetition. Lack of layout repetition. Lack of imagery repetition.

Contrast

Definition: The visual differentiation of two or more elements. Contrast creates emphasis and focus toward the distinct elements, and can create a visual hierarchy as well.

  • Elements that have strong contrast appear distinct and unique. Elements that have weak contrast appear unified.
  • If you want elements to appear separate, use strong contrast. Go all the way. Don’t make them almost the same.
  • Ensure that some elements of your website have contrast, which subsequently creates focus. You don’t want everything to have the same visual priority.
  • Create contrast with color, size, position, and font.

Examples: Color contrast. Size contrast. Poor use of contrast. Another poor use of contrast.

Background Images

Related to contrast is the background image. Should you have one on your website? The answer: it depends. If there is enough contrast and the image is repeated in a seamless manner, then it is OK: Example 1 | Example 2.

Do not use a background image if the image if the contrast is too weak or the image is not seamlessly repeated: Example 1 | Example 2.

What are your thoughts on these examples? Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3

Flow

Definition: The path the users’ eyes follow as they examine a website. Flow results from the execution of the design principles explained above.

  • Consider that our eyes typically examine webpages from left to right and top to bottom.
  • Ensure our eyes do not bounce around the page, darting from right to bottom and back up.

Example of smooth flow. Another example of smooth flow. Example of poor flow.

Typography on the Web

This refers to the use of fonts, font size, and font style on the web.

  1. Text is appropriate size.
  2. Hierarchy of information is clear.
  3. Lines of text are not too long to read.
  4. Background does not compete with text.
  5. There is enough contrast between background and text color.
  6. Uses sans serif fonts for long portions of text.
  7. No large blocks of text in bold, italic, all caps, or small caps.

What do you think about these examples in terms of typography? Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3

Color Schemes

There are several types of color schemes to choose from when designing your website. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these terms and the color wheel.

  1. Monochromatic: Only one color is used, with varying values. Example 1. Example 2.
  2. Analogous: Several colors that sit next to one another on the color wheel are used. Example 1. Example 2.
  3. Complementary: Joins colors that sit across from one another on the color wheel. Example 1.
  4. Triadic: Three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel are used. Example 1.
  5. Color Discord: Color discord can be visually disturbing, attract interest, relay ideas or themes, and create surprise. Example 1.

You want to pick one color strategy and stick to it in order to create a visually appealing website.

Layout and Themes

There are many options when it comes to the overall layout and theme of your website. Here are some ideas:

  1. Ultra clean and minimalist designs lean toward minimalism, but emphasize the crystal clearness of the design. They are timeless and are easier to build and maintain. They offer professionalism as well. Example 1. Example 2. Example 3.
  2. Type-focused designs use the text as a dominant element and use text in an elegant way. Example 1. Example 2. Example 3.
  3. Visual-oriented designs use images, graphics, or multimedia in an elegant way. These websites may be a little more difficult for beginners to design and maintain. Example 1. Other examples of visual-oriented websites.

Note: Definitions and listed material are adapted from The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Vol. 2 as well as The Non-Designer’s Web Book, 3rd ed..

If you want to examine even more examples of websites, check out these student websites. Note that some websites are great and some are a throwback to poor web design principles from the 1990s.

Video Storytelling

The ability to tell a good story with video is a difficult yet important skill for journalists and communicators to learn. Video is not just on TV anymore — you can find video stories online and on mobile devices as well. You’ll work in teams of two for this project. Let’s partner up and review the instructions for Blog Post 10 – Video Storytelling.

Important video to watch if you’re shooting with your iPhone.

1. Pre-Production (Before You Shoot)

Choose a story (or event!) that is well suited for video. This includes stories that have strong visual components and that have any sort of motion.

Identify your sources. Seek out multiple and diverse perspectives for your story.

Write preliminary interview questions after researching the story. Plan out your questions, story focus, and narrative (i.e., beginning, middle, and end) in advance, as much as you can. However, also remember to be adaptable during the interview and ask appropriate follow-up questions.

“Show me, don’t tell me” is the mantra in video storytelling. Find a way to show a story unfolding with video. Minimize the on-camera interviews with people (i.e., “talking head interviews”). It’s more interesting to watch an event occur rather than here about it from an interviewee.

Plan to shoot a variety of angles and types of shots. For suggestions, see Production, below.

