Reminder again: My blog has moved

Perhaps due to a server glitch, some blog/email subscribers to this blog did not get the previous reminder. Here I’m sending it out again:

Thanks for subscribing to I have moved to a self-hosted blog and will cease publishing to the wordpress account. If you have found information and posts on my blog useful, please follow or subscribe to my blog at

If you are interested – the latest post I posted to is vs. Google Fusion Tables: A comparison review of online data visualization tools

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Dear followers/subscribers: My WordPress blog has moved

Thanks for subscribing to I have moved to a self-hosted blog and will cease publishing to the wordpress account. If you have found information and posts on my blog useful, please follow or subscribe to my blog at

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Future of journalism profession lies with mobile, not newsprint

Amid the string of sad news about big-name newspaper folding or cutting jobs, I finally saw hope and proof for a bright future of journalism profession – people still demand journalism contents, on mobile.

Two more newspapers falling by the wayside

We have become numb to hearing about newspapers struggling and folding; yet in the past week, two such news caught much attention on Twitter and the web:

  • The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, one of the nation’s oldest newspapers, will offer print editions three days a week instead of seven, starting in the fall.
  • Postmedia Network Canada Corp., the owner of several big-city dailies across the Canada, said it will cease publishing the Sunday editions of certain titles and cut unspecified number of jobs in its newsrooms.

Hope is on the horizon for journalism

How do I talk about such news with my journalism students? I always tell them that newspaper industry may be dying, but the journalism profession is still flourishing: strong demands exist elsewhere for journalism contents, such as mobile.

A news I read today seems to corroborate my argument: expects half audience to be via mobile by 2015. The managing director of Financial Times said, “We have to get use to the idea that the future of news publishing is on mobile.”

In a similar vein, News Corp’s UK newspaper The Times could be read mostly digitally by 2014. Look at the graph below to see Times’ print vs. digital subscription numbers. This graph shows that The Times, just like Rupert Murdoch wanted, is progressively – if slowly – becoming a business with a higher degree of guaranteed revenue certainty.

And the catch is…

The managing director said, “Publishers are only just getting used to the desktop, but the audience has moved on.” I believe that is a challenge for both the industry and the journalism education. The FT managing director said they need to tweak what they do; likewise, journalism educators also need to tweak what they teach.

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One, and only one, CSU campus offers a multimedia journalism program

Among the 10 California State University campuses that has an accredited journalism program, CSU Long Beach is the only school that offers a multimedia journalism program. This is what I found out when updating the list of multimedia journalism programs in U.S.

According to my criteria of multimedia journalism program, this is a “fully integrated” multimedia journalism program: it has a dedicated multimedia journalism course, “Introduction to Online Media,” AND it doesn’t have separate tracks such as print/broadcast/magazine.

It is interesting to note that this program at CSU Long Beach adopted its current degree requirements in fall 2011; among the changes is the addition of “Introduction to Online Media” as a required course.

The other nine CSU campuses I examined are CSU Chico, CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Fresno, CSU Fullerton, CSU Hayward, CSU LA, CSU Northridge, CSU Sacramento, CSU Bakersfield. This list is from the 2010 national survey of 483 journalism programs, which was published at Journalism & Mass Communication Educator (winter 2011).

It surprises me that none of these nine schools has a multimedia journalism program (per my definition): no “fully integrated” ones, no “partly integrated” ones, no “silos,” and rarely could I find electives in multimedia journalism courses. CSU Northridge has a few multimedia journalism courses: “Daily Sundial Practicum” and “Special Topic: New Media.” However, the special topic is not a required course, and the practicum is not required of all concentrations (newspaper, broadcast, magazine, etc.).

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Comparing two free tools for online multimedia story presentation – without having to learn web design and flash

Two website creation tools provide a solution to create flash-like, interactive webpages to present multimedia journalism stories. I compared these tools for their pros and cons in presenting a multimedia story which includes typical contents such as text, video, audio, slideshow, and Google map.

And I did it without having to know anything about web design and flash animation – this is a great solution to multimedia journalists who need a quick and easy way to deliver contents on the web.

