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Module 6: Digital Resources and Production

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Digital Tools and Resources

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Tools and Resources

News Agenda and Sources

Are you in control of your news organization’s editorial agenda?
You may think you are, but an examination of what prompts or stimulates you to cover news may reveal flaws in your news strategy.

It could be that the majority of the news you cover on any given day is directly or indirectly controlled by others. A simple forward planning strategy, based on original, issue-led journalism, can reverse this.

Sources of News





Too many media organizations depend on the first five sources. The sixth is common to all. However, a responsible media organization that exists to inform the public debate with thorough, objective, fair and accurate journalism, will spend time investing in the last six sources of news.

7. Monitoring social media
8. Exploring unique angles
9. Data journalism
10. Keeping in touch with contacts
11. Investigative journalism
12. Planned thematic news coverage
1. The news wires
2. Diary events
3. News conferences
4. News releases
5. Following the competition
6. Unexpected events
It will mean reassigning some staff and encouraging them to invest their time in producing original, investigative journalism that focuses on the target audience.

Tools and Resources

News Agenda and Sources

The challenge for all news organizations, whether they are global broadcasters or local newspapers, is to take control and set a news agenda producing and increasing the amount of original journalism.

The first step is to set aside resources for planning.

Planning Editor

The main position you need to fill is that of the planning editor. This person can do other tasks in the newsroom and need not be dedicated solely to the task of planning. Their job is to set out what will be covered tomorrow, next week, next month and three months ahead. They attend all news meetings and must have a say in what is covered.
The person in charge of the day’s output needs to be able to rely on the planning editor to supply a large part of the day’s news coverage. You will then need to allocate resources to this planning effort.

News Agenda and Sources

It's also important not to cram too much into an item, perhaps just three points. Try to avoid shots where you nod and walking shots, they are overused and boring. Think of original shots and sounds that will capture the attention of the audience.

Structure, timing, and letting the interview breathe are the three essential elements for ensuring a general TV, radio or online news package works.
The packages are where you introduce the audience to an issue and explore multiple elements of the story through interviewing different people.

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Summaries

Never take an answer from one question and use it in response to another. This is gross misrepresentation. When you are writing commentary to link the clips together, try to avoid using the same words at the end of your text as the interviewee says in the beginning of the clip i.e.. : John Smith said he was delighted.. [John Smith] "I am delighted ..."

In TV, radio and online journalism, your package may often be mentioned in the form of a clip. When writing the introduction for that clip, avoid summarizing everything that is going to appear in the clip.

Selection

When you are selecting interview clips, choose ones which give opinion over ones which relay only information. Try to leave a pause at the start and end of each clip. Life isn’t breathless; neither should a video news package be.
Avoid cutting excessively from the answer (i.e. taking one part of three seconds from the start of an answer, three seconds from the middle and five from the end). This sounds and looks unnatural, misrepresents the interviewee, and is excessively difficult to process for television interviews.

Review

Listen or watch the interview in full from start to finish at least once in order to re-familiarize yourself with the material, take note of the time on the recording of each potential interview clip, the words that begin the clip and the words that end it.
When you have repeated the process for all the interviews in your piece, return to the structure you have mapped out and see if it is still coherent or if the order of interviewees needs to change.
Try to put the strongest interview near the start of the story.

Clarity

Before you start, have a clear idea of how long your finished item is likely to be and roughly how much footage of your interviewees you are likely to use.
Map out a structure for the piece and try to work out a likely order for the interview clips and which points they will address.
Try to limit yourself to three main points for one item.

Tools and Resources

Layouts and Interaction

Readers of newspapers or online news sites have control over how they receive the news. Radio listeners and television viewers have less.

A newspaper reader can choose to begin where they want and an online reader can scroll through a web site’s home page offerings before deciding what specific item to read from start to finish.

But a radio listener or a television viewer has to consume the news the way it is presented and made available.

Online News

Online journalism has certain attributes of print journalism and of broadcast journalism, and other attributes that are unique to the Web.

Frequently Web sites offer news articles to be read, just as they would be in a newspaper. At other times, the audience may select a video clip, so the Web site resembles a TV broadcast.

An online story that takes full advantage of the medium and allows the reader to become a participant, choosing their own path through the information presented on the site.

Newscast

Much as a newspaper editor decides on the layout of pages, the television news producer creates a rundown or lineup for the newscast, listing all stories in the order they will run. The producer’s job is to know exactly how long each story will last because the newscast must begin and end at a specific time.

Once the program starts, the producer makes sure it stays on schedule. If a story runs longer than expected, the producer has to decide what to cut to make up for it.

If a story is dropped, the producer has to provide material to fill the gap.

Layouts and Interaction

TV is about showing the news. Print is more about telling and explaining. Online is about showing, telling, demonstrating, and interacting. To make that possible, online journalists present information in layers, using a variety of story forms.

Online journalists must think on multiple levels at once: words, ideas, story structure, design, interactives, audio, video, photos, news judgment,” says Jonathan Dube, publisher of CyberJournalist.net, a Web site that focuses on how the Internet and other technologies are changing the media.