Consider how you (the reporter) will fit into the story. Will you appear on-camera to set the scene or conduct an interview? If you’d like to try that, go ahead! Or, will you be completely invisible to the audience, just like you were during the Soundslides project and the audio profile project? Or, will you narrate the story without appearing on-camera?

2. Production (When You’re On-Location)

Plan on shooting before and after the event (if shooting an event). This ensures you have a variety of material to create your edited story from. Also, it helps develop a narrative of before, during, and after the event.

Shoot B-roll. B-roll is supplemental footage that relates to your story. For example, a video story about the the UW track team’s meet should include video of athletes warming up, tying their shoelaces, talking with coaches, etc. These are the shots that you can use to fill time while an interviewee is talking or while ambient noise (e.g., background noise from the event or music) is playing. For a 2-minute story, shoot at least 30 seconds of B-roll footage.

Shoot on-camera interviews with your sources. When shooting interviews, remember to look around at your surroundings. Is it relevant to the story? Can you move somewhere else to get the interview that is not as chaotic or loud? Just as with the audio interviews, encourage your sources to relax, act natural, and provide context to the answer they are giving to your question. Don’t be afraid to re-shoot a question and ask a question again. Oftentimes, the source gives a better and more eloquent answer to your question the second time you ask it.

Optional: Shoot on-camera reporters. If you’d like to appear on-camera as a broadcaster at some point, then this project is a good opportunity to practice. You can introduce the story and provide context to the significance of the story. You can transition with your voice and appearance between story segments. And you can conclude the story and provide a summary or “what happens next” statement.

Shoot a variety of camera shots. Whether you plan to be a visual journalist or not, you need to understand and learn how to execute the types of shots. See this website for visual examples and descriptions as we go over the definitions below.

  • Extreme wide shots. Shows the whole entire scene of an event, location, or story. These shots give viewers information about where the story takes place. They set the scene and give context early on in a story.
  • Very wide shots. Shows less background and shows the subject in the large scene. The subject is barely visible.
  • Wide shots. Shows the whole subject so the visual emphasis is on the subject rather than the background.
  • Mid shots. Shows the subject even closer, but a bit of the scene is still visible in the frame.
  • Medium close-up shots. Shows the subject even closer and the subject’s features and expressions are more of the focus.
  • Close-up shots. Shows the subject’s head to shoulder area.
  • Extreme close-up shots. Shows only the subject in the frame, such as the subject’s eyes and nose.
  • Cut-in shots. Shows some other part of the main subject, not the face and shoulders.
  • Cutaway shots. B-roll that is used as transitions between shots or to add information not offered by shots of the main subject or scene.
  • Point-of-view shots. Shows a scene from the subject’s perspective such that you feel like you are in their shoes.

Optional: Camera movement techniques. Camera movements are more advanced production techniques. They may not work out well if you do not have a high-quality video camera. Thus, I would avoid these techniques unless you have prior experience with video or unless you have a high-quality video camera. If you decide to use camera movements, see the techniques below:

  • Zooming: Going from wide-angle to close-up or vice versa.
  • Panning: Moving the camera horizontally.
  • Tilts: Moving the camera vertically.
  • Tracking: Moving the camera around accordingly to track the subject.

Composition concerns: Give headroom so the interviewee has space above their head during the shot. Avoid distractions in the background of shots. Remember the rule of thirds still!

Be Flexible: No matter home much planning you do in pre-production, from deciding who you want to interview to what types of b-roll shots you want, something is bound to not go your way, or the event you’re at will be different than you envisioned. Be willing to change you plan during production based on what is happening at the event in real time.

3. Post-Production (The Editing Process)

Editing programs. You have access to Adobe Premiere Elements in this lab, CR 207, as well as Ross Hall 423 (next to my office), AS 228, and the IT building computer lab. However, you are free to use another editing program, such as iMovie, FinalCutPro, or Windows Movie Maker. Adobe Premiere and FinalCutPro are the industry standards for video editing. iMovie is pretty good for being a standard software on a MacBook. Windows Movie Maker is pretty awful and I don’t recommend it unless you have no other options. Also, consider downloading  a trial version of Adobe Premiere. The IT building has a beautiful Mac computer in the scantron room that has FinalCutPro on it.

Conceptual Editing. You want to brainstorm and plan out your story before you begin with technical editing. You want to have the story flow ironed out first. If you’re stuck, think about how you’d tell a friend your story. What did you start with? What else did you tell your friend? How does the story end? Also, search for sound bites that address the who, what, where, when, why, how, and so what.

