Thursday, February 27, 2014

Use the Potter Box to help answer digital ethics dilemmas

Oh yeah, the Potter Box! I remember learning about this 150 years ago in college.

It came up again yesterday during a discussion about whether it's ethical to live-tweet from a trial.
This is a great tool to remember when you're wrestling with new issues on the modern journalism front. List the facts, values, principles and loyalties of the situation and company. This can help identify potential ethical problems.

Read a wonderful article about the Potter Box and ethical questions here. 

Digital ethics question: Should you tweet the scanner?

Yesterday, I participated in a great discussion about ethical questions related to digital reporting.
One question that came up was especially interesting:

Should you live-tweet things you hear on the police scanner? 

I've seen plenty of reporters tweet things they hear on the scanner -- even in my own newsroom. Is it OK if you disclaim that you heard it on the scanner and it's not fact-checked? Here's what one journalist says about that:

I thought this insightful essay really captured the most comprehensive answer to this topic.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jux slideshow: Rated A

If you're looking for a simple way to make a beautiful slideshow, try

I recently used Jux to make a slideshow about the top 11 things to try at Boulder's new Trader Joe's store, and I have no complaints. Plenty of ways to customize, clean design, easy to figure out, easy to embed and share on social media -- this is my new go-to for slideshows.

I also tried

It was easy to make this slideshow -- until it crashed and said it had "been too long" since I uploaded pictures (5 minutes?) and that I needed to delete the slide -- which included the content I had written. I couldn't see a way to embed the slideshow anyway, so I'm officially casting this tool off into the Dumpster of journalism wasteland.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ScribbleLive lessons in live blogging the Red Carpet

In the past month, I have had a major crash course in: 
  • ScribbleLive for nationally syndicated live blogging
  • Pharell's hat, Madonna's old lady grill and the Mani Cam

I was giddy to host the Red Carpet for Digital First Media's Thunderdome syndication of the Golden Globes and the Grammys

But nervous, too. Hosting a live blog of a fast-paced, national event requires organization, preparation and the ability to think quickly on your toes. I couldn't force the latter, but I could beef up the first two to compensate -- and hopefully allow some brain space for snarky commentary to flow. 

As I'm gearing up for the Oscars in a few weeks, I'm thinking about what worked, what didn't work and other tips to having a seamless and fun live blog. 

Read this before you launch your own ScribbleLive project: 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Well, that's a GIANT problem I never anticipated.

I lost 1,000 Twitter followers in one hour yesterday.
For no reason.
These were real people who I know in real life, suddenly automatically forced to unfollow my feed.
This is a huge problem for someone who relies on social media for communication and sharing of articles.
I emailed Twitter's support crew but have not received any response. I began searching the web and found this may be a more widespread problem. Other people report the same thing happening to them.
The most frustrating thing is the feeling of frustration and powerlessness, because what can I do about this? Knock on Mr. Twitter's door and ask him to fix the glitch? There's not a human to be found.

The downside of relying on technology hits like a kick to the gut.

This is Twitter, coming straight toward my face with a ninja kick.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Can two reporters co-write a story at the exact same time in different cities?

Yes. Turns out, they can.  

A few weeks ago, I learned some heart-wrenching details about the story of a man who was killed in the Colorado floods. The writer in me desperately wanted to cover the story, in a narrative form. 

But I learned that Whitney Bryen, a reporter at the Times-Call, was already writing a news story about a fundraiser for his family. It seemed overkill to write two stories, yet insufficient to run just one. Both Whitney and I had already conducted interviews, unknowing, of different people sharing different sides of the same story. 

So how could we best leverage our time spent with the smart usage of space -- and time? 

We decided to co-write the story together -- simultaneously, in Google Drive, from different cities. I wrote the lead, then I jumped down to what I knew of his story while she wrote the next few graphs, and we worked back and forth as a team, editing and adjusting, until we had crafted one story out of two voices. 

Before, this coverage would have been two separate pieces of the same story, slightly overlapping and maybe even passively competitive. But together, we wrote one of the most moving, full-pictured narratives I've ever been blessed to co-byline. 

The process of writing alongside Whitney was equally as inspirational and moving as the story that we told. Read it here: "You don't leave anyone behind."

How often could you tell richer stories if you shifted your workflow and habits and decided to work with other reporters and newsrooms, using technology as your bridge? 

'Constant interactivity in Boulder'

What is modern journalism? Who am I? Why am I here?
Is evolution a dimension of creationism? Etc. Etc.

Confession: I was super nervous when NetNewsCheck contacted me to speak about the important topic of "unbolting" and redefining the modern newsroom.

Luckily, the reporter did not quote all of the times I threw up into the phone. Metaphorically. Probably.

Read it here: "At Digital First, what 'unbolting' really means" 

From the article: 

Constant Interactivity In Boulder

Another DFM reporter who isn’t waiting to be unbolted is Aimee Heckel, a features writer for the 22,000-circulation The Daily Camera, its paper in Boulder, Colo., and another member of the Idea Lab. Heckel, who also blogs as The Modern Lois Lane, rebooted her own career with a question.

“If I could completely rewrite my job using technology to make it more relevant, realistic and effective, to be able to fill in the gaps that were left during the newspaper layoffs and staff shortages, what would it look like?” she asks.

The answer came by pulling together a working group of other tech-minded journalists at sister DFM papers including The Longmont Times-Call and Loveland Reporter-Herald in Northern Colorado to start playing. The group regularly meets, virtually and in person, to discover new apps and different ways of writing and reporting.

Read more here.