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Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency

Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency

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Published by: loekessers on Sep 07, 2009
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This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/ 
Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency / Mindy McAdams 1
Reporters Guideto MultimediaProficiency
Mindy McAdams
Professor, JournalismCollege of Journalism and Communications, University of Floridahttp://mindymcadams.com/  
This booklet comes directly from a series of 15 blog posts I wrote in 2009. Myintention was to offer some guidance for journalists who are ready to learnhow to transform themselves into multimedia journalists. This series shoulddemystify many of the new options for storytelling that have been madepossible by digital tools.If you are a journalist (or a journalism student) who feels like you need tocatch up and upgrade your skills, I suggest that you do more than simply
 these posts. Put the advice into use immediately—the same day, if possible.Don’t wait! (You’ve waited long enough already.)
Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency / Mindy McAdams 2This work is licensed under the CreativeCommons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike3.0 United States License. To view a copy of thislicense, visit—http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/ —or send a letter to:Creative Commons, 171 Second St., Suite 300, SanFrancisco, CA 94105, USA
1. Read Blogs andUse RSS
Even if you are already reading blogsregularly, I urge you to add some blogsthat are not strictly about journalism ornews. Two that I recommend strongly:
Mashable:If you were one of the last people to hear about 
, or youstill don’t know how
works,then reading this frequently updatednews blog will put you into the loop.All the
Web 2.0
trends, tools, and sitesare covered here.
ReadWriteWeb:Although this blog issimilar to Mashable (and they areoften redundant), you will find somegood stuff here that Mashable will not have—NYTimes Exposes 2.8 MillionArticles in New API
,for example.Why read these blogs? Because you willbetter understand how (and why) themedia world around us is changing if youstay up-to-date on the changes. Peoplewho understand what is happening areless likely to become road kill.You certainly don’t need to read everypost closely. But scanning these postsdaily will definitely help you becomemore savvy about digital media, onlineand mobile.
Using an RSS reader
If you have not started using an RSSreader yet,
do that right away! Ourformer student Megan Taylor wrote avery clear, simple introduction to RSS.I suggest that you give no thought to whichRSS reader you should try—just start with Google Reader.It’s free, easy to use, and ubiquitous. This YouTube video givesyou a one-minute tour of how it works:Google Reader in Plain English. If that’s not enough for you, then learnhow to use Google Reader like a rock star—from a post at Mashable.Why take the time to set up and learn touse Google Reader? First and foremost,it’s 100 times more efficient than usingyour browser bookmarks (or favorites).It’s like your customized Page One, readyfor you on any computer with Internet access, at home or at work, and even onyour phone. It’s better than an aggregateof all the wire services—because YOU set it up to bring you what YOU want.
How to find blogs that are worthyour time
Of the millions of blogs that are updatedfrequently, only a few are really going tohelp you become smarter about thechanging landscape of journalism—oryour own beat, or your local community.Generally one good blog leads to another.Just look at the
—the list of blog
Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency / Mindy McAdams 3
links in the sidebar. This blog has one.Almost 
blog has one. Try a blog out before you add it to Google Reader. Beselective. Your time is valuable.If you want a place to start sampling, tryBest of the Journalism Blogs
2. Start a Blog
Today’s topic might seem mundane tomany of you, but I always say that writinga blog with commitment, on some kind of regular schedule, makes you smarter.The advantage for a journalist who needsto catch up, who needs to learn new skillsfor a digital and online world, is that having a commitment to a blog drives theblogger to search out new information.It’s kind of like taking a college course forcredit instead of auditing the course. If you’re just auditing, when the rest of yourlife gets busy, you’ll just quit going to theclasses. Some people abandon their blogs,of course. But those who make acommitment and stick to it soon find that the blog connects them to newdevelopments and kindred spirits in waysthey had not anticipated.Now, before I get to the nitty-gritty, thekey to having a blog that makes yousmarter is
reaching out 
. A blog should not be seen as a soap box for your personalposturing. Blogs are great vehicles forsharing information and knowledge, and
travels in two directions.A blog is one node in a giant network of nodes, with a human being behind eachone of those nodes. Your blog gives you away to see and be seen—but 
if youuse it with a spirit of sharing andconnecting.These two practices are essential:
Link out.
That is, link to other blogposts. Not just blogs, but individualposts. This makes you visible to otherbloggers and also (via trackbacks)to other blog readers.
Comment on other people’s blogs.
 Particularly blogs with subject mattersimilar to yours. In the comment form,
type your real name and yourblog’s URL in the boxes provided—this allows anyone who reads yourcomment to click your name and go to
blog, bringing more readers toyou.Your blog posts can be short. About 300words is plenty for most blog posts. Right now WordPress is telling me I’m at 372words (whew!), so I’d better insert asubhed.
What to blog about 
You can blog about your beat (if you haveone), but if you’re reading this becauseyou want to boost your online skills anddigital tools savvy, I suggest you choose amore personal topic. Here are someexamples:
Multimedia Reporter:Ron Sylvesterwas a 40-something courts reporterwhen he started this blog to chroniclehis own learning experience in onlineand multimedia. Although he quit 

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