Word Lens or Magic?

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This App does what? Just Hit Play!

By: Travis S. Pratt

You’re an American journalist in Jaurez, Mexico and your covering the ongoing drug wars. You’re an American tourist trying to order a beer in Cancun. You don’t know a bit of Spanish and you don’t want to order a Corona. Menu in left hand, Iphone in right hand equals “On the fly video translation,” according to Quest Visual’s Web site promoting their new App called Word Lens.

Let Otavio Good at Quest Visual explain…

Quest Visual has developed the App to work without the use of a cellular signal or wireless internet so the App can standalone on it’s own. For now it has the ability to translate from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. Each separate translator costs five dollars, or ten dollars for both. The translators function within the same App, and Quest Visuals ensures more translators will be released soon. This could be useful in many ways for the mobile journalist or any traveler. Another digital tool in the tool box.

Downloading the free App allows you to test out the service. The trial offers you the ability to reverse words. I’m not quite sure If this will be as useful.

Drow Snel or Cigam?

Otra cerveza, por favor.


“Champagne Wife On A Beer Budget”

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If you are a photographer you may get this a lot…

By Travis S. Pratt

Friday at 5 p.m. the mass exodus begins, actually it’s more like 4:57p.m., the marketing department first, followed by accounting, then comes advertising. One after the other. “Good night,” “have a good evening,” “see ya Monday,” and the one I’ve grown to hate so much “have a good weekend.” I’d like to think that most of these people know when they leave, reporters, editors and photographers are still putting together the next day’s paper.

This Friday was no different, Frederick News-Post staff photographer, Graham Cullen, was in the newsroom finishing up a five-assignment day. He was pounding out cutlines, fielding weekend photo assignment requests and taking it all in stride. Then out of nowhere…

“Do you have any suggestions on what kinda video camera to buy,” asked a newly hired member of X dept.( I’m not protecting her anonymity, literally I have know idea who or where she came from. No introductions, no chit chat. Straight to the chase.)

“I’m buying it for a gift, for someone who …,” she continued.


Cullen stopped typing, looked up and said “whats your budget?”

A few people in class have asked for suggestions on what kinda camera to purchase for the upcoming class, Digital Storytelling, so this blog post is partly my response to that question.

Disclaimer: First, wait and see what Professor Laura Pohl recommends. Secondly, I’m not a gear head or an expert on technology.

As you know recent trends in journalism dictate that you need to do it all yourself. Camera manufacturers are catching on and adding new features to make this possible. Recently, still camera manufacturers have added video and near professional audio to their digital single lens reflex cameras, or DSLRs, as us camera dorks refer to them.

These features are “fill in synonym for game changers here.” If you’ve ever tried to shoot video, collect audio, and manage to make a still photo on the same assignment you either have a back ache or know what I’m getting at.

The most recent series finale of the television show House was shot with a DSLR. Specifically, the Canon 5DmkII, you can read more about that over at Peta Pixel. This article comes complete with a Twitter style interview from House director Greg Yaitanes.

These types of cameras are valued by journalists and movie makers alike because of their small size and low cost. Obviously, the camera kit that a feature film maker would use is slightly different than that of what a multimedia journalist would need to make a three-minute Arts & Living piece, like The Washington Post’s Scene In. The same rules apply, high quality picture and high quality sound.


In Case You Missed the News…

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By: Randy Smith

Multimedia…multimedia…multimedia! Ok, I’m sure your get the point. Since I decided to take the plunge and pursue a career in journalism, this is the one word that has haunted a lot of my twitter feeds and rss alerts.

Many in the industry are trying to drive this point home to all aspiring journalists as well as the seasoned veterans. Be prepared because the evolution has begun and it will be televised…tweeted…updated…broadcasted…podcasted (not sure it that is an actual word…give it a year or two) and #hash-tagged!

Which I don’t mind at all. Why not turn today’s journalists into “one-man bands”? Broadcast television has gone that route as they gradually usher out the cameraman. One person can now control an infinite amount of robotic cameras from the comforts of his/her console as well as control an audio board and video switcher.

After completing my digital journalism issue the advice I got was to learn how to edit and shoot. Becoming a good writer went without saying. It left me slightly intimidated.

That’s why I was happy to see catch this video from one of the many multimedia tweets I receive in my timeline.
Plus I’m a huge fan of Jay-Z…we’re both from Brooklyn! Its got a good beat and you can dance to it.

Go to the Source(rer)

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Sourcerer is a new site is being developed by a team of enterprising graduate journalism students at Northwestern to help readers place local news in context. Online information can often be scattered, incomplete, or just plain wrong, and Sourcerer is an attempt to make sense of a topic based on user’s questions and answers (backed up with external links). A visual timeline will also be included to illustrate the intensity of news coverage on a topic over time, which gives a picture of how a story has evolved, along with dips or spikes in coverage.

While the site hasn’t officially launched yet, you can check out screen shots of what the site will look like on this slideshow. Slide #3 highlights the timeline feature. The site will depend on user participation not only for raising and answering questions, but users will also be able to vote on questions, bumping them to the top.

Sourcerer was developed as part of a larger journalism project at Northwestern, the Medill’s Community Media Innovation Project. The project is an exploration of hyperlocal news, and recently published a pretty impressive report on local media, focusing on Evanston, Ill.

You can download the PDF report here. The key findings were very interesting, and seem to mirror a lot of what we’ve been hearing in our program. One of the recommendations/findings of the group was to “make revenue a priority rather than an afterthought,”, something we’ve been hearing more and more. Knowing your readership (another core idea we’ve been learning) was also important, and interestingly, the project also recommends that comments be not so open-ended. The report found that community members preferred a more structured Q and A format when it came to comments.

