Cool Links #25: Silver Edition

As I creep towards my blog’s seconds anniversary, I have hit the silver anniversary post of Cool Links.  Yay Me!  I’m also getting closer to 400 posts and have passed the 50,000 visits marks.  But that celebration is still a month and a half away.

So let the links begin!

1) RTNDF has a really good page with nine lessons for Broadcasting ranging from writing and editing to live shots and promotions.


Train Horns

Created by Train Horns

3) Need a free photo for your web project or online newspaper?  Morguefile has ample section of  free photos .

4) This one is too much fun.  TV Weather guy doesn’t realize his green tie is worth the price of admission on the news that night.

5) The Online Journalism Blog has posted several lessons for online journalism including how to blog, create content for the web and how to twitter.

6) Last Sunday CBS News had a tremendous piece on the artist Shepard Fairey and his struggle with the AP over the fair use of a photograph in the iconic Obama Hope posters.

7) I have been trying to find a good tool for story board creation for a long time.  I’m hoping that this will be the one – Pixton is actually a comic strip creator, but I think it will also work well for creating story boards.

8 ) Mindy McAdams is continuing her considerable series of RGMP posts for online journalism skills.  The newest one is how to add photos to your blog.

9) Need stupendous Open Source designs for your newest web project, then OSWD had lots of pre-designed web templates.

10) Newspapers need to do more News You Can Use to drive traffic to their sites.  This incredible, searchable Stimulus Watch web site is exactly the kind of real journalism people want to see, but don’t.

I’ve also updated my Broadcasting, Newspaper and Photojournalism Syllabii.  Check them out.

Update:  Thanks to the makers of Toondoo, I think I’ve found an easier and better cartoon creator to make storyboards with.  Here’s my first attempt.


Teach A Teacher….To Edit

It is amazing what we will do to feel needed and helpful.  For the last two years, the media department has helped the dance department put on their Spring Show.  This meant editing a lot of music.  It started with the best of intentions.  I wanted to help a former student of mine – the dance teacher – put on a better show.

She is great.  She’s been an NFL cheerleader and really knows her dance.  Her dance team wins regional awards all the time.  But she is not a graphic designer, marketer or producer.  Her performances were great, but the staging needed help.  Together we formed a plan and worked hard to pull off a great show.  They had a great time and earned a lot of money.  My kids even taped it and sold DVDs.  It was a chance to learn how to stage a multi-camera shoot.

But I spent a lot of time editing music.  I don’t really like to edit music and I’m not the one who has to dance to it.  So, I suggested she buy a Mac Mini and use Garageband (just like I was doing) to edit the music.  She was skeptical.  She didn’t know how to edit music.  I assured her it would work out.

The Mac arrived in September, but she didn’t have an electric outlet or ethernet connection for it.  So, she put in a work order and we got it hooked up by November.  And that is when the magic started to happen.

After a 30 min. teaching session, she not only was able to edit a song, but also add it to her iTunes library and burn an audio CD, so they could practice with it.  She was so happy, she bounced down the hall.

Today, we were talking about this year’s show and one of her students was on the computer editing music.  It was so cool.  Who knows how many kids will be able to learn how to edit music due to her ability to take a chance to learn something new.  As a dance teacher, she works with music every day, but had never really edited it.  Editing was outside her comfort zone.  I think computers scare her a little too.  Sure, she emails and plays mp3s on her comptuer, but creating something new was something new.

As a teacher, it made me feel so good to teach someone how to create new things and learn new skills.  She already feels comfortable enough to teach students those skills.  In short – I had a good day.

Newspapers and Bandaids

Thanks to Random Mumblings blog for sharing this Charlie Rose interview of Marc Andreessen (Ning) who has a great analogy of what the newspaper industry needs to do.  I agree with him.  It is similar to what my mother always said to me as a kid – it hurts more if you slowly rip the band aid off.  If you rip it off all at once, the pain seems greater, but it is over quicker.

Cool Links #24: Jack’s Back

I am an on again, off again fan of the TV show 24.  I usually don’t watch it on FOX television because it has always competed with a show I like better.  So I wait patiently until the DVD sets come out and then I watch it marathon style, renting it on the Internet and getting the discs in my mailbox.  Yet another way tech is killing old media.  But that is not what today’s post is about – mostly.  Today is about cool stuff!

1) The Credit Crisis Visualized.  I saw this via Neatorama and it is worth the watch.  Why aren’t more online newspapers doing creative, easy-to-understand, almost fun online graphics like this? (If it is possible to have a fun graphic about the meltdown of the global economy?) This is the best explanation of the credit crisis I’ve seen yet.