The video editing process is similar to the audio editing process. Remember the tips associated with audio editing.

Keep your story focused — it’s supposed to be about 2-4 minutes.

Project Requirements

Below are the main points you need to consider while working on your project. I will use these elements to evaluate your work.

  • At least 2 sources
  • At least 5 seconds of ambient noise, natural sound, or music
  • Video is between 2 and 4 minutes
  • Video shots are diverse (see camera shots and camera movements above)
  • Speakers are introduced with titles and/or the speaker self-identifies themselves and/or the reporter identifies the speaker
  • Story has a beginning, middle, and end (narrative arc)
  • Editing is smooth

Video Storytelling for Public Relations, Promotions, and Marketing

Video can be used for a variety of different reasons including journalism, PR, marketing, and advertising, and the way that you edit and shoot a video is a little bit different for each one. In each case you want to be able to tell a complete story.

Journalism: Tell the whole story from all sides. Find opposing arguments for interviews so that viewers can get facts from both sides or multiple sources with different things to say. Add b-roll that is relevant to the story even if it is not the most artsy shot it might be the most informative.

Public Relations: In this case you will probably only be telling the story from one side, the side that the company, department, etc. is on, and you video will likely be positive, factual information about the company, etc. the b-roll shots in this type of video should highlight those positive things that the interviewee is talking about. Example

Promotions: These videos are a lot like advertisements. To make an exciting promotional video, you want eye catching shots, that include whatever it is that you’re promoting. A lot of the time these are artistic shots, or fast pace shots that keep the viewer engaged, and interested. Example

Video Storytelling Examples From Past Classes

Example of Promotional Story on a Local Company – Louisa Wilkinson and Taylor Dilts

Example of Journalistic Story on a Non-Event – Hannah Robinson and Esther Seville

Example of a Promotional Story on a Local Band – Kaisha McCutchen and Bianca Coca

Example of Journalistic Approach with No Reporter Narration – Edward Timmons and Miranda Anderson

Example of Journalistic Approach  With Reporter Narrative – Jordan Blazovich and Nick Robinson

Example of Journalistic Approach to an Event Story without Reporter Narration – Kaitlyn Camargo and Lauren Garrelts

Example of Journalistic Approach to a Non-event Story without Reporter Narration – Brittany Hamilton and Scottie Melton

Example of Promotional Approach – Courtney Gifford, Travis Hoff, Sam Weinstein
Border War: The ROTC Story

Photojournalism Basics

Purpose

Photojournalism is our window to the world around us. A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

The purpose of photojournalism is to capture the people and events that make the news. Photojournalism can supplement a text story or can serve as a stand-alone story.

We remember news stories in images because they are powerful and emotional.

Categories

The following categories are defined by the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) and included in the Best of Photography competitions. The College Photographer of the Year (CPOY) Awards also use these categories.

Feature (Enterprise): A photograph of a ‘found situation’ that features strong human interest elements, or a fresh view of an everyday scene. A picture that uses humor or focuses on the lighter side of life is well suited for this category. Examples

Portrait: A single photograph that captures a unique aspect of a local figure’s character and personality. Examples

Sports Action: A peak action picture that captures the spirit of a sports competition—either on the part of an individual or an athletic team. Examples

Sports Feature: A sports-related feature picture that depicts the jubilation of victory or the agony of defeat. The event covered should be separate from the game action or outside of the field of play. Examples

General News: Recognizing that much of the daily news coverage is planned in advance, we seek to reward outstanding achievement based on creativity and timing at organized events such as general meetings, promotional events and staged coverage opportunities. Examples

Spot News: An event that is not planned, so the photographer must react on instinct and news judgment. This picture may be of a breaking news event, or a part of issue coverage. Examples

Photojournalism Tips

The creative devices tips still apply to photojournalism. Other helpful hints are found below (adapted from Ch. 7 in our book and R. M. Thornburg’s suggestions in Producing Online News).

