Free Multimedia Tool Workshop Updated Handouts

online news association ona logoHey Journalistopians, it’s been a long while, but I wanted to post the handouts and examples I’ll be sharing at this weekend’s Online News Association Parachute Training in Boca Raton, Fla. Feel free to use these in presentations, in the classroom, to line your birdcage — whatever tickles your fancy!

How to Save Your Online Clips

burning newspaperCount on the fact that some of the journalism work living on your news site will go up in smoke. To protect yourself, make sure you’re keeping digital copies of your portfolio. [Photo by Mr. Peebles]

Journo/developer Joe Murphy has a terrific post today with tips on how to save your online clips from disappearing into the ether. News sites often have arbitrary policies and systems regarding what gets kept and what gets thrown out, so make sure you CYA. And if your news org switches content management systems, well, heaven help your old clips.

Head over to Joe’s post for his complete tips, but here’s a shortlist of tips with some of my own thrown in:

-Firstly, you SHOULD be saving your stuff! Trust someone who knows: You absolutely cannot rely on your organization to keep your stuff around. And, if you suddenly get laid off, you can forget about having free access to the text archive.

-Save the text of your article in document files. Make sure your file names are descriptive and contain the date the work published.

-Know that database-backed applications, such as the tools on many site’s “data pages,” cannot be easily saved. For these apps, take various screenshots that demonstrate the tool’s functionality, such as shots of the search interface, individual records, comments features and how it was promoted on the site.

-Keep notes on how a project you worked on contributed to the site in terms of page views and unique visitors (i.e. “The New Jersey dog names database resulted in 1.2 million page views and 350,000 unique visitors over a one-month period.”)

-Make screenshots of your online work using the free Pearl Crescent Page Saver plugin for Firefox. This is an incredible little tool. Or, you can use Scrapbook, which saves a copy of the entire Web page with its images intact (hat tip to Ryan Sholin).

-Become pals with the page design crew to get PDFs of your work that was published in the newspaper (Ryan again). Better yet, get them to tell you where and how to access the PDF archive. If this is unfeasible, invest in an inexpensive flatbed scanner to digitize the pages.

-Keep a backup of your portfolio. Like any important file, you might back it up to an extra hard drive and/or store it on a web server somewhere. I do both.

-Aside from your clips, career experts frequently recommend maintaining a list of key accomplishments. Sometimes, achievements in the newsroom don’t take the tangible form of a “clip.” Keeping a list up to date makes sure you remember what you’ve done and keeps the list fresh in your mind should an opportunity spontaneously present itself. You might have to suddenly answer the question: “So what interesting things have you done during your time at the Poughkeepsie Herald-Tribune-Picayune?”

Catnip for Online Designers with SND’s Best of Multimedia Entries

SND VegasWant to see the best online information design the news industry is producing? Then you might want to tune into the SND Update Blog for the next few days as SND highlights entries from their worldwide Best of Multimedia Design competition.

There’s more awesome design here than you can shake a t-square at, so make sure to take a look!

Check out the entries from:

Entertainment/Lifestyle Off Deadline (The category with the most entries)
Breaking News (Most of the entries here seem to allow advance time to produce, but really nice work nevertheless.)
Lifestyle On Deadline
(Only one survivor here)
Non-Breaking News
Sports Off Deadline

[More at the SND Update Blog]

List of crime maps is updated

crime maps

Hey Journalistopians, just a quick heads up that the Journalistopia Crime Map Directory has been updated with a slew of new crime maps. A lot more folks are getting into the crime map act, including news organizations, neighborhood associations and lone wolf developers (as usual, the list only includes non-police groups).

If you’re developing a crime map or thinking of developing one, you’ll want to explore this list for plenty of dos and don’ts.

[Journalistopia – Online crime maps directory]

Newspaper layoff tracker map

Like me, you probably get the daily bits of newspaper layoff news via Romenesko. Now, the Graphic Designr blog is putting it all together with an interactive map of newspaper layoffs.