These posts were created by a grad student – Jonathan Jarvis.  Great job.  Too bad someone didn’t produce this two years ago and show us all the danger we were in. Isn’t that the media’s job?

2) Our cousins down in New Zealand need our support, even if we can’t help directly.  The government of that beautiful country seems to have lost their minds and has decided that you are guilty before anyone proves you did anything wrong.  Their new “copyright” law will make Kiwi’s averse to creating anything on the Internet for fear of being accused of violating someones copyright.  The mere accusation is enough to put them in jail.

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

3) A professor of journalism at the University of Scranton posted this list on his blog, J-Scranton.  The list is a must learn for 21st Century journalism. He writes…

According to an excerpt of the memo posted by The New Republic:

Stories need to be both interesting and illuminating–we don’t have the luxury of running stories folks won’t click on or spend several minutes with in the paper.

a) Would this be a “most e-mailed” story?

b) Would I read this story if I hadn’t written it?

c) Would my mother read this story?

d) Will a blogger be inspired to post on this story?

e) Might an investor buy or sell a stock based on this story?

f) Would a specialist learn something from this story?

g) Will my competitors be forced to follow this?

If you teach journalism students, please read his entire blog post and then find a way to convey this to your students.  I think the list can be tweaked for student media very easily – mainly letters e and g.

4) Mindy McAdams has a great post in her series RGMP (Reporters Guide to Multimedia Proficiency) and this one is all about photojournalism.  It has so many links, it is going to take me a while to go over it all.  Lots of goodies.  Thanks Mindy. There are six other previous posts in this series too.

5) This is a great post on how creative lighting, makeup and technique can be used to make one model look 10 – 20 – 30 – 40 – 50 – 60 years old.  This should show anyone in photography that photos can, do and will lie – it doesn’t always take Photoshop either.

6) The Nieman Journalism Lab has posted the top 15 papers based on visits and out of the list 14 have increased their total number of visits from 7 percent to 132 percent from the same time last year.  Most posting increases of more than 30 percent with an average of nearly 40 percent.  The only one with a decrease was the Houston Chronicle.  I think this is evidence that even in this economy, online can support news gathering to a certain degree, especially when newspapers stop duplicating content and cut the costs associated with that.

7) If you are trying to increase yearbook sales or “market” your yearbook more effectively, then you might want to consider reading the Definitive Guide to Word of Mouth Advertising.  Word of mouth seems to be the only way to reach teens these days.

8) The has an interesting article about how journalism is not dying, it’s just returning to its roots.  The article compares the models of hyperlocal online to broad sheets of the 1700s.

9) There are some days where I really think my kids are doing great work and then there are days where I think we can do so much more.  Watch Out! makes me want to do more.  Here’s a group of middle school kids creating great video projects.  Awesome.

10) It just works.  Cueprompter is an online telelprompter solution that is free and works great.  I think we are going to put it to use in our studio.

11) This is mainly for US readers who are also bloggers, the Electronic Freedom Foundation has a great blogger’s rights site.  There is a lot of info on their rights in the US including a legal guide for bloggers.

12) I love listening to TWIP (This Week in Photography) with Scott Bourne and all the others, he has a simple, easy to follow explanation of how to use levels to tone a photograph in Photoshop.

13) “You are smarter than your camera.” What great advice.  I tell this to my students too.  The Digital Photography School wants you to use your camera on manual mode and they have a great guide for doing it.

That’s it for this installment.  The links you saw were presented in real time.

What My Students Like/Hate About Media

I surveyed three of my classes this week with the question “What do you like about…” and “What do you had about…” and then fill in the ending with the Internet, Television, Radio and Print (newspapers, magazines).

The results were not what I expected.  The students are grades 10-12 and range in age from 15-18.  They are 70 percent female and nearly 90 percent Hispanic. But the answers were interesting to say the least.

On the Internet they said…

Unsurprisingly, students like the Internet.  They find it good for communication, social networking, fun and games.  They dislike spam, slow connections, viruses and outages of the Internet.

The surprise was that they did not see it as a primary source of entertainment.

On Television they said…

Unsurprisingly, students do not like commercials.  They also don’t like so many reality shows, negative news, and that shows are not on when they want them to be.

Surprisingly, students still really like to watch TV.  They see it as a primary mode of entertainment.  More than one student said that TV is passsive, lazy and without stress.  And they LIKE it that way.  They like shows that appeal to teens and they like cartoons.

