Cool Links #75: The One I Nearly Forgot To Title

We just got our whole shipment of brand new iMacs in at school.  They are pretty, but setting them up is a full time job.  We have 22 new machines and they have to be updated and install Final Cut Express on them first.  In the next couple of weeks we should be getting Adobe CS4 products.  That means more time installing and then setting up the student login account.  Finally we can then switch out all the Mac Minis.  The new machines are so fast and have incredible, huge screens.  So far, the only downside is the wireless mouse and keyboard.  This will mean checking them out each period.  Lost instruction time.  But the cool factor is going to be worth it.  Now, on to the links.

1 – If you teach newspaper or journalism, then you know how difficult it is to get students to write opinion pieces well.  Here’s a great presentation to teach the way to do it right.

2 – Ever had another department want you to shoot their event, edit it, create videos for them and make DVDs too.  And of course they want you to do it all for free.  That’s a lot of wear and tear on the equipment.  I’m not against creating video or any other media for any department, but if it is not news – then we need to charge for our services.  But how much?  I used the FreelanceSwitch Hourly Rate Calculator and it actually gave me a realistic result – $50/hour.  Try it out yourself.

3 – Yearbooks, newspapers, graphic design and video makers all need fonts that are royalty freed.  Here are a couple of sites that offer fonts that you can use. and Font Squirrel offer contemporary font looks for all your needs.

4 – SF Weekly says we don’t pay for news online because we mainly view it on our work computers Monday-Friday and that we would rather read a real hard copy paper on the weekends.

5 – Straight from the UK, Charlie Brooker has this hilarious sendup of the typical news story.

6 – Photographers have to deal with a dizzying array of alphabet soup:  PNG, JPG, TIFF, PSD, RAW – what does it all mean?  The dPS is always quick with an answer for every photo question.

7 – Natural sound stories can be very powerful ways to sell a story that has strong sound elements.  Advancing the Story blog has a superb list of tips for nat-sound.

8 – Free Tech for Teachers has a super useful post about how to add an RSS feed for any web site in Google Reader.

9 – Adam Westbrook has Five Myths about Shooting Video.  My favorite is Shooting Video is Easy!

10 – The Bob Kaplitz blog is always full of great example videos, both of the what to do variety and the what not to to type.

11 – The Oatmeal comic blog is funny, crazy and a grammarian.  This month it is the semicolon that takes center stage.  Great fun for kids – and they might learn something too.

12 – Tamron lenses has their episode 2 in their DSLR series about focus modes.

Well, I’m going to watch the ‘semi-‘pro Bowl now.  Have a great week.

Cool Links #74: The One About Tragedies

All this week I’ve been hearing reporters use the word “tragedy” when they mean disaster.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other natural catastrophes are not tragic, they are disasters.  Look it up in the AP style guide.  Hamlet is a tragedy, a house fire due to a cigarette butt is a tragedy, but not a Tsunami.  Come on – get it right.

Now for the cool links.

1 – This metaphor can be used for both education and news media.  They are sitting on the broken escalator waiting for rescue.

2 – This is one cool visualization.  The browser usage at w3schools, Firefox is really gaining and so is Chrome.

3 – We really need a “don’t care” option on most polls.

Don't Care Option

Don't Care Option

4 – Tamron, the lens maker, has a Youtube channel and they are starting a series for beginners.

5 – Advancing the Story has a terrific post about the need to teach young journalists better math skills. Lots of great resources for lesson ideas.

6 – This may be a promotional video for a camera, but it is a really great video about a photographers love for taking pictures and how he learned it at a young age.

7 – Draft media has a short, but to the point post about why many newspaper web sites are not getting many visits – one word useability.

8 – The always on point 10,000 Words blog says that journalists are too tied to their technology at their desks.  They need to get out of the office and into the community they cover.  I agree.  This is even more important for high school journalists.

9 – One of my favorite blogs is written by a principal – and he says we need to stop teaching students how to write and teach them to use multimedia.

10 – Innovation in the College Media posted an article about Jan Wong and her list of 10 Do’s for journalists.  Best take away – 3. Push people to talk to you. Get out there and nail them. Don’t just put that cheap little line in your stories.