The map is color-coded to show approximately how many layoffs occurred where. At the very least we’re finding new, creative uses for interactive maps…

[Hat tip to Mark Potts, who contends we should be placing newspaper layoffs in perspective with the many layoffs occurring in other industries.]

A dream come true: Flash + Google Maps

Have you ever tried to simulate a Google Maps-style map in Flash? I hope you haven’t because you’d still be waking up screaming in the middle of the night after that experience.

So say hello to the new Google Maps API for Flash. The new API allows Flash developers to integrate Google Maps into their Flash applications. This goes beyond simply embedding SWF files in Google Maps info windows; it’s full-blown integration at a programmatic level.

If you want the nitty gritty of how to get started, check out the Flash API documentation.

I can’t wait to see what creative news designers are going to do with this…

Sneak peek: the future of Google Maps

So you think that Google Maps doohickey you built is really cool? Well, you might have to get your map game to the next level because Google Maps is exploring some seriously interesting data layers for their maps application:


Google filed a patent titled “Dynamic Exploration of Maps” that would let users add easy-to-use templates for specific kinds of data, such as crime indexes, average home prices, average noise levels, schools and user ratings.

So start giving some serious thought about what we news sites can do better or differently. I know I will…

[Hat tip to SEO by the Sea]

[More geojournalism in the Maps category]

100 interactive map ideas

googlemap.gifSo have you perchance been sitting at your desk pondering what your next great interactive map is going to be? Mike Pegg at the always-excellent Google Maps Mania blog has you covered.

Mike put together a list some time ago of “100 Things to do with Google Maps Mashups“. The ideas here cover calculating taxi fare, finding a public toilet, getting cheap gas and even determining which way to face to pray toward Mecca.

The best part is that much of these ideas use data that your news site probably already collects or that is readily available to the public. Also, don’t rule out the value of soliciting community contributions either…

[100 Things to do with Google Maps mashup]

Google News is in your neighborhood

googlenews.gifGoogle announced late last night a new feature for Google News that allows users to receive local headlines from their city, state or country of choice.

The feature worked well when I tried it out for Orlando and a few other cities. I’d say this bodes well for small and mid-size publications, since this feature will finally let folks easily find local headlines. Before, Google News was mostly a mishmash of nation and world stories, with online editors hoping to hit on a national story that could get picked up by the aggregator. Follow makersfestival to receive latest updates.

However, — *Tap* *Tap* Is this thing on?WE MUST START GEOCODING STORIES.

Google is starting to do it. EveryBlock is already doing it really well. Topix sorta does it. A few others are doing it too. Groups of engineers have already written scrapes that scan the text of news stories. They’ve written algorithms that detect and process addresses for geocoding. Let’s not re-hash the whole newspapers-are-always-falling-behind speech; just get moving already.

Screenshots of Local Google News at Mashable.

More at TechCrunch about how Topix needs to be very afraid.

Journalistopia crime map directory updated


Hey Journalistopia denizens, just a quick heads up that I’ve been updating the Journalistopia Crime Maps Directory with all sorts of great, new stuff ever since it first appeared back in September. News organizations have definitely been embracing crime data in a big way.

So check out the new additions, and keep the submissions rolling! Crime map directory is here.

Viewing the news as data

adrian holovaty at ONA 2007Live from the ONA conference in Toronto…

Adrian Holovaty looks at a photo of the world’s ugliest dog and sees 1s and 0s.

Displaying a photo of the hideous animal, Holovaty –the big brain behind and the Python framework Django— says there are loads of data in the ugly dog image. Who/what is the subject? Who took the photo? Where was it taken? When was it taken? What kind of camera was used? What colors are in the photos?