I’ll be interested to see how it goes, below is a video presentation of Sourcerer.

Q&A with local editor with AOL’s Patch.com

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By Kevin Chappell

You won’t believe it, but I was able to catch up with my wife the other day. As I mentioned in a previous post, she is the editor for AOL’s Crofton, Md., Patch.com website. Got a chance to ask her a few questions about her new position. First, a little background. Being the editor of a hyperlocal site like Patch is a 24-hour-a-day endeavor. She is responsible for covering everything and anything that happens in Crofton. From school board meetings to the first snow, if it happens in Crofton, she’s there.

In many ways, if you love journalism, nothing could be better. But the question I have is: Can you get too much of a good thing? Here’s our give-and-take (by the way, I haven’t seen her since this interview):

What makes Patch different?

Patch is a highly interactive news site allowing readers to participate in and contribute to local news. One of the great things about Patch is that we are community-oriented so pretty much every story will have a local angle as we aim to fill a void left by the downsizing of local dailies and even the weekly regional newspaper.

How has Patch grown over the past year?

When I started working for Patch.com about three months ago, there were only about 100 live sites across the country. Just this week, Patch announced that it now has more than 600 sites in communities nationwide. That number is expected to grow even more before the years end.

What are the common misperceptions about Patch?

We are not a blog. Patch hires full-time journalists to run each site with experience ranging from recent journalism school graduates with bachelors and masters degrees to the more veteran journalist looking for the new media, interactive experience. Each editor hires a team of around five freelance writers to help cover the community. Patch.com reports and writes on news of interest to their specific community.

Here’s a recent piece that was done about Patch on CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7144076n

A 136-year-old newspaper takes a digital-first approach

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By Barry Gordemer

The Register Citizen can trace its roots back to 1874. The newspaper serves Torrington Conn., an old mill town in the northwestern part of the state. At its peak in the mid-1980s, The Citizen boasted a circulation of 21,000. Today it’s down to 8,000. Like so many other papers across the country, the Internet robbed The Citizen of subscribers. Now it’s taking a “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach.

The new philosophy is digital first, print second. Turns out The Citizen has six times the readership online than it does in print and the company that owns the paper is trying to take advantage of that audience. The Journal Register Company wants to create a hyper-local website to drive new readers and advertisers to The Citizen.

The New York Times reported this week that The Citizen moved out of its 105-year-old headquarters into a new state-of-the-art facility. Then it held a mini town hall meeting of sorts—inviting residents to attend an editorial meeting to suggest story ideas.

The Citizen will also offer courses on blogging and journalism. The paper says it hopes to get residents to write for the online edition as well as create their own blogs. The idea is that community involvement would drive new readers to the website, attracting advertisers that could potentially offset the print edition’s declining revenue.

If the plan works in this small Connecticut town, then the Journal Register Company, that owns 18 newspapers across the country, will try it on a larger scale—which makes The Register Citizen a digital guinea pig in a high-stakes experiment.

Why did we buy these MacBook Pros?

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By Anna Miars

Gone are the days of sitting down at a computer to send e-mails or look at photos. Simple, everyday computing no longer necessitates an actual computer.

Computing’s third major technology wave, which includes smartphones and tablets, will soon outsell laptops and desktop computers.

Research firm, International Data Corporation (IDC), forecasts that handheld devices will overtake use of personal computers as soon as next year.

Published on Dec. 2, 2010, the report, Welcome to the New Mainstream, predicts that more than 330 million smartphones and 42 million media tablets will be sold worldwide in 2011.

If IDC’s estimates are correct, the number of non-PC devices capable of running software applications will outsell PCs within the next 18 months.

The availability of affordable, entry-level smartphones in emerging markets such as China and India will increase the sales of such devices by 24 percent according to IDC.

Tablet sales are expected to more than double next year, and to keep climbing. The tablet phenomenon, as IDC describes it, continues to boom as nine alternatives to the iPad will soon be available for purchase.

Mobility is king

A recent study from mobile app developer Handmark validates the increasing use of mobile devices, supporting IDC’s prediction.

“In a survey of 300,000 mobile consumers, 88 percent of whom owned a device running one the five most popular smartphone operating systems, more than 30 percent said that mobile is the “most important medium” to access breaking news, narrowly followed by desktop web browsers (29 percent), television (21 percent) and newspapers (3 percent).”

“Breaking news happens all throughout the day, and what you have throughout the day is your mobile device,” said Handmark CEO Paul Reddick in a Mashable article titled Smartphone Users Prefer Mobile for Breaking News. “Once you get into the habit of using your mobile … you [can] be in a room with a TV and not turn it on, because you’re reading your news on your mobile device instead.”

The same goes for personal computers. How often do you find yourself using your smartphone while sitting in front of a computer?

“In 2011—for the first time—there will be over 2 billion users on the Internet, and about half of those will access the Internet through a non-PC mobile device—a more than tenfold increase in just the past five years.”

New applications will continue to maximize the utility of smartphones and tablets and accelerate their adoption. IDC predicts that the idea of the “app store” will spread to PC software and continue to inspire enterprise apps.

“The PC-centric era is over,” the IDC report said.


I’m curious if each of you use your smartphone more often than your personal computer to check e-mail, look at photos, access Twitter and Facebook, etc.?

I use my iPhone to write and answer e-mails, check the weather, update my calendar, tweet, etc., much more than my laptop. The only significant time I spend seated in front of a computer is at work (class too!) and even then I find myself using my phone quite a bit.

If you have a chance, please leave a comment with a brief description of your mobile device use. Thanks!

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