Website Design

A website design course at the University of Wyoming

Tag: hints (page 1 of 5)

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.

Social Media Management for Journalism, PR, and Advertising

How Social Media is Used by the Big Three Media Fields

Social media is for you. The aspiring journalist, sports commentator, marketing executive, advertising director, or public relations manager, all of these fields rely on social media now.

You can use social media:

  • To help you create a presence and voice
  • To promote your stories or your products
  • To search for story ideas and sources
  • To network with others in your field
  • To engage with your audience, start a conversation

No doubt, social media is changing our media world. Let’s review some resources.

Please choose to review either the journalists, PR, or advertising sections below. Review each link in your chosen section. Write down 3 things that you’d like to share with the class about what you learned from reading these articles in your section.

There are also some helpful hints that could apply to journalism, public relations, and advertising. Keep up to date on these hints for social media at Social Media Examiner. Here are some of the most helpful posts and lessons that I’ve discovered on this website:

Critical Analysis and Comparison of Two Organizations’ Social Media Management

Blog Post #8 Due on Fri. Nov. 4 by 11:59 p.m. | Presentations of Results on Monday and Wednesday

For Blog Post 8, you will write a critical analysis and comparison of two organizations’ social media management styles. Download Blog Post 8 for details. Here’s the short version of the assignment:

  • As you sit down to do your analysis, be sure to review these links above that we’ve reviewed.
  • Use the specific advice offered in these articles as you conduct your analysis.
  • Examine the 6 major social media platforms noted in the assignment: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.
  • Take notes of your experience. Your notes should be grounded in the advice from the articles. Your notes will be the basis and foundation for your blog post.
  • Answer all required questions in the assignment (broadly speaking, you must compare the organizations’ social media presence, suggest three reasons why each organization is using social media effectively, and three pieces of advice for each organization).

A Focus on Twitter: Basics to Understand Before Your Live Tweeting Assignment (Blog Post #9)

Know the basics. @username, #topic, and RTs (retweets).

Establish a voice. There is a lot of noise out there. To get engaged and get noticed, you’ll need to decide what “face” you want to reveal to the Twittersphere.

  • For me, @klandreville, my twitter voice is related to political communication and news research, teaching, and education.
  • For @Anna_Rader, one of our guest speakers, her voice is “NPR junkie, music lover, cinephile, Wyomingite, nerd. Digital Media Coordinator @WYPublicRadio and Digital Producer of @HumaNatureShow. Opinions are my own.”
  • Brainstorm about your Twitter voice.

Once you have a voice and identity in mind, find similar people to follow. To engage with a like-minded community, search for people to follow at “Who To Follow.” Twitter will suggest some people after you write your identity summary and begin posting.

Share and gather information. For professional use, you can use it to quickly share and gather information real-time (e.g., promote events) with people interested in your writing, journalism, company, etc. Retweet relevant information to your field as well. Retweeting build followers.

Brand management. You can use it to hear and address praise and complaints about your writing or company. Search for your favorite (or least favorite) companies to see how they’re using Twitter and Facebook.

  • For example, Southwest is known for their fantastic customer service. Twitter and Facebook only help that image.

Contribute to the community. Actively search and share information related to your field. Followers will be happy and more informed. And they may retweet, which brings you more followers.

  • For example, AEJMC (a nonprofit mass media association) shares valuable information about journalism, multimedia, public relations, and advertising to followers.

Start a story and use visual writing. Live events can be tweeted and facebooked while on the scene. Stories you’re working on can be previewed with tidbits and snippets of writing. Direct people to the full story. Use strong verbs, adjectives, and visuals.

  • For example, Joanna Smith, a Toronto Star reporter covering the Haitian earthquake, wrote a series of earthquake-related tweets. She created an unraveling narrative through each snapshot.
  • “Was in b-room getting dressed when heard my name. Tremor. Ran outside through sliding door. All still now. Safe. Roosters crowing.”
  • “Fugitives from prison caught looting, taken from police, beaten, dragged thru street, died slowly and set on fire in pile of garbage.”

Engage with the community. There are live chats via Twitter. It can be a learning environment. Retweet all relevant information to your field.