11 – It seems like a week for video and it also seems like we’ll never know everything we can know about Ansel Adams.

12 – I think Blackstar Rising has a point about professional photographers taking photos and holding firm on their prices.  A photo credit doesn’t pay the rent.

13 – Why study journalism?  Good question.  This short about the documentary “Fit To Print” sort-of tries to answer the question.

14 – This is just self-evident.

Most Trusted

Most Trusted

15 – This is yet another reason why newspapers are dying – a lack of copy editors.

Where's the copy editor

Where's the copy editor, oh that's right we let them all go.

Too bad for Brett Favre today.  Had they not messed up on a dumb coaches call, they might have kicked a field goal and been in the Super Bowl.  Guess I’ll have to root for the Saints over the hated Colts.  (Go Texans!)

Dr. King’s Speeches Examples of Great Writing

Today, TED Talks has posted the full video of the original speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Washington Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  It is also available on YouTube.  Too many times we see MLK as only a great orator, but unlike many speakers today, he was his own speech writer too.  He was a great writer and we should all read and listen to his speeches and truly include him to the pantheon of great American writers.  The text of the speech can be found here at

What Should a 21st Century Newsroom Look Like?

Suzanne Yada (@suzanneyada) Tweeted a great topic today.  What should a 21st Century Newsroom look like?

If I could have a big pile of money and resources to build a newsroom today, this is what I think I would do for my high school – I think it would also work for a small town or even a community site in a metro area.

– A big pipe:  News in the 21st Century means lots of data on the net, both upstream and down.  Your reporters are going to need to push video, photos, online magazines, and everything else.  The staff and others are going to need plenty of downstream bandwidth too.  So, that means Gigabit switches and something more robust than a simple T1 line.

– Tools and training:  If money is no object, then buy the best tools you can afford – that means the full Adobe suite of media products (Photoshop, Premiere, Lightroom, Flash, etc.) maybe the Apple one too (Aperture, Final Cut) if you are using Macs.  And periodic training to update and improve skills.  There are also lots of great free and low cost products out there too.  But software is only part of the equation.  You need great HD video cameras, microphones, audio recorders, SLR cameras, laptops, desktops, smartphones (maybe tablets too soon).  Every reporter needs to have a kit containing a laptop, video camera, SLR camera, smart phone and an audio recorder.  Plus all the cables, cards, etc. to make it work.  If money is no object, MyFi cards and EyeFi cards too.  Make it all wireless and fast.  Update live as much as you can.

– A place to meet and a place for community.  This needs to be both virtual and physical.  A news organization needs to be able to meet in person some times.  So you need a meeting space, plus a place for reporters to come in and create things that a laptop just doesn’t do justice on.  But you also need to be able to Skype in and meet virtually.  Community is important too.  You need a place for people to come in and contribute – and feel welcome.  Kind of like a public library.  But this is not for people to get free internet access, they can come in and contribute material of nearly any source as long as it is community news.  Get locals to shoot video of stuff you can never devote resources to.   They come in and edit it and then you publish it.  Maybe you have 1-2 community editors who help them until they can do it themselves.  You also need a virtual space too.  News organizations need people to moderate and participate in the comments on their sites.  They should host chat rooms.  They can eventually bring in members of the community to help moderate.  Leo Laporte does it, so can other forms of media.

– A lighter structure.  Newsrooms are too top heavy.  The lesson of the Internet is that we need fewer chiefs and a lot more braves.  You don’t need a lot of editors, you need a few moderators and 1-2 editors to keep it together.  Everyone else is a reporter.  Reporters create content and that’s what we do – make content.

– Sell, partner and hustle.  Newsrooms need to find, create and hustle funding.  Find partners who want to fund the kind of information we can provide.  Talk to the same business that support the local high schools and get them to sponsor your sports reporters.  That’s how it’s going to work.  You will have to work with the community.  Yes, it will rankle some who say that will tarnish our journalistic ethics.  But we won’t have any ethics left if we don’t have any journalists left.  It costs money to make rich media.