What is an online webpage editor?

Wix and IM Creator are two “drag-and-drop” online editors that do a similar job: insert contents to web pages (blank or with template), assemble them into a mini website, then publish and share it online – free of charge. And you don’t need to download any program or software to run on your computer – everything is done online.

This is how IM Creator explains their product:

IM-Creator is a new way to create your website: choose a design, insert your content and publish it to the world – all in one simple, clear and seamless process. We initially built IM-Creator as a solution for our friends & family- they were in need of a website but the process frustrated them. It was just too complicated, expensive and confusing- they spent time & money but many of them gave up even before completing the process.

Test use of the two editors: A multimedia story about Tent City

Tent City is a makeshift settlement for homeless people in Lakewood, New Jersey. Over the past few years, this small village has attracted national media attention, as it demonstrates what the economy is doing to the people.

I pulled together some contents about Tent City: a feature article, a video, some photos for a slideshow, and audio interviews of the founder and residents; I also created an interactive Google map showing the location of Tent City.

These contents are put together to produce two multimedia online stories – two versions of the same story, using Wix and IM Creator, respectively. Click the screen shots below to access the two stories: the first one is done with Wix, the second one IM Creator.

Comparing pros and cons of Wix and IM Creator

Both did a good and quick job to create a multimedia project. Here’s some observations of some pros and cons of each editor – for purpose of multimedia story presentation:

Wix Pros: Wix has options to customize almost everything – buttons, links, pictures, text styles, etc. For instance, it has a collection of flash-like navigation buttons and each can be further customized. Wix also allows you to upload audio clips, embed the uploaded audio clips with playback controls which also come with different styles and options.

Wix Cons: The biggest con of Wix is the limited function of Google map – you cannot embed a self-made interactive Google map to the web page. You can only create a simple map using the included template, which is very limited in its function. This seems to be understandable in that this tool was not created with multimedia journalists in mind.

IM Creator Pros: The single biggest pro, in my eyes, is the ability to embed interactive Google map. You may want to check out the map I created showing the location of Tent City in the second version created with IM Creator.

IM Creator Cons: It has some major cons. One such con is that you cannot upload audio clips directly to an IM Creator project. You have to make use of a third-party website called SoundCloud: create an account there, upload your audio, get a link for that audio, then go back to the IM Creator project.

And IM Creator is limited in customization: there’s not much you can do to customize the look of elements; and I had a difficult time trying to customize the look of the audio playback controls on the page: they come with the default playback control from SoundCould which does not look nice for our purposes.

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Critiquing student audio slideshow projects (1)

The good: a variety of close-up shots showing details, which adds to the visual variety of the slideshow; the producer also paid attention to matching the photos with interview narration – for instance, when the girl says in the interview that “it is also important to communicate with the kitchen…,” there is a photo showing her talking to people in the kitchen.

The not-so-good: no nat sound; the piece could’ve included some typical sound in the restaurant to break the narration which runs from start to finish. The producer could use some nat sound to open the piece, and to intersperse with the narration.

The interesting: this slideshow is a student production as part of a mid-term exam, and it comes with a text story on one webpage. What interests me about this project is that on that webpage, next to the article, the student also writes several “highlights” of the slideshow video, which is a good idea to entice people to watch the slideshow.

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How to shoot photos for an audio slideshow

A recent post at Poynter lists out the five types of photos that make for good visuals in an audio slideshow: the scene setter, the medium shot, the portrait, capturing details, and capturing action. While these are good observations, they are not new to video professionals who routinely practice these “tips” when shooting b-rolls.

And this speaks to the novelty nature of audio slideshows, that many people are not certain how to use this relatively new form of content production and presentation.

What are the five types of photos that make for great slideshow visuals?

The slideshow being discussed here is an NPR audio slideshow story about the impact of the stimulus bill on a rural health clinic. Watch the slideshow first, then check out five photos, each representing one type, that the above-mentioned post discussed. It should be noted that I could not locate the “shot one” photo in the slideshow – it may be that the producer made some editing changes after the post was written.

Continue reading

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