On Radio

Surprisingly, radio is in big danger – or maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise.  Kids don’t listen to or really like the radio.  They don’t like the constant commercials and the fact that they don’t play the songs they want to listen to when they want to hear them.  They’d rather listen to their iPods, which don’t have a radio tuner.

On Print

The kids actually enjoy print.  But they don’t really like newspapers, they’d rather read a magazine.  Magazines cater to their likes and magazines have large, full-color photos.

Newspapers are not interactive and the articles are too long.  They also don’t like it that they are messy and dirty.  They basically see them as boring.


Radio and newspapers are in trouble if they don’t find a way to appeal to the young.  But TV, magazines and news sites are doing fine with this target audience as long as they keep finding ways to address the topics they like.

I’m Not Anti-Journalist or Anti-News Organization

When I wrote my last post, I wasn’t trying to start drama.  I am not anti-reporter or even anti-newspaper.  I fully believe that reporters have an important place in a thriving democracy, but we have to stop ignoring the importance of the Internet.  The fastest, easiest, most interactive way to deliver the news and other content found in a newspaper is via the Internet.

Just like other industries before us, journalists must learn to adapt to the new technology or face extermination.  The music industry wanted to keep cranking out silver plastic discs, but people wanted music files.  Apple now makes more money selling music (and iPods) than most recording companies do.

People don’t want to go to a bookstore to look for a book that the store doesn’t have.  Now, they can go to and find thousands of titles including hard-to-find and out-of-print books.  They even have used books too.  And there is so much more than books at

TV is finding ways to adapt.  Look at NBC and Fox’s site – it turned a profit this year when people said it could not be done.  They said that YouTube would kill any chance Hulu had of success.

I think that iTunes, and are all better than the old way of doing business.  Sure there are things lost like album cover art, the joy of perusing a book store full of shelves and the knowledge that the whole country was watching “Cheers” at the same time.  But that has been replaced with being able to find what you want, when you want it, where you want it.

Journalism is experiencing difficult times, there is no doubt about it.  Too many newspaper companies are too deep in debt, burdened with expensive print equipment and seeing traditional sources of ad revenue die.  But that does not mean journalism is dead.  Far from it.

Look around the Internet, there is so much great journalism going on.  Just yesterday I was reading how the Washington Post created a tool for making map/timeline hybrids.  This is only possible on the net where you can incorporate print techniques with video and add in a dash of interactivity.

The Internet is also holding journalists more accountable to their readers.  The readers can now comment and Twitter back.  They can point out our mistakes and also point the way to new sources and stories that we could never have found on our own.

The Internet is realatively limitless.  Stories no longer have to get cut for space, neither do photos – which can now be run in color all the time.  Photojournalists often spent hours on assignment to have one photo in the newspaper, now can have a slideshow that gives them a bigger place on the paper’s staff.

What journalists need to see is that Niche is where we must live.  People will pay for content they find valuable and advertisers will pay to be connected to those who want to buy their products.  It is not journalism that’s dead, but a delivery model for journalism that was created for the industrial revolution.  Newspapers printed on dead trees were high tech more than 100 years ago.  But today’s high tech means online.

Print is also not dead.  Kids read print!  They read printed products that interest them – just ask them.  They read magazines mostly.  They read magazines about video games, fashion, sports, celebrities, technology, music, etc.  They read about what they are interested in and will continue to do so as they get older.  They like the feel of holding a magazine and they like the full color, large photos.  And they do READ the articles.  But they don’t like jumps, they are not reader friendly.

How do I know this – asked my students.  They love the Internet, but they still like television and enjoy magazines.  Radio, that is in trouble.  They’d rather listend to their iPods.  I think print has a future, a future that is about smaller, niche based magazines with a sustainable sized staff and a great online presence.  I don’t think newspapers are dead, just in trouble.  Many will die, others will get a lot smaller, and some may come out of this stronger.

People fear change.  Change is disruptive and messy.  The worst part of this is that people are losing their livelihoods.  I wish there was a painless way for journalists to transition from print to online or online/print hybirds without facing job loss.  And of course it is hard to stay positive when no one knows how much longer they may have a job.

But journalists need to be their own best friends, not their own enemies.  Believe in journalism.  Stop worrying about the platform.  If you are a journalist, keep doing it.  It is important and people consume more of it than ever.   If you can, work for a company that looks toward the future, not to the past.  Stop being so glum, journalism is about to get better than ever.  I believe this, I’m having more fun teaching it than I have in 14 years as a teacher and five years working in the industry before that.