  1. Have a working camera with you at all times. Recall that AAron Ontiveroz, Denver Post photographer, said that the best camera is the camera in your hands.
  2. Have one clear subject in your photo. The subject should be in focus and stand out from everything else in the photo. A street is not a subject. Seven people walking down the sidewalk is not a subject. One person walking down the street is a subject. Note: This rule is sometimes meant to be broken. You can take great photos of a mass crowd or a group of people, however, more skill is required. It’s easier to stick with the rules as you’re learning. Then, break them later when you know what you’re doing more.
  3. Take a lot of photos. For every subject, take 10 photos. **I can’t emphasize this enough. Move around and take a lot of photos!**
  4. Act natural. Make yourself comfortable and invisible.
  5. Move around without violating Tip 4.
  6. Place subjects so that they are moving or looking into the photo, rather than out of it. For example, if a person is pointing to the right, be sure he is at the left of your photo.
  7. Keep the light behind you so the subject’s face is lit (unless deliberately creating a shadow out of the subject).
  8. Avoid using the flash as much as possible. Use natural light.
  9. If you’re shooting sports action, then avoid evening or low-light conditions (the photos will be blurry)!
  10. Be aware of the background. Make sure there are no trees or objects protruding from your subject’s head or limbs. And, make sure there are no photobombs.

Ethics

According to the President Emeritus of the NPPA Alicia Wagner Calzada, photojournalists must live up to a high standard because ethics are “what sets us apart from art and advertising.”

She notes that when journalists are reporting, they should not cave-in to pressure from people who ask, “what do you want me to do?” Journalists should instruct people to continue their behavior as if they were not present.

Our guest speaker, AAron Ontiveroz, also noted that photojournalism is capturing history the way that the stories actually unfolded. You are telling the story with images. You are not supposed to manipulate the story. These are reasons why there is a code of ethics.

Copied from the NPPA Code of Ethics

  1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
  2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
  3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
  4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
  5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
  6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
  7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
  8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
  9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

Breaking Ethics Codes

Following ethics codes is about establishing and maintaining the trust of our audience. The cases below illustrate when that trust was broken.

  1. Brian Walski from the LA Times combined two photos to create a more aggressive and confrontational presentation of the situation.
  2. Time magazine made OJ Simpson look more sinister by manipulating the color, burning the corners and shrinking the prisoner ID number on his mugshot. Newsweek did not alter the photo.
  3. Klavs Bo Christensen, a Danish photojournalist, was disqualified from a photo competition because of using too much color saturation.
    denmark_contest_images
  4. See more examples of sketchy photojournalism.

Basics of Photography

dslr-camera

While it is great to use a DSLR camera because they produce high-quality photos, you can still capture great photos using your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera.

For the next two weeks, we’ll be working on photography and photojournalism. While it is great to have an expensive digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, it is not necessary for this class. We can still take great photos with our smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras.

First things first, we’ll learn about the basics of photography and forever-useful creative devices.

Creative Devices for Composition

Good photojournalism begins with understanding basic composition and design principles. Here’s some easy ways to improve your shots.

Steady Does It: Hold the camera steady by digging your elbows into your chest, placing your elbows on something, using two hands, or leaning against a wall.

Move Around and Get Closer: You need to constantly be moving around to get a variety of good shots. Go on your stomach, your knees, a ladder, or chair. Change your position and your angle. Don’t be afraid to get very close to your subjects.

photographer_laying

Move around to get different angles and perspectives.

Use Vertical Shots: Don’t always shoot horizontals, be sure you use vertical shots as well.

Pick A Focal Point: The automatic focus on point-and-shoot does a good job at focusing on what you desire, but it is sometimes limiting to work with. So, when you want to focus on something very close and want to blur the background, you can use the “macro” function on your camera (if it has one).

Light: Natural light provided by the sun is the best light to shoot in. If there is bright sunlight and you’re shooting people who are facing the sun, they may squint and shadows may be cast on their faces. Be sure to avoid those shadows by moving around to find the best angle. If there is bright sunlight and people have the sun behind them, their faces will be dark. You can compensate by using a flash. Noon and mid-day sunlight is typically bad sunlight for photography. Sunrise and sunset light is better. But, partly sunny days provide the best light because it is much softer on skin.

shooting_into_the_sun

Shooting into the sun will create shadows on your subjects. This creates interesting contrast of color and texture. Alternatively, you could use a flash in order to provide some lighting on your subjects.

Now for the Top Composition Tips as outlined by Photography Mad, as well as a few more suggestions of my own. Some of these are also mentioned in Ch. 7 in the book as well.

  1. Rule of Thirds: Example
  2. Balancing Elements: Example
  3. Leading Lines: Example
  4. Symmetry and Patterns: Example
  5. Viewpoint: Example
  6. Background: Example
  7. Create Depth: Example
  8. Framing: Example
  9. Cropping (Note: This does not refer to cropping in Photoshop; this refers to compositional cropping when you take the photo): Example
  10. Color: Example
  11. Texture: Example
  12. Establishing Size: Example
  13. Contrast: Example
  14. Focus: Example

Let’s take a look at some photos on The New York Times Lens photography blog and talk about what kind of devices their photos use.