So how can that image, if tagged with metadata, give your site a big advantage? A good example is Flickr, which allows users to search photos by all sorts of non-traditional criteria. The result is a site that is stickier and allows a high degree of browsability, a trait that users nowadays are beginning to view as essential, Holovaty said.

News organizations have reporters attending city council meetings, high school sports games and covering local crimes — something Google doesn’t or can’t do. But rather than just having reporters gather facts and fuse them into a “blob” that is unreadable by machines (aka, a news story), Holovaty wants to also see news organizations compiling that information into a database format that can be easily browsed by users.

“We have all those killer advantages, but the tragedy is that we haven’t actually leveraged the information we collect,” Holovaty said.

How to get started

Being that crime databases are all the rage these days –no thanks to Holovaty– here is a set of processes and tips to get one rolling:

-Analyze the raw data you get from the police department.

-List the data’s fields (Date, time, crime type, address, etc.)

-Identify the key concepts. If a user clicks on a field, is it useful to that user to see the data sorted by that criteria? For instance, browsing by date ishelpful, but case numbers are unique and not really browseable.

-Make list pages with multiple records that are browseable by a certain criteria.

-Then, make detail pages for individual crimes.

-Every piece of information needs to have a permalink. Linkability/bookmarkability is critical, not just for users but also for search engines. “Your Google juice will go up,” Holovaty said.

Journalistopia online crime maps directory

crime maps

Crime maps of all flavors are the rage nowadays ever since developer/journalist Adrian Holovaty created the now-famous in May, 2005.

These days, everyone from independent designers to large newspaper companies are creating crime maps, causing severe headaches for police PIOs nationwide. So for all your crime map perusing needs, below is a directory of maps pulled together with tremendous help from the denizens of the Online News Association listserv. If you know of any other neat crime maps, drop a note in the comments. Or if you’re shy, just message me at

Some maps, such as the LA Times’ homicide map, only map killings but go into extraordinary detail for each incident. Others, such as Oakland Crimespotting, pull in a broad range of data. Many of the crime maps –and some of the slickest– were put together by small publications and designers not directly affiliated with news organizations. (NOTE: I did not list online maps created by police agencies.)

You’ll find maps here that have been created using the Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping APIs. You’ll also find maps that are created using anything from Ruby on Rails, Python/Django and PHP to using WYSIWYG tools such as Google My Maps, ZeeMaps and CommunityWalk.

(And on a personal note, please make sure to follow good search engine optimization practices if you build a crime map. Some of these maps are really hard to find without a direct link!)


Auto Crime Map & Alcohol Violations: Minors in Possession Map
Lawrence Journal-World
And the award for most booze sold to minors in Lawrence, Kansas goes to The Hawk at 1340 Ohio St. See it on a map of venues that got busted selling alochol to minors. And, see a Google Map of auto thefts/burglaries, broken down by item value, car type and more.

Arizona Crime Reports
Arizona Republic
Uses a search-form based interface with the Google API

Anniston Crime Map
Anniston Star
Interactive map made with ZeeMaps Homicide Map
Bakersfield Californian
ZeeMaps-based Google Map of homicides with sidebar and multi-colored points

Berkeley CA Crime Log
Unknown interface with multiple pages of Google Maps


Northwest Florida Daily News
Google Map with color-coded markers, filtering options and text from police reports

Boston Crime
Boston Online
Violent crime map with nice detail-view pages and ability to comment
Adrian Holovaty
The original gangsta that started it all

Copenhagen Crime Map
Features a beautiful fullscreen map of crime data. This is one of the most visually engaging crime maps.

