Soundslide – Pumpkins on Parade!

Here’s a finished Soundslide I made in class today, using an audio file by Corinne Smith and photos by Saturn de Los Angeles. I’m very happy with the end result. Enjoy!

View the Pumpkins on Parade soundslide here.

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An Experiment in Storify

For my Storify, I had originally planned on doing a report on an anniversary event – a plane crash that had occurred 50 years ago near Laval, Quebec. As I sat down to write and compile the article on Saturday night, I noticed on my Twitter that reports were coming in saying that actor Paul Walker had died.

Immediately, my interest was piqued. I have never been the biggest fan of Walker, but I’ve seen plenty of movies that he’s been in and know how big of a player he was in Hollywood action movies.

My experience with Storify was certainly a positive one, and I found it very similar to the live-blogging I did with ScribbleLive. It was less stressful as there was no real-time aspect to it; I could take my time finding material and context to make the story interesting. I definitely found that I had to know what I was looking for, as well; looking for a good tweet to use in a story is like finding a needle in a haystack. The main issue I had with Storify was not directly related to the program itself, but rather the timeframe I decided to work in. Since I began my Storify as the news of Paul Walker’s death was just beginning to surface, I found it difficult to find information at the beginning. I was constantly refreshing my Twitter to see if any of his costars had reacted to the news thus far, coming up without much luck until I was 2 hours into my article. Next time I do a Storify, I think I’d like to wait a little until more news has surfaced, so I’m not working ahead of the story.


A Visual Timeline of the Maple Syrup Heist

A Visual Timeline of the Maple Syrup Heist



EDIT: I should mention that this couldn’t have happened without Emily Lee, who has another really awesome blog you can check out.

A foray into the world of liveblogs

My liveblog of the American Music Awards!

“Oh, liveblogging. What could be so difficult about that?” – me, one week ago.

Answer: a lot. Tonight was my first real foray into the world of liveblogging, and it was a learning experience.

This wasn’t my first time doing live coverage of a televised event, though it was my first attempt at doing it unbiased. Through my Twitter and GetGlue accounts, I often do commentary on my favourite television shows (Glee) and awards shows as they air. My comments have been featured in Storify stories, have been retweeted, and I often engage in discussions with others watching the shows at the same time.

I chose to cover the American Music Awards tonight, as it’s something that I’d be watching anyways and I know a lot of background about the artists and presenters. For the first half hour or so, I struggled. What was okay to write, and what wasn’t? What would count as biased, and would snarky comments get my media outlet in trouble? It was difficult for me, at least at first, to keep on top of things; a performer or presenter would come on, I’d open a new tab to go find some background on them to post or a video, and by the time I made it back the next person would be on stage. After a while, though, I began to get the hang of it, and let others’ Twitter comments and Instagrams speak what I would have otherwise wanted to write. I acted as more of an observer than a participant, and I’m okay with that. It was difficult at times; for instance, I’m a big One Direction fan, and wanted so badly to gush alongside other fans when they won awards. And I might have, a little. Overall, though, I showed self-restraint where I would have otherwise judged an event, and let the event itself do the talking.

The result, in my opinion, is a fairly entertaining read.

EDIT: I’d also like to mention how difficult it was to stay to the 90 minute blogging time! I was so into it by that point that I stuck around until the end of the show, like a real liveblogger would!

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Canada Parks Map

Here’s a link to my CartoDB map, looking at Canada Parks. The map looks specifically at the park names, their regional population, and the number of visitors they get annually.

Since it won’t let me embed the map itself, here’s a photo of it:

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Click the map to see the CartoDB in action!

As a bonus, click HERE to see a map I made of New Hampshire election results, sorted by party colour.

Working with Functions in Excel!

As an example of precision journalism, we’re working through how to gather and sort data in an excel file. I sort of followed the tutorial, but also created my own function to add up all the different types of crimes in each province, and display one total amount.

Here it is!

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In row C109, we can see the total amount of crimes in all of the provinces in Italy in 2011. (Retrieved using the =SUM function, adding the total of all the different types of crimes per province).

Social Media and You!

Photo by Craig Kohtz, used under Creative Commons license.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably aware of how much social media has affected our lives. Whether your poison of choice is a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or even YouTube, chances are you spend quite a bit of time on these platforms, writing, reading, and watching what other people have said. Journalists use social media as much as the next person, yet unlike the general public are being policed and censored as to what they can and cannot write.

As a response to the emergence of social media, most news organizations have created their own policies telling employees guidelines as to how to use these new tools. Social media policies, while necessary, tend to be written in a negative light. According to Mathew Ingram from GigaOM, news organizations “spend so much time talking about how bad social media is for the profession, and so little time talking about what makes it useful”. Policies tend to tell you what you can’t do, rather than what you can, rather than how you can engage with people and get an audience interested in you and your organization.

While this is somewhat understandable – if you’re working as a journalist, there’s a good chance that you’re working with sensitive knowledge that shouldn’t be released to the public. This is the same no matter what job one has; you wouldn’t post sales figures from your retail job online, either.

The Washington Post, among other news outlets, has made their social media policy available online. The policy itself is a laundry list of dos and don’ts. Among other things, they require their journalists to “refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything […] that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism”. Essentially, the policy is restricting journalists from having an opinion. Tweets and Facebook posts with opinions must be attributed to another party.

Most of the policy seems to talk down to journalists, treating them as if they leave their judgment and ethics at the door as soon as they log in to their computers. Steve Buttry, a long-time journalist, commented on the policy: “give good journalists 600-plus words of warnings and you pretty much are telling them you don’t trust their judgment”. This is true of not only the Washington Post’s policy, but those of many other news organizations as well.

According to Paul Balcerak, “creating a policy for Twitter that’s separate from the general conduct policy […] is stupid because it establishes different rules where only one set are needed”. He makes a good point; if the social media policy is basically reiterating what your code of conduct states. Journalists already know that they aren’t to talk about sources and sensitive information off the clock – whether this information is shared in person or on Twitter doesn’t matter.

The fact is that journalists are in the public eye, much like athletes, actors, and singers. Their fans – and yes, journalists can have fans – want to see a human side to the person they’re following. Anderson Cooper, a reporter for CNN, has over 4 million followers on Twitter. On this page, he posts a mix of personal tweets (such as photos) and tweets about events he reports on. These tweets follow CNN’s social media guidelines; however, Cooper has established himself as a sort of brand, and the tweets also give some more insight as to who he is as a person. If Cooper did nothing but post links to his own stories, he would likely not have as many followers as he does today.

While social media policies will continue to exist, organizations should take a cue from The Guardian, whose policy list includes only 10 sentences, which encourages reporters to acknowledge readers, and declare personal interest where applicable.

This is how social media should be done. Facebook and Twitter give journalists a unique opportunity to engage with their audience in a way they never have before, and establishing so many guidelines and rules is taking away from that. New media allows news to be collaborative, and journalists need to be allowed more freedom to use social media in a way that will benefit both themselves and their news organization.

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Maybe She’s Beautiful…

Maybe She's Beautiful...

Maybe it’s Photoshop!
Done with Adobe Photoshop spot healing brush tool.

Piano Man

Piano Man

A photo of a man playing a piano, cropped using Adobe Photoshop. Watermark added at the bottom right.

Busy Street – Straightened

Busy Street - Straightened

A photo of a busy city street. Originally crooked, was corrected using the crop tool on Adobe Photoshop.