A note about your rights and duties as a photographer.

  1. In public, you can photograph anyone or anything. If they approach you and request you don’t take their picture, you may respect their request; but, keep in mind that they are in public and they cannot expect any privacy in public (i.e., you can keep taking their picture).
  2. In private residences, businesses, and property, you should get permission. They may not allow photography. **You can always ask for forgiveness rather than permission, though.**
  3. If people ask why you’re taking photos, explain it is for your class blog and schoolwork.

Writing Captions

If you shoot people, then get names and put them in captions. [Many students neglect this. You NEED names. Unless the person is too far away or completely unrecognizable in the photo.]

A well-written caption adds value and context to the image instead of merely describing the contents of the photo. Consider including information that goes beyond the obvious.

If you capture an event, then who are the key players in the photo and event? When was the event held? What was the purpose of the event? Where was the event held? Why should the viewer care?

If you capture a portrait or photo of a person, tell the viewer more about the person or context of the photo.

(Example of a caption with a person in the photo) Kristen Landreville teaches the Online Journalism class at the University of Wyoming on Tuesday morning. She is a professor of communication and journalism and is in her fifth year at UW.

(Example of a caption without a person in the photo) Yellow fall leaves litter the lawn on Prexy’s Pasture on Tuesday. The first official day of fall was Saturday.

Your subjects’ age and job description are optional in your captions.

Blog Post #4: Creative Devices Photography Assignment

Download the Blog 4 Assignment here

Journalism for the Web

Back to learning how to write for the web…

The following information is adapted from Ch. 5 and Ch. 6 in the textbook.

What Should I Do When I Interview Someone?

  1. First, realize that your interviews are essential to the story. Without strong interviews, you got nothing!
  2. Be prepared: Inform yourself about the topic, source, and/or interviewee. Do some background research on the story and educate yourself. Informed questions are the best questions.
  3. Practice your interview questions beforehand if you’re nervous or want to feel better-prepared going into the interview. It never hurts to practice. And practice being curious-sounding, professional, and clam rather than accusatory, aggressive, or a know-it-all.
  4. Make small talk before the interview. It relaxes you and the interviewee. And begin the interview with a softball question that you may not care too much about. This will relax the interviewee and yourself.
  5. Keep it conversational. Don’t ask one question after another with no casual feedback and discussion. You want to have a give-and-take, turn-taking conversation, rather than a firing-squad style conversation.
  6. Listen. Really listen to your interviewee talking as you take notes. Think about if you have any follow-up questions about their statements. If you don’t, then move on to the next prepared question.
  7. Prepare a basic outline of questions, but avoid reading them word-for-word. Again, you want to know your questions enough to ask them in a casual way to your interviewee. And you want to ask them when it’s appropriate to in the conversation.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. You want to understand the interviewee and the story well. You want to clarify things so you can clearly explain things to your audience.
  9. Ask the “do you have anything else to add before we finish” question. You never know what helpful information will come out!
  10. Allow silence. Silence is awkward. People fill silence with additional banter. It may be helpful banter for your story.
  11. Make eye contact, smile, and nod to show your interest. Try not to make the “uh huh” and “go on” noises. This is a bad habit and will ruin audio interviews if you engage in those behaviors.
  12. Also during the interview…Watch, look, and listen to the environment around you –> Reporters and storytellers are excellent observers and listeners. They are socially aware.
  13. Any other suggestions from you and your classmates?

What Tips Do You Have For Writing A Story?

  1. Write for the specific story angle, not the general story topic.
  2. Make it clear why the audience should care early in the story.
  3. Write a strong lead to pull readers in. Then expand on the lead in the rest of the story.
  4. Set the scene early in the story. Use anecdotes (short stories from your sources).
  5. In the middle, thoroughly explain the issues. Keep emphasizing the importance, so what, and impact of the story.
  6. Stick to facts as much as possible. If opinion is in your story, it should be your sources’ opinions, not your’s.
  7. Write with active, descriptive verbs whenever possible. Good example: Dr. Landreville teaches tomorrow. Bad example: Dr. Landreville is going to teach tomorrow.
  8. Save the most interesting and descriptive quotes for direct quotes in your story. Direct quotes that merely state simple facts, that are poorly worded, or that are boring are not helpful. Paraphrase that information.
  9. Let the subjects speak. We want to hear what the sources, not the reporter, have to say about this story. Facilitate this connection between the subjects and the audience by using a lot of quotes and descriptions (or if a visual presentation, showing the subjects).
  10. Transition well. Avoid jumping around. Avoid incomplete thoughts and unclear associations of story elements.
  11. Proofread! Be your own editor. Cut unnecessary words. Use the active voice. Clean up comma errors. Correct misspellings. Keep an eye out for grammar errors (e.g., its/it’s).
  12. Close the story with a resolution by saying what’s next or summarizing the outcome or providing an interesting or strong quote.