I Don’t Read The Newspaper

There I’ve said it!  I am officially a heretic.  I teach journalism, but I don’t read a newspaper.  And I doubt that most people reading this blog or others do either.  I was thinking about this today.  Do those of us over 30, wake up some days and think we still live in the 20th Century.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem like much has changed, but it has, especially in the news business.

I don’t read the paper, but I read dozens of news sites on the Internet each day.  Between my RSS reader and my Twitter feed, I read lots of publications nearly every day.  But they just aren’t the same ones.

This is why I am virulently opposed to news sites charging for content.  It is not that I’m against them making money.  I know they need a revenue stream to survive, but I know that if I was forced to pay for every news site I visited, even a tiny micro-payment, then I would stop reading so much online.

But do not be mistaken into thinking this would push me back into the arms and loving embrace of my local newspaper.  It wouldn’t. I would lose that content forever.  I doubt I could possibly afford to pay for the incredible number of sources of news that I can find online.

In addition to news sites, I visit and view many other kinds of web sites daily.  Some via RSS, others through Twitter or another social site via recommendation.  This kind of infotainment also reduces the amount of time that I spend reading a printed product.

It doesn’t mean I’m reading less.  In fact, I’m reading a whole lot more these days.  It’s just that most of my reading is done on a computer screen.  It also means that I consume a lot more self-selected content – not just what a newspaper editor thought was important.  I imagine that this is a big part of what is killing newspapers.

The economy and ad sales are bad, but the attention deficit is worse.  I was an avid newspaper reader from high school until recently.  But as more and more high quality content is available online, I find less and less time for a broad market publication like a newspaper.  And when I do want something that only my local paper can provide, I am frustrated that it is not put online quickly and in an easily managed format.

This is what is killing newspapers.  They need to focus on giving me that one thing they can do well – local coverage.  Get the high school football scores quickly and accurately, Twitter the school board meetings, make your content search-able and deep.  Give me a way to find my polling place on voting day (with a map and directions too).  Give me tools that let me find the local library or the DMV.  Link out to stuff that’s not local, partner with USA Today, New York Times, etc.  Give me local, quickly, accurately and with some depth and do it online.  That might, just might save your newspaper long enough to become a news site that I would actually put in my RSS reader.

I may be a heretic, but I still believe in the power of journalism.  I just don’t believe in newspapers as a delivery model anymore.  That was the 20th Century, we don’t live there anymore.

Cool Links #23: Prime Time, Prime Number Post

This is just a little shout out to Wicked Decent Learning podcast who love to give the numeracy love to prime numbered episodes.  It has been a while and my box of coolness is running over.  Time to dish out the cool links for media and journalism teaching.

1)  To kick it off, I have a really great photography resource called Photography 101.5, lesson 5 Aperture. There are four other lessons and each has great examples to teach f/stops, focus, depth of field and more.

2) Teaching video and need a clip to show a technique or explain how something for video works?  Can’t find anything – try VideoSurf.  It works pretty great to find all kinds of video and it seems to work well with Video Downloader.

3) Writing a headline and you can’t find a fun word that rhymes with orange to spice it up?  (hint there are none)  But if you really need a rhyming word, try the Online Rhyming Dictionary.

4) If you are a teacher with a Facebook Profile, then you really need to read these 10 Privacy Settings that all teachers should enable.  Keep prying eyes away from your private info, be they kids, principals or crazy ex-girlfriends.  Your private information should stay just that – private.  But on the Internet, it is up to YOU to keep it that way.

5) Do you design your own t-shirts for yearbook or another publication?  But t-shirt printers don’t like what we like – JPG, TIF, PSD.  Printing in the t-shirt world means vector art, but Illustrator is very expensive to buy for just the once in a while job.  That’s where an online solution like Aviary’s Raven comes in.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks promising.

6) Advancing the Story has an informative post about adding natural sound to your video projects with a link to a video that has a great use of nat sound.  But to someone new to video, you will also need to know more about L-Cuts and J-Cuts. This goes well with News Videographer’s post on Nat Sound.   Seems like nat soudn is important this week.

7) With budget cuts looming over education everywhere these days, finding affordable alternatives to commercial software is becoming more important each day.  I’ve written about nearly every title on this list already, but Innovation in the College Media has a few new titles to add.

8) Old News vs. New Social News – I saw these two great graphics for how old news was made, vs how new news will be made on the internet primarily.

