AP adds new social media guidelines

Today, the AP updated it is social media guidelines to include live-tweeting and an updating section on how to connect with newsmakers on social media, further cementing social media’s importance in the future of journalism.

In brief, live-tweeting of public news events is fine as long as it does not come before the news desk. You are also not supposed to publish exclusive material on Twitter before the wire publishes it first. 

Making contact with politicians, news-makers, and sources is OK as long as its on both sides of a controversial issue. 

The AP is also weary of re-tweeting as a sign of endorsement or expression of a personal opinion. 

How do these new guidelines negotiate the already entrenched branding of the AP with the emergence with new and potential hierarchically disruptive forms of media as Twitter? Are these guidelines just helpful tips for new reporters, or is there something more subtly attached to each guideline about the established order? 

The CJR story on freelancing

The Ben Adler article on freelancing that I mentioned in class, which is in the current issue of Columbia Journalism Review, is available online. It’s worth reading … and Adler has a lot of good insights into what it’s like to cobble together a freelance career.

Also, I promised to send along a few links to online sites with useful tips for freelancers. Here are the ones that I thought had the most to offer, though there are lots of other sites that you might want to take a look at.

Daily Writing Tips, “20 Tips for Freelance Writers,” by Mark Nichol

GalleyCat, “NYT Magazine Editor Shares Tips for Freelance Writers,” by Jason Boog

Make a Living Writing, “The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance Writers

Poewar, “The Beginner’s Guide To Freelance Writing,” by Jenna Glatzer

If you find others that you think are really helpful, please post them!


5 things I like about Reeldirector (and a couple I don’t)

Here’s the link to my original blog I posted on my own site http://wp.me/p1P7zj-14

I’ve been trying to edit video in ridiculous places lately being so busy; in the car, at the movie theater (TED isn’t worth watching anyway). My friend and I have even planned to take our laptops to the Rockies vs Pittsburgh tomorrow if it doesn’t rain (no doubt we’ll become the subject of someone else’s blog then, we probably deserve to be made fun of).

That’s why I decided to try Reeldirector – a video editing app made for the iPhone. Here’s a few things I really liked about this app, and some I didn’t.

The app cost $1.99 from the iTunes store and took literally seconds to download.

User friendliness
It’s really intuitive, as soon as I opened the app I knew exactly where to go to do what (the + button to add video, the “T” to add text). It probably helped to have some familiarity with Mac video editing programs like iMovie.

Not skimping on the extra features
The text editor for example. There were about 60 different fonts to chose from (which I think may be more than iMovie?) I also like the overall clean modern look of text placed on screen. You also get placement options. You get 30 different options to transition between clips which is also huge for such a small device (in iMovie you only get 24 so on the whole this seems like more of a professional product).

Lots of import options for material
You can import movies and photo still images from the phone only (I doubt you would need to import from another device, otherwise wise why would you be editing on the phone). You can also grab music from iPod or record your own soundtrack. No upload from another video though.

Two drawbacks
My only criticism of this app for professional editing purposes is that you seem to only be able to trim in silent mode, whereas it really helps to be able to scroll through sound while you’re cutting so you’re not chopping out important pieces of information and editing to what you want to convey, especially important for news pieces. In addition, ot would be nice to have a very immediate easy to use social sharing function to post to Facebook, Twitter etc.

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.






For anyone that uses more than one social media network (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) I think Hootesuite is a good option, especially for businesses. Hootsuite is a management tool that allows content, feeds, and profiles to be updated from one place. Instead of logging into Twitter to post your status and then logging into Facebook to update the status, all of them can be managed from one place (the Hootesuite dashboard). I don’t really have a need to Hootsuite myself, as I only use Facebook, but I recently set up Hootsuite for my job. I’m the marketing coordinator at Lakeshore Athletic Club (6,000+ memeber, 150,000 square foot health club and spa) and one thing we really struggle with is being able to reach all of our members for important communication items (schedules, closures, etc.) and marketing initiatives. We send out updates via our Twitter account, Facebook page, and Foursquare, but it can become a bit tedious to update each of them with the same message multiple times a day. Did I mention that there is a general club Twitter account plus one for our tennis program? There are also separate Facebook and Foursquare pages for the Spa. So really, it is unrealistic for anyone to spend the amount of time it would take to update each of these individually multiple times a day.

In comes Hootsuite. We opted for the most basic package (more cost for reporting and stats about click throughs, retweets, page views, etc.). We are able to input events and updates to be scheduled as far ahead of time as we’d like, by simply entering the message into one platform and letting Hootesuite take it from there. It has saved us a lot of work and a lot of time.

I’d be interested to hear feedback from someone that has used Hootsuite for their personal accounts rather than business. If you’re like me and only use one or two social media outlets, it seems unnecessary. But I can definitely see a blogger or journalist that has a large following being able to take advantage of some of the many features available with Hootsuite.

