The AP Stylebook app for mobile devices.

There are numerous apps out there that can benefit journalists. The list is quite expansive and ranges from apps that help with audio and video recording/editing/streaming (such as ReelDirector and UStream) to photography and photo editing (Photoshop Mobile) to blogging (WordPress Mobile). It was hard to focus on just one, which is why I posted the two lists that encompass all these helpful apps in my previous post. So, I decided to go a more traditional route and focus less on a cutting-edge technological app and more on something that supports the basic tenants of journalism. This app is the Digital AP Stylebook that is available for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches, BlackBerrys and Androids.

A rather simple app, yes, but as journalism students (and as journalists) we cant deny the importance of the AP Stylebook. In a world where journalists are increasingly mobile and reporting, writing, editing and producing work right on the scene, it may be inconvenient to lug around a hard copy of the AP Stylebook with you. In fact, I assume a lot of journalists leave the Stylebook on their desk when they go out in the field to report. With this app, you have all the information you need right on your mobile device, so creating stories in the field becomes much easier and your field writing will become much more reliable in terms of its adherence to AP style.

Also, I believe AP updates the app periodically as changes and revisions are made to the AP Stylebook, so unlike your hard copy book that remains static and can become outdated, the app will keep you at the forefront of AP style techniques.

The AP Stylebook app is straightforward. It isn’t a fancy journalistic app by any means. It does, however, help support the basic tenets of journalistic writing, so its importance is immense. A journalist who is producing work out in the field and/or on the go from mobile devices can benefit greatly from having this convenient app. You can quickly search for words and flip through the various categories – for some, this may make it a faster and easier alternative to the actual physical AP Stylebook. You can also add notes, create your own custom entries and bookmark more frequently visited listings.

I have not used the app myself, but after looking at the pictures it seems like the app’s interface is simple and would be quick and easy to navigate. In the Apple App Store, it costs $24.99. I personally have used the online version of the AP Stylebook for over a year now, and find it much more preferable to my hard copy  book. It just makes using the stylebook a faster process. If the app is anything like the online version, then it is a worthy product.

Great links for apps and mobile digitial tools for journalists.

This isn’t a post to focus on anything specific, but here are two links that contain compiled lists of “essential” apps and mobile digital tools for journalists. For the second link, the list of apps/tools is at the bottom of the page. There is a lot of good information here.

Study: Viewers turning to YouTube as news source

According to a study by the The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, YouTube is becoming  “a growing digital environment where professional journalism mingles with citizen content.” It seems much like how Blogs have helped create the explosion of “citizen journalists” and the like, YouTube is turning into another avenue where this form of journalism (if that is what you’d like to call it) is expanding.  YouTube is proving to be an invaluable resource for many individuals seeking first-hand video accounts of things like natural disasters and other high-profile news events. In a way, YouTube is kind of working like Twitter. People are able to quickly upload footage of events at a close to real-time capacity, with little to no editing, to present relevant footage. These “news” videos are like the video version of a Tweet. Also, many news outlets are now taking footage that has been directly uploaded to YouTube by normal citizen users and using that footage in official news videos. As people turn to YouTube videos as a news source, and news sources use YouTube users’ videos, the distinction between professional journalism and citizen journalism further blurs.

I personally think YouTube is a great source to supplement individual’s need for more news and current event-related videos. The ability we now have to access footage of first-hand accounts of events from multiple sources is quite amazing.

*UPDATE – I’m watching CNN right now. A number of top Syrian officials were just killed by a rebel bomb blast. All the video footage CNN is showing is labeled as “YouTube/Amateur Footage” and shows us on-the-scene vantage points of the building on fire and the aftermath of the bomb through shaky handheld cameras. All this footage is being produced by normal citizens, adding to the growing nature of “citizen journalism” (even though these individuals taking the videos and pictures probably don’t necessarily consider themselves as journalists). All of this is an example of the growing presence of YouTube and amateur video in the news and the importance of it. The unprecedented amount of video, audio and photographic evidence we have access to for events that are occurring in real-time is groundbreaking. Take this Syrian bombing story for example. Before the advent of YouTube and easy-access to amateur video online, news outlets would generally not have any video/audio/photographic evidence in a real-time format (or even at all) for something such as this unless they had proactively set up a film crew in the area and anticipated an event beforehand. That, however, is an extremely difficult thing to do with most news events, especially ones related to disaster and violence. In this case, YouTube videos are feeding directly into the story being carried by major news outlets. As viewers, we are seeing events occur and unfold in a much more timely manner than ever before thanks to websites like YouTube.

What’s next for newspapers?

The topic of how the newspaper industry is changing has already been extensively covered and everyone in this class knows about it. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse with this article, but I actually think it is rather interesting as it offers some greater insight into what some of the big publishers are doing to adapt (or not) to the new demands of the industry.

The article focuses on three strategies three major news owners/corporations (Warren Buffett, the Newhouse family and Rupert Murdoch) are each embarking on to keep themselves viable. While these strategies may be recognizable to members of this class, I think matching each strategy with the its respective publisher, as the author does, provides us with a great tool to better judge the feasibility of each strategy. By knowing which publisher is using which, we are able to trace what strategies will ultimately be successes or failures.

The author defines the three approaches as:

∷ Farm It – Keep doing what you do today as well as you can in the hopes of optimizing the existing franchise for as long as possible. This presumes that (a) the company will operate in a reasonably hospitable and predictable market environment and (b) management is sufficiently skillful to execute smartly with the available resources. 

∷ Milk It – Accept the inevitable decline and fall of the traditional newspaper model and then whack costs to extract the most profits from the decaying business for as long as possible. On the day you no longer can turn a profit, throw the keys on the table and call it quits. 

∷ Feed It – Determine that even the most proficient management cannot overcome the fundamental changes in the marketplace that have been cutting readership and revenues since the Internet arrived two decades ago. Instead of retreating, however, you leverage the waning strengths of the legacy business and invest aggressively in new digital products to reposition it for the future.

I find it surprising that all of the publishers did not choose the last option, Feed It. I think there will always be a place for the traditional paper newspaper, but that is no reason not to aggressively tap into other forms of digital media that will maximize readership and profits. It seems that no other industry gets stuck in ways so much as the newspaper industry does at times. Innovation is vital to stay in business. This is how it works in every other industry, and the news industry is no exception.

About our changes: Details on how quality journalism will continue

This is a short article written by Kevin Wendt, who currently serves as the editor of the Huntsville Times. Wendt will soon be vice president of content for the newly created Alabama Media Group. The article is an interesting breakdown of one newspaper’s staff cuts. It provides real insight into what kinds of jobs newspapers are scaling back. It also highlights why such staff cuts are necessary, and how the newspaper will continue to provide quality journalism in the face of a reduced staff and limited circulation. For students such as ourselves, the reality of job scarcity in the journalism industry is something we all must face, so this article sheds light on an important issue. It appears Wendt will provide weekly updates regarding these issues, so it may be of value to check his posts every now and then.