9) If you blog, and you should – really, then SEO by the Sea has a wave of tools that will wash over you with salty goodness for your website or blog.  Test your blogs reading level, gender, see how it looks on an iPhone or in China.

10) This site is the whole enchilada!  There is an entire meal of teaching goodness.  JPROF has resources for teaching every aspect of journalism from writing to photography and graphics and design.  There are tons of PDFs to download for nearly everything you might teach.

11) I’m always trying to find ways to reduce the massive amount of paper and toner we use in our journalism program – I think I have a kindred spirit in the TeachPaperless blog.  They have a lot of good solutions for cutting down on paper use and waste.

12)  Stop The Presses!  How much longer will people understand this cartoon?

What’s Wrong With High Schools?

A lot of people are trying to figure out what is wrong with high schools today and why are they failing to educate so many students. Why do kids drop out or fail to pass the state assessments?

First is funding.  Even before the economic meltdown, schools were underfunded.  I know most taxpayers don’t think so, but schools are burdened with hundreds of mandates that they didn’t have 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago.  Schools didn’t provide child care for pregnant teens, counseling for troubled kids, an array of social services for kids from poverty, specialized personalized instruction for students with mental, physical or learning disabilities.  Now, don’t get me wrong – all of these and the many other things schools provide like physical security, technology, career instruction, remediation, tutorials and more are worthy.  Nearly every service that a school provides helps some kid at some time.  How can anyone ever deny the value of it?

But we are quick to deny the price tag.

And with the funding crisis, has come cutbacks.  The federal government cuts back, then the states and finally the local districts.  All that filters down to the campus level with reduced financial support for anything that is not in the state or federally tested curriculum or anything that is not mandated by the state or federal government.

The result of the cutbacks is a loss of the tribes that high school kids thrive on to keep boredom at bay.  I know, because I was one of those kids.  I was a kid who hated school.  I did very poorly in elementary school.  It was nothing but reading, math, books, worksheets, etc.  I do remember those few teachers who tried to make school tolerable.  Ms. Komaniki who showed us in 2nd grade how life and death grew in a cup with a bean seed.  My music teachers who made days tolerable and others.  But mainly elementary school was a struggle with words and numbers.

But life at school changed in the 7th grade, when I took band.  Now, I had something to look forward to each day.  Something fun.  I also had teachers who held us to a very high standard, and yet at the same time drew out the best from us without us even knowing it.  But so many teachers in the arts and electives are losing the heart of their programs.  They can’t attend workshops, conferences or conventions where they can learn to be better teachers and improve and update their skills.  They can’t buy new equipment or make improvements to existing facilities. They can’t provide kids with a rich experience that inspires them to see school as more than just numbers and words.  All they are left with is a pale imitation.

And the loss of a tribe or a place to belong is crushing our kids.  Where do they go when they don’t have a tribe to belong to?  Homes where working parents are absent?  The streets where gangs will be happy to provide them with activities like tagging, theft, vandalism and drug abuse?  Mindless hours spent in front of a TV, video game or computer screen texting via Myspace? Hours to fill with alcohol, drugs or sex?

Kids need a tribe.  They need band, choir, art, drama, debate, yearbook, newspaper, broadcasting, robotics, ROTC, FFA and the many other school organizations that offer them something constructive to do outside of the core curriculum.  If we don’t give them a place to belong, where will they go?  What will they do?  How does this accomplish our mission to educate them if they don’t see the application of the knowledge they gain in the basic curricular classes?

Seth Godin explains the power of a tribe.  We are losing our positive high school tribes.

Cool Links #22: The Superbowl Is Boring Edition

Since I’m bored of the Steelers dominating the Cardinals, I decided to post another edition of cool links.

1) This comes via the Free Tech for Teachers blog, Boolify – a neat visual tool for teaching Boolean logic.  This really shows, not just tells how to do Boolean searches.

2) For the writing teachers out there Word Wise has a list of commonly overused phrases that can be replaced with one word.  Great list.

3) If you’re a Mac user, then you will occasionally run into a special character that you don’t know the key combo for – Penn State University has a site with a list and how to combo each character.   They also have a page with the Windows ALT Codes too.

4) The Photography Bay has a list of five digital camera “features” that should be banned.  My favorite are the “authentic” camera sounds.  Of course this one might be made mandatory if Congress gets its way, they want to make sure all cameras go click to keep predators from silently taking photos.

5)  I thought this was an interesting post – especially the comments.  What would students tell teachers they want to know.

Short and sweet compared to #21 – but it was a Sunday night.