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Enhancements

Tools that allow the reader to navigate through a 360-degree view of a location can enhance online storytelling, too. So can Flash animation, a software program that allows you to design interactive content: video, graphics, and animation.

For example, the BBC in London created a Web site about illegal drugs and alcohol that allowed the reader to choose a particular drug and dosage, and then select a part of the body - like the brain or heart - to read about the effects of that drug on that organ, as well as safety information. Online sites even have used quizzes and games to tell stories.

Interactive

A more innovative approach uses clickable interactive's or multimedia graphics specifically designed to illustrate a story.

The graphic elements are laid out in linear fashion, but the reader can explore them independently in any order. The same is true of most online “slide-shows,” which combine text and audio with still photographs in a multi-media experience for the user.

Links

Online stories can be enhanced by including links to databases that a user can search.

For example, a story about falling test scores at secondary schools across the country could link to a database of results from all schools. The user could search for a specific school, for all schools in a particular city, or compare the results of different schools.

Online Format

The most basic online-story form has been described as print plus. It’s a text story that includes additional elements like photographs, audio, and video, or hyperlinks to more information.

By embedding links, the journalist can take the reader to additional information on separate Web pages, some of which may be provided by sources outside the news organization, with more background or history.

Tools and Resources

Layouts and Interaction

Guidelines

Because Web-based news sites tend to offer readers many choices, writers should avoid delayed or anecdotal leads that don’t quickly indicate what a story is about.

The lead should give the reader a good reason to continue reading; otherwise, he or she probably will click on another story.

Stories online are generally shorter than newspaper stories.


Feedback

Online journalism also allows readers to respond immediately and directly to the writer or editor via e-mail or even in a live Web chat.

In addition, many sites provide space for readers to post their feedback or opinions, so others can read what they have written and respond.

For example, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) in the United States solicits input for stories both on the air and on line. Listeners are asked to call or e-mail in any additional information.

Guideline

A good guideline is to limit an online story to about 800 words and to keep it all on one page. Studies have found that readers are willing to scroll through text on line; there is no need to force them to click to additional pages for more of the same story.

But to make the text easier to absorb, it is suggested that online writers break the text into more blocks and use more subheads and bullet points to separate ideas than they would in print.

Tools and Resources

Laws and Security

Security

Although there is no law in most countries against recording video or taking photos of a subway platform or police cars on patrol.

That doesn't mean you won't get stopped or questioned by law enforcement officials, who, have a heightened concern about terrorism.

Some countries and even cities, prohibit photography or video recording in certain areas or of certain structures.

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Security

Although reporters may see a story in testing for security vulnerabilities, this can be particularly risky. The research would probably require a certain amount of subterfuge and may well involve a violation of criminal law.

You can expect to be prosecuted, for example, if you test airport security by trying to smuggle a box cutter onboard a passenger jet. In addition, there are laws on the books that prohibit videotaping military installations and nuclear power plants.

Plagiarism and Fair Use

Although you might not know if, copyright
laws, severely restrict the way other peoples' work can be used, even in news
stories.

With video or broadcast material, fair use usually applies if the material is 30 seconds or less. Video can't be used as secondary material, such as location shots; views of people or scenery; or audio.

Much of what defines whether fair use applies is dictated by whether the excerpt goes to the heart of the copyrighted material (if so, it is a violation of fair use) or whether it is merely explanatory.

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Music

When adding music to video and audio segments, be forewarned. Music is
often covered by copyright. You may need permission to use it.

Even Bach or Mozart may be covered by copyright: not the actual compositions, but the particular recording you might want to use.

Capturing

"Capturing copyrighted media content in the process of filming something
else."

If a filmmaker accidentally tapes a cover of the latest Newsweek magazine while following a character past a newsstand, or records a busker or street band playing a known song while shooting a panoramic of a city street or park, she can still use that material to avoid falsifying reality.

Using Copyrighted Material

A film or documentary maker or wishing to make a historical point may want to use words spoken at that time, music associated with the event, or photos or films created at that time.

The producer should seek to license the material, if this is not possible he may seek a limited fair use exemption under the following conditions:

The project was not specifically designed around the material
It serves a vital critical function and there is no viable substitute
The copyright holder is identified
The project does not rely disproportionately on any single source

Violations

The following are clear violations of fair use:

• Photo ripped from The New York Times Web site

• Picture of a magazine cover

• A 3-minute clip from a movie

• A facsimile of a map taken from Google Maps or Mapquest

• Large tracts of text from a research report
Tools and Resources

Impartiality

Being impartial means not being prejudiced towards or against any particular side.

It's not about being bland. It's about stripping out the personal, and allowing the audience the dignity of drawing their own conclusions free from any thought pollution injected by the journalist.

News is about delivering facts that have been tested, sourced, attributed and proven. Impartiality is essential for robust news coverage.

Being Impartial

• This means journalists must strive to:
Reflect a wide range of opinions
Explore conflicting views
Ensure that no relevant perspective is ignored
Avoid any personal preferences over subject matter
Be honest and open about any personal interests/history