OK, OK, you now have those tips drilled into your head. What’s next to know about writing for multiple platforms? Well, it’s important to understand reading trends.

What kind of readers are out there?

There are three types of readers. You need to write for all three in a story.

  1. Comprehensive readers (read the whole story)
  2. Samplers (read the lead and parts of a story before quickly moving on)
  3. Scanners (read headlines, labels, captions, fact boxes, graphics, and other quick reads)

How should I write for all three types of online readers?

  • Online reading is 25% slower than print reading.
  • We scan more online.
  • We construct our own nonlinear reading experience online.
  • Thus, you need to use concise, informative headlines, summaries, and hyperlinks to more resources about the story.
  • Each paragraph should have no more than 2 or 3 short, simple sentences.
  • A direct quote should stand out in its own paragraph. Do not bury direct quotes in the middle of a paragraph!
  • Attribution side note. Good Example: “Attribute correctly,” said Dr. Landreville. Bad example: Dr. Landreville said, “Attribute correctly.”
  • Use subheadings in your story –> Otherwise known as “chunk” titles.
  • Bold the chunk titles.

Checklist for Blog Post 3

Keep your mind on these requirements and best practices while reporting and writing:

  1. Number of Interviews (3 minimum, face-to-face, unless otherwise given permission)
  2.  Minimum of two relevant photos (if not your photography, then attribute to the photographer)
  3. Two relevant links (at minimum)
  4. Story Structure
    1. Appropriate headline
    2. Sentence length.
    3. Paragraph length.
    4. Reporter presence and voice.
    5. Use of bolded chunk titles.
    6. Transitions between ideas.
    7. Minimum of 750 words
  5. Attribution and Quotes
    1. Paraphrased information vs. directly quoted information.
    2. Location of direct quotes (should be at the beginning of paragraphs)
    3. Frequency of direct quotes (every few paragraphs)

The Next Two Classes…

We will be writing our stories and peer editing our stories. Ideally, you would use Wednesday’s class for finishing writing your story, with having questions prepared for me and Cassie. You shouldn’t be just starting to write your story on Wednesday. Make the most of your time with these in-class workdays and be prepared on Wednesday.

Have a completed draft ready for FRIDAY’S class. We will be peer editing each other’s work.

As always, ask questions if you have anything that you’re confused about or not sure what to do. Best of luck!

Remembering the Groundwork of Journalistic Writing

Your First Journalistic Web Writing Assignment

We’ve covered a lot of multimedia reporting concepts. Now it’s time we venture into our first writing assignment that is web-focused. You can view the assignment instruction here: blog-post-3-journalistic-web-story

Today will we remember the groundwork — the basics — of journalism. This is adapted from Ch. 5 from your textbook.

All of you have some experience with these basics from COJO 2100 (Newswriting and Reporting). It never hurts to refresh our memories about some key concepts of journalism, writing, and reporting.

Brainstorming for news ideas and finding your story focus can be difficult. But, it is necessary before you jump into a story.

How Can I Think of Story Ideas?

  1. Feature story about interesting people, professors (read faculty bios on various department web pages), or organizations that the community might want to know more about.
  2. Events calendars:—
    WyoCal
    —Albany County Public Library Events
    Albany County, Wyoming Government
    City of Laramie Events (LaramieLive)
  3. What are people talking about on social media websites? Is there a story idea there?
  4. Bulletin boards. Always read them for interesting events, speakers, and meetings.
  5. Problems, controversies, or major issues going on in students’ lives or the community.
  6. Anniversaries and trends
  7. Profile on a business or organization you find in the Yellow Pages.

 

Don’t Suggest a Topic. Suggest an Angle.

What would you rather read about? (1) Student stress during finals week or (2) How a student organization offers massage, pet therapy, comedian performances, and healthy food during finals week to ease stress?

I bet story #2.

Story #2 has a strong angle, where story #1 is a general, vague topic.

I want you to write a story with a strong, specific angle.

 

Where Can I Find Sources?

  1. Expert sources: UW has a vast sea of experts in areas. Check out faculty members’ web pages in various departments.
  2. Journalistic sources: Consulting other media outlets’ past articles and issues can be helpful to locate sources and get ideas.
  3. Institutional sources: Social, cultural, professional, bureaucratic, or political organizations with particular special interests. Examples include political parties, government data, community volunteer groups, student groups, and sports clubs. You can find human sources as well as data from these sources.
  4. Scholarly sources: These are oftentimes highly credible and respected sources, and they are oftentimes undervalued and underused sources as well. Universities, scholarly research from the library, and medical and scientific research centers are examples. Detour –>Let’s learn how to find scholarly peer-reviewed research from the library! 🙂
  5. Informal sources: Observations about your surroundings. Take notes about what you and your subjects see, hear, smell, feel, experience.
  6. Sources to beware of: Wikipedia and other wikis, lesser-known blogs, and convenient sources like friends, neighbors, and family. Why?

 

Brainstorming Session

Below are six beats (i.e., topical areas). Story topics are below beats. You can pick a story topic I suggested or come up with your own. Remember that you need a specific, detailed story angle for your final story. Please be sure to run your story by me first.

Arts & Entertainment

  • Art shows
  • Music performances
  • Ballet and dance studio work or performances
  • Plays and theater
  • Movie openings or screenings

 

Recreation & Sports

  • Hunting
  • Adult sports leagues
  • Youth sports
  • Snowy Range Ski Area
  • Vedauwoo cross-country skiing
  • Ice rink
  • Other winter recreation

 

Health & Wellness

  • Healthy eating and nutrition
  • Stress management options and activities (e.g., yoga)
  • Wintertime activities to stay healthy
  • Counseling and mental-health related issues
  • Schools, childhood obesity, exercise, school lunches

 

Local Businesses

  • Profile of a particular business
  • Downtown Laramie shopping
  • Competing with Wal-Mart and chain stores
  • Using social media and new media for local businesses

 

University-Related

  • Budget and fiscal crisis
  • Profile on a professor
  • Profile on an interesting student
  • Synergy program
  • Outreach program
  • Study abroad programs
  • Alcohol awareness programs
  • Student organizations (e.g., religious student orgs, non-traditional student orgs)

 

Volunteering

  • School and tutoring-related
  • Soup kitchens and poverty-related
  • Elderly and nursing/retirement home related
  • Volunteering overseas
  • Religious-motivated volunteering

 

As I go around the room and visit with each of you personally, I want to hear your story ideas and angles now.

 

 

WordPress Setup and Workshop

First, it’s important to know that there are different types of blogs. Let’s visit these examples to see how people in our field are using blogs. Most major news organizations have journalist-authored blogs. For example, The New York Times has a large directory of journalist-authored blogs. My personal favorite is the LENS blog of photojournalism.  There are also many public relations oriented blogs as well: Cision, Bulldog Reporter, and and Holmes Report are a few top PR blogs.

For your blog, you’ll be posting your class assignments here to showcase your journalistic work, but I strongly encourage you to also post your thoughts, comments, goals, brainstorming ideas, etc. on your blog to practice your online writing skills and showcase your media work.

To be more successful with your media career, you need to create a brand for yourself by working hard at creating solid media stories. Let’s read to some branding principles.

Part of creating a brand, or a good reputation, is to know how to showcase your stellar ideas and high-quality professional work. So, feel free to post other professional material or thoughts to your blog, in addition to your required assignments for class.

In the end, you’re competing with hundreds of other students for those media jobs. Let’s take a look at recent journalism job and PR job postings.

So think of your blog as like a continually updated “live” resume and portfolio. Google yourself right now. What website pops up first? If you post to your blog frequently, then your blog may pop up first (which is what you want). You want employers to find your blog when they Google you. So keep updating it!

And you may want to connect your blog to your greater online presence. Post the blog link to your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other online presence you have.

Blogging Workshop

  • Create a WordPress account
  • Create an “about” page
    • Your name.
    • Some demographic information, such as where you are from and what your family is like.
    • What the purpose of this blog is (e.g., it’s to showcase your storytelling work).
    • Some interests and what you like to do in your spare time.
    • Your career goals.
  • Linking to other web pages
  • Posting photos and inserting other media or files

 

Write Your First Blog Post: See Your Blog 1 Assignment

  • Create a new post
  • Using categories
  • Using tags
  • Saving drafts
  • Publishing the post

 

Guidelines To Follow For Blog Writing

  • Update frequently
  • Write in the first-person (i.e., “I think) and use conversation-style that shows your personality
  • Provide specific headlines
  • Provide links elsewhere to helpful information
  • Allow readers to comment and comment back to readers
  • Are ongoing conversations among members of a community
  • Can be your professional portfolio, journal, or brainstorming session
  • Embed photos, video, audio, and other multimedia features
  • Are relatively short, usually less than 800 words

 

IMPORTANT: To log in to your WordPress blog, you can visit your blog url plus a “/wp-admin” at the end of the url. For example, to edit my blog, I go to “http://uwyojournalism.com/wp-admin”.  Alternatively, you can sign in through WordPress.com.

Last points: If you need any help setting up your blog and I’m not available for question, then try an online tutorial.

Photo Galleries & Slideshows

Photo Galleries

If you want to organize your photos in a gallery, then here are some options that I’ve created for you. Feel free to adapt this as you see fit.

Photo galleries are great for a large number of photos to display. If you only have a few photos to display, or want to display photos in a slideshow manner, see the section called Photo Slideshows below.

I will walk you through some of the major coding concepts. Otherwise, it’s up to you to play around with the HTML and CSS to adjust to your website. Please let me know if you have questions.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Photo Slideshows

Dynamic photo slideshows are even more complicated than static photo galleries. Let’s skim over a tutorial to get an idea of what’s involved.

We can work through the key pieces of code that you need to understand in order to adapt the code for your own website.

Photo slideshows are great for less than than a dozen photos or so. If you’d like to showcase all of your photos on a webpage, then go with a photo gallery. If you want to highlight a few important photos on a home page or content page, then go with a short slideshow.

Note: The more photos you add, the more complicated the code gets and the more you’ll have to work to re-write the code to fit your needs.

Example 1: Automatic slideshow with no captions

Example 2: Automatic slideshow with captions and play/pause buttons, very complicated code

Example 3: Automatic slideshow with captions when you hover

Example 4: Automatic slideshow with captions all the time

You could also download the code from the first example we looked at and edit that code as well.

Drop-Down Navigation & Appendix Top 7

Drop-down Menu

Drop-down menus can make navigating your website easier. I added a drop-down menu to my personal website.

In order to give you a cleaner version of the drop-down menu, we will examine the clean example on my website by first looking at the HTML and then look at the CSS.

The HTML is very simple. Let’s start there. Open a new notepad document and follow me.

You’ll see that the CSS is a little more complicated. Let’s copy and paste the CSS into a new notepad document.

  • We will break down the major components of the CSS file to understand what’s going on.
  • We will use our book’s Appendix section to learn more about the CSS once we’ve typed it in and done the example ourselves.
  • We will play around with the CSS code by deleting and altering rules in order to see what happens. –> This is a great way to learn what specific rules are doing in CSS!
  • If you need to use drop-down navigation, you will add the code to your website and adapt it as necessary. I will help you, if needed.

Also, don’t forget that I’ve added a new section of HTML & CSS Resources in our sidebar of links on our blog here.

Appendix Top 7

Appendix #1:  More CSS selectors (and the word-spacing  property)

Appendix #2:  Vendor (i.e., browser) specific CSS properties

Appendix #3: CSS transforms and transitions (we will do this example together)

Appendix #4: Interactivity (this is what JavaScript looks like)

Appendix #5: HTML5 APIs and web apps

Appendix #6: More on Web fonts

Appendix #7: Tools for creating web pages

First Day: COJO 4530

Students of media, journalism, and strategic communication (e.g., PR, advertising) need to diversify their skills. This class gives you a platform through which to share your work and add HTML, CSS, and Dreamweaver skills to your resume. You’ll create and design your own portfolio website to house your professional work. Get psyched, get inspired! This is fun stuff! Here are some examples of what I mean by portfolio website.

Student Example 1 | Student Example 2 | Student Example 3 | Student Example 4 | Student Example 5 | Student Example 6

DyannDiercks

Course Blog and WyoCourses Website

You can find all of our course materials on this blog as well as our WyoCourses website. I’ll post all of our course materials and assignments here, under the COJO 4530 tab in the left-side navigation column.

Now let’s review the syllabus (found on the COJO 4530 tab and the WyoCourses website).

 

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