Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's talk about twXplorer

See how I tried to make it look like my head is connected with that image of a lion-tamer? #nerd

Twitter is a crucial tool in the modern reporter's notebook. Why not order an upgrade?

My favorite new free Twitter tool is twXplorer, which is a much smarter tool for Twitter searches. Here are some of the things twXplorer can do, and tips on how you can use it for your next story.

twXplorer can: 

  • Search a term, and it'll offer you the most common related terms, hashtags and links. This helps you dig deeper. 
  • Search in 12 different languages -- great for bilingual communities like Colorado, and also international reporting. 
  • Save snapshots to return to later. 

Digital reporting lessons from the Colorado floods

A small workspace I carved out of the boxes of possessions
I packed and moved from the basement as my neighborhood flooded. 

Massive walls of water trapped me in my Longmont house for five days during the Colorado floods. Other journalists were trapped in our newsroom, living off Folgers and vending machine snacks.

Even a few years ago, my situation would have led me barely unable to contribute to the news coverage. But with a few digital tools and basic knowledge, I was able to help cover the flood live 24/7, other than a few hours each night of (reluctant) sleep.

Here are a few digital reporting lessons I took from my coverage of the Colorado floods:

1. Beats are meaningless when there's breaking news. You find a way to contribute and you step in. Some of my favorite coverage of the flood was by Denver Post food editor Kristen Browning Blas

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hey mom, I won! Modern Lois Lane blog receives Cammy Grande, Expert Level award

Great news! I'm super stoked and honored to learn that this Modern Lois Lane blog won a Cammy Grande, Expert level award at Colorado State University's Media Festival this year.

And that, even after I had to ditch out on speaking on a panel about "specialized topics" because we were closing on our new house at the exact same time. Aw, my sweet alma mater.

Perfect timing to be heading to CSU later this week to talk to a class about using Storify and social media for reporting. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 25, 2013

10 lessons from beyond the classroom at the ONA 2013

What could this sign have to teach us about modern journalism?

Sometimes, the biggest lessons don't come in a perfectly packaged workshop or classroom.

At the Online News Association convention in Atlanta, I learned so much in the sessions that most of my neurons short-circuited in excitement. But I also learned a lot outside of the sessions -- just observing, talking, thinking and, above all, listening.

Here are 10 things I learned at ONA13 -- outside of the classroom -- about journalism today:

1. We used to say "digital first." But to be forward-thinking, we should now be saying "mobile first." 

Increasingly more readers get their info on their mobile devices. Beyond asking, "How can we tell this story online?" we should be asking, "How can we tell this story on a smartphone?" Anything you do online should be mobile-compatible. Forget apps and websites that don't work on smartphones. They're already outdated.

If your newsroom doesn't have a mobile editor, assign that focus to someone yesterday.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Timeline of a Timeline class, and other free easy digital tools for journalists

Talk about a tangible new skill to start using today. I just returned from a great workshop by the Knight Lab called "Up your storytelling game with these free tools for journalists."

We learned about:
* Timeline, which is an easy way to build beautiful timelines quickly. So quickly and easily, in fact, that I built a timeline of the Timeline workshop live while watching the workshop. See below.
* SoundCite, which allows you to insert audio clips directly into your text, like this clip from the workshop.
* twXplorer, a new way to search Twitter, broken down by common terms, hashtags and links related to the term you want to search.

View my Timeline below.

Mind blown: Anticipatory computing.

This is what Amy Webb does to journalists. Well, her and flying droids.  

So. I had to go take a timeout in my room after Amy Webb's presentation at the Online News Association convention today. She shared 10 tech trends for journalists.

My expectations: Hmm, I will probably learn a few nifty new things that may be useful in the future.

My experience: 

That's me, on the right, the last time I recall being this excited.
Amy Webb = Strawberry Shortcake birthday party.
I want to transcribe her entire presentation, but that'd be redundant and also called plagiarism, so here is just one highlight that knocked my socks off.


Webb called this the "ultimate tool for reporters," expected to be available next year. She says every journalist should have an iPad on her desk constantly running Mindmeld, especially during interviews.

What it does? This is the beginning of "anticipatory computing." It listens to our conversation (or interview) and populates the screen with facts, articles and background information relevant to what we're discussing, in anticipation of what we might talk about next.

(Insert astonished Strawberry-Shortcake-birthday-party-face here.) 

For example, if I were reading this blog out loud while writing it, and simultaneously running Mindmeld on my iPad, I could, in theory, turn to my iPad at this very moment to read all about the history of "Strawberry Shortcake." Berry cool.

Oh, man, I did that. Gross.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

4 ways to make a more mobile-centered newsroom

A panoramic delight of the "20 ways" session. 

You need to be more mobile. 

Here are four quick tips from former NYT editor Fiona Spruill, as heard in the Online News Association discussion, "20 ways to turbocharge your mobile efforts (before it's too late):"

1. Live like your audience. Read your news on your smartphone and tablet. 

My take: Tell your kids to put their cell phones away, but pick up yours more. If you don't like reading the news on your phone, ask yourself why not. And then come up with a solution. A mobile one. 

I'm the creepiest person at the ONA13

What's black and white and totally backward?

So I arrived in Atlanta late/early after midnight yesterday/today. By the time I arrived, my roommate -- whom I've never met before in my life -- was already asleep.

The creepiest thing I've ever done is sneak into a hotel room and tiptoe around a sleeping female stranger, take off my clothes and climb into bed near her unsuspecting, dreaming body.

The first words we exchanged this morning were not at all awkward. Me: "This feels like a weird one-night stand. Hi. I'm Aimee. We've never officially met, but I stayed here last night."

Needless to say, the Online News Association convention is off to a stellar start for me!

Follow my live tweets @Aimeemay.
I'll try not to be so creepy from here on out.
No promises.

And just as I wrote that, my poor roommate sat down across from me and looked up to see my big head in her line of vision. She startled. Understandably.

I need to try harder.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A virtual day at the Four Seasons Spa in Denver

If only computers had a ctrl+alt+spa button that could virtually pamper you through the screen.

Well, here's the next best thing.

I recently had such an incredible experience at the Four Seasons Spa in Denver that a traditional blog just couldn't capture it. In this interactive, multi-dimensional image, I try to bring you there with me. I hope you enjoy even a fraction as much as I did!

Read the original coverage on the Spa Travel Gal's site.