  • For example, there are live chats on Twitter about journalism. Search for #journchat.
  • For example, ask questions relevant to your field. Laurel Papworth (@SilkCharm) asked, “Dear #PRChat PR people how is #BigData affecting your industry relationships with journalists? #Journchat #RunningScaredYet? :P”

State your opinions, but be professional. Everything you say on Twitter can be retweeted (unless you have your settings on private). Facebook profiles can be viewed (and I assume that they can be hacked too). Everything lives forever online. All of your tweets can be searched (see SnapBird). Be paranoid about that.

  • For example, one student was tweeting about dislike of a professor’s course and the professor engaged the student to suggest what the professor should improve. You be the judge about the conversation tone.
  • Student Tweets: (1) UUUGGGGHHHHHH She is working my nerves!! I hate new professors!! (2) I swear [professor’s name] is too much for me! (3) Soooo I can’t talk too bad about my professor on twitter anymore…because now we have to follow her ass!!
  • Professor: @StudentName After reading your multiple tweets about your disappointment in my teaching style, what would you recommend I do differently?
  • Her follower responded: Double yikes! I hope your student realizes you are also followed by PR execs who make hiring decisions…”

Represent. One tip from Intel Corporation’s social media guidelines:

  • “Perception is reality. In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as an Intel employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about Intel by our shareholders, customers, and the general public-and perceptions about you by your colleagues and managers. Do us all proud. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with Intel’s values and professional standards.”

Crowdsource. Use followers for information. Make a call or solicit them for information.

  • Find anecdotes and exemplars for stories. Denver Post did this to find the human face to their story on parents stealing their childrens’ identities and then raiding their credit.
  • Collect data using Google Docs to create a Google Form. Then, share link on social media for quick, informal surveys. Denver Post used this technique to find people live-blog their responses to the first 2012 presidential debate in Denver.

 

Picture1

The Denver Post crowdsourced for their article on parents stealing their children’s identity.

 

Social Media Management. Monitor social media across Twitter and other platforms with the following tools:

More Advice from Twitter Experts at the BBC Journalism Academy: Below is a summary of the best tips.

  • Keep tweets simple.
  • Promote your content and work. Ask a simple question and link to the content. The idea is to intrigue, not give away all the content.
  • Avoid “clickbait” which is perceived as a marketing ploy and game to people.
  • Do not tweet too much of one side of an argument. It appears as if you are promoting them. Be balanced, even with Twitter content and attention.
  • Do not use too many hashtags (limit to two). It drowns the message.
  • Use images and videos if they add to the content. No stock photos or mundane photos.
  • Be helpful, open, honest and authentic. Be funny (in a professional and clever way) and social.
  • Think dialogue, not monologue.
  • Don’t retweet without reading and checking the retweeted content first.
  • Check the grammar and spelling!
  • “The don’ts? Don’t tweet angry, vengeful or drunk. Always be yourself.”  — @tomfordyce, chief sports writer @BBCSport

Live-Tweeting Practice

We will practice live-tweeting another speech: Emma Watson’s speech about gender equality to the UN.

Report from a journalistic point of view. Type out your tweets and try to keep them less than 140 characters.

Gathering Audio – The Artform

Audio Interviewing Tips

Gathering audio that is clean, clear, and crisp is no easy task. This post outlines some hints for you to consider before you conduct audio interviews. It is developed from the hints listed on MediaStorm’s audio training page.

Know Your Equipment: Be comfortable operating your audio recorder. You should know where the buttons are without looking at it. You should know what all of the buttons do. If you’re uncomfortable with the audio recorder, your subject will be as well.

  • So, practice with your audio recorder, even if it’s just your phone, BEFORE your interview.
  • Also, be sure that you can confidently get the audio file from your phone to a computer and opened in Audacity. Practice now.

Location: Find a quiet location with little background noise. Find a spot with soft surfaces that absorb sound. A couch or fabric chair is better than a wooden chair. Cover a table with a blanket. A car with closed windows is a great location. Avoid hallways and large rooms that echo.

No Ambient Noise During Interview: While you do want to use ambient noise in your audio story, you don’t want the ambient noise to interfere with the person speaking to you. Avoid consistent background noise by picking a small quiet room with carpet and soft chairs. If using the TASCAM, try using the foam covering to see if it helps quiet ambient noise. You want to collect ambient noise separately and not fight it during the interview.

