Many handymen have a favorite wrench or drill they adore and always keep with them. Well, journo-geeks are no exception.
Below is a shortlist of more than 25 of my favorite (and mostly free) multimedia tools. I put together this list for a session on new media tools that I led Saturday at a multimedia workshop hosted by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors.
Hate my picks? Love em? I’d love to hear your favorites, so please share in the comments!
Here’s a peek at some of my personal favorites:
UStream.TV – http://www.ustream.tv
Streams live video from your laptop and camera and creates an embeddable player with chats.
Mogulus – http://www.mogulus.com
A live streaming service similar to Ustream.TV that allows you to have multiple producers at a time creating a live show.
Qik – http://qik.com
A service that allows you to easily stream live from many video-enabled cell phones. Hook up an external microphone or audio pool feed to it, and you’ll have reporters recording live video like a rock star.
Becoming a power user on some of these social bookmarking sites can bring big traffic to your content if it strikes a chord with your “friends” on these sites. These are just some of the top services:
Digg – http://digg.com/
StumbleUpon (Make sure to try the toolbar!) – http://www.stumbleupon.com/
Reddit - http://www.reddit.com/
NewsVine – http://www.newsvine.com/
Delicious (Try the Firefox plugin) – http://delicious.com/
Tailrank – http://tailrank.com/
VuVox – http://www.vuvox.com
Creates stunning multimedia timelines that let you embed slideshows, video and more.
Dipity – http://www.dipity.com
An embeddable timeline app that is great for timelines with a lot of points and detail.
Soundslides – http://soundslides.com
A great and inexpensive tool for creating impressive audio slideshows.
Picnik – http://www.picnik.com
A free, simple web-based photo editor that is perfect for turning your whole newsroom into web producers without dropping $200 for Photoshop Elements. Has a nice Firefox plugin and syncs up to Flickr.
Pixlr – http://www.pixlr.com
A web-based photo editor that is extremely robust and similar to Photoshop.
Photoshop Express – https://www.photoshop.com/express
Provides many of Photoshop’s features in a free web-based editing tool.
More great image editors reviewed here: http://sixrevisions.com/tools/web-based-image-editors
Flickr – http://www.flickr.com
Not just a great place to share and promote your photo work, it’s also my top source for Creative Commons photos used on this blog.
Firefox Web Developer Toolbar – https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/60
Has a pixel ruler (how wide is that box?), element inspector, CSS editor and much more.
Firebug – https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1843
A Firefox plugin that can pick apart a Web site and let you edit HTML/CSS on the fly to fiddle with a design. Try with Yslow.
FireFTP – http://fireftp.mozdev.org/
An easy and free FTP client that works right inside Firefox.
You have noticed all this stuff is for the Firefox web browser, right? Just making sure!
Notepad++ (For PCs) – http://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net
A much better text editor for working with HTML/CSS and virtually any kind of code such as PHP, Python, Ruby and more. Adds colors to your code and features tabs and macros. I refuse to use crash-prone, resource-hoggin’ Dreamweaver to write any code!
Tableizer! – http://tableizer.journalistopia.com
Quickly turns spreadsheets into HTML tables you can put online. Built by yours truly!
Wordle – http://www.wordle.net
Create beautiful “tag clouds” out of a block of text.
Cover It Live – http://www.coveritlive.com
Provide liveblogging updates and host web chats with an embeddable widget. Lets multiple producers help with a chat.
Bloglines Beta and Google Reader – http://beta.bloglines.com and http://www.google.com/reader
Don’t hop from site to site. Use an RSS reader to bring the news to you. I’m a Bloglines Beta user, but Google Reader is also an excellent choice.
Audacity – http://audacity.sourceforge.net
A powerful, free audio-editing suite used by many multimedia producers.
Media-Convert – http://media-convert.com
Converts an enormous array of files. Perfect for mysterious video or audio formats.
Joomla and Drupal -
Two of the top free, open-source content-management sytems available to creators who want more than just a blog. Some major sites are using these tools. You can tweak them as much as you like, or use them right out of the box, depending on your needs.
(PLUS: Bill Mitchell of Poynter Online convinced me Saturday that a defined framework for making ethical decisions is as important a “tool” as any web app. Hence, I give you the Poynter Ethics Tool and Ethics Hotline, which is like having your personal, on-call anti-stupid-decision counselor.)