Poll: Many News Site Readers Are Likely Early Adopters [Newsosaur]

From Alan Mutter: “Far from being fuddy-duddy Luddites, newspaper website visitors actually appear to be early and passionate technology adopters.

The surprisingly high interest in high tech among online news consumers is revealed in a ground-breaking poll by Greg Harmon of ITZ Belden, who discovered that news-site visitors own 1.5 times more smart phones than the average American and are eager to get their hands on the new iPad.”

Read more at Reflections Of A Newsosaur

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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 https://journalistopia.com/swiping-dating-apps/ in Boca Raton, Fla. Feel free to use these in presentations, in the classroom, to line your birdcage — whatever tickles your fancy!

One Key Piece of Advice for All Journalists

David Cohn has posted a great series of interviews with several media innovators over at his blog.  But there is one particular piece of advice from Cohn’s interview with Adrian Holovaty (4:15 in) that I think needs to be heard by both aspiring journalists and seasoned professionals, no matter what their level of multimedia skill:

“Do a side project. Pick something that you’re passionate about and make a web site about it. […]  And make it something you actually care about so that you’ll have the incentive to do a good job.”

Video interview is here:

[Video by David Cohn]

For Holovaty, a passion project like ChicagoCrime.org led to international recognition. For me, building a simple six-page web site  in college for the Hispanic Student Association (a Python guru, I am not) led to the beginning of my online media career, as well as meeting some of my favorite Latin recording artists, many new friends and –last but most assuredly not least– my lovely wife. See? Passion projects can even lead to finding true love.

In the end, the knowledge you gain from creating your own site around your passion is something that cannot be acquired by working at a large media site or sitting in a journalism classroom.

So what’s your project? Or what’s it going to be?

On Tinkering

Some day, I’ll tell you folks the story of how I accidentally launched my online journalism career by building a seat-of-the-pants web site for the Hispanic Student Association in college using Adobe GoLive 6.0 (don’t make fun of me, dammit!).

In the meantime, XKCD says it best:


(BTW, Perl is a programming language sometimes used for web application development.)

[XKCD: 11th Grade]

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?”

New Tableizer! Tool Turns Spreadsheets into HTML Charts

Web producers here in our newsroom often have to throw up quick charts of data online, but hand-editing a table from a spreadsheet or exporting it from Office or Dreamweaver can be a time-consuming endeavor.

Well, now you have Tableize!, a time-saving tool that lets you copy/paste spreadsheet cells, click a button and –voila!– instant HTML tables you can quickly put online.

I put together Tableize! mostly in my spare time with PHP and a bit of script.aculo.us. The tool is a more modern version of the very talented Ray Villalobos’s long-standing Table Tango tool, which saved our butts plenty of times here in the Orlando newsroom, so much credit and respect to Ray for his original idea.

If you like Tableize!, please share it with others who might benefit. And do let me know if you spot any bugs or have suggestions for the tool. Enjoy!

[Tableize! – A quick tool for creating HTML tables out of spreadsheet data]

When is Working for Free OK?

The New York Times Shifting Careers blog has an article that should be of interest to writers and web designers who are thinking of going the freelance route. Michelle Goodman, author of ‘My So-Called Freelance Life,’ has written a guest post outlining how doing freelance work for free –in certain instances– can benefit your freelance career. She also describes how to spot the many junk offers.

Goodman is by no means an advocate of not being compensated for work. But with the slew of non-paid work-just-for-exposure-or-experience offers floating around out there, Goodman has identified what some of the good opportunities are:

You have no clients or portfolio. If you left your staff position without any customer testimonials or work samples, you may have to do a freebie or three for a worthy small business to prove to paying clients that you’ve done this before. Pick short-term projects (several days, tops) so you’re not stuck working pro bono until the next decade.

There’s a wealth of more excellent freelance advice at Goodman’s article.

Journalistopia is off to España, Greece

I’m taking a break! As you may recall, yours truly got married back in July, but Mrs. Journalistopia and I never got to go on our honeymoon. So we’re off on a two-week romp through Europe! We’re flying tomorrow to Venice for a night, then on to a week-long cruise of the Greek Isles topped off with three days in Barcelona and four days in Madrid. And the wife actually convinced me to leave the ol’ laptop behind…*shudder*.