– Social, social, social.  You have to be wherever your audience community goes.  Every reporter MUST blog, tweet and Facebook and that’s just for now.  Keep up with the new tech, especially the social tech.  Don’t talk to your community, converse with them.  Give them content they want (and some stuff they need).

So, building a 21st Century Newsroom is part technology, part training, part attitude and a big part social.  Do I even need to mention that you have to have a web site?  I hope not.

Cool Links #73: The One About The Crazy Week

This week has been crazy.  I was out for a couple of days last week and we had a half-day on Wednesday.  So the week was busy and crazy.   So, everything was actually normal, total madness as usual.  I’m looking to get back to sanity with some cool links.

1 – Teachers At Risk blog has a poignant post with this missive on student failure.  Here in Texas, the Houston ISD is looking to punish teachers when students don’t make the grade on the state mandated test.

2 – Next up is a neat video collage of the year in magazine covers.

3 – The recent wave of additional advertising failures in print has set off a new round of blogs ready to write the obit on newspapers in printed form.  Some are already crafting the lead graph.  I still think the jury is out.  I’m bullish about lean, mean online news organizations, even when others are not – but I still think print products are a part of it.  The SimsBlog has a great addition about the two big lies killing newspapers.  And OJR has a powerful, fact-filled post on the future of a business model for newspapers.

4 – A couple of weeks ago, I was in a bad mood and grousing about not being an Edublog nominee, but I AM listed on’s 100 Best Education Blogs of 2009.  What a great list, I feel like the lucky one to be invited to this ball considering the company I’m in.  I also got a mention and a quote in a slide show by Free Tech 4 Teachers, because I responded to a question he asked about what we learned in 2009.  (That’s me on slide 7)

5 – If you ever have to be your own IT dept. either at work or at home, then you may know the hell of dealing with printers.  Keeping them running properly is a black art.

6 – Next Up:  The 11 Most Painfully Obvious Newspaper Headlines.  News at 11.

No Really?

No Really?

7 – This quiz is supposed to be just for fun, but I honestly have a quiz like this for my video tech class.  I scored a 90%.  Full transparency.

8 – As a photography teacher, I’ve been somewhat afraid of metering modes for years.  DPS has an informative, short post on the most common metering modes and how to use them.

9 – Here are 8 Things that College (High School) Newsrooms Need to Change If You Haven’t Already.

10 – The 2 ¢ Blog is back with Banished Words from 2009 – so, Chillax and Tweet me after I friend you.

11 – This one speaks for itself

Especially English Teachers

Especially English Teachers

12 – We’re about to start up a new WordPress install at my school for the student newspaper.  So, we need to check out the best/most popular blog designs.

13 – EZ Tech Integration wrote a great response to an Op-Ed Piece in the NY Times about teachers, time out of class and substitutes.  I’ve written about the joys trials of taking a mental health day or even a real sick day myself.  People in “real” jobs where you get an hour for lunch and don’t spend weeks around germ filled children have no idea what being a teacher is really like.

14 – This is how the world really sees journalists as portrayed by TV reporters.

What TV Reporters report on

What TV Reporters report on

15 – BBC News has a retrospective of 2009 in Pictures.  My favorite is still the US Airways plane in the Hudson – zero casualties.  Who says the media never reports good news?

16 – This is fun and educational – A Visit to Copyright Bay.  I guess the Pirate theme is just too easy to pass up on.

That’s a well rounded bunch of links.  Speaking of well rounded – I’ve made more negative progress on my quest to lose pounds.  I’m now +4 since I started.  Not good.

The Screen Is Green

Today, my video tech kids really got excited and into doing their assignment.  We’ve been working on it for about three class periods and it is finally coming to the end.  The kids did a green screen commercial.

The kids had to each record a script for a “local travel agency” and then they used the green screen to key in photos of the locations that they are talking about.  They really got excited about the “magic” of video where they can put a photo of a location behind them and make the green disappear.

I may have to move this lesson forward in my curriculum next year, I’ve not seen a group of my video tech kids get this excited before.  I can’t wait to view their commercials when they are finished later this week.