If Ambient Noise is Unavoidable: Press the record button before you begin the formal interview. Allow the recorder to collect the ambient noise without anyone’s voices interrupting the ambient noise. This gives you clean ambient noise to insert into any pauses during the editing process.

Get Close: Put the microphone about 2 inches away from the person’s mouth if you’re recording at a moderate “rec level” (about 5-7 on the TASCAM). You can put the microphone farther away if you’re recording at a higher “rec level” (about 9-10).

  • Remember though — when editing, it’s easier to bump up the volume than bump down the volume. Thus, err on the side of caution and do not record at a level that is TOO LOUD.

Use Headphones: Put your headphones into the headphone jack on your digital audio recorder. Hit the “record” button. Now ask the person to talk. Ensure that you can hear the person clearly. If you can’t hear them clearly, put the microphone closer to their mouth and/or increase the “rec level” to a higher sensitivity. Keep the headphones on your ears during the whole interview. You’ll know exactly how the person sounds the whole time.

Speak Up: Ask the person to speak up and speak louder if you can’t hear them properly and clearly when you have your headphones on.

Don’t Fidget: Do not fidget and play with the audio recorder while gathering sound. The audio recorder picks up the noise when you rub your hands on it. Avoid this by not fidgeting.

Focus: There’s many things to think about while conducting an audio interview. Can you hear them clearly? What are they saying? What’s my next question? Where is the interview going? How can I take the interview in a different direction or somewhere I hadn’t planned if they say something interesting?

  • If you don’t get the 5-minute interview right the first time, do it again!

But Also Engage: Listen to the person. Make eye contact (don’t look at their mouth). Seem genuinely interested in their story. After they’re done speaking, stay in silence for a moment. They may add more detail to their thoughts.

Uh huh: Don’t do it. Avoid saying those filler words during an interview. You don’t want YOUR voice recorded when the person is talking. Instead, nod, smile, use eye contact, and lean forward to encourage the person.

Avoid Comment. Resist the urge provide in-depth responses or comments to your interviewee during and after everything he/she says–that means more editing for yourself or not being able to use the audio at all.

Pause. During the audio interview, leave a brief pause after the interviewee finishes answering a question and before you begin your next question. Giving more pause will leave you more room for editing.

Ask Explanation-Needed Questions: Don’t just ask, “How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a journalist?” You’ll get the answer, “I few years ago.” Ask questions that need more explanation, “What inspired you to become a journalist and when did you make this decision in your life?”

  • You want the person to answer in complete sentences that clearly answer the question, not short phrases that may need a narrator’s explanation.

Ask Again: Don’t be afraid to ask “Why?;” “Please explain that more in-depth.” “Please say that again, I didn’t quite understand the first time.”

Ask Sensory Questions: “Tell me about…”; “What did it sound like when…”; “How did it feel when…”; “What did it smell like…”; “What did it look like when…”; “Describe the scene for me.”

Last Question: Always ask, “Is there anything else I should have asked? Is there anything else you want me to know?”

Audio Editing Tips

Consider these audio editing suggestions.

  1. Decide how you want to organize your story before you begin editing; know what the beginning, middle, and end should be before you begin editing.
  2. The end should bring closure and finality to the interview topic. Don’t end with a statement that leads to more questions from the listener.
  3. Use the zoom feature extensively during your editing, it really helps get the cut to be as flawless as possible.
  4. There are two ways to edit audio: Build or destroy. To build while editing, take a blank audio track and then create an interview from the original. To destroy while editing, take the original interview and cut it down.
  5. While editing, write down the points in the track that you’re working on. That way when you go back and listen to it, you can listen for the cut/transition and move things around faster by referencing those breaks in your notes.
  6. Always save the original audio file separate from the file that you’re currently editing. Also consider saving “editions” of your audio file such that each audio editing session that you engage in is a unique file. That way, if you make a grievous error, then you can revert to the next most saved/updated/edited file.

SoundCloud

In our unit on audio, you will use Soundcloud to share your audio files on your blog. Let’s register.

Practice

There is no better way to learn audio reporting than by trying it out for yourself! So, let’s try to record ourselves on our phones or devices. Let’s get it off our phone and on the computer. Can you open it in Audacity? Or, do you need to convert the file? Google your questions about your specific phone or device.

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.