So if you know of any must-see spots in Madrid or Barcelona (and recommendations for the best newspapers and magazines to read while I’m there), drop me a line in the comments! We’ll be staying in Las Ramblas in Barcelona and in the heart of downtown Madrid. Definitely looking forward to churros for breakfast.

Hasta luegos mi amigos! See you in November!

[Photo of downtown Madrid by cuellar]

Multimedia Job Openings in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale

Hey Journalistopians, opportunity is a-knockin’! The Orlando Sentinel, my esteemed employer, has a job opening for a rockin’ Flashionista multimedia artist (who just so happens to share the cube next to me). Additionally, the Sun-Sentinel, our sister paper down in South Florida, has an opening for a web developer.

So if you want to rock your multimedia skills in a couple of towns where the weather calls for shorts all year long, then drop me a line at dsanchezATorlandosentinel.com. If you’d rather not e-mail, drop me a line at the office at 407-418-5984. On to the job descriptions:

Re: Flash designer job description

Orlando Sentinel Multimedia Artist
The Orlando Sentinel is seeking a multimedia artist to create explanatory graphics across publishing platforms. We’re looking for a visual ambassador for the newsroom, someone who can move easily between print and online teams. We’ll be counting on you to foster an experimental mindset in others, maximizing the interactive potential of both daily stories and long-term projects.

Candidates must posses:
• Proficiency in Flash and Adobe’s Creative Suite. Design, photography, audio/video editing or coding skills are a plus.
• The ability to conduct interviews, gather research and report breaking news onsite.
• A bachelor’s degree, preferably in journalism or new media studies, or equivalent related experience.
• One to three years of experience as an artist for a medium or large circulation daily newspaper


Sun-Sentinel Web Developer
The Sun-Sentinel, a subsidiary of Tribune Company, is seeking a full time Web Content and Applications Developer to develop, operate and maintain multiple websites, including portals, e-commerce, and content management systems (CMS).

This person will develop database applications, e-commerce solutions and templates for Sun-Sentinel online products.They will have assist from the best app developers as well.

Working in the product-development department, the successful candidate will work on a wide variety of projects with a team of local designers, journalists and a central technology staff.

Position Responsibilities:

Participates in product-development project teams by providing technical expertise. Creates and develops relational databases that serve the information needs of our Web users. Creates and supports e-commerce projects.

Qualifications & Requirements:

Strong skills in HTML and CSS, internet file formats and web coding concepts.

Working knowledge of relational databases and how they are used on the Web.

Working knowledge of prototyping tools and scripting languages including JSP, PHP, Java and XML.

Good understanding of Web usability and user information interface, with a strong user/consumer orientation.

Expertise in the following areas is a major plus: e-commerce solutions; various programming languages, including Perl or Python; Google Maps JavaScript API.

Experience developing Flash multimedia projects, including actionscripting, a plus.

Ability to handle multiple projects in a fast-paced environment with a high level of service orientation.

Communicates technical concepts clearly and effectively and enjoys working in a collaborative environment with non-technical staff members.

Translate strategy, business requirements and consumer research findings into products that lead to exceptional customer experiences.

Keeps up to date on technological advances.

Bachelor Degree in design, journalism, computer science, business administration, engineering or related discipline.


Interested? Shoot me a note at dsanchezATorlandosentinel.com. Or if you’d rather not e-mail, drop me a line at 407-418-5984.

Journalistopia on Local6’s Flashpoint

A quick aside for a self-plug…

Yours truly appeared as a guest last Sunday on Flashpoint, a local-affairs discussion show on Local6 (CBS affiliate) to discuss how social media is influencing the 2008 election. We talked about the candidates’ outreach to younger voters and dissected the McCain and Obama campaigns’ Web sites on the air.

Check out the video (and skip ahead to 00:50 or you’ll see that blank TV screen). Video is HERE.

And now, back to Tropical Storm Fay here in Orlando…