See it here: http://hootsuite.com/


The Telenav GPS Navigator App is great. As a bit of a navigation retard, I’m always looking for the easiest way to get and use directions. Now that I have an Andriod, I’m very happy to have stumbled upon this handy little app. It’s easy to install and use, the pictures are accurate, there are different views and colored paths to take and current traffic updates. It’s like google maps (which has never steered me wrong) in the palm of my hand. The only draw back I think is the map can take a little while to load all the way. But I primarily used the regular directions and didn’t get lost. Victorious am I!

Voice Memo

This is a pretty simple app that allows you to record up to about 7 minutes on your iphone. Sounds simple, but journalists are using it to do mini interviews. Here is the description from PRNDI:

Rather than phone tape, news makers can now record themselves with an I-Phone and send good quality audio back to the reporter.  First, ask the interviewee if he or she has an iPhone. If so, ask if they can get to a landline which you record for backup. Then instruct the interviewee to open the voice memo app. A picture of a mic appears. The record button is on the left. A button on the right with three lines on it get to the recordings.

Tell the interviewee to hold the phone 6 inches in front of his or her face with the screen at eye-level. This way they speak toward the actual microphone but not so close that they have popping “Ps.”

Have them hit record, and ask to make sure the counter is going.

If the interview goes longer than 7.5 min, tell them to stop the recording, then start another. If the file size is too large, the phone tries to chop it into multiple pieces, which can get confusing when the interviewee is trying to send the files.

After the interview concludes, have them stop the recording one last time. Then hit the button with three lines on it. It takes then to a page with the recordings in chronological order and time stamped. There, they can also listen to the file.

To send a file, highlight it, then tap the button at the bottom that says “share.” Choose email, and have them send it to the desired address.

If it took more than one file, walk them through sending each one.


Sound pretty good, and it records decent audio but alas there are some downsides.

First, the interviewee must have an iphone, and they must hold it further away from their face and at “eye level” which isn’t what people are used too, so they might not do it. This does affect the sound quality you get. It also could be a bit confusing for a source to go through the steps of emailing the audio, then deleting the audio from their phone afterward (since the audio file takes up a LOT of memory.) And if you are in the middle of an interview, and have to start a new audio session, it would disrupt the flow of the answers/questions.

The nice part is it works as long as you have a phone savvy source. I think the best application would be between journalists. If you’re on the ground somewhere and your phone reception is terrible, you can read the questions in an email and record yourself, or describe the scene to send it back to the station.

Animoto impressions

Animoto describes itself as a video slideshow maker with music. The idea behind this application is that a user can take pictures or video that they have on his or her computer or phone and use Animoto’s graphic templates and music to create a quick and easy slideshow.

I primarily looked at Animoto’s web application (there is one for phones too) and found that, even for someone as technically impaired as myself, I could easily create a basic slideshow. The menus and templates are easy to navigate and swap on the fly. From signing up to completing my first 30-second video (using sample images and video), I only spent about 10 minutes.

However, the editing options feel pretty limited. The slideshow I made featured photos that glided in and out of view in stylized ways, but I had no control over which direction they moved to and fro. Animoto’s templates do a lot of filling in for you, that is to say a lot of style will be decided for you according to which template you utilize. The result is, the video looked a little generic, and I think people viewing it will immediately tell it came from a free online program. That may be okay for certain uses like sharing with friends, but if you are looking for something professional, investment in a program with more options might be the way to go.

Also, if you are merely a free subscriber, you will get a fewer amount of templates to choose from and you are limited to making a video 30 seconds long. If you want more options, you can sign up for monthly payments.

Overall, I’d say Animoto is worth the free download. Depending on your needs, a generic video might be all right; they are certainly quick and easy to create. The phone app might be a simple way to create content from your computer or phone into a fast video. However, if you desire more control over your project, you might want to look elsewhere since options to put a personal touch on the videos seem limited.

Here’s a disturbing trend

The New York Times ran a story today about the fact that journalists from a wide range of news outlets, including the Times and the Washington Post, are letting politicians and campaign managers approve quotes before they appear in stories. I’m stunned. In fact, both as a journalist (or former one) and reader, I think I’d rather have no quotes in the story than have to live with the absurd restriction of prior approval on quotes that apparently is becoming the standard for interviews with candidates, campaign managers and elected and/or appointed officials.

I understand this is the result of gaffe-driven news coverage, and perhaps from the perspective of the politician or political official, it makes sense. But why would a journalist put up with such a policy?? The response from Dean Baquet, the managing editor for news at the Times (as quoted in the Times story) is that, ““We don’t like the practice. We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder.” That strikes me as a timid response and one that doesn’t serve the public very well. We talk about the problem with quotes from press releases and other “overly massaged” types of information.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this. Is this as bad as I think it is? Or is there an argument to be made for journalists simply accepting this new political landscape?

AN UPDATE: Poynter has been tracking this story over the past couple of days, and today posted this column that includes an interview with Politico editor-in-chief John Harris. It’s worth taking a look at …