Crime in D.C. (Washington)
Some guy called Tom

Crime Watch Newport News
Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Searchable database and interactive map with way cool tag cloud features

Delaware Crime Map
DelwareOnline/The News Journal
Crime map with various search parameters and polygons delineating neighborhood boundaries

Duval County Homicide Data Search
Florida Times-Union
Uses a search-form based interface with the Yahoo Maps API. Maps homicide data only

EvanstonNow Crime Map
Google map with detail record view

Adrian Holovaty and company
Another Holovaty production, this time including highly browseable crime data, inspections, news stories and much more about Chicago, San Francisco and New York. Crime Map
Frenso Bee
Google Map with multi-colored points and a polished interface

Grand Rapids, Michigan Crime Map
John Winkelman
Google Map of crime incidents in Grand Rapids, Michigan created via XML file

Houston Crime Maps
Unknown interface with multiple pages of Google Maps

Kansas City Crime
Kansas City Star
A near-exact duplicate of the Fresno Bee crime map (both are McClatchy papers)

Indy 911 Calls
Indianapolis Star
Yahoo Map of recent 911 calls with description abbreviations and nice police badge icons Crime Map
Lakeland Local, using CommunityWalk
Weekly links to CommunityWalk Google maps with unique icons

LA The Homicide Map, Lost Angeles County victims
Los Angeles Times
An intensely statistical look at homicide information in Los Angeles complete with photos and short bios about many of the victims

Memphis Crime Tracker
Commercial Appeal
Browseable crime data with somewhat of a clunky search/browse interface. Uses the Yahoo! Maps API.
A series of searchable Google Maps using slick icons

Monitor Cuidadano

Interactive crime map of the city of Corboda, Argentina (in Spanish) done using Flash

Nashville Crime Locator
The Tennessean
Simple Google map with date search and limit by crime type functionality.

Newark Crime
The Star-Ledger
An in-depth crime map with loads of interesting statistical graphics. Built using the ASP.NET framework.

New Haven Crime Log
New Haven Independent
Drills down deep into crime categories with multiple Google Maps, a color-based severity scale and an hour-by-hour time slider

Oakland Crimespotting
Stamen Design
A slickly designed map using Microsoft Virtual Earth, featuring a chronological slider and e-mail alerts

Orlando Crime Map
Orlando Sentinel
Crime map of Orlando incidents, updated weekly, with two ways to search: via Google Map menu or via browsing.

Paso Robles Crime Map
The Tribune
Easy-to-use searchable map with crime details and IRC-channel-esque color palette.
Joshua B. Plotkin with Amir Karger
Uses data from the Philadelphia Inquirer to map searchable data from 2006 and 1996

Philadelphia Homicides
Philadelphia Inquirer
Flash-based interactive map containing age and weapon data

Gathers crime reports for various cities and actively encourages users to help catch criminals. Displays mugshots.

Uses search forms to navigate a series of Google Maps; also has an interesting crime graph generator

Richmond-Area Homicide Report
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Capsio-built map of homicides in the Richmond area

Sacramento Bee CrimeMapper
Sacramento Bee
Crime map with proximity search (nice!) and various other search criteria (funky police bee mascot included).

San Joaquin County Crime Map
San Joaquin Media Group
Nearly duplicates the navigation and look of (but in a darker hue)

Seattle 911 Calls
Plots the latest 911 calls on a Google map

Spec’s Police Blotter
Hamilton Spectator
A weekly Google My Maps map of the Spectator’s police blotter
Blotter Link (Click The Spec’s Police Blotter” link under “What’s Hot” at

Springfield (Ore.) crime map
The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.
Google Map with hand-edited incident descriptions covering the previous week

A national aggregator of mapped crime data featuring reports from nearly every U.S. city.

TBO Crime Tracker
Tampa Tribune
A map of law enforcement calls using a Django-based back end

Toronto Marijuana Grow Operations & Homicides Since 2005
Toronto Star
Two Google Map-based plotting killings and marijuana houses with some custom Javascript in the sidebar. LocalExplorer
Washington Post

Interactive map with very useful marker clustering and loads of other community data

Wichita Crime Map
Wichita Eagle
Simple Google map showing the last day’s crime reports


More geotopia in the Maps category. More lists and tutorials in the Journalistopia Tutorials category.