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

Look, Listen, Tell, and Show: Soundslides Assignment

Soundslides: Audio + Photos

When you gather audio and photos for a news story, you are making the story more marketable. And as our guest speakers have told us, telling stories in multiple ways makes the story more accessible to your audience. Your story can now be told with images, with sound, or with both. Not only will you have captions for your photos, but you’ll have a voice and ambient noise that compliment the captions.

We’ll be working with Soundslides to combine our audio and photography skills. You’ll be working in groups to get an idea of how to balance everything. It will help to have one person focusing on photography and one person on audio. However, in a future job position, you may to do both tasks, so don’t neglect learning about your partner’s task. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions or comments to your partner if you think it will improve the story. At the end of the experience, ask your partner for their advice and tips so that you can excel at the task you didn’t do this time around.

The topic can be on anything! It can be about sports, science, the environment, technology, health, politics, economics, community affairs, the university, or a personality profile.

For story ideas, you can check out UW’s calendar of events, UW’s public outreach, UW’s news and announcements, WyoVocal, The Branding Iron, and the Laramie Boomerang. The story does not have to be university-related, but that’s where many of you may want to start brainstorming.

Basically, you’re doing an audio story with photos. The audio should tell the story in an engaging way and your photos and captions should compliment your audio story. Of course, your audio story should answer the the who, what, where, and when. But, more importantly, your audio should relay information that is compelling and emotional. It should also tell us how and why. It should make us think and feel the story.

Remember that the audience is more forgiving with the photography compared to the audio. If the audio is done poorly with harsh edits and a confusing storyline, then the audience loses interest and forgets about the great photos you have.

The captions should have all the essential information of the photo: who, what, where, and when. A reader should be able to read the captions and understand the basics of the story without listening to the audio.

Let’s take a look at the Blog Post 8 – Soundslides Project assignment details.

Examples

Here are some student examples of Soundslides stories.

Brooke Eades (The Nutcracker)
Egla Negussie (Dangers of I-80)
Dyann Diercks (UW band)
Jessica Romero and Hailey Hawkes (about Roller Derby)

Tips for Gathering Audio and Photos

When you’re on-location and reporting the story, you should consider what to gather first: the audio or the photos. Of course, if you go to report the story with your partner, then you both can get started at the same time. The photographer can take relevant photos while the audio journalist interviews the subject.

However, when you are working alone in the future…

Collect the photos first if:

  1. You think the light is perfect
  2. You think the light will soon fade
  3. You think the subject is quiet and needs to loosen up before the audio interview
  4. You want to get a feel for the subject’s job, hobby, etc. before interviewing them about it.

 

Collect the audio first if:

  1. You find the subject is nervous about getting their picture taken
  2. The subject is very chatty and is eager to talk with you
  3. The light is not great and you want to wait to see if the light improves

 

When working alone, you have to accept the fact that you’ll probably miss a great photo while gathering audio, and you’ll likely miss a great quote while gathering photos.

And that’s OK.

More tips to remember for gathering photo and audio together:

Gather more information than you think you need.
If you need to gather a second round of photos, then don’t be afraid to do so. If you need to re-interview the subject after first collecting audio and then taking photos, then don’t afraid to ask for 5 more minutes of their time.

Importance of matching photos with audio.
If you collect a great quote, then be sure to also get supporting photos for the quote. If you collect a great photo, be sure to gather audio from the subject that is related to the photo.

Plan for having one photo for every 7 to 9 seconds of audio.
That will help you determine how many great shots you need while on assignment. Thus, for a 2-minute story, you’ll need about 15 photos on the screen for 8 seconds each. For a 3-minute story, you’ll need about 22 photos. And for a 4-minute story, you’ll need 30 photos. For this assignment, your story needs to be between 2 and 4 minutes.

Keep track of what you shoot and what you record.
If you get a photo of a truck driver starting up his semi, then collect audio of the hum and roar of the semi’s engine. Finally, record the truck driver’s answer to your question of how he copes with the loud noises associated with trucking.

You’ll notice that some of your photos lead to more interview questions and ideas of what kind of audio to collect. You’ll notice that some of your audio and ambient noise lead to more photo ideas.

This blog post was based on MediaStorm’s tips on collecting audio and photos. Check them out for more information.

And please see the Soundslides tutorial on YouTube if you need help with the technology. Here’s another help page for Soundslides as well.

Download a free trial of Soundslides so